In some ways, at least. Our old friend Hans Rosling (previous Contrarian appearances here, here, here, and here) brings us up to date, and highlights the amazing recent prograss in (parts of) Ethiopia: Rosling's Gapminder data visualization software now has some tools you can download to your own computer....

Huffington Post's Canadian edition yesterday published an investigative report by a team of student journalists from the University of King's College detailing the housing crisis facing Nova Scotians with intelectual disabilities. There is not enough room in the system for all of the people who need a place to live. They languish on waiting lists that are hundreds of names long. Their families, in turn, must support them with scant financial, caregiving or community programming resources. Eventually the families get too old or sick to do it, making the situation for their relatives in rehab even worse. With so little room, placements...

Jon Stone writes: Thanks for sharing that wonderful video. It is inspiring to see what creative minds can do when faced with a challenge. There have been some astonishinglynegativecomments posted on various web sites with respect to the recent generosity of the Fountain family in creating the endowment for Dalhousie's performing arts program. The gist of much of the derogatory discussion was that there is no value in training people in performance skills. Well, here is one excellent example of the value of performers to society. I won't be surprised if this goes viral and breaks all records for fundraising for the Janeway. [Update]...

Newfoundland has always had way better tourism ads than Nova Scotia (or pretty much anywhere else on the planet for that matter). Now it turns out they have way better children's hospital ads, too. (Stay with this at least until the music starts, about five minutes in. Hilarious.) [Video link]. H/T Calvert's own Jenn Power....

Take this one-minute eye test. Right now. On your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Designed by Toronto ad agency Agency DraftFCB Toronto. Via Digg....

Not surprisingly, yesterday's Contrarian post on the furore over Rehtaeh Parsons' death has produced a lot of email, pro and con. Much of the angry reaction appeared on Twitter, where Contrarian tweets as @kempthead. Before sampling the reader response, two important preliminaries: What Rehtaeh's family has been through this week is about as awful as human experience gets. They have been loyal in support of their daughter, and courageous in their rejection of vigilante action against those accused of abusing her. Whatever one's views on the issues I raised, compassion for this family ought to be universal. As I said yesterday,  if you or...

What if the cops and prosecutors were right? What if competent RCMP officers carried out a conscientious investigation of allegations that Rehtaeh Parsons was sexually assaulted, and that a pornographic photo of the event had circulated among her acquaintances, before concluding there was no prospect of a conviction in the case? Because we cherish freedom and abhor wrongful convictions, we set a high bar for criminal convictions. Accused persons must always be presumed innocent. To convict them, evidence presented in court must satisfy a judge or jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt—not a frivolous or fanciful doubt, or one based on prejudice...

"To love someone," wrote Jean Vanier, "is to show them their beauty, their worth, and their importance." That can be a tall order, but a few Halifax members of the Asperger's Syndrome Parents' Empowerment Network give it a good shot in this short video, produced by Halifax filmmakers John Hillis, Michael MacDonald, Caley MacLennan, Kimberlee McTaggert, Andrew Starzomski, and Amy Spurway: H/T: Valerie Patterson...

Do wind farms make some people sick? Or do false claims of a connection between wind farms and illness make people sick? The question arises because opponents of wind farms often contend they cause illness, but scientific studies have consistently found little or no evidence to support such a connection. [This report by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is typical.*] Now a team of public health researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia has collected every known public complaint of wind farm-induced illness in that country (those filed with the wind companies themselves, those filed with three government commissions, and those...

In Merriam-Webster's online vocabulary quiz, sixty-somethings blow the competition away: Take that, whippersnappers!...