Author Archives: aharmlessdrudge

About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.

Vancouver International Film Festival 2016

Last update 11 October, 2016. As usual, most of my reviews will sacrifice sober  judgement and circumspect analysis in favor of intemperate passion and my corrupt personal  taste. Otherwise consider my opinions to be completely arbitrary. But don’t take my … Continue reading

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Two films worth seeing

Oh, yeah. The new Star Wars is just about out. But before leaping on board the starship Fantastic Nonsense and drowning in its swimming pool of soda pop, check out two docudramas also showing at your local film-plex. The first … Continue reading

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Resisting evil: Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog, I described the famous Milgram experiment that revealed the tendency of humans to obey authority, even when that obedience led to inflicting intense pain on others. The reactions to this apparently dour news ranged … Continue reading

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Resisting evil: Part 1

Early in the morning of June 1, 1962, in the Israeli town of Ramla, prison officials executed Adolf Eichmann. It had been just over two years since Israeli agents had kidnapped the war criminal and smuggled him from Argentina to … Continue reading

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VIFF 2015 Reviews

8 October 2015 With these last   I am    done. 50 films reviewed below. Best So Far 45 Years Taut drama featuring two of the best actors around. The Daughter Based on the Ibsen play, The Wild Duck. Experimenter. Exam nightmares … Continue reading

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Testing, testing . . . .

In his book Bad Science, columnist and psychiatrist Ben Goldacre presents the following simple problem. (I have modified it a bit, but the basic idea is the same.) I have a deck of 100 index cards. On one side of … Continue reading

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William Tanner and the Peterloo Massacre

On the Sixteenth of August, 1819, a crowd of some 80,000 gathered on St. Peter’s field in Manchester. Their main purpose — besides enjoying the uncommonly good weather — was to demand reform of the rigid parliamentary rules that disenfranchised … Continue reading

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Vancouver International Film Festival: 2014 Reviews: Oct 4 Update

Updated October 4. But not fully. Some reviews are  missing, but I think I have the full list. I should count them some day soon. Below, you will see a heading “Recommended”. Under it, you will see a short list … Continue reading

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Canada’s elections system aint broke.

Canadians are baffled by the chaos of American federal elections  in which 50 different jurisdictions pick through a snowstorm of hanging chads in an attempt to decide which party each state will send to the electoral college which in turn … Continue reading

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Four things that Americans desperately need

Before anything else, let me say it: I am not anti-American.  True, the U.S. political system hosts some nasties, but on the whole Americans are decent, friendly and clean. As opposed to the British (who are decent), the Italians (who … Continue reading

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