On Shovelling and Other Duties


Recently I was shovelling our car out of a pile of snow. This was, as usual, a neighbourhood bonding exercise: middle-aged men and women like to take breaks from shovelling, and like to catch up on family events. One neighbour asked me about my family’s holidays, and I asked about her family, and so on. Then she asked me about my job as Dean, how long was it for, how long had I done it and so forth.

I told her I have been doing my job for five years now and had agreed to do another five-year term. With a puzzled expression, my neighbour then asked me the same question many of my family and friends, and indeed my University colleagues ask me: What does a Dean do? (more…)

Homeopathy: Illusion, Delusion or Solution?

Mini-Science logo Guest columnist Joe Schwarcz, Director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society, puts the sense back into common sense. On April 7, his talk “Science and the Paranormal”  opens the 2010 series of Mini-Science, “Pseudoscience: From Quirks to Quacks.” Space is limited; register now for Mini-Science 2010.

Living in New York City can undoubtedly be stressful.  So it is not too surprising that in many a pharmacy you’ll find “New York Stress Tabs.”  The label describes the product as a “homeopathic lozenge designed to manage daily stresses related to sleep, work, relationships, travel, hangover, over-indulgence and pre-menstrual syndrome.”  The instructions suggest that a lozenge be dissolved in the mouth and that the process be repeated hourly as needed.  New York must indeed be a very stressful place.

What magical ingredients can accomplish these wonderful stress-relieving feats?  The label reveals the presence of aconite and strychnine, two classic poisons!  (more…)

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