Blog Posts

You should watch Haphead

Recently one of the vloggers I follow, Nicole Coenen, tweeted about a video series she’s in. It’s called Haphead, and it’s an 8-part miniseries set in 2025 about young people, video games, and the pace of change. I’m a science fiction fan (big surprise, that), so I was immediately intrigued. I started watching the first episode … and I was hooked. As in, it has been a while since a TV show has so effortlessly drawn me into its world and made me want to watch more.

Haters gonna hate: we need Ontario's new sex ed curriculum

Ontario’s new health and physical education curriculum landed today. As with all curriculum documents, you can read it yourself. This marks the first revised curriculum since 1998/1999. I remember in 2010 being disappointed when the McGuinty government backtracked hard on its revised curriculum. Both Premier Wynne and Minister of Education Liz Sandals seem pretty committed to keeping this one around, however, and that’s a very good thing.

The problem with teaching STEM

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have announced they have evidence that mice can pass traits to offspring through bacteria’s DNA. That’s it, guys, I’m done. I took biology in high school, and enjoyed it, even though it is the squishiest of the sciences. I remember learning about genes and DNA and inheritance and Punnett squares. In the textbooks, it all looks so cut-and-dried. But it has been simplified to the point of being almost-but-not-quite a lie.

Just K1, P1 for 1115 days

I taught myself continental style last week, mostly on a whim. I can say things like this, because I have become fairly proficient at knitting. See, today marks exactly three years since I learned how to knit. Learning to knit changed my life. I never saw it coming. And since I started learning, I have never stopped. So, why the continental style?

Is this the future? I like it

Last time … on Ben’s blog! I got a Nexus 5. I spent most of that post rambling about why I got a new phone, why I chose the Nexus 5, and my initial reactions to unboxing the phone. Now I’ll go into more depth regarding my thoughts on the Nexus’ hardware and the software—Android 5.0, codenamed Lollipop.

New phone: Nexus 5

I gave in and bought a new phone last week. It arrived on Tuesday. Specifically, I bought a 32 GB black Nexus 5 from the Google Play Store. My former (and first) smartphone was a Samsung Galaxy Captivate (that is, the original Galaxy S phone). I don’t think it ever received an update beyond Android 2.2—I don’t know, though, because I eventually grew brave enough to flash CyanogenMod to it, freeing me from the tyranny of TouchWiz, and there was much rejoicing.

Currently Reading

Book Reviews

Far From the Madding Crowd cover image

I learned I’d prefer to save my Hardy reading for the summer. There is nothing better than being able to read Hardy outside in summer, when the warmth and greenery makes it easier to imagine the bucolic setting of the Wessex novels. Plus, having the day available for reading allows me to sink my teeth into novels like Far from the Madding Crowd, which are meant to be read in big gulps rather than sipped here and there as free time allows. I’ll re-read this one day, in a summer, and I know I will…

Us Conductors

Sean Michaels

Us Conductors cover image

Us Conductors notably plays fast and loose with its label as historical fiction. Michaels freely admits in his Author’s Note that the Termen he depicts is highly fictionalized—no kung fu or murder is on record, as far as we know—and points the reader in the direction of a more vanilla accounting of Termen’s real life. It seems, sometimes, like authors of historical fiction can’t win. No matter how close one adheres to historical fact, one invariably becomes the target of a pedant who wants to note…

The Tao of Pooh

Benjamin Hoff

The Tao of Pooh cover image

It was a Friday; I wasn’t working, I’m a little behind on my read count, so I took this off the stack. It looked short and light enough to finish in an afternoon. This need to achieve things rather than “living in the moment” of simply existing and enjoying the book goes against the principles of Taoism, of course. But I never claimed to be Pooh Bear.

The Tao of Pooh is a short book written before I was born that purports to elucidate certain concepts related to Taoism through the characters and…

The Jennifer Morgue cover image

Did you finish The Atrocity Archives and think, “Gee, I liked this magical computational spoof on James Bond quite a lot, but I wish it had been Bondier and spoofier?” Well, if you did, then The Jennifer Morgue is the Laundry Files novel for you.

I didn’t—so keep that in mind when I say things like, “All I wanted to do with my life was read this book.”

I am not a Bond fan. I’ve never had a Bond film marathon. In fact, aside from seeing Skyfall in theatres with friends and (maybe) Casino Royale, I…


Kurt Vonnegut

Jailbird cover image

One of the central conceits of Jailbird is that the RAMJAC corporation seems to own everything, and it is owned by Mrs. Jack Graham, a reclusive woman whom few people have met in person and who gives orders by telephone, confirming them by mailing a letter to her subordinates signed by fingerprints from both hands. That’s weird, right?

Problem is, this is a Vonnegut novel, so it’s not nearly weird enough.

Walter F. Starbuck is a Harvard man, a minor public servant who does time in a white-collar…

Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3) cover image

Centuries after the events of The Fall of Hyperion , and three and a half years after I read that book, Endymion takes place and I read it. I had actually forgotten that there was a book between this one and Hyperion; I described this as the second book in a series when friends asked me what I was reading. Oops! And it has been so long since I read the first two that my memories of the series were distant and vague.

That proved not as much of a barrier as I worried it would be. I’m still trying…