Posts by Bruce Grierson

Extreme Language Learning: a hyperglot in overdrive

  There are certain endeavours that would seem to be unattackable in anything but a million little duck bites — they’re just too big and complicated. And anyone who claims to have mastered such tasks in a single day immediately sets off the charlatan alarm. Scott Adams comes to mind. The creator of the cartoon…

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Construct a Perfect Day

Is such a thing even possible? Lou Reed thought so, though sinking into a heroin fog probably isn’t the soundest strategy for long-term fulfillment – or even short-term happiness, if remembering what you were happy about is part of the deal. Not long ago, Melbourne-based writer Madeleine Dore wondered if you could construct a Perfect Day by…

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Raise a Ruckus

Certain unwritten rules have governed the Internet. One of them — which the Obama administration actually made a written rule – is Net Neutrality. It means that the Internet should be free. Everyone should have equal access. Think of the Internet as a public good, like clean water. The faucet is your web browser. What…

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24 Hours with the Stanley Cup

With hockey season finally about to resume – it was a looong summer for those of us whose teams were mathematically eliminated in April – it seems apt to do a post on one of the coolest traditions in sports. Remember how in school some lucky kid got to take the hamster home overnight? The…

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Maarten van der Weijden’s Big Swim Day

On March 1, Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden climbed into a swimming pool in Oosterhout, wearing special swim goggles fitted with lights to combat drowsiness, and when he climbed out the next day, he’d put 102.8km (63.87 miles) behind him. That’s the farthest anyone has ever swum in 24 hours. It beats a mark that…

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How Many Micro-Decisions Do You Make in a Day?

Making decisions all day long — as judges and referees and bond traders and chess players will tell you — is exhausting. “Decision fatigue” is a real thing. Decision-making depletes the limited resources in our executive brains, reducing us to cataleptic meat sacks by the cocktail hour.  But what many people don’t realize is that…

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Assemble a Barbecue

One Saturday morning not long ago, I popped down to Canadian Tire to buy a barbecue. There they all were, out on the floor, in their gleaming stainless steel hoods. I found one that looked pretty good. The cooking surface was huge – like the deck of an aircraft carrier. And the price was right. I thought,…

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Be a Movie Extra

There are a lot of rabid fans of The X Files. They’re probably called X-Files-philes. Jill Gardiner isn’t one of them. Okay, she wouldn’t kick David Duchovny off the pick-up soccer team for removing his shirt. But neither the show nor its star was the big draw on this particular day in September. Jill was…

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Harry Potter Marathon

Imagine you entered a pie-eating contest where each pie is richer and more delicious than the previous one. The last pie is baked by Julia Child. Trouble is, at that point you can’t appreciate the subtleties of the crust. You’re just trying to keep the thing down. This seemed to be what the girls and…

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The 5 Best Things Ever Written in an All-Nighter

Your big, for-all-the-marbles essay is due tomorrow. You haven’t even started it. Cue the woe, the surrender, the Carole King. It’s too late, baby. Even an all-nighter isn’t going to save you now. But here’s the thing: it might. Sometimes that impossible deadline is just what you need. Sometimes you can pull a rabbit out…

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