March 4th, 2017 marked the second anniversary of the death of my doctoral supervisor. As professors go, she was not typical: she didn’t speak or act in some of those “rarified” ways that cause people to think of academics as elites. She grew up in a working class neighbourhood, and worked “in the trenches,” so to speak, as a social worker before pursuing her PhD in Education, after the birth of her only child. She was a single mother. She fought for society’s underdogs, and for a more just society. If injustice made her angry, she confronted it with a combination of determination and tough optimism. She was a fighter.
She also fought cancer. Her second bout with breast cancer occurred in 2013. Continue reading →
I’ve been enjoying Tim Caulfield’s Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? Caulfield is a University of Alberta guy — gives me a rarely felt twinge of alumni pride, actually. Maybe I’m proud because he wrote a well researched book that is really easy and fun to read. Gwyneth is his poster girl for all the weird intersections between celebrity culture and our endless quests to improve ourselves — through diet and alternative medicine for example — or to achieve “fame.” (On the latter point, some of his stats on your odds of making it big in music or sports are truly alarming.) The overall point of the book is that celebrity culture has a symbiotic relationship with a lot of the human qualities that we can all be, shall we say, less proud of: Continue reading →