Why are we busy?

I have long been intrigued by the fact that I (like almost everyone else I know) habitually answer the question, ‘How are you doing?’ with almost robotic predictability: ‘Oh, you know, swamped — so busy these days!’ What do I hope that you, the listener, know about me when I describe myself in this way? …

What geese think about the real estate market

“A March morning,” writes Aldo Leopold, “is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese.” Before reading these words, I had initially drafted the beginning of this letter with some thoughts (well, complaints) about the way that the Spring Equinox here at latitude 42° north can …

Thus endth the ‘weekly’ newsletter

Right here is where you would usually read something like, ‘This is your weekly subscription to writing updates from James Shelley…’ But today you’ll notice that the formatting of this message has changed significantly. Many things, in fact, are changing. I am going on an indefinite hiatus from blogging and writing online. I will continue …

Risk err in solidarity

Risk err in solidarity with those who tend to have decisions made for them, especially when the decisions are made against their will. The historical odds indicate that people without power are generally a reliable barometer for discerning justice. Look to them, not to the career-chasing experts, bureaucrats, and courtiers. The margin of moral error …

Crosswalk buttons

Crosswalk buttons are horrid devices. As a pedestrian, I resent that I must push a button to request permission to cross the street — just because I am not in a motorized vehicle at this intersection. Let’s talk about evils of vehicle-centric urban design.

Facebook has nothing to do with friendship

‘If I leave Facebook I’ll lose my friends’ is only a rational concern if a) you subsequently fail to communicate with your ‘friends’ in another manner or b) you have ‘friends’ that prioritize using Facebook above sharing life with you in same other way. Losing friends because you’re not on Facebook is only a valid …

Grocery store strangeness

I can never get over the fact that grocery stores have ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ food sections — as if natural and healthy food is a specialized, niche product in the overall groceries market. We have invented a strange world, people.

Let’s repurpose simpleton

I think we should repurpose the word ‘simpleton’ into something that isn’t so pejorative. There’s something to be said for circumventing the needlessly complicated. And to consider oneself a simpleton reflects a healthy sense of skepticism about the comprehensiveness of one’s knowledge. Besides, what’s the opposite of a simpleton? A ‘complicaton’? Who’d want to hang …

Using podcasts to augment the museum experience

I teamed up with Museum London to produce a special ‘curator walk-through’ podcast episode for the BGL: Spectacle + Problems exhibit. Grab the episode on your device, pick up your favourite headphones, and then come visit Museum London before August 26 to enjoy the full experience: art curator Cassandra Getty and members of the BGL …

Attention as Generosity

Consider this proposition — the words of Simone Weil: Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. (Hat tip to Kathleen Fitzpatrick for the excellent sleuthing work to verify the source.) It’s a profound one-liner. These nine simple words prompt the question: Who, or what, receives my purest attention?

241 Simcoe Street

There is a lively debate in my city over the proposed locations for a supervised drug injection facility. One city-endorsed location is 241 Simcoe Street — a public housing complex just outside of the downtown core. I am a diehard supporter and advocate for harm reduction and I think a supervised injection site would greatly …