My employer is insisting on face-to-face meetings in the middle of the pandemic.

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Photo by Cherrydeck on Unsplash

Did you hear that 2020 was a crap year? Yeah, me too. Something about a virus going around or something. I kid, but if I didn’t follow the news I might not notice anything was amiss based on the way the people around me are behaving. It was not until a couple of months ago that masks were actually being enforced in local grocery stores and my colleagues do not wear masks, even indoors.

I suppose for some this sounds hellish but I’ve actually been pretty thankful for my job over the past year. I spend most of my working hours either working on a computer, processing data from the comfort of my own home, or going to various remote outdoor places to fix equipment. It’s not really the kind of job that puts me at great risk during a pandemic. …


A guide for the compassionate and squeamish.

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Photo by Beckett Ruiz on Unsplash

So you’re walking down the street and see a pitiful butterfly, wings broken, unable to fly. Perhaps it is a large charismatic species, like a monarch or a pipevine swallowtail. Perhaps you find a beetle or spider, partially crushed by a passerby. What do you do?

A lot of kind and compassionate souls would pick the creature up with the hope that they can save it. In some cases, they would be right. It is entirely possible to fix the wings of butterflies with simple household materials, and given the fairly long lifespan of larger butterflies (6 months or more) fixing a broken wing is probably worth it. …


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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Passive income is all the rage right now for broke millennials like myself. I’ve spent many sessions on the porcelain throne reading list after list of ‘51.25 new ways to make money passively in 2019!’ or ‘How to quit the rat race and become a billionaire without lifting a finger,’ dreaming of a jobless life of leisure.

Funny thing is, though, there is no such thing as a free lunch and it’s obvious that ‘passive’ income is no exception. …


Think about mortality. Wear a mask.

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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Wear a mask, save lives. That’s what we are supposed to do in the middle of a pandemic; one could say it is about the least we can do. Despite the fact that this should be common decency, or at least common sense, a huge portion of the American population believes that masks do nothing to stop the spread of dangerous viruses despite their being a wealth of evidence available freely on the internet.

Why is this? It’s easy to point fingers at a lack of education — or at least a lack of the right sort of education — that might encourage the critical thinking needed to understand a concept as simple as mask-wearing. I don’t think this is a satisfactory explanation, however, though it certainly contributes. What is probably a better explanation is the cognitive dissonance masks produce in the anti-masker. …


It’s still no worse than bottled water, probably.

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Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

Ah, bottled water. The great environmental boogeyman, an emblem of human folly and waste, a monument to our greed and a testament to our indifference for the planet we live on and the organisms around us. Corporate interests draw up the smashed, liquefied, and well-aged petroleum remains of Carboniferous life and process it with chemical input, heat, and pressure, releasing tons of carbon in the process and eventually shaping it into a bottle.

It is then filled with water from public utilities we pay for and sold back to us, now filled with possibly thousands of plastic particles. The ubiquitous giver of life that we need so badly to survive, the precious liquid we flush down our toilets and waste on our lawns, has been disrespected yet again in what essentially amounts to a scam designed by capitalist vultures to wring every penny out of us for the basic necessities we need to survive. …


Want to save the environment? Have one less kid.

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Photo by Kevia Tan on Unsplash

Rising oceans. Wildfires. Desertification. Mass extinction. Heatwaves.

We humans have really made a mess of things. Our world is heating up, fueled by the wholesale destruction of our forests and the industrial emission of CO2. It’s already far too late to completely reverse the changes we have wrought on our planet, but it should be in all of our interests to try to mitigate at least some of the damage we have done.

So what are we, puny little individual humans, supposed to do about problems of such an epic scale?

Where We Stand

In order to understand, we first need to look at the individual impact one human life has on carbon emissions. The average per-capita carbon emissions across all humans are around 4.8 tons per year, but in the USA, it is around 16 tons per person. …


I tried CBD for my mental health and my experience was a bit disappointing.

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Photo by Pharma Hemp Complex on Unsplash

Note: I’m not a medical professional and none of the following is intended to be medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before trying CBD, especially if you are on any kind of medication. This is an anecdote, not a scientific study. Your mileage may vary.

Cannabidiol, referred to as CBD, has swept the nation as a supplement said to relieve pain and anxiety and encourage calm and good sleep. Not only does it not make you high but it is also a natural compound extracted from the cannabis plant, like its cousin THC. …


We need a ‘Great Simplification’ to avoid catastrophe, and in doing so, we will unwittingly answer one of the most interesting questions in modern science.

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Image courtesy of Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

The Fermi Paradox is a fundamental problem in astrobiology that asks a hauntingly simple question: ‘If intelligent life in the universe is likely to exist, why do we see literally no evidence of their existence?’

There is a myriad of possible solutions to this question, everything from ‘We are all alone’ to ‘We are too stupid to see them yet,’ but perhaps the scariest answer is that of the ‘Great Filter,’ the idea that all industrial, spacefaring civilizations like our own cannot overcome a certain unknown obstacle (the filter) to further development and either go extinct or de-industrialize and fade away. …


Marketing companies would like you to believe that it is worth selling your own data for a bit of beer money.

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Photo by ev on Unsplash

You probably already know that companies spy on us. This is made painfully clear to us every single time hackers steal and leak vast quantities of user data, giving us a tiny glimpse into just how much information these companies keep on us, much of it information we didn’t know the companies had in the first place, and just how poorly protected that data is. …


You can pick your toys but you can never choose your masters.

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Anyone who visits the capital of the small contested island nation of Taiwan will notice a few things. First might be the humidity, the crazy traffic, or perhaps the distinctive smell of stinky tofu, a local delicacy. After more time, however, one might begin to believe that the Taiwanese really love claw machines. This is because almost every busy street will have at least one, if not more, shops containing many claw machines. These shops are akin to arcades, except they contain only claw machines filled with various prizes. …

About

Jimmy Candou

A writer living in the PNW who just wants to tend to his garden.

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