After her daughter is born with albinism, a mother looks to folklore for meaning and comfort:
"We mythologize even our routine birth stories. The most extraordinary reside in the world’s grand narratives, from ancient Greece to the foundations of Christianity. Like the detailed version of Noah’s birth, brought to public attention in the 1940s with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls. In it, the boy is born with flesh as white as snow, hair as white as wool, and unusual eyes that illuminate the room. His father, Lamech, is disturbed by his newborn son’s appearance, so different from his own. He is suspicious, too. Recently, there were rumours that angels had been cavorting about with mortal women, and this child has definite angelic qualities. He consults his father, Methuselah, who in turn seeks the counsel of his father, Enoch. What Lamech ultimately discovers is that the white hair, luminous eyes, and pale flesh are attributes of the child’s divine calling. 'Call his name Noah,' Enoch advises. 'When all mankind who are on earth shall die, he shall be safe.'"
PUBLISHED: March 20, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5690 words)
A man develops Alzheimer's Disease, and his wife learns to cope with it:
"While most people associate Alzheimer’s with memory loss, its effects on reasoning and behaviour are no less defining, and arguably more problematic. The doctor scans his notes from their last visit and asks if their nights are still “disturbed.” Once or twice a week, Julie explains, Lowell has been getting up in the middle of the night to pull all of the bedding onto the floor. He will build a pile, move it back and forth between bed and floor, and then cruise the condo, amassing blankets, towels, sofa throws, any covering he might suitably add to the lot. His compulsiveness is most pronounced in the morning; he’ll pace between rooms, asking basic questions repeatedly, and it can take a few hours for Julie to ground him in the day. Since his nocturnal behaviour has been comparatively short lived and benign, she tries to leave him be. Earlier that week, however, he worried that the condo might catch fire, and set about giving his mountain of linens a cautionary soak in the tub. Julie intervened. Defusing her husband’s puzzlement was preferable to dealing with a flood.
"The doctor returns to short answer format. Does Lowell need help toileting? Occasionally. Incontinence? Rare. Exercise? 'We get him walking every day,' Julie says. 'He’s a trooper.'
"'Troop, troop, troop,' Lowell says."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 22, 2012
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4840 words)
A look at Degrassi, 25 years after resonating with teens:
"Degrassi ’s grassroots approach to social class served as a near-invisible narrative strategy, but it anticipated the show’s most memorable legacy: its unflinching, plain-spoken treatment of pregnancy, suicide, interracial dating (a big deal in 1987), and HIV/AIDS. What’s more, Degrassi didn’t treat its characters with benevolence. Spike’s pregnancy at age fourteen — the result of a clumsy first-time sexual encounter with Shane, a baby-faced ninth-grader — didn’t end with a convenient miscarriage. Her character spent the remainder of the series as a struggling single parent. Later that season, Shane experimented with LSD, fell off a bridge, and suffered permanent brain damage. Wheels, one of the most popular characters, lost his parents to a drunk driver, and later experienced a breakdown that culminated in a drunk driving incident that killed a child, blinded his friend Lucy, and landed him in prison. In the early years of HIV/AIDS, Dwayne contracted the virus after having unprotected sex with his girlfriend (a thoughtful plot choice in an era when many thought of it as a 'gay disease'). In a 1999 cast reunion on the CBC talk show Jonovision, actor Darrin Brown, who played Dwayne, was asked where his character would be now. 'Dwayne would probably be dead,' he replied."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 13, 2012
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2225 words)
Does our body tell us when we can't go any farther, or does our brain? A look at marathon runners and the science behind human endurance.
"A classic situation in which athletes believe they have hit a true physical limit is 'bonking' during a marathon: you stagger to a halt, ostensibly because your body runs out of carbohydrates. When Noakes started running in the 1970s, the standard advice was to drink only water during long races. Then, in the late stages of a sixty-four-kilometre race one year, he tried a few spoonfuls of corn syrup. 'Five minutes later, I just started running. I finished that race faster than I ever finished,' he recalls. 'It was like the brain released something.” The discovery led to the first external funding ('a thousand rand in a brown paper packet,' he says) for his nascent sports science lab, to study the effects of corn syrup on participants in South Africa’s Stellenbosch marathon.
"The fact that the corn syrup worked seems to support the idea that the body is limited by its finite store of carbohydrates. But it almost worked too well, and Noakes began to question whether carbohydrates could even reach the muscles that quickly. Sure enough, recent experiments in Britain have shown that your brain picks up the presence of carbohydrates in your mouth via previously unknown sensors, anticipates that fuel is headed to your muscles, and allows you to go a bit faster — even if you trick it by spitting out the carbs rather than swallowing them to replenish your muscles."
PUBLISHED: June 20, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5442 words)
At any rate, while I didn’t fear for Charles’s life the way I would have just fifteen years earlier, I still feared for his happiness. Would he find someone who could love him, someone who wouldn’t be afraid? Implicit there was the addendum: afraid like I am. Charles was familiar with these fears; he’d made it clear, years earlier, that he was terrified of sleeping with HIV-positive guys. Now that he was positive, he was plagued with the question of finding love. Who would take him if he wouldn’t take himself?
PUBLISHED: Aug. 15, 2011
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4679 words)
No one made sketch comedy, that most Canadian of comic forms, like the Kids in the Hall — which makes their return to television a big deal
PUBLISHED: Jan. 1, 2010
LENGTH: 34 minutes (8713 words)
Is GPS technology actually harming our sense of direction?
PUBLISHED: Nov. 1, 2009
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4151 words)