Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

The air we breathe passes from one age to the next

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
September 12, 2016

Famed astronomer, the late Harlow Shapley, once ruminated on a remarkable notion. He explained that some components of our air, and especially the argon atoms that comprise one per cent of our atmosphere, recirculate indefinitely. Unlike ozone gases, these components of the air that we breathe never really disappear. They pass through the body virtually untouched and then re-enter the atmosphere.

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Connecting with others offers hope for humanity

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
August 15, 2016

It is difficult to ignore the news these days. Every item seems grim, from wars to terrorist activity, economic turmoil to corruption scandals. Everywhere we turn we see evidence of humanity's intolerance, greed and corruption. Watching the news recently, I simply had to change the channel. It's not that I want to bury my head in the sand, but at times the unrelenting negativity wears me down.

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Handwritten word still offers an intimate touch

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
June 27, 2016

There is a cute cartoon of a morose individual who complains that because he has such beautiful handwriting, no one believes he's an actual doctor. I'm certainly old enough to have gone to school when penmanship mattered, and my school reports always included devastating comments from my respective teachers about the appalling state of my letters. It could have been worse. The year before I started, left-handers were still having their offending hand tied behind their back in the hope that the true right-hander might emerge.

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Flame of compassion will rebuild Fort

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
May 30, 2016

The fire of Fort McMurray has drawn the attention of the world, and has proven again how large the hearts of Albertans are at all times, especially in moments of crisis. Over the coming months, commentators will speculate on what could have been done better and on how to prevent future catastrophes. They will inevitably draw comparisons to other fires: the Great Fire of London, 1666, where 70,000 out of the city's 80,000 residents were left homeless; or the 2011 Great Slave Lake Fire in Alberta where the entire community of 7,000 residents were evacuated.

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Legends of Knights' initiation left college head squeamish

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
May 2, 2016

Both my father and uncle were Knights of Columbus. Unfortunately, they were also inveterate pranksters, so that when I asked them about becoming a knight the picture they painted for me of the process almost drove me into therapy. "The Knights?" my uncle said, raising his voice alarmingly, and then he melodramatically scanned the surroundings for spies and agitators. "You mean, the . . . Knights?" He looked at my father who inexplicably began to shake his head and mop his brow. Then began what can only be construed as a handshake performed by two men being electrocuted.

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Monthly column gives birth to 'small things'

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
April 4, 2016

One of the most unexpected joys of coming to St. Mary's University in Calgary was the opportunity to write this column. While it is a most modest affair, I confess to enjoying the process and discipline of writing a monthly reflection, and especially value the opportunity to discourse at will on whatever subject happens to take my fancy. As readers of the column will know, often that interest revolves around activities undertaken by my university.

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Driverless cars vexed by overly stringent adherence to moral laws

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
March 7, 2016

I read a fascinating report recently that pointed out how driverless cars have accumulated more than twice the number of accidents as manned vehicles. But here's the interesting statistic: in 100 per cent of those cases, the driverless car was not at fault. The reason for the higher accident rate? These cars always follow the rules. Now it doesn't take a philosopher to analyze the interesting ethical conundrum this provides (though it would help).

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Ashes prepare way for 40-day journey to Easter

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
February 8 , 2016

During Lent last year, Bill Donaghy of the Theology of the Body Institute posted a graphic on his Facebook page entitled "A Catholic Guide to Ashes." What follows is a series of examples of the signs priests place on worshippers' foreheads during Ash Wednesday services. These include a pristine cross labeled First in Line, a massive cross entitled Father's Revenge, a messy little blur called The Hasty, and a barely there impression that says simply Load Toner.

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Worn-out piano symbolizes new year's transition

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
January 25, 2016

Several years ago, when my daughter decided she wanted to learn to play the piano, a good friend tracked down a used upright for us on Kijiji. Even though it was on its last legs, Sophie was able to spend almost two years learning her basic skills until a better instrument was needed. When we discovered that the soundboard on the first piano was irreparably damaged, it became a large, useless, dust-collecting sculpture in the dining room.

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Our acts of charity, once born, never die or fade away

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
November 23, 2015

The month of November witnesses a number of important observances, from All Saints' and All Souls' Day which begin the month, to Remembrance Day in the middle, to Advent that closes out the month. All of these mark an engagement with birth, death and resurrection in some complex sense.

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