On Things That Could Kill You

November 2015 | Musings

In 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, France’s Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm) reported a total of 558 300 deaths in a population of 65 241 000, as estimated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insee) for that same year; in other terms, a mortality rate of 0.86%. In Canada, 242 074 lives were lost in 2011 (Statistics Canada) from a census population of 33 476 688 (Statistics Canada) for a mortality rate of 0.72%. Finally, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give us a total of 2 596 993 deaths in 2013, for a population 316 148 990 on July 4th, 2013 (U.S. Census Bureau) and thus a mortality rate of 0.82%. In general, you’re just not very likely to die in the developed world – in fact, statistically speaking, you would need to live over 116 years in France, almost 139 years in Canada, and almost 122 years in the U.S. for your chance of death to hit 100% (albeit erroneously assuming constant mortality rates and populations above). [More]

Desert Island Albums

February 2014 | Musings

Yeah, it’s a classic. What albums would you have if you were to be stranded on a sandbar with only a palm tree for company in the middle of the ocean? Essentially it’s just a way to make you list your favourite albums, but what I especially like about the desert island hypothesis is that it actually does give your choices an interesting set of criteria. Because what really makes a desert island album? [More]

On the Appreciation of Music

January 2013 | Musings

All of us, albeit to varying degrees, enjoy listening to some type of music. We connect with it, we "like" it, and we develop a strange type of relationship with the creators/interpretators of it. We stick by our favourites, and when they're challenged, we clash with whoever said "Man, those guys suck!" or "Yeah, I don't really like them." And that's when things get interesting. I've had enough of these arguments to see that most people support either a completely subjective evaluation of musical quality, or a completely objective one. Funnily enough, it seems to be the subjective ones who are the most stubborn. For them, musical "quality" is a question of whether you like it or not - whether the music speaks to you, whether you feel connected to it in any way. A lot of people actually fit this bill. A smaller group are completely objective and think that all you need to do to get "into" a band is to see whether their music is of any objective quality. The truth is, however, appreciating music requires a bit of each, on some sort of scale. [More]

© 2015 Pierre Massé