The Sunday Magazine for February 21, 2021
This week on The Sunday Magazine with Piya Chattopadhyay:
The Funeral Frontline: COVID-19 cases may be on the decline, but public health officials are warning a third wave, driven by virus variants, could be around the corner. And the number of deaths the pandemic has caused already is breathtaking — more than 21,000 in this country alone. That is on top of deaths from other causes. As a funeral director in downtown Toronto, Luann Jones has had a frontline view of what it means to say goodbye in the age of COVID-19. Luann speaks with Chattopadhyay about bearing witness to grief through an unimaginable year, how the pandemic has affected her business, the toll it's taken on her community, and the added responsibility she feels in her job, both to the dead, and to the living.
Word Processing: Email bugaboos: American university professor Brittney Cooper recently ignited a bit of an online firestorm when she asked Twitter, "Why don't modern college kids know how to send a formal letter/email?" To her, opening with "Dear" is the way to go, but when it comes to email greetings, we're clearly not all speaking the same language. In the latest instalment of our ongoing series Word Processing, Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch joins Chattopadhyay to discuss how email language has evolved, what this debate has in common with the early days of the telephone, and why we all need to cut each other a little more slack when it comes to the words we choose to open our conversations online.
Buffy Sainte-Marie at 80: As an artist and an activist, Buffy Sainte-Marie has always been ahead of her time — whether it comes to messages about the Vietnam War, residential schools, or the environment. Now, at 80-years-old, it seems the world may have finally caught up to her. From new albums and tours to being embraced by a new generation of Indigenous artists, the Saskatchewan First Nation-born musician has been experiencing something of a renaissance in recent years. Buffy Sainte-Marie joins Chattopahdyay on the weekend she turns 80 for a conversation about what has made her the inspirational figure she is today.
An Anatomy of Pain: Pain is a universal human experience that is only becoming more widespread because of our lifestyles and aging demographics. But in his new book, An Anatomy of Pain, Dr. Abdul-Ghaaliq Lalkhen argues that medical science still has a very imperfect understanding of pain — especially when it comes to chronic pain. As a result, it's not been adequately treated, leading to unnecessary suffering on the part of patients and one of the greatest public health problems of our time — the opioid epidemic. Lalkhen joins Chattopadhyay to break it all down, and lay out why he believes a more integrated, interdisciplinary approach — incorporating physiology, psychology and lifestyle changes — is the way forward.