Wednesday, January 31, 2007

BC government seizes three of the sextuplets

When I read that headline, I thought 'what in the world?':

VANCOUVER (CP) - The B.C. government ignored Supreme Court of Canada rulings and seized three sextuplets last week, allowing doctors to give them blood transfusions before their parents were able to challenge the move in court, the family's lawyer says.

Two of the sextuplets had died previously since the babies were born in the first week of January almost three months premature. At the time, the parents didn't want any details about their children released, however they did allow hospital officials to reveal that they are Jehovah's Witnesses.

I believe that religious beliefs should be protected and respected but what about citizens who are not of legal age yet? Who has the right to decide for them if they live or die? You can't say that these children had chosen their religion. What if they grew up and didn't believe in or choose their parents' denomination of Christianity?

This is a tough issue, and I'm not to sure which side of the fence I'm on right now. What do you think?

"Bloggers are a lonely bunch unlikely to change the world"


But Michael Keren, who has written "Blogosphere: The New Political Arena," suggests individuals who bare their souls in blogs are isolated and lonely, living in a virtual reality instead of forming real relationships or helping to change the world.

"Bloggers think of themselves as rebels against mainstream society, but that rebellion is mostly confined to cyberspace, which makes blogging as melancholic and illusionary as Don Quixote tilting at windmills," the author says.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Myths About Ethanol

It's not uncommon to hear about Ethanol in the headlines. I previously blogged about a segment of The National that addressed the Ethanol vs. Oil debate:

But what about environmental costs? Is ethanol better for the planet? To answer that you have to do the math. It's called the Life Cycle Equation: Ethanol's life cycle begins with solar energy, the sun, the grow the plants. The plants also suck harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But crops need fertilizer and water which means adding chemicals and using fuel for tractors. And then more fuel to harvest the plants and then truck them to the factory , which also uses power to turn the crops into ethanol, which cannot be moved by pipeline, so it will have to be trucked to the fueling station, where it can finally be put into a car. So add it up comparing energy in with energy out, most experts agree there is only a modest gain.

This article out of Chicago Sun-Times and the Cato Institue today examines the myths about Ethanol.

Ethanol reduces air pollution. A review of the literature by Australian academic Robert Niven found that, when evaporative emissions are taken into account, E10 (fuel that's 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, the standard mix) increases emissions of total hydrocarbons, nonmethane organic compounds, and air toxics compared to conventional gasoline. The result is greater concentrations of photochemical smog and toxic compounds.

Ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions. At best, E10 reduces greenhouse gas emissions by from zero to 5 percent; pure ethanol by 12 percent. The International Energy Agency, however, estimates that it costs about $250 to reduce a ton of greenhouse gases this way, or more than 10 times what Yale economist William Nordhaus thinks is economically sensible given the economics of climate change. Ethanol as an anti-warming policy is what academics refer to as "crazy talk."

I was watching Jim Cramer's Mad Money the other night and he, too, was explaining why ethanol is not the be all and the end all. A few months ago I watched a Dateline episode that was very pro-ethanol.

While there are some merits to ethanol debate, it's good to consider if it is really worth it economically and environmentally. While I don't know a lot of about the techincal scientific and economical calculations, it is clear that the solution to energy is not an easy one.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

How to Dismantle a Google Bomb

I'm sure many of you have once Googled "weapons of mass destruction", "miserable failure" or "French military victories". Unfortunately, they are trying to dismantle the Google bombs.

So to be sure that these Google bombs won't die in our memories:

Bleeping out "God"

What a great post on a Sunday....

Does God offend you? Which god you ask? The Christian God? Does Allah offend you? In a multicultural nation we must be respectful of other cultures and religions but this has gone too far:

ATLANTA -- So much for God and country, at least during some in-flight showings of the Oscar-nominated movie The Queen.

All mentions of God are bleeped out of a version of the film distributed to Delta and some other airlines.

Jeff Klein, president of Jaguar Distribution, the Studio City, Calif., company that supplied the movie to the airlines earlier this month, said it was a mistake, committed by an overzealous and inexperienced employee who had been told to edit out all profanities and blasphemies.

Although Klein insists that it was an "overzealous and inexperienced employee" that did this, we should question beyond this. Was this employee trying to make a point? When given instructions to bleep out profanity did s/he really believe that "God" would be offensive to the other passengers? Did this employee contemplate it? Consult a supervisor? Was this employee male or female? What religion (if any) did this person subscribe to?

We won't ever get these answers, but it's good to ask these questions.

Let's flip it around. What if someone bleeped "Allah" from a movie? Would the employee be fired? Would s/he at the very least get a note in their file? As the last sentence indicates, the editor is still working.

Is this fair?

We cannot have two sets of rules or laws for freedom of religion/against hate crimes. I mean, really, the Bible has been constituted as hate literature. But few would dare name the Koran or any other holy book as hate literature.

So why is Christianity always open season?

Gay Sheep

This is an interesting article written by a gay man about the study of gay sheep.

Zoologists have known for many years that homosexuality isn't uncommon among animals. (My own cat has raised suspicions ever since he tried to mount a cowering male dachshund.) But I was surprised to learn recently that male sheep exhibit homosexuality at least as often as humans: roughly 8% of rams turn out to have sex exclusively with other rams.

This little piece of faunal ephemera might otherwise have gone unnoticed outside the rarely intersecting subcultures of gays and shepherds. But a few months ago, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a p.r. campaign on behalf of gay sheep. PETA claims that researchers in Oregon are killing gay sheep and cutting open their brains in order to learn how to turn gay rams straight. A few weeks ago, London's Sunday Times picked up the story in an unnerving article that states the research "raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual."
The more pressing question for me is, What would happen if research like Roselli's did lead to, as the Sunday Times imagined, "a 'straightening' procedure [such as] a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn like a nicotine patch"? I hope scientists have better things to do, but would a Hetero Patch be so awful? It would allow bigoted women to get what they want--straight kids--and ensure that gay kids grow up with moms who, at the very least, didn't try to prevent their existence. Gay people seem to fear we would die out if such a device existed. But the elaborate combination of genes, hormones and psychology that produces same-sex attraction has persisted, against all odds, through the millenniums. Gays have survived Darwinian selection, Nazis, the dulling effects of Will & Grace. I don't think a little patch would ever keep some rams from wanting other rams.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Life Insurance and the Military

There was another Globe and Mail article on which I wanted to comment today. When I read this article this morning, I thought it sounded a little fishy and another attempt by the media to misrepresent the military.

CALGARY — Andrew Kirkpatrick served as a general duty medical officer with the Canadian Forces in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. He was the camp surgeon in Kabul in 2004 when he served as a reservist mending both Canadian troops and Afghan people.

Now, the 43-year-old trauma surgeon from Calgary is thinking of heading back to Afghanistan, this time to Kandahar, to once again lend a hand in the fight against terrorism.

But with a young family at home -- a wife and two daughters -- he also started thinking about life insurance and recently applied for coverage.

"We just wanted to make provisions in case the unthinkable happens," Dr. Kirkpatrick said.

Instead, he was incensed when a letter came this month from insurance company Sun Life Financial.

"We have been advised that your plans for the near future include travelling to Afghanistan. We have therefore declined your application for life coverage," the underwriter wrote.

I assume that any military personnel would have life insurance through DND if they sign up or are deployed to Afghanistan, no matter if they were Reg Force or P Res (Reservist). Since my dad is in the military, and has been for over 30 years, I decided to ask him about this story amd I will update when I hear back.

According to Phantom Observer:

Actually, life insurance is in fact available for class-A and -B reservists, though SISIP Financial Services. This agency serves Canadian Forces members exclusively, and offers a term insurance plan for reservists.

The main problem with SISIP, however, is that they don’t advertise their services very well to reservists. So it’s entirely possible that Dr. Kirkpatrick may not have known about them. He also may have wanted to compare premium rates from other companies.

Here's the problem I have with this guy's complaint. There are two problems:

One, he's 40 years old and it wasn't until this point, that he was going to go to a country where there was a higher risk in him being killed, that he considered getting life insurance. The whole idea around insurance is that you get it ahead of time because you one day might need it. While he is thinking ahead, the fact remains, he's is considering life insurance because there is the belief that there is a higher risk of death in Afghanistan.

There is the game of probabilities, where, he could get hit by a bus tomorrow and his wife and child would be left with nothing. The fact of the matter is, in the eyes of the public, the insurance company, and Kirkpatrick himself believe that going to Afghanistan poses a higher risk of loss of life.

My part-time job while going to school is working at the student health benefits office. I've been doing this job for the past three years and have become to understand the premise of insurance. Also as a Sociology student I have taken a class about insurance and risk and I've studied the theory behind it. I'm not going to bore you with theory, so let's consider common sense.

For example, a student cannot come to my office and decide that she wants to add her family to the plan, because her kids have upcoming dental appointments. If we have an opt-in system where people just sign up for benefits when they think they will use them, the cost for insurance would be astronomical. If, on the other hand, you sign up for dental benefits at the beginning of the year during the one month window of opportunity to add family to the plan, foreseeing that you will use them, this is how we can all pay one low price. Our society, and the premise behind insurance is that you are rewarded for thinking ahead.

The second issue is that the article makes it seem like Kirkpatrick is a reservist. When in fact he seems to be a civilian (or contract worker). Who is hiring this surgeon? If it's DND, then I would argue the employer should offer him life insurance, if he can't get one througha private company. However, Sunlife, to my knowledge is the insurance company that provides insurance to all government personnel (I could be wrong about this).

On a matter of principle, it's irresponsible to put someone in a war zone (who is voluntaring his services to go as a civilian) and being denied life insurance and offering nothing to the family, if God forbid, the worst could happen. This guy is willing to go and pay for life insurance (and probably the highest premium, knowing the risk), but is being denied, then why should he go?

Those workers are important to the mission, according to DND spokesman Lieutenant Adam Thomson, but they also must secure their own insurance coverage.

He's a surgeon, and likely won't be on the front lines like an infantry soldier, he should still be able to have life insurance. This man is wanting to provide his services, (and getting paid very well for it), to help mission.

Let's consider this another way. Would there be such an outcry if he wasn't a surgeon though? What if it was a Tim Horton's or cleaning personnel?

Another group of civilians -- 66 who work at locations such as the Tim Hortons outlet at the base -- are in Afghanistan as part of the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency. They are considered federal employees.

Anyway, just my two cents...

Layton and Bank Fees

I've thought about this issue since it first came out and I thought I would throw my two cents into the pit as well. I orginally though Jack Layton's argument was about bank fees at your own bank, I've now learned that his beef is with ATM fees for withdrawing money from other banks.

I bank with one of the major banks, but as a student, I thankfully don't pay any bank fees for service and usage. However, if I wish to take money out of bank that is not my own, I, of course, like everyone else will get that 2 or 3$ fee. And I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

I often watch that Canadian show on Life network (I believe) Til Debt do Us Part The first thing she often highlights is how much people are wasting on the bank fees of withdrawing money from other banks. Does this mean that the government should make a law that a bank? I would argue No. You have chosen a company to bank with, you have your money at one bank/comparny. If you take money out of another bank, you pay for that convenience.

You can only withdraw at other branches, not deposit. I'm not trying to use a slippery slope argument--because frankly, I doubt this legislation will go through--however, is the next 'want' going to be that we can deposit at other branches?

In addition, why is no one screaming debit? The only time I'm at the ATM is actually to deposit. I use debit for everything. It's good not only to keep track of where my money's going without having to keep all my receipts and write it down. Then again, I get unlimited debit transactions for free. I understand that not everyone has this option.

There are so many banks out there that this shouldn't be an issue. If you're in a big city you can choose to have a branch that is close to work or close to home. But if Johnny has all of his money with Bank A but always withdraws from Bank B, then why the hell does he have money with bank A.

You know what I think the government should do about a 'money' issue? Make a law so that stores cannot put up their little signs that say they will not accept anything more than $20 or $50 bills. It's legal tender, you, as a store must accept it!

Since the story broke, I've been trying to think of an analogy to which to compare, but have come up empty handed. Regardless, although many fellow Blogging Tories support Layton's proposal, I actually am against it. I haven't had a chance to look at the 315 comments so far on the G&M article on the issue. Often when comments go past 100 on an article, it seems to be an issue that many Canadians wish to discuss and debate.

I'm a Cat Person Myself....

But I found this short video to be interesting. It explains how dogs became man's (insert politically correct term here) best friend

Source: National Geographic

Thursday, January 25, 2007

American Psycho -- Sarah - American Idol

I have a guilty pleasure. I like American Idol....Last night there was one memorable performance that I don't think anyone will forget!

Pope Should Look at Christian Pop Culture....

Let's be honest here, our history is filled with violence and war. Hell, even today our world is still filled with violence and war. But when displayed on a TV show, movie or video game is is deemed unacceptable. Why? Because it's too much like real-life? I do, however, definitely understand the sentiment of not having violent toys and games around children.

I'm talking about this because of the Pope's recent comments condemning violent games. I think he forget to take a look at Christian popular culture. Recently, the Left Behind book series by Tim F. Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (also made into terrible films) has also turned into a video game with many criticisms about its excessive violence. Then again, many of the critiques could be just because it's a Christian game, because Christianity is always open season.

While I can't make any judgements about the video game, I have read the Left Behind books. I haven't finished reading the entire 12 part mini-series, I was on book 8 or 9 back in high school but stopped reading them because after I graduated and moved away for university, I was away from my source of the new books: my bus driver. I scored all 12 hardcover books on eBay last year for a great price and I've started reading them aloud with my partner (we're on book 3).

If you have a chance I highly reccommend reading Michael Adams' Fire and Ice: Canada, the United States and the Myth of Converging Values. His book consists of sociological surveys, interviews and focus groups and One of the social values he measures is the acceptance of violence. It's just an interesting glimpse into North American culture.

I never realized how violent my cultural likes are. In my media communications class we had to write journals for an assignment. After some consideration, I realized that my favourite movies and shows are extremely violent (Boondock Saints and Stargate SG1). Just an interesting observation....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Virgin Birth has Arrived....

As I previously blogged about the Komono dragon who reproduces asexually. Although my science knowledge is lacking, I'm pretty sure that 'birth' is not the correct term as this is a reptile and her eggs have hatched. Even so, her 'children' have arrived!

The shells began cracking last week, after an eight-month gestation period, which culminated with the arrival on Tuesday of the fifth black and yellow coloured dragon.

The dragons are between 40 and 45 centimetres in length and weigh 100 to 125 grams each, said Mr. Buley, who leads the zoo's expert care team.

He said the reptiles are in good health and enjoying a diet of crickets and locusts.

Other reptile species reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis. But Flora's virginal conception, and that of another Komodo dragon earlier this year at the London Zoo, are the first time it has been documented in a Komodo dragon.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Most Crime-Ridden City on Earth

Late night blogging because I can't sleep.... Here's something I found interesting. Where do you think the most crime-ridden city in the world is?

Try the Vatican. The small nation-city ruled by Pope Benedict XVI apparently sees more criminal cases per capita than any other part of the world, the German magazine Spiegel reports.

That's according to statistics released by the Vatican's attorney general, Nicola Picardi.

In 2006, the tiny nation's justice department had to contend with 341 civil and 486 criminal cases. With a population of 492, that measures out to 1.5 cases per person — 20 times the corresponding rate in Italy.


What Kind of Reader Am I?

Hat Tip: The High Places

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Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm going to be really poor next year....

Donations for next year's graduate tuition, rent, books now being accepted. So much for buying a car....Operators are standing by....

Dear Applicant,

As you know, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) requires universities to pre-select applications for the Master's * CGS competition. The Council has assigned Trent University a limited quota that can be forwarded to Ottawa for evaluation by the SSHRC national selection committees.

Due to the quantity of applications from Trent graduate students for the 2007-08 SSHRC Master's - CGS competition, the Graduate Sub-Committee on Scholarships (Social Science and Humanities) had to meet and select the applications to be forwarded. As a result of the departmental ranking and the internal Graduate Sub-Committee ranking meeting, your application was unfortunately not recommended for advancement in this year's competition.

The Office of Graduate Studies would like to thank you for your interest in this program, and would like you to know that we appreciate the time and effort you took to submit an application. Your application will remain complete and on file in our office as per competition procedure.

Sincerely yours,

I am very proud of my undergraduate accomplishments. I paid for my undergrad education completely on my own with no help from my parents. But because I chose to go away for school, I've dried up all of my savings and I have a bit of OSAP debt. I was hoping that I would have a chance at this $17,500 scholarship for grad school next year.

I've been talking to other graduate students and I was told that getting this scholarship is kind of a crap shoot and that it has a lot of office politics that go with it. Even so, I was thinking that I at least had a chance to get past the Trent competition. Turns out out of all the applicants Trent is only allowed to submit 10 towards the national competition.

I was hoping to buy a car next year and perhaps even a laptop, but looks like that's out. Hopefully the schools to which I am applying will award me a TAship, it's peanuts compared to these external scholarships, but worth a shot anyway.

All of my applications are done, now the waiting game and letting fate decide my future.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Another Canadian Killed in Mexico

UPDATE: London Free Press: Turns out the couple were from my hometown of London, Ontario.


One Canadian citizen has been killed and another wounded in an accident in Mexico, has learned.

"Consular officials in Guadalajara were informed by Mexican police in Jan. 18 of the accident that occurred the earlier night," Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alain Cacchione told on Friday afternoon.

He said that consular officials visited one victim in the hospital.

"Consular officials in Ottawa were immediately in touch with both families of the deceased and injured Canadians to offer consular assistance," he said.

There are unconfirmed reports that the deceased Canadian was a snowbird spending the winter in Mexico. However, Cacchione would not divulge any identifying details due to privacy rules.

Nor would he elaborate on the type of accident.

"It is an ongoing investigation and I cannot speculate on what type of accident it was," Cacchione said.

According to an unconfirmed email to, it was a hit-and-run accident.

"Consular officials went to Chapala early Friday to meet with authorities to emphasize the need for a quick and thorough investigation," he said.

In recent years, many North American retirees have established themselves on Lake Chapala's shore, located approximately 50 km southeast of Guadalajara.

The death comes less than two weeks after a 19-year-old Canadian man was killed outside a nightclub in Acapulco, Mexico.

Mexican officials insist Adam DePrisco was killed in a hit-and-run accident, and a preliminary autopsy by Ontario's top coroner showed the injuries were consistent with being knocked down by a vehicle.

But DePrisco's friends and family have disputed that claim, saying he died of injuries sustained in a vicious beating.

Would this have even been reported had the 19 year old and that other couple been killed. How 'normal' is it to have Canadians killed abroad? Does each Canadian killed abroad get the top news story? Let's face it, had the other deaths not been reported, no one would have heard about this one. Although it seems that more Canadians are randomly getting killed in Mexico, we have to also think of how media stories get chosen. I'm not saying this isn't tragic or even suspicious, but we also can't jump to conclusions and boycott Mexico.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Secret Santa Dies

A sad day. If you've heard of his story it's a real heart warmer.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Larry Stewart, who was known for years as Secret Santa because of his habit of roaming the streets in December anonymously handing money to people he thought could use a lift, died Friday. He was 58.

Jackson County Sheriff Tom Phillips, a longtime friend, said Stewart died around 2 p.m. Friday. The cause of death was complications from esophageal cancer, Phillips said.

Stewart gained international attention in November when, after 26 years of his anonymous streetside giving, which totaled about $1.3 million, he revealed himself as Secret Santa.

Source: USA Today

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Women & The Sexual Revolution

For those who know me, or are regular readers of this blog know that I am not a feminist and hate the feminists who think they speak for me when they say they speak for women. I couldn't sleep the other night and decided to watch some TV.

It was about 2 or 3am and there were slim pickings on the TV. I kept flipping through hoping to find something decent to watch to make me sleepy.

Instead, I became more awake because I became a combination of anger and sadness with what was on the TV.

There were several advertisements for services like 'Quest' where you call a number to meet local people. Of course, there was a young girl, teasing the viewer with some T&A enticing them to call.


Another channel with an advertisement for Girls Gone Wild. Not just one video, but be a member of this monthly video club.


Bravo and Showcase at 2am....need I say more?


A documentary on the history of burlesque and gentlemen's clubs.


Seymore Buts trying to make a get a clip of a girl (profession: dancer) who squirts


I turned off the TV, got up and read a book instead.

Ladies, we lost the sexual revolution.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Military & Plane Bid

Could journalists even try to be neutral? I mean come on! with this headline and first sentence:

The author (I'm not going to say journalist, because this is more like a work of fiction) describes defence contracts to be the most "lucrative" deals that the government signs. Lucrative? Give me a break! Lucrative would be having equipment that works and doesn't fall out of the sky, sink, of catch fire.

I'm all for a free-market bid, and the fact that only one plane seems to fit Canadian military needs/requirements does sound a little fishy. But I'm sick and tired of the drama and sensationalism from the media. If you want to pin military equipment problems on a government, it sure isn't the Conservatives that are to blame.

The military knows that the military needs. End of story. PMSH has shown leadership by getting the people who use the equipment to make the decisions of what they need. Get the bureaucrats and Liberal-friendly firms out of it.