Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Family Unit: Working vs. Stay-at-home Parents

Is there a difference between a journalism and opinion pieces? Of course!

This blog is an opinion piece of media. As much as I'd like to think I have some loyal readers, I do not have a large audience, not an employer or an editor.

An article piece in a newspaper or on television, however, has a larger audience (consumers/citizens) plus there are colleagues who have much more influence in the angle you take.

I thought about this after reading this article. While at first it seems like an innocent opening to the piece:

For mothers who work, here's something new on the long list of things to feel guilty about:

The article has undertones of angry feminist:

You're making your kids fat. So says a study from the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. The investigating scientists state that as the numbers of women who entered the work force rose, so did the rates of childhood obesity. And they don't seem to think it's a coincidence.

This article is written by a freelancer so I am curious to know what direction (if any) was given to write the story. Normally when a newspaper reports on the findings of a news story there are a few options with how to report it.

Option A: Report the findings (should appear neutral, just the facts)
Option B: Report the findings but balance it with its positives but also consider what's missing (inserting informed/critical thinking)
Option C: Mention the findings but completely squash and dismiss it hinting at the flawed funding from the one-sided think tank. (opinions/rants)

While I try to take an option B approach, I acknowledge that sometimes I can sway to Option C. But does a newspaper or new report have the right to be so biased?

In considering this study I completely agree that other variables should be considered about childhood obesity:

There are a whole host of issues that affect the likelihood of being an unhealthy weight. And many of these can go hand in hand with the skyrocketing rise in overweight kids.

Here are a just a few examples of factors that have also changed over the study's time period and may be linked to the rise in rates of overweight and obese children:
- the number of fast-food restaurants, especially located near schools
- the amount of sugar-laden soft drinks kids guzzle
- the dramatic growth in serving sizes
- the use of trans fats
- the presence in schools of vending machines dispensing options with less-than-stellar nutritional profiles
- the number of hours youngsters sit in front of a television set
- the number of television commercials for less nutritious foods aimed at young children
- the number of hours they sit in front of computer screen
- the popularity and sales of video games
- the number of youngsters who don't walk, but are driven to school
- the number of communities built where cars are needed to get to everyday activities
- At the same time, there are some negative associations that can also be tracked. For example, as the number of phys. ed. classes and after-school programs have declined, kids' weights have also increased.

Ms. Schwarz believes: "It appears that the researchers think that bringing up kids is the mother's job alone." A surprising number of Canadians may agree according to this (completely non-scientific poll):

Ms. Schwartz finishes the article with a dose of reality:

That's not to say that moms don't play a major role as gatekeepers for what their kids eat. In some families, the role may fall to one parent, while in others, both parents take on the responsibility for providing and teaching their youngsters about healthy eats.

But in today's time-challenged society, it can indeed be a difficult task. Sometimes after a busy day, figuring out what to make for dinner can take longer than the actual cooking process itself -- especially if the wholesome ingredients are nowhere to be found

True enough, but while the trend in the past few decades is more women in the workforce, the attack is not necessary on women themselves because there has been a steep rise in more dual-full-time-income/two-working parent families. It just so happens that it is women.

I am certain that there are a variety of factors that affect childhood obesity/overweight, but we cannot completely dismiss the fact that it is women who have been entering the workforce.

I know I have seen working moms (still dressed in work clothes) with kids (just picked up from daycare) at the grocery store trying to pick up a few items for dinner and little Johnny Jett-Slade and Janie Tulika-Rain. And when little Tulika-Rain wants a chocolate bar or candy Ms. Working-Mom may feel guilty for being away from them all the time and just give in.

Have you seen the parents on Nanny 9-11??? I'm not saying it's all of a women's fault as there are plenty of piss-poor fathers as well.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world in which I have no experience.

I plan on being a stay-at-home mom for the first five years of my children's life. Some of my left-leaning friends are shocked. "Why are you spending thousands of dollars on your education if you're not going to work?" or "You know, just because you have the uterus doesn't mean the dad can't stay home too".

But I believe children are best brought up by parents/family not daycare. Even though there are experts with education on childhood development, and there is no parent manual, the government should not be responsible for raising children. I recognize that not everyone has the opportunity to have one parent stay home. It should be the government's role not to provide daycare but they should make it easier for parents to stay home if they choose.

On the other hand, being devil's advocate what's so wrong with daycare? Economically, more Canadians will be working/contributing to the economy and it will create jobs.

But can a Daycare love?

Additionally, with our future demographic problem, the solution shouldn't just be taking in more immigrants but the government needs to offer financial incentives (cuz kids are darn expensive) for parents to have more children.

Unfortunately, what this study doesn't take into consideration is the last few decades of hallowing out of the family unit. Families are having fewer children (if any at all) and consequently, today's kids are more likely to have fewer cousins and more step-siblings.

Politicians often make generalizations about "ordinary" "working" families. We should remember that it's social programs not families that have an application form. Doing more to strengthen the family unit will serve our society a lot more than throwing more money into a bunch of social programs.

To Have Sex or Not to Have Sex....

Two interesting reads in the G&M today.

An article about young girls and being virgins by choice

and on the other side of the spectrum

An article about a film about young people having sex (although they use different language)

Cookies = Sexism??

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A "Give me a Break" Moment Brought to you by...

I know that authors/journalists do not write titles/headlines. Normally a story covered, let's say a story out of Reuters or CP will be covered in both the G&M and NP, often with their own unique spin on the story.

Today, while perusing the NP website this headline intrigued me:

"Slow down on native rights bill, Tories told."

The same article is also in the Ottawa Citizen but while being the same source there is a different spin in the title.

"Native Women Slam Proposed Rights Bill"

A side note: I abhor when the word "slam" is used in sensationalist MSM

Anyway, that headline is certainly a different take on it, but that's not even what I wanted to talk about today.

Upon reading the article I found this paragraph:

"It really delights governments to picture First Nations as bullies who are oppressing their people," Ms. Eberts said. "There are some [Indian] bands that don't get it right, but in many, many cases they are doing what they can with insufficient resources."

This lawyer is not even making an argument here. First, I am certain that "governments" do not "delight" over this issue. Second, the lawyer makes the error of using a word like "governments" to over generalize and thus put a big fat hole in this crappy argument.

This is a common error but instead of using "governments" people usually use "society" in that "Society thinks...or Society believes..." But WE are society, and our government represents us through politicians. So is this lawyer saying that all Canadians delight to picturing this? That's probably not what she meant. Did she mean that some or all politicians delight over this issue? Did she mean that the current government or all governments in power delights to think this way?

Now that's just the first sentence.

Her second sentence is a bigger can of worms. "...doing what they can with insufficient resources." Now I can write a 30 page research paper on this or just offer you my opinion (without making sweeping generalizations I hope). First Nations are giving millions upon millions of dollars and are business savvy enough to make mucho dinero off governments (see James Bay agreements). I think another BT blogger once calculated the amount of money given to First Nations divided by their number rounded out to be about $30,000 (tax-free) per Aboriginal (anyone help with a link?). Clearly all of the money isn't being used properly.

So where is all of this money going? Last year I remember reading a BT blog post (can't find the link, can someone help me out?) about the mere suggestions of auditing First Nations' books was racist. But I still stand by supporting this notion, because as (1999) you can (2001) see, this (2005) remains an (2007) issue.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

File this Under: And this is What Happens When Feminists....

Overdo it on the the victim mentality that women should feel oppressed in our "apparently" masculine-dominated-paternalistic society.

When we have walks for violence against women (perpetrated by man, of course).

When women grow up learning to constantly be on their guard whether it be not walking alone at night or watching their drink in a bar.

When women are taught that they should report if they feel violated in any way; whether it is how a male co-worker might look at her (in her mini-skirt and V neck sweater and push up bra) or if a man may actually propose intercourse after you get wasted in a bar and dance provocatively all over him.

When we live in a society like this, where these are the messages women are getting of "fear the man"

This is what happens

Now don't get me wrong, as I've said on numerous occasions on this blog, I believe that these are important causes and that violence against women is an issue; however, if 90% of inmates are male and 60% of University graduates are female perhaps can we just assume that the feminists won, they got their Grrrl (or Womyn)-Power, and can we now focus back on understanding why more men are in jail and not in university (which is likely correlated with the feminist attention on women in the past few decades).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Thing That Unites Us All

No matter what your age, gender, or colour of skin, the thing that unites us all is that we have all felt like doing this at least once.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Adventure Racing

I have a list of things I want to do before I die. One of them is to compete in an adventure race.

Growing up I never like sports, I just couldn't enjoy the concept of chasing after a ball. Sure there is skill, technique, and strategy involved, but it just didn't do it for me.

I was 15 when I joined Army Cadets. It wasn't before long that I was leading teams whether it be flag party, National Star Certification Exam, or the Army Cadet Challenge. I enjoyed map and compass, orienteering, canoeing and rapelling.

Around this time I started watching the Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge. That year it was 2002 Fiji, and unfortunately USA Network did not renew the show's contract. This is when I wrote down my goal that I wanted to compete in an adventure race at least once in my life.

Well, like they say, there is no time like the present. I recently started downloading and watching old episodes of Eco-Challenge, which has renewed my interest in making this happen. I still like canoeing, mountain biking, map and compass, but have only done them out of leisure.

So I've decided that for the next year I'm going to train to take part in a 24-hour adventure race. I've decided on the Quest for Cure 2008. I don't have a team yet, but I have joined Adventure Racing in Ottawa Web Forum and should learning more about it all.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Miller Says Ban Non-Enviromentally Friendly Toilets

You won't normally find toilet humour on this blog, but I feel the need to talk about Miller's toilet-ban proposal.

Frankly, I am really getting sick and tired of Mayor Miller. I don't even live in Toronto and I am thankful I don't. Next on Miller's wacko agenda is a ban on water-wasting toilets.

Why is it that politicians think that the public is stupid and can't be held to make decisions without the all-knowing-morally-(and-now-enviromentally)-superior government to intervene and make decisions for them. Are we really incompetent members of society that we can't use our brains to respond to incentives, that we need a ban? I would argue no, but these arrogant politicians seem to think so.

I am all for doing more to conserve resources and use them more efficiently, but I don't like the eco-morality that has surfaced. Environmentalists will argue that the end justifies the means, but I'm not so sure.

Let's think about on our history. Does a ban of anything work? In terms of prohibition this didn't work and just fuelled a black market. On the other hand, will there be a black market for 23L/flush toilets....probably not.

The bottom line is how are they going to enforce it? If we think about the life of a toilet, how often do you buy a new toilet? Probably never, unless it breaks down. So even if they ban all new toilets sold, you're neglecting the toilets in existing homes. If your average house has 2 toilets and the life of a house is 50-100 years, you wouldn't be able to get rid of all 23L toilets for many many years to come (By that point the ice caps would have all melted, the world will be burning up anyway...right?). So how efficient is this? Wouldn't it be more effective to offer discounts, rebates, tax-breaks etc... People respond to incentives, especially monetary ones.

I can buy Charmin Extra Strong...but with my low-flush toilet I will either have to flush twice or have to call in a plumber more often... Now if we consider that older toilets may use 23L/flush and new ones are 6L/flush and if I have to flush twice even half the time is still uses less water.

But instead of a ban, why doesn't Mayor Miller consider what they have done in Australia? A company called Caroma has invented the dual button flush toilet. A button for number 1....a button for number 2 with the appropriate water/flush levels.

David Miller was leading the Mayor group for the majority of the show, Test the Nation but he's not making some smart economic policy.

If you read the first comment of the article it pretty much sums it up: "Low flow toilets won't be good for people who are so full of it, like Mayor Miller"

Prediction: Miller's new law: If it's yellow, let it mellow.........or a ban on three-ply tissues or toilet paper in order to conserve paper.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dragon Fruit Adventures

So while grocery shopping once last week I saw this fruit and thought to myself, "What a cool looking fruit, I wonder what these taste like". So I bought it. I glanced up at the price and thought it was $2.99 each (a little pricey, but worth the exotic experience). Actually my receipt read that I just spent $6.42 on a piece of fruit. "This better be good" I thought to myself.

Not knowing what the fruit was, whether it had a big pit in the middle like an avocado or mango, I couldn't cut it open without doing a little bit of research.

By doing this research, however, I spoiled the surprise as I am about to do for you, with what it looks like on the inside. I learned that the Dragon Fruit is also known as the Pitaya or Strawberry Pear and is from the cactus family.

You can read about how something tastes, but it's not the same until you taste it for yourself. So I cut it in half and ate it like a kiwi. I would agree with the Wikipedia writers that it resembles a kiwi with crunchy seeds.

Overall, I was very disappointed. I did not exjoy the texture of the crunchy seeds and I found the flesh of the fruit to be almost tasteless. Definitely not worth 6$ nor will I be buying the fruit again; however, I now can say that I have tried Dragonfruit, a cheap life experience.

The Hypocritical Live Earth Message: Conserve, but buy my new album

What I'm feeling and what needs to be said about Live Earth has already been said/linked by two fellow Blogging Tories. I urge you to read their entire posts. Also read Rebel Sell a really good book on the "counter-culture" effect.

Stephen Taylor:

Despite the disputed logic of the cause by some, it was heartening to see so many people interested in attending a rally for what they truly believe to be a good cause. It is good to know that there is a lot of positive energy out there ready to be channeled to fight for good causes whatever they may be.
There were a few ironic moments including rap superstar Ludacris telling the audience (in song) that "if you ain't got no money [sic], take your broke ass home". Of course, this lyric is a part of a song that he sings on with Fergie (of Black Eyed Peas fame) which also includes the songstress singing "We [sic] flyin' first class / Up in the sky / Poppin' champagne / Livin' my life / In the fast lane / And I wont change / By the Glamorous, oh the flossy flossy". The video pictures Fergie flying in a private jet, ironically the vehicle of choice of some of the Live Earth performers. Irony is being told by some of this world's greatest CO2 producers to cut our consumption. Ludacris' other credits include a starring role in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Was it a movie about plug-in hybrid cars? Not likely. The film has inspired a generation of nitrous-infused street racers. Oh well, I'm sure he got some carbon credits in his gift basket to help offset the guilt. Ludacris! [sic]

Finally, if the intent of the mega-concert was to be a massive information campaign to finally bring everyone, united, onside to fight climate change, why the divisive elements? Melissa Ethridge chastised Bush's 'with us or the terrorists' refrain by saying that in addressing the world's problems that there is no "us and them". She proceeded to drive a wedge between left and right by calling both Nixon and the current Republican president "criminals". In fact, Ethridge's performance was more of an anti-war screed than a call to unite against climate change. Macy Gray's appearance also sought to alienate a significant proportion of the American population by having her stage performers wear anti-Bush and anti-Cheney t-shirts. The concert became an appeal to the left and had the effect of preaching to the choir while it did little to reach out to what should have been its intended targets: the skeptics on the right.
Will you be buying the new Smashing Pumpkins album when it comes out on July 10th? Consume, but don't consume

Damian points out that "Unlike many of my colleagues on the right, I don't think global warming is some kind of scam. But forgive me for thinking a self-congratulatory, hypocritical series of rock concerts isn't the best way to fight it:" and quotes a UK Daily Mail article:

A Daily Mail investigation has revealed that far from saving the planet, the extravaganza will generate a huge fuel bill, acres of garbage, thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions, and a mileage total equal to the movement of an army.

The most conservative assessment of the flights being taken by its superstars is that they are flying an extraordinary 222,623.63 miles between them to get to the various concerts - nearly nine times the circumference of the world. The true environmental cost, as they transport their technicians, dancers and support staff, is likely to be far higher.

The total carbon footprint of the event, taking into account the artists' and spectators' travel to the concert, and the energy consumption on the day, is likely to be at least 31,500 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to John Buckley of, who specialises in such calculations.

Throw in the television audience and it comes to a staggering 74,500 tonnes. In comparison, the average Briton produces ten tonnes in a year.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Budget Software

Instead of making up my own excel table, which I knew would be tedious I decided to spend the money and buy a budget software program. I googled "Budget Software Excel" and the first hit was this You Need a Budget. After reading a bit on this website I was very interested.

I don't know what it was, but the guy who runs the site and created the program, Jesse Mecham, just had a way with words and how he communicated on the website. It was very conversational as if he was talking right next me.

I dediced to buy YNAB Pro because I wanted to be able to import my online bank transactions and I liked the screenshots. Also there is a 60 day 100% satisfaction guarantee. And! There were five bonuses that came with the download. Bonus 1 is a Debt Snowball a spreadsheet with a step-by-step process with how to get out of debt. Bonus 2 is an income tax forecaster, Bonus 3 is a retirement planner Bonus 4 is a mortage analyzer and Bonus 5 (which I most interested in) is a car maintenance schedule.

Since I usually pay debit or credit card for everything and rarely use cash importing my bank statements is very easy.

So far after using it for one day it's been great. I decided to start July 1st instead of backtracking all of my spending.

Keeping a budget is one thing but tracking your purchases is a whole different mind set. There are so many distractions out there to tempt you. For example, today George and I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some tapes so he could tape Tour de France. I had to decided what was a need and what was a want. The guys who read this blog won't care, but I wanted to buy red nail polish for my toenails because I didn't have any. But was this a necessity? No, my toes can be naked, or I could use the silver polish I have.

As one financial expert once said on Oprah, "If it's on your ass, it's not an asset."

After downloading the YNAB software I also signed up for the 10 day e-course.

Day 1 makes an analogy of the budget being a tree and the financial things around us like vacations, house, retirement are the fruit on the tree. So my plan for today is to list my financial goals (the fruit).

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Start of a New Adventure: Keeping a Budget

After taking an economics course and watching several episodes of Til Debt Do Us Part there is a lot of talk about money these days.

I've blogged about how I dislike the whiny "I'm a student woe is me" attitude because I know you have got to be smart about your money and not wait around for handouts like a bursary.

I've lived on my own since my first year of university in 2003 and I have had learned to be smart about my money (see woe is me entry).

But like that quote says a goal is just a dream until you write it down. Well now I feel the same way about a budget. In the past I've written down a budget, a vague idea of how much I will spend each school year on groceries, rent, etc... but I never kept track of my spending and probably could have been smarter about my habits.

So this will start a new adventure and periodically I will blog about my adventures of in keeping track of EVERYTHING. This will be the trouble, I've never been good at keeping/hanging onto receipts. This has caused me to lose money in the past.

But as the other cliché goes, it's never too late for anything.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

My Coin Dish

I bought my first car in May and everything is going well. Many people I know who have cars like my parents or boyfriend have a dish or use a cup holder as a coin dish. All these years that I've been driving and borrowing other people's cars, it's been their coin dish, so even though I contribute some change to it, it's not my coin dish. But now that I have my own car, I have my own car coin dish. While it's pretty empty mind you, (I use plastic not cash) I still have a dish nonetheless. And it makes me happy and laugh on how little things amuse me.