Thursday, December 22, 2011

Skinny is not Healthy

The Globe and Mail Hot Button blog, a column designed merely to get attention by shocking and appalling audiences, making it the Fox News of the website, ran a headline yesterday stating that family members should let each other know that they're fat this holiday season. Yes, because in the midst of an awkward turkey, stuffing and potatoes dinner, everyone wants to be reminded that they can lose a few, particularly when they're with their family, which is not going to aggravate anyone at all.

The blog argues that a tough love approach is needed in order to combat obesity, which is an increasingly large, pardon the pun, problem around the world. But the very notion that a frank discussion of how fat a person has gotten is going to lead to productive results is flawed and ridiculous.

First of all, if a person in your family turns to you at the dinner table and tells you that you should lose a few pounds, your first inclination is probably to tell them to go to hell. This inclination is entirely correct and justified. You are well within your rights to react this way and end the discussion.

Second of all, if you really want a person to take an interest in their health, you should encourage them to be healthy. It's a general misconception out there that skinny equals healthy. There are many skinny people who eat badly or don't exercise, but the consequences don't hang off their belts. It's usually good genetics or bone structure, but as infuriating as it may be, it does not mean that they are de facto healthy. They can be just as prone to high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes or cancers if their lifestyle habits don't add up.

The same can be said for bigger people as well. Just because they tip the scale in the opposite direction, doesn't mean that they aren't healthy or active. Skinny also doesn't equate happy- an active lifestyle, balanced diet and a general feeling of satisfaction with ones life doesn't just come from being skinny.

And if you're seriously concerned about someone's health, try being healthy yourself. Be a good example. Be the conscientious host who offers veggie and fruit platters and sparkling water at events. Don't load up the table with fatty foods and then tell people that they can lose a few. It's a great way to anger family and alienate friends to tell them that they're fat.

One final point and this is indicative of a larger problem in today's world: you don't want to shame people into losing weight. When you tell someone that they're fat, guess what happens to their sense of self worth? This process of shaming people who are overweight leads to negative body imaging and it can affect every aspect of a person's life. It can lead to terrible eating disorders and a dysfunctional relationship with food and massive depression. If you're truly concerned for people and their health, emphasize that you want them to be healthy, not less fat.

This is a health issue, a public health issue, but guess what? So is depression and eating disorders. Don't create a new public health issue while trying to solve another. If you're going to tell anyone anything this holiday season for their own good, tell them to be healthy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are We Too Cool for Santa?

A recent outburst by a Santa hater on Fox News has created a buzz and re-ignited the debate as to whether or not Santa exists. In a not so Miracle on 34th street style, news anchor Robin Robinson ranted to Chicago viewers that kids should be told as soon as they can talk that Santa doesn't exist and doesn't bring them presents or come down the chimney or eat cookies. She later apologized for possibly scarring Chicago children for life by stating that she hadn't intended to give her little outburst without a parental advisory warning.

Of course, the damage has likely already been done, both to the children and to her reputation as a reasonable, fair-minded news reporter- oh wait, she works for Fox. Never mind.

But it does bring to mind an interesting point. Should children be told as soon as they can talk that Santa doesn't exist? Assuming of course that the ability to talk makes them sophisticated, reasonable adults with common sense who will not be shattered by the end of a loveable myth held near and dear to their little hearts with images of peace, love and some guy with a beard raiding the fridge for a Coke.

Perhaps in the newly intellectual, high tech age where everyone is so self aware and well educated on just about every subject on the planet thanks to Wikipedia, perhaps humanity has evolved to the point where they don't need to be lied to with heart-warming artificial made up stories. Perhaps this cynical generation of people don't need naive beliefs and hopes.

Perhaps it's good enough that they have Harry Potter and Twilight to provide those things. Maybe Santa doesn't do it for people anymore. Maybe we've gotten too cool for Santa?

It's funny that a generation of people enthralled by boy wizards and vampire love triangles somehow thinks that a man in a sleigh who delivers presents is stretching it a bit.

Unless Santa is really a boy wizard with elf ears from Middle Earth who competes for the love of a fair damsel by delivering presents around the world, a feat that could never be accomplished by the vampire love interest of the same said damsel? Now there's something that we could probably sell. Of course, it would have to be a book first, then a badly cast movie and finally, it would have to have a prequel.

I call movie rights.

Donor Beware

We all want to help make a difference in the world and help out. That's why charitable giving is one of those things that we all try to do if we can, even in tough economic times. But the world of charitable giving is fraught with problems and people are becoming more and more wary.

It was revealed today that Japan is using part of its funds from the tsunami relief fund to subsidize their annual whale hunt. While they argue that the whale hunt is for research purposes, the hunt ultimately ends with the death of animals and the sale of their meat. This has caused conservationists to get up in arms, but the fact that this practice, which clearly has a commercial value to it, is being subsidized by aid money, is frustrating.

So little of the aid money that we give in times of crisis seems to go to helping actual people. The subsidy will likely indirectly benefit victims of the tsunami by pumping some revenue to stricken areas, and it probably accounts for very little of the total aid received, but it points to a much larger problem with aid. Donors don't know where it goes, who makes the decisions how it's spent and who actually benefits.

And yet, the need to help others is strong, particularly when a natural disaster occurs causing unnecessary suffering. Do organizations take unfair advantage of these very human feelings to advance other causes? It's a true cause for concern for everyone, and it's not just limited to natural disasters. Initiatives for poverty alleviation and medical research within our own communities are also suspect. Some of the largest charitable organizations are now run as businesses with CEOs who make salaries comparable to bankers. How does that seem justified?

This is not to say that we should stop giving to charitable causes. But we might all want to be more aware of what's going on within the organizations that are soliciting us for donations. Like corporations, charities should be held accountable for the way that money is spent and their CEOs should be encouraged to literally spread the wealth by not accepting such large paycheques. We should all be choosing organizations that are making better use of our dollars.

Being Real Sucks

I give up.

That's it. I simply give up.

It all started with an innocent flipping through a silly gossip magazine and coming across pictures and a scanty article on the Victoria Secret models diet secrets, which includes juice fasts, eating for blood type and eliminating all intake of liquids and solids for 8 hours straight. I suspected as a reasonable person that this was dangerous, so I casually consulted a health care professional, she being my best friend who had come over for dinner one night, on the health implications of no solids or liquids in the amount of time that is equivalent to a North American working day. She confirmed that the effects of dehydration of this type includes all the usual consequences, such as light-headedness, weakness and death.

Fair enough. We're not all going to be lingerie models, we shouldn't all be lingerie models, and a lot of us wouldn't accept millions of dollars in exchange for that kind of punishment.

Then I came across an online article which states that H & M is computer generating their perfect models. We've all heard about air-brushing and trimming curves in pictures to 'enhance' models, but H & M is taking it one step farther by actually designing these perfect 10s and then pasting clothes on them. It's like a sick virtual online dress up party.

At this point, I'm about ready to put my head in the oven with a platter of Christmas cookies.

So it's not news to me that the fashion industry is all about making me feel bad about my body in an effort to increase my appetite for expensive clothes to compensate for my lack of physical perfection. What's really killing me is the idea that competition to be the body beautiful is so fierce that even real people can't meet the standards anymore.

H & M is insisting that they don't want to push perfect body image-they simply want to show off the clothes. If that was the case, the clothes should really speak for themselves, and possibly should be hung on hangers, unless those hangers need to be further digitally enhanced for not being thin enough.

The virtual world has already dashed the hopes of lots of real women. The constant competition with virtual girlfriends in countries like Japan, the constant competition with online games for attention from real boyfriends when we're lucky enough to have them, the constant threat of Facebook seekers looking to re-connect with exes and now computer generated goddesses. It's no wonder that I want to give up.

People will say that a real person can't be replaced- but we're being replaced all of the time. If it's not for a virtual person connecting online, it's for a computer generated image which has no place in reality. Being real sucks.

I'm going now to pick up a book. Made with paper.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The War on Christmas

The Colbert Christmas special last year featured country star Toby Keith singing a song about the War on Christmas, where he denounces the change from Christmas to Holiday and tries to take back Christmas for the Christians. It's a great song and a great Christmas special in the spirit of Colbert's hilarious and biting social commentary. But it looks like Toby's going to have more to sing about this year, as the Occupy Wall Street Movement announces their latest venture: Occupy Christmas.

Abdusters magazine is calling for Occupy Christmas to be launched today, Black Friday in the US, where there's already been one story of a woman in LA using pepper spray to ward off other shoppers looking for deals. This story would probably have more sway if it wasn't in LA where most people are crazy anyway, but it does reinforce what greed has done to people today and that gives one point to the Occupiers.

One point against the Occupiers? Well, launching an offensive against a season which is traditionally known for peace and goodwill is not the greatest PR move. True, Adbusters is targeting the mountains of presents left for entitled greedy children and the spirit of empty consumerism and waste that spoils the holidays. But the reason why this movement is going to fail is because that is not the way the rest of us tend to see it.

The Occupy Wall Street movement resonates with people because it attacks social injustice and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. It's a battle between the haves and the have nots. But the point of Occupy Wall Street is not to turn us into a society of have nots; it's to bridge the gap and give everyone a fair chance at a good life where they don't have to struggle for the basics. It harkens to the spirit of 'we want bread, but we want roses too.'

Fair enough. But Christmas isn't a social justice issue. The most meaningful aspects of Christmas remains the same for the majority of people: getting together with friends and families, giving to charity, watching Christmas specials on tv, baking gingerbread cookies. These things are for everyone, not just the rich elite.

The Occupy movement should be focused on what it was intended to do: fight the power on Wall street and make the big banks accountable to the people whose tax dollars bailed them out in the midst of a financial crisis. There can be some important social changes, changes to government and policy as a result of this movement and more important of all, a change in attitude when it comes to how society should treat its people.

If anything, the Occupy movement would do best by embracing Christmas. The real Christmas, which is all about giving to others, and not just in the form of gifts. Not only will people resent a raining of their Christmas parade, they are likely to misinterpret it as an attack on a cherished holiday. Adbusters is quick to point out that they don't protest the religious spirit or the giving spirit of the holiday, but that's not the way that most people are going to view it.

Occupy Christmas is a bold statement and that's clearly what they want. But it's not going to help the cause. Occupiers should be celebrating with everyone else and asking them to do so moderately.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus Are Falling Off

OC Transpo and the city of Ottawa transit riders are at it again and this time, it's all out war. With the 2010 Ottawa bus strike fresh in the minds of everyone in the city, it's galling to see that the union representing the bus drivers is threatening once again to strike a year later after what they called a 'witch hunt' of its employees.

Labelling Ottawa transit riders as a torch and pitchfork mob is not exactly going to endear them to the public. But then again, there was zero public sympathy for the drivers when they went on strike in the winter of 2010, timing the strike to fall in the coldest months of the year and just in time to spoil the holidays. They stranded seniors, low income people and students during a time of crazy snow falls, exams and what should have been peak holiday shopping and get togethers.

Compounding the problem with an obnoxious attitude and no sign of compromise, the union kept digging its own grave by making statements that were anything but sympathetic for stranded riders. Now, the union is back at it in the media, claiming that they can stop all the buses with a flick of their fingers.

Let's consider the recent OC Transpo stories, both of which can be found on youtube:

The singing bus driver: riders complained to OC Transpo management that they found this singing bus driver annoying. He was told to stop. He stopped, even though many others said that they found his singing to be delight and if you watch the video, he's incredibly charming. Rare for a bus driver of any kind. But the complaints of the few meant no more singing for the many who enjoyed it. OC Transpo stated that professionalism was their top priority and that they had to silence him.

The swearing bus driver: the online video is supposed to portray an angry bus driver screaming at a semi-autistic teenager, even calling him retard and swearing profusely. While there's controversy about the context of this video, it's pretty clear that this is a rude man on the edge, talking in a way that many of us would never tolerate. In the interest of maintaining professionalism, OC Transpo wants to fire this bus driver. The union leader for OC Transpo has now proclaimed that there's a witch hunt and is threatening to strike.

So much for professionalism.

What does it say about the city of Ottawa when a union defends a screaming swearing employee against the public and management and declares a witch hunt?

OC Transpo is not the transit of choice in Ottawa. It's the only transit in Ottawa. There is no competing transit service, there is no complimentary service like a metro and there is no other commuter train or tram or streetcar. It is the transit for low income, students, seniors, mentally ill, or for those people who simply choose not to drive.

The amount of urban sprawl occurring in Ottawa due to sky-rocketing property tax and million dollar condos has driven most Ottawans out to Kanata, Barrhaven and Orleans because there is no affordable housing downtown. It's only natural that transit is going to be considered a have-to rather than a want-to option.

So most people aren't happy about riding the bus in the first place. And it's probably not a pleasant job to have. But the attitude that bus drivers for the most part are giving to their riders is that they see us as nothing more than chattle. And we aren't chattle. We deserve better.

Transit riders aren't asking bus drivers to be singing happy people. We're not even asking them to be pleasant to us at all. We just want them to do their job and treat us with a minimum amount of respect and not call strike on us every time that something bad happens to them.

All of us are accountable in our jobs if we blow our tops or lash out at our client base when working with the public. You know what happens to us in that situation? We get fired. We don't have people step in to defend us or call for action. OC Transpo should learn to be accountable as well, even though they clearly have no vested interest in serving us well, as there is no competition of any sort.

Transit is becoming a fight in Ottawa. It's time that the city intervene and legislate it. Transit shouldn't be a fight. It's a right. We can't all walk, drive and bike year round. Although with the way things are going, most of us probably want to.

Peace, Love and Big Bucks

Lululemon is coming under fire for its latest bag which features a quote from Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, described as a favourite among free market capitalists. It's a book which claims that self interest is the path to a better world, a true right wing lover's book, in sharp contrast to the holistic hipster chic attitude of the yoga-loving store.

Known for such spiritual tidbits as 'Friends are more important than money' and other trendy new age sayings for whole wheat goodness, many people are shocked or angered by this quote from Ayn Rand. And yet, does it really surprise anyone that a company which charges $80 for seaweed pants is all about making money?

Time to wake up and smell the herbal shade tree green tea, folks. The feel good earthiness of Lululemon is nothing more than a marketing strategy and not a life philosophy. Of course, smart marketing and brand recognition is about building a philosophy around a product and selling a lifestyle to go with it. That's why the Lululemon girl is the one who eats right, carries her own tea tumbler with her to the bus stop on the way to yoga after work, looking cute and flexible in her stretchy pants.

The brand may be selling you this idea of a responsible, fair, ideal and healthy lifestyle with spiritual benefits. The fact remains that it is a brand and the only purpose of its existence is to sell you goods and make a profit. It hardly matters that the business model it's based on has nothing to do with the feel good clap trap that it espouses on its bags and T-shirts. The company probably comes a lot closer to the Ayn Rand mentality and charging ahead with whatever means allows it to sell you more hyped up goods.

Even its positive messaging about setting goals for the future is suspiciously similar to the can-do capitalist mentality. Ultimately, it's all about getting what you want and what the company wants is more sales.

Like any capitalist model, Lululemon succeeds because it gives consumers what they want. People actually enjoy the brand's products. But maybe they should keep it in perspective that this is ultimately a company and that it shouldn't take it or themselves so seriously. Buy the pants if you like the pants. Don't buy the pants and tell people to live spiritually through them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The new Benetton ad campaign titled 'Unhate' featuring digitally altered photos of world leaders kissing each other is causing a firestorm in Rome for depicting the Pope kissing an imam. It has no doubt also caused discomfort for other public figures, such as Barack Obama who is depicted kissing both China and Venezuela's leaders, no doubt making Michelle more than a tad uncomfortable.

Benetton is known for making controversial ad campaigns. Which is probably better than the overpriced dull clothes it makes. It's disappointing, however, to see a clothes company try to make use of what should be an inspirational message of tolerance to sell their cheap wares.

If you remove the shock value of the pictures themselves, the ultimate message isn't inspirational; it's confusing. On the one hand, love is not quite the emotion that the company is trying to get at. Tolerance, understanding and open relations can be depicted in other ways than lip locks. Why they didn't opt for something more simple and acceptable like shaking hands, a gesture which shows concilation and cooperation, is beyond me. Of course, there's no shock value in hand shaking, so the lip locking is the way that they decided to go. And I'm sure that the clothing company doesn't want to be mistaken for the UN which actually works on conciliation and not sweaters.

On the other hand, there's no clear indication that any of these people actually hate each other in real life. While many of these factions are at odds, they don't actively 'hate' each other. It would be counteractive for them to hate each other, as a matter of fact, because they share the world stage and often have to find ways to work together. Hating something or someone means that you actively wish for their destruction. And while Christians and Muslims don't exactly like each other, the Pope isn't actively gunning for imams.

An Unhate campaign around issues of racial tolerance and sexual orientation may be more appropriate, but those issues would require subtlety, tact and reason, while the company opted for cheap shock. I don't hate this campaign, but I definitely feel a strong unlike for it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Great Reads for November 11th

The following is a list of books that I recommend for any person interested in reading more about the two world wars. It's by no means exhaustive, and there are many other great reads out there, but these are the ones that I personally recommend:

1- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. The quintessential trench warfare novel, the graphic details within this book can be frightening to many readers, as it should be.

2- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. A solid read from one of literature's manliest of writers, the distinctly macho flavour of this book is softened by its stark attention to detail and total lack of sentimentality; appropriate for this genre.

3- Mr. Britling sees it through by H.G. Wells. While Wells is more commonly known for his science fiction works such as the Invisible Man or the Island of Dr. Moreau, Wells never considered himself to be a science fiction writer and wrote many quality pieces of literature regardless of genre or type. This novel is heart-wrenching, as seen from the point of view of one man who doesn't actually fight in the war, but does suffer.

4- Bonheur d'occasion by Gabrielle Roy. Known as the Tin Flute in English, this book takes place in the quartier St. Henri in Montreal during the first world war and is centered around a poor working class French family. It offers a unique perspective of the war from afar, where recruitment came down to a question of righteousness for upper class Canadians or a winter jacket and three square meals a day for the working poor. The book loses some of its character in its English form; highly recommended in French for those who can.

5- The Diary of Anne Frank. The thing that struck me the most about this tragic tale is the fact that the point of view is so fresh, frank and girlish. Anne Frank is very much a child, and her writings reflect the preoccupations of her age as well as a developing sense of self in the most extraordinary of circumstances. A truly inspirational and very human read.

Remembrance Day

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year, which makes this November 11th all the more special. It's a good time to remind people that November 11th was chosen as Remembrance Day because it is originally Armistice Day, when, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month back in 1918, World War I ended. Known as the Great War, it was the first global conflict which threatened to tear apart the civilized world and caused millions of people to suffer and die.

The Great War is often glossed over in favour of the Second World War, which is highly popularized by Nazi films and countless images of Hitler. As a person who's studied history and considers myself to be something of a historian, it pains me to hear people say that World War I is boring and that the second world war was just so much more interesting to study and read up about. Hollywood and media have done a great disservice by glamourizing the Nazis and highlighting the goriest and most sensational details of the second world war. Politicians have also done a great disservice to the memory of this conflict by emphasizing current conflicts which many people do not wholeheartedly support.

With veterans of the Great War passing, it's disheartening to think that this war is going to fade into relative obscurity, or that future generations will blur together the details of one world war with the other, mostly due to Hollywood's lack of attention to detail. The Great War cannot be forgotten. It is the reason that November 11th was chosen as the day to commemorate and honour war veterans. November 11th has since become a day to commemorate all veterans of all conflicts, even those who are still actively fighting today. In all of this, the Great War gets forgotten.

When the population takes a moment of silence at 11am on November 11th, they should use that moment to think about what war means to them. But they should also take that moment to think about how it must have felt, on that fateful day in 1918, after suffering through 4 years of a global conflict which was supposed to be over by Christmas 1914, to be alive to see the end of the war and a return to peace. They should put themselves into the shoes of those people, think about what must have been in their hearts at that moment, what faint flicker of hopes for a return to peace and normality was within them, and how thankful they were to see the end of violence and madness.

Remembrance Day is about remembering and people should not forget the Great War or its impact on the world. Take a moment to reflect on what it would have felt like to see your world turned upside down by conflict and the sudden appearance of armies. Take a moment to reflect on what it would have felt like to witness entire towns being torn apart or an entire generation of young men losing their lives to bullets, poison, disease, starvation, cold or madness.

War is not a period film or a video game. It's a part of human history that should always be remembered as it was, a brutal reminder of what civilizations are capable of and how we should never make the same mistake.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Suffer the Little Children

If there was a doubt in your mind as to whether or not children these days are spoiled, let it be swiftly erased with a look at a letter a group of children from Oshawa wrote to one of their neighbours the day after Halloween:

The letter states that the former owner of the house, a lady, used to give out candy apples, but that there was no candy whatsoever from the new owner of the house. It goes on to explain how the new homeowner can rectify his mistake, outlining that chocolate bars are fine, they get too many chips and that if the owner would like to 'deliver' the candy to them over the weekend, that would also be an acceptable solution.


Part of me doesn't know where to begin with this one, but maybe a good first step is to point out what Halloween actually is. It's a holiday, considered pagan by some, but mostly a reason to dress up as imaginary people and go door to door for treats. There's a tacit understanding of behalf of the two parties that adults will stock up on candy and children will make themselves adorable or horrible in order to get it. But there's one important thing to underline in this exercise: it is VOLUNTARY.

There may be people out there who don't believe in it. There may be others who simply don't like it. There may be even more people who don't believe in the commercialization of a holiday that started out as an excuse for people to go around and get to know their neighbours. Whatever the reason, nobody HAS to participate in Halloween. And that includes doling out the sweet stuff.

It's not just supposed to be about the candy. Getting to dress up weird and go out late at night are the primary perks of this holiday and candy is just icing on the cake. It's not a candy grab. At least, that's not what it was intended to be. But it's no surprise that kids continue to see it as a candy grab and treat it like one, to the point where they feel entitled to complain about the quality or quantity of the candy or whether or not they get it. And even to the point where they feel that the candy should be 'delivered' to them by errant adults.

The homeowner responded in the best possible way:

"Dear Children of Entitlement (and likely their parents)," starts the Kijiji post. "You have gone ahead and reminded me of why I do not want children, and why I weep for the future."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Children: you have rights. Rights to an education, clean water, shelter, food, and the right not to be exploited for labour purposes. You do not have the right to Halloween or any other holiday where you feel that gifts and sweets should be showered upon you from on high. Alas, this applies to Christmas too, even though you probably think that it's every child's right to be greeted by a Christmas tree with an explosion of presents underneath its holiday tree skirt.

It's yet another common sense lesson that kids don't seem to be getting from their parents: gratitude. Gratitude for what you have, and for the things that you don't have to suffer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who Doesn't Like Short Shorts?

Dana White is trying to put a stop to a controversy regarding his views on homosexuals. The culinary union which has a beef, pardon the pun, with the UFC President and his organization, has made the claim that he's anti-homosexual and cited a slur that he once used in an interview which they deemed homophobic. There is this idea that because of that one comment and comments made by fighters and trainers regarding the idea of training with gay fighters, that the whole UFC organization is homophobic.

That's ridiculous. How can any organization that promotes grappling on the ground with men in short shorts be homophobic? How can any organization which promotes such tight short shorts be considered homophobic? The whole premise is wrong.

While it's true that the super-macho world of ultimate fighting may not be a place for sissies, it's hardly anti-gay. Hyper masculinity is not a form of discrimination based on sexual orientation. While it may be deemed to encourage sexual stereotypes, it itself is not discriminatory by definition. The UFC stands for strength, endurance, competition and various forms of combat. That doesn't make it anti-gay.

And while it may be true that fighters have said homophobic things in the past, this is a sad reflection on themselves and their own personal opinions, opinions that White would be quick to disassociate himself and his organization with. He has even come out and said that he would like one of his gay fighters to come out and be open. It obviously isn't an issue for him.

The other point to consider in this whole debate is the accuser. The culinary union is fighting with promoters like White because they're anti-union and events taking place in Vegas with members of the local are probably in violation of the union rules. But turning around and accusing him of being anti-gay, when he is in fact, anti-union, is not fair.

If they have a problem with White and his anti-union stance, they should take him up on that point and on that point alone. It might be time for the culinary union to man up.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Book- Armchair Hockey

Hi everyone,

Just letting you know that my book Armchair Hockey is now live online! It’s available for sale at these links:

And for those in the USA:

I will be hosting a book launch party in November sometime. More details to follow. It’s an open invite. I’ll have copies for sale with me or you can buy it in advance and I can sign it later.

Please circulate to friends who may be interested!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nein Kiss!

A German etiquette group has called for an end to kissing in the workplace and has called the kiss greeting a form of 'terrorism.' It also claimed that the act of leaning into a person to kiss them on the cheek in a cordial manner to be a violation of the 'socially defined distance zone' or the SDDZ. In the past, I believe that the old name for this zone was something like the Berlin Wall.

While I heartily agree that kissing in the workplace is uncomfortable and inappropriate and that a ban should be put in place, I must protest the terrorism charge. It really seems to me that this is a trivialization of the word terrorism, as it deals with something that is clearly not a very serious issue.

In terms of the amber alert on terror, a kiss on the cheek doesn't even measure up to topaz level. It doesn't cause violence to my person, strike fear in my heart, incapacitate the highest levels of government or pose a threat to my democratic principles, unless you count the right to remain distant. This is really a pretty minor issue that has more to do with social and personal preference than a threat to the civilized world.

It's not even a particularly alarming moral issue. Kissing in the workplace is one thing, but a peck on the cheek, or pecking, is benign. I highly doubt that any person, even the most socially awkward of us, will ever run screaming from a peck on the cheek and lock themselves in a bomb shelter for 40 years while eating Spam. A terrorist attack might incite that kind of drastic action- a peck on the cheek should not.

It may be that the Germans take their etiquette, moral order and personal space a lot more seriously than the rest of the industrialized world. That's all fine and dandy. But they could definitely afford to use a little tact and common sense and come up with a better way to describe the inappropriateness of workplace kissing.

Inappropriate, for example, would be the right word to use to make their point. This would be an appropriate use of the word inappropriate. Perplexing may also apply, uncomfortable, awkward, socially inacceptable- all of these will do. But unless someone's bombed something- don't use terror.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keep It On

A story about a woman who took her top off at a beer festival in Toronto is getting some surprising support from many commentators who have stated that the woman is well within her rights and that the sexualization of breasts is an outmoded concept. While it's legal in the province of Ontario, Canada to be topless in public, and not just down to the bra, but right down to the nipples, one fact remains: it's still not a good idea.

Take the example of the woman at the beer festival. The woman's friend dared her to take off her top. She accepted the dare and stripped to her bra. A security officer then came up to her and asked her to put her top back on. This is not an unreasonable request. Consider the point of view of the security officer. His job is to make sure that people are safe at this alcohol-fuelled outdoor event. As we all know, people tend to be a little less themselves and a little less behaved when they drink at large outdoor gatherings focused on beer. His train of thought probably went something like this:

I have to keep these people safe while they drink. It's best that they're not provoked or that they don't get too excited. Womens' boobs tend to excite men. Large groups of men are drinking right now in the vicinity of this woman's boobs. This might lead to trouble and I'm the one responsible to keep the order. Maybe I should be preventative and ask her to cover herself up. Don't want any trouble happening.

There's not a single sexist thought in that process. And yet commentators jumped on the idea that this was sexist move. Some people even claim that it's not her problem if boobs excite men, it's their issue.

True. But while something may be perfectly legal, such as walking across the street without looking both ways, and while the fact that a car may not notice that you didn't look both ways and that it's the car's problem and not yours, neither one of these things equate to good idea.

Let's look at the so-called feminist argument that a woman's body shouldn't be overly sexualized and that society should get over the exposure of women's breasts. While it's true that it's a natural part of the human body and people shouldn't be offended by it, there are basic rules about how to behave in public and those rules are called society and living together in harmony. While it's also true that farting is a natural bodily function, we still consider it rude to be doing it in public.

Then there's the whole rights issue, as if the right to bare oneself falls into the line of the right to bear arms. Going topless is not a form of expression, no matter how hot your body is or how strong your belief in the fact that your body is a work of art. There are just some circumstances in life in which clothing is not an option. Attending a public event is one of those.

So leaving aside any potential issues with morality and public decency, going topless as a woman is quite simply not a good idea. Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

President Bourne

Michael Moore is a smart man. But even smart people can say stupid things. When Moore recently expressed support for Hollywood actor Matt Damon to run for President in 2012, it made me cringe, on the one hand because I imagined all the backlash from the right wing pundits who are going to jump up and down like screaming monkeys and claim that he's a nutbar, but on the other hand, because they wouldn't be wrong on this one.

There are just so many things wrong with this idea. There are the simple logistics: Matt Damon has no experience, has never held an elected office or passed a bill of law, and as far as politician age goes, he's a toddler. Not exactly the right stuff to run for the highest political office in the country.

Then there are the issues that he's spoken out against, like standardized testing. Yes, standardized testing. Not health reform or foreign policy. Almost anyone with basic education will tell you that standardized testing is out-moded and generally useless when assessing the capacity of students.

It doesn't take a public administration degree to figure that out and it doesn't take a whole lot of courage to speak out against this particular issue. How is he going to fare when the issue turns to the Middle East, abortion, gun control or fiscal policy? Speaking out against testing for school children is one thing; speaking out on these vital and controversial issues is another.

This is not to say that he's not a nice guy who has principles and intelligence. It just takes a lot more than that to run a country.

Then there's the ridiculous side of this debate. Anyone who's seen the Bourne Trilogy is going to have images in their heads of Jason Bourne, US President, holding cabinet meetings and then drop kicking the policy advisors who don't agree with his ideas. I can just picture him doing crazy martial arts moves and yelling emphatically

"You-support-better-learning-for-students!" chopping with his wrist to emphasize each word.

Not to mention all the Team America fans gathering at political rallies to yell out Matt-Da-Mon! just for the sheer fun of it.

And you know who his first advisor is going to be when he's elected into office? His childhood best friend, of course, the acting-impaired Ben Affleck. His job would be to verbally break down any wayward pussy footing cabinet ministers that are wasting their time. I can just see him addressing the House:

"You f*!@ing pussies need to get your s$!t together. Not for your goddamn selves or your idiot electorate. You need to get your f*!@ing s$!t together for America! For America you motherf*!@ers! Don't you sit and look at me in that dumb ass way, you know bloody damn well what I'm talking about! You suits wouldn't have lasted a day in my hood! Boston yo! We would have run your sorry asses out of town on day one! Now are you going to vote or aren't you??? I don't got all day, assholes! I got other places to be and more people to kick around."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Get Some Writers

Hollywood needs to read the memo which states that audiences are sick of remakes. Upon hearing that the classic coming of age love story Dirty Dancing is going to be remade, I immediately had the same reaction as when I hear that liver and onions are about to be served. It's bad enough that Hollywood is cranking out superhero franchise after superhero franchise, re-casting them with different actors in an effort to find the magic box office formula, as well as creating endless amounts of sequels for movies that worked well the first time, the LAST thing we need at the moment is another remake.

Footloose and Fame and all the other classic 80s films are all getting a makeover. And while it's nice for a new generation to see these films, why not just show them these films? How does it improve Footloose to have Zac Efron in it? Does it make the film any better than the original? No.

The problem is when Hollywood gives classic films a face lift, it often forgets to inject it with the same heart or character. Star Wars, anyone? All the CG in the world can't make up for robotic acting performances or bad writing. The original Star Wars at least had charm and well-developed characters. Who cares if that alien is a trash can with aluminum foil feet? We still wanted Luke, Leia and Han to be safe.

Hollywood- get some writers. Get some original ideas for a change. Stop borrowing from the past. Take a few risks. While audiences continue to eat up superhero films, it's also because we've been given very little else to choose from. Movies provide an escape for us, but they also should provide a new experience- not an old one wrapped up in a new format.

And while we're on the topic, stop making Mission Impossible films with Tom Cruise. The franchise worked once when it was new and clever. Now it's getting old and repetitive, like its highly predictable star who's made a career out of talking intensely and running while pumping both arms.

This doesn't mean that we want to see a lot of art house drama. A well done blockbuster is just as good as a well done period piece. It just means that audiences need a change.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Paging the Pimple Doctor

A story broke out recently (pardon the pun) regarding Kim Kardashian and her psoriasis. In it, the reality star revealed that she had recently been diagnosed with this condition which has no cure and reveals itself in the form of blotches on your skin. She was devastated at the news, stating that her whole career is centered around her beauty and how the press has a field day whenever she gains a pound, so they would not likely be so forgiving of her skin condition.

While it's a shame that Kim Kardashian's sudden realization that a career built on beauty may be put into jeopardy, psoriasis websites, scientists, dermatologists and support groups have jumped on the opportunity to shed some light on this important skin condition. Realizing the potential of a sexy spokesperson, one website in particular, psoriasis cure now, is taking advantage of this news piece to create awareness of this disease.

For Kim, she must have known at the age of 30, that her reign as a beauty queen able to live completely off an infamous bum profile would have to come to an end one day. It may be time to go to college or invest in a career that is not entirely rump dependent.

For those who suffer from various forms of psoriasis, this skin disease, while uncomfortable and uncurable, is not deadly. Scientists have developed creams and other treatments to assist people with this condition, in the full knowledge that having bad skin can make you unhappy and less confident. But while it's highly laudable that some people feel strongly that awareness and support should go towards this issue, I think a lot of scientists are focused more on other things, such as, oh I don't know, cancer.

The psoriasis cure now website fully acknowledges that this disease will not put Kim Kardashian in the ugly pile, but they're happy to have her as their latest poster child, seeing as their last one, Ben Franklin, wasn't generating the type of web traffic that he used to.

Psoriasis, like its cousin diseases eczema, are uncomfortable and do impact the quality of life for those who suffer with them. But it is not debilitating as the website seems to indicate. There is no strong research evidence to link it to dangerous diseases or underlying conditions. It is also not traumatic, as the website describes it.

Let's call it like we see it and say that a rash is a rash and people should get over it, sufferers and onlookers alike. And work on other important things, like
that skin cancer.

To see the website:

Little Girl, Big Controversy

There's a big controversy online about the appearance of a 10 year old model on the cover of French Vogue, dressed up in glamourous clothes, sexual poses and fully done up with makeup. While some parents groups are saying that this is sending the wrong message out to children, others have simply called the images creepy. But I think that people are forgetting the real point of this whole debate: marketing.

Leaving aside the pedophilia argument and all that stuff about how children should be allowed to be children, you have to look at this from the point of view from those who are pioneering this new field of fashion: marketers. With all the talk about recessions and bad economy, people just aren't snapping up glamour goods at the same rate as they were back in the good old days. This has made it increasingly difficult for corporations to take advantage of the frivolous or insecure tendencies of most adults with disposable income.

But market research has indicated that an ever-increasing and ever-younger group of consumers does have money to spend on themselves, as shown by the hugely popular Twilight series which has grown the 'tween' market. Not only is this segment of the population playing a larger role in growing social media and feeding into the tween economy of vampire love books, they can also be targeted for glamour goods.

The added value of this young demographic is that they're already insecure. With the awkward transition years of puberty and changing hormone levels, the marketers don't have to go to the trouble of creating insecurities to exploit; they just have to exploit them.

So you see, the real victims here aren't the children about to lose their childhood or the growing threat of pedophiles lusting after them online. The real victims, as they often are, are the marketers. They're just trying to turn their lives around in a bad economy so that they can go back to posting billion dollar profits by reminding people that they're inadequate unless they buy their products.

The image of the glammed up 10 year old for me was a stark reminder of what it is that people in the industry see every time they build a new magazine cover. Yes, they sell you glamour, a lifestyle, a fantasy that you can't possibly live up to or ever expect to experience in your lifetime. But the bottom line is that they see you as a product. A sum total of the brand name that you wear or the things that you can afford to buy. It's something which seems less obvious and less insiduous when you see adult models. But the image of the young child reminded me that we're all being exploited and that's the bare truth. It just took a child to remind me of that all important fact.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

So Smart He's Dumb

A Swedish man has been arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen. He claimed that he was only doing it as a hobby to see if it was possible, but when he verified with Sweden's Radiation Authority, they responded by sending police. The greatest line to come out of this story is the following:

"Although he says police didn't detect dangerous levels of radiation in his apartment, he now acknowledges the project wasn't such a good idea."

Wasn't such a good idea? Considering that he may have caused a mini Hiroshima in his own kitchen? While it's highly acknowledged that hindsight is 50/50 and that there are those ideas that seem better to us at the time than in the future, you have to wonder how someone smart enough to figure out atom splitting in his spare time would be dumb enough to endanger himself in his own home.

It makes me think of other brilliant minds who have evaporated due to their staggering brilliance within their field and their complete lack of common sense in reality. Or the two philosophy students who argue the probability of traversing time and space, only to get lost on the way to the cafeteria.

It's funny how human beings can simultaneously be so smart and so dumb at the same time. While this home scientist may have had the best of intentions, and may have been motivated by sheer curiosity, he didn't take into account the issue of his personal safety, the safety of those living nearby, the legality of his actions or the fact that his online blog about atom splitting may have been deemed potentially dangerous.

I'm sure that this man has read the papers at some point in his life and realizes that the world is somewhat concerned about this thing called terrorism? And that home terrorist may be interested in learning about atom splitting for a very different reason?

Hopefully, he will have smarter legal counsel on his side if he comes to trial. One who will tell him that science experiments should be left to scientists in labs.

All in the Genes

It turns out that there is no secret to long life. A study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University has found that many people 100 years or older are no more healthy than the rest of us. Surprisingly, it's not the vitamin-popping health fanatics who are outliving the rest of us, but quite a few smokers, drinkers and those without a gym membership.

It appears that longevity is due mostly to good genes, proving once again that life's not fair and that it's better in life to be lucky than to be good. Those living to a ripe old age are probably the genetically blessed and not everyone within their line is going to be the same. It's about as scientific as the toss of a dime.

But that's no excuse to slack off the diet, exercise and good habits. There's more than enough research out there to show that even mild improvements to eating habits and exercise regimes are beneficial in the long term, regardless of your genes or build. The researchers are also quick to point out that those over 100 generally grew up in a generation with no obesity and a much more physical lifestyle that included more walking and less car dependence. Which makes perfect sense.

It's funny that we live in a society which is health and image obsessed, and yet, we're not more healthy than the generations past. It's probably because our health obsession is more closely linked to image and marketing than most of us think. And it might also be that our chosen lifestyle of cars, work and constant screen time is killing us, despite our desire to take the latest omega something or other. One doesn't balance out the other.

And it may also be because generations past have not been obsessed with health. They were mostly happy to just live their lives and work hard. They didn't sweat the small stuff or read a hundred contradictory studies that said one thing was healthy one week and then not healthy the next (eggs anyone?). Quite frankly, I think previous generations were more relaxed and a heck of a lot less confused.

We should really take a page out of their book and go back to the basics: walk places, eat moderately and nurture our relationships.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Get unplugged

A 20-year old gamer has died from a blood clot brought on by sitting for a long period of time in front of his console in one position in Sheffield. While it's shocking to hear that a perfectly healthy young person with no underlying medical condition could die of just sitting down for too long, it's even more shocking to hear that this sort of death has happened before, particularly in Asia, where gamers have died from spending 15 hours or more in front of a game without taking a break.

The family of the young man has since taken up an awareness campaign to educate people to take breaks during gaming. Microsoft, which manufactures Xbox, has added their two cents with a recommendation that "gamers take breaks to exercise as well as make time for other pursuits."

Like living a life perhaps?

While it's highly laudable that the young man's famiy has raised this awareness campaign, you have to ask yourself: why didn't the family intervene? The father of the deceased young man says his son would play up to 12 hours a day. While he can't be blamed for his son's choices, why was there no effort to curb his habits?

It's a well-known fact that habits are learned. There are no better determinants of your future health and well-being than the lifestyle of your parents. Active parents tend to have active children, while parents with coach potato lifestyles tend to have coach potato children. Parents can talk at children until they're blue in the face, but it's their actions that have the real impact.

Leaving aside the issue of this particular case, it seems that there's an apparent common sense gap with today's parents and the generation that came before them. Most of us grew up with parents who fought us at the dinner table every night over some unwanted vegetable or who actually unplugged the tv and told us to go outside and get some fresh air. Surely those Participaction ads weren't just to annoy us. They were made to educate us in their overly peppy way, informing us of how many minutes of activity that we needed in a day and how many vegetable servings we should have. That's what all the Body Break nonsense of the 90s was about.

Since then, Participaction has come back to Canadian airwaves, dispelling the notion that we're active enough and letting us know that kids need 60 minutes of exercise a day. Some people would say that this standard is impossible to achieve with everyone's busy lifestyles.

But if a gamer can find 12 hours a day to play Halo online, why can't they find one single hour to go for a walk or bike ride?

In the past, families were encouraged to go out together and be active. That was also the time when families used to sit down and eat a meal together, another dying family tradition. Instead, people are constantly online or working. Screen time, meaning any time spent in front of a computer, tv, console or Blackberry, is quickly taking over all of our lives. It's making us work harder, longer and spend less time actually interacting with people- real people, not Facebook or Twitter people.

Years back, this kind of awareness campaign would not have been necessary because it wasn't such an issue. People were less plugged in, technology was more expensive, and families were busy being families with an actual family life, eating dinners and taking bike rides. But technology is slowly robbing us of these things and it seems like it's taking common sense down with it.

It's time for people to take back control of their lives and unplug for awhile. Turn everything off- tv, cell phones, computers, game consoles- and just learn to be. Learn to be together, to be active, to be interactive. An online life might be a great escape from reality- but in order for it to work, you have to have a reality to escape from.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Internal Affairs

A high profile case in Canada against a retired ex-commander in Afghanistan who has pled guilty to a sexual affair with a subordinate raises some interesting questions about life in the military. But it's not the affair that is truly shocking; it's the Canadian military's strict stance on sexual relations while in times of conflict.

Taken from article (

Military regulations bar soldiers, even married couples, from having intimate relations while on deployment.

Really? Even married couples? Even married couples who may both be deployed on the same mission? It's an odd thought. Now, there may be some very good reasons behind this kind of policy. It may be a way to prevent disorderly conduct or distractions. It may also be a measure put in place to prevent soldiers from taking advantage of the local population. But there's something about forbidding sex altogether while on a mission that just seems unnatural.

The case of Daniel Menard is a particular one and has many strikes against it: on the one hand, he cheated on his wife, on the other hand, it was with a subordinate. The cheating issue can be left to him and his wife to deal with, but the issue of having an affair with a subordinate is inappropriate and an abuse of power, regardless of whether or not the affair is consensual.

But the more interesting part of this issue for me is the fact that the military uses this seemingly outdated rule of banning sex altogether. While it seems unnatural, it also seems unreasonable. For all the excellent qualities that soldiers may have, they're also just human. It's not reasonable to expect that while on a prolonged mission that everyone will be celibate. It's also somewhat unreasonable to think that you can stop a married couple from having relations with each other. It's part of the joy of being married, is it not, to have constant access to sex?

Then there's the fact that you can argue FOR sex in times of extreme duress. It can be incredibly relaxing. Nothing clears the head like a roll in the hay, as they say. And quite frankly, if I was caught up in some sort of situation where it looked like the end was imminent, I might want one last romp in the garden of earthly delights. I actually think that's a pretty normal idea.

I'm not suggesting that the military allows for all sorts of behavior when it's in the middle of a potentially dangerous mission. And I'm definitely not suggesting that they encourage extracurricular activity with the locals or the working girls. But perhaps this regulation needs to be reviewed in light of the fact that there may be married military people who want to be together, quite possibly for the very last time? Or that two equally ranked officers who are both consenting adults may want to get together, even in times of duress?

They may be servicemen, but after all, they are only human.

Monday, July 18, 2011

No Venting Zone

A study has found that venting to a friend while feeling stressed often makes you feel worse, rather than better. The study was conducted at the University of Kent in England and focused largely on those students with perfectionist traits.

Here's what they found:
"Of these, using social support, denial, venting, withdrawing, and self-blame made students feel worse instead of better, the researchers determined. The more the students used these strategies to cope, the less satisfied they felt at the end of the day.

In contrast, the more students used positive reframing, acceptance and humor, the better they felt at the end of the day, the study found."

It's pretty clear that denial withdrawing and self-blame would make any person in any situation feel worse. But venting? Aren't we all part of that post-Victorian era generation that considers venting to be a positive thing so that we don't hold onto things for years until one day we explode? Aren't we also that pro-active group of people who deals with issues head on instead of resorting to violence, gossip or ignorance? How can venting be so bad?

The funny thing about this study is that they conclude that positive reframing, acceptance and humour are the better ways to deal with issues. But all of these things happen AFTER venting- and they are often the results of venting. If we don't talk about the things that bother us, we are a lot less likely to reframe them, accept them and laugh at them.

Any one of these things taken on their own is probably not helpful without the act of venting. And here's why:

Positive reframing- today my boss yelled at me and made me feel like crap for something that was actually his fault. Let's reframe: today my boss paid attention to me. If I said the second part to you without saying the first part, you may actually think that I had a good day when I had a bad day or that my boss is a fair and competent person who values my work. You would be wrong.

Acceptance- I accept the fact that my boss yelled at me for something that was his fault. Well, I'm glad that's over with. Now I can go on with my life.

Laughter- Ha ha ha.

See? None of those 3 things really works without venting.

I think that the main problem with this study is the fact that they may not have the same understanding of what venting is that the rest of us do. Venting, for most people, is not just a question of verbally throwing up on people by spilling out everything under the sun that bothers us. In fact, it can be a constructive way to get at things and analyze them: what bothers us, why it bothers us, and why we shouldn't let it keep bothering us. It is, in fact, a sort of therapy, and a good one at that.

Venting make us feel normal because people tend to agree with us that we're the wronged party in life. They also tend to agree with us that some people can be really stupid or that certain situations can be really bad. As well, it often leads to a reciprocal exchange in which we realize that we're not the only wronged people or that we're not alone in our feelings. It creates empathy and understanding, if it is used positively and if it helps us let go of the issues or emotions that are driving us crazy.

So venting doesn't always lead to solutions. That doesn't mean it's counter-productive. In fact, many of our little life situations don't get resolved. They either go away, sort themselves out, or we can make little choices to change them, like ignore them. Or we can think in relative terms and learn what we should let go of and what we should hold onto. It's part of picking our battles in life.

If I can think of one thing that won't help me when I'm stuck in a rut, or having a bad day, it's keeping it to myself and letting it fester like a sore. Sometimes it's just better to grab a drink and talk it out.

What Makes Putin so Sexy?

Politics in Russia are a seriously sexy affair. From topless pictures of Vladimir Putin fly-fishing waist-high in a river looking ever the sexy outdoorsman, to journalism students posing in lingerie for a calendar for Putin's 58th birthday, to a racy ad campaign urging women to strip their clothes off in support of a presidential bid, it's safe to say that Putin just may be the sexiest Russian politician of all time. As a matter of fact, he may be the sexiest politician of all time all by himself.

This is something of an achievement, unless you've recently walked down a hall of oil paintings and stone busts where the greyheads of the world run things. Sexy and politics tend to not go together very well, although a trend of increasingly younger world leaders seems to disproving that theory. And history has shown that there are exceptions to every rule. The USA had their JFK, Canada had their Trudeaumania, and it seems that Russia's got us beat hands down with Putin or Putinmania. Take that, Cold War naysayers!

Modern Russia is definitely making up for lost time by getting their sexy back. But it appears that Russian feminists are outraged by this type of behavior. Sure, a more open Russia now allows for the kind of freedom of expression that allows half-naked women to posture themselves for the sake of advertising dollars. God Bless Western values. And sure, Putin may have that rugged manliness about him that makes him look like Daniel Craig when taken from a very specific angle. But is that any good reason to trivialize politics down to a level of Hot or Not?

This may be an indication of how media and politics simply don't mix well. Instead of getting a handle on Putin's foreign policy or economic record, the media seems happy to feed us with the image of Putin flyfishing sans shirt. And to be perfectly honest, most of us are more interested in seeing that picture than reading a bunch of dry policy papers. But a presidential debate shouldn't end with a swimsuit competition.

So a lot of Russian women want to get naked for Putin. That's great. A real ego booster to the world to show that he's still got it. But what's his position on Afghanistan? What does he think is Russia's role in protecting the environment? How will the European Union affect decisions for the Russian people as they move ahead with their country's agenda? What does he think of China?

Maybe it's time to strip down to their issues and bare their strategies for dealing with them.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Today In News

Today was so full of soft news bits that warranted one-liners, I decided to put them all together in no particular order. Here goes:

1- Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, is apparently giving up drinking because he was partying too hard during the filming of the final Potter film. This shows that it's not easy to be a child actor, just as it's not easy to be a boy wizard whose fictional world rests in his wand hand.

2- Selma Hayek's billionnaire magnate husband has proven to be the father of supermodel Linda Evangelista's 4 year old child. He has also proven to be the father of wife Selma Hayek's 4 year old child. It doesn't take a mathematician to prove that this is going to be endless tabloid fodder as the child support case goes to court. Selma Hayek was recently quoted in an interview stating that she is a good housewife who makes home-cooked meals for her spoiled husband. If I was that spoiled husband, I'd be on the lookout for poisoned empanadas.

3- Jesse James apparently forgives himself for having had multiple affairs on Sandra Bullock. Good for you, douchebag, we're all happy to hear that you can live with yourself happily. We all hope you have a wonderful life together, you and you.

4- A man protesting a group of pro-helmet cyclists cycled into their protest, flipped over his handlebars and died. Ironically, the use of a helmet would have probably saved his life. This man has inadvertently become the poster boy for the pro-helmet cause through his anti-helmet actions. Bravo. Darwin Award for you.

5- Will and Kate managed to fulfill a dying man's wish as they visited with him personally during their stint in Ottawa. The man observed that the monarchy needed people like Will and Kate because they were so kind to people who were not as well off as they were. Which, in the case of Will and Kate, since they are royalty, means that being nice to people who are not as well off as they are basically means 90% of the planet.

6- There's a rising trend of divorce ceremonies in Japan, particulary after the disaster quake. It appears that this is a market that hasn't been tapped into and so a particularly innovative Japanese man decided to create a divorce ceremony for couples who want an amicable split. The ceremony is completed by breaking the weddings bands with a hammer. It appears to be both cathartic and profitable. Leave it to the Japanese to make a ceremony out of everything, even the end of a relationship. It's hoped that tea will follow.

Nude Rights

It appears that an Ontario Court will review Canada's nudity laws after a complaint that the law is unconstitutional. A nude drive-thru customer in Bracebridge, ON, is arguing that the nudity laws are too broad, unconstitutional and a violation of his freedom of expression. He also claims that the act of being nude in public isn't harmful to others. Tell that to the drive-thru employee who cried as she testified that she had seen him naked.

While it may be true that the laws are constitutional and that theoretically, appearing nude is a harmless act and that the laws themselves are a reflection of our prudish society, there are many other good reasons to argue FOR the laws.

First off, nobody wants to see that. You may think that your body is a beautiful and natural thing and that we should all wander around in all of God's images and glory, but the truth is, most of us don't live in a world populated by Victoria Secret's models. Many of us are less than physically perfect and we don't necessarily need everyone to see every little freckle, bulge or crease.

Second of all, nobody wants to see that. Even if you are fantastically beautiful, that doesn't mean that everyone wants to enjoy in your splendor with you.

Third of all, how can you say it's harmless? What about trauma, mental harm, the strong urge to wash your eyes out with soap? Reducing children to tears, scaring the neighbours, the horror of seeing your parents the way that God intended them to be, watching people do menial chores and yard work butt naked? How is that harmless?

Fourth of all, being naked is about private access. It's part of how we define intimacy. Knowing that you're the only one who gets to see your partner naked is part of what creates the intimate bond between the two of you and also allows you to take pleasure in the fact that you can see what others can only imagine. Getting naked for your partner is also the universal sign that they want to sleep with you. If everyone on the street does it, well, it's just confusing.

Fifth of all, being naked is a private pleasure. It's our way of affirming that we are the master of our domain, short of peeing on the carpet. It means that we can feel at home, comfortable, free to do what we want, with the drapes closed and the pants off. If you're allowed to be naked everywhere, then it takes the fun out of being naked when you're home alone. There's also the feeling that when we're naked at home alone, we're getting away with something. Don't take that away from us!

And last but not least, covering up is another way to distinguish between us and the animals. It shows that we're civilized, decent and modest. There are some who say that human beings are animals and that in reality, we're just dressed up monkeys. If we don't dress up, well, then we're just monkeys. And that's not something I think we should strive for.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ruffians Ruffle Each Other

The Royal Ascot was plagued by tattoos, flesh-baring and old-fashioned brawls, all with the Queen in attendance. It was a black day for horse racing, as the once prestigious affair was marred by these unseemly characters and actions, at what should have been a restrained and classically snooty English affair. The English soccer hooligans can have their sport; but surely, horse racing was meant for a more high-class end of society, one that is fascinated with hats and understands how to get socially tipsy on expensive champagne? You know, the 'honey, have you seen my matching cumberbund?' type crowd?

But alas, it is true, as the article clearly states:

"For 300 years, it has been the highlight of the summer calendar for the well-off and well-connected," said the Daily Mail newspaper.

"But these days, it seems, the enclosures and stands of Royal Ascot are becoming increasingly popular with a much less distinguished breed of racegoer."

Veteran BBC racing commentator Peter O'Sullevan was quoted as saying the tattoos and bare flesh were "disrespectful -- not just to the queen, but to the horses."

(end of quote)

Disrespectful to horses? Heavens, it's one thing to offend one's God-anointed sovereign on earth, it's another thing entirely to thumb one's noses at horses. That most noble of animals, the mightiest of steeds- how could they bear such an offense? With regal quiet, of course, as any animal which feeds primarily off of hay would do.

So the offense is not just for royalty, but for animal royalty as well. Who knew that horses were so sensitive? Personally, I think that if I were that snippish an animal, I wouldn't let some clumsy human get on my back, elite or not. Nor would I spend my days chasing some mechanical bunny around a racetrack for their benefit. How boring. As the top of the animal world, I would want great open fields to picnic in.

And if I were an elegant four legged animal, I would be sorely offended by the sight of tight skirts and fighting. After all, I'm not some alley cat living off garbage cans. I expect the grand public to at least dress decently in buttoned coats and knee length skirts.

Of course, one should maybe question the need for this event to take place at all, now that the horses have been offended. Perhaps this is the time to make this event even more exclusive and make it an invitation only affair where all participants are inspected prior to their arrival? Or on the other hand, perhaps this is an event that has run its course so to speak, and there is no need to have such old-world extravagance in the first place?

With the tide changing in England, and less and less people inclined to provide for traditional ways, maybe the sudden brutish behavior is an indication that the old days are truly gone?

Risky Business

A very helpful article on yahoo! today informed me of something that I may not have known otherwise: portable pools pose summer risk for kids. It appears that a doctor from Columbus, Ohio, has found that portable pools pose just as much of a risk of drowning as in-ground pools, especially for children and especially during the summer.

The researchers further go on to state that adults must supervise their children very carefully and to not be distracted by either having a couple of drinks while sitting on the sidelines or chatting on their phones. Because nothing, it seems, is safer than a parent hovering directly above their child, within arm's reach, as they play. And, presumably, children are much happier when they're protected by parents rather than having fun on their own- after all, what child doesn't love the hovering parent?

Another helpful tidbit in the article beyond the hover parenting is the suggestion that children be made to wear lifejackets. Yes, because in an inflatable tiny backyard yellow pool filled knee high with water in the middle of a smoking hot day, there's nothing better than the thought of wearing a lifejacket with your parent hovering directly above you.

Why stop there? Why not have the child wear a helmet too? Nothing is safer than a helmet after all. The child could slip out of their knee high water inflatable yellow dinghy and land smack dab on some grass without their parent's helpful arms to catch them directly overhead.

And why not opt out of filling the pool at all? Why not have the child indulge in imaginary water? After all, water is involved in 100% of child-related drowning. Why not take water out of the equation completely and instead have the child play in imaginary water in their inflatable pool with their lifejacket and helmet on, with their parent standing directly overhead in case they fall?

Better yet, why not have the child go inside on a hot day and sit in an air-conditioned room where they can safely spend their summer days reading the Bible?

Growing up, I remember that we had a pool. I was told not to go anywhere near it without a grown up around. And you know what I did? I listened. It taught me to obey my parents because what they were saying probably made common sense and it taught me to be careful. And when my parents watched from a distance while I played in the water, maybe with a drink or chatting with a neighbour, I did what most children my age did. I played safe.

What ever happened to teaching kids how to be safe without safeguarding them like they were made of glass? Whatever happened to kids just taking their parents' word for it that certain things were not a good idea or that other things were entirely forbidden? Back then, the only thing that needed to be expressly hidden was the cookie jar, which was always out of reach somewhere.

There will be a point in a child's life where they will realize that safety is a personal issue and that it requires vigilance and common sense. But how will they learn those things if we're always protecting them, even protecting them from water?

Maybe it's the parents who need a common sense refresher course.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not Hockey

While images of the city of Vancouver rioting after their devastating Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins make their way around the globe, it must be said that this is not Canada. There are probably people out there, shaking their heads in amazement and labelling all Canadian hockey fans as a bunch of backwards moose-eating hooligans, but this is not the case. Here are some fundamental truths about Canada and hockey:

1- The rioters are not hockey fans. 100,000 some odd people showed up to watch the Stanley Cup Final on big screens in their designated fan zone, mostly families with children. The handful of violent rioters are the kind who don't come for hockey, but who love to create mayhem- and this kind of world stage is just the kind of thing that they're looking for. It's happened before in Montreal as well. The real fans come to cheer; not to smash cop cars.

2- Hockey is a religion in Canada. The Stanley Cup originated in Canada and it's the Holy Grail of hockey. The hardest trophy to win in all of professional sports and named after Lord Stanley from the province of BC, it is the most coveted award and there is no doubt in our minds, as proud Canadians, that it belongs in the hands of one of our teams. We are passionate about the game, passionate enough to even postpone political debates in order to accommodate the playoffs schedule. But we are not violent about it.

3- We leave it on the ice. While it may surprise some people that a nation known for its politeness and sense of general fairness is obsessed with a fast-paced body-slamming sport, Canadians know to leave violence on the ice. It's where competition can be fast and furious and sometimes bloody, but it doesn't go much further than that. We are the type of nation that scraps on the rink and shakes hands afterwards. That has always been our mentality, that has always been our game.

4- What you saw on Wednesday was not real hockey. The officiating was the worst that I have ever witnessed in my hockey loving life and the game was an all-out goonfest. This is not the sport that we love. Real hockey requires skill, speed and precision- all of which were absent in this clumsy, brutish game. The rest of the world may think that we love a brutal sport, but we do not. Real hockey is beautiful to watch- and this wasn't it.

It's too bad that this Stanley Cup Final didn't live up to its billing. It's too bad that the quality of the hockey played didn't live up to the high standards that we hold to the game. And it's even sadder to know that the rest of the world will think that we are crazy, violent sore losers.

Let's hope for better next season.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't Surrender your Lunch Money

CBC is focusing a lot on the issue of bullying in the workplace, in particular, the Public Service of Canada. Their latest article focuses on the issue of workplace mobbing, a tactic employed by employers to squeeze out an employee through vicious behavior. What is the most disturbing aspect of the article is the analysis and advice provided by an 'expert' in the field.

(taken from the article)
"Kenneth Westhues, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo, has studied workplace mobbing for about 20 years. "Workplace mobbing is about ganging up on a particular individual, towards eliminating that person from the workplace." Westhues notes even in an institution with many policies, rules and regulations, harassment still happens.

"Over the past few years I've gotten, I don't know, 50 to 100 inquiries from federal public servants many of them high level public servants, who say I have read your research on public mobbing and I think this has happened to me."

Westhues predicts most of the complaints are legitimate, but he doesn't think more rules or better legislation will solve the issues. In fact, he thinks managers need to use more common sense and victims need to know when to move on.

What I urge people to do is sit down with a piece of paper and write out, what are their resources, job security, tenure, how much money they have.and make a decision on the basis on realistic assessment.

"By far the most common solution, pack up and get a different job. No shame in that."

(end of quote)

That's it? That's the best you can do? Back when we were kids, the only solution to schoolyard bullying was to fork over our lunch money or transfer schools if things got really out of hand. That's basically what this 'expert' is telling us to do. He further states that harassed employees are costing the average taxpayer when they attempt to fight back against their aggressors. Which is basically blaming the victim and akin to telling kids that if they're being beaten up for their lunch money, they should just learn to go without lunch.

What kind of world do we live in when we can't even go to work as adults and be treated with fairness and respect? Is it any wonder that nobody is interested in working hard for a living and living by honest means?

There are several good reasons why we should 'waste' taxpayer money to defend these people. The 'expert' should consider these:

1- Nobody has the right to take away your job. You competed for it, you qualified for it, you work at it and you are perfectly competent. Your performance reviews are positive and you do good consistent work. You should not be bullied out of your job for being competent! Only incompetent people deserve to lose their jobs. You shouldn't be forced to leave it and take a job for less pay to escape from an aggressive boss. This is just plain wrong.

2- Nobody has the right to power trip their employees and act like this is a natural thing. We respect human rights in Canada. We uphold those values. We are committed to the idea of treating people fairly and with respect. That is our country, is it not? So how come the people who serve Canadians are allowed to be bullie and harassed in their workplace?

3- There is a real cost to the detrimental effects of bullying on people, both employees and employers. It's the mental health of the person, the morale within the office and the real cost of sick days and leave associated with not being able to step foot into the office again. Going to work should not be an ordeal. It's not alway pleasant, but it should not be an ordeal. If these things are not dealt with, the public service will experience a massive drain of perfectly qualified and intelligent people who will go elsewhere, benefits be damned.

The public will get just the kind of service it deserves if it lets these issues go.

For the full story, see:

Care for Cargo

The Air Canada strike was called today, mere minutes before the federal government introduced legislation to force the strikers back to work. It appears that this is a very important issue to the government, as stated below:

"Air Canada has a huge section of the market in Canada in terms of travel. It affects tourists of course but it affects business, it affects the delivery of cargo in Canada and from Canada abroad. So this is a matter of significant economic consequence," Flaherty told reporters.

Yes, that's right: cargo delivery in Canada and from abroad is far more important than any pesky worker's rights type problems. It appears that the reason for this strike is centered around the typical annoyances: pensions, job security, safety, quite possibly a cost of living increase to keep up with an inflation rate that is barrelling out of control for the average Canadian. But none of this has any business affecting cargo delivery. And that's the way that the government sees it.

It's startling to see how the gap between the rich and the poor has widened, how unions have become increasingly maligned as troublemakers and greedy hogs who want more days off than they should legitimately ask for, and how Canadian household debt has increased to close to $1.5 trillion dollars.

Trillion dollars? I thought that was a joke dollar made up on the Simpsons when they flew to Cuba and Castro stole it from Mr. Burns who was running away for tax evasion. Apparently, it's real and it's a real problem too.

But getting back to this strike issue. It finally seems clear to me why Air Canada employees always look so sour. I used to think that the monotony of the job was the problem, but it appears that poor work conditions and little pay for lots of aggravation from the general public are the real culprits. Not to mention the full barf bags.

Air Canada is reviled in a pan-Canadian way, due to poor service and just general cheapness, as everything on board starts to cost something and customers are now asked to check their own bags. Cancellations, delays, inefficient routes and astronomical fares to go across Canada are also factors. So it stands to reason that if Air Canada can treat its customers this way, the employees can't be much better off.

It's strangely ironic that a government which prided itself on making life easier for the Canadian family is now putting cargo ahead of worker's rights. The priority of the government is to support big business first, intervening on behalf of Air Canada, which is the injured party in this whole affair, as their cargo will be badly affected by the actions of greedy tax-paying hard working....Canadians.

Leave us not forget the fact that Air Canada is the company that taxpayer money helped to save back in the days when it was close to bankruptcy, probably because they had paid Celine Dion an outrageous amount of money to sing about the airline before her Vegas show took off. Just another embarrassing chapter in the airline's history.

This one will surely be a part of that, if the Air Canada employees buckle under the pressure. As much as I dislike the airline, the employees are right to stick up for their rights. They are right to take their employer to task. And they have every right to stand up for themselves and let the company and the government know that they are worth more than cargo.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sausage Debate

It appears that PETA has struck again and it has decided to hit people where it hurts; meaning, squarely in their manhood. Two PETA activists have made an impromptu appearance at the Formula One racing car event armed with vegetarian sausages, arguing that they are 'better than taking sex drugs' and that meat can cause them to tank in the bedroom.

While this argument makes sense to a certain extent, what with the effects of meat on blood vessels and other arteries, it seems strange that this is PETA's latest argument in their on-going war against meat eaters. Perhaps it's because their moral badgering approach clearly wasn't working. Showing disgusting photos of slaughterhouses and cruel chicken coops had no other effect than simply being disgusting and the use of such graphic images had many meat eaters inclined to think that PETA was simply crazy. The long lectures, holier than thou attitudes and Pamela Anderson campaign didn't really resonate with people.

Perhaps an appeal to the boudoirs of the nation is the better, more practical approach. It's difficult to sell vegetarianism from the point of view of morals and ethics, on the one hand because it's preachy and pushy, and on the other hand, because some people just aren't concerned with morals and ethics. They aint what they used to be. The morals and ethics argument also tends to give way to the free choice debate, with many meat eaters asserting their rights to consume what they want. It's the classic 'don't tell me what I can put into my body' argument and it's hard not to look like a fascist when faced with that argument.

Appealing to the male sex drive may be the way to go if PETA wants to rehabilitate its image from crazed ecoterrorist preacher to a softer, kinder, and sexier reformer. While it is hitting below the belt, so to speak, it does get its message across without doing the one thing that most PETA campaigns ultimately do: offend the audience.

While it is laudable to encourage people to be more aware of issues related to their consumption and to moderate them, PETA could afford a less militant stance. It's good that these two sexy young activists took it upon themselves to have a little fun with their awareness campaign. Caring for animals and the earth doesn't have to be an angry crusade. And people don't react well to them. As an enlightened population, we often roll our eyes when people tell us we're going to hell, as if that's already a well-known fact. Hell just doesn't have the fear factor of days past.

But people always react to sexy ads.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vote for Cat Name

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked Canadians to once again head to the polls; but this time, they will only have to go as far as Facebook, where they will be asked to vote on a new name for Harper's latest addition to his family, a tabby cat. The article on Yahoo features a less stern Stephen Harper bathed in the soft lighting of the Commons next to a picture of an adorable grey tabby kitten, looking beseechingly at the camera. It's a little late for campaigning, as the election is over, but it's never too early for image rehabilitation.

Especially in light of recent news regarding the Harper government. First you have the page who ventured out into the middle of the Senate floor with a sign saying Stop Harper, a daring move that got the attention and support of filmmaker Michael Moore. Then you have the recycled budget being presented in the House of Commons, the contentious bill that drove the parties to a non-confidence motion that triggered the election in the first place; something that everyone conveniently seemed to forget in the midst of a long, annoying campaign. Add to that the recent announcement of cuts to the public service and its various programs, and you have a pretty bad week in government.

So it makes sense that Harper would rather have his image associated to kittens rather than controversies and fighter jets. But you have to wonder: just how gullible is the population at large? How many of them will ignore the larger social and political issues so that they can vote on a cat's name?

Then again, the short memory of the population has been shown time and time again, as people 'forgot' all the past incidents that have caused outrage, like the proroguing of Parliament.

Which then begs another important question: at what point do you go from animal lover to crazy cat lady? It's not like Harper is the first person to use Facebook to help name his pet, but he's the leader of the nation. Doesn't he have more important matters on his mind? Like running the country? Does he really think that posting a picture of Fluffy McWiggles is going to make us all forget his controversial policies? Is this the nicer, softer, newly-improved hairballed Prime Minister?

Or could it be that Harper is trying his best to distract us all with a bit of yarn while his acts slowly squeeze any semblance of social justice in this country?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Having it Easy

"You kids have it so easy these days. Back in my days, we used to have to walk to school, up the hill, down the hill, in the cold, in the rain, in sleet, with no shoes..."

A lot of us have heard this old chestnut and it always makes us smile to think of how our grandparents would chide us when we claim that life is tough. Older people are always quick to remind us of the hardships that they endured and all the luxuries that we consider standard that they never had. But it looks like a school in the Philippines puts us all to shame, grandpa and grandma included, as a Facebook campaign raised money to buy a boat so that the children no longer have to swim to school. That's right: swim. Holding their books over their heads, arriving to school soaking wet with no change of clothes.

That probably even beats out sleet.

The story of the dirt poor village in the Philippines which still believes in the importance of education despite poverty, dilapidated buildings and congested schoolrooms really makes you stop and think. While kids in North America are being driven to school or are taking buses, looking glassy eyed and bored to even be at school, there are kids in the world who are willing to swim to their classrooms because education may be the only way out of a poverty stricken existence.

So little value is put on education in North America. Perhaps it's because lack of education is not necessarily a barrier to success; many uneducated people have been able to make great careers in entertainment or even gain political office. As well, education for the sake of education, meaning the love of learning, is often seen as nerdy by teenage peers or snobby by adult ones.

In Europe, a well-educated person is seen as cultured, mature and intelligent, but there doesn't appear to be the same level of appreciation in North America. Take, for example, the public's perception of Michael Ignatieff, former Liberal Party Leader. He was seen by many as being too 'academic.' Being worldly, recognized and published by several reputable printing presses is apparently not what the average Canadian wants to vote for. Sound bites about the average Canadian family and tax cuts are much more effective with the general public.

But this just highlights how much people have lost their respect for education. It's not seen as the way to overcome social barriers and advance in today's society through merit and hard work; probably because merit and hard work are no longer used to measure success. Blatant nepotism and office politics have seen to that. It's not what you know, it's who you know, after all.

Basic education may be seen as a right in North America, but it should be seen as what it is for poorer countries: a privilege. A chance to make a better life for yourself and to learn because it improves the mind, rather than your chances of not getting grounded for bringing home a D. People shouldn't bask in their ignorance, as more and more people appear to be doing. 'Book learning' doesn't harm you. Homework doesn't kill you. And academic is not a dirty word.

And be happy you don't have to swim to get to school, holding your books over your head.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ontario liquor laws to chill out

Ontario liquor laws are going to be loosened this summer, an idea which has overwhelming support in the Canadian province. The new relaxed laws will permit drinking to occur in public spaces during festivals instead of restricting them to beer tents and will allow weddings to serve alcohol until 2am. Yes, among the more relaxed drinking rules, people will have a little more leeway to drink at happy occasions, instead of having to sneak around or charge the bar at last call in the middle of the Macarena at their cousin's wedding.

Among the concerns regarding relaxed liquor laws: immorality, underage drinking, law enforcement issues. Really? Weren't these the same concerns during the Prohibition? Immorality for sure was on that list- it conjures up images of moral-less saloons full of low lifes and deadbeats, gambling and drinking with prostitutes before having an all out brawl to end the evening. I'm going to venture a guess that people have learned their lesson since then and that we won't have a repeat of the saloon age.

Then there's the underage drinking. Yeah, because when it comes to youth today, that's the most serious problem. Every time that I see ads on television for concerned parents, I can't help but roll my eyes. In the midst of bullying, drugs, smoking, body image, self-mutilation, and suicide, does anyone actually believe that a couple of kids trying beer for the first time in the bushes behind the school is a significant problem?

Responsible parents who are concerned about their children should talk to their kids and not worry that their first drink is going to kill them. And if they want to be the pro-active parent? They will let their child have a drink with them when they turn 16. Not a bottle of vodka during Monopoly- a glass of wine with dinner to show them that it's no big deal. Or a beer during the game. If they're given the chance to test it out and talk it over and see what responsible drinking is like, this might prevent these same kids from getting alcohol poisoning in their first year at university when they have no idea what they're doing.

Then there are law enforcement issues. While it's not illegal to drink, it is illegal to be drunk in public. It's a strange nuance of the law and one that can be enforced. The problem is, the police imagine that we're all going to behave like little children who have been let out for recess with lots of juice money in our pockets, and imagine that they will have to keep us all in line. Most hard-drinking citizens will declare that nobody has ever had to keep them in line and that they've stumbled out of more cabs than the common man. Others have never had an issue with public drunkenness because they usually fall down and sleep it off somewhere.

This thought that there will be more need to control drunken people because there will be more opportunity to drink is ridiculous. That's typical Puritan finger-wagging. It assumes that people won't adjust to the laws and be responsible. But if you assume that people won't be responsible with liquor, why allow them to drink at all? The stupid people who will abuse alcohol and tease law enforcers will always do it, whether you tell them to get drunk in the beer tent or two feet away from it in a park. The drunken conga line led by your uncle will always happen at your wedding, whether it's at 1am or 2am.

The majority of people will be responsible. New laws are not considered a license to go crazy and most people are smart enough to know that. It's probably about time that the government realized that and did something that it rarely ever does: trust us to be adults.