Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here's your explanation

This is why I think the "marriage fight" for LGBT's is worth the effort, rather than simply settling for civil unions:
This commission finds that the separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children.

Survey to make you think

What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

When and how did you decide you were a heterosexual?

Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?

Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?

Do your parents know that you are straight? Do your friends and/or roommate(s) know? How did they react?

Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can't you just be who you are and keep it quiet?

Why do heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into their lifestyles?

A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual. Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?

With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

Statistics show that lesbians have the lowest incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Is it really safe for a woman to maintain a heterosexual lifestyle and run the risk of disease and pregnancy?

Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?

Would you want your child to be heterosexual, knowing the problems that s/he would face?

Monday, December 8, 2008

In the style of Canadian Cynic...

Shorter Vatican City: "No one actually wants to defend the death penalty or imprisonment for homosexuals, but we explicitly oppose this UN resolution that would prohibit the death penalty or imprisonment for homosexuals."
The Catholic Church, which I grew up thinking was a bastion of morality and a well from which good ethics could be drawn, continues to fail to defend human dignity. There could not be a clearer demonstration of how the Church places adherence to its dogma above respect for human life.

What he said

A conservative chronicles PM Harpers mistakes and why he disagrees both with the PM and the idea of a coalition.
One of my favourite parts is actually in the comments:
First, as you have mentioned, his first mistake was to call an election. Second, he announced cuts to the arts community during the election. This action lost him seats in Quebec (and probably did not gain him any elsewhere). Third, he pissed of the other three parties by cutting their government backing, leading to the formation of the coalition. Forth, he presented a National speech where, instead of defending his government's plausable appraoch to deal with the economic crisis, he started a rant on the separatest tendancies of the Bloc. Even the Bloc had earlier softened thier stance on separation. Harper's speech reopened the whole Quebec situation, giving the separists new ammunition. This is too many screw ups!

Friday, December 5, 2008

More hilarity from Edger

The fact that Christmas comes so close to the winter solstice is, indeed, a little fishy. More than a few scholars suggest that celebrations for the two occasions are linked, in a more or less muddy fashion. Chris Ray at Edger makes fun of the not so recent idea of "the war on Christmas" in a hilarious parody of the types of things that Christians say, but coming from an original pagan reveler!
Back when I was a young soul, Christmas really meant something- the communal slaughter of cattle, the unbridled indulgence in drink-sodden orgy, the tying of the ol’ family sunpost to prevent our beloved Sol from escaping during the winter months. Why, even Sol Invictus himself seems evicted from his own favorite feast day by these bawling bandits of Beiwe, all in the name of “political correctness” and “Jesus” and all that!

Check out the whole thing at Edger!

Ahhhh, I understand now

Here's a wonderful summary of all the stuff that's been going on in Canadian politics so far.

A little consistency, please

PM Harper then:
Rather than announcing a new approach, Mr. Harper's address restated his view that the proposed coalition is undemocratic and would be harmful for Canada during an economic downturn.
PM Harper now:
After a two-hour meeting yesterday at Rideau Hall, Governor General Michaëlle Jean granted Harper's request to prorogue Parliament, sparing him a confidence vote on Monday – and defeat for the minority Conservative government.

So...handing the government to the Coalition would be bad for Canada economically because of the period of instability for change over. But proroguing the government for a month and a half is apparently just peachy...

UPDATE: Harper gets a lesson in democracy. See my other post about misleading rhetoric.

UPDATE II: The New York Times have brought up a very good point, that I've been wondering about a lot: what's to stop any PM from now on from proroguing the government when he or she faces a confidence vote that is likely to topple the government? This isn't "my way or the highway," this is "my way or no way at all."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dig deeper...

Here is a perfect example of how the assumption that correlation implies causation breeds mischief in our society:
"...while a majority of non-white voters backed a ban on gay marriage, the key finding in the new survey was that voters' position on Prop. 8 was determined more by their level of education and income than their race or ethnicity, said PPIC president Mark Baldassare. Among Californians with a high school diploma or less, 69 percent voted for Prop. 8. Among college graduates, 57 percent voted against it."
It has been widely touted that the black vote passed Prop8 in California, and that has sadly lead to a lot of tension between the LGBT community and the black community. The results of this poll show, as should have always been obvious, that rather than focusing their ire on black people, LGBT's should focus on eliminating poverty and ignorance, which sadly plague many minority populations.

This also demonstrates the need to always dig deeper when confronted with data.

Thanks to

Yay, Florida!

Here's a good example of evidence-based thinking in action. A judge in Miami recently overturned a decades-old law banning gay adoption.

The only secular argument that really exists defending a prohibition on gay adoptions is that children may fare better in families headed by one man and one woman who are married. While that's certainly a possibility, it doesn't hold water in this argument for two reasons:

1. Evidence exists to suggest that gay parents actually do a great job at parenting. At least one study I've read was actually performed by the Canadian government and showed that kids raised in gay-headed homes fared just as well as their peers with respect to success in school, self-reported happiness, etc. (I hope to blog about this issue in detail some day.)

2. Even if it were someday shown that having a mom and dad were always the best situation, it still wouldn't preclude gay adoptions, since most states allow single people (including single gays!) and unmarried couples to adopt. Surely if one person can succesfully raise a child, two loving parents would be even better.

In this particular situation, though, it's a no-brainer. The kids were being raised by crack heads. Heterosexual crack heads. Now they're being raised by a very successful gay man and his partner. They are healthier, happier, and are likely to become great people someday. They are undeniably better off with the gay couple than their straight parents, which I think essentially bankrupts any argument against gay adoption.

PS Even some republicans agree!

Who knew Canadian politics could be interesting?

So, keeping in mind the statement in my first post in which I say I know little about politics, I'm going to try to sum up my thoughts on what's going on in Canada at the moment.

From what I understand, there is nothing un-constitutional about the possible coalition government. It's not my favorite idea, either. However, it seems to me that PM Harper really really overstepped his bounds with his first budget proposal. The suggestion that parties lose the $1.95 per vote received in an election was an obvious *middle finger* to the opposition. The money it would save is minimal, especially in comparison to the amount of money that PM Harper made the country spend on the last election (which went against the spirit of his new pet law requiring 4-year governments). Plus, it seems that other fiscal points of the budget (which requires a confidence vote, always), totally went against what the opposition parties would have wanted.

So what, exactly, was the PM thinking? I guess he must have thought the Liberals were so weakened from their recent poor electoral performance that they would just lay down and take whatever table scraps he felt they deserved.

But PM Harper does not have a majority--the opposition does. So they've decided to band together (though the Bloc will not in an official way--apparently they've just agreed to vote with the coalition on confidence motions).

Harper is trying to paint this as not being his fault...but I think I have to disagree. He put together a budget that was so offensive, it actually caused the 3 other opposition parties to band together, just to spite him. To me that means that whatever he did was pretty intense, since the opposition parties are not exactly buddy-buddy, ya know?

Apparently the Liberals said in their campaign that they would not push for a coalition. However, Harper campaigned on a promise to work together with the other parties of Canada. He has utterly failed in that regard, and the Commons has lost confidence in the ability of his party to lead. While a coalition is not a situation that anyone is really comfortable with, I see it as positive that the opposition parties are willing to cooperate, when the PM is obviously not.

Finally, I feel the need to address the deceitful rhetoric that has been coming from PM Harper these past few days. I understand his need to frame this debate to his advantage, but that does not give him permission to lie to the Canadian people. His claims that the coalition would be undemocratic or that Canadian's voted him in as PM are false, and they confuse the electorate. See Dawg's Blawg for a breakdown of the incorrect statemtents made by the PM recently, and take a look here and here for some great explanations of how Canadian politics actually work. Also, PM Harper's tendency to reduce the NDP to "socialists" and the BQ to "seperatists" is childish and insulting to the intelligence of Canadians. I for one, don't care to hear name-calling from my PM. I want substansive, logical reasons as to why the coalition would be bad for Canada, or why the Progressive Conservatives deserve to keep power.

UPDATE: The Governer General has just agreed to prorogue the government. Not really sure what that means... I guess the Government won't sit again until Jan. 26? At that point the PC's will present their budget, which will (finally) be up for a (confidence) vote. Seems kinda sketchy for the Commons to be on va-cay while a recession looms. 'Specially since they've already been out of commission since the last election was called...
So far, I have not heard anything of the sort.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hilarious + 10

This is the funniest thing I've seen all week.
See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Way to go...

So France is going to put forward a motion in the UN that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Cuz, you know, being gay can get you killed in a lot of countries (not just, like, at night in the streets--we're talking about state executions here). Despite what you feel personally about homosexuality, I think most people can agree that it doesn't deserve a death sentence. Cool, right?
The Vatican, in it's divine wisdom, is against the measure. Apparently, if the document were ratified, that might get some countries to allow gay marriage. According to the Pope, that is far too high a price to pay to protect LGBT people from discrimination.


One of the things that annoys me about the "culture wars" is how quick each side is to generalize their opponents. Take, for example, this article that says that the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is looking to take out ads in the New York Times calling the recent anti-Prop8 demonstrations violent.
I take issue with this because, despite some unfortunate events, the protests have been incredibly civil. I mean, please consider that these protests were born within hours of the final results of the election and took place with almost no organizing. There has been no "leader" for the LGBTA community to follow. And yet, despite tens of thousands of people protesting all over the US, there has only been a handful of complaints. That kind of behaviour from a community that is both scared and angry impresses me a lot.
Not only that, but Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters dissects the few complaints that there are, and it seems likely that some were exaggerated, and some were instigated by Prop8 proponents acting just as bad.
Here is an example of what I'm talking about. It's an article from One News Now, a news website for made for Christians (more on that some other time...). A young man was drugged and murdered by an older man, who is gay. It was, needless to say, a tragedy. ONN highlights a comment by one Diane Gramely, who wonders why the LGBTA ("homosexual," in her words) community hasn't been up in arms about it.
But this is the problem. The man is gay; why does that make the LGBTA community responsible for his actions? How do the actions of one individual automatically reflect on an entire community? What about this story, where a heterosexual couple kept a teenage boy in captivity for a year? Should we be expecting an apology from the heterosexual community? The married community? Of course not, because their actions reflect their own (twisted) lives and not necessarily anyone else's.
But often, people do take the actions of one person or few people and assume that it reflects on other people they share one or two characteristics with. It's shotty logic, and it shouldn't be done by anyone out of middle school.

I go to class

Today we had a class on MFR (médecine fondé sur les résultats--translates to Evidence-based medicine). A lot of people consider this class to be a ton of BS (myself included, sometimes) but really EBM is uber-important and can be quite interesting.
You might be surprised, but a lot (waaaay too much, in fact) of medicine is based on anecdotal evidence and tradition. I mean, when my parents were kids, Docs were prescribing cigarettes to pregnant women to help alleiviate stress! A couple hundred years before that, bloodletting was common practice (this comes from ancient "wisdom"--Greek, I think--that the body is composed of four "humours," blood being the one that most often overpowers the others volume-wise, and thus had to be let out of the body to restore humoural balance). So really, medicine is a very young practice, at least if you're considering the way we do it today.
And some funny stuff comes up when you look at the facts! Today we read a paper that more or less showed that eradication of H.pyloi, a bacteria that lives in many peoples stomachs, doesn't actually help fucntional dyspepsia (stomach aches after eating that aren't associated with ulcers). You can totally eradicate the bacteria, but there's no significant change in symptoms (what the patient feels) compared to those taking a placebo. COOL! Pretty much everyone thought that H.pylori was responsible for the symptoms...but apparently that's not true. So what causes the discomfort? Who knows...
All this is a good illustration of the fact that a lot of assumptions, or common sense, aren't actually true. You can't take anything for granted, ESPECIALLY in medicine. That's why we've got EBM. It sure takes a while, but it's the only way to turn medicine into a truly useful enterprise, and ensure that we never start practicing useless or even dangerous practices like bloodletting. (Homeopaths, I'm directing a skeptical eye your way...)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

About this blog

I think there are 2 parameters that will be most important to this blog: content and tone.
I'm hoping to focus the content on medically-related issues and GLBT issues. Being Canadian makes both these issues uber-interesting, since there's a lot of comparison to be made with the US.
I hope to base most of my writings on evidence. I've come to a point in my life where I realize that there are a ridiculous number of ideas and philosophies in our world, and that they aren't all mutually compatible. In my mind, figuring out the best way to live requires a hard look at the facts about our world, and seeing where that takes you. Therefore, while I might touch on other topics like religion, philosophy, or politics, I hope to limit it to what I can legitimately back up.
By tone, I mean the way in which I write. I plan on writing a lot about opinions--mine (and why I think they're correct or why I'm on the fence) and others' (and why I think they're valid or invalid). From what I've read on other blogs, it seems likely that it's tempting to generalize and depreciate those who disagree. I hope that in my writing I can avoid these mistakes as much as possible. Insults and ridicule have never changed anyone's mind, as far as I can tell. Reason and evidence are the only truly useful tools we have to orient ourselves in this world, and the same goes for showing others our point of view.
So feel free to comment on any of my postings. Point out my mistakes and give me your feedback. I hope you find the posts informative and interesting.
That Chris Guy