5/30/2007

Stickin' it to the "Man"

Woman files human rights complaint against gay bar
All I can say is that it's about time!
MONTREAL -- A woman is pressing a human rights complaint against a Montreal gay bar that refused to serve her.
Audrey Vachon says she was stunned when she was refused service at the bar, Le Stud, in the city's gay village district because she's a woman. Vachon, 20, and her father Gilles Vachon dropped by the bar on a quiet afternoon to kill some time.
Audrey Vachon says a waiter came over and told her father that the bar doesn't serve women.
Vachon says she was humiliated, adding she would be the first to complain if homosexuals were refused service at a business.


I hope Vachon wins, I really do. These people didn't even have the decency to talk to her. They spoke to her father. You can't have it both ways. You can't demand "equal" treatment and then discriminate against everyone else who doesn't fit into your myopic little view of the world.
But then, it was never about rights.
It's about enforcing a world view.

5/29/2007

Facebook, CBC and The Great Canadian Wishlist

Canada is about to celebrate its 140th birthday - what's in store for the nation's future? Step up and have your say.
Facebook, Student Vote and CBC News want your help to create the Great Canadian Wish List.
Start by joining this group, then browse all the wishes from other Canadians by using the "browse wishes" link. When you're ready to add your own wish, click on that link.
Then it is up to you to convince others to share your dream. Facebook will automatically rank them, and CBC News will compile the most popular for Canada Day on July 1st.
Someone recently added "Abolish Abortion" as their wish. In the last few days, it has moved into first place. There is also "Restore Traditional Marriage." Here is what you must do.
1. Sign up for a facebook account.
http://www.facebook.com
2. Go to the CBC Wish List Contest group:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2392827649
3. Look on the right. Click on "Join Group"
4. Go back to the CBC Wish List Contest group. Click on "Browse Wishes". Look for "Abolish Abortion" or "Restore Traditional Marriage." Then click on "Add Support".
5. Forward to this to anyone who might be interested in doing this.

Online Communities: Government

The task of maintaining order within any community is difficult. Authority figures are often not trusted by community members (Govier, 1997). For better or worse, the Internet carries the stigma of being filled with anarchists, deviants and trouble-makers, and lacking in any sort of moderate voice (Wallace, 1999). Communities do thrive however, so there must be some method of bringing order to chaos.
Online communities will therefore usually have a form of government. These governments are made up of community moderators and site administrators. Governments are almost never democratic in nature. They more often conform to a type of benign dictatorship or aristocracy. The primary role of an online community government is to facilitate communication. This involves site maintenance, performed by the administrators, and police work, performed by community moderators.
If one accepts Machiavelli’s advice that "the people ask nothing but not to be oppressed," then as a community leader, one must ensure that no oppression occurs (Machiavelli, 1505). Flame wars, trolling (inciting someone to anger), sexually explicit behaviour, and hate speech all fall under the category of oppression in the online community (Wallace, 1999). The community leader must recognise the fact that if the behaviour of a certain customer will drive the majority of other customers away, then suitable action must be taken (Stewart, 1999). Such action may include the removal of certain privileges or banning from the community altogether.
The community leader must accept responsibility for the rules of the community. An excessive use of rules may have the opposite effect: they may instead serve as another form of online oppression and drive customers away. Community rules must facilitate the creation of a positive environment.


Govier, T. "Social Trust and Human Communities," copyright 1997, McGill-Queen's University Press
Machiavelli, N. "The Prince," written c. 1505, published 1515, copyright renewed 1980, Penguin Books, U.S.A
Stewart, T., A. "Intellectual Capital," copyright 1999, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc.
Wallace, P. "The Psychology of The Internet," copyright 1999, Cambridge University Press

Online Communities: Culture and Economics

In her book "The Psychology of the Internet," Patricia Wallace argues that attachments formed online can be equally as close knit as those formed offline. Web communities can provide much of the same social fulfilment that other relationships do. The communities are founded on concepts such as respect, trust, identity, sense of belonging, and shared interests (Wallace, 1999).
Bagozzi makes a similar claim in his paper, "Intentional Social Action in virtual Communities." An online community may consist of individuals who are geographically close, or far-flung. The group may be emotionally close-knit, or not. However, individuals within the group are organized around a distinct interest, they feel a "consciousness of kin," and they use a shared language. The community develops through active member participation (Bagozzi, 2002).
As well as consciousness of kin and shared identity, community interactions hinge on interest, relationship, fantasy and transaction. The virtual community is uniquely able to satisfy each of these distinct needs, and provide a rich experience for community participants. (Hagel, Armstrong, 1997)
Trust is equally as important in the online community as it is offline. It is an essential part of human relationships and interactions within a society. It is the expectation that those we do not know are not intent on causing us harm. Trust develops in the online community exactly as it would offline. People communicate with each other, share information and develop their relationships (Rheingold, 1993, Govier, 1997, Wallace, 1999).
"Culture is based in detail" (Richard Taylor, WETA Workshops). It grows over time as individuals build on previous knowledge. A key element in the development of a culture is trust. Without trust, a society cannot have a viable culture (Govier, 1997), and in the online community, "the need for shared cultural objects lives on" (Brown, Duguid, 2002). Two examples of cultural objects are cult icons (individuals) and the development of a vocabulary that only has meaning to the community.
Sometimes, an online community will develop its own economic system. This was noted by economist Edward Castronova. He wrote an interesting and influential paper "Online gaming and real-world economics" on the economy of Everquest. He eventually calculated the Gross National Product of EverQuest, measured by how much wealth all the players together created in a single year inside the game. It turned was $2,266 per capita. By World Bank rankings at the time, EverQuest was richer than India, Bulgaria, or China, and nearly as wealthy as Russia. It was the seventy-seventh richest country in the world and it didn’t even exist. It would be interesting to compare the GNP of World of Warcraft with that of Everquest.

Bagozzi, R.P, Dholakia, U. M., "Intentional Social Interaction in Virtual Communities," copyright 2002, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Vol 16, Num. 2
Brown, J.S, Duguid, P., "The Social Life of Information," copyright 2002, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation
Govier, T. "Social Trust and Human Communities," copyright 1997, McGill-Queen's University Press
Hagel, J., Armstrong, A., "Net Gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities," copyright 1997, McKinsey & Company Inc., Harvard Business School Press
Rheingold, H., "The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier," copyright 1993, Harper Collins
Thompson, Clive, Game Theories, Walrus Magazine, June 2004
Wallace, P. "The Psychology of The Internet," copyright 1999, Cambridge University Press

Online Communities: Anatomy

There are several different types of online communities. Chat rooms, forums, newsgroups, and email lists all have their particular form and function. In many cases, a community may consist of one or more of these types. Static web pages and guest books may also contribute to the form and content of the community. Members of a particular group may participate in one or all of the parts that make up the community.
Examining any online community, a forum for example, one will likely see the following hierarchical structure: a webmaster, the administrator, moderators and visitors. There may be some overlap within these roles. Visitors can also be broken down into types, which may or may not be according to a hierarchy: regular visitors, casual visitors, newbies and lurkers. (Rheingold, 1993, Wallace, 1999)
According to Hagel and Armstrong, community structure and evolution can be broken down into four types: virtual villages, concentrated constellations, cosmic coalitions and integrated infomediaries. Virtual villages, the lowest form, are highly fragmented entities. Integrated infomediaries are tightly coupled groups of communities that are very specialized in one or two particular areas, but branch out to fulfill customer needs in a variety of related areas. (Hagel and Armstrong, 1997) Concentrated constellations are niche communities dedicated to a particular topic with several core communities communicating with each other to achieve maximum effectiveness. The sub-communities share a fair amount of information and will work together to achieve whatever goal the group deems necessary (Aaker, Lee, 2001, Bagozzi, 2002, Wallace, 1999).
Online communities are socially oriented groups of people. Their primary function is communication. Members may or may not have common interests, depending on the goal of the community. Online communities have shared responsibilities and a set of mutual obligations. These are defined either by a written code such as a Terms of Service, or by an unwritten code of mutually understood and agreed upon practices. The larger the community, the more likely the code is to be written down.


Aaker, J. L., Lee, A. Y., "I seek Pleasures and We Avoid Pains: The Role of Self-Regulatory Goals in Information Processing and Persuasion," copyright 2001, Journal of Consumer Research Inc, Vol 28, June 2001
Bagozzi, R.P, Dholakia, U. M., "Intentional Social Interaction in Virtual Communities," copyright 2002, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Vol 16, Num. 2
Hagel, J., Armstrong, A., "Net Gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities," copyright 1997, McKinsey & Company Inc., Harvard Business School Press
Rheingold, H., "The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier," copyright 1993, Harper Collins
Wallace, P. "The Psychology of The Internet," copyright 1999, Cambridge University Press

5/28/2007

Email Bankruptcy

CTV has an interesting article on email overload. It's been a long time since I talked about this problem.
The best way to deal with email overload is not to become overloaded. If it's too late for you, email bankruptcy might be an option.
Declaring email bankruptcy is essentially the act of starting over with your email inbox. Therefore any email sent up to the 'email bankruptcy' declaration is not considered to have existed at all by the recipient.

5/18/2007

Please Note

I am in the process of making some blog updates. It appears to be having some weird affects on my publishing and feeds. I apologize for any confusion.
Hopefully I'll get a new look up by the end of the long weekend. I also plan to move to my own url at some point, but I don't know when this will be.
Stay tuned...

May 24 Gas Prices

This morning on the radio I heard that gas prices in Toronto have hit $1.10 for the long weekend. Apparently, demand goes up over the weekend. Funny then that it always takes a long time for the price to come back down. Dare I mention the fact that prices still have not returned to normal from the hike after the refinery fire.
It's hard for me to respect the Conservative refusal to lower gas taxes. I can understand why they won't. After all, the government takes 33% of the price of gas plus GST. That's not exactly peanuts. In light of the recent budget, the government needs that money to pay for its programs and a host of other things.
Still, I have to be honest: I don't really buy the supply-demand argument. Certainly it does affect prices to some degree. I understood the price hike after hurricane Katrina. I understand some of the price hikes when there are wars in the Middle East. However, I would like to know what is affecting the supply now. There is always a slight increase in the demand at this time of year, but this does not account for the dramatic change in price over the last two or three years.
The government should take a smaller piece of the pie. They should also do something to limit gouging.

5/17/2007

Thus Spake Trudeau

"Capitalism is bad."
Whatever.
Justin Trudeau called on hundreds of high school students in Windsor Wednesday to rethink the capitalist system and reconsider Canada's reputation as a squeaky-clean model nation.

And what, pray tell did he propose as an alternate system for society?
But the sober presentation didn't extinguish the students' excitement for their modern "icon," as 17-year-old Jonna Reaume called Trudeau when thanking him on behalf of the students.
"I can't wait to vote for you one day!" Reaume, 17, told the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

The bubbly teen added, "Would you please sleep with me?"
Reaume's enthusiastic support was evidently shared by her colleagues, many of whom rushed toward the stage following Trudeau's hour-long talk. The teens swarmed Trudeau as though he were a rock star, flashing their camera-ready cellphones.

"Oh! Justin! You're so hot!" the rabid teenaged girls squealed.
Yes, this is the future of Canadians politics.
I weep for the next generation. If they can vote for Britney Spears or the band that once was NSync, they will.

Freedom of the Press and Gomery

According to PoliticsWatch some MP's are angry about an article published in the Globe & Mail last week. The article divulges the fact that "MPs decided at a secret meeting this week to recall three key witnesses from the 2004 parliamentary inquiry into the sponsorship scandal and grill them on their subsequent "divergent statements" to the Gomery inquiry..." This may well be the first time a Parliamentary committee has investigated possible perjury.
Chretien chief of staff Jean Pelletier, Jean-Marc Bard, who was an aide to former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, and former bureaucrat Chuck Guite are the three witnesses to be recalled. Not surprisingly, Liberals tried to block the investigation calling the move "partisan." Fortunately they were outvoted by the members of the other three parties.
The article at theh Globe contains the following pieces pulled from the Library of Parliament report:
On the record
Jean Pelletier, Former chief of staff to prime minister Jean Chrétien

Before Parliament: "We, at the Prime Minister's Office, were in no way involved in the administrative management of the program."

At Gomery: "Certain events would ask too much, and I would say, 'No, that doesn't make any sense, that's too much.' "

Jean-Marc Bard, Former chief of staff to public works minister Alfonso Gagliano

Before Parliament: "Mr. Gagliano never asked me to do fundraising" for the Liberal Party of Canada.

At Gomery: "At one point, the minister asked me, because they were having trouble putting together a fundraising table in eastern Quebec, to help the person who chaired the fundraising committee. ...

Chuck Guité, Former bureaucrat in charge of the sponsorship program

Before Parliament: "To say [political officials] interfered, i.e., with the selection of agencies, never. I would not let them do that because ministers are not to interfere with the selection process."

At Gomery: "A decision was made in discussion with the minister and Mr. Pelletier what agency would get it. If I had to do the decision on who got what, the list would have been quite different."

Establishing the Gomery Commission may well be the only useful thing Paul Martin did while Prime Minister.

Protecting Vulnerable Women

Despite the "concerns" voiced by Liberals, I think the new Conservative bill is a step in the right direction.
If adopted, Bill C-57 would permit immigration officers to reject foreign workers at risk of being humiliated, degraded or sexually exploited.
"What we're trying to do here is protect vulnerable foreign workers, ones that could easily be exposed to sexual exploitation, harassment and abuse," said Immigration Minister Diane Finley on Wednesday.

This is a noble goal to have. Women in particular need this sort of protection as they are likely to be at greater risk. You would think feminists would wholeheartedly support this goal. But no.
"The previous Liberal government gave blanket exemptions to foreign strippers to work in Canada," she told the House of Commmons.
"(This was) despite warnings that they were vulnerable to forced prostitution and other exploitation ... Thanks to (this legislation), the good old days of Liberal Strippergate will be a thing of the past."
'Strippergate' is a reference to a scandal involved one-time Liberal immigration minister Judy Sgro.
She fast-tracked the residency permit of a Romanian stripper who had worked on her 2004 campaign. A 2005 report found Sgro didn't intend to abuse her authority, but noted her staff knew about the situation.
Liberals scoff at the Tories' tactic...
An NDP member echoed that view...
"It's playing with a very serious issue in a very partisan way ... It speaks to their disregard for women, all across the board."

Disregard for women? Give me a break. If anything, protecting women from exploitation is a sign of their very high regard for women. And the numbers don't lie.
In 2004, when Liberal Paul Martin was prime minister, there were 423 visas issued for foreign exotic dancers.
Since Conservative Stephen Harper took over in early 2006, 17 permits have been issued -- seven so far this year.

From 423 to 17! That is a huge drop!
Yet another reason I voted Conservative.

Electoral Reform in Ontario

If you live in Ontario, make sure you visit the Ontario Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform website. It contains important information on the proposed Mixed Member Proportional Representation System. At the next election, that is October 10, 2007, there will be a referendum on the subject. In order to pass, it must win at least 60% of voter support across the province, and it must be approved by a majority of voters in at least 60% of electoral districts.
As far as I am concerned the province, not to mention the entire country, is long overdue for this sort of system. If you feel as I do that our voting system needs to be fixed, visit the site and learn more. Vote YES on October 10!

5/15/2007

Power to the Home-Schooled Kid

This open letter to the Premier was written by Jesse Fontaine, 14, from Timmins. A kid this articulate doesn't need any added opinion from me.
(h/t: Angry

I am a home-schooled Christian, living in Timmins. I am currently completing Grade 8, have an interest in politics and last year won the Short Story Category at The Daily Press Literary Awards.

My interest in politics is based on the fact that it is my generation that will have to take care of our world after your generation passes the torch on to us.

I am extremely concerned about the message that your "FLICK OFF" environmental campaign sends to us as young citizens of Ontario.

Rex Murphy was doing a piece on it when I first became aware of the "FLICK OFF" program.

My family and I thought it was a joke set up by "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" or some other similar group.

When we realized it was actually a government of Ontario endorsed program I was shocked and appalled that the government of Ontario would think they needed to relate such a vulgar term to young people in order to have them recognize environmental issues. It truly saddened me and I asked my parents why the government would think that.

They told me I should ask you.

I have seen our Ontario Government's Environmental website, then we visited the
flickoff.org" target="_blank">www.flickoff.org website and saw the intentionally modified font, meant to ensure that the people of Ontario and the world for that matter, saw it as vulgarity that would normally be unacceptable.

I observed that the links on the website such as "ARE WE FLICKED," "WHO NEEDS TO FLICK OFF," and "GO FLICK YOURSELF" convey a message that I, for one and many others, would not associate with a need to conserve energy.

The "NATIONAL FLICK FEST" left the same impression of our current government with me as did the "FLICK OFF" video - not good.

From my parents, to David Suzuki, Discovery Channel and the other more intelligent sources of information available, I already understand the importance of energy conservation.

I have attended Queen's Park as a part of my home-school studies and have an elementary understanding of the process in which the provincial government functions. Based on that knowledge I cannot understand why you, as our premier, or one of your other ministers did not stop this stupidity before it was launched. Can you explain that to me please?

There must be a better way to relay the importance of conserving energy to young people without throwing our morals and values out the window to do so.

Regardless of what a person's religious beliefs or values are, surely the majority of Ontario's Canadians would not see the actions of your environment minister as wise or even as acceptable.

I am confident that the Canadian flag which currently flies from the flag pole that I set up in our yard, stands for a higher moral standard than those used by your Minister in establishing the method chosen to communicate with us in the "FLICK OFF" program.

I see now that corporations, such as Mac's convenience stores, M&M Meats and Subway appear to be foolishly following the message of Ontario's current government, which is that the best way to communicate with young people is through association with vulgarity. Today I saw a large poster in the window of Mac's convenience store, it was posted under the Subway sign and depicted a Catholic nun on her knees reaching up to a glowing image of a froster cup with "WTF?" on it. There's a lamb or goat kneeling beside the nun. There's one at M&M Meats as well.

According to a Mac's convenience stores representative, the "WTF" is supposed to stand for "WHAT'S THE FLAVOUR" but we all know that the "WTF" on the cup implies the vulgar phrase "WHAT THE FLICK" (I used "Flick" because I don't use the "F" word that Mac's, M&M Meats and Subway intentionally, or otherwise, represent with the "F" in the "WTF" so proudly posted at their stores.)

We all realize(at least I hope we all do) that if the message was meant to be "what's the flavour?" the Nun and the goat/lamb worshipping the froster cup should not be required; the message is clear and I believe meant to be blasphemous.

I am shocked, embarrassed and angered that your cabinet, and now it appears Mac's, M&M Meats and Subway; believe that the young people of Ontario are so utterly stupid that the only way to communicate with them is to use the "F" word or other vulgar phrases like that. Can you do two things for me please?

First I would like an answer from you explaining how the "FLICK OFF" campaign was permitted under your leadership. Did not even one member of your cabinet have the common sense to see that telling Ontario to "FLICK OFF" was a bad idea?

Secondly, will you please have the "FLICK OFF" program scrapped and removed from the Internet before more ad agencies come to believe that association with vulgarity is the best communication method for conveying messages to the young people of Canada.

Jesse Fontaine,

Timmins

Pro-Life Action Alert

I just received the following letter. If the matter is of interest to any readers, please take the appropriate action.


Dear Pro-Life Friends,

The National Post recently reported that the National Abortion Federation is lobbying the Canadian Medical Association to remove its "conscientious objector policy, which allows physicians to refuse to refer patients for abortions," saying that doctors should put the interests of women seeking abortion before their own "religious and moral convictions." (See article copied at the end of this email, "Doctors asked to change national abortion policy," by Melissa Leong, National Post, May 10, 2007).

Background:

Currently, the CMA's abortion policy allows doctors to refuse to make an abortion referral when such would violate their religious / conscientious beliefs. The director of ethics at CMA, Dr. Jeff Blackmer, recently clarified CMA's position in the April 24, 2007 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) after the CMA's policy was misrepresented in a guest editorial in the CMAJ last July by lawyers Sanda Rodgers and Jocelyn Downie who claimed that doctors who refuse to refer for abortion are committing "malpractice." Dr. Blackmer's letter of clarification was reprinted in the National Post on May 5 (see below).

However, according to an earlier story in the National Post, Dr. Blackmer has said that "a huge groundswell from the membership one way or another" could force a reevaluation of CMA's abortion policy. ('The "A" word: How did abortion, that most contentious of issues, become one that is simply not discussed publicly?" by Anne Marie Owens, National Post, Saturday, May 5, 2007). Within 5 days of that report, we hear that the National Abortion Federation is lobbying CMA to change its policy to take away a physician's right to freedom of conscience and religion.


What can be done:

If CMA's policy were to be changed so that doctors were compelled to make abortion referrals against their conscientious / religious beliefs, Canada may one day find itself without any practicing pro-life doctors. Canadian Physicians for Life is already in dialogue with the CMA, the CMAJ, and CPL's membership regarding this issue (and has been ever since the offending guest editorial was published in the CMAJ in July 2006). But if you, as a member of the Canadian pro-life public, are also concerned about the pressure that is currently being put on pro-life doctors to participate directly or indirectly in an abortion, please consider writing to Dr. Blackmer and to the president of CMA, Dr. Colin McMillan, the president-elect, Dr. Brian Day, and the editor-in-chief of the CMAJ, Dr. Paul Hebert, THANKING them for upholding and clarifying the CMA's abortion policy, while politely asking that the protections for doctors with respect to freedom of conscience be strengthened.


Contact info for CMA/CMAJ:

Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Executive Director, Office of Ethics (email: Jeff.Blackmer@cma.ca)

Dr. Colin McMillan, President (email: Colin.McMillan@cma.ca)
Dr. Dr. Brian Day, President-Elect (email: Brian.Day@cma.ca)

Dr. Paul Hebert, Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Medical Association Journal, (email: Paul.Hebert@cma.ca)

You might also consider copying your letter to the National Post: letters@nationalpost.com ; Mleong@nationalpost.com

After you send your letter to CMA/CMAJ, we'd appreciate it if you could forward a copy of it on to us at info@physiciansforlife.ca so that we have some idea of how pro-life Canadians are reacting to this issue. Thank you.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,
Barbara McAdorey (Administrator), on behalf of the board of

Canadian Physicians for Life
PO Box 1289
Ottawa ON K0A 2Z0
ph/fax: 613-728-LIFE(5433)
www.physiciansforlife.ca

5/14/2007

Duceppe is Running... er... Nevermind

No sooner do I sit down to write a post regarding Duceppe's announcement regarding the PQ, he changes his mind. He will continue to lead the Bloc. Marois will try yet again to lead the party that can't be lead.
As you were everyone.
Nothing to see here.
Business as usual.
etc...

My Environmental Opinion

I fall squarely into the "deniers" camp. I do not believe in global warming. I doubt very much that humans are the cause of climate change. I think Kyoto is a political scam designed to invent a new market and take more of my money. I don't think it's a well thought out plan and I don't think we should follow the agreement, since anything Canada might do is far outweighed by the inaction of India and China.
It is incredibly bothersome to me that the likes of David Suzuki and Al Gore shut down all academic discussion on the subject of climate change by declaring the debate over. This does not help to advance scientific thinking or research. That any reputable scientist should be refused grant money because their research does not tow a political line praised by Hollywood is a travesty.
However, just because I don't believe in climate change, global warming or Kyoto does not mean that I think we can all be as wasteful as we want. In general it can be said of our society that we eat too much, we waste too much, we indulge too much and we don't exercise enough. Because so many people have to have everything now, too many people are in debt. Because too many people want to live a self-centered lifestyle, they are not having enough children, or if they have children they spoil them rotten and/or let them grow to be obscenely obese. Sexual indulgence is also a symptom of our excessive lifestyle.
There is a lot to be said for minimalism. Only use what you absolutely need. Don't get yourself up to the eyeballs in debt just for the sake of a house, a car, a TV or any other "thing." Recycling means more than just throwing stuff into the blue bin. It includes reusing plastic containers for storage, sending clothes out to the Good Will, buying or selling items at garage sales, borrowing and lending items to and from friends and family if you know you only need it for a little while, and getting whatever you can on sale. Turn your heat down at night. Open windows instead of relying on air conditioning too early in the year. Turn lights off. Buy efficient household items. Use a drying rack or clothesline instead of a dryer. If you have room, which sadly I don't, grow a garden to cut down on your grocery bill and keep a compost for your food waste. The list goes on and on and can be summed up simply.
Don't be lazy. Make an extra effort. Use less.

Poll Spinning

According to Canada.com, "Canadians do not believe Environment Minister John Baird's dire warnings that honouring the Kyoto protocol would lead to a deep economic recession or that his new plan to crack down on industrial pollution is the toughest in the world." This is apparently pushing the Liberals into a slight lead.
The poll indicates that:
1 per cent of Canadians believe the Conservative government's proposal "does not go far enough or move with enough urgency to make a meaningful contribution to the global effort to fight climate change."
When asked if they personally believed the plan was a good one, only 40 per cent of respondents answered yes, while 52 per cent said it was "a bad plan.
The poll also revealed a staggering drop in support for the Conservatives in Western Canada, leaving them in a virtual tie with the federal Liberals in overall popular support across the country.

The use of the word "staggering" is rather misleading. The article later goes on to say that in Alberta support for the Tories dropped by 13 points, leaving them at 53%. The Liberals, however, still only stand at 25%. The biggest change has taken place in BC, putting the NDP ahead, followed by the Liberals and then the Tories. There is, however, only 6 points separating the NDP and the Tories which still makes it anyone's game.
If an election were held now, the Liberals would have a slight advantage, nationally, at 32 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 31 per cent, the NDP at 17 per cent, and the Green party at nine per cent. The poll surveyed 1,000 Canadians and is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
...Only 32 per cent of Canadians believed [Baird] while 55 per cent said he was "just saying these things to scare people so that the government doesn't have to do things it doesn't want to do."

It would be interesting to see how that particular question was worded.
While the article makes it sound as though the Conservatives are being dramatically hurt by their environmental policy, the truth of the matter is that they aren't. If an election were held today, we'd find ourselves in pretty much the same position as we are now: some form of minority government, most likely Conservative. The media can bend itself out of shape to its blue in the face but when election time comes, while some will try to make the environment center-stage, for most Canadians it will not be the deciding factor. It will be one of many, and will probably get lost in the shuffle as tax-cuts, Afghanistan, health care and wait times, overall leadership ability and "getting the job done" take centre stage. Very few Canadians look at either the Conservative or the Liberal Party and think "Behold the saviour of the planet." That's what the Green Party is for.
And the Green Party has no chance of forming a government, so you can all relax.

5/11/2007

A Brief Word on Abortion and an Explanation of Church Discipline

The National Post has an interesting article on the policy of the Catholic church with regards to abortion. The Catholic church will excommunicate anyone who procures an abortion. The article mentions the fact that there has been debate as to whether or not this practice should be extended to those who legalize abortion or assist the woman. As far as I am concerned, the answer should clearly be yes. You cannot excommunicate the woman who had an abortion but let any accomplices go scot free. It would be hypocritical. I would also be interested to know what, if any, mitigating circumstances the Church puts on this policy. For example, I find it hard to believe that the Catholic church would excommunicate a woman who needed an abortion to save her life. But, I am not a Catholic. If anyone has any comments on this, I'd be interested in hearing them.
I'd like to make a few comments on excommunication. The Reformed Church also conducts this practice. It is the last step of church discipline. When people unfamiliar with the practice hear the word excommunication, they often jump to the wrong conclusion. They immediately envision inquisition-like behaviour, shunning, and people who are being inappropriately judgemental. While I am sure this has happened in the past, I am also sure that it is rarely the case. Furthermore, even if a denomination does not formally conduct the practice of excommunication, most Christians would admit to practicing it in some form with believers who go astray.
Let me explain.
Church discipline is a multi-step process based on Matthew 18 and other Bible passages. It begins when one believer is caught in some sin by another believer. That individual should go to the offending member and tell them to repent of their sin. There are many ways of going about this. Parents discipline their children. Spouses encourage each other to behave properly or they might have a fight or discuss the matter until it is resolved. Friends sit each other down and "set them straight." Since everyone will deal with sin at some point in their lives, everyone will deal with this step. In a best case scenario, the matter will end with the first step.
However, if the offending member refuses to repent, then a second or third individual is to be brought as a witness. It could be that the situation has been entirely misunderstood and no sin was committed. It could also be that the offending member is genuinely hard-hearted and refusing to repent. If the matter cannot be resolved, then the leadership of the church must get involved. Depending on the situation, this may or may not mean that the entire church will find out. Often, however, the matter never moves beyond the knowledge of the church leaders. If the Church leaders cannot convince the offending member to repent of their behaviour, then discipline will move to the last step, that is the act of excommunication.
Excommunication itself, that is the act of withholding communion, will draw only one of two opinions: that it is either a good thing or that it is not. It is unlikely that you would find someone who has no opinion on the matter.
The practice of withholding communion follows from 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul instructed the Corinthian church to expel a sexually immoral man. This is generally interpreted to mean that an unrepentant individual who claims to be a believer must be treated as though they are not a believer. Note that excommunication it NOT shunning, although it did take that form in the past. Christians are NOT supposed to cross to the other side of the street or refuse to speak to the offending member. Excommunication means that the unrepentant member is not to participate in communion and their fellow Christians are to witness to them and call them to repentance. Depending on the circumstances, some Christians may refusing to attend a gathering hosted by the individual. Christian parents may, if the situation calls for it, expel an unrepentant child from their home.
Before anyone reacts in shock and asks "How could anyone do this?" let me just say that such an action is very difficult. No parent ever does this on a whim. It always causes a great deal of heartache and takes an enormous amount of intestinal fortitude and spiritual strength.
Excommunication is not intended to be permanent unless the unrepentant individual wishes it to be so. When someone repents, they are to be accepted back. The same immoral man from 1 Corinthians 5 repented and Paul instructed the church in 2 Corinthians 2 to receive him back. We are also given the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 as what will happen if a repentant individual is not forgiven by their fellow Christian.
Church discipline is not something to be taken lightly. As far as I am concerned, and I know some will disagree, it is simple-minded to immediately accuse any church who performs discipline as being "judgemental" or "Pharisaical." To be honest, given the state of some churches, I think that more discipline is needed and not less. If more churches correctly practiced Biblical discipline, we would have less churches who think it's ok to ordain or marry gays, or that it's acceptable to preach the Jesus is not Divine, but just a "good guy."

Liberal Slush Fund

By now, everyone has probably heard about the provincial Liberal slush fund. McGuinty has finally agreed to a probe regarding the matter. The fund is to the tune of $32 million. With that much money floating around for the Liberals to waste on their friends, one thing is abundantly clear: we are over-taxed.
Tory also defended Conservative MPP Bob Runciman, who, in asking Thursday for reassurances that all appropriate evidence has been preserved, remarked he had seen a shredding truck outside government offices just one day earlier.

Yikes!
McGuinty said the former solicitor general’s question was "dangerously close" to crossing a line

What line? If there's a reasonable explanation, let's hear it. It's taken three weeks for the Premier to agree to a probe. That's more than enough time to dispose of incriminating evidence. A shredding truck does not inspire one's confidence.
The Auditor General’s investigation comes just four months before a provincial election campaign which appears to be taking an increasingly nasty tone.

In light of McGuinty's inaction regarding Caledonia, the increased health premium and subsequent nurse layoffs, his reversal of the private school tax credit and a host of other issues, this is just one more nail in the provincial Liberal's coffin. I don't see them winning the next election.

5/09/2007

Too Much TV Is Bad For Your Kids

My initial reaction to this new "study" was "Well, duh. Who needs to be told this?" Apparently, some people do.
It's an oft-heard lament that children spend far too much time watching TV, DVDs or playing video games – and a study suggests that an alarming number of babies are being turned into "screen time" junkies as well.
In a study of more than 1,000 families, U.S. researchers found that 40 per cent of 3-month-olds and about 90 per cent of kids aged 2 years or younger regularly watch television, DVDs or videos.

Three month olds?
What three month old needs television? They just sit there like blobs watching the world go by.
The study found that the infants and toddlers were spending up to 1 1/2 hours a day viewing television shows or DVDs, an activity the researchers say can be harmful to cognitive development.

Who hasn't heard the urban legend that television fries your brain? Apparently, some people haven't. Who are they and where have they been living? Under a rock? Didn't your mom ever tell you "TV shrinks brain cells. Turn that thing off!"
Apparently not.
Study co-author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital in Seattle, said certain TV programs and infant-aimed videos such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby are marketed as being advantageous for the developing child.

Ah hah!
Baby Einstein.
I was given a copy of those for my oldest daughter as a baby shower gift. I once tried watching them with her, just to see what they were like. I was not impressed at all. The movies I were given were nothing more than random shots of Disney toys and moving objects set to classical music. What a waste of time and money. I listen to classical music most of the day, and she can watch her own toys move around. She doesn't need the TV for this. I would never buy these either for myself or for anyone else.
"What we know is that the claims that are made by the purveyors of these products, both explicitly and implicitly, that they can make your children smarter or more musical or more mathematical, are entirely unsubstantiated," he said Monday from Seattle.
"There's absolutely no scientific evidence in support of those claims, nor is there any scientific basis theoretically to believe them," said Christakis, co-author of the book The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work For Your Kids.
"And the best available evidence to date suggests that certainly watching a lot of TV before the age of two is in fact harmful – harmful in terms of children's attentional abilities later in life, harmful in terms of their cognitive development, both of those measured at school entry."
Even the TV program Sesame Street, which has been shown as beneficial for number and letter recognition among 3- to 5-year-olds, is associated with language delays when viewed by children under three, he said.
"Sesame Street wasn't designed for kids that young, but it's watched by kids that young because parents think if it's good for a 3-year-old, it's good for a 2-year-old. And parents want to believe their 1-year-old is as advanced as the average 3-year-old."

I would just like to say that Sesame Street has really gone downhill since I was a kid. I have only turned it on once or twice, and I was extremely disappointed with its content... or lack thereof. Also, for those of you who swear by Dora the Explorer, that show is also banned in my house. It's repetitive to the point of being mind-numbing. Not for one moment do I believe it will make any child smarter. It's more likely to make your child need to have everything said to them fifty times.
To conduct the study, published in Tuesday's issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the researchers conducted a telephone survey of 1,009 parents of children age two to 24 months. They analyzed four television and DVD content categories: children's educational, children's non-educational, baby DVDs/videos and adult television (such as talk shows or sports programming).
On average, children began watching TV at nine months old, with an average viewing time of 40 minutes a day. Those who began getting screen time at three months of age watched less than an hour per day, and by age 24 months they were watching more than 1.5 hours per day.

Interesting. The amount of TV just goes up for most people. I suppose I am not totally surprised, but I guess this means my parenting style is different. My oldest actually watches less TV now than she did while I was pregnant. As summer approaches, the amount of TV watched will likely drop to nothing except for rainy days. The amount of TV she will watch has nothing to do with her age or how much she wants to watch it, but will be based on what we are doing that day. If she asks for TV, I often just say no.
Parents watched with their children more than half the time. "The results here show that only 32 per cent of parents report watching television or videos with their child every time the child watches," the authors write.
Christakis said parents have several reasons for allowing television and DVD/video viewing: 29 per cent believe that television is educational or good for their child's brain; 23 per cent see it as enjoyable or relaxing for their child; and 21 per cent think it gives them time to get things done while the child is entertained.

Twenty-nine percent of people surveyed actually thought TV was good for their kids. Wow. People are dumber than I give them credit for.
"People have the assumption that parents used this as a babysitter, that's their primary motivator," he said. "But in fact what we found was that the Number 1 reason they give is that it's good for their children's brain."
"They think it's actually good and it's not surprising that they think that because they've been marketed to quite aggressively with claims to that effect. But the reality is quite different."

And no one stopped to question Disney's marketing scheme and ask "Hmm, could this be a ploy to take my money?" Why yes, Parent Bob, it could be. In fact, it is. Disney is very good at taking your money.
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that preschoolers watch an hour or less of TV a day and that school-age kids keep their screen time to two hours maximum. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any screen time for children under 2.
Dr. Anthony Ford-Jones, a pediatrician in Burlington, Ont., said the problem with infants and toddlers watching TV or DVDs is that it's a passive activity.
"It's very attractive, but it's probably not as good for the child's brain as actively doing something and finding their own fun," Ford-Jones said Monday. "A child's mind at the earliest stages works in such an active way. They can be fascinated by things... They'd be better off with a cupboard full of pots and pans than they would be with passive sitting in front of something that looks cute and pretty and colourful and has jingles and nice tunes."
"And you can extrapolate that to older kids as well, who have lost their ability to make their own amusement because they're so used to being fed stuff through the TV," he said, noting that the lack of physical activity is a huge contributor to an epidemic of childhood obesity in North America.
Christakis said most parents he deals with feel guilty about their television use, but instead of feeling guilty they should just try using it more wisely.
"It's very difficult to be a parent, and most parents find themselves relying on TV in one way or another. The real challenge for them is to find a way to make it work for their kids."

I am not totally opposed to TV for kids. Like I said, I used it while I was pregnant, especially in the later months. I especially relied on it first thing in the morning after a very bad night's sleep in the last two months.
And in case you are wondering, Eden likes Curious George. She likes it enough to dance and try sing to the theme song.

The a word

Reprinted from The National Post

The a word:
How did abortion, that most contentious of issues, become one that is simply not discussed publicly?
Anne Marie Owens, National Post
Published: Saturday, May 05, 2007

When several thousand anti-abortion demonstrators gather on Parliament Hill next week, as they do every year at this time, their protest is likely to be largely ignored, as it is every year, by most politicians and the media. The annual silent treatment could be explained away by the frequency of protest marches on Parliament, if the reaction was not such an apt reflection of the state of the abortion debate, such as it is, in Canada.
While the American squabbles between the religious right and the pro-choice movement spill over into the mainstream, the Canadian abortion debate is largely reserved for the fringes. But does the silence in the middle, which is typically put down to complacency, really signify that most Canadians consider the abortion debate pretty much over?
Complacency is certainly not what is conveyed by the recent debate that ensued when abortion was raised in the pages of the otherwise staid Canadian Medical Association Journal. The flood of letters from people on both sides that followed -- some of it apparently the result of orchestrated campaigns, but much of it not -- was so vociferous that it prompted the journal to publish in its latest issue a clarification of its policy on abortion and a call for a halt to the letter-writing.
Beneath the surface of what is often regarded as a sort of national sense of complacency about abortion, there is considerable evidence of confusion, passion and an intensity of opinions.
"If you write about abortion, just watch what happens," warned Dr. Paul Hebert, editor-in-chief of the national medical journal. Ever since his publication ran a guest editorial last July urging doctors to continue ensuring access to abortions, there have been letters and e-mails that now number in the several hundred.
"Just like for the rest of society, abortion is a very polarizing issue among physicians ? Both sides are just as emphatic about the issue."
So polarizing in fact, that the journal's latest issue, released last week, featured a piece from the CMA's executive director of ethics attempting to clarify the organization's position on abortion.
"We received a large number of letters in response to the editorial ? with particular regard to the CMA's policy on induced abortion. We asked the CMA to assist our readers by clarifying their position using a casebased example, which they have provided here," the article explained.
"You are dealing with extremes of opinion on this, but it is not the fringes," Dr. Jeff Blackmer, the association's director of the office of ethics, said in an interview.
The letters, from both sides, were heartfelt but reasoned, not fanatical.
"The differences about the ethics of abortion are deep, and those differences should not be minimized," said a letter co-written by Dr. James Read of Winnipeg, and Dr. Beverley Smith of Toronto. "That there are health professionals who may feel bullied into compliance is disturbing," they wrote, referring to doctors feeling pressured to make referrals or even perform abortions despite their personal opposition to it.
In an opposing letter, Andree Cote, director of legislation for the National Association of Women and the Law, argued that "in the face of the demonstrated resistance of individual doctors to offering adequate abortion services in most institutions and regions across Canada, the medical profession has a collective responsibility to ensure access to this procedure."
What is so surprising about this recent medical journal debate is not so much the tone or details of the arguments but that such an open and free-flowing discussion on this topic is happening at all. For any number of reasons, that is not generally the case in Canada.
In the past several months, three major American newsmagazines -- Time, Newsweek and the New York Times Magazine -- have each devoted cover stories to various aspects of the abortion debate in that country. One featured a gripping image of four model fetuses held in a delicate hand above a headline that read, "The Abortion Campaign You Never Hear About." Another has an odd-looking fabric doll above the headline, "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" The cover stories, and the debate within the country, are virtually unimaginable here in Canada.
Part of the reason for the cross-border difference in the abortion debate is the much greater clout of the religious right in the U.S., which constantly pushes the issue. Another key difference is legislative and legal. Although the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalized abortion in the U.S., state legislatures often attempt to impose restrictions on access. There are also continued court challenges, including the one that led to the recent Supreme Court decision that upheld the ban on partialbirth abortions, or late-term abortions.
Rebecca Cook, an expert in reproductive law, says Canada's 1988 Supreme Court decision really defined the framework for the way the abortion debate would unfold in this country, and explains, in part, how many Canadians feel the issue has been framed in a way that is in line with significant cultural and societal differences from the situation in the United States.
"We have certain principles in our health care system--fairness, transparency, accountability, accessibility," said Prof. Cook, Chair in International Human Rights Law at the University of Toronto's law school and an editor of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. "But there is also the whole issue of looking at abortion as an equality issue, which defined how the issue was considered," in a way, she maintains, that allows many Canadians to feel comfortable with the situation.
But there is more to it than that. In the many years that have passed since abortion was decriminalized in Canada, the debate has gradually become the domain of the extremes on either side. What got squeezed out in that din of dramatically opposing views was any sense of a middle ground.
"Abortion is not on the agenda in Canada for the mainstream in Canada and has not been for a very long time," said Darrell Bricker, president and chief operating officer of public affairs for Ipsos-Reid. But he says this sense that the majority do not want to reopen the issue is often incorrectly taken to mean that there is consensus on the issue in Canada.
"Is there consensus? No, the opinions are all over the map. And you'd be wrong to see this as a consensus in favour of abortion under any circumstances."
His organization has not done any specific polling on abortion since 2000. The issue has been raised in other surveys, such as the one in February, 2006, shortly before Stephen Harper became Prime Minister, to assess what issues might bring down the minority government.
In that survey, 50% of Canadians said they would not support bringing down the government if they tried to pass a law that limits a woman's access to abortion; but 45% said they would be in favour of bringing down the government on such an issue.
The polling done in 1988 and 2000 compares attitudes about when abortion should be permitted: only when a woman's life is in danger, only in certain circumstances, or whenever a woman wants one. It showed slight increases in support for abortion on demand (from 36% in 1988 to 41% in 2000) and for abortion in certain circumstances (39% to 41%) and a slight decrease in the percentage who support abortion only in the most extreme, life-saving circumstances (23% in 1988 and 17% in 2000.)
When Environics surveyed Canadians about their attitudes toward abortion last fall, they found that about a third each of Canadians supported the view on one end of the spectrum that human life should be legally protected from conception on and, on the other end, that it should be protected only from birth on. Another third think it should be protected prior to birth, but some months after conception.
According to the survey, conducted for the anti-abortion group LifeSite, 31% said protection should begin from conception on, 23% said after three months of pregnancy, and 10% said after six months of pregnancy; another 30% think human life should receive legal protection only from the point of birth.
What is most compelling about all of these numbers, and most surprising considering the way the abortion issue is typically framed in Canada, is that they are not at all conclusive. As Mr. Bricker says, "it's not like 100% are in favour of abortion on demand ? There are a lot of lines being drawn on this issue."
He equates it to the Canadian stance on same-sex marriage, where what is often spun as widespread support actually reflects myriad gradations of approval under certain conditions.
So why then has the abortion issue become a relative non-issue in Canadian public debate, with flareups such as the one that emerged in the medical community extremely rare?
One key reason, Mr. Bricker says, "is that the forces that would want change have not organized themselves in a way that is conducive to having this issue opened up again."
It is not, on either side, for lack of trying.
If the organizers of the 10th March for Life are right, more than 5,000 anti-abortion activists are likely to descend on Parliament Hill next week for their annual campaign lobbying for dramatic legislative change.
Yet there will likely be no televised images of the demonstration and only sparse coverage from the mainstream media of an event that those on the other side of the debate typically characterize as a gathering of a couple hundred radicals from the fringe.
The campaign's media liaison, Wanda Hartlin, is accustomed to hearing the complaints of members frustrated each year by the resounding silence of media coverage of their key public awareness exercise.
"I don't think the media is that interested in religious topics and the media sees this as a religious topic," she says. "I don't think the media is ignoring us. I think you take us from a different direction.
"We call ourselves pro-life. The media calls us anti-abortion. The pro-choice people call us anti-choice."
She believes that the reluctance to engage in a national debate about abortion is a quintessentially cautious and polite Canadian response to a volatile issue: "It's a place where people don't want to go. Abortion has touched many lives. A lot of people say it's too close to home, it's too sensitive," she said. "To get there, people's hearts have to change. It's an emotional issue, it's not an intellectual issue."
The March for Life protest on Thursday is the most visible part of the group's ongoing campaign to convince politicians to reopen political debate on abortion and pass legislation that restricts the practice.
It is often said that Canada stands virtually alone as a country that has no law governing abortion.
Bernard Dickens, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's law school and vicepresident of the World Association for Medical Law, says both sides tout the no-abortion-law claim, which is "greeted with relief and triumphalism by one side; horror and revulsion by the other." Yet, he says, the assertion is wrong.
What was decided by the majority in the 1988 Supreme Court challenge by Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the longtime advocate of abortion rights, was not, Prof. Dickens maintains, a legal vacuum, but rather an acknowledgement that the prevailing system, which required women to get approval from therapeutic abortion committees, was unfair.
He says that other countries that have abortion laws have what he calls "exceptional laws, where abortion is the exception to other laws."
Canada too had that kind of law after 1969, where what was until then considered illegal was allowed with the approval of a hospital therapeutic abortion committee. That law was overthrown in 1988 when the Supreme Court considered a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms over the inconsistent availability of the procedure.
"Because we no longer have that exceptional kind of law, abortion is now covered by the general law -- laws covering consent to be treated, the law of conscientious objection, and if the abortion is done negligently, there could be remedy under the civil law," he said. "To say there is no abortion law is not correct."
He says that once abortion was truly considered a medically required treatment, then, just as in neurosurgery or cardiac care, no law was necessary. What complicates the reaction, of course, is that it is a procedure "rooted in religious, moral and ethical judgment."
Prof. Dickens, who has conducted 10-year reviews of abortion regulations worldwide and found a general liberalizing trend, says the morality aspect of abortion is diminishing somewhat but has not at all disappeared.
"It is still somewhat of an epithet. Other than Henry Morgentaler, nobody describes themselves as an abortionist. It's not too different from doctors who treat venereal disease -- there are still moralistic undertones to the judgment of the work," he said.
The intensity of moral emotion about the procedure was evident in the reactions of physicians to the guest editorial in their medical journal.
In their essay "Abortion: Ensuring Access," law professors Sanda Rodgers and Jocelyn Downie misstated what turns out to be a key aspect of the Canadian Medical Association's moral compromise on this issue: the physicians' conscientious objector status and the referral of patients desiring an abortion.
The CMA's abortion policy, which has been in place since 1988 and is reviewed annually, requires that physicians in no way impede patients from accessing abortion but does not force them to provide the necessary referral.
"It is a small distinction but it's absolutely crucial," said Dr. Blackmer, the organization's ethics officer. "For those who feel strongly on this, the feeling is, 'If I refer the patient, it is the same as performing the act.' "
He says that what has been interesting about this latest controversy is that even those who feel strongest about the issue are not pushing to have the policy made any more restrictive, only to ensure the status quo.
Dr. Blackmer suggests there are only a few things that would force a re-evaluation of the policy: a huge groundswell from the membership one way or another, a legislative review of the issue by the government, or a significant decrease in access to abortions.
"This is a legally sanctioned, medically indicated service, so if it came to a point where we felt people weren't getting access, that could prompt some sort of change," he said.
That possibility of resolving the access question may be close at hand. Last month, advocates for access to abortion released a report that said abortion services were less accessible in Canada than they were three years ago. The study found that only 15.9% of Canadian hospitals provide abortion services, a reduction from 17.8% that occurred without any change in official regulations or policies.
The issue of access will go before the court again too, when later this month, the Morgentaler Clinic sues the government of New Brunswick over provincial regulations that insist hospital abortions be performed by a gynecologist, be approved first by the gynecologist and another doctor, and does not cover the cost of abortions in clinics.
Canada's abortion debate may well be back where it was in 1988, with a court-focused dispute forcing a wider discussion about the disconnection between the avowed accessibility and the reality of access.

5/05/2007

Canadian Crossbloggers

Shane has put together a new blogging community intended for Christian bloggers in Canada. If you are interested, visit Canadian Crossbloggers

5/02/2007

Online Communities: Yes, they are Genuine Communities

A few notes regarding online communities.

1. Online communities are socially oriented groups of people. Their primary function is communication.
2. Online community members may or may not have common interests, depending on the goal of the community.
3. Communities are distinct from one another, but community membership may overlap.
4. Online communities have shared responsibilities and a set of mutual obligations. These are defined either by a written code such as a Terms of Service, or by an unwritten code of mutually understood and agreed upon practices. The larger the community, the more likely the code is to be written down.
5. Online communities usually have a form of government. These governments are made up of community moderators and site administrators. Governments are almost never democratic in nature. They more often conform to a type of benign dictatorship or aristocracy.
6. The primary role of an online community government is to facilitate communication. This involves site maintenance, performed by the administrators, and police work, performed by community moderators.

Technophobia

In the most recent issue of the Christian Renewal, there is an article on Facebook. The article is "The Facebook Phenomenon: Is that really you in cyberspace?" and it graces the front page.
The article is nothing short of a disgrace. The author clearly has no technical background and is almost totally unfamiliar with any theory of online community growth and development. The author doesn't even appear to have a basic understanding of human communities in a general sense. Peppered with "Christianese," it pretends to seriously discuss the perceived problems of Facebook. Instead, all it does is reinforce technophobia >snip< using phrases like "religion of technology... adherents to this religion" and so on.
At some point, I plan to write a rebuttal. I may even write a whole series of articles dealing with technology and its proper use in the church. >snip< Spiritually well-grounded Christians should not be afraid of something that can be a very effective tool for spreading the Gospel.
And that's ALL it is.
A tool!

Edits made on July 21, 2007
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