Saturday, December 26, 2015

An Open Letter To Jeff From Season 2 Episode 17 of Doogie Howser M.D.

Dear Jeff,

You were hired to paint an inspirational mural in the hospital alongside a bunch of children. Doogie's best friend Vinnie was enlisted to document the entire process on video.

Early in the episode, you admitted to having AIDS.  Despite having been fired from the mural project over parental concerns, you took the high road and taught Doogie that instead of getting even with those who scorned you, he should use the opportunity to educate.  You also taught Doogie's parents to live for the moment, which they took to heart by cancelling their yearly Hawaiian vacation so they could go white water rafting in Colorado. You taught Vinnie's girlfriend that she shouldn't let indecision prevent her from having a future, and that it's ok to take chances when you're young. Doogie put it best in his diary entry:

Funny how a guy who's dealing with death showed us all how to live.

Jeff, you are an amazing person and your strength in the face of adversity is an inspiration to us all. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, for predicting that the story would play out with Vinnie busting in on you to capture a candid moment, only to discover you molesting one of the children.

Monday, November 23, 2015


My mind was blown today. Thought I'd share.

I was trying really hard not to stare at the sun this morning. It was especially bright, making driving hard but making the walk in the cold a bit more pleasant with its warm radiant glow. I started thinking about how neat it is that life on Earth exists only because we're just the right distance from this gigantic perpetual explosion so fierce that light takes 8 minutes to travel here, yet we can still feel its warmth and not burn up and die. We're on the luckiest rock in the loneliest place, to quote a song by Hollerado.

Then I started thinking about light. Light comes in many forms on Earth, but the only naturally occurring source of regular light is the sun. Before fuckin' flashlights and stuff, we used the light of the sun (be it direct or bouncing off the moon) to make our way through this world. It's pretty neat that higher life forms have adapted eyesight as a way to passively observe our surroundings, as opposed to actively like bats using sonar to "see". Light is already there and we just take advantage of it.

Then I started thinking about the nature of light. It's made of photons, we all know that. Photons zip through the universe at the speed of light, and when they bounce off of things and into our eyes, our brains recognize the stimulus of incoming photons and, depending on the wavelength, interpret them as different colours or shades. The ability to distinguish between different colours and shades is what allows us to see this stuff.

Then I realized: all these photons were around for billions of years before the first eyeball ever evolved. Before the first light-sensitive cells evolved. So... what in the hell were photons doing before we arrived to observe them? We take for granted that light is there to show us what's up the road, but never to stop to think that if we weren't there to observe the different wavelengths of photons being bounced off that dead cat, the dead cat would still be visible in the sense that photons are bouncing off it at different wavelengths no matter what.

So why are the photons even there? What's the point of the different wavelengths? We observe them daily but this phenomenon wasn't put there for our benefit. We adapted to an already existing system in order to take advantage for evolutionary and survival purposes, but those photons have been bouncing around the universe on their own since forever, for no good reason that I can think of.

If a tree falls in a forest...

Neat side note: have you ever noticed that when you look at a picture of the sun online (or in a magazine, Grandma), you perceive it as extra bright, when in reality it's the exact same shade of white as the background of the Google page (or the paper, Grandma)? Go ahead, scroll up and try it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

All Y'all Need To Check ALL Y'all's Privilege

A few things to make clear from the get-go: 
-This is not an #alllivesmatter protest;
-This is not an attack on the PC police;
-This is in no way meant to poo-poo the daily struggles of the disadvantaged or oppressed;
-This is an attempt to get you to think of inherent privilege as a broad spectrum of advantage and disadvantage that has been and always be a big part of society, instead of just my "my people vs. yours".

Here goes, and apologies for the lack of snark you were probably expecting:

I am the most privileged of them all: a physically able, white, cis, straight, male with no disfigurements and with decent hair. I could use some more money, but I'm mostly ok. Next in line is all of the above except female. It's possible she makes less money than I, depending on her field. Otherwise, she's ok.

I recognize my privilege, I do. Still, it really grinds my gears when my privilege is used against me in an argument or debate, as if the colour of my skin, the shape of my genitals or the number of my limbs negates my opinions or makes me unable to empathize with someone less fortunate than I. But whatever, you can't expect every internet debate to be rational on all sides.

Here's the thing about privilege: we all have it. ALL. Privilege is contextual, and only works if you frame it within the context of another person's station in life. Privilege is a case by case basis, and there will always be someone with more or less privilege than you. Heck in some situations, you and the guy next to you can swap amounts of privilege based on particular circumstances.

An example:

A) A white man, born to dirt-poor parents and of average intelligence, can't afford to go to college.
B) A black man, born to middle class parents and of average intelligence, who can afford to go to college but just barely.

Who's more privileged? The white man might be when he walks into Starbucks or is stopped by the police, yes. But the black man is when it comes to getting a leg up on the job market. No guarantees that it'll land him a job and a great life long career, but you can't deny that his chances are much higher than the poor white guy with no degree.

I chose black and white for the above example because it's a hot topic right now: you've got your #blacklivesmatter people and you've got your #iamwhiteanddonotfeelguiltyaboutit people.

But privilege has SO SO SO many different forms that are unrelated to racial/ethnic or gender differences.

Let's look at a few. These will seem obvious on their own but I'm going for a big picture kinda thing here so bear with me...

  • Ablebodiedness: There are really obvious differences in privilege when you're talking about number of limbs and/or ability to use them, but there are subtle things too. Some people are disabled in ways that you can't see, and it seriously fucks with their lives. Diabetics who starve because they can barely afford insulin. People with chronic pain disorders, the cause of which is often a soul-crushing mystery. They'll always have struggles that you can't even begin to imagine, despite their privileged outward appearance.
  • Attractiveness: Besides the unrealistic standards foisted upon us by media/fashion/etc, there's a basic level of human attractiveness that drives us all in our mating rituals. And attractiveness equals privilege in non-sexual ways too. Pretty girls and handsome men will get better service, favourable treatment, that sort of thing. We all know it to be true, as ugly as it is.
  • Body weight: Skinny people have it made, we all know that. Assumptions are made about the obese, regarding their life choices or genetics, without ever knowing the true picture. And within the obese population, you've got privilege if you're at least conventionally attractive. 
  • Skin: Do you have nice skin with no blemishes or acne problems? Congratulations, you're privileged. I recently started getting red spots on my face that come and go at random, which could be eczema or rosacea. I sometimes have red blotchy cheeks when I leave the house and I'm kind of embarrassed about it. It blows. I feel super bad for anyone with a skin condition that they can't do anything about.
  • Bald vs not bald: Self-explanatory. Some bald guys can rock the Bruce Willis shaved look, but that's usually because they're tall, fit and handsome. Think about George Costanza rocking the Bruce Willis and get back to me about whether you think he's really pulling it off. He can't, because he's not tall and handsome. Sad but true.
  • Mental health/personality disorders: If you have a hard time talking to people, strangers or not, you're going to have to expect a rough ride through life.  You'll have to work harder to get and keep jobs and friends. Hell it doesn't even need to be a disorder - you can just be socially awkward and shy and BAM you have less privilege than the personable and friendly guy who just sold you a pair of weird loner pants.
  • Gender reassignment: A person who was born a man but chooses to live her life as a woman faces some non-obvious obstacles: how feminine will she ultimately look, after all the surgery and hormones? Hell, maybe she can't get the procedures and has to remain biologically male the rest of her life.  You can only go so far, and not everyone's gender reassignment ends up on the cover of Vanity Fair. As a result, her struggle for acceptance will be marred by the fact that no matter how hard she tries, she still looks like a man dressed as a woman.  Caitlyn Jenner has privilege over the person in this example, regardless of fame. She pulls off woman better, plain and simple.
  • Skin colour: Ok I said I'd stay away from race but I have to at least offer this up: no matter how much we hate to admit it, people of colour have a leg up in our society if their features are less... non-white. Lighter skin colour, skinny/pointy nose, lips that don't protrude too much, round eyes... people with these types of features have privilege over others of the same race. Look at your Denzel Washingtons and your Halle Berrys. This is another ugly truth about society, and I don't like it any more than you do.

The point I'm trying to make here is that you can't paint the privilege issue with broad strokes. Generalizing based on skin colour or gender is all well and good, but it's a generalization - the same people that cry foul over someone saying "All black people have bla bla bla feature or characteristic" turn around and say "All black people are less privileged". Instead of generalizing and spinning our wheels, let's focus on individuals, what their lack of privilege is, and how we can help them.

Look, whatever your station in life, no matter your skin colour or whatever, recognize the privilege that you have and do your best to give a leg up to those less privileged, but don't fuckin' feel guilty that you have two legs that work. And if you get your jollies yelling at "middle aged cis dudes" for their privilege, don't forget to check your own privilege, which you most definitely have - you need to recognize that you still got it made over the paraplegic transgendered latino woman with facial hair so thick that no amount of estrogen can hide her five o'clock shadow and also she's got Asperger's, and admit to yourself that you're thankful for what privilege you do have.

Friday, November 6, 2015

For This One Little Thing, Rogers Is An Asshole

First off: I'm kind of a fan of Rogers. I've had various dealings with them over the years and they've always been helpful and whatever. Sure it's a bit more expensive, but their shit is reliable and I'm ok spending what I spend with them.

But I have serious beef with their ridiculous mobile data plan schemes. Like SERIOUS beef. Enough beef to write the very thing you're reading right now.  That's a lot of beef.

Their scheme is this: if you pay for 1GB of data a month and go over your limit, they temporarily upgrade you (for that month only) to the next tier of plan, which has a 2GB limit and costs $15 more a month.

So what happens is, no matter how much you go over, they charge you $15. 1MB too much? $15. 1000MB too many? $15. I recently noticed "Oh shit I'm getting close to my limit, better be careful" and tried really hard to stay under my limit. I failed, to the tune of 5.64MB. That's 3 or 4 photos worth of data. One mp3. $15. For the mathematically challenged, that's 0.6% of the total amount of gigabytes I'm being charged for.

Why am I pissed? Because there's no good reason for Rogers to do this besides "...because we want to".

Rogers has clearly demonstrated that they have the ability to count every single MB of data that I use. I get a text message the minute I hit 75% of my cap, and another the minute I go over, this one telling me "Hey, why don't you upgrade your data plan?". Do they just somehow lose the ability to count individual MB between 1 and 2 GB? Of course fucking not, because if I had the 2GB plan they'd sure as shit count every single MB hoping I go over and they can charge me for 3GB.

Why in the hell can't they just have a flat fee for every MB I go over in a given month? The math is super easy, I'll show you: $15/1000MB = fucking charge me 15 cents for every MB I go over.

Remember in the old days when people actually used their cell phones for telephonic purposes? You'd get 200 minutes a month or whatever, and when you went over, you got charged by the minute for all the extra time. Hell, some telecom companies advertised that they billed by the second, so if you talked for 5 minutes and 30 seconds, you paid for that, not 6 minutes.

Bottom line, Rogers needs to implement this sort of fee structure, anything else is completely unjust.

Imagine if you went to your local Esso and pumped $20.01 worth of gas and they rounded it up to $25. First off, you'd be pissed because that's fucked up. Second, if that was just "the way it is", you'd pump the next $4.99 if you had room in your tank because what the hell, you're paying for it.

But if Rogers is going to charge me $15 for 999.5MB of unused data, what the hell am I supposed to do? Stream porn until I reach the 2GB ? I mean that sounds fun and all, but that's what McDonalds WiFi (Powered by Bell) is for.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An open letter to Mayor Jim Watson, about all this Uber mess

Hi Jim,

I want to talk to you about Uber. I know it's on your mind, I've seen you mention numerous times that the city will be reviewing taxi bylaws in the immediate future, and I can only assume that recent controversy surrounding Uber's presence in Ottawa is a main cause for the review.

When you're reviewing the bylaws, consider this: one of the main arguments against Uber is that it's unregulated and therefore not necessarily safe. I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, taxi regulation isn't necessary in the first place.

We're all adults here. We make our decisions about so many adult things every single day, and a lot of these involve strangers that have not taken a background check.

  • I can order a pizza and have it delivered to my door by a complete stranger who knows where I live and what valuables I possess, but I can't go home in an Uber car.

  • I can get drunk at a bar and get a lift home with a complete stranger who's had a couple of drinks but is under the limit and is going my way, but I can't go home in an Uber car.

  • I can get my neighbour's cousin Gary to come fix my washing machine for $20, but I can't go home in an Uber car.

  • I can meet and fall in love with a man named Steve, only to find out that Steve is living a double life and has a family on the side and his name is actually Gord, but I can't go home in an Uber.

Uber drivers and taxi drivers all have the same motivation: to make a living.  Sure there are the odd story here and there about Uber drivers misbehaving, but you can find just as many stories about licensed taxi drivers misbehaving.

I did an informal poll amongst my female friends about any unpleasantness they've experienced in licensed, regulated Ottawa taxis equipped with cameras:

Sheri: Almost every single cab I've been in over the past 20 yrs has made me uncomfortable by hitting on me. I had a really scary experience with DJ's cabs yrs ago where I was at the Makenzie st bridge by the mission when my cab driver got out and beat the shit out of a homeless kid trying to wash his windows.
Renee: There's one particular driver who always calls me, "Sweets": "Yes Sweets."; "Okay Sweets"; "Are you going to see your boyfriend Sweets?". It totally makes me feel uncomfortable. 
Julie: I had a driver hitting on me once as I was on my way to a party. Made me feel uncomfortable because I couldn't exactly walk away... 
Alex: At the end of the night I took a taxi home by myself. When the taxi arrived, the man driving took many opportunities to dis-empower me by consistently calling me Girl. He kept saying things like: “Hey Girl, it’s okay, trust me Girl, I’ll take care of you Girl”. At one point he called me sweetheart while he was asking some pretty invasive questions. I felt so dis-empowered and vulnerable that I was kinda afraid to tell him to stop calling me Girl and I was afraid of not answering his questions. 
Ashlee: The cabbie turned his whole body around when I got in and gave me the el creepo once over, spending a good amount of time on my tits while I tried to tell him where I was going. Then he told me how nice I smelled. He kept his hand on the back of the passenger seat in front of me the whole time, occasionally coming close to my knee as I tried desperately to keep distance between us.  When we finally stopped he told me the total $$ and slid his hand down the seat further while I looked through my wallet, staring at me the whole time. I put a ten in his hand trying to avoid touching his skin but he folded his fingers upward to make contact with my hand. Then said " you're paying me with money?" and gave me the most uncomfortable wink. 
Allison: He got out to walk me to my door uninvited, after asking too many personal questions about boyfriends and who I was with that night and scorned for talking about other men or that I had a date. "Oh, a beautiful girl like you, out there with all those men all the time tsk tsk tsk"

For the most part, these are cases of soft harassment, where the act isn't exactly egregious enough to report. Most people aren't going to call Blue Line and say "You know, my driver was being kind of inappropriate. No, he didn't touch me or threaten me but I felt kinda gross when I got out of the car."

On the other hand, Uber lets riders directly rate their driver (and vice versa) meaning that bad drivers and bad riders get their access to the app revoked if they misbehave. On top of that, Uber is VERY concerned with protecting their reputation. They know that the world is watching them closely and won't risk their reputation by not terminating any potential creeps at the first sign of trouble.

Every Uber user I've spoken to about Uber has nothing by nice things to say about it. They all prefer Uber over taxis. Cleaner, faster, cheaper, safer, more pleasant in general. Not to mention the added benefits of:

-no cash transactions;

-knowing exactly who your driver is because the entire trip is logged (as opposed to the all-too-real scenario where someone is tipsy, hails a cab, the cabbie harasses them and then when the whole thing is done, they don't remember the driver number or even which company it was, and the company has no official record of the ride because the cab was hailed);

-the assurance that the driver is using the fastest possible route to get you there (both driver and rider have access to Google maps to map out the trip);

-no tipping required;

-no refusal of short or inconvenient rides;

-no excessive service charge just to use a credit or debit card instead of cash; and

-no spending the entire trip listening to the driver yell into a Bluetooth headset at one of their friends (I've heard this complaint a lot).

So when the time comes to review the bylaws, it's really important that you ask the people of Ottawa whether they prefer Uber over taxis, and take their concerns very seriously. Give them the choice, as adults, to ride in a regulated taxi if they wish, or an unregulated but in my opinion equally safe Uber car. You don't need to hold our hands on our way home from the bar. We've got this.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Little Girl Who Cried Homophobia

Disclaimer: if I put in all the disclaimers that I felt the need to, they would be longer than the actual piece itself. The internet pages would pile as high as the moon. I left a few in for good measure.

Someone wrote to our local alt-rock radio station and complained about the lyrics to Blink 182's "What's My Age Again". Paraphrasing: "The song contains homophobic lyrics, and I think you should stop airing it. I'm sure the band thought this was funny once but now it's disrespectful."

I've heard this song plenty of times and I couldn't remember any homophobic lyrics off the top of my head. Mind you, I'm not so good with lyrics, so I thought I'd give 'er the ol' Google lyric search, and came up with what I'm guessing is the guilty language:

Then later on, on the drive home
I called her mom from a pay phone
I said I was the cops, and your husband's in jail
This state looks down on sodomy
I say "guessing" because this is far from homophobic, yet is the only thing remotely gay about the song (besides the song itself rimshot disclaimer I love the gays I have gay friends).

Sidenote: Here's a jokesplanation for anyone that may need it. The guy in the song prank called his ex-girlfriend's Mom, saying that her husband had been arrested for an illegal act of sodomy in whatever state they're in where sodomy is still illegal.

I think that the radio complainant either misunderstood the joke and thinks it's about prison rape (in which case it's less homophobic and more contributing to rape culture) or thinks that only gay people practice sodomy. Even if that were the case, how does that make the lyrics homophobic?

Disclaimer: as a straight white cis male sexual assault survivor with a decent job, my opinions on what is or isn't offensive are... well they're not strong. I mean, I believe the shit out of them, but they're not taken seriously by the politically correct crowd, and what follows will likely be tossed aside like an empty cup at a Tim Hortons drive-thru but here goes...

Listen PC police: you have to reign in your flagrant accusations of "that's blablaphobic" and "that's whatevercist" because you're basically diluting out the word to the point where it's becoming not meaningless but SUPER annoying.

Once upon a time, racist meant not giving someone an opportunity that they rightfully deserve, excluding them solely by the colour of their skin. Once upon a time, homophobic meant not wanting to shake hands with a gay man for fear of catching AIDS.

These days, even the slightest bit of perceived offense is called racist or homophobic or bullying because these buzzwords carry a lot of weight. Use one of these during a public calling out of a celebrity or corporation and you can bet there's gonna be some firing and apologizing because once one of these word bombs is dropped, the shit rolls downhill fast. Blogs and news outlets run with it and people end up apologizing just to make the mess go away.

The problem is that for each perceived offense that doesn't necessarily deserve such a drastic buzzword, it makes said buzzword more annoying.

Person A: Did you hear about so-and-so's *air quotes* racist tweet?
Person B: *rolls eyes* Here we go again, what's everyone overreacting to now?

This is the attitude you're inadvertently creating in others. Most people are decent and have a baseline level of political correctness that allows us all to co-exist relatively peacefully. But even these people have a line, and you cross it by calling out every single transgression as a hate crime, no matter the severity. Choose your battles and you may stand a chance at making a difference.

Disclaimer: the reason I said "little girl" in the title is because it was a girl that wrote to the station. At least, she had a girl name. I don't know how she identifies herself along the gender spectrum, and whatever her choice is that's fine with me. But her name sounded girly.

Friday, July 31, 2015

PC Police Brutality: Don't Shoot, I'm An Unarmed White Male With Opinions

I've decided to pull back on my anti-PC rhetoric on social media. Is it because:

a) I'm wrong to think that systemic oppression can go both ways?
b) I'm hurting too many people's feelings?
c) I'm afraid someone is going to start a witch hunt against me in an attempt to ruin me?

I've always been outspoken against the ultra-PC, and in the age of the Internet where any dipshit can write 40 paragraphs of yelling and consider themselves worth listening to (myself included), it's easy as pie for anyone to get their opinions out to the masses. It's a double edged sword, this Internet thing. It gives a voice to the powerless, and we're no longer only exposed to the ideas and agendas of mainstream media. On the other hand, it gives a voice to idiots (myself included). We've reached an age where if you offend somebody, there are multiple ways for them to attack you using Internet, whether or not you deserve it.

The Twitter dog-pile

The offended party tweets about something you said or did, and if their version of events is egregious enough, the outraged multitudes on Twitter will retweet or comment until it the catches the eye of a semi-popular blogger, who will retweet or write 2 paragraphs and include 5 embedded tweets from angry supporters, and then people will start sharing the blog post on various social media outlets and the "story" picks up steam to the point where a major blog like Huffington Post will write a story called "Jane said blerp to Joe and Joe's supporters are calling for Jane's retirement and a written apology" and then all of a sudden major blogs are picking up the story, digging around Jane's social media profile which, up until today was public because Jane had nothing to hide, and they pull up literally anything they can find that looks like it might even slightly paint Jane in a bad light, and now you've got major pieces on Gawker and Buzzfeed and and hey look CNN is also a 24 hour TV news network and they need content because it's a slow news day and by 11pm there's a split screen interview on national television between an attractive news anchor and Joe, a graphic before the commercial break showing several tweets from outraged supporters, and then a special guest who is an expert on whatever the heck reason Joe is being oppressed in the first place, and at the end of the day, Jane is ruined.

News outlets of all forms need to run with any story that has a hint of controversy in order to stay competitive, and combine this with the ease with which someone can voice their "outrage" with the click of a button and then walk away, and you have a dangerous situation where outrage is perceived to be a lot bigger than it is, because usually all these news stories need is a small handful of examples of said outrage. Five tweets, two angry blog posts and boom, outrage.

If you've ever even considered calling someone out on Twitter or other social media, do us all a favour and watch this amazing Ted video called When Online Shaming Spirals Out of Control. It talks about how one woman's offhand, off-colour joke went viral and destroyed her, to the point of rape threats and AIDS wishes. The speaker's summary gave me chills:
"The great thing about social media was how it gave a voice to voiceless people. But we're now creating a surveillance society where the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless"

Here's another great article that just came out, that perfectly reflects my feelings on the whole Cecil the Lion thing:

From Gamergate to Cecil the lion: internet mob justice is out of control

Online petitions don't make a damn difference and you know it 

Online petitions: you have a shit ton of space to air your grievances and you can make some demands and you can see instant results, but it's less dramatic because it's not directly linked to social media, it can take a lot longer to pick up steam.

A great example of this is a petition against the band Black Pussy. Several people are outraged at the racist and sexist connotations the band's name can have if interpreted a certain way, and one person was outraged enough that they drew up a blanket petition addressed to any music venues hosting Black Pussy on their US/Canada tour.  One day the petition showed up in my Facebook newsfeed, in a story by CBC. I recognized the band's name, as I knew they'd played Ottawa a week or two beforehand. A bunch of people talked about it from both sides of the debate, and then some of the PC crowd caught on to the fact that a local venue had hosted the band not too long beforehand, and after a lot of back and forths it became an official shitstorm with the bar doing everything it could to appease the PC crowd and make sure that everyone feels welcome and safe in their establishment, and the extra offended saying "that's not good enough, we want a straight up apology otherwise the rest of this is meaningless." Now the bar has to walk on eggshells for fear of getting called out on booking any band that could be remotely offensive, mine included (more on that later).

I'm mad right now. Tomorrow? Who knows

The problem is that this outrage is a heat of the moment knee-jerk reaction.  Any conflict between two people goes through stages: the part where emotions run high and you're super pissed and you shouldn't say anything, and then the part where you cool your jets and are thinking rationally and maybe the two of you can actually resolve the problem. This applies to people's opinions on the issues as well. A great example is the death penalty. I've always been unsure about how I feel about it. For the most part, I'm against it for a bunch of great reasons, but mainly the rate of wrongful convictions is just too unsettling. Still, whenever a particularly bad case of human indecency comes along, my first thought is "Burn that fucker." Eventually I calm down and remember my logical, non-emotional reasons for opposing the death penalty.

Internet outrage is made up from people who read a story, say to themselves "Oh HELL no", and share the story while caught up in a shitstorm of anger and emotion, but a day or two later and most of them honestly couldn't give a hoot anymore. It's no longer an issue for them, they said their piece and moved on. The problem is that THAT PIECE IS STILL OUT THERE BECAUSE INTERNET. So all those posts calling for so-and-so's resignation or such-and-such's prosecution stay up and continue to add to a perceived level of outrage that comes nowhere near reflecting the actual level of outrage from people who are willing to book time off work and go down to their local whatever and protest/educate/etc.

This business about the bar booking Black Pussy: I guarantee you that 90% of the people who spoke out against the bar would go back if their favourite band was playing, even if the bar had ignored all the criticism, because of all the reasons I just outlined. Their outrage was fleeting, and gives the bar a false impression that a large part of their customer base is pissed off and must be appeased.

Me me me me me

Ok, we've gotten to the part where I make this all about me. That little quiz I posted at the top: I'm sure that if you know me, you already know the answer. I've decided to pull back on my anti-PC rhetoric because I'm afraid someone is going to start a witch hunt against me in an attempt to ruin me. Really, it's already begun. I recently got caught up in an online debate about the local burlesque scene. I won't get into the specifics, but suffice it to say I was standing up against what I perceived to be overly militant PC efforts. The debate included local performers, and it was a public post on Facebook.

I lost a DJ gig at an upcoming burlesque show over this debate. Some performers didn't like my attitude and complained to the promoter about not wanting to work with me, and the promoter had to regretfully let me go. I don't blame the promoter, they had to keep their performers happy. Still, the people that complained know me very well, as I'm deeply ingrained in the local burlesque scene due to my wife being the local fairy godmother of burlesque. These people know that I can be outspoken but that I'm harmless, that I can be an asshole but that I'm not even close to bigoted. They know that I respect people of all size, orientation, gender and colour. But at least one of them decided that "enough is enough, I'm sick of this guy's attitude so I'm going to take his work away from him." I don't care about the money from losing a gig, I care about the principle of the matter. I was fired because someone disagrees with me. I wronged no one, attacked no one, but was fired because of my anti-PC beliefs.

Then the next day, a very interesting/scary thing happened, completely unrelated. I was having what I thought to be a pretty smart conversation on Facebook with an acquaintance about the confederate flag, and we were musing on some of the reasons why the flag might be perceived as "not a big deal" by Canadians. I put out a thought about how this could even apply to a large number of black Canadians who are so historically removed from The South that to them it's just another symbol of ignorant rednecks, and then a black Canadian chimed in and basically shit all over everything I was trying to say. He was LIVID and I didn't understand why because I thought I was making a good point. He refused to acknowledge anything I had to say and just wanted me to apologize for my comment. I was dumbfounded and I walked away because I could see we were getting nowhere.

Later that day I mentioned it to my sister and she said "Oh YOU'RE the reason he was so mad today." She showed me a very angry post on his Facebook wall about the argument, and then it hit me: he completely misunderstood my point. He thought I was saying that Canadian blacks SHOULDN'T be offended by the Confederate flag because they're not probably not directly descended from slaves. That is so completely removed from what I was saying. Because he was so angry and wouldn't clarify why he was pissed, I had no way to explain what I actually meant. It was nice to finally understand why he was so pissed.

But here's the kicker/scary part: that Facebook post on his wall has 100 comments on it (I didn't read them) of people presumably siding with their friend and thinking that I'm a bigoted douchebag. And rightfully so. Presented in this context, how could they think otherwise? I shudder to think about what would have happened if this person had decided to call me out by name.  I think I'm lucky that my Facebook profile has my real name and not my stage name. I'm semi-prominent in the local music scene, but for the most part these people only know my stage name.

I started thinking about what could have happened if this guy had decided to call me out. The outrage over my comments, the hundreds of people taking his side of the story, making up their minds about me and then glossing over whatever explanations I tried to put forward to explain that I'm the farthest thing from a bigot. People demanding an apology. People demanding that bars that purport to be "safe" stop booking my band because of my supposedly racist views. It didn't seem like much of a stretch, considering that I'd already lost a DJ gig for my views.

Ok, we're almost done

So now that I've put myself out there as "outspoken, anti-PC guy", I fear that I'm under scrutiny and that every word I say is being watched by the PC police so that they can bring me down. Paranoid thinking? Probably. Delusions of grandeur? Likely. Am I going to risk it? I don't know. I started writing this post almost a month ago, and since then things have died down because a lion was poached by an asshole and he seems to be everyone's latest outrage project. I'll let him take the heat.

I've got plenty of supporters that love my calling out of bullshit overly PC attitudes. Not coincidentally, my true "friends" on social media are also the ones that support me, the rest are merely acquaintances and I'm sure we're slowly losing patience with each other. Still, in the interest of self-preservation only, I'm being more careful about what I say now, much to the delight of the PC police. Chalk that up to a win for passive aggressive censorship! I'm repeating the quote from earlier, in case you skimmed over it but also because it means a lot to me:

"The great thing about social media was how it gave a voice to voiceless people. But we're now creating a surveillance society where the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless"

Ok that was a lot of heavy reading. Enjoy this video poking fun at the PC police, I certainly did.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fuck You Store, I Win

I'm a god damned folk hero.  I frequently order a bagel with sliced cheese at Tim Hortons, which costs 80 cents extra for 2 slices of cheese. It's always been like this, I've bought like, a hundred of these over the years.  If I'm extra hungry I'll get double cheese, for 4 slices total. Sometimes I have to explain what "double order of swiss cheese" means, or correct a sandwich that only came with 2 slices. Never has there been an issue until the other day.

A Tim Hortons on Carling INSISTED that I was only supposed to get 1 slice for 80 cents. No matter how much I insisted that not to be the case, all he had to offer was "If you got this before, they were doing it wrong" and "I've seen the video, it's one slice for bagels and two slices for sandwiches". Eventually I got my 2 slices but he was NOT happy about.

So I emailed Tim Hortons when I wasn't busy arguing with lazy feminazis on Facebook. Asked them to clear up what the correct amount of cheese is.

Thank you for contacting Head Office, we appreciate hearing from our guests.  
I would love to clear this up for you! When you purchase extra cheese, you are to receive 2 slices on the following items: bagel (with cheese), classic lunch sandwiches and paninis, and all other requests for extra cheese (such as a croissant with cheese). When purchasing these following items you are only to receive one slice: breakfast sandwich, bagel B.E.L.T and crispy chicken.   
If any restaurants you visit are not following the standards, please let us know and we would be happy to follow up. 
Thanks again for reaching out, I hope you have a wonderful day!
The TDL Group Corp.
Ashleigh ,
Guest Services Representative
Toll Free: 1-888-601-1616

So fuck you Tim Hortons at 1778 Carling, I win. I ratted your cheese-skimping asses out and printed up a copy of the email should you ever try to cross me again. Bring it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Utilize Ton Blinker, Estie

(this applies to Ottawa drivers mostly, but also to every other region in the world where the assholes from the next region over drive like idiots)

Pop quiz, hotshot: You're driving down the Queensway and some jackass merges in front of you with nary a flick of the turn signal. What province is their license plate from?

You and I both know that the answer is Québec. We feel comfortable saying that without coming off like racist homophobic misogynists because we all know it to be true: Québec drivers (or more specifically for us, Gatineau drivers) almost never use their turns signals.

Digression: I've been observing the phenomenon for years and I've come to an interesting but bewildering conclusion: they only seem to regularly use a turn signal when making an actual 90 degree turn on to another road. The lack of signal seems to only apply when merging on multi-lane roads.

Original point: Québec drivers are notorious for not using a turn signal - we all know it to be true, but in this day and age of people screaming "cultural appropriation" at the merest hint of a feather in a hat, we have to be able to back up our outrageous claims or face the wrath of the fInternet Army Of Righteousness and Tolerance (FART).

I took it upon myself to endanger the lives of those around me by keeping a highly scientifically accurate tally of infractions that I observed while driving on the Queensway over a period of about a month. I kept track of every no-signal lane change I saw, categorizing them by province.

Figure 1: raw data representing number of drivers from Ontario (left) and Québec (right) observed changing lanes without proper use of a turn signal. Data was collected with a Sharpie-brand metallic marker. Vehicle: 1998 Saturn SL1, named Judy Jetson

These results show a roughly equal number of infractions by drivers from either province

Seems fishy, and goes completely against everything we know to be true, right? That because the raw data doesn't take into account the proportion of Québec drivers to Ontario drivers on Ontario streets and highways. Once we factor in those numbers... hoo boy.

I collected some data on one afternoon in four different locations in one part of the city. I chose an area that was a) relatively close to Québec and that I assumed would contain some Québec drivers running errands, and b) where I was at the moment I decided to count.

The average percentage of Québec drivers in Ontario during my sampling period was 6.1% with a standard deviation of 3.3%. Not the cleanest set of stats but I don't care very much.  Once you adjust the raw data to account for the fact that only 6% of drivers are from Québec, the results become a bit more... well, exactly what you'd expect:

It's funnier if you look at the data like this:

Just so this is isn't misinterpreted: for every Ontario driver that changes lanes without using a turn signal, there are approximately 13 Québec drivers who do the same. Conclusion: you were right all along, and they are the worst.

Oh and call Randy if your car dies and you want $100 for the scrap metal, he'll come tow it away in a jiffy. 613-262-9512

Note: I'm allowed to make fun of Québeckers because I'm half French. You, on the other hand, are allowed to make fun of Québeckers because you have some semblance of free speech.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Silver Linings...

It happened. After years of carelessly leaving my music equipment in plain sight in my back seat, someone finally smashed the window and took off with my stuff.  Every other time I've heard about it happening to other musicians, I've had pity for them but part of me (the asshole part) always said "...but it was your own damn fault for leaving your stuff in your car". I don't get to say that anymore...

Here's a fun picture of my car window right now:

Anyway, I'm futilely trying to use social media and wanted posters to try and track down the stuff (see below) but I'm fairly positive I'll never see my sweet Gretsch again.  I'm trying to stay positive, so I'm looking at all the silver linings around this dark cloud:

  • I tend to abuse the Bigsby bar when I play, which means I frequently have to re-tune my guitar. My now-main guitar doesn't have a Bigsby so less tuning = more time to tell tasteless jokes between songs
  • I like my Thinline Squier Telecaster a lot, and wasn't happy with it being my back-up guitar. Now it's my main guitar so I get to play it more often
  • I own a bad-ass looking Dean Flying V that almost never gets played. Now I have a reason to get it fixed up because it's been promoted to back-up guitar
  • So many offers from friends to let me borrow their gear if I need it
  • New friend requests on Facebook, as my "stolen gear" photo spreads somewhat virally
  • Attention. Anyone that knows me knows I crave attention. After the hubbub over the bullshit lawsuit last year, I felt a giant attention-shaped hole in my life. Now everyone's paying attention to me and talking about me as if I matter. Feels great.
  • I get to learn how to replace a car window. I've always been mystified as to what manner of sorcery goes on inside a car door to make the window roll up and down. Now after watching several instructional videos I've learned that it's a fairly basic but clever mechanism and I can't wait to try to replace one on my own.
  • Today I was able to put off writing my 2014-15 Commitment To Excellence, my work's annual lame self-review document, so I could do various theft-related follow-up activities.
  • My car could use a good vacuuming anyway
Here's a list of what was stolen, let me know if it ends up in your local pawn shop

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Patton Oswalt just "won the internet"

Update: I didn't get why this thing was happening at the time because I'd missed all the ridiculous outrage about some of Trevor Noah's past tweets.  Turns out this here brilliance by Patton Oswalt is in direct defense of Trevor Noah, which makes it a billion times more awesome.  Read more about said tweets here, and read an amazing rebuttal against PC ninnies by panty-sniffing rape-jokist Jim Norton here.

Every week someone wins at internet. This week it's Patton Oswalt, who at 3am my time posted a ridiculous series of joke explainers that should in no way offend anyone.

Presented to you in reverse order, because it's an easier read:

(1/53) Q: Why did the man* throw* butter* out of the window*? A: He wanted to see* butter fly*!

(2/53) "Man" in my previous Tweet should not be construed as privileged, misogynist or anti-trans.

(3/53) Nor should there be ANY assumption of said man's race or religion. It could be an African American man, Asian, or any one

(4/53) of the vast multi-cultural mosaic which make up the world we live in today. "Man" was simply an archaic placeholder for the

(5/53) "subject" of the joke, and thus should not denote privilege nor exclude any sexuality, religion, nationality or offend any

(6/53) feelings the joke listener may or may not have or have ever experienced in the past. Furthermore, the action of "throwing" is

(7/53) NOT meant in any way to imply an exclusion of the differently abled, or even someone who@may have ever felt excluded from

(8/53) And the choice of "butter" as the object being thrown was in NO WAY an insult to those with a strict lacto-vegan diet or

(9/53) ANYONE who may be lactose intolerant, might KNOW someone who is lactose-intolerant (or knows someone who is ka to-vegan) or

(10/53) may meet someone of those two persuasions anytime in the future. Also, "butter" does not mean the joke-teller is unaware of

(11/53) or insensitive to the abuses in our current factory-farming dairy industry, including neglect of animals or additions of

(12/53) hormones, pesticides or other contaminants. Also, PLEASE accept this pre-emptive apology if the word "butter" was a trigger

(13/53) for any time in the past the joke recipient may have been called a "butter face" or knows someone who was insulted in such a

(14/53) fashion. Aesthetic shaming is real and bullying hurts us all.

(15/53) Also, again, privilege. What else? Oh yes...

(16/53) "Out the window" was NOT meant as any sort of insult to the homeless population, in that the phrase "out the window"

(17/53) could EASILY be construed as placing the butter-thrower in a house which

(18/53) the butter thrower owns.

(19/53) The triggering potential for "out the window" is not to be underestimated.

(20/53) Nor should the act of THROWING AWAY food, which can be read as a violent, corporate-centric status maneuver.

(21/53) Privilege.

(22/53) Privilege.

(23/53) Privilege?

(24/53) PRIVILEGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'nnn

(25/53) The pronoun "he" in the 2nd part of the joke should, again, NOT be taken

(26/53) as a patriarchal assumption.

(27/53) Parts 28 through 36 will simply be the word "problematic" for your use in any other interpretation of the pronoun "he"

(28/53) Problematic.

(29/53) Problematic.

(30/53) Problematic.

(31/53) Problematic

(32/53) Problematic.

(33/53) Problematic.

(34/53) Problematic

(35/53) Problematic

(36/53) Problematic

(37/53) "See" is, we all know, VERY POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING to any seeing impaired or blind people hearing the joke

(38/53) And, again, a pre-emotive apology is meekly offered.

(39/53) And the fact that Twitter does NOT offer a Braille version of its website is part of a larger problem

(40/53) which the joke was IN ABSOLUTELY NO WAY making light of.

(41/53) Finally, the fact the man wanted to see butter "fly"

(42/53) implies a flippant attitude towards mental illness or the subjects lack of abstract or

(43/53) or symbolic/empathetic thought which was NOT the aim of the joke

(44/53) or the joke teller. But context, as we know, does not matter. Only individual words and feelings do, so

(45/53) as always, and from now on, no matter what the intent, aim, or satirical content

(46/53) the deepest apology is offered to ANYONE

(47/53) ANYWHERE


(49/53) who found any offense in the previous joke.

(50/53) Jokes should always entertain. EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HEARS THEM.

(51/53) A simple series of clarifying post-joke Tweets like the ones I just sent out will insure EVERYONE a gentle, comforting chuckle.

(52/53) Welcome to comedy in 2015, @Trevornoah!

(53/53) Also, the "come" part of "welcome" shouldn't be construed in a "faggy" way.

All this to welcome Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show.

I don't get it, but I love it. That's wine talkin'

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Both Kinds of Music: 10 Years And Going Strong

(The following is paraphrased and details and facts are sketchy at best. Sue me)

I remember back in my early Lefty McRighty days (back when I could still draw a crowd... *le sigh*), some weird guy approached me after the show. Bald as all hell up top, big plastic glasses, and way too much energy for someone over 40. I think I thought this is what a hipster was at the time.

"Hey Lefty, I've seen your band a bunch of times, I think you guys are really great. You're the real deal."

"Hey thanks, I appreciate it" (this was my canned response to all my fans. Now it's "Cool, wanna be friends? Please?")

"I want to do a tribute concert* for my favourite band of all time, Jr. Gone Wild. You heard of 'em?"

"No, can't say I have."

"You'd love 'em. Seminal Canadian alt-country. Anyway I want you guys to play at the show, I think it'll be amazing."

At this point I'm thinking Oh great, this nutjob is going to ask me to play in his garage** for him and his 4 friends. But then he says the magical words:

"Oh and I host a country music radio show on CKCU."

The first words out of my mouth were almost "I will do anything and everything possible to promote my band, I worship you now" - I'd never met anyone from the amazingly cool local college radio station. For some reason I mistakenly believed that this was a world I couldn't access.

Instead I played it cool: "Oh neat, I'd love to take part, sounds fun. What's your name?"

"Dick Altavista."

And so it began.  Since then I've come to know Dick Altavista and his show Both Kinds of Music intimately. I've spent many hours hanging out at the studio promoting this or that.

Me and Dick, promoting my latest turd, Nashville Roadkille

When I first approached Dick about helping promote the first ever O-Town Hoedown, he replied "Sure, love it, let's devote an entire 2-hour show to it." I was blown away.  Since then it's become an annual tradition to take over  Both Kinds to promote the Hoedown, and whenever I've needed airtime to promote one of my band's shows, Dick has given me open invite to drop by anytime to say what I have to say. 

I don't know if I've ever seen a man more excited about the very prospect of music just existing. I feel like Dick Altavista will be listening to a record and he gets really excited by the fact that someone thought to write all this stuff down and set it to tape for the world to hear.

And I guarantee you've never seen a more fervent supporter of the local music scene than Dick Altavista.  If you pick any random episode of Both Kinds of Music and read over the playlist, you'll find that at least half the songs on every show are from local artists. That's not even in the show description, it's not "the point" of the show. It's just Dick Altavista loving locals bands. Not to mention having a zillion guests on the show (local or otherwise). I thought I was special but take a look at the list of artists he's had come hang out on the show over the years:

Alice Kos, Bob Whitmore, Box Full Of Groundhogs, Brock Zeman, The Brothers Chaffey, Bryce Jardine, Catriona Sturton, Chris Cook, Chris Landry, Chris Page, Colin Wylie, Conor Mercury, Dan Deslauriers, Dang Guilty, Dave Norris & Local Ivan, David Hustler, The Dead Bees, Elvyn, Enjoy, Your Pumas, Eric Gilmore & The Mad Hatters, Ev Laroi, Fist City, The Flats,  Gareth Auden-Hole, Greg Kelly, Huntley Slim & The Suburban Cowboys, The Jack Grace Band, James Leclaire, Jehan Khoorshed, Jon Laurie-Beaumont, Julie Element, The Jupiter Ray Project, Kara Askwith, Kenny Voita, Kris Millett, Ken Workman, Lefty McRighty, Luther Wright, Mark Kiely, Mark Ripp, Marvin Etzioni, Matt Gower, Meredith Luce, M. Mucci, Morgan Friend, Mystery Pill, Nathan Hunter, Nicolai Dangeroso, Ninety Lbs. of Ugly, No Fly List, No Kinds Of Love, Pamela Brennan, Patrick Shanks, Ray Harris, Riley Taylor, Rob Snasdell-Taylor, The Rough Sea, Samantha Mouchet, The Shakey Aches, Shawn Tavenier, Slo Tom, Steph Clementine, Steve Stacey, Still Winter Hills, Tindervox, The Train Jumpers, Trevor Alguire, Uncle Sean, Winchester Warm, The Woodrunners.
I mean, geez.
With Dick making CKCU an open arms environment for me to come hang out at, I felt comfortable approaching the other DJs about helping promote my shows, and I got to know Matthew Crosier, the station manager. Over the years CKCU started to feel like home, and it was only natural that I start hosting a radio show there myself. I was welcomed with open arms and love every minute that I'm there hosting Friday Nite Truck Stop with my dad-in-law Ray Harris. Ultimately, without Dick's initial introduction, I don't know if I ever would have ended up as part of the CKCU family, so thanks for everything Dick, and congrats on 10 years on the air. Here's to 50 more.

Both Kinds of Music airs Wednesdays from 1:30-3:30 on CKCU 93.1 FM. Do yourself a favour and tune in.

*For some reason, the Jr. Gone Wild tribute show never happened. Hmmm...

**My favourite band that I was ever in, Ninety Pounds of Ugly, played their first show in Dick's garage for his annual neighbourhood block party Liquor Pig Fest. It was amazing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Proof That The French Give Up Too Easily

Coming up with names of numbers, the French have historically said "Fuck it, I give up" way too early. However I do appreciate their ability to over-complicate things, something I'm frequently guilty of. Enjoy the following dramatic reenactments, and pardon my inability to properly conjugate French verbs or properly use French words.

Situation one:

On a besoin de noms pour tous les nombres entre dix et vingt.  Dix, onze, douze, treize, quatorze, quinze, seize, ....ummm.... septze? Non. uh... on a besoin d'un nom pour le nombre avec sept après le dix. Septdix? Non. Dix-sept? Parfait! Continuons! Dix-huit! Dix-neuf! C'est tellement façile!
Situation two:

Pout tous les nombres entre vingt et trente, entre trente et quarante, et cetera, nous allons dire "et" pour indiquer qu'on a ajouté un nombre a l'autre. Par exemple, vingt-et-un. Vingt-et-deu- mon dieu, c'est compliqué. D'accord, on utilisera le "et" avec le un seulement. Le reste, on ne l'a pas besoin.  Vingt-deux, vingt-trois, vingt-quatre... c'est simple. Non, on ne peu pas dire vingt-un. C'est stupide. Espèce de con.

Situation three: 

On a besoin de noms pour tous les groupes de nombres qui représentes chaque séries de dix, entre dix et cent. Vingt, trente, quarante, cinquante, soixante, et puis.... uh... mmmmmm... un nom pour le nombre qui représente sept groupes de dix. Dix-sept! Oui c'est ça! Oh. Un moment... zut, on l'a déja utilisé, çe nom là. Ok, un nombre pour sept groupes de dix.

takes giant swig of wine*
Ce qui est la même chose que quarante plus trente, ou bien
     *more wine*
cinquante plus vingt ou
     *opens another bottle, drinks half*
MON DIEU. SOIXANTE PLUS DIX. SOIXANTE-DIX. PARFAIT! (hic!) Le prochain... soixante-vingt? (hic!) Cinquante-trente? (hic!)Quarante-fois-deux? (hic!) Un bonne idée, nous multi-... mulit-... tulplim... multiplions! Quarante-deux! Non, c'est la même chose que le nombre quarante plus deux
      *on to the third bottle
vingt-fois-quatre? Vingt-quatre? Merde. Non...
     *drinks entire bottle of wine through a funnel*
     *signs off on official rules of the French language, asphyxiates on own vomit*


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wanna Sweat Less, You Disgusting Sack of Shit?

I stopped armpit sweat overnight with one neat trick: I switched from antiperspirant to deodorant. Backwards, I know. Read on...

About 8 months ago, I developed a rash in my armpits. It turned out to be a nasty-ass case of ringworm. It's all gone now, thanks to a fuck ton of cream and maybe tea tree oil soap. Before I knew what it was, I decided to try an experiment. I'd heard bad things about antiperspirant use and, while I'm not normally one to just try something that some uneducated yahoo suggests on the Internet, I decided to give it a shot - maybe antiperspirant was somehow giving me a rash?

The serendipitous results were instant and dramatic. Within two days of switching to deodorant, I had virtually no sweat in my underarms, as evidenced by the lack of gross-ass wet spots on my undershirt. I thought maybe it was residual antiperspirant still hard at work, but after several days and showers, still no sweat. 

Some background: I've been using antiperspirant my entire teen/adult life, with varying levels of success. I've always sweated somewhat while wearing it, but chalked it up to "it works ok I guess but holy shit imagine how much I'd be sweating if I didn't use antiperspirant". In fact it's always baffled me that people would use deodorant when antiperspirant is right there next to it on the shelf. Why would you use an inferior product? That's like ordering a cheeseburger, hold the cheese.

Several years ago, the sweating got worse, to the point where I had to start wearing undershirts to absorb the sweat so that it didn't show.  So I was at a point where my outer shirts were no longer drenched, but my inner shirts looked like hell even after I washed them because oh hey neat side effect of antiperspirant: it turns out that it ruins your shirts. From the yellow armpit stains to the actual glitter that you can see in strong light, it's aluminum-based compounds in your antiperspirant that are to blame. Click here to read more.

This whole thing is counter-intuitive.  Antiperspirant is supposed to stop you from sweating, with chemicals and medicine and shit, whereas deodorants are just there to make you smell nice, right?  I was surprised to learn that deodorants, besides the fragrance aspect, actually have antimicrobial compounds that kill the bacteria that makes your armpits smell in the first place. Oh did I mention that it's not the sweat that stinks, it's the bacteria? The bacteria thrive in a moist environment, so the strategies are to either a) reduce the moisture (antiperspirant) or b) reduce the bacteria in the first place (deodorant).

I'm confused because I'm now performing scenario b) above, and yet experiencing scenario a) for a final result of c) not sweating and also smelling nice. How is this happening? No fucking clue. Maybe it's some sort of sweat feedback loop, where my body overcompensates for the blocked sweating by somehow being able to sweat more? I don't know. It's bizarre but hey it works and I'm not the only one. 

There are other examples of people having the same experience as me, but there are also people who swear by antiperspirant over deodorant.  So you'll have to figure out your special recipe. But if you, like me 8 months ago, seem to sweat buckets despite daily antiperspirant use... this might be right for you. Do some reading, don't just listen to me. If you come across this in your internet research... don't believe the hype about aluminum compounds in antiperspirant causing breast cancer and Alzheimer's, those claims have been thoroughly disproven

Oh and here's fun: enjoy listening to bodybuilders talk about sweaty armpits. Those guys sound about as educated as you'd expect, brah

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Problem With Non-Scientific Reporting of Scientific Research

A lot of you may have seen a news story going around saying "Oh hey it turns out that being out in the cold CAN make you catch cold, your Mom was right all along"

This is a great example of non-scientific reporting/skewing of scientific facts because hey neat headline.

Background: I do infectious disease research with the Canadian government and while I have NO background in rhinovirus infections, I'm able to at least look at the original work and understand the findings a bit better than the average bear.

I just read the original research paper, here are some things to consider:

-The virus in question is well known to grow better at regular nose temperature (33°C) as opposed to internal body temperature (37°C). This is a long established fact and is not news

-The reason cold viruses infect the nose and only rarely the lungs is specifically due to this temperature difference. HOWEVER, the nose is 33°C when you're sitting around hanging out in the office, outside on a normal day, etc. That's the regular temperature of a wet surface that has air constantly blowing over it. So regardless of what time of year it is, your nose will likely be around 33°C. It may be somewhat colder if you spend a prolonged period of time outside, but this paper does not address what happens when a virus is exposed to temperatures colder than 33°C.

-The study was not trying to answer the question "Does cold weather make the common cold more contagious or severe", they were trying to answer the question "What is the cause of improved viral replication at 33°C, which is the normal temperature of the inside of a nose" - the answer was that it's a reduced immune response on the part of the host that contributes to enhanced viral replication. This isn't really newsworthy either. A lot of your body's functions will be impaired at 33°C, including the immune system. This is already well-known anyway, but this paper elucidated the precise mechanism by which the impairment happens. Interesting to scientists but boring to the general public.

-The study was done in mouse trachea cells in a petri dish using a specially mutated virus that's been enhanced to grow better in mouse cells. It took 5-7 hours to see a difference in viral titers between the two temperatures tested. These conditions aren't even close to what happens when humans catch a cold. This is fine, most animal infection models don't match human conditions.

Please don't read this as "I guess it's true after all, you DO catch a cold because of cold weather". Whether or not THAT is true, it's not even CLOSE to what this research paper is stating.

For shits and giggles, here's a link to the research paper (pdf download). Enjoy

Jezebel Dot Com Finally Pisses Me Off Enough To Write About It

Jezebel can be a very frustrating website to read. I browse it daily because for the most part they have decent articles that aren't just duplicates of whatever their mother site Gawker posts. However there are also quite a few overly sensitive posts (usually feminist-bent but not always) that make me facepalm in frustration. But whatever, that's the nature of the blog and I know what I'm getting into.

Today I realized how hypocritical (or at the least, grossly inconsistent in their editorial tone) they are. This article (click through to read) is basically them drooling all over a pretty murderer who killed his own father. It's not the first time they've done this sort of thing but it is the first time they got all giddy about a cold blooded murderer.

Thomas Gilbert Jr., a 30-year-old man who allegedly killed his father over a cut in his allowance, is this year's sexy criminal to beat. Murderous and frugal? Be still my heart. (Very likely to happen because this guy is a murderer, after all.)

Now to be clear, I am NOT offended by this. As you can imagine, NOTHING is off limits for me. However I'm downright fuckin' pissed at Jezebel for being such a loud voice when the victim of domestic violence is female and giving absolutely no shits that the victim is male.

I commented the following on the article page itself. No clue if they'll publish it. They've been known not to approve my comments in the past. I don't think they like being told to calm down.

My mother was brutally murdered by my older brother. I walked in and found him standing over her body, just staring. The knife was on the floor next to his feet. I called the police and he went away with them calmly. That was 12 years ago. My mother didn't deserve to die. She wasn't perfect. She drank. She yelled. But she did the best she could and she loved us.
At night, I close my eyes and see him standing over her, and I lie there for hours not being able to push the thoughts away. Sleep barely comes.
When I see you having fun at the expense of a murder victim like this, it makes my skin crawl, and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide forever. This is not a topic to make fun of.
Ok I made that up, but only to drive home a point:
If some other website wrote the exact same article, word for word except that the crime in question was sexual assault or domestic violence with a female victim and a beautiful male perpetrator, you guys would have been all the fuck over it, yelling and screaming as loud as the medium of Internet will allow (and maybe rightfully so), but somehow murder between father and son is OK to be all "tee hee look at the pretty killer boy"?

Imagine the headline: "Gorgeous Rapist Makes Me Rethink My Definition of the Word No"
You'd lose your shit.
Be consistent, is my point.