What have you been up to?
Some resources with more information:
My take: There are some legitimate concerns about safety (no long-term studies, wasn’t tested thoroughly on young girls), but until we find evidence of some harm this could cause (which I find unlikely), I agree with the immunization plan.
That’s not to say that Merck, which sells Gardasil at a rate that makes it the most expensive vaccine ever, isn’t pushing this hard with a lot of self-interest and stands to make billions. But that’s capitalism.
Now that a giant city-wide Wi-Fi network is being launched, paranoid hypochondriacs are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim that these devices will have unpredictable health effects, for the same reasons that cellphones cause brain cancer.
Are these risks serious? Technically, nobody knows for sure. Studies of cellphone use haven’t found a definitive link between long-term use and any cancer, but cellphones have only been in widespread use for about a decade.
But here’s what we do know:
940 News’s Ken Connors talked this morning about the good ol’ days, when children ate lead-encrusted dirt, played with fire, sniffed spraycan propellant and shot each other with BB guns. And somehow they’re still around to whine about all the safety measures society has put in place for children.
Well, there’s a few things wrong with that argument. First of all, we can’t talk to all the people that died from those things since they’re, well, dead. Just because all the people we find now survived those days doesn’t mean the survival rate was 100%.
Secondly, life expectancy at birth has increased by about a decade over the past 50 years. Part of that is due to new medicine and treatments, but increased safety can’t be discounted as a part of it as well.
Finally, if you want to go back to the good ol’ days with none of society’s current overprotections, you’re welcome to emigrate to a developing country and eat their lead-encrusted dirt.
That said, some points are worth considering. It’s becoming common knowledge that the increase in allergies today is due in part to the sterile lifestyle of some children who aren’t exposed to small amounts of toxins at an early age. And the drop in outdoor play activities (has this really occurred among children?) is making us fatter and lazier.
I think we can find some middle ground between sterility and Darwinism.
All sorts of medical studies ask strange things of their guinea pigs. Taking new pills, sleeping, not sleeping, changing their eating habits.
But I hope the compensatory indemnity was high for the group who volunteered to have their sexual arousal monitored by taking readings of their penises, in a study to show whether circumsized men are less sensitive. The conclusion: they’re not.
Montreal writer Thoth Harris has an interesting question about health care in light of Michael Moore’s Sicko: Why not copy the system used in Taiwan?
As Harris explains it, Taiwan’s health care system is cheap, universal and available. The main reason he cites is that Taiwan’s system is more “egalitarian” (*cough*communist*cough*), and doctors make about the same salary as other workers there.
I don’t know if that’s the whole story, or if it would help here. Though I do think if our legislature was more like theirs it would be pretty fun to watch.
I’m always a bit taken aback when people in serious jobs like police officers and ambulance technicians act in unserious ways. It’s hard to remember sometimes that they’re regular people with regular jobs, and they have to laugh and smile too, even when they deal with unpleasantness.
Police officers nowadays are even expressly putting themselves out there on a social level, so that people can feel more comfortable going to them. They want to be positive role models to troubled teens instead of evil authority figures to be hated.
But there is a limit to this humanity. For example, if you’re treating someone during a medical emergency, it’s best not to laugh about it in front of his niece.
Though they deny laughing during the call, the health board is taking steps to re-educate ambulance technicians on their conduct in these situations.
André Picard has an (opinion?) piece in the Globe about Quebec’s anti-smoking law one year later. Some sentences of note:
Despite the sky-is-falling claims of some bar owners (most of them aligned with Big Tobacco), the world as we know it did not come to a grinding, smokeless halt.
Aligned with Big Tobacco? This is the first I’ve heard of this claim, and it’s not explained at all. Perhaps it’s true, but even if some big bars are getting paid off by the cigarette companies, the concerns of small independent bars weren’t and aren’t frivolous. Fewer people went to bars, and the bars lost some money.
Bar business did not go “poof.” Bingo halls did not go bankrupt. Nicotine addicts did not drop dead outside hospitals as they trudged nine metres from the door desperately searching for a place for a legal puff.
Funny he mentions bingo halls, since we just had a story on bingo halls’ lost profits. And though bar business did not go “poof” (is there anyone who seriously suggested bars would cease to exist?), some bars have indeed closed because of the smoking ban.
In fact, according to a new poll, the smoking ban is enormously popular with the public: 78 per cent of Quebeckers surveyed – including 60 per cent of current smokers – said the legislation has improved the health and quality of life of citizens.
This is misleading. The question did not ask if people approved of the ban, but whether it improved peoples’ health. The two are not the same. It’s conceivable that someone could be against the smoking ban for reasons of freedom or practicality, while still agree it’s good for their health.
I don’t disagree with his conclusions: That anti-smoking legislation improves public health, that it’s popular, and that the losses are more than offset by the gains. But when arguing a controversial topic, it’s important that all your statements be incontrovertible.
On the one-year anniversary of Quebec’s anti-tobacco law, we have this interesting story about local youth sporting groups losing money because of the downturn in bingo revenue. So they’re asking the government to allow smoking in bingo halls, since it’s just old people and all.
The key sentence is this:
Bingo accounts for 100 per cent of the organization’s fundraising, Beaudoin noted.
Isn’t it kind of silly for an organization to put all its fundraising eggs in one basket, especially when that basket has been on fire for a year now?
So because of this ban, fewer people are wasting their money on bingo, less alcohol is being consumed at bars, and less money is being fed into video lottery terminals. Isn’t that a good thing?
These groups will just have to find other sources of revenue. Surely these old people will find other things to waste their money on, with all they’re saving by not going to bingo, not drinking, not using VLTs and, of course, not smoking.
There are a lot of interesting pornographic websites out there (don’t ask me how I know this): porn involving pregnant women, porn involving books, glasses and all sorts of other inanimate objects you wouldn’t consider sexual.
Now a Quebec entrepreneur is filling the gap of smoking porn. It’s not actually porn, since the girls aren’t naked or anything. They’re just smoking suggestively. And you have to pay to see it.
Dominic Arpin asks the obvious question: What are they smoking? And how smoke-deprived do you have to be to pay to watch other people smoke?
Though the media is going all crazy over the federal budget being announced now (especially with the Liberals and NDP announcing they won’t support it), it looks like another snoozer with no tax bracket alterations, no GST cut, and only a bunch of minor fiddlings with the tax code and spending initiatives.
One change that caught my eye was the introduction of a Registered Disability Savings Plan (in the works for over a year, it seems), which helps parents save for their disabled children. The name is somewhat of a misnomer. It’s more like turning disabled children into mini-charities, and making contributions to their well-being tax-deductible.
The thing that bothers me most about it is that the government isn’t actually contributing anything to these kids. Shouldn’t services for people with disabilities be covered by the government, either through health care or other services?
And doesn’t saving for a disability just sound weird?
Vanou points me to this video from Quebec Solidaire’s candidate in Terrebonne Jean Baril, who is frustrated that our public institutions are serving crappy cafeteria food and letting people go to McDonald’s instead of buying locally-produced (and he argues healthier) food. Le Devoir has a short story.
Metroblogging Montreal points out something I hadn’t heard yet from the overblown lead pipes saga: the advisory letters sent to people’s homes were in French only.