Health

  • Whatever is Left of Him

    Yet there, yesterday, was the character named Rope who, when I last imagined him, was kneeling face down on a downtown sidewalk with his eyes full of broken glass, slowly bleeding to death to end a short story called "Orange and Peel." Yesterday he sat, flesh and blood, on the steps of a flower shop between Hingston and Beaconsfield in Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood.

    It is not a little unnerving to meet a fictional character you've created.

    Yet there, yesterday, was the character named Rope who, when I last imagined him, was kneeling face down on a downtown sidewalk with his eyes full of broken glass, slowly blee...

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  • Under 30

    The evening before the killer frost and knowing it was imminent I spent some quiet moments with my garden. The vines in particular seemed anxious. I reassured the garden that everything would be OK: it would, come the spring, live again. More recycling took place on the weekend. As recently as two years ago Thanksgiving dinner was restricted to my mother, my wife, and I. Everyone else was gone. But this year, there we were—the three incumbents—with my son and his wife, my daughter and a young man who wished to make our acquaintance, another young man whom we had housed during his transition to Calgary and his girlfriend—nine of us, in all. But it wasn't the numbers I noticed so much as it was the composition of the table—two-thirds of which was under 30 and in the majority, I think, for the first time.

    The temperature a week ago Monday was 26C. The next day, it was 6C and the day after, the overnight temperature plunged to -5C.

    The evening before the killer frost and knowing it was imminent I spent some quiet moments with my garden. The vines in pa...

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  • Tourists in Our Own Lives

    Whilst transitioning from student to half-fledged adult in the world, I spent summers working at Rideau Hall. Often, while strolling those stately, manicured grounds, I would reflect on how thankful and fortunate I was to be surrounded by beauty in so many forms. My sense of gratitude did not stop with the verdant foliage, however; I was shaped, sometimes memorably, by the people I met—particularly by tourists.

    The first autumn days are upon us, and I cannot help but feel premature nostalgia for summertime. While I happily relinquish the toil of those last four years in university to the shelf of memories, I still feel the turnover into September like a loss of fr...

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  • How Many Days Did You Actually Live?

    Yet there we were, immobilized on an off-ramp of Highway 20, trying to make our way down a detour while Lucille (Lou) Pacaud awaited us downtown. Lou turned 105 in August. Even the digital clock in the dashboard seemed to be ticking too loudly.

    I make it a particular point of pride to avoid being late meeting anyone 100 years of age and older. So there was reason for amplified anxiety as my wife and I sat in one of Montreal's now-routine 45-minute traffic jams on Sunday afternoon.

    Yet there...

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  • Becoming Socially Incompetent

    Vancouver is the most connected city in Canada in terms of social media, but is also among the most lonely cities in the country   People aged 25-34 are the most lonely demographic   High-rise apartments are the most lonely locations   Most people don't know their neighbours well enough to say hello or to offer even minor assistance to them   People are about as connected to their neighbours after three years as they were when they first moved in (in most cases, very little)   Most people don't get involved in civic life because they don't think they have anything to offer  

    [caption id="attachment_1382" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Lonely in the City"]...

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  • Opting for Moral Relativity

    Should we care?

    In its report released last month, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law called for the decriminalization of personal narcotics use, "voluntary sex work", and non-disclosure of HIV-positive status to sexual partners.

    Should we care?...

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  • This Was Never Going to Happen

    I am not sure why this is the case, but I expect it is because, being human, we often don't ask questions when we suspect the answer will be uncomfortable. Western marriage has undergone a good deal of change in the past 40 years. Once based on three fundamentals (heterosexual; monogamous; permanent), it is now a union between any two people and can be dissolved at any time without cause. I suppose the monogamy application still exists, but within secular unions it seems this is as much a shared expectation between participants (or not) as an institutional or societal imposition (women, particularly, seem hung up on it). In most parts of the continent—Quebec is way out in front—fewer and fewer people bother with the union and prefer simply to co-habitat without formal commitment. More noticeable, at least to me, is the more frequent tendency for women who become pregnant to postpone a wedding until some future point when they think they will regain their figures (I know, much thigh-slapping here among those who know) and look like they always imagined they would on their "special day." What's so special about a day confirming a years-old relationship that has already produced offspring and holds little mystery about the future does, I admit, elude me. I concede, however, that time may be passing me by and that for many today, a wedding day is not about the marriage, it's about the dress. As Dylan put it, my old road is rapidly agin' and I should get out of the new one if I can't lend a hand for the times they are a changin'.

    As much as who should and should not be married and to how many people at any one time continues to be a debate in North American society, no one seems anymore to care about whether or not marriage is a useful institution and if it is, is it healthy?

    ...

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  • The Highway of Death

    Most of you will never have heard of Highway 63, which runs north-south for about 400 kilometers from Fort McMurray and the Athabaska Oil Sands to just northwest of Lac La Biche, Alberta. And, with the exception of the occasional passing lane, it is just two lanes wide.

    ...

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  • The Relatively Good Life

    Travis D. Smith ponders the introspective essays of Ray Robertson's Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live, written following the novelist's period of suicidal depression.

    Composed as a therapeutic response to a debilitating bout of depression triggered by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live is a captivating collection of introspective exercises in Nietzschean life-affirmation by Canadian no...

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  • Full Circle In Utero

    Many have written the motion off as just another roundabout way to introduce anti-abortion laws, but it deserves more credit. Our chattering classes and our nation's leaders would do well to give careful thought to the precise legal questions to which Woodworth has drawn our attention. . . . . . . .

    "You're obviously talking about limiting, if not outlawing, abortion, are you not?" was the first question Don Martin, host of the CTV's PowerPlay, asked M.P. Stephen Woodworth on the show in January, shortly after Woodworth had written about the nee...

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  • Salvation from Medical Suicide

    The judgment was, of course, morally horrifying, intellectually fraudulent, and politically destructive of Canadians as a self-governing people. Nor should we feel warmed by the court's fantastic assurances that supposed safeguards will prevent us sliding down the so-called "slippery slope" of ever expanding forms of medical killing.

    No surprise I was in an outraged funk this past weekend over the B.C. Supreme Court's decision striking down federal laws against medically delivered suicide.

    The judgment was, of course, morally horrifying, intellectually fraudulent, and politically...

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  • A Band of Love

    Music is also a part of death and dying, and there it is very noticeable, because it says a great deal about who we are as individuals and as a culture.

    We are surrounded by music; immersed; soaked in it. It's in our heads when we jog, when we drive, when we shop, when we go up elevators, when we watch sports, when we watch films, when we work. Music is a part of life, and yet we only notice it sometimes....

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  • Losing Canada's humanity

    They will deliberately inject the dying, the depressed, and the distraught with lethal drugs as a form of legislatively approved medical treatment. The malfeasance of the elected officials responsible is breathtaking. More shocking still is the response of the public, which can be accurately described as no response at all.

    Within 14 months, Quebec doctors will almost certainly begin intentionally killing their patients across the province.

    They will deliberately inject the dying, the depressed, and the distraught with lethal drugs as a form of legislatively approved me...

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  • Sabbath Rest

    Convivium contributor Kathryn De Ruijter reflects on the age-old tradition of Shabbat as a restorative rhythm. 

    Each Saturday, my husband and I do the work of keeping up a house and a home. While we believe that keeping Sabbath is important, every week there seems to be a small list of things that we push over to Sunday, things that didn't get finished on Saturday....

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  • A Child by Any Other Name

    In Calgary's Foothills Hospital, for instance, the "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program" is described on the website as one which provides information, guidance and "grief support for parents and other family members who have experienced a pregnancy loss (miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, still birth, neonatal death or termination) through individual, couple and group counseling."

    How early does a fetus become a baby become a human being? Our politicians may be loath to debate it, but it seems even our hospitals need more work to get their nomenclature straight. Contradictory practices within single hospitals cannot be serving anyone...

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  • Personal, not private

    What was overlooked in much of the coverage, however, was what the policy demonstrated about our understanding (or lack thereof) of the connection between religion and the public good—and how that connection is often expressed through institutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    A few weeks back President Obama announced, and a few days later backtracked on, a policy requiring employers to pay for sterilization services and contraception (including the 'morning-after' pill considered by many pro-lifers to be a form of abortion) as ...

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  • The Discipline of Leisure

    The root menu of the DVD is a satellite picture of Earth. Nearly every week my daughter sees this before I press the play button on the remote and says, "Papa, I want to go there. I want to go to planet Earth." With a chuckle, a smidgen of superiority, but much appreciation for the wonder and naïvety, I assure her that we are there—we are on planet Earth.

    My daughter and I have a custom on Saturdays: when my wife goes to ballet class, we watch Planet Earth. We find it mesmerizing. True, my three-year old doesn't express her mesmerization for a...

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  • Pressing against intellectual corruption

    We imagine corruption as something requiring fat, greasy-skinned men wearing expensive suits and long dark coats, and exchanging paper packets stuffed with hundred-dollar bills. The story in question concerns a purported "study" from the Royal Society of Canada that calls for the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

    Perhaps because they are usually so trivial, we do not normally think of newspaper stories as being corrupt. Foolish, yes. Illiterate, frequently. Wrong, invariably. But corrupt?

    We imagine corruption as something requiring fat, greasy-skinned men we...

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  • More than One in 7 Billion

    The proud parents, both 34, said their hopes for Caiden's future were simply that he be healthy, active and happy. "And," added Dave, "maybe play for the Sens at some point." Even Ottawa's mayor was enthusiastic. "We are excited to welcome Caiden, the seven billionth resident, to Ottawa," said Jim Watson.

    Yesterday the Ottawa Citizen claimed the seven billionth living person happens to be one Caiden Lewis McCrindle, born October 31st in Ottawa....

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  • I'll Take the Candy—Hold the Confusion

    Kids who would otherwise be brushing their teeth and preparing for bed will instead be released to ask complete strangers to give them confections. Bad for the teeth, good for those with shares in Cadbury, right? It might even be good for the community. Instead of packs of youth breaking windows and looting stores, there are peaceful packs of kids and parents meeting neighbours who, for most of the year, go about their lives with a minimum amount of neighbourly interaction. I have a hunch that for most of us, Hallowe'en is benign at worst and a fun community-building exercise at best. The Globe and Mail reports that a number of Christians have taken to handing out Bibles (well, half-Bibles, actually) on Hallowe'en. The Jesusween movement was begun because "the world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day." The Globe and Mail suggests that "proselytizing is becoming a greater priority for many Christians for another reason: Their numbers are steadily declining on both sides of the border."

    In four days streets across the continent will be covered with little people, running around in the great communal and sugar-fuelled pantomime that we call Hallowe'en.

    Kids who would otherwise be brushing their teeth and preparing for bed will instea...

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  • Digital Downtime

    I've read dozens of articles that talk about how, for instance, Google might be making us stupid or being ultra-connected to the computer is probably a bad thing. Okay, I think—I don't really look at my laptop on weekends and make liberal use of Freedom to make sure I don't multitask too much. In college, someone told me that (all else being equal) it's actually better to study until 2am, then sleep for a few hours, than to get a good night's sleep until 5am and get up to study. The brain spends your sleeping hours turning knowledge into memory, so you'll actually do better cramming the night before and getting a little sleep.

    Reposted from the Cardus After Hours blog (RIP).

    I've read dozens of articles that talk about how, for instance, Google might be making us st...

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  • Food Labelling Fights

    The pyramid-plate switchup was the least of the battles, apparently, as there's an effort underway to improve nutrition facts on the labels, as well as a knock-down drag-out fight on the horizon over imposing nutritional standards on which foods can be marketed to children (much, I imagine, like the rules about marketing tobacco products):

    In last week's Economist, I read a piece about the measures in the U.S. to improve nutrition information on food packaging and to overhaul the USDA "food icon"—which has now been change...

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  • Language crimes and the horrible "youth movement"

    Forward progress isn't simply a sports cliché. It's more than mere redundancy. It's gibberish. Each word actually means something distinct. To make your living using words, then to treat them as if they are as empty as the foam on a stadium beer cup, is a form of fraud. It's also an intellectual assault on listeners.

    We all have our most maddening moronic media catch phrases. Mine used to be football announcers talking about a running back's "forward progress" being stopped at, say, the thirty-five yard line.

    Forward progress isn't simply a sports cliché. It's mo...

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  • Driving to the gym

    Does it help to say we live 14 kilometres from the club we use? Probably not since we could, if we chose, take the bike path half a block away and follow it the whole distance. Or find a closer gym.

    My wife has a gift for making me understand my own ridiculousness. She did it again this morning when I fussed because I couldn't find parking close enough to our gym. Yes, parking. Yes, we drive to exercise. Ridiculous, if not properly oxymoronic, in itsel...

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