Arts, Healthcare and Politics

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Rob Ford and Addiction: the Video

Here is the Vidoyen video I’ve made about Ford and his addiction. It is three minutes long. Click here.

Rob Ford and the Media  

I recently watched Jesus of Montreal again after not seeing it for many years. The 1989 film is a postmodern version of the passion play and its literate narrative — its subtle humour and play within a play — allows viewers to consider Jesus’ life in both extraordinary and ordinary circumstances. Read more…

Addicted to Success

In the summer of 2011, a Dutch social psychologist was in the process of losing his job. His name was Diederik Stapel and he’d committed an unimaginable fraud: over ten years he’d falsified data for over 55 experiments, some of which formed the basis of doctoral theses he’d supervised. Read more…

Why we all need Edward Snowden

That is why I’ll reluctantly, very reluctantly, trade off the government using data mining to look for suspicious patterns in phone numbers called and e-mail addresses — and then have to go to a judge to get a warrant to actually look at the content under guidelines set by Congress — to prevent a day where, out of fear, we give government a license to look at anyone, any e-mail, any phone call, anywhere, anytime. Read more…

Blood, MOOCs and Money 

In the late 90s, a titillating story started making the rounds in Toronto. Its focus was a series of poison-pen letters authored by a pharmacology professor at  U of T. They had been sent to research physicians at the Hospital for Sick Children and in them he skewered one of their colleagues, a hematologist under his administration. The professor’s perfidy had been discovered through DNA analysis: to stop suspecting one another, recipients of the letters had contributed to a pool and paid for the test themselves. Read More…

From a Whistleblowing Doctor

This is an article written by British whistleblowing physician Dr. Rita Pal, pictured above. Dr. Pal is an independent medical journalist based in the UK. Between 1999-2007, she worked as a psychiatrist in the National Health Service UK.

Her reflections on a death culture within the NHS — a system much like Canada’s — confirms what many of us have already suspected: the elderly, disabled and disenfranchised are being provided with a very different kind of care. Read more…

Why is the CBC Promoting Euthanasia?

Quebec’s ‘Medical Aid in Dying’ bill has passed its second reading in the province’s national assembly. It will likely pass a third, leaving Quebec at odds with federal laws that prohibit assisted suicide. The CBC has been running 20-minute segments about assisted suicide on Monday night episodes of The National. Producer Duncan McCue said that instead of debating the issue, his series would tell the “stories of terminally ill Canadians who are facing tough questions.” Read more…

Daphne Koller and the Problem with Coursera

The corporate world has other tentacles in education, and the portal that’s granting them the most access these days is technology. In Benda’s terms, the current “realism” being foisted on academics is the idea that online distance-learning, in the form of massive online open courses (MOOCs), must be implemented to save cash-strapped institutions. The idea is being flogged by corporations looking to expand their markets and has found support among co-opted academics willing to help them. These are academics, like Lynch, who have made Faustian bargains in return for the glory of heading institutions operating in the black. Read more… 

My Secret Friend 

I’m publishing a very personal story today. I’ve had a disagreement with someone I correspond with on the internet, and when I suggested we deal with it in person, problems arose. I know that for individuals with limited mobility, the internet is very useful for building communities. However, for some people, it’s a portal into a fantasy world that displaces reality. In the real world, for example, projecting beliefs on to people we barely know seems irrational. But in the online world it seems far more natural and, in an odd way, easier to justify. When Marshall McLuhen said that the medium is the message, he was right. What would McLuhen make of our world now? And what would he make of the internet, that place where fantasies and misunderstandings often collide? Read more… 

Rob Ford vs. Kevin Donovan: Who Snitched?

Kevin Donovan, an investigative journalist with the Toronto Star, has angered many of us who monitor healthcare in Canada. At issue is the privacy of Rob Ford’s stay at GreeneStone, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility based in the Muskokas. Here’s how Donovan’s article begins. Read more… 

Rob Ford: From a Whistleblowing Journalist

I was sent the following text from an anonymous and unanswerable email address. I cannot verify its truth, but the message is compelling enough that I am publishing it. Under these circumstances we must consider this entertainment and not truth. Enjoy.

The last time I took a drink was seven years ago. That was the morning I decided to go to detox. I bought two large cans of beer and downed them before my ride arrived. I was there for six days before being transferred to a 28 day rehab facility. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have not relapsed since.

As part of my ongoing recovery, I now visit that rehab once a month, speaking to residents about my experience with AA. The visits are a scheduled part of the facility’s program and I am happy to share what we in AA call our experience, strength and hope. With a family history of alcoholism, I’ve experienced recovery from all angles. Read more…

 

Euthanasia: Anorexia of the Soul

At the end of their article, ‘Female Body Shape in Print Advertisements,” Michael Fay and Christopher Price conclude:

By demonstrating the extreme thinness of contemporary advertising models, and by presenting these findings within a framework of the increasing incidence of anorexia, we hope that socially responsible advertising decision makers will ask themselves: “Do the female models have to be so thin?”

Dove is one brand that has responded to this challenge. Although their campaign for “real beauty” is not without its critics, the marketing choices made by its parent company, Unilever, reflect a widespread belief that body images, as they appear in our media, are a significant source of weight dissatisfaction for women. The most extreme expression of that can be found in the increase of anorexia diagnoses, an increase that cannot be explained by an improvement in our ability to detect the disease. Read more…

 

The Spartan Way

I recently found myself in a game of mental ping-pong. I was flipping back and forth between articles and, without planning it, chanced upon two very different perspectives of life. One article, written by Canadian Barbara Farlow, explained how she and her husband had discovered a hidden agenda in the hosptial death of her infant daughter, Annie. The other was about ancient Sparta, that Greek city-state on the Peloponnesian peninsula. Read More… 

 

Are the Dutch Rethinking Euthanasia? 

The following text is taken from Paul Russell’s blog. It’s in reference to the Lord Falconer Bill in the U.K., in support of assisted suicide. The bill is modeled on the Oregon law that allows physicians to prescribe a “drug overdose” patients can take home and use to end their lives without medical supervision.
     One fact missing is the corollary rise in Oregon’s non-medical suicides, a rise that started in 1997 with the passing of the law, and is now at 35% above the American national average. Suicide contagion, a phenomenon supported by the World Health Organization and expressed through their media guidelines, is thought to be the cause.
     It’s a phenomenon that we see in large cities everyday; it’s why subway and metro station suicides are not reported in the media. Read more…
 

Kill me Now: Assisted Suicide and the Royal Society of Canada

Last December I came across a haunting story. Jaime Joyce, a New York writer, had a personal experience with the suicide group Final Exit. The focus of her story is Jana Van Voorhis, a troubled 58 year-old woman from Arizona. Her death was facilitated by volunteers working for the organization. Read more…

 

Our Useless Mainstream Media

I’m not sure what Michael Cooke, the editor of the Toronto Star, was thinking by allowing Daniel Dale and Robyn Doolittle to shape the Star’s editorial position on Ford, but it was a mistake. I can’t be the only one having trouble taking them seriously. Read more… 

Speaking ill of the Dead 

This article refers to events in Canada. Susan Griffiths of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the latest person to publicize her desire for assisted suicide, and to have her efforts celebrated by the press. Read more… 

Five Days at Memorial

Anyone concerned about euthanasia — for or against — should  read Sheri Fink’s account of the choices made by doctors and nurses at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina. Read more… 

 

Alice Munro’s Magic 

Alice Munro’s “Vandals” appeared in her 1994 collection, Open Secrets. It’s a complex story of incipient alcoholism, pedophilia and survival. Despite its dark themes, the story isn’t entirely bleak and that’s because there’s an alluring character, Liza, at the centre of it. Read more…

A Death is Announced: The Death of the Classroom 

A revolution is coming to U.S. higher education, one that will sweep away an archaic business model, erase the value of many venerable brands, and enhance the brands of new entrants and nimble incumbents. It will be a tough time for many U.S. colleges and universities but great news for the rest of the world. Read more…  

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