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Wexit: The Moose In The Room

Posted October 24, 2019 by Balbulican

Just in time for Halloween, the recent Liberal expulsion from the West has injected new life into Western Separatism, one of Canada’s favourite political zombies, now lurching back to life under the catchy Brexit-inspired trademark “Wexit”. Because who can’t look…

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Elementary Teachers Union (@ETFOeducators) Misleads Its 83,000 Members When Explaining Cutting Benefits’ Actual Dietitian Coverage In Place Of Dial-A-Dietitian

Posted October 24, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

Thanks to a person who wishes to remain nameless, I was recently alerted to the fact that the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, a union representing 83,000 elementary teachers and education workers, have removed coverage for Registered Dietitians (RDs) from their benefits plan.

By way of background, here in Ontario, RDs are one of a limited number of regulated health professionals, and of course are the only profession dedicated exclusively to nutrition. Also here in Ontario (and pretty much everywhere), diet and weight related diseases have long since reached epidemic proportions.

As to why ETFO has delisted RDs, the province’s only regulated nutrition professionals, according to a document distributed to their members it’s because,

these free services are now available through Ontario Telehealth

But are they?

Telehealth RDs answer one-off nutrition questions by way of phone calls. They are most assuredly not there to provide individual counselling or comprehensive ongoing care.

Plainly, cutting RDs from ETFO benefits is shortsighted, and suggesting that actual RD services are the equivalent of a Dial-A-Dietitian service designed to answer simple questions is an outright lie.

If you’re an ETFO member I’d encourage you to share this post, and to contact the ETFO ELHT Board of Trustees to ask that RD coverage be reinstated.

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‘The Empowerment Alliance’ and Other New Dark Money Groups Sound a Lot Like the Natural Gas Industry

Posted October 22, 2019 by Anonymous
The Empowerment Alliance logo

Read time: 9 mins

Amid the crescendo of calls for climate action and rising rage directed at the fossil fuel industry, petroleum producers and their allies are engaging in an aggressive promotional push focused on natural gas. The same month that the American Petroleum Institute (API) started running ads emphasizing gas’s role in reducing carbon emissions, a new dark money group has launched under the patriotic guise of promoting “America’s energy independence” by promoting, you guessed it, natural gas. 

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When you come to the end of a perfect day

Posted October 22, 2019 by Anonymous

I didn’t hear it myself, but I guess Singh was taking too long with his concession speech and Scheer started his concession speech before Singh finished,  then Trudeau started HIS victory speech before Scheer finished. 

And the Canadian media were just thrilled.

Nobody ever seems to turn down an opportunity to inflate a controversy out of nothing, issue twitter tut-tuts, clutch pearls, come down with the vapours, and chatter about how PMJT was behaving so RUDELY!
I rather liked Jason Cherniak’s reaction:

In hindsight, it’s too bad Trudeau didn’t just tell everybody last night that Scheer was refusing to try to work together. Maybe it wasn’t the sort of thing you rush into at 2am after 40 days of election 2/2 #elxn43

— Cherniak (@Cherniak) October 22, 2019

He explained how he told Trudeau last night something to the effect that he had lost the confidence of Canadians

— Cherniak (@Cherniak) October 22, 2019

Is it bad that I’m kinda loving Petty Trudeau and his speech move? Like, Scheer cuts off Singh and Trudeau says “hold my beer” 🤣🤣🤣

Love it.


— Lexa Doig (@LexaDoig) October 22, 2019

One Canadian who does NOT sound pissed off is Ontario Premier Doug Ford :

Ford issued a statement Tuesday morning congratulating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his victory and applauding all federal leaders for a “hard fought campaign.”
He says he looks forward to working with Ottawa to address “shared priorities,” including infrastructure, internal trade and mental health

And the Toronto Sun adds:

Ford’s statement stands out for its conciliatory tone

Yeah, I’ll say.  The Conservative Brain Trust behind Scheer convinced Ford to spend the entire campaign at an Undisclosed Location, but it didn’t help Scheer do better in Ontario, so I would think that this morning Ford is furious at Scheer.

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Russia moves in to the Middle East

Posted October 22, 2019 by Anonymous

So Russia is moving in to the Middle East, now that Trump has abandoned the field:

The negotiations ended in a victory for Mr. Putin: Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria, in a move that cements the rapid expansion of Russian influence in Syria at the expense of the United States and its Kurdish former allies. Under terms of the agreement, Syrian Kurdish forces have six days to retreat more than 20 miles from the border, abandoning land that they had controlled uncontested until earlier this month — when their protectors, the American military, suddenly began to withdraw from the region.

This is, I think, the first time this has ever happened to the United States. But with Trump, likely not the last time.  What an embarrassment.

Moscow is now the powerbroker in the Middle East as Trump has rendered the US irrelevant. Putin has temporarily ceded Erdogan a buffer zone from which he can displace Kurdish inhabitants (aka ethnic cleansing) in return for recognition of Moscow’s diktat.

— Michael Carpenter (@mikercarpenter) October 22, 2019

There is gonna be SO much Hillary stuff on Fox News tonight

— Ben Wexler (@mrbenwexler) October 22, 2019

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Can Geo Talks: Fall 2019

Posted October 22, 2019 by Anonymous

Can Geo Talks presents Michelle Valberg
Ottawa, Nov. 7 

Michelle Valberg Ottawa event

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The William Perry Pendley Rehabilitation Tour: Climate Change, Wild Horses, and Ethics Recusals

Posted October 21, 2019 by guest
William Perry Pendley at SEJ 2019

Read time: 5 mins

By John R. Platt, The Revelator. Originally posted on The Revelator.

William Perry Pendley wants you think that what he thinks doesn’t matter.

Pendley spent four decades advocating for the corporate exploitation of U.S. public lands. He now serves the Trump administration as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for much of those same public lands.

Over the years Pendley, a self-styled “Sagebrush Rebel,” has pushed for the wholesale divestment of public lands from federal control, denied the existence of climate change and the hole in the ozone layer, denigrated the press, and called illegal immigrants a “cancer,” among other radical, extremist positions.

But now he’d have you believe that those actions and opinions no longer matter.

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New Report Explains How to Debunk ExxonMobil’s Denial, as Legal Cases Against It Proceed

Posted October 21, 2019 by guest
ExxonKnew protesters

Read time: 4 mins

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.

On last Thursday evening, Bloomberg reported that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is proceeding with the state’s case against ExxonMobil for “engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in its efforts to cast doubt on climate science.

ExxonMobil brass may be particularly annoyed by the notification that Massachusetts is moving forward. This Wednesday, the oil giant will appear in a New York court for that state’s case against it. As E&E explains in an (unpaywalled) story, the New York case revolves around the company’s use of two sets of “proxy costs” to gauge how much of a hit the company would take from climate policies.

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The Journal of Nutrition Describes Gut Bacteria Prevotella Abundance As “The Key To Successful Weight Loss” Following Short Study Where Subjects With No Prevotella Lost Comparable Amount Of Weight

Posted October 21, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

Hype around preliminary findings, animal studies, cell culture studies, underwhelming studies, and more is the clickbait that sells papers and likes. Some of the time hype comes from journalists, sometimes from press-releases, and sometimes from the authors themselves. Today’s blog post sees the hype coming from an invited oped published by the American Society of Nutrition’s flagship The Journal of Nutrition.

The oped, entitled, The Key to Successful Weight Loss on a High-Fiber Diet May Be in Gut Microbiome Prevotella Abundance, was written in reference to the results of the study entitled, Prevotella Abundance Predicts Weight Loss Success in Healthy, Overweight Adults Consuming a Whole-Grain Diet Ad Libitum: A Post Hoc Analysis of a 6-Wk Randomized Controlled Trial.

The op-ed described the “key” to successful weight loss on a high-fiber diet as gut microbiomes containing an abundance of the bacterium Prevotella, and was written to amplify the – hold onto your hats now – findings from a very small, very short study that was not originally designed to test the relationship between Prevotella abundance and weight, that found a whole 3.5lb greater weight loss among the 15 study subjects with the highest Prevotella abundance vs. the lowest (but still present amount) when consuming a whole grain (WG) diet.

But wait, there’s more!

Though it’s confusing because of the way they reported weight loss, the same study found that particpants with microbiomes containing no Prevotella also lost weight on a WG diet. In fact, looking at the study’s diagram detailing the losses between groups it sure appears as if subjects whose microbiomes contained no Prevotella (0-P) lost statistically comparable amounts of weight as those whose microbiomes contained the most Prevotella (High-P).

So to summarize, people with microbiomes containing what The Journal of Nutrition called, “the key to weight loss on a high-fibre diet” lost pretty much the same amount of weight as people with none of it on a high-fibre diet. Oh, and that key that worked as well as not having a key at all? If we make the enormous leap that it was causal, it led to a 3.48lb weight loss. Whoop whoop?

Bottom line I guess is that if you’re going to describe something at the “key” to successful weight loss on a whole grain diet in the title of an op-ed in a prominent journal, and where we’re talking about a 4lb weight loss, but having none of that key leads you to lose pretty much the same amount of weight, not only is that not much of a key, but it’s incredibly irresponsible as it blatantly contributes to the ongoing erosion of societal scientific literacy and promotes the harmful and erroneous belief that magic exists when it comes to weight loss.

[Also, unless I’m misreading the very small amount of actual data provided, it would seem that the authors of the study also reported the difference between high Prevotella and low Prevotella groups wrong whereby the high group was found to have lost 4lbs (-1.8kg), and the low 0.5lbs (-0.22kg), but rather than report a -1.58kg (3.48lb) difference between the two, they added their losses and reported a -2.02kg (4.45lb) difference.]

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Dueling crowd sizes

Posted October 20, 2019 by Anonymous

So CBC’s Katie Simpson was impressed that Andrew Scheer’s speech in Richmond Hill Ontario last night attracted 1,500 people, she calls it his biggest crowd so far:

Biggest crowd I’ve seen so far for Andrew Scheer. We’ll do a rough count and ask party for numbers as we do. The rally is being held in a Richmond Hill, Ontario, banquet hall.

— Katie Simpson (@CBCKatie) October 20, 2019

Well, Justin Trudeau attracted 1,500 people yesterday too. In Calgary.  At midnight:

Saturday night in #Calgary, nearly midnight — at least 1,500 supporters waited HOURS in the cold to see @JustinTrudeau & @NirmalaNaidoo. Amazing.#ChooseForward #elxn43 #cdnpoli #abpoli

— Cameron Ahmad (@CameronAhmad) October 20, 2019

When the story of this campaign is written, it must include the number of times federal leaders were thrown off their message by the hurly-burly of news and events — for Trudeau, it was the blackface scandal three weeks ago; now for Scheer it is the Kinsella secret smear scandal, which couldn’t have some at a worse time for him.
But the measure of leadership is not whether such scandals happen, but how a real leader handles it. 
For Trudeau, he immediately admitted he had done it, apologized profusely, and also volunteered that there had been other times he had worn blackface when in high school. This all immediately tooe the wind out of any follow-up stories, and ended any “gotcha” questions from reporters. Everybody moved on.
While over several days now Scheer has been robotically repeating stupid war room talking points about how some mythical CPC “rules” prevent him from talking about “vendors” at all — thereby creating the #ScheerVendors hashtag trending this morning, extending the scandal right into election day itself, making it the only thing reporters are asking him about (except for a few questions about why in the world he would tell such a stupid lie about the Liberals raising the GST). And all at a time in the campaign when there is no time for moving on at all.
I hope Canadians are making note of who is handling problems well, and who is not.
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Great tweet of the day

Posted October 20, 2019 by Anonymous

Andrew Scheer seemed doomed to finish his first (and perhaps last) election campaign as CPC leader without having accomplished anything of significance. Then, he managed the impossible: He ceded the moral high ground to Maxime Bernier. #KinsellaGate #MaximeBernier #cdnpoli

— Sir Francis (@Dred_Tory) October 19, 2019

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Wow – tonight Ekos predicts a Liberal govt

Posted October 20, 2019 by Anonymous

NOTE: I just edited this post title to clarify that EKOS is predicting a Liberal government, but isn’t yet predicting a Liberal MAJORITY – depends on how some of the close seats go.

Here’s the latest tweet from EKOS:

Flash! For all those still up I have just received my latest numbers from today . Adding to the most recent I can say with confidence that the LPC are going to win Elxn 43. The only question is whether it will be a majority or minority and it is looking like the former

— Frank Graves (@VoiceOfFranky) October 20, 2019

I was hoping for this kind of news today, because attendance at Trudeau rallies is getting large and enthusiastic:

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 19, 2019

Whoa! This is a massive group of people to see @JustinTrudeau in #Winnipeg. All are here to #ChooseForward. #LPC #cdnpoli #elxn43

— KSP_Libs (@KSP_Libs) October 19, 2019

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 19, 2019

Trudeau uses the “sing louder and paddle harder” line to huge cheers from the crowd. Things seem to be coming together for the Liberals, just as they are falling apart for the Conservatives. “Good event, really good event,’ says one man leaving the Milton rally.

— John Ivison (@IvisonJ) October 19, 2019

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Worst tweet of the day

Posted October 19, 2019 by Anonymous

Two days to go, and we may well have a winner for worst media tweet of this election.  

Here it is, from CBC’s Rosemary Barton, along with my somewhat snarky reply:

Rosemary I did not realize there were 1000s of activist Canadians who were just waiting for election of a Liberal govt with a compliant leader so they could pass private members bills to raise the GST. Quel suprise!

— Cathie from Canada 🇨🇦 (@CathieCanada) October 19, 2019

For one thing, these issues are not comparable in the least. Accusing the Liberals of wanting to raise the GST is a completely baseless and out-of-the-blue lie of desperation from Andrew Scheer.  Accusing Conservatives of wanting to criminalize abortion recognizes that this is exactly what thousands of Canadian “right to life” activists want Scheer to do.  While Harper didn’t knuckle under to these elements, I believe it is now a serious risk considering Scheer’s base of support and the types of CPC candidates he has recruited.  He doesn’t even need to pass an abortion law at the federal level as such; rather, he could just pass a private members bill permitting provincial legislatures to decide whether to allow abortions and under what conditions, thus creating a patchwork mess across the country.
It surprises me that Barton doesn’t appear to understand the difference at all.  But the hundreds of comments about this tweet show that Canadians understand it very well.
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Edmonton ❤ Greta

Posted October 18, 2019 by Anonymous

Here are some photos of  Climate Change/Greta Thunberg rally in Edmonton.  

Climate Justice Edmonton says there were 10,000 at the rally.
I guess United We Roll was there too with counter-protestors in trucks, but they aren’t visible in these photos:

I don’t think the counter-protestors are playing a winning hand.  Here’s a tweet that sort of sums it up:

— Handmaids For Kenney (@HandmaidAlberta) October 18, 2019

And apparently Kenny’s office blocked his windows so he didn’t have to see what is going on.  Sorta prophetic, don’t you think — climate change deniers don’t want to see what is going on in the world.  There are none so blind as those who will not see.

⁦.⁦@jkenney⁩ Premier’s Office blocks all the windows while tens of thousands of youth in front of the Legislature want to send him a message. Closed minds. Closed windows. #ableg #cdnpoli #EarPlugs

— Thomas A. Lukaszuk (@LukaszukAB) October 18, 2019

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Meghan Markle and the racist British press

Posted October 18, 2019 by Anonymous

I knew the British tabloids were racist, but I had no idea how cruel they had been throughout Meghan Markle’s pregnancy.  I guess there is a documentary being done about it, and here is an excerpt:

Jesus. This just broke my heart.

— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) October 18, 2019

#WeLoveYouMeghan is trending today on Twitter. And its about time. Here is some of the garbage that has been selling newspapers in Britain. It reminds me of some of the crap that Michelle Obama had to put up with:
And for comparison purposes, here is how they covered Kate Middleton or other celebrities, compared to exactly the same stories about Meghan Markle.

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Liberal minority govt predicted

Posted October 18, 2019 by Anonymous

Forum Research predicts Liberal minority govt — Liberal 133 seats, Conservative 121, NDP 46, BQ 37, Green 1.
FYI, Forum was the only pollster 2015 to correctly predict the Lib Majority, so I am going to hope that their prediction is good this time, too.
What is will come down to, as it always does, is whether the Liberals can get their vote out.
 Here’s two threads from Ed the Sock – one about Trudeau, and one about Scheer. Iits worthwhile reading the whole thing:

I’m voting #Liberal & #IStandwithTrudeau. Not because he’s perfect but because he tries & his govt has been good for Canada. You make your own choice. But if you want to know who JT is from someone who’s actually known him (received not a single perk or benefit), I just told you.

— Ed the Sock (@EdtheSock) October 15, 2019

No matter the outcome Monday I will never forgive #Scheer, #HamishMarshall & their cadre who have acted like pondscum, knowing they had nothing of substance – ir they couldn’t hit the #Libs on economic record – they opted for a very American campaign of unrelenting lies

— Ed the Sock (@EdtheSock) October 17, 2019

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Just a little funny stuff

Posted October 17, 2019 by Anonymous
Make sure you watch to the end:

The Liberals are just a hot mess. #Compromise2019

— 22Minutes (@22_Minutes) October 16, 2019

And this one:

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to the inventor of rechargeable batteries. But he doesn’t know it yet because his phone is dead.

— 22Minutes (@22_Minutes) October 15, 2019

And now for something completely different:

– awesome 👍 👏

— Köksal Akın (@newworlddd555) October 15, 2019

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Real World Self-Selected Intermittent Fasting (IF) Vs. Continuous Energy Restriction (CER) Study Sees 73% of IF and 61% of CER Participants Not Lasting Even 6 Months

Posted October 15, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

So what happens when you offer people with obesity the choice between 5:2 style intermittent fasting (IF) (very-low calories (VLC) 2 days weekly with 5 days of less restricted eating) and more traditional caloric restriction 7 days a week? Would encouraging people to choose between two strategies increase their likelihoods of successful weight management a year later? Would one group lose more weight than the other? Would adherence be the same?

That were the question post-doc RD Rona Antoni and colleagues set out to explore and they recently published a paper discussing their results.

197 patients with obesity presenting to the Rotherham Institute for Obesity were offered the choice between 5:2 IF (630 calories from liquid meal replacements on the VLC days), or an aimed 500 calorie continuous energy restriction (CER) 7 days per week with diet based off that recommended by the UK’s dietary guidelines. Both groups received support from specialist obesity nurses for 6 months and were also asked to return for measurements and discussion at one year. All were also provided with access to, “a variety of specialist facilities, resources and multidisciplinary specialists including exercise and talking therapists“, and all were reviewed in clinic monthly where measurements were taken (weight, total body fat, fat-free mass (FFM), waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and an overnight fasted blood sample) and adherence was discussed.

99 patients chose IF, and 98 chose CER. 6 months later, 73% of IF patients and 61% of CER patients had dropped out. At one year, 83% of IF and 70% of CER patients were lost to follow up.

Of those who quit IF by 6 months, 18% explicitly reported they did so because they could not tolerate the diet, something that none of the CER drop outs reported, other IF drop outs reported they quit due to fainting or hypoglycemia on VLC days.

Regarding completers’ weight losses at 6 months, the IF patients lost a statistically significant, but likely clinically meaningless, 4lbs more than the CER group. All blood measures (including fasting glucose, insulin, hsCRP, and lipids) were found to be the same between groups. Blood pressure changes were also not different between groups.

At one year, the 17 remaining IF patients were found to have regained their lost weight, while the 30 CER patients were found to be maintaining their albeit small amount (3%) of weight loss.

So what to make of this study?

I think the most striking finding was the overall 66% attrition rate across both arms. Certainly this study does not suggest that IF is an easier regime to follow than CER (at least not when provided at the Rotherham Institute for Obesity – given weight management support is a service and not a product, it’s certainly possible that different providers might have seen different outcomes for both arms, but I do think this speaks to the challenge of scalability of behavioural interventions).`But what I really think this study highlights is the fact that the real-world likelihood of purely dietary interventions treating our increasing weights is very low indeed. Instead, we need more tools for treatment (certainly including medications and surgeries), and more importantly, if we’re going to see change, we’re going to need environmental level changes to turn this boat around.

As to whether IF or CER will work for you don’t forget that one person’s horribly restrictive diet is another person’s happy lifestyle. If you’re trying to find your own right road, even if the first road fails, and even if angry diet gurus and zealots try to tell you there’s no other road, keep trying different forks until you find the one that suits you best, as when it comes to diets, adherence is all that matters in the end, and if you don’t like the way you’re living, you’re not likely to keep living that way.

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Great Tweet of the Day

Posted October 15, 2019 by Anonymous

Via the inimitable Dick King-Smith – you owe it to yourself to follow his tweets.  Make sure to have the sound on for this one:

Teddy the talking porcupine enjoys an autumnal treat.
Sound on, if you please.

— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) October 4, 2019

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Commander in Least

Posted October 15, 2019 by Anonymous

I haven’t checked because I don’t want to ruin my amateur standing, but as far as I can remember, the US Constitution gives only one real job to a U.S. President — being Commander in Chief of their armed forces.And for someone who hardly works at all,…

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Saturday Stories: Jimmy Dorsey’s Generosity, Eating Disorder Recovery, And New Coke

Posted October 12, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

Petula Dvorak, in The Washington Post, with two incredible stories, the first about hunting for one man whose generosity and $80 helped launch an incredible career, and then the story about finding that man – Jimmy Dorsey

Amelia Boone, in Race Ipsa Loquitur, discusses her eating disorder recovery.

Tim Murphy, in Mother Jones, on the murder of New Coke.

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Dear @BowlCanada, Selling Chocolate Should Not Be A Prerequisite For A Child To Play In Your Leagues

Posted October 7, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

This is not the first time someone has shared the story of a kids’ sports league that requires junk food fundraising, but it may be the first time that the league’s program coordinator explicitly stated that the child of a parent willing to pay a bit more instead of being stuck selling $50 of chocolate wouldn’t be welcome.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, our food culture is broken and junk food fundraising is just one small aspect of that, and when you question social norms, no matter how broken they might be, don’t be surprised when you get pushback. But damn, it’s depressing.

Here is the redacted email exchange I was forwarded



My kids’ dad signed our child up for bowling and is telling me I have to sell half of these chocolates.

I asked for information and the lane said that Bowl Canada mandates this.

So I have a few things to ask.

I’ve noticed that General Mills is a sponsor. Do they make the chocolates and are they the party that is behind this arrangement?

Why chocolate when we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic? Especially for an organization encouraging health? There are all sorts of fundraisers. If given the chance I would gladly purchase fresh vegetables through Peak of the Market, for example.

Also, why not give parents the option of giving a donation for tax deductible purposes rather than making them buy a bunch of poor quality chocolate that is probably connected to child labour? You’d still cover the costs you are hoping for.

Bowl Canada Program Coordinator

Dear [Redacted],

We are happy to hear that your child will be registering for bowling this season! Yes, Youth Bowl Canada has one official fundraiser each year and our tried and true method of raising funds, to help keep costs down for families, is the sale of chocolates.

Every two years, Youth Bowl Canada considers proposals from many companies offering an array of products, with various levels of monetary return which benefits all levels of bowling in Canada. Chocolate companies can repeatedly offered the best deal to not only bowling, but to schools, community clubs, etc.

General Mills was a sponsor of Bowl Canada last year, however it was simply a free game of bowling offer on select food products in stores. They have not wished to quote on our fundraisers in the past.

I hope I have addressed your concerns. Please feel free to reply should you have any further questions.


Hi [Redacted].

Thanks for your quick response. My understanding is, then, that these chocolate sales are mandatory if we want our kids in bowling. Is that correct?

If not correct, if this fundraiser is optional, no big deal; I don’t have to take part in something I find morally objectionable in order for my kid to have this opportunity.

If correct, that you require these chocolate sales, I would urge Bowl Canada to reconsider this policy, for 3 reasons.

1. It is objectionable to force fundraising on families. Some people are very good at this kind of stuff. Others have anxiety or lack the connections to have people to sell to. Sometimes the families least able to support a fundraiser are the ones whose kids most need this kind of programming.

2. This does not support physical health. As I mentioned, obesity is a major issue in society. I can appreciate that you are looking for good money makers but I think non-profits should be mindful of other considerations.

3. Why not give parents the option of something else? I am not going to sell these chocolates. If I end up buying half from my kids’ dad I will end up with chocolate I don’t want in my house and maybe end up throwing it out. I will have spent what? $50 on chocolate so Bowl Canada can get $20? I’d much rather just give you the $20 profit you are looking for. Why not just give me that option rather than making me spend more money than is necessary?

4. Chocolate is ethically problematic. Most chocolate manufacturers have child labour and harsh conditions as part of the production process. This is wrong and I believe what we support with our money should not hurt other people.

So I find myself between a rock and a hard place: I love my kid in bowling, it has been great for him. But I don’t think it’s right to force me to take part in something I find morally objectionable.

Please reconsider your policy.

Bowl Canada Program Coordinator

Hi [Redacted].

Yes, chocolate sales are required for the YBC program to participate in all YBC programs and events.

I will, however forward your concerns on to those that review YBC policies for future consideration.



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Plastic tea-bag particles, Venus was habitable, driver memory fail, earliest North American migrants, Plants ‘terraformed’ the Earth

Posted September 27, 2019 by Anonymous

“Please note: We are discontinuing our segmented podcast feed. Please subscribe to the whole show feed.”

New plastic tea-bags shed billions of tiny particles into the cup; Venus is a hellscape now, but might once have been blue like Earth; Lethal memo…

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Weekly Elementary School Pizza Sales Nets Just $8.57 Per Student Per Year

Posted September 23, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

Last week I gave a talk to some parents at my youngest daughter’s elementary school.

The talk was about our ridiculous food environment where we are all the proverbial frogs in pots of water that have slowly been heated to a boil, where food, especially junk food, is constantly used to reward, pacify, and entertain our children as well as to fundraise for every cause.

Ironically, the day before the talk I received an email from the school’s parent council extolling me to sign my daughter up for weekly pizza days. In it I was told,

The most valuable fundraiser is Pizza Mondays. $0.50 of every order, every week goes to the [redacted]. It’s a win/win/win! One less lunch for you to make, a delicious (and nutritious) slice of pizza for your child and $16.50 to the [redacted]!”

Looking past the wisdom (or lack thereof) of children been taught by their school week in and week out, from Kindergarten to Grade 7, that fast food pizza is a normal, weekly, “nutritious“, meal, I couldn’t help but wonder just how valuable it really was in terms of fundraising, and so I asked principal.

She told me that the school’s Pizza Mondays cut raises $6,000 per year (12,000 slices served).

There are 700 students in the school.

$6,000/700 students/year = $8.57/student/year

And if Pizza Mondays are the most valuable fundraiser, then perhaps it’d be fair to assume that in total, the school raises $10,000/year in food sale initiatives. That would be $14.30 per kid per year.

Is there really no other way to raise $14.30 per kid than selling them, and normalizing, weekly (or multiple times per week) junk food?

I think there probably is, and here are 3 suggestions each of which by itself might do the job, let alone together (and these are just 3 ideas, there are so many more out there as well).

Fundscrip is simple to describe. Parents buy gift cards from Fundscrip for stores they already shop at (supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, clothing stores, business and school supply stores, toy stores, book stores, electronic stores, restaurants etc.). The gift cards work just like regular gift cards (meaning they work just like cash) and are mailed directly to parents’ homes, and the school receives 2-5% (depending on the store) of the value of the gift cards. Given the average family of 4 in Canada’s weekly grocery bill runs in at a reported $220, if even only 10% of the school’s parents got involved, and if they only used the cards to cover half of their grocery costs, the 3% kickback to the schools would raise $12,000. And that’s just by way of groceries!

Grandparents’ Day
Many schools run grandparents’ days. Simply put they involve inviting all the kids’ grandparents to school, putting on some sort of song and dance production, giving the proud grandparents a tour, and either charging them a nominal fee for tickets ($5), or simply soliciting donations during the event (and perhaps annually having a singular cause which then gets branded for that year’s grandparents if monies raised). 700 elementary students should conservatively mean at least 1400 grandparents. If only half of them attended, and an average of $5/grandparent was raised, that would bring in $3,500.

School Parents’ Goods and Services Auction
With 700 families in our child’s school, there are clearly a great many different professions represented among the parents. Creating a night whereby parents can donate goods or services (with a cut to the school) is a great way to both raise money, and raise interest and awareness of the parent body’s businesses. Lawyers might donate a discounted will consultations, I could donate work with one of our RDs, or with our personal trainers, artists could donate their art, restauranteurs could donate meals, etc. Done right, and certainly once established as a valuable annual event, there’s no reason why this couldn’t raise $3,000-$10,000.

The bottom line is that schools truly don’t need to sell junk food to children to raise money as there are plenty of other means to do so. Yes, school sold junk food is convenient for parents who aren’t keen on making lunches every day, but given we are literally building our children out of what we feed them, and that weekly (daily in some cases) school junk food sales teaches kids, even those who don’t order them, that daily junk food is a normal, healthy part of life, taking the time to pack those lunches (or to teach our kids how to pack lunches themselves) is well worth it.

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Quirks & Quarks women in science special — How science has done women wrong

Posted September 20, 2019 by Anonymous

Please note: We are discontinuing our segmented podcast feed. Please subscribe to the whole show feed.

The glass obstacle course: Why so few women hold the top spots in STEM disciplines; Women’s brains ARE built for science. Modern neuroscience explodes an old myth; Women and science suffer when medical research doesn’t study females.

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Canadians Who Care About Science Might Not Want To Vote NDP

Posted September 18, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

I have to admit, I found this story jaw dropping.

The federal NDP health critic, Don Davies, is opposed to plans geared to rein in the wild, wild, west of natural health products and supplements that prey on desperate Canadians.

The proposed regulations are meant to require, gasp, that natural health products have evidence to prove they’re both safe and effective before they’re allowed to be sold.

In the CBC story, Davies even parroted the common line that it’s too expensive for supplement makers to conduct studies to prove their products work. That statement that contrasts poorly with the other one he gave in the same article where he reports the natural health industry enjoys $12 billion in Canadian revenue and $2 billion in exports.

But even were it true, that there’s a presumably want-to-be federal Health Minister arguing we shouldn’t require proof of safety and efficacy for products being sold to Canadians in the name of treating their medical conditions, for anyone who cares even an iota about science, should be a non-starter.

And it gets worse.

Davies, in trying to push his post-science world view, is encouraging people to sign a petition developed by the Health Action Network Society (HANS), a Vancouver charity with a history of spreading anti-vaccination claims.

Shame, shame, shame, indeed.

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Let’s Stop Using The Terms “Healthy Weight” And “Normal Weight”

Posted September 16, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

Words matter, and your weight cannot determine whether you’re “healthy“, or “normal“.


Firstly, scales don’t measure the presence or absence of health, and so the term “healthy weight“, means literally nothing.

Secondly, the CDC defines a “normal weight” as one giving a person a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 yet if we were using the word normal correctly, it would differ by country and would reflect its population’s mean BMI. So in Nauru for instance normal weight would be a person whose BMI was 32.5, whereas in Eritrea it would be someone whose BMI was 20.5. Given mean BMIs in the US and Canada are 28.8 and 27.2 respectively, in North America, it should be considered abnormal to have a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.

So what could we use instead?

Risk based terms.

Weight, though not a guarantee for any medical problem, does increase the risk of many, and so I’m proposing that rather than terms which confer judgment, we categorize weight as low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk, and by doing so we’ll stop the erroneous use of healthy and normal terminology that constantly and insidiously promotes weight bias, shame, and stereotype.

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Ground zero for dinosaur extinction, space archeology, toes on the brain, Finding a lost jet engine on Greenland, mystery of the wandering whales and barren tablelands

Posted September 13, 2019 by Anonymous

Please note: We are discontinuing our segmented podcast feed. Please subscribe to the whole show feed.

Rocks recovered from ground zero reveal how the dinosaurs died; Archaeology from space – discovering history from a few hundred kilometres up; A jumbo jet lost an engine over Greenland — these researchers found it; The toes of foot painters are mapped in the brain as if they were fingers; Why are right whales roaming into danger off the East coast?; Why are the Tablelands of Gros Morne National Park barren?

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The Political Excommunication of Erin Weir Betrays the Face of Modern Political Cowardice

Posted September 11, 2019 by Anonymous

By Eric Cline
Former Saskatchewan New Democrat Minister of Justice

Erin Weir is not well-known outside of Canada. Even many Canadian readers won’t recognize the politician’s name. But the story of how he was smeared and excommunicated by his own political party presents a stunning indictment of political cowardice in the age of #MeToo. And what happened to him could happen to virtually anyone who runs for office.
Weir is a federal Member of Parliament (MP), having been elected in 2015 to represent the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-Lewvan. He ran in that election as a candidate for the New Democratic Party (NDP), which sits to the political left of Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberals, and constitutes the third-largest party in the Canadian parliament. His downfall began on January 30, 2018, the day he announced his candidacy for NDP caucus chair by sending an email to other NDP MPs, and to the leader of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh (who, at the time, had not yet become a Member of Parliament). The email set off a chain of events that eventually led to his expulsion from the NDP caucus, and stripped him of the opportunity to stand as a candidate for the party in the upcoming Fall, 2019, federal election. Under the Canadian political system, party leaders are free to unilaterally block candidates, no matter the views of voters or the rank-and-file. Without party affiliation, Weir’s political career is effectively over.
Weir’s undoing was the work of Christine Moore, an NDP MP for the Quebec riding of Abitibi-Temiscamingue. In a reply-all email responding to Weir’s expressed interest in becoming caucus chair, she wrote that she could never support him because “there are too many women (mostly employee[s]) who complained to me that you were harassing to them.” She then added: “As a woman, I would not feel comfortable to meet with you alone.”
Like Weir, Moore was not well-known—except insofar as she already had helped ruin the career of two MPs in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party after advancing claims that they, too, were sexual harassers (a subject discussed in more detail below). And her new accusation would have come as a surprise (and still does) to anyone who knows Weir, a 37-year-old economist who once worked for the Canadian section of the United Steelworkers union.
Continue Reading

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If There Were Quick, Easy, Flying Leaps That Lasted, You’d Have Already Taken Them

Posted September 9, 2019 by Yoni Freedhoff

The saying is that long journeys begin with first steps, not flying leaps, and if there were flying leaps that routinely led to lasting change, you’d have already taken them.

It’s a straightforward message, but when applied to weight management, diet culture regularly asks us to ignore it.

The inconvenient truth of healthy living is that it will certainly require effort.

Yes, there are likely those who will succeed by changing everything all at once, but for most, slowly building and layering change, and respecting the fact that their roads will absolutely also see their share of disappointments and setbacks, is the way to finally get somewhere.

Your first step might be as small as losing one restaurant meal a week in place of cooking, or trying to reduce your sugar sweetened beverages by 50%, or actually scheduling a day to buy, or a service to deliver, weekly groceries, but if you choose steps you can actually accomplish without suffering, you’re more likely not to fall, which in turn, will help keep you moving forward.

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Quirks & Quarks ‘science in the field’ special — the summer adventures of scientists working in exotic and remote locations

Posted September 6, 2019 by Anonymous

Please note: We are discontinuing our segmented feed. Please subscribe to the whole show feed.

Dodging venomous vipers and plant poachers to study how climate change impacts insects; Searching for dinosaurs in BC’s rockies — and finding grizzly bears instead; When the desert doesn’t bloom fake flowers are a scientist’s solution; A moment of distraction leads to near disaster while studying insects in a tropical paradise; Projectile vomiting birds are among the challenges in studying arctic lakes.

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National Post Publishes Correction

Posted August 9, 2019 by bigcitylib

BOOYAH!  JOB DONE!  The Natty Post corrects in response to this story:

Editor’s note: In the original article, Michael Rogers intended to say “early evolutionary ancestors” instead of Neanderthals when speaking about the agricultural revolution. As well, he intended to say there’s no anthropological evidence of Type 2 diabetes, not Type 1. All changes have been made in his quotes. 

Not even sure the phrase “early evolutionary ancestors” cuts it science-wise in this context but fuck it I’m in  a good mood.  We’ll let it go.  Kudos to Bianca Bharti for fixing things and being a good sport about it.  As for Doc Rogers, well they say he is from the University of Guelph.  I had a friend who went there.  When I asked him what it was like he said Guelph is the sound a whale makes when it swallows.  I don’t know what that means but I don’t think its a compliment.

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National Post Publishes Absolute Bullshit Re Beyond Meat

Posted August 8, 2019 by bigcitylib

The absolute bullshit is this bit:

“For the last million years, we’ve evolved with a very specific diet that’s been based on whole foods,” [Michael] Rogers said. “There hasn’t been a change in our diets this drastic in all of human evolution with the exception of one event in human history: when the Neanderthals ventured from forests into pastoral land and started … agricultural practices,” more than 12,000 years ago.

I don’t know who Michael Rogers is, but this kind of quote is the kind of thing that makes you think he isn’t much of an expert.  I mean, the timing of wheat domestication is about right, a couple thousand years too early, maybe.  But the species is wrong.  The last Neanderthals walked maybe 40,000 years before crops were domesticated, unless Mr. Rogers knows something nobody else does.

Seriously, this is a big fat fucking boner of a mistake: Neanderthals invented agriculture.  BULLSHIT!!!   That the NP published it without  fact checking is embarrassing.  And if you are trying to criticize alt-meat, making this kind of claim isn’t going to help.

PS.  I have never tried a Beyond Meat product nor do I have an opinion on the company.

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Quirks & Quarks is on hiatus. there will be no podcasts until September

Posted July 26, 2019 by Anonymous

Podcast placeholder #2 leading up to September

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