Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sesame Street: Viewer Discretion is Advised

Apparently the earlier episodes of Sesame Street are suitable for mature audiences only:
Just don’t bring the children. According to an earnest warning on Volumes 1 and 2, “Sesame Street: Old School” is adults-only: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

Say what? At a recent all-ages home screening, a hush fell over the room. “What did they do to us?” asked one Gen-X mother of two, finally. The show rolled, and the sweet trauma came flooding back. What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough. The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating. Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes. Oscar’s depression was untreated. Prozacky Elmo didn’t exist.
Sounds pretty intense - from the miserable misanthropy of Oscar to the food addiction of Cookie Monster. I'm only glad that I didn't sustain irreparable emotional damage watching such inappropriate programming. Of course, one wonders how I managed watching something like Today's Special, which featured a store mannequin who would come to life when wearing a magic hat, a far more disturbing depiction of the fragility of existence than is appropriate for five-year-olds.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Sad Day

My favourite Radio 2 program had its last show today. After 23 years of mellow afternoons with Jurgen Goethe, DiscDrive ended today. It was a good show, with excerpts from past ones, but I was definitely more than a bit sad to hear the "Fanfarinette" theme for the last time on air. The CD is available here; I just ordered it.

As for DiscDrive's replacement, well, I'm not all that enthusiastic:
Radio 2 Drive, hosted by Rich Terfry. Airing weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Radio 2 Drive, is hosted by innovative Canadian funk/hip hop artist and passionate music fan Rich Terfry (he performs as Buck 65). The country’s premier destination for new music and emerging Canadian talent, Radio 2 Drive boasts 75 per cent Canadian content from a range of contemporary musical genres with a focus on singer-songwriters. From time to time, Rich will be joined in-studio by artists for interviews and live performances.
Given that I pretty much hate or am at best indifferent toward "funk/hip hop", I can't say this description appeals to me. A focus on singer-songwriters? Like who? I guess we'll see soon enough.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tony Clement has Jumped the Shark

I said a while back that our erstwhile federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement, should resign. I stand by that statement, particular in light of this and this. In fact, I'd say Tony has simply jumped the shark, and like a TV series that undergoes major cast changes to ill effect, it's time that he was cancelled. In fact, it may be necessary to disband the whole network. Exhibit A:
MONTREAL - Health professionals who support Vancouver's safe injection site are unethical and immoral, federal Health Minister Tony Clement suggested on Monday.

"The supervised injection site undercuts the ethic of medical practice and sets a debilitating example for all physicians and nurses, both present and future in Canada," he scolded in an address to the Canadian Medical Association general council meeting in Montreal.

He called providing a safe injection site to drug addicts tantamount to offering palliative care to a patient with a treatable form of cancer.
So, we have the spectacle of health minister calling some 79% of Canadian physicians (and, one would presume, nurses too) "unethical" and "immoral" since they are doing the equivalent of witholding treatment from cancer patients.

Or so he claims - it is, of course, quite right that witholding care from patients for spurious ideological reasons would be profounding unethical, but that is exactly what Clement is calling for. The entire purpose of a supervised injection site is to prevent deaths due to overdose, limit the spread of blood-borne diseases through the sharing of needles, and provide access to treatment programs and counselling... and that's exactly what Vancouver's InSite does. In fact, Clement's position is all the more ridiculous since he supports needle exchange programs, in which intravenous drug users are provided with clean needles, with the aim of - wait for it - limiting or even preventing ths spread of blood-borne diseases through the sharing of used needles. A supervised injection site does exactly the same thing, except that there are nurses around to prevent fatal overdoses. Oh, and such a site provides an access point for referrals toward drug treatment, something that Clement putatively wants to see happen more.

And that's great - we absolutely should support expanded drug treatment programs - so when is Minister Clement and his government going to start funding them properly? Clement asks:
Is it true that supervised injections offer 'positive health outcomes?' I would not put it this way. Insite [Vancouver's safe injection site] may slow the death spiral of a deadly drug habit, but it does not reverse it. I do not regard this as a positive health outcome.
It's rather important to point out that intravenous drug users - assuming they don't contract and die from AIDS or Hepatitis - often die following a fatal overdose. Of course, Insite exists explicitly to prevent fatal overdoses.

Which is better, preventing a heroin user from overdosing, shooting up on the street, and subsequently referring him to treatment, or letting him OD and die in an alley?

In short, Clement's position is nonsensical and, at worst, downright unethical. The real motivation is clear enough, though:
The new Conservative ad campaign picks up where Mr. Clement's message leaves off with its call to "keep junkies in rehab and off the streets." It includes pictures of the party leaders and asks which of them is on track to fight crime.

The text reads: "Thugs, drug pushers and others involved in the drug trade are writing their own rules. For too long, lax Liberal governments left gangs and drug pushers to make their own rules and set their own criminal agenda. Those days are over."
My head is spinning from such dazzling rhetoric! Anyway, I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to agree that "junkies" ought to be off the streets. Rehab is an excellent alternative, but the facilities are not currently sufficient to the task, and since all "junkies" will not be able or willing to enter treatment immediately, it's better that they use clean needles and, say, not die due to an overdose. I'd think that's pretty obvious.

Unless you're a federal Conservative, that is.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Time Passes Quickly

I'm rather amazed that this year in Waterloo is nearly over. It's really flown by, especially since April. I suppose that shouldn't be surprising - the summer always flies by (though it's not quite over yet!). In exactly one month I'll have my first classes of med school at Dalhousie, with orientation beginning a few days before that. I think that's a bit surreal, not least because of how much stuff I still have yet to do (coursework is done; research paper and marking, not so much). Aside from work, there's the small matter of moving to Halifax.

I expect to keep this blog, but the title might become somewhat problematic. As much as I have complained about Waterloo in the past, the summer has been nice, and I can point to at least a few things I like, most especially the park-like area where I live, the ready availability of bike and walking trails, and some areas like Uptown which make for pleasant daily excursions. While I can't say that the selection of restaurants is all that great, the variety of different fast food outlets in the Plaza is pretty nice. And I like the Williams coffee shops, though they are admittedly not unique to Kitchener-Waterloo.

I've also really enjoyed taking the train to travel back and forth between here and Toronto. Via Rail is not anywhere near as unreliable as it's made out to be, and the trains themselves are comfortable and spacious. With my ISIC card, it's no more expensive than the bus, but much more comfortable. It's unfortunate that I won't be taking the train much come September, but that speaks to the inadequacy of the passenger rail system across the country. Ah well.