If there was any remaining doubt, here's yet another study (this one by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) that finds abstinence only education doesn't reduce teen sex or pregnancy.

More comprehensive sex ed, on the other hand, has a positive impact on teenagers, “delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use.”

The study also showed that comprehensive sex education does not promote “promiscuity” as its opponents have accused. What comprehensive sex ed programs do accomplish, according to the study's senior researcher are: an increase in young people's knowledge about the “risks and consequences of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.” Having all the facts gave teens greater “confidence in their ability to say 'no' to unwanted sex.”

The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the Western industrialized world. 31% of young women become pregnant before they reach the age of 20. Last week ten top public health researchers urged Congress to cut funding for abstinence only programs due to its “multiple scientific and ethical problems.”
Remember this?
“We're gearing up now for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership…I'm talking about the 'battle of Kyoto' - our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto accord... Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.”
—from a letter written by Stephen Harper in 2002, asking Canadian Alliance party supporters for money to fight Jean Chrétien on the proposed Kyoto accord.

Damn socialists with their insistence on quality of life for all! But Harper should be grinning a wide, soulless grin now because he got his way with the 53-member Commonwealth country climate accord—no reference to binding targets.

Canada's current position on global warming is clearly why lead when hanging around at the back of the pack and slowing progress down for everyone is so much easier? Sorry polar bears, you'll just have to wait until China, India and the United States get on board the binding target bus. I mean, really, stop being such socialists and find yourselves some jobs already. You can't expect us to sustain this life of Riley hunting, swimming and knocking back cool ones lark. Get real.
Stephen Harper must figure the polar bears are Liberal or NDP voters. What else could explain his disdain for the gorgeous northern animals ?

“Violence against women remains prevalent, pervasive, systemic, and even sanctioned. The key challenge that remains is to move the issue from awareness that it is a human rights violation and a crime, to making it socially unacceptable and counter to community norms.”— United Nations In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women: Report of the Secretary-General, 2006

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Whenever people claim that feminism is no longer needed I immediately think of the 51% of Canadian women who will experience at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. That's half of us beaten, choked, sexually assaulted or otherwise injured in our lifetimes. The devastating figure should demand action. Violence against women isn't something that only happens in faraway places.

A 2004 Statistics Canada report on family violence showed that 7% of women and 6% of men in a current or past spousal relationship encountered spousal violence between 1999 and 2004. Female victims were twice as likely to be injured as male victims and were also three times more likely to fear for their lives, and twice as likely to be the targets of more than 10 violent episodes.

Earlier this year two men roamed one of York University's residence buildings in Toronto, randomly opening students' doors, searching out lone women to rape. In September a female Carleton University student was beaten unconscious, suffering a dislocated shoulder, broken jaw and sexual assault. We don't hear about the less dramatic cases but they happen all the time (in British Columbia, where the sexual assault rate is twice the national average, a whopping 47% of women have been sexually assaulted) and they won't stop because women limit their actions, curtail their behaviours and remain in high alert mode. They won't be stopped by those things because women's behaviours and actions aren't what's causing acts of violence against them in the first place.

Women are targets simply because they are female and violence committed against women can't be stopped by women alone. We can raise our voices, raise awareness, volunteer for and help fund anti-violence campaigns but violence against women is as much a men's issue as it is a women's issue. Men who find violence against women intolerable need to raise their voices along with us and work towards creating a Canada (and planet) where half its citizens aren't at lifelong risk. It's not enough for any of us to silently disagree with the status quo. Not a minute more.White Ribbon

Check out White Ribbon member Richard McAdam's blog entry taken from the latest issue of the White Ribbon campaign newsletter.

Join Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women campaign, Men Stopping Violence, White Ribbon Canada or White Ribbon U.K. 

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Schmap saying that one of my Flickr photos had been short-listed for inclusion in the fourth edition of the Schmap Vancouver online travel guide. Yesterday I received a follow-up email informing me that my photo had made the cut.

You can have a look at it here. It's the picture of the Vancouver Art Gallery on the right. I'm purely an amateur but I do love to snap away so this was very cool. That photography course I took when I was 18 didn't go to waste!

To tell the truth, I'd never heard of Schmap before receiving that email but it seems like a really good idea. At the moment they cover 200 destinations in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand - and the guides (which feature photos, interactive maps, info on festivals and events, nightlife and popular attractions etc.) are free.

Actually, I'll be going to Montreal again shortly so I should probably check out what they have to say about the place.
I was so sad to hear the news about Music World today. Canada's last Canadian owned national music chain lost $9 million last year and most of their 72 outlets will shut down after January. After the closing of Sam The Record Man's flagship store last summer this feels like a painful déjà vu.

I have countless memories of hanging out with my best friend at our local shopping mall's Music World in the 80's. My friend had a crush on a guy that worked there (and now that over twenty years have passed I guess I can admit I thought he was pretty cool too) but that wasn't the big reason we were at the store all the time. It was the music. The record store felt like a gateway to a cooler place, in our case, a gateway to the U.K. where most of our favourite music came from at the time. Duran Duran. The Thompson Twins. Paul Young. The English Beat (and then General Public). The Smiths. The Cure. Depeche Mode. Howard Jones. Tears For Fears. Kate Bush. U2. Simple Minds. Banarama. Talk Talk. Til Tuesday. Crowded House. The list goes on and on...

At the record store there was always the promise of a new album or an ultra cool band we hadn't heard of yet. This still happens, of course, and it will continue to happen but mostly not in any shared physical space outside a concert hall or other music venue. In the same way people enjoy being surrounded by novels at a bookstore (rather than having them delivered to their door via Amazon, Indigo or Barnes and Noble) I loved the feeling of being surrounded by music. In the 80's that was mostly tapes and wow did I work hard for those tapes. I didn't care too much about buying new pair of jeans (or the legwarmers or mesh tops that were popular at the time, although I did have those too) but tapes!! Tapes, tapes, tapes. I listened to my favourites so often that they got tangled up inside and had to be pulled out of their cases and strung back in again (although they never really sounded right after that).

I can't help but think that people who grow up not realizing a record store is someplace to haunt are missing something. I know people mostly download from iTunes or elsewhere now (sometimes I do too) and that you can discover any number of cool new bands on MySpace but I, for one, will continue to drop in on the physical spaces where a passion for music reigns - and flick through the racks.
I Know It's Over cover

This is what I Know It's Over will look like sitting face out on the {gulp} shelf. Is it wrong of me to want to keep this webpage open so I can stare at the cover over and over?

And I love the purple and how the wooden floor repeats on the back. You can click the below image if you want to get a closer look at the whole jacket design.

I Know It's Over jacket flap

I'm having that surreal feeling again...

It's starting to seem like this will really happen.

jacket photograph © 2008 by Ali Smith

The first strike by Hollywood writers since 1988 is currently underway and the first shows to hit rerun city will be of the late night talk variety. If you find yourself needing a fix of the Late Show Dave has kindly supplied two weeks of punchlines:

It's anticipated that daytime talk shows and soap operas could follow shortly but other popular programs have enough scripts and/or filmed episodes to hold out until early next year. Meanwhile most movie studios have stockpiled scripts and will not be affected by the strike for some time.

Ellen Degeneres stayed off the set of her show today in support of her writers while Jay Leno, also supportive, showed up at the NBC studio in Burbank to visit with strikers. David Letterman called producers "cowards, cutthroats and weasels" on the Late Show Thursday.

Writers want a better share of the profits from DVD and new media content and who can blame them? If you read through to the comments secton of this BBC article on the strike you'll notice a British writer who is a member of the WGA cite that a writer's royalty from a $10 DVD is a paltry four cents.

Yet where would Hollywood and the television industry be without writers? I don't know if we have 22 weeks of reruns ahead of us but let's sit back and watch the executives, with their multi-millions, try to craft an episode of Heroes or The Office.


On Monday Pope Benedict XVI told a group of Catholic pharmacists they should have the right to be conscientious objectors. This status would “enable them not to collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products that have clearly immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia.”

“We cannot anesthetize consciences as regards, for example, the effect of certain molecules that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo or shortening a person's life,” he said.

But preventing pregnancy in the first place isn't the same thing as abortion and anyone who doesn't know this certainly isn't qualified to be dispensing medication. Emergency contraceptive pills work in three ways (depending on when, in a woman's cycle, she takes them):

By keeping the egg from leaving the ovary

By keeping the sperm from fertilizing the egg

By keeping the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus

On the other hand, if certain pharmacists don't believe pregnancy should be prevented, by extension all matters of birth control are something they could feel ethically driven to oppose. And what about not having sex? Aren't abstinence and celibacy preventing pregnancy? Hell, I'm preventing pregnancy right now by choosing to sit here and type this rather than engage in pregnancy inducing pursuits.

Pope Benedict also mentioned that pharmacists should inform patients of the ethical implications of using emergency contraception or euthanasia drugs. Now while I'm happy to consider medical advice from a chemist I'm not quite sure what qualifies them as an expert in the arena of ethics. For all I know my local florist or accountant may be morally superior. Maybe we should start asking them what they think about emergency contraception and euthanasia drugs. I mean, heaven forbid women should have faith in their own counsel and actually want to exercise some control over if they get pregnant or not. But hey, what do I know, I'm not a florist or an accountant.
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