Lest We Forget The Tsunami

You may recall that I’ve been involved in an Asian tsunami relief effort called the Canadian Committee for Relief to (Sri Lanka’s) Eastern Province. Our first mission, during which our team (which did not include me, in case you’re wondering) delivered emergency medical supplies to affected areas, returned last month. One of their tasks was to administer a survey, part of which I designed, to children living in refugee camps, in an attempt to measure the extent of post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of both the tsunami and the decades-long civil war.

Well, I’ve just spent the past 3 hours entering data from the surveys into a statistics package, and hope to have some analyses ready for presentation very soon. Why do I mention it? Because this has been the most emotionally trying data analysis project I’ve ever endured. It’s actually quite difficult to read these surveys of children who are reporting that they watched their fathers drown, who have nightmares every night, who cry when they see the water, and who are suffering from headaches, stomach aches and fevers while living in cramped refugee camps. It’s one thing to consider these things from afar, but quite another to read their accounts, written in their own hand, at our behest.

So keep this stuff fresh in your minds, people. It may be off the front pages, but it’s still going on.

Another Schedule Change

For the one or two of you who actually read my News & Appearances Page, you’ll note that my upcoming book reading/signing in Ottawa has changed yet again: it has now moved to the evening of Wednesday March 23rd, and there it will stay. So come on out!


Let me say it again: man, am I tired.

Last night I was fortunate to attend a networking dinner with the federal Minister of Health Ujjal Dosanjh. Here’s a blurry photo of him, taken on my Treo. (He’s the brown dude on the left.)

I didn’t get a chance to say much more than hello to him, but he seemed like a nice fellow. As a PhD working in the medical field, it was a joy to be in the company of a Health Minister who is not an MD. In fact, it was nice generally to be in the company of South Asians who weren’t all doctors for a change!

Speaking of working in the medical field, today I received yet another invitation to appear on television to discuss avian flu. This time it was from the Discovery Channel. I jumped at the chance to say yes, since I have nothing but respect for Discovery’s programming and scientific ethic. However, I will be in Paris on their taping date, so it is not to be. Alas.

I did, however, receive some other good PR news today. It turns out that an interview I did last year was published in the November 2004 issue of Books In Canada. Sweet! Can’t wait to see a copy.

And speaking of my other career, you will note from my News & Appearances page that my book signing at the Ottawa Public Library has been moved from March 10 to March 24. So mark your calendars, kids!

Nature Adores Miscegenation

Women are just as violent to their spouses as men, and women are almost three times more likely to initiate violence in a relationship, according to a new Canadian study that deals a blow to the image of the male as the traditional domestic aggressor.” –Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Just so you know.

While we’re in an iconoclastic mode, here’s a story about a necrophiliac gay duck. Mallards are known for their sexual aggression and, like some other waterfowl, aslo for their propsensity for forced copulation. Homosexual animal stories are popping up everywhere these days as evidence of the naturalness of homosexuality. And I concur: homosexual behaviour, for the most part, appears to be innate, not learned, and is therefore “natural” for those who practice it.

But I’m going to get controversial on your asses and bring up a topic that is almost never discussed outside of biology classes: the “naturalness” of rape. You see, everything that every living creature does —everything— is ultimately geared toward either propagating or sustaining its genes. Sexual infidelities are ultimately driven by an unconscious (or often conscious) need to procreate; and even animals who abandon or kill their own young typically do so to give greater survival advantage to the offspring that remain. In the animal kingdom, forced copulation –what we would call sexual violence– is an effective means to achieve gene propagation for those animals (typically males) who are otherwise unable to convince another (typically female) to be a willing receptacle of their seed; those damned ducks sure get awaywith it often enough. It may offend us morally, but those damned little genes don’t care about our sensibilities.

Of course there’re going to be some illiterate trolls out there who will misread this post and conclude that I’m a supporter of rape. To them I say: learn to read.

What this might mean for human society is that no amount of public education, male sensitivity programmes or tougher laws is going to eliminate rape. According to mainstream biological theory, the gene pool requires that there will always be a handful of individuals driven to this compulsion, in order that genetic drift and transfer continue to be unstructured and as random as possible; nature adores miscegenation and diversity.

Mind you, our genes have yet to figure out that we invented birth control some time ago.

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