Note To Self: Never Call Anyone Beautiful Ever Again

Beta Beto

Democratic flavour of the week, Beto O’Rourke was compelled to apologize this past week when a musical review that he had written as a student journalist surfaced, which included the line, “Keith Carradine in the lead role is surrounded by perma-smile actresses whose only qualifications seem to be their phenomenally large breasts and tight buttocks.”

Offensive or not, it’s an amusing line for an emerging journalist. It reminds me of one of my first serious gigs in my student journalism days. I was sent to interview director Patricia Rozema at the Festival of Festivals (which would later become TIFF).

I was a wreck during the interview, overly serious and nervous, constantly checking my recording device to make sure it hadn’t conked out. I was also dealing quite poorly with a recent break-up, and the topic of my conversation with Ms Rozema (relationships) brought all my pain back to the surface. She was quite wonderful and patient with me, and I was grateful.

Thus, in the article I wrote, I began with the line, “Patricia Rozema is a beautiful woman in ever sense.” My editor, my old friend and current arts reporting superstar Simon Houpt, had serious reservations about my “objectification” of Rozema, and discussed it with some intensity with other members of the editorial staff.

I see his point, of course, but certainly do not regret my representation of Rozema as a “beautiful woman”. Today, however, I think there’s a real chance that I would be fired from the newspaper, compelled to take a sensitivity course, and possibly reported to either the ombudsman or the campus human rights office.

(In the writing of this blog post, I am amused to discover that one of Simon’s most recent articles is about…. you guessed it: Patricia Rozema.)

For the record, if any of you student journalists out there would like to characterize me as a beautiful woman, I would not object.


The Latest Scam

I got a great email this past week from a fake account with the fake name, “Eloisa Lewontin.” It was the email version of ransomware, and had as the subject line one of my old internet passwords. The thrust of the email was that the sender was a hacker who had accessed all my info, and had acquired, via access to my webcam, a video of me spanking my monkey to incredibly shameful pornography. If I were to fail to send $3000 in bitcoin to the sender, he/she would release the video to all the members of my email and Facebook contacts list.

First of all, I’m sure this person acquired my old password from any number of hacked sites. Second, there is no one out there who would be surprised that I deliriously pleasure myself to increasingly marginal grades of shameful porn. Third, there is no one out there who also does not spank it to shameful porn. And fourth –and most important– if the threat were real, a smart blackmailer would at the very least include a still photo of me in mid-action of said spankage, as proof of the video’s existence.

Frankly, if such a video exists, I would like a copy for my own posterity. A few decades from now, I’d like to reminisce about a time when I actually had a libido.

Want to see the email? Here it is. And I’ve checked: this is a standard scam that has targeted hundreds of people around the world, in some form or another.

Here is the email, with typos and spelling errors retained:

I’m Eloisa. Isn’t <PASSWORD REDACTED> is one of your pass? I have the recording of your cam which shows your filthy stimulating doings and clip you viewed on the xxx video because that website was infected with my virus. In the video recording you really are appearing attractive.

Malware also gave me access to all of your FB and email contacts along with the recording.

I’ll email your video to your contacts unless you send me 3000 USD via B I T C O I N S within the next 36 hours to the below address:
Bit coin Address: 1KcnJvq1JKQMuVMnDQw1pxg9dJe1j4nbeS
Copy-Paste address because it is case sensitive.

Once money is received by me, I will destroy your recording and every bit of details I have about you. If I don’t receive the money, I will email your recording to every contact of yours. Just imagine regarding the embarrassment you will get. and definitely in case you are in an affair, precisely how it will certainly affect?

If you want proof? Reply with “Yes”, and I will email your video to 7 of your mail contactsinstantly.

Kind thanks – Eloisa

Nice try, “Eloisa” or Yuri or Pavel or whatever your name in Belarus is.


Overly Complicated Breakfasts

Yes it’s that time again. As I noted before, there is a reason I log my meals. I will share that reason in due time. But until then, please note that I am focusing on being a whole food vegan with time restricted eating. And though I am trying to be a complete vegan, I do allow myself one egg or fish meal every month. Here we go…

Sep 28. The veggie lunch option at Shafali Indian restaurant in Ottawa’s byward market. This one had a bowl of dal (not seen), curried chann (chick peas), a salad, and rice:

Sep 29. Huevos rancheros on a waffle, from Pressed on Gladstone Ave in Ottawa. Yep, this was my monthly egg meal:

Sep 30. The vegan option in Via Rail’s business class, while watching an episode of The Ultimate Fighter (UFC’s reality show). It’s always more or less the same thing: a vegetable salad, a fruit salad, a bun with margarine, and a stewy vegetable dish with rice. Oh, and copious white wine, of course:

Oct 1. Homemade super-hot veggie chili, half an avocado, a roti, and some strawberries:

Oct 2. Super-hot veggie chili again, but this time alongside a bowl of chia porridge, made with chia seeds, almond milk, coconut milk, and a diced apple. Deee-licious!

Q & A

A couple of months ago, I got an email from a francophone student who was in another country. I never investigated which country. I assume it’s either France or somewhere in North or West Africa. They wanted to ask me some questions about Epidemiology, which I answered in a subsequent email. I thought I would archive my answers here, just for posterity. I answered the questions in English, and have provided an English translation of the original questions for you:


La première, concerne un peu l’histoire de l’épidémiologie. Alors, je me demandais dans le passé quel était la manière, les techniques utilisés pour venir à bout des grands fléau comme la peste ou la rougeole?  (The first is a bit about the history of epidemiology. So, I wondered in the past what was the way, the techniques used to overcome the great plague like the plague or the measles?)

Prior to the development of population techniques, efforts to address epidemics were either based on superstition (for example, the belief that disease came from a magical gas called “miasma”) or on extreme curtailments of human rights (for example, forcing lepers to live in colonies, or burning down towns that were known to have plague sufferers.)

La deuxième c’est sur l’interdisciplinarité de l’épidémiologie. Donc, je me posais la question à savoir si l’épidémiologie comme science bénéficie de l’implication des autres discipline scientifique comme l’informatique, la pharmaceutique et autre ou elle est indépendante? (The second is the interdisciplinarity of epidemiology. So, I was wondering whether epidemiology as a science benefits from the involvement of other scientific disciplines such as informatics, pharmaceuticals and others where it is independent?)

Epidemiology is, by definition, interdisciplinary. I personally have a background in Physics, Physiology, Political Science, Economics, Anthropology and Literary Criticism. Epidemiology is also the foundation of modern medical science. As a result, I don’t need to be an expert on any subject area to be able to criticize a study in that area. The reason is that epidemiology allows us to assess the quality of the evidence underpinning any statement or assertion in any discipline.

La troisième porte sur les techniques modernes utilisé dans cette science. En effet, je me demandais quels étaient les moyens utilisé afin de poser des équations qui permettent de calculer la croissance épidémiologie d’une épidémie? et généralement, quels sont les moyens que les gouvernement mettent en place afin de traiter les crises épidémiologiques? (The third deals with modern techniques used in this science. Indeed, I wondered what were the means used to put equations that allow to calculate the epidemiological growth of an epidemic? and generally, what are the means that governments put in place to deal with epidemiological crises?)

Probably the most important tool that governments use to control epidemics is SURVEILLANCE. Surveillance systems come in many forms, some low technology and some high technology.  In low income countries, a surveillance system can simply be a file that keeps track of all cases of a certain disease, and that is shared with many stakeholders.  In wealthy countries, surveillance systems tend to be electronic.  For example, the tuberculosis surveillance system in Canada is a centralized electronic database that is built by mandatory notifications from doctors and health professionals from across the country.

A surveillance system gives us an accurate impression of the nature of an epidemic, and allows us to detect new outbreaks so that we can direct resources accordingly.  In fact, I believe that the easiest steps we can take to address outbreaks of diseases like Ebola and SARS is to set up passive surveillance systems to detect a case in its source country before it grows to an actual outbreak.

Related to surveillance systems is something called a Health Information System. More countries are investing in Health Information Systems, which are computerized networks that track all citizens when they encounter the health care system. This allows us to minimize waste, but also to know what drugs are being prescribed, which regions are experiencing increases in service demand, and how certain diseases are spreading across the country.

Information is the best technology for controlling disease.

To Break The Monotony…

I was watching a great interview with Dr Kim Wlliams. He was asked how best to convince his heart patients to consider adopting a plant-based diet. His answer was that, in his experience, the biggest predictor of whether a person would be able to give up meat was whether they already had a vegan daughter.

So, to break the monotony, I give you this pic of my parents’ vegan daughter. Oh which one is it, you say? You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself. This was taken ten years ago. Jeez, we are getting old.

By the way, if the emerging (yes, emerging) science of nutrition as a health intervention interests you, I recommend this fantastic lecture by Dr Kim Williams, whom I find to be such an impressive and informed speaker.

This is foremost on my mind for a number of reasons, including that Joe Rogan recently hosted a debate between vegan physicial Dr Joel Kahn and internet food expert Chris Kresser. Nothing was resolved, but a lot misleading interpretations about epidemiological studies were put forth. I will see if I can find a moment to write a brief response in coming days.

Until Next Time

Six months ago, a journal commissioned me to write an enormous review on a specific topic on which I’m supposedly an expert. It’s due at the end of this week and I haven’t begun yet. Instead, I’m blogging about my breakfasts and whether a hacker from Belarus has video evidence of my shameful self-abuse.

So, on that note, I will leave you with this photo of me and the Blonde One picking burrs from the snout of Dogulus Prime.