Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Leave that thing alone

I read an article on a blog yesterday, where the guy talked about circumcision — how he needed to get it done to his son when he was about 5, and he wished he had gotten it done when he was born. He says "I listened to all that nonsense about butchering and psychological damage and curcumcision being unnatural. What a mistake." I couldn't disagree more. I don't believe that circumcision causes psychological damage, but in general, there is no anaesthesia used, so (I'm guessing - I don't actually remember) it really freakin' hurts. Do you want to cause your son that much pain, even if there won't be lasting psychological damage? Not without a damn good reason — and thus far, I have not been able to find one.

The main argument that people use when arguing for circumcision is that it allows the child to avoid painful infections that could require circumcision later in life. When Gail was pregnant with Ryan, we asked our family doctor about this, and she said that most of the time, proper washing of the penis eliminates this problem. When Ryan was 3, he could wash his penis by himself, so it's not a difficult thing. She (our doctor) also said that people get ingrown toenails all the time, but nobody advocates removing them at birth.

Another argument I've heard (this, to me, is unbelievable) is that if the father is circumcised, it's important for the child's penis to look like that of his father. Hogwash. If that's true, then you'd better hope that your kids all have the same eye and hair colour as their father as well. Quite simply, people look different — my kids know this. Neither of my sons have ever asked why I look different than them.

It's true that in some cases, infections or inflammations or whatever may cause circumcision to be required in older children, or even adults. But that doesn't mean that we should just do the surgery in advance just in case it's necessary later. Hey, the tonsils and appendix serve no purpose in the human body, and they may also get infected (and if an infected appendix ruptures, it could be life-threatening), so we should remove them at birth too, right? Gail had her gall bladder removed 12 years ago because of gallstones, and she's just fine now, so should we remove all gall bladders from babies so that they avoid the pain of gallstones? The logic is the same.

Bottom line: it's painful for the child, expensive (health insurance doesn't cover it), and generally unnecessary. So why would you want to do this to your child? I don't believe that circumcision is butchery or psychologically scarring, I just don't understand why you'd elect to have it done to your child.

Note: Some people have the procedure done for religious reasons. That is not an issue for me, which is why when Ryan was born, I simply looked into the medical reasons to get it done (and found none). As an atheist, I can't say I understand it, but if your faith dictates (probably using the wrong word there) that your male children must be circumcised, then it doesn't really matter whether or not it is medically necessary. If you honestly believe that God wants your infant son to feel that much pain for no medical reason, then nothing I say in this article will mean anything to you.

Aside: I wonder how many more google searches will hit my blog now that I've used the word "penis". Maybe I should rewrite this article using various other words for penis, and watch my readership numbers skyrocket!

Update (Dec 2006): As Yappa pointed out in the comments, there have been studies that show that circumcised heterosexual men are less likely (some studies say half as likely) to get HIV than uncircumcised men. John mentioned in his blog (also in the comments) that Wikipedia lists other advantages, including lower incidence of penile cancer.

Here's a link (thanks John) to an article saying that the results were so striking that they actually ended the study a year early, saying that it would be unethical not to offer circumcisions to all the men in the study. These results are certainly interesting, and if I lived in sub-Saharan Africa, I would have to seriously reconsider having it done to my kids. However, incidence of HIV among heterosexual non-drug-using men is far lower here than it is there. I don't regret my decision not to have it done (and if I had another son I probably still would not get it done), but I must take back my (implicit) assertion that it's pointless and has no benefits.

I still don't generally agree with removing something just because it might cause problems later. Doctors believe the appendix serves no purpose, and later in life it can become infected, causing pain and if it ruptures, possibly even death, but doctors don't remove them at birth "just in case".

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Camping trip

Starting in the late 80's, a few friends of mine went camping every Canada Day weekend, and I joined them starting in about 1990. Gail started in 1992 when we started dating, and we've gone every year since (though Gail took a year off in 1999 when she was 8 months pregnant). The numbers of people that went on these trips kept growing, until we had over 30 people and 8-10 camp sites. A few years ago, we decided to move the weekend from July 1st to the August long weekend, which was less busy, and easier to get camp sites. It's not like interior camping or anything; one family had a tent trailer, while the rest of us were in big tents (our tent is big enough for me to stand up in the middle). Just about everyone had air mattresses to sleep on, and Coleman stoves and barbecues, and some sites even had electricity, so we're not exactly "roughing it".

However, in 2004, we found camping very challenging — Nicholas was only 2 so he had to be supervised every minute, and it also rained a fair bit. We've had a number of rainy camping weekends, and those are just no fun at all:

  • At one point in 2004 we had DVD players going in at least three different mini-vans to keep the kids occupied
  • In 1996, Gail and I left a day early because our tent leaked, so everything we had brought (particularly clothes and sleeping bags) got wet. That was also the weekend my old 1988 Cavalier died, so we had to borrow someone else's car just to get there.
  • Another year, everyone drove into the nearest town and we all went to a restaurant for dinner. A completely non-camping-like move, but it had rained most of the weekend, and we all just wanted to be dry for an hour or so.

2004 seemed far more work than fun, and so we really had no desire to go the next year. Some other families felt the same way, and so last year, the camping weekend was officially cancelled; a few of us rented a chalet up in Collingwood for a weekend instead.

This year, we decided to try it again, but for a non-long weekend, and so last weekend, the tradition was resurrected, up at Balsam Lake Provincial Park. I'm very glad it was, because everyone had a great time. The weather co-operated (no rain, not too hot, not too cold), the beach was nice, the lake was warm, the kids behaved themselves as much as we could have expected them to, everything went off without a hitch. We had 9 campsites and 33 people — the kids ranged in ages from a little over a year to 10.

My buddy Jeff bought a Jet-Ski a couple of weeks ago, so we all had a ride either on it or being pulled behind it on a tube, so that was a lot of fun. One of the tubes was shaped like a hot dog, and you're not supposed to sit on it, you kneel (especially when you're in the back). I was behind Ryan, and so kneeling the whole time (it was all of about 10 minutes) just killed my legs — three days later, my legs are still stiff and sore. Playing baseball last night didn't help much; they loosened up during the game, and felt pretty good afterwards, but today they're as bad as yesterday. I just hope they're better before my next ball game on Thursday night. In the words of one Mick Jagger, what a drag it is getting old.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Article on IPv6

I found an article from the Times Online (a British paper) talking about IPv6 and how it will revolutionize the internet. Not a very good article (even ignoring the fact that I already knew most of it), but because the author obviously skimped on his research:

  • When the internet was developed in the 1980s,... — actually, it was the early '70s
  • They gave each address a "16-bit" number... — No they didn't. Each IPv4 address is a 32-bit number.
  • ...a new one was written based on "32-bit numbers" — In IPv6, each address is a 128-bit number.
  • The number given for 232 was 340,282,366,920,938, and then a bunch of zeroes, but that's not accurate. The actual number is greater than the one given by 463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456, or over 4.6 sextillion.

Obviously, with IPv6, we're going to need bigger tubes.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Vacation Week

Busy busy week. Gail and I are both on vacation this week, but we didn't actually go anywhere; by that I mean that we didn't go somewhere for the whole week, just a couple of day trips and stuff. Last Sunday, we decided to work outside, moving about 1/3 of a cubic yard of triple mix from a big bag on the driveway to the gardens in the backyard. Of course, Sunday was the hottest day of the year so far, and one of the hottest in the last few years — according to the thermometer in the back yard, it was 38°C (102°F) in the shade. We took a break in the hottest part of the afternoon and watched some of The Lord of the Rings - The Special Extended Director's Cut (or whatever) while the boys napped. I really enjoyed the LOTR trilogy, and the extended ones are even better. Seems that Mr. Editor Guy wasn't a big fan of Faramir, since he had a lot more scenes in the extended version than in the "regular" ones.

Monday, we went to Canada's Wonderland again, and spent most of the day in the water park. Being Monday (i.e. not a weekend), we figured it wouldn't be crazy busy, but being hot (mid-high 30's again) increased the numbers, but it still wasn't too bad. Gail's mom came with us; driving her home was kind of funny. She lives right in Toronto, and seems to think that since we live a fair ways outside the city, we're completely unfamiliar with it. I've told her a number of times that I know the city, particularly Scarborough, where she lives, pretty well, but it doesn't seem to sink in. She lives near Victoria Park and the 401, and coming home from Wonderland, the 401 got busy, so I got off on Allen Rd. and went north to Sheppard, which I planned on taking across to Victoria Park. She gave us a tour on the way back, and kept giving me directions. Even after I pointed out that I used to work on Don Mills just south of Sheppard and drove Sheppard Ave. home every day, and was born in North York, and lived in Scarborough for 11 years, and so on, she still pointed out where Victoria Park was and told me that I wanted to turn right at the lights right after Consumer's Road. Sigh.

Tuesday we finished the bag of dirt from the driveway, took the boys to the library, and had a rather nice uneventful day. My parents came by after dinner, and stayed until this morning. Wednesday morning, my dad and I went to play golf — my first game of the year. I shot something like 117, which it a touch higher than I have shot before, but I only get out two or three times a year. My driver was working really well though, so I was very happy with that. I did hit it left quite a bit, but at least it was consistent, not all over the place like I used to hit. I used to hate my driver, but after the lessons I took a couple of years ago, I can hit it pretty well now. The rest of the day was more gardening and playing outside with the boys, and then we had a wonderful dinner outside on the deck - the heat had subsided, and there were no bugs, so it was very nice.

Today, we took the boys to Ontario Place. I had been there a number of times as a kid, but probably not in 20 years or so. It rained for a while in the afternoon, but we spent part of that time in the Cinesphere, part of it in the water park, and the rest on the wilderness adventure ride (i.e. log flume), so we got a little wet, but we had a lot of fun anyway. Best part — Ontario Place has a policy where if it rains for more than an hour continuously, you can get a coupon for free admission any other day, so we get to go back another time for free. Since it cost us about $105 for admission, this is a good thing.

Tomorrow, we're going camping for the first time in two years. There are going to be something like 25-30 of our friends there, so it should be a lot of fun. Gail will likely take a ton of pictures, so I'm sure I will scan a bunch and make a Camping 2006 page on our web site.

On an unrelated note, I created a LiveJournal account today, so now I have three blogs (I also have one for my NLL Pool, but I only update that one with pool-related information, and only during the NLL season (Dec-May)). I only created it so that I can comment non-anonymously on other LJ users' blogs; I have no plans to actually use it as another blog.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Exodus from Edmonton

OK, I don't get this. The Edmonton Oilers were a game away from winning the Stanley Cup, and suddenly everyone's jumping ship. OK, maybe Chris Pronger had "personal reasons" for wanting out, but there seem to be a lot of players who are leaving Edmonton. Obviously Pronger was traded to Anaheim, but a bunch of free agents have also left: Ty Conklin, Georges Laraque, Sergei Samsonov, and Jaroslav Spacek have all signed with other teams. Mike Peca is supposedly in talks with the Leafs (though that seems to have stalled), and Radek Dvorak has stated that he has no interest in returning. I'd have figured that after having been that close to winning it all, you'd want to stay with the same team, and try to get just that little bit better next year. Maybe after Pronger asked to be traded, a bunch of the free agents figured there was no chance of that, and so they all jumped ship.

Kind of sucks for Edmonton fans, though they probably still have a better chance of winning it all next year than the Leafs. The Leafs should sign Peca and Anson Carter quickly, then sign Eric Lindros to a cheap contract (if he'll take one; if he wants more money than last year, let him go), and dump Jason Allison. They already did the right things in buying out Ed Belfour and Tie Domi (I like the guy and all, but he's getting too old, and is too expensive for what he brings to the table), and they resigned Nik Antropov to a fairly cheap contract, which is good (well, the cheap part is good). Not a big fan of Antropov's — we've been waiting years for that guy to turn into the star player he was touted as, but so far in his career, as Bob McCown would say, he's just a guy.

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The Big E

I was browsing around on Wikipedia this evening before my baseball game, when I came across the entry on Eric Lindros. I've never been a big fan of the Big E, mainly because of the way he started his career. He was drafted by the lowly Quebec Nordiques in 1991, and had indicated, even before the draft, that he wouldn't play for them. It was that arrogance that pissed me off — he'd never played a single NHL game, and already he's decided that he's too good to play for Quebec. He demanded to be traded, and he was — to the Philadelphia Flyers. The trade was unbelievable though: Lindros went to Philly, and here's what went back to Quebec: Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, a 1st round draft pick in '93 (Jocelyn Thibault), a 1st round draft pick in '94 (traded to Toronto in the Mats Sundin deal), and $15 million in cash. Three years later, the Nordiques moved to Colorado, traded Thibault to Montreal for a goalie by the name of Patrick Roy, and won the Stanley Cup (they won it all again in 2001, and have also won 8 division titles). Lindros went on to lead the Flyers to the Cup finals once in 1997, but they didn't win it.

I found it quite ironic that Lindros refused to play for Quebec because they sucked so bad, and yet trading him away allowed Quebec to become a very strong team for many years. Lindros plays for the Leafs now (or at least he did last year, but hasn't yet been resigned for next season), so I'm supposed to like him now, but first impressions stick with me for a long time. Having said that, I wouldn't mind if the Leafs did resign him, as long as it isn't for much money - $1.5 million tops.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Circus

We went to a circus on Saturday. The Shriner's circus was in Burlington, and some friends of ours had tickets but couldn't go, so they gave them to us. There were your standard trapeze artists, clowns, jugglers, and stuff (though not a single pair of stilts to be seen anywhere), and they were all good. The things I wasn't so impressed with were the animal acts. Oh, the animals were all trained very well, and the performances went off without a hitch, but something about applauding because six horses were running single file in a circle, then switched directions because some woman with a whip twirled her arms just didn't sit well with me. At least once (I think twice) the MC said that elephants are an endangered species and that they hoped that the opportunity to see the elephant at the circus would cause us (the audience) to become interested in helping do something about it. He also said that elephants in the wild generally live around 45 years, but elephants living in captivity can live up to 80 years. I read over the web site for the circus company, and they do say that they are they take "great pride in the care that [their] animals receive", and I'm sure that the animals are generally not mistreated. The elephant act didn't bother me — one elephant standing on a little stool while some gymnast climbed around on him — and the trained poodles were very cute, but the only time I saw a whip (which was not used on the animals — in fact, she never cracked it once) was during the horse act, and that bothered me.

I'm no tree-hugger, and I do eat meat, but cruelty to animals really bothers me. I cannot envision a scenario involving these horses and a whip that does not involved some cruelty to the horses. They were also tied up in such a way that the horses could not lift their heads beyond a certain point. This was probably for the safety of the performers, but the horse is a very majestic animal, and seeing them with their heads constantly pulled down made them look subservient and humiliated, and I really felt sorry for them.

Weirdness: the MC looked a lot like Wil Wheaton, who writes one of the best blogs on the 'net. His latest entry (ironically about writer's block) is a great example of why blogging was invented.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Changed comments again

I changed the comment stuff on my blog back to the standard blogger comments. The Haloscan stuff was working OK, but I just didn't like the look of it — to read the comments, you had to pop up a separate window, and that window had advertising links in it, and I'm too lazy to reformat the window to look nicer. I've moved the comments made during the Haloscan days back over, though I haven't found a way to reset the times to the original times, so it looks like I got a bunch of comments on various different entries all within a few minutes of each other on the same day. One of the main advantages of Haloscan is trackback, which is not offered by blogger, but my blog is low-traffic enough that not having it is no big deal.

Update: I figured out how to edit comments, so all the comment dates/times are now correct.

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More Separated at Birth

In a comment on my last posting, Yappa said: "I agree with those! In addition, I've always thought that Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter look like twins." Well, let's see:

Helena Bonham CarterJohnny Depp

Yup, no question. Must be the facial hair.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Separated at Birth?

Is is just me?

Steve YzermanMichael Keaton

While I'm at it...

Corey HartDavid Duchovny

I've always thought the same thing about k.d. lang and Colin James early in their respective careers, but I couldn't find any pictures that illustrated the similarities.

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