I don’t see gender: Sorenne can be an engineer, artist, whatever; it’s mindnumbing to limit over 50% of the populations’ potential

On December 6th, 1989, a lone 25-year-old gunman walked into a class of engineering students at École Polytechnique, affiliated with the Université de Montréal, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a hunting knife, separated the men from the women, shot 28 people and killed 14 women – primarily engineering students – before turning the gun on himself.

montreal-massacre-victimsWhen he entered a second floor mechanical engineering class of about 60 students, he approached the student giving a presentation, he asked everyone to stop everything and ordered the women and men to opposite sides of the classroom. No one moved at first, believing it to be a joke until he fired a shot into the ceiling.

He then separated the nine women from the approximately 50 men and ordered the men to leave. Speaking in French, he asked the remaining women whether they knew why they were there, and when one student replied “no,” he answered: “I am fighting feminism.”

One of the students, Nathalie Provost, said, “Look, we are just women studying engineering, not necessarily feminists ready to march on the streets to shout we are against men, just students intent on leading a normal life.”

Lépine responded that “You’re women, you’re going to be engineers. You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.” He then opened fire on the students from left to right, killing six, and wounding three others, including Provost.  Before leaving the room, he wrote the word shit twice on a student project.

The Montreal Massacre, as it is referred to, led to a self-examination of engineering programs across Canada. I benefitted from that, offering a course for engineers while working at the University of Waterloo, beginning in 1991.

court-hockeyThe more things change, the more they stay the same

Twenty-seven years later, the Ontario Hockey League has announced its mandatory program to teach players to respect women.

Probably because a lot of hockey players are goons – on and off the ice (not my friend Kevin, he’s just a goon on the ice).

I got five daughters, and I have and always will support them in whatever they do.

They all did and do play hockey.

Like engineering, it can be tough.

No one needs condescension, but clearing a few roadblocks can help.

One of the goals of the OHL Onside program, announced in Peterborough, includes teaching players to consider how their words and actions demonstrate respect.

I’ve had several chats with male adults and kids on the ice, in terms of comments made toward females.

And the other way.

Girls and women can give it back just as severe.

League vice president Ted Baker expects players and staff to buy into the curriculum, which will be taught by sexual assault experts in communities that have OHL teams.

“This will be something that will really be one of the pillars of our league,” he said.

The two-hour program will be delivered once-a-year. According to Lydia Fiorini, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre of Essex County, the culture is changing in sports, especially in professional leagues.

“You’re starting to see different shifts with regards to NFL players, NHL players in terms of their charges of domestic violence and the league really being really punitive as a result of those potential charges,” Fiorini said.

She hopes early starts for programs like this with feeder teams like the OHL will prevent some of those negative behaviours.

“Many times they witness a lot of things, but don’t know what to say,” Fiorini said. “This is an opportunity for them to start doing some preplanning in case they are confronted with those negative behaviours or stereotypes. So that they can actually speak out and actually work towards ending violence.”

A pilot project started last year with the Kitchener Rangers and the Peterborough Petes last year. 


Russia, UAE ban Egyptian produce, Saudi lab say frozen berries safe

Rosselkhoznadzor, the state agricultural safety agency, said on Friday that imports of Egyptian plant products will be banned from next Thursday until Egypt’s authorities take steps to ensure their safety.

jeddah_marriott_no_women_signThe move comes after Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, changed its import regulations to ban any ergot fungus in imported wheat.

It had previously accepted 0.05% of it in imported wheat, a level considered harmless.

The new policy hurt Russia, which is one of the major suppliers of wheat to Egypt.

In the past, Russia often slapped bans on agricultural imports amid political or economic disputes with other nations, citing sanitary reasons.

Meanwhile, the UAE has tightened controls on imports of frozen strawberries from Egypt that may be linked to a hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S. that sickened 119 people

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment on Saturday said it had instructed food control authorities in each of the seven emirates “to tighten control procedures on frozen strawberries imported from Egypt in order to avoid the entry of any contaminated products that pose a risk to the consumer in the country”.

Yesterday, a Saudi laboratory following thorough tests has confirmed that Egyptian frozen strawberries in the market are safe for consumption.

The test negates all the rumours circulating on social media platforms regarding Egyptian frozen strawberry products and their link to the Hepatitis A outbreak reported recently across eight US states.

A day earlier, an official report posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website does not conform to what has been circulated on social media platforms regarding Egyptian frozen strawberries.

The ministry urged the public to refrain from posting or circulating any news on social media platforms without contacting the concerned authorities to verify and validate the credibility of that information before posting.

Yes, that’s exactly how the world works. Some countries also value women as equal citizens, who can drive and play hockey.

And other countries value data. The Saudis offer nothing but an authoritarian decree.


I don’t see gender; everyone required to solve problems

Three-year-old Sorenne goes to daycare, and they have programs that parents pay extra for, like soccer.

So I said, sign the 3-year-old up for an hour of soccer once a week.

The female staff looked at me liked I’d lost it.

One said, we’ve never had a girl this young in soccer, it’s all boys, won’t she be intimidated?

I signed her up.

Australia can be sexist like that. So can anywhere.

When I first met Amy, I asked her what she did, and she said something about literature and feminist studies.

I giggled.

Because, like Stephen Colbert doesn’t see race, I don’t see gender.

I am a father with five daughters. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech in Parliament last night, which has apparently gone viral (although it could be edited down to 5 minutes rather than 15), touched a nerve. Any society that wants to solve any problem, food safety included, needs to empower both genders; otherwise you’re leaving out over 50 per cent of the brain power.

I can’t wait to load up on hockey equipment in the U.S. over Christmas and then come back and help Sorenne invent girls hockey (the ice kind) in Australia. And if she decides that’s not for her, OK.

E. coli outbreak spreading in Germany; 80 sick, dozens hospitalized

Two victims of a potentially fatal strain of E. coli have been placed on artificial respiration machines, a Frankfurt hospital said Monday, while hospitals across Germany were reporting a surge in infections.

German media report that EHEC, or Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, is a virulent strain of gut bacterium which can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea, and can lead to anaemia and kidney damage.

The strain of E. coli is not specified in media reports, but the kidney failure bit makes it sound like a Shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

In Frankfurt, 10 people had been hospitalized, of whom four were in intensive care, while a further 50 people were ill with mild symptoms of EHEC.

A total of 40 people were being treated in Hamburg, most of whom were female, the city’s health authorities said.

Around 800 to 1,200 cases of EHEC are recorded in Germany each year, predominantly affecting children. The current outbreak is unusual for causing severe symptoms in adults, primarily women.

The bacterium is commonly transmitted through contaminated raw or undercooked ground meat products or milk, but disease experts said there was evidence that uncooked vegetables might have helped to spread the latest outbreak.

Gerard Krause of the Robert Koch health authority responsible for epidemiology, said,

“Women prepare food more often, and it is there they could have come into contact with it, possibly while cleaning vegetables or other foodstuffs.”

In a German version of blame-the-consumer, the Robert Koch Institute has recommended people improve kitchen hygiene, making sure in particular that cutting boards and knives are clean.

It’s doubtful that all 80 sick people practiced lousy kitchen cleanliness at the same time across Germany.

Bureaucrats babbling: Health Canada blames consumers

Health Canada said today while telling pregnant women to be especially careful about the 11 million cases of foodborne illness that strike Canadians each year that,

“Many of these illnesses could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.”

Please, please, oh please. Show us mortals the data on which that statement is based?

And since Health Canada advises pregnant women to “make sure to cook hot dogs and deli meats until they are steaming hot before eating them,” please, please, oh please, stand up and say the advice provided by the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children Motherrisk program is complete nonsense.

Bathroom instructions for men and women

How to properly use a public bathroom continues to be a source of mystery to many. Many proprietors have found it necessary to issue reminders regarding proper use of facilities, and to explain the difference between men and women, which may account for different levels of publicly observed handwashing compliance.

(A post on foodsafe-l last night attempts to explain that “When women use the restroom it is a more septic process than when men urinate. Women need to wash their hands more frequently than men.”)

Dancing to attract women

I can’t dance.

As Billy Crystal said, I’m doing the white-overbite while shaking my groove thing.

Rather than simply criticize, I always try to provide a reference or citation to a better way of doing things when it comes to food safety – or dancing.

Psychologists at Northumbria University in the U.K. have uncovered the key dance moves that make men attractive to women. It’s below.

Now transform these mutants into best food safety moves in the kitchen – at home or food service. That might be better than the prescriptive do-this-don’t-do-this food safety rules.

Women fart, and that’s extra cool in New Zealand

First it was Jamie Lee Curtis flogging Activia yoghurt, and its, uh, ability to restore digestive regularity.

Now New Zealand brewer Tui has shattered one of the great myths of the sexes, with a billboard that reads, "Chicks never fart. Yeah, right.”

A survey of almost 600 women was carried out by Anchor’s low-fat probiotic yoghurt brand Symbio, which is promoting a 14-day programme to reduce digestive problems.

The company says the programme – run through www.abetteryou.co.nz – has already registered 10,000 people.

The study of digestive health has found that 45 per cent of women experienced gas at least two to three times a week, but only 12 per cent of women are likely to tell their friends they’re experiencing some sort of discomfort, even though three-quarters feel embarrassment when it strikes during social situations.

Sue McCarty, chief executive of the Auckland-based Via finishing school, said it was a "complete myth women don’t pass wind."

For those suffering, her advice was: Better out than in. She said women here had less to be concerned about. "We’re in New Zealand, remember. Lots more things are acceptable here than in other cultures."

Norwegian hospital liable for listeria deaths

The Rikshospitalet University Hospital must take responsibility for the death of a pair of unborn twins after their mother ate a soft cheese at Rikshospitalet University Hospital.

Food Safety Authority section leader Christoffer Nilsen told the newspaper Nationen that the hospital has the responsibility for food safety for everything they serve, and that such cheeses should not be given to pregnant women because of the risk of listeria.

"Therefore this is a serious breach of the rules which the managing director of the hospital must take responsibility for."

Rikshospitalet University Hospital strategy director Stein Vaaler was cited as saying that the FSA has been sent a report about the listeria outbreak but would not comment on the statements by the Food Safety Authority.

Hospitals should know better, but it is well documented that many pregnant women are not told about such food safety risks by their doctors.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, includes:

-Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot

-Avoid getting fluid from hot dog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats

-Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela, unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pastuerized milk

-Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads may be eaten

-Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna or mackerel, is most often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky." The fish is found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten.

The USDA risk assessment for listeria is ready-to-eat foods is available here


and one from the World Health Organization is here