Is equality a scale or a bar?

In the past 100 years, there has been more social change than ever before. People of colour have equal rights, you can get married regardless of sexual orientation, women have become presidents of countries and CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses, abortions are legal, there are dozens of recognized types of gender, and so much more. None of these things would have even been a seed of a concept all those years ago.

However, the mindset of society is starting to split off into multiple directions. Planned Parenthood is losing funding if it provides assistance with abortions, there is an endless debate over the racial profiling and the police, women aren’t paid as much as men, millions of people denounce any gender that isn’t male or female, and all of this and much more is leading people to revolt and form groups against the constant progressive chance.

All of the issues of today boil down to equality, and in the news, I’ve seen a lot of different opinions on social issues. One of the biggest reasons many arguments on these issues end in stalemates is because both sides define equality in different ways. To properly debate social equality, both sides need to agree on what the definition of equality actually is. So that poses the question – is equality a scale or a bar?

Let me explain.

To even out a scale, you need to put enough weight on both sides of the scale until it balances itself out. For example, If I put a one pound weight and a seven pound weight on the left side of the scale, and then I put a five pound weight and a three pound weight on the right side, both sides equal eight pounds, and therefore, both sides are equal, and the scale is balanced.

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If we look at equality as a scale, every type of person doesn’t need to have the same programs, platforms, and privileges but need the same value when you add them all up. If we applied this logic to social equality, men making more money than women would be okay as long as they pay more for dates, groceries, gifts, childcare, etc.

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On the other hand, equality is also seen as a bar. This logic means a standard (or bar) is set, and to achieve equality everyone has to reach it. If you see social equality as a bar, men and women should make the same amount of money for the same amount of work because the standard pay for that job requirement is set at X amount.

So equality is a bar, right? Well, it’s not that simple.

When you look at the example of equal pay, it’s easier to see equality as a bar because we are all human, and humans should be paid the same regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion.

But now let’s look at scholarships. Milo Yiannopoulos started the Privilege Grant. It’s a scholarship only available to white men. The media has a field day with this news, criticizing him for being a sexist white supremacist.

Before I continue, I just want it on the record that on almost every issue I am in opposition of Milo Yiannopolous. However, is it fair to label him a sexist white supremacist on this issue alone? Obviously, he has done other things to back up that theory, but block out everything you know about him and try and focus on this one stance.

NerdScholar conducted a study on demographics of university scholarships. They discovered there are four times as many scholarships for women than there are for men. If you see equality as a bar than this should be appalling to you because men are at a severe disadvantage when it comes financial assistance from schools. There are also thousands of scholarships exclusively available for African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Indigenous, and scholarships only available for people of a certain religion as well. If equality is a bar, then offering a scholarship for white men is a step in the right direction.

“Well, that’s different because white men have had it good for so long.”

Ah, but now you’re looking at equality as a scale because you’re weighing the centuries of higher social status and opportunity against the surplus of scholarships for minority groups. But then that begs the almost impossible-to-answer question – how much is either side worth?

“Well, why can’t it be a scale in some cases and a bar in others?”

Because that’s the problem!

Everyone has their own take on when equality should be a scale and when it should be a bar. This leads to confusion between the parties involved in the debate because depending on the argument, people will flip flop between seeing it as a scale or as a bar to suit their personal agenda.

So what’s the right answer?

That’s something we need to decide as a society. If it’s a scale, then some groups can have more than other, but it’s harder to manage because now we need to numerically add value to social equality, which is highly subjective depending on your background. If it’s a bar, then everyone gets the same programs, platforms, and privileges regardless of the past, present, and future.

Discussing this dilemma is imperative, so please comment below and let’s start this conversation together. It’s the only way to solve the problem.

What makes a country happy, and who is the happiest

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international association that provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seeks solutions to common problems.

Since 2012, they have created and released the World Happiness Report, a study measuring the 155-member country’s well-being. The OECD believe the happiness of a country’s people is a direct cause of social and economic development and works with countries to propel their financial and social status in the right direction. I’ve broken down the most important points for you, but there is a link to the report at the bottom of the article if you’re interested.

So, what makes people happy?

The OECD measures a person’s happiness through a series of questions getting and individual to evaluate their own life on a scale from 0 – 10. They do many other things as well to calculate the long-term effects of their studies, but that’s the gist of it.

According to their report, the main factors that make people happy are their levels of:

  • Caring
  • Freedom
  • Generosity
  • Honesty
  • Income, and
  • Good governance

However, the 6 key variables that affect the factors above and help explain the measured differences between a country’s levels of happiness are:

  • The GDP per capital
  • Social support – the number of people in your community you can count on in times of need
  • Healthy life expectancy
  • Social freedom – the amount of freedom one has to choose what they do with their lives
  • Generosity – people donating their time and money to help the community
  • Absence of corruption in business and government

Who is happy?

The world’s average level of happiness is 5.310. The top three regions are Northern America & ANZ with a mean of 7.046, Western Europe at 6.593, and Latin America & the Caribbean at 6.342.

The bottom three regions are the Middle East & North Africa at 5.117, South Asia at 4.442, and Sub-Saharan Africa at 4.292.

The top ten happiest countries are:

  1. Norway – 7.537
  2. Denmark – 7.522
  3. Iceland – 7.504
  4. Switzerland – 7.494
  5. Finland – 7.469
  6. Netherlands – 7.377
  7. Canada – 7.316
  8. New Zealand – 7.314
  9. Australia – 7.284
  10. Sweden – 7.284

Other notable countries
14. United States – 6.993
16. Germany – 6.951
49. Russia – 5.63
79. China – 5.373
155. Central African Republic – 2.693 (Last)

Taking in the key variables mentioned above, it’s not surprising the top ten countries are all first-world progressive nations, and 16 of the bottom 20 countries are in Africa where social and economic development is the lowest.

Another notable statistic is that only 70 out of the 155 countries had increasing happiness levels (Canada actually decreasing by a small margin).

Is this data reliable?

Personal surveys are very subjective. However, happiness is a feeling so one’s subjective response is one of the only ways to can analyze it. You will get people taking part in the survey that are having great days and horrible days that would skew the results, but the OECD’s sample size was large enough to negate that issue.

Regarding accuracy, it makes a lot of sense when you look at the data. For example, the Ukraine’s happiness level went down almost an entire point over the past 10 years. What’s been going on in the Ukraine? Continuous riots and protest against the government and Russia taking Crimea. These issues have had a serious impact on all 6 of the key variables.

Compare that to Nicaragua, the country whose happiness has increased the most over the past 10 years (by 1.354). They’ve invested heavily in technology, infrastructure, and tourism. This has boosted the country’s economy, brought people from all over the world to explore the country and meet the people, and helped developed the social tolerance and standing of the nation.

The main takeaway

Any community looking to further itself has to take care of the people first. Create an environment where people feel free to take chances and be themselves, and the economic growth will follow.

Sources:

The report: https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdsn-whr2017/HR17-Ch2_lr.pdf

OECD’s website: http://www.oecd.org

Should not disclosing HIV be illegal?

On February 22, dozens of protesters stood outside the Attorney General of Canada’s office demanding the law stating HIV-positive people needing to disclose their status to all potential sexual partners be revoked.

Currently under Canadian law, not informing your sexual partner you’re HIV positive can land you an aggravated sexual assault charge, which is anywhere from 5 years up to a lifetime in jail. This offense has been enforced before, one example being Marjorie Schenkels, a woman who is HIV positive was charged with aggravated sexual assault charge for having unprotected sex three times with a friend in 2014. That being said, there is no official law stating the correct punishment for someone who doesn’t disclose having HIV.

When I first heard about this, I didn’t understand how people could protest this law. How could people want this law to be scratched and increase the chance of people contracting HIV?

Well, let’s dive into both sides of the argument because it’s more complicated than you might think.

The Arguments

The easier side to understand is people who are in favour of the current law. Their argument is simple: HIV and AIDS are deadly diseases. People should be well informed before being put into a situation where they might contract them. It’s the only real argument they have, but that’s all right because IT’S A VERY GOOD ONE.

Once you venture into the other side of the argument is when thinks start to get more complicated.

The first point people against the current law make is HIV isn’t as transmittable as people think due to general misconceptions surrounding it. According to a scientific consensus statement on aidslaw.ca, there are three main factors that contribute to the transmission of the virus:

  • Type of sexual act
  • Condom use
  • Antiretroviral therapy use and viral load in the HIV-positive person

The type of sexual act increases or decreases the chance of transmission. For example, oral sex has a significantly lower chance than vaginal and anal sex because HIV isn’t transferable through saliva. Is only transferable through semen, vaginal fluid, and anal fluid, and even then is only transferable these fluids come into contact with specific cells in an HIV-negative person.

Condom use is important because as long as the condom doesn’t break, HIV cannot pass through the latex barrier. However, they recognize condoms do tend to break from time to time.

Antiretroviral therapy is how people with HIV are treated. The goal of this type of treatment is to stop the virus from making copies of itself. Viral load is how contagious someone with HIV actually is, and the goal of antiretroviral therapy is to have an undetectable viral load, meaning little to no HIV.

The scientific community against the current Canadian law says the combination of these three factors can lead to HIV almost being completely non-transmittable. You can read the detailed report discussing these factors and more about HIV prevention here: http://www.aidslaw.ca/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Canadian-statement1.pdf

The other argument is the law surrounding HIV creates a stigma that does more damage than it does good. Protestors say shaming people for having HIV and making them afraid of the social and legal consequences deters them from wanting to tell anyone about their HIV status, especially when they can be legally labelled as people who committed aggravated sexual assault.

What do I think?

I think both sides have very valid points. Being labelled a rapist for not telling someone of a condition you’re ashamed of is harsh. You could create a specific category in the Criminal Code of Canada addressing HIV transmission, but giving it its own section could further add to the stigma surrounding the virus. On the other hand, unlike chlamydia or other STIs, HIV and AIDS are deadly. I still think you should make people fully aware of what they’re getting into before they make a decision that could possibly end their life – no matter how low the risk is.

So, what do you think? Am I right? Am I wrong? Should it continue to be illegal not to disclose your HIV to sexual partners? Should the Canadian government trash the law surrounding it? Should there be a new section introduced into the Criminal Code of Canada addressing this issue? Let me know in the comment section below, and make sure to get your friends and family in on the debate by sharing this article.

Sources:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/hiv-non-disclosure-law-1.3914429

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/02/07/stop-the-witch-hunt-of-hiv-criminalization.html

http://www.aidslaw.ca/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Canadian-statement1.pdf

 

5 Ridiculous St. Patrick’s Day Facts

St. Patrick’s Day. The one day a year where alcohol abuse in not only encouraged, but celebrated.

Millions of people across the world will drink, laugh, puke, cry, yell, fight, hook up, break up, and wake up the next morning either feeling like a god, idiot, or like they’re just about to die.

Of course with such a ridiculously beautiful and simultaneously insane holiday, there are many weird facts about it. Here are some the best and/or weirdest ones.

1. The Hot Springs March

In Hot Springs, Alabama, lies Bridge Street – the world’s smallest street at 98ft. So what better way to celebrate such a ridiculous achievement but combining it with the ridiculous celebrations associated with St. Patrick’s Day. The townspeople host an annual parade down Bridge Street. It’s actually quite genius if you ask me. I get bored of most parades after fifteen minutes, and I don’t know if this one would even last THAT long.

2. St. Patrick’s Day used to be a dry holiday

From 1903 to 1970, pubs in Ireland were shut down to commemorate the holiday. Well that didn’t sit to well with the Irish and so the ban was eventually lifted. Ireland now consumes around $245 million dollars of beer every March 17. I’m guessing making up for lost time.

3. St. Patrick didn’t wear green

He was almost always depicted wearing blue, like the Irish flag used to be. int he 17th century, Ireland changed the colours of it’s flag and the green associated with Ireland’s rich agriculture, eventually being named the Emerald Isle.

4. Stop saying “St. Patty’s Day” – Foreigner

In Ireland, Patty is short for Patricia. PADDY is short for Patrick. This particular screw up irks many Irish people.

5. Dyeing you food green actually represents very dark history.

During the infamous Irish Potato famine, residents of the country had nothing to eat. This resulted in lots of people having to resort to eating grass, leaving others to find their corpses with green-coloured mouths.

 

Having your period? Just… glue it shut?

Yep, you read the title right.

Mensez is a product developed by Dan Dopps, a chiropractor in Wichita, that is supposed to revolutionize the world of feminine hygiene and possibly do away with tampons and pads entirely.

According to the company’s website, it’s a lipstick-like applicator that uses a combination of natural oils and amino acids to seal your labia shut. The seal dissolves when you pee, releasing all of the fluids stored inside and making your trip to the bathroom much more efficient.

This product is patented and Dopps claims several manufacturers are interested in the product. Although, many women aren’t.

Women on Twitter haven’t been a huge fan of the product. Comments range from asking Dopps to glue his mouth shut to asking if he understands female anatomy at all.

Dopps claims he have spent years of research perfecting the product and is surprised pads and tampons are the best solution women have been able to come up with.

Ashley Robbins, an OB-GYN (obstetrics gynaecologists) at the Mid-Kansas Women’s Center, says Dobbs is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exists and believes the product would be unsafe and ineffective.

What do I think? I think it doesn’t take a doctor to realize you shouldn’t try this product.

I can see how this product could save women time, money, and the inconvenience of using tampons and pads, but there is so much grey area to be addressed before I would feel safe with my female friends and family using this product. What if the glue doesn’t work? What if you spill a drink on your shorts? What if you have a large flow and it burst through the glue, or worse, keeps it inside and causes you health problems? What does a chiropractor know about women’s reproductive organs?

Also, from a corporate perspective, the amount of liability damage you’d have to pay if this product turns out to be damaging to women could astronomical.

When it comes down to products like this, don’t just look at the problem it can solve. Think about all the problems it can cause. There are a lot of products out there that sound like they’re home runs, but after you think about it, turn out to be complete duds – and Mensez is one of them.

 

Sources:

Company website – http://mensez.com

The Wichita Eagle – http://www.kansas.com/news/local/article134119134.html

 

Guess what? There is more going on than Trump

Donald Trump is by far the biggest talking point on any type of media. From “fake” news outlets to your aunt tweeting about it, getting your daily dose of Trump is officially inescapable.

It’s crucial we follow all the things going on with Trump’s world because he holds the most powerful position in the world. However, whether you’re a fan of him or not, I think we are all a little sick of the endless barrage of coverage he gets.

That’s why this website will no longer be covering Trump news from now on. There have been so many incredible news stories that have been uncovered and underappreciated because Trump decided to say another outlandish thing or appoint another controversial person to his cabinet. From attempted terrorist attack at Target conducted by an American to lower the company’s stock price so he could buy low and eventually sell high, to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refusing to halt the illegal border crossing of refugees leaving the US – the world is more than what Trump is making it.

The first Trump-free article drops tomorrow. Subscribe and keep up with the other stories life has to offer. The world is incredible. Time to start exploring it again.

 

Should politics be kept out of Hollywood?

As many of you are aware, Meryl Streep accepted the Cecille B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement award during the Golden Globes on January 8.

She spent her entire acceptance speech calling out Donald Trump for making fun of a disabled reporter during his campaign and asking Hollywood to help defend the rights and freedom of journalists, artists, and immigrants.

The entire clip:

Regarding the content, delivery, and style of the speech, it had some good and bad moments. She delivered it with the powerful emotion you’d expect from an actor of her caliber, made some good points about the now president’s behaviour, and had a positive message about defending freedom of speech and the underrepresented immigrant population. On the other hand, she unnecessarily insulted the NFL and mixed martial arts by implying (in a quite elitist tone) without movies, all people would have are these subpar forms of entertainment, and sometimes she got caught up in her emotions, causing her speech to sound disjointed at times.

But, we aren’t here to talk about whether or not you agree with the points she made in her speech. We are here to talk about:

Should politics be left out of award shows and Hollywood events?

The main categories of people who are against the political rants at Hollywood events are those who lean to the right, and people sick and tired of the real world drama who are looking for an escape.

Let’s start with the people who lean right. It’s not secret that Hollywood tends to lean to left on almost every issue. Just take a look at long list of A-listers that backed Hilary. Jay-Z, Beyonce, Robert DeNiro, George Clooney, Emma Watson, Elizabeth Banks, and truckloads more. Donald Trump had Kid Rock and the guys from Duck Dynasty.

But let’s think about the type of movies that get nominated for these prestigious awards. They are about social movements, the disenfranchised, sticking up for what’s right, equality for all, the first (plug in race or gender here) to do something, and Hollywood itself. Do these types of topics sound familiar to you? It should because the lack of these qualities in Trump was the primary marketing tool the left used throughout the campaign. It’s near impossible to leave political stances out of these award shows because the reason they have them is to award people for making movies that are almost always in some aspect about it. And if you’re watching the Oscars, Globes, etc., you’re there because you watched these movies and want to see them get the respect they deserve. So in a way, you already bought into politics they preached.

For the people that just want to escape and are tired of the all the drama in life, I have to say, I agree with you. But, let’s look at the alternative. We can either have a little political controversy or listen to celebrities thank a bunch of people we don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of getting politics shoved down my throat, but it’s more entertaining than listening to Tom Hanks thank the sound guy.

As long as Hollywood makes movies about history and humanity, we are going to have politics at award shows. You can join them or dismiss them, but they aren’t going anywhere.

Did I make some good points? Am I completely full of it? Let me know in the comments below.