Saturday, 25 December 2010



I have been privileged to sing in a choir here in Ottawa that regularly performs pieces that I write; on occasion the choristers have been guinea pigs when I test techniques or compositional styles.

Anyway, on December 5th, 2010, the Harmonia Choir of Ottawa premiered two works of mine, including this one: a setting of the Magnificat.

Embedded video below the break.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Mid-December Update

As you have probably noticed in the last few weeks, I have not posted anything here in a while (indeed, my last post was a month ago today).

I am working on two posts now, at least one of which (which happens to be Christmas-themed) should be up some time this week.

I hope to have another post up soon once I have confirmed that a recording of a piece of music written by me has gone up on YouTube.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Remembrance Day 2010

Remembrance Day 2010

Most people reading this are, I think, aware of the basics of Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US), which comes around every November 11.

Not every country commemorates Remembrance Day, of course. As a rule of thumb, it is a special date particularly for those countries who participated in the 1914-1918 World War (November 11, 1918 being the day on which the armistice officially ending hostilities on the crucial Western Front took effect), a specialness reinforced given that almost all of them ended up taking part in the 1937-1945 World War (yes, that is a deliberate date choice, more on that later). Remembrance Day's significance is enhanced by the subsequent participation of commemorating nations in conflicts, UN peacekeeping, and military readiness through the Cold War, and down to the present with the interventions in the former Yugoslavia in the '90s and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (and to a lesser extent, Somalia) today.

I would like to touch on, in this post, a review of some pieces of music related to the commemoration Remembrance Day itself, to events associated with the themes of the day, and with other cultural artifacts (namely, cinema) that also touch on the themes of Remembrance Day.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Vaccine Awareness Week Around the Web

Between a course may fiancée and I took this weekend and the other stuff we've been working on today, I simply haven't had the time or energy to review comments and do much of a post to close out 'Vaccine Awareness Week'.

So I reviewed comments.

To sum up Vaccine Awareness Week, all I will do (for which I apologize) is the following:

  1. Link to this aggregate of pro-vaccine blogs and resources (many of them are reviews, analyses, and deconstructions of specific content produced for this week by anti-vaccine activists such as Barbara Loe Fisher or of cranks in general such as Joe Mercola, Mike Adams, or Gary Null - so if you want to see what anti-vaccine activists and profiteers have to say for themselves, you can).
  2. As of approximately 9:45 PM on Saturday night, when I did a Google search for 'vaccine awareness week', the first page was dominated either by official resources on vaccines, links regarding official immunization awareness weeks/months (which are at other times of the year) or pro-vaccine posts (often specifically intended to counter the Vaccine Awareness Week). Not until page 3 does a hit come up sympathetic to the aims of the anti-vaccine movement.
  3. Remind you, the reader, if you haven't already, to check out the rest of my posts for the week.

What's In the Future for this Blog?
While I mentioned, in my inaugural post, that the urge to do something to help attenuate the influence of ant-vaccine activism was the motivation to start this blog, I hardly intend on focussing on health issues.

This coming week, in fact, I intend to examine musical and other artistic/cultural pieces, creations, or trends related to or inspired by Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day for the US). And I won't be posting every day, either.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Responses to Anti-Vaccine Activism

Housekeeping: Due to an upcoming marriage preparation course my fiancée and I are undertaking this weekend, this post must needs be a great deal more abridged than the others.

Responses to Anti-Vaccine Activism

Having superficially examined anti-vaccine activism this week, I want to wrap it up by reviewing some of the possible responses. I would like to touch on how we can respond to anti-vaccination activism in terms of policy, in terms of media, in terms of scientific inquiry, in terms of interpersonal communications, and in terms of self-reflection.

For another viewpoint on this subject, from a veteran of the vaccine debate, check out today's post at Respectful Insolence (check out the suggestions from the commenters and the exchange when commenter Kelly appears on the scene.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Anti-Vax Nexus: Autism & Vaccines

The Anti-Vax Nexus: Autism and Vaccines

As you will recall, yesterday I linked to and analyzed a post on the website Age of Autism, which is ostensibly dedicated to advocacy for children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families.

However, once you review enough past posts, it appears that Age of Autism is not really interested in undertaking positive action to research the etiology of autism spectrum disorders or to promote more-or-less proven therapies to assist people on the spectrum operate in the "hostile environment" (so to speak) of modern society.

Instead, the management of Age of Autism have adopted the position that vaccines are to blame for autism spectrum disorders (that is, that autism is an adverse effect of vaccination) and the scale of modern mass vaccination is responsible for present autism prevalence. It so happens that AoA is not alone in this regard. Indeed, the interrelation of vaccines and autism lies at the heart of the contemporary anti-vaccine movement - it is what I will call here the Anti-Vax Nexus.

Anti-Vaccine Double Standards

Housekeeping: Due to present and upcoming time constraints, the rest of the posts for this week, if I intend to publish them on schedule, will have to be quite a good deal shorter than perhaps was originally intended.

A Reminder: In case you are reading this series starting at this post, please note that in an earlier post, I established that there exists (in my opinion, at any rate) a distinction between non-vaccinators, that is, people who for various reasons have opted not to vaccinate themselves or their children against infectious disease, and anti-vaccinationists, who actively work to discourage others from vaccinating themselves or their children and/or even abolish mass vaccination policies established by governmental bodies.

It is this latter group, who are campaigning to abolish one of the triumphs of medicine and health policy, that I wish to criticize.

Anti-Vaccine Double Standards

The anti-vaccine movement, as an aggregate, tends to make use of double standards when arguing about the evidence regarding vaccine safety & efficacy, the people who recommend them when compared to the people who denounce them, and the people who manufacture them compared to the people who profit from anti-vaccination sentiment.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Consequences of Anti-Vaccination

Housekeeping: This morning, I sorted out the jump break function on this site, which makes me very happy. It means less clutter/verbiage on the blog home page.

The Consequences of Anti-Vaccination

As described yesterday, today's topic is the consequences of taking a position of anti-vaccination, which actively discourages people from vaccinating and/or advocates against status quo mass vaccination policies.

Anti-vaccine activism leads to a constellation of negative consequences which can be divided into three categories: deterioration of scientific inquiry, socioeconomic harm, and deterioration of ethical behaviour.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Vaccines and Anti-Vaccine Sentiment: An Overview

Vaccines and Anti-Vaccine Sentiment: An Overview

A Primer on Vaccines

There are a number of excellent resources, both online and in print, which describe, in detail, the workings of the immune system in the human body (for example, this online textbook). Since it is not my intention to go through it all in this post, I would like merely to draw attention to, and remind readers of, the manner in which the adaptive immune system functions and how this relates to vaccines.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Vaccine Awareness Week?

You may not know, it, but this week is Vaccine Awareness Week.

Okay, I jest. Here in Canada, National Immunization Awareness Week this year was the last week in April (as it is every year, it so happens). If you live in the United States, you have a whole month dedicated to awareness on vaccines and immunization.

So whose idea is it to have a 'Vaccine Awareness Week' in the fall? Well, at least in North America, it appears to be a collaboration between Joseph Mercola, an online purveyor of quackery and pseudoscience, and the National Vaccine [Dis-]Information Center, an advocacy organization (the fact that they would collaborate with Mercola on a project like this speaks volumes).