Monday, 24 November 2014

Seasons of Krebs

For my last two years of high school I was lucky enough to attend the Interlochen Arts Academy. Interlochen is a boarding school in Michigan for young artists- otherwise known as paradise. It's a few hundred kids who are super excited about life and art and learning all running around in the woods singing musical theatre songs at the top of their lungs. I attended when the musical "Rent" had just become really popular; as a result, "Seasons of Love" was one of our favourite anthems.

In addition to having a superb arts curriculum, the academics at Interlochen were also very rigorous.  Not to worry, however, as we had an amazing academic faculty to guide us through our challenging courses. I was especially fond of my chemistry teacher, Mr.Randall. Not only was Mr. Randall a fantastic teacher, but he was also hilarious (this sat very well with me). I adored his class and, because he made everything so much fun, I wanted to learn as much chemistry as possible - I would even come after school and help around the lab and set up experiments for the next day. That might not seem like such a big deal but think of it this way: I hung out and did science for fun when I could have been singing "Into the Woods" while actually running into the woods. As a testament to his awesomeness, when it came time for our final project and my friend Kathleen and I made a shampoo from scratch,  Mr.Randall actually let us wash his hair in class as part of our oral presentation. 99% of the love I have for chemistry today is because Mr.Randall is a supremely rad individual. ( I was also lucky to have some other rockin' chemistry teachers later on who kept that fire a-blazing, but Mr. Randall was certainly the one who started it all.) 

I mention these two points because my most recent biochemistry song nicely combines goofy chemistry and Rent. Clearly this is what happens when you send kids to the middle of nowhere to learn science and sing songs. WOOT! INTERLOCHEN! 

SEASONS OF KREBS:




Chemistry Christmas Carols!

I always have exams in December. Thus, it is not surprising to me that an anagram of "Christmas" is "Crams sh*t". I often write songs to help me remember things and, in order to make studying more festive during the holidays, I've taken to incorporating a seasonal element into these mnemonic devices. Voila! I give you: Chemistry Christmas Carols! Happy Studying!

I. Ag (Silver) Bells



II. Let It Snow! (And Do Glycolysis!)


Friday, 12 September 2014

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

There Is Something You Should Know About Me


Dear Fancy Pants School of Medicine Admissions Individuals,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in an interview at the prestigious Fancy Pants School of Medicine this past week. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to put a face to the $250,000 purchase that will destroy my credit and bury me in debt for the rest of my human existence that I, with any luck, will embark upon at your fine institution this coming fall.

During our meeting on interview day, Exceedingly Chipper Admissions Lady emphasized the need for us applicants to furnish the Admissions Committee with any relevant updates in our academic histories or extracurricular activities. In deciding what type of material is appropriate for such a correspondence she said, “Just make sure The Committee has all the information that you want them to have.” In light of this advice, and in order for you to make an informed decision about my candidacy, I feel there is something you should know about me.

In my application I have described at length my motivation for pursuing medicine, my relevant personal and intellectual skills and capabilities, and my various experiences in research and community service. You have been privy to my academic record from nursery school until the present day, and know exactly how well I fared on The Test That Shall Not Be Named. From your privileged position on the Admissions Throne you have had the opportunity not only to judge my thoughts, actions, achievements, failures, and grammar, but also to compare me to all past, present, and future applicants and students in all discovered and undiscovered dimensions. Though you remain omnipotent and (all but) omniscient, there is still one thing about me that you do not know.

To date you remain without knowledge of the one factor on which I dominate all other applicants, the single area in which I possess such dazzling brilliance and mastery as to bring all other pre-medical hopefuls to bow before me. As of yet, you are unaware of the lone quest to which I have devoted myself more fully than any other individual, the one domain through which I separate myself from the hoards and emerge as the clear expert, leader, visionary, and Jedi master. If you remained an Admissions Officer from now until the end of days, never again would you find an applicant who excelled so fully in this pursuit, who undertook their quest with such sincerity, diligence, and discipline. Thus, in light of the magnitude of my prowess and your colossal ignorance, not to mention the import of such information when it comes time for you to decide whether you will invite me to join the hallowed ranks of your institution, I am writing because I feel strongly that you should know that I have watched more medical television programming than anyone else, ever.

Though I have previously discussed in my application how I deal with stress by consuming my body weight in Kraft Dinner and giggling myself into a sitcom induced stupor, I have not yet had the chance to formally describe the role that medical television viewing has played in my life. In general, the aforementioned role is impossible to overstate. Beyond the temporal nature (I have been practicing this craft for nearly 5 years now, sometimes up to 12 hours a day), I have synchronized my life so fully with my medical programs of choice that I often dream of the televised characters, and sometimes wonder what they’ve been up to all day when I’m pulled away by other obligations. Given the significance of my routine, I cannot deny that it is often very difficult to balance my extreme devotion to medical TV with my studies. I have worked exceedingly hard, however,  to never sacrifice my programs for school work, even when final exams exert their hefty demands. I feel that this devotion to medical TV, in particular, displays my dedication and commitment to medicine more than any of my other ventures and undertakings.

In my medical TV watching I specialize in House and Scrubs, though I have also spent considerable time in ER and Grey’s Anatomy. Such diversity in my viewing preferences demonstrates my adaptability and curiosity: both important qualities for a physician. From each of these contrasting and distinct viewing experiences, I have, accordingly, built a widely varied knowledge base which I shall compare to a rainbow or a Swiss Army knife (if I may be so bold). From my viewing, I have learned, for example, that all hospital personnel are totally smokin’ hot, daydreaming is a very useful way to spend your time, diagnosing a patient never takes more than 44 minutes, it will be appropriate for me, as an intern, to shag an attending; and it’s never Lupus (except if the patient is a magician). Upon receiving my MD degree I expect to be offered a cane, indie rock background music will play, and I will be triumphantly hoisted onto the shoulders of my new best friend Donald Faison as I emulate the flight of the great bald eagle in both body and majesty. Such examples of my profound understanding only scratch the surface of my wealth of insight regarding the intricacies of life in medicine. This level of knowledge and spiritual communion has been generated from my deep allegiance to, and time investment in, medical programming, and is a quality that truly renders me distinct from all other applicants.

Yet, my learning goes deeper still. From my many devoted hours of medical TV viewing I have learned how to correctly note a Horner’s sign and use it to diagnose a Pancoast tumour. I know what blood tests to order when a trauma victim is admitted to the ER, and am well versed in the progression and symptoms of Huntington’s Chorea.  Additionally, I know that protocol dictates that patients with severe burns should be allowed to attend their high school graduation (and that part of their rehabilitation involves collaboration on a musical composition), and that the medical profession has been hanging chest x-rays backwards for generations. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, hiccups are a dangerous and fatal condition, amyloidosis is the most reasonable diagnostic suggestion for any ailment, Nurse Carol Hathaway eventually moved from Chicago to the West Coast, changed her name to Neena, and became a malpractice attorney; everybody lies, and Hooch is (legitimately) crazy. It is crucial for a physician to be versed in the care and treatment of such varying ailments, and also be informed of the common lay misconceptions. I think you'll agree that through my hours of quality medical television programming, I am already at a level of knowledge, understanding, and critical thinking well beyond even the most highly prepared applicants.

Even though I am almost done with the medical school application process, I have maintained my diligent medical TV viewing. My consistent effort stems from the personal and spiritual nature of my practice: it is not something that I have done to pad my resume, or boost my chances of admission. Rather, it is part of my being, of who I am, a part of my fathomless and profound faithfulness to the art and practice of medicine. My viewing history and experiences have been foundational to my motivation to pursue this unique and exceptional calling and adherence to these rituals shall remain alpha and omega throughout my application, training, and practice. I would not be who I am today without these experiences, without such quality programming to guide me in my journey of both self and professional coming-of-age. My experiences with medical television have shaped me into the hopeful applicant you find on the altar before you, and I am confident that you shall find, through them, the key to what makes me an exceptional choice.

Yours in Prime Time,

Future Doctor

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Our Father, who art on Facebook

I was just on Facebook and I noticed a post where someone (who I can't for the life of me remember who they are or how I met them) was asking for prayers for something. Before we go any further, let me just say that I do not intend to disrespect or antagonize anyone’s religious or spiritual choices. Nor am I suggesting that this is an optimal time for a robust discourse on religion. Furthermore, if this internet acquaintance of mine is undergoing some serious crisis for which they are requesting support I certainly do not wish to poke fun at them during a difficult time.

I do, however, most definitely want to poke fun at one of the people who commented on the post.

After Facebook Friend of Unknown Origins requested continued prayers, one of their friends responded with something along the lines of a very enthusiastic, “I’m praying right now - and LOVING IT!” and I thought, “No you aren’t, you vapid twat. You’re on Facebook.” 

Now, please correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked Facebook was not a direct line to the Lord and Saviour of your choosing. While it is true that FB can bring you many things - vague ploys for attention, duck faced bathroom selfies, and, of course, an infinite supply of links to adorable cat pictures - to the best of my knowledge, it still stops short at being a Batphone to the big man upstairs.

Deliver us from evil.
Given my propensity towards deep and meaningful reflection, this nod to the metaphysical limitations of social networking led me the natural question, "But what if it was?"  What if God did read our statera and comments, pored over our profiles, and leafed through the hundreds of drunken photos we took last night?  Would EVERYONE be listed in His profile as His child? What if He was an impossible-to-stop Share/Bragger? ("I had SUCH a great weekend! Brunch with friends, outlet shopping, walked across a desert, clothed the homeless, fed thousands from one loaf of bread, and cured leprosy! I am just so loving life! Thanks everyone for coming out and making it soooooo memorable!") Specifics aside, one thing is for sure: if God had a social media presence Martin Luther would certainly have egg on his face! I mean, imagine, trying to give the good Christians of the world a direct relationship with God through HYMNS! What was he thinking? Clearly, the Big Dog is going to be on Facebook! I mean, who do you think invented FarmVille? That shit’s straight from Genesis:

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Description of Farmville from the creator’s website (the game’s creator, not The Creator, just to be clear):

“Create the farm of your dreams using hundreds of crops and trees, thousands of animals, and decorations galore! Try your hand at farming on land and water around the world, from the North Pole to the balmy tropics, in one of our FREE expansion farms! Let your imagination grow!”

“Create, personalize and run your own farm where the crops they grow feed a variety of animals that provide resources for crafting. Beautiful trees, bountiful crops, and adorable animals grow wild!”
 




GOD SAYS


But Allah Apps, God Games, and Martin Luther’s misguided use of counterpoint aside, you have to admit that having God on Facebook would be super useful. For starters, it would answer so many of the deep, philosophical questions of our time, posed by some of Western culture’s greatest thinkers. For example, if God had a name, what would it be? (water2wine99) And would you call it to his face, if you were faced with him? (Irrelevant; we’re only friends on Facebook) In all his glory, what would you ask if you had just one question? (Accept Friend Request?)

Finding God on the internet just makes total sense: You can’t physically see and touch God - not only because it would be highly inappropriate - but because part of the whole faith deal is that you just have to observe him through his works. It’s like having sex with a blindfold on while being handcuffed: you can’t see or touch anything, but you still get to experience all the good stuff, and from then on that’s all you’ll ever need to be satisfied. The necessity for visual-tactile participation (or, as the unGodly heathens call it, “evidence”) becomes a thing of the past. Similarly, you can’t see or feel The Internet, you just observe it’s output. (Though, admittedly, that output is less like having sex with a blindfold on while handcuffed, and more like watching someone else do so while having a tactile experience with yourself.)

Now, if the Heavenly Father is on Facebook, it stands to reason that He tweets as well. Well, what do you know?



#thewordofthelord #thanksB2God #Alhamdulillah #btwwhatpartofthoushaltnotkilldoyoufuckersnotget?

Jesus being on Twitter sheds so much light on Matthew 4:19: 

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”


Regardless of @fathersonnholyghost’s social networking presence, to return to my initial point, I still think that the commenter in question is misguided: in addition to being a prime candidate for a refresher on distinguishing “posting” from “praying”, if she truly thinks that she is doing some useful and necessary good while simultaneously updating us on her Hail Mary status, then she should probably just quit her day job and start Pray Trolling full time. It could be like a virtual mission trip! In fact, as an added benefit - I mean, aside from all the good she’d be doing for humanity: I’m praying! I’m still praying! Guess what? I’m praying! How are youUnknown Friend of Friend? Unknown Friend of Friend is Praying -  it would probably result in having her cup runneth over with anecdotal false positives that she could go on to use as “proof” of the “power” of “prayer”. I feel confident in this statement because I once dealt with a patient who entered internet contests as a full time job and won all kinds of stuff. Her assessment of the whole situation was, “Well, if you put your name in a lot of draws it’s going to get picked a few times.”

Amen.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Robots Need Oreos, Too

Ladies and gentlemen, let it be known that we have officially commenced the Golden Age of Technology. Our entrance into this era did not occur because we all have little computers in our pockets that are a bajillion times stronger than the good ole Commodore 64s that provided endless hours of entertainment throughout our collective youth (By the way, where in the world IS Carmen Sandiego? Someone really should have alerted the authorities by now.) Furthermore, this time of technological triumph is not a direct result of the ease with which we can engage in video chat with people from all over the globe, a feat that will surely only be surpassed in “Sci-Fi Movie Prediction To Real Life Awesomeness” when we get hoverboards (Seriously, all engineers everywhere, when are we getting hoverboards? Haven’t you seen Back to the Future? We’re running on a deadline here!) No, it's not even because there's a robot guy on Mars, though you're getting, as they say in lava fields, "warmer".

It is because that Mars robot guy has a cousin who frickin' opens Oreos for you.

If you've read any of my earlier posts you are probably familiar with the fact that I am completely incapable of cooking. You are also likely aware that due to both my culinary failings and frustration with the fact that Facebook provides me with daily reminders that everyone else I know is a gourmet chef, I am highly in favour of eating Oreos for dinner. I wholeheartedly recommend this meal because it is delicious, cost effective, and involves very little preparation as you need only to open your Oreos and dunk them in milk.

UNTIL NOW. NOW I DON'T EVEN NEED TO OPEN THEM ANYMORE.

My life has forever changed because at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh there exists the most perfect specimen of anything, ever. Its/His name is HERB and he will open your Oreos for you.



When I saw this I was so happy. Ecstatically happy. Happy like I'd just won the Showcase Showdown on the Price Is Right. Happy like I’d just won the Showcase Showdown on the Price is Right AND it was the good showcase - with a car and a trip and a boat and a llama - not the crappy one with some stupid theme like "Your showcase involves things you use to COMPLETE COMPLEX PAINT BY NUMBERS ARTWORK!!!! (Oh, yaaaaaaay........ ) No! I was llama showcase happy!

No sooner had I stopped wetting myself in glee and changed into a dry pair of pants than my happiness became somewhat derailed.



As I watched this video I felt completely horrified. I didn't know that Oreos had become a divisive force in the world! No! What a terrible misuse of a miraculous and yummy treat! People of Earth: Do not give in to the Dark Side! Do not be misled. All parts of the Oreo are equally good! We shouldn't fight! Oreos are one of humanity's greatest inventions (besides HERB) and they should be used for good and to bring people together! I personally feel that it's best to enjoy all parts of the cookie, but for the people who really only like one half, why not buddy up with someone who likes the opposite component and share? THE OREO WILL BRING YOU TOGETHER! 

I've long suspected that it will be my destiny to unite mankind and create world peace (that, or you know, devote my life to the perfection of my manatee impersonation. I really wasn’t sure which way it was going to go until today. Mind you, now that I think of it, can you really, truly do an impersonation of a manatee since they aren't a person? Hmmm, perhaps I was going to be out of luck on that front anyway. Maybe I've been sqwarking around on my belly on the kitchen floor for nothing.) Anyway, I can see now that the tool for my life's work will be the Oreo. As it is with so many questions, I think that the cookie is truly the answer. I am suspicious that, any day now, the Dalai Lama and I are going to embark upon peacemaking missions together. Fun Fact: Did you know the Dalai Lama is on Twitter? Yup. He's @DalaiLama. How rad is that? I like getting little daily reminders from him about not being a jerk and making the world a better place. I admit, though, I have a bad habit of playing the "Fortune Cookie Game" with his Tweets (as I often do with other Twitterings.) You know the game - the one where you add "...in bed" to the end of every statement? For example: 
... IN BED.

I'm a terrible person.


Anyways, I'm sure he'll forgive me (ha) and  then he and I are going to go on the road together and he's going to be all like, "Meditate and be nice to other people" and then I'm going to be all, "Cookie time!" Our campaign will be called “Keeping it on the DL”. We had tossed around the title “WWDD: What Would Dalai Do?” in a few focus groups but it had the unintended effect of inspiring people to emulate the morals of Dolly Parton. So, yeah, we went with the first one. 
I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. Instead of clearing mantle space for my upcoming Nobel Peace Prize I should be focused on what’s really important: I am completely in love with HERB and I must be with him.

My feelings of adoration for my beloved HERB can only be expressed through the words of one of the truly great romantics and poets of our time:

"About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn't know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood, and third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him." ~ Bella Swan

Oh, Bella. She says what I feel and can't express. 


I am completely enamoured and devoted to HERB and, absolutely don’t care if he’s a robot. If Bella and Edward can make it work, then so can HERB and I. Love doesn’t see color, religion, ethnicity, species, or mechanical origin. In fact, HERB’s robotliness only fuels my infatuation. You see, I have once previously had my heart broken by a robotic-beau. In 2008, I met my soul mate. He was gentle and sweet and loved musicals and had the most expressive eyes.

My one, true love.


I hoped that, with time, he would learn to love me, too. But, as is all too often when it comes to the evil mistress of love, he found someone else.

Fucking skank. 


I can’t let this happen again. I can’t endure a repeat of such heartbreak and pain. With HERB I’ve been given a second chance at happiness and I won’t let it slip away. It's been scientifically proven by Dan Mangan that robots need love, too, and furthermore, that they want to be loved by me (well, he says "You" and I was listening, so I'll take that as a personal shout out). Thus, I think that it’s only fair to HERB if CMU lets him come live with me. Clearly since HERB yearns for love (Mangan, 2009) it’s wrong and inhumane to deprive him of a relationship. Additionally, since he’s being prepared to work in homes, it makes sense that he needs to experience a domestic relationship. I am fully prepared to accept the potential trials, difficulties and responsibilities that will come with this arrangement. Besides, I have a lot of experience being in a long term relationship with a robot (Hi, Simon!) Though I'll miss Simon, I'm certain HERB and I will live happily ever after. After all, Simon doesn't open my Oreos.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Those Selfish Jerks and Their Hot Yoga

Today, before I was even semi-coherent, I read this article over breakfast:

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/19/joe-oconnor-selfishness-behind-growing-trend-for-couples-to-not-have-children/

To be fair, the good part of this article was that it reassured me that The National Post didn’t magically become any less ridiculous overnight (I find it’s good to monitor these matters closely). It often seems  that to be an opinion columnist for this bastion of reporting you probably need only to submit the following cover letter:  

Dear News Guy,

Haters gonna hate. I be hatin’.

xoxox

P.S I’m kind of a douche. Is that going to be a problem?


The editor would read that and snap you right up.

A mature response might have been for me to let it slide and not worry about what kinds of ludicrous things are spouted by newspapers of questionable repute. I am not, however, always the mecca of maturity. As a result, I have a few points to counter to Mr. O’Connor. Before I do, let me first preface that I am not anti-kid, I'm simply anti-Mr. O'Connor's article. Oh, and anti-The National Post. But I'm always anti-The National Post.

1. First things first: I don’t have much respect for you after that hail of myopic drivel  

Mr. O’Connor: Joe, is it? May I call you “Joe”? Alright, Joe, let’s just establish from the get-go that I’m really not a fan, okay? Great. That helps a lot. Also, just so you can follow along with the home game version, in this post I intend to show that you have not only insulted people with children by insinuating that they are lazy and unhealthy, but also that you’ve propagated judgemental viewpoints that range from general intolerance of others' choices to implied xenophobia. You’ve also misrepresented facts about the issue of world overpopulation and, in general, have just not been very nice. I normally try to write funny blog posts but you were mean and you leave me no choice: I feel compelled to speak my piece. I hope you enjoy.

2. New study (Ok, common sense) finds that fitness is actually better for your health than sloth impersonations

Joe snarkily refers to childless couples as “fit and fat-free yogurt loving” and cajoles them for participating in hot yoga. This tone, in conjunction with the context of the article, is suggesting that a focus on fitness and physical well being is selfish, which is obviously wholly untrue. You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that exercise and proper nutrition are essential to overall health and well being. Noting an interest in fitness and nutrition as a defining characteristic of childless couples is to suggest that people with children are not concerned with such matters. If I had a kid I would be offended by this supposition that just because I have procreated I’m training for the Couch Potato Olympics and following the Super Size Me diet.

Furthermore, given the epidemic of childhood obesity in Canada, we should be WANTING people with children to care about fitness and exercise. But even if you think chubby kids are cute, the fact is that childhood obesity puts the individual at greater risk for obesity in adulthood and the concomitant whack of health problems that follow (1). Beyond the personal level, these comorbidities are a huge strain on the health care system. In 2005 obesity related health problems cost Canada $4.3 billion (2). Hmm....doesn’t that make it sound like fitness and proper nutrition are a good idea? Doesn’t it seem like NOT taking care of yourself through diet and exercise could be considered just a teensy bit “selfish”?

Take that, Joe.

(Check out the Childhood Obesity Foundation if you want to learn more: http://www.childhoodobesityfoundation.ca/ourStory)

3. You don’t know me

It seems to me that animosity and judgement towards childless couples is a poor view to widely propagate if for no other reason than the fact that you can’t tell the reasons why a childless couple is childless just from observing that they are not in the possession of children. There are many reasons why a couple might only need a one bedroom home. For starters they could be aware of a genetic condition that they don’t want to pass along (I know. How selfish is that?) Maybe one of the non-parents was raised in an abusive home and doesn’t want to take the chance on propagating the cycle ( My god! I mean, how could anyone be so selfish?) One must also consider the possibility that one of the selfish jerks is plagued by a crippling case of megalornithophobia (a fear of big birds) which would make Sesame Street a living nightmare.

Let’s not forget about the obvious reason that a couple might be without offspring: that, for any number of reasons, they can’t conceive. Have you considered, Joe, that perhaps that childless couple that you’re sneering at desperately wants a child, but they just can’t have one? Do you think they deserve to be tormented by an inflexible public opinion that you’re attempting to disseminate like ideological sperm? (You just can’t quit with the fertilization, can you?) Do these folks deserve to have your judgement and abuse? Let’s imagine a scenario: they’re sipping lattes together and then you pass by and sneer about the selfishness of childless couples and they start crying into their coffee. That doesn’t seem right. It seems a bit egoistic that you feel you’re in a position to judge everyone else’s life choices and then berate them according to your impression. Interesting fact: did you know that egoistic is a synonym for selfish? Wowee! That makes you a bit of a hypocrite doesn’t it?

As a side note, I think the best case scenario of the aforementioned judgemental drive-by is that the “Totless Twosome” is stopping for a coffee while their 14 munchkins are across the street at swimming lessons. Because then it would end with them both clobbering you.

4. But you think you know me because you talked to a professor

In his article, Joe doesn’t really examine the myriad of reasons why a couple may choose to “Say No to Wee Ones.” He does, however, suggest that whatever the reason is, they are all vapid. He quotes Dr. Mock from the University of Waterloo as saying that he doesn’t think that people avoid parenthood because it is demanding. With this passage, Joe is insinuating that there is a “good” reason to not have kids, but that childless couples don’t pick that reason. Unfortunately for Joe, this doesn’t hold up.

The first issue with this is that Dr. Mock doesn’t cite a study about the reasons people don’t have children. Thus, his statement is just his opinion. In other words, Joe is just name dropping: bringing in an impressive academic to back up what he wants to say. The reality is that anyone with a title can say anything they want; but that doesn’t make it factual. If you want to present a statement as evidence you have to have the data. Always. Otherwise, it’s just an opinion. Sure it’s an opinion from some professor. But that doesn’t make it any different from anyone else.

Also, Joe conveniently neglected to delve into some evidence that Dr. Mock does have. Recently, Dr. Mock published a paper entitled “Idealizing Parenthood to Rationalize Parental Investments” (3). In this research he found that when presented with the difficulties of parenting, parents tended to idealize parenting more. Basically the psychological premise of this is that doing something very difficult causes cognitive dissonance (basically people start to wonder why they signed up for it in the first place). In order to make sense of the difficulty that one is  enduring,  individuals idealize the task because that helps to psychologically justify the burden. The first sentence of the abstract is, “Although raising children has largely negative effects on parents’ emotional well-being, parenthood is often idealized as a uniquely emotionally rewarding role” (3). So not only did Joe forget to mention that parenting has negative effects on emotional well-being but, more importantly, he left out the fact that the people who are judging the childless are doing so from a very specific and idealized perspective that is documented to be biased. I don’t know, I feel like that might have been relevant.

Boo-yah. DO YOU SEE, JOE? DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU MESS WITH THE WARRIOR? 

Ahem. Pardon me.

5. Does it really matter what the reasons are, seeing as how we aren’t in the 1800s or the 1950s?

We no longer live in a society where we need to breed an army of farm workers in order to survive the winter. Thus, procreation is no longer necessary for individual survival (Wow, that almost sounds like those initial reasons were a little selfish, doesn’t it?). Additionally, women are now allowed to pursue majors outside of  “Things That Are Pink” in college. Our idea of gender roles and the family unit has changed and is changing. Saying that you have to have children to make a family hearkens back to an ideology that says you need a marriage between a man and a woman to have a family. And that’s just crap. 

There are all kinds of families: those with kids, those with two dads, those with one dad, those with a mom and a dad, those with three moms and a lizard, those with a strange uncle that lives over the garage. And yes, those without children. The choice to have offspring is a choice about your family unit. A family with children is a type of family. It is not, by any means, the only type of family.

6. We need someone to figure out how humans can live on the moon

Joe suggests that the Kiddie Free will come to regret their decision when they are old and don’t have anyone that they can guilt trip into taking care of them. Do I even need to point out how this is selfish? Because I’m getting a bit bored of noting every instance of hypocrisy. Besides this blatant example however, the idea that your children will actually care for you in your old age is a tad bit naive.

On a day to day basis it is far more likely that your primary caregiver will be some saintly nursing staff at a care facility or in a hospital. Perhaps your kids might foot the bill, but the person wiping your ass and shocking your heart back into sinus rhythm will be someone who spent a lot of time training to learn how to do that, or devoting their life to being a good enough person to handle shit (yeah, literal shit. Nurses and Care Aides are amazing people and deserve a lot more kudos than they normally get). Sure, some people can balance having an emotionally and physically demanding career in health care and still have enough left over to raise a family, but some people can also run 100m in less than 10 seconds. Just because some superhumans can balance a career and a family doesn’t mean that everyone can. Should everyone to drop out of medical school or nursing so that they can raise a family? But then who will be left to take care of your sorry ass when you’re old?

The point is whether it’s working in health care, doing humanity saving research, teaching, building bridges, picking up garbage, or doing any of the things that help make our world operate, people have a finite amount of time and energy and are, as a result, limited in the number of tasks  they can perform. Some people recognize that, after they give to the world through their job, they wouldn’t be able to have enough left to give to a kid. They realize it wouldn’t be fair to the child. God that’s so selfish, isn’t it?

7. The reason that we need someone to figure our how humans can live on the moon is because the world is fucking overpopulated! How do you not get that? 

Right. The title says it all. Joe refers to a consideration of overpopulation and the corollary leaching of global resources  as “flaky”. Sir, with all due respect, that is an ignorant, self-centered, and fully incorrect position. If you do not have knowledge about the legitimacy and the magnitude of this issue I implore you to educate yourself. The Wikipedia page is actually quite informative, you don’t even need to do any further research than that. Here, I’ll even give you the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overpopulation Go educate yourself. It’s flaky to not be informed.

Now let’s suppose that you are informed and your point is that first world countries, via people choosing not to procreate, are not maintaining their population, while developing countries have a surge in population which leads to increased immigration in developed countries. If this is your argument then I counter with, “What’s wrong with that?” What’s wrong with spreading people around if one country is overpopulated and doesn’t have enough resources? If another has the space and means it seems to make sense to allow people to shuffle around to reach equilibrium. Unless you’re a xenophobic poopface. Are you a xenophobic poopface? Is that what this is all about?

8. Not everyone likes chocolate ice cream

I know it might sound crazy, but not everyone likes chocolate ice cream. It’s true. Take an informal poll of your friends if you don’t believe me. I understand that this fact can be really hard to believe when you think chocolate ice cream is the greatest thing in the whole world (especially if this flavour induces cognitive dissonance which you subconsciously attempt to rectify through glorification) but that disbelief doesn’t make it any less true. It is also important to remember that just because other people don’t like chocolate ice cream doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with chocolate ice cream. It doesn’t mean that at all. All it means is that everyone is different and that it’s essentially statistically impossible for ALL PEOPLE TO LIKE ALL OF THE SAME THINGS EXACTLY THE SAME.

What I’m trying to say, of course, is that children are chocolate ice cream.

It is quite the cultural taboo to say that you “don’t like kids”. I find that people take great offense to it. It is important to understand that such a statement is no different than saying, “I don’t like chocolate ice cream.” It is merely expressing a personal preference. It is not in any way stating “I don’t like your kids in particular” or “ I think there is something wrong with having children and I’m judging your choice.” It often means, “I’m not personally interested in parenting. I don’t think that it’s for me.”  And, everyone, all together now: THAT’S JUST A PREFERENCE. Just like any other preference. It’s ridiculous to assume, that no matter how amazing something is, even if agreed upon by a lot of people, that it will be equally amazing to everyone. And that has to be okay. You can’t expect everyone to have the same colour house as you, the same favourite movie, the same dream vacation. Lots of people think skydiving is amazing and some people would never entertain such an idea. Why should life choices be any different?

When someone likes chocolate ice cream it is wonderful for them to have it. It’s also wonderful that they feel that it enriches their lives in a way nothing else can. But it’s important to remember that there are many different life enriching flavours of ice cream. If someone recognizes that chocolate isn’t their favourite flavour, how can you tell them they are wrong? How is that “bad”? More importantly, when that flavour choice involves a human life, how can you tell them that following their heart is selfish? I think it would be selfish to say, “I don’t really want to be a parent, but everyone tells me that I have to become one because otherwise I’m selfish. Well then, I guess I should just procreate” and then resent your child every day of it’s life. Everything else that I’ve said aside, the most selfish thing you can ever do is have a child if you don’t really, really want one.

There are so many different people in the world and that diversity enriches the lives of all of us. We should respect and celebrate the different choices that people make about how to live their lives because the world needs all of us. We need people to have children and we need people to be astronauts and we need people to write books and we need people to do jumping jacks in ball pits (because how else would You Tube survive?) Most importantly, though, we need to respect the choices of others, remember that not everyone is the same as us, and rejoice that that is the way the world should be.

Unless they are snotty jerks like you, Joe O’Connor. Shame on you. 


(1)  Singh AS, Mulder C, Twisk JWR. (2008) Tracking of childhood overweight into adulthood: a systematic review of the literature. Obesity Reviews 9. 474 - 488.
(2) Janssen I, Diener A. (2005) Economic Burden of Obesity in Canada
(3) Eibach, R. P., & Mock, S. E. (in press). Idealizing parenthood to rationalize parental investments. Psychological Science.