Apple’s new privacy is worrying authorities

When Tim Cook made this statement about the new iOs8 and it’s new encrypted software, it got authorities all worried about the criminals and safeguarding them.

Our commitment to customer privacy doesn’t stop because of a government information request.

Government information requests are a consequence of doing business in the digital age. We believe in being as transparent as the law allows about what information is requested from us. In addition, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a “back door” in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will.

What we’re most commonly asked for and how we respond.

The most common requests we receive for information come from law enforcement in the form of either a Device Request or an Account Request. Our legal team carefully reviews each request, ensuring it is accompanied by valid legal process. All content requests require a search warrant. If we are legally compelled to divulge any information and it is not counterproductive to the facts of the case, we provide notice to the customer when allowed and deliver the narrowest set of information possible in response. National security-related requests are not considered Device Requests or Account Requests and are reported in a separate category altogether.

On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.

More info http://www.apple.com/privacy

The Gay Mediterranean Cruise Experience

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT MAY OFFEND SOME PEOPLE WITH SMALL MINDS AND CONTAINS A BIT OF VULGAR LANGUAGE.

 

The excursions, the food, the sunsets and amazing scenery. Everything else…refund please.

Oh the craziness. The insanity. The regrets.

But, really what the fuck was I thinking?

If I’ve ever listened to my instincts, the inner none psychological voices in my head  I would of saved myself from a lot of things in life, money,trouble..etc. But that’s what risks are all about, to go out there and live life to the fullest and get dirty while at it.

For some fucked up reason, well, let me rephrase, in hopes of meeting new people, I booked a trip last minute to go on a gay Mediterranean cruise.

You see, I’m was a  “Cruise Virgin” as I was told by a frequent cruiser, that’s what I was… a cruise virgin..yay I am no longer a virgin! So like most virgins I didn’t know what to expect, how to plan and what I shouldn’t and should do. I was not prepared. That’s why experiences teach us and makes us wiser, well, they’re supposed to. This was a whole new experience and I’m not one to shy away from taking risks. I did a lot of that when I was 20’s, back then I traveled everywhere and met people off the internet all over the USA, that’s when the internet was young and so was I, young and naive. I also partied a lot in my 20’s, so much so that I’ve partied for a lifetime, so I know what it’s all about, I don’t need to relive things especially when it’s all behind me.

So why did I go on a gay cruise when I am not even into the gay scene nor care for it? I don’t care for bars, clubs, bath houses, the drinking, the partying, nor care for the gay scene PERIOD! But I wanted to go somewhere where I had an opportunity to meet other gay people. What I was doing in the present wasn’t working, so typical me I go all out and to the extreme and went ALL OUT GAY, TOO GAY. It was soo fuckin gay, 10 days is too long to be around gays 24/7..gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, they’re gay everyone was a gay gay..except for the cruise staff, I am sure some here and there.

3 days is plenty.

 

 

It was a bit daunting doing this all alone but it’s definitely not the first, not the first to travel alone, actually except one occasion I traveled with a female friend to Mexico 9 years ago, fuck time flies. Oh..she was a user. I paid her way. I was a patsy. Everyone can be a patsy and some just leach on, they leach onto people and suck them dry for everything they got. They have short lives.

Prior to all this cruise crap, many times I’d google on gay vacations and the same ad for a gay cruise always popped up but I was turned off by the marketing not that it had perfect Adonis type men but because it’s not my scene, everyone has preferences, nice to look at it, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I preferred to see pictures of sloppy obese men, it just wasn’t my scene.

I am quite surprised I actually put thought into it when all that time I wasn’t interested. But after reading some forums people said it’s not what the ads depict and that Atlantis cruises has a mix of everything and I was also told that there’s a 50/50 ratio of singles and couples, that figure was waaaay off, I would say 95/5 couples to singles ratio and I’m being generous with those figures.

Time was ticking, loneliness took over and I sold my soul to the devil, I booked it!! I booked the damn flight and booked the damn hotel room in Barcelona. And took my lonely (there was a time where I would even dare say lonely) ass to Europe. And lonely has many meanings. People in relationship can be lonely, if they’re in the wrong relationship.

Why I had to go on a lavish cruise and not meet people locally? Well, that’s a whole other stupid story.

You see, I’m actually quite reserved and keep to myself and that’s the habit I was trying to break…and it didn’t work, I was walking around with a pickle up my ass ( a pickle is better than a butt plug) and I had valid reasons. A few would agree or perhaps many others would agree that the cruise was a cruise with attitude, money and the bodies in speedo’s, it was obvious people worked out hard months before the cruise.

I’m convinced that even if I was not traveling alone and was with someone else it would of been the same experience. Again, it was a gay club on a cruise ship and it turned me right off.

Atlantis Events is a gay travel company that hosts travel vacations to the gay and lesbian community. They basically charter resorts (mostly in Mexico) and cruises for the gays and mark up the prices because it’s exclusively for gays.. And for this particular cruise I went on, it was on Celebrity Cruises. Atlantis has a few different cruises a year in different parts of the world using different cruise lines; Holland, Princess Cruises, Celebrity etc.

The cruise began in Barcelona and ports at Malta, Naples, Florence, Sicily, Rome, Monte Carlo, Ibiza Spain and back to Barcelona. I decided to leave a few days early before the cruise and visit Barcelona for 3 days because I wanted to get over the jet lag before the cruise and also do some sightseeing. The last time I’ve been to Barcelona was when I was 14 years old with my grandparents.

Like most travel, it’s based on double occupancy so if you book alone you have to pay double to have the cabin to yourself, which some did. Atlantis has a so-called “match” program for singles and will find someone based ONLY on smoking preferences, which didn’t matter because you can’t smoke on your balcony (if you booked a balcony stateroom like I did), no smoking in cabins and are only allowed only smoke in one small section on the lower deck which I later learned from smokers.

Anyway, I read comments by people on Facebook that sometimes people don’t show up and if lucky I could end up having the room to yourself, I was hoping that would be… oh boy did someone have plans for me. More on that later…

Everything was last minute, talk about living on the edge, I even left for the airport last minute, I had to drop off my dogs at my parents (30 mins north of me), pick up my mother, drive to the airport, quickly drop me off, and my mother took my car back to her place. I arrived at the airport late, they had to code my luggage in the system to for the baggage handlers as the loading was closed.

The direct flight to Barcelona on Air Canada Rouge was 8 hours, I was in the premium economy section ($500 more), Air Canada doesn’t have Business nor 1st Class on their Rouge flights which didn’t matter as I don’t fly in those sections anyway, well, depends. Premium Economy gives you slightly more seat space and leg room and better food, there’s also ‘Preferred’ Seating ($90 extra) which I sat in on the return flight had more leg room than the Economy seats. I upgraded to the Premium section just for the outgoing flight..and after flying in that section I can say it’s a total rip off, well for $500 or more it is. That extra price gives you a better roll (bread) and not the rock like bread roll in economy class, a better chicken than the so-called chicken given in economy class, better dessert, a real dessert and so-called salad (one cherry tomotoe and 4 leaves of lettuce instead of the so called one in economy) and a mini bottle of salad dressing in case you needed it for your baby size salad..oh and alcohol is included. I assumed that because you’re flying overseas alcohol would be included in any section. Not with Air Canada. It’s not that I needed nor wanted to drink alcohol, it’s just an observation.

The flight departed Toronto at around 9:00pm and arrived in Barcelona at around 10:40am local time, my internal clock was still at 4am time when I arrived. Went through immigration (what immigration?) in a second, no questions asked, just stamped my passport. It was the same when I went to Israel 5 years ago, except for when you leave Israel (that’s a whole different story). When I visited Israel 5 years ago, as you drive into the entrance of the airport you’re greeted at the airport entrance with men carrying rifles who peak into your car, I asked why they do that, the cab driver said to make sure I wasn’t an Arab, while inside the airport I was approached by a woman who questioned as if I were on trial. Who? what? where? why? when? parents name, aunt’s name, when did I lose my virginity etc etc. And at the end “Come back Soon”. More like FUCK YOU. Like seriously? All that wasn’t needed? I hate when people make your life more difficult when it’s not needed. The evil just comes out of me and I can be an ass. DO I LOOK LIKE A FUCKIN GAY TERRORIST? Let me answer that for you as you seem confused…NO!

Anyway, moving right along….

As soon as I landed in Barcelona, I took a taxi from the airport to my hotel and the very nice driver, a woman, didn’t speak English, so I brought up the email on my smart phone with the hotel email confirmation to show her the address. She said “Oh si” and kept talking Spanish, it sounded gibberish…well in a Spanish way. She was a nice lady.

I got to the hotel and because of the local time I didn’t want to sleep (it was 10:40am) and couldn’t of slept anyway even if I tried, besides to to get over jet lag it’s best to adjust to the local time zone even though back home it was 4:40am. I walked into the hotel room and started the electricity by sliding my hotel room key in the switch and WTF? The room was the size of a closet and I am not talking about Mariah Carey’s closet and the bed could of been concrete (very much like a prison). I was too jet lagged to even look for another hotel and drag my suitcases. New surroundings,hard bed, shoe box room and in a new country, too tired to sleep, my body was tired but my internal/external clock was going haywire and if I were a robot the wires in the fuse outlet would cause firecrackers, like the firecracker I am.

While I was in Spain, I noticed a difference in quality of life, people are more laid back and less angry than North American’s. It’s a different kind of life and attitude living in Europe, I would move to Europe in a heartbeat, LOVED IT!. And you have to be careful of pocket pickers. They’re very savvy, on one occasion spme guy tried sliding my cell phone under the sign he was holding above the table but I quickly grabbed it while I was having dinner outside, they have patios and cafe’s everywhere, loved the European way of living. Loooove Europe!

On the last day in Barcelona a couple people of Facebook and I went to have a drink on the roof top patio of a gay hotel,  as you walked into the hotel there was a bathhouse feel with nostalgia. The elevator to the roof top patio was dark and very small as if it was purposely made that way for people to get up close and personal. On the roof top there were all sorts of men in speedos baking in the sun. While standing at the bar waiting for drinks, a guy in his speedo came up to the bar with his low hanging donkey dong  It was so cool to see people feel so liberated and didn’t mind that their dongs were dangling like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Very different than the type of life I’m used to in Canada, except for the gay parades. It was a gay parade every day in Spain with the gays. And then as we sat on the comfy patio chairs to the right was a guy in his…that’s right..in his speedo doing some work on his laptop computer.  It was good break from my usual.

Then later that day I was introduced to a friend of the American couple I was hanging out with, the sugar daddy friend said his Singapore sugar baby was hooking up at a bath house. To each their own, I am not one to buy someone’s affection. We then went to the friend’s hotel room, well it’s an upscale condo according to Spain’s standards and the vacant units were converted to hotel rooms, this particular unit had 2 rooms, a kitchenette, washer/dryer combo, small balcony for $249 EUR ($350 CAD $322 USD) a night, If you got money to waste, party on. We sat and chatted for a bit and I started to feel really sleepy and excused myself. I was hungry and what does one eat in Spain where they have countless places of delicious Spanish food? Burger King! a chicken sandwich…of all the places to buy I walked into the Burger King and bought something quick. I don’t even eat fast food at home, and there I was eating a bun less chicken sandwich, I stay away from white bread.

Later in the trip I learned Italians love white bread, but somehow they remain to be in good shape in Italy, good for them bitches.

The day of the cruise I took the cab to the port and boarded the ship. The luggage needed to be checked just like boarding a plane, it is put through a X ray machines and they also check for alcohol as they permit 2 bottles of wine for the duration of your cruise. However, while at ports you can duty free alcohol but the cruise holds it for you til the last day of the cruise. You just have to spend lots on the cruise if you drink.

As soon as I boarded I went to my cabin, and minutes later my roommate walked in. It still baffles me that even after paying so much I had to have a roommate (It was a bad experience).

Later on, everyone on the ship had to go to their designated spot to learn what to do if an emergency happens and where the rescue boats are and then watch a short video.

I went back to my cabin and my room mate and I decided to go to the ‘Single’s’ Meet Party for a drink. We headed over to the Sky Deck Bar, it had an amazing view, we were given name tags with our names and out home city (the cruise had people from all over the world). We then went separate ways. To make long story short, another American bought him a drink and they lived happily ever after on the cruise. On the last day of the cruise the room mate said to me that him and that guy would just be friends…does it look like I care? (You’ll understand the bittnerness later.)

During the duration of the cruise they had many so called ‘Single’s’ drink and dinners meet parties. I only attended one Singles dinner party in one of the very elegant dinning rooms called the Silhouette Dining Room but it was a very ineffective way to meet people. We’re seated at a table with 10 people or so, after every course a bell is rang for us to move to another table to meet new people. But because the table was big with many people the only people you get to meet is either the person to your left or right or you can yell across the table (WHAT??? MY NAME IS…MY NAME IS…WHAT??? OH OK!). My suggestion would be to do the drinks meet first where it’s one to one at a table, time it for 3 minutes and change tables to meet someone else. While doing that, have paper and pen where you check off yes or no if you like the person you’re meeting and at the end check the results. Kinda like Tindr. You then give your paper to the hosts and they check to see if match is mutual, if not too bad for you there’s plenty of fish in the sea, pun intended.

On the ship, alcohol drinks are extra and are about $9 to $15 for a drink plus gratuity.

For those who have not been on a cruise, you are given a ‘Seapass’ card when you check in (same as hotel room swipe cards), they take your picture (for security and internal purposes) and add your credit card if you want to be billed using your credit card for purchases, this card is also used as a key to enter your cabin, use it to buy stuff on your account and for entry/exit when you are at ports. It’s like the card you get at hotels.

Most cruises offer an alcohol beverage package, this cruise did not, it only had a classic beverage package which includes bottled water and coffees at the cafe (which is worth to buy if you drink a lot of water and enjoy good coffee like I do). There’s also the Premium Beverage Package which includes better bottled water; Evian, shakes, coffee’s, Vitamin Water etc. Price ranges from $160 to $190 for the 10 days. Close to the end of the cruise I was upgraded to the Premium Beverage package.

During your cruise you can book Excursions. Since I didn’t have the time to research prior to departure as it was last minute or had the list of excursions to choose from prior to, I really didn’t know which excursion to take because at some ports there were many to choose from and if it was worth doing at some ports and not so much in other places. I have to admit, the Malta excursion was a waste of money. I didn’t do an excursion in Sicily, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, or Naples. I did an excursion in Rome, Malta and Florence. I did get off the ship in Sicily and walked around close by, was given attitude by a woman in a store for not having change for my bottled water, I only had a 20, I’m a tourist and off a ship,alight, give me a break!). The Shore Excursion staff was there just to make your purchase, they didn’t know anything about the excursions, could of been done on our own without a human. Which was frustrating. I choose the wrong one in Rome, the one I selected was a bus tour and while doing the excursion I realized I should of choose the walking one. Rome was just amazing, so much to see and can only be appreciated by walking, not sitting on the bus, the only time we were off the bus was when we did a brief 1 hour stop at the Vatican. I will definitely return one day and really appreciate Rome, and I head you need a few days to see it all, even a week. I was fascinated.

The excursion in Florence was okay. But because my cabin was dark, the roommate and fling where still asleep from being out some deck all night, because it was dark I couldn’t see my clothes, so I accidentally picked a dirty black shirt and wore it in scorching hot weather. I was also hung over from the night before. People were buying me drinks and for some psychologically insane reason I ordered a double shot drink before the Deborah Cox show on the cruise. She did a good show. It was the only show worth watching on the cruise. Everything else was mediocre. I can do without drag shows? Why does gay have to be all about drag and over effeminate? The comedy shows seemed like it was done by gay angry men, it was horrible, I  walked out after the first act. And I looooove comedy! I know comedy and that wasn’t comedy, what do you expect on a cruise, I guess. Cheap crap for your expensive cruise.

Back to Italy, the police officers in Florence are different..they blend in with society and seem more civilized and much better looking. Oh trust me,I have a picture of one too.

A few times I was invited to dinner at the Blu Dining Room, it costs extra if you’re not in the higher end $16k room package. And those who are in those cabins can invite one guest. After dining there, I am pleased to say for those who didn’t want to pay the extra, they were not missing much, actually the service wasn’t great and the food was the same in the other restaurants. But it’s a place where people felt better to dine in. Whatever rocks your boat and whatever makes you feel special. It didn’t make me feel special. (Bitter much?)

Now I dread..onto the room mate thing…My room mate was a 42 year old who like myself never went on a gay cruise before but has done regular cruises with his parents (???? A 40 year old cruising with parents). Like myself, he booked last minute, if he had not I would of had the room to myself because I didn’t have a roommate when I called to book. The reason why I put emphasis on that is because my time on the ship was partly ruined by sharing with this dumbtwat. I’ve been prescribed a very low dosage of Lorazapam for anxiety, which aids to sleep and I rarely use it when I am not traveling. There were about 20 pills in the bottle prior to leaving on this vacation. Because of this room mate and him coming into the cabin at various hours late late night, it raised my anxiety levels, how can anyone sleep knowing someone will be coming in and out or unexpected all night. The most dosage I’ve ever taken before this cruise was 1 pill (0.5 mg) but again very seldom for sleep purposes only. On this cruise, on many occasions I had to take 3 pills and that’s when he invited his boy toy over. TO CUDDLE AND SLEEP RIGHT BESIDE ME on his twin size bed, 3 inches away.

On top of that he snored like a bull dozer.

Now, here I am thinking okay perhaps I’ve got a pickle up my ass, why am I so raveled up about this? Well, I am not in my 20’s anymore, I am not a party animal anymore (I’ve over done that in my 20s to last me a lifetime), and if I don’t get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep it ruins my fuckin day. And for $4000 you EXPECT BETTER, you have higher expectations. And $4000 was just for only the cabin, excluding excursions, beverage package, alcoholic drinks on board, hotel in Spain and airfare. Total price : $6200 for one person!! I must sound really stupid after you read I just spent that much. No really. It was an impulse purchase.

In addition the lack of beauty sleep I needed but didn’t get due to pests, I am one of those people who needs a fan blowing at night (not a blow job, a FAN!) (and there has been times when I just wanted to shove a fan up his ass), the sound and air blowing is very comforting and something I got accustomed since I was young and can not do without and I brought one of those mini table fans with me, however I broke it in my Barcelona hotel room when I plugged in the European 2 pong plug (you could just use a 2 pong thing converter to plug into the outlet, depending on the voltage), I should of used a full converter.

Call me crazy, but I didn’t want to be sleeping beside two people sharing a twin size bed, 3 inches away when the room and beds were small as is. But on this cruise my sleep was always interrupted by this twit. When he brought over his boy toy the first time to cuddle and both of whom slept right beside me in the middle of the night, I said myself ARE YOU TWO SHIT HEADS FOR REAL???  And I didn’t expect it to happened again. Low and behold, on another night at around 4:30am the two clowns came in, I was awaken by slurps. I was facing the other way. Suddenly I heard loud slurping sounds. And I said to myself, ” WTF! What a bunch of douche bags!” The boy toy was giving the dumb twat a blow job and lucky for me and unlucky for him there was no happy ending. Maybe they were doing this because they wanted me to join in (sarcasm)..the thought of that just made me gag.  But for them it was being selfish, inconsiderate and having not an ounce shame nor class. You’d think someone in his 40s would known better. And if you’re doing this shit in your 40s???  Really?? The word LOSER is written all over you and absolutely no moral compass. I wouldn’t of done that in my 20s.

The cruise itself, as in Celebrity Cruises, was excellent. The staff (other than Guest Relations and Excursions, useless) were very attentive and worked hard. And the highlight of the cruise was the food, besides the excursions. I’m a picky eater and for me to say this says a lot, the food on this cruise had everything for everyone. It was delicious and something I will miss. Sadly, those are the only things I will miss about the cruise.

The cruise had a mix of people from all walks of life. Mostly people with perfect Adonis bodies sunbathing around the pool in their speedo’s with their donkey dongs popping through (nothing was left out to imagination it was right there in your face…well, not literally). The gay boys on the ship were about money, clothes and body.

And then there those who walked around as if money was no object. Me, on the other hand, I was happy to learn they put aside 1 hour for social hour for those like myself who didn’t mind paying cheaper for drinks, well, the typical price, $4 to $6/drink during social hour and not the cruise typical of $10 to $15 plus gratuity. That’s right, you’re forced to pay for tip as it’s included and the receipt said feel free to pay more if deserved.

Majority of the people on the ship were in their 30’s and older. There were plenty of the sugar daddies and their “boys”.  Which I found intriguing and sad, the sugar daddies never look happy and looked lonely even though they had a boy toy accessory at their side, being in a so called relationship with someone 20yrs or so younger than you, that’s for them to hang out and pretend to be in a relationship while the boy toy tramps around bathhouses or while on the cruise with other men? Sure, it happens in the straight world..cougars (ahem..Madonna), but it says a lot about someone, their self esteem, self respect and dignity. Sure, it would be nice to have my bills paid if I were that boy toy, if you want to pay off this cruise from my credit card, I’ll suck your dick, email me, I would thank you in so many ways. And a tummy tuck would be nice too. Hell, fuck the cruise…just pay for my tummy tuck and I’ll give blow jobs before and after. But just to let you know I don’t eat ass.

But I did meet someone who seemed decent until he dumped my ass after I told him and I could be friends…

I met a 52 year old (looked younger) from San Francisco and we got along really well (which says a lot because my luck in Toronto has not been good, mainly because I’m using the net) we even did an excursion together, we always had something to talk about, one night we talked for hours, but I just wanted be friends, as soon as I said that he disappeared. I never saw him again. I called his room one day, he already met another man. I didn’t care and I sincerely say this…Oh well, his loss..next. If you know your worth, you can easily walk away and move on to the next person who deserves you.

On a different note, back to the room mate thing, I’m one not to put up with shit. BUT in my case with this guy, I didn’t speak up because of the situation, I dealt with it for whatever reason but I should of said something. I know the cruise was not going to change my room, well the so-called Guest Relations offered this;  an instate room (no window, no balcony) for more money (why would I want a lesser room, even pay more on top of the outrageous amount I already paid for) or share with someone else in a lesser room and move my services (so-called Concierge). But I didn’t do that because I didn’t want to give that dumb twat the power and his own room nor the satisfaction.

But this is what I should of really done…for all that money I spent on this cruise  I could of planned a major multi city tour of Europe. I would of seen a lot more places. I could of done without the cruise and crap, done without the dumb twat and boy toy cuddling and slurping beside me. And I am not one just to sit in the sun and lounge all day, didn’t care for the entertainment and the gay crap.

Anyway, back to the cruise..I started to pack 2 days before the end of the cruise. I was ready to get off that damn gay ship. I had enough with gay. Depending on when your situation, people departed at various times, starting at 6:30am. Which is why I wanted to go to sleep early. YOU GUESSED IT another sleepless night. The dumb twat room mate didn’t pack most of his stuff. He packed later in the night because he felt left out if he didn’t go for drinks the night before, so he finished packing while I was sleeping, slamming everything as if…and surprise…as if I wasn’t there sleeping.

And because of that, my flight back home was difficult and a pain.

The cruise arrived at 6am, I took the shuttle bus ($40 extra) to get to the Barcelona airport, and this time I was early…3 hours early. And it was damn hot in the Barcelona airport. I was sweating so much that I had to change clothes in the baby parent diaper change room, whatever you call them. I checked in and the Air Canada agent asked me if I was willing to stay an extra night in Barcelona, if so, Air Canada will pay for my hotel and give me spending money, I don’t know if I heard him correctly but I think he said $600 which sounds a lot. I respectively declined. I was ready to go home and I was tired from lack of sleep that night, I was tired. Then suddenly my luggage was over by 2 lbs so he had to charge me $100 for it, but he was nice enough to put a Priority sticker on my luggage, which is used for 1st class/Business/(Premium Economy in this case) passengers, it means your luggage is put on the baggage belt first when you arrive at your destination, which saves time, especially on a full flight of 280 people.

Shit..if I knew Air Canada would of been that greedy charging me an extra $100 for 2lbs of extra baggage I would of taken that bath robe from the closet in my cabin

I had very rough time on the airplane. I was really cranky that when I got to my seat on the plane and needed to put my carry on in the storage above my seat which  was supposed to be for the seat below, someone’s carry-on was already there . So I asked people and no one claimed it, I got fed up and said if the person doesn’t move their luggage I’ll move it for them, that’s when the Flight Attendant stepped in and moved it. Why wasn’t I that aggressive with the dumb twat room mate?

My suggestion to anyone who travels, get proper sleep before going on the plane otherwise it will be one bad long flight and if you had shared your room with a dumb twat loser just dump his sorry ass overboard…OPPS!

On the plane, I was looking at my watch every hour on the hour…”shit 6 more hours”…”fuck man 5 more hours..seriously??” “any slower 4 more hours!!!”…”how about making those engine go faster”.

I have to add this because I give credit when due, there was a couple with their toddler in the middle section beside me, and they were the most considerate parents I’ve seen, especially traveling on the plane. The father held the toddler during the entire 9 hours of flight from Barcelona to Toronto, he made sure the baby and wife were comfortable, took care of the child so that the child wouldn’t cry. He seemed a good husband and father. I mention this because I’ve been a plane sitting beside parents who didn’t give a rats ass if their kids made noise, let them cry, scream and all that monkey stuff if they could. And even off the plane, day to day people just don’t teach their kids manners or respect. Parents don’t realize it makes them look like a lousy parent.

I looked at my watch again,”OMG 3 more hours, what the hell!!”…and that’s when the guy beside me started a conversation ( I was sitting in aisle seat, plane was 2-3-2 seats). And we chatted up a storm..told him about my experience, he told me Atlantis is known for those type of cruises and told me about another gay cruise RSVP. And the 3 hours was done.

Will I go on a cruise again? Maybe. But I’m one of those people who likes experience new things. So it’s very unlikely.

YOU LIVE AND HOPEFULLY LEARN

I’m over it!

THE END

Is Homophobia a Religious or a Psychological Issue?

“My faith won’t allow me to ACCEPT what took place over the weekend! Sorry, NOT sorry! #AdamAndEve #NotAdamAndAdam.” -Maurice Price

Maurice Price was not the only pro football player to express an anti-gay attitude following the drafting of Michael Sam, the first openly gay person to be drafted into the NFL.

Price defended his comments by referencing his religious beliefs. He is a Christian and since Christianity considers homosexuality to be a sin, then condemning homosexuality is fair. He is not alone in this regard as a common defense of homophobia is that it has more to do with defending one’s religious values than attacking a minority group.

Historically, prejudice of any kind could be freely expressed with few repercussions (emotional, legal, or otherwise) so long as there was a reasonable justification. Religion has often served as the justification, and has therefore facilitated an array of prejudice, from racism to sexism to homophobia.

Over time, the use of religious beliefs to justify prejudice has tended to decline, but still persists — especially when it comes to homosexuality.

Whether one can defend homophobia on religious grounds is a topic unto itself. But let’s imagine for the sake of argument that one could defend a prejudiced opinion on the basis of religion. Were such a position defensible, it would be necessary to ensure that the homophobia was motivated solely by religious values, as opposed to psychological factors.

The difficulty facing those who wish to defend their sexual prejudice is that psychological research has shown that homophobia tends to be much more complicated than the picture painted by Maurice Price and others who argue they are simply expressing their religious values.

Why So Mad?….

Before even discussing the psychological research, we can draw inferences about a person’s psychology based solely on their emotional responses to homosexuality. We can fairly assume that non-religious factors are motivating prejudice when there is a stark discrepancy between someone’s moral outrage and the relative seriousness of the sin.

There are hundreds of laws and principles discussed in the bible and they are not all equal. We know that some are more important because of clear demarcations (ex: The Ten Commandments) or because some rules receive more attention than others.

For example, eating shellfish is less serious a sin than adultery given that the latter appears as one of the 10 commandments and receives attention throughout the bible via important figures. Conversely, despite being forbidden in the Old Testament, shellfish are not discussed in the ten commandments, and rarely does one read of Jesus discussing their place in the moral landscape.

We would expect people’s psychological reactions to moral violations to be commensurate with the seriousness of the violation itself.

For example, if someone is more offended by someone eating shellfish than adultery, it tells us more about the person (ex: perhaps they’re vegan!) because this type of reaction is not consistent with the underlying values of the religion.

Indeed, such a reaction implies something specific about the psychology of that individual.

So, when a person expresses disgust and outrage toward a homosexual and only a mild rebuke of an adulterer, it tells us that something else is likely driving their reaction. Homosexuality is not one of the 10 commandments, does not receive much attention throughout the bible, and Jesus never addresses the issue.

A Psychological Profile of Homophobia

First, as with other forms of prejudice, those who hold anti-gay beliefs are more likely to be older, less educated, live in a rural area, and to have less contact with homosexuals. If religious values were the sole determinant of homophobia, then we would expect all religious individuals to hold the same view, regardless of these factors.

Second, those who hold authoritarian beliefs are also more likely to be homophobic. People who are highly authoritarian hold a strict belief in the need for social order and conformity to rules. They also tend to be especially intolerant of people who violate their concept of social order, and having this personality trait — which is related to, but distinct from religiosity — increases the likelihood of sexual prejudice.

Third, there is an interesting gender difference when it comes to homophobia. Heterosexual men are much more hostile and prejudiced toward gay and bisexual men than are women.

There is good reason to believe that this bias occurs because heterosexual men are often highly motivated to protect their masculine identity. In fact, experimental studies have shown that when you intentionally threaten men’s sense of their own masculinity it causes them to act aggressively toward gay men.

This psychological tendency may help explain the homophobic reactions of men who play football. The very idea that a gay man could out-play and even out-hit you must be very threatening for men who idealize masculinity.

Given that homophobic men tend to overcompensate in response to masculinity threats, I leave it to the reader to supply their own analysis of what motivates Vladamir Putin’s predilection for shirtless photos.

Homophobia may also serve useful psychological functions as well. For example, when someone’s self-esteem or identity is fragile, then attacking someone else could help to repair the damage by making oneself feel superior.

As you can see, homophobia and its expression can be complicated, and often involves more than just a simple one-to-one expression of religious conviction.

Expressing Values

It is important to point out that not all religious believers exhibit sexual prejudice. I have met many people with strong religious convictions who fully support gay rights. They consider such belief in equality to be an expression of their religious beliefs, as there are certainly biblical passages that refer to loving one’s neighbour.

Which raises a key question — why is it more important to defend a law dealing with sexual orientation than it is to defend laws of love and nonjudgment toward others?

The answer to such a question is likely to say more about one’s psychological profile than their religious affiliation.

WIND Mobile ~ The never ending hassle

Wind Mobile has been in Canada since 2009 and according to Google is the 4th largest wireless company in Canada, most likely 4th after Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Lately, I’ve noticed the very enticing plans Wind Mobile has $40 for All Inclusive service (data and voice etc). Except for Mobilicity, no other provider offers unlimited data at a cheap price of $40/month which also includes calls to Canada and USA wide.

The companies mentioned above charge $80 for Canada Wide and only 500MB of data. The prices increased when CRTC ruled that 3 yr contracts are too long, the carriers had to change contracts from 3 years to 2 in turn increasing the prices to their plans.

So I thought I should give WIND a try.

!!BIG MISTAKE!!

But god kept pushing me back..and I swear I heard  “Noo, my child…stay away..if not I will make it difficult for you and you will see the troubles as an indication to stay clear from them.” No I am not religious.

I could be stubborn at times and I ignored the signs.

It might be cheap, but the customer service is…for the lack of better explicit words…CRAP!

I’ve had service and experience with numerous wireless companies in my time; Rogers, Bell, Koodo, Mobilicity, Fido, Virgin Mobile and now Wind Mobile. From all of the mentioned companies Wind Mobile is the worst company I’ve dealt with. And that’s not even including using their services yet, this is just from getting the phone and exchanging it then cancelling it to go on on their no tab plan.

Last week I went to buy the HTC ONE M8 phone for $199 on their $60 tab plan. No problems there.

The next day I changed my mind and wanted to exchange the phone for an older cheaper phone, the Nexus5 for $99 on their $50 plan. This took one hour of my time and this is not including waiting in line. The rep who was assisting me couldn’t do it because he wasn’t trained to so I had to wait for the one rep who knew how to. So when it came to my turn the so-called trained rep had to call in to their support desk to do the transaction, when they call the support centre they have t verify it’s the owner of the account and need to speak to me to confirm I’m the customer making the transaction. The in store rep already confirmed I’m the person by checking my ID. So obviously WIND does not trust their employee’s or give them any authority to make changes to a customers account.

After 1/2 hour, I was refunded the $199 for the HTC ONE M8 and then charged my credit card for the $99 for the Nexus 5, but their process is, they bill my wireless account and I pay for it right away. Every other company just refunds me, credits me back on my credit card.

So, today I changed my mind again because I managed to get my own phone to use on their network, so I dreaded going back but WOW their plans are damn good, why not? So, I went back to the their store. There was one employee, and SURPRISE she didn’t know how to do a return so she asked if I wanted to wait for her employee to come back from break, I said fine. So the employee returns, and YES another surprise he had to call support to do the return and put me on a different plan, he called his support 3 times. He then called his manager to ask how to process the transaction. So while he briefly spoke to him and had the support centre on hold, the support centre hung up on him and he called them back, each time he called they had to verify my name and DOB. So, since I already knew the process, he passed me the phone I already knew what to say and I passed the phone back.

And that process went on for 90 mins. I got fed up and told him to cancel my service altogether. Since I was quite irritable I vented.

He said they couldn’t refund me because it was a bill payment charge for the phone. I later learned from another store that a case had to be opened for refund. A case to be opened for a refund??? Lord have mercy.

I give people and companies chances, many times more than I should. So, I drove to another Wind Mobile store. And told them what I wanted, easy process, had to pay $25 for a new SIM card, the other companies charge $10. The other companies simply transfer the number to to the new SIM card but NOT Windy Mobile.

So, tonight I get home I looked for the SIM card they gave me and low and behold the package was opened and the SIM card was missing. I did not pay attention when I walked out of the store that the package was opened and the SIM was missing. No wonder she handed the new paperwork and she placed the SIM card between the papers. Just WOW.

So tomorrow, I have to drive back to the store (cars become handy in situations like this, imagine if I didn’t have one and I’m going to different Wind Mobile stores to get service a customer deserves) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t believe me. REALLY? Because it would be stupid to lie about some SIM card.

What I should add is this; I haven’t cancelled my service with my previous provider yet because I wanted to test out this Wind Mobile….. crap. It’s on it’s own network using AWS technology and they’re not as big as the other guys, so less towers = possibly not good reception.

I also called the call centre and asked how do I get that $99 refund, she had to put me on hold and had to ask her supervisor, I was told to email my receipt that I returned the phone. ARE YOU FUCKIN SERIOUS???

Call me crazy but all this should of been a seamless and smooth experience and something that shouldn’t take 2 hours to do. Nor should it of been a stressful situation.

Call me CRAZY that I’m still giving them a chance.

I will freak if they give me issues on this missing SIM card. Don’t worry I’m not violent.

Toronto mom sentenced to 6 years for daughter’s death

**NEWS FLASH to all those parents who shouldn’t be parents!***  Beating or torturing your child to teach them a lesson DOES NOT TEACH them a lesson, you stupid dumbfucks! Why do these idiots not get it??

A horrible parent beats and tortures her child and is sentenced to jail for just 6 years, ONLY SIX FUCKIN YEARS!! to be be shortened to 1/4. I really hope this sick and pathetic woman rots in jail and I hope she gets beaten and tortured in jail bu those jailhouse bitches.. for her to feel the pain and anguish that her child went through. Once she’s out she needs to be deported to that country from which she came from and never see Canada again. Parents like her piss me right off.  How can anyone do this to child? Something I could never comprehend. If a child is misbehaving or is “bad”, look within YOURSELF and realize YOU’RE the problem. Violence towards children, child abuse sickens me. I am going to sound crazy for second but…SUFFER BITCH….SUFFER! Just the way your child did.

And the Canadian justice system just locks her up for 6 years!! JUST 6 YEARS!  Pathetic as this woman.

Why do they even have a “justice system”  when people who do this despicable acts of crime goes to jail for a few years? Hang the bitch by her CUNT! (The evil comes out when I hear these stories).

Sabrina Siconolfi blinked back tears and looked over her shoulder at her parents as she was led from court in handcuffs to begin a 6-year-sentence for criminal negligence in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Sakina Abdurahman.

It was the first strong display of emotion on Friday in the University Ave. courthouse for Siconolfi, 32, who earlier begged Justice Ian Nordheimer to return her to her three surviving children.

Before the judge announced her sentence, he noted that Sakina’s tiny body was covered with wounds — including at least 34 bruises to her back and lower limbs and a bite mark — when paramedics arrived at the family’s apartment on Victoria Park Avenue on July 9, 2010.

“There’s no group in our society who is more defenceless and therefore more deserving of our protection, than children, especially infants,” Nordheimer said.

Forensic specialist Dr. Michael Pollanen concluded the Sakina died of heat stroke during a severe summer heat wave, but that her multiple injuries contributed to her death.

Her injuries also included widespread fresh bruising and abrasions to her scalp and face and a healing fracture in her right ribs.

Siconolfi had sole custody of Sakina and her younger brother while an older child was in the care of her parents. Siconolfi was seven months pregnant with a fourth child at the time of Sakina’s death.

Nordheimer gave her credit for 128 days in custody before she was freed on house arrest. She will immediately begin serving a prison term.

Defence lawyers Tyler Smith and Todd Morris had argued for a three-year term and extended parole, with a year’s credit for time served.

Crown attorneys Jason Gorda and Dominique Kennedy sought a seven-year penitentiary term.

Kennedy told the judge that Siconolfi has repeatedly lied to authorities and shown no remorse. “She’s the one person that Sakina was supposed to be able to rely upon to keep her safe,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy noted that Siconolfi waited an hour and applied makeup to her daughter’s body in an attempt to hide bruises on the day of her death.

“This is not a one-time mistake,” Kennedy said. “This is not a slip-up. This is not an impulsive act. This is something that occurred over a long period of time.”

Smith argued that his client was in the throes of a serious depression at the time of Sakina’s death, brought on in part by physical, emotional and sexual abuse from former partners.

He added that she was so cash-strapped that she couldn’t afford an air-conditioning unit.

Siconolfi told the judge she wanted another chance to be a good mother.

“I hope that you do give me the right to rehabilitate myself,” she said before the judge passed sentence. “I have three other children . . . My parents are getting older. They’re not going to be able to raise them for long. They’re going to need me back again.”

“Looking back, I do realize the mistakes and bad choices that I made,” she said.

Why is it so hard to hook up in Toronto?

All a long I’ve been blaming myself on why I’ve been single forever, it’s got to be me, than I realized it’s just not that, it’s the people in Toronto. And finally many, many people have gave me confirmation I am not the problem. Thank you. Toronto just sucks.

Why is it so hard to hook up in Toronto?

Is there something particular about our city that makes courtship especially difficult here? We present four theories.

Last month, a New York Times article declaring the “end of courtship” went viral.

The piece’s central lamentation—that technology has usurped romance, or, as one interview subject put it, that dating has devolved into “a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy”—probably resonates, in some way, with the average Torontonian single.

But the more relevant conversation to be had here in Toronto is about how, arguably, we’ve never, as a city, experienced anything more than a tepid pick-up culture.

In fact, the rise of digital communication notwithstanding, Toronto has earned something of a reputation for being particularly un-flirtatious—a phenomenon that residents from more sexually aggressive Canadian cities, like Montreal and Halifax, are often quick to bemoan.

The question is, why? What is it about Torontonians—or Toronto itself—that makes it so unlikely to get hit on offline, out in the public sphere?

After conferring with a number of twenty and thirty-something Toronto dwellers across lines of gender and sexual orientation, plus an expert or two, I’ve assembled a list of possible explanations:

1. Our keep-to-yourself culture: Known for being rigid, arms-crossed concertgoers and eerily silent transit riders, it follows that Torontonians are reserved when it comes to displays of spontaneous, romantic interest, lacking the requisite ballsiness to approach a stranger.

This isn’t to say that individuals are necessarily aloof, but the mores of our quite-large city have ingrained a culture of shame around talking to strangers without a “practical” purpose—and that includes flirting.

“It’s been my feeling here that people aren’t really receptive to being casually asked out in person,” says Peter, 30, a Toronto social-work student who primarily uses online dating to meet women.

“I feel like if I just walked up to someone in a bar, it wouldn’t be considered ‘normal.’ There’s no kind of known social codes around it. I wouldn’t know if the person was single, or if it would be awkward. Basically, I’d feel like a sleazeball.”

Samantha Joel is a Ph.D student in the psychology department at the University of Toronto. Her research includes analyzing how people make decisions about romantic relationships.

“I would say there’s a strong social norm in Toronto to keep to oneself in public spaces, to not make eye contact or start up conversation,” she notes.

“It’s seen as very peculiar if someone breaks these norms, and even seen as a sign they wouldn’t be a good potential partner. If a stranger expresses interest, I think people here respond to it with suspicion, and might see it as an indicator that the person isn’t completely stable.”

So, not only are we afraid to break the tacitly agreed-upon code of silence, but we may well be perceived as creepy if we do it to express romantic interest.

2. Water, water everywhere: Full disclosure: the majority of individuals I interviewed who complained about Toronto’s lack of sexual aggressiveness were relatively young, professional, heterosexual women, some of whom perceived that the romantic odds in Toronto were stacked against them.

Priya, 35, a Toronto-based freelance writer, observed that heterosexual men outside of Toronto—both in other Canadian cities and abroad—were much more forward.

“Guys in Toronto are spoiled; there are a lot of attractive women here, so men have a perceived notion of abundance, of the interchangeability of women—an ‘I don’t want to be tied down with this one when I can get this one,’ kind of thing,” she says.

She adds that the onus is on women, too, but that she’s never had much luck with asking out a guy she didn’t know.

Heather, 26, recently moved to Toronto from Halifax to attend graduate school.

“Because there are so many people in Toronto, everyone thinks about their other ‘options’ and not about what’s right in front of them,” she observes. “Halifax is small; you know what the dating pool’s like and egos aren’t as big, so people are more willing to put themselves out there.”

Shannon Tebb, owner of the Toronto dating-consulting service Shanny in the City, is a professional dating consultant, matchmaker, and life coach.

“There is lots of competition in this big city—beautiful women are a dime a dozen,” she says, suggesting that Toronto’s straight men may have something of an advantage. Assuming there is truth to this phenomenon, it doesn’t exactly encourage pride-on-the-line courting of strangers.

There’s even some statistical evidence to support this claim: According to the 2010 Statistics Canada census, women accounted for 50.4 per cent of Canada’s total population; in Toronto, the total number of women exceeded that percentage, albeit slightly, making up 50.9 per cent of the city’s inhabitants.

Further, StatsCan data from 2011 shows that, between 2006 and 2011, most provinces and territories saw increases in the number of women aged 20 to 34; in downtown Toronto, the existence of large financial, governmental, health, and educational institutions has made the proportion of working-age people exceed the national average.

One could extrapolate, then, that Toronto is particularly full of youngish people and especially youngish women (whether or not they’re interested in men), giving straight men the sense of having boundless options.

And when you’re not straight? Duncan, a 26-year-old student originally from Nova Scotia, says meeting someone in Toronto is easier than in a place like Halifax.

“Being in a bigger city’s better when you’re gay—though I do agree that out in the public sphere, Torontonians are really standoffish.”

3. We’re work-obsessed: Torontonians have a reputation for being career-focussed to a fault. Mary-Ann, 32, is a public servant originally from Quebec. Though she now lives in Montreal, she spent the last seven years in Toronto.

“I had a huge learning curve with Toronto dating,” she says. “I was used to a dating climate where things are more straightforward. In Montreal, for example, you’ll be in a liquor store or convenience store and there’s this constant flow of flirtatiousness—it’s just more part of the everyday. I didn’t get those little gems in Toronto.”

She wonders if it’s because Torontonains are simply more stressed out.

“People work their asses off in Toronto because it’s such an expensive city—the rent is so expensive.”

Shannon Tebb believes the sheer number of pedestrians that one passes each day makes it tough to connect with anyone. “The constant hustle and bustle tends to limit one from stopping and taking the time to notice an individual passing by. This notion of always being in a hurry, not taking the time to relax and enjoy sitting in the park, can really reduce your chances of finding love.”

Indeed, we may be tenser in Toronto than those in a smaller, more inexpensive city like Montreal. And, compared to a bustling yet engaging city like New York, we’re further burdened by our aforementioned, almost crippling sense of social reserve.

4. The 2 a.m. Syndrome: Some of the people I spoke with argued that, while getting hit on in a Toronto bar isn’t a total rarity, the way in which it often happens is a turn-off. Priya says Toronto’s bar scene suffers from “2 a.m. syndrome.”

“Last call hits, the level of drunkenness and energy changes, and people are seriously on the make. And then you are in danger of the gross come-on,” she says.

Perhaps we can’t win, then, and perhaps these generalizations are too vast to be relatable. And yet, I stand by the claim that, on balance, Toronto mores make it a particularly tough place to meet someone organically—outside of the internet, through mutual friends, or an old-fashioned blind set-up.

So before mourning the end of courtship entirely, perhaps we Torontonians should first contemplate why we failed to be a good pick-up city from the get-go.

IQ ‘a myth,’ study says

The idea that intelligence can be measured by a single number — your IQ — is wrong, according to a recent study led by researchers at the University of Western Ontario.

The study, published in the journal Neuron on Wednesday, involved 100,000 participants around the world taking 12 cognitive tests, with a smaller sample of the group undergoing simultaneous brain-scan testing.

“When we looked at the data, the bottom line is the whole concept of IQ — or of you having a higher IQ than me — is a myth,” said Dr. Adrian Owen, the study’s senior investigator and the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at the university’s Brain and Mind Institute. “There is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence.”

Rather, the study determined three factors — reasoning, short-term memory and verbal ability — that combined to create human intelligence or “cognitive profile.”

IQ testing is used by many educators to measure intelligence, including in public schools in Ontario.

The researchers advertised their tests through New Scientist magazine and on discovery.com. Word quickly spread around the world, far surpassing the expectations of researchers, who expected only a few thousand participants. It became the largest online study on intelligence, allowing them to gather data across demographic, age and gender lines.

The scientists also used brain-scanning (fMRIs) on some of the subjects. “If there is something in the brain that is IQ, we should be able to find it by scanning. But it turns out there is no one area in the brain that accounts for people’s so-called IQ. In fact, there are three completely different networks that respond — verbal abilities, reasoning abilities and short-term memory abilities — that are in quite different parts of the brain,” Owen said.

Among the study’s other findings:

• While aging has a detrimental effect on reasoning and short-term memory, it leaves verbal abilities “completely unimpaired.”

• Smoking has a negative impact on verbal abilities and short-term memory but does not affect reasoning skills.

• People who play video games performed “significantly better” in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory.

• Products that are advertised to improve brain function aren’t effective. “People who ‘brain-train’ are no better at any of these three aspects of intelligence than people who don’t,” Owen said.

People can still take the tests at cambridgebrainsciences.com/theIQchallenge. Owen said he hopes that 1 million people across the globe will eventually participate.

Eating more of this will help you lose weight..

Looking for a more effective way to drop pounds? Swap out carbs for protein. People who follow high-protein diets may have more success losing weight than those who eat less protein and more carbohydrates, says research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

We’d prefer a juicy steak instead.

Researchers pooled results from 24 past trials that put subjects on reduced-calorie, low-fat diets. Half of the subjects were assigned to a high-protein diet (on average, about 120 grams of protein per day), while the other half consumed a standard-protein diet (on average, about 67 grams per day).

Both diets had an average energy intake, for males and females, of 1,550 calories per day, says study author Thomas Wycherley, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow from the University of South Australia in Adelaide. But over an average of 12 weeks, people who followed the high-protein diet lost 1.7 pounds more than those in the standard-protein group.

You may lose more weight on a high-protein diet because your body spends more energy processing dietary protein than it does carbohydrates, Wycherley says.

Think of it this way: If you eat 100 calories of protein, your body will burn about 20 to 30 of those calories while processing the protein, says Wycherley. Compare that to 100 calories of carbs, and your body only burns about 5 to 10 calories.

Another reason for the weight loss may be because protein helps preserve muscle mass. And since muscle mass burns more calories than other types of mass, the additional calorie burn could result in a decrease in weight. (Looking for the best sources of protein for men? Try these 5 Protein-Packed Gym Snacks.)

So how much protein does the average guy need?

Men between the ages of 19 and 70 should shoot for 56 grams per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet most adults would benefit from eating more than the recommended daily intake, says Donald Layman, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois.

Here’s how to put it into perspective: Highly trained athletes thrive on 0.77 grams of daily protein per pound of body weight. That’s 139 grams for a 180-pound man, says Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., Ph.D., who studies exercise and nutrition at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Want to make it work for you? Step on a scale, be honest with yourself about your workout regimen, and check out the following chart.

And if you only hit the gym twice a week for around 30 minutes, you’re in the clear. According to Dr. Tarnopolsky, there’s no need to go beyond the recommended daily amount if you’re not highly active.

Connecticut school shooting: When evil stalked the corridors

connecticut“Our hearts are broken today …”

A president wept for his nation. A nation weeps for its children.

Little ones: 5 and 6 years old, 7 and 8, 9 and 10.

Twenty of them, shot to death, victims of one more lone gunman, yet another in the grim annals of American mass murderers who turn their incomprehensible, inchoate rage on innocents, randomly extinguishing lives, on this occasion evil stalking the corridors of a small-town elementary school in Connecticut.

Each time, the boundaries of the unimaginable are pushed further into the realm of sinister and barbaric and explosively nihilistic. It is a grandiose infamy by intent, the sickened preying on the defenceless.

To ask why is to extract sense from the senseless. There isn’t any.

Eighteen youngsters pronounced dead at the scene. Six adults slain — teachers, principal, guidance counsellor. Two more children succumbed to their injuries in hospital. Shooter dead, presumably of a self-inflicted gunshot. His mother dead at another location, believed to be the shooter’s residence. A brother taken in for questioning in New Jersey, handcuffed.

On Friday morning, a day like any other, parents had dropped their kids off at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, a postcard-pretty New England hamlet about 90 kilometres northeast of New York City, seemingly on the other side of the moon from targeted catastrophic violence.

Within the hour, in horror and disbelief, they were receiving robocalls and text messages of a crisis unfolding at the school, shots fired, lockdown, come now.

Local police got the 911 call just after 9:30 a.m. Screeching to the scene, sirens blaring, cops and troopers entered immediately. “Their focus was to search for students, faculty and staff,” said Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police. “They did search every nook and cranny and every portion of that school.”

What they encountered was monstrous.

The carnage was concentrated in two classrooms in one section of the building.

The shooter — identified in media reports as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, son of a Sandy Hook teacher — seemingly knew where he was headed and zeroed in, firing repeatedly, round after round, shell casings ejecting, strewn across the floor.

He was dressed in black battle fatigues and a military vest, according to a CNN source.

The weapons, as details begin to emerge, though not yet confirmed by authorities: a .223 Bushmaster (a military-style semi-automatic rifle) and two pistols, a Sig Sauer and a Glock.

A scream was heard over the intercom, one child later recounted.

One teacher mustered students into a room and locked the door.

Alarmed parents jumping into their cars, descended on the kindergarten to Grade 4 school, rushing with pounding hearts from homes and offices.

In the Inferno section of The Divine Comedy, Dante describes “the anteroom to Hell” as a vestibule for souls in limbo. On this morning, in Newtown, Hell’s anteroom was the local fire hall, where anguished parents, grandparents and siblings were directed to await the most wrenching of news.

My child? Mine? Mine? Mine?

Eighteen little bodies that need to be formally identified by the medical examiner.

Twenty-seven fatalities in all, and a vice-principal injured.

Safety is an illusion. Children can’t always be protected from harm, no matter how vigilant their families and teachers. At this school, there were magnetic locks on the door and visitors had to be buzzed in from the office — after 9:30 a.m.

But who could have envisioned such a horror? Even in a country where mass shootings are hardly unknown, including those in schools, to unleash deranged wrath at elementary school-age kids, the most vulnerable and defenceless among us, is beyond the sociopathic pale.

“An ordinary kid,” said one friend of the suspected shooter.

It’s so frequently the same epitaph for those who commit massacre: benign and banal individuals to the outside world, something dreadful roiling beneath.

“You can never be prepared for this kind of incident,” Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy told reporters as local churches began arranging memorial services. “What has happed, what has transpired at this school building, will leave a mark on this community and every family impacted.”

Children who survived the frenzy of bullets emerged from the school afterwards, the youngest walking with their hands placed on each other’s shoulders, lucky ones reunited with parents overcome by relief.

One boy was delivering the attendance record to the office when the chaos erupted: “I saw some of the bullets … going back into the hall that I was right next to, and then a teacher pulled me into her classroom.”

His mother, stroking her son’s hair: “I’m just so grateful to the teacher who saved him. He had bullets going by and she pulled him and another child into a classroom.”

Mergim Bajraliu, a 17-year-old high school student, said he was at home nearby when he heard two shots.

He and a neighbour ran to the school to find his 9-year-old sister, Venesa, a fourth-grader.

What he saw were two students covered in blood being carried out of the building, one of whom looked like his sister.

“My heart sank,” he said.

Then he spotted her unharmed and wrapped her in a tearful embrace. “I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ ”

A youngster told NBC: “I was in the gym and I heard, like, loud booms and the gym teacher told us to go in the corner and we huddled. We all heard these booming noises and started crying. So the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us. Then a police officer told us to run outside.”

Another teacher yanked students into a washroom.

Richard Wilfrid, a shaken parent: “I could try to explain it, but I’m sure I would fail. There’s no words that I could come up with that would even come close to describing the sheer terror of hearing that your son is in a place, or your child’s in a place, where there’s been violence. You don’t know the details of that violence, you don’t know the condition of your child and you can’t do anything to immediately help them or protect them. It is a powerless and terrifying experience.’’

Fear, as related by 8-year-old Alexis Wasik, a third-grader: “Everybody was crying. I was a little scared and felt sick to my stomach.”

Her mother, Lynn: “I am still in a daze. My heart is in a million pieces for the children.”

Friday’s attack was the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. school since a 2007 sniper attack at Virginia Tech left 32 people dead.

A country turns reddened eyes to its consoler-in-chief.

“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,’’ an emotional President Barack Obama told a news conference. “And each time I learn the news I react not as a president but as anyone else would, as a parent. That was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in American who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.”

Obama had to halt to compose himself, wiping tears from his eyes.

“They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own …”

Again, Obama had to stop and swallow hard.

“As a country, we have been through this too many times, whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theatre in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago. These neighbourhoods are our neighbourhoods, and these children are our children.’’

Obama said he, like other parents, would go and hug his daughters a little tighter.

But for the parents of 20 murdered children, there is nothing but the yawning ache of a lifetime unfolding ahead without their precious lost kids.

“May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds.”

Deadliest disases linked to excess body weight

What do heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer have in common? Scientists have linked each of these to a condition known as chronic inflammation, and they are studying how high-fat foods and excess body weight may increase the risk for fatal disorders.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and outside irritants. But when the irritants don’t let up, because of a diet of high-fat foods, too much body fat and smoking, for example, the immune system can spiral out of control and increase the risk for disease. Experts say when inflammation becomes chronic it can damage heart valves and brain cells, trigger strokes, and promote resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes. It also is associated with the development of cancer.

Much of the research on chronic inflammation has focused on fighting it with drugs, such as cholesterol-lowering statins for heart disease. A growing body of research is revealing how abdominal fat and an unhealthy diet can lead to inflammation. Some scientists are investigating how certain components in foods might help. Dietary fiber from whole grains, for instance, may play a protective role against inflammation, a recent study found. And dairy foods may help ease inflammation in patients with a combination of risk factors.

The Wall Street Journal

Chronic inflammation is perhaps best understood in its relation to cardiovascular disease. The immune system’s white blood cells rush to the arteries when the blood vessels are besieged by low density lipoprotein, or LDL—the “bad” cholesterol. The cells embed themselves in the artery wall and gobble up the invading cholesterol, causing damage to the arteries that can lead to heart attack or stroke.

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“You need to have inflammation when you have a wound and the immune system goes in to heal it. Yet we don’t want too much inflammation in our system causing damage to our arteries” and other harm, says Wendy Weber, a program director at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health.

One significant discovery concerns obesity and the ways it promotes inflammation. Fat cells, particularly those in the visceral fat that settles in the belly and around organs, were long thought merely to store excess weight. Instead, fat cells act like small factories to churn out molecules known as cytokines, which set inflammation in motion, says Peter Libby, chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School.

“We’ve learned that abdominal fat tissue is a hotbed of inflammation that pours out all kinds of inflammatory molecules,” Dr. Libby says. The most important step patients can take is to lose excess weight, which can reduce inflammation in a matter of weeks or months, he says.

A substance known as C-reactive protein, measured with a simple blood test, is an indicator of inflammation in the body. A report published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007, which analyzed results of 33 separate studies, found that losing weight can lower C-reactive protein levels. For each one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of weight loss, whether by dieting, exercise or surgery, the mean reduction in C-reactive protein among participants was 0.13 milligram per liter.

According to the American Heart Association, a C-reactive protein level of less than 1 mg/L indicates a low risk of cardiovascular disease, 1 to 3 mg/L indicates moderate risk, and greater than 3 mg/L equals high risk. Doctors increasingly are ordering the test for patients at moderate risk for heart disease.

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At a meeting in Quebec City last week on abdominal obesity and its health risks, experts in cardiology, endocrinology, nutrition and related specialties presented a wide range of new research linking obesity to inflammation-related diseases.

A number of nutritionists and physicians have developed anti-inflammatory diets. Christopher Cannon, a Harvard professor of medicine, co-wrote “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Anti-Inflammation Diet.” Dr. Cannon says his recommended diet is based on both the Mediterranean diet and a Healthy Eating Pyramid developed at Harvard University. This encourages consuming whole-grain foods, unsaturated fats such as plant oils, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, poultry, eggs and moderate amounts of dairy foods. It also suggests avoiding as much as possible red meat, butter, sweets and white foods such as rice, potatoes and pasta.

Still, there is little evidence to support any specific diet to protect against inflammation, says Dr. Cannon. “If you weigh 300 pounds and eat healthy, the weight will still counter any beneficial foods you are eating,” Dr. Cannon says.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming both omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish like salmon and canola oil, and omega-6 fatty acids, found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils such as corn oil. But investigators are still studying the roles each may play in promoting or controlling inflammation.

In one study, researchers at Vanderbilt University are focusing on whether omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of colorectal cancers and diminish the production of inflammatory molecules. Principal investigator Harvey Murff says many Americans consume far more omega-6 fatty acids, and one aim is to determine a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Greater dietary fiber consumption was associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein and other markers in the blood that signal inflammation, according to a new study involving nearly 600 adolescents published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Norman Pollock, a researcher at Georgia Health Sciences University and a co-author of the study, says one explanation may be that fiber is associated with higher levels of a protein hormone that improves insulin sensitivity, which in turn lowers levels of inflammation.

A combination of nutrients found in dairy food may also help ease inflammation in patients at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In a 40-patient study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, patients who were given 3½ servings of dairy daily over 12 weeks showed reductions in several markers of inflammation compared with a group given just half a serving of dairy per day. The first group also showed reduced blood pressure. Michael Zemel, a co-author of the study and professor emeritus at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Nutrition, says three daily servings of dairy containing whey and its nutrients could help guard against inflammation. He recommends low-fat milk or yogurt.

New research funded by the National Institutes of Health is looking at the relationship of diet, inflammation and cancer.

“Cancer is caused by many different processes and inflammation is one of them, and if you could inhibit that process it would be tremendously helpful,” says Young S. Kim, program director in the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute.