Saturday, April 29, 2006


The Game

And the race hits ten. Ken "Eight Minute Sound Byte" Dryden is in the race to replace Martin.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Credit where it is due

Stephen Harper deserves some credit for his pivotal role in the negotiation of the softwood lumber deal between Canada and the United States. Harper did what two subsequent Liberal administrations could not do, seal the deal. Harper managed to get both countries and three provinces to see the benefits of the deal and for that he deserves full marks.

The other thing that is impressive was that Harper managed to talk tough to the provinces with a minority. This is something Martin would never have dreamed of, the guy was too busy chasing polls and the G20. Harper is letting the provinces know who is in charge and that they don't call the shots.

The softwood deal has warts, but it is as good as we were going to get. The United States has no interest in *free trade* and it is time to take the $4 billion and make the industry stronger and retrain some of the displaced.

Hats off to Harper. He appears to be on the other side of the minority - posed to turn it into a majority. He is unlikely to fall victim to the same fate that met Paul Martin.


Banana: An Atheist's Nightmare??

Kirk Cameron is back at with his crazy Christian dribble. Cameron and Act now and let evangelist Ray Comfort are preaching about fruit.

The Way of Master is here.

The other Cameron classic is here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Captain Morgan

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's recent choice for Chair of the Public Appointments Commission, Calgary oil executive Gwyn Morgan, is drawing mixed reviews.

Morgan, was recently named Canada's most respected CEO in a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid last year. He was also given the Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2006 by the University of Victoria. Finally, he was a finalist for Ambassador to the United States to Michael Wilson.

All of these qualifications don't impress some opposition MPs. Liberal MP Navdeep Bains is concerned that a person so close to the Conservative Party would head the appointments commission. Bains, the MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, told Canadian Press that Morgan had been openly critical of the Liberal party in a speech to the Empire Club two months ago.

Mr. Bains needs to realize that the Liberals aren't in government anymore and they no longer get to call the shots. Opposition is like the penalty box or consolation at a beauty pageant - it is a time for reflection.

Mr. Morgan does however have a few skeletons. He has publicly blamed immigrants from certain regions of the world for violence in Canada.

"Immigration has a social side as well as an economic one," he said. "The social side is all too evident with the runaway violence driven mainly by Jamaican immigrants in Toronto, or the all-too-frequent violence between Asian and other ethnic gangs right here in Calgary."

Poverty, police discrimination and lack of opportunity are not the root of this violence, he explained. The cause is that "the vast majority of violent, lawless immigrants come from countries where the culture is dominated by violence and lawlessness. Jamaica has one of the world's highest crime rates driven mainly by the violence between gangs competing for dominance in the Caribbean drug trade.

Morgan should stick to analysis business portfolios and stock options and leave the sociological examinations to experts. One of the gapping holes in his *theory* is, in the majority of the countries he is citing, poverty, police discrimination and lack of opportunity are the root causes of violence in the immigrants home country.

"There is no one better qualified to oversee a better, more transparent, more professional selection process for government appointments across all federal departments and agencies," he said.

The really galling aspect of the Morgan appointment however is his salary. Harper is particularly proud of the fact that he is working on the cheap.

"What's more, he's going to do the job for a dollar a year," a point that brought enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

This is a sad comment on the job. Any job that comes with a salary of $1 per year can only go to two types of people: token, partisan appointees or extremely wealthy individuals. Canadians should be concerned about Harper's glee in the cheap labour.

We should compensate Morgan with a professional wage and let him decide if he wants to accept it. Public service shouldn't be driven by the quest for wealth, but we should compensate those who serve their country. Morgan could chose to donate his salary to charity or give it back to government. Either way, at least he would be compensated and we could hold him to standards. A dollar per year is an insult to public service in this country.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Turn out the lights

Campbell on Umberger

Scott Stevens lives.

Cross-posted at Puck this.


Things you will not be seeing before November 11...

...flags at half mast on federal buildings.

It is time for Harper to reverse this decision and make a respectful choice. The 2004 Conservative motion should be respected.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Chickens, or lack there of, coming home to roost

It seems that Farmers and many in rural Canada are upset with the current federal government. Funny, this group couldn't magically solve some long-standing entrenched domestic and international problems.

Ag. Minister Chuck Strahl has hinted at additional assistance in the upcoming federal budget. Strahl's hint of cash however is likely to fall on deaf ears since the *fiscal imbalance* is perceived to be quite large. The farmers are calling for an additional $2 billion per year over the next three to compete with international subsidies. This is a familar refrain that has been ringing in the halls of legislatures over the past two decades and has fallen on deaf ears.

It is also a little humourous that their 5 prioroties - read them with me - don't include a single word about the farm or rural Canada. Ok, maybe the *child care bribe* does, but really who wouldn't want $1,200 free dollars except maybe those low-income earners who will see their tax status changed and actual experience significant clawbacks since the income is taxable.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


What about Bob?

He appears all but in the race.

Carolyn Bennett is also in. Shhh, don't tell anyone it is still a secret - click on the picture of the Canadian flag for proof.

Great Scott could not resist this race either. Apparently 3rd place finishes are his desire.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Burn Rubber - The Sequel

Canada is not immune from the racial tension seen in the United States, Asia and many parts of Europe.

Hundreds of Caledonia, Ontario (near Hamilton) residents and masked natives stared each other down last night. About 300 white residents taunted nearly as many natives, mocking them for wearing masks and telling them to go home. The occupiers, many wielding pieces of wood, shovels and bats, mostly watched, speaking up to order the Caledonians back if they ventured too near.

Meanwhile, the standoff continued between native protesters and police at the construction site, although tensions appear to have eased.

More than 200 protesters (some equipped with Tim Hortons) moved in Thursday, setting up barricades of burning tires, after Ontario Provincial Police staged a pre-dawn raid to remove native demonstrators from the disputed tract of land they had been occupying since late February.

Demonstrators first occupied the site on Feb. 28 to stop construction by Henco Industries on land they say was stolen from the Six Nations more than 200 years ago. The province says aboriginals gave up the land in 1841 to make way for a new highway, an agreement a Six Nations spokesperson said was only meant to be a lease. Six Nations filed a land claim suit over the area in 1999.

Nearby, a historic wooden bridge was set on fire. Police refused to comment, but one native said protesters did it to prevent the OPP from using it.

Dalton McGuinty has come under fire in Queens' Park and there are whispers of Ipperwash.

Caledonia last night appeared like a town under siege. Tensions grew steadily after the pre-dawn raid, in which dozens of OPP officers swooped down on a handful of protesters at the subdivision they have occupied for eight weeks in Caledonia.

Just for good measure - train service is now suspended between Montreal - Ottawa due to a show of solidarity from another Aboriginal group.


Federal and provincial representatives have been meeting with native protestors behind closed doors at a Burlington Hotel since 10 a.m. this morning, but there is no sign when talks might end

There are some great photos here.

A live blogging account here and here.


Second Season

FIRST ROUND (and only)

Detroit v. Edmonton

The Wings are too strong and balanced. The Oilers would have been better off with Dallas - and that is saying something.

Wings in 5.

Dallas v. Colorado

Colorado will make it interesting. The Stars are too deep and fast for the understaffed Avs. Sakic will have a strong series though.

Stars in 6.

Calgary v. Anaheim

Flip a coin. The Flames are built for the playoffs and so they have a slight edge, but this series could easily go the other way and fast. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Ducks win in a short series.

Flames in 7.

Nashville v. San Jose

The loss of one of the best goalies is not easy to overcome, especially for a young team. The Sharks are fast, big and talented. The Preds are fast, small and talented. Big wins in the playoffs.

San Jose in 6.

Ottawa v. Tampa

The Sens remind me of the early 1980 Oilers always knocking on the door and eventually going to break it down. This is their year. They are way too deep and talented to lose here. Plus, Tampa doesn't have the horses or goaltending.

Sens in 5.

Carolina v. Montreal

The Hurricanes are one of the biggest surprises in the "new" NHL. They are young and hungry. They are talented, gritty and balanced. Bob Gainey's squad will battle, but in the end they just don't matchup. If Eric Cole was going, this could have been a sweep.

Canes in 6.

New Jersey v. New York

The Devils amaze. They play possum for 3/4's of the year and then turn it on and win the division. Lou has the team firing on all cylinders. They are fast and have loads of experience. Plus, who bets against Martin Brodeur. The Rangers are happy to be here and no team with Michael Nylander goes deep in the playoffs.

Devils in 6.

Buffalo v. Phialdelphia

The Sabres are pesky and deserve to here, no question. They have a new French Connection with Briere and Dumount. Their balance is impressive and have a goaltending edge. Peter Forsberg should help keep this thing close and Philly could win if Esche gets the hook early. He is not a money goalie.

Sabres in 6.

Cross posted at a brand new playoff blog - Puck This. Stop by and check out the rants and writings of some of Canada's best armchair coaches. We are only missing the Muck, but he is MIA in the blogosphere.


Talking about Art Carney

Classic Andrew Dice Clay.


Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor old dog a bone, when she got there she bent over, rover took over, and the old lady got a bone of her own.

I actually don't care if the clip is fixed, it is still funny. Talking about Art Carney.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Up high

Mark it on the calander for next year. Today was National High Five Day. The day falls on the third Thursday of April each year, which falls this year on April 20, 2006. The holiday originated at the University of Virginia in 2002, and has since spread across the nation, and around the globe.


Casper the Friendly Market

The invisible hand of the market is sometimes so faint it is nonexistent and that is why regulations are so often required to force / persuade / prod business to operate with 100% honesty to the client and society.

A recent example drives home that point. A Saskatchewan man went to the local press about a pre-authorized charge that appeared on his credit card. Jay Salikin maxed out his MasterCard after buying $42 worth of gas at an automated Shell pump, even though he hadn't spent over his limit. How is that possible? One, he is clearly skating at the margain of his credit limit. Two, any MasterCard transaction ties up $110 worth of credit on top of the actual price of the gas and this is not an actual charge, simply a hold.

The problem is that, unlike rental car companies and hotels, Shell doesn't actually inform customers that this has happened. This can be a problem since those holds ususally linger around on a card for 3-4 days.

Canadian Petroleum Products Institute spokesperson Ted Stoner said gas stations are not telling customers, in part, because no one makes them.

"You know, if there's a requirement, they'd … take a look at it."

If there was a requirement the industry would do more than look at it, they would comply with it.


Crowded House

Add Maurizio Bevilacqua's name to list of candidates for Stornaway. Mssrs. Bevilacqua was at one-time the junior Finance Minister under Paul Martin until he Garth Turnered, I mean - spoke his mind, and was sent to the bench.

Bevilacqua will ensure that the race has at least one right of center candidate and has equal representation from every corner of the GTA.


Easier said than done

The International Monetary Fund doesn't need to get elected and it sure shows by their fiscal statements.

"The new Canadian government has some fiscal room to maneuver in achieving its objective of lowering the tax burden and slowing spending growth, while maintaining fiscal surpluses and keeping government debt on a firm downward path."

Technically this statement is true, however, I am not sure that Canadians are buying it. The IMF doesn't face voters and as a result likely miss this:
The Conservative's real test will come sometime next month when they deliver their first budget and the judge will be Joe Voter not some suit working for the IMF.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


NHL Awards - Moldy Style

No Heart Trophy - An award to the *star* player who had little or no impact on his team. This *star* earns a big salary and performed like a dog.


Todd Bertuzzi
Alexi Yashin
Keith Tkachuk


Todd Bertuzzi hands down. We could cut him some slack due to the lawsuit, however, one still expects more from 44. He was largely inconsistent and as a result the Canucks are golfing to the first time in six years in April. Bertuzzi likely punched his (and Marc Crawford) ticket out of town.

Snoris Trophy - An award given to the league's worst defensemen with a salary over $1 million.


Bryan McCabe
Aki Berg
Nick Boynton

Bryan McCabe in a walk. McCabe is the most overrated defenseman in the league. Did anyone see his awful performance in Turin?

He only plays on one half of the rink and even there he isn’t particularly strong. It didn’t take long for teams to clue into the one-timer from the point. It is sad that some team will pay $5 million per season next year for a guy who is a power play specialist. No offense to actual specialists around the world.

Red Light Racicot Trophy - An award given to the worst goalie in the league.


Ed Belfour
Nikolai Khabibulin
Jose Theodore


Nikolai Khabibulin. How the mighty have fallen. Nik goes from Stanley Cup champ to Chicago chump in less than a season. Typical selfish athlete - takes the money and run. He gets what he deserves - 4 years on a terrible team.

Freedom 55-sern Trophy - This award is given to the player best suited to retire and go into the community. It is kind of like the Masterson, but not really.


Trevor Linden
Jeremy Roenick
John LeClair


John LeClair in a nail bitter. LeClair is past his best before date and is ready for the bone pile.

Band Aid Trophy - This award is given to the player most likely to watch a game from the press box.


Jason Allison
Eric Lindros
Eric Daze


Eric Daze. Has this guy played a game since the turn of the millennium? What is Chicago paying him for? Buy out candidate of the year here.

Mario Tremblay Trophy - This award is given to the worst coach of the year.


Marc Crawford
Gerald Gallant
Michel Therrien


Gerald Gallant in a squeaker. There is talent on Columbus. This guy was a marginal player and he has been an even worse NHL coach. It is, however, time for all three to cut the axe.

Frank Stallone Trophy - This award goes to a former two-way player who is neither offensive nor defensive anymore.


Mike Peca
Trevor Linden
Martin Lapointe


Mike Peca. Peca was a huge bust with the Oilers and they will be glad to get out from under that contract. Not even a fraction of the player he once was. It is actually sad. I blame Darcy Tucker.

Michael Nylander Trophy- This award is given to the player who put up good, meaningless numbers. The award, sadly, will not go to its namesake since he actually didn’t achieve this.


Jason Allison
Bryan McCabe
Alexi Yashin


Jason Allison. Allison put up the most meaningless set of statistics since the last Canadian Federation Students Annual General Meeting. Allison makes the players around him worse, if that is possible.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Happy Easter

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Eyelids in the Stream

Kenny Rogers and his new face.

I blame the media for it. The first six years of my career, I got more comments on my weight than on my singing. So I think I became so self-conscious that I started working on it harder.

Last year I had so many lines coming in at the side of my eyes up here. So I went in and got my eyes done, and I’m not happy about it. (The surgeon) is going to go in and fix that for me. They’re too tight around the eyelids for me. It drives me crazy. I wake up in the morning, and Wanda says, "You look great." But I know what I want to look like. If we can fix that, then I’ll be glad I did it. If we can’t fix it, I’ll regret it or get used to it.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Generation FIX

If you were born between September 2004 and April 2006, congratulations you are part of generation FIX. You are a lucky one since you have a whole generation to yourself and it was the time that Canadian First Ministers agreed to fix your Medicare system (for a generation).

In 2004, a deal worth $41 billion over 10 years is struck in Ottawa between all Premiers and the Prime Minister. There is a special clause for Quebec to continue to get side deals and run a third rate state with insanely high tax rates and deliver sub-standard services.

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin (remember that train wreck):

"Canada's first ministers have agreed to and signed a deal for a decade that will lead to better health care for all Canadians,"

Among the key parts of the agreement:

$3.5 billion over two years in additional transfers to the provinces and territories.

An "escalator clause" that automatically boosts transfers by six per cent a year to keep up with rising health costs.

$4.5 billion over six years for a special fund to reduce waiting times for treatment.

Recapping a generation and a decade lasts less than two years. Canadians can't focus on more than one public policy issue at a time and the "Beggars with Bulging Wallets" are back. Apparently the $4.5 billion over six years was a misprint.

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement is likely to instruct the provinces to look at the Quebec model for guidance. Why not just simply state the obvious: The Conservative Party of Canada supports two-tier healthcare. The Conservative's favour a hybrid - private and public system. Come clean with Canadians.

There is such a void of health leadership in this country it is painful


Juno review (Better late than never)

The Juno Awards, hosted in Halifax, were a chance for the best in Canadian music to shine. The problem was someone forgot to tell CTV and the powers that be that Canadian Idol finalists, runners-up and wanna bee’s don't equal talent. They never have and never will.

The Award weekend is best analyzed as a series of events.

The Good

The hockey game was entertaining- although Michael Landsberg is a terrible MC. Man, does that guy love himself. What a disappointment. Chris Murphy from Sloan looked humbled in his presence and that is accomplishing something.

Paul Coffey looked like he could still play and Jim Cuddy is intense.

Sloan and Pilate at a couple of small venues.

The Songwriters Circle hosted by Alan Doyle featuring Jann Arden, Ron Sexsmith, Martha Wainwright, Joel Plaskett and a few others was fantastic. The sound was great and the host was funny. There is something about self-deprecating Newfoundland humour.

Seeing Coldplay again.

Broken Social Scene and Feist. Good performance and a better acceptance speech.

Buck 65 as the DJ

Bryan Adams - Lifetime Achievement - for all he has done for Canadian music

Hot Hot Heat winning an award - finally some talent recognition.

Pamela Anderson - Doctors can really work wonders. Where do you buy shorts that short?

Jann Arden. Her bra was made of 100% seal skin. Too funny.

The Bad

The presence of all of the Canadian Idol losers (winners). They don't deserve to be at Canada's premier rock show. We don't need Rex Goudie, Kalen Porter and all the other morons.

Celine Dion and Dianna Krall getting nominations for so many awards when they both didn’t issue a new album. A stint in Vegas and a Christmas album are hardly worthy of such credit.

The absence of Metric, The New Pornographers, The Stills, The Constantine’s, Rufus Wainwright, Hawksley Workman, Joel Plaskett, Sloan, Ron Sexsmith, The Weakerthans, The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, The Stars, Arcade Fire, Sarah Harmer, David Usher. The real talent in the country.

Pamela Anderson as the host. Her jokes were poorly written and her attempt at seal humour not funny.

Overall it was an enjoyable weekend and I would encourage those that can to make the trek to Saskatoon for the next one. It will be a great party.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


One Red Paper Clip Update

He has traded the van for a recording contract and now free rental accomodations for a one year stay in Phoenix.

Update here.


Spelling B-elinda

Either the Globe and Mail has sloppy editors? Or, Belinda doesn't actual know her own riding name?

This is the tag line in her Globe article:

Belinda Stronach is the Liberal member of Parliament for New Market-Aurora. She was a candidate for the Conservative Party leadership in 2004; in May of 2005 she became minister of human resources and skills development in the Paul Martin government.

It is Newmarket.


Note to self....

...stay away from Waynesville, North Carolina.

There is odd and than there is bumpkin.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Two Legit

Ads would look like this - Go Hammer - if Tone Loc was in charge of sports marketing.

Also, maybe MC should teach Darren McCarty some money management skills. McCarty has debts over $6.2 million. He also owes at least $185,000 owed to casinos in Detroit and Las Vegas, debts to banks, credit card companies, friends, utilities, law firms and a roofing company.

McCarty is officially a deadbeat.


Game 6 of the 1986 World Series Re-Enacted on Nintendo’s RBI Baseball

This is truly amazing. Somehow this guy manages to re-enact the 10th inning of Game 6 in the 1986 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets. The play-by-play is courtesy of Vin Scully and the graphics are still priceless.

This post combines my love of baseball and video games.



The 10th place Cup

Why are the Leafs so bent on securing tenth place? This is an absolute dream - they are not going to make the playoffs and have played themselves out a decent draft pick in a bad draft year.

It is ok since they can open the MLSE vault and sign such talents as McCabe, Roenick, Daze and Daigle. Then, they can rocket up the standings to 9th while their fans pine for a winner. Harold Ballard where are thee?

I love Toronto in the spring. The golf courses are awesome just ask Darcy Tucker.

PS - Is it just me or does this guy not look like Jason "Band Aid" Allison?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Run Calvert Run

Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert, one of the most physical unassuming men to lead a party, province or PTA, has a knack for bad timing. He is like the guy who chooses to announce his engagement at a wake. He is the guy in the back of a photo who nobody knows why they are there, but everyone assumes someone invited.

The recent events tell the whole story:

March 2006

While the rest of the country's eyes were on Iraq for news of the dramatic rescue of two Canadian hostages, Calvert was in Ottawa for his first one-on-one sit-down with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

February 2006

Calvert lined up a meeting with United States Vice-President Dick Cheney in Washington. The problem that time was that a few days earlier, Cheney had shot his friend in the face while hunting and had yet to talk publicly about it. At Calvert's news conference after the meeting, the only thing reporters wanted to know was whether Cheney had said anything about the shooting.
May 9, 2005

Calvert went to Ottawa with designs on meeting then Prime Minister Paul Martin on the issue of equalization. The only problem was that the Liberal minority government was in danger of crumbling on a budget vote the following week and Calvert had only brief contact with Martin. The premier camped out for a while, but ended up leaving town four days later without the deal he wanted.

Sept. 11, 2001

Calvert, having just won the Saskatchewan NDP leadership in January of that year, travels to Ottawa to push then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for drought aid. He was midway through a breakfast with the former PM when officials informed them that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York.

Calvert's high-level meetings are so often trumped by larger events that some reporters are jokingly called him the Forrest Gump of premiers, after the movie character that unwittingly stumbled into some key moments in history.

Calvert, just to prove his is part innocent and part clueless countered with a question. "Is that a compliment?"

Folks, Calvert is in Montreal lobbying for more money for Saskatchewan on equalization - read fiscal imbalance. Or as Andrew Coyne, Andrew Potter and others refer to it "beggers with bulging wallets." It is a tad odd to go, cap in hand, begging after delivering one of the biggest spending / tax cuting budgets in Saskatchewan history.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Pad Stack

My hometown Saskatoon Blades are battling the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2nd round of the Western Hockey League playoffs. The Blades are underdogs and are not likely to win, however don't tell that to goalie Anton Khudobin.

The Russian goalie, a seventh round pick for the Minnesota Wild, turned in one of the all-time best goalie performances over the weekend. A 80 save performance in a 4-3 triple overtime loss. Khudobin made 43 saves in overtime alone.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Happy Birthday Moldy!

*** This is a guest post ***

It was one year ago today when Shaky, Beeg and myself all decided to enter the blogosphere. None of us had any idea what would become of our respective blogs.

Today, Beeg seems to blog about as frequently as Don Cherry says something intelligent and I am sporadic at best. Shaky, however, has become a blogging powerhouse. Just look at the stats:

In the last 365 days, I have put out a meager 119 posts. On Moldy Peaches, readers (and there are lots of them) have been treated to an incredible 1003 posts. That’s almost 3 posts per day.

A major hat tip to Shaky for keeping us informed and entertained.

Keep it up buddy!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Leadership Comings and Goings

Stephane Dion is in. He will launch tomorrow or tick, tick, tick... (Hat tip to Julie)

Michael Ignaiteff ditto.

Belinda Stronach is OUT.


How Rae got his groove back

The worst kept secret in Southwestern Ontario is slowly inching towards truth - Bob Rae to contest Liberal leadership.

Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae has taken the first step by applying to become a member of the federal Liberal Party.

Rae is suddenly the IT guy among the chattering classes of Toronto and has taken on a statesmen persona since he was unceremoniously dumped by the voters of Ontario. He has successfully conducted work for both the Ontario government (post-secondary education review) and for the federal government (Iraq election, Air India, etc.)

Rae, a former New Democrat, gave up his NDP membership in 1998 and hasn't been a card-carrying member of any party since then.

Full story.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Juno 06 Preview of the Review

How was the big show? Where is the review? What was Pam really like? Does she have a good personality? All valid questions being asked by readers. However, due some travel to DC, the review is still being written. In the interim, how about a shot from the event.

Kalan Porter sure has come a long way from Medicine Hat and he isn’t going back - the lipstick is a nice touch. The 2004 winner of Canadian Idol 2004 needs a sandwich. He is sub-Saharan African thin.

Let the Clay Aiken comparisons begin.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Two tylenol and a midnight mass

The key to a longer life may rest in church. No this message isn't brought to you by the Church of Latter Day Saints. It isn't promotional literature from the beleaguered Catholic Church. A new University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study finds people who attend religious services weekly live longer.

Specifically, the research looked at how many years are added to life expectancy based on:

Regular physical exercise: 3.0-to-5.1 years
Proven therapeutic regimens: 2.1-to-3.7 years
Regular religious attendance: 1.8-to-3.1 years

The study, which is actually a review of existing research from the three categories, does not reveal what the link between faith and health might be. The study also cautions that religious attendance is not a mode of medical therapy. Study leader Daniel Hall, a resident in general surgery and Episcopal priest did say:

"The significance of this finding may prove to be controversial," he said. "But at the very least, it shows that further research into the associations between religion and health might have implications for medical practice."

Hall goes on to speculate that the social aspect of religion could play a role in the results:

"There is something about being knit into the type of community that religious communities embody that has a way of mediating a positive health effect. Perhaps, he said, being involved in a religion "can then decrease your level of stress in life or increase your ability to cope with stress."

One has to wonder if the study controlled for race. It would appear not given the fact that African Americans are among the most spiritual people in North America and yet the average life expectancy is significantly less than most other races.

The findings are detailed in the March-April issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine and actually include a cost-effective evaluation of the three. Hall looked at the cost of these three approaches, examining typical gym membership fees, therapy costs from health insurance companies and census data on average household contributions to religious institutions. The estimated cost of each year of additional life apparently gained by each method:

Regular physical exercise: $4,000
Proven therapeutic regimens: $10,000
Regular religious attendance: $7,000

Hall said doctors and researchers might want to think of religiousness as a demographic factor. "For example," he writes in the journal, "the incidence of gastric cancer is higher among Japanese men, and knowledge of this fact might guide a physician to initiate early and frequent screening for gastric cancer among male Japanese patients." Hall's last statement raises some red flags:

Likewise, the thinking goes, knowing a person's religious practices might prove useful in evaluating their condition and suggesting potential treatments.

This goes against this recent study.

Or, it could be boiled down to optimism.