Friday, April 11, 2008 | Categories: Episodes
It's Friday, April 11th.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will meet face-to-face at an emergency summit this weekend.
Currently, Tsvangirai is pleased by the progress. But he can't for the life of him figure out why it has to be held in the badly lit basement of an old barn so far away from Harare.
This is The Current.
They say spring tis the season for cleaning.
But we thought we'd give the eavestroughs and windows a break and look at our increasing fixation with cleaning our own gutters, purifying our pipes and generally purging ourselves of toxins and other nastiness that might have accumulated during the winter months.
Not too long ago, detoxes, cleanses and fasts were fringe fads. But now it seems everyone is doing something, whether it's the Juice Fast, the Master Cleanse or the Fat-Flush.
By one estimate, sales of herbal cleansing products tripled in 2007 to nearly $28 million worldwide. And that got comedian Debra Digiovanni wondering what else there was a market for.
We at The Current decided to ask why we seem to have such a deep-seated desire for cleansing, and whether any of these products or practices actually work.
For their thoughts on this, we were joined by three people: from Ottawa by Judd Simpson, the Executive Chef at the House of Commons and the President of the Canadian Culinary Federation; from Toronto by Michel Desjardins, a Professor of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University; and also in Toronto was Colleen Tully, a web editor with Canadian Living Magazine.
Listen to Part One:
Poo - Gastroenterologist
We played a few examples of people everywhere embracing their inner 12-year-old boy.
Of course anxiety -- even obsession -- about every stage of our digestive process is a well-documented phenomenon. Just ask Sigmund Freud. But these days, there seems to be something new afloat. It started when Katie Couric had a colonoscopy live on television. But the real turning point was in the spring of 2007, when Oprah had Dr. Mehmet Oz on her show for a chat about bowel movements. When the Queen of daytime television starts talking about the frequency of her evacuations, you know that public discussions of poo have really hit the mainstream.
It would seem, therefore, that Anish Sheth is ahead of the curve. He's a gastroenterologist at Yale University's Medical School and the co-author of a little brown book called What's Your Poo Telling You? and he joined us from New Haven, Connecticut.
Poo - Colonics Clip
Whether or not we admit it, g azing into the toilet is probably something many of us have done before. But "colonic irrigation" may not be something you are familiar with. In a way, it's the ultimate cleanse. The Current went to The Canadian Natural Health and Healing Centre in Toronto to find out more about colonics.
Poo - Panel
Freud said a cigar is sometimes just a cigar. But still what to make of this sudden willingness to talk publicly about poo? For their thoughts on what it says about us, our hang-ups and our obsessions, we were joined by two people: from New York City, by Susan Lipkins, a psychologist and author; and from Fairfield, Connecticut by James Dillard, a medical doctor and a clinical professor at Columbia University.
Listen to Part Two:
Internet Traffic Shaping
Unlike bad plumbing, when the pipes that deliver the Internet to your house clog up, there's no digital Draino to clear things out. And as Internet use continues to grow, the traffic jams are getting worse. Canada's two major Internet providers, Rogers and Bell Canada Enterprises, have acknowledged that they're trying to manage the flow of information with something called "traffic shaping." That means choking the download speed for users who access large amounts of information -- high definition movies or lots of music for example. The idea is that by restricting bandwidth for some users, Rogers and Bell can free up more space for other users to surf in relatively speedy comfort.
But Internet neutrality advocates fear traffic shaping undermines their vision for the web as an all-or-nothing database of unfettered information. And smaller Internet service providers -- typically local companies that buy bandwidth from the big players -- then provide web access to their own customers -- aren't thrilled either.
In April 2008, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers, which represents third party Internet providers, filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. In it, the group targeted Bell in particular and argued that traffic shaping isn't just bad for the web, it's bad for their business.
Tom Copeland is the Chair of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers. He also owns Eagle.ca, a third-party ISP and he's in Coburg, Ontario.
Internet Traffic Shaping - Supporter
Bell and Rogers have both admitted to the practice of traffic shaping and say it's a necessary part of their business strategies. But both companies were unwilling to come on The Current explain their policies.
So to help us understand why Bell and Rogers engage in traffic shaping, we were joined by Jay Kerr-Wilson, a communications lawyer and a former Vice-President of legal affairs for the Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association.
Internet Traffic Shaping - Analyst
Traffic shaping, throttling, the Information Superhighway -- talk of the Internet is filled with transportation metaphors. The NDP's Heritage critic Charlie Angus says it might be time to add another: an independent traffic cop to keep an eye on Internet service providers like Rogers and Bell.
For his thoughts on the debate over Internet neutrality, we were joined from Ottawa by David Fewer, the Staff Counsel with the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa.
Last Word - Spring Cleanse
In this show, we took an untraditional (and sometimes uncomfortable) look at spring cleaning, from our obsession with cleanses and detoxes to our newfound willingness to talk publicly about bowel movements. In the end, a lot of it comes down to how we think and feel about our health and how obsessed we can sometimes get when we worry about it.
So we'll closed the show with a few more thoughts about that obsession, courtesy Tony Leighton, a writer and self-described "health enthusiast" from Guelph, Ontario and an excerpt from a piece he performed in the summer of 2007 at the Hillside Festival in Guelph.
Listen to Part Three: