Astronaut pulls strings for research

Having a Canadian astronaut assigned to a shuttle mission next spring has proven crucial in getting a York University experiment on board the flight, the project’s lead researcher says, reports The Globe and Mail Nov. 15. The experiment, conducted by York neuroscientist Barry Fowler, looks at the way hand-eye coordination is affected by conditions in space. Its findings could be crucial in long-term mission planning, to ensure that space travellers can still pilot their crafts and operate equipment after long periods in weightlessness. Fowler said Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean, who will be a member of shuttle mission STS-115, slated for liftoff next May, was instrumental in getting the rest of the crew to agree to participate in the study. “So it’s very important to have Canadian astronauts on board. Otherwise, you have to convince relative strangers that your experiment is worthwhile,” Fowler said yesterday in a briefing at the Canadian Space Agency in St-Hubert, Quebec.

Paglia-Sontag cat fight not in the stars

Susan Sontag is a brainy, seasoned babe and America’s pre-eminent woman of letters. Camille Paglia is a poison-penned opinion-churner and a libertarian of note, begins Shinan Govani in “Scene”, a column in the National Post Nov. 15. Neither woman particularly likes the other, and…[b]oth smarty-pants are here for York University’s Living Literacies Conference, an international brain-candy gathering of writers, thinkers and activists, but their schedules are such that they will not be in Toronto at the same time. “It would be something…but it’s not going to happen,” a conference organizer told me when I inquired about the prospects of the two women running into each other, Govani writes.

Literacy in the Digital Age

The Toronto Star listed “Literacy in the Digital Age” (its catchphrase for the Living Literacies Conference) among its Nov. 14 “Briefs” of events kicking off that day. The conference at York University featured a who’s who of leading writers and theorists, such as Susan Sontag, Camille Paglia, George Steiner and Hurricane Carter.