Champion stock-picker Milevsky sees uncertainty in 2004

Uncertainty is the only certainty when it comes to the future of financial markets and the global economy, says Wealth Logic author Moshe Milevsky, a professor of finance at York University’s Schulich School of Business, reported The StarPhoenix in Saskatoon Jan. 5. “The key to coping with persistent volatility is to deliberately lose sight of the trees and focus on the forest,” he told CanWest News Service. “Remember that it is virtually impossible to accurately predict whether interest rates will increase, or remain low, or whether the stock market will go up or down – likely both – or whether your house will be worth more in December 2004 compared to December 2003. So make sure to place your bets on all sides of the financial table and you will cheer regardless of how the wheel comes to rest.”

Milevsky also made headlines in The Globe and Mail Jan. 3 as the first two-time winner of the newspaper’s My One and Only annual stock-picking contest. With his choice of Calgary-based Canadian Superior Energy Inc. (SNG-TSX), he edged out newsletter publisher David Skarica, who had led the contest at the third quarter by a wide margin with mid-tier miner Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD-TSX). “So, once again, Prof. Milevsky gets to sip from The Globe and Mail coffee cup, the prize in our annual contest,” said the newspaper.

“Now maybe the students will finally listen to what we professors have to say,” Milevsky quipped on learning of his latest victory.

Retirement not so mandatory?

Thomas Klassen, a professor of labour studies in York University’s Faculty of Arts, points out that employers don’t need the province to amend the human rights code if they want to allow people to work beyond the age of 65, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 6 in a story about Toronto city council’s motion to repeal mandatory retirement provisions. The human rights code allows employers to impose a mandatory retirement policy, said Klassen. Proposed legislation by the former Tory government would still have allowed mandatory retirement provisions in collective bargaining agreements, as long as both sides were in favour, he added.

A history of the hard stuff

Like a good toastmaster, historian Craig Heron mixes wit and wisdom in Booze: A Distilled History, reported Maclean’s in its Jan. 12 issue. The York University professor, who teaches social science and history in York’s Faculty of Arts, examines the Canadian experience of trading, selling, producing, regulating, imbibing and recovering from alcohol in a thick volume that is both attractive and accessible, said the reviewer. Running through this scholarly review of alcohol’s cultural implications – which touches on everything from economic development and gender relations to state formation and the shaping of regional and national identities – is plenty of fun trivia. For instance, a 19th-century cure for “inebriates” (as alcoholics were then called) included isolation, rest and a long soak in a warm bath.

Heron and his book got plenty of attention throughout the holidays as CBC Radio aired a series of individual interviews with him about the history of Canada’s liquor laws and Canada’s troubled relationship with alcohol. They ran on 14 local stations from Sydney, NS, to Whitehorse between Dec. 19 and Jan. 5. He also spoke about the book on “John Gormley Live” (CJME-AM), Regina, Dec. 31.

Film producer carries torch for a teaser

York visual arts grad Greg Neely plans to drum up support and financial backing for a $30-million motion picture that his production company wants to make, reported The Hamilton Spectator Jan. 6. Neely, who earned a York bachelor of fine arts in 1995, and his partner Laurence Roberts have produced a 14-minute teaser film entitled Torchbearer. Set in the future in the too-perfect-for-words city of New Goshen, Torchbearer is described by its makers as a “neo-noir, science fiction, drama/action film with strong Asian influences that aims to become Blade Runner [1982] for a new age.” The short has had some success on its own, winning the best short prize at a Los Angeles science fiction film festival last year and was the subject of a report on the Space TV network in Canada.

Ontario not an option for graduating nurse

Laura Swain, a fourth-year nursing student at York University, said “so long, Ontario” in a Jan. 6 letter to the Toronto Star. Now in her graduating year, she wrote: “I am getting bombarded with e-mails, letters and phone calls from various agencies in the United States and Canada that are offering competitive positions in the US. The salaries being offered are significantly higher than in Ontario and the benefits (including sign-on bonuses, assisted housing, shift premiums) are extremely tempting. I have not received one phone call, e-mail or letter from any Ontario hospital or health-care facility. Work in Ontario in an environment that does not appreciate or support students, let alone offer them full-time employment, or work in the sunny south where the salary is double and the benefits remarkable? Hmm, let me think about that for a minute. So long, Ontario.”

Liberals stayed on high road during election

In a Jan. 4 post-mortem of the fall provincial election, Robert MacDermid, a political science professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts, told the Newmarket/Aurora Era-Banner, “If you look at the campaign itself, compared to last time, the Liberals didn’t waver from the message. The Tory campaign wasn’t as successful, partly because they tried to paint McGuinty as ‘not up to the job,’ just as they had in ’99. In 2003, voters didn’t agree.”

Authors take note: Don’t quit your day job

Christian Bök, an English professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, composed experimental poetry while working a 60-hour week at another job, began a Toronto Star story Jan. 3. He wrote from 11 at night into the wee hours for a number of years. When he won the Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection Eunoia, he enjoyed what he calls a “whiff of glamour.” He also landed a teaching job at York University. “I’m never going to make a living as a poet,” said Bök, 37. “I think, unlike other work, being a poet is a culturally demeaned occupation. It’s not the kind of thing I’d use as a pick-up line. Saying you’re a famous poet is tantamount to saying you’re a famous croquet player.” When people find out he’s a poet, Bök said, “they assume I’m either flaky or poor, that I must be an oddball who doesn’t make money or I’m an especially sensitive soul.”

Continuous learning required to compete globally

Canadian employers and employees have been forced to adopt a “new awareness” to effectively deal with unpredictability and the heightened sense of insecurity that came from a deluge of unforeseeable happenings in 2003, says Patricia Bradshaw, professor of organizational behaviour at York University’s Schulich School of Business, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 3.

“We’ve had a continual onslaught of random occurrences…with SARS, mad cow disease and the blackout, so we’ve had to become more flexible and accountable, deal better with our emotions plus take increased ownership of our careers.” She added that workers and workplaces in 2003 emphasized continuous learning to compete in an increasingly global economy, honed self-marketing practices and further implemented tools of technology. The Star noted York’s new executive master’s degree program in human resource management, starting in January, as the first executive program of its kind in Canada.

Solve music piracy with levies on Internet providers

Paul Hoffert believes the music industry has no choice but to solve the Internet piracy problem with licence levies applied at the ISP level, reported Canadian Press Dec. 22 in a review of 2003. “It’ll be closer to a TV cable model where you pay a cable provider so much a month,” said Hoffert, author of several books on information technology and a fellow of York’s Calumet College who has taught music in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. When you pay your cable bill, explained Hoffert, you pay not just for the technology but for the programming. “It allows you to consume as much or as little as you want,” said Hoffert, who also approaches the issue as a musician who scored dozens of films and served as a keyboardist for the ’70s band Lighthouse. “That’s how people are going to want to consume music. They’re not going to want to pay for every little thing that they do.”

York writing grad turns from fiction to history

Prominent Canadian author and editor George Fetherling discussed the books of York University graduate Jennifer Duncan in his weekly Vancouver Sun column Dec. 20. He was interested in Duncan’s detour from fiction into women’s history and interviewed her when she came to Vancouver to promote her second book. Duncan is a 35-year-old writer with a BA in English and creative writing from York. Her first book, Sanctuary & Other Stories, was a collection of stories arising out of the 1980s punk scene in Toronto, where she lives. That being the case, it’s somewhat unexpected that her second book, Frontier Spirit: The Brave Women of the Klondike, is about a suite of eight linked biographical essays on female figures of the 1898 gold rush, wrote Fetherling.

On air

  • Allan Carswell, professor emeritus in physics and astronomy at York University, discussed the landing of the latest Mars probe and the study of the planet, on “CH Morning Live” (CHCH-TV), Hamilton, Jan. 5.
  • Jay Solomon, a second-year political science student at York University, explained why he became so passionate about raising awareness of school violence, on the “Jim Richards Show” (CFRB-AM), Toronto, Dec. 29.
  • Valerie Preston, a geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed complaints by skilled immigrants who can’t get jobs they are qualified for, on “CTV National News” and other news programs on CTV affiliates across the country Dec. 27.