Craving a connection

This year, US retailers predict spending on cards, chocolates, flowers and jewelry for Valentine’s Day will reach almost $13 billion US. In Canada, the trend follows the same line, reported the Calgary Herald Feb. 8. Said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business: “Spending is up steadily because it’s become increasingly important for people to connect with one another.” At a time characterized by tight schedules, e-mail, voice mail and remote communication, he said, humans crave more intense personal contact, at least once a year. “It’s very much a function of a grassroots recognition of humanity. A need to hear that people notice us, care about us, appreciate us. That’s why Valentine’s Day has expanded so far beyond intimate partners and into the workplace and schools.”

Cancer report short on transparency

The Toronto Star interviewed Dr. Joel Lexchin, a professor in Atkinson’s School of Health Policy & Management at York University, about a report by the Canadian Cancer Advocacy Coalition. The report suggested that where you live and how much your province spends on cancer care goes a very long way in determining whether you will survive the disease. In a Feb. 7 story, the Star said Lexchin agreed the CCAC report was short on “transparency.” Higher cancer budgets could benefit drug companies by boosting their products, he said, noting readers weren’t told where funds for the report came from. “That should be made known if we are to judge the conclusions,” Lexchin said. The CCAC report was “interesting,” he suggested, but not enough to justify a campaign for bigger cancer budgets.

Artist collective had roots at York

The Milkweed Collective – which grew out of a multimedia course at York University – will unveil a new show in its Wildfire series on April 20 in the main gallery of the Neilson Park Creative Centre, reported the Etobicoke Guardian Feb. 7. The collective of artists, photographers and writers which is best known in Toronto for offering art classes for adults and children, formed during the time Austin Clarkson, professor emeritus of music at York University, taught a multimedia course at York. “The course was called Foundations of Creative Imagination,” Clarkson said, reaching back in time. “I had taught the course since 1984 and the last time I taught it, in 1994-1995, the class wanted to stay together.” Clarkson said the premise of the class was deliberately general and philosophical – a guide for artists, rather than paint by numbers instruction. “It took in people from all the fine arts disciplines and was based on the deep structure of the creative process,” he said. “We did it by making all kinds of images and activating the creative imagination.”

Using “mothering” skills in the workplace

Examining ambivalent feelings and accepting them, together with bringing “mothering” skills into the workplace, are the key themes of a recent edition of the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, wrote Susan Lightstone in the Ottawa Citizen Feb. 8 about her return to the office. “In this York University publication,” she said, “articles speak to the issue of mothers feeling like failures because they can’t live up to the romantic notion of the ‘good mother’. I think about that too, as I sit in my office…yelling like hell into the phone at some unfortunate soul. What? Maybe you thought I never screamed at my kids? I’m a mother, not a martyr.”

Love among the angels

The conceit in Janet Warner‘s attractively illustrated novel about the domestic life of William Blake and his wife Catherine is that Kate, as she is called, kept a journal, wrote book reviewer Gerry Hopson in The Globe and Mail Feb. 7. That Warner is able to pull this off without falling into broad comedy owes much to her scholarship (a former English professor at York University’s Glendon College and the author of an academic study of Blake) and, in intention, to the dry high styles of writers like George Eliot, Willa Cather and Carol Shields. Other Sorrows: The Marriage of Catherine Sophia Boucher and William Blake is a serious though homely book, in its quirky way honest, direct and ambitious. The Edmonton Journal said Warner’s book “is one of those rare books that inspire you to dream about their characters and places while you savour reading them” and called the historical accuracy “impressive” in a Feb. 8 review.

Nunziata returns to ‘first love’: government relations

John Nunziata lost the mayoralty race, but that may not keep him out of City Hall, reported the National Post Feb. 7. The former MP – and Osgoode Hall Law School graduate – recently established John Nunziata Consulting, a company touted by its Web site as specializing in “government relations.” Nunziata graduated from York University’s law school in 1980.

On air

  • Craig Heron, history professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the history of booze in Canada and his new book, Booze: A Distilled History, on CBC Radio’s national show “Sounds like Canada” Feb. 9.
  • Jerry Ginsburg, professor in the Faculty of Arts who has taught black history for 15 years, discussed why the 25th anniversary of Black History Month is an important event for him, on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” Feb. 9.
  • City-tv’s “Citypulse” reported Feb. 9 that Nicholas Goldschmidt, former director of the Royal Conservatory Opera School, which became the Canadian Opera Company, passed away at the age of 95. York honoured the conductor, teacher and music festival organizer with an honorary degree in 1999.
  • York University Professor Paul Hoffert discussed rock music, on Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet” Feb. 9.
  • Ian Greene, political science professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed ethics on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Feb. 10.