Working mothers’ non-stop rat race

“Free time is the first to go,” says Professor Andrea O’Reilly, director of York’s Centre for Research on Mothering, in a Toronto Star article March 20 on the time crunch caused by the dual responsibilities of work and mothering. Mothers, she said, have entered the workforce in droves at the same time that expectations of mothers “are just off the Richter scale.”

Gone is the ’50s mom whose only requirement was to make sure children were clean, safe and well fed, she said. Now, it’s the new Millennium Mom, with the terrific job, cordon bleu meals on the table and kids with straight As. O’Reilly, who has three teenagers, calls this “intensive mothering.” She is not criticizing women who get caught up in it, she added. “I have been up at 3am baking cookies.”

Inspector Banks creator started mystery writing at York

Globe and Mail writer Sarah Hampson begins a March 20 portrait of York grad Peter Robinson, whose Inspector Banks novels are international bestsellers, with his quote: “Writing has to be partly magical or it wouldn’t be so exciting to do.” When Peter Robinson faces the blank screen of his computer every morning, the murder-mystery author remembers two things: know what the scene needs to communicate; and let the characters lead, wrote Hampson. Robinson went to the University of Leeds, where he completed a degree in English literature. In his last year, he saw a poster in the library advertising a masters program in creative writing at the University of Windsor in Ontario. He applied to get in, but was turned down because his writing samples were not good enough, he was told. But he enrolled to complete a masters in English literature. A few months into the year-long program, he was reading one of his poems aloud. Novelist Joyce Carol Oates, who taught some of the creative writing classes, happened to hear him. Later, she later asked why he wasn’t in her class. He explained. The next day he was. He later returned to England to teach, but when he couldn’t get a job he decided to enter Ontario’s York University to gain his PhD in English literature, which he did in 1984. It was then he began to experiment with writing mystery novels.

Don’t censor campus debates, says York student

Similarities between pro-Israel and anti-Israel campus groups are few and far between. Unfortunately there is one similarity that too often manifests itself on campuses across North America. That is, groups on both sides of the Middle East debate are overly prone to calling for censorship and the crushing of political dissent – always on the other side, of course, wrote third-year York student Yaakov Roth in a Hamilton Spectator editorial March 20. Universities, although intended to be places of free expression and speech, are too often turning to censorship and the suppression of political discussion in response to the intensity exposed when the hot issues of the day are debated. This is not in the best interests of the students or our society, and those who believe in the importance of free speech must do their utmost to ensure that these episodes of censorship are cut short, wrote Roth, vice-president of the Ontario Campus Conservative Association.

Behaviour modification didn’t work for this prof

In the 1960s and ’70s, behaviour modification was celebrated as an exciting new way to quit smoking, cure alcoholism or stick to a diet, wrote the Toronto Star’s Olivia Ward in a March 20 feature on B.F. Skinner, a pioneer of modern psychology. “The problem is you have to be willing to change your behaviour,” says Irwin Silverman, a professor emeritus of psychology at York University. In the late 1960s, Silverman joined the first Skinnerian program to quit smoking but quickly dropped out. “It was at the University of Florida and it was taught by one of Skinner’s disciples,” he says. “The first exercise was lighting a cigarette with a dollar bill. I refused and that was the end of it.”

Martini glass, shaken

You cannot accidentally shoot back a martini, reported the National Post March 20 in a story about the Bombay Sapphire Martini Glass Design Competition in Canada. This is what York University design student Jenna Anderson had in mind when she submitted her runner-up winner, Splash!, essentially a standard martini glass but a bit arched like a daiquiri glass, with a splash of blue tinting within the glass and a glass “drop of water” bulging up from the inside. In the end, it was that “drop of water” that doomed this design: What if it broke loose when ice was poured in?

UBC hopes dashed by York’s hoop squad

While University of British Columbia’s men went into the national men’s basketball playoffs with high hopes, they were dashed in the first playoff round by a fired-up York University squad, said the Vancouver Sun March 22 in an editorial about the performance of western teams. Early weekend sports broadcasts followed the progress of the Canadian university men’s basketball championships, including that of the York Lions, March 19 and 20. CBC national and local programs, CFRB-AM, Global TV reported York’s win over Laval University. The team later suffered a 68-53 loss to No. 3 seeded St. Francis Xavier University in semifinal action at the 2004 CIS Men’s Basketball Final 10 at the Halifax Metro Centre.

Parmalat breached hockey sponsorship deal

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ordered scandal-plagued Parmalat Finanziaria SpA to pay $625,000 in damages in a dispute over naming rights to a Toronto hockey arena after its head office decided it would rather be involved in soccer sponsorship, reported the National Post March 22. In his ruling, Superior Justice James Carnwath found that Parmalat’s Canadian subsidiary agreed in February 1998 to pay $175,000 annually, for a five-year renewable term, to rename the privately owned arena complex at Toronto’s York University the Beatrice Ice Gardens. (Beatrice is a Parmalat brand.) “It was well branded. It was known as the Beatrice Ice Gardens. That is how it was reported in the sports media,” said Monique Jilesen, the lawyer for the private company that owns the arena complex.

On air

  • An interview with Michael Jenkin, computer science professor in York University’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, about how the world’s first remote-controlled amphibious robot is about to revolutionize underwater data gathering, was aired on CTV newscasts in Halifax, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto.