Student videos reflect prof’s imprint

The Toronto Star’s Peter Goddard highlights a screening of York student films as something to see in his May 27 column. York Faculty of Fine Arts film and video Professor Phil Hoffman, mentor/teacher to countless makers of alternative video and film, is the force behind the screening, at CineCycle in Toronto, of the most recent crop of student videos coming from his Alternative Project Workshop at York University, wrote Goddard. Hoffman’s imprint can be found in the visual lyricism of a lot of the work – as in third-year student Tess Girard‘s Solstice – rather than the narrative drive which ranges from standard Hollywood think – such as Anamnesis by the obviously talented third-year student Brendon Foster-Algoo – to forced quirkiness in Hysterica & The Wandering Womb by the ambitiously talented fourth-year student Michelle Lovegrove Thomson.

A chance for the UN in Iraq

“Exactly what is the UN going to do in Iraq?” asks Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in a commentary published online at May 25. (Common Dreams is an American non-profit group that publishes news and views of the “progressive” community.) “The choices before it are stark: it could either legitimize the [US] occupation and or help Iraqis end it,” she wrote. “While speculation is rife, the draft resolution tabled today [May 25] gives us little hope…. The authorization of a multinational force can act only to legitimize this occupation, not to end it. Yet, this is a moment when the UN could have acted otherwise. From being cast as irrelevant, it has now emerged as indispensable for the occupation. Whence does the UN derive this indispensability? In large part, from the fact that the war was based on lies, an imperialistic ignorance of the limits of military prowess – and most importantly, no understanding of patterns of resistance that colonial occupations have historically engendered. Deaths of many innocent Iraqi civilians later – these factors, coupled with the outrage of ordinary people, have brought home to the occupying powers the message that they cannot do it alone, as they had thought they could. It is this colossal tragedy of death and resistance that has ascribed to the UN the relevance that it has now acquired. The UN can act to honour this tragedy or to humiliate it,” said Mukherjee-Reed.

Different brain areas ‘get it’ and find it funny

Researchers at Dartmouth College’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on subjects watching episodes of either “Seinfeld” or “The Simpsons” to show that “getting” a joke occurs in specific brain regions different from those involved in finding it funny, reported Neuroscience in its June issue. “The idea of using sitcoms is very nice,” commented Vinod Goel, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, noting that they are funnier than the puns and lawyer jokes he has used in his neuroimaging research.

The biology behind ‘Sex in the City’

When a woman is especially critical of other women, that may be her biology telling her it is time to compete for a mate, reported Discover Magazine May 25, citing a study by Maryanne Fisher, a PhD candidate in psychology at York. Fisher asked groups of women to rate the attractiveness of male and female faces, then repeated the experiment during different stages of the women’s menstrual cycles. Their ratings of men remained steady. During times of peak fertility, however, the women consistently rated other women as significantly less pretty. “It’s obvious from watching any group of women in a bar that there is some level of competition for the ‘few good men,’” Fisher said. She noted that women tend to compete through verbal tactics, such as talking down their competition to lower their self-esteem or to make them appear less attractive to men who might be listening. “This sort of thing can be very effective in the mating game,” Fisher said. “And it makes sense that it would be heightened during times when it matters most.”

Athletes no different from non-athletes with anorexia

Since 1999, complications from anorexia nervosa have sent Northwestern University cheerleader Courtney Schrey to in-patient care five times, reported the Evanston, Illinois, Daily Northwestern May 26. Although most experts in the field acknowledge the rise in eating disorders among elite collegiate athletes, others have rejected the idea that student-athletes are at greater risk than the average undergraduate. Researchers at Toronto General Hospital and York University have published a study indicating that “there is little valid support for the theory that athletes with eating disorders are psychologically different from their non-athlete counterparts,” reported the daily.

Immigrating to Israel

Alex Pomson and his family are moving to Israel this summer, reported the Canadian Jewish News May 28 in an article about the Israel Aliyah Centre, which facilitates the immigration of Torontonians to the Jewish state. Pomson, who is moving with his wife and four children, has not been intimidated by the spectre of terrorism. “It was not a consideration in our plans,” said Pomson, who holds the Koschitzky Family Chair of Jewish Teacher Education at York University.

Psychology grad turns clairvoyant

As a clairvoyant, Tena Slind’s vision is two-fold – she sees her environment in the “typical” human way, but she also sees images, patterns and the “imprints” that people and all of nature emanate, reported the Calgary Herald May 27 in a profile of the York grad. Slind graduated from York in 1980 with a BA in psychology.

On air

  • Political scientist Robert Drummond, dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, said youth participation is an election concern, on CFMT-TV’s “Studio Aperto” in Toronto, May 26.