Warhol link will help, but won’t save, Polaroid

Instant-photography pioneer Polaroid Corp., which three years ago filed for bankruptcy protection, is turning to pop-culture icon Andy Warhol – an artist who used Polaroid cameras – in a bid to convince a new generation of consumers of the company’s enduring coolness, reported the National Post June 1. However, Alan Middleton, professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said it’s likely the strategy will give the company only a short-term burst of popularity. “At this point, the more they can touch back to the past, the better,” he said. “But it’s not a long-term strategy…. They’ve got to diversify into new areas.”

Middleton also weighed in on how Americans are awash in alliteration, the subject of a Los Angeles Times feature May 31. In a society where consumers are bombarded with more information than ever, the word merchants of politics, advertising and publishing seem to be stacking alliterative words on top of one another like cordwood, said the Times. “Within a whole bunch of industries, the amount of sheer advertising has gone up, so it’s harder to break through,” commented Middleton. “The old adage of the ’50s or ’60s was: If you don’t have an idea, show the client or the factory. Now it’s: Use a pun or alliteration.”

Hypocritical bilingualism

“Ever the demagogues, the Liberals have predictably jumped on Conservative MP Scott Reid’s suggestions for a sensible reform of federal policy regarding the provision of services in the two official languages even as these suggestions simply recognize obvious facts on the ground,” wrote Eric Lawee, humanities professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in a June 1 letter to the National Post. “Meanwhile, I notice that Jacque Saada’s defaced campaign sign bears the inscription ‘L’equipe Martin Team,’ whereas those of my local Liberal candidate speak only of ‘Team Martin,’ with no French translation. This bit of ‘two-tier bilingualism’ highlights the very linguistic realities that make Reid’s proposals sensible, though the Liberals will no doubt continue to deny these realities in order to exploit his words for ill-gotten electoral gain.”

York alumnus is touted as new CEO of Fiat SpA

Reports from Europe indicated that Sergio Marchionne would be named as chief executive officer at crisis-ridden Italian industrial giant Fiat SpA, reported the Globe and Mail June 1. His early business career was spent in Canada where he immigrated from Italy at age 14. He earned a BA in philosophy at the University of Toronto, a commerce degree and MBA from the University of Windsor and a law degree in 1983 from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

York University has 10th highest revenues in Canada

With revenues of $578,087,000, York University ranked 10th among Canadian universities, reported the National Post June 1 in a story about Canada’s top 500 companies. The three with the highest revenues were the universities of Toronto, Montreal and British Columbia.

What is going on in Darfur?

A million people have been forced to flee Western Sudan in the past 14 months. They are victims of attacks by an Arab militia closely linked to the Sudanese government, according to an April 2004 human rights report, Darfur In Flames: Atrocities in Western Sudan, says an editorial published May 31 on IslamOnline.net. The situation in Darfur “is beyond description,” said Gamal Adam, a PhD candidate in social anthropology at York University and an expert in Sudanese affairs. “Elderly people and children under five years of age are dying in large numbers everyday of famine and famine-related diseases. Water sources were destroyed or buried,” said Adam in an interview with IslamOnline.net, adding that wells were sometimes bulldozed. The reason behind the Arab world’s silence, according to Adam, is that people in those countries “know very little about Sudan let alone about Darfur and consequently they believe in the misleading information which the Sudanese government agencies present.”  He added: “The silence of the international community on what is happening in Darfur reminds us of what happened in Rwanda 10 years ago. It is a pity that it has been stated in several occasions that the world will never experience again what had happened in Rwanda.”

On air

  • York University has been urged by its senate to reinstate a student expelled for using megaphone at a protest rally, reported CP24-TV’s “Nightside” and “Evening Newsflow” in Toronto May 31.
  • Fred Fletcher, political science professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, said there is a fair amount of anger out there for the Liberals over the sponsorship scandal, on CKNW-AM’s “Bill Good Show” in Vancouver May 31.
  • Listeners called in to “The Motts” show on Toronto’s CFRB-AM May 31 to respond to comments of York University Professor Norene Pupo, who criticized making community service a prerequisite to high-school graduation in Ontario, on grounds it is coercive, discourages volunteering in later life and may hinder lower income students who need to work.
  • Political scientist Robert Drummond, dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed voter apathy, healthcare as the major issue, political leaders and their campaigns, on Roger’s TV call-in show “Goldhawk” May 31.