The Village is scary because it’s dark

The new movie The Village is yet another tale of terror in a little town. But whether the threat consists of a werewolf or axe-wielding murderer, what’s the root of the unease about small towns? Canadian poet and author Christopher Dewdney suggests it comes down to people’s fear of the darkness, reported The Globe and Mail July 27. Dewdney’s recently released Acquainted With the Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark analyzes the power and significance that darkness has had on culture and society. “It’s an urban-centric agoraphobia,” he says of films like The Village. “It’s fear of open spaces [combined] with fear of the dark.” Last summer’s blackout in Ontario and the eastern United States offered city dwellers a glimpse of true darkness, explains Dewdney, who teaches English at York and is Glendon’s Writer on the Grounds. “Darkness breeds the imagination. All of our mythology, folklore and superstitions come from the darkness. People imagined what could be found out there. It’s tough to find a dark place in the city, whether a park or an alleyway. Even in our homes, the ambient light from the city floats into the room.”

York contenders for Supreme Court vacancies

Prime Minister Paul Martin’s pledge to give MPs a say in selecting Supreme Court judges is delaying the appointment of two nominees for vacancies the chief justice had wanted filled by the end of this week, reported the Ottawa Citizen July 27. Among the contenders are star criminal lawyer and York University Osgoode grad Marlys Edwardh (LLB ’74) and Peter Hogg, the respected former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School who is arguing the federal case for same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court.

The skinny on ‘naked’ short selling

Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, explained “naked” short selling in a Toronto Star story July 27 about a group of North American companies that are trying to figure out how they got listed on a German stock exchange. Announcements released by several companies in recent weeks speculate that the listings may be part of an effort to evade North American regulations against “naked” short selling that some securities authorities have firmed up this year. In a short sale the participant does not own the shares but has borrowed them in anticipation of making a profit. In a “naked” short sale, there is no borrowing. “It’s almost like taking a bet on a stock without physically having to own the shares,” said Milevsky. “Is that bad? It depends on who you talk to. If I’m a CFO, I don’t want downward pressure on my stock. It’s not bad if you think a stock is overvalued and you should be able to take a bearish bet on it. I don’t think it’s intrinsically evil to allow this to take place.”

Bilingualism study continues to intrigue

A Canadian Press story about York University psychologist Ellen Bialystok’s study that finds being bilingual keeps the mind sharp continues to be picked up by newspapers across Canada. Most recently, it has appeared in the Toronto Star July 26 and The Review in Niagara Falls July 27. “Being bilingual is like going to a brain gym,” says Bialystok, whose research was published in the American Psychological Association’s journal, Psychology and Aging.

When court rulings put big plans on hold

“There is a flaw in the environmental assessment [process],” said Environment Minister Leona Dombrowski, in a Toronto Star story July 27 about a court ruling preventing a Napanee company from expanding its landfill, thus stalling highway, transit and landfill projects all over the province. “It’s a very long, cumbersome, expensive process.” The more time spent, the more taxpayer money is involved; the more likely one of the levels of government would go through an election, changing the priorities. That’s what happened to the TTC’s plans to build a subway to York University, said the Star. After a long environmental assessment process, it was approved but that was quashed when the Tories took over from the NDP provincially.

On air

  • Retired humanities Professor Michael Creal, Chair of the Sanctuary Coalition, a refugee support organization, and a member of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies, discussed the federal immigration ministry’s appeal to churches to cease giving sanctuary to refugees facing deportation, in a phone interview on CBC Radio’s “Toronto @ Ten” July 26.