Satellite breakthrough makes everyone a spy

A Toronto scientist has created an Internet-enabled technology that will give regular computer users access to spy satellite-quality images of people and places, reported the National Post Nov. 29. “It’ll be something like MapQuest [but] in 3-D,” said Vincent Tao, Canada Research Chair in Geomatics Engineering and director of the Geospatial Information and Communication Technology Lab at York University. “You’ll pick a spot and then fly in from outer space, zooming over the mountains, all the way into cities and down to the street level.” Tao’s See Anywhere, Map Everywhere (SAME) technology fuses and analyzes data from different Earth-tracking sensors – ranging from atmospheric cameras and satellite images, to radar or ground-based sensors – and reformats the information within a searchable Internet site.

In a prototype Web site Tao is developing for the Defence Department, users punch in place names or longitude and latitude coordinates, and two-dimensional satellite photos showing scenes mere metres off the ground instantly come into view. SAME creates 3-D digital maps of the terrain and landscape, incorporating such details as the location of traffic lights or fire hydrants in a city, even cable and utility lines below ground. The result can be saved, printed and e-mailed as an image file.

The CanWest News story also appeared in the Calgary Herald, Regina’s Leader-Post and Victoria’s Times Colonist.

  • Tao was also interviewed Nov. 29 by Leianne Pereira (a 1996 York English grad) for CFTO-TV News.

Sex and the TV

How hot is too hot for TV anyhow? asked Newmarket’s The Era-Banner Nov. 28. With popular shows such as “Sex and The City” and “The Sopranos” serving up a healthy dose of sex to their legions of loyal viewers, the line between cable and pay television has become increasingly blurred in recent years. But it’s all relative, insists Seth Feldman, a film professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, who also oversees the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York. Public outrage over risqué programming has evolved, or diminished, depending on your point of view, in line with societal values over the years, he said. “It’s so much a matter of choice at this point,” Feldman said. “If you’re really worried about the corruption of your children, no one is telling you to have cable. You have to go out of your way to get it. That’s the argument for having it.” We may actually see a gradual decline in the amount of sex on the airwaves in the short term if President George W. Bush follows through on an election promise to lead society to moral high-ground, Feldman said. “Sex will remain sacrosanct. But we’re not as puritanical a country as the US,” he said.

Granatstein wins Pierre Berton Award

Jack Granatstein has won the 2004 Pierre Berton Award, a prize awarded annually for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history, reported the National Post Nov. 27. He stopped writing purely academic books 15 years into his career when he came to the realization that no one was reading his work and he wasn’t making any money. “From the 1980s on, I started trying to write for a wider audience,” noted the 65-year-old retired York history professor and author of more than 40 books. “It is possible to write scholarly books that can be read by people. Most academics don’t try, unfortunately.”

Greatest Canadian You’ve Never Heard Of

As a counterpoint to CBC’s search for The Greatest Canadian, Victoria’s Times Colonist asked readers to tell about the truly great, the Canadians of high achievement but low profile, and published the hundreds of replies Nov. 28. Among those nominated for the title of Greatest Canadian You’ve Never Heard Of was Victoria native Marshall McCall, hailed by the UVic Alumni Association as “one of the world’s leading experts on the chemical evolution of galaxies.” The astronomy prof in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering made headlines around the world (and perhaps beyond) in 1995 when he shared in the discovery of two neighbouring galaxies.

Football player named all-Canadian

Mississauga’s Andre Durie has been named to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-Canadian football teams, reported The Mississauga News Nov. 26. Durie, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound running back at York University, was named to the First Team.

Darker side of filmmaker’s life

In his first solo exhibit in a public gallery, The Invisible Man, Toronto filmmaker Mike Hoolboom tackles the morbid subject of death through a montage of images drawn from Hollywood film, found footage and home movies, reported the North York Mirror Nov. 28. His exhibit, on display at the Art Gallery of York University until Jan. 30, overlays a meditative narrative on living and dying. Hoolboom told the Mirror that he chose to focus his exhibit on death because he’s seen a lot in his 30-something years. “Many of my friends are having children or their parents are dead or are approaching the end,” he said. “I’ve seen a number of people die. The Invisible Man is a biography that is constructed out of moments of the picture world. It looks like the end where the skin is but it’s a projection screen of these pictures that we share with one another. We exist in one another. I hope something resonates with people’s own experiences.”

Argos could host Grey Cup at York in 2007

Hamilton Tiger-Cats president David Sauve confirmed yesterday the organization is interested in hosting the 97th Grey Cup, reported the Hamilton Spectator Nov. 27. While Vancouver will host next year’s event, Winnipeg has been awarded the 2006 Grey Cup. Sauve expects Toronto, which hopes to open a new 25,000-seat stadium at York University in time for the 2007 season, would host the Grey Cup at the conclusion of that season.

Norm Noddle’s ‘statement vehicle’

Pickup trucks have replaced SUVs as the vehicle of choice for status-hungry urbanites, reported The Globe and Mail Nov 27. Norm Noddle, a 58-year-old housing manager at York University with two grown daughters, never thought he would drive a pickup truck. But he recently took delivery of a black Dodge Ram. As Noddle has learned, his truck makes a big impression in certain quarters: “The first time I took it to work, the maintenance guys were all waiting to see it,” he says. “It’s a statement vehicle, no question.” He says his truck reconnects him with his youth, when he raced at drag strips and spent every spare minute thinking about cars. Unlike most urban pickup buyers, Noddle, senior manager of York Apartments, actually has a practical use in mind for his vehicle – he and his wife are planning to buy a travel trailer that they will use when he retires in two years.

Student pleased with mayor’s approach

Torontonians want a cleaner and more beautiful city, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 29. They want more affordable housing, and they want the federal and provincial governments to give the city more powers and money. Those were the top priorities of some 700 people who spent Sunday afternoon telling Mayor David Miller what’s important to them. Nosipo Maphangoh was thrilled that politicians wanted to hear her views. “David Miller sat at our table and that’s exciting,” said Maphangoh, 26, a third-year York environmental studies student. “The mayor really cares and he seems to be interested in what the public has to say, and that’s really unique and what makes David Miller special.”

Mutual fund study cited

In an article about tax-efficient mutual funds, the Toronto Star cited a study published in March 2003 by Amin Mawani and Moshe Milevsky, professors at York’s Schulich School of Business. They examined the tax efficiency of 643 equity and balanced funds with a 10-year history.

On air

  • James Laxer, political science professor in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, commented on the possibility that US President George Bush will lay out a timetable for reopening of the US border to live Canadian cattle on his visit to Canada, on Global TV’s “Global News” Nov. 28. Laxer said the war on Iraq has increased the demand for Canadian products and spending and that helps Canada.
  • Donald Carveth, psychoanalyst and sociology professor in York’s Glendon Faculty, discussed a Toronto Web site that matches adulterous adults and a US TV producer who wants to turn it into a reality show, on CBC TV’s national “CBC News: Sunday” Nov. 28.