York profs win Jewish book awards

York University Prof. Martin Lockshin took the prize for biblical-rabbinic scholarship at the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards held May 30 at the Leah Posluns Theatre York, reported The Canadian Jewish News June 9. Lockshin, director of York’s Centre for Jewish Studies, received the prize for the fourth and final volume of his translation and commentary on Rashbam’s Commentary on Deuteronomy. Lockshin paid homage to the medieval Jewish sage Rashbam “for writing a book that has fascinated me for 20 years. Amazingly, I haven’t grown tired of him,” Lockshin said. “One of the things he taught me is that the last word of interpretation of a text has not been written.”

James Laxer, political science professor in York’s School of Social Sciences, won the biography-memoir prize for Red Diaper Baby.

Worry grows as MDs prescribe drugs for unapproved uses

Although doctors are allowed to prescribe for off-label uses, there is no requirement in this country for a physician to tell a patient that a drug being prescribed for a particular treatment has not been approved by Health Canada for that use, reported the Hamilton Spectator June 29 in a series on prescription drugs. “In fact, the doctor may not even know (that it’s an unapproved use),” said Dr. Joel Lexchin, an emergency room physician who is also an expert in drug safety and professor with York University’s School of Health Policy & Management. “The doctors may know that they’re prescribing it off-label, but they may not know that the company had asked for that to be approved but had been turned down,” said Lexchin. “The doctors may be prescribing it in good faith without realizing there are serious flaws in the data,” Lexchin said.

‘Tax freedom day’ a misleading exercise

Every year at about this time, the Fraser Institute, Canada’s bastion of capitalism, announces with great fanfare that taxpayers have finally reached the point in the year when they can start working for themselves, liberated from the yoke of government servitude, wrote the Toronto Star’s Carol Goar in a column June 29 about “tax freedom day.” “Even if it were useful to inform Canadians how many days they had to work in order to earn enough to pay their taxes, the information the Fraser Institute presents about the tax system is flawed, misleading, seriously distorts public knowledge and hinders rational debate about the tax system,” said Neil Brooks, a tax law professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in this year’s critique, released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Coaches should prevent lopsided games

While 2005 saw Greater Toronto Area schools dominate major sports, a York University sports psychologist issued a warning to coaches who ignored situations in which their teams dominated games but did nothing to counter scores piling up, reported the Toronto Star June 29 in year-end stories listing sports highs and lows. Frances Flint, who has worked with the Canadian Olympic Association, concluded that some coaches were doing major harm to student athletes by not preventing lopsided game results.