Professors have high hopes for green beam

A Canadian Press photo printed Aug. 1 in Montreal’s Gazette showed scientist Tom Duck standing on the roof of the observatory at Dalhousie University as a green beam of light from a lidar, a laser-radar, was used to gather critical atmospheric information in Halifax. Duck is one of a handful of scientists at three Canadian universities designing and building the lidar, an innovative machine the size of a bread box that will collect vital information about the atmosphere on Mars. The team, with members from the University of Alberta, Dalhousie and York University, say the device will beam a centimetre-wide laser from a spacecraft that lands on Mars after its planned touchdown in 2007. CP and Broadcast News disseminated photos and stories of the research.

Making poetry of bird infidelity

The Globe and Mail printed a ditty Aug. 1 inspired by a July 27 story about York biologist Bridget Stutchbury’s research showing that female birds frequently cheat on their mates.

Titled “Watch The Birdie,” it begins: “For those who thought that birds/Were faithful through and through,/Exchanging honeyed words,/Professing to stay true,/There’s disconcerting news/From experts in the field/That female birds will choose/To stray, to cheat, to yield.”

Microcredit providers have a history of failure in Canada

Toni Williams, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has studied the record of microcredit initiatives in developing and developed countries. In a recent article, she concluded that, in developing countries, only a few microcredit providers have become major institutions along the lines of Grameen Bank, reported Montreal’s Gazette Aug. 1 in a story about Les Cercles d’emprunt de Montreal. In developed countries, including Canada, Williams found that, without heavy subsidization, stand-alone microcredit operations have not met with widespread success. She cited the failure of one of the most prominent Canadian experiments in the field, Calmeadow. The Toronto-based non-profit organization made several attempts in the 1990s at running stand-alone, self-financing microcredit with peer lending circles. In 2000, Calmeadow concluded this type of program was not commercially viable.

Many Little Brothers watching over us

In a post-London-bombing opinion piece arguing the merits of surveillance cameras over protecting privacy, the Okanagan Weekender July 31 cited The End of Privacy, by Reg Whittaker. The retired York University political science professor argued in the book that George Orwell’s monolithic Big Brother has fragmented into a myriad of corporate Little Brothers who operate with little or no accountability.

Condo critic prefers compact development

From 2003 through June 2005, Toronto has received applications for 30 new residential towers south of Front Street, reported the National Post July 30. It’s a gold rush, with glitzy sales offices on every corner as developers stake claims for towering condominiums. Not everyone agrees that this is the best way to develop a city. “To have a vibrant street life, you need a mix of land uses, smaller offices and cafes and grocery stores,” warned Edmund Fowler, a professor emeritus at York University. He prefers compact, mixed-use areas with five-storey buildings, as in Europe; his studies show crime is higher in areas dominated by high-rise buildings.

College boss honoured

Georgian College president and CEO Brian Tamblyn, a York grad, has been recognized with an honorary doctorate from Florida’s Northwood University, reported the Barrie Advance July 29. Northwood is a long-time partner with Georgian in offering advanced standing to graduates of the College’s Business Administration Automotive Marketing program. Northwood honoured Tamblyn for his work as a strong advocate of the Ontario college system, and for Georgian’s accomplishments as one of Canada’s leading cooperative education colleges. Tamblyn earned a bachelor of administrative studies from York in 1990.

Football coach honoured

York grad and Markham Raiders coach Bill Ptolemy has been inducted into the football hall of fame, reported the Markham Economist & Sun Aug. 2. Not the one in Canton, Ohio, where the National Football League’s shrine is headquartered. Nor will the 42-year-old Markham native’s head bust be on display at the Canadian Football League’s Hall of Fame in Hamilton. But the Northern Football Conference thought enough of the former Markham Raiders head coach to honour him as one of six inductees in the 2005 class. Ptolemy played quarterback and fullback at Acadia University and York University. Upon graduation in 1987 with a BA in political science from York, Ptolemy resumed his playing career with the Toronto Cowboys of the Central Ontario Minor Football League.

Party promoter helps the good times roll

Party promotion guru Ralf Madi says anyone who wants to live off massive partying can do it and survive, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 2. “The most successful and intimate parties are the ones that travel by word of mouth, not mass advertising,” Madi explained. “People will come to them with their friends so they feel they belong.” His first serious attempt to organize a massive party was at 17. In the mid-’90s, Madi moved from Mississauga to Toronto when he enrolled at York University [he graduated with a BA in political science in 1996]. His circle of friends grew and his parties grew bigger. Soon he moved to work for the one of the biggest venues in town, the Guvernment. Now he is a partner in ZRF, which holds more than five weekly events at downtown bars including The Docks, Metro and Lot332. It makes money by spreading the word about the parties and delivering a big crowd – and then earning a percentage off the cover charges clubgoers pay at the door.

York scholarship spurs student

Branden Gordon, a Grade 12 pupil at Kipling Avenue’s Monsignor Percy Johnson Catholic High School, has earned the second highest overall average among Toronto’s Catholic schools, reported the Etobicoke Guardian July 31. “My main goal was to win the scholarship from York so I wouldn’t have to work through university,” said Gordon, who is registered to start at York this fall.

Surviving the 401

In a July 30 feature on commuting to Toronto along Highway 401 from cities west of the metropolis, the Guelph Mercury said timing is everything.”Even a 15-minute window can make a difference,” said Mary-Lou Schagena, who drives to her job at York from her Kitchener home. “Leaving at 7:30 instead of 7:15 can put you behind the eight ball,” said the FAculty of Fine Arts publicist.

On air

  • Grant Strate, founder of York’s Dance Department, joined FM 89.5 CIUT’s co-host Samara Thompson on July 31 to talk about his tenure at York and his Lifetime Achievement Award from CORPUS Ballet International.
  • Paul Delaney, senior lecturer in York’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, explained what happens to the three external tanks on a shuttle after liftoff, on CTV News’ regular Friday feature “Ask Us” July 29.