Gender-based getaways reveal different bonding needs

When men go on canoe trips and women invade the shopping malls, they’re recapturing the very first moments that they learned what it meant to be male or female, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 20. Professor Andrea O’Reilly, of York’s Women’s Studies Department, has examined gender differences in literature and culture. “Men’s leisure and bonding happens in doing, women’s happens in being,” she said. “Women don’t have to do anything.” Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women are two books exemplifying these differences, she said. Huck “goes from adventure to adventure but, in Little Women, the girls just talk and put on plays in the parlour.”

No waking moment should go unamused

From the $200-million business in quickie cell-phone games to such new forms as “Mobisodes” – one-minute spinoffs of TV shows such as Fox’s “24” – marketers are shoehorning increasingly fleeting diversions into our already media-saturated lives, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune Aug. 21. These brief bursts of entertainment target what might be the last frontier of “leisure” time – those interludes spent waiting in line, walking to the car or even visiting the restroom. The trend takes advantage of the nearly 200 million cell phones in use in the United States, not to mention the proliferation of other mobile devices.

With so many diversions available to fill even the briefest of moments, there may be subtle pressure to avoid the appearance of doing nothing. “I was on a plane recently – and generally I enjoy being on a plane because it’s the one space where I cannot surf the Internet, I cannot use my cell phone, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to type stuff into my Blackberry,” said Markus Giesler, a professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business who studies how people use mobile devices. “The problem was, this was one of those planes that comes with an Internet connection. You have people on their computers on the plane, and you feel guilty – that you should do something. That you should hack yourself into the Matrix, instead of just sitting there.”

Clijsters takes quick route to Rogers Cup triumph

Kim Clijsters topped off her week in Toronto Sunday with a tidy 7-5, 6-1 victory over Belgian compatriot Justine Henin-Hardenne in the singles final of the $1.3-million US Rogers Cup, reported The Toronto Sun Aug. 22. Clijsters earned $189,000 for the tournament victory, which was her first in Canada. Henin-Hardenne, who won this event two years ago, took home $95,900. Considering Clijsters’ cumulative performance at the Rexall Centre at York University, she easily confirmed her status as one of the favourites to win the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, the US Open, which begins next week in New York.

In other tennis coverage:

  • The Toronto Star said that after a week of rain and injury, it didn’t come as a big surprise that attendance at this year’s Rogers Cup tournament was down. Final figures show that 136,789 people came through the turnstiles at the event. Tournament director Stacey Allaster admitted that figure fell below the 155,000 to 160,000 spectators that they had hoped to attract, saying that the withdrawals of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams hurt. Still, two years ago, Martina Navratilova told the crowd at the old York University stadium that she wouldn’t be back. Sunday, she won the doubles title here, so that was kind of a big lie, stated the Star.
  • The Sun described the effect of Friday’s flash storm: By about 4 pm, centre court at the Rexall Centre at York University had been transformed into a wading pool. The water was six inches deep. Players gleefully splashed each other and performed swimming strokes for eager cameramen.
  • The Star also focused on a tennis season riddled with injuries. This week’s event on the campus of York University – which is adorned by the WTA Tour with Tier I status, a step removed from the game’s four Grand Slam tournaments – has been notable mostly for the health-related withdrawals of big-name players such as Maria Sharapova, Mary Pierce, Venus and Serena Williams.

Bissoondath’s new novel is about a suicide bomber

As topical as today’s headlines, Neil Bissoondath‘s new novel, The Unyielding Clamour of the Night, effectively chronicles the making of a suicide bomber, reported The Globe and Mail Aug. 20. Bissoondath’s hero is Arun, a sensitive young man from the capital who spurns a comfortable inheritance and takes a job teaching in a rural elementary school, in the very heartland of the insurgency. There, his sunny idealism encounters and eventually succumbs to bleak reality, with horrific consequences.

At 18, Bissoondath emigrated to Canada from Trinidad. He earned a BA in French at York in 1977. For years he taught French and English as second languages, publishing his first collection of short stories, Digging Up the Mountain, in 1985 and his first novel, A Casual Brutality, three years later.

Ontario licence move angers native fishermen

Fishing operations of native fishermen are now in jeopardy as the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources moves to prohibit non-band members – even the Indians’ mixed-race children – from working on native fishing boats, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 20. Professor Shin Imai, who specializes in aboriginal law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says the constitutional protections are general in nature and subject to specific circumstances. “We should protect free speech such as criticisms against the government, but in some situations, such as the promotion of child pornography, the rights shouldn’t be protected,” he explained. “So, they (Indians) have had commercial fishing rights; what does that mean today, when we have fewer fish in our lake than we used to? The public and the government do need to recognize these treaty rights, which were not given sufficient recognition in the past, and we should begin to recognize them in the present.”

Anti-Semitic Web site ‘disturbing’

A Jewish group has filed a complaint to the University of Ottawa against one of its professors after the discovery of content on his Web site that blames Jews for the terrorist attacks on the United States, and claims the numbers who died at Auschwitz are exaggerated, reported the Ottawa Citizen Aug. 20. The Web site also features postings that suggest Israel, the US and Britain are the real perpetrators of the recent attacks on London. The site, which is not hosted by the university, is run by Michel Chossudovsky, a controversial left-leaning economist, and came to the attention of B’nai Brith Canada after public complaints to the advocacy group and the Citizen.

Even sympathetic colleagues familiar with his work admit they are uncomfortable with many of his ideas. “Among people who work on terrorism, there certainly is not much that resembles his work,” said Michael Dartnell, a political scientist in York’s Faculty of Arts. “The thing that disturbs me about what he’s doing is there is a conspiratorial element to it. And I can’t prove or disprove it.” Nonetheless, added Dartnell, Chossudovsky’s ideas reflect a public sentiment that is suspicious of the motives of government. “He wants, probably for very sincere reasons, to formulate a substantive critique of what the US government is doing. I’m just not really clear that he’s successful in doing that.”

Older students need tuition aid

In a letter to the Toronto Star published Aug. 20, undergraduate arts student Edward Fenner, president of the York University Mature Students’ Organization, wrote: “It’s welcome news that some of the poorest students will get some relief regarding their tuitions. However, it appears there’s absolutely no money for mature students in this new program. There are thousands of poor and struggling students in their 30s, 40s and older attending universities on degree programs. Why are they being excluded from this grant program? Mature students are in great need of assistance as well.”

York skating duo aim for Olympic team

Training 10 hours a day in a windowless arena during the dog days of summer can be a real grind, but Leif Gislason and Lauren Senft aren’t complaining, reported the Winnipeg Free Press Aug. 20. Especially not after the Winnipeg ice dancer and his Vancouver-born partner learned this past week that they had been added to the Skate America roster – the first of six international events in the prestigious ISU Grand Prix series. The Olympic season opener in Atlantic City, NJ, in mid-October will mark Gislason and Senft’s senior Grand Prix debut. They are longshots to make the Olympic team this season. Sunday Gislason was to make the 22-hour drive home to Winnipeg from his training site in Barrie, Ont., for a week of rest and relaxation, reported the Free Press. Come September, the skating duo will be back in Ontario to begin classes at Toronto’s York University, where Gislason is entering third-year administrative studies and Senft, first-year psychology courses.

Exodus both ways

Putting aside the curious tales of Canadian Jews giving up their lives here to move to Israel, there are actually thousands of Jews doing the opposite, reported Calgary-based Western Standard magazine Aug. 22. Rina Cohen, a sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, is one of them. Putting economic considerations ahead of spiritual ones, she and her husband left Israel in 1979 to work in Canada. In fact, Citizenship and Immigration Canada figures show that about 2,500 Israelis a year immigrated to Canada between 1999 and 2003. “Canada is a great country, an amazing country,” Cohen said. “A great place to raise kids and live, despite the winter.”

Acco chief seeks ringing success

On Aug. 30, David Campbell, Chair and chief executive of Acco Brands Corp., will get his second chance in two years to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, reported the Chicago Tribune Aug. 21. The first time, Campbell celebrated Acco’s 100th birthday, which occurred while it was part of Fortune Brands Inc. This time his bell ringing will celebrate Acco’s emergence as a public company. For the past five years, the 55-year-old Canadian, who lives in Lake Forest, only minutes from the Lincolnshire offices of the company once known as the American Clip Co., has been fixing Acco’s problems and preparing for the day when it would become independent. Campbell holds a 1976 master’s degree in business administration from York.

‘Guerilla’ filming of Toronto’s homeless

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. Len Rosen isn’t too sure who said this, but the aspiring Mississauga filmmaker took the advice to heart when he set out to do a documentary on Toronto’s homeless, reported Mississauga News Aug. 19. With no preconceptions – and equipped only with his camera – Rosen took to the streets, practically living with his subjects for several years during the filming. The result is Innocent Faces, 55 minutes of cinema vérité culled from some 10 hours of raw footage. It was shot sporadically over a three-year period. “There was no script; it was guerrilla filming,” said Rosen, a product of the suburbs who studied sociology from 1992 to 1996 at York. “I’d run out and shoot as much as I can and do it again the next day.”

Entrepreneurial student’s bands help pay bills

The escalating cost of tuition hasn’t daunted York student Eboni David: she started a small business to help finance her education, reported Metro’s Workology column Aug. 22. The biggest challenge for the 26-year-old Toronto woman, who started an armband/legband business called Cariband in 1999 to make extra money outside of her two part-time jobs, is getting out of debt. But since she’s applying to universities to earn her master’s degree in clinical psychology, it doesn’t look like her debts will budge anytime soon. “I think it’s kind of the way the wave of education is going,” said David, who graduated from York University with a bachelor of arts in psychology in 2002. “It’s so expensive and a lot of people are pursuing their undergrad, as well as a master’s degree, and you need to find ways, sometimes even outside of your nine-to-five (job), to help kind of fund a lot of your interests or your goals and your schooling. So I see a lot of students becoming entrepreneurs, coming up with ideas and seeing where it will take them.”

Young and wild – for traditional values

A team of students and young professionals is travelling the country meeting with politicians to tell them they’ve got the wrong idea about the next generation, reported the National Post Aug. 22. Jesse Sudirgo, a 21-year-old religious studies student at York and a member of the Indonesian Christian Church of Canada, said strong numbers of young people are religious and hold steadfast to traditional values. “You go to each university campus or high school campus, you’ll notice a Christian fellowship. Even at my high school, [the Christian club] was the biggest club,” he said. “We feel right now that the church needs to rise up – big time.”

Rain damage wiped out part of Finch Avenue

A freakish storm left a biblical-style swath of destruction across the city and at least $1 million in damage as the earth opened up, rivers flooded, power went out and trees came down Friday afternoon, reported The Toronto Sun Aug. 21. A major washout of Finch Ave. W. near Sentinel Rd., not far from York University, left a gaping chasm across the busy thoroughfare that will take several months and at least $1 million to repair (see Headline News).