Pit-bull ban is ‘misguided’, says law prof

A coalition of dog and pet advocacy groups feels Ontario’s new pit-bull ban, which comes into effect Monday, could set a dangerous precedent and have retained Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby to represent it, reported the National Post Aug. 25. The legislation prohibits individuals from breeding, transferring and importing pit bulls in Ontario. Among the law’s critics is Alan Young, a law professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and a self-professed dog person, who says it could infringe on the constitutional rights of dog owners in choosing their pets. ”It may have to be shown that ownership of a pet is a fundamental personal decision, a fundamental aspect of the human condition. For me it is. I’m not sure a court would agree.” Young said that whether or not the law will be shown to violate the Charter of Rights, he still believed it was ”misguided.”

Richards’ songs shaped modern rock ‘n’ roll

Still one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest outlaw figures, Keith Richards has also become its ultimate survivor, said the Ottawa Citizen Aug. 25. “Keith’s musical songwriting helped define what modern rock ‘n’ roll became,” said Rob Bowman, an ethnomusicologist in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts who spent three weeks on tour with the Rolling Stones in 2002-2003. “He is nicknamed `The Human Riff’ for a reason.” Bowman compiled the tour interviews for According to the Rolling Stones, a glossy coffee table book featuring hundreds of pictures of the band accompanied by their recollections. Despite being one of rock’s most distinguished songwriting tandems, Richards and Jagger are very different people, said Bowman.Mick wants to be perfect. For example, he has a teleprompter for his songs to give him the lyrics just in case. Keith hates the teleprompter. If something goes awry during one of his songs, he’d rather deal with it in the moment.”

Lockout could cost CBC dollars as well as viewers

The 11-day labour lockout by the CBC has resulted in competitors gaining ratings as the national broadcaster fills its schedule with alternate programs, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 25. Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said this is not a critical time for advertisers because of the summer drop-off that brings 20 per cent lower audience levels than the rest of the year. “If the (lockout) goes on to mid-September, CBC will have to offer advertisers a 10 to 15 per cent discount. It will have to offer 25 to 35 per cent if the strike goes until the middle of October,” he said.

Too early to know why Snowbird jet crashed

With two Snowbird accidents in less than nine months – the latest occurring Wednesday near Thunder Bay – investigators are bound to turn their attention to the safety of the aeronautical team’s aging fleet of Tutor planes, reported the Calgary Herald Aug. 25. Defence analyst Martin Shadwick said engine failure could be from a variety of reasons, not all having to do with the age of the plane. He noted such a failure could come from a technical malfunction, contaminated fuel, or what is known as a “bird strike” – when a bird is sucked into an aircraft’s engine, causing it to shut down. “Although those (Tutor) engines are relatively old they are also known to be very reliable,” added Shadwick, a research associate with York’s Centre for International & Strategic Studies. He said it is too early to come to conclusions since even new aircraft sometimes go through a series of accidents for no particular reason.

New software helps students tackle geometry

High school geometry students will find it easier to grasp the ins and outs of polygons, triangles and vertexes thanks to a new computer software program that allows them to share their ideas, reported the Kingston Whig-Standard Aug. 25. Queen’s University mathematics education professor Geoffrey Roulet developed the new program by combining Geometer’s Sketchpad, a program provided to Ontario classrooms by the Ministry of Education, and Elluminate Live!, a Canadian software application that facilitates real-time learning online. A dozen Grade 12 Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute international baccalaureate students tried the combined networking program last June at Queen’s. Part of the experience included a “virtual field trip” to York for a real-time lesson with expert geometer Walter Whiteley, a math prof in York’s Faculty of Arts. “He took one of his problems and simplified it so that the students could understand,” Roulet said.

OK to laugh in this class

What do you have to do to get an A+ in Melody Johnson‘s class? Make her laugh, that’s what, reported The Daily News in Halifax Aug. 25. Johnson is a faculty member at The School of Comedy (no joke) at Humber College in Toronto. In Halifax for a few weeks of vacation, Johnson’s been convinced to offer workshops in improv comedy at Shakespeare by the Sea’s Point Pleasant Park headquarters. “The toughest thing for students is developing a sense of your own politic,” said Johnson, who graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre from York in 1991. “When you improvise, you can’t be too timid about sharing what you know, things about your family, your heritage, your religion. And the attitude I get is: who would want to watch that? But all that stuff is very entertaining.”

Former gymnast jumps into furniture

Risa Shearer, 37, showed her prowess on the mat as a three-year member of Canada’s gymnastics team, began an item in Vancouver Sun’s Trade Talk column Aug. 25. Shearer (nee Litwin), who graduated from York with a BA in psychology in 1991, also founded and still part-owns Ontario’s Newmarket Gymnastics and Fitness Academy. But her efforts today are directed immediately above floor level. Earlier this year, partnered by brother and Toronto developer Mark Litwin, she opened Kroehler Coastal Home, a home-furnishings store with a 6,500-square-foot showroom at Eighth Avenue and Hemlock Street. Shearer plans to add four more stand-alone Kroehler stores in BC.

On air

  • Thabit Abdullah Sam, a professor of Middle East history in York’s Faculty of Arts, joined other guests on “Michael Coren Live” (CTS-TV) in Toronto Aug. 24 to discuss whether the bombings in Europe have anything to do with Iraq, the radicalization of the Islamic world and the impact of the American invasion of Iraq.