York solves Israeli boy’s math problem

Chen Kupperman had to leave the Middle East to pursue a love of mathematics in Canada, said “CTV News” anchor Lloyd Robertson in his introduction of an Oct. 26 feature about the second-year York student produced by Sandie Rinaldo (BA ’73). “But what’s so remarkable here is that this young scholar is only 14 years old,” continued Robertson. “It’s all plus signs for his family and for a University that knew a stellar student when it saw one,” said Robertson. Rinaldo interviewed Kupperman, his mother and sister. “By the time he was 13, the Grade 8 student was computing at a university level. But the doors to a full-time post-secondary education were firmly locked” in Israel, she reported. So when an offer came to attend York, “the family jumped at it,” she said. Robert Tiffin, York vice-president students, told Rinaldo: “I’ve been in the admissions business for about 30 years, and I can only recall maybe three other students of this calibre.” Chen, concluded Rinaldo, “sees teaching in his future, grateful that a Canadian university found the solution to an Israeli boy’s math problem.”

Better health care predicted in wake of `offensive’ court ruling

A new world of medical care featuring government guarantees of good service and head-to-head competition between hospitals and private clinics is likely in the wake of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling, a prominent supporter of the decision predicted Wednesday, reported the National Post and other major CanWest newspapers Oct. 27. Senator Michael Kirby told a York University forum on the court’s Chaoulli decision he did not believe a wholesale move to two-tier medicine was in the offing, but forecast a series of dramatic changes. “The Chaoulli decision will not destroy Canada’s publicly funded health-care system,” he told the conference at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.It will put significant pressure on hospitals and doctors to improve the efficiency of the service delivery systems. The end result will be better health care for Canadians.”

DNA links to binge eating

York Professor Caroline Davis is investigating what makes us fat – including our DNA and our decisions, reported The Hamilton Spectator Oct. 27. A leading expert on eating disorders, Davis heads a group of Toronto researchers doing a genetic study of binge-eating disorder. The study is looking at both biology (through DNA samples) and personality as contributors to compulsive overeating. “Binge eating is an important contributor to the increase in the population’s body weight,” said Davis. In the study, each participant’s genetic material (DNA) is being examined for particular genes that seem to lead some people to develop disordered eating while others do not. In a separate study, Davis is studying how overeating may be partly due to a decreased ability to make good decisions that consider long-term negative consequences.

Prof’s book wins American prize

York Prof. John Picchione’s book The New Avant-Garde: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices has won the American Association of Italian Studies annual award for promoting Italian culture, reported Tandem/Corriere Canadese Oct. 23. The judges were impressed with the “well-informed and original debate” on the Italian new avant-garde, reported the Toronto-based newspaper. Picchione, an Italian studies professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, said he was “completely surprised and honoured by the American association’s decision. It’s very important to receive this kind of encouragement.” The book, published in 2004, deals with Italian culture from 1950 to 1960. North Americans believe that avant-garde ideas from that period came from France. But they developed in Italy, said Picchione.

Mac limits break-fast gatherings this Ramadan

McMaster University has put its foot down on large Istar gatherings to break Ramadan fast this year, citing health concerns as well as the exclusive food provision deal hospitality services has on campus, reported The Hamilton Spectator Oct. 27. Officials have told the Muslim Students Association they either have to have their Istar meals catered by hospitality services or break up into smaller groups across campus. The University of Toronto and York University set aside space for Istar gatherings for 400 and 500 students.

Campaign starts for Scarborough subway

A petition launched Thursday by two Scarborough councillors urges Toronto, Toronto Transit Commission, and provincial and federal governments to work together to build a Scarborough subway to replace the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 27. Building a Scarborough subway, at a cost of up to $1 billion, could make it tough for the TTC to finance and build the proposed $1.4 billion extension of the Spadina subway line to York University at the same time. “If a limited number of resources are available, of course there’s a conflict,” TTC chair Howard Moscoe – who’s also a North York councillor – said. Moscoe said the Scarborough RT would take priority because it’s an existing service, but there’s no guarantee it would be replaced by a subway. North York Councillor Maria Augimeri said, “I would say York [should be built first] because it’s been in the pipe for such a long time, and we have environmental assessments already done. But I don’t believe Scarborough must be put on the back burner. There are two front burners on every stove.”

On air

  • Glen Norcliffe, a geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed his book Global Game, Local Arena: Restructuring in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and how a one-industry town survives in today’s global economy, on CBC Radio’s “West Coast Morning” in Cornerbrook Oct. 26.

  • York student Shamini Selvaratnam, an executive member of the York Federation of Students, discussed student debt, in a series aired on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” Oct. 26. She said by the time she finishes her undergraduate degree she will be about $25,000 in debt, and if she pursues a law degree she will be a further $100,000 in debt. The item also aired last week on CBC Radio’s morning shows.