How to break TV addiction

Canadians on average watch 21.2 hours of TV each week, taking up to 30 per cent of the time we aren’t working or sleeping. But when is it too much? asked Canada’s free daily Dose Dec. 9. “The best way to know if you’re an addict is to ask yourself if you can just stop watching,” York psychology course director Oren Amitay says. “Can you stop watching that show cold turkey? If you can’t, then you’re an addict.” The best way to break an idiot-box addiction is to find a substitute activity, Amitay says, such as reading or exercising. But the reason we find vegging out so tempting could be more than a product of our gossip-loving times. Amitay says studies have shown people in primitive cultures have their own version of TV — campfires. “It’s only evolutionary psychology, but in primitive cultures, after a long day of hunting, a man would come home and sit around watching fires,” he says. “There is a theory that that’s what TV is about.”

Election ads are tame before holiday

The opening salvoes in the television ad war have so far been fairly tame – the Conservatives pitching policy and the Liberals selling their economic record, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 9. You can thank the holiday season for the easy-going tone so far, experts say. Campaign managers, wary of interrupting a cheery Christmas television special with a hard-hitting, negative ad, are likely to keep that kind in their arsenal until after the holiday hiatus. “I think they’ll try to go easy on that stuff,” said Fred Fletcher, director of York University’s joint graduate program in communication and culture, and a professor of political science. “They don’t always produce a backlash but there’s always the risk,” he said.

Critics assail Liberal gun ban

Paul Martin introduced a controversial election promise to ban all handguns as part of a plan to make communities safer, but the provinces will not be forced to take part, leaving one critic calling it a public relations exercise, reported the National Post Dec. 9. “I thought our ban was pretty absolute, so I’m having trouble understanding whether he’s actually proposing something or he’s just trying to get Brownie points,” said Alan Young, a criminal law expert at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

If at first you fail as a boss, hit ‘reset’

“Sorry, Lisa, I really didn’t mean for it to end that way. I didn’t want you to quit. My goal was to get you to improve your performance as a sales rep,” wrote Richard Bloom, a former Report on Business reporter, in his Dec. 9 Globe and Mail column about lessons he is learning as an MBA student at York’s Schulich School of Business. “Luckily, I had the chance to fix my first failure as a manager by double-clicking an icon on my desktop – and starting the simulation over. The simulation, called The Manager’s Workshop, was a mandatory component of my organizational behaviour class – a core business course about how organizations work, how people interact with each other in corporate settings, and how bottom-line performance can be improved by the effective management of human resources.” He got it the second time. “By the end of my second effort at the simulation, her sales improved substantially – and I became a better manager, as I successfully applied the lessons I learned with Lisa to other employees in the program.”

Giving back to the roots of success

A couple of years ago, the Kenyan-born and British-educated engineer Firoz Rasul ended a 20-year business career in Canada as chairman of a BC-based company that is a world leader in fuel-cell technology, reported The Globe and Mail Dec. 9. He’s devoted years to establishing cultural and religious projects across the country. And last weekend, the naturalized Canadian was named president of one of the most prestigious universities in Pakistan. “As this generation of immigrant professionals scales the peaks of professional success and feels the need for self-actualization, the path Rasul has paved will show them how they should be spending their time, talent and wealth,” said Ashwin Joshi, director of the MBA program at York’s Schulich School of Business and a volunteer who helps raise money and awareness for international issues. Those who are destined to follow in Rasul’s footsteps are now spending time and money on local causes after building a 25-year professional reputation in the Western world, Joshi said. “What is common is that most people come here with very little money and a strong educational background, and they work their way up to the top of the food chain,” he said. “Their focus is on making this country home first, and the concerns of their countries of origin take a back seat.”

City doesn’t budget for York subway

The City of Toronto’s $1.26-billion shopping list includes goodies for just about everyone in the city, reported The Toronto Sun Dec. 9. New TTC buses, more road repairs, a new police station, a new soccer stadium, waterfront enhancements, repairs and upgrades for arenas and community centres and more playground equipment will all be bought this year. “It’s not a new subway, it’s not new major investment, but it does enable us to tell our taxpayers that we’re able to provide a little bit better quality of life,” budget chief David Soknacki said. What didn’t survive the budget knife are the exclusive streetcar lanes on St. Clair. There also isn’t enough money in the next five years to go ahead with projects like expanding the Spadina subway to York University without adding a crushing level of debt to the city.

On air

  • Alan Young, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says Ontario cannot do much to restrict Karla Homolka if she should enter the province, reported CBC Radio’s “News” Dec. 8.
  • City-TV’s “CityNews at Six” talked to Tom Gretes, York’s head football coach, about the 2005 Metro Bowl underway at Rogers Centre, Dec. 8.