Helping students kick the procrastination habit

One recent Tuesday at noon the counselling group for procrastinators met at York University, but although nine students had signed up, only three got around to attending, and one of them straggled in 40 minutes late, reported Maclean’s in its Feb. 20 issue. Clarry Lay, a retired psychology professor who has led groups for dawdlers for more than a decade, is used to this kind of thing. A reformed “heavy-duty procrastinator” and pioneering researcher of procrastination in academic settings, Lay says many procrastinators suffer from neurotic disorganization: they’re unable to focus on everyday details such as showing up on time.

Lay gave everyone a handout, a 10-step program, if you will. Number 1: We must spend more time working on tasks that are most important. Number 2: We must be prepared to give up spending time on something that is less important. Work even if you’re not in the mood; making yourself do it creates the mood. “The timely pursuit of our honourable intentions is the measure of success in life,” he told the group. Afterward he admitted, “There’s no strong negative association between being a procrastinator and grade point average – that’s something you don’t want to publicize to this group, but it’s what the research indicates.”

Women to the left, men to the right

Since the early 1990s, parties on the right have held less appeal for women than they have for men, reported the authors of the Canadian Election Study in an op-ed piece in The Globe and Mail Feb. 15. While the newly united right succeeded in closing the gender gap in 2004, it reopened in last month’s election. In the closing days of the campaign, women outside of Quebec were once again less likely than men to say that they would be voting Conservative, by an average of 10 points. If fewer women than men were voting for the Conservatives in 2006, it was not because they were voting for the Liberals. As they had since 1997, more women than men were voting NDP outside Quebec, according to data from the 2004 and 2006 Canadian Election Studies conducted by the Institute for Social Research at York University.

Michael Wilson next ambassador to US?

Michael Wilson, a high-profile cabinet minister under Brian Mulroney, will be Canada’s next ambassador to Washington, according to “CTV News”, reported Canadian Press Feb. 15. The appointment of Wilson to the top diplomatic post is expected by the end of the week, CTV says. Wilson is well known in American political and financial circles, largely because he helped negotiate the Canada-US free trade agreement. Wilson is best known as the federal finance minister who introduced the much-maligned Goods and Services Tax in 1990. Besides finance, Wilson also served as minister of industry, science and technology and of international trade. York presented the business leader, mental health advocate and statesman with an honorary doctorate in 2005.

Safety council urges bodychecking ban

“Bodychecking in minor hockey could jeopardize our national sport by turning it into our most dangerous game,” wrote Emile Therien, president of the Canada Safety Council, in the St. Albert Gazette Feb. 15. “The February issue of the journal Pediatrics published a study by York University and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Researchers found that children who start checking at age 10 are twice as likely to be injured as those who start after age 14,” he noted. “Minor hockey is a better game to watch and play without bodychecking. When players concentrate on skating, shooting, passing and teamwork the quality of the game improves. If players skate well, the other skills become academic. The Canada Safety Council urges hockey associations to reconsider their stand on body checking.” Therien’s opinion were also cited on “The Morning Show” on CHQR-AM in Calgary Feb. 13.

Prof’s father was a friend of Dylan Thomas

Poet, traveller and flamenco guitarist, Charles Fisher was a life-long bohemian and a schoolboy friend and collaborator of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, reported The Globe and Mail Feb. 15 in an obituary. His daughter Caitlin Fisher, an academic and Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture at York, said her father had spent his whole life trying to avoid what he called “the Dylan industry.” But he relented on the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death in 2003 and gave keynote addresses in Swansea and at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Belinda, please don’t run

People with money and power often surround themselves with staff who are supportive and admiring, at times obsequious, wrote the Vancouver Sun’s Barbara Yaffe in a Feb. 14 column, reprinted in Regina’s Leader-Post Feb. 15. So it’s left to me to convey heartfelt advice to Belinda Stronach as she ponders whether to run for the Liberal leadership: Belinda, don’t do it! Her run for the Conservative leadership was positively presumptuous. Running for the Liberals will reflect nothing short of a serious detachment from reality, wrote Yaffe, pointing out that Stronach quit York University during her first year of study, but landed on her feet by joining Magna International – her father’s auto parts business.

On air

  • Myriam Mongrain, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts who specializes in relationship dynamics, discussed whether there really is only one person in the world who is perfect for you, on TVO’s “More To Life” Feb. 14.
  • On Feb. 14, hosts of City-tv’s “Breakfast TV” chatted about a declaration by Seth Feldman, a film professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, that Homer and Marg Simpson are today’s most romantic couple.