National Post covers Congress in ‘Oh, the humanities’ series

The National Post is covering the 75th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, being held this week at York’s Keele campus, in a special week-long series titled “Oh, the humanities”. Below is a sample of stories from May 30 & 31, all noting York University as the host.

  • The serene stay-at-home mother who teaches her children as she cleans and cooks all day remains the main focus of modern literacy advice to families, ignoring the reality of the modern, dual-income working families, a Canadian researcher has concluded. The study at the University of British Columbia showed much of the advice about encouraging children to read remains unchanged from how mothers have been encouraged to do this for the past hundred years.
  • A Columbia University researcher who recreates virtual life-sized archaeological digs and another at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who uses the same technology to track the hidden paths of infection, shedding light on how best to contain an outbreak once it has begun, presented their projects at a symposium on the applications of digital technology for the social sciences. 
  • Post columnist Barbara Kay, taking a cue from one Congress research paper that posited the “Trailer Park Boys” of cable TV fame symbolize a postmodern Trinity, whipped up her own instant thesis that the popular television crime show “CSI”, has its own “Trinitarian” heroes with the star characters representing Christ, Mary Magdalene and Judas.
  • A study presented at Congress by University of Toronto researchers found that more than a fifth of both men and women in a community college business program felt they were the victims of sexual discrimination and concluded that gender equity may have finally been achieved, at least among those who feel their sex hampers their opportunities.
  • Teachers and parents who dismiss video game playing as a futile and even dangerous pastime for boys are failing them, reported the Post’s corporate sister, CanWest News Service, in a May 31 story on new literacy research presented at Congress. Researchers at the University of Victoria concluded that even though girls consistently outscore boys on school standardized tests for reading and writing, the boys exhibited high-level literacy skills while engaged in a leisure activity often blamed for instilling negative values. 

Albo says NDP tactics reveal divisions within the party

Watching Canada’s NDP Leader Jack Layton campaign across the country and continue to hammer the Liberals, one might wonder if his advisers forgot to tell him the last election ended four months ago, wrote The Toronto Sun May 31. Layton spends his weekends flying across the country, targetting regions where support for his party began to snowball over the winter. Back in Ottawa, his team has set up a mini war room aimed not at the governing Conservatives, but squarely at the Liberals. Greg Albo, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, says the party’s shift to the centre and focus on BC and Quebec are attempts to fill a vacuum left by the wilted Liberals and ailing Bloc. But such a significant change doesn’t come without criticism inside and out of the party. “A lot of people who are socially oriented, part of the Liberal party, many people in the NDP itself and many people in the union movement, were not very happy about voting against the Martin government last fall,” said Albo.

Middleton notes rise of ‘do-it-yourself’ news-making ethic

An online petition is urging the BBC to hire Guy Goma, the man who bluffed his way into hearts around the world after a producer at the British broadcaster mistook him for Internet expert Guy Kewney and put him on live television, reported the Toronto Star May 31. While some of us struggle to produce three passable references for job applications, by late last night in Britain, Goma had 2,065 people backing his bid for BBC employment. Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said Goma’s 15 minutes of fame is running long because his widely admired bluff has made him a hero in a world with an increasing do-it-yourself news-making ethic. “The idea that everybody can do what a journalist does, especially on TV, is probably erroneous, but certainly an increasing viewpoint.”