The cost of victory

"If our parents and grandparents were as ‘wobbly’ as many Canadians are today," retired general Lewis MacKenzie writes, "we would have left the First World War in 1915" (There Is No Such Thing As An ‘Exit Strategy" – April 25). If not just Canada but all the belligerent countries had been sensible enough to quit the war in 1915, the world might have been spared a great deal of evil, wrote Michiel Horn, York professor emeritus of history at Glendon, in a letter to The Globe and Mail April 27.

It is unlikely, for example, either Hitler or Stalin would ever have led his country, wrote Horn. It is wrong to assert "wars are over when victory has been achieved." Sometimes, there is no clear victory by either side. Sometimes, wars end when one or both sides realize victory is simply not worth the cost. Perhaps we should take general MacKenzie’s column as further evidence war is too important to be left to generals.

A no-win situation

A sports league wherein everyone is treated equal regardless of the win/loss record is akin to a perverse form of socialism, wrote David Menzies in a column about a children’s indoor soccer league for the National Post April 27. Joe Baker, an assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in York’s Faculty of Health, agrees that a no score/no champions policy is dubious. "I don’t buy into the idea that since there’s no clear winner or loser this will lead to better sportsmanship," he says. "If everybody is deemed equal, then how can [players] demonstrate compassion or empathy?"

Indeed, Baker says there is "compelling research" indicating that doling out trophies to all participants "actually cheapens the experience because you’re not intrinsically motivating them – a trophy should be so much more than recognition that [the player] had a good experience." Baker also worries that not keeping score is actually "counterproductive" for player development. "Sport is a great avenue for conflict resolution skills. I think when you make it so that no one ever loses, how can you develop the ability to lose well?"

Campaign donations aim to influence policy, says MacDermid

Corporations and unions funded more than half the donations that helped Hamilton council get elected, wrote the Hamilton Spectator April 27. Though perfectly legal, companies aren’t doling out money for the sake of democracy, said Robert MacDermid, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, who has studied election financing. "They hope to change policies. They hope to back a candidate." Citizens do the same thing when they choose to support a candidate who represents their ideology, he adds.

Politicians are "naive" if they think the public doesn’t believe corporate donations affect their decision-making, MacDermid said. "They are then seen by the public to represent those interests, instead of the broader interest of the people who elected them."

Composer’s current project a bloody good time

After a long journey with plenty of blood spilled along the way, North York-based musician, composer and York alumnus Frank Cipolla (MBA ’01) is happy to find himself back on familiar ground, wrote the North York Mirror April 26. Cipolla composed the music for Evil Dead: the Musical, the gory, campy play that is returning to Toronto after a successful five-month run in New York City. The play is a reprisal of the Evil Dead horror films, largely set to music.

While more polished, the latest production still features plenty of gore, and the "Splatter Zone," a section of seats where audience members may be spattered with fake blood, remains a vital part of the show’s overall sense of fun. Given its tone, Cipolla said he would love to take Evil Dead: the Musical on a tour of college and university campuses.

How science tests climate theories

It is becoming common to read or hear statements, intentional or not, discrediting the science that will steer us from potentially devastating climate disruption, wrote Dave McMillan, research associate in York’s Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering and the Green party of Canada candidate for Beaches-East York, in a guest column for the Toronto Star April 27.

The Star recently published a letter from Victor Ward claiming, "there is a mountain of evidence to suggest (global warming) is not solely caused by humans." I have not seen that mountain, but consider the following: Recent reports by the UN-sanctioned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), comprising 2,000 top scientists from across the globe, conclude that human activity is the primary cause of current warming.

There must always be political and scientific debate on this and other issues that have become rooted as much in passion as rational observation. The key, however, is to ensure the debate is based on the latter and that we not lose sight of the fundamental means by which we understand Earth systems, criticize scientific opinion, and advance the technology we need to solve such problems.

Blind Osgoode graduate continues his TTC fight

Blind human rights lawyer and York alumnus David Lepofsky (LLB ‘79) is becoming his own best client, wrote the Toronto Star April 27. Two years ago, he won a 10-year battle with the TTC when an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered the transit authority to immediately begin announcing all subway stops, a practice that didn’t exist when he launched his first complaint in 1994.

Yesterday he was back before a human rights tribunal making virtually the same case, but this time to force the TTC to announce all stops on its bus and streetcar routes, wrote the Star. "The TTC has contravened my human rights by not consistently and reliably announcing all bus and streetcar stops," he told a hearing before Justice Alvin Rosenberg, the same adjudicator.

Forty years after Expo 67

He is now a well-travelled academic but on the top of his stack of expired passports, Paul Laurendeau keeps a small red booklet – a memento of the days when he was nine, wrote The Globe and Mail April 27. "It was one of the most beautiful memories of my childhood," he said as he looked at the multicoloured stamps in his Expo 67 passport. "It was like a fairy tale brought into our world." Forty years ago today, the Montreal Universal and International Exposition of 1967 opened, a seminal event that still casts a spell on generations of Canadians.

Laurendeau later studied in France and is now a professor of French linguistics in York’s Faculty of Arts. Even as he realizes that the world isn’t as simple as it appeared at Expo 67, he said he still feels the same thrill each time he travels to a foreign country. "We were happy then. And we didn’t even know it."