Economist’s energy theory is no excuse for throwing in the towel, says York prof

Government is fooling itself if it believes that improving the energy efficiency of appliances, buildings, vehicles and businesses will result in less energy consumption and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released yesterday from CIBC World Markets Chief economist Jeff Rubin, wrote the Toronto Star Nov. 28.

"These are problems you have to anticipate in policy design, but they’re not excuses for throwing in the towel," said Mark Winfield, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, in a rebuttal. "The fact is if we don’t improve our energy efficiency we’re toast. There’s no other way to say it."

Winfield said there’s a difference between the efficiencies we get under normal product life cycles and targeted efficiencies that are being accelerated through tightening of building codes and standards, the introduction of carbon taxes, the recycling of waste energy and pricing policies that reflect the true cost of fuels and electricity.

If energy prices rise in tandem with energy efficiency, then the consumer ends up breaking even and there’s no savings that can be directed to increased consumption, he added. "I just think it’s way more complex than (Rubin’s) hypothesis suggests."

Trash talk not just for the NHL

When kids see their parents, coaches or hockey heroes punching or taunting each other, they tend to emulate it, says Joseph Baker, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 28 in a story about an incident involving two teams of eight-year-olds at a tournament in Guelph, Ont.

"At eight or nine years old, kids don’t behave naturally that way – they had to learn it somewhere," Baker said.

Baker says the incident in Guelph illustrates a “big systematic problem” with children’s hockey in Canada. Multiple factors are to blame, he said: parents investing too much in their children’s performance; not enough focus on skills development; and coaches who have lost perspective.

Ad agencies know who controls the purse strings, says Middleton

For the last several months, I’ve taken note of radio and TV ads that involve situations involving two people: one a man and the other a woman. In every spot except one (by FedEx), men were portrayed as imbeciles, wrote columnist David Menzies in the National Post Nov. 28. York University marketing professor Alan Middleton adds another noteworthy point: Since women in many households control the purse strings, ad agencies figure it’s not a prudent idea to upset the individual who is likely to make the purchase. Thus, if the script calls for a dolt, it’s a no-brainer the man will play the fool.

Bowman sees smaller recording companies in the music world of the future

For new artists, climbing the ladder of success has always been tough, wrote The Winnipeg Sun Nov. 28, in a story about the future of music. Soon it’s going to be even harder. They’re going to have to build the ladder themselves. And then sell it door-to-door. And those acts will be forced to spend more time on tour, says Rob Bowman, Grammy-winning music historian and professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

While the major labels will still be around, they may not be as big, adds Bowman. "Instead of having four majors dominating the industry, maybe we’ll have 30 or 40 mid-level companies," he said.

But Bowman believes that ultimately, no matter how technology, tastes and trends change, music will thrive. "The bottom line is that people are going to continue making music. If tomorrow it suddenly became illegal to make a penny off of music through recording, live performances or any other way, there would still be tons of bands playing. There will be a healthy music scene everywhere."

Non-fiction award winner, Frost, teaches at York

It took Karolyn Smardz Frost 20 years to document the journey of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn from slavery in Kentucky to freedom in Toronto via the Underground Railroad, wrote The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) Nov. 28.

The time was well spent. The book Frost eventually wrote, I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land, is this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award winner in the English non-fiction category. The award is worth $25,000. "I didn’t believe I had won, until today," an emotional Frost confided over the phone from Toronto.

Frost now divides her time between homes in Collingwood and Nova Scotia. She works in Toronto, where she is executive director of the Ontario Historical Society and a contract faculty member in York’s Atkinson School of Arts & Letters.

I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land is Frost’s second book devoted to the Underground Railroad. She co-wrote The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto with Adrienne Shadd and Afua Cooper.

No job for an adult

Parliament is filled with highly educated, highly accomplished individuals – although you’d never know it, wrote Susan Riley of the Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 28, in a column about the resignation of Toronto MP John Godfrey. There are at least four doctors, a brace of engineers, business owners, actors, an architect, a priest and more lawyers than you’d care to count among the 308 federal MPs. Jack Layton has a PhD in political science from York University and a distinguished political pedigree.

On air

  • Former York student, actor Catherine Bruhier, was featured in a segment on CBC Radio (St. John, NB) Nov. 27.
  • York alumnus Jehad Al-Iweiwi (BA ‘95), a Palestinian-Canadian activist and former executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation, took part in a debate about Palestine, on TVO’s The Agenda, Nov. 27.