Why are your cars ‘boring, bland and… sucky’?

The posting by user u0000000 is entitled: "Why do North American versions suck so bad?" He or she elaborates: "Why is the Ford Focus so good over the other side of the pond and why is the one over here so … boring, bland and just plain sucky?"

Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University, believes Ford Motor Company is ahead of the communications curve by embracing such a social media Web site as its new Ford Powered By You, wrote the Winnipeg Free Press June 6.

“I think if we were having this conversation 10 years from now, this – a company allowing consumers to post criticism – will be the norm, not the exception,” says Middleton. He notes that because Ford runs the Web site, the company can be “more engaged with its customers” and “responsive” to criticism, “which is a good thing.”

In BC, sock puppets are behaving badly

On Tuesday afternoon, Osgoode Hall Law School alumnus Khurrum Awan (LLB ‘07) was on the stand, testifying to the dire effects of writer Mark Steyn’s musings on Islam and demography for Maclean’s had had on his soul, wrote columnist Colby Cosh in the National Post June 6 in a story about a BC Human Rights Tribunal’s ongoing inquiry. Awan is one of the students who have come to be known in the free-speech blogosphere as the “sock puppets”: He and three others were the complainants in the failed Ontario human rights case against Maclean’s, and the quartet had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a settlement between the Canadian Islamic Congress and the magazine.

One thing that the CIC and the Osgoode students have been at particular pains to emphasize is that they wanted their proposed rebuttal to Steyn in Maclean’s to be written by a “mutually acceptable” author. The “mutually acceptable” line has not only been pushed incessantly by Faisal and the Osgoode crew, but has become a major talking point for the few on-line defenders of the group. Unfortunately, when asked about it under oath by someone who had been in the room, Awan was forced to backtrack. “I suggest to you that you never said ‘mutually acceptable’ at that meeting,” Julian Porter told him. Awan, by all accounts looking remarkably sheepish, had to admit that his original demand had not explicitly provided room for a “mutually acceptable” author.

It goes without saying that this should be fatal to their case in the court of public opinion. And the legal profession they are about to enter has some hard decisions to make about their ethical credibility.

York prof wants an MBA-sp (for spousal support

Studying for an MBA is hard work. I know, because for the past year my spouse has been a business student, wrote Tom Klassen, political science professor in York’s Atkinson School of Public Policy & Administration, in The Globe and Mail June 6. When Susan graduates in a few weeks, it will feel as though I have earned a degree as well.

The MBA Program at the Schulich School of Business at York University, where Susan studied, makes it clear that the support and encouragement of significant others motivates students to succeed. In fact, there is an association for MBA spouses and significant others on campus that meets regularly for mutual support and to share strategies about how partners can survive the educational experience.

In a fair world, given the knowledge and skills that I acquired during Susan’s MBA studies, York University would grant me a degree during this month’s convocation: a ½ MBA, or maybe an MBA-sp (for spousal).

Problems with wildlife in the garden?

York University biology Professor Laurence Packer, Canada’s foremost bee expert, says 19,231 different kinds of bees have been identified – but there might be as many as 5,000 more yet to be done, wrote the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin June 6.

York University has a collection of 100,000 bees. Recently, international bee experts met in Toronto to develop a plan to catalogue all species of bees in the world through their DNA. Each will be given a name and a barcode. It will show which plant that species pollinates.

Thirtysomethings at risk for measles

Thousands of thirtysomethings who left school before a second measles-mumps-rubella booster shot was introduced remain at risk of contracting measles, public health officials warn. In fact, this demographic group is at the epicentre of a current measles outbreak in Toronto, wrote the Toronto Star June 6.

Alison Halsall, 34, an adjunct professor in York University’s Atkinson School of Arts & Letters, says she heard about the measles outbreak on the radio two weeks ago. “Coincidentally, my mom dug out my vaccination record and brought it down to Toronto recently, and my measles shot doesn’t even appear,” says Halsall. “I go for an annual physical each September and I’ll certainly bring it up,” she says. “If there were more and more cases, I’d make a point of going to my GP right away and getting the shot.”