She’s not on the menu

As the holidays approached last year, the owner of my favourite breakfast spot was complaining that Christmas had become too commercial, wrote author Micah Toub in The Globe and Mail April 30, in a column musing about the documentary Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of Service.

"I mean, where’s the love?" she asked. "There’s lots of it in here," I replied, to which she promptly responded, "Well, that’s true. I tell all my girls that it’s not just food we provide." After the exchange, as I sat down to eat, I looked around and was suddenly more aware than ever that I was sharing my meal with a crew of other men, each of them alone.

When I told this story to Donald Carveth, a sociology professor at York University’s Glendon College and a practising psychoanalyst, he gave me his best Freudian take on the feelings – and fantasies – that a man might have for his waitress, which he says tap into his deep-seated Oedipal longings.

"The waitress is a woman who brings food," Carveth said. "And who brought the first food? Mother."

Carveth compared the attraction to waitresses to another stereotypical male fantasy provider, one who also brings pillows and blankets – the stewardess. I pointed out to Carveth that women working in both these occupations tend to lean over you, almost intimately, bringing their cleavage tantalizingly near. "Exactly," he replied, "while she attends to your oral needs."

BCE suit targets Vidéotron’s ‘fastest’ claim

In a story about a lawsuit by BCE Inc. and Bell against Vidéotron Ltée, The Globe and Mail on April 30 said the key difference between the two companies is a technological one: Even though Vidéotron has much faster download speeds on its cable network, Bell said its new Fibe Internet service, which is a DSL technology, has faster upload speeds for when users put heavy content on the Internet.

"Cable is a fatter pipe, (but) the downside of cable is that it was never meant for two-way," said Michael Wade, a professor of IT strategy at York University’s Schulich School of Business. "DSL was always meant for two way, but it was never meant for high bandwidth."

Birds behaving badly 

Your backyard birds are getting up to all kinds of shenanigans, says bird expert Bridget Stutchbury. Adultery. Violence. Bigamy. You name it, birds are doing it, wrote the Calgary Herald April 30.

"Females cheat on their mates, some mothers desert their babies, some parents don’t treat their sons and daughters equally," says the York University Distinguished Research Professor of Biology.

Stutchbury provides a fascinating look at the lives of birds in her new book The Bird Detective: Investigating the Secret Lives of Birds. She reveals their funny side, evident particularly in their wooing rituals. Bluefooted boobies flirt with females by staring straight ahead, standing on one leg and holding the other high in the air. Just imagine a man trying that to attract a woman in a bar.

Figuring out bird habits are all in a day’s work for Stutchbury. Montreal-born, Toronto-raised, she is an internationally renowned researcher and author. Her previous book, Silence of the Songbirds, was a finalist for the 2007 Governor General’s Award. Among her achievements, she and colleagues were the first to figure out how to track songbirds as they migrate, by fitting them with tiny backpacks containing sensors weighing less than a dime.

With her husband, fellow ornithologist Gene Morton, Stutchbury adventures around the world tracking birds. She’s hacked her way through a tropical forest with a machete. Attacks by killer bees are part of her job description.

"There are many events in my life that, I have to confess, are a bit unusual," she says.

A ‘formalistically interesting’ doc

In a review of the documentary How I Filmed the War by Yuval Sagiv (MFA ’09), The Globe and Mail’s James Adams wrote:

This is one of the most formalistically interesting films at this year’s festival. A [former] graduate student in film at Toronto’s York University, Sagiv alternates silent First World War footage with images of text excerpts, scored to an electro-acoustic soundtrack. The footage is from The Battle of the Somme, in its day (1916) a highly regarded documentary on the British war effort against "the Boche", the text from various sources, most notably the autobiography that gives the film its name, written in 1920 by Geoffrey Malins, the cinematographer who shot the Somme reels. Sagiv’s motive is deconstructive, as he combines text and image to demonstrate how the camera can lie, seeing can be deceiving and a picture may need 1,000 words to accurately elicit its content and worth. For maximum impact, don’t read about Malins or his work before seeing it.

Get your kids off the couch

The annual Active Healthy Kids report card released Tuesday gives Canadian children and their parents a failing grade, wrote the Aurora Banner April 29.

More than 15 per cent of children between the ages of two and five are overweight and just 12 per cent of children get the recommended two-hour minimum of physical activity a day they require, the organization says.

It’s critically important for young kids to be active, York University community relations manager and Active Healthy Kids vice-chair Yvette Munro said, adding, "Healthy living and healthy habits start with the young."

The report card outlines the importance of physical activity for young children in the form of active play, games, sports, transportation and recreation.

"It’s not about getting your chid a gym membership or ordering a kid-sized treadmill, which they don’t make," Munro said. "It’s about being active for at least two hours a day.

"That doesn’t mean a two-hour block. It means playing in the backyard, playing a game of tag or road hockey."

Osgoode grad dedicated his life to reform 

Among the many professional hats that Vincent Michael Del Buono wore during his richly lived and varied life was one that bore the logo of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, wrote The Globe and Mail in an obituary April 30.

During a career of more than three decades, the resourceful Del Buono – he died this month in Niagara-on-the-Lake at age 60, of liver cancer – successfully worked the angles in several other substantial jobs.

He was a professor of law at various universities (lecturing on seven campuses); counsel and later senior counsel with the Law Reform Commission of Canada and the Department of Justice, and founding president of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy.

He became a senior adviser to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, and to the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina; deputy secretary general of Amnesty International in London; and, from 2002 to 2007, head of the British Council’s Access to Justice program in Nigeria.

He assumed his final position after returning with his wife of 33 years, lawyer Jennifer Pothier, to Niagara-on-the-Lake as CEO of the Niagara 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council.

Del Buono earned a BA [Comb. Hons.] from York University (1972); it was there that he and Pothier had met – in a poetry seminar taught by Irving Layton.

“He seemed a little eccentric to me at first,” she recalls. “But I soon felt like I’d known him my whole life.”

Checking the public’s health

A simple telephone survey has the potential to tap into key data that could sharpen the variety and delivery of local health services, wrote the Simcoe Reformer April 30.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has recently subscribed to the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS). In its simplest form, the high-tech sounding program is a 20-minute telephone health survey that will eventually paint a lifestyle portrait of a community. Survey questions will pertain to a host of lifestyle behaviours, including alcohol use, nutrition, sun safety, pap smears and overall health. The monthly surveys are to be conducted by York University’s Institute for Social Research with data funnelled back to the local health unit.

On air:

  • Bernie Wolf, professor of economics and international business at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed the impact of Greece’s debt crisis, on CBC Radio’s Edmonton afternoon show "Radio Active" April 28.