World’s eyes focus on York for Rogers Cup tennis

Print and broadcast media began their coverage of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, being played at the Rexall Centre on York’s Keele campus. Below is a sampling of the news.

  • This is a non-paid political announcement, wrote Steve Simmons in the Toronto Sun and the London Free Press: If you have never been to the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at York University, go. It’s the most underrated great event on the Toronto sporting calendar.
  • [Rafael Nadal] hopped in a chopper and was whisked north to the Rexall Centre courts at York University, the site of the Rogers Cup, for a two-hour evening workout, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 7. Got to hit some balls, don’t you know?
  • Seedings for the main singles draw at the $2.43-million Rogers Cup to be held at the Rexall Centre on the grounds of York University (qualifying opens Saturday with the main draw beginning on Monday): 1. Rafael Nadal, Spain; 2. Novak Djokovic, Serbia….
  • The US$3-million tournament will run Aug. 7 to 15 at the Rexall Centre at York University, reported Broadcast News Aug. 6.
  • [Twelfth seed] Marin Cilic, 22, is staying at the Executive Learning Centre at the Schulich School of Business on the campus of York University not far from the Rexall Centre, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 9.
  • The Canadian Open golf tournament attracted just four of the top 20 players in the world. The tennis tournament, at the Rexall Centre at York University, has 17 of the world’s top 20 men in the draw, including the two biggest stars, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 9.
  • The singles draw begins Monday at the Rexall Tennis Centre at York University, but there will be no signs of any of the top eight seeded singles players until Tuesday as they all have byes, wrote the Toronto Sun.
  •  Citytv did a live broadcast from the Rexall Centre at York University on Aug. 6.

Canadian aerospace set to boldly grow in privatized space travel

A controversial decision by Barack Obama to privatize the exploration of space could be a blessing for Canada’s aerospace industry, say experts in the field, who argue that this country’s space agency and its associated industries are in a prime position to hitch their wagon to the US president’s initiative on a ride toward the stars, Mars and potential riches, wrote Postmedia News Aug. 8.

“Obama’s vision for the future of NASA…is putting a lot of stock in the private sector,” says Paul Delaney, a professor of physics & astronomy in York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. “There have been a lot of groups that have been trying to position themselves to take advantage of what they see as a commercial opportunity in the coming decade. And I think they are right.”

Delaney says Obama’s vision is clear on what the next generation of space exploration vehicle should do: study near-Earth asteroids – and their potential wealth of resources – and get ready to go to Mars.

If industry can deliver on the “low-Earth orbit” side of space exploration, he says, such as the “taxi” activity of restocking the International Space Station, NASA will be free to pursue larger goals “of getting away from Earth entirely.”

But Canada ultimately stands to profit, Delaney says, pointing to our track record in robotics and space technology, which will be needed as the groundwork is laid for future travel. “There’s a good history here as far as developing space hardware, instrumentation,” he says. “I think you’re going to see stepped-up activity from Canadian industry to contribute in a more significant way.”

It’s not your ‘Leave it to Beaver’ Scouts any more

Like its female-only counterpart, Girl Guides of Canada, Scouts Canada has been losing members for decades, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 7. As of this week, the organization had 75,999 youths registered in its programs, down 73 per cent from its peak of 286,414 in 1965. Last year, in an action plan drawn up by the Scouts Canada chief commissioner’s task force, the organization was presented with an unpleasant fact: If membership continues to decline at the average annual rate it has since 1997, Scouts Canada will be out of members by 2017.

But as Scout groups dwindle to single-digit memberships or even disband, some are asking whether it is too little too late.

This isn’t Scouts Canada’s first identity crisis. James Trepanier, a PhD candidate at York University who is writing his thesis on the history of Scouts in Canada, says the organization considered overhauling everything from uniforms to camping in the late ’60s, when membership first began to slip. “There [were] a number of times they’d do a massive navel-gazing exercise to figure out what they could do differently to bring kids back into the movement,” he says. In the end, few dramatic changes were adopted, save for making all sections co-ed in 1992; a departure from their American counterparts, where girls are mostly excluded from Scouts.

Rising above with resilience

Given the title of Lana Lovell’s newest documentary, it might seem as if the Toronto-based filmmaker was targeting a fairly specialized demographic, wrote the Calgary Herald Aug. 7 in a preview of the upcoming television documentary “Resilience: Stories of Single Black Mothers”, which aired Sunday on OMNI.

[The program] may not seem on the surface to concern itself with a large portion of the population. But Lovell (BA Hons. ’96) says the one-hour documentary, with its focus on both battling stereotypes and offering hope, is aimed at a universal audience.

“Unfortunately, in our society, 50 per cent of all marriages end in divorce,” says Lovell, in an interview from her home in Toronto. “That’s what’s happening in our society. I want to show that if you do become a single parent, it is possible to do it and to do a good job – not only to raise your children well but that you can achieve your goals. Whether it’s going back to college to get that diploma to work as a legal assistant, or moving forward in my profession, or buying that next house.”

Lovell studied anthropology and film at York University and the University of Manchester. She began making documentaries, including 2008’s “The Incomparable Jackie Richardson” for Bravo, after a long tenure in the TV industry as a researcher and writer.

All hail the King of the Dot!

Perceived internationally as a hip-hop hinterland (despite the best efforts of Drake and others), Canada has become an unlikely breeding ground of battle rap talent, wrote the National Post Aug. 7. Today’s World Domination battle in Toronto, which sees Canadian rappers take on challengers from across the US and UK, will be a measure of just how far that talent has come.

“People assume we hate each other,” says Alex Larsen (BA Hons. ’08), also known as Kid Twist. “If anything, the fact that we’re all competing fosters mutual respect.”

Larsen would know. As the first King of the Dot champion, he is the international face of Canadian battle rap – though perhaps not the face you were expecting. The 23-year-old, who graduated from York University with an honours bachelor of arts in creative writing, daylights providing content for a children’s Web site, and is working on his first novel. His nasal voice and gaunt frame impart a kind of automatic scrappy underdog status, even in battles where he’s the overwhelming favourite.

Scope of inquiry must go beyond Pickton and BC

Across the country, inter-jurisdictional and interprovincial police task forces have been established to more quickly track the disappeared and murdered, and to share evidence, wrote The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, Sask.) Aug. 7 in an opinion piece about the second-degree murder conviction of Robert Pickton in the death of six women, many of them prostitutes and drug users. But, as Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young told the Toronto Star last year, Canada’s prostitution laws seem specifically designed to force sex workers onto the streets and into the most vulnerable conditions.

A perfect portrait of jealousy

There’s another kind of madness on display from Nina Arsenault (BFA Spec. Hons. ’96, MFA ’00) in her latest dispatch from the front ranks of the transgendered wars, which she calls I Was Barbie, wrote theatre critic Richard Ouzounian in the Toronto Star Aug. 8.

Arsenault, you may recall, is the former York University acting teacher named Rodney who underwent 60 separate plastic surgeries to turn into the modern Circe of amorphous sexuality that she is today. Her story of that event, The Silicone Diaries, was one of the major events of last season and is scheduled to be revived at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre this fall.

I Was Barbie, however, shows Arsenault in a different mode. She has only one story to tell: about how she played Barbie during 2009’s Toronto Fashion Week to celebrate the plastic plaything’s 50th birthday.

Arsenault’s search for the perfect female face and body at all costs makes her arrival as Barbie that night a kind of journey to the peak of the K2 of a certain kind of gender reality, and she savours the moment with all of its ironies.

Dumping debt can pay off better than stashing cash in RRSPs

The age-old financial dilemma of whether you should use any excess cash to contribute to your RRSP or pay down your mortgage has gained renewed relevance in the aftermath of the financial crises, wrote Moshe Milevsky, finance professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in the Toronto Star Aug. 8.

Canadians are learning to save, invest more conservatively and de-risk their retirement account. So, despite what your personal conclusion might have been last time you thought about the smackdown between RRSPs versus mortgages, the economic equation has recently tilted in favour of paying down debts versus building up assets, but only for those of you with low tolerance for any investment risk.

Politician was advocate for multiculturalism, social justice

He was a city alderman at 14, a 24-year member of the Ontario legislature, a collector of glass, an honorary Indian chief and a tireless advocate for Ukraine, land of his ancestors, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 9 in an obituary.

John Yaremko (LLB ’44), 91, the man credited with coining the term “multiculturalism”, died Saturday in his sleep. Born in Welland in 1918 to an immigrant family, he became a Hamilton Municipal Boys Council alderman at 14, and used scholarships and jobs in steel plants and farms to pay his way through the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the bar in 1944, elected to the Ontario parliament in 1951 and entered the public service in 1953 as a Queen’s counsel, one of the youngest ever.

An accomplished life of loyalty

Ben Simpson (BARR ’49) practised law in Hamilton for more than 60 years and shared that wealth of experience with his community and younger lawyers coming up in the legal firm he helped to establish, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Aug. 9 in an obituary.

Joseph Benjamin Simpson, QC, died July 22 at the age of 84. Simpson was a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, McMaster University and a lifelong supporter of Hillfield Strathallan College, where he acquired his early education.

On air

  • York student Kristin Boivin spoke about her summer job at  North Bay’s Theatre Outreach On Stage, on Global TV Sudbury, Aug. 6.