Self-service on order at McDonald’s

McDonald’s Europe has announced plans to replace some of its cashiers with touch-screen terminals and cash-free payment, a move that will likely play well with consumers looking for options that offer convenience and a sense of control, reported the National Post May 19. 

Perry Sadorsky, associate professor of economics at the Schulich School of Business at York University, said he believes we will soon order food from touch screens in Canada, but cautioned the move could have negative implications for employment. "All you need is one big chain to do this," he said, noting that it would likely be tested in major US markets before arriving north of the border. 

"It’s good for corporate profits, but not very good for the overall labour force, because you’re going to take out many of the entry-level and low-skill jobs," Sadorsky said, adding that it is often those types of jobs that make up the majority of new jobs created each month. 

Plus, many young people rely on employment at places such as McDonald’s to get their first work experience, he said. 

Standoff in High Park

First Nations activists are camping out on a BMX trail in the southeast part of High Park at the site, they say, of an ancient burial ground. This week they began shovelling away an obstacle course for the bikes, reported NOW magazine in its May 19-26 issue. 

While the authenticity of the site is disputed by archaeologists, Jon Johnson, an adjunct professor of health and society at York University [Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], and a tour guide for the Native Canadian Centre, says there’s no question High Park is home to burial grounds. 

“High Park is significant because it’s one of the few areas in Toronto that hasn’t been completely developed,” he says. “It’s one of the few areas where there are undisturbed sites. In the other parts of Toronto, there’s a long history of literally bulldozing burial mounds.” 

Johnson says cultures with oral traditions are not so concerned about archaeological evidence, and that the First Nations group in High Park is relying on oral history as evidence of a burial mound there.  

“When you bury ancestors, you don’t forget about them,” he says. “You have an obligation to protect those remains, and there’s a certain amount of power associated with them.” 

To cull or not to cull white-tailed deer

Are white-tailed deer creating a major nuisance for residents living near Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area? That may depend on who you ask, reported the Ancaster News May 18. 

Hamilton Conservation Authority ecologist Shari Faulkenham said half the neighbours surveyed say the over-abundance of deer create few problems. The other half disagrees, and hopes the HCA will examine both lethal and non-lethal methods to control the population.  

An aerial survey conducted in January 2010 counted 102 deer in a 66-hectare section around the conservation area, in an area where 12 deer is considered healthy. 

Dawn Bazely, an expert in forest ecology, told the [HCA deer management advisory] committee that non-lethal interventions like discouraging feeding and erecting better fences have failed to mitigate a deer overpopulation problem at the Sifton Bog in London, Ont. 

The York University professor [and director, Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability] said London politicians backed down from a deer hunt favoured by neighbouring residents last year after a councillor and opponents denounced shooting deer as barbaric and “worse than abortion.”  

Devil and God are in the details

In a Toronto Star review May 19 of an exhibit called "Magic Squares: The Patterned Imagination of Muslim Africa in Contemporary Culture" at the Textile Museum of Canada, Peter Goddard mentioned a series of weekend workshops and panels organized in part by Zulfikar Hirji.  

Western society’s fixation with "militant Islam," warns the York University [anthropology] professor, has come to overshadow "the deeply esoteric and spiritual dimensions of Islam." The devil is not alone in the details. God is there, too. 

Coming to terms with sexuality on screen

Anyone who caught Mark Pariselli’s whimsical silent short After at last year’s Inside Out LGBT Film and Video Festival will notice a couple of trends with the Toronto premiere of his sophomore turn Frozen Roads at this month’s festival, wrote the Toronto Star May 19. 

Although the York University film production grad’s second movie is a talkie, he’s still stingy with speech. 

“I find that so many films today are crammed with this kind of wannabe hip dialogue and I think so much more is often said when we just to let our interactions and actions speak; I like to focus on that,” explained the 26-year-old Toronto native [BFA Spec. Hons. ‘09]. 

Young men coming to terms with their homosexuality is another recurring theme of Pariselli’s work. Frozen Roads is centred on a pair of hockey-playing boyhood pals who confront homophobia as they realize their emerging sexuality in rural Ontario. 

Buoyed by the reception to After, which screened at LGBT festivals around the world, Pariselli, whose next project is the remake of an Andy Warhol film, was also pleased that his debut found itself at last summer’s Mascara & Popcorn, Montreal’s cult and horror festival. 

“I would like to add a different voice, more of an alternative voice, to mainstream queer culture, but not being restrictively queer either,” he said. “After and Frozen Roads tackle issues that a lot of people can identify with or empathize with.” 

Of bread, Beirut and beauty queens

On a dark and stormy Saturday around the backside of an industrial plaza on Dufferin at Finch is the cheerfully lit beacon of Haddad’s Mid-East Bakeries. A bevy of dark-haired beauties in matching T-shirts sit around a table together, laughing and chatting and breaking the bread they have just made together, reported the Toronto Star May 19.

Sami Majdalani has invited this year’s crop of Miss Lebanon Emigrant Canada contestants to the shop he took over last year. Ranging in age from 17 to 23, the girls are competing for a crown that includes a trip to the home country to compete with 23 other women of the Lebanese diaspora.

These are proud girls. “We want to present a positive image. The Lebanese culture is something I am very proud of, generous and family oriented and fun-loving,” says Aseel El-Baba, 21, a recent York University business graduate [BA Hons. ’11].

Kindness truly does pay off

A study at Toronto’s York University has reasoned that those who perform minor acts of kindness get an emotional high that can be charted long after the moment of goodness has elapsed, reported the St. Thomas Times-Journal May 18 and several regional radio and television shows, including Sun-TV’s “Roundtable”.

Justin Bieber’s musical father figure, Dan Kanter

Before Justin Bieber stepped onstage in front of 40,000 radiant fans at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park last month, Dan Kanter [BFA Spec. Hons. ’07], Bieber’s musical director and guitarist, took the spotlight to deliver a Jimi Hendrix-style rendition of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem, reported the Jewish Journal May 18.

“It was one of the most memorable moments in my whole life, and it was definitely one of the proudest,” he said from his hotel room during a break from Bieber’s My World tour in Melbourne, Australia.

Kanter, 29, has been with Team Bieber – his self-described “dream gig” – almost from the beginning. He was a [graduate] student in musicology at Toronto’s York University in 2009, when a Universal rep suggested [to] him to perform guitar for Bieber on a popular Canadian TV show.