Dan Kanter: The man behind the Biebs

As Justin Bieber’s musical director for the past half-decade, York University alumnus Dan Kanter (BFA ’07) has witnessed the Bieber Fever phenomenon first hand, reported The Grid July 25. When asked how studying music at York prepared him for international stardom, he said, “York’s program is very interdisciplinary – in my first year I was working a lot with film majors and dance majors. That really helped me when I started working with Justin because so much of my job as part of his creative team is conceptualizing concerts.” Read full story. 

Schulich grad offers budding entrepreneurs unique venue to refine their ideas
Three years ago, Kellogg-Schulich executive MBA graduate Chris Eben attended his first Startup Weekend and quickly became convinced he should bring the event to Toronto, reported the Financial Post July 25. He first heard about the concept while in Silicon Valley. “The more I read about it, the more I thought it was a really cool idea; a simple one, but a really powerful one,” recalled Eben. Since 2010, his volunteer efforts have produced four Startup Weekends in Toronto, and have helped the Startup Weekend concept spread across Canada. Read full story.

Space monkeys: The humanizing of Able and Baker
Before they were sedated and loaded into the nose cone of a stubby Jupiter missile, the monkeys Able and Baker were just the latest in a growing number of rocket-test animals who, more often than not, met a violent end, reported the Los Angeles Times July 27….In a paper presented this week at the International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Manchester, England, York University graduate student Jordan Bimm argued that NASA and the government anthropomorphized the creatures for publicity purposes, as well as to defuse potential public outcry against the use of monkeys as test subjects. “There is a big contrast between Able and Baker and all the monkeys that were used before them,” wrote Bimm. Read full story.

The incubation of the Lac-Mégantic disaster
“Students of major disasters often talk of the concept of ‘disaster incubation’ – a period of cumulating failures on the part of operators and regulators that eventually overwhelm even-multilayered safety systems and lead to tragic outcomes,” wrote York University environmental studies Professor Mark Winfield in the Ottawa Citizen July 25. “No better term could be used to describe the emerging series of failures on the part of railway operators and their safety regulator, Transport Canada, that led to the Lac-Mégantic disaster.” Read full story.

Lawyers scramble after HudBay decision
The landmark decision by the Ontario Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit brought by the victims and family members of alleged violence at a Guatemalan mine owned by Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals Inc. has the legal community scrambling to find out how it changes the game for Canadian companies that operate overseas….Shin Imai, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, expects the company to appeal, although he doesn’t think it is likely to succeed….”I just can’t imagine any court saying, ‘yeah that’s right, Canadian companies aren’t responsible for what happens overseas even though they’re making profits from those operations,'” said Imai in The Globe and Mail July 25. Read full story.

Why MLB hitters can’t hit Jennie Finch and science behind reaction time
But it is not enough for scientists to say that practice matters. That point is entirely uncontroversial. “There isn’t a single geneticist or physiologist who says hard work isn’t important,” said York University sports psychologist Joe Baker in Sports Illustrated July 24, in a excerpt from The Sports Gene by David Epstein. “Nobody thinks Olympians are just jumping off the couch.” Scientists must go beyond saying that practice matters and attempt the difficult task of determining how much practice matters. By the strictest 10,000-hour thinking, accumulated practice should explain much or even all the variance in skill. But that is never the case in research on elite athletes. Read full story.

Medical marijuana: Hazy laws leave users confused about where it’s legal to light up
In the absence of provincial and municipal laws pertaining to medical marijuana use, it can be difficult to figure out where you’re allowed to use it, said York University law Professor Alan Young in the Toronto Star July 26. The Ministry of Health’s Smoke Free Ontario Act, which stipulates where people can buy and consume tobacco in the province, doesn’t apply to medical marijuana. Neither do Toronto smoking bylaws, according to city officials from Toronto Public Health and Municipal Licensing and Standards. “A lot of things were left unsaid and untouched in the construction of the medical marijuana program,” said Young. “To what extent do bar owners and other people have to accommodate medical marijuana users?” Read full story.