The Mail

October 4 1999

The Mail

October 4 1999

The Mail

‘A gift’

I enjoyed your article “The search for roots”

(Cover, Sept. 20) and was amazed when I took a look at the Mormons’

Web site. After entering some basic information, I was able to trace my husband’s family back four generations. What a wonderful gift to the world. I applaud the Mormons’ incredible efforts to archive the vital records of humankind.

Karen Nakashima Thom, Rocanville, Sask.

You didn’t mention the efforts and effects of hundreds of volunteer genealogical societies across Canada, which work hard to educate and assist their members. While the Internet can be of great help for contacts and clues, it can never replace the necessary research each family historian must do in original records to establish identification of ancestors and their relationships. It has taken leading genealogists on this continent many years to develop and codify genealogical standards (which, by the way, are much higher than the “preponderance of evidence” principle used in civil litigation). We hope all the new Internet surfers in genealogy will dive beneath the surface.

Brenda Dougall Merriman, Trustee, Board for Certification of Genealogists, Toronto

Letters to the Editor

should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5WIA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 E-mail: letters@macleans.ca Maclean’s welcomes readers' views, but letters may be edited for space, style and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites. E-mail queries about subscriptions or delivery problems should be addressed to: service@macleans.ca

As someone who has

spent 40 years in genealogical research, I think it is important to say, be very wary. Just because information is on the Internet or on CD-ROM—or even in print—does not mean it is accurate. From as far back as the Tudor nobility in England, people have imagined, dreamed, faked and forged pedigree documents. Don Treble is quoted as saying he can trace his ancestry back to a knight who accompanied William the Conqueror, and perhaps he can, but earlier pedigrees were notorious for making such a claim. There were only 15 knights who can be proved to have been companions of William at the Battle of Hastings, and another five Norman knights known to have been in England at that time, and who might have been there. I think I am right in saying that only one of these can trace an unbroken descent in the male line down to the 20th century, although there may be descents from the female line. Let the tree-maker beware.

Clarkson as GG

I commend Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for his initiative and courage in recommending veteran broadcaster Adrienne Clarkson as Canada’s 26th governor general (“Adrienne’s Ottawa,” Canada/Special Report, Sept. 20). This will certainly give many new immigrants, whose chances of getting decent jobs in line with their knowledge and experience are poor, the hope that their children may have the chance to become somebody when they grow up. But I wonder, would Clarkson be ex-

Peter Weinrich, Victoria

Veterans of Timor

Good luck to our new young soldiers heading for East Timor (“Reprisal in East Timor,” World, Sept. 20). It is ironic that the last Canadian soldiers sent to East Timor are still trying to get their Pacific theatre pay, and this government is still refusing to pay it. In 1945, a Canadian unit stationed near Darwin, 1 Special Wireless Group, was sent to East Timor to assist in the surrender of the Japanese. The government provided about 35 cents a day of special pay to servicemen going to the area after May, 1945. Since these soldiers were there when the policy was introduced, they were out of luck. It took these veterans until 1995 to get their medals for this service, but our leaders still refuse to give them their 35 cents per day.

Maj. Eugene E. Scheidl (ret.),

Comox, B.C.

tended a similar opportunity if she wasn’t personally well-known to the Prime Minister?

Abbas Atrvash, Toronto

I hope the first act of the Hong Kongborn Clarkson will be to have the national anthem rewritten, changing “native land” to “chosen” or “beloved land” or some such blandishment. Thirteen per cent of Canadians are foreign-born, yet there they are, at the opening of any sports or political event, rejoicing in their “home and native land.” We cannot expect the representative of the head of state who was not born here to endorse an anthem, which, as far as she and many of us are concerned, is a lie. Peter Stursberg, West Vancouver

The appointment of Adrienne Clarkson, rather than stimulating discussion about how she might redefine the role of this meaningless and cosdy position, should cause us to consider its elimination. She is nothing more than a “personality,” which shows how redundant the office has become. Chrétien should have eliminated the position, saved Canadians millions of dollars and received credit for doing something significant in our development as a nation. J. Wayne Terriff, Boswell, B.C.

Marriage goals

I was offended by your article “Sex & marriage” (Cover, Aug. 9). It reflects a mistaken view of what both sex and marriage really are. The goal of marriage is not the pleasure of sex per se, but the self-giving of one spouse to the other for their mutual benefit. Happiness and joy come as a result. Sex is a wonderful physical manifestation of the lifelong psychological, spiritual and emotional union of a man and a woman in marriage. Both relationships can only truly be enhanced by a greater generosity of one to the other.

Kari Lyn Gay, Barrie, Ont.

A receptive nation’

I am appalled by the negative comments regarding the recent Chinese boat immigrants (“Dealing with refugees,” The Mail, Sept. 6). We are all (with the exception of First Nations people) from somewhere else, and have

benefited from being accepted in Canada. And lets face it, not all of us came here through the proper procedures. I have not heard any negative comments from Canadas First Nations people who would have more reason than anyone to complain. After all, look where all of our benefits upon entering Canada got them. For Canada to have the reputation of being a safe, receptive nation is a good thing, is it not?

Kay Von Riesen, Lemberg, Sask.

These are immigrants whose culture and traditions are rooted in a country that knows nothing of democracy, stable government or free trade. Has our government taken into consideration the tremendous changes that have taken place in Canadas demographics? Our statisticians tell us that Italian has fallen from third to fourth place among languages in Canada, replaced by Chi-

nese. If Canadas open-arm policy towards illegal immigrants continues, perhaps in 50 years the French language will be overtaken by Chinese. Unless the government enforces its immigration laws, the political and economic structure that has governed Canada these past hundred years will disappear. All immigrants, from whatever country, must follow the rules of Canadian law and apply through Canadas immigration service.

Patrick Kelly, Kingston, Ont.

Double standard

I find it curious that the mainstream media go to such great lengths to distance themselves from the impudence of the paparazzi. Yet these same media frequently publish photographs obtained using similarly intrusive and

distasteful tactics. In your story “The paparazzi go overboard on a royal chase,” you describe the inappropriate and undignified behaviour of the many photographers in pursuit of Prince William (Opening Notes, Aug. 23). Yet in the same issue, you published a grainy photograph of former B.C. premier Glen Clark shot through the window of his East Vancouver home (“Clarks date with destiny,” Canada, Aug. 23). It was an astonishingly invasive photograph, and without a doubt was obtained using a telephoto lens. In truly professional journalism, the circumstances or characters involved do not justify the means.

Ian P. Graeme, Victoria

Hockey contracts

The infamous hockey summit has concluded (“No quick fix,” Sports/Special Report, Aug 30). One major problem that was not addressed was the way in which the inept NHL enforces player contracts. The current contract—$3.3

million (U.S.)—for the sulking crybaby Alexei Yashin is a case in point. Yashin has said he will sit out the season unless he is awarded a new contract for a reported $8 million to $10 million. If the NHL had any guts it would insist that (a) some form of salary ceiling be initiated, and (b) a player not honouring a contract would enjoy a three-year cooling-off period in which he could not play for any NHL team. Pans are getting fed up and if action is not taken, NHL hockey and fan participation will continue to wane.

Noel Coward, Kingston, Ont.

When learning is dull

Having recently finished a bachelor of science degree in physical education at the University of Saskatchewan, I am glad to see someone speaking out

against the dull and ineffective lectures of the past (“Reinventing the classroom,” The Macleans Guide to Canadian Universities, 1999). I cannot begin to tell you how many times I nearly quit school due to boredom. What is ironic is that we are taught to be vibrant and enthusiastic teachers/coaches, capable of recognizing the different learning styles of our students/athletes and expected to adapt our lessons based on this information. Yet there we sit in a centre for higher education ready to learn—and the lecture is nothing but hand-scribbled notes on an overhead (typed if we were lucky), read off in monotones. It is a blatant waste of students’ money and time. As a result, I have decided to pursue a master’s degree in the United States. I am more than willing to take my money where I will get my money’s worth.

Joanne Nelner, Malaga, Wash.

A rich socialist

So, Anthony Wilson-Smith found John Galbraith, at 91, to be an unabashed liberal, an unrepentant believer in deficits and an unrelenting critic of materialism (“Lunch with John Galbraith,” Sept. 20). Big deal. It seems to me that anyone living on a 250-acre estate in Vermont, secure in a pension from Harvard, would have little difficulty taking this position, or any other. But how can he, a benefactor of the market system, live in such luxury and not expect to be accused of hypocrisy? Wealthy socialists give me a pain. Despite the fact that I am forced to live off the small pension of a United Church minister, I am an unashamed democratic capitalist. I happen to believe that the conflict between left and right is not good for any of us. Though I attack Galbraith, I still love him as a great thinker in the field of economics.

Rev. Lindsay G. King, Thornhill, Ont.

Y2K oddities

One has to realize that the vast majority of bugs and glitches mentioned in your article are not necessarily Y2K problems (“What’s in a glitch?” Technology, Sept. 20). Rather, they are oddities added to the programs that happen to show up as catastrophic failures during testing. These types of failures are not uncommon when complex programs are modified—many would have happened anyway, Y2K or not—but we are uncommonly sensitive to them when they are described as Y2K problems. The relationship to Y2K is simply that they appeared in programs that were being worked on to solve actual Y2K problems. (While a package is being worked on, other changes are made, too. The Y2K fix works fine, but something else messes up.) The real problems are going to be those that show up in totally unexpected places. In the 1950s, a few hours after the DEW line radar installations were first activated, defence people were shocked to see a barrage of incoming Soviet missiles on their

screens. It turns out the moon had just risen, and the radar programs, unaware of this celestial body, were confused by the strange time-delayed echoes returning from the moon. This problem was fixed long ago, but a similar scenario emerges as the calendar flips to 2000. Just imagine what could happen inside NORAD s launch-on-warning system if the virtual moon suddenly “jumps” to its computed location back in 1900 and the program misinterprets echoes from the real moon as a swarm of warheads from over yonder.

Dan Pernokis, P & M Technologies, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Running the airlines

American Airlines is playing a highstakes game to take control of the airline industry in Canada (“Capital solution,” Canada, Sept. 13). Even though AMR Corp., the parent of American, would only own 14.9 per cent of the new airline, it would no doubt insist on the same veto power it has on the Canadian Airlines board. It also has structured the Onex bid with an ironclad lockup agreement so that Onex has first refusal for any bid, and a requirement that any bid maintains Canadian’s alliance and management agreements with AMR, which have been bleeding Canadian of $180 million every year. The Liberal government’s invocation of Section 47 of the Transportation Act—which allows that anything done under the authority of this section is exempt from proceedings under the Competition Act—also looks suspicious, with Onex buying up Air Canada shares (anonymously) just before the suspension of antitrust rules. Now, the Liberals are interpreting Section 47 as also excluding any merger review by the Competition Bureau, even though this merger would create a single major airline in Canada. Finally, it is ominous to note AMR has applied to the U.S. justice department for antitrust immunity to set capacity, routes and airfares for this new airline. Guess who will be running the show?

Ray Heimbecker, Montgomery, Vt.