The Mail

The Mail

Barbara McAdorey March 29 1999
The Mail

The Mail

Barbara McAdorey March 29 1999

The Mail

Microsoft and Linux

I fail to understand the belief that the Linux computer operating system may usurp Microsoft (“Bill Gates besieged,” Cover, March 15). As Microsoft Corp. has run into legal difficulties for giving away free Web browsers, will Red Hat Software Inc., which distributes a popular version of Linux, be immune to problems for providing free operating systems? I readily concede that Microsoft, and other top corporations, will do anything possible to keep their market share. Yet I still use Windows 98. The reasoning is simple—it is unequivocally the best for my needs.

Sandy Scott, Calgary

I was interested to note your hype on Linux as an alternative to the Microsoft bulldozer. Having worked closely with the computer industry for the past 20 years, I believe Unixderived operating systems are an anomaly in an otherwise dog-eat-dog business. So many companies have passed into obscurity (Prime, Convex, Cray, CDC, Univac, Atari, Amiga, etc.) that for an operating system to

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have reached the age of 30 as Unix has is worth some attention. During the past 15 years, virtually every computer vendor flogging a proprietary operating system has claimed that Unix is dead. This is a message I have become somewhat skeptical of.

Ross Huntley, Bragg Creek, Alta.

After reading your story on Bill Gates, and other computer-related articles in the same issue, I’m a bit « apprehensive about the implicari tion that pretty soon life will not be ¡2 possible without being tied to the g Internet. Because my employer, “ like nearly all companies big and small, has embraced computer operations, I am slightly familiar with the use of a PC. But I had hopes that after my imminent retirement I would be able to say good-bye to the dreaded keyboard. In the world you picture, this seems hardly likely. The only bright spot was the story about the inability of the computer to translate languages (“Bytes of gibberish,” Technology). It’s nice to know that humans still have a function to fulfil.

Christian Hackh, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Hope for a cure

Your article has done a great service to all of us who have fibromyalgia (“Mysterious malady,” Health, March 15). As an elderly woman, recently diagnosed with this illness, I have found it difficult to explain my symptoms to others. The usual cheerful reply is to attribute my fluctuating memory loss and unanticipated bouts of fatigue to “just aging.” Also, I understand that much research is going on and we may find more relief soon, if not a cure.

Daphne Naegele, Vancouver

'Selling out'

My reaction to reading about Ralph Lauren buying out the Club Monaco retail chain was the same as Club Monaco cofounder Joseph Mimran mockingly put it: “Here’s another Canadian selling out to an American as soon as there’s success” (“Polo comes galloping in,” Business Notes, March 15). I was disappointed in Mimran and the Club Monaco chain. For years, I have proudly

Canadian whine

I was disappointed to see that Maclean's continues to help spread the myth that Canadians are overtaxed (“Future shock,” Cover, Feb. 15). When this country is repeatedly cited as being the best place to live in the world, and when the costs of providing infrastructure over such a huge land mass with a relatively small population are considered, there should be little cause for serious complaint, even if we were the most highly taxed nation. Yet our tax rate places us about the middle of the 29 OECD countries. That is definitely a bargain. This is the ideal time of the year, as we prepare our tax returns, to remind us all how well-off we are when it comes to our overall tax burden. It might even reduce one of Canada’s worst features: the nearly incessant whining of its citizens as they complain about how tough they have it in the best country in the world.

Stuart Chandler, Kitchener, Ont.

bought Club Monaco merchandise, choosing it over stores like The Gap because not only does Club Monaco produce high-quality clothing, fashion accessories and cosmetics, it is Canadian and conscious of social issues. This purchase reaffirms that the American domination of culture in Canada doesn’t stop at magazines, movies, music or sports. I fear that nothing distinctly Canadian lasts. This is a discouraging thought for a nation only 131 years old.

Bea Vongdouangchanh, Ottawa

Newfoundland soul

As a Newfoundlander living away, I thought your article was excellent (“Fifty years of Confederation,” Canada/ Special Report, March 15). It told every harsh truth. Almost two years ago, a couple of my friends and I made the long journey from St. Anthony, Nfld., to Alberta, looking for work. We all agreed that no matter where

CLARIFICATION

In the issue of March 15, Maclean’s may have inadvertently left the impression that Ivan Fecan, now CEO of CTV, was responsible alone for the decision to move the CBC national TV news to 9 p.m. when he served as a CBC vice-president. In fact, the decision in 1992 to move the news was made by a team of CBC executives, journalists and producers, approved by the CBC board and announced by thenCBC president Gérard Veilleux.

THE MAIL

we worked we all had to make adjustments in our dialect in order for people to understand what we were saying. There is nothing in this world I would love more than to go home, and I know there are a lot more like me. How can we “Newfies” find home in Alberta when there is no ocean to see? We are counting on Brian Tobin to start making things happen.

Stacey Johnson, Edmonton

You express a sense of awe and perhaps some bewilderment about what makes Newfoundland outport people endure the isolation and hardships that “the hard land throws at them.” You attribute it to some sort of heroic stubbornness, I gather. Sadly, people with a non-outport background may never comprehend the quality of the peace and the restorative nature of outport life, which are more common than the tremendous hardships sometimes encountered. What these outport people have that inspires such fierce determination and loyalty is not stubbornness. It’s soul.

Cheryl Stagg, Stephenville, Nfld.

Teachers in Ontario

I read with interest ‘Turmoil in Ontario” and “A golden age for retired teachers” in your March 15 edition (Education Notes) and could not help noticing their clever juxtapositioning on the page. Former teacher Ken Weir is correct—teachers in Ontario have a much heavier burden to bear than ever before. However, this is due as much or more to the increased job stress and frustration as to the increased workload. I retired in 1996 after an enjoyable career “in the trenches,” having suffered through cycle after cycle of “corporate planning.” Often, a year or more of writing or rewriting curriculum and implementing new courses would be met with a further directive to repeat the process within a couple of years to

The myth of 'having it all'

The Road Ahead

When I read Sheila Copps’s comment, “I want to be a woman and a mother and a parliamentarian, and I shouldn’t have to make the choice" (“The mother load,” Cover, March 1), I couldn’t help asking myself, why not? Why should she or I or anybody else not have to make such choices? I’m not saying one can’t have both a career and be a good parent. Some people can and do. That’s wonderful. But not everyone can. I think the belief that we don’t have to make such choices stems from our society’s false utopian notion that we can “have it all,” that somehow we are entitled to everything we want. Unfortunately, no God-ordained edict or physical law exists that says we have such an entitlement.

When I was entering university, I wanted to pursue careers in computer science and psychology. Well, there weren’t enough hours in the day for two full-time careers, so I had to choose one. That seems rather obvious. But as soon as we start talking about parenting versus a career outside the home, all of a sudden things get complicated. We want a fulfilling career and we want to be good parents and raise healthy, happy kids. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting it all, as long as we don’t assume we are entitled to it.

I believe there are two problems with the having-it-all myth. First, a society that tells people they can have it all contributes to people feeling that if they don't, they are somehow failures. There is nothing wrong with deciding to be a stayat-home parent without an outside career. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to

have children and a career, as long as the kids are still well taken care of and, when conflicts arise, the kids come first. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to remain childless and pursuing a full-time career outside the home. These are all responsible, mature decisions. And they involve choice, giving up something for something else.

Furthermore, I think a society that tells people they are entitled to have it all absolves people from having to make responsible decisions and mature compromises. I think it may blind some parents to the effect their actions may have on their children. When people have kids, the kids have to be the top priority; this, by default, will mean the parents will sometimes have to make sacrifices; and thus, they won’t have it all.

Parenting is an awesome responsibility. And most often it’s a choice. Adults, when they choose to become parents, need to weigh how it will affect their lifestyle and finances? Do they have the necessary resources to be good parents? Do they still want to have a career? Must they still have a career for financial reasons? And if they decide both parents cannot have outside careers, which one will be the stay-athome parent? And if they both work outside, what will they do when conflicts between career and children arise?

We can’t have it all. All we can do is balance our needs with the needs of our children. Adults have the responsibility to ensure their children are not being compromised. Because when children suffer, so does all of society. So does our future.

The Road Ahead invites readers to advance specific solutions to Canada's political, social and economic problems. Unpublished submissions may run condensed as regular letters or appear on an electronic bulletin board.

Barbara McAdorey

Friedrichshafen, Germany

THE MAIL_

satisfy some political whim or some new thinking at the Ontario ministry of education. There were always new guidelines with little information as to how they were to be implemented. There were always deadlines, most often quite unrealistic. The government has attempted to lay the blame for the turmoil squarely on the shoulders of the old school board system and its “overpaid and underworked” teachers. In fact, much of that blame should be placed on the ministry and its functionaries who, for years, have shown varying degrees of bureaucratic incompetence and lack of foresight in planning for the future. As for enticing retired teachers back part time? Good luck. Having smelled the roses, I suspect most retirees will opt to spend their time in the garden.

Bill McHugh, Ailsa Craig, Ont.

Transfer payments

Thank you for the excellent coverage concerning federal health and social transfer payments (“Numbers game,” Canada Notes, March 8). I hope all Canadians— both within and outside of Quebec—will now begin to see the Parti Québécois for what it is: a sick organization that would so

contemptuously deceive the very people who voted for it. It is just plain cruel to turn Canadians against each other by misrepresenting the amount of money the federal government transfers to their respective provinces. If Quebecers believe they are being mistreated, and that Ontario, for example, is getting preferential treatment, then it follows that they will jump at the chance to change places with the Ontario populace. I, for one, am prepared to exchange my per capita 1998-1999 transfer payments ($830) for Bouchard’s “shortchanged” payments ($1,503). I await his cheque.

T. M. Rothwell, Mount Forest, Ont.

I have lived in many provinces, including Quebec, and until recently I believed that it was critical to have that province remain in Canada. Your article, combined with Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard’s threat of another plebiscite in the near term, has moved me to the other camp. Based on your calculations, Ottawa will be giving Quebecers millions in the next six years as equalization payments. As a very prosperous province, larger in many ways than either British Columbia or Alberta, will Quebec ever join them as a “have” province? Can we afford to keep sending millions of dollars to a part of

the country that doesn’t seem to want us? If they vote to leave we should co-operate fully and then get on with our own agenda.

R. E. Henderson, Vancouver

Opportunity knocks

Finally someone has the guts to admit Canada is losing its most creative citizens: ‘Taxes are driving our best brains out of the country. We can’t keep losing the best of our gene pool and hope to compete,” complains TD Bank chairman Charlie Baillie, as quoted by Peter C. Newman (“The biggest threat to Canada’s future,” The Nation’s Business, March 8). It is my contention that the cat is already out of the bag and has been for quite some time. This unpalatable information brings me to this realization: the minds capable of solving the problem have long ago left the plant.

D. Grant DeMan, Royston, B. C.

I think the biggest threat to Canada’s future is media bias. That Maclean’s titles the story “The biggest threat to Canada’s future” and highlights “Taxes are driving our best brains out of the country” (when the otherwise sycophantic article devoted one paragraph to the issue) leads me to believe that

Maclean’s, Peter C. Newman and Charlie (“We don’t lose the welfare cases”) Baillie cannot see the forest for the trees. People (and business) leave Canada for opportunity. The majority of Canadians acknowledge the greater level of service they receive for their taxes as surely as they acknowledge that lagging productivity in the global arena is Canada’s greatest threat.

Danny Schur, Winnipeg

Helping the homeless

I was homeless in Vancouver for a six-week period in the winter of 1994-1995 and found your article quite interesting (“Small solutions,” Canada/Special Report, March 8). In Calgary, the Salvation Army runs a residence called The House, an 18-bed transitional residence for men who have fulltime work, but need time to get situated. Rent is only $100 per month, so it gives residents a chance to save for more permanent accommodations. In Vancouver, Picasso’s Cafe trains ex-street kids to work as table servers, cooks and kitchen help. This kind of hands-on training provides a brighter future for those who thought it was pretty bleak at one time. Street life/homelessness strips people of any dignity and self-respect. Handouts are good in the short term, but a

hand-up approach is more effective for those who want to help themselves and leave homelessness behind them.

Ron Murdock, Prince Rupert, B. C.

It is indeed good news that some people are working hard on the homelessness issue. However, I think the key point is why the rest of us and our governments are not doing enough. Why only “small solutions”? Do we think poverty is OK as long as it does not happen to us? Do we think the poor are somehow undeserving of a better life? Or do we think the poor are less human than we are? It appears we think poverty is all right, as the problem is growing worse, yet very little is being done to solve it. How we answer these questions will say a lot about us.

Tania Dudziak, Mount Forest, Ont.

Full-time parenthood

I found disconcerting the underlying message that full-time parenthood was only of interest to women. There was not one mention of a father who had a bad conscience for having to go to work and leave crying kids; no single case depicted a father who chose the career of full-time parenthood (“The mother load,” Cover, March 1). Yet cases like

that exist. And fathers need to be encouraged if we truly want to create a society of equal chances for both sexes; such a society would mean the possibility for women and men alike to choose a career of full-time parenthood. As long as the media depict the traditional image of loving mothers while leaving fathers in the background, this model will be perceived as the only possible norm of parenting: mothers who carry the main burden and fathers who “help out.”

Agatha Schwartz, Ottawa

It used to be that dad’s wages paid the rent, bought food and left a little over for clothes and recreation. This all changed 25 years ago when land prices went sky-high. This necessitated mother having to go to work. Children were, and are, being neglected. Getting out of school and going home to an empty house is devastating for kids. It all comes down to economics. High rents, low pay and long hours of work lead to neglected children, and we are reaping a sorry harvest. Remedies: slash income tax for families with children; provide after-school care and opportunities for kids; cut rents and land prices; improve wages. This will help low-income families to care for their kids. They are our most precious heritage.

Margaret Osborn, Victoria