Danger (so called) is its own reward

June 13 1977

Danger (so called) is its own reward

June 13 1977

Danger (so called) is its own reward


Oh no! Not another cursory and condescending story about dangerous, usually minority, amateur sportsmen. Pleasure As A Risky Business (May 2) followed the

hackneyed trail of many fellow tradesmen in portraying the stereotype Jekyll and Hyde character we have come to know and hate: life insurance salesmen Monday to Friday—daring, devil-may-care sky divers on weekends. What garbage!

Fve flown sailplanes, powerplanes and raced cars for years and I can assure you that this article missed the point of it all by a country mile. In case you want to try again, here are a few clues. First, in a society that increasingly appears to favor collective mediocrity over individual initiative and achievement, the demands of the so-called risk sports are an uncompromising contrast. The total concentration required is also extremely therapeutic. Worries left over from the job are purged. 1 could suggest more possible motivations but one must ask the fundamental question: why do people struggle to excel, compete and, yes, risk in their leisure time? That’s where the story is; the answers may lie close to the roots of society’s ills. Amateur sportsmen don’t risk their necks for the fun of it any more than professionals only do it for money.


A marriage made in hell

I would like to remove the large, private automobile from the status-symbol pedestal on which it was placed in A Nation Driven (May 16). Count me in as one of the movers behind the evil “conspiracy against the car.” Are passing references to “a wellpromoted conservation ethic” and “despoilment of the environment and other downers” meant to appease those environmentally responsible readers who know that the eight-cylinder gas guzzlers should have gone the way of the dinosaur long ago? Can we afford to play down the many and varied disadvantages of an automobile-centred lifestyle—the cause of up to 80% of all urban air pollution, of the loss of farmland to car-oriented suburbia, and so on?

While I am willing to concede that an energy-efficient small car is an environmentally acceptable means of transportation for intercity travel, no private automobile has any place in the crowded cores of Canada’s cities. Where, in any downtown area, does anyone currently expect to fulfill his/her “love of rapid, independent mobility” in a private automobile? One is far more free and mobile in the city core on a bicycle than in any motor vehicle: on a 10-speed bicycle, I can beat any car downtown from North Toronto during the morning rush hour. Many European cities cater to cyclists; Canadian cities would do well to follow suit. A ban on private automobiles in city cores, improvement of public transit systems, and promotion of cycling would restore urban air quality, save us money, and lead to more widespread physical fitness.


Ah well, another myth shattered

In my opinion there is no way Brigitte Bardot (People, April 4) could cuddle a living “baby” seal pup. These animals weigh about 60 pounds, have extremely sharp claws and sharper tempers. Also, Bardot should know the women of Belle Isle go to the washroom the same way and for the same purpose as do the women of France.


Well, he had it... so he flaunted it

Three questions arose in my mind as I read John Robertson’s Ah, A Man A nd His Son . . . (May 2). Why would anyone spend $1,336 for two days fishing; why would anyone think that it would be interesting enough to write and read; and why would anyone publish this self-indulgent aberration? I found the article almost pornographic in the orgasmic-like thrill of spending a considerable amount of money on something totally frivolous.


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It can’t happen here

Canadian developments in nuclear energy represent some of the most useful, successful and safest activities in technology ever undertaken in this country. But you would never know it from reading Uncontrolled Energy (May 2). The cartoon is highly offensive to anyone working in the field of nuclear energy, and the reference to explosions in the text suggests that your writer has little understanding of nuclear safety criteria.


Pro the ‘con’

Peter Brimelow’s Worst Game In Town? (May 2) tried to cover a lot of ground in a short article and consequently lacked an in-depth perspective. However, Brimelow is quite correct in saying the late 1960s was a highly speculative period. What he did not point out is that historically the best values in stocks are before and after such times, when the intelligent investor understands that it is more than just a game.


Please accept my congratulations for Worst Game In Town? I was very pleasantly surprised by the calibre of thought displayed in the article. Peter Brimelow’s statement on the stock market being undercut by an obscure but fundamental change in the way the economy operates is one of the first I have seen in contemporary Canadian journalism that reveals an understanding of the fact that there are implications for individual freedom and aggregate economic creativity contained in the obvious preference of Canadian governments for allocating economic resources on a basis other than prices set in effectively operating markets.

Perhaps the factor that has been omitted from most discussions attempting to evaluate the merits of competing systems of economic organization is an appraisal of their ethical implications. My own thinking has led me to the conclusion that all statist systems are fundamentally authoritarian and consequently inimical to the achievement of individual happiness through the exercise of economic or, for that matter, any other form of creativity. On the other hand, adoption of capitalism, which is the only economic system consistent with the achievement of human creative potential, is not a sufficient condition to ensure such achievement. I suggest that what is needed beyond capitalism is a legal and governmental system based upon principles that reflect a sound evaluation of the ethical basis for human interaction.


The thought that counts

I write to say how much I enjoyed The Magnificent Fraud (April 4) about Tom Keating. This kind of article lifts your magazine in my estimation.


An idea whose time has gone-long gone

Professor Douglas Verney of York University must have been writing with tongue in cheek when he penned: Confederation Unworkable? Separation Unthinkable? Here's A Third Choice (May 16). At the best it is a sick jest! The experience with the double majority principle during the uneasy union of Canada East and Canada West which evolved out of the Durham Report never did operate smoothly, let alone efficiently. Deadlocks were inevitable and they were rapidly leading to chaos. This was the reason that in 1864 a delegation from the Union of the Canadas attended the Charlottetown Conference which was convened to consider the union of the maritime colonies. The status of the delegates from the Canadas was that of observers; however, they were courteously received and laid before the conference the broader plan of union that was to result in Confederation in 1867.

Verney falls into error in not recognizing that Canada is a multi-ethnic nation. We must not lose sight of the fact that almost every ethnic strain is represented in our population and that many individuals from these ethnic groups—of neither English nor French lineage—have made significant contributions to our nation. Over the years there has been considerable intermarriage between individuals of the various ethnic groupings. What of the offspring of such unions? To arbitrarily divide the Canadian nation into French and English Canadians works an injustice on a large segment of our population.

The good professor’s proposal that Quebec be treated as the equal of the sum of the other nine provinces—for this is what his suggestion of two equal states boils down to—will not find merit in the eyes of Canadians. The proposal to let the minority equal the majority is the antithesis of democracy. One does not equal five!


Accentuate the positive

In Uncontrolled Energy (May 2) the emphasis given to the syndrome that “Canadians need to see themselves as losers” detracts from the possibility of achieving insight into the real problems. How can one justify the statement: “There is still no sign of any such centralized forward looking policy for Canada” in response to President Carter’s emphasis on conservation, when not only President Carter but several of his advisers, prior to the address to Congress, generously pointed out that Canadian studies, publicity and legislation in the area of conservation were helpful in formulating their program? The surmise, if correct, that you are not familiar with the extensive Canadian work in this area from the Science Council and the Energy Mines and Resources’ Office of Energy Conservation, to mention only two agencies involved, leaves you open to a charge of pontificating as well as selling Canada short.

One could expect that a writer, explaining that prior bad decisions resulted from “the abysmally inaccurate methods used to estimate reserves” would deal with the matter with some precision. Y et your chart used “reserve estimates,” without the qualification “potential,” to describe what are clearly “geologists’guesses” and not reserves.


What hurts most is not the grossly inaccurate treatment of nuclear power in Uncontrolled Energy (May 2) but the unforgivable misrepresentation of our industry in your cartoon, “Well, win a few, lose a few

The nuclear industry, alone among major energy producers, can claim never to have harmed a member of the public. There are now more than 150 power reactors operating in 19 countries around the world, some of which have been producing power for more than 20 years. In Ontario nearly 20% of the province’s electricity comes from nuclear plants, and there has never been an accident in any of them that affected public safety in any way. How, then, you can possibly iustify the cartoon you saw fit to publish defies belief.