March 12 1979


March 12 1979


An ill wind

On reading Brenda Rabkin’s article A Doctor Studies the Flagrantly Flatulent (Feb. 12), I came across that fine robust Anglo-Saxon word “fart.” This sent me to my copy of Aubrey’s Brief Lives, by John Aubrey (1626-1697), who wrote of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) thus: “This Earle of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a fart, at which he was so abashed and shamed that he went to travell, 7 years. On his returne the Queen welcomed him home, and sayed, My Lord, I had forgott the fart.” CELIA LUCY, WINNIPEG

Relative to the article on Dr. Michael Levitt’s study of flatulence, I thought Canada Manpower’s employment section might be interested in a small bit of past-era philosophy, which goes thus: Fartin’ horse’ll never tire; Fartin’ man’s the man to hire.


Insult to injury

Usually Maclean’s is very much appreciated and widely read in our family. However, I became quite angry when I read the article Get It Right and Get It First (Jan. 22), on the New Quiz Kids Show. What I disliked was your attitude toward the show’s host, Terry David Mulligan. The imperious description of Mulligan as “corny” and an “intellectual contrast” to the “extraordinarily bright” quiz kids who could “stickhandle their way around” and “politely tolerate” him, was sickeningly insulting.Q

Terry David Mulligan is a gifted journalist with fine warm, human qualities.


Head ’em off at the pass

Brenda Rabkin’s article Despair that Br'eeds Despair (Feb. 5) was well written and informative. I have worked with unmarried mothers for the past seven years and agree with her fright-

ening conclusions. However, I must react to her statement that: “There are virtually no comprehensive programs in Canada that intercept the young mother in early stages of pregnancy...”

In Calgary there is one such program called the School for Unmarried Mothers. The program is an interdisciplinary one which provides accredited junior and senior high-school courses, indepth personal and group counselling and prenatal classes. Our successes in Calgary suggest that more such schools should be opened across Canada. As Rabkin shows, the need is there.


Mind over matter

As an architect with most of my experience in the residential field, I read Home Is What the Computer Will Make It (Feb. 12) with considerable interest. The computer is surely the most sophisticated option. It also shortens the timeconsuming process of analysing different alterations and then drafts up the final result. But, unless it develops a mind and an imagination, it will not be able to replace the architect in the design process because an architect can give form to dreams and aspirations. Architects have a negligible input in the field of moderately priced housing. Part of this false image is created by statements such as “... saving the architect’s fee for design, which can add as much as $15 to $20 per square foot to the cost of a house.” In Quebec, the proposed fee as per the Order of Architects of Quebec tariff is 6.5 per cent of construction costs. With construction costs at $25 to $40 per square foot, that adds $1.63 to $2.60 per square foot to the cost of a house for full architectural services including construction supervision right up to completion.


Jaws HI

The article Why Should We Spend a Couple of Billion Bucks... (Jan. 22) had both good and bad points. I am not a warmonger but with the world arming to the teeth with offensive weapon systems, we should at least have a defensive system. People are priceless and if it costs a couple of billion dollars to protect them then we shouldn’t hesitate. It is unfortunate that we must continue to buy foreign planes and equipment, but until the people in Ottawa realize this, thousands of jobs and billions of dollars will be enjoyed by our neighbors.Q


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Let the mother beware

We at the Ontario Association for the Mentally Retarded were surprised at your negative reaction to the TV campaign by the Ontario ministry of community and social services on prevention of mental retardation in The Hard Life of a Hard Sell (Feb. 12). On the contrary, we congratulated the ministry for its interest and concern. Some forms of mental retardation can be prevented. Feedback from the community suggests that many people did not realize this. There is very strong evidence linking exposure to radiation, many kinds of drugs, excessive drinking and smoking on the part of pregnant women to damage to the unborn child. These are not the only causes of mental retardation, but they are areas where viewers can themselves take responsibility and tip the scales toward having a healthy baby. To do this, however, they must first be aware of the dangers. It is a very serious matter for any child to be born with a lifelong handicap, the more so if it can be prevented.


Typing, no shorthand

If Barbara Amiel knew her Heidegger she would realize mankind always “leaps before it looks,” that being the sine qua non of action. In Swinging from the Left and Back to the Right (Feb. 19), her criticism of Lévy on this and other chosen grounds betrays a fundamental unfamiliarity with a host of philosophical concepts that would have helped her review of his book. The review’s vocabulary is sadly unequal to its task, and a certain prejudice is exhibited toward any terminology which might have proved adequate. The phrase “impenetrable French academic prose” begs appeal to a surely inappropriate standard: our banal, colonial English. “McLuhanesque age” may be appropriate phraseology for a television talk-show, but it hardly serves as a suitable shorthand for intellectual tendencies in any serious forum. The selection of the phrase “New Right” over the more acceptable Nouveaux Philosophes or New Philosophers was a serious error. There is indeed a New Right movement, but Lévy is not one of its spokesmen. He is instead part of a discernible tradition which regards the follies of left and right as equally repugnant.