While I have little empathy for Margaret Thatcher, I was extremely irritated that you would refer to her as “the middle-aged lady” as you did in your editorial (Oct. 10). I note that you mention Prime Minister Trudeau in the same column. Surely, to be consistent, you should have described him as “the elderly gentleman.” —MARGARET PERN,
The perils of metric therapy
Congratulations to Charles Gordon for How much is that in English? (Column, Oct. 10). Having survived the milk-jug syndrome and wrestled with converting crochet patterns and hook sizes, not to mention having no idea what a gallon of gasoline costs, I recently had surgery. As part of the recovery program I was given a list of Do’s and Don’ts that reads: “Commence exercising by
walking 50 or 100 metres twice a day.” By the time I figure out how far that is in English, it will probably be irrelevant. —EULA E. BARNES,
Lower Sackville, N.S.
Three cheers for Charles Gordon’s How much is that in English? The article correctly points out inconsistencies in the Liberal government’s language policy while alluding to a deeper, more pervasive problem in turn. Our “adoption” of the metric system is symptomatic of the encroachment of technical values into more and more areas of Canadian life. As traditional community and cultural values recede into the past, we are passively allowing our lives to be taken over and determined by legions of government “experts” and technicians. Nothing appears to rank higher on our
scale of values than standardization, efficiency, method and control. But the price we pay is high. We are suffering a corresponding loss in individual freedom of expression, the diminution of deeper esthetic and human values and the gradual homogenization of regional and cultural differences. An ominous future awaits us all unless we are staunchly willing to resist this tide.
—DUNCAN M. TAYLOR, Victoria
Ten or even five years ago, Britain was ahead of Canada in the conversion to metric. This year when I was over there on holiday, my British-built rental car gave no indication of kilometres on either the odometer or the speedometer. Signposted highway distances are once again in miles. Meat and vegetables are no longer advertised or sold by the kilogram. “Petrol,” while usually measured by the litre, is priced by the gallon. Weather reports on TV or in newspapers have reverted to the familiar format, “Temperature 65°F, winds SW 10 m.p.h., barometer 29.8 inches and falling.” How satisfying it must be to live in a democracy. — R.C. MELLISH
Petroglyphs safe at home
Your article Thieves and vandals of old cultures (Archeology, Sept. 19) contains a statement that some “missing” petroglyphs had been discovered in the Simon Fraser University Museum, apparently obtained by the “thieves and vandals” mentioned in your title. There are no “missing” petroglyphs in our museum. Our petroglyphs are from the Fraser River region and were obtained long ago from the estate of a pioneer
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who had purchased them from local Indians. Injudicious reporting of such erroneous information by news media is capable of irreparable harm to those public museums such as ours who work directly with Indian bands in preserving the native heritage of this country. The rock art in our museum was obtained legally and ethically, is on public display where everyone can see it and ponder it, and is protected from both vandals and the weather.
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.
Women, men and machines
Even in these changing times, women are still complaining about inattentive husbands (The computer widows, Behavior, Sept. 26 ). Why can’t women take more of an active interest in their men, be it work or play? My husband is a video technician and my living room usually has two or three video games in various stages of repair. But when they are operable, guess who tests them out. Me! —JANE MURRAY,
Port Hope, Ont.
Your article on computer widows quotes a psychologist as saying that one woman client’s antipathy toward the machine was so intense that she simply refused to dust the terminal, perhaps secretly hoping that it would clog. I guess she didn’t have to worry about the possibility of her husband, the computer expert, suddenly solving the intricacies of the dust mop. —BONNIE JAMES,
A difference for safety’s sake
With regard to Maclean's coverage of Nova Scotia’s spray trial (The high cost of community action, Canada, Sept. 26), please note that in handing down his decision, Justice D. Merlin Nunn did not declare the use of herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T “safe,” as your article declared. He merely ruled that the plaintiffs had not been successful in proving that the use of the chemicals was harmful. There is a world of difference.
—KENNETH MACCORMACK, Prospect, N.S.
A jock is no Mickey Mouse
Allan Fotheringham’s Sept. 26 column, When heroes become monsters, presented selected examples of unfortunate incidents in professional and amateur sport which inevitably draw attention to the public via the media. Paul Higgins is by no means representative of professional hockey players who, by and large, are law-abiding citizens paid for their practised hockey skills. I question how representative Gary Anderson
is of American university football players. In Canada the study of physical education requires training in many disciplines, including physiology, biomechanics and psychology and can by no means be regarded as a Mickey Mouse degree. —JANE CROSSMAN,
Thundèr Bay, Ont.
Way to go Fotheringham! Professional hockey is a business and its players are employees doing a job. Minor hockey is a game and children are there to play. The two have as little in common as Frank Sinatra crooning to a Las Vegas audience and Fotheringham belting out a tune in the shower. Parents who visualize a mini-NHLer in their child just waiting to be released through such ploys described by Fotheringham are perverting the nature of children’s play and destroying the game of hockey itself. —BRIAN WARD,
Executive Director, Canadian Council on Children and Youth, Ottawa
Had another of your stable of pen wielders committed the words to paper the tendency would be to regard the lapse merely as another manifestation of the peculiar Hogtown belief that the borders of Canada extend only an insignificant number of kilometres beyond those of Metropolitan Toronto. But for Allan Fotheringham, usually so sensitive to the geographic and demographic aspects of this country, to write (When heroes become monsters, Sept. 26) : “In Canada the dream for several generations of boys—at least those raised in the 1930s and 1940s—was to play hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs .. . Maple Leafs were ‘Canada’s team’...’’ is dismaying, disconcerting, disaffecting and disappointing. As one of those who had the good fortune to be raised in Montreal during the 1930s and 1940s, I—and uncounted thousands of others—never yearned to become a quivering Leaf. Nor for one moment did we regard the Leafs as Canada’s team. Our ambition was to skate for the Montreal Maroons (until that franchise ceased to exist) or the fabulous Flying Frenchmen, the Montreal Canadiens. Why, we would have preferred exile to the hapless and usually helpless Chicago Black Hawks to becoming aligned with that blue-sweatered passel of detested clutch-and-grab artists. Fotheringham, go soak your head.
—E. GEORGE COCHRANE, Montreal
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