February 5 1996


February 5 1996


Ethics of research

I, too, am extremely curious about the functions of the brain, but I see a potential problem with this research (“Secrets of the brain,” Cover, Jan. 22). I would like to ask researchers if they have considered the awesome responsibility we face when we undertake such ventures. As Michael Crichton so eloquently put it in his book Jurassic Park “We spend so much time asking if we can do something, we don’t stop to ask if we should.”

Kerry Fraser, Lethbridge, Alta. ®

The cover story highlighting Canada’s advances in neuroscience was both inspirational and disappointing. Sandra Witelson is an outstanding scientist, having made some interesting, though controversial, discoveries about the differences between the sexes in her more than 20 years of research (“Boys, girls and brainpower”). Why, then, did the author find it necessary to mention her marital status? This informative article was undermined by the inclusion of the typical heterosexist, patriarchal affirmations found in most magazine articles about distinguished women.

Kim Shilson, Toronto

‘Human factors’

I am a thirtysomething music fan who laments the effects of economics on cultural life (“Singing the blues,” Business, Jan. 22). One of my most enriching work experiences was as a parttime salesclerk in one of Dennis Schwartz’s A&A record stores in Hamilton. It was not a giant discount emporium, but a place where people (both employees and customers) were cared for. Service was a priority. We developed relationships with customers, old and young, who asked for suggestions and assistance, and who came back to shop and tell us the results. They came for the staff, not just the prices. Regrettably, this kind of service and community presence withers in competition with the mega-markets controlled by superstores. These human factors will never be adequately valued in economic balance sheets, and our communities are the poorer as a result.

Joanne Cohen, Toronto a

Lifelong inspiration

Your article “Joyous hymns of light and color” (Art, Jan. 8) awakened delightful memories of my childhood in Baie-Comeau, Que., where I was privileged to grow up during the 1940s. The memories are of an impish, elf-like man with a halo of white hair who could climb down from the scaffold for a few moments of rest and prayer in the solitary pews as my father practised the organ for the weekly high mass and vespers. I turned the pages of his music for him. My parents were in awe of this artist who worked 10 to 12 hours a day on the frescoes that make Ste-Amélie Church one of the most beautiful churches in Quebec, perhaps in Canada. The friendship that developed between my father and Guido Nincheri ignited a love and appreciation of art that has nourished my life to this day.

Louise Cantin Merler, Vancouver

Today’s India

The article “The two Indias” by Thomas Homer-Dixon (Special Report, Jan. 22) was impressive in its depth, accuracy and in conveying just the right impression of today’s India. It is fashionable these days to say that the state-directed economics of the Nehru era were a failure. As one who grew up in India in the 1950s, I can say that is not true. It was essential then to establish a national identity and to focus on social and economic justice for all citizens So, India had to set up its own industries and have a socialistoriented state structure. It would not have made sense to replace British bureaucrats and army officers with British capitalists as the ruling elite. Forty years later, the result is a national identity and psyche strong enough not to feel threatened by foreign investment, and a heavy industry infrastruc-

ture ready to modernize. Policies of the ’50s were the right ones then, the policies of the ’90s are the right ones now.

N. M. Soonawala, Pinawa, Man.

Cuban dilemma

Wü ashington’s frustration in its failure to remove Fidel Castro’s Cuba from the North American scene for the past 35 years has reached hysterical heights (“Can Castro change Cuba?” Cover, Jan. 15). Just two sentences in your article are enough to tell the United States to forget it. They read: ‘The U.S. embargo will end. Cuba will only benefit from integration with Western markets.”

Bert Snelgrove, Barrie, Ont.

Your whole story is flawed by a shallow look at the Cuban situation. There is little about the suffocating repression to intellectuals, professionals and dissidents. To be classified as a dissident in Cuba, you don’t even have to be politically against the revolution, a mere different opinion from the “correct” one could do it. This is Cuba’s biggest problem, a society where new ideas are doomed before they can even sprout.

Levin Rodriguez, Fredericton ®

Philanthropic view

Barbara Amiel’s column “Stop the petty sniping at philanthropists” (Jan. 22) says much about the bias in our mainstream media that almost invariably assigns the moral high ground to the state while diminishing the importance of individualism and personal success to the fundamental well-being of any society. Sadly, the philanthropic motives of those who, by their own free will, choose to give something back to their society, seems beyond the grasp of many journalists and academics in this country who view altruism as suspect rather than admirable. Keep saying it, Barbara, Canadians from all walks of life are listening.

Tim Bezanson, Manotick, Ont.

Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Write: Letters to the Editor, Maclean’s magazine, 777Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W1A7. Fax: (416) 596-7730.

® E-mail: letters@macleansca or: 76702.2247@compuservecom