The Mail

The Mail

May 3 1999
The Mail

The Mail

May 3 1999

The Mail

The Y2K dilemma

In some sort of ritual of atonement to the creators of technologies past, every sector of society is throwing money at the evil precursor of the end of modern civilization, known as the millennium bug (“Guide to Y2K,” Cover, April 19). The problem is not governments and corporations; they do what they have to do. But this overzealous spending is being done by community organizations and the smallbusiness sector. I recently talked with a small-business owner who was concerned about the Y2K problem, so as a result of an “expert” assessment, she replaced her computers with top-of-the-line systems. Good call, right? Not. She replaced systems 1 years old and tripled her payments. She put her entire company at risk to combat a menace she could not see, did not understand and was not even infected by based on the report by the expert. The man was an expert all right, an expert salesman who used her fears to force her into a buying position under the guise of helping her combat the phantom menace.

Daryl Tremblay, Prince George, B. C.

My husband and I had family living in the Kemptville, Ont., area during the ice storm of 1998. We took it upon ourselves to drive to Kemptville with much-needed supplies, not only out of love for our family members, but because they were so caught off guard by Mother Nature. Regarding Y2K, it is reassuring to know the government and the Canadian Forces’ Operation Abacus are preparing to assist the Canadian population if needed. You state that experts fear that, by stocking up on necessities, people could throw the supply systems out of whack. Yet you also indicate that Operation Abacus has

“a simple aim: to bring out the troops if Y2K problems are so great that the Forces are needed.” Why is it acceptable for the Canadian government and the Forces to be prepared, yet the average Canadian citizen is accused of “hoarding.” My family will be prepared for Jan. 1, 2000— simply because we will not be caught off guard.

Joan and Randy Clarke, Sunderland, Ont.

I found the articles on Y2K contradictory. The first one echoed the official reassurances of governments and big businesses that basically everything will be OK. In the articles further on, there were indications that things may not be OK There could be serious and long-lasting effects (Russia, China and the oil-producing nations are in very poor shape in terms of Y2K preparedness). Your advice on personal preparedness—have a few days’ water and food on hand, plus a battery-powered radio, etc.—seemed ludicrous. What disruptions might occur if the United States loses 25 per cent of its imported oil supply? The Americans import 50 per cent of the petroleum they use; Canada’s total oil production would not fill that deficit. This is only one of many problems we could face. A few days’ supply of food won’t help much. The big story mainstream media have missed is on the preparations that neighbourhood groups are making. There are many sites on the Internet for community-preparedness groups, which will help their members survive not only the Y2K phenomena and their aftershocks, but increasingly dangerous weather events, world financial instability or war.

Keith Shackleton, Ottawa

Canada and NATO

I am confused by Canadian-Serbs who are angry because of Canada’s involvement in Kosovo. So what if Kosovo has been part of Serbia for 900 years? I thought human beings were beyond this petty state in their evolution. It angers me to see a picture of a protester burning a Canadian flag with a swastika inside the Maple Leaf (“Outrage in Kosovo,” Cover, April 12). Who is involved in ethnic cleansing here? Is that not similar to what Hitler did to the Jews before and during the Second World War? It is time for Serbs

to take a look in the mirror. Are they proud the Serbian military and police are responsible for killing thousands of ethnic Albanians?

J. W. Hall,

Windsor, Ont.

I am getting tired of the likes of historian Michael Bliss and some retired Canadian generals trashing NATO and the Canadian Forces for bombing Serbia. So some Canadians are ashamed. Too damned bad. Have they forgotten that the United Nations abandoned our peacekeepers in Bosnia to Serbian paramilitary terrorists? Have they forgotten that up to 800,000 Rwandans died needlessly through an orgy of tribal butchery because the United Nations abjectly failed to deal with the situation even though it was being reported to the UN secretary general with ever-increasing urgency by the Canadian general in the field? Let’s let NATO troops deal with the situation to permanently neutralize the Yugoslav military and Serbian secret police so all Kosovo refugees can return home and the KLA can disband safely, with no further interference from Belgrade.

Bob Tarplett, North Vancouver

I was saddened by Barbara Amiel’s column (“Bombing Yugoslavia is wrong, wrong, wrong,” April 12) and some of the letters that

Powerful pictures

The photograph of the Kosovar father and son from “How it happened” (World, April 19) absolutely stopped me in my tracks. The terror in the face of the small child and the fear of the father have been burned into my memory. The photograph should remind all of us what the reality of “collateral damage" is—families on the run, with little food, no shelter and lives that will be forever altered.

Elizabeth Baldwin, New Dundee, Ont.

The heartbreaking picture of the little girl in the From the Managing Editor's column (“Searching for a way out,” April 19) just grabbed my heart and twisted it. Her swollen, tear-streaked face tells a long story. This is the real tragedy of war. The untold personal stories of lost and orphaned children. I just want to hold her and hug her till the pain goes away. Unfortunately, it probably never will.

Elizabeth Dubois Huot, Ormstown, Que.


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argue against NATO’s actions in Kosovo. I’m proud of Canada taking its role in NATO. Consider the unthinkable. In a Quebec referendum, 90 per cent of Quebecers vote to separate from Canada. Heavily armoured English-Canadian troops go immediately into Quebec, burn villages, towns and cities, rape women, kill the young men, put hundreds of thousands of Quebecers on boats to France, and hundreds of thousands of refugees flood the U.S. border states. Would you not expect NATO to intervene? That is exactly what is happening in Kosovo.

Safa 0. Kasap, Saskatoon

Not only do I agree with Barbara Amiel’s sentiments, but I would go further and suggest the United States and Canada have gone to war on behalf of a dinosaur. Although we are bombing Yugoslavia in the name of Kosovar ethnic Albanians, we began the air war to preserve NATO’s credibility, and we are continuing it because our leaders fear that if NATO fails to bring Slobodan Milosevic to heel, NATO could cease to exist. To which I say: “So what?”

Michael J. Gallagher,

Cortland, N. Y.

What causes AIDS?

You observe that we in the AIDS and HIV reappraisal movement “challenge the conventional wisdom that HIV causes AIDS—or that AIDS is an infectious, sexually transmitted disease” (“Rethinking AIDS,” Health, April 12). You are correct in the first part. However, many of us feel sexually transmitted agents are an integral part of the genesis of AIDS in some patients. Of particular concern is that research is showing syphilis can trigger the process of immune-system degeneration. It is not easy to diagnose, not as easy to treat as previously thought and many patients become infected without knowing. Single and especially multiple infection is very damaging to

the immune system and a strong predictor for AIDS in HIV-positive people. The article divides the world of AIDS activism into camps. While this is understandable, it is important to remember we are all fighting for the same ultimate goal: a greater understanding of, and a cure for, AIDS.

Carl Strygg, Toronto

I have been writing for 15 years on the politics of AIDS, and contrary to the impression left by your piece on AIDS dissenters, my research indicates this movement is not marginal, nor are dissident AIDS experts “contrarian” lay people wilfully attacking reputable medical science. This is a debate raging within mainstream medical science, but kept out of the public eye, usually on the grounds that an open debate would undermine public-health efforts. Most of the activists are among the most knowledgeable people in the field, and include worldrenowned scientists and Nobel laureates.

Brian Murphy, Ottawa

The debate over ADD

Dr. Stephen Wainer berates me for arguing that attention deficit disorder is due to “lousy parenting skills” (“ADD-parenting link,” The Mail, April 19). But that is neither what I believe nor what I write in my book Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder. What I say is that ADD is the biochemical and neurological result of stressed parenting, because stresses on the parent in the first years of a sensitive infant’s life— stresses increasingly prevalent in late-20thcentury North American society—directly affect the intricate processes of brain development. That much is well-established by current brain research. Not every biological process can be pinned on heredity. By understanding the beautifully complex interactions between human biology and the en-

vironment and by knowing that development is a function of the human brain even into late mid-life, we can offer people hope instead of condemning them to a lifetime of languishing in a sort of neurobiological prison.

Dr. Gabor Maté, Vancouver

While Dr. Gabor Maté’s book linking attention deficit disorder with parent-child bonding difficulties may appeal to some die-hard Freudians, his uncorroborated hypothesis only adds insult to injury for the many parents of ADD children who struggle with their kids’ behaviour and learning problems. The scientific evidence of genetic and biologic basis for ADD is clear enough.

Dr. Albert Rosengarten, Calgary

The uses of money

With reference to the item “Corel chic,” showing a photograph of Marlen Cowpland in a $ 1-million cat suit (Business Notes, April 19), I wonder how many Kosovo refugees could be fed, clothed and sheltered with the money that Cowpland spent to look so cheap.

Harlan James, Edmonton

Heart failure

In Passages of April 19, you state that “Renowned heart surgeon and former senator Paul David” also “performed the first Canadian heart transplant in 1968.” Dr. Paul David was not a heart surgeon, but a physician cardiologist and a medical director of the Montreal Heart Institute, which he founded 45 years ago. The first Canadian heart transplant was performed by Dr. Pierre Grondin, a surgeon at the Montreal Institute of Cardiology. I was there as one of two anesthesiologists participating in the event.

Dr. W. A. Wielhorski, Toronto