‘I think Paul Wells should lay off the Diet Coke for awhile. The caffeine is making him a tad irritable.’

JENNIFER BAWDEN October 20 2003


‘I think Paul Wells should lay off the Diet Coke for awhile. The caffeine is making him a tad irritable.’

JENNIFER BAWDEN October 20 2003


Letters to the Editor:

‘I think Paul Wells should lay off the Diet Coke for awhile. The caffeine is making him a tad irritable.’


On-line liaisons

“Internet sex unzipped” (Cover, Oct 6) was excellent, but you missed another interesting side to this phenomenon: cross-cultural dating. For the past few years, I have used to date Hispanic women. I’ve had incredible experiences, and have travelled to Mexico, Colombia and Peru to meet women I have met on-line. Different cultures and languages mean everything is twice as exciting. For their part, some women are simply curious about someone different, someone who isn’t macho, like so many men in South America, for example. Some are looking to marry a man from Canada and have a better life. Sooner or later, I will probably marry one of these women, but for now, this is adventure travel at its finest.

Todd Stephenson, Victoria

I buy my groceries, pay my bills, order movie tickets and do my Christmas shopping online. Now I can add “met my husband” to the list. Isn’t the Internet great? Meeting someone the “old-fashioned way” at a social group or church is no safer than meeting someone on-line. There are both weirdos and nice people going to church and using the Internet.

Nancy Brouwez, Port Perry, Ont.

I imagine you will get a few angry letters about “the 2003 version of the zipless fuck, an unapologetically no-strings attached, purely sexual experience.” Not because of the moral implications of the statement, but because of the language. The truth is that language such as this, when used in the correct context and sparingly, represents the daily vocabulary of the majority of Canadians. It may be bizarre for this to inspire feelings of national pride, but for me it illustrates something that distinguishes us from the barrage of media from south of the border, where much tamer words are routinely bleeped out. It’s great to live in Canada. Mark de Koning, Vancouver

It takes no effort to find individuals interested in dating and adultery via the Inter-

net. But Internet dating services are no more than search engines. The real action only begins with instant messenger chat programs. With a mediocre computer and a Webcam, there is zero mystery knowing who you are conversing with, whereas a dating profile is easily faked. The Internet is providing an increase in efficiency, but I don’t think it is removing our pants at any greater frequency. For the record, I know

as many virgin youths as sexually active youths. And they are all computer active. Leslie Baines, Lindsay, Ont.

If I had wanted to look at pictures of a woman’s breasts, I would have ordered Playboy. I ordered Maclean’s to get a newsmagazine. Please keep it that way.

Gareth Brandt, Abbotsford, B.C.

When I saw the cover photo and the line “Internet sex unzipped,” I thought the articles would be about Internet pornography. With the preponderance of that material catering to and used by men, I thought a more appropriate image would be a close-up of a man’s fly being unzipped. However, when I read the articles, I found the topic was the new role of the Internet in dating, romance and sometimes sex. So I am still confused about the use of a photo of a woman’s cleavage to convey those ideas.

Daphne L. Flunt, Toronto

A charitable step too far

In response to “Jumping the queue?” (Ethics, Oct. 6), writer Katherine Macklem is right and the letter sent to Cambridge Club members [promising swift access to a hospital clinic for members in return for a charitable donation from the club] was wrong. Last spring we formed a committee of members to see if there was support for coordinated charitable giving within the club. We met with Nicholas Offord, president of the Mount Sinai Foundation, who made it clear he would welcome a donation to the hospital’s sports medicine clinic but that it would not be coupled with special privileges. Our legal counsel also confirmed that point. Somehow in the excitement about instituting this new program that message was lost and the letter referred to in your article was distributed. We apologize to Mount Sinai for any embarrassment caused by this oversight on our part.

Charles S. Munro, Vice Chairman, Cambridge Club Charity Committee, Toronto

You say “The brain power of this [Cambridge Club] crowd has contributed to Canada’s biggest business deals and has made millionaires out of many club members.” It’s too bad they weren’t clever enough to understand the difference between selfinterest and the public good.

Ernie Ginsler, Kitchener, Ont.

The childless choice

I understand completely how Theresa Cahill feels about discrimination toward the childless (“You assumed wrong,” Over to You, Oct. 6), because I have been on both sides of the fence. I chose to have my child at 34 for reasons perfect for me. Prior to her birth, I felt first-hand that discrimination. Why was I expected to work extra shifts, stay late, volunteer for extra committee work and keep my mouth shut when the “exclusive club of family people” left work early or called in sick at the last minute? Why was I selfish for choosing to travel, further my education, sleep late and sip tea on Sunday afternoons with my friends? I unwittingly found myself a member of the club when I became pregnant. I was placed on the pedestal of societal approval by virtually everyone. I was amazed by this reaction. Wasn’t I worthy before? Now that I have a child I understand society’s need to deify me—the truth is that’s what we need to survive. We need support, flex-time, long maternity leaves, hugs and an occasional tuna casserole. It is not easy but it’s so worth it. In return we need to respect the childless for their choices, and give them workplace benefits they value.

Debbie Houssen-Luison, Sudbury, Ont.

Theresa Cahill implies that it’s a minefield of inappropriate comments out there in the world when you’re a person who doesn’t want to have kids. That hasn’t been my experience. No one has ever asked me, “How many kids do

Now that I have a child I understand society’s need to deify me-the truth is that’s what we need to survive

you have?” when I’ve first met them. When I tell people about my choice, they usually nod and say, “A lot of people are doing that aren’t they”? I think some people question my decision to be child-free not because they’re ignorant, but because they don’t want me to miss out on that joy. I think Theresa has assumed wrong.

Portia Corman, Toronto

The last sentence tells it all: “It feels like family.” I perceive some nostalgia—the longing and yearning may come later. When Theresa Cahill is as old as we are, she will miss the great family feelings that are ours. In our late 70s we couldn’t be happier with our eight children and their spouses, our 41 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. But Theresa has her right to choose, and so did we.

Jay D. Salmon, Calgary

Service without a smile

I thought child soldiers in Africa had it bad.

Thank goodness Paul Wells straightened me out with his startling exposé on the hardships suffered by the chattering classes (“Can I get some service?” The Back Page, Oct. 6). I was shocked (shocked!) to hear that Wells had undergone the gross indignity of receiving a regular Coke instead of the diet version he ordered, on (gasp!) more than one occasion. I’m glad that I, like most Canadians who live and work in the real world, can’t afford to eat out all the

time like Wells. This way I don’t have to suffer the indignity of the wrong type of bread being served with my omelette—I just have Cap’n Crunch.

Terry Hogan, Windsor, Ont.

Hooray for Paul Wells! Someone needed to say it. His litany of lackadaisical responses to clients’ needs is sure to get a nod of recognition from many who have been ignored or snubbed by a sales clerk. Instances are boundless! Our technology is “state-of-theart,” but good old-fashioned pride of workmanship and pleasing a customer apparently have vanished. If enough people see fit to object, however, and if shops of lacklustre treatment are boycotted sufficiently to drastically affect sales volume—who knows?—they may miraculously return! Walt McConville, Brentwood Bay, B.C .

I live in Selkirk, Ont., and for some reason, the post office wants to send every piece of my mail to Selkirk, Man. The envelope says Selkirk, Ont. The postal code is Selkirk, Ont. But the mail is sent to Selkirk, Man. The postal code system was designed to identify the province, city and the closest drop box for the letter carrier to pick up the item to deliver it to my mailbox. Why can’t they deliver it to my postbox? I wish I had something to mail to someone in Selkirk,

Man., but with the way the post office works, they would deliver it to me.

Gary Graves, Selkirk, Man., er, Ont.

That unforgettable face

Prior to my retirement from many wonderful years as president of the Canadian Auto Workers union and later the Canadian Labour Congress, I always felt enormously proud when my leadership and what I stood for were attacked by Barbara Amiel. It reinforced my belief that what we were doing as a movement was important. I got a real surge of adrenalin reading in her Oct. 6 column (“A tale of two styles”) about that day long ago when she wrote about the “horrible subhuman face of union leader Bob White.” To think that, after all these years, Barbara still thinks about me. It can’t get much better than this.

Bob White, Toronto

The really




events and

background are rarely asked

Media intelligence

Great story by Kirk LaPointe (“Losing faith in the media,” Essay, Sept. 29). I have shared this view for years. The media seems content to look for the easiest (cheapest) path regardless of the consequences. Think of the restaurant that waters down its ketchup. At first it seems like a great idea to increase profits and cut costs. A great idea until customers stop coming. The media’s biggest mistake is underestimating the intelligence of the public they serve.

Jerry Chomyn, Barrie, Ont.

What irks me about our media (TV and print, private and public) is the sensationalism along with the bias that is all too often evident. I am dismayed by the superficiality of the reporting, as well as the overbearing self-satisfaction and arrogance of many journalists and TV news hosts and commentators. The really important questions aimed at clarifying events and their background are rarely asked, and viewers or readers are left mystified rather than enlightened by the news and commentaries. Our media people manipulate their news presentations seemingly to build up their own profiles as experts or gurus. At the risk of resorting to oversimplification myself, the solution is none other than a return to the basics of honest journalism as well as a greater humility on the part of journalists. Jack Patterson, Stirling, Ont.

Incredibly, Kirk LaPointe makes no reference to one of the prime overarching causes of this loss of faith—the concentration of our media in fewer and fewer hands. More insidiously, the much larger problem of “inaccuracy” in reporting is not with what is reported but rather with what is not allowed to be reported. Freedom of the press has increasingly become a euphemism for freedom of speech for those who own or control the media.

W. F. English, Montreal

Ever tried getting any news analysis in the U.S.-based press? Without Internet access to the BBC and the CBC and my subscription to Maclean’s, I’m not sure what I would know about the world.

Farahad Dastoor, Orono, Me.