September 27 2004


September 27 2004


‘You are off the mark about the worst gadgets. The Flowbee may look stupid, but people are flabbergasted after finding out I cut my own layered hair’ -Mary cordon,Toronto

Inspecting gadgets

I can’t believe you didn’t include the cellphone among your five all-time best gadgets (“A survival guide to gadget world,” Cover, Sept. 6). When my wife and I recently drove from B.C. to Wisconsin, we found ourselves on the side of I-94 outside of tiny Hardin, Mont., with car trouble. I pulled out my cellphone and dialled my mechanic back in B.C. I followed his instructions, but couldn’t get the car to start, so I hung up and phoned the CAA. Within 30 minutes, we were being towed to Hardin and by 11 the next morning we were on the road again. Now tell me how that scenario would have gone without a cellphone? Roger Heckrodt, Enderby, B.C.

Marvellous issue on gadgets. However, it is irresponsible to recommend the handsfree Bluetooth cellphones for the car when we know, from numerous studies, that hands-free cellphones are dangerous because the driver is cognitively engaged in conversation with a person who, unlike a passenger, does not know to stop talking when the driver faces heavy traffic. The use of cellphones while driving, both handheld and hands-free, should be banned and cars with built-in cellphones should be inoperable while driving.

James Geiwitz, Victoria

Why did you show the palmOne on the cover when you could have shown the Canadianmanufactured BlackBerry? Please, promote Canada in any way you can.

Frank Ervin, Rothesay, N.B.

A nine-page story on the newest gizmos and gadgets, many of which will be obsolete within a year or two, sandwiched between a short article on grassroots foreign aid projects and a three-page picture gallery on world tragedies. Isn’t it ironic?

Claire Carlson, Summerland, B.C.

I can’t believe it? In your gadgets package you include a section on “What your kids really, really want” and a section on “What dad

Mi t~1 !;T it

As part of the Sept. 6 cover story, we picked five best and five worst gadgets of ail time, then threw the question to you. And you caught it with enthusiasm. Judging by the online votes, there’s a fine line between indispensable and insufferable. “The worst gadget ever invented is the BlackBerry,” writes Dave Marsden of Toronto. “I cannot take a vacation without constantly being interrupted-and responses are expected,” Similar sentiments surround the ceilphone. “Ninety per cent of calls are unnecessary,” says Richard Vallee of Vancouver, “and for the other 10 per cent, reception craps out.” Other gizmos singled out for jeers: the smokeless ashtray and the electric can opener. As for best picks, laptops rule, along with the light bulb and the carrot peeler. Then there’s Calgary’s Wally MacNaughton, who writes,

“As a kid, we had a Fiiterqueen vacuum cleaner that had an attachment for sucking dandruff out of hair.” Alas, he didn’t specify if that made it a winner or a loser.

really, really wants.” So I was looking forward to the section on “What mom really, really wants.” But there was nothing. What happened to mothers? Don’t we exist? Or maybe

you think that we aren’t interested in electronic gadgets? Get real.

Wendy Bergerud, Victoria

Anti-Bush appeal

In his essay about the Republican National Convention, Andrew Potter does not explain why so many people’s hearts were in the protests against George W. Bush (“Give Dubya a hand—get violent,” Essay, Aug. 30). It has nothing to do with leftists or dropouts. I am a middle-aged, middle-class, middleof-the-road woman but, like many others, I am appalled at the world I see. We do not like a world in which corporations can deny medicine to the sick, take ownership of resources such as water or move jobs to countries because workers there are not protected. We do not like it when human rights are abrogated or when torture is condoned simply because it takes place on someone else’s soil. We do not like it when governments try to impose “freedom” by force—and few see the contradiction. Bush proudly stands for all of these things. That is why we must oppose him.

Joyce Bruhn de Garavito, London, Ont.

Andrew Potter uses warped logic to come to some ridiculously extreme conclusions. Potter writes that because Ralph Nader gave American voters a different choice in 2000, he has “a lot of Iraqi and American blood on his hands”? Come on—it was Nader who said of the Bush-Gore choice, “If you choose the lesser of two evils, you are still choosing evil.” Mary Butterfield, Edmonton

As a pro-Kerry American, I would like to respond to the letter of Don Barnes, who describes himself as a pro-Bush Canadian and asks why you publish so many anti-Bush letters (“A vote for Bush,” The Mail, Sept. 6). Reading his letter was the first time I realized there were any Bush supporters in Canada. Since moving to Ontario from Washington in February, I’ve only had conversations or heard interviews with Canadians who support John Kerry. Barnes wrote, “I am confident that Americans realize the implications of a Bush re-election.” I certainly hope they know that re-electing George W. Bush means continuing the quagmire in Iraq where over 1,000 American sons and daughters have died and which my Washington friends now call the second Vietnam. Elizabeth Masson, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Rethinking institutional care

Governments should think before focusing on home care when it comes to the elderly (“Rage against the dark,” Social Issues, Sept. 6). I am 80 years old, and my wife is a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. I looked after her at home for several years until 3V2 years ago, when a health-care worker convinced me that I could no longer give her the attention she needed. It broke my heart to let her go, but it was probably the best decision I ever made. In spite of low staffing levels at her care facility, she receives good and loving supervision from a wonderful group of trained workers. She no longer knows me, but one can see that she is content. And knowing this helps keep me healthy. It may seem cruel to think of placing mom or dad or a spouse in care but, believe me, it is the best way to go for all.

W. H. Biggs, Comox, B.C.

Certainly, better funding for and more affordable home care would brighten the lives of seniors with advancing disabilities. But having seen my husband and mother suffer from hopeless illnesses to the point where they not only longed for death, but asked me to assist, I think it’s also time we give patients the right to live or die. Now in my 80s, I have a daily recognition of how our bodies begin to wear out, and the bottom line is: the choice of living or dying should belong to the individual, not to a politically correct government.

Betty Eckgren, Victoria

Breath of fresh air

I want to thank Keith Holmes, not only for the very interesting and heartening article on his and his wife’s two years in Ethiopia, but for caring enough to write it down and share it with us (“Goodbye to long hellos,” Over to You, Sept. 6). What a refreshing difference from the heart-rending tragedies that fill most news pages these days. Marjorie Shephard, Peterborough, Ont.

Take us or leave us

I just finished reading Brian Bergman’s essay on Alberta’s new debt-free status (“We’re in the money,” Essay, Sept. 6). I knew it would take little time before liberals would come screaming that any extra money should be spent to clothe, feed, diaper and otherwise take care of others. And while it may make me appear to be a heartless right-winger, I

do not agree. If we are to use this extra money to help battle poverty, I say we tackle it by educating workers to work and offering hand-ups, not handouts. Yes, in Alberta we take care of our people, but if people want to live off the dole, then they can live in a province that is willing to wallow in debt.

Ken Moffatt, Calgary

Short-sighted scholastics

The title of Paul Wells’s article “What price education?” (Schools, Sept. 6) brought to mind the slogan, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Governments should weigh the high tax revenues paid by college and university graduates against the cost of providing college and university educations. And they should weigh the taxes contributed by the businesses those grads start and grow. But unfortunately our governments don’t often take such a broad, long-term view. When they do, the economic and social impact can be stunning.

Geoff Dean, Surrey, B.C.

Reading letters to the editor was the first time I realized there were any Bush supporters in Canada

Here’s the deal: you, generation baby boom, ensure that today’s

youth get a solid, well-funded and applicable education and we, generation X, Y and millennium, will ensure that you have health care, personal-care homes and prescription drug coverage tomorrow.

Chris Minaker, Winnipeg

Cure-all for health care

Universal pharmacare: good idea, but wrong timing. The amount of funding required for this drug plan simply cannot result in better health care on a per dollar basis (“Writing a new Rx,” Politics, Sept. 6). Education, child care and urban development are just some of the issues that need more urgent treatment because they can directly and indirectly influence our health at a fundamental level.

Albert Lai, Richmond Hill, Ont.

Title change i

I note with dismay your headline “Peacekeeping” describing the National Defence investigations into our soldiers’ deaths in Afghanistan (Up Front, Sept. 6). I served on the same mission as our soldiers who were killed, helping in part to provide security and stability. The medals to be awarded for duty in Kabul will recognize soldiers for service in the presence of an armed enemy. We were not keeping, but rather, enforcing peace—a difficult and risky task.

Maj. Keith Cameron, Canadian Military Engineers, Petawawa, Ont.