MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

November 28 2005
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

November 28 2005

MAIL BAG

'In your depression story, the following school hazing is described: ‘Guys punching you until your arms were black and blue." And this is to be tolerated?'

The early reviews

What a great read this week! I like the new format. This is my favourite magazine. I look forward to it every week. Today I was able to read it cover to cover because our power was off due to high winds. Great writers.

Mary O’Connor, Calabogie, Ont.

For many weeks I have watched Maclean’s slide back and forth on the slippery slope that is sensationalism on one side and journalism on the other. Well, after receiving this week’s clash of the National Enquirer and Cosmopolitan, I would have to say that Ken Whyte’s execution of Maclean’s is complete. Why on earth are you wasting precious resources on such drivel as “One long lap dance” or “Hairstylist needed” (7 Days, Nov. 2l)? It is not in the interest of this reader that some American executive abused his expense account or that some Canadian has the longest nipple hair. I would like to see more emphasis on informative and educational journalism. I did find the cover story “You are exposed” to fit this criteria, but I really did not need to be assaulted by excessive stalkarazzi photography nor have my vision bludgeoned by an extravagant font size. I hope those atMaclea?Ts who have a true vision and compassion for honest journalism will prevail and quickly resuscitate this wonderful magazine. Melanie M. Ball, Cambridge, Ont.

First, my take on the good: kudos for an admirable objective to add 50 per cent more text. I often felt that the revamp last time around sometimes resulted in journalistic quantity that was just a bit too thin. Second, I really like the originality and zip of the new apostroleaf and look forward to its evolving incarnations. Now the bad: as someone with years of experience in the design industry, I experienced instant visual discomfort with the new general layout and composition. Something about the whole magazine is more evocative of the format found in a tabloid or a generic Wal-Mart flyer than what one might expect of a prestigious and classy publication entering its second century. Sorry, but to me it just doesn’t seem to work or feel quite right, especially the headlines. Or maybe my 50-year-old eyes gauge visual panache

in a fading light. I will, however, keep reading, though it will take some getting used to! Graham Fligg, Port Moody, B.C.

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how disappointed I am in the new appearance of Maclean’s. Your new typeface is very difficult for me to read, and I also find it hard to tell the editorial from the advertisements. In general, I find the new layout and colour scheme looks cheap, and I’m really finding it hard to understand what was wrong with the last redesign, which I thought was much more readable.

Andrew Kerr, Ottawa

This new look is a joke, right? You’re not going to keep this look, right? Maclean’s now looks like a supermarket tabloid or maybe the Farmer’s Almanac. And the font is too small for those of us whose eyesight has deteriorated with age. Please let me wake up next week (or in two weeks; it looks like you gave yourselves an extra week) and see a magazine that does not look like the work of some new art director who suddenly discovered how many fonts she had.

Frank Meijer, Ottawa

Living in a rural area on Canada’s West Coast, it is wonderful to see the new Maclean’s and its great coverage of national and world events. Your redesign reminds me of the Maclean’s I used to read years ago. Thanks!

Rik Diespecker, Halfmoon Bay, B.C.

I am thoroughly dismayed at your cheap new look. It’s tawdry and affronting. I don’t need to be shouted at in heavy black print. If I wanted to read a tabloid, I could go and buy one. But that is not why I’ve been subscribing to Maclean’s for almost 15 years. The bad photographs of the columnists are an insult to their contributions. The coloured circles appearing on a few pages at the back really cheapen the look. And little bites of information stuck at the bottom of pages are intrusive to a good read. Perhaps your editorial team has forgotten why people like to get a newsmagazine: they like to read, not to be distracted. If this look stays, I won’t.

Ileen Kohn, Toronto

A cure for depression

Upon reading Ann Dowsett Johnston’s article about the tragic suicides of Gavin Craig and Kelty Dennehy (“Stalking a silent killer,” Depression, Nov. 14), I noticed the emphasis on

'The Hudson's Bay Co. and the Canadian Olympic Committee have simply decided that our athletes cannot wear fur. Both the Bay and Canada were built on a tradition of trapping and hunting.'

depression as the disease and no mention of its external and social causes. You do mention that “many campus counsellors across North America are witnessing an increase in the number of students seeking help with mental health issues,” but do not ask why. At one of the schools (Athol Murray College of Notre Dame), the following hazing is described in your article: “Guys punching you until your arms were black and blue,” and the victims, Kelty and his friend Noah, “learned to suck it up.” And this is to be tolerated? Along with trying to find the “perfect pill,” the environmental and social causes of depression and suicide in Canada should be seriously acknowledged and addressed.

Marina Gavanski-Zissis, Town of Mount Royal, Que.

Over 20 years in the full-time practice of psychiatry and psychotherapy have taught me one thing about depression—there is always a story and the story always serves very well to explain the meaning of the depression. If

there is a genetic vulnerability factor at work, I believe that it is neither necessary nor sufficient to account for the emergence of depression in anyone. Depression, in my opinion, is caused by the mind in the brain as, for example, the vast majority of headaches are caused by the mind in perfecdy normal brains. The brain doctors formulate depression and suicide as a simple organic illness, paying lip service at most to environmental influences. This is enormously appealing to people because, with its medical-technological authority, it grants us instant relief from guilt, accountability and the unknown. We are only the helpless victims of a sick brain. What the depression itself desperately strives to communicate is treated as a meaningless symptom of a dumb illness, to be silenced with medicine. The medical-illness model deprives sufferers and survivors of the chance to understand what actually happened to them, to take responsibility for it and through that to find hope, meaning, forgiveness and healing. Perhaps the chair in psychotherapy at

the new University of British Columbia Institute of Mental Health will be more than token. Dr. Howard Taynen, Burlington, Ont.

Congratulations to Ann Dowsett Johnston for having the courage, stamina, sensitivity and ability to write such an insightful article. Congratulations also to Maclean’s for having the understanding and foresight to print it. Doris Sommer-Rotenberg, Toronto

The fur is flying

I was under the illusion that Canadian athletes were capable of making decisions for themselves, but I see from your story on the Hudson’s Bay Co.’s designs for our 2006 Olympians that this is not so (“Trapper chic,” Olympics, Nov. 7). HBC and the Canadian Olympic Committee have simply decided that our athletes cannot wear fur. Perhaps the irony of substituting tanned sheepskin for beaver pelts on the hats escapes them: the sheep are just as dead, HBC and Canada were built on a tradition of trapping and hunting. The coc is

supposed to represent all Canadians. Yet from its actions it has decided to repudiate our history and some of our people. Animal rights is not conservation. It is cultural imperialism. HBC and coc ask for our support while showing no respect for our work or traditions.

Jim Winter, St.John’s, Nfld.

The designers quite rightly decided that the athletes would not want to wear fur, so why did they think they would want to wear the skin of another animal in the sheepskin cap and boots? A synthetic product would have been far more practical and ethical.

Vicki Fecteau, Toronto

School spirit, let’s hear it!

So my alma mater, Nipissing University in North Bay, Ont., has finished last in the primarily undergraduate category (“University Rankings ’05,” Cover, Nov. 14) again. As a graduate, I feel I must come to the defence of Nipissing and say that I could not have asked for anything more from a university. Studying geography and economics, I had the opportunity to take a physical geography class where we could actually go out into the forest and see physical geography; I had a cartography professor who was tough and dedicated enough to read and correct every one of his students’ misworded sentences; and I had a professor teaching me the economics of lesser developed countries who was from such a country and was consulting to the UN. I know these kinds of experiences are not captured in quantitative ranking systems, and prospective students and parents should not in the least bit judge a university by such a ranking system.

Dylan Houlihan, Kamloops, B.C.

I want to applaud your university rankings issue. You present, I believe for the first time, a report about schools that have publicly available teaching evaluations. Raising this issue is a very useful addition and a real improvement to your report. All universities should have this process, if not by professor, then at least by course number and year. Having public teaching evaluations is likely as important as class sizes and the percentage of classes taught by tenured faculty. Why? A public evaluation means the questionnaire is fully public. A university is much less likely to use a poor evaluation instrument if the evaluation is public.

David Johnson, Waterloo, Ont.

As parents of a student and athlete at St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish, N.S., I was not surprised to see that once again the school is No. 1 in your rankings. Our daughter was so taken with her first recruiting visit to St. FX that we dismissed other possibilities in Ontario. She is now in her third year at St. FX getting our money’s worth: she has found her wings, some fabulous friends, and her purpose, academically, at St. FX.

Karen and Tony Holland, Windsor, Ont.

The mess in Kashechewan

John Geddes writes in the story about the mess in Kashechewan that the Cree didn’t need to evacuate (“They didn’t have to go,” Kashechewan, Nov. 14). Oh yes, they did. Your pictures say it all. A few hundred people living on the edge of an immense swamp, subsisting on airlifts and expected to enjoy it and thrive. Any wildlife that existed originally would have been eaten long ago, and the rest killed by kids with slingshots and .22s. I know— I’ve worked in similar terrain most of my professional life, prospecting for mines in Ontario and Quebec. You can’t have smart energetic kids raised in a place like that. Deputy Grand Chief Jonathon Solomon said it all—offer them the proximity of a thriving north country town so they can have access to job opportunities and a chance for good education.

Michael Ogden, Cavan, Ont.

I applaud Maclean’s for printing a frank story about the debatable reasons for the evacuation. Paul Martin said prior to the last election that he realized the answer was in better funding a First Nations rejoining of society, not in

continuing to encourage isolation on reserves. I always look forward to articles that are not reproductions of the soap opera theme currently popular in the media.

Grant Murphy, Dry den, Ont.