‘Okay, we get how computers make children stupid. Is someone exploring how computers make adults stupid, or would we rather not know? ’ -Christine von Bezoid,Richmond Hill, Ont.

June 20 2005


‘Okay, we get how computers make children stupid. Is someone exploring how computers make adults stupid, or would we rather not know? ’ -Christine von Bezoid,Richmond Hill, Ont.

June 20 2005


‘Okay, we get how computers make children stupid. Is someone exploring how computers make adults stupid, or would we rather not know? ’ -Christine von Bezoid,Richmond Hill, Ont.

Letters to the Editor:

The machine age

Kudos to Sue Ferguson for eloquently expressing what most of us who have endured a digitalized education have understood first-hand: there is a time and place for computers, and it is not necessarily in the classroom (“How computers make our kids stupid,” Cover, June 6). As an 11th grader who has spent her entire high school career dealing with an insatiable metal slab of a learning tool, I can confirm that, for the average laptop student, time spent fixing the uncooperative machine and chatting with friends far outweighs the time spent expanding horizons. Those who promote the digitalization of the classroom for the sake of convenience fail to understand what Socrates recognized nearly 2,500 years ago: you don’t teach by handing over the key to an ocean of irrelevant information.

Judy Fu, Toronto

As I read your story, I repeatedly exclaimed “Right on!” and “Exactly!” My first career was in an Ontario public school. Computer technology was one of the subjects I taught. But I firmly believe the program that did the most to stimulate the students’ abilities to imagine, design and solve problems was Grade 7 and 8 Design and Technology. Yup, the good old “shop” program. There was never any trouble engaging young people in an environment where their senses, hands and imagination, together with a little guidance from the teacher, led to exciting, valuable learning and a boost in self-esteem.

Steve Smith, Port Elgin, Ont.

Computers may provide students with upto-date information they can’t find elsewhere when they are used properly for their school work. However, computers do make our kids stupid when skills such as the ability to understand proper research techniques, the facility to make use of library resources, and the simple task of knowing how to use an index in a text or reference book, are being totally lost. When I was working in a library system, I found that

children wanted the instant gratification that computers provided and had no patience or knowledge to seek out the information they required elsewhere. This did not bode well for their future.

Catherine McLeod, Peterborough, Ont.

I am a 17-year-old honours student and frequent computer user who was annoyed by your article. Blaming a computer for harming one’s grades can be likened to blaming the hammer for hitting your thumb. The individual is to blame for detrimental actions, not an object with no willpower.

Scott MacKenzie, Lacombe, Alta.

It is unfortunate your writer chose to use the Toronto Waldorf School as her benchmark for computer usage. Those involved with Waldorf represent a select enclave of upper income families, with stay-at-home moms, corporate lawyer fathers and a trendy dedication to hemp, organic foods and all other things lofty and good. For most of us, I believe the story boils down to the usual message: parents need to supervise their children, know who their friends are and know what they are doing (such as avoiding life by playing computer games for 10 hours). The article may have been better served by focusing on parental avoidance of responsibility in child rearing rather than fear mongering about computer-age reality.

Georgina Craig, Burlington, Ont.

The Trudeau-Grégoire wedding

Have you lost all sense of proportion? I agree that Justin Trudeau’s marriage is a Canadian equivalent of a royal wedding (“When Justin met Sophie,” Nuptials June 6), and I know that a healthy portion of your readers were eager for coverage of it, but a seven-page spread? That seems a bit much, as does the fact that half of the story consisted of photographs. I would expect to see a celebrity wedding with that kind of coverage in People, not in a national weekly newsmagazine. Daphne Dykeman, Saint John, N.B.

Say what? A “Canadian prince”? I must have missed the memo on that one. Liberal Party prince, perhaps. As for young Trudeau’s future electoral prospects, I have no doubt about his acting ability and gift for selfpromotion, but I keep hoping we’ll wake up to the need for deeper qualities in our political aspirants.

Maxine Gruber, Kanata, Ont.

I am a long-time reader and fan ofMaclean’s. However, I have been very disappointed recently because, instead of news articles, I am seeing more and more sensationalistic stories. Don’t get me wrong, I am as interested in Belinda’s billions and Justin’s wedding as the next gal, but the coverlines on your June 6 issue took the cake. When I saw the words “stupid” (“How computers make our kids stupid”) and “shut up” (“Why the premiers should shut up”), I just about fell off my chair. I have spent years teaching my child that intelligent people do not use these words. You do not need to use inappropriate language to sell your magazine.

Kerry Berlinquette, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Hacker hero

My 18-year-old son read the cover story about the dangers of spending too much time on the computer and then “Internet vigilante” (Crime) in the same issue praising the computer “geek” who caught pedophiles by spending hours hacking into their computers. He wanted to know what point Maclean’s was trying to make. This juxtaposition of views reminds me of so many

women’s magazines that tell readers to relax, chill out and try not to be superwomen in some articles, and then offer pages on how to throw together a gourmet barbecue for 30. Denise Julian, Dundas, Ont.

I can’t believe that the government and the RCMP cannot defend the actions of Brad Willman, a young man who is helping to find pedophiles, whether his hacking was legal or not. The protection of our children should take priority over the legality of accessing personal information.

Kimberley Cook, Calgary

It’s bad enough that the police continually overstep their boundaries, but illegal acts by people outside of law enforcement such as the Internet vigilante are now considered okay, as long as these unlawful acts aid the cops. Politicians and police are fulfilling George Orwell’s prophesies much too quickly as it is, without a hacker’s lawlessness being backed by our puppet judges. Pedophiles are about as low as humans can get, but unlawful acts by citizens cannot be allowed, regardless of the outcome.

Ron Wardle, Dashwood, Ont.

Promiscuous teens

After reading the tragic story of Kaitlin Morrison, who was diagnosed with HIV just after her 20th birthday, it is difficult not to feel empathy (“The new face of HIV,” Health, May 30). That empathy, however, must be balanced with a dose of reality. HIV and AIDS have been in the forefront of political and moral debate since the early 1980s. Condom use is taught in school, and has been for years. Millions of dollars have been spent on AIDS education and research. As the father of two daughters, it is astounding to me that Morrison was sexually active at 13 and on her own at 14. AIDS is a behaviourally spread disease. How many lives could be saved by simply reducing sex partners, or waiting until marriage? No amount of government funding will curtail human behaviour, be it irresponsible parents or promiscuous teens. Gary Compton, Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Pedophilia and trekkies

In your Crime story on pedophilia byjonathon Gatehouse (“The Star Trek connection,” May 30), I read generalizations like, “Investigators have been through so many dwellings packed with sci-fi books... and collectibles ... it’s become a dark squad room joke.” And, “We always say there are two types of pedophiles: Star Trek and Star Wars? But then there is nothing more about either the TV show or the movie until the second to last paragraph. If several pedophiles owned baseball gloves, would we say pedophiles are baseball fans? Lyla Miklós, Hamilton

Star Trek fans are viewed very narrowly by mainstream society as freaks and geeks. Now you add further insult by making people wonder if that Star Trek fan at school or work sexually abuses children? In a loose sense, that reasoning is akin to racial profiling. James Outram, Peterborough, Ont.

As a Star Trek fan, a rabbi, a left-handed individual and a person with a BA in communication studies, I found this article very disturbing. One of the basic lessons I learned in school is the logical fallacy of coincidental correlation. The rule is that correlation does not (necessarily) equal causation. And while this article does not come out and say that it does, the implication—even about the left-handed—is made.

Adam Bernay, Fresno, Calif.

Angelina and the Pitts

I don’t care who someone I will never meet is sleeping with. I have neither the time nor the energy to debate the morality of other people’s choices. Still, the article about the affairs of Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston and her husband, Brad Pitt

(“Comic book kisses,” Celebrity, May 23), had potential. Some interesting themes were hinted at: what it means to be a woman living in a society with narrow expectations and sexual stereotypes perpetuated by the entertainment industry. However, what was published was, at best, irrelevant.

Michelle Bissonnette, Kitchener, Ont.

The breast fetish

I can commiserate with rock star Kylie Minogue’s premenopausal breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy since I, too, have walked down that path (Face Time, May 30). Beyond the denial and anxiety, a new diagnosis brings to light the spectrum of beliefs about the role of breasts. Maybe Minogue will discover this human polarity which, for me, ranged from the most heartfelt love and compassion to comments that women are nothing but two breasts. For me, the decision to lose a breast was simple since I had to preserve my health so that I could

continue to care for my children. Unfortunately, the media supports the notion that women need to look “perfect” and cannot have obvious flaws.

Natasha Koziol, London, Ont.

Safety in the sex trade

Thank you for covering the sex trade workers in Edmonton (“Lost, luckless girls,” Crime, May 23) who are either missing or who have been found murdered. This phenomenon of killing prostitutes, “a targeted group of individuals who are taken from the street, murdered and then dumped off,” is far from modern, but can no longer be swept under the carpet. I’m glad Edmonton police are taking steps toward chasing down leads, rather than persecuting the women who are forced into prostitution. The key to preventing more women from going missing is legalization and ensuring the safety of the sex trade and its workers.

Cayce Lavlolette, Vancouver