MAIL BAG

November 27 2006

MAIL BAG

November 27 2006

MAIL BAG

‘Qnce they get out the door at A&F, they’re wearing a ripped pair of jeans like everyone else’

UNIVERSITY TRUTHS

AS A SECOND-YEAR university student, I was very pleased with this year’s university rankings issue (“Canada’s best schools,” Cover, Nov. 13). I found the articles and statistics very informative and interesting. I loved how you exposed some truths, for instance, the less-than-stellar food in many of the school cafeterias, and the earnings of many of the presidents. I do have to point out one thing that made me laugh. I am currently at Queen’s University, but in my first year, I attended Carleton. I participated in frosh week, as did everyone on my residence floor. In the article about residences (“It’s almost like home”), writer Martin Patriquin mentioned a university poster that hung in one of the halls. It read, “83 per cent of Carleton residents did not drink alcohol during orientation week 2005.” It just shows the lies about partying that are told to reassure parents and students.

Kristen Taylor, Marysville, Ont.

HOW TRANSPARENT. This is the second year in a row that a gorgeous brunette has graced the cover of your university rankings. Who is your photographer?

Michelle Wysocki, Brights Grove, Ont.

MY WIFE and I wonder why you have another picture of a young woman on the cover. With all your data on demographics, you should know that approximately 50 per cent of the students are male. This is political correctness overdone.

David Ouellet, Woodbridge, Ont.

UNIVERSITIES ARE at the forefront of learning, so why not food (“Feeding the student body”)? Surely universities should be leading us in teaching intelligent eating to combat our appalling obsession with fast food. An unhealthy diet does not help in the learning process. Shame on the universities.

David Chadwick, Lindsay, Ont.

I SUPPORT Carleton’s placement on the bottom of your comprehensive rankings list (“Our 16th annual rankings”). One would think that a university located in our nation’s capital and nestled between the historic Rideau Canal and the beautiful Ottawa River would integrate such natural features into its design. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

I actually had a friend ask me once if Carleton was a penitentiary before it was a school. Students do not even feel safe on campus. Dark corners and silent lonely tunnels are a haven for prowlers. I dare professors to walk the campus after ll p.m. alone and assess how safe they feel. Furthermore, there are no student meeting spaces. Other campuses have open university centres.

Jay Peter, Ottawa

AN UNLIKELY defender of Maclean’s, I’ve found its metamorphosis over the last couple of years strikes a healthy content balance of news and entertainment. Your “Campus Looks” feature in the university issue, however, was neither. Superficially highlighting student visages was not only pointless, but it further exemplified why my demographic struggles to connect with your magazine. To be physically profiled like mystery animals in our natural habitat—coupled with little voice or expression throughout the entire issueserves to remind “my kind” that your magazine is largely written by and for the middle-aged suburban nightmare set and the occasional politico.

Denise Brunsdon, Mo?itreal

POT, BUT NO BLANK SLATE

I AM professor Doug Hutchinson’s active collaborator on a research project aimed at recovering and reconstructing Aristotle’s lost work, “Exhortation to Philosophy.” In your story about his pot-smoking room at the University of Toronto (“Higher learning,” Uni-

versities, Oct. 30), I was surprised to read that you quoted him as saying his research slate was “basically blank.” Hutchinson and I have published a 102-page essay in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, the leading journal in our field (it is in the Winter 2005 issue), and have recently given talks on the topic at Cambridge University, the University of Florence and Yale University, in addition to the American Philosophical Association.

Monte Johnson, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of California,

San Diego, Calif.

A&F, BACK IN THE DAY

THE CHANGE in merchandise and marketing at Abercrombie and Fitch would have horrified my grandfather, David T. Abercrombie (“Abercrombie and Fitch: come shop in our dungeon,” Business, Nov. 13). In 1892, he founded the store that was to become an outfitter for expeditions, camping and sporting. He also invented some of the goods, like waterproof canvas, and a method of baling uniforms for transport in the First World War. Even Ezra T. Fitch, who took over the company in 1907 and diversified the merchandise, would have been baffled by this sorry turn. I’m trying to imagine the current “young, hip, privileged” clientele of A&F having the inclination or fortitude to cook over an open fire, let alone accompany Teddy Roosevelt on an African safari or Admiral Richard Byrd to Antarctica.

Edith Miller, Fredericton

THIS ARTICLE is bang on! As a fortysomething mother of three kids, I did a walkthrough of A&F subsidiary Hollister with my 21-year-old daughter. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough! The lighting, scents, music and layout nearly caused a panic attack—and I can rub elbows with the best of them at the busiest warehouse sales. My son’s girlfriend is one of the beautiful people who works at A&F, definitely a place for the young and hip. But, as you so clearly point out, once they get out the door and into the rest of the mall, they are still wearing a ripped pair of jeans and a distressed sweatshirt like everyone else. Shari Morgoch, Toronto

GOING BALLISTIC

IT IS AN inconvenient truth that protecting Canada’s vast territory (and by extension its

sovereignty) is an expensive business (“Time to rethink the missile defence snub,” From the Editors, Oct 23). We have to consider various measures to protect ourselves, our country and our allies against the emerging security threats of the 21st century, particularly the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Surely it is better to be involved in a defence system against such threats than to be excluded? Canada’s participation in ballistic missile defence would ensure that we would have a voice in the defence not only of Canadian territory but of North America itself. The Conference of Defence Associations believes that the BMD system presents Canada with an opportunity to nurture relations with its traditional allies while extending its capacity to defend itself. The defence of Canada and North America in collaboration with the U.S. is a vital Canadian interest and cannot be ignored.

Alain Pellerin, Executive Director, Conference of Defence Associations, Ottawa

YOUR EDITORIAL was seductively and selectively persuasive regarding Canada’s participation. However, you failed to address three salient aspects. History reveals that all defensive systems have been outsmarted by determined and resourceful foes. The BMD will inexorably lead to the militarization of space as China, Russia, perhaps others, will respond. That is much scarier than the status quo. Finally, it was not Canada’s global behaviour, but rather America’s greed-driven and short-sighted policies of the last half century, that put the continent we share at risk.

Rani-Villem Palo, Associate Professor of History, Augustana Campus, University of Alberta, Camrose, Alta.

CHAPTERS AND VERSE

I LAUGHED reading Mark Steyn’s piece about the invisibility of his book at Chapters (“Anybody seen my book?” Books, Nov. 6). Not since reading Mordecai Richler have I enjoyed such sly wit. It’s just so delicious. I think most of us have already experienced walking into Chapters and being told that the book we seek is not available, only to go home and find it at Amazon.com and order it cheaper there. If it happens often enough, Chapters will lose credibility among serious readers.

Mariël Schooff, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

TAKING AMBROSE SERIOUSLY

HOW CAN anybody take Rona Ambrose’s environmental plan seriously (“Deep in the cold, cold ground,” National, Nov. 6)? I am a Grade 10 student, and by the time her plan comes into effect, I will be 64 and Am-

T loathe being forced to witness these symbols of male violence and oppression’

brose herself will be long dead (if everyone on earth hasn’t already died from one of global warming’s nastier effects). In fact, her plan might as well rely on the fact that the world’s very limited oil supply will run out in 50 years. If only Ambrose had been forced to take my Grade 9 geography course and learn all about global warming and how we must act sooner rather than later, she would have crafted a plan worth its weight in reduced emissions right now.

Adam Carlin, Waterloo, Ont.

A MATTER OF FAITH

REGARDING YOUR piece criticizing the banning of burkas and tiiqabs in public in some places in Europe (“The real meaning of cultural assimilation,” From the Editors, Nov. 6), I think you are either missing the point or are reluctant to state it. Telephone, email and letters notwithstanding, when I am communicating in person, I should be able to see the face of the human being in front of me. What would happen to me if I went to the bank wearing a mask? Am I being superficial? Surely, there is a difference between a hat and a full face covering.

Henry B. Unran, Edmonton

YOU DIDN’T TELL the real story behind Muslim women wearing the all-enveloping black clothing that shrouds them from the gaze of

non-Muslims. Although Muslim women may protest that these are their garments of choice and they wear them for religious reasons, the ugly truth is that they were designed by men who treat women as chattels and force their womenfolk to wear them. Muslim women in France who refused to wear the veil have reported that they have been savagely beaten for doing so by their male relatives. I loathe being forced to witness these symbols of male violence and oppression, and would be very glad to see such clothing banned altogether. Canada has a Charter stating men and women are equal. Anyone who disagrees with that philosophy should stay away.

JancisM. Andrews, Sechelt, B.C.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

YOUR WRITER Michael Friscolanti is seriously off-base with his comment that only a federal government bureaucrat could have come up with the name “Canadian House Dust Survey” (“Gathering dust,” National, Nov. 13). A real top-level bureaucrat would have invented something like “Canadian Occupied Dwelling Place Visible Particulate Matter Collection Initiative,” and taken several months, a committee of at least 25, and three levels of review to do it.

David Wasserman, Edmonton

IN PASSING

Jack Palance, 87, actor equally adept at playing menacing types in dramas as well as comedies, such as 1991’s City Slickers. He started in theatre, where he replaced Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire after the star broke his nose. His reputation grew with the 1955 film version of The Big Knife, about a jockish movie star with a career on the way down. Late in life he gained a renewed profile in a string of Ken-L Ration dog food commercials.

Markus Wolf, 83, spymaster for East Germany who scored a major coup by placing an agent near West German chancellor Willy Brandt. Brandt was forced to resign in 1974 after the spy was exposed. Following Germany’s reunification, Wolf fled to Russia, but he was later returned to the West for trial. He received a six-year suspended sentence. Last week a Russian Defence Ministry newspaper lavishly praised him as “this wonderful, steely man.”