MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

January 15 2007
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

January 15 2007

MAIL BAG

‘Stroumboulopoulos says he's not dumbing down the news, but rather explaining it. To whom?’

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

AS A LONG-TIME SUBSCRIBER, I feel compelled to congratulate you on your year-end issue (“Newsmakers 2006,” Dec. 25). The snippets about leading events during the past year were informative and entertaining and they were a source of interesting discussion and reminiscing between my colleagues and myself. An excellent production!

EnidM. Stone, Rigaud, Que.

HOME, SWEET HOME

WOW. JUST WOW. I am appalled at the social and environmental irresponsibility of Maclean’s editors. To suggest that urban sprawl is no big deal is downright moronic, not to mention dangerous (“Buy if you love Canada,” From the Editors, Dec. 25). With the planet at or nearing peak oil production, the idea that we should continue to encourage workers in vehicles to traverse large distances to get to work and back just so they can own homes is stupid and environmentally unsustainable, not to mention expensive. Speaking of expensive, what about those 40-year mortgages you mention? How many people are going to defer retirement so they can continue to make mortgage payments well into their 60s?

Fraser Secret, Vancouver

IT SEEMS that Maclean’s editors are advocating the scrapping of suburbia. The implication one may easily draw from this editorial is that green is bad for business. Lawns, in effect, are a waste of valuable space. So, indeed, let’s scrap the suburbs, and build big-city, multiplex condos cheek by jowl, row upon interminable row. But then, whatever would we do with all that (former) suburbia? Turn it into parkland no one would use? Richard Weatherill, Victoria

NO LAUGHING MATTER

I AM OF THE OPINION that there are few situations in life that cannot be improved if those involved would only lighten up (“ ‘It’s a good hijab if you can get it,’ ” TV, Dec. ll). Still, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that through her CBC show Little Mosque on the Prairie, it is possible, as Zarqa Nawaz suggests, to put “the fun back in fundamentalism.” It seems to me that in order to put the fun back in something, it has to have been there in the first place—and clearly, that’s not the case with Islamic fundamentalism. Or is Nawaz suggesting there are untapped reserves of hilarity in, say, fatwas, jihad and sharia law? Mindy G. Alter, Toronto

MESSAGE SHOCKVERTISING

I WAS VERY DISAPPOINTED that you had the audacity to compare the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ads to commercials that are geared toward persuading consumers to buy retail products (“It’s a scene from 24—no, it’s a car ad,” Media, Dec. 18). At the age of 35,1 was left a widow with two young children. My husband and his co-worker

were bracing a wall in an elevator shaft on the 18th floor of a luxury condominium building when the safety platforms they were standing on collapsed. They plunged 18 floors. Advertisers use shock ads to plunge into the pockets of the general public. The WSIB ads are designed to remind everyone that they are responsible for workplace safety. With their powerful dramatizations, WSIB has taken a bold step to educate the public about how critical workplace safety is to every individual in the workforce.

Fran DeFilippis, Newmarket, Ont.

FYI CBC: RATINGS MATTER

IN JONATHON GATEHOUSE’S piece about George Stroumboulopoulos, a few lines stood out (“A tinfoil suit in a lightning storm,” Media, Dec. 25). Gatehouse says Stroumbo isn’t the angry type. Few people are. His aggressive side is evident only to those who find their emails going unanswered, or his stubbornness as executive producer of The Hour in staying with a format that doesn’t work. When he says he is not dumbing down the news, but explaining it, I have to ask, to whom? This presumption is perhaps at the root of why many people find the show condescending. Furthermore, when Kirstine Layfield, the executive director of network programming, says that “the measure of a success on the CBC isn’t just about the ratings, it’s about how much discussion it starts,” she is being absurd. Ratings are a measure of viewers and audience, and to belittle their significance in broadcasting reveals a disingenuous attempt at damage control. It’s simply dishonest to pretend the show has no serious problems.

Allan Sorensen, Toronto

THE BIG HAIR PICTURE

YOUR ARTICLE on people who stop washing their hair (“Kick the habit. Grease is the word,” Help, Dec. 18) does a disservice to your readers. I work with clients every day assessing their scalp and skin using a fibre-optic microscope. When you see a scalp magnified 200 times on colour television screen, you realize just how much debris can accumulate in one day, not to mention the hormonal buildup. These conditions can lead to hair loss. The best way to maintain a healthy scalp is daily washing with a plant-based, pH-balanced cleanser. Karen Sharp, Ottawa

TENSIONS IN TURKEY

WHY DO YOU CONSIDER the current French bill outlawing the denial of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during the First World War to be provocative (“Fearing a new holy empire,” World, Dec. 4)? It isn’t—for three reasons. Firstly, French legislation already has the same law regarding the denial of the Holocaust by the Nazis. Secondly, Raphael Lemkin (who created the word “genocide” and worked toward the adoption of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention) stated that the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust are the defining examples of genocide. Lastly, the Association of Genocide Scholars adopted a resolution in 1999 calling on the Turkish government to stop its negationism about the Armenian genocide, as it is a historical fact that falls under all five criteria of the UN Convention. Thus, the French bill is a natural evolution in this

area. Turkey should also evolve by being humble and honest about its past. Otherwise, it shows just how far it still is from the EU values it pretends to accept. Atken Armenian, Laval, Que.

‘The article on people who stop washing their hair does readers a disservice’

THERAPY VS. LIFE COACHES

IN THE ARTICLE about the new proliferation of life coaches, coach Wayne Caskey is quoted as saying that “therapy is about the past [while] coaching is about the present and the future” (“You go, girl! That’ll be $300,” Help, Dec. 4). He could not be more wrong. All psychotherapy worthy of the name is based in the present and looks to the future. Dynamic psychotherapy is based upon the well-established idea that one’s current dysfunctional beliefs and behaviours arise from unconscious adaptations to stressful early life circumstances. In other words, what was the solution has become the problem. Understanding this connection is not the only component of healing in psychotherapy, but it is a vital one. As the philosopher George Santayana put it, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Timothy Yates, MDCM, FRCPC, Calgary

JACKIE PARKER’S AGE

In your lineup of famous people who passed away in 2006 (The End, Dec. 25), you give Jackie Parker’s age as 94. This must have been atypo: the CFL great was 74Mildred Cook, Toronto

IN PASSING

Gerald Ford, 93, former U.S. president. He assumed power from a disgraced Richard Nixon in 1974. During his presidency, the U.S. completed its withdrawal from the Vietnam War. Ford also backed Canada’s request to join the high-level council of leaders then known as the G7-

Mavor Moore, 87, producer. He was involved with most of Canada’s cultural organizations, including the CBC, where he was the youngest-ever producer. He was also founding artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival and helped with the pioneering theatre revue Spring Thaw.

James Brown, 73, singer. Known as the “Godfather of Soul,” his funky style influenced generations of musicians. Fabulously successful, he bought a string of radio stations, including one in Atlanta, where he’d shined shoes as a boy.

Saparmurat Niyazov, 66, president of Turkmenistan. Consolidating power after the Soviet Union’s collapse, he created an outsized national cult of personality.

NEW ON THE WEB: Felicia Simms, the mother of conjoined twins Krista and Tatiana, will be blogging weekly on the twins’ progress at macleans.ca/twins