The World Cup can unite soccer fans around the world, but the tournament is increasingly serving as a wedge between the rich and poor of host nations, says a Queen's University sports sociology expert.
"It's hard for me to say that there is anything good about the World Cup except for the games," said Dr. Geoffrey Smith, a professor of physical and health education and history.
"You've got this image of people who don't have and they are, in effect, really being -- I don't want to use the word screwed but I have to -- by the haves."
Thirty-two teams are to compete in the month-long World Cup that kicks off Thursday in Brazil.
Smith said the cost of staging events like the World Cup and Olympic Games are hard to justify.
The World Cup is expected to cost about $11 billion, including $3.6 billion to build or refurbish 12 stadiums.
A 42,000-seat stadium built in the city of Manaus deep in the Amazon Jungle cost $319 million is to host only four World Cup games.
Last winter's Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, cost about $50 billion.
In addition to the astronomical costs, Smith said the World Cup's organizer, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), is expected to make billions of dollars in revenue.
Smith said FIFA is increasingly being seen as a exclusive club for wealthy states.
People are becoming more vocal, Smith said, about the money spent to host major sporting events, and the revenue they generated, could be better spent elsewhere.
"We are getting to the point in post-industrial capitalism where we are spending far too much money on circuses and not enough on bread," Smith said.
"Who is this for? Is it for the Brazilian people?"
The huge costs associated with hosting a World Cup or Olympic Games could mean only countries that have pre-existing infrastructure could afford them.
Criticism aside, Smith admitted he and his 10-year-old, soccer-playing grandson would be watching when the tournament starts Thursday. Smith said they predict Spain, host team Brazil, the Netherlands and his sentimental favourite England, will do well.Renaissance man and superfan: Retired prof and former Gaels coach breaks down this years men's basketball team
Geoff Smith calls his love for basketball an illness. Having had knee operations at 15 and 21, he joined Queen's to teach history and coach basketball in the 1970s.
Despite retiring in 2006, his attachment to Queen's basketball has hardly wavered. This weekend the "Renaissance man" will miss men's basketball home games for the first time all year.
"I'm sad because I'm going away with [his wife] Roberta, we've got a wonderful cruise coming up," Smith said, who'll be without score updates for weeks.
"We should be back for the playoffs and they should be in it this year."
The former college player and ex-men's basketball coach knows the team -- he's there, front row centre, at every home game.
But this hasn't always been the case.
"[Last year] I watched two games and realized there was no reason to watch them," he said.
The Gaels, who were 2-20 in 2011-12, were led by head coach Stephan Barrie during his first year on the job. This year's team is 8-3, with a cast of 10 new players on the 16-man roster -- a transformation similar to the one in 1982 where Smith had helped bring in 14 newcomers to the team.
"The most important thing you can do is recruit," Smith said, which was a nonexistent practice when he began coaching Queen's basketball in 1973 alongside legendary football coach Frank Tindall.
"[Tindall] was very hands-off," Smith said. "He would come in and give the tip-off play, and that would be it."
Smith took over in the 1980s as head coach. It wasn't until '85 when he gave up coaching and became the first to devote time to recruiting players for the basketball program.
Smith recalls the struggles of attracting talented new players to suit up for Queen's.
"One of the problems is -- as one of the sportswriters in town put it -- if they're smart enough to go to Queen's, they're smart enough to know there are better places to play basketball," he said.
Smith described coach Barrie's quiet style of leadership as one of the cornerstones of the team's success.
"In my view, that's the opposite of me. I'm the Dick Vitale of the gym," Smith said, referring to the vivacious ESPN broadcaster.
His analysis of Barrie delves deeper: tactical and behavioural traits are outlined as imperatives to the team's success. The players have bought into Barrie's system and it's paid off. According to Smith, what separates Barrie from his predecessors are his focus on the controllable factors in a game and not mulling over the odd missed shot. "Everybody touches the ball, everybody can shoot and everybody can contribute," he said. "It's not the 'can', but the 'must'."
He says 2004-05 was the last time Queen's basketball was in good hands. Under head coach Chris Oliver, the Gaels were helped to their first record over .500 since the 70s.
Oliver left for Windsor in summer 2005 to coach the Lancers, who've had a winning record for seven seasons and counting under his reign.
Queen's could now also earn its first winning record since 2008-09, much to the relief of fans like Smith.
"I found it's been painful to watch Queen's basketball [last year], because there've been so many fundamental, mental errors," he said.
It's that same mental preparedness that Smith prioritizes in both basketball and teaching.
Execution, timing is everything when you’re lecturing," he said. '[You need] a plan, and you have to execute it if you can or modify it if you can't."
"Basketball's the same goddamn thing."
Elizabeth Renzetti, The Globe and Mail
January 9, 2013
It could be a moment made in television heaven: Penitent sinner meets confessor-in-chief, to the sound of ratings hallelujah. That is, if all goes according to script when Lance Armstrong meets Oprah Winfrey next week for his first major television interview since the champion cyclist was accused of being a habitual dope cheat.
On Jan. 17, Ms. Winfrey will broadcast a 90-minute interview from Mr. Armstrong’s Texas home. The disgraced seven-times Tour de France winner “will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career,” according to a press release from Ms. Winfrey’s office.
But the payoff, the mea culpa shot, will certainly come when – and if – Mr. Armstrong confesses to past transgressions on Oprah’s Next Chapter, a flagship show on the struggling Oprah Winfrey Network. A report in The New York Times this week suggested that the cyclist was considering an admission of wrongdoing. He has relentlessly denied using performance-enhancing drugs, despite evidence to the contrary.
While he could have chosen a television network with a higher viewership, Mr. Armstrong’s choice of the Church of Oprah is a canny one, because the popular television host has built a career on the idea that even the most scandal-plagued life can be reborn.
“One of Oprah’s major products is redemption. She sold the experience of confession – of hearing somebody’s darkest story, and offering to them the possibility of relief from its articulation,” says Kathryn Lofton, a professor of religious and American studies at Yale University, and the author of Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon. In an e-mail interview, Prof. Lofton continued, “The guest has two jobs: first to say how bad things have been; second to explain their plan for self-improvement.”
Many celebrities have chosen Ms. Winfrey as a way to open their hearts to the world, whether it was a sofa-jumping Tom Cruise on his love for Katie Holmes or Ellen DeGeneres talking about coming out of the closet. This week David Letterman unburdened himself about his adultery on Oprah’s Next Chapter: “I want to be a better person,” the talk-show host said.
Mr. Armstrong, who is also famous for his charitable cancer work, may have chosen Ms. Winfrey on the grounds that she is less likely to pepper him with tough questions than a journalist would. However, she has a talent for schoolmarmish disapproval. On her previous, top-rated talk show she eviscerated James Frey, the author of the memoir A Million Little Pieces (an Oprah’s Book Club choice), when he was found to have invented some of the book’s material. In a subsequent interview, she apologized to Mr. Frey for being so hard on him.
“It is the perfect place for celebrities to go and reveal something painful about themselves in a sympathetic setting,” says Janice Peck, a media studies professor at the University of Colorado and author of The Age of Oprah. “I’m sure [Lance Armstrong’s] handlers are hugely upset about the amount of money he’s losing in endorsements. This could be a beneficial experience for both of them.”
Ms. Winfrey is perfectly aware of her role as the shoulder the nation cries on. Last year, at the National Cable Television Association conference, she said: “I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me. And I’m going to make that happen, people.” Her empire, however, is not what it was since she left her daily talk show in May, 2011: Her magazine, O, has seen circulation tumble and OWN, the network she co-owns with Discovery Communications, has been plagued by low viewership.
Still, she remains a hugely influential and sympathetic force, which observers feel is the main reason Mr. Armstrong has chosen her.
“Her reach is longer than Wilt Chamberlain’s,” says Geoff Smith, a professor emeritus of kinesiology and health studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. According to Prof. Smith, the sports-loving public has an impressive capacity to forgive scandal-plagued athletes, from Barry Bonds to Tiger Woods, provided they approach their rehabilitation with some humility and savvy. “Armstrong’s plenty smart, and that sets him apart from some other jocks who got caught. And he has an incredible track record of doing good works, which may help.”
Thursday’s prime-time meeting could be just the boost both celebrities need: Atonement for one, attention for the other, and a stirring experience for the millions who tune in.It has happened here
We Canadians recoiled from the series of events that swamped Pennsylvania State University in perhaps the most offensive scandal in the history of big-time university sport in the United States. The revelation that an assistant football coach at one of the storied athletic programs in the U.S. had committed several sexual acts against young boys in a university shower-room was scarcely believable. Even worse, the response of university authorities from President Graham Spanier to the immortal coach, Joe Paterno, made it clear that many insiders knew about the activities and proclivities of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, which continued for 15 years, and ignored them.
In Canada, few if any sports teams approach the glory of Penn State football. The coach was god-like, the players at Penn State walked the campus as demigods, and home games brought out students and alumni across generations the way Mecca attracts Moslems and the Pope's masses in St. Peter's Square draws Catholics. Some faculty -- who clung to the belief that Penn State was an institution of higher learning -- averted their gaze. Others willingly endorsed that culture and accepted the fruits of that culture.
There is some good news here for Canadian universities, reflecting the different realities that separate us from our American neighbours. A different sport culture here keeps institutions at a point where most big-time U.S. football and basketball programs were before the advent of network and cable TV money, endorsements and athletic scholarships. Although some basketball programs in Canada are top-notch and although football programs at the University of Regina and Université Laval enjoy significant private financial support, still, academics still prevail over athletics. Faculties and students still control intercollegiate athletics at most Canadian universities.
For another thing, where would the money to fund big athletics programs come from? Markets in Canada are too small to promote the behemoth sport factories that allow American coaches to make more money and wield more power than university presidents and foster situations that allow players to cross too many legal and ethical lines.
Canadian scholars like Varda Burstyn, Bruce Kidd, Laura Robinson, and Brian Pronger have shown that American college sport promote not only spirit and courage but also a pathological hyper-masculinity that often finds outlets in problematic ways. In no other venue is "homosociality" so accepted. Homosociality is, in essence, the process by which athletes bond on and around fields of battle. Burstyn, in her book The Rites of Men, underlines several pathologies that can accompany athletic camaraderie, on and off the field. Pronger probes the sexual interstices that provide an often unspoken homoeroticism which borders on, but need not encompass homosexuality. Indeed, the homosocial environment of sport generally abhors homosexuality in favour of outward toughness and the demonstration of power. Such behaviour takes form in hockey fights, dirty hits on the football field, and numerous other situations where male force seeks to dominate. It can become a breeding ground for misogyny, as Frank Costigliola demonstrated in his recent Cold War study while assessing Soviet and American diplomats and their sometimes orgiastic social life in Moscow during the 1930s; it can also encompass pedophilia.
Simply because our college athletics are not as important or competitive as in the U.S., Canadians should not be complacent. Pedophilia is an atrocity that has happened here, there, and everywhere. Transgressions like Sandusky's have occurred in myriad cultural sites where adults in positions of power oversee children and adolescents without supervisory accountability. We need only consult our sordid history of lives ruined in our country's aboriginal residential schools, hierarchical cover-ups involving the Catholic Church, and assaults by junior hockey coaches, choir-masters, scout leaders, and other adults in youth sport and activities. We need to see our own complicity in all of this.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has handed Penn State a $60 million fine; a four-year ban on bowl games; and the order to vacate all football victories back to 1998. Whether the death penalty for football would provide a more apt punishment remains moot. The report on the scandal by independent counsel Louis J. Freeh said that its "most saddening finding...is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims." The cover-up at Penn State will resonate in law courts for years to come as witnesses recount the tragic story. But there is a lesson for all of us here. We must reject once and for all what psychologists deem the bystander effect, which makes it hard for people to intervene as good Samaritans, or as any kind of Samaritan at all.Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety
Thursday, June 7, 2012
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Upper Canada Academy for Performing Arts
260 Brock Street (at Clergy)
View the Warrior Nation Book Trailer! HD is recommended.
In Warrior Nation, Ian McKay and Jamie Swift write:
Many liberal-minded Canadians have grown up thinking that their country is characterized by certain continuing traits or values -- multiculturalism, global peacekeeping and global citizenship, regionalism, commitment to a strong social safety net, and a consensual, collaborative, community-oriented approach to shared problems.
The new warrior Canada is, by contrast, a crusading kingdom founded upon specific British and Christian traditions, militantly committed to the spread of specific notions of the market, and prioritizing military might over the peaceful resolution of disputes.
In Warrior Nation, Jamie and Ian tell stories from Canada's past, tracing the evolution of our relationship to things military. In the second chapter we meet swashbuckling marauder William Stairs, the Royal Military College graduate who helped make the Congo safe for European pillage. A chapter called War to War to War profiles Vimy Ridge veteran and Second World War general Tommy Burns, leader of the UN’s first big peacekeeping operation, a soldier who came to call imperialism “the monster of the age.”
For the full review of Warrior Nation by Merilyn Simonds (Kingston Whig Standard, May 19, 2012), go to: http://www.thewhig.com/2012/05/21/taking-aim-at-canadas-militaryThe gospel of Tim Tebow
A few short months ago, he was the much-derided backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos, a Bible-quoting former college-football star whose rah-rah leadership style and unpolished passing technique fell far short of the National Football League's unforgiving professional standards.
So the experts said.
Now, he's Tim Tebow, sports messiah, cultural phenomenon and hero in hard times, an underdog who rescued a failing team and took them to Saturday's playoff showdown against the powerful New England Patriots as much by sheer force of will as conventional football ability.
He's only 24, in his second year with the Broncos, and by the meritocratic rules of professional football, this dutiful son of evangelical Christian missionaries should be serving an obscure professional apprenticeship where the mandated humility of his faith would prove very helpful.
If you listen to his explanations for his recent success, he still sounds like a wide-eyed kid fighting off the sin of pride. “It's probably just that I have really good receivers that make me look a lot better than I really am," he said this week.
Modesty might be part of his appeal in a sports world that overvalues arrogance, but fame needs a deeper explanation than that: Tim Tebow has become a sudden superstar by turning around the Broncos' dead-end season with late-game heroics that make the God he thanks in interviews a much more tangible presence in American sports culture.
Yet it's not just his brand of football heroics that have prompted Tebowmania. Yes, there's a wonderful, mysterious, otherworldly quality to his unexpected victories: His improvised, go-for-broke style of play confounds the NFL's ordered playbook and delights fans accustomed to more predictable outcomes.
But the fascination with Mr. Tebow is as much about his life story and the way it ties into his country's dreams and desires: the demanding, disciplined upbringing, the evangelical fervour that is rooted in the American sense of constant self-improvement and personal connection with an all-powerful being, the hard times he experienced as a professional who didn't fit the NFL mould, and the up-and-down-and-up season that screens like a succession of Rocky movies produced on a weekly basis.
I. The phenom
The excitement Mr. Tebow generates is palpable, and pulls in those many who have little time for football's over-programmed automatons. His jersey sales, the conventional measure of sports love, are now second only to last year's Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, and could soon surpass them. Forty-two million of his compatriots watched last Sunday's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in which he threw the game-winning pass on his first play in overtime against a defence that expected him to run, a miraculous moment even for the atheists watching. Republican presidential candidates have sought his blessing, Mr. Tebow says, and both Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann reshaped their political narrative in come-from-behind Tebowesque terms that portray them as defiant fighters overcoming the establishment's naysayers.
His characteristic on-field act of piety has even inspired a rampant social-media meme – fans share pictures of themselves Tebowing, falling to one knee in a fist-on-chin pose that for him at least is a moment of prayer, a solitary communion with his Lord witnessed by 75,000 crazy fans.
"It's once in a generation that we see an athlete like this," says Shawn McBride of the Ketchum Sports & Entertainment marketing group. "Sports fans love winners, but we also love underdogs. Tebow personifies both."
II. The mythology
The unstoppable underdog, the team that doesn't have a chance, the outsider that the tastemakers and trendsetters have no time for – these are dominant cultural tropes in an American mythology that Mr. Tebow has tapped into. In a country of self-made men and other countries' castoffs that had to fight for its independence and identity, such figures become living proof that success depends on simple effort and essential goodness rather than unfair judgments and undeserved privilege.
"He wins games with what appears to be hard work and a strong will rather than natural skills for his position," says Jay Coakley, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Colorado.
That indomitable spirit is deeply rooted in Mr. Tebow's evangelical beliefs. "Evangelicals thrive off being embattled culturally," says Chad Seales, a professor of religious studies at the University of Texas. "Even when they have a disproportionate amount of political power, they still see themselves as underdogs. Tim Tebow won two national championships in college, he's a starting quarterback for a playoff team in just his second year in the NFL, but evangelicals still see him as not accepted by the media. For them, it's a David and Goliath story, even if Tebow's physically more like Goliath. But in spiritual terms, it's Tebow against the world, and evangelicals love that story."
III. The life
Mr. Tebow's very birth has been portrayed as a rebellion against secular wisdom. It is part of his family's anti-abortion campaign, which culminated in a Super Bowl TV ad that aired while he was still in college. His parents were doing missionary work in the Philippines in the 1980s, and the drugs his mother took to fight amoebic dysentery caused life-threatening complications during her subsequent pregnancy. She says doctors recommended an abortion but she refused – making the overachieving quarterback not just a conventional sports legend but the living moral of an anti-abortion story.
Mr. Tebow's upbringing was extremely sheltered and protective in one sense. He was home-schooled even as a record-breaking Florida high-school player, sharing a city apartment with his mother far from the family farm so that he could suit up for a team that pledged to focus its offence around the quarterback who refused to share his teammates' classes.
But in another way, his evangelical background established his preternatural confidence and leadership traits. As a student, he travelled back to his father's mission outposts in the Philippines and gave inspirational speeches to backcountry crowds numbering in the thousands. While studying at Florida, where he took courses in applied social work and became renowned for etching Bible verses on his football eye-black, he made regular visits to state prisons in order to win souls for his Lord and Saviour.
"A lot of you have started the first, second and third quarters really bad," Mr. Tebow told his hardened congregants, as witnessed by Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy. "You might be losing. But you know what? It doesn't matter. Because it's all about how you finish."
IV. The American moment
The message hasn't changed all that much. Evangelistic promises of a better world and football demonstrations of the unpredictable and extraordinary are not that far apart, for those who feel imprisoned by a harsh world's dreary inevitabilities. It's probably just as well that Mr. Tebow lays off the hellfire and damnation strain of old-style American evangelism – his style is more encouraging and optimistic, the prayer warrior as team player.
"When people in the United States face austerity," Prof. Coakley says, they often find religious beliefs to be a source of solace and hope. But the faith that sustains those beliefs can be difficult to keep in the absence of reaffirming evidence. Tebow provides a form of reaffirmation tied closely with traditional U.S. values. And so he has come to personify the so-called American dream at a time when evidence and experience suggest that the dream is out of reach for many Americans."
The real-life Rockys and inspirational Miracle on Ice hockey victories are few and far between, the triumphs of a Muhammad Ali or a Martin Luther King may have happened in spite of, rather than because of, core American values, and the faltering economy has checked the aspirations of the underprivileged much more than their overlords. But faith in the underdog narrative endures: To stop believing in the story is like giving up on America, like giving up on yourself.
V. The Season
Tim Tebow is a believer on a team that had essentially given up on itself within the first month of the NFL season. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound oversized underdog got his chance to play only because the Broncos were clearly going nowhere, having lost three of their first four games. The college star wasn't seen as pro material, and many observers felt that he was being given an opportunity to fail so that Broncos management could shift him to a position better suited to his bulk.
And then the myth began to build. He won seven of his first eight games after taking on the starting quarterback role. The fact that six of those wins were nerve-racking games decided by a touchdown or less, three of them in overtime, only added to his aura: A better quarterback might have won more decisively against mediocre opponents that were active contributors to their own destruction. But Mr. Tebow won more memorably and dramatically, with late-game heroics, elusive backfield sidesteps, and bruising, self-sacrificing runs that gave muscular Christianity its showcase and overshadowed three quarters of often-forgettable play.
Even then his job security was minimal. His own boss, Broncos vice-president and legendary quarterback John Elway, voiced doubts about Mr. Tebow's abilities in a November interview.
And yet his surprising, unexpected, seemingly miraculous victories were more persuasive than the methodical blowouts of other quarterbacks in powering fans' emotions and generating the image of the hero.
"When people see the unpredictable things that are happening on the football field, they experience a feeling of transcendence," argues Geoff Smith, a sports historian and professor emeritus at Queen's University. "It's a quasi-religious moment that's available even to non-believers: The need to connect with something that's supernatural is deeply rooted in our psyche."
One victory in particular defied sport's natural laws and justified the growing fascination with Mr. Tebow's miracle-working.
The Broncos were behind the Chicago Bears 10-0 with less than three minutes to play, the point where the average NFL viewer knows he can turn off the game and get back to the real world. But Denver came back under Mr. Tebow's dogged leadership to tie the game on a touchdown and an improbable 59-yard field goal before winning with another long field goal in overtime.
An on-field microphone caught Mr. Tebow singing a hymn at the game-changing moment when the Broncos recovered a Bears fumble to begin their final winning drive – and that faith-inspired coolness under pressure has only added to his mystique while frustrating analysts who insist that he's not good enough to be football's Chosen One.
VI. Yes, he can
"There are so many people out there who say he can't do this, he can't do that," observes Scot Loeffler, one of Mr. Tebow's former coaches at the University of Florida. "He just worries about what he can control and what he can improve and he puts the so-called haters aside."
The doubters are right to doubt. Over the season, Mr. Tebow was ranked as only the 27th best NFL quarterback (there are 32 teams in the league) and completed an appalling 46.5 per cent of his passes – last in the league.
But to his acolytes, the traditional yardsticks don't apply. “There's something special going on here,” Denver receiver Eddie Royal said after yet another Tebow-inspired fourth-quarter comeback. "We really believe in each other. We're playing together as a team and a family."
Even the mercenary business of professional sports turns out to be deeply human after all: Style points can't trump the ability to inspire, the mystical intangibles of leadership that high-paid athletes believe in even when deskbound analysts tell them they're being misled.
"Tim's No. 1 strength is his ability to will his way to a win," says former University of Florida assistant coach Dan Mullen. Never mind that he also lost his last three regular-season starts, and the Broncos only backed into the playoffs thanks to the lame performance of their division rivals. Failure is a built-in component of the underdog's appeal: He's human, he's more like us, now he'll show the doubters and the haters what he's really made of.
VII. The expectations
The public expression of religious convictions is divisive almost by definition, and Mr. Tebow has been depicted as a polarizing cultural figure even as he has been derided for his awkward throwing motion. He is certainly not shy about saying that he views football as a platform to spread his faith, according to those close to him.
"Early on, he comes across as strong and opinionated, especially about religion," says Dan Mullen, his former coach. "But when you see his work ethic and desire to be great in a team setting, that trumps everything."
He wouldn't be who he is, or where he is, without his faith. And yet the tenets of the evangelical belief system don't define or limit his appeal – hence all that wacky Tebowing.
This is where the mysteries of sports come back into play. Dave Zirin writes about the politics of sports for The Nation magazine and has made it clear that he is strongly opposed to Mr. Tebow's evangelical proselytizing. Like most football pundits, he also predicted that the quarterback's run of good fortune would come to an end last weekend.
He was proved wrong, as so many experts have been. "One of the reasons we love sports," Mr. Zirin now says, "is that no one knows anything. As much as we try to understand the world of sports, it operates by it own spontaneous rules. Luck plays a huge part in it and so does confidence, Tim Tebow's great gift. It's what allows him to persevere after he throws some of the ugliest balls that the NFL has seen in a generation."
The doubters still doubt, but the believer will always believe. Bring on the Patriots and let the American dreamers live out their dreams.
John Allemang is a senior feature writer for the Globe and Mail. Globe and Mail Sports reporter Rachel Brady contributed to this report.A book, a course, and the future of the American republic
What would prompt a historian five years comfortably retired to return to the lecture hall this fall to teach for one last go-around? Geof Smith knows because he's doing it.
Retirement from active duty as a university professor brings the opportunity to try new things, avocations that enticed, but never become central during one's working life because of the need to keep up with one's publishing and teaching. Toward the end of my career, I wondered what I would do when I left the academic trenches.
That uncertainty -- for some a painful withdrawal after three or four decades of routine -- did not become a problem. I continued my photography and writing, became an artist, learned to knit, and now also torture a guitar in my spare time, itself an oxymoron, when every night is Friday night and every day is Saturday.
Despite these activities, my nearly four decades at Queen's remain etched in my mind. I still write recommendations for students, attend athletic events, and remember the good things about my long tenure. Most important was my teaching. I was fortunate in the History Department (and later the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies), to develop many courses including, among others, American diplomatic history, the sociology of sport, and a survey of "Drug Wars and Drug Cultures" from the Opium Wars to the current, murderously counterproductive, war on drugs.
Yet the single course that makes me smile most was a social/cultural/political excursion into the arcane world of "Conspiracy and Dissent in American History" (History 273, later 275), a lecture course that took as its fulcrum the many ways in which eras of conflict and crisis generated widespread fears of conspiratorial activity, especially among elite groups. My own interest in political extremism had been sparked as a Berkeley MA student, when I did a research paper in 1965 for Prof. Gerald Wheeler, which sought to detect the influence of homegrown right-wing rebels ("kooks", I thought then) as the notorious Michigan radio priest, Father Charles Coughlin, Silver-Shirt leader William Dudley Pelley, and German-American Bund Fuhrer Fritz Kuhn upon President Franklin D. Roosevelt's foreign policy before Pearl Harbor.
That paper ultimately became the basis of my doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara, completed under Alexander DeConde, and titled "A Social and Diplomatic History of American Extremism, 1933-1941." The thesis ran to a length of more than 750 pages and scared off the first five publishers who saw it. Only when cut in half did the manuscript, find a home, with Basic Books in New York, appearing in 1973, a year after the launching of “Conspiracy and Dissent”.
I found quickly that writing a book on a decade was nothing compared to developing a full course that begun with the witch trials at Salem in the 1690s and carried into the tremendous turmoil of the Vietnam era. Soon I became an interpreter of every “anti-” movement in U.S. history. The students loved it -- Masons, Catholics, Mormons, socialists, anarchists, communists, beats, radical artists, and singers – anything, in short that suggested un-Americanism, paraded across the lecture-hall stage. One student ripped off the label of a bottle of Molson beer and gave it to me adorned as "anti-all ale", with the ingredients and alcohol content suitably altered.
By 1973-4, President Richard Nixon and Watergate "legitimized" my course, and I began a journey from my original argument that the American government elites were the straight men, and the "lunatic fringe" legitimate targets. But with my book, To Save a Nation out, selling well, even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in history, I began to doubt some key assumptions. The beliefs that Americans differed not on ends, but on the means to achieve them, enjoyed equal opportunity to succeed, and boasted a remarkably conflict-free and homogeneous history gave way to a growing appreciation of class, ethnic, gender, and racial divergences.
And, of course, I began to see the reality that government could be just as much a dealer in what the historian Richard Hofstadter deemed the "paranoid style" in American history as any so-called "lunatic fringe" operation. In 1982 I wrote an article examining anti-Semitism in the Roosevelt State Department, as well as the proto-fascist right that FDR had used to such political advantage before World War II. I also explored unwarranted racial fears that led Washington early in 1942 to imprison 110,000 West Coast Japanese despite no evidence of transgressions against national security.
A decade later, I published a revised edition of To Save a Nation, and, in a new epilogue, sought to explain the ways in which accusations of conspiracy that proved such powerful political weapons for liberals in the 1950s and 1960s had come home to roost. Neo-conservatives and Reagan Republicans succeeded during the 1970s and 1980s in transforming the words "Democrat" and "liberal" into un-American allusions. "Paranoia," however defined, now rested at the core of U.S. politics.
Five years retired, I now wonder if I might again teach my conspiracy course or write another edition of To Save a Nation. For the Republican Party is now clearly a haven for groups who a half-century ago would themselves be declared un-American menaces -- evangelical Christians who rail against all manner of sin in society, patriots who would allow university professors and students on campus to arm themselves, and radical libertarians who loathe government at all levels. Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, among others, do not occupy the fringe of American political culture. They are now central to its understanding.
Despite the death in May of Osama bin Laden, who was America's greatest enemy since Adolf Hitler and Joe Stalin, many Americans wonder if, in fact, he still lives. Similarly, many citizens contend that President Barack Obama is not really an American citizen, as required under the U.S. Constitution. The chief executive long ignored this question, but finally brought out a long-form proof of citizenship, an act that demonstrated the power of extreme conservative Republicans.
How might one explain this centrality of conspiracy theory within the Republican Party?
Ah, there's the call -- to the lectern again, and the computer!Defining health issue of generation marks anniversary
John MacTavish remembered the funerals getting smaller and smaller.
"You would see groups of people being wiped out," he said. "You get to a point where you stop counting."
MacTavish stopped counting at 300.
Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the first published report of what would become the defining public health issue of a generation.
The report by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention described a new disease affecting predominantly gay men in New York and California.
Since then, 25 million people have died from HIV-related illnesses.
The World Health Organization estimates more than 33 million people are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and about two million people die each year.
HIV is the fourth-leading cause of death globally, except in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the No. 1 cause of death.
Close to 70,000 Canadians have tested positive for HIV since reporting began in 1985, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada's Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control.
More than 13,000 people in Canada have died from HIV-related illnesses.
It is estimated that there are between 2,300 and 4,300 new HIV cases each year, although many go undetected for some time.
MacTavish was a health-care worker in the late 1980s when he first encountered two HIV-positive men.
As was often the case then, the men had been infected in larger centres, such as Toronto or Montreal, and had returned home to die.
"How they were treated was horrendous," he said.
At that time, all anyone could do was make the patients as comfortable as possible.In the early 1980s, HIV infection was virtually a death sentence. Life expectancy was about six months.
"People have used the term revolutionary for what has happened in the past 30 years," Wendy Wobeser, senior physician at the Clinical Immunology Outpatient Clinic at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston.
"Our medical system had never seen anything like this before."
The fight against HIV has been bolstered by a combination of activism, altruism and science, Wobeser said.
Those elements have transformed the virus from a death sentence to something that can be treated.
"It's a medical regimen that demands a very high level of adherence," Wobeser said.
MacTavish is an example of that success.
He has been on the front lines of the fight against the virus for 22 years with HIV/AIDS Regional Services (HARS), an organization that supports about 240 HIV positive clients in eastern Ontario.
The fight got personal 17 years ago when MacTavish tested positive for the virus.
He is living proof of the evolution of HIV treatment, which went from preparing patients for a quick, lonely death, to helping them cope with treatment, deal with addictions and other social problems and adapt to living in society as a person with HIV.
MacTavish is himself an example of how people with HIV can live relatively normal lives.
If anything positive can come from the HIV epidemic, Mac- Tavish said, it is that the virus forced society to discuss previously ignored issues, such as homophobia, drug addiction, mental health and homelessness.
"We've changed a great deal in how we perceive the disease," said Geoffrey Smith, professor emeritus of physical and health education and of history.
Western societies tend to blame new diseases on identifiable racial or cultural groups, Smith said, and HIV was no different, with gay men serving as the scapegoat.
More extreme religious groups seized on the epidemic as God's punishment on gays.
Most mainstream discussion of HIV is now usually not framed by questions of lifestyle, but by a public health context, Smith said.
"It took time for us to realize that this was something bigger than one group," Smith said.
Smith taught a course at Queen's called The Price of Sex, in which he challenged students to think about how societies view sexually transmitted infections.
He once asked students if they ever thought about HIV or AIDS.
"Only the morning after," he remembered one female student responding.
"We feared it," Smith said of how HIV was thought of in the early 1980s. "We don't fear it as much now, and that is a problem.
"HIV is something we've come to live with -- it's part of our lives. It's not exotic anymore."
Keeping young people informed of the risk is one of the primary goals of HARS.
Media reports of medical successes in treatment and research have reduced the stigma of being HIV positive, but they can also give people a false sense of security, MacTavish said.
Drug therapy is a daily regimen and comes with side effects and may not be continually effective.
"They see guys walking around taking pills," he said. "They've never seen AIDS at its worst."Trial never an option
Jim Pratt has been working on Wall Street for the past 20 or so years. He lost eight friends during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
The Kingston native's current lodgings in the Tribeca district overlook Ground Zero, where the twin towers stood before that day.
Within half an hour of U.S. President Barack Obama appearing on television to announce the death of Osama bin Laden Sunday night, the streets below him flooded with people chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A." Bagpipes were played, car horns were honked.
"It was kind of like, 'Ding dong, the witch is dead' (from The Wizard of Oz)," Pratt said.
The crowds remained on the streets until dawn, he said, and celebrated as if their sports team had won a championship. Firefighters and police officers joined in.
"It's euphoria here," Pratt said.
While the city's denizens were elated Monday that bin Laden had been killed, Pratt said there was also a feeling of concern that retaliation from terrorist groups may follow.
"People were probably happier that he was killed and didn't have to go through the legal process for a number of years," Pratt said.
Christian Leuprecht, an associate professor of political studies at Queen's University and Royal Military College, believes that the U.S. had no intention of bringing bin Laden before the courts.
"Abducting him, arresting him, whatever you want to call it, would pose a whole number of complications," he said.
Among those complications, Leuprecht said, was how bin Laden would have been tried -- would it have been under Islamic, Afgani, Pakistani, Saudi, American or international law?
While the International Criminal Court would have been the obvious choice, Leuprecht said, the U.S. is not a member.
Also, the ICC doesn't impose the death penalty, "and of course the Americans would want to seek the death penalty," he said.
By killing rather than trying bin Laden, the U.S. made a statement, Leuprecht said.
"The Americans have a long history that, 'If you kill Americans, we will find you, we will hunt you down, we will kill you, or at minimum we will bring you to justice,' " he said.
It's an ethos that the U.S. has used to great effect in its efforts in Afghanistan, he said.
If bin Laden had been jailed, it would have given him the opportunity to proliferate his views and beliefs, Leuprecht said.
Ultimately, though, he believes that it was a deliberate execution by the way Obama presented it on television within an hour of bin Laden's death.
"Operations that involve the deliberate killing of civilians or people who are unarmed in raids that are not normal military action -- which this was not, in particular that it was carried out in sovereign Pakistani territory -- would have required a presidential signature," Leuprecht said.
The U.S. government went through the pros and cons of capturing or killing him, Leuprecht believes, and "they decided making a martyr of him was going to be less harmful."
It was a "coup" for Obama that bin Laden was killed, he said.
"The timing is terrific," Leuprecht said. "It's leading up to the 2012 elections, Obama can show that he was able to do in a couple of years what (George W.) Bush wasn't able to do in six and a half years after (Sept. 11)."
It will likely pave the way for the confirmations through the Republican-dominated senate of Gen. David Petraeus, who has been heading the U.S.'s operations in Afghanistan, as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and former director Leon Panetta, who will shift to head the Department of Defense.
Spring is the prime season for fighting in Afghanistan, he said, and the death of bin Laden will prove demoralizing.
Similarly, while many believe that bin Laden's death will escalate the threat of terrorism, Leuprecht believes otherwise.
"I think this is the beginning of a downward slope on Islamic violent extremism," he said. "I think both people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and from what we see in the Middle Eastern spring there, people sort of renounce the nihilistic rage that bin Laden represents.
"They realize that al-Qaida has nothing to offer them to build a better society," Leuprecht said. "The only thing they have to offer is violence."
When he heard of bin Laden's death Monday morning, Queen's University professor emeritus Geoff Smith -- who taught a course on conspiracy and dissent in American history during his tenure -- had two thoughts: that it had taken the U.S. a long time to get him, and that there were people out there who wouldn't believe bin Laden was dead.
"If the United States wanted to catch him earlier, they could have," he said. "I have no doubt about that."
Many conspiracy theories have been swelling around Obama as of late and the death of bin Laden may quell some of those, Smith said.
"Guess what, folks? Obama has just proved himself as American as John Wayne," he said.Historia Newsletter
The latest news from the USCB history associates.
Hope all is well -- I don't turn to the NYTimes in the morning or BBC news, I just turn on facebook and check out what you have pointed out as newsworthy. So yes, I may know more about the San Francisco Giants these days than I do about what's happening in the middle east, but I'm quite content with that. And I'd love to be in the water by the AT&T stadium with those water polo players! Maybe if there is a game 6 I should make it out for that!
Spent the last 10 days in Japan at the UN Convention on Biological diversity. Didn't make headlines the way that the Copenhagen meeting last year did (and this was the equivalent Conference of the Parties for another Rio Convention, Biodiversity, not climate change) -- lots of press there but not a lot of Canadian press unfortuatnely, although there is a story in the NYTimes today that captures the essence of what went on.
In any event, thought you might be interested in something I wrote a little while ago that was recently published by Alternatives magazine (canadian environmental magazine). Their "biodiversity" edition just came out to coincide with this important meeting in Japan, and they included my article. I've attached it as online (http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/) you can only see the first couple paragraphs. Realizing that in the academic world I find myself in these days that preaching to the converted really doesn't accomplish a lot, and getting the message out to the public (and to voters!) is what is needed to truly make a difference!
Hope you enjoy!
WHISTLER, B.C. - The 2010 Winter Olympics were heralded as an opportunity for Canadian athletes to excel on the global stage and as a vehicle to showcase Canada to the world.
In some measure, the Games in Vancouver and Whistler have done just that. But these Olympics have also given Canadians the opportunity to learn something about themselves.
It's been a 17-day-long, petri-dish experiment involving a potent mix of delirious flag-waving nationalism, uncharacteristic braggadocio and uncompromising demand for excellence - all leavened by mortality, teary apologies, recriminations and stoicism in the face of loss, both competitive and personal.
The outcome is a most un-Canadian debate on the place of chauvinist national pride and competitiveness as this country swaggers into the 21st century.
One of the co-authors of the original Own The Podium report - the five-year, $117-million blueprint designed to help Canadians dominate the 2010 medal standings - argues the effort "has changed the psyche of both our athletes and Canadians in general."
"Initially there was a little bit of criticism: was it un-Canadian; was it arrogant," said Cathy Priestner Allinger, the executive vice-president of sport and Games operations for the Vancouver Olympics organizing committee.
"I think for the first time ever Canada truly gets how winning and being our best and being competitive can inspire us and make us that much prouder to be Canadian - not just within sport, but I think knowing that we can strive to be great and it's OK to want to be," said Priestner Allinger, who won silver as a speedskater at the 1976 Olympics, one of only three medals won by Canada at those Games.
The 2010 Games were a grand experiment in Canadian boastfulness. Along with that huge infusion of public cash came an overt, out-spoken demand for and expectation of victory.
Some are saying, horror of horrors, that we've tapped into an American ethos: "Win or go home."
"Canada bought into that," said Geoffrey Smith, a retired sports historian from Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., and transplanted Californian.
"That's a very American idea: that it is not worthwhile to compete unless you win."
It may prove to be a profound shift in the national mindset. Canada, the traditional "middle power" which liked to say it punched above its weight - a metaphor implicit with the understanding it was not a heavyweight - "wants to play with the big dogs," said Smith, rather disapprovingly.
What will be kept and what will be discarded after these Olympics is already the subject of a raging national debate. The hand-wringing and introspection over failed predictions of literally owning the podium began well before this weekend's Games finale.
Chris Rudge, the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, conceded last Monday, on Day 11 of 17, that "we'd be living in a fool's paradise if we said we were going to catch the Americans and win," the overall medal count.
The concession set off a torrent of outrage from Canadian sports fans - virtually none of it directed against Canada's athletes.
Own The Podium, the plan to provide Canada's elite athletes the best training and sport science support possible, has become the lightning rod grounding the debate.
Rudge himself said the name of the program was probably ill-chosen, a now widely acknowledged view. The program name served as trash talk to motivate visiting athletes, over-hype public expectations and pressure Canadian competitors.
Bruce Kidd, the former Canadian Olympian, scholar, dean of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Physical Education and Health and Canadian Olympic Committee member, says the program's worthy objectives and its imperfect slogan should not be confused.
"Unfortunately the phrase Own The Podium has given us a braggart's reputation," Kidd said in an interview. "I would be the first to say it has caused us some embarrassment and chagrin."
"The choice of the slogan has confused the discussion and reflection in problematic ways. What's always been there is a strong determination to do well."
But he insisted "the Own The Podium debate has been healthy. It has changed the way we're (pursuing excellence) - the reasons and the context."
Kidd doesn't buy the persona of Canadian athletes as perennial underachievers too polite to elbow their way to the top, any more than he believes today's Canadian competitors are win-at-all-cost cut-throats.
He recalls training in Toronto in the early 1960s when his coaches implored him not "to worry about the other side of town, worry about the world list."
Kidd, however, adds that, "the lived experience of the Olympics in almost all sports has been to strive to be the best but to compete in a co-operative way that respects our opponents."
Co-operative competition may be one of those oxymorons that only Canadians truly get.
Politeness is considered a national virtue.
Shane Koyczan's poem delivered at the Games' opening ceremonies appeared to strike a coast-to-coast chord when he spoke of Canadian civility:
And some say what defines us
Is something as simple as 'please' and 'thank you'
And as for 'you're welcome,' well, we say that, too
But we are more than genteel or civilized
We are an idea in the process of being realized.
That work-in-process appears to have confused foreign observers, who have been offering opinions on Canada's newfound assertiveness that range from the condescending to the incendiary.
Under the headline "Might It Possibly Be OK If We Kick Some Ass?" Slate magazine ran a somewhat flattering piece whose thesis was summed up thusly: "The great big story from the Great White North is that Canada is really, truly, finally done with being Mr. Nice Guy/Gal/Person of Niceness."
The Boston Globe opined that Canada's "sense of earned entitlement is a huge mind-shift for a country that traditionally has had an after-you approach to international sports."
The dark flip side of that view was expressed by a London Daily Mail columnist, who flatly accused Canada of causing the death of young Georgian slider Nodar Kumaritashvili by jealously denying enough practice runs to the competition.
"Canada's lust for glory is to blame for this senseless tragedy," read the headline.
Historian Michael Bliss says the whole theme is being greatly overblown.
"Canadians have always been chauvinistic and aggressive," the retired University of Toronto professor said in an interview from his home.
"Just look at our hockey record and the '72 Soviet tournament . . . . The reputation of Canadians as nice guys is something the Americans invented and we go along with. We're not nice when it comes to trade negotiations. Nobody has ever thought our troops were nice guys - except the few people who said we don't fight, we peace keep."
It's just that bloody Canadian politeness and deference keeps clouding public perception.
"I feel like I have let my entire country down," a teary Melissa Hollingsworth said after coming up short in her bid for a medal in the women's skeleton at the treacherous Whistler Sliding Centre.
Nonsense, responds sports psychologist Saul Miller.
"If an athlete's saying 'I've got to do it for my country' - wait a minute," said Miller.
"You know our hockey guys want to be the best. They're aware of the Canadian sentiment and all that, but they're going out to play hockey. They don't need to carry, 'Oh my god, I can't let Canada down."'
Pre-and mid-Games poll results would indicate the Canadian public agrees.
Surveys by Harris-Decima and other pollsters found the dominant opinion is that the Olympics unified the country. And a pre-Olympic poll by Harris-Decima suggested the overall medal count would not be the public measure of success.
If that public perception changes in the Games' aftermath, Miller blames all the "chatter and nonsense about Own The Podium."
"If you say you own the podium, you better walk your talk."
And isn't this the nub of this very Canadian debate?
When speedskater Denny Morrison complained about his training program after finishing 13th in the men's 1,000 metre race, Speed Skating Canada immediately put the onus back on the athlete by saying Morrison needed "to take accountability" for his performance and actions.
It's a lesson Canada's sport administrators should also take to heart.
Put up or shut up - as appealing as it sounds - is not really the Canadian way. Put up AND shut up is. Or perhaps just shut up and do your damnedest.CFRC, 10-11 PM
The Incredible Kaleidophone with Kaleidoscope Jones......
Geoff Smith, the inspired, admired, and presently retired prof. of history @ Queen’s joins me in the studio for talk and music around drugs, drug culture, and the politics of addiction. A wild & crazy time is had by all!
The St. James' young people and the Canta Arya School for Strings are working together to put on a concert for earthquake relief in Haiti. A Song for Haiti. This concert is "By kids and for kids". Karen Kimmett of Canta Arya is currently researching specific ways that the money we raise can go directly to children in Haiti. Concert is Friday, Jan 29th at 5pm. It will be about an hour long. Refreshments and bake sale as well. St. James Anglican Church, Kingston.Bartlett Gym and the last hurrah
It has been the scene of intense heartache and unrestrained joy, witnessed stunning upsets, nights of downright domination -- and at least one bench-clearing brawl.
More than anything, though, to two generations of area athletes, Bartlett Gym has been home to high school championship games in basketball and volleyball. Last year marked the 37th and final time Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association bragging rights were decided in the big gym.
Tonight marks last call for the facility. When the Queen's Golden Gaels complete a basketball doubleheader against the Ryerson Rams around 10 o'clock, it will officially mark the end of the Bartlett era. The new Queen's Centre's main gym becomes the city's prime playing floor next week.
"It was a very intimidating place to play," recalled Cyril "Bunny" Nagle, a Queen Elizabeth Raider who suited up for the 1972 senior basketball final, the first high school title game at Queen's.
"The gym was large, the crowd was large and the court had Plexiglas backboards," Nagle remembered, adding on the latter: "At the time, QE still had those old metal jobbies and Regi still had the old wooden ones."
The Loyalist Lancers licked the Raiders in that high school Bartlett baptism. Previously, league finalists played a home-and-home, best-of-three series.
The very next year, the Raiders returned to Bartlett and made history. By knocking off the favoured Kingston Blues in overtime, the school completed an unprecedented sweep of crowns in boys basketball (midget, junior and senior) and football (junior and senior) -- and gave Bartlett its first upset.
"Lost in overtime by one point, but what a great game and what a great place to play it," recalled KC grad John Sutton, who participated in that overtime loss and two other finals.
"We played 55 games that season, lost maybe six," he added. "We went to all kinds of out-of-town tournaments and we were being picked as a team that could make some noise at the Ontario tournament, which was unheard of for a local team.
"But we didn't get past QE."
An estimated 2,000 fans jammed the building for that final, packing the lower and upper bleachers.
"Bartlett meant an opportunity to play on a big court in front of a big crowd," said retired teacher and longtime coach and referee Alec Murray, who guided that 1973-74 Raiders club.
"The place would be absolutely packed for championship games, a couple of thousand people compared to the 300 we could maybe squeeze into the QE balcony, less if we went by the fire marshal.
"Bartlett was a great equalizer," he said. "Kids would get unnerved by the size of the gym and the size of the crowd."
The spacious gym was the focal point of the state-of-the-art Physical Education Centre, which opened in 1971.
The complex contained two smaller gymnasia, Ross and Bews, as well as a projectile range, weight rooms, a swimming pool, dance studios, a diving pool, squash and racquetball courts, rooftop tennis courts and an indoor track that circled high above the new Jock Harty ice pad below.
A century earlier, a few years after Confederation, the school had its first gymnasium: a small room at Summerhill where young men exercised and pumped weights.
In 1880, another makeshift gym was designated in the rear of the old Medical Building and for years hosted indoor athletics of the day, including gymnastics and wrestling. The gym was located directly below the medical faculty's dissecting room.
A temporary wooden structure went up in 1896, and 10 years later a new gym was built in a two-storey building now known as Jackson Hall. It featured a swimming pool in the basement.
It served the university jock set for the next quarter-century and is today -- the pool and parquet long gone -- part of the mechanical engineering department.
The original Gymnasium Building was constructed in 1931 and its lone gym -- Bews -- was home to Queen's intercollegiate teams until the 1970 overhaul.
"Bartlett started with a rubberized floor," recalled Doug Fraser, who refereed and coached at Bartlett from Day 1 and played for Queen's on its predecessor.
"They soon found out it was hard on the body and hard to clean."
A new floor was installed. Bartlett had its first modification.
Fraser and Bob Freeman watched their Bayridge Blazers celebrate five straight basketball titles at Bartlett, still the high-water mark in senior boys play.
No. 5 was the sweetest and the least expected, said Fraser.
"We had no business beating an Ernestown team that had Mike Smart and Ben and Nate Doornekamp," he recalled, "but we did."
Barry Smith, longtime coach of the St. Lawrence Vikings men's basketball team, coached the Golden Gaels for a decade (1983-93) and came within a whisker of winning a provincial title.
The peace was not always kept at Bartlett. One infamous game featured Queen's and arch-rival Carleton. Smith summarized that testy tilt in one sentence.
"A complete bench-clearing brawl, a real old-fashioned dustup and we won the game, which made it even more enjoyable."
Retired professor and basketball diehard Geoff Smith got his money's worth out of Bartlett, as player, coach or leather-lunged supporter of Queen's roundball units.
In 1971, he played on a Morton's Recordmen team that hosted the Ontario Basketball Association intermediate A championship tournament, Bartlett's first major gig.
A capacity crowd turned out to watch Neil Neasmith, Charlie Pester, Fraser, Smith and the other Recordmen rout a Hamilton Westinghouse club by 20 points in the title game.
International volleyball also attracted full houses to Bartlett. Four-digit crowds turned out to watch the Canadian men's team defeat Spain, Argentina and Australia in 1996, 2002 and 2009, respectively.The atmosphere at the most recent contest drew raves from its participants.
"It was unbelievable, just amazing," former Queen's star Adam Simac of the Canadian team said.
Bartlett Gym was named after Fred Lambie Bartlett, a Madoc man who served as physical education director at Toronto-area schools and with the Education branch of the Ontario ministry. In 1947 he was named the first director of the School of Physical and Health Education at Queen's, a post he maintained for 18 years.He also served as a trustee on the Kingston Board of Education and called a mean square dance.
"He used to call square-dancing parties at Grant Hall," said Bartlett's daughter, Bobbie (Phys-Ed 52), on the phone from southern Ontario. Nearly four decades after a bronze plaque bearing her father's name was unveiled at the opening, the daughter finally pointed out a bronzed typo.
"On the plaque it reads Frederick L. Bartlett,, but his name was Fred," she said. "That was the name on his birth certificate and he took great pride in it. In fact, he would've rolled over had he seen Frederick on that plaque."
On Friday, the new gym at the Queen's Centre celebrates its official grand opening, followed by women's and men's volleyball matches two days later.
The new gym's name?
"It doesn't have one, just 'main gym' for now," said Leslie Dal Cin, the school's athletic director.
Bartlett is now the name of the principal boardroom in the new complex, decidedly smaller and outfitted with chairs and a table instead of nets, pennants and pine benches.
Bartlett Gym was packed to watch former Kingston-area high school stars Aaron Doornekamp (Ernestown), left, and Stu Turnbull (Frontenac) of the top-ranked Carleton Ravens visit the Queen's Golden Gaels in a university game last January. Carleton won the game 100-75.
Ryerson Rams at Queen's Golden Gaels
What: The final event at Bartlett Gym -- a women's/men's university basketball doubleheader.
When: The women's game tips off tonight at 6, the men's game follows at 8.
Tickets: Admission is free for any fan donating a canned food item.
Special activities: Queen's will be giving away Physical Education Centre T-shirts throughout both games. Coaches from the Queen's women's and men's teams will be making speeches after each game.
Final act: The teams will cut down the nets from each basket after the men's game.
Queen’s University Athletics & Recreation announced the festivities for the 2009 Queen’s football team which captured the Vanier Cup on Saturday (Nov. 28).
A parade to honour the team will commence at 12:00pm on Thursday, December 3, beginning at City Hall (216 Ontario Street). The parade will culminate with a rally in front of Richardson Hall on Queen’s University campus.
Speakers at the rally will include City of Kingston Mayor, Harvey Rosen, Queen’s University Principal Daniel Woolf, along with other special guests. QB Danny Brannagan and DL Osie Ukwuoma will speak on behalf of the team while Head Coach Pat Sheahan will also address the crowd.
Fans along the parade route will enjoy live music in addition to the first public opportunity to view the Vanier Cup in person. The Queen’s Bands will join the parade route at City Park ushering the Gaels onto campus.
UPDATED PARADE ROUTE: From City Hall the parade will travel west on Brock Street turning left on University Avenue. The route will continue south on University traveling through campus. The parade will conclude at Richardson Hall on University Avenue. More info at http://gogaelsgo.com.
The ancient Greeks, it's worth remembering at moments like this, competed naked.
Once upon a time, it was possible to talk about the purity of sport with a straight face and an unburdened mind. In those far-off days before swimsuit companies ruled the record books and technology took credit for every astonishing athletic performance, words like faster, higher and stronger could seem wholly admirable – the idealists of the Olympic Games even managed to combine them into a motto meant to transcend conflict and unite humanity in global play.
And now? Look to Rome, where swimming's records are being broken hourly and the sports world is in an uproar. The shocking debuts of the Arena X-Glide and Jaked body-suits have completely upended our understanding of what it means to be the best – is Michael Phelps now a lesser being because he stayed loyal to the marginally slower Speedo LZR Racer that won him eight medals in Beijing, or is he a fool for not upgrading his wardrobe to the gold-medal standard?
Sports idealism in the age of polyurethane swimwear seems so yesterday, as outmoded as Johnny Weissmuller's waterlogged cotton trunks. Instead, we're getting a stream of high-tech trash talk like this haute-couture dig from Milorad Cavic, Phelps's archrival in the butterfly.
“If Michael wants an Arena, he just has to say it,” Cavic commented yesterday. “If he wants a Jaked and they don't want to give it to him free, I'll buy it for him. He has options.”
But what does it really mean to have options when technology takes control of a sport? No tennis player in his right mind lugs a wooden racquet onto the court to defend against Andy Roddick's serve of 250 kilometres an hour.
Distance runners don't demand the right to compete on antiquated cinder tracks because that's the only way to make a fair comparison with Roger Bannister's first sub-four-minute mile – they know they gain six seconds or so just by running on the faster rubberized Mondo surface, and who would argue that they're taking a shortcut to glory? Tom Watson didn't trade in his oversized titanium driver for throwback persimmon woods in order to contend at the British Open – he might as well have renounced his titanium hip. So when it comes to poolside decision-making at the world aquatics championships in Rome, how do you balance innate athleticism and good old-fashioned corporate loyalty against the lure of performance-enhancing technology?
Pretty well all sports now occupy an unlevel playing field in the conflict between the technological haves and have-nots.
In most other areas of human activity, that notion of scientific innovation and superiority is a given – who wouldn’t want the best medical equipment, if they could afford it, or the most up-to-date automotive safety features?
But sport is different. While in some ways the most Darwinian of human pursuits – if you’re not the best, get lost – it comes with a built-in need to resist the forces of evolution, at least when it comes to technology’s quick-fix improvements. Why, otherwise, do we keep talking about the purity of sport, long after steroids and other designer drugs should have made us complete and utter cynics? Why was there such resistance in golf, for example, to the square-grooved wedges that created the “bomb-and-gouge” approach to the hallowed game – bomb the drive into the rough, then gouge it out and onto the green with the touch-control that the grooved edge provides.
“It’s a technology that takes the skill out of competition,” says University of Toronto philosopher and golfer Thomas Hurka. “If you’re watching a competitive game, you want to see skill rewarded. Once technological advancements remove the need for skill, then a sport becomes uninteresting.”
This is one understanding of purity in sport – that engineered excellence is boring, that individual ability should be left alone to earn its just reward. And yet as the debacle in Rome is proving yet again, the definition of purity is a highly fluid thing when athletic achievement is measured by shattered records, corporate profits, spikes in TV ratings and multimillion-dollar payoffs for athletes who can gain an edge at any cost.
“It’s horseshit,” says John Leonard, the plain-speaking executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association whose idea of sports purity doesn’t extend to observations about what’s happening at the world championships. “We want sport to be about maximizing human performance, not about enhancing it through technological advances.
“Yeah, records are good for sport, but the records you’re seeing in Rome are phony-baloney, a bizarre wrinkle in swimming history. It’s getting so routine now that a guy breaks the 800-metre mark by eight seconds and he’s getting polite golf applause.”
If the lowest time were all that mattered, and the human body was meant to be a record-seeking missile enclosed within a compressive polyurethane skin that enhances buoyancy and reduces drag, then swimming experts wouldn’t be complaining too much. But quick fixes give offence in such a historically minded, record-keeping world where progress is painstakingly incremental – because embedded deep within the competitive ethos of sport are such old-time notions as fairness, equality and the certainty that those who work the hardest will be rewarded.
It’s hard to say those words in some circles of fandom and not get mocked as a moralizer or a Luddite. After all, most sports willingly find ways to move with the times – no one uses a stiff, fragile bamboo branch in the pole vault or makes a leather-helmeted head-to-head football tackle or resists the advantage of long-distance golf balls that cut through the air with dimpled aerodynamic efficiency.
“In the last 50 years,” says historian Geoff Smith, “sport has transformed itself into spectacle. And as a result, the material culture the athlete inhabits has become equal to playing the game.”
Even Michael Phelps wasn’t so high-minded and pure that he resisted the chance to wear the Speedo LZR Racer, last year’s record-breaking suit.
“It’s all very hypocritical,” says Nick Thierry, the publisher of Swimnews magazine. “Many people were in denial last year with the Speedo suit – they were willing to pretend that the athletes weren’t helped by it all that much.”
The great thing about not acknowledging the technology when performance improves is that credit then gets deflected somewhere else – to the hard-working athletes (and their sponsors), to the brilliant coaches, to the national federations that justify their existence and attract more money every time a record is broken. It’s easy to see why some people have an interest in sports remaining pure.
But when the wrong people are breaking records in droves, the down side quickly becomes more apparent. “What’s different about swimming,” says Bruce Kidd, dean of the faculty of physical education and health at the University of Toronto, “is that the new suit has completely transformed the sport in such a short time that it gives those who use it unprecedented advantages.”
Our relationship with technology in sport is a curious one. “Do we want swim meets decided by who has the best designers?” asks Bob Simon, a philosophy professor at Hamilton College in Pennsylvania. And yet in Formula 1 auto racing, which is admittedly at the extreme end of engineered sport, the designers have often been the deciders of who gets to the podium. We accept the team element in sport, which means counting the pit crews and even the car as part of the Formula 1 package in the same way that a Tour de France rider like sprinter Mark Cavendish can legally benefit from riding in his teammate’s slipstream or a downhill skier can emerge victorious because her support staff guessed right on the optimum wax for the day’s conditions.
The greatest disadvantage in sport is genetic – our bodies’ designers brought unequal skills to the table that we can never completely overcome, however much we pay lip-service to work-ethic values. But we don’t consider that unfair, at least until steroids and the like are brought into play. Nor is technology seen to impose an unfair advantage when everyone has access to the same equipment and materials – that was the point of Milorad Cavic’s jibe at Phelps, that he could compete in the faster swimsuits if he chose to compromise his business deal with Speedo.
But access has a broader meaning in the world of sport than mere availability. If swimming’s world championships are, in effect, a product launch for a highly fragile, hard-to-fit, quickly obsolescent $500 swimsuit, can this really be a good thing for the sport at large? “If young people don’t have access to these technologies, they will see elite athletes as different,” says sociologist Jay Coakley, author of Sports in Society. “They’ll be less likely to work hard at the developmental level and the sports will begin to languish.”
Put another way, if money can buy greater success, then the talent pool shrinks to those able and willing to fork out for high-tech equipment that is expensive by definition and design. If there’s a perception that you need to buy cutting-edge carbon-fibre hockey sticks and sub-700-gram skates made with silver texalium composite material to gain an edge on the ice, then a lot of talented athletes become too poor to play the game.
There’s a good reason why soccer, basketball and track are such popular sports worldwide – they don’t demand high entry fees and aren’t at the mercy of the high-end equipment suppliers. “Running is one of the most pure sports you’ll find,” says marathoner Reid Coolsaet, who is representing Canada at this month’s world championships in Berlin. “It’s so accessible to everybody – the best distance runners in the world come from places like Kenya and Ethiopia.”
Shoe companies may do their best to make a case for their record-breaking designs, and absurd bodysuits still find their way to Olympic finals, but on the track, it’s still the athletes who win the race, not the clothing.
As a business model, the high-tech sports-equipment arms race seems to have a limiting disadvantage: “Equipment companies are cutting their own throats by limiting accessibility,” says Prof. Simon.
In some high-end sports such as golf, tennis and cycling, where the target market consists of free-spending adults who might be more susceptible to the instant uplift high-tech equipment promises, this sales technique isn’t such a problem.
“These days,” says Greg Mathieu, CEO of the Canadian Cycling Association, “you can’t really race a bike professionally that isn’t available in the shop. Just make sure you’ve got $6,000.”
The technological advantage in cycling is less about the equipment now than it is about an intensive scientific approach to technique – aerodynamic studies of the best position for a rider to hold on a long ride, or wind-resistance research that determines how riders should shape their ever-changing line on a team trial.
For all the advantages, both fair and unfair, that science and technology are able to supply, one disadvantage sometimes eludes sports’ decision-makers. “At what point, asks Jay Coakley, “do ordinary spectators cease to identify with athletes as people with the same feelings, the same weaknesses, the same challenges as we have?”
It’s a question that touches on the very nature of being a fan, of being the person for whom all these achievements are ultimately accomplished. Do we want Tiger Woods or Sidney Crosby or Lance Armstrong to be such supersized heroes, or is part of their appeal that they cut through all the technology and make direct contact with the rest of us?
“Take a lesson from Lance Armstrong,” Coakley says. “We used to see him as a high-tech cyborg – technology interfered with our ability to connect with him. But the moment that we saw him suffer, it became easier to identify with him as a human being.”
That’s probably not a lesson that Michael Phelps will take to heart, not yet. In the pool, what you wear comes first.
On Saturday June 20, Kingston knitters are invited to Skeleton Park Music Festival not only to enjoy the music, but to take a private activity out into the open. On World Wide Knit in Public Day, knitters take their sticks and string to local events and make sure everyone gets an eyeful.
“In a lot of ways, the stigma, if that’s the right word, of knitting in public has faded over the last decade. But people still stare and whisper when they see people knitting on public transportation, in parks, or at the movies,” says Stephanie Earp, a knitter who own local online yarn shop vanderrockyarns.com. “World Wide Knit in Public Day is sort of an excuse for us to get together and flaunt our love of knitting, and maybe snare a few new converts at the same time. And for some of us, finally meet in real life - most of the knitters I know in Kingston, I know only as internet entities. I’m looking forward to finally putting faces to usernames.”
“This gives us a chance to congregate in larger-than-usual groups, and in places where we are sure to be noticed. I love showing people that, no, knitting isn’t a lost art, and there are more of us than you think. Also it can be a fantastic social tool. Some of my best friends in Kingston, I’ve met through knitting,” says Danielle Lowry, a knitter active in both the online and local knitting community.
World Wide Knit in Public Day was started in 2005 by Danielle Landes, as a way for knitters to come together and enjoy each other’s company. WWKIP Day is the largest knitter-run event in the world. In 2007, there were almost 200 individual local events held around the globe.
For more information, visit www.wwkipday.com.
What: World Wide Knit in Public Day – at Skeleton Park Music Festival
Where: McBurney Park – Cannon Statue at Clergy Street
When: Saturday June 20th, 1 pm – 3 pm
To arrange an interview with organizers or knitters planning to attend, please contact Stephanie Earp at 613.650.9413 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It took four days for Bridget Doherty's lawn sign to go missing.
It wasn't a sign promoting the local organizer's own Green party. It was one supporting a candidate for whom she can't even vote: Barack Obama.
Doherty is not alone. Around Kingston, there are a number of lawn signs supporting Obama and his running mate, Senator Joe Biden, in today's American election.
(It's a little harder to find a sign touting Republican candidate Senator John McCain and his vice-presidential candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin.)
Today, American citizens in the United States and abroad, many of whom live in Canada, will cast their ballots in what has been deemed a historic presidential vote. After eight years of President George W. Bush, today Americans will select his successor and Canadians will watch as well.
"It's an exciting election," Doherty said. "The whole globe is interested in this election. For sure, a lot of Kingstonians are."
Maybe even more Kingstonians are interested in the U. S. election than the Canadian one held just a few weeks ago. That election drew a voter turnout of less than 60%.
That number would likely have been higher if we were casting a ballot in the McCain-Obama battle, with the majority of Canadians siding with the senator from Illinois, according to online public opinion polls.
If Obama wins today, as many polls are predicting, he will become the country's first African-American president. Those with Obama paraphernalia see it a piece of history.
"I'm going to keep it because I think he's going to get elected ... unless someone wants it as a keepsake. I know where to find more," said Kevin Maloney, who has a sign in front of his Williamsville home.
Maloney, a Green party volunteer this past election, called the Democratic Party headquarters about a sign. He spoke with a woman in Ohio who wrapped up two signs and shipped them off to Kingston.
"She kind of laughed and chuckled and said, 'glad to see he's got support in Canada,' " Maloney said.
One went to Doherty, the other to his front lawn.
"I just think the best thing for Canada right now would be Obama in the White House because he reflects the Canadian viewpoint" on health care and the economy, Maloney said.
"If Canadians had a vote in this election, Obama would be elected."
But they don't. Only Americans and those with a dual citizenship can mark a ballot today.
The U. S. embassy in Ottawa estimates that there are one million Americans living in Canada. Ontario alone holds about a quarter of that population, approximately 250,000.
A number of those Americans live in Kingston, with some linked to the postsecondary institutions in town, either as teachers or students.
Retired Queen's history professor Geoff Smith, who is originally from San Francisco, said he's already voted, casting his ballot for Obama.
"In my view, what's gone on in the last eight years, as Vietnam was to [Lyndon B.] Johnson and [Richard] Nixon, 9/11 was to the Bush administration and it destroyed it," Smith said.
Dr. Joe Pater, a retired cancer doctor, and his wife, Beth, a former city councillor, voted early as well. It took a few years to figure out how to cast absentee ballots but now they have the hang of it.
They voted in their native state of Ohio, a crucial battleground that has helped decide past presidential elections.
"It's only two votes, but it's something we can do," Joe Pater said.
The message on voting also went out to American students who call Kingston home during the school year.
In June, the U. S. embassy in Ottawa asked Queen's to send a prepared message to its American students that they could vote in the Nov. 4 election, and how they could go about it. More than 250 students received the message.
This year, a student group sprung up on campus to get people out to vote in the election. Democrats Abroad organized itself with the intention of holding events and meetings to bring together eligible voters and anyone else interested in the Democratic party.
"American students seem to be very well-informed about the processes, in part because they're motivated to know," said Susan Anderson, assistant director of the university's international centre.
So, too, have non-Americans who aren't eligible to vote in today's election, which explains the interest in having an Obama-Biden lawn sign in the Limestone City.
"This election seems to matter to the world at large," Joe Pater said. "The world is watching and I think it would be a tragedy if the candidate the world wants didn't win."
Public opinion polls around the world show that most non-Americans would cast a ballot for Obama rather than McCain. Obama has become an international phenomenon, drawing large crowds wherever he goes -in Berlin last July he drew 200,000 people, a bigger crowd than any he had ever drawn at home. His stump speeches are broadcast into homes worldwide.
"Somewhere along the road to the White House, Obama became the world's candidate -a reminder that for all the talk of America's decline, for all the visceral hatred of Bush, the rest of the world still looks upon the United States as a land of hope and opportunity," Stryker McGuire writes in the latest edition of Newsweek magazine.
For Canadians, Obama brings a message and viewpoint that they haven't seen in years from a U. S. president, says a Queen's politics expert, but, more importantly, whatever happens in the White House has an immediate effect on Canada.
"Canadians are sleeping with an elephant," says Kathy Brock, an associate professor of policy studies at Queen's who has written about the influence America has on Canadian politics.
"If the Americans roll over in the wrong way, we could be crushed."
We watch American politics, sometimes more than our own, and especially at election time because "in the U. S., there is such a greater capacity to influence the world than in Canada," Brock says.
While Canadians may be firmly behind Obama, they remain skeptical that either he or McCain will respect Canadian interests, specifically over issues such as Arctic sovereignty and free trade, according to a poll released last week by the Calgary-based Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.
The Rideau Institute, an Ottawa-based research group, released a report last week stating that an "Obama administration would be mixed news for Canada."
The bad news could be on the Afghanistan file, the report says, where Obama has promised to increase the number of American troops. Canada has committed to leave Afghanistan by 2011, but an Obama administration may pressure Canada to extend the mission, the institute says.
Reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement, something Obama raised in the primaries, could be good news for Canada, but some experts believe a McCain administration may be better for Canada on the trade front.
"Generally, Canadians are more comfortable with Democrats in the White House because they also tend to be more multilateralists," Canada's former ambassador to the U. S., Michael Kergin, told Agence France-Presse in an interview.
"On the other hand, Republicans tend to be more free traders," Kergin told the news agency. "This means easier access to the U. S. market for Canadian goods and services."
Tonight, Americans and Canadians alike will watch as the results come in. Smith said he'll be home with friends he has invited over for what he hopes to be a victory party for Obama.
Yesterday, he wasn't allowing himself to become excited.
"Here we are on the verge of the election ... and yet there is this growing feeling in the back of my mind, the back of my heart -- don't take anything for granted," Smith said.
"Anything can happen."
Geoff has been named the recipient of the Kinesiology and Health Studies Class of '88 Teaching Award this year, for the one course, Introduction to the Critical Sociology of Sport. Amazing surprise and a true honour.
When one of Judy Davidson's teammates skated over to the opposing team's bench to ask a favour, she received a number of confused looks.
If Davidson's team could score one goal, which would be their first of the tournament for teams of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered, their fans and partners in the stands would bare their breasts.
Their opponents agreed.
After the goal, the two women's teams emptied the benches and watched while laughing, according to Davidson. It was a moment Davidson, an assistant professor in the faculty of physical education at the University of Alberta, said turned sport on its head.
Davidson mentioned the anecdote during a lecture at a Queen's University-organized conference on the weekend where she publicly spoke for the first time about her new research project. The project examines how playing at the local arena can provide a safe place for people - including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered - to experiment with sports.
"Queering sport requires taking sport apart," she said.
Davidson said creating different places and ways to "queer sport" is not as simple as it sounds. There is no one answer, she said.
"There's got to be more than one answer," she said after the talk. "These are complicated spaces. I want to keep them complicated."
On Saturday, the school of kinesiology and health studies at Queen's held its annual conference that gives students a chance to present papers, many for the first time.
About 40 masters and doctoral students moved about the McLaughlin Room in the John Deutsch University Centre, some from Queen's, while others were from McMaster University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Ottawa, the University of Windsor, York University and the University of Lethbridge, Alta.
"It's a way of making a community of scholars," said Queen's associate professor Mary Louise Adams, who helped organize the conference.
The students who mingled in the room on the weekend will see one another at conferences in the years to come, she said.
The conference is held in honour of Donald Macintosh, a former professor who passed away after an 11-year battle with cancer in 1994. He spent 35 years teaching and pushed for equity and equal opportunity in sport.
This year's conference put an emphasis on equity, with a focus on the local arenas rather than the grand stadiums of professional sport. Three papers, including Davidson's, dealt with the small games people play each day.
Sport sociologists tend to focus on the effects of large-scale sporting events, rather than the opportunities that can be had at the local rink, Davidson said.
Adams said the goal of the weekend conference was to offer different ways to think about sport.
Davidson's lecture was the keynote address Saturday morning as she recounted the memories of the 2007 Out Games in Calgary, which was one of the largest sporting events for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered.
The players were not highly skilled, but were more interested in having fun with the game.
The School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University would like to invite all those interested in socio-cultural studies of sport to a day conference that will be held in the memory of our colleague Dr. Don Macintosh. The conference will be held at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario on Saturday 26th January 2008. Registration, available at the door, will be $25 for faculty and $15 for students.
The conference programme (below) will consist of several sessions of graduate student presentations, a catered lunch, and the annual Donald Macintosh Memorial Lecture which will be given by Dr. Judy Davidson. Dr. Davidson conducts research on issues of feminism and sexuality and their intersections with sport, recreation, and/or leisure. She teaches in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta. The title of this year's Lecture is: Flashing breasts and women's ice hockey: Sexual identity sporting events, autoethnography, and queer-feminist theorizing.
The Lecture is free and all are welcome to attend. It will be held in the McLaughlin Room, John Deutsch University Centre, Queen's University at 11:15 am.
If you are interested in attending the conference, or for all other inquiries, please contact: Carlie Stokes at email@example.com.*Conference Program*
The El Salvador 2009 Committee held a fund-raising dinner on March 24 at 6 p.m. at St. Paul’s Anglican Church to commemorate the life of the heroic figure and champion of the poor, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. This annual event featured as guest speaker, emeritus professor Geoff Smith of the Queen’s University History Department and the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, who spoke on the legacy of Archbishop Romero, the place in history of Rufina Amaya the massacre of El Mozote and its aftermath, and hopeful signs for the future in Central and South America.
Click the image to download a printable PDF flyer. For more info: http://home.cogeco.ca/~no-war/.From: "Peace Review"
Peace Review, a Routledge/Taylor & Francis quarterly, multidisciplinary, transnational journal of research and analysis, welcomes original contributions, policy analyses, and research for a special issue addressing the intersection of global environmental change, issues and empire. Ideally, we seek papers that draw out insight on the following broad concerns:
Peace Review publishes essays on ideas and research in peace studies, broadly defined. Our essays are relatively short (2500-3500 words), and are intended for a wide readership. We are most interested in the cultural and political issues surrounding conflicts occurring between nations and peoples. Since we are a transnational journal (we distribute to more than 40 nations), we want to avoid speaking with the voice of any particular national culture or politics. Relevant topics include war, violence, human rights, political economy, development, culture and consciousness, the environment, and related issues. Generally, we do not reprint essays that have been published elsewhere.
Please send essays on this theme by April 15, 2007. Essays should run between 2500 and 3500 words, and should be jargon- and footnote- free. See Submission Guidelines at:http://www.usfca.edu/peacereview/PRHome.html.
Send essays to:
Kerry Donoghue (Managing Editor)
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
or by email:
Luke's Restaurant is a favourite haunt of mine, and the webmistress' too! This article appeared in the Toronto Star on January 24, 2007.
KINGSTON–This is not a typical teenager.
You won't find Luke Hayes-Alexander hanging out at the mall or "facebooking" online. He has, however, butchered a whole pig as he goes about mastering the ancient art of charcuterie. He spends his spare money on cookbooks. And he has the patience to deconstruct and reassemble trout into a picture pretty enough to please any surrealist who happens to wander into his café in Kingston.
"The more presentation the better, because it excites you before you begin to eat and you get to enjoy it with your eyes first," Luke points out.
That's the most he has said in hours. Luke just turned 16 last month, and is painfully shy. When spoken to, he blushes and looks down. His handshake is damp and delicate. He is relieved to return to the kitchen of the restaurant named after him. It's his retreat and his domain.
"He would be in the kitchen 24 hours a day if I didn't yank him out occasionally," jokes Carrie Hayes, Luke's mother and proud sous-chef.
"He's an introvert," she adds. "He's an artist."
Hayes often speaks for him. She is the one to tell the story of Lukes! restaurant and how her son became executive chef.
Hayes owns the restaurant with husband Rob Alexander, a chef. They named it after their only child. Luke took the helm as chef last March, allowing his father to concentrate on the first harvest at the family's 17-acre winery on the water in Waupoos, in Prince Edward County.
It's a long commute to the 45-seat restaurant on a funky strip of downtown Kingston. Inside, there are dancing figures and Asian masks, gauze curtains and exposed brick, wooden tables and chairs in primary colours. On one wall is a fountain with frogs. On another is a mural, an abstract in sombre colours. Luke painted it when he was 11. Art was his first love.
After he finished the mural, he went into the kitchen, started cooking and decided that's what he wanted to do with his life. Menus are decorated with his childhood art and commentary: "Once there was a boy named Luke. He lived on the moon. He had a restaurant that served moon meals."
At age 12, Luke asked to be put in charge of one thing. They gave him desserts. Tarts and molten chocolate cakes were his style then. Nowadays, he is as likely to be creating pine needle ice cream.
Not all the food at Lukes! is haute or experimental. You can order a mesquite grilled burger or a caesar salad. But you can also get Braisé A Bourré La Tête De Cochon. In Luke's rendition of a 15th-century recipe that involves three days of prep, these medallions of stuffed pork are served with mayonaissy Sauce Gribiche, a hard-cooked quail egg and tarragon essence.
When they say Lukes! is known for "homemade" food, they are not exaggerating. Luke presides over a labour-intensive, made-from-scratch menu. He even bakes two kinds of bread every day. A follower of the Slow Food movement, he focuses on seasonal and local ingredients.
On the menu, "Luke's Manifesto" asks customers not to rush the chef. "Our foods are hand-crafted as they were hundreds of years ago in villages scattered throughout Italy and France," it says.
Lorraine Schmidt, a regular who notes she has been dining at Luke's for 14 years, says the young man's pâtés, rillettes, sausages and confits are the best she has ever had.
Luke reserves his greatest passion for charcuterie, the curing, smoking, drying and preserving of meats. "Some are ancient recipes," he explains. "They have been curing jowls for centuries." Guanciale – the example he is referring to – is cured pig's jowl that he serves with chickpea fritters and porcini vinaigrette.
As in the olden days, Luke tries to use every part of the animal he is working with. Duck "ham" is prepared from the breast. The feet are good for stock. He even uses the duck's "bums." Art meets cuisine in the table décor: Real pig's ears have been turned into candle shades. The light reflects the veins; it looks macabre yet somehow fitting.
One of Luke's earliest curing experiments was making Tuscan fennel salami. Today, thin slices of this dry, exquisitely flavoured salami is on the leading edge of a photogenic, 13-course tasting menu he has prepared for me. Also on the menu is trout, brined and smoked, decorated with its head and tail, lying on pedestals of roast beets, and served with bulgur timbale and onion confit. Duck confit comes with its bone, tied with a little chive bow. Pork rillette is very old country, a circle of pâté coated in a thick layer of pure-tasting white lard, enhanced with fennel-thyme dust and pickled fennel.
Interesting choices for a fellow who's close to being a vegetarian. But he tastes everything he makes and doesn't see a conflict. "These are the foods he likes to prepare," Hayes explains. "We realize it's really ironic."
During his down time, Luke eats no meat or dairy foods. He does eat seafood – lots of trout, tilapia, kingfish and salmon. Favourites at home include marinated tofu, buckwheat noodles with sesame oil, ginger and butter, and "pasta cake." He cooks polenta for seven hours, to build up the corn flavour.
Slow, deliberate and patient, Luke seems an old soul. Few teenagers are such accomplished cooks. In this limited category is British boy wonder Sam Stern. At 16, he already has two books in print: Cooking Up a Storm: The Teen Survival Cookbook and Real Food Real Fast. Like Luke, he loves the technical stuff, and finds blending, whisking and mixing relaxing. But Sam's tastes run to roast chicken, chocolate mousse and guacamole, and he wants to party, party, party with his pals.
Luke prefers the company of grownups. He went to a public school until Grade 8. Now he's home-schooled, at Grade 11 level. "He already knew what he wanted to do," Hayes explains. "He wanted to continue teaching himself."
The chef admits he feels older than his age sometimes and finds little common ground with his peers. He doesn't keep in touch with the kids he knew in school. He is more apt to be perusing his collection of more than 50 cookbooks. (Favourites include Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook and Jacques Pèpin's Complete Techniques.) He can become absorbed in the minutiae of the culinary arts – even less glamorous aspects like eviscerating poultry or cleaning fish, or time-consuming procedures, like making 21-day smoked meat.
Frequently experimenting, Luke is an auteur in the kitchen. "A lot of times I would say it's natural to put strange flavours together," he says.
That's how grated amaretti cookies wind up on top of pumpkin gnocchi. And that's why black beluga lentils end up being soaked, then fried crispy in olive oil, rather than being boiled. Luke doesn't like them mushy and wanted diners to see "lentils in a new light."
One day, his mom was taken aback to find bananas in the smoker. The smoked bananas were turned into ice cream.
Hayes admires his creativity. She loves spending time with her son, working by his side in the kitchen. "Sometimes, I'm really gobsmacked with the reality of it," she says. "I'll look up and realize it's Luke, my little baby."
Grown up, tall and slim, Luke bends over the work counter in the little kitchen. He puddles bittersweet chocolate sauce on to a plate. He tops it with a scoop of that smoked banana ice cream. He sets a chocolate tuile on top at a rakish angle. Meanwhile, he ponders his future.
Luke doesn't foresee gigs at busy hotels or posh restos. He wants to keep marching to his own beat. He dreams of greenhouses, a beehive, an olive grove and a completely sustainable restaurant at the family winery.
It's been a busy day, presenting and plating such an ambitious tasting menu. But there is no chaos in the kitchen, just a sink filled with soapy grey water.
Is there anything Luke doesn't like doing in the kitchen? He thinks, skips a few beats, then answers: maybe the cleanup.
Aha, we found it – something typical about Luke.
Carrie Hayes and Luke Hayes-Alexander
This is a dish slated for Lukes! spring menu. In Italian cuisine, "scapece" denotes a dish in a sweet and sour marinade. I used cabernet vinegar by Niagara Vinegars (niagaravinegars.com). If you can't find any, substitute top-quality red wine vinegar. Eat this at room temperature as an appetizer or entrée, or add it to a buffet table.
Heat 1 cup oil in wide, deep pan on medium-high until shimmery.
Sprinkle cod with salt and pepper. Place flour on large plate. Coat cod, shaking off excess. Carefully place 2 pieces in hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes total for thicker pieces. Reduce heat to medium if necessary. Remove cod with large slotted spatula. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining 2 pieces cod. Let cool.
In large skillet, heat remaining 1/4 cup oil on medium. Add shallots. Cook until softened and golden, about 5 minutes, turning heat to medium-low if needed. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and sugar. Stir in pine nuts, juniper berries and rosemary. Return to medium heat and bring to boil. Lower heat to medium-low. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until juniper berries are softened. Remove from heat and let cool.
Place cod in single layer in dish or on platter that just fits them. Spoon vinegar mixture evenly over top. Refrigerate 24 hours.
Remove from fridge 1 hour before serving and allow to come to room temperature.
Makes 4 to 8 servings.
This side dish will make you think outside the lentil box. Small, rounded, black beluga lentils are sold in some specialty shops. Organic ones are $2.29 a pound in the bulk section of Whole Foods Market in Yorkville. Make sure you use a wide skillet (about 12 inches) so the hot oil can work its magic. Luke Hayes-Alexander says soaked, drained lentils can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
Put lentils in large bowl. Liberally cover with water. Soak at least 8 hours at room temperature. Drain well.
Heat oil in wide skillet on medium-high until shimmery. Add lentils. Cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 8 minutes, until tender but crispy.
Stir in oregano, ginger, thyme, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 8 servings.
A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.
After an immigration check in 1999 found undocumented workers on its payroll, Golden State promised to clean house. But when followup checks were made in 2004 and 2005, some of those same illegal workers were still on the job. In fact, U-S Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company's 750 workers may have been in the country illegally.
Golden State Fence built millions of dollars' worth of fencing around homes, offices, and military bases. Its president and one of its Southern California managers will pay fines totaling $300,000. The government is also recommending jail time for Melvin Kay and Michael McLaughlin, probably about six months.
It is exceptionally rare for those who employ illegal immigrants to face any kind of criminal prosecution, let alone jail time. Earlier this week, for example, immigration raids on six meat-packing plants netted almost 1,300 suspected illegal workers. But no charges were leveled against the company that runs the plants: Swift.
Golden State Fence's attorney, Richard Hirsch, admits his client broke the law. But he says the case proves that construction companies need a guest-worker program.
Noah Sutton Beltran
Born January 3 at 1:45 Pacific
7 lbs. 10 oz.
Parents Sam and Kristin -- everyone doing well!
Jake Smith, #25
Playing in front of a raucous crowd of 150 (including former UCLA Bruin Jelani McCoy) at Westchester High School, Westwood Charter used an effective full court press and transition offense to overcome a 6 point halftime deficit to defeat rival Cowan School 55-49 in Westside Championship action. The game was close early but Cowan pounded the ball inside to their twin towers (all 6' and 5' 9" of them) to achieve their largest lead of nine points before Westwood cut the Cowan's lead to six at 27-21 as the teams went to their respective dressing rooms. Jake Smith, playing well, finished the first half with 4 points and 11 rebounds.
Westwood's Coach Andre encouraged the troops to keep hustling during his halftime speech preaching that Westwood had the speed and endurance to play all 94 ft. Westwood tenacious defense led to several turnovers as Westwood went ahead for the first time in the 2nd half at 35-34 with Jake Smith leading the way with 8 points during Westwood's run including both free throw off a Cowan technical foul. Westwood increased their lead to 11 with about five minutes left in the game and kept Cowan at bay as the clocked wound down until the final buzzer as the crowd went into a frenzy. Jake Smith sealed the deal with two free throws to put Westwood up by five after Cowan was called for an intentional foul with less than 5 seconds to play. Many experts already suggest that Westwood's upset of mighty and previously unbeaten Cowan rivals that of the 1980 USA ice hockey victory over the Soviet Union .... Do you believe in miracles? ..... YES!
Jake Smith had the game of his life as he finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds as he willed Westwood to victory by scoring 19 of the team's 34 second half points while battling the Cowan big men. Cowan coach Moses Malone praised Smith for his aggressiveness and relentless transition hustle as he consistently beat Cowan up and down the court. Malone said Smith never stops ... perhaps he should be a miler.
But seriously, Jake played a great game. After the final buzzer, someone walked over to hand deliver a flyer for a traveling team. Only one hour earlier, we walked into the gym and saw Cowan's twin towers and thought of Sam's birth certificate reference and that 5th graders shouldn't be shaving. Adam Richland (who was there with Cassidy cheering him on) thought it was weird that Cowan player #43 actually drove the team van to the game : ). Westwood played great, Jake played great, and their coaches got them to believe and not feel intimidated. Since the game was at Westchester High, it was to our advantage to make them run all 94 ft. and that we did!!!!!
Go Westwood! 2006 Basketball champions - First-time ever!
An e-mail from a friend of Geoff's in California, whose step-son is back in Iraq after "completing" his tour of duty........
hi jerry, i hope all is well. dan has been in iraq for about eight weeks now. we have talked about the war in iraq before and you feel we are safer with the war going on and you believe in the noble cause. i feel we are less safe with the chaos in iraq (besides all the lies we were told, wmd, etc.) and i have no idea what the noble cause is. life can be strange, you have no family members fighting in iraq yet believe we should be there and i have a stepson (dan) fighting there and i don't believe we should be there. anyway, i received a phone call late yesterday afternoon. it was from a young woman in wisconsin and she asked me if karen was home and i said she was at work. she told me she was part of the phone tree for the families that have family members fighting in iraq. she said she was calling about dan. i ask her if she could tell me what happen and she said this was her first time calling and they gave her a script to follow and she started crying. i became alarmed and ask her if dan was ok. she said she thought so. there were several people killed and wounded in his company. the families that have family members killed or wounded are notified in person and then the phone tree calls other families to tell them what is going on. after all families are notified the details are then released to the public. they do it this way to ease the worry of the familles that are ok. the young woman called me again about a half an hour later but karen was still not home. when karen got home i gave her the message and she immediately called the number. when karen was done talking she told me the young woman was crying as it was her first time and she didn't really know how to handle it. jerry, do you ever get scared when your doorbell rings? karen and i get scared every time. every time.
Help spread the word! Click on the image above to download the poster as a pdf.
What good is research and development if no one is listening?
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Government officials gathered in Baton Rouge a year ago to deal with a powerful hurricane bearing down on New Orleans.
They faced a nightmare scenario. A flooded city, 1 million evacuees, 60,000 dead -- all the work of Hurricane Pam.
The storm was not real. Staged with the help of a San Francisco company, Pam was a simulation designed to force government agencies to examine -- and possibly rethink -- their disaster plans.
The exercise, conducted with the help of URS Corp., projected storm water surging over levees and pouring into New Orleans, forming a contaminated pool 10 to 20 feet deep. More than 500,000 buildings were destroyed in the scenario, coastal gasoline refineries were shut, and boats and helicopters were needed to rescue thousands of stranded citizens.
In short, Pam looked a lot like Hurricane Katrina.
"It's eerie how close it is," said Madhu Beriwal, founder and president of Innovative Emergency Management Inc., based in Baton Rouge. The company led a team of three firms, including URS, that created the simulation, working under contract for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA has come under blistering criticism for its slow response to Katrina. Beriwal said she isn't sure whether Pam shaped the way FEMA and state and local agencies responded to the real-life catastrophe. Those who participated in last year's exercise have copies of the recommendations it produced.
"So people are looking at it," she said. "I don't know how much of it was used."
FEMA representatives did not return phone calls for this story. In a press release last year, however, an agency official said the exercise helped refine hurricane planning in the New Orleans area.
Working with federal and state officials, Beriwal's firm and its two partners devised a scenario that pictured a hurricane hitting land west of New Orleans, with winds of 120 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center provided storm surge projections that the companies used to estimate the likely destruction.
Those estimates were given to the more than 270 people who participated in the Hurricane Pam exercise, held in July 2004. The participants represented city, state and federal government agencies, as well as volunteer organizations.
Pam's mock damage, spread over 13 Louisiana parishes, was extensive. Phone and sewer services were knocked out, chemical plants flooded. About 200 miles of road lay under at least 10 feet of water. About 175,000 people were injured, 200,000 became sick, and more than 60,000 were killed.
Part of Pam's impact derived from the path its creators chose. Having the hurricane's eye pass west of New Orleans meant the city would face the full brunt of the storm's force, since hurricane winds and precipitation during landfall are strongest in their northeast quadrant.
"We wanted to create catastrophic conditions that would force people to think outside the box and think how they'd respond to it," Beriwal said.
Katrina, in contrast, landed east of the city.
Working in teams, participants in the weeklong exercise came up with recommendations. About 1,000 shelters would be needed for evacuees. The shelters would need to stay open 100 days, but state resources could only keep them stocked for five days at most.
With many residents stranded by floodwaters, boats would be needed for about 20,000 rescues. Helicopters would be needed for 1,000 more rescues.
A team focusing on health problems discussed how to rapidly immunize residents against tetanus, influenza and other diseases that could break out in the hurricane's aftermath. Team members identified locations where the sick or wounded could receive emergency treatment.
Beriwal declined to provide a copy of the written recommendations, saying that under her company's contract, the document could only be released by FEMA.
In a press release at the end of the exercise, a FEMA official said participants had learned much from Hurricane Pam.
"We made great progress this week in our preparedness," said Ron Castleman, who was FEMA's regional director at the time. He left the agency late last year.
"Disaster response teams developed action plans in critical areas such as search and rescue, medical care, sheltering, temporary housing, school restoration and debris management," Castleman said in the release. "These plans are essential for quick response to a hurricane but will also help in other emergencies."
San Francisco's URS Corp. declined to comment other than to acknowledge its work on the contract with Beriwal's firm. About 1,100 URS employees and contractors are now in the states hit by Katrina, helping with disaster-relief efforts.
Although much of the Hurricane Pam exercise foreshadowed Katrina, Beriwal hopes that the real storm's casualty figure proves to be far lower than Pam's. Considering the devastation Katrina wrought, the simulation's accuracy gives her no comfort.
"I can not be pleased with it," she said. "This is our state. ... This is appalling."
E-mail David R. Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A note from a high school acquaintance to a friend of his.
hi jerry, i hope all is well. dan (my stepson) called about two hours ago. he is leaving for iraq tonight. his mother talked to him for about half an hour, started crying and went into the bedroom. i took the phone and we talked and said our good byes. he is up beat. his sister called and is crying so hard she can not talk. i brought my mother dinner and she ask me about dan. my mother is 90 years old. i told her i just got the call. she started crying and ask me why we are in iraq? i could not answer her. dan has been her steady grandchild. he would go over four or five times a week and just talk. my kids go over once every two months. yes i know, it is the noble cause. jerry, what is the noble cause? i have ask you before but i don't know what your answer is. you are a good person and i like you, yet, you tell me if you were a young man you would go to iraq for the noble cause. what is the noble cause? dan served for three years and has been in the "in active reserve for six years". they called him back. the noble cause. jerry, what is the noble cause? is the cause noble enough for the bush girls to go over to iraq? if not, why? is it ok for other peoples kids to died in iraq for the "noble cause" but not the bush kids? my mother told me she heard about the first world war from her mother and the relatives that died. noble cause? i think so. my mother told me about the cousins that were killed in the second world war. noble cause, i think so. my mother told me about the korean war. noble cause? nothing changed. thousands of our people died. my mother told me about the vietnam war. a noble cause ? nothing changed. thousands of our young men died. you and i knew many of them. iraq? a noble cause? no wmd. all lies. will you tell my wife and my mother what the noble cause is? i can't.
"My first Critical Mass was really an eye opener," Leah Shahum told me. "I had never thought of bicycling as a political thing, as a part of a social movement. Riding with a thousand people just felt so empowering. It felt different: I felt safer, I felt more confident. These were good feelings."
That was 1996, shortly after Shahum had moved to San Francisco a few years out of college. It was the period when Critical Mass established San Francisco as the epicenter of militant bicycling culture, as thousands of bikers swarmed in a usually joyous and always chaotic monthly leaderless parade. A decade later, Shahum is executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the public face of a new kind of grown-up bicycle activism.
Over the past decade, bicyclists have transitioned from traffic-snarling outsiders to pillars of civic life. They have merged smoothly with the mainstream and, with the imminent passage of the City's new Bicycle Plan Update (also called the Bike Plan Update), the movement is graduating to a new phase.
Last Monday, I rode with Shahum down freshly striped bike lanes on Market Street. She rides a green Trek hybrid that's clearly seen a lot of urban biking but also a lot of love. We were on our way to City Hall, where Shahum was due to address San Francisco's City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee about planned changes to Potrero Avenue -- changes that will include the addition of bike lanes.
It was the start of a hectic week for Shahum -- two days later, the watershed Bike Plan Update was to go before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors' Land Use Committee, its final stop on a long meander toward the full board. The day after that was Bike to Work Day, the most visible officially sanctioned bike event each year.
Shahum was in fine form, giddily energetic and talking a mile a minute as she rode with fluid ease. "These lanes went in this week," she explained. "I'm really excited. Check out the double line: You don't see that anywhere else in the City!" She's a transportation geek ("Look!" she exclaimed as we passed the library, "they're putting in the new bike parking!") with an intuitive grasp for grassroots coalition building that epitomizes the strengths of the bicycling movement in San Francisco.
Shahum is equally at home poring over dull traffic studies -- the Bicycle Coalition's office seems to have these lying on every available surface -- or networking and rallying the faithful. In her nearly seven years with the organization (the last two and a half as director), Shahum has built an easy rapport with the City's bikers. (The organization was founded in the 1970s but was moribund for a decade until 1991, when it was revived by the Critical Mass generation of activists.)
When we got to the meeting room in City Hall, which was filled past capacity on a Monday afternoon, Shahum went into networking mode, moving from person to person like a born politician. Now she's having a quick word with a City staffer; now she's thanking a supporter for coming; now she's checking in with a volunteer's preteen daughter: "You have a great dad! But you knew that."
"Our constituency is mainstream," she told me later. "We had people at that meeting who were parents -- one mother was there with a newborn baby. We have older people, homeowners, car drivers. People in business suits come out and advocate for bike lanes and safer streets."
As the bike movement becomes a part of the civic landscape, Shahum says, old stereotypes no longer apply. "The image of the renegade bicyclist with blue hair is not helpful," she told me. "Not that there's anything wrong with blue hair, of course, but the Bicycle Coalition couldn't be more wholesome." Shahum herself was smartly turned out that day in a lime-green buttoned shirt and a neat, businesslike haircut with nary a strand of blue in it.
It is a measure of just how far the movement has come that, at the committee meeting, the supervisors and city planners were falling all over each other to reassert the importance of biking in the City's transportation picture, and to praise the Bicycle Coalition.
"It was a great meeting," Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who sponsored the changes, told me later. (The stretch of Potrero Avenue in question -- from 17th Street to 25th street, in front of San Francisco General Hospital, is in his district.) "They've been very persistent and very present at City Hall. Having more bikes on the road address a lot of important urban issues: the environment, traffic congestion, parking, recreation, health. It's not rocket science, but the Bicycle Coalition points it out; they connect the dots for people." The committee moved unanimously to send the plan before the full board; work could start as early as June.
The Bicycle Coalition estimates that up to 40,000 people regularly commute by bicycle in San Francisco. Their membership of 4,500 is just a fraction of this number, showing how broad the appeal of biking is in a city where half the residents own bikes. Indeed, 2000 Census figures show that from 1990 to 2000, when biking's share of commutes doubled, San Francisco was the only county in California in which that figure increased.
Peter Tannen, the bicycle program manager at San Francisco's Department of Parking and Traffic, presided over this increase. When he was hired in 1992, he was the City's first and only internal bicycle advocate. "A lot of the increase has to do with bicyclists getting more active," he told me. "It helped me to get funds to stripe the lanes, which in turn attracted more riders. It's about safety and access."
The Bicycle Coalition's Shahum agrees. "Fear on the road is the No. 1 reason people don't ride," she says, "but bike lanes make things much safer." From 1998 to 2002, while bike ridership was increasing dramatically, collisions with cars decreased by about 30 percent, thanks in part to more bike lanes. That's why the completion of a citywide network of bike lanes is the Bicycle Coalition's highest priority.
Tom Ammiano adds that the attitudes of drivers have also changed. "People really care if a biker is hit or killed in San Francisco," he says. Ammiano has seen the changes firsthand: The Valencia Street bike lanes, striped in his district in 1999, were a watershed victory for the Bicycle Coalition and are the example by which every other project since then has been measured. "The Valencia lanes were the big turning point," he says. "There was a lot of protest from the neighborhood, and things didn't work out right away." But since then, Valencia has become safer and more enjoyable for bikers, drivers, and pedestrians -- the bike lanes have contributed to the renaissance of this people-scaled urban corridor.
But Shahum says the Bicycle Coalition isn't resting on its laurels. "We're much less outsiders than we were five or seven years ago," she says. "Bicycle transportation is becoming more mainstream, but I wouldn't say that we are truly insiders. If we were, then we wouldn't need to be out there actively campaigning to make sure the City plans for biking."
Still, bicyclists have clearly arrived on the political scene. Until 2000, the Bicycle Coalition was a nonprofit, barred from campaigning for candidates for public office. Spurred by the mayoral election that year, in which Tom Ammiano forced a surprise runoff against Mayor Willie Brown, the coalition reorganized itself. "They were smart to create a political action committee," says Ammiano, who received the bikers' support, "because most people want their endorsement. They are very smart people."
Indeed, since the 2000 election, the Board of Supervisors has been strongly pro-bike. Bike to Work Day is now an institution -- last week's was the 11th. And, in spite of the drizzle that day, Mayor Gavin Newsom and four supervisors turned out to ride up Market Street at 7 am. "I was impressed that the mayor rode in the rain," Shahum says. "He really knew how to handle the slick tracks." It's a far cry -- for both the City government and the bicycling movement -- from the days when then-Mayor Willie Brown locked horns with Critical Mass.
But things are about to get even more interesting. The stage is set for San Francisco to become a clear nationwide leader in integrating the bicycle into city planning. The Bike Plan Update establishes a stunning goal for the City: By 2010, 10 percent of all trips around the City will be by bike, on a network that will include at least 20 major changes to city streets. Oliver Gajda, the City's assistant bicycle program manager (one of half a dozen people, all of whom bike to their job, who work in Peter Tannen's office), spearheaded the effort to assemble this massive document. "The mission is to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in San Francisco," he says. The City already has the highest ridership for U.S. cities of its size, but the 10 percent goal is a quintupling of the use of bikes. "It's going to take a lot of different players to reach the goal," says Gajda, who adds that the plan calls for a combination of new traffic engineering, including bike lanes, plus biker education and better enforcement of traffic regulations for both bikers and drivers.
The Land Use Committee's unanimous approval of the Bike Plan Update sets the stage for the full Board of Supervisors to consider incorporating the update into the City's General Plan later this month. If that happens, bikes will be a permanent part of San Francisco's every-five-year planning cycle, and biking in the City will have taken its biggest step yet. "The Bike Plan is very important," explains Ammiano. "Even without the Bicycle Coalition or a sympathetic board and mayor, once it is codified, it will stay around as official policy."
With the plan in place, cyclists will be that much closer to bringing the empowerment they first felt in Critical Mass onto the streets of San Francisco permanently.
But Ammiano cautions that we still have a long way to go with what he calls "America's love affair with the car."
Shahum concurs, and adds that the prior two generations of city planners were so enamoured of cars that they redesigned the City with only motorists in mind. "San Francisco used to be all sidewalk," she says. "Now, it's all parking."
But how far can this activism go? "You can wear out your welcome," warns Ammiano. "I've been around a long time, so I've seen things in cycles. Currently, bicyclists do have a lot of muscle. But, again, everything changes. You don't want to be too successful -- whatever that means."
But Shahum says that's just the problem -- cars have been too successful, and it's time for a correction. "We can't talk about balance until we've swung back toward solving some of the problems that have been caused over the past 50 years by giving this City over to cars," she says adamantly. "Projects like Potrero are important for bike safety and pedestrian safety, but they're also really important symbolically because we're taking back car space for other users. When those things are happening on their own, we won't need a Bicycle Coalition any more. We'd love to work ourselves out of business."
Critical Mass still takes place on the last Friday of each month, which happens to be this week, starting at Justin Herman Plaza, across the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building, at 5:30 p.m.
Gregory Dicum, author of Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air, writes about the natural world from San Francisco. A forester by training, Gregory has worked at the front lines of some of the world's most urgent environmental crises. For more of his work, see http://www.dicum.com/list.Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Support your local (subversive!) librarians!
We need your help and just a small amount of your time.
There is an initiative spearheaded by a group of alternative papers, which is planning an investigative report this summer to appear in as many as 150 papers nationwide. This report will examine the controversy surrounding government attempts to spy on citizens in libraries using provisions of theUSA PATRIOT Act, as well as other means.
Specifically, the story will focus on what extent the government is using library, bookseller, ISP, medical, banking and other records to spy on its own citizens since September 11th. Additionally, this investigation will look at the extent to which the government has done so in the past, pre-9/11.
To help in this investigation, the alternative press is seeking librarians who have had experience in the recent or distant past in which they have been contacted by government entities, formally or otherwise, for the purpose of attaining information on library users. These could be:
This project is very important to ALA. The story addresses a subject close to librarians' hearts-the privacy rights of our patrons. Please give us 10 minutes of your time and complete a survey being conducted by the Library Research Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which will ask, for example, whether you personally have been asked by a law enforcement agent for information about a user; if so, whether the officer was a federal, state, or local agent, and what type of information was requested. The survey is found athttp://lrcsurvey.lis.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/qwebcorporate.cgi?idx=JCV473. The deadline for completing the survey is July 22, 2004.
The gag order associated with the PATRIOT Act only applies to librarians who have actually been served with a court order issued under Section 215 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or a National Security Letter, Section 505. Librarians who are or have been contacted by law enforcement and other government entities in other circumstances are free to speak about those experiences, unless the court order specifically has a gag order attached.
I assure you that your answers will be collected on a secure server and deleted from both the server and its archives once analyzed. Responses will be analyzed only in the aggregate.
Our deepest thanks in advance for your assistance in helping us understand this increasingly complex issue. We intend to publicize the findings widely!
This survey should not be confused with the more extensive and precise ALA survey which will take place in the Fall.
Judith F. Krug
As you likely know, a Tent City was erected last weekend on the Block D land. This initiative was taken by a group of homeless people and local activists organized as the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty. The purpose is to build public awareness of the need for an increase in welfare rates, shelter allowances, and affordable housing in Kingston.
People staying in the Tent City have limited resources, and are therefore making a call to those of us who are in solidarity with their goals and more fortunately situated. I hope that you will consider doing what you can to help make sure the Tent City remains a safe and comfortable environment. Included below is a list of things that are needed.
COOK MEALS - although there are stoves, there is nowhere to store fresh fruits and veggies or perishables like meat, dairy, and eggs. if you'd like to give Tent City a real treat, a meal with those yummies in it would be much appreciated!
set-up - come by and ask if you can help set up a tarp, tent, or otherwise make yourself useful
for those out-of-towners, we are currently making arrangements for financial donations. email email@example.com for info on how to donate.
SUPPORT TENT CITY! RAISE THE RATES AND BUILD HOUSING NOW!
Come one come all to a 'stop Starbucks' INFORMATION PICKET on the corner of Wellington and Princess St.
Bring your kids, musical instruments, face paints, costumes, balloons, banners, pots and pans etc. This is an event for the whole family to say 'NO to STARBUCKS' and 'YES to LOCAL BUSINESS'!! We need the whole community to support locally owned and operated businesses and to stop multinational corporations from entering into Kingston's downtown core. This is a peaceful demonstration and information session about why Kingston should not support major multinational corporations taking over the downtown core, Starbucks in particular. There will be lots of information flyers to hand out to passers by so bring your friends! If you don't want to hand out flyers you can play music or sing songs or stand there in support of an anti-corporate Kingston.
To join Kingston's Stop Starbucks campaign please firstname.lastname@example.org .April 18, 2004
I am pleased and honoured to be here tonight to introduce Errol Morris’s Academy-Award winning documentary film, The Fog of War. I want to thank Cinema Kingston and those who support it, for providing the opportunity to view it. It is an important document, both as achievement in cinema, and psychology (as character study), its technical handling of images, its power of interpretation, and—connected--as a prism through which to view important developments in the twentieth century through one man’s eyes. The film helps us to understand why we are where we are, and even who we are.
I have some identification with Robert S. McNamara: Like him, I was born in San Francisco. Like him, I attended the University of California at Berkeley. Finally, my second car was a 1957 Ford Fairlane. I got that car a year after McNamara became president of Ford Motor Company, and I loved that car—neither knowing nor caring who McNamara was—more than any other possession during my teenage years. In the next decade, of course, as the Vietnam War escalated, everyone would come to know the name Robert McNamara. Many of us who opposed the war added expletives when we mentioned it.
Toward the end of his memoir, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995), McNamara writes two profoundly telling paragraphs—telling in the tension, if not contradiction, between them:
In sum, we should strive to create a world in which relations among nations would be based on the rule of law, a world in which national security would be supported by a system of collective security. The conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and peacekeeping functions necessary to accomplish these objectives would be performed by multilateral institutions, a reorganized and strengthened United Nations, together with new and expanded regional organizations….”
We must learn from Vietnam how to manage limited wars effectively. A major cause of the debacle there lay in our failure to establish an organization of top civilian and military officials capable of discerning the task. Over and over again…we failed to address fundamental issues; our failure to identify them was not recognized; and deep-seated disagreements among the president’s advisers about how to proceed were neither surfaced nor resolved.
McNamara is the Military-Industrial Complex incarnate. He is what President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech-writer Emmett John Hughes warned us against in Ike’s famous Farewell Address, and what the critical sociologist C. Wright Mills dissected five years earlier in his book. Defining American hubris is to recognize the potent amalgam—that sense of mission, moral duty, technological know-how, and the confidence that come what may we shall see the job through (Mark Twain called it “the calm confidence of a Christian holding four aces”)—which makes the Republic an entity in the world, but not of it. Here, in a benign reading, you will see, how altruism from a self-anointed occupant of the moral high ground prevented critical thought, self-criticism, and ways in which lessons drawn from past history that suggested not to do things were ignored in favour of dubious action after dubious action.
McNamara never learned. His book, In Retrospect reveals a quintessential, but lamentably American inability to admit error. For all his ability to be critical, and he can be critical, the undertaking in Vietnam remains sacrosanct. Novelist Graham Greene caught this problematic attitude well in his cautionary tale of early American activity in Vietnam, prior to the epochal battle of Dienbienphu, The Quiet American. Journalist Neil Sheehan developed a similar take, albeit from a different angle, in his brilliant biography of John Paul Vann, an American soldier-policymaker whose career covered most of the active U.S. years. Like McNamara, Vann never admitted mistake. Sheehan’s book, A Bright and Shining Lie, should be read alongside Greene’s volume, especially after viewing The Fog of War.
Hence there is a great deal of tension in the film, as McNamara speaks to the camera, the urgency of his explanations for actions taken by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations becomes the compelling force of the film. McNamara is clearly aware of the skepticism that will greet his attempt to justify American actions, and yet he still seeks to defend and explain them, and make them coherent. He will try to present himself as a moderate in the decision-making, offering Air Force General Curtis Lemay’s faith in military force, specifically the power of the bomb (recall Lemay’s proposal “to bomb North Vietnam back to the stone age”), as a foil against his own, more nuanced approach. Although McNamara admits to several errors, in the end—and he emphasizes the point—these were “human” errors.
In this key sense, although this film is about Vietnam, it is more about the ways in which developments in the 20th century eventually led the United States into the swamps and jungles of Southeast Asia. There was a quagmire there, but it was a quagmire of Washington’s own making. Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers clarify the point that there were no mistakes made in Washington, only appalling miscalculations. Ellsberg’s point—and Errol Morris underlines it—makes us see that “human” errors are the only kind of errors, and that responsibility awaits those who commit them.
I have not seen the film, only heard and read about it. So tonight I am with most of you—who have yet to see the film. [At Queen’s, were I a seminar student, I would now be asked or told to leave. For among our latter-day secularized quasi Scots-Presbyterian community, there is nothing worse than being unprepared for class.] Fortunately Brown University has produced a fine teacher-student manual to accompany the film. One of the focal points of the manual is the so-called set of “lessons” to be drawn from McNamara’s testimony. As you watch McNamara recount eleven of these lessons, think and reflect upon the following terms: appeasement, collective security, colonialism, containment, domino theory, empathy, ethics, just war, morality, power, proportionality, rationality, responsibility, unilateralism, values, war criminals. And this is the short list; the test will come both during and after the film. You will be moved by this cinematic achievement, whatever your politics.
May I conclude my introduction by noting that current American president George W. Bush (whom Heather Mallick of the Globe and Mail yesterday described well as a Chihuahua gnawing at the pant leg of history) is in his reading of the world not that different from the reading Robert McNamara offers here. Put another way, Bush—Cheney—Rumsfeld--Rove—especially Bush in that terrible Tuesday night press conference—comprise a logical extension of McNamara’s world view.
Where is Karl Marx when we need him, I heard someone ask. Well, we do have Michael Moore, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Ralph Nader, Jamie Swift, and, of course, Noam Chomsky, and now Al Franken. But we also have Errol Morris, demonstrating the power of film in letting Robert McNamara speak for himself.
Where have all the flowers gone, poet and folk singer Pete Seeger asked in another time. When will they ever learn? Why can’t the United States work to make the world a safer, rather than more dangerous place?April 8, 2004Kingston's Good Friday Vigil (Jamie Swift)
Op ed for Whig Thursday
Some of my best friends are Jews.
Most of us have heard that line. Its usually followed by some sort of qualifier. But....
This sort of genteel anti-Semitism came to mind last week when I was talking with Sister Pauline Lally about a way to mark this years Good Friday vigil at City Hall. The Sisters of Providence have traditionally made an extra effort to make their regular Friday vigil that much more special because it falls on one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar.
We were thinking that the recent controversy surrounding Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ offered a good opportunity. Why not point out that there is another way of commemorating Christ’s death and resurrection than by dwelling obsessively, as Gibson does, on the gruesome details of torture and death?
Every week the City Hall vigil keepers recite a short prayer that ends with the words "we stand in hope. Hope for a world free of hatred and violence."
Sister Pauline remarked that Good Friday is an occasion to remember Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. But the death of Jesus shouldn’t glorify suffering. It was meant to put an end to the suffering of the innocent. And the tradition of Catholic social teaching urges the faithful to think about ending cruelty of all kinds.
All of which reminded me of an article by Rabbi Michael Lerner that I had read just as the controversy over Gibson’s movie peaked a few weeks ago. Rabbi Lerner, the editor of the magazine Tikkun, had written that, once upon a time, it was commonplace for Christian teaching to claim that the Jews were responsible for killing Jesus.
Jews came to fear Easter, Lerner explained, because the retelling of the Crucifixion story often led to mob attacks on defenseless Jews who were blamed for having caused the suffering of Jesus.
Those days are now, thankfully, behind us. But we decided that because Good Friday so often coincides with Passover, this years Good Friday vigil would be an appropriate occasion to remember not just the events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection but the Passover story as well. After all, that story recalls the flight of the Jews from oppression and slavery in ancient Egypt. It would be a hopeful tale for people who stand in hope.
Then, on the eve of Passover a few days ago, came the firebombing of the oldest Jewish day school in the country. The attack on the library of Montreal’s United Talmud Torah elementary school reduced some of Judaism’s most sacred texts to a smouldering ruin. The book burners also torched Charlottes Web and the Dr. Seuss collection.
The vile assault brought condemnation from all quarters, particularly since it followed the recent desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Toronto and the attempted arson of a mosque in that city.
It was all the more reason to take the opportunity of the Good Friday vigil to reach out to the Jews and Moslems of Kingston with a message of hope and peace. So we made the calls and sent around the e-mails asking as many people as possible to come down to City Hall tomorrow to stand with us.
Our message will, as always, be one of hope. The vigil-keepers have a small explanatory handout that we give to office workers, tourists and other passers-by. It’s called Why do we stand here?
On the back are the words of Margaret Mead. Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that can.
So this Friday we have made a special effort to ask Kingston’s Jews, Moslems and indeed people from every faith community to join us in front of City Hall at noon. We will be standing beside the six-foot wooden cross that the Sisters of Providence bring along on Good Friday. It is adorned with newspaper headlines about hunger and homelessness, photographs and scriptural references such as one from Proverbs 31.8: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Of course, each faith tradition can come up with scriptural quotes and references that show a harsher view of the world, an intolerant people from each have always done so.
Some of my best friends ARE Jews. And so is my daughter. But that’s not why she and I will head down to City Hall tomorrow. We'll go because it is important to stand up against hatred whenever it pops up from the muck.
Kingston writer Jamie Swift is co-director of the Justice and Peace Office of the Sisters of Providence.KINGSTON'S GOOD FRIDAY VIGIL: NOT THE MEL GIBSON VERSION
The story of the crucifixion is one of the most powerful and the most contested -- in human history. Witness the controversies that have guaranteed huge audiences for the latest movie retelling of the events on Good Friday some 2000 years ago.
There are two sides to every story. In Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ the main emphasis is on cruelty and death. Here in Kingston the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul will mark Good Friday by emphasizing hope over suffering.
Good Friday is an occasion to remember Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, says Sister Pauline Lally. But the death of Jesus shouldn’t glorify suffering. It was meant to put an end to the suffering of the innocent. Our work for justice is part of a struggle to end to cruelty of all kinds.
The Sisters and their fellow vigil keepers have been commemorating Good Friday for the past nine years with a special silent vigil in solidarity with Kingston’s poor. It has been part of a weekly public statement of support for people affected by government cuts to the social safety net.
Good Friday often coincides with Passover, says Sister Pauline. That story recalls the flight of the Jews from oppression and slavery in ancient Egypt. But it’s also a joyous tale of liberation and deliverance.
Each week for the past nine years the vigil-keepers have stood at City Hall in silent solidarity with Kingston’s most vulnerable citizens. They hold signs like "Homes for the Homeless" and "Jobs with a Living Wage." On Good Friday, April 9, the only sign will be a six-foot cross used to symbolize the suffering of the poor.
"The Jewish Torah teaches you to love your neighbour as yourself", explains Sister Pauline. "The first Christian communities were inspired by Jesus to struggle so that there was not a needy person among them. Our cross does not symbolize the pain and suffering that Mel Gibson focuses on in his movie. We want to concentrate on liberating people from hatred and cruelty."
At a time of growing intolerance for other religions and their traditions, the Sisters of Providence and the vigil-keepers view the story of Christ’s death and resurrection from a standpoint of love and generosity. The public is invited to join the Justice and Peace Office of the Sisters of Providence on Good Friday in front of City Hall from 12:15 to 12:45.
For more information, contact Sister Pauline Lally at 544-4525 ext. 103.
Geoff has been honoured with not one but two teaching awards. He received the PHED 88 Teaching Award at a departmental ceremony on March 25, 2004. A short time later, he discovered that he had also been named this year's recipient of the Frank Knox Teaching Award. You can read the full story here. Congratulations Geoff!
Geoff thanks all of his students, colleagues at Queen's and throughout the world, especially those of you who pushed him as hard as they did. This gave him the kind of impetus necessary to do what he has to do. Merci beaucoup.
From the Queen's Journal: "The following quotations were pulled from the class surveys conducted for the two teachers who won the Frank Knox award. They are from anonymous students who lauded their professors for excellent teaching:"
"I have never seen a teacher (in any level of my schooling) so committed to engaging with their students. Every class, Dr. Smith checks in with students, asks them what they thought of a recent news event, or relevant documentary, or how school is going in general."
"Geoff Smith is someone who has inspired me to guide my own education and pursue my interests while maintaining a social conscience and questioning the world around me."
Just over a year ago, some 10 million people in over 600 cities around the world came together to oppose the proposed invasion of Iraq. Here in Kingston more than 800 marchers took to the streets, the biggest peace march in Kingston's history. Our concerns have been validated. The flimsy pretext turned out to be a threadbare curtain of lies. But we have no desire to sit back and utter a complacent "We told you so".
A poll released this week showed that an stunning 80 per cent of Canadians believe that we did the right thing by refusing to join the attack on Iraq. A poll in November last year showed that 69% Canadians oppose Canadian participation in the Nuclear Missile Defense programme. The rally this Saturday is called under the slogan "we still say no to war", but the message from the protest will also reiterate that Canadian's don't want their country to participate in dismantling the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty by joining the openly aggressive agenda of the militarization of space, through the NMD system.
The March 20th protest in Kingston will be one of more than 50 similar events across Canada.
The march in Kingston is being endorsed by Queen's Against War, Peace Kingston, OPIRG, Kingston District Labour Council, Ban Righ Centre, Kingston NDP, Kingston Greens, Polaris Institute, Queen's Palestinian Human Rights Association, Society of Graduate and Professional Students at Queen's, Council of Canadians (Kingston Chapter), Food-Not-Bombs...
Contact: QueensAgainstWar@hotmail.com (544-5652).