Panton leaves 'em panting
I was so impressed with Tim Perlich's cover story on Diana Panton (NOW, February 2-8) that I just had to hear her for myself. I wasn't disappointed. She's everything you said - one smouldering-hot jazz singing sensation. Thanks for making me a fan.
City's street smarts
In Dylan Reid's piece on design standards for new city streets (NOW, February 2-8), much is made of when wide is too wide and narrow is too narrow. There are good and valid reasons for both sides of that discussion.
Without getting into the pros and cons of the standards for new local roads, one important issue the article didn't discuss was the spread of private roads. They are everywhere, in the pre-war areas and the post-war expansions, north, east and west. This sort of privatization, particularly in the U.S., has resulted in gated communities that declare themselves off-limits. It's debatable where Toronto is headed in that direction, although the notion may not be that far-fetched.
Streets are first and foremost public places. That's a principle of city-building and an essential element of city council policy. This declaration of the role and function of streets as public places is a fundamental commitment to a democratic city. Will there be circumstances in which private driveways are a viable option? Of course. But the overridingly first principle is that streets should be public. And a public street is accessible, beautiful and safe.
Chief Planner, City of Toronto
Gee, great, a device that automatically stalls idling TTC bus engines after three minutes (NOW, February 2-8). But we have to wait until 2007 to get the benefit.
There's a thing called a hand - no batteries needed - that can shut off an engine right now. The problem is that many of these appear to be attached to brains that cry, "It's cold (or hot)" or "I'm waiting for someone" or Bell's favourite, "This is my office." Best of all is the "Fuck off, buddy. It's my gas." Yes, but it's my lungs, so turn the damn thing off already.
I'd like to thank NOW Magazine for its understanding of Wikipedia and the benefits of its structure (NOW, February 2-8). However, I was left wanting to edit Joseph Wilson's article in real-time. Mitch Kapor is the founder of both Lotus and Open Source Applications Foundation, but besides editing a little over a dozen articles, he has no connection to the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia was founded by Jimmy Wales, with assistance of two then-employees.
Canadian Communications Director, Wikimedia Foundation
Deft take on what's Left
Wayne Roberts is correct (NOW, February 2-8). The best way for progressives to get started on retooling is to figure out ways of getting across the "big picture" that aren't ever mentioned in the mainstream press.
Unfortunately, not every Canadian has access to NOW.
We need a national progressive newspaper or, failing that, a decent website that provides fairly slanted news instead of mere opinion pieces.
Jack of all blame games
Letter-writer david chan (NOW, February 2-8) touched on a widely held misconception that Jack Layton and the NDP brought down the Liberals and that it's the NDP's fault we now have a Harper neo-con government.
Let's be fair. The cause of this election rests squarely on the belligerent shoulders of the Liberals.
As to the Harper victory, it seems to me that people were not so much voting for neo-conservative values as they were in protest against the Liberal government, and so once again they can accept full responsibility for that.
The people who voted NDP did so with their hearts, out of hope, not out of fear. The good news was that a lot more people are doing that.
The good, sad and ugly
Bravo for some excellent cover ge of timely issues in this week's issue, especially Spoiled Ballots, by Larry Gordon (NOW, February 2-8), which highlights the growing need for electoral reform in Canada.
I would bet that many voters expected results similar to those presented by the author.
I mean, how on earth could the Green party get more than half a million votes and not send a single representative to Parliament? Sad. I also ate up your coverage of our changing role in Afghanistan, Christian Peacemaker Teams vigils for peace, the growing neo-con spin coming out of Washington (and Ottawa) and the need for better food for the homeless, indeed for everyone.
Thank you for taking a beaning (NOW, February 2-8) concerning the situation with our neighbours Energy Probe Green Beanery. However, I feel the impacts of coffee roasting on the lives of people suffering from MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) have been minimized.
MCS is a chronic condition that can have disastrous effects on people's health, provoking loss of jobs, homes, etc. Once a person is sensitized by initial exposures that trigger MCS, it is very difficult to resume normal living. My doctoral research on people with MCS in North America reveals that safe housing is a key issue, to be taken seriously by governments.
Other North American cities (Seattle, San Francisco, Montreal) have legislated in this area because of citizen complaints.
Don't abdicate, educate
Bairu Sium seems to feel that politicians and the Reverend Eugene Rivers are unjustly blaming black fathers for the ills of our community (NOW, February 2-8).
I would like to provide the following (U.S.-based) stats: children from fatherless homes account for 63 per cent of youth suicides, 71 per cent of pregnant teenagers, 90 per cent of all homeless and runaway children, 70 per cent of juveniles in state-operated institutions, 85 per cent of all children who exhibit behavioural disorders, 71 per cent of all high school dropouts, 75 per cent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centres and 85 per cent of all youths in prison.
No one is asking black men or black families to accept the blame for gun violence. We are only asking those involved and concerned to take a share of responsibility for saving this generation of youth.
I don't care what skin colour you are. Young people's actions are a reflection of their parents' behaviours and morals.
As a society, we need to do more to educate men about the important role they play in their children's lives so they don't see themselves as dispensable.
Black and white thinking
What I find interesting is the black-and-white thinking (pardon the pun) present throughout Bairu Sium's article. He dismisses Reverend Rivers and [the idea of] black fathers as the cause of gun violence out of hand (even though many in the black community support what Rivers had to say). So are black fathers responsible for the gun violence?
I ask you, who is responsible? The police? Social housing? The school system? Racism? Hiphop? Lack of youth programs? Well, yes and no, depending on whom you ask.
This is a complex problem, and so are the solutions. No one solution will eradicate the problem.
So how can Sium think that fatherlessness has not in some way contributed to gun violence?
If you examined the lives of 100 gang members without fathers, would the influence of a father in their lives have deterred any from this path?
If the Pope ran this country
Alan Young's column (NOW, January 26-February 1) states that although he supports same-sex marriage, he "fully respect(s) the right of the religious to act upon their beliefs." By "the religious," he means those who do not subscribe to his preferred religion - secular humanism.
But shouldn't someone who respects the religious rights of others advocate the retention of traditional marriage and the creation of a parallel institution to honour the beliefs of those adhering to humanist religions?
Instead, Young, revealing how in step he is with other religious fundamentalists, simply asserts the rightness of his own religion.
If the Pope were running this country and, while allowing humanists to practise their religion in private, insisted that all public discourse be in accordance with approved Catholic dogma, would Young consider his rights respected? He thinks non-humanists should when he proposes the same conditions for them.
Try a little tenderness
Ramon Ortez asks, "What do you do?" to keep "the other" interested in you (NOW, February 2-8)?
Try not taking her for granted. See if that works.
To those trying to cop a feel
This message is for the stranger who, lurching back and forth beside us at the recent Broken Social Scene show, thought he'd cop a feel of my unsuspecting gal friend. Although shocked, she managed to swipe his hand away from her rear.
Caught in the act, he lumbered forward without apologizing and spent the next few songs with a sheepish expression on his face, making sure not to look back at us glaring at him.
Eventually, he left the area, presumably either to paw other concert-going women or, more likely, retreat to the cave he'd crawled out of. Here's a tip for you, buddy: if you wouldn't pull shit like that on your mother or your sister, don't do it to the rest of us.