“Canadian Michael Jordan” named best high school player in U.S.; has questionable post-dunk behaviour
By Shanda Deziel - Monday, February 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
Stephen Harper gave a Twitter shout-out today to Canada’s Andrew Wiggins, the just-named winner…
Stephen Harper gave a Twitter shout-out today to Canada’s Andrew Wiggins, the just-named winner of the 2013 Naismith Trophy for Boy’s High School Player of the Year Award. Wiggins, who is from Thornhill, Ont., is currently in his senior year at Huntington Prep in Huntington, W. Va., and is a hot commodity down South.
The most sought-after player by colleges, the 18-year-old has narrowed it down to Florida State, Kentucky, UNC and Kansas—and is said to be leaning toward Florida State. It’s also predicted that he’ll be the No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2014.
The son of a former NBA player and a Canadian Olympic sprinter, Wiggins has been described by Sports Illustrated as the “first pre-ordained Canadian basketball star,” whose salary and endorsements could add up to about $400 million.
Recently, there’s been footage circulating of his “latest, greatest” dunk during a game. But watch for his post-dunk behaviour of staring down his opponent—that there, is against the NBA rules.
By Shanda Deziel - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 6:23 PM - 0 Comments
Videos of Harry in Afghanistan give clear picture of young prince
Now that Prince Harry’s Afghanistan deployment is over, video footage from Afghanistan is flowing in. TV crews had limited access to the Prince during his stint at Camp Bastion—and agreed to air the footage only after the deployment was over. It was an agreement made so that the media wouldn’t speculate on his whereabouts as they did during his last deployment, forcing him home early.
During the interviews the helicopter co-pilot gunner speaks of how he’s looking forward to being an uncle, about the unfortunate naked partying incident in Las Vegas, about killing Taliban, and gives tours of his barracks. Throughout though, his main concern seems to be getting across his understandable vexation with the media and his and his family’s lack of privacy:
“I’ve seen it too many times that someone behind a desk writes something, a story about someone that can end up persuading the whole nation on people’s opinions of that individual….Hopefully no one actually believes what they read. All it does is upset me and anger me that people can get away with writing the stuff they do, not just about me but about everybody.”
On the Vegas incident: “Yes, people might look at it going, ‘he was letting off steam. It’s all understandable now, he was going off to Afghanistan.’ But the papers knew I was going off to Afghanistan. The way that I was treated from them I didn’t think was acceptable.” (BBC)
On Kate’s pregnancy: “It was very unfortunate they had to publicize it when they did, but that’s just the media for you. I only hope that she and him, but mainly Catherine get the necessary protection to allow her, as a mother-to-be, to enjoy the privacy that that comes with. I had a chat to them, I didn’t send a letter of congratulations like most of the papers…how any of the papers know the relationship between myself and my sister-in-law is quite remarkable. But they’re wrong as always.” (BBC)
“I’m out here doing a job and I really enjoy it. I never wanted you guys to be out here, but there was an agreement made to invite you out—on the deal that you the media didn’t speculate before my deployment. That’s the only reason you guys are out here. It’s not a media stunt or nothing like that.” (BBC)
By Shanda Deziel - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 5:21 PM - 0 Comments
There’s more evidence that the flu vaccine may be the way to go, as…
There’s more evidence that the flu vaccine may be the way to go, as a New York Times blog today reports that some researchers believe that the nasal spray variety specifically will decrease the chance of ear infections in children.
While ear infections can happen during any season, they seem to spike during the cold and flu season. Infections of the nose or sinus can travel through the upper respiratory tract, which is directly linked to the middle ear.
Most children will experience at least one ear infection by the age of 8, and 25 per cent have chronic infections.
In a study of 24,000 children between the ages of six months and seven years, cases of ear infections were dramatically less in the children who received the FluMist vaccine over the placebo. And of the children who still contracted the flu, the ones who had taken FluMist had fewer ear infections.
This type of nasal spray vaccine, which was approved in Canada two years ago, seems to be more effective in children than the standard shot.
Of course, the flu vaccine isn’t just for kids. After all, new research shows that Canadians can cut their risk of getting sick enough for medical attention by getting the flu shot.
By Shanda Deziel - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:13 PM - 0 Comments
The sad and inspirational story that turned out to be a hoax
Did Notre Dame college football star Manti Te’o make up a girlfriend, and kill her off—making his rise to stardom all the more inspirational? Or was it a hoax perpetrated upon him? That’s the question of the moment, thanks to a surprising investigation by Deadspin.
In what was described as a truly heartbreaking and incredible story, Te’o played two sensational games three days after the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and girlfriend, Lennay Kekua. In the first, against Michigan State, he made 12 tackles and recovered a fumble in a 20-3 victory. And a week later, on the day of Kekua’s funeral, Te’o made two interceptions in a 13-6 victory over Michigan.
Both Te’o's relationship and mourning for the Kekua was well publicized and set Te’o out as a special candidate for the Heisman trophy.
By Scaachi Koul - Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 1:04 PM - 0 Comments
Summer camp is nothing compared to this: hundreds of kids training for months on…
Summer camp is nothing compared to this: hundreds of kids training for months on end just for the opportunity to fetch balls for Rafael Nadal.
Every year, 1,000 kids from schools in and around London train for four months to be chosen for one of the ball girl and boy positions at Wimbledon, which ends this week. Of that pool, only 250 proceed—after a gruelling schedule of physical training and constant assessment. They even sit for multiple-choice exams, with head-scratchers like these: “If the centre has a ball at the end of the point what should he/she do first?”
It’s a lot of pressure for the kids, aged 13 to 18, but they’re essential. Ball kids “add to the prestige of it,” says Ben Makarenko, Tennis Canada’s marketing and operations manager. “No one wants to see Roger Federer pick up his ball.” Makarenko says the kids do throwing, catching, running and agility drills, and at Wimbledon, are trained to roll—not bounce—the balls to players. “There is a science to it,” he says.
By Shanda Deziel - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 4:40 PM - 0 Comments
Book by Patricia Ellis Herr
Herr starts off her non-fiction adventure with an anecdote bound to stir up controversy. She’s hiking alone with her two daughters, five-year-old Alex and three-year-old Sage, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. When a lightning storm hits, Herr sends Alex running for cover and drops her backpack to carry Sage to safety. Alex gets lost for a brief period of time. After they’re reunited and protected by trees, Herr returns for the backpack, leaving her daughters alone for what seems like an eternity. In Herr’s mind the lesson is not to cool it on the hiking until the kids are older, or maybe bring another adult next time (or at the very least leave the three-year-old behind)—but rather that “some things will always be beyond your control.”
Many have questioned Herr’s parenting choices in light of the fact that she and her husband, Hugh, allowed five-year-old Alex to climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s White Mountains that are over 4,000 feet high—so she could become one of the youngest members of the Four Thousand Footer Club, an Appalachian Mountain Club organization.
After getting to know Alex, an intelligent child with self-preservation skills and boundless energy, most will certainly not judge Herr but rather applaud her for recognizing this was something her eldest daughter could and wanted to do. But while Alex can hold her own in dangerous situations, the instances that seem to border on reckless child endangerment concern Alex’s sister. Herr acknowledges that Sage’s enthusiasm for hiking “is counterfeit”—yet mom continues to drag her up mountains. On one trip, Herr had to carry Sage in chest-deep snow.
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM - 0 Comments
The host of her own nightly news show on MSNBC, Maddow is one of the highest-profile liberal political commentators (and gay women) in the U.S. That doesn’t mean her low-key but devastating critique of her country’s runaway military machine won’t find traction on the right. For one thing, she opens her argument disarmingly, by playing a card dear to Tea Party hearts, an appeal to the founding fathers. Maddow quotes James Madison on why the framers of the U.S. constitution insisted on vesting the power to declare war in Congress rather than in the presidency: “The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it.”
Since then, Maddow writes, America has moved from being a state that could not wage serious or long-term war without congressional debate and broad public support—in the form of willing citizen-soldiers and willing taxpayers—to one in which the White House is effectively free to run deficit-financed, open-ended conflicts in foreign lands waged by a professional military and, increasingly, private contractors.
The key factor, she argues, is the almost complete non-involvement of Americans as a whole—less than one per cent of the adult population has been required to wage two of the country’s longest wars. No matter how many deployments troops go through, America as a whole is untouched by war. Without the ability—or the desire—to draft soldiers, the high command simply extends combat tours from 12 to 15 months, despite its awareness of the toll on physical and mental health: since 9/11, the U.S. Army has lost more soldiers to suicide than to enemy fire in Afghanistan. (Drift went to press before Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, on his fourth combat tour, allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians.) Deep patriotism, shock and fear after 9/11 and what Maddow calls “congressional chickenshittery” have all played a role in expanding presidential war-making power, but none of that would have prevailed if America hadn’t drifted so far from the republican ideal of citizen-soldiers.
By Julia McKinnell - Monday, April 2, 2012 at 1:37 AM - 0 Comments
In the nuclear age, a radiation detector, and an app to run it are within your reach
Take one empty box of Frisk mints, some aluminum foil or a copper coin, eight photodiodes and free assembly instructions. Power it up with a nine-volt battery and a new app from a group of concerned scientists and engineers, and you’ve got yourself a Geiger counter.
Radiation Watch is a Japanese non-profit organization formed by volunteers in the wake of the tsunami that caused the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant a year ago. Its mission is to make information about radiation levels as cheap and easy as knowing the time. The group’s YouTube video shows a woman with a cellphone, with a toddler on her lap: “A mother has no way of knowing for sure whether the park nearby is safe for her child to play in,” says the voiceover. After Fukushima, hand-held Geiger counters were too expensive for most people to buy while cheaper models sold out.
Atley Jonas, a Lethbridge, Alta.-born ex-pat living in Yamanashi, bought a Geiger counter kit and the iPhone app, the Pocket Geiger Counter Pro, as a “sanity check,” he said in an email. “As you know, official sources haven’t always been forthcoming with information, and the accuracy has also been disputed.” Jonas takes his Geiger counter to public parks and the woods; he’s also taken it to Tokyo, about 200 km south of Fukushima, where radiation levels were higher than home.
By Shanda Deziel - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Just because the hat fits doesn’t mean you should wear it
Canadians face the same dilemma every winter: finding a hat that’s warm and looks good. This season, the Elmer Fudd-style fur-lined trapper hat is having a moment, and there are more boxy Russian faux-fur hats than usual. But stylists and designers agree the toque is the best choice. “Everyone can wear it,” says Vancouver hat designer Claudia Schulz, “people of all ages. And the price is right.”
But just because everyone can wear it doesn’t mean they should. Take the novelty toque. “I see adults walking down the street in what is clearly an animal-face hat for a kid and I’m shocked,” says Schulz, “You shouldn’t cheap out—buy a proper hat.”
Stacy Hall, owner of Toque Town on Granville Island in Vancouver, has seen a steady stream of customers interested in the Mohawk toque, which looks like a knit horse’s mane, and the Pook Toque, made of two grey wool socks that flop around like bunny ears, not to mention Knitwits, a line of toques with earflaps that comes in more than 30 styles including zebra, cow, penguin, and yeti monster. Knitwits have been very popular with tweens, university students and far too many adults. “If rocking a panda hat with pom-poms at 38 makes you feel good,” says Vancouver stylist Amy Lu, “then go for it. Having said that, it might not be appropriate if you are looking for a date or a place of employment.” The novelty toques have been around for a few years, but Hall feels they are reaching a saturation point.
By Shanda Deziel - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 11:50 AM - 6 Comments
One of the fathers of the natural childbirth movement says yes
It may have been the year’s most anticipated birth—and it certainly was the most sensational. On Oct. 25, New York performance artist Marni Kotak delivered a baby boy in a Brooklyn gallery in front of an audience of 20. As worldwide press inundated the gallery for information, Kotak retreated from the spotlight. But a week later she and baby Ajax were back in the gallery talking to visitors and finishing the exhibit she called “The Birth of Baby X”—now complete with the placenta, the bloody pillow and sheets and, of course, the video. Canada had its own public childbirth in October, when Ottawa chiropractor Nancy Salgueiro live-streamed the home birth of her third child over the Internet and 2,500 people watched. Nothing, it seems, is sacred anymore, not even the once very private act of pushing out a baby. And now a retired French obstetrician says stunts like these have not only perverted the idea of natural childbirth, but are actually setting women up for dangerous births.
“We are at the present time—in regard to the history of childbirth—at the bottom of the abyss,” says Michel Odent, who’s been a part of over 15,000 hospital births and is widely considered to be one of the fathers of the natural childbirth movement, having introduced water births in the 1970s. And he blames it on all the people in the room—medical staff, partners, family members, doulas and especially cameras. “People look at [birth] videos and miss the important point—that during childbirth the most basic need of a labouring woman is not to feel observed.”
The 81-year-old doctor describes birth as an “involuntary process” that cannot be helped. So all the support people are making it more difficult for the labouring woman to do it on her own. Fetal monitors, cameras, people talking and other stimuli engage the thinking part of her brain, the neocortex, which needs to be shut off in order for the woman to produce the hormones needed to have a baby quickly and easily. Instead, the majority of women experience long, painful labours and are fed synthetic forms of the “love hormone” oxytocin.
By Shanda Deziel - Friday, October 21, 2011 at 8:03 AM - 4 Comments
Pay, benefits and pension may be handcuffing public servants to their careers
Great pay, gold-plated pensions and ironclad job security, aren’t, it turns out, as hot as they sound. Canada’s public servants are more dissatisfied, on a long list of criteria—among them, motivation, recognition, career opportunities and leadership—than all other employment sectors, including the private sector, not-for-profit organizations and publicly traded companies, according to Aon-Hewitt. “It doesn’t surprise me,” says David Eaves, a Vancouver public policy expert and consultant on issues concerning the civil service. “You can be making good money, but if you feel you are making good money filling a hole you had to dig—that can actually be really frustrating.”
Only 40 per cent of public servants, for example, agree with the statement: “The way we manage performance here enables me to contribute as much as possible to our organization’s success,” compared to 58 per cent for private sector workers; and just 46 per cent believe “work processes in place allow me to be as productive as possible,” compared to 59 per cent for the not-for-profit sector. It’s a networked world now, says Eaves, but public servants are stuck in a rigid, hierarchal structure, requiring three levels of approvals for a single meeting. And when it comes to resources, he adds, the tools many use for sharing information in the private sector—Google Docs, Twitter, SurveyMonkey—are blocked. “You have an entire generation of public servants who are now more effective at accomplishing jobs in their personal life than in their professional life.”
Eaves believes that pay, benefits and pension end up handcuffing public servants to careers where they lack impact and recognition. “If you were the mail person in a law firm or newspaper and you had a killer idea,” says Eaves, it takes one to five days to share that idea with the managing partner, or editor. “But for a policy analyst to get his killer idea to the deputy minister or the minister,” he says, it takes “months to never.”
By Shanda Deziel - Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 2:43 PM - 0 Comments
Here’s evidence that Javier Bardem may be the best actor around, period
If you’re looking for subtlety, you won’t find it the films of Mexican filmmaker director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel). But you probably won’t find a more powerful performance by an actor this year than the one given by Javier Bardem, who won the Best Actor award in Cannes for his bravura turn in this visceral melodrama. On the page, the narrative might seem over-ripe, but the cinematography and editing are so breathtakingly good it comes across as pure verité. Bardem stars as a former drug dealer in Barcelona who brokers black-market jobs for illegal Chinese immigrants while struggling to contain his bi-polar prostitute girlfriend and come to terms with his own life-threatening illness. Us usual, Iñárritu loads up the plot and pathos, which may aggravate the sensibilities of more refined cinephiles, but Bardem’s brilliance and the raw frisson of the filmmaking make Biutiful a must-see.
Biutiful premieres at TIFF on September 10, with an additional screening September 11
By Shanda Deziel - Friday, August 13, 2010 at 8:41 AM - 0 Comments
A new film puts the lie to her reputation as a red-carpet joke
“I’m hot again,” says Joan Rivers. That explains her recent guest appearance on David Letterman, after a self-described ban from late night television since the late ’80s. It’s why the current comedy issue of GQ celebrates her jokes alongside A-list comics Tracy Morgan and Zach Galifianakis. And it’s why people are approaching her on the streets of New York and treating her like a movie star—rather than a C-list TV personality. “I feel like Angelina Jolie,” quips the 77-year-old. “I want to hire six kids.”
It’s all thanks to a new, critically acclaimed documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, which opens in Toronto and Montreal Aug. 13 and Vancouver Aug. 20. Two filmmakers, better known for tackling subjects like genocide and wrongful convictions, followed the hard-working comedian for just over a year, as she pounded the pavement with comedy club gigs, home-shopping-channel duties, and any reality show that would have her—all with the hopes of clawing back the career she once had.
By Shanda Deziel - Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 11:38 AM - 0 Comments
A lovely day for a wedding, even if the town was expecting a few more famous faces
At 7:23 pm on Saturday, Bill and Hillary Clinton released an email stating: “Ms. Clinton was now married to Marc Mezvinsky. We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family.” The town of Rhinebeck, N.Y., had been taken over with security, reporters and onlookers, but not as many bold names as expected—no Seinfeld, Oprah or Barbra Streisand, as expected. The teens in town were left to chase former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for an autograph. And Ted Danson apologized for being the most recognizable face. The ceremony itself was interfaith, as Clinton is Methodist and Mezvinsky is Jewish. And the cake was gluten-free.
By Shanda Deziel - Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 11:19 AM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May taps Georges Laraque to drum up support in Quebec
Former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque was named one of two Green Party deputy leaders this weekend (the other is Adriane Carr). After being let go from the team earlier this year, the 33-year-old has focused on drumming up aid for his homeland of Haiti and environmental causes—he’s a dedicated vegan and animal rights activist. But his work with the Green Party will only go so far, as Laraque says he has no plans to run for federal office at the moment.
By Shanda Deziel - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 12:12 PM - 0 Comments
Study says students aren’t as web savvy as they think
In a new study, 102 students from the University of Illinois in Chicago sat at computers and performed information-retrieving tasks, while videos recorded their activity on screen. Researchers found that what matters to students when tracking down info isn’t the quality of the site, but where it ranks on a brand-name search engines page, like Google or Yahoo or AOL. “Just because younger people grew up with the Web doesn’t mean they’re universally savvy with it,” said Eszter Hargittai, one of the study’s researchers from Northwestern University. “Educators should show specific websites in class and talk about why a source is or isn’t credible.”
By Shanda Deziel - Friday, June 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM - 10 Comments
Braidwood calls it “the story of shameful conduct by a few officers”
The public inquiry into the 2007 death by Tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was released today. Commissioner Thomas Braidwood detailed the circumstances of Dziekanski’s death in his second report on the incident, and found that the Mountie who Tasered Dziekanski was not justified in using his weapon and that the two other officers involved offered “unbelievable after-the-fact rationalizations” to explain the incident. Braidwood described the situation as “the story of shameful conduct by a few officers”, which should not reflect on thousands of other Mounties. The inquiry was called following the October 2007 death of Dziekanski, 40, who was stunned five times at the Vancouver International Airport. Someone in the crowd filmed the incident, prompting an international outcry. Since the death, the RCMP changed its Taser policies. The inquiry report makes eight recommendations, including an independent body to investigate the B.C. Police.
By Shanda Deziel - Monday, June 7, 2010 at 12:26 PM - 2 Comments
Clues indicate primitive aliens could be there, they say
Researchers from the NASA space agency say that data from their Cassini probe suggest primitive aliens could be living on Titan, the only moon around Jupiter with a dense atmosphere, the Telegraph reports. Data suggests life forms are breathing in this atmosphere and feeding on fuel on the surface, although the moon is too cold to support liquid water. In one study, researchers show that hydrogen gas in the atmosphere disappears from the surface, suggesting alien forms could be breathing it in. The second paper concludes there’s a lack of the chemical on the moon’s surface, concluding it may have been consumed by life. While there could be other explanations for the findings, “We suggested hydrogen consumption because it’s the obvious gas for life to consume on Titan, similar to the way we consume oxygen on Earth,” said lead researcher Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at Nasa Ames Research Centre.
By Shanda Deziel - Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 6:03 PM - 3 Comments
Crazed ex-student held secretary hostage
A man has been taken into custody after holding a woman hostage at the Calgary school he used to attend. According to police, the secretary of A.E. Cross School, “a woman in her mid-’40s,” was taken hostage in an office by a 25 year-old man who used to be a student at the school, and was demanding to see the principal about an injury he supposedly suffered when he attended the school. There was one other person in the office, a 13 year-old boy who currently attends the school; he managed to call the police and take refuge in an interior office, without being seen by the hostage-taker.
By Shanda Deziel - Friday, February 19, 2010 at 11:57 PM - 1 Comment
Party in Whistler with a big win at the sliding centre
Jon Montgomery, 30, a car salesman and auctioneer from Russell, Man., won the men’s skeleton in a tight battle against Latvia’s Martins Dukurs, who took silver. Canada’s other medal hopeful Jeff Pain placed 9th, racing with a torn oblique muscle. Another Canadian athlete, Mike Douglas, missed the deadline for having his sled’s runner blades exposed 45 minutes before competition—and he was disqualified from the race before his third run.
By Shanda Deziel - Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 12:46 AM - 3 Comments
Five Canadian athletes took part in the cauldron lighting, complete with technical difficulties
In the end, the Olympic cauldron was [meant to be] lit by five of Canada’s most acclaimed athletes. Rick Hansen brought it into the building, passed it to Catriona LeMay Doan, who passed it to Steve Nash, who passed it to Nancy Greene Raine who ran it to Wayne Gretzky. The culmination of the torch’s 106-day pan-Canadian journey was not without its hitches, as one of the cauldron pieces in BC Place didn’t rise up from the floor, leaving LeMay Doane with nothing to light. After the indoor ceremony, Gretzky ran the torch outside and was driven in the back of a pickup truck to the outdoor cauldron on the waterfront. In the pouring rain, Gretzky smiled at the screaming pedestrians running alongside his ride through the Vancouver streets.