By macleans.ca - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 0 Comments
Blacklists, short-haul flights, pay gaps and animals in the Gospels
Justice and common sense
In a rare show of compassion, a Pakistani court ended the prosecution of a Christian teen charged with blasphemy for allegedly burning a textbook used to teach the Quran. Rimsha Masih, an impoverished sweeper with Down syndrome, may have been the victim of dubious accusations instigated by a local cleric, the court found. High Court Justice Iqbal Hameed Ur Rahman urged caution in prosecutions under the country’s controversial blasphemy law and condemned those who make false accusations, sometimes used as a vendetta against non-Muslims. An association of Muslim clerics welcomed the ruling as “a milestone in the history of Pakistan.”
It’ll make one heck of a movie
The Hollywood Reporter laid bare its role in the Communist blacklist that ruined lives and careers in the 1950s. The Reporter’s late founder, Billy Wilkerson, branded actors, writers and directors as Commies in a “maniacal quest to annihilate the studio owners” who thwarted his own dreams of movie production, writes his son, W.R. Wilkerson III, who offered “sincerest apologies and deepest regrets to those who were victimized by this unfortunate incident.” Better late than never.
Bring on the price war
The sky-high price of domestic short-haul flights may nosedive next year as WestJet’s new Encore regional carrier squares off against rival Air Canada Express. WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky predicts price drops of up to 50 per cent on some routes under 500 km. The service, he said, will “liberate Canadians from the high cost of air travel in smaller communities.” He’s also considering removing back-of-seat video screens as a saving, and beaming entertainment to passengers’ tablet devices. You might want to spend those savings on an iPad. Continue…
By Anne Kingston - Monday, November 12, 2012 at 10:52 AM - 0 Comments
The new health-wealth paradox
The richer you are, the healthier you are. That maxim is hammered home in studies conducted by everyone from the World Health Organization to StatsCan, which reveal that income is the greatest determinant of health. Affluence and education are routinely linked to longevity and better fitness, nutrition and quality of medical care. As a medical truism, it’s right up there with “women are healthier than men,” based on the understanding that women visit the doctor more, are more concerned with nutrition and fitness, and are less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviour.
It would follow, then, that women who earn the most should be, and feel, healthiest of all. But that arithmetic may not add up. Women who shatter the glass ceiling are encountering a new gender gap, one that can affect their health in a one-two punch. First, they get equal access to the stress-related illnesses and habits that make male CEOs prime coronary candidates. Then, throw in a second, exacerbating factor: that pernicious “work-life” balancing act that has women, far more than men, contorting themselves like Cirque du Soleil performers to meet the demands of work and home. The upshot is a new female wealth-health paradox: earning enough to afford a trainer, an acupuncturist and a nutritionist, but not having the time to go to them.
A new Australian study, in fact, reveals that female executives don’t even have time to go to the doctor. The survey of close to 400 chief financial officers released last month by research firm East & Partners found most male respondents—77 per cent—had visited their doctor in the past year; only 34.8 per cent of women had. More astounding: 43.2 per cent of female CFOs couldn’t recall the last time they had. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 1:51 PM - 0 Comments
Hanna Rosin in conversation with Brian Bethune
Hanna Rosin, an award-winning American journalist, began investigating the developed world’s new socio-economic order in 2009, after the Great Recession hit the U.S. and the year female employment began to outstrip that of men. Rosin gathered the various strands of profound change—women dominating higher education and the fastest-growing economic sectors, the destruction of traditional middle-class marriage, and even women’s increasing aggression and violence—into her new book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women.
Q: More than one commentator has pointed out the apparently doom-laden symbolism of a woman chronicling the decline of men; “Like a man writing The Feminine Mystique,” noted one. What do you think?
A: Despite the title, the book is really more about the rise of women than the end of men. And maybe men don’t do that endless self-reflection and temperature-taking that women do. And they don’t do gender social movements all that enthusiastically either.
Q: It’s not news that the old physical economy with its traditionally male jobs is passing or that women are flourishing in the new one. What is news is the mounting evidence of the effects of those changes.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM - 0 Comments
New research on pain, medical devices and even PMS reveals big holes in our knowledge of the female body.
In 2004, Barbara Colbourn began experiencing pain in her legs when walking. The 61-year-old London, Ont., office manager tried to ignore the discomfort at first. Six months later, she went to her doctor, who diagnosed peripheral artery disease, or PAD. Colbourn had never heard of it—and was shocked to learn it was a chronic disease caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, of the legs, feet or arms that puts people at higher risk of stroke, heart attack and death. When she was asked to participate in a 24-week international treatment trial organized by London clinical trials nurse Marge Lovell, a PAD awareness advocate, she agreed. Like many women over 60, Colbourn’s health concerns were fixated on breast cancer and heart disease. “Hardening of the arteries was something my grandma had,” she says.
Now 69, Colbourn takes baby aspirin and a cholesterol-lowering drug and exercises daily to prevent the disease’s progression and stave off invasive surgery. There were warning signs she ignored, she says. She had to give up curling in her 50s because her feet were always cold. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think it could be serious.” Just how serious was made clear in a study in the January 2012 American Heart Association journal Circulation: it called PAD an unsung “pandemic” that afflicts more women than men, contrary to previous assumptions. Research in women has lagged behind, says cardiologist Alan Hirsch, a professor at the University of Minnesota medical school who chaired the study. Just as heart disease manifests itself differently in women, so does PAD, says Hirsch, whose study revealed that women with PAD, which afflicts some 800,000 Canadians, are more likely than men to have a limb amputated.
Diagnosed by a simple test that compares arm blood pressure to leg blood pressure, PAD is the “most common, deadly and costly cardiovascular disease that the public hasn’t heard of,” says Hirsch; in 90 per cent of cases, it’s asymptomatic. That so few women have heard of PAD doesn’t surprise Hirsch, who says women have been routinely overlooked in vascular research: “It is embarrassing how many hypertension, lipid studies, and stent trials were done with low [female] enrolment. Every vascular disease I know of except aortic aneurysm is more common in women—venous diseases, lymphedema, PAD—yet we don’t know why and we don’t talk about it.”
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
It’s seems to be a truth universally acknowledged in the scientific literature that women are the sadder sex. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer depression, and recent reports out of Canada add to the body of evidence on the collective female funk. According to Public Health Agency of Canada researchers, suicide rates are on the rise among teenage girls while they are dropping among young men. Another recent survey of 26,000 students across Canada found a higher prevalence of “emotional problems” among girls. In particular, while girls and boys reported feelings of depression at about the same rate in grade six, by grade 10, an inequality emerges: Thirty-eight per cent of girls reported feeling blue on a weekly basis, compared to 25 per cent of boys.
As one epidemiologist summed it up for Science-ish, “There is a saying among researchers at the population level: ‘Women live longer but they suffer more.’”
Theories about this gender gap in depression abound. There’s the biological explanation: Some say swinging sex hormones during a woman’s “window of vulnerability”—or her reproductive years—explain why females are twice as likely as males to develop depression starting around puberty. As this review put it, “Women are at a particularly high risk for depression during periods of hormonal fluctuation, such as during the premenstrual period, pregnancy, the postpartum period, the transition to menopause, and the early postmenopausal years.”
By John Intini - Monday, October 18, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
The social and economic consequences of letting boys fall behind
The trick to having a baby girl, according to researchers in the Netherlands, is a calcium- and magnesium-rich diet, full of hard cheese, rhubarb, spinach, canned salmon and tofu. It’s also important, claim the authors of the study, for women to steer clear of salty foods, potatoes and bananas. Though the study was based on a small sample, it wouldn’t be a shock if the results prompted prospective parents to stock their fridges accordingly.
As Robert Bly and others prophesied in the 1990s, when they retreated to the woods to beat drums and exhort men to embrace their inner caveman, the modern male is in danger of losing his way. The process apparently begins early. On average, boys earn lower marks, study less, and are more likely to repeat a grade than girls. Young men are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to graduate university than young women. And while they still dominate in engineering and computer science, men are outnumbered in most professional programs, including law and medicine.
By selley - Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: …Vaughn Palmer and Chantal Hébert on carbon taxes; Dan Gardner on solving the
What ever happened to loyalty?
The Liberals are fuming about their leader’s carbon tax, the Dippers about their leader’s position on the “Durban II” conference. Meanwhile, at stately Harper Manor, all is quiet.
Forget the Liberal caucus and Chevy Suburban owners, says the Toronto Star‘s Chantal Hébert. The real fight Stéphane Dion will face over his carbon tax may be with the Premiers—or three of them anyway. Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty has enough to deal with just with soaring oil prices, thank you very much, without the feds piling on; British Columbia’s Gordon Campbell quite enjoys the idea of redistributing his own carbon tax revenues; and Quebec’s Jean Charest faces the prospect of the federal tax coming down on top of his own. “Leading economist” Tom Courchene says it’s high time the federal government took the reins, Hébert notes, but even he calls carbon taxation “the most complex constellation of policies ever contemplated in Canada.”
More bad news for Dion: the Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer reports that 59 per cent of granola-munching, earth-smooching British Columbians are now opposed to Campbell’s carbon tax. And though voters don’t seem willing to take it out on his government quite yet, communications on the file has been abysmal. “By focusing public attention on the [$100] ‘climate dividend‘” instead of the offsetting tax shifts, Palmer argues, “the Liberals may well have managed the exceptional feat of reducing income taxes … without getting credit for doing so.” And amidst record-high gas prices, the NDP are rolling out an “axe the tax” campaign—something Campbell should consider, Palmer suggests.