By macleans.ca - Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 0 Comments
Another way of looking at the week
In sickness and in citizenship
Ottawa is cracking down on the use of fake marriages as a means of gaining Canadian citizenship. New rules require newlyweds with no children to stay in a relationship for two years before foreign spouses get permanent resident status. If they fail to “cohabit in a conjugal relationship” for the 24-month period, they will face deportation. It’s a sensible measure that doesn’t put any undue hardship on legitimate applicants. Fraudsters, however, will now be less inclined to seduce Canadians into sham relationships—faking a happy marriage for two years is no easy feat.
Never too late
A major study of more than one million U.K. women shows that quitting smoking early enough in life can erase most of the fatal side effects. Writing in the journal The Lancet, researchers report that kicking the habit before the age of 40 avoids more than 90 per cent of the excess mortality from smoking and stopping before 30 avoids more than 97 per cent. That’s no reason, of course, for young people to keep smoking: death rates for all smokers are still higher overall. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Friday, December 23, 2011 at 8:14 AM - 0 Comments
Hilarity! Both of the metropolitan broadsheets in Alberta are throwing a tantrum about the Mint’s plans to dump the Famous Five feminists of the 1920s from the $50 bill and replace them with a picture of an icebreaker. Like most pundits who take a thwack at the occasional issue of personages and emblems on our currency, the authors of these editorials act like they have never been east of Flin Flon.
I ask you to sincerely disregard the epic loathsomeness of the Famous Five—that quintet of unsmiling prohibitionists, pacifists, and white supremacists, at least three of whom bear direct personal responsibility for a four-decade regime of sexual sterilization of the “unfit” in Alberta. Leave aside, too, the fact that women would obviously have been admitted to the Senate soon enough if there had never been a Persons Case. No, I ask you merely to look at the people other countries put on their paper currency. With the exception of Australia, which shares our fetish for early female politicians utterly unknown elsewhere, you’ll find they mostly like to put world-historical figures on there. Japan honours Noguchi, who discovered the syphilis spirochete. England honours Darwin and Adam Smith. Sweden remembers Linnaeus and Jenny Lind. New Zealand commemorates Edmund Hillary and Ernest Rutherford. Continue…
By Sarmishta Subramanian - Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Controversial kids’ author Enid Blyton is in the news again for a new book starring her famous wooden toy
Britain’s librarians must have been frowning last summer when results of a nationwide poll of favourite writers were announced in the press. In top place, beating out Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens, was a children’s author their ilk has gleefully detested for 40 years now, the implausibly prolific and popular Enid Blyton. The author of an astonishing 700-odd books—which still translate to eight million copies a year in sales—Blyton is perhaps the most popular author you’ve never heard of. Her name may mean little to North American readers, but in France, in Germany, in countries as far-flung as Australia, Portugal, Singapore and India, Blyton, who wrote mostly in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, remains not merely the beloved author of such series as Noddy, The Famous Five, The Magic Faraway Tree, and Malory Towers, but a rite of passage, an icon conjuring the magic of childhood.
In the U.K., she’s also a lightning rod for controversy, and after the poll results were announced, there was carping. Anthony Horowitz, writer of the TV drama Foyle’s War, complained in the Daily Telegraph that Britons were “being asked to genuflect in front of a fossil.” The children’s author Philip Pullman compared her stories to “mechanically recovered meat.” They’re only Blyton’s most recent detractors. The aforementioned librarians viewed her as a hack and simpleton who kept kids from serious reading. Progressives got her books banned from libraries on charges of racism, sexism, middle-class-ism; one writer called her work neo-fascist. And she didn’t find much truck with the other side either. The conservative British journalist Colin Welch famously excoriated Noddy, a little wooden fellow who lives with his friend Big Ears in Toyland, as an imbecile, “an unnaturally priggish, sanctimonious . . . witless, spiritless, snivelling, sneaking doll.”