The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on December 17, 1993 · 11
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 11

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Friday, December 17, 1993
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11
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O. PAGE pinions ah Editor: Bob Reade, 596-3677 Fax, 596-8458 The Ottawa Citizen Friday, December 1 7, 1 993 F.Y.L ( For Your Information ) I iVtKii!lk"iil:M" '..1 Prescriptions for a long life China's oldest living man, 131-year-old Gong Laifa, credits his exceptional lifespan to clean living, hard work and the benefits of bachelorhood. Gong, born in 1862, until recently worked 11 hours a day in his rice fields in southern Guizhou province. "He has remained single and has never drunk alcohol or taken any medicine," said the China Daily. He eats two meals of rice and corn every day and is in bed by 8:30 p.m. China's oldest living woman, 122-year-old Kong Ying of Guangdong province, is not nearly so abstemious and relies on a full belly to get her through her days of collecting pine needles and selling handmade brooms. "I particularly like pork dishes and I like to drink sweet rice wine." she told the China Daily. In recent years, she had taken to drinking syrup and added lots of sugar to her rice, it said. China has officially registered 6.683 people past the age of 100. The China Daily said most of them agreed on several rules to live by if you wanted to live to beyond 100, including regular Chinese-style breathing and muscle exercises and a healthy diet. Also important, the newspaper said, was maintaining an upward spiritual attitude and avoiding overindulgence in sex. II Jl I I If JL I II Til I r-ftn ' to-toy A fine time for pawnbrokers From Family Circle: The original St. Nicholas . . . saved three girls from prostitution by tossing three golden balls for their dowries through their window at night. As well as being a special patron of children. St. Nicholas is honored by pawnbrokers, who still use those three golden balls as their logo. r ITT Diplomatic way to avoid kiss In Rolling Stone magazine, U.S. President Bill Clinton is asked what's the biggest laugh he's had since being president: "When I was practising shaking hands with (Yasser) Arafat before I shook hands with (Yitzhak) Rabin, we had an understanding that there would be no Arab embrace. '"'Yeah,' Rabin said. OK. I'll shake hands, but no kissing." "(National security adviser) Tony Lake was pretending to be Arafat, and we Clinton finally worked out the way to stop someone from embracing you without seeming like a bad guy. "If you hold his biceps (with your left hand, while shaking his hand), he can't move up and embrace you. I thought. T got elected president to do this?' " S3 The opposite of noise From Success magazine: Noise Cancellation Technologies (NCT) of Stamford, Connecticut, is fulfilling an urban daydream creating a machine that gives you the power to cancel noises such as power drills, the neighbors' stereos and all-night car alarms. The computer in each anti-noise unit analyses an offending sound and produces its sonic opposite. Because sound consists of waves, generating the opposite wave pattern blots out the sound. Noise cancellers can fit in a car glove compartment but they'll soon shrink to the size of computer chips. F.Y.I, is compiled by Julius Maierczyk from Citizen news senices, publications, statistics, bulletin boards, and other "found" material. Readers are encouraged to submit items by mail, by fax at 596-8-153 or by calling 596-3790. Memoirs from By Andrew H. Wilson Special to the Citeen Early drafts excepted, much of what is written even by newspapers is expected to be preserved. Nowadays, more newspapers are recycled than are simply thrown away. But publishers keep copies, and so do libraries. Re searchers, including those who work for newspapers, make use of them. Some people clip newspaper items and articles for their scrapbooks or files, to send to friends or colleagues, or whatever. For historians, printed and written words are their raw material, although not all sources cany equal weight. For the courts, newspapers can provide evidence of slander. And so it goes. Last month, as guest member of the Citizen's editorial board. I realized that writing opinions for the record can be a risky business. Editorials are essentially expressions of opinion, and opinions are not Buying from tree farms may be defensible, poaching from By Michael Dorgan Special to the Citizen The annual harvest of millions of Christmas trees usually leaves me feeling ambivalent. On the one hand, I appreciate how city dwellers, cut off from nature as we are, can relish the sight and smell of a real tree in their living rooms. On the other hand, it seems indefensible to turn millions of living, breathing young conifers into wood chips at best and landfill garbage at worst. And when I see evidence of the slaughter taking place on public parkland, as I did this week during a walk through Gatineau Park, the mixed feelings give way to rage. The tops of some beautiful pines had been hacked off at shoulder height, leaving hideous looking stumps with branches. Ecologically speaking, this kind of truncation is worse than taking out a whole tree here and there, because that would at least open up space for others to grow into. As it is, we're left with headless clumps instead of majestic forms reaching ever higher tow;ard the sky. Nearby, I also saw half a dozen foot-high evergreen stumps, signs of a dirty job done somewhat more "cleanly." How can we stop tree poaching in our parklands? The National Capital Commission should do something, right? How about park rangers patrolling with pickup trucks, complete with gun racks? And what about putting up some signs big ones at park entrances, little ones scattered throughout the park warning that "Anyone who wilfully or maliciously defaces, destroys or attempts to remove any plant, animal or man-made material shall be subject to fine or imprisonment or both!" Visitors from south of the border would feel right at home. Has it really come to this? One of the beauties of Canadian parks in general is the near absence of such signage. About the most threatening thing I've seen on my many outings around here reads "Caution Poison Ivy!" Even if there were the political will to more aggressively protect our parklands. where would the money come from? The NCC has already been hit with staffing cuts. In any case, the NCC has shown a singular lack of concern about an industrial complex to be built on the banks of the Ottawa River, though it will disperse tonnes of pollutants from its 20-storey smokestack over NCC parklands on both sides of the river. Can we really expect the NCC to get excited about a few Christmas trees? As an environmentalist, I think it's time to look at what ordinary people can do to protect forests. Before the NCC decides to WAR GAMES Children learn By Richard Sanders Special to the Citizen War is not a game and violence is not fun. However, a stroll through almost any local department store this Christmas season might lead one to think otherwise. Stores selling toys have taken on the appearance of miniature weapons bazaars. These burgeoning plastic arms markets flog everything from realistic-looking toy swords, cross-bows and automatic weapons to ersatz missiles, tanks and jet bombers. Kiddie arms emporiums are also barracks for legions of "action figures" such as G.I. Joe. As any aficionado will explain, these "Hall of Fame" figures should be equipped (for an extra fee, of course) with all the proper equipment, whether for street-fighting, "special operations" or full-fledged combat. One has to wonder what effect this form of play must be having on children's values and attitudes. How does it affect their understanding of personal conflicts, wars, other cultures and our own society? War toys, violent video games and television programs are becoming a dominant feature of children's play especially that of boys. It's about time we took a more serious look at how this impacts on the psychological and social well-being of children. The new Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines say that, by Grade 9. children should "show a commitment to peace, social justice and the protection of the envi a month of living dangerously necessarily shared. But this is something that their writers accept. After all. it is part of the job, which is to create and influence the climate of public opinion. But to be credible, an editorial has to be placed within a framework of good judgment and responsibility. Andrew Wilson, a Nepean consultant in research policy and management, was editorial board guest member in November. My term on the editorial board of the Citizen coincided with the relatively calm waters of the immediate post-election weeks after the election but before the new government had committed itself very deeply, and bet fore the new opposition parties had go A'" ' Bi Christmas ttreel Photos by Michael Dorgan ABOVE: Stumps from recently chopped cedars near east shore of Lac des Fees, Gatineau Park. BELOW: Decapitated pines in St. Raymond extension, Gatineau Park. make the best of a bad situation and institute a cut-your-own-tree-and-leave-the-money-in-the-box-please "user fee" arrangement, let's consider vigilante tactics. A few strategies come to mind. Spiking the trees would be pointless, unless you drive them in at all the points where the would-be lumber jack might try to plant an axe. Unfortunately, that many spikes probably to associate violence with excitement, fun ronment in their own community, Canada and the world" (The Common Curriculm, Grades 1-9). To meet this requirement, teachers must compete with a powerful tide of violent culture and entertainment, originating mostly from the United States. For instance, in 1988. four- to eight-year-olds saw 250 episodes of violent cartoons and 800 advertisements for violent toys. Because 95 per cent of television cartoons are produced by toy manufacturers, programs conveniently revolve around imaginary characters also sold as toys. These cartoons are really full-length advertisements for their products cum heroes. But what do these violent programs and war toys teach children about interpersonal and global relations? First of all, kids these days are being socialized to accept violence as an acceptable, if not preferred, means of resolving conflict. A walk through any video arcade will quickly demonstrate the blatantly racist and sexist attitudes taught by many of these games. The power of these toys and games is also that they condition kids to associate violent behavior with a sense of adventure, excitement and other pleasurable emotions. The combination of all these influences on children and youth is extremely dangerous. Unlike the movie industry, manufacturers of violent toys and video games are not required to label their products with rating codes to caution consumers. A bill to this effect has been passed by the Hawaii state House and is being considered by the state their bearings. The principal federal issues were the EH-101 helicopters, NAFTA, Pearson airport privatization, and the deficit. On the other hand, some of the international, national and regional issues of the day remained at much the same noise level as before war and peace in the Middle East and in the former Yugoslavia, changes in the old U.S. S R. and in South Africa, violence against women and children, employment equity. There were also some new topics: the proposed new speed traps in Ontario, the new Air Canada and CPR logos, and the Bourns report. As the guest member. I had no writing responsibilities, but provided the occasional nickel's worth of input to the discussion around the table when a suggested future editorial was being discussed and the consensus developed I also took part in meetings the board members had with outside groups and individ would kill the tree. In Brazil, protected enclaves have been designated where native peoples protect the rainforest. In return, the natives are protected from gold miners, cattle ranchers, and the odd Christmas tree hunter, I suppose. But closing off the Gatineau Park to all non-native non-residents would probably be a very' unpopular move. Senate. So far, however, no such bill is forthcoming in Canada to warn about the potential psychological and social hazards posed to children by these products. On the contrary, brightly colored plastic AK47's and military "action figures" carry recommendations saying they are suitable for children "5 and up." There is one genre of toy weapon that is supposed to be banned in Ottawa stores. City of Ottawa Bylaw 141-90, which was promoted by the Ottawa police, states that "no person shall manufacture, display, market for sale or sell a replica of a firearm in the City of Ottawa." The bylaw defines a firearm replica as "a toy or other object that is not a firearm but might reasonably be mistaken for a firearm." RegSrdless, at least one Ottawa toy store sells play rifles that imitate the color, size and appearance of shotguns. Many have wooden stocks, metal barrels and triggers, while some have metal scopes for targeting. An Ottawa policeman who investigated this, concluded that these were only toys and could not "reasonably be mistaken" for firearms. Police could not say how these toys could be modified to look more like firearms than they already do. They also warn against pointing these toys at anyone in public. It is even more ironic that while fake firearm are supposed to be banned from Ottawa toy stores, real automatic weapons and a whole range of military hardware are allowed to be displayed at Ottawa's authen close to opinion uals and was able to shake hands with, and talk to, some people I had only been able to see before on television. For me, the writing risks of guest membership were minimal or non-existent -until now. I must confess to having been impressed by the care that my colleagues who did the actual writing took in doing their assignments and by the grasp they appeared to have of the issues involved. While personal points of view are undoubtedly expressed to some degree in editorials, the objective is still to write clearly argued statements of opinion. Editorials are, after all. sometimes called "think pieces" because they are intended to provoke readers to do just that. We don't always have to agree. (For the benefit of friends who appeared to assume differently, I should point out that I had nothing whatsoever to do with what appeared in the news parts of the paper, or in the special articles or boxed-in columns parks is outrageous Maybe we could take our inspiration from those who protest the "harvesting" of baby seals for their furs. The idea would be to make the trees unusable as Christmas trees without harming them, by using dyes or paints. However, when you consider what people do to the trees after they get them home, it's hard to imagine "conspicuous marking" strategies being effective. It could even backfire if, say, fluorescent orange became the "in" look in Christmas decorations. I guess the only thing that would really stop the Yuletide tree thieves in their tracks would be to apply a powerful smelling substance like skunk juice. This wouldn't deface the landscape like marking the trees would. Yet if a walk in the woods assaults the nose like midsummer roadkill, then most would probably say the cure is worse than the disease. In the end, I suppose we should learn to tolerate those few among us who were raised on stories of "going into the wilds" to "hunt" for that perfect tree, or are too poor to buy one. And perhaps there is some magic, a "life energy" in a "free-range" tree that you just don't get in the tree-farm kind. Some might liken it to the difference between venison and hamburgers, or partridge and chicken fingers. Be it wild or tame, though, it really comes down to this: Just what does a tree mean in the grand scheme of things? One author I read says that man is the highest and most perfect expression of the divine in the animal kingdom, and that the tree is our counterpart in the plant kingdom. Others say trees are just carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen and it's "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" for them, and for the rest of us as well. There are, of course, alternatives to using the bucksaw or the axe to harvest a Christmas decoration. These include potted live trees or houseplants like the Norfolk Island Pine, as well as the petrochemical industry's tasteless travesties. Your choice reflects your fundamental view about life on the planet. The question "to tree or not to tree?" is not about how to celebrate Christmas. It's ultimately about whether our rapacious species will even be around for many more Yuletides to come. Michael Dorgan is a greenhouse builder and part-time writer. He lives in Hull with his family and a houseplant disguised as a Christmas tree. tic weapons bazaars. These exhibits are attended by military attaches representing governments that frequently violate the basic human rights of their citizens. For example, a recent military exhibition at the Ottawa Congress Centre displayed real automatic weapons produced by Diemaco Inc. Among the delegates visiting the show was China's military attache. The Citizen and other media were refused entry. So what's a child to think, or an adult for that matter? Society is spoon-feeding kids with a daily diet of toy war heroes and television violence. Children are told they can't play with realistic toy rifles but later they find out that all along their society has allowed the export of military hardware for use in wars and repression. Children deserve more than this at Christmas and so does everyone else. Richard Sanders of Ottawa is co-ordmator of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms trade. Submissions: Writers who send articles to the Citizen's Opinions pages will be contacted within two weeks if their submissions are accepted for publication. Writers who have not been contacted within that period should assume that their articles will not be published. Articles will be returned if they are accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. writers of opinion.) Writing involves some or all of stating facts, telling stories, taking positions, expressing opinions. The result could be a simple statement, an editorial, an article, a column, a report, a learned treatise, a novel, a gothic romance, or a legal document. What is written need not be lengthy to cause problems. Short statements can be more dangerous than long reports, poems riskier than essays, funny stuff more easily offensive than serious stuff. All those who want to write can do so and, nowadays, with word processors and spell-checks, some of the former hazards of the business can be overcome. But the risk and danger involved in writing seem more acute in our contemporary social political-economic environment in which moral militancy, single issues, political correctness, and abdicated responsibilities are much in evidence. If writing needs keyboards, it also needs courage.

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