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Unleash the rhetoric, Mr. President. America needs it

(Commentary by History professor Gil Troy): As Barack Obama drafts his second inaugural speech, he should remember the speeches that made him president. He should ponder the vision of multicultural nationalism in his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote. He should revive the controlled but righteous indignation in his 2008 address on race relations that defused the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy. And he should tap into the lyrical patriotism that made his first victory speech soar.

Published: 21 Jan 2013

The long, cold slog

(Michael Becker, a doctoral student at McGill University, was a scientific diver on an expedition to Lake Untersee, Antarctica - this the third of 6 blog posts): There are no helicopters on this end of the continent. For someone as unenthusiastic about walking as I am, this news comes as a definitive blow to my goal of doing as little exercise as possible. But even an ultramarathoner would be chilled by the prospect of an 80-mile journey over treacherous glacial crevasses with several tons of gear.

Published: 21 Jan 2013

Music to your ears

(Abstract of article by McGill grad Adam Gopnik) …Perhaps the densest concentration of sound scholars in the world can be found in Montreal, at McGill University, where the writer went to school. Albert Bregman, a former professor of the writer’s, spent almost fifty years at McGill studying the psychology of sound, and his masterwork, “Auditory Sense Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of Sound,” remains a basic text in the field.

Published: 21 Jan 2013

How fit is your neighbourhood?

(Athletics' Jill Barker) As a young psychologist, James Sallis was interested in exploring the motivation behind getting people to exercise. But it wasn’t long before he discovered that existing theories designed to improve exercise adherence were, for the most part, ineffective. Sallis, who is speaking in Montreal this week, is this year’s winner of the Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.

Published: 21 Jan 2013

Drug combination linked to kidney failure

A new study showing a triple combination of blood pressure drugs and common painkillers can increase the risk of serious kidney problems means doctors will have to be extra vigilant when prescribing this particular concoction of drugs. A team of researchers from the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University found a triple therapy combination of a diuretic with a second antihypertensive drug plus a painkiller was associated with a 30 per cent higher risk of kidney failure - and the risk was 80 per cent higher during the first 30 days of treatment.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

Researchers say discovery could fight immune disorders

Researchers at McGill University and the Austrian Academy of Sciences claim to have discovered the molecular blueprint behind the IFIT protein. This key protein enables our immune system to detect viruses and prevent infection by acting as foot soldiers guarding the body against infection. They recognize foreign viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) produced by the virus and act as defender molecules by potentially latching onto the genome of the virus and preventing it from making copies of itself, blocking infection.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

Message to Ottawa: Equality: Gay marriage is settled?

(Op-ed - Robert Leckey teaches family law at McGill): President of Egale Canada This spring will mark 10 years since the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the first legal same-sex marriages in Canada. For most Canadians, same-sex marriage is a settled issue. The latest census data confirmed the growing diversity of Canadian families. That's why it's puzzling that the federal government has recently spent public money fighting the recognition of gay relationships in Canada.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

What idle no more tells us about the need for change

(Op-ed by Vandna Sinha, an assistant professor at the Centre for Research on Children and Families at McGill and Jennifer Nutton, a PhD student in the School of Social Work): Recent actions by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, the Assembly of First Nations, the Idle No More movement, First Nations communities and the federal government have drawn attention to two related but distinct issues...

Published: 18 Jan 2013

Ontario court grants same-sex divorce

An Ontario Superior Court judge has taken the novel step of granting a divorce to a same-sex couple over legal objections from the federal Crown. Madam Justice Ruth Mesbur ruled that same-sex civil partnerships from foreign countries that don't permit same-sex marriages can nonetheless qualify as marriages under Canadian law. […] Robert Leckey, a professor of family law at McGill University and president of Egale Canada, said he found the federal position to be disturbing.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

Warm weather forcing rink operators to think artificial

An extended January thaw in parts of Quebec and Ontario has put a major dent in the outdoor hockey season. But an increasing number of municipalities, responding to fluctuating temperatures, are now using artificial refrigeration to keep their skating rinks frozen through the winter months. […] A study released last March said that outdoor hockey is being threatened by climate change. The study, co-authored by a McGill University professor Lawrence Mysak, said that ice rinks were opening later over and closing earlier in the year.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

Some doctors have done more than just providing care

(Chemistry professor Joe Schwarcz): “I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice which may cause his death … ” That passage comes from the Hippocratic oath, by which physicians promise to practise medicine ethically and honestly. Not all abide by the oath, but doctors who wilfully harm their patients are rare. The ultimate harm, of course, is murder. It is a crime for which Dr. Harold Shipman paid with his life, and for which Dr.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

Muslim thought on evolution takes a step forward

A high-quality debate of a sensitive topic did not disappoint, as all panellists bar one accepted the scientific consensus. An imam of an east London mosque, Usama Hasan, received a death threat for arguing in support of human evolution two years ago. On Saturday, London played host to a riveting intrafaith dialogue on Islam's stance on the theory of evolution.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

In defense of the CEO

Chauffeur-driven limousines, millions in stock options, golden parachutes. It's no wonder bosses' pay and perks can rankle. Here's why the best ones are worth it. … Let's start with the basics: how chief executives spend their time. Among the first researchers to give us a glimpse into the day-to-day life of the CEO was management guru Henry Mintzberg, who followed a handful of business leaders for his Ph.D. thesis at the MIT Sloan School of Management over four decades ago. He discovered that, first and foremost, CEOs go to meetings.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

Multiple choice exam theory

(Guest post by Jonathan Sterne, an associate professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill): "Every summer, before I assemble my fall courses, I read a book on pedagogy. Last summer’s choice is Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It (except I read it in the spring). Those who are familiar with critiques of mainstream educational practice will find many familiar arguments, but Now You See It crucially connects them with US educational policy.

Published: 18 Jan 2013

China faces a neurotic future

(REPAP Chair of Economics Reuven Brenner): Ten years ago, I wrote about the possible consequences of China's one child policy (published in Asia Times Online, Financial Times, and Singapore Times). All of it seems to have held the test of times - and recent evidence strengthens the points raised then:  What can be the point of reference to predict consequences of China's current childbearing pattern, adjusted over the last decades to one-kid or you're-out-of-your-apartment policy?

Published: 18 Jan 2013