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As a neurosurgeon, nothing pleases Rolando Del Maestro more than brains operating at full throttle - which would explain his fascination with Leonardo da Vinci, one of history's great minds. The owner of one of the world's largest private collections of writings by and about da Vinci, Del Maestro, director of the Brain Tumour Research Centre of the MNI, was interviewed by the Montreal Gazette about Dan Brown's wildly popular book, The da Vinci Code. While the good doctor admits that the book makes for a fine story, he's quick to point out that the lack of factual material makes it impossible to vouch for its veracity. As enamoured as he is of one of history's undisputed super-brains, Del Maestro doesn't soft-pedal his views on some of its slightly less illustrious lights, as witnessed later in the interview when he called the president of the United States, in what was presumably an unofficial diagnosis, an "idiot."
While most people were tossing bouquets to celebrate Mother's Day, Dr. Jody Heymann was dispensing a large brickbat. In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, the director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy took the U.S. government to task for its policies - or lack thereof - in regards to family issues. Citing the findings of her recent book, Forgotten Families; Ending the Growing Crisis Confronting Children and Working Parents in the Global Economy, Heymann says that of the 168 countries she investigated, the U.S. was one of only four that didn't guarantee paid maternity leave (along with Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and Lesotho). She also noted that the U.S. does not ensure that mothers can take time from work to breastfeed their infants or take paid leave to care for a sick child. The result, says Heymann, is that the phrase "Happy Mother's Day" rings somewhat hollow south of the border.
McGill Library's Rare Books and Special Collections Division got star treatment in the May issue of Arts et métiers du livre - the prestigious Paris-based monthly. The glossy mag waxes rhapsodic about the collection, calling it "une ressource inestimable pour les étudiants et la faculté de McGill ainsi que pour les trios autres universités de Montréal."
From the cerebral to the downright earthy. Chris Buddle, a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, was quoted extensively in a recent Montreal Gazette article bemoaning the infestation of white grubs chowing down on Montreal-area lawns. Rather than fretting over their precious Kentucky bluegrass, Buddle suggests homeowners rethink their lawns entirely and re-cover their lot with plant species that the pesky grubs have no stomach for, such as clover, hostas, herbs, strawberries or wildflowers.