Re: Concussion Hysteria, Steven M. Rothman, Dec. 28.
Dr. Steven M. Rothman suggests traumatic brain injuries be treated like other soft tissue injuries and require evidence of sufficient “healing” before exposure to the risk of repeat trauma. There is no evidence of healing in the sense of reversal of damage; rather, the brain damage is likely cumulative. The “don’t worry” approach is not an option. Banning certain sports or passing safety rules won’t work either. The risks for trauma to the head are thoroughly integrated with every aspect of human activity and such bans will negligibly lessen the overall incidence of head trauma.
Our approach must therefore be to reduce the risk of brain injury from the inevitable head trauma. The pioneering work (in which I had the honour of having a small part) of Drs. David Smith and Julian Bailes (played by Alec Baldwin in the film Concussion), may have opened one such path with their insight into how brain “slosh’ causes brain injury, and demonstrating that slosh prevention mitigates it.
Joseph A. Fisher M.D., Toronto.
I don’t get hysterical over concussions. I simply ask a potential source of millions of concussions, globally, be eliminated by banning heading soccer balls. And here are some reasons: Adults who allow or teach heading soccer balls to children are, by proxy, committing child abuse. As players mature, the cumulative insult to the brain by heading soccer balls is a potential source of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The elimination of heading a soccer ball from the game format will not terminally alter the game’s structure. The foot is the principle means of advancing the ball.
It can be argued heading soccer balls is akin to smoking. No one making serious money from either activity wants to admit such health concerns. The serious money makers in soccer make the rules under FIFA auspices. Who would knowingly place their children in FIFA’s care? Humans need every cerebral neuron they have, functioning. There’s nothing hysterical in saying that.
Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton, Ont.
Slow to change
Re: Why Canadian Oratory Is Awful, Patrick Luciani, Dec. 28.
While the key influence on Canadian speech and culture is soft-spoken Anglo, that in the U.S. is more outspoken and direct Germanic. Others would say our ultra-conservative banking system emanates from Scottish tradition. However you slice it, new ideas and trends start slowly and are much more difficult to sell in Canada than in the U.S. where fresh ideas are the norm. Canada’s national colours are varying shades of grey.
E. J. (Ted) Ward, Toronto.
I agree with Patrick Luciani’s basic premise — a rather ordinary country like Canada produces rather ordinary speakers. Another contributing factor is a culture and ducational system that places little or no value on the art of oratory.
I have some old school textbooks from the turn of the 19th century that teach the skills of eloquence, oratory and articulation. Textbooks like these have long ago disappeared from our schools. The greatest orators, such as the ancient Greek Demosthenes, knew to excel one needed to study the speeches of those who went before. He also worked hard to overcome a speech impediment by talking with a mouthful of pebbles, recited verses while running, and to strengthen his voice would speak on the seashore over the roar of the waves.
Canada’s educational system may be one of its strengths, but there is always room for improvement. Putting oratory back on the curriculum would be a good thing. And producing better orators would very likely someday produce a better Canada.
Dan Mailer, London, Ont.
Re: The People’s Choice, Rex Murphy, Dec. 26.
Rex Murphy doesn’t think the Liberals have the right to make a unilateral change. I think they do — it’s called majority government. Hopefully, they will do as promised and consult widely before making a decision, but holding a referendum would be a mistake. I voted for electoral reform and a transit tax here in British Columbia, and in both cases the referendum was lost by a slim margin. We are still suffering with first-past-the-post and a transit system sorely in need of upgrades. Referendums mostly seem to be an opportunity for people to air their grievances and seldom come out the way they hope.
Jane McCall, Delta, B.C.
The referendum argument is a straw man’s argument that conveniently ignores the real discussion that must happen: is our voting system legitimate? Does it treat voters equally? By crying “Injustice!!”, referendum advocates can conveniently ignore that the current voting system (first-past-the-post) does not treat voters equally. This inequality is systematic throughout FPTP elections.
Murphy reminds readers the current and previous majority government only got 39 per cent of the vote — as if they were the exception. This phenomenon is fairly consistent in FPTP. Of the 16 majority governments in Canada since the Second World War, only four had support of a majority of voters. This is what proportional representation advocates are trying to fix. To draw attention to it is to draw attention to one of the main arguments of voting reform.
Julien Lamarche, Ottawa.
If we are to change how we elect our governments, we should have a referendum. Just because it hasn’t been done this way before isn’t a good argument. Over time I believe we have become a more democratic society. We as citizens have come to expect all institutions should be democratic and more and more we believe we should have a direct voice in decision making. There can be no more direct voice than being able to participate in a referendum. Justin Trudeau promised reforms that would make our government more democratic. He needs to show he is serious about that promise.
Terry James, Vegreville, Alta.
Follow Purdue’s example
Re: Academics For Free Speech, George F. Will, Dec. 28.
“Hail, Purdue” — that’s the song I sang after touchdowns during my student days at Purdue University, and that’s my compliment to my alma mater for its commitment to a free exchange of ideas. It’s encouraging to know now, as then, the university is committed to making people think, not to making them comfortable. If we all cherish a supposed right to freedom from offence, then we will never be challenged to leave our errors behind. I hope Canadian university presidents are reading and pondering this article.
Stanley K. Fowler, Cambridge, Ont.
The frill test
Re: Just A Little Trendly Advice, Jane Macdougall, Dec. 26.
Jane Macdougall suggests men’s fashion should return to the great Cary Grant style of “time-honoured design principals” for 2016, rightfully bemoaning the fact it is about to take a giant leap backward with the frilly lace look — “bow-tied shirts, foulards and scarves, frothy shoe laces, long scarves, looping, hammockey ensigns inspired by Jack Sparrow.” I agree with Jerry Seinfeld: I don’t want to be a pirate either.
David Honigsberg, Toronto.
No excuse for doing nothing
Re: Canadian Generosity’s Reality Check, Matthew Fisher, Dec. 29.
When people are willing to reach out to those in dire need, there will always be others who are trying to distract them from making the difference. As we are welcoming refugees, there are those who object our gesture and try to distract us from doing good to others by saying charity starts home. This should never stop us from giving and caring. As we are helping the refugees, the detractors should take the initiative to fill the void in looking after those we might have missed. They should not be judgmental. Instead, they should try to do something themselves — anything — instead of criticizing the force of goodness.
Abubakar N. Kasim, Toronto.