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All in the attitude

Re: They rocked and roared (Oct. 31). Inspired by the successful event We Day, I, already in the prime of my life, can still be the change that I want -- through my words of encouragement, a smile on my face, or even a little of my time.

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I always bring this attitude to work to make someone else feel that their life is worthwhile. Hopefully I can continue to do this until I reach my golden years.




Thank you, Mikhail Gorbachev, for seizing the human dimension in global politics. After the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union became the Commonwealth of Independent States, my family was able to reconnect with each other.

I travelled to Bukovina, Ukraine, with my father and to Poltava, in Eastern Ukraine, with my mother. They had not seen any members of their family for 51 and 50 years, respectively.

Family reconciliation is an important policy for our leaders to undertake. It makes human effort worthwhile.




During his Winnipeg visit as We Day speaker, Mikhail Gorbachev urged Manitoba youth to address environmental destruction and called for global access to clean water.

And what is our federal government doing? It is cutting funding to Canada's Experimental Lakes Area, a global leader in conducting ecosystem experiments that have been critical in shaping environmental policy and understanding human impacts on our lakes and fish.




Exaggerated capacity

The recent announcement that Winnipeg is "one smart city" (Oct. 26) may exaggerate our capacity for innovation in Winnipeg and indeed in Manitoba. Our success in competing for research funds is perhaps more telling than some obscure award, and those results do not flatter Manitoba.

A major source of research funds in Canada is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). In 1991, Manitoba received about 3.18 per cent of NSERC grants. That decreased to 2.95 per cent a decade later in 2001 and decreased further over the next decade to 2.19 per cent in 2011.

These falling figures are all far below our 3.7 per cent of Canada's population, and are consistent with equally depressing statistics for other indicators of research capacity (e.g., we only graduate about two per cent of Canada's PhDs).

Many factors contribute to Manitoba's poor and declining research competitiveness, including inadequate funding of our core universities that carry out the bulk of research in the province. This derives in part from overall underfunding from federal, provincial and other sources.

But provincial policies that divert the limited funds to institutions, both private and public, that add little to the research capacity of the province, worsen the underfunding problem. And rather than building labs and supporting research, funds go to residences, sports complexes and other facilities that further political, rather than research, goals.


University of Winnipeg


An idea for IKEA

Although the new IKEA sign is higher than the Statue of Liberty, it might help Winnipeggers find the store if IKEA added a giant Swedish meatball to the top of the sign.




People lacking pride

Re: Local food bank use soars (Oct. 30). Yes, there are many homeless, legitimate down-and-out people and families who can benefit from the local food banks.

It is evident, however, that Winnipeg has a lot of takers who don't feel the least bit guilty about taking a free grocery handout so they can use their money to pay for cellphones and other luxuries.

I've handed out Christmas hampers and I've seen in many of these apartments the big-screen TVs and things I don't even have. There are too many people in this town who lack pride and are taking freebies just because they can.




Avoiding rear-enders

Re: Ice causes 20-car crash (Oct. 27). A more accurate headline would be "Following too closely causes 19-car crash." Quite simply, those 19 drivers did not give themselves enough time to stop when the car in front of them crashed.

Following too closely is one of the two main causes of rear-end crashes (after driver inattention). Most safety experts recommend an absolute minimum of three seconds of following distance on dry roads during daylight. Many experts recommend more. All recommend increasing that to six to 10 seconds in dark and icy conditions.

MPI recommends six seconds. The local safety award-winning trucking company Bison Transport has used a seven-second rule to reduce their rear-end-collision rate.

Increasing your following distance from one second to seven seconds will only delay your arrival at your destination by six seconds, but it decreases the chances that you (and also those following you) will be in an accident by giving you enough room to stop slowly when you need to.




Plant-based menu

Re: Maggots -- and cheese strings and chicken bones -- in space (Oct. 27). It's a bit strange that the students at Balmoral School didn't do their research about space travel before doing animal experiments.

NASA recently announced it is designing a vegan menu for its astronauts' 2030 mission to Mars. The astronauts will enjoy a plant-based menu for the two-year journey. Students could really be in on the future's cutting-edge technology by leaving the cruel animal experiments behind and moving their research into the 21st century.


Fort Erie, Ont.


A remarkable gift

Kudos to Joe Bryksa on his two recent snapshots of Manitoba nature: the leaf caught in a chain-link fence (Oct. 18), and the snowflake on another leaf (Oct. 27). He truly has a remarkable gift for photography.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 1, 2012 A12


Updated on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 10:18 AM CDT: Corrects reference to Balmoral School, which in an earlier version of this article was misidentified as Balmoral Hall.

11:49 AM: adds links

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