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Jan 23, 2003

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Reality TV: We're hooked
Vancouver Province, Jan. 19

Like it or not, we live in interesting TV times. On CityTV, 96,000 Vancouver women and 54,000 men between the ages of 18-34 tuned in to The Bachelorette. The show is one of about 70 new and returning reality shows coming to the tube in 2003. Experts say part of the appeal is viewers asking themselves, “can this happen to me?” SFU English professor Paul Budra says reality TV may be new, but the concept is as old as Shakespeare. “In the 1580s public theatre became popular,” he explains. “People started to model their behaviours on what they'd seen in the theatres. And the theatres would depict people doing that on the street. So you'd get this cultural feedback loop. Something very similar has happened with reality TV.” Budra says the shows are both comforting and seductive.


Elderly Chinese face health hurdles
Victoria Times Colonist, Jan. 19

Chinese seniors in Canada are not as healthy as elderly people in the general population, because of cultural barriers that specially affect mental health, according to a new study. The inability of health care providers to speak either Mandarin or Cantonese was the biggest problem for 46 per cent of elderly Chinese people participating in the University of Calgary study. While the Chinese are the largest visible minority group in Canada, there's little health research on them or any other cultural group, says Gloria Gutman, director of the gerontology research centre at SFU. More than 2,000 elderly Chinese Canadians from cities across Canada participated in the study, which suggests the health care system needs to employ more professionals who can communicate with them.


He's not so different after all
Toronto Star, Jan. 17

British Columbians are accustomed to seeing their premier as a laughing stock. When you've had seven in just 12 years, it's understandable that disrespect for the person in the province's top political office is as much a part of the culture as rain in January. But the news that Premier Gordon Campbell had been arrested and charged with drunk driving while vacationing in Hawaii was beyond belief even in the tumultuous world of B.C. politics. Polling numbers after his overhaul of public programs were already falling. Public opinion polls conducted after the apology but before the breathalyzer results were revealed show B.C. residents evenly split on whether Campbell should resign, but three-quarters damned him as a hypocrite. “Not only is the honeymoon over, people are already filing for divorce papers,” says Kennedy Stewart, an assistant professor of political science at Simon Fraser University.


Scientists skeptical of clone claim
Rafe Mair show, CKNW, Jan. 9

What are the chances that the controversial research group Clonaid achieved success in cloning a human being? According to SFU molecular biologist Bruce Brandhorst, it is unlikely. “Chances are very very low, but not zero,” says Brandhorst. “There is some possibility that their claims are true, but there is absolutely no proof. They have found conveniently that the families involved, the parents so to speak, don't want the publicity, and so are not allowing the DNA testing that would provide that proof.” Brandhorst says technically all the operations involved are similar to those performed routinely in fertility clinics. So why do we doubt their success? “We know that when it's done with farm animals, the probability of success is extremely low,” he says.















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