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Mar 06, 2003

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Wired to another world
Maclean's, March 3

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are signing up for onine computer games like EverQuest, Ultima Online and the recently released The Sims Online. Traditionally, such games subscribed to over the internet have appealed to a small segment of gamers, but that's changing. And many of those signing up are finding themselves getting hooked to the games, which some experts say are designed to be addictive. Stephen Kline, director of SFU's media analysis laboratory, has found that heavy gamers commonly report serious disruptions in their lives, especially troubled relationships. “This is not a huge number of people,” says Kline. “The vast majority have it under control.” Gamers and experts agree that the trick is in knowing when to shut down your computer.

Cultured orangutans
CBC Quirks and Quarks, March 3

You may have thought the orange-haired primates called orangutans you've seen on nature shows were just monkeying around, but it turns out that these endangered great apes were actually showing signs of cultures. When top orangutan researchers compared notes, their findings pushed back the origins of culturally transmitted behaviour by millions of years. SFU primatologist Birute Galdikas says humans shared a culture with the orangutans dating back some 14 million years, much farther than that of the chimpanzee. “There is also a feeling that if you save the last few animals that you're actually saving a species,” she says. “But in reality, because each population has a disparate culture, in order to save the species, in order to save the animals, you need to save the populations in the wild. Once these populations go, those unique cultures disappear. And you can't recreate these wild cultures in captivity.”

Tolerance key among liberated Dutch
Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 23

Prostitutes are a staple of Canadian newspaper headlines. They are murdered by the score. They go missing by the dozen. Many researchers are convinced Canada's criminal law drives vulnerable women even farther into the margins where they are easy prey. Inevitably, a tolerance zone is suggested. Amsterdam is usually mentioned in an offhand way. In Canada the law against communicating in public to arrange commercial sex was made more sweeping in the mid-1980s, and prosecutions exploded. At the same time, enforcement against off-street prostitution was pulled back. “It's very clear that the police put prostitutes on the street and they've been trying to get them off ever since,” says criminologist John Lowman, Today about 80 per cent of Canada's prostitutes work for escort services or in hotels, bars and other off-street locations.

Ultraminorities find new home
Montreal Gazette, Feb. 20

Small minorities are not a uniquely Quebec phenomenon. In B.C., tiny communities of new arrivals - refugees, mostly, from Kosovo, Sudan and Burma - began settling in Vancouver and smaller cities in the mid-1990s, and have been drawing notice. “The smaller groups face different issues,” says Jennifer Hyndman, an associate professor of human geography at SFU. “In the Canadian vertical mosaic, each wave of large immigrant groups has built up its own parallel institutions, Greek travel agents, Greek restaurants, Greek supermarkets. With small groups, that doesn't happen. So there's more of a self-help attitude with them.” Hyndman says new arrivals from small places are also amateur ambassadors.

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