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December 2, 2004

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Cup fever and civic pride
Vancouver Sun, Nov. 19
Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell is a big B.C. Lions fan. Strangers stop each other in the street to exchange their thoughts on football. People of all cultures hold hands as they root for the Lions, like one beautiful Coca-Cola commercial. To some this means that the universe is unfolding as it should. Others, think: what a load. In a post-modern world, what used to be a simple ritual - being a temporary sports fan - has gained contested meaning. SFU communication professor Rick Gruneau says modern-day commercial sports competition “has had this mythical, symbolic status of remaking a fractured society into a utopian wholeness within a civic framework. And it's in the interests of civic boosters, because the whole idea of boosterism is to promote a certain kind of civic involvement and civic identity.”

Land use policies need to consider nature
Kenora Daily Miner and News, Nov. 19
SFU economics professor Nancy Olewiler released a report that says governments that adopt land use policies without taking into account the value of nature may be making decisions that are very costly now and into the future. “Olewiler uses Canadian case studies to illustrate the value of nature and shows that preservation or restoration of natural areas within settled parts of Canada will create substantial benefits to society,” says Brian Gray, Ducks Unlimited director of conservation programs. “The continued destruction of nature will require human-made substitutes that are very expensive.” The report, commissioned by Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, argues governments need to increase efforts to measure and quantify the services of nature, so decision-makers can make better land use decisions.

Fighting crystal meth
Vancouver Province, Nov. 18
Peer outreach - otherwise known as kids talking to kids - is just one way to help stop the spread of methamphetamine addiction, according to some experts at a recent three-day summit on the subject. While not much is known about methamphetamine addiction compared with other harmful drugs that have been used for generations, Joanna Ashworth, SFU's director of programs for the Wosk centre for dialogue, says, “There are indications that the approaches used for treating people with cocaine addictions will be quite useful in the treatment process for meth users.” About 250 delegates attended the Vancouver summit. Their conclusions will be ready in the new year.

Can money buy bliss?
Brantford Expositor, Nov. 16
Can money really buy happiness? Depending on which expert you ask, you'll get a different answer, but most lean toward no. SFU psychology professor Barry Beyerstein says, “There is a big genetic component to how you view your lot in life, and it isn't really well related to what your objective status is. There are some generally happy people and there are people who have every advantage and good things life has to offer, and still feel unfulfilled and unhappy. Provided you're over a certain threshold of comfort, your happiness quotient doesn't correlate all that well with how you're faring in life's game.”

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