Fuel for change

The recent trend of environmentally themed non-fiction, or “green books,” can be traced to a growing fear of global warming, the rising price of food, and a declining economy. The frightening picture painted by environmentalists for the better part of a decade is finally starting to affect the public.

In 2003 and 2004, House of Anansi Press released two collections, Fueling the Future and Feeding the Future, which addressed these very fears. The project was spearheaded by the president of Investeco Capital Corp. and environmental do-gooder Andrew Heintzman, who recently revisited the books with his co-editor, CBC journalist Evan Solomon. Together, they selected the best essays from each book, resulting in the newly-released Food and Fuel. “I thought there was a really good message that was as relevant today as it was when we first published them,” explains Heintzman.

These essays remain relevant, because the world hasn’t witnessed enough change in the last five years. Yet Heintzman remains optimistic, saying, “I think we’re on the verge of a lot of change. Part of this is driven by the U.S.—the last administration wasn’t very imaginative in regards to the environment, but I think the new administration is likely to be so, and that will drive change.”

As it outlines the necessary adjustments, Food and Fuel provides an intelligent analysis of the agriculture and energy sectors—two subjects that are intrinsically intertwined. These are the precarious mechanisms that drive the planet and unsurprisingly, they have similar problems.

A unifying theme in the collection is the criticism of our archaic economic model, in which only money and goods produced are accounted for. We neglect environmental costs, thereby destroying the ecosystems that sustain our industries.

That’s the idea behind Natural Capital, put forth by Paul Hawkins, Hunter Lovins, and Amory Lovins in their seminal work, Natural Capitalism (1999). “The externalities have to be factored into the cost of our choices,” says Heintzman. “Particularly on energy, the cost of our carbon emissions, our greenhouse gas emissions, and other pollutants that have a real cost to society. Until those are factored into the price we pay, we aren’t going to solve these problems.”

However, Heintzman points out that not every writer in Food and Fuel agrees on every issue. There is a lack of unanimity on potential solutions in the environmental community, which both he and Solomon have embraced.

The differing opinions are one of the book’s strong suits. These various approaches not only present a broad sense of what’s wrong with the environment, but avoid the slanted discourse other books in this genre are famous for.

History is also a focus of the book. In the first essay, “Saving Agriculture from Itself,” Stuart Laidlaw describes the disastrous consequences of the Green Revolution of the ’50s and ’60s. The modern food industry, with its addiction to nitrogen for fertilization and oil for fuel, has degraded topsoil and created appalling inefficiency. Laidlaw’s solution is to buy locally grown, organic products. At the U of T Conference Centre last Saturday, the Canadian Organic Growers held the “Nourishing the Future” conference, where they shared similar concerns.

The book’s second half is dedicated to the energy sector, concentrating on the progression into renewable sources. In her essay “Is Nuclear Energy the Answer?” Allison Macfarlane judges the viability of nuclear energy in the long term. Fears of meltdowns aside, she sheds light on the difficulty of managing its waste and the possible proliferation of nuclear arms if its usage were to expand. Though torn, Heintzman admits, “It’s a necessary evil. I’m attracted to the low greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear energy [… ]though I wouldn’t want to over-rely on it.” Nuclear energy, like natural gas, is a stepping-stone to renewable energy sources, and Jeremy Rifkin describes a solution in his strangely utopian article, “The Dawn of the Hydrogen Economy.”

Former U of T professor Thomas Homer-Dixon contributes an interesting article on the need for ingenuity—the quality that allows societies to solve problems. As he understands it, all obstacles on the path to renewable energy are social. Humans have been reduced to “walking appetites” and are unable to think any other way. “I invest in these kinds of companies,” Heintzman explains, as he lists off examples of Canadian ingenuity over the past few years. Organizations such as Organic Meadows and Enerworks have provided new solutions, alternatives to current agriculture and energy practices.

What can Canadians do to reduce the burden on the environment? Heintzman says the answer is education, beginning with reading books and learning about legislation. “We plug into our sockets and ask no further questions […] we go to the supermarket, buy the product, and ask no further questions,” he explains.

He’s quick to respond when asked how Canada will ever meet the Kyoto Protocol, saying, “It’ll have to be some combination of a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade program, and if we really wanted to hit Kyoto, we’d probably do both. But will Canadians accept that price? I guess what it really comes down to is—do Canadians want to hit Kyoto or not?”

Of course, that’s the real question.

City of dreams

Ever wonder what Toronto will look like in the future? Spacing Magazine tries to answer that question with their thinkToronto urban design ideas competition, which encourages the development of ideas and plans to improve the city’s public realm. The magazine, which focuses on the joys, obstacles, and politics of the urban landscape, selected twelve finalists and eight honourable mentions to be displayed at 401 Richmond’s Urban Space Gallery in the month of February.

Contestants aged thirty-five and under were given carte blanche to create their vision, as long as the design incorporated Toronto’s public squares, streets, traffic circles, plazas, ravines, the waterfront, sidewalks, or greenways. They were assessed on imagination, functionality, attractiveness, sustainability, and accessibility. With over 100 entries received, the competition was fierce.

U of T was represented by Fionn Byrne and Kyle Xuekun Yang, two second-year students in the architecture program. Their design Dreaming of a Better Lakeshore proposes a complete remodeling of the area around the Gardiner Expressway, making it a sea of pedestrian traffic rather than a barrier. Parking lots would be transformed into parks, creating more pedestrian crossways, and shops and restaurants would be built below the concrete artery. Yang says their inspiration came from Japanese-style city planning where major transportation routes are incorporated into the cityscape rather than scarring it. He adds that if the Gardiner were torn down in a few decades, an area filled with culture and beauty would be left below it.

Not surprisingly, several designs focused on green space. David Karle, Dennis Sintiz, and Sarah Thomas’s Green Lung proposes an elevated platform lined with trees, bike paths, and biofuel plants running above the railway tracks from Dufferin Street to the Don River. Yifeu Yuam and Sonia Yuai’s Transplanting the Sun would see subway entrances fitted with solar panels that would transplant the sun’s rays underground, providing commuters with natural light and feeding an underground garden. Brett Hoornaert, Michael Ormston-Holloway, and Elnaz Rashidsanati’s Streetscape Bloor calls for all street parking to be eliminated on Bloor between Avenue and Bathurst, replaced by widened sidewalks, public benches, and trees.

One of the most creative entries was A.J. Vaid’s A Path Home. The University of Waterloo student envisioned the transformation of the Don River into a Sikh spiritual space. Currently a destitute riverside, the area from Gerrard Street southward would be transformed into a cremation ground complete with a temple, meditation pathway, and space to release ashes into the water.

The competition’s winner was Mike Wilson and his entry 5 Minutes. One of five entries addressing transit, his integrated pedestrian and transit information strategy would see public touch screens go up at every subway exit, with digital maps and walking directions to local businesses and amenities. Directing people to routes would motivate individuals to drive less, walk more, and grow in touch with their city. While it might not be the most creative or aesthetically pleasing design, it’s certainly the most feasible.

Though their projects may seem like utopian visions right now, the finalists illustrate the direction of city planning moving fast into the 21st century. Let’s hope Toronto can keep up.

What does it mean to be black?

Bedour Alagraa, second year International relations, was one of many students that voiced their opinions about black identity at the Black Student Association’s “Black is, Black Ain’t” discussion on Tuesday. The event was part of a series of events marking Black History Month.

What makes a person black? Is blackness just a skin colour, or is it an attitude, an ethnicity, a cultural history? These questions were discussed at “Politics of Black Identity: Black Is, Black Ain’t,” an open discussion held by the Black Students Association at Hart House as part of a series of BSA events marking Black History Month. The discussion asked whether the term “black”—commonly used as one ethnic or racial category, despite the diversity of cultures and experiences of the African Diaspora—is really useful as a descriptive term.

Stan Doyle Wood, an Equity Studies TA, and UTSU president Sandy Hudson addressed the discusssion. Wood shared his experiences growing up biracial in England and Trinidad. In England, “anything to do with non-whiteness was something to be ashamed of,” said Wood. There he tried to “pass” as white. Conversely, while in Trinidad, Wood felt pressured to “prove” his blackness by emphasizing his African features. Hudson spoke about her role as Canadian Federation of Students’ Students Of Colour representative. She said she had seen administrative resistance to CFS’s efforts to be more inclusive to marginalized students: “Folks need to recognize privilege and make sure that people are not being marginalized.”

To start discussion, organizers showed excerpts of the documentary Black Is… Black Ain’t. The film, directed by author and social commentator Marlin Riggs, explored constructions of black identity through interviews with Afican American scholars, artists, and religious leaders. BSA political director Vashti Boateng came across the film years ago and couldn’t forget it. “It was something that really stuck with me […] the themes in the film are things I find myself talking about with other black folks all the time.” She saw the film as a tool to dissect and disempower racism and other forms of oppression.

In response to the film and with some prompting from Boateng, many students said they had experienced being seen as “not black enough” by black and non-black peers. Students cited restrictive stereotypes of blackness from media images of the “gangster.” For them, the expectation that religion is important in black communities, and thus “black” and “atheist” must be mutually exclusive.

Homosexuality was a major topic of discussion throughout the night, particularly the statistic that 70 per cent of black Californians who voted on that state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, supported the anti-gay measure.

Also at the centre of debate were Eurocentric beauty ideals and their impact on black people, particularly for women. There was a general consensus that predominantly white North American culture and media perpetuate a European ideal of beauty, but also that many Africans and African North Americans internalize these ideals instead of challenging them. “That’s all conditioned, [the preference for] light skin over dark skin,” said fourth-year engineering student Sean Ashman. “Break down that barrier!”

Join the BSA for V.I.B.E.’s production of Yellowman and open mic night tonight (Thursday Feb. 26) at the Poor Alex Theatre, 722A Dundas Street W. (upper floor), the door opens at 7 p.m. Also look our for Black Prom: Midnight Masquerade at UC’s Junior Common Room, March 14. Details on facebook.

Under the Knife

Surgery is something most people try to avoid at all costs. Yet we cannot resist watching someone else go under the knife. TV shows like Nip/Tuck have banked on this perverse fascination for years, happily satisfying our penchant for blood and guts. So when a friend and I were invited to see a live colorectal surgery, we couldn’t resist. It’s not every day you get to watch a man’s excretory system get entirely re-routed.

Upon entering the hospital, a nurse points us towards a narrow corridor, where we fish disposable scrubs out of a cardboard box. We walk into a sterile white hall called the “aseptic core,” swathed in teal J-cloth from head to Keds—or in my friend’s case, three-inch heels, which the nurse frowns upon.

Dr. Cohen, the surgeon leading the procedure, greets us warmly and quickly briefs us on the proceedings. Our patient, an elderly man suffering from rectal cancer, needs his sigmoid colon and rectum removed.

A heavy set of doors reveal the operating room painted cool lavender, buzzing with activity. Generic pop hits hum from the radio. We are greeted by a pair of legs spread wide and supported by stirrups, a blue sheet dangling between them.

In the centre of the room, three figures clad in surgical green lean over the patient. Between the hairnets and face masks, we make out their eyes by the white lights overhead, and they smile in acknowledgement. I am secretly thrilled to catch my first glimpse of blood on their gloves.

We spend the next hour by the patient’s head, craning our necks over his covered face to peer into his abdomen. An opening in the blue cloth pinned to the body frames a rectangle of loose yellow skin. A bloodless cut the length of a pen runs towards the navel. As the skin rises and falls, the incision parts, revealing the red tissue beneath. Dr. Cohen reaches in and pulls out a wet pink tube, dangling with bulbs of orange fat.

“See it moving?” he asks us. “That’s peristalsis.” My long-suppressed physiology lectures bubble back into consciousness. Peristalsis is the autonomic movement of intestinal smooth muscle to push food along. This man is digesting while his intestines are being held up half a foot over his body.

Translucent webs of connective tissue between loops of intestine are pulled taut with forceps and examined in the body cavity. The senior resident strokes the tissue with a thin metal wand that crackles and sears through it, effortlessly sealing the ruptured blood vessels with intense heat. Wisps of smoke rise from the body as I slip my mask off to sneak a sniff. It smells like burnt hair.

Behind us, beeps issue from the anesthetist’s gallery of screens. She is a relaxed woman who does not flinch when the patient’s heart becomes arrhythmic and his systolic blood pressure drops fourty units.

“The patient’s blood pressure rose because he was in pain,” she explains later. “So I gave him some morphine to bring it back down.”

They take turns feeling for the tumor—the rectal cancer we’ve spent the last hour unraveling bowels to find.

“We’re gonna get this mother out!”

A section of contracting intestine is laid on a device that looks suspiciously like a kitchen mandolin. With a swift slice, it is cut neatly in two, sealed on both sides with a row of staples. The blood-stained gloves are withdrawn, as the yellowed flaps of skin fall back into place and a white towel is laid over the incision.

The entire party moves towards the patient’s elevated feet as everyone arches over Dr. Cohen’s shoulders to get a closer look. He sits facing the patient, as a beam of light from a vaguely orthodontic headpiece illuminates everything between the patient’s legs.

I was worried that I would be struck with the juvenile urge to laugh inappropriately at moments like this. However, the thighs and buttocks, swabbed with yellow iodine, look more like scientific specimens than a man’s backside. A metal device exposes the anus as Dr. Cohen takes up the electrocautery once again.

The room is hushed as he dexterously cuts through the layers of flesh around the opening. Blood pooling at the base of the incision drips into the pan on his knees. My back aches when the cautery is finally laid down an hour later.

He reaches in with a pair of blunt forceps. With a gentle tug, the rectum slides out and slumps into a metal pan, bloated and slick with blood. One end is still stapled shut. I crouch over, incredulous, staring into the cavity. Distilled water, poured in from a perineal incision, rushes out, caught in a container labeled “biological waste.” Over the next half hour, the opening is meticulously cleaned and sealed with tiny stitches.

There is now a quarter-sized hole on the left side of the patient’s abdomen. Reaching into the abdominal cavity, the senior resident threads the remaining intestine through, leaving the end protruding like a large red navel. He places a doughnut-shaped sticker over the stoma, the colon’s opening.

“This part can get a bit messy,” he says mischievously as he snips off the staples, opening up the intestine. Finally, a plastic pouch is fastened to the sticker: the new endpoint for the patient’s excretory system.

Only then does it occur to me that the patient will have to live with a colostomy pouch for the rest of his life. He will experience the emotional triumph of beating cancer, but will have to endure the consequences. Days after the surgery, I am still berating myself for getting swept away by the blood and gore, reducing the patient to a jumble of bloody organs and iodine-stained limbs. It is frighteningly easy to do, especially when you never see their face.

The pressure on the surgeon—who personally meets with the patients and often, their families—is immense. The next time I see Dr. Cohen, I ask him how he deals with the anxiety that comes with so much responsibility.

“You learn from your training and your mentors that you’re in charge in the operating room. You saw all the people milling around: nurses, anesthetists, visitors, residents. There are ten to twelve people out there.”

For him, the patient is always at the heart of the experience. “If you lose control or get excited, everyone around you gets excited and you can never proceed. You’re the captain of the ship and you have to stay calm, even if you may be a little nervous. Mainly because when you get in a flap, you can’t do a good job with the patient.”

‘Outsider’ CRO has links to exec

UTSU’s elections committee hired their chief returning officer for her lack of connections to U of T, but she was contacted for the job through a friend of the current executive who chairs the elections committee.

CRO Lydia Treadwell and Dave Scrivener, the chair of UTSU’s Elections and Referenda Committee and VP external, told The Varsity conflicting stories about her hiring. Scrivener denied soliciting any applications, but Treadwell said a mutual friend of her and Scrivener’s passed on her name. Scrivener said the ERC did not solicit applications, and that Treadwell probably surfaced in a stack of resumes. “We got enough by just putting it up on the Career [Centre] site and our own website,” Scrivener said, claiming that UTSU did not try to hand-pick anyone for the job. “We didn’t need to,” he added.

The Career Centre website is only open to U of T students and alumna.

Treadwell said she was contacted on Jan. 23, and that Scrivener got her name through a friend. She had met Scrivener earlier on a car trip. “Dave contacted the person from the trip to see if they knew anyone who would be a good CRO, and they mentioned my name,” she said.

The CRO is hired to administer the election as a neutral third party. Treadwell’s job includes upholding the Elections Procedural Code, authorizing all election materials, and organizing an all-candidates meeting. She will count the votes with the chief deputy returning officer.

The elections committee can overrule Treadwell’s decisions.

Scrivener said Treadwell’s lack of connections to U of T makes her a neutral third party. Treadwell is not involved with any club or college, and has never been elected to any position at a university—qualities that Scrivener said make her a more neutral third party than the U of T students who were up for the job. Last year’s CRO Gail Alivio had also never attended U of T. She is a deputy returning officer this year and will assist Treadwell.

Treadwell said her qualifications also include experience on three winning election campaigns, though she refused to identify these elections. “I don’t think it’s relevant and I’m not going to disclose,” she said. “I have a firm handle on elections, I know the process.” She added that she did not disclose the specifics of the campaigns when she was interviewed by Scrivener and UTSU director Angela Reginer. Treadwell works for the advocacy group Environmental Defence.

Treadwell officially became CRO on Feb. 12, too late for her to approve election notices, which came out on Feb. 5. That notice, published on the UTSU website and in The Varsity, gave the incorrect numbers of board members for Woodsworth College, New College, and the engineering faculty. The error has since been corrected on the UTSU website.

Scrivener estimated the ERC was struck in November or December. At press time, the meeting minutes with the exact date were not available online.

According to UTSU bylaws, president Sandy Hudson, VP internal Adnan Najmi, and VP university affairs Adam Awad should sit on the ERC. Instead, UTSU execs are represented by Scrivener and Khota Aleer, VP equity. The other four seats are filled by UTSU directors Meghan McPhee, Sarah Ali, Maria Galvez, and Jacqui Wilson.

With files from Naushad Ali Husein

A policy’s journey across Canada

Released December 3rd of last year, the latest guidelines for ethical research involving humans are now being submitted to the Canadian research community for review and consultation. These stipulations apply to any institute or researcher eligible to receive funding from the community and whose research involves humans.

The updated version of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS) was drafted by the federal Interagency Panel on Research Ethics on behalf of Canada’s three federal funding agencies: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

First published in 1998 and updated in 2000, 2002, and 2005, the TCPS has had a major overhaul to reflect the changing needs of researchers and 10 years of scientific advance.

Research ethics is a relatively new field, tracing its origins to the Nuremberg Code and the 1947 Declaration of Helsinki. While it has evolved significantly over the last few decades, there is still a long way to go. Fundamental questions, like “does the TCPS improve the ethics of research?” remain unanswered, says panel member Dr. Jim Lavery, an assistant professor at U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health Sciences. “It is extremely difficult to study its impact precisely. However, the guidelines provide a crucial common starting place.”

The process has not been without its challenges. “It’s been arduous,” says Lavery. The professor adds that it has been “an astonishing policy journey.”

What makes the TCPS so unique, he says, is that it’s “a living document.” The official web-based version now allows for ongoing communication between the panel, the research community, and the public. “If a person wishes clarification on a certain issue, they can submit a query and the panel will return with an official interpretation,” Lavery explains.

This characteristic distinguishes it from the U.S. research ethics model, based on a set of regulations called the Common Rule. The U.S. regulations are essentially law, making changes “very legalistic and complex, and the result is that it is very poorly responsive or non-responsive to rapid changes in the science,” says Lavery.

The TCPS and the ethics review process have not been without their share of critics. At a recent U of T consultation session, a social science researcher complained that emphasis on consent forms in the 1998 version undermined the sense of trust between researcher and subject. Researchers, particularly in the social sciences and humanities, have noted that the ethics review process can be cumbersome, unhelpful, and at its worst, an obstacle to their work.

According to Lavery, face-to-face consultation with the people involved in, and affected by, research is fundamental. “This [consultation tour] is where we’ll hear whether we’ve gotten close to something that resonates with the communities that we’re trying to respond to,” he says.

Major changes to the TCPS include condensing the eight original guiding principles into three, and a more comprehensive section on research involving Aboriginal communities.

Lavery emphasized that this document is not a how-to manual, but is designed to guide Research Ethics Boards (REBs) as they make difficult decisions. Ideally ethical decision-making should to be a part of everyday scientific practice.

Lavery notes that accessibility and communication are the cornerstones of the document’s success. Making it available online and written in an understandable fashion will “set the tone about what [publicly funded] ethical commitments are about.”

The TCPS consultation period ends March 31, 2009. The panel will then incorporate feedback from the consultations into a final draft, presented to the agencies by the end of June 2009. It is expected that the agencies will approve the new version by November 2009.

For more information about the second draft of the TCPS document, and its contents and history, visit www.pre.ethics.gc.ca

Raising the stakes

CFS connections

How close, if at all, should UTSU be to the Canadian Federation of Students? Some praise the group for organizing mass advocacy on student issues, while others see them as power-hungry, careerist, wannabe-NDP hacks.


What commitment should UTSU have in campaigning to lower tuition and ancillary fees? Some support advocacy for cancelling or lowering tuition fees. Others want less secondary fees, such as for Hart House, textbooks, and campus media. Last year UTSU reps voted for the $18 Varsity Centre bubble levy after a heated referendum; now funding for the Centre for High Performance Sport, the Student Commons, and other projects may be raised.

Advocacy or service?

Should unions primarily campaign on student issues, or should their focus be on supplying services? UTSU has lost points with some students for its political slant, and for spending time on activism that doesn’t yield results. Many find class sizes and professor accessibility more important than Drop Fees protests.


How much should UTSU compromise for an annual Metropass built into the T-card? Should the union insist on an opt-out? Last fall, the TTC proposed a $480-per-year, non-transferable pass for September to April with no opt-out. The idea died before reaching a vote and UTSC’s referendums failed, although many are using public transit in the midst of the recession.

Towards 2030

President David Naylor’s roadmap for the university advocates corporate research partnerships and hints at fee hikes. How should the plan be approached as it goes to Phase 2? An all-campus plebiscite by UTSU and GSU found 93 per cent against the removal of provincial regulations on tuition, which the plan is likely to ask for.

Student space

Who gets a say in how to run the upcoming student commons? The campus has crumbling infrastructure and few places to study and hang out. How effectively can UTSU advocate for more student space?

Clubs funding

Last year, UTM’s union wanted its own budget for clubs, taking a chunk out of UTSU’s ability to fund over 350 recognized clubs. Clubs who do not receive official recognition face astronomical fees for space bookings. The Clubs Committee meets behind closed doors, and club leaders are outnumbered two to one. The committee chair is appointed, not elected.

Satellite campuses

Should UTSU’s relations with UTM and UTSC change? The Mississauga campus shares responsibilities between its union and UTSU. Scarborough has an independent union.


Students have made repeated efforts to make their union more transparent and accessible. Moves to have the board meeting minutes posted online were struck down at November’s annual general meeting, on the basis that campaign strategies would become available for admin to view.

Shame of the Yankees

It hardly seems possible that three weeks ago, Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees were fretting over something as meaningless as whether teammates called the star slugger “A-Fraud” behind his back.

Former Yankees manager Joe Torre makes that assertion in his new tell-all book The Yankee Years, in which Torre and co-writer Tom Verducci craft an intriguing third-person narrative that reveals the juiciest gossip about the inner-workings of the Yankee clubhouse.

But the most shocking details, the ones unbeknownst to Torre and the rest of the world, were revealed just days after the book’s release: Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003.

The test was initially implemented as a way to determine the extent to which steroids had permeated baseball, and it was supposed to be anonymous. Yet when results of Rodriguez’s positive test leaked to Sports Illustrated reporters, published February 7, the name-calling in Torre’s book was pushed out of the headlines.

The results of the leak are yet another damning chapter of baseball’s steroids era. They cement the destruction of Rodriguez’s reputation as a natural talent who would erase the memory of steroid offender Barry Bonds and become the new home run king.

As fans and the media point fingers at Rodriguez and commissioner Bud Selig for letting steroids take over the game under his watch, the timing couldn’t have been worse for the Yankees. They’re already in dire straits, having missed the playoffs in 2008, the year after they fired Torre in favour of Joe Girardi.

The Yankee Years follows Torre from his hiring as Yankee manager in 1996, through the team’s dynasty years, their decline and fall, closing with Torre’s inevitable dismissal.

Along the way, Torre recounts the most famous moments of what he deems the “neo-Peloponnesian War” between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox. While it’s interesting for any baseball fan to revisit Torre’s in-game managerial decisions, the most salacious details are Torre’s personal opinions on players like the irresponsible David Wells, the mercurial Kevin Brown, and natural born leader Derek Jeter.

It’s common knowledge that the Yankees’ questionable personnel decisions have been responsible for their demise, and the destruction of team chemistry is nowhere more evident than in chapter eight, “The Issues of Alex.”

Torre chronicles the rift that developed between Rodriguez and Jeter, turning their friendship into a cold, unspoken feud. Rodriguez became obsessed with the public’s preference for the likable Jeter, despite Rodriguez being the far superior baseball player.

But his self-esteem issues would have far greater consequences.

Torre believes that Rodriguez’s problems stem from a fear of failure caused by his insatiable need to justify his outlandish contract and secure his place as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Concerning Rodriguez’s struggles under pressure, Torre says, “He was hyperaware of how he looked to others and how he was perceived. It was a self-awareness that crept into his at-bats in clutch situations, causing performance anxiety, and his teammates knew it.” As far as public condemnations go, it doesn’t get more overt than that.

In his emotional apology, Rodriguez cited these exact fears as the motivation that caused him to turn to performance-enhancing drugs.

The media reaction has since been all over the map, with some calling for Rodriguez’s accomplishments to be stricken from the record. Others are more willing to forgive, since baseball had no formal rules against steroids use when the then Texas Rangers shortstop failed testing in 2003.

Ultimately, the solution has yet to play out, as Rodriguez has at least a decade of his career ahead of him, which he’ll likely spend trying to make amends. It’s worth noting that no player identified in the Mitchell Report as having tested positive for banned substances has been elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Torre also vents his frustrations over the yearly player turnover that turned the Yankees from annual championship contenders to a mess of artificially inflated egos and biceps. He describes the ill-advised moves as “heading toward an abyss.”

Yet even during this current off-season, the team has made alarmingly similar moves to the ones that dragged them down in the first place. They’ve once again attempted to bolster the pitching staff with high-priced signings, including a small-market star who seems unprepared for the New York microscope in C.C. Sabathia (whose potential issues resemble those of Randy Johnson and Javier Vazquez), and an unreliable, injury-prone starter in A.J. Burnett (shades of Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright).

But Rodriguez’s poor play in the clutch and endless personal distractions are by far the team’s biggest problem. Fall out from the steroid scandal will undoubtedly make the 2009 season immeasurably difficult.

In these times of crisis, the comments Rodriguez made on the day of his trade to the Yankees are particularly poignant: “I have seven years to play with Derek and set my legacy as far as being a part of Yankees history.”

With a new reputation as a steroid user whose accomplishments are forever tainted, Rodriguez has succeeded in cementing his legacy. Now he’ll have to live with it.