Know your sports injuries

If you have ever played a sport or just moved off the couch too fast, you have probably experienced a shoulder injury. While you probably shrugged it off without any care, a slight injury can be aggravated into a serious problem. Many professional athletes, including Leaf’s winger Gary Roberts, have suffered season or even career-ending shoulder injuries as a result of minor injuries that snowballed into a serious problem.

It can start as a minor tear in the shoulder tendon, as in Robert’s case, and become serious when you play three or four playoff rounds, where the shoulder is repeatedly smashed, crushed, and hyper-extended by blunt force.  

The main joint in the shoulder is formed by the arm bone and the shoulder blade. The joint socket is very shallow to allow a wide range of motion in the arm, but this feature also makes the joint extremely fragile if moved in an improper manner. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that surround the arm bone.

This cuff keeps the shoulder steady as the arm moves. One of the muscles, the supraspinatus muscle, rests on top of the shoulder and its tendon travels under the bone on the outside of the shoulder. This tendon is the one most often injured because of its position between the bones. As the tendon becomes inflamed, it can become pinched between the two bones. This painful situation limits shoulder movement and can lead to a restricted range of motion.

An injury such as this one is most common in sports such as hockey, basketball and tennis, where the arm gets stretched beyond its limits.

Typically, the shoulder joint is the most easily dislocated joint in the body. In a typical case of a dislocated shoulder, a strong force pulls the shoulder outward or extreme rotation of the joint pops the ball of the humerus out of the shoulder socket. Dislocation commonly occurs when there is a backward pull on the arm that either catches the muscles unprepared to resist, or overwhelms the muscles. So when you lay the smack-down on that guy trying to steal your Nikes, a quick down and back motion to his shoulder should take him out for a while.

But seriously, a dislocation usually occurs in sports such as rugby and football where the shoulder is constantly receiving heavy blows.

Not only does the arm appear out of position when the shoulder dislocates, the dislocation also produces immense pain. Muscle spasms may increase the intensity of pain. Swelling, numbness, weakness, and bruising are likely to develop. Problems seen with a dislocated shoulder are tearing of the ligaments or tendons reinforcing the joint capsule and, less commonly, nerve damage. Though the symptoms seem minor, the effects of a shoulder injury can have long-term effects.

It is one thing to be aware of the risks when it comes to shoulder injuries, it is another to be able to prevent them before they happen. While it is virtually impossible to prevent an unexpected tackle, it is quite easy to exercise and maintain good body condition to help deal with injuries. You might not be able to win the war on injuries, but you can at least try and win the battle.

Obsession like you’ve never seen it before

Depicting a young man’s obsession with a homeless girl, Sleep Always is the first feature film for up-and-coming writer/directors Mitch Perkins and Rick Palidwor. Starring Fred Spek and Laurie Maher, it premiered at Hart House Theatre this past weekend.

Spek is Frank, a tortured young man with little to do but vie for the attention of Nada (Maher), a mysterious girl who often finds shelter in his apartment’s stairwell, much to the chagrin of some of its tenants. The lonely Frank, however, finds himself on a mission to “save” Nada, as much for his own benefit as hers. Easier said than done—the object of his obsession seems to want little to do with him, yet keeps reappearing in his life (and apartment building).

Sleep Always is, technically speaking, very solid. Much of the excitement surrounding the film involves the method used to produce it. Mitch Perkins has developed a super-8 film format that involves “exposing the sound stripe area of the film, as with super-16…. During telecine we have to shrink this wide frame to fit the 4:3 television frame, resulting in tighter grain but still retaining the small-gauge feel.” The resulting “super-duper 8” format has a much more professional-appearing texture, which also adds to the impact of the lead character’s inner struggle and borderline psychosis.

Another strong aspect of the film is its soundtrack. In keeping with the indie theme, the musical talent used includes names like The Dinner is Ruined, Tim Postgate, Do Make Say Think, and Jamie Browning. Ranging from rock/alternative to more folky sounds depending on the particular scene being overlaid, the choice of music is both diverse and thoughtful.

It’s clear that a lot of time and dedication were poured into the making of Sleep Always, and the cast and crew’s efforts were certainly not lost on the audience.

The media is the message

Emma Wadland wears dark sunglasses and says she’s here because of her humanity. Dressed in a black blouse and skirt, the U of T student holds hands with fellow strangers. It’s one year after Sept. 11 and a Native ceremony is being held by U of T at the north end of Philosopher’s Walk in commemoration.

After a brief speech by a Native elder, drumming begins. A chant resonates in sync to the powwow drum being struck. Everyone stands in a circle around it and one can see that a diverse group is present, typical of ceremonies for Sept. 11. Most are here because, as Wadland says, she felt a need to be though she has no personal relation to the events.

“There was something about those images that day that struck me,” she says. “They’ve been in my mind ever since.”

It’s in Tokyo that the drumming coverage of the day begins. A group of shoeless Japanese businessmen are standing silently in a small rock garden in their office tower.

In Berlin, Germany, mourners weep while laying candles and flowers at the American embassy’s front gates.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, a panning view inside a church shows the pews to be full. The camera zooms in on a girl solemnly holding a candle, standing in front of a statue of Jesus.

Television news is broadcasting the message all over the planet as it rotates into the day of the anniversary: Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy has come true. We are all living in a global village and the tribal drums are sounding.

What would the 20th century’s most famous media theorist say if he had been alive the day the images of the World Trade Center towers falling were broadcast world-wide? What meaning would he see in it?

“I think the implosion of the towers upon themselves would remind him of his many observations about the electronic implosion of the world upon itself, the collapse of cultures living at different speeds and forced to coexist,” says Derrick de Kerckhove, director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at U of T.

De Kerckhove, who worked with McLuhan for over ten years as translator, assistant and co-author, says McLuhan was a fervent believer in electronic media being an extension of the human nervous system. Television especially, would give rise to a constricted world marked by interdependence, simultaneity, and the inescapable presence of others—the global village. Most importantly, it would create a technological form of global consciousness and retribalize humanity by engaging all of its senses.

“The global village is the world under the conditions of television,” says de Kerckhove.

If so, then perhaps Osama bin Laden was making a statement less about American culture per se than about the global effect of American television and mass media when the World Trade Center was attacked.

Back in the 1960s, McLuhan noted the global village was being built by Western mass media, particularly American. Today, regions around the world that had little electronic media presence forty years ago are being pulled into the media maelstrom of the global village at a breakneck speed. They are forced to defend values, beliefs and religions against a global media largely dominated by American culture.

“When an individual or social group feels that its whole identity is jeopardized by social or psychic change, its natural reaction is to lash out in defensive fury,” said McLuhan in a 1969 Playboy interview.

Perhaps the “metaphysician of media,” as the magazine dubbed him, would see Sept. 11 as meaning more than simply rage against the American cultural undertow in global media. McLuhan’s work emphasizes that every medium unconsciously shapes our thought and behaviour. A print-based society shifting the majority of its communication to electronic media, such as television, would undergo a period of profound disorientation.

As McLuhan once stated: “Particularly in countries where literate values are deeply institutionalized, [global village integration] is a highly traumatic process, since the clash of the old segmented visual culture and the new integral electronic culture creates a crisis of identity, a vacuum of the self, which generates tremendous violence—violence that is simply an identity quest, private or corporate, social or commercial.”

“McLuhan would surely be tempted to bring it all back to media biases, but he would also know that what we have here is not the evidence of a clash between TV and other media,” says de Kerckhove.

The man who virtually never watched television would certainly recognize that Sept. 11 was seemingly orchestrated for it, he says.

“He would have observed the process of ‘re-cognition’ at work in the time interval between the attacks on each tower,” says de Kerckhove.

In this view, the second hijacked plane was planned to crash into the other tower after a suitable amount of time had elapsed for television coverage to focus on the first crash. Watching the second plane hit on television was like an instant replay where the experience could be felt consciously rather than as a knee-jerk reaction. Being more conscious of it, the message of the experience could be received.

“McLuhan used to say, ‘The first time, you have the experience. The second time, you get the meaning.’ What is that meaning? It’s like everything else; it’s up to you, up to the whole world to decide, but what is no more an option is to refuse to look there.”

Whether the terrorists anticipated the television cameras pointing at the World Trade towers before the second plane hit is uncertain. Nor is it known if the date of the attacks—9/11—was chosen to better market the events in the media.

Speculation exists about the time of the attacks, too. Did they happen to take advantage of the crowds of people coming to work that morning? Or was it to allow television coverage to reach the 5.5 billion people that were awake eastwards between New York and Tokyo so they could watch it live?

Sept. 11, it seems, was about something beyond us, extending from us across the planet, whatever “us” is becoming. What the message is specifically is still undecided. But as McLuhan once said, “Unless we understand this dynamic, we shall move at once into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence.”

Clarkson takes globalization debate to Hart

Stephen Clarkson and Jack Layton went head-to-head at Hart House Theatre on Tuesday night over the effects of trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Canada.

Michael Coren and Michael Hawes joined the two in an event that doubled as a debate and book launch for Clarkson’s recently published Uncle Sam and Us.

Sponsored by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, the views of the speakers were dramatically opposed.

“The WTO is now acting as an external constitution, which is negatively affecting Canada’s ability to govern herself,” Clarkson said.

He also pointed out that the public must now view global governance in the framework of a global constitution. Clarkson compared the current popularity of the neo-conservative ideology to the medieval practice of bleeding patients.

“The present constraints on government are way too imbalanced in comparison to the freedom given to corporations [in trade treaties],” he noted.

Layton, the former head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, focused on the barriers that local governments have faced due to the proliferation of the corporate agenda. As proof, he cited the recent increase in private school enrolment.

“Our education system is becoming a part of the general trend towards allowing shareholders a stake in public services,” he said.

Layton also said the recent Tent City eviction is an example of how the city has struggled to keep corporations such as Wal-Mart from building on valuable property. He recalled that Wal-Mart made bids for that land but was turned down by city zoning laws because it contradicted urban planning notions.

“Democracy is a constraint on free trade, and therefore it [globalization] must be stopped,” Layton said.

Hawes took the opposing stance. “The WTO is not as powerful or effective as Clarkson thinks,” he said, adding that the WTO is a democratic organization made up of democratic nations. Hawes, who is a specialist in the area of comparative economic regionalism, said he believed that the “Asian Tiger” nations, as well as China, have been pulled out of poverty due to trade liberalization.

The speakers were all in agreement about the fact that while global trade is unstoppable at this point, it is in need of alterations—be they minor or major.

While Clarkson and Layton essentially said globalization has brought disastrous consequences, Hawes held his own as a free trade advocate.

Admin’s union threatens strike

A group of university administrative staff have mutinied against their own union, exacerbating the already complicated process of contract negotiation, and throwing the future of labour relations at U of T into doubt.

The revolt has been orchestrated by a group calling themselves the “Staff Representation Network” (SRN). An August memo from the SRN, e-mailed to approximately 2,300 unionized administrative workers, outlines the group’s grievances with their union and calls for its decertification.

“I’ve been unhappy with the United Steelworkers (USWA),” said Dave McRitchie, a part-time clerical worker at the U of T and a union member who received the e-mail. “I found them to be undemocratic, completely uninterested in the people attending their meetings…I don’t think this particular union is applicable to the university situation.”

USWA Local 1998 represents approximately 5,000 workers at U of T. Contract negotiations began over the summer, but the SRN says the members have been kept in the dark.

“We have not been invited to the table,” said SRN Chair Judi Schwartz. “The union began the negotiations in the summer. We have no idea what they are negotiating. All meetings have been in secret. Information has been sparse.”

The negotiations went to conciliation on Sept. 17, which means a provincial officer is sent in to get the university and the union talking again. As the talks stretched out over the summer, talk of a strike began to circulate. A USWA newsletter circulated to union members on Sept. 18 said that if negotiations did not pick up, Local 1998 “need[ed] to be ready to send a strong message to the university.”

Adding to this already tense situation, the SRN’s attempt to decertify USWA 1998 threatens to divide the union just as the negotiation is at its most delicate point. The same Sept. 18 newsletter says that such a split in the membership would weaken the union at the bargaining table.

Brian Marshall, director of human resources for the University, said that the possible split isn’t an issue however: “Both are continuing to talk, I believe very productively.” Of the SRN, he said “that’s an internal union matter; I don’t have any view on it at all.”

USWA 1998 representatives were contacted by The Varsity, but were unable to comment before press time.

The Students’ Administrative Council was unaware of the union split, but Mohammed Hashim, SAC university affairs commissioner said that the situation was “serious” and that SAC would consider its stance on the issue at a meeting of the executive on Thursday.

Decertification protocol requires the SRN to collect a list of names representing at least 40 per cent of the membership. Once that list has been submitted to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, a meeting of the membership must be held. If a simple majority of the membership vote for decertification, the United Steelworkers will lose the power to negotiate on behalf of the administrative staff.

Schwartz says the SRN is still looking at possible alternatives to the USWA. “We’re currently looking for an alternative, taking feedback from staff on all three campuses,” she said.

“I think the best solution is a staff association certified as a bargaining unit with the university,” said McRitchie.

Asked if there will be a strike, SRN supporters were uncertain. “I certainly hope not. I think the membership hopes not,” said Schwartz, adding that “There is a fear out there on campus that they may strike—whether it’s perceived or real, I don’t know.”

Women’s Bookstore pinned down over button controversy

A feminist bookstore with an activist bent is being threatened with a boycott because of the controversial buttons it sells.

The Toronto Women’s Bookstore—which has long sold textbooks for some U of T courses—sells several buttons beside its cash register, most with a political theme.

The buttons that touched off the controversy, which sell for $2, have slogans like “End the Occupation Now,” “Palestine—Homeland Denied,” and “Free Palestine—Time for Peace, Time for Women.”

Dr. Ari Zaretsky, an assistant professor in U of T’s psychiatry department, saw the buttons after a visit to the Harbord St. store.

Zaretsky contacted the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), which produced buttons with the phrase “Stop the Homicide Bombings” atop a Star of David. When the CJC brought the buttons to the store, the Toronto Women’s Bookstore refused to sell them.

The bookstore refused to comment on the matter in an interview. A statement issued by the store made no comment about refusing to sell the anti-suicide bombing buttons, but defended its sale of “Stop the Occupation” buttons.

“We continue to carry the buttons, as they are consistent with our mandate,” the statement read, adding that the mandate of the bookstore included “working in an anti-oppression framework that supports liberation struggles, anti-racist movements, struggles against anti-Semitism, and human rights work.”

The statement mentioned the bookstore’s “work with individuals and groups within Jewish, Palestinian and social activist communities,” including several Jewish groups that oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We are dismayed by the attempts to silence dissent on this issue in Toronto. Those criticizing the bookstore have equated criticism of Israel with being anti-Jewish. We believe that an end to occupation is part of the struggle against anti-Semitism,” the statement read.

U of T Hillel, a campus Jewish organization, was unable to comment on the matter before press time.

“How can a bookstore that promotes peace refuse to carry a button that begs for the end of the senseless killing of innocent women, men and children?” asked Canadian Jewish Congress Ontario chair Ed Morgan. Frank Dimant, the vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, said that the conduct of the bookstore was “part of the continuing parade of anti-Semitism on campus”

“To sell buttons in support of violence is beyond comprehension,” Dimant said, adding that “it voices its support for these kinds of hideous attacks” such as suicide bombings.

Actor Farmer sows seeds of native culture

The Aboriginal Studies Program kicked off its Distinguished Lecture Series on Sept. 23 with a talk from Toronto’s own Gary Farmer. The Native Canadian actor, producer, and cultural arts worker drew an intimate crowd at University College, where he spoke on “Breaking the Silence.”

Now nearly 50, Farmer has been breaking media waves for many years since his days growing up on the Six Nations Reserve outside Toronto. The Cayugan Native started out coaching theatre to kids in his community and has acquired a long list of film credits and awards in Canada and the U.S. He has appeared in more than 13 feature films, including Police Academy (1984) and Dead Man with Johnny Depp (1996).

Farmer has steered clear of the stereotypical Hollywood lifestyle, instead becoming actively involved in developing Native media opportunities closer to home. Since the early nineties he has published the award winning Aboriginal VOICES, a magazine dedicated to Native American arts and culture. He has also been a board member on the Ontario Arts Council and is the executive producer of the aboriginal people’s television talk show Buffalo Tracks.

During the lecture, Farmer reflected upon his busy and productive week. In addition to speaking at U of T, he had been around the corner on Brunswick Avenue shooting live tapings for Buffalo Tracks, performing at the Toronto Film studios for what will be Canada’s first Native sitcom, Our Diversity, and working with the CRTC to put Aboriginal VOICES on the radio in Toronto.

Farmer outlined the long struggle he and his colleagues have been going through to get a radio station in Canada. With CBC and Rogers occupying most of Canada’s FM radio, Farmer said, everyone else is left fighting over the small amount of bandwidth left in Toronto. He noted that Natives have persevered by raising their own finances and going up against big broadcasters. They have acquired signals in Calgary and Ottawa, and now are finally achieving success in Toronto.

Farmer moved the audience when he tearfully expressed that what is most important for indigenous peoples is building self-esteem. The audience applauded when he concluded his week had been so exhilarating because it was about the movement of a people.

Spruced moose graces campus

Moose sightings on campus are expected to increase. But the newest addition to U of T’s ecosystem won’t be stopping traffic or nibbling the shrubbery—it’s made of steel.

The metal sculpture of a moose, called Mooseconstrue, stands at the corner of St. George St. and Harbord St. It was created by acclaimed Canadian artist Charles Pachter.

Unveiled on Oct. 1, the sculpture is a companion to an earlier Pachter moose sculpture called Moosedemeanour, which stands in the courtyard of Graduate House.

Charles Pachter is widely regarded as one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists, holding degrees from the University of Toronto, the Sorbonne, and the Cranbook Academy of Art. Pachter exhibitions have toured France, Germany and Japan. Here at home his paintings hang in the Toronto Stock Exchange, and a TTC subway houses a mural dubbed “Hockey Knights in Canada” by Pachter.

“The moose is a membrane, a play between flatness, surface and surroundings,” Pachter said.

It took four days to cut and shape the steel moose through the innovative use of a high precision water-jet that slowly but surely cut the four-inch thick plate of steel into the silhouette of a moose.

However, tackling the bureaucracy of the city and university took much longer.

Mooseconstrue rests on the major gas supply pipeline of the campus. The grassy mound the moose stands on is also situated on city sidewalk, which the University had to obtain city permission to use.

It took four years and a lot of help from administration to tackle the city and university bureaucracy, and for that help Pachter dearly thanked everyone involved.

“It’s been dubbed ‘soon to arrive’ for the last four years,” said Carl Amrhein, dean of Arts and Science.

“Thank you to all who helped install the moose without shutting out the major gas supply on campus,” Amrhein added.

Pachter explained that it would take a minimum of 175 years before corrosion dissolved his sculpture, according to some engineers he spoke to.

The artist handpicked the location, directly across from Robarts Library and beside the Ramsey Wright Zoological building. “I live just down the street, and in passing, I saw this perfect mound of green, sloping slightly upward,” Pachter said.

Pachter explained that with the coming and going of seasons, the piece would change along with its surroundings. “Be sure to keep track as the weather changes. When it rained the other day, the metal turned into this beautiful dark hue of brown,” he said.

When winter snow comes, a mountain of white will surround the piece. At different times of the day, Mooseconstrue’s shadow length and lighting change dramatically, the artist noted. “It truly is an ongoing, interactive piece [with its environment].”

Pachter is hoping the grassy green mound becomes a favourite reading spot and meeting place for students on campus. “Hopefully, they’ll say, ‘meet you at the moose.’”

Photogaph by Kara Dillon