Archive for August, 2019

Do Oscar winners live longer than nominees? The science on winning

TORONTO – Will Matthew McConaughey live well into his 90s with good old Oscar in his hands while Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper wallow in their losses?

For over a decade, scientists have studied Oscar winners and losers. Their findings? Taking home the golden statue gives you four more years of life compared to your nominated peers. And the more you win, the longer you live.

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(There was no link between multiple nominations and multiple losses, as long as you won. That must be great news to Meryl Streep – she has 18 nominations and three Oscar wins.)

The first research was done at the University of Toronto in 2001. Some 1,600 Oscar-nominated actors and actresses were studied next to another 900 actors and actresses.

Noted epidemiologist Donald A. Redelmeier matched the actors up according to age and sex and who had appeared in the same films without being nominated.

“We wondered whether the Academy Awards might shed light on how social status affects all-cause mortality. We chose this event because it generates substantial attention,” the researchers wrote.

Turns out, most Oscar winners lived until 80 years old on average while second-place actors and those who weren’t even nominated at all died by 76, Business Insider reported.

If actors snagged a second trophy, they’d tack on another two years to their lives, marking a six-year disparity.

“We found that they died from the same things we all die from — cancer, heart disease, strokes — but they fought them a bit longer or their onset came a bit later,”  Redelmeier told ABC News.

He said that it was Gwyneth Paltrow and her tearful speech after her 1998 win that inspired him to conduct this research.

“She seemed so much more alive than any patient I had looked at in my practice,” Redelmeier told ABC. “She looked more full of life than anyone I had seen.”

Redelmeier also went on to study directors and found that if they won an Oscar, they’d live two years longer than their statue-less counterparts. Winning screenwriters didn’t find a boost in life longevity at all.

So what is it about the Oscar that extends a celebrity’s life? Redelmeier suggests it has to do with success and the high status that comes along with it.

“Movie stars are often subjected to personal scrutiny that far exceeds their dramatic achievements. They often need to preserve their image by continually avoiding disgraceful behaviours and maintaining exemplary conduct,” the researchers wrote in their now 13-year-old study.

They have managers, personal chefs, trainers, nannies and other staff working on their team. They need to deliver some wins to prop up their high status, the study suggests.

“The main implication is that higher status may be linked to lower mortality rates even at very impressive levels of achievement,” the researchers concluded.

But Redelmeier didn’t have the final word: a follow-up study in 2006 re-examined the study and came up with a totally different conclusion.

This time, a McGill University statistician said that the study was misunderstanding a key component, what’s called an “immortal time bias,” according to Forbes. It’s not that actors live longer, it’s just that they have more time to win an Oscar, the follow-up research suggested.

By 2011 – yes, this was studied for a third time – another journal article concluded: “There is not strong evidence that winning an Oscar increases life expectancy.”

In between this heated debate about winning Oscars and living longer, researchers also looked into the age differences between male and female nominees (women were always younger than male nominees) and what’s been dubbed the “Oscar curse.”

In that case, University of Toronto researchers said that a long line of best actress winners all saw the demise of their marriages shortly after taking home their awards. The list of broken marriages? Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry, Kate Winslet and even Sandra Bullock.

But what does this mean for Cate Blanchett? The Blue Jasmine lead won the coveted best actress award Sunday night, and has been married to playwright Andrew Upton for 16 years.

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©2014Shaw Media

Quebec government and doctors brace for Bill 20 hearings – Montreal

QUEBEC CITY – An explosive piece of legislation will land in MNAs’ laps next week. Bill 20 forcing doctors to work more hours or risk losing pay will be dissected in committee hearings starting Tuesday.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette first tabled the bill on Nov. 28. In December, hundreds of general practitioners took part in emergency meetings in Montreal and Quebec City. They are outraged they would be required to take on a minimum of 1,000 patients or risk losing up to 30 per cent of their pay.

“The workload of a family physician in Quebec is 50 per cent higher than the workload of a family physician in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada,” said Louis Godin, President of the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners.

Barrette responded that on the contrary, 60 per cent of general practitioners in Quebec work less than 25 weeks a year.

Gaetan Barrette is pictured in Quebec City, August 12, 2012.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

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On Friday, the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) predicted the war of numbers – and the emotion surrounding the issue – will make for an explosive debate at the National Assembly.

“We’ve talked about structures and governance, now we’re really heading into the crux of the matter – accessibility,” said the party’s Health Critic, François Paradis. “It’s an extremely important issue for Quebecers.”

The CAQ will suggest the minister instead adjust doctors’ pay according to the number of patients they see and change the law to allow doctors to delegate more work to paramedical staff. The opposition party will also ask that Bill 20 be split in two, because the other part of the bill – restricting access to in vitro – is equally important and needs to be thoroughly studied.

READ MORE: Quebec doctors say Bill 20 will jeopardize future of family medicine

“Our concerns are the ones that our members feel because they are part of the population, they’re the middle class, they want to have good health services,” said SPGQ union spokesperson Richard Perron.

Bill 20 proposes that in vitro fertilization be limited to women between the ages of 18 and 42. And even then, only artificial insemination would continue to be covered by medicare. All other procedures would have to be paid by the patient upfront, and tax credits would be offered.

READ MORE: Opinion: Bill 20 will turn every patient in Quebec into a number instead of a person

The PQ accused the Liberals Friday of bulldozing through their reforms.

“Currently, in all corners of Quebec, people feel they are not being consulted, they are being bulldozed,” said PQ MNA Harold LeBel.

Hearings kick off Tuesday with the Quebec Bar Association. At least 50 groups will be heard over the next four weeks.


City estimates Saskatoon’s population over quarter million – Saskatoon

SASKATOON – The city has estimated that Saskatoon’s population has topped a quarter million people by the beginning of March.

By using the latest Statistics Canada figures up to July 1, 2013 and applying a three per cent annual growth rate, city planners calculated the population reached around 253,000 as of Saturday.

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“Based on the information from Statistics Canada, we have increased by a rate of 40.4 per thousand, which hasn’t been achieved by any other census metropolitan in more than 15 years,” said Alan Wallace, the city’s planning and development director.

“Our growing, thriving, economy and high quality of life make the city an attractive place for new residents and recent Canadians to call home.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan population reaches new all-time high

Using the same calculation for the Saskatoon Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), which includes surrounding rural communities, it is estimated to have nearly reached 300,000.

Planners regularly calculate population estimates using StatsCan information to assist the city in identifying future needs.

Does Rob Ford’s California trip flout conduct rules? – Toronto

Watch the video above: Councillors worried mayor ‘set up’ by Kimmel. Jackson Proskow reports. 

TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford’s trip to California for a late-night appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show might put him at odds with the city’s integrity commissioner.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who spearheaded an effort to strip the mayor of his powers, said Monday that when he was offered a plane ticket by CNN to appear on the network, the integrity commissioner told him it would violate the municipal code of conduct act.

Doug Ford told Global News Sunday that the Jimmy Kimmel show provided part of the cost for the trip that brought him, the mayor, their brother Randy and the mayor’s press secretary to California.

Watch: Rob Ford makes brief appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show

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But Amin Massoudi, the mayor’s press secretary, said in an email that Kimmel only paid for one dinner.

The city’s code of conduct rules clearly states “no member shall accept a fee, advance, gift or personal benefit that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his or her duties in office.”

It’s not clear whether the trip or the alleged dinner partially paid for by the Jimmy Kimmel show qualify as a gift. The integrity commissioner has not confirmed whether the ticket qualifies as a prohibited gift.

Ford said Sunday their main priority while in Los Angeles, apart from appearing on Kimmel, is to promote Toronto as “Hollywood of the north.”

“Everyone we talk to, everyone the mayor talks to, we’re just promoting and pumping Toronto. Advertising on ABC is going at $1.8 million for every 30 seconds and we’re going to get more than 30 seconds I’ll tell you that,” Ford said in the telephone interview. “And if we’ve invited one person, we’ve invited ten thousand people to Toronto and we’re going to continue promoting the greatest city in the world.”

His brother, Mayor Ford, said he is looking “forward to meeting with some actors and actresses tonight and telling them how great [Toronto] is.”

The mayor has run afoul of the city’s code of conduct legislation before. Most notably, in 2010 when the city’s integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, ruled the mayor had contravened the conflict of interest act by participating in the debate and vote in which he had a financial interest. The vote ended up being taken to court where the mayor was originally ousted from office before that decision was overturned through appeal.

©2014Shaw Media

The promise and peril of a connected world – National

BARCELONA, Spain – We’re in the beginning of a world in which everything is connected to the Internet and with one another, while powerful yet relatively cheap computers analyze all that data for ways to improve lives.

Toothbrushes tell your mirror to remind you to floss. Basketball jerseys detect impending heart failure and call the ambulance for you.

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At least that’s the vision presented this past week at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain. The four-day conference highlighted what the tech industry has loosely termed “the Internet of things.”

Some of that wisdom is already available or promised by the end of the year.

Fitness devices from Sony and Samsung connect with your smartphones to provide digital records of your daily lives. French startup Cityzen Sciences has embedded fabric with heart-rate and other sensors to track your physical activities.

Internet-connected toothbrushes are coming from Procter and Gamble’s Oral-B business and from another French startup, Kolibree. The mirror part is still a prototype, but Oral-B’s smartphone app does tell you to floss.

Car makers are building in smarter navigation and other hands-free services, while IBM and AT&T are jointly equipping cities with sensors and computers for parking meters, traffic lights and water systems to all communicate.

Internet-connected products represent a growth opportunity for wireless carriers, as the smartphone business slows down in developed markets because most people already have service.

With the technological foundations here, the bigger challenge is getting people, businesses and municipalities to see the potential. Then there are security and privacy concerns – health insurance companies would love access to your fitness data to set premiums.

At a more basic level, these systems have to figure out a way to talk the same language. You might buy your phone from Apple, your TV from Sony and your refrigerator for Samsung. It would be awful to get left out because you aren’t loyal to a single company. Plus, the smartest engineers in computing aren’t necessarily the best in clothing and construction.

Expect companies to work together to set standards, much the way academic and military researchers created a common language decades ago for disparate computer networks to communicate, forming the Internet. Gadget makers are starting to build APIs – interfaces for other systems to pull and understand data.

Building everything is too much for a single company, yet “they want all this stuff to work together,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, a backer of the Tizen project for connecting watches, cars and more. Samsung’s new fitness watches will use Tizen, and tools have been built to talk with Samsung’s Android phones.

As for persuading customers, IBM executive Rick Qualman said the emphasis now is on pilot projects to demonstrate the benefits, such as better deployment of equipment and personnel during a natural disaster.

At the wireless show last week, Zelitron, a Greek subsidiary of Vodafone, showed how retailers can keep track of refrigerators used to dispense bottled drinks. The system tracks temperatures and inventory, and knows if a fridge is inadvertently unplugged.

Meanwhile, Cityzen hired athletes to demonstrate its connected fabric by playing basketball. Data get sent to a smartphone app using Bluetooth wireless technology.

Gilbert Reveillon, international managing director for Cityzen, said he’s had interest from a U.K. car insurance company and Chinese hospitals. Health data can tell you whether you’re fit to drive and can call paramedics in an emergency.

Some customers might worry about security, given recent breaches compromising credit and debit card numbers at Target and other major retailers.

Determined hackers seem to constantly find loopholes. Imagine someone spying on you remotely through security cameras in your home or tricking your home security system into believing your car is approaching, so it opens your garage door automatically.

AT&T emphasizes that it uses encryption and other safeguards for its connected services, which include security monitoring and energy-efficiency controls in homes. Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president of emerging enterprises and partnerships, said the U.S. wireless carrier goes through extensive security certification and exceeds industry recommendations.

Reveillon said any data sharing by Cityzen will be in aggregate form, with users’ identities removed. He said individual users could decide to share more, but that would be up to them. He said French regulators are quite strict on that.

But U.S. regulation isn’t, and a government subpoena is typically enough to override any promises of privacy. Once the information is available, privacy advocates say, it’s tempting to find other uses for it.

Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard University, said it’s difficult for people to say no when presented with immediate benefits because any potential problems are vague and years away.

“Information seems harmless and trivial at the moment, but can be recorded forever . and can be combined with other data,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve come to terms with that yet.”

©2014The Associated Press

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