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Legendary jazz vocalist Etta James performs at the 26th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood in 2004. The pioneer of 1950s rhythm-and-blues died of complications from leukemia on Jan. 20, 2012, in Riverside, California. Today’s topics: e-connections with RIM; Etta James; MP spending; fill-in-the-blank spoken here ... and more (REUTERS)
Legendary jazz vocalist Etta James performs at the 26th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood in 2004. The pioneer of 1950s rhythm-and-blues died of complications from leukemia on Jan. 20, 2012, in Riverside, California. Today’s topics: e-connections with RIM; Etta James; MP spending; fill-in-the-blank spoken here ... and more (REUTERS)

What readers think

Jan. 25: Letters to the editor Add to ...

E-connections, eh

Canadians are our own worst enemy (Thumbs Down For RIM’s Shakeup – Jan. 24). One of the most successful companies on the planet can’t even rely on its own people for support. Research In Motion has no debt, $1.5-billion in cash, sales in India and Africa are way up – and the media concentrate on what RIM’s competition wants to hear. I’ve had BlackBerrys for years and have no intention of switching. It’s a great business tool and made by a Canadian company.

Robert Kennedy, Toronto

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RIM’s new CEO Thorsten Heins is missing a key item from his to-do list – reliable technology. I don’t need fancy apps to tell me where to eat. I want technology that works consistently.

Lee Anne Downey, Oakville, Ont.

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Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have much more on their minds than mansions and hockey teams (Twilight Of The Smartphone Gods – Jan. 24). Both are generous philanthropists. Their beneficiaries have included the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics, the University of Waterloo Quantum-Nano Centre, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Canadian International Council, the Balsillie School of International Affairs, the Grand River Hospital Cancer Centre, the Stratford Festival, youth-empowerment We Day events, the local food bank and much more. Our community, educational institutions and country have been transformed because of their vision and charitable contributions.

Senta Ross, Kitchener, Ont.

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I travelled south recently with my teenage daughter. We agreed to leave our “umbilical cords” (BlackBerrys) at home. My daughter took her iPod, which, unbeknown to me, provided not just music but access to Facebook, Twitter and e-mails.

In the lobby the first evening, I saw lots of people moving about, oblivious to their surroundings, using cellphones, working their BlackBerrys, iPads, iPods and Skype.

At week’s end, I thought about what I’d experienced: a new culture, traditional meals I’d had travelling off the beaten path, books I’d read, journaling, the long walks, endless hours staring at that coral blue Caribbean water. I wondered: Was I the one who was connected, or disconnected?

Gary Rubie, Georgetown, Ont.

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Just let me hear

Lynn Crosbie’s tribute to Etta James (Why Etta Deserved Better – Arts, Jan. 24) reminded me of my favourite James moment. In the mid-1980s, Keith Richards organized a tribute concert for Chuck Berry, immortalized in the documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ’N’ Roll, and invited an all-star cast of musicians to participate.

The eccentric Berry objected to Richards’s suggestion of James, saying he didn’t know who she was. Richards insisted. If Berry’s concern was that James might upstage him, it was vindicated: She stole the show, blowing the roof off with her rendition of his hit song Rock and Roll Music.

Geoff Read, London, Ont.

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Heritage lamented

The libraries of the CBC represent an essential compendium of our cultural musical heritage (CBC Music: Out With The Old, In With The New – Arts, Jan. 24). Despite a lessening need for the actual physical use of these objects, there is information (in liner notes, for example) that is irreplaceable.

Surely there is a pure aesthetic and artistic value in preserving hundreds of thousands of physical recordings, representing some of the finest music in all the world. Who knows what treasures will be lost in this shortsighted move?

What’s next? Is Glenn Gould’s piano for sale, too?

Morgan Childs, musician, Toronto

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A voice lamented

It seems editorials on head injuries inflicted in hockey, sex-selection abortions and hospital parking fees may be considered inappropriate topics for the Canadian Medical Association Journal (A Medical Provocateur Loses His Bully Pulpit – Focus, Jan. 21).

In not affirming interim editor Rajendra Kale in his position, the CMAJ missed an opportunity to widen its perspective and influence on the real world patients live in. The causes espoused by Dr. Kale are society’s causes.

The Oxford Canadian Dictionary defines “bully pulpit” as “a prominent or advantageous position used to promote one’s cause.” The term suggests bullying and abuse of power. A better headline might have been “A medical provocateur loses his voice.”

Louise McDiarmid, Perth, Ont.

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21st-century Canada

Although a knowledge of French is a requirement in government and perhaps the military, Canada has grown beyond a two-language society (Linguistic Versatility Is Undervalued – editorial, Jan. 23). It has become as multilingual as it is multicultural.

Perhaps few in Ontario choose to study this historically important language beyond high school because this century is demonstrating the increasing need for fluency in other languages, e.g. Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, as Canada develops as a global trading nation and home to many newcomers. This evolution is neither disrespectful to Quebec nor to the history of the country, but reflects the reality of the new century. Speaking more than one language is characteristic of an increasing number of Canadians, but those languages are not confined to the two official ones.

Margaret Ryder, Oakville, Ont.

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MP spending

The question of whether former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe paid a staff person with public funds to do Bloc political party work would have been investigated and cleared up years ago if former auditor general Sheila Fraser had used her powers and fully audited MP spending when she was first appointed, and every few years after (Amid Brewing Ethics Scandal, Duceppe Drops Plan To Return To Politics – Jan. 23).

MPs had not been audited for 10 years and senators for even longer when Ms. Fraser was appointed a decade ago. The Auditor General Act requires audits of all spending and gives the auditor general the right to any information needed to do audits. While the auditor general does not have the resources to audit the entire federal government every year, most of the main federal government institutions are audited every few years.

To ensure an impartial investigation of the Duceppe situation, and to ensure there is no improper spending by any MP (or senator or the House or the Senate overall) new Auditor General Michael Ferguson should immediately undertake a full audit of all spending by everyone in Parliament.

Duff Conacher, Democracy Watch

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Tim and RIM

If Research In Motion is to be a takeover target, Tim Hortons ought to have the first chance for a bid. Two Canadian icons in one company would be too much to resist. Think of the marketing opportunities – blackberry doughnuts, a special app to preorder your double-double in the drive-through, not to mention a ready made slogan: “Roll up the RIM …”

Mik Bickis, Saskatoon

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