The Current

Checking-In on end of life decisions, fighting for personal space & how a cyborg 'hears' colour

Staking limits on the personal space around ourselves and implanting electronics inside ourselves. This week's Friday host Chris Hadfield joins Anna Maria in studio to go through our listeners' thoughts on some of the stories of the week....
Staking limits on the personal space around ourselves and implanting electronics inside ourselves. This week's Friday host Chris Hadfield joins Anna Maria in studio to go through our listeners' thoughts on some of the stories of the week. 


B.C. Teachers Dispute: Not only was this week the start of a new season here on The Current, it was also the start of a new school year for kids across the country -- except for those in British Columbia. Teachers in B.C. remain on strike ... and public schools are closed. Two of the main sticking points in that dispute are questions of class size and class composition.

We started the week asking how much say teachers should have when it comes to both those things. And then we heard from you.

On The Current's Facebook page, Leanne Ridley wrote:

Class size and composition are a part of the working conditions for teachers, so most definitely belong in collective bargaining negotiations.

And Stephen Fowler added:

It's not just the teachers' working conditions; it is also the students' working conditions. Of course, teacher's have a right to advocate for class size and composition. If not the teachers, who?

Kaneez Merali of North Bay, Ontario wrote:

Sure they have the right! However, they should NOT use the students as pawns in their negotiation. They would gain a lot more respect from the parents and the students if they continued to teach while negotiating their contracts. Every day in a child's education is an important one.

Thelma Russell in Regina told us:

Class size is a bogus issue - teachers maintain that they need smaller sized classes so that they can deal with each child individually. Are the teachers themselves being so poorly prepared for their job that they can't work out ways of achieving results? I think back to the days when teachers had several grades in a classroom. Children learned every bit as well then as they do today, perhaps even better as they learned from one another.

While C.J. Murray in Victoria had this comment:

I often hear other middle aged people in my community commenting that when they attended school there were 35 or 40 kids in a class and it was fine. Even if their memories are accurate, those classes very rarely included children with disabilities or traumatized refugees. Now that we have closed the institutions and opened our borders, we must overhaul our schools.


Dead at Noon: Guy Bennett and his father, Jonathan, joined us earlier this week to talk about their late mother and wife, Gillian. Like so many Canadians advancing in their years, Gillian was diagnosed with dementia. Gillian Bennet started a blog to chronicle her final years. She called the blog "Dead at Noon," and Guy and Jonathan shared the story of how -- at the age of 83 -- Gillian decided to end her life, rather than end up being what she called an "empty husk."

After that segment aired, Jeanne Lamb posted this on our Facebook page:

Sincere thanks to the Bennett family for encouraging the conversation.

Lisanne Anderson wrote:

It wouldn't be my choice at that stage. But I respect that she did this with consideration and apparently much thought. It is also true that choices such as this one are forced upon people by legal considerations.

Rebecca Parker, of Bethany, Ontario wrote in to say:

I loved this interview. My father was very strong advocate for Dying with Dignity. Both my parents discussed death with us as soon as we were old enough to understand. They told us that they never wanted to be a burden on society or be a vegetable on a machine.

Harold Sheehan in Ottawa wrote:

Let's all commemorate Gillian Bennett's passing by opening up the dialogue about this important topic. It's time for our usually gutless politicians to openly discuss the options -- before the economics of it bury us. It really was a moving conversation and one that I'm still thinking about.


Fighting for Personal Space: The recent cases of "recliner rage" on airplanes prompted us to talk about personal space. On one flight, a passenger used a device called a Knee Defender to prevent the woman in front of him from reclining her seat ... she in turn ended up throwing a cup of water in his face!

Louise Asselstine of Edmonton was one of many who wrote in to put the blame on the airlines. She wrote:

I do remember a day when you could recline your seat without getting into someone's personal space. Perhaps if airlines want to cram that many seats in, they should remove the recline function.

And Dee Malloy offered this solution:

During the safety announcement, flight attendants should instruct the people to ask the person behind them if it's ok, and to respect that person's decision if they say no.

We weren't just talking about airline etiquette, but personal space itself... and how it varies from culture to culture. Lita Davidson wrote:

I lived in Asia for nearly ten years. For the first few months, I found it hard to walk on the streets because people would bump into me, and I felt threatened. But after a while, I got used to it. Now that I'm home, I stand up close to people ... even in line at Tim Horton's.

And Thomas Wood also wrote in defence of a little less personal space:

I am the person who talks to strangers and tourists in the street when they look lost, gets hugged by buskers and street people after I take the time to talk to them, the person who reads magazine on public transport only to have the three-year-old next to me move closer to ask about the dinosaur pictures.


Cyborg Neil Harbisson: This week we launched our season long special project, "By Design" and we met self-proclaimed Cyborg, Neil Harbisson. He was born without the ability to see colour ... but after implanting a special camera he now "hears" colour everywhere he looks.

Mike Thibault of Clare, Nova Scotia wrote.

In 1966, when John Lennon sang "Listen to the colour of your dreams" in the song Tomorrow Never Knows, I thought he was being simplistically psychedelic ... declaring an impossibility only feasible in a drug-induced altered state. But for some reason I have always been fascinated by those lyrics. Some 50 years later, Neil Harbisson has come around to show us how it can be achieved! Brilliant!​

You can always let us know what you think! To add your voice to any story you hear on The Current , get in touch any way you can.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or e-mail us through our website. Find us on Facebook. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

This segment was produced by The Current's Peter Mitton.

Chris Hadfield and Ed Roberston of the Barenaked Ladies wrote a song that Commander Hadfield helped perform while on the International Space Station.

Ed Roberston said he wanted to impart some of the wonder that Chris imparted to him. So here are Chris and Ed, the Ladies and the Wexford Gleeks, performing "Is Somebody Singing" from the CBC's Toronto studios and from space.