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News briefs 9.18.02 

Love in the fast lane

Rochester's singles scene is treacherous territory. Blind dates, personal ads, escort services, Paradise Alley --- they all have more cons than pros (and in some cases, more convicts than professionals).

Enter QuickMatch Rochester, a new dating service designed to help unattached people find someone to attach themselves to without having to walk through the minefield known as the mating game.

QuickMatch is like a game, but the stakes are low. People looking for love, friendship, and/or business contacts sign up in the age group of their choice (21 to 35, 30 to 45, etc.) and fork over a fee ($30 to $40, a portion of which goes to a local non-profit or charity). At QuickMatch's monthly events --- the first happens at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 23, at Spot Coffee, 200 East Avenue --- participants pow-wow one-on-one with eight other members of their age group for exactly seven minutes at a time.

During those encounters, and two informal mingling sessions, singles are discouraged from giving out, or asking for, certain personal information, like last names, places of employment, social security numbers. After each seven-minute session, both people indicate on their QuickMatch cards whether they're interested in speaking with the other person ever again.

If both indicate "yes," QuickMatch notifies the fledgling lovebirds by e-mail. "From that point on, whatever happens is up to them," says QuickMatch co-founder Ellie Stauffer, an organizational development consultant from Fairport.

Part of the proceeds from the September 23 event will benefit Life Line, the 24-hour crisis-intervention and informational service slated to lose its county funding. (Ladies, beware if you meet this guy: "Hi. I'm Jack. I work in government, but I also do commercials. One ad encourages adults to fly out of town, and another discourages teens from having sex while their folks are away.")

For more info about QuickMatch, call 223-3795 or visit www.quickmatchrochester.com.

--- Chris Busby

Unhealthy indicators

Was anyone taken in by an op-ed on prescription drugs the Democrat and Chronicle ran September 9?

In the piece, John R. Graham of the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute made a frontal assault on the Canadian way of keeping drug prices down. Up north, the government uses its bulk purchasing power to negotiate good prices with drug companies; there's also serious encouragement of cheaper generic substitutes. Graham would throw everything to the wolves of the marketplace.

Recent articles here and in other publications show that Americans get big savings --- something like 40 percent --- by buying their prescription drugs in Canada. Some people travel there to stock up; others use Internet services. But somehow, Graham left the impression that Canadians actually pay more than we do. "Canada," he wrote, "spends a larger share of its health expenditures on prescription drugs than the United States does: 15.4 percent versus 11 percent, according to the latest figures."

A half-truth, at best. Using data from a couple years ago, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development pegged Canada's per capita health spending at around $2,400 in US dollars, and the US at well over $4,000. So which is greater, 15 percent of $2,400 or 11 percent of $4,000? You do the math. (Canadians live longer than Americans on average, too --- a crucial indicator of the effectiveness of health outlays.)

It's useful to know the Fraser Institute is the Canadian equivalent of the Cato Institute, the ubiquitous libertarian-American think tank gunning for Social Security and other programs.



Peaceful dissent

The timing of the demonstration was just right.

Around 200 Rochesterians thronged the sidewalk outside the Federal Building September 12 and said no to George W. Bush's planned war against Iraq. It was the same day that Bush stood before the United Nations General Assembly and --- through a mesh of diplomatic language and speechwriters' tricks --- personally declared war.

"We all came together on one common ground to say stop the invasion," says Jon Greenbaum, an organizer with Metro Justice, the lead group behind the demo. Greenbaum notes that Bush's UN appearance might send the wrong message to Congress. "My concern," he says, "is that the UN [Security Council] will cave, and the Democrats will use this as a fig leaf to hide behind."

"This doctrine of pre-emptive attack is in direct violation of the Constitution, and the best instincts of our nation," says a recent Metro Justice position paper. "The declaration of war is so important that our Constitution placed it in the hands of Congress."

Not that the group would easily accept a war against Iraq if protocols were strictly followed. The position paper lists many objections to such a war: its violence to the UN Charter's concept of legitimate self-defense, the inevitable civilian losses, political reverberations throughout the Muslim world, damage to the US economy (mostly through probable spikes in oil prices), and more.



Our name in lights

Democrat and Chronicle tech reporter Steve Orr mentioned City Newspaper in his column last week --- and it's not every day the local daily drops our name.

Orr noted that www.rochester-citynews.com is up and running; he also described Monroe County's upgraded website (www.monroecounty.gov) and dropped the name Jack Doyle. As Orr said, it's a "funny coincidence" that the two sites are debuting together, since the county executive answers our criticisms by refusing to speak to us.

We're happy for the plug, and under the circumstances we don't even mind the temporal link with Big Jack. But Steve, how could you say our "perspective is usually interesting, albeit left-leaning..." [emphasis added]? We think we're interesting because of our tilt.



On the street

If you're looking for perceptive thumbnail portraits of life in Rochester, consult Around Our Way: Urban Youth Poetry, a new book-length collection of short lyrics and haiku. This is no recitation of urban stereotypes; it's about hearts, dreams, relationships --- real people in all their environments.

With support from the Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester and more than a dozen foundations and government programs, the book came together under the supervision of Todd Beers and James Robinson. But it's a true grassroots collaboration; in all, 20 young people took part --- including manager JaNée Allen and editors Chaundra Brooks and Tyrell Cunningham --- filling nearly 70 pages with their own creative work and putting it into publishable form.

Around Our Way is a book of insights as well as different outlooks. Listen to Monica Jones on a subtle kind of discrimination: "There were rules. / The man had to be / darker than the woman." Or Charles Nesmith in an untitled poem: "My sister forgets everything, / sometimes her name... She couldn't tell the last time it rained." (Nesmith also supplied the book's cover photo.) Or one glimpse from a long series of unattributed "Street Haiku": "no socks, no shoes --- / midday light --- / tall girl walking."

Beers, a poet who's done many community-oriented writing projects, says Around Our Way is available at the Arts and Cultural Council office, Writers & Books, and the Abundance Cooperative Market. For information, call the Arts and Cultural Council, 473-2590.



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