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arack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States was a momentous event for a number of reasons: the first African-American President, the first Democratic President in eight years, and, according to at least one commentator, the first “urban” president. But as I watched coverage of the proceedings, it also became clear that Obama is probably the coolest President in American history. As proof, television viewers were presented with a number of celebrity attendees, including Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Beyoncé,, and Fall Out Boy. As a Canadian, this aspect of the political process struck me as very strange. It’s true that the inauguration is as much about the pomp and ceremony as it is about the transfer of political power. But still, could you imagine Canada’s celebrities flocking to a political event in Ottawa, or simply flocking to Ottawa at all? It turns out that Americans weren’t used to their capital being the national centre of attention either. One writer, a native Washingtonian, compared the inauguration to the jocks and cool kids suddenly breaking into a chess club meeting. Of course, the link between celebrity and politics is nothing new in the US and elsewhere. Ronald Reagan was an actor 20 years before becoming Governor

of California and then President, an act partially replicated by Arnold Schwarzenegger just five years ago. Celebrity endorsements have existed for decades. But celebrity involvements generally seem superficial or merely incidental. They might appear every two or four years around election time, but it is debatable whether the endorsements lend much weight to their chosen cause. Their role as spokespeople or supporters can often seem to be more for their own personal benefit than anything else. This time around, though, it’s possible that celebrity involvement could be different by being much more durable. The difference comes back to Obama’s image—he’s simply viewed as genuinely cool. Along with his newly idealized family, his face has been all over the tabloid weeklies, and he’s been referenced in a way that other Presidents, it seems, never were. Imagine, then, that celebrities do stick around, if not literally then at least by maintaining an interest from afar in Obama’s governing of the country. What would the result be? It’s both funny and slightly worrisome to think of policy packages designed by Beyoncé or Diddy, though in reality their presence wouldn’t translate into something so tangible. They could push for specific ideas or projects but their greatest effect would be to keep

Editing and Production Co–ordinator Ben Freeman Editors Muneeb Ansari Nick Davies Chris Evans Zsuzsi Fodor Siva Vijenthira Layout Co–ordinator Yang Lei Graphics Co–ordinators Chris HIlbrecht Ishani Nath Graphics and Layout Medina Abdelkader Meagan Byrne Ann Craig Ali Kirsh Joyce Li Qiao Minamoto Manisha Phadnis Natasha Turner Will van Engen Contributors Sarah Byers Patrick Byrne Melissa Charenko Jeanette Eby Sabrina Falco Katherine Georgious Garnet Johnson-Koehn Teanna Lobo Kate Logan Marcello Mercanti Andrew Prine Natalie Raso Carolin von Harsdorf Adira Winegust Printing Hamilton Web Printing

politics trendy, or at least enable it to persist in the consciousness of American citizens. While that trajectory is arguably plausible in the US following Obama’s inauguration, for Canadians it’s hard to imagine any circumstances that could transform politics into something popculturally relevant. For whatever reason— and there are probably many—I can only think about the political process as news. Even those who live and breathe the goings-on at Parliament Hill will agree that the chances of any political leader appearing on ET Canada are slim. But again suppose that such an occurrence were possible; it seems to me that there wouldn’t necessarily be anything wrong with the consequences. Whether it was his image, his political perspective, or his oratorical power, Obama was able to command huge crowds and get people genuinely excited and hopeful about American politics. And yet, that charismatic power and the ability to matter to millions of people are different from what celebrities provide. After all, they wouldn’t be the ones actually making the decisions. We’re used to celebrity spokespeople with particular pet projects or causes, but in the end they’re essentially only wealthy, beautiful, highprofile lobbyists. Even though they may be able to trumpet their ideas more easily than the average citizen, they remain at



Up Helly-Aa fire event in Shetland, Scotland

is Taken and No One Sees it... 8 IfThea Picture philosophical implications of Facebook albums the Examined Life 10 Living Musings on the value of perception Naked Eye 11 The The ongoing debate over fighting in hockey on Barack-ing in the Free World 12 Keep An Obama inauguration road trip logbook My Single Ladies... and Gentlemen 19 All Living the single life Sweet Concoction of Sorts 20 AOriginal Fiction by Garnet Johnson-Koehn Harbour 24 Wintry Original Photography by Will van Engen


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Impact Youth Publications 1105 King Street West Hamilton, ON L8S 1L8 Incite is published six times per academic year by Impact Youth Publications. 10,000 copies are distributed in the McMaster University–Westdale area. Entire contents copyright 2008–2009 Impact Youth Publications. Letters up to 300 words may be sent to the above address; they may be edited for length and clarity and will not be printed unless a name, address, and daytime phone are provided. Opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Incite’s staff or Impact Youth Publications.

least a few steps removed from power. The power to govern, while potentially far-reaching, is also at its core tedious and difficult. We think of politics as serious and weighty because it so often is, making the recent inclusion of celebrities into the political sphere all the more surprising. Good government, through policies and legislation, is necessarily a long-term project. Are celebrities interested in longterm commitment? Perhaps this is the wrong way to look at the situation. Instead, we should be grateful for the sway celebrities possess and their potential to draw ordinary citizens into the machinations of government. Without their help, the euphoria surrounding the inauguration or other important events would fade into apathy as people remember the boring realities of the political process. Recent events in Canada should remind us that this is a false prediction. Even here, with our uniformly unhip and uninspiring politicians, talk of coalition governments and constitutional crises in December grabbed the attention of Canadians across the country. Things may have returned to normal since, but the fact remains that politics by politicians can still provoke and interest us. It’s something that all witnesses to Obama’s inauguration would do well to keep in mind.

Happenings: News from Near and Far Review: Exotic Chocolates Column: Eat In Search Of: Blind Dates for Valentine’s Column: Reframing Hamilton Column: Mac in Time

Cover Art by Ali Kirsh

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MINUTES FROM LAST MONTH selected news from near and far Your Next Work Place?

No Nudity Here, PLease

inside the bubble WISE People The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Initiative at McMaster University will be celebrating the work of female engineers and scientists at its third annual International Women’s Day Conference. The conference will take place at McMaster from 6 to 7 March, and will offer a variety of events, including two keynote addresses, a showcase of research done by science and engineering students, and a round-table discussion that will try to enable WISE and other groups to continue future collaborations and projects together. The conference is open to everyone at McMaster regardless of gender or field of study and encourages all students to submit their research and ideas.

Mercer at McMaster Canadian comedian Rick Mercer visited McMaster University on 14 January for a segment for CBC’s Rick Mercer Report, which airs every Tuesday at 8 p.m. He played

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squash with the women’s varsity team and spoke with university President Peter George. Mercer also met Paul Faure, a psychology professor fond of bats, and later claimed that he downed about six of the bats’ mealworm snacks. In the Centre for Simulation-Based Learning in the Health Sciences Building, he performed a partial tracheotomy on a simulation mannequin (SimMan), and at the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics, he challenged the director, astronaut Dave Williams, to a game of Operation. Williams remotely manipulated a robotic arm, normally used to operate on patients who are not geographically near their surgeons, to win the bout. You can watch the segment at cbc. ca/mercerreport.

Berkshire Give-away Not sure what to do with the mad cheddar you’ll be making once you’ve graduated from McMaster? Don’t worry; the Buffett clan can help! Thanks to a generous donation from Warren Buffett’s sister Doris,

McMaster students enrolled in Commerce 4MG3 (Strategic Philanthropy and Leadership) last term were able to split the $20 000 operating budget between three Hamilton- area charities. Under the guidance of local philanthropists, students designed criteria and reviewed requests for funding, assessed applications, and ultimately decided which three programs to support. While McMaster is the first Canadian institution to offer the class, Doris Buffett’s donations have also enabled five schools in the United States to offer similar programs, and that number is expected to increase in the future. Too bad Incite doesn’t have charitable status...

It’s not on every course outline for nothing The 14 January meeting of the University Senate saw the release of the 2007-2008 Academic Integrity Report, which presents a summary of reported cases of Academic Dishonesty for the 2007-2008 academic year. In total, there were 417 cases

for the year, which represents a slight decrease from 2006-2007, but still amounts to over a doubling of incidents over the past six years. Ominously, only 10 of the 417 cases resulted in an innocent verdict. The vast majority of cases (92 percent) involved undergraduates, and over a third of those caught were firstyear students. The most common infractions, unsurprisingly, were plagiarism, submitting someone else’s work as one’s own, and cheating on a test or exam. Although most students got off relatively lightly, with either a mark reduction or mark of zero for the given assignment, others weren’t so lucky and found themselves with an F in the course or even expulsion from the university. So I guess the lesson here is, if you’re going to cheat, at least make sure you do it prudently.

Compiled by Sarah Byers, Ben Freeman, Katherine Georgious, and Andrew Prine.

in north america... Say Please! Lower Sackville, NB—It turns out that saying the magic word you were taught in kindergarten really does work wonders. When a masked man walked into a convenience store in Nova Scotia, and demanded cash and cigarettes, he decided to leave the place untouched when the clerk simply asked the robber to “please leave the store.” Surprised at being spoken to so politely, the suspect turned to the clerk, said, “You know, you’re the first one to ask me to leave in such a nice way, and because of that I’m going to leave.” While some feel that the clerk’s actions were risky, as traditional protocol is to simply do as a robber commands, it’s nice to know that one doesn’t have to be Batman to stop crime.

The Athletics of Pole Dancing Winnipeg, MB—The owner of Pole Dancing Winnipeg is advocating for her chosen profession to be considered an Olympic sport. Her reasoning? Apparently, the activity requires as much skill and discipline as gymnastics. Already, there is the

European Pole Dancing Championships in which dancers are judges based on their athletic ability in the sport. Canada’s own passionate owner is looking for this same kind of appreciation at the international games. She claims that with the sports already included in the Olympic games, this would not be considered out of place. Unlike the traditional idea, in the Olympic sport, all clothes would be kept on.

Arsonist Targets Toronto Toronto, ON—There have been three fires in Toronto recently, all of which happened on 25 January in the west end of Toronto, near Jane and Annette streets. Police suspect a single arsonist, likely someone who lives in the area. There were 18 other fires in this area last year, all of which started in garages or cars and then spreading. A neighbour expressed fear for the safety of the area, due to many houses being semi-detached, which would allow the fire to spread very easily from house to house. No one was reported injured from the fires.

A New Kind of Love Drug Atlanta, GA—Recent research by Emory University professor Larry Young seems to offer some clues about the biochemical nature of love. Young’s research, based on the pair-bonding of monogamous mammals, not only accounts for males’ fetish with breasts, but also all of the warm fuzzy feelings that the erotic and the erogenous elicit. More interestingly, it could be the basis for the most powerful weapon of woo to be seen since the dawn of conversation hearts: love potions. These concoctions, while still a long way from reaching the market, would be able to inspire strong feelings of affection between strangers and, for all intents and purposes, be almost as effective as the natural process of falling in love. If this worries you though, the same research also shows that love-suppressing drugs should come onto the market at around the same time. Unfortunately, it is unlikely either will be ready in time for Valentine’s Day.

As if newspapers weren’t in enough trouble already Phillipsburg, NJ—A man delivering a local newspaper called The Express-Times to over a dozen customers was arrested for allegedly stealing the newspapers from boxes for distribution. He had previously worked for the newspaper company as a carrier, but police claim he has since stolen over $12,000 worth of newspapers and even collected money for them. Some of his customers still believed he was working for the newspaper and wrote him cheques for its delivery. One such local commented that, “He was my newspaper man, as far as I knew. The paper was here every morning.” The accused defended himself from the charges, claiming he was helping people out. “Whenever they needed a paper, I got them a paper.”

Compiled by Sarah Byers, Ben Freeman, Katherine Georgious, Teanna Lobo, and Andrew Prine.

...and around the world Unlucky Number GERMANY—A German teenager was found guilty of shoplifting after his attempt to lie to police officers backfired horribly. The teenager tried to dupe the investigating officer by lying about where he lived, but the address he gave turned out to be the home of the officer questioning him. “It was complete coincidence,” said a police spokesman. “The thief gave that address because he’d once lived in the house. The policeman was the guy who moved in afterwards.” Perhaps the teen will learn from The Simpsons and always state his address as 123 Fake Street when being interrogated by the police.

Head to work where the livin’ is easy AUSTRALIA—Australian tourism officials are offering the “Best Job in the World” to one lucky person. This job will include luxurious accommodations in a beach villa on Hamilton Island, part of Australia’s Whitsunday Islands. Applicants can submit 60-sec-

ond video applications until 22 February, and the winner will be rewarded with a six-month job starting 1 July that entails strolling the island’s white sand beaches, snorkelling, swimming in the pool, and posting photos and videos of his or her experiences on a weekly blog in order to encourage tourism. This job comes with a salary of $100 000 and so far only 200 applications have been submitted. If you’re thinking of taking a semester off, this may be the perfect way to earn some money and get that much needed R&R.

The Goat Did It NIGERIA—Nigerian police are holding a goat for the attempted theft of an automobile on 21 January. Local newspapers reported that the police were chasing two men who attempted to steal a Mazda car in Kwara State, and when one suspect was cornered by a vigilante group, he transformed into a goat while the other escaped. Activists have criticized the police for being being believers of black magic and

shape shifting, saying the officers are poorly educated. Contrary to that assertion, it has been said that it is the poorly educated vigilante groups that take over the night shift in areas the police do not control.

Swiss Prudes Fight Back SWITZERLAND—Hoping to reduce the number of nudist alpine hikers, the canton government of Appenzell Innerhoden is working hard to pass legislation that will make clothing mandatory for ramblers. The law was put forth as a response to last year’s influx of German tourists seeking to experience the area’s natural beauty while displaying some of their own. Swiss resident Jürg Fischer commented on the situation saying, “This kind of inappropriate exposure threatens to tear apart the social fabric and must be prevented. We can’t bear it anymore.”

Not Quite The Great Escape

courthouse were foiled by an unlikely foe—a lamppost. The two men were handcuffed together as they ran from the building and across a street, but apparently forgot this fact when approaching the post. Each ran to opposite sides of the pole, slammed into each other, and then fell to the ground in a heap. Police caught up to them as they tried to return to their feet, with each prisoner apparently blaming the other for the mishap. To make matters worse, the entire routine was caught by nearby closed-circuit television cameras. The video has since been shown on news programs and posted online, amassing thousands of views. The two would-be escapees have since returned to court and now face extra charges of escaping from custody.

Compiled by Sarah Byers, Ben Freeman, Katherine Georgious, Teanna Lobo, and Andrew Prine.

NEW ZEALAND—Two prisoners attempting an escape from a

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Hot Chocolate


Compiled by Siva Vijenthira


ccording to Jeopardy!, which four of our reviewers watch religiously, February is the month for creative gestures of love. In the spirit of creativity, and in service to our sweet teeth, Incite taste tested eight varieties of strange and exotic chocolate.

Reviewers: Melissa Charenko, Heather Cohen, Ben Freeman, Yang Lei, Joyce Li, Kate Logan, Andrew Prine, Siva Vijenthira, Carolin von Harsdorf The chocolate popcorn, consisting of odd-looking handfuls of popcorn bound with biracial (white and milk) chocolate, initially met with scorn. It seemed philistine—“hillbilly” was the original term—to indulge in such a combination. Yang pointed out that it violated Chinese cooking laws. But with the first bites, everyone was won over. The saltiness and butteriness of the popcorn melded luxuriously with the sweetness of the two kinds of chocolate. Somehow, the popcorn melted in our mouths before the chocolate did. It was weird.

It was “unbalanced.” It was amazing. We returned to it again and again to cleanse our palates after the more unsavoury selections to come. Suitable for: • “All the time!” - Joyce • “Watching movies on Valentine’s” - Yang • “Biracial couples... or triracial threesomes” - Ben $4.72, measured by weight, for a bag at Walker’s Chocolates in Westdale


Ginger Truffle

The pomegranate truffles, decorated with translucent pink sprinkles, looked decadent, but we were wary. Heather remarked that she once tried pomegranate gum: “It didn’t work out.” We sniffed; we nibbled; we ate. The delectable hard outer shell of dark chocolate gave way to a gooier inside. It was pretty good. Interesting. But it tasted more like raspberry than pomegranate. Or maybe cherry?

The word “ginger” made everyone but Carolin cringe, so of course the ginger truffles made everyone but Carolin cringe. The candied ginger underneath the deceptive, thick coating of chocolate was yellow-green and had the repulsive, incongruous texture of sashimi sushi (or flesh, as Ben ominously suggested). We laughed when Melissa reported that the chocolate and ginger had accidentally separated in her mouth. “One half is delicious and the other half is ughhh!” But our laughter was tempered with grimaces of our own as we fought our gag re-

Kate finally declared it “ambiguously fruity” and we all had to agree. Suitable for: • “Your bicurious friend” - Yang • “That Jewish holiday where you’re supposed to eat pomegranates” - Heather Approximately 75¢ each at Walker’s Chocolates

Maple Crunch

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Chocolate Popcorn

flexes and choked the candy down. Meanwhile, Carolin happily ate several pieces, saying it tasted like coconut. “She’s our sophisticated palate,” Joyce noted sagely. Suitable for: • “Weasley’s Wizardly Wheezes” - Heather (“Here, have some chocolate. Surprise! There’s some ginger in there too!”) Approximately 75¢ each at Walker’s Chocolates

Pomegranate Truffle The Maple Crunch chocolate bar came in excellent packaging that seemed vacuum sealed. Andrew was excited that it seemed Canadian, but it turned out it was from Belgium, and only “68 percent fair trade.” Snorts of disapproval all around. The chocolate itself was quite tasty, if a bit sweet, and it was as crunchy as its name

promised, but unfortunately not very mapley. “It’s more of a chocolate crunch,” Kate mused disappointedly. Suitable for: • “Tourists, as a gateway maple product” - Joyce and Ben $4.50 at Global Village in Westdale

Siva was very excited for the Cocoa Camino Chili & Spice chocolate, having tried something similar before, and her enthusiasm was contagious. Joyce read aloud from the packaging, to happy murmurs from the crowd. “AROUSE your senses! ... With chili! ... And ginger—” “Nooo!” we exclaimed. But the pieces did smell intriguing and exotic, so we swallowed our fears (so to speak) and bit in at the same time. The reaction was immediate. “It is not pleasant!” Joyce blurted, stung at the chocolate’s betrayal. Melissa was more succinct: “It’s gross !” The taste was bitter and spicy and gingery all at once, the texture was strangely powdery, and it left a burning cinnamon hearts-like sensation at the back of the throat.

Yang said, accusingly, “It’s a bigger practical joke than the ginger truffle!” and Siva, shamefaced, mumbled that, really, the other chili chocolate she’d tried had been good. Amidst the loud negative reviews, including Kate and Melissa’s joint pronouncement that it was the kind of chocolate only snobs enjoy, Ben quietly admitted that he sort of liked it. “Then again, I’m a snob.” Suitable for: • “Breaking up with your Valentine” - Anonymous • “Foreign film viewing” - Heather • “A mother’s revenge” (on her child who wants chocolate) - Yang $3.25 at Global Village

Matcha Green Tea The Ritter Sport Rum Raisin & Hazelnut chocolate was also a divisive selection, but one that ultimately won most of our hearts, and first place in our ranking system. The Germanengineered packaging was easy to open and had a delightful quasiresealable flap. Kate was immediately pleased that it smelled and tasted “like Christmas!” because of the pervasive Jamaican rum flavour, which mixed deliciously with the hazelnuts and milk chocolate to create a wonderful sense of warmth. Ben and Melissa, though, found the texture “bizarre” and Andrew was perplexed by the sheer multitude of raisins, which apparently made up 13 percent of the bar’s contents.

Chili & Spice

Rum Raisin

Green tea is known for its calming effects, but the Cocoa Camino Matcha Green Tea chocolate sparked polarizing debate. Some reviewers found it bitter, with a terrible aftertaste, while others deemed it “mellow” and “pensive.” The act of sucking the chocolate, rather than chewing, seemed to reduce the punch of the more negative flavours and lent to the sense of mellowness. At least, said Carolin and Joyce, the packaging was “honest”: it

& Hazelnut

Suitable for: • “An air of decoRUM” - Yang • “Alcoholic chocaholics” - Siva • “December” - Kate • “Cross-country skiing” (because it’s sporty and easy to open!) - Ben and Melissa

did taste like green tea. Andrew condemned it as a poseur chocolate for “trying to cash in on multiculturalism.” Suitable for: • “Exam studying” - Kate • “Playing Go in a Japanese bamboo forest” - Yang $3.25 at Global Village

Final ranking (by preferential vote)

1. Ritter Sport Rum Raisin & Hazelnut 2. Chocolate Popcorn 3. Pomegranate Truffle and Maple Crunch (tie) 4. Chocolate shot glasses 5. Cocoa Camino Matcha Green Tea 6. Ginger Truffle and Cocoa Camino Chili & Spice (tie)

$2.29 at Shoppers Drug Mart

Chocolate Shot Glasses (with Baileys)

The chocolate shot glasses, made of thin, cheap chocolate, were already crumbling as we removed them from their awkward packaging, so we were concerned about leaks. Fortunately, the chocolate held together and was waxy enough that it didn’t melt while holding the Bailey’s. Unfortunately, that waxiness also prevented it from melting easily in our mouths after we drank our Bailey’s. Or, in Melissa’s case, before she drank her Bailey’s. She sat for roughly five minutes with the full shot glass in her mouth, waiting for it to dissolve into divine pleasure, as Joyce expressed increasing concern for her safety. The antici-

pation in the room built. We leaned forward when she began gesturing frantically to indicate how close the moment was. And then—THE BURST! Melissa: “...Not worth it.” For the rest of us, though, the chocolate gave a lovely aftertaste to the shot. It held a faint tinge of vanilla, and reminded us of Kinder Surprise. Suitable for: • “A one-time novelty” - Ben • “A bachelorette party” - Heather $4.70 for a package of six at Walker’s Chocolates

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uring a recent conversation with one of my classmates, I casually mentioned the fact that I travelled to Europe this summer. “Wait, I thought you didn’t end up going to Europe,” he interjected. I was quite certain that I had, so I asked him why he thought otherwise. “Facebook,” he replied. “You don’t have any pictures posted in your ‘Summer 2008’ album, so I figured you didn’t end up going.” With this conversation in mind, I decided to investigate my tagged photos, and the albums I had posted since I first signed up with Facebook one and a half years ago. As I perused the albums, I tried to mentally match the photos with the major events that had taken place in my life over this period. Senior prom? Check. First-year welcome week? Check. First university all-nighter? Check. It seemed that all of my life’s significant occurrences (minus the trip to Europe) in the past 18 months were well-documented by my Facebook photos. Convinced that my tagged photos had chronicled all of my life’s noteworthy events, I shared this discovery with my roommate. She questioned me. “What about your awesome summer job? Do you have any pictures of that posted?” I admitted that I did not. “Well, what about when you celebrated finishing your first-year of university?” Again, negative. “What about when you went to see the Celine Dion concert? That was a major highlight for you!” Yet, I did not have any pictures of that event posted, either. “I forgot about those,” I confessed. Photographic evidence of these experiences was nowhere to be found in my Facebook profile, and because of that, I had forgotten that they had even occurred. I began thinking about this unbalanced relationship between my Facebook photos and my real-life and recalled the philosophical riddle about the tree falling in the forest. If no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This same question applied to my Facebook photos: if I did not post photos on Facebook from an event in my life, had it even really happened? When approaching the falling tree riddle, philosophers like George Berkeley argued the theory of subjective idealism—in order for something to be, it must be perceived. This philosophy seems to hold true in the world of online social networks too. Anyone who even occasionally browses their Facebook friends’ pictures is familiar with the popular genre of “predrinking/getting ready to go out” pictures. These pictures are often characterized by

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a girl in her clubbing clothes holding up a 26-er of vodka next to her face (sometimes she will be giving the bottle a kiss), a girl and her friend leaning in towards the camera and blowing it kisses, or a bunch of guys holding out their beers with their mouths wide open, as if screaming “YEAH!”. Why are these pictures so commonplace? They are not exciting, and they are definitely not unique. (Exercise: Try looking through all of your friends’ albums whose titles are lines from popular songs such as, “For the nights I can’t remember.” Compare the images from these albums. Note how many poses are the same between albums.) Rather, these pictures serve just as proof that indeed, you like to party, and yes, you go out on weekends and drink watermelon-flavoured Smirnoff. The logic behind this genre of Facebook album (and many others, as well) seems to be rooted in subjective idealism. If pictorial evidence in the form of albums and tagged photos is not provided,

these social events—drinking with friends, getting ready to go out, dancing at a club, passing out on the floor of your friend’s res room—could easily not have happened. Further exploration of my Facebook photos brought me to another realization: There was a direct correlation between the number of hours I spent on primping and the number of photos tagged of me on that occasion. For example, my Halloween costume took hours of planning and assembly. Accordingly, my Facebook page contains roughly 75 pictures of me on Halloween. On a night when my friends dragged me out to a bar against my will in the same clothes that I had worn to write a midterm, there is exactly one picture tagged of me, hands covering my face. This trend continues throughout the world of Facebook. In fact, it goes one step further with the “staged-glamour” genre of photo album. This album is typified by an individual, usually alone, fully made-up and in their lowest-cut top (for girls) or white undershirt (for guys), just hanging out in their backyard or bedroom. Usually, the photographer is also the model, and the picture is either taken in the mirror, or by holding the camera out in front of one’s face. In extreme cases, the title of this album is “Modelling Pics” or perhaps “Photoshoot.” Such cases of Facebook vanity reinforce the tree-riddle. Is there any point in dressing up if you are not going to be photographed? If you were not photographed, were you ever really dressed up? Going further, is there even any point in being photographed if you are not dressed up? The world of Facebook and other photo-sharing sites, such as MySpace, Flickr, and Picasa, is still a relatively new one. Their cultures and philosophies are still forming, and thus the interim trends that appear concerning these photos are fascinating. Especially when they’re extrapolated into the real-world settings in which they were taken. It seems clear that ultimate online destination of these photos has a major impact on both which pictures we take and our perceptions of the real-life situations they intend to capture. But does this mean that I plan on removing some of those excessive Halloween pictures? Hell no. I worked way too hard on that costume. In fact, I plan on finally posting those Europe pictures soon, too. G RAPHIC BY JaCK H OWARD (CORBIS)


Together, We Make and Break Bread


ately, as the January cold does a fine job of testing our morale, I am increasingly finding myself surrounded by friends and by food—the former usually toting the latter. This trend has meant that I am rarely ever preparing or eating big meals alone. The potluck is inherent to student life, as menus for dinner parties and gatherings are only finalized once all the guests and their respective Tupperware arrive. Penny-pinching students are far from the first subculture to adopt the potluck. Quite evidently, the word can be neatly split into two others—“pot” and “luck.” This etymology comes from poor travelers in sixteenth century England who, when begging for food at inns and taverns, were lucky to get whatever was left over in the pot. Generations before the sixteenth century, Native populations along the Northwest Coast were putting on potlatches. The meal was held at the home of a wealthy family and was open to the community at large. Rather than have the invitees bring food, as is the potluck custom, the host would prepare a lavish feast to share. The meal was, and is, a celebratory event, accompanied by dancing and religious ceremonies. Besides bringing together communities around food, potlatches purposefully aim to redistribute wealth. They were, however, condemned and banned by the Canadian government as part of the 1885 Indian Act for their supposed uncivilized, and thus unacceptable, nature. After the initial ban, criminal chargers were enforceable upon the potlatch host who, if caught, could be sentenced to between two and six months in jail. It was later expanded to include the guests as well, who could be tried and sentenced simply for accepting a dinner invitation. The potlatch bears some similarity to the charitable food sector today, which is largely dependent on private donations for redistribution. But where the potlatch succeeds and the emergency food sector fails is in their respective capacities to build community. Beyond the economic sensibility of potlucking and potlatching, there is something inherently human about preparing and sharing food with others which goes beyond feel-good charity. I recently received the Hamilton Food Access Guide for 2009, which represents the official publication outlining where to find free and lost-cost meals in

the city. A quick breakdown of the available services paints a highly representative picture Hamilton’s food sector: six community gardens, one community kitchen, six congregate dining programs, thirteen food banks, six free meal programs, and five meals on wheels programs. Food security and community food security do differ, though. The former concerns itself with ensuring the individual is food secure, specifically by having access to affordable and appropriate food. Community food security, by contrast, recognizes the complexity of feeding populations—getting meals into mouths is a good baseline goal but it leaves much to be desired in the area of creating relationships around food and instilling community ownership over its supply and preparation. In spite of what the plenitude of food doctrines would have us believe, there is no universal model or mantra for ensuring community food security. Some communities have gardens, others host local markets, and still others still have adopted the neighbourhood potluck as a venue for coming together. The Hamilton Food Access Guide lists only one organization which offers community kitchen programs for North End residents. It is an absolute shame that collective kitchens are not catching on more quickly as a form of participatory potlucks. I spent some time in the summer at the North Hamilton Community Health Centre community kitchen and fell in love. Neighbours came together at the Centre to collectively prepare a meal which they subsequently ate together and out of which they portioned out leftovers. The particular kitchen I attended was for otherly-abled individuals and as such, the Centre took responsibility for purchasing the necessary ingredients. Participants were, however, eager to hover over a cookbook to decide what the next week’s meal would be. Relationships inherent to potlucks and potlatches are just as readily forged in a community kitchen. Inspired by the simplicity of the collective kitchen model in addressing the complex demands of food security while creating an environment for community, the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) working group PEAS began “PEASoup.” Based at St. Paul’s Church at the corner of King and Dalewood in Westdale, PEASoup meets every other Friday. Together we share the tasks of planning the

menu, bringing ingredients, and cooking. In fewer than three hours, participants make and share a meal together, meet a dozen or so new people, and take home enough leftovers to last the next few days. From an economic standpoint, participants contribute about five dollars’ worth of ingredients for three full meals which are prepared from scratch and planned with nutrition and seasonality in mind. From a community standpoint, there is nothing more beautiful than watching a group of people who came to the kitchen as strangers revel in the new flavours, share anecdotes and laughs, and plan to see one another at the next session in two weeks. Although a far cry from the potlatch ban of 1885, PEASoup could not get space on campus due to the Paradise Catering food monopoly at McMaster. Other schools, however, have been more welcoming to student-run collective cooking and co-op projects like Trent University’s Seasoned Spoon Café, The People’s Potato at Concordia University, and the University of British Columbia’s Sprouts. McMaster is just going to be a little late to the table. In the spirit of sharing, here is the muffin recipe from the latest January instalment of PEASoup: 4 cups of spelt flour 1/2 cup oat bran 2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 2 cups lightly packed sweet potato (peeled and grated) 1 cup lightly packed apple (peeled and grated) 2 tbsp grated ginger 1 cup seeds or berries 1 1/3 cup maple syrup 1 cup water 2/3 cup oil 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar Preheat oven to 375°F. Stir the flour/bran, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in sweet potato, apple, and ginger. Add berries, maple syrup, water, oil, and vinegar. Stir together until the flour is absorbed. Pour into muffin tray and bake for 20-22 minutes. Visit or e-mail to join PEASoup.

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Living the Examined Life by: Carolin von Harsdorf

“What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stop and stare?� —W. H. Davies

can hear several conversations. After listening in part to some of them, you can’t believe the insignificance of the content. Is this it? We don’t have time to look at things or listen to something beautiful because we need to have meaningless conversations? Are we so much in love with ourselves that our despair over a broken nail or the horsepower of our newest car is so much more interesting than anything that is going on around us, outside our own lives? Why is it so hard to be more aware of things that do not necessarily concern us personally? You promise yourself never to listen to the iPod on your way to school again. On your way home you see a young man knocking at the door of the house with the big chimney, you see a mother holding a baby in the window of the green house, and you see an ambulance in front of the old bungalow. You stop and close your eyes. There is the laughter again. You can smell coffee. A cardinal is singing.


ou are walking down the street, on your way to class. You know you are not going to be on time because you got up way too late. In your hurry you couldn’t find your earphones, so you have no iPod this morning. What a pain. This day is going to be just great! Since there is no music in your ears to distract you from the boring sidewalk, you look around for something else. Oh look, a squirrel. Hmm. A dead tree — how exciting. A person is walking towards you. On any other day you wouldn’t have looked up to see who it is. But today you are desperate for entertainment. It is a young woman. She is walking unusually slow; she is not limping, however. What could be wrong with her? The distance between you and her is getting smaller and now you can see that she is crying. Or at least she had been for quite some time; her eyes are red and she looks drained. Before you know it she has passed you, and when you turn around after a few steps you can see her walking into one of the many houses on the street. A peculiar feeling is taking hold of you in that moment. That woman is living right there in the house with the big chimney, only a few houses down from your own place, but you had not noticed her before. Now that you think about it, you have no idea who is living in all the other houses either. You stop walking. All of a sudden your senses are a lot more sensitive than usual. You look around. You notice things that would have never caught your attention before. The trees are starting to bud, you can hear the birds now that they have returned from the south. You hear laughter and smell coffee coming from the yellow house with the funny windows. You hear snippets of conversations from the people on the sidewalk across the street. Your class is forgotten, all the details of your own life pushed far into the background of your consciousness. You start to imagine: an old man could be closing his eyes for the last time right now, right over there in the old bungalow. You remember seeing a pregnant woman coming out of the green house right across the street. Has she given birth yet? Maybe she is home already feeding her baby? Maybe the woman you’ve just passed has called off her wedding because she is scared and now she doesn’t know if that was the right thing to do; she still loves him. You start walking again. There is a dead bird on the sidewalk. It’s a cardinal and its red feathers strongly contrast with the white of the melting snow underneath. You marvel at how people could pass this sight and not notice it. You make your way to class. The professor is late so the lecture has not started yet. You

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The Naked Eye The Ongoing Controversy Over Fighting in Hockey By Marcello Mercanti


ockey is seen as a crucial element of Canadian identity. Since its creation, the sport has expanded into a global phenomenon as other countries helped contribute to its development. Some people love the game for its uniqueness and fastpaced atmosphere. Some people love hockey for the skilled players such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Bobby Orr. Others still like it because it is one of the only sports in the world that allows two players to bare-knuckle box each other. Even the notorious Ultimate Fighting Championship forces fighters to wear gloves, which begs the question: is the “good old hockey game” really a barbaric, gladiatorial sport? On 2 January of this year, Don Sanderson of the Whitby Dunlops passed away after suffering a serious injury in a hockey fight. Three weeks earlier, on 12 December 2008, during a game against the Brantford Blast, Sanderson and the Blast’s Corey Fulton dropped the gloves and took off their helmets in a fight. Both players fell and Sanderson’s bare head hit the ice. He suffered serious head trauma and fell into a coma within seconds. It was a tragic event for everyone, especially his teammates and the community. Sanderson was a 21-year-old student at York University and a rookie on the team. He was also a strong leader in the community, where he ran several power skating programs for kids. His teammates expressed how important he was to them both on and off the ice. This incident sparked a new debate on the place of


fighting in hockey, even if the event only took place in a senior league game featuring amateur or semipro players. Recently, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) announced a new and stricter penalty that would be given to players who remove their helmets before a fight. The punishment went from a $100 fine to an automatic one-game suspension. Mike Sanderson, father of Don, called it a good first step. “We can’t play the game without a helmet, so why are you allowed to stay on the ice and fight without one?” When David Branch, the OHL’s commissioner, appeared on TSN’s SportsCentre he was asked whether this new rule would significantly affect players’ decisions about fighting. Branch explained that, unlike other leagues, the OHL makes visors mandatory, and that players find it difficult to fight when an opposing player is wearing one. He believed, then, that by implementing this rule there will be less fighting in the long run. There has been an ongoing debate as to whether fighting should exist in the game. On one hand, some believe that hockey is excessively violent even without the fighting, and therefore fights should be taken out of the game completely. Then there are those who are attempting to fashion ways to make fighting safer. Finally, there are people who might agree to make fighting safer, but fundamentally believe that it is an essential feature of the sport. For starters, the National Hockey League (NHL) is today the most competitive hockey league on the

planet. Players are allowed to take off their helmets, drop their mitts, and duke it out. The NHL is seen as a role-model for other hockey leagues, meaning any rule they enforce would likely be followed by others. Many authoritative figures in the league, such as Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, believe that fighting and physical play is essential to a successful hockey team. One reason given is that a fight, like a big hit or goal, can significantly change the momentum of a game. In addition, fighting and physical play allow the league’s more skilled players to play without fear. Basically, if an opponent tries to take out a star player like Sidney Crosby, someone on Crosby’s team will protect him, either through fighting or intimidation, and make the opponent think twice about trying to rough up the team’s marquee player. It is the same idea in football, where the offensive line is there to protect the quarterback. If any player on the defensive team gets an opportunity to hit the quarterback (the most important player on the field) he will do so with as much strength as he can muster. The difference is that in hockey, if you inflict physical pain on a quarterback-like player like Crosby… you had better watch your back. Visors are not mandatory in the NHL, but many players choose to wear them to avoid high sticks and high-speed pucks. Thus, if the NHL followed the OHL’s rule it would completely change the game. Fighting just wouldn’t stay the same. Hockey has changed over the years

but fighting remains essential to the game and to its entertainment value. If you have ever been to a hockey game, you are probably aware that when a fight breaks out the entire crowd leaps to its feet in excitement, just as it would when someone scored the game-winning goal. We become accustomed to this form of entertainment and it has become embedded in the game. Our culture has grown to love violent entertainment, even if it is viewed as a sort of guilty pleasure. My belief is that fighting will remain in the NHL for some time to come. It is fair to argue that fighting is not necessarily needed in the game and that tragic incidents like Don Sanderson’s death could have easily been avoided. But the people making decisions on the issue place a high importance on fighting. Most players enjoy fighting’s role in the game; if there were ever a petition to ban fighting, players would likely decline. More importantly, many teams, particularly in the United States, actually depend on fighting to fill the seats in their arenas. I do not think fighting is required in hockey, but I cannot deny being one of those fans who enjoy seeing a good fight. Sure, it is vicious and barbaric in some respects, but it is almost too late to change what was long ago put in place. Fighting and hockey have a long history and the bond is too strong to be broken entirely. Certain rules could be introduced to make it safer, but taking it out of the game completely would change the sport, its history, and the way it is played and marketed today.

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Keep on Barack-in


official Obama inaugur ashington D.C. road-trip, featuring: Patrick Byrne, Terry Konyi, Gini Beaumont, Ann Craig, and Ford “Baby-T” Focus

The set-up: After a few pitchers at the West End Pub, a group of old camp friends decide they need an adventure. As the conversation turns toward politics, the suggestion is made to embark on a road trip to Washington D.C. for Barack Obama’s inauguration. All are excited, though slightly wary of having to forgo two or three days of class, find a place to stay, and spend money they don’t have, not to mention face the threat of a terrorist attack. As the day approaches, the crew realizes it’s an adventure they just can’t pass up. They will figure out the details as they go along. Without expecting to even get across the border, much less see Obama himself, the group clears their schedules and settles on three guidelines for the voyage: (1) The trip can be no longer than 48 hours, (2) the trip should cost no more than $100 per person, and (3) the only expectation is to have an awesome road trip with great people.

Monday, January 19 9:50am

Depart Hamilton. Spirits are high.



“Total Eclipse of the Heart” comes on. Awesome.

Ann begins placing bets on the date of Obama’s assassination. Mood is soured.


We reach Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, are greeted by a distinctly “industrial” smell and realize that we’ve entered the Hamilton of the U.S.A.

10:35am As we approach Niagara Falls, we

start to feel slightly nervous about the border crossing, as we have no planned accommodations in the U.S.

11:11am Cross border successfully! So happy.

Border guard: “Why do you have so many sleeping bags and blankets in your car?” Us: “Just to keep warm, we definitely won’t be sleeping in the car in some parking lot we find in D.C…”

11:15am Pull up into Tops grocery store in Buffalo to stock up on food. Not exactly sure which item makes it immediately apparent that we are in the States. Perhaps it’s the lottery ticket vending machine, or maybe just the cakes adorned with Obama’s face.

As we giggle at the Americanisms surrounding us, it becomes painfully obvious to all that we are Canadian.


Welcome to Pennsylvania!


Terry drives over the rumble strips on the highway and comments, “Oh… that felt good!” Silence. “Nobody else?”


Nearly fooled by tricky sign arrangement. Nice try America!

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cars. Plan to sleep in the parking lot and get on the first train at 4 am needs some revision. Return to car and go on a search for a parking spot/restaurant.


3:20pm Terry: “I’m thinking Arby’s.” 3:21pm Stop for a Bacon, Beef ‘n’

Unfortunately, Walter has to work tomorrow so he will not be able to attend his own President’s inauguration. But he invites us to come back to see him tomorrow and tell him how it went.


3:30pm The backseat occupants nap. 6:30pm

We finally cross border into Maryland.


Snow is falling faster now but nothing Baby-T can’t handle. Don’t worry America, we are okay with snow. Forty-eight miles to D.C.!


We pull into the Shady Grove Metro station on the outskirts of D.C.! It is gigantic, with over 5000 parking spots including a huge parking garage. We park and go to investigate the situation inside. It is very busy with people returning from downtown with their Obama merchandise. We begin using the excuse “We’re from Canada” for all sorts of ridiculous things. We buy all-day Metro passes for tomorrow and chat up some locals in an attempt to score sweet driveway or accommodation hook-ups. No dice. We’re told that the Metro parking lot will close at 2:30 a.m. whereupon they will be towing

Find an IHOP restaurant. Walter is our excellent server. We show him our binder of organized maps and plans; he is very impressed.

Ann, trying to fit in with the locals (and hoping to get us a parking spot), attempts to woo Walter with some Spanish. She mistakenly asks him if he has a baby carriage. Oops. Walter is becoming more and more weirded out by us. We brush our teeth in the IHOP bathroom and head over to a nearby empty church parking lot. Churches are safe places to park at night, right?


Settle into the back of Baby-T for the night. Decide the best sleeping arrangement for four people will be very close spooning, a.k.a. “cutlery drawer” style.


We should probably get some sleep—we have to get up in less than three hours to make the first train. So squishy! But at least we’re finally warm, thankfully.

ng in the Free World

ration road trip logbook by Patrick Byrne

Tuesday, January 20 12:30am We hear a noise and look out the

ice-encrusted windows. A Ford Bronco (i.e., a serial killer car) has just pulled in right beside us. We scrape a small hole in the ice to spy on them. Rumours abound that they are axe murderers. Gini starts talking about scary movies with similar plot lines.


Unidentified car door slams, causing mild panic in Baby-T.


Alarms sound. People do not want to wake up. Arrange ourselves and transfer bags back to proper places. Find shoes. Gini pees beside car.


Depart for Metro to find that the lot is already about a quarter full. Fill pockets with food and discover about 50 people already waiting outside the locked gates of the Metro station. Join line and make friends with our first American! He actually turns out to be a dual Canadian-American citizen. He is a photographer for C-SPAN who actually covered Obama during the campaign. Apparently he was doing coverage from the campaign plane during the summer.


The gates open and everyone

floods into the Metro. So glad we got passes yesterday! Get on first train and are soon crammed against the wall by people trying to push their way on. Girl in her mid-20s, separated from her gentleman friend, gets pushed into Terry. She is pressed against his thigh containing a few granola bars. Terry grins, but she is receptive to neither boner jokes nor conversation at the moment.


Arrive at Metro Center and join the thousands of others surging through the station.

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Try to orient ourselves on dark Washington streets, currently occupied by hundreds of people all moving in different directions.

and just as we realized we were going to be stuck in this one spot for some time, the monotony is shattered by the arrival of a police helicopter. It circles around us, shining its spotlight into the crowd. The crowd goes wild with excitement, waving and cheering. On the fifth pass, we begin to lose enthusiasm…

Talk to an FBI agent who, ironically, gives us faulty intelligence about how to get to the National Mall. Head over to 7th Street where there is already a large group gathered outside gates that prevent us from continuing south to the Mall. Sirens are going off everywhere. Atmosphere is very chaotic yet upbeat.

We start to make some friends with the people around us. It is getting very cold now. Decide that perhaps a bit of food is what we need, so we bust out some cheese strings (with riddles!).

Ann and Terry go off in search of a bathroom, leaving Gini and Patrick to hold down the fort.

Conclusion: Cheese strings were a bad choice.

Meanwhile… Patrick and Gini are getting a bit worried as the crowd starts to move forward. All of a sudden the gates are opened fully and the crowd surges forward, running towards the next gate a few blocks away. Patrick and Gini get swept up in the rushing bodies but fight their way back behind a pole in order to wait for Terry and Ann. Just then, they appear and we all run together through the streets, dodging people with various degrees of success. The crowd is cheerful but quiet. There are hundreds of police officers getting the crowd to back up because people are getting crushed at the front. “Imagine if it was you,” they say.

5:30am 14 incite

Amidst the pitch black night

Random things that happened in no particular order, as time had no meaning at this point: - Singing was attempted valiantly, but usually succumbed to a quick, warbled, off-key death. - People start chanting (antiBush, pro-Obama, open the gate…) - We notice that police are on the third floor of a building beside us. Some are taking pictures with their cell phones, drinking coffee, and eating breakfast. The freezing, hungry crowd does not react favourably.


Because we had been told that the gates would open at 7 a.m., a countdown begins. It is followed by disappointment as we learn they are actually scheduled to open at 8. People to the right of us begin

calling for police to assist an injured woman. Everyone around is yelling “Police!” and pointing to where the woman is. There are no longer any officers in the crowd; they are only visible in the window of the building beside us. Officers don’t appear to get the message as nobody comes to help. People are a bit pissed off at the apparent inaction. Later on, an ambulance arrives.

7:30amThere is frustration in

the crowd at the lack of communication from police. They don’t even have a megaphone with which to address everyone. The only directions came at the very beginning with the officers simply yelling “Move back!”

8:00am Two gates open but the crowd

doesn’t really move. Every 10 minutes or so, the lone National Guard soldier at the front lets about five people into the gated area, sending a visible ripple through the crowd as people move forward two to three feet. We are about 10 or 15 metres from the fence but we realize that at this pace we are going to be here for a long time.

8:12am Immediately following a

discussion about the utility of climbing a tree to get a better view of Obama (Zaccheus style), we spot a guy scrambling up a roadside maple. He calls for the crowd’s



The entire avenue is lined on both sides with police officers. Snipers on rooftops are clearly visible in all directions. There are thousands of people lining the parade route, banners proclaiming their congratulations to the new President, and National Public Radio broadcasting over loudspeakers.

Terry: “Uh, I don’t think that’s right… I think it’s around 300 million.” Yellow headband girl denies it. Terry: “Hey Patrick, how many people in the U.S?” Patrick: “Definitely 300 million.” YHG: “Oh.” Well that’s embarrassing.


We make our way to the Canadian Embassy where we can see the Capitol and a large screen broadcasting the festivities.

There is lots of touching and awkward jokes with strangers because we are so tightly squished at this point.

After Vice-President Joe Biden is sworn in, the commentator remarks that “George W. Bush is no longer the President of the United States.” The crowd erupts into a spontaneous celebration, with people dancing and cheering. As nice, polite Canadians, we feel slightly (but only slightly) embarrassed for Dubya.

Woman behind Patrick: “We’re so close I can feel everything that is happening in your body!” Patrick: “Oh yeah? Can you feel this?” He flexes his right butt cheek. Woman: High-pitched squeal

9:36am attention and begins a bizarre diatribe concerning “rotting our brains with T.V.” and buying vast amounts of pointless souvenirs. Ironically, it seems the crowd interprets his anticapitalist rant as an attempt to advertise his souvenirs and they immediately turned on him with a robust chant of “Get out the tree! Get out the tree!” It was the loudest and most prolonged chant of the entire day.

8:41am Cold begins to kick in again

and we try a variety of configurations of group hugs. Wind is picking up as well.


Meet friend #4 who is happy to hear that we’re from Canada. Upon learning about our lessthan-comfortable sleeping arrangements the previous night, she says, “Oh, you could have stayed at my place.” Great, just a little bit late.

9:03am Terry begins chatting with a girl

wearing a yellow ‘Inauguration Day 2009’ headband. She randomly asks Terry if he knows that Canada is the second largest landmass in the world. She had been listening to her iPod trivia podcast. Terry replies, “Yes,” and asks her if she knows what the largest is, to which she is unable to even hazard a guess. She informs him that the U.S has the third largest population in the world, after China and India. True. She then makes the claim that the U.S has a population of 1 billion


Operation “Get Ann Lip Chap,” involving three participants, commences. Everyone’s hands are stuck down at their sides so it is incredibly difficult to move. Patrick gingerly retrieves the lip chap from his pocket, another person takes the cap off with a free hand, and then Patrick holds it up steadily while Ann traces her lips around the lip chap. It was a true community event. Everyone around us loves it and we cheer afterwards. We’re starting to get close to the gates now.


There is an odd sense of “empire” and monarchical pageantry during the whole event. People are so proud and devoted! The patriotism is much more intense than we previously could have imagined.


10:21am At some point, a soldier climbs

the fence and yells at us that the generator for the metal detector is broken. We need to move away from it so they can get a fence around it or something. He tells us that until this happens nobody will be let through. Again, no megaphone. People immediately boo and are getting quite angry as there is actually nowhere to go. Then another soldier jumps on the generator and yells “Everybody move to the left now!” There is a violent push and things get a bit crazy as everyone is shoved over. People are getting right pissed off.

10:45am We make it through the gate

and into the much less crowded metal detector area. So happy to have some personal space again after six hours of being utterly squished.

11:05am We successfully pass through

security and revel in the ridiculous spectacle of the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Obama is sworn in as the 44th President! Awkward fumbling of words during the oath, but it’s all good. We are in awe listening to his address.


Start heading out of the security zone. The streets are brimming with vendors selling all sorts of souvenirs: t-shirts, action figures, even an Obama air freshener (“Smell like Obama!”). We head over to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to snap a few photos with dead Presidents, thus justifying Ann and Patrick’s absence from their History of American Foreign Relations class. Pile back into Baby-T to make our way back home after a thoroughly successful, albeit brief, road trip. After 20 hours of driving and six hours standing in a crushing mob, the general sentiment in the car is that it was definitely worth it. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, few things are better than witnessing history with three of your best friends on a spur of the moment road trip. “Remember that time we drove to D.C. for the inauguration? Oh yeah, that was awesome.”

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Blind Encounters

One brave and optimistic woman visits the elusive world of blind dates—just in time for Valentine’s Day *The names of all those described in this article have been changed to protect their reputations.


alentine’s Day is fast approaching, and, as a young single woman, I do not want to miss out on this commercial holidaty. In the past, I have spent Valentines Day doing the following: 1) School work; 2) Exchanging those dollar store cards with every kid in my kindergarten class; 3) Shoveling snow after the last snowstorm; 4) Cursing the Air Canada service counter at Washington’s Reagan National Airport; and 5) Lying vertically on my couch in sweat pants, with two men called Ben and Jerry, watching the chick flick marathon on MuchMoreMusic. But this year, I want it to be different. I want to exploit this holiday for what it is worth: cards, flowers, chocolate, and that Valentines Day’s kiss. Ideally with Zach Braff. There is one problem though: I do not have a boyfriend or any prospects for that matter. That is why I am embarking on a grand Valentine’s odyssey. Three friends set me up on three blind dates, with whomever they think will be good for me according to their own criteria, rather than mine or my mother’s. Before I continue, I must explain my mother’s standards: 1) Jewish; 2) Two to seven years older (and not divorced); 3) Taller than my 5’7;

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4) Employed as a doctor, or at least enrolled in medical school; and 5) Able to cook and clean. Well, that description does nothing to break down the stereotype of the North American Jewish mother. But, in most cases for the past couple of years, I have not followed her criteria. My dating habits have so far earned me the affectionate nickname of Lolita, but that is a story for another article. Here are my experiences from the three blind dates. Hopefully, one of them will work out, and on Valentine’s Day I will not have to settle for a night with either Ben or Jerry. First, I need to write a message to Zach Braff on his MySpace. Maybe he will reply.

Date One The “Set-Up” Person: Rachel, my very good friend since Senior Kindergarten, is currently a kinesiology student. Over the phone, she told me that I would really like this guy because he is an excellent conversationalist, a great listener, and a really good friend. The Boy: Michael, age 21, fourthyear business student at Wilfrid Laurier University. Date Plan: Skating followed by a hot chocolate and a movie back at my apartment.

by Adira Winegust

Introduction: His father drove him to meet me at my apartment. (Red Flag One! Why do I have my G2 before he does?) The introduction was a simple handshake and a smile. My first impression was that he is a sweet, quiet boy, but he was at least three inches shorter that me. (Red Flag Two! How would I wear heels if went dancing?) The Date: Michael and I walked down to the arena. This was the first time that we were alone, and so the conversation began. Awkward. It was the basic name, age, number of family members, ambitions. His answers: Michael, 21, four, none. I was asked the same thing and replied: Adira, 19, seven, to finish undergrad intact then grad school. Not going well so far. When we reached the arena, Michael was kind enough to pay the entrance fee of two dollars, helped me tie on my skates, and get me onto the ice. Once we began to skate, the conversation started to flow. Now we were discussing hockey: how he used to play, and was optimistic for the Leafs’ season. I could hold my own in this conversation, even though I could not share Michael’s optimism. I do know some facts about hockey, having two younger brothers who play and are die-hard Maple Leafs fans. We continued to skate in small clockwise circles, watching little children and their parents, teenagers knocking down the slower skaters, and other couples young and old who

were holding hands. Michael and I tried imitating them, but we could never quite get the mechanics down. Because I was taller than him, I had to twist my arm in weird ways. Because he was a better skater than me, he was always pulling ahead. After an hour, we decided it would be best to leave and go back to my apartment for hot chocolate. On solid ground, we tried holding hands again, but it did not work. There was no electric current—my hand felt dead in his. The walk back consisted mostly of him talking and me listening. Now, it was about all his pot-smoking escapades that sounded suspiciously like the plotline for The Pineapple Express. As I am a non-smoker, I could not identify, and just rolled my eyes. This date had been going on for way too long. Red Flag Number Three: I did all the preparation for the hot chocolate and Michael did not lift one finger, not even to open the door for me. The Departure: After 20 intensely awkward minutes between the two of us sipping our hot chocolates, Michael asked me what would be the last set of questions of the evening. Michael: Adira, do you know who Vincent Van Gogh is? Me: Yes. Michael: Do you know that he cut off his ear to give to his lover? Me: Yes. Michael: What body part would you want me to cut off to give to you?

Me: Looking at him with a mixture of horror and confusion. Silence. He got the hint, looked down at his watch and told me he had to catch the bus back to Waterloo. I walked him to the bus stop and when he leaned in for the kiss, I offered my hand. Verdict: Nope! He has called me back, and we have spoken cordially. I like keeping people’s bodies intact.

Date Two The “Set-Up” Person: Talia, a friend from synagogue whom I met after I moved to Hamilton. One day, while we should have been paying attention to the Rabbi’s speech, she whispered in my ear that one of her friends had just returned from a year abroad and was ready to start dating. She told me that this guy is really family-oriented and learned. The Boy: Matthew, 23, rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. Date Plan: Coffee at a local coffee shop. Introduction: Talia and I walked to the coffee shop together at my insistence. After my last blind date I was wary of meeting the guy oneon-one. The initial plan was that she introduce the two of us to each other and then leave. I was taken aback when I saw Matthew. Dark eyes, slightly curly hair that was dark, but already peppered with grey. What really struck me was how firm his handshake was, and that his eyes were the most sincere ones I had seen in a long time. Talia introduced me to Matthew and then stuck around. For the entire date. The Date: Matthew ordered just a simple coffee and I order my decaf, nonfat, extra hot ginger bread latte with extra steamed milk. Talia ordered a hot chocolate. What I liked about Matthew right away was that

he was able to laugh with me about the ridiculousness of my drink order and was genuine about it. He pulled out my chair before I sat down, a nice touch. The conversation we had ranged from politics to theology, and just plain talk about music and movies. The number of similarities between us was striking. He comes from a large family; I come from a large family. He loves the outdoors because it stirs up his spirituality, and I share a similar outlook. Poor Talia tried to get a couple of words in, but failed miserably. Halfway through the date, it began to snow softly outside. I began to imagine walking through the snow with Matthew, stopping under a street lamp, letting the flakes of snow cover our heads as we shared a pure, simple kiss. Whenever it snows, I always have that little daydream. I snapped out of the dream when I realized that I was playing footsie with him underneath the table. That endeavour quickly came to an end when Talia tried to join in. I was beginning to suspect that Talia was the one who really wanted to date Matthew, and she had used me to show him what he would be missing by not dating her. At this point, it was backfiring. All I wanted to do right at that moment was to take Matthew’s hand and hold it or have his hand brush away a curl from my face. But that was not to be. I really needed to go to the bathroom, and I had class early the next morning. The Departure: When I got back from the bathroom, Talia told me that we had to go. Matt walked both of us out of the coffee shop. As the door closed behind him, he leaned in closer and placed a kiss on my cheek. I do not kiss on the lips on the first date; I think guys need to work towards that. I was on cloud nine. We exchanged numbers and he walked away into the snow. Talia then looked at me and told me that I could not date him. Of course, I thought this was a shameless ploy. I asked

her why. Her answer: “Because when you went to the bathroom, Matthew told me that his goal was, over the course of five dates, to make you more religious, propose, get married within three months, and then whisk you away to New York.” Verdict: I would like to go on another date with Matt, and see if it would really take him five dates to accomplish his goals.

Date Three The Set Up: For this date, there was no set up, per se. It was a nice surprise that happened while I was visiting my friend Micki at her house. I knew that she came from a large family but I had never really seen any pictures or heard many stories. So when I walked into her kitchen on a Saturday afternoon and met her older brother, Sam, it was a nice surprise. Introduction: The introduction was quiet. I looked at him, he looked at me, and at the same time we asked for each other’s name and then apologized for cutting each other off. Most of the introduction took place sitting around a kitchen table and doing the basic cursory interview of each other. I found out that he was 24, going to write his CPA exam soon, and an avid traveler. Even better, Sam told me that he liked cooking and cleaning. Still, I could not help but notice Micki and her other roommate, Anna, gleefully celebrating in the corner. It seems that they have been trying to set Sam up. The Date: In the same manner as our first meeting, the date was quiet. That might also have been because it was Saturday, and as religious Jews we could not carry any money around. So we walked in and around Westdale through the bitter cold. Micki had never told me that her father did his residency at McMaster, and that she and Sam had consequently spent four years in Hamilton. As we walked,

Sam would point out places, parks, schools and shops in which he had had adventures when he was younger. Through those stories I started to get a sense of who he was, and that put me at ease. Then we wandered into Cootes Paradise, and walked between the trees and icicles. I would not say that it was the wisest decision, as my feet were freezing by that point. But during our wanderings, we came upon a two deer who were silently nuzzling each other in the distance. I wonder if that is what love is, being able to give and receive symbiotically, not asking for anything in return. The Departure: I think now would be a good time to mention that, up until this point in the date, Sam and I had not touched. No kisses, no hugs, not even any hand-holding. We went back to Micki’s house and Sam opened the door for me. He would not be coming in because he had to go back to Toronto. As he opened the door, my hand brushed against his and an electric feeling rushed through my body. The look on his face indicated that he must have been shocked as well. We looked at each other for a while and I let the screen door slam. He made the “call me” sign and walked away. A quiet ending. The Verdict: I’m going to keep this quiet and not jinx anything. Hopefully, we will meet again. What have I learnt from this experience? I guess overall I should not be stressing about finding a boyfriend. If things and events are meant to be, they are meant to be. Sometimes things fall into place when you least expect them to. On the other hand, I really should not rely on other people to try and set me up, as they sometimes have other interests in mind or are completely off. I never want to date a person who asks me about body parts. As for Valentine’s Day, what will happen will happen. Unless Zach Braff messages me back.

incite 17


Reframing Hamilton By Jeanette Eby

Wandering and Belonging Together “No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities—always see them, for they are always there.” — Norman Vincent Peale


n a cold, windy Friday evening in January, I was fortunate enough to go on a storytelling journey through the alleyways of North End Hamilton with my good friend Charlie. Charlie is one of the wisest, most caring people I know. He sees value in the simplest of things: he introduced me to some of the best pizza in the city, and he is a street hockey champion. We are both members of Beasley Neighbours for Neighbours. It is the neighbourhood association at the heart of the city, as Beasley is the neighbourhood bordered by Main, James, Barton and Wellington Streets. The association is made up of passionate community members who are committed to making Beasley the best it can be. We do not define ourselves by our struggles; rather, we build on what we have. Charlie’s passion for the neighbourhood is contagious. It continually fosters our sense of purpose, and no matter how crazy it may seem, we continue to move, having faith that Beasley is a beautiful neighbourhood, full of hope and strength, where everyone has something to contribute. Have you ever explored the alleyways of downtown Hamilton? I encourage you to venture through a few this winter. Walk slowly. Look up and around you. Observe the rooftops, the graffiti-covered garages, the backyard fences, and the apparent emptiness. You may be unmoved, and you may feel lonely. On the other hand, you may experience wonder and curiosity. You may feel a sense of peace. Imagine what might have been there 30, 40, even 50 years ago. Look at the alley with new eyes—imagine what it could be. Charlie’s childhood map of Hamilton was traced in alleyways: places of adventure, of refuge, shortcuts, places of community and friendship. Just like all people and places, every alleyway has a story. We began our evening by visiting a seemingly insignificant patch of land north of the downtown core, a small passageway that is barely an alley, located in Charlie’s old neighbourhood at John and Simcoe streets. It takes up the space of maybe four drive-

18 incite

ways, boxed in by old fences and the brick walls of neighbouring houses. Charlie told me to look at this alley in a new way and to imagine it as it was years ago. When Charlie was a kid, “The Alley” (as he affectionately refers to it) was actually a social hub for the Italian community. Kids ran around, women chatted and played cards, and men played bocce. People ate, drank, and spent time with each other day and night. It was the place to be—always alive, a place of family, friendship and belonging. As he told stories, Charlie spoke of the “unwritten codes” that he and his friends lived by growing up in the North End of Hamilton. The boys literally hung out in packs of 40 or 50; they needed to, to protect each other from bullies and other dangers. There were plenty of fights, but amidst the violence and mischief, there was an unwritten code of honour. Sometimes, you would have to take a beating, without fighting back, to preserve the honour of you and your friends. This is the notion of sacrifice: enduring hardship for the sake of something greater than yourself. If a boy fought back, he would perpetuate the violence and put his friends in greater danger; instead, he should make that courageous step and act for the whole. These were individual acts of sacrifice, but there were also the acts that depended on a cohesive community ethic: a collective understanding and value base, moving everyone to act cooperatively around a certain issue. There was a man in Charlie’s neighbourhood named Ronny who was known to be a little bit crazy. He wandered the streets, doing his thing, and he was welcome. No one gave him a hard time, they let him be, and they looked out for him— kids and adults alike. Residents did not need to rely on the police, because they were watching out for each other. Neighbours took collective ownership of these situations, not because it was asked of them but because it was their way of belonging to a community when they simply could not rely only on themselves. What are the “unwritten codes” that we live by today? Do we have a common understanding of how we live out our values in our neighbourhoods? Often, organizations and neighbourhoods get so bombarded

by management, evaluations, and external expectations that we forget the beauty of organic processes. These are the processes that emerge when we take a crazy step and invite someone in, allowing them to be themselves. One of the unwritten codes of Beasley Neighbours for Neighbours is our firm belief that everyone has something to contribute. We include everyone, regardless of their background or status. Whether you move from shelter to shelter, whether you are an aspiring artist or a business person—or a combination of the two—you have a place. Everyone can be a part of Beasley with their own gifts to bring to the table. Including everyone makes the process a bit messier, a bit more unpredictable, but it also makes the engagement process more authentic and inspiring. It frees a community from mechanical formulas of governance, and allows its members the freedom to be creative and responsible for themselves. Notions of sacrifice and cooperation, which Charlie mentioned as part of the unwritten codes, are always present when it comes to building relationships and community. We have to believe in something that is beyond the effort of any one person, something that weaves together the complexity of our human selves and creates something beautiful. We all need each other. We cannot escape this network of mutuality that keeps us coming back to one another, looking out for each other—in essence, recognizing our longing for community. When Italians immigrated to Hamilton, they made a new life together, relied on each other, and held on to their heritage while also contributing to the culture of Hamilton. Alleyways can be sites of urban decay, crime, and loneliness. But our belief in their potential cannot be thwarted by this notion alone. Alleyways can also be colourful and intriguing; they give us access to the hidden treasures and mysteries of a place, to the stories of the past, to the imagination that sees beyond the surface. Alleyways are places where people like Ronny can wander and belong on their own terms, without being judged by the world outside. It is often in the dark places that we seek out the light in each other.


All My Single Ladies… and Gentlemen

By Sabrina Falco A

geism, sexism, activism, creationism. These are just a few of the distinct isms that populate our consciousness in day-to-day life. With new theories or doctrines often popping up, especially around university campuses, it seems we may lose track of them all. To quote John Lennon: this-ism, that-ism, isn’t it the most? Although each ism has a different meaning, they are all similar in that they denote a distinctive system of beliefs, morals, or values that guide a social movement, institution, class, or group. Two labels that can cause much commotion and are often dear to my identity are the statuses of “single” or “in a relationship.” Nowadays, these two classifications can even be thought of as isms, given how much added baggage they often imply. Here, I will be focusing on “singleism,” in contrast to its compliment, “relationshipism.” Of course, due to my current single status, my expertise lies in singleism. At its core, being single is being independent. And being independent makes you feel excited, adventurous, blissful, and lustful. This is an ism which you should be proud to incorporate into your identity. Your independence shines, and all focus is directed towards you and your activities. Unfortunately, singleism is not often looked upon as positively as I have described it above. Instead, it receives a negative response, especially from those who no longer follow its path. A non-single person may view us singles as depressed, or—my favourite— lonely. Although it is true that single people have more time to spend by themselves, I for one have a large family and many friends to keep me company. Moreover, I am positive that I am not the only one who does. So why should I be accused of being lonely? Another single stereotype from the pair-bonded population is that singles cannot relate to their friends embroiled in fights with their boyfriend or girlfriend. This is patently untrue. If anything, single people are in a better situation to understand the relevant facts of the situation. They can look at the relationship and take both parties’ opinions into account, rather than simply siding with one half of the relationship. Although I cannot fully relate to relationshipism right now, I do have some opinions on it. It is amazing to find someone who shares your interests, appreciates you, and enjoys spending time with you. If you manage to find this person, especially at a young age, your opinions and values can grow together almost as one. Once a couple is together for a certain period of time, their ideologies can blend together to a certain extent. That may not be a bad thing, but I still think that gaining your independence before entering a relationship is essential if

you want to be known as an individual first and a member of a couple later. On a similar note, those in relationships should not assume that single people are inherently jealous of those who are part of couples—it’s simply not true! “Relationshipists” should encourage their single friends to go out and be social, but should not then question why they aren’t in a steady relationship. It takes time! The perfect man or woman may not be simply footsteps away! To extend this discussion from our ordinary lives, we can look at the implications of singleism and relationshipism within pop culture. The media exerts some influence, whether large or small, on people’s perceptions and decisions about relationships. For these two isms, I can think of no better example than the music industry. Genres of music may vary, but certain topics remain the source of endless inspiration: love, money, relationships, living the good life, and being alone. When I listen to music, I am often astonished at what the songs imply about the value of relationships. For instance, Beyoncé’s new hit, “Single Ladies,” always gets the party started, especially among the “single gals” in the room. Yet if you listen closely, Beyoncé is not embracing the fact that

she is single. Rather, she is busting a move in a club with another man, hoping to make her ex-boyfriend jealous while singing “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.” This is not a liberating anthem to single women; it’s full of revenge, anger, and jealousy. A personal favourite singleism track is Celine Dion’s “All By Myself.” This song makes me cringe. The lyrics include “Livin’ alone, I think of all the friends I’ve know/When I dial the telephone, nobody’s home.” Is she implying that as a single person, my friends won’t answer my phone calls because I am not in a relationship? That is preposterous! These songs are just two examples of the negative stereotypes of single people reinforced by pop music. While some of the lyrics may be catchy, they simply don’t stand up to the realities of either singleism or relationshipism. People often get caught up in the desire to make life plans, which usually include long-term relationships. But in doing so they can forget benefits that singleism can provide them. Single individuals do not necessarily ignore this desire for a relationship, but until the time is right, we will go on head high, in hopes of remaining fulfilled single individuals. Maybe love isn’t all you need.


incite 19



’m home!” Joanna kicked off her shoes as she walked in, ignoring the muffled roar of voices and flashing lights behind the door. She let her purse drop to the floor with a sigh, and her red blazer followed it a moment later, her realtor’s nametag facing up towards the ceiling. She took a few steps inside, the old wooden floor creaking loudly under her feet before her husband’s face appeared at the top of the basement stairs. “Are they still out there?” Oswald asked, nervously. His glasses were pushed up onto his high forehead, resting just behind his hairline’s latest stand. “They are, aren’t they? Oh, I wish they’d just go away,” he muttered, wringing his hands. “Oui, they’re still out there,” Joanna said. She paused at the basement doorway and pulled it open, exposing the rest of Oswald’s body. He was dressed in a pair of loose, wrinkled slacks and a rumpled button-up shirt, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “You should just go talk to them, mon cœur. They don’t look like they’re going to give up.” Oswald sagged like a marionette with cut strings, his shoulders and head slumping. He kept his eyes down, tilting his head so far that his glasses nearly fell off. “Oh, I couldn’t do that,” he mumbled. “I’m, I’m not ready yet. I just wish I knew how they’d found out.” Joanna patted her husband’s cheek, then leaned in to brush the crown of his pale head with her lips. “Well really, Oswald,” she said, lightly, “Did you think you could keep something like your Everysauce a secret forever?”

20 incite

Oswald had grown up in a quiet working class family, gone to a quiet community college, landed a quiet job working, quietly, for the municipal government, and never, ever stood out from the crowd. In almost every regard, Oswald was a poster child for a life of quiet desperation. Except without the desperation. In fact, there was just one thing that Oswald did that wasn’t quiet. Oswald was a genius with condiments. Oh, he was good at knowing just how much ketchup to put on a hot dog, and the appropriate time for a hot mustard, but it had gone well beyond that. And as time had passed, he had begun to suspect that it might go further still. That somehow, he could parlay his skill with sauces and garnishes and pastes into something that might put him up there with the Heinzs and the Hunts. And that was how he had come to create what would, eventually, be the only condiment anyone would ever need. Oswald Carré’s Everysauce. “Have you had any luck with the salad problem, yet?” Joanna asked, as the pair sat down to dinner. It was a rather more dimly lit affair than usual since all the curtains were drawn tight. Ever since the reporters got wind of Oswald’s Everysauce, the Carré household had been essentially under siege. “Not yet, dear.” Oswald drizzled a bit of Everysauce over the white rice, the dirty brown sauce soaking into the grains. “I think it’s got to do with the number of different tastes. The sauce can’t quite seem to settle into them all at once.” “So it ended up tasting like burnt jelly and


A sweet concoction of sorts

newspaper, c’est cela?” “Er, yes, dear. I really am sorry about that.” She leaned across the little table, careful not to dip her long brown hair in their dinner, and gave him a light peck on the cheek. “Don’t worry about it, mon cœur. I’m just glad we learned about that little snag before we tried to release it.” She laughed lightly, spooning some Everysauce onto her chicken breast. “I’m sure you’ll get all the kinks worked out. It’s just a matter of time.” Oswald smiled bashfully, stirring the rice and sauce together. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, dear.” “Especially since you quit, eh?” Joanna teased, smiling. “But don’t worry. When you’re filthy rich from your condiment empire, it’ll be your turn, mais oui?” He laughed, and she laughed with him. “I promise,” he said, with a faintly bashful smile. They stared into each others’ eyes for a long moment, until he looked away, still smiling. “So, um, have you given any more thought to what I was saying, earlier?” “Oh, Ozzie, mon cœur, I don’t know.” She leaned back in her chair, reaching up to toy with a lock of her hair. “Maybe once we’re a little more, you know, financially stable…” Joanna trailed off, and before Oswald could say anything there was a sudden, startling crash. The big bay window at the back of the narrow kitchen exploded inwards, little fragments of glass cutting through the curtains and showering onto the tiles. The couple dropped, shielding themselves with the table, but then there was nothing but

silence, broken quickly enough by the babble of reporters’ voices coming through the broken window. The split-second light of a camera’s flash showed through the curtains, followed by another, and more until it seemed as though a spotlight was trained on the window. Joanna emerged from under the table first, carefully picking her way around the broken glass to the window. “What was it?” Oswald asked, peering over the edge of the table. “Was it a bird? Oh dear, is it okay?” “It wasn’t a bird,” she said, leaning down. After a moment she straightened back up, turning to show Oswald a small black cell. “Tabernac!” Joanna exclaimed as it rang, so startled she nearly dropped the phone. Oswald moved away from the kitchen table, careful to avoid the broken glass on the floor. “Do you think we should answer it?” he asked, wringing his hands and glancing at the window every so often. His wife just shrugged and flipped open the phone, holding it a few inches away from her ear. “Oui?” “We’d like to speak with your husband, Mme Carré.” Joanna jerked the phone away, the volume nearly deafening; the phone was set to speaker. “And just why should I let him talk to you, eh?” she demanded. “Throwing phones, scaring people, êtes-vous hors de votre esprit?” The voice was calm and insistent when it said, simply, “Please.” Oswald moved to stand beside his wife, leaning in to overhear the call. “I’m here,” he said, glancing over at his wife, his mouth close to the phone. “May I, ah, may I ask who’s calling?” “I represent certain parties interested in your ‘Everysauce,’ Mr. Carré,” the voice murmured. “Details seem unnecessary. I’m sure you can guess who, can’t you?” His eyes widened, and he mimed spreading and squeezing for his wife, who nodded. The condiment industry was on the line. “Um,” Oswald said, chewing on his lip, “What, um, what do you want?” “As you can imagine,” the voice said, its tone soothing, “certain groups would prefer you to be cautious with your creation. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be responsible for putting people out of work, now would you, Mr. Carré? All those plastics workers ad glass makers, label artists and delivery people…” “Well, no…” “Oswald, don’t let this cochon manipulate you,” Joanna whispered sharply as she covered the phone’s mouthpiece with one hand. “This is your dream, n’est-ce pas? And you must follow your dreams, mon cœur.” “It’s an expensive dream, though, isn’t Mr. Carré?” Both husband and wife blinked, startled, as the phone picked up their conversation. “Perhaps we could help, there. What if we simply… hired you?” “Hired me?” “Yes, Mr. Carré. My clients would be more than happy to have you on their payroll. And I assure you, their facilities are much better than whatever you have available in your basement.” “Pah, we have money enough,” Joanna said, cutting in. “And you know—” “Do you? How impressive.” Joanna’s eyes

narrowed, and her cheeks turned a shade of red that made Oswald consider ducking behind the table again. Unaware of the silent cue, however, the person on the phone continued, saying, “After all, neither of you were all that well-off. And with you no longer working, Mr. Carré… Well, if you say so, Mme Carré, who am I to argue?” “C’est cela,” Joanna growled, glaring at the phone. “Damn right.” “Though, perhaps you’d be interested to know just where your wife got the money to support your ‘dream,’ Mr. Carré.” Neither Oswald nor Joanna could miss the smugness seeping into the voice. “And while you’re wondering,” it went, “perhaps you’d be interested in this, as well. Just how did the media learn of the existence of your interesting little concoction, hmm?” The phone clicked with finality, leaving husband and wife alone once more. Joanna tossed it onto the kitchen table, while Oswald stared at her, his eyes narrowing slowly. “Now Oswald,” she started to say. “It was you, wasn’t it?” Oswald cut in, shouting. “Mon cœur …” “Oh, I’ve been such a fool!” He threw his arms up and turned away from her, doing his best to storm off. His efforts were sadly hindered by his thick wool socks, which muffled his footsteps almost entirely. “Of course it was you! Who else could it have been! Stupid, stupid!” “Oswald, you must calm down,” Joanna said, hurrying after him with just a quick glance to the broken window. “Mais oui, I did tell them, but—” “So you admit your guilt, you… you… You guilty person!” They were in the living room now, by the little loveseat. Joanna’s purse was hanging over one arm, still where she’d left it earlier, and in a moment of irrationality he scooped it up and threw it at her. It landed at her feet with a jingle and a loud, heavy thud, a few inches shy of her toes. “Oui, oui, c’est vrai,” Joanna said, her toes nudging the purse. “I did it. I did it for you!” “Oh, so you claim!” Oswald motioned towards the door, back over his shoulder. “But here I am, trapped in my own home. While you gallivant around out there!” “Gallivant?” “Yes, gallivant, darn it!” “Well, then.” Joanna sighed and reached down, scooping up her purse. She reached in and produced a small pistol, tossing her purse back onto the love seat. “I think it’s time. La grande fin, oui,” she said, pointing the barrel at him. Oswald stared at the pistol, the barrel pointing towards him. He swallowed nervously, glancing over his wife’s shoulder at the kitchen, and said, “Now, um, now dear …” For such a small pistol, the gunshot was quite

shockingly loud. The funeral was sparsely attended, at least by friends and family; the media was, of course, out in full force. It wasn’t every day, after all, that a genius inventor was killed by his wife, who then set fire to the house and shot herself. It was the story of the week. The business week, at least. “So, how does it feel to be dead, eh?” Joanna smiled over the top of the newspaper, and handed her husband a tall, fruity drink. “I bet you thought it would hurt more, oui?” “Oh, certainly, yes.” Oswald smiled back up at his wife, and leaned up to give her a quick kiss. “I’m glad it all worked out, though. But I still can’t believe you came up with all that. Leaking the story to the press, buying stock in the condiment companies when they dropped, and cashing in just before we… Well, I didn’t know you had it in you, dear.” “I am full of surprises,” she agreed with a broad smile, dropping down into the beach chair beside him. The sun was high in the sky, sparkling off the bluegreen waves as they lazed on the beach. “As are you, mon cœur. I must admit, I wasn’t entirely sure you could pull off the act.” “Well, I wasn’t, either,” Oswald admitted, with a little shrug. He reached up, wiping a bit of sweat from his forehead. “I couldn’t have done it without you, though. Thank you, for everything.” He leaned across, planting a hand in the warm sand, and kissed his wife. “It was nothing, really,” Joanna replied. “Anyway, isn’t this better than our old house? Much more room for you to work, and it never snows in the Bahamas!” They both laughed, and Oswald leaned over to clink his glass against hers. “To you,” he said, taking a sip. He set the drink aside, then pulled a sandwich out of a brown paper bag beside his chair. “And,” he said, holding it up, “To our little secret.” He grinned and took a big bite, and it was the work of a moment for his face to go from cheerful to nearly nauseous. “Let’s see, that was a chicken salad sandwich,” Joanna murmured, “So that would mean… Chocolate covered horseradish and chives?” Oswald turned his head, spitting out the mouthful. “More like syrup-coated potato and dryer lint,” he said, hurriedly taking another drink to wash the taste out. “But I’m getting closer, I just know it.” “Oui,” Joanna replied, leaning back with a faint smile. “If you say so, mon cœur.”

...and before Oswald could say anything there was a

sudden, startling crash. The

big bay window at the back of the narrow kitchen exploded

inwards, little fragments of glass cutting through the curtains and showering onto the tiles.

by Garnet Johnson-Koehn incite 21


Mac in Time

by Melissa Charenko and Kate Logan Looking for William McMaster


he namesake of our university, the father of the eponym blazoned on our sweaters and abbreviated on our bottoms: William McMaster, businessman, politician, senator, banker, and philanthropist. Since he died just as the university was founded, he never got to hear 20,000 students chant his name, without a clue about who he was or why their school was named for him. Be clueless no more: his story follows. After his birth in Northern Ireland in 1811, the young William’s childhood was a far cry from ivy-draped walls, PowerPoint presentations, and WebCT. His father was a linen draper, a seller of cloth and dry goods, in County Tyrone. He was able to afford a private education for his son, who also joined the Baptist Church at age ten. As a young man, he worked as a clerk in a mercantile house, but the restless William eventually set out to North America. After pausing briefly in New York City, his final destination was York, now known as Toronto, where he arrived in August 1833. There are two stories about McMaster’s rise to fortune in the muddy city on the shores of Lake Ontario. The most popular version states that he arrived in York without friends or money, much like the average student arriving at university for Welcome Week. He found employment in Robert Cathcart’s wholesale and retail dry goods firm, working hard and gaining much success. Another story claims that Cathcart was William’s uncle, who brought all his nephews to work for him after establishing his business. In any case, McMaster was an asset to his employer and within a year he was made a partner in the firm. In 1844, Cathcart retired, and McMaster took over the business. He changed its focus, concentrating solely on wholesale dry goods and moving to fast-paced Yonge Street. The revamped business was a huge success, becoming one of Toronto’s most profitable lines. By 1860, McMaster’s company was considered “the largest Dry Goods Concern in Western Canada.” His wealth was equivalent to about $20 million in today’s currency. He didn’t quite match the success of our Michael DeGroote, but it remains impressive for someone selling textiles, clothing and sundries. McMaster married Mary Henderson, but they did not have any children. Instead, he brought two of his nephews over from Ireland. They helped him with the business, now called William Mc-

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Master & Nephews. Although this company was active, by the early 1860s it was seen as an old firm with a fixed clientele and nowhere to go. McMaster had dreamed of retiring early, but this stagnancy led him to expand his commercial interests elsewhere. He relinquished management to his nephews, retaining a large financial interest. His company’s growing capital even helped Toronto secure economic prominence over Montreal. It was during this stage in his life that McMaster entered politics. He was elected as a Liberal to represent the Midland division in the Legislative Council in 1862. He was later appointed to Canada’s first Senate, a position he retained for the rest of his life. As a Senator, he spoke succinctly on topics with which he was intimately associated, such as banking and finance, bills affecting companies he was connected to, and matters touching him as a Baptist. If politics and owning a large business weren’t enough, he was also an active member of the Toronto Board of Trade; the director of the Ontario Bank, the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway, the Canada Land and Credit Company, and the Toronto and Georgian Bay Canal Company; and a member of the board of directors of the NorthWest Transportation, Navigation, and Railway Company. The rivalry between Toronto and Montreal pushed the tireless McMaster to start a career in banking. In 1864, he took a position with the Bank of Montreal, but he was distressed by its actions in Western Canada. The bank had taken advantage of a new law to become the only institution to hand out government notes, among many other dubious undertakings. McMaster teamed up with other Toronto business leaders to campaign against the Bank of Montreal. Their actions eventually led to the establishment of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the forerunner to the CIBC. As its president, McMaster used his good reputation in Toronto to help the Canadian Bank of Commerce enjoy rapid success. In 1886, McMaster stepped down as president of the bank, citing poor health and a need for new leadership. By this time though, the bank had become the second largest in Canada. He would continue to take on new positions on various boards, now that he only had his own business and political career to worry about. For

example, he helped steer the Confederation Life Association to become the second-largest life insurance company in Canada. McMaster was known as a shrewd businessman, but he considered himself a Baptist foremost. He was convinced the Baptists were a “people of destiny” and he remained devout to his faith despite that his business and social well-being would likely have been greatly improved had he been part of a more popular religion. Much of his philanthropy was denominational, causing others to question his charitable motives. But the Baptists revered him for the new churches he built. Throughout his life, McMaster valued education highly. He gave generously to the Toronto Mechanics’ Institute and sat on the Senate of the University of Toronto. He was most involved in the professional and ministerial training of Baptists. When the Canada Baptist College in Montreal was forced to close in 1849, McMaster was instrumental in establishing a substantial successor in Woodstock, Ontario. The institution later came to Toronto, a move inspired by McMaster’s second wife, Susan Moulton Fraser. She was the widow of an American businessman who had seen what Baptists were capable of. She knew that in a more metropolitan city, the Baptists would be able to effect more change. Within a year, McMaster provided a site for the school on Bloor Street and donated $100,000, with a pledge for more each year. He was reluctant to have his name associated with the building, but he did get his wish that the school be called a college rather than a seminary. He hoped the arts would eventually supplement the theological curriculum and provide a fuller experience. McMaster’s dream of this dual experience was fulfilled when the Toronto Baptist College combined with Woodstock College under the name McMaster University. William McMaster only saw the beginnings of this new institution, as he died shortly after the bill establishing it was passed in the Legislature. He willed the bulk of his estate, worth $900,000, as an endowment to the university. His widow donated their Bloor Street mansion to the university, and it became Moulton College, a school for girls. Thus McMaster, the university, was born in Toronto in 1887, a date not forgotten on our shirts.

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photography by Will van Engen

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Incite Magazine - February 2009  

Incite Magazine - February 2009

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