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Inspiration for an Enlightened Generation

Orwell was right p.14

11 Million Voices p.16 Inter-dimensional Perspectives p.28

The Rise of the Remix p.44 Conspiracyville, USA p.60

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Konekt Issue 2 Editor’s Note

Global Issues


Orwell Rolls in his Grave by Katherine Morton


11 Million Voices by Maryam Adrangi and Whit Jones


The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance by Matthew Lombardi


Understanding the Nobel Peace Prize by Samuel Yorke


The Threat of a Nuclear Iran by Jason Wiseman



Revelations by Jeff Fraser


The Lost Self by Kevin Shabahan


Our Prologue Days by Paul Tye


Mumblecore by Andrew Smyth


Eh Musical Compilation by Kate Kilgour and Ally Hall


Interview with E-603: The Rise of the Remix by Joanna Adams

iPod Truth

Culture & Society


The Glamourization of Addiction by Andrea McPherson


I’m Onto Your Game by Melyssa Wright


Welcome to Conspiracyville, USA by Amarnath Amarasingam


It’s All the Same by Jeff Waite


Tipping the Scales by Kelly Reid


The Market Taketh and the Market Giveth by Ryan Zade


When I Was Your Age by Jason Collins


DIY: Resisting the Rewind by Samantha Evans

Science & Technology 80

Tweeting Your Way Through by Sean O’Loghlen


Bye, We’ll Chat by Celine Song

Join the discussion @

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Masthead 32

Konekt Magazine Issue 2 Winter 2010


Jeffrey Howard

Neil Martin

Editor in Chief

Art Director

Matthew Lombardi

Jennifer K Mann

Associate Editors: Joanna Adams, Alice Greenberg, Jess Hall, Dave Hertzberg, Kate Kilgour, Sean O'Loghlen, David Waugh. Special Advisers: Jeff Fraser, David Kepes, Devin Knowles Community Ambassador: Paul Tye Contributing Writers:


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Joanna Adams, Maryam Adrangi, Amarnath Amarasingam, Jason Collins, Samantha Evans, Jeff Fraser, Ally Hall, Whit Jones, Kate Kilgour, Matthew Lombardi, Andrea McPherson, Katherine Morton, Sean O’Loghlen, Kelly Reid, Kevin Shabahan, Andrew Smyth, Celine Song, Paul Tye, Jeff Waite, Jason Wiseman, Melyssa Wright, Samuel Yorke, Ryan Zade

Advertising Sales Director Advertising Design Director Production Artist Chief Web Architect Web Graphic Designer Printing

Jeffrey Howard Neil Martin Jennifer K Mann Rares Crisan Justin Fowler Dollco Printing Ltd.

Special Thanks to our Amazing Sponsors: Amadeus Cafe, Amey’s Taxi, Asha Sushi, Beauty Supply Outlet, Big Rock Brewery, Camera Kingston, Canada Computers, Canadian Blood Services, Clinic Pharmacy, Cora, Darbar Exotic Indian Cuisine, Dover’s Mens Wear, Fanatics Sports Lounge, Felicity & Fritz, The Grand Theatre, Green Tray, Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery, HighPoint Properties, Kingston Community Credit Union, Laurier Optical, Legendz Eatery and Niteclub, The Mansion, Marc F. Raymond Optical, Minos Takeout - downtown, Odyssey Travel, Panda Garden Buffet, Queen’s ITS, The Raging Bull, Sakura Japanese Restaurant, Smith Army Surplus, The Spot Nightclub, Sterling, Studio 330, Tango / Toucan, Taylor Studios, Vandervoort General Store, Wild Wing Kingston, Windmills Cafe Copyright © 2010 by OmniCentra Media Inc. All rights reserved under international and Pan American Copyright Conventions. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. Printed in Canada. Published by OmniCentra Media Inc. P.O. Box 1153, Kingston, ON K7L 4Y5 t. 613.539.7648 e.


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10 Konekt

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Note Thanks for picking up Issue #2 of Konekt Magazine. After taking the student community by surprise this past September, we’ve worked hard to ensure that the product you are reading today is one that has improved significantly, taking into account all of the fantastic feedback from you, our loyal reader. We’ve brought some new faces on board, tweaked our content, and moved towards some key layout and design upgrades that will make Konekt a more enjoyable read. Meanwhile, we’ve maintained the stuff you loved: a diversity of unfiltered opinions on topics ranging from pop culture to philosophy to technology and anything else your peers have endeavoured to share. Bringing together the inaugural issue of Konekt was quite the challenge, but it was nothing compared to the task of putting together a worthy encore. For helping us get this marvelous publication together on time, I want to use this space to thank my new associate editors and all of our writers for their hard work and dedication. I also must single out our wonderfully talented Art Director, Jennifer Mann, to whom all the credit goes for the stunning visual appeal of this magazine. Last but not least, Konekt’s founders and publishers Jeffrey Howard and Neil Martin must be acknowledged for their tireless efforts in improving this project day in and day out, skillfully managing every step of creation from idea to print. Konekt is a testament to the hard work of so many people. This is the first student publication in Kingston’s history that is available on all three post secondary campuses. It is also the first and only student publication that is fully funded by advertising dollars from local community businesses, a truly special benchmark in town-gown relations. For that, I want to thank our many generous sponsors and advertisers for putting their faith into this student project and helping to make Konekt a high-quality, free publication for Kingston’s students. As always, if you have any suggestions or want to write for the next edition of Konekt, drop me a line at Sincerely,

Clock Tower Plaza 841 Norwest Rd. (613) 389-7128 Monday to Saturday : 6 am to 3 pm. Sunday : 7 am to 3 pm.

Matthew Lombardi Editor in Chief

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It might be time to pull 1984 off of the fiction shelf. Meet Bill S.773, the Cybersecurity Act that has the Blogosphere in a frenzy.

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dream might soon become a reality, because...

there are many propositions in this act that have the potential to end the free Internet as we know it. The bill itself is filled with murky language and ambiguity. It begins with the findings of congress related to the need for more Internet security. Contextually loaded words like “cyber-Katrina”, “9/11”, and “terror” “terrorists” “terrorism” abound in this section. Amusingly enough, at one point a quotation from President Obama is included which actually holds China up as a model for Internet control. “We know that cyber-espionage and common crime is already on the rise,” said the President, “And yet while countries like China have been quick to recognize this change, for the last eight years we have been dragging our feet”. Right. Because everyone wants to be like China when it comes to censorship! Of real interest, however, are Sections 14 and 18 of the act. The former section designates the Department of Commerce as the “clearinghouse of cybersecurity threat and vulnerability information”. One might ask, “What the hell does that mean?”. Well, in the words of the bill itself, it means that the Secretary of Commerce “shall have access to all relevant data concerning such networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access”. And this means that...

all those nifty little acts that have been designed to protect individual privacy, like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Privacy Protection Act will no longer be able to protect U.S. citizens from the all-seeing eye of the government. It is Section 18 of the act that has really grabbed media attention though. This may be because it essentially gives the president the power to disconnect or limit access of private sector computers to the Internet in the event of an as-yet obscure and undefined “internet emergency”.

The bill defines the particular private sector computers in question as “critical infrastructure”. And it defines “critical infrastructure” as being “composed of public and private institutions in the sectors of agriculture, food, water, public health, emergency services, government, defense industrial base, information and telecommunications, energy, transportation, banking finance, chemicals and hazardous materials, and postal and shipping”. So, um, everything. Granted, the state has assured the public that these new powers will not be used for evil, but rather for the good of the nation. But who decides which data is “relevant”? Are individual credit card bills relevant? Cell phone records and Internet communications? News and journalism? This definition is left up to the person who pulls the strings. Not to mention that once someone’s personal information is accessed, no matter what the original reason for uncovering it, that data could conceivably be used for a variety of other purposes. Perhaps most importantly, the bill gives no guidance regarding what conditions are necessary for the President to declare an “internet emergency”, allowing him to pull the kill-switch. These decisions are left to a very small, very powerful group of men and women. Now, as many have pointed out, there is no guarantee that this bill will ever get passed. But it may yet slither its way through congress by virtue of Sen. Rockefeller being chairman of the committee in charge of approving it. The bottom line is that a free and critical media is essential for keeping governments in check, and there is the small matter of where the line will be drawn. How far will the U.S. government go in the name of counter-terrorism, and how many countries (ahem, Canada) will follow their example? In the words of Sen. Rockefeller as quoted recently in the Washington Post: “It’s not a problem that will ever completely be solved. You have to keep making higher walls”.


Introduced by United States Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe, the bill is described by congress, innocuously enough, as “A bill to ensure the continued free flow of commerce within the United States and with its global trading partners through secure cyber communications”. Sen. Rockefeller has long been a supporter of tightening Internet controls. Great grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller and nephew of famous banker David Rockefeller, the senator has never been a fan of the information highway. He once pegged “cybersecurity as the number one national hazard of attack”. Even more telling, after portraying the Internet on C-SPAN as a refuge for terrorists and other scary monsters, he posed the question: “would it have been better if we had never invented the Internet?”. Rockefeller’s

16 Konekt

11 Million Voices: A youth call for action at the UN

Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen by Maryam Adrangi and Whit Jones

Maryam Adrangi graduated from Queen’s in 2007 with a degree in Environmental Geology and has been active in the environmental sector ever since. She has worked on environmental education projects in Bolivia and Ecuador, and is involved with several non-profit organizations, including the Sierra Youth Coalition and the Canadian Water Network. Maryam is now a Grassroots Organizer with the Rainforest Action Network in Toronto, campaigning against the Tar Sands. On Wednesday, December 16, 2009, Maryam and many other dedicated youth from around the world participated in a highly publicized sit-in at the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The entire event was captured by Whit Jones, Deputy Field Director of Energy Action Coalition, in a minute-by-minute live blog. Here is what happened:

17:01 I’m at the heart of the Bella Center, where youth activists from around the world have set-up a sit in. They are reading aloud the names of the 11 million people who have called for a fair and ambitious treaty, and are refusing to leave until their voices are heard and demands are met. 17:18 Sit-in holding strong. Media swirling and no sign of security. Looks like they are choosing to ignore this for now. Something tells me that these people wont allow themselves to be ignored. 17:34 More people join the sit-in as media continues to interview youth from around the world calling for a real deal here in Copenhagen. I’m hearing names being read from Nigeria, Jordan, the US, Canada, Australia. The world is clearly ready for action — when the people lead, it’s time for the leaders to follow. 17:51 After 51 minutes, security finally moves in, asks them to sit on side. Young people refuse to leave, holding strong. U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change, the U.S.’s chief negotiator just walked by and definitely noticed. 17:57 Circle turns in-ward to huddle and decide what to do. With very little hesitation, they turn back and stay strong. Applause from on-lookers. 18:02 I just ran around the circle – this is truly global! There are people from Canada, Wales, Turkey, France, U.S.A., Denmark, Australia, Germany, China, Lebanon, England, Ireland, Kenya, Norway. Young people around the world are invested in each other’s futures and are not about to give up. 18:07 Many people just dragged away. There is a bit of pandemonium and everyone is spread out. Chants of “the Whole World is Watching” coming from throughout the halls. 18:11 Still about 19 people reading names – super inspirational. Video coming…. Trying to figure what happened to the two people who were dragged away 18:33 Medium risk-team has dispersed, but 17 people still reading names. Doesn’t the UN realize that with fewer people it’s going to take a lot more time to read through the 11 million names that are calling for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty?

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and is waiting to see what happens… Reading of names picks up again, still bringing the voices of 11 million people into the Bella Center.

19:04 All the lights in the corridor turn off, they are trying to get civil society to leave.

01:33 Members of civil society being run out of different corners of the Bella Center – security is definitely making a sweep. Sitters are clear they aren’t trying to make trouble for security, just trying to make sure their future is secured.

19:23 This update comes in the form of quotes from people sitting-in: “We want a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal. I’m prepared to not leave until we get this” – Ann, China

01:43 No signs of security yet. Live Web Stream is going strong and people are contacting us from all over the world. This is truly incredible. Thank you for all of the support.

“UN security has dragged us to the side just like rich nations have been doing to developing countries ever since these negotiations began. We wanted to show that we will not be pushed aside without our voices being heard and that’s why we tried to stay in a circle, so that the voices of these 11 million people can’t be pushed aside.” – Maryam, Canada “The voices of these 11 million people can’t be ignored. We won’t allow it” – Dominek, Germany

01:44 Spoke too soon. Security showed up, appointed person liaising with them. 01:51 Security ready to crack down. Jeh is giving an impromptu speech, paraphrasing “we have been told by the Secretariat that if we risk arrest, we could jeopardize the ability for ALL of civil society to be involved in coming days. We have come to consensus, despite reservation, that we will take our concerns outside and take it to the streets. We are calling for mass civil disobedience, and solidarity actions around the country. Join us.” Applause!!!

19:30 We’ve confirmed that the one person taken away by security has been released, glad he is safe. Oh, and it turns out that they turned off the lights for Earth Hour, thanks WWF! 19:36 Senator John Kerry just walked by the sit-in, shook the hands of each of the 19 people, and told them “Thank you for your commitment.” I hope Senator Kerry can convince President Obama to show the same sort of leadership when he arrives on Friday. 22:03 About 20 yards from the sit-in, fossil fuel hack is interviewed by Fox news – people riled up by sit-in respond with “boos” and laughter. He’s laughed off the camera. 22:15 During the sit-in we spotted one of our climate heroes here in Copenhagen, Dessima Williams, chairwoman of the AOSIS (small island state negotiating block). We asked her for her reactions on the sit-in, and told us an incredible story! 14 years ago she sat in at this SAME center for 8 days to urge military funding to move towards women focused development. A true hero, and the struggle goes on.


22:38 Thanks to the support of all of you online, this action is now resonating louder and louder here at the UN Climate Talks and beyond. But we still need your support. The youth at the sit-in are talking with delegates from around the world as they pass by the demonstration. We want to be able to tell these negotiators — many of whom are now coming under immense pressure from rich countries to back down and compromise their very survival — that the world supports them. We know that 19 people at a sit-in isn’t enough — we need your voice too. Can you add your message of support to this post and push it past 100 comments? We’ll repeat those messages to our heroes as they walk by, and remind the countries blocking progress that the world is watching! 23:45 Maryam puts up an incredible personal post about her experience. 00:00 We made it to midnight! The conference center begins to empty out and janitors start tidying up the space. 01:12 Team meeting to figure out plan for night. Things are getting quiet around here, but your comments and tweets are keeping it energetic! 01:25 Security circling corridors. Team has sat back down


01:54 Over 150 people watching live stream. Thousands of people know what’s going on. Thanks everyone for joining us. Gotta run before I get swept away!

23:45 Maryam blogged: “We just began our seventh hour here in the Bella Centre, sitting-in until world leaders achieve a fair, ambitious, and legally-binding treaty. The past few hours have been incredibly positive as party members, NGO members, and UN observers have come by to meet us and ensure our wellbeing by offering us food, water, and blankets. Members of party delegations have walked by giving us a thumbs up, and several climate A-listers have walked by to shake our hands and congratulate us on our bravery. Some other successes: -Someone made a facebook group called “I will stand up while youth sit down in Copenhagen” -We are the main story on German television -Al Gore sent a message of support -NDP leader Jack Layton came by to say hello to some of the Canadians and international youth sitting-in -John Kerry came by and shook our hands -Head of AOSIS gave us an awesome shout-out On another special note: The amount of civil society that has been allowed into the conference centre has already been restricted significantly. As we come to the high-levels of the negotiations, civil society’s access will be further restricted from 1500 participants to 300. The voice of civil society is being increasingly muted. But the voice must be heard loud and clear: We need a fair, ambitious, and legally binding climate deal now. There is no time to delay.” *For the full blog entry and more first hand accounts of the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference, visit


18:56 Rumor is that they might be kicking out all of civil society at 7 PM (4 minutes from now). We’ll see what happens.

18 Konekt

The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance by Matthew Lombardi

iPod Truth

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A kid growing up in Canada in the 21st century should not have to learn about the true nature of this planet from a WorldVision commercial.

According to the UN’s latest Human Development Index, an annual global survey that measures key indicators such as life expectancy, literacy, per capita GDP, and school enrolment, Canada ranks as the 4th best country in the world in terms of overall quality of life.

If we really do believe the rhetoric our politicians spew about our children being our society’s most precious resource, and that they are our future, then we ought to treat them as such. That means making sure they actually understand the ever more interconnected world in which they are growing up. How can we claim to be properly educating our leaders of the future, while keeping them blind and ignorant to the harsh global realities of the present?

We are a very desirable place to live, by any standard. Despite this, our primary and secondary school education curriculum is horribly deficient in teaching kids about the realities of the everglobalizing world in which they are growing up. So why is the kid next door’s prime ambition to become rich? Because he hasn’t been taught any better. Instead of learning about the realities of the developing world beyond our borders, he learns math and science and other disciplines that will presumably lead straight to some moneymaking enterprise upon reaching adulthood.

We should all lament the fact that students being educated in a country with the 4th highest quality of life are kept in such a sheltered bubble of naivety. It’s even more incomprehensible, as a country built upon immigration, that we don’t properly teach our youth about the world at large. Stephanie Nolan, the New Delhi Bureau Chief of the Globe and Mail, once said, “If you have an iPod like mine, or a cellphone, or a Wii, you are connected to the 14-year-olds… who are enslaved by rebel groups in the Congo and who dig for coltan, the mineral that is the essential ingredient in our gadgets.” Why don’t we teach our kids that fact? Instead, we are concerned with their Grade 10 science curriculum and making sure they understand how the iPod works. To hell with any concern for how it came to be.

You know that old saying, ‘give a man a fish’? It’s time to update it: Give a kid a new pair of shoes, and keep him entertained for days. Give a kid proper information about where those shoes may have come from, and he’ll have a conscience for life. Kids should not be sheltered from the harsh realities of the world. As soon as children learn the loop-swoop-and-pull, they should be taught to ask instinctively, are my new shoes the result of my peers around the world being exploited in a sweatshop? This lesson may sound like something too extreme for a kid to handle, but it isn’t.

Why aren’t we giving our kids the information they deserve, so that they have the opportunity to develop ambitions imbued with a sense of social responsibility? The rare kids who possess this sense are anomalies. Forget about teaching corporate social responsibility for business students.

Beginning to teach global responsibility for the very first time in University is akin to closing the barn door once the horse has already been stolen. Our education system needs to teach kids a sense of global social responsibility far before their entrance into post-secondary degrees. In his 2005 Commencement Address at Knox College, thenSenator Barack Obama told the graduating students, “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.” I couldn’t agree more. I certainly don’t want my tombstone to read, “Here lays Matthew Lombardi, who wasted his entire life marketing new scents of liquid tide for Proctor & Gamble. But at least he died rich”.

I would like to believe that I have more to give to the world, but more importantly, I know that I have a responsibility to give more to the world. What I am advocating for is not so radical. Just provide kids with the truth. They are smart, resourceful and, given the opportunity to grow up and learn through a socially conscious lens, will likely come up with better solutions for correcting injustice than the adults currently running our world. The truth is empowering. It gives kids a sense of responsibility from a young age. It gives them the opportunity to develop a sense of ambition that isn’t solely focused on making a buck. It’s time to update our primary and secondary school curriculums, to ensure that the next generation of leaders is imbued with a more thorough sense of global awareness and social responsibility. Great change begins at the grassroots and education can be the silver bullet.


Why do so many adolescents reply “rich” when asked what they want to be when they grow up?

20 Konekt

Understanding the Nobel Peace Prize by Samuel Yorke

Without question, the choice to award Mr. Obama the Nobel Peace Prize received a massive amount of press, with every political and cultural news source offering a view.

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During the summer of 2008, I was fortunate enough to attend a ceremony for Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I was working as an intern for Dr. Yunus at the time for his microfinance organization Grameen Bank (which he shared the Peace Prize with in 2006). After the ceremony, a number of youth from local universities in Dhaka and international students such as myself were invited to sit with then Nobel Chairman Ole Danbolt Mjos. In addition to answering questions from students, Mr. Mjos gave his opinion on the successes and failures of the Prize itself. Mr. Mjos admitted from the onset of the discussion that, in the twilight of his tenure as Chairman, he was able to speak more candidly about the history of the prize.

More specifically, he offered interesting insight into two choices by the committee: the addition of Al Gore; and the exclusion of Mohandas Gandhi. In the case of Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Mjos stated that his exclusion by the Nobel committee during the aftermath of Indian independence was a severe and unequivocal oversight. Mr. Mjos argued that this choice is particularly difficult and telling for a number of reasons. The Nobel Prize cannot, as stipulated by Alfred Nobel’s will and testament, be given posthumously. This is particularly difficult in the case of many individuals who, because of their commitment to peace, place themselves continuously in situations of grave danger, either from war, assassination, violence, or otherwise. This was certainly the case for Mr. Gandhi, and, in the words of Mr. Mjos, it is exceptionally tragic that Mr. Gandhi died before he could be honoured by the committee. And even though the shortlist for nominated candidates is confidential, Mr. Mjos admitted that Mr. Gandhi had been shortlisted, and subsequently passed over, a number of times. When placed into context, Mr. Gandhi’s case can be seen, according to Mr. Mjos, as a lesson for the committee to not view the prize as a “lifetime achievement award”; the committee must, in other words, not assume that there will be future moments to honour worthy candidates and recognize their place in history. By contrast, Mr. Mjos stated that the addition of Mr. Gore to the list of Nobel laureates was very surprising. To be sure, Mr. Mjos did not go so far as to say that Mr. Gore was undeserving; rather, he insisted that Mr. Gore’s environmental activism did not fulfill the conventional understanding of the Peace Prize criteria. As Alfred Nobel’s will stipulates, the prize should beawarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” It is difficult, on the surface, to fit a commitment to voicing the necessity of environmental sustainability into the criteria. Certainly, Mr. Gore did nothing to reduce or abolish international militaries. But he did stimulate awareness in the realm of environ

mental degradation and the potential threat to human security. This focus on expected benefits of environmental awareness (i.e. limiting the spread of famine, flood, disease, and conflict over increasingly scarce natural resources), according to Mr. Mjos, was the defining indicator in Mr. Gore’s selection. When coupled with the international attention and financial endowment (approx. $1.6 million US) that comes with a Peace Prize award, Mr. Mjos concluded that Mr. Gore and his cause of environmental security were the obvious choice in 2007. However, Mr. Mjos cautioned that the choice of Mr. Gore of the Nobel criteria set a wary precedent. While Mr. Gore’s cause met the stipulations when considering his attention to the possibilities of devastation if environmental sustainability was not acknowledged on the international stage, Mr. Mjos admitted that Mr. Gore, while innovative and renowned, failed to truly meet the image of the archetypal laureate set forth by Alfred Nobel. In other words, laureates who only meet certain interpretations of the criteria are appreciated less than those who fit the exact specificities of “fraternity”, “standing armies”, or “peace congresses”, for example. As such, Mr. Mjos stated that the committee was considering the possibility of adding another category to the Nobel Prizes, such as a Prize for Environmentalism, in order to acknowledge properly such potential laureates while maintaining the true vision of Alfred Nobel. Now, with that backdrop in mind, enter the choice of Mr. Obama. Much has been made of the fact that, in the early days of his presidency, Mr. Obama was nominated for the award. Why not wait until the end of his presidential tenure? In truth, the Peace Prize itself is not meant to be a “lifetime achievement” award; it is meant to highlight the figures in the past 12 months that have contributed the most to the promotion of world peace. This means that, as the choice of Mr. Gore indicates, the selection of a Nobel laureate can seem less merit based and more of a popularity contest (i.e. Mr. Gore can place his Nobel Prize alongside an Oscar for his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, for example). But as the exclusion of Gandhi indicates to members of the committee, time is of the essence and the committee must be cognisant of their place in history as much as any other aspect in the decision making process. That said, the largest difficulty with the decision isn’t the short period of time that it took for Mr. Obama to win. Indeed, his rhetoric has changed the dynamic of international discussions in the realm of nuclear disarmament and instigated a new forum of dialogue with the Muslim world (both of which are distinctly salient when contrasted with his predecessor). No, the problem with the decision of Thorbjorn Johansen and the rest of the committee lies in Alfred Nobel’s final criteria: that the award be used to elevate the cause of the laureate. If nothing else, Mr. Obama’s persona has become a lightning rod for anger and a stimulator of divisiveness in recent months and his Nobel Peace Prize did nothing to advance his many causes internationally; in fact, the effect was the exact opposite. While it is difficult to believe that any of the Nobel committee members could have foreseen the extent to which their choice would bring Mr. Obama’s administration negative attention, it was inevitable that the selection of Mr. Obama would be controversial. That said, it is rare that a Nobel Peace Prize is not controversial; that is one of the reasons why the shortlist is not made public. When placed in the context of past concerns of the Nobel committee, we can better understand the factors weighing on the decision process. But it should not be understated that past failures cannot be amended by a rushed decision.


Overwhelmingly, the view has been one of denouncement — either of the Prize itself or of the specific choice of Mr. Obama. There are a number of arguments for why Mr. Obama is undeserving of the honour, some of which will be discussed in this article. But what hasn’t been discussed, at least not to a large extent, is the evolution of the committee and the decision making process, which can be useful in contextualizing the choice of Mr. Obama.

22 Konekt

The Threat of a Nuclear Iran by Jason Wiseman

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As new nuclear facilities are discovered in Iran, accompanied with long-range missile testing, the Israeli-Iranian Cold War might turn hot sometime in the near future. This article will analyze the Iranian regime in an attempt to explain why it poses a serious threat to international peace and security. First and foremost it is crucial to separate the Iranian leadership and the Iranian regime from the Iranian people and public. Iranians around the world have shown incredible courage and solidarity in defying the repressive dictatorship that is the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is clear that the Iranian leadership does not truly speak for their people. The citizens of Iran continue to struggle daily in their attempts to bring down the corrupt theocracy they live under and free themselves from state repression. Many people inquire as to whether Iran truly poses a serious threat to international peace and security and, if so, then why. This is broken down into 3 categories. First, the nuclear threat. Second, Iran’s state sponsoring of terrorism. Third, state sanctioned incitement to genocide. Iran’s nuclear threat is often perceived to be just a threat against the State of Israel or, at the very most, only threatening to the Middle East. The truth is that Iran’s history of nuclear development, accompanied with its history of lies and deceit about the intentions and progress of its nuclear development pose a serious threat to international peace and stability. Iran has already set off an arms race in the Middle East which encompasses many different states in the region.

States that are currently believed to be pursuing nuclear powers include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Algeria. In addition to this, the Gulf States have been spending billions in ballistic missile defence systems. This is a result of a combination of challenges to regime status and fear from a nuclear Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has cynically placed its nuclear facilities deep underground in heavily fortified bunkers in densely populated civilian areas. This makes an air strike against Iran not only strategically difficult, but also politically dangerous. If the US or Israel were to strike Iranian nuclear facilities it would undoubtedly kill many innocent civilians in the process as a result of the Iranian regime deliberately and illegally putting its civilians near its nuclear facilities. This acts as a strong deterrent because it would allow the Iranian leadership to echo a rallying cry across the Muslim and Arab world to unite against the West and Israel in response to any US or Israeli air strike.

Increasingly troubling are the alliances Iran has made in the international community.

Its two closest friends are rogue states North Korea and Syria. Although North Korea was initially believed to be the ring leader in this axis, Iran is now believed to be leading the pack because of its missile fuel development. Both North Korea and Syria’s nuclear arsenals use liquid fuel for their weapons, while Iran is believed to be acquiring solid fuel. The difference between the two is that liquid fuel has a short shelf life, forcing each missile to be fuelled up close to its launch and be stored above ground. With solid fuel a missile can be stored for up to a year underground and launched immediately. Solid fuel also provides greater accuracy, longer range and is needed in order to hold nuclear warheads. Currently within Iranian missile range is the entire Middle East plus six European Union countries. What is most important to note in understanding the nature of this threat is that the regime is built on a Shi’ite fundamentalist ideology which is both extremely dangerous and unforgiving. This ideology subscribes to the belief that the path to heaven can be achieved in a nuclear apocalypse which will bring the return of the 12th Imam and the end of days. This is displayed every year in Iran’s Ashura ceremony which commemorates an ancient martyr in a ritual where people cause themselves to bleed out their foreheads by methodically beating or whipping their own bodies to show their commitment to martyrdom. What is important to take from this is that the Iranian leadership glorifies martyrdom and death while its enemies believe in the sanctity of life. Whether Iran’s nuclear arsenal would be used to destroy or extort, it is crucial to recognize that the Israeli-Iranian Cold War cannot be viewed in the same context and the US-Soviet Union Cold War. This is because the concept of mutually assured destruction will not be viewed as a deterrent by the Iranian leadership but rather as an incentive. During the entire existence of the Soviet Union there were never any Soviet suicide bombers, however Iran produces hordes of them. Simply put, Iran has shown that it is willing to put its ideology before its own survival, making its possession of nuclear weapons an unprecedented threat to international peace and security. The more imminent and ongoing threat posed by the Iranian regime is that it is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, providing material, financial and operational support to terrorist organizations operating from Afghanistan to Argentina. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Core (IRGC) has a sect called Al-Quds which deals with their proxy terrorist armies such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Muslim Brotherhood cells in Egypt and Jordan. Iran continues to spend billions of dollars on funding these terrorist organizations, resulting in the deterioration of the Iranian economy and the expansion of deadly weaponry for Iran’s proxy armies. Hamas bases itself in the Palestinian Territories while Hezbollah bases itself in Southern Lebanon. As of Sept 10, 2001 (a day before 9-11), Hezbollah had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group in history. Hamas on the other hand has launched more than 8000 rockets into Israel, all aimed at soft civilian targets. Both of these terrorist organizations are subsidiaries of the Iranian regime. Hezbollah and Hamas fighters were both trained by the Iranian army, on Iranian soil. Both groups use Iranian tactics, Iranian weapons, and their long range weapons are controlled by the Iranian army. The Iranian regime works tirelessly to increase the danger of terrorism, particularly nuclear terrorism, worldwide.


As tensions continue to rise in the Middle East many people are asking whether Iran will follow suit and abandon its nuclear program or continue to defy the international community.

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Konekt 25

When a dictator with the blood of tens of thousands of his countrymen on his hands talks “extinction” he must be taken seriously. And when UN diplomats rise to their feet and clap their hands at a call to genocide by a man with such impressive credentials, they must understand that their public display of support cannot be ameliorated by murmurings of ‘we don’t really mean it’ in private. As time continues to run out, the world is faced only with bad and worse options about how to deal with the Iranian regime. Collective action against Iran must be taken soon. A nuclear Iran would scuttle Middle East peace efforts, undermine moderate voices in the region, and place Israel under threat of annihilation. Iran’s nuclear program poses a direct threat to international security and is not safeguarded by the checks and balances of a democratic state. As its leaders continue to reap the benefits of having stolen an election in broad daylight, the Iranian people continue to suffer at the hands of this ruthless dictatorship. A nuclear-armed Iran would embolden human rights abusers and undermine Canadian efforts to promote universal human rights and dignity. The world must join together in stopping the Iranian nuclear program, saving the Iranian people and putting an end to this merciless regime once and for all.


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In regards to Iran’s incitement to genocide, this is an issue which must be taken very seriously because hateful speech is often followed by hateful actions. Iran is unequivocal in its rhetoric that it seeks the destruction of Israel, making Iran the only UN member-state ever to publicly declare that it is committed to the destruction of another UN member-state. Going beyond words, Iran has matched its rhetoric with actions clearly aimed at achieving this goal. Iran’s constant funnelling of arms to its proxy armies, its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons accompanied with its record of deception towards the West, clearly demonstrates that the Iranian regime must be taken seriously when it openly states that it wants to destroy the State of Israel. Perhaps most disturbingly is the UN’s impotent response to the genocidal and anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from President Ahmadinejad. Although some UN diplomats (including Canada’s) either boycotted or walked out of Ahmadinejad’s latest hate speech, he was met with a roaring applause by many other diplomats. No country, particularly one with as serious a security threat as Israel, could possibly ignore Ahmadinejad’s call for genocide. To ignore the threat this dictator poses to the world would be both irresponsible and suicidal. American columnist William Safire puts it best when he states:


28 Konekt

Revelations by Jeff Fraser

Konekt 29

“The universe is ending,” I said upon my arrival. “That’s a hell of a greeting,” he replied. “What happened to ‘Hello’?” Agat inhabited one of a few islands remaining in a sea of thermal equilibrium. His library was within the event horizon of a space-time singularity, strong enough to create a thousand-lightyear-wide antientropic pocket, in which atoms and molecules could still form. It was a modest habitat; in the sense that none of it was extended beyond the four physical dimensions and neither was there any exotics involved in its construction. Agat had once told me that his library was the size of a G-type star, though I was too young to have ever seen a star and I had no experience from which to draw a comparison. When I saw him these days, he chose to be an old, graying man, with lined jowls, liver spots, and a round belly. I did not know why. “It’s good to see you,” he said, slapping me on the back. “You’ve been away too long.” “I have,” I replied. It was always good to see Agat, despite his ugliness. Of my few friends, he was the one I most admired. Perhaps that was because he was the one I least understood. I was always unsure whether his intellect simply surpassed mine in capacity, or his age had brought him cognitive powers I hadn’t yet developed (by any reasonable metric of time, my age, raised to a two-digit power, was still only a fraction of his). We knew many, if not most, of the same things, but he had experienced much I knew only in concept, and harboured perspectives that never ceased to surprise me. Unlike many of my siblings, I found that this occasioned respect rather than envy. Agat was a scientist, in a very loose sense of the word. Many days he spent reading the texts of myriad extinct civilizations, slowly and methodically, though what he gained from them I have yet to discover. In his library he kept only his most prized selections. Some were made of various organic or silicon compounds, some were quantum-encoded and some used more developed forms of data storage; he arranged them by medium, from least to most advanced, so that one could traverse his shelves as if walking through the veins of technological progress, from books, to hardware computers, to soft data storage in imaginary matter. Of course, that is only figurative – one could not hope to walk the length of his vast, planet-sized vaults. Often, he would visit the histories his books described to better his understanding–the Great Division of the Andromedan Obrids, the Hysidian Circle, or the American Civil War. Occasionally, he would experiment with intelligent species of his own design, hoping to learn some new law of consciousness or chaos. The sight of Agat smug with some new finding was always a welcome one.

On that particular Sunday, however, it had not been Agat that had beckoned me. One of the old man’s idiosyncrasies was to demand visitors take the form he most preferred for himself; so I dressed in a physical body and translated into his home to make one final effort to entice him before we moved on. I might have known it would be a vain attempt, but something compelled me there all the same. “I don’t think so,” Agat said, as I had expected. “Once the branes separate completely, all the energymatter in the universe will dissipate,” I urged. “The vacuum interstices will separate. Space-time will fold upon itself; not even dark energy will survive.” “And I will be reduced to nothingness,” he said. “I will return to the oblivion from whence I came. Out like a light, ashes to ashes and all that poetry. In a word, I’ll be dead.” He smiled warmly. “Is that so improper?” It was true that many sentient beings before us had expired of their own volition. The concept of statistically diminishing returns – what Agat jokingly called ‘Pascal’s Bane’, though I never learned the reference – had been a universally accepted doctrine for aeons. No sane person wanted to exist for eternity--it gets boring. But Agat had lived the majority of the universe’s lifetime, trillions of his Earth years and though I had only been around for the final chapter, I had never seen him show signs of depletion. Agat was still, as he would say, “young at heart.” And I knew that if I had to go on without him, I would be leaving behind something I loved very dearly. “At least come and see the other side. Imagine how beautiful the birth of a new verse will be,” I said. I knew he could sense my excitement, so I stopped trying to conceal it. “We’ve found a verse developing at a triple intersection! Just try and imagine what the temporal experience there would be like. The new physical laws, even just moving from one point in space to another – ” “No,” he said, with no hint of a question. “Sorry to disappoint, my young friend, but this particular universe and I go a long way back. I’ve developed a bit of an attachment to her.” I had long ago learned the danger of asking Agat direct questions, but at that moment I could hardly help myself. “Why not?” I demanded. In my fleshy ears it sounded like the whine of a small child. Agat heaved a sigh. It was an interesting gesture, whose roots in human evolution I had never bothered to trace. But I knew that Agat’s every action was measured, every subtle movement driven by a reason, in spite of – or including – the frail appearance he chose. “Aeons ago,” he said, “I was human. Before the Collapse, before the extinction of physical beings, before the merging of galaxies, before humanity’s sun obliterated the planet Earth, before humans discovered immatter and learned to transcend their bodies, before they even fully understood the laws of physics or consciousness or that empathy was a


On a Sunday I went to see Agat to tell him that the universe was ending. He already knew, of course, but I had not spoken to him in some time and was unsure as to what he intended to do about it.

30 Konekt

chaotic mathematical quantity – I was a human. I was a train attendant, actually. I handed out biscuits and orange juice to old ladies.” I didn’t know what a train, a biscuit, or an orange juice was, but such confusion was part of the price I habitually paid if I expected answers from Agat. “I wasn’t a particularly special human being. I went to church, I paid my taxes, I raised my family and I lived my banal human life. One day, I met a man who gave me a letter with the secret to immortality. He didn’t say a word, I can’t recall his face and I have very little reason to remember him other than the letter he handed me before he walked off. I spent some time, a little later, trying to find him – but the universe is a big place and those who had heard anything about it seemed to think he was gone. Somewhere, or nowhere.” He paused a moment, and produced a smoking pipe from his pocket that was magically already filled with tobacco. It began smoldering of its own accord,and he set it against his rubbery lips, slowly inhaling a puff. In the silence, a hundred million electrons flitted in and out of existence in the air between us, though with my primitive human senses I couldn’t see them. I waited patiently. “The letter wasn’t just a step-by-step guide to leaving my biological body behind,” he said, upon exhaling. “Yes, it did contain the Kobyshev complex field matter equations that humanity wouldn’t discover until millennia later, and it also revealed the solution to the mind-body perception problem— and yes, it did explain the meditation states and surgeries I would need to achieve transcendence.” Another puff. “But the better part of the letter contained simple truths about my life, and the things I would learn in my life. “I didn’t see that when I first read the letter, of course – it was all gibberish then. But as the ages marched relentlessly, worlds died and species were born, that letter would be the guiding hand behind my greatest discoveries. It never revealed what I would learn, mind you. It was only suggestive. Selecting a few of the infinite pathways my life could take.” He thought, then, to offer me some of his leaf. I politely refused. “When I had matured into a truly unlimited consciousness, one of the first things I did was follow the most important of those suggestions: I attended a conference, held outside of space-time, in the dark place between the manifolds. A conference with myself. With many of my selves, in fact. I was the only one to attend.” He let out a single quivering guffaw at my raised eyebrow. “Every ten billion years,” he boomed, “I would attend the conference again, and speak again with my deciaeon-separated selves and would both remind myself of my previous perspectives and be refreshed and steered by them. There were always twenty-one selves at my conference and every time I attended, all the exact same words were spoken – that, of course, being because there was only one conference, at which the words were only once spoken. Yet I discovered new things every time I attended it. New perspectives on old

things, new eddies of information, novel patterns in the melee. But chiefly, I learned about myself. There is no better way to introspect than to have a real conversation with oneself.” Agat’s belly rolled with laughter, and he raised his arms in a gesture meant to illustrate grandeur. “My conference was a glorious and insightful congregation of my own vanity!” I smiled. “It’s an interesting thing to learn your future character before you experience it,” Agat continued, on a more pensive note. “I knew many billions of years ago what I would be like today – or rather, what I would be like 302 million years ago when I attended for the last time. It’s another interesting thing to know when you will stop attending the conference.” He went on before I could object to that last ominous sentence. “I can’t say I noticed it immediately,” he told me, “but there was a distinct separation between my early selves and my later selves. My earliest incarnations were garrulous and eager to share their new discoveries in much detail. On my first few attendances, I would often learn about my future discoveries in advance of making them. Those fresh ones would ask many questions and often they would be angered when my older selves withheld the answers. I remember one me, the seventh one to attend – a particularly bad eon for me, since one of my favourite apprentice races had just been wiped out in a supernova I hadn’t been able to stop – threw a tantrum and stormed out of the conference early.” He chuckled to himself and I found laughter coming out of my own chest, as I imagined a steaming young Agat cursing himself and his other selves as he stomped off back into the confines of spacetime. The youthful features that sprang into my mind oddly resembled my own. “The older my selves were, the more reserved they were, the less I learned from them. The oldest self to attend the conference – the one I was when I just attended – never spoke. At first I worried that I would become jaded and would hate my earlier enthusiasm; later I worried that I would simply run out of discoveries and have no answers to give. “But as I attended the conference again and again my self-esteem remained strong and I discovered more and more that I loved my earlier selves as one loves one’s children. I learned to withhold my knowledge from them, not because I did not want to share with them, but because I wanted to see them delight in the discoveries all the more when they made them.” He took a long breath from his pipe. He discovered, with visible surprise, that it was burnt out and tossed it high above his head. I watched it rise, in the light gravity, among bookshelves tall as skyscrapers. Eventually, it vanished from my sight. “You see, the question that pressed me most in those later years, that plagued me while I held it secret, was whether my endeavours would come of any use. As I wound down and as the universe wound down around me, I finalized my library, collected the last of what I considered the most important information in universal history – and realized that there was no one left to use it.” Agat nodded at me. “Yes, there’s you and

Konekt 31

He gave an incurious wave up at the volumes piled above us to a vanishing point. In this body, they made me feel very small. I had seen artificial nebulae, light-years across, fashioned into massive information databases, the quantum states of their hydrogen and helium constituents spelling out mathematical equations and the mysteries of philosophy. I had seen space-time vortexes composed solely for the purpose of enlightening the entrant. But nowhere else in my travels had I encountered such variety, such scope, such completeness. “We can take it with us,” I said. “What use would it be in a new verse?” he scoffed. “All the knowledge here pertains to this universe, this history. The new frontier you’re heading for – that’s a fresh start, in every sense of the term. Nothing will be the same, not even the physical constants. You wipe clean the slate of history.” He shook his head, and for the first time I sensed something behind his boundless enthusiasm. It looked like… exhaustion. “No, friend,” he went on, “what I’ve discovered is that, at the end of the day – and I think you will agree, this is the end of the day – knowledge for the sake of knowledge is quite worthless. There must be something to do with that knowledge, in order for it to be valuable. And what will my library be worth, if I leave the only reality it was ever meaningful to?” “But you can’t end your existence believing everything you’ve done has been meaningless!” I blurted, horrorstruck. “You haven’t wasted your life. This… this is an opus! Truly worth remembering.” My voice slipped on the last word. I scolded myself for using it. But he only guffawed, long and incredulously. “I haven’t wasted anything!” he exclaimed. “My life has been wonderfully worthwhile – it’s only my library that’s worthless!” And he broke out in renewed, contagious laughter. “But I understand what you thought I meant. It was something that struck me only recently, something that saved me from my doubts. Just before my ultimate appearance at my conference, I realized it and I saw it confirmed in the faces of my ancestors. I finally discovered why I had accumulated all this knowledge. The final mystery, solved. The last answer, and all the time, the most obvious.” The real reason I had come. “You see,” said Agat, “the value of the fruits of your labour, and the value of the labour itself are two quite independent quantities.” He waved one more time, expansively, at his library, and then he smiled at me. “I didn’t do all this for the sake of the knowledge, as I once thought. I did it because I loved the doing.” That left me silent a while. “That’s it?” I asked. “That’s it.”

After Agat’s lifelong industry, the accumulation of all the knowledge towering around me, this was his parting message? Not an equation, not a unifying theory, not a grand masterpiece, but the simple moral that none of these mattered? It wasn’t the answer I was looking for. It wasn’t an answer at all, really; just another eccentricity, laid on the table for my purveyance. All my relations with Agat had built up to this, the single most important notion he expected to trawl from existence – and I could only stare blankly at him, as if he had uttered something in an alien language. Had I understood him? It was a question the others would not have asked themselves a second time. Or a third, or a fourth. Or twenty-one times. Or the many millions of times I would ask myself the same question. To my friends, Agat was a chaotic quantity – something that didn’t make sense because it wasn’t made to. I had always seen something greater, a pattern in the melee, a synthesis, though I could never explain it. In those last moments with him, and for a long time afterward, I would worry that I had been wrong. Later – a very long stretch of time later, after Agat was gone and I had watched a whole new verse grow to maturity, my time in that dead one only a fuzzy recollection – I would realize that on that day, in the great library, I had not even heard what he’d said. Most of what Agat had told me in my short time with him, I had not understood. Nor had he meant for me to. Then, I was just another presence at Agat’s conference, too eager for truth to see that the greatest lessons come from the silences in between. My life, like Agat’s, has never been about answers. It has been about perspectives; and perspectives, unlike facts and figures, are not something that can simply be shared, no matter how powerful the minds that attempt to transmit them. Perhaps my experience will take me to the same conclusion as Agat. Perhaps not. Regardless, that was what made Agat wiser than I was: his journey lay behind him. We chatted for some hours more, but it was idle. It was the kind of conversation Agat gives when he believes the most significant lesson has been imparted, whether or not it has been received. At the end, I made ready to leave. I opened a wormhole back to one of the immatter cities, where my friends were waiting to depart for the new verse. Through the twisting quantum tunnel, with senses far removed from the primitive human optics I wore as eyes, I could see crystal towers glittering with virtual light. Air molecules, unlucky enough to drift into the opening, sparkled like fireflies as they gave up all thermal energy and fell apart into their constituents. My body would, of course, do the same when I stepped through, as would Agat’s library, eventually, when the singularity ran itself dead. Only a few eons hence, the entire universe would be cold, silent and empty – what they had once called heat death. Then, ultimately, the topological structure that formed the foundation of the universe would collapse out from under it, and not even spacetime would be left. I turned back to Agat – a fragile, simple old man, with eternity at his back and a victorious laugh in his belly. “Will you … leave … now?” I asked him, with unexpected difficulty. “Not quite yet,” he replied. “I have some unfinished business before the end. Nothing too important – just a letter to deliver.”


the others. But soon you’ll be gone too. And do you plan to be catching up in the meantime?”

The Lost Self by Kevin Shabahan

Konekt 33

I looked around the room and scrutinized my surroundings with the hope of regaining some lost facts pertaining to myself – all in vain. Above my head, the ceiling fan was decorated with silver blades that spun lazily, reflecting the light from my bedside window, growing lustrous by the newly born sun that was only starting to rise to its throne. I had no purpose–for how can one secure a purpose without a vague idea of even his own name? I was nothing more than an observer amidst a series of inanimate objects which only further obscured my state. Thus I continued to examine my surroundings, looking for a sign to point me in the direction of my lost identity. The computer desk to my right suddenly endowed me a with surge of hope; I was overwhelmed by the possibility of a sudden flood of information, almost to the point of inertia on my own behalf. It was as though a challenge had been set for me –overwhelming, but exciting at the same time. A dichotomy dwelled within me– on the one hand, a satisfaction by the comforts of stability and repelled by any sort of spontaneous disarray of the routine, while on the other hand, an inclination towards adventure and a longing for any sort of deviation from the ordinary. I rushed to my computer, nearly tripping over the footrest placed beside the bed. I sat down and turned on the computer, vaguely noticing the strong leather scent dispersing from the chair. I examined the desk while waiting with much anticipation for the computer to load and noticed an orange coffee mug with a question mark on the far left of the desk. Surrounding the keyboard was a set of silver coloured speakers a cup with a single pencil inside. The room and the desk were oddly plain. Looking around I saw only the bed in which I awoke, a foot-rest by the bed which was now knocked over to its side, a black closet which remained fully closed and the white desk on which the computer was situated. The room was a cube, with walls as white as my blank memory. When the computer finally loaded I was almost reluctant to proceed with my former pursuits and the monitor was still turned off. I began to wonder about the things I was about to indulge in, what kinds of peculiar facts was I about to attain about myself and the power which radiated from the sets of information about to enlighten me about who I was, and perhaps even more importantly, of what my future tasks should be. I began to contemplate. ‘If I was given clear knowledge about myself, would

I lose the freedom which I now had? Will I be locked inside of some never-changing life which will fetter me down to a single road from which any digressions would be prohibited by the authority of my identity? As of now I am nothing but an existing being. I am free from a name, a purpose and all the constraints which come with these; turning on the monitor would inevitably thrust me into a certain kind of life—a reality in which I would propel forward without my own choosing – but now I have absolute freedom and lack any factuality. Of course there are inherited genetic determinants that will partially limit my freedom, but I feel as though I have the power to give myself any name, any profession and any identity that seems desirable. Alas, I’m yet impeded furthermore by societal constraints and am still bound to conform to structural determinants set forth by the environment in which I’m in.’ As much as the thought of being able start a new life seemed pleasing, my rational mind would not allow me to conceive the idea in any way. At last I had gained enough courage to reach for the power button on the monitor. I was reluctant and my left hand was shaking as I reached for the button which was soon going to reveal to me the crucial facts about my identity. I was about to discover, my interests, profession, the people I knew and all the other bits of information which swarm the millions of personal computers belonging to an innumerable multitude of individuals around the globe. I finally turned the monitor on and saw a screen which disappointed me greatly and gave me a relieving sense of comfort all at once. It was disappointing to say the least, as I was preparing myself for a drastic change—but comforting in the sense that I realized this change wasn’t nearly as extreme as I had envisioned it to be. I was greeted by a password screen with two slots, one being the user-name and the other being the password box; of the latter I was fully ignorant while the former gave me nothing but a name: Oliver. Out of all the names that exist I was now bound to a single one. How was I to be certain that the house in which I was in belonged to me? Was this even my computer? Doubt was fuelling my thoughts and I began to ponder furthermore about my situation and all the uncertainty which pervaded it. I began to felt aggravated and anxiety took hold of every muscle almost to the point of convulsions – I was tempted to scream but suppressed the urge. At that point I caught a glimpse of my obscure reflection appearing on the computer screen which made my facial structure vaguely visible. My reflection was being interrupted by what seemed to be a ball moving around the screen, accompanied by the same question mark as I noticed earlier on the coffee mug. Why had I not thought of this before? I ran over to the closet and opened the door in search of an actual mirror, but to no avail. In the closet hung different items which varied by size, colour and make, but the examination of the closet deemed to have little significance in comparison with the amount of knowledge the acquisition of a mirror would bring about. I ran out of the room and into


I was dragged out of a dream by the shrill buzzing of my alarm clock this morning, when I realized that I had lost all sense of self. It was rather disconcerting at first left me in a state of shock for quite some – my bewilderment extinguished within me, all sense of panic. I looked around and found a distinct familiarity with the room in which I awoke, accompanied by a clear knowledge of the purpose of each object. Missing was any memory relative to my identity—no thoughts attached to my very self; I had no name, no face, no reminiscence of my past. I was a tabula rasa. The word “I” had lost meaning and merely useful for the sake of confirming my mere existence.


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Konekt 35

My face was unrecogniable, like everything else that was supposedly true about me. I had implanted myself in front of a mirror in which reflect a being wholly alien to me– he appeared human but the word human had at that time, little meaning. I continued to analyze the image projected onto the mirror and noticed first the eyes which held little expression, except a sense of marvel, illuminating from the greyness of the iris and the mildly dilated pupils. The curly orange hair stood prominent upon the pale face, only adding to the unfamiliarity of it all. It was at that time when I began to look at this image in a very peculiar manner which differed greatly from the typical manner in which most people view other humans or themselves, as humans, for I was examining this character with an obliterated sense of what a human was. This reflection was not at all human to me because all humanly notions had essentially been expunged from my mind and thus all I observed was merely a living being – a being which happened to represent me. I would like to make clear the fact that I hadn’t forgotten what a human being was, but rather, I was no longer familiar with my humanity and had been granted with the ability to look upon myself not as though examining another human being just like myself, but as if I was merely just an existing being, looking upon another being, which was labelled linguistically as “Human”. In a sense it could be inferred that I was simultaneously viewing myself from a third-person perspective with an absurd sense of unfamiliarity and also pondering and contemplating my existence as the being that I was viewing – I simultaneously played the role of an observed object and the observer, as the strangeness of my reflection at that time, the utter abnormality of that which I was viewing, retained no value to me but that of an observable object fully separate from my inner thoughts. Suddenly I heard a ringing noise and deemed it to be the telephone. There was one just outside of the bathroom, hanging prominently on the wall beside the light switch. I picked it up and answered. “Hello” I said nervously into the phone. “Hi, Oliver?” replied my interlocutor on the other side. It was the voice of a female, oddly familiar–it was Mandy!

I suddenly fell onto the ground and began to have convulsions which made it seem as though electric shocks were running through my every nerve cell. With the shock rushed into me a surge of memories which rapidly filled the missing knowledge regarding my identity. Every sort of information I was to know of myself entered into my mind as if the blank slate which was formerly my mind was being painted with an artist whose art determined all my factuality. I woke up with an intolerable headache and sudden pangs to my heart. I had a dried up stream of blood running from my nose and had a hard time regaining my balance as I stood up. I was no longer a blank slate –nothing about my identity was any longer uncertain to me – a sense of wonder mixed with a sense of comfort followed by the melancholy state one gets when returning to one’s home from an adventurous trip got a hold of me. I was back to the world of familiarities. I began to ponder once again and had an interesting realization. I was now a man of identity and knew all it was that pertaining my name, but yet at the same time I was no different from the man who had hours before, absolutely no knowledge about himself. You see, I was overcome by the fear that the facts which relate to me would imprison me into a life of utter restraint but now had realized that really, my future was all in my choosing. It could be said that my past had been imprinted in me, perhaps often lacking my voluntary inclination, but the canvas remained yet incomplete and the artist who was responsible now, for completing it was no one aside from myself.


the living room, noticing a door on the far left side, which seemed to lead to the bathroom. At this point I was calmer and began taking gentle strides towards the door, examining my surroundings on the way over. The living room had an overall modern look. There was a moderately large TV fixed onto a black wooden television stand on top of which were books, a vase, newspapers and other things which didn’t quite capture my attention – although they would all be worth a look after I was done examining myself in front of a mirror. The floor was a light green carpet and there was a white couch facing the TV – again I wasn’t at all tempted to stop because my mind was now fixed on viewing myself in front of the mirror which had to be in the washroom...





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Konekt 37

by Paul Tye Two young men have set out on a journey. To call this an odyssey would be hyperbolic. Rather, this journey is less of an Opus and more of a prologue. I have been asked to join them and assist them. As an unworthy apostle, I have been amazed. When Nathaniel Fried and Ryan LePlante told me they were producing three of Shakespeare’s most famous works, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III and The Merchant of Venice, entirely with students, in one school year, and to top it all off will be footing the bill, I told them they were crazy. Well, to be entirely true to chronology I finished my gin, ordered another, stared at them for a few seconds and told them they were crazy. Their journey is unique in content but not in nature. Rather, it is a classic story of university students, emboldened with energy and not jaded by experience, setting out to do something new. Starting Canada’s first-ever fully student-run Shakespeare repertory company falls perfectly into this category. Nat and Ryan, both fourth year drama students at Queen’s, are two of the most talented performers I have ever met. I had the pleasure of working with Nat on a production of Hamlet just three short years ago. I met Ryan through Nat and was blown away by his near expert grasp of the writings of English’s most revered and celebrated writer. Nat comes from theatre people and has been exposed to the art, both here and in England, since his childhood. Ryan attacks the stage with a ferocious perfection. Shakespeare is as close to a scared cow as our literary culture possesses. From grade school onwards we are exposed to his work and told, with little room for debate, that its greatness is self-evident. For many of us this meant fearing the playwright. However, these two men have no fear, and dive whole-heartedly into keeping his work living and relevant. Trying to explain the amount of work involved with this type of undertaking is akin to trying to unravel a carpet with a nail clipper. Every word, every suggestion, every movement must be interpreted and is laced with a half millennium of tradition and scholarly interpretation. This is where the directing process comes in and where men like Fried and LePlante hit their stride. Great directors avoid words like vision. Rather, they have to understand the stage with pragmatic realism. Each character is played by a person, each person has lived a life, and each life is filled with experiences that are

beautiful, painful and unique. It is this person who performs the character and not the other way around. Watching Nat bring this out of actors was amazingly emotional and rewarding. What this technique develops is not only a cast that better understands their roles, but also actors who better understand themselves. This is the foundation for the monolithic task that is a Shakespearean acting. My role is simple. I manage the house; keep the bank account in order and keep enough sanitizer around to avoid a mini H1N1 pandemic amongst the cast. Despite this small roll I feel part of something greater than the sum of its parts. As I reflect on this feeling I realize much of student engagement is like this. From a low budget theatre production, to charity drives to dance recitals there is so much that happens in University towns because of the immense amount of energy and talent students bring to their passions. When I look at it this way my job no longer seems small, or insignificant, but rather precise and critical; like part of a fine timepiece. Over my past four plus years as a student I have always been amazed by the amount of talent and drive that constantly surrounds me. I have witnessed many similar journeys and felt privileged to see each one. I see so much of the future of communities, countries and our world working together, debating, acting, dancing and breaking through boundaries to influence reality. I cannot count the number of times I have said to myself, “remember that name, because you are going to hear it a lot in life.” Nathaniel and Ryan are just two of the many people who fall into this category. This realization reminds one of the importance of building relationships and being good. When we open our minds we experience new things every minute. When we open up our minds to new people we find authentic human experience. Each of these people will stay with us, good or bad, forever. I have learned the value of keeping as many in the column as I can. Shakespeare said, “What is past is prologue.” I mourn the reality that my past continues to grow while my future continues to shrink. This is true for all of us. Although time controls us we are in control of what we do while the sand changes sides of the vial. When I reflect on his words I do not think the playwright was saying that we cannot change our past, therefore we should forget it. Rather, I think he was speaking about the present and encouraging humanity to ensure each of our individual preambles are as storied, as fulfilled and ultimately as beautiful and we can make them. Whatever your postsecondary raison d’etre, live it to the fullest. These are our prologue days.


Our Prologue Days

38 Konekt

Mumblecore: The New Millennium’s No Budget Filmmaker by Andrew Smyth

Mumblewhat? Mumblecore.

Mum-ble-core [muhm-buhl-kohr] A North American micro-

budget film movement that emerged in the early 2000s

Konekt 39

The root of Mumblecore’s appeal is in its total detachment from economic commitment. Even low budget independents, working with at most a few million dollars must answer to profit-driven financial backers. With hyper-low budget pieces made for a few thousand dollars, financial pressures are smaller, expectations lower, and filmmakers given total creative control, often writing, directing and editing their own work. Furthermore, these films demonstrate a wider trend among this generation’s youth, that is, a hunger for all things self-reflexive. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and hours upon hours of MTV reality television all point to

young people’s desire to step back and examine themselves. Filmmakers producing autobiographical works, aside from facing criticisms of indulgence and vanity, are given the opportunity to revisit past ideas and experiences through an altered, and perhaps idealized, lens. A viewing of a Mumblecore film can be an invigorating, inspiring experience and often yields the response ,“Hey, I can do that.” The rough, gritty nature of these works gives off the impression that anyone with a camera can crank out a feature film. Au contraire. The lengthy, truly exhausting process of filmmaking must be noted. With a modest 63 minute running time, Dance Party’s, USA’s post production still took well over a year, as numerous rough cuts were sent cross country between editor and director. The Death of Indie Rock took longer still, with editor Marc Griffin saying, “I literally put in five years of evenings and weekends to get The Death of Indie Rock made, and it was worth every penny and every hour of lost sleep.” While the internet makes distribution (both legal and illegal) extremely simple, the relatively small audience of these films means theatre viewings are tough to find. Kingston’s Screening Room is well known for showing obscure films mainstream theatres won’t touch. Toronto’s Bloor Street Cinema also screens an array of lesser known works. Recently the Generation DIY (that’s hipster for “Do It Yourself”) film festival in Toronto showcased a number of Mumblecore films, including the Death of Indie Rock. Similar showcases have been held in cities across the United States and in Europe. Aspiring filmmakers looking to churn out their debut, semiautobiographical feature may have missed out. As the movement gains popularity, many filmmakers associated with Mumblecore have distanced themselves from the term. The very idea of grouping films supposedly free of constraints into a genre is by some counts contradictory. Additionally, the genre’s appeal could be in its obscurity. Take away a film genre from a bunch of indie buffs, thrust it into the mainstream, and what happens? Over saturation could make the movement irrelevant. While less than a decade old, Mumblecore has had a small but undeniable impact on film in North America. By situating itself in contrast to big budget works, these films have created, at least for now, an interesting and important opposition to the mainstream While there will always be a place for summer popcorn flicks, the continued interest in films from outside the Hollywood bubble spells good news for indie filmmakers.


The advent of inexpensive digital video has put motion picture technology squarely in the hands of all who seek it. While overzealous family vacationers may have to wait to see their work on the big screen, groups of aspiring filmmakers with the desire, ambition, and a bit of knowhow have carved a small, but significant niche for themselves in the North American film industry. Mumblecore is characterized by its barebones production budget, naturalistic dialogue and use of non-professional actors. This all works to give the film a look of genuine authenticity that is impossible with larger budget projects. The so called Mumblecore movement began with Andrew Bujalski’s wonderfully quirky Funny Haha (2002). Over the next few years a handful of similar films were released, leading Bujalski’s sound editor to coin the term in 2005 at the SXSW Film Festival. While giving off a rough, unpolished look, these films still carry with them an undeniable beauty. None are better to demonstrate than Aaron Katz’s subtly crafted Dance Party, USA (2006) and Quiet City (2007). Katz, a recent film school graduate from Portland, Oregon delves deep into the inner workings of youth so successfully that his films can be viewed more as a retrospective documentary than a fictional narrative. Dance Party follows a group of semi-articulate teenagers around a 4th of July Party. Quiet City details two strangers’ weekend encounter in Brooklyn. Both use long takes, tight shots and careful pacing to make films that are firmly grounded in the irreverent, yet still compelling. While still at student at Queen’s, film student Rob Fitl set out to write and direct his own feature. Five years later, The Death Of Indie Rock (2008) premiered at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. Shot primarily in Kingston, the completed film represents countless hours of work by an extremely passionate crew of volunteer filmmakers. Like most micro-budget works, and especially for audiences used to Hollywood fare, it takes a moment to adjust to the film’s rough aesthetics. Once the viewer settles in, the experience is rewarding. Many well-known Kingston haunts fill in for locations in Belleville and Montreal with inspired directing, skillfully editing and a powerful soundtrack bring the piece to life.

Konekt 41

by Kate Kilgour and Ally Hall

Canoes and snowshoes. Hockey and poutine. Ski chalets and camp cabins. Whatever your Canada is, views of our nation are undeniably illustrated in a rural and rustic environment. Neighbours to the South and friends overseas satire Canada with anything that includes plaid ensembles, maple leaves or bushy beards. Television shows How I Met Your Mother and South Park are no strangers to these preconceived ideas surrounding stereotypical Canadian characteristics. Though we cannot deny the legitimacy of some of their claims, one creditable venture we can boast is how these nature-focused themes have inspired musicians to embrace their roots and their nationalism.

Avril Lavigne and Nickleback have been the Canadian musical big-shots for long enough. Kingston has been privy to some extraordinarily talented acts, and these bands are the first to recognize the beauty and support our country has to offer. We have compiled a selection of artists whose names emanate Canadian pride, with their subtle invocations to wilderness creatures and geographical embedded ness. Whether its intentional or inherently engrained in the artists’ psyches, the natural world plays heavily to the tune of O Canada – from caribou to Alberta.

Fourteen reasons you should look beyond

MSTRKRFT, Feist and Alexisonfire:


Eh Musical Compilation

42 Konekt

6 8 7 2 13 1

4 5 12 10

14 9 11

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wooded canopy with echoing gospel, and a gruff-voiced leader to guide you through the narrative of each song. Peaceful and trance-like, their heavenly grooves will conjure up images of serene lakes and misty mornings. Jennifer Mecija’s voice and lyrics on ‘Winter Moon’ could be the perfect tune for January strolls and post-holiday un-windings. , Vancouver, British Columbia. Hailing from a Canadian small town, experimental DJ Dan Snaith turned to music at a young age as a creative outlet. Layered synth melodies, hip-hop and spiritual sound overlap to create a niche genre within each album. Perfect for evenings at the cottage or swaying through meadows at field parties. Toronto, Ontario. At first glance, their name might seem oxymoronic, and that’s exactly where their music will project you. Forest City Lovers’ sound would be equally fitting in a rainy suburban apartment or sipping warm beverages on a rocky beach. Barrie, Ontario. For the transitional Canadian climate when slush overtakes snow. Folk rockers Fox Jaws provide a dark, brooding and melancholic tone to the mix. Layered and climbing string and guitar combinations contribute to their take on a new wave representation of Canadian rock. , Toronto, Ontario. CBC sweethearts Great Lake Swimmers are making waves in the Canadian indie folk scene and beyond. Their music blissfully floats between quiet ambient melodies and uplifting choruses enhanced by vocalist Tony Dekker’s stylings. They’re the perfect addition to taking the scenic route on your drive back to the daily grind while reminiscing about weekends past. , Montreal, Quebec. Picture yourself curled up around a campfire surrounded by your closest friends and their accompanying instruments. With tunes that sound unplanned, Plants and Animals could very well be the product of a surprisingly coordinated jam session. They strum and hum to create a soundtrack calling to times of crackling wood and summer romance. , Toronto, Ontario. Their name rings true as the band finds inspiration from the advantages of growing up in rural Alberta but listeners can gain appreciation no matter their current location. Emphasis on lyrics and a vocal base to each track, the band could be on your playlist for occasions ranging from bike treks through the mountains to clinking pint glasses at a local Maritime pub. , Vancouver, British Columbia. Just as Karen O and the Kids did for Where the Wild Things Are, Said the Whale could provide the soundtrack for a modern day film adaptation of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. Dubbing themselves as “nautical indie-rock goodness,” the group has a danceable radio-friendly track in “Camilo (Magician).” But never fear, the album has enough variation to avoid becoming the next band featured on the latest W.B. teen soap. , Toronto, Ontario. Like the first bud peeking through a snow swept field, Snowblink envelops listeners in subtle whimsical melodies. After experiencing Daniela Gesundheit’s eerily soothing ballads you may get a sense of her intense connection to the natural world. Surprising additions weave their way into her tracks with whistling, unexpected melodies and sounds echoing a fairy tale. , Toronto, Ontario. Their name stemming from an agriculturally rich region of Ontario, the Sunparlour Players evoke imagery of rolling plains and swaying wheat. Powerful vocals and obvious blue grass leanings help define their sound. The accumulative affect of the songs may make your walls feel suddenly constrictive, and the outdoors surprisingly alluring. , Toronto, Ontario. A band appealing to the non-folk fans out there, Whale Tooth favors pop-ska infused instrumental and vocal combinations. Playful banter between male and female vocalists creates balance in the 5-piece group. With their single “Hibernation Song” featured on a recent episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, keep a lookout for their potential to skyrocket into a nation-wide phenomenon just like the aforementioned series. , Toronto, Ontario. With a name that implies an organic and nature-centric approach to creating music, the electronically beast-like, heart-stopping tunes of Woodhands might be slightly surprising. Their unique amalgamation of a strong drum beat and dirty synth electro is eargasm-inducing. With the self-proclaimed goal to create “emotional, sweaty dance floors”, we dare you not to bust a move after taking a listen.

3. Canadian Wildlife.

4. Caribou

5. Forest

City Lovers,

6. Fox Jaws,

7. Great Lake Swimmers

8. Plants and Animals

9. Rural Alberta Advantage

10. Said The Whale

11. Snowblink

12. Sunparlour Players

13. Whale Tooth

14. Woodhands


1. The Acorn, Ottawa, Ontario. A band that combines whimsical vocals with folk-based strumming. The Acorn surprises us with electronic and experimental tinges in certain tracks, and their music will take you from afternoon wanderings to after-party foot stomping. 2. Bruce Peninsula, Toronto, Ontario. A plethora of musicians contribute to this band’s ethereal, yet powerful vibe. Picture yourself under a

44 Konekt

An Interview with E-603 The Rise of RemixCulture and the Power of “Word of Blog”

by Joanna Adams

One artist in particular, Ethan Ward, or E-603, as he’s known to his fans, has a few ideas as to how this textured sampling of music has become the voice of the Facebook generation. Ward, a New Hampshirebased mash-up artist and former Hampshire College student draws influence from Girl Talk, but certainly isn’t a copycat. Not to be confused with the dearly departed character on the rebooted 90210 who bears the same name, Ward has been heating up the music scene, touring with acts like Yo La Tengo, The Cool Kids and Passion Pit across the United States and Canada. Since his debut album “Something for Everyone” dropped in the summer of 2008, his MySpace page has received more than 650 000 hits, and his 2009 sophomore effort “Torn Up” has been receiving a heap of airplay and buzz across North American University and College campuses and beyond. JA: You’re from New Hampshire, and your name is homage to your area code, right? E-603: Yes it is! Way back in High School, I needed a name to perform under at short notice. My friends and I were trying to think of something, and I wanted it to be cryptic and kind of neat at the same time, so we came up with E-603.

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In the month of October, the Toronto-Dominion Bank challenged Canadian University and College students to “Pump It Up.” By measuring the highest proportional response of “cheers” by students through various avenues of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, the winning school would receive a free concert headlined by Girl Talk. Unsurprisingly, Kingston’s two Universities, Queen’s and RMC, were the frontrunners to win the free concert due to overwhelming student interest. Queen’s emerged victorious, fuelled by an appreciation for this extremely popular artist and former chemical engineer, renowned for combining over 300 existing songs into creating an effortless electro-dance, new and dynamic Top 40 sound, or, simply, a Mash-Up. Pop culture and music sustains itself by constantly evolving, and Mash Ups and Remixes are the new frontier. Be it through a lyrical hook, a killer bass line or nostalgic irony, MashUps use culture jamming to transform mass media while making a self-referential commentary on itself through the creation of fresh beats. This type of media has a history of popularity within the Kingston community. “Rip: A Remix Manifesto,” a documentary by Canadian Brett Gaylor was an awarded Audience Favourite at March’s Kingston Canadian Film Festival. “Rip” follows the Girl Talk phenomena by arguing in support to free music from copyrights, enabling creativity and freshness in new media, notably by suggesting culture always builds on the past. Through “word of blog” and the internet, this type of music has been popularized in a way that feels personal to the listener, like their own little secret that major labels and corporations are finally starting to unravel. After all, even when mobilized by one of Canada’s Big Five banks, students transcended their cyber selves to win a momentous event.

JA: What is your musical background? What are you studying? E-603: I was studying Film and Media Production, but I’m taking a year off for a “musical hiatus.” When I was 12, I dedicated a room in my house to recording music I was producing at the time. I started studying classical composition, and from there I started making electronic music with vocal samples, from Top 40 hits. Then, I moved to only samples, and that’s where I am right now. JA: What was your first performance as E-603 like? E-603: It was at this kid’s house who I met in a Film Program outside of Boston in Newton, Massachusetts! I was playing the background track out of a computer while aggressively sampling these popped-up vocals on an MPC. Later, on certain songs, I would play the Little Tykes Xylophone. JA: When did you first start composing and combining music? What were you inspired by? E-603: I always took inspiration from music my brother downloaded. At one point, it was noisy and experimental, kind of Sonic Youth-ish. One day, I listened to a Kid Sister song that A-Track produced, and I thought that’s what it’s all about. Later, I started composing more electronic beats-based music, hip hop-ish but also electronic dance at the same time, composing with the lyrics I chopped up and sampled. JA: What are you looking for when you select sample and are creating music – are you looking for a lyrical hook, a killer baseline, or nostalgic irony? E-603: It’s definitely a combination – it’s something the audience can grasp on to and recognize and hopefully, if you can also get some sort of nostalgia out of it, that’s ideal. Sometimes, you look for the most well-known verses in hip hop or pop music that people are going to recognize, but sometimes, you look for more of a rhythm in the lyrics that will make the whole thing work. Certain verses of rap songs would never work over a sample – but you really want the verse to compliment the music that is underneath it and work as a whole.

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JA: That process is visible on your song “If You Wanna,” [track five of “Torn Up”] when you use a recognizable sample, Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” in a very unusual way, but it makes the song work! E-603: Right! There are about 30 other songs that I tried sampling over A Thousand Miles, but “Ante Up” by M.O.P. is what I ended up using, and it complimented the Vanessa Carlton song underneath it perfectly. That’s what it’s all about; Finding a recognizable rap song that had been around for a while, and complimenting the music underneath with it. JA: How did your first album, “Something for Everyone” come to be? How did you decide that you wanted to create an album, and what was the self-distribution process like? E-603: Two years ago, my friend asked me; “Ethan,


why don’t you make an album with your time off from school?” I thought I would make it simple, but I ended up spending 13 hours of every day in January sampling because there’s nothing better to do when you’re snowed in while in New Hampshire. When I released it, I had so many more listeners than I ever expected, as there was only one place where fans could download it from. After, I ended up getting a domain and it kind of made me more official. It was shocking! JA: You’ve been on tour with Yo La Tengo and Passion Pit. How did you spread the E-603 word? E-603: This type of music is popularized by the internet and the modern music industry world. It was word of mouth, but at the same time, it was kind of word of blog, I guess. One blog writes something, and then another person sees it, and they write about it, and they’re like “this seems cool” and it keeps going. I don`t know if I coined that term, “word of blog,” but I should keep using it! That’s how people hear about me – I mean; I know I’m always looking around the internet, scowering for what’s going on. JA: What do you think makes this type of culture jamming so popular amongst students and young people? E-603: Some say it’s because we’re so used to constantly changing things and that we’re such multitaskers, that we need music to be all over the place to capture our attention – but I think it’s more about where society is at, which is all about this heightened sense of Nostalgia these days – I mean, how many kids do you know who are into Pete & Pete (a Nickelodeon TV show from the early–mid 90’s) which is such a 90’s show? I have so many friends who ordered the DVD’s and say “we’re watching Pete & Pete these days” or “we’re watching the Muppet Show.” I don’t think earlier generations reached back like we do. In the 90’s, the 70’s were back, and we all wore Bell-Bottomed jeans again, man, I remember that. Every generation does it, but our generation has taken it to another level. People tend to like this fun music that grabs your attention because it’s so familiar in an unfamiliar way. JA: How do you feel about other artists in the Mash-Up genre? E-603: They’re cool, I guess. I never expected to be part of the movement; I was always into sample-based music like Prodigy and the Wise Guyz growing up. Now there’s a new label on it called “Mash-Up.” I think some artists are jumping feet first into becoming a “Mash-Up artist” without analyzing what the songs mean. But, there are other artists that do it well. People ask me all the time “what Mash-Up artists do you listen to?” and I don’t really listen to any, maybe because I’ve had too much of it myself, but people have been coming up with such great stuff! JA: In your song “The Right Kind,” track 4 of “Torn Up,” you not only sample my favourite song from one of my favourite albums, the original Beverly Hills 90210

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Soundtrack, “The Right Kind of Love” by Jeremy Jordan, but you also use it’s moniker in the title. Does it carry any special memories for you? What are you looking for when you title a track? E-603: Great question! The last thing you do when you make an album is title a track. I look for the “feeling of the song” and the mood, and that song has a glossy 90’s feel to it with the TLC sample, it’s just about hang out, summertime fun music. I loved the idea of calling it “The Right Kind” because it says that the song is the right kind of song, and it’s self-aware. JA: Are there any favourite segments of music you cast aside to wait for a big moment because it doesn’t fit or you’re searching for something to match it with? E-603: Yeah, I think some samples carry more weight than others. You can’t put a beat behind anything –there are samples like “Torn” [Natalie Imbruglia – Torn] which I put with M.I.A., a 90’s anthem, and I knew I wanted it to be an album staple. I definitely hang on to certain samples and try my hardest make it work because of what they meant to society at one point. JA: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen while performing? E-603: Once, a girl managed to swing herself around me and got a Piggy Back for two minutes while I was playing. People were trying to tear her off of my back, but she wasn’t exactly giving up easily. I was into it, and I’ve been sexually harassed before, getting my ass grabbed, but nobody’s ever jumped on my back before! When I opened for The Cool Kids at the University of Iowa, a brawl broke out! Another time, a kid fell out of a window... JA: Wow! E-603: It wasn’t a big deal. He was okay; it was only the first floor! JA: Is there any sample that you’re most proud of, maybe the most unexpected or the best mix of different music? E-603: I was excited and proud about using “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz and also using a Kid Rock sample and Lil Jon sample with it. But “Lights Out” has the first epic moment of the album; when I take “Bobby Dazzler” a classic by First Class which has that retro surfer-sound and I put it with “Head Bustas,” literally spelt “bustas,” with Lil Scrappy and Lil Jon. Then, I took “La La” from the Carter III [Lil Wayne], and used these Xylophone hits with the Baby voice I sampled right beforehand. What a lot of people don’t notice is that I cut the Xylophone notes to ride with the melody of the “Bobby Dazzler” song, so if you listen carefully when the whole thing comes in, you can hear the baby saying “La la la la la” but I changed the pitch in them to match, making the part as a whole more full. It’s not noticeable to the casual listener, but I’m sure my hardcore fans really appreciated it. That’s also an example on how much more time I spent on the album than people would have thought. That stuff takes hours, you know.


JA: It also takes a lot of producing, isolating, and technical stuff to get the beauty of the song as an independent entity. E-603: Exactly! Sometimes people don’t understand the textures of what they’re listening to, and a lot of people say it’s just tossing two songs together, but it’s usually much more complex.

E-603 is wrapping up a North American campus tour. Check out E-603’s new album “Torn Up� at, or on Myspace ( e603), Twitter ( or Facebook. For a sample list, check out: Torn_Up




JA: What differentiates you from other artists who make similar music? E-603: I suppose it would be the production aspects of it – and the attention to what some samples mean. Some artists that make similar music, in a way, half ass it, and put two songs or multiple songs together and think “well that sounds good� but there’s something missing, and it doesn’t mean anything, which to me is a little obnoxious because there’s less of a production value to it. I mean, some artists are unscathed in that aspect. I absolutely love and admire Girl Talk, and I know Gregg pays fine attention to the details, but it’s others, some of the smaller name copycats who make similar music, miss the mark. Once again, I don’t listen to other Mash-Up artists a lot, but there are a few names where it seems like they’re not putting a lot of time into it, and there are some amateur production flaws. The amount of samples and the attention to detail is what sets me apart. JA: So, the interplay of the details and the variety is what makes you E-603. E-603: Exactly!



JA: What’s next on your musical hiatus? E-603: I’m playing a bunch of shows all over the place and I’m always working on remixes or producing for someone. Right now, I’m working on a remix for a small electronic group from Boston called Southern Belle. This winter, hopefully I’ll be writing the World’s First ElectroPopera. JA: Looking forward to it! Would that be like the Muppet Opera that Jason Segel created in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but with less Vampires? E-603: I can’t imagine using Muppets; that would be difficult. I was watching the Muppet Show last night actually, and Jim Henson is a genius. It’d definitely be a comedy, but it wouldn’t be about past events, like what Jason Segel did with Dracula. It would probably be modern and happen to casually be an opera full of ElectroPop music!





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52 Konekt

The Glamourization of

Addiction in Modern Pop Culture by Andrea McPherson

Konekt 53

The moanings of the protagonist of the Nick Hornby novel, High Fidelity, illustrate a classic dilemma for many a pop culture and music junkie. When pop culture consumption reaches a point of over saturation, distinguishing between authentic feelings and those fabricated in empathy with surrounding narratives can become difficult. While most of us don’t take it to the level of obsession and narcissism as High Fidelity’s Rob, internalizing the messages of our favourite art is a natural process.

And when our art is that of the dominant popular culture, based on repetitive refrains of melancholy and heartbreak, what of that? Is there a link between the music and misery? Can film depictions of depression and heartbreak make this seem appealing rather than a sorry situation? In popular culture, disorder, like addiction, depression and unhealthy relationships, are routinely glamourized as exciting and sexy, from heightened market success after suicide, to dramatic on-again offagain couples both on and off screen, to the heroin chic looks of the nineties. Romanticizing conflict, and even misery, happens in the mundanity of the everyday. We know addiction and obsession aren’t ideal, but anything that breaks up the monotony of sunrise/sunset can seem like a blessing. Hopefully outright coveting of unhealthy conflict and disorder is a guilty desire not acted upon, one we self-consciously understand is irrational and let it remain in annals of fiction.

But then again, I’ve never been the one to believe anyone when they something “is only a story.” It’s never only a story. Stories come from a real place. The inspiration, if not from the writer’s life, is stolen from friends or lovers (or other writers.) And stories have real consequences. “Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”

This doesn’t just mean pasty preteens listening to Bright Eyes either. And no, artistic censorship is not the answer –often when this sort of trend is brought to awareness, everyone who is immune to its influence, or merely ignorant of the effect, rushes to defend the status quo, saying that they turned out fine. Fine, that’s probably true for many. But we do not exist in a vacuum and media exerts influence. Are those susceptible to these messages merely weak enough to let them permeate their bones? Should they should burn out and fade away like so many of their idols in a social Darwinist sunset? Right now the picture of these people is probably the stereotypical tortured artist, the privileged selftitled elite, the turtleneck and moleskin notebook type. It would probably be wrong to deny that this is largely a sub-cultural disease, infecting those who live their genre distinctions at work and in bed in higher concentration, but the influence of the last decade’s “alternaculture” has exerted influence on the dominant cultural narratives as well. The increasing prevalence of schadenfreude prime-time and sexualization of suicide in Hollywood shows us the false fantasies in the mainstream. Shows like intervention allow us to lay back and watch the crumbling lives of others, and the exciting downward spiral of substance abuse, from the comfort of our homes. Do you really enjoy others’ suffering so much? Oh yeah, I’m learning from it, they say, munching the popcorn, spilling diet coke on the couch while texting with the same hand, eyes glazed and crusty. Of course people enjoy depictions of others’ suffering. If we’re honest with ourselves, we all thrive on schaedenfreude a little too much, as it would appear that a sadist resides at the bottom of every soul. That doesn’t mean we should indulge these perverse whims or sanction them on network television at the same time as Jeopardy. That doesn’t


“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” - High Fidelity

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mean we shouldn’t question the sudden spike in Heath Ledger’s popularity (or the legions of young women talking about how ‘hawt’ he is) right after we all found out he overdosed. “Oh, the poor troubled soul! What a beautifully tragic situation! If only I could have saved him… if you know what I mean…”

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As frequently lamented in tales of modern woe, it has become harder and harder to hold our attention. New technology has lead to more advanced stimuli, creating a visceral experience for archetypal stories of old. Although it seems to have been ever thus, media proliferation and easier access to constant media consumption make saturation a legitimate problem for some. Grand narratives evocative of the courtly love tradition benefit from almost inhumanly attractive actors, and artistic techniques capable of rendering even the most heinous situations enticing prospects. The depictions of disorder arrest our senses, and everyone thinks they have some sort of insight on what it feels like to be a black-tar heroin addict, even if, a la James Frey, the supposedly-non fictional wasn’t even written by someone who experienced it in the first place.

There are those who will cash-in on our fascination with the psychologically gruesome, selling out another’s sob story, if not for money, then “edge.” It’s a lazy way to spice up an otherwise lackluster piece of work. Get someone to jump off a building! Sexy.

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I could blame artists who make art about addiction and disorder for sensationalizing and sexualizing it. But these topics are inherently sensational, and much of media needs to have some sex appeal to succeed in the media marketplace. I suppose all I can ask is that we try to portray this honestly, that we don’t omit the unappealing realities of disorder and drama. That misery is not all melancholy sighs, yearning eyes and heaving bosoms. That misery is often boring and repetitive – and when it is dramatic, it’s destructive. That not every artistic relationship needs a handsome, brooding alcoholic and his clinging codependent. That pain is not a prerequisite for creativity. That substance abuse is messy, involves a lot of shaking and jonesing and is really kind of a drag. That obsession is suffocating, not sexy. That the lyrics of Wonderwall should chart a momentary delusion of being able to save someone, not a sleepover singalong. That credibility should be counted by talent and not the number of tiretreadmarks on hearts or the chips on our shoulders. And perhaps most importantly, when someone is talking about these chips in real life right in front of you, you’ll look them straight in the eye and listen instead of turning away from the difficulty and stare at someone screaming about the same issues on tv instead.


How do we know when it’s appropriated and glamourized and when it’s a legitimate representation of someone’s reality?

54 Konekt

I’m Onto Your Game by Melyssa Wright

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“You’re really generically hot. You sort of remind me of this stripper my buddies and I saw in Montreal last week,” a guy in an ugly fluorescent pink trucker hat and an obviously homemade t-shirt showcasing a Lhasa Apso puppy, cockily remarks before asking me to hold his drink Was he kidding? And why was he wearing my favourite shirt from the third grade? I could not believe that this undernourished, vertically-challenged undergrad was insulting me, especially after I had dismissed the advances of at least four much more dreamy prospects who’d offered to buy me a drink on that Alfies Wednesday. Despite my better judgment and contrary to the way my mother would advise me to respond to someone who’d just compared me to a stripper, I smile and say “I bet her breasts weren’t real. Mine are.” After a few minutes of flirtation he tells me that he has to leave but would love to continue this conversion in the future.

I had just been played by a new breed of desperate man known as a PUA (pickup artist) by insiders of an Internet-based subculture deemed the seduction community. It wouldn’t be the first time and I know I am not alone. Even if you haven’t heard of PUAs, you may have regretted meeting one on a “walk of shame” home across campus or questioned how the World of Warcraft fanatic in your thermodynamics class always has a different beautiful girl on his arm.

The online seduction community originated as an Internet document entitled “The Lay Guide”, short for “The How to Lay Girls Guide”, and offers an outlet to men hoping to improve their romantic lives. Here, horny males began exchanging knowledge on how to pick up women and secretly worked on turning the art of seduction into an exact science. Drawing from areas as diverse as social psychology and primate behavioral patterns to the mannerisms depicted by Tom Cruise and James Dean in Top Gun and Rebel Without a Cause, members of this self-titled seduction community developed a pseudoscience of picking-up that’s sweeping bars and coffee shops across the nation. Unfortunately for me, the horny college boys frequenting Ale House and Alfies were not immune to the tips and techniques advertised by alleged ladies’ men online.

Soon, the sarcastic and witty banter I had found fun and refreshing upon first experience was starting to sound as pathetic as “Come here often Baby?” After mentioning my annoyance about the new rage overtaking the Kingston social scene to my best guy friend Todd, he enlightened me about the concept of master pickup artists (MPUAS) and the seduction community. For someone who claimed to find the entire seduction community “lame and immature”, he knew a shocking amount of the concepts they promoted. He instructed me to read “The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists” by Neil Strauss, insisting that it would not only make me laugh but would offer some insight into the fragile male psyches of these men who collected women’s numbers for sport. Forty-five dollars on my parents’ credit card and 452 pages later, I was shocked by both the lengths to which some men were succumbing in hopes of getting laid and also by how successful they were being through using these seduction methods. By the end of the book, I was an expert at the secret language and codes of the community and rooting for Neil Strauss to F-close (use your imagine folks), as many HBs (hot babe in pickup lingo) as possible. The women’s study minor in me wanted to dismiss Strauss as a chauvinistic pig. Instead I found myself cheering with every new flight attendant or barista he bagged due to his likeability and genuine desire to rid himself of the fear of women that had plagued him since adolescence. Meet Neil Strauss, a short, skinny, average frustrated chump (AFC) who describes his pale body and large bumped nose as far from attractive. After seeing his pre-gym membership and Lasik eye surgery photograph, I understand why he had some troubles with the ladies and why he needed the confidence boost he found from the seduction community. Despite a witty personality, fantastic job as a rock and roll journalist, and famous friends like Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra, Strauss lacked the social confidence to approach women. Although he hadn’t reached “40 year old virgin” status, his sexual experience was bleak. Knowing where he started, it’s hard to believe that over the course of two years, this balding journalist who looked like he spent more time playing Call of Duty than getting to third base with models, transformed himself from AFC, to a professional player known as “Style”. Throughout his book, the bible for aspiring Casanovas, Strauss invites the reader into this secret subculture


I give him my cell number, not knowing every sentence that I had appreciated for its wit and originality had been created and perfected by a cultlike community of master pickup artists and probably rehearsed by my new friend in front of his mirror hours before.

Not long after being compared to a stripper, I began to receive many backhanded compliments, that I now know to be ‘negs’, an integral feature of the Mystery method of seduction and in my opinion the most overused tip advocated by seductions gurus. Questions such as “Was my hair real?” “Did I know I scrunched up my nose when I laughed?” and “Could I offer some advice for their buddy who was having problems with a jealous ex-girlfriend?” become increasingly common when out on a Saturday night.

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of womanizers. He breaks down the leading methods of seduction and invites us into his bedroom (or the washroom stall of a club) by graphically sharing his own sexual exploits in the field. By the end of the novel, Strauss has ‘sarged’ (hit on) hundreds of women, slept with more than one playboy playmate and even obtained Britney Spears’ cell number when she was still hot and C-section scar free. He was no longer Neil: shy guy, but Style: legendary pickup artist, who reaches hero status after launching “Project Hollywood” in 2003, a mansion similar to Hugh Hefner’s where the most lethal lotharios in the world met to hone their skills and entertain their targets. His journey from nerd to stud began when Strauss signed up for a weekend seminar with “Mystery”, a Toronto native and professional magician, responsible for most of the Top Gun themed jargon used by PUAs, as well as countless one night stands across the globe. In his workshops Mystery charges thousands of dollars to teach men openers and routines ranging from magic tricks to elaborate skits. The main idea is to look like you couldn’t care less about a girl and to make her work for your attention. Pretty ironic considering his students often carry prop bags containing items necessary for their ESP routines, have a notepad listing successful openers in their back pocket, and wear black eyeliner and fake nose rings. To the chagrin of women everywhere, Mystery also pioneered the concept of ‘negging’, the chosen opener practiced by my aforementioned Lhasa Apso loving friend. Neither a compliment nor an insult, a neg holds two purposes: to momentarily lower a woman’s selfesteem and to suggest an intriguing disinterest in her. I would personally recommend keeping the insults lighthearted. For example, ‘’Nice nails. Are they real? No? Oh, they look nice anyway” could help you get lucky but “You’d be my type if you lost five to ten pounds” could help you get punched in the face. The goal is to make a woman prove herself to be worthy to you and want both your approval and desire. Mystery cautions that negging is only for exceptionally beautiful women who are used to a steady stream of compliments. He asserts that it makes you unique and this helps break down a woman’s “Bitch shield”, an automatic defensive response used to deter unknown men who approach her. Although I’ve enjoyed the humour employed in some negs delivered to me in the past, I honestly feel that they work best on women with low self-esteem who crave attention. These women can often be found dancing on tables or making out with bartenders for free shots. Depending on what a guy is looking for, this might be perfectly fine but I doubt anyone will find their future partner this way. Moreover, I’d suggest using the neg cautiously now that, thanks to the success of Strauss’ book and shows like “Keys to the VIP”, every wannabe player is familiar with this technique and women are catching onto these gimmicks. Although, not a fan of the neg, I must admit that some of the techniques in the “Mystery Method,” can be effective and are based on some pretty solid psychological theories. Most of Mystery’s advice stems from the social psychology theory of social proof, where one must demonstrate value to a woman’s social circle

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“In his workshops ‘Mystery’ charges thousands of dollars to teach men openers and routines ranging from magic tricks to elaborate skits.”

“Neither a compliment nor an insult, a neg holds two purposes: to momentarily lower a woman’s self-esteem and to suggest an intriguing disinterest in her.”


“He promotes a technique called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that combines hypnosis with a language of gestures and verbal cues to entice women to have sex.”

by becoming the centre of attention. Additionally, in what I believe to be poor advice, Mystery borrows from evolutionary biology and promotes the “Peacock Theory”. This idea is that in order to attract the most desirable female of a species, its necessary to stand out in a flashy and colourful way. Mystery advocates wearing flashy clothing such as garish hats and jewelry that act as attention getters and conversation starters. I appreciate that standing out from the crowd may work for birds but when I see a guy rocking a bedazzled Ed Hardy shirt, I run the other way to avoid suffocating from Axe body spray. Mystery is not the only guru to teach Strauss how to play the game and, in his book, Strauss brags about how many of the major players in the seduction community fought to have him on their team and follow their method. One of these contenders is Ross Jeffries, the grandfather of the seduction community and one of first people to run lectures on PUA techniques. He also claims to be the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s character in the film Magnolia, although Cruise later denies this in an interview with Strauss himself. Jeffries comes across as a creepy computer geek who seems to view women as characters in a video game that he can control. He promotes a technique called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that combines hypnosis with a language of gestures and verbal cues to entice women to have sex. Additionally, Strauss praises Jeffries’ former student and current nemesis David DeAngelo for his success in the industry with the “Double Your Dating” and “Get Altitude” programs sold online. DeAngelo promotes a communication technique he coins as “cocky funny” and also suggests reading dog-training books to pick up women. An acquaintance of mine vehemently swears that DeAngelo’s “cocky funny” method has drastically improved his dating life and made him nearly irresistible to women. Not surprisingly, I can’t stand his overly confident behaviour and unoriginal attempts at humour but maybe he didn’t waste his supreme game on me. Although I’ve been turned off by the peacockers in studded jean jackets and “cocky funny” attempts in the past, I understand why Neil Strauss has such success with the ladies. After YouTubing demonstrations of his skills on the talk show circuit, I can easily see myself becoming smitten with him. He adopts the superior aspects of leading pickup theories and as a result displays phenomenal social communication skills. He’s no Brad Pitt in the looks department but is witty, charismatic, and oozes a sexual confidence that makes him desirable. I recommend reading The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists to anyone purely for its entertainment value and conversation-starter attributes but don’t expect these pickup gimmicks to transform you into a major player. In my opinion, the humorous openers and bizarre routines advocated by MPUAs in the book are not effective because they cast some magic spell on a women that makes her want to rip her clothes off. Instead, they give awkward or shy guys the confidence necessary to approach a pretty girl and the opportunity to engage in a conversation that they previously would have been too scared to initiate. Most girls see through the act but might actually think a guy is cute and want to talk. Keep in mind that some of us are nervous too and want to get to know the real person behind the game. Sadly, even the best must retire and say goodbye to the chase eventually. Neil Strauss is currently in a long term relationship with a woman who decided to overlook his PUA ways and fell in love with him while he was being Neil Strauss: short, skinny journalist, not Style: master pickup artist.

60 Konekt

Welcome to Conspiracyville, USA Population: a lot more crazy folks than you’d think by Amarnath Amarasingam

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Certain elements of the American population have come to deeply distrust those in power. Ever since Obama declared his intention to run for President, he has become the object of much of this suspicion. When he quotes scripture, they think he is being crafty; when he is photographed in prayer, they think it political posturing. Such a sustained pessimism cannot be countered with fact or rational argument. What most take to be his charisma, his sincerity, and his genuine concern for the future of America, is, for some individuals, a well-oiled façade, a sham designed to enrapture and hypnotize the masses, while truly devious plans are secretly unfolded.

Beginning during the 2008 election cycle, the Internet began teeming with speculation about Obama and the New World Order, and about Obama and the Antichrist.

Those who believe that Obama is the literal antichrist (see below) seem to be smaller in number than those who believe he is only paving the way for the end times. Beliefs under this first theme vary widely between those who, for some reason, find him a little scary, those who believe Obama is a puppet of the New World Order (NWO), and those who believe that he is working for higher powers than the NWO (namely, Lucifer). As one individual noted in the Backwoods Home Magazine forum discussion dedicated to the issue of Obama as the Antichrist, there is just something about Obama that makes her fearful: “The things the man said and his actions I found to be quite unnerving. Especially his speech in front of the stage with the pillars and the huge pictures of himself. There was a point during this speech where Obama paused to hear the crowds applaud and chant his name. The stance he took and the expression on his face were very Hitler like. This speech scared the hooey out of me when it was so obvious to me that he was so much absorbing and gaining so much energy off of the crowd’s enthusiasm. It was truly freaky.” Following from this, there has been another document circulating around the internet entitled, “An Examination of Obama’s Use of Hidden Hypnosis Techniques in His Speeches,” which argues that Obama is “not

Of all the sources discussed thus far, however, The Obama Deception, a 2009 documentary by the reliably silly talk radio host and darling of the conspiracy community, Alex Jones, has been the most influential. As of this writing, it has been viewed over 3.5 million times on YouTube, is also available on GoogleVideo, and is recommended on many other websites and forums. The Obama Deception has garnered over eighty-six thousand viewer comments on YouTube, and over thirty thousand ratings, giving it an average rating of four and a half out of five stars. The film begins with Alex Jones setting the stage for the rise of Obama: “America, in 2009, was desperate for change. The past eight years had been a disaster…the elite were in trouble. The people were beginning to see through their façade, past their front man, and to the ruling elite behind the throne…And then on to the scene came a man who promised change.”

However, the film argues, change is not possible in the United States, as the presidency is nothing more than a ‘puppet post’ behind which stand the global power elite. The Bilderberg Group, frequently attacked by conspiracy theorists (with some dedicating part of their lives to following the group’s every move), is again singled out in the documentary as responsible for rising oil prices, and the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market. Under such conditions, the film argues, “even if Barack Obama was the most wonderful person in the world, he was groomed and brought to power by the global elite to carry out their agenda.” According to Jones and others in the film, the objective of the global elite had been hampered by the ‘disastrous’ Bush administration. Americans had been on the verge of revolution, dissatisfied with their government and ready for change. The global elite had to rectify the situation, and found in Obama the perfect tool. He had the ability to once again placate the masses, his charisma and his words would anesthetize feelings of anger and frustration. As the film states, “Obama is the perfect Trojan Horse. He makes the people feel like they finally have a place at the table, even as he betrays them.” The paranoia in the film often reaches for new levels of absurdity. For example, the film points to Obama’s transition website and interprets his plan to “require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college


Emails circulated widely and amateur videos were posted on YouTube proclaiming strange personality and numerological resemblances between Obama and Biblical statements about the Antichrist. A recent Google search of ‘Obama’ and ‘Antichrist’ yielded 2.4 million results. Two Facebook searches of the same terms as well as ‘Obama’ and ‘New World Order’ indicated the existence of over 200 and 137 Common Interest groups respectively, some with several hundred members. These search results indicate at the very least that there is a budding interest in the idea of Obama as the Antichrist. It does not, to be sure, show that millions of people ascribe to such beliefs.

just using subliminal messages, but textbook covert hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming techniques on audiences that are intentionally designed to sideline rational judgment and implant subconscious commands to think he is wonderful and elect him President.” Similarly, YouTube contains many clips attempting to prove that if Obama’s ‘Yes we can’ speeches are played backwards, it clearly sounds like ‘Thank you Satan’. Thankfully, many of the comments following these clips mock the intention of the authors asking, for example, why they feel the need to play the speech backwards at all.

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YouTube has become home to many amateur videos proclaiming (or mocking) the idea that Obama is the Antichrist. A search for ‘Obama’ and ‘antichrist’ yielded about fifteen thousand videos, attempting to relate Obama to, among other things, the Bible Code, the book of Revelation, the Illuminati, the New World Order, and the year 2012. Perhaps the most popular video propounding that Obama is the Antichrist is entitled, “Jesus Gave Us the Name of the Antichrist,” which has, as of this writing, been viewed close to six hundred thousand times and is referenced in dozens of other websites. The narrator of the video points to Luke 10:18, which states, “And he said unto them, I saw Satan as lightning falling from the heights (or heavens).” The video notes that Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, and since Aramaic is the “most ancient form of Hebrew” (which is false), it holds that we can translate the key terms in this verse into Hebrew to see what they really mean. The narrator notes that, according to the Strong Hebrew Dictionary, the word for lightning is ‘baraq’. Similarly, the word for heights is ‘bamah’. The narrator then points out that the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, waw, is often transliterated as a ‘u’ or ‘o’ and is mostly used as a conjunction. Thus, “I saw Satan as lightening falling from the heights” (Luke 10:18) would, in Hebrew, be: “I saw Satan as baraq o’bamah”. The video contains a disclaimer at the end stating that the narrator is simply pointing to the facts, not declaring that Obama is the Antichrist (for a thorough treatment and debunking of this popular and bizarre viral video, see Michael Heiser’s PaleoBabble blog). The worldviews discussed above are multifaceted and I lack the space to fully explore them here. They are a cocktail of millennialism, conspiracy, patriotism, and scapegoating. The search for the Antichrist at times gets wedded to theories of the Illuminati, the new world order, and the end times. Other times, it remains purely in the realm of religion. Although not a perfect term, ‘right-wing populism’, best captures the contours of these varying worldviews. Right-wing populism, for our purposes, should be understood as a movement that is characterized by conspiracism as well as apocalypticism and millennialism. For some individuals, the two elements function separately, but, for most, they are intimately related, producing an extravagant anxiety about the one world government, the Illuminati, Lucifer, the Antichrist, and the end times. Apocalypticism and more secular conspiracy theories very often echo each other and borrow from each other’s paranoia. According to many rightwing populists, events in the world are governed by design, not randomness. This emphasis on design often manifests itself in three principles that can be found to be part of all conspiracy theories: nothing happens by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected. As we saw above, the phobias surrounding the rise Obama are a mixture of older fears of the Federal Reserve as a cabal of secret bankers, of the Bilderberg Group/Trilateral Commission, Bohemian Grove, the Illuminati, and the Freemasons. Obama, they argue, is nothing more than a Trojan horse, hand-picked by the global elite to enrapture the masses and sedate their revolutionary anger following the Bush administration. Amarnath Amarasingam is a doctoral candidate in the LaurierWaterloo PhD in Religious Studies. He is the editor of Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal (Brill Academic Publishers, forthcoming), and has published articles in The Journal of Contemporary Religion, The Journal of Religion & Film, and Mental Health, Religion and Culture. He is also the author of three book chapters on American culture, and has presented papers at several national and international conferences.


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every year” not as Obama’s attempt to engage the youth or foster social capital, but as a fascistic plan to conscript all 18-24 year olds in America into “a paramilitary, domestic security force.”

64 Konekt

It’s All the Same: A Verbal Venn Diagram part II by Jeff Waite

These days, I’m plagued by what ifs. What if I had skipped that lecture? What if I had not applied for the job I now have? What if I didn’t live in Slovakia? What if I didn’t go out that night and meet that girl? Funny how a series of seemingly small choices can have such profound effects down the road. None of it matters though. All we can do is accept what has happened and keep moving forward. It’s October, currently. I never realized how important October was, until right now. For a few confounding reasons the thirty days occurring about 1.5 weeks after the fall equinox are extremely interesting to me. I never realized it until I left school. Despite how painfully obvious it is. October is like the annual slingshot of my life. It’s the new January. Firing me around for another 365-day period. The point where I get to slam Jagger shots and dress up like an Ugg Boot or Shawarma is just a convenient perk, in the big picture. Ok maybe it’s an exaggeration to say it fuels my entire year, but it makes sense to a degree. Summer is obviously “LaxTown USA” for 95% percent of the student population. At least it was for me. And things are changing in September, sure. But that’s the obvious answer. You finish work, say good-bye to your parents (who by now you are sick of) and escape to a life of freedom and low quality food. But hold on. Let’s be real here: September is a joke. No real work gets done. There are lame attempts, and ambitious resolutions, but those quickly crumble in the face of the weakest forms of peer pressure. Not until the haze of homecoming has risen, do you find yourself a little more underprepared than you would be comfortable with. Intimidating midterms stand looming. Shit is getting serious. It’s October, all of a sudden. September is nothing more than a summer hangover, when you think about it. In the real world I’m permanently confined to desk space, I burn time lamenting the long days recently gone by. Facebook status updates and tweets from friends all over the world make me jealous of all those kids who just moved back to Kingston. Officemates, like classmates, have just returned from fabulous expeditions to new corners

of the globe and while they may be clocking face time at their respective responsibilities, they generally all do a lackluster job, as their brains linger in bygone hot spots. And then it just sort of happens. You wake up. Maybe it’s a Sunday. You slept in because it’s a little darker than usual. It’s probably drizzling. Outside, you feel under-dressed. Puddles linger. Maybe an insufficient sun struggles vainly to see through its obligation in the water cycle. “-But that sun has more that sufficed since the previous solstice!” You delude yourself, before scornfully spiting the deceptive golden orb. A few wet leaves stick to your left shoe. You feel cheated. The wind cuts through your cardigan. If you don’t have a cold, you’re about to catch one. Summer, and the associated pipe dreams, is over.

Too much of my summer was “squandered” on patios watching supermodels in 6-inch heels and 6-inch skirts, navigate the neglected cobblestone street next to any one of my favourite patios. I find myself needing to reflect and think on where I’ve come and what I’ve been through these last few months. Octobers cool embrace encourages such forays of thought and logic. I also start drinking lots of tea, which is probably better than the garbage I usually consume. It’s as though during the green bloom of summer, I’m held hostage by a latent sense of excess. There’s no need to reap my harvest. For whatever reason, I am trapped in this paralytic mental state until the world around me starts to physically change. Confronted with falling leaves and that bitter taste in the air, only then, am I shocked into action, impressed with a sense of urgency, as the annual catharsis that is autumn begins to bear down. I’m both the ant and the grasshopper, if you know what I mean. I admit this is obvious. As autumn encroaches the weather starts to suck, so naturally, I’m more adverse to the outdoors. Avoid wet socks at all costs, I say. The months of September through June are the time to get things done. We’re all conditioned into this from a young age. September, naturally, is the comfortable buffer. It’s just that it wasn’t

Konekt 65

We knew enough that we would probably keep our heads above water when sink or swim time eventually came around, but we’d be lucky not to catch a wave or two in the mouth while we doggy paddled about, trying to find our way. And you know how nasty that salt-water shit tastes. I remember with high-res photographic accuracy, a single bullet point made by one of my two instructors. The gist of the life changing statement was: By the very nature of science, precise measurement, extreme attention to detail, and complicated procedures with strange instruments, scientific research is riddled with failure. Experiments fail 19 times out of 20. You clutch your lab book with white knuckles, trying to tear it in half, finally slamming it back on the bench. Your crystals didn’t nucleate. Or your protein sample is contaminated. Frustration overwhelms, easily. But you are obliged to endure it, if you ever want to win. Suffice it to say: I hate losing. I have always hated losing. That day, I made a conscious choice. In retrospect, it might

have been a cop-out but I don’t think so. I decided I would not toil the rest of my life away with fickle experimentation. Maybe I should have reflected on it more then. But reeking of yeast, waiting for another round of test tubes to finish another turn in the centrifuge was the not the way forward, I reasoned. Unfortunately for me, my sage instructor, and ultimately the one who drove the final nail into the nail-ridden coffin that was my potential scientific research career, forgot to mention a corollary that would end up causing me a lot of trouble. This is another one of those HD photographic moments etched into the back of my eyelids. It makes me wonder what other negatives are waiting to be developed into insights in the darkroom that is my brain. Fast-forward to June 2009: Sorry to be jumping all over the place. My brain is spastic like that. In my pursuit of anything but more frustrating laboratory time, I’m now a ninja of the Bratislava public transport system, riding bus #61 solo at 9:15am on a Sunday, on the way back to my flat. ASIDE: In case you didn’t catch that, check out how I can say flat now, in lieu of apartment. Now that I’m “Euroballin’” I’m also able to say mobile, over even abbreviate to “mobes.” without feeling like a complete cretin. I find a disturbing amount of satisfaction in these absurdly miniscule perks. Anyways, the reason I’m up so early on this shitty bus is because I just dropped my friend Amit off at the airport. He’s been my first visitor and it really forced me to think about and contrast my life as a student and my current life in postcommunist hilarity. Things haven’t changed that much. We got home from the bar, admittedly a little later than usual, at 7:15am. Being one to miss planes rather frequently, it was not until shortly after our morning arrival that Amit realized his flight was to depart at 10:00am, not 10:00pm. It was a hot mess. We scrambled. The travel gods must have been smiling however, as we delivered him to the proper terminal at an appropriate time. Now I’m feeling pretty alone, not to mention that nauseating state between “LiquorMcPissyFaced” and worst-hangover-of-life. Then my bus rolls by the local IKEA. I feel mocked: Through some vicious twist of fate, haunting visions of cheap beds and DIY storage solutions are the only reminders of the last 21 years of my life. Thanks, cruel world. A minute ago I said I hated losing and I didn’t want to be a scientist. My Prof. had told me that science is about losing, 95% of the time. Kenny Powers wouldn’t accept that, so why should I? If you don’t know who Kenny Powers is, I’m glad we’re not friends. It’s in that vein that I ended up in Eastern Europe. Instead of cramping my hand with endless pipette work, I decided to try my hand at a Sales job. Yeah, sales won’t involve failure. You idiot. If you want to be technical about it, my employment is more of a business development role. Effectively though, I sell people on why they want to do business with my firm. I’m not convincing people to purchase recession-proof iPods, as evidenced by soaring Apple stock, or the latest Avon product; I’m selling intangible ideas and services. It’s not easy. For the most part I have fun though. I deal with people, instead of bacterial DNA. That’s a good start. I talk to executives and scientists about what kind of work is happening in their lab, and where they’re faltering. I talk to them about how we might be able to help. Well, that’s what I do on a good day.


until this year that I had the personal experience to confirm the case outside of academia. Of course the boundary is a little bit less defined in this case, but the currents under the surface still operate in the same manner. Although I’m halfway across the world fully engaged in the rat race, memories of a year ago remain fresh. One of the weekly bright spots on my fall calendar, while I ran out the clock on my penultimate undergraduate semester, was a three-hour seminar each Thursday afternoon. That I looked forward to it was particularly odd, being someone who generally deplores lecture as a boring inefficient waste of time (I don’t maintain that’s the right view, just the one I stubbornly harbored). With only a dozen or so classmates, it was by far the smallest university class in which I partook. To make matters better, two professors were on hand. They each excitedly encouraged discussion and inspiration, by sharing their own dreams, trials and tribulations. Our motley crew formed a unique, albeit odd, bond, rather quickly. It makes sense I guess. Our group had all suffered through three and a half years of rigorous undergraduate studies at a very reputable institution. 118th in the world, as of 2009, thank you very much. After so much effort, we could taste victory. The light at the end of the tunnel danced just beyond the edges of our outstretched fingertips. Like it was a chronic case of extreme psoriasis in the middle of my back, I squirmed for freedom. Everyone did, some felt the need to pretend that they had their act together, but we were all uncomfortable on some level when the notion of the future was brought up, as it so often was. Few of us knew what exactly that fabled next step would be. Even the biggest keeners had yet to hear back from professional and graduate programs. A dash of uncertainty was added to the back of my mind in every situation. Everyone could sense change around the next bend. We were all smart and capable. We had worked extremely hard for the past four years. Day in and day out we locked down in the library; where we read textbooks, lecture notes, journal publications and the occasional crossword. Working hard kept us grounded in the present. It gave us confidence.

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Konekt 67

Sorry to draw a line in the sand like this; but, if your IQ is anywhere North of 76 you might have already concluded that starting a job in sales because I was afraid of failure was a faulty, not to mention incredibly naïve, jump of logic, on my part. Allow me the privilege of painting you a picture, please. On a daily basis I get hung up on more than you have in your life. I am the recipient of an avalanche of “Ari Gold-esque” tirades. People tell me off, on the regular. I have heard “no” and infinite variations on the theme, so many times that I now dare people to hang up on me. I make simple mistakes and I falter in the most creative of ways. Despite tedious preparation and practice, I fail consistently.

Trust me on this one, I moved half-way across the world to try and find a loophole, but I’ve only been further reassured that everything is the same –Plus or minus a little twist based on the intrinsic nature of what it is you’re trying to master, and where the flames you are dancing in, happen to be located. I must make it my habit to pursue failure intelligently, with enthusiasm and curiosity. I’m afraid it’s the only way I’ll make something of myself. And don’t get me started on how afraid I am of not making anything of myself. (Again, think Gatsby). If you want to bring it back to the most old-school level, check what homeboy Aristotle was caught saying “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” I would go on to say then that it is our habits, which provide the true barometer of one’s character. Real insight into a person is gleamed when we emphasize their actions, above their carefully selected words. If your ambition is ripe and you are serious about success, hold a mirror up to your life. The great thing about mirrors is that they are objective. They don’t lie. It is worth reflecting on

What’s your next move going to be, chief?


So that’s it. That was the part I was destined to learn on my own; the corollary that my wise professor glossed over. It took the particularly ruthless and ubiquitous failure at the very start of my newfound sales career to remind me, in a quick and brutal manner no less, of the lesson I had tried so dramatically to avoid. Failure is not just a part of scientific research, but an inescapable part of my life, as it turns out. To be successful in science, is the same as in anything: I must patiently persist. I must endure. Success in the lab is no different from cold calling. It is not about winning the lottery or pulling a golden ticket out of a chocolate bar wrapper you bought on a whim because there is some big contest to tour a factory and your grandpa gave you a dollar for your birthday; no, success is about tirelessly pursuing something you love. It’s not a new idea. Nor is it a particularly flashy one. Sorry if you were hoping for a silver bullet solution. If, by chance, you ever do find one such bullet, hit me up with it at, but I won’t hold my breath. Each attempt, each grasp at success is an experiment. I now know through brutal experience that the only way I’m going to accomplish anything worth tooting a horn about (I hate that expression, by the way) is by tirelessly pursuing the elusive green light on the dock across the bay that that Gatsby dude was so obsessed with.

where you have been and what you’ve picked up along the way. It’s important to understand what tools you have developed and which ones are now at your disposal. Maybe, it’s even worth speculating about the “What ifs.” But at the end of the day, and this has been the toughest lesson for me, whatever you situation: It is what it is. The past is done. I live in a place where 24-hour grocery stores and pre made salad kits don’t exist. In their place I have barbed wire fences, crumbling derelict buildings and real live whorehouses. Stop dreaming about what could have been and move forward. If you are at all interested in advancing your swagger, becoming the Picasso of your chosen trade, you must come to terms with your situation and decide how best you can leverage it with your personal box of tools. Enslave yourself to good habits and the pinnacle of your potential is within reach. Everyday I need to do as Thomas Friedman described Governor Suebu of Guinea “Think Big. Act Small. Start Now.”

68 Konekt


the Scales: The Power Revolution of Serving by Kelly Reid

Konekt 69

Remember that scene in Reservoir Dogs? Right at the beginning, in the diner, when Steve Buscemi quite calmly and firmly says to the table, “I don’t tip.” My respect for the movie aside, I can’t help but conclude every time I watch this scene that Mr. Pink is nothing more than a clumsily inserted mouthpiece for Tarantino himself.

Having been employed by a very special breed of service establishments known as “chain restaurants” for quite some time, I can say firsthand that there are plenty of people who think like Mr. Pink. “These ladies aren’t starving to death. She makes minimum wage,” he justifies. (Well no, we don’t). Instead, the government has concluded that serving jobs deserve their own special “server minimum,” an austere $8.25 an hour, compared with the non-server’s $9.50. “The government says, ‘don’t tip these guys over here, but tip these guys over here. That’s fucked up.’” (Well yes, it is). Pink is right about one thing though: servers do make a living. A pretty good one, by many standards. Serving can easily be – and usually is – a $30 an hour job, if not more. This is, of course, primarily in the form of tips. Which brings me to one uneasy revelation. Isn’t there something inherently unsettling about the whole idea of serving? Or being served? When I greet a table at my chain restaurant, the first words out of my mouth are “Welcome to __________ . My name is Kelly and I’ll be serving you tonight.” In short, when your livelihood depends on how well you can serve someone,

Or maybe not. Do we in the restaurant profession hold some untapped power? Is the desire for white vinegar with your fries and a few napkins for your children so strong that it borders on extortionable? There may be something more to this.

As Tyler Durden of Fight Club so eloquently puts it, “We cook your meals. We haul your trash. We connect your calls. We drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not. Fuck with us.” Certainly, I can’t argue with this. And when it comes to service, I think one industry had it right all along. Get the money first.


Point, counterpoint. “These people bust their ass,” objects Mr. White. “This is a hard job.” “So is working at McDonald’s,” Pink says. “But you don’t feel the need to tip them.” As I watch them argue about what constitutes good service, I am irked. Not because I have been a part of the service industry for three years and cannot understand where Mr. Pink is coming from. No, instead I am irked because I can. Why do we feel obligated to tip in restaurants and bars, but not at fast food establishments, coffee drive-thrus, movie theatre concessions? Why do we tip hotdog vendors, but not flight attendants? Why taxis, and not bus drivers?

the aristocratic and classist implications are hard to miss. Are our modern day chains with their half-price wings and ready-made desserts nothing more than hierarchical hangovers from the noblesse and courtly systems of monarchies gone by? Maybe . There’s an industry motto that we servers remind ourselves after a tough day at the office: we are your servers, not your servants. But for some restaurant guests, the difference is hard to notice. As we run around for extra tartar sauce or a seventh glass of Coke, we better be smiling. In a restaurant, the size of the tip depends not just on the quality of the service, but also the perceived attitude of the server. In a crowded bar on $2.50 bar rail night, the quality of the service – and the attitude of the bartender – depends on the size of the tip . If I were nearly as surly to my patrons as the typical bartender is to me, I wouldn’t get tipped at all. Is this backward? I’m not sure. Maybe there is a tipping revolution on the horizon. Do I bow down to the noblesse and refill their salad with a flash of my pearly whites, hoping for the extra fifty cents on their twenty dollar bill? Or rather, should they grease the palm of the server beforehand, hoping that he or she will be prompt with the ketchup? If the old “you get what you pay for” slogan soon defines the restaurant industry as far as tips are concerned , there is still an uncomfortable backlash. We once were servants, and now we’re whores. It might pay the rent, but I’m still clearing dishes.

70 Konekt

The Market

Taketh and the Market Giveth

The Death and Resurrection

of Intimate Education by Ryan Zade

Konekt 71

Rewind to six years ago. I was the first member of my family to attend university. On that warm August day when I arrived at Queen’s, I had only antidotal evidence of the post-secondary experience from the media and those who had attended many years before. I was excited for the small, intimate classroom settings where students and professors would have hour-long discussions about the nature of the world around them. I was shocked when I attended my first lecture with over 300 of my new colleagues. That intimate setting arrived some four years later in a small seminar on provincial politics.

Not only are students creating demand for more spaces; our economy is demanding more graduates.

bemoaned that university hadn’t been that personal experience that I had been believed it to be.

Faced with what I call a “demand sandwich”, the Government of Ontario acted to increase enrollment spaces and slow the ever-increasing cost of education. One of the early acts of the McGuinty Government was to institute a tuition freeze. Next, the 2005 Budget introduced the “Reaching Higher” plan, a badly needed 6.2-billion dollar infusion into the post-secondary sector.

After graduation, I

In retrospect – and with the benefit of an undergraduate degree in economics and politics – I shouldn’t have been so upset. The day of the personalized liberal arts undergraduate education is dead. The culprit? Something I learned about at my very first lecture. Market forces. Supply and demand.

High school didn’t help: the focus on university preparation at my school was total. I’m not sure that I even heard the word “apprenticeship” until Grade 11. I certainly benefited from this single-mindedness; anyone who has seen me with power tools can testify to that.

I must wonder about the student who attended university because they were taught that it was the “next step”, even though they may have become the best carpenter since Christ. I wasn’t the only one with an unhealthy obsession with getting into university. It is clear that more students are applying to universities than ever before. Considering March data from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre, 85,000 high school students applied to university programs in 2009, up from nearly 60,000 in 2000. More students applied to university in 2009 than ever before, not including the anomaly that was the 2003 double cohort: that year, 102, 471 applicants completed 525, 581 applications to universities in Ontario.

Now, hardly anyone objects to more money for education. I ask you to consider how that money is being distributed. One of the main tenets of “Reaching Higher” is to “significantly increase enrolments in colleges and universities.” Funding schemes coming from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities are heavily tied to creating spaces for students. The formula is simple: more enrollment = more money. Of course, the relationship that follows is that more enrollment = higher student/teacher ratios = less personalized experience. Institutions that have made the conscious effort to limit enrollment growth in the name of “quality” have seen their slice of the post-secondary funding pie shrink significantly. With an economy just coming out of recession, our schools are hurting from substantial losses to their endowment funds. Since yearly tuition increases are regulated, higher enrollment seems to be the only solution to our cash-stricken universities. Remember – universities are businesses. They may be in the industry of research and education, and that their total social benefit to society cannot be measured in dollars and cents, but in the end, a profit is still helpful, and a debt still needs to be repaid. I think it’s important to point out that this requiem is not a lament: increasing enrollment and demand for university graduates means we are producing more analytical thinkers. To compete with places like China, India and the United States, we are going to have to take advantage of our postsecondary schools. We will have to be smart and talented to survive in a globalized market. The demand for more spaces in our institutions will continue to grow; cash-strapped universities will have to respond by creating supply. With enrollment levels that will continue to increase into the foreseeable future, the casket containing the intimate liberal arts education sinks deeper into the soil. Can we restore the liberal arts undergraduate education to what it once was, while at the same time ensuring that there are spaces for all students willing and able to attend a postsecondary institution? With the right policy, I believe so. The irony in my solution is that the executioner will become the element of resurrection. Let the market take over.


For me, my influence on the supply side started very early. As part of the first Grade 12 graduating class in Ontario, I had been warned from an early stage in my academic career – Grade 7 in fact – that competition was going to be tough for postsecondary admissions. I would have to work hard to get into university, which apparently was the only goal any grade 7 should have in life!

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Tuition must be deregulated for those starting a degree or diploma program. Universities and colleges must have the right to set their own fees, since no two institutions are alike. Some are research-intensive; others focus on the undergraduate experience. Research-intensive universities require much more funding to maintain the capital (buildings, equipment) needed to be cutting edge centres of scholarship. Unregulated tuition would allow universities to have greater certainty in their budgets, aid in long-term planning and allow them to specialize. This offers us a solution to our effort to create an intimate class setting. A university could, if there is sufficient demand, specialize in undergraduate education, adjusting tuition and suppressing enrollment to keep class sizes down. When a market presents an opportunity, almost always a firm will be there to fill it.

universities, colleges and apprenticeships to all students, regardless of how convinced they are that they must follow the family tradition by attending a particular institution. The goal of a strong, diverse workforce is to maximize productivity; that students and workers are aware of their strongest talents and seek both education and employment in their specialized field. Secondly, the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) would have to be expanded into a much larger program in order to compensate for unregulated tuition. It shouldn’t cost too much; a shrewd policy planner could create a revenue-neutral student loan program. Further, considering the increased income (and tax) potential of post-secondary graduates, money for universities that could be diverted from compensating for tuition caps into OSAP, and investing in students in the name of education and self-improvement, revenue-neutrality need not be a goal.

Although I’m calling for a free market approach to tuition and enrollment, I am not suggesting that the market should be unregulated. Tuition levels should be set in the first year of a program. It would be unfair to unpredictably raise the cost of tuition for students in the later years of their programs. If we allow market forces to dictate tuition and enrollment, government must ensure that institutions put Ontarian students first. A cap must be maintained on international student enrollment.

These policy suggestions would require a radical shift in the way we address education in this province, as well as a government willing to use political capital to implement these changes. I’m confident that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation might have a word or two to say about standardized testing.

High tuition would be cost prohibitive to lower-income students. I am a firm believer that everyone who has the capacity to learn at the college or university level and the willingness to do so should be able to attend, regardless of cost. To remedy this situation, I propose a two-fold solution.

Liberal arts students of today: from a student of yesterday, heed my warning. Drop your romantic visions of your undergrad while you still can. Right now, undergrad is about labour market preparation or graduate school. Nothing more.

some form of standardized testing at the high school level, an“Ontario SAT” if you will. Other provinces already have a high school exit exam program in place. Such a test would give universities and students an idea of where an applicant stands against his or her peers province wide. It would be a tool to combat both discrepancies in marking between schools and “mark inflation,” because in high school, 80 is the new 70. Using the results of this test – in tandem with a student’s marks – would provide a much clearer picture of their strengths, weaknesses and best chances for success. It would inform the student of their best opportunities for success after graduation and ensure that demand pressures on colleges and universities comes from a real need for spaces, not blind ambition. Guidance councilors can do their part too. Some already do this, but to those who don’t: spend equal time on

Students of the near future: Don’t be afraid of college or apprenticeships. University is not “better” than college by any means. You cannot compare apples to oranges. They provide wonderful opportunities to learn a marketable skill. Even better, learn a trade! People don’t stop using bathtubs and toilets during a recession. Remember, we couldn’t have sent men to the moon without welders and fabricators to build the Saturn V. Although small class sizes are not going to happen any time soon, there are experiences that still make postsecondary education great. You’ll still have those moments with great friends and learning about yourself by living away from home. “School” is only a small part of your “education”. These moments happen to those in university, college or in an apprenticeship. It’s called being a young adult. If you’re still committed to university and if you still seek that personal touch, those grandiose visions of academe, get a masters degree or a PhD with a thesis and a supervisor. If you seek a job right out of school, go to college, get an apprenticeship, even consider the applied sciences or business. Another repercussion of all of these graduates – one that there is no policy solution for – is that my liberal arts degree now makes me a member of a cohort where the value of our labour is a dime-a-dozen. I’d be more than willing to talk to you about my paper. You’ll know me when you see me – I’ll be the cashier at your local grocery store who is eager to start up a conversation on market forces.


First, high schools in Ontario must institute

That said, I don’t see any of these changes happening in the foreseeable future. In the meantime…

74 Konekt

When I Was Your Age by Jason Collins

When I was your age all the world was a stage, We would dance and sing in so many ways. When I was your age we all had big dreams, We could do anything, even play for pro teams. When I was your age Teacher always gave praise, Professors gave 70, with parents easily amazed. When I was your age every week was a party, With no care for Monday, no deadline loomed largely. When I was your age you could do no wrong, Only slip and slide but still make it along. When I was your age life wasn’t so tough, With no great expectations, good friends were enough. When I was your age there was no ladder to climb, No status to hold, no position sublime. When I was your age‌

Konekt 75

Depressed? Don’t be. A little elementary poetry got you down? Cheer up! Too many lines strike a chord with you as a young twenty-something or new university/college grad? Well stop being a pessimist and start looking at the bright side of life!

However, the dream world fades quickly for those of us unprepared for its end. All of those years of hard work, sacrifice, all-nighters, earning experience in opportunities of management, leadership, or volunteering all come to an end when the truth is revealed. STOP.

Being a part of the throngs of hundreds of newly anointed graduates entering the worst economy and job market since the Great Depression isn’t easy, which gives us the inspiration (not to mention the time) to attempt witty or insightful poetry like the example above (with varying degrees of success).

I am a general arts student.

“It isn’t all bad” some might say, or a rehashed encouragement of “Stay focused, keep your head down, be positive,” as regurgitated by family and friends on a near daily basis, might be the optimist’s elixir of choice. Well y’know what mom and dad (or friend who’s working in the family business, or buddy who got a job before our exciting economic meltdown, or teacher who thought I could do anything or…insert your own example here), news flash: yes, it’s pretty bad, and no, I shouldn’t try to be happy about it. But this isn’t about me. I’ll be fine. I will survive. There are still jobs to be had and no doubt the economy is going to be gangbusters again in no time. No my friends, this isn’t about me and my problems…it’s about you.

So the system goes. Good grades aren’t hard to come by and there’s no shortage of teachers or mentors ready to lend a helping hand if you lose your way. You skip and swing your way from one achievement to the next, A+ to excellent effort, elementary graduation to outstanding award. In high school we were limited only by our appetite for drama and disobedience, but if these were brushed aside then the way was left clear for our continued surging potential. The lucky or exceptionally engaged among us even carved out a space for greater heights as class presidents, leadership candidates, scholarship recipients or valedictorians. With that we’d earned our seal of approval, our keys to the kingdom, and oh how sweet it was. As we enter university or college we are driven on by the well-wishes of our favourite teachers, our not so fortunate friends, or our beamingly proud family. Post-secondary education is the place where all of your dreams come true; where your unlimited potential meets un-ending possibility. And for most of us this is the case, as many a night among great friends and amazing experiences (with or with out the assistance of alcohol, costumes, or cover-alls) may attest. The first 80+ on a paper, the first big team victory, the unforgettable exchange or summer trip abroad, or the first truly special relationship all point to what our parents always said: these are the best years of our lives.

But wait, this is about you, right? Oh you, so young and full of hope. So many dreams and ambitions. Well if my musings have got you down, don’t fret. I enjoyed my post-secondary experience more than anything and wouldn’t change it for the world. Just prepare yourself. Have a plan. Know where you’re going. Know what you want and how you’re going to get there. Look for work early. Make connections. Work hard and with a little luck it’ll all pay off. (If you’re not up for this, drop what you’re doing now and take engineering, nursing, or pre-med…you’ll thank me later). Keep your head up champ, you can do and be anything, just don’t let the door to career services hit you on the way out. As for me and everyone in my shoes, we’ll get by. We’ve taken our knocks after rough nights of drinking or being caught unawares by that exam you totally should have studied for. If we made it through that we can make it through anything, right? After all, when I was your age I was President of my student council. When I was your age my teachers said that I was going to be Prime Minister. When I was your age I knew I could change the world.

The BA at the end of my name stands for Bad Ass and I’ll be damned if any recession is gonna hold me down… Hey, I hear Future Shop is hiring. It’s time to show the world what I’m made of!


See when I was your age, which could have been two, five, even ten years ago, things were different. The world as an aspiring university student was always a bright one. From kindergarten on through elementary and up into high school, we were bundles of limitless potential. We could do and be anything with the right amount of energy, hard work, and an ounce of intelligence.

The realization sinks in quickly as the years spent debating the validity of socialism, questioning the effects of urban sprawl, memorizing a list of Roman emperors, or challenging Nietzsche’s understanding of the universe all fade into insignificance. I’m almost mid-twenties, unemployed, with very little applicable experience as far as my education is concerned and with no employer willing to take a chance on me, more interested instead on cutting jobs to curb costs. Aren’t I way too young for a mid-life crisis? Oh wait that’s right, apparently this is so common our generation has invented a new phenomenon: the quarter-life crisis.

76 Konekt

DIY: Resisting the Rewind by Samantha Evans

Konekt 77

achieve it. The purchasing of self-help and DIY materials soothes our itch to learn about ourselves, while conveniently distracting us with a fun new hobby. Ironically, we buy these books, manuals and kits, written by others, in order to learn more about ourselves, to derive that intangible sense of accomplishment associated with “a job well done.” Wouldn’t it be wiser to consult a friend who knows how to play guitar, build a gingerbread house or sew a hem, rather than struggle solo, cursing as your object looks nothing like that in the picture? If art imitates life, than it is safe to say that our purchases imitate our (conscious or not) desires and notion of self-worth. Thus our culturally pervasive DIY methodology is birthed by our tumultuous emotions.

This nostalgic inclination to redo my glorious 22nd year made me more attune to what I have learned over the past 12 months. Did I absorb all the knowledge I possibly could, or should have? Despite the Beatles’ thoughts on the number one, I am content to live everything just once, for better or worse. Without the pitfalls of life, how would I ever know when I was happy? If we relived happiness our entire lives, how would we learn to sacrifice, compromise or relate to others’ misfortune—would we ever evolve to a higher state of being?

Toughing it out, suffering in silence, going it alone; our culture reinforces the belief that we must be an island in order to survive.

Once we eliminate the possibility of any Marty McFly time trickery, we are left with a completely plausible and effective substitute: Self reflection. It’s not the easiest of actions inflicted on oneself; self-pity, indulgence and criticism are significantly easier to engage in, but degrade the soul. Curiously, self-reflection is simultaneously selfish and selfless, benefitting everyone indirectly and oneself completely. Insight into the self banishes many social blunders; the more you understand your own thoughts and behaviours, the more likely you are to empathize with others, opening the floodgates of opportunity. Our generation (Gen Y) is oft referred to as the ‘Me Generation’ and while I think that it is unfair to paint a whole demographic with the same blasé brush, I fear that as a group,

we are becomingly increasingly self-centered and insular, more concerned with the next 10 minutes than the next 10 years. Interestingly, this occurs as we simultaneously become more globally intertwined, blogging about our outfits and breakfast contents to friends across town, country, and ocean. Why are we so willing to dissect the minutiae of our lives with anyone who will listen (and then some), while we are unable to reflect on the decisions and indecisions that comprise our lives? Unable to look within ourselves for guidance, we tend to look to others to tell us what we want or need, and how to

To quote John Donne, no (wo)man is an island. Indeed, islands are isolated, cut off from the mainland—without a decent ferry system they can become deserted altogether. If it is so risky to be an emotional isle, why do we continue to bury our heads beneath the sand and forge ahead, alone? What are we afraid of? This rampant emotional DIY speaks to a deeper humanistic phenomenon: our intense fear of commitment, which is in turn, a fear of rejection. Committing to a job we’re unsure we will like in 5 years, to a relationship, in case someone better comes along, to starting a family, when we are not yet “established”, and so forth. To make one decision is to not choose another; the opportunity cost of living inherently demands that we commit to some things while we simultaneously reject others. It is this opportunity cost (or rather, the opportunities lost) that we, the DIY generation is unable to comprehend, to consent to, to commit to. We recoil from reflecting on our choices because we fear what we may find—a series of poor decisions that have failed to achieve what we long for—and thus instead opt to buy a book on how to land the perfect mate. How do you find said mate? By living! Decisive action! Reflecting on decisions and evaluating their success. Whatever you do, do it emphatically. Pride and accomplishment will surely follow. There is not time for a hundred decisions and revisions, Mr. Prufrock. The time has come to act, to decide, to live life and all its follies. And live I shall, as an emboldened 23 year old, just this once.


As luck would have it, I will be turning yet another year older in a fraction of time, and as per usual, approach the occasion with mixed emotions. In the heat of the moment, I decided that ageing was unnecessary this year, and informed all of my beloved friends and Facebook invitees that we would be celebrating my second 22nd birthday this year, delaying 23 until further notice. What was the harm in reliving some great memories and delaying any more responsibility from landing on my lap, I thought. But as is often the case, I could not fool myself. Instead, I got to thinking: If I could relive a part of my life, would I really want to? What would be lost as a result? What would my life look like if, instead of learning from my mistakes and moving forward, I could rewind time and prevent myself from making them in the first place? There is definitely something amiss about reliving grand old times. It’s safe; it’s cowardice in the face of the murky future and yet it could be utterly dangerous.


80 Konekt

Tweeting Your Way

Through the Most Significant Revolution in the History of Mankind by Sean O’Loghlen

10,000 BC – inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent in Southwest Asia domesti-

cate cereals, ushering in an era of settled agriculture and transforming the lot of man from the precarious existence of a hunter-gatherer to a sedentary settlerfarmer. Population growth and the concomitant emergence of cities abound… the world is never the same.

1760s – Scottish mechanical engineer James Watt develops a steam engine.

Coupled with innovations in textile manufacturing and iron smelting, this advancement facilitates the mechanization of manufacturing in Great Britain, and later Europe and beyond, ushering in an era of rapid economic – and associated social, political, and cultural – change heretofore known as the Industrial Revolution… the world is never the same.

1943 – British scientist Tommy Flowers designs the world’s first electronic,

digital, programmable computing device – the Colossus computer. Used in the allied war effort to break communications ciphers used by Nazi Germany, its progeny will go on to be put towards countless uses, revolutionizing manifold industries within decades… the world is never the same.

I truly believe we are in the midst of what is perhaps the most significant revolution humanity has seen to date.

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This revolution has given us a myriad of technological marvels. Consider, for a moment, the digital camera – an improvement on a technology which technically predates this revolution, but nonetheless has been transformed by it. With the digital camera, you can capture a moment, save it electronically, and even edit/adjust it to suit your tastes. To someone who lived 500 years ago (a very short time on an astronomical, geological, or evolutionary scale, if not for an individual), something such as this would have been totally inconceivable. Paintings and woodcuts were the only things that could come close to capturing an image accurately – but by their nature such reproductions are subject to the inherent bias of the artist’s perspective as well as the natural limitations of the human hand to reproduce a scene 100% accurately. In the grand scheme of things, though, trinkets such as the digital camera are not all that important. Given what I said before, their significance with respect to improving the quality of life and standard of living is marginal compared to past innovations such as hot running water or the development of agricultural fertilizers – both of which predate our digital revolution. Rather, the importance of the digital revolution lies primarily in the way it has transformed the nature of communication and the flow of information. Through the interface of a computer screen – and increasingly other devices as well – it is possible to access the internet, a massive system of linked computer networks. The Internet, in turn, hosts the World Wide Web, a veritable panoply of hypertext pages linked together containing vast amounts of information. To a seasoned veteran of the Internet such as yourself, it seems a little simplistic and childish when I explain it in such a manner. But put it in a historical context then the Internet truly is an incredible accomplishment –200 years ago it would have taken a message 6 months to travel from Europe to reach India. Today it wouldn’t take 6 minutes. The implications of this revolution are far reaching and can have ramifications in the fields of politics, economics and medicine, to name a few. From a political vantage point, consider this. States such as China and Iran can do their best to monitor, filter and track, but it is difficult in this day and age for a state to hermetically seal itself off from the rest of the world. The internet provides access to information and affords peo-

ple the opportunity to educate themselves and communicate with like-minded individuals. The recent election unrest in Iran saw protestors utilizing facebook and twitter and – when the Iranian government shut these websites down – proxies of these websites. It is easy for cunning despots to hold power over great masses of people who remain uneducated and divided. In the internet, though, there is the opportunity for people to organize, to come together, to educate one another, and to resist injustice and oppression with a concerted and informed outlook on an unprecedented scale. Furthermore, when the state responds to their calls for democracy and freedom with brutality and oppression, they can capture images of such abuses and transmit them out of the country for the rest of the world to see. Since the end of the Second World War totalitarian dictatorships have been losing ground to free and open democracies globally. Perhaps the Internet will come to play an integral role in obviating the remaining autocracies. With respect to economics, consider the impact that the faster flow of information has on the volatility of commodity prices. If news stories appear online of an attack on gas pipelines in Iraq, the price of a barrel of oil will likely spike within hours. Furthermore, the development of comprehensive computer networks is helping things move in the direction of a paperless society, facilitating moneyless transactions through credit and debit cards. This, in turn, is just one of the many ways computer systems are enabling the integration of global financial systems, accelerating the process of globalization that is increasingly linking together economies across the planet. These linkages have many good as well as a few bad effects, however – the latter exemplified by a subprime mortgage crisis that started in the United States and quickly mushroomed into a global financial meltdown. In addition, computer software can be utilized to analyze massive amounts of information, an invaluable trait when it comes to devising new economic models. Such software is capable of processing data and computations on a scale that would impress even savants such as Newton and Leibniz, could they see it today. Indeed powerful statistical software will go far in improving our knowledge of how economies function and how to better manage them. Such software is invaluable to a plethora of other fields as well, among them medicine. When put to analyzing clinical and research data, computers can help us elucidate important trends and determine which drugs and treatments are effective, and which are not, or which demographic subgroups are at risk for particular medical conditions, and which are not. The integration of computers into medical equipment also yields increasingly sophisticated monitoring and diagnostic tools, with more precise measures looking at an ever-growing breadth of clinically-significant variables. Also important is a trend which is even sweeping the hospitals in Kingston – that is, the “electronification” of medical records. This is helpful in ensuring the completeness of medical records – especially for patients who might move between hospitals, clinics or family practices. It’s important because it helps to ensure that physicians and nurses don’t miss


Textbooks we read and study from speak of agricultural revolutions, industrial revolutions, French & American revolutions… but I am talking about the digital revolution. This revolution is relatively young and – given the pace of technological change, with new iterations of the latest electronic devices coming out seasonally – still in full swing. Beginning in the 1940s with the first computers, the revolution accelerated in the late 1970s and early 1980s as advancements allowed for the mass production of personal computers. Around the same time cell phones would appear, and a few years later we saw the emergence of the internet and the associated World Wide Web.

Konekt 83

important notes on allergies, underlying medical conditions or the like when considering treatment modalities to administer to a patient. The field of medicine, in turn, is inextricably linked to the quality of life in a country, and improvements here will be felt almost everywhere else. Consider the link with economics – the healthy worker can work longer and harder than the chronically ill one.

I’m sure it has even affected the way you’ve read my article – given the fact that Internet literate persons typically skim what they read, jumping to key phrases and sentences, and perhaps not even reading a composition in its entirety before moving on. It probably becomes an innate response for the person who becomes inundated with so much information now available courtesy of the World Wide Web. This point also underscores the fact that, like any other major shift, there is both the good and the bad. With shifting reading and writing patterns (communication via text messaging, for instance, favours brevity and truncation to an extent that would make any student of the English language cringe) there is also the large amount of material available on the internet that is of a morally questionable and reprehensible nature.

Truly, though, things are converging into a global village, as the esteemed Canadian thinker Marshall McLuhan prognosticated. Yet the more interconnected we grow, the more reliant we become on one another, and the more necessary those connections in turn become. Furthermore, there is less room for the vices of racism, prejudice, malice and hatred if the denizens of this planet are to continue to co-operate out of mutual self-interest. Perhaps, then, this digital revolution can potentiate change on another level.


Indeed, the digital revolution truly is an all-encompassing one, with reverberations felt in almost every facet of life.


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Konekt 85

Bye, We’ll Chat by Celine Song

I can still talk to you, if I wanted to. It is really easy, because with a few clicks I can post on your facebook wall and send you tweets.

Your physical presence will be reduced to a ring tone on my cell phone, an icon on my screen, and a series of letters with emoticons to replace the familiar flashes of emotions around your mouth and eyes. But that’s okay, because I can still talk to you and that’s what matters. We can still tell each other everything and complain about movies and music and people we love and people we don’t really like. We can still ‘haha’ and ‘lol’ together. But I am bawling my eyes out anyway. It’s not the end of the world, obviously, and your existence in my two-dimensional life is nothing to be sad about. In fact, having the option to hear your voice is way better than not having that option at all. And as a loud and proud technophile I have absolutely no qualms about compromising your presence this way (technically, anyway), because the mere fact that I can be in touch with you thousands of miles away is an awesome miracle for which I am very grateful. Fifty years ago it was really difficult to keep in contact with someone whom had moved away. A hundred years ago it was even more difficult. Two hundred years ago, it was downright impossible. So trust me when I say that I am grateful. But still I mourn it, and you, in spite of everything.

Not because I am sad about “the end of human intimacy without technology as the medium” or whatever it is those old farts make a fuss over. Rather, I am dressed in black because you leaving like this marks the end of something so delicate and perfectly invisible, I can’t even properly argue for its existence. I mourn this because it is a dead silent, motionless end of you as a physical being – as someone who breathes the same air as

I do and suffers the same awful weather with me and drags my drunk ass to a beer joint where we would drink from the same pint. And I mourn the inevitability of such an exit. I mourn how easily we have to let each other go (because we are good friends and good friends happily accept that each other’s futures are sometimes thousands of miles away), and how we have to do it lightheartedly (because it’s not that big a deal, remember? we can still stay in touch via facebook and twitter and tumblr and msn and skype et cetera). I am upset about these unceremonious and calm “I-am-flying-out-tomorrow” chats with you. I cry over these byes and “will facebook you!” and “message me!” and “we’ll keep in touch” and “will visit you” and “let me know when you are back in town (if you are ever back in town)” and awkward hugs just before we turn our backs to each other. And it tears me apart that once we say adieu, you become intangible (physically absent) and only here in spirit (mentally, verbally, and emotionally present). You deathlessly become a ghost and haunt me (and when I see you years down the road, it will feel like you are resurrected from the dead). Of course, I think it is most wonderful that you can venture so far and wide in life and yes, of course, we can and will still hold hands virtually. But I must be stupid and blind to all these fantastic options (unimaginable merely a few years past) or something, because I am still mourning. Saying bye still makes my eyes runny. Visit Celine’s blog at or email her at


I say bye (or see ya, later, talk to you soon, take care, see you around) and you say bye too – but I don’t believe the words coming out of my mouth, because I can still call you and message you and text you and webcam you and skype you.


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Konekt Issue 2  

Winter 2010

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