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19

{KONEKT} inspiration for an enlightened generation

interviews with: author of

life of pi

Yann Martel

has the nhl gone too far?

beatirice & virgil

Running in Heels

talks about his new book

artist

winnie truong

author of Puff

Bob flaherty

music

The girls can hear us!

03

How green is recycling?

From tourist to traveller short story

Leroy kills himself


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ON THE COVER 19

{KONEKT}

70 YANN MARTEL

The author of the Life of Pi speaks about his latest work, Beatrice & Virgil, and considers the relevance of animals in fiction.

inspiration for an enlightened generation

interviews with: author of

life of pi

Yann Martel

talking about his new book

beatirice & virgil

artist

winnie truong

author of Puff

Bob flaherty

music

The girls can hear us!

03

has the nhl gone too far?

64 WINNIE TRUONG

The artist, whose larger-than-life exhibition is taking viewers by storm, offers an inner look into the art of statements.

How green is recycling? Running in Heels From tourist to traveller short story

Leroy kills himself

58 BOB FLAHERTY

A reflection on his cleverly written memoir, a plethora of odd jobs and what’s next for the author of Puff.

60 THE GIRLS CAN HEAR US!

The boys of The Girls Can Hear Us let us in on their life of tours and blurry mornings.

22 Has The NHL gone too far?

How, in the midst of racing for the puck and the big bucks, NHL lost sight of the very spirit of hockey.

55 HOW GREEN IS RECYCLING?

The 3 R’s may be a well known pitch, but it’s conserving that will give Green a new meaning.

19 RUNNING IN HEELS

Why women can wear six-inch Louboutins but can’t compete with the well-shined loafers of their male colleagues.

20 FROM TOURIST TO TRAVELLER

One writer’s experience of Europe and the tourist industry that the search for self discovery has spurned.

82 LEROY KILLS HIMSELF The curious case of a morbid pastime.

What Is This Bar Code?

Scan it and find out! Here is how...

1. To download the free application, go to getscanlife.com or visit your smartphone’s app store and search for ‘scanlife’. 2. Open the ScanLife app on your phone. This will activate its camera. 3. The bar code should fill about half the screen. It will either scan automatically or you’ll need to take a picture of it. 4. Wait for exciting information to pop up. If it doesn’t, go to scanlife.com to troubleshoot or email support@scanlife.com.


CONTENTS Culture & society

16 19 20 22 24 27

Prince of Pot: the Story of a Political Prisoner—Jim Cavill Running in Heels—Jennie Guay From Tourist to Traveller—Jaela E. Bernstien Playing the Name Game—Nathan Martin Standing the Gaff: A Brief History of Direct Action from a Small Island—J.E. Coole Can The Next Carrie Bradshaw Please Stand Up?—Haley Cullingham

32 34 37 39

Missed Connections—Joshua Michelson What’s on Your Mind?—Mary Armstrong New Media and Canadian Politics: Future Brothers in Arms?—Joanna Adams Fox News North: one more reason to move to Norway—Amanda Ferguson

Opinions

Global issues 42 46 50 55

How The West Lost its Way—Sean O’Loghlen Disarming a Major “What If ”: The Looming Threat of a Nuclear Iran—Jason Wiseman When Will the Chinese Government Learn to Tolerate its Own Citizens?—Erin MacFarlane How Green is Recycling?—Kate Jeffery

58 60 64 70 74 82

Smokeshow—Alice Greenberg Confessions of an Electro Ho Virtuoso—Ally Hall Portrait of the Artist: Winnie Truong— Jennifer K Mann The Jungle Book—Alice Greenberg Sunday Best - Hannah Sider & Sarah Blais *thirty9steps” Leroy Kills Himself—Jeff Fraser

Arts


Greg Black, Queen’s University Photographer

Where do ideas that change the world come from?

Where science fiction becomes medical fact                            Queen’s            

CREATE AN IMPACT To learn more about Queen’s Graduate Studies, or to apply, visit www.queensu.ca/sgs


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MASTHEAD Publishers: Editor in Chief: Art Director:

Jeffrey Howard (jeffrey@konekt.ca) Neil Martin (neil@konekt.ca) Alice Greenberg (alice@konekt.ca) Jennifer K Mann (jen@konekt.ca)

Associate Editors: Joanna Adams, Jaela Bernstien, Amanda Ferguson Copywriting: Tony To Special Advisers: S. Evan Bellam, Devin Knowles, Nikolai Martchenkov Contributors: Mary Armstrong, Sarah Blais, Jim Cavill, J.E. Coole, Haley Cullingham, Jennie Guay, Ally Hall, Kate Jeffery, Erin MacFarlane, Nathan Martin, Joshua Michelson, Sean O’Loghlen, Hannah Sider, Jason Wiseman Artwork: Jennifer K. Mann Photo credits: Tyler Briggs (Running in Heels: Legs), David K Chang (Shanghi), Shaun De Sagun (Iran: KL Tower), Sri Nagubandi (Standing the Gaff: Cape Breton Highlands National Park), Jennifer K Mann (TGCHU!). Director of Sales & Marketing: Neil Martin National Account Manager: Jeffrey Howard Events & Marketing: Kingston - Graham Turner, Jason Rocky London - Mike Perrow Ottawa - Mariano DeMarinis, May Mustapha Waterloo - Josh Bauman, Rory Bradd Chief Web Architect: Rares Crisan Web Design: Jennifer K. Mann Video Production: James Boyd Printing: Dollco Printing Special Thanks to our Amazing Sponsors: Cameo, Canadian Youth Business Foundation, Chez Piggy Restaurant, Covent Garden Market, Elysium Nightclub, Felicity & Fritz, Gozen Bistro - Sushi & Grill, Kantina Cafe & Restaurant, King West, Mansion, Modern Fuel Gallery, Pan Chancho Bakery, Queen’s University Campus Computer Store, Queen’s University Graduate Studies, Robert Macklin Gallery, Spot Nightclub, Sterling, Tango, Tila Tequila, Toucan, University of Western Ontario Graduate Studies, Zappas Lounge Copyright (c) 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. Subscription inquiries call (613) 539-7648, email subscribe@konekt.ca or write Konekt Magazine, P.O. Box 1153, Kingston, ON, K7L 4Y5. Subscription Rates: Single copy $5.95. Per year $18.95. U.S. $38.95 (CAD), Foreign $63.95 (CAD). Konekt Magazine is published four times a year, in September, November, January and March. ISSN 1923-8347.

Published by OmniCentra Media Inc. P.O. Box 1153, Kingston, ON K7L 4Y5 t. 613.539.7648. e. hello@konekt.ca www.konekt.ca


LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHERS/ When we decided to start Konekt in June of 2009, the question we heard over and over again was: Do students really have that much to say? The concern was that submissions from university students would not be of high enough quality to fill an entire magazine (we were denied funding by one agency in particular based solely on that idea). Believing strongly that this was far from the truth, we set out to create a magazine that would give students a platform to showcase their talent. We knew that our campus was overflowing with ideas and inspiration, but that an outlet was needed to express it. Konekt would be that outlet. When “Issue 1” hit Queen’s campus in September of 2009, the response was overwhelming. Students from all over Canada began sending in their work, excited to share ideas with their peers. It became clear that students do indeed have a lot to say, and we found ourselves faced with a new question: Why did this not exist before? Over the past twelve months, Konekt has quickly matured from from a small, single campus publication to a 92 page quarterly, available on campuses in Kingston, London, Ottawa and Waterloo. We can now proudly say that Konekt is Canada’s largest inter-university magazine! Our goal is to see Konekt on campuses coast-to-coast and, with your continued support, there is no doubt we can achieve this. We want to sincerely thank everyone on the Konekt team for their incredible passion and dedication to this project. And to everyone who has endeavored to share their original work with us - this magazine truly belongs to you. Sincerely,

Jeffrey Howard, Co-founder Publisher

Neil Martin Co-founder Publisber


DO YOU HAVE A PASSION for writing? art? photography?

SUBMIT YOUR WORK

to: inspiration@konekt.ca AND HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD

ON CAMPUSES ACROSS THE COUNTRY!

VISIT

WWW.KONEKT.CA FOR DETAILS.


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR/ Someone once told me that it was John Updike who, in a much pending interview with the Paris Review, said that letters are originally just little pictures. This, I thought, was an interesting statement from an illustrator-turned-author—a man whose alternate career choice was to be a Disney animator. True, we read everything from news to Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest fiction piece, with our morning coffee, on our Blackberry or in the hands of a near-by stranger on the train. But the art itself, stringing words together and creating something raw, vivid and thought provoking—those subtle undertones are often forgotten. Writing, as an art or as a mode of communication, is unequivocally deep: it has to ask the right questions, propose the right answers, and entertain its reader all in the same few minutes of a given attention span (Shakespeare did this through iambic pentameter, while Updike stuck to his own blend of wit and nostalgia). Writing is no longer just a block of letters—it’s highlighted by the appearance of podcasts, saturated photography and an ever-growing interactive component. Judging a book by its cover has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Like Updike hinted, writing is more than a dictation of the latest news or the review of a good Basketball game (see: Bill Simmons on pretty much any sport)—it’s an extension topics into a critical sphere. We, on our end, tried to combine the best writing, with some of the most interesting topics in popular culture. We kept up writers, photographers and graphic designers until obscene hours and for absolutely no pay—and like Updike’s early career ambitions, we played with words in order to create images. And in this saturated mass of information, between the lines and carefully edited paragraphs and glossy pages, we tried to remember the everlasting appeal of books with pictures.

Alice Greenberg, Editor-in-chief


Prince of pot: the story of a political prisoner Running in heels

From Tourist to Traveller Playing the name game Standing the Gaff

Can The Next Carrie Bradshaw Please Stand Up?


Culture & society


Prince of Pot: the story of a political prisoner/ Jim Cavill

konekt

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“During the entire duration of his seed business, Marc never left the country and operated exclusively from Canada. However, the Conservative Government of Canada, in an attempt to make an example out of Emery, refused to allow him to serve his sentence domestically and ordered him to be extradited to the US to serve his sentence abroad.” Marc Scott Emery. Do you recognize the name? If it rings a bell, it should. Emery has been Canada’s most public marijuana activist for over two decades. Dubbing himself Canada’s ‘Prince of Pot,’ Marc has been committed to undermining the prohibition of marijuana and the criminalization of its users; he is now one of Canada’s most famous political prisoners. Before he became the Prince, Marc Emery was just a driven kid with a lot of conviction. At 17, he dropped out of high school to buy a bookstore in downtown London, Ontario, called the City Lights Book Store, which he ended up operating for 17 years. Not long after opening the store, Emery became politically active. He lobbied against the London Downtown Business Association for demanding mandatory fees for the area’s beautification. He openly defied existing laws which demanded that he close his store on Sundays, eventually causing him to spend four days in jail. At 20, he became Canada’s youngest vasectomy patient (the non-reversible form of the operation, no less). The activism that Emery engaged in was wide-ranging, his stubbornness and sincerity boundless. Marc’s marijuana-related career began in 1991, immediately after receiving a year’s probation for selling copies of rap group 2 Live Crew’s “Nasty As They Wanna Be,” which was banned in Ontario. Emery made it his business to sell marijuana-related literature, which at the time was illegal in Canada. Emery invited the police to arrest him for this activity and even sold copies of High Times Magazine on the steps of the London police station. The police, on their part, refused to charge him, indicating that these laws were perhaps no longer seriously enforced. Emery moved to Vancouver, BC in 1994 and quickly opened a store called Hemp BC. His store sold various marijuana paraphernalia and literature, the former of which remains illegal under Canadian law. His open defiance of the law inspired others to open their own ‘head shops’ and many attribute their tolerated status as being a direct result of Emery’s influence. In 1995, the Prince started selling marijuana seeds by mail-order through his marijuana lifestyle magazine, Cannabis Culture. He paid taxes for his income from the business and sent an issue of the magazine, complete with a seed catalogue, to every Canadian Member of Parliament for over 12 years. His actions repeatedly provoked the Canadian Law Enforcement to respond accordingly. Emery himself proudly declared that he had been arrested 23 times and jailed 17, “all for activism; nothing unsavory.” From 1996 to 1998, Emery was repeatedly charged for selling marijuana seeds and had his business raided by Canadian police. However, for the most part, from 1998 to 2005

his actions were ignored or arguably tolerated by Canadian officials. He did, after all, pay over $580,000 in taxes from his seed business from 1999 to 2005. Besides, at the time, there were only three legal precedents for selling marijuana seeds in Canada and the verdicts for the guilty parties convicted of selling cannabis seeds in Canada ranged from a $200 fine to a month in prison. So the Prince continued to do business—good business. He decided from the inception of his seed business that he would use the profits to fund various marijuana activist groups all over the world, mainly in the United States and Canada. What was the Prince of Pot’s plan? In his own words: “To spread the seeds of freedom; to overgrow the government.” His seed catalogue was successful and did business all over the world through normal mail—and that’s when the DEA stepped in. On July 29th, 2005, the Drug Enforcement Agency, in partnership with the RCMP, raided Marc Emery’s business and charged him and two of his employees, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams, for the international trafficking of marijuana. However, the day of the arrest, it became clear that the DEA’s motivation was not based on Marc’s actual crime, but rather on the organizations he was funding. The following is DEA Administrator Karen Tandy’s official press release issued on the day of Emery’s arrest: “Today’s DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group -- is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. “His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today. Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets -- one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.” Emery channeled almost every cent he made into various activism groups around the world, over $4,000,000 by his count, which in turn drove the DEA up the wall. The ‘War on Drugs’ is a major industry in the US and a whopping proportion of incarcerated Americans are in jail on drug charges. The American Drug War has cultivated sensational drug laws and the sale of marijuana seeds carries prison time in most states. Emery and his compatriots originally faced fantastic sentences of 30 years in jail, with the possibility of life.


/ 17 society

& culture konekt

The charges against Rainey and Williams were later dropped and Emery negotiated with US officials to serve a sentence of 5 years in a Canadian jail. During the entire duration of his seed business, Marc never left the country and operated exclusively from Canada. However, the Conservative Government of Canada, in an attempt to make an example out of Emery, refused to allow him to serve his sentence domestically and ordered him to be extradited to the US to serve his sentence abroad. The Prince of Pot spent the summer of 2009, his last summer of freedom, on a national ‘Farewell Tour,’ in which he went from city to city rallying his supporters and urging them to take action against unjust laws and, among other tasks, ousting the Conservative Government from power. Emery, aware that his time in Canada was likely coming to an end, expressed himself in aremarkably stoic manner. In a video message to his supporters shot hours before being taken to North Fraser Penitentiary in BC, Emery declared that he is not sad about his incarceration, but rather excited that so many more Canadians will know and witness another individual victimized by drug prohibition. He has said “I don’t feel bad about anything. I won’t be repentant. I won’t be apologizing to any judge. My only regret is that I couldn’t do more.” Marc Scott Emery was extradited to the United States on May 20, 2010 by the Canadian government. He is currently incarcerated in SeaTac Federal Detention Centre in Seattle. Marc and his wife, fellow activist Jodie Emery, encourage their supporters to contact Minister of

Public Safety Vic Toews to politely request that Marc be transferred back to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence at home. They are adamant that since Marc’s crime was committed in Canada, the Canadian Government should handle his incarceration and sentencing. Mr. Toews can be reached here: The Hon. Vic Toews Parliament Hill Suite 306, HC Justice Building Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Furthermore, you can write to Marc Emery to let him know what you’re doing to help him here (you must include a return address): Marc Scott Emery #40252-086 Unit DB FDC SeaTac PO Box 13900 Seattle, WA 98198-1090 USA Love him or hate him, Marc Emery has remained boldly committed to the cessation of marijuana prohibition for over 20 years. If you know someone who smokes pot, or if, (heaven forbid, you occasionally indulge yourself, remember to thank Marc Emery for blazing the trail.


Running in Heels/ Jennie Guay

Having to watch our words, in fear that we may be too aggressive for our male counterparts, is simply not good enough. Having to fear being alone because every man we have come in contact with since the fifth grade feels emasculated by our strength and ambition, is simply not good enough. We, as women, feel comfortable in our current social standing, a position that was fought for by many females before us. We have grown comfortable with the progress we have made and have fooled ourselves into thinking this war has been won. What our generation has failed to realize is that with progress come new battles. To be comfortable in our current socio-political standing is a dangerous position to be in. Are we setting ourselves up to live a life from a Margaret Atwood novel? If we don’t keep pushing on, will we pull ourselves back into obscurity? As far as we have come as a marginalized sector of North American society, we still have miles to walk (and in fabulous stilettos all the while). When did we stop fighting? When was the battle won? How have we fooled ourselves into thinking equality is upon us? Why are we willing to accept a second rate deal in life, when we would refuse a second rate business deal? From the mid-1800s to the 1980s, Feminism was alive and well. From Simone de Beauvoir, to Gloria Steinem to Margret Atwood, women have been fighting the “good fight” for centuries. They trailblazed through decades of socio-political and economic injustice so that we could one day live free of the patriarchal clutches that suffocated women for so long. Gloria Steinem, a Second Wave feminist who was a trail-blazer for North American women for most of her adult life, was instrumental in social progress during the latter portion of the 20th century. She has been quoted saying, “[a] woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” and “[a] liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after”. In the 1970s these were radical statements. They were statements

Contrary to popular belief, by the end of 1990s the marginalization of women had not disappeared—it merely reinvented itself. What our generation of women fails to acknowledge is that the times have indeed changed, but so have the rules. You can certainly have a career, but if you make more money than your boyfriend, you may find yourself looking for a new one. You can be the president of a publicly listed company, but that won’t make you immune to the sexual stereotyping you will receive from potential investors. To be a married working woman is an asset, but to be a single career woman and pregnant is a liability. The glass ceiling still remains and yet where have all the Feminists gone? Perhaps they have retired and hung up their battle shields. Or perhaps they are like me and have yet to figure out the complex duality of being a feminist while living in the realm of corporate America. Can the two identities co-exist? Can we find synergies between Feminism and the socio-political? In order to regain our ground and assert our position within this world, it is required that this generation of women begin where our fore sisters left off. We must continue challenging norms and social systems. We must begin actively pursuing the Fourth Wave. We must have vision and with that vision, we must take the initiative to change the rules. While we have mastered the art of working nine-hour work days in five inch heels, we have yet to secure the six-figure pay cheque we so earnestly deserve.

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The eruption of ‘Girl Power’ in the 1990s, which can arguably be described as the end of the Third Wave, bombarded girls and women alike with images and messages promising that times had changed. We believed that if we worked, studied and tried hard enough we could do and be anything: from a doctor, a lawyer, a Pulitzer Prize winner or a CEO. But what the Spice Girls, En Vogue and Beyonce have failed to tell us was that with all that female empowerment came a new set of challenges. Yes, you can make your own money, be your own boss, own your sexuality and be a single mother all while bouncing your booty in a fabulous pair of Christian Louboutins, but do not expect men to be enthusiastic or even respectful of your accomplishments. What the immersion of ‘Girl Power’ did was opened the flood gates to a decade of new double standards and questions: “When women are empowered does that mean men become powerless?”

culture

that were deemed aggressive, offensive and unladylike. Today these statements are givens—factual portrayals of how most North American women live their lives today. Gloria Steinem did not just break the glass ceiling—the cage that has historically held women captive—she smashed right through it and its four walls.

konekt

During a time when women wear titles like CEO, CFO, MD, PhD, YSL and D&G, it’s now more critical than ever to examine the other labels often associated with being a woman. With the questioning of social norms and the ongoing social fight against sexism, the socio-political surface of women in the workplace is still as turbid as ever. Somewhere between the Third Wave Feminist Movement and the new millennium, we lost our stride; we stopped moving. Indeed women have made great strides within the corporate sphere and within the home, but in an effort to strengthen our position at work we have lost our social momentum. We have been so busy catching up to our male counterparts that we have neglected the importance of challenging and questioning social gender imbalances. Why is it that women can run a Fortune 500 company, but can’t have sex on the first date? Why is it that when we command a room we are told to act smaller, but when a male colleague asserts his presence he is given a pat on the back?

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“you can certainly have a career, but if you make more money than your boyfriend, you may find yourself looking for a new one.”


From tourist to traveller/ “We pledge to absorb all the culture, art and wisdom of old Europe, but we ask for the English version and complain when the waiters do not speak our language.”

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Jaela E. Bernstien

Where are you from? Vancouver, she says. I study her. Like a true college backpacker, she sips beer on the platform while waiting for the train. Her hair is flat ironed and her makeup smoothly applied. Her boyfriend carries both their sacks, one on his front and one on his back. Have we been staying in hostels too? Mostly camping, I reply, pointing to the tent. She eyes my bag - half the size of hers. I had to bring extra clothing, she says, explaining she’s been travelling through different climates. I nod and wish her a fun trip.

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Every summer we, the priviledged Canadian twenty-somethings, migrate abroad to expand our horizons, sleep in filthy hostels, fall in love (or lust?) and hopefully experience life-altering epiphanies. We imagine ourselves walking through Van Gogh’s paintings - eating at the very same coffee shop he illustrated, seeing the house where he rented an apartment. We arrive with our backpacks, exhausted and sweaty; we snap photos and skim read the posted information. We pledge to absorb all the culture, art and wisdom of old Europe, but we ask for the English version and complain when the waiters do not speak our language. We are quick to spew hate for globalized corporate capitalism in our liberal arts classes, but we don’t hesitate to medicate our homesickness with a heavy dose of European McDonald’s or Starbucks.

We find real satisfaction not in the museums or art, but in buying the perfect Euro-style outfit; something that says “I’m bohemian and free-spirited”. We hope that Europe will inspire us. After a couple late nights at the pub with our international dormmates, we realize everyone’s looking for the same thing. The Aussies, the Japanese, the French, the Irish we’re all just frustrated young adults with useless degrees, searching for meaning in a foreign country.

spending cash. The key is having the mindset of a traveller, rather than that of a tourist. A tourist visits the Louvre because it is recommended in their guidebook. They head straight for the Mona Lisa and line up to take her picture - proof they have been abroad and seen great things. A tourist never pauses to think and reflect. What is so powerful about the Mona Lisa? Am I impressed by this painting because I appreciate its artistry, or is the painting’s fame that draws me? A traveller, however, critically analyses museum pieces rather than simply admires their antiquity. A traveller might visit the Louvre’s website ahead of time to learn that the central motif of the Mona Lisa is thought to be happiness, and that her soft smile and what it suggests remains a subject of debate. A tourist takes a hike into the Swedish Alps and hears the clanging sound of mountain goat bells in the distance. A traveller lives on a farm for a week or two and learns the nomadic rhythms of a shephard and the tranquility of life in the mountains. A tourist’s image of France is composed of destinations on a tour bus: Paris, Normandy, Nice and Marseille. But a traveller knows there is a small, mountain village close to the Italian border, where you can find a chapel whose walls are covered with unrestored murals painted in the 15th century.

As students, we should be making every effort to be the traveller and not the tourist. While few among us fit all the categorizations of the thoughtless backpacker, we can certainly identify with some of these traits.

Our degrees have taught us to think critically, yet we often forget to take that skill outside the classroom. Instead of taking the tour guide’s schpeel as gold, we must dissect what we hear. A history major, for We claim to be vagabond backpackers, but sometimes we’re searching instance, might note that the celebrated beauty of the renaissance palaces also represents the extreme poverty of the working class. for nothing less than a postcard perfect vacation. Eurotrippers often make the mistake of trying to fit countries and cultures into snapshots. France becomes the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. England is Buckingham Palace and Stonehenge. But to fully appreciate another culture we need more than a guide book and

Many of us have returned to school this fall after a month or several abroad. As we share our photos with friends and exchange stories, we should also take a moment to reflect. Did we immerse ourselves in the cultures we visited, or did we simply take a snapshot?


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Playing the name game/ Nathan Martin

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In an effort to market the game south of the border, has the National Hockey League gone too far? It’s no secret that when it comes to the United States and their love affair with professional sports, hockey doesn’t exactly push for the podium finish. Shadowed by juggernauts like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NASCAR, making the NHL appealing to Americans is a daunting task. With several NHL expansion teams experimenting and failing in American markets (take for instance Oakland, Kansas City, Atlanta, Hartford or Seattle), as well as struggling franchises in Phoenix and Florida, the NHL has been forced to rethink its strategy. The league has even tried moving successful Canadian franchises out of Quebec City and Winnipeg in order to place teams in Colorado and Phoenix—but while the U.S. holds the wallets, Canada clearly holds the passion. After the season was locked out in 2004-2005, the NHL knew that it would have to come out swinging if there was any chance of capturing the American sports market. However, the lockout had created a unique situation: due to the fact that play had been stopped for a year, there were twice as many rookies ready to make their debuts. The two biggest names on this long list were Canadian (Sidney Crosby) and Russian (Alexander Ovechkin). The league saw these players as golden tickets and, seemingly overnight, took a game traditionally prided on its humble athletes and team systems and sent it into a Hollywood era of individual hockey superstars.

Russians with slicked blonde hair the new superstar look. This makes names like Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik and Henrik Zetterberg extremely marketable. Sure, nobody can pronounce them, but that makes the appeal that much stronger. Specifically, it was crucial to market superstars in U.S. cities that lacked the hockey history of cities like Boston, New York, Chicago and, coincidentally, Pittsburgh. What Alexander Ovechkin means to the city of Washington is comparable to what LeBron meant to the city of Cleveland. Positively Cleveland, a tourism group within the city, estimated that each home game brought $3.7 million in revenue, or $150 million over a season. LeBron’s celebrity appeal was able to effectively mobilize a previously apathetic fan base. Similarly, the average Washington Capitals fan probably couldn’t name the coach, starting goalie or any player on defense, but they wear their Ovechkin jersey to work on game days. “By God Matthews, am I ever jazzed up over Ovy’s game tonight— should be a dandy.”

The impact of the NHL’s new marketing tactics on youth has been colossal. By offering the choice of Crosby or Ovechkin as role models to young athletes, the league is covered across the board. Crosby is the born-to-be best player in the game today. He interviews like a robot and scores goals that nobody has any business scoring. He’s easy on the eyes and was the youngest captain in the NHL. Ovechkin is the Geico caveman who couldn’t speak a word of English but wouldn’t refuse an interview. His speed is unmatched and, in his first The main goal of the NHL at this point was to sell the superstar play- year of play, he might have had a better highlight reel than that of ers to prospective American audiences, rather than shove the game any other superstar’s first decade. in their faces. Let’s be honest—though it’s hard to admit, but hockey isn’t the easiest game to watch on television. It’s not difficult to see Kids are generally split on who they like more, but chances are if you how pushing 10 players onto a chunk of ice, slapping blades to their love one you can’t stand the other. People love Ovechkin because he feet, and letting them smash each other around until someone puts a plays the game full tilt, no stops until he drops. People love Crosby piece of rubber past the Michelin man might seem absurd. because he’s professional and humble, and was stronger at 18 than most men are at 30. Those who hate on Crosby don’t like his whiney For Canadians and avid hockey fans, this genuinely sounds like the attitude and thus move on to simply hate his face in general. For only sensible sport, but for Americans—in particular, for those used those who hate Ovechkin, it’s simply because he’s cocky as hell and to watching slow tempo sports like baseball, or stop-and-go play doesn’t play by anybody’s rules—not even his own. moves (think NFL), hockey just doesn’t add up. Players are constantly skating back and forth. Sometimes there are 10 players on the These sensational marketing techniques result in a fury of passion ice and sometimes one team has five players and the other team has for star players—they become commodities. Ticket prices skyrocket three. “Wait, so they’re out of the game? Just for two minutes? Yeah I when Sid the Kid comes to town, and teams like Phoenix or Nashthink the Greater Oakland Roller Derby is on ESPN8 ‘The Ocho’.” ville, who generally have trouble filling their building to half capacity, sell out in minutes. It’s important to remember that the twelve-yearThis is precisely why the NHL shifted its focus from selling the game old living in Scottsdale, Arizona has never watched a full 60-minute itself and put all its steam behind its shiny new superstars. Now, they game, but wears his Crosby jersey in the bathtub. let the fans see what these amazing hockey players can do with the puck, and the intricacies of the game won’t matter. It’s pretty easy to By taking the best players in the game and turning them into celebrisell Ovechkin dangling through two defensemen, falling, flipping on ties, the NHL is getting the best of both worlds. They get to sell the his back and somehow sliding the puck into the net. It doesn’t matter game itself to loyal Canadians, and then turn around and sell ‘Crosby if you’re only hot for bull riding—amazing moves will never cease vs. Ovechkin’ to American fans. Similar to how the UFC is able to amaze, and sensationalizing the game will divert attention (and to sell ‘Liddell vs. Ortiz’, or any fight of that magnitude, the NHL money) from where it’s well needed. uses head-to-head match-ups as a tactic to draw more attention to the game itself. Not only is the audience going to see Toronto play To spice things up, the NHL has also decided to put the spotlight Calgary, but they’re seeing Phil Kessel go up against Jarome Iginla. on its European imports, letting Americans think that Russians, “Tonight on TSN, watch as Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh PenSlovakians, Swedes and Germans are getting trained in the art of guins go head-to-head with the league’s hottest goalie, Ryan Miller.” goal scoring. Rather than having the typical hockey player resemble a You’re calling friends saying, “Gordon, I could be wrong but I think tough Canadian kid, flip it on its ear and make six-foot, 170 pound Sidney Crosby is fighting a goalie tonight… yeah, on TSN!”


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The sensationalist marketing doesn’t stop with the players. Networks like TSN have turned ordinary NHL events into enormous media spectacles. As recent as seven or eight years ago, the NHL trade deadline was a non-event. A few trades between teams, and fans would either read the details in the paper the next morning or catch them on the evening news at six. Fast forward to this past year’s trade deadline: TSN hosted an 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. program titled ‘Trade Deadline 2010’ in which a bundle of reporters and analysts discussed trades for eight hours as they received them on their Blackberries. Several players have been quoted as saying that they found out they were traded by watching TSN’s coverage of the day.

Immediately following Chicago’s Stanley Cup victory in June, a commercial aired for the 2010 NHL entry draft. This is because, for the average hockey fan, there is a four-month gap between seasons where you lose focus on the game and stop paying attention to NHL rumblings. To the American fans whose minds are immediately switching from Chicago Blackhawks to Chicago Cubs, the NHL pipes up and says “Hey! Hey! NHL isn’t over! Who’s Chicago going to pick? You don’t know, so you’d better watch!”

It’s still debatable whether or not the NHL’s new marketing techniques have been effective. Numerous franchises are still financially at risk and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated that he Furthermore, coverage of the NHL entry draft, which occurs in late isn’t willing to give up on U.S. expansion or move teams into Canada July, used to cover half of the first round and then cut to analysts who where they would likely prosper. While celebrity players and full day would break down the picks while the rest of the draft concluded media events won’t be shaking Canada’s passion for hockey any time behind the scenes. In 2010, TSN televised the first two-rounds of soon, one has to wonder how far the NHL will go in its mission to the draft—one each day. This is excessive, as a single round takes crack the American market. When Sidney Crosby is on the 50-yard anywhere from four to six hours to complete. line singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Steelers games, I think Canadians might take notice—but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that Not only have the events themselves become media spectacles, point. but the advertising for these events has become aggressive as well.


Standing the Gaff: A Brief History of Direct Action from a Small Island/ J.E. Coole

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“Most fundamentally, it is joy that perseveres despite having no say in shaping the conditions of your life and labour.” After the G20 summit in Toronto, media commentators, police and politicians informed the public that the political direct action that had occurred was unprecedented in canadian history. In truth, Canada’s history appears rather bloodless and mundane when it is examined from the perspective of textbooks and popular media. What we often fail to hear; however, are the voices of the minorities; the stories that speak of conflict and oppression. J.B. McLaughlin was once quoted as saying, “I believe in telling children the truth about the history of the world, that it does not consist in the history of Kings and Lords and Cabinets, but consists in the history of the mass of the workers, a thing that is not taught in the schools.” I’m going to tell you a story that is not taught in the schools. It’s about an island. The Mi’kmaq, the First People, called it Únamakika in their language. The French called it île Royale when they colonized it. The Gaelic-speaking Scots referred to it as Ameireaga (America) when they forcibly emigrated from their ancestral lands and named it Cheap Breatainn when they arrived. Cape Breton Island, as it is called today, is a renowned tourist destination awash with natural beauty and quaint Celtic culture. It’s history, however, is ripe with conflict and marginalization. My story begins when prospectors noticed a rich coal field under what is now considered industrial Cape Breton. Followed by years of colonial government dealings, the coal fields were eventually exploited for their resources. Communities of shacks sprang up around the pit heads - mine entrances - and eventually grew into towns such as Glace Bay, where I was born and raised. Despite the mines being long shut down, the spectre of the coal company still haunts Glace Bay, with neighbourhoods informally named after the collieries they formed around – Caledonia, the Hub, Number 2 and Number 11 – much like other towns and cities have a North End and South End. The lives of Cape Breton coal miners in the early days of the 20th century are suited to characters in a Dickensian narrative. DOSCO (the Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation) and its later incarnation BESCO (British Empire Steel and Coal Company) is the central player in this tale. The Company, as it was called, had a lock on the coal mines in Glace Bay, as well as those in New Waterford, Donkin, North Sydney, and steel plant in Cape Breton’s unofficial capital city Sydney. It’s hard for the mind to imagine the all-encompassing force that the Company was in these towns; it not only provided the core employment but also owned the miners’ houses, the water supply and most of the stores. Most company executives also maintained close relationships with members on all levels of government. The Company Store was the quintessential symbol of the oppression and exploitation of Cape Breton coal miners. Commonly referred to as the “Pluck Me Store”, it was often the only place locals could buy clothing, food and essential equipment for the job. Many miners never saw real money from their pay as the Company made direct deductions to cover credit for such tempting luxuries as oranges, grapes and household goods. At the time of greatest strife in the Cape Breton Coal Fields, there was no set minimum wage or hourly wage. Miners were paid on the basis of how many tonnes of coal were loaded in a working day. Also, the notion of a weekend had yet to be institutionalized. The drudgery of a minor’s life was all encompassing. Most days the workers didn’t see the sun, as they went down into the pit before

sunrise and left after sunset. The lyrics found in folk songs like Plain Ole Miner Boy reflect their hardships: “I’ve been a miner all my life, I work in Caledonia / I had nine kids from a good kind wife, but one died of pneumonia / Now we’ve only got the eight, some big and some are little / It takes most ev’ry cent I make to buy them milk and vittles.” Accidents were common enough that descending into a mine meant risking death and leaving one’s family destitute. My grandfather once told the story of an accident that took place around Christmas time. Having heard the siren warning of a methane explosion or cave-in, the Company Police went to evict a dead miner’s family, knowing they would have no way of paying rent. They expelled the family along with their kitchen table and chairs (the only things they owned outright). After slamming and padlocking the door, the Company removed the pine Christmas wreath and tossed it on top of the rest of the family’s possessions. I don’t wish to paint too depressing a picture; my grandfather tells as many if not more tales of boistrous Celtic families and bawdy, lively local characters and happenings. Finding joy out of a common experience of oppression is not a joy freely felt, however. It is joy that exists in spite of not knowing if your husband is going to come home alive or if your pay will stretch into the next week or if the Company will find yet another reason to dock you. Most fundamentally, it is joy that perseveres despite having no say in shaping the conditions of your life and labour. Back to the story of the minors, where a Scottish miner named James Bryson McLachlan brought new hope to Cape Breton. Having been blacklisted from the Scotland’s mines for union activity, McLachlan was a fiery labour leader with communist inclinations. After a hard struggle with the PWA (Provincial Workman’s Association), a management-friendly union, he helped to bring in the (UMWA) United Mineworkers of America to organize the workers. Becoming UMWA District 26, the local represented miners from North Sydney as far mainland as Pictou County. With McLachlan as secretary-treasurer, a new era of labour relations began in Cape Breton. After a largely unsuccessful strike in 1921, the miners decided the time was right for a general strike in 1925. Receiving about $3.65 a day in wages and having worked part-time with no guarantee of steady work for the past three years, minors faced conditions that were as tough as ever. They began their strike in the winter and marched in solidarity under the banner “A Living Wage or Revolution”. Agnes Macphail, a sitting Member of Parliament at the time, gave a speech in support of the strikers in Glace Bay, making note of the fact that Cape Breton had the highest infant mortality rate in the country. A group of Maritime emigrants in Boston also showed support by creating a Cape Breton Relief Committee. Local fishers donated part of their catch, stores outside the purview of the company gave credit and the co-operative movement gave cash donations. Despite the outside interest and support, the battle was one between the miners and the Company, and when it came down to it the Company held the cards.


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sunrise and left after sunset. The lyrics found in folk songs like Plain Ole Miner Boy reflect their hardships: “I’ve been a miner all my life, I work in Caledonia / I had nine kids from a good kind wife, but one died of pneumonia / Now we’ve only got the eight, some big and some are little / It takes most ev’ry cent I make to buy them milk and vittles.” Accidents were common enough that descending into a mine meant risking death and leaving one’s family destitute. My grandfather once told the story of an accident that took place around Christmas time. Having heard the siren warning of a methane explosion or cave-in, the Company Police went to evict a dead miner’s family, knowing they would have no way of paying rent. They expelled the family along with their kitchen table and chairs (the only things they owned outright). After slamming and padlocking the door, the Company removed the pine Christmas wreath and tossed it on top of the rest of the family’s possessions. I don’t wish to paint too depressing a picture; my grandfather tells as many if not more tales of boistrous Celtic families and bawdy, lively local characters and happenings. Finding joy out of a common experience of oppression is not a joy freely felt, however. It is joy that exists in spite of not knowing if your husband is going to come home alive or if your pay will stretch into the next week or if the Company will find yet another reason to dock you. Most fundamentally, it is joy that perseveres despite having no say in shaping the conditions of your life and labour. Back to the story of the minors, where a Scottish miner named James Bryson McLachlan brought new hope to Cape Breton. Having been blacklisted from the Scotland’s mines for union activity, McLachlan was a fiery labour leader with communist inclinations. After a hard struggle with the PWA (Provincial Workman’s Association), a management-friendly union, he helped to bring in the (UMWA) United Mineworkers of America to organize the workers. Becoming UMWA District 26, the local represented miners from North Sydney as far mainland as Pictou County. With McLachlan as secretary-treasurer, a new era of labour relations began in Cape Breton. After a largely unsuccessful strike in 1921, the miners decided the time was right for a general strike in 1925. Receiving about $3.65 a day in wages and having worked part-time with no guarantee of steady work for the past three years, minors faced conditions that were as tough as ever. They began their strike in the winter and marched in solidarity under the banner “A Living Wage or Revolution”. Agnes Macphail, a sitting Member of Parliament at the time, gave a speech in support of the strikers in Glace Bay, making note of the fact that Cape Breton had the highest infant mortality rate in the country. A group of Maritime emigrants in Boston also showed support by creating a Cape Breton Relief Committee. Local fishers donated part of their catch, stores outside the purview of the company gave credit and the co-operative movement gave cash donations. Despite the outside interest and support, the battle was one between the miners and the Company, and when it came down to it the Company held the cards.

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BESCO launched a massive public relations campaign to save face by blaming the miners for their troubles. Having already cut off Company store credit, they also stopped sales of coal (the primary fuel for heating). After months, the strike reached its head in June of 1925. The UMWA pulled the last workers off the line on June 3rd and the Company retaliated by cutting off water and electricity to the town of New Waterford. In a public statement, BESCO President Roy Wolvin was quoted as saying “They will have to come to us ... they can’t stand the gaff”. “The gaff,” in this case, presumably meant starvation. On the morning of June 10th, the Company’s militia stormed Plummer Avenue in New Waterford. They beat those in their paths with truncheons from horseback and even entered a school-yard – for the locals, this was the last straw. The miners began organizing a response. Armed with little more than desperation, they marched to the power plant to reconnect electricity and water. A violent confrontation with the militia ensued. Militiamen were pulled off horseback and beaten, and the life of one was spared only through the intervention of a priest. Many miners were injured, some seriously, and a man named William Davis was shot and killed by the militia. Outrage spread through mining towns like wildfire. The Company Stores were looted and burned to the ground, never to be rebuilt. Calling on friends in high places, the Company brought in the Canadian Army and RCMP to deal with the strikers. In defense of the radical leadership of the union McLaughlin explained, “Under capitalism the worker has but two choices – to crawl or fight.” Looking at the Cape Breton Coal Field at the time, one would have found it difficult to disagree. The election of a new provincial government later that year brought in a temporary settlement to the strike, with its full resolution to be sought through a Royal Commission. McLaughlin perhaps fared the worst. Unable to work for the coal company, he turned to a career in farming. He was thrown in jail a number of times over the years and died of an illness contracted while in prison for seditious libel. BESCO also suffered after the strike. Reorganized into the Dominion Coal and Steel Corporation in 1927 and nationalized 40 years later, it would always be known as the “Company” to the miners. Miners’ activism continued through strikes, small fights for dignity and later a movement for fair pensions from the federal government. This is a story of my community and myself, but there are many others to be told as well. If I were part of Nova Scotia’s historic black community I might have told you about Viola Desmond who was sent to prison for wilfully violating the province’s race laws. If I were Mi’kmaq I may have told you a more recent story about Donald Marshall, a man whose wrongful conviction of murder made Canada’s quiet racism a topic of nation discussion and who again came into the spotlight when he broke the law in an effort to establish Aboriginal fishing and hunting as constitutionallyprotected rights. When history is told from the perspective of the working class, the impoverished, the Aboriginal community, the Queer community, women, non-white races or any other marginalized group, it takes a different form and shape. When we listen to the stories of the oppressed, we hear stories that differ from our textbook’s version of history – not only stories of struggle and violence, but also stories of triumph and joy.


Can The Next Carrie Bradshaw Please Stand Up? society

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Every so often, a pop culture game-changer arrives on the scene. It looks a little different, works a little harder, presents new ideas, and people fall hard. 13 years ago, it was Sex and the City. Whether it changed your life or confused you utterly (journalist Chuck Klosterman described it as four strange-looking women talking like gay guys), you can’t deny the show’s influence. It invented an entirely new dialogue for women, giving a media voice to a self-actualized and sexually active generation. To me, someone who is a few years young to be the prime Sex and the City girl, it’s hard to imagine a time when blowjobs weren’t a topic of brunch conversation, and I didn’t possess a disturbingly detailed knowledge about the sexual tics of my friends’ significant others. Suffices to say, we owe Carrie and company, not just for the lifting of several taboos but also for the final and decisive entry into mainstream culture of the reality of women as independent, individual, sexual creatures.

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Now that Sex and the City officially feels retro, who’s going to fill their shoes?

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Haley Cullingham

Consumerist culture is being replaced by consumers with a conscience, and this summer, when the second orgy of expensive clothing and indulgent living that the SATC franchise has become hit silver screens, it was with a distinctive whimper, and not a roar. I was one among many who looked the other way, shrugged, said maybe I’d watch it when it came out on DVD. There were masses out in their Manolos, sure, but many more decided not to care. Why? Either the franchise wasn’t what it used to be (with the advent of a Sex and the City-themed burger joint coming to Ontario, it’s safe to say people are taking liberties with the original concept), or they no longer felt Sex and the City was speaking their language. And so, just like that, pop culture is on the hunt for a new heroine. The job description seems to be a relatable lady-at-large whose on-screen existence is just a little more sparkly, just a little more exotic than our own, but whose problems still make us feel that we’re part of something after all. So who’s going to step up to the plate and fill those Titan-sized strappy sandals? Where are the four sexually aware women, there to cast off not just expectations of wedding rings but also dangerous and pervasive images of purity rings? Where are the unapologetically independent female characters embracing their sexuality, to help balance out the ones for whom embracing sexuality means some serious physical danger (‘sup, Twilight)? In other words, where are the women making feminism look good? Are we experiencing a pop culture backpedal, some sort of collective reactionary nostalgia not unlike ‘90s minimalism? What made the Sex and the City formula so appealing is hardly missing from mainstream TV. We’ve got Mad Men providing an aesthetic barometer for the young and successful—and all that titillating sex? Thanks, True Blood. Satirical characters like Liz Lemon are the funny females of the hour (lest we forget, there was once a time when women couldn’t be funny). We even see in Lady Gaga someone doing it right for the sexual counterculture, while wearing outfits people think are outrageous. The parts are there, but what’s missing from the whole is what made Sex and the City great: it was a moment that rode the wave of a swelling revolution of women. No one pulled Carrie Bradshaw out of a hat; she grew out of a cultural context and was then rendered in print and on screen by artists talented enough to make her segment of popular womanhood appealing enough that ladies everywhere stood up, spoke out, got naked, didn’t apologize, and hopefully felt a little more confident in their own power. Despite the influx of great new television in the years since Sex and the City’s demise, nothing has quite captured the cultural consciousness like those ladies from New York City. So while it’s easy to dismiss the latest film, try for a minute to imagine your self-identity without it. Sound trite? Maybe. But I’m crossing my fingers that the legacy left by Sex and the City won’t be the shoes, the cocktails, the search for the perfect man. It will be the fact that for a while, the coolest girls in pop culture weren’t women who made apologies, or women who followed a formula. They weren’t girls touting an oppressive dogma fed to them by interested parties. They weren’t even, by many standards, women who were traditionally beautiful. They were women who made their own rules. And whether you can quote every episode or you spent much of your adolescence trying to avoid the curly-haired spectre of Ms. Bradshaw, that’s one hell of a take-away lesson.

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But as quickly as these monoliths are built, they crumble—and often at the hands of those who loved them best. Now, years have passed, culture has accelerated, and our heroines did what has been the kiss of death for so many outlaws of the zeitgeist (it’s hard to remember a time when SATC felt fringe, but it did. Remember the S & M bar? Remember how few people living outside of a major city’s downtown core knew what S&M was?): they went and got married. Rich and married.


Missed connections whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on your mind? New Media and Canadian Politics:

Future Brothers in Arms?

Fox News North: one more reason to move to Norway


OPinions


Missed Connections/ Joshua Michelson

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“If you ask me, the soul of entrepreneurialism has been stripped away from our generation, and we need to do something about it. We live in a period of high unemployment, minimal economic growth and a stagnant recovery from the financial crisis that occurred two years ago.” We all want it—the powerful career and all the perks that come along with it; the high-rise condo, luxury vehicles, summer house on the lake and the ability to travel as one pleases. Ask a university student what their biggest fear is—and if they don’t say losing their Blackberry or iPhone, I’d wager they would fear not fulfilling their dreams of ‘success’, whatever that term means. I am, of course, generalizing. Some may be thinking this is a shallow conception of what success really is. Not everyone equates success to financial status, but I would argue that one of the keys to happiness is financial stability. As I’ve been told, money isn’t everything, but it’s right up there with oxygen. It is difficult to live a happy life when the constant stress of paying the bills lies on your shoulders.

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Somewhere between our dreams and their physical manifestation, we lose our way. What makes it so difficult to become financially successful? Though I am far from a professional on the subject, throughout my education, I’ve made certain observations that have led me to some troubling conclusions. Often the pressure of being independent causes us to sacrifice our dreams in the need to find a stable job. The pressure for a graduating student to find steady work doesn’t leave much room for risk-taking and dream-catching. Student debt, the expectation that education is meant to lead to an instant job or career and the paths that have been chiselled out for us by our parents have stripped away our ingenuity. If you ask me, the soul of entrepreneurialism has been stripped away from our generation, and we need to do something about it. We live in a period of high unemployment, minimal economic growth and a stagnant recovery from the financial crisis that occurred two years ago. And with all the warnings of a double-dip recession, things aren’t looking up anytime in the near future. Stimulus dollars are running out, and the make-up they painted on the ugly face of greed in the US is about to be washed off. Now, more than ever, we need to think outside the box. During the period of our life known as our University Years, we often get distracted by a multitude of things. Perhaps we’re trying to find our future at the bottom of a beer bottle or somewhere on Facebook— maybe pulling an all-nighter to hammer out that essay will lead us to our career path. We never seem to really start thinking about our future (with some exceptions of course) until fourth year looms around the corner. The mad scramble to find a job, or delay real-life with one or two more years of a master’s degree begins. If we would pause and look around, we’d notice that we’re sitting in the middle of an opportunity. Each student is looking for his or her own unique career path, and there is never a better time to connect with others who are interested in the same goals and interests than in your time here at school. You are spending your school years in a wealth of talent, ideas and ingenuity— but the so little of this is used in efforts to start something new, to make a student’s dream come to life. Instead, it’s gathered up by the giants in the public and private sectors. This is not a bad thing—these posts are required to be filled, and our world wouldn’t run as it is without them. However, we continuously forget about another option: creating our own. Looking at our parents’ generation, and their parents before them, it’s obvious that they’ve accomplished an incredible amount. The leaps

and bounds seen in all sectors, from health to technology, finance to education is their doing—and our lack of this entrepreneurial spirit stems from the fact that our generation hasn’t struggled in the same ways theirs did. We live in a world of instant satisfaction, whether it’s communication, information retrieval, travel or a myriad of other daily tasks. We no longer have to wait for anything. In trying to give us everything, they have spoiled us. They have more than laid the bones of our society for us. They have given it muscle and flesh, dressed it, and sent it along its merry way. We’ve grown up with the world at our fingertips, gingerly built by those who lived before us. What can we put at the fingertips of our children? It’s hard to believe that the golden age of growth and opportunity has stalled. The current rate of high unemployment might just be what we need in order for people to re-ignite the dying fire of entrepreneurialism. Those that find themselves unemployed could be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg; it all starts with an idea. It may sound like I believe the only path is starting your own business, but this is far from the truth. Working for a large company is something you can make your own as well. Work your days as though you were working for yourself. Work just as hard, and look for solutions as you would if every dime was coming out of your pocket. See a problem you think you could fix? Speak up. Not only will you feel better at the end of the day, but your employer will most likely take note. Whatever your career might be, a little pride and thinking outside the box can go a long way. Over the past few years I’ve worked in places where the pride in one’s work was noticeable, but I have also worked in a place where there was none. The difference in atmosphere and how you feel at the end of the day is astounding. Working hard for every dollar you earn will give you greater happiness than merely putting in the time. I’ve worked in a number of positions where I was able to grow and learn, often related to my field of interest, which is finance. This past summer stands in stark contrast to those experiences. My summer job was completely unrelated to my field, although I was pretty excited for something completely different. I got a job doing manual labour for a public company—the prospect of learning new skills was exciting, and I was happy to find a job that would let me spend my days outside. I was sadly disappointed at my new post. I found myself not valued for my assets or talents, and given work that not only barely kept me busy, but never lead to learning opportunities. In the beginning I continued as I had always done, working my hardest, finding better methods and suggesting them, but it never seemed to matter. After a while of the same tedious tasks and loads of spare time, I lost all the qualities I had always expected from myself. I stopped working my hardest and started doing just what was expected of me, nothing more. What they expected from the position I became, and it was an awful feeling. If I could change anything I have done, it would be the moment I gave up working as though I was working for myself. If this happens to you, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Don’t miss your opportunities, think like an entrepreneur—even if you work for someone else—and don’t look back.


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What’s on your mind? Mary Armstrong

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/ 34

It is a common occurrence today to be walking along a busy street, completely surrounded by people, but yet, in a sense, still feel this disconnect from those around you. It’s a common occurrence today to be walking along a busy street, surrounded by people, but in a strange sense feel a looming disconnect from those around you. With our heads turned downward and our eyes focused upon our newly acquired gadgets, we have replaced the need for physical connection with that for technological. It’s a relatively new concept—an unprecedented ability to exist in an isolated state, yet claim interaction with those around you through technologically simulated social spheres. The evolution of social networking has converged both public and private social realms and, in doing so, has transformed us into a special breed of isolated social butterflies. Websites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have undeniably revolutionized the way we transmit information globally and can be a brilliant means of staying up to date and connected with each other. However, the lack of authentic human expression which these virtual realms produce vis a vis their oversimplified and now trite internet vernacular, raise questions concerning the toll which the internet has had on our ability to communicate with each other away from the screen, and in more traditional and intimate social contexts. Hash tags, emoticons and ‘like’ buttons have gradually replaced sincere human expression with pseudo-emotions that linger somewhere in cyber-space. There is a certain element of falseness which accompanies these abbreviations—their sole purpose is to simplify and spare character space—but how simple is too simple? What toll do these symbols have on our linguistic ability? Online vernacular seems to be seeping into our everyday lives, when a casual “lol” or “nbd” slip in a conversation is now acceptable. I discovered the commonality of this language whilst browsing around in Indigo one day—I had stumbled across a set of pins with printed emoticons and internet abbreviations which can be easily pinned onto a T-shirt or a backpack to communicate a whole range of emotions. I couldn’t imagine why someone would wear this, though I soon realized that it’s not much different from the way we already do express a plethora of oversimplified, abbreviated emotions online. There is a certain aspect of ambiguity which accompanies this internet language—a ;) symbol can convey a whole range of unidentified meanings and in some cases misunderstandings—a simple wink face to face will no doubt convey much more clearly its intent and meaning. Earlier this year, a Maclean’s article detailed the commonality of emoticons in University papers and even professional communication between students and their superiors. Cyber language has silently seeped into the spheres where it was not meant to exist—not only in academic context, but also as a means of expressing a complicated range of very personalized ideas. Keeping in mind that 80 per cent of the way we convey ourselves is body language, how much are we really communicating in our isolated cubicles and Facebook Chat windows? To express oneself clearly in a 140 word character box seems limiting and especially when many of these posts end up being the same idea repeated over and over again anyway—with the introduction of ReTtweeting and Hashtags, most Tweets are little but a few people’s thoughts being reposted by the masses. This process is useful insofar as it passes along ideas and information swiftly and easily, but it becomes a little hazier when individuals take Tweeting as a replacement of traditional communication altogether. I have been finding more and more that my own, as well as many of my friends’, interest in my Facebook and Twitter accounts have been waning. At first, I was discouraged by my lack of Twitter followers but soon discovered that my inability to use the oversimplified language was precisely what was keeping me from attracting other users to follow my posts. In the end the entire tweeting and posting concept confused me as to why I would want to post the same post as someone else; I soon realized that in the end I really didn’t care what Suzy or Billy did on their day off and I don’t think my L expression will ever clearly define whether I feel sad, disappointed, distressed or sarcastic. In an age where communication is made easier and projected as more vital than ever, we sacrifice our ideas for the efficiency with which they are delivered. The intrinsic beauty of speech rests in the belief that what you say is essentially eternal and irreversible. The honesty and spontaneity of a oneon-one conversation is absent from these virtual social realms—computermediated communication provides time to think thoroughly or alter ones expressions; it has become possible, with the mere simplicity of a backspace

motion, to correct any regrets or mistakes to our online dialogue (just think of Gmail’s newly added Undo button, which lets users effectively un-send an e-mail within the span of ten seconds after sending it). Social networking sites offer this attractive malleability to alter what you say and who you are at your own pace and under your own accord—this control and convenient sense of security makes it difficult to convert back to the impromptu quality of traditional face to face communication. Why bother having to confront someone in person when you could easily avoid an uncomfortable situation with the ease and simplicity of an online message whilst also browsing online for a new pair of shoes? There is nothing more efficient than online communication, but that begs the question of whether efficiency is what our interactions aim at to begin with. The poignant reality that there are no backspaces in real life, that what you say in the moment and the impressions which you make in that moment away from your touchpad or screen can essentially never be altered has manifested itself into a daunting prospect for many of us—and has consequently bred a myriad of social anxieties today. Society’s retreat into the online world as a means of catering to these anxieties is identifiable when one reflects upon the collective university frosh week experience. For many students, myself included, it was a common occurrence to receive an onslaught of friend or event requests from people that I had barely even met, let alone even spoken with in person. It was during this week when our social anxieties were at an all time peak, when so much change was occurring that the internet became a means of putting yourself out there—sans any viable risk. As the week, or even as the school year progressed, I began to find that I often wouldn’t acknowledge many of those very people that I had once become so familiar with online. It’s bizarre that it has become so easy for us to befriend and connect with someone so openly in a simulated realm, but when it comes down to the true physical and emotional connection, we back away as a sort of means of protecting ourselves from any possibility of rejection. The ease with which one can alter and mould their profile has created an obsession with the way we present ourselves online: you can take the time to think over how you will approach someone, or what pictures you choose to display of yourself. There is a certain element of creative freedom online and a kind of departure away from the demanding nature of a one on one encounter where a first impression essentially can mean everything. Online, you can be whoever you want to be—the internet provides a easily edited societal realm where normal and traditional social mores are somewhat thrown out the window. You can voice opinions online which you may not so openly express in real life—you can be the witty or intelligent person who ordinarily finds it difficult to express themselves in real life. These Internet realms are a revolutionary tool of expression because they tear down societal barriers and allow us to express ourselves freely and anonymously. However, as liberating as this initial concept may be, our ability to avoid each other via these realms is no doubt fuelling a number of social anxieties in the first place, rather than encouraging us to confront them head on. Rather than address these ever increasing anxieties, we retreat further into the online realm as a means of avoidance—consequently placing a tremendous value on the internet’s communicative worth in our daily lives. Facebook and Twitter, like all inventions, are ones which must be carefully examined and taken exactly as what they are: ways with which we can communicate speedily, efficiently, but not well. There will never be a Facebook application that replaces a social gathering—something that perhaps is getting forgotten in the perpetual race to aquire more Facebook friends, messenger contacts or Twitter followers. Remembering the purpose and function of these new virtual attractions will, hopefully, allow us to tune a fine balance between the two realms more succinctly, rather than relying on a constant flow of mostly irrelevant information to one’s smartphone. If the race for online popularity would stop—if we identified the online for all that it really is—the effect on our isolated, complex-ridden society may just be astounding.


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Fox News North: one more reason to move to Norway/ Amanda Ferguson

So why is a Péladeau-Teneycke team worthy of fear? Well, Péladeau’s allegiance is clearly for sale, and Teneycke’s friends have lots of money. A quick example: this summer, all Sun Media dailies ran a six-week ‘the-oil sands-aren’t-that-bad’ campaign (bought and paid for) by Alberta oil sands producers. These weren’t advertisements-they were articles. In fairness, Sun Media makes no claim to neutrality or journalistic integrity. Fairer still, most Canadians who consume Sun Media do so knowing that it’s a tabloid, concerned more with sensationalism and sexy stories than with facts. Less clear, however, are Péladeau’s and Teneycke’s intentions behind their move into television.

At the risk of sounding trite: there’s something beautiful about the way that democracy and free-flowing information go hand-in-hand. Thoughtful deliberation is a fundamental part of a free society, and that deliberation must be active. Fox News style content, however, stifles thoughtfulness. It replaces right and left with right and wrong, patriot and terrorist, moral and immoral. It’s hard to find common ground with a group that’s been vilified to the extent that Fox vilifies the left. Canada doesn’t need our own brand of fake news – we’ve got plenty of American BS to choose from, should we need it.

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Colloquially know as “Fox News North”, the new channel will be modelled after, unsurprisingly, Fox News—the station that brings the world Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reily five days a week. Contrary to Sun Media dailies, Fox News makes constant claims to unbiased research and reporting. It does this, of course, whilst Glenn Beck Earlier this summer, Quebecor Inc announced its intention to shouts “Obama is a racist” in the background. When questioned, the “make a new investment in Canadian media”. Also attached to the Fox News Channel argues that their opinion programs, such as Hanannouncement was Kory Teneycke, former Director of Communica- nity and Clomes and The O’Reily Factor, are as biased as any other tions for Harper’s PMO. An ominous pairing, yes—in fact, anticipa- opinion program – but their “news” shows are “fair and balanced”. tion of this announcement sent me scouring the business section of This is blatantly untrue, and leaked memos and staff reports attest to the Globe and Mail for the next week, an activity I loath to do. These, that fact. however, were special circumstances. And therein lays the point: media sources that act as a mouthpiece First, a little bit about the group in question: The president and CEO for any particular party are not necessarily harmful, but they should of Quebecor Inc is a man named Pierre Karl Péladeau—son of Que- make clear their allegiance. I am far less offended (if at all) by Repubbecor Inc’s founder, Pierre Péladeau, who built the company from the lican pundits stating their opinion than I am by Republican pundits ground up and served as one of Canada’s largest media tycoons (a feat stating their opinions while trying to convince me that they’re that gained him entry into the Order of Canada in 1987) until his unaligned. death. But that’s not all Papa Péladeau was known for. He was quoted in a Montréal magazine as saying that Jews “take up too much space” If you question Fox News North’s allegiance to Conservatives, read in Quebec, and that women had no place in the board room because on. Last year, Harper lunched in New York with Rupert Murdoch, “they seduce too much”. Pierre Karl, his youngest son, has stayed owner of the Fox News Corporation (FNC), Roger Ailes, president clear of such gaffs (to put them lightly), but he approaches business of Fox News, and the ubiquitous Kory Teneycke. A short time later, with the same fervour and ruthlessness as dad did. One of Pierre Péladeau named Teneycke as the chief political partner for his new Karl’s first moves as CEO was acquiring the Sun Media Corporation, channel. Lovely for Harper, that his former spokesman should be which put Quebecor Inc in control of the second largest newspaper granted a position that comes with total control over a massive media chain in Canada. A few of the papers under Quebecor Inc’s guise: corporation’s coverage of his government. The Calgary Sun, The Toronto Sun, The Edmonton Sun, Le Journal de Montréal, the Ottawa Sun, Le Journal de Québec, The Winnipeg Sun. It Of course, Harper’s been just as eager to help out Péladeau. The main also controls Sun TV, a cable television station with national reach. hitch in getting the new channel up and running has come from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications CommisKory Teneycke, on the other hand, has spent most of his short life sion (CRTC). Quebecor was told by the CRTC that if the massive (he’s 36) in politics. Before he was appointed by Harper as DoC, he broadcasting license needed to launch FNN was to be granted at all, served as an aid to Preston Manning and Mike Harris. Manning’s it wouldn’t be processed until October 2011 at the earliest. Anyone best known for his stint as leader of the Reform Party of Canada – who has followed our PM knows how much he hates testy agencies the most right-wing party in Canadian history, a title rivalled only by and commissions getting in the way of his plans—and unfortunately Harper’s current regime (in fact, Harper was Manning’s chief policy for the CRTC, FNN has become a Conservative public relation advisor). Harris, of course, is reviled by many Ontarians for slashing priority. Harper’s response was to start ushering out top bureaucrats social assistance and praised by right-wingers for selling off a number at the CRTC, as he’s done before (i.e. Elections Canada, the Nuclear of provincial enterprises (i.e. Ontario Hydro) while Premier in the Safety Commission) and replace them with a rubber stamp. late 1990s and early 2000s. Teneycke, it seems, learned from both of his mentors, and was able to quickly make a name for himself as an When the PM starts handing out television licenses, we’ve got a aggressive go-getter on Harper’s communications team. problem.

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A quick disclaimer: this article has nothing to do with Norway, and everything to do with Fox News North. Of course, Norway is lovely, but it is used here only as an example of a place (relatively) untouched by the vile tentacles of Rupert Murdoch’s FNC.

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Should a station that habitually praises Ann Coulter for her courageous patriotism be a model for the Canadian media?


New Media and Canadian Politics:

Future Brothers in Arms?

Joanna Adams

When an issue becomes personalized to the preferences of the electorate, student involvement becomes a more likely response. Soliciting partisan election promotion by allowing communication between campaign teams through e-mail list-serves, Facebook messages and “Tweeting” of employees or campus political or social associations boosts the likelihood of such engagement. This also extends to the visibility of the Election Day and the issues themselves, rousing political awareness—as well as promoting further inquiry of the election platforms and campaign policies outside the structured formality of debates, which are time-constrained and have attendance capacities which inherently minimize their effectiveness and scope. In allowing such political presence in New Media, the election issues become transformed into a part of a student’s interests. For instance, by having the Chinese Cooking Club support Party X’s promise for lowered tuition rates through New Media, students can investigate the campaign issues further on their own time, and encourage others to participate in the process of voting. Since the members of the Chinese Cooking Club already support the creation and enjoyment of Chinese cuisine and share this commonality, they would intuitively support and garner passion for a team that validated these culinary pursuits. The relationship between campus associations, these e-mails or typically off-campus endorsements, and the interests of their affiliates, sparked a political receptiveness and opinion that was not incited in the past when solely traditional means of political communication and jargon were used. To make elections more accessible, it’s intuitive to encourage parties to use New Media as they see fit, by creating Youtube videos and embarking on viral marketing campaigns as well. Similarly, the

Furthermore, the conscious choice to label your cyber self as being affiliated with an electoral party or cause is more pervasive than wearing a campaign button across campus. This promotes and personalizes campaign platforms and ideologies, selling a culture of “cool” through cross-marketing with other non-academic or social interests. A student who enjoys certain types of “cool” rock music, wears trendy clothing from Urban Outfitters and likes the humour of Andy Samberg and SNL’s digital shorts may also support the Liberals, showing others that the Liberal Party not only reflects this students interests, but also political leanings. This aids in cementing an image that voting is an appealing choice. It makes the Liberal Party, hypothetically of course, more relatable as an everyman and prompted more political examination both consciously and subconsciously in the minds of every one of that student’s Facebook friends, MSN buddy or Twitter followers, all of whom became friends, or cyber friends, with this student through different social circles. Allowing this declaration of intent spread the appeal and buzz about voting to students who may have, for whatever reason, been excluded or excluded themselves from traditional political outreach. While use of New Media is essential to empowering the student voter, traditional media outlets and advertising remain an essential component to running a successful election. Publicizing the location of the polling stations, as well as the voting hours answers essential logistical questions. These techniques, such as posters or print ads, remind students of the magnitude of this non-campus event, and link it to academics and an on-campus social community. This in turn reinforces privately-developed allegiances and directed an interested populous to a structured, accessible event that will responsibly calculate individual votes and form a general consensus on which party is most suitable for their community. Through posters, advertisements in campus media and beyond, a commonality was created and maintained amongst all voters and students within and outside the private realm of the internet. Students need to be connected to political causes under the avenues that they would most be comfortable with and feel most natural to them. This includes the use of Facebook, Twitter, MSN and instant messenger screen names, mass e-mails, viral videos, and other creative endeavours that extended beyond traditional media, while still using the traditional media as logistical support. Such mobilization of political causes benefits the outcome by reflecting how students communicate—which is both as a physical self, and as a cyber self in the private realm. Establishing voting as being another memorable student and Canadian tradition— along with triggering youth political involvement—mobilizes the private realm without jargon and through like interests; inciting political intrigue among the student body is crucial to increased voter turnout in the next election, and to supporting a democratic process in which the people really voice their opinion—or share their status.

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number of hits that a Youtube campaign video received, in turn, rewards said branding team for their creativity and humour. All of these methods of collaboration spread party recognition and like association with other student interests, resulting in raised voter interest and Election Day branding—one only needs to think of Obama’s revolutionary New Media-based campaign which successfully mobilized an enormous, previously dormant, youth vote.

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As a politically active student, I was surprised to see how few of my peers were democratically engaged in the Canadian electoral process in spite of traditional voting publicity, like posters or advertisements. With Michael Ignatieff opting to spend his summer travelling cross-country by bus—and with a Federal election pending— it’s essential that the youth voters become more connected and empowered through the democratic process. Evolving with the student base by using a combination of New Media (i.e. Facebook, Youtube and Viral Videos) and traditional media (i.e. posters and advertisements in campus media outlets), is essential when looking to decrease latent voter apathy. The profile of Canadian elections rises due to students having their democratic will empowered both on and off campus. By devising a cult of personality through Twitter, Facebook applications, pictures, status and events, the political parties of Canada can inform the cyber community of their political intent, stimulating the electoral consciousness. The youth vote is not dead—it’s merely dormant, waiting to be engaged in hip, innovative ways. Collaboration amongst student groups is essential to achieving enhanced election visibility and strengthening the branding of Election Day.

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“While use of New Media is essential to empowering the student voter, traditional media outlets and advertising remain an essential component to running a successful election.”


how the west

lost its way Disarming a major â&#x20AC;&#x153;what ifâ&#x20AC;?

when will china learn to tolerate its own citizens ?

how green is

recycling?


Global issues


how the west lost its way Sean O’Loghlen

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“So what do the failures in Afghanistan and the emergence of new economic superpowers have to do with one another? Both can be taken as signs that perhaps the West is past its apogee with respect to its geopolitical and economic might.” On June 7, 2010, the war in Afghanistan reached a sobering milestone: it has now lasted a full 104 months—a longer span than that of the United States’ direct involvement in the Vietnam War. More troubling still is the lack of a foreseeable end to the war, barring the simple withdrawal of coalition forces—an increasingly likely prospect given the persistence of the Taliban insurgency and the tone that Western political leaders have recently adopted. When the war began in late 2001, it went extremely well. The application of overwhelming airpower, along with the judicious use of ground forces to buttress indigenous anti-Taliban militias quickly precipitated the collapse of the Taliban’s control over the country. Since then, though, Taliban forces retreated into the mountains of Afghanistan and tribal regions of Pakistan to regroup and rearm. In the following years, there has been a major resurgence, and the Taliban now attack coalition forces with growing impunity and boldness. Their fighters, though typically on the losing side in direct confrontations and sustaining much higher casualty rates than their opponents, appear increasingly resolved and determined. United States intelligence suggests that since 2006, the number of armed men at the disposal of the Taliban has quadrupled, and the organization has expanded beyond its traditional power base in southern Afghanistan to threaten security elsewhere in the country. Despite the ostensible deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan, though, Western leaders have begun to discuss a timeline for withdrawal. Canada is planning to end its military mission in Kandahar by July 2011. President Obama, though having recently authorized a troop surge, is stressing the need to begin designing a timetable to withdraw in the near future. It’s hard for even a casual observer to ignore the dichotomy of an energized, strong-willed Taliban being met with the apparent loss of political will in the West.

Japan making it the second largest economy on the planet; some commentators believe it will overtake the United States in 2027. The road has been a bit rockier for the other BRIC nations, but in recent years they too have made substantial gains in growth, technological sophistication, resource exploitation and standard of living. So what do the failures in Afghanistan and the emergence of new economic superpowers have to do with one another? Both can be taken as signs that perhaps the West is past its apogee with respect to its geopolitical and economic might—that it’s now entering a long phase of senescence and decline as more vigorous civilizations emerge and come to the fore. The concept harkens back to Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, in which the German polymath puts forward the thesis that Western civilization is beginning to show the same symptoms that past civilizations— among them, Egyptian, Arabian, and Greco-Roman—had when they began to implode. Many have been critical of Spengler’s magnum opus on the basis of his status as an amateur historian and his recourse to philosophy ahead of empirical evidence to support his conjectures. Nonetheless, the basic idea behind The Decline of the West warrants further investigation today given recent global trends. More recently, historian Niall Ferguson, a professor at Harvard and the London School of Economics, wrote that “[a] hundred years ago, as we have seen, the West could justly claim to rule the world. After a century during which one Western empire after another has declined and fallen, that can no longer credibly be claimed.”

A particularly salient feature of this apparent decline is the set of serious health issues afflicting citizens of Western nations. Put simply, Canadians, Americans and Europeans are systematically smoking, drinking and eating themselves to death. Today, preventShortly after the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, Goldman Sachs published an academic paper entitled “Building Better Global able diseases are the leading causes of death in the West. The past few decades have seen an especially pronounced explosion in the Economic BRICs.” BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China—and the focus of the paper was the increasingly large role these obesity epidemic, with the share of individuals who are overweight ballooning to 60 per cent in Canada, and 75 per cent in the United four rapidly expanding markets play in the global economy. The authors posit that, owing to the vast natural resources of Russia and States. This trend is continuing despite increased media exposure, Brazil, the massive (and growing) manufacturing capacities of India due to a combination of a sedentary lifestyle fostered by high vehicle ownership rates and residential developments not amenable and China, and the huge populations and areas of all four, these to walking or cycling, as well as fatty diets lacking in adequate countries should be given a greater voice in economic matters and incorporated into the G8. The case is particularly strong for China, nutrition. Some observers speculate that if current trends continue, the present generation will be the first to have a shorter average which in 1978, under the astute leadership of Deng Xiaoping, lifespan than their parents. With it, obesity brings the blights of abandoned the fetters of a Marxist economic model by adopting a market-oriented system which encouraged trade and foreign invest- type II diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and a myriad of other chronic illnesses, all contributing to early death—not to mention ment. With that, the sleeping giant of which Napoleon Bonaparte diminished quality of life and productivity. once spoke began to stir. Since the initial reforms, China’s annual growth in GDP has averaged 9.5% a year—an astoundingly high Another troubling societal trend affecting Western society is an value which allowed the nation to generate a huge amount of wealth and reduce absolute poverty to a fraction of its former levels. ostensible lack of civic virtue manifested as political apathy. This pattern is particularly disheartening given that universal suffrage is Not only the size but the consistency of such growth is impressive. a relatively recent phenomenon. Since the late 1980s, most Western In 2007, the Chinese economy surpassed the German economy to nations have seen voter turnout levels plunge from close to 75 per become the world’s third largest—and July 2010, China surpassed


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So far, I’ve been admittedly pessimistic regarding the future prospects of the West. It’s important to note a number of caveats to what has been iterated above. First, the issues of health, political apathy, and increased consumerism—though they are most acute in Western nations, perhaps they are better seen as diseases of affluent countries rather than exclusively Western ones. As many developing countries industrialize, their obesity and domestic consumptions rates concomitantly rise, and those that are democracies see voter turnout fall. With respect to the BRIC countries, each faces a distinct set of impediments to continuing growth and prosperity. Though China has abandoned a Communist economic system, it has retained the totalitarian form of government. As Communist governments fell throughout Eastern Europe and Asia in the late 1980s, the Chinese autocrats held on, ruthlessly putting down political protests in the infamous episode at Tiananmen Square. China has seen remarkable economic growth and generally everyone there has become better off in terms of material wealth, but that growth has accrued unevenly. Discontent among economic, ethnic and religious groups is simmering. This author does not feel that a revolution in China—whether it be a peaceful, Soviet-style collapse, or one more violent and reminiscent of Romania’s Christmas revolution—is out of the question. The incipient political and economic turmoil of such a revolution would do much to frustrate continued growth in the Middle Kingdom.

In The Decline of the West, Spengler sees history as cyclical, featuring the periodic ebb and flow of new civilizations rising and old ones necessarily falling. However, this author feels Spengler made a fundamental error in his assumed periodicity of the historical timescale. The accomplishments of a civilization represent cumulative accomplishments—no society exists in a vacuum. Our modern computers would not have been possible without the knowledge or application of mathematics, the history of which reaches far into the annals of Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese history as much as Western. Barring sudden, cataclysmic collapses—the sort of which destroyed ancient, relatively isolated societies such as the Maya—we will continue to advance and grow. Famed physicist Isaac Newton acknowledged the debt we owe to our forebears in the way of consistent development in the following statement: “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” There is generally linear progression, not cyclical rise and fall. Civilizations are not bound to ‘decline,’ though they may eventually be eclipsed by others. Niall Ferguson has written on the salient decline in direct political control the West exerts over the rest of the world, specifically noting the precipitous collapse of colonial empires in the years following the Second World War. However, it is arguable that the gross sum of ‘soft power’ that the United States now exerts through its cultural and economic influence alongside its direct military and political ‘hard power’ has surpassed the scope of any antecedents. To return briefly to Afghanistan: the war there is fraught with several complexities, and the ultimate outcome remains to be seen. The coalition effort under American leadership, however, has been more successful than other modern attempts. Soviet, Imperial Russian and British efforts at subjugating this troubled mountain nation were typically met with failure. At best, the British Empire only gained a temporary measure of suzerainty over Afghanistan’s Emir. The strength of Western states lies in their capacity to re-evaluate, innovate and often re-emerge stronger than ever. Democratic institutions, though they may lose their lustre to an apathetic populace, provide an excellent institution for facilitating political turnover, by bringing in fresh ideas when old ones no longer work. Open, progressive and inclusive social mores help ward off cultural and social crystallization and stagnation, and encourage free thought and enterprise. Certainly, the West has its problems, but it also has the tools to identify those problems and begin working towards ameliorating them. One cannot deny that other nations are also ‘catching up,’ so to speak, but perhaps the projections are sometimes unwarranted given the uncertainty of possible political or social impediments that might lie ahead. This author believes that we are in the midst of an emerging multipolar world order, but one in which the West will continue to play an important and dominant role.

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India and Brazil, as democracies, should be sought out by the West as more attractive partners with great potential. There are caveats here as well, though. India is amongst the most diverse, pluralistic and multicultural nations on the planet. It has numerous ethnic, linguistic and religious fault lines, some of which—especially the Hindu-Muslim divide, and Sikh aspirations to a nation-state— represent difficult challenges to be overcome. India has also seen recent economic growth rates rivalling that of China since it adopted economic reforms in the early 1990s, but infrastructure problems, corruption, low agricultural productivity and low literacy rates need to be tackled before India’s full potential is realized. Comparatively, Brazil has done very well recently, but it has a history of problems with external debt and inflation, and persistent issues of poverty, violent crime and corruption as well.

An oft-cited shortcoming of Western civilization is a consumer mentality which drives a materialism-based culture. Millions of dollars are poured into marketing, to help hapless consumers make a choice between largely identical brand-name goods. Advertising is used to engineer demand for products and services which are only perceived necessities. People, despite their free will and independent decision making, are still subject to social mores and pressures, and the subtle techniques of contemporary marketing firms. The virtues of fiscal prudence and a spendthrift attitude are being forgotten. Some commentators say that the recent sub-prime mortgage meltdown and incumbent global recession are symptoms of this trend—effectively, the banks were lending people money to buy things they couldn’t afford. The crisis emerged as people were unable to pay back these loans. Another symptom is the trade deficit some Western countries—like the United States—have with places like China, which are manufacturing these consumer goods. The Chinese, in turn, have been able to accrue large stocks of American dollars, a fact worth noting since it has a historical parallel with significant implications: in 1956, a third world war loomed when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal to the consternation of the British and French governments, who had built it. The British and French, supported by the nascent Israeli state, planned on forcibly retaking control of the strategically important waterway, but the Soviet Union soon announced its intention to support Egypt, potentially forcing a global conflagration. President Eisenhower stopped the war by forcing the British to back down—without the British, the French and the Israelis had to acquiesce. Eisenhower accomplished this by threatening to dump the substantial holdings of British pounds sterling the American government had, which meant that if the British started a war over the Suez, he would ruin their economy. So, China’s large holdings of American dollars could give it real diplomatic leverage in any possible tense diplomatic situation with the United States.

Russia, despite pretensions to democracy, has arguably seen the clock turned back in the Putin years. The very fact that a former KGB man ascended to the highest ranks of government raises questions about exactly how profound political change has really been. Russia’s potential for economic greatness lies in its vast natural resources—but the government has consistently demonstrated it is not above using these resources as diplomatic tools. In a modern take on ‘gun-boat diplomacy,’ the Russian government has often threatened to shut off oil and gas pipelines to gain leverage over neighbouring Belarus, Ukraine, and Western Europe – which undermines its attractiveness to prospective investors. With domestic terrorism, a falling population and crumbling infrastructure to round out the list, this former superpower has a number of serious issues to redress before it can seriously emerge as a global leader.

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nations have seen voter turnout levels plunge from close to 75 per cent to nearly 60 per cent, with the most significant losses in the youngest age bracket. Furthermore, evidence suggests that youth who abstain from voting are unlikely to start later in life—indicating that voter participation rates will in all likelihood continue to fall.


Disarming a Major “What If”:

The Looming Threat of a Nuclear Iran Jason Wiseman

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“In most cohesive democracies, the government’s toleration of public debate, freedom of speech and political protest is a prerequisite for the establishment of legitimate rule.” As the clock continues to tick on Iran’s drive to acquire nuclear weapons, the options on hand to the international community are dwindling by the hour. With the two priorities being from the prevention of Iran’s accumulation of nuclear weapons and putting a halt to Iran’s serial human rights violations, the options available to the international community lie somewhere between bad and worse. While many are unsure about whether a nuclear Iran poses a genuine threat to the international community or what can be done to stop this regime from persecuting its own people, this article will identify why a nuclear Iran poses a clear and present danger to international peace and security and what can be done to confront the Iranian regime before it is too late.

into submission by incarcerating, brutalizing and murdering anyone they deem a threat. To stand by while this regime pursues nuclear weapons will not only destroy the Iranian people’s hopes for freedom and change, but will undoubtedly embolden human rights abusers worldwide. In addressing the threat a nuclear Iran poses to the wider region, three facts must be analyzed: Iran’s state-sponsorship of terrorism, their state-sanctioned incitement of genocide and their goal to become a hegemonic super-power.

For over a decade, the Iranian regime has been the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism, providing material, financial and operaAnalysis of the threat a nuclear Iran poses will be separated into tional support to terrorist organizations operating from Afghanistan three categories: domestic, regional and international. The argument to Argentina. The IRGC has a sect called Al-Quds which deals with will be made that the only way this regime can be dealt with is if the their proxy terrorist armies such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Muslim international community were to unite in opposition to Iran’s human Brotherhood cells throughout the Middle East. The Iranian regime rights atrocities, supporting the Iranian people’s fight for freedom and continues to spend billions of dollars on funding these terrorist acting together to stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons at all costs. organizations, resulting in the deterioration of the Iranian economy The consequences of failing to stop Iran from going nuclear would and the expansion of deadly weaponry for Iran’s proxy armies. With result in the end of any hopes of freedom for the Iranian people, the the majority of their funds and weapons marked for Hamas and Hezdestruction of the Middle East peace process and the undermining of bollah, these terrorist groups have accumulated thousands of tons of global nuclear arms reduction. weapons that have been designed for use against civilian targets. As of 2009, Iran had assassinated 127 dissident leaders in sixteen different In addressing this domestic threat, it must first be made clear countries including the US and several European nations. In recent that the Iranian regime is a closed society that provides few rights years, Iran has stepped up its support of Shiite militias in Iraq and and freedoms to its own citizens while using terror and brutality to anti-NATO forces in Afghanistan, becoming the primary obstacle to keep its people in check. It has long since abandoned the will of the peace and stability in both countries. Its use of elite death squads and Iranian population and acts only on behalf of the select few who terrorist proxy armies has become standard practice for the regime, cling to power through force. Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, having nearly replaced Iranian diplomacy altogether. the regime has been consistently at war against the Iranian people. The regime is infamous for its repressive treatment of citizens based In regards to Iran’s incitement to genocide, this is perhaps the on ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation. Religious and most alarming factor when analyzing Iran. Its straightforward calls ethnic minorities such as Sunni Muslims, Baha’is, Jews, Kurds, Arabs, for the destruction of the State of Israel has made Iran the only UN Turkmen and others are not attributed equal rights and are regumember-state ever to publicly declare that it is committed to the larly persecuted. The regime’s persecution of its own people is best destruction of another UN member-state. As the most open violation personified by its treatment of Iranian women. Over the past three of the UN Human Rights Charter ever made by a head of state, Iran decades, at least 120 women have been stoned to death on the charge continues to call for the annihilation of Israel on a near daily basis. of adultery, often on the basis of hearsay. Most recently, international Whether Iran would actually act on this statement is often called into outcry has focused on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43 year old question, but given that hateful speech is often followed by hateful mother of two who currently sits on death row, waiting to be stoned. action and the international community must take these statements In other cases, women who have suffered rape have been sentenced seriously. To stand idly by while a state that openly proclaims a to death or prison by Iran’s judicial system. Women are barred from genocidal goal opts to develop nuclear weaponry would simply be working as judges or in any senior diplomatic or political position. suicidal. No country, particularly one with as serious a security threat Tens of thousands of women have been sent to prison over the past as Israel, can sit back and wait to be annihilated. three decades and at least 120 have been executed on the charge of “waging war on Allah.” Therefore, it is hardly surprising that women Perhaps the hardest fact to digest about the danger the Iranian have been at the centre of struggle for freedom and democracy in regime poses to the region is its hegemonic ambitions. Since the IraIran. nian Revolution, the regime has promoted a messianic vision which they believe is destined to conquer the world. Promoting an obscure After the brazenly fraudulent election last summer, the Iranian and uncompromising version of Islam, Iran has maintained its policy regime has once again clamped down on its opposition and minority of spreading the revolution for over 30 years. In a speech on January groups in order to secure its position. Having sent their military, 5, 2005, President Ahmadinejad stated that “[w]e don’t shy away the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to occupy disfrom declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world. We must prepare sident provinces while using paramilitary forces known as the Basij ourselves to rule the world.” Although it is certainly hard to envision and Ansar Hezbollah to hunt down those who protest against the such an idea, Iran has been trying to overthrow and intimidate its regime, the leadership of Iran continues to terrorize the population rivals by inciting rebellion in various countries while engaging in


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met with clenched fists as Iran continues to undercut a President who they see as weak and unable to stop them. As far as the risk of widespread nuclear proliferation is concerned, this danger has already come to fruition as a result of Iran’s progress in its nuclear weapons program. Iran has already set off an arms race in the Middle East adding further instability to an already fragile region. States currently believed to be pursuing nuclear weapons include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Algeria. If Iran is able to acquire It is important to note that Iran’s support for its hegemonic vision nuclear arms, it will undoubtedly export this technology to its allies, overpowers its allegiance to fellow Shiite Muslims. Having aligned opening the possibility for nuclear arms races in Latin America and itself with Communist North Korea, Socialist Hugo Chavez and Africa. If the international community fails to act, Obama’s policy of various Sunni Muslim movements throughout the Middle East and arms reduction will be a devastating failure as he will inadvertently sit Central Asia, Iran has shown its willingness to abandon any religious over the largest increase of nuclear proliferation in history. or ethnic allegiance for the sake of its revolutionary goals. If Iran successfully acquires nuclear weapons, the security and sovereignty of Since the stakes are so high in dealing with this regime, the Middle Eastern and Central Asian states will be put under an alarm- question is what can be done? Attempts at dialogue and engageing threat, the likes of which they have never known. It will destroy ment on Iran’s terms are doomed to fail because a regime that boasts the Iranian people’s hopes for regime change and increase the danger a messianic mission cannot change its behaviour on any critical of nuclear terrorism worldwide. issues of its foreign or domestic policy, if it did this would only be a temporary strategic maneuver. The only way to address this regime is Another critical danger a nuclear Iran poses to the region is the for the international community to uniformly oppose Iran’s nuclear devastating effect this would have on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Iran’s weapons program and human rights violations, cease any business fierce opposition to any peaceful settlement between Israelis and dealings with the regime and support the Iranian peoples struggle for Palestinians has been steadfast for decades. Iran works tirelessly to freedom. increase the threat of terrorism against both parties in the hopes of undermining any efforts from either side to come to an agreed settleThe conditions for change in Iran are currently present and ment. Since it only takes one large terrorist attack or a series of small should be seized by the international community while the opattacks in close proximity to each other to undercut any negotiations, portunity remains. Optimistic signs include the considerable loss Iran steps up its support for terrorism whenever the Israelis and Pales- of legitimacy both domestically and internationally as a result of tinians agree to sit at the negotiation table. This is clearly demonstrat- last year’s fraudulent election. Recent intelligence has shown that ed by the Karine A affair in 2002 when Iran was caught red-handed there is a major split within the ruling establishment itself, creating shipping a freighter filled with Katyusha rockets, missiles and suicide widespread dissent and opposition amongst the leading centers of bomb vests to the Gaza Strip at the outset of breakthroughs during the regime, resulting in the opening up of space for opposition where negotiations at the Taba Summit. Since Iran successfully engineered there once was none. As a result of Iran’s top-down enforcement of Hamas and Hezbollah into control over of the Gaza Strip and South- religious obedience, a bottom-up growth of secularization has been ern Lebanon, the peace process has been further endangered by Iran’s instrumental in creating a new generation of highly sophisticated and state-sponsorship of terrorism. It is because of this behaviour that intelligent youth who are weary of the current regime and willing a nuclear armed Iran would greatly encourage the regime and their to fight against it. Another encouraging factor is that the IRGC and proxy armies to step up their exporting of arms and terrorism, thus professional police have become increasingly hesitant to use force enhancing their ability to undermine any Middle East peace efforts. against their own people, forcing the regime to increase its depenIt is almost impossible to envision peace between Arabs and Israelis dence on unofficial paramilitaries. Furthermore, the social dynamics with a nuclear Iran in the neighbourhood. of Iran have changed dramatically over the last 15 years, with more and more Iranians seeking guidance from non-official or even antiThis brings us to the international threat posed by a nuclear Iran. official mullahs, creating an alternative source of moral authority in This danger cannot be understated because it threatens two essential society. Finally, there are dissident leaders living in Iran and abroad elements for international peace and security: upholding internawho are highly influential and seek a reformation of their homeland tional law and preventing further nuclear proliferation. In addressin the hopes of bettering their fellow countrymen and improving ing these issues it will be made clear that Iran is actively engaged in Iran’s relations with the international community. undermining both of these components for its own self-interest. The last condition necessary to see hopeful change in Iran and the As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, if Iran were able quelling of the nuclear threat is action from the outside world. This to successfully develop nuclear weapons it will have openly violated is where we come in. The US, Canada, EU, Russia and China must one of the most critical treaties of international law. The result of Iran take the side of the Iranian people in order to kick out the last legs acquiring nuclear weapons will be the nullification of the NPT which this regime stands on, which are its use of blackmail and terrorism will force other states to quickly withdraw from it once they realize against states. If citizens of these countries demand that their leaders that international law can be candidly violated without any serious take the initiative to assure the Iranian people in no uncertain terms, punishment. The repercussions of this will set off a domino effect in that they are on the side of the struggle for Iranian freedom and unraveling other treaties of international law and regional security ar- against the regime, we can likely see promising changes. The internarangements between states. The entire world is watching Iran closely tional community must help expose the regime’s repressive policies, on this front, making it absolutely critical that states act in a unified human rights violations, rampant corruption and widespread support manner to prevent this unraveling of international law so the world for terrorist organizations so the nuclear threat can be defeated and can be assured that treaties and agreements are both meaningful and the Iranian people can seek a brighter future. The stakes are simply enforceable. too high to sit back and do nothing, and although supporting regime change is risky, delicate and often controversial, the risk is worth the Since coming to office in 2009, two major priorities for the reward. Only if the world acts together can Iran be transformed into Obama administration have been to diplomatically engage Iran and an honest broker that is willing to abandon its aggression towards its reduce nuclear weapons worldwide. During the last year and a half of citizens and neighbours. It is the responsibility of the international Obama’s policy of engagement, Iran has nearly quadrupled its output community to prevent the disaster on the horizon before it is too late, of uranium enrichment while repeatedly stalling and withdrawing and the time to act is five minutes until midnight. from negotiations at the last second. Obama’s open hands have been

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territorial disputes with Gulf States such as Kuwait and the UAE. The regime even went so far as to claim that the Arab state of Bahrain was an official “province” of Iran which must be reunited with “its motherland.” Iran concentrates its efforts on inciting radical Shiite organizations in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen while maintaining close contact with Sunni fundamentalist groups in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and the Palestinian Territories.


When Will China Learn to Tolerate its Own Citizens? Erin MacFarlane

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The country’s mysterious government needs to understand that with greater power comes greater responsibility – and allowing for the rise of a peaceful public sphere may be the only way to maintain a positive economic relationship with the rest of the international community As China’s global influence continues to grow, so does the strength of its civil society. In most cohesive democracies, the government’s toleration of public debate, freedom of speech and political protest is a prerequisite for legitimate rule. The advanced economies of the world today have realized this. China, however, is decades behind. The Chinese Communist Party’s authoritative style is outdated. In the twenty-first century, the party’s traditional hard-lined tactics seem unreasonable and are utterly incomparable to those of Western democracies. With a greater wealth of media resources at its disposal and the international community on its side, the Chinese population has arguably never been in a better position to fight for their own freedoms. At this point, it seems logical that the state would slowly begin to relax the tight leash of control it has had on Chinese civilians for centuries. By allowing the public to freely express their opinions, give them access to non-state controlled media outlets and tolerate peaceful demonstrations, the CCP would be making significant strides towards becoming a well-rounded economic powerhouse. However, as political scientists have learned, the Chinese government usually doesn’t follow any particular logic. Over centuries, the CCP’s actions have reinforced the unpredictability of the regime and shown how the leadership is virtually fearless, irrational and intimidating as all hell. What the twenty-first century holds for China is anyone’s guess. The party has expressed intolerance for political dissent since the CCP was founded in 1921. The Tiananmen Square student protests in 1989 served as a grim reminder of the state’s ability to exercise violence and repress those who dare to challenge the status quo. Similarly, the 1999 state-led backlash against the Falun Gong phenomenon has reinforced the message. For centuries, the government has been able to capitalize on the public’s fear of state-led repression in order to implement its centralized policies without question.

and the next decade will likely bring increased activism by citizens, journalists and non-governmental organizations alike. The question remains, however: will the CCP tolerate the rise of an engaged public sphere? Can the two entities peacefully co-exist? According to Stanley Rosen, author of The State of Youth/Youth and the State in Early 21st Century China, the CCP currently holds a high level of performance legitimation. This means that the government’s authority is derived solely from its moral and economic performance. So far, the CCP has succeeded in retaining public support—Beijing’s finances are balanced, inflation is kept low, and the tax burden is manageable—but there are telltale signs that this honeymoon period won’t last forever. Rosen rightly questions what will happen to China in 20 years, when the aging population passes away and is replaced by a new generation of youth who have a declining belief in the communist ideology and an increasingly negative perception of the CCP. The instability of performance legitimation also means that a period of economic stagnation could further weaken the state’s authority. Yang Yao, Deputy Dean of the National School of Development and the Director of the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University had stated that “[a]s the Chinese people demand more than economic gains as their income increases, it will become increasingly difficult for the CCP to contain or discourage social discontent by administering the medicine of economic growth alone.” Making gradual concessions to the Chinese public would help the CCP gain greater respect, admiration and support— particularly from a mobilized generation of citizens who can be expected to instigate similar protests to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989. Furthermore, if the CCP were to continue to silence the country’s public sphere, China’s recent economic expansion and rise to global prominence would be severely undermined. The country is reported to officially overtake Japan as the second-largest economy in the world at the end of the fiscal year, and the nation surpassed the United States as the world’s top energy consumer in July 2010. With a promising economic future on the horizon, the government cannot afford to let human rights issues override its accomplishments. Pressures from the international community will undoubtedly play a role in shaping the Chinese government’s response to a rising public sphere, and it is important for the CCP to realize that it will not be able to enjoy the benefits of participating in a globalized marketplace without following basic international codes of conduct.

Less than half a decade after the state’s denunciation of Falun Gong, however, a promising new trend appears to be emerging. Gradual reforms have resulted in changes to the CCP’s role in the political system, which has hindered the party’s ability to dictate compliance. Not only has society’s belief in communism declined comparative to previous years, but new generations of individualistic and pragmatic Chinese youth have also begun to utilize the media in different ways. According to a report from China Internet Network Information Center, approximately 29 per cent of China’s 1.3 billion citizens were using the Internet as of 2009. That number The CCP also faces another major predicament: the government’s is expected to further accelerate within the next year. pursuit of an aggressive agenda of modernization and development in recent years inherently necessitates greater integration into the China has gained an increasingly progressive civil society moveglobal community. To become truly interconnected, however, the ment. In fact, the state’s relationship with the public could quite CCP must embrace digital communications technologies at the possibly be more uncertain now than it has ever been in the past— state level, while simultaneously continuing to restrict the use of


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CCP’s rule will remain unchallenged for decades. The real answers aren’t easy to predict, nor is the transformation easy to make—but these decisions must be made nonetheless.

At a time when Chinese civilians have unprecedented access to media outlets and the popularity of the state’s traditional communist ideology is diminishing, the rise of a powerful civil society has never posed a greater threat to the CCP. It’s ironic that a vibrant public To supplement the rise of the online sphere, many non-governmen- sphere will no doubt be essential to the party’s interests if it wishes tal organizations within China have gained increasing exposure in to remain a key player in the global economy; one can only hope recent years—and the role they play in the political system has also that the Chinese state is sensible enough to acknowledge this. started to shift. According to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, there were approximately 4,544 registered social organizations within While it’s true that greater global exposure necessitates greater China in 1989. At the end of 2006, there were reportedly more responsibility, it may take more than seemingly harmless internathan 354,000 registered NGOs. Today, it is estimated that there are tional pressures to finally bring the CCP to its knees. Over the next millions of NGOs operating within the country’s borders that are few years, the Chinese government must find a way to ensure that unregistered and not recognized by the state: a majority of which the most important aspects of socialism survive, while rewarding is grassroots or community-based groups that still work towards a the public with an increase in controlled democratic rights. The common goal of change. maintenance of power through the threat of violent force would only further intensify society’s desire to work towards ousting the The benefits of the continued growth of non-state actors are plenti- regime, and create serious repercussions when facing the global ful. First of all, NGOs create a constructive arena in which the community. Chinese public can voice their political frustrations, and in time can become reputable vessels in the process of lobbying for change. Above all, it would be wise for the CCP to view its current situIf the CCP continues to position itself against non-state actors, the ation as a rare opportunity—to forge an unprecedented bond organizations will inevitably become the party’s worst enemies. between civil society and the state. If the state were to become more liberal in its management of criticism from the public, the party China’s political system is extremely intricate, and must be manwould be perceived as increasingly legitimate in the long term—it’s aged carefully within China’s own move further into the global a win-win situation. sphere. According to some theorists, the country should have begun the transition to a democracy by now, while others insist that the

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“A possible first step on China’s part would be to begin to tolerate and encourage the arrival of highprofile companies such as Google in the media and information sectors.”

On the one hand, it’s impossible for the CCP to justify its own use of the Internet and other revolutionary resources without granting unmonitored access to the people. The Internet has surged in popularity in recent years, marking the emergence of a new forum, allowing civilians to challenge and critique the government in anonymity without fear of punishment. Throughout 2009, the number of citizens using the Internet within China grew by approximately 86 million—a number greater than the total population of Germany—making China the world’s largest online community. Reports have indicated that it has already become more difficult for the CCP to control the spread of political opinion online, and the continued growth of the Internet will only further hinder the CCP’s ability to retain widespread support. In fact, due to this recent momentum that has been propelling the growth of civil society, the Chinese media has recently declared a “guerilla war” against the Publicity Department of the Communist Party. Domestic media outlets are finally fighting back against the restrictions that have limited the content of journalism for centuries. Ultimately, failing to give civilians unrestricted access to new technologies will merely hurt China’s goals and ambitions for full integration into the global community. The state would end up ill equipped to become a competitive world power. A possible first step on China’s part would be to begin to tolerate and encourage the arrival of high-profile companies such as Google in the media and information sectors. In recent years, the search engine has become immensely popular among Chinese citizens. Although the government still blocks various banned topics from being searched within the country, Google has given the Chinese public greater exposure to online news and media content than ever before. In March of 2010, however, Google withdrew its search engine services from China in an effort to make a stand against Beijing’s tough censorship laws. With over 400 million Internet users today, this move was a huge blow to Chinese society. As of August 2010, Google’s future in the country is still uncertain. This situation shows that although the state is making progress and embracing various new forms of technology, the CCP unfortunately still plays a large role in censoring accessible Internet content and controlling consumption.

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these powerful media tools by civilians. Maintaining this delicate balance has escalated into an impossibly difficult challenge.

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how green is recycling? Kate Jeffery

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before, only now more of it must be recycled. Mcdonough and Braungart, in their revolutionary book Cradle to Cradle - Remaking the Way We Make Things, explain the reasons why being less bad is no good. In their book they call recycling an aspirin alleviating a rather large collective hangover; over consumption, and that ‘the best way to reduce any environmental impact is not to recycle more but to produce and dispose of less’ (2002: 50). Most recycling the authors explain is actually ‘down cycling’ which reduces the quality of a product over time. Paper for example can only be recycled once or twice before becoming useless. When aluminum cans, which are made of two different types of aluminum are recycled, the result is a weaker and less useful product. Just because a material is recycled does not automatically make it ecologically benign, especially if it was not designed to be recycled.‘Blindly adopting superficial environmental approaches without fully understanding their effects can be no better and perhaps even worse than doing nothing’ (2002: 59). Understanding these principles and the, shall we say ‘close’, relationship our government has with corporations, will place environmental responsibility where it should be, with the consumer! I believe we cannot afford to wait for stronger policies regulating the actions of the corporation and the individual. We can begin by rejecting senseless packaging. Rejecting water privatization and drinking from the tap, (which is the most regulated water in Canada). Refuse Styrofoam takeout and meat packaging butchers in Kensington for example wrap their meat in paper, which can then be placed in the green bin. Boycott paper towels and ziplock bags, and shop at farmers markets! Buy dehydrated products Vs. canned, and ladies please check out the diva cup (www.divacup.com). Most important is that we challenge the desire which is thrown at us through advertising every day. These decisions may be difficult at first, but reducing the amount of recyclable material is a big step towards a sustainable planet.

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Critiquing the practice of recycling has turned into quite a moist topic, especially now that being an environmental steward is trendy, and can conveniently be purchased. We all try our best to recycle, perhaps remembering cloth bags when shopping or re-using containers and paper products. These practices are generally accepted and ingrained. Two of the R’s reuse and recycle are accounted for, yet the third and hardest member to hit is reduction, which is unfortunately the most important. High consumption of unjustified amounts of packaging has become culturally accepted and only perpetuated by our government. Ziplock bags, paper towels, plastic water bottles, even tampons and pads (I know getting I’m getting a little radical) have saturated North America for too long. I argue that recycling without an emphasis on reduction falls into a negligent category environmental critics call ‘green washing.’ Green labels appear everywhere from Nestle water bottles, Charmin paper towels, and car commercials. I have deep concern for anyone who believes that buying these products will in any way lower our ecological footprint. Looking at the root of all environmental action, one will see the strong call to consume less, not ‘differently.’ Unfortunately this type of realization runs against the norms of our market driven society. With the current conservative government, corporate responsibility will only become further deregulated, continuing the labeling of products and practices green, a word which seems to be losing it’s true meaning. When closely looking at David Miller’s new Toronto waste minimization regime one can clearly see the green washing. With the passing of Bill 518, by 2010 Toronto can no longer send its 90 garbage Trucks a day to Michigan. Having exceeded our own landfills the city has made a seemingly rigorous goal to divert 70 percent of our waste. Critics have no doubt that this goal will be achieved, and at very low effort of the citizen. We can produce as much trash as

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“Two of the R’s: reuse and recycle are accounted for, yet the third and hardest member to hit is reduction, which is unfortunately the most important.”


Smokeshow

Confessions of an Electro Ho Virtuoso

WINNIE TRUONG The Jungle Book

Sunday Best Leroy kills himself


Arts


Smokeshow/ Alice Greenberg

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Sportscaster-turned-tour guide-turned handicap-bus driver, it seems fitting that Bob Flaherty has earned the right to write a memoir. What seems puzzling, however, is that the account is not a wholesome biographical tale, detailing the particulars of his toils and the importance of an earnest, hard earned job; rather, the story focuses on two brothers’ dizzying and desperate quest for a hard-earned joint and, most of all, trouble. In his own words, Bob Flaherty considers the value of stories, writing and what it means to author a book named Puff. I’ve read somewhere that your novel, Puff, has been based on your own life. Is that true? If so, how much of the story is based on real events or characters? It’s 67.6% bonafide (I said that on a TV show once) and that’s more than you can say for most memoirs. The thing about fiction – it allows you to do some rearranging: In Puff, Gully, the younger brother, pulls a nutty at what was supposed to be his induction into the service, knocks over a pitcher of ice water, calls the commanding officer a “real long descriptive name ending in Cub Scout” and ends up getting chased through Boston’s waterfront by Military Police. Did my brother really do all that? Sadly, no. I did. Word for word. In the book it made more sense to give it to Gully. You pick and choose. I also met my wife in the Blizzard of ’78 and we’ve been together ever since. The heroine in Puff, Dally Schoerner, has a lot of Annemarie in her, and yes, she and I did once spend a night in a public school. Summarize your novel in a sentence. Fall-down funny page-turner about two antisocial working-class brothers who disguise their beaten-up van as a Red Cross truck in order to traverse banned Boston streets and score a bag of weed during the Blizzard of ’78, resulting in them being mistaken for actual rescue workers. Now there’s a sentence – is it OK if it’s run-on?. What pushed you to publish Puff as a novel? Did you always have tendencies for writing or was this an experiment of sorts? Always wrote for magazines at the various colleges I attended, but for years afterwards the only thing I wrote were captions for cartoons or copy for radio. Then my wife signed me up for this writing workshop and one night I used a Sharpie to scribble an 80-page story about my adventures in the Blizzard of ’78 called “The Red Cross Men,” which caused my entire workshop to wet themselves in laughter, which caused me to go, “Hmmmm,” and the next thing you know I’m mailing two sample chapters to an agent in New York, and the rest is (queue up some guitar-fueled anthem) history. You’ve had some interesting careers before you came to settle on writing. Any particular memories from the jobs that stand out? Man, how much room do you have in this magazine? This could be anything from interviewing 91-year-old Grandpa Munster on the radio from his home in NYC to being the sort of janitor who used 8-foot flourescent tubes for target practice on a Dumpster three stories below. (page 131 in Puff) It’s all good, but I wouldn’t recommend my particular pitfallen path to many people.* Ironically, will be performing a one man show this winter: “Take ALL Your Jobs and Shove ‘em.” Since I’ve held approximately 194 jobs during my stay on this planet, I’m qualified for just about anything. On paper, my professional credentials have as many holes in them as a best-selling memoir, but there are certain fields, which, due to my years of experience in them, make me virtually recession-proof. Shoveling dung? I’ve got references. Renting Room 17 to the town official and his 20-year-old paramour every Tuesday at 2:45? On a first-name basis. Talking on the radio to Grandpa Munster from his home in New York for 25 minutes? Only once, but worth all those lectures I missed. Many of my earlier jobs involved driving something. Simple explanation - I had a feel for the sport. Ever since I was a kid I could handle a car. Yes, I did total my father’s Dodge Dart a week after I got my license, but

that didn’t mean I didn’t learn from it. What I failed to learn, among many other things, was how a car actually worked. Since I was lazy as a tree, the inner workings of anything were beyond my interest. I would have been hard-pressed to identify a single item under the hood, and that’s if I could figure out how to pop the hood in the first place. But driving those shiny machines? Just point me in the right direction, pops. What is the Esquire napkin project and how did you get involved in it? Up and coming authors like me and even ones who MAKE money were invited by Esquire to write a story on a napkin, the idea being that a lotta great ideas were conceived on bar napkins. They sent me a napkin with the mag’s logo on it, very cool. The rules said you could use illustration so I sure did. The story is about a white guy who so identifes with his black brethren, he takes injections to darken his skin, except he wants to do it slowly so no one will notice, but his quack screws it up and in a week’s time he’s the darkest man on earth. Boy, was his family surprised. Just a little satire on our obsession with race. It’s been a while since Puff has emerged as a novel—and has gotten great critical acclaim. Is there a new book in the works? Pretty far into a “memoir” called “Ass Backwards,” though I’m thinking of changing it to “Memoir; a novel.” Working on a Y/A novel about the ocean that’ll make your hair stand on end, also a sequel to Puff, and my agent is shopping a children’s book about this uncoordinated kid who gets hynotized into becoming a soccer player – except, like all my stories, it goes terribly wrong. Puff is being made into a major motion picture (congratulations, by the way!). Can you tell us a little about that? There is an option on Puff, the second one – hopefully they’ll get the movie made. I don’t know much about the cast, though there was early talk of me playing the dad. “The DAD?” I cried. “I wanna play the DUDE.” I mean, Muhammad Ali played himself in a movie about his life, right? Of course, he was 35 playing 23 and I’d be…………OK, so I’m not playing the dude. Would you let your children read the book (bearing in mind that much of it is about your own quest to find pot during a snowstorm by stealing an ambulance)? (Minor note: the brothers do not steal an ambulance, they dress up their late dad’s van to look like a rescue vehicle. Of course, they do break into a school in the middle of the night, so it’s not like they’re above breaking the law.) As for the grass and everything, I think you gotta look at it like a movie. If Puff were a film, the language alone would earn it an R rating – “UNDER 17 REQUIRES ACCOMPANYING PARENT OR ADULT GUARDIAN!” I would be that accompanying parent and took my sons to tons of Rs. You may not be that sort of parent. That’s why they have ratings. So if your kids want to read my book I guess you have to sit there with them. Word of advice to aspiring young memoirists? Keep writing til you find your voice, then just keep writing. Then, when you get a whole pile of stuff, go back and revise the beejeezus out of it, decide if it’s fiction or memoir, and start letting people read it.


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Confessions of an Electro Ho Virtuoso/ Ally Hall

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If you’ve ever woken up with a splitting headache, a trail of clothes at your feet and only an inbox full of attempted words to help you decipher what may have transpired, chances are Will Steep can relate. But this isn’t your average frat boy... You have a ton of tracks about the scene like Combine Steep’s penchant for smooth and catchy rhymes with the beats of his partner in “Drugs & Dancing”, what are you inspired by? crime and crassness Ed Huszar and you’ve got I actually find myself getting a little annoyed, I wont name any artists, electro duo The Girls Can Hear Us. especially with artists that are somewhat compared to us in the electro hip hop genre. But I’m hard pressed to find things with any substance. After a whirlwind year of online frenzy for Were not a political or extremely insightful act and that’s not really what the Londoners, they’ve released their full I’m going for. I hate how contrived a lot of especially the electro hip hop length LP Every Day proving it’s possible to stuff sounds. It’s just the most generic lines I’ve ever heard in my life. The break out of web success—not to mention taking their constant presence in the blogo- vast majority of the acts coming out of that genre, I’m really expecting that it’ll change as people recognize it’s fluff. I don’t want to be compared sphere to the bank. to them anymore than we have to be. Anything I write comes out of a night I had, or directly out of a conversation I had with somebody, its Hearing them described as everything from very biographical, anytime I say ‘she said’ or ‘I said’ it’s something that’s “a bottle of Grey Goose and piles of cocaine” happened between sort of when I’ve been 16 and now. to a “better, Canadian LMFAO” had me expecting a chat with Steep to have a heaping side of debauchery. Though I wasn’t entirely off base, What’s your idea of a perfect gig? I was pleasantly surprised to hear his insights on the state of his genre and philosophies on I mean I want to play stadiums. Madison Square gardens probably. I living life by no one’s guidelines but your own. really want to get to Lollapalooza and Coachella. Those are the venues that would be ideal for me. This has been a bit of a crazy trip, you guys have gained a lot of notoriety quite quickly, As far as shows we’ve played, Jack’s in London when I first got back from Hawaii was unreal. We just fucking packed the place so much, did you expect it? everybody lost their minds. It was dollar beer night there the night we played so everybody just got fully retarded and it was a sweaty mess, we No not at all, we knew right away that we had a good sound going, all raged. but I’m 26 now and I treated it as a hobby. I started this type of music around grade 9 and didn’t try to do shows or anything until around 2 years ago when I started working with Ed. It’s been a bit of a pleasant There’s a huge range between “Wrong for surprise and steadily climbing for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to live off it You” and tracks like “Shooting Star” & “You for a little while. want it, I want it”. What are your influences? Does all the hype make you nervous? It really just excites me. People ask me if im nervous for shows but the performance itself never makes me nervous. The only time is if I don’t know the promoter and if they’re not going to get a good turn out for us. I basically get paid to go have the best time out of anybody, its like im playing the sickest game of Simon Says ever, like throw your hands up, drink, get up on stage and dance, repeat, my complaints are pretty non-existent. How did this start?

Ed is influenced by a lot of DJs, Daft Punk is his favourite act, if he find a melody he wants to change, that’s his starting point a lot of the time. I’ll name my favourite acts, but I don’t find myself being influences by them. I don’t think I sound like any of my favourite artists, im frankly not in the same sensibility as some of my favourite artists, Royce 59, and Mos Def and Talib [Kweli] and those types of guys, you know we wouldn’t relate to each other if we met, but they’re my favourite rappers. Beyond recognizing some aspects of their flow that I like, I don’t think I’m influenced by anything outside of my own life Do you guys party as much as the music implies?

We went to Fanshawe. I moved here from Ottawa and enrolled in the Media and Design program here. We had classes together but we didn’t really talk much until December 08. We had a chat, exchanged we both make music and in January 09 we sat down and recorded a track together. It went really well so we kept going from there.

I kind of have to, there’s nothing in the songs that hasn’t happened. Me spilling my guts, that’s what’s going on there. If I wake up at 9 pm im early for work so it’s average 6 nights a week I’d say.

Where did you two come up with the name?

There’s so many sick electro acts these days, how do feel you broke out?

In the second place I moved into since I came to London, there was this Our music is pretty good. We had and still have some very supportive vent in the ceiling of the living room and there was a group of like 4 people that have helped. I think something that’s been different for us or 5 girls on the western track team who lived above us. We’d struggled we’ve had some good people getting us good gigs and were pretty good with coming up with a name, giving your band a name is kind of like is We sound very very close to the recording in a live setting, so usually, giving yourself a nick name, it’s just sort of an awkward or weird thing live. if we do a show, I’ll get the emails and fan ads will bump up in the next to do. Anyway we were friends with these girls but they had different couple days pretty significantly. The fact that were confident and work sleep schedules than us for sure, they had stuff to do in the morning. hard to make sure were good live helps us continue to get bookings Whenever we’d record a new song my roommates would bump it like Also the street team thing for us, I can’t say enough about how thankful a thousand times and I’d go and party a lot and we’d get these angry am to the friends and acquaintances that get really excited about the Facebook messages that were like, “Stop having sex and playing music at Imusic go out and tell their friends, you have to listen to this, you 5 in the morning.” One night we were all jamming and someone was have toand come to this show, get their ear out initially and then become freaking out after finding out what docking was for the first time. I said fans themselves. something fucked up in response and then was like, “Oh shit I forgot, the girls can hear us,” and that was it.


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How important is the web to your success? We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t for what’s happened online. It was everything for us, up until a couple months ago. Now that we’ve got a tour put together, were becoming a bigger deal in the real world but we were sort of an internet hype band.

going to write something that people like that much again. It hasn’t been a problem though, things have been improving if anything for us…I think it’s Larry David with Seinfeld episodes that used to say, he’d have a really good episode and he’d spend the whole following week stressing out that he’d never come up with any jokes like that again.

So that nags at me a little bit, as far as responsibility content wise, I look at it not much differently than I look at living, all you can really do is be honest, don’t be deliberately mean to anybody and hopefully people like Our local base has been pretty great, especially since I came back in May. you or what you do. I don’t spend much time thinking about whether people think of the integrity of my content because I know im being honWe came back and it was like everybody had been talking about us while we were gone. That was the impression I got. I came back and we est, they’re either going to dig it or they’re not. played 3 shows in 2 weeks in London. London’s not that big a town so it Let’s talk about the album, you say it’s “like should’ve diluted things but they all sold out and had lineups. London’s Coke with no side effects”, what was it like a really good vibe for what were doing it’s a good party town. A lot of the stories have come out of the bars on Richmond Rd., in that sense yes. to make? There’s a few other electro DJs here who I’ve become friends with who Sure, at times on the record I was feeling those side effects. I guess that’s I think are really good, so maybe the fact that im hearing a lot of what maybe a bit lofty. The album took just under a year to put together. We they do, that could be. I haven’t thought about that enough but that put together 27 songs and put together our favourite 16.The album’s all could be influential for me. original tracks and the songs are ordered by title in a way that it’s supA cityscape on the album and the website, do posed to make the most sense and the stories are pretty close to chronological. Also Ed and I tried to work it out wherethe titles are put together in you guys have a love of city life? a way where if you just read through them it makes sense like they could be check points in a conversation about somebody. I fucking love London. Ed grew up here. There’s something about growing up in a place where I think makes you a little cynical about it. I grew up in Muskoka and everyone’s like, “Ahh it’s so beautiful, its awe- I used to play a lot of competitive sports and I found competition is not something that’s healthy for me. I get frustrated and aggressive, and it some there,” but I mean I spent enough time in the winter there with brings out a side of me that I don’t really like a lot. I find with music, nothing to do but smoke pot in snowmobiles when I was 13. although it’s very competitive, its competitive in a very different way, in I think it’s a similar thing for Ed, he likes it here, I’ve been here two a way that’s healthier for me. When I’m making music it’s very much an years and I’ve felt my coolest here. I really love London, it has felt like outlet, when I was playing basketball I never had a game where I didn’t home to me very very quickly. have something about it that I felt shitty about or felt like I had to focus on what needed to be improved on. It’s very anticlimactic and again brought Do you feel pressure as a rapper to have reout aggression in me because I’d be frustrated consistently even if we won by sponsible or serious lyrics? 30 points. Whereas in music, I write a song and I like the sound of it, I feel Everytime I write a song I think is good and gets good response, I get ex- that anxiety about the next track but the process of writing and recording and cited, but at the same time I get this anxiety that im like fuck I’m never then performing the songs is never frustrating its always a cleanse. Does London inform your sound?


Why the title Every Day? For Ed and I, the hardest thing is naming. Well to me that’s the hardest part, you need titles. The title of the album, we narrowed it down to four different titles, “Every Day” was a song that had really good feedback, a bit of a play on words and can tie into one sentence, makes sense related to our band and the sentiment of that title song, it rings true with how im trying to live my life Basically I feel very strongly that people need to stop telling each other how and demanding people they don’t even know how to live and think the way they do. In that song something im saying and something that ends up running through all our tracks even if its not deliberate is that everybody needs to stop fucking asking everybody to act and think the way they do. As part of the support of really internalizing that concept I try to do everything I can to try to live my life in the way that im going to try to brush that off as much as I possibly can.

On top of that, the vast majority of that genre is appealing to people who’re broke because a lot of people who’re writing it are coming out of impoverished settings so when your fan base is broke or people who emulate people who are broke, obviously you’re eventually going to run out of cash flow. So now what’s happening is there’s been this shift I think a lot of the acts are coming out of upper middle class lifestyles, there’s no struggle to talk about, its gonna be lighter, because its very fresh and new, the lyrics are gonna be, well, it’s going to be kind of shit until people refine it more. It’s not much different than what I see in the roots of rap, I think Afrika Bambaataa I think Furious 5, I think they’re all real cool and they’re pioneers and everything. But realistically if they came out right now and did what they were doing people would be like this sounds like fucking nursery rhymes. I don’t know, the only thing that bothers me is that I’m not making more money yet. But I’m not even upset. How is it working with Shatterbrained Music Group?

With Matt, he used to be a web developer and heard us at hypem and contacted us and was like, “Id like to invest in you guys’ and we said “Fuck yeah” and then basically we just developed more and more, We’d just heard the new Tron movie was coming out, it leaked way early. thought of what we needed and he funded it and in the process we became friends. He basically is there now for us as a safety net and with It made us go back and watch that old movie and we basically thought assistance with bookings and we have 3 managers right now. He’s there it was a cool idea. Ed had the idea to chop up the animated footage for us if we need him and he continues to spread the word and there’s from that film. One night he was like “I wanna do it right now”, im like “Ok”. Usually I go home and write and come back to him, but this really a great friendship there as well. time he was like, “I’m going to go to the bathroom...write something”. I wrote four bars and he recorded it, and he made the video and that was Do you guys dig collaborating? Would you work with other people? that.

I really prefer to have people around me all the time. I haven’t sat on a couch and talked to someone about that yet. But for me with the exception of when I’m writing, I don’t even like having other people in a room when Im writing in my notebook. I don’t like people looking in my notebook period. I hate it I hate it I hate it, I lock my door, and I have to be alone and I have to go through the song like 7 times before I’ll even go record it with Ed. It’s the one case where I need my solitude. Where do you look for samples, or what do you look for in samples? We don’t really do a lot of sampling anymore, the only time we do sampling really is if were doing a remix and the only sample is usually the vocals. If it’s a song we like, we think if we can make it better and if we think we can, we try. Melodies would be the only thing we pull out of stuff and that can come from anywhere. There was a Flight of the Concords episode we saw and there was a melody in it we really liked but thought there were a couple notes that could make it better and we ended up turning it into a little track. Sometimes I’ll just be whistling to myself and a few notes will come together and ill put them down and send them to Ed, wherever we happen to hear some notes we like. Ed has told me the hardest part for him is coming up with the initial melody and after that its all very easy for him…for lack of a better word he’s a bit of a savant that way, but yeah a lot of the time the melody will come from something else we’ve heard and then we’ll do everything from there. Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to electro music? The genre’s young, but one thing that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, is why there’s not more guys who are really good MCs getting on it, they could be writing and singing these verses over a beat that people will spend the money to come listen to. I don’t want it to be, but hip hop has died from the perspective that people are not going to pay to come to shows anymore unless you’re a big ticket item. A lot of the problem is after you know the line, in a battle, or air quote “real MC” stuff, after you’ve heard the line once or twice and it doesn’t make you go ‘Oh shit’ anymore, there’s no reason to listen to the song because there’s not a melody, its not even really a song, it’s a collection of interesting funny or aggressive lines.

arts

For the most part, Ed will find or think of a melody and make an instrumental and pass it along to me and then I’ll start writing. A lot of the time I have stuff, I’m always writing so I always have certain hooks or ideas in reserve that’ll get adjusted if they fit. The most common thing is that Ed will say, “Here I have this beat, do you like it, yes or no?” If I say yes, I lock myself away and write to it. Usually from the time I get the beat and the time it’s recorded and released to everybody its 2 to 4 days, we work pretty quickly when we get down to it.

I really like it, I think it’s a really good idea, there are 3 or 4 songs that haven’t been released yet and 4 or 5 tracks maybe that I’ve been a part of. Some guys in Paris I did a song with, is getting re-released. I worked with Silver Medallion and were definitely going to have more stuff with them. I did vocals for Jaimie Fanatic, he’s shooting a video and shopping around for labels right now. He’s the guy whose done some work with Major Lazer and Mad Decent. I think collaboration is always a good idea, helps multiply eachothers’ fan base. I like meeting other artists and hearing about their influences I find it helps my process. Did you guys start out DJing? Not really, I mean Ed’s only 20. When he was like 15 or so he started working with Garage band and making remixes and stuff and he kept working at it and every time there was a sound or an effect he liked he’d look up how he could do that and read about it, and teach himself. That’s sort of the way he’s been doing things, since he was 11 years old he’s been doing Illustrator on his own, he’s in a graphic design program starting next year and he’s basically just gonna pound the courses because he’s spent years working with the programs people are just learning now. So I think for him its been a pretty steady development that he’s just incredibly artistic and hard working so his hobby and work tend to blend and it’s a result of him being very good at several artistic things. I started rapping because I realized I wasn’t a great singer. I used to play guitar and a couple horns and piano and mediocre drums. I would write songs for this band and we sucked. So then yeah in grade 9 I was like screw it I want to make music, im going to bite the bullet on this and start rapping and people can call me a wigger as much as they want but I’ll eventually get good at it. Have you ever tried to remix a song and have it not go the way you planned? Oh yeah. We’re very picky. There’s been as many songs that we’ve released, there’s been instrumentals that have been scrapped and remixes we’ve decided not to finished, id say about the quarter of the stuff we work on gets completed and put out somewhere. What’s next for TGCHU, where do you see this going? The next few months are getting booked up really fast, my focus is really on that right now. I have people working on licensing and were considering talking to some labels, I want to stay independent unless we go with a major but my preference is to stay independent if possible. Between now and the end of October we have like 25 shows so we’ll see how it goes.

konekt

You guys have 30 tracks, 20 original. How do you approach each song?

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You guys have a sick Tron-inspired Video for “All I know,” how’d that come about?


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Portrait of the Artist:

Konekt gets the

mane scoop

Winnie

konekt

on emerging Toronto artist

Truong

and her current exhibit,

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hirsutusâ&#x20AC;?


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where are you from? tell us a little bit about yourself. I was borrn and raised in Toronto, I live and work in Toronto as well. I just completed my BFA in Drawing and Painting at OCAD. Can you tell us a little bit about your show ‘Hirsutus’ at Katherine Mulherin? Can you give us some insight on the title of the show? Hirsutus is my first solo show, the term “hirsute” describes excessive hairiness. Hirsutus is the latin word for hairy and shaggy. The exhibition itself consist of a group of larger than life portraits whose common trait centre around the way hair interacts with the subject. Hirsutus for me describes the theme of the show while playing with the idea that the subjects in my drawing are a new species with their own classification. Is there a narrative between the different portraits? Who are the people in your portraits to you?

between the viewer and the portraits, so that someone passing through is part of this dialogue about beauty and grotesque. As far as the individuals they represent, I work from hair and fashion magazines. The subjects I choose from are essentially glamourous and anonymous model types. The work it’s not about the representation of the particular person, but rather the transformation that takes place when hair stands in for dress and environment. Ultimately, I like that the namelessness of the subjects allows each individual work to present individual narrative tensions and conundrums for the viewer. What is the process that goes into your work? I start of by doing a lot of loose drawings in my sketch book from imagination, observation, whatever strikes me at that particular moment. Usually to select final work, I’m already gravitating towards a particular drawing or idea that I then further develop by sourcing portraits from print materials that would suit my final product and when it is ripe I will blow it up for the final product. I usually complete a chalk pastel underdrawing and the rest is just labour intensive line work in pencil crayon.

What is your favorite color palette? Each piece differs in the sense that the hair transforms or afflicts the subject in the portrait in different ways. However, an overall Its really difficult to describe a palette as I could use anywhere from three to 10 different colour combinations to create somenarrative is formed when these portraits work in relationship thing so seemingly as simple as brown. For the most part, my use with one another. The gallery for me is an active meeting space


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of color is an intuitive reaction to what the work is about. That said in my practice I find that I am growing more confident with colour and I’ve figured out some general colour combinations that are great and not so great for the optical mixing in my work.

Have you always known you wanted to be an artist?

As a child I’ve always liked making things and drawing was always something I simply did to pass time. It wasn’t presented as an actual career possibility until high school, when it finally What are your favorite mediums to work clicked that there was no math prerequisite to apply to art in and how has your style changed over school. time? Would you say that your art is an extenAll of my portraits are drawn with pencil crayon on paper. Pre- sion of yourself? if so how? vious to this series my practice always been more centred around Not in any blatant form but of course every bit of myself in painting, leaving the act of drawing as simply a preliminary invested in the work. Drawing allows me the opportunity to practice. I have to say I’m still at my most comfortable with a reconcile my thoughts and anxieties on beauty, strangeness, and ball point pen working in my sketch book. One of the cheapest tools, while giving the quickest, most sensitive, and most varied awkwardness by process of inventing persons who embody these ideas… this process and product allows me to at least externalline I could ask for. ize my fantasies and apprehensions, just don’t read it into it as self-portraiture. What are your influences? What makes you the most creative and keeps you goWhat would you say is something invaluing? able that you took away from university? Is there any advice you would have It’s as simple as going out and seeing shows, and being around to any art students? other artists. Also lots of rest and a hearty breakfast.


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The most important of university was taking my first three years to purge myself of all the crappy , cliched and unsubstantiated themes and ideas I had working through my head, and to figure out what I really want out of my practice. My only advice is to really make the best of your studio experience at school, and to take advantage of being around the varied interests and experiences of faculty and peers. How does the beautiful and the beastly coexist in your art, and what do you want the viewer is to take away from this collaboration of ideals? The beautiful and the beastly coexist in my work but arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fully reconciled by myself or the viewer. At the core of my work, the lines between beauty and blemish are illegible. I try to challenge our associations with hair and I push it to behave in both familiar and unfamiliar ways to invoke both attraction and a revulsion in the viewer. I want the viewer to second guess the heavily coded ideas of beauty that exist in our culture.

What are your plans for the future? new shows coming up? This year I was chosen as one of the winners of the BMO 1st Art! competition. As a provincial winner, I am part of the group show at the MOCCA in which will take place in Toronto in October. I also have a solo show at Show and Tell Gallery in Toronto in November. Apart from that I just want to make work and gain some life experience. I want to complete my masters degree in the future, but I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say where my interests might take me in the meantime.


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With the arrival of Yann Martelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

new and widely

anticipated novel,

Beatrice & Virgil,

Konekt speaks with Martel

about inspiration,

animals, and proceeding the Life of Pi.


the Jungle book Alice Greenberg

What inspired you to write a novel revolving around the Holocaust? I’ve always been interested in the Holocaust, since I first learned about it when I was about ten years old. I was living in France at the time and we were taught the Holocaust alongside the Second World War. The Second World War “made sense”. I mean by that that having enemies and hating them and going to battle against them is something that can be conceptually understood by a child. Any child who has siblings understands the concept of war. But the Holocaust didn’t make sense. It puzzled me that the Germans would kill people who seemed to be their friends. German’s Jews fully participated in German life and culture. Many of them fought for Germany during the First World War. So to eliminate them wholesale didn’t make sense to me. You don’t kill your friends. So the Holocaust stayed with me. As I got older, I started reading about it. It stayed with me, and eventually I realized that I wanted to write about it. In your novel, Beatrice & Virgil, you write that it’s very difficult to approach the subject of the Holocaust because of past literature surrounding it. Can you explain what you mean, and what it was that made you want to approach the subject nonetheless from this particular unique perspective? In reading the literature about the Holocaust, I came to notice how the non-fictional voice dominates how we see and understand that terrible event. Nothing wrong with that dominance. Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz and countless works produced by historians are not only excellent but essential. We must know what happened to Europe’s Jews, we must have the factual knowledge, before we can do anything else, and these books have provided us with that factual knowledge, with the who, the what, the where and the when. But true understanding goes beyond a mere factual apprehension of an

Animals have been used in stories for centuries, from cautionary old fables to Orwell’s Animal Farm. Do you think this is, in part, due to the simplicity with which we tend to view animal behaviour as compared to our own—a way of trying to break down complex issues into something which is easier to analyze? Animals have been used in stories for many different reasons. My reason is that I find animals symbolically rich. An animal can be itself—just a tiger in a lifeboat or a donkey by the side of a road—and it can also be something else, a symbol for the will to live or for anguish of a victim. We are so cynical about our own species that it takes much effort on the part of the writer to give to a human character a symbolic dimension. With an animal character treated in adult fiction, an aura of mystery is there right away, and there, a potential for symbolism. I also use animals because so few other writers of adult fiction use them. Over the course of history, and especially since the industrial revolution, the animal has slowly disappeared from our lives, not only our daily life, but from our imaginary life. We don’t ride horses anymore, we don’t tend sheep in the numbers we use to, and now we don’t writer much about horses or dream much about sheep. And this trend has been reflected in adult fiction. Animals now exist primarily in children’s literature, which puzzles me. What exactly is childish about a monkey or a tiger? At any rate, that’s another reason why I use animals, because no one else does. I feel nicely alone taking animals seriously as a literary device. And lastly, I use animals because I find animals interesting. What is the advantage of using animals to illustrate a story about the history of humanity, specifically involving very sensitive subjects such as the Holocaust? Animal characters can have a universal resonance that human characters can lose depending on the point of view of the reader. The advantage for me was simply that it was liberating. With an event such as the Holocaust,

arts

event. To witness is not the same thing as to understand. I believe that one of the aspects of understanding comes through the imagination, that is, through art. Once something is treated by artists—poets, novelists, painters, composers, film-makers, dancers, etc—and taken in by their respective recipients—readers, viewers, spectators, etc—then we start to have a different kind of understanding, one that I argue is deeper and more durable. The fictional voice is particularly absent with regards to the Holocaust. There are very few true novels—that is, artful written inventions—about the Holocaust. Most Holocaust “novels” are simply thinly disguised autobiographies. Which is fine. But the novel can do much more than that. So I thought I would try to express the Holocaust through art, to see if I could bear witness to it not through that part of me that understands through reason but that part of me that understands through the imagination. Why? Because we need the synthesizing understanding that art brings. It’s important to the extent that people want to fully understand an historical event. If we tell all kinds of stories about it, applying every degree of irony, we’ll squeeze out every ounce of understanding we can from it. Otherwise, to portray an event always in the same way is to reduce a past living event to a cliché.

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What are some of the factors that have shaped your decision to become a writer? I’m not sure it was a “decision”. One can have dreams, and I had many. I suppose I dreamed of becoming a writer, although I have no clear memory of that. I remember more clearly dreaming of politics when I was a teenager. I fancied myself Prime Minister of Canada. I realize now that it was the theatre of politics that attracted me, not the thrashing out of public policy. So I guess that already then I liked the artistic approach to life. I became a writer because I started writing. I did it with no thought about my future. I was not writing to become a writer, I was simply writing because it satisfied me. I thought I would do it until an obvious career path would open up for me. None did and I stuck to my literary doodling and then I got one story published, then another, and, lo, I was a writer. You don’t become a writer the way you become a doctor or an accountant. There’s no set path. Luck and skill is involved, but so is innate talent. I might also add that I had the luck of being Canadian. Canada has a terrific arts funding program, best exemplified by the work of the Canada Council for the Arts. It’s still very hard getting a grant, which is the way it should be. You don’t want to be funding mediocrity. But if there’s excellence—or even the potential for excellence—we have a system in Canada that’s in place to support that incipient excellence.

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His inherent fascination with animals is perhaps what Yann Martel is best known for—but after his latest book, Beatrice & Virgil, it’s clear that Martel’s subject matter is far from exhausted. Spending time in temples and zoos alike, Martel has created books which dig deep into the introspective core of human nature, examining the fleeting and ever-lingering questions that haunt the very nature of our existence. In his latest work, Martel delves into a sphere characteristically reserved for the History or the occasional Biography section—merging the art of fiction with the unyielding gravity of the past, and creating a piece which is anything but straightforward.


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where the same story is told, took place, six million times—an innocent was victimized—to approach it using the radically different approach of the animal allegory allowed me to escape the determinism of what happened and discuss instead how do we discuss it. Your first novel, the Life of Pi, was an instant success and carried you into a whole new sphere, in a sense. Given the sensitive subject matter of this storyline, and the unusual way in which you approach it, how did you expect this book to fare as compared to the Life of Pi? The success of Life of Pi was not so instant. It started slowly in Canada. I don’t think reviewers knew what to make of the story. It took off once it came out in the UK and the US, and then really took off after the Booker. But that’s an aside. I had no expectations about how Beatrice and Virgil would do after the success of Pi. Each book is different, presents a new set of challenges, and has its own fate. B & V has had, so far, a polarizing effect on readers. Some reviewers absolutely hated it in the US and UK, while others loved it. Clearly, I pushed some buttons that some readers didn’t want pushed. Which is good. Art is not about complacency. Art has to entertain, always, but alongside that it can discuss, ask questions. To refuse to hear a question is to refuse to discuss a topic is to have a closed mind. With Beatrice and Virgil, I wanted to ask some questions. When reading Beatrice & Virgil, one of the storyline aspects that stuck out the most, to me, was Games for Gustav. What were you trying to convey or accomplish by contrasting the naïve or even childish aspect playing games to the dim issues you incurred in the novel? The Games for Gustav are my attempt at allegory, at taking a complex reality and conveying it succinctly and symbolically. I hope that anyone reading the Games for Gustav, if they take them on seriously, will feel, at least in their imagination, what Europe’s Jews felt going through the hell the Nazis perpetrated on them. I know you have spent some time in Europe before moving to Canada—is there a significant way in which living in the aftermath of World War II influenced this specific subject selection? I have indeed lived in Europe for a number of years, as a child and then as an adult. Perhaps that did influence my perception of the War and its horror. I couldn’t give you a fuller answer since you’re asking me to step out of myself and look at myself, an act of self-consciousness that I’m not that interested in doing. I wrote a book inspired by the most depraved act of the 20th century. How I came to write that book strikes me as secondary compared to how the reader will react to it. Is there a project you are currently working on? I’m still sending a book to the Prime Minister of Canada every two weeks, accompanied by a letter in which I explain why the book is worthy of being read. The first fifty-five letters were published in a book, What is Stephen Harper Reading?, and my guerilla book club can also be followed on a website: www.whatisstephenharperreading.ca. I’ve also just started work on my next novel, which will be called The High Mountains of Portugal. Once again I’ll be using animals, this time three chimpanzees. I want to look at teachers and their teaching, how do we keep the wisdom of a great teacher alive when the great teacher is gone. So once Jesus, Karl Marx, George Washington, whoever, is gone, how do the disciples keep alive what they were taught and not have it fall into dogma? I’m just now starting my research. I have a stack of books on chimpanzees I’m going to read, besides other avenues I’ll have to research (the history of cars in Portugal, the procedure for doing autopsies, the history of slavery in Sao Tome and Principe, and so on). I love this part of writing, the research. It’s a time when everything is new and possible and out of nothing a story emerges. It’s like the building of a medieval cathedral, one stone at a time, but all in the mind.


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Leroy Kills Himself/ Jeff Fraser

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By the sixteenth time Leroy Thavish had killed himself, he was fully aware of how unlikely it was that any further assault on his corpus would do him in. His tendency to suicide took on the flavour of an obsession. Despite humble beginnings, Leroy Thavish developed a fascination with death. In the year 2026, he set upon a competition with the elements, to see how far his creative genius would take him. He meant to experience death by a different means each and every day for as long as he could think of new ways to die. Leroy overdosed on every drug, legal and prescribed, and swallowed every different poison, until he could tell the almond tang of cyanide from the hearty spice of arsenic by the minutest sip. He threw himself from buildings, bridges, planes, a glacier, the lip of an active volcano. He stranded himself in the hottest, coldest, and driest wastelands. He trespassed on foot into police states. He walked on land mines. He fed himself to carnivores. He held up a bank and walked out into a street full of police, carrying an assault rifle. Later, he used the funds he’d acquired in the heist to pay for a private ride on the space shuttle, where he overrode the safety precautions and threw himself out of an airlock. He considered deliberately contracting AIDS, but realized it would not kill quickly enough for him to succeed in his goal. On July 14th, he sat outside of a café in Jerusalem with a reporter from a tabloid that had grown up in the ashes of the Weekly World News. Kayla Joncas fixed him with a vibrant stare across the table. She was a pretty woman of thirty or so in a short-cut power suit that did not fit her properly. She had chased him across continents. “What do you get out of it?” Kayla asked him as an Arab waiter smiled and laid a floral-patterned ceramic mug in front of her. “Routine, perhaps,” Leroy replied. He hadn’t ordered anything. “It’s odd, but I almost feel as if it gives me something to live for. I have this certainty that no one has ever done before what I am doing right now. That no one alive has ever experienced the things I have.” She blinked and lifted her mocha to take a sip. She set it down again when she realized her hand was shaking. When it was clear Leroy wasn’t going to expand on his point, she sallied on. “What happened to your family?” “My parents died happily of old age half a century ago,” he replied. “The world forgot them.” “No siblings? Cousins?” “Siblings, no. Cousins, probably.” It was about midday. The market around them was filled with people and mingling food smells. The architecture of this quarter was still old; everything had the feeling of intransigent history, of a place trapped in a pocket of still time while the eonsflowed past it. Pigeons plucked at the ground nearby. “How did you come to be like this?” “Morbid?” he asked with a smirk. “Immortal.” “I have no idea.” He leaned back in the ornate weaved chair. In the cobblestone street, a child ran between the cars into the road, his mother

yelling after him. A slow-moving sedan in the traffic lurched to a stop while the child stared at the driver over the hood. His mother ran out into the street and dragged the child back into the sidewalk throng, her expression both apologetic and tyrannical simultaneously. Life resumed as normal. Leroy watched, impassive as bedrock. Kayla looked at her list of questions and bit her lower lip. They were fairly banal. She had been relying on him to provide something worth writing about. She decided, abruptly, to skip to the end. “And what happens when you die?” He smiled at her. It was a gracious expression, full of – pity? Sympathy? “Nothing,” he said. She opened her mouth to say something else, but stopped as his answer sunk in. She repeated the wordless gesture, and then began fiddling with the recording device pinned to her shirt. Leroy chuckled politely. Inside the café, the owner was shouting something at his customers in Hebrew. A coffee cup fell to the floor and broke. Leroy looked at his watch. “You should be going now,” he told Kayla. Almost in unison, the café’s customers stood and moved to the exit. They took careful steps with an air of weight about them, though it was an orderly exodus with only a murmur of anxiety. On the terrace, couples and old men looked about in confusion. Two of the waiters were going from table to table, explaining the situation. The owner was still shouting above the sound of shoes scuffing for the exit. Kayla’s face fell. “I still have more questions. Do you know how long I’ve—” “In two minutes, a bomb will go off in the back of the building, and if you are still here, you will die with me.” Horrified, the reporter scrabbled for her jacket and purse. “Did you…?” “I died three times in order to discover the location of this attack, and twice more to convince my informant to call ahead and warn the occupants. Actually, it was an interesting experience – by the end of it I had Mahmoud convinced I was a prophet of Allah. If you know anything about Islam, then you understand how much of a feat that was.” He reached across the table, pulled her untouched mocha to him, sipped it, and set it back on the saucer. “I haven’t yet been killed in a terrorist attack.” As she stood next to the table in the now empty cafe, a lock of hair fell out of the bun behind her head and revealed that it was a curl by nature. Again she opened her mouth to say something to him and found nothing. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll meet again.” Kayla cocked her head to the side, heaved an exasperated snarl through gritted teeth, and stomped off. Leroy sat alone on the terrace, sipping the reporter’s mocha, while the crowd formed a semicircle around the café at what they deemed was a safe distance. No one approached him, though the café owner continued to call out pleas from atop a car parked in the street.


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Konekt Issue 3  

September 2010

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