Laura Barrett page 7 Kalimba queen
R. Crumb’s all-knowing eye
university of Toronto’s Independent Weekly
February 4, 2010
vol. XXXII N0. 1
Eva shelter ﬁlls age gap
The recent spate of deaths on Toronto streets has people thinking about the ways that our car-centric culture interacts with pedestrians and cyclists. In January, there were 14 pedestrian deaths on Toronto streets. In fact, on Wednesday, February 3 a woman was hit by an unmarked police car just outside of Toronto East General Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the U of T. One of the heaviest areas for pedestrian traffic in the city is the St George campus and surrounding environs. Fortunately for U of T students, however, there is safety in numbers. Narrow streets and the higher number of pedestrians crossing through the university and streaming across is roads make fatal collisions around the University of Toronto statistically less likely. Most of the recent deaths have been on higher speed arterial roads, especially in suburban areas. Having said this, the U of T Graduate Students Union (GSU) is on record as express-
The statistics are appalling, however one looks at them. Toronto has Canada’s largest homeless population, and over 10,000 of them are under the age of 24. Faced with chronic unemployment, physical abuse, and a suicide rate almost 100 times the national average, they are one of Canada’s most at-risk—and least cared-for— demographics. But just a short subway ride from the St. George campus, a grassroots organization has been quietly trying to help these youth find some stability in their lives. Eva’s Initiatives, which started as a basic street-shelter in 1994, is currently one of the most innovative NGOs in Canada. U of T’s Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) invited Eva’s Initiatives to give a presentation at its January 28th meeting. At the presentation, the innovative elements of the program were highlighted. Anyone between 16 and 24 who enters Eva’s offices is allowed to stay for up to one year. Employment and housing are guaranteed upon leaving. Staff-members at Eva’s give immediate counseling to all attendants—and their definition of “counseling” includes everything from harmreduction to how to manage relationships. “Nearly 40 per cent of these kids have mental illnesses,” says Marie MacCormack, Director of Development with Eva’s Initiatives. “And there’s nothing for them—no supportive housing, no counseling … . They start to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.” For the NGO’s coordinators, Eva’s is just trying to compensate for a glaring oversight in provincial policies. They point out that Ontario does not have a single substantive program for at-risk youth. At 16, one is required to sign out of foster-care.
Robert French mans the donation booth outside of Howard Fergeson cafeteria at uc, raising funds for Haiti.
UTSU asked: where’s the money? Report alleges budgetary misallocation AMY STUPAVSKY A new student budget report has its coauthors and UTSU embroiled in a finger-pointing battle, as it contains allegations that $200,000 in levies from the Health and Dental Plan budget were misallocated. What students Jack Phelan and Mike Maher call “creative budgeting” and a “culture of secrecy,” UTSU boils down to misinformation and conjecture. The report outlines UTSU’s operating budget and the $360,000 revenue value associated with the Health and Dental Plan administration. The contentious levy is the Health and Dental Plan Administrative Fee, at approximately $6 per semester, which is collected to cover plan expenses. The authors believe that operating costs of $360,000 cannot be reliably identified, and therefore the remaining portion must fund other programs. They wrote that this reallocation of funds is in violation of the “Policy for Non-Academic Incidental Fees.” They extrapolated a $160,000 actual operating budget, leaving $200,000 unaccounted for. Without access to actual figures or detailed reports, however, the numbers are based on conservative estimates. Maher and Phelan are Innis College Student Society executives who have filed previous grievances with
Continued on page 3
U of T looks both ways for pedestrians
UTSU. The two began investigating UTSU’s budget allocations after the Annual General Meeting, when they learned that the auditor’s report did not look into specifics of UTSU’s policy spending. With a $1.8 million operating budget, they wanted to ensure that UTSU was adhering to its financial plan. “We can say with certainty that those monies aren’t being spent on administering the plan,” said Phelan. “It might be an honest mistake, it might be legitimate expenses. We just don’t know.” “It’s tantamount to going to a restaurant and being overcharged,” said Maher. They sent the report to UTSU via FedEx on Jan. 19, clearly indicating that they wanted a response within
ten days. Fifteen days later at press time, they have yet to receive a reply. When they did not hear from UTSU, they contacted the provost’s office and the media. “It doesn’t take ten days to answer a very simple budgetary allocation question,” said Maher. “That is most of the frustration. We were shown a total lack of respect.” UTSU rejects the claims, citing false assumptions that have led to false conclusions. Executives said that the budget is clearly laid out and approved by the Board of Directors. “There are no irregularities in our budget,” said Sandy Hudson, UTSU President. “It’s very clear from the report that they don’t understand the internal processes of the UTSU.”
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February 4, 2010
FOUR HUNDRED WORDS EACH
iPad, therefore I need it? For too long, Apple has been using aesthetic appeal to mask the fact that its products are lacking in hardware and customisability. The iPad proudly continues in that tradition, using the steamrolled iPod Touch look to compensate for it being underpowered, locked down, and incomplete. The iPad is set to tackle the netbook, a device bridging the smart phone and home computer markets. The majority of netbooks (over 90 percent) are Windowsbased; the remainder use an open-source platform, such as Linux. The standard netbook operating system is the complete Windows 7 OS, with which the iPad’s operating system cannot compete. The iPad will be running a tweaked iPhone OS. Why an alleged netbook-killer is running a phone’s OS and not one made for a home computer is quite curious. In terms of hardware, the iPad is far from impressive. The HP Mini Netbooks, for example, are readily available with a 1.66 GHz processor and a standard 160 GB hard drive, whereas the iPad uses a 1 GHz processor and has a 64 GB flash hard drive at best. The iPad is also a fully-fixed
product, meaning that individual components cannot be upgraded. Netbook users are able to upgrade their RAM, and even beef up their hard drive. Connectivity is also a troubling issue. There is no USB, HDMI, or FireWire; the only physical connection to the iPad is through the 30-pin connector, the same one used with the iPod. Avoiding USB is advantageous in that Apple avoids driver issues, but it is a stark inconvenience for the user. For the company, however, being fully committed to the 30-pin connector is profitable because extraneous docking devices and adaptors will become necessary for optimizing media transfer. In addition to a litany of other negatives (no Flash media, no 16:9 aspect ratio, no camera, no multitasking), this is where my biggest quarrel with the iPad lies: It is just too expensive. While $350 will buy a customer a perfectly capable Netbook, the $500 USD iPad introductory price is far from competitive. If we consider the cost of peripherals, accessories, applications, and media, we see that consumers will invest a lot of money in something they really can live without. Then again, that is just the cost of the Apple lifestyle choice.
the newspaper Editor-in-Chief Helene Goderis
Managing Editor Dan Craig
Associate Arts Editor
Associate News Editors
Natalie Rae Dubois
Tomasz Bugajski Tejas Parasher Mike Winters
Sarah D’Angelo, Gord Brown, Andrew Gyorkos, Nicole Leung, Thiru Shathasivam, Amina Stella, Mnrupe Virk
Business Manager Taylor Ramsay email@example.com
the newspaper 1 Spadina Crescent, Suite 245 Toronto, ON M5S 1A1 Editorial: 416-593-1552 firstname.lastname@example.org www.thenewspaper.ca the newspaper is U of T’s independent weekly paper, published by Planet Publications Inc., a non-profit corporation. All U of T community members, including students, staff and faculty, are encouraged to contribute to the newspaper.
On January 27, Apple unveiled its latest gadget, the iPad, a tablet computer. The company touts the device as “the best way to experience the web, email, photos, and video. Hands down.” Two of our writers butt heads over its virtues and drawbacks.
Here are few words to describe Apple’s latest creation, the iPad: beautiful, fast, and loaded with potential. The device is poised to become a huge success because it bridges the gap between the iPhone and Macbook, performing almost all of their functions in addition to new features. It’s extremely light and versatile, with an outstanding battery life compared to its counterparts. At half an inch thin, the iPad has been described as “an iPod touch on steroids.” It uses the same operating system the iPhone and iPod, running all those apps and functioning as an e-book reader. Apple’s new iBook application enhances book viewing; page turning is animated so smoothly that, if stopped in mid-turn, you can see content on both sides of the page, just like with a physical book. The iPad weighs only 1.5 lbs., yet it still looks solid with a 9.7 inch screen. Users can watch movies in high definition and store photos with ease. Its speed and responsiveness demonstrate its high functionality and efficiency, which is especially useful for people on the go. Its ten-hour battery life and capability to remain on standby for one-month without recharging make the iPad an excellent choice for those who do not always
have the time to recharge. It is possible to synchronize information with laptops and iPhones, so that there is less threat of information loss from a low-battery shutdown. Although Apple is not known for value pricing, the iPad is an exception. Six models are available, starting at $499, which includes a 16 GB flash memory storage and WiFi connectivity. Costumers can also purchase 3G networks with unlimited data transfer, an unprecedented offer from Apple. By adding a Bluetooth keyboard and keyboard dock, the iPad can transform into a cheaper, more functional alternative to a netbook computer, further demonstrating the device’s versatility. Apple’s iWork Mac productivity suite, which includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program, will also be a crucial factor in its success because it shows that the device can be used for business purposes, and not just entertainment. Apple continues its tradition of creating new technology that operates as beautifully as it looks. If the iPad sells at competitive prices and fulfills the ten-hour hour battery life promise, Apple will have given us something truly worthy of recognition: an amazing, revolutionary piece of technology. As new generations of iPad are revealed, we will see its full potential.
the guest editorial
Don’t TurnItIn.com TurnItIn.com is a service offered by a USA-based for-profit company that is aimed at detecting instances of plagiarism in academic work, and is offered for a fee to institutions and instructors. The use of this service has become widespread at the University of Toronto, and we wanted to identify a number of issues associated with the service in this editorial. Students in a mounting number of courses are required to submit their written academic work to TurnItIn.com to be cross-checked with a number of online sources for instances of plagiarism, and, once submitted, the work becomes part of the growing database against which future submitted works will also be assessed. This characteristic makes the service look efficient in the eyes of the instructors, but also contributes to the monopolization of the market by this company. The current setup of the service at the university provides individual students with the right to opt-out, and students across the country have been refusing to submit their work backed by a variety of reasons. First, the intellectual property of your submitted work is in effect used to enrich the value of this for-profit organization, where there is no compensation
flowing back to the authors or the institutions. Second, agreeing to submit your work is seen by many as an assumption of guilt, whereby students are presumed guilty of academic misconduct before their work is even turned in. It is particularly alarming that the students never see the results of this assessment, the Originality Report or the Similarity Score. Many of the academic appeals based on these assessments are often false-positive results of the individual student’s failure to correctly cite included work, which arguably should be treated as an academic deficiency and not as an instance of intended plagiarism. Third, even though the individuals are given the right to optout, we fear that the act of refusing to submit academic work to this automated tool will result in various forms of discrimination against the students in question and would prompt their work to be assessed more critically than that of their peers, again, based on the presumption of guilt by the instructors. Finally, and of increasing concern to us, students are poorly informed or misinformed by the institution in regards to their rights to opt-out. Further concerns have been raised about the security of the
academic work that is being stored in the TurnItIn.com databases, with your intellectual property being only as secure as your instructors’ access to their accounts. A potential implication to Canadian contributors whose work is held by a USAbased company is that certain USA legislature, such as the Patriot Act, opens the content of their academic work to access by various governmental bodies in the USA without the same protection of privacy that Canadian law provides to its citizens. Overall, it is our position that the increased reliance on such automated services as TurnItIn. com essentially reduces the value of post-secondary instruction and further negatively contributes to an already ailing student to instructor ratio that we have in the province of Ontario. As part of our ongoing effort, we are looking to educate students and instructors alike as to the consequences of using TurnItIn.com, and have also opened a line of communication with the top university administrators to urge the reconsideration of its further use. Anton Neschadim University Affairs Commissioner University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union
February 4, 2010
cont’d from page 1 ing concerns about pedestrian safety on the St. George campus. Michelle St. Amour of the group’s Sustainability SubCommittee has identified areas on the University campus where thousands of pedestrians are forced into unsafe crossings daily. As part of the sustainability agenda, GSU has circulated a petition identifying specific sites on the St. George Campus. One arterial road through the St. George campus is Queen’s Park Crescent. In fact, students have lobbied for almost 40 years to install a crosswalk from Queen’s Park to the walkway in front of Hart House. Traffic calming efforts have helped this situation over the years. It can still be intimidating, however, to dart across three lanes of sometimes heavy traffic at this spot On the other side of campus, Spadina represents its own particular problem, with the dedicated street car lines in the middle of the street. On the other hand, 1 Spadina Crescent, home to the newspaper offices, does have a stop light dedicated to a pedestrian crossing, again only after many years of lobbying. Last week, the City of Toronto engaged in a safety blitz in response to the recent problem of pedestrian- car collisions, especially but not restricted to the fatal incidents. Over fifty violations and several hundred
3 cont’d from page 1
warnings were issued at major intersections, including Yonge, Bay and University, south of Queen. These efforts, however, were aimed at both pedestrians and motorists and city officials have publicly called on both pedestrians and motorists to exercise caution on the streets. Caution might be the watchword, but better facilities for pedestrians, including closing some of the St. George campus off to cars, similar to the way U of T’s other campuses are laid out in fact, might be a better human scale – not to mention environmentally sustainable – solution.
Eva cont’d from page 1 Most adult welfare programs don’t begin till 25. Anyone in between is quite literally left to fend for themselves. MacCormack adds that Eva’s Initiatives is doing the best it can for such a susceptible demographic. But the program receives only minimal funding from the Toronto City Council. Every year, it must come up
with nearly $4 million on its own. Consequently, it is unable to support any trained clinical staff. “We get 16, 17 year-olds with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder,” says MacCormack. “They need treatment. But we can’t help, hospitals won’t have them, and CAMH [the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health] is only for adults. Where are they supposed to go?” Members of Eva’s Initiatives have been appealing to the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health for years—to little avail. Without any government infrastructure, there is concern that youth homelessness will quickly snowball into a provincial crisis. Both GSU executives and Eva’s spokespersons felt that U of T could play a major role in tackling youth homelessness. Wendy Howze, the organization’s manager, hoped that student groups and faculties like Social Work and Public Health would be able to provide at least some of the support, which is short in coming from the provincial government. It should also be noted that Eva’s Initiatives is in urgent need of both volunteers and donations. Any students or staff who would like to get involved are urged to contact the organization at email@example.com.
The group said that Maher and Phelan erroneously relied on the GC policy to support their argument. “The section they refer to is for limited projects,” explained Angela Regnier, UTSU Executive Director. “The administration fee is not relevant to the section.” The group said they started working on a response right away, but that other business took priority. “We have limited resources and we’re busy,” said Hudson. “To give us ten days to answer and stop all of our other priorities is unfair. We’re not going to jeopardize our 12,000 members in order to respond to these ridiculous allegations.” “If they had walked into the office and found me, I would have given them an answer in ten minutes,” said Adnan Najmi, VP Internal and Services. UTSU uses a self-managed system to administer the Health and Dental Plan, rather than contracting out to a third party. They believe that this makes the plan more transparent to its members and more cost-effective, decreasing the administrative costs from between ten to 30 per cent to eight per cent. UTSU executives could not offer a breakdown of the admin costs in its elaborate budget, but they said that they estimates the amount based on industry standards. Regnier said it would be “impossible” to assign a dollar amount because it varies from year to year based on how many people opt-out of the program, become part-time students, or drop out of the university. “We’re not in a position to give raw numbers,” said Regnier, “but we’re confident that this is a reasonable fee to administer the plan. We feel confident with our projected numbers. We’re also confident we give the most coverage for the most economic price. We would never charge students more than it would take.” Hudson said that by allocating only $160,000 in administration costs, Maher and Phelan have underestimated the figure. As a $10 million service, the Health and Dental Plan requires serious due diligence. UTSU impressed that they budget conservatively and at a low risk to maintain fiscal health. They crunch numbers and receive feedback on a regular basis, presenting three budgets a year to the Board of Directors and U of T administration for approval. The organization’s auditors also approve of its budgeting process. UTSU believes the report was submitted in bad faith. Hudson mentioned that Maher’s loss in last year’s UTSU election may have fueled the report as a desire for scandal. “It’s politically motivated,” she said. “It’s completely malicious.” Maher denies that his motivations were impure, saying that he is a concerned student. While Maher admits that he may be wrong,
U of T brought home five awards from the most recent Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s District II Accolades award program. A Gold Award went to the Division of University Advancement’s affinity programs and a Silver to the Rotman School of Management for its Initiative for Women in Business brochure.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are to blame for the increasing number of post-secondary students unable to write properly. Administrators at Simon Fraser University state that one in ten students are not qualified to take mandatory classes for graduation. Emoticons and LOLspeak are just some of the writing horrors that appear in essays, say professors.
Over the next few weeks India will be holding auditions for Super Queen India, a transgender beauty pageant. The semi-finals will be held in Mumbai and Delhi will host the finals on February 21.
A priest in Poland has installed an electric reader to record the fingerprints of children to monitor mass attendance, according to Friday’s edition of the country’s Gazeta Wyborcza. After attending 200 masses, pupils will be freed from an obligatory exam prior to their confirmation, the paper reports. -Amina Stella
he takes UTSU’s claim that it takes $360,000 to administer Health and Dental with a grain of salt. “There’s no way that’s true,” he said. “I reject that it takes one-ninth of their budget to operate the program.” Maher also said that the complexities of the budgeting process should be made clearer to students. Both sides want to avoid a court case because it would only hurt students and divert resources. Hudson remains unfazed by what she calls “defamation.” “The majority of students are very satisfied with us. That’s why I’m not too bothered by all this,” she said. “Maybe students will understand the intricacies of administering a Health and Dental Plan, and have a better understanding of how much time and effort goes into ensuring accountability and transparency with the money they entrust us with.” The UTSU hopes for face-to-face dialogue instead of sensationalism in this matter. Regnier would welcome a meeting with Phelan and Maher. “I will be making that appointment,” Maher said. UTSU will issue a public statement responding to the allegations on their website by Friday.
February 4, 2010
Laramie Project relives hate crime Vic Drama Society play portrays real-life accounts of Matthew Shepard tragedy
Act into law by Obama, which both took place in October 2009, is “the tragic reason and the positive reason” to tell the story again. This play is a late addition to the Victoria College Drama Society season. “This was not supposed to be done this year, but we felt the need to respond to [the murder of Skinner], so we had a very limited amount of time to accomplish this.” Nevertheless, Osborne is very satisfied with the production. “Hopefully it encourages a dialogue. By hearing a personal story, hopefully it does change some people’s viewpoints. [We’ve] done some wonderful work up there.” The Laramie Project runs through February 6 (8 p.m.) at the Cat’s Eye Theatre (150 Charles St. W). Pay what you
can. All proceeds will go to the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line, a toll-free Ontario-wide
peer-support phone line for LGBTQ youth. For more information, visit the Victoria Col-
lege Drama Society Facebook page.
“ the campus comment ” the newspaper asks: How do you feel about the iPad?
“Even I don’t fucking like the iPad. It’s not a consumer product, it’s a business product. It doesn’t make sense for everyday use, as everyone already has computers and iPods.” lolmacfan_37
“It’s got a stupid name that sounds too much like the iPod.” DJ
“It’s a redundant, oversided iPod Touch for people with bad eyesight.” Carl
“I think it’s lame.” Cecelia
“I think it’s pretty useless. Just get a pad and paper!” Sue
“That bitch stole my interface, and it’s not even flash-compatable! Get your own thing, you pathetic excuse for an iPhone!” Pokey
Simple props, simple costumes, and powerful words tell the tragic story of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard--a 21-yearold student tortured to death near Laramie, Wyoming, because he was gay. “I feel that Cat’s Eye is an appropriate place to do this because it provides an intimate relationship between the storyteller and the audience,” says director Tom Osborne, a graduate of U of T’s Drama program. Osbourne deliberately planned for a simple and lowtech production to keep with that sense of intimacy. “Both the script and the actors do the job so that you don’t need a lot of stuff.” The two-and-a-half hour Victoria College Drama Society production--adapted from the 2000 play by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tetonic Theatre Project--portrays the different accounts and insights of the people of Laramie through over 200 real-life interviews. “While this play shows the capacity for human beings to do hateful and harmful things, it also shows the capacity for human beings to do very generous and thoughtful things,” says Osborne. “There is a diverse community out there. They all don’t think alike. So this play isn’t just about a hate crime, it’s about prejudices, and it gives voice to a whole range of opinions.” Osborne was touched deeply when he first saw a production of the Laramie Project, and feels that the Christopher Skinner murder in Toronto and the signing of the Matthew Shepard
February 4, 2010
Canadian Landscape Architecture exposed! MNRUPE virk Along with the rapid urbanization of regions around the world, landscape architecture is becoming an increasingly important and growing field. On February 6, the John H. Daniels Faculty of Landscape, Architecture and Design will be holding a symposium that explores the work of up-and-coming and seasoned Canadian landscape architects. It will feature keynote speaker Charles Waldheim, Department of Landscape Architecture Chair at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The symposium, Innate Terrain: Canadian Work of Established and Emerging Canadian Landscape Architecture Practices, is unique in its aim to identify and present a distinctively Canadian approach to landscape architecture. “A lot of what we study [are] American and European exam-
ples, but there’s not a lot documented or written on Canadian landscape architecture in a way that’s accessible, particularly to students,” said Professor Alissa North, the event coordinator and curator, on the choice of symposium topic. The Innate Terrain title itself represents the dominant theme of Canadian landscape architecture. “It’s a thesis on what I expect to find in the discussions of the symposium,” explained North, “looking at existing landscapes that we have across the country and really trying to understand the innate characteristics of the landscape instead of imposing something. Canadian landscape architects are actually quite adept at being very respectful of the existing landscape.” The symposium will also address the Canadian emphasis on sustainability. The process of urbanization often threatens
a region’s existing social, cultural, and biological environments. As a result, the desire for environmentally sustainable landscape architecture continues to grow, especially among Canadian architecture schools. In addition to the symposium, there will be an exhibition of the “exemplary work and ideas” of the participating Canadian landscape architects. Following the event, organizers will assemble a publication that will provide students and professionals with additional reference material on the topic. Innate Terrain is a free event open to the public, held on Feb. 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Room 103 of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design (230 College St.). Seating is first come, first served. The exhibition will be held from February 1-12 at the Larry Wayne Richards Gallery of the John H. Daniels Building.
As Valentine’s day nears, I am thinking of all the lustful poetry involved in a perfect outfit. Take for example, Vivienne Westwood, famously unattractive, and yet here is a description of her clothing by biographer Fred Vermoel: “electric with a Romantic genius of Tourettism--its diabolical transvaluations, its manic attention to detail which it then subverts, its imitative cacaphony, its compulsive disrespect, its perverse mutations and improvisations, its mischeveious humour, its ticcy details and its sartorial corprolalia (as an erotic effrontery).” In other words: “Let’s do it! Let’s fall in love!”
5 the listings R. Kelly: Trapped in the Closet, the Big Package on the Big Screen What: R. Kelly genius in near feature length glory. Get tickets early before they sell out! Proceeds go to a local AIDS charity. Where: The Royal Cinema, 608 College St. for $10 for a ticket When:9:30pm, February 13th. Chronologic Dance Party What: A dance party through the ages. Pop and Antipop from the End of History. i.e. Music from 1890 to 2010, played in chronological order. Where: The Boat, 158 Augusta Ave. When: Saturday, February 6th How much: $5 at the door come early to not be sad Mariah Carey, What! What: Mariah Carey rocks and dances the Air Canada Centre! Old favourites and new not-so favourites live in concert. Where: Air Canada Centre on February 9th at 9pm. How much: $59.75 - $129.75 Wavelength 500 What: The 10 year anniversary and 500th Wavelength show is less a show and more of a 4 day and night music festival. Also the last chance to see Wavelength on a Sunday night. When: February 10th-14th Where: The Garrison, 1197 Dundas St. W. Festival Pass: $50 @ Rotate This, $12 - $20 otherwise. George Clinton & P-Funk What: Valentine’s Day trip to the mothership. Old and still getting busted for cocaine, George and the gang will be funkin’ up the Phoenix. Where: The Phoenix, 410 Sherbourne St. When: 8:00 pm - February 14th
Adrien Lee Reynolds, 4th year English Specialist The Buttery
Nora Ursulescu, 2nd year Sociology Major Robarts
“My style is based off of simplicity, which I find beautiful. While I tend to dress mostly in classic monochrome, I add a flourish or embellishment to make the outfit remarkable (i.e. bows, fur, studs). My resolution for the new year is to bring more colour into my wardrobe, so I will soon be adding a lilac streak to my hair. My outfits range from the androgynous to the distinctly feminine/gamine. Every now and again, I treat myself to an expensive “ investment piece”. Ultimately, I choose to wear whatever makes me feel pretty, comfortable and confident... a blend of style and fashion.”
“My personal style is mainly a mix of classic pieces paired up with a more casual ones. I love dressing up, but cannot do so on an everyday basis. For that reason, I wear a simple pair of jeans with a dressier, more detailed top. That, in a way also, describes my perfect outfit - it has to be practical and comfortable to suit my life as a student, while at the same time fashionable. My favourite wardrobe piece at the moment is a cropped black and white blazer I recently bought from H&M. It has a Chanel inspired look and because it is so versatile, it can easily be dressed up or down.”
Sea slugs mystify
February 4, 2010
Magnesium, your new cram session buddy
First ‘plant-imal’ on face of Earth?
THIRU SHATHASIVAM tim ryan
Sea slugs, the vagina of the ocean. ferred into the slug’s genome and could be passed on to its offsprings. In nature, the phenomena of transferring genes from one organism to another have only been identified between prokaryotes (like bacteria) and between prokaryotes and single-celled eukaryotes. Only in scientific research have such genetic transfers been manipu-
lated to occur between more complex organisms (termed multicellular eukaryotes), for reasons such as gene therapy. Could these be the world’s first “plant-imal”, an animalplant hybrid organism? Well, at least these suckers can be found sunbathing on the east coast of Canada, like Nova Scotia. Maybe we can use them to promote tourism
Introducing Elysia chlorotica, a pilfering sea slug identified as the first animal to make chlorophyll. That’s right, the green pigment found in plants and algae and vital for photosynthesis (the process by which carbon dioxide is converted to oxygen and glucose, using energy from sunlight). Ironically shaped like a leaf itself, this particular slug slits open the filaments of algae to suck out its contents to feed. The meal includes chloroplasts, the structures responsible for chlorophyll production and photosynthesis in both algae and plants. Upon ingestion, certain cells lining the slug’s digestive pouch manage to capture the chloroplasts, which continue to function inside the cell for up to nine months! More startlingly, Dr. Sidney Pierce from the University of South Florida discovered that the slugs were also making chlorophyll themselves, without relying on the acquired reserves in chloroplasts. In fact, Dr. Pierce found four genes involved in chlorophyll synthesis to be incorporated into the slugs own DNA. Furthermore, the genes were also detected in unhatched larvae which have never fed on algae. Translation? Genes from the algae’s genome were trans-
U of T researchers are part of a recent collaborative work that suggests brain magnesium levels may be vital to improving memory. Recently published in the journal Neuron, a constituent of the prestigious Cell Press group of scientific journals, the study shows that an increase in brain magnesium levels improves memory in young and old rats. Based on their results, the group suggests that increasing dietary magnesium levels is a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive function and that inadequate magnesium intake can have an opposite affect, thus leading to faster memory deterioration in older humans. Professor Min Zhuo of the Department of Physiology at U of T was one of the collaborators on this project, led by Professor Guosong Liu of the University of Beijing. Previously, Zhuo had shown that magnesium had promoted synaptic plasticity in cultured brain cells. But Zhuo didn’t want to stop there, and hypothesized that magnesium may actually play a functional role in the brain. Since it is difficult to increase magnesium levels in the brain by simply feeding a subject regular dietary magnesium,
the group needed to develop a method for delivering magnesium to the brain in higher concentrations relative to other tissue types. The answer was the administration of magnesiumL-threonate (MgT), a molecule that has a greater affinity for the brain. The researchers used MgT on rats of different ages, and then measured differences in behavioral and cellular functions associated with memory. In test groups, they found significant increases in the frequency of functional synapses, activation of key signaling molecules and an enhancement of short- and long-term synaptic processes that are crucial for learning and memory. It is important to note that the control groups were fed a normal diet which is widely accepted to contain adequate magnesium levels. Thus, the findings suggest that elevating magnesium intake may be a useful strategy in thwarting cognitive breakdown. Half of the population in industrialized countries has magnesium deficits, a problem that worsens with age. Thus, magnesium supplementation may help prevent the dramatic increase in brain disease that is predicted to occur within the next generation.
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February 4, 2010
Genesis Illustrated, And Crumb saw that it was Good
Smells like pure spirit
An interview with Laura Barrett SARAH d’angelo
LAURENT NOONAN Someone should have told Robert Crumb that it’s okay to use poetic license when adapting a text from one medium to another. His release of The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb late last year is the result of an aborted attempt to satirize the Bible and turns out to be, as he claims, a ‘literal interpretation’ and ‘straight illustration job’ of all 50 chapters, word for word, found in the Book of Genesis. Crumb shifted gears and decided to take a serious approach after realizing it would be too difficult to sustain a satire on such a big project. It was the right choice to move away from satire, but it’s hard to read through Genesis Illustrated without questioning if Crumb’s talent went to waste on this project, which is such a dramatic departure from his usual style. One of the biggest problems with the book is that the artwork, which shows a lot of skill throughout, seems uninspired and often competes with textual narration jam-packed into every panel of the book. Traditionally, an illustrated book will use one image per page in order to capture a tone that compliments a portion of text. Crumb’s choice to use a format more common to sequential art narratives is strange considering the amount of text he wants to include. While he could have added panels free of text to improve the pacing, or employed more creative story-telling techniques— like those found in film and many modern graphic novels, to break up the monotony of so much text—it seems that Crumb hasn’t developed a knack for rendering longer narratives. Also, his idea of a ‘literal interpretation’ is suspect given that he uses freeze frames taken from Hollywood biblical epics captured on friend’s DVD player as reference for the artwork. Since when is Hollywood the standard for Biblical imagery? And where does it say that God should look like a grumpy old man with an overgrown beard, or that Adam
should resemble a stocky version of Fabio? For these reasons, the chapters on Creation are the most disappointing. I’d suggest skipping this part of the book, especially if you’re not already familiar with the descriptions of Creation, and turn to Milton’s poem if you want to experience an artist’s imagination put to better use. To be fair, things begin to pick up in terms of pacing around the time that Jacob and Essau enter the story. This is possibly because the latter chapters in Genesis, especially the Joseph story, are more suited to sequential art narrative, having their roots in a literary as opposed to oral tradition, and perhaps Crumb was more interested by the complex family dynamics found in this part of the text. If that’s the case, it shows in the carefully nuanced renderings of the Biblical characters’
faces. Crumb is great at portraying some of the less flattering human emotions such as fear, anger, and jealousy that abound in the latter half of his book. You can see the tensions building in Joseph, for example, as he reunites with his brothers after spending so much time in Egypt. Finally there is a sense that Crumb is actively interpreting and contributing something original to the text. The artwork also grows on you the more you look at it. The entire book, rendered in pen and ink with countless hatch marks to create tones, gives the images a slightly antiquated look, which is ideal for the Bible. Even the lettering is done by hand, which avoids the mechanical look of digital type. It’s clear that Crumb put a lot of work into this project; it’s just a shame he felt he had to stick to a literal interpretation, whatever that means.
On February 8, singer/songwriter Laura Barrett will join forces with Indie Pop group, The Magnetic Fields, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. In 2005, the classically trained pianist bought an african thumb piano--also known as a kalimba--on a whim and has subsequently made a striking imprint on Toronto Indie music. Since then, she has released a full length album, “Victory Garden”, and numerous EP’s, not to mention her contributions to Henri Faberge and the Adorables, Hidden Cameras and Woodhands. Amidst all the bustle, I was lucky enough to interject myself into her schedule for a pleasant chat over the phone. Describing her music as “neurotic sci folk, for neurotic sci folk,” Barrett combines the deceptively simple sounds of the kalimba with playful lyrics about robot ponies to the difficulties of writing a genuine love song. “Neurotic sci folk has a nice ring to it,” she says. “It’s more Psychology than Biology though.” Understanding the innate algorithms in speech, like alliteration and rhythmic patterns, is all a part of her musical endeavor. Feeling inspired by her ability to transform broad topics like speech pathology into a thoroughly unique art, I felt as though I might have misjudged the sciences in my former years. “Get into math,” she laughs. And we continue. Demonstrating how even writing something like a love song, full of volition and emotional selectivity, can be a cognitive sci-
ence too, Barrett reworks love in her song “Ferryland.” Rather than trying to articulate the soaring heights of a passionate lover, or the doleful digression of a heart spilt in two, she analyzes the process of articulating these feelings honestly. But what I enjoyed most about our discussions of science and lyrical identities was her overall down-to-earth demeanor. She describes her other musical expeditions with Henri Faberge and the Adorables and Hidden Cameras as more of a “musical posse,” than a band. Barrett’s commitment to other groups comes with ease. She enjoys taking on different stage personas--something I think she finds key in the whole creative process. When describing some of her major influences, like Kate Bush, she notes that it’s the bizarre personas that seep through her melodies, which inspire her. Enticed by the whole idea of theatrics and on-stage characters, it’s no wonder that Barrett chose to cover a Weird Al Yankovic song on her debut with kalimba. Her version of “Smells like Nirvana” definitely reflects Yankovic’s ability to be ironic without being a total drag. “He kind of initiated the age of irony, but he made it happy.” There’s a difference between the jagged irony Pop has come to personify, and Weird Al’s fun character interplay is something Laura Barrett has harnessed as well. And despite the interjection of her work with The Magnetic Fields, we can hope to see a new album in stores this fall.
February 4, 2010
Across 1. 5.1 Speakers 9. Ocean movement 10. Legend 11. Following 12. Dining 13. Improve a carâ€™s performance
14. Rant 16. Potato dish 19. Mix 20. Colouring 21. Neat 24. Object 27. Kick back
28. Enforce 29. Not singular 30. Change 32. Exchange blows 33. Plunder 34. Sport finals
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