The McGill Tribune Published by the SPT, a student society of McGill University
TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2017 | VOL. 37 | ISSUE 21
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Toward a weed-friendly campus: Let’s set the bar high
Psychics of Montreal
Predictions and players to watch
Demystifying the mystic
(Zoe Yalden / The McGill Tribune)
Caffè Farina offers a taste of italy in Saint-Henri PG. 7
Moving on in the Mile End
How gentrification is changing Montreal’s music scene Janine Xu Staff Writer In November 2017, Divan Orange, a popular music venue on St-Laurent Boulevard, announced that it would be permanently closing its doors due to
financial hardships. Divan Orange was a staple of Montreal’s independent music community for 13 years, having hosted over 10,000 shows and kickstarting the careers of many popular artists such as Coeur de Pirate, Arcade Fire, and Patrick Watson. Several months later, in February
Students unable to retrieve belongings from closed office
Event organizers also frustrated by “rhetoric of entitlement” over ticket sales The process of buying tickets for the 2018 AUS x SUS Graduation Ball at Le Windsor proved controversial after many students were unable to secure tickets in the first two rounds of sales. The event, hosted by both the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) and the Science Undergradu-
made it an inclusive, intimate space for musicians and music-lovers alike. Divan Orange and Le Cagibi are both small music venues that showcase under-theradar acts. As the Mile End gentrifes, intimate music spaces like these are being forced out of the neighbourhood due to financial strain. PG. 7
Players’ Theatre closes indefinitely following safety inspection
Students angered by Grad Ball ticket confusion
Tianyu Zhang Contributor
2018, iconic Mile End coffee shop and live music venue Le Cagibi announced that, due to rent hikes, it would be moving from its location on St-Laurent and StViateur to a space five blocks north on StZotique Street in Little Italy. Operating for over 10 years, Le Cagibi’s vegetarian menu and small stage in the back room
Avleen K Mokha Staff Writer
ate Society (SUS), saw rapid sell-out rates and technical difficulties with the payment system, inconveniencing students and organizers alike. Since 2016, the AUS and SUS have used a multi-tiered ticket sale scheme in which tickets are sold in three rounds, each at a different volume, with a different price, and on a different date. TVM, told The McGill Tribune.
Players’ Theatre’s office, located in Room 309 of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) building, was closed indefinitely on Feb. 12 after tests performed in preparation for the upcoming building construction showed high levels of disturbed asbestos in the space. Although SSMU staff retrieved musical instruments
from the room on March 5, personal property remains quarantined, due to health and safety risks of exposure to disturbed asbestos. “As standard protocol for a construction project, the areas [to] be affected by the construction are tested to determine if they contain materials like asbestos,” SSMU Vice-President (VP) Student Life Jemark Earle said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Other areas of
the University Centre have materials containing asbestos, but Players’ Theatre was the only area flagged because of the substantial damage to the materials containing asbestos.” The entire SSMU building will close to the public on March 17. However, the evacuation of Room 309 was sudden and unexpected, and disrupted the theatre’s 30th annual McGill Drama Festival which was supposed to run from Feb. 7 to 17. PG. 2
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Players’ Theatre closes indefinitely following safety inspection
Students unable to retrieve belongings from closed office Avleen K Mokha Staff Writer
Continued from page 1. The festival, largely organized by Coordinator Gretel Kahn, had already been rescheduled following SSMU’s announcement of the building closure. “The McGill Drama Festival is an event that is scheduled in March and April,” Kahn said. “But after hearing about the building closure, we decided [...] to move the festival to February [....] I have been organizing this for months.” On Feb. 14, part way through the festival, SSMU relocated the Theatre to the Cafeteria on the second floor of the SSMU building for it to con- High levels of agitated asbestos were found in Room 309, resulting in its immediate evacuation. (Kaylina Kodlick / The McGill Tribune) tinue its performances. Despite this, “Our biggest concern is [why] this all shows were cancelled that day be- help him.” wasn’t made an issue before we had 50 Of all the Players’ Theatre procause the Players’ Theatre executives students working months to put on this ductions, the drama festival draws the were unable to retrieve their props, costumes, instruments, and equipment largest audience and generates the most show,” Cheyenne Cranston, Players’ from Room 309. revenue. Given how disruptive the sud- Theatre events coordinator, said. However, Earle stressed that “Music students left their instru- den closure has been for their operaments in the theatre space,” Kahn said. tions, Players’ Theatre members have SSMU has the right to conduct inspec“One of the keyboard players asked me expressed frustration over not receiv- tions without notice. “Players’ Theatre was not informed if he can get his keyboard back, be- ing advanced notice of the original inof the subsequent inspection by SSMU cause he has a show. I wasn’t able to spection.
as it was deemed a safety issue and the SSMU may intervene in any area of the University Centre without prior notification if there [is] a safety or security concern,” Earle said. It is unclear how significant a health risk the level of contamination in the theatre space poses. “The material tested contained 0.1 per cent up to 5 per cent asbestos,” Earle said. “We can’t really comment on health risks, [you] would have to consult a medical professional.” Besides the McGill Drama Festival, the group originally had a coproduction scheduled with the McGill comedy sketch troupe Bring Your Own Juice (BYOJ) later this semester. Due to the closure of the theatre, Players’ Theatre was unable to offer a space to BYOJ, forcing the comedy team to relocate its three-day annual event to MainLine Theatre, a venue in the Plateau that is not affiliated with McGill. While SSMU will be arranging a new theatre space for Players’ Theatre during the building closure, the exact location has not yet been determined. “We’ve been assured that we will have some type of functional space,” Cranston said. “But we don’t know what that would look like at all. We’re still in the process of figuring that out.”
Students question CAMSR’s transparency at BoG student forum Black Students’ Network also shares plans for future student fee increase Laura Oprescu Staff Writer McGill’s Board of Governors (BoG) held its fifth annual Board-Student forum on March 1, giving students and Governors the opportunity to discuss their respective roles at McGill. In the first part of the forum, Board members were assigned tables while students rotated, giving students a chance to debate issues with every board member. Following this conversation period, six student groups, including the Black Students’ Network (BSN), McGill Student Emergency Response Team (M-SERT), and Divest McGill gave short presentations on their objectives and logistical needs for 2018. Some used the opportunity to voice their concerns about students’ ability to stay informed about the BoG’s proceedings—particularly concerning the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility’s (CAMSR) terms of reference, which are currently under review. BSN presents its mandates and a forthcoming fee levy campaign The BSN is a Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) service that aims to make McGill safe and accessible for black students and to support their academic success, mental health, and physical well-being. Next year, BSN will push for the implementation of an Africana Studies program at McGill. This year they will hold a fee levy referendum, aiming to increase their student fee from $0.40 to $1.00 for full-time students. “[The fee levy] will support the institutionalization of our service,” Christelle Tessono, vice president political for BSN, said in their presentation at the forum. “It’s very hard to continue providing so many services when you’re not paid.”
Discussion with Divest McGill over the CAMSR Terms of Reference Divest McGill’s presentation primarily focused on their concerns regarding the proposed changes to the CAMSR terms of reference, which would prohibit it from endorsing investments based on social or political considerations. CAMSR meets on an ad hoc basis and is tasked with advising the BoG on investing in a socially responsible manner. Divest McGill previously interrupted the BoG’s meeting on Dec. 12 to protest the proposal. More recently, on Feb. 15, the BoG held a community session in which members of the McGill community were able to ask questions about the changes to the mandate. However, questions related to the wording of the new mandate were rejected and referred to CAMSR during its confidential meeting several days later. Associate Professor Edith Zorychta, who sits on the Nominating, Governance and Ethics committee, explained during the forum tabling session why CAMSR’s meetings are not open to the public. “Every institution has to have some kind of watchdog to make decisions about the finances,” Zorychta said. “It’s a conflict of interest if you [have an open meeting] and you’re making decisions about hiring administration, what their salaries are going to be.” However, Divest McGill members present at the meeting asserted that CAMSR’s mandate is not about finances or hiring decisions. They called upon CAMSR to hold open sessions and make its minutes public, like the BoG does. “[CAMSR’s] argument [for holding closed sessions] is that people express their truest ideas in private,” Divest McGill member Jed Lenetsky said. “But they are decision-makers for the university and they are accountable to students.” Divest presented several recommendations
Divest McGill urged the BoG to adopt a policy of openness (Liam Kirkpatrick / The McGill Tribune) for the proposed changes to CAMSR in a letter, including keeping the frequency of CAMSR reviews at every three years rather than the proposed every five years and removing the proposed change to the mandate. Lenetsky and Annabelle Couture-Guillet believe that the BoG did not conduct thorough research before submitting the proposed changes. “[The BoG] consulted six experts,” Lenetsky said. “It was only after [Divest] held a week-long sit-in outside Suzanne Fortier’s office that the BoG released [the experts’] names and testimonies, and only five out of six [were released].” In addition to greater transparency, Divest is pushing for more informed discussions. “These experts were from McGill, with expertise in their own fields, people from the economics department, a green chemist, experts in sustainability,” Lenetsky said. “But not experts in ethical investing, which is what CAMSR is all about.”
Alice Lefebvre, student representative to CAMSR, assured during the forum tabling session that student voices have been heard through community consultations. “I’ve been talking to students and other members of the McGill community about the proposed changes, and really listening to why the changes were made,” Lefebvre said. “I’ve seen both sides [of the issue], so [we can] make the best decision.” Lefebvre explained that, although only one student representative sits on CAMSR, this position is sufficient to convey student interests. “There aren’t many students on the BoG, and CAMSR is a small committee,” Lefebvre said. “I feel that CAMSR received a lot of comments on the changes from students. Even if I was the only student representative on the committee, there’s still openness.” CAMSR will meet again on March 21 to discuss the changes to its mandate.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Liberals’ Budget 2018 invests heavily in research Increases in funding mean more opportunities for researchers at McGill
PGSS and McGill Athletics’ tensions addressed at Council PGSS Council continues QSU vs AVEQ debate
PGSS Council discussed its relationship with the McGill Athletics and Recreation Advisory Board (MARAB) and student federations. (Lauren Bensor-Armer / The McGill Tribune)
Elizabeth Strong Contributor
Government funding for research comes as a relief to many after concerns about lab closures at McGill. (Daria Kiseleva / The McGill Tribune)
Nina Russell Contributor In the Liberal Party of Canada’s Budget 2018, the government of Canada announced that it would invest heavily in research, allocating a total of $6.6 billion to science and innovation. This is a $1.2 billion increase from the 2017 budget. For students at McGill, the increase in funding will allow more students to pursue research, earn federal grants, and receive compensation for their work. According to Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau, this is the largest investment in investigator-led research in Canada’s history. “We’ll make sure that the new money for research supports the next generation of researchers, so that we can build a science community that looks more like Canada, more diverse, and with a greater number of women,” Morneau said during his remarks following the release of the budget. This increase in spending is based on recommendations from the Naylor Report, a document written in 2017 by a panel featuring researchers from universities all across Canada, including McGill’s Martha Crago, current vice-principal of Research and Innovation. The report mainly advocates for increases in government funding for research, and recommended a $1.3 billion increase in investigator-led research for science, given the fact that Canada’s research output has been declining since 2005. “Canada’s performance in winning international prizes is trailing traditional powerhouses such as the U.S. and U.K.,” the Naylor Report reads. “It is also well behind Australia, which now outperforms Canada on several other measures. In recent decades, twice as many Canadians have won research-related Nobel prizes while working in the U.S. as have been awarded to Canadian-born or foreign-born scientists working in Canada.” The report also addressed the need to at-
tract more young people to research in Canada by eliminating funding barriers. Currently, the odds of securing a federal grant are only eight to 12 per cent for projects in health research, which discourages students from pursuing research in this field. The budget attempts to remedy this by increasing the money available to finance grants, resources, and technology available to researchers. The new budget greatly increases allocations to fundamental research in particular, which refers to studies directed at understanding the fundamental features of observable facts without a specific application in mind. “[Fundamental research is] basically making the foundational discoveries that allow you or others to then seek application of them,” Crago said. “It’s the basis, discovering anything in any field that is underlying [and] not done as an application that is investigator-driven. In past budgets, though there has been increases to councils, it’s always been for [specific] areas. This is whatever the investigator feels like studying and can convince through peer-review people that they have the capability and capacity to do it and do it well.” Researchers at McGill have recently expressed concerns about the possibility of continuing to do their research in light of budget cuts, despite McGill’s strength as a research institution. The increase in budget allocation means that more researchers will have the opportunity to pursue their studies without worrying about how to finance their projects.. “I think [the increase in funding] will be very helpful because there were a lot of people because in the council who were beginning to feel really nervous about [the lack of money for this kind of research....] With this injection of money, this should really help the number of people that get funded,” Crago said. “It will have an influence on students because [about 50 per cent of research grants go to] graduate students and [postdoctoral researchers], so the more grant money there is, the more money there is to attract graduate students and to pay them.”
At the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Council meeting on Feb. 21, councillors addressed the tenuous relationship between student federations and McGill Athletics and Recreation. Francois Miller, manager of the McGill Office of Sustainability, also briefly presented the Vision 2020 sustainability strategy. Following this, Council moved on to reviewing and approving the reports of PGSS financial affairs and member service officers. Finally, new business was briefly discussed, including the approval of a motion to ratify the Innovation Commissioner’s resignation. Post-graduate involvement in McGill Athletics and Recreation The McGill Athletics and Recreation Advisory Board (MARAB) is one of several committees advising various student services on campus. Jason Blakeburn, the PGSS representative on MARAB, opened the floor to discussion of what Athletics and Recreation can do to improve its services for the graduate student population. He cited the failure of the Winter 2017 fee levy referendum, which proposed a three per cent increase, raising the fee to $3.63 per term for postgraduates, as an indication of a tenuous relationship between Athletics and Recreation and the student body. “[McGill Athletics and Recreation] realized last year, after the failed referendum, that there was a lack of trust, or transparency, or just communication going on, so they want to hear from grad students how we can better serve them,” Blakeburn said. PGSS Financial Affairs Officer Matthew Satterthwaite, a former employee of McGill Athletics, voiced his concerns regarding the department’s organization and unnecessarily large employee costs. “I would really like to see athletics […] maybe going through a process of really looking at their organizational structure, who’s accountable to who, [and] how many people do you actually need to do the jobs,” Satterthwaite said. “From an organizational standpoint there’s a lot of money wasted.”
Blakeburn closed the conversation with an invitation to PGSS members to reach out to him personally with further concerns. Further continuation of discussion concerning the prioritization of QSU over AVEQ At its previous meeting on Jan. 17, PGSS tabled a discussion on affiliating with the Quebec Student Union (QSU) or the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ), two provincial student federations that represent university student governments at the provincial and federal level. External Affairs Officer Hocine Slimani reopened the issue, standing firm in his position that, after careful review of both organizations, the QSU is better suited to serve the interests of members of the PGSS. Slimani also expressed his desire for PGSS to prioritize QSU affiliation in its upcoming referendum. “It’s a bad idea to put two options on the ballot because people are not informed enough,” Slimani said. “Referendum questions […] should be yes or no questions. I think it is our job here, all of us as representatives, that we choose the option that will serve the best interests of our constituents.” Slimani’s assertion that the graduate student populace is uninformed was met with criticism from members of the audience, including Bradley Por, a graduate student in the Faculty of Law. Por questioned Slimani’s impartiality and argued that the most democratic course of action would be to invite both groups to present before the PGSS at its annual general meeting (AGM) on April 11. Jacquie Safieh, a member of the Family Medicine Graduate Student Society (FMGSS), motioned to invite AVEQ to speak at the AGM but it failed to pass. “My mandate was to prioritize the QSU,” Slimani said. “My frustration is that I am at the end of my mandate [which was] to come up with a referendum question […] and yet we are running in circles [....]” After nearly 50 minutes of debate on the matter, Satterthwaite motioned to postpone discussion until the next PGSS Council meeting, to be held on March 21.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Students angered by Grad Ball ticket confusion
Event organizers also frustrated by “rhetoric of entitlement” over ticket sales Tianyu Zhang Contributor Continued from page 1. This year, tickets for the gourmet dinner and dance were sold at $98.06 in tier one on Feb. 18, then at $103.20 in tier two on Feb. 21, and at $108.35 in tier three on Feb. 23. Students also had the option to buy tickets for the dance alone for $62.04, but these were only made available in the second and third tiers. A different quantity of tickets were sold in each tier; only 70 out of 500 total dinner and dance tickets were made available for purchase in the first tier, which sold out within 16 seconds of going live, sparking outrage among prospective attendees. Claudia Belliveau, U3 Science, was among them: After she was unable to buy one of the first 70 tickets, she grew concerned that the limited number sold in tier one indicated that the planning committee had underestimated the number of students who wanted to attend the ball. “I think [AUS and SUS] should try to find a venue that can hold at least all the graduates, because only having 500 [dinner] tickets for two large faculties’ graduates is crazy,” Belliveau said. In an email to The McGill Tribune, AUS Vice-President Social Nathan Greene clarified that there are 500 dinner and dance tickets, 300 dance-only tickets in tier 1, and 400 more dance-only tickets, adding up to a total building capacity of 1,200 people. Greene explained that the value of selling tickets in tiers is twofold: First, to build interest in the event, and second, to encourage students to buy their tickets as soon
as possible, leaving organizers with more time to focus on planning. “The tiered ticket system generates buzz,” Greene wrote. “It is [a common misconception] that Grad Ball reaches all ears as soon as the event is dropped [....] There are a fair amount of people who miss the first ticket tier, only coming in time for second and third tier tickets. The buzz generated around the event helps us sell tickets for both dinner and dance, thus maximizing our chances to sell out.” Several students who secured their tickets in the first tier reported further difficulties with payment. While some students were charged twice for single tickets, others reported that they had been charged without receiving their tickets at all. Emily Stimpson, U3 Arts, was part of the former group. “[The Graduation Ball website] did bill me twice because there was a PayPal issue, which I know a lot of other people experienced,” Stimpson said. According to Greene, the high frequency of PayPal purchases overloaded the system, affecting approximately 15 students. His team has since taken steps to address the issue. “For Tier 3, we made sure to up our server capacity and also switched our payment service provider to Stripe,” Greene wrote. “These changes remedied the issue.” While frustration over ticket purchases was most prominent among ticket purchasers, Greene noted that the confusion has taken a similar toll on the event organizers, who are all unpaid student volunteers. “There has been a recent, reoccurring rhetoric of entitlement that has taken hold around the purchasing of Graduation Ball tickets, which has [led] to the dehumaniza-
Organizers implemented tiered ticket sales to build interest in Graduation Ball and encourage students to purchase tickets as soon as possible. (Arts Undergraduate Society) tion of Grad Ball organizers,” Greene said. “I get frustrated when I hear individuals on my committee telling me stories of how they had to return home from a rough midterm only to face an inbox full of misdirected hate mail. We are students too, we are working on this event for [students’] sake, so please do us one courtesy and think before you send that angry message.” As of Feb. 28, there were 40 tickets to the dinner and dance remaining, according to Greene. Representatives from the SUS did not respond to requests for comment.
McGill Senate tackles distraction in lectures
Professors weigh in on ways to combat cell phone and laptop use in the classroom lot more effective,” Youssef said.
Cherry Wu Staff Writer The McGill University Senate, a governing body that supervises all academic matters on campus, convened on Feb. 21 to discuss the implementation of interactive learning methods in classrooms. Deputy Provost Student Life and Learning Ollivier Dyens (DPSLL) also delivered a report about progress made by the office of Student Life and Learning (SLL) in 20162017. Engaged Classroom in a Digital World During the meeting, a guest panel discussed how the presence of devices such as laptops and cellphones has changed the social and educational dynamics of lectures. The panel, composed of two professors and one student, was invited to speak about their experiences with interactive learning strategies and technologies such as polling software and group work. The first panelist, Assistant Professor Sharmistha Bhadra, Faculty of Engineering, complained that students are easily distracted by their electronic devices during lectures. “[In a lecture] I’m the only one talking, but most of the students are not engaging,” Bhadra said. “They are looking at their cell phones or their computers [...or have] just stopped showing up to classes. It was very discouraging because I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job. When it came to the final, [those] who didn’t show up to class or engage in class did terribly.” Bhadra suggested professors use ac-
A student and faculty panel urged Senate to implement new digital technologies and strategies to increase student engagement in lectures. (Natalie Vineberg / The McGill Tribune) tive learning techniques such as group activities to increase student engagement. “I tried to rely more on the black boards to solve problems [collectively] and [was able to] incorporate more student input,” Bhadra said. Kenneth Ragan, Professor in the Faculty of Science and the second panelist, shared his experiences leading two freshmen physics lectures with up to 700 students in attendance. In order to boost class participation, he said he implemented polling technology and allotted time during lessons for students to discuss course material. He emphasized the effectiveness of the latter method in particular. “Interaction between students is at least as important as interaction with the
professor,” Ragan said. “Peer instruction happens when you have a group of students whose knowledge individually is very incomplete but are able to bounce ideas off of each other and effectively find a solution.” The last panelist, Salma Youssef, U3 Biochemistry, presented a collection of student testimonies on classroom engagement and interactive learning strategies. Many students endorsed activities like classroom simulations and small-group discussions— the latter of which Youssef corroborated. “In my personal experience, I found that in courses like chemistry, when professors pause and allow the students to think through the material, and then prompt one of the students to answer, made learning a
Dyens presents Annual Report from Student Life and Learning (2016-17) Dyens presented the Annual Report, which highlights achievements by Student Life and Learning, an administrative office which aims to foster students’ academic development and well-being through a number of services inckuding Student Housing and Hospitality Services and Athletics and Recreation. In the past year, SLL received $8 million in provincial grants to implement more experiential learning initiatives. The funding was divided between a number of programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. “$1.5 million was allocated to Enriched Educational Opportunities (EEO), so all faculties can provide more bursary for work experience opportunities outside the classroom,” Dyens said. “Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies also received $1.5 million to implement more PhD internships.” Dyens also outlined ways to improve SLL’s performance after his departure from his office this Summer. “In the next year, we need to focus a bit more on the customer service aspect to respond to student needs more quickly,” Dyens said. “This will also include the Mental Health and Wellness Strategy, which will come out soon. It’s really the customer service aspect that make the biggest difference for how the students feel about the SLL.” The Senate will reconvene on March 28.
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Toward a weed-friendly campus: Let’s set the bar high It’s no secret that many university students smoke weed, including at McGill. With marijuana set to be legal in Canada by the end of the summer, schools no longer need to turn a blind eye. In preparation for the new industry, McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has already scheduled two workshops on medical cannabis for May, and plans to roll out a diploma on cannabis production in 2019. Whatever the benefit of these workshops or of the burgeoning cannabis industry, these measures open a much-needed explicit, institutionallevel conversation about recreational weed use. While weed will be included in the upcoming campus smoking-ban alongside tobacco, physical campus is not the only space in student life. And, federal deadlines providing, next year’s first-year students will be the first to enter university when recreational weed is legal. The McGill community should take this opportunity to frankly discuss best practices for education, including harm and stigma-reduction, and to decide the kind of weed culture that it wants to promote and maintain. Cannabis use is as common in the McGill community as alcohol consumption. Yet, it hasn’t been matched by the same extensive educational and harm-reduction measures that McGill’s drinking culture has. Safe partying initiatives and resources like Rez Project, Frosh goodie bags, and Healthy McGill fliers focus primarily on alcohol consumption, sometimes with allusions
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Returning home for reading week often comes with the usual barrage of concern from my family over my choice to pursue journalism as a career. “Journalism is a dying field,” my family members say. “Anybody with a blog can be a journalist.” Yet, I could scarcely go a day without one of my friends or family fretting over American tariffs, Trudeau’s travels, or Russian nerve agents. I was baffled at the apparent disparity between their bleak outlook on the future of the media industry and their consistent interest in updates on global affairs. This disconnect is the result of people seeing information as a freely and easily
It’s time for McGill to begin a discussion on marijuana consumption. (Justine Touchon / The McGill Tribune) to general safe drug use. Yet, there are no dedicated conversations about the most prevalent drug at McGill, apart from when smoky residence bathrooms set off fire alarms. However safe or culturally acceptable, most drugs on campus are still technically illegal, discouraging the University or student groups from explicitly condoning use of them. That will no longer be the case for weed. Rather than looking the other way—or encouraging others to do so— McGill and its students must actively shape the norms and culture around cannabis. As with any substance, the key to both harm and stigma-reduction is access to information. For some young people, especially those coming to McGill from outside of Canada, post-
secondary school is their first exposure to recreational substance use. In this case, education is important not because weed is insanely dangerous—generally, it isn’t—but because society lacks an understanding of its potential benefits and harms. Weed has long been used for medicinal and curative purposes. It can act as a vital aid for chronic pain, and can relieve stress and anxiety. It does not present the same—sometimes fatal—harms that alcohol does. At the same time, weed has its own unique, highly-varied side effects, many of which experts don’t fully understand yet: It can affect cognitive functioning, produce user-dependency, and, for some, cause or exacerbate anxiety. Furthermore, impaired driving is a risk regardless of the substance involved. Come legalization, McGill ought
EDITORIAL to ensure students have the information necessary to make educated decisions if they want to use substances, and support if they find themselves struggling with dependent use. That doesn’t mean war-on-drugs fear-mongering, nor does it mean passive ignorance of all use—it means an evidence-based, judgment-free approach to providing information, through a range of educational and support channels that are accessible to students. Frosh and residence programming seem like the most obvious places to start, but as not all students participate in Frosh or live in residence, broader-reaching online resources are necessary to ensure that all students are included—during first year and after. Ultimately, it comes down to students to engage with the information available, and act accordingly. Apart from educating students on cannabis, initiatives like the workshops in May also serve to deflate stigma around its use. Legalization will further validate marijuana as an acceptable drug, but undoing entrenched judgmental attitudes is an ongoing process. A campus with a healthier, more comprehensive discussion around cannabis culture starts with McGill ensuring that relevant information— and safety measures—are available to students. For their part, students ought to do what they always should: Educate themselves and respect each other. Students aren’t merely part of the school’s weed culture; they are its entirety—and it is up to them to create a physically and emotionally safe space around it.
Journalism still matters accessible public good and taking it for granted. Yet, although readers can get their information through social media, there is no replacement for the investigation and impartiality of journalism. While mainstream conversation about journalism today tends to focus on its decline as a profitable business, with the prevalence of people griping about news in the U.S., it might seem like journalism is seeing a resurgence. Indeed, in what is affectionately referred to as the “Trump bump,” millennials increasingly started paying for media subscriptions after the 2016 election to content from organizations like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Thanks to his uncanny ability to be thoroughly offensive, people from a diverse range of backgrounds have a newfound stake in politics. Trump’s stance on travel bans and the environment show that administrative decisions have very real impacts. Yet, as appealing as it is to mock Trump or an opposing political party, all readers must recognize what those willing to pay for subscriptions already do: That journalism functions most importantly as a reliable, common information source. It is this function that needs to be valued—and paid for— by news consumers.
It is difficult to separate our opinions on the news itself and our opinions of the events it reports. This is especially true given the popularity of receiving news through social media or celebrities like YouTube star Philip DeFranco and host of Last Week Tonight John Oliver. However, one should not substitute journalists for media personalities. Distributing and putting a favourable spin on informative content is not the same thing as producing it. The latter is what journalists do, and it is no small task. Impactful stories don’t happen overnight—they require sifting through hours of research or formal meetings, and maintaining reputations for professionalism. It’s this enormous investigative legwork that subscribing readers pay for. Although citizen journalism—the process by which the public shares news information—is an important process of making stories viral, it is not a sufficient replacement for the value of thorough, fact-oriented journalistic investigation. Trump’s polarizing allegations of fake news obscures this fundamental value of news reporting. Upon googling the difference between Fox News and CNN, I see readers from both sides disavowing the other as sensationalist nonsense. In general, as tempting as it is
to seek out like-minded individuals, it is necessary for readers to recognize the value of a range of news sources, despite differences, in order for journalism to fulfill its role within society. A free press fulfills a role analogous to the judiciary, as it empowers the people through a mandate of truth. To forsake this would be dangerous, as, logically, society needs to have some basis of common understanding to be able to function. As a news editor, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of providing an impartial source of information. Whether it is a debate over student federations, politics, or religion, people need to realize any public conversation requires a common information base, and journalism is the ideal third-party platform to provide that. If people are not adequately informed, arguments over General Assemblies and Task Force forums will only become increasingly polarized. We need to be able to differentiate between the very real—yet manageable—technological growth pains, the political leveraging against journalism, and our own personal biases. Journalism is about recognizing truth and common experiences, and that is a value as old as society. As such, it is a value worth preserving.
Gabriel Rincon Columnist Students are now in the homestretch of the Winter semester, but there is one obstacle: Election season. Over the next two weeks, McGill will be treated to another round of prospective Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) executives for the 2018-2019 school year. Student politicians have often tried to earn cheap political points by making the largely nebulous promise of increasing trust and transparency.
Keating Reid Contributor
As the tired idiom goes, “freedom ain’t free.” The cost of freedom is total responsibility. It’s a cost many social sciences and humanities (SSH) students are familiar with, finding that their degree’s broad applicability is, in fact, paradoxically limiting. A February 2018 report by The Conference Board of Canada found that SSH students have a tougher time transitioning to the job market than STEM or business students. But McGill’s Arts students shouldn’t necessarily rush to transfer faculties. The report also found that in the long run, counter to the “barista” stereotype, SSH students do just fine: The report states that “SSH graduates have job satisfaction levels similar to graduates from other disciplines” and even “greater long-term income stability” than graduates with STEM and business degrees. Their trouble transitioning to employment isn’t because their degrees aren’t valuable—it’s
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Financial transparency is severely lacking at SSMU Indeed, current president Muna Tojiboeva was elected in Winter 2017 after making exactly those promises. Yet, there have not been any significant improvements on either of those fronts, as evidenced by a motion of nonconfidence against Tojiboeva at the Fall General Assembly in October 2017. If anything, SSMU seems just as dysfunctional as last year––the early resignation of Vice-President (VP) Operations Anuradha Mallik and the murky suspension of VP Finance Arisha Khan from the Board of Directors are only highlights. However, the most appalling SSMU scandal this semester was the controversial $4,000 loan to AVEQ, because it revealed the serious gaps in SSMU’s financial administration. Rather than making more vague promises about communication and student trust, the future VP Finance should propose clear, actionable steps to improve SSMU’s financial transparency and reporting of expenses.
After using a SSMU credit card to fund and host an AVEQ conference, SSMU executives Connor Spencer and Isabelle Oke defended their actions by claiming they were standard practice. The incident revealed how unclear the rules on discretionary spending are—even VP Finance Esteban Herpin seemed unclear on the rules. The fact that AVEQ will pay SSMU back doesn’t change the troubling lack of clarity on executives’ access to company credit cards. Certainly, there should be rules governing when executives are allowed to rack up thousands in credit card charges. However, since these rules are not public, students have to assume that either they don’t exist, or take Spencer and Oke’s word that they followed them. If SSMU is serious about promoting transparency, it needs to release all internal regulations on discretionary spending so that the electorate can assess whether they are stringent enough, and hold executives accountable to
them in the future. The confusion as to whether Spencer and Oke committed any wrongdoing is unacceptable, and could have been avoided with clear standards outlining how the SSMU executive handles discretionary spending. SSMU does not report the executive’s departmental budgets, or indeed the budget itself, in sufficient detail. The 2018 budget is a spreadsheet with no explanation for any of the values— it only shows net movements in cash, after the money is spent, instead of budgeted gross values. To top it off, there is no reporting as to how each department spends its allocated funds. For example, the 2018 budget projects the VP External department to be over $40,000 in deficit. The specific benefits that students receive for that money is unknown, since the budget does not elaborate on individual departmental budgets. Students should demand that the incoming executive team publish more detailed budgets and expenditure reports that
account for every dime earned and spent by each SSMU portfolio. Specifically, departmental budgets should be public and expenditures should be in gross rather than net values. While audited financial reports require this type of accounting, the budget doesn’t need to be in net values, nor should it be. After all, the AVEQ conference debacle could be only one of various ambiguous discretionary expenses. Ultimately, in order to hold representatives accountable, students need to know how SSMU is spending their money. Right now, there is no clarity on how executives’ budget their money, and how much various portfolios spend on what. When the incoming VP Finance promises to prioritize transparency, students should demand real measurable objectives. If Jun Wang––the only remaining candidate for VP Finance––wants to add real transparency to his platform, he should take these policy proposals into consideration.
Condemned to be free: Social sciences and humanities graduates on the job market
because they don’t know what they know, much less how to sell it. The data show that the earlier they learn this skill, the better. At the same time, employers can take easy steps to bridge the gap between their needs and students’ degrees. Arts students learn plenty of marketable skills, including written and verbal communication, critical thinking, problem solving, research—the list goes on. Moreover, these skills are applicable to a much wider range of careers than those learned in STEM degrees, which is exactly what gives SSH students trouble— they have too many options. The report explains that these students often don’t realize how many indemand skills they have. Essay writing doesn’t just build literacy skills: Developing a unique argument takes creativity. Fortunately, resume-writing is a teachable skill. Services like McGill’s Career and Planning Services (CaPS) and the Carrefour Jeunesse-Emploi in Montreal provide free and effective career counselling. SSH students are great at communicating in English—less so in corporate doublespeak. Here, employers can help, by clarifying exactly what skills they want from candidates. The language of the job market is awash with murky euphemisms: Postings seek “results-oriented, dynamic self-starters,” sometimes with “leadership skills”—a paradoxically ubiquitous requirement. Corporate jargon
is more than just tiresome—it’s alienating. A March 2017 report by the British charity Business in the Community found that gaudy sentences in job postings— such as “query responses in adherence to SLAs and archiving conducted in accordance to file protocols”—turn off young people from applying, since applicants don’t believe that they have the right skills for the job. This is unfortunate, especially given that the linguistic monstruosity above roughly translates to “reply to emails and put them in files.” As job vacancies rise, employers need candidates as much students need jobs; companies can’t afford to lose out on qualified employees who underestimate their own skills. It is in both parties’ best interests to advertise opportunities in an accessible way. A lack of self-marketing savvy might explain why, according to the report, faculty estimate their students’ marketable skills more favourably than the students themselves. Instructors have learned over their long careers of teaching that course content is only part of what their students gain from their degrees. Business, engineering, and computer science degrees prepare students for specific career paths. Sure, there’s plenty of variety within these fields, but they all teach students explicitly defined “hard” skills, from C++ to making autoregressive forecasting models. This is perhaps most true of
engineering, a licensed profession: Engineers Canada ensures complete and nationally standard curricula across the country. While this hyper-concentrated education can narrow graduates’ options, it can also be an advantage, as students are streamed into specific professions with broadly similar responsibilities across employers. No computer-science major has ever wondered what to plug into a job search engine—not so for McGill’s lone Italian
Studies major, I’d imagine. (Seriously, there’s only one. Go you!) The Conference Board’s report should come as a relief to SSH students concerned about their future employability: They do have marketable skills, even if they don’t realize it. In any case, SSH students can be confident in their degrees’ value; as the Conference Board put it, “[in] today’s increasingly complex world, we need the skills of SSH graduates more than ever.”
Social science and humanities students boast many employable skills—they just might not know it yet. (Daria Kiseleva / The McGillTribune)
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
STUDENT LIVING 7
Moving on in the Mile End How gentrification is changing Montreal’s music scene Janine Xu Staff Writer Continued from page 1. Not only is this a loss for local artists and regular show attendees, but the closure of these venues is leading to a loss of cultural tradition in Montreal’s vibrant music scene. In a letter to culture site Urbania, the Divan Orange team cited difficult relationships with neighbours, rent and tax hikes, and a lack of support from public institutions as major factors contributing to the establishment’s closure. More specifically, in 2014, Divan Orange was fined roughly $18,000 due to excessive noise complaints made by a neighbour living above the bar, who reportedly phoned the police 85 times in two months. In response to the fine, members of the Divan Orange cooperative launched two crowdfunding campaigns to get the financial support to pay off the charges, but ultimately, this wasn’t enough to allow the bar to stay afloat. Julien Senez-Gagnon, a spokesperson for the Divan Orange team, explained to the The McGill Tribune that the bar had been struggling to survive financially for over a year, and that the decision to permanently shut down was due to a lack of resources. “We mentioned [online] that our financial situation is untenable,” Senez-Gagnon said. “The [noise complaints] hurt us very much.” Senez-Gagnon noted that Divan Orange’s monetary problems were indicative of a larger issue that other small venues in Quebec are facing. For example,
Le Cercle, a restaurant and music venue in Quebec City has also closed its doors due to financial issues. “[This] is a systemic problem,” Senez-Gagnon said. “It’s not unique to Divan Orange. You see small alternative music venues closing down. We want to [raise awareness] that [other venues like Divan Orange] need support, [whether it be] finance or subsidizing [from the government]. Montreal holds such a great identity towards its culture.” Similarly, Le Cagibi is being pushed out of their Mile End location due to financial strain from rent hikes. The Montreal Gazette’s T’cha Dunlevy revealed that the building hosting the café changed owners in 2017, and the new owners increased the rent from $3,417 to $7,500 per month. “That’s a huge increase,” Pamela Hart, president of Le Cagibi cooperative, said to Dunlevy. “We proposed $5,000 [for the whole space], but [the new owners] said that was absolutely not enough.” The building is co-owned by Jeremy Kornbluth and Brandon Shiller, who also own the JeanTalon Market building where a Starbucks was controversially opened in 2015, prompting complaints of gentrification, which led to its closure in 2017. Shiller is the son of Stephen Shiller of prominent real estate firm Shiller Lavy Realties, which has now bought seven commercial properties along the iconic StViateur Street in the Mile End. According to Dunlevy, Shiller Lavy Realties has been instrumental in replacing other small businesses along the street, including small locally-owned Pâtisserie &
Boulangerie Clarke, which closed in 2015 and was replaced with a chain sushi restaurant. In the end, Hart explained that the decision to relocate Le Cagibi was not an easy one. The café has been a staple in the Mile End for years, and it has maintained the history of its space (which was previously Café Esperanza, and before that, a pharmacy), by using vintage wood drawers and shelves from its previous occupants. Having lived in the Mile End on and off for over eight years herself, Hart is especially sad to see the cultural environment of the neighbourhood change. “I’ve seen [the] Mile End change a lot,” Hart said. “What we’re looking at right now is basically a small group of men
The Mile End’s music scene is struggling to survive amid rent hikes. (alexihobbs.com)
[coming in] and curating our whole neighbourhood. To me, [that] doesn’t feel right.” With its new location, Le Cagibi is making big changes. Not only does its management plan to expand its menu options, they are also currently transitioning to a worker’s cooperative structure, in which a team of 10 founding members and five board members work collectively to run the new location rather than having one person in charge of everything. Hart explained that a co-op would allow for employees to have more agency and flexibility in making decisions. “[The co-op] is much more secure for us in the long run,” Hart explained. “When you have a group of people who are all equally committed, when everyone’s voice is worth the same, it allows you a lot of diversity [and] freedom for individual workers.” Le Cagibi is also hosting a crowdfunding campaign, seeking $35,000 to cover 40 per cent of moving costs. Unfortunately, the new space has only one room, leaving live music performances out of the question for now. Emmett McCleary, U3 Arts, has performed at both Le Divan Orange and Le Cagibi. As a musician, he has felt the importance of keeping small music venues alive firsthand. “Both [Divan Orange and Le Cagibi] are great,” McCleary said. “Le Cagibi in particular. When I was getting started in Montreal, it was good because it was incredibly cheap to book […] at $75 per night. [As a musician just starting out], you can [easily] book shows and play live. It makes the whole
(mundialmontreal.com) bureaucracy [of booking shows] more accessible, and you don’t have to […] know someone who knows someone.” McCleary acknowledged that while McGill students may feel helpless as they watch their favourite cafés and music venues close, it is important to continue to go see live shows to support both the acts and the venues. “Continue to seek out live music in non-traditional places, and support local music wherever it exists,” McCleary suggested. Both Senez-Gagnon and Hart confirmed that public support for the venues has been overwhelming, with people expressing emotional and financial support through social media and crowdfunding. “People had [Divan Orange] really close to heart,” SenezGagnon said. “People really loved it, musicians as well as the general public. Even when [we] were going through hard times, the public has always been there for us. It’s actually what kept us going for so long, to see that support.” Hart also believes that raising awareness on social media is an important way to support venues such as Le Cagibi if donating isn’t an option. “The community has [really been] there for us,” Hart said. “[Students can support us by] sharing our events and coming to our shows. We want to see all our favourite students [at our new location, whether] it be studying with their laptops or [enjoying] a cup of coffee. We want everyone to feel welcome and invited.” Divan Orange’s last show is set for March 18, and Le Cagibi plans on relocating in April.
Demystifying the mystic
Jade PrĂŠvost-Manuel Science and Technology Editor Illustration by Taja de Silva
hen I was six years old, I had a knights-and-princesses-themed birthday party. I remember seeing my mom dressed up as a fortune teller to ensure that my best friend and I would have an authentic and magical medieval experience. As a kid, I wholeheartedly believed that there was some kind of magical future-predicting force out there. I was mesmerized by the crystal ball, a decorative mantelpiece repurposed for the party, and I asked her to tell me if I would survive the workload required of the second grade. As a 21-year-old university student I now understand that my mother was not, in fact, a psychic with unique insight into my scholastic performance, but my sixth birthday party stirred a long-held interest in the supernatural. Diviners and the practice of divination originated in ancient times across the globe, when supernatural practitioners often held roles in government to advise the highest-ranking authorities. From the augurs of ancient Rome to the oracles and seers of ancient Greece, psychics served as conduits through which the gods communicated with humankind. Les Propheties, a collection of prophecies divined by French seer Michel de Nostredame and published in 1555, was interpreted to have predicted major world events like the French Revolution, the Second World War’s deployment of the atomic bomb, and even the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The popular press and his supporters have hailed de Nostredame—celebrated under his more popular title, Nostradamus—as the original, authentic psychic. While his predictions were characteristically vague and, in some cases, intentionally mistranslated, his posthumus fame still reigns almost 500 years later, a testament to a fervent and scandalous interest in the supernatural. However, even if they were once considered pivotal to the functioning of ancient societies, modern-day psychics with supposed extra-sensory perception (ESP)—better known as a sixth sense or supernormal awareness—are shrouded in doubt and claims of fraudulence from the skeptical contemporary public. Cases of psychic fraud have even made headlines in Canada and the United States: Last month, a Maryland county court convicted psychic Gina Marie Marks of felony theft with damages amounting to $340,000. Five former customers accused her of stealing from them to cure them of “curses” they purportedly carried. Last August, Soriba Camara, a Montreal con artist, convinced a man to give him $80,000 under the pretense of increasing his client’s odds at winning the lottery. Camara was posing as a psychic and advertised his ability to solve customers’ financial or romantic problems in a local newspaper. Stories of fraud aren’t the only things that make us wary of having our fortune told: The scientific community routinely publishes studies that reinforce public skepticism by putting psychic claims to the test. Even déjà vu, a mystical feeling familiar to most people—and probably the most eerie occurrence that even skeptics experience—has recently been debunked. Déjà vu is a memory phenomenon that occurs when an individual is presented with a scenario that is similar to an original memory that they are unable to recall. On March 1, researchers at Colorado State University created virtual reality scenarios using the The Sims 2 (2004) video game to explain the phenomenon of déjà-vu. In the game, the team at Colorado State University were able to prompt déjà-vu by showing people scenes that differed slightly but were spatially similar to ones they had seen before. Despite a wealth of publications vehemently disproving psychic abilities, it is difficult to completely extinguish doubt. A burning curiosity encourages us to wonder: “What if it could still be real?” The popular image of TV-special psychics charging exorbitant prices for an unmethodical, fake service has shaped public perceptions of psychics. Sam Mathews, U3 Chemical Engineering and psychic denier, expressed his disinterest in consulting a psychic. “I would not visit a psychic because it’s [a pseudoscience],” Mathews said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Way above the level of psychics, I like to think I have more of a free will [than they say]. They also give very general [advice] like you will have success three years from now, and you fill in the gaps [yourself.]” The run-of-the-mill, homogenous, and generic advice offered in many supernatural readings is one reason why people choose not to consult psychics. Alanna Miller, U3 Pharmacology, agreed that visiting a psychic or a mystic goes against her inclination that actions shape the future. “I don’t think I would go,” Miller said. “Mostly because as a science student, I’m founded much more in science than in [mysticism.…] I’d like to believe I have some control over what happens to me and that there’s some sort of spontaneity [and] that my actions dictate what happens to me, not a set of cards.” Yet, curiosity is a popular motivation for many. Maël Mauchand, a first-year master’s student in Neuroscience, admitted that he would visit a psychic out of general interest. “I would go, mostly out of curiosity,” Mauchand said. “I think as soon as you get told something about your future, it will influence your future.” Montreal, a vibrant and diverse city that has space for just about anything and anyone, is a hub of ESP activity. The city hosts numerous psychics, offering a variety of services ranging from tarot readings, to fortune telling, to palm readings, and reaching out to spirits beyond the grave. The community includes practitioners who work part-time and full-time as psychics. Dominique Arganese is a medium and psychic, meaning that she both mediates communication between spirits and humans, and identifies hidden information such as another person’s thoughts using ESP. She offers services in clairvoyance, spirituality, and esotericism—a rather vague body of knowledge that describes mystical and spiritual points of view as part of a movement toward a world-view that negates the disenchantment of natural phenomena through frameworks like science and embraces enchantment as an alternative. Previously featured on MTL Blog for her work as both a psychic and model, Arganese has a strong social media presence with close to 6,000 Instagram followers, uncharacteristic of most mediums.
Arganese works as a psychic part-time, and focuses the remainder of her days on her esoteric—meaning symbolic or mystical in this instance—online ring business. Arganese’s specialty is reading tarot cards. Although she didn’t acknowledge her abilities until later in her life when she foresaw the death of the father of one of her friends, Arganese says that clairvoyance is a gift that runs in her family. “It’s a family thing from my Italian side,” Arganese said in an interview with the Tribune. “My grandfather was a healer and his brother is still a psychic in Rome. At first I didn’t really know about that, so [my sister and I] were doing the cards when we were young, and everything we were saying was [coming true].” Arganese’s client base is mostly female aged from 17 and 65. While she works primarily through referrals from her established customers, Arganese also attracts clients through her online boutique. She delivers thorough readings in person, which differ from the stereotypical call-in programs that people tune into on long highway drives. “I was asked to do my own TV programme,” Arganese said. “[But] when I saw the show, I was like, ‘that’s just not how it works.’ You can’t talk to 10 people on the phone within 20 minutes. It’s impossible. And you can’t say stuff that’s really going to help [people].” In the psychic business, the divide between financially-motivated psychics and those driven by a sense of vocation makes it difficult for customers to experience a standard quality of service across the board. Finding a good psychic, according to Arganese, is akin to pulling a needle out of a haystack. “Psychics are misunderstood because I think that at least half of the psychics just want to make money, and the other half actually want to help people,” Arganese said. “I don’t think that I’m like other psychics. I don’t read the future, I don’t sell dreams, [and] I don’t say that things will happen if I don’t feel them. It’s more philosophy, using my cards, [it’s] a spiritual awakening in people, this is what I do. With the tarot cards I can add visions of the future, but you can change your future at any time you want.” While tarot cards are common practice across the board, a number of psychics specialize in alternative healing techniques for their clients. Offering her services in both Montreal and LaSalle, Nora Love and Light is a specialist in Reiki—a Japanese healing technique that reduces stress and promotes relaxation. Although she has worked as a psychic, certified Reiki master, and energy healing therapist for the past nine years, it had never been a part of Nora’s plan. “This is not what I did all my life,” Nora said. “It’s been nine years, doing [this]. But was that ever my dream? No. Never in my life I would have thought that I would be reading tarot or [working as a] psychic.” Nora worked in market research prior to opening up her psychic business. She received what she described as a calling to practice Reiki and to help people. “I had a big job but then life changed […] and then in 2009 I lost everything. Everything,” Nora said. “I started becoming very religious [and] was guided to do Reiki. It was like a calling.” Nora’s goal as a psychic is to guide her clients toward their true potential through tarot readings, personalized coaching, and workshops, in an attempt to help them manifest their ideal life. “My clients are mostly people [who] are in the state of awakening,” Nora said. “Mostly the clients [who] come just want messages on what to do next, where to go next. I don’t tell people they’re going to get married. I teach people that they create their life through the law of attraction. As I’m doing the guidance, I see where they’re blocked […] and I can help people manifest what they want." Nora sees her role as one of providing guidance rather than predicting fortunes. She prescribes her clients exercises and activities to foster their spiritual growth even after their appointments. “My catchphrase is, ‘let me help you help yourself,’” Nora said. “I can help people guide [themselves,] but it’s up to them to take [my guidance] or not. The message is more advice. I trust that the clients that need to see me will come and see me. They listen to their intuition and they come here. I don’t want regular clients, because they come back for the same answers. ” Ultimately, there is no reconciling the wealth of disparate opinions and knowledge regarding ESP. In the age of mass media and misinformation, psychic believers can find articles that claim to prove the paranormal. While many psychics hold a negative reputation for their work as scammers and con artists, lumping all practitioners into a single category is unfair and ignorant. Though I may not be a believer in mysticism or paranormality, I am not a complete skeptic either. I can appreciate that there are outliers who really are trying to help and guide their clients, similar to life- and wellness-coaches. Psychic work joins homeopathy under the larger umbrella of the pseudosciences. And while pseudosciences may not be considered true sciences or grounded in reason, people still feel that they work and that they can derive peace of mind from the comfort they provide. So maybe visiting a psychic won’t tell you whether you’ll have a spring or a winter wedding, or if you’re going to nail that job interview, or even if you’re going to pass the second grade—but you might leave the services of someone like Arganese or Nora with a greater sense of self-confidence and an idea of what step to take next in the face of hardship. And whether or not you’re planning on visiting a psychic in Montreal, the consensus among students and psychics alike, is that the individual ultimately manifests what’s in their own cards.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
10 STUDENT LIVING
Caffè Farina offers a taste of Italy in Saint-Henri
Owner Vincent Pesce discusses his new business with fervent enthusiasm
Jade Prévost-Manuel Science and Technology Editor
Caffè Farina serves up an authentic Italian café experience. (Zoe Yalden/ The McGill Tribune) Tucked away in the quiet southwestern borough of Saint-Henri lies Caffè Farina, a new Italian espresso bar and eatery that opened in November 2017. Serving bold coffees and caffès—Italian espresso drinks—alongside traditional sandwich recipes straight from nonna’s kitchen, Caffè Farina offers a hip twist on the authentic Italian
experience. After only four months on the block, Caffè Farina has been phenomenally successful, according to owner Vincent Pesce. “Feb. 16 [was] our three-month anniversary,” Pesce said. “We were supposed to open up before that, but there was so much construction on the street [that] we didn’t want [it] to interfere with [business] so we waited, and two days after we opened, the street was opened [back up] and ready to go.” The brain-child of Pesce and his long-time friends, Farina’s menu is comprised of unique, family-inherited Italian recipes that the owners grew up eating. “We’re four different families,” Pesce said. “We all came together and [this was] pretty much one idea we always wanted to do together.” Luring in third-wave café experts with its sophisticated blue suede couches, marble decor, and iconic neon “Ciao Bella” tube sign, Caffè Farina’s atmosphere is so charming you would swear you were in Italy. Its menu offers four traditional Italian sandwiches, packed with hearty Italian-style meats on rustic, non-fat ciabatta buns for $10 each. The bread Farina uses for its sandwiches is sourced from Boulangerie San Pietro, an Italian bakery that has served Little Italy for over 35 years. But, according to Pesce, the search for the perfect bun to cradle their meaty sandwiches was no small feat. Pesce and his partner scoured Montreal in search of the ideal bread. “One day my partner [said] ‘you have to go try all the bread in the city,’” Pesce explained. “So for every bakery we really knew, we tried all the bread. I’m still full from that day. And I gotta say, [our final choice] was fantastic. We toast it in the oven a bit and it comes out nice and hot—it doesn’t break your palette and it’s perfect with the meat.” Aiming to cater to the masses, Pesce considers it important for Caffè Farina to offer recipes and prices that anybody can love. “My customer base is huge,” Pesce said. “From the millenials, to
the lawyers, to doctors [and] students [...] We’ve kept our prices very low for that reason. The sandwiches here are $10, the coffee is super cheap as well.” In the summer, the café plans to open up its doors by installing an outdoor terrace that will cater to summer street-goers and windowshoppers, offering an aperitivo-style menu during happy hour. “In Italy, it’s very known to have a 5 à 8, so [during happy hour] we’re going to [sell] small focaccias, pizzas, and [drinks] for half the price, or two for one,” Pesce said. Pesce is planning to expand Farina’s main menu as well. “We make [seven] fantastic things, and they’re good for now,” Pesce said. “In the future, we’ll have a pasta of the week, meatballs, maybe a folded pizza, like in Naples, [we’re adding things] slowly, slowly, you know?”
Montreal’s four least horrible wines under 10 dollars The best drinks to get you buzzed on a budget Gabe Helfant Staff Photographer
ince the great Four Loko ban of
2017, many of McGill’s students, staff, and administrators have found themselves dazed and confused, hopelessly searching for an affordable alcoholic substitute to take the edge off. For some, the end of the sugary and colourful malt beverage era is an opportunity to delve into the world of sophisticated drinks—and what’s
Astica Sauvignon Blanc:
Let the price speak for itself— this fruity white wine belongs in a bag and should only be consumed during Frosh week. Although Astica is more traveled than your friends on exchange, claiming to come from Argentina, it seems more at home in an Upper Residence dorm room. At first smell, you can tell this is a cheap wine— simultaneously very watered down and sickeningly sweet. But with its 13 per cent alcohol content and low price, this bottle has a high bang-to-buck ratio, making it the best choice if you’re looking to drink wine in large quantities. Just be careful, it’s probably not the type of wine you would want to bring home to your parents.
more sophisticated than a glass of vino? To Domaine La Hitaire Les Tours: help students explore the wonders of wine while sticking to a budget, The McGill Tribune has compiled a list of Montreal’s four best wines available at the Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ) for under $10.
$8.60 Vil Regia:
Like many at McGill, La Hitaire sells itself through its pride in its French roots. Although the bottle presents itself more seriously then Astica, La Hitaire could still be confused for spiked fruit punch based on its citrusy taste. If you are looking to avoid the bitter taste of alcohol, La Hitaire is your best choice for a white wine, coming in at an unimpressive 10.5 per cent alcohol content. Buyer beware though: Sugary wines like these almost always guarantee a pounding headache the next morning.
$8.95 At the sight and taste of Vila Regia, one could say that Portugal has truly outdone itself. This red wine perfectly combines subtle fruity flavours with a bottle aesthetic that wouldn’t offend a real adult. Vila Regia represents the best of both worlds—it’s perfect to drink at a cheap pizza party or to use in sangria at a more formal dinner gathering.
Firriato Nari Nero d’Avola / Petit Verdot:
This red wine tastes like what we can only imagine adulthood feels like—dry, stressful, and painfully serious. With a whopping 13.5 per cent alcohol content, the beverage smells like the McGill medical clinic, and does not taste much better. This wine’s redeeming factor is the bottle’s fancy design, which makes it somewhat acceptable to present in sophisticated environments.
Tuesday, March 13 , 2018
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 11
Pop Rhetoric: Awarding hypocrisy
The Oscars still hate women Katia Innes Contributor There was a moving moment during the 90th Academy Awards where Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, and Annabella Sciorra stood onstage. Their connection? All have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. In a year of watershed moments for transparency and accountability, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have ascended, guided by the voices of survivors like Judd and Hayek, allowing for discourse on abuses of power and privilege in Hollywood. As these four women stood onstage at the Dolby Theater, a short montage highlighted the meaningful advances in representation and equity in the film industry. Yet, when it came down to the moments that matter— to the envelopes and the hardware—the Academy failed to stand for the beliefs it claimed to exemplify. Kobe Bryant, accused of rape in 2003, and Gary Oldman, a known Mel Gibson defender who was accused of beating his ex-wife Donya Fiorentino in front of their two children in 2001, both walked away with statues. The Academy showed that it remains as hypocritical and self-congratulating as ever.
It’s no secret that the Academy awards abusers. From Casey Affleck, to Roman Polanski, to Woody Allen, if you’re a straight white man, and you make an acclaimed movie, the Academy is willing to forgive you for any number of past crimes. After the Year Of Weinstein, and the turning of the tides against abusive men in power, there was hope that the cultural zeitgeist could seriously affect the awards circuit. To a certain extent, it did—James Franco was left off of the Oscar ballot after sexual misconduct allegations from five women emerged, and Weinstein was expelled from the Academy. Still, Bryant and Oldman were voted Best Animated Short Film and Best Actor in a Leading Role, respectively. What makes these men immune to the fates that have befallen Weinstein and Franco? Why are they, alongside Affleck and Allen, who continue to work in Hollywood after decades of abuse allegations by his former stepdaughter Dylan Farrow, exempt for the same exclusion and public shaming? The Academy can pat its own back for kicking out Weinstein, but silently ignore the fact that he sat on the Academy for years, continuing to abuse women with no consequence. The small section devoted
Gary Oldman was one of the many award winners that the Academy refused to hold accountable. (oscars.go.com) to the #MeToo movement—a fraction of the screen time devoted to the War Movie Appreciation montage, or the more general Movie Appreciation montage—sought to cover up the fact that at the end of the day, the Academy cares about its members’ behaviour only to the extent that it affects ticket sales. The Academy selectively chooses who is culpable, co-opting activism to appease the general public. In the opening monologue, Jimmy Kimmel quipped “But what happened with
Harvey, what’s happening all over, was long overdue. We can’t let bad behavior slide anymore. The world is watching us. We need to set an example.” What example is that? That feminism is only useful to increase revenue and save the face of an outdated and out of touch organization? During the most important night in Hollywood, the Academy had the chance to provide a platform for the underrepresented. Instead, two known abusers walked off the stage carrying statuettes.
‘Red Colored Elegy’ is the perfect introduction to gekiga manga
Drawn & Quarterly’s reprint is a gateway to another world Dylan Adamson Arts & Entertainment Editor Ichiro, the male lead of Red Colored Elegy, repeats a sort of young-male-tortured-artist catch phrase throughout the manga: “I want to draw comics.” Fortunately for readers, Seiichi Hayashi, Red’s author and illustrator, has a more realized sense of vocation. His cornerstone of the gekiga manga–the adult manga, or alternative manga, subgenre– Red, plots the doomed romance of live-in couple Ichiro and Sachiko in 1960s Tokyo. Originally serialized in 1970 in the legendary alternative manga magazine Garo, Hayashi’s work is here reprinted in English by Montreal comic book publisher Drawn & Quarterly, complete with an afterword from comics scholar Ryan Holmberg. With this 2018 paperback translation, following a hardcover first issue in 2008, Hayashi joins the ranks of gekiga legends Yoshihiro Tatsumi (A Drifting Life (2009)) and Shigero Mizuki (Kitaro (1967-69)) in Drawn & Quarterly’s ever-expanding catalogue of Japanese mangakas. Red’s influence at the peak of gekiga manga is pretty well unparalleled. It inspired at least one song in 1971, and it’s difficult to imagine Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (1987) not taking at least a few cues from Hayashi’s melancholic, dreamlike romantic flare. On the North American side of things, David Mazzucchelli’s 2009 masterwork, Asterios Polyp, in turn seems inconceivable without Hayashi’s trailblazing work. Critics have frequently drawn comparisons to the French and Japanese New Wave cinemas, and for good reason. Ichiro and Sachiko are two financially insecure but romantically engrossed 20-somethings, casting aside the morals of their parents’ generation in favour of days spent atop futons, complaining about writer’s block and laughing hysterically about nothing at all. Though the story itself is sexy in ways that an urban romance starring two young people smoking indoors can scarcely avoid, Red’s
emotional heft derives from its stunning visual innovations. Ichiro and Sachiko don’t say too much, but to reduce their relationship to language would be to neglect the expressive weight of Hayashi’s images. Akin to the French New Wave’s emblematic use of jump cuts and episodic sequencing, Hayashi’s panel-topanel relationships seem to function on the principles of free-association, often requiring the reader to reorient themself before advancing in the narrative. Intense arguments and tender reconciliations alike are interrupted by abrupt, full-page spreads of waves or light fixtures. If the anti-establishment gravitas of a dōsei (Japanese for an unmarried live-in relationships) in 1960s Japan has been somewhat lost to the years, Hayashi’s freewheeling and poetic approach to storytelling maintains every ounce of its subversive potential. While many of Hayashi’s more naturalistic, larger panels have a grandeur that is sure to spring to mind the 19th century ukiyo-e prints of High-School-Art-Boy-FacebookCover-Photos, Red’s wealth of contemporary reference points places it in a larger context of modernizing Japanese visual culture. Ichiro and Sachiko are both cartoonists struggling to earn fair wages in the increasingly mechanized Japanese animation business. Hayashi himself was a young animator with Tōei Animation, the self-proclaimed Disney of Asia, where he worked under the same factory-like conditions as fellow animator Hayao Miyazaki. While Ichiro feels artistically unfulfilled in his animating work, Sachiko barely earns a living as a celluloid animator, several rungs down the ladder, where she is repeatedly harassed by her male superiors. At one point, as the two lovers rush together, Hayashi suddenly illustrates Sachiko and Ichiro as Sleeping Beauty and the Prince, dually reflecting the fantastical element of their romance and the fixation on Disney in the early days of “Japanimation.” Unlike much of gekiga manga—Tatsumi’s work specifically, being preoccupied with pollution and urban degradation—Red finds beauty on the streets of Tokyo.
‘Red Colored Elegy’’ introduces readers to the wide world of gekiga manga. (Drawn & Quarterly)
While Ichiro and Sachiko’s life in Tokyo is represented as fragile, Hayashi’s wandering gaze never fails to depict a Tokyo brimming with life and possibility. Even in the face of the couple’s slow and painful heartbreak, Red’s visuals maintain their kinetic energy. Red breezes through its 235 pages, but it’s the manga’s re-readability that has brought its influence overseas almost 40 years after its original publishing.that has brought its influence overseas almost 40 years after its original publishing.
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‘Annihilation’ feels like a video game but hits like Kubrick Alex Garland’s ‘Ex Machina’ follow-up drags its feet to an awe-inspiring climax Caleb McKend Contributor
Unlike for other escapist genres, it’s been a long time since “taking itself seriously” could be considered enough to validate a science fiction film. While the 2000s saw Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) transforming traditionally “low genres” into Oscar-winning milestones, filmmakers have used futuristic technology to tell complex, human stories for as long as there have been sci-fi films. With this in mind, it’s only natural to expect more from modern sci-fi than technical competence. Writer/director Alex Garland has proven himself capable of straddling the line between hard science and more humanist fiction before with AI thriller Ex Machina (2015). With his latest release, Annihilation, he revisits similar themes of technology and identity, albeit with mixed results. While the film features staggering visual and philosophical set pieces, it falters by approaching characters with the same didactic coldness as its science. Annihilation follows Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist and former soldier whose husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) has recently returned from a top secret military mission under mysterious circumstances.
As time passes, Lena is drawn in by the same shadowy government organization that employed her husband. His mission is revealed to concern “the Shimmer,” an enigmatic, expanding region apparently unhinged from earth’s physical rules, from which Kane is the only person to have ever returned. Lena embarks to the Shimmer herself, along with a team of fellow scientist-soldiers played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny. In addition to his film resume, Alex Garland has worked on several video games in the past, an experience that shows in Annihilation’s pacing and dialogue. After entering the Shimmer, events play out much like a game: The characters venture into a new area, discover clues and items related to the overarching mystery, and then encounter a new monster several times over. The repetitive pacing has the same potential as a wellmade adventure game to produce a more fleshed out world, but it is held back by a reliance on dialogue that sounds more like a gameplay tutorial than real conversation. Garland’s screenplay promises a gorgeous, expansive world, but, instead of actually showing this universe, relies on exposition and description. This is perhaps most
‘Annihilation’ is a return to the sci-fi glory of decades past. (variety.com)
glaring in a scene that opens with Lena describing the Shimmer’s beauty with a foreboding, wideeyed fascination, only for the camera to be dragged back down to two characters reciting their minimal, clichéd, tragic backstories. Despite Garland’s crutch of Halo-level dialogue, the film’s final half-hour does finally grasp the scientific and philosophical potential it promises. The world’s science becomes clear enough to stand on its own and the exposition finally melts away, allowing questions to become visual and
more complex. The recent buzz surrounding Annihilation has made overt comparisons to heady films like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Solaris (1972), but it is only Annihilation’s climax that truly warrants those comparisons. It’s a shame that viewers must first plod through so much underdeveloped dialogue, but it’s hard to imagine anyone walking out of these operatic final scenes feeling anything less than astonishment. Annihilation benefits from taking its headier philosophical concepts seriously, something that
‘American Utopia’ insists that everything will be ok
boils over beautifully in its climax. Unfortunately, it chooses to also treat its characters like scientific theories that need broad definitions. For a film with such an awe-inspiring outer world, it is hard to understand why characters’ interiorities need to be stripped down to groan-inducing lines like “all work and no play,” or, shudder, “you don’t hate me, you hate yourself.” The theoretical side of Garland’s film makes it ultimately rewarding; but, in a cruel irony, this same approach applied to its narrative holds it back from being a truly successful work.
“The cockroach might eat Mona Lisa, the Pope don’t mean shit to a dog!”
David Byrne offers an optimistic perspective in his first solo work in 14 years. (stereogum.com)
american utopia david byrne
American Utopia might be David Byrne’s first solo record in 14 years, but the former Talking Heads frontman has been hard at work on an eclectic mix of side projects since the 2004 release of his last album, Grown Backwards. Perhaps the most intriguing of his ventures is the launch of his website Reasons to be Cheerful, a collection of local news stories from around the world. The website endeavours to highlight small-scale good in an effort to counteract the overwhelming doom and gloom of the rest of the daily news. American Utopia depicts the world in a similar way: Big and scary in a macro sense, but beautiful up close. Though officially a solo album, American Utopia boasts an impressive, although unfortunately exclusively male, list of 25 collaborators. Among them is longtime friend and fellow synth enthusiast, Brian Eno, whose signature full-bodied, warm sound is especially evident on `the tracks “Gasoline and Dirty Sheets” and “Everybody’s Coming to My House.” Byrne stays true to the frantic—yet deliberate—style that he perfected in the late ‘70s, peppering his tracks with lazy percussion and urgent guitar riffs. In the moody, saxophoneheavy lead single, “Everybody’s Coming to My House,” Byrne revisits his fondness for
brass instruments, first exhibited on his 2012 collaboration with St. Vincent. Byrne’s lyrics also remain as outrageously profound as ever. “The cockroach might eat Mona Lisa / The pope don’t mean shit to a dog!” he croons on “Every Day is a Miracle.” American Utopia is not without moments of darkness. In “I Dance Like This,” Byrne’s disdain for capitalism is apparent as he sings, “And the truth don’t mean nothin’ / If you ain’t got the cash.” The album is a thoughtful reaction to the pessimism and anxiety of our time, but it’s also a reminder to be cheerful about the simple and the small. Byrne says it best in the chorus of “Dog’s Mind” when he sings, “We are dogs in our own paradise / In a theme park of our own/ Doggy dancers doing doody / Doggy dreaming all day long.”
- Sophie Brzozowski (Staff Writer)
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SpaceX blasts through expectations Reusable rocket boosters offer an economically efficient flight Calvin Trottier-Chi News Editor February kicked off with a blast as private aerospace company SpaceX sent its most technologically advanced rocket, the Falcon Heavy, out into space on Feb. 6. This was a momentous occasion for anyone with dreams beyond our atmosphere, as the Falcon Heavy can reportedly carry a record 64 tonnes into orbit at one-third of the price of the next best vehicle. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has applied his business expertise to his most recent venture by minimizing costs, maximizing payloads, and publicizing bold marketing stunts. The development of the Falcon Heavy is an example of entrepreneurs using the incrementalism of space travel to their advantage. SpaceX’s earlier, smaller Falcon 9 model—which has completed 47 successful launches—might not be as exciting, but its flights were crucial for testing reusable boosters. “The concept of flying back and re-using the first stage had been around for a long, long time,” Andrew Higgins, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said
in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “What SpaceX did that was a real game changer was to attempt it on commercial launches that were already paid for so they could learn and improve on subsequent flights, until they nailed the landing every time.” The Falcon 9 operates by leaving enough fuel in its first stage to safely fly back to a launch platform. Business Insider estimates that about half the costs of each $62 million Falcon 9 flight can be recovered by having its components land in reusable conditions. Forbes is skeptical of how much money this technique actually saves, but supplants that with the prediction that reusable technology will be integral in Musk’s plans to colonize Mars. “Previously, rockets had been designed from scratch to meet the specification of a mission,” Anthony Ubah, avionics lead of the McGill Rocket Team, wrote in a message to the Tribune. “What SpaceX has done is different. Rather than develop a new rocket from scratch to meet performance specifications required in heavy lift and/or higher Earth orbits, they’ve taken a flight proven rocket design, modified it, and strapped three of them together.” Combining three Falcon
9 rockets saves the expenses incurred by having to create a new, larger spacecraft. This leaves the Falcon Heavy with a staggering 27 engines. Launches cost $90 million, with an estimated $40 million in savings per launch, according to Business Insider, thanks to reusable boosters. “Just like we combine inexpensive, massproduced computers to make supercomputers, SpaceX is taking the same approach with rocket engines,” Higgins said. “The Russians tried something like this with the N1, a giant rocket with 30 engines that was key to their moon program in the 1960s. The N1 blew up every time it was launched, however, and aerospace engineers became skeptical it was possible to combine that many engines together and control them, but SpaceX has shown it can be done.” The larger payloads made possible by the 27 engines will have sizeable effects on astronomical activity. Falcon Heavy’s is most powerful rocket currently in use, until NASA’s Space Launch System program is operational with a 70-tonne payload around December 2019. “The Falcon Heavy is
The Falcon 9 increased firepower by strapping three efficient rockets together. (purch.com) comparable in payload to NASA’s Space Launch System, which has been under development to launch astronauts on deep space missions but is running far behind schedule,” Higgins said. “For the time being, Falcon Heavy will be used to launch big communication satellites into orbit 40,000 kilometres above Earth, which is the market where the big money is for now, and not astronauts.” Despite these successes, SpaceX is not content to rest on its laurels and is already planning its next model: The Big Falcon Rocket will be designed to carry up to 150 tonnes. One of SpaceX’s primary rivals, United
Launch Alliance, has unveiled plans to develop its own reusable rocket, claiming their model will reduce costs from $350 to less than $100 million per launch. Meanwhile, NASA’s outmatched Space Launch System may also find new wings, with some suggesting that it be repurposed for military applications. Above all, the publicity surrounding this launch will revitalize the space industry. The sheer gall of launching Musk’s Tesla Roadster into space on Feb. 8, equipped with a dummy dubbed “Starman” and Ziggy Stardust on loop, is ideally representative of the extraterrestrial adventures we can look forward to.
Understanding the schizophrenia risk associated with cannabis
Fear of developing schizophrenia due to adult marijuana consumption is overblown Karl Neumann Contributor Cannabis, or what the 1937 film Reefer Madness coined the “burning weed with its roots in hell,” is slated to become federally legal in Canada by the end of 2018. The potential risks and benefits of its use are still being disentangled from antiquated disinformation, individual studies, and hearsay. While cannabis research is still in its infancy, the difference in perception of risk between the medical community and the public is substantial. Concerns regarding the increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia due to cannabis usage in healthy adults steers potential medical and recreational users away from the drug, but these worries are unjustified. In an op-ed for The Independent, Ian Hamilton, a Lecturer in Mental Health in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, wrote that individuals who do not have a family history of schizophrenia and whose brains are fully developed—people aged 18 or more— have little to fear. A 2017 study in Psychol Med showed that the true potential risk concerning cannabis use and schizophrenia is limited to those who start young or those consume frequently in large doses. Furthermore, the effects of early and
The risks and benefits of cannabis consumption are still convoluted and often misunderstood. (haslitt.net) consistent cannabis usage are similar to that of other substances such as alcohol, and warrant similar regulation. One particular statistic that’s commonly used popular media to steer youth away from cannabis use states that young cannabisusers are about twice as likely to develop schizophrenia than those who abstain from use. However, this is somewhat misleading. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the baseline rate of developing schizophrenia is a little less than one in 100 in the general population. A study in World Psychiatry found that it’s about two in 100 in those who use cannabis regularly before
they’re 18. Additionally, when potential confounds such as IQ, childhood behaviour, cigarette smoking, and others were included in the analyses, the risk was only 50 per cent higher than the controls, or 1.5 cases per 100 people. If there was a substantial causal effect of cannabis usage on schizophrenia, one would expect countries with higher youth cannabis usage to have higher rates of schizophrenia. But Dr. David Bloom, medical director of the psychotic disorders program at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and assistant professor of psychiatry at McGill, told The McGill Tribune that this
does not appear to be the case. “In Canada, where there is the some of the highest youth cannabis usage in the world […] the statistics are similar to other developed nations,” Bloom said. Bloom clarified which groups should worry about the potential for developing schizophrenia from cannabis use. “In general, the only group at real risk are those who have a penchant for early and heavy use,” Bloom said. “That’s what the epidemiology says. The big harm is [inhaling smoke]. If anything, use a vaporizer or edibles to avoid lung damage.” Medical professionals such as psychiatrists, general physicians, and pain specialists have a particular interest in understanding this drug in both its medical and non-medical contexts. Like all drugs, the costs and benefits must be weighed against one another, and no drug can be used without consequences. In the near future, when cannabis will be widely available around the corner at a dispensary, there won’t be a schizophrenia epidemic. Cannabis’ reputation as the “burning weed with its roots in hell,” is fiction. “If we think about [cannabis] in terms of legalization, we have to think about it like alcohol.” Bloom said. “[With legalization], we have greater control of dosage and control of age of consumption,”
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Tuesday, March 13 , 2018
Uncoiling the accuracy of DNA ancestry tests Not all genome testing services are created equal Emma Gillies Staff Writer DNA ancestry tests from services like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree, and MyHeritage are becoming increasingly popular methods of delving into our genetic histories, often at steep prices. While their methods used to retrace an individual’s ancestry may vary, each compares the genomes of their customers using DNA databases. Ancestry tests owe their existence, and success, to genome sequencing that allows scientists to discover the order of the
nucleotides that make up the DNA of an organism. “The human genome can be thought of as a long molecule which forms a chain of three billion letters, which we label A, C, G, and T,” Simon Gravel, assistant professor in McGill’s Department of Human Genetics, said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Most of those are the same across […] every human on the planet. There are a few differences here and there, about one in a thousand, roughly, between any two genomes.” The human genome was first sequenced successfully in 2003.
DNA ancestry tests compare the genomes of their customers using DNA databases. (fortune.com)
Since then, hundreds of thousands of human genomes have been sequenced. This practice has in turn allowed scientists to identify places in the genome that are variable across individuals. Larger companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA use genotyping chips—a technology that measures the genome of one person at around one million positions along a chain of nucleotides. Genotyping chips allow one person’s DNA to be compared to another’s. Other companies, such as the San Francisco-based startup Genos, sequence the person’s entire genome instead. Unfortunately, the industry overall does not always operate in the interest of providing customers with their genetic history. Companies often sell genetic information to pharmaceutical companies for research. Good companies will disclose all potential uses, so it’s important for customers to look at the contractual clauses of the service they’re using. “It’s a race between [AncestryDNA] and [23andMe] about who’s going to get the most customers,” Gravel said. “And the more customers you have, the better your results are for ancestry
and things like that, but also the more you can make money on the back end.” Accuracy is assured by using simulations of genomes that are developed and then reproduced after accounting for possible issues in the system. A good way of testing for fraudulent companies— which often return random results and don’t ask for their clients’ permission to sell their genetic data—is by comparing the results that they give for twins, who should receive identical results. If the company is committing fraud, the twins’ results will not be the same. Generally speaking, genetic testing companies attempt to guess where an individual’s ancestors might have lived hundreds of years ago; before diasporas and diffusion. According to Gravel, this works well when tracing ancestry at the continent-level. Matching an individual’s DNA with that of people who come from or live in Europe, for example, leads to the reasonable conclusion that the individual has European ancestors. At the country-level, however, there is some inaccuracy—after all, people move around in Europe quite a bit. “You have to go back 600 years and know exactly where all
the ancestors of this person lived,” Gravel said. “And usually for the vast, vast majority of people, we don’t have this information.” Accuracy also varies based on the individual’s background. For example, commercial tests don’t have a large record of genomes from First Nations individuals, so the accuracy in retracing the ethnicity of customers with First Nations history is not very high. The same is true for medical research. “Because genetic researchers have tended to focus more on people of European ancestry, […] if you try to predict a disease from genetic data, you’re going to do a better job in Europeans than in other populations,” Gravel said. Ultimately, companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA have similar accuracy overall, but differ slightly in their results because they use different DNA databases. And while you may be 35 per cent South American, a genetic test won’t be able to tell you that your greatgreat-grandmother’s side of the family hailed from a tiny town in Uruguay. However, with the help of personal family records, genome sequencing might help you reach similar conclusions or confirm your suspicions.
Bioenergy plantations: A step toward meeting our climate change goals Grasses and trees are burned to generate energy, with emissions stored underground
Zoe Doran Contributor On April 22, 2016, nations from across the globe signed the Paris Agreement, an international climate accord with the aim of managing countries’ greenhouse gas emissions and reducing average global temperatures increases to 2℃ above pre-industrial levels. Since 2015, it has become increasingly apparent that further reducing emissions will not be enough to achieve the goals that were set in Paris. Instead, many scientists are turning to negative emission technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which combines multiple existing technologies to extract previously emitted CO2. BECCS operates by cultivating fastgrowing grasses and trees grown on largescale bioenergy plantations that are burned to generate energy. But, instead of emitting carbon into the atmosphere after a burn, the carbon produced from biotic material is pumped and stored underground. Uniquely, BECCS releases zero greenhouse gases, as the grasses and trees absorb atmospheric carbon through carbon sequestration. This technology returns atmospheric carbon to the geological reserves where it originated, eliminating emissions while generating energy. To economic opportunists, BECCS is a promising solution for combating climate change because it doesn’t require widespread lifestyle changes. But, like many new
technologies, BECCS is not without its flaws. Fossils fuels are much more energetically dense than biotic material—a large mass must therefore be cultivated to generate a significant amount of energy. Joann Whalen, a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences described the energy-density barrier of BECCs technology. “The energy gain from a bioenergy plantation is highly dependent on the amount of energy required to move the plant biomass from its area of origin (e.g., a field) to the conversion facility,” Whalen wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “[Biomass is] not a dense fuel source compared to fossil fuels.” The technical feasibility of BECCS is further complicated because storing carbon in geological reserves is an energy-intensive process which requires expensive technologies. Grant Clark, an professor in the Department of Bioresource Engineering, believes that BECCS will probably be used in tandem with other energy technologies in the future. “[BECCS] could be one aspect of the energy jigsaw puzzle,” Clark wrote in an email to the Tribune. “If it becomes popular, it will probably be an interim solution that will be phased out of the energy portfolio as other, more robust and efficient technologies become less expensive”. Unless bioenergy plantations are strictly confined to marginal lands, increasing the area of land that is used for bioenergy plantations reduces the land available for agriculture
Bioenergy plantations rely on existing technologies to extract previously emitted CO2. (sciencemag.org) and livestock. Don Smith, a professor in the Department of Plant Science, and expert researcher in root-colonizing bacteria, has developed a small protein that could make food stocks on marginal lands more resilient. “[This protein] regulates aspects of the plant’s genome [...with the] capacity to help plants grow under more challenging environmental conditions, [like those affected by] climate change,” Smith wrote in an email to the Tribune. “[...This compound] could build more climate change resilient agriculture, which in turn makes BECCS a more realistic prospect as agriculture on marginal lands becomes more reliable.”
Looking to the future, Whalen doesn’t see BECCS as the end-all, be-all solution to climate change mitigation, but rather, as a component of a larger comprehensive plan. “We cannot stop the rising carbon dioxide levels with bioenergy plantations alone, but they’re a part of the solution, along with other renewable energy solutions that are practical at this time—geothermal, wind, solar and hydro power—and those that may come to be practical in the future, [such as algae],” Whalen wrote. For the time being, BECCS is a preliminary technology that is a step in the right direction toward weaning humans off of their dependence on fossil fuels.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
2018 MARCH MADNESS: PREDICTIONS AND PLAYERS TO WATCH Stephen Gill / Sports Editor
WEST VIRGINIA WV
TEXAS TECH TENNESSEE
NEW MEXICO STATE MSU
MICHIGAN STATE MSU
NC NORTH CAROLINA
Michael Porter Jr., University of Missouri After three miserable seasons with a combined 27-67 record, new Head Coach Cuonzo Martin seemed to be turning the Missouri Tigers program around by nabbing a star-studded recruiting class—headlined by a projected top-five NBA Draft pick in Michael Porter Jr. However, excitement quickly came to a stop after Porter suffered a supposedly season-ending back injury in just his second minute of college play at the start of the 2017-18 season. Fortunately, the rest of the Tigers held down the fort as Porter’s recovery progressed more quickly than expected. Now, Porter’s return will provide an injection of elite talent to a suddenly-scary Mizzou squad—which includes his brother Jontay, an emerging star in his own right.
Devonte’ Graham, University of Kansas Prior to this season, Devonte’ Graham was a typical Kansas Jayhawks guard, providing the perennial power with consistently strong, but under-theradar, point guard play. After a season as a role player and two as a supporting starter, Graham has risen to become the central figure on the first-seeded Jayhawks, leading the team in points, assists, and steals per game and earning first-team All-American honours in the process. Beyond the box score, Graham might be the single most important player on any team of Kansas’s elite level. The senior provides the Jayhawks with the team’s only reliable playmaking, which explains why he ranks fifth in the NCAA in minutes played.
Marcus Foster, Creighton University A lot can change in a few years. Marcus Foster entered the Kansas State Wildcats basketball program to little fanfare, but instantly took college basketball by storm with 25 points in his second career game. Foster followed up with consistently strong performances and ended his season as one of the country’s premier freshmen. Fast forward a year as Foster lost focus and gained weight, leading to his dismissal from the K-State basketball program. But after sitting out for a year with the Creighton Bluejays, he flipped the script once again. Foster played a vital role for the Jays in 2016-17, and has again stepped up his game this season to be one of college basketball’s most prolific scorers. With little first-round draft buzz to his name, Foster will look to turn the tables one last time before his senior season concludes— starting with a matchup against none other than his former Wildcats.
Grayson Allen, Duke University Despite competing in a sport monopolized by prolific one-anddone talents, Grayson Allen has kept a firm grip on the college basketball spotlight for four years. His long run of infamy began innocently enough with an explosive dunk during a 2015 Blue Devils Final Four victory. He held fans’ attention in the time since, consistently providing solid contributions and borderline-dirty plays. Combining Allen’s questionable antics with Duke’s traditionally villainous brand, college basketball has found its bad boy. Alongside Duke’s latest set of blue-chippers, Allen will look to his undeniable talents—in creating wins and controversy—to troll fans one final time.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
U Sports basketball national championship recap Both McGill squads place fourth in respective tournaments
Selwynne Hawkins / Sports Editor
After capturing the program’s first Bronze Baby—the national championship trophy—last season, the Martlets showed up from March 8-11 in Regina to defend their title. In their opening game at the U Sports national championships, McGill faced off against the McMaster University Marauders. The Martlets ended the first half down five points, but regained their footing in the second, spurred on by 10 points from fifth-year guard Frédérique Potvin. With a comfortable 55-39 final score, the Martlets booked themselves a spot in the semifinals against the first-seed Carleton Ravens. McGill dominated the start of their matchup with Carleton, maintaining a steady lead through the first quarter. In the second period, the Ravens showed signs of life, but the Martlets were able to contain the outburst and rode into the halftime break ahead by six. After an even third quarter, McGill sat atop a 42-35 lead, but the final period proved disastrous for the Martlets: The Ravens effectively kept them off the scoreboard, with McGill’s only two points coming from a pair of free throws. Carleton tied the game with 86 seconds remaining, then snatched up their first—and only—lead of the game with two seconds left to play. Unable to retaliate in the dying seconds, the Martlets were eliminated from title contention. In the bronze medal game, the Martlets faced the second-seed University of Regina Cougars. McGill managed a three-point lead after the first period but were shaken by Regina’s 23-point second period. The Martlets lost further ground in the third, and entered the final period of play down 43-55. Facing a 10-point deficit with 83 seconds remaining, McGill rallied behind third-year wing Stéphanie Guinois-Côté, who sank two three-pointers to help her team land within two points of Regina. However, despite their best comeback efforts, the Martlets were unable to beat the clock, and the Cougars took the bronze medal game 66-63.
Entering the U Sports Final 8 tournament as the third seed, the McGill Redmen put up a decisive 8857 win in their first-round matchup against the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. The Redmen jumped ahead with an early 6-0 lead, but the Varsity Reds clawed their way back in, and the first quarter ended at a 16-16 deadlock. The second quarter proved pivotal for the McGill squad, as they put 29 points on the board—including a combined 22 from veterans Alex Paquin, Dele Ogundokun, and Sebastian Beckett. The Redmen maintained steady control for the rest of the game, earning themselves a spot in the semifinal. In the second round, McGill tipped off against the University of Calgary Dinos. After suffering a 20-point defeat against Calgary in an October 2017 pre-season tournament, the Redmen were again unable to break down the strong Dinos defence in their nationals semi-final meeting. Calgary shot 39 per cent from the field and held the McGill hoopsters to four three-pointers on 32 attempts, handing the Redmen a 43-65 loss. The bronze medal match saw McGill face off against the Carleton Ravens—a Canadian basketball dynasty coming off their seventh consecutive national title. A monster 25-point second period put the Redmen ahead by 10, but the Ravens responded with 24 points in the third. A back-and-forth final quarter ended with the Ravens on top, 76-71. With their fourth-place finish, the 2017-18 Redmen tied the 2016-17 and 1976-77 squads for the program’s best-ever finishes.
International hockey has a shootout problem
Hockey’s favourite tie-breaker takes away from the actual game Owen Gibbs Contributor International hockey tournaments are in full swing around this time of year. The World Junior Championships take place around New Year’s, the World Championships are in the spring, and every four years, we
get to see hockey at the Winter Olympics. Needless to say, it’s a good season to be a hockey fan. While these tournaments are exciting, there has been one highly unpopular event that has increased in frequency to the point of critical mass in recent years: The shootout. Shootouts suffer from one fundamental problem: They don’t provide a satisfactory
finish to hockey games. A disappointing ending takes away from the excitement of the game’s preceding action. The shootout takes what is fundamentally a team sport—built on teamwork and collective skill—and turns it into an individual show. Teamwork is imperative in hockey, so to resort to the individuality and fluke outcomes that shootouts
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encourage seems inconceivable. Yet, they remain prevalent. It’s time for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to consider scrapping and replacing shootouts. At the 2017 World Junior Championships in January, strong Canadian and American teams faced off in the gold medal game in an exciting match that ended in a tie, forcing overtime. After a scoreless-but-exciting overtime period, the game went to a shootout, essentially a skills contest that didn’t necessarily represent the competition as a whole. At the World Championships five months later, history repeated itself when the gold medal game between the North American rivals ended in another shootout. Most recently, the latest iteration of the infamous Canada-U.S. rivalry in women’s hockey ended in a shootout at the gold medal game of the PyeongChang Olympic Games. Something needs to be done about this long standing issue, but few have agreed on what. The most logical conclusion is to get rid of shootouts outright; however, this decision can create problems in and of itself, such as unnecessary strain on athletes and the fact that few tiebreakers besides overtime would be more exciting or team-oriented than shootouts. New overtime rules, however, have the potential to decrease the amount of shootouts. For ideas, the IIHF can look to the NHL. In 2015-2016, after poor reception to the shootout format, the NHL switched from its
previous four-on-four overtime format to three-on-three. With fewer players on the ice, it became much easier for teams to create scoring chances, and the goals started to flow. The number of games resulting in shootouts fell from 170 to 107 in just one season. Fifty-six per cent of games that required extra time in 2014-15 ended in a shootout, while just 38 per cent did a year later. Furthermore, in the NHL, these three-on-three periods last no more than five minutes. The IIHF could introduce three-onthree overtime, and even double that length—from five minutes to 10. Shoutouts wouldn’t become extinct, but with a limited number of games—as is the case in a tournament—the likelihood of a gold medal coming down to a shootout would decrease considerably. Otherwise, the IIHF could turn to the NHL playoff overtime system, where the game continues in 20-minute periods until someone scores. However, since tournament games typically take place in quick succession in the same building, this option is only viable for the gold medal game. The frequency of shootouts in international competitions has gotten out of hand, and the IIHF needs to address the problem. The World Championship qualifiers take place in April, and the tournament itself follows in May. The stream of international tournaments is practically infinite, so the IIHF has plenty of opportunities to make changes. The puck is in the IIHF’s zone— and it’s their turn to play it.
Published on Mar 13, 2018