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Principal Heather Munroe-Blum invites McGill Students,
1. President 2. VP Internal 3. VP External 4. VP Communications 5. VP Academic 6. VP Finance
Faculty and Staff to an open forum to discuss issues of relevance to the
Elections McGill is also accepting nominations for Yes / No committees for the next set of referendum questions. Nomination kits are available online at www.electionsmcgill.ca or from the Elections McGill office, Shatner 405.
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Teach English Overseas
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It’s our university, let’s talk about it.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
McGill professors respond to Obama victory
All photos Shu Jiang / The McGill Daily
Political science professor with research interests in U.S. budgeting process and American politics
Sociology professor with reseach interests in globalisation, contentious politics, and social movements in the U.S.
Cultural studies professor with research interests in U.S. and post-studio-era American film
The McGill Daily: Do you think America has swung to the left? Harold Waller: I think yes...[but] the very fact that people are asking this question is troubling because it means [Obama] didn’t really make his positions clear during the campaign.
MD: Why do you think there is so much international support for Barack Obama? Marcos Ancelovici: My guess is that it is because he seems favourable to multi-lateral processes and institutions – The UN, the WTO, NATO – but playing on a more equal level with other countries in the world as opposed to Bush who acted with more unilateral policy, like the war in Iraq.
MD: There have been a lot of criticisms of Obama having style over substance. What is the importance of style? Derek Nystrom: I think you can’t underestimate the importance of affective connection that people feel with candidates. A lot of the excitement about Barack Obama is precisely a response to that kind of affective appeal. The intensity of excitement and the sort of interest that his campaign generated comes a large part from his style – his ability to connect with people through things like charisma and personality.
MD: How do you think the U.S. electorate has changed since 2000 and 2004? HW: I don’t think the electorate has changed very much.... I think what we saw yesterday is that people are tired of George Bush.... Starting in 1968, the Republicans have won most of the elections...so this is a relatively rare Democratic victory. MD: Do you think there is a new coalition of voters and politicians behind Obama? HW: It’s not clear.... Obama is an unusual, maybe once-ina-lifetime candidate.... The question is whether this represents a new coalition for the Democrats or a new coalition for Obama. MD: Do you think Obama will be able to follow his promises of unifying Washington? HW: Obama will probably look for some bipartisan support for key measures in his programs, even though he does have a working majority in both houses of Congress. MD: What can Obama do during his first year with a suffering economy and a huge budget deficit? HW: I think that both candidates were remiss [about this].... If you remember the third debate, they kept going on and on about the same policies...as if nothing had happened. MD: Do you think Obama is willing and able to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq? HW: Even though he clearly would not have gone into Iraq, that isn’t the choice he is going to make in January 2009. The choice is: given the situation in Iraq on January 20, what does President Obama do?
MD: Do you think a lot of this had to do with anti-Bush sentiments? MA: To a great extent I would say yes, and they are probably going to be disappointed because I don’t think that Obama will have different foreign policy. MD: What symbolic role can an Obama presidency play on the world stage? MA: Probably the most obvious one is having an AfricanAmerican president. First of all, it kind of renews this belief that America is the land of opportunity. His father is from Kenya; he was born in the U.S., but he’s a second generation immigrant that managed to become President. MD: Where does Obama stand on the globalization debate? MA: Now that Democrats have a majority in Congress, they’re going to be pressured to implement certain protectionist policies – all the more during a recession. The issue is really what kind of compromises he will be able to negotiate, and also whether he will be able to sell the idea that the best way for American workers to be better off is not by closing down borders or stopping immigration or stopping free trade, but by investing in education, investing in training for workers, and having a public health system. MD: Does Obama have a dramatically different view on globalization and trade issues than Bush? MA: My guess is that he has a different perspective. He is not questioning the role of the state in the economy. For Republicans, “state intervention” is still a bad word; it’s like “spreading the wealth.” Obama doesn’t have this problem; he is open to the role of the state in the economy. He is not willing to rely only on the state, but he is open.
MD: How do you think voters were able to get over divisive race and “Culture War” issues? DN: In this case, it was things like the economic crisis that caused a lot of people to think cultural issues aren’t as important. I was reading one blog mentioning that someone had put up a sign that said, “Rednecks for Obama,” and underneath it they wrote, “We’ve had enough, too.” It’s this idea that there are white people that are saying, “I normally don’t trust black people, but in this moment I don’t care.” MD: What role did New Media have in Obama’s campaign? Did it change the dynamic? DN: One of the ways that people got to feel such a connection to Barack Obama was that we got emails from him every three days, and we knew it wasn’t really him, but it also made you feel like you were part of the campaign. MD: Do you think Obama’s victory has created a “Post-Racial” political landscape? DN: It’s certainly not going to make racism in America go away, but I think there is something to be said for a white kid growing up in the United States right now and you see that a black man is President. It means that you will be thinking about black people differently than when I was growing up. The idea that this person is going to be running the country is going to have a quite profound – almost subterranean – effect on the way that the next generations of white people imagine black citizens, but it’s a long, slow process. – all interviews compiled by Sam Neylon
Pro-Obama students pack into Gerts for election coverage James Albaugh The McGill Daily
ver 300 people packed into Gert’s bar Tuesday night to watch the U.S. Presidential Election, as many students struggled to find seats in view of the televisions, and the bar ran out of pitchers and glasses. Emilia Lenke, President of McGill Democrats Abroad and U2 Political Science and Marketing, was pleased with the turnout.
“I think the turnout is great, but we expected that,” Lenke said. As CNN called states for Obama, the crowd clapped, and became even more enthusiastic when crucial states like Ohio, Pensylvania, and Virginia were called. Most did not cheer when McCain won a state, and a number booed. Some of the onlookers were skeptical of the media’s projections, noting that CNN often called states based on exit polls and prior electoral history – well before actual votes had been counted. “Every time they put up a projec-
tion, I get excited. Then I have to step back and realize it’s not real,” said Simone Lindenbaum. Many students also sang “God Bless the USA” and “America, Fuck Yeah” during lulls in the broadcast. Peter Fusco, U2 Music, draped himself in an American flag. “I didn’t vote...half-apathy, halfpolitical statement. While I like McCain, Palin turned me off. While I like Obama, I’m worried about the Democrats having unchecked power,” he said, referring to the predictions that the Democrats would control
both houses of Congress. “Everyone in here is a liberal conformist who is voting for Obama despite not knowing anything about the issues.” Although the audience was overwhelmingly pro-Obama – many toting Obama/Biden campaign stickers handed out by McGill Democrats Abroad – at least one person entered carrying a “Vote for McCain” sign. They were promptly booed. In addition to passing out stickers, McGill Democrats Abroad helped over 200 Americans obtain absentee ballots, and called registered voters
in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Lenke. McGill Students for Obama helped 40 students travel to New Hampshire during the campaign. At 11 p.m., when CNN projected Obama’s victory, the crowd raised their glasses, clasped hands, and huged and kissed each other. For two minutes the bar was filled with people chanting Obama’s slogans. “I just hope he doesn’t let us down. Everyone’s holding him up to this impossible standard – like Jesus,” said Jordan Rowell, U2 International Development Studies.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
Senate steps up to the plate Senate votes to suspend administration’s travel directive and pushes for consultation, postdocs question lack of information on stipend tax Shannon Kiely The McGill Daily
n a meeting yesterday, Senate suspended the implementation of travel guidelines that would restrict curricular and co-curricular student travel until the decision-making body approves them. Forty-two of the approximately 60 Senate members present at the Wednesday meeting supported the motion, which was proposed by Faculty of Medicine Senator Bernard Robaire. “[The directive] is not good enough. It deserves careful consideration and will be enhanced in substance and buy-in from students through consultation,” said Robaire. The directive, drafted by Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) Morton Mendelson, would deny undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellows credit for research projects and internships undertaken in countries classified as dangerous by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Carl-Eric Bouchard, a student Senator in the Faculty of Medicine, spoke in favor of passing the motion for further consultation. “No one is against student safety, but it’s important for the policy that we discuss
it so it is made in a proper way,” Bouchard said. SSMU VP University Affairs Nadya Wilkinson, who also spoke in favour of the motion, hoped Senate will strike a working group to negotiate the guidelines before they are brought to Senate for approval. “This directive cannot stand as it is – we have no idea how this policy really works or what the parameters are. It was not developed according to procedures of the University,” Wilkinson said. Wilkinson, who has been working on a Senate committee dedicated to reconnecting the body with its mandate, was pleased that the motion passed. “That was definitely a reinvigorated Senate reclaiming its role as an active member in the creation of academic policy at McGill. Senate is sometimes seen as a rubber stamp; this was Senate standing up and saying ‘We need to be involved,’” she said. In the University statues, Senate is mandated to “exercise general control and supervision over the academic activities of the University.”
ver 40 post-doctoral fellows lined up along the back row of the Senate meeting seeking answers as to why the University did not inform them that they could pay
$7,000 in taxes on their stipends for the first time this year. Emmanuel Blanchard, who will start his Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Faculty of Education in January, was upset that he decided to sign a contract with McGill without knowledge of the possibility of the tax. “Students who started this September weren’t aware that they should have saved money for this year. Would we still have agreed to [our contracts] given the tax?” he asked. “My advisor told me that if I got the [student] status, I wouldn’t be taxed. It makes a big difference. It’s one-fifth my income. It’s huge,” he said. Postdocs are considered trainees by the Canadian government, and as their stipends – $35,000 annually at McGill – aid in their training, they are not taxed. Beginning in 1992, postdocs who filled out the tax form T2202A could qualify as student status. But the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) sent a letter to the University of Laval and the University of Sherbrooke in early October reversing their previous policy that exempted postdocs from federal taxes. After an article was printed in Le Devoir about the letter, the McGill post-doctoral students’ office issued a memo about the possibility of
taxed stipends, but no official notice was issued by the McGill administration until November 4. In a letter, the University explained they would collaborate with other institutions across the province to oppose CRA’s position, and lobby for the continued recognition of postdocs’ student status. Postdoc Senator Dr. Harry Karmouty asked the Senate why the
Senate is sometimes seen as a rubber stamp; this was the Senate saying ‘we need to be involved’ – Nadya Wilkinson SSMU VP University Affairs University hadn’t informed students earlier of CRA’s letter. “[It’s] not clear why postdocs were not advised earlier. Had the article [in Le Devoir] not been published, we would have remained uninformed,” Karmouty said at the Senate meeting. He further argued that faced with few benefits and new taxes, McGill will have trouble attracting highquality postdocs. Dean of Graduate and PostDoctoral Studies Martin Kreiswirth, however, said the University was not at fault.
“The University community was not informed because the letter was not sent to McGill; it was sent to Laval and Sherbrooke. This is not a simple issue. We have to make sure we have all the information we want to take a conservative, comprehensive stand on this.” Kreiswirth explained McGill is participating in a working group under the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ), which formed in response to CRA’s letter and will offer advice to participating universities, leaving each institution to make its own decision about whether or not to issue the T2202A forms. According to the November 4 letter, the University remains undecided about whether or not to issue the forms for the 2008-2009 academic year and will only proceed once substantial legal and tax information is gathered on the issue in the coming weeks. Yet Blanchard said Kreiswirth’s response to postdoc monetary concerns at the meeting did little to subdue his stress about his budget for next year. “It’s a reasonable position for McGill, but it won’t solve any of our problems,” Blanchard said. “I can’t ask my advisor to pay me more because if I’m paid more, other students are paid less.”
First Nations’ rights violated by Canada’s refusal to ratify UN treaty Harper must recognize Indigenous rights as human rights, Manuel Charles Mostoller The McGill Daily
anada is in violation of international human rights agreements because it denies selfdetermination to indigenous peoples, said Arthur Manuel at a lecture for Culture Shock this Monday. Manuel is the current spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET), and both the former Chief of the Shuswap Nation and chairperson of the Interior Alliance of B.C. First Nations. Despite Canada’s reputation as a defender of international human rights, Manuel claimed that most Canadians are unaware that human rights violations are going on right in their own backyard. Manuel argued that Canada’s policies prevent First Nations’ right to self-determination, self-governance achieved by a community independent of the state where its territory is located. “Canada always gets really bad reports [from the UN]. They’ve told Canada to quit extinguishing indig-
enous land rights, to recognize Indian land rights,” he said. “[The UN] has come out with solid recommendations against Canada, but Canada hasn’t followed them. And a lot of Canadian people don’t understand that.” In 2006, Canada was one of only four countries – including the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand – which did not ratify the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. It was the first international document to establish that the rights of indigenous peoples – rights to land and self-determination – as human rights. Manuel said the Harper government is responsible for Canada’s decision, but reminded the audience the onus to act was on them. Manuel pointed to Canada’s colonial history as the reason for its disregard of indigenous rights, particularly the notion – recently revisited by McGill Chancellor Dick Pound’s comments made in french to La Presse in August — that native people were savages at the time of contact. This perception created an environment where land could be taken with-
out compensation, land rights were lost, and natural resource industries like logging and mining capitalized, according to Manuel, who claimed that Canada still does not have a functioning mechanism to resolve these long standing issues. “There is really no solution right
now for indigenous peoples to come up with any real meaningful change. We either negotiate and extinguish our land rights, or we wind up in court,” he said. Manuel did add, however, that signing the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights would be a step in
the right direction, because only with the support of Canadians will indigenous peoples be able to come closer to self-determination. “Canada has to recognize the human rights of indigenous people,” he said. “And we really need to work together.”
Charles Mostoller / The McGill Daily
Arthur Manuel spoke Monday in a lecture titled “Canada, a Pariah State?”
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
Google maps Montreal public transit Site offers schedules and route planning Nicholas Smith The McGill Daily
ontrealers will now be able to plan their public transit routes using Google Maps. The well-known search engine has integrated departure information for bus, metro, and train service for Montreal, Laval, and the South Shore, allowing users to access routes and times for the quickest public transportation between two points. Google Maps is a user-friendly system that many Internet users are familiar with, said Marianne Rouette, a spokesperson for the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). “The reactions were very positive,” said Rouette. “It’s a very wellknown tool.” The system, which can also be accessed on cell phones with an internet connection, will run in conjunction with the STM’s long-standing trip planning system, Tous Azimuts which has been around since 1997. The STM updates Tous Azimuts daily with route and time changes, such as those due to construction, parades, and protests. Google Maps’ schedules are only updated four times a year, when the STM changes its schedules seasonally. “Tous Azimuts has the operational times; Google Maps has the planned times,” said Rouette. Tous Azimuts will be equipped with many of the features of Google Maps when it is upgraded to its fourth version in January, according to Bruno Allard, a research associate at the Groupe Madituc of l’École Polytechnique de Montréal – a transportation planning research group that develops and maintains the trip planning software for transit systems both on and off the island. “Version four will integrate the data from all the systems,” Allard said, adding that data from intercity transportation, such as buses from Montreal to Quebec City, should be added sometime in 2009. In January, Tous Azimuts will add search tools for addresses, intersections, postal codes, and some named locations, upgrading the system far from its original incarnation on the then-new STM web site. “It was one of the first systems in the world at the time,” said Allard. Both trip planners are avaialble at stm.info/English/azimuts/a-index. htm, and a bilingual YouTube video demonstrating the use of transit on Google Maps is at maps.google.ca/ montreal.
Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily
Financial missteps squeeze SUS groups Executives blame backlogged tax payments, forgotten bills for funding shortage Will Vanderbilt The McGill Daily
0,000 in unpaid bills burdened the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) at the start of the semester, blocking the distribution of overdue payments to departmental groups. According to the current SUS VP Finance Jordan Doherty, last year’s VP Finance, Eva Kong, left the University unexpectedly in February without submitting a letter of resignation or returning several documents and personal cheques to the organization – which have since expired. “She just left [and] we had no idea where she was,” Doherty said. “Finances essentially broke down for the second semester.” In August 2007, Kong helped SUS file approximately five years of unpaid taxes with Revenue Quebec, which convinced the SUS executive that they were in good standing with the government, according to Spencer Ng, the 2007-2008 SUS President. “Our file was closed; we were 100 per cent certain,” Ng said. According to emails The Daily
received from sources who wished to remain anonymous, payments amounted to $29,050, including $5,463 in interest. But after Kong’s departure in February, the SUS executive received another letter from Revenue Quebec, requesting another large payment. Fearing the loss of its corporation status, which is a requirement of SUS’s Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the University to receive student funding, the executives chose to pay the amount Revenue Quebec requested, and seek explanation for the additional levy after any holds on SUS were cleared. “We had no idea how strictly [Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning)] Morton Mendleson was planning to enforce the terms of the MoA this year, and we knew there was a very legitimate chance that we’d be denied student funds,” Ng said. Kong’s absence resulted in a breakdown of day-to-day financial business within the SUS, as no executive stepped in, and equalization payments to student departments – determined by a formula that considers the number of students in a department and the revenue that the
councils make from fundraising – were never allocated. According to Ng, no equalization payments were made in Winter 2008 because only some student departments returned requests, and it would be unfair to apply the formula funding to a select few. Instead, Ng opted to give doubled equalization payments for Fall 2008 – covering both Winter 2008 and Fall 2008 – and ensured that the SUS account held a balance of close to $20,000 at the end of Winter term. But by Doherty’s account, this year’s SUS executive inherited numerous debts dating back to November 2007 totalling approximately $20,000, including unsettled payments to insurers, beer companies, and office supply firms. “When you factor in the extra $10,000 in equalization, we took a hit that was closer to $30,000,” Doherty said. “We found ourselves paying for the sins of other people.” Doherty explained that despite a profitable Frosh and this term’s student fees, which balanced the remainder of the expenses from last year, departmental organizations should not expect to receive the
promised Winter 2008 equalization payments. “When you’re $30,000 behind where you should be, something has to go; we can’t honour that commitment that [last year’s council] failed to follow up on,” Doherty said. However, SUS has funded Fall 2008 payments in full, following the guildelines set forth in its constitution. Nick Avdimiretz, VP of the Physiology Undergraduate League of Students (PULS), wrote in an email to The Daily that SUS must be held accountable for the missteps, and not its departmental organizations. “This is money that the Physiology students pay, expecting it to go straight to PULS. Instead, this money was lost with last year’s SUS,” Avdimiretz wrote. SUS President Neil Issar reiterated his organization’s position on the missing equalization payments. “We’re not in a financial position right now to recoup the losses of last year’s council. It has had no effect on this year,” Issar said. Issar encouraged departmental groups needing extra funding to apply to the SUS Special Projects Fund, which was expanded this year.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
The Daily interviews Amy Goodman Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host of the daily grassroots radio/TV news hour Democracy Now!, will speak at McGill Friday, three days after the U.S. election. Airing on more than 500 radio and TV stations across North America, Democracy Now! is an award-winning independent news program. The Daily caught up with Goodman to talk about independent media, covering war, and getting arrested. Marie Thomas / The McGill Daily
This could be you at Café Depot.
St. Laurent goes wireless Development group plugs the Main in
Kartiga Thiyagarajah News Writer
y the end of the year, Boulevard St. Laurent’s pedestrians, shoppers, residents, and vendors will be logging in for free to Canada’s largest wireless network. The network, which will be operational in late December, will span the Boulevard, affectionately known as the Main between Sherbrooke and Mont Royal. According to André Beauséjour, the Executive Director of Société de développement du boulevard SaintLaurent (SDBSL), the wireless network will be accessible in all retailers, office buildings, and apartments in the area. “We hope to ensure access to the network to everyone within the area,” said Beauséjour. “However, this all depends on each building’s individual signal reception.” The project is being financed by SDBSL, as part of its annual budget. “We see this new network as a worthwhile investment – a longterm advertising and communications campaign for the Boulevard,” said Beauséjour. To access the network, pedestrians must first pick up a free access card from any of the Main’s retailers. After logging in for the first time, customers can access the network at anytime without the use of the cards for up to six months. “While computers can easily pick up unlocked Internet signals on their own, the cards ensure the network’s security. When users log in, they give us their email addresses, which enables us to keep the network clean,” said Beauséjour. “At the end of six months, customers can simply obtain a new card from any store.”
Beauséjour is optimistic about the network’s installation, “While the technology is complicated and installation will only be finalized by the end of the year, the network promises to work smoothly without any drawbacks.” The accessible network promises many benefits to the Main’s customers. “A lady can shop for clothes while her husband reads the results of a sporting event online. A customer can look up information on a certain product while in an electronics store,” Beauséjour said, noting only a few examples. “Today, there are many applications of a wireless network. It is no longer just used for sitting in a café and using your laptop.” Many of the Main’s vendors are in favour of the network. “What’s good for the clients is good for us,” said George Ouellet, the Assistant Manager of Laika, a café, restaurant, and bar on St. Laurent and Duluth. “We no longer have to foot the bill to get wireless, which helps to cut down our costs.” The implementation of a wireless network, however, is unlikely to affect the fine dining experience offered at Montreal’s famous steakhouse Moishe’s. “People do not sit in my restaurant with laptops,” said Larry Lighter, the owner of Moishe’s. “The presence of this network will have no real effect on my business and as long as I am never charged for it, I have no concerns.” SDBSL undertook the wireless project to draw Montrealers to the Boulevard St. Laurent. “The network aims to attract more people to the Main’s establishments, whether it be people who live or work on the street or those just visiting,” Beauséjour commented. “All in all, more traffic on the street means more business.”
McGill Daily: What was is like as an independent journalist covering the election? Amy Goodman: It was just key to break the sound barrier, to expand the debate. It’s not just about the debate between the parties – which is so often not a debate at all – it’s about getting in the voices of people at every level. And you know, it was tough, because, for example, at the Republican Convention we were arrested for doing it, for getting on the streets. You know, democracy is a messy thing. And the only legitimate message was not just the one from the convention floor, it was from outside too, [with] the people who protested. In trying to document what they were saying, we were arrested. That’s not acceptable because journalism is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. We’re supposed to be the eyes and the ears, and when they beat us, when they arrest us, those eyes and ears are closed. It’s the job of independent media to expand the debate, before and after the election. Because now the critical decisions have to be made, and it can’t just be a certain select group that have the ears of those in power. And where do these discussions and debates and solutions that get hammered out; where do they happen? In the media. The media are the most powerful institutions on earth and we have to keep them open and free. MD: What are the biggest challenges independent journalists face? AG: Challenging the corporate media to open up. Because for so many people that’s where they come to understand the world and it has to be through something other than a corporate lens or a corporate microphone. And building our own media to provide a forum for people to speak for themselves. These problems are massive, and they are global, but it’s the local voices everywhere that can solve them. MD: What do you see as the role, or importance, of independent media in the face of the consolidation of the corporate media? AG: The issue of media concentration is absolutely critical. There are hundreds of channels, but what matters is who the owners are. They’re
the ones putting in their point of view. Media consolidation is a threat to a democratic society. The media has to be decentralized, because debate and discussion are the oxygen of a democracy. The media should be a sanctuary of dissent. That’s what’s gonna save the country – in fact, the planet. MD: How can independent media effectively cover wars, like Iraq, where the media’s movement and access is severely restricted? AG: It’s critical to get out the voices of people on the ground and people who are affected by it everywhere. Simply covering Iraq and Afghanistan and making it a top story, that’s what’s critical: making it prominent. Putting it on the front page, above the fold, keeping it in our consciousness. In fact, in the last five, almost six years of war, there has been less and less coverage. And that makes people feel that maybe it’s not so bad. We’ve got to be there, all the time, insuring that these stories are told, that people can hear, feel, smell the war. And it’s especially important now, as a new administration comes in, that the movements against war not be
demobilized, but galvanized. MD: Would you relate your arrest and the arrest of other independent media in St. Paul to the Bush Administration’s suppression of first and fourth Amendment rights and the deployment of active troops to American soil with a mandate to supress “civil disturbances,” among other things? AG: There were more than 40 journalists arrested at the Republican Convention. The message was put out – and this has a chilling effect on all journalists – that if you go inside the convention you’ll be fine and if you go out on the streets you’ll be arrested. But it’s not only about journalists’ rights, or the right to a free press, it’s about the public’s right to know. And that also was violated. The event is at 7 p.m., doors opening at 6:30 p.m., in Leacock Room 132, 855 Sherbrooke O. This event is part of AMARC 25th Anniversary activities and is co-presented with Culture Shock, QPIRG McGill, SSMU, The Link, and The Daily. – Compiled by Charles Mostoller
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This November, check out...
• Communications Skills for Dealing with Different Personalities Thursday, November 13, 5:30 - 7:30 pm Is there a clash in personalities in your organization or club? Learn techniques and strategies that will allow you to handle difficult conversations and difficult people with skill and confidence.
Next semester, watch for more workshops... • Public Speaking for Students • Conﬂict Resolution in Student Organizations • Awareness and Diversity Amongst Students • Etiquette in the Workplace • Passing the Torch: Succession Planning • Using your Leadership Skills to Spice up your CV! • Communications Skills for Dealing with Different Personalities
Registration for Workshops: In person, one week in advance, on a first-come, first-served basis, in the First-Year Office. For more info, drop by the First-Year Office in the Brown
Building, Suite 2100, or call 514-398-6913
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
Letters: More thoughts on Hijab sexy-ness, rights for the unborn, meatogyny the next time he fell off of his bicycle. Until then, he should keep his “stuffed upper-crust of society” ideas to himself.
Victoria Schmidt U0 Science
Rich-boy Rupert gets his first letter!
Did you read my article, Ezra?
Re: “My East Van education” | Compendium | Oct. 23
Re: “Thoughts on the hijab’s sexyness” | Commentary | Oct. 27
Rupert Common can’t have earned much of an education during his summer’s stay on Vancouver’s east side, because his article smacks of spoiled, stupid rich boy. The neighbourhood he describes is far from poor – lower middle class, perhaps, but rent prices in Vancouver being what they are these days, an apartment there could easily go for the same price as an apartment in a far ritzier area of Montreal. It’s attitudes like his that are the reason why Vancouver’s downtown eastside has been so ghettoized – when it was once the thriving downtown core. If Rupert doesn’t want to accept what comes with affordable rent in Vancouver (four Laundromats in two blocks? The horror!), maybe he should move back in with Mummy and Daddy. Then he’d have someone to put band-aids on his booboos
I thought The Daily didn’t publish sexist letters? Jokes! Ezra Black’s letter caused a bit of distraught in my little baby blue veiled head. It’s funny that the comments I’ve received (from males) in regards to my column have been using the same line of argument against which I wrote; there’s the tendency to follow that essentialist mode of thinking. First of all, I cannot emphasize this enough: sexuality is a part of identity more holistically than what we understand in the mainstream. Sexuality encompasses behaviour, values, and mores. A nun’s outfit is telling of her sexuality – we know that she is celibate (not necessarily asexual) and we know her reasoning. Black seems to equate sexuality with sexiness, an unfortunately dominant misunderstanding.
Sexiness is explicit expression of sex. Furthermore, what the hell did he mean by “In theory the hijab is sexy?” I have nothing to contend here, I’m just hella confused. Yet the most offensive words Black wrote had to do with his assertion that “Western girls do possess... the freedom to present themselves as they see fit.” I guess being raised in North America with American and Canadian values and a set of ovaries doesn’t really make me a Western woman, eh? I’ll go return to the “East” then if you don’t mind, Mr. Huntington. Finally we move onto his comments on beauty, i.e. subjective eye pleasure! He says flaunt it, and I say just stay away from Girlicious. By saying that beauty needs to be flaunted the way nature intended it to be, he’s subscribing to my “shaking the ass to assert sexual liberation” point. I’ve had to condense my points for obvious reasons, but if Black would like to continue this, we can take it outside. And by outside I mean firstname.lastname@example.org. Creepy side note: I saw Black writing this letter in the AUS lab. Sana Saeed U3 Honours Political Science and Middle East Studies Daily columnist
Please stop quoting Vice Re: Vice’s wisdom on the working class | Commentary | Oct.27
Nov. 10-14 The McGill Daily & Le McGill Daily et Le Délit present Le Délit presentent
Student Journalism Week la Semaine étudiante du journalisme
The McGill Daily and Le Délit aren’t just newspapers – we’re student services, here to help you learn and make yourself heard. We depend on you for everything from funding to writing to art, and Student Journalism Week is our way of saying thanks. So get your student papers working for you, and come check out some of this week’s events. We want to put the press in your hands. For more details, check out posters and pamphlets around campus, or e-mail email@example.com
This is in response to the letter asking The Daily to “stop writing about St. Henri.” If you’re so choked about hipsters hyping your working-class hood, I’d recommend NOT attacking them with a quote you found in Vice Magazine. It kind of blows your cover. Thanks for the laugh, though! Marianna Reis U2 International Development Studies & History
talking with QM. Most of all, I looked forward to bass-ackwards opinions and debates about my communities and hormone levels that would provide endless fodder for arguments among my straight-bashing, queerexclusive, politically-mobile friends. Daily readers and editors, you can do better. Love and kisses, Ren Haskett U2 Honours Women’s Studies Equity and Policy Coordinator for Queer McGill
Let’s include the unborn I would like to address some of the concerns of those who have reservations about Choose Life, the new pro-life club at McGill. First, we in no way want to minimize the suffering of women who find themselves with emotionally or financially difficult pregnancies, and indeed, an important part of our mandate is to make the choice for life a realistic choice for McGill students and other women by connecting them with appropriate resources, such as free or low-cost clothing, counseling, etc. However, we do hope to encourage reflection on precisely some of the issues raised at the last SSMU Council meeting: namely, human rights, discrimination, and oppression. I trust that our interim status will be a period of opportunity for students to reflect that the present lack of protection of unborn human persons in Canadian law is no less worth questioning and challenging than was the legal status quo before women were recognized as persons in Canadian law. We do not wish to provoke or offend any person or group – we simply strive for a more universal recognition and embrace of the rights and dignity of all human persons, including the unborn. Amy Bergeron U2 Religious Studies
Daily, you can do better Not all men are meatogynists I’d like to express my disappointment with the lack of queer content in the October 27 issue of The Daily. In the last month, I’ve grown accustomed to opening this once reasonable paper and finding at least one Hyde Park, article, or letter shitting on Queer McGill and/or offending me in ways I didn’t think possible. And yet, I’d come to love the frustration of having an organization I work hard to run and improve take a beating from people with little-tono understanding of what or why our politics and policies are. I waited expectantly for the newest letter taken straight to the press without first filing any complaints or
Re: “The meat doesn’t make the man” | Culture | Oct. 27 I don’t usually write to The Daily, but the recent article on “meatogyny” saddened me enough to warrant a response. In it, the author, Sean Iacurti suggests that the prevalence of women among vegetarians in western societies is due to a commonality that women feel toward the subjugated position of cattle and swine. They, therefore, show solidarity to their fellow oppressed by turning to greens. On the other hand, men practice their primeval rite of gender affirmation through “dominating animals”
by eating meat in greater numbers. Here’s my counter example: Any anthropologist will tell you that rural India exhibits far greater patriarchal tyranny than our own society, as evidenced by the thousands of honour killings perpetrated annually against women. And yet the male dominated social and religious institutions exist amid the highest rates of vegetarianism in the world, to the point that less than 30 per cent of Indians are regular meat eaters. When cultural commentators seek to associate all that they perceived as a social evil as descending from the patriarchy, they dull the capacity of sociology to reveal social injustice and waste its energies on ludicrous wild goose chases. If you believe meat production is tyrannical, that is not a very hard case to make. But blaming meat production on maleness – in the same way that racism, environmental decay, war, and class structure all have been in the past – in no way advances the cause of feminism and in fact waters down our ability to address substantive issues of gender inequality. Here, I would like to petition the reader against cheapening the platform of feminism by seeking to amalgamate unrelated issues under its banner, and capitalizing upon its momentum by bandwagoning our disparate social ideals to it. Santiago Perez U2 Sociology
More letters were received than could be printed; they’ll appear soon. Send your non-hateful letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In “Lest we forget” (Features, Nov. 3), The Daily failed to attribute the article on page ten to the author, Kortney Shapiro. In “Preview: The Barriere Lake Struggle Continues” (News, Oct. 30), and “Migrant worker exposes farm exploitation” (News, Nov. 3), The Daily neglected to identify SSMU and the McGill Anti-Racist Coalition as Culture Shock co-organizers along with QPIRG. In “Quebecers decry industrial hog expansion” (News, Oct. 27), The Daily wrote that the Canadian Media Association called for a moratorium on industrial hog expansion in 2002, when in fact it was the Canadian Medical Association that did so. In the same article, The Daily stated that a ban on crates used to prevent female pigs from moving was introduced in the U.K.; in fact that ban was introduced in Florida, while the U.K. enacted an animal welfare law. The Daily regrets the errors.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
Pro-life education will endanger students Choose Life’s mandate violates the SSMU constitution THE UGE COLLECTIVE
ast Tuesday, SSMU approved Choose Life for interim club status. The club’s stated aims include providing students with education on “the value of human life from conception,” as well as with “post-abortion help.” The Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE) Collective supports all students’ rights to hold opinions that differ from ours, and believes that SSMU and SSMU clubs should allow for the exchange of controversial ideas and divergent opinions. However, we believe that a line must be drawn when disseminating these opinions endangers other students’ emotional and physical well-being. Pro-life “education” is incompatible with an inclusive and safe Students’ Society. Choose Life is affiliated with the National Campus Life Network, a group that “supports Canada’s pro-life students” on campuses across Canada. Other campus groups affiliated with the Network have used blatantly hateful materials in their public education campaigns. One group at UBC used a display entitled the “Genocide Awareness
Project,” displaying images of aborted fetuses and comparing abortion to the Holocaust and other genocides. While Choose Life has stated that they are not planning to use graphic images, we believe that any “pro-life” material in student space is harmful. The group claims to educate students about pregnancy options, but the purpose of “pro-life” education is to limit choices, not to provide them. By condemning abortion as an option, pro-life propaganda is targeting, alienating, and shaming a minority group within the student body – those who have had or are considering abortion. The people most affected by this tend to be already marginalized members of our student community, including women, survivors of sexual assault, sex workers, and people with limited access to health care. Choose Life’s goal of providing “after-abortion help” is also troubling. McGill Counseling Services, as well as a number of student groups, already work to provide non-judgmental support for people who are pregnant or who have had abortions. The only thing that could possibly be different about Choose Life’s support would be its judgmental slant. This “help” would only serve to encourage feel-
ings of guilt among those who have had abortions and exploit their experiences for the pro-life cause. SSMU Council was not endorsing “pro-life” ideology by giving Choose Life status, but in doing this they are lending the group and its activities legitimacy – and potentially future funding and physical space. Council has expressed its desire to “give this group a chance,” promising to take action against any activities that violate SSMU’s constitution or equity policy. However, we feel that the group’s mandate already violates the constitution, and that even one public event has the potential to cause harm to members of the Students’ Society. SSMU has a responsibility to protect its members, and student space like the Shatner building should be safe and inclusive for all students. This responsibility means not allowing harmful propaganda to be spread using students’ space or money. How much harm must be done before our Students’ Society will act to defend students’ safety? You can reach the Union for Gender Empowerment Collective at unionforgenderempowerment@ gmail.com.
Taking the “violence” out of Choose Life Alexandra Swann
control over fertility through access both to birth control options and to abortions is an essential part of body rights for women. But the term “violence” does not belong in this discussion, and does nothing but sensationalize the issue by tying it to the important, tangentially related but ultimately separate issue of violence against women. In a cursory search, I could not find any definition of violence broad enough
ven though personally I am vehemently pro-choice, I am very glad that Council decided to grant club status to Choose Life. Smothering the debate on the subject of abortion doesn't do any good for either side, and SSMU would have established a dangerous precedent if it chose to empower itself as the arbiPlease don’t tell me that trator of what moral disto be a feminist, I must be cussions or stances ought to be allowed on campus. intolerant of religion and attend We didn't elect SSMU to do the annual Eve Ensler cult that, and to presume such a right would limit freedom of conscience and speech on to incorporate this usage. The closcampus. However, I object to the use of the est was “an unjust or unwarranted term “structural violence” in relation exertion of force or power, as against to pro-life groups, and the notion rights or laws,” but by that definition, that such a stance is “inherently vio- SSMU choosing to deny this club lent” toward women. Certainly, with- interim status would have been using holding practical access to abortion its power unjustly in an act of “viodisproportionately affects women, lence.” In no way could this club – or and particularly women in vulnerable even the Canadian pro-life movesocial positions like racial minorities ment – be seen as having the power and the economically disadvantaged. necessary to fulfill the requirements It severely impacts the social and of this already questionable definieconomic options available to her for tion of “violence.” While I understand that this use is the rest of her life. Having increased
fashionable among the radical left, to me, it’s an attempt to morally hijack the conversation by using a valueladen term that people automatically associate with physical force. By implying that someone who believes life begins at conception is morally equivalent to a man who beats his wife, it ultimately diminishes the more important problem of violence against women by equating an opinion to an act. They are not, and to suggest this demonstrates intolerance toward a justifiable moral position simply because you do not share it. I am a liberal feminist down to my core, but this is the kind of thing that makes people reluctant to declare themselves feminists today. The modern women's rights movement has somehow alienated the very group it seeks to represent. We drive away our moderates both through this kind of sensationalism, and by equating sexual freedom with exhibitionism. Please don't tell me that to be a feminist, I must be intolerant of religion and attend the annual Eve Ensler cult. Don't we have bigger things to worry about? Alexandra Swann is a U4 Political Science and Environmental Studies student. If you’re into this whole debate thing, you can reach her at email@example.com.
Obama won, now there’s work to do Many are feeling a surge of joy and relief after the U.S. election, but we shouldn’t get too comfortable now that the confetti’s been swept away. It’s a good time to remember, while spirits are still running high, that all our political hopes shouldn’t have to ride on just one federal election, and a lot of crucial things won’t happen if they do. An undeniably significant symbolic change in America’s political climate has taken place. The election saw the biggest voter turnout since 1960, and Americans should be proud of that. Further, states like Virginia and Indiana went blue for the first time in decades. On the eve of the election, Germany’s Die Zeit listed six questions the outcome of this election would answer, among them: is the Reagan Revolution over? Is a generational shift taking place? Are we getting past racism? Tuesday night, America certainly gave some kind of yes. That said, Obama and Biden will face huge challenges come January, and there is a limited amount of change that can realistically happen at the federal level in the next four years. Like presidents before him, Obama will need to move cautiously to protect his chances of getting re-elected – a more difficult balancing act when you’re trying to unite a divided country. And between righting the economy, addressing torture, and ending the war in Iraq – not to mention the huge debt Bush has left behind – the president-elect already has a hefty amount of damage control in front of him. America is still incredibly divided. The Republican campaign strategy of appealing to “real America” exacerbated tensions that aren’t going to simply go away now that the polls have closed. The U.S. remains socially conservative, perhaps best shown on Tuesday, as residents in Arizona, Florida, and California joined 26 other states in banning gay marriage through constitutional amendments. While there is a lot of talk about a landslide, many states were blue only by a slim margin. Certain things about American political culture are probably going to stay the same: the polarizing two-party system, the disproportionate political sway of corporate interests, America’s position on the world stage as an imposing imperial power. With the economy taking centre stage in American politics, health care and education will likely remain in the background, and climate change probably won’t get a chance to be addressed in a way that matches the urgency of the situation. Politics today work in an emotional key, and the epic build-up to the election gets us so absorbed, it’s easy to forget the other levels that politics takes place on. Candidates’ faces have flashed on our screens so often, we only know them as pop stars. Now we hope they’ll materialize into life-size, progressive policy makers. An active citizenry is always crucial. Obama won’t be able to come through on the change he’s been promising for the past year without the support from Congressmen and women across the U.S. So don’t forget your local politics; write to your representatives, attend demonstrations, and keep a critical eye on activity in Washington, whether or not you can vote on who ends up there. Back up north, Jean Charest announced yesterday that Quebeckers will be heading to the polls in a month for a provincial election. While there were plenty of Canadians at Gert’s on Tuesday, we somehow doubt that New Hampshirites will come out in droves to weigh in on Quebec’s political future. Though poorly timed, the upcoming election certainly warrants your attention, since the result will directly influence many of the issues routinely covered in these pages: tuition fees, union rights, language issues, and farm and food policy, to name a few. There is an upside to hyper-mediated American elections. This one, in particular, felt like a real collective experience, and it’s brought out a surge of energy and political will that North America hasn’t seen in some time. Let’s not let it dwindle away now that November 4 has passed.
Student Journalism Week is coming November 10 to 14. See the opposite page for details. It’s like ad ping-pong!
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
Last night a b-boy saved my life A look into Montreal’s breakdancing underground Sally Lin for the The McGill Daily
Nicolas Boisvert-Novak The McGill Daily
o way in hell could anyone top the quintuple backspin Lost Child just pulled. No breakdancer in Montreal would even dare to try. Power-moves that sick tend to break vertebrae, orphan children, and widowed wives. But Lost Child was confident that night, in a way he hadn’t felt since that staph infection nearly ate his leg. No one expected him to come back after that one, but he’d prove them all wrong. All he needed to do was beat Krypto – the almighty Krypto – and for all intents and purposes he just did. Only question was: why wasn’t Krypto fazed? He just stood there, emotionless, just waiting his turn, as though Lost Child hadn’t already killed it. And when his time came, Krypto slid across the dancefloor on his head, his arms extended, his feet suspended in the air – spinning the entire time, feet to face with his opponent. The judges couldn’t believe their eyes, but there it was: Krypto’s legendary HeadSplide. Lost Child flinched. He’d caught every second of it, and the memories would never fade. They were etched into his retinas: that perfect round, that sequence of pops and locks so pure, Christ himself couldn’t do much better. The look on his face – it was one of deep, metaphysical pain. It was the
stuff Karate Kid sequels are made of. Yet it all happened verbatim, on October 24, at Who’s Hungry – the Montreal breakdancing community’s yearly dance-off. Leaping out of the woodwork and straight into our faces, these twodozen-or-so b-boys spared no one. Leaving, we attendees were shocked, and felt different from when we came. The more ambitious amongst us vowed to take hip-hop dance classes; others felt content clutching their heads, yelling out expletives in gratitude. It’s not that any of us failed to anticipate dancing, but this event so gracefully straddled the line between competition and celebration, between dualistic show-offing and friendly reunion…It was something I’d never seen. And perhaps I can peg the reason why: weirdly isolated and solipsistic, their community seems happy just cycling 1974 through 1996, forever. In B.Sci. terms, they’re stuck in the past, although here, it might not be a bad thing. Still, that makes tracking them down a lot tougher. Excepting forum posts and YouTube, their Internet presence is virtually nonexistent. But frustrating as that is, it certainly makes what little we catch of them briskly mercurial, not to mention endearingly local. Try as I might, it’s hard to brush their isolation off as self-protection – some ill-guided attempt to shield young b-boys from the corrupting influence of tight,
dance-inhibiting jeans. In all likelihood, they wouldn’t sweat us if we came. Their breakdancing culture is too perfectly selfcontained: the extensive jargon (popping as different from locking; locking as different from whacking); the killer fashions (Dickies chinos, tailored headwear, and sweet kicks); the hilarious b-boy naming conventions (Krypto, Megatron, Scramblelock, Dingo...Raoul). As a native Montrealer looking for something real, the experience hit me like a freight train. A great time, sure – the laughs were a-plenty, the oh-shit moments by the truckload, and the drama was there for those who could handle it – but Who’s Hungry held a lot more weight than that. For one, it ripped me clean off of American youth culture. That terrible beast, too narrowly focused on the edge, exclusively on the hottest shit – the Lee Douglas remix, the Nom de Guerre sweater, the DJs at Coda. For such an exhaustive search, ours is weirdly aimless; the new con-
stantly supplants the old as we progressively lose sight of the difference. In a word: empty. But the b-boys’ culture is static, and that affords them the possibility to concentrate on things that matter: namely, the mastery of movement. Of course, there’s some consumerism here too – the Fubu ain’t cheap – but the fashions aren’t updated, which means that once a b-boy has his basics covered, all he has to do is dance. It’s a refreshing environment, one that won’t pat a kid on the back until he’s achieved something. And if we could just get over ourselves for a moment, stop thrifting, and start high-fiving over actual accomplishments, maybe it’s one we could share. To paraphrase Illmatic’s opening moments: there ain’t nothin’ out here for us. Or maybe there is – namely, Who’s Hungry.
A portrait of the artist as a McGill Professor Art and academia meet at the Redpath Museum Anna Leocha Culture Writer
ast Friday, beneath a giant marine vertebrate suspended from the ceiling in McGill’s Redpath Museum, professors, faculty, and graduate students ditched their stacks of papers to celebrate their own creative endeavours at the second installation of “Artists Among Us.” Riding on the tail end of Academic Careers Week – five days filled with information on how to negotiate one’s first academic job contract, how to defend a thesis, and how to
give a professional interview – the exhibit functioned as a fundraiser for cancer research and as a secondary source of income for the artists who sold their work there. It was a reminder for all those who attended, that even in McGill’s bleak, numbercrunching, fine-arts-starved world, there are indeed artists among us.” The exhibit was the vision of an enthusiastic and enterprising graduate student career advisor, Susan Molnar. An artist, appreciator, and self-described “event planner,” Molnar first organized the exhibition last year, after hearing about a similar program at M.I.T. called “Artists Behind the Desk.” Limiting
entries to professors, faculty, and staff, Molnar hoped to cast new and colourful light onto those individuals whom students tend to see onedimensionally. “Artists Among Us” was comprised of 25 artists – 11 grad students and nine faculty and staff, with the overwhelming 4majority of the contributors from the science department. The art ranged all the way from change purses to paintings of Notorious B.I.G. Although, for many, art is a cathartic way of releasing stress caused by their day jobs, for many others, it is intrinsically linked to their studies. I talked with Varina Campbell, a
grad student in mineralogy and crystallography, who carefully showed me her “hand jewel” – a mix between a ring and a scepter – which was created using plates of mica to take the shape of a diamond’s atomic structure. Frieda Beauregard, a Botany grad student, illustrated her love of plants along a table full of flower photography. “Your art is the final product of your personality and of everything you do,” explained Barbara Tolloczko, a research associate in the department of medicine. Tolloczko’s art incorporates cross copies of cells in her oil paintings, proving that your “other life cannot be separate from your art.”
The artists describe their ability to keep producing art as a testament to their passion and their initiative. A few have organized their own art shows around the city, or simply sold at Tam-Tams. Of course, it would be ideal to have a fine arts school at McGill, they all agree, but until then, it’s important to make the most of the situation. They suggest finding a community of artists among you to encourage and inspire. Molnar hopes to organize the exhibition again next year in order to keep that community alive – because art is important, because artists need outlets, and because she finds it “eternally fun.”
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
The past in pieces Fragmented Scrapbook fails to capture turbulent adolescence
Allison Friedman Culture Writer
can’t seem to put the pieces in order,” confesses the unnamed protagonist of Nicole Markoti’s Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot, in the midst of narrating her life story. Her words perfectly echo the reader’s own sentiments. While there are heartwarming tidbits to be gleaned from this novel, they become lost within a deliberately jumbled structure and several poorly executed stylistic experiments. The experience of reading the book is thus akin to looking at the author’s vomit on the sidewalk and trying to determine what she must have ingested. The narrator is a young woman from Western Canada attempting to document her life in scrapbook form. Though described in the publisher’s summary as “quirky,” she seems almost painfully normal – aside from a burning desire throughout her adolescence to become Mormon. This desire is supposedly born of the fact that her parents are German and Croatian immigrants, who insist that distressing memories of their former lives remain firmly buried. Denied complete access to her history, the narrator vainly seeks to fashion an alternate identity out of the Mormon life introduced by her best friend, Vera. Eventually, the death of her father begins a process of extraction from a faith that she never convincingly believed in – this extraction is meant to be the novel’s dramatic focus. The story is told in anecdotal fragments that jump backward and forward in time, and feature a plethora of subplots: the narrator’s first postMormonism love and its failure, her relationship with her parents, her current successes in the field of social work, and her dramatic reunion with Vera after years of estrangement, to name a few. Each of these plots fights for attention, and as a result, none is sufficiently developed. Much of the raw material is promising – the nar-
rator’s mother, for instance, is a convincing portrait of a woman so firmly committed to her adopted Canadian identity that she withholds a crucial part of herself from her daughter. The evolution of their bond from one between parent and youngest child to one between two grown women resonates soundly, and would benefit from a paring down of debris. Markoti also isolates her reader with spontaneous bouts of stylistic creativity. A rapid-fire summary of the founding of Mormonism, rendered nonsensical by esoteric allusions and cheeky babble, is nothing short of a headache: “Where’s Hyrum now? Away in a manger. More eggs when the chickens wake up, and fewer when they miss their mothers. A hop and a skip, and two jumps to the moon. Adam was born in Kansas City, but then he left.” Similarly, the sporadic annexation of the narration by secondary characters, sometimes without warning, is both jarring and cheesy. And, though admittedly a minor grievance, the frequent use of “cuz” for “because” is somewhat baffling, considering that slang is employed nowhere else in the book. The scattered nature of the story is intentional, for it is indeed meant to be read like a scrapbook. It would not be characteristic for the narrator, who does not have the patience to keep a plant alive or read a decent
Treading the book is akin to looking at the author’s vomit on the sidewalk and trying to determine what she must have ingested novel (“It’s too hard to pay attention,” she says), to organize her memoirs in chronological order. But Markoti takes on more material than this style can handle, and the novel fails to cohere. The sense of confusion is only heightened by the author’s slapdash effort to bring everything together in the end: in a convenient twist of fate, there is a Mormon temple located in the small German town where the narrator’s mother grew up, and where the two women have travelled to reopen the past together. Our hero is able to symbolically walk past it en route to explore the history of her newly-revealed, rightful origins. Unable to partake in her satisfaction, the reader is left at the end with a handful of scraps that simply don’t create a rational whole.
Alyssa Favreau for The McGill Daily
Alyssa’s avatar went to the Cybertheque, but all she got was this lousy t-shirt.
My so-called Second Life McGill deploys librarians into cyberspace Alyssa Favreau Culture Writer
iven that I spend most of my time trying desperately to get my life in order, the thought of having to manage a second life makes me break out in a cold sweat. And yet that’s exactly what 15 million people world-wide do in the interactive virtual universe called Second Life. Recently, in an effort to reach a wider range of students, the McGill Libraries bought an island on Second Life and created an information center offering direct access to librarians. This information centre is currently being advertised on the McGill Library web site. While the thought of using an avatar to visit an online world didn’t particularly intrigue me, I was curious as to why McGill would choose to open up a library specifically on Second Life. I thought I’d keep an open mind and give it a try. My first order of business was creating an avatar. Thinking I should probably come up with some wickedly cool name, I end up with Aly Mirajkar. The only reasonably normal-looking body option available came in a hideously pink dress. Even better. After getting used to the controls and getting a kick out of the “fly” command, it was time to explore. Opening the map, I typed in “party” and several variations of “Party Island” pop up. After several attempts resulting in my avatar bouncing off an invisible barrier surrounding a log cabin (apparently I was not welcome at this particular gathering) and dancing alone in the middle of a dance floor complete with glowing skulls and columns of flames, I still hadn’t come across any other
avatar, and decided to change tactics. Hoping that “Vancouver Island” would yield better results, I typed my hometown into the map, only to be teleported into a shopping complex, once again completely vacant. The first store I entered featured questionable bits of leather modelled by all-too-realistic looking male mannequins; the second, a wide variety of rainbow flags. Not exactly like the real Vancouver Island, granted, but this escape from reality is one of the major selling points of Second Life. But why would McGill want to be a part of the network? In order to find out, my next stop in this strange island-world was the library and cybertheque. Surprise, surprise, there was no one to be seen. Not even a librarian. After a quick look around, I picked up my free McGill t-shirt, put it on overtop of my revolting pink dress, and decided that I’d had quite enough online fun for a good long time. The next day, I had better luck tracking down a librarian in person. Louise O’Neill, the Associate Director of Library Technology Services, is one of the librarians involved in the Second Life project and seems to be enjoying this new method of offering library information. “It’s a bit experimental,” she says. “We’re having fun with it, trying different things. The librarians are still getting used to working in that kind of an environment. It’s very, very different, providing services for somebody who looks like a blue dragon.” When asked why the librarians had decided to create a McGill library information centre on Second Life, O’Neill replied that McGill was not the first school to be doing something of the sort in an effort to reach library users. “There is a movement among libraries in North America to offer library servic-
es in virtual environments,” she added. “We’re past the day when we expect everybody to come to the library to get service. We like to be where our users are.” In an effort to make the library available anytime, anyplace, the librarians decided to get creative and build a virtual library. However, the demand for such a library doesn’t seem to be very high. Aside from the lack of activity during my visit, few McGill students seem to even be aware of the school’s presence on Second Life. The librarians aren’t too worried, though. “The project is still in the early stages, so we haven’t had too much traffic, but we haven’t been advertising it too heavily either,” said O’Neill. “We have had a few visitors, [but] not all of them are from McGill, because anybody can visit us.” According to the Second Life librarians, a variety of users in need of answers seek out the McGill library, including those interested in bilingual help. “So we have had visitors, but from all over. We’re going to use it as a tool.” If this project succeeds, McGill Libraries will be looking into other development projects on Second Life in the New Year, including access to Archives Canada. “Hopefully we’ll be in a better position to offer information services there on a regular basis. We’re also hoping to make parts of the island available to other departments.” If a virtual information centre can succeed in bringing people to the library, it could mean that more alternative teaching methods may soon be on the way. For now, however, the librarians are simply trying to ensure that people have a good experience in the library. As O’Neill explained, “We’re having fun and we’re inviting students to have fun with us.”
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
MTL > SNL Live from Montreal, it’s election night April Engelberg Culture Writer
his Tuesday night, I peeled myself away from the hysteria of Gert’s and CNN and walked down Bishop to see some electionnight improv at Comedyworks. The night’s tagline was “You have no idea what is going to happen and neither do we.” This was an accurate description of the evening, which featured improvised sketches while the outcome of the election was still undecided. The venue had a brick wall, an American flag, balloons, and some streamers as its only decor – a stark contrast to the holograms, touchscreens, and high-definition TVs I’m accustomed to seeing when it comes to election coverage. There were no costumes, with the exception of the glasses worn by the woman who played Sarah Palin. The host came out to introduce the evening, calling himself “Mr. Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper combined.” He turned to the crowd: “Where was everyone during the Canadian election coverage? I don’t blame you.” Each skit incorporated aspects of the American election with audience participation. One had two actors playing a Bush-McCain hybrid. The audience asked questions as if
at a press conference, and actors answered together, giving one word at a time. “What the fuck were you thinking in Iraq?” shouted the audience, “I - was - not - thinking.” “What if there was no more oil in the United States?” “Then - we - would - invade - Iraq.” “You already did.” “Then - we - would - invade - Canada.” Three times throughout the evening, the host checked the results by calling his comedian friend who was at home watching CNN: “Thanks for calling the Situation Living Room!” The next skit incorporated the results, although the first call was made during a commercial break, which resulted in a routine about Sarah Palin’s hair extensions. The Palin/Biden debate was hilarious, as the actors had to base their comments on the hand gestures an audience member gave them. Another skit followed the daily struggle of Brad the Stripper, instead of McCain’s friend Joe the Plumber. I had a great time watching these truly intelligent and talented individuals, but despite their insightful commentary, I must admit that I had the constant urge to run downstairs to check the results on the television. However, the routines were too funny to miss, so I waited until the end, as did the other patrons, to rush to the TV screen at the bar, trying to predict results.
Nov. 10-14 The McGill Daily &
Courtesy of SKOL
Jerry Ropson turns a list of distractions into the piece Everything That Distracted Me From Working.
Close readings, close quarters Jerry Ropson exhibit won’t let you take a step back
Le McGill Daily et Le Délit present Le Délit presentent
Student Journalism J Week
Mikael Rubin Culture Writer
la Semaine étudiante du journalisme The McGill Daily and Le Délit aren’t just newspapers – we’re student services here to help you learn and make yourself heard. We depend on you for everything from funding to writing to art, and Student Journalism Week is our way of saying thanks. So get your student papers working for you, and come check out some of this week’s events. We want to put the press in your hands. For more details, check out posters and pamphlets around campus, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
erry Ropson’s exhibit “Hollow cores, other findings and one last chance,” is located in the small room at the back of SKOL gallery. This unassuming space not only contains Ropson’s art, but also actively shapes its meaning. The smallness of the show seems intentional – the gallery space becomes intimate. There is a table, a chair, and a hanging mosquito net; the windows that face out onto the street are almost devoid of artwork. There is hardly enough space to step back, especially with another person or two in the room. And yet, stepping back, putting things into perspective, is an important aspect of looking at art. That this show does not allow you to do so is one of its flaws, though perhaps an intentional one. To further restrict movement,
there are pieces of art scattered about on the floor, leaning against the wall, and hanging from the ceiling. It is difficult to move, to look. Were it a friend’s room, I might sit down or lean against the table, but in a gallery the amount of objects crowds the viewer and obscures the quality of any individual piece. It would seem, then, that space is the fundamental problem of this show; it both restricts viewing and coalesces the artwork into an amorphous mass. But within these frustrating elements of the show, there are also artworks that hold some significance. This is largely apparent in the use of text and sculpture. The only two pieces that are presented in the standard “work of art” format – framed and hung at eye level – are two lists of handwritten words called Every Other Possible Title For This Particular Exhibition of Work, and Everything That Distracted Me From Working. I did not find either list particularly compelling. My critique isn’t that it has been done before, but that parts of each list, like “You are here,” or “Sawdust,” were simply trivial. This triviality was not because the words didn’t relate to the work of art, but because they were so clearly meant to evoke the sort of meta-art that if
done at all, must be done well – and more subtly. I have to mention the ladders, which were prevalent in this room. They were of all shapes and sizes, but none too large – that’s not something the room would permit. I liked that some were on their sides and some were upright, it was pleasant and playful. Despite this, Ropson’s exhibit is enjoyable to be in because it forces you to look at the artwork closely, perhaps too closely. It is an interesting and atypical gallery experience. The artworks individually do not hold much weight, but as a whole, they do merit attention. I do not, however, wish to imply that this is work that transcends art and transforms the gallery into something everyday; rather, it is unified in a way that evokes a gallery space contained within a gallery – an exhibition of Ropson’s art in his own world. SKOL is a multi-floor complex full of small galleries, located on the third floor of the Belgo building at 372 Ste. Catherine. While you’re there, it’s also worthwhile to give Stephen Kelly’s art a look and listen – he is the other artist currently being shown at the SKOL. The exhibit runs until November 29.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
Bizarre love quadrangle Players’ Theatre deconstructs intimacy in Closer
Ryan MacKellar The McGill Daily
hen two strangers become entangled, love can be an arduous game. Closer is a play about the interactions between four people who experience the complexities and challenges that love and sex can create. After a series of chance encounters, their bleak and lonely adult lives are changed forever as they experience love, lust, jealousy, and ultimately, heartbreak. The characters’ interactions are presented in a series of contrasting scenes. Rarely more than two characters are present on stage at once, putting immense focus on their intimate one-on-one relationships. These emotionally-charged exchanges take on a somber mood, showing well the difficulty and imperfection of love that is so central to the story. Indeed, the changing sexual interests of all the characters create a frightening picture of married life – full of deceit, adultery, and anger. As the four characters continue intermingling in a bizarre love quadrangle there seems to be little hope that it will end for the best.
CULTURE BRIEFS The best medicine Looking for something unique to do on a Wednesday night? Head over to Comedy OFF the Main for some local stand-up. For $5 you’ll see five to seven acts in an evening. OFF the Main brings in different Montreal comics every week, plus a few regulars and the host. Unlike most comedy shows of the same price range, Comedy OFF the Main isn’t an open mic show – the performers are hand-picked. “[OFF the Main] was the first alternative room in the city, and it remains a great, off-beat place where comedians experiment and play
Shu Jiang / The McGill Daily
You could cut the sexual tension with a knife. Even the careers of the four characters project detachment and loneliness. Alice works as a performer in a strip club, Dan is an unsuccessful novelist working as an obituary writer, Larry is a dermatologist, and Anna is a photographer who specializes, she says, “in the portraits of strangers.” All the characters begin as strangers and try to maintain this detachment during their first encounters.
They exhibit feelings of indifference and remoteness, showing the isolation present in their own lives. Yet as they become romantically involved, the protection that detachment offers from pain and suffering is gone. Central to the play’s message is its portrayal of human sexuality. The film noir motifs of moral ambiguity and sexual fixation establish the mood right away, and the play
around,” organizer Asaf Gerchak says. According to Gerchak, Comedy OFF the Main is all about the group experience: “The space we use at Oliveira is very small, and we like it that way. The room’s size and setup provide an intimacy that lets the audience feel comfortable and lets the comedians engage with them in ways not possible in larger rooms.” Stand-up can depend a lot on how well the audience receives the comedian’s schtick, but Comedy OFF the Main offers the ideal atmosphere for this conversational medium: local performers, and a small venue, run by people who really care for the art of standup. Next Wednesday – coincidentally, OFF the Main’s anniversary show – might be the night to give standup another shot. This could very well become the new Tokyo Thursdays.
– Sophie Busby
If you’ve ever seen a dance performance, you probably know that they don’t typically involve a lot of dialogue; occasionally a few words are uttered onstage, but by no means is it a regular occurrence. While dance may be lacking in verbal conversation, though, it does offer a little thing called contact improvisation. Contact improv is the movementbased equivalent of a good chat: it involves two people – sometimes more – is entirely spontaneous, and each dancer’s movement choices originate from a common point of contact between bodies. If you think this sounds interesting, you’re not alone – so do Nita Little and Andrew Harwood, two dancers who are internationally recognized for their involvement in the development of contact improv.
is riddled with sexual language and tension whenever interactions occur. Many of the characters seem to have perverted sexual tendencies. In an especially graphic scene, Dan pretends to be a libidinous young woman in an Internet chatroom, displaying not only his sexual confusion, but also boredom with his current relationship. The play portrays a disheartening view of adult relationships and mar-
ried life. It seems that these characters have become so detached from others that they are almost unable to truly love someone else. Despite the many agonizing interactions these characters have, one wonders if it they even have the ability to be truly hurt. The final tragedy of Closer is not that these characters cannot love each other, but rather that they are ultimately unable to love themselves.
This Friday, Little and Harwood are coming together to present Un peu de vie dans ce monde mourrant, a series of experiments in contact improvisation. What does that entail? Who knows! Part of the fun of contact improvisation is that it’s unplanned. And part of the fun of seeing contact improvisation in performance is that the stage becomes a
laboratory where impulsive ideas are tested and new discoveries made, right before your very eyes. Go, if only to see what happens. Un peu de vie dans ce monde mourrant plays at Studio 303 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday, November 7. For more information visit studio303.ca
Yi Ariel Liu for The McGill Daily
– Amelia Schonbek
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 6, 2008
A nook by the river Bursting the bubble Michael Tau’s walking tour of Verdun
irst off, you could take the metro to De L’Église station – which will take you straight to the heart of Verdun – but I suggest walking. The trek from downtown Montreal to Verdun is quite an adventure, especially if you make a point of going through St. Henri. The walk also affords such sights as the Atwater Market, The Green Spot (a classic St. Henri diner), and an amazing abandoned malt factory at the intersection of St. Antoine and St. Remi. For those unversed in the boroughs of Montreal, Verdun transitioned from independent city to Montreal borough in 2002, following a 331-year run as one of Canada’s longest-standing cities. Although previously an anglophone area, it has gradually become predominantly French-speaking. These days, it’s primarily a working-class neighbourhood although recent years have seen a move toward gentrification. De L’Église station exits onto avenue de l’Église, so named because of L’Église Saint-Paul at its north end. Once you step out of the station, I recommend following the road west several blocks. Eventually you’ll reach the coolest attraction Verdun has to offer – a street actually named rue Cool. You’ll need to see it to believe it. Ostensibly a short road adorned with tightly-packed townhouses and a Shell Station, its pride and joy is the most coveted street sign on the island. After witnessing rue Cool in all its splendor, continue west past the aqueduct canal to reach Brasserie de l’Eglise, a lovely little bar just outside Verdun territory. In addition to being one of very few establishments to include both “bar” and “church” in its name, it’s a charming dive frequented by plenty of middle-aged locals. And it’s lady-friendly, too: don’t miss the “Bienvenue aux Dames” sign above the entrance. Bars don’t exist in Verdun because drinking establishments are curiously illegal; hence, Brasserie de l’Église has been forced onto the other side of the canal, just into the neighbouring Sud-Ouest borough. Once you’ve satisfied your urge to booze, head back into Verdun and continue east on avenue de l’Église until you reach the Metro grocery store. Seemingly just another edition of the ubiquitous supermarket chain, this is actually the legendary Metro Joannette, arguably the best place in Montreal to get beer. They stock an awe-inspiring selection of Quebec micro-
brews, including everything from the complete Unibroue selection to gems by Bièropholie and Les Trois Mousquetaires. This has all been orchestrated by the store’s owner, an avid beer snob who has even had a beer commissioned in the store’s name. If you’re daring, try “El Lapino,” a Jalapeño beer that actually comes with a little pepper in the bottle. It’s absolutely beyond disgusting, but worth a try for the experience alone. Continuing east on avenue de l’Église, you’ll reach rue Wellington, one of Verdun’s major commercial strips. Wellington is Verdun’s St. Denis, home to snazzy boutiques, trendy restaurants, as well as some larger stores. If you’re there in the evening, you’ll notice that music plays through the streets until nine o’clock, courtesy of speakers attached to the streetlights. Last time I was there, several Quebecois ballads were punctuated by Shania Twain and Sheryl Crow hits. Highlights on Wellington include a decent thrift store and some neat family-run Chinese grocery stores, but the real treat stands right at the corner of Wellington and de l’Église – the Notre-Dame des-Sept-Douleurs church. Overbearingly massive, it was built in 1914 and stands to this day as a testament to the role Catholicism has played in forming Verdun’s culture. Of course, there are many places to eat in Verdun, including several trendy spots on Wellington. In the wake of gentrification, a substantial “foodie” scene has emerged in the borough, bringing with it bistro fare and gourmet cuisine. However, as a student, I prefer a more affordable approach. If you’re like me, Restaurant Zappy, at the east end of de l’Église is your ticket. They have an extensive menu of specials, a friendly diner vibe, and a nice view of the river. Finally, venturing further east after de l’Église ends, you’ll pass the Verdun Auditorium, home of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, Junior de Montreal. If you drop in during the day, you’ll likely be able to catch a pee-wee game or even free skating sessions. Just past the Auditorium, you’ll encounter the jewel in Verdun’s crown: the coast. I suggest bringing along a few beers from the Metro Joannette, finding a nook by the river, and watching the sun set behind L’Île-des-Soeurs. It beats the clubs on St. Laurent every time.
Ethan Landy for The McGill Daily
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Scott decides to buy a Mac with the Apple education discount. His roommate, Jim, buys a PC. If Scott’s Mac runs Microsoft O∑ce, plus iLife and others, how many times a week will Jim ask Scott if he can borrow his Mac?