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The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
McGill centralizing food services Administrators hope that integration increases portability, choices
Will Vanderbilt The McGill Daily
entralized residence and campus dining operations will come to McGill next year with the creation of a new Director of Food Services position – a move intended to provide students with access to more flexible food options. A series of negative evaluations of McGill’s food service operations dating back to the 1980s prompted the change, according to Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning). “There was a sense in all of these reports that we should have integration [of food services],” he said. McGill Food Services received a “D” ranking in The Globe and Mail’s Canadian University Report this year. Other reports have criticized the University’s decentralized approach to food services, and recommended integrating the various services into one system. Currently, McGill has two food operations: Residences Food Services – which runs the Bishop Mountain Hall, Royal Victoria College, and Douglas dining halls, as well as small snack bars in the Burnside and McIntyre Medical buildings; and McGill Food and Dining Services, which administers the Martlet meal plan and operates numerous locations across campus. Each operation also runs a catering service. “We have two catering services, a hodgepodge of food on campus, and a hodgepodge in residences,” Mendelson said. Under an integrated system, students on a meal plan could use their meal card at any of the locations on campus. Presently, only students living in New Residence hall have that ability. Bill Pageau, director of McGill Food and Dining Services, said centralization could smooth out operations. “We think integration will bring an increase in portability and efficiency that will benefit all students,” Pageau wrote in an email to The Daily. Residences Food Services Manager Susan Campbell agreed that the changes could bring positive changes for students. “I think the consolidation will be a very good move,” she said. Mendelson stressed the need for open consultation with students, and noted that the new director will hold a seat on the Student Life and Learning executive team – so that student concerns about food will be heard by higher level administrators
than before. “We are 100 per cent committed to having ongoing consultation with students.... It can’t just be window dressing,” he said. The new director will decide what to do with McGill’s current food outlets, especially those that are run in house. According to Campbell, he or she likely won’t make any immediate changes to Residences Food Services that are obvious to students. “There are no plans to change the meal plan right off the bat,” she said. “We have unions in place, and many different locations.” Unlike Residences Food Service workers, however, employees at McGill Food and Dining Services’ cafeterias are not unionized. The student-managed Architecture Café is also unlikely to see immediate changes despite their affiliation with McGill Food and Dining Services, according to Mendleson. He made it clear that new studentrun food services will not be brought into the campus food system. “We’re not contemplating handing [any more] locations over to students,” he said. “It is quite possible, however, to have an integration across the University food services and the SSMU cafeteria if the student groups are willing to engage in the necessary agreements to do that.” But SSMU VP University Affairs Nadya Wilkinson said that any integration between SSMU and the University’s food services is unlikely, given the organization’s push to bring student-run food options into the building. “We know that it’s inconvienent for people who are on [McGill meal plans], but we’re weighting that with the benefits of having more [studentrun] food in the building, and that’s what won out,” she said. Also unclear is the influence that corporate-run food services will play in the re-aligned system. “When it comes to the question of corporate concentration, we know that students are interested in diversity, variety, quality, sustainability, and low prices. All of these goals are not always compatible,” said Pageau. “We could use a model that has all out-sourced operations, an in-house operation or a mixed of both.” According to Mendelson, how the University proceeds with inhouse and outsourced food options is a decision for the new director to make. “The person coming in will have to evaluate and figure out what its going to look like.... We dont have plans to change anything very quickly before it is evaluated,” he said. Both Mendelson and Pageau maintained that the University’s goal is to serve students a variety of high quality and sustainable food options. “We want to provide the best possible service to people given the resources we have,” Mendelson said.
Tyler Yefort / The McGill Daily
Thomson House dodges bankrupcy PGSS shuffles administrative staff to get back in the black Braden Goyette The McGill Daily
he Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) of McGill University eliminated two management positions this month, part of a larger restructuring effort to cope with its $112,000 budget deficit. The Society’s Board of Directors permanently laid off Linda Susnik, the Executive Director of Thomson House, in late October. “We can’t afford to have everybody around, so we have to reduce,” said VP Finance Eric Pollanen. “We can reduce managers more easily because the managers have no contact with the customer.” PGSS President John Ashley Burgoyne explained that the Executive Director received the highest salary in the Society, and that laying-off Susnik had nothing to do with her performance. “Her last performance review was in fact positive,” he said. Though the VP Finance doesn’t typically revise budgets, Pollanen recognized PGSS was in serious financial trouble, and drew up a second budget, which he presented to the Board of Directors last Wednesday. “We would have been facing an insolvency situation if we didn’t change,” Pollanen said. Restructuring will involve re-delegating duties, more self-management on the part of staff, menu adjustments, reevaluating who’s eligible for discounted membership, and whether Thomson House’s meals will be subsidized by student fees in
the future. “The bigger question of restructuring is, ‘Do we want Thomson House to be subsidized?’” Pollanen said, adding that he will consult with graduate students on the issue. The Board is also consolidating the two current chef management positions – Executive Chef and Head Chef – after the Head Chef resigned approximately two weeks ago, Pollanen said. PGSS will need the approval of Council to make these changes. The Society incurred an unusually large deficit this year because graduate student enrollment was lower than it was last year, reducing income from membership fees and insurance revenue, according to Burgoyne. “The PGSS has not had a history of over-spending,” Burgoyne said. “Even two years ago, there was no excess of expenditure. It was a oneoff thing.” Burgoyne does not expect the economic downturn to have a dramatic impact on the Society. The most volatile part of the Society’s income comes from operations at the Thomson House bar and restaurant, which comprise roughly a third of their revenue. “Two-thirds are essentially guaranteed,” Pollanen said. Pollanen is confident that the new budget and structural changes will balance the budget. “With the new plan in place there’s no danger that Thomson House could become insolvent,” he said. “Thomson House is not going to go bankrupt.” Operations Manager André
Pierzchala assumed that many of the former Executive Director’s responsibilities fall under the new title of Acting Business Manager. “There’s very little change from the operational point of view,” Pierzchala said. “There’s nothing wrong with looking at a different model or being progressive about things.” The restructuring effort was in part a response to pressure from Council, where members were frustrated and concerned about the deficit. Pollanen added that he wants to foster a culture of transparency, having himself been frustrated by the lack of accessibility to financial information in the past. “Managers didn’t have a good sense of the financial performance of Thomson House, and they weren’t expected to,” he said. Now the Society has set up a restructuring web site with an FAQ for councillors, and last year’s budget is available on the site. Jessica, a Thomson House server and bartender who declined to give her last name, is unconcerned about the restructuring. “It didn’t really affect me,” she said of the Executive Director position being eliminated. “I think it affected management more.” Another bartender expressed enthusiasm about Pierzchala taking on much of the Executive Director’s responsibilities as Acting Business Manager. “There’s a lot going on, and it affects things all the way down to the bottom, though in a different way,” he said, adding he was optimistic about the restructuring overall. “It’s gonna save the place.”
DAILY ELECTIONS ARE DECEMBER 2, 6P.M., SHATNER B-24 ALL ELECTORS MUST ATTEND CANDIATE RUNDOWN - TONIGHT, 6 P.M. 3rd FLOOR OF THE CKUT BUILDING
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
In the test tube: three decades of HIV vaccination Dr. Kenneth Mayer is a professor of Medicine and Community Health and the Director of Brown University AIDS Program. The Daily had a chance to sit down with him before his keynote address at McGill’s World AIDS Week last Friday. The McGill Daily: You were one of the first clinicians in Boston to see HIV patients. Can you tell me about it? Dr. Kenneth Mayer: I was studying infectious diseases at Harvard in June 1981 when the first announcements of what came to be known as AIDS were in a weekly paper. I said, “Huh, here they’re seeing this epidemic of these immunodeficient conditions in men who have sex with men. Hmm, I wonder what the connection is here.” In the beginning, there was a competing hypothesis, the Fast Lane hypothesis: Some of the first people who got sick were people who had lots of sexual partners, but they also used lots of drugs...[so] the immune system doesn’t have a chance to process everything, and to fully recover. And the other hypothesis was, maybe there’s some new bug that’s destroying these people’s immune systems.
And it took about three or four years to figure that out. MD: When you first encountered the virus, did you realize the magnitude of the threat it presented? KM: Within a year, I started seeing people who weren’t particularly risky themselves: their partner partied a lot [and] they hadn’t. And that said to me, “Gee, if this can be transmitted in this kind of setting...this thing could really take off.” MD: I hear you’re working on a vaccine. What’s the deal? KM: The vaccine is the highest priority because vaccines are the only things that have really stopped epidemics in their tracks in the modern era. The trouble with HIV is manifold in terms of trying to find the vaccine. [For example,] there’s not a really good animal model. To do the human studies ethically is very challenging. You have to get people who are at risk for becoming HIV infected. They have to be aware of [their risk,] and then, ethically, you have to have them sign an informed consent [form]. To do a big vaccine study, it
requires on the order of 5,000 people. A study like that will cost tens of millions of dollars. Because of these factors and [the fact that] the virus is so tricky..It’s like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill. And this last year the boulder rolled back down the hill. The [last] vaccine was not protective. MD: What advances have we made in fighting HIV in the past two decades? KM: The advances are incredible. We’ve taken something from being a death sentence for 95 per cent of people who were infected, and have transformed it to a manageable infection. The biggest challenges are that there’s still more infections every year than there are people going on medicine, and the death rate is still very high. MD: Do you think that we’ll see the eradication of HIV in our lifetime? KM: Probably not mine, maybe yours. – Compiled by Ariel Lefkowitz For a full transcript of this interview, visit mcgilldaily.com Shu Jiang / The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Provincial candidates greet a pitiful turnout SSMU-organized event brings six party hopefuls to campus Shannon Kiely The McGill Daily
ewer than 15 students attended SSMU’s provincial candidate meet-and-greet at Thomson House this Wednesday. The provincial election – falling smack in the middle of McGill’s exam period, and following on the heels of the federal and American elections – comes at a bad time for students, explained SSMU VP External Affairs Devin Alfaro. “It’s unfortunate because we wanted to bring potential decision makers to McGill so [students] could gage who they will support,” he said.
Green Party candidate for Westmount—Saint Louis Patrick D’Aoust believed students today feel politically disempowered and urged for election reform. “It would be nice to get more people here interested,” D’Aoust said. “The only time people are asked [what they think] is during an election. There’s no dialogue.” D’Aoust said a good place to start would be challenging the Premier’s exclusive right to call an election, which allows the party in power to schedule a vote at politically opportune times. He also suggested increased consultation between politicians and the community throughout their time in office.
Catherine Emond, running for the Liberal party in the Plateau area, was happy to have one-on-one discussions with students. “It was very intimate. It was nice to have the time to chat to students – to have a real conversation,” she said. Thirty-year-old Emond thought it was important for young people to engage in politics because their priorities and perspectives can differ from the older generation. She was excited by the idea of representing her generation in the National Assembly. “Voting takes a few minutes and it’s only a day. It’s a small investment, but it pays off. It makes a difference,” she said. In her campaign, Emond has
highlighted the changing demographics in the Plateau. She noted that the influx of new families in the area necessitates day-care services, breastfeeding rooms, and strollerfriendly sidewalks. “The moms and dads of today aren’t the moms and dads of yesterday,” she said. Québec Solidaire candidate for Westmount—Saint Louis Nadia Alexan downplayed the importance of her party’s pro-sovereignty agenda to curious students. “We don’t have the same cowboy ideology they have in [western Canada],” Alexan said. “But let’s talk about the issues. Even if we get [elected] a referendum isn’t going to
happen tomorrow.” Alexan explained that Québec Solidaire wants to increase corporate tax, regulate private corporations, prioritize environmental protection over financial gain, and provide education and housing for all citizens. “We believe the economy should be in the service of human beings, not vice versa,” Alexan said. “It’s one big mess in this country, with corporate greed and the collusion of our government.” The event attracted six candidates: three Liberals, one Green, one Quebec Solidaire, and one Action Démocratique. No candidates from the Parti Québécois attended. SSMU sent invitations to all the parties.
Synthesizing the Quebec election: parties and platforms Action Démocratique (ADQ) Parti Libéral (PLQ)
Quebec Solidaire (QS)
Jean Charest: Premier of Quebec since April 2003, he barely held onto his Eastern Townships seat when his government was reduced to a minority in March 2007. The Federal Progressive Conservative leader in the mid-1990s, Charest traded leadership roles and took up the head of the Quebec Liberals in 1998, becoming premier five years later. He is running to get a majority so he can tackle the economic crisis.
Pauline Marois: Marois has had a lengthy political career, representing three provincial ridings, heading three ministries – including finance twice – and running in three PQ leadership races. He finally won the third time by acclamation in June 2007 after the federal Bloc Québéois’s leader, Gilles Duceppe, dropped out of the race fewer than 24 hours after entering it. Marois has stressed strengthening use of French.
Guy Rainville: Rainville joined the Québec Green Party in 2004 and was elected vicepresident of the party in October 2007. He is proposing fixed-date, proportional representation elections, the decentralization of much authority to regions, and a revised tax system, as well as a detailed environmental platform.
Françoise David and Amir Khadir:
The ADQ spends many pages of its platform extolling the virtues of independent university governance structures. There are some tangential mentions of the importance of university research, such as for emerging green technology.
The Liberals propose hiring more professors, investing in education, health, and environmental sciences, and increasing initiatives to attract foreign students. In an effort to keep international students in Quebec after graduation, they’re going to improve the immigration process with selection certificates.
The tuition freeze would be back on. Not only that, but flexibility for payment time has also been suggested. The PQ is also promising to improve the immigration process to attract more foreign students. Student aid is a platform priority, with the party pledging to increase financial aid with the cost of living.
The Greens want to reduce the time required by university graduates in teaching school to one year before they are able to teach grade school. They also want to increase technical programs in the trades and move professional training to CEGEPs, and finance part-time training in those fields.
QS wants to eliminate tuition fees and drastically increase funding in financial aid. The party also wants to heavily reinvest directly in universities, fixing what it calls the current underfunding.
ADQ plans to invest in HydroQuébec, improve the investment climate, work out an infrastructure investment plan, and secure an optout for federal employment insurance so it can be managed provincially, like the governmental pension plan.
The Liberal’s Economic Action Plan ups infrastructure investments by ten per cent, institutes gender parity on the board of administrators of all Crown corporations and government agencies, and raises minimum wage by a loonie an hour, among other promises.
They’re propping up areas for investment, seeking out new energy resources, aiming to create 700,000 jobs by 2011, and introducing a tax credit for mortgage interest payments.
The Green Party wants to invest in an environmental economy, where bio-agriculture is developped, and ensure public-private partnerships are more strictly watched. They also want to nationalize water extraction to keep the profits local.
QS promises to invest in public transportation, renewable energy, and green agriculture. They also want to increase taxes on nonemployment income, corporations, and luxury products while expanding the “essential” products exempted from provincial sales tax.
With no section specifically on the environment in its platform, the ADQ talks a lot about “respecting” the environment in doing whatever else it is supporting, including cutting trees and producing and transporting natural gas. It also supports more hydro electricity, wind farms, and nuclear power. It also supports limiting public transit workers from striking.
The PLQ has no real climate change initiatives, but they want to plant 100-million trees up North, in theory creating a carbon sink. They’re also launching their Northern Plan, the “biggest economic project north of the 49th parallel ever launched in Quebec.” The plan focuses on resource extraction and mining development. They intend to improve transportation in the city by increasing city-suburb transit services.
The PQ is focused on renewable energies, improved public transportation, and protecting fresh water resources. It also plans to increase protected lands to 12 per cent of the area of the province, and to reverse the Liberal’s decision to sell part of the Mount Orford provincial park to private developers.
The Green Party wants to cut emissions by three per cent a year, to in effect reduce emissions by 30 per cent to meet Kyoto objectives by 2020. They’re also talking about a $40-billion transport package to be phased in over the next 20 years, among other initiatives.
The party wants to charge the full public costs for the use of natural resources, such as water, air, and land, and reinvest the money in public programs. It also wants to reinforce regulations on automobile pollution and encourage the development of electric cars.
Party leader education
Parti Vert (GRN)
Mario Dumont: Playing on the fears of xenophobic Quebeckers, Dumont rose to leader of the official opposition 20 months ago, the first time neither the PQ nor the Liberals held the position since 1973. The ADQ’s leader for 14 years, and for eight years the only elected member of his party, this right-wing politician has a vision for an “autonomous” Quebec.
Parti Québécois (PQ)
Co-spokespeople David and Khadir are the faces of this progressive, sovereignist party founded in 2006. Calling the party an alternative to what they say are the right-wing policies of the three major parties, Khadir and David are concentrating on winning their neighbouring ridings just east of downtown.
– compiled by Alison Withers
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
SSMU Council’s last gathering of the semester tackles a jampacked agenda and votes on 10 motions Erin Hale The McGill Daily
ouncil debated two motions Thursday that divvy up the work of the VP Finance and Operations, as there will be no replacement when current VP Finance Tobias Silverstein resigns on January 2. “We’re in a bit of a constitutional hole,” SSMU President Kay Turner said, describing the motion. She acknowledged that while the motion would be a quick fix, it could be amended in the future if Council found it unsatisfactory. The two motions divide up the portfolio of the VP Finance between the Executive, and creates an oversight Finance Committee. councillors Staz Moroz and Ryan Tomicic agreed this was the best option, because an election would be impractical this late in the year given the portfolio’s steep learning curve and the proximity to the election for next year’s executive. However, Alexandre Shee, VP External for the Law Students Association, strongly disagreed with the motion due to the precedent it would set. He criticized Council’s second motion to create a Finance and Operations Review Committee that would oversee the “distribution of responsibilities” in the executive’s handling of finance responsibilities. He argued the committee’s composition – four councillors and three external members – did not adequately represent student interest. Clubs and Services rep Alexandra Brown disagreed with Shee. “If everybody really wanted to be involved
in McGill, they could. To say we’re going to have a huge sweep of people involved in this porfolio is idealistic,” she said. Both motions passed.
Ballot box rights After several out-of-province students complained about trying to register to vote in the federal election, SSMU decided to send a listserv Friday that explained students’ voting rights in the December 8 provincial election. Devin Alfaro VP External explained that while in most provinces, voters must simply show proof of residence, Quebec requires that a voter’s “domicile” – or legal place of residence– be in province. An individual can establish their domicile if they have resided in Quebec for six months. “A number of students have tried to register and heard ‘No, no, no, you’re not a resident’. [But] students can vote where they are residing for the purpose of study,” Alfaro explained. “If students want to vote here and consider themselves residents, they certainly have the right to vote, and that’s not being respected.”
Choose Life crosses the line? SSMU’s Student Equity Committee received several complaints after Choose Life’s first event on Tuesday where McGill Security stopped protesting students. The SSMU-approved interim club set up at the crossroads with a display on fetal development and asked students when they thought a fetus became human. VP University Affairs Nadya Wilkinson noted that if the group violates Equity policy, they could be penalized, though a committee ruling has not happened yet. “We can shut down funding, or ask
for a person to be suspended from the group,” she said. “We’re not sure at what level the [Equity Committee’s ruling] would have to be brought back to Council. But we know there would be an unwillingness to take steps that would seem controversial without taking them to Council.”
Café Suprême The lease for Café Suprême – which will replace Caferama on the first floor of Shatner – has yet to be signed. Silverstein didn’t expect that the lease would be signed by January 2 as proposed, although Turner said they are currently working with a lawyer. Shee again voiced comments criticizing the amount of time and money being wasted on the process.
Investment goes blue? The economic downturn overshadowed Silverstein’s report of the SSMU investment committee, in which he encouraged SSMU to buy blue chip stocks while prices were down. Some councillors were wary of investing in American stocks given the falling value of the dollar, and supported exploring Canadian blue chip companies.
Salvaging Pound A motion to censure Dick Pound’s infamous sauvage comment, brought forward by Alfaro and Wilkinson, failed in a nine-to-nine secret vote. Councillors debated whether the motion would violate SSMU’s by-laws, which mandate neutrality on divisive issues. “[Pound] is a representative of a university, and we don’t want a representative who can’t hold his tongue. His comments have brought a lot of attention to McGill that he hasn’t
addressed at all,” said Alfaro, explaining the motion. “I think it would be a cop out if we said we condemn what he did and don’t stand publicly behind the position.” However, James Desjardins, U1 Law, said he was against the motion because Pound has been been such a champion of student rights in the past. “By alienating the strongest student advocate for student rights and initiatives in the administration, you’re bringing greater harm on the student body, including the [affected] minority,” Desjardins said. A second motion asking for an open forum with Pound to “critically discuss McGill University’s attitudes toward Aboriginal peoples” did pass, in spite a criticism from SSMU VP Clubs and Services Samantha Cook that it was “too weak.”
Amnesty for Queen’s Muslim students Council unanimously approved an open letter to Queen’s University calling for its administration to take a greater role in addressing anti-Islamic crimes against the University’s Muslim students. Lisa Greenspoon, U3 Law, commented on the September events at Queen’s. “These are not isolated incidents.... Space has been broken into and vandalized; ‘Muslim students should die’ has been written on posters; there are incidents of female, hijab-wearing students sexually harassed on campus; and an attempt [has been made] to break into [Muslim student space] with a chainsaw,” said Greenspoon. She added Queen’s Muslim Students Association (QMSA) felt their administration’s response was too “generic.”
Students tightly split on ancillary fees Nicholas Smith The McGill Daily
hile SSMU’s three referendum questions on student fees failed to reach quorum, results indicated that students are willing to pay to improve services through the Administration’s ancillary fees. Two ancillary fee increases, which were not subject to a quorum requirement, split by razor-thin margins. Students voted 53.5 per cent to 45.6 per cent against increasing the application fees for prospective undergraduates, while voting 51.7 to 47.6 per cent in favour of increasing the Student Services Fee – which will increase funding for student health, the Office for Students with Disabilities, and the Student Aid Office. Though he had hoped for a different outcome, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) Morton Mendelson was happy with the professionalism
SSMU displayed during the referenda. “[Obviously] I was disappointed that one of the items was defeated,” Mendelson said. “I was really impressed with the seriousness that SSMU Council and the Executive took with implementing the process of this referendum.” Mendelson said that a general lack of information was problematic with the ancillary fee questions. “I would have liked to be able to explain some of these fees, and explain what I called ‘trade-offs,’” said Mendelson. “If students had more information then that might be useful.” Even SSMU President Kay Turner and VP University Affairs Nadya Wilkinson admitted during Thursday’s SSMU Council meeting that they had misunderstood a third ancillary fee increase that was not asked due to an error introduced during the drafting process. “[The administration] thought the fee was inflationary, but they didn’t give us much information to that
effect,” said Wilkinson. Wilkinson added that it wasn’t until a private meeting with Mendelson that she and Turner finally understood the question, which prompted them to reintroduce the increase to the Information Technology and Administrative Charges at Council. The motion passed in spite of objections by VP External Devin Alfaro and LSA VP External Alexandre Shee that ancillary fees should be voted on by students. Mendelson, however, was happy that SSMU will let cost of living increases to ancillary fees be decided by Council. “I was particularly pleased with the provision that the Executive and Council could approve cost of living increases,” said Mendelson. “SSMU’s definition of ‘cost of living’ was surprisingly refreshing.” Council members also grilled Elections McGill Chief Electoral Officer Nicole Gileadi over the low turnout, wondering why there were fewer advertisements to commuting
students, posters, and polling stations than in previous referendum periods. Mendelson said there would be more requests for fee increases in the Winter semester – though he would not disclose which fees would be brought to referendum. “In the winter we’re going to back to students regarding the fees for next term,” he said. However, the SSMU constitution states that fee increases can only be voted on in the Fall semester unless Council gives two-thirds approval. The results for fee renewals for the McGill Undergraduate Students’ Fund – which finances bursaries and libraries, the Athletics and Recreation Facilities Improvement Fund, and a fee increase for the Quebec Public Interest Research Group-McGill, were sealed after the questions failed to reach quorum. The questions may be readdressed in the Winter semester, but no earlier. – with files from Erin Hale
WHAT’S THE HAPS
Finance portfolio restructured as Silverstein bails
Indy class on student movements Each week next semester 2009, time and place TBA A cooperative, student-run course on student movements, politics, and activism is looking for interested people. Indy Class coordinates students undertaking officially recognized independent study programs on similar themes to meet regularly and discuss their research. International Multicultural Colloquium Wednesday, December 3 and Thursday, December 4, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 3700 McTavish, Room 129 Listen to keynote Dr. Carlos Alberto Torres on diversity and critical issues in education for the next decade. Year of Paper Tuesday, December 9, 7:30 p.m. Lev Bukhman Room, 2nd floor Shatner, 3480 McTavish Divergence Movie Night in collaboration with Queer McGill presents The Year of Paper. When officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, this country went to war over a word. How different is a “gay marriage” from a heterosexual one? The Year of Paper chronicles the newlywed year of three couples – lesbian, heterosexual, and gay – exploring why they got married and how saying “I Do” has changed their relationships. Young at Heart Friday, December 5, doors open at 7:30 p.m., concert at 8 p.m. Birks Building, 3520 University Tickets are $7 for students and seniors, and $9 for adults. Join Soulstice, an a cappella group, take a trip down memory lane. They will be looking back on their favourite childhood memories and performing their usual brand of gorgeous and fun a cappella music. Get tested for HIV Monday, December 1, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. 5833 Sherbrooke O Get tested for STDs during Head & Hands’s second free anonymous HIV/AIDS testing in partnership with the McGill Shag Shop. Action in solidarity with Adil Charkaoui Wednesday, December 10, 12 p.m. Federal Court, 30 Rue McGill Part of a cross-Canada day of action against security certificates, which the government uses to detain non-citizens. Adil Charkaoui is a Montrealer who has been named under a security certificate for the past five years. His public trial continues next week. Send your not-for-profit event details to news@mcgilldaily. com with “haps” in the subject line. The first issue next semester will be published January 12, so get your haps in before January 9 at 4 p.m.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Demonstrators denounce violence in sex work Trial against businessman accused of assault marks Montreal’s recognition of sex worker rights Shannon Kiely The McGill Daily
omen clad in black jackets and red boas called for the end of violence against sex workers at a small demonstration outside of the Montreal Courthouse Wednesday. Inside, Giovanni D’Amico, a middle-aged small businessman, was on trial for sexually assaulting Montreal sex workers between 2001 and 2008. When D’Amico was originally charged in July, four sex workers had come forward to the police with accusations. But both the police and Stella – a Montreal organization created for and by sex workers – suspected D’Amico may have assaulted more women. They urged those with information to alert the police. “We want to tell sex workers they have to bring complaints to the police [about violence and sexual abuse by clients]. It’s not a lost cause. Violence shouldn’t be part of the job,” said Elsa Le Maire, the director of Stella. Three sex workers will testify against D’Amico in the trial. The 25 women at the protest, staged by Stella, participated in solidarity with the sex workers abused by D’Amico. Matthew McLauchlin, a member of the NDP’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transexual (LGBTT) committee, encouraged Stella and the sex workers demonstrating, and commended the community for respecting their demands. “It’s great that these complaints by sex workers have finally been taken
seriously. It happens all too rarely,” McLauchlin said. Dealing with police officers is often challenging for sex workers because prostitution is criminalized in Quebec, Le Maire said – though she was impressed with the way the police handled the D’Amico case. “The police are becoming more and more responsive,” she said. “But for some sex workers, it’s a doubleedged sword. They see the police as their enemy since sex work is criminal, but the police are also supposed to protect them.” La Maire pointed to clauses in the criminal code – such as those that criminalize bawdy houses – that make sex work dangerous. According to Stella, current conditions hamper safety and make it difficult for sex workers to judge their clients. Disturbed by the 50 sex workers who have disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, McLauchlin remarked on the national lack of attention paid to violence against sex workers. “If 50 bankers went missing, it would be a national emergency. But since it’s sex workers, it’s allowed to pass in silence,” he said. Sorouja Moll, a Concordia PhD student in history and gender studies, and attendee of the event, commended Stella for providing an inviting forum for often isolated sex workers. “In the seventeenth century, prostitutes were flogged, and it was a spectacle. That type of abuse and brutality can become so normalized in our lexicon and it’s just accepted. [The trial] says that it’s wrong,” she said.
Tyler Ye for The McGill Daily
Demonstrators support sex workers who say working in pairs would keep them safe on the job.
Quebec Bar permitted to intervene in Charkaoui hearing Public trial continues despite lack of adequate CSIS evidence Max Halparin The McGill Daily
arly into Adil Charkaoui’s public hearing Friday, Judge Tremblay-Lamer ruled that the Quebec Bar Association (BQ) could intervene in the constitutionality of the new security certificate law, Bill C-3. The BQ asked to intervene in favour of Charkaoui two months after he contested the constitutionality of the security certificate law. The government uses security certificates to detain non-citizens under threat of deportation, even when it is understood that their deportation
may lead to torture or death in their home country. “He should not be under these conditions because the law under which he is detained is not constitutional,” said Johanne Doyon, Charkaoui’s lawyer, after the proceedings. Charkaoui – a Moroccan-born father of three who has lived in Montreal since 1995 and completed his Master’s degree in French in 2006 – has never been charged under the Criminal Code. He spent two years in jail after being named under a security certificate in 2003, and currently faces strict conditions of house arrest. For instance, Charkaoui must wear a GPS tracker-ankle bracelet and be accompanied by one of his parents at all times. He does not have access to the Internet, cell phones, or fax machines and cannot leave the island of Montreal.
When the public hearings resume on December 9, Charkaoui’s lawyers will challenge these severe conditions, and also focus on the problems with the summaries of evidence against Charkaoui provided by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). In June, Supreme Court stated that CSIS must provide real evidence – more than just summaries of evidence in security certificate cases. “We will cross-examine the government witnesses to show failure of disclosure by the summary,” Doyon said. When Tremblay-Lamer ordered CSIS to submit its evidence to her in a secret trial on October 27, CSIS requested an additional six months to do so. The Judge has not yet seen CSIS’s evidence against Charkaoui, yet the public hearings continue. Further, in
the nearly six years Charkaoui has been under a security certificate, neither he nor his lawyers have seen the evidence against him. During the proceedings, Tremblay-Lamer introduced the idea of two “phases” to the public hearings, one without, and a second with CSIS’s secret evidence – a notion Doyon dismissed. Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui member Mary Foster said the Tremblay-Lamer used the “phase” idea in an attempt to legitimize a public trial without any evidence. “It’s like a parallel universe where there’s no legal precedence,” Foster said of the hearings. About 40 people attended the proceedings, during which TremblayLamer routinely interrupted Charkaoui’s lawyers, who, at different times, specifically requested they be able to complete their sentences.
Following the proceedings, Charkaoui also noted the lack of definitions for terms like “terrorism,” “groups,” “contacts,” and “national security” as a major problem in security certificate law. “In this Medieval law, nothing is defined,” Charkaoui said in French. Despite C-3’s introduction of a Special Advocate – a lawyer privy to secret evidence, which they are not allowed to share with detainees, and who has no obligation to client confidentiality – the new security certificate law still violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled the certificates unconstitutional in February 2007, but suspended their decision for one year, and the Conservatives were able to push C-3 through before the Supreme Court’s decision came into effect this February.
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The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Disabled airline passengers get a second seat Courtney Graham News Writer
he major Canadian airlines will be required to offer disabled and obese passengers a second seat at no charge if required for medical reasons. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Air Canada, its regional carrier Jazz, and WestJet to overturn a Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruling requiring implementation of the policy by January 10. The ruling only affects domestic flights, and only applies to the three carriers, but many believe cases against other airlines will easily succeed if a nation-wide policy is not instituted. Air Canada and WestJet both said they would comply with the ruling. Difficulty in drafting a policy stems from the fact that some of those individuals who are requesting an extra free seat are considered to be obese, and there has been controversy over what constitutes clinicallydefined obesity. Yoni Freedhoff, Director of the Bariatric Medical Institute and an expert consultant for the Canadian Obesity Network, explained that categorizations for obesity vary. “Class III obesity would be a BMI over 40, class I is over 30. [But] in India [for example], it’s classified as a BMI over 25,” he said, adding that countries have varying standards because they have different definitions of health. Problems also arise when one considers that not all people who are considered to be obese are disabled because they are mobile and can
function without aid. “There are people who are at a certain weight who are functioning and have no disability,” said Freedhoff. Regardless of whether or not they are functioning or require assistance, many people do not consider obesity a disability. The justification is that a person’s obesity was most likely caused by a behaviour, unlike someone who is disabled who cannot perceptibly help their situation. Freedhoff was frustrated by this attitude. “Causality is not the issue at hand. They should certainly qualify for the same benefits that another disabled person will have,” he said. “People seem to have this belief that causality matters. I don’t think people would ask the spinal cord patient whether or not they were driving drunk.” Complication also arises in deciding who sets the standard for obese customers receiving extra seats on planes. “At what point and how will you decide who will be the arbiter of whether or not a person’s obesity qualifies as disabled?” asked Freedhoff. This uncertainty is reflected in the difficulty airlines have had with defining standards for disabled persons to receive their extra free seat. “We are trying to develop some sort of criteria. I will admit that is challenging, [because] it’s up to the airlines to develop this criteria,” said Robert Palmer, Manager of Public Relations at WestJet. Because WestJet executives are not obesity experts, the airline has sought consultation from outside professionals and group
THANK YOU The Daily’s News Editors would like to thank all of our contributors this semester. This paper would be nothing without each and every one of you, and we thank you for your generous hours and hours of hard work. We wish you the best of luck with your exams, hope you will enjoy your time off, and can’t wait to see you again next semester for our first issue. With undying love, Ali, Erin, Nicholas, Shannon James Albaugh, Sarah Babbage, Stephanie Bauduhin, Ian Becker, Jeff Bishku-Aykul, Nico Block, Nikki Bozinoff, Emily Clare, Elizabeth Cody, Lina Crompton, Andrea Damiano, Alexandra Dodger, Kelly Ebbels, Lendon Ebbels, Ethan Feldman, Maria Forti, Henry Gass, Myles Gaulin, Braden Goyette, Janina Grabs, Courtney Graham, Max Halparin, Sarina Isenberg, Ashley Joseph, Mookie Kideckel, Adrienne Klasa, David Koch, Matthias Lalisse, Hayley Lapalme, John Lapsley, Ariel Lefkowitz, Yi Ariel Liu, Ryan Mackellar, Lucy Mair, Julie Mannell, Jennifer Markowitz, Charles Mostoller, Breanna Myles, Sam Neylon, Olga Redko, Madeleine Ritts, Amelia Schonbeck, Jaya Sundaresh, Natascia Tamburello, Morgan Teeple Hopkins, Genevieve Theodorakis, Kartiga Thiyagarajah, Giuseppe Valiante, Will Vanderbilt, Ambreen Walji
Matthew Park for The McGill Daily
Unfortunately, campus security guards don’t have a snooze button.
Security busts snoozing students Breanna Myles News Writer
s sleepy students pile into the library this exam season, they are likely to be confronted by campus security guards waking them up if they chose to take a quick catnap. Joseph Watts, U3 English Literature and Art History, and Daily columnist, long accustomed to catching up on sleep in the library, was woken up by a Campus Security guard when he had put his head down for a brief nap two weeks ago. The guard shook his shoulder to wake him and told him, without a supporting explanation, “there is no sleeping in the library.” He is one of many students who have been aroused from library naps this year. “I don’t really see why it’s a problem because I’m being quieter than I would normally be,” said Watts. According to Janine Schmidt, Director of Libraries, McGill libraries do not have a policy on napping. She said restrictions derive from campus security, which enforces the policy to avoid theft. She claimed that unless a student’s belongings seem in jeopardy they are allowed to nap freely. Schmidt contacted Campus
Security requesting that they explain to students why they are woken up. Although campus security was unavailable for comment, a security guard in McLennan asserted that “the library is a place for studying, not sleeping.” Yet the guard added that as that as long as students were not lying down, taking up more than their required space, or interrupting other students, security would not disturb them. Stephen Davis, U3 Religious Studies and Daily Photography editor, who lives in the Plateau, said that it is impractical to return home in the middle of the day to nap and illogical that students are restricted from benign activities, like napping, on campus. Davis was busted by campus security during exam period last spring for dozing with his head on his arms in McLennan Library. “I already feel that my schoolwork dictates my sleep schedule, so when I finally have some free time to sleep, I intend to use it,” said Davis. “It’s frustrating to be denied the choice on how to use my time.” Most of McGill’s undergraduate student study areas, however, provide space on campus that encourage napping. Students frequently sleep in
faculty or department lounges, or the SSMU lounge. AUS External Hanchu Chen invited students to nap in the Arts Lounge. “The Arts Lounge is exactly what its name suggests. It is a lounge where can people can hang out, study or nap… Students paid their fees to use it, so they can use it as they wish, as long as they are considerate to the need of others,” Chen said. The SSMU lounge is also known for its comfortable couches and napfriendly environment. According to SSMU VP University Affairs, Nadya Wilkinson, there is no reason to restrict sleeping in the SSMU lounge, especially when there are markedly fewer places where students are permitted to sleep on campus than to study. “Sleep is often too hard to fit in to a busy schedule,” Wilkinson said, noting that because so many students live far from campus, it is necessary for the campus to offer them a place to nap. Wilkinson added that the lounge is extremely important to academic life on campus, and that naps are important in some students’ demanding academic lives.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Every robot for itself Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily
Daniel Lametti Sci+Tech writer
ou got time, you got time,” a student nervously repeated as he watched his teammate work a joystick that maneuvered a small robot around a course set up in the McConnell lobby. The robot, built by a group of mechanical engineering students from Professor Peter Radziszewski’s Conceptual Design Class, had drawn a crowd. About 30 students, two of them filming the event with digital video cameras, packed three deep around the course, jostling to catch a glimpse of the action. In the department of Mechanical Engineering, Radziszewski’s robot design competition, held on a recent Friday afternoon, is a serious affair, and not just because his students are being graded. The rules of the contest are taken from a similar event run each year by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering
(ASME). And the McGill team that finishes at the top of Radziszewski’s class has a chance to compete at the ASME regional competition in the spring. “This year’s competition is called ‘Mars Rocks,’” said Radziszewski. Teams build a remotely controlled vehicle that is able to traverse obstacles (pieces of wood placed on the floor), collect rocks (crumpled pieces of tinfoil), deposit the rocks in a target (a bulls-eye marked on the floor with tape), and then park. All within four minutes, he explained. At the event, an overhead projected the scores onto a wall. They were calculated from a simple algorithm (S = å(R*t) +1000P - W - A - 1000T 5s) provided by ASME; some teams had faired better than others. Only a few of the groups had managed to place multiple rocks in the target and one unfortunate group had a score of negative 6844. Even so, this year the competition to qualify for regionals was greater than ever. One team arrived in the morning to discover
that their robot’s “servo” had mysteriously seized during the night. They frantically ordered a part from robotshop.ca; it was delivered by courier and arrived just in time. Another team brought in a ringer: a brother, who makes seismographs for a living, and is apparently a “soldering expert,” drove in from Ottawa to help. “Good fucking job, eh,” a student from Radziszewski’s class remarked as a teaching assistant hovering over the course with a stopwatch signaled time. “Yo,” his teammate replied, “that was fast.” Their group – “Team 2” – had placed five rocks in the target area, three more than the next closest group, putting them several thousand points ahead of the competition. Third year student Chris Wong’s group – “Team 17” – had yet to compete. To save on weight, they had gambled on their robot’s design: instead of joining the wheels together with metal tank treads, like the majority of the other teams, they had simply
used a thick elastic band. “Treads are more reliable,” Wong admitted. But the elastics ensured that their robot weighed less than Team 2’s, meaning that they could win the contest simply by placing the same number of rocks on target. The crowd, which had dispersed throughout the McConnell lobby while Radziszewski calculated Team 2’s score, surged toward the line of yellow caution tape surrounding the course as Wong readied his group’s robot. With a squeal of rubber on ceramic, and the whirr of an electric engine, the robot was off, Wong methodically working the joystick while his teammates fed him instructions. As the robot slowly moved around the course gathering rocks, it quickly became clear that Team 17 had built a contender. With time to spare, they were on track to match Team 2’s count and maybe even get the “parking bonus” – a 1,000 point reward for parking the robot in the same spot it started. Crucially, the elastic band
gamble appeared to be working; not only were the bands holding up, but they were gripping the wooden obstacles better than the other teams’ tank treads, powering the vehicle over the strewn wood to grab rocks that most teams couldn’t reach. With 20 seconds left Team 17’s robot had five rocks placed and Wong appeared to be steering the vehicle towards a sixth. “Leave it,” his teammate shouted, “get the bonus!” The crowd, now counting down with the clock – “ten, nine, eight” – leaned in over the caution tape – “seven, six, five” – as the robot slowly crawled toward its parking space – “four, three, two” – and with a flick of Wong’s thumb, performed a perfect parallel park just as the count reached “one.” A roar erupted from the crowd. Team 17 exchanged high fives. And Radziszewski, with a grin on his face, quickly added Team 17’s score to those already projected on the wall. This year’s contest had a new leader.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Diamonds: a dime a dozen A new way to create diamonds could change the world
Shannon Paulus Sci+Tech writer
team of geophysicists at the Carnegie Institution for Science is perfecting a cheap way to create large diamonds. In his paper, “On the way to mass-scale production of perfect bulk diamonds,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Alexander Zaitsev stated that the method could cause a technological revolution. “A profound impact of this innovation on industry (electronics, optics, thermal management, precise cutting), medicine (diamond scalpel surgery), and jewelry (cheap large brilliants) is difficult to overestimate,” he wrote. The new method, begins with a tiny “seed” diamond, which acts as a landing point for other minute crystals floating around as gas. As more and more crystals land on the seed, a larger and larger diamond is created. The process occurs at temperatures above 1,700 degrees celsius, intense heat being one of the only conditions under which diamonds are malleable. While the ability to synthesize diamonds has existed for decades, the new breakthrough involves low
pressure processing conditions. It is cheaper, and far more efficient than past procedures for growing diamonds. A major advantage of the new method is that it avoids the breakdown of the diamond structure into graphite, a problem which plagued previous attempts at synthesizing diamonds. Geophysicist Yan Chih-shiue, of the Carnegie institution of Washington, and a researcher on the team that developed the technique, is confident that the method will eventually replace diamond mining. “[The method] is still progressing, and will overcome the disadvantages of the [previous] high pressure, high temperature method, and of mining diamonds,” he said in an interview with the daily. “Mined diamonds vary in quality, and in size. Over five carat is very rare, and it is becoming more expensive to explode old mines and locate new mines.” Not only could the new method be cheaper and more efficient, but it could also do away with the harm caused by diamond mining in countries without strict regulations. According to a report by the Diamond Development Initiative, diamond mining in unregulated areas – such as the huge alluvial deposits of Africa – can be a source of environmental degradation and social conflict.
“Diggers, many of them children, face appalling working conditions. Residents of mining areas complain of environmental degradation, water pollution, and the influx of migrant labour, with high rates of prostitution and HIV/AIDS, and too often family and societal violence follow,” the report stated, speaking of the conditions facing over 200,000 workers in Africa. Aside from social improvements that could come from lab-made diamonds, there is a potential for improvements in the diamonds themselves. Because of their flawlessness, lab grown diamonds are more brilliant – or colourful – than mined diamonds. They are also structurally perfect. Combined with their affordability, their optical and structural quality will make them suited to many applications, from the Carnegie institute’s own mineral processing machinery, to engagement rings. Since the diamonds are highly transparent they could be used in lasers as a window for outgoing light. Diamonds can also be produced to have parts of their carbon structure replaced with nitrogen, a quality which gives them a pink color. The nitrogen diamonds, along with their perfect nano-scale structure, suggest the possibility for diamond use in future quantum computing – a field
which could theoretically revolutionize computation, but which lacks the technological know-how to make theory reality. With the aid of rosy synthetic diamonds, we could soon find ourselves in an era of information stored on the atomic scale, within diamonds themselves. In the meantime though, the synthetic crystal industry is all about increasing the carats. And as for future challenges for the Carnegie Institutes geophysical engineer team, Researcher Yufei Meng says that it’s all about “Making the diamonds bigger.”
Lindsay Waterman / The McGill Daily
The method has implications beyond engagement rings.
Harper asks Obama to ignore oilsand devestation But can we blame him? Jackie Grom Sci+Tech writer
ithin 24 hours of Barack Obama’s election, the Canadian government dropped a carrot in front of the face of change. Prime Minister Stephen Harper proposed that Canada seek a joint climate change pact with the U.S., intending to exempt Alberta oil sands from potentially strict new climate change regulation while also offering a secure oil supply. The pact could help to initiate large-scale mechanisms for mitigating rising carbon emissions, but could also ignore the environmental impact of the oil sands. Alberta oil sands contain one of the world’s largest oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia. Recent growth in production has positioned Canada as the number one oil sup-
plier to the United States, fulfilling 19 per cent of the country’s oil consumption. However, this growth has also contributed to Canada’s increasing carbon emissions and inability to meet Kyoto Protocol targets; Environment Canada has recently identified the oil sands as the largest contributor to growth in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Oil sands are problematic because they don’t allow oil to be freely pumped from the ground. The oil is found in bitumen, a sticky semisolid, which is encased in sand and rock. Extracting and refining bitumen takes a great deal of energy: according to a 2005 report issued by the Pembina Institute, an environmental research and advocacy organization, the oil sands daily consume enough natural gas to heat 3.2-million Canadian homes over the same period. Because of this intensive production process, one barrel of oil sand can produce two to three times more carbon dioxide than a barrel of conventional Albertan oil, although this value can vary significantly.
Dr. Robert Page, TransAlta Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability at the University of Calgary, said that conventional sources also have a carbon problem. “There are significant emissions in terms of the transportation. And if you look at Venezuela or Saudi Arabia or some of other OPEC suppliers for the United States as alternatives to the oil sands, then you have gas just being flared in those oil fields…. There are significant emissions in addition to the production of oil,” Page said. Page also noted that regulations are lax in many OPEC countries, but just how lax is poorly understood. It’s difficult estimate what has happened to emissions now that the U.S. is looking to Canada for oil instead of reserves that are further away or less regulated. The environmental impacts of oil sands are not limited to emissions. Surface mining – the predominant form of oil sand extraction – requires complete vegetation clearing and water drainage, making the once
lush surface into something moonlike. Wastewater is collected in toxic tailings ponds that have grown so large that they can now be seen by the naked eye from space. A 2008 Environmental Defense report states that many ponds are leaking and creating a “slow motion oil spill in the region’s river systems.” Jennifer Grant, a Policy Analyst in the Pembina Institute’s Oil Sands Program, is concerned that the oil sand companies are not cleaning up after themselves. “Reclamation has been poor to date in terms of land impacts. There have been about 500 square kilometres of land disturbed by mining, but in 40 years of development only one square kilometre has been actually certified as reclaimed,” Grant said. Given the world’s addiction to oil, it is not likely that oil sand development will close down any time soon. Rather, many researchers are looking for ways to clean up oil sand operations to avoid penalization in future climate change plans. Any cleanup will be long term; carbon sequestration projects are underway, but full
carbon-neutrality for the oil sands could take several decades. Oil sand producers are also looking to incorporate renewable technologies to reduce the use of natural gas in oil sand production. Trying to keep up with the environmental initiatives of the new U.S. administration will likely prove difficult. According to Page, its environmental regulations could be unprecedented. “I think that everyone is expecting that the regulations are going to get tougher, it’s just a question of how tough,” Page predicted. President-Elect Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed his commitment to the environment and most recently fortified his intentions in a video message presented at the Global Climate Summit held last week in California by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, Obama has also often recognized the threat of foreign oil dependence on national security, and Canada will continue to hold strong cards in this category.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Gottë waxes on world AIDS crisis Retroviral medication improves, but only for the rich Charles-Olivier Basile Sci+Tech writer
ith access to the right medication, HIV is no longer a death sentence. Since the beginning of the pandemic, researchers and pharmaceutical companies have been developing anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) which, while not a cure, are pivotal in keeping viral count low and CD4+ cells high. CD4+ cells are the white blood cells that the virus destroys, and which keep the immune system fighting. If taken appropriately, the drugs can delay the onset of AIDS long enough for someone infected with HIV to die of old age. On Friday November 26, Professor Matthias Gottë from McGill’s Department of Immunology and Microbiology gave a lecture on HIV drug resistance as part of World AIDS Week. He highlighted the major problems with ARV treatments: “We have really potent drug regiments available, but, still, we have the problems of drug resistance and nonadherence,” he said.
Drug resistance results from HIV mutations that occur frequently during HIV replication. Although most mutations don’t effect the resistance of HIV to drugs, mutations leading to drug resistant HIV do exist and they are problematic. “Normally, these resistant viruses are compromised, but, in the presence of drugs, the resistant virus outgrows the others,” he said. With proper drug intake though, the virus rarely has the opportunity to mutate. Non-adherence – the term for patients’ failure to take drugs on schedule – aggravates the problem of drug resistance. According to Dr. Chesney from the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California, an ARV regiment must be taken at least 95 per cent of the time to effectively prevent the virus from replicating at an uncontrollable rate. Drug non-adherence leads to increased viral replication, which, according to Gottë, causes increased mutations and drug resistance. “If there is ongoing replication [of HIV], then there is eventually the
occurrence of resistant viruses,” he said. Preventing HIV drug resistance is very difficult, especially in countries where access to ARVs is limited and monitoring of drug adherence is virtually impossible. To make matters worse, a successful drug treatment is usually a cocktail of three or more ARVs. These have to be taken at specific times of the day and under certain dietary restrictions. Furthermore, the drugs have numerous side effects. Very recently, pharmaceutical companies have engineered a one-aday pill that contains three separate ARVs. This novel idea is a step forward to fight HIV in developing countries, but much more needs to be done. In North America, we have access to many drugs and are privileged with cutting-edge technology that enables doctors to sequence HIV in a patient. This way, doctors can check for mutations in the virus and prescribe effective treatment. But despite this headway in ARV research at home, the developing world is barely benefiting.
Lindsay Waterman / The McGill Daily
AIDS medication comes in complex drug cocktails.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Tradition, transmission, int Nikki Bozinoff and Jamie Lundine unpack the implications of male circumcision as potential HIV prevention
t is more than a cut. It is a lot of things really,” offers Stanley Riamit, a Kenyan completing his master’s in Anthropology at McGill. We’re chatting about male circumcision over coffee. Yes, circumcision, the surgical procedure which removes all or part of the penile foreskin. Beside Riamit sits Philip Osano, grinning knowingly. He is also Kenyan, and is completing his PhD in Geography at McGill. Riamit is a member of the Maasai community, a traditionally circumcising group, while Osano is of the Luo ethnic group, a traditionally non-circumcising community. Circumcision is a big deal in Kenya these days. Raila Odinga, the country’s prime minister, has publicly announced that he is circumcised. A host of Luo leaders have done the same, and clinics performing the service are reportedly drawing lineups. Why the sudden fanfare about a simple surgical procedure? Recent studies have proven that circumcised men have a decreased risk of acquiring HIV through penile-vaginal sex. Studies have yet to show whether male circumcision prevents the spread of HIV from men to their female partners, or if it is effective in reducing risk of infection during anal sex. According to UNAIDS, between 7.1 and 8.5 per cent of adults aged 15 to 49 in Kenya are HIV-positive. As Osano
describes, “Any strategy that is going to help you avoid HIV/AIDS, to reduce your risk, is going to be embraced.”
s early as 1989, just six years after AIDS was first identified, researchers identified the link between populations in Africa with high HIV prevalence and low rates of circumcision. But a simple correlation does not a public health intervention make. Like so many headlines that pass through the pages of epidemiological journals, this one was noted, and then dismissed as impractical. Throughout the 1990s, observational studies continued to suggest that traditionally circumcising populations had a lower risk of acquiring HIV, but numerous confounding variables troubled these findings. What if there were other cultural norms placing men in these groups at a lower risk of HIV infection? Still, researchers argued that if male circumcision really did have a protective effect, the implications could be huge – particularly in sub-Saharan African countries where there were low rates of male circumcision, and high prevalence of HIV infection. Clearly, more serious research was necessary. Between 2002 and 2003, three randomized control trials began in South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya. In each trial, consenting,
healthy, HIV-negative adult men were randomly assigned to receive circumcision immediately or to wait until the end of the trial to undergo the procedure. Both groups were then followed to assess HIV incidence. All participants were counselled in HIV prevention and riskreduction techniques, and were provided with condoms. The results of the trials were clear: The South African trial showed that HIV acquisition was reduced by 61 per cent in men who became circumcised compared with men who remained uncircumcised; 53 per cent in the Kenyan trial; and 51 per cent in the Ugandan trial. While international agencies had previously dragged their feet, citing the logistical and ethical problems of endorsing male circumcision as a means of prevention, evidence from the three randomized control trial helped make male circumcision a matter of human rights. In March 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS convened a consultation to examine the results of the aforementioned trials, and additional scientific evidence. The consultation reaffirmed the results of the trials – male circumcision reduces HIV transmission from women to men. In a UNAIDS and WHO document produced after the consultation, the participants of the consultation declared that “a human rights-based approach to the development or expansion of male circumcision services requires measures that ensure that
the procedure can be carried out safely, under conditions of informed consent, and without coercion or discrimination.” With UNAIDS and WHO recognizing the trials’ results, the stage was set for implementing circumcision as a preventative measure.
obert Bailey is a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of the principal authors of the Kenyan randomized control trial study. As far as he is concerned, there is overwhelming evidence suggesting that circumcision should be implemented as a means of prevention of female-tomale transmission in areas of high HIV prevalence and low circumcision. “I am completely convinced that the trials certainly show that circumcision reduces a man’s risk [of acquiring HIV]. Now the challenge is to see if it is actually going to be effective in rural settings,” Bailey says. But many aren’t convinced that enough research has been done. Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Associate Professor of Social Medicine at the University of Montreal, and an HIV physician and researcher, argues that since circumcision must be made available to everyone, and not just those men who are HIV negative, more research needs to be done on circumcision’s effect on HIV-positive men. In particular, he notes a study presented at the 2008 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. “[It] suggests that HIV-positive men take longer to heal and therefore if they’re circumcised, they actually have a greater chance of transmitting HIV to their partners,” Nguyen says. Nguyen cites concerns over how the intervention will play out. “We don’t have enough answers about what is going to happen when you do this in the real world, outside of a standardized control trial…. The devil is in the details,” Nguyen says.
Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
rguably the most controversial aspect of this intervention is that it targets males, further perpetuating the gender divide of the HIV epidemic. Since women are often blamed for bringing the virus into a family, offering widespread protection to men and not women may exacerbate this situation. As it stands, women overwhelmingly bear the burden of the HIV epidemic. They are both biologically and socially more vulnerable to HIV infection: the female anatomy simply puts women at greater risk, while economic dependence and lack of empowerment also contribute to HIV susceptibility. This is particularly evident in sub-Saharan Africa, where UNAIDS reports that women bear 60 per cent of HIV infections, compared to the global average of 50 per cent. Male circumcision is yet another preventative tool placed in men’s hands, that doesn’t address the gender disparity of the HIV epidemic. The context in which researchers and policymakers decide who and what gets funding has hindered the development of female-controlled prevention measures. Until recently, male researchers and decision-makers dominated the field of medical research, often causing femalecentred research to be overlooked. Even today, research into female-controlled prevention is limited to microbicides – gels, creams, rings, or suppositories that could be inserted or applied by women before sexual intercourse and would protect against the transmission of HIV and other STIs. Difficulty in negotiating condom use, lack of access to male condoms, and the prohibitive high cost of female condoms all point to the urgent need to develop innovative prevention methods. According to the Global Campaign for Microbicides, 11 products are currently being tested for their efficacy in humans; however, as of yet, no product has proven effective. There is a critical need for more research and funding for such products – but there is a risk that attention
on male circumcision may detract from research into microbicides or the development of other female-controlled interventions. Although Nguyen believes that male circumcision has not yet diverted research and money from female interventions, he stresses the need to consider this intervention as part of the larger social context in which HIV is transmitted. “The fact that we have been unable to protect women has to do with the fact that we have been looking for these very individual-focused interventions without addressing the context that men have control, that men have power,” Nguyen says. Bailey also acknowledges the possibility that male circumcision may propagate the gender divide. “If men feel that they are protected, maybe they’ll be less likely to use condoms, and they might impose condom-free sex on their partners.… Circumcision cannot be a stand-alone surgical procedure. It has to be integrated with all of our other prevention strategies,” Bailey says. On the other hand, Bailey and Nguyen both note that male circumcision may eventually benefit women. This is due to an effect termed “herd immunity,” normally used to describe the effects of widespread vaccination, whereby a population is protected as a result of the fact that many individuals have reduced likelihood of being infected. In this case, researchers predict that the protective effect of male circumcision cannot be 100 per cent, because the procedure only reduces risk, and does not eliminate it. Further, benefits are dependent on the rate of male circumcision in a given population. Because this intervention is only beginning to be offered, there is no “real world” evidence of how soon women will begin to see benefits. In their article “Understanding the Impact of Male Circumcision Interventions on the Spread of HIV in Southern Africa,” Hallet et al. use mathematical modelling to predict the reduction in
the spread of HIV if the rate of male circumcision in a given population increases significantly. They conclude that over a 15 to 20-year period, with a population circumcision rate of 50 per cent, there would be an approximate 20 per cent reduction in HIV infection rates in the general population.
ut as Bailey notes, male circumcision must not be viewed as a magic bullet, standalone solution, but as part of an integrated approach to HIV prevention. Osano expresses his fears of what will happen if male circumcision is not marketed along-side other prevention messages. “My fear is that people might start seeing this as a panacea…particularly the young people. There needs to be a very clear educational program that tells people that this is just one of the ways to reduce your risk…. I think that’s not coming out clearly. I think the media has not picked this up; I think the leaders are not putting it across the way it should be put,” Osano says.
et male circumcision is being rolled out as a preventative measure in a very real way. Already, clinics in Kenya are providing the service, and other countries – Swaziland, Rwanda, and Zambia – are looking to offer circumcision in the near future. Speaking about the intervention in western Kenya, Bailey cites the healthcare system’s lack of capacity as the main impediment to successful development of the procedure. “One of the dangers is that if we put a lot of effort into circumcision, we are going to be reducing capacity for not only other HIV prevention but everything [else],” says Bailey. Indeed, much of the debate surrounding male circumcision has been centred on the weakness of healthcare systems in resourcepoor settings, and their limited ability to provide the service.
“You can get around these things, but it takes a lot of effort. It takes long-term investment in health systems,” Nguyen says. Although Riamit and Osano express concern about limited healthcare capacity, they stress that engaging communities in dialogue is paramount. Circumcision is imbued with cultural meaning in many communities. For example, in communities that practice both male and female circumcision as a rite of passage, promoting one form while advocating against the other becomes problematic. Offering male circumcision as an intervention may in fact undermine the movement against female genital cutting. As a member of such a community, Riamit is particularly concerned with this dilemma. “The challenge is we are saying ‘stop female genital mutilation’ but we are saying ‘circumcise men,’ and for rural communities, adding up these two things provides a challenge because now you will be forced to demonstrate how one [female] is at risk by circumcising and one [male] is safe by circumcising,” Riamit says. Although they acknowledge the concerns arising from all stakeholders and recognize that access to any prevention method is a fundamental right, UNAIDS and WHO have proposed guidelines for decision-makers on human rights, ethical, and legal considerations dealing with male circumcision. Through this, they hope that national governments looking to provide this intervention will take steps to ensure that it is safe, voluntary, informed, and offered as part of comprehensive HIV prevention programming. As Riamit affirms, “NGOs have [in the past] brought rites of passage defined in board rooms to communities…. The challenge [with male circumcision] is to empower the community to use this research knowledge, to themselves work out a rite of passage. Because culture must be dynamic and it can change, but it must come from them because the culture you are changing belongs to them.”
How male circumcision works There are various means through which circumcision is thought to reduce the transmission of HIV from women to men. In particular, the type, density, and distribution of HIV target cells in the penis have been sighted as contributing factors. For example, the underside of the foreskin has been found to have a high number of HIV target cells and therefore, a reduced or eliminated foreskin means less target cells for HIV. It has also been suggested that the foreskin is prone to tears and so its removal reduces the chance of cuts – or entry points for HIV. It is widely proven that circumcision decreases the likelihood of acquiring STIs and since lesions and ulcers act as entry points for HIV, a circumcised penis is less likely to be infected. A further suggestion is that the degree of keratinization – hardening – of the penile glans that is associated with male circumcision may provide protection.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Praying for friends killed in Mumbai Benjamin Holzman
aving lived in Mumbai for six months in 2007, the news that terrorists had committed a series of coordinated attacks in the city hit close to home. As details of the attacks and the multiple hostage crises unfolded, I became distraught, as almost all the areas targeted were places I frequented on a near daily basis. I would often take a train to the terminus in the morning, where gunmen indiscriminately threw grenades and fired AK-47s into the crowd during the attacks. I would then take a bus past Leopold’s Café, where terrorists opened fire on backpackers enjoying dinner. From there I would walk to my office, literally across the street from the Taj Mahal hotel, where dozens were held hostage. In fact, I often left my office to use the hotel’s luxurious, “Westernstyle” bathrooms. Seeing parts of the iconic building in flames was devastating, as I’m sure it has been for all Mumbaikers. I wrote this just minutes after I heard the terrible news that five Israeli hostages were found dead inside the Chabad Jewish centre at Nariman house in Mumbai. Although the media hasn’t officially confirmed their identities by press time, it seems quite certain that they are Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka, an Israeli couple, and another Israeli.
They were wonderful people. Gabi would get visibly excited to have so many guests for Shabbat, and you could tell it really made his week. He would have a grin on his face almost the entire meal, including during his Dvar Torah. He insisted everyone go around the table and say a few words to the group, giving guests four options: either delivering a Dvar Torah, relating an inspirational story, declaring to take on a mitzvah, or leading a song. Gabi would start discussions to make a group of disconnected Jews feel like a family. It worked. That was Gabi. Rivki was a certified sweetheart. She’d generally sit apart from Gabi, to spread herself out, and usually sat with the girls. She’d talk to the girls about the challenges of keeping kosher in India, and share exciting new finds at the market together. You could tell she was far from home, but she was tough and made the best of it. That was Rivki. Brave, fun-loving, and sweet. I’m not sure if they were thrilled with their placement in Mumbai, but they certainly made a good go of it. They were only a few years older than me, in their late 20s, and despite being far from friends and family, they kept positive and built a beautiful bastion of Jewey goodness. They chose a life that demonstrated altruism and care. It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where I met Joseph Telushkin, the famous Jewish author. It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where I randomly bumped into friends of friends from back
home. It was to Gabi and Rivki’s where we brought our non-Jewish Indian friends who became curious in Judaism. It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where a girl I would later fall for first developed feelings for me, when I brought her some water while she lay sick on the sofa from Indian food poisoning. She was being nursed by Rivki. Gabi and Rivki were real for me. We often hear about tragedies in distant, disconnected places, and feel frustratingly estranged from them. We want to connect, but cant; we feel as though in a different world. And mere numbers, names, and images don’t amass to much. I know they would have been brave through the whole ordeal. Though unconfirmed, it is likely they would have been murdered right as Shabbat was coming in. I feel that this would have provided them with comfort, knowing that they departed this world in a time of peace. I also know the knowledge that their twoyear- old son Moishe who managed to escape in the arms of his nanny would have provided them with great comfort in their final hours. Chabad lost two soldiers Friday, emissaries and keepers of the Jewish people. Let us honour the work and lives of all victims and families affected by the attacks in our prayers, thoughts, and deeds. May all souls rest in peace, and may we see an end to violence in our time. Benjamin Holzman graduated from McGill in the spring, and can be reached at benjiholzman@gmail. com.
Examining Canada’s AIDS funding Canada has a reputation as a global health pioneer, particularly in HIV/AIDS research. Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) was introduced to provide generic drugs to developing nations, and immediately received praise at the United Nations. But CAMR proved totally ineffective, as it took until this September to send its first shipment of generic drugs to Rwanda. And we can’t expect this continue, since Apotex, the company responsible for the shipment, said it won’t participate in CAMR again. Both Apotex President Jack Kay and the Canadian HIV/ AIDS Legal Network blamed extensive bureaucracy within Canada for making the process extremely difficult. Canada also needs to rethink some aspects of its domestic policy. When the federal government joined the international Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s HIV/AIDS vaccine initiative, it did so by re-allocating nearly $26-million from their Community Action Programs (CAPs). While we support all vaccine research initiatives, this decision effectively froze the funding of many community prevention and treatment programs across Canada. Quebec alone saw a 24 per cent cut in its community programs. These decisions dramatically affect the lives of the 62,000 Canadians currently living with HIV/ AIDS, and the 4,000 more who will be infected this year. The Daily strongly supports Canadian efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, and understands the motivations behind their decision to work with the Gates Foundation. However, we would hope they would take into account the effects this decision had on smaller programs. Domestic and international AIDS research dollars should be at odds with each other – Canada should draw funds from elsewhere than CAPs to donate to international programs. If Canada has so many resources, why is the government making it so difficult for AIDS patients – both in Canada and abroad – to get the medication and treatment they need? Just six weeks after the federal election, The Daily encourages students to remain active in holding their MPs accountable – particularly about Canada’s policy toward HIV/AIDS. Through CAMR and CAP, Canada has the potential to make a concrete effort to help the all those affected by HIV/AIDS domestically and worldwide. Parliament needs to focus on the details and implications of its legislation, not their headline-making superpowers.
Am I a witness? Remembering the genocides of our past Vicky Tobianah
s four survivors of genocides that occurred in the 20th century stand before me, I find myself feeling uneasy. I seem to have let myself believe in the morality of my generation. Yet the Darfur survivor that speaks to me today demonstrates that this is a flawed assumption. So I sit here, ashamed. I believed I lived in a world where human rights are defended, where strict laws regarding crime and punishment are upheld, and where racism is slowly vanishing. But there is still a genocide occurring today – over 400,000 Darfurians have been murdered. The conflict in Darfur is now approaching its sixth year; however, any substantial action to end the genocide has yet to be put into place. Conditions continue to deteriorate for civilians, and hundreds of thousands
lack necessities and are being displaced or killed. International intervention in Darfur seems to be failing, largely due to the continued harassment by the Sudanese government and the fact that the government has ties to militia and criminals. New eyewitness accounts from Darfur report rapes, torture, and mutilation by government-backed militias. The U.N. Security Council has a responsibility to take urgent action to ensure that civilians are protected, and that the perpetrators are punished. Despite our claims to having made significant progress in dispelling hate, indifference, ignorance, and apathy, this atrocity is ongoing. Why is the centre of international affairs unable to combat this genocide? These were the questions I asked myself at the “four Generations of Genocide” event two weeks ago. The keynote speaker, Honourable MP Irwin Cotler, stated that we need to understand the importance of devoir de memoire. In order to fight any
war, specifically a war against hate, we must remember the consequences of forgetting the lessons we learned from the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and Rwanda. But the fact that Ahmadinijad can have a podium at the UN instead of being indicted proves that these lessons have been forgotten. In the 2005 elections, not one prime minister candidate even mentioned the word Darfur, and, aside from Stéphane Dion, this was still the case in the recent 2008 elections. Why is this issue seemingly off of the Canadian radar? We know how to make the person political, Cotler stated, but we should strive to make the political personal – these issues should be personal and political issues, for “if you kill one life it is as if you have killed an entire universe,” Cotler quoted from the Talmud and the Koran. Irwin Cotler stated that “if the 20th century has been known as the age of genocide, four generations of
genocide, that it has also been known as the age of impunity.” Despite Cotler’s discouraging remarks, recent developments suggest a change from impunity: there have been warrants against the president of Sudan, and a recent ceasefire. Is it foolish to still have hope? I can’t deny that I’m sitting here passively, as I advocate our government to change. How can I blame our leaders without acting myself? But I think there is something redeeming in the fact that I am here, listen-
ing to these figures of courage and strength. And as I look around at the audience, I am somewhat comforted. No, maybe we cannot all create UN resolutions or single-handedly campaign for change, but we can do something – we can listen. It is the transmission of stories that creates empathy, which leads to resolve and action. If we could have truly heard the voices of the survivors of all the past genocides, perhaps there would be no genocide occurring today.
ERRATA In “Remembering the deaths of trans sex workers” (Commentary, Nov. 20), The Daily incorrectly referred to the author, Telyn Kusalik, as “he,” when in fact Kusalik uses the gender-neutral pronoun “they/ them/theirs.”
Further, in “Loneliness loves company” (Features, Nov. 24), The Daily incorrectly stated Casiotone For the Painfully Alone’s MySpace page; it is www.myspace.com/cftpa. The Daily sincerely regrets the errors.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Vacuum existence, hippies, apartheid, Masi, Ann Coulter, cats, and pills
Letters I’m so over it, really Re: “Women in red rated sexier” | Sci+Tech | Nov. 17 I’m sick of the pursuit of knowledge being framed as ideologically innocent. Hello! Neither the researchers, nor their hypotheses, nor their methods, nor their conclusions exist in a vacuum. They are not insulated from the societal norms that have been inculcated – to the point of invisibility – into all of our tiny brains. Apart from providing some overeducated assholes with a wad of cash and perpetuating the naturalization of desire and heterosexuality, how the shit is this study useful? The last thing we need is more research supporting the truth of the reproductive imperative and the subsequent violence it imposes on non-conforming bodies. This statement, “The stereotype claiming men are prone to primitive instincts is partly right,” is just fucked up. What precedent does a claim like this set? Maybe one that legitimizes male sexual violence. The word “partly” does not absolve one of the responsibility for the consequences of their research or your journalism. Stop publishing this crap. I’m so over it. Lisa Miatello U3 Women’s Studies
Addressing the Public Editor’s confusion and naivety Re: “Addressing The Daily’s uniform content and uninviting nature” | Commentary | Nov. 20 While Marc Selles’s criticism of The Daily seemed articulate and thought-out, reading through it a bit deeper we can see that it’s just a bunch of confusion and naivety piled up so high that it appears grandeur. Selles spoke of “diversity of students of McGill” in a very abstract and philistine manner, criticizing The Daily for failing to represent this diversity. He dreams of an ideal news outlet that is purely objective and representative and exists in vacuum from the unequal power relation we have in our society. Concretely, what Marc asks is that The Daily also becomes the news outlet for the prejudice perpetuated by the current mainstream media and tone down itself so that it become a powerless media in the face of the status quo.
If the chatter around campus is that The Daily alienates (or irks) different section of students and the McGill community, then The Daily has done its job very well by rattling the cage of prejudice in our society. For every person that the paper alienates when it covers a certain topic, there are ten who are on the fence and are willing to pick up The Daily to learn more about the issue from an alternative perspective. If The Daily ever becomes a newspaper that represents the diversity of McGill community as Marc dreams of, then it ceases to become a media that recognizes the unequal power relation in our society. Is The Daily biased? Yes, The Daily is the news outlet for the marginalized ideas and it should be proud of it. We have to understand that all media and education are biased and cater to certain sets of ideas. Those who claim to represent the diversity of the society are using the cloak of objectivity to stuff their ideas down our throats, and the ruling elite of status quo is fond of doing just that. Ted Sprague Master’s II Chemistry
Stop polluting environmental discourse Re: “The pollution of hyperactive environmentalists” | Commentary | Nov. 17 I’m not particularly convinced that Ricky Kreinter’s commentary about the over-romanticized hippy, supposedly running rampant on McGill, adds anything new to the discussion. The time for this kind of comedic treatment of environmentalism is long past. I’m no journalist, Ricky, but I have an eye for quality and this did not fit. Sure, “environment,” “sustainability,” and “green” are overused buzzwords, and yes, moral alarmism makes me nauseous too. But then let’s treat these trends as positive and criticize them with superior information, not a hey-get-off-my-back-man attitude. What does buying a carton of milk have to do with your “guilty conscience?” As an example of the maturation of this sometimes juvenile process, I offer our own campus. Having spent three years among geography and environment students and a year at Macdonald Campus, I can confidently say McGill churns out nothing but self-examining, sometimes disillusioned, but always striving environmentalists. Because that’s what academia does – stomps down idealism with realism. As Christopher Green tells his students in Economics of Climate Change, “In this class, you have to keep your nerve, or get out.” Cuba is still trendy, right? Organic farming and top-rate health care?
Well, my dad was born in Cuba, and my grandma had to haul buckets of hot water to the bath and he’s been careful about wasting water since. Does he make other people feel bad about their habits? I’m not trying to water board your humor Ricky (because I don’t know you), but this gets right at the heart of the matter: trying to reduce waste and want in a culture and economy that resist should be commonplace pursuit – not a fad. Elan Spitzberg U2 Geography
Mookie’s mincing words Re: “Culture Shock should embrace both sides” | Commentary | Nov. 20 I’m not about to argue over the truth of whether or not Israel is indeed an apartheid state, but Kideckel’s characterization of the use of the word “apartheid” in human rights discourse as “throw[ing] around buzzwords” is extremely ignorant. Apartheid is not a “buzzword.” It’s a crime against humanity defined by international law – please refer to the 1973 Crime of Apartheid Convention – and thus can be legitimately applied to cases other than South Africa if it is considered that the evidence exists. Also, it’s not anti-Semitic to question certain Israeli policies. Kideckel takes a huge logical leap when he writes that characterizing Israel as an apartheid state amounts to denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, because it does not. It amounts to denying the Israeli government the right to contravene international law. Vladi Ivanov U2 IDS
However, since they haven’t responded yet, I’m asking them point blank for an answer. Did Anthony Masi prevent Norman Miller from testifying before the Quebec Labour Tribunal? If not, say so. If yes, justify it. Keeping quiet won’t make the issue go away.
Jordan, let me modestly propose that the next time you write a letter, design it a little more intelligently. Because you did a whole lot of assuming in your last one, and all it did was prove the old saying concerning assumptions. Conservatively yours,
Aly Jivraj BA ‘07 IDS
Logan Clark U2 Political Science
To our dismay, Zoog reappears
Enough with the cats
Hello Daily, Hello All, Hello World (to be read in a sombre tone): I have uncovered a REAL conspiracy this time: McGill classes line up all important assignments/exams/etc. at the same time in order to induce depression and psychotic episodes in the student body. Students then RUSH to McGill Mental Health, thus giving $$ back to McGill in the form of medical insurance. But seriously, all my friends are either teetering on the edge of sanity or too far gone to be saved. Can’t The Daily do anything about this? Can’t ANYONE do anything? I feel helpless in a world of unfinished essays, over-the-phone suicidal dilemmas, alcoholism, and anxious self-torture. Where has all the love gone? Where has everything gone? This campus has been taken over by zombies!!! If you’re beginning to feel infected, write Zoog at devon. firstname.lastname@example.org. I wanna be sedated!!!!!!!! Love, Zoog
Re: “Rosemont borough institutes a three-cat limit” | News | Nov. 24
Devon Welsh U2 Religious Studies, Drama & Theatre
Don’t you dare talk about my main woman like that Re: You’re not fooling anyone | Commentary | Nov.24
Volumes of administrative silence I have to say that I’m disappointed in the McGill administration. I sent in letters to the editors of The McGill Daily and The McGill Tribune that were published several weeks ago (November 13 and 11, respectively) regarding Provost Anthony Masi and the issue of the independence of McGill’s ombudsperson. I wrote that Masi was responsible for preventing then-ombudsman Norman Miller from testifying before a Quebec Labour Tribunal on behalf of Dr. Norman Cornett, whose classes were previously cancelled “for the good of students.” As I said, it’s been several weeks and several issues later, yet it appears as though the administration is simply ignoring the matter. There has been no response from the administration to my letter in either paper, and their silence speaks volumes.
Two things, Jordan: First of all, your statement that “Republicans do not migrate north to escape liberalism” is fundamentally flawed. As my esteemed roommate Elliot brings up, a maverick such as myself cannot be held to such conventional patterns of human behaviour. Even I don’t have any idea which direction I may be migrating on any given day. Secondly, you can insult me all you like. Call me a liar again. Go ahead. I’ve got thick skin. But don’t you dare speak ill of Anne Coulter! Not only is she my main woman, she’s a woman of wealth and taste! And to defend her honour I would normally challenge you to a duel. However, I’m feeling pro-life today, so I’ll give you the choice of settling things the old fashioned way: on the dance floor. Know that should you accept, you best be bringing your A-Game, because my Charleston will blow your mind.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand this newspaper. I’ve tried, I have read The Daily on a regular basis during my four years at McGill, but I just don’t get why the editorial team feels that an article about limiting the number of cats per household in a Montreal neighbourhood is front page news. Yi Ariel Liu, you are a clear and competent writer, but this article doesn’t deserve to be on the first page of the section. Liu’s article, in my opinion, highlights a bigger problem concerning the scope of The Daily. You are a campus newspaper – why are Ryan Mackeller’s article on SSMU workers and the itinerary for World AIDS Week pages behind the cats? Articles concerning issues and events on campus deserve more attention from The Daily. At this point, I read this newspaper when I want to be entertained by the bizarre and mundane articles masquerading as news. When I want to know about what is actually happening on campus, I read The Tribune. Allison McNeely U3 Political Science
Doing crosswords = crazy pills Re: “Musical Misdemeanors” Compendium | Nov. 17
Am I the only one who noticed that the clues for this crossword don’t match up with the squares? And that they are in fact the exact same clues as Monday the November 10’s “Themeless?” I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! Zoe Belk U1 Linguistics [Ed’s note: Yep. We printed the correct crossword, clues, and solution in the November 20 issue.] Thanks for sending The Daily your letters this semester, everybody! Now, for the last time in 2008, feast your eyes on the mighty Post-LettersBlurb: Please send your 300-wordor-less letters to letters@mcgilldaily. com. The Daily’s doesn’t print letters that are hateful in any way. Peace.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Point/Counterpoint: Safe injection sites Located in Vancouver, Insite is North America’s first and only safe injection site. Since it opened in 2003, nearly 10,000 individuals have visited the facility to use drugs and receive access to health care services in the event of an overdose. But even today, some five years later, its existence is far from secure. The Harper government has been fighting through the courts to have the facility shut down, and recently appealed a B.C. court decision that allowed Insite to remain open, with the final ruling coming in April 2009. Below, two U1 students debate whether Insite’s resources perpetuate drug addiction or lead addicts on a path to recovery.
If you’re going to do it, be safe Sarina Isenberg
rug use is inevitable in society; it will occur regardless of law enforcement. The negative side effects to injecting drugs unsafely range from the possibility of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C transmission through shared needles, to infections and overdose through needles used incorrectly. However, these can be prevented. Insite assists individuals to inject safely under the supervision of nurses and trained staff who provide users with clean, sterilized needles and educate them on the least harmful methods for injection. After injecting, participants can receive services related to care for the treatment of wounds and infection. If a participant experiences a negative reaction to the drugs, medical professionals are on hand to assist them. Some might argue that allowing drug users to inject in a clean setting “glamorizes” drug use, since drugs are no longer associated with dark alleys and illicit activities that might deter possible users. But this assumption is wholly inaccurate. Research has proven that Insite prevents fatal overdoses, and decreases needle sharing, public injection, and injection-related disorders. A study published last month in The Canadian Medical Association Journal explained that over the next ten years, Insite could save the health care system $20-million and save 1,070 life years. Insite is a preventative measure, helping addicts before various illnesses associated with improper injection cause them to rely heavily on the health care system.
Futher, Insite does not supply drugs, so opponents can rest assured that drugs deals would continue to make many people uncomfortable. The real question is, should we make addicts suffer in order to “teach them a lesson?” Should we allow them to continue dangerous practices to possibly contract diseases and die of overdoses when a successful prevention already methods exists? Insite is part of a long-term plan to assist high-risk users deal with their addictions through referrals to addiction and counselling services, and the safe injection site is leading to an increased uptake in detox programs. Insite is not just a place where people inject drugs, it is a community, a supportive environment where marginalized groups who might not have access to adequate health care receive medical attention. The alternatives to Insite would involve ignoring what is happening and enforcing stricter drug laws to the point where drug users are forced to once again inject in unsanitary areas. Addiction is a psychological problem, and it cannot be ignored. Addicts need help, and at a place like Insite, they can begin a gradual process to recovery. Sarina Isenberg is a U1 English student and the Inter-Club Coordinator of the McGill Global Aids Coalition. You can reach her at email@example.com.
“Just Say No” to drugs – and Insite Sean Stefanik
n no other sphere of society does our government explicitly condemn a particular act – through criminalization, for example – and then provide funding for a facility that directly contravenes those laws. The paradox of Insite is at the core of the debate over drug strategy in Canada. How can we legitimately further a message of “just say no” while simultaneously supporting facilities such as Insite? The question of safe injection sites in Canada must not be viewed in a vacuum; instead, it must be considered within the context of our broader anti-drug strategy. To begin, let’s be clear about one thing: the use of dirty needles is neither pleasant nor desirable, but the consequences of drug abuse are far worse. Heroine, for example, can be instantly addictive; morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine all carry a plethora of different problems. The harms of using dirty needles, contracting infections, or anything else that Insite purportedly helps to prevent pale in comparison to the broader consequence of drug addiction. In this respect, safe injection sites are counterproductive in a number of ways. First and foremost, Insite provides a vehicle through which current drug users can sustain their addictions. From clean needles and oncall doctors to comfy chairs and the privacy of your very own cubicle, this facility removes many elements of a drug addict’s life that help to make that addiction unsustainable. Second, a safe and cozy atmosphere in which you can shoot up – really, look at the pictures, it’s quite the classy joint – helps to encourage
drug use in general. Dirty needles, dark alleys, and dangerous consequences all discourage people from starting to use drugs. Insite, however, provides individuals with a false sense of security. The allure of medical treatment in the event of an overdose and the availability of clean needles create an environment in which individuals feel safe. This is a huge problem – heroine use should never seem safe. Insite creates this illusion. By removing many of the disincentives associated with drug use, safe injection sites impair the government’s ability to pursue a strategy centred on prevention. This reality begs the obvious: how do we deal with current addicts? The solution is to help them onto the path to recovery, not to accommodate their addictions. This can be done without the dangers of safe injection sites. For instance, putting more resources into rehabilitation programs could be incredibility effective. These can be more successful when they’re the only means for users to get help; Insite simply provides another way for addicts to skirt around their addiction without dealing with the larger problems. They might not provide users with their drugs, but offering a means for addicts to continue their addictions is just as detrimental. Emphasizing prevention doesn’t neglect current addicts, but instead helps to achieve a more important goal in the long-term: reducing the absolute number of individuals addicted to drugs. This must be the top priority of any anti-drug strategy, something that Insite fails to recognize. Sean Stefanik is a U1 Political Science and the Secretary of the McGill Debating Union. You can reach him at sean.stefanik@mail. mcgill.ca.
Research is an academic matter, and travel is not tourism An open letter to Morton Mendelson against the new travel directive MESSA McGill
ear Dr. Morton Mendelson, As you are well aware, the McGill administration has recently approved a policy that prohibits students from travelling for academic purposes to countries the Canadian government has ranked unsafe for travel. The Senate has motioned to suspend this directive. Claiming that this is an administrative mat-
ter, not an academic one, the administration has refused to accept the Senate’s decision. As executive members of the Middle East Studies Students’ Association (MESSA) we would like to publicly declare our opposition to this new directive. To deem this directive an administrative and not an academic issue is unacceptable. If maintained, this ill-advised directive will be detrimental to the University as an institution. As such, we must in good conscience oppose this policy and should continue to do so until it is repealed. To claim that the matter is exclusively administrative is indefensible. After all, it is curricular travel that is to be restricted. Many disciplines within the University centre their research upon areas that are currently covered by the
travel advisories. Not only will the Department of Middle East Studies and the Institute for Islamic Studies suffer, but also the Departments of International Development Studies, African Studies, and Political Science. The University’s policy will prevent undergraduates from receiving credit for internships fulfilled in such countries. Most egregiously, the directive will also prevent graduate students from carrying out area-specific research. Travelling for academic purposes is not tourism. Some of the best and most necessary work to be done today is done in areas considered unsafe. For many of us, an internship or thesis is the first major step of our chosen careers, careers that may bring us to politically unstable areas. Research in these regions is not without
risk, but it is crucially important. To continue to enforce this directive will be to prevent the University from engaging with some of the most pressing issues of our day. The overwhelming majority of McGill students are legal adults. The degree of personal risk we are willing to assume is under our purview alone. We strongly urge you to allow the Senate to exercise the authority with which it is invested. Do not strip us of the ability to decide our own academic futures. With respect, The executive members of the Middle East Studies Student Association (MESSA). MESSA McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
All hopped up Joseph Watts Ever been intrigued by the thought of brewing your own beer, but turned off by the “science” or intimidated by foreign words like sparge and flocculate? Well, you needn’t be. Brewing in your kitchen is actually pretty easy. I like to compare it to making a big pot of soup, but the secret ingredient is a live organism and you leave it out for two weeks before dipping in. To take away the mystery, I’ve illustrated the major
steps of homebrewing so you can see what you’ll be getting into before you roll up your sleeves. I’ve skipped over a few things – you’ve got to sanitize some stuff here, and let other stuff cool off there – but this is the general process, from raw ingredients to finished beer. Get all your supplies at Chope à Barrock (4709 St. Dominique), where the helpful owner will answer any questions you might have.
Home sweet homebrew
1. Mash: Malted barley that has been very coarsely ground is mixed with water and heated in a vessel called the mash tun. This process converts all the starches into sugars that will later be turned into alcohol by the yeast. Homebrew beginners often skip this step, as they don’t work with raw grains.
1 2 3. Brew: A sample of the wort is taken before adding it to the kettle where it will be boiled for about an hour.
2. Sparge: The mashed grains are sprinkled with hot water to make sure all the sweet liquid (wort) is rinsed into the brew kettle.
4. Pitch/Ferment: Yeast comes in either dry or liquid forms. After adding, or pitching the yeast to the now cooled wort, the proto-beer will ferment in clean and sealed containers for around two weeks. (The real last step is bottling, but you can figure that one out yourself.)
All photos by Joseph Watts / The McGill Daily
“Three cups of coffee a day can make your breasts shrink” – but not quite Decoding a new study which links coffee, breast size, and breast cancer Nadja Popovich The McGill Daily
here I was, on my daily tour of Internet news, with my second cup-a-joe in hand, when I was stopped in my tracks by a headline: “Three cups of coffee a day can make breasts shrink.” Well, shit. Now don’t get me wrong, this news wouldn’t have made me put down the cup. But as I read on, the article revealed that coffee can simultaneously help to protect against
breast cancer. I breathed a small sigh of relief at the fact that this provided me with a more concrete, though frankly unnecessary, reason to continue the habit. But wanting to know more about the seemingly magical breast-cancer-risk-reducing powers of coffee, I looked up the two Swedish-based studies – published in the British Journal of Cancer earlier this fall – which the article was based upon. After deciphering these heavily scientific papers on the relationship between coffee, breast size,
and cancer – and talking to Helena Jernström, one of the researchers behind them – a different version of the story came out. According to Jernström, it’s not so much that “three cups of coffee a day can make breasts shrink.” Rather, an increased intake of caffeinated coffee in young women who are not on birth control, but are carriers of the alternative gene variation of CYP1A2 for an enzyme that metabolizes both caffeine and estrogen, have exhibited smaller breast size. But this makes for a less
snappy headline. Jernström said that the only real conclusion to be drawn from the studies is that caffeinated coffee may protect women with the specific enzyme variant against breast cancer, but she stressed that the link still needs more research to be substantiated. And as for your B-cup dwindling to an A during exam season? “Women with the [specific gene] variant who drank three or more cups of coffee per day had smaller breasts than other women…. [But]
we don’t yet know whether coffee actually shrinks the breasts or if these women had smaller breasts anyway,” Jernström said. “It is too early to draw any conclusions.” So thank you, Internet news, for providing me with that brief moment of doubt over whether I should get up for a refill. But going by Jernström’s reasoning, we may not have to choose between our breasts and our espresso; in fact, if your gene variants align just so, that third cup may help your breasts stay healthy and cancer-free.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
AIDS policy lecture night features head of McGill AIDS Centre Emma Gray Mind&Body writer
ast Wednesday, Dr. Mark Wainberg outlined what he believes to be the key policy decisions the Canadian government should make to mitigate the impacts of HIV/AIDS. His policy suggestions included creating more safe injection sites, expanding health education, and increasing aid to developing countries hit hardest by the pandemic, as well as resisting the trend toward the criminalization of HIV/AIDS. The lecture program was sponsored by Pearson House, a non-partisan, student-run think tank that works to create and disseminate journals containing student-generated policy recommendations on a variety of topics. The program ran as a part of McGill HIV/AIDS Awareness Week, and centred around the theme of HIV/AIDS and public policy options. Wainberg, professor of Molecular Biology and Virology and the Director of the McGill AIDS Centre, was featured among three other speakers:
Dr. Claudia Mitchell, who spoke about her research with Youth and Grassroots Policy-Making; Pearson House President Emma Costante, who discussed how student initiatives can affect public policy; and Pearson House member Tim Mak, who weighed in on how public policy could be used to bolster funding for HIV/AIDS research in the private sector. Although the turn out was low, with about 15 people in attendance, the four speakers nonetheless delivered engaging lectures. The central idea of the lectures was that when it comes to policy, the foremost consideration comes down to a simple question: “what works?” Mitchell emphasized the efficacy of creating educational initiatives that engage young people’s voices in the policy-making process through artistic channels, such as photography, documentary, and theatre. She documented her own involvement with programs that encourage students to engage in group photography projects that deal with various topics of social import – from mapping
out where they feel safe or unsafe in schools, to depicting possible solutions to HIV infection. Mitchell showcased some of the photographs that have come out of these programs, such as one of a toilet accompanied by the caption: “You can be raped in the toilet.” Mitchell held that images such as these have been used to inform policy, noting that UNICEF’s water and sanitation policy now includes a clause on monitoring the security and safety of girls’ toilets. Such programs have been implemented in rural schools throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Rwanda, South Africa, and Swaziland, and a new initiative following this model, dubbed “Taking Action,” is currently in the works for Canadian Aboriginal youth. Wainberg’s lecture, meanwhile, centred on the “moral responsibility” that countries such as Canada have to fight the AIDS pandemic both within their own borders and internationally. He argued that the battle against the disease can be waged through proper policies. “I want the government to listen
to science. I want policy to be driven by evidence, not by political wishful thinking,” Wainberg said. In this vein, Wainberg advocated for the expansion of safe injection sites – such as InSite, a Vancouverbased facility where addicts can practice clean, physician-supervised injection – across Canada, an idea which was defeated by the current health minister earlier this year. While Wainberg noted that some people think that InSite’s existence is equivalent to the government condoning drug use, he was adamant that this line of reasoning was unsound. “No one condones the misuse of illicit drugs,” Waniberg said. “This is [about] harm reduction.” Wainberg also came out strongly against the criminalization of HIV transmission. Though he referred to Johnson Aziga, a man currently standing trial in Hamilton, Ontario for the knowing transmission of HIV to 11 women, as “the scum of the earth,” he also stressed the many negative consequences of criminalization – such as stigmatization and the fur-
ther deterrence of individuals from getting tested. Wainberg emphasized that such consequences could have a potentially devastating effect on the implementation of a successful public health plan. “We don’t want to establish a deterrent for HIV testing,” he said. “The best way not to know is to not get tested, [especially] when you know that you are potentially a member of a group of people who could be [targeted by accusations] of transmitting a lethal infection.” Groups such as sex workers, homosexuals, and women all fall under this category of greater vulnerability to HIV-criminalization laws. The overarching message that came across in the lectures was that the key to effective policy-making in the fight against HIV/AIDS is the inclusion of all populations and voices when creating policies. Wainberg contended that in order to effectively encourage people to step forward, get tested, and speak out, it is necessary to encourage a feeling of protection under the law, not a fear of visibility.
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A big thank you to all those who have contributed to the Mind&Body section this year. Have a happy holiday season and we’ll see you back next semester!
To become a M&B writer next year, e-mail Mindnbody@mcgilldaily.com for more info.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Two wheels good, four wheels bad? Leah Pires / The McGill Daily
Cyclists participating in urban bike races are identified by spoke cards on the wheels of their bikes.
Leah Pires deconstructs the fraught relationship between cyclists and motorists
ast Saturday, I donned two sweaters, three pairs of pants, and six socks before spending three hours biking around the city – from Parc La Fontaine to Jean Talon to Old Montreal to the Village and back again – in subzero weather. Why? Because I was a participant in Montreal’s first annual Street Dog bike race, and I had my eye on the prize. The Street Dog was a two-wheeled scavenger hunt organized by a group of local bike enthusiasts who wanted to host a non-intimidating, accessible community event for cyclists of all styles and stripes. And, despite the chilly weather, they succeeded in bringing together a wonderful crosssection of the biking community. However, somewhere along the way – was it before I ran that red light, or after I rode against traffic, while I was riding on the sidewalk, or as that truck honked at me? – I realized what an anomaly cyclists can be in the ebb and flow of city traffic.
Saturday’s Street Dog aside, celebrations of cycling take place on a fairly regular basis in Montreal. Alleycats, which are checkpoint-based races organized by the bike messenger community, take place a few times per year. And on the last Friday of every month, cyclists and their kin unite to reclaim the streets from cars at an event called Critical Mass. Opinions are mixed on whether the motivation behind Critical Mass – a spontaneously organized event without any particular leader – is political or pleasure-driven. “Critical Mass asserts the power that cyclists have, and increases their visibility,” Riley Fleck, my racing partner in Street Dog, explains. “Critical mass isn’t a solution to giving bikers more space. It’s just a general affirmation of bikers.” Mackenzie Ogilvie, the owner of Révolution Montréal bike shop and a former bike messenger, agrees. “People are polarized about cyclists, and Critical Mass isn’t going to win anyone over,” he says, acknowledging the frustration of drivers stuck in traffic. “The problem is that people are sitting in traffic for hours every day, not us [having Critical Mass] on one Friday a month. The purpose is to establish camaraderie amongst bikers. It’s a huge amount of fun.” However, in my experience, these events unite the bike community often
at the expense of our relationship with motorists and pedestrians. Standing in the intersection of Mont-Royal and St. Denis amidst 60-plus cyclists hoisting their bikes over their heads and shouting “Plus de vélos! Moins d’autos!” at last April’s Critical Mass, I couldn’t help but feel a little apologetic toward the exhausted drivers honking their horns in frustration. As I’ve experienced firsthand, one side effect of events such as Critical Mass and bike races is that they encourage cyclists to break traffic laws and, at times, ride recklessly. But is this something we do anyway, albeit not in such large groups? One of the most enjoyable aspects of cycling, for me, is its renegade nature: the only rules that apply to me are the ones that I choose to adhere to, and I find myself having a sense of entitlement over the road. Pedestrians had better stay on the sidewalk when I’m coming through – and as for cars, do they think they own the road? The cyclists I talked to seemed to share my pick-and-choose attitude toward traffic laws. “It takes the fun out of biking when you have to follow the same rules as cars,” explains Ogilvie, emphasizing common sense over strict adherence. “I try not to ride on the sidewalk, but I run red lights every day,” Fleck says. “If no one’s coming, why wait? I even biked in front of a train once. But it was
going really slow.” The consensus seems to be that as cyclists, we think it’s fine to follow the rules we consider appropriate for our set of wheels – but I can’t imagine motorists agree. If bikers want to be given as much respect and road-space as cars, should we have to adhere to the same traffic laws as they do? The devil-may-care attitudes of some cyclists may merely exacerbate the tension between those who share the road. I asked Jeff McMahon, a volunteer at Concordia’s bike co-op Right To Move, whether he thought betterbehaved bikers were the solution. “I don’t think that if most cyclists obey the rules of the road, they’ll get more respect,” he said. “Ten per cent will still spoil it [for everyone].” Instead, McMahon pointed to Montreal’s road infrastructure as the main source of tension between cyclists and motorists. Both he and Ogilvie cited Portland, Oregon as a city where a well-developed traffic system allows for harmony on the road. “Montreal’s bike lanes are a death trap,” Ogilvie stated. “I would rather see bikes on the roads than in bike lanes.” He believes that our city’s poorly-designed bike lanes – on Maisonneuve, for example – often put cyclists in more danger than riding amidst traffic. McMahon elaborates that the danger of bike lanes lies in
drivers’ misunderstanding of them: “It makes the driver think that if there isn’t [a bike lane], bikes shouldn’t be there.” His ideal road system would feature two lanes on every road, one for cars and one for cyclists. And, with the oft-mentioned rising gas prices, both Ogilvie and McMahon believe that the city will have to redesign their roads to accommodate a burgeoning population of cyclists. “Biking is a reality,” Ogilvie says – and naturally, I agree. This past September, I felt like the Milton bike path was our own personal Critical Mass every morning before school. It appears, then, that the solution to car-bike tensions may come with time. As driving a car becomes increasingly unaffordable and more people start fixing up their old tenspeeds, it seems only natural that the development of a road system that can accommodate this new crop of cyclists will follow suit. This, in tandem with cyclists’ and motorists’ increased awareness of their mutual presence on the road, might signal the end of the “us v. them” mentality that is currently de rigeur amongst road users. “The relationship between cars and bikes can be symbiotic,” McMahon says. “In the end, we’re all trying to achieve the same thing: getting from point A to point B. It’s not hard to help one another out.”
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Kanye West: the centre of his own universe Alexander Ostroff traces the meteoric rise of a hip hop superstar
Aliens try to fix the ship, but don’t have enough power. The aliens realize that Kanye is, in fact, the biggest star in the universe and can power his own spaceship all the way back to earth. The end. Except not. At the end of the concert, Kanye embarked on an extended tirade at a publication that gave him a poor review. “You think you can review something without emotion, when I made it with emotion?” he demanded. “This isn’t a term paper! I made this with emotion and you can’t tell me it’s not perfect!” Pleading with the audience to reaffirm his value as the most important artist to ever walk the earth, Kanye is both supremely arrogant and profoundly insecure. These two sides of his personality are the reason that his persona and music remain endlessly fascinating. This has never been more evident than on his latest piece of work, 808s and Heartbreak. At the time, Glow in the Dark – and the album it sprang from, Graduation – seemed to indicate a shift in direction for Kanye, toward broader, more generic, transcending hip hop, in pursuit of pop stardom. Throughout the entire show, Kanye was the sole person on stage, the centre of attention, bathed in light and synths and sound, largerthan-life, exuberant, and eager to please. Hip hop shows, more often than not, lean toward a block-party vibe, emphasizing a sense of community. Music critic Frank Kogan characterizes this as a standard aspect of AfricanAmerican musical traditions from church through to funk: “The audience is part of the form of the music, the structure; no audience, and the call gets no response.” Whether trading lines with hype men, bringing surprise guests on stage, or having DJs test the audience’s knowledge of the classics, hip hop brings people together. As Erykah Badu says, “Hip hop is bigger than religion; hip hop is bigger than my nigga; hip hop is bigger than the government.” Kanye stands on stage solitary and unreachable, the selfproclaimed biggest star in the universe, and thus unassailable and unable to connect with anyone else. The College Dropout and Late Registration were warm, lived-in albums. Filled with guests both popular and underground, merging chipmunk Sally Lin / The McGill Daily soul samples with orchestral Figure 1: Kanye West (1977– ). The biggest hip hop star in the universe. flourishes, Kanye embraced he meteor shower wasn’t enough. If we want to restart the ship, we’re going to need the biggest star in the universe!” This was the culminating moment of Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour last May, and the moment it became clear that Kanye’s ambitions reached beyond Rapper, past the second pop star to the right, and straight on ‘til Icon. West’s set was an elaborate – and nonsensical – stage show, consisting of ‘Ye traveling through space with his computer Jane. West crashes on a planet and the ship breaks. He sings.
contradiction and introspection in a constant quest for popular acceptance and critical respect. While Late Registration engaged in more navelgazing and self-aggrandizement, Kanye still found time to talk about his sick grandmother and blood diamonds. By Graduation, Kanye abandoned guest raps on all but one track, eliminated all traces of skits (which can be tiresome, but can also be funny and are a staple of rap albums) and pared album length down to 13 tracks. Gone too were his lyrical specificities. Kanye’s self-obsession proved fascinating on his first two albums in part due to their detail. Intricate stories that previously sketched complete pictures of internal conflicts, tensions between religion, family, success, and politics, were replaced with Dr. Phil-isms about strength and perseverance. Leaving the Bell Centre, audience members were given free copies of Thank You and You’re Welcome, Kanye’s self-help book. This self-caricaturization seemed grotesque to those of us who fell for the self-deprecating everyman Kanye of early days – but it was a necessary bit of alchemy that morphed Kanye into a pop star. At least, it was a necessary attempt. He lost something in the process. The entire album is built for world conquering. Swathed in synths and designed for stadiums, songs off Graduation are as subtle as being hit in the head with a brick. The best example of the result is “Homecoming.” Earlier versions of the song, featuring John Legend, ride a bittersweet soul sample that’s ambivalent about Kanye leaving his community to pursue his dreams, begging, “Never leave me alone…I’ll be coming home.” Two albums later, Chris Martin sings about Kanye’s triumphant return to a windy city that hasn’t always appreciated his greatness. Seeking the approval of rock critics, rap fans, soccer moms, frat boys, people who watch Ellen, and Pitchfork, Kanye’s only path into the future was to go bigger, broader, and possibly blander. “You can’t judge me on this because it’s a reflection of my heart and soul. It’s like judging a grandmother’s love. Can you judge a grandmother’s love by giving it 2.5 mics, or saying that it only sold a million?” So said Kanye, directly after the unveiling of 808s & Heartbreak. Kanye’s constant insecurity and need for critical approval propelled him toward further musical exploration past Graduation, further into trance, house music, and samples of Steely Dan and Elton John. 808s & Heartbreak almost gets there. Kanye abandons rapping, singing the entire album through an Autotuner – an audio processor used to correct pitch – transmuting a lowest-com-
mon denominator trend in 2008 pop music into a form of artistic expression. The album furthers his move toward a colder style, dispensing with soul samples, featured artists, and any sense of a world outside Kanye. What appeared to be a conscious artistic choice toward isolation on Graduation has nonetheless revealed itself to be unintentional, unwanted, and the key to understanding the album. Early in the album, Kanye bemoans, “My friend showed me pictures of his kids, and all I could show him was pictures of my cribs / chased the Good Life my whole life long – now I look back on my life and my life’s gone.” 808s posits an either/or between material success and happiness, with Kanye ascribing the loss of his mother, his fiancé, and his friends to his pursuit of his dreams. The use of Autotune, which on Graduation’s “Good Life” made his voice stately and triumphant, has been inverted, turning Kanye robotic, cynical, and misanthropic. He’s still as remote and inaccessible as he was when he Glowed in the Dark, but the synths and Autotune no longer drape him in celebration so much as drown him. From start to finish, Kanye is bitter and angry, with no one more than himself. One of the album’s highlights, “Amazing,” features Kanye calling himself a monster and “the only thing [he’s] afraid of,” while the album closes with the freestyle “Pinocchio Story” – Kanye just wants to be a real boy, y’all. West’s newfound bitterness first showed itself on Wayne’s “Lollipop” remix earlier this year, where women surrounded him because they “get to shop” and “finna murder [him] like everybody else.” The ghost of old love is obsession, filling the album with women turned into paranoid, heartless, controlling RoboCops by Hollywood. Hoping that he’s “still got time to grow / things ain’t always set in stone,” but fearing that he’s stuck at a dead end, Kanye spends the better part of an hour mired in paranoia, loneliness, and self-loathing. Prevailing wisdom was that 808s couldn’t possibly be listenable, let alone good. And yet, against the odds, it works. Kanye’s self-obsession and unwarranted sense of persecution are as unattractive as ever, but the vulnerability exuded by every song is a novelty, both for Kanye as a person, and as a multi-platinum rap artist. The key to its effectiveness is the minimalist, measured music and the surprising power of Autotune, which gives the impression of Kanye willfully suppressing his emotions. Claustrophobic and disturbed, 808s & Heartbreak is nonetheless a captivating, and frequently enjoyable listen. You can call him crazy, but as you’ll learn from his self-help book, “Crazy is a label that the average put on the exceptional.” Exactly.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Democratic, expressive, expensive Public art provides fodder for a thousand Facebook albums Nicolas Boisvert-Novak The McGill Daily
ou’d think that The Daily’s reputation for art-snobbery would dissuade it from publishing, of all the things we don’t give a shit about, a piece on public art. But try to look at it the way my editors do: maybe it’s just one of those things you never knew you loved. Sorry, that’s a load of shit. Public art, as it happens, isn’t anything most of us are interested in. And yet, were we to take the Museum of Fine Art’s word for it – as I did a couple weeks ago at the Public Art Symposium – we’d realize that public art is a lot more pervasive than we think. For example, those two clashing rams right outside of Stuart Bio? The ones you have Facebook pictures of yourself straddling? That’s right: public art. And that searchlight circling above Montreal? Some might disagree, but Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – a clever, techobsessed public artist who resides in
Montreal and spoke at the symposium – would characterize it the same way. Considering his line of work, that doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. Billing himself as an electronic artist, his pieces tend to focus on the unlikely convergence of technology, art, and self-expression. Highlight piece Body Moves, for example, consisted of projecting the shadows of passers-by onto a building façade, the sizes of which were determined by the distance from the light projector. Anyone passing through would immediately find his silhouette projected, in monstrous proportions, onto that enormous white screen, along with those of other unwitting participants. Sure enough, city-dwellers caught on quickly, improvising strange forms of street-theatre, temporarily breaking free from what Lozano-Hemmer called the “increasingly homogenized urban condition.” While one’s appreciation for Lozano-Hemmer’s broader agenda remains a function of taste, the sheer ingenuity of the artistic platform it
put under city residents’ feet is harder to deny. Whichever way you look at it, his is an empowering form of art. One could imagine performance artists eventually making use of such an installation, obscuring its original meaning – and perhaps even expressing their own takes on municipal life, in all its communal and antagonistic glory. Art-enabling art, you could say. But Lozano-Hemmer’s vision – democratic, expressive…expensive – seemed out of place at the symposium, whose by-and-for-public-artists focus struck me as somewhat of a missed opportunity. The other speakers – among them art historians, bigshot curators, and the incumbent Montreal mayor – seemed mostly interested in public art as urban ornaments, some of them going on at lengths about budgetary concerns while others masked shallow theorizing with elaborate diction. As for Montreal’s public art development prospects, the symposium pointed to a promising future: private investments in such projects have
been increasing, while the municipal government has decided to follow a Percent for Art program, dedicating one per cent of its public development expenditures on art. But with respect to the artistic traditions it valued, the symposium seemed decidedly out of touch. For example, the presentation given by Lisa Graziose Corrin, former artistic lead of the Seattle Olympic sculpture park, was littered with Art History in-jokes and modernistic eyesores. There, as a boundless source of pride, was her subversion of the “plinth” as a guiding principle behind the park’s design. How fascinating. Not to say that her heart was in the wrong place: as her presentation made clear, the Olympic Park’s design was upheld by startlingly inventive, democratic principles. Yet it’s not the intentions I’m indicting, but the highbrow cultural standards she seemed to impose on urban space. Given public art’s inbuilt audience – the general public – one would think it shouldn’t restrict itself to art-initiates.
Thankfully, the symposium’s Quebecois speakers seemed slightly more detached from that tradition, expressing their deep appreciation for Montreal’s unique heritage, which Mayor Gérald Tremblay promised would remain central in future public art projects. It was a reassuring thought, one that will hopefully prevent Montreal from importing artists’ visions wholesale, expecting the city to adapt to the art, and not the other way around. In other words – post-modern worst-case-scenarios notwithstanding – the symposium gave ample reason to believe in our fair city’s artistic future. With Lozano-Hemmer’s democratic vision guiding the way, a more interactive, challenging public art landscape seems well within our reach. Just imagine the possibilities: unbridled self-expression, vibrant new venues for creative thought, and infinitely more opportunities for inane Facebook pictures. If that isn’t something to give a shit about, I don’t know what is.
For the most part, though, the largest stakes in these stories are whether the couples will stay together or not, and even in the face of these anxieties they often find themselves ultimately indifferent. They grapple with the idea of aging, of the way that staying together and being apart are often equally unthinkable propositions – potentially weighty themes, if handled with a certain subtlety and depth. Here, however, they hone in on
basic precepts of life as though they were a revelation – people age; everything is impermanent; sometimes romance doesn’t work out. The stories take these as their conclusions, rather than telling us something new about how to live in light of these facts. Perhaps if there was something more in the picture besides two characters and their loneliness, their melancholy musings might just be that much more meaningful. As it is, they come off cloying and self-absorbed.
An exercise in melancholy Alienation and loneliness ring hollow in Seven Openings of the Head Braden Goyette The McGill Daily
iane Keightley’s short story collection Seven Openings of the Head is a series of pretty exercises in alienation, loneliness, and existential fatigue, most of them set in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. They are peopled with men and women who don’t understand each other, who trade clever dialogue back and forth over the distances between them like a game of verbal ping-pong. These stories unfold slowly, promising to build toward some kind of payoff – a moment of revelation, a brief understanding, or a blunt, cynical ending that comments on the futile situations the characters are in. Sometimes this works – this last kind of ending is the one Keightley is best at, occasionally showing her skill with deadpan humour. Overall, though, they don’t quite make it there; most of the time the stakes are too low for the punchy endings to resonate. Maybe it’s because Keightley’s characters seem to exist in a vacuum. The scope of these stories tunnels down to a world made up of two or three people, with only some passing atmospheric details – well-rendered though they may be – to anchor them in their rural setting. The stories don’t make up in emotional depth what they lack in scope, with their two-dimensional
characters and ham-fisted, unnatural dialogue. Take, for example, the boy in “The Channel Swimmer,” trying to share his life with two strangers in a bar: “‘But I love gardening,’ he says, ‘I really do. I look up at the sky at night and think, this is it, this is my life.’ He has begun to slur a little. ‘Why the fuck shouldn’t I be happy?’” Keightley is perfectly capable of turning a phrase or commanding an apt metaphor: the boy’s mind is “awash in beer and awful distances;” he tries to describe to the women he meets “how he fills the shallow bowl of his days.” But somehow the author fails to come through on the insights that such phrases promise. The description of his days is just as shallow as that bowl might be. Those awful distances lose some of their bite when they’re between characters whose highs and lows feel more like cardboard cutouts of real emotions, flat outlines with little fine detail in between. We get to know most of Keightley’s male characters almost exclusively as projection screens for the women’s anxieties. Most of them, with a couple exceptions, feel like the same person making repeated appearances. Kit’s exaggerated description at the start of “No One Tells You” essentially sums up Keightley’s recurring two-dimensional male lead: “You are a bad man…. You don’t care about anyone but yourself…. You feel no remorse, and you never apologize for your bad behaviour.” Some nuance is
introduced to these relationships only by virtue of the varied reactions the female characters have to their male counterparts over the course of the book, from ambivalence to protective affection to growing irritation. There are instances when Keightley’s stories strain toward an acute moment of feeling or an emotionally dense scene, particularly in the ending of “They Never Tell You,” some parts of “The Channel Swimmer,” and “Triton and Tex.”
Flat characters struggle with interpersonal relations in rural Quebec.
Braden Goyette / The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Highway to nowhere David Adams Richards’s “great Canadian novel” is anything but Jayda Fogel Culture Writer
avid Adams Richards’s latest book The Lost Highway promises a tale of murder, mystery, and tragedy. It’s about a small Canadian community torn apart by a vicious web of family secrets, and the vengeance taken to right a perceived wrong. All the ingredients for a truly brilliant Canadian novel are there; an antihero with everything to prove, a married woman he’s loved from afar since childhood, a tyrannical uncle who denies him everything and whose business he helped ruin, a French murder accomplice, and a lottery ticket worth 13-million dollars. Yes, the plot promises an excellent story. Too bad the author just couldn’t follow up. The Lost Highway is, to put it simply, a Miramichi, New Brunswick soap opera whose only redeeming factor is its author’s realistic illustration of the abject poverty and despair found within his town. Richards plays with the physical and spiritual consequences of crossing ethical and moral boundaries, but doesn’t make clear what exactly his idea of morality is. His protagonist, Alex Chapman is a small-town Ethics professor at the local community college who fails in every way to follow his own beliefs. He is a failed intellectual, and Richards describes him using every intellectual stereotype known to literature: he is a man both “ineffectual and cowardly,” who wears a corduroy jacket and spouts liberal secular ideals. Unfortunately for the reader, there is absolutely no clear antagonist in this book, nor any real problems, save those that Chapman cre-
ates for himself with his obsequious habits and idiotic mannerisms. For most of the book, it feels as though Richards is flipping backwards and forwards in time not simply to show Alex’s despair and loneliness, but rather to find some clear culprit to blame it all on. His long-winded metaphors and repetition throughout the book only make the reader’s job that much harder. Sometimes Chapman can do no wrong – then he steals from a church. After returning as a failure from university, Richards suddenly announces that Chapman has a talent for sculpting. And, of course, Chapman blames everything and anything on the man who married his childhood sweetheart after he ran away from her. Not only is the reader looking for someone to act as an antagonist, but we feel as though Chapman is, too. Every few pages he blames someone different: his tyrannical uncle (who later on begins to seem increasingly less tyrannical); the father who abandoned him; Leo Bourque, the man who Chapman caused to lose his job, his wife, and his bank account, in addition to being injured; the daughter of the man he hates and the woman he obsesses over; even June Tucker, the woman who eventually supplants his position at the university due to his own machinations. Honestly, this book and author were a severe disappointment. It was 393 pages of self-important puttering, and it is most certainly not a “masterwork,” thank you very much, Globe and Mail. Far, far from it. If you want to read a great Canadian novel, look to Findley, Boyden, or Richler instead. The Lost Highway is available for $14 from Doubleday Canada.
Thanks to all our contributors this semester! Erica Adelson, Zoya Aleem, Julie Alsop, Laura Anderson, Juli Atallah, Kelley Baldwin, Ian Beattie, Francesca Bianco, Jacqueline Bird, Chelsea Blazer, Sophie Busby, Nicolas Boisvert-Novak, Benjamin Brown, Nicholas Cameron, Emily Clare, Maeve Clougherty, Madeline Coleman, Jillian Croucher, Victoria DiPlacido, Dana Drori, Sara Duplancic, April Engelberg, Alyssa Favreau, Rebecca Feigelsohn, Sarah Fegelman, Pamela Fillion, Jayda Fogel, Veronica French, Allison Friedman, Daniel Gurin, Geoffrey Halparin, Maya Hamovitch, Camille Holden, Jane Hu, Sean Iacurti, Ivy Johnson, Frances Kim, Adrienne Klasa, Michelle Kwok, Thom Large, Anna Leocha, Simon Lewsen, Ming Lin, Ryan MacKellar, Jaime MacLean, Whitney Mallett, Caitlin Manicom, Hannah Martin, Marielle McGovern, Livingston Miller, Sarah Mortimer, Chase Moser, Samuel Neylon, Erin O’Callaghan, Aditi Ohri, Liam O’Keefe, Alexander Ostroff, Suzie Philippot, Priam Poulton-McGraw, Maia Reed, Tiana Reid, Sarah Rohoman, Mikael Rubin, Kimberly Ryan, Carly Shenfeld, Amelia Schonbek, Zachary Shuster, Michael Tau, Alana Taylor, Morgan Teeple Hopkins, Nancy Termini, Mai Anh Tran-Ho, Nicholas Van Beek, Aaron Vansintjan, Joseph Watts, Alexander Weisler, and Meghan Wray.
Want to join the Daily Culture team next year? We have meetings every Tuesday at 5:30 in the Daily office and our first meeting of 2009 is on January 13. No experience necessary and everyone is welcome! We’re nice, we promise.
Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily
Giving the students what they want Redpath shawarma server moves his beacon of light to St. Laurent
Ryan MacKellar Culture Writer
ating in Redpath is often an unsatisfying experience. One must either choose to brave the long lines at Tim Horton’s for a mere doughnut and coffee, or opt for pizza that often leaves much to be desired. However, once, there was another option. One man, Siddiq Akbar, decided to offer students a different kind of food. For some, his shwarma stand became a beacon of light within the depths of Redpath, providing a tasty and relatively bal-
anced meal for hungry students. After beginning in 2004 at New Rez, Akbar has decided to open his own restaurant. Chef Guru opened last Friday and is located just south of St. Laurent and Rachel. He hopes he can corner the student market in the area by offering cheap food that is also freshly made. “Many of Montreal’s fast food restaurants offer food that is tasteless and not fresh,” he says. “I will make my food fresh, not use sauces from a can. By making sauces and food fresh, it allows for more flavour.” His restaurant will sell mostly Indian food but also variety of other South and East Asian cuisine, offering dishes such as naan bread, tandoori chicken, samosas, and – his own creation – fish and chips infused with an assortment of spices. The meals will sell from between $8-10, with a chicken curry lunch special for $6 as
his special promotion. Yet part of Akbar’s plans for the restaurant will be continued experimentation with different cuisines. “It is something I am passionate about. I love to create new dishes and try out new ideas. I want to fuse dishes from different cultures to create new foods for my restaurant.” Ultimately, opening a new restaurant can often be a difficult task, but Akbar says he is not too concerned. He already opened two in his native Pakistan, and is confident that this one will be a success as well. He believes that he knows what students are looking for in a restaurant. “Students want tasty food and they want it for cheap. I am confident that once people have my food, they will want to return.” Chef Guru is located at 4120 St-Laurent.
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Reading between the lines of a glass book Tim Clark’s “Reading The Limits” interprets philosophy through art Mikael Rubin Culture Writer
block of glass is a mysterious object, a surface at once transparent and transformative. The Glass Book, the first art piece in Tim Clark’s retrospective exhibition “Reading the Limits,” remarks on the illuminating function common to books and glass. What is “seen” through a book not only presents a different way of thinking, looking, and understanding, but also changes the way that you yourself think, look, and understand. The same can be true for a pane of glass. I have rarely come across artworks that are transparent; what do they intend to show, if they don’t show anything at all? But The Glass Book, which is engraved with a tree, plays with the idea that sight is a form of seeing through. The idea that it is a book, which we would want to open and read, is reinforced by the open razor blade fixed to one end of the piece. The point is that there is nothing to be read, only the leaves on
the tree. They are apparent, but also transformative – they change the nature of what you see on the “other” side, both the other side of the text and the other side of the glass. If to see is to believe, then not seeing – or seeing through – must tell us something about sight itself. Clark plays with this notion of seeing, of working to see both the meaning behind something and the meaning that is in front of us. The bookcase adjacent to The Glass Book also sets up an interesting conceit (in the best possible way), in that it reveals an interest in philosophy; I did not have to ask Clark whether he was influenced by philosophy, he shows it to anyone who looks. And this transparency is itself a sort of glass book – the author’s intent shows through and reveals to the viewer what his work is largely about. But this does not mean that it becomes a simplistic matter of attributing a work to a philosopher or an idea; rather, knowing the influence forces you to look more closely, to try and understand, and even to discern other possible meanings outside of the ones prescribed. The direct address to the viewer forces one to
contemplate other ways of seeing ing this work. Clark rewrote a piece of art about the very nature, the indeand thinking. The way we read a text or view an cipherability of the act of writing; of artwork is automatically preceded how creative action is so completely by our pre-existing knowledge, but veiled from the viewer. I’ve found it rare that there is anythe judgments we make are often purely instinctual. Some Thoughts on thing remotely interactive or physithe Question of Limits in Art brings cally engaging about artworks, but to bear this duality. It features two Clark’s Deipnosophistae is like readprojector images shining on the dif- ing a book. And the piece is actuferent sides of the same surClark plays with the notion of face. On one seeing, of working to see both the side is a page projected, on meaning behind something and the other the the meaning that is in front of us page is being written backwards. When I was speaking to Clark about the show, he mentioned that ally a book that you are expected he had actually lost the original foot- to read; in fact, it is the only way to age of the writing component of the engage with the artwork, otherwise piece. When the curator approached it lies closed and bound. The galhim about the retrospective, he also lery employee gives you a pair of gloves to handle the book, but turnasked Clark to re-film that piece. To re-do a piece is almost to rewrite ing the pages is left entirely to you. it, Clark explained, but because the The book’s pages are text – entirely idea was the same, the new piece is in French, so I couldn’t read them – essentially identical. I am less quick interspersed with three pornographto dismiss the implications of remak- ic images. Clark later explained that
In keeping with the literate theme of his work, Tim Clark reads an excerpt from The Bikeriders in a 1979 performance piece.
the text is from Spinoza and deals with ethics and caution; a balance of the interior, the normative structure, and a position on the outside, as a dissident or critic. The piece is strangely compelling in the way that you turn the pages and read a history, but one that is told peripherally and visually. Clark pointed out that people often referred to it as a pornographic work – that they were led by their immediate perceptions to draw a conclusion about the work, regardless of the intent, pointed to a meaning beyond simple pornographic images. Even though I couldn’t read the French, I wanted to believe, especially considering the other works, that there was a reason. Having it explained to me, I realized that the reading of a book necessitates that you have some context or referent, but also that reading without one, struggling with deciphering a text, constitutes an act of “reading” in itself; you are reading the impenetrability and incomprehensibility of artwork and even of text – because you can’t know the meaning of a work of art. Unless you ask the artist – and sometimes, not even then.
Photo courtesy of Alex Neuman
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
CULTURE BRIEFS Alternative approaches Often more renowned for stifling creativity than supporting it, McGill has rarely been seen as the vanguard of artistic endeavour. But Professor Alanna Thain’s Alternative Approaches to Media class is changing all that. After beating the odds and registering for the course in last year’s registration feeding frenzy, 17 aspiring filmmakers experimented with numerous techniques this semester, from stop motion animation to found footage collages and Super 8 film. On Tuesday, December 2, McGill is hosting an
Exammania Regina Phelangi 1
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exhibit celebrating the efforts of the class, some of whose films were selected to compete as finalists in the Festival de Nouveau Cinema’s Concours Fantôme this past October. Students will present their final projects, which address fundamental questions about film as a medium in 2008, such as the democratization of media, the prevalence of the small screen, and the fate of celluloid in an art increasingly engaged with the Internet. The free screening takes place at 6:30 p.m. in the Arts Building. Come support the efforts of these dedicated filmmakers, and show McGill that this creative course is a step in the right direction. – Joshua Frank
group, first got together and started making music. This December, the choir is putting on Acentos Latinos, a Christmas performance with a Latin American theme. The show will include choral adaptations of folk songs, religious pieces, as well as modern compositions. The group has also selected a number of arrangements from the internationally acclaimed Spanish composer Javier Busto, as well as Canada’s own Stephen Hatfield. Simply Sweetly is performing on Saturday December 6 at 7:30 p.m., at Christ Church Cathedral (located on the corner of Ste. Catherine and University). Tickets are $8 for students and $15 for adults. To book in advance, email email@example.com. Admission is also available at the door, and there will be a wine and cheese following the show.
It’s been nearly seven Christmases since Simply Sweetly, McGill’s all-women choral
Across 1. Complain 5. South American country 9. Skin layer 14. Imitator 15. Impulse transmitter 16. Basket material 17. “Nuh-uh!” 18. Detective’s need 19. “Divine Comedy” poet 20. Former NDP leader (first site of hidden word) 23. Hydrocarbon group 24. “Comprende?” 25. Ed.’s request 27. Discouraging words 28. Branch 31. Philosophy class homework 34. Unicellular organism (var.) 36. Calgary Stampede sight 37. What a jock likes to do (second site of hidden word) 40. Bleated 42. Fold 43. Hardens glass or metal 46. Bit 47. 911 responder (abbr.) 50. Barbecue offering 51. Eroded 53. Smaller than an island 55. Fictional super-country (third site of hidden word) 60. Caddyshack actor Albert 61. Legal starter 62. “ be a cold day in hell ...”
– Simon Lewsen
63. Rose oil 64. Employs 65. Howie Mandel might make you one 66. Chaotic 67. Fly, e.g. 68. Blows it Down 1. Ancient Middle East region 2. Artemis’s twin 3. Drives back 4. Head honcho 5. Hand part 6. SSMU member, maybe 7. Streets 8. Ruiner 9. Birdbrain 10. Biblical twin 11. Good seats 12. Natural gas component 13. “ we having fun yet?” 21. City on San Francisco Bay or in southeastern Saskatchewan 22. Born, to Brigitte 26. Conceit 29. Canadian ballet dancer Harrington 30. John Molson grads might have one 32. Short-lived CBS show Joan of 33. Blockhead 34. Away from the wind 35. Increase, with “up”
37. Engine parts 38. Final: Abbr. 39. Caribbean, e.g. 40. des Pins 41. Bring to life 44. Break out 45. 2006 dance movie 47. Kind of beetle 48. Apple-like fruit 49. Horse homes 52. Clear 54. Spiteful 56. Dec. holiday 57. Breezy 58. Rages 59. Actors 60. Casablanca pianist
Solution to “Good Puns” V E R S E
A G E N T
S P I T
L A C E
F L E A
R O M P
T G I U N O N M I N I P S C H E S S O L A T L A E O E U P E T H E E V E E M A R D E D I G R E N E A S
B S I T B I B N E G A T R E I N T O S U R S I L S O N C A U P M A
A D A G I O
C I L A N T R L O E E M S E N N I O N R X
C E P T E T E R L U R E T I V E T O G A
E G I S
R U S E
S E T A
P T E T A I V E S T E R H R S E Y E
The McGill Daily, Monday, December 1, 2008
Lies, Half-truths, & Buying times
Daily moustache competition extended
Above is an example of a rockin’ ‘stache, worthy of mirroring apostrophes. We would’ve declared Mr. Handlebar the winner of this year’s competition, but instead the *nEw* deadline is January 8. Mark it down, and send your facial hair photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sterling Street wishes you safe and happy holidays times. Send cookies to email@example.com.
Dan Hawkins / The McGill Daily
Angel Chen for The McGill Daily
Visit the McGill Computer Store at 3420 McTavish Street or online at www.mcgill.ca/mcs and start saving today.