May 20, 2014 · Volume 147, Issue 3
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May 20, 2014
Alison Roach Coordinating Editor I was always taught that “hate” is a strong word, and scolded for using it haphazardly. That being said, I really hate listicles. Though you may not have heard the word, your Internet and social media life has definitely been inundated with them. “Listicle” is a journalistic term for a short-form article that uses a list for its structure. Buzzfeed has capitalized on the listicle with great success, throwing list after list up on its website everyday, luring millions of people in with titles like “29 Most Canadian Things to Ever Canada in Canada” and “16 Reasons Why Baby Aardvarks Are The Most Conflicting Animals Ever.” Beyond being about insane things, listicles irk me simply because, from a writing standpoint, they’re incredibly lazy. Most of them don’t even use full sentences. It’s the easiest thing in the world to write a list of short thoughts accompanied by massive photos or gifs to illustrate your point. Writing an actual, developed article? With a beginning, middle, and end, with research and sourced quotes? Well, that’s a lot harder.
According to a New Yorker article, the listicle format may do something to alleviate the “paradox of choice,” which is a fancy term for the bad feels you get whenever it takes you over an hour to decide where to get takeout. The human brain likes to do as little work as possible to process information, so we feel good when we make quick decisions, no matter how high (or low) their importance. Clicking on a list is a quick decision. On a busy Twitter stream of links being shared, listicles are easy to pick and easy to unpack; we know exactly what they’re going to give us, and exactly how long it will take. I’ve never been surprised by the contents of a list. It told me beforehand that I was going to get “31 Coffee Stains That Almost Look
Like West Virginia,” and man, did it deliver. The sense of accomplishment we get from finishing the listicle adds to the warm fuzzy feelings we have towards them, and makes us more likely to click on a list again. And so the cycle goes. If people are going to keep clicking on listicles, why stop making them? The New Yorker concludes, “In the current media environment, a list is perfectly designed for our brain. We are drawn to it intuitively, we process it more efficiently, and we retain it with little effort.” Too bad list-lovers won’t have read the article. I must say, though, you have to check out “17 Guys Who Look Nothing Like Jason Statham.” That shit is gold. Disclaimer: All listicle titles used in this article are real.
A new report out of SFU has validated innovative initiatives which aim to provide supportive housing for marginalized individuals in Vancouver. SFU’s RADIUS Lab, in partnership with Ecotrust Canada, recently released a report called Pay-for-Performance Partnerships: A case study in funding for Supportive Housing. The report covers a feasibility study of the application of social impact bonds (SIBs) to the issue of individuals with severe addiction and or mental illness (SAMI) living on the streets of Vancouver. The report suggests that SIB’s might be an important “jumpstart” for providing people with SAMIs with affordable housing and supportive services. The SIB model involves private investors who provide start-up funding to innovative social programs that aim to solve a persistent social welfare issue, and also save the public money long term. If the program is successful, investors are paid back out of public savings that result from the implementation of the program. Normally, governments can’t afford to gamble on new social programs that have not been proven to work, explained Colin Stansfield, who co-prepared the report with Ecotrust Canada intern, Geordan Hankinson. The beauty of the SIB
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model, he says, is that it provides a non-philanthropic incentive for private companies to fund social projects. The report summarizes the SIB model as “privatizing risk and socializing benefits.” The team’s research was based on evidence that came out of the At Home/Chez Soi study done by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, which provided proof that a “housing-first” approach to mental health and homelessness issues provides the most benefit for both the individuals it treats, and the public. The benefit comes from a marked reduction in inappropriate use of social services, such as unnecessary time spent in hospital inpatient care, repeated encounters with police and the justice system, and frequent emergency room visits. With a permanent place to live, marginalized individuals receive more consistent care, and can rely less on emergency services.
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The first SIB ever implemented is an ongoing project in a men’s prison in the UK called the HMP Peterborough, which aims to reduce rates of reoffending among recently released prisoners. The project is slated to serve 3,000 individuals over a period of six years. If recidivism rates are reduced by 7.5 per cent or more by the end of the program, investors will be paid out of public savings at a maximum return rate of 13 per cent annually. While SIBs have found success outside of Canada, the model has yet to be implemented here. This is where last week’s report comes into play: it provides academic evidence that the SIB model could offer a solution to Vancouver’s homelessness issue, by garnering enough funding to cover startup costs of supportive programs. RADIUS Lab focused their study on Vancouver’s SAMI population in response to a declaration of a mental health crisis on city streets by the Vancouver municipal
Leah Bjornson associate news editor firstname.lastname@example.org / 778.782.4560
government in September, 2013. Due to a limited increase in funding available to deal with the crisis from the Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, Stansfield says the benefits of having access to a large pool of private capital became even more apparent. “The federal government has expressed an interest in innovative social funding, which includes SIBs,” Stansfield said in an interview with The Peak. “The point [of SIBs] is to attract new sources of capital, and to de-risk the uptake of these innovative service interventions into public policy.” The report presents hope for homeless SAMI individuals in Vancouver, calling SIBs “a tool to model total system redesign, restructuring and redesigning how support systems are delivered to a target population.” You can follow Freya Olson
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Lego pieces, forks, guns, medical models, and makeup; with capabilities to create everyday items, 3D printers are poised to disrupt mass production and the manufacturing sector as a whole. Leading the charge is SFU graduate Eugene Suyu, who recently put Vancouver on the map with the launch of his company, Tinkerine, and its revolutionary printer DittoPro. The DittoPro is a prosumer-level 3D printer that, according to Suyu, is meant to “sit in your office or home and not look like it’s out of place.” Suyu graduated two years ago from the SIAT program, where he encountered his first 3D printer in an industrial design course. “Once you use a 3D printer [as an industrial designer], a lot of thoughts go through your head. It opens up the doors in terms
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of what you can create,” said Suyu, who decided to create a 3D printer geared toward individuals after being unable to find one on the market. 3D printing decentralizes the manufacturing process by allowing the average person to print an entire object in their own home by uploading a digital image to the machine. The range of objects that can be created is limited only by each machine’s size, and the types of materials it can handle. Most 3D printers use a variation of plastic, although recently a Harvard student launched a printer that is able
to create powdered eyeshadows and lipsticks through a process that is more similar to that of an inkjet printer. Tinkerine elected to use PLA, a biodegradable corn-sugar substrate, as the input version of the plastic; “[It] makes the room smell like a candy shop,” Suyu said. While Tinkerine does not have facilities on-site to handle material recycling, they do manufacture most of their machines inhouse. Despite using local labour, DittoPro’s price is about 30 per cent lower than a comparable model on the market right now. Suyu said that producing locally
allowed for greater quality control and reliability of the machines. SFU acquired its first 3D printers at upwards of $15,000 whereas the DittoPro costs just $1,999 — although the two models can print about the same size and resolution. However, it would take SFU’s printers up to two to three times longer than the DittoPro to print the exact same object. But back in 2007, when SFU purchased its printers, the slower model was the baseline for affordability and productivity. Despite the political, social, and economic implications of a technology that can decentralize power and production, Suyu is more focused on the technical aspects of 3D printing — he sees the socio-political controversies as a “side effect” of what he is doing, rather than the driving force. SFU has yet to place an order for the new DittoPros, which are set to ship in May, but Suyu is optimistic that there could be cross-collaboration between industrial design courses and Tinkerine’s education initiatives. You can follow Esther Tung
Staff, students, faculty, and community members considered our place in space last week when SFU and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) hosted two events — Science Rendezvous and International Astronomy Day — on May 10 at the Burnaby Campus. According to professor Howard Trottier from SFU’s Department of Physics, the event “had representation from all science departments and applied science, as well as the local astronomy group.” The merged events occurred on the same day as 300 to 400 other space-related events across Canada. “The overall event today [. . .] is organized around something like the National Science Day, called Science Rendezvous,” explained Trottier. The event also offered SFU its first opportunity
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to partner with RASC, which was planning to host a similar event. “Coincidentally, we were going to do it on the same day and [at] the same place. So, we decided to team up! It’s packed!” Trottier commented. The dual-hosted event had a wide range of activities, discussions, lectures, and displays of science. In one area of the event, attendees could look through telescopes of 30x to 100x magnification to see the moss growing on the edge of a campus building. In another section, they could peer down the hexagonal honeycomb patterns of material used in the siding of rockets. Visitors even learned about the dairy industry by milking a dummy-cow. Participants who wanted to come back down to Earth and public policy could talk to Mark Eburne, a man with a passion for the prevention and reduction of light pollution. Eburne works, along with organizations such as Lite Bright, to campaign on behalf of citizens concerned about light pollution. Attendees could also listen to a free lecture on a various science topics including Apollo space missions and the Aurora Borealis.
The University of British Columbia has begun a program for prenatal education through text messaging. The digital health program, called SmartMom Canada, is headed by Professor Patti Janssen of the School of Population and Public Health in conjunction with the Child and Family Research Institute. Educational prenatal health information is sent by the agency to expectant mothers via text message. The service will connect pregnant women with health services and educate them on how to care for themselves and their babies before birth. According to Janssen, one of the main goals behind SmartMom is to provide educational information to individuals seeking knowledge, but who are unable to attend the classes.
With files from Vancouver Sun
Trottier considers these events of high importance in two respects: community and outreach. The event occurred at the location of SFU’s new observatory called the Trottier Observatory and Courtyard, named for and funded by Trottier’s brother, which will be built later this year. According to Trottier, this observatory is meant to build both a passion for science and a greater community spirit; it
is meant for students as a gathering place and as a place to learn about astronomy. Concerning outreach, he stated, “The RASC is a national organization [. . .] They strongly support outreach at SFU. They bring their telescopes out here to show to the public. They also provide volunteers.” Trottier believes the RASC will help build outreach and community by encouraging families
Capilano University has seized a piece of art from its campus grounds. The work in question, named “Blathering on in Krisendom,” is a sculpture of university President Kris Bulcroft, toting a poodle and wrapped in the American flag. Capilano professor and creator of the piece, George Rammell, is calling for the return of the sculpture. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. He was informed by campus security that the administration had given them the authority to remove the piece from campus. “I called the RCMP to report the theft. The officer arrived and he said he had been talking to administration: they had asked him if they would be liable if they destroyed the sculpture,” said Rammell.
and their children to learn, ask questions, and build genuine interest in the operations and productions of science. Many of these kinds of events come from an internal drive to educate the public on the importance of science through communication and community. Trottier concluded, “We’re living in a golden age of astronomy. And almost nobody knows about it.”
The University of Manitoba intends to increase graduate student fees by almost 330 per cent. As it stands now, students pay an initial program fee in their first year and then pay an annual continuing fee of $700. The plan is to increase that continuing fee to $3,000. Dean Jay Doering says that the fees will go toward support for graduate students as well as administrative and library services. Despite the reasoning behind the tuition hike, a survey done by the University of Manitoba Graduate Student’s Association showed that the majority of students are concerned about the increase.
With files from Yahoo News With files from Georgia Straight
If counting sheep isn’t enough for busy university students looking to tuck in after a long day, a new app from SFU cognitive science professor Luc Beaudoin may be just the ticket to curing sleeplessness. Beaudoin’s new app uses audio cues to interrupt the problemsolving and sense-making nature of our minds that keeps us awake. The app, mySleepButton, presents users with a variety of content which has been specifically chosen to induce sleep, shuffling the suggestions every five seconds. Sleeplessness can be a big problem for university students, interrupting cognitive function the next day. Explained Beaudoin, many people before bed tend “to engage in problem solving, ruminating,
A new study from SFU graduate student Ashley Pritchard suggests that partner abuse may have adverse effects on the mental health of new mothers. Published in the journal, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, Pritchard said, “The study examined the associations of different types of intimate partner abuse and postpartum mental health problems.” The research brought to bear a few findings on the mental health of the women studied. Pritchard, a master’s student in SFU’s clinical forensic psychology program, explained the research
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imagining or thinking. One of the worst things is worrying that you’re not going to fall asleep.” “The brain is in the business of making sense,” Beaudoin continued. “During sleep onset there is actually something special going on, and that is when
team’s findings: “Higher levels of postpartum mental health problems were reported by women who experienced intimate partner abuse either before or during pregnancy. In addition, the negative effects on postpartum mental health increased as a function of the number of types of intimate partner abuse — psychological, physical and sexual — experienced.” Furthermore, the effects of different types of abuse were varied after pregnancy. “Psychological abuse [. . .] was associated with symptoms of PTSD and stress in the postpartum period. Physical abuse [. . .] was associated with symptoms of depression, OCD and PTSD in the postpartum period. Sexual abuse [. . .] was associated with symptoms of OCD in the postpartum period,” Pritchard said. Of the 100 women who participated in the study, 61 per cent experienced mental health symptoms in the postpartum period. Forty-seven per cent had mental health symptoms at “clinical” levels.
you successfully fall asleep, you give up on controlling your mental processes.” This understanding led Beaudoin to come up with the idea of a signalling mechanism within the brain which triggers sleep onset. “You can’t just say, ‘Let’s go to
The research also found that two thirds of the women “had a familial income of $60,000 or more, [suggesting] that intimate partner abuse is not constrained to households of lower socioeconomic status.” The scope of trauma in these findings is significant; however, Pritchard suggests there are things women can do to help themselves in these situations. Pritchard recommends that “healthcare providers should conduct routine screenings for intimate partner abuse” and “foster strong rapport with their patients so that mothers-to-be feel comfortable enough to discuss such issues.” Additionally, she said that it is “important that healthcare providers are informed about the prevalence and consequences of intimate partner abuse.” In the end, it all comes down to greater information. Said Pritchard, “Informing both women and their healthcare providers about findings like these will further help to open lines of communication, reduce stigma, and work to prevent harmful mental health problems.”
sleep.’ Your brain needs a signalling mechanism,” he said. Beaudoin took it upon himself to develop such a trigger that would help users to suspend “sense-making, prediction, and thought-control” — all of which inhibit sleep. The app is very simple. Users enter the launch screen, press the “put me to sleep button,” and the application reads words and
phrases depending on one of the three available modes: Simple Things (single words or short phrases), Scenes (multi-word phrases, e.g. “Bird on a branch”), and Things to Draw. Explained Beaudoin, “Your job is to imagine each word or phrase that is spoken to you and let yourself fall asleep.” The images included in the three mySleepButton packs were carefully selected by Beaudoin and his team based on the imaginability of images, the affective state, and common sense. “We didn’t always agree. Sometimes people thought, ‘Insect is ok, or ant.’ I personally said ‘No! It’s not good! People do not like ants or snakes when they’re going to sleep!’[. . .] Oh god. . .” exclaimed Beaudoin. Recognizing the differences in peoples’ personalities, Beaudoin acknowledged the possibilities of creating personalized or specialized sleep packs in the future. “This opens the door to all kinds of cool things. We could tailor streams of content for particular concerns and types of users,” said Beaudoin. Beaudoin admitted that with his busy schedule of interviews and marketing his new product, the app is coming in rather handy: “My mind is a very busy place, so I just reach for the thing, and it works.”
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May 20, 2014
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Wednesday mornings seem to be Justin Trudeau’s chosen time to drop his political bombshells. A few months ago, a Wednesday morning announcement signalled the end of Liberal senators remaining part of the party caucus, and May 7 heralded yet another announcement with ramifications for next year’s election. That morning, the Liberal Party leader announced that “future candidates [. . .] will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.” Up until 2012, the Liberal Party did not have a position on the issue, regarding it as a matter of conscience for the individual. This leaves several party members, including some sitting MPs, in an odd situation. While incumbent MPs will be allowed to continue to run regardless of their stance, Trudeau struggled
when asked if he would force them to vote against their conscience if an abortion bill did come up in the House. He would only say that their views “will be respected to a certain extent.” This declaration bans several former members who only lost their seats in the 2011 decimation of the party from attempting a return. It also has the potential to alienate many voters, as polls show that Canadians are thoroughly divided on the issue, with most polls showing that legal abortion under any
circumstances is supported by less than half of the population. The stance on abortion is only part of a larger issue here. The real problem is the erosion of freedom. In making his prochoice declaration, Trudeau has shown himself to be antichoice when it comes to being a Liberal. In addition to the abortion stance, future candidates will be vetted and undergo what essentially amounts to an ideological checklist to ensure that those candidates are “consistent with the Liberal
Party [. . .] as it stands under my [Trudeau’s] leadership.” It sounds to me like the Liberal leader is attempting to set up a party full of clones who will blindly obey the dictums of their “Glorious Leader,” setting up an ideological dictatorship of the sort that both the Liberals and the NDP have accused Prime Minister Harper of enjoying the past several years. It also seems to be a way for Mr. Trudeau to weasel his way around a promise not to use his power to appoint candidates
Have you ever felt like you’re somehow less mature than, say, your parents were when they were your age? Chances are you have. In generations past, it seemed like a lot more young people knew where they were headed in life and how to get there. In contrast, today’s youths seem to be marred by constant uncertainty and worry for their futures. But, why? I first came upon the concept of extended adolescence in one of
my psychology courses; it alludes to a trend in the younger generations in which individuals remain in a prolonged period wherein they don’t identify as adults. They are largely dependent on their parents and have yet to establish an autonomous lifestyle (i.e. moving out, having a full-time job, etc.). However, this period of dependence is increasingly being stretched out into one’s early to mid-twenties. Many young adults today (myself included) are living with their parents, often move back in with their parents after moving out, and are marrying and having children later in life. It appears as though adolescence, or at least the transition from adolescence to “full” adulthood, has become a longer process for contemporary youths,
and I believe that this is due to the fact that people now stay in academia longer than ever before. This is a phenomenon caused by Sir Ken Robinson’s “academic inflation,” or minimum job requirements generally becoming more complex. Graduating from high school no longer marks the end of formal education for most, as it did in the past. With each passing generation, more and more people are able to attend colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions. Even so, having a bachelor’s degree used to almost guarantee employment, and having a master’s or higher meant you would never be out of a job. Fast forward to present day, and a bachelor’s degree no longer holds as much prestige as it used to. It
has now become necessary, but not necessarily sufficient for a career. People graduating with a BA are now as commonplace as people graduating from high school a few short decades ago, and today’s MAs are near equivalent to BAs of the past. All this inflation means that people have to stay in school longer to get the required degree for their desired profession, or just for a better chance at getting a job. Today’s youths are thereby remaining in an academic setting for a longer period of time; those extra years serve as a buffer against the responsibilities of getting a job, finding their own place of residence, and everything else that comes with being a mature, independent adult. Many young adults today are stuck in psychosocial moratorium,
and to allow open nomination contests in every riding. There is every expectation that the vetting process will be used to weed out candidates considered unsuitable by the party leader. It would appear that the Conservative Party, contrary to what many would like to believe, is the party of free opinion, and one where MPs can disagree with the party line, including MP James Moore. In 2004, he was one of the few Conservative MPs to vote in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage despite the official party position on the issue. He continues to sit as a Conservative MP today, and has served in many important cabinet positions, including the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister of Industry. In addition, the Conservative Party caucus features a wide range of opinion on several important issues, including abortion and the death penalty, but all are still allowed to both run for office and sit in the House as Conservatives. It would appear that in Canadian politics, freedom of opinion is now a right wing ideal. You can follow Dustin Simmonds
not completely dependent but far from being autonomous. Psychologist Erik Erikson says this occurs while people try to find identity during their adolescent years. It is hard to say whether this extended adolescence is a good thing or a bad thing, as it is a relatively recent phenomenon, and I am personally still on the fence about it. However, it does help to explain why today’s youths appear to be less prepared and less certain of themselves than the older generations; it’s not because we’re any less competent, but because we’ve been given a few extra years of academic safety from the real world. Maybe it’s time we personally draw more attention to mixing the school world with the real world, to take advantage of the longer period we spend as adult-children.
May 20, 2014
Austin Cozicar Columnist
While rallying against an early 2-0 lead is not all that impressive, Dallas achieved three different two-goal leads (Anaheim would score, then Dallas would score, restoring the lead), with the last one remaining intact before Anaheim scored with 2:10 left in the third period. Before that goal the score was 4-2; by the time the game ended, it was 5-4 in Anaheim’s favour.
I first heard the phrase “dreaded two-goal lead” during one of the recent EA NHL games by commentator Gary Thorne. I initially scoffed at this saying because, in addition to being an excuse to hate on Thorne (I dislike the EA in-game play-byplay crew), it just sounds stupid. Why would a two-goal lead be bad? Two goals are better than one, aren’t they? Well, for the 2014 NHL playoffs, my pal Thome seems quite correct in his assessment. If one thing is certain in these games, it’s that no lead is safe, especially if it’s by two goals. Perhaps most notable of these was game two in the Montreal-Boston series, where the Canadiens were leading 3-1 to start the third period, only to lose 5-3 after four straight Boston goals. Or you might remember game seven of the AnaheimDallas game, when it looked like the eighth-placed Stars might upset the first in the western conference Anaheim Ducks, rushing out to 2-0 in the first 10 minutes.
Why does this happen? One would assume a two-goal lead should be fairly safe, especially with how strong some of these teams’ defenses are, and how talented the goalies are. A twogoal lead, you would think, is better than a one goal lead, with at least some room for margin for error. The reason: momentum. Once you score, you generally gain momentum, and the team that was scored on will play worse, probably resulting from nervousness after losing their seemingly safe lead. Now it only takes one goal to tie up the game, and generally, it seems, the team who scored is able to dominate for a while.
At this point, a second goal by the trailing team is a fairly good possibility and if it is achieved, the momentum has swung completely, giving the formerly trailing team the likeliest chance of scoring the next goal, and winning the game. With a three-goal lead, however, there is a cushion after being scored on, protecting the team from the immediate momentum gained. That being said, comebacks from three goals or more do still happen (as seen last year in Toronto’s glorious meltdown). In these playoffs, the dreaded leads do not just apply to the games individually but to series as well. St. Louis, after winning their first two games at home, ended up losing 4-2 in the series to Chicago. More recently, the New York Rangers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win in seven against the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, it should be noted that now the two goal leads seem to be evening out, with the collapses appearing less frequently, as compared to the first round where nearly every game held an amazing comeback.
Re: Recent Peak articles on Ukraine
Dear editor, The Ukraine is far away, and the crisis there hardly affects us here one way or another. But it is a flashpoint issue, and it does get a lot of coverage in mainstream media. In all that coverage, there is hardly any mention of the two most important factors, history and geography. [. . .] When Putin says that he is protecting ethnic Russians, that claim has no merit. Russia had several far more powerful reasons to annex Crimea, and we would do well to keep them in mind. Russia is and has always been an imperialist country throughout its various incarnations. In this, it is no different than any other country; they do whatever they think they can get away with. Russia’s annexation of Crimea was imperialist, but it was defensive in nature. That is, Russia was not increasing its territory, but rather was maintaining its territorial integrity. The history of Europe has always been a history of war and redrawing of borders. Crimea is no exception, but it has been continuously controlled by Russia since 1783. At that time, it was taken from a Mongol successor state, by force of arms, of course. It was transferred to Ukraine in 1954, but that still left it in the Soviet Union. The recent breakup of the Soviet Union may have changed the map again, but we ignore the previous 200 years at our peril. If it is legitimate for Ukraine to separate from Russia, then it is also legitimate for Crimea to separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia. However, questions of legitimacy are irrelevant in this situation. What actually matters is what Russia will do. Throughout its long history, the country has seen its share of war, [including attacks from] France under Napoleon
[and] Germany under Hitler [. . .] Since then, Russia has made sure to surround its core territory with a buffer region, and will by no means tolerate a small but hostile state right next door. Specifically, if Ukraine were to join NATO, that would provoke an extreme response from Russia. Notwithstanding any of the other considerations, the one that is far more important is the naval base of Sevastopol. This is the only place where Russia can park its Black Sea fleet, and it is being treated as irreplaceable. (Novorossiysk will not be available for several years.) Russia was blindsided by the collapse of the Soviet Union, but found a solution to keeping Sevastopol by paying Ukraine for its use. Russia was blindsided again by the recent political upheaval in Ukraine, and this time, facing the complete loss of Sevastopol, simply took it by force. This action was by no means morally pure, but it needs to be recognized that, from the Russian perspective, it was the only possible reaction to an existential threat. It should also be recognized that most of the people of Crimea support the annexation. Lest we think that the United States, the supposed bastion of human rights and respect for other nations, would not respond with extreme force to an existential threat, we need only remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. Closer to home, and actually quite relevant, think about what Canada would do if Quebec were to separate and perhaps join France. Would Canada simply accept it, or would we send in the troops and seize the St. Lawrence Seaway or even the whole province? The bottom line is that none of us is as pure as some of us claim to be.
Sincerely, Victor Finberg SFU Alumnus
Every week, thousands of SFU students go to classes, office hours, and lectures in the Education Building, one of SFU’s oldest structures and the headquarters of several of its faculties. Beyond its reputation as one of the school’s more run down areas, the Education Building may be posing a significant health risk to students, as well as to faculty members and staff — many of whom remain unaware that any such issue even exists. Last June, a building envelope assessment prepared by James Neill & Associates was issued to SFU which confirmed the presence of mould in multiple sites within the Education Building. These sites include, among other areas, the location of the Education and Archaeology faculty offices. However, a copy of this report, which was obtained by The Peak, was not delivered to the Central University and Local Joint Health and Safety Committees until almost a full year after its completion, nor was it forwarded to any of the on-campus unions and formal committees representing faculty, staff and students who use the building on a daily basis. The report, dated June 19, 2013, identified mould in a number of offices on the 8000 level of the north zone of the Education Building, in addition to elevated mould spore counts in regions throughout the south zone on the 8000 and 7000 levels. Eight of the 50 rooms examined (from April 30 to May 7, 2013) were identified by SFU’s Environmental Health & Research Safety (EHRS) as requiring “immediate action.” Furthermore, several locations within the Education Building were classified as having elevated moisture contents (over seven per cent), which is conducive to further mould growth and indicative of leakage in the building. The report pegged the total cost of repairs — exterior, interior, and roof work — at $1,241,540, allowing for engineering, contingency, and GST. Despite the significant potential for adverse health effects identified, large swaths of the building were not analyzed; the report identifies these areas as “wall obstructed or area inaccessible.” A number of these unexamined regions include offices and common areas, i.e. hallways, stairwells, and foyers. It is unclear as to when SFU commissioned the assessment, as James Neill, the individual who prepared the report, was unavailable for comment. In a sit-down interview with The Peak, Dr. Terry Waterhouse, SFU’s chief safety officer, indicated that the building envelope assessment was the first report in a series commissioned by SFU to determine the extent of mould infiltration. He noted that the successive analyses are to be compiled into a single report slated for release at the end of either May or June of this year, at which point, he said, they will become available for public viewing. Dr. Waterhouse further indicated that the Environmental Health and Research Safety Department is in the finishing stages of building a website designed to address frequently asked questions regarding indoor air quality and mould, on which the reports will be made available soon. Despite the report’s findings, very little information was initially communicated to staff or supporting unions and committees; this omission included the Health and Safety Committees, which officially received the report in March and April (Central and Local, respectively) of this year, at least six months after the documents began to be unofficially circulated through union offices. John Bannister, a representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3338, first became aware of the report during a monthly human resources meeting between employee groups, the faculty association, Administrative and Professional Staff Association (APSA) and Poly Party in September of 2013. “It was raised there that this report was available, so I requested [it] and [EHRS] sent it to me.” Concerned by the report’s contents, Bannister forwarded a copy to the Teaching and Support Staff Union (TSSU), which was, at that point, unaware of its existence. The TSSU also requested a copy of the report from EHRS, but as of yet have not received one. Dr. Waterhouse addressed concerns regarding the lack of communication, attributing it to an evolution of his office’s distributive protocol “which quite frankly,” he said, “didn’t exist at the time.” He clarified: “We did not distribute it [the
report] because it was not part of the process we had in place at the time. It is now.” Waterhouse said that in the past, SFU had no distribution protocol in place for technical reports involving indoor air quality — reports were simply distributed to technical staff who acted upon them. He further stressed that SFU was spurred to act immediately, which included initiation of building renovations and relocation of the entire graduate studies wing in the Education Building to Discovery Park last year. “Through this, we’re developing a process that ensures all those groups get the reports,” he said. Melissa Roth, a spokesperson for the TSSU and a student in the Faculty of Archaeology, indicated that the union raised concerns regarding the building envelope assessment in November of 2013 during the Employee Council Meeting with the VP Administration, a group including President Andrew Petter and VPs Judith Osborne, Pat Hibbitts and Jon Driver and others who engage with resentatives from all unions and associations once a semester. “We brought [the document] up, in that we were not consulted about a serious hazard regarding the health of our members, and we were assured that we would be put into the loop from then on, but we have still not,” Roth claimed. However, in an interview with Wanda Chow of the Burnaby NewsLeader, Dr. Waterhouse explained that [SFU] has “communicated broadly” with users of the Education Building, culminating in a town hall meeting conducted on March 17, the goal of which was “to be extremely proactive and transparent within the university community about these issues."
As a TSSU representative and SFU student, Roth attended the town hall meeting, and said that it “quickly got away from [SFU].” The discussions rapidly devolved into an acrimonious standoff, she said, as a number of attendees alleged that the university failed to aptly communicate the true nature of building renovations that began last summer in the wake of the report from James Neill & Associates. “In my opinion, there were a lot of upset people in the audience,” Roth said. According to her, the attendees in question became aggravated when the university’s presentation focused on dust remediation, and repeatedly interrupted proceedings in protest. When concerns were raised regarding the presence of mould in the building, Roth said “[SFU’s] general consensus was ‘Don’t worry, it’s not a problem.’” A number of attendees reportedly denounced the board’s claims of transparency, announcing that they had lost faith in the university. According to Roth, one individual charged that “our trust level is at zero,” continuing, “how do we believe you that it’s safe to return to the [Education Building]?” Another attendee reportedly stated that they could “taste gasoline on their tongue” upon entering their office. Apart from Waterhouse, the powerpoint presentation featured at the town hall named several other individuals who comprised the EHRS body responsible for the initial report including Bohdan Kosteckyj (director of maintenance and operations), Ian Abercrombie (director of campus planning and development), Melinda Skura (advisor for occupational health and trades safety), and TJ Aujla (coordinator for occupational health and trades safety). The Peak has not yet reached these individuals for comment. Roth, who also sits on the TSSU Local Joint Health and Safety Committee, stated that normal WorkSafeBC protocols dictate that SFU must work in conjunction with the Health and Safety Committee regarding matters of environmental hazards that may affect the health of employees and/or students. As aforementioned, the latter failed to receive any information whatsoever from the university regarding the presence, extent, or nature of the mould infestation until well after SFU’s own discovery. She voiced this concern at the town hall meeting.
“Terry [Waterhouse] answered that there was a specialized [. . .] committee that is dealing with the issue as the ‘local was for day to day things’,” Roth communicated in an email to The Peak on May 11, 2014. “As a follow up,” she said, “I sent him an email a few days ago asking who was on that committee as all health and safety reps should be listed publicly so people know who to contact if they have concerns, but there is no word on SFU's website about such a committee even existing. It is important to know who is on this committee, as all health and safety decisions in BC must have at least half workers and half administrators according to WorkSafeBC [guidelines].” “[We] absolutely understand the feelings of those individuals [who spoke up at the town hall],” said Dr. Waterhouse. He stated that he subsequently spoke to all of those individuals in a more one-on-one manner to directly address their concerns. “We understand that this is a health issue, and it is our concern [regarding this] issue that is driving our efforts to address them.” He also stated that there was a working group, including members of the Faculty of Education, who dealt directly with the issue of the report when it was delivered. The perceived lack of notification provided by SFU regarding the town hall provoked further concern from some, despite Dr. Waterhouse’s publicized statement in the Burnaby NewsLeader. The Peak conducted an informal survey including over 20 instructors, graduates and undergraduates in the Education Building which indicated that, while some of the former groups were directly informed about the town hall, undergraduates were mostly unaware that a mould problem existed, much less that a meeting had been organized to address concerns. Despite occupying a space in the Education Building, the Archaeology faculty was reportedly not invited to attend the town hall meeting, a fact Dr. Waterhouse described as an unintentional oversight. This apparent exclusion was odd given that the university is currently conducting an additional assessment of the entire building, expanding beyond the Education Faculty to include the Teaching and Learning Commons and Archaeology areas. That report is scheduled for release at the end of May or June. Dr. Waterhouse assured The Peak that this was not the result of any focused discounting of the faculty. He stated that SFU broadly advertised the town hall, with the support of the Faculty of Education, resulting in Dean Magnusson’s appearance on the panel. However, he stressed that future meetings held in response to the future reports delivered would specifically target those who were unaware of the previous meeting. So, how significant is mould exposure? A number of long-time staffers working in the Education Building have previously raised concerns regarding symptoms — such as headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath — which have been associated with chronic mould exposure. Despite logging their concerns over the years, staffers were repeatedly assured that there was no issue. With mounting evidence regarding the presence of mould and the university’s existing knowledge, the same employees now feel betrayed. Dr. Waterhouse, in his interview with the Burnaby NewsLeader, addressed concerns regarding mould exposure. “What we do know,” he said, “is that some people are more susceptible to indoor air quality problems [. . .] But the science is not at a stage where a direct correlation can be made to the presence of mould, for example, and a health impact for an individual.” He went on to note that direct correlation was not required for the university to take action. Waterhouse’s statement is not, however, entirely supported by information provided by Health Canada, which states on its website that it considers indoor mould to be a “potential health hazard” — with all moulds posing a potential risk to respiratory health — and advocates for immediate removal. According to Health Canada there is, however, insufficient evidence to as-
certain whether black moulds (which are commonly referred to as toxic moulds, given their production of mycotoxins) have greater health effects than other moulds. A study performed by the Center of Integrative Toxicology at Michigan State University relates the presence of black mould to the onset of ‘damp building related illness,’ and allergic sensitization, inflammation and cell toxicity in animal models. Other studies have linked high dose short-term exposure to lung hemorrhaging in humans.
When reached for comment Dr. Ryan Allen, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences who specializes in the effects of outdoor pollution on individuals, cautioned against alarm. “Dr. Waterhouse is correct [in] that it is very difficult to link an environmental exposure with the presence of illness or disease in an individual,” he wrote in an email to The Peak. “In other words, except in rare cases, it's difficult to say that a specific person's illness was definitely caused by a specific exposure. “Some exposures make it more likely that we'll develop an illness, [but] not everyone who is exposed will develop the illness…[which] usually has many causes,” he continued. “Having said that, mould has been linked with asthma irritation and respiratory symptoms, especially in children. It may also be a risk factor for the development of asthma in those who don't already have it.” This is corroborated by WorkSafeBC’s Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines, which also warn that “For those individuals with compromised or sensitized immune systems, exposure to pathogenic moulds [. . .] may be associated with a variety of adverse health effects.” It should be noted that the position of senior director for Environmental Health & Research Safety — a position that provides Dr. Waterhouse with specialized information regarding potential mould related toxicity — has remained vacant for some time since the retirement of Apollonia Cifarelli in November 2013. When asked for clarification, Dr. Waterhouse stated that he had assumed the office’s responsibilities in the interim, but that his office had compiled a shortlist of candidates for interview and that SFU hopes to hire someone to fill the position by the end of the summer semester. Dr. Waterhouse stressed again that SFU’s response to the initial report and its findings was proactive, up to date, and attempted to minimize exposure to mould and air-borne allergens for users in the Education Building, but the lack of initial communications for several months has left a sour aftertaste for a number of individuals who continue to participate in regular classes, and have laboratories and office space there. When asked to respond to the perceived lack of communication forthcoming from SFU, Roth expressed more frustration than anger. “As a student here who has taught multiple classes in the Faculty of Education, it upsets me greatly,” she said. “Not only are my friends and colleagues who are in there not [aware of] what hazards they were put through, but I didn’t know. And I can tell you that I’m very upset.”
In 2004, according to ICBC, around 70 per cent of Metro Vancouverites between the ages of 20 and 24 had driver’s licenses. Now that number has fallen to 55 per cent. The age bracket above them, 25-29, similarly fell 10 per cent to 67. Hmm. . . perhaps this is largely due to that handy little thing we all so ardently worship, asking our buddies at SFU every four weeks or so, “Hey, can we get next month’s U-Pass yet?”
If you’re part of this dramatic increase in transiting folk, rejoice: you’re reducing our carbon footprint on the planet. Yay! Also, enjoy the peace of mind that comes from being on a bus, rather than snailing behind one. And think of all you get done just sitting on the bus. You can do the readings you forgot on the weekend! And a late 145 or 135 might mean an awkward, late arrival to lecture, but it also means more time to make up for that worthwhile procrastination.
All these thoughts bubble inside you, and then you smell morning breath. Maybe it’s wafting over from that guy next to you. Or perhaps it’s your TA, who unfortunately got on the same bus as you, who you’ve just made eyecontact with, and who you have to force out some conversation with (so much for doing your expected readings). And how about awkward acquaintance bus run-ins? You catch a glimpse of that person who has been in your tutorial
all semester long, and you both just stare with vacant eyes. You know what? If we’re all on this ride together, we should be able to talk and make the most of the grueling 30 minutes. That vacancy could be replaced by the start of a beautiful friendship! While our generation is green, we’ve also made social awkwardness in close spaces a genetically inheritable trait. At least our children will thank us for the clean air. . . even if they won’t be talking to each other about it.
May 20, 2014
In case you missed it, Canadian soccer was given a beacon of hope earlier this month. The hope that our homegrown talent can effectively tangle with million dollar European talents was affirmed by a handful of defiant, debutant Vancouver Whitecaps. When manager Carl Robinson named his preliminary squad call-ups to the first-leg match of the Amway Canadian Championship away to Toronto FC, fans were in a mix of shock, worry, and national excitement. Understandably so, the immense pressure to come out with a result after years of failed defensive strategies and agonizing defeats due to the “away goals rule” had taken its toll on the ‘Caps faithful. Now, the onus was on a starting 11 with an average age of 22 to kick off the tournament away to a star-studded Toronto in the right fashion. Vancouver’s Welsh manager also gave three teenagers their first professional start at BMO field; most notably Calgary’s 17-year old shot stopper, Marco Carducci. Captained by 21-year old Niagara Falls native Russell Teibert (who joined the ‘Caps residency program at age 16), the blue and white did not disappoint. The young guns finished more passes
and shots on target — 323 and six over Toronto’s 318 and four respectively. On the defensive hand, the Vancouverites blocked three dangerous chances and Carducci came up big and composed during hectic moments. The reds were no pushovers, and reaped a two-goal benefit provided by newly signed designated players Jermaine Defoe and Michael Bradley. Without hesitation, the Whitecaps answered the two-goal deficit just before the final whistle courtesy of 19-year old Kekuta Manneh’s strike.
Thus the hard work reaped reward: the FC won 2-1, but the ‘Caps left the pitch delighted with grabbing what could be a crucial away goal. Just a 1-0 victory at a home return leg could take them to the Amway Canadian Championship final. Carl Robinson’s faith in the explosive speed and technical abilities of the young Canadians has proven to be iconic for the nation and club alike. In the face of Toronto’s million dollar signings, the Whitecaps defiantly controlled and dictated what the fans had wanted and needed, in true David vs. Goliath fashion.
Robinson spoke highly of his players following the match. “Nobody expected anything from us,” he said. “I told the guys to [. . .] enjoy yourself and play with a smile. I think they certainly did that.” This single opportunity that Robinson has given these young players will surely galvanize them for years to come. Winning the Canadian Championship with homegrown talent is the fairytale ending that could invigorate the spirit of the sport on Canadian soil. Aspiring starlets now know that there is a national tournament to strive for and potentially earn a first professional start. Teams do not always have to spend millions to gain victories and form a squad; youth can be the answer. Soccer fans can attest to the revolutionary power of youth academies that create championship-winning homegrown players for world-class clubs such as Barcelona, and corresponding national teams like the current world champion, Spain. Canada is a long way away from these comparisons, yet the fans must feel a sense of resurgence and hope due to efforts like this landmark performance of the young Whitecaps. To potentially host the World Cup in the year 2026, Canada will need a fortified talent core and national team to boot. If youth is the future, then the future certainly looks bright. You can follow Mike Lazar
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May 20, 2014
Across 1- Perch 6- Broadcaster 11- Dash lengths 14- Bert’s buddy 15- Commerce 16- ER VIP 17- Pertaining to plutocrats 19- Call ___ day 20- Yiddish plaints 21- Quarter, e.g. 22- Hesitate 24- Dupes 25- Family of rulers 26- Capital of Utah 30- Bit of wisdom 31- Over there, oldstyle 32- Kemo ___ 36- Be human 37- Encroach 41- “As if!” 42- Extinct bird 44- Eternity 45- Parsonage 47- Statistical data of a population 51- Person who transfers property 54- “Only Time” singer 55- Officer of a university LAST WEEK’S SOLUTION
56- Get wind of 57- Calendar abbr. 60- Altar in the sky 61- Instrumental 64- You ____! Sure! 65- Form of oxygen 66- Pack leader 67- Citrus cooler 68- Tears 69- Actress Sophia
9- Improving the mind 10- Retract 11- Prepares for publication or release 12- Sacred song 13- Fearsome 18- Nightclub of song 23- Puts down 24- Orch. section 25- Pest control brand 26- Exceeded the limit Down 27- Aviation prefix 28- Hog fat 1- Bank takeback 29- Giving the once2- French airport over 3- Blame 33- Years in old Rome 4- Join a poker game 34- Anjou alternative 5- Aztec temple 35- French summers 6- In danger 38- Learn by heart 7- Oil-rich Islamic the- 39- Needy ocracy neighboring Iraq 40- Celestial 8- Snitch 43- Lyric poems
46- Gotcha! 48- Charm 49- ___ Pieces 50- Med school subj. 51- Addis ___ 52- Enticed 53- Fit to be tied 56- Rear 57- Wedding cake feature 58- Patriot Nathan 59- ___ Bator, Mongolia 62- The French word for “no” 63- “Citizen Kane” studio
“We should have written for The Peak!”
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May 20, 2014
“No one’s serious at seventeen.” This line from Rimbaud’s 1870 poem “Novel,” which features in François Ozon’s Young & Beautiful, proves a passé perspective for the film’s protagonist. Isabelle, the young and beautiful woman in question, is followed through four seasons each paired with a musical motif by the irreplaceable Françoise Hardy. The film begins with a summer romance — not unlike the subject of the Rimbaud poem — between Isabelle and a German boy. The first of four seasons portrayed in the film seems at first like a typical comingof-age story: A pretty, white, 17-year old girl on vacation with her affluent parents sneaks out of her summer home to lose her virginity on the beach to a boy she’ll likely never see again. Star-crossed lovers? Not likely. Ozon’s take on the cliché
shows that our young protagonist gains self-awareness upon her first sexual encounter. She realizes her power and regrets not the loss of her “innocence,” but the loss of her pleasure. Autumn sees Isabelle back in business: not just back to secondary school and her teenaged friends, but also secretly managing herself as a sex worker meeting clients at hotels and in carparks, and making a tidy sum in the process. At this point we wonder, why would a beautiful girl, who has everything going for her, waste her youth on prostitution? What is so successful about Ozon’s Young & Beautiful is its refusal to dehumanize sex work. Isabelle is a young woman living in a public world polluted with images of girls her age as sexual objects and a private Internet world of pornography which is more accessible than ever. She believes that she is in charge of her body, and is simultaneously empowered and alienated by her independence. The winter brings melodrama in Isabelle’s life worthy of the films of Fassbinder or Sirk, and it is clear
that the film was shot on celluloid to maintain the cinematic spell of stories past (unlike another film last year on blooming female sexuality, Blue is the Warmest Colour). Young & Beautiful seems nostalgic for a time it never knew: new German melodrama, the sparkle of celluloid, and the longing lyrics of Françoise Hardy. While the film suffers due to its sometimes overwrought musical score, Young & Beautiful is ultimately a successful portrayal of a young woman who is multifaceted: she is assertive and independent, yet deeply curious and ignorant. Ozon takes his protagonist seriously and this lack of condescension leads to the unique portrayal of Isabelle in a humanistic and empathetic way. Young & Beautiful rejects the idea, expressed in “Novel” by Rimbaud, that young women are objects to be goggled at. In this way, everyone is serious at 17 — and it’s still rare to see that portrayed with such accuracy in film.
can be found. Not a lot happens action-wise, the majority being either dialogue or silence, but “if a script is any good [. . .] the scene isn’t about what the characters are saying, it’s about [. . .] what’s going on underneath,” says Brendan.
It’s a story that isn’t a story. There are no plot twists and no special effects. It’s not a drama showing unfaithfulness, it isn’t seeking to teach a life lesson, and it isn’t a documentary. It is quite simply a film depicting one of life’s realities. Spaces and Reservations, is the latest feature film from DIY filmmaker and SFU film student, Brendan Prost, who is best known for his previous films, Generation Why and Choch. This film follows the relationship of Jamie (Zach White) and Kacie (Taylor Hastings) as they drift apart, their separation, and eventually their break up. It is about “malaise and stoicism, about the feeling of stoicism, and being stuck and static. It’s
about losing people, feeling people drift away from you. It’s about having your actions motivated by guilt and fear, and sympathy for someone else,” explains Brendan. For Spaces and Reservations Brendan assembled a crew of talented individuals, including local actors Taylor Hastings and Jennifer Kobelt (Cassandra) as well as fellow film students at SFU, notably Jeremy Cox as the director of photography, and Rheanna Toy as the production designer. Brendan also reconnected with Zach White with whom he worked on both Generation Why and Choch. “The big difference between doing this project and the other two feature films [. . .] was getting to collaborate with people like Jeremy and other people from the SFU film program, and having their technical knowledge and their skills at my disposal,” says Brendan. It is within the raw nature of the actors’ performances and the director’s careful gaze that the strength and beauty of this film
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The two main actors play their connection in a way that is realistic, and this reality drives the story forward. Their characters are unremarkable, average individuals, but their situation is nostalgic and familiar, and the audience is invested despite
themselves. Perhaps in witnessing something unfold, in waiting in the silence, they are reminded of their own relationships. Jamie and Kacie’s relationship has already begun to stall before it even begins; with the first line in the film the awkwardness is obvious between the two. In one scene, as Jamie turns to leave, he stops and after a slight pause he goes back to Kacie, hugs and kisses her. “He has to remember and turn around and come back, and that is the degree in which the characters are conscious of the fact that they are drifting apart from one another. They just catch themselves in these moments,” Brendan points out. It isn’t until two thirds into the film that Kacie and Jamie begin to open up and seem like a couple. The film is like driving toward a pothole, without knowing for certain where it is and when the car will reach it. Brendan wrote a detailed 105page script for this film, however the actors improvised their lines
depending on how the scene played out, lending to the realistic quality. “It just speaks to [the] degree of naturalism [the actors] managed to achieve, and at the same time being so emotionally attuned to what’s going on in the scene,” said Brendan. Cinematographer Jeremy Cox elaborated saying, “One thing we’ve all learned from this film was how to improvise effectively [. . .] take exactly what you have around you, the people you have, the resources you have, and make the best out of exactly what you have.” Essentially “it’s a film about first experiences, about naivete. It’s really a film for younger people, a film for people our age,” says Brendan, “[however] that varies . . . it appeals to a first heartbreak, a first time that you lose someone.”
You may be scratching your head as you read the title of this new column: Coffee, Tragedy, History? This, dear reader, is (I hope) the first in a series of articles in which I will evaluate cafés and restaurants based on the quality of food and drink, atmosphere, and artsyness. Historically, cafés have been a hub for artists and their ilk, a gathering place for people to listen to poetry and music or watch plays. Cafés have also served as galleries for emerging artists or simply as a place for a writer to get some work done. By the end of each article, you should know if the selected café is a place you would want to visit, if the coffee is good, if you can catch a live performance of some angsty boy band there, and if the baristas will spit in your drink. You should also know if it’s the spot where you’ll pen your next poem and, hopefully, you will have been entertained for five minutes before returning to your bleak and humourless existence as a university student.
It was a hot spring day and I was walking down Fourth Avenue when I spotted Blaq Sheep Coffee. I was overheating, so naturally I ordered a Cajun Mocha. The drink lifted $4.25 from my wallet for the smallest size. As the milk steamer sang its siren’s song I assumed it would be nothing more than an over-priced version of a normal mocha with a quaint dash of paprika on top or a squirt of some artificial flavoring. I was wrong. I took my first sip and my taste buds were met with an onslaught of hot pepper sauce and dark espresso. Tears of joy and pain glistened on my face; it was the perfect drink. Blaq Sheep Coffee sports simple furnishings. A muted
May 20, 2014
grey and black colour palette with red highlights completes an interesting yet not extremely outgoing look. I felt very much at ease in the café but I do feel that I have to comment on the name and the menu. Black sheep coffee as a name seems perfectly straightforward at first glance: we make unusual coffee, our coffee stands out from the rest, we are the black sheep of the coffee trade. Yet on closer examination I realized the name is spelled Blaq Sh33p Coffee. With no obvious explanation as to why it is spelled Blaq Sh33p rather than Black Sheep I have to assume it was named by a 12-year old. The menu features such items as the “Pacemaker” (Americano), “Blatté” (Latté) and the “Scrappuccino” (Cappuccino). Fine, call a Latté a Blatté: it’s a little too cute but at least it makes sense. The others have no clear connection with sheep or coffee and only serve to confuse the customer. The service was nothing remarkable. Thankfully, my order was not taken by an actual sheep; no one tried to shear me and I was greeted with a smile as I approached the counter. All standard operation for any self-respecting coffee shop. My drink was made promptly and with precision. No other customers were in at the time so I couldn’t see how effectively they would handle a rush, but the service I experienced was more than satisfactory. The café doesn’t seem to have made its mind up about art. It seems to be getting involved in community events (I saw a flyer for an equestrian’s competition), but I did not see anything related to live music or poetry readings, and I did not see any paintings for sale. That being said I would describe the café’s attitude toward art not as Scrooge’s attitude toward giving, but as one of ambivalence soon warming to benevolence. It would certainly serve as a location for any writer to get some work done and I think given time, a place for musicians and poets to perform as well. This is not a café for an artist to trek to, but it’s a worthy spot none the less.
Chronicling the evolution of the human species from amphibians, to apes, to the present, Totem is a new Cirque du Soleil production that fuses many cultures and inspirations to create a magical tapestry of human ingenuity. As tour publicist Francis Jalbert explains, “It explores the infinite potential of human beings. We’re always moving onwards and upwards; we don’t accept the status quo.” It’s also about the evolution of our own lives and the way we evolve as individuals. With the focus of this show being mainly on the overarching theme of evolution, rather than plot and characters, Jalbert said that the audience is invited to draw their own conclusions and interpretations of what they see. This production allows people to “discover Cirque in a new way,” he explained, describing it as “the most intimate, strong bond and connection with the performers” of any Cirque show. Even if people have seen a few Cirque du Soleil shows, he assures that this one will be different. Each act is its own story that represents a different stage in our evolution, but they are not presented in chronological order. Instead, they jump back and forth in time and see the parallel bars act representing the origins of life. Fish,
frogs, and other amphibious creatures dominate the stage along with a giant turtle. The Russian bars act takes the show into outer space as they represent cosmonauts trying to defy gravity. Another act that Jalbert finds very impressive is the fixed trapeze duo. Performed by two teenage characters, he said that this act represents the evolution of young love and touches the audience on an emotional level while also being technically stunning. Many Native Canadian and American cultures are represented in the show, explained Jalbert. Although no specific tribe is portrayed, the hoops dancers act is inspired by many of these cultures and represents the circle of life and a deep connection with the earth. The music, also heavily influenced by native cultures, is very tribal and heavy on percussion. The vocalists are Esi Kwesiwa Acquaah-Harrison, an African heritage singer and Christian Laveau, a member of the Huron First Nation within Quebec City. The costumes by Kym Barrett include many natural elements such as feathers and shells, and Jalbert explained that they are very diverse with each act requiring a different aesthetic. The
inspiration for these costumes is a fusion of imagination and reality as Totem seems to straddle these two worlds. The many video projections used allow for the audience to escape to many different places. “It’s like travelling around the world without leaving your seat,” said Jalbert, “you step into the big top and forget about your reality.” The projections include a marsh in Montreal, a waterfall in Iceland, and a volcano in Guatemala. The mixture of different landscapes and cultures, and an emphasis on the earth and our connection to it, fills this show with a sense of hope. “When the audience leaves, they will feel like they just dreamt for two hours with us,” said Jalbert, “It’s an outstanding, unique theatre experience.”
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Pauline Johnson was a writer who has often been left out of the canon, but as a performer and vocal First Nations woman, she had an exceptional career for her time. Her work returns to the stage in City Opera Vancouver’s Pauline, a chamber opera written by Margaret Atwood and composed by Tobin Stokes. Pauline is set in the last weeks of the writer’s life — she is dying of breast cancer. As she is treated with morphine and obscene early 20th century surgeries, the show moves in and out of her consciousness to examine her life through her dual identities as a poet and popular entertainer, white and Mohawk, and lover and independent woman. Born in 1861, on Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, to a named Mohawk chief and an English mother, Pauline took her original, popular costumed performances across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, at a time when women rarely travelled and performed on their own. Eventually, she retired from performance to the West End in Vancouver, where she continued to write and worked with Chief Joe Capilano of the Squamish Nation to translate and publish Legends of Vancouver, a collection of Coast Salish legends. The Peak sat down with mezzo-soprano Rose-Ellen Nichols of the Coast Salish First Nation who plays the role of Pauline.
May 20, 2014
May 20, 2014
that has made a personal commitment to a career in the arts. Professional, in our opinion, is someone that has a history of creation and presentation but is not yet recognized by professional associations. We are looking for the up and comers. The ones that are right on the edge and need that extra push,” Gallant said. It’s time to launch your artistic project! Why? There is a multidisciplinary festival for young professional artists. According to festival coordinator Mallory Gallant, the festival “was created as an opportunity to give artists in the Lower Mainland the chance to get to showcase their work as well as make those much-needed connections with other artists as well as industry professionals.” This is the second annual Launch Festival and it will focus on presenting innovative multidisciplinary arts. The festival is a space for young professionals will have the opportunity to showcase their own works. “When we say young professional we mean someone
r One great aspect of the festival is its accessibility for local artists. Gallant says, “The event is only open to artists in the Lower Mainland and there is no fee to apply and there is no age limit.” In addition to the opportunity to present personal works
with no cash concerns or age restrictions, the event will provide mentorship opportunities, workshops, and the chance to connect with professional associations. Gallant said, “By including mentorship and workshops we are not just giving [the artists] the stage to perform on, we are also giving them the chance to connect with professionals that have been in the industry for years.” Some such mentors include Gary Cristall (music and career mentor) the co-founder of the Vancouver International Folk Festival, Murray Gibson (film and theatre mentor) a talent agent for over 25 years who works for RED Management, Vanessa Goodman (career mentor) a company member for Dancers Dancing, Emma Lancaster (career mentor) a communications professional with over 20 years of experience and faculty member at Capilano University, and Jim Smith (dance mentor) the Producer for DanceHouse and former president of the Canadian Dance Assembly. Societies such as the 149 Arts Society are also involved with the
event. Gallant describes the society as dedicating “itself to arts programming that is provocative in nature, and programming that serves to engage, challenge and inform.” Looking beyond the second year of Launch, Gallant says, “We have high hopes to see the festival grow into a really strong legacy program. There is nothing quite like witnessing a budding artist at the beginning stage of their career.” “The connection that can form between an emerging artist and a mentor is priceless and will be valuable for the rest of their careers. To be able to say that we had a hand in launching a long lasting artistic career is something we are proud of and we will continue to value our emerging artists,” she concluded.
SQUAMISH – Local hiker Bob Jamison has finally found the Sasquatch, stumbling into him on a hiking trip. Bigfoot, or “Foot” as he likes to be called, was found “just chilling” watching television and drinking beer. “To be quite honest, it was kind of stupid,” said Jamison. “I mean he was just sitting on a couch, a couch in the middle of the forest, where there are literally no couches, watching TV. How do you miss him? It’s like he wasn’t even trying.”
Upon being found, Bigfoot was reported to have said, “You got me man, you got me,” before returning to his nap. “He looked like he was going to attack for me for second but then he just said, ‘Screw it’ and went to sleep. It was kind of pathetic,” added Jamison.
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Perhaps most notably, Jamison had captured detailed pictures of the Sasquatch along with video evidence, a never previously accomplished feat. However, the American Bigfoot Watchers Association (ABWA) claims this disproves the sighting. “Didn’t you notice that he’s not blurry?” asked president of the ABWA and self-proclaimed Sasquatch expert Alex T. Poklevich. “That’s like his trademark man, do you think Bigfoot would just forget to be blurry? He didn’t for us.” An anonymous member of the ABWA stated that Poklevich was just concerned for their jobs. “It’s pretty hard being a Bigfoot hunter if he actually exists, I mean people will believe us now,” he said. “I’ll probably have to find
other work, maybe a government conspiracy nut, the History channel has shows on that, right?” When asked to comment, Bigfoot said he was shocked, claiming that he put a lot of effort into hiding from humanity, only to be found lazing around at his home. “I took all the precautions, you know. I disguised myself in public, when I went to the store I wore my fake mustache and glasses, pretended to read giant newspapers, I did everything right.” When asked how his life will change as a result of this newfound exposure, “Foot” responded, “I’ll have to be more careful when I eat people . . . and I’ll probably have to pay for cable now.”
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May 20, 2014
then, they were reasonably incident free. “We had a few scares early in the year with some jokesters who wore ‘GRAD 14’ t-shirts to school but they were promptly dealt with,” Johnson said. “This was our big event though, commencement was supposed to be a serious, straightforward affair.”
YOUR REGION – School administration from a local high school are still reeling after their carefully planned senior commencement was effectively ruined by a group of grade 12 hat-tossing rebels. According to witnesses, the ceremony, which had been going off without a hitch suddenly turned into absolute chaos with five minutes to spare after the class of 2014 suddenly rose to their feet and defiantly flung off their school-issued graduation caps. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, after all the work we put in for this to happen,” explained school principal Don Johnson shaking his head with disappointment. “Months of preparation, fundraising, rehearsals . . . it all went down the drain in an instant because of these hooligans.” Johnson said that they warned the students at the start of the year about any hijinx and that up until
Listen up, I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints tonight and I’ve got to say that I am downright sick of it.
Johnson wasn’t the only one who was appalled by the students’ behaviour; members of the school’s Parent Advisory Committee felt similarly slighted. “We spent a lot of money on those hats and for them to just toss them into the air without any regard was clearly an act of transgression,” PAC president Cindy Lee told The Peak. “We spent hours making sure the tassels were on all straight and on the right side, and then as soon as we
say ‘you’ve graduated’, they just toss em’ off without any respect.” “There was significant damage to plenty of hats, some were lost and others were beyond repair,” Lee said, heartbroken. “We gave them these caps as a gift for all their hard work over the past 13 years, we expected them to wear them for the rest of their lives, but now that’s not going to happen.” While it remains unknown who was behind the stunt, parents and administration say that all those responsible will be severely punished. “Oh, there’s no way that they’re getting away scot-free from this one, they need to grow
Can I get more water? When are the breadsticks going to be here already? Could I get that without onions? Can I get that but without the mushrooms and pepperoni instead? Come on! Why don’t you just order a pepperoni pizza instead of a mushroom pizza then? I have to put up with a lot of shit just to get food on this goddamn family’s table and it’d be nice if, for once, someone would just appreciate it. If I could just have one person thank me for remembering to stock the table with
salt and pepper instead of just complaining about how there aren’t any napkins, it might be okay. Do I ever hear that though? No, I just hear a whole lot of whining. I work really hard to provide families with their food, and sure I also get paid money for it, money that I will in turn use to buy myself a new Xbox, but still I’d like a little more recognition. You think it’s easy for me to work here on select nights throughout the month? Putting in 10 to 15 hours, every single week? No way, it can be hell.
up and learn that this isn’t acceptable behaviour in the adult world,” principal Johnson said of the matter. “I know they were probably making some sort of point about how high university tuition is or giving a snarky hats off to our provincial unemployment rates, but that just wasn’t the place or time for it.” While students have mostly stayed silent about the incident, when asked some have responded with either a confused face or a befuddled hand gesture. “Do you think this kind of thing goes on at other schools? You think they would allow this
I’ve missed out on tons of super fun, great parties just so that you don’t have to go hungry or have Darryl as your waiter (seriously, Darryl’s awful).
So please, show some goddamn respect when you come to one of my tables. As long as
kind of hat-tossery somewhere like Harvard?” Johnson asked, saying he had never actually researched it but assumed there could be no way. “I have never seen such blatant disrespect in my life and it’s really got me scared for the future.” “Hopefully none of them become construction workers or anything,” he concluded borrowing a line from his commencement speech. “Can you imagine? First day on the job and they just all toss off their construction hats . . . they need to be taught a lesson otherwise that’s the direction our youth are headed, completely and utterly prone to head-injury.”
you are under my roof (well, Boston Pizza’s roof) you better show some gratitude. I don’t have to do this for you, you know, I do it because I care. I care about getting that Xbox. Everyone I know has the new one and now I don’t have anyone to play with online, it’s the worst. Anyway, hopefully now you’ll realize how hard I work to put food on this family’s table and just shut up about those breadsticks. They’re on their way. When I said 10 minutes, I meant 10 minutes. Just relax.
20 LAST WORD
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May 20, 2014
Nickelback. Dan Brown novels. Céline Dion. Call of Duty. Any household item with a picture of a cat on it. Dance Moms. Tattoos of pot leaves. Bedazzled phone cases. Transformers — the movies, not the cartoons. The Twilight series. The Black Eyed Peas. Nicholas Sparks. American Idol. People who use the word “bro” unironically. Pulpy detective novels. Disco music. Snow globes. The song “Ice Ice Baby.” Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Insane Clown Posse. Porn. What do they all have in common? They’re widely considered hallmarks of bad taste — critically reviled and culturally frowned upon, yet popular and well-liked in their own right. Each one has a devoted and often diehard fanbase, though they’re often looked down upon as “low culture.” Somewhere, an invisible line is drawn between the acceptable and the unacceptable in pop culture, and these haven’t made the cut. So, where’s that line? What does it mean to have good taste or bad — and can someone have both? The discussion behind tastes has its roots in aesthetics, a category of philosophy which deals with the nature of beauty, art, and — you guessed it — taste. Greek philosophers tended to favour a reproducible set of characteristics which could be considered intrinsically beautiful, such as symmetry, harmony, and order. Immanuel Kant, a 19th century Prussian philosopher, thought differently. He argued that our experience of beauty is subjective, and rejected the idea that there are fea-
tures which everyone would agree upon as beautiful. He also connected the idea of “good taste” with that of a cultural and community consensus, saying that whatever was accepted by the majority would always prove tasteful. One glance at the Top 40 or the highest grossing films of all time seems to undermine this position; what is popular, as it turns out, is not always in good taste. Films like Twilight, books like Fifty Shades of Grey, musical acts like 3OH!3 — not exactly the artistic high points of pop culture. French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu argued that what’s really considered good taste is that which is the preference of the ruling class; that is, the rich, the famous, those in power and those with influence. This ties into the distinction between high and low art. In the Victorian era, entertainment and art forms were divided clearly along class lines: the poor went to vaudeville shows and listened to music in saloons, while the rich enjoyed operas and fine literature. However, an interesting thing happened in the 20th century — the line between high culture and low culture began to blur. Film, literature, poetry, architecture, painting, and other media began to appeal to diverse classes and cultures, and the previously clear boundary between the taste of the higher and lower classes became more and more difficult to pin down. (Postmodernists were all about taking advantage of this trend.) Today, our culture is so remixed and so fluid that it’s hard to distin-
guish what’s considered bad taste from what isn’t. Take Game of Thrones, for instance, a pulpy, violent, and shamelessly oversexed epic which draws enormous audiences every week, hungry for another hour of political intrigue and proudly corny dialogue. Is it bad taste? I don’t think so — I can find plenty to appreciate about the show on an artistic level if pressed, even though I primarily watch it for dumb fun. Even pop culture that is almost uniformly considered bad or uncool is worthy of analysis. In his book Let’s Talk About Love, Carl Wilson, a former music critic for The Globe and Mail, examines why Céline Dion is so fervently disliked by so many, and yet has simultaneously amassed such a huge following. He discusses how, beyond the sap and the kitsch, millions of people are genuinely affected by Dion’s music, and asks why we reject certain artists or genres seemingly on nothing more than principle. Think of it this way: have you ever listened to a whole Justin Bieber album, or read a whole Nicholas Sparks novel, or watched more than one episode of Honey Boo Boo? Did you ever think that, if you did, you might actually like it? I had this experience with hip-hop. Almost singularly, hip-hop has always been a tough sell for many who consider it simply, uniformly bad without really listening to anything other than what’s on the radio. This perception has a sociocultural undertone to it — it’s no coincidence that hip-hop, which began as a way for poor black kids to express themselves in a world where they had to speak twice as loud just to be heard, is considered by many to be crass and improper.
But once I actually spent the time to explore a genre I had previously dismissed, I found a world of art which really spoke to me, that I fully connected with. My first thought was this: why had I dismissed hiphop in the first place? Was it because I didn’t like it, or because I wasn’t supposed to? We use taste to curate who we are, and the way we want the world to see us — it’s the reason we show off our favourite TV shows and movies and books on our Facebook pages. But categories like “good taste” and “bad taste” limit what art we’re able to enjoy and appreciate, and they keep us from experiencing a spectrum of different expressions. We all love a little trash TV or a rom com or a tawdry comic book now and again — the same way we all appreciate a good novel or a well made film. So go ahead. Binge watch that new reality TV series. Listen to that new Taylor Swift single. Read that cheesy detective novel. Who’s stopping you?