- Photos by Wendy Li
- Small Audiences: An Intimate Peek into Wychwood Barns
- DADA REBOOT
- Glimpse into the Apocalypse
- Nuit Blanche: A Contemporary Calling, A Traditional Terror
- One Night Disasters
- Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian
- Babel Review
- City and Colour Concert Review
- Is the Wii U for you?
- Green Day? Is that you?
- Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom
- Aca-Scuse Me?
- Would it Kill You? by Hellogoodbye
- 80s Fashion Trends Hitting Hard.
- Behind the Beauty Shot
- Nail Art How To: Galaxy Nails
- My Value Village Love Story
- Decision on New Casino on The Horizon
- Political Traffic Jam: Council Congestion equals False Promises
- Why fares need to be fair
- Algonquin Park Trees
- Applying to American Universities: A summary
- One More Year Doesn't Suit All
- My Experience as a Fifth Year
- Uni Review - Ryerson
- Uni Review - Western
- Uni Review - Humber College
- Uni Review - Kings
- Uni Review - McGill
- Uni Review - Queens
- University Vs. College
- What Happens Next
- 50 Shades of Pink
- From A Traditional Holiday to Fishnets - The Evolution of Halloween
- Gap Year: A Whole New Kind of Education
- Iphone vs. Blackberry: Technology War
- A Fence of a Very Different Kind
- Now say "Ommmmmmm!"
- Pros and Cons of Modern Tech
- Ready, Set, Sleep-In
- Ms. Blackmore
- Ms. Zagaritis
- Ms. Ventura
- Ms. Pardo
- Mr. Patterson
- Mr. Tallevi
- Ms. Hill
- Ms. Arjomand
- Mr. Labayen
- Ms. Mitton
- Ms. Naymark
- Josh, Caretaker Extraordinaire
- The Skunks
- You Think Your Camping Trip Was Bad?
- Bus Dilemma
- Ask Marija
- Avenging our Avengers
- Confessions of a Radical Feminist
- GRAD PRANK: Where dem jokers at?
- Mitt Romney and Women
Nuit Blanche Photos
Small Audiences: An Intimate Peek into Wychwood Barns
Last year, at half past midnight, I sat in Canada's Smallest Theatre watching a man talk about beekeeping for twenty minutes. I kid you not; it was one of the highlights of my night. This year, at half past three, I sat in the same theatre watching a woman read "horror-poetry," an interesting concept with a very fine line between "terror-ific" (excuse my bad pun) and just plain terrible. Maybe because it was late, maybe it was my cynicism, but whatever the case I could not wait to get out. This was part of a project called Small Audiences, an event that ran every half hour, each segment focusing on something different: from storytelling, to opera, to truth-or-dare games. I convinced myself to return to Wychwood Barns, having had such a great experience the previous year. Commuting from Yonge and Dundas past Bathurst Station was hell; I could barely push through the crowd. Most people were either drunk, or complaining about the drunks. Nuit Blanche is a chance to experience Toronto in a different way, and some people choose to see the city under the influence. Not all of the drunken kids were there just for the sake of getting drunk; some came to see the art! My experience with Small Audiences this year unfortunately made me regret not choosing a different "approach." It started out in a waiting room where coffee and snacks were on sale and a black-and-white Samurai movie was screening on an old projector. This is where audience members were asked to wait until an executive came by to lead them out to the tiny theatre, where the viewers squished together in the minimal space and prepared themselves for the highly-praised spectacle they were expecting to see. The curtain was drawn and one woman with bright red hair stood centre-stage, a script in hand, and began reading to us. She introduced herself as Lizzie Violet, and read a few zombie-themed poems. They explored different scenarios and perspectives, including the perspective of a zombie itself. The audience seemed to enjoy it and I honestly do not know why I disliked it so much more than everyone else. I quickly caught onto a habit of hers that peeved me: she liked to group words into threes, and would include these short lists multiple times per poem. So there was a lot of, for example, "tearing, gnawing, and ripping flesh" (not a direct quote). I literally thought, "I could write this!" Despite her obvious passion for (scary) writing that has won her a spot in Nuit Blanche, I just wish her poetry were better. So, I left Wychwood disappointed and exhausted for a lengthy bus ride back downtown, wishing that I chose to hit the Barns at a better hour, and hoping for more next year.
It's 4am. You're tired, cold, and have no idea where you are, as you've been aimlessly wandering the streets in thirst of more art. Just ahead, you spot a Nuit Blanche destination sign that shows you where nearby events are. You sigh with relief (as you are no longer lost and have found some art!) and glance up at the sign above you. It reads, "Distillery District - DADA Reboot." These words mean nothing to you, so you walk right in. The first room you enter in the Distillery District is a semi-crowded art gallery with a poster reading "And When I Look Into His Eyes, It Is Not His Eyes I See." You look to your left and see a soft blue light cast upon two men and one woman wearing all black. Their posture is limp, their mouths are closed, and their eyelids are half open with their faded gazes set upon a red beta fish in a circular bowl. You stare at them. You go right in front of them and stare. Maybe you even take a picture. You look for any sign showing that they acknowledge your existence, but there is none. They don't even seem to notice you're there...but how could they not? You're standing right in front of them! Puzzled and slightly creeped out, you decide to move on through the art gallery. Ahead of you, there is a long table with workingmen on one side and visitors on the other. The workingmen hand the visitor in front of them a test, and if they pass the test they receive a lollipop. You look closer at these workingmen, and notice that they have the same dissociated composure as the previous people you encountered. They also do not acknowledge anyone even though they are distributing and marking tests, and handing out lollipops. Like the others, their gaze is dull, their posture is slouched, and their movements (if any) are slow. You are too busy observing these people and their actions to notice that all the visitors around you have moved on to other locations throughout the gallery, leaving you all alone. It suddenly gets very quiet, as the hum of the visitors is no longer present. You look around and see more workingmen, slowly walking around the empty space. You are surprised to see that one is approaching you; his head is tilted to the side and he is walking with a limp. He stops right in front of you, just crossing your invisible personal space boundary. He slowly straightens out his head, and sets his gaze in your direction. It seems as though he's looking at you, but you feel like he doesn't know you're there. You look into his eyes, his hazy, hazy eyes, and see nothing. You see no one. There is a human being right in front of you, but there isn't a soul in sight. Not only does this person not know you're there, but he doesn't even know he's there. He cannot see you because he cannot see. You conclude that this man, standing right in front of you, does not exist anymore. You later stumble upon other unbelievably absurd installations throughout the Distillery District, ranging from nonsensical karaoke (which you actively participate in), to a fountain of toilets illuminated by a multicolored flashlight. The exhibits in the Distillery District are definitely much more obscure than anything else you've seen this whole night, but you don't know why. Well, maybe they aren't that strange after all, you tell yourself. You're probably just getting tired. But no, you know this is weird and you can feel it in your chest. However, instead of bringing you comfort, your certainty frightens you; and you begin to question your own sanity. The final straw arises when you see two women, each sitting down at a desk, separated by a clothesline. One of them has chopsticks for fingers and is typing on a manual typewriter, and the other is cutting up paper and placing some of the scraps in a clear circular vase placed on the top of her head. You take note of a Rubik's cube at the bottom left hand corner of one of their desks, with either a D or an A imprinted in each square. You also notice that both the women's shoes are nailed to the ground, and the letter the woman is typing in her typewriter is complete gibberish. This gets too weird for you, and you know you must figure out what's going on for your own sanity. Have you entered the twilight zone? Is any of this actually real? Are you alive? You stop yourself, and are relieved to see the artists are going on break. You nervously approach one of them. "Excuse me, are you the artist of this exhibit?" "Yes." She replies. "Can you explain to me the meaning behind your production? I've seen exhibits like yours all around this district, and I can't seem to figure out what's going on." She smiles, and lets out a chuckle. "There's no meaning," she continues, "It's just absurd. All of it. All of us. We are collective absurdity." Your eyes widen and your jaw drops. You conclude that you are, in fact, in the twilight zone, and start to panic. The artist sees your dismay and adds on, "I'm assuming you're not familiar with DADA?" You shake your head. She smiles, and explains that DADA was a European avant-garde art movement in the early twentieth century created to protest to the horrors of WWI. DADA is anti-establishment, rejecting logic and reason, and embracing nonsense and absurdity. The whole Distillery District was themed as a "DADA Reboot" to bring back the Dadaist art form and relate it to present day. You thank the artist for saving your sanity, and decide it was time you left Dadaworld, and headed home to your bed.
Glimpse into the Apocalypse
It's 2:30am on a Sunday; you are walking through the dark in a crowd of people not expecting what's coming for you. There are trippy scenes on walls and coloured smoke, smashed cars and acid houses, a little toy truck that probably belonged to a child, and a walker that was abandoned by an old lady. All of the things your mind is trying to process are contributing factors to one thing: the end of the world. As artists from all over Toronto get together to create the most inexplicable and mystifying art for you to experience, you will find yourself transported through time and arrive in the future once the world has experienced a fatal moment. The End of the World Museum was truly an unforgettable experience. You start by heading down a parking lot and bizarre scenes are projected in front of you. You continue to follow the multicoloured smoke and begin to examine the various leftovers from the wipe out of our humanity. There are guts and blood to your right and smoke coming out of a damaged car to your left, and as you walk further you will notice humans in different settings. However, these humans are not normal; zombie-like is the better description. In one scene is a family which seems to be in a destructive atmosphere full of smashed plates and cups and ripped presents under a Christmas tree, and in the following we see a messy office with dead people on the floor; those poor humans. If you turn around to your other side, you notice remains from people who were once normal human beings like you and me, the only difference being their life was taken away from them. The objects left behind are all very different and it makes you wonder what kind of torture did each person go through? Could someone's leftover guts mean they attempted suicide considering the world was coming to an end, or were they took by surprise and got hit by a speeding truck? Does a full shopping cart mean that a tempestuous earthquake disrupted a regular day for someone? Or is the little toy truck in the corner making you ache with desolation and grief, thinking it could have belonged to a little boy with a full life ahead of him. As you continue through the museum the scenes begin to change. Now you will try to put together what you see to figure out how this happened, maybe why, however everyone can have different interpretations. The main inspiration for this year's Nuit Blanche was the changes our society is undergoing, eventually leading to an apocalypse. The End of the World Museum (the main attraction) helps you understand the metamorphosis that's already beginning to happen. The irony of our existence is that there is always this simultaneous anticipation of its end. We aren't quite sure anymore of when it's going to happen due to various predictions that have been made. However, with the route that humans have recently started taking, our end could be coming sooner than we think. Climate change and global warming have been some of the biggest worries for the past 10 or so years, and with our economy going down the drain internationally, our world is suffering more and more. "One of the things we need to think about is the fact that the world will move forward with us, as humans. We need to acknowledge the fact that the world exists in and of itself and we're not the centre of it," said Christine Davidson, a Nuit Blanche artist. This year's Nuit Blanche could be interpreted as a wake-up call that our economy and society aren't well off, a preparation for the worst to come, and more or less a sign of hope that if we act soon and smart, we could change everything and stop the terrifying changes our world is going through.
Nuit Blanche: A Contemporary Calling, A Traditional Terror NEEDS PICTURES
Who honestly cares about art? This was the prevailing thought in my head as I tried to recall the last time I visited an art gallery...or even wanted to. I remembered that, as I paced through the gallery, the sound of my solitary footsteps echoed against the walls like an amplified pendulum. The emptiness was not a complete shocker given society's recent declining interest in art'a steady exodus that has disintegrated this once-vibrant culture into nothing but a boring afterthought. What was a shock, however, was the pounding footsteps of thousands making their way to Nuit Blanche, an event showcasing contemporary art in Toronto. As soon as 7:03pm struck on September 29th, bustling crowds filled the downtown streets. As a newbie to the event, I joined the masses and embarked on the late night journey, but my original 'who cares' thought was drying faster than unused paint on a palette. Indeed, judging by the outcome even in the earliest of hours of Nuit Blanche, it seemed as if people did care. Well, at least for contemporary art, that is. From mesmerizing video projections on circular screens, to intricate walls of designs made from icing, to eccentric lights mimicking prancing aliens, I quickly became a fan of Nuit Blanche and its dazzling display of modern artistry. However, these art installations weren't particularly favoured by traditional artists. 'Art's meant to be created with skill, thought, and finesse,' said Wen Stuart, a 42 year-old classical painter, 'not by erratically throwing lights up in a tree.' Stuart wasn't the only one rattled by the concept of Nuit Blanche. Other traditionalists were outspoken about the amount of attention focused on what they believed to be 'elementary forms of art.' 'I find it ridiculous how the time and thought spent on these contemporary pieces is minimal. The outcome is nothing but aesthetically and conceptually distorted,' lamented Anne Bianchi, a self-proclaimed art expert. Yet somehow, people were willing to give up their valuable sleep to catch a glimpse of the many jaw-dropping exhibits. It amazed me how many times I spotted someone engrossed in a work of art, eyes wide with fascination, and immune to anything else going on around them. There was something found in these exhibits that drew audiences in (and by 'in,' I mean mind, body, and soul) to the point where even a tree with erratically strewn lights became a potential art piece. Whether it's confusing, comforting, or chaotic, Nuit Blanche's installations shattered traditional concepts of art by signaling-in and celebrating a cultural rebirth. 'I really enjoy Nuit Blanche,' said Kaya DaCosta, a high school student attending the event for the third time. 'The art here is really cool.' When asked about the last time she stepped foot in an art gallery, she responded, 'It was with school so I was forced to do it.' '[The event] is a good way for me to get exposed to art,' stated another student roaming the streets of Nuit Blanche. 'I wouldn't go and see art otherwise, especially not in galleries.' As the skies grew darker, and the lights brighter, I noticed how this one event'featuring art, of all things'united the city of Toronto. Ever since Nuit Blanche's launch in 2006, its success has blossomed, bringing together people of different age groups, cultures, and ethnicities. So do people care about art? Traditionalists and their art appear to have been defeated this time around. As for contemporary artists, they seem to be gaining more admiration than ever.
One Night Disasters
Nuit Blanche: One day a year in Toronto when the whole city is awake, art is surrounding downtown, and all the teenagers are getting wasted. The view of amazing sculptures, inspiring light shows, and a 15-year old girl puking her guts out is unforgettable! The streets are full of tourists, there is no room for you to turn around, and every now and then you see a group of guys, with their pants to the ground, smoking illegal substances (and the police officer who can't get to them because he is stuck in a sea of people). Oh boy, where do I begin? Or more importantly, when do I end? Nuit Blanche 2011: I went with my mother, because I was the awkward new girl and I had no friends. A year later, meaning this year, against all odds, I found some people willing to be my crew (pimpin') and we went together. My expectations were high. Not marijuana high, though (haha, get it?). Unfortunately, my dreams crashed and burned. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but I'm a drama queen. Anyway, I went with my friends and we met up with some people, who met up with some other people and we ended up being part of a huge group of students, chilling in front of Victoria College. They were standing there drunkenly, waiting for something amazing to happen, though they didn't even know what that thing was. I am telling you, I was probably the only one there who was psyched for the art, which made me the weird one. I was sitting on a bench while these people were flirting with each other, Jaegermeister in hand, deciding whom they were going to hook up with later that night. I even think a girl was hitting on me, but maybe that was my unpredictable imagination acting up. If she was, I can cross that off my bucket list. Eventually, I got bored and I left. Isn't Nuit Blanche about the art? Isn't it about aspiring painters, designers, singers, and other artists to get a chance to say what they have to say? I guess teens need an excuse so they can drink and act inappropriately. 'Hey, man! It's Tuesday! Let's get WASTEEEED!' I'm sure that more than fifty percent of the people who are reading this (so that makes two individuals) got at least tipsy, if not hospital-drunk on Nuit Blanche. Yeah, even the grade 9's. You should be ashamed! When I was your age I was still watching cartoons. Get it together people! I'm going to do a poll so I can scientifically prove my point: What did you do on Nuit Blanche? a) GOT WASTEEEEEDDD!!!! b) Top. (read it backwards) c) Stayed at home d) Chilled with my besties (which are my parents) e) Looked at the art (because on a quiz, you never circle option e) Give to me by the end of the week for results. Just kidding! I couldn't care less.
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian
Artemis Fowl, the first of Eoin Colfer's eight books, was published April 2001, and astonished everyone with its awesomeness. Artemis Fowl, an evil child mastermind, cunningly outwits the fairies into giving up their gold. In this series, magic is clearly and scientifically explained, and the reader is left wanting more. Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, however, was barely recognizable. Artemis is now eighteen, compassionate, understanding, friends with the fairies (formerly his greatest enemies), and willing to sacrifice himself for his friends and family. Holly Short, an elf police officer whom he kidnapped for ransom in the first book, is now some strange combination of his best friend and his unofficial girlfriend. Butler, Artemis' loyal and formidable bodyguard, has acquired a strange sense of morals, and an enemy, already defeated three times, comes back again with roughly the same plot to destroy the world as we know it. Furthermore, in former books, things like time travel, time stops, healing magic, leprechauns, and plenty of advanced technologies were all explained in a way that made sense and fit together. In The Last Guardian, however, resurrection, what happens after death, and spirits are spontaneously added but not explained. For example, why can't Commander Julius Root come back from the dead in a form of a clone, like Artemis does (sorry, spoilers)? Eoin Colfer seems to forget his principles of explaining magic scientifically, and instead creates more of the hocus-pocus mumbo-jumbo he had just finished clearing up. Like I said before, Artemis Fowl left the reader wanting more, but Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian totally fails in that respect. In fact, it was so bad and filled with pointless cliches that I wouldn't have finished it at all if I weren't urged on by the hope that it would get better as it went along. I had no such luck. It just got worse...and worse...and worse. It left me feeling annoyed and frustrated when I finished, and I would count it as being one of the biggest book letdowns I have ever experienced. I would definitely recommend people don't waste their time on the last book in a series that looked extremely promising at the beginning. It was a total waste of money, and I regret buying it. For people who have never read the series before, however, I would like to suggest that you read the first one and imagine the rest, because your ending will almost certainly be better than the one Colfer thought up.
Babel Review Rachel Katz PICTURE
It was with great excitement that I awoke on September 24th. It was a Monday, so it certainly would have taken a major event in order for that to happen. And indeed it was, for that was the day Babel, the long-awaited sophomore album from English band Mumford and Sons, was released. That night, I listened to the album on repeat. That sound I had fallen in love with on Sigh No More was still there and I treasured it. With Babel, Mumford had not gone in a radically new direction, but their skill had certainly progressed. Mumford and Sons had developed from being new and still wet-behind-the-ears into a strong, confident band. The album opens with the title song, Babel, a strong and upbeat track. Hot on its heels are Whispers in the Dark and I Will Wait, which continue in this vein. With the songs Holland Road and Ghosts That We Knew, the album settles into a slightly more mellow sound, only to have the tempo increase a little with parts of Lover of the Light and Lover's Eyes. Reminder then provides a short break almost, before barreling into two of my favourites on the album; Hopeless Wanderer and Broken Crown. With Below my Feet, things calm down again, and Mumford leaves us Not With Haste as the final track. Once the novelty of the individual songs had worn off slightly, I realized how much I loved the album as a whole. Sure, I had my favourite songs, just like with Sigh No More, but the album as a whole was just so perfectly paced. It's like a series of rolling hills, the music cresting and falling and cresting and falling as the album progresses. Another aspect that grabbed me right away was the lyrics. No matter the situation you find yourself in, chances are there's a Mumford lyric out there that you can apply to the scenario. There are lines that will stick out to you on your first listen, and there are others that will grow on you as you hear them more. The songs are catchy without being irritating, and they sound great on speakers as tiny as earbuds or as big as those in the auditorium. (I've tested this, trust me.) Even the background instrumentals are intricate. There are instances of relatively complicated background banjo or guitar playing which are principally used to support the vocals, but I still found myself thinking, 'Wow. That's some crazy banjo hidden in there.' Overall, I think Babel is a solid, very good second album for Mumford and Sons. Yes, they could have been more risky with some of their songwriting, and anyone hoping for a major change in their style will be disappointed with this album. But the songs are great, each one having something different to offer, and Marcus Mumford's voice is always so full of emotion that it's almost impossible to hate anything he sings. As promised in the chorus of Not With Haste, 'sadness will be far away' when you listen to Babel.
Dallas and Friends Overcome the Venue to Put on a Spectacular Show
Dallas Green (more popularly known as City & Colour) put on a riveting, enthralling, and exciting show to a jam-packed crowd on September 12th at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. Dallas, who kicked off his career as the vocalist and guitarist for the post-hard-core band Alexisonfire, initially released his first solo album as City & Colour 'Sometimes' in 2005, and had great success with it. He continued to be a part of both Alexisonfire and City & Colour until the summer of 2011, when the success of City & Colour combined with Alexisonfire became overwhelming. Dallas decided to leave Alexisonfire to focus on his solo career. The show opened at 6:15 p.m. with an amazing performance by the indie rock band Hey Rosetta!, who played a variety of songs from their oldest albums to their newest songs. The only downside to their performance was hearing the audience rustling into the venue as they took their seats because they did not appreciate the brilliant performance being put on. Although unfortunate, this behaviour was expected because they were just an emerging band playing as an opening act. There's no doubt in my mind that one day they will eventually command full houses of their own. Next up was the singer songwriter Grey Kingdom, who played on the roof of the amphitheatre. An interesting gimmick, but let's face it - no one really seemed to even notice that he was playing. His performance was being video taped and projected on the big screen, but many people were unfamiliar with him and his songs. In all reality, there wasn't much of a chance to have the full experience of his performance or really enjoy his songs. Past Grammy performers, The Avett Brothers, were the last of the opening acts, and rightfully so. They are a folk band from the States, and were truly one of the most exciting bands I've seen perform live. They were having such a blast on stage, which really translated to the audience. However, I did hear that some people found them loud and obnoxious, and to them I say lighten up! Finally, it was time for the act that most everyone came to see, City & Colour. Dallas Green walked out on stage by himself, with his acoustic guitar and played 'Casey's Song' from 'Sometimes' which immediately had the crowd on their feet and singing along. He then led into 'We Found Each Other in the Dark' as the rest of his band came to join him. The set list was an incredible mix of songs from each of his albums. He even took some of his slower, more acoustic songs from his first album and gave them an edgier, rockier twist, making them more exciting and energetic. The audience seemed to appreciate this. At one point during the show he asked everyone to hold up their cell phones and cameras and turn them on (as if to imitate the clich' slowly swaying lighter action). However, that wasn't his intention, as he then asked everyone to put them away in their pockets while he sang 'Body in a Box'. He suggested we forget trying to record every single moment and just experience the song entirely in the moment. He then told the audience that if they caught someone trying to film the song, to tell them to 'politely f*** off...Politely.' He launched into the song with his wonderful harmonica tune, and had the audience dancing and singing along to every word. It was wonderful. Maybe we need to unplug more often. After a particularly long and loud cheer from the audience, Green said, 'It's a good thing I have horrible vision, because if I saw how many people were here, I'd probably freak out.' Almost as if planned, the lighting crew shone the lights to show how full the venue was. Green responded with a surprised look, and thanked everyone. He finished the final set with 'Sorrowing Man', but he wasn't done just yet. He went on for 3 more encores. The very last song he played was an excellent cover of Neil Young's 'Like a Hurricane' pleasing the older crowd in the audience and the Neil Young lovers. While the show was a very beautiful and exciting one to attend, one of the downsides was the size of the venue. Being someone who only really attends smaller venue concerts, I felt the show lacked some intimacy because it more difficult for Dallas and the other acts to make a personal connection. Overall, the concert was a real pleasure to attend, with each act (except maybe Grey Kingdom) putting on a memorable performance and delivering a tremendous night of music.
Is the Wii U for you?
Have you ever wanted to play your game from anywhere in the house? Or play with your friend without having to split screen? Well, the Wii U will give you just that, but wait, before packing your camping gear in order to go and get the Wii U on its release date, you need to know a lot more about the Wii U and go beyond Nintendo's advertisements. The specs Although the Wii U will be a much stronger console than the Wii, it will not be as impressive as you think. In fact, the Wii U is speculated to have a depressing RAM of only two GB, the same amount that a Samsung Galaxy S3 has but four times the RAM that an XBOX 360 has. Keep in mind that the XBOX 360 was released in 2006. The same problem over and over again Nintendo just doesn't want to satisfy us. Although the specs for the Wii U are much better than the XBOX 360 and PS3, they will not be as good as the next-gen consoles that Microsoft and SONY will bring out. Nintendo will face the same problem that the Wii faced, again. Compared to the XBOX and PlayStation 1 and 2, the Wii was much better, but XBOX 360 and the PS3 crushed the Wii's specs when they were released. The Wii was also unable to play third-party games like Assassins Creed, Mass Effect 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV. The Wii U will look strong until a year and a half after its release; however, trouble will arise when third party companies start to make games for the next gen Microsoft and SONY consoles. These consoles will be six to eight times stronger than the current ones. The Wii U is only about three times stronger. See the difference? Three is much smaller than six to eight, and the Wii U will just have to stick to lower quality games and games made by Nintendo. Why will a lot of people buy it? It is the same reason that makes Apple sell so many IPhones. The hype that Nintendo creates is very big and consumers just want to see, not a better product, but rather a 'new' product. In fact, Jimmy Kimmel, who works for the ABC network, proved this to us with an ingenious test. Before the IPhone 5 was released, he went out to the streets and showed people the IPhone 4S. He told them that this was the new IPhone 5 and wanted them to compare it to the IPhone 4S. Interestingly, people said it was 'harder,' 'better,' 'faster,' and 'stronger'. Really? Unless they were trying to sing 'Stronger' by Kanye West, these people had no idea what they were talking about. I bet if he did the same thing with the Wii U, he would get the same results. Should I buy it? If you can't wait for the next-gen console, then you definitely don't want to buy the Wii U. However, if you're only interested in buying the new technology that the Wii U offers, then you will be putting your money in the right place. Though you have to keep in mind that if you want to buy a game like Call of Duty in 2015, then you will not be able to play it on the Wii U unless the game is modified to be playable on the Wii U, and this would mean taking out certain features from the game. In conclusion, Nintendo's strategic marketing will attract many, but they will have to, at one point, lower the price just like they did with the Wii.
Green Day? Is that you?
'Oh, love; Oh, love; Won't you rain on me tonight?' If you haven't heard these lyrics on the radio, I don't know what hole you live in. And if you have, but changed the channel right away, then this article is not for you. When we were merely little 90's kids, the phenomenal trio, Green Day, was an unknown band, trying to make their big break in the music industry. Around the time I was born, they were just coming up with one of their greatest albums- Dookie. That's when people started recognizing Mike Dirnt's bass line, Tre Cool's drum beats and Billie Joe's scratchy voice. Man, I wish I wasn't in diapers back then, so I could experience some old school punk rock. Damn you, time. After 25 years of solid music (I bet they feel old!) the band is still here to entertain us and to rock our socks off. The look on my face when I found out they were coming up with an album trilogy was priceless. I mean, who does that? Green Day is coming up with 3 whole new albums: iUno, iDos, iTre. It's like an explosion of awesomeness. How do you even write that many songs? The first album came out on the 25th of September and has Billie Joes face on it sort of. The next two will be released further on into the year, so don't fear! I'll be still here to review them. I can't say that this is the same Green Day that created Dookie and American Idiot. In a way, their sound has matured; their chords are more powerful, cleaner. I get this vibe from 'Oh, love' when Billie Joe seeks the comfort of promiscuous women. I was obsessed with the video for almost a week. I mean, have you seen the 'babes' in that one? Yes, if one thing hasn't changed, it's my loyalty to the band. Although, at first hear, I wasn't sure if I was listening to Green Day or some tacky band that was imitating them. Now? I love the album. I enjoy the songs like Nuclear Family, supporting reckless behaviour, and Let Yourself Go, telling the world to basically not fudge off. So much for the maturity that I talked about earlier. I'm not saying that iUno is their best work or that it changed my life, but I am also not saying that it's their worst project yet either. It's true that not all of those songs are meant to be singles, but then again, have you heard of an album full of Songs that have made the Top 10? Or even the Top 100? No. What I'm trying to say is that although Green Day has shifted from punk rock to pop rock, don't fear! They still sound great. If you didn't like the album at first listen, give it another try. It worked with me, anyway. 'Tonight my heart is on the loose'
Book Review - Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom
The astonishing total of 788, 505,109 is the number of views on eighteen-year-old Canadian superstar, Justin Bieber's debut hit single, Baby. It also happens to be the most viewed video on YouTube. His success is incredible. Now discover the extraordinary life of Justin Bieber's mother, Pattie Mallette, in her brand new memoir. I read her memoir because I imagined it would expose a unique side of Justin's childhood that had not yet been revealed; however, in no such way does this autobiography have a bubblegum-pop feel. After reading the first ten pages, I knew I was not reading a lighthearted autobiography, as Mallette described the sexual abuse she endured for almost a decade. After reading the first twenty-five pages, I was certain that Mallette had an astonishing story to tell. Mallette, 37, wrote the autobiography, titled Nowhere but Up, in collaboration with A.J. Gregory, as part of her on-going healing process. Mallette faced numerous hardships throughout her youth, including being abandoned by her alcoholic father and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. When Mallette was eighteen, instead of heading off to university or college, like the majority of NT students do, Mallette discovered she was pregnant. 'It was a nightmare come true,' is how Mallette explains it in the autobiography. Little did she know her baby boy would become a superstar. Mallette grew up in Stratford, Ontario, a small town approximately two hours from Toronto; this is what makes the elements of the book seem so real. Mallette describes her many drives to Toronto, her daily Tim Hortons run, her son's obsession with The Toronto Maple Leafs, and many more references that make you feel like all her stories took place nearby. In many ways, Justin saved his mother, as he gave her a purpose in life. Mallette describes it as 'a mission to prove how capable and responsible [she] could be.' To do this she had to change her ways. She instilled excellent values in Justin, and exposed him to a variety of sports and music. Mallette was determined, despite limited financial resources, to provide her son with a happy and secure upbringing, and turned her life around. The objective of Mallette's memoir was to inspire teens and adults that there is always hope that a struggling person can find his or her way up. Mallette started her own charity, called the Nowhere But Up Foundation, which supports single-parent homes, drug addiction centres, and people in need of counselling. This book is a useful tool for anyone who is experiencing difficulties in his or her life. It definitely opened up my eyes and put my worries into perspective. If this autobiography helps a single individual to turn his or her life around, I think Mallette accomplished her goal. She will no longer only be known for being the mother of Justin Bieber, but also for her own accomplishments and ability to overcome unimaginable obstacles in her lifetime. Step into Mallette's shoes, read about her struggles and painful past, and her incredible recovery resulting in a happy life. It will open your eyes to a brand new point of view. Mallette is going Nowhere but Up and brings all her readers with her.
Hi there, welcome to Barden University! Here's your official B.U. rape whistle'don't blow it unless it's actually happening! Here at Barden, there are three a capella music groups: the Treble Makers, the Barden Bellas, and the B.U. Harmonics. They sing songs without any instruments; it's all from their mouths. Yikes. The Treble Makers are an all male group known as the 'bad boys of a capella,' who always win. The Bellas are the all female group, still recovering from their embarrassing incident last season when their lead singer, Aubrey, vomited e v e r y w h e r e during a performance. Then there are the B.U. Harmonics..... Well, let's just say that they won't be making it to ICCA, International Championship of Collegiate A Capella, if they can't even stay sober long enough to win a riff-off! Here at Barden U, the war between the sexes is tangible on campus from the very first day, and both the Treble Makers and the Bellas will stop at nothing to win. However, after last year's puking drama, the Bellas (a once super-exclusive clique) can barely convince anyone to join them. The only two returning Bellas, Aubrey and Chloe, are so determined to recruit girls with any vocal talent that they are willing to do anything. Literally. If you are one of those sing-in-the-shower type of girls, then you'd better watch out. The Bellas have just managed to round up enough freshmen to join them, but this group of misfits is nothing at all like the old Bellas. The crowd ranges from Fat Amy, who legitimately puts 'fat' before her name so that skinny girls can't do it behind her back, to Lilly, who sets fires to feel joy and ate her twin in the womb, to Stacie, whose hobbies include cuticle care, and the e-network. It is obvious that the new Bellas are a peculiar group of girls. Aubrey, the captain of the Bellas, is extremely passionate and a little uptight. She is willing to do everything she can to get her group past the regional competition. She insists on using the same outdated list of girl power songs the Bellas have always used which doesn't even include anything from this century. She has the Bellas practising seven days a week, and she pushes every girl to do cardio. Aubrey is faced with a lot of resistance from everyone in the group. Fat Amy's version of cardio is 'horizontal running,' and Becca just wants to sing newer music, like remixes and mash-ups. Even Aubrey's only ally, Chloe, turns on her when she reveals that she has 'nodes,' or vocal nodules, which limit her range and will cause her pain when she sings. It doesn't seem very likely that the Bellas will win anything, and the Treble Makers will probably just be bringing home another trophy. If you want to find out what happens to Barden's two rival a capella groups, learn how to mermaid dance, or hear what Fat Amy's real name is, then you should watch the aca-mazing new movie, Pitch Perfect. It has an aca-awesome soundtrack and an aca-complished cast you will definitely love. Prepare to get pitch-slapped!
Best Webcomics Around? You Judge. PICTURES
Webcomics are the fresh, new, storytelling medium that have made their way to computers everywhere. Some are created by professionals, some grow in the basements of people who simply have too much time on their hands, they retain the charm of comic books and graphic novels while being available to anyone with an internet connection. Here are some personal favorites of mine that can be read for free online: Vitaly S. Alexiuss's Romantically Apocalyptic Romantically Apocalyptic takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting in the year 20_ something something. To borrow the words of Romantically Apocalyptic's own creator, 'Putting such dates on apocalypse is silly. The Romantically Apocalyptic story is taking place way after our lifetime, when the biosphere has been fully consumed, when all rivers have evaporated, all trees have died out, when all cities have run out of resources and the air has become too full of chemicals and too poisonous for humans to inhale without a mask.' Aided by technology, humans have finally managed to break their world. The human race has now collapsed in upon itself almost completely. But hope still lives in the form of a small enigmatic group of people who have somehow managed to survive the nuclear fallout, mutated beasts, extreme cold, and homicidal machinery that have ravaged the land. However, by no means have they escaped Armageddon unscathed. Among the survivors there is the semi-coherent Captain (Subject 7), the perturbed Sniper (Charles Snippy), the eccentric Pilot (Christophorus Hatchenson) and the cynical Engineer (Dr. Alexander Gromov). At least half of this small group seems to have gone completely insane, half are directly responsible for the end of the world, and one suffers from debilitating foul luck and what may turn out to be a potentially mind-bending complex. If you are one to enjoy breathtaking digital art, clever, twisted humor, and a hypnotizing spiral of a plot, visit romanticallyapocalyptic.com to read it for free, or follow R.A. on facebook and tumblr. Romantically Apocalyptic updates every Saturday. Beck Grundy's String Theory String Theory takes place in an alternate version of our world set in the years 2o57 to the 2060's, where the cuban missile crises has gone terribly wrong. This, however, is only really consequential as the comic progresses. The plot follows the misadventures of Dr. Herville A. Schtein and his rise to what may reach super villainy. While that may sound rather comic, String Theory quickly takes a turn for the dark. Viewer discretion is advised as the comic can be graphic at some points and there is some foul language, though it never gets excessively obscene at any point. Though the comic is unrated I would judge 13+ to be a good call. What really sets this comic apart for me is the forever evolving art, which starts out as charming and cartoony and advances to extremely detailed and distinct, and the sublime characters. Dr. Schtein appears at first to be your average cliche super villain, but acts more like a grumpy old man or angsty teenage girl. Other characters include infamous serial killer, Professor Phineas Armastus, genetically altered, super powered man, Kevin Abel, and Dr. Schtein's talking cat, Marcus. Yeah, he has a talking cat. It is as awesome as it sounds. If you love amazing art, devilishly clever humor, scintillating character interaction, and a twisting, dark, story, I highly recommend you read String Theory for free at www.stringtheorycomic.com. Also, be sure to check out Beckey Grundy's String Theory art blog, Out In The Wastes on tumblr. String Theory usually updates every Wednesday and occasionally Saturdays. Ashely Cope's Unsounded Unsounded takes place in the magical fantasy continent of Kasslyne, where heroes and fiends alike use a form of sorcery known as Pymary. The Plot follows fierce little Sette Frummagen, young daughter of a dangerous, cutthroat crime-lord, and her wright bodyguard Duane Adelier, a Pymary using member of the undead (he's basically a wizard zombie; How cool is that?!) On their journey to find Sette's cousin the unlikely duo encounter fearsome beasts and become entangled with the deadly criminals known as The Red Berry Boys. This comic sports amazingly original art and concept combined with quick wit and flawless drama. What will come of Sette and her strange escort? Visit www.casualvillain.com/Unsounded to find out! This comic can be graphic at some points and include foul language, so viewer's discretion advised. Unsounded updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
80s Fashion Trends Hitting Hard.
The 80s are back people, and with a vengeance. Yes, I do mean the 80s as in the legendary age of Reagan, AIDS, and Michael Jackson. Never before in the history of fashion has a resurgence of previous fashion trends been so big and stylish. By '80s fashion,' I don't mean spandex bodysuits in neon colors, or fishnet stockings and jelly bracelets. I am talking about an age where brand names were bigger and more apparent than ever, and a time when cool was minimalistic. It was the age where upper-middle-class teenagers wore brands we now hold near and dear, like Polo Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Sperry's, Keds, and a whole whack of others. But before we get more into that, let's talk about the styles. During lighter months, almost every guy and girl at NT can be seen wearing a good ole' pair of boat shoes, be they Sperry's, Timberlands, or a multitude of others. It's basically part of our uniform (I personally own a few pairs of these wonderfully versatile shoes). Well, boat shoes got their start on the feet of preppy teenagers in the 80s. However, they took a major popularity dive in the 90s before coming back in the early 2000s, and holding their much-loved place to this day. Also, let's talk about sunglasses. For the last 10-15 years, companies like Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, and Prada have held the sunglasses market and have refused to hand it over. Now, though, this sort of Italian fashion house majority has been challenged by the ever so loved Ray-Ban that is back and better than ever. Almost everybody at our school has some pair of Wayfarers or Aviators, be they real or rip-offs. These two styles were coincidentally the two biggest selling styles of sunglasses throughout the 1980s, and were popularized by Tom Cruise in Top Gun, as well as the hit TV show Miami Vice. Also, skinny jeans, which are just considered a fashion trend today, got their start in the 80s with punk rockers. However, they fell out of fashion with the grunge movement of the 90s. Now, let's talk about brands. It's hard to go five minutes without seeing someone sporting a Polo shirt or a Calvin Klein jacket. Back in the early 80s, brand naming got its big start. Before that, people bought what they liked without caring where they got it. Nowadays we are a society driven by brand loyalty (I, personally, am a very Ralph Lauren-loyal person). But the question is, what's next in fashion? Will it be hippie chic or grunge? I hope to god it's neither, because the latest trends are already killing me.
Behind the Beauty shot
Each day, the average person sees 3000 advertisements. In these advertisements we may see products, we may see celebrities, or we may see models. The modelling industry is gigantic and global, as it includes everything from hand or foot models to the models strutting down the runway. However, there are many struggles that models have to endure because of the inequalities in the industry, and it all depends on their gender. Due to many of the magazines and products being aimed at females, women are needed more; therefore, fewer jobs are available for the male models. Male models also fall short when it comes to runway shows, showrooms or photo shoots with girls, as women on average get paid more. On the other hand, females are pressured more to fit in certain parameters regarding their appearance. Stacey Dort, the booker for men at Elite Model Management in Toronto says,'Although we do require all the male models to be healthy and lean (they can't appear 'beefy') the men can range between 'built' and focus on underwear and body, or be very slim and specialize more in high fashion/editorial. Generally speaking, the girls don't have as much leeway.' This is very accurate, as female requirements are usually around sizes 0-2, a 25 inch waist (or the desired figure of 34B-24-34), and taller than 5'7''. Stacey also notes, 'Men's modelling careers can extend much longer than women $ they might start a little slower than the girls because there aren't as many clothing lines/products directed towards young men but as the male model reaches his mid-20s it really opens up. Many of the world's top male models are in their 40s and have been modelling for 20+ years. The old adage that 'men get better with age' definitely applies to the world of male modelling!' Women in the modelling industry may not have a long career, but they can become extremely well-known. If you name all the models you can recognise off the top of your head, the majority of them will be female, with maybe 1 or 2 males (Francisco Lachowski, anyone?). Historically, females have been more focused and concerned with fashion than males, and it seems that the general public is not as aware of the male talent. However, with the growth of menswear in social media, men's fashion knowledge has become more common and accessible. Jack Bradshaw, my brother, is one of NT's only male models, and is signed with Elite Model Management in Toronto and Major Model Management in New York. Reflecting on his experience as a model, he says, 'Overall this job has been an amazing experience. The work is fun and I've met a lot of interesting people. There definitely is a difference in the number of opportunities [for males and females], but I can completely understand why.' For all of North Toronto's current and future models, Stacey Dort advises to 'work directly with a reputable agency. A true world class agency will develop you and oversee your career on an international level. Elite offers open calls and submissions online & you don't need modelling school or to get any fancy pictures to come and see us and get evaluated. Remember that you will be starting an actual career & and that there is a lot of work that needs to go into it. It's not as easy as just standing there and having your picture taken! Lastly, the models that work the best are the ones that show their amazing and unique personalities in addition to those beautiful faces!' Looking forward, we hope to see more equality in models' wages, to recognise both male and female models, and to see less pressure on having the 'ideal' body, especially for female models. For now, Norseman, keep working on your Blue Steel.
Nail Art How To: Galaxy Nails
What You Need: -Base Coat -Top Coat -Dark Blue Nail Polish -White Nail Polish -Light Green Nail Polish -Purple Nail Polish -Black Nail Polish -Clear Glitter Nail Polish -Sponge -Q-Tip This nail art looks difficult but it is surprisingly easy as long as you take your time and have patience! The best part about this nail art is there is no right or wrong and each nail can be completely different and still look amazing! Step 1: Prime your nails by applying a layer of base coat (this protects nails when applying polish). Step 2: Apply a thin layer of dark blue nail polish and coat with a layer of glitter and leave to dry (don't apply too thickly,you will be adding many other layers of polish in the next steps). Step 3: Use a sponge to lightly dap white polish in the corners of your nails and leave to dry. You can cover as much or as little as the dark blue nail polish as you like. Step 4: Sponge on light green nail polish over the white polish to give your nails an outer space appearance. The sponge adds a unique texture to the polish but be sure to sponge delicately or you will wipe off the polish applied in the previous steps. Step 5: Repeat the sponging with the purple nail polish and leave to dry. Step 6: Lightly dip a q-tip in black nail polish and swish on the corners of the nail to create depth. Step 6: Give your nails the ultimate cosmic connection by layering a thin coat of clear glitter overtop. Step 7: Finish with a clear top coat and leave to dry!
My Value Village Love Story
With a new Urban Outfitters around the corner and stores upon stores stocked with brand names in the Yonge-Eglinton area, students don't need to look far in order to find school clothes. So, as far as accessibility and availability go, most NT kids don't have issues. However, when it comes to individuality, our style as a whole isn't exactly through the roof. We feel safe wearing the common Roots sweatpants and, as the temperature drops, I'm anticipating the inevitable return of the Canada Goose. I can't wrap my head around some of these trends'probably because I grew up walking the aisles of Value Village, living in second-hand Kamik boots and ill-fitted sweaters. This wasn't because my parents couldn't afford new clothes, but it was their way of curbing consumerism. I chose to stick to my Value Village lifestyle because it had its perks. Sifting through the rows of, admittedly, smelly t-shirts was never disappointing because although I couldn't imagine wearing half of the things I found, there were always a few treasures. When my friends asked me where I had bought my skirt, I liked shocking them with my answer. However, when in grade-nine art class we had to wear huge, old shirts as smocks in our painting unit, I witnessed an incredibly sarcastic exchange between two girls sitting close to me. It went something like this: 'Oh my god, cute top! Where'd you get it, Value Village?' 'You know it girl! That's where I get all my clothes! My family's kinda poor, nbd, nbd. But it's hot, right?' This was a classic example of how people consider it embarrassing or shameful to shop second hand, and associate it with poverty. Despite this common opinion, I do still know a few students who go in the hopes of snatching vintage items. I'm willing to bet these girls were just feeling bitter because they were an unlucky pair who went but couldn't find anything spectacular. The truth is lots of people shop at Value Village, poor or not. It's a haven for funky finds, and shopping there is an environmentally conscious decision. Why buy new materials when so many already exist? Second hand clothes can be re-used, rather than piling up in landfills. Materials like fleece are not biodegradable; they pollute these landfills and never break down. I don't think many people consider the eco-side of Value Village, and people like my art class peers maintain their elitist attitudes towards the store, refusing to acknowledge that it isn't 'cool' to be 'above it.' Do you know who makes your clothes? The guidelines for ethical labour are fuzzy, and companies can go unscathed while still using suppliers in developing countries whose employees are often underage and work for less than minimum wage in terrible conditions. One of these companies is H&M, a popular brand at North Toronto. In their stand against child labour, found on their website, H&M uses the word 'often' a lot, and makes loose, ambiguous statements like: 'it is now very rare that we discover any workers below the statutory minimum age in our supplier factories.' Another valid yet widely overlooked perspective on the store is the 'flaneur' perspective, meaning that of a saunterer or loafer. This is beyond some people, but it is a rare pleasure to be able to call oneself a tourist in Value Village, as ridiculous as it sounds. Although I can't say I fully understand Lisa Robertson's writing (I'll get there some day), the Canadian poet wrote an essay titled 'The Value Village Lyric,' in which she refers to the store as 'the House of V.' She talks about how Value Village-goers 'excavate a strange jacket from the anonymity of mass memory and slip [their] arms into the future.' Value Village is essentially a time capsule; and you can't get an experience like that at American Eagle!
Keep Calm and Change Channels: Why British TV is Better than American.
Look up. Chances are there is at least one person in your class wearing a Union Jack. In the last few years, we have seen a rise in British exports in our pop culture. Think Union Jacks on pairs of Converse, books upon books about the Royals, One Direction, the London Olympics... It's the rise of a second British Invasion. And with said British Invasion, comes television. We see British shows coming up on television all the time: Skins, Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, you name it. Among all this, I have noticed one thing: British television shows are much better than American shows. Why? Well, a variety of reasons. British television shows are more diverse. In the US, actors are not cast based on their skills, but rather whether or not they depict the ideal appearance of someone of their gender and age. However, in British television shows, actors are allowed to have imperfections, and, in fact, they do. Men don't have to look like Adonis; they all look different. Actresses don't have to have boobs that resemble flotation devices to be successful and cast into good roles, instead they are allowed to be different shapes and sizes and they are also allowed to age, a concept that is quite foreign to almost all Hollywood movies. The same goes for the races of actors. If you were to look for visual minorities that actually represent groups that you'd see every day, you'd have a tough time. Almost all the actors in American TV shows are either whitewashed or stereotypes. You'll never see a black person that is a dark shade; they are almost all mixed and if they aren't, they are an offensive stereotype of the group they supposedly represent. This goes for every minority group ever depicted in American TV. In Britain, someone has the chance of being cast into a role despite their skin colour. The same goes for religion: British television shows depict people of all religions and it's all fine, thank you very much. All of this leads to casting better actors and having better performances, meaning that the show is better. In fact, many British actors don't only do television shows, but also movies and plays. It makes for a much more sophisticated society. British Television shows also tend to touch upon social issues. They are shows that are trying to make a point and amuse, rather than just the latter. Often, they will touch upon elements of equality, human rights, sexuality, poverty, racism, ageism, et cetera. Why? Mostly because British audiences are more open-minded; producers don't have to worry about red neck ideals and whether or not their ratings will drop if they have a gay character in their show. Think of the difference between the recent show Elementary and its British parent, Sherlock. The show Elementary is about a modern day Sherlock Holmes, just like the show Sherlock, but in Elementary, John Watson is no longer John, but rather Joan Watson. Why? Because of the undeniable sexual tension between Holmes and Watson (present even in the original books by Arthur Conan Doyle.) American audiences would not be able cope with the main characters in the show being gay, even in sub context, and so, our dear Watson is now a female. On the other hand, British audiences were perfectly fine when Sherlock openly admitted to not being interested in women. In general, British audiences don't even bother thinking about something like this twice; it's one of so many aspects of the character that it doesn't really matter. Queer characters are not overdone, unless necessary. As well, unlike American TV, UK television doesn't make fun of homosexuality, it just happens in stride. Think of the sexual tension between Raj and Howard in Big Bang Theory, which is a constant punchline in the show. Since many British Television shows are not age-specific, this exposes children to social issues, making them more aware, rather than shielding them, which is what we do in our society. Then there are the plotlines. British television shows have more elaborate plotlines. Since the seasons are shorter, the plotlines don't drag out. Things move faster, not giving the audience time to get bored. As well, many British TV shows don't have ads in between, especially BBC shows, which have no ads at all. (Even regular channels have fewer ads than here because of a tax that all houses with a television must pay, which helps cover advertising costs for most TV stations.) There is a huge difference between the plot of a 27-minute show and a 21-minute show. Not to mention, British TV shows usually have better writers who are also given much more freedom and the producers bend to their will, rather than doing it the other way around. As if all that weren't enough, British TV shows have better humour. Who can resist a good old intellectual, satirical joke? Speaking of intellect, the shows tend to be more intellectual and thought-provoking. Think of the difference between Jersey Shore and Downton Abbey. So, next time you're scrolling through channels trying to figure out what to watch next, turn off CBS and switch to BBC America. You won't regret it. After all, who can resist those hot British Accents?
Canadian or French School
Marie-Laure, Marion Joubert, Sarah Mouhaou and Elizabeth O'Sullivan
After reading this article, you will love the way your Canadian school system works. How much have you heard about the French school system? If your answer is not much, let me tell you that it sucks-and here are a few reasons why: You can't listen to music, you can't bring your laptop to school, you can't wear sweatpants, you can't go to the washroom during class, and you can't sit in the hallways. The one thing you are allowed to do? Hate school! In France the teachers are much more strict. You have to follow crazy rules (like the ones above) for 37 hours a week! School in France starts at 8 a.m. and finishes at 6p.m. On top of those brutal hours, there is also school on Saturday mornings from 8a.m. 'till noon. When you compare these hours to those of Canadian schools (only 25 a week) you get the idea of the French system's insanity. However, the students in France are much ruder to their teachers. This is partly because teachers do not form the same bonds with their students as they do in Canada, and because the teaching profession is not widely respected in France. An example of the French's more formal student-teacher relationship is whenever a teacher walks into the classroom, all the students stand up until the teacher invites them to sit. The students' dislike of their teachers could also have something to do with them reading everybody's grades out loud, in front of the whole class, and finding out if they passed or failed! As well, in France you are not allowed to pick your courses until grade 11, and even then your choices are limited. You may pick one of three packages of courses: economique, scientifique or litterature. Whichever package you pick, you must continue for grade 12 (or repeat grade 11). Depending on the package you pick you may not have any math or sciences in grade 12, but rather tons of French, English, Spanish, and sometimes even Latin instead. In France there is also no P.A. system in schools. This means the National Anthem is not played every morning and announcements are just merely delivered by teachers or on a notice board, which is way less fun. We'd say that the two school systems are very different and it is clear which one we like better!
Decision on New Casino on The Horizon
The campaign for a new casino entertainment complex in Toronto continues to heat up as several players, including huge multinational gaming companies such as MGM and Las Vegas sands Corp, pour millions into lobbying and finalizing their proposals to the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation) ahead of a crucial city council vote in the coming months. At stake is whether or not Toronto will be the site of this new facility, which could include thousands of square feet of new stores, restaurants, clubs, a new convention centre, and yes a casino fully equipped with slots and table games. MGM has even offered to establish a permanent Cirque du Soleil show as part of the complex as a way of increasing support for its bid and in an attempt to woo Toronto city council to support the project. The OLG doesn't stop there: it says the project would create thousands of new construction and service jobs, and would result in over a billion dollars in new gambling revenue for cash strapped provincial and municipal governments. Possible sites for the Casino - if built in Toronto - include the Woodbine racetrack, which is heavily favoured by Rob Ford but largely ignored by most bidders due to its isolated location. International bidders are choosing to focus more on either the Exhibition Place or the Metro Toronto convention centre, setting the stage for yet another showdown between councils left wing based primarily in downtown (which is largely against the casino and Rob Ford) and his allies based in the suburbs (which are strongly for it). Both sides, however, have largely ignored the impact the project would have on this cities' immigrants and young people who would largely benefit from the construction and operation of a casino in Toronto. The question is, why? Well, according to UNITE HERE, the hotel and restaurant employees union, over 70% of the people employed in its hotels are immigrants to Canada and even more are university students trying to pay their way through school, both often forced to work in minimum wage jobs, where the hours are horrendous. For hotel workers, however, it is the complete opposite thanks to the fact that over 90% of hotels in this city are unionized. In comparison, workers in most hotels are not only paid between $17-21 per hour (or more) depending on their classification, but full-timers (people who work more than 24 hours a week) also receive health benefits, pensions and even a free metro pass paid for by the company. The situation is similar for Casino workers across the US and Canada including in well known gambling Meccas such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City (where workers are also largely unionized and represented by UNITE HERE Locals 226, 165 and 54). If built, we can expect the casino in Toronto to bring similar benefits to our cities' immigrant and student communities who need these high paying jobs most for support purposes and for students who plan to finish university without being $100,000 in debt. Not to mention the thousands of construction jobs the project would create and the huge number of apprenticeships that would become available to those seeking to learn a trade and work in construction (for those not opting for university). So before you come out against the casino, consider the consequences of not building it. What sort of an impact would it have on the least fortunate cities and even on yourselves when you are in university or just graduating? Sure, there will always be a moral dilemma surrounding the effects of gambling addiction on society but the fact remains: gambling is already so easily accessible in our contemporary society due to the Internet. For others, gambling is in their blood. Building a casino is hardly going to make it more accessible to future or current gambling addicts, and in fact we could actually divert some of the billion dollars in new tax revenue from the project to help fight gambling addiction within society. So, we can either continue with the status quo or build the casino and entertainment complex, which will not only fight poverty in this city, but provide funding and services to addicts who want intervention. But above all, it provides us with an innovative attraction to go to on weekends to blow off a little steam.
Political Traffic Jam: Council Congestion equals False Promises
Two years ago, Torontonians voted in a municipal election. One of the hot ticket debate items was the future of Transit in Toronto. Rob Ford was both criticised and praised for aborting Transit City, the seven Light Rail Transit (LRT) based rapid transit development plan. Regardless of one's opinion on the matter, there was a collective groan, as it meant further delay in getting new forms of rapid transit in a terribly congested city. Changing the established transit plans is nothing new to Toronto. In fact, it's one of the city's oldest problems in Transit planning. The first example of this took place one hundred and two years ago, yes in 1910, when the city voted to build a subway. A second vote two years later in 1912 also came out affirmative. Despite these referenda, nothing materialised for another thirty-two years, until 1954 when the Yonge Subway opened. This kicked off a subway boom in the city, the core of today's system built before the 1980s. In the early eighties, urban planners were afraid that the system would be dwarfed by growing ridership. They drafted a plan, which they considered 'necessary' for the city's growth. It included the 'Downtown Relief Line' (DRT), which made a secondary, wider 'U' for the downtown core, running from Keele or Dundas West Station in the West End to Donlands or Pape Station in the East End. There was a second, full subway from Eglinton West Station under Eglinton Ave. to Pearson International Airport. A third subway ran from Scarborough Town Centre under Sheppard to Downsview Park, with a possible extension curving up to Finch, near York University (which was not yet big enough to warrant a subway line). The planners gave this a generous timeline, thirty years, thus calling it 'Network 2011'. A year after the supposed completion of this plan, we're still riding the same subways. So what happened? Politics. The DRT never materialised and is still floating around the planning department, and especially the internet. The Eglinton West subway actually began construction in 1995, and then another conservative government took power, this time the Provincial PCs under Mike Harris, and like Rob Ford, buried the plans for the subway. Literally. The Sheppard subway line actually took shape, and in 1997 gave us one subway station, Downsview, and a still semi-fulfilled promise of a subway line from Downsview to Scarborough Town Centre. In 2002, the Sheppard 'Stubway' opened with five stations. These transit issues, identified in 1981, are still overcrowded and in need of attention thirty-one years later. Former mayor David Miller tried to resurrect this plan in a new incarnation, Transit City. This time, however, Light Rail Transit (LRT) was to be the preferred medium of expansion. The controversial part of this plan was that Toronto's mass of commuters would still be on the streets holding up traffic instead of zipping along underground. For this reason, Transit City died when Rob Ford took office. Since then he has tried to implement his own subway-based agenda. That failed too, as we are now back on track (pardon the pun) with the Finch and Sheppard LRTs, and the Eglinton having morphed into a new phenomenon, the Crosstown, which is an LRT that will be partially buried and partially on street. The incumbent TTC chair, Karen Stintz, proposed her own thirty-year-long vision for Toronto transit, 'One City', which is essentially a modified version of Transit City, and an enhanced version of Network 2011. OneCity is going to be intimately involved with the provincial agency Metrolinx, whose regional plan was originally called 'Move 2020' but its completion date is now closer to 2031. Here we can see one the problems with Canadian democracy. The politicians making important decisions which directly impact our daily lives are giving completion dates so far in the future that they cannot be bound to keep their promises. The earliest date for completion for any new project is around 2017, i.e. after the next election. This political reneging on transit promises causes the horrible congestion of the city. With the old thirty year plan's failure to launch, I remain skeptical as to whether we will see new subways anytime soon.
Why fares need to be fair
Toronto is a crowded city. No matter where you look, there are people everywhere. We live in a city where people always need to get to places via walking, cycling, driving, GO transit, taxi or the TTC. The roads are always teeming, but the underground is worse. The Toronto Transit Commission, also known as the TTC, is the only public transit system that we have in Toronto. It provides service to approximately 450 million people per year! That's around 1.5 million a day! The price of TTC fares has rapidly risen over the past years. You would think that every time it rises, they would have enough money to operate the whole system. But why are they always asking for more and more with each coming year? When will the demand for higher fare prices come to an end? TTC is saying that this increase in fare price will make up for part of the $28 million deficit. The other portion will come from contracting out cleaners so they will keep part of the money and hopefully make up for the remaining budget shortfall. Every year, TTC receives $500 million from the government subsidy. A large portion also comes from their customers like us, (the ones that take the TTC) and taxpayers. I don't think five cents extra for tokens is that much, but it does add up. We need that money for things like food and the fares are already so high. In the long run, it's going to add up, claimed a high school student. People need to take public transit for a reason. I'm sure most of us would choose to get a ride rather than to take the subway, bus, or streetcar. When raising the prices, what do the passengers get in return? Better service would be good; cleaner seats and non-smelly subway tunnels would also be appreciated. Instead, we get nothing in return. The service is still the same as it was 3 or 4 years ago. So why would we have to pay more to get the same service? They've been acting profitably in the hands of their dependent customers. This is spiraling out of control and if this keeps up, the judicial system should intervene. The TTC union and the rest of us protest, but do we really have a say in this? These abusive actions must be questioned by us before the TTC moves forward. TTC is the only public transit we have in Toronto. They don't have any sort of competition, so that allows them to be free and make any kind of decisions they want. Some may take the TTC because they can't drive to work, school may be too far, or it's just a lot more economical than having to raise an automobile. Now that they are escalating the price of fares, it can be a burden for some, which can affect their daily lives and determine how mobile they are. There are definitely a collection of people that don't agree with this fare hike including their own TTC union, but on the other hand, maybe this time, it will change. Mr. Byford, the TTC CEO claimed that the service will be the same, and they can't get any more money from subsidy. Therefore, they are trying to make a compromise and raise the fairs and they will restrict it to the minimum. "So I think it's only fair that we should look to some contribution from our customers, but we'll limit it to the absolute minimum." Mr. Byford remarked. This hike will allow them to pay off their debt and let them resume back to normal. The fare for tokens will increase by 5 cents in 2013. The monthly metro pass will hike $2.50 and the weekly metro pass will be $1 more. At the end of the day, the TTC plays a big part of our lives. The fare hike may seem totally unreasonable to some, but it does have an impact on everyone.
Algonquin Park Trees
The typical response of the 1.1 million annual visitors to Algonquin Park is one of being overwhelmed with natural beauty, while in fact, Algonquin Park has more kilometres of roads than Toronto does itself. It doesn't stop there; with nearly 80 percent of the Park open to logging, not only is our beautiful park being ruined, but several species are losing their habitats. The worst part is that hardly anybody seems to know this! This past summer Elizabeth O'Sullivan brought her French exchange student, Marie Laure, to the Park. She was 'very excited that Marie Laure would get to see it because it is so beautiful and embodies Canada wonderfully!' Since its founding, Algonquin Provincial Park has become a symbol of our identity. To another student, Algonquin Park was important 'for celebrating the natural beauty of the landscape.' In September, 2007, the Provincial Parks and Conservations Reserves Act took the place of the Provincial Parks Act. This new Act increased protection, prohibiting major industrial uses such as mining and forestry in Ontario's protected regions. Yet as of today, only 22 percent of Algonquin Provincial Park is actually protected. Algonquin Park was originally owned by the province for the purpose of logging and to this day is the only one that allows it. In 1893, the park became Ontario's first provincial park. Home to over 2400 lakes, several species of trees and various creatures, the park is divided into four zones. The Recreation-Utilization zone accounts for 78 percent of the park and is where the logging is allowed. Only 5.7 percent, however, make up the Natural and Historic reserve part of the park. Due to this huge imbalance, several ancient trees native to the park are beginning to disappear. It is true that we need to get our wood from somewhere, but long gone are the days when a lumberjack went out, axed down a tree and sent it floating down the river. Modern logging methods, including clear cutting and selection cutting, have taken over. The industry has been designed to work deep inside the park, where visitors seldom see it. If logging continues in Algonquin, it is only right for it to not be hidden, because as long as it's hidden, so is its end. Finally the Provincial Government recognized that increased protection was needed in Algonquin Park due to the large amounts of visitors. Lightening the Ecological Footprint of Logging in Algonquin Park proposed that the protected area be bumped up to 54 percent from the mere 22 percent. Introduced in 2009, the proposal was accepted by the Minister of Natural Resources in 2010, and still awaits its second approval. Although jobs and revenue would be lost if the proposal was accepted, the park would still be making more than $100 million per year from visitors to the park. Jobs would also be created from ensuring that the new areas are being preserved. Even if this proposal of increased park protection is passed, we can't stop fighting for Ontario's oldest and most vulnerable Provincial Park. Each year Algonquin Provincial Park presents us with its history and beauty, and so it is our turn to present it with what it deserves.
Quebec sovereignty agenda put on hold due to PQ minority win
After the provincial election in Quebec on September 4th 2012, the Parti Quebecois won a minority government resulting in a further hold on efforts for separation. Pauline Marois had made promises of a push for independence, however she could only go through with the claim if the PQ had received a majority vote. Being the first female premier of Quebec, Marois came into the race with confidence and pride but fell short of a majority victory. The 'sovereigntist' party of Quebec demanded, 'that the federal government hand over more powers to the province,' however the National Assembly turned this down almost immediately. For the PQ, being a part of Canada is not necessary, but given the increasing debt the province holds, they could not stand alone in the near future. Marois stated, "My government is sovereigntist. Remaining a province of Canada constitutes a risk. We have the firm conviction that the future of Quebec is to become a sovereign country. A separation is important for the PQ, however it is unattainable because the opposition is federalist." The power in Quebec clearly wants to separate; however, the majority of the province thinks otherwise. A recent survey conducted in Quebec by Angus Reid showed that 67% of the respondents saw the PQ victory as the province's desire to have a different government while only 20% saw this victory as the province's desire to become independent. The chances of a successful referendum in Quebec are slim, at least for the first term of Pauline Marois. Harper congratulated the win of Marois; however, he completely disregarded the PQ's claims for independence. Marois was bold in her claims during campaigning, specifically those referring to a referendum. She stated, 'One of the changes is to put an end to the politics of division. What I wish is for Quebec to get back on course and reclaim its pride and confidence. When a people reclaims its pride and confidence, nothing, absolutely nothing, becomes impossible.' The PQ's dream for independence is an optimistic one for some, however it is highly improbable. The chances of the party of getting an entire province as well as the federal government behind them are slim. Much careful consideration must be put into a referendum effort and the consequences of success are substantial. Without the financial support from the rest of Canada, Quebec would be heading under quite quickly. If any province were to separate they would have difficulties sustaining themselves and Quebec is not exempt from this. If a separation were to occur, the higher taxes among the province would definitely cause people to move out of the state and would discourage immigrants from coming in.
Romnesia sufferers deliver decisive verdict
Over the course of the U.S. Presidential election, analysts on both sides of the political divide seemed to agree on one point: this was a useless campaign with a $6 billion price tag. On the outside, it appeared that nothing changed, the same president, the same Democratic senate and the same Republican majority in the House. Barack Obama's supporters wanted him to lay out a detailed and ambitious agenda for his second term. He succeeded. Mitt Romney's admirers wanted to hear more about the radical restructuring of government. He did just that, just not with the same magnitude of triumph. By the standards of most elections, this was a campaign that strengthened the existing wall splitting America in half. Early Blunders Quite seldom do gaffes affect the outcome of an election. But one trivial imperfection can reinforce a perceived narrative of that candidate. Romney's job was to eliminate his well-off image. But with billions being spent by the Obama campaign on vilifying Romney as an out-of-touch elitist, his debate performances needed to be as polished as Donald Trump's hairpiece. And it seemed at first like Romney was on the right track. After the first debate, it was clear that Obama was disengaged and jaded. Most people agreed that an empty chair could have fared better. Not even the condemnation of Big Bird ruffled his feathers. Romney won the days and weeks after the first debate, when public opinion congealed in his direction. In the following debates, Obama re-emerged, thriving off of Romney's unscripted gaffes. We'll never understand why Romney failed to realize the extent of educational programming that PBS offers. Eighty percent of children under five watch the escapades of the yellow bird among other PBS shows. Equally baffling was when Romney proclaimed using 'binders full of women' to select his Massachusetts cabinet. If this was his idea of female equality in the workspace, he should have ran alongside Calvin Coolidge some 90 years ago. The Republicans 'War on Women' persisted beyond the Presidency. Republican senators Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost key races following comments made about rape and abortion. The Anatomy of Romney's Defeat: When conservative voters saw the 'Obama is re-elected' projection on their TV screens, they despairingly tuned in to watch the inebriated Karl Rove, who refused to believe that Ohio was won by Obama, even when Fox News analysts reluctantly accepted defeat. This feeling of desolation resonated throughout many family rooms across America. How did Romney lose a race that seemed so tantalizingly within reach just one week prior to election night? For one thing, Obama vastly outmaneuvered him in the youth vote. It is the youth that tends to fall under Obama's ideology, since he is a strong proponent of placing social issues at the forefront of his agenda. He gallantly confronted the most sensitive issues that have divided antiquated America from the emerging younger generation. He supported a women's right to choose, backed same-sex marriage, espoused immigration reform, believed in global warming and stressed the importance of investing in education. Along with women and youth voters, Romney lost embarrassingly among African-Americans and Hispanics, a brutal reminder that their party is ideologically out of tune with fast-growing segments of the population. His conflicting views (dubbed Romnesia) made it impossible to win over the key undecided voters. Was he the moderate Romney who was governor of Massachusetts or the far right Romney who won all those Republican primaries? Was he the chief organizer Romney who balanced the Olympic budget or the businessman Romney who was involved in shipping US jobs overseas? Was he the champion of business and the middle class, or the Romney who believes that 47% of the population consisted of deadbeats because they collected benefits and didn't pay taxes? Having many identities might work if he was auditioning for the role of Dr. Jekyll, but when an entire country rallies behind that candidate in hopes for a better tomorrow, they trust that their candidate's views are genuine and consistent. The hub of America opted not to champion his cause because his cause could not be defended by his record. In the end, Romney couldn't reinvent Romney. Voters never quite knew for sure what Romney's plans were for Medicare, social security, tax reform, immigration, global warming, and of course, his own financial history remained murky, as evidenced in his undisclosed tax returns and his alleged outsourcing of jobs at Bain Capital. Romney is an intelligent, decent man. But he never connected with the plight of the middle class. A large proportion felt that the GOP had drifted further toward the Tea Party, choosing a platform that pandered to the religious right, rather than to all of America. In the end, Romney didn't lose, Obama won. The voters preferred a President who governed by ethics and not by partisan politics. When Obama went to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Romney was busy campaigning in Wisconsin. This action reinforced the perception that Obama was more presidential. Four Years Ahead President Obama's re-election buys him another four years at the helm of the economic recovery, where he will continue to contend with a sharply divided Congress. Obama and Romney presented two distinct visions of how to rebuild the American economy. Romney emphasized the need to cut taxes, lower spending and shrink government. Obama sketched the parameters of the budget agreement to cut the deficit, stressing the need to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. His success will hinge on whether he can convince his own party to accept cuts to entitlement programs (like Medicare). He is now fighting against time to avert over $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases. Called the fiscal cliff, the measures could plunge the economy into a recession. In addition, he's hoping to pass comprehensive immigration reform (an enterprise that Republicans would be wise to join if they hope not to be made obsolete by changing demography). Overseas, Obama faces four urgent problems: the metastasizing Syrian civil war, Iran's nuclear program, the disorderly withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, and a broken Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Amid gridlock and unproductiveness in Congress, an emphasis on foreign policy would be the cherry Obama hopes to place on his legacy.
The Iranian-Israeli conflict, a regional affair which influences policy decision-making throughout the world, especially the ongoing American elections, started with the fall of the Persian Shah in 1979. Currently, Iran does not acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and actively promotes attempts for its destruction. Since the establishment of the Islamic regime in Iran, Iran has been promoting Islamic terror as a tool for achieving political goals and as a mean of dispersing the Islamic revolution. One of the main targets of this revolution is the destruction of the state of Israel. The current Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had stated on numerous occasions that one of the goals of the Iranian regime is to bring the total annihilation of state of Israel. The Islamic regime of Iran inspired, trained, and funded suicide bombers that had been hitting the country of Israel and worldwide. The Iranian regime continues to strive to achieve nuclear military capability despite enormous economic price and the sanctions by the US and the European market, leading to inflation of 50% per month, making life for a common Iranian extremely difficult. History of conflicts When the state of Israel was established in 1948, Iran and Turkey were the only Muslim countries to recognise Israel as a sovereign nation. Israel considered Iran as a natural ally at the edge of the Arab world. The relationship between the two countries thereafter were characterised by strong commercial and political relations. Israeli engineers were involved with agricultural and industrial ventures and Iran financed an oil pipeline that ran its oil through Israel to the Mediterranean coast where it was shipped to US/European markets. The Westernising monarchy of the Shah was put in power by the combined efforts of the US and Britain who wanted to guarantee the availability of Iranian natural resources, mostly fuel, to the American and European markets. The Shah's dictatorship was characterised by the advances in infrastructure and education on one hand, but corruption, tyranny and oppression on the other. Over the years an opposition was formed and led mostly by Islamic preachers that promoted resistance through mosques and religious/non-religious groups. The US funded the Iraqi troop during the Iraq-Iran war which has provoked even more hatred to the US and its allies in the region - Israel. The focus on Israel had also served Iran's ambition to be the leader of the Muslim world that seems to easily unite over the hatred of Israel. Present Facts For decades the governments of Israel/Iran and other Muslim countries in the region have been maintaining the conflicts to avoid dealing with internal issues such as women's rights, poverty, illiteracy, overpopulation, etc. But what does the population think? A recent poll in Israel shows that the majority of Israelis are opposed to a unilateral strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, especially Shimon Peres (Israel's current president) who has publicly spoken out against this, saying "it would be preferable to deal with Iran without a war". An attack on Iran would most likely trigger a month-long conflict, leaving hundreds of innocent civilian's lives lost. Iranians share mutual feelings - as seen on the social networks like Facebook. Numerous sites calling for peace between the two nations, such as "Iran-Israel Organization", "Iran loves Israel", "The peace factory" and more, with over 100,000 followers in hope to move from the cyberspace to the real life in order to influence the governments in both countries to stop this dispute. The current Canadian government favors the Israeli side of the conflict, supportive of the only democratic country in the Middle East and against the global terror that Iran inflicts against the world. Consequences An allegory of this situation is The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss, which tells of two hostile tribes, the Yooks and the Zooks, who differ by the way they put their butter on toast. The tribes creates a more and more destructive weapons until the last page of the book depicts a Yook and a Zook on either side of the wall separating their lands, poised to drop their bombs and waiting to see who will do it first. Conclusion I am an Israeli living in Canada. moving here has opened my perspective of this conflict and I also believe, as president Shimon Peres said, that the only solution for this situation is
Nationalizing YouTube: Why the Middle East Needs to Make Up Its Mind on - How it views Social Media
During the Arab Spring of 2011, the use of social media was truly inspiring. It began with Egyptian broadcasters seizing the radio waves of Cairo after the Mubarak regime attempted to shut down the Internet. Twitter, Facebook, and other sites exploded with calls to action and organizations of protests in the iconic Tahrir Square. Facebook's Mark Zuckerburg even insisted that Facebook begin setting its update times during the +1GMT time zone, so that any bugs associated with the revolution organization could be taken care of. Fast forward to September 11, 2012, the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that provoked the U.S. 'War on Terror'. In a less inspiring embrace of social media, protesters across the Middle East responded to a video posted on YouTube by 'an American'. This video (called 'The Innocence of Muslims') ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed, calling him a sexual deviant and insulting Islam in general. The video was produced by an Egyptian-Christian in California and, through promotion by a fierce anti-Muslim group in the U.S., Arabic-dubbed highlights from the video have been posted on YouTube. Now, what makes the response to the video (particularly the vigorous anti-American slant) so counter-productive? The fact that this video was automatically assumed to be an American geopolitical action. The Middle East was so quick to respond with anti-American hype, with the current head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri calling for yet another holy war on America. In contrast, the actions of Facebook during the Arab Spring through social media was seen as an act of individual bi-partisan kindness, and the leadership shown by a Google Executive from Egypt a true step towards accord between capitalistic America and the Muslim Middle East. But as soon as someone (not even from America), produces a controversial video in California and posts it on a global internet sharing site, YouTube, the whole Arabic world is in an uproar! Protests erupt across the region, culminating in the murder of an American ambassador and three others in the Libyan Embassy. How can the Middle East differentiate between positive international acts (that actually stem from America), and negative acts that only have a daisy-chain connection to the U.S.? George Orwell once said, 'Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception'. By making social media acts on an international stage suddenly very nationalized, you make individual governments responsible for the actions that supposedly represent them online. The masses within the Middle East are only kidding themselves if they believe they can nationalize social media on a large scale; simply branding the Internet as representative of nations is not possible, nor ideologically sound. By seeking to hold hostage the mores of anonymity, and free speech within the Internet, these new societies are turning ever more into the regimes they overthrew. The American legal scholar and political commentator, Alan Dershowitz, said: 'Candour and accountability in a democracy is very important. Hypocrisy has no place.' The people of the Middle East should seriously ask themselves whether it is truly equitable to capitalize on the benefits of social media (and American support through it) when the movement is for your cause, and yet lash out violently when someone hardly connected to America makes a video that goes against the grain of their ideology. The Internet and social media are tools that have been proven to free people, to overthrow governments, to spread messages, and most recently to incite hypocrisy. To the people of the Middle East: either take a stand for or against the fluidity of the Internet and social media. To use the open-source miracle as a tool for political and religious manoeuvrings is simply self-defeating.
In Memoriam - Neil Armstrong
On August 25th 2012, humanity as a whole lost one of our all time greatest heroes, Neil Armstrong. He was a man who proved to us that the limit was no longer the sky, but in fact simply whatever we decided it to be. As an accomplished astronaut and aeronautical engineer, Neil was well known to us as the first man on the moon (the landing happens to be the single most watched live television event ever). But he also was an accomplished aeronautics teacher, Eagle Scout, and test pilot. He was a man dedicated to innovation and success in his many fields. He was a presidential Medal of Freedom winner, and a congressional gold medal winner. His actions and the actions of other astronauts inspired most of the science fiction classics we love today, examples of which include Star Trek and Star Wars. But most importantly, he was the man that inspired a generation of young children, teenagers, and young adults shoot for the stars, to never limit their perceived potentials, and to never be afraid of the great unknown. Many things can be said about his death, but I believe it represents one key thing. Neil Armstrong was born to a generation of believers, and with him too died this wondrous generation. They broke through the barrier of the earth and unto it found the heavens, a vast frontier that makes barren terrestrial land pale in comparison to the awe of space. Taking a step back, whatâ€™s more important than the things men and women like Neil did is what they did it for. These people strived to accomplish what nobody else had done before in the name of human achievement and exploration. And Neil was at the forefront. He was an extremely gifted engineer who developed and planned some of the very tactics astronauts use today in trips to space. He and people like him opened up to us during an age where we could strive to go further and faster than ever before without worrying about offending someone or risking something. The space age as a whole with Neil spawned decades of long lasting interest in science fiction and in the great beyond. For the people of the world, they showed us that we can do anything, no matter what problems and issues we faced and that we could do it with perseverance and a little elbow grease. They showed us that we can shoot for the stars and touch the moon. They overcame prejudice, sexism, religious intolerance, and sheer ignorance. People like Neil came from an age where people stood for what they believed in, politicians spoke the truth and not lies, and morality was how we acted and not what we saw. In our contemporary times, we find ourselves restricted by our beliefs, our ideals, and the constraints of our individual needs. But I ask, â€śWhy can we not be like Neil?â€ť Why must we resign people like Neil to the past? Why can we not strive to be like Neil and accomplish our goals with sincerity and dedication? What holds us from accomplishing these feats? Ask yourself that and we can never fail, for every time we think we may, we are reminded of Neilâ€™s audacious life and we pick ourselves up again. He is the last true space trailblazer.
The Future of Space Exploration
Earth exploration has hit its peak, with journeys to the bottom of the world's deepest trenches and the summits of the planet's highest mountains. One place that hasn't been examined to its full extent is space. The future of space exploration is uncertain, but this article will bring to light on the upcoming missions planned for the future, and what is holding the nationally funded organizations back from launching these expeditions. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has many programs planned to increase knowledge of the universe. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) is a future mission that will trace the energy flow in the atmosphere around the sun and other stars. This will help us understand energy transport into the atmosphere of the sun and solar winds. A solar wind is a stream of charged particles flowing outward from the sun at speeds as high as 900 km/s and at temperatures of one million degrees Celsius. Don't worry, these winds can't hurt Earth, but they are responsible for the Northern and Southern Lights seen at the North and South poles. The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch later this decade. This telescope will find the first galaxies that were formed in the universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way galaxy. It will also be used to find stars forming planetary systems, linking the rest of the Milky Way to our solar system. Its main goal is to provide an understanding of the area surrounding our world, which we scarily don't know much about. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission is scheduled to launch in late 2013. This mission is devoted to understanding the atmosphere of our little red neighbour. This project will determine how the loss of atmosphere changed the Martian climate, and what happened to the planet's atmosphere and water, as well as how much of it has been lost over time. These upcoming missions are very impressive and important to our understanding of the universe, but what if they never come to see the light of day? After all, the future of the space program is uncertain. In 2011, the budget for NASA was 18.4 billion dollars. Yet this year, the budget was cut down to $17.7 billion. This may not seem like much, but it's enough of a reduction to immensely threaten the near-future Mars exploration (Mars exploration costs were decreased by 38.5 percent), as well as future missions to the outer planets. This devastatingly large reduction will not only halt, but cancel the ExoMars mission with the European Space Agency. This mission's purpose is to find out whether life ever existed on Mars, a question we've been pondering for decades! The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution project is still funded and set to launch for next year, but its funding is now at diminished levels. America's tax money doesn't help much, with just half a penny per tax dollar going towards NASA. During the Apollo era, a time when NASA's spending was at its peak, four cents per tax dollar went towards space programs. Things haven't gone well for NASA in the past year or so, and the future doesn't look too bright either. NASA has some promising missions coming up, but the future of these missions is questionable. Space exploration for the purposes of a greater understanding of our universe is very important but it seems like, at a time when getting the economy back on its feet is more valued, gaining this knowledge will be taking a back seat.
The Greatest Bravery
On October 9, 2012, 14 year old Malala Yousafzai's life changed forever. As she rode home from the bus after school with her friends, a masked gunman boarded, demanding where Malala was, and if nobody told him, he would kill everyone on the bus. Another girl on the bus identified Malala, and the gunman instantly shot at Malala (and the girl who identified her) twice - once in the neck and once in the head. The gunman then took off, and Malala was left to die. Miraculously, she was able to hold on long enough for paramedics to arrive and bring her to safety. As the news of the assassination attempt spread across Pakistan and the rest of the country, the Taliban quickly took responsibility, stating that the reason behind the shooting was Malala's fight for girls education, which didn't follow Taliban rules. Malala had started a blog on BBC Urdu back in 2009 about living life under Taliban oppression. She first wrote about her psychological state during the First Battle of Swat, which was a battle between the Taliban and Pakistani forces in the Valley of Swat, where Malala's family currently resides. After, she wrote about the Taliban's ban that forbade girls from attending school. She expressed how she was affected by Taliban rules, describing how for example when she wore her favourite pink dress to school one day, she was told to never wear it to again, as she might stand out to the Taliban. Despite this, Malala continued to blog and put herself at risk within her own country. She was a symbol of hope for girls looking for an education across Pakistan. In late 2009, Malala was invited to an assembly organized by the Khpal Kor Foundation, a school and orphanage in Pakistan that works closely with UNICEF. The event was meant to provide a unique opportunity for Pakistani children and teens to express their concerns over child rights issues. The assembly was called the District Child Assembly. Malala was the chair of this assembly. In October 2011, Desmond Tutu announced Malala's nomination for the International Childrens Peace Prize and she gained celebrity status in Pakistan. Her public profile rose even further when she was awarded Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize two months later. Malala's growing recognition put her on the Taliban's radar. On Facebook, where she was an active user, she began to receive threats and fake profiles were created under her name. Malala deleted her personal page and attended digital-security sessions, but vowed to 'never stop working for education for girls.' Sadly, this road leads us right back to the beginning of the article. Just because a young girl fought for girls, rights and the belief that everyone should have an equal education, she was punished in the most horrible way: clinging to life after being shot in two very vital areas of the body. As of today, Malala is currently in critical condition at a military hospital in Peshawar, where doctors performed a decompressive craniectomy, which is when surgeons remove a piece of the skull to allow the brain to swell. Government officials and Malala's family is currently deciding whether to move her out of the country, to ensure her safety and put her out of the Taliban's reach. Anger towards the Taliban spread like a wildfire across the world; Pakistani officials offered 10,000,000 rupees ($105,000) as a reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers. President Barack Obama called the Taliban's actions "reprehensible, disgusting, and tragic." Madonna dedicated her song "Human Nature" to Malala and expressed her feelings on the incident, giving her sympathy to Malala. As support spread from around the globe, it was a strong reminder to us all how lucky we are to be able to have the chance to be educated without fear or oppression. Though most of us may complain about homework, Malala's bravery cannot ever be forgotten or go unnoticed.
From Banners to Bloody Brawls : Syria and Why It Matters
It is September 25, 2012. Damascus is deeply torn - a reluctant battleground between Assad's forces and opposition fighters. Bombing resounds throughout the borders of the city. 'Sons of Martyrs' - a renowned Syrian boarding school turned into a regime security centre - has been reduced to bare ashes. At least twenty are wounded. For Syria, whose insurgence has not taken the world by storm, this image is one frequently encountered. Historically, Syria gained independence from France in 1946 and united with Egypt in 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. After the two states, separation in 1961, the Syrian Arab Republic was established. Amidst Syria's newfound sovereign independence, Halif al-Asad seized power in a bloodless coup d'etat, bringing questionable stability into the nation. Halif al-Asad's death in 2000 gave rise to his son's, Bashar al-Asad's, ascent into power. Syria's population comprises of a large Sunni majority and significant, symbiotic minorities of Christians and Alawites. While Halif al-Asad promoted a facade of secular unity in the face of Syria's diverse citizens, his son failed to inspire similar reactions. Under Asad's weak leadership, Syrians' lack of entitlement to fundamental civil liberties and political rights - some of the worst in the world - saw light. Alongside an ever-widening wealth gap, a shortage of rudimentary resources, and Egypt's success in overthrowing a totalitarian ruler, the first sparks of conflict ignited. Ever since March 15, 2011 - when the first wave of protests appeared in Syria's modest political sphere - at least 28,000 people have been killed, half of which were estimated to have been civilians. The proliferation of protests, which range in versatility from straightforward declarations of revolution to complex demands in the enforcement of justice, escalated into rebellion and eventually into the organisation of active opposition groups around July. Despite President Assad's plead to peace and pledge of a 'national dialogue' on reform, opposition groups have only grown in sheer membership. The Syrian National Council, Syrian Patriotic Group, and National Co-Ordination Committee, mostly consisting of foreign, educated democracy advocates, represent few of the organisations that count overthrowing Assad's monopolistic regime as a national effort. The former is set apart by virtue of being a coalescence of various committees, which elect representatives on a three-month renewable term. Having listed safeguarding the 'non-violent character' of the Syrian revolution as a priority, and explicitly declaring their rejection of military intervention due to an intrinsic belief of it being a culprit to national strife, the Syrian National Council's manner is more akin to that of a historically-established democratic nation than to the war-resounding streets of Damascus. If opposition groups have the imperative foundations to be democratic, why has the Syrian Civil War not come to a placid resolution? The answer is complicated: desperation does not suit benevolence, it appears. Syria's revolution is, above all, a revolution of the countryside; a countryside that saw its production wane and a new monopolistic bourgeoisie rise in ranks and fought through the only means available to it. Fawwaz Traboulsi, a Beirut-based historian, claims that although the violations of human rights and undemocratic demeanour of al-Asad may resonate with the educated, liberal bourgeoisie of Damascus, it is issues such as basic survival that motivated most of Syria to arms. After all, most of the nation's 21 million citizens are far more impacted by the inflation dictating market prices and making every day life a challenge, than the systematic oppression of minorities. If anything, if the catholic patriarch Gregory Laham's words are anything to go by before the conflict, they got by 'just fine'. Other, much more controversial opinions place the burden of this outburst on al-Asad's treatment of the conflict. His instant reaction of militarization, they claim, procured a similar reaction from the opposition. Modern historians also do not hesitate to declare unorthodox opinions on the effect of sanctions - ranging from the belief that Russia's decision to place sanctions has sent a potent message on the West's input in the nature of the fight to ample evidence that such political tactics may have fostered an underground black market. Questions are begged: Had al-Asad relinquished power, like president Mubarak of Egypt did, then would the entire scene have played out differently? Can we reduce the dimensions of this conflict to one factor? Even so, is it even advisable to do so? Is this a matter that the West deserves to have an active role in? We must not forget that Syrians have spent the best part of their history as an independent nation with a minimal input in their governments' composition and decision making. Sectarian conflicts may be brawlsome and avoidable, but their demonstration of cause and effect is ultimately what will shape Syria's political identity. Amongst the withering uncertainties of politics one thing remains unassailable: whatever that is, it is a matter that must be left up to the people.
Applying to American Universities: A summary
Are you interested in applying to Ivy League Universities in the US for your undergraduate degree? Do you believe you've got the competence and the adamant passion to get in? If so, here are some important and helpful guidelines to apply. Firstly, it is important to do some research on the university or college and program you wish to apply to. You can visit their websites and read forums from www.collegeboard.com. You can also join discussions with other individuals who wish to achieve the same goal. Keep in mind that there are a few things you are looking for while researching. As Canadians, it is important to look for standardized testing requirements (SAT I, SAT Subject, ACT, etc.), application deadlines, tuition, bursaries, and scholarships that are offered, and additional requirements such as recommendations, essays, high school transcripts and extra-curricular activities. Remember: there is no set of general requirements to get in; every university has its own specific requirements so make sure you examine them carefully! Next is getting down to business: preparing for the standardized tests. There are many study materials that help to prepare for tests such as books from College Board, Kaplan's, Barron's and various online practice tests. For the SAT, it is important to do loads of practise questions and become adept at the SAT vocabulary. The SAT test is administered 6 times per year internationally, during the months of November, December, January, March, May and June. There are several testing centers in Toronto such as University of Toronto. Visit www.ivyglobal.ca for more details on registration and other testing deadlines. Once you have taken the tests and fulfilled the scoring requirements for the university, it is time to move onto filling applications. Every Ivy League university has its strict deadline for applications so it is crucial to submit them on time. You can use 'Common App', which is a free online undergraduate application site used by over 400 colleges and universities. Once you have registered, log on and you will see a step-by-step process you will need to go through to complete it. While you are at it, make sure you keep your guidance counselors up to date with what you are doing, so they can help contribute to the process as well. When you are done filling out the application, check over your personal information and your written pieces, like essays, to see if you have any errors or mistakes--remember you are applying for one of the several prestigious universities in the world, so errors or mistakes are something you cannot afford to make. As well, there are thousands and thousands of potential applicants for the spot so making your application stand out is crucial. As a final rule of thumb for applying to American universities, plan and organize your journey ahead of time; procrastination is not a trait any universities would like to conclude from your applications. Be active about your studies and watch yourself soar!
One More Year Doesn't Suit All
If I were to ask you whether you'd be willing to stay in high school for another two hundred days, you'd probably ask me if I were crazy. But it's not such an outlandish idea, since about thirteen percent of Ontario students last year decided to stay behind to complete another year of high school. This seems to have an overall positive effect on students: they save money, feel like they have matured enough to decide what path in life they want to take, and appear to do better in post-secondary education. But this extra education is coming out of the province's pockets, which is already running very dry. Dalton McGuinty, in his latest efforts to stay within his new budget, revealed his plan to put a 34 credit-cap to force students from coming back for a fifth year. Which brings up the age-old debate 'should fifth year be mandatory?' Now you may be asking me, 'What is fifth year anyways?' In summary, it's when a student stays behind for another year instead of graduating. Nowadays it's referred to as a victory lap because it's usually taken at a more leisurely pace. But just over 10 years ago, 6 of the 30 credits needed to graduate had to be Ontario Academic Credits, the highest level of credits that were gained in your fifth year, making it much more difficult to graduate in four years. So why would anyone want to stay behind in the torturous hell of high school of his or her own free will? Let's face it, all post-secondary education is expensive. First you have to pay for your tuition, buy all your supplies, and pay for some sort of housing. It'd be easier on both parents and students if students were to stay in high school for an extra year. There's also evidence showing that a fifth year helps improve post-secondary marks. A handful of studies reveal that even after figuring in the 1 year difference, students who had taken a fifth year of high school performed better. According to Harry Krashinsky, a graduate of the University of Toronto, 'in terms of individual courses and grade point average, four-year graduates perform five to ten percentage points, approximately one-half to one full letter grade lower than undergraduates with one more year of high school education.' So there's proof that you do better in your university or college if you've taken an extra year of high school. But only a few studies have been conducted with mixed results, so more research is needed for concrete evidence. The arguably most important (and most personal) reason is that you have one more year to mature and decide where you're going in life. Sometimes, trying to decide what you want to do for most of the rest of your life at age 17 is a bit intimidating. 'Just four years to decide what kind of path you want in life, it feels a bit rushed 'for me,' says Grace, a grade 10 student at NT. It's slightly ridiculous that you're expected to know what you want to do when half of the students graduating aren't even considered adults legally. Another year of high school gives us time to prepare and know what we want to do in the outside world. So fifth year is beneficial for students. But should it be mandatory, especially if it's costing money that the province doesn't really have? It really simmers down to the freedom of choice. You might not be mature enough choose what to dedicate the rest of your life to something, but you can certainly decide whether you're ready to make that decision or not. Since everyone learns at a different pace, there are people who don't need a fifth year. Having the choice to take fifth year offers the most flexibility and freedom to students and their parents, and adds flexibility to the government's budget as well. Instead of having to pay for every student in Ontario to take another year of high school, they can fund for the 13% that do decide to stay. By offering this choice, we're guaranteeing that our generation is able to succeed to the best of our abilities.
My Experience as a Fifth Year
I have been asked by many, what my experience has been like taking a fifth year. Yes, I am aware that my friends are gone. Yes, I know that I have already graduated. Yes, I am going to university a year later then my fellow 94s. I don't understand why people assume I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. In fact, I'd say it's quite opposite. I know exactly what I'm going to do with my life, and I am sharing it with y'all now, for the last time. Taking a fifth year has been a plan of mine since grade 10. I know that usually fifth years have a bad reputation of being failures, and staying to gain the credits required to graduate. But that isn't me. As I walked into Ms. Aragona's careers class in September, 2009, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life. Frankly, at that point, I didn't really care either. But after half a year of that class, learning about my colour and researching about myself for that final major project, I had discovered what I want to be. I aspire to be an Architect. It's a beautiful blend of art and math, something I had been doing just for fun on Sims2 every PA Day since grade seven. Anyways, I had learned what I want to be. Tying this back to why I'm in fifth year, I really just wanted to create a 'safety net' for myself. Playing Sims for twelve hours straight was fun and all, and architecture is definitely what I want to do, but I started to panic. What if I plan my high school completely around being an architect, and it turns out to just be "a phase"? What if my math skills don't improve enough to actually become an architect? It would be a serious problem. So by taking a fifth year, I'm allowing myself to take more classes. Now, before you think, "oh jeez, I just wanna get outa here", take this in: I am staying another year in high school, I'm still at home where my rent is free, along with my food, and have already graduated. What is good about those three things, you might ask? Well here it is. Although my friends aren't around to hang out at lunch, or work on projects together late nights, it really doesn't matter. If there's one thing I have noticed as I get older, it's that, your friends aren't going to be with you forever. You will remember each other and get together at coffee shops ever so often, but they aren't going to be there to hold your hand through university or work. People say this all the time, but I only learned it to be true during my final year with them. After reading through yearbook signings, it's not, "Have a great summer, see you next year", anymore. They read something more like, "Have a great future, and I wish you all the best on your endeavors, and I will never forget the great times we've shared since diaper days". So my friends have moved to universities around the world, and here I am, still in high school. If you think about it, it's awesome to still be here in an environment in which I am most familiar. Imagine how stressful it could be; trying to move all your stuff from your house to some random place with people you don't know, while learning life lessons of responsibilities and relationships, and also attempting to maintain a high average? Thank god I didn't have to go through "learning about the hardships of life" while trying to move out of this cozy house. I can do one or the other, but both, heck no. I like to do things at my own pace. I don't want to feel pushed or pressured by anyone to leave; I will go when I am ready to tackle the next stage of life. So, life is less stressful because I have less pressure. I also have a high school students' amount of homework, and I am so thankful for that. Besides the luxury of having less work to do on a regular basis, I also have the luxury of being at home. I don't have to spend money on rent, I don't have to share my things with a roommate, and I don't have to cook anything. I think that the biggest plus is that I am eighteen already, so I can sign for everything myself without getting my mom all worked up, and at home, I get treated as a young adult. Why would I complain about saving money and getting things my way? In fact, I have a part time job! So this is actually allowing me to save up over the course of this year, so when I do go to university, I can start off with some money in the bank. It's all about the preparation. So I am working less, earning money, and I have already graduated so I don't have to worry about not getting credits or failing anything. The experience is great, and now I have the chance to take all kinds of courses without having to worry about later success. My courses are selected to cater towards architecture, but also allow me to make a drastic change and become a psychologist if I really wanted to. I basically have enough courses in different categories of study, to allow me to choose at any point in my life, what I want to do. I would definitely recommend fifth year to everyone; I don't see why they ever got rid of it in the first place. So if you still don't know what you want to be when you get older, take a fifth year. What do you have to lose?
My time in Ryerson's Radio and Televisions Arts (RTA) program so far, although brief, has been exciting. There are some big differences, like schedules and courses, but certain things from my NT years have stayed the same. One of the big differences is having a schedule where days start anywhere between nine a.m. and two p.m., and end anywhere between five and nine p.m. I also have every Thursday off, which is nice. I have the fortune of being in a program for something I love. High school was fun because of the people I hung out with, but Ryerson has been fun because of the classes I'm taking as well. NT is known for its school spirit, but I have to say that my program offers stiff competition. It's not unusual to find us chanting our own initials around campus. Ryerson has brought a few changes to my life, but everything has been positive and I'm loving my time here so far. It's a great school in an exciting area, with really nice people, and great teachers. RTA! RTA! RTA!
Lily Ljubicic and Ahron Seeman
Two months into our first year and our livers are still intact. Western's reputation would dub that a successful first term. However, in our first few weeks, if nothing else, we've learned that there is a lot more to Western than parties, bros and alcohol. We were welcomed to a familiar setting during our (perhaps surprisingly for some) dry (whoa!) frosh week. It's kind of like Red and Grey Day, only it's a week long, everyone's painfully tired by the end of it, and you wear purple? Seriously, red and grey would be way off. Between O-week and Homecoming, we really felt a part of the University community, even though we had only been there a short time. Clubs? Week was familiar too: very similar to NT's Club Fair, except it occupies about six times the space and it hosts nearly two hundred clubs including the Surf Association, Investment Club, and, Lily's favorite, Western Deejays. If you like NT, then there's a lot that you'll love about Western, namely, a sense of community and a spirit of involvement. But Western has its differences too. At any university, you get a bunch of new freedom, guess what, they don't make you stand in a twenty minute line if you show up late for class. This freedom comes with the cost of having to do everything more independently (even laundry), but so far Western offers great support for pretty much anything you could need help with (even laundry). Sure, university is a big step up from high school, but we're more than confident that we made the right choice in choosing Western University. If all you're looking for are some bros and alcohol, we hear good things about Guelph. Seriously though, are we the only ones that see the mobile uploads?
Unlike many NT'ers, I chose to attend college: Humber College by the lakeshore. Even though the grounds were once home to the Mimico Insane Asylum, which closed in 1979, Humber has been a great experience thus far. The only crazy thing about the Lakeshore campus is how much fun I've had during my first month there. Thankfully, I have not encountered any of the reported spirits in the 'G' building. The Bachelor of Journalism program I am a part of is new. It's only in its second year, with comfortable class sizes which contrast the packed cattle-like University lecture rooms. The program faculty is very approachable and experienced in the field. The word 'college' has a negative connotation when it is mentioned during post-secondary decision time, but give Humber, and college, a shot. I love being a Humber Hawk.
Kings: University Review
Whenever I read Graffiti's university reviews of the University of King's College, I always remember the writers making Hogwarts references. Now that it's my turn, I'm going to take it to the next level: picture yourself at Oxford or Cambridge, only you're in the heart of Canada's Maritimes. This is King's. It's not like the typical university experience you'll find at Queen's or Western. It takes you back to the roots of how university education was run in some of the world's oldest universities. You're living in a quad with about three hundred other students where you're all studying the same works, all going to the same meal hall, and going to the same campus parties. In the Foundation Year Program at King's, you jump right into a journey of reading iconic philosophical and literary works, starting with ancient texts such as The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Bible, and go all the way up into contemporary works like Nietzsche and Samuel Beckett. Instead of hearing conversations about last Friday's kegger, you'll hear students discussing the morning's lecture, bringing up new ideas they learned in tutorial, and thinking about their thesis for their next essay. It might sound like we're a bunch of nerds, but really we're just a bunch of book worms and philosophical kids who love to party on a Monday night (for the record we don't have class on Tuesdays). King's really is a special place. It's amazing that in a class of just three hundred students you'll always be able to find a good group of fun and interesting people. It's amazing how much you can learn from reading and interpreting all these great texts in just one year. And it's amazing how you can't find another program or school like it in Canada. Of course, there are the many late nights of essay writing or frantically trying to digest Dante. Regardless, you are surrounded by your friends who are in the same boat as you, your friendly profs and tutors, and one beautiful stone clad quad you'll be glad to call home.
Considering that Harvard is often referred to as the McGill of the USA, McGill University definitely has a lot to boast about, most notably its reputation, student body, and environment. Well to start off, McGill University is #1 in Canada, despite all the complaints from the students at U of T, and it has consistently ranked in the Top Twenty universities internationally. Having said that, it is not uncommon for a McGill class to be taught by a Nobel Prize winning professor. In terms of the student body, its defining trait is its diversity, people come from Venezuela, Ivory Coast, Mongolia, the US, and even China! With such diversity, it's not surprising that the campus and the residences are filled with chances for you to discover a new part of the world. But not only are students diverse at McGill, they are also all good-looking and beautiful. So yes, life is pretty good here. Finally, it would not be fair to skip McGill's amazing environment set right in downtown Montreal, one of the most popular cities in North America. There are countless numbers of clubs, restaurants, and tourist sites to visit, and without a question, the night-life in Montreal is unparalleled. McGill's beautiful campus is located under Mont. Royal, and walking around the area surrounded by the rusty yet proud building certainly brings upon inspiration. But personally, I feel like McGill's residences are one of my favourite parts of McGill, maybe because right now, I'm living in a 4-star hotel single room with a private washroom, a queen-size bed, and an A.C. - a definite upgrade from home. Studying biomedical sciences at McGill, I do definitely have tons of work to do, but it's not super difficult, no matter what you may have heard. The environment at McGill is supportive and life-changing, but pretty chill most of the time, just like at NT. Grads of 2013, I hope to see many of you at McGill next year.
Hey kids! Do you like kilts? Do you like fancy limestone buildings? Do you like top-notch educational institutions? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, then Queen's University is the right place for you! Queen's has an unrivalled sense of spirit entwined with its Gaelic tradition and heritage (basically it's really Scottish: kilts, bagpipes, highland dancers, etc.). Each faculty has its own set of unique traditions. During Frosh Week, if you're in Artsci, prepare to pelvic thrust when asked 'How you feel?'; if you're in Engineering, you're getting dyed purple and have to climb a tall, greasy poll; and if you're in commerce, get ready to run around with a fanny-pack full of pennies. There is an extremely strong sense of community at Queen's and upper year students are actually very nice people (they don't really hit you with paddles). Queen's also prides itself as being one of Canada's leading universities and offers a wide range of courses to suit any scholar's needs. Oh, and did I mention Queen's owns a castle in England where you can study for a semester? If you have any more questions, hit me up on Facebook!
University vs. College
Queens, Western, University of Toronto, Waterloo. Trent, Humber, George Brown, Seneca. I'm no mind reader, but I definitely know what you are thinking if your home colours are red and grey. I call this 'school stereotyping'. NT has over 90% of their graduating students attend the 'finest and most competitive university programs in the world,' as stated on our school webpage. With this striking title, each and every one of us has been programmed to aim for the schools our peers before us worked their butts off to get into. Thank you past-Norsemen for setting the bar sky high- to the point where we constantly stress ourselves out all day by working hard in school, working late at night perfecting a project, and then not being able to get to sleep because you're thinking about the work you just spent on your 'perfected project'. This 'school stereotype' turns into what I call 'The School Program Stereotype.' If you are not going into engineering, medicine, business, accounting, finance, or any form of science or math, you my friend, are an endangered species of your own. The courses are so funneled into a concentrated level you could guess which program a person wants to get into. What is so bad about college? That is what I want to know. The equation, 'University Equals Success', has been hammered into our subconscious. Take an example such as plumbing. This career path is usually pursued through apprenticeship but also through college. I bet you wouldn't have guessed that a plumber can be paid around $250,000 a year. If you come out of university and are making the same income but at a different job, the college person is technically making more than you since they didn't have to spend the extra money on schooling. I'm a solid arts and social science student. This path is usually looked at as the 'slacker path' due to the fact that I don't have one class on the fourth floor and that most universities don't have art programs. If I complain about having a mound of work, there will be at least one person who laughs and then will state something along the lines of, 'Well at least they're art courses. They are so much easier than math and physics.' This is FALSE! The 'academic' subjects (i.e. math and science) allow you to learn complex patterns and master concepts to be able to reach a very high grade, even 100%. Art allows you to create your ideas and you are crafting your own projects: there is no right answer. With this, art marks tend to be a lot lower. Art students face the fact they can't get 100% unless a miracle has been bestowed upon them! They are also 'M' courses. Most universities want students submitting four university-level credits as a minimum. My first reaction when I first heard this in grade eleven was turning to a friend, heaving with laughter, and finally started researching for as many ridiculous jobs as possible that don't need a university diploma: Dirt Sifter, Tick Remover, Drive-thru Cashier, Chucky Cheese Mascot, IMAX Screen Cleaner! I do realize now it would take some serious patience to actually clean the screen of an IMAX dome or have an extraordinarily high pain tolerance for screaming, cheese covered children. For this reason, it makes the goal of getting into university even more stressful because you have to work hard in courses you can barely do. Most art courses in colleges are not only better but more hands-on which tend to appeal to visual learners who are usually art students. It's in human nature to aim higher than one thinks he or she can achieve. That's why when colleges visit for the information meetings, there are a lot fewer students than there would be for bigger, higher-average requiring universities. It's the 'I'm-better-than-you' drive that keeps us wanting the best for ourselves. With almost everyone wanting university over college, naturally we want to not only go to the same university but also compete for the same spots as each other! The routine at our school breeds perfectionists. Whether it is for marks, extra-curriculars, or even looks, people are constantly doing their best to be this perfect image. By the end of the year, when acceptance letters are arriving, this will be another moment to rub whatever achievements we have gotten in others faces, hell will it feel good! Getting exactly what you want and letting everyone know you did well will feel pretty damn great after a year of constant pressure. That acceptance letter will be our lottery ticket to what we see as the rest of our lives. Let the annual University Hunger Games begin!
What Happens Next
Thirty courses, forty volunteer hours, countless assignments, endless extra-curriculars and one literacy test are all it takes and then you are done, high school that is. But what comes next? I remember my very first assignment of grade one; we had to say what we wanted to be when we grew up. I must say that it is highly unlikely that most of my peers will go on to do what they said they would at the age of six, even the ones who didn't say they would become a Fairy Princess. But at the age of six, that assignment was nothing more than an assignment. Now, as we are beginning or ending high school, that assignment has become a reality. After that, the next eight years felt like forever, but looking back, I didn't even realize that they had happened. So why am I surprised that I entered high school with four years left to decide what to do with my life and now I only have two year left?! It's not like I even have any time to consider what I want to do with my life due to the stress high school brings. "It's not so much finishing high school, but what comes after," expressed a grade 11 student. "I'm worried that I'll plan and plan and plan and I'll still fail because I didn't plan the right things." For those who do know where they want to be, there is still the stress of whether or not it will all work out. High school seems to be the last place where we are 'safe'; our worries about grades and friends don't have lifelong consequences. What the majority of us fail to remember though is that you can always change what you do. In fact, the average Canadian currently changes occupations more than once throughout their professional career. So don't worry, because in the end it will all work out; you may not know how you got to where you are, but you will get there, wherever there is!
50 Shades of Pink
Ema Ibrakovic and Kienna Shaw
You wake up on the morning of September 30th feeling sleepy, grumpy, and not at all ready to run. You ponder staying in bed, but you raised the money, you got the shirt, and it seemed like you were already too involved to chicken out now. You drag yourself out of bed, pull on the shirt that has slightly too much pink for your liking, and somehow manage to get out the door by 9:00. You're thinking that devoting your Sunday morning to this was an awful mistake, and you should've gotten the extra sleep. However, as soon as you step out of Museum station, you're blinded by the fifty shades of pink and deafened by the spirited cheers of twenty thousand breast cancer supporters and survivors. As you wade through the crowds of men wearing pink tutus and women wearing bras on top of their shirts, it's nearly impossible to avoid getting swept up by the atmosphere of the CIBC Run for the Cure. The crowds of people slowly make their way to the large pink banner reading "Start," taking you with them. Twenty thousand other people are running with you, all dedicating their time for one purpose: "[raising] funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer foundation in support of the breast cancer cause," as the official website puts it. The CIBC Run for the Cure started out in Toronto twenty years ago by a small group of volunteers. In its first year, it managed to raise $85,000. By 1997, it grew to seventeen different locations and CIBC obtained the titular sponsorship. In just twenty years, the event has gone from raising $85,000 to $33 million. It is without a doubt the largest volunteer-run event in Canada. "The CIBC Run for the Cure unites people from all different walks of life," said Bharad, a volunteer team leader. As you look at your surroundings you'll observe a variety of different ethnicities and ages. Toddlers and babies in their strollers dressed in their finest pink costumes, teenagers with their more subtle pink and white wristbands, and elderly women and men sporting elaborate handcrafted costumes consisting of bright pink wigs and homemade shirt-bras touched up with rhinestones and feathers. One of the most impressive things about this event is just how widespread it is. "We're not just talking about an event that's city wide, this is like a province thing, and it's a national effort," says Shirley, another volunteer team leader. An anonymous Breast Cancer survivor adds "this is only one site, and there are 62 across Canada today." Everyone surrounding you helps to kindle the heart and soul of the event. Jonathan, a runner in the 5k race, chimes in with his opinion, which echoes the inner thoughts of all the participants. "It's inspiring you know, optimistic. It will lead to something good." You don't have to be an athlete to participate. In fact, most of the people you see around the event are volunteers. Many people have a diverse range of reasons for getting involved. Stefanie, another volunteer, expresses her personal motivation to joining the event. "I actually have a friend who is twenty-seven, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer about two months ago." Many people, like Stefanie, participate for the people in their lives that have been touched by cancer. Some run just to be part of such a great cause, and to learn from other's experiences. Shirley, a previously mentioned volunteer, is one of those people. "I'm actually a grad student in cancer research, so a lot of things I do are behind the scenes. I don't get to interact with the community much, so this is my chance to interact with survivors." As you stretch and warm-up with the crowd (don't want to cramp up in the middle of the run!), your phone buzzes, notifying you that you've received a new message. You unlock it, and a text pops up from your friend. "OMG, I can't believe you raised so much money!" you read. "You only posted that one thing on Facebook right? If raising money for every event was that easy, I'd do it a lot more. Btw, good luck on your run!" You just smile and slip your phone back into your pocket. A reply could wait for now, since in a few minutes you'll be starting to run. You can't help but overhear a couple of women behind you excitedly discuss how much money they raised. One of them revealed how she asked people at her office to pledge their funds, while the other tells stories of asking family members. Personally, you think it was much easier to do it over the Internet. All you did was set up a participant page and post the link online, and before you knew it, you've gotten fifty dollars from your cousin, twenty-five from that distant aunt of yours, and a hundred bucks from your grandmother. More donations trickle in over the weeks before the run. All in all, you've raised more than two hundred dollars, and all you did was just put a little message up on Facebook and twitter. It's so much easier than having to beg repeatedly from people at school or work. Soon, the five kilometre run starts and you're left panting and pushing yourself onward along with everyone else. If you look around at the sixteen thousand other people participating in this run alone, it makes you wonder about just how much time people devote to this event. For a seasoned runner, it wouldn't take that much time to train for this particular race. For some people, running the whole five kilometres is a goal. For those new to running, a five kilometre race is challenging, so it's astonishing to consider the thousands of people that had to go out every single day to prepare themselves for it. Sporting Life, one of the big sponsors of the Run for the Cure, has a five kilometre training program to ensure in just a few weeks, "anyone can be able to run five kilometres." With these programs available, anyone can help out and make a difference. The CIBC Run for the Cure is constantly changing to accommodate the changes in the world. "I think this year we figured it out. Last year it rained, and a lot of people left right afterwards. But it's great to see everyone sticking around," says Greg, a member of the planning committee. If you wander up to the stage, you'll catch a glimpse of bands playing, survivors telling stories, and lots of inspiring talks from all the different sponsors. You ponder if you'd like to enter the raffle to win a pink Vespa. Even though you love Vespas, you're not sure about the colour. Instead you go over to the Wall of Hope, and squish your name with a smiley face between many other messages and signatures. Even though it's been two decades, there is always room for improvement. One way to do this is by increasing the number of people that come out to each event. "Maybe more comical and diverse walks, not just running and walking," said a media volunteer, "or maybe a more fun theme." You think back to the friends that you asked to join so you wouldn't be alone, all of them turning you down because they didn't want to run or walk. They say they might join just for the silly fun of it. "I think that U of T needs to push this community," says Marr, a runner. In fact, it is their part of the city, so it's only natural that they get more involved. In addition, many go to great measures to join a run, which is sometimes very difficult. "A lot of people commute [to Toronto] from Newmarket and some people come here from Ottawa," says Shirley. "Ottawa has their own run, but places smaller than Newmarket could maybe have an event." It's very difficult for people in smaller parts of Canada to migrate to the closest big town just to participate, which could discourage people from joining. "Sometimes because it's so far, getting here is such a challenge, so they're less willing to do it." You think back to what you heard at the beginning of the run. If you can go from one location to sixty-two in twenty years, you're pretty sure that adding a few more won't be too much of a challenge. You get to the finish line, urged on by the groups of animated supporters on either side of the boundaries. You finished at a better time than you thought you would. Maybe the little bit of training you did paid off. You walk to the various sponsor booths while being handed a bagel by a volunteer. You feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing that you've done something to help your community. You know that the two hundred dollars you raised is definitely going to a great cause, and it was a great experience, being part of such a spirited event. Maybe your friends will join you next year, if you're convincing enough. The CIBC Run for the Cure brings something you can't see anywhere else: thousands of people united to help those touched by cancer.
From a Traditional Holiday to Fishnets - The Evolution of Halloween
'Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.' Whether encouraged by Cady Heron's words of wisdom or not, there does seem to be a consistent trend among female Halloween costumes these days. With most costumes consisting of skimpy miniskirts and revealing bodice tops, finding a costume with more material than a pair of underwear isn't easy, unless you want to be stuck showing up to the Halloween dance in a giant Mr. Potato Head costume. What made Halloween go from a candy eating competition to a 'whose underwear is the most visible' contest? It's not exactly tradition. Halloween originated from a pagan festival to honour the dead, with people believing that the turning point between fall and winter was when the physical and the supernatural world are closely tied together. Despite our often judgemental attitude towards promiscuity in addition to different types of media influences coming at us left and right, a very different message is being portrayed. Besides the legendary Halloween party in the movie Mean Girls, with scenes full of scantily clad girls mingling about, multiple popular teen oriented TV shows, like 90210, One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl portray their main female characters provocatively dressed in their numerous Halloween episodes. "The Media definitely play a factor in girls dressing provocatively... It's easy to model ourselves after certain celebrities like the Kardashians or the girls on Jersey Shore," says Sarah Jovanovic. "On TV shows the guy always pursues the more promiscuous girls, or they're portrayed as the 'popular' kids," adds Shannon Kelsall. Advertising plays a big role as well. "On billboards and in commercials advertising things like perfume or some clothing, you have scantily clad women," says Lauren Chee, "which affects the way girls will want to dress as well." Social media sites also contribute to this influence. Twitter accounts like Slutty Girl Problems (@Sluttygrlprobs), which has over 200,000 followers and whose tweets, while admittedly humorous, glorify promiscuity. We've also put the pressure on ourselves. As Hannah Loo says, "people are competing over who can have the better costume, and there's definitely pressure on girls to make their Halloween costumes provocative." The Halloween costume industry also has its influence. Large online companies advertise their endless offerings of Halloween costumes. Categorized into men's, women's and kids' costumes, the women's costumes all leave little to the imagination, and certain ones people could find offensive, such as the 'Sexy Nun' in a short black dress, fishnets, and garters. Has media influence made Halloween become an excuse to dress as provocatively as you want without fearing the judgement usually passed at less demurely dressed women? Whether it's a chance to dress however you want for one night, a result of media impact, or just a long honed desire to dress up as nurse with fishnets and 6-inch heels, the trend is clear, provocative Halloween costumes are in. Personally, I'm settling for a balance between Regina George's barely there bunny costume and Cady Heron's unfortunate ex-wife ensemble.
Gap Year: A Whole New Kind of Education
Straying from the crowd is never easy, but perhaps taking a gap year is just what North Toronto students need after high school to put things into perspective. Discussion of university, marks, and averages is constant amongst NT's grade twelve population. Many students are confused and uncertain about life plans, and can you really blame them? It is arguable that a few years of high school do not provide teenagers with an adequate base to make important life decisions. By forfeiting one year of academic life and its stresses for a unique experience of work or travel, students may gain a lot more than they might expect. North Toronto graduate Kate Stafford is currently on a gap-year herself so she was able to shine some light on the subject. To begin, Kate says, "The break is amazing. We have all been in school for so long, that not needing to worry about assignments, tests, and the stresses of homework is such a relief." These words ring true to many, as the grade twelve students have been in the education system for fourteen years now which is practically a lifetime, literally! Imagine taking some time to sort out your thoughts and plans uninterrupted by the pressures of hectic school life. "One of the biggest things I have learnt about taking a gap year is your mind is opened up so much! When you are in high school, your mind is so fixated on what everyone else is doing, and I found when I left that I was less fixated on what everyone else thought and more focused on what I wanted," says Kate. It is hard to deny that us high school students are naive and easily influenced by friends and those around us. Opinions of others may unknowingly cloud our judgements regarding university. Taking a gap year presents a rare opportunity to step back from all of this. To look at things from a completely new viewpoint, void of high school's restraints. Nevertheless, there are still the fears. It is true, "at North Toronto, almost everyone chooses to go to university, so straying from the crowd is always hard", mentions Kate. But what is really holding us back besides a fear of being different? Yes, it might be a little disconcerting to hear friends chat about their upcoming school years, but once you examine the bigger picture this is no obstacle. For example, if exploring the world is what you want to do, that is what you should do regardless of other's decisions. A year of travel, in particular, might grant some with a tremendous benefit. Many North Toronto students feel themselves to be trapped in the so-called 'Yonge and Eglinton bubble'. There is enough to do in this small neighbourhood that many students do not bring themselves to venture out into the city as much as they would like to. Demanding schedules do not always make branching out easy. Taking a year to travel could reward students with diversified attitudes and ideas. Taking people beyond their comfort level and exposing them to much more would provide a more mature platform for further studies in university. Ultimately, the year between high school and university presents itself as an unusual opportunity. It is a time when you are young, and likely have no urgent plans. You are not in the middle of a degree nor have you completed one. You probably don't have any serious living expenses. Most people are not in serious relationships. Essentially, you have a lot of freedom in a life that has not yet been complicated by factors of adulthood. Thus, for some the gap year can be ideal. It is not something for everyone, but it is something to consider. In the end, although university is the probable choice, it is not the only choice. Taking a year between schools to recreate goals and ideals might make you wiser than a year of school ever could.
Iphone vs. Blackberry: technology war
Did you ever have an MP3 player or a Walkman? Now let me guess, you upgraded to an iPod. If you had a PC I bet that you switched or are planning to switch to a Mac. These days, the big question you hear in the halls at North Toronto is, 'are you trading in your blackberry for an iPhone?' Apple keeps stepping up their game every few months (by numbers and letters, 3-4, 4S and now 5); updating and modifying all their products. Research in Motion (RIM), which makes Blackberry, is trailing in the dust and the company financial value is plummeting quickly. There are many differences between the two phones, like versatility, price, and fragility, but I am not sure if people know those differences when they chose one over the other. When Blackberry was founded, it was more of a business tool. The keyboard was designed to make it easy to respond promptly to emails and messages rapidly. BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) was the coolest thing, but iPhones have the App Store where you can get any Social Network on your phone, like Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram, and they are all easier to use because of the touch screen. iPhones are more for recreational use and they attract all age groups because they are so simple to use. You can still check your emails and messages on iPhones; they are primarily pleasing because of their wide selection of applications! I'm sure Apple already started to design a newer version as soon as the iPhone 5 came out. So get ready to start saving your money or begging your parents, NT!
A Fence of a Very Different Kind
You've probably got one in your backyard. It's tall, wooden and really not that menacing. But, it's unlikely that you've given much consideration to your unassuming backyard fence. I'd like to tell you a story that is about a fence. Albeit, a very different type of fence. Running for over 578 miles along the USA-Mexico border, this monolithic wall serves only one purpose: to keep out aliens. Aliens of all sorts. Young and old. Short and tall. Human and human. This wall of barbed wire, cement, metal, and armed guards is (hopefully) nothing like that one that keeps your neighbour's soccer ball out of your mom's manicured garden. Established under the Bush administration, this border wall cost an average of $4.5 million per mile to build. Its function is twofold: to prevent illegal immigration and drug trafficking. The barrier between the impoverished south and the wealthy north is an irony in itself. The irony lies in the truth that as bourgeoisie North Americans, we want the cheap services and goods that are provided to us by our southern neighbours. Yet Canadians and Americans are insistent in the alienation of South American immigrants. "People in North America, especially the USA really don't respect South Americans," says Andres, a Mexican immigrant himself. "But, they still need us to do their hard work," he continues. "I came to Canada when I was younger," he says in his colourful accent. "And now I'm making quite a lot of money," he comments on his budding construction company. Sure enough, as a young man in his late twenties he's doing a lot better than many a homebred Canadian. His hands have been full studying photography and digital design in college while starting up his own company. "I've worked with men who have been working in construction since they came to Canada over 20 years [ago]." These men that Andres speaks of are the people who we think of as stereotypical Mexican immigrants. However, Andres likes to think of himself as different from the flock. So, what separates Andres from the rest? "I'm ambitious, and I've travelled a lot", he says, and begins to reminisce on his travels in Europe. Journeying as a single man through Germany and central Europe, he's done all the clubbing and partying he could want, but he's also seen how much the world has to offer. He's reluctant to return to Mexico. He hasn't seen his mother and sister in years, but is driven by a goal towards a better life. In his opinion at least, this is the factor which separates him from the stereotypical Mexican immigrant who labours for hours in dismal conditions earning less than minimum wage. Not only is Andres willing to make sacrifices, but he's also ready to take his own initiative. Thus, based on Andres, interview, I have compiled a list of quintessential tips to succeed as a South American immigrant: 1) Don't be resigned to your fate. Canada is a vast country with a plenitude of opportunities. 2) Take the initiative to start your own ventures, business or otherwise. 3) Travel and see the world. It's fun. It's exhilarating. It can change how you perceive the world. 4) Don't miss your family too much. They might not want to join you in Canada, but there's so much to gain from independence and freedom. Immigrants are a vital part of our country. We're often quick to forget that at one point or another our ancestors were likely penniless immigrants landing on the shores of Canada. As more and more ambitious youngsters like Andr's come to Canada, we will find that South American immigrants will help build our country significantly. The border wall between the US and Mexico is not only ineffective, but it does not solve the root cause of disparity. With $3 billion dollars spent and still counting, the wall has not been successful in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants. In the 21st century it seems archaic to be building physical walls instead of using diplomatic measures to work with those of the human race that live south of a phantom line. *Name has been changed for anonymity.
Now say 'Ommmmmmm!'
What words come to mind when you think of yoga? Are they words like quiet, peace, and spirituality? When they think of yoga, people tend to think of others twisting themselves like pretzels, or sitting cross-legged while chanting 'Oooommmmm'. However, few people know the significance yoga had when it first originated in ancient India almost 26 thousand years ago. The word 'yoga' means 'to unite' or 'to join' in Sanskrit, which is exactly what it does; yoga unites an individual with 'Cosmic Consciousness' or the 'Universal Spirit.' It is believed to have evolved during the period of 'Sat Yoga,' also known as the 'Golden Age,' a time of peace and blessings. It also became known as a time of seekers of the Eternal Truth. The history of yoga is mainly divided into four broad time periods. The first one is 'Vedic,' also sometimes known as Archaic Yoga, and was a time of ceremonies and ritualistic beliefs striving to get in closer touch with the spiritual world. The Pre-Classical era of yoga is the two thousand years until the second century. Meditation and physical postures were the focus, with the objective to realise self and ultimate reality. Lord Buddha was the first Buddhist to study yoga and achieve enlightenment at the age of 35 years. In Buddhism, enlightenment means the attainment of spiritual knowledge or insight that frees a person from the cycle of rebirth. The 'Classical' era starts in the second century. A renowned Saint 'Patanjali' believed and advocated that everyone is composed of matter and spirit. He professed that Yoga would restore the spirit to its 'absolute reality'. In past eras, the purpose of Yoga was to unite the body and soul. Patanjali suggested that in order to cleanse the spirit, the two must be separated. In this period, the goal was to use physical postures (also called 'asanas') to strengthen body and attain immortality. The 'Post-Classical' period started when yogis (practitioners of yoga) began to explore the hidden powers of the body. They developed advanced yoga poses that would refresh the body and prolong its life. These poses lead to the creation of HathaYoga, which is now practised around the world. Despite how it started, yoga is not religious. It is not a cult trying to grab followers. Yoga is simply the expression of going beyond one's self, breaking away from boundaries and limitations that bind. It teaches us that our 'true nature' goes far beyond the limits of our human mind and personality. It is the idea of finding inner peace, wisdom and tranquility. Yet, Yoga is scorned by some people who believe its some sort of 'spiritual mumbo-jumbo'. They don't realise that yoga is a practical science and that its foundation is based on concrete experiences of yogis and teachers. There are different kinds of Yoga's all expressing varied teachings: - Hatha Yoga (most commonly practiced around the world) - Karma Yoga (Karma: selfless actions) - Jnana Yoga (Jnana: knowledge and contemplation) - Bhakthi Yoga (Bhakthi: loving devotion) - Kundalini Yoga - Mantra Yoga Yoga is a very involved and complex activity. When I first began researching it, I was intimidated by the pages and pages of information on its history, meaning, and purpose. Yoga is a lot more than the pretzel stretches on that fitness video. The idea of pushing yourself to your limits can be incorporated into people's lifestyles as well. Technology has been a major point in the advancement of our civilization, yet also the largest limitation. We have become so dependent on it that we cannot imagine life without our iPhones, laptops, or, most of all, (gasp) Wi-Fi. In fact, people who prefer the 'simple life' are typically deemed foolish within modern society. Perhaps technology has narrowed our way of thinking. Science and spirituality are seen as two opposite sides of the spectrum. Somebody may say that since he or she is a 'person of science' and thus they do not believe in a greater power. Why not? Science is a much broader topic than many people think. Similarly, yoga is also a broader subject than people believe. It has spiritual and physical benefits. There are studies being conducted to prove it is possible prevention for many diseases and illnesses, such as cancer. It has become a therapeutic form of healing. That was not the initial teaching of the yogis, though perhaps it's time to unearth it again. It's time people understood yoga's true potential.
Pros & Cons of Modern Tech *PICTURE*
When you think about our ancestors a few thousand years ago and their struggles to make fire or throw spears to catch food, it's pretty hard not to laugh. The changes in our technology over the years (as we niners in BTT have extensively learned) have been pretty incredible. We no longer have to wait for information or even know the meaning of 'snail-mail'. Recent developments in technology have made many things easier, such as posting a birthday wish on the 'wall' of that girl you barely know, or launching suicidal birds at pigs dressed in army helmets. Homework assignments can be e-mailed with a few clicks of a mouse and research done a lot faster than searching for that one book in the library. Imagine all the information in the world at the touch of your fingertips. That's what modern technology offers to every student. But a miracle like modern technology doesn't come without its own faults. No, I'm not talking about having to explain what 'lol' means to your mom constantly, but how the evolution of technology changes the way we communicate with each other and how websites like Facebook or Twitter have replaced the need for face-to-face interactions. Social media websites like Tumblr keep popping up everywhere like a fast growing cyber disease. Social media sites enable us to find out a lot about someone's life without even talking to them. Your contact information, likes, friends, life history, and photos are all a click away from anyone that's online. It's fast. It's accurate. And it's a little creepy. While technology can make long-distance relationships much easier, you lose the actual emotions or connections that come with seeing each other and having a good time. Texting and online messaging just aren't enough for a good relationship, no matter where you are. Even at a school like NT, as soon as the bell rings, you can't walk a few steps without seeing students whipping out their cell phones and hearing the familiar beeps of BBM echoing down the hall. Talking is replaced with texting the same way words are replaced by abbreviations. With fast trending ideas like YOLO and GANGNAM STYLE, this disease is not going away anytime soon. So next time, replace a birthday post with a birthday hug or call up your old friends and plan a getaway, because at the end of the day, technology isn't enough.
Ready, Set, Sleep-in
As the school year swings around, there is always one day a month that keeps NT students' spirits up. As a student body we thrive for this day, it gives us one more hour to do whatever our heart desires; hanging out with friends, studying, deciding on that day's outfit, or a rare chance for our heads to be bouncing with dreams while we lay in a trance, asleep. Late starts are among one of the most popular special schedule days at NT, so wouldn't it be just lovely if we got this miraculous day more often? Schools like Lawrence Park C.I., Malvern C.I., Leaside High School, and Eastern Commerce C.I. all have later mornings more frequently than us, each with a different late start program, and the benefits are obvious. Lawrence Park, Leaside, and Malvern are examples of schools that share the same late start schedule as we do, yet have sleep-ins more often (Malvern and Leaside have one every other week, while Lawrence students have the chance for an extra hour of sleep every Wednesday). One LPCI sophomore says she loves late starts because she can 'catch up on homework in the morning." Another Lawrence Park student, Evelyn Vanderhoof in grade 11, says that "with late starts everyone wins. Students are able catch up on sleep, which is something crucial that a lot of teens do not get enough of, while teachers can meet, discuss and be on the same page." Leaside and Malvern students agree. Kate G. from Malvern says she "can get a better sleep and feel awake for school," the same goes for Leaside student Shannon, who benefits from the extra hour of slumber, saying it "helps me perform better in school." This is a subject that has been covered by many newspapers, university researches and even the TDSB. They decided to conduct a study on Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute, adjusting their schedule so they start 10am and end at 4:15 Monday through Thursday, with a modified schedule on Fridays. The TDSB saw that in Grades 9 and 10 English and Science, Eastern Commerce showed the highest percentage improvement compared to the control school and the TDSB as a whole. In Grades 11 and 12, Eastern Commerce showed the Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute's Late Start: Year One Interim Report 3 had the highest percentage improvement in English and Mathematics compared to the control school and the TDSB as a whole. Other improvements include that seventy percent (70%) of ECCI respondents report that it is easier to come to school after the schedule change; this is a much higher positive response compared to School ABC. ECCI students had higher participation rates in sports, volunteer activities, and leadership programs than School ABC. ECCI students were absent less often (among fourteen, sixteen, and seventeen year olds) following the schedule change, where there were marginal absenteeism increases across all age groups across the TDSB. ECCI students got on average thirty minutes more sleep per night than students in School ABC; and two-and-a-half times the number of students getting more than nine hours of sleep per night than in School ABC. Overall, both students and teachers were satisfied with the new schedule. In conclusion, late start days are essential to high school students everywhere. Imagine being able to sleep in once a week! Here at North Toronto, that would certainly benefit our grades, our sanity and our mood in the morning. You never know, with enough support behind this issue, we could make this vision of a happy, non-sleep deprived school a reality. Don't stop dreaming, NT.
Something Doesn't Feel Right *PICTURE*
I can't remember the first time I realized I was different than most 'boys.' Maybe it was when I asked Santa for a Barbie instead of Hot Wheels when I was four, or maybe it was that I enjoyed 'girly' things, like flowers and gardening, whereas all other guys played sports and collected Pokemon cards. All I knew from the moment I unwrapped that box with the Barbie in it was that it was wrong, and I should pretend to not be interested in those 'girly' things. I worried my own family would turn against me. I was four, but I could understand this sort of thing wasn't what they were expecting and wasn't something that they thought was okay. As soon as I got home that night, I put the Barbie in a box in my room and never played with it or took it out, and from then on only asked for cars and other 'boy' toys. As I got older, I started repressing these feelings even more as I became curious about makeup and heels. However, those around me, including my friends and family, continued to classify this, whether intentionally or unintentionally, as wrong, or 'gay.' As a result, I constantly felt pressured to do things I had no interest in, like sign up for soccer and hockey just so I could make them happy. I thought making them happy would make me happy as well. Instead, I felt empty, as if something wasn't right, but I couldn't figure out what it was. As I graduated from middle school and entered the halls of the old NT, I thought I had finally figured it out. It occurred to me that I had never been sexually attracted to anyone of the opposite sex, leading me to realize I was gay. Terrified, I carried this knowledge with me for over a year. I planned to come out to those around me many times, but I always chickened out at the last minute. I was scared people would hate me and never talk to me again. However, at the end of grade 10, I finally came out, and for the first time, I felt free, like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. But the emptiness I had felt persisted, though less noticeable than before. As time went on and my confidence grew, I began to question other fundamental portions of who I was, specifically my 'gender.' Up until less than a year ago, I thought the only options I had were to continue my life as a 'guy' or to begin taking hormones and eventually get surgery to fully become a women. I can't stress this enough: I like my body the way it is (although a six pack wouldn't hurt), and I have no intention of changing it or spending money on surgery. So, I remained lost and confused, until, one day, I came across an article online on bi-genderism. Intrigued, I opened the article and began to read about how 'gender' and sex are two totally different concepts. Sex is your biological make up, what sexual organs you physically have, whereas 'gender' is a sociological concept we hold based on stereotypes that come from how society thinks each sex should act. I know you're probably thinking this sounds crazy. I thought so, too, until I asked myself why we act and dress the way we do. Why is it frowned upon for a male to wear lipstick, but not for a girl? From a young age, we are taught to act a certain way by our parents and society. The problem is that many people don't fit cleanly into either 'gender.' These people are classified as transgendered - their 'gender' doesn't match with what is traditionally associated with their sex. As soon as people hear the word transgender, they think, 'Oh, so and so wants to take hormones and get surgery,' implying they are transsexual. But there are several other terms covered by trans/transgender, including queer, bi-gendered, a-gendered, third gender, androgynous and drag queen cross-dressers who are straight males. Having finally realized what I was missing, I made the change over to who I really was. It wasn't too hard, considering I had already come out. I even went to my prom in a dress, makeup and flats (I'm already 6'3, no need to be any taller). The only wisdom I can give you is be yourself because you will never be happy living a lie, and those who truly care about you will support you. I know it's scary to admit to being transgender, gay or bisexual, but, trust me, it really does get better. You are never alone. There are tons of other people reading this who feel just as lost, confused and afraid as you, and worry about being labelled 'gay' or 'that trans kid' at NT. But it only takes one person to step up and say, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore,' to begin eroding the homophobia and hate surrounding LGBTQ people within NT and beyond.
The Staggering Stress of School
For today's generation, the pressure to succeed both academically and socially has become a feared, yet inescapable burden for students. The build-up of stress has evolved to become simply unbearable for many, causing an increasing rate of not only depression, self-harm and aggression, but also suicide. Apart from motor-vehicle accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death in Canada. Of all age groups, youth and adolescents account for the most prominent percentage of suicide statistics, not a complete shocker due to their exposure to an unbelievable amount of situations that, obvious or not, involve stress. Students pride themselves with their academic achievements, they want to do well. But there comes a point where one begins to question: who drives this want? The answer, in most cases, comes back to the parents. "I just don't want to disappoint [my parents]," a grade 10 student said, " which is why I need really good marks." Parents' expectations of how well their children should perform don't necessarily dictate how well they actually do. However, it often does dictate the severity of pressure put on a child to fulfill those expectations. Aside from the demand from parents, or even teachers, the worst is when students establish high expectations for themselves. The juggling of difficult courses, homework and extra-curriculars, while still studying for tests and exams and dealing with peer and family issues, is far from easy. In a recent survey, 88 percent of 1600 students attending the University of Alberta were overwhelmed by everything they had to do, 57 percent experienced more than average stress and 1.2 percent attempted suicide. The abundance of items on one's daily to-do list can become overwhelming, to the point where mental health issues develop. Many students nowadays are entering university with an existing mental illness. Universities don't make it much easier for high school students, either. A Maclean's article states the average grade of incoming students at Queen's University rose from 86 percent in 2007 to 88 percent in 2011. Similar increases of grade expectations have created a fierce and almost unhealthy competition amongst high school students, where the common goal is to be better than everyone else. An appetite for superior grades leads to excessive time and energy spent studying, ultimately resulting in a lingering presence of stress. With such a bleak job market as well, students are becoming more dependent on high grades and prestigious schools to equip them for their future. On a social aspect, today's society has taught students that fitting in with the crowd is the norm. This common misconception is accepted with open arms by naive and credulous adolescents who are vying for social acceptance. However, it becomes a daily struggle to those who are constantly anxious about fitting in with their peers, when they don't, bullying often follows. Victims of bullying are between two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than those who aren't. Bullying itself takes an extreme physical, mental and emotional toll on victims affected. The purpose of school is to create a positive and beneficial environment, where students strive to perform well, but do so in a manageable manner. The rising number of suicide rates committed due to stress in school is a toxic trend that has raised eyebrows and become a common topic of discussion within communities. Schools and families should do their best to offer more support to student bodies. More importantly, students themselves need to open their eyes and embrace the often forgotten exuberant and exhilarating aspects of life.
On Disagreeing With the 'Solution', Not the Problem
Morgan Vandenberghe of Sarnia was just 14 when she committed suicide this May, joining the list of eight other teens who have committed suicide there in the last year and a half. A similar story comes out of Chatham, where the death of transgender teen Coltyn Mayrand was speculated to be a suicide or, what some are calling, a 'bullycide.' These are just two examples of the dozens of cases of teen suicide across Canada in the last year, and has anyone ever heard these names before? No. Instead the face of this tragedy is B.C.'s Amanda Todd, who killed herself on October 10th. Fast-forward one week. Mr. Gorenkoff has just announced the NT moment of silence to commemorate victims of bullying, since National Bullying Awareness Week is November 12-17. Um, what? Forgetting the fact that NBAW is a month away, how did we get from the suicide of one girl to talking about bullying as a general theme in such a short period of time? Furthermore, why is it that Amanda Todd's suicide, and not, say, Coltyn Mayrand's, prompted this action? Was his suicide not as important? Believe me when I say I'm affected by these suicides, because I am, deeply so. It scares me that I could be sitting in class with someone this close to the brink of suicide and I wish that wasn't the case. I don't object to raising awareness about bullying in general either. What I take issue with is the manner in which we go about that as a society. For argument's sake, let's use the recent incident of Amanda Todd as our example. Just hours after the news of her death broke, dozens of commemorative Facebook pages had sprung up, calling her 'an angel' and 'amazing, strong and beautiful.' People who didn't know her. People who lived on the other side of the world from her. At first glance, this seems like such an outpouring of love and support from a community banded together by this tragic event. However, upon closer examination, these words turn saccharine and hollow. These people have no idea what she was like, and their comments on one of the literally hundreds of 'RIP Amanda Todd' pages do nothing for anyone, except maybe the commenters themselves. This is known as 'slacktivism,' a term used when a person supports a cause in a way that actually does nothing for said cause except make the person (in this case the commenter) feel like they've accomplished something. Over the ensuing week, Todd's face was subsequently plastered all over a variety of newspapers and magazines. This included the cover of Maclean's, which featured yet another vapid 'inside the world of bullying' article, which they run once every year or so, depending on the ever-changing news cycle. Within a very short block of time, the sad occurrence of this girl's suicide had become an impersonal, vague campaign to review how 'far' we've come in terms of stopping bullying (for good this time, apparently). Don't get me wrong here, I'm all for raising awareness about bullying. I believe it's an important issue, and it's one we as teenagers can help minimize. We're just going about it the wrong way. These hazy notions of ridding ourselves of bullying are frankly an insult to those whose stories and memories we're trying to keep alive. This time next week, we'll have moved on to some other issue to yell and stamp our feet about, and bullying will be forgotten until another person with just the right backstory can satiate our thirst for this kind of grim tale. I wish my perspective on this issue wasn't so cynical. It gives me the appearance of being callous, which is not my intention. There needs to be a way for bullying to remain a prominent issue without young people having to commit suicide for that to happen. Having a National Bullying Awareness Week will not stop anything. The time to rally support and raise awareness is over. It's time for us to actually do something now and stop quaking in our boots. It will take the dedication of every single one of us to minimize the effects of bullying, forget erasing it altogether, and I don't know if that is something we are all prepared to do. I certainly am, and so are many others, and I know the mantra 'it takes one person to change the world,' but this is going to take more than one person. More than two people. More than three people. It's going to take all of us. This current tirade against bullying will not last. It's dying down as I'm writing this, and I'll be honest, the main reason I'm writing this piece is because the issue of bullying has reared its head for its seasonal appearance. As sad as it makes me say, by the time Graffiti comes out, I would not be surprised if the response to 'Let's protect the memory of Amanda Todd,' is 'Amanda who?"
The Great Divide *PICTURE*
7 to 23, 15 to 16, and 7 to 24. These are the ratios of boys to girls in my enriched English, Math, and French classes, respectively. As Western society, as a school, as individuals, and even within this newspaper, we view gender inequality as a global phenomenon of girls being pressured away from education. Yet, we ignore the blatant issue staring us in the face: at North Toronto, the high achievers are the girls, with females outnumbering males within the enriched stream by an embarrassingly high number. In fact, this phenomenon isn't isolated to NT alone, over the past years girls have edged above males in university education; today women are ahead of men by about 58% to 42% in university enrolment, with some schools having male rates as low as 30%. I began to ask myself: "Guys aren't less intelligent than girls, so why are there fewer of us in the enriched classes than girls?" Thus began my epic journey of delving down to understand the issues surrounding why there are fewer boys than girls in the enriched stream. My English class has an embarrassingly big difference between males and females, at 7 to 23. But really, what impact could this have? "Discussions in class may be a little more female biased, as well as the views/angles within the discussion being a little more liberal, artsy, and female focused," says David Shin, one of the few other boys in my class. One of the many girls, Heather Kelsall, independently agreed vehemently, "[The gender gap] definitely gives a different atmosphere. Girls can relate to each other, which is reflected in the conversation." Ultimately, why are there even more girls in the class in the first case? The Grade Ten enriched English teacher, Ms. Biondic, poses a very interesting answer to this: "One of the major tasks in English class is to sit and talk about the motivations and internal conflicts of literary characters. Girls have been sitting around in groups thinking and talking about their own feelings and the feelings of others since preschool. Social scientists also report that parents spend more time talking to their female children about feelings, and more time roughhousing with their male children." So, are boys underrepresented in the enriched English classes because of nurture, not nature? The enriched Math class appears to be a bit of an outlier in the gender-divide department. While boys still lag behind girls (but not by much), there is a much different dynamic going on that simply can't be ignored: the population of people 'with Asian heritage' seems to be huge. On the gender divide, Laith Goldie said "In Math, there's only one answer, it's logical. English and French are finicky, boys don't want to look for a plethora of answers." Based on his articulate response, "maybe Laith belongs in the enriched English class too? On the point of ethnic diversity", Kevin Liu responded, "The gender divide is less visible in this class because the males in the class are more hardcore, because they are Asian males." He also claimed, "My parents encourage me to go to a tutor to give me an advantage in school." Without going into the specifics of the racial divide within the Math class (which even I don't want to go too close to), I think it is safe to say that the gender divide is less noticeable in the enriched Math class because parents of a certain ethnicity are pushing the children (regardless of gender) into the direction of Math. Moving back to the arts, the enriched French course is yet another class where I look around and find myself in the gender minority. "Being a boy in this course means getting lower grades than girls, because girls are already really keen in French," said Kieran Wood, a comrade of mine. Isabelle Sanders said something very similar about the gender gap. "For some reason, a majority of boys disregard French as a stupid subject that they will never need in life. They tend to put in minimal effort, and, therefore, get a poor result." I, for one, was going to drop French after grade nine until I was yanked aside by my teacher and persuaded into entering the enriched stream. Ms. Pawlowski has an answer to boys not doing well academically, but who still have motivation for the subject. Above all, she says that it is 'Passion, drive, and willingness to grow in the language' which will convince her to put forward students, these qualities taking precedence over sheer academic success. Just for a little perspective, I asked some non-enriched students about their opinions of boys in the enriched subjects. Maybe peer pressure is stopping boys from going into enriched as well? One non-enriched boy, who for obvious reasons wishes to remain anonymous, said, "If they're in enriched English they're gay, in enriched Math they're Asian, and enriched French either foreign, or gay." Slightly less radical, a non-enriched student, Emma Capern said, "I think boys are intimidated by other boys' opinions, and that girls are turned off by them." Boys, if you're good at a subject, but feel left behind because of how you spent your early childhood, because your parents didn't push you into certain fields, or you simply gave up on a subject early, don't despair. "No one really cares whether you're in enriched classes or not, so there's no need to be embarrassed. Hopefully, people have better things to do than keep up on your academic progress and achievements," says Isabelle Sanders. If you're up for the challenge, enriched courses are only going to make you stronger. The lack of boys in the enriched courses isn't negatively impacting the dynamics of the class, but c'mon boys, your bros are feeling lonely over here.
Nationalizing YouTube: Why the Middle East Needs to Make up Its Mind on How it views Social Media
During the Arab Spring of 2011, the use of social media was truly inspiring. It began with Egyptian broadcasters seizing the radio waves of Cairo after the Mubarak regime attempted to shut down the Internet. Twitter, Facebook, and other sites exploded with calls to action and organizations of protests in the iconic Tahrir Square. Facebook's Mark Zuckerburg even insisted that Facebook begin setting its update times during the +1GMT time zone, so that any bugs associated with the revolution organization could be taken care of. Fast forward to September 11, 2012, the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that provoked the U.S. 'War on Terror'. In a less inspiring embrace of social media, protesters across the Middle East responded to a video posted on YouTube by 'an American'. This video (called 'The Innocence of Muslims') ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed, calling him a sexual deviant and insulting Islam in general. The video was produced by an Egyptian-Christian in California and, through promotion by a fierce anti-Muslim group in the U.S., Arabic-dubbed highlights from the video have been posted on YouTube. Now, what makes the response to the video (particularly the vigorous anti-American slant) so counter-productive? The fact that this video was automatically assumed to be an American geopolitical action. The Middle East was so quick to respond with anti-American hype, with the current head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri calling for yet another holy war on America. In contrast, the actions of Facebook during the Arab Spring through social media was seen as an act of individual bi-partisan kindness, and the leadership shown by a Google Executive from Egypt a true step towards accord between capitalistic America and the Muslim Middle East. But as soon as someone (not even from America), produces a controversial video in California and posts it on a global internet sharing site, YouTube, the whole Arabic world is in an uproar! Protests erupt across the region, culminating in the murder of an American ambassador and three others in the Libyan Embassy. How can the Middle East differentiate between positive international acts (that actually stem from America), and negative acts that only have a daisy-chain connection to the U.S. George Orwell once said, "Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception". By making social media acts on an international stage suddenly very nationalized, you make individual governments responsible for the actions that supposedly represent them online. The masses within the Middle East are only kidding themselves if they believe they can nationalize social media on a large scale; simply branding the Internet as representative of nations is not possible, nor ideologically sound. By seeking to hold hostage the mores of anonymity, and free speech within the Internet, these new societies are turning ever more into the regimes they overthrew. The American legal scholar and political commentator, Alan Dershowitz, said: "Candour and accountability in a democracy is very important. Hypocrisy has no place." The people of the Middle East should seriously ask themselves whether it is truly equitable to capitalize on the benefits of social media (and American support through it) when the movement is for your cause, and yet lash out violently when someone hardly connected to America makes a video that goes against the grain of their ideology. The Internet and social media are tools that have been proven to free people, to overthrow governments, to spread messages, and most recently to incite hypocrisy. To the people of the Middle East: either take a stand for or against the fluidity of the Internet and social media. To use the open-source miracle as a tool for political and religious manoeuvrings is simply self-defeating.
The Power of Youth
A minor is somebody under the age of full legal responsibility. They cannot vote, run for political office or fight in the army, but they can change the world. Hundreds of supporters cheered on Annaleise Carr on 19 August, 2012, as she completed her twenty-seven hour swim across Lake Ontario. She fundraised over $200,000 for Camp Trillium. She was only fourteen. On 28 September 2012, thousands swarmed the Air Canada Centre for a day of guest speaking, performing, and planning. Known as We Day, the day was led by Craig Kielburger, who created Free the Children at the age of twelve. The majority of the guests at the event were youths. On 12 October 2012, Malala Yousufzai of Pakistan was shot by the Taliban after standing up for girls? rights to an education. Malala was fourteen years old. Each day, billions of people in our world are faced with unjust situations. Many of these people are youth. So why are they, who are most vulnerable in our society, sometimes pushed aside? If it doesn't matter what size, shape, or colour you are why should it matter what age you are? Even in an equitable society like Canada's, we use the term minor to define a large proportion of the population. This sends across the message that until you are of age, you do not have any significance in our world; this is absolutely not the case! If there is ever going to be a day on Earth where everyone is happy, healthy and educated, the entire population must be accounted for. People need to learn from a young age that they can do anything that they set their minds to. This is one of the main missions of Free the Children, a charity that raises money to provide schools, clean water, alternative income, and health care to those who don't have it. The majority of the people contributing to the success of this organization are children; the charity recognizes the ability of youth to be the change. The power of youth helping youth is stronger than you'd think. Not only are children and teens united by this common trait, no matter their living standards, but they have a youthful idealism that a change can be made. This was proved to be the case at We Day. With youth on the stage and in the crowd, the air was filled with an excited buzz. After the event, students returned to school with a desire to get planning and have their work pay off. Here at North Toronto, we are a gleaming example of what a young person can do. Having fundraised over fifty thousand dollars last year for charity, our school came together for one of the biggest events of the year. Approximately half of this money was from our meticulously planned, student-run fashion show. Other clubs, such as Graffiti, provide NT students with an opportunity to have their voices heard. There is even a group of student travelling to Ecuador next March to build a school. So next time you see something that you don't agree with, or find something that you are passionate about, don't shy away because you are young; make it an excuse to get involved!
Domestic Abuse Has No Gender Boundaries
Every thirty-seven seconds, a man is abused. Most people think of domestic violence as something that only happens to women and children, but nothing could be further from the truth. Domestic violence affects everyone, including men. Yet you never hear about domestic violence against men. The reality is, most men do not feel comfortable admitting that they are being abused. As a society, we have already taken a huge leap forward by getting some women to speak up about domestic violence, but we still don't think about the men who are in the same regrettable situation. It is estimated that about forty percent of all domestic violence victims are men. However, it is rarely reported; most men are too embarrassed to speak up. People can be skeptical of a man being abused, since, in our society, men are viewed as strong and powerful. Think about it. If you saw a man with a bruise or black eye, you'd think that they got into a fight with another man, while if it were a woman, you would be concerned. Domestic violence goes both ways, a fact that most people don't consider. So why don't we ever think of men as victims of domestic violence? In the first place, it is a huge breakthrough for women who are victims of domestic violence to report their partners. For too long, abuse has been around, but ignored. Our society is more equipped to deal with violence towards women. We have specialists who work with abused women to help them overcome their trauma. Yet we don't have the resources to deal with men in the same situation. We must also remember that domestic abuse can also happen in homosexual relationships. One partner will abuse the other, but the victim won't seek help due to the shame, or they simply can't because of the homophobia that may follow such a report. There is also the physical aspect of abuse: men are usually stronger than women. In other words, men have the ability to hurt others more, even by accident. However, if a woman tries to hurt a man, due to her size and physical strength, it is not likely that she would leave lasting physical marks. However, abusive women tend to use psychological abuse in order to hurt men, like public humiliation or emotional abuse. In abusive relationships, people are often manipulated to limit their contact with friends and family, making them feel lonely, and less likely to feel comfortable with reporting their abuse, as the person's entire life revolves around the abusive partner, and reporting the abusive partner would leave them on their own. Most of the time, people cannot leave the abusive relationship, fearing of what might happen to their children if they do. Most people would not leave their children alone with an abusive partner, not only because of the danger that this poses to the children, but they may also be afraid of never being able to see them again, or that the children may feel abandoned. Some people are also manipulated into thinking that they deserve the abuse they are receiving. They think that it is okay for their partner to be abusing them, and will take the blame for events that were not their fault by rationalizing to themselves that they were the ones in the wrong. Certain people also fear independence, feeling that they could be with anyone else, since they have been with their partner for their entire lives. As well, some men feel that they need the economic or emotional support that their partner brings to them. No matter the reason, everyone who is a victim of domestic violence should be heard, and helped. We have found some ways to help women who are suffering, but we need to find a way to let men speak up as well, to let people know that abuse exists regardless of gender or sex. It must be acknowledged that whether it happens to men or women, domestic abuse is wrong. We should live in a society that understands this, one that does not believe in gender boundaries for violence or abuse. Anyone can be a victim.
It's Wednesday at lunch and I walk into the gym-chic staff room. Ms. Blackmore is smiling, and I get the dish on the cool and calm newbie Gym and Science teacher. She went to Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, her mind reeling to think back. In high school, she was an athlete. I ask her what her favourite high school memory is, and she laughs and thinks for a while. The silence is lengthening before finally she turns and says: "OFSAA. It was the track and field team, and I guess that would be my favorite memory." For my final question, I ask the one we would all like to know: "What is your most embarrassing memory from high school?" She says she once got a nosebleed in science class, everyone was staring at her. But, she managed to overcome the nosebleed incident. Having her as my homeform and gym teacher is amazing and we girls always have fun in gym. It's good to see a person like Ms. Blackmore because she's so dedicated and hardworking No typical girls-go-and-sit-on-the-bleachers nonsense in our gym class. If you see Ms. Blackmore in the halls, just wave and she'll shine a bright smile and wave right back!
Ms. Zagaritis attended Notre Dame Catholic School in Welland, Ontario, which is on the outskirts of Niagara, so she still lives close to her hometown. Her interests in school included the art and environmental clubs. As a part of the art club, she was able to go on a trip to New York, and with environmental club she would go on many nature hikes and outdoors adventures. (Can someone say Outers Club chaperone?) Ms. Zagaratis's high school football team was unreal. Every Friday night, the team would have a game or a rally, and the whole school would attend. Ms. Zagaritis is still close with her high school friends, and her favourite year was grade twelve. She and her grade twelve class graduated at the same time the last grade thirteen class graduated, which meant it was twice as difficult to get into universities. Despite all the competition, Ms. Zagaritis kept her cool and got accepted into Brock for business administration. Considering most of us grads are freaking out as is, I can't imagine how overwhelming that would have been. Now she teaches economics at NT and is my homeform teacher. We are happy to have her!
"I was a little intimidated at first," Ms. Ventura admitted when asked about high school. However, she still managed to enjoy it and make life-long friendships. It is this that she remembers above all else, fondly recalling the people she met and the bonds she made. She was a Jack-of-All-Trades, not only playing the flute in the band, but also playing for her school's volleyball team, as well as soccer outside of school. And she didn't always want to be a teacher, far from it. Originally, she studied information and technology management in university, before realizing that she would enjoy teaching. Not one for desk jobs, and after receiving complements on her teaching in swimming classes, she decided to go into teaching, which is lucky for us, because she's one heck of a good teacher!
Great job, NT! We have successfully made our wonderful history teacher, Ms. Pardo feel comfortable in our school. She has felt welcome and happy since her arrival this year, so we'd better keep up the good work, this is certainly a pattern we should make last. It's easy to see our enthusiasm, and she's felt that our environment is great. Ms. Pardo has enjoyed all of the diverse activities that come with being a part of the NT community, and she feels excited to continue to develop bonds and roles in the school. When she was in high school, this history buff was artistically inclined, being involved in both the music and visual art departments; looks like NT is a good fit for her. She has recognized the school's signature spirit level, which she finds a positive attribute. With her own passion and friendliness, I know we are lucky to have her on our staff, and are as excited as she is to see how the rest of the year unfolds.
You may know him as the teacher who runs home, every day, with a backpack in hand. This self-proclaimed 'knapsack runner' is committed to staying active ever since finishing teacher's college four short years ago. This is Mr. Patterson's third year teaching, previously having worked in Etobicoke and Scarborough. Growing up, especially in his early years at Ancaster High School near Hamilton, he was a little bit of a class clown. However, throughout those adolescent years, he's adamant that he matured. Mr. Patterson is truly an approachable, outgoing guy, just like he was back when he was our age, in 2004. With endless energy and charisma, he is a wonderful addition to NT's English department and we are so happy to have him!
For those of you who don't know him, his name is Mr. Tallevi. One of the new teachers at North Toronto Collegiate Institute. He is a former teacher at PEAC School For Athletes,Humberside C.I. and is our new head of the Phys-Ed Department. Mr. Tallevi is very excited to be part of North Toronto. "I love the spirit, the students, the principal, the fellow staff, and the facilities. They've all been great, everything's a really good fit for me so far, I'm really excited for what's to come," says Mr. Tallevi. When asked what his favourite part of high school(he attended Newtonbrook Secondary)was his face lights up and he says "Sports! That was the best part of high school! I was very involved: baseball, soccer, basketball, ski, all sorts of stuff. Every time there was a game, or playing with my friends at practice, and meeting new people, that was the best part of high school." He then adds, "And that is why I want to give students of NT as many extra-curricular activities as possible. To give NT students the same amount or even more opportunities than I had growing up." Mr. Tallevi is currently coaching the boy's volleyball team and is planning to coach basketball and lacrosse later on this year. And to top off his busy schedule, he is also a science teacher at NT! Having Mr. Tallevi as a science teacher is truly amazing! He has a positive attitude in class every day, making entertaining and creative lessons to make such a boring( science department dkm ) course fun! Whether it be holding competitions on which group can balance skeletal equations the fastest to showing us cheesy educational videos of atoms living in their own world, he makes students excited and willing to go to science class and participate. He also doesn't hesitate to give extra help if he notices a student is struggling with a new concept, arranging time to have one-on-one lesson. Mr. Tallevi is a teacher who passionately cares about the students of North Toronto and is truly an asset to our staff!
Ms. Hill is our newest Special Education teacher at NT. She grew up in Montreal and attended York University after high school. She graduated with a degree in Sociology and taught at Sir Robert L. Borden for ten years. It was a BTI trade school so it had more hands-on programs and many students were not ready for academics. Ms. Hill has always loved the challenges and rewards of teaching children with special needs. She liked Sir Robert L. Borden but loves North Toronto's kids and school spirit! In high school she was rather quiet and shy, but she was on the track and field, soccer, and basketball teams. She will be an amazing addition to the North Toronto staff.
Ms. Arjomand is a fabulous math teacher for many grades at NT. Born in London, Ontario, she attended Sir Frederick Banting high school. She describes her young self as quiet, studious and someone that liked to get involved in volunteering (e.g. raising money for the United Way campaign.) She enjoyed swimming and Indian classic dancing. NT is definitely not Ms. Arjomand's first teaching job. After university, she travelled through many countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, India, and Thailand, teaching in several of them. In her spare time, Ms. Arjomand enjoys swimming, reading, and watching Grey's Anatomy. At the present, Ms. Arjomand is on her maternity leave. We wish her all the best and look forward to seeing her next September!
Ms. Naymark (Vice-Principal)
North Toronto is chock-full of things worth noticing. But if you ask our new vice-principal Ms. Naymark, two of these stood out the most. “The first thing I noticed was the building itself, it’s so airy and clean,” she says, adding, “I also was struck by the friendliness and politeness of the staff and students. They all have such a welcoming nature. I love it here.” When asked about how N.T. shapes up to the other schools she’s been at, Ms. Naymark said that “it’s smaller… a perfect size for a high school. I think by having a smaller school you can interact with [students] more.” Ms. Naymark has worked at Marc Garneau Collegiate, Forest Hill Collegiate and Northern Secondary School, but she was very quick to tell me “both [her] children went to North Toronto.” My final question for Ms. Naymark was about what she was like in high school. “I was in a composite high school, sort of like Northern, but in a [gifted] program. I was the yearbook editor, I was in the band, I was a well-rounded student. (Laughs.) I was a goody-two-shoes.”
Josh, Caretaker Extraordinaire
NT has several new caretakers this year, and one of them is Josh. Josh has worked at Vaughan Road Academy and numerous other schools across the TDSB. When asked as to what his thoughts were on NT, he replied that it was the best school he's been to so far. Let's keep it that way. Josh works the night shift, which means he comes to school when we students aren't there. He comments that it's mostly quiet at night, and not at all creepy. He's been to Egypt and South America, and one of his favourite hobbies was downhill mountain biking until he cracked his collarbone hitting a step in South America. Now he's gone for a safer alternative: playing Assassin's Creed. When asked what he was like in high school, he responded with one word: troublemaker. He adds that he had good grades, but just wasn't intrigued in any subject in particular...sound like anyone familiar to you? He says that his favourite thing about NT is the students; we're respectful and we don't trash the school like some other places he's been to. So let's keep up that image and give Josh a big warm NT welcome!
As one of the quirkiest and friendliest teachers, Mr. Manari was an undoubtedly valuable addition to last year's teaching staff. His remarkable expertise in the English language, alongside his dedication to the LGBQT community, and his good-natured personality, allowed him to appeal to not only staff members, but to his students as well. Within the classroom, he was always understanding of his students and helped them strive to reach their highest potential. Outside the classroom, he was an active member of the school community, taking on the role of staff advisor for both the GSA and debate clubs. It's always difficult for a new teacher to step outside their comfort zone and into the walls of a brand new school. Mr. Manari accomplished this with ease, and although his time at North Toronto was brief, it was invaluable.
Last May, I was shocked by the news that Ms. Pady, our beloved strings teacher, was due to have a baby in October. The shock included a combination of happiness, fear, and being reminded that our teachers do have lives outside of school. October 17th, Red and Grey Day, seemed to be a fitting final day for Ms. Pady as we played the last few chords with her in our orchestra rehearsal. Ms. Pady's dedication to NT extends much further than the classroom. Whether she is advising music council, giving infinite extra help, conducting three extracurricular ensembles, or running the music department, somehow she is always smiling (even during her pregnancy). Mr. McNaughton and Mr. Reed have taken the initiative of teaching her classes for this school year. I must commend Mr. Reed because he must deal with the challenge of teaching such rowdy strings players. In his first class teaching at NT (grade twelve strings) half the class managed to fool him in playing a D minor scale on instruments they don't play. Shout outs to Daniel Hendrickson, a violinist, who tackled the bass! Ms. Pady is one of a kind and we are sad to lose her, but we know we are in excellent hands for the remainder of this year. On behalf of North Toronto I would like to congratulate Ms. Pady and her husband, Mitchell, on this maternal adventure. Congratulation on the birth of Olivia Simone!
Ms. Tam, the first teacher I ever spoke to at North Toronto, my grade nine homeform teacher. Man, I really miss her. I remember my first science class on the first day of my first year at North Toronto in 01TAM. The seating arrangement was based on alphabetical order of last name. As usual, my seat was in the very back of the class, in the corner, an all too familiar place to me considering my last name starts with a 'W.' I raised my hand up and complained that I wasn't able to see the board, which wasn't true, I just didn't like my seat. Ms. Tam saw right through me. 'Suck it up, Devan,' she said. 'This is only temporary until I get to know your names.' She reminded me of my aunt; she never budged an inch. She was one of the stricter teachers I had last year. I remember before the grade nine December science exam, I lost my review package (if any of my current teachers are reading this, this is the only time that this has ever happened, and I am normally a very organized individual), so I asked Ms. Tam if she had any extras. She told me she did, but that she wasn't going to give one to me, the reason being that if I had lost my review package, it wasn't her responsibility to supply me a new one, but mine. At first, I griped about how my other teachers would have just given me a replacement review package without the hassle. But looking back on it, I'm grateful because I can't help but think of how crucial a life lesson that is. In the coming years, if I ever lose an important document that my boss gives me, I will probably be suspended from work or, even worse, fired! You can take things for granted in middle school, but in high school the teachers are preparing you for real life, which is exactly what Ms. Tam was doing in addition to teaching me science. Ms. Tam, I hope you are having fun teaching at your new school but not too much fun. After all, I wouldn't want you having so much fun that you are forgetting us, because I miss you. North Toronto misses you.
It is said that the only thing constant in life is change. This, of course, is natural and to be expected. Things change all the time: seasons, trends, friendships. But what about our school? There has been an increased interest in North Toronto over the past few years. There are markedly more grade nines this year than there were five years ago; the school is almost at capacity. Specifically, it's an increase in students from in-district, as opposed to out-of-district. So, what does this mean for the school? This means more students in classes, busier hallways and more teachers to compensate. But what caused this sudden change? Recently, more and more students from in-district are becoming students at North Toronto, resulting in an increase of overall population, as well as a change in the ratio of students from the North Toronto area. Due to priority of entrance going to in-district students, fewer out-of-area students are accepted. This year and last, even some students applying to NT from feeder schools were rejected, and kids applying from out-of-district didn't even stand a chance. Since more in-district kids mean fewer out-of-district kids, the shift in accepted students leads to a changing demographic. North Toronto used to attract kids from all over Toronto, but with so many in-district students, our school is becoming less diverse. It's not to say that the students now are any better or worse, they're just different. Having many students from the same general place reduces the assortment of people the school will get. When kids all come from one neighborhood, the school loses much of the cultural diversity that students from many different places lend. Of course, there are still some out-of-area kids left, accepted either from feeder schools or from having siblings in the school. However, if this trend goes on, that small percentage of students will decrease with each progressive year. We may have less and less each year, until they wind up as a rare, small minority in the school. There's also the question of what's bringing about this change. It might be purely coincidental, just a fluctuation of the demographics. Could there be, however, specific pull factors making more in-district students want to apply? For example, there's our brand new, swanky school. Might this be encouraging more students to apply? It is nice, everything's brand new, from the furniture, to the auditorium, to, of course, the field. Not to mention that it's LEED certified, has a green roof and improved energy efficiency. Another major plus is the Wi-Fi that's been installed in the school. In this new technological era, Wi-Fi is very important to kids, and a major perk. The squeaky clean school surely is a nice incentive to come, after all, loads of students would love to see everything it has to offer. Another reason might be as simple as the proximity, it is close for in-district students to get to. A grade ten student from the area said that one of the main reasons she came to NT is because it's 'a fast walk.' Though this doesn't explain the increase of in-district students that is happening right now, it is a simple and good reason to come. Or maybe, like so many of us, in-district students have been pulled in by North Toronto's strong academics, music program, reputation for kind students and school spirit. Another in-district student says he/she came to the school precisely because of its good reputation. Whatever the reason, interest in North Toronto has certainly been increasing lately. New school, convenient location and reputation aside, the amount of in-district students is increasing. And as that amount increases, our school will definitely change. Despite whatever changes may come, our school will still remain the amazing North Toronto it always has been because there are things we won't let change: our fantastic focus on extra-curriculars, academics and, of course, school spirit.
Grad Couch Resurrection?
Close your eyes. Actually don't, you won't be able to read this if your eyes are closed. Imagine. Imagine the year 2009. A very few amount of you will be able to remember the layout of the old school, seeing as most of you didn't attend NT there. Let me give you a brief explanation of that strange, old building, where science and math were studied on the first floor (weird, I know), there was a stairway that led to nowhere and the caf was on the second floor. A confused, wide-eyed child wandered through the halls with his gremlin friends looking for a place to eat. The caf was always far too crowded, and I, that child, never had any money to go out for lunch. In the foyer, just underneath the staircase, I stumbled upon something that I had never seen in a school before. It was too good to be true: a mother-flipping couch for me and my pals to sit down on. It was like the school had made it specifically for us! I was overwhelmed with happiness. I called my friends over to check it out, and we cheered, laughed and high-fived in celebration. This was our territory! As we started to enjoy our lunches in our super-awesome new hang out, a young man, perhaps sixteen years old, approached us. I thought he wanted to share the couch with us. "Yo dudes, you can't sit there," he said. It was like he put my heart through a cheese grater. Could this be true? "What?" I asked nervously in my squeaky little grade nine voice. "Yeah, man, you can?t sit there if you?re not in Grade 12," he replied. "That's for the Grads." Feeling defeated, we got up and ate our lunch on some abandoned stairs. I didn't know why this was happening to me, but it was plain, old unfair. Fast forward to the present day. I hold my head high on the second floor, for it is where I reside. I've learned a lot since that day, and I have done much research on what I now know as The Grad Area. I have learned that this is a special area in the school that is dedicated to The Graduates of the current year. I have painstakingly waited for this year. Finally, after years of sadness and oppression, we have our grad area. Wait a minute, no we don't. I present to you a solution, an idea to resolve this awful matter of no Grad Area. I assume by now that most of you know the school quite well. The Show Room is on the second floor, and it overlooks the commons. To me, this is a seemingly perfect area. It is a secluded room that is higher up than everyone else, so we can look over the weaker children, and discuss all of our top secret Grad stuff. There is a catch. The Show Room is strictly for showing off artwork. Students' artwork is showcased in this lovely room so that everyone can see it...except for the fact that no one ever goes in it. Before everyone gets the preconceived notion that I am an art hater, let me say that I am not. I think art is radical. I want to make it so that the art gets properly showcased and everyone can enjoy it! Ever since we were lucky enough to move into the new school, students have been complaining about how grey the walls are. Are you starting to see where I'm going with this? My idea is that we put the artwork around the school so that it can be truly appreciated, which will also make the school less grey. Then the Grads can move in and the Show Room will be the home of the grade twelves. I was privileged enough to speak with 'The Boss' (Mr. Gorenkoff) about this, and although he was enthusiastic about having a Grad Area, the idea of having it in the Show Room is unrealistic. Before you think of ways to get revenge, he made many reasonable and valid points. First off, that is where the Janitors' office is. "It would be too difficult for him to get his work done," Mr. Gorenkoff said, "the same way it would be too difficult to get my work done if there were several kids making noise outside of my office." Secondly, the space is reserved for the Art Council, and Mr. Gorenkoff made a another equally valid point: "We have very limited space in the halls, and the paintings are fragile." Finally, it's just not safe to have a bunch of students in a room without a teacher. "When students are left alone, unfortunate things can happen like vandalism," The Boss said. Do not lose all faith in a Grad Area. As I said before, Mr. Gorenkoff was enthusiastic about the idea; we just have to make a proposal. He suggested putting it where the Grad Couch previously was, in the commons, and I agree with him. I then realized what I had to do. I was lucky enough to talk to the other Boss, Marcus Gottleib, about his point of view on a Grad Area. "The sheer nature of grade twelve involves us being at school and contributing to the school in ways no other grades do," Gottleib said, "and for that, we should be rewarded with merely and area to relax and do work." Wise words from a wise president. He's my boy. Things are starting to look good for the grads, and all the other students that will graduate after us. One key rule is that we keep it together. "If you want a grad area, you need to treat it with respect," Mr. Gorenkoff said. I think I speak on behalf of the students when I say that we would definitely treat a Grad Area with respect!
Red and Grey Day 2012
It's a swarm of red and grey through the doors around 8:00 a.m. at North Toronto. Today was the day we NT kids have been waiting for, for all of September! I walked up the stairs to my homeform class. As I passed the various classrooms, I could already see the competition. I quickly made my way into my room, the famous grade nine girls gym homeform. We all arrived and bustled around like Santa's helpers, decorating what we could and using the tallest people to attach the streamers to the ceilings. When we're done, our room looks like a red and grey volcano exploded! We practiced our dance an innumerable amount of times until the judging finally began. With excited but nervous butterflies in our stomachs, we began our dance for the student council judges. Our dance consisted of the song 'Waka Waka' by Shakira and a colourful and fun Zumba dance that we choreographed. When we finished, we hoped for the best and went to look at our competition. As two of my friends and I walked around the school, we saw many themes. Some themes were 'Alice and Wonderland,' some sort of horror film, art, singing and, of course, there was always the food theme! We hung out for at least twenty minutes before cleaning up and heading up to our first period class, where we only spent about fifteen minutes. After two more classes and lunch came the fun part: the Red and Grey Day assembly! We sang the school song, and student council gave out awards. The winner for grade nine homeform overall experience award: the girls gym homeform (we continued the tradition)! The assembly finished with balloons dropping from the ceiling, thanks to stage crew. The bell rang at 1:30, and the whole school ran out to see the numerous sports being played: senior and junior boys soccer, boys volleyball and senior girls basketball. My friends and I chilled in the hallways, took pictures and had a fun and amazing time. All in all, my first Red and Grey Day was an amazing, crazy, spirit-filled and chaotic day! I loved every part of it and can't wait for next year!
What has been the scariest part of the year so far for you?
Starting off in grade nine at North Toronto, I can't narrow it down to only one scary thing so far this year. One of these scary things was that before classes started in the morning, there was a long pause after the song that had been played, and I thought that the bell was going to ring. I would start sprinting to my next class, and another song would play over the speakers. I was also afraid of being late for class. Another thing that scares me about North Toronto is the pressure to get good grades. Getting a bad grade is my worst nightmare; although, I know now I just have to learn from my mistakes. Lastly, starting off at NT, I felt like a small fish in a big sea. After joining clubs, I feel a sense of community and belonging. Now that I am settled into North Toronto, my friends and teachers are always there to help me. The things that seemed so scary then are not so scary anymore. - Elizabeth Batchelor (Grade Nine Student) Walking into North Toronto for my second year, I held my head high. I was ready for anything. I love this school, the teachers, the facilities, my fellow peers. NT has a very friendly atmosphere, almost like a second home. But the scariest thing so far for me would be joining NT's Junior Football Team. I wanted to join last year in grade nine, but after going to the first informational meeting, I chickened out. The thought of some big, 200 grade tens jumping on me was very intimidating last year. Needless to say, it is still scary this year, but I kicked myself and said, "You know what? I'm joining the football team." And that I did. I am grateful that I did, too. I currently play the position that gets tackled the most: running back. I don't regret trying out for this position either. There's a huge adrenaline rush when the quarterback calls 'Run 68' in the huddle and you know, right then and there, that you are going to get wrecked on the next play. But I got used to the pain after the first week, and now it's a wonderful rush of exhilaration to run like hell with the ball, knowing that 12 defensive players all have a singular goal: tackle you. It creates a sense of community knowing that 11 of my offensive teammates are doing everything they can to block for me and keep me safe. It creates a brotherly bond. It feels good to be a part of a team. I don't regret joining the team one bit. -Devan Wang (Grade Ten Student) I believe I speak for the majority of grade twelve students when I say that the scariest thing is the prospect of our future. We are in our last year of high school and have reached that point where it's time to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives. It is that decision which I am most afraid of. It is time for me, for most of us, to choose a university, a college, a co-op, a job, and essentially decide what we are going to do with our lives. I am afraid that my tendency to come up with a new career choice every couple of months will happen again, not to mention all the added pressure to do well in school now that it is these marks that really count. Up until now (and I know I'm not the only one), I had been coasting through school: meeting the class requirements and doing only what is necessary. Now I have to knuckle down and actually try hard. Take it from me: DO NOT do what I did because you will regret it. And grade elevens, start looking at universities sooner rather than later. Trust me, you'll thank me when later comes. - Carly Stephens (Grade Twelve Student)
Some Assembly Required
When Erik Helldén walked into my families class, my friend immediately turned to me and said “Hey, that’s the new Swedish guy. I gave him a tour and he's really nice.” Excited at the prospect at having a potential new friend, we asked him to sit with us. We all shook hands, formally introduced ourselves, and then began to do work. Waiting for the bell at the end of class, a confused and flustered Erik turned to us and asked, "So, we have to WAIT for the bell?" I couldn't help but laugh at this. Never before had I considered leaving before we were excused. I apologized for my rude outburst and explained that yes, we do have to wait. He told me that in Sweden, you could just leave as soon as the lesson is over. I found this interesting and inquired more about the differences between NT and Sweden. He claimed that standing for the National Anthem is weird. He told me that he had never had to get a late slip before. I was fascinated at the idea that rules and regulations that I don't think twice about here are completely different in other countries. And I inquired into this a little more. When Erik came to school he had many adjustments to face. Not only was the area and school new to him, but so was the language. Imagine having to write your English exam in French, it seems impossible considering it's hard enough writing your French exam in French. In Sweden, he says that watching American TV shows can help him to understand English, but what about expressing himself? “Expressing myself in English can be very difficult at times, especially in the academic area,” he said. When he and I sat down for our families test, he began to worry about writing the thesis paragraph, not because of the level of difficulty, but simple because he had to write it in English. Erik had to make an adjustment that many of us are quite familiar with, and even after three years in high school, it can still be confusing: Timetables. According to Erik, it is completely different in Sweden. We have 5 days instead of 4. You have one class that shares the same timetable as you, and you go class to class with the same group.” Sound familiar? This was the same system for most of our middle schools. Erik is not alone in this situation; it seems that the entire school doesn't know if it is a day one or day three. He says that this system was both good and bad because you get to know people very well, but you don't get to meet many people.” At least now Erik gets to mix things up a bit. It was the difference in school rules that originally caught my attention, and as it turns out, there is a huge difference between Canadian and Swedish high schools. For those of you who took Intro to Anthropology, Sociology and Psychology, you'll know that Scandinavian societies and school systems are extremely individualistic. For example, in Sweden you refer to your teacher by his or her first name. I was mortified when Erik explained this to me. Coming to high school in Canada, Erik's first impression of NT was that it was big and it was just like I imagined high school to be,” he says. “[North American] High school is legendary in Sweden, everybody knows what high school is like, everybody has seen those movies that have high school.” The people here in Canada were a huge surprise to Erik, and he explained that social groups are very different in Sweden. He says, “Canadians are more open and welcoming than Swedes. That was kind of a surprise and shock at first, that everybody was ‘Oh hey! You're from Sweden? Oh, nice to meet you.’ It was easy to talk to people for sure, but making friends was more difficult. You can have a conversation with a guy in Sweden and he becomes your best friend. The whole "friend groups" thing here is a huge difference. In Sweden everyone knows everyone and everyone is a friend with everyone. People don't fight; people don't talk badly about each other, not at my age.” I remember having a conversation with Erik about this, and he playfully decided that he wants to create a club at school where everyone is just friends with each other. I know that's a club I would join! Finally, I was most excited to hear about Erik's favourite thing about NT. It was nice to hear from someone with a fresh view on the school. He says that, the best thing would probably be the school spirit. "You have all the sports teams; in Sweden we have no sports teams. You have the clubs and all that, all of the extra-curriculars, it is completely different.” Imagine going to a school with no sports teams or clubs! I guess the schools that suffered the teachers' withdrawal of services', experienced a school life much like that in Sweden there is so much to do, the school sort of becomes your home here," he pointed out. When I first met Erik, I thought that the only thing I could relate to him on was the fact I could spend all day in IKEA and that the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series takes place in Stockholm. As I learned more about Sweden, I was amazed at the many differences, but was even more surprised at the amount of similarities. If you want to learn more about Swedish culture, have a chat with Erik or his sister Louise. They’re friendly and approachable people, and have a wealth of information. If you ask nicely, they may even teach you how to swear at your friends in Swedish.
For this edition, the Graffiti writers decided to focus on one theme: Gender Equality. What is gender equality? Gender equality is unlike Feminism; the aim is not to assert women's equality to men, or their superiority. According to Google, the definition is: the goal of the equality of the genders or the sexes, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality. Simply put, gender equality means the equal representation of women and men, not implying that men and women are the same, but that the aspirations and needs of men and women are equally valued. The UN regards gender equality as one of 30 Human Rights in the UN Charter. Nevertheless, many men, as well as women, are very much prejudice and think and act as if they are unequal to the opposite gender. Presumptions like "women belong in the kitchen", "men should work, not stay at home to take care of their children" are not only preserving the present state, but also passing the beliefs to the next generation. Whether it is within breast cancer awareness campaigns, the meanings of our names, in Canadian society and even within the feminist movement; sexism and gender-related discrimination are still the norm around the world, especially in countries considered undeveloped. The power to change this is in our own hands. It may be a long process, but gender equality is a gradual change, encouraging economic prosperity and equal access to resources opportunities and protection.
Throughout the decades of its existence, feminism has been met with arduous dissension. Shamed by youth and stigmatised by mainstream media since its humble beginnings, the concept of women's societial disadvantage is still guaranteed to wage on heated debates, with both sides pointing at concrete facts and statistics to illustrate seemingly contradictory points. Yet women still make a startling 75% of their male contemporaries' wages for the performance of equal labour, a statistic that has its roots deep in the concept of feminine dependency. The Western World continues to report as many as 57% of teenagers believing that unconsensual sex occurring within an established relationship should carry no rape stigma and police officers - employed to enforce justice - can still be observed remarking that 'women should avoid dressing like sluts' when asked on his views on the prevention of rape. Male privilege continues to sneak into our lives in forms that are strikingly different to those of the past, yet still potent enough to fuel gender disparity and coercion. If sexism is alive and well, what prompts one to doubt the very foundations of a movement that claims the alleviation of unjust social gaps as its main function? Feminism may desire to overthrow the patriarchy, but the method and disposition it has adopted throughout the ages is deeply problematic. Take, for example, the very idea of feminism as a form of 'sisterhood'. While the idea appears at first benevolent, a compassionate attempt to help the underprivileged female gender, it has proceeded to be twisted into terrifying shapes. Instead of promoting the healthy development of character - which can resonate with people regardless of gender, age or race - claims to sisterhood tell women that they need to be communally bonded with other women on the sole basis of being women. Considering the very attitudes feminism wished to permanently erase, a notion of unity and identification based on something as superficial as gender is a counterintuitive perspective to hold. The concept of empowering women to act through their own agency also appears to have been subdued in favour of group partisanism. Under feminism's pledge of sisterhood, where morals are absolute, women can be expected to lead identical lives, with identical beliefs and occupations. A recent heated debate on abortion and whether it should be accompanied with a stigma perfectly illustrates the point. Albeit a reproductive right, abortion is also a choice and expecting all women to regard the issue as warmly and nonchallantly is anti-individual and, as an extension, anti-progress. Similarly, women who do not, by virtue of their individual personality, pursue professional careers are ostracised and shunned as mentally inferior - an action that, at the end of the day, reduces an entire gender to clones to be modeled after one another in the pursuit of the movement's validation. Essentially, a modern feminist set of morals has come to exist as follows: Dare be openly promiscuous. Pleasing the patriarchy. Dare to put effort in your appearance due to reasons that are sheerly personal? Pleasing the patriarchy. Dare spontaneously show emotion? Poor brainwashed woman, stop pleasing the patriarchy. By being more invested in finding a common formula for all women, we miss the point. Sure, the patriarchy is ongoing and does mandate certain gender roles - but chastising women on the basis of identifying with them, on a basis that could be purely volitious, subverts the very message we should try to disseminate: be free to be yourself. Emulating the very forces behind social injustice through constant scrutiny and questioning of women's motives does nothing but irritate women capable of critical thought and fulfill the format for the subversion of humans' right to think got themselves. The patriarchy is an ongoing problem that erases people of their identity and potential, so feminism owes itself a change of direction. It needs to become a movement that celebrates humans' ability to think and act for themselves, based on what they evaluate to be their self interest while spreading awareness about the systematic imposition of gender roles. The very diversity that underpins members of a gender is the very reason why we must be wary of defining and restricting people on its basis. The time has come to celebrate what makes each person different - and feminism needs to face the challenge.
Canada: a land of diversity and unity, where everybody supposedly gets along. Every citizen has equal rights: the freedom to cast a vote, to obtain an education and to seek medical care. So why is it that 52% of the population is alienated by society? In the past century, Canadian women have seen significant changes in their legal rights, from being recognized as persons, to gaining the ability to vote, run for political office and get a job. The Canadian International Development Agency recognizes that "equality between women and men...includes promoting the equal participation of women and men in making decisions...and reducing the gap between women's and men's access to and control of resources and the benefits of development." This proves that our government has done its part regarding this issue, but has our society? When a female student from NT has reason to state that "[she] would feel less comfortable on the TTC during off-hour periods," the answer seems to be no. Scientists state that there is a difference between males and females, and most females don't deny this, but this gap shouldn't change how a woman is treated in her country-especially one that boasts of its equality. Now, one person or group of people who dislike of equality between men and women do not cause the whole issue of sexism. These are the cases that most commonly reach the media, however, even though it is usually unintentional, nearly every Canadian (including women) is subconsciously sexist. So why is this the case in today's equitable society? The bottom line is that this issue is a part of our history as the human race and cannot be changed. In fact, it is a part of our history that was adopted by several cultures across the globe; women were meant to cook, clean, and reproduce. They could easily die during childbirth and their 'occupations' did not require an education, putting women behind the men yet again. Sales manager Veronica Wong told Reader's Digest in September that returning from maternity leave, she had lost her position as well as her pay. She understood that, "it was a small company and things shift...but things need to be an even keel to what it was before." Her boss later told her that "you chose to have a family and not a career." This reveals the idea that women must choose between having a family and pursuing a career and proves that although change has come, to this day, women in Canada are taken advantage of and put down, not by the law, but by their fellow citizens. In the majority of cases, this is a subconscious result of our history but there is no denying that if we all put a little effort into it, we could put an end to this issue. So instead of letting this chapter of our history keep going, Canadians must remember that every citizen has something to offer and must not only be accepted by the law but by society and to all women, embrace the fact that you are different!
Gender Inequality in Education
You only need to look at the pervasive ads in the subway to see it; gender inequality in education is a major problem in developing countries. When women are educated, they are independent, and when they are independent, they can spend their own money, which contributes to economic growth. Yet, educating women isn't as easy as convincing communities to allow them into schools. At a recent lecture at U of T's Munk School, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) brought in two women who worked in East Africa and Afghanistan, respectively. These women told of a diverse range of issues associated with the problem. Dr. Jane Rarieya is a professor at the AKF's University in Nairobi, Kenya. She studies what factors keep the female high school graduation rate behind the male rate by 61%. Often, in rural locations, schools lie in the epicenter of population distributions; this means that a significant percentage of students live a long, long way from school. It wasn't unusual to find students walking over 2 hours each way, and girls were often forced to return home to cook for the family and simply couldn't make it back to school. The solutions she proposed? Without increasing the number of schools in an area, the Kenyan government is trying to increase road quality, and global NGO's are distributing bicycles to make travel times shorter. Due to a lack of widespread medical supplies and hygiene, teenage girls are often forced to stay home during menstruation; this causes them to miss school lessons and eventually fall behind in school and fall out. This is currently being tackled by the public health sector of the AKF and other NGOs. In rural tribal culture, girls are seen as caregivers to elders, and are often pressured to stay home from school to care for family members; this is heightened by a startlingly high infection rate of HIV/AIDS in East Africa. These two issues promise to be problems that may prove to be increasingly hard to solve. Ms. Jennifer Blinkhorn is the Educational Director for the Aga Khan's Afghanistan division. She revealed that the main hindrance to female education is actually the financial independence of their mothers. In Afghan society, girls are seen as the responsibility of their mother, and if mothers don't have enough money to send their daughters to school, it won't happen. The AKF has begun setting up local banks for women where they can take out small business loans, the goal being to grow their own businesses and become financially independent enough to pay for the education of their daughters. However, these girls won't be able to attend school if Afghanistan's underlying issues of labour force and resource infrastructure aren't addressed. Without an organized labour force, the physical building of schools takes years and years to complete. On a larger scale, the Afghani education system simply doesn't have the tools it needs to grow; it is hard to find writers of textbooks, and often even harder to distribute them. Additionally, the teaching profession requires a university education to get into, yet pays very little; those in Afghanistan with access to university find it hard to turn to this unprofitable career. What I gathered most from the interesting perspectives of Dr. Rarieya and Ms. Blinkhorn was that the issue of gender equality in education, and the growth of education in general in developing countries, are multi-faceted. There is a diverse range of issues keeping girls from being educated, and it is only by curing the peripheral problems, like improving roads in Kenya or being able to print textbooks in Afghanistan, that this issue can be fully tackled. Curing the gender gap in education in developing countries can't just be seen as trying to shift the historically misogynistic views of the country simply for the sake of human rights. The whole country prospers when women are educated, and by the time the peripheral issues that keep girls out of school are solved, the country will be a much healthier, accessible, and economically developed place.
I (don't) Love Boobies
Love them or hate them, there is not doubt that cancer awareness campaigns are extremely popular. While the ambition to combat the disease is admirable, certain campaigns have been using reprehensible tactics to spread their message. "I Love Boobies" or "I love Breasts" awareness movements for breast cancer are not only sexist; they are reliant on cheap shock and therefore completely undermine the core message of the campaign. While not the only breast cancer campaign to trivialize women, it is one of the worst. Breast cancer above all other cancers receives the most attention, largely due to the stigma around female breasts. Instead of simply the tissue that they are, women's breasts are seen as sexual objects, this speaks to the overall sexualizing of women in popular culture. Campaigns like these promote the harmful shaming of female breasts, and diminish the significance of the disease. The message from these campaigns disconnects the women (and men) who suffer from this disease and reduces them to, literally, a pair of breasts. We do not fight breast cancer because we like boobs; we fight breast cancer because we love the people who have it. It's a shameful attempt to provoke a reaction, which instead of gaining awareness for breast cancer research, gains attention for the supporters of the cause. These campaigns rely on sexualizing the disease, purely to scandalize and titillate. In nearly every aspect of daily life, women are already objectified, with these new campaigns; the gravity of the disease and its victims is diminished for sheer amusement. The prevalence of female trivialization in the media is ridiculous enough, but sexualizing of the disease is disgustingly sexist and offensive that all in all does more hurt than harm. These campaigns do not only hurt women, they ignore and diminish the male victims of the disease. It is an egregiously damaging and only furthers the astonishingly common misconception that women are the sole victims of the disease. Nearly 200 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada, and over 25% die as a result. Supporting only women shunts these men into obscurity and further perpetuates the harmful idea that breast cancer is a female issue. Instead of supporting all victims of the cancer, the 'I Love Boobies' campaign's shoddy message doesn't even properly raise awareness for the disease. The entire campaign's reliance on shock spreads more awareness about itself than it's actual message. It tells people to support breasts, not breast cancer. It tells us to love boobs, not the people with them and as Randall Munroe, author of the web comic XKCD, points out " it suggests that women are worth saving because they're attached to breasts, rather than the other way around. But worse, it tells any woman who's had a mastectomy to try to save her life that she's lost the thing that made people care about her survival. What a punch in the stomach.". These campaigns are utterly reprehensible in their tactics, touting a bright bracelet declaring that you love breasts does nothing to help the real victims of breast cancer; rather, it perpetuates the objectification of women, separates the issue from the people and it ignores the men who suffer from the disease. With it's sexist slogans and titillating tactics, the 'I Love Boobies' campaign is a message that is cheaper than the rubber bracelets it is emblazoned on.
In western culture, it is widely accepted that every person's name has a meaning attached. Whether your parents chose your name out of tradition or taste, there is without fail, certain traits or historical significance that are attributed. However, if we agree that our names have a specific implication, we have to remember that those implications may be contrived out of prejudice. Traditionally masculine names can come with meanings that are aligned with traditional masculine stereotypes, just as conventionally feminine names can come with conventional feminine labels. The stereotypes in our names reveal the biased beliefs from an older era; they show us what we value more in men and women and above all else, they reveal the prevalence of prejudice unnoticed, right under our noses. I used the website thinkbabynames.com, as it allows users to search for names based on meaning. I then asked Yahoo Answers users what they would define as stereotypical masculine traits and feminine traits. For males, they said qualities such as 'bravery', 'strength' and 'leadership' and for females they said 'beautiful', 'sweet', and 'delicate like flowers'. From their answers, I searched for the amount of baby names for girls and boys. The results were, unfortunately, just what I had expected. Names associated with things like courage, heroism and leadership had significantly more results for males, and names associated with attractiveness and kindness had notably more female names. This reveals deep-seated typecasts, and the length to which stereotypes have permeated our society is astonishing. Although they may not be obvious they are definitely something to think about. It is not an issue that affects us daily, however, that does not mean it is less important. The only way to combat harmful labels is to be aware of the effect they have on every aspect of our lives, to challenge them and educate ourselves on their image
I spent a month of my summer as a Counselor-in-Training at my camp, Sparrow Lake. It's a rustic camp, where attendees are prone to not showering for extended periods of time, frequent poison ivy exposure, and having the best camp experience ever. So, while not entirely unexpected, it was with great surprise that we discovered a family of skunks living alongside the campers. I'd been walking along Cabin Row, a long dirt road where all of the cabins with campers are, when I heard some shuffling around one of the younger girl's cabins. I took a couple steps closer to investigate, but stopped dead in my tracks when I saw three, maybe four tiny skunks nosing around the door of the cabin. I called one of my friends over, and we watched them from a safe distance. Finally, he turned to me and said, shocked, "Those aren't skunks! Those are honey badgers!" It was true. The skunks never sought out any fights, and only ever raised their tails if threatened. They mostly just hung around and scared unsuspecting campers, much to everyone's relief. One night, we had just finished bedtime with my cabin, which held the youngest girls, only six to ten years old. They'd been asking us to make up a story for them, but instead we basically told them the story of the Grinch, but set in our camp. That sure worked out well, they were all on the verge of tears. Hoping to comfort them, we assured them that the monster was very nice, and was really just lonely. Then we sent them off to bed. Two of the girls needed to go to the washroom, so off I went with them, since they were too frightened of the monster to go by themselves as they normally would. We got there as usual, and were almost back when I heard a rustle in the underbrush nearby. The girls hadn't noticed it, but I sure had, and my mind immediately raced to the skunks. No no, I thought to myself. It's probably just a chipmunk or something, recalling that I'd been wondering about how much noise one of those things can make just earlier that day. No such luck. Out of the bushes sprang two baby skunks, heading straight for us. The girls turned around and saw these skunks racing full-tilt towards them, and they began to giggle, nervously. Then the giggles turned into little yells. In a matter of seconds, the yells turned to blood-curdling screams. Inexplicably, they began to run, not away from the skunks, but right towards them. Oh, my God, I remember thinking. The camp does not have enough tomato juice to give us all baths. We don't even HAVE baths! But, they're so cute! I grabbed both the girls in a big bear hug to stop them from running right into the darn things, and said, somewhat wondrously, "Girls! Stop it! Shush! Be quiet! Shush! Look at them! Just look! They're so cute! They won't hurt us! They're so cute!" Luckily, the skunks were on a mission of some sort and didn't pay attention to my campers, but they couldn't have scampered more than two feet from where we were standing. As nervous as I was at the time, I'll never forget the strange grace of the skunks as they tore past us in that forest. I'll never forget the looks of pride on my campers' faces as they retold the story to the entire cabin, again and again. However, more than anything, I'll never forget the sweet relief of knowing that I survived an encounter with baby skunks, sans odor.
You Think your Camping Trip was Bad?
When my mom first suggested that over the summer I go on a hiking trip with Outward Bound to complete the adventure component of the Duke of Edinburgh, I thought to myself, it'll just be two days and a night. It won't be so bad, right? Wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for the nightmare that was my hiking trip. It all started on a sunny day during the prep course. We learned about emergency procedures, did fun activities and got our outline for our quickly approaching mock hike and real hike. It all seemed fine, fun even, until our mock hike began the next day. The day started out with high spirits as we began our ten km walk, only half the distance of the real hike the next day. We were going to eat lunch, set up tents and stoves in preparation for our real hike, and return. We chatted and told jokes and riddles, barely noticing our hike, except for the blazing hot sun, and continued on almost effortlessly. That is until we arrived and ate our lunches, after which everything spiraled out of control, beginning with the weather. Clouds suddenly blocked out the boiling hot sun, which was a huge relief for about five seconds, until the rain began. It came down lightly at first, then harder and heavier, until we were trapped in a huge thunderstorm. We were immediately told to get into lightning procedure, as the lightning was only five hundred meters away. We sat that way for nearly two hours. My feet were in tremendous pain, as we had to crouch on our bags the entire time. Everyone was drenched head to toe, myself included, despite my rain jacket. After those agonizing two hours, we returned home in silence, slipping and falling into huge puddles of mud and dirt. We ended up stopping at least four more times for lightning drills. As we approached the end of our disastrous 'prep hike,' everyone was on the brink of tears because of our cold, sopping bodies and wrecked spirits. To top it all off, we discovered that our final hill had turned into one streaming, slippery pile of mud. As we tore through the hill, everyone attempted, in vain, to grab onto sharp vines to avoid falling. And me? I thought about how this was merely preparation for tomorrow's overnight hike. The next day, I came for my real hike with only a tiny, last bit of hope. It was shattered the second I realized that I was going to be the only girl on this hike. Coincidentally, this was the only hike that was almost all boys. My day continued in a tight downward spiral as our instructors informed us that we weren't allowed to bring any cell phones or any extra clothing. They insisted that this was going to be an authentic hike without any hygiene or distractions, which I was most definitely not okay with. Our hike started off with a ten km walk to our camping group, which was surprisingly less painful than the day before, but still physically exhausting. Once we got to our camp ground and set up our tents, which I had no clue how to do, all that was left was cooking our meal. I was actually looking forward to this; on the menu was mac n' cheese, a camping specialty. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when instead of a box of KD, our instructor pulled out dried noodles and cheese. I was utterly disgusted, but had such low expectations of the trip that it wasn't hard to shack it off. The day dragged into night. We got ready for bed and had our instructor tell a ghost story, which ended up being particularly disturbing. The night was just as painful as the day. I twisted and turned while the guys in the other tents were tackling each other until two in the morning. Why? I have no idea. The next day was almost identical to the first. We walked, ate, walked, drank and walked some more. By the time I got home, I was so dead tired that I almost collapsed on the sidewalk to my house. After, showering two times that night and working hard to repress all those bad memories, I was finally back to normal. As bad as the trip was, the worst part was when my friends came back from camp complaining about how bad their camping trips were. They complained of delicious days filled with s'mores and fun nights with friends. Oh well. Next time, I guess I'll have to take them along with me to show them what a real camping trip is like.
It's not something I do everyday. Sometimes I'm in a happy mood, and when I see a bus half-filled with people crowded near the front, I just step back from the bus and wait for the next one. Other times, however, when I am raging because of an unsatisfactory test mark, or when I'm just simply running late, I try to politely squeeze into the already jam-packed crowd on the lower bus level. Yet today was a different story. Today, not only was I raging, but I was also running late. After waiting at the bus stop for what seemed like half-an-hour, a bus half-jam-packed with people finally pulled up at the stop. All of the people on the bus were in their own world, petting their dogs or reading the morning newspaper. As per usual, there were people at the back of the bus who were sitting on the seats, but there was still a large, gaping hole on the upper level where passengers could stand. Feeling that there was too much injustice in the world already, and fearing the consequences of my tardiness, I desperately squeezed myself onto the bus, trying as hard as I could to fit myself and my backpack on there so that I was behind the white line (located right behind the driver, for safety purposes). But with much surprise from my part, the driver shook his head and said to me, "Sorry, you have to be completely behind the line, miss. You'll have to get off the bus." All I could do was stare at him in disbelief and point to the empty upper area of the bus, with my mouth wide open. Soon enough, I started to hear some groans from the passengers behind me who were clearly annoyed that the bus had not moved in the last 30 seconds. Thus, in desperation and with a slight impulse, I shouted to the other passengers on the bus: "Could you guys please move back a bit?" However, to my dismay, about one third of the people were listening to their IPods or MP3 players and remained ignorant of my plea, while the other two thirds did not budge at all. I even thought I heard some people snicker, but that could've been my imagination. Luckily for me, the driver gave up trying to get me completely behind the white line and decided to drive off to avoid complaints from his other passengers. The next morning, when a similar situation presented itself, I decided to wait for the next bus. This is a situation that many Torontonians find themselves in. Every time I take the bus, I ask myself why people are so reluctant to move to the very back of the vehicle. I've come up with two hypotheses: Firstly, it may not be convenient for passengers to reach the back door if they are at the very back of a bus. After all, if people would rather take the elevator one floor up instead of walking a single flight of stairs, then it's reasonable to conclude that going down 2 steps of stairs to exit from the back door or going up 2 steps to the upper level of the bus is inconvenient and just too demanding. Of course, the prospect of having a seat overcomes that fear of inconvenience, which is why people would still go to the back of the bus to sit down. Then there's the potential hypothesis of human isolation. Think about it: it's like being trapped in a dead end! There is only one way to go, which is toward the front the bus, unlike if one was at the front or the middle of the bus, where there's an exit on either side. For whatever reason, it's important to recognize that it's human nature. There's nothing, really, that can be done to persuade people to go against their natural, protective instincts inherited ever since the beginning of mankind. Thus, I suggest some potential solutions: either engineers design better buses, or, we wait for the next bus.
Dear Marija, I'm new to North Toronto this year, and I'm having a really hard time finding my way around. I've been late many times just because I wasn't able to figure out which classroom I'm in, and I even walked into the wrong classroom once! Please help. -Unfashionably Late Dear Unfashionably Late, Since you're new to North Toronto this year, don't sweat it. There are lots of new people at NT going through the same thing you are (especially the ninth graders). I remember that on my second day at NT, I walked into the wrong class too, and I didn't even notice for the whole period! If you really are having a problem getting on time to all of your classes, I would suggest that you tape your schedule in your locker and when you come back from lunch, you just open your locker and take a look at what day it is. Or you could put the schedule as the first page in your binder and carry it with you, so that you can instantly see what classes you have that day. Confused about what day it is? Write down all days in a cycle for the whole month in your agenda ahead of time, so that when you're confused, you can just take out your agenda and simply flip to the calendar. If what I mentioned above doesn't work, then you might want to consider changing your morning routine. Maybe you don't get up early enough? Maybe you take too long getting ready for school? Or maybe you just don't leave early enough. Not an early riser? Set an alarm clock to help you get up in the morning. That way, getting up at 7:00 am will be a breeze. Don't be late,
Avenging our Avengers
The Avengers was released in theatres on May 4th, 2012, yet I only took the opportunity to watch it over the Thanksgiving long weekend. I don't know how many of you have seen this incredible movie, but if you're looking for something action-packed and full of excitement, I highly recommend you watch The Avengers. What struck me the most was watching Natalia Romanova (played by actress Scarlett Johansson) battle with five other male super heroes. It caught my attention that each member of the Avengers that was male had an original, individual talent or super power that gave them a huge advantage when fighting their enemies. Tony Stark/Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.) is a self-described genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist who invents his own, personal suit of armor in preparation for conflict. Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans) is destined to fight for his country, and allows scientists to experiment with his body. His transformation ends up being more beneficial than planned. Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo) turns into a ferocious monster, and can't control his will to kill once someone or something pisses him off. Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) is the crown prince of Asgard, and relies on his weapon, which only responds to his call. Clint Barton/Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner) is highly skilled in Artery and can take down almost anyone with his bow and arrow. Then there is Natalia, who doesn't have any of those special abilities, yet can kill just about anyone who steps into her path. Natalia has very extensive espionage training that's put into good use when she's confronting her enemies. She knows how to defend herself and act quickly when her team needs help. I admire Natalia Romanova for not just being the only woman on the Avengers, but also because she exemplifies that you don't need to have a super power to be a hero. After watching The Avengers, I realized that bravery, determination and having a passionate reason to fight are the basic qualities that define a hero. Without any super powers at all, Natalia uses her own knowledge and actions to defeat Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) and his army. Her character made me acknowledge all the great heroes out there who are defending our safety without any magical powers at all. Those that come to mind are firefighters, soldiers, police, doctors; the list goes on and on. Scarlett Johansson did a magnificent job portraying the character of Natalia Romanova. In addition to that, it was this particular character that was the reason I remembered all those true heroes in our world that deserve to be recognized. Thank you, to all our heroes.
Confessions of a Radical Feminist
In the 1930s and 40s, in reaction to colonialism, depression, war, and genocide, many people looked to Socialism as an escape from the failures of European society. By the 1950s, as evidence of famines, gulags, and purges could no longer be ignored, those people's faith in socialism was shaken. Feminism was my socialism. Elsewhere on this page, Ms. Grondin identifies with Feminism as opposed to Radical Feminism, but we are a generation apart. I'm a product of the campus life of the 1980s; I was enthralled by Radical Feminism and its prophets were my heroes. So what is Radical Feminism? There are many answers and I don't want to force a definition on the term, but I'll say what it represented to me. Radical Feminism was a rejection of the aim of bringing gender equality to an environment that accepts the inequality of race and class. A woman's ambition to be the CEO of a corporation that was steeped in hierarchy and exploitation was not seen as a worthy goal. The feminism of the 1970s that fought for women's equality in education and the professions was seen as middle-class self-interest. As long as low wages, a lack of free daycare, class and race discrimination, and many other factors made it difficult or even impossible for poor women (and poor men) to have equal access, this could not be called equality. Outside the economic sphere, Radical Feminism was a rejection of all the personal, sexual, and social expectations that were inflicted on individuals based on their gender. At its most extreme, it was a complete denial of biology, allowing each person to choose their path without physical or cultural limitations. It was a call for absolute freedom. Radical Feminists were not going to just improve the world, they were going to transform it, and I was keenly awaiting the transformation. And then we got older. Careers, families, fatigue, and human nature got in the way. It turned out that successful women were just as likely to get caught up in materialism and competition as were successful men. Biology made a triumphant comeback in determining many people's choices. And I found myself teaching the children of the affluent and discovered that I was very comfortable and happy doing so. Still, Radical Feminism was far from a failure. It gave a necessary kick in the pants to the mainstream Feminist movement and that movement became more self-critical and inclusive. Today I recognize the LGBTQ movement as the child of Radical Feminism, demanding the same radical freedoms and understanding that freedom for some will mean freedom for all. That's a heavy burden to carry and I don't know if this movement will change society or simply settle for equal rights, but, hey, I need a hero.
GRAD PRANK: Where dem jokers at?
I remember way back when, when I was a minor niner and there was a grad prank. I was not prepared whatsoever. I had heard some things about grad prank from my older sister and her friends but one thing that was always kept hush-hush was when it was, no one knew, except for the grads of course. I got to school and saw water guns and water/flour balloons being thrown at innocent students. I was a lucky victim as I only got sprayed with water when others were covered in flour for the rest of the day which is just plain old unfortunate. Ever since then, for some strange reason, there hasn't really been a grad prank. When I was in grade 10 and 11 there was either a failed attempt at a grad prank or they were just too lazy to do one. C'mon guys! Personally, I love grad pranks, they're hilarious and unexpected. I know it's hard to organize one with such a large group of people with so many different opinions but at least try! This year's grad prank is going to be epic. Some of the proposed ideas are a bit iffy but I have a good feeling. Hopefully it will be so awesome that it will go viral and be the top viewed video on YouTube! That's a lil farfetched but a girl can dream. To all you NT staff and students, watch out! Grad prank will come when you least expect it.
Mitt Romney and Women
By the time this issue of Graffiti is in your hands, the U.S. Presidential election will be over. Some of you may be celebrating, others despairing over the result. If Barack Obama is re-elected, none of you will have to worry about what I am about to reveal, and can celebrate that Mitt Romney isn't the President. However, if the tide is turned, and Willard Mitt Romney now holds the reins of the most powerful nation in the world, understand that he holds dangerous positions on the issues of women's rights, ramifications of which could resonate both in the U.S. and abroad. Mitt Romney holds opinions that simply work against women's rights and equality in society that have been achieved over the past hundred years. Right off the bat in his campaign, Mitt Romney vowed to repeal Roe v. Wade, a pivotal case in the United States that led to the widespread legalization of abortion. The result of Roe v. Wade is even credited with lowering the U.S. crime rate by giving mothers in disadvantaged communities the option to not have to raise a child if they felt they couldn't. He even vocalized that he 'would be delighted to sign a federal ban on all abortions.' How can this man even begin to appeal to the mass of female voters who have used abortion to avoid unwanted pregnancies and their fallouts? The issue of repealing abortion isn't about the morals of the act itself; it brings into question the very right of government to control what women choose to do with their bodies. Even more radical, Mitt Romney has taken a firm stance against birth control in general. He is an advocate of giving individual states the right to outlaw birth control. This would make condoms, birth control pills, and other contraceptive tools illegal. Just a reminder that all of this is coming from a devout Mormon man that married his high school sweetheart, has five sons, and who has, in all likelihood never actually used birth control. Did I mention that this man also wears magic underpants? Yes, Romney wears magic underpants, an item of clothing prescribed by the Mormon Church, and known as 'Temple Garments' (a quick Google search will reveal all). The aesthetics of these 'magic underpants' are quite special; a ruffled shirt that meets a closely fitted groin cup. These Temple Garments may be a form of contraception in themselves. Perhaps more far-reaching, Romney has vowed to get rid of Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides free birth control to women who couldn't otherwise access it. "Planned Parenthood. I'd get rid of that", he repeated over the course of his campaign, even choosing a running mate (Paul Ryan) whose budget proposal cuts off all funding to this organization. Planned Parenthood not only provides critical access to abortions and birth control to underprivileged women that need it most, but it also provides free screenings for female cancers. Not only would Romney be limiting women's reproductive rights, but he would be putting their very safety at risk. When asked what women seeking an abortion would do without Planned Parenthood, he replied, "Well they can go wherever they'd like to go. This is a free society." Romney is referring to the days where women unable to get an abortion had to seek out illegal clinics that often posed serious health threats. These are women like the friend of the Romney family, who in the 1960s bled out after an illegal abortion. Taking a step back from the localized issue within the U.S., you have to question what impact Romney's policies will have on the world. The U.S.'s foreign policy is Wilsonian, meaning that it aims to act as an example to the rest of the world, and crusade for its beliefs abroad. The rest of the world views the U.S. as an example to be followed, and if its leader is a dinosaur who will put the reproductive rights and overall health of women on the chopping block, you have to ask yourself: should this man be disqualified as President?
The Other 'F' Word?
Every year in December, here at NT, the grade 12 English students embark on what is one of my favourite units in the course. We consider aspects of race/culture, social class, sexual orientation and gender, and how they affect the ways in which we read and write. Although I really enjoy this unit as a whole, there is always one topic that sparks more controversy, more debate, and for me, more disappointment than any other lesson that I teach. It's the day we discuss feminism. I have come across very few students in my time teaching (and not just at NT, other schools as well) who willingly, proudly, claim the label of feminist. Let me be clear, I am an unequivocal feminist. I believe in the concept of female equality wholeheartedly, and I bet if you asked almost all NT students, they would say they believed the same. So why are so many so reluctant to identify with the term itself? Is feminism a dirty word? In my experience the resistance to the term feminism is grounded in the following three complaints: feminism is no longer necessary, it promotes inequality and women who claim to be feminist are overly aggressive and therefore unattractive. Feminism is still entirely necessary. Recent Statistics Canada data shows; the gender wage gap in Ontario is 28% for full-time, full-year workers. This means that for every $1.00 earned by a male worker, a female worker earns 71 cents. Pay equity legislation was introduced in 1977. 35 years later and we still can't bridge that last 29 cents. It is a sad statement on our society when your sex dictates your earning potential. Feminism is also needed when you consider the statistics on violence against women: "half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16" (www.canadianwomen.org). Both women and men (and yes men can most certainly be feminists) need to work against this staggering statistic. By saying that this isn't right, you are saying that women are valuable and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and in doing so you are upholding positive feminist values. If you are comfortable with this, why not be comfortable with the label? Finally, the number of women running Fortune 500 corporations or holding major political office is slowly growing, but in 145 years, Canada has had only one female prime minister. For the record, there are currently 38 cabinet members in the Harper government, nine of these are women. If women make up half of the population of this country, why are they not filling half of the seats of power in this country either around the boardroom table or in the cabinet office? This is a complicated question and changing the situation is not a simple thing to do, which is why we need feminists to ask these difficult questions and champion thoughtful, fair solutions. If all of the feminists in our country decided their job was done, washed their hands and walked away, Canadian women would be paid less, hit more and silenced from positions of power. Feminism is not about encouraging women at the expense of men. Everyone benefits from a society that is inclusive and equitable. Think of a woman who is close to you: your Mom or sister, or a close friend or partner and the kind of life that you would wish for her. Is it one of opportunity and self-fulfillment, or would you prefer that this person spend her time isolated by limited social expectations, beaten down by a lack of opportunity, and demoralized by a failure to reach her potential? How can someone be a good mother, friend, or partner if she is not able to find satisfaction and validation in her day to day life? Feminism argues that one's sex is irrelevant to the profession she pursues. The logical extension of this is that just as a woman can be a construction worker, physicist or judge, a man can also be a kindergarten teacher, nurse or cashier. Feminism means a greater range of opportunity for everyone. Finally, my sense is that the biggest resistance to the label of feminism is because of negative associations people have with this term. Feminists aren't pretty, they can't take a joke, they are aggressive, and they hate men. These are not the kind of qualities that get you invited to the party, or asked out on a date, which is why some may want to distance themselves from the term. Historically, there have been factions of the feminist movement that were very radical, but to suggest that all women who claim to be feminist want to 'smash the patriarchy' is the same as suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists. The radical actions of a few should not taint what is an otherwise valid and important ideological position. Your generation can be leaders in reviving a positive definition of feminism. Be proud that you believe in gender equality, that you recognize that there are problems in our society, but that you believe that they can be fixed and improved. Be proud that you and the women in your life have many more opportunities than generations before you and be proud that you can work to ensure that this progress continues. Be proud to be a feminist.
Reality vs Expectation
Summer was over, and the dreaded first day was finally here. Everyone knows that summer vacation is only two months, but it seems like forever - until you get to the end. Walking through the halls of NT for the first time was intimidating, to say the least. Most of my friends said that they were excited for the first day of school, but I knew that deep down inside, I, at least, was a little scared. We've all seen high school on TV and in movies; we all have our own idea of what a high school looks like. For me, it was loads and loads of homework, constant all-nighters, cliques and strict teachers. No matter what you thought it was like, most grade nine students go into high school thinking it's a totally new experience. A few weeks into high school, I started seeing the truth. High school wasn't really that different from elementary school at all: the homework wasn't as bad as I thought, I didn't need to stay up if I planned my time well, and the people and teachers were all welcoming. I realized that I was too focused on my own expectations to see the reality. Now that I finally feel comfortable, and can walk to my classes without stumbling around the entire school, I realize that high school is really just a bigger version of elementary school. Personally, the biggest change was my schedule, mainly during lunch and in the morning. I have to wake up at seven a.m. two to three times per week, and I miss lunch even more often; but I do enjoy being busy more often than not. Sure, all that doesn't mean that I've never rushed to do homework at the last minute, complain the entire day about how tired I am (sorry guys), or headed to David's Tea for some much needed caffeine. High school does bring on some changes, but they're all pretty essential for growing up. Overall, it's a pretty amazing experience; everyone should just enjoy it to the fullest.
The Canoe Trip
This summer, like other summers past, I went on a canoe trip with my camp. This year, it was time for me to tackle the twelve-day trip. A twelve-day is the longest trip that you can do as a camper, and something that many Kandalore kids always look forward to. My trip was on the Coulonge River. It is located in southern Quebec and is about 270km long. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was excellent, aside from one day of torrential rain (it wouldn't be a real trip without one), and the experience was unforgettable. We can't forget, however, how sunburned my friends and I were at the end of every day, how many mosquito bites we had, how funny our water tasted, how painful it was to carry canoes on our back, how a lot of our food was pumped full of 'unknown substances' to keep it from going bad (what wasn't got moldier than anything you've ever seen after about 5 days). We were severely overfed, woke up freezing in the middle of the night, every night, and some of my friends were throwing up due to dehydration. Not to mention the lovely experience of going to the washroom in the woods. For some reason though, it was all worth it. Being on trip reminds us how little we need. Something about not seeing a single screen for over a week makes one feel so refreshed that showering doesn't seem necessary. This is how people used to live; there were no motorboats, or jets, just canoes, and lots of rivers. We, as teenagers in the twenty-first century, at least had food that could last the length of trip (anyone who has been on a canoe trip should be familiar with those mouthwatering bricks of oily cheese), and chemicals that purify our water for us. Not to mention waterproof clothes, canvas tents that protect us from rain, and sunscreen to prevent us from burning, partially. The fact is, we should all learn about the past in some way. A canoe trip is a great way to bring you back to the time before computers, Internet, and even cars, really. Especially in Canada, the canoe, being a great Canadian invention, is something that First Nations People used as a major method of transportation. Tripping teaches us to tough it out. You're hungry, but we can't eat lunch until the end of this portage. You're tired, but the next campsite isn't for another five kilometres. You're sick, but we have one hundred kilometres to go and only four days left. We put up with this for the rewards we get. At the end of a long day, wake up at six, eat breakfast, canoe for seven hours, a few eight hundred metre portages, pitch tents, collect fire and cook, there's nothing like sinking your teeth into a nice (canned) chicken teriyaki, or tuna melt, or any other food that tastes good to someone who hasn't eaten for hours and lasts for weeks on end. There's nothing like swimming in the river, and rubbing sand through your hair to give you some kind of illusion of cleanliness. Or playing endless euchre games in your tent, and of course roasting marshmallows under the unreal night sky. There's nothing like watching the sunrise and set over the river, or running that awesome set of category three whitewater rapids. You'll never forget sitting in that waterfall, the water rushing past your brown shirt, almost making it white again. That, 'I Did It', feeling you got at the end of your 1.6 km portage, or when you find a freshwater spring, and get your first sip of truly clean, cold water in days. And finally, you'll never forget the friendships you made (with guys that you will keep in touch with forever, even though one lives in Quebec, another in Vancouver, and a third in Barcelona) after endless hours of just talking, joking, and of course singing, as the river passes you by. So, go on a canoe trip while you still can. Experience the twenty-two pounds of peanut butter that you and your friends are expected to finish by the end of the trip, and the huge amounts of dried fruit that you eat because it's the only source of fiber that will last. See the countless stars at night, and sit around the campfire singing. Let the craziest kid on the trip make dinner one night, just to see what he does, and go swimming in a set of rapids. Do yoga on the beach at five in the morning as the sun rises, or find that rock with an awesome view of the river, and just unwind as you watch the sunset. It will change your life forever.
The Guide for the Highschool Feminist
At this point, feminism is still a dirty word. For most, a feminist still conjures up the image of an angry man-hating womyn who refuses to shave. By many accounts, I am that angry feminist. I shave when I feel like it and I don't hate men (just the ones who cat-call and belittle womyn). Five years ago, I was a North Toronto student just like yourselves; I played rugby, I directed fashion show, and I even sometimes went to class. It was in Mr. Nicolet's Human Geo. Homeform that I announced that I hoped to be a stay-at-home housewife. To that, one of my well intentioned pseudo-feminist classmates replied, " Just a housewife!? You're setting the feminist movement back like twenty years." I remember thinking - that can't be right, did feminism mean I couldn't do what I wanted with my own life? Turns out I was right. What every girl needs to know is that there aren't any rules of feminism, but if there were one, single goal it lies in the word choice. Fifty years ago it was the choice to work. Today, feminists like myself are fighting for different choices, more complex choices. The choice and the right to make decisions about our health care, birth control, and sexuality. The choice to wear what we want, when we want and not be harassed, shamed, or sexually assaulted. Globally, womyn are fighting for the choice to attend schools. Students are fighting for the right to affordable, accessible education for all. I choose to write womyn with a 'Y' in order to separate my female identity from the word man and the inherent patriarchy involved in English as a language. With all that I understand now, I want to leave with some helpful hints on modern day feminism(s). 1. Check your privilege North Toronto is an exceptional high school and all of you work hard to contribute to your communities. Charity Week and initiatives like it are awesome and they are vital to life at NTCI, but it's important to understand that it comes from a place of privilege. Checking your privilege does not equate to making yourself feel guilty - guilt serves no one. However, in every moment we must all understand that privilege is not automatic; it comes at the expense of others (usually a person who falls within one or multiple of the intersections I mentioned above.) Most of us can acknowledge the privilege of living in Canada, but to say that ignores the reality of Canada's indigenous people who have not reaped the same benefits that we have. This brings me to point number two. 2. Acknowledge that we live, work, go to school and OCCUPIED native land. Everything we have, all that's been built here is stolen. Where you sit now is the land of the Mississauga of New Credit people. I realize the process of colonialism can not be undone but what we can do is work to decolonize our minds now. This land has been stolen and the people who it belongs to recognize that it was borrowed. That means we must respect the earth and all of our environments. Understand that they're not ours to use but ours to maintain and preserve. 3. There is no one definition feminism. A person asked me, do you think feminism existed before the word? In hearing it I knew unequivocally the answer was yes. Womyn have radically worked to improve their lives and the lives of their families for generations. There have been three waves of feminism. The first went along with suffrage, the right to vote, but in actual fact the right of white, upper middle class womyn to vote. The second was a slightly more progressive wave of feminism (still, almost entirely white middle class) where womyn were fighting for community improvement. With this, though, also came a number of horrific social experiments, residential schools, twilight birth, and eugenics (Google it, you'll find it). Finally, most scholars believe we now sit in a third wave of feminism, with markers like the pro-choice movement and equal pay for equal work. In almost every example, many are left out. In my inability to even flesh out these waves, a person without the privilege of a formal post-secondary education may find themselves boxed out of the "all inclusive" feminisms. The s is added to acknowledge that for each of us the quest for radical equality looks different and that for some us access into the "movement" isn't guaranteed. For many, feminism is the strength of a community advocating for needs. When feminism is only a part of academic life and does not acknowledge the lived experiences of people, it fails to work. 4. You get to go home from days of action. As I said before, it is important to take to the streets, to get angry, to speak out and to organize in the face of injustice. Although, remember and be mindful that while you can yell and scream about whatever injustice you see, at the end of the day - you go home. You may experience emotions and triggers, but you are not living it day in and day out. The best way to support those who aren't is to check your privilege and understand that for them there is no end of the protest. Every moment is a protest; every moment is a fight for survival. Remember to stand beside but not to shout louder than those who are living the oppressions, otherwise you are contributing further to the silencing of those voices. 5. Start looking inside. Allyship and solidarity are important, but they also say "my community is fine let me help yours." That is condescending and it removes the onus on you to create meaningful change. Instead of looking for what's wrong outside of Canada, Toronto, and North Toronto, ask how you contribute to systems of power and privilege. 6. Get informed. It's not the responsibility of oppressed people to educate you on why this world is made with road blocks. Ask people how THEY wish to be treated, and treat them that way. There are a thousand and one books, feminist blogs, memes, twitter feeds, zine's etc. If you are willing to learn how to make this world inclusive, there is no shortage of resources for how to do so. 7. Sex without consent is sexual assault. I wrestled with including this in this guide, but I chose to because it is the single most important part of the work feminists in our age group must tackle. It is NEVER a womyn's fault if she is raped. Women are taught to wear certain clothes, not to walk in certain areas at night, walk in groups, and carry mace. We don't hear, 'Hey, boys if you're out at night and you feel like raping someone make sure you have a buddy around to stop you?. The rule is NO means no and yes means yes, anything else is not clear consent. Ask questions, have conversations, and make sure that consent is always present. Also, be clear that you have the right to take consent away at any time. Agreeing to make-out is not agreeing to sex or anything else; you have the right to make those decisions. 8. Respect the Autonomy of bodies. Every body is different. Every person is entitled to agency and control over their bodies. This is tied to consent as consent extends further than just sex. Ask people how they want to be interacted with, and respect that they may not need or want your help. Too often we examine the needs of others from our vantage point of privilege. The best way to curb that nasty habit is to ask questions. 9. THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE. There is no one way a feminist looks. I identify as queer, and as High femme. My femme-ness and the way I explore my femininity is not in opposition to feminist movements. Feminists can be men. Feminists can be Trans Men and Womyn, Feminists can be straight. Feminists can shop at Aritizia, feminists can enjoy making sandwiches. It all comes back to choice. 10. Acknowledge information as a gift. This analogy was passed on to me by a Delaware womyn working on issues of Native youth and sexual health. When you receive a gift you do not say you created it. You share it and give thanks for it. This is where I would like to acknowledge that all the thoughts I have expressed here have not existed in a vacuum of my intelligence. I'd like to thank and acknowledge Kim Crosby and Krysta Williams of The People project and the Native youth sexual health network. I'd also like to thank my Mother and grandmother for the gifts of knowledge and ideology that is inherently a part of all that I create. In school you are taught early about the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen and all the privilege involved in being a Canadian citizen. You are taught we are free because we have the right to protest. What we aren't told, but what is more important, is that it is your unequivocal responsibility to protest. To become critical of your parents, your educators, your media and your government. You need to ask, who created this and for what purpose? Then, most importantly, you must examine the critical intersections of race, gender, class, disability, sexuality etc. Think about what results from the multiple oppressions that occur when these identities collide. Consider that instead of looking for the peace and comfort of our similarities, we have more to gain by relishing our differences.
Thinking for Yourself: An Ode To The "Underachiever"
Forget what anyone has told you: being a teenager is hard. Amidst the endless university applications, overbearing extra-curriculars, and peer-mandated pressure to excel academically, enjoyment can be an alien concept. Friend groups resort to discussing grades more than they jeer or joke. Awards are compounded into a currency of achievement. After all, when success adopts a definition so incontrovertibly clear-cut, it is hard to not be insecure about your place in the world. Few take time off their packed schedules to really question the underlying motive in what they are doing - filling up their seconds with events that will look impressive on their resume, albeit of little significance to their actual interests - and that can be dangerous. Cue 2012: in an unabashed attempt to generate panic, the media has seemingly convinced everyone that a) competition is fierce, b) competition is too fierce for friendship, and c) success in competition must be valued above all personal ideals. So it appears that it does not matter what your talents are; if you have not cultivated them to a university degree-level by age fifteen, you can kiss leadership in your desired field goodbye. Yet, this "all or nothing" mentality is a very poor representation of the real world, one that is defined by people, rather than having preset ideals and standards, the very people who decide to give up their passion, for a cheap breed of "success". Essentially, the real world is so malleable that you are doing more harm than good by blindly following its trends. In a world that progresses faster than ever before, it can be hard to stay true to yourself, yet without the passion and drive that esoteric knowledge requires, pushing through frontiers becomes impossible. Simply stated, to change your surroundings, you must first change your own perception of them. Giving up predispositions on how your learning should be shaped is the first step to opening your eyes, and subsequently, your horizons.
The voice of NT Grads
Eve Kracier and Sarah Ratzlaff
Oh my god. Wait. You graduated from high school? YOU MUST BE LIKE THE FIRST PERSON EVER. Whoa and wait. You're getting a post-secondary education? Get out of town!!! But for real, are you moving out? Oh my god. We should totally write about that. They should put that in Graffiti. We definitely need more than one article considering that no one else has ever done this before. Count it- go on. How many articles in Graffiti are there about grads? It happens every year. Every graduating class act as if they are the first group of people that has ever made it out of North Toronto alive. Kind of like how the baby boomers act as if they are the first generation to age. Every year, the pages of Graffiti are plastered with endless articles about grads: grad couch, grad scholarships, grad trip, grad prank, grad sweaters, university, prom, promposals, and fashion show. The self-indulgence never ends. Is there really that much more going on for grads than there are for the other students of the school? We don't even make up a quarter of the student body. In reality, we should be writing about the grade elevens; since there seems to be one thousand of them. While this is an important year, we've pretty much gotten the hang of it. We've spent the past three years reading all these grad articles and now, we spend all of our time living them. When we think about it, grade nine and ten were some of our most formative years, when we needed the most guidance. However, junior activity never seems to stand under quite as bright a light as senior activity. While there is some merit to senior seniority, we cannot expect to be treated as if we are the only students who attend the school. "Did you see that niner walk in front of me? EXCUSE ME?!" Only two of the student council members are not grads. Almost all club head- including a huge portion of the editorial board for Graffiti- are club heads. We tots dominate. While that can be fun, it ain't so fun when you AREN'T in your last year of high school, which, funnily enough, most of the high school experience is- 3 whole years of it! So let's give them lil buggers a chance grads- we've all been there.
Why School Makes Me Skip
Hey Mr. Wolf! What time is it Mr. Wolf? "It is 8:56 you North Toronto student". Oh phewf...two minutes to get to class, I have time to walk up the cold, desolate stairs to get up to the cold fourth floor hallway, and into the cold fourth floor math room. And apparently hot air rises? Hah! Physics, please explain that to me. Oh Albert, you wanker! Disaster strikes. 'Gangnam Style' recedes into its final beats and the bell sounds-two minutes before 9:00! The bounce in my step swiftly withdraws and a scream of agony escapes my lips. Embarrassed, I try to pass it off as a burp. I consider my options. I can either, A: go get a late slip and come out with whiplash, or B: go to Tims, have a coffee, and a leisurely work hour. I'm really torn, but I go to Tim Horton's. I feel as though I must address a problem that has, in recent years, swept through NT like the Bubonic Plague: we have become terrified of the North Toronto office. I am often late, he's usually late, and they're always late. Of course, I don't negate the value of being punctual, but it is clear as we 'office avoiders' increase in number that the current system of penalization has dire consequences. The intimidating office-staff continually scare late students, with tainted records, out of attending classes. The ultimate winner of the 'late award' is presented to hypothetical student Marjorie, who is no longer with us. Don't fear my friends, dearest Marjorie is not dead; it would seem that she is unclear on the time at which classes take place. Thus, we do not see her around often, but she is there to represent the struggle of the standard late group. The only thing that Marjorie is consistent at is her general inconsistency. Her past 'skips' validate her fear of the office. This fear leads her to skip again in order to avoid the office. If she should be late to class, by a few minutes, too bad! She is forced to skip the day to avoid the slip and regulative record check which shall always haunt her. The whole point of the 'calling home policy' is to keep our parents informed on our whereabouts during school hours. Obviously, it is hoped that if a student's truancy is known to their parents, and thus a pristine record will follow. Conversely, I find myself more scared of the office than of my own parents. This discrepancy encourages me to skip as I personally receive no real penalty at home. At the end of it all, a legitimate fear of the irrational office has caused us to forsake a fundamental part of education. To quote everyone's favourite Lord Chancellor of England, Sir Francis Bacon, 'Knowledge is power.' So NT, take the reins and leave the whiplash on this one, and let's rid ourselves of an unnecessary reason to skip class.
Writing Assignments the Night Before They Are Due: A Timeline
As loath as we are to admit it, we've all done this before. You get an assignment two weeks before its due date and it quickly finds its way to the bottom of your to-do list, where it remains for a couple of days. Then a week. Then a week and a half. And before you know it, your polished paper is due tomorrow and you don't even have a topic. If you're anything like me, your evening then goes a little something like the following. Hour 1:Preparing for battle Armed with your pen, paper, computer, and, most importantly, your tea/coffee/Red Bull, sit down and begin to browse online for a topic. You can do this. You're a juggernaut of unlimited energy (as long as you can maintain a high level of caffeine.) Hour 2:Getting in the zone Huzzah! You have a topic. Not only that, but it's a topic you're finding mildly interesting, so bonus points there. Almost giddy with zeal, you open your word processor of choice and begin to type your introduction. You're nearly done your introduction when you realize something terrible. Make that two things, actually. Number one, you need more tea/coffee/Red Bull. Number two, your teacher expects rough notes or an outline of some kind. Put a pause on your paper as you skulk downstairs for more of your energizing beverage. Hour 3: Back to work After your quest to the kitchen, you headed back upstairs and, YIKES! You got sidetracked. Scold yourself for a while and waste even more time. Once you're finished, chug your tea/coffee/Red Bull and finish your outline and rough notes. Hour 4: Deep in the trenches You can't do this. Why did you think you could pull this asinine stunt off? You're only halfway through your first supporting paragraph, and the evening is not getting any younger. Your vision is swimming through the murky sludge your world has become and you find yourself typing the occasional word in another language. You're toast if things continue like this. Hour 5: The frenzy Suddenly, it hits. You feel yourself zap wide awake. Your brain is in overdrive. You're like a well-oiled machine, only better. The empty cups of tea/coffee or cans of Red Bull form a fort around your workspace, but who cares? You're working! In the last twenty minutes, you've written the better part of your paper. Sure, it may not all make sense, but you've still got time to proofread. This energy's going to last you forever, right? Hour 6?: :eaving the warzone You did it. You successfully completed your paper. Dizzy with exhaustion, you read your masterpiece over to ensure it's all at least in the same language. After staggering to the printer, you throw your completed work on the desk, and tumble into bed. Sleep has never felt more well-deserved.
Next time you say "I don't have time to join a team, a club, have a relationship or go to your friend's birthday, then you can ask fellow NTer Andrea Delgado, or 'Dre' as she is called by friends and teammates, how she manages to be in three different sports teams and two major events such as Fashion Show and Yearbook, while still achieving high grades. The 'work hard, play hard' mindset that has been inscribed in our minds since day one at North Toronto perfectly suits Andrea. Being involved in Field Hockey in the fall, Co-ed Volleyball in the winter and her favourite and main sport, Soccer, in the spring is such a small sample of her 'dredication' for her love for sports. Just to give you an example of her commitment and time management, a typical day for her is having an early morning soccer practice at 10 degrees, having a chemistry and calculus test during the day, and then taking pictures for Fashion Show and Graffiti. On how she manages her time, 'Dre' comments, "it wears [me] down a lot because it is a lot of work but it's easy if you are motivated because it's not a chore that you have to do, you just simply have take it one day at the time in order to tackle everything." Furthermore, Andrea explained that her love for sports started in Grade 3, when she joined the soccer team coached by the father of her childhood friend and fellow NTer, Fair Goodman. After just two years of playing soccer, her talent didn't go unnoticed as she got scouted for the Islington Rangers rep team, which quickly became 'her second family and an outlet to forget all the worries in her life.' After a lot of hard work and tackles, Dre got selected for the Toronto District Team and played in a regional showcase tournament in what is her favourite sports memory outside of school. Meanwhile, her favourite moment at North Toronto C.I. was making the A Team for Field Hockey in her second year of playing, especially when it was a completely new sport for her and there are three different tiers of teams. To cap off the first student-athlete profile of the year, Andrea leaves a great piece of advice for everyone: "Don't be one of those kids who just comes to school and that's it because in the future, the fondest memories are the ones that you make with your teammates in games, practices and road trips"".
To be a great quarterback, a player has to be a leader on and off the field, has to be dedicated as well as endure many hardships and hits before achieving ultimate success. The above description is exactly what fellow Grade Twelve NTer, Keith Peltier, embodies. Although Keith has been sidelined for 3 weeks due to a concussion, he hasn't missed a single practice or game. While he could easily be in his house taking a nap or playing Xbox, Keith doesn't use the injury as an excuse and shows the team that he is still a leader off the field and that the team is his family, and it comes before anything else. Staying everyday afterschool until 6 pm watching his teammates practice while he is watching from the sidelines has been hard for Keith, but as with any sport, injuries are just a part of an athlete. Just ask Peyton Manning, who missed the entire 2011-2012 season due to a neck injury. Keith's dad fueled his son's burning passion for sports when he got him a pair of skates when he was very little. After quickly picking up the art of skating, Keith would play hockey for hours on end with his older brothers and friends. Furthermore, in the summer, Keith would play golf and nowadays plays everyday of the summer, which explains why he is the captain of the North Toronto C.I. Golf team. It was while playing for hockey for his team, the AA North York Knights, that in October of 2011 he got hit in the head three times in the same game and was diagnosed with a concussion that would affect his whole life in a huge way. He couldn't play sports for months and struggled to stay focused in class. He commented that after being cleared to play, he played "very attentively and most people would ask [him] if [he] was fine or 100% now." He also said, "Your body feels as if you are [fine], but you are not. My dad told me that he could see the difference in my level of playing while I thought I was playing at the same level just shortly before my concussion." Outside of the nagging problems in the athletic side of life, Keith suggests that the "TDSB should give students more time to do assignments and teachers should be more free to help out students outside of the class hours as concussed students simply can't get it during class." He also added ,"You simply can't understand how hard it is until you get a concussion." After weeks of training in order to work his way back to get all his strength and feeling for the ball, as well as going to physiotherapy twice a week, Keith is finally ready to complete his dream of "making the game-winning touchdown to clinch the City's banner" for the school.
2012-2013 NBA Pre-Season Predictions
Edison Liu, Gustavo Velarde and George Vulovic
As we sports fans know, it is impossible to predict a season. That's the beauty of sports at the end of the day; it's a live movie with an unpredictable script full of twists and turns that keep us at the edge of our seats. However, it's always fun to throw some names around and see if any of us actually hit the jackpot. Without further ado, these are the predictions for the upcoming 2012-2013 NBA season brought to you by NT's Insider panel: The Champion Edison Liu: The Miami Heat over the Los Angeles Lakers in 6. The Miami Heat bolstered their all-star roster even more with the addition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. If their big 3 stays healthy, no one poses as a threat to them in their journey to a repeat. Gustavo Velarde: The Los Angeles Lakers in six versus the Boston Celtics. 'Wow, how?' Dwayne Wade will miss around 30% of the regular season and Rondo's growth, alongside the acquisition of heat-killer Jason Terry, might just edge it out. On the other hand, the Lakers would have beaten OKC had they not made such defensive blunders at the end of the games, and then they added the best center league in Dwight Howard and the 2x MVP Steve Nash in the offseason; need I say more? George Vulovic: The Miami Heat in six versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. Miami has undoubtedly gotten better by adding two of the NBA's best sharpshooters in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. The Thunder will beat the Lakers in the conference finals because they have the best interior defense tandem with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Howard averages 16 points per game on 51% against Perkins in 24 head-to-head games. Two Sleeper Teams Edison Liu: The Golden State Warriors. With a healthy Curry and Bogut as their core, plus a solid supporting cast of David Lee, Klay Thompson, and Jarrett Jack, the Warriors make a strong case for the 8th playoff spot in the West. Another team poised for a sleeper run is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving's solid rookie campaign earned him comparisons to LeBron James's rookie season. If Irving can keep improving his game and stay away from injuries, the Cavs are due to make a lot of noise in the East. Gustavo Velarde: The New Orleans Hornets and the Washington Wizards. The Hornets winded up with the highly touted center Anthony Davis and added the three-point specialist Ryan Anderson. Meanwhile in the east, John Wall, who will look to make a statement to fellow Washington heroes Bryce Harper and RG3 that HE is Washington's shiniest star, will lead the Wizards to a playoff berth. George Vulovic: The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. General Manager Masai Ujiri has made the Nuggets into the deepest team in the NBA. The Nuggets can challenge for a top three spot in the west. The offseason signings Roy and the emergence of Nikola Pekovic should finally get the Timberwolves into the playoffs. Ricky Rubio will come back with plenty of time left in the season and will help Kevin Love lead the team into the playoffs. Most Valuable Player Edison Liu: Kevin Durant. Fresh off the gold medal in London and leading the Olympics in scoring, I look for Durant to have the best season in his young career. Gustavo Velarde: Kevin Durant. The 24 year-old forward enjoyed his most complete season in 2012, but was once again outshined by LBJ. After seeing his nemesis win his first ring and establish himself as the undoubted best player in the world, KD will be hungrier than ever to take that title off his hands. George Vulovic: LeBron James. Coming off an incredible year in which he won Olympic gold, an NBA ring, and MVP, there is no reason to believe he can't do it again. Rookie of the Year Edison Liu: Anthony Davis. He made the USA national team at age 19, he has incredible length and athleticism, he is a top tier defender, and he has a great feel for the game. It is hard to see anyone else in this year's draft beating him for Rookie of the Year honors. Gustavo Velarde: Anthony Davis. When a 19-year-old center already earns a spot on the USA Olympic team without playing a single minute in the NBA, it is hard to argue against him. George Vulovic: Damian Lillard. He is the most NBA ready rookie and his game has the explosiveness that resembles that of a Derrick Rose, on top of that, he also has a solid jump shot. Davis might turn out a better player however Lillard seems more NBA ready at this moment. Most Improved Player Edison Liu: Josh Smith. No one denies this guy's talent, but he has never proved himself to be a leader. Now with Joe Johnson traded to Brooklyn, he has to step up and carry the load for his team. Gustavo Velarde: Andrea Bargniani. After a summer where the Italian big man decided to add 15 pounds of muscle and not play for his home country, the primo pasta lover looks ready to rebound back from an injury-plagued season. George Vulovic: Klay Thompson. Thompson is a pure scorer and with Monta Ellis gone, it allows him to get the starting gig. Thompson averaged a respectable 12.5 points last season. But, as a starter he averaged 18 points and should continue to grow. Biggest Bust Edison Liu: Jeremy Lin. He took the world by storm last year and earned himself a big paycheck with the Rockets. But we easily forget that he has never started more than 25 games in a season and we can only hope his body can even take the pressure of an 82 game season. Gustavo Velarde: Austin Rivers. Rivers is neither a pure point guard nor a dominant shooting guard; he is more like a Randy Foye than he is an O.J. Mayo. There will undeniably be a learning curve for Rivers at the next level, as he will likely struggle to find his identity on the court. George Vulovic: Bismack Biyombo. He has the potential to be a strong shot blocker and a similar player to Ben Wallace. However, he offers minimal offence and gets in foul trouble regularly.
Red and grey Day: Fockey
Nelly Doushabchi and Emily Maghen
Red and Grey Day. The single most important day in our school year. The day our spirit is massively celebrated and our ?Tradition of Excellence? truly shines. The tradition of Football being the main feature on Red and Grey Day started about one hundred years ago. This also happens to take place around the same time women were still aspiring to become nurses and wives and had the role of cheering the football game on from the sidelines ... or the kitchen. The tradition was created on the belief that men are better than women, in every way, so there was no other option at the time but to have good old, manly and aggressive guys play football on this day. Fortunately, our society and our school have changed over the past century, but one thing has remained constant and that is the idea that Football is superior to other sports at NT. Tradition should be based on the things that a new society, and a new school could never shake, and that?s school spirit. Spirit is what Red and Grey Day is all about and it?s definitely not about watching the football team lose against Northern, year after year. They started finding other schools to play with on that day just so they would have a better chance at winning .... Enough said. We all know the Red and Grey Day football games aren?t always promising, but we always watch from the sidelines to show our unconditional support. Our sportsmanship does not even stop there. Throughout our four years at NT, we have gotten used to early morning practices on the end zones, and cutting our league games short just so the football team can practice on the field. We are talking about practice, not a game. Even though we have a disadvantage in practice, girl?s field hockey is still one of the most successful teams in our school's history with countless city championships, not to mention an undefeated season this year plus a regional banner. Our biggest supporter says, ?We?re a badass team, and we?re not a bunch of wimps prancing around with equipment from head to toe.? Eight teams play their sport in the fall, and not one person has ever questioned why Football is always given priority above everyone else. On another note, the field hockey team and other field sports have made these selfless sacrifices to support the football team. We make these sacrifices because we have pride. Not always in our football team, but pride in our school. No wonder the football team wants to play on Red and Grey Day. It must be such an amazing feeling to be cheered on and supported by the entire school, which is an opportunity that?s never been handed to any other team. When the chance to play field hockey this year on Red and Grey Day was offered to us, we weren?t given the same support that we have given them year after year. It?s not a surprise that some girls on the field hockey team opposed the idea of playing, when a Facebook poll made it clear that the majority of the student body did not support us. Every sport should be treated equally. Why should we put one sport above the others, if we all work and play just as hard? How can anyone possibly want to play a game in which all her fellow classmates are mad at the team for ?ruining Red and Grey Day? even before the game has started? If the football team thinks that their team playing is what keeps the spirit of Red and Grey Day alive, then they have been seriously misinformed. Playing on Red and Grey Day is a privilege, not a right, that should be earned. The field hockey team has earned the privilege to play on Red and Grey Day this year. We stand by other teams and embody the real values of North Toronto, that keeps the spirit of NT alive. Football plays for their team, but Field Hockey plays for North Toronto Collegiate Institute.
Red and Grey Day: Football
On my first day of high school I fell in love with football. I had gone out for the team, and thought about playing every second of every day. One night I came home from practice and was commanded by my lovable (yet strict) father, Mr. Gorenkoff, to pay attention to his disciplinary speech that would take place the following day. In it, he stated that at NT, we have a ?Tradition of Excellence?; excellence that is carried through the staff, students and walls of our beloved school. This excellence and pride in our school was evident as we kept with tradition and celebrated Red and Grey Day during October of my grade nine year. Knowing that we would be the main attraction was truly something special. During that game, while we were all pumped up, our coaches turned to all of us juniors and said, ?In a couple of years, it?ll be your turn.? Now, this isn?t just our wildest hopes and dreams to play on NT?s ?Field of Fame?, but a promise from our coaches. We were promised that when we ascended to the ranks of the senior team, we would play on the biggest spirit day of the year. [Insert smack across the face, here.] Not going to happen. Other than forcing our coaches to go back on their word, it has also been a tradition at NT to watch the Senior Football Team play on RAG day. I would like to put a serious amount of emphasis on the word tradition here. If tradition is as important to our school as we have been told since we began at NT, then why are we turning our backs on it? Trust me, I?m all for allowing other teams to have the chance to play in front of a cheering crowd, but Red and Grey Day truly belongs to Football. If you want a crowd for your team, ask the BAA or GAA to help you arrange a buyout. Oh, and I forgot to mention: the vast majority of the alumni want to watch football as well. A group of alumni have already voiced their disappointment that football won?t be center stage on Red and Grey Day. Why? Because they love tradition just as much as I do. Not only is watching the Senior Football Team play on Red and Grey Day a tradition, but football is also exciting to watch. I can safely say that there is a large percentage of the 1300 students at North Toronto that would rather watch football than field hockey. I?m not attempting to sell the field hockey teams at NT short, as I truly believe that the boys and girls that play are true athletes, but they can?t deny that their sport is? well, boring! I watched five minutes of a field hockey game last year and immediately had to go home and have a nap. Letting Field Hockey play RAG day wouldn?t pump up our fellow students; it would just put them to sleep. Have I also failed to mention that several of the girls on said field hockey teams don?t even want to play on Red and Grey Day? Well, these girls (who shall remain nameless) realized that they would bore the rest of the school with their sport and make Red and Grey Day a disaster. Now, not only would their sport be famous for nap-inducing, but also infamous for ruining the coolest day of the school year. That?s not something anyone wants on her head. As much as I try to support the teams that will play in our stead, a boy can only take so much. To my fellow students: I hope that you all can find enjoyment in this year?s Red and Grey Day. I know I?ll find enjoyment in going home at 12 o?clock. I?d also like to apologize to the Grade 12 students who won?t live to participate in another true Red and Grey Day. I truly feel your pain. To all that planned this year?s Red and Grey Day: I?d like to leave you with the wise words of NFL Quarterback Peyton Manning: ?Pressure is something you feel when you don?t know what the hell you?re doing.? I hope you?re all feeling some pressure, because none of you know what the hell you?re doing. Enjoy the views of our backsides when we walk out the doors early on the 17th.
Why Football is King
What?s the big deal with football? It?s just like any other sport that has a team and a ball, right? I?m sure that?s what most of you think when you see the football team practicing everyday after school (raining, shining or even hailing!) and getting formally dressed up on the days of their games. However, allow me to just stop your thoughts there and tell you why football is much more than just an ordinary sport. Football creates a unique closeness between teammates and generates a great deal of passion - whether you?re a fan or on the team. But where does all of this emotion come from? On my fervent search for the answer, I went ahead and asked a few guys on the team to try and get a better understanding. From what I gathered, this added sense of emotion is due to the aggressive nature of the sport, the need for teamwork, and the competitive atmosphere. The high amount of hype created for every game generates lots of spirit and adrenaline for everyone. A certain level of aggression is needed in a football player in order for them to perform well. Football is simply not a courteous sport like Curling or the contact-free basketball in the NBA nowadays. Not everyone is able to go out on the field and just tackle someone; being in a sport where in all plays there is contact is the sole reason for the needed aggression from players. Veteran football player, Rui Miyake, confirms, ?the fact that football is a contact sport is a factor. If you're not pumped up and focused, you'll make a mistake?. Furthermore, Football players have to prepare themselves mentally in order to be on the top of their game. Basim El-Dakkak shared with me a little ritual he does before every game to get pumped up; he envisions himself tackling in the game while listening to his favourite music to help him get angry and let him get in the zone, Kanye West anyone? <<
>> This immense amount of preparation definitely makes the game more emotional for a football player. Although contact and football go hand in hand, the contact is useless without a united bunch of teammates that leave their egos in the locker room. At NT, we see the team working hard at this since they practice on our turf field every single day after school until 6pm, now that?s teamwork and dedication at it?s finest. This amount of teamwork is what creates the unique closeness between teammates. ?I find the bond between my teammates and I to be special? says veteran, Basim El-Dakkak. New friendships form over this bond, even though they might just be seasonal. Star Wide Receiver, Matthew Mohtadi says, ?football definitely brings you closer together with people you already know, and closer to people who you didn't know?. Junior player, Mark Stephens, agreed by saying ?football has only bettered my friendships?. You expect this to happen during the season because of the long hours they spend together in a sport where they must trust if they want to achieve their ultimate goal, winning banners for North Toronto C.I. They win together, and also go down together, it becomes clear to anyone who follows the squad that there are no ?I?s in this team. Winning and losing is extremely important. In every sport the objective is to win during a game, but I haven?t seen as much emotion for an outcome of a football game than in any other. ?No one sweats, bleeds or feels as emotionally as a football player? quotes one players who has been on the team since day one in grade nine, Jake Gorenkoff. The outcome becomes important because of the amount of work, emotions put into every minute of the game and also because football is a game of inches, in which the outcome can drastically vary in a matter of minutes. Mark Stephens says, ?the fact of winning or losing gets me really into the game and pumped up?. Rui Miyake further explains, ?I don't feel these emotions in any other sport probably because I don't care as much?. It?s not only NT that feels this way, but the teams we face have the same amount of emotion and dedication, creating an intense, competitive atmosphere. Matthew Mohtadi says that he?s, ?always nervous and excited because of the competitive atmosphere?. Obviously there are a lot of emotions running through the minds of the players, which is why the outcome of the game becomes their sole focus for weeks. Ultimately, football is intense and exciting. When we see and feel the hype brought on by the players, its hard not to follow suit and get spirited. The special bonds and great emotion in football are created by the factors of aggression, teamwork, and competition. Though these are also found in other sports, football still has that something special that makes it unique. It makes for unmissable viewing, compelling sporting narratives, incredible competition and athletic excellence, intelligence, strategy, planning and instinctive reaction.
NHL Lockout: Who?s to Blame?
On September 15th, 2012, another lockout began leaving hockey fans around the world sitting in stunned silence. This is the second time in 8 years the NHL is at a standstill. The Last NHL lockout occurred 7 years ago and lasted the entire season, a span of 301 days. So haven't all the issues already been sorted out? Maybe it?s not the issues that need sorting out, but rather the managers and players themselves. Gary Bettman is the commissioner of the National Hockey League, a position he has held for almost 20 years. This will be Bettman?s third NHL work stoppage. Bettman?s leadership is beginning to be called into question. Although this looks bad on Bettman?s part, not everyone is blaming him. Even with the season at steak, Bettman has no reason to speed the process when he is still getting paid. In fact, he received nearly $8 million in salary and benefits during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, according to the league?s most recent tax filing. That would put Bettman fifth when ranking the league?s largest salaries only trailing the likes of Alex Ovechkin Evgeni Staal, Sidney Crosby and Eric Staal. Now I wonder, how many blocked shots, hits, fights, stitches, broken bones, concussions, goals and surgeries has this greedy commissioner had? Perhaps someone should lockout Bettman so the players can start the season and negotiate with the rest of the managers. Whatever happened to, ?for the love of the game?? That's why anyone plays the sport, right? When players get drafted, they all boast about how it is a dream come true and how great it is to play the game they love for a living - of course that is if it comes with a million dollar contract. The greed of most of the players will always exist, no matter if Gary Bettman is the commissioner or not, but they need to start being realistic. They need to remember that they are playing a game, and although very few make it to the NHL, they are not saving lives and should not get those 10-year, $80 million-type contracts. Moreover, it?s not as if the NHL is asking for half of their salaries; the owners simply want to reduce the players' share of Hockey Related Revenue from 57 percent to 46 percent. Small pay cuts mean nothing when you are still getting paid millions of dollars to chase a puck for a couple of hours every other night. It?s time that the players accept the unavoidable; they are hockey players, not autobots, Optimus ?Reim? anyone? Furthermore, both the NHL and the NHLPA (players association) are forgetting about the oil that runs their car; the fans. Without the fans, the National Hockey League would simply lag behind in popularity and revenue among the other professional sports leagues such as MLB, NBA, MLS and the NFL. Gary Bettman and many of the NHL players have been quoted on numerous occasions saying, ?you are the greatest fans in the world!" But when it comes down to it, the players and owners don?t care about the fans that make their sport so successful. As an avid hockey fan myself, I cannot function without the game I love. What am I supposed to do now? Homework? No, thank you. Nothing can possibly fill the void that the lockout brings to Canadians, not even junior hockey. Sure, it is still hockey, but that?s like giving your girlfriend a rough diamond for your proposal instead of an Swarovski, sparkling diamond ring. They are just not the same. Junior Hockey is like the dressed-rehearsal of a play, meanwhile the NHL is the sold out, critically-acclaimed show; they are simply on different planets. Perhaps we, the fans, are to blame. If people stopped paying the absurd prices of tickets and merchandise, it might force the millionaires of the league to stop taking fan support for granted. We have encouraged the greed of both the players and managers. Fans had a chance to get back at the NHL and the NHLPA for the lockout during the 2004-2005 season, but instead ticket sales increased allowing salaries to increase. In fact, The NHL?s total annual revenue, including its 30 clubs and other business operations, has increased from $2.1 billion to $2.9 billion since the last lockout, seeing an outstanding 38 per cent growth. The total jumped even further in the 2011-12 season, reaching a staggering $3.2 billion. Players and managers alike need to focus on a way to get the game back into motion. One things for sure, we all want the game back. The NHL and NHLPA need to stop with their childish and greedy ways. The never-ending blame game has to come to a complete stop once and for all. Stop passing buck and start passing the puck.
Best Norsemen Team Ever?
The 2012-2013 Norsemen are having nothing else but the expectations to win it all, and clinch the first championship ever on the new home turf. As a student and player of NT I am able to get both sides of the whole sha-bang. On the side of a student I see football as a joke and not taken seriously, as in the comparison of Northern. On the other side as player I see the opportunity of being the champions right there for the taking. The worst part is, only a select few of NT students get to notice the full potential of this team. To say this year?s 2012-13 Norsemen football team is the best yet is quite the statement, however the reasoning behind it is there. You look at a team based on skill, knowledge and chemistry. Sure enough the Norsemen of 2012-13 have it all. With two substantial coaches in Mr. Hood as offensive coordinator, and Coach Perry as our defensive coordinator, these two men are the foundation of a great team. Not to mention the pure skill this team puts out onto the field, with more game changing players than the number of Mrs. Bulgutch?s iconic hand motions. It begins with the offensive line that doesn?t just look good but probably has more fight in them than an African Walrus on Thanksgiving- indeed a force to be wrecked with. These young men are lead by an impressive young man, Garret Hutchison, along with his brother, big D-Derek Hutchison who makes the line quite breathe taking. On the other side you find yourself looking at more talent from Alex Papageorge, to Jake Gorenkoff, and even that Austin Hanson guy who believe it or not is a fantastic piece to an already sterling line. Without forgetting our centre in Charles Kim, probably one of the smallest linemen he makes up for his size through his passion and determination. Plus those rookies of Christian Cheung and Ian Wellman, they just round off an already impressive line with their own talent that just makes it harder on the opponents rush and pass attack. The receivers, from returning vets of Emil Borggren, Matthew Mohtadi and yours truly, plus the new additions of the teams areal attack, president Marcus Gottlieb, young phenom, Owen singer, Andrew lee and Jack Bradshaw round out a great mixture of speed and strength. With these players, they allow the Norseman to be more of an areal oriented-team rather than just a run based offence. The back field; is in fact one of most depended on offensive attacks this Norsemen team has to offers. It starts with a young man who?s size should not reflect his pure skill, who?s good looks should not distract you from his aggression, who posses little dinosaur arms that should not let you feel that you are able to keep him contained, who clearly is the undisputed Norsemen?s starting full back, the small but mighty, Ken Scott. As the full back you are given great responsibility to block and in many cases gain yards, and in the case of Mr. Scott he does so perfectly seeing how his speed resembles that of an Australian dingo; he is a huge piece to the Norseman?s success. However there is only a full back if he has someone to block for, and in his case that?s Zachery Kohoko, this young man is the most feared upon player for any defense, with his speed in and around cuts and the strength he is a complete nightmare for any defense. With touchdowns and game changing plays every quarter, Zachery is a big reason why the Norsemen are still undefeated. Lastly but easily the most important, the QB; the Quarter back, or in the case of the Norsemen the Quarter backssss for the Norseman. To lead off, we start with the wonderful Keith Peltier, who does poses everything a team needs out of a quarter back to be successful was the starter at the beginning of training camp. However with an unexpected hyper-extended elbow it has side?lined the young Peltier for almost 4 weeks. With this unexpected injury Gavin Hull and starting Corner back on Defense Tommy Cho have stepped up into the role of QB, with Gavin leading most huddles. Both studs bring so much to the team, with both improving each week, it just adds more depth to an already ?stacked? Offense. Now for all those coaches who like to say, ?defense wins championships? and as much of that is true, we aren?t to worry about the defense aspect of a team as much as other teams are. With Coach Perry as coordinator there is that advantage already there, with twenty plus years of experience the Norsemen?s defense is a machine with a front seven that includes; two sets of brother, the Shekter?s-Josh as our Captain playing MLB and running the Norseman defense and Charlie, DE. The Crawford-Richie?s, both Oscar an Isaac who help out the defensive line with Sean Chapnik (cookie) and the machine, Basim El-dakkak there isn?t much hope to run the ball up the middle. With the support of many others; Mark Gordon-LOLB, Firas Khalaf ?ROLB, David Bloss, Jake Humphrey and without forgetting the vet on the line, Peter Gott with substantial lengthiness, he is a key part to the pass-rush for the Norsemen. Seeing how the front seven is very well covered, we shift to the secondary, including Rui Miyake, Tommy Cho, Kelvin Su, Brandon Copp Yong, as our corners. Joe Stott, Ab Ibrahim, Trevor Cook, Kirby, Kieran Glover, Dylan Overholt, and Fabian Brooks, and lastly to round off a beautiful secondary the red head sensation Elliot Kwan Lee who tends to be diamond in the rough, because who would have expected this kid to be good at football. With his quickness and aggression and his ability to read the play, he is a key part in the Norsemen?s defense. From coaches to players in each position excelling and starting off a season unbeaten winning the first game 24-0 in front of NT defeating Eastern Commerce, and the game for the ages, by beating Malvern 17-16 on their version of red & grey day, ?Red & Black day?, at Birchmount stadium. With help from the defense as a whole, and Zachery scoring on the first play of them game, running a 86 yard TD up the middle of the Malvern?s defense gave the Norsemen a quick advantage, from there, the following series, Emil Borggren follows with his own TD from our own 30. However even with those huge touchdowns from key players, the Norsemen still found them selves down 14-16 to Malvern with roughly 2 minutes left, facing two third downs, the Norsemen marched down the field with help from Emil Borggren, Ken Scott, Andrew Lee, Zach Kohoko, and not forgetting Gavin Hull who made a game-changing pass on third down to the little Owen Singer who was able to run it down to Malvern?s three yard line. With 16 seconds left the Norsemen gained the lead with a game winning field goal by Emil Borggren to keep the Norsemen on the road to an undefeated season. From there the Norseman faced Newtonbrook at NT on October 11th leading to yet another blowout; defeating Newtonebrook 41-0 with incredible play by everyone, it gives the Norseman great confidence for the next up coming games for NT. From those big plays, to those practices on Fridays, it seems that the North Toronto Norsemen are treating everything like that championship game their aiming for, and with the coaching and players dialed in to what they need to know and do, winning the championship doesn?t seem so far fetch for the Norseman for the current season.
NT's Biggest Competition
Northern, Lawrence Park, Leaside, and other? well not as awesome schools, are known to be some of NT?s biggest rivalries. The truth is, NT?s greatest competition actually lies within the walls of our own school. But what could possibly be a bigger rivalry between NT and Northern? Believe it or not, the biggest rivalry at NT is between our own girls and guys in athletics. The main arguments involved in this rivalry include the use of the field/gym, the team who had the better season, and of course, the well-known Red and Grey Day dispute. But we?re supposed to be a spirited school, right? We should be supporting each other, not competing with each other. Can?t we all just?get along? Even though I wish for PA days, late starts, and rainbows, that isn?t always the case. During every season, the gyms and field have to be scheduled for all teams to practice. Sometimes the girls and guys teams have to share the space or sacrifice their own practice time to make room for everyone. Inevitably, people get pissed when they have to give up their desired practice time for another team. The Phys. Ed teachers are in charge of doing all of the scheduling for teams, which they should get plenty of credit for. There are many different uncontrollable factors involved when planning out schedules. Even though these factors are uncontrollable, girls and guys still tend to blame each other when they don?t get their desired practice times. For example, I remember last year on the girls? rugby team, there would always be issues between my team and the big boys. As Adrienne Lainas remarks, ?Sometimes we would have to share the field with the guys, but when we showed up to practice they would take over the whole field?. Girls and guys continue to complain, making it seem like it is the opposite sex's fault for using the field. But who cares if you have to practice in the morning because the gym was booked after school? It?s not up to the opposite sex to decide when practices are, you just have to work with what you?ve got. Remember that sharing is caring! The issue isn?t just when guys and girls use the field or gym, but also how well they perform on the field or in the gym. I?ve heard endless chirps from various teams between the girls and the guys. According to Carter Scott, she finds that the things like ?overall ranking in the season, who has more playing time, injuries, and who makes better plays? get compared the most often. Let?s think about this for a second?as I stated before, we should be supporting each other. Why are we so concerned about beating each other when we go to the same school? "We're secretly happy if both teams do well, but there?s definitely pressure to want to do better than each other,? says Nicole Taylor. ?The boys need to chill, they aren?t as good as they think they are,? adds Carter. This attitude displays just how heated the competition between the sexes can get. Not everyone feels this strongly though; some could really care less. But you can?t hide the fact that there is still some sort of competition between girls and guys. ?It would be embarrassing for a guy if a girl was doing better than him in a sport, so of course [he is] motivated to want to do better,? explains Basim El-Dakkak, a player in the senior football team. A little competition is a great motivator, but not when it becomes the main focus of playing a sport-especially if the competition is directed at a team that plays a different sport. You are probably familiar with the famous Red and Grey Day dispute. Arguments were made mainly between the football and field hockey teams? clearly a boy vs. girl distinction. Why does it have to be that way? Let?s remember what Red and Grey Day is supposed to be about. It is a day meant to celebrate our school as a whole, and not just as one team. It shouldn't matter if it?s a girls or boys team that plays because the whole point is to celebrate and support everyone. Whatever happened to ?for the love of the game,? right? Come on NT, we?re better than that; we shouldn?t be starting beef with our own peers. Instead, let?s concentrate on our own game, our own team, our own goals while supporting our fellow athletes and winning banners.
One Man's Trash Is Another Man?s Treasure
The best center in the NBA, Dwight Howard, got his wish by getting traded to the bright lights of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, along the way, his media circus about his wish to get traded was far worse than the much-criticized ?decision? by LeBron James. In fact, it was Howard himself who forced the Orlando Magic to fire their long-time head coach Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy had led them to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, including a great run in the 2008 NBA Finals which culminated in a loss to, ironically enough, the Los Angeles Lakers. Although Van Gundy lost his job in May, the biggest winner out of the whole Dwight Howard saga turned out to be the two-time NBA All-Star Game head coach. The constant accusations of Van Gundy to the Magic organization about the massive distraction that the Dwight Howard trade soap opera and the owner?s unwillingness to trade brought to the team were justified after the public saw the abysmal trade package that will leave the Orlando Magic in shambles for years to come. Without a doubt, the Magic are now known around the NBA as the new ?Memphis Grizzlies? of trades. They are the new experts in trading franchise players for a laughable deal that does not provide them with a new cornerstone player to build around but leaves them with great draft picks in the NBA Draft. The Grizzlies did just that in 2008 with the Spanish Power-Forward, Pau Gasol, who ironically enough also went to the Lakers. In Gasol?s case, the Californian team did not give up any significant value in exchange for a player who would later become the missing piece of the puzzle and in return brought the city three consecutive NBA finals appearances and two championships in the 3 years following the trade. In the NBA?s yearly offseason ranking in which teams are ranked based on their off season moves, it came to no surprise that the Orlando Magic were left dead last in the league. The analysis is based around the idea that not only did the team lose the best center in the league, but they also fired one of the best coaches in said league. It is widely accepted that defense wins championships, and Van Gundy is unquestionably one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA. For three consecutive seasons between 2008 and 2011, Orlando was ranked among the league's best three defenses, topping the league in 2008-09 on their way to the NBA Finals. This was done with a great defender in Dwight Howard and four offence-first players varying from Vince Carter to JJ Redick. Few coaches could have gotten so much defensive cohesion from a group of defensively challenged players. While Howard's presence makes those players statistically better at that end of the court, it was Van Gundy's relentless ways that led to them developing a skill-set capable of slowing down the league's best offensive weapons. Van Gundy posted a record of 259-135 (.657) during his time in Orlando. He had previously coached the Miami Heat for 2-plus seasons and now holds a career coaching record of 371-208 (.641). From the very beginning, Van Gundy had made it clear to the team executives that D-12 will not re-sign with the team after 2012 and that the best course of action would be to trade him in order to get the highest possible value in return. Instead, the organization was often viewed as being Howard?s puppet and passed on great trade offers from the Brooklyn Nets, the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks, among others. Not only did the team lose Howard, it was also stripped of the dynamic three-point shot specialist Ryan Anderson and is now left with the serviceable shooting guard Arron Afflalo as their franchise player. The very same player who was not even the fourth most important player on his former team. The Magic is now left with quite the laughable starting five; not only that, but the responsibility of rebuilding is now left in the hands of Jacque Vaughn, who will be coaching at the NBA level for the very first time. The off-season moves by the Magic have left those who have gone through the rebuilding mode around the NBA scratching their heads. To be a successful rebuilder, a team needs to get great draft picks, as well as clear out their payroll; however, Orlando did not achieve either of these needs with this move. For the upcoming season, the Magic will still have to deal with the millionaire and grossly overpaid salaries of Glen ?Baby? Davis, Al Harrington and the Raptors? public enemy number one, Hedo Turkoglu. Van Gundy will enter the coaching free agent market as one of the top names, alongside the likes of Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan, who have all parted ways with their former teams over the past 2 seasons. As much as Rob Henigan, the new general manager for the Magic, wants to repeat the successful rebuilding that he underwent in his tenure with the now explosive and perennial championship-contender Oklahoma City Thunder, it simply is a far-fetched dream at this point. Meanwhile as the ?dream? that Orlando repeats Oklahoma?s rebuilding success remains simply a mirage, Van Gundy has silently become the most prestigious and sought-after head coach in the NBA. As the saying goes, one man?s trash is another man?s treasure and Orlando?s trash has certainly become one of the most attractive head coaches available in the league. Getting fired might not be a bad thing after all, kids.
Miggy C for MVP?
I just don?t know. That is my answer every time people ask me if Miguel Cabrera will win the American League Most Valuable Player Award, which has been the biggest sub-plot around the baseball world for months now. While I would love for ?Miggy? to win-as he would be the first Venezuelan to win the title and would bring a lot of joy to my motherland-it would be foolish to overlook the stellar season that the rookie phenomenon, Mike Trout, is having. On October 3rd, 2012, Miggy became the first player since Carl Yaztremski in 1967 to have won the Hitting Triple Crown (lead the league in batting average, runs-batted-in and home runs) and was the most clutch hitter in the league as he led his team, the Detroit Tigers, to a second straight division pennant. Had Miggy had these types of numbers in another decade, there would be no discussion as to who is the deserving champion. But times have changed, and RBIs, which are a result of the number of runners on base a hitter encounters, and average, which doesn?t take in account walks or differentiate singles from extra bases, are no longer the typical and most important measures used to analyze a hitter?s performance. In the other coast of the United States, in Anaheim, California, Mike Trout is having a sensational and historical season. He is the second player in the history of the game to have hit over .300, hold an OBP of .390 or higher, steal 49 bases and hit 30 taters. Who was the first to accomplish this? The one and only Barry Bonds. Like Barry, Trout also changed the outcome of the games thanks to his lockdown defense and lightning-fast speed on the base path (two facets of the game in which Miggy cannot contribute, especially in speed) which has gained more and more value over the years. The ?Miggy is a great hitter, Trout is a great player? argument is the sole reason as to why so many writers from the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), those who pick the MVP, still have Trout ahead of Miggy in their voting. One of the most respected baseball reporters, Ken Rosenthal from the FOX network, was quoted as saying that he was not sure the Triple Crown ensured Cabrera the MVP honours, for the reasons mentioned above. That doesn?t mean there aren't possibilities for the Tigers Third Baseman to win it. In fact, there are and quite a bit. His great ending to the season, including the August Player of the Month award, was so great that it can?t be overlooked. It is his spectacular ending and clutch hits in the last stretch of the season that have questioned Trout?s MVP chances, an award that seemed to be locked up by the rookie sensation in mid July. On top of that, winning the Triple Crown, something that Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron couldn?t achieve, might just tip the balance. However, it will all fall in the hands of the voters come mid-November, which will greatly help Miggy?s chances if his team is able to win a World Series Ring. But at the end of the day, it is impossible to know how the 28 reporters, those that compose the BBWAA, will vote. If the voters go with the old-school approach and place an emphasis on the traditional three big stats (BA, Homeruns and RBIs) or if they will lean more on the new saber metric approach that holds Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as their guideline. All in all, trying to figure out how each reporter will determine his or her vote is not only a waste of time, but also pointless. The Most Valuable Player debate has also brought along an upsetting side effect. It has kidnapped the debate of who is the best player and anything short of that will overshadow the historic seasons that Trout or Cabrera have had. Every time Cabrera hit a home run, or Trout robbed a home run in the outfield, the questions poured in on Twitter. ?Is he favorite to win it now??, ?What else does he have to do?? It is almost as if everything that Trout is doing for the Angels or Cabrera for the Tigers will only be worth it if he gets the award. To think that there is a large amount of people out there that consider a second place in the MVP voting a disappointment is quite mind boggling and is also a monumental injustice to either of these superstars. This bizarre point of view is like saying a movie is not great because it did not win an Oscar. Although only one motion picture gets an Oscar and one player gets the MVP award every year, it is safe to say that each year there are a vast amount of great films and ballplayers out there.
Would it Kill You? by Hellogoodbye
Hellogoodbye is a band that basically started off as an indie-ish tween pop band with a few good songs up their sleeves, one example being "All Time Lows" off their somewhat awkwardly-titled 2006 debut studio albumZombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinousars!
(Seriously check out that song; it's really good!) Unfortunately, the majority of that album was total fluff, a rather flawed first effort, as it was, for the most part, a lightweight, forgettable, bubblegum pop album for teenyboppers. (Alright, maybe it's not so bad. I mean it is sort of better than other bubblegum tween pop of our generation.) About 4 years passed since the release ofZombies!, etc.,
when Hellogoodbye released their second album,Would It Kill You?
, in the latter half of 2010. It signaled a change in style of the group, and upon release, it generated some positive reviews from professional music critics. Having said that, I think that it is safe to say that this album is already a lost classic, absolutely deserved of 5 stars. To put it bluntly, this album is one of those rare albums that isperfect. Not almost perfect
, but perfect. Across the 11 tracks onWould It Kill You?
, there isnot one track
that I would even bother skipping. This album really is an "album" in the truest sense, and it has a flow, a beginning, middle, and an end. Stylistically, this album is best described as power pop, so gone are the lightweight bubblegum tween pop days ofZombies...
What's incredible about this album is how much improvement Hellogoodbye made over those 4 years. This music is power pop, but it is far from straightforward. These arrangements are not only complex and rich in terms of sonic value, but theywork
. It is an extremely melodic album, and the crunchy guitar/bouncy ukulele (yes, there is ukulele!) are accented very nicely with cool synth sounds, lush string arrangements, punchy horn arrangements, icy vibraphones, soaring harmonies, and a myriad of other sounds to create a rich, beautiful, and, most of all, enjoyable album, that catches you on first listen, but rewards with further introspection. There are seriously moments on this album where there are strokes of genius, a term that I find to be chronically overused, and not a term that I would take lightly. The bridge between "When We First Kissed" and "The Thoughts That Give Me The Creeps", which bisect the album, is absolutely phenomenal, recalling the epic climax to "A Day in the Life" by The Beatles, compressed and used as a bridge between the first and second half of the album.