Monthly Archives: December 2008

Why you shouldn’t Google your date

NYT’s Modern Love column (which can be pretty hit or miss) warns us about the perils of Googling your date– best avoided, despite obvious temptation!

Anybody else think unlimited access to information has catapulted us into a “way too much information” age (at least when it comes to certain social scenarios)? Facebook has  even created a whole new category of social relationship: the “pseudo-acquaintance”- who you know more about than you should.

I actually wonder whether Facebook stalking will ever become a legitimate way to meet new people. If that happened, we could all stop pretending we don’t recognize each other and just start introducing ourselves instead. I guess for now, I’ll just revel in the fantastically awkward situations that result from these information asymmetries.

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NEWSFLASH: Pre-drinking’ a symptom of high bar prices

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The most insightful article of the week can be found here.

This piece of brilliant journalism obviously took a lot of time to craft:

Samantha Wells, a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health scientist and associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, posits a hypothesis: that elevated prices at the bar promote drunk driving, violence and binge drinking through pre-drinking.

Call the Pulitzer committee!

Who’s your daddy?

[This piece is really really old news by blogosphere standards, but it got a little lost in the exam shuffle. Here it is anyway]

For those of you who haven’t already seen it, the Daily Beast recently ran a piece last week written by a Melissa Beech (pseudonym) on her sugar daddy relationship:

Some might call it prostitution. I call it a “mutually beneficial arrangement” that pays for my killer wardrobe.

Well, this isn’t strictly a 21st century phenomenon,  it’s certainly made more accessible by such quality websites as Seeking Arrangement (the “Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site”). The article is clearly meant to stir the controversy pot, but all the same, there are so many questionable things going on here. Whether or not you agree with the morality of what she’s doing is one thing, but I am going to have to  object to the tone she uses throughout the article- it reeks of smugness. In her humble opinion, she’s clearly struck the jackpot and isn’t shy about letting everyone know:

As for the allowance, he doesn’t just cut me a check. He simply ensures that I need never worry about expenses. I rent a $1,600 apartment in the city, for which he pays the rent in full. I carry an AmEx Black card in both our names, and use it for things like shopping, spa trips, manicures, and tanning; the bill goes to him.

In a time of massive downsizing and economic turmoil, I’m glad she still has the wherewithal to continue her weekly spa trips and tanning sessions. Not that I don’t love money and “nice things” as much as the next girl, but there’s a vapid, utterly soul-less materialism here that’s hard to handle. I’m happy that she seems to have found an arrangement that works for her, but the fact that she feels the need to shove it in everyone’s face is a bit excessive.

What really guiles me is this sense of post-feminist empowerment she uses to justify  her actions. It’s like she’s saying: I’m smart, reasonable and perfectly capable of “making it” the normal way-BUT why bother? This is a far better deal:

Besides career advancements, he’s given me a chance to live the type of life I never would have experienced on my own. We went to London and Paris last spring, where we saw the sights and shopped at stores like Chanel and Dior. How many other college students are wearing Christian Louboutins to class?

Like all business relationships, this one’s probably going to come a premature (for her) end.  Let’s hope by the time that has happened, she’s a found a way to fund all the fancy trappings she so clearly enjoys. I can’t imagine those Christian Louboutins come cheap.

Happy Holidays!

In honour of the end of exams, I bring you some very necessary mindless frivolity- in the form of three holiday-themed videos!

Disclaimer: those with strong gag reflexes may wish to click away now, before its too late.

1. Disney’s new viral marketing campaign is actually pretty clever. This definitely beats some of ridiculously awful Internet ads I have to REPEATEDLY sit through, in order to watch any episode off ctv.ca.  Thanks to my friend Camille for this one.

2. This is a new low for Much Music (is that possible?) Perhaps, also one of the reasons I’m slightly scared of cats.

From the Dailydish.

3.  And the memories of awkward 1998 high-school dances come flooding back. Can you believe JT came from this?

Happy Holidays!

Legalize academic doping?

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In the spirit of  triple-venti lattes, abundant stress and 24-hour library marathons,  I thought I’d weigh in an issue that seems to be “popping” up  (sorry, couldn’t resist)  everywhere: academic doping.

A few days ago, seven heavyweight academics published this article in Nature, calling for the legalization of “brain-enhancing” drugs. Apparently, prescription drugs, such as Ritalin and Adderall, have been all the rage in universities for years, common among students trying to get an edge on the competition:

Yet one survey1 estimated that almost 7% of students in US universities have used prescription stimulants in this way, and that on some campuses, up to 25% of students had used them in the past year. These students are early adopters of a trend that is likely to grow, and indications suggest that they’re not alone2.

The medication,  which is widely prescribed to ADHD patients, has the ability to enhance concentration and memory, while also decreasing fatigue. Short-term side effects range from nausea to hallucinations and even seizures. Long-term side effects are currently unknown.

Now that I’m in the throes of the exam season, I could see how these drugs would be incredibly appealing to anybody trying to learn an entire semester’s worth of course material in 24 hours (ahem). The real key for me is the question of safety.  We don’t really know what the long term effects of taking these drugs are- that’s certainly a legitimate reason not to use them. I suppose if you’re willing to potentially mortgage off future mental capacity for some small present gain (clearly, there are many who would make that trade-off), then who am I to oppose that. I can’t really think of any good reason why they should be banned, if they are really as safe as any other drug.

Well, actually one- they’re wholly unnecessary. But I suppose, so are alcohol, caffeine and sleeping pills.  But, I think that might just be a general criticism of society itself- the fact that certain students feel the need to resort to cognitive enhancing drugs speaks volumes about all the wrong types of competitive pressures inherent in academic environments.  Now,  I can’t say from personal experience, but from what I understand, the drugs basically make you more efficient at performing monotonous tasks (such as rote memorization). What you would gain in that arena, you lose in the ability to think conceptually and creatively.The fact that this could convey some sort of advantage is a bit sad, in itself. Why are we memorizing and regurgitating, anyway?  I suppose school (at least not my program) isn’t exactly built to instill intellectual curiousity. That, I would say, is the real problem.

Anyways,  I do worry, however, that legalization and open access to these drugs, would place unnecessary pressure on everyone to be on them.  An abstention might certainly be conceived as a disadvantage. Can’t help but conjure up some Brave New World type imagery- what could be less interesting than an army of robotic studying machines?

REALLY?

Blagojevich Says He Has No Plans to Resign

This guy is just hilarious.

(Also hilarious- Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers roasting him on weekend update last night.

I can’t find that so I’m going to put up this slightly less funny skit:

Best line: “Maybe not to Illinois, but if you were the Governor of any other state, you’d be a disgrace to that state.”)

Just when I thought Canada was catching up in terms of political craziness, the US decides to up the ante. You really can’t make this stuff up!

For those of you who haven’t read it, you can find the full text of Blagojevich’s affidavit here. The best part is when Blagojevich’s wife makes a guest appearance:

During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife can be heard in the background telling ROD BLAGOJEVICH to tell Deputy Governor A “to hold up that fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Deputy Governor A what he thinks of his wife’s idea. Deputy Governor A stated that there is a part of what ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife said that he “agree[s] with.” Deputy Governor A told ROD BLAGOJEVICH that Tribune Owner will say that he does not have anything to do with the editorials, “but I would tell him, look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune.” Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife got on the phone and, during the continuing discussion of the critical Tribune editorials, stated that Tribune Owner can “just fire” the writers because Tribune Owner owns the Tribune.

As dubious as this guys actions clearly were, you have to wonder if this is really any different than what politicans usually do behind closed doors. Actually, it’s not so different from what our beloved PM is doing to fill the vacant senate seats. Let’s just hope he’s not promising any tax breaks.

Also, it’s questionable what exactly Blagojevich can actually be convicted for. Legal experts seem to be divided over exactly what they can charge him with- other than conspiracy to sell the senate seat. If they had waited until after an exchange of goods, they could’ve pegged him for something more serious. Clearly these guys don’t watch the Wire- you have to wait until after the act’s done to go in for the kill.

The Chosen One

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Michael Valpy’s Ignatieff profile in yesterday’s Globe is among the most thorough I’ve seen. I’ve always found it odd that so little is known about the purported white knight  of the Canadian political scene.

I was definitely a supporter of his during the 2006 leadership convention, however, I can’t shake this sense of unease at his rise to power this time around. Not that I necessarily disagree with the outcome, but I find it a bit discomfiting to know he was basically handed the Liberal leadership on a platter.

I can’t say it didn’t work out for the best though. Really, anybody looks better than Dion at this point.

This piece in the G&M pretty much sums up my feelings on the way things worked out:

But Mr. Rae didn’t have the benefit of a good fight. He didn’t concede with the knowledge that he had put every effort into winning. He didn’t walk away with a grudging sense of admiration for his opponent and his superior campaign. Events conspired against him…

…Grace, in that circumstance, suggests equanimity about the forces beyond our control. And that, in turn, deserves the highest admiration.

More on this after exam season…