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The Ubyssey Jan 27, 2011

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Array Backpack is not a trashcan SINCE 1918
Spiritual growth at UBC
sing 11
^m 2/UBYSSEY.CA/EVENTS/2011.01.2 7
JANUARY 27,2011
Justin McElroy: coordinating@ubysseyca
Arshy Mann: news@uhyssey.ca
Kalyeena Makortoff: kmakortoff@ubyssey.ca
Mich Cowan: mcowan@ubyssey.ca
Jonny Wakefield & Bryce Warnes:
culture@ubyssey ca
Ginny Monaco: gmonaco@ubyssey ca
Indiana Joel: ijoel@ubysseyca
Marie Vondracek: sports@ubysseyca
Trevor Record :features@ubyssey ca
Geoff Lister: photos@ubysseyca
Virginie Menard: production@ubysseyca
Kai Green: copy@ubysseyca
Tara Martellaro: multimedia@ubysseyca
Stephanie Warren:
David Marino: video@ubysseyca
Jeff Blake: webmaster@ubysseyca
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The Ubyssey is the official student newspaper of
the University of British Columbia. It is published
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Call Michael 604-618-9187
us create this baby! Learn about
layout and editing. Expect to be
fed. • Every Sunday and Wednesday, 2pm.
working on a progressive project,
but need funding? Do you have
an idea, but can't get it off the
ground? Apply to the Resource
Groups for funding! Come in,
pitch your idea to us and we will
consider fully or partially funding
your project. • Every Monday
1 lam in SUB 245 (second floor,
north-east corner). For more info,
email resourcegroups.ams®
Free public skating rink, with
skate and helmet rentals, skate
sharpening and a concession
stand on site. • Ongoing til Feb.
28, Sunday-Thursday 9am-9pm,
Friday-Saturday 9am-llpm,
the Flag is back! The Faculty
of Science is looking to challenge all other faculties to represent themselves at the event.
Brought to you by Science FYC.
• 12-2pm, Flag Pole Plaza.
• Skeptics in the Pub is a long
established social event where
like-minded skeptics, humanists and freethinkers can get
together and discuss and debate over drinks and food in a
social, casual atmosphere. •
7:30pm, Legends Pub, 6511
Buswell St, Richmond, go to
cficanada.ca/vancouver for
more information.
ARTS CAREER EXPO 2011 • Wondering about career options? Come
discover the diverse career options available to BA grads at the
Arts Career Expo. This event is
intended for all year levels and all
majors. • 5-8:30pm, SUB Ballroom, $5 until Jan. 21, $8 Jan.
22-26, $10 at the door.
is holding an exciting upcoming
event called Debating Darfur, a
panel discussion engaging current issues facing an embattled
region, including the potential aftermath of the 2011 referendum
in South Sudan. Light refreshments will be served. • 6pm,
Dodson Room, Irving K Barber,
go to standubc.com for more
2011 Visual Art graduating class
cordially invites you for the first
fundraiser in support of the 2011
BA/BFA Grad Show, How Do
You Sleep with Yourself? The
evening will be host to an exciting mixture of art and entertainment. There will be a silent
auction for a selection of UBC
student and faculty artworks.
The event will also showcase
new local live musical talent. •
7pm-12am, The ANZA Club, 3
West 8th Ave, $8 (door and bar
are cash only).
participate in the Jell-o eating
contest. The Jell-o eating contest will be on a first come first
serve basis. There will be four
preliminary rounds with five
participants each. This will be
followed by the winners of the
preliminaries advancing to the
finals to compete for a cool
prize! Registration is free; bring
your appetite and celebrate Sci-
Week 2011! • 12-4pm, SUB
COLD FUSION • Celebrate the end
of Science Week by winding
down and having a few drinks.
Featuring Jokers of the Scene
and California's best to come
DJ at UBC: LA RIOTS. • 19+,
9pm-lam, SUB Ballroom, $10
at Ladha.
MIDNIGHT* After a successful debut lastyear, Organizing Support
for Charity (OSC) is teaming up
with Dragon Seed Connection
(DSC) to present: POKER 'TIL
MIDNIGHT! Do you like playing
poker? Are you perfecting your
game or just learning? Either
way, put that book down and
come out to enjoy a fun-filled
night of Texas hold'em, FREE
finger food and prizes! All proceeds go towards the Gather
and Give charity. • 7pm-12am,
Abdul Ladha Centre.
to the closing reception of Sexual Assault Awareness Month
(SAAM) at UBC. Cake and tea
will be provided. • l-2pm. Centre for Student Involvement,
Brock Hall.
Prof Talk, with host Farha Khan,
Dean of Arts and Haitian scholar Gage Averill will discuss his
new role at UBC as well as his
recent Grammy nomination for
his project, Alan Lomax in Haiti: Recordings for the Library of
Congress, 1936-1937. • 3pm,
CitR 101.9FM, go to citr.ca for
more information.
Many do not consider wine a luxury, rather a necessity for a full
and healthy life. This Taste and
Dine event will focus on a few
of the many inexpensive yet attractive wines currently available
through local liquor stores. Joseph Collet, Green College Executive Chef, has matched the
wines with fine winter fare. •
6:30-9:30pm, Graham House,
Green College, $46 regular,
$28 students, purchase tickets
at gc.reception@ubc.ca or call
(604) 822-8660.
UBC Arts Internship Program
provides current undergraduate Arts students with the
opportunity to gain meaningful work experience in the private and non-profit sectors.
Arts internships are part-time
unpaid positions and can provide you a stepping stone to
your future career. • 12-lpm,
Buchanan B310.
OLD RED NEW RED • Ever wonder
what the greatest Engineering
prank of all time was? Some
might claim the Statue Stunt of
1963 to be it! Stephen Whitelaw
(AGIE '65) and Art Stevenson
(CHEM '66) will retell the infamous story of the prank that
duped the entire campus and
university art community. You're
all invited to join the current Engineering study body to make
this the largest ORNR ever. •
6:30-9:30pm, Cecil Green Park
GLADIATOR* Bravely go where
many UBC students have gone
each year before. This is your
chance to take on your toughest competitors and compete in
your favourite American Gladiator challenges—as a team!
Whetheryou are navigating your
way through a colossal maze,
racing through the inflatable obstacle course or duking it out on
the joust, this event is filled with
non-stop action. • 4pm-12am,
SRC Gyms, 6-10 registrants.
$80-$175, register by Jan. 27,
roster due Jan. 28.
JULES MASSENET: CENDRILLON (CINDERELLA) • The UBC Opera Ensemble and the UBC Symphony Orchestra will be performing Jules Massenet's Cendril-
lon, based on Charles Perrault's
1698 version of the Cinderella
tale. Performed in French with
English subtitles. • 7:30-10:30pm,
Chan Centre, $35 adults, $25 seniors, $20 students, call (604) 822-
6725 or go to ticketmaster.ca to
reserve. Tickets also available at
the door.
STOREWIDESALE»The UBC Bookstore is having their February
sale—up to 75 per cent off a
broad selection of merchandise!
• All day, UBC Bookstore.
symposium expands on John
O'Brian's focus on photography
during the Cold War in Canada.
Symposium speakers will explore links between culture (art,
photography, literature), the environment and nuclear propaganda
and protest in the Cold War era. •
10am-3pm, Belkin Art Gallery, go
tobelkinartgallery.com formore
The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and
UBC International Canadian Studies Centre
FEBRUARY   4,10-3pm
at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery
Daniel Grausam, Washington University
Finis Dunaway, Trent University
Martha Langford, Concordia University
John Langford, University of Victoria
Please RSVP for the Symposium by January 28
to rsvp.belkin@ubc.ca (lunch included).
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Januarys wrapping up! Send us
your events for the next months.
tlT lEUBYSSEYca 2011.01.2 7/UBYSSEY.CA/NEWS/3
EDITOR ARSHY MANN»news@ubyssey.ca
Campus Christian groups see increased interest
Christianity may be becoming
cool again—at least at UBC.
Several Christian clubs and
churches on campus are reporting an increased interest among
In the fall, Campus for Christ,
one ofthe largest Christian clubs
at UBC, organized an event called
'Tuition or Aid," where students
could enter to win $1000 that
would either go towards their tuition or a charity of their choosing. Out of the 947 people that
entered the contest, 56 percent
indicated on their entry forms
that they would be interested to
know God personally, and 80 per
cent said they would like to receive a magazine from Campus
for Christ.
"Through this contest we definitely saw a large interest, a significant interest, in spiritual things,"
said Esther Wong, staff member
of Campus for Christ.
Craig O'Brien, the pastor for
Origin—a church plant that began last summer at UBC—agrees
that "interest is rising."
Andrew Stanley, a Menno-
nite Brethren chaplain for UBC,
has also seen growth within his
church. Andrew and his wife
Rebecca began a house church
called Urban Journey in April
2009, which moved onto campus in the fall. One third of Stanley's congregation consists of students. Since moving the church
to UBC, he has seen that number grow. "We've definitely seen
an increase in the number of students that participate since we've
moved onto campus," Stanley
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Campus Christianity is growing. TIM BLONK PHOTO/THE UBYSSEY
said. Caroline Penhale, United
Church Campus Minister, has
also seen a steady increase within the United Church's AMS club
Living Stones. "What I have seen
is a growth thatlooks like our core
expanding to a tune of probably
about one, maybe one or two students a month," Penhale said.
Some of these groups believe
that the growth that Christian
groups on campus are experiencing may be due to a widespread
openness towards all things
"From a Christian perspective
we'd sayyes, there is a spiritual
hunger," said O'Brien. "There [is] a
willingness to consider who Jesus
is and what he says." As for Campus for Christ, they have been running a campaign this year that
focuses on "soul cravings." "This
campaign provided that opportunity where people can be honest
and very open with other people,"
said Discipleship Group Leader Emily Leung. "So maybe this
year has become more relevant
and people are more interested
and more comfortable to talk."
Stanley also agreed that there
is perhaps more awareness and
openness for spiritual discussion.
In his own experiences as a pastor and chaplain on campus, Stanley has heard of many students
who think there is no room for
faith within an academic setting.
"I think there [are] a lot of people who have been spiritual, but
sometimes in an academic setting the climate of the culture
does not give a person much permission to explore these things
freely and openly and talk about
them," Stanley said. "I think that
what's happening is also people
are starting to feel more 'permission' to do that." Stanley also said
thathaving more people on campus who represent their faith community allows that permission to
take place.
For these groups, the focus is
not just on gaining numbers, but
building meaningful relationships with students that will help
them on their journey with God.
"It's more about relational credibility andbeingpresentwithpeo-
ple and connecting in their spiritual journey, hearing their heart,
and then having the opportunity to share the way the message
of Jesus meets them there," said
O'Brien. Caroline Penhale agreed.
"If you focus exclusively on
numbers I think that's really a
prescription for getting discouraged really quickly," Penhale said.
"However, it isn't all about numbers and how many are and how
many aren't, but what's really happening for the people who are
coming." tl
You can read Gavins blog about
religion at ubysseyca/soulfood.
Buchanan bike cages gear up for business
In a ribbon cutting ceremony
today, UBC VP Finance Pierre
Ouillet officially opened the Buchanan bike cages. The new storage facility, located underneath
Buchanan Tower, will accommodate 96 bikes. Access is free to
any interested students, faculty or staff.
"I'm pretty excited to be here,
and not just because I'm an avid
mountain biker," said Ouillet,
who stated that encouraging biking to campus was an integral
part ofthe university's sustainability plans.
Adam Cooper, the program coordinator for UBC's Transportation Planning Office, said that
this was an important step forward for bikers on campus.
"And it's free for anyone to
use. [Also] in a month we'll have
lockers in this space as well for
people to hang up their wet gear
after they ride in on a rainy winter day."
The bike cage itself is split
into two sections and uses a two-
level racking system to maximize space. Extra benches and
lighting around the area were
also added to complement the
new facility.
Cooper said that they are also
Buchanan now sports bike cages for UBC's many cyclists. GEOFF LISTER PHOTO/THE UBYSSEY
working with mechanical engineering students to create a device that can help dry bike gear.
"The idea is thatyou get here,
you're soaking wet and there's
maybe not a good opportunity
to dry your gear before you ride
home," said Cooper.
"It'll be a bike...hooked up to
a centrifugal thing thatyou put
your gear into, and as you pedal it, it'll expand on the inside
and squeeze out the water from
the clothing."
According to Cooper, UBC is
aiming to have a bike cage in
every parkade on campus, and
will also begin work on a similar facility around the Chemistry building.
Lucas Gallagher, manager of
the UBC Bike Kitchen, said that
he thinks the bike cage is a good
addition to UBC.
"They look easy to use, there's
lots of space [and] they're going
to put some lockers in, which
will be nice," he said. "It seems
more secure than just locking
up outside.
"I think it's a step in the right
direction. There's lots of bike
theft on campus, so the more secure options you have, the better. I know Trek is planning to
do more things like this in the
future, so we're hoping that this
one is well-used enough to justify the funding for more."
Gallagher said that alongside
more lockers and showers for
sweaty bikers, coordination between buses and bikes should
be increased.
"It gets really quite clustered
at the end of the trip and just
making sure there are good options for that," he said, tl
BC Liberal leadership candidate
Christy Clark came to talk politics Wednesday in the SUB Conversation Pit, as she attempted
to recruit voters just ten days before the deadline to sign up as
a Liberal member before their
leadership election on February 26.
" Less than 50 per cent of the
people who had the privilege of
voting used it, which is pretty
sad. And when you look at that
number under 25, the statistics
drop in half again," said Clark to
an ironically small crowd of under 50 people.
But Braeden Caley, a member of Clark's campaign team,
said he wasn't bothered by the
low turnout.
"This isn't a pack the Norm
event like with Ignatieff last
year," he said. "We have a lot
of UBC students involved in the
campaign, so this is a chance
to get their friends out to see
Christy and hopefully sign up
as members."
Joined by former C7Vanchor
Pamela Martin, who spoke briefly to the crowd at the beginning
and end of the 50-minute event,
Clark gave a short speech before
taking questions from the audience. She often referenced her
time away from government as a
radio talk-show host on CKNW, a
position she took in 2007, three
years after resigning from the
Liberal cabinet and quitting provincial politics to spend more
time with her family.
"I engaged with people and
debated and discussed and
that's what's on my radio show
every single day, and I tell you,
it totally changed my perspective on how government should
work, and it changed me as a
person as well. I learned what
it feels like to feel that government is doing things to you instead of for you," she said.
Though many Clark supporters were in attendance, not everyone walked away impressed.
"She just seemed like any
typical politician," said Steve
Chang, a self-described "completely apathetic" student who
dropped in to watch the event.
"She only talked, and she only
talked about talking, and not doing. No action plan."
But others were more supportive. Ben Ralph, a fifth year
political science student, said
he was considering taking out a
$5 youth membership with the
party to support Clark.
"I liked her. I almost wished
the Q&A went on longer," he
"I liked that if she was unsure
about something she would tell
us that, she didn't try and lie to
us. She didn't try and seem sure
about something she wasn't,
which I really respect in a politician." tu 4/UBYSSEY.CA/NEWS/2011.01.27
Our chart-happy look back at this years AMS Elections
VP Academic
VP Finance
VP Admin
VP External
m   Wmm     W m MmM     m ^kM-^m\     W
Board of Governors
| % who ranked candidates
1\ % with no opinion
Percentage of voter turnout by year
Students that only voted for Jeremy
McElroy and no other candidate
Students that did the same for
Michael Moll
Students that did the same for
Omar Chaaban
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 201
Students who said everyone was
equally deserving of first place
(which effectively spoils their ballot)
Students who ranked all candidates
third (ditto)
Fall reading break debate stretches nationwide
The Cord (Wilfred Laurier
WATERLOO, Ont. (CUP) - A number of Canadian universities in
Eastern Canada are now toying
with the idea of instituting a
reading week during the fall semester in order to improve the
student experience.
Although the change has not
been without resistance at some
institutions, the overwhelming
majority of feedback regarding
the implementation ofthe week-
long break has been positive.
The student senate at Ryerson
University passed a motion on
Jan 25 to shorten their fall semester in order to make room for a
break for students. Ryerson students will experience their first
fall reading week in 2012.
"The argument can be made
that there is space for a break
because we have a longer teaching semester than most other
schools," said Liana Salvador,
vice-president education for Ry-
erson's students' union.
"So the move to 12-week semesters in order to make space for a
break is a pretty legitimate one."
What makes creating fall reading weeks difficult and unique
for every university is coming up
with the days to give students the
time off without cutting into required instructional time.
"Every institution had different realities when it came to creating [a fall reading week]," said
University of Alberta undergraduate student president Nick De-
hod, whose union is holding a
plebiscite to ensure there's student support behind beginning
fall semester at the end of August to account for the extra reading week.
University of Ottawa students
experienced their first fall reading week this past October; registrar for the university Eric Ber-
cier explained that creating the
break came through eliminating days during the fall exam
period and the special "University of Ottawa Day" and taking
one day from their orientation
week to create the week-long period mid-semester.
"It was really a combination
of finding a few days here and
there," explained Bercier.
Ray Darling, registrar at Wilfrid Laurier University, explained
that instituting a fall break has
been up for discussion at the
"There is a small committee on
campus that actually met yesterday [Jan 24]," said Darling. "When
I passed the academic dates at senate last fall, a couple of issues
came up with the fall [semester]
and one of them was the question
of a fall reading week, and the other was around orientation."
Darling explained that to create a fall reading week at Laurier — whose fall scheduling is already very tight, unlike its winter and spring counterparts —
extra days would have to be cut
and orientation week is one ofthe
places the committee is looking.
Darling explained that discussion at the meeting also turned
to implementing a long weekend
break instead of an entire week.
"Other universities, like [the
University of] Waterloo, start
their classes on the Thursday
after the Labour Day and have a
shortened orientation period, so
those are things we're looking at
for Laurier right now," said Darling, who said the committee is
in communication with groups
on campus such as Residence
Life to determine the value of a
weeklong orientation week.
"We've been happy with our
longer [orientation] period," said
Darling. "But realize we can't
have both."
Fall reading weeks are mainly being championed by student
"It's something that we were
mandated to do when we were
elected as student representatives, but also that students voted in favour of at one of our general meetings," said Salvador.
Dehod also explained that
when running for president of
his students' union, he included
lobbying for a fall reading week
on his platform.
Likewise, Bercier mentioned
that the idea of a fall reading
week at the U of O was originally brought to the university by
the students' union.
But, the reasons for the creation of a fall reading week differ depending on which institution is proposing or creating the
week-long break.
For Dehod, whose concern revolved around being more proactive about mental health initiatives in his role as the U of
A's students' union vice president of student life, a fall reading week was an important avenue to explore.
"Our student counselling services had lastyear the highest usage numbers in November so in
recognizing that February winter reading weeks are established
to deal with the mental health
there, November seemed like
another time to take a look at,"
Dehod explained.
For other institutions, the idea
of creating a break to relieve students' stress and give them the
opportunity to study is a primary concern.
"We're pushing for a fall reading week because we want students to have an opportunity to
have some time off to catch up,"
said Salvador.
No matter what the reason,
Bercier said feedback from their
instituted fall reading week has
been overwhelmingly positive.
"We're quite happy to have introduced this for students. It's a
great enhancement to the student experience and the students
were very pleased. The feedback
we received this year was very
positive." 2010.11.22/UBYSSEY.CA/SCIENCE/5
EDITOR TREVOR RECORD»features@ubyssey.ca
Code for company
How bioinformatics is changing life sciences
Science published 'Bioinformatics in the
Information Age' over a decade ago. Biology has since generated overwhelming amounts of data—whole genomes,
proteomes and other 'omes—at a rapid
pace. The new challenge has been to organize, analyze, find patterns and use
technology to improve our understanding of the world.
There are UBC staff members involved
in this area of research in almost every
department, from biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, to chemistry and
computer science. Eric Wong, a graduate
student in the bioinformatics faculty, is
on his way to publishing a paper on intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs).
This special class of proteins lacks a definite 3D structure when unbound, and
assumes different structures depending
on its binding partner.
Wong wrote computer code to predict
IDP structures. He had to analyze hundreds of proteins, which is incredibly laborious to do manually. Using his code,
Wong could distinguish IDPs automatically based on structures available in public protein databases. Having this large
collection of IDPs allows researchers to
study their other characteristics, such as
the relationship between amino acid sequences and 3D structure.
Perhaps 'writing an algorithm' seems
less glamourous than discovering a new
protein or unlocking the biochemical secrets of life. Albertina Wong, a thirdyear
computer science and microbiology and
immunology student at UBC, disagrees.
"I personally find algorithm design
interesting because of the impact it has
on our ability to be more efficient in our
analysis of large quantities of data—and
I find getting meaningful results quickly
very empowering," she explained.
But are these computational results
true to life? Every experimental science
Bioinformatics combines computer science and molecular biology. Unfortunately, robotic frogs are not a branch of bioinformatics. DAVID CHEN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/THE UBYSSEY
makes certain assumptions. Due to time,
economic, or other limitations, scientists usually work with data sets smaller than they would prefer. At the same
time, good researchers want to generalize their conclusions.
"The idea of algorithm design is to
be able to write a sequence of steps
that allows you to accomplish a task,
whether that task be putting data into
a database, or running a simulation
several thousand times to check how
trustworthyyour data set is in reality,"
Albertina said.
Computers help us organize data and
collect information faster than ever before. With so much information to process, discoveries can only be made as
quickly as their technology will allow.
Perhaps in the near future, a prerequisite for the life sciences will be programming, vl
Welcome to the
Science Supplement
Guest Editor
Robots, eternal
life, aliens and
space travel: these
are the topics of
great 1970s science fiction. But
how have we progressed in 2011?
We now live in that
future, but the tin-
can robotic voices
in old sci-fi films
usually receive fits
of laughter.
Technology developed in ways that
were unexpected. We were born in an
era of technological revolution and the
ability to process, send and study information has improved rapidly in unexpected ways. Our generation has grown
up with the ease of technology, which
is made clear each time we have to explain a new cell phone to our parents.
The hope of new science has been ever-present—a kind of momentum that
felt like it was always gaining speed.
We watched science conquer diseases
and connect the world. We've fallen asleep
on a plane in Vancouver and woken up in
Hong Kong. Science and technology have
let us explore space. Our understanding
ofthe world continually changes, and often it's hard to keep up.
Our once-future—where touchscreens
are common and our desktop background is of a galaxy far, far away—is
a good standpoint from which to see the
world to come. The discoveries of science are much like art: they hold different personal meaning to everyone. Ask
today's scientists about their subject of
expertise, and you will get not only the
technical definition but, more importantly, the human element.
The flaw of many science articles is
that they can sometimes appear impersonal and boring. Here, we will bring
the human focus back to science and
look at thepossibilities for our own sci-
fi future, vl
of computing
Apply now for Fall 2011
UBC I Department of Computer Science
5jp|5J5   bcs-info@cs.ubc.ca
Contact Giuliana (604) 822-2213
Director, UBC International Canadian Studies Centre,
is pleased to invite you and your friends to the
Brenda and David McLean Public Lecture Series in Canadian Studies by
John O'Brian
McLean Chair in Canadian Studies
Nuclear Photography, the Atomic Age, and Canada
at the Liu Institute for Global Issues (6476 NW Marine Drive)
Tuesday evenings at 7 o'clock
January 25   On Photographing a Dirty Bomb
February 1    Vox Crapulous (Reception to follow)
February 8    Picturing Nuclear Risk
John O'Brian will examine the place of photography in the
con$truction of nuclear narratives since World War II.
To what extent, he will ask, is the mushroom rloud, the meta-symbol
of the atomic age, laced with Canadian content?
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Arsenic-based alien life or bad science?
UBC Prof shows where NASA went wrong
Guest Editor
Weeks of build-up before NASA's announcement left everyone asking, 'Did they actually find alien life?' Finally on December 2, 2010, they announced that bacteria had been found that could survive in
normally toxic arsenic-rich environments.
Not only that, but the bacteria were incorporating the arsenic into their DNA,
replacing the standard phosphorus. This
means that the biological theories of alien
life could extend into new realms—where
old beliefs about what sorts of life were
possible would have to change.
The release ofthe NASA-funded study
was met with much excitement and initial acclaim. To those less familiar with
the science, it fit in. Arsenic is just below phosphorus on the periodic table,
and they share some similar properties.
Why had no one theorized this before?
The NASA study had concluded that not
only were these bacteria able to survive
in an arsenic-rich California lake, but
they had also somehow been replacing
phosphorus with arsenic—a much larger, heavier, less stable element—in their
DNA. To many, the idea of arsenic being
used in a living system is not completely impossible; what is incredibly unlikely is the use of it within a phosphorus-
based system, where it would be working in systems specifically arranged for
the much smaller element.
Then, a few days later, UBC microbiologist Dr Rosie Redfield finally sat down
to read over the article published in Science. Although initially just curious, she
soon unexpectedly found herself at the
head of a response against this study.
"I'm not an astrobiologist...but it was
just bad science," Redfield said.
After a thorough examination ofthe conclusion, methods and supplementary materials, Redfield published on her blog, RRRe-
search, the discrepancies she found. She
then posted a link on several other science
Dr Rosie Redfield discovered problems in NASA's research. KOMAILNAQVI PHOTO/THE UBYSSEY
blogs and websites discussing the event.
Her blog's view count went from a couple
dozen to hundreds in just a few days.
"I think someone would have said
something eventually," said Redfield.
"But I don't think it would have happened
as quickly if I hadn't."
Where did the research go wrong? Red-
field explained that the DNA extraction
and spectrometry used to determine
which elements were present was flawed.
In a process called electrophoresis, the
bacterial DNA—freshly separated from its
arsenic-rich growth solution—was loaded
into a gel-like square. The process separates the individual strands of DNA as
a current passes through them so they
can be individually processed.
What happened next baffled Redfield.
Normally, the next step is to extract the
DNA and purify it in order to remove
contaminants from the gel and arsenic
solution. Instead, the researchers put the
DNA still within the gel, contaminants
and all, through a spectrometer. The results showed arsenic was present, and instead of considering the presence of arsenic in the bacteria's original solution,
the researchers said arsenic was not only
present but part of the DNA itself.
"If a student in my lab brought [the report] to me, I would send them back to the
bench to do more cleanup and controls,"
Redfield said.
Upon finding this flaw, Redfield moved
to their next finding: that the bacteria were
able to live in the arsenic-rich environment.
Arsenic is normally toxic to living things,
as it replaces vital phosphorus and doesn't
work in their systems. The Science article
had provided the researchers' two methods of measuring growth.
Bacteria were both individually counted and the level of opacity of the solution
was measured: the more cloudy, the less
light gets through, the more bacteria present—a normal method for observation of
cell growth.
Redfield looked more carefully at how
the researchers deciphered their graphs.
In the cell count graph, bacteria first multiplied and then levelled off quickly—no
more cells were growing. The cloudy graph,
however, showed that the opacity continued
to decrease as time went on—suggesting
to the authors that there were more cells.
After viewing the photos of the cells in
both the normal, phosphorus-rich and arsenic-rich solutions, Redfield found the answer.
"The pictures of the bacteria grown
with arsenate and no added phosphate
look like plump little corn kernels," Red-
field explained. "The ones grown in phosphate were much thinner."
Starved cells swell up to store energy,
and in a low-phosphorus, high-arsenic
environment, that's exactly what the bacteria did. The bigger they got, the cloudier the solution became. For some reason, the other graph, which showed the
number of cells had stopped increasing,
was ignored. Furthermore, all solutions
showed initial cell growth, even the control group that was supposed to be void
of growth-generating phosphorus. This
suggests the samples were somehow contaminated with phosphorus.
"There's a difference between controls
done to genuinely test your hypothesis
and those done when you just want to
show thatyour hypothesis is true. The authors have done some ofthe latter, but not
the former," Redfield wrote in her blog.
Redfield accidentally became the spearhead of a movement, demonstrating that
bad science is bad science, no matter who
sponsors the study. NASA has since gone
quiet, but the search for the possibility of
other life forms is moving ever forward.
The science of extraterrestrial life will
go wherever our imaginations take us,
but that doesn't mean the research methods should as well, tl
Mars on the mind
Can the human psyche handle a trip to the red planet?
In 1954, German-American rocket scientist
Werner von Braun wrote that the technical
knowledge necessary for a manned mission to Mars would very soon be available.
Half a century later, astronauts have yet to
travel beyond the 400,000 kilometres separating Earth from its moon—a distance
traveled by only 24 humans in history and
by none since 1972. Last year, American
president Barack Obama sparked renewed
interest in reaching this aging milestone
when he predicted a manned US mission
to orbit the red planet by the mid-2030s.
Still, a number of hurdles keep Mars,
which at its closest orbits 55 million kilometres from Earth, out of reach. Most of
the barriers are technical, though some
have also questioned whether astronauts
could handle the psychological stresses
that the estimated 17 month round-trip
would impose.
Seven male astronauts were sealed inside a mock spaceship last June to test the
effects of long-term space travel. When
they finally leave after 520 days, they'll
find themselves in the same Moscow facility that they started out in, but $100,000
US richer and slightly older. This experiment is the final phase of a Russian project
dubbed the 'Mars 500,' the longest simulation so far of the tedium, stress and isolation expected during the long flight to Mars.
Some scientists dismiss the idea of
manned space exploration altogether, arguing that the expense and risk to human
life are not justified when relatively cheap
robotic probes are so readily available.
Even von Braun had doubts: "Can a
man retain his sanity while cooped up
with many other men in a crowded area
for more than 30 months?" he said. "Little mannerisms—the way a man cracks
his knuckles, blows his nose, the way he
grins, talks or gestures—might create
tension or hatred leading to murder."
Though no homicides have been recorded in the shorthistory of space travel, there
have been examples of missions that ran
into trouble. In 1982, a then-record-breaking 211-day Soviet mission to the Salyut 7
space station passed by in tense silence
after the two cosmonauts had a disagreement shortly after launch. And in 1999, a
Russian mission got out of hand during
a New Year's Eve celebration when an argument between two crewmen devolved
into a bloody brawl. Shortly afterwards,
another crew member forcibly kissed the
only woman on board, Canadian astronaut Judith Lapierre. Ironically, that 240-
day mission in Moscow took place inside
a fake spaceship as part of a project looking at the impact of space travel on human
mental health and behaviour.
UBC psychologist Peter Suedfeld said
that such incidents are actually quite rare.
"Astronauts are selected very carefully,
and space agencies ensure that the crew
train, travel and even live together," he
says. "It's rare for things to go wrong once
a mission is underway."
Episodes like the 1999 Russian mission are often a product of improper
training, he said, "Though in that particular case, the main problem was that
the Russians were drunk."
That may explain why most scientific
voyages to the Antarctic are nowadays
kept dry. This, says UBC oceanographer
Brian Hunt, means that people must devise more creative means of retaining
sanity during the long months at sea.
"People like to organize events—movie
nights, talent shows or playing music for
each other," says Hunt, a veteran of eight
polar voyages. "It's important to have something to look forward to outside ofthe work."
Along with women and vodka, events are
another thing that the astronauts sealed
in the Mars 500 space capsule won't have.
UBC astronomy professor Jaymie Matthews
says he harbours mixed feelings about the
future of manned space flight.
"You could learn a lot more about Mars,
a lot faster and a lot cheaper with robotic exploration," he admitted. "However,
I would likely be a different person had
it not been for the years in which I grew
up—watching an epic of human space exploration unfold during the Apollo missions. Yes, part of me would really love
to see people go to Mars; but the reasons
aren't really scientific."
If we're going to watch humans travel
to Mars by the 2030s, a number of technological, financial and political obstacles must be overcome. While we're waiting, seven guys in a Moscow research
centre will be working out whether astronauts are ready for the psychological
challenges that lie ahead. XI 2011.01.27/UBYSSEY.CA/SCIENCE/7
Worlds collide at the LHC: the future of particle physics research
Guest Editor
It hasn't destroyed the world yet, but the
Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has more to
be proud of than the obvious.
The LHC has been generating unprecedented positive results since its restart
in November 2009. The future of particle physics is at the heart of our understanding ofthe universe, and thisyear's
results have excited many in the field.
"The Higgs is central to the entire
structure ofthe standard model [of particle physics]," explained Dr David Morrissey, a theoretical physicist at Vancouver's own TRIUMF cyclotron. "It generates the masses of most of the elementary particles, and it is responsible for
making the weak force much weaker
than electromagnetism."
The often discussed Higgs boson, the
missing particle in the standard model
of particle physics, is one possible finding those behind the LHC hope to make
or discredit. Its predicted function is to
explain the divide between electromagnetism and weak force, but that's not the
only enticing aspect of this particle. Finally finishing a model that has been developing for years would help humanity
better understand the universe's roots,
and thus our own.
"If the Higgs exists, itwouldlead to the
discovery of other [new] exotic particles,"
said Morrissey. "On the other hand, ruling
out the existence of a Higgs within that
mass range would tell us that we need
to seriously rethink our description of
the fundamental constituents of nature."
The Higgs particle is at the very centre ofthe excitement. It is, so far, the best
candidate for explaining super-synchrony the phenomenon where particles go
from mass-less on one side to massive,
according to UVic physics and astronomy professor Robert McPherson, a TRIUMF researcher and spokesperson for
ATLAS Canada. McPherson represents
the ATLAS particle detector that TRIUMF
has helped build and research.
"We have about 20 years of precise
measurements...of the properties of Z-
bosons, W-bosons and the interactions
of electrons, protons and atoms," said
McPherson. "The results of these measurements depend critically on the existence of the Higgs Boson, and can even
be used to predict its mass."
CERN announced that one experiment has already yielded surprising
results. While colliding protons, research teams have created plasma fireballs, which have been seen before with
larger particles but were never expected with tiny protons. Results like these
generate new theories, and that is exactly why the LHC holds so much potential. McPherson has worked with
ATLAS and the LHC for years, and is a
firm supporter of the Higgs explanation. McPherson is patiently awaiting
the LHC's, and in particular ATLAS's,
future findings.
The Higgs particle's signal, if it does
exist, should be picked up within a range
of 200 GeV by detectors on the LHC ring.
This sounds simple enough, with detectors as advanced and sensitive as ATLAS.
However, the amount of static generated
by stronger known particles makes removing the Higgs signal from the background formidable.
The goal of ATLAS, and other detectors on the LHC, is to collect as much
data from Higgs-less collisions as possible. This information can be combined and, using advanced statistics,
compared to collisions where the probability of Higgs creation is higher. Using subtraction, they can remove the
background signals from the potential
Higgs signal.
If a Higgs event does occur, it'll remain
branched across the detector field, and
the celebrating can begin.
"If the LHC continues to work as well in
2011 and 2012 as it did in 2010, we will
have the data to see the standard model Higgs Boson of any allowed mass by
the end of 2012," McPherson explained.
Applications of these findings don't
just end with the discoveries. The technology developed for particle physics
has already given rise to the internet,
communications technology and medical technology.
Using the TRIUMF lab alone, chemists
work on testing semi-conductors, developing medical isotopes for certain types
of medical screening and administering
medical treatments. The lab even builds
units and develops radiopharmacueti-
cals for PET scanners, which help doctors detect brain tumors and psychologists do research.
Dr Isabel Trigger, researcher at TRIUMF and member of ATLAS Canada, sees
the widespread impacts of particle physics research daily at her workplace. She
explained that ailing patients suffering
from rare eye tumors even get referred
to TRIUMF to have them blasted by proton beams from the cyclotron. This procedure has a 90 per cent success rate at
curing this rare condition.
TRIUMF itself is looking to the future,
with the construction of a brand new electron linear accelerator that will be finished in 2014. The exciting new accelerator will extend the institute's research
capabilities and provide neutron-rich isotopes to complement their current production of proton-rich isotopes for research and medicine.
"It will provide an additional rare isotope beamline for the ISAC (Isotope Separator and Accelerator) experiments, allowing us to run twice as many of these
concurrently, extracting much more science from our existing facilities," Trigger said.
The benefits of having a more concise
understanding of our universe go beyond
the technological uses and philosophical
meaning. A repeating mantra at TRIUMF
is the impact of graduates and their impact on society at large.
"Canadian students, trained in this
environment, return to Canada to fill essential roles in business and industry. A
minority remain in academia while most
end up in the private sector, becoming
science and technology business leaders
of tomorrow," McPherson said.
Whether it's changing our world technologically or fundamentally, the LHC
has high hopes when it begins relaunching particles after winter maintenance.
McPherson and TRIUMF will be close at
hand, waiting for results.
"It is my profound hope that it will excite a new generation of youth about science and technology, leading to much
greater advances and deeper understanding in the future." t3
In search of a fountain of youth
Aging baby boom generation fuels developments in geroscience
The world is quickly getting older. With
the baby boomers beginning to boost
the number of seniors substantially, the
medical research world is searching for
ways to treat the ailments associated
with aging.
The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) provides federal funding
for health research. Their Institute of Aging (IA), based at UBC, claims that 2011
is the year when the number of Canadians aged 65 or older will begin rapidly
accelerating, since the first of the baby
boom generation will be retiring this
year. Their strategic plan, The Future is
AGING, predicts that, "by 2031, about one
of every four Canadians will be 6 5 years
or older. By 2056, one out of every 10 Canadians will be over 80 years of age."
As life expectancies continue to rise,
the focus of geroscience has increasingly been on improving the quality of life,
which tends to decrease as aging advances. One area which has seen progress is
the field of cellular aging. Judy Wong, a
UBC assistant professor and researcher
whose laboratory researches cellular aging, uses the immune system as an example of how a person's quality of life declines as a result of this aspect of aging.
"Your immune system is full of white
blood cells that constantly replenish from
stem cells, and other less differentiated
cells," said Wong. "As you age, this stem
population of cells that divide into red
and white blood cells becomes lower and
lower in number, you begin to have problems.... Ifyou imagine an older person,
when this population of cells is depleted
it becomes easier to get sick."
Wong studies telomerase, an enzyme
which can replenish telomeres, the protective DNA which is found at the end
of each chromosone. The discoverers
of telomerase, Carol W. Greider, Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak,
won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Wong explained that the telomere has
two roles: to protect the chromosones
as they divide during cellular reproduction and limit the number of times a cell can di
vide. Every time a cell
divides, some of the
telomere is lost, ultimately stopping division after a certain
number of divisions.
This sets an upper limit to how many times a
cell can divide.
Telomerase can replenish the telomeres in
cells, extending their lifespan.
However, Wong noted that in cancerous cells telomerase is over-expressed, effectively making cancer cells immortal.
"On one hand, you know that the lack
ofthe [telomerase] function is leading
tissue that doesn't have the capacity
to replace to [cells] that are lost," said
Wong. "On the other hand, you know
that indiscriminately increased enzyme activity leads to other problems,
of which cancer is
the perfect example.  What you're
looking for is a happy medium; how to
regulate the activity
without having it run
away on you."
Wong said that the
telomere suppression
can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer, adding there is potential in the future for
telomere biology to be used in clinical
applications ranging from skin grafts to
blood vein reconstruction. However, the
uptake of telomerase in a clinical setting
is something that is still being worked on.
Telomeres appear at the ends of chromosomes, protecting them during cell
division and limiting the number of times
that they can divide.
"There are a number of things that
have to be done," she said. "Whether it
is doing more harm than good, whether
it is doing what it is supposed to, whether it lasts the test of time."
There is a company that offers
a product that they claim does increase telomerase production. New
York-based TA Sciences has been selling TA-65, which is made from a Chinese herb called Astragalus, since
2008. The herbal pills were originally sold as a $25,000 per year package, with a regimen of blood testing every three months. TA Sciences Chairman Noel Patton said UBC
Professor Peter Lansdorp performed
part of this, to check for telomere
length. Some low-dosage pill packages without testing are now sold
for $200 per month.
Enviropig: the other (genetically modified) white meat
Are consumers kept in the loop on their genetically modified food?
A genetically modified Yorkshire pig
may soon be available in your grocery
store. Dr. Cecil Forsberg, Professor
Emeritus at the University of Guelph,
has co-invented the Enviropig: an animal which, according to its website,
has the "capability of digesting plant
phosphorus more efficiently than conventional Yorkshire pigs."
While genetically modified plants have
been on the market since 1993, the genetic engineering of animals hasn't been approved yet. But are GM products, in particular animals, dangerous?
Lucy Sharratt, coordinator for the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
(CBAN), says you should not only worry
about what is in your food, but also the
commercialization of GMO foods.
"We need to look at the current reality of genetic engineering, and see that it
comes from an agenda of corporate profits and not a public mandate or interest,"
said Sharratt.
Forsberg, meanwhile, believes that
"Whereas everyone is getting ill from
[regular] hamburger disease and bacterial infections," GM foods have been shown
in studies to be harmless to humans.
According to Sharratt, if Enviropig
were approved, the Guelph University
pig would become the first genetically
modified animal approved for human
It raises the question of whether we
can trust regulators to make the right
decision for consumers and pork farmers. Sharratt believes Health Canada is
unable to make a non-biased opinion.
"There's no labelling, democracy
or transparency on this issue for consumers," said Sharratt. "All ofthe science behind the products on the shelf
is corporate science, and [consumers] don't have access to any of that
science. It is corporately owned, and
it's kept confidential."
Forsberg sympathizes with these complaints about the Canadian regulatory
system: "It is quite true that it is confidential," he said, "[but] that is something
we cannot change."
And while Forsberg also rebuked any
criticism that suggested the University
of Guelph was not following the rules
set out by the Canadian government,
he does wish to see the current system reformed.
"In the US, there is a comment period where people have access to the
data," said Forsberg, who is in favour of
a more open process within the Canadian regulatory process. "We are not trying to hide anything—I think you can
put a lot of trust in the regulatory agency in Canada."
The Enviropig faces further concerns
than just its marketing. Even the labeling
of GM foods has become a contentious issue. According to Dr Forsberg, the problem with labeling foods from genetically modified plants is due to the inability to detect a difference from naturally
occurring plants.
"There is just no way of tracing the oil
from transgenic crops because they're
identical—so you can't label," said Forsberg. However, when it comes to the Enviropig, he and Guelph University would
welcome such labeling on their product.
"I would have nothing against labeling [Enviropig] as transgenic, because we
Enviropig may be the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption. Note that the above pig is an illustration, not
would be delighted to see our Enviropig go
out and have itlabeled as Enviropig pork."
Besides the political obstacles facing the labeling of GMO foods, Sharratt
said there is a more pressing concern:
our safety. According to her, little to no
independent research is currently being conducted on the safety of genetic
"There [are] very few independently
funded, peer reviewed, scientific studies that look at specific health questions
about genetically engineered foods,"
she said.
Although UBC Botany Professor Emeritus Ian Taylor understands that the criticism levelled by Sharratt and others is
important, he feels it is ultimately overemphasized. Taylor believes the media
and other organizations shouldbe suspicious of someone who proclaims, "it's
peer reviewed and therefore it is somehow magically truthful."
He added that the peer review process only involves academics within
their specific field verifying the specific research—but the research itself is
rarely absolute and frequently altered
by later studies.
Fears aside, what role would a product like the Enviropig assume in our
society? According to Sharratt, the difference between genetically modified
crops and animals and biotechnology advancements in medicine can be
determined through their social use.
"The use of animal products in medicine is the introduction of a technology
that has a social use," said Sharratt. "The
introduction of genetic engineering for
food...is the introduction of genetic engineering that has no social use."
Sharratt believes the push for genetically engineered animals is coming
from small, rogue companies or university research departments that have no
public mandate. In her view, this mandate has allowed universities to develop unnecessary scientific advancements
for specific industries—in this case, the
pork industry.
"This is why we see genetically engineered pigs from the University of
Guelph," she said.
The main contention between CBAN
and Guelph on research ethics is the university's combined use of public funding
along with a grant from Ontario Pork
(the Ontario hog producers association)
for the sole purpose of creating a product that the university intends to sell
"Universities are taking public research and then they're commercializing that research," said Sharratt.
"Universities have established [business] offices with the sole purpose
of bringing university research into
This corporate business aspect is lost
on the University of Guelph. David Hob-
son, the manager of technology transfer
within Guelph's Business Development
Office, reiterated his office's mandate
with the Enviropig: "My current focus is
to find an industry receptor that would
like to take the project from its current
state (research) and attempt to bring it
to the market."
Forsberg, meanwhile, said the allegations by CBAN lacked credibility. According to him, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council along with
local governments have emphasized and
encouraged universities to move towards
commercialization of their research, in
order to gain additional revenues and
"It's a standard practice," he said. "[Universities] cannot do research without receiving money from an organization." For
the Enviropig, the research was funded
through a contract with Ontario Pork.
"Our funding has come from contract funding from Ontario Pork," said
Forsberg. "They don't have any research
arm themselves, so they contract out
for their research and most of it is in
Taylor calls the symptom of this commercialization in university research "inventor syndrome." He describes this as
being when inventors, usually at the behest of their universities or employers,
proclaim their invention to be good for
all humanity—or as he puts it: "I invented it, and therefore it's used for the good
of humanity, and therefore it's good, because I said so."
However, Taylor noted, we have to understand why universities are so defensive and organizations like CABNN are
so critical.
"Ifyou invented something," said Taylor, "and you start to develop, put money into [the invention]—suddenly you become very biased. And equally, the response to bias...is another bias in the opposite direction, probably more extreme
and less rational."
If the Enviropig hits shelves, it would
open the market for more research and
more GMO products. So are genetically modified products safe? Does anyone
know? Taylor doesn't.
"They don't tell us that sort of thing." tl
Patton, now 65, said that he embarked
on a fountain-of-youth quest when he
turned 50 and noticed his health began to decline.
"I heard a professor, Jerry Shey who
is a telomere expert, give a talk where
he mentioned that... with telomer-
ase, telomeres can be restored," said
Patton. "To me that sounded like the
ultimate anti-aging theory, so after
his theory I asked him, 'How can I
do something about my telomeres?'"
This led Patton to come to a license
agreement with the Geron Corporation.
He said that from there, his company began testing TA-65 for five years, and that
TA-65 pills had been found to lengthen
the shortest telomeres. "The shortest are
the ones that count," said Patton.
In addition to increased telomere length,
the company lists anecodtal evidence of improved energy, sexual performance, memory, vision and appearance of skin, hair
and nails. Wong said that there is some evidence linking TA-65 to increased telom-
erase production, although this has been
limited to a few studies.
"It holds some truth to it," said Wong.
"[TA-65] actually activates the enzyme
telomerase... and there is a study—and
it's not a very organized clinical study,
but a very small clinical observational
study—of giving this supplement to otherwise healthy individuals, and see if
they fare better than the general population... They just have a two-year report, so far."
TA-65 is not classified as a drug,
and therefore has not passed through
clinical trials and is unregulated. Patton said that approval processes can
take over a decade and cost hundreds
of millions, which would make TA-65
cost far more than it currently does.
Wong, however, said that she is concerned thatyou can't be certain of any
of the effects of an herbal supplement.
"Like all kinds of these supplements,
you just don't know until a very long-
term longitudinal study has been completed to understand if there is any effect," said Wong. "It's not regulated, and
they don't know what it does beyond increase telomerase. So, I wouldn't jump
out and buy it right away.
"Plus, they are charging an arm and
a leg." tl 2011.01.27/UBYSSEY.CA/CULTURE/9
SENIOR WRITER GINNY MONACO »gmonaco@ubyssey.ca
Scythia cry havoc, let slip dogs of war
After walking down a set of stairs
and following a long hallway, I arrived in the small room that is
the lair of Scythia. Within minutes, it was clear that I should
have brought earplugs.
After being bowled over by the
initial blast of sound, I felt another kind of energy. I watched lead
singer and guitarist Dave Khan
and bassist Terry Savage feed off
each other, momentarily unaware
that they were playing for an audience of four. Scythia is known to
put on a live show that fans won't
forget—few bands these days don
warrior costumes for concerts.
Fewer still sing tales of battles
past in the ancient land that is
the band's namesake.
"I want [the audience] to feel
like they are completely part of
what transpired on stage," said
Khan. "The way I see it is, the audience and the performers sort
of have a reciprocal relationship
when there's a concert going on,
and so we very much feed off of
them as they feed off of us."
The band wasn't always the
war-machine it is today. It was
started in 2008 by Khan and a
previous member, Ryan Preston,
as a joke video for a geological engineers film contest. They moved
on to play "open mics [at] Koerner's around UBC [dressed] up in
Halloween costumes."
Khan explains that Of Epic, their
newest release, will be different
Scythia are all kinds of metal. CHARLESTO PHOTO/THE UBYSSEY
than the first one as the band "was
more prepared...and [the] compositions are stronger." Not to mention the line up change since last
year. During lhe summer, a new
keyboardist, Scott Thompson, and
drummer Celine Derval—affectionately nicknamed "Nibs"—joined the
band for their fall tour. Their newest member, Morgan Zentner, may
provide the most drastic change to
the band's upcoming album. She
is a professional oboist, an instrument not typically found in metal
bands but one which can bring a
"diverse [and] melodic" sound to
the mix, she said.
Although one may think that
the members of Scythia are always as hardcore as they appear
on stage, it's apparently quite the
opposite. Savage, a member of
the UBC branch of Alpha Delta
Phi, may believe that "the music
of today has fallen to crap" and
instruct his fraternity brothers
on metal, but Thompson is a polka fan. Nibs listens to a "wide variety of music..from meditation
music to Judas Priest."
Ultimately, the band would
like to travel the world playing
in places like "Japan, Australia
[and] Europe ... and have someone else pay for it," said Khan.
This summer's tour won't take
them overseas—but it will take
them to many festivals across
If you'd like to see them play
live sooner than this summer,
Scythia's upcoming concert is
at The Rickshaw Theatre on February 18, with another at Funky
Winker Beans on February 26. "u
He ain't slippin': UBC MC Slippery Elm       music
"Bards, and these poets, the fi-
lis, were very prominent in early Irish society," says Geordie
Mclntyre Kennedy. "They were
known for spontaneous channeling of rhyme and verses off the top
of their heads, and being the voice
ofthe people, the chroniclers and
remembrancers ofthe tribe. Basically like an ancient MC."
Kennedy, aka Slippery Elm,
can't pinpoint when his passion
for Pagan Irish culture and his
love of hip-hop intersected. But
when he was 17, his friend Astro-
Logical, aka Nate Drobner, sent
him some beats he had produced
and Kennedy decided to try his
hand at the bardic tradition.
Slippery and AstroLogical
partnered under the name Satyr and released The Genesis,
a self-produced LP, in January
2009. Shortly, the two teamed up
with fellow classmate A-Ro, aka
Armando Hernandez, to form
the hip-hop collective Elekwent
Folk. Their album Folk Fest was
self-released in October of the
same year.
Since then, the group has
lined up a re-release of the LP
through former Organized Kon-
fusion member Prince Po's label
Nasty Habits. The record has, for
the moment, no set drop date. In
the meantime, Slippery Elm and
AstroLogical have collaborated
on an EP, Milky Ways (And Other
Slippery Galactic Phenomenon),
Slippery Elm: Terminal city dreamin'. GEOFF LISTER PHOTO/THE UBYSSEY
released through Jellyfish Recordings. The label, founded by Vancouver beatmaker Headspace, is
in its infancy, and for the time being, every one of its releases—including Milky Ways—is available
for free online.
Slippery's rapping on Milky
Ways features a dense, rhythmic flow and metaphysical subject matter—all of which harkens
back to the Golden Age MCs from
which he claims inspiration (A
Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul,
Pharcyde and People Under the
Stairs all came up in The Ubyssey's conversation with Slippery).
AstroLogical's funky beats and
shimmering production, coupled with Slippery's cosmic vocabulary, bring to mind Del tha
Funkee Homo Sapien and the Hieroglyphics crew.
"When I tell people I'm an MC,
sometimes I get some weird comments, or people don't get it right
away. They think that I'm all about
bitches andho's or whatever, and
it's not about that at all," said Kennedy. "They don't realize that it's
something really artistic."
One of the biggest barriers to
the formation of Slippery's hip-
hop persona was internal.
"The biggest thing I had to overcome was taking myself seriously," he said.
"People have all sorts of weird
views about MCs and hip-hop culture. And being white, and being
from Vancouver, not LA or New
York...[they think] an MC has to
be or look a certain way or talk
about certain things."
With Elekwent Folk, Slippery
Elm has appeared at venues on
the Mainland as well as the Gulf
Islands, performing alongside
the likes of Moka Only, Edge and
Headspace. Last year's performance at the Anza Club, organized by Vancouver culture collective Vantastic, was a "fantastic
success," Kennedy said. Plans are
in the works for an anniversary
event this February. Kennedy also
said the group may be appearing
as part of the 30:LIVE concert series at The Forum in March.
As well as writing lyrics, Slippery
pens poetry and creative non-flcton
in his spare time. And his passion
for language extends beyond English. He is enrolled in Spanish, Classical Arabic and Hunquminum at
UBC Vancouver. A new language,
like a new beat, requires a speaker
to shift their perspective.
"It's really about the things I'm
learning inspiring me and fueling my other passions. And in my
opinion, languages are one ofthe
can do...every time I walk into a
different class I have to rewire my
brain, because it's a whole different mode of thinking." va
Video interview with Scythia
Chinese New
Year falls on
lary 3,
from grand parades to fami-
I ly reunion din-
I ners will be
| taking place
Vancouver. Influenced by Vancouver's multicultural population, the vast range of fetes ringing in the Chinese New Year fall
into two categories: those which
adhere to Chinese tradition, and
the less conventional.
Zen Fine Chinese Cuisine at
2015-8580 Alexandra Road in
Richmond is an example ofthe
former. Zen was named 'The
Best Chinese Restaurant Outside
of China' by Jennifer Lee, a New
York Times contributor and author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. Their New Year menu features signature dishes prepared
specially for this holiday: aba-
lone, a sea snail, served in two
different styles, locally caught
fish, duck breast, yi mein noodles and shark fin soup.
"The abalone is our signature dish. We use fresh coconut and steam [the abalone] in
bamboo for six hours," said Gordon Jeeves, Zen Cuisine's restaurant director. "During the last
40 minutes [we steam it] with
poached quail and winter melon squash."
Vancouver is also home to
an array of cultural traditions
which have fused over the years
to create distinctly west coast Canadian traditions. One of these
celebrations is the Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dinner—Chinese New
Year meets Robbie Burns Day.
The founder of this event, former SFU student Todd Wong,
says that the event started when
he was approached by the recreation department at SFU in 1998.
"[Originally], I was asked to help
create the festival to help bring
Asian students into the university's Scottish traditions."
"Part of it is that we want to
have a positive world and how
we live together in this intercultural and multiracial environment," said Wong.
"This year's theme is Happa-
Canadians, which means half-
Asian [Canadians]." One way
this happa theme is incorporated into the supper is through fusion food, centered on the Scottish haggis.
"We prepare deep fried haggis wonton mixed with shrimp
or pork and haggis pork sumai
dumplings," explained Wong.
"We serve one pound haggis at
the same time as Chinese lettuce
wrap and encourage guests to
put haggis in the [lettuce] wrap
with hoisin sauce." tl
Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner
takes place at Floata Chinese Restaurant at 400-180 Keefer Street.
Student tickets are $54.50 for a
ten course meal, available at the
FirehallArts Centre. For more information, check out gunghag-
gis.com. 10/U BYSSEY. CA/G AMES/2011.01.27
6 2
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8 9
6 5
© 2008 PageFilfer Ltd and Associates www.pagetiller.com
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Submit your comics
to our website at
ubyssey. cal volunteer I
-0Wr<loes >«.'
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Vet/ PteoSt. cAake
Now Accepting Applications for September 2011.
The Master of Public Policy at The School of Public Policy is an intensive twelve-month, course-based
graduate degree for individuals interested or engaged in the hands-on business of public policy
analysis and practice.
Located at the University of Calgary, this is one of the most practical and robust public policy degree
programs in Canada. Instruction is provided by the top professionals from industry, government and
academia. Only 35 seats are available for the inaugural 2011/2012 program year. Generous tuition
offsets are available to the right students. Come gain your competitive advantage.
Learn more at www.policyschool.ca/students
Practical     Global     Focused 2011.01.27/UBYSSEY.CA/OPINIONS/ll
DO YOU CARE? WRITE US A LETTER»feedback@ubyssey.ca
Like weeks celebrating certain faculties and failed
resolutions to go to the Bird Coop, the second semester brings the annual discussion over tuition
increases to campus.
Much of the conversation focuses on domestic
rates. Thankfully, the provincial government and
university have been content to raise rates by two
per cent for manyyears. The same proposal is on
the table for thisyear too. Frankly, a $100 increase
(the approximate annual hike for an undergrad student) isn't much at all, and while there's a debate to
be had on the general affordability of post-secondary education, it should be directed to the provincial government and their tax rates, not universities that need to balance their budgets.
The real crime is how international students are
treated as piggy banks to balance the budget. More
troubling, there's no guarantees that their rates will
remain stable. It's resulted in increases of four per
cent most years, along with periodic hikes to support construction on campus). It's not necessarily
fair, but because of their small numbers and lack
of lobby groups, their financial issues—often much
larger than those of domestic students—go under-
reported. When your tuition is already high, those
increases are no small chunk of change. International undergraduate students outside of commerce
pay $21,118 for a 30-credit course load. It's the third
highest in Canada (second ifyou're in Arts) and the
combination ofthe cost and the uncertainty is a major obstacle for students.
That, however, looks to be changing. At least the
uncertainty part. UBC has released its first estimates for tuition increases, and while international tuition will go up four per cent, there's also the
guarantee that future hikes for current students
will only be two per cent. Cost certainty, in other
words. Students already here will be able to budget accordingly, and the number of families forced
into lose-lose budgetary choices should be lower.
We applaud UBC's move, but forgive us for wondering: what took them so long? vl
Last Friday's movie beer garden in the Norm
proved that for many of our generation, Anchorman is a defining film. But to those of us in attendance, we couldn't help but shake our heads,
and mutter sadly, "It was no Space Jam."
Hear us out. Please.
You may be wondering how we can claim that
this 1996 Looney Toons/NBA mashup is the cultural touchstone that defines our generation. But
search your soul, and ask yourself for whom else
could this film have been made but for us?
It is hard to imagine how Space Jam was made, if
you consider the script. The Looney Toons are forced
to play a game of basketball against a race of aliens,
facing enslavement if they lose. In response, they
kidnap Michael Jordan while he is playing a round
of golf. Was this a feverdream of arcadia projected into our collective memories as we slumbered?
Nay, this film was very real.
The movie's web site, which delightfully har-
kens back to the era of GeoCities, can still be accessed. The soundtrack may just be the counterpart to Nevermind that best explains the 90s. And
ifyou look in your parents' basement, you're very
likely to find a t-shirt or plastic cup with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan on it.
Still not convinced? Just consider the ending sequence of the film, and ask who, if not you, it could
have been constructed for.
After Jordan and the Looney Toons defeat the
Monstars (with some timely help from Bill Murray), a stadium filled with minor-league baseball
fans chants for Jordan, who has been missing for
days, to appear. Suddenly, a spaceship appears on
the horizon and touches down on the field. Wayne
Knight, best known as Newman on Seinfeld, emerges from the vehicle and says to the thousands in attendance, as only he can, "Ladies and gentlemen:
Michael Jordan." As the revered sports icon steps
out of the vessel, R Kelly's breakout hit "I Believe I
Can Fly" begins to play. Jordan decides to return to
the world of professional basketball the next day (or
scene). And we, the audience, salute a reality that
may only exist on filin, but touches the most real
depths of our hearts. 1U
Improving Afghan schools a difficult equation
One ofthe most enduring cliches about
Afghanistan is that of the relatively
cosmopolitan city dwellers waging
battle against the illiterate, impoverished and violent rural Afghans.
Like all cliches, it contains a germ of
truth wrapped in layers of false and
offensive stereotypes. But on my second day in Afghanistan, I took a trip
to a village school which ensured that
I would never subscribe to the false
dichotomy of backward rural Afghans
rebelling against the urban elites.
The truth is that Afghan villagers are
among the most vulnerable and hardest-hit of the Taliban's victims. Yes,
there are definitely some villages where
secular education is shunned and the
culture dictates that women are to remain uneducated and hidden from public view. But you will find many more
where schools closed down under Taliban rule have been reopened since
2001, and there is an insatiable demand
for teachers and resources to educate
the boys and girls who live in the area.
Kalakan district is one of these places, and it's where I travelled to on that
second morning. I was with my friend
and colleague Lauryn Oates, and a
young Afghan girl who would serve
as our translator. Kalakan is about
45 minutes north of Kabul, accessible through a paved, twisty and busy
highway. When we eventually pulled
off the road and into the small lot,
there was a crowd of Afghans waiting
outside the school to greet us.
Lauryn is the Projects Director for
the development charity Canadian
Women for Women in Afghanistan,
and in Kalakan they are running a
teacher certification course that has
been wildly popular. Most teachers in Afghanistan are doing their
jobs without any resources or proper
training; often they have been barely educated themselves. This program brings them up to a much higher standard, and is officially recognized by the Afghanistan Ministry of
Education. In the Kalakan area they
originally planned for 500 teachers
to go through the course, but they
had to expand to 1500 to fulfill the
demand as nearby villages asked to
participate. Today, we were going to
see the certificate ceremony for one
group of teachers.
After we arrived, we sat for a half
hour in the principal's office, drinking tea while he and Lauryn talked
through the translator. "You must
keep doing this, please," the principal
told her with an earnest and urgent
look. "It's not money that we need. It's
books, it's more trainers. We need science lab equipment."
"We're trying," Lauryn responded.
"We're fundraising in Canada. We're
doing the best we can." Above her
head on the wall was an astronomy
chart written inDariand English. The
schoolhouse has no plumbing or heat
for the winter and the classrooms are
sparsely furnished, but there were new
books on the shelves and educational
posters tacked on the walls. These are
the things that give you hope.
During the ceremony, which took
place inside one of the classrooms,
one of the teachers stood up to give
a speech on behalf of the group. "Education is the only chance our country has for peace. All Afghans thank
you for whatyou are doing to help us.
But we need science books, we need
chemistry books." I was surprised by
the emphasis on science equipment,
but Lauryn told me she hears it everywhere she goes. It's much harder to get
proper lab equipment than it is to get
books (although good textbooks can
be hard to get too), and few Afghans
have ever had the chance to conduct
experiments and learn about even the
most basic scientific theories.
For me, being in this room exploded the myth that rural Afghans are
a tribal, backwards people only interested in religious education—although I never much believed in it
anyway. You will sometimes hear rural Afghans discussed as if they are
completely alien, as if being brutally
impoverished extinguishes the desire
for knowledge. In fact, I firmly believe
that their lack of freedom to learn and
teach in recentyears has made these
rural Afghans care much more about
education than most Canadians do.
But they face at least three foes in
this endeavour. First, and obviously,
is the Taliban, who burn down hundreds of schools every year. Earlier
this month, officials in the violent
southern province of Helmand estimated that 80 per cent of schools
are currently not operating because
of security threats. The second is the
lack of infrastructure and remote locations of many villages; getting supplies and trained teachers to these
schools is extremely difficult. Third
is the notoriously corrupt and incompetent Ministry of Education; nothing
gets done in a timely fashion without
large bribes, and sometimes not even
then. There are also theocrats in the
Ministry who enforce oppressive rules
against female students.
The bright side is that if the people
of a village believe in education strongly enough, they will go to extraordinary lengths to keep their schools running. During my trip I interviewed
Shah Gul Rezayee, a female Member
of Parliament from Ghazni province.
She helped run a secret school while
the Taliban were in power, which both
boys and girls from her village attended. "We were successful because the
people ofthe village supported it," she
said. "The school was hidden from the
Taliban, but never from the people."
If Rezayee had been caught running
the school, she would certainly have
been executed.
As we were driving back from our
visit to the Kalakan school, Lauryn and
I talked about the speech that the man
gave during the ceremony. "There are
so many people who lecture me about
imposing 'Western science' and secular education as if it was a value that
only we hold," she said, looking out
the window at the spartan countryside. "I wish they could have been in
that room today, and heard him speak.
Then they might understand." XtJ
This is part two of an ongoing feature
on education in Afghanistan. 12/UBYSSEY.CA/OURCAMPUS/2011.01.27
we need your input
In keeping with our vision for a complete, sustainable community on campus, UBC is developing a Water
Action Plan and a Waste Action Plan to better manage water and waste on campus - and we want your input.
Please join us at one, or both, of the upcoming full-day planning sessions to share your ideas as a springboard for the
development of draft visions, targets and actions UBC should take to realize its goals for water and waste management.
February 8th, GSS ballroom
6371 Crescent Rd., UBC
Prepare to stay for the full day working session
Lunch will be served
February 10th, GSS ballroom
6371 Crescent Rd., UBC
Prepare to stay for the full day working session
Lunch will be served
water & waste open house
can't make it to the planning sessions?
February 22nd, MBA House
3385 Wesbrook Mall
6pm-8pm (drop-in anytime)
RSVP to the Water session by February 3rd
and to the Waste session by February 7th:
email Stefani Lu to RSVP (stefani.luraubc.ca)
More information:
sustain, ubc.ca/campus-water
a place of mind
campus sustainability


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