vendredi 11 décembre 2009

My 100 favourite songs of all-time in order

1Search Party- Wintersleep
2Red Heart – Hey! Rosetta
3Pornostartrek – Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker
4Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
5I’ll Always Be There -Roch Voisine
6Naïve – the Kooks
7Old Man – Neil Young
8The Con – Tegan and Sara
9Heaters – Ill Scarlett
10Lazy Eye – Silver Sun Pickups
11Coney Island – The First Ship
12Jesus Christ – Brand New
13The Grace – Neverending White Lights feat. Dallas Green
14Seaside - The Kooks
15If You Could Read my Mind – Johnny Cash (cover)
16You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
17I Will Follow You into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie
18Only – Nine Inch Nails
19Dead Disco – Metric
20Les étoiles filantes - Cowboys Fraignants
21Time After Time – Machete Avenue (cover)
22That Song – Big Wreck
23When it Rains – Paramore
24Your Ex-Lover is Dead – Stars
25Beast of Burden – The Rolling Stones
26Dans un spoutnik – Daniel Bélanger
27Frequencies – The Junction
28Hymne à l’Amour – Edith Piaf/Josh Groban
29Santa Monica – Theory of A Deadman
30The Other Man - Sloan
31Saeglopur – Sigur Ros
32This Time – August Rush Soundtrack
33New American Classic – Taking Back Sunday
34Bobcaygeon – The Tragically Hip
35The Cycle – Distant Society
36Beautiful - Garbage
37Constellations – Jack Johnson
38Bolero – Maurice Ravel
39Kurt Vonnegut – Born Ruffians
40I Wanna Make It With Chu – Queens of the Stone Age
41Your Body is a Wonderland – John Mayer
42Made of Stone – Spiral Beach
43Cocaine Cowgirl – Matt Mays and El Torpedo
44Take Me Back – Story of the Year
45I Alone - Live
46Breaking the Girl – Red Hot Chili Peppers
47Maybe I’m Wrong – Blues Traveler
48Seashell - Seabear
49Wish You Were Here - Incubus
50The Good Left Undone – Rise Against
51Mon ange – Éric Lapointe
52Postcards from Italy - Beirut
53The Wolves (Act I & II) – Bon Iver
54Coalmine – Armchair Cynics
55Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads
56Young Leaves – Attack in Black
57Stoned – Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
58The Hurricane – Bob Dylan
59Breakfast at Tiffany’s – The Ramones
60Astronaute – Damien Robitaille
61Hélène – Roch Voisine
62Freedom – Paul McCartney
63In a Cave - Tokyo Police Club
64Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole – Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker
65Sleep Now in the Fire – Rage Against the Machine
66Cherry - Ratatat
67Little Bit – Lykki Li
68Montréal -40 - Malajube
69Typical – Mute Math
70Ghost of You – My Chemical Romance
71Synthia – FM Belfast
72Somewhere Only We Know - Keane
73Je l’aime à mourir – Francis Cabrel
74Le Disko – Shiny Toy Guns
75Cocaine – Strata
76Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
77Steady As She Goes – The Raconteurs
78Tales from the Vienna Woods – Johann Strauss
79Blood on Our Hands – Death From Above 1979 (Justice Remix)
80Like a Prayer – Madonna
81Loyal to No One – Dropkick Murphy’s
82In the End – Linkin Park
83Big Change – Slave to the Square Wave
84The Motions – Subb
85Dusting Down the Stars – Mobile
86Gong – Sigur Rós
87Juste Pour Voir le Monde – La Chicane
88Ooh Ohh – Daniel Wesley
89King Without a Crown - Matisayhu
90Tribute – Tenacious D
91Robot Rock – Daftpunk
92In View – The Tragically Hip
93Dis tout sans rien dire – Daniel Bélanger
94Brand New Low – Treble Charger
95Boom Boom Boom – John Lee Hooker
96Þú komst með hjartan í mér – Hjaltalín
97Tell All Your Friends – Projet Orange
98Radio Nowhere – Bruce Springsteen
99In the Shadows – The Rasmus
100Meant to Live – Switchfoot

lundi 7 décembre 2009

No, Virginia - The existence of Santa Claus et al.

In 1897, the New York Sun published an editorial proclaiming the existence of Santa Claus, answering the written prayer of a young girl named Virginia O’Hanlon. It announced that indeed there was a Santa Claus and that her friends were wrong as they: “have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age”.

Of course, this reassurance of an 8 year old has been taken seriously by many a child and an adult since then. What danger is incurred by believing in Santa Claus to explain the appearance of gifts on Christmas morn? None, really. Eventually the child or the adolescent will figure out that the parents have been placing these presents under the tree and that they have paid for them despite any financial difficulties they may have. It will become logical that this was all a noble lie that has become apart of the North American consumer culture.

This is not very different than another illogical “truth” most parents impose upon their children at a young age. It is entirely related, as it demonstrated in the 1947 and 1994 films “Miracle on 34th Street” when judge Harper proclaims while rendering his verdict on the case that: “If the government of the United States can have faith in God by telling its treasury to indicate on its bills “In God we Trust”, then by the same faith, the State of New York can trust that Santa Claus, a person just as invisible and yet, just as present, does exist and he exists in the person of Kris Kringle”.

By this logic, when children do discover that Santa Claus does not exist, why do they not realize the same thing about God?

For one thing, people do not put the same insistence on the existence of God. We aren’t supposed to learn anything from jolly old St. Nick whereas we are supposed to base on lives on this unreachable deity named God. The bearded man in red comes once a year, while the other is, according to many religious people, ever present. But what does he give us? I see no presents, no gifts, no rewards.

On that point alone it is easier to believe in Santa Claus because we can see the fruit of his works, whereas the concepts which are brought to us by God are intangible: love, morality, peace, comfort. It has hard, possibly impossible, to know if God brings these to us especially considering the world in which we live.

The editorial response to Virginia could interchange Santa Claus and God and be the exact answer modern Christians could give. Yet, we know that Santa Claus does not exist, so why would the same words be used to describe something people invest everything into? Is it fair to their intelligence?

The author of the answer says: “The most real things in the world are things that neither children nor men can see.” What makes them real? Nothing.

Society has so fully immersed itself into religious belief that it sees itself too far in to take a real look and live through logic. Is it too hard to believe in the power of humans ourselves? Are we not strong enough by ourselves to give gifts at Christmas or love each other? Not strong enough to be born, live and die by natural causes?

jeudi 3 décembre 2009

There are Other Ways...

Seamus Wolfe’s recent suggestion that there be political parties permitted in SFUO elections scares many people. Of course, running as a slate when it is against the rules or having slates under the current functioning is bad, but let me tell you of another way.
Last year, I, a little GeeGee on exchange at the University of Iceland, got involved in their student council elections and I can tell you they are light-years ahead of us precisely because of the party system. There are two parties, Vaka and Röskva, which compete in the annual elections. Elections are not limited to these two parties, but they have been around for a long time and represent the essential differences in visions of a student council: Vaka wants to focus on student affairs on campus while Röskva focuses on everything relating to being a student like getting a free bus pass or something like that.

Of course, my bias is towards Röskva because I was a candidate in the elections for them. Sound strange that someone who was going home in two months could be elected? Well, each party puts up 18 candidates for the student council and there are 9 places in total to be divided for the parties which are divided according the percentage of vote received. Usually it is split 4 and 5. This combines with the 9 people who were elected the year before. If the winning party changes, one of the students elected the previous year loses their seat and the student from the other party takes it. All of this means that the winning party has 10 seats, the other party 8. Like in the SFUO, there are different committees and issues and these are formed by the members of the student council – even the losing party getting to chair a committee or two like student affairs, university affairs and family affairs (because many students are also parents in Iceland).

There are many advantages to all of this. The way I got involved was that they wanted an international student to see what international students thought could be done to improve the student council so I went around asking people what they thought was needed. I came up with various ideas and it was all put together into a whole platform. Röskva was fighting for quicker visas for international students, keeping the free bus passes (that’s right, they have them because the student council fought for them) and not having classes past 5 because day cares are closed and it makes life difficult for the parents. Even having better and more vegetarian food at the school cafeteria made it into the platform (which I had fun debating until 3 am, in Icelandic, on a Saturday night). It is published and people know what the party would fight for if elected.

Another plus is that odds are you will know someone on either list, there are 18 people on each side from all sorts of different faculties and so it is not just a popularity contest like it is now. With so many people, each party will have a table in each building every day of the campaign and give out buttons, coffee, sandwiches, occasionally condoms to attract attention. More than 54% of the 13000 university students voted last year! Each party will call and text students to answer questions and remind them to vote. With individual students campaigning here, that is just not feasible and unless you dig deep you don’t really know what they are campaigning about. The party system eliminates the focus on individuals and brings it to ideas and potential candidates whose ideas are too far-fetched for more centre parties can form their own ensuring their voices are heard.
What is especially useful is that the student council gets results. The University represents 3% of the population of the entire country and most educated people in the country and government went to that University at some point. Instead of considering everything a campaign and a battle as it is done here, they will negotiate directly with the people who are concerned and have had incredible success at it. Even though Röskva didn’t win this year, the idea of not having class past 5 was brought by Vaka and is now being implemented. So, what was so bad about having political parties for the SFUO again?