No candy for me

I’ve never had a Halloween, not a real one anyway. The one attempt I’ve made (with fellow inmates at the boarding school I attended) resulted in the sum total of one piece of moldier-than-usual blue cheese, a few doors slammed in faces, and a half-hour lecture from the school’s staff about the ill-advisability of celebrating such an anti-Christian occasion. The opportunity has now passed, and Halloween is ruined for me forever. What’s more, Halloween is far too controversial a ‘holiday’ — this year, Canadian pastor Paul Ade has started a movement called JesusWeen that involves giving out Bibles in place of candy. That’s a conversation I’m not going to risk. So there’s no trick-or-treating for me then. And all I wanted was some candy.

Only once a year

“C’est l’Halloween! C’est l’Halloween, Hey!” That’s the chorus of a hot jam I learned in kindergarten to honour the best holiday of the year. I still sing it with excitement. Unlike the other events in our calendar, Halloween is a purely fun occasion that doesn’t ask you to do anything you don’t want to do. If you want to be lame and opt-out, you can, no bigs. If you wanna be awesome, however, you can dress up how you want and have a great time. Halloween lets us be creative for our own entertainment. In my group of friends, Halloween is a pretty big deal. We put in the effort to ensure a fabulous night for ourselves — how hilarious is it to party with a girl wearing a foam “Floreda” costume?! Plus, getting the references from everyone’s costumes adds an extra level of fun to the night. So get costumed up and have a great time. It comes but once a year!

Friends and family mourn alumna Alexandra Dodger

Alexandra Dodger’s friends, family, and professors are commemorating a U of T alumna who recently passed away. While crossing a one-way street in downtown Ottawa on October 15, Dodger was hit by a car travelling the opposite way.

The driver of the vehicle is thought to have been drunk, though no breath sample was provided.

A recent graduate of McGill University’s law school, Dodger was an active member of the University of Toronto Student’s Union and other student organizations.

In her memory, McGill law’s Student Affairs Office has set up a tribute website where people can leave their memories of Dodger. A similar page has also been created on the social networking site Facebook.

According to the messages, Dodger was a vibrant, thoughtful and selfless person who was passionate about helping others.

Her grandmother, Cecile Wojciechowski, told the Ottawa Citizen that Dodger was “always trying to work it out so that the poor people would get it better.”

“I guess that’s the way she was born. That was her light,” she added.

NDP MP Dan Harris, a friend of Dodger’s, delivered a speech in the House of Commons honouring her memory, saying that “Alex was an extraordinary woman, who was passionate about life and was determined to improve the lives of those around her. She cared deeply about giving a voice to the voiceless.”

Dodger’s funeral took place on Thursday followed by a Friday memorial event hosted by McGill’s Faculty of Law.

With files from the Ottawa Citizen, and

Time Capsule unearthed at Maple Leaf Gardens

Construction workers might have uncovered a piece of hockey history at The Maple Leaf Gardens early last week. While removing the original date stone at the Gardens, workers found a time capsule buried during the building’s construction in 1931.

The capsule’s contents have yet to be confirmed, but some workers said that inside were a newspaper and a rule book from 1931.

Loblaws, the new owner of the building, took custody of the capsule and still has not released information on its contents.

“We have found articles during construction, but they are currently being assessed and validated. We will be in touch once we have more information,” said a company spokesperson to the CBC.

Maple Leaf Gardens, where the Toronto Maple Leafs played hockey for over 60 years before moving to the Air Canada Centre in 1999, is now being renovated to accommodate a Loblaws franchise and the new athletic centre for Ryerson University.

With files from the CBC.

PM Harper nominated two U of T alumni to Supreme Court

PM Harper nominated two U of T alumni to Supreme Court

Prime Minister Stephen Harper nominated University of Toronto alumni Andromache Karakatsanis and Michael Moldaver to be the next additions to the Supreme Court of Canada. “Both Justice Karakatsanis’ and Justice Moldaver’s candidacies were examined through a comprehensive process,” Harper said in a news release.

Under fire for choosing the 63-year old Moldaver, who doesn’t speak French, the PM stood by his decision by saying that both candidates “have the skills and qualifications necessary to serve Canadians as judges of the Supreme Court.”

Moldaver graduated with a law degree from U of T in 1971 and specializes in criminal law. Called to the bar in 1973, he was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 1990 — then the Supreme Court of Ontario — and to his current position on the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1995. Moldaver has also taught at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Karakatsanis, 56, is the first Greek-Canadian to be nominated to the Supreme Court. She was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2002 before joining the Ontario Court of Appeal last year. According to The Globe and Mail, Karakatsanis lacks practical legal skills despite her extensive administrative experience.

The nominees are to replace Justices Ian Binnie and Louise Charron who have already retired. Karakatsanis and Moldaver will appear before a parliamentary committee on October 19 when MPs will ask them questions as part of the appointment process.
With files from The Globe and Mail.

Controversial reality show Lake Shore scrapped

Lake Shore, a Canadian spinoff of MTV’s Jersey Shore, has been scrapped before it even hit the airwaves. The controversial reality series received major media buzz, yet failed to attract a network.

Argued by critics to be “un-Canadian,” Lake Shore was set to depict an image of Toronto, which was far from its multicultural reality.

The show allegedly contains racist content as it profiles eight cast members by ethnic background – a major reason behind the absence of network support.

According to the Toronto Star, cast member Sibel Atlug, also known as The Turk, claimed he “[hated] everyone equally – especially Jewish people”. Comments like the anti-Semitic ones made by Atlug led producers to question Lake Shore’s appropriateness for Canadian television, which serves a highly-diverse population.

Lake Shore creator, Maryam Rahimi told the National Post that she blamed “circumstances” for the show’s demise.

“I have to be a bit more careful and, although it’s entertainment, some people really take what gets said to heart,” she said.


With files from the National Post and the Toronto Star.

Vertebrate ancestor had a sixth sense, and it has nothing to do with ancient aliens

According to a study recently published in Nature Communications, a 500 million-year-old marine ancestor may have had a sixth sense: electroreception. Spread over 25 years, the study has found that this ancestor was common to 30,000 species of land animals — including humans — as well as around the same number of ray-finned fishes and possessed an advanced electroreceptive system. Today, this type of system can be found in paddlefish, sturgeons, sharks, platypus, and other aquatic vertebrates that have electroreceptors in their bodies. Electroreceptive systems help aquatic vertebrates detect weak electrical fields in the water in order to communicate and locate whatever unlucky prey happens to be in the area. To jolt your memory, think of the iconic image of an electric eel giving a shock. The ability to emit an electric response may have been our ancestor’s trump card.


Source: Science Daily

Don’t look now, diamond, there may be some competition

In a recently accepted study in the journal, Physical Review Letters, researchers have successfully created a new carbon allotrope that resembles diamond. The discovery was made by the Stanford and Carnegie team of scientists after taking glassy carbon, similar to graphite, and compressing it with over 40 GPa, or more than 400,000 times normal atmospheric pressure. The extreme pressure caused the bonds in the glassy carbon to change in such a way that they formed diamond-like strength. The transition appears to be reversible as well when pressure is released. The new material is amorphous and does not have a long-range order, meaning that it is not organized in the repeating atomic units seen in crystalline solids (such as diamonds and graphite). This new allotrope may have an advantage over diamonds if its hardness is equally strong in all directions, unlike in diamonds, where direction and orientation matters. This new high-pressure carbon allotrope may open doors to new cutting tools, wear-resistant parts for transportation, and high-pressure and extreme environment research.

Source: Science Daily