Robbed by karma

Mayor Rob Ford Stripped of Power As Mayor By Toronto Council.

Rob Ford will go down as an inspiration and a caution

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 23, 2014

Rob Ford—from the moment his crack-smoking images surfaced, to the outrageous sound bytes heard across the nation, to the jaywalking incident—has been a larger than life character. He’s been the butt of jokes and a resilient individual, and whether he wins his battle with cancer or not, whether he ever wins another election again or not, he will still be an inspiration to some and a caution to others.

Although Ford has been diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer, cancer itself is not that uncommon. The majority of us know someone who has been lost due to that disease and it can very likely materialize within our own bodies as well. It’s simply something we cannot control. Obviously nobody deserves such an illness, not even someone as unruly, pugnacious, and so unwholesomely dishonest as Ford. Nevertheless, as compassionate as I am, I do believe in karma and that the world has a funny way of implementing justice and reestablishing order.

Ford has lived a significant and successful life, not necessarily one to be ashamed of. He has a wife of over 14 years and two children. He was mayor of Canada’s largest city for a decade. But he also had many unlawful incidents and even admitted to being in a drunken stupor now and then, placing himself in regrettable situations. Ford proves to many that living the my-way-or-the-highway style of life is better than waiting for death. Ford did it big, and that didn’t happen by accident. He made choices, and that is something we—in our passive culture—often choose not to do because of our play-it-safe indecision.

Life is supposedly full of second chances; Ford had many more, and still reaped the bounty of wealth and privilege. The fact that he got away with so many potential career- and life-threatening scenarios is worthy of recognition. It goes to show that whatever we feel we have at stake, it’s not that high. We should take the risk. We should bet the house. We should be willing to lose it all, because we’ll have nothing in the end anyway.

Ford made bad decisions and became a sideshow in Canadian politics, but his attitude towards life is what’s worth noting. He didn’t back away from the limelight. He chose to leave an impression. He wanted us to care about the things he did, and we did. Above all else, Ford was an entertainer, a topic of discussion, and a snapshot of modern times. There aren’t many like him—and that is a shame.

At the end of the day, you want to live a life with no regrets. However, upon your deathbed, you are more likely to regret what you didn’t do rather than what you did. Ford epitomizes that theory, but not without consequence.

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Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen Drivers

Posted by  | August 20, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.
Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen DriversNot every vehicle is a suitable car for a teen or novice driver. Some cars come with a steeper learning curve, more responsive handling and fewer safety features. Those little elements can add up to become a challenging ride for young, inexperienced drivers. So, this is not really about safety only, but the whole package. For information on the most unsafe vehicles currently on the road, be sure to check out our top picks right here.When looking into purchasing the first car for your teenager or yourself, it’s best to choose a vehicle with some familiarity and practicality. Young drivers are prone to distraction and an overwhelming sense of invincibility, so it’s best to keep them humble. Safety is paramount, and some cars are dangerous even for the most seasoned drivers. So, try and steer clear of these death traps or, at least, don’t introduce any young drivers to them.

10. Ford Mustang

Allowing your children to drive the world famous Ford Mustang is like giving them steroids for the road. They’ll love you because it’ll make them look cool, but you might lose them to the dark side forever. The Mustang is a powerful, rear-wheel-drive vehicle that has more power than most can handle. For new drivers who are still learning the rules of the road, it’s best to stay away from a vehicle as defiant as the Mustang.

9. Jeep Wrangler

For many adventurous parents looking for a frugal choice for their outdoorsy children, turning to the Jeep Wrangler may seem reasonable. However, the Wrangler is a notoriously finicky animal when it comes to turns. Prone to flips and barrel rolls when taking corners too quickly, the Wrangler might not be the best choice for young drivers who tend to have heavier feet. Also, it should be mentioned that off-roading should be reserved for more experienced drivers anyway, so if you are considering the Wrangler as a novice, maybe you should reconsider.

8. Any Clunker

Hand-me-downs are a good thing; they breeds tradition, save money and teach modesty. Nevertheless, parents should avoid giving their teenage drivers their old, clunky cars. “Clunker” is a term for any vehicle well past its prime, and the next ignition turn may be the last. If it has a rusty exterior, susceptibility for stalling or lack of safety features from the recent decade, then it’s not an okay gift no matter how you cut it. If you don’t want your children to be stranded on a highway or in worst situations, chip in a bit more and get them something reliable.

7. Dodge Viper

Must I explain why giving a race car to a teenage driver might be a bad idea? I’ll be frank: most roadsters are bad first cars for a young driver, because they are just too unpredictable in regular traffic. The Dodge Viper does not deliver a calming ride, it’s a rollercoaster constantly seeking the next ascension. For young drivers it’s a white-knuckle gripping experience, and that’s not what anybody wants.

6. Hummer H1

If you want to nurture the aggressive, road-hogging bully inside your children, go ahead, buy them the Hummer H1. Sure, you may want your kid to have the utmost protection on the road, which in your mind may mean “bigger is better.” However, the Hummer H1, with its action-movie-like off-roading capabilities, can lead to over-confident driving. Aggressive driving is the result of one in three fatal accidents each year, and it should not be an attribute installed in drivers of any age—especially in young and impressionable ones.

5. Chevrolet Aveo

Economy cars with an egg-shell frame and limited safety features, like the Chevrolet Aveo, are not the best option for young drivers, simply because the highest percentage of road accidents are actually caused by inexperienced drivers. Sure, the Aveo has many endearing qualities that may suit a teenager, such as reliability and reserved power, but having a thin arsenal of safety features is a reason enough to look elsewhere since the car has few other redeeming qualities anyhow.

4. Subaru WRX

The Subaru WRX is a car that gets attention, sometimes from the wrong people. When purchasing a vehicle for a young driver, it’s important to consider the impression the car has on others, especially the police. The WRX is a speedy machine with turbo acceleration that can put your teenager in an unsavoury position. All in all, avoid getting a new driver a vehicle with a turbo engine. The maintenance involved is one thing, but the speed it provides is another.

3. Nissan 300ZX

There was a time when the Nissan 300ZX was the cream of the crop, but now it’s an affordable model that offers the same respectable performance.  Although it’s certainly enticing, the 300ZX isn’t the smoothest-handling vehicle on the used-car market, especially since it’s from a pervious generation. Sure, the old car hasn’t grown up much, but your teenager should.

2. Porsche 911 Turbo

Tame your child’s need for speed early, lest they end up on the side of the road. Giving a teenage driver a Porsche of any kind – let alone a 911 Turbo – is a very bad idea. The turbocharged supercar may be a joy to drive, but as enthralling as it is, the risk level of having an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of this vehicle should worry every other driver on the road. If you do give your teenager a Porsche, warn me – I’ll try to avoid the route he or she may be taking.

1. McLaren-Mercedes SLR

A combination of the expensive, the powerful and the extravagant is obviously a good thing for a young driver, right? It sure is – not! No doubt, the McLaren-Mercedes SLR is a highly-touted vehicle for drivers of all ages, but I wouldn’t want a novice driver behind the wheel the same way I don’t want an inexperienced pilot guiding an airplane through a turbulent storm. Not only does the supercar come with a steep learning curve, it is utterly unforgiving when it comes to errors. Repairs and insurance fees can add up quickly, and that is a debt no young driver deserves.

What Sales Pitches, Interviews, and Stand-up Comedy Have in Common – and Why It Matters

 louie_heckler

 

There are certain employment epochs I remember fondly.

Through those experiences, I had the opportunity to learn a bit about myself, as well as a certain skill set. But looking back now, regardless of the job, one component always stood out: attentiveness.

It didn’t matter if I was trying to convince someone to sponsor a needy child, seduce someone into telling me their life story, or simply make a crowd of people laugh, being aware of my environment was consistently instrumental towards my success.

Some jobs you can bury your head and work, but not mine. It’s important to look up once in awhile and see how the world is reacting. Then assess: should I stay the course? Or should I get the hell out of Dodge?

 

MAY THE ODDS BE WITH YOU

When I went about knocking door to door, canvassing for World Vision, I recognized that although I meant no harm, I was still an annoyance. People did not want to be disrupted during primetime television, they didn’t want to listen to my sales pitch, and they definitely were not inclined to open their wallets at the door.

I can gauge in approximately 1.3 seconds whether the big beefy guy with a frown on his face is interested, or whether the sweet old lady with a smile is actually listening—or if she just wanted company; if so, to indulge her would be to trick her.

A good sales pitch is not one that tricks people into purchase—it’s not a performance, it’s not robotic. It’s a conversation. When the door opens or when the customer walks in, that’s your opportunity to educate and engage. And that is done through proper interpersonal communication, not necessarily with showmanship or razzle dazzle.

The best way to make a sale is by recognizing whether the person can actually afford it in their lifestyle; in other words, are they worthy of sponsoring a kid, buying a toaster, owning a Ford Fiesta, etc.? You should be helping them. Lose the stress of the quota and listen.

Engage in a humanistic way. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself as a person, not salesman. A good salesperson takes the time to interact with the consumer, and not simply play the odds. Why do you yourself believe it’s a worthwhile cause? Before you can sell something to anybody, you must first be able to sell it to yourself. And then you roll the dice and see if the door slams in your face or not. No hard feelings if it does.

 

LISTENING MORE IMPORTANT THAN ASKING

As an interviewer, people always expect me to come with an arsenal of questions. And I do. I write down as many possible questions I can think of, some pertinent, some filler, but on the day, I set those questions aside. The questions I prepared become a crutch. I’ll use them only if there is a moment of silence that needs to be filled. Aside from that, I do without the questions, the same way an actor forgoes the script when it’s show time.

Imagine arriving at a house party with a notebook full of questions to ask the guests. You wouldn’t sit down with someone and automatically start quizzing him or her on his or her life, right? So don’t do that in a professional interview either.

Before you start with the five W’s they taught you in J-school, consider asking this question: How’s it going? Establishing a rapport is fundamental to a good interview. Odds are the person will say something to trigger your interest and then your curiosity will take over.

A strong sense of discovery will guide your interview, not your prepared questions. A common mistake is focusing too much on what you want to ask and not what your subject is actually saying. Take notes if you must, use a recording device, but above all else have a genuine conversation. After all, as an interviewer you are attempting to tell a story, and stories, at the heart of it, are about relationships.

You can approach an interview with zero questions prepared if you are actually curious about your subject. Questions will come. With that being said, do prepare some stock questions, since some interviewees are nervous, busy, or simply less inclined to offer effective sound bites and insightful responses.

 

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

As a stand-up comedian, I learned that not every audience will relate to your jokes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find you funny. A good comedian is one that can adjust to the crowd and is funny through their personality and wit, rather than something scripted and rehearsed. You cannot force a group of people to laugh at you, but you can earn their likings, and that happens through dialogue.

I believe stand-up comedy is a dialogue. I’m not saying you should ever encourage the audience to heckle or argue with you. However, imagine a conversation with someone, but instead of having a response in words, it’s a response through laughter. Laughter is validation. But it can only come through if you understand your audience. This goes for all other form of public speaking.

I remember lectures I had in college where the instructors would just go on and on about whatever. Clearly I learned nothing. But the reason I can’t remember anything is because they couldn’t connect with me. They never looked up from their notes to ask, “Elliot, you get what I am saying?”

For comedians, the presence of laughter is affirmation. For public speakers, an absence of coughing is affirmation. Learn to read your audience and ask for a response if they are refusing to offer it. It’s a dialogue; there is no fourth wall.

Odds are, you are not the only person presenting at any given time, whether you are a comedian, a presenter, or the best man giving a speech at a wedding. In most occasions there is an opportunity for you to acknowledge your audience before you hit the stage.

In comedy, for example: if a comedian before you had made a similar joke to the one you’re about to do, measure whether the audience enjoyed it. If it received a lackluster response, consider swapping it—even if it might mess up your entire set. Don’t be stubborn when you know something wouldn’t work. Is the audience here to actively engage with you or are they just forced to be there and you happen to be on stage?

You don’t need to be the showstopper, but you should at the very least be memorable. Otherwise there is no reason for you to be on stage.

Whether you are selling, interviewing, or just trying to make a group of people laugh, the art of interaction is a two-sided rally. You might do the majority of the speaking, but when you aren’t, you better be listening.

 

For more information about workplace and hireable skills please check out Webucator’s Most Marketable Skills project. Presentation extends further than a strong speaking voice, and in today’s world, there is a lot of demand for hard technique skills in addition to the soft ones. If you are looking to upgrade your PowerPoint (and other MS Office applications) I recommend trying out the free demo at Webucator.

Speaking of the horny devil

Opinions_Dick devilWhy provocative art is healthy for the city

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 16, 2014

On September 10, Vancouver commuters travelling past Main and VCC Clark got a chance to admire the newly erected statue of the Prince of Darkness—briefly. While some found good humour in the statue, others clearly had penis envy after seeing the nonchalant exposure of the red devil. With one hand up giving some weird Spiderman web-slinging symbol and the other one placed suggestively close to the large member, it’s not surprising that many people were upset and the statue was removed. However, a petition to “Save the Devil!” is now surfacing online and the number of supporters has passed 666 in less that 24 hours.

Phallic and nude monuments and statues have been around since the dawn of man. From the statue of David to the world-famous Haesindang Park in South Korea, the highly touted male appendage had been an inspiration for artists for generations. Nevertheless, Vancouver has once again shown itself to be a prudish, stuffy group with a snobby belief that in order to be a “world-class city,” the only monuments worth presenting are those of animals and of Douglas Coupland’s head with gum all over it. If Gum Head is art, then surely Horny Devil—the name I’m giving it in this article—is art too. What’s the difference?

Let’s be honest, there are much more pertinent things to worry about than those blasted devil-worshippers corrupting our children. If a devil statue with a large penis is going to upset you on your way to and from work, maybe it’s time to ask yourself why. Art is supposed to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,” but most artwork around the city is so forgettable that it might as well be fire hydrants, garbage cans, or those mystery grey boxes painted with foliage.

When seeing something like the Horny Devil, I get excited—no, not in that way. I feel as though some cultural progression is happening. We get so focussed on what we have to do on a daily basis that we forget what we are: horny, sinful animals. The devil statue reminds us that we are all the same on the inside.

I, for one, would much rather look at the devil than at an empty podium. What the hell is that podium used for anyway? What is that little public square used for? I don’t know, but I guess freedom of expression is not one of them.

I applaud the person or group that constructed the Horny Devil. After all, the city is full of CEOs and thought leaders, but we need more artistic rebels. We need people to break us from our status quo, refresh our memory, and allow us—as a collective—to grow. The Horny Devil does not have to be a display of immaturity, but the general reaction is a perfect example that we, as a city, are not mature enough to handle it for what it is. The Horny Devil is a reflection of ourselves and we are not ready to embrace it yet.

Cars vs. Bicycles: Which One is More Practical? And Where?

Posted by  | August 13, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.com 
Bike-vs-car

In the battle of cars vs. bicycles, cars are the resounding champions, but bicycles are becoming a preference for many young people. But let’s face it, bike-lovers, automobiles are the most dependable, practical and common means of transportation currently available, no matter how often you rely on your two-wheeler. Regardless of the weather, distance or climb, a car can get you places faster and with greater ease.

That being said, bikes can serve as the active, green and financially responsible option in plenty of scenarios too. With your lifestyle and geographical location in mind, we’ll take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of bikes, and see how they stack up against the modern automobile.

Cars vs. Bicycles in Cities

Let’s be honest, traffic jams don’t happen because of cyclists – it is the rise of the automotive industry that has nurtured this phenomenon into existence. In big urban areas, traffic is inevitable. So, if you don’t want to get caught in the doldrums of bumper-to-bumper traffic, ride a bike.

In densely populated areas, bikes are an incredibly reasonable choice for getting around – especially since the inception of bike lanes in many major cities. Gone are the days of bikers sneaking into the blind spots of vehicles or making risky maneuvers around moving and parked cars or pedestrians.

Remember that even though you are on a bike, you are still not above the laws of the road. While big cities are changing their philosophy and fostering the growth of biking communities, cyclists must also take responsibility while riding. Biking in the city may be an efficient alternative to driving a car a couple of blocks, but it can still be a stressful endeavour. But as long as you’re attentive and respectful, there is no reason you’ll be late or aggravating to others.

Cars vs. Bicycles in Suburbs and Beyond

Riding a bike can be a great workout, but if you live in a rural area or in a suburban neighbourhood far from where you need to be, a three-hour workout to and from the office or a cross-country trip to the store might not be something you want on a daily basis.

Canada is a big country and there are many smaller cities and towns where accessibility for bikes is limited to the endurance of the rider. Sometimes a dangerous highway separate two cities and taking a bike down those routes can be risky.

On average, a bicycle can travel between 15 and 30 km/h. If it’s a short trip, this sort of speed shouldn’t be a problem, but if you want to go a bit further, be sure to take your stamina into account.

Riders need fuel the same way cars need gasoline. A bad scenario for a biker is to end up between two points, too fatigued, thirsty and weak to continue. It’s important to challenge yourself now and then, but if you really need to get from the farm town to downtown, consider driving.

Costs

When comparing cars to bicycles, the price of each plays an instrumental part in making the decision which one to use.

An average bike cost is between $400 and $1,000. A higher-end bike lock cost is approximately $200, while a helmet can set you back another $100. On the other hand, a mid-size vehicle can cost around $800/month.

A reliable bike is expensive, but compared to a car, a cyclist can buy a new ride every month instead of paying to finance just one vehicle. And we are not even including insurance, fuel, maintenance and other expenses that go into caring for a car.

In terms of pure dollar bills, this is not a contest at all. There aren’t many ways to make it seem like cars are the more financially-feasible option. It just isn’t. So, if you want to save long-term money, pedal on.

Safety

In terms of safety, there are many variables going into both modes of transportation. When it comes to a collision between a cyclist and an automobile, there isn’t much to consider. But if we look at the statistics separately we might be able to identify which one is more prone to accidents.

In terms of accident rates per kilometre, bikes are 26-48 times more likely to get into an accident than cars. About 64 per cent of automobile-and-bike-collision fatalities occur in urban areas during afternoon and evenings. However, in 2009, bike fatalities only made up 1.9% of deaths on the road. The other 53.1% belonged to drivers; 19.5% went to passengers and 13.9% went to pedestrians.

On average, 60 cyclists in Canada are killed each year in a motor vehicle accident, which not that high when compared to the rate of deaths in car-to-car accidents.

Regardless of the vehicle, riders and drivers alike must take precautions. Cars and bicycles are dangerous and safe in different ways.

Other Factors

The invention of cars has changed transportation forever, but bicycles still come with many benefits that are often ignored due to the many benefits of driving a car.

It’s been proven that riding a bike to commute can enhance productivity as well as physical and mental health. Employees that bike to work are often more proactive with their duties and eager to interact with others. Although biking can be a laborious task, it can also boost your energy over time. Riding a bike will also increase a person’s stamina, physical endurance and help burn calories. Even if you have nowhere to go, biking is still a good option for exercising.

If there was a buzz phrase for our generation, it would probably be “go green.” If you want to reduce your carbon footprint on this planet, then go with bicycles. Even if you don’t drive a car, the process it takes to manufacture a vehicle takes a lot of materials and energy. Bikes are simple machines that don’t require a lot to function. So, even if you have a car, choose to take your bike out once in a while. If it probably wouldn’t be your first option, but it can be your second.

Celebrities’ nude photo leak arouses many questions

Opinions_Nude-photos

Why I still lack sympathy for leaked nude photos

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. Sept. 9, 2014

There was a time when sharing intimate images through digital devices was a big no-no. Sure, it might have been a passionate gesture, but such exchanges have always opened the door for betrayal, whether the subject of the picture wanted to be a pornographic exhibit or not. The scandal earlier this month surrounding Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and other female celebrities was a clear example that the cultural paradigm has changed. The onus is no longer placed on those taking the pictures, rather on those eager to hack networks and go through extreme measures to uncover them—and those who view the pictures afterward.

The plea now is for the whole Internet community to restrain from clicking on any link that showcases pornographic images that were posted without consent. While some might choose to boycott those click-baits and smutty online channels, most have already entered keywords into the search engine in hopes of discovering those leaked images. The same way society has deemed it okay to take exposed pictures of oneself or another with little to no consequence, people are also allowed to Google something with little to no consequence. The line—although drawn—is still faint and often-ignored.

Having nude pictures of yourself floating around on the Internet is humiliating, no doubt. And hacking into personal accounts is a breach of privacy, which is a crime. Not wanting to victim-blame or anything like that, but if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself on the Internet, perhaps it’s best to just refrain from sending those images initially. Don’t post naked pictures of yourself; that was what I was taught at the dawn of the computer age. What has changed? Why are we lowering the bar for ourselves? Why are we placing the blame on technology such as iCloud and people such as hackers? After all, hackers have always been around, just like muggers, thieves, and other criminals.

The Internet is more than a public place to visit now. The Internet is our photo albums, our personal documents, and even our safety deposit boxes. The Internet is how we communicate to our employers, our families, and our loved ones. But we must remember, no matter how zealous we become and how tender the moment is, the Internet is still a public place.

Telling hackers to stay out of our personal account is like telling the mugger with a knife aimed at my gut to not rob me. We cannot convince those people. The fact that they have gone to such extreme lengths to uncover private, and sometimes deleted, pictures of celebrities is proof that they are out for more than a casual tug. No angry tweet or Facebook post will convince them that what they are doing is wrong.

So what are we share-happy people going to do? Live in constant fear that our private images will end up on a Tumblr feed? Well, at the moment is sure seems like it. All it takes is one share, one drag and drop, or one forwarded message and your intimate image is some stranger’s desktop wallpaper.

We know the boundaries of the Internet, yet we still dare to cross them. That is why I have no sympathy for those who take nude pictures of themselves. I also don’t have any sympathy for hackers either, because if you take risks, you’d better handle the consequences yourself.

Tilt-themed TEDxVancouver 2014 Builds Upon A Legacy And Inspires Change

On October 18, TEDxVancouver will once again open the stage to inventive and inspiring speakers, as well as establishing a backdrop for deep interactive discussions. Although TEDx is continuing the tradition of delivering “ideas worth sharing,” the theme, Tilt, is an encouragement for us all to break out of the status quo, disrupt the pattern and strive for improvement.

“Tilt—the way we are describing it—represents this transformative sequence that makes us better,” Jordan Kallman, president of TEDxVancouver told Techvibes. “As an individual you have your routines, your comfort zone, your patterns, and other things you follow on a regular bases; we are calling that tradition. And the tilt is when you get out of that moment and out of your comfort zone. But you do it because there is a payoff to it; the sequence ends in triumph.”

This year’s TEDxVancouver applies the theme in all possible areas, including the theatrical elements on stage and the social aspects of the conference. Whether you’ve been to a TEDx event before or not, Tilt has all the makings of a unique and inspiring experience that might just sway you in a whole new direction.

“We want to break the forth wall,” said Kallman, “we want to break the wall between the audience sitting in their seat in the house and the stage. This year, with Tilt, we really want to engage audience members in the experience within the theatre. And we’ve design some really cool things to make it happen.”

Queen Elizabeth Theatre—the largest venue yet for TEDxVancouver with 2,700 seats—is an apt venue for opening up the conference socially. The way the attendees mingle is always on the minds of those preparing the event, especially since TEDx is recognized for the social engagement value of the whole event in addition to the speakers.

“[TEDxVancouver] is a very powerful networking platform,” said Kallman. “The conference itself is a great day of meeting new people, people opening up new social connections and being around like-minded individuals who are thinking about the future or thinking about how things can change or thinking about how to make things better. And the audience cares.”

In an information-overloaded world, ideas become a cluttered commodity, rather lost in the sands, buried in the noise or force-fed by an anonymous avatar. TED conferences, and their distinctive format, have been able to take valued ideas and place them at the forefront of our periphery, still allowing us to discover and digest it ourselves in 18 minutes or less.

TEDxVancouver is an opportunity to learn, but it’s also an opportunity for Vancouver’s thriving tech community to get together and exchange ideas both local and global. It only makes sense; after all, the T in TED does stands for technology.

“Technology has been the core of the TED platform since the very beginning,” said Kallman, “and I feel like a lot of the ideas on stage have something to do with technology. It’s a great place for the industry to self-develop, champion their heroes and talk about big ideas.”

Don’t tease me

Opinions_trailersWhy I prefer to not see trailers, previews, or teasers

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 9, 2014

First things first: I understand that movie trailers and television previews are marketing tools, used to create hype, excitement, and anticipation. They’re a hook to get viewers like yourself to engage with the entertainment, to let it into your home, and allow it to consume anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours of your life. Movie trailers are essential to the industry, but I don’t care for them.

How many times have I been suckered into watching a movie strictly based on the appeal of the movie trailer? I’m looking at you, Cloverfield,and every Superman movie ever. You got me! And how many times have I disregarded a movie based on its uneventful, lacklustre trailer—or one that essentially gave away the whole story.

But how will I know what the story is if I don’t watch the trailer or see the preview? My answer: a movie or television show should unravel as you watch it—you don’t need snippets here and there to propel the plot forward. The plot can do that all by itself. If you are engaged in a show, say, The Walking Dead, I don’t need to know which characters’ lives are jeopardized in the next episode. I can naturally assume that they are all in danger. The same way I would not want someone telling me the ending to a book, I don’t need someone highlighting aspects of the movie for me before I even grab the popcorn.

I get it. Your time is valuable and you want to be in control of your entertainment. Fine. But know this: some of the best movie/television experiences of my life began with absolute unfamiliarity—no hype involved, just brilliant storytelling. Trailers are misleading. They sell celebrities, special effects, and dramatic performances, but they don’t prove the worth of the movie, the same way a commercial does not prove the worth of a product.

For comedies, trailers ruin the jokes. For romance, trailers cram the key relationship into two minutes. For action flicks, trailers showcase spurts of explosions, car chases, and fight scenes that only someone with severe attention deficit disorder would find alluring. For dramas, trailers present a potential Oscar nominee crying out of context over a soft melancholy soundtrack. Gee, I wonder what to expect. Commonly the trailers tell you how to feel before you even buy the ticket. And I believe it’s that no-surprise marketing philosophy that is hindering the movie experience.

The fewer trailers you see, the less likely your perception will be altered when you watch the movie or show. You’ll be surprised to see a familiar actor appear on the screen. You’ll be surprised by the plot twists as the story unfolds before you. You wouldn’t want a magician describing the result of their magic trick before it’s performed, right? So don’t be angry because the theatre experience lacks the movie magic you expected. It might be impossible to avoid trailers altogether, but don’t get too hyped or disenchanted by them.

This time next year

opinions school resolutionsNew school year resolutions and the BC Teacher’s strike

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 9, 2014

Pessimistically speaking, whatever the New Year’s resolution you made in January was, you’ve probably given up on it as we head into the latter-half of 2014. If you weren’t able to reach your full potential this time around, relax: the way I see it, September is the real beginning.

The mark of a new academic year is always refreshing, even though I—like many students in BC—will not be immediately attending class this autumn. My situation, although different from those who’ve been impacted by the labour strike between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Liberals, still offers room for improvement. After all, classroom settings can only do so much in terms of learning. When it comes down to it, the students need to make that extra effort.

So I bring it back to the idea of setting resolutions. Where will you be in terms of your goals this time next year? Never mind what the world around you is doing—what can you do for yourself? And the better question is, how will you reward yourself next summer? Let’s be honest, this summer wasn’t shabby, but you know that if you can make some strides this fall, winter, and spring, summer will undoubtedly pay for itself.

As students, I feel we put a lot of pressure on how well we do in the classroom environment, yet it’s the workplace that we are really striving to excel in. One of my favourite quotes from Mark Twain is, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” What he means is that the courses you take, the homework assigned to you, and the deadlines you need to meet, should not halt your progress towards your ultimate goal, whatever it may be.

Not only is it common to give up on resolutions, it’s also common to get academic amnesia, where a whole school year would pass by without any recollection. So really suck this school year smoothie dry. If you are in class, try to apply what you learn to something, anything. If you aren’t in school—like me—don’t passively await opportunities, but imagine yourself a year from now. Think of what you want to know that you didn’t know yesterday, and learn it on your own merits.

We often make New Year’s resolutions into ambitious, life-changing goals. We want to lose weight, earn more money, and perhaps achieve something we haven’t before. All that is admirable, but let’s make our school-year resolution a building block towards our New Year’s resolution. Let’s work on our self-discovery and our intellectual enhancement. That way, when January rolls around, we can catch our second wind and improve from there. And it doesn’t matter whether we are in school or not.

Learning is all about attitude. But hey, for those kids who are out of school because of the strike or for those unemployed graduates, relax and enjoy this little break while you can before life grinds the crap out of you. Stick with it, and this time next year, you’ll be better.

5 Reasons Why Young People Don’t Drive or Own Cars

Posted by  | August 05, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.com
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Young people just don’t own cars these days. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, only 44 per cent of teenagers have a driver’s licence and the number of vehicles purchased by drivers between the ages of 18 to 34 has dropped by approximately 30 per cent.

Back in the old days, cars were the definition of coming-of-age and growing up. A new car was the supercharged symbol of independence. Now, owning a car seems to be a responsibility and hassle that the millennials and Y-generation can (or seem to) do without.

But what has changed the cultural relationship between young people and the feeling they get when they sit behind a wheel for the first time? What’s making them reconsider skipping this significant milestone in life? Stick around as we list five reasons why this is the case.

5. Parents

Adulthood is one aspect that has changed for the new generation. It has been shown that young adults today are having difficulty establishing initial financial security – the kind of stability required to own a car. In a study done by the National Housing Federation, approximately three in 10 parents still have at least one son or daughter between the ages of 21 and 40 living at home with them. A majority of those parents admit that their children simply can’t afford rent elsewhere.

Merciful parents do not only offer substantial housing, but they commonly offer rides as well. Many young people have grown accustomed to the ask-and-receive taxi service they get from their parents. After all, it is a service that has existed throughout their entire lives – from trips to elementary school to being dropped off at middle school soccer practice and graduation house parties. Parents have always shown love in the form of drop-offs and pick-ups.

4. There Are Other Options

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Automobiles are not the only option to get around town. Look down the street and you’ll see creative modes of transportation that weren’t as popular or simply didn’t exist a decade or two ago. Bike lanes are now available in most urban areas, as biking is now a highly regarded, eco-friendly alternative to driving. Long-boarding, skateboarding, rollerblading, electric scooters and other recreational activities have now become legitimate forms of transportation for many people who choose not to own a car.

Perhaps there was a time when kids had to walk miles to school, but today, urban communities are built around a central area that include markets, restaurants and public infrastructures. Most things people need are within walking distance. And the little push to be in a better shape has encouraged younger people to omit owning cars from their healthy lives completely.

3. Public Transit Got Better

Even though public transit is often criticized for its inconvenient, unreliable and highly impersonal relationship with commuters, young people still prefer it to the bothers of owning a car, finding parking and feeding the meter. All they need to do when they take transit is get familiar with the bus, train or ferry route and schedule, as well as the body odour and annoying banter of everybody else onboard.

Canadian public transportation has made vast improvements in every major city in the past few decades. Most people are able to walk out of their houses and locate a bus stop within a few minutes. Toronto and Montreal are rated as two of the top cities with the best Transit Score in 2014, ranking above many American cities – yet still behind New York and San Francisco, which are the exemplars of North American public transit design and implementation. Most notably, Vancouver has scored 74 points in the ratings, beating their neighbours to the south, Seattle, by 17 points.

2. The Internet

When you break it down, there are simply fewer reasons to travel nowadays with the Internet being the only connection to the outside world many seem to really need. Scary, but it’s true. Think of all the people you keep in touch with on Facebook that you never get to see in person? There was a time when the only way to see your friends is to physically leave the house and go see them. But today, we can chat with friends over a game of Call of Duty, work from home and live a perfectly fulfilling life from the comfort of our desk chair.

No group of people are more affected by the Internet dominion than the young people who have lived with it their whole lives. Internet has always been there for them, while cars have not. If they were to pick one or the other, it’s pretty clear which one they would choose.

1. Cars Are Expensive

In today’s world everything is expensive and cars are not an exception. In fact, cars are perceived as an extreme luxury item to many young people who are submerged in student loans and credit card debts. Most of them choose not to even think about all they would have to pay in insurance, maintenance and gas, if they owned a car.

But that doesn’t mean a car is unachievable for young people today. A vehicle is like every other big purchase – an investment – and it should be approached with tact and clarity, not simply pride and pleasure. There are many vehicles out on the market that offer rebate and incentives that will make buying a car – even a new one – an affordable and reasonable option.

If you are sick of taking the bus or riding the bike, it might be the time to see if owning a car is a possibility for you. Buying and owning a car is not impossible, not even if you are a young person. There might be a lot of great alternatives out there for those without a car, but remember, unlike a bus, your very own car won’t drive away from you when you are running towards it.