U.S. of A


As an exclusive user of virtual calendars, contact lists, and notes, I have come back to the fold of paper-based agendas. How did this happen?

Two years ago, I went to Indigo Bookstore here in Montréal in search of a proper, physical agenda — paper ones that you can actually write with a pen. A sales associate showed me their current collection which was a measly three or four hard cover books that did not meet my size and content specifications. Since then, I have relied entirely on my Google Calendar, Google Tasks, Google Contacts, and Apple Notes. I used to have both a paper agenda and my virtual organization platforms that I would access with my laptop. But once I got a smartphone, I transitioned entirely to the virtual agenda. I thought to myself, “How on earth did I live without a smartphone?!”

Read More

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 10.18.47 PM

It took me a day and a bit to digest all the information concerning the Boston Marathon bombings. During the last 30 hours or so, I read various news sources to keep up with the streaming and constantly updating information. There has been so much information from so many news sources, often with conflicting reports, especially during the first few hours of the explosion. And accordingly so much has changed since I first received the New York Times News Alert on my cell phone about the non-verified reports of two explosions at the popular race.

I was studying at a café here in Montréal when I received the news alert, which prompted me to check my Twitter feed and see the incoming tweets regarding Boston. I definitely did not realize the magnitude of the situation — obviously anyone outside of the immediate aftermath could not at first — and I went on with my books and sipping on much needed coffee. Then, more information became uploaded to news sites and photos were posted. I, with the rest of the world, began to realize the severity of the situation and was horrified to see images of the carnage, some appropriately flagged as graphic content. The pictures of severely injured spectators, many missing limbs, became seared in my head and I had much trouble focusing on my tasks at hand.

A café patron sitting next to me eventually received news of the explosions, and began to chat with me about the situation. The café we were sitting in was mainly quiet, most of us having hauled laptops and books to the neighbourhood outlet, and plugged into our respective ear phones. My seat neighbour dropped his pen and paper, and sat clicking away at various news sites for the rest of his stay. When he was leaving, he said to me, “They found the person who did it. He apparently is in custody.” I cocked my head and said, “Really? I was just checking the news and did not read anything about this.”

I was constantly reading updates on the Boston situation, mainly relying on The New York Times, which put down their pay wall for articles regarding the tragedy for the day, as well as Slate and The Atlantic. There had been one news item that I had read which indicated that “a person of interest” had been spoken to by police at a hospital, and that his apartment had been searched. However, other than that bit piece of information, not much was said about any real suspects. Later, I found out that the New York Post had been maintaining that the “person of interest”, a Saudi student, was a suspect and with reports that he was tackled when seen running away from the explosion. (Um, perhaps because there was an explosion?) The New York Post continued this angle of the foreign student being a possible suspect despite The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Slate, and other news outlets having dismissed the reports. It was only around 3 pm today that the New York Post tweeted that the student was no longer a suspect. A suspect to the bombings has still yet to be identified.

Meanwhile, the Internet has decided that the event is a conspiracy and even planned, with a video juxtaposing two different parts of an episode of The Family Guy to illustrate the conspiracy on YouTube. The episode in question was edited so that it seemed that Peter was using his cell phone to set off bombs at the marathon, causing Fox to pull the episode from the Internet and Seth MacFarlane denying any connection. Gun-loving right-wing person, Alex Jones, is also claiming that this is a government conspiracy.

Additionally, there were reports that another explosion, this time at the John F. Kennedy Library, occurred a few blocks away from the marathon’s sites of bombing. While the two events were first suggested to be related, this was later rebutted by The Boston Police Department who confirmed it was a fire, not an explosion. Furthermore, reports that the government had shut down phone networks was also proven to be false. The problems in connectivity that many people were experiencing following the attacks were later attributed to overloaded local cell towers.

This all made me think about how hard it is to receive accurate and unbiased information, especially during times of crisis. First incoming reports regarding a tragedy may be subject to error — when emotions are high and the dust has literally yet to settle. Keep in mind that the news is coming from reporters, whom are human, whom are prone to failures. At such situations, it is also so easy to jump to conclusions and rely on our prejudices (a Brown man running away from the scene? Stop him!) when we try to make sense of a horrific situation. I am not excusing anyone for racial profiling but I am trying to understand the situation in context of an American culture that still bears the marks of the events and politics surrounding of 9/11.

Read More

We already celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada last month, but it seems that the American turkey day is a much more serious matter down south. For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving Day today, here is The National covering “The Thanksgiving Song” from the animated sitcom, Bob’s Burgers.

Have I ever seen an episode of Bob’s Burgers? Nope. But I sure do enjoy this short, silly and purposefully morose song. Like cranberry sauce and stuffing, this will be the perfect accompaniment to your bird feast and days of turkey leftovers. And it also serves as a great way to tide us over until The National brings out another great album, which we hope is very soon.

I am so glad that the U.S. elections are over. Was anyone else kept on edge and get sucked into this real-life soap opera? The last weeks leading up to November 6th were particularly brutal. That ridiculous offer from Donald Trump, Hurricane Sandy, the Nate Silver controversy — all this trashy political drama was so much better than the celebrity tabloids out there. (Ugh, just let Rihanna and Chris Brown recommence their horrible love affair already.)

And now: It is an Election Hangover. I suspect that this will go on for at least a couple more days with the left-wing reaffirming their positions and the right-wing wondering how the hell they lost. While Obama captured 332 electoral votes versus 206 by Romney, he was only approximately 2.5% higher than his opponent in the popular vote. That is quite a small margin, despite this number bringing in theoretically a maximum of 7.9 million more votes for Obama than Romney (out of the 2012 U.S. population of 314,686,189). Canada-wise, that number of extra votes would equal 22.8% of our total 2012 population. (Note that we are quite the sparsely populated country checking in only 34,482,779 people despite spreading 9,093,507 square kilometers versus a slightly higher 9,826,675 square kilometers for the U.S.)

So our southern neighbours have been chit-chatting away about what this election means for the most powerful nation in the world, and whether Republicans are losing grip on their citizens. And reading these essays and analyses have really hit me harder with the fact that I love being Canadian. Our politics are boring and maybe even lame compared to the crazy blue-white-and-red circus that is bestowed on the American population every four years. However, our societal normalities that I, and many other Canadians, take for granted are issues that cause protests and controversy for our southern neighbours.

Read More


[Photo Credit: Gregg Segal for TIME Magazine]

I know that the Veep Debate just ended and Twitter is all aflutter with the musings and analysis from the Internet universe.

However, I would like to steer the focus to something much more pressing: Paul Ryan’s photo shoot for TIME Magazine. No matter what your political affiliation may be, one must ask: Pourquoi? Also, what kind of team of advisors decided that this was a great idea? We all knew that Ryan was deep into his P90X regime, and I commend him for his devotion to healthy activities. But a photo with Ryan in a cheesy, hat-backwards stance with a bro salute just oozed out an Onion article IRL.

There are conflicting reports from Ryan’s side and TIME regarding the use of the photos, with an aide to Ryan’s team telling CNN that TIME had assured the photos would never be published. So then what kind of purpose were these photos meant to serve? Keep us guessing, Blue Steel. Keep us guessing.

Click on the hyperlink above for more photos.