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Snapshots (Coke prices, cultural judgments, unfriends, liberal leadership)

Curtailed commentary on current conditions: price inequalities on campus, judging a culture on a glance, artificial social media connections, and the race for Liberal leadership

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Print Edition: March 6, 2013

Katie Stobbart

A Coca-Cola mystery

The Coke is always cheaper on the other side of campus.

That is to say, it’s cheaper as long as you’re on the second floor of D-building at UFV, where you can buy a refreshing carbonated beverage (or uncarbonated, if you prefer) for the low price of $1.75. Nestled across from the “Area of Refuge” between buildings B and D is the holy grail of vending machines for cheapskate soda-buyers like myself; every time you buy a bottle of soda from that particular machine, you save up to 75 cents.

Most of the machines on campus charge a whole toonie for the same products. The cafeteria charges $2.29 and the lounge in A-building charges $2.50 for a bottle of Coca-Cola. Imagine my indignation, having purchased a cool drink in the cafeteria one day, walking outside the door, and discovering that about six feet away, I could have saved 30 cents (the penny is rounded up now).

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but I’m sure those dimes and quarters are adding up nicely in somebody else’s pocket.

Here’s my question: Why?

KATIE STOBBART

Nick Ubels

The hypocrisy of cultural snobbery

It is a favourite pastime of many Westerners, myself included, to pick out and joke about the seemingly bizarre or inane elements of foreign cultures of which we have little understanding. We glibly scoff at the weirdness of Japanese game shows or soap opera plots of Bollywood films.

To the extent that this can be seen as engaging with foreign cultures, it’s not a bad thing. It all comes down to how it’s handled. Talking about foreign pop culture phenomena is both a productive and enjoyable activity, but I worry that focusing too much on these things might make us lose sight of the traditions and major works that make up the backbone of other nations’ cultures.

To wit, would any other North Americans be really comfortable with anyone taking Justin Bieber and Twilight as cultural ambassadors? As the best we’ve got to offer?

I’d hardly concede that there is nothing of value in the breadth of popular entertainment, it would just be a shame to let what is popular become a guarantee of quality. To that point, by all means, enjoy the kitsch value of that David Hasselhof music video that’s so popular in Germany, but remember that it doesn’t represent the fullness of German culture.

NICK UBELS

Amy Van Veen

The art of unfriending

That awkward moment you see someone you know in the grocery store and your immediate instinct is to pull a U-turn in the canned vegetables aisle and hide by the toilet paper for a while.

Do you really think that person should still be your friend on Facebook?

You go out of your way to avoid saying a quick “hi” with the possibility of small talk, but for some reason it’s okay for them to see every detail of your life from the photos you took of your last trip to what you had for breakfast in a dream. Really?

The art of unfriending can be a tricky one. You have to know when the appropriate amount of time has passed since you last had an actual word exchanged between the two of you but you also have to make sure you will not be seeing that person in the near future.

However, it can also be a cleansing way to spend an afternoon. According to Facebook, the average friend count is about 190 people and with more and more people turning their face-to-face interactions into “I’ll add you on Facebook,” this count is continually going up. But Dunbar’s number—the limit of meaningful relationships a human being can have—is only 150. The solution? Purge!

After all, why do you want to share the inane details of your life with someone you would hide from in the grocery store?

AMY VAN VEEN

Stewart Seymour

Justin Trudeau: our 23rd Prime Minister?

I consider myself a political junkie. I would go for a political science major but I want to be employable after I graduate. In my free time, I enjoy following up on the latest in politics. I have been watching with some interest Justin Trudeau’s run for leader of the Liberal Party. Before I go further, in no way am I endorsing Trudeau. Lets face it though; his run for the leadership has people talking. The media seems to be more fascinated about his celebrity than his past accomplishments. Just recently, political pundits commented positively on Trudeau’s performance at the last debate held in Halifax. There are plenty of remarks regarding Trudeau’s lack of skills or substance, but they hardly hold up under any sort of scrutiny. Marc Garneau on the other hand, has a very distinguished track record of accomplishments. Garneau went to space and was the head of the Canadian Space Agency. If it was accomplishments that mattered (and they should), why couldn’t Ignatieff win an election? Let’s not forget about Stéphane Dion and his Green Shift. What Trudeau has is the ability to connect with voters and get people talking. He draws crowds. Even Brian Mulroney has warned not to underestimate him. The real test for Trudeau is how well he is able to handle himself against the political might of the Harper Conservatives. At least Trudeau has people talking. If he is able to get young voters interested, that is not such a bad thing.

STEWART SEYMOUR

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