Spyglass — December 2010

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The holidays 2010 issue of the Spyglass student newspaper.


  • No other figure has captured the mind of the public as thoroughly and com-pletely as Santa Claus. It seems that almost every one of us, at some point in our child-hood, will fervently attest to his existence. Inevitably, we all come to the same realiza-tion in the end that Santa does not ex-ist, those presents under the tree were put there by your sneaky parents, and theres no such thing as flying reindeer, elves, and a magical toy factory in the North Pole. But are we casting Santa Claus out too soon? Could there be an infinitesimal chance that he actually exists?


    Keep the earth green. Please recycle. Brought to you by the RHHS Spyglass Team.



    The holiday season brings us pine trees, fruitcake, and for some, a few extra pounds. But undoubt-edly, the parts that we eagerly await the most (other than quality family time) are the presents under the tree. Of course, the gifts are only as good as our gift-giving ideas. Without a source of inspiration, well likely resort to some-

    thing hurried and mundane, such as the money-but-just-in-plastic-form gift card. To help you out, heres some great ideas for inspiration, and horrible ideas for the laughs. Among the top worst gifts ever received would have to be the one given from a recently hired employee to his boss. Af-ter agonizing over gift ideas, the inex-perienced employee decided to create a homemade certificate stating that a city had been named after his boss, some-where in Asia. Another poor lady received a portable female toilet called the Whizz Off for Christmas, along with scented toilet paper. A homeowner was given a farting gnome for their garden, and yet another found a bag of grapes under the tree, complete with a buy one get one free sticker. Finally, one man received a set of festive musical boxer shorts, which

    played Christmas songs when a hidden button was pressed. After browsing through complaints of horrible gifts on the internet, its easy to get a general idea as to what not to give. For example, receiving self-improvement products (ex. diet pills, acne creams, etc.) can always be insulting, even if they were given with good intent. In addition, gifts

    that arent thoughtful should always be avoided (ex. giving a meat cookbook to a vegan, cookies to a diabetic, or earrings for someone without their ears pierced). On the other hand, the best gifts are those that are tailored to the receiver, rather than a one size fits all gift. For example, a beautiful, almost free gift to give could be a framed version of the receivers name, spelled out in photos. Another gift for a loved one could be a handmade IOU book with I owe you slips of things theyll enjoy, such as a trip to the mall or the movies. If youre look-ing for a laugh, a personalized stuffed animal ($70) or bobble head will give your friend a miniature cartoon version of themselves. For technology fans, the Xbox Kinect is sure to be the number one item on their wish list. However, the $140 price tag

    might make you think twice about giv-ing one. As a more affordable alternative, students can try the Griffin iKaraoke for iPod ($30), which connects to your au-dio system, removes the lead vocals in a song, and lets you be the star. Alterna-tively, a more eco-aware friend would ap-preciate a Sun Jar ($40) that charges in sunlight during the day, and then emits a

    soft glow at night, similar to having fire-flies in a jar. For friends who love gifts of clothing or beauty, students can consider the Mon-ster Bite hoodies ($30), complete with cute eyes and fangs around the hood. For around the same price, there are also headphone hoodies designed for conve-nience, where the drawstrings are fully functioning headphones. Theres also the Stila Surprise and Shine, a makeup pal-ette that lets you record a personal mes-sage to your friends, for around $15. Although the process of picking the perfect gift for a loved one may leave you with headaches, you know that by the morning of December 25th, all the worry and anxiety will be worth the smiles you get. After all, those moments are what Christmas is all about.

    This is the 21st century were living in, folks, and if theres one thing were good at, its self-expression. All over the place, people are finding new ways to show off their personality and their indi-viduality, right up there at the top of the list is fashion. In our modern society, there are limitless options when it comes to the wardrobe, giving everybody the ability to personalize their outfits. In fact, the only thing that comes out on top of fashion when it comes to self-expression is our technology: all our iPods, PSPs, laptops, and the omniscient, omnipresent cell phones. Inside these little bits of plastic rest all our favourite songs, movies, games, and so oneverything that defines our tastes. Wouldnt it be great if we could combine








    Santas secrets revealed on page 6.


    Liberal arts, from the latin root Liber, meaning free, was the term used to describe the educa-tion given to free children of the Roman Empire and other societies during the classical era, distinguishing them from the children of slaves who were mainly taught technical/vocational skills. Ironically, a liberal arts education is nowadays stereotypically viewed as unmarketable, while specialized degrees have been brought into favour.

    Liberal arts degrees are usually offered at the undergraduate level, focusing on the development of general knowledge, with subjects such as English, Philosophy,

    and other Humanities.

    In contrast, spe-cialized degrees

    focus on the profes-sional, technical, or vo-

    cational. Prospective doctors have to spend quite a while in

    graduate school studying medicine, and lawyers spend time in law school, focusing on a specific area of law usually after the first semester. However, special-ized degrees can also focus on mechan-ics, electrical work, and other fields that dont require as long a tenure at a college or university.

    Specialized degrees have the benefit of being marketable while also allow-ing variety within the field. Law stu-dents have various areas of law they can choose to study, physicists can choose to study the world on a macro or mi-cro scale, and engineers can apply their expertise to various areas ranging from electrical engineering to architecture and design. Choosing to focus on a gen-

    eral topic area can be beneficial with the right mindset and dedication, allowing prospective freshmen more clarity when choosing universities and a more closely knit environment in terms of the field of study. For instance, music students tend to fit in better at schools like Juilliard than Caltech or MIT.

    Furthermore, specialized degrees can be beneficial financially as many spe-cializations require shorter tenures at post-secondary institutions focused on their particular area of study four year undergraduate degrees can be shortened to three years for some schools in the United States and Canada (although three-year degrees are being phased out in favour of four-year degrees in most universities in Ontario). Those with tight purses may consider a liberal arts education as too much of a luxury com-pared to the expediency of various tech-nical/vocational programs.

    However, liberal arts degrees do have

    distinct benefits. High school graduates may not necessarily know what they want to become, and making a rushed deci-sion can have disastrous consequences considering the cost of switching majors too late, which usually entails going back to university after graduation to earn another degree. Those with multiple in-terests can take a variety of courses and majors that need not be related for most schools. Liberal arts degrees can also be a stepping-stone for graduate school, with many philosophy and english majors go-ing into law. Emphasizing critical think-ing and a broad, general base for educa-tion, the liberal arts remain an alluring choice to many students interested in a post-secondary education.

    While specialized education has broken free of its historical roots, being favoured by various prestigious institutions across North America and abroad, many stu-dents still seek education in the liberal arts for myriad reasons, with many uni-versities that continue to favour and em-phasize generalized education.



    Find the value of the integra-tion` `int_0^(5)` `int_0^(7)int_0^12` x dx `dyd` `z.`

    Some of us would loosely define math-ematics as the beautiful, harmoni-ous relationships between quantity, structure, space and change. In sharp con-trast, others would view it very differently. To them, higher- level math is all about dealing with conceptually abstract, theo-retically complex issues that render pro-found confusion and frustration that no other subject can ever cause to their young minds. Does this sound familiar to you? Not a surprise. For many years, Richmond Hill High School has offered students an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of mathematics, challenging their intel-lect through a set of courses varying in depth and difficulty. The results of such efforts are interestingto say the least. The endeavour to master our math skills has ended up putting students into one of the following four categories: students are completely indifferent about math; they detest it greatly; students genuinely enjoy the task of solving intricate mathemati-cal puzzles and equations; or, they have developed a fear of it altogether. What is troublesome is that the number of math-o-phobic students, namely those who have

    developed an intense fear of math, is grad-ually increasing. Do not worrywe now have good news to share with you if you happen to be a math-o-phobic. Scientists in Europe have just discovered a technique to take the fear away from your baffled mind.

    A group of Scientists at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom claim to have found a new method of curing math-o-phobic through a procedure called the Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS). The process involves passing an electric current through the brain for only fifteen minutes. Given that electricity helps neurons fire faster, the electric shock would enable students to accumulate and learn information much faster after the procedure. Scientists argue that sending an electric current through the skull into the brains parietal lobe, where numbers are processed, would improve ones ability to excel in mathematics. Dont get excited yet. The university cautions that their theory would not hold any water until thorough studies and clinical experiments are done. The good news is that Oxford has already started conducting experi-ments on volunteer patients. The results yielded from these trials are even more ex-citing. Every participant demonstrated an

    improved ability to perform certain math tasks after a stream of barely perceptible electric current was sent into their brains. Oddly enough, the participants showed that they had retained their remarkably high performance level after returning to the centre six months later for a follow-up, leading the Scientists to further strength-en their belief that they found a way to temporarily increase a persons capability of solving complex math problems. The results appear to have generated a great deal of excitement among a vast number of high school and university students who are keen on improving their math skills through this electric shock therapy.

    As is customary, the success of such a project widens the horizon for concrete possibilities in the near future. Oxford claims that its next goal is to create a new electronic device capable of sending elec-tric current into the brain to significantly enhance ones number processing skills.

    These encouraging findings also open up the possibility that electric current can potentially become the basis for creating cures for other psychological or intellec-tual problems in the future. What is still unknown is the cost of getting such a de-vice when it hits the shelves of the stores across the world. Should it be accessible to all the students, including those whose brains may still be in the delicate process of becoming mature?

    While the electric shock technology clearly needs to be further developed and tested before any such treatment can be made available to the public, the find-ings of Oxford offer a sense of real hope to millions of students who shy away from math because of their deep-rooted fear of drowning under the complex puzzles of mathematics. For many of them, Oxford Universitys TDCS treatment could quite possibly be the theorem that Pythagorean always wanted to find.

    Scientists are studying whether passing an electric current through the head could help students learn better.

    Keep the earth green. Please recycle. Brought to you by the RHHS Spyglass Team.



  • Have you always loved to read and to write? Did you pen any-thing as a child?

    MacHale: I hated to write when I was a kid. So in school, rather than write reports I would make videos. Of course, I didnt real-ize that to make the videos I was always writ-ing. So I guess I didnt hate it as much as I thought I did.

    Mass: Yes, Ive always, always loved to read and to write stories. Reading is fun, writing is hard, but its really satisfying too!Kerr: I wrote lots of stories. I started when I was 10. My first story was called The Vanish-ing Airplane.

    Horvath: I have always written. I used to play with cans and jars of spice in our kitch-en cabinet when I was about five and make intricate villages and characters and stories. I just hadnt learned how to print yet. After that, instead of moving cans around I wrote things down.

    Dunbar: The writing thing took me by sur-prise, actually I used to be an illustrator; because I was always good at art, it seemed obvious that this was what I was meant to do. Yet that took me down a bit of a dead end, to be honest; finding a way to express my ideas through words was incredibly lib-erating.

    Grant: Ive always told stories. I dont think I always wrote. I was, I guess, a creative kid. Always drawing, making things, telling jokes. That led me to Art College to do graphic de-sign. I realized the design side wasnt my real

    forte. I was more an ideas person. I went back to university, finished a Bachelors de-gree and a teaching certificate and then tried my luck as an advertising copywriter. That led to television scriptwriting which lead to my first novel (The Puppet Wrangler). I guess you could say that I just sort of drifted into writing. That said, Im very happy my little makeshift raft landed on this particular deserted island.

    What has been the...


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