THE BROWN DAILY HERALD TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018
VOLUME CLIII, ISSUE 15
Pulitzer winner visits Cogut Institute Alok Vaid-Menon delivers intimate performance Vaid-Menon’s moving reading brings poetry to LGBTQ Center’s Queer Legacy Series By DIVYA MANIAR SENIOR STAFF WRITER
BENJAMIN TORUÑO / HERALD
Applebaum addressed ideological uniformity and political polarization as a product of hyper-partisanship, as the second speaker of the Greg and Julie Flynn Cogut Institue Speaker Series Monday.
Anne Applebaum of Washington Post discusses the state of U.S., global politics By DYLAN MAJSIAK SENIOR STAFF WRITER
U.S. democracy is not alone in debating conflicting facts, but follows
a global trend of polarizing even the most common debate or narrative, said Anne Applebaum — Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian — in her lecture Monday in Pembroke Hall. Applebaum’s speech on disinformation and hyper-partisanship within U.S. and global politics represented the second event of The Greg and Julie Flynn Cogut Institute Speaker Series.
Through her work as a historian, Applebaum has studied instances of the media being used to manipulate citizens but became interested in the “resurgence of new forms of Russian disinformation campaigning in Eastern Europe” about five years ago, she told The Herald. Some audience members, such as Grace Monk ’18, said they attended » See COGUT, page 3
The LGBTQ Center brought poet and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon to Rites and Reasons Theatre last Friday for an event in the Queer Legacy Series. Featured on various media platforms such as HBO and the New York Times, Vaid-Menon is internationally renowned for their unique voice as well as their use of art and expression in challenging the gender binary. This year’s Queer Legacy Series is themed “Queering Across Borders.” According to Je-Shawna Wholley, assistant director of the LGBTQ Center, this theme arose from the increasing importance placed upon borders in today’s sociopolitical climate. “We hear a lot in the news about walls and difference and otherizing people,” she said. Vaid-Menon’s performance weaved elements of comedy and improvisation into their hard-hitting and evocative poetry. This included a multimedia performance of a selection of poems,
with a focus on work from their collection “Femme in Public.” Vaid-Menon’s topic aligned with the theme of the series, according to student programmers Eileen Cruz ’20 and Nicole King ’19. While in the process of selecting potential events to bring to campus, Vaid-Menon stood out as “the energy that we (needed),” said Cruz. Wholley said that the intention behind this year’s programming was to “debunk this idea that borders separate us.” “We really wanted an opportunity to celebrate difference, and nonWestern ideas of what it means to be queer and trans,” she added. Other events in the series, including “Undoc-QT ARTivism: Creating Beyond Borders” and “Queer Xicano Chisme: On Queerness, Patriarchy, Nationalism, and the Future,” follow in the same vein of bringing attention to the intersections of identities and the importance of unity. The juxtaposition of humor and vulnerability in the performance conveyed a narrative that was all at once bitingly satirical and deeply moving. “They incorporate a lot of comedy, and I think they do a really great job » See POET, page 3
PW’s ‘Julius Caesar’ showcases femme perspective Performance rejects traditional phallic symbols, allows actors to present offstage identities By LIYAAN MASKATI SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Production Workshop’s imagining of “Julius Caesar” exudes power — evident from the play’s very description: “This is (not) Rome — Haec Roma nostrarum est: This is a space (un)recognizable. Here we are womxn, femmes and more. Here, we are of many races. Here we use words like ‘lovers,’ ‘sisters’ and ‘countrywomxn’. Here is space enough to hold all our love and all our violence. This is (not) Rome — Here is our Rome.” Directed by Caroline Sprague ’20, “Julius Caesar: Femmes, Romans, Countrymen” is a production of “Julius Caesar” set in an “intersectional,
ARTS & CULTURE
all-femme” world, according to PW’s website. While the work follows the original plot line of Julius Caesar’s assassination, characterizing it as just another conventional production would be far from accurate. Indeed, its distinct femme-centric approach is in stark contrast to the original texts of most Shakespearian works, in which male characters are primarily designated lead roles — a gender imbalance that is especially evident in “Julius Caesar.” The word “womxn” — instead of “women” — was intentionally used to undermine the male-centric mindset that underpins the world, said stage manager Bella Cavicchi ’21. This interpretation of Julius Caesar was conceptualized by Sprague, whose guiding principle was “why not,” said Beth Pollard ’21, assistant director. “Why not have a full womxnand femme-identifying production of ‘Julius Caesar’? There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be,” Pollard said. While the absence of men may seem incongruous in Caesar’s Rome, » See CAESAR, page 2
COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA HANESWORTH
Erin Malimban ’19 played the role of Brutus in the production “Julius Caesar: Femmes, Romans, Countrymen,” which ran from Feb. 9 to Feb. 12 in the Production Workshop’s Downspace.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018
ARTS & CULTURE Afro-Cuban artist influenced by creative upbringing, displays work across Rhode Island
SCIENCE & RESEARCH Research shows that factories’ enforcement of standards generates higher revenue
COMMENTARY Cardoso ’19: Trump’s infrastructure plan both inadequate and ineffective
COMMENTARY Steinman ’19: Olympics distract from political upheaval, reminder of international cooperation
37 / 27
PAGE 2 • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
Evans Molina Fernandez composes vibrant paintings Multi-dimensional artist brings Afro-Cuban, musically-inspired perspective to R.I. By JACOB ALABAB-MOSER SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Multidisciplinary artist Evans Molina Fernandez has amassed a large following in the Providence art scene with his dynamic aesthetic. Drawn from his Afro-Cuban identity and his passion for music, his multiculturally-influenced art has impressed gallerists and curators with both its formal aspects and its ability to provoke a range of emotions in viewers. Aesthetic mission Fernandez wants his viewers to feel free, “to feel whatever (they) want to feel,” he said. “I don’t pretend (to impose my views) like ‘that’s what I’m thinking.’ It’s not my kind of art.” When Fernandez paints, it is never just to arrive at the finished product. “It’s a ritualistic performance,” he said. He also uses other creative media, including poetry, the music of the conga and the West African shekere, he added. While describing a recently completed painting, “Dancer Indigena of the Holidays,” Fernandez addressed how during holidays, “people are celebrating a moment (during which)
other people are suffering.” The painting appears to depict a dancing figure surrounded by circular “vibrations,” Fernandez said. “In indigenous cultures, we dance to manifest pain,” he added. He intentionally avoids describing his art as political. “I was never a political artist, I am more about cultural (subjects),” he said, eschewing themes of political oppression for more “universal” matters. Creative upbringing Fernandez grew up in a bustling creative environment in ’80s Havana. His mother was a dancer and his father worked in the music recording industry, which exposed him at an early age to Cuban musical greats such as the folk singer Silvio Rodríguez, he said. “Music is very important for me in my life (as) an artist.” As an adult, he began to forge his path as a creative through multiple forms of expression, including designing sets for teleplays, restoring historical sites around Cuba, studying cinematography and scriptwriting as well as directing a performance art group, he said. In 2003, he produced “Tiempo,” an experimental short film shown at festivals in Cuba and Spain that depicted a surrealist, reality-bending experience. Move to Rhode Island Fernandez moved to Block Island, Rhode Island in 2006 after befriending
Rhode Island School of Design graduates who had visited Cuba, including Providence artists Andrew Moon Bain and Brian Chippendale, said Scott Moran, artist and curator-at-large of OneWay Gallery. While Fernandez has been a resident of Providence for around 10 years, he also has lived in Miami and Spain for periods, Moran said. “The art for me is like a (blessing) as an immigrant, a Latin person, an Afro-Cuban person, a black person,” Fernandez said, alluding to the fact that art allows him to meet a lot of people of different cultures. “We are making a family.” Community reception Currently, Fernandez’s paintings are being shown in multiple galleries throughout Rhode Island, including OneWay Gallery in Narragansett and Federal Hill’s Gallery Z and Skye Gallery, Fernandez said. Steven Pennell, the coordinator of arts and culture at the University of Rhode Island Feinstein Providence campus, has included Fernandez’s work in three exhibitions over the past year for its disparate references to early 20th century Spanish artists as well as African and aboriginal art, he said. “He’s able to blend a lot of influences from colonial to indigenous, spiritual, santeria.” “Because it has this little bit of abstraction and folk art involved, different people see it differently and
» CAESAR, from page 1
Brown University Community Council Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Findings and Recommendations of the Student Employment Working Group Updates from the President Meetings are open to members of the Brown Community. Meeting will be held in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center, Kasper Multipurpose Room To learn more about the Community Council visit: www.brown.edu/about/administration/community-council
Cavicchi describes the setting “as a Rome where your expectations are going to be switched, but for the better.” Despite its novel conceptualization, the production tries to preserve as much of the integrity of the original plot and character development as possible, Pollard said. The names of all the characters, for instance, remained unchanged. “Those are men in history and we didn’t want to change those names because they have such significance,” Pollard said. Yet, all masculine gender pronouns have been reversed to fit the femmecentered production. For instance, he becomes she, countrymen becomes countrywomxn and lords becomes ladies, Pollard explained. Stereotypically masculine motifs, such as swords, daggers and other phallic symbols have been omitted from the production too. Instead, the weapons used by the characters in this production take the form of cloth, bandages and fabric — items traditionally associated with womxn, Pollard said. Violence is a salient theme in the bloody assassination of Julius Caesar, yet “violence is also typically seen as
COURTESY OF EVANS MOLINA FERNANDEZ
Raised in Havana, Cuba, Molina Fernandez moved to Rhode Island in 2006. His paintings are being shown in multiple galleries throughout the state. respond differently to it,” Pennel added. living, breathing artist in a way that “When you have an exhibit with Evans most of us will never know,” Skye said. … it’s just a vibrant experience.” “As a gallery owner, that’s the kind of “What he talks about is really com- person you want work with,” he added. pelling and relevant and modern,” said Fernandez is slated to have a solo Jonny Skye, owner of Skye Gallery. show at OneWay Gallery in Narragan“He’s also incredibly prolific … a sett March through April.
(a) man’s domain,” Pollard said. “We wanted to understand how womxn act in conflict — what tools do womxn use that are different from men?” Erin Malimban ’19, who plays Brutus in the production, further describes how the violence in the show is incredibly stylized. The characters often use bandages that are typically used for boxing but are painted red, she said. One character holds a bandage and puts it on another’s clothes. Then, the character pulls the bandage out, “so there’s a string connecting (the two characters) and it looks like blood.” The production’s impressive onstage conceptualization is complemented by the actresses’ offstage identities. “There are so many identities in the room,” Malimban said. Some of the people in the cast identify as non-binary, others identify as queer and others as people of color. “We (don’t) want to erase anyone’s identities, so (we) just bring them to the character instead of pretending they’re not there,” she said. For instance, Malimban described how she brought her Filipino-American identity to her portrayal of Brutus: “There are some times when I make noises that are from my Filipino
household, just to tell someone to be quiet — it’s just like a non-verbal sound or like a motion.” This process of embracing one’s offstage identity onstage makes each character specific to its actor, Malimban said. “You bring small things that you’re used to in your culture and in your life to the performance without it being a huge deal.” Both onstage and offstage, the production explores the idea of womxnidentifying people finding “catharsis” in life, according to Malimban. “The entire process has been this constant questioning of how we are people outside of being non-male and how we relate to each other singularly,” Malimban explained. “And when audience members walk away, we want them to feel the catharsis with us,” Cavicchi said. What’s really special about this production is that it doesn’t have a moral for the audience, Malimban said. “It’s not like we’re trying to teach you something. It’s more like we really care about this and we care about each other and we invite you to care and think with us.” PW’s “Julius Caesar” ran last Friday through Monday at the Downspace.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018 • PAGE 3
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
U. study suggests compliance with labor standards benefits companies Enforcement of labor, environmental standards leads to higher revenue for factories By TANUSHRI SUNDAR SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Multinational enterprises have a lot to gain by treating their factory workers well, according to new research by Provost Richard Locke P’18 and his former student, Greg Distelhorst, now an assistant professor of global economics and management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study, published in the American Journal of Political Science, shows that on average, factories that enforce basic labor and environmental standards benefit from a $1.6 million increase in annual purchases. Furthermore, when factories improved their compliance, their orders increased by an average of four percentage points, which roughly translates to $110,000. These findings were especially “pronounced in the apparel sector,” which faces more social pressure from consumers to comply with labor and environmental standards than others, said Mark Anner, associate professor of labor and employment relationships at Pennsylvania State University, who is unaffiliated with the study. “Activists can make it painful to
SCIENCE & RESEARCH
» POET, from page 1 of interweaving laughing with mourning,” King said. The performance left the audience swinging constantly between hearty laughter and the brink of tears. Vaid-Menon revealed the dangerous position of gender non-conformity in the world at large. They addressed the pressure to fit into the standards constructed by preconceived notions of gender binaries. “I believe that we should be
» COGUT, from page 1 because they were interested in the intersection between politics and journalism. Stephen Marsh GS said he was drawn to the lecture because of his interest in the similarities between today’s society and that of Eastern Europe in the mid-20th century. “When I saw how the U.S. election was playing out last year, I couldn’t believe it,” Applebaum said. “Some of the stuff I’ve been writing about for a long time in Poland and Ukraine, suddenly you could see it in the United States.” This obscure topic had suddenly become one of general interest, she added. Applebaum began by telling the audience to imagine a time when the rapid publishing of new ideas subverted the institutions that controlled access to information. She quickly reminded the audience that she was not talking about the invention of social media but rather that of the printing press in the 15th century. “Just as the printing press broke the monopoly of power of the monks and priests who controlled the written
be noncompliant,” Distelhorst told Phys.org. Despite this correlation, there is a lack of incentives for factories to enforce such conditions, Locke said. “Many of the actors involved in the supply chain have mixed incentives,” he said. Most of “the governments and countries where many of these companies are located … have really terrific labor and environmental regulations, but they don’t enforce them.” Roughly 80 percent of the companies in their study were non-compliant. Sometimes, a country avoids enforcement because it doesn’t have the resources to inspect factories, enforce the working age or hold companies accountable to the legal minimum wage. Other times, countries fear that enforcement will increase the cost of doing business and drive out buyers, Locke explained. “We show that compliance does pay, but it may not pay enough. Maybe 4 percent is just not attractive enough of a benefit to bring factories up to that level of compliance,” Distelhorst said. Locke and Distelhorst carried out the study by “rigorously analyzing a novel data set on export transactions and social compliance audits of over 2,000 supplier factories,” Anner said. These audits are measures taken by companies to ensure that their suppliers adhere to a specific code of conduct, including labor and environmental regulations that often vary from country to country, Locke
COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
In their research, Provost Richard Locke P’18 and his former student Greg Distelhorst, a current MIT professor, also noted that their findings were more pronounced in the apparel sector. said. In these audits, outside inspectors visit factories, interview managers, review employees’ time cards, examine factory records and inspect factories for adherence to health and safety regulations, Distelhorst said. The researchers obtained the data set from a global sourcing agent, which takes orders from companies and helps them identify and handle transactions with factories,
Distelhorst explained. For some factories, such as Nike, obtaining records took years, Locke added. Both Locke and Distelhorst wanted to “find ways to reconcile a world that’s, for better or for worse, dominated by market capitalism,” Distelhorst said. “That should not come at the expense of dangerous or abusive conditions of workers.” Going forward, the researchers
would like to know why the majority of factories remain non-compliant despite its demonstrated benefits. For Locke, continuing his research and teaching is essential, even as provost. Though he balances his responsibilities “with great difficulty,” it’s “important for a university administrator to still have his fingers on the pulse of what universities are all about,” he said.
able to look as gender non-conforming as we want,” they said, adding “we have to dress to kill or be killed.” “I should be able to walk outside of my house unshaven, without hormones, without any visible alterations to look like what society deems as a woman, and still be able to be read as a woman, if I say that’s what I fucking am, but that’s not the world and the movement we exist in,” they continued. Their art stands as a call for people to self-educate about the issues,
narratives and art of trans and gender non-conforming people, they said. “I believe in gender euphoria, not gender dysphoria,” said Vaid-Menon toward the end of the performance. To this end, Vaid-Menon delivered a performance that was highly personal, allowing audiences insight into intimate details of their narrative. They brought up specific examples from the violence they face daily. “People throw trash at me and people tell me to die … I’ve never really had anyone defend
me in public,” they said. During the question-and-answer section, they said that the vulnerability of their performance comes from them telling themselves to “use the stage to create the world that you need.” They added that this world, for them, is “one where we are aware of the fact that crying is essential.” According to Vaid-Menon, this ability to find and bare their scars stemmed ultimately from an acceptance of the necessity of imperfection in art and in
ourselves. They compelled the audience to accept that life can be “messy.” The acceptance of imperfection is a step toward understanding that violence should be replaced with the acknowledgement of humankind’s necessary interdependence. “That should be what we are fighting for, saying ‘I’m glad that you’re falling apart,’ because that means you need me … perfection is loneliness, because when I’m perfect I don’t need you and when I’m imperfect, I do,” they said.
word in the 15th century, the internet and social media have, within the space of just a few years, helped to undermine not only the business model … used by democratic political media for the past two centuries but the political institutions behind them as well,” Applebaum said. Applebaum drew parallels between the political divide present in smaller European countries that lack an independent news outlet and the divison within the United States, a country that lacks a neutral media source, she said. This results, she added, in extreme polarization that calls for people to aimlessly choose sides as the center disappears. This phenomenon has been intensified by social media through the increasing presence of homogeneous clusters known as echo chambers. Individuals now receive their news from their ideologically uniform group of friends on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This redundancy leaves people distrusting not only politicians but also politics in general. This has led to the election of “ironic or parodic figures” in politics as seen in Iceland,
Italy and Serbia, Applebaum said. There is also a rising distrust of apolitical systems, she said, citing President Trump’s reapplication of the phrase, “enemies of the people” — formerly used during the French Revolution and later by Joseph Stalin — toward the free press.“This new information network is far more conducive than the old one was to the spread of … false rumors, whether generated naturally or imposed from outside,” Applebaum said. Russia learned how to manipulate these echo chambers early on — through the creation of bots and fake groups — and has been employing these methods for years. Applebaum recalled several false narratives that were quickly adopted by news sources amid the past U.S. election cycle, such as the sex slave ring that Hillary Clinton ran and the notion of Democrats being anti-Catholic. Applebaum personally saw the spread of disinformation campaigns when an Australian journalist made her the focus of one in 2014. Applebaum watched the false narrative, which tied her to Russian businesses,
move through a “very well oiled system.” The story was eventually reproduced on the comment section of Polish newspapers, RT and libertarian Sen. Rand Paul’s website. Wikileaks even retweeted the article to millions of followers. “It was very unnerving, but I did learn a lot. As I watched the story move around the web, I saw how the worlds of fake websites and fake news exist to reinforce one another and give false credence,” Applebaum said. “Many of the websites quoted not the original dodgy sources but one another.” There is no clear solution to fake news nor is there one person responsible for solving it, which Applebaum considers the “black hole of the heart of the problem.” But she does think the government should “set the rules for the game,” such as the methods that countries like Estonia are using to reduce the sense of anonymity on the web. She drew attention to responses to past disinformation campaigns, such as how the Reagan administration created the Active Measures Working Group to combat propaganda. Applebaum suggested a similar effort might be
necessary today and reminded the audience that it is a citizen’s duty to responsibly navigate through media. “It may be that we … all have to wake up in the morning and think, … if I care about this issue, what am I going to do about it? Who do I talk to about it?” Applebaum said. “That may have to become a different mode of thinking for all of us. The revival of democracy, which was so dependent on reliable information in an era of unreliable information, is going to be a major civilizational project. Just like it took hundreds of years to end the religious wars in Europe, it might take some time for some solutions of this problem to be found, too.” “We often … think that there’s something about a liberal arts education that is helping to produce informed citizens and people who have a broad base of understanding about history and culture,” said Amanda Anderson, director of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities and professor of humanities and English. “But the fact of the matter is that we’re kind of in a strange new world where you can’t rely upon some of the things we used to.”
ARTS & CULTURE PAGE 4 • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
Despite creative premise, viewers should miss ‘The 15:17 To Paris’ Eastwood’s latest film authentically depicts terrorist conflict, surprisingly bores By ZACHARY BARNES STAFF WRITER
“The 15:17 To Paris,” Clint Eastwood’s new film about the true story of three Americans who stopped a terrorist attack on a train in the summer of 2015, rests on a central conceit. Instead of turning to professional actors, Eastwood cast the real men to play themselves. It’s audacious, and it could have worked, too, because you never know what you’re going to get with Eastwood. His movies are hard to judge and harder to read. “American Sniper,” for example, works as either a propagandist salute to a mass murderer or a complex character study of a man challenged by war depending on who you talk to, or maybe just on which way the wind’s blowing. Eastwood himself is no less inscrutable. He’s the man who yelled at a chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, but he’s also the man who directed great movies before and after that strange night, from 1992’s “Unforgiven” to 2016’s “Sully.” Alas, his latest effort feels more like the work of an old man who scolds furniture than the one responsible for a handful of American classics.
It begins with a man walking through a train station, rolling a suitcase behind him and eventually boarding a train. He gives the camera a blank-faced stare before the doors close and the title card appears. If you know the premise, you can probably guess: We’ve met the terrorist. Don’t let this trick you into thinking “The 15:17 To Paris” is an action movie. After the credits, the film flashes back to the middle school days of our three heroes. Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone — played, as children, by Bryce Gheisar and William Jennings — are best friends but social outcasts. Spencer complains that no one gets him and that he doesn’t fit in. Alek replies, in a conspicuously pleading and raw tenor for a betweenclasses conversation, “I get you! You fit in with me!” Eastwood is a famously handsoff director, and the approach does him no favors here. The young actors, including Paul-Mikél Williams as our third protagonist, Anthony Sadler, are shockingly bad, giving performances straight out of an eighth-grade play where the chief imperative is “Don’t mumble!” Nevertheless, the three form a friendship that will last into their adult lives. An early botched attempt at emotional connection comes after an airsoft battle, scored to plaintive guitar music, when the three lie on the forest floor and wax poetic about the “brotherhood” of war.
TIFFANY DING / HERALD
Currently showing at Providence Place, “The 15:17 to Paris” fails to keep viewers entertained despite its unconventional practice of casting the real-life people involved in the terrorist attack that the film depicts. Flash-forward to high school, when the three men are now played by themselves. Eastwood nailed the casting continuity: The grown men are just as bad at acting as their younger counterparts. To be fair, all the actors — “actors” — are saddled by Dorothy Blyskal’s tin-eared, meandering script. Living nondescript middle-class lives, Alek and Spencer want to do something different and bigger than
MEETING THE CLIMATE-CHANGE CHALLENGE WHAT DO WE KNOW? WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
DR. JOHN P. HOLDREN Senior Advisor to the President, Woods Hole Research Center Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Formerly President Obama’s Science Advisor and Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15 AT 4:30PM 85 WATERMAN STREET, ROOM 130
themselves, so they decide to join the military — Alek the National Guard and Spencer the Air Force. Alek is stationed in Afghanistan and Spencer in the Azores Islands near Portugal, while Anthony stays stateside to attend college. Still fast friends, the three decide to meet up in Europe for a cross-continental tour. Spencer and Anthony get together first, touring Italy while Alek meets a girlfriend in Germany. For a while, the movie becomes the most benign, soporific travel documentary you’ve ever seen. Spencer and Anthony walk around, take selfies, and get gelato — Spencer goes for hazelnut, in case you want to know the flavor of champions. They marvel at the Colosseum — “It’s so big!” one of them observes — and tour Venice with a girl they meet on a boat who apparently had no plans of her own. Eventually, Anthony and Spencer meet up with Alek in Amsterdam, where the three of them grind with strangers in a nightclub and wake up with impressively unconvincing hangovers. It’s hard to overstate just how inane the whole travel sequence is.
Other than a moment when Spencer speaks of his feeling that life is “catapulting him” towards some greater purpose, none of it has any bearing on, well, anything. Finally, we get to the train attack, but the hour and change that precedes it is so resolutely uninvolving that the big moment feels like an anticlimax. And while that does make it ideal counterprogramming to the weekend’s other big release, “Fifty Shades Freed,” it’s a crushing blow to “The 15:17 To Paris.” It’s a real shame, because as a thought experiment, Eastwood’s idea is intriguing. Stopping a bad guy on a train is a classic action movie idea — “The Commuter” just used a version of it a month ago — so casting the real people who really did stop a bad guy on a train presents a unique opportunity to consider cinema, heroism and the intersection of the two. But “The 15:17 To Paris” doesn’t have a self-reflexive bone in its woefully inert body. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with straightforward drama. But here’s a free tip: Hire actors next time. They’re pretty good at that stuff.
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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018 • PAGE 5
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Pizza: Cheese, Pepperoni, Spinach and Feta, Bacon Chicken Ranch JOSIAH’S
Chicken Wings Bar, Mac and Cheese Bacon Burger
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DINING HALLS SHARPE REFECTORY LUNCH
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SAM BERUBE / HERALD
With President’s Day quickly approaching, the weather forecast predicts some sunny days ahead. Consider a study break of a long stroll on the boardwalk beneath the charming view of downtown Providence’s skyline.
Q U O T E O F T H E D AY
“Perfection is loneliness, because when I’m perfect, I don’t need you, and when I’m imperfect, I do.” — Alok Vaid-Menon, performance artist
See poet on page 1.
calendar TODAY FEBRUARY MARCH
Brown Pen Pals V-Day Grams 3:00 P.M. Lower Blue Room
Rubin ’80 – From Baghdad to Paris 5:30 P.M. Carmichael Auditorium
Telescope Observing Night at Ladd 7:00 P.M. Ladd Observatory
Mardi Gras Party! 9:00 P.M. Machado House
Share the Love: Valentine’s Day Sale 11:00 A.M. Sayles Hall
Valentine’s Day Run 4:15 P.M. Nelson Fitness Center
#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke 5:30 P.M. Salomon Center
Princess Bride Screen 8:00 P.M. Harkness House: Wriston Quad
COMMENTARY PAGE 6 • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
WBRU staff contributed to 101.1 LPFM To the Editor:
Lindsay Sack ’19
As Chief Executive Officer of WBRU, I would like to add a few thoughts to your Jan. 31, 2018 article “Providence organizations create new station.” In our recent transition to fully digital programming at WBRU, the staff of our 360 Degree Experience in Sound program wanted to ensure access to the community they have built in Providence, some of whom are incarcerated, without access to the internet. The dedication of our staff, engineers and 360 DJs who have built and programmed the new low-power FM signal, 101.1 LPFM — alongside Brown Student and Community Radio, AS220 and
Providence Community Radio — has ensured that those listeners can again find the Sunday program they’ve enjoyed for decades on the air. At the same time, WBRU is diving forward beyond radio — creating three different podcasts, running live sessions featuring local musicians, building a mobile app, covering Rhode Island news, programming two different online streams and more — in order to uncover untold stories and connect more deeply and directly with our community. We welcome students across all concentrations and interests to join us. Stay tuned.
Find us online! facebook.com/browndailyherald
Location: 195 Angell St., Providence, R.I. www.browndailyherald.com
Multimedia & Production
Editor-in-Chief Elena Renken
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COMMENTARY TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018 • PAGE 7
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
Trump’s proposal to save roads fails to make inroads crisis these past few months. President Trump has informally proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure project and many congressional Republicans seem on board. “Finally, serious government action!” says the armchair infrastructure enthusiast. Alas, it isn’t so. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the president’s proposed plan would not effectively solve our most pressing infrastructure issues. Rather, like the sweeping tax legislation before it, Trump’s infrastructure plan is designed to appear like it is solving some pressing policy issue while in reality, it is a way to fur-
CONNOR CARDOSO opinions editor As any driver in Rhode Island can tell you, infrastructure in our country has certainly seen better days. And while the potholes around Providence are a hassle, they don’t begin to capture the full scope of the United States’ infrastructure problem. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers — which evaluates American infrastructure annually across 16 categories, including the quality of bridges, dams, hazardous waste disposal and inland waterway transport — American infrastructure overall has a composite score of D+. To those of us who drive, take public transport, use electricity or drink water, this should be profoundly disturbing. And while policy experts and engineers have been ringing the alarm bells for years, our federal political institutions have done little to translate these recommendations into policy. Previous efforts by the Obama administration, for example, were blocked by congressional Republicans, who at that time were still willing to sacrifice crucial public goods on the altar of “fiscal conservatism.” Yet there has been renewed interest in addressing the infrastructure
it sets out to solve. What’s more, the plan’s methods for repairing our infrastructure are ineffective. The proposal, touted as a $1.5 trillion investment in public infrastructure, in reality only seeks to allocate $200 billion in federal spending. State and local governments are expected to match federal spending by a four-to-one ratio, according to CNN. If state and local governments were capable of allocating so much money toward infrastructure projects in the first place, it is unlikely their roads and bridges would have been languishing for as long as they have
its, as opposed to projects directly managed and funded by the government. While this arrangement may be desirable in some situations, it is certainly not an effective way to repair infrastructure nationally. This is because private firms lack the incentive to repair infrastructure in many of the areas that most desperately need it. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “(private investment) would not deliver many of the most important needed projects for roads and bridges, public transit, schools and public housing…” Without some way of ensuring that these
Like the sweeping tax legislation before it, Trump’s infrastructure plan is designed to appear like it is solving some pressing policy issue while in reality, it is a way to further enrich special interests. ther enrich special interests. For starters, Trump’s proposal does not allocate adequate funding to truly resolve the infrastructure crisis. In fact, the plan doesn’t even begin to approach the amount of investment necessary to bring our infrastructure back to a satisfactory state. According to the ASCE, $4.59 trillion would be required to bring our composite infrastructure score from a D+ to a B. While Democrats, for their part, have not proposed such an ambitious spending package either, the White House’s plan does not solve the issue
been. Placing the bulk of the spending burden on state and local governments, then, is not an effective approach to resolving this issue. Yet these are all questions of policy that could be resolved if those proposing the plan were acting in good faith. Unfortunately, the most troubling aspect of the plan demonstrates that policymakers in the White House are not bona fide supporters of our nation’s infrastructure. The plan crucially proposes that infrastructure funding would take the form of private projects subsidized via tax cred-
companies focus on projects in areas where they are most needed, rather than where they are most profitable, the plan will not only fail to repair most of our nation’s most seriously wanting infrastructure but will hasten an infrastructure gap between different parts of the country. And, unsurprisingly, the plan, according to the CBPP, will simply benefit these private construction companies, which “would own the projects, get huge federal tax credits equal to a stunning 82 percent of their equity investment and make profits from the tolls or fees
they would charge to consumers.” . Our nation is seriously in need of major public investment in our infrastructure. Aside from serving as a reminder that one of the world’s richest countries is run by a government so dysfunctional that it is willing to let its infrastructure languish in disrepair for decades, the sorry state of our roads and bridges is also costly and dangerous. President Trump has an opportunity here: Many Democrats have expressed a willingness to work with him on infrastructure, according to the Washington Post, and Republicans seem to have suspended their aversion to deficits. Many voters have expressed widespread support for a sweeping infrastructure plan, according to a CNN poll. There is perhaps no easier political win for a president that is in desperate need of one before this year’s midterm season. But, to the disappointment of armchair infrastructure enthusiasts everywhere, Trump and his administration will very likely squander the opportunity. Instead, we can look forward to a polarizing bill that merely rewards large corporations, neglecting our roads and bridges for the foreseeable future.
Connor Cardoso ’19 can be reached at connor_cardoso@ brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to email@example.com and op-eds to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time for some cautious optimism CLARE STEINMAN opinions editor Over the year that I’ve edited this section, I’ve come across a number of columns that include a variation on the phrase “now more than ever,” including plenty of my own. A dysfunctional administration coupled with far more concerning long-term trends like climate change, an uptick in racism and xenophobia and attacks on the very concept of truth have extended past the political and cultural spheres to give a sense that every moment is weighed down by the impending apocalypse. The 2018 Winter Olympics, which began in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday, don’t fit this narrative. How can the world be mired in division and destruction when 92 governments are willing to send 2,900 of their most talented citizens, not to mention key political leaders, to an arena just 50 miles from the nation supposedly poised to destroy us all? The very existence of this paragon of cooperation, of this celebration of common human achievement, is hard to reconcile with the gravity of “what’s going on in the world.” Attempting to do so highlights the problem with our “now more than ever” mentality: It leaves little room for genuine celebration and accomplishment and makes progress feel disingenuous, creating a culture of cynicism that could take decades to undo. During the opening ceremony, when athletes from South and North Korea prepared to enter the arena under a common flag depicting a united Korean peninsula, an NBC commentator wondered aloud if this was a genuine step
toward reconciliation or the last show of friendship before tragedy strikes. True, it’s easy enough to imagine images of that unified parade accompanying every news story in the world if the unthinkable did happen in Korea. It’s also a more comfortable concept to speculate about if you live thousands of miles away, as the commentator, an American, presumably does. But hearing
tions and inevitable conflict will only hasten that collapse and conflict. Though mindful of the persistent inequities and tragedies we still face, we should also take the time to celebrate the strength of the ties that bind us together without speculating on when they might sever. We should recognize triumphs — like the brief moment of Korean unity, and, more broadly, the coming togeth-
Every once in a while, it’s important to break out of the cloud of fear that hangs over nearly every story covered in the media. The Olympics offer us this opportunity once every two years, and we shouldn’t squander it.
that doomsday prognosis over the emotional, overjoyed faces of the united Korean team fostered a sense of imminent failure where there should have been cautious optimism. While this moment and the united Korean women’s hockey team’s game the following day were highly choreographed and symbolic, they still represent a meaningful diplomatic accomplishment, not the end of an unsteady peace. The growing acceptance of collapsing institu-
er of nearly 100 nations in the name of friendly competition and glory — for what they are. This doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to conflict or injustice or shifting focus away from immediate problems. But every once in a while, it’s important to break out of the cloud of fear that hangs over nearly every story covered in the media. The Olympics offer us this opportunity once every two years, and we shouldn’t squander it. Of course, the Olympics have never been
isolated from their political contexts, and this has manifested itself in ways both powerful — Jesse Owens in 1936 and Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising the “human rights salute” in 1968 — and horrific — the murder of 11 Israeli Olympians by terrorists from a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1972. More recently, the revelation of the decades of abuse carried out by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor, demonstrated that the Olympics themselves need to undergo as much soul-searching as our other formidable institutions to rid themselves of a culture that permits and hides sexual assault. But ultimately, the Olympics represent the best of our liberal democratic order: a diverse community united around seeking some higher triumph and understanding across nations. I hope that, rather than further complacency about the state of our world, the Olympics can remind us why we must stand up in defense of international cooperation. The Olympic vision — thousands of people of all backgrounds and nationalities standing side by side, advantaged only by their stunning talent and unwavering perseverance — bears little resemblance to the world we live in. But just as the athletes themselves provide a standard of achievement to which us regular people can aspire, we should view these two weeks not as a fleeting diversion from a world gone to pieces, but as a model of greatness that we can surely reach, with luck and years of practice.
Clare Steinman ’19 can be reached at email@example.com. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@ browndailyherald.com and op-eds to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWS THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018
Terahertz could be future of wireless communication, researchers say
COURTESY OF DANIEL MITTLEMAN
Terahertz data links, which researchers tested on the University’s campus, could increase the rate of data transfer and significantly increase the speed of wireless networks.
Researchers overcome important hurdle in quest to make high-frequency signals practical By JEFF DEMANCHE SENIOR STAFF WRITER
The frequency range found between microwave and infrared radiation could be a key player in the next generation of wireless communication. For the first time, University researchers have demonstrated that these “terahertz” frequencies can be reflected off walls and still transmit data precisely, an important early step in the development of this new technology. Terahertz data links could increase data transfer by a factor of more than a thousand compared with existing wireless technology, said Daniel Mittleman, professor of engineering and senior author of the study, which was published in APL Photonics. Terahertz communication occurs at frequencies above 95 gigahertz, said Jianjun Ma, postdoctoral
research associate and co-author of the study. Its use offers dramatically faster transfer speeds than does current wireless technology such as Wi-Fi routers, which operate in the microwave range of only a few gigahertz, Ma said. There are many obstacles to the widespread adoption of terahertz technology. Traditional microwaves broadcast in all directions from a transmitter, but terahertz signals must travel in a single direction, requiring the transmitter to point directly at the receiver, Mittleman said. Furthermore, terahertz signals are unable to travel through or around objects that disrupt their line of sight. “We have to find a way to go around blockages,” Mittleman said. Mittleman’s goal was to determine whether terahertz signals could bounce off walls in order to bypass disruptions while still transferring data accurately. To study this,
Mittleman’s team set up devices capable of transmitting and receiving terahertz frequencies and then reflected the signals off walls of a variety of materials. They measured the number of “ones and zeroes” received and calculated the “bit-error-rate,” the number of incorrect transfers made per bits sent, Mittleman said. The researchers found that even bouncing the signal off two walls — around a corner in Barus and Holley — resulted in a bit-error-rate of one in a billion. “It’s way better than your phone actually does,” Mittleman said. The researchers also tested the technology outdoors, a task that required a special license from the Federal Communications Commission. Any outdoors tests above 100 gigahertz require such a license to ensure they do not interfere with satellites, Mittleman said. He hopes the FCC will start paying more attention to terahertz technology. Generating signals with enough power at terahertz frequencies poses another technical hurdle to its usage as a means of data communication.
“We proved that even though it was reflected by the wall two times, we still had enough power to keep the data link,” Ma said. It remains unclear how many bounces might be possible for a practical terahertz data link, Mittleman said, adding that this was a first demonstration and more research can be done to determine the technology’s limits. Aside from being studied as a mode of wireless communication, terahertz waves have been examined for various other purposes, said Rajind Mendis, assistant research professor of engineering, who has studied the technology for nearly two decades. According to Mendis, terahertz waves can penetrate certain substances, including cardboard, paper and ceramics. For this reason, they are used in detection of explosives and illicit drugs, food quality control, preservation of historical artwork and diagnoses of certain cancers, Mendis said.
Mendis believes that terahertz signals will eventually become part of the next generation of wireless data transfer. “It is inevitable that we are moving towards the terahertz range for communications,” Mendis said. While higher-frequency radiation, such as X-rays, poses some risk to humans, terahertz waves are not harmful at all, Mendis said. Mittleman is skeptical that terahertz-range frequencies could replace current 4G or future 5G cell networks, but he believes the technology could be used in many other cases. He envisioned someone stopping by a kiosk in an airport and being able to download a high-definition movie to their phone in a matter of seconds, or a data center using the technology to route data wirelessly. Mittleman, Ma and Mendis all noted that with the interconnectedness of devices on the “Internet of Things,” the use of terahertz frequencies could prevent such devices from clogging existing wireless networks, making them faster.
The February 13, 2018 issue of the Brown Daily Herald