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02.23.12 vol. xlii, no. 39 The Indy is making news. Cover Design by
angela song, sayantan deb, and gary gerbrandt
FORUM 3 #TweetMe 4 Oprah is Coming! 5 Role Model 6 No Shame in Shyness NEWS 7 He Ran, She Ran, We All Ran from Iran! 7 Locked and Loaded ARTS 8 D o I t A gain , D enzel 9 Reese's Pieces 9 My Vagina, My Voice 10 One Moment in Time SPORTS 11 The B Game asketball
As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact Co-Presidents Whitney Lee and Gary Gerbrandt (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Meghan Brooks (email@example.com). For email subscriptions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2012 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved
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Gary Gerbrandt '14 Whitney Lee '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Miranda Shugars '14 Christine Wolfe '14 Carlos Schmidt '15 Sayantan Deb '14 Curtis Lahaie '15 Michael Altman '14 Angela Song '14 Will Simmons '14 Sanyee Yuan '12 Celia Zhang '13
Staff Writers Clare Duncan '14 Travis Hallett '14 Yuqi Hou '15 Cindy Hsu '14 Mohammed Hussain '15 Yuying Luo '12 Zena Mengesha '14 Marina Molarsky-Beck '15 Riva Riley '12 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Marc Shi '14 Weike Wang '11 Faith Zhang '11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Travis Hallett '14 Nina Kosaric '14 Alexandria Rhodes '14
Picks of the Week Celebrating Paine When: Friday, February 24th at 5:00 p.m. Where: John Knowles Paine Concert Hall What: The John Knowles Paine Concert Hall, long closed for renovations, is celebrating its grand re-opening tomorrow with a performance by the Portland String Quartet. The Quartet will showcase Walter Piston’s “Quartet No. 1” and John Knowles Paine’s own “String Quartet in D Major, Op. 5” to commemorate the occasion. Harvard v. Princeton: Men’s Basketball When: Friday, February 24th at 7:00 p.m. Where: Lavietes Pavilion, Athletic Complex What: After losing to Princeton 62-70 on February 11th, the Tigers remain Harvard’s biggest threat to the Ivy League Championship Title. Tickets are sold out, but if you have one you’re in for a vicious showdown. Although the game against UPenn on Saturday evening will likely be a nail-biter as well, Friday’s game is the one that matters. After having to share the title with Princeton last year, the Crimson is getting greedy, and that’s sure to show on the court tomorrow night. Cultural Rhythms When: Saturday, February 25th at 3:00 p.m. (Afternoon Show) and 8:00 p.m. (Evening Show) Where: Sanders Theatre What: This Saturday, Sanders stage will be taken over by the stomping rhythms, twirling skirts, and harmonic vocals of Harvard’s most talented cultural performing arts groups in the Harvard Foundation’s annual celebration of diversity at Harvard, Cultural Rhythms. Everything from bhangra to Hebrew a cappella to mariachi to Capoeira will be spread over two shows, an afternoon show and an evening show, separated by a cultural food bazaar in the Science Center. Although the evening show will showcase dazzling performances of its own and will feature a talent show during which kids from PBHA’s various after-school programs will perform, the highlight of the day will undoubtedly be John Legend’s appearance at the afternoon show. Although it is not guaranteed that 2012’s Artist of the Year will perform, basking in Mr. Legend’s glow should be enough for his fans.
02.23.12 • The Harvard Independent
Point/Counterpoint Instant Media: Instant Mess? Tidbitization is the Wave of the Future By GARY GERBRANDT
ost of my friends make fun of
me for actually appreciating and using Twitter. “It’s unnecessary,” they say. Some think I’m a Belieber (a member of the shapeless mass of twelve-year-old girls who tweet their undying devotion to their Queen Bieb). Others take a limited perspective on the service, focusing on its occasional obsession with bizarre trends like #ReplaceRihannaSongTitlesWithCake.
Yet Twitter, and in fact, modern, to-the-minute news media in its mobile and online forms is deeper than any of its many flaws suggest. If you follow the right people and organizations, tune into the right networks, mentally filter out the insane fandom hashtags and the Kim Kardashian updates, and avoid actually following people you know on Twitter, (who are, in my experience, just as bad as the Beliebers), you can cobble together a compelling, up-to-theinstant source of both breaking news and analysis from anywhere. There is a veritable news symphony constantly being played, first with the news ticker and 24-hour coverage, then news networks online, news hubs like the Huffington Post, and now, Twitter (and, for that matter, the rest of the Internet — Twitter is simply its best summarizer, proponent, and sounding board). No matter what the minutiae of one’s interests are, it’s possible to find a news source that will address them. To take a random example, if you’re desperate to be the first to know when news happens at Google, Bing or Yahoo!? There’s always Search Engine Land, @sengineland. In addition to more traditional news coverage, which continues to provide in-depth reporting on and analysis of events and stories, various news organizations dutifully tweet whenever news breaks (a news tweet informed me that Whitney Houston had died last weekend); others use their Twitter accounts as platforms to address their longer works of journalism to a broad audience. The New York Times uses its many
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Twitter accounts aggressively, and draws in plenty of traffic to its website from the re-tweeting and sharing of its links. Virtually every major news organization has a Twitter presence, meaning that any consumer of the media can engage with news sources like a hungry fat man at an endless buffet. While one might argue that constant streaming is actually bad for the media, that ramming news into 140-character bursts is reductive and potentially damaging, saying so ignores the endless process of sound-biteization that has taken over the news as it has made its way onto television. Yet it does more than simply shorten the news (and it hardly does that); Twitter gives journalists a platform to discuss their work, their stories, and their lives. It allows readers to engage with the producers of news in real time, asking questions, giving suggestions, and providing commentary in a way that has never before been possible. Perhaps the most obvious and important way in which Twitter and instant media has been helpful is that it is an excellent way to reach a particular stratum of the newsreading public whose interests in accuracy and timeliness combine with a desire for analysis and thoughtful reporting. Tweets facilitate the conjoining of those wishes in one central place, while quick, breaking-news updates online reach those who don’t have the time or interest to read longer pieces in a more traditional format. Life moves fast, and with nearly seven billion people in the world, news moves faster. Twitter and instant media are simply the best way to keep afloat, and to remain engaged in it all. @GaryGerbrandt‘14 (garygerbrandt@college) may be #overstimulated, but golly, is he #informed!
It’s the little things that don’t count. By CLARE DUNCAN
should open by pointing out that
I am not-so-secretly 80 years old at heart. I enjoy embroidering, my bedtime falls around 10pm, and I have on occasion worn a hat to church. So it should come as no surprise that, given the option, I prefer print to online media, and both to Twitter. My preference, however, does not stem from some romanticized vision of serving my future husband breakfast as he turns the physical pages of his newspaper, chortling over the op-eds and tsk-tsking over the business section. While online media has its upsides (free access to news, shorter delays in reporting), it can also devolve into a slippery slope of institutionalized hyperactivity, becoming a barrage of unceasing information and online comments. As our world becomes more technologically advanced, the stream of information presented to us via Twitter and other web-based news sources becomes more and more like a Niagara Falls of news stories. The pace of information gets faster, and suddenly breaking news from Thailand joins the latest Tim Tebow discussion in the buzz on your phone or on your home page every time you hit refresh. Yes, this may allow us better access to important events — think 9/11, the earthquake in Japan, and the Chilean miners — but it also creates an unceasing onslaught of material bombarding our senses from electronic device. This never-ending flow of communication is not necessarily a good thing. It means our attention is always divided between the mobile equivalent of a CNN ticker and whatever else we’re supposed to be doing. When we are constantly hit with news (or should I say “news,” since Kim Kardashian’s divorce doesn’t really count as news, at least in my opinion), it dulls the senses and makes the really important things less shocking – or worse, less noticeable. It becomes more difficult to pick out what is actually important to us and to our society. Along with this flood of news comes, of course, the commenters, the re-tweeters, and the like. The fact that online media is so easily accessible means that everyone has a chance to join in the conversation. This may technically increase the sampling
population for measures of public opinion, but several points should be taken into account. Those who actually take the time to post comments on articles and write on blogs generally feel passionately about one of the more definitive sides of an argument. When was the last time you read “eh, I’d prefer this economic plan, but I’d be good with anything”? Many of the comments I read online are extremely polemical, sometimes downright vicious. Online media is no longer a place for tempered debate among thoughtful citizens, but an anonymous forum for the denizens of controversy and angry rhetoric. The 140 characters provided by Twitter, on the other hand, breed simple thoughtlessness. The steadfast flow of news and “news” combines with the commenters to produce a culture that feeds on the sound bite and hypes up every tiny event. Politicians’ or actors’ offhand comments can be immortalized in a video clip that spreads like wildfire across the Internet, snowballing into some great controversy that will be forgotten the second the next clip comes around. News channels report on what a fifteensecond clip could mean for so-andso’s reelection campaign in a vote that is still ten months away. This is probably my greatest concern: we are losing perspective. Small things become nonnegotiable issues, important events get lost in the shuffle of stories, and the level of virulent language rises. We are exposed to so many competing voices that we must shout to be heard; being shocking and overthe-top is one of the few ways to be able to stick out in the deluge of news. This all stems from the fact that every little thing can be reported online. Every little thing can be posted somewhere on the Web, and every little thing will have commenters and tweeters. Online media may provide a greater wealth of information to a greater number of people, but it also perpetuates a culture of information inundation and polemical rhetoric. If Clare Duncan ’14 (cduncan@college) weren’t such a hypocrite, she would insist that this article be published only in the print newspaper, and not put on the Indy’s website.
The Queen of Media Meets the Queen of Pop The other famous face of the Born This Way Foundation. By WHITNEY LEE
Photo courtesy of WikiCommons.
we hope to establish a standard of Bravery and Kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment," said Lady Gaga. Led and directed by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, BTWF will partner with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The California Endowment, which are both ranked among the top foundations in the country and focus on unique aspects of youth empowerment. The foundation will also partner with the Berkman
Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, one of the most cutting edge institutions in the country focusing on the power of the Internet as a means to promote change. An advisory board will also be appointed and announced soon. That’s where Oprah comes in. No one is a better fit to join Lady Gaga in her philanthropic work. Oprah has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others, which is exactly what the Born This Way Foundation seeks to do by helping to curtail the
Photo courtesy of WikiCommons.
Lady G aga would be joining us at the end of next week to launch her Born This Way Foundation, but who knew that she would be bringing Oprah with her? Apparently, the Queen of Media, Oprah Winfrey, is among those scheduled to join Lady Gaga at Harvard University this month for the launch of the Born This Way Foundation. The nonprofit is scheduled to be unveiled Feb. 29 at Harvard's Graduate School of Education before policy makers, foundation leaders, and youth. According to Lady Gaga’s press statement, she will also be flanked by author and speaker Deepak Chopra; the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius; and Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School's Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and the Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. The Born This Way Foundation will address issues like selfconfidence, well-being, antibullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy. According to the Facebook page for the Born This Way Foundation, the organization will support programs and initiatives that deal with all aspects of empowering youth. The non-profit charitable organization will lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be. BTWF will focus on youth empowerment and equality by addressing issues like self-confidence, well-being, antibullying, mentoring and career development and will utilize digital mobilization as one of the means to create positive change. "My mother and I have initiated a passion project. We call it the Born This Way Foundation. Together e all knew that
number of instances of bullying and promote the education of both education professionals and the public at large about how to prevent bullying and create a more accepting society. Oprah is a good counterbalance to Lady Gaga, as Oprah is an established philanthropic figure in addition to being a media mogul with one of the most recognizable faces on Earth. Oprah has always selflessly given to others without expecting anything in return: she exemplifies both love and care. Moreover, Oprah has a personal connection to the message of Lady Gaga’s foundation; she truly understands what it is like to have a rough childhood. Though she has never spoken publicly about having been bullied per se, her childhood was racked with both physical and psychological abuse, all of which she overcame to become the shining pillar of love, strength and truth that she is today. Oprah is the sort of woman that others can look at and feel hopeful thinking, “If Oprah could survive, then so can I”. Oprah’s goals of helping people—especially children—tie in nicely with the purpose of the Born This Way Foundation, as she is a major proponent of education. Of all of the accomplishments she has had in her career, she is most proud of the school that she created in Africa, designed to educate girls who might otherwise not have had the chance to go to school. Oprah is a symbol of generosity, tenacity and hard work. She teaches people to pick themselves up through hard times and march on. She teaches to forgive, but most of all, she teaches us to believe, to believe in ourselves and in our dreams. Whitney Lee ’14 (whitneylee@college) is quite possibly Oprah’s biggest fan.
02.23.12 • The Harvard Independent
A Survivor, a Traveler, an Inspiration My grandmother’s flight from Bangladesh to America. By MOHAMMED HUSSAIN
have always wondered what
made my grandmother who she is today. She has always been the most kind and compassionate person I know; she has so much love for the people around her — from her own children and grandchildren to the neighbors — that sometimes I wonder if she’s just my grandmother or everyone else’s as well. Yet, she is as strong as she is gentle, a woman who, even in her old age, has one of the strongest grips that I have ever known (I was once misbehaving as a child and had to experience it myself!). Being so curious, I asked her one day, and she told me her story. My grandmother was born an orphan; she never saw her parents’ faces and had to live with her relatives. She was never given the chance to learn how to read or write in Bengali (however, she did get the opportunity to learn Arabic and read the Qur’an). Nevertheless, these unfortunate events could not outweigh the good aspects of her teenage years. Food was plentiful during that time and she enjoyed the apples, oranges, grapes, rice, chicken, and other foods available to her. She traveled frequently; she went to different places in Bangladesh, such as her father’s friend’s house, and her aunt’s house, and visited different villages and towns. She also wore beautiful clothing. My grandmother was adorned with luxurious clothing with
The Harvard Independent • 02.23.12
embroidered designs and fancy fabric; she remembers the beautiful saris that ranged from shimmering red to bright yellow. Eventually, she married my grandfather. Life was good. However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Not more than a few years after my grandmother’s marriage, disaster struck. Pakistan mobilized, Bangladesh prepared. A war was beginning. Bangladesh is a small country. If you looked at its size and compared it to the size of Pakistan, the country that had control of Bangladesh before the war, you would be surprised that Bangladesh was actually able to become independent. My grandmother’s country, the und erd og , wa nt ed freed om . As the war continued in Bangladesh, men were dying, blood was being shed, and families were being split apart from one another every day. My grandmother had to labor to keep her children safe along with herself and her husband. She eventually went into a refugee camp. Food had become extremely limited. According to my grandmother, one gram of flour cost one hundred Bangladeshi dollars. She could not eat much, because she did not want her family members to starve. My grandmother says the war was dangerous; men were slaughtered and animals killed. Blood could be seen for miles and miles. After
many long periods of violence, the war was over. Bangladesh had overcome the odds and become an independent nation. A long time after the war, after peace had been restored to Bangladesh, my grandmother came to America. It was a strange experience to fly on an airplane; she had never seen anything so big up close and had never been so far from the ground. When she arrived, she was very nervous; the tall buildings and large, crowded streets were strikingly different from the villages and small, lonely roads in Bangladesh. She felt half unconscious and nauseous. Nostalgia overtook her as she realized how far she was from her home country. Nevertheless, she adapted to the atmosphere of the Bronx. I n fa ct , sh e st a rt e d t o l i k e A m e ri ca . W h e n sh e w a l k e d down the street, police officers woul d a i d her a nd c a l l h e r “mommy” to show respect for her as elderly person, and occasionally people in stores would greet her. As the years have passed, she has grown content with the paved sidewalks, hot dog stands, and busy lights of New York City. However, she will never forget where she came from, and how she grew up. She remembers the happy times and harsh times. She remembers the happiness before the war. She remembers how the war changed her life — no longer did she have the
beautiful clothing, food, or privileges to explore that she did when she was a child. She remembers coming to America, where, despite having to adjust to a new lifestyle and deal with the hardships of American life, she is now content. These experiences have shaped her life and made her the person she is today; no matter what, she will never forget Bangladesh. While those experiences have made her who she is, she is also responsible for making me who I am. She has been a role model for me as I have grown up; the way she carries herself with grace and dignity, gives without expecting anything in return, and loves unconditionally have been qualities that I can only try to emulate. Her stories have taught me many lessons that I could not dream of learning at school, her compassion has taught me how to care for others, and her strength is a constant source of inspiration. Although I am in Harvard now, and she is back in New York, I can’t help but see a part of her in me. Hopefully, the way I treat others reflects the cornerstone of her personality. If I am grounded, if I treat others with love and respect, it is all thanks to her. Mohammed Hussain ‘15 (mohammedhussain@college) hopes he can inspire his family as much as they have inspired him.
Still Waters Reflecting on introversion in a world of extroverts in Quiet. By FAITH ZHANG
Quiet: The Power of Introverts a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain takes on what she calls the Extrovert Ideal, asserting that introversion has unfairly gotten a bad rap in contemporary society when in fact it has a great deal to offer in every area of life. For Cain, introversion is not a disadvantage—it is simply a set of traits that carries its own value, which has sometimes been overlooked. The reader should note that Cain does not hew to a strict definition of introversion, which is defined somewhat differently by various schools of psychology; likewise, she uses the layman’s term extroversion instead of the extraversion that shows up in the psychological literature. Rather, she describes a constellation of traits that are associated with the common conception of introversion, though one need not possess every one of these traits to be an introvert: sensitivity, empathy, a need for time alone and a preference for one-onone interaction over large groups, a tendency toward heavier conversation over small talk. Though it draws on studies across a variety of fields, including psychology, sociology, and neurology, Quiet is not even a pop science book; it is part affirmation, part social commentary, part selfhelp primer, supported by but not primarily focused on science. Perhaps the section most directly applicable to daily life comes when Cain discusses introversion in the workplace. The recent trend has been toward organizing employees into teams and placing them in workspaces with increasingly open plans and less private space, but Cain quotes studies that find that group brainstorming produces fewer and lower-quality ideas than the same number of people brainstorming alone, and that the larger the group, the worse the performance; that true expertise requires focused and solitary practice; that more creative people tend to be “socially poised introverts”; and that employees
perform better given more privacy. Critics will clamor that group work is vital to creativity, that the greatest achievements are made possible by collaboration (cf. the responses to Cain’s pieces for the New York Times leading up to the publication of Quiet). They have missed the point. Cain is not in the least claiming that we should all shut ourselves away and labor in monkish solitude; rather, her assertion is that constant and forced interaction has deleterious effects on productivity and creativity. It’s not a particularly complicated theory; it’s just that time alone “concentrates the mind on the tasks in hand, and prevents the dissipation of energy on social and sexual matters unrelated to work,” whereas in a group some members coast, others dominate more by their loudness than by the merit of their ideas, and others retreat under social pressure. The kind of collaboration that is truly productive, as Cain points out, often takes place from a distance — researchers at different universities, or people scattered across the globe and connected by the Internet — and allows individuals to discuss their projects when desired but then return to their own work. Cain is merely arguing that we mistake affability for creativity—that perhaps ideas develop better when allowed to incubate in thoughtful silence. I am, I confess, an introvert (an admission I perhaps should not make in public until I have a job offer in hand!) and thus it was inevitable that I read Quiet through that lens. It was enormously validating. I am not, these days, shy or retiring, but I grew up as someone who might like books more than people, who lives in the world of thoughts and ideas inside her head—the traits that got me into college, and that I have become increasingly aware are really only an advantage until college. To know that not only am I not alone but to have these traits explained and given value usually denied to them— reading this book was for the most part one long internal fist-pump.
That said, Quiet is not a book without flaws. There is a problematic chapter devoted to East Asian culture, which Cain asserts is much more encouraging of introversion. It’s true that Asian-Americans have a reputation for being quiet, and yet I am wary of blanket generalizations regarding entire cultures; but Cain seems to be conflating different cultural norms of respect (i.e. whether teachers can be argued with) with the actual personality traits that make up introversion. A Chinese classroom may be quiet, but the same cannot be said of a Chinese marketplace. And after all, there is nothing louder than a Chinese dinner party except a jackhammer (or, as someone suggested, an Indian dinner party). It is a chapter that makes me uncomfortable. I would like to think that my introversion is a mark of myself as an individual rather than a product of my culture. After all, my brother is a raging extrovert who had the misfortune to be born into a family of introverts, with the result that on the rare occasions when my entire family is home he is the one bouncing between the rooms in which the rest of us are silently on our laptops. That aside, however, Quiet has much to offer both introverts and the extroverts who would like to understand them. Harvard readers may be particularly interested in sections that deal with introverts at HBS, the so-called “Spiritual Capital of Extroversion,” and professor emeritus Brian Little, an exciting lecturer and beloved teacher who sometimes hid in the restroom between lectures to have a moment to himself. Little is also the originator of Free Trait Theory, which states that people “are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits — introversion, for example — but we can and do act out of character in the service of ‘core personal projects’”, a theory that both makes sense of people who claim to be introverts while appearing to
be extroverts and grants agency to individuals in a way that psychosocial theories often do not. Perhaps the most interesting chapter, though — one that could make an entire book in itself — is the brief piece of social history that opens the book, in which Cain describes the shift over the last century from the “Culture of Character” to the “Culture of Personality”. In the former, what mattered was “not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private”; in the latter, the focus moved to the perception of the public self. One’s self became a performance, and with this change, the extrovert took center stage as the ideal personality. There is something essentially cynical about the Culture of Personality —the idea that content doesn’t matter very much as long as it is well-marketed and easily sold. It is hard to deny that, all else equal, people who are louder or flashier or more charming will receive more attention; but I would like to think that good ideas have some inherent worth, that they should be able to speak for themselves. Call me an idealist, but to me Quiet seems also in part a gentle rebuke to a culture that values style over substance, in which people evince a desire to lead—to “display leadership”—without taking the time to think carefully about where to go. As Cain shows, introverts and extroverts have a great deal to offer one another, for our modern selves as much as our hunter-gatherer ancestors: boldness tempered with caution, eagerness tempered with patience, interaction tempered with introspection. In the end, Cain’s point is not that introverts are inherently superior, or that we should all shroud ourselves in solitude; it is only that, in personality as in everything else, diversity provides balance and makes for a fuller, richer world. Faith Zhang '11 (fhzhang@fas) read this book alone. Then she wrote this review alone.
02.23.12 • The Harvard Independent
War of Words
A rms and I nfluence , N obel Prize winning economist and Harvard alumni Thomas Schelling discusses the new nature of global geopolitics: violent and threatening diplomacy. With powerful and devastating biological and nuclear weapons, to say the least, states no longer have to resort to combat but merely need to threaten each other into compliance. In layman’s terms, states resort to brinkmanship, the Cold War practice of pursuing a dangerous policy to its near limits to pressure rivals into full compliance or fear. The rising tension between Iran and Western nations highlights this new and growing tendency in geopolitics. For weeks, Iran and Western nations, headed by the United States, have been at odds regarding the Strait of Hormuz, a small waterway between the United Arab Emirates and Iran, and Iran’s nuclear program. Both n
sides threaten to exert economic and military pressure. Both the United States and the European Union have taken decisive steps to halt Iran’s presumptuous nuclear build-up. Independently, both have established economic sanctions against Iran, barring many of its exports, including oil. In a joint statement by the Treasury and State Departments, Secretary Geithner and Secretary Clinton stated that the new sanctions are “another strong step in the international effort to dramatically increase the pressure on Iran.” Conversely, Iran’s oil ministry recently announced that it was halting all oil sales to British and French companies, sending warning signs and price hikes across the oil and transportation industries. Even more worrisome are the recent events taking place in the Strait of Hormuz. Over the last couple
Iran’s nuclear brinkmanship. By CARLOS SCHMIDT
of weeks, Iran has been increasing its military presence in the Strait of Hormuz, asserting that, in order to defend its right to a peaceful nuclear program, it can close Western access, and consequently, stop oil exports from the United Arab Emirates. The United States has been swift to respond, sending an aircraft carrier to the area and warning Iran that it is ready to take the necessary measures to safeguard its access to the area. However, the recent developments and constant retaliation are only part of a larger conflict that goes through cyclical highs and lows. That is to say, the relationship between Western nations and Iran has always been fragile. Since Iranians stormed the American embassy in Tehran in the 1970s, the United States has had a troubled relationship with Iran. Just because tensions have risen to a critical point, it does not mean the
United States and Iran have not been there before. Taking the Cold War as an example, one can see that the United States and the then Soviet Unions reached many points in which everyone thought the world was going to explode into nuclear war. That is not to say that Iran’s nuclear program is not a serious concern. Any nation has the right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program; however, given Iran’s record, the purpose of its program is dubious. The point being, given the new facet of geopolitics, the tension between the United States and the West are not the most worrisome aspect of the dispute. Rather, the most worrisome aspect is figuring out a way to peacefully approach Iran without going beyond brinkmanship. Carlos Schmidt ’15 (cschmidt@college) hopes Iran isn’t on the Edge of Glory.
Megaupload No More: One Month Later By WHITNEY LEE
S top Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) discussion, the Unites States District Court seized one of Internet’s largest file-sharing sites, Megaupload (also referred to as Megavideo). Megaupload was an online file-sharing site where users could upload videos, most often television shows and movies. The seven founders of Megaupload were charged with creating and organizing a $500 million worldwide piracy ring that trafficked in copyrighted movies, books and music. They were also charged with five counts of racketeering, copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. If convicted, the seven could be jailed for up to 20 years. According to prosecutors, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (formerly Kim Schmitz) made $27 million from Megaupload in 2010. With the Megaupload shutdown, the discussion over anti-piracy has intensified. For up-and-coming artists, software n the tail end of the
The Harvard Independent • 02.23.12
Mourning the fall of an Internet giant.
developers and independent filmmakers, uploading projects onto the Internet for free is a great way for them to become known. It is both an affordable way to promote their work and to some, a way to earn some critical revenue. However, sites like Megaupload have the opposite effect for established artists and big movie companies because they lose a lot of their potential revenue when their films and music are shared and disseminated for free. The conflict here is that when sites like Megaupload are shut down, all of the content is no longer available, even the things for which users had legitimate permission to share, which forces these up-and-coming artists to search for other ways to share their music. These musicians and artists who are struggling to be discovered suffer when free file-sharing sites are shut down. Though the aim of the US District Court is not to harm these individuals but rather to curtail online piracy,
undiscovered artists become a sort of collateral damage. Campaigners for a fair and balanced copyright law are joining forces to consider a legal claim against the US Government’s seizure of Hong Kong-based hosting site Megaupload. One group of Megaupload users in Spain announced a collective civil action against the FBI earlier this week. The group believes that legitimate users of Megaupload who were using the service to store personal files and documents and who are now unable to access those files due to the FBI’s seizure of the information stored on the site’s servers may have legal recourse. The group, in their public statement wrote, “When the United States Government shut down access to Megaupload, a multitude of innocent users who stored legitimate, noninfringing files on the cloud-storage service were left with no means to access their data.” The hope behind shutting down sites like Megaupload is that people will be forced to use legal methods of file-
acquisition to watch movies and listen to music, methods such as Amazon Mp3, Amazon Video and iTunes. Though this is the hope, this is rarely the case. Most people who use these free filesharing sites simply move onto others to avoid paying for their online media. As Steve Jobs once said, “When people cannot afford to buy legitimate music or deem the price of music to be too high, they will resort to piracy.” As soon as Megaupload went silent, dozens of copycat pages propped up worldwide, demonstrating the challenges in fighting illegal downloading solely with laws. At the same time though, the raid was a stern warning for any company or person facilitating piracy on a global scale. Ultimately, shutting down sites like Megaupload ends up bolstering the online traffic for other file-sharing websites and nothing really changes in the grand scheme of things. Whitney Lee ’14 (whitneylee@college) thinks that we are still a long way away from figuring out the way to stop online piracy. email@example.com
Safe House Short Version: If you like Denzel, you’ll like it. If you hate Denzel, you’ll hate it. By WHITNEY LEE
afe House opens in South Africa, where a young CIA operative named Matt Weston, played by familiar face, Ryan Reynolds, spends his days staring at the walls of an empty safe house. The viewer never finds out exactly why, so please don’t spend the entire movie asking yourself why the CIA would assign this task to a guy who has been trained to a host of other things — but I digress. Weston has applied, and been passed over, several times for positions in more attractive locales, with his inexperience always being the reason given for the rejections. Then suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, a man named Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is brought to his safe house. Frost is a legend within the CIA. A former operative himself, he was an all-star within the agency until he suddenly went rogue ten years prior to his run-in with Weston. It is revealed to the viewer that he had been selling top-secret government information to foreign countries, and the agency has been fruitlessly searching for him ever since. [SPOILER ALERT] At
the end of one such transaction gone horribly awry, Frost suddenly realizes that the only way he can save himself – even if it’s momentarily – is to turn himself in to the U.S. Consulate in South Africa. Once in custody and at the safe house, the bad guys attack, forcing Weston and Frost to team up in an effort to survive. Up until this point everything shown is stuff that was seen featured in the trailer. Though I initially had some concerns about the age of Washington’s character, I was pleasantly surprised by the approach that the filmmakers took with Washington’s age. Keep in mind that he is fifty-seven years old — younger than Richard Gere but older than George Clooney. Director Daniel Espinosa never shied away from highlighting the white spots of hair on his head or in his beard, showing that this was an older man, but the film also made it clear that the character was still in peak physical condition, much like Washington himself, who I personally think does not look a day over forty-three years old. My thoughts on Washington’s looks aside, for most viewers the idea that Frost is
still as good with a gun as he was in his twenties is a bit of a stretch, but it’s a stretch that we as viewers are willing to make nonetheless, frankly, because it is Denzel. Unfortunately, Espinosa does not exert as much effort in crafting wellrounded portrayals of characters from his other actors. Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal) is easily at his most miscast as the baby-faced agent in over his head. I can understand why a studio would want two big-name actors to promote this type of a film, but for once this would have been a situation where it would have been appropriate for the production to cast a young up-and-comer and save a little cash in the process. Reynolds, thirty-five, is too old at this point to play a wetbehind-the-ears rookie anything. A twenty-two year-old who is actually somewhat intimidated by Washington and his reputation in the acting world might have done Reynolds’s role better justice. The supporting cast doesn’t fare much better. Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) and Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) have both been on a roll of stellar
work, but unfortunately their streaks end here. Neither gives an impressive performance and I expected more from each actor. I understand why both actors would take the roles as offered; as character actors on a hot streak, you gladly accept the roles that come with high salaries while you can. It’s just sad that both have shown that they are capable of much better work, and just weren’t able to act above the material given to them. Safe House is exactly the film that the studio has been selling in their advertisements and in the trailer. It’s a fairly formulaic action film, fastpaced, an unlikely partnership with a current of deceit running through the film. There are no massive surprises to be found here, only double-crosses among the characters that come off as subtly as a brick to the head. If you are looking for an action-thriller that offers Washington one more (maybe one last) chance to carry a gun and lead a car chase, then this one is for you. Whitney Lee ’14 (whitneylee@college ) really likes Denzel Washington.
02.23.12 • The Harvard Independent
A Battle for My Heart The Indy reviews This Means War.
n deciding which recent release
to review, I was struck by the abundance of films related to the CIA currently in theatres. There’s Safe House , an action/adventure/ suspense/thriller about an adventure centered on a CIA safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. More interesting to me, though, was This Means War , an action/adventure/comedy/ romance, which focused on two CIA operatives who fall in love with the same woman and battle for her affection. Admittedly, I chose This Means War without thinking twice; as much as I love fast-paced action scenes, my heart is taken away when these scenes are coupled with scenes filled with humor and love. And This Means War definitely took my heart, although not completely. What really makes This Means War is Reese Witherspoon’s performance as Lauren. Although her performances
in other films like Legally Blonde and Water for Elephants were strong, her performance in This Means War is decidedly special. She is the woman over whom best friends and fellow CIA agents FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck Henson (Tom Hardy) fall madly in love. Her performance is not only believable, but alluring—that is, while watching the movie, you can’t help but fall just a little in love with her, too. There’s something particularly enticing about her decision to continue dating both men at once despite her initial inclinations not to. We quickly learn that her initial angelic appearance is a façade; she’s willing to take some risks, which adds something special to her character. One scene in particular captures the value she adds to the film—and it’s one in which she doesn’t actually act. FDR and Tuck are discussing their new hot girlfriends when they
By CURTIS LAHAIE turn their computer screens to show each other the identities of their respective partners. The viewer knows that the men will show each other identical pictures, and you can’t help but sit on the edge of your seat as you anticipate their responses: Will they break out in a fight? Open their mouths in awe? Instead, they quickly decide, as the competitive men that they are, that they’ll leave it up to Lauren to pick the best man. Although the viewer anticipates this scene—the inevitability that the best friends will reveal their lovers’ identities to each other eventually—its predictability does not destroy its effect. By this point, the viewer loves Lauren so much that the men’s decision about her is especially poignant. I must admit, though, that there were times I wish I’d seen Safe House. It is just incredibly difficult to strike the perfect balance between
action and romantic comedy. This Means War was certainly more on the romantic-comedy side, so the scenes filled with high- octane action at times seemed out of place. A sudden shift from chasing a girl to chasing an international criminal as the film proceeds is a bit unsettling. The action aspects of the film fall short of expectations, but the film ends on a strong note, returning to its power as a romantic comedy. Despite my intermittent inclinations to switch to Safe House, I ultimately did not regret my decision. Even though the mix of action and romance was not perfect, Witherspoon’s performance made up for it. If there was a battle for my heart, This Means War definitely won. Curtis Lahaie ’15 (clahaie@college) wouldn’t mind another battle, especially one that involves Reese Witherspoon.
Vaginas Unite Reflections on the Vagina Monologues.
have a vagina.
And that changes everything, obviously. Especially sitting in the packed, mixed gender audience at the Agassiz Theatre on a Friday night (with Will Simmons of William-Tell-All, I might add). Personally, being a vaginapossessing female, I understand the pride, the awkwardness, and the pain. I can relate to the profound, live presentation of another woman’s personal experience that forms the heart of the Vagina Monologues. The Vagina Monologues celebrates discovery, knowledge, and awakening in a number of brief encounters with experiences from a variety of women of all ages around the world. Crafted from the interviews of more than two hundred women, Eve Ensler’s play focuses on relationships, sex, and violence through the perspective of the vagina to promote women’s empowerment. The performances nationwide benefit V-Day, a movement against violence and sexual abuse that centers on February 14th. Every year, a new monologue introduces a group The Harvard Independent • 02.23.12
of women to increase awareness, and this year’s addition told the story of the women and girls of Haiti. Harvard’s own production is an annual event sponsored by the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and the Harvard College Women’s Center, featuring an ensemble cast of students. Inanna Carter ’14, who performed in “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could” said of her experience in the production, “It was great being a part of the Vagina Monologues because it was a relaxed and easy way to get involved in another aspect of campus life, meet a bunch of cool girls, and support a worthwhile cause!” This year’s performance featured seasoned, familiar faces from Harvard’s theater scene as well as a few new actresses, and they all did a phenomenal job in conveying the message of the night. From the moving “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… Or So They Tried” to the controversial “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could” to the classic “The Woman Who
Loved to Make Vaginas Happy” (which included an entertaining shout-out to the female Harvard stereotype “Unh! I should be studying! Unh!”), these women brought an inspirational message to the audience. Each monologue is individually poignant, some serious, some entertaining, and all deeply personal despite the frequent uncomfortable and cringe-worthy moments. Unfortunately, the immense controversy that surrounds the concept and context of the Vagina Monologues tends to overshadow the basic message that each individual segment attempts to convey. Criticism, notably stemming from a Georgetown student in 2000, claims that the play endorses the “promotion of lesbianism, sado-masochism, and female masturbation”. My first instinctual reaction to this is: what’s wrong with that? However, more importantly, many critics fail to address that though the Vagina Monologues presents so many sensitive topics in a very intrusive,
By ANGELA SONG public forum, these subjects need to be addressed. As ‘The Vagina Workshop” points out, the vulva has become such a taboo topic of discussion in society that women are uncomfortable and worse, ashamed, of their own body parts. This is a problem. Just consider the last time you overheard a guy casually talk about his penis. Now compare that to the last time you overheard a girl discussing her vagina. There’s definitely a societal stigma, one that has tended to veer toward shame rather than pride. As one audience member in this year’s show, Emma Templeton ’13, points out, “I love the Vagina Monologues, and this year’s show was fantastic! It’s easy to forget how awesome being a woman is, and that show served as a much needed reminder.” The Vagina Monologues celebrates femininity, empowerment, and the vagina, and everyone should experience it at least once in their life. Angela Song ’14 (angelasong@college) just reconnected with her inner feminist. firstname.lastname@example.org
In Memoriam: Whitney Houston Remembering the legend and her indelible mark on the music world. By SAYANTAN DEB are called legends — they are forever alive through their work, their passion, and what they stand for. They are alive through the impression they leave on the lives of millions across the world, and Whitney Houston, who passed away earlier this month, epitomizes exactly that. Last Saturday, February 18th, marked the end of an era. The nation gathered around its television sets and computer screens as Houston’s family invited all of her fans to view the live stream of her funeral online and on network TV, and with it, Houston bid her final farewell. She is a legend, and to look back at her life is perhaps to look back at the making of a woman who, in more ways than one, redefined pop-music, reshaped the landscape of R&B and expanded the reach of gospel music. But even more than her contribution to the world of music, she became an inspiration for many of her contemporaries. Houston was born in Newark, New Jersey on August 9, 1963. Hailing from a musical family (her mother and cousins were famed singers), it is no surprise that Houston pursued her love for music from childhood. She was initially trained in gospel music and she followed her passion to New York. By 1983, she was a regular in the New York live music scene, when she was signed by recording label Artista. Two years later, Whitney Houston , her first
Photo courtesy of WikiCommons.
here is a reason some people
album was released, and as the say, the rest is history. In a career spanning more than two and a half decades, Houston was able to break the norms of the musical world she stepped into. When Houston’s debut album re l ea sed i n t he m i d 8 0 s, MTV was under scrutiny for not having diversity in their music. This meant MTV was playing a whole lot of music from a small selection of Caucasian artists, most of which were rock performances. Much like Michael Jackson, who broke the barriers of color and genre through his music, Houston did the same for black female artists and gospel music. She brought the soul and vocals previously associated with gospel music to the realm of pop, and the American public loved her. Her voice, in turn oozing with melancholy and then liltingly inspirational, stood its ground among the ubiquitous rock–and–roll of the time and proved timeless, appealing to generations born years after her songs were conceived. Even her forays into Hollywood proved successful, with the soundtrack of The Bodyguard becoming the most sold movie album in history. In the later part of her life she admitted to have struggled with substance abuse, but it seemed that she would overcome that as well, and in 2011, she returned to the silver screen to film Sparkle, due for release in August of 2012. The Guinness World Records
named her the most awarded female artist of all time, and her recognitions include 2 Emmys and 6 Grammys. She has also inspired a generation of singers from Kelly Rowland to Christina Aguilera, who have followed her precedent and filled the pop-music space with soulful and lyrical ballads that highlight strong vocals. More inspirational than her awards and recognition, however, was her endeavor to spread time and again the message of love and hope. Be it through the lyrics of her soulful ballads, or through the work that her foundation, The Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, does for children and youth with cancer and AIDS, she became an epitome of how to make the most of one’s life, how to turn it around, and perhaps most importantly, how to treasure those we love and cherish the moments we spend with them. The cliché saying is that she will be missed. But Whitney Houston’s voice and music transcend the barriers of time. She will live on through the memories and emotions she evokes in fans each time they hear her songs, and through the music she has left for posterity to discover, love, and make their own. Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@college) has not stopped listening to “I Will Always Love You” since he started writing this article. He sends out his deepest condolences to W hitney Houston’s family, and to everyone whom she touched through her music and work.
02.23.12 • The Harvard Independent
Harvard | Yale Photo courtesy of Tori Wenger
A lively rivalry comes to Lavietes.
Saturday’s Harvard-Yale rematch at Lavietes Pavilion, the e-mails started trickling over house lists. “Anyone have a basketball ticket… that they’re not using?? Would really appreciate it,” read one. “I will pay!!!” begged another. Usually, friendly house lists are quick to dig up a ticket for a variety of events, but last week such pleas went unheeded. With an Ivy League Championship title still in sight, tickets became scarce quickly. At a school where the average sports game is about as well attended as a 9 a.m. Gen Ed lecture, basketball’s hype this season has been a slight anomaly. All nonstudent home game tickets were sold out for the season by the last week of January, and student tickets have been going fast despite the mid-week march across the river required to obtain them. Perhaps it was the Crimson’s incredible preseason sweep of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, or maybe it’s been their outstanding thirteen wins out of this season’s fifteen games, or even the ghost of former number four, Jeremy Lin. But for any of those reasons and more, Harvard students have been packing the student section of the bleachers. Last Saturday was no exception. By 6:45 the student section had become standing room only, a mass of crimson and white t-shirts shaking the stands and heckling any speck of navy blue in sight. By the time the team charged onto the court to the trumpet blares of “10,000 Men of Harvard,” Harvard fans weren’t wo days before last
The Harvard Independent • 02.23.2012
going to accept anything but a win. They would not be disappointed. At tip-off, Yale center Greg Mangano grabbed the ball, and after a brief turnover managed to score a clean three-pointer jump shot forty-five seconds into the game. Although the Bulldogs’ start seemed promising, they would only lead the game for a short time before Harvard began to dominate the court. Yale kept up with the Crimson’s game at a relatively steady pace in the first half, meeting Harvard’s advances with a few baskets of their own. By the thirteen minute mark however, a nice set of free throws by Jonah Travis set the Crimson in motion and put the score at a comfortable 35–15 with four minutes left in the half. This period of domination by Harvard’s offense was highlighted by a moment at the five-minute mark that had the stands cheering riotously. Under considerable pressure by Yale’s defense, guard Brandon Curry, who would soon emerge as Harvard’s leading shooter with a game total of 18 points scored, sent the ball to Kyle Casey, who unhesitatingly slammed the ball through the hoop for the first dunk of the night. Curry would make a highlight-worthy onehanded dunk of his own midway through the second half. By halftime, Yale had managed to bring the game to a respectable 35–26. Nevertheless, the raucous Harvard fans were not impressed. While Crimson fans made sure that traditional basketball cheers rang through what Harvard Athletics claims is “one of the loudest [sports]
By MEGHAN BROOKS
facilities in the Ivy League,” they weren’t too shy to invent a few of their own. One enterprising young gentleman carried a posterboard sign reading, “You can take our coaches but you can’t take our rings,” simultaneously referring to Yale’s “theft” of three assistant football coaches this January and to Harvard’s Ivy League titles in both football and basketball in the past year. As Harvard’s victory seemed eminent later in the game, fans gleefully threw their favorite dig at their rival: “Safety school! Safety school! Safety school!” Was the red in the Bulldog’s cheeks exertion, or shame? Soon it wouldn’t matter, as Harvard would dominate the rest of the game. In the fourth minute of the second half, Yale had scored within five points of the Crimson’s lead. Yale center Greg Mangano, the Bulldogs’ usual standout player, had been lackluster for the game’s first fifteen minutes but came back from halftime strong and scored consistently for the rest of the game. However, even his game-leading 22 points couldn’t get his team back on track. Although Yale was able to keep things competitive, Harvard answered their every gain with a physical intensity and presence that Yale couldn’t quite handle. Whether in power drives to the net or in graceful three-pointers hit from just outside the circle, Harvard’s offense danced circles around Yale’s defense, which had been strong until their key defensive player, Reggie Willhite, was sent to the bench after his fourth foul.
Harvard’s defense had a great night as well. Crimson center Keith Wright towered in front of the net, grabbing eight rebounds and tying the Harvard career record for blocks. As the clock wound down, Harvard’s defense kept Yale in check while the offense drove Harvard’s score into the mid-60s. The last minute of the game started with a nice set of free throws by Brandon Curry, bringing the score up to 64-49. After two timeouts, the game finished with a dunk by Wright. Yale’s Reggie Willhite tossed in one last, forlorn layup at the eight-second mark, ending the game with 51 points for Yale to Harvard’s stout 66. Last Saturday’s game was men’s basketball’s second win over Yale this season, the team having thoroughly trounced the Bulldogs in New Haven for 65-35 win on January 27th. Yet despite the Crimson’s success within the league, the previous week’s loss at Princeton and an earlier close call at Penn might come back to haunt the team this weekend as it takes on the Tigers and the Quakers at home on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. The Ivy League title is so close, and yet the fear remains that the highlight of the 2011-2012 season will be alum Jeremy Lin’s meteoric rise to NBA stardom. In any case, after Saturday’s game and an impressive season, Harvard men’s basketball has more than enough to be proud of. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanebrooks@ college) is watching bas-ket-baaaaaalll, she’s watching bas-ket-balllllll. (Lil’ Bow Wow, what what?). email@example.com
captured & shot By MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA
#TheHarvardIndependent brings you an issue all about media. A little self-referential? Perhaps. But in a world of constantly-streaming infor...
Published on Feb 23, 2012
#TheHarvardIndependent brings you an issue all about media. A little self-referential? Perhaps. But in a world of constantly-streaming infor...