05.02.13 VOL. XLIV, NO. 23
The Indy is pushing the envelope. Cover Design by ANNA PAPP
CONTENTS FORUM 3 Maple Syrup & Apple Pie 4 A Negative Affirmative 5 Do Me Harm 6 Get Me Outie Here 7 Trigger Happy NEWS 8 Jstole
President Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Director of Production
Angela Song '14 Christine Wolfe '14 Sayantan Deb '14 Miranda Shugars '14
News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Associate News Editor Associate Forum Editor Associate Arts Editor Associate Design Editor
Whitney Gao '16 Curtis Lahaie '15 Sean Frazzette '16 Alex Chen '16 Milly Wang '16 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Sarah Rosenthal '15 Travis Hallett '14
Illustrator Designer Cartoonist Photographers
Anna Papp '16 Jerry Chang '16 John McCallum '16 Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Tarik Moon '15
Business Manager Albert Murzakhanov '16
ARTS 9 Art or Abomination 10 Dubya's Drawings SPORTS 11 Show Them the Money Destination of the week... Burano, Venice
Senior Staff Writers Michael Altman '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Whitney Lee '14 Staff Writers Xanni Brown '14 Terilyn Chen '16 Clare Duncan '14 Gary Gerbrandt '14 Travis Hallett '14 Shaquilla Harrigan '16 Yuqi Hou '15 Cindy Hsu '14 Chloe Li '16 Orlea Miller '16 Albert Murzhakanov '16 Carlos Schmidt '15 Frank Tamberino '16 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 President Angela Song (president@harvardindependent. com) or Managing Editor Sayantan Deb (managingeditor@ harvardindependent.com). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Christine Wolfe (editorinchief@harvardindependent. com). For email subscriptions please email president@ harvardindependent.com. 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 ÂŠ 2013 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
APPLE PIE VS. MAPLE SYRUP Canada is America's Hat
America is Canada's Beard
By XANNI BROWN
came to college with a number of misconceptions about our so-called “friendly neighbors” to the north, Canadians. Like the majority of US citizens wise enough to never have crossed the border that separates our thriving community from that vast expanse of empty, frozen tundra, I’d gathered my knowledge about Canada from its occasional intrusions into pop culture. I knew they liked hockey, beer, and drinking beer while watching hockey. I knew their police force rode horses, dressed like they were going on an old-timey safari, and always got their man. I knew they were reputed to be nearly as kind as their accents were unintelligible, and that at Canadian hospitals they welcome babies into this world by dunking them briefly into a sacred vat of maple syrup. Just as baby Achilles’s dip in the Styx rendered him invulnerable to swords and arrows, the traditional Syruptism insulates Canadians from both the bitterly cold weather and the mockery of literally every other nation on earth. However, it did not take me long to discover that many of the things I thought I knew about Canada were just plain wrong (or, as they say in Canada, “wronger than not putting on your toque after a snowstorm and going out to shovel your neighbor’s driveway – though probably you really meant to help out and just got busy and it happens to everyone and you’re still a great person, so keep your head up, eh?”). For example, I was under the impression that they spoke the same language as we do. However, it turns out that English, exposed to their northern weather, has contracted the initial stages of delirium-inducing hypothermia, producing a dialect of “Canadian” that is almost entirely nonsensical,
especially when spoken through a thick, icicle-caked lumberjack beard (a trademark of both male and female Canucks). They use made-up nonsense words for their money, like “loonie” and “toonie” – the former of which is the name of the Canadian one dollar coin, and the latter of which is a sad demonstration of the upsetting result of combining forced rhymes and a misunderstanding of basic homophones. The previously mentioned “toque” is pronounced for no discernible reason like “spook” and is just a totally unnecessary way to refer to a hat. In addition to making up words, Canadians have a disturbing tendency to sneak the letter “u” into spellings in which it has absolutely no business. Color me inflexible, but I think it does a dishonor to the English language, and I have absolutely no sense of humor about it. Having Canuck friends has opened my eyes to some great Canadian accomplishments, like inventing the zipper, and, um… you know… did I mention they invented the zipper? Because, good work on that, Canada! The zipper is almost as easy and reliable as the previously existing pants-fastening device, the button, and it’s certainly made a bigger impact on the world than lightbulbs, computers, airplanes, Twinkies, or the Polio vaccine. Canadians also excel at sports about which no one else cares (see: curling, bobsledding, moose-racing, keeping one’s spirits up while huddling in a snow cave awaiting an inevitable icy demise, etc.). And let’s not forget their contributions to pop culture — from the rich Canadian loins of musical talent sprung Justin Bieber. I rest my case.
Xanni Brown ’14 (afsbrown@college) is lucky that Canadians aren’t a vengeful breed, though she’s quite sure she could take them if it came down to it.
The Harvard Independent • 05.02.13
By MILLY WANG
kay, okay, I have to admit, I had a really difficult time writing this article. But it’s not because I couldn’t find enough reasons to support my dear, beloved Canada (when in fact, there are as many reasons as there are stars in the sky) but rather, I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad. Yes, that’s a very Canadian sentiment. Aren’t we nice? The truth is that we Canadians have quite the pristine world image, quite unlike our dear neighbors in the south. No offense. Canada is known around the world as a safe haven for refugees, a peacemaker, and a champion of social programs. Now what does all that mean? It means that we’re accepting, friendly, multicultural (a hotspot of people from various different countries, religions and cultures) and caring. Our past Prime Ministers have united a country from sea to sea (our motto is “A mari de mari”), championed immigration, won Nobel Peace Prizes, supported developing economics, brought in a universal health care plan and national pension plan, as well as greater benefits for the elderly. All this shows that we care. We care about the babies and the elderly. We care about the sick and the healthy. We care about current Canadians and potential Canadians (so basically we care about everyone in the world, including you). Isn’t it nice to be cared about? We are renowned worldwide for being “nice.” And if all that boring political stuff is not enough to convince you that we are a great nation, then allow me to introduce you to the stuff that really matters: cold weather, beautiful nature, maple syrup, polar bears, and hockey. One: We have cold weather. Which is great, by the way, because it has shaped us all into tough (or in my case, highly knowledgeable on how to dress for blizzards), resilient (no such thing as a snow day!), and strangely optimistic people (we certainly don’t suffer from bad weather depression). We make great friends for a trek through the arctic or a rainy, depressing school day. And what does all that snow translate to? Good wintry fun! Sledding, skating, snowboarding, skiing, and anything else that starts with s. Two: We are the ideal vacation spot. Where else would you find three different mountain ranges, eleven climate regions, more trees and plants than humans, and
five Great Lakes, all in one package? Hawaii? I don’t think so. By the way, did I mention that Canada has the largest reservoir of drinking water in the world, which translates to better showers, more water fountains displays, and cleaner swimming pools? We also have a much better view of Niagara Falls, and are smart enough to harness that energy to create much cheaper electricity! Three: Maple syrup. Mmmm...nothing else needs to be said. Four: Free, all you can pet, cute, cuddly, furry polar bears (of course, beware of being bitten or eaten)! I once heard that the stereotype for Canadians is that we live in igloos and ride polar bears to school. That may not be true. But it certainly makes us seem cool. Who wouldn’t want their own polar bear? Five: Not only did we invent hockey, the world’s greatest sport, in the 19th century, but we are also world champions of the ice. What other sport combines sharp steel blades, large sticks, excellent handeye coordination, balance, teamwork, and violent fights? Even football can’t beat the amount of body protection that hockey requires! See how tough we are? And need I mention that Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, Ryan Reynolds, Jim Carrey, and Keanu Reeves are all Canadian? While all of this should be enough to convince you of Canada’s supremacy, there is one way in which it clearly trumps all other nations of the Western Hemisphere. Canada is bigger. Need proof? You don’t need to look any further than, oh, just about every geography book, encyclopedia or web search that you can get your hands on. But in my opinion, what you should really be looking up should be the song “Canada’s Really Big” by The Arrogant Worms. Yes, I know that there will be some of naysayers out there who’ll say size doesn’t matter, and that bigger isn’t always better. But actually, in economics, they teach you that more is always better. And let’s be honest, everyone, isn’t economics what makes the world go around? But yet, despite our large size, we’re still regarded as the friendly upstairs neighbor. That’s totally fine though, because intimidation is just not something that we, Canadians, are into. We’ll leave that to our “friendly” neighbors south of the border.
Milly Wang '16 (keqiwang@college) is sorry if this offended anyone, eh?
Is affirmative action working? By MANIK BHATIA
029 high-school seniors fortunate enough to gain a coveted thick envelope into Harvard’s Class of 2017 today sit contemplating matriculation at the nation’s oldest and arguably most prestigious university with increasing urgency. That is, the same meticulous, deliberate, and at times overwrought urgency that garnered them admission in the first place. The admissions trends of the last decade that point to dwindling, single-digit admit rates emphasize resume-padding and encourage “tiger-parenting.” This sense of urgency ought to come as no surprise. The college admissions process is more competitive than ever, and it isn’t getting any easier any time soon. Given the hypercompetitive environment surrounding college admissions, one particularly controversial topic has touched a number of nerves — affirmative action. We question the extent to which it impedes the meritocracy we desire in the seemingly random process that could dictate at least the next decade of our lives. At the same time, we find ourselves questioning not why it is in place, but who “deserves” it. However, more than anything, we question if it adequately helps the individuals it claims to. With the myopic outlook that getting into college is the be-all-end-all, we often overlook the more important issue — what happens when we get to college? Or, more specifically, to what extent does affirmative action actually support its beneficiaries to succeed at Harvard or any other elite institution? Here I offer a radical point of view. As a proponent of affirmative action who acknowledges
the absolutely vital importance of both racial and socioeconomic diversity in a college environment, as it stands today, affirmative action doesn’t really do much. More specifically, while it does an admirable job of broadening the accessibility of an elite education, affirmative action does little to challenge the inherent socioeconomic and racial divides that characterize our stratified campus upon arrival. Move-in day (and the days that immediately follow it) at Harvard is memorable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we find ourselves surrounded by new faces from across all corners of the world. In some ways, these sentiments can best be captured by a naïveté that only an admissions brochure might proudly display. All too quickly, in the broadest terms, we split ourselves along the simplest lines: have and have not. By “have,” I speak not simply in the monetary sense. While wealth often plays a prominent role, I see the term “have” encompass not only those who come from means financially, but also those who benefit from an elite education — either from a private school or high-achieving public school, strong parental guidance, or other resources that might better acclimatize them to a competitive college environment. Often these factors overlap. Only naturally, then, does the 1600-student class that stood unified for all of seventy-two hours (if that) quickly self-segregate into its various tiers. More tellingly than social stratification, this hierarchy exists on an academic and extracurricular level as well. Top level science, technology, engineering, and
math (STEM) courses are populated largely by those who attended high schools with adequate resources to push students in state and national competitions or had the benefit of a nearby university. Of the first-years who seek internships, those whose backgrounds have “bred” them to actively search for opportunities beyond OCS, to polish their own already substantial resumes, to spend time networking, gain an inherent advantage. All too often, students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, while nominally attending the same university as their more privileged peers, have an altogether different experience. While they are not less capable of taking advantage of an environment such as Harvard’s, they are certainly less accustomed to it, and as such preparations come much less easily. Transitioning to this school is by no means easy. Life in academic, social, and extracurricular spheres moves at breakneck speeds that we might previously have deemed impossible. Despite the myriad opportunities equally afforded to us in each facet of our college lives at Harvard, we are not equally geared to take advantage of them. In its current form, affirmative action, though commendable in its goals, does not adequately fulfill its promise, as it does little to push its beneficiaries to thrive here. The underlying question still stands: we’re all here — now what? Manik Bhatia ’16 (mbhatia@college) is ready for his close-up on The Today Show now.
05.02.13 • The Harvard Independent
The Right to
Religion, suicide, privilege, and a number of other buzzwords. By CHRISTINE WOLFE
hen I stood in the ballot box on November 6th, 2012, I felt as if my life were at stake. Getting my candidates into office was a high priority, and I won those battles. But I lost on something that matters more to me than figureheads, politics, or the next few years. I lost my power to define my own life. I lost it to the will of people who believe my life is something I don’t think it is, who believe that because life is God-given, only a divine power has the right to take life away. I lost my rights to people who use the historical privilege of the religious institution — a privilege to serve as the supreme and final say on moral human behavior — to take away my most basic rights. The United States, despite its Christian roots, has a fundamental institutional dedication to the separation of Church and State. As such, it is a national wrong that something so essential to citizenship — and to humanity — is denied to people based on religious considerations alone. If the choice is available to me, I should have the right to choose when and the conditions under which I die. In 2012, the Massachusetts “Death with Dignity” Initiative was defeated, 51.9% to 48.1%. The measure would have allowed the terminally ill to be provided with lethal drugs, given a number of conditions verifying the patient’s ability to make his or her own health decisions and the presence of witnesses during multiple statements describing the patient’s wishes. These stipulations are most applicable to those ill people who would rather die peacefully than in physical pain. Some consider this to be suicide. I do not wish to balk at that idea; it is an enacted decision to end one’s own life. The measure’s supporters shy away from the usual phrase — assisted suicide — for a reason. It calls up ethical questions they don’t want fellow voters to ask. But the debate The Harvard Independent • 05.02.13
warrants some discussion of the term. Suicide is a reality, and while it is always, without exception, heartbreaking, it in no way deserves to be treated as a villainous act. It is, in many cases, terribly sad for the deceased’s friends and family. But the depths of psychological and/ or physical pain the deceased must have been in to take his or her own life are unimaginable. In most cases of suicide, the source of pain the person endures is eradicable. Suicide can almost always be prevented, and the psychopharmacological developments of the past few decades have gone a long way in improving the outlook for people suffering from depression. But it is equally true that sometimes, without access to successful drugs or therapy, suffering is unceasing. Some wake to a continuous horror, and to deny them relief from this is, for some, akin to torture. Blaming suicide victims for upsetting their family and friends can be likened to those who blame rape victims for encouraging their assaults. Suicide is not a punishment of survivors. It is a last resort for someone who could no longer bear the pain of living. As these issues regard assisted death, the toll of physical pain should be clear to all, regardless of one’s conception of the limits of psychological suffering. There are millions of elderly people, including members of my own family, suffering in hospice care today. Some of those people would prefer to die than suffer the intense agony, both physical and mental, of the body’s degeneration. Even if it were just one person who felt this way, who are we to say — we who have never experienced the confusing terror of mental decay or the inability to use our bodies the way we have our entire lives — that one person cannot choose to end their life on something better than vegetative torpor? Of course, not everyone feels this way. Many
people wish to be kept alive as long as possible. That is morally right only because one should always respect the wishes of individuals to govern the bounds of their own lives. So should this moral understanding extend to those promoting assisted death. However, due to the unconstrained public influence of religious beliefs regarding the sanctity of life, people who do not want to suffer are forced to do so. Religion cannot and should not dictate policy, if only because there are too many different belief systems in this country for one to have a say over the rest. But the supremacy of JudeoChristian institutions over Western history has leant them an unlimited power over the lives of Americans, including those participating in the assisted death debate. Most if not all objections towards the bill were based in religious concerns regarding the immorality of such an act. It would be historically inaccurate to dismiss religion’s role in social progressivism and the construction of this country. But that does not mean it is faultless. Religion has a privilege so great that no one can speak of it, though we are correctly encouraged to question and observe racial, socioeconomic, and gender privileges. What about the rights of the non-religious? Do we not deserve to live our lives on our own terms, as our religious countrymen have long been permitted to do? Much — though certainly not all — of the persecution against women and the LGBTQ community has roots in religious teachings and institutions. This does not mean progressives cannot be religious, just as white privilege does not suggest white people cannot accept people of other racial backgrounds. It simply suggests that the religious should be aware of the many institutionalized ways in which their beliefs unquestionably dominate the beliefs of others. Questions of
life and death are clearly important enough to warrant these kinds of institutional checks. It must seem to much of the religious community that a group of people that supports euthanasia and operates outside of a formalized system of morality would be a tyrannical one. How would we have morals, some would ask, without religious teachings? While, having grown up in America, I undoubtedly have been influenced by Christianity, I believe the majority of my moral compass is derived from the simple dogma of being a good person by understanding others. I do not believe in God, but I would never persecute someone who does. I see beauty, I value love and forgiveness, and I support care over violence. That said, the world and the people who live in it merit more complicated responses to these issues. And one of these complications is that, though we love each other and cherish the time we have with our family and friends, we are all going to die. And, as someone who does not believe in heaven, I have a vast love and respect for the eighty or ninety years we all live on this earth. But not all of those years will be ones we want to remember. It is not right to force that memory. It is not right to control a person’s emotional life or their body. If you do not wish to end your life because you think that it is God’s will you should live, then live. Encourage those whom you care about to choose that path for themselves. But for me and my family, I would hope that people have enough respect for our humanity to let us remember what was beautiful and to end what is dark. Christine Wolfe ’14 (crwolfe@college) did win on medical marijuana, much to the excitement of her dumb college friends.
Ban the Belly Button By MEGHAN BROOKS
am deeply afraid of belly buttons, or to be more precise, contact with belly buttons, my own in particular. They disgust me so much that here I’ll refer to them only as “navels” so I can pretend that I’m discussing battleships instead of the quasi-orifice on the abdomen that haunts my dreams. It’s a rarefied fear, the fear of navels, with no real origin point other than the depths of the Freudian psyche. The womb to the placenta to the umbilical cord to the navel — it’s a chain of transmission belying a profundity I’d rather not contemplate. I don’t know what omphalophobia (the Greek) means, but I know all too well what it’s like. On the beach in the summer with a thousand navels bared to the sun I am mostly fine. I’m a socialized human being after all and have enough control over my sensory responses not to gag at the sight of a sandy navel. However, the instant someone touches said sandy navel, I’m done for. Utterly done for. I just can’t deal. I gag, immediately avert my gaze, and feel an incredibly uncomfortable tingling sensation throughout my abdomen that won’t go away until I place my forearm horizontally at the latitude of my own navel and press down hard. If someone inserts a finger in said sandy navel I’ll scream and probably vomit in my mouth. My fear of other people’s navels, as horrible as they are, comes nowhere close to my fear of my own. There is absolutely no reason why a small, dark hole should exist on the otherwise smooth expanse of skin that covers my vital organs. Empirically I know that the navel is merely a scar, a shallow indentation that bottoms out less than an inch from the surface skin. Yet I can’t escape the awful feeling that it is deep, extending into my back and down, an unprotected passage to my innards vulnerable to attack and completely exposed. When someone or something touches it, or worse, sticks something in it, I panic. Complete nausea and a sharp pain radiating from the back
of my navel throughout my abdomen are accompanied by true terror; the worst torture I can imagine is a navel piercing. Luckily, my intense fear of navel penetration has little impact on my daily life. I prefer high-waisted pants to cover the area, and I find that I actually feel more comfortable on my fat days because my rolls smush together when I sit, effectively making the little hole disappear. Although I am well adapted to life with my phobia, I firmly believe that its complete eradication lies firmly within the grasp of modern medicine. We already have the solution; the challenge lies in the implementation. Therefore, I would like to propose here and for the first time the cure for omphalophobia: mandatory navel lids. The navel lid, as I envision it, is a disk of opaque rubber approximately two inches in diameter that adheres to the skin around the navel via suction or whatever they put on band-aids. Flexible enough to allow full mobility yet sturdy enough to prevent accidental tearing, the navel lid would be mandatory in all public spaces. No more would the omphalophobic be assaulted with larger-than-life abdominal hollows on underwear billboards. No more would we be sickened by the occasional intrusion of clothing beyond the navel’s rim! I envision a world where specialty navel lid stores sell disks in true-to-flesh tones and wild patterns, and where Girl Scout troops bedazzle cheap rubber to earn their arts and crafts badges at sleep-away camp. The future is within our reach. Will we be brave enough to forge it? In the interim, allies of the omphalophobic can help by contacting their representative and demanding legislative action now. Contact Congressman Mike Capuano at (617) 621-6208 and Senator Elizabeth Warren at (202) 224 – 4543. Thank you. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@college) is glad the 90s are over.
This shouldn't even be controversial. Acceptable
An anonymous belly button
05.02.13 • The Harvard Independent
espite the increased solidarity this city has experienced over the past few weeks, a dark shadow still looms over Boston in the wake of the marathon bombings and manhunt that cost an MIT police officer his life. Theories of potential terror plots, Islamic radicalism, and disturbed socioeconomic warfare aside, the recent tragedy brings to light the highly controversial issue of gun control as legislation seeking to limit access to guns has been brought to a relative standstill. We now shift our attention to the scope of college life. Permission to keep personal guns on a college campus would strike most as absurd, particularly as we consider this most recent instance of gun violence. And although the 19-yearold, UMass student Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s weapons were not purchased legally, he clearly still had firearms readily available and easily accessible. Thus we ask ourselves, how exactly did the Colorado State Supreme Court only a year ago allow for the implementation of a “conceal-and-carry” weapon on the University of Colorado Denver’s campus? As the trite aphorism goes, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The aftermath of the July 20, 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO also triggered much debate about gun laws in United States. The assailant, James Eagan Holmes, a 24-year-old PhD student at the University of Colorado’s Denver campus, purchased his weapons — two pistols, one semi-automatic rifle, and one shotgun — through entirely legal means. That massacre came in the wake of the shootings at Columbine in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007, among others. Even with Columbine and Virginia Tech in mind at the time, in March 2012, the Colorado State Supreme Court allowed students with permits to both carry and conceal firearms on campus. As we consider the ruling now, particularly given the ages (19 and 26) of the perpetrators of the Boston tragedy, it becomes abundantly clear that it is at best legally well intentioned (albeit severely misguided) and at worst the enabler of another tragedy. To be clear, the University of Colorado did ban guns in dorms but is creating separate residential spaces for students who wish to maintain a firearm. Furthermore, the University of Colorado is not unique in its conceal-carry policy. Only twenty-one states across the nation explicitly ban the use of firearms. Five states prevent individual colleges from prohibiting them (Colorado, Mississippi, Utah, and Wisconsin), and the remaining twenty-four allow colleges to make decisions independently. The logic behind the decision is simple from both a legal perspective and a logical one. Legally, the state of Colorado was bound by the Conceal and Carry Act of 2003 to re-examine the issue. The Harvard Independent • 05.02.13
More interesting and more flawed is the reasoning behind the allowance. Supporters of the ruling note that concealed firearms will increase campus safety. That is, in the event of armed robbery or intrusion, students might be able to protect themselves and others. Furthermore, “carry and conceal” ought to discourage potential threats to the campus. This myopic argument overlooks several obvious risks that concealed weapons pose on college campuses. At the most basic level, guns are weapons. Whether weapons are used as means of protection or for the purpose of harm, weapons act as threats because they can cause physical damage. Whether 99 out of 100 students in a room are safer if one carries a weapon than if 99 carry weapons is still an open question. In any college environment where drugs and alcohol have a presence that is not unsubstantial, guns become all the more dangerous. All the fun and games solo cups provide aside, the effects of alcohol are simple and well documented. Increased belligerence as well as poordecision making is among the most common. Put bluntly, firearms do not belong anywhere in the vicinity of drugs or alcohol. We must also consider the nature of the “typical” college experience and its effects on a young adult’s psyche. Most will agree that college is, by and large, a new and stressful place. Some make the transition to college life quickly; however, for others, the sudden change can be overwhelming. Academic pressure, which remains as high as ever, coupled with being thrust into a social environment that might be as competitive as the academics can precipitate shocking responses. The past year alone has seen tragic suicides at Harvard, Columbia, MIT, and, more recently, Northwestern. Adding guns to an equation consisting of high pressure, a new environment, teenage angst, and possible psychiatric disorders could create more problems than it solves. Most students and parents of the Harvard community will be relieved to know that the Harvard College Handbook For Students, in accordance with Massachusetts state law, forbids “possession and/or use on University property of [weapons].” Certain club teams (i.e. shooting) are exempt from the policy, but, for all intents and purposes, the University policy on weapons and firearms is one of zero tolerance. A first offense could warrant as much as a yearlong jail sentence in addition to a $1,000 fine. The Colorado State Supreme court has failed to learn from the past. We can only hope that we are not doomed to repeat it.
Pulling the Trigger Standing against the Colorado repeal.
By MANIK BHATIA
Manik Bhatia ’16 (mbhatia@college) has some other guns he thinks are pretty impressive if you wanna check those out. harvardindependent.com
In the Pursuit of Knowledge Remembering the man whose hopes to share ended up costing him his life. By XANNI BROWN
aron Swartz was, by most accounts, a prodigy. As a thirteen year-old, he invented and programmed an online encyclopedia, before Wikipedia had even been invented. He pursued information relentlessly, a pre-teen sending completely unsolicited emails to the leaders of fields that interested him. Even as a kid, Swartz had the technical skills and drive to back up these requests for knowledge, attracting high-profile mentors like Harvard Law School Professor and digital copyright activist Lawrence Lessig. Swartz rose to prominence before he had completed high school, launching a site called Creative Commons with Lessig at the age of 15. Creative Commons has been called a “copyleft” solution – a way for artists, musicians, programmers, writers, and other content producers to share their work in a way that let others have free access to use and expand on it. Swartz enrolled briefly at Stanford, but dropped out after a few months, never having grown close to his classmates. By the late 2000s, he had moved on to bigger things. Officially a successful entrepreneur after helping launch and cashing out on the social news site Reddit, Swartz began to commit himself to a series of political causes. In 2008, he created Watchdog. net, “the good government site with teeth,” to distribute data about politicians, including their financial sources. In the next couple years, he went on to found the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Demand Progress, both advocacy groups dedicated to pursuing progressive causes, on and off the web. In between these projects, he found time to play a scruffy modern Robin Hood, writing widely on issues of digital copyright, and backing up these words with action. In 2008, he downloaded almost 20,000,000 pages of text from a service called PACER, a government-run, online collection of free court records which nevertheless charged 8 cents a page for downloads. By 2011, he had taken aim at JSTOR, a digital, subscribers-only collection of academic journals, articles he believed should be freely accessible. In 2013, under felony indictment and facing severe jail time, Aaron Swartz committed suicide. Those closest to Swartz are certain that his death was a direct result of the pres8 harvardindependent.com
sure he faced from his ongoing criminal investigation. Lessig told CNN that “[the government’s] extreme behavior pushed him over the edge.” In a later speech, he described the response as disproportionate beyond all measure, citing considerable ambiguity in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which made it unclear whether Swartz’s actions had been illegal, much less wrong. There has been plenty of ink shed on the hazards prosecutorial discretion poses for the consistent, fair application of justice. There is plenty of speculation on what exactly the vagaries of the CFAA and copyright law mean in the context of Swartz’s case, whether his penance would have been more suitably pursued through criminal courts or at the discretion of the wronged parties. These are important questions, especially for a society for whom the legal process is the primary mode of protecting individual liberties, but they are not, by all accounts, the questions Swartz would have cared about. In 2008, Swartz co-authored a document called the “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” – later a key document for the prosecution. In it, he claims that “the world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations.” Swartz goes on to describe the ongoing open access project and effort to allow researchers the ability to publish their knowledge where it can be freely shared. But this is not enough – even if activists and academics were able to instantly uproot the current system of publication into pay-to-access digital archives, this revolutionary change would only apply to work in the future. Academic progress up to this point would be effectively lost – lost, at least, for anyone who does not attend an elite university, who cannot click through a site’s paywall using their Harvard credentials without sparing a second thought for the millions of people whose access to knowledge stops at the abstract. The manifesto continues, “Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world
is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world.” Aaron Swartz lived that belief as fully as he could, articulating his principles in writing and at conferences. Like generations of civil activists before him, he both practiced and preached his convictions. Even as he was speaking out on his blog, he was sneaking into a wiring closet at MIT in order to hide a laptop that was set up to run his information heist. For weeks, he downloaded, as a legal, properly-credentialed user, thousands upon thousands of academic journal articles. He wrote a shell script to automate this download process and changed his IP address when JSTOR and MIT officials tried to stop the activity on his ghost account. These were the crimes for which he ultimately paid with his life. In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau writes that “if the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.” The key here is that the breaking of the law serves a greater purpose – rectifying injustice. Aaron Swartz broke the law, and there is no way to know for certain what his intentions were with the multitudes of valuable information that he had acquired. He could have tried to sell it at profit, mine it for data, or donate it to the global poor. He could have printed the entire canon of social science research and turned it into a papier-mâché castle. Because of the overzealous prosecution of his attempt to release important information from the inequality-enhancing and creativity-stifling system in which it is currently published, Swartz never got to finish using the access to knowledge he made for himself. We were gifted that access, by virtue of a charming essay, exceptional board scores, or an outstanding talent. We happen to attend an institution that puts the broadest possible array of information at our fingertips, to learn, share, steal, hoard, ignore, borrow, or liberate as we will. Xanni Brown ’14 (afsbrown@college) likes to fancy Swartz as a modern-day Delacroixian muse.
05.02.13 • The Harvard Independent
To be or not to be ... abstract? By MILLY WANG
his is not a dot. This explains the nature of the universe, and the meaning of life. It will predict your fortunes and your downfall. With one look, you’ll soar with ecstasy and plunge deep to the depths of depression. Do you see the beautiful, infinite lines of symmetry? The brilliant contrast of foreground and background? The lovely curves? The resemblance to everyday objects: the sun, the tennis ball, the wheel, and the Google Chrome logo? Can you feel the inherent balance in this masterpiece between light and dark, sharp and round, space and depth? No. This is not a dot. This is art. Maybe I was going overboard. But the key is, I want you to think a little bit more abstractly about abstract art. Is abstract art really art? We are often told that it is. But why? First of all, what is art? Is my dot art, or just spilled ink? A period? A mistake? Now, I’m not saying that art can’t be accidental. In fact, I once saw a brilliant portrait inspired and painted using only coffee stains. It was beautiful and creative. I would definitely consider it to be art. But the question is, can abstract art be considered “art”? In my opinion, it isn’t. What is art exactly? Does it have to be paint on a canvas? No. Photographs, sculptures, and even fashion are considered art. Is a piece of writing a work of art? When you think about it, in today’s world, the idea of “art” has pretty wide connotations. Basically anything can pass as art. While most of us will not dispute the fact that the Mona Lisa, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, or Starry Night are works of art (or maybe we could), where do we draw the line? Art has come a long way from imprints of animals on a cave wall, to canvas paintings, sculptures, photographs, or architecture. Art has the potential to encompass anything and everything. If we believe art to be something impressive, The Harvard Independent • 05.02.13
creative, and inspiring, then in a sense, flowers and trees can be classified as art. Tables, lamps, and chairs can be art too. So can clothes, bags, cups, and pencils. Life is a work of art. Everything is art. It boils down to one question: how do we decide what is or is not art? Now, I hate to get technical. But I did want to make sure that I was on the right track, and that I’m not following only my own crazy, misguided thoughts. So I consulted a dictionary. According to dictionary.com, art is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” Don’t you just love vague dictionary definitions? Everyone has a different interpretation of what is beautiful or what is ordinary (yes, just like how our parents used to tell us, “don’t worry, we are all beautiful in our own way”). But it’s true. There is universal list of “Characteristics of Beauty, Appeal and Extraordinary Significance.” Based on this definition, each of us will have a different idea of what art is, since we each possess a unique set of aesthetic principles and consider certain things to be beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. Based on this, I could easily make the assertion that abstract art is not really art to me if I don’t think that it is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. But that’s boring. I’m not here to convince myself, but to convince you that abstract art is not really “art.” And to do this, let’s take a look at the second definition of art that dictionary. com gives us. Of course, I could attempt to change your sense of beauty or appeal (which could be interesting and disastrous), but I happen to appreciate that we all consider different things significant. And so, I’ll prove it to you another way. The second definition defines art as “the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria.” This is easier to work with. Art is judged based on a certain criteria. And therein lies the reason why our beautiful “masterpieces” from kindergarten are not hanging on the walls of the Louvre. Art is something that should be awe-inspiring and difficult to create. And it is that high degree of difficulty that makes works of art so sought after — to obtain a work that we ourselves could not easily create. Personally, I know
that I can’t possibly paint The Last Supper. That’s what makes it so popular (and expensive). But abstract art can’t really be judged on its own. We can’t look at it and say, “oh, the tree in this painting looks more like a tree and therefore it is better” or “this portrait looks more like me, so it’s better”, because in abstract art, there are no trees or people. There are paint splatters. There are dots and lines and squares and things we do not understand as we understand images. And they often look easy to create. Abstract art, in a sense, loses its wow factor because it seems simple. Sure, I can’t paint a person’s face with all the contours and the shadows, but I sure can spill over a paint can or splatter on some colors. Abstract art is just not the same as classical works. It seems as if it requires less time and effort, rendering it, in a sense, less valuable. But that isn’t true. Abstract artists put in as much work and effort as other artists. But the final piece produced is not easy to understand. By itself, it represents nothing that we know of. It’s not a landscape, a person, or a scene. It’s not an object or a dream. It’s chaotic. It’s strange. It can’t be judged. But it can be appreciated. Abstract art is not art because it is still incomplete. Unlike a Renaissance masterpiece, it cannot stand by itself. Rather, it requires an observer, someone to interpret it and to make sense of the chaos. Someone to find the meaning deep within the layers. It requires an onlooker to be complete. Only then can we judge it for its true value. Milly Wang ’16 (keqimillywang@college) hopes the HAA department doesn’t take up arms — or thickly contoured lines — against her. The aggression begins below. Note: If you would like to discuss and learn about the merits and qualifications of art, abstract or otherwise, please contact Sarah Rosenthal (email@example.com).
A Matter of H Perspective, Privacy, & Presidents George W. Bush paints. Get over it. By LAUREN COVALUCCI
These images are no longer available due to a claim to basic human decency and respect to the artist.
ere are two critiques of perspective: the second is of a set of paintings and the first is of their reception. Former President George W. Bush has made his debut into the art world in the same way many of us made rollerblading debuts at the tender age of seven: in an unfortunately public manner and with a questionable degree of success. We learned about Dubya’s new hobby when someone hacked into his private email account and leaked pictures of his fledgling artwork. The Internet, being the Internet, flipped its collective shit, and every single one of his dog paintings (of which there are many) had a dozen reviews within days. The violently anti-Bush sentiment still survives even into this decade, as many pounced on the opportunity to attack a once-powerful man in a soft spot. Politics aside, how am I supposed to feel about seeing stolen images displayed, presumably, entirely for the purpose of shaming the artist? Is it even working? When I saw the paintings I felt embarrassed for Bush, sure, but I felt embarrassed for myself, too. Seeing such personal creations seems to have woken up a little bit of the shame that has a tough time surviving in a cultural attitude of blatant, unrepentant voyeurism. Whether this is good or bad—a push for transparency on the part of our leaders or a mind-numbing obsession with the lives of B-list celebrities—we have a high level of comfort keeping tabs on others’ personal lives. And, to be honest, that’s nothing new. Even though it’s old hat for us to watch cultural icons be exposed publicly in every possible way, something is different with these paintings. Maybe it’s the subject matter. Most of the pieces depict landscapes and animals, typical subjects for a beginner, but two of them are self-portraits of the artist in his bathroom (don’t worry, if George has painted himself like one of Jack’s French girls, then Laura’s the only one who’s seen it). The most well known is a waist-up view from behind of Bush standing in the shower, facing a round shaving mirror that shows us a reflection of his face. That painting is where my laughter stopped, I think; above all else, more than the portrait of imbecility or the illustration of naiveté that many want to make it, it shows him as just a regular guy. Sure, he used to lead the free world. Now he likes to paint dogs sometimes. It’s not like George has been working on something political. He’s not painting himself riding a bald eagle while clutching Saddam Hussein’s severed head and singing “God Bless America” (can someone do that, please?). These aren’t caricatures of Obama in a clown suit with a dunce cap on. They’re an oddly positioned cat. They’re a view of his legs in a bathtub. I’m curious — partly as to how he could get a cat to pose for him — but mostly about what makes us care so damn much about seeing, critiquing, and laughing at George Bush’s paintings. I also wonder if we’ve
Sure, he used to lead the free world. Now he likes to paint dogs sometimes. now entered an age where stepping into the public eye means forfeiting our rights to privacy and personal space—I certainly hope not. In my own case, there’s some poetry I wrote in fifth grade that should never see the light of day, and I’d like to know whether I should burn it now, just in case. We usually accept that an artist’s work can’t be released into the pack of soulless honey badgers that is the public without explicit consent. Posting it on the Internet or hanging it in a gallery would constitute permission for us normals. In the case of the younger Bush, though, nothing is private, and it very well may be that accepting the Presidency authorizes a nation to go through your artistic sock drawer. However, as a writer, choreographer, artist, and general-wannabe-creative-person, I am saddened by this. I still want to believe that an artist has a sacred right over how his work gets distributed, even when the art isn’t terribly noteworthy and the artist is one of the most disliked presidents in US history. A word to all those who agree with me: this is what we get for being idealistic little shits. That doesn’t mean we should give it up. Now for the art critique: The former President has experimented with color admirably, but the flatness and childlike qualities of his work can only be corrected by a mastery of proportion, shading, and perspective that will take much more practice to achieve. The paintings also display an over-uniformity of texture that I recommend the artist explore. Though I find his sunsets unremarkable, he did a commendable job portraying the specific, dull luster of grapes in a still life I quite like. Those grapes look real good. Lauren Covalucci ’14 (covalucci@college) thinks Obama better get his post-modernist cats-in-hats photo collection locked down.
Photos by Curtis Lahaie
05.02.13 • The Harvard Independent
Paying for Players Students, sports, and money.
magine a world in which a person is working for a multi-million dollar company in a position that is valued at a market wage of $1.6 million. Now imagine that the person, despite his excellent performance record in operations necessary to the increased revenue of the company, does not receive one dollar of that wage. Open your eyes, world: this is a Louisville basketball player. College athletes wake up earlier than your average student, walk to practice, lift, or meetings, go to class like a student, go to practice, lift, or meetings after class, do their work after all of this, and then go to bed early so they have the energy to try again the next day. They have games during the week and on weekends, some of which they need to travel and miss classes in order to play. The essentially work a full-time job and go to school — all without pay. Sure, most receive scholarships and have to pay little, if anything, for a higher education. Yet, studies have shown that even full rides have shortfalls. Research indicates that the average athlete with a full ride still has to pay $2,591 a year to attend school. Yes, this is much a cheaper education than most will receive. But when athletes at a school like Louisville are living as a whole more than $3,000 below the poverty line, all the while being prohibited by NCAA rules from having a job that makes very much money at all (a limit of around $2,500 — and that would be high), that tuition does add up. And these are not the only problems. Let’s take Louisville again. Their program generated $40 million in revenue this past season, with profits nearing $28 million. Again, an individual player’s market value there would be around $1.6 million, while the players live $3,730 under the poverty line and face $4,356 of scholarship shortfalls. Much of the money brought in by the program are from donations, concessions at games, merchandise (including jerseys of the players), and ticket sales. So at what point to athletes become worth more than the “full” scholarship they The Harvard Independent • 05.02.13
receive? A cynic may say, maybe this is a problem at Louisville, one of the most hyped and loved teams will be worth such an investment, but what about the little guys? While it is true that there are significant financial distinctions between teams, incurring different per player value, other programs do face similar issues. The market value of an average Division I college football player is $137,357 a year, and the college basketball player’s value stands at $289,031 a year. That’s not small change. Are these athletes being cheated out of money by universities pulling in huge profits at their expense? What about companies like EA Sports, reaping huge gains from the production of video games that promote likenesses of players as their main feature? They certainly are. There is no doubt that Division I college football and basketball players are not receiving their fair share of the wealth. But finding solutions is not as easy as just giving these players a cut of the pie. At almost any university in the country, the basketball or football team —sometimes both — will be the only source of athletic profit. In fact, most other sports are a net loss for their institution. Then why do these sports exist? One must remember that NCAA athletics is not a free market. Through Title IX and other regulations, certain teams have to exist. And these sports teams stay in existence in part through the profits pulled in by the big name athletic teams. So it appears it would be a choice: pay the football and basketball players or have a women’s fencing team. If a school picks to give the team that makes money a cut of the pie, then the other sports will, most likely, cease to exist, and colleges could no longer boast their terrific diving, water polo, or track teams. The line between sports and entertainment becomes fuzzy, as both plunge into the grey area of collegiate compensation. Professional athletes are paid for their contributions to the entertainment of
society. The high demand and low supply of extremely talented athletes drive up wages, and we see the rise of the million dollar bench player sitting next the to the multimillion dollar star. But at the collegiate level, it’s not always about entertainment. It’s about the sport, the game, the fun, the love, and the pride. It’s about an underdog team and its fans storming the court after a huge upset. It’s about the fun rivalries between USC and UCLA — in water polo, of all sports. It’s about the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast being able to compete with the Hoyas of Georgetown, even though only one of those schools probably turns a profit in basketball. What is left is the dilemma of paying for entertainment or variety. There are, of course, benefits to both. Paying players may give them incentive to stay in college for all four years and graduate rather than leave the school and go pro early. But not paying will allow for a variety of different sports at a school and athletes that may not be able to afford college a chance to earn a scholarship. So who wins? I still side with paying the players. But what I would like to see is a slightly more nuanced approach. Don’t make the schools pay for the football and basketball players.
Let them finance the other sports and keep people happy. Instead, strike a deal between the NCAA, NBA, and NFL. If the teams could have the professional organizations subsidize their college programs, the schools would be able to pay the players a salary for the benefits they grant the universities. The MLB has to pay for minor league teams in order to develop talent. The NBA and NFL have no such organization (ignoring the NBA D-League for simplicity’s sake), and essentially have free development in Division I athletics. With some sort of subsidy plan, colleges can win the dilemma. The NBA and NFL would be reluctant to strike a deal, as the leagues would lose money, but it would be best deal for the players and schools. No matter the plan, the bottom line remains the same: someone needs to pay up. Division I basketball and football players are being cheated out of millions in revenue that they bring to the table. Time for someone to open up the checkbook and fix the problem. Sean Frazzette ’16 (sfrazzette@college) thinks some athletes should get paid, as well as laid.
Courtesy of Angela Song harvardindependent.com
captured & shot ANGELA SONG