11. 04. 10
T HES T UDE NTWE E KL YS I NCE1 969
I ns i de: T hepol i t i c a l a f t er ma t h, di et i ng, a ndt a ek wondo.
11.04.10 vol. xlii, no. 9
The Indy is glad that at least some midterms are over.
Cover art by Miranda shugars
President Weike Wang ‘11 Vice President Whitney Lee ‘14 Presidents Emeritae Patricia Florescu ‘11 Susan Zhu ‘11
FORUM Açaí Berry Diet 3 An Indie President 4 Yes or No? 5 Red All Over 6 Museumania 7 Sweet November 8 ARTS In Your Face 9 10 Rock your Soul SPORTS 11 TaekwonWHOA!
Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo ‘12 Editor-in-Chief Emerita Faith Zhang ‘11 Production Manager Miranda Shugars ‘14
Executive Editor Riva Riley ‘12
Business Manager Amanda Hernandez ‘14 Associate Business Manager Eric Wei ‘14 News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor
Publicity Coordinator Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 Meghan Brooks ‘14 Zena Mengesha ‘14 Brett Giblin ‘11 Alexandria Rhodes ‘14
Columnists Sam Barr ‘11 Luis Martinez ‘12
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 Weike Wang (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo (email@example.com). Yearly mail subscriptions are available for $30, and semester-long subscriptions are available for $15. To purchase a subscription, email subscriptions@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 © 2010 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
Staff Writers Arhana Chattopadhyay ‘11 Peter Bacon ‘11 Arthur Bratolozzi ‘12 Colleen Berryessa ‘11 Sayantan Deb ‘14 Levi Dudte '11 Gary Gerbrandt ‘14 Sam Jack ‘11 Marion Liu ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Alfredo Montelongo ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Steven Rizoli ‘11 Marc Shi ‘14 Jim Shirey ‘11 Diana Suen ‘11 Alex Thompson ‘11 Christine Wolfe ‘14 Sanyee Yuan ‘12 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Chaima Bouhlel ‘11 Eva Liou ‘11 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Schuyler Polk ‘14
10.28.10 • The Harvard Independent
Courtesy of Wikicommons
Dieting adventures: part one. By SANYEE YUAN
y first encounter with weight
loss pills happened when I was eight years old. Flipping through the channels one night, a commercial for the weight loss product Hydroxycut popped up on the screen. With the confident testimonials of individuals detailing their success stories, I thought Hydroxycut sounded like the ultimate magic pill, especially if it had the ability to melt off 23 pounds with a single swallow (I also could have passed for the Queen of Gullibility back then.) Since that commercial, I haven’t really given any more consideration to the realm of dietary supplements. As every school health class and online wellness article has advocated, I’ve tried limiting sweets and sodas, walking up stairs instead of taking escalators, and learning to love, instead of loathe, certain curves. However, during a prolonged procrastination session last weekend, I clicked on an online pop-up ad that promised the tantalizingly “simple” secret trick to getting a flatter belly. This led to my discovery of the new açaí berry weight loss trend. It quickly became clear that the link from the ad was really a “simple” way to help people part with their money rather than excess pounds. The page featured an “investigative article” written by a reporter on “Channel 8 Health News” who chronicled her experience as the guinea pig trying the new açaí berry fad. After losing nine pounds in a week on the LeanSpa Acai supply, sleeping soundly, and no longer bloating after meals, the reporter concluded with a rather unprofessional smiley-face emoticon that she had found success with the açaí berry diet. Having learned to be The Harvard Independent • 11.04.10
skeptical since my days as the Queen of Gullibility, I doubted the article’s authenticity and decided to do my own research. After scouring WebMD, Oprah.com, CBS News, and ABC News online, I discovered that the açaí (pronounced ah-say-ee) berry, a reddish-purple fruit found in Central and South America, contained high levels of antioxidants and nutrients. The articles collectively established the berry as a “superfood” with the potential to combat aging and heart disease. However, there was little mention of results from scientific studies or any approval of different açaí berry-related products from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Inspired and intrigued by what I had found, I decided to volunteer myself up as the subject of a new açaí berry diet for purely journalistic purposes. The first step involved shopping for the açaí berry product. This also entailed my first foray into the General Nutrition Center in Harvard Square. Having passed by it multiple times on my way to Burdick’s (ironically) and American Apparel, I had never once looked inside. During my initial visit, I immediately noticed the shelf of açaí berry products lined up along the front left-hand side of the store. Reading the labels of the various açaí berry powder and capsules, I decided to give the Natrol AçaíBerry dietary supplement a try. It also happened to be on sale — 60 capsules (a month’s supply at two a day) for $9.99. Stored next to the “Hollywood Cookie Diet” packets and a fine supply of Hydroxycut bottles, the açaí berry products seemed to cater to the same consumer — the weight-loss hopefuls. I began to feel more doubtful than hopeful, but still continued on to the
cash register. Advertising how it helps to support fat metabolism, calorie burning, and energy, the little purple bottle of açaí berry supplements at least offered ways for me to evaluate for myself whether or not the açaí berry craze is more than just hype. Day One After taking my first two capsules, I look up on Amazon reviews of the Natrol product. They range from people who complain about having to run to the bathroom all the time to those who delight over their shrunken waistlines. I begin hoping that the Natrol AçaíBerry is not a laxative in disguise. Thankfully, I make it through the day without an abnormal number of visits to the ladies’ room. I don’t feel any more energetic than I usually do, but I realize that this might have to do with the fact that caffeine has a reverse effect on me (coffee tends to make me tired, rather than jittery.) Day Two I wonder about the açaí berry’s ability to suppress appetite. After a bowl of raisin bran at 11 a.m. and a cup of Special K at 1 p.m., I don’t feel my usual pangs of hunger even five hours later for dinner. However, the ’50s dinner that HUHDS decided to put together, including the cheese omelets and chicken casserole, brings back my appetite, and by the end of the night, I’ve devoured two of the omelets. Day Three My pants don’t seem any looser on me and although I don’t own a scale, I try to assess how much weight I have or haven’t lost by scrutinizing my side-
profile in the mirror. By dinner time, I don’t feel as hungry as I usually do, but chalk this up to the thick green tea latte that I had at Café Gato Rojo. After eating three bites of the Asian beans and rice from dinner, I end up having a Finale cupcake at an event later that night. I decide to swear off cupcakes instead couple eating courtesyand of wikimedia commons healthier along with taking the açaí berry supplement. Hopefully the supplements speed up burning the calories from the cupcake faster than my normal metabolism would. Day Four Sleeping in on the weekend of Halloween, I wake up by lunchtime and make my way to the dining hall. After circling around the usual Saturday offerings of popcorn chicken and make-your-own tacos, I don’t feel hungry for the food. I’m not sure if this may be caused by dehydration from last night’s Eliot Golf party — the combination of crowded dancing and a lack of liquid intake for three hours straight may have been too much. The “energy” part of the supplement doesn’t seem to be working though. I feel tired and slightly sluggish. Then again, it might just be the normal Saturday feeling. There are still three more days to go before I finish up the first week. If I’m learning anything, it’s how difficult it is to be one’s own unofficial case study. Hopefully I’ll have better results by Installment Two…stay tuned! Sanyee Yuan ’12 (firstname.lastname@example.org. edu) isn’t above jumping on the bandwagon, especially if that’s the only exercise said bandwagon requires.
The Third Way By GARY GERBRANDT
Independence in politics showcased on the IOP stage.
n elaborate spectacle unfolded in the lobby of the Kennedy School on Monday night. This was no ordinary Institute of Politics Forum. Not often do you have a man who is simultaneously a multibillionaire and the mayor of one of the world’s largest and most influential cities, a Pulitzer Prizewinning historian, and a former Republican Congressman even sitting together. However, the world made an exception from its usual rules, and in the course of an hour, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, had a calm, reasoned discussion about the importance of independence and objectivity to America’s political future. Answering questions posed by Professor Jon Meacham, the two found a remarkable amount of common ground and made a show of their own political independence. Both advocated for a fundamental change in the American political system. Arguing that partisanship is the problem behind the majority of the government’s recent failures, Scarborough went from blaming a sensationalist media, to the complicated and unfriendly system of elections, to the fiery attitudes of people on both sides of the aisle. Bloomberg emphasized the huge potential for an independent executive branch, able to compromise and work
Courtesy of Arthur Bartolozzi
with both parties to ensure America’s future, and lambasted government for its inaction and inability to solve today’s most pressing problems. Specific spheres of policy were mentioned repeatedly to illustrate such governmental failures. The public education system, overspending on defense, lack of entitlement reform, and an ignorant approach to immigration were the four policy spheres that came up most. Their prescription to solve these ills was, naturally, independence and bipartisanship. Scarborough praised President Clinton’s ability to work with a Republican-controlled Congress. Bloomberg used his principality on the Hudson as an example of success in government, with people cooperating at every level to ensure a continuing common good. Both examples, though, are inherently flawed. Joe Scarborough, who was elected in the Republican wave of 1994, conveniently omitted the threat of governmental shutdown that his fellow Congressmen held over President Clinton’s head. Mayor Bloomberg ignored the fact that New York City’s most conservative politicians have been extirpated to the suburbs for years, allowing a reliably progressive group to work together and run the government. Their overall point, though, was interesting. If someone were willing to lead from the center, acting as a neutral catalyst to political discourse and bipartisan
legislation, perhaps the parties could actually work in the best interest of the American people. Such a future, though, is unlikely. At one point, the two began relating stories of political delegitimization, a tactic wielded by the party out of power to mock and threaten the leader of their opponents. In 1992, the Republicans delegitimized Clinton; in 2000, the Democrats delegitimized Bush; in 2008, the Republicans delegitimized Obama. That is nearly twenty years of hyper-partisanship. With the electoral success (or, at least, prominence) that came from their staunch opposition to Democratic proposals in the current Congress, Republicans have no interest in toning down their partisan rhetoric. Neither, for that matter, do the Democrats. Both parties are mindful that they need to cater to their bases by espousing relatively extremist policies and are content with simply benefitting from the finicky independent vote. Furthermore, with no real way to support a third party in America’s labyrinthine federal government, there is no imminent hope for a change to the aggressive partisanship so dominant in today’s political world. Nevertheless, both participants’ focus on America’s future, and the way they carefully related it to an independent presidency, reflected more on their quiet future aspirations than anything else. Bloomberg, who was a rumored third-party candidate
in 2008 (but threw his support behind Obama, instead), flatly denied that he would run, but qualified his statement by saying that he wouldn’t run in 2012. His relentless dedication to the strength an independent president would have, especially in the context of America’s most serious problems, is telling. Scarborough, too, hinted at presidential ambitions in his repeated exhortations about Washington’s problems. Whether it is possible for the mythical Third Way to bridge every political divide, enhance the political system for everyone involved, and do so without a major populist revolution is yet to be proven. Presidential candidates ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Storm Thurmond to Ross Perot have all expressed their own forms of political independence, and have at times made a significant dent in the overall system, but without the election of a third-party candidate, there’s really no way to tell. Michael Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough certainly agree that such an election is inevitable, and that it would be crucial to saving America, but it is impossible to tell if they are right. Perhaps in two years we will find out that their vision of the Third Way has come to pass. Gary Gerbrandt ’14 (garygerbrandt@ college) supports the Green-Rainbow Party, the Bull Moose Party, the Alaskan Independence Party, and any other party that no one’s ever heard of. 11.04.10 • The Harvard Independent
NO HOLDS BARRED By Sam Barr
Poll at Your Peril
Questioning the utility of voter polling.
n the weeks before Election Day, we were besieged by polling data, breathlessly conveyed as breaking news by unimaginative journalists. This might seem rather benign, a mild diversion for the politically obsessed, but I’m not sure that polls are quite so innocent. We need to either become more critical of and informed about opinion polls or start ignoring them altogether. The problem is that journalists, pundits, politicians, interest groups and citizens usually take polls at face value because sometimes, it’s in their interest to do so. If a poll says 55% of the population supports Jones, according to popular reason, Jones must have 55% of the vote. However, polling is not so simple. For one thing, it is usually a bad idea to draw firm conclusions from a single poll as they can go grievously wrong. A Rasmussen poll predicted a 13-point victory for Sen. Daniel Inouye (DHI) a few weeks before the election: Inouye won on Tuesday by over 50 points. Then there’s the September poll conducted for PJTV, a right-wing Internet TV channel, which found that a third of African-Americans likely to vote would support a Tea Party candidate. A single poll mixed with wishful thinking and self-interest can outweigh the well-known realities of American politics for some people. The reason polls have this power is that they give the illusion of scientific backing. But what makes the best, most accurate polls often does not apply to run-of-the-mill political polls. I am not referring only to the blatant partisan polling that the two parties churn out in order to drive their preferred narratives about certain races (Rasmussen, for its part, is a technically nonpartisan The Harvard Independent • 11.04.10
but Republican-friendly pollster. Nate Silver, of the FiveThirtyEight blog, estimates that their polls had a three or four point Republican tilt this year). There are factors besides a poll’s provenance that should make us suspicious of seemingly straightforward results. One major problem in the average political survey is forced choice: pollsters will only offer options such as agree or disagree, support or oppose, but not “I don’t know” or “I haven’t thought much about it.” Another recent PJTV poll asked likely voters whether they supported or opposed the Tea Party — there were no other options. The not-so-surprising result was that more than half the country supports the Tea Party. But this finding starts to look questionable when you consider that a recent Newsweek poll found that more than a quarter of registered voters have not read, heard, or seen anything about the Tea Party. Apparently, a lot of the people that PJTV tallied either as supporters or opponents were just hearing about this “Tea Party” for the first time. Americans just are not as opinionated as opinion polls assume and require them to be. When polls explicitly offer an option such as “I don’t know” or “I haven’t thought much about it,” people often take it. In 2002, the National Election Study found that about a third of Americans admitted not having thought much about the Bush tax cuts, the central domestic policy initiative of the past year. Or consider a CBS News poll from late August, during the “Ground Zero Mosque” nonsense, thatasked about American’ impressions of Islam. Thirty-seven percent reported not having heard enough about the religion to say.
It is easy for those who are afflicted with the political bug to forget that sometimes their fellow citizens just don’t pay that much attention to politics and don’t have strong opinions on every issue. But opinion polling has often implied that Americans have well-formed views on everything under the sun. Then there is the issue of question wording, which has tremendous ability to introduce bias into poll results. Compare a couple of polls taken in June, during the Gulf oil spill, measuring attitudes towards offshore drilling: CBS News asked whether respondents favored increased drilling off the coast or thought that “the costs and risks are too great.” Just 40% favored drilling and 51% said the costs are too great. But Ipsos presented two options: either offshore drilling is “necessary so that America can produce its own energy” or it is a bad idea “because of the risks to the environment.” 62% said drilling is necessary and just 32% said it is a bad idea. CBS News, of course, reported that a “majority now opposes more offshore drilling.” Ipsos, meanwhile, concluded that support for offshore drilling was not budging “despite increased coverage and environmental fallout from the spill.” Which conclusion you believe depends on which question wording you prefer — or, more realistically, which conclusion you want to sell. The inevitable variation between polls with different wordings of questions enables almost all interested parties to claim the public’s support for their own positions. Now, while I have focused on issue polling, it is worth noting that polling averages are generally a good basis for predicting electoral
outcomes. However, a few major caveats are in order. First, the media often does not report polling averages. They report lone poll results, like Gallup’s outlandish prediction that Republicans would best Democrats by 15 points in the overall congressional ballot (it looks to be closer to seven points). Second, even polling averages can fail systematically. They predicted a three-point victory for Sharron Angle over Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), but Reid pulled another rabbit out of his hat, and won by five points. One possible explanation, says Silver, is that pollsters did not pick up a lot of unenthusiastic Reid voters (is there any other kind?) because such people were unlikely to complete the polls. The flipside of this problem can be seen in Colorado, where polls projected radical-right independent candidate Tom Tancredo would be closer to victory than he was, possibly because his voters were very enthusiastic and likely to respond to pollsters. I should clarify, in closing, that this is not an argument against polling per se. Nonpartisan, transparent, methodologically sound polling is absolutely useful. It can tell politicians what people think and tell citizens what their neighbors think. It’s fun for the politically inclined to follow and yes, I confess that it’s fun for me too. But the current cacophony of opinion polls is distracting and the indiscriminate way in which the media reports on them is misleading. We must either learn how to read polls or how to ignore them. Sam Barr ’11 (sbarr17@fas) would have known that Truman was going to beat Dewey and would have notified the Chicago Daily Tribune accordingly. email@example.com
On the Harvard Republican Club
Minority Report By LUIS MARTINEZ
ith Republican victories in Congressional and gubernatorial races this Tuesday, the national focus is quickly shifting towards the ideas and solutions of the Republican Party, and how the Obama Administration will or will not work with conservative leadership in Congress. It’s my sincere hope that the Democrats that remain will seek to learn more about the plans and vision of the Republican Party and strive to work alongside the new Congressmen, Senators, and Governors in order to better America’s financial situation and deal with other issues that need fast and convincing results. This is not the time for crass partisanship, but rather a time for Democrats to accept that this nation wants to go in a different direction than that outlined in the last two years since Obama’s election, and that failure to do so will result in a Republican President being elected in two years. In a similar vein, these Republican victories represent a valuable opportunity for the Harvard community to discuss conservative ideals in the context of the role they will play in shaping the national conversation and the contributions they can make in solving some of this country’s most pressing questions. It’s only by understanding each other and appreciating differences that Democrats and Republicans will be able to forge onward together in a productive manner. Otherwise we will find ourselves in a deadlock that will only hurt our country and delay the 6
implementation of the financial and social reforms that are desperately needed. On a local level, consider this an invitation to explore the Harvard Republican Club and to find out what we’re all about. Simply put, there are a lot of misconceptions about the Republican Party that should be put to rest, and the best way to quell any concern is to learn about it and to have it addressed. Just as I know that not all Democrats want the United States to end in a state of financial ruin, it’s important for Harvard to realize that not all Republicans (or for that matter, many Republicans) are the manifestations of your worst nightmares. First off, we are not the “party of no,” but rather the party of “yes.” The Republican platform is one grounded in responsibility, opportunity, and service. From praising the individual as the greatest engine for innovation to enforcing those policies that lead towards greater fiscal sanity, the Republican Party takes great pride in offering equal opportunities and increased access to the American Dream for all those who follow the rule of law and those principles on which this country was founded. One of the most amazing and underappreciated facts of the Harvard Republicans is that we are by far one of the most diverse organizations on this campus, and I mean this in the many different senses of the word. From racial diversity, to geographic diversity, to intellectual
differences, this is truly a big tent with something for everyone and genuine opportunities for political discourse at a high level. We may not all agree as a party on how to approach every single problem, but I firmly believe that it is through these sorts of differences that moderate Republicans come together with even the most conservative Republicans to reach the best solutions. This is why the GOP has made such a significant rebound in the past two years — by using the big tent strategy and adopting the best elements from everyone under that tent, the Republican Party is able to keep it fresh, stay original, and remain relevant in an ever-changing world. In a climate where only some Democrats got off the hook by the slimmest of margins, Republicans have embraced candidates from the very moderate to the very conservative and have built a coalition around discussion and understanding among these factions. The GOP has become the party of collaboration and good ideas. Democrats should follow this model and work with the other side for the sake of making this country better in a dire hour. This holds true for our Club at Harvard, as we are a body that takes pride in our differences within that manifest themselves in the best way through our members and their approaches to politics. By understanding the spectrum of conservative thought, our members are able to effectively articulate their positions and those of the Club more
effectively than those in other political organizations. Our official counterpart is often viewed as a monolithic organization that tends to attract only the most liberal students, or those that I endearingly refer to as to the left of Harvard. This often results in an environment with repeated ideas and a lack of appreciation for more tempered sentiments. It also creates an environment where politicians are using wedge tactics and hateful rhetoric to discuss social issues instead of sitting down and discussing the best way forward on the questions of jobs, the economy, and out of control government spending. It is for this reason that I am most excited about the wake-up call that November second brought about, for it does force liberal Democrats to reconsider their methods and pet projects, and it will hopefully encourage them to look to the other side of the aisle in order to find some of those evasive solutions to this nation’s most pressing questions. I know that the HRC is ready to share our thoughts, opinions, questions, and concerns with the rest of the campus. Take a moment to consider the possibility that the other side may have some pretty solid ideas and to talk with us about how we can work together to move this country forward. Luis Martinez ’12 (lamartin@fas. harvard.edu) is the Vice President for Speakers and Political Discourse of the Harvard Republican Club.
11.04.10 • The Harvard Independent
Harvard Museums 101 Musings about museums. By WEIKE WANG
ouring museums is something I like to do but never do. The manic semester I willingly registered for consumes much of my free time, sleep time and Harvard time, but given that this is my senior fall, nostalgia compels me to go out and enjoy Harvard for something other than its workload. My inbox has been flooded lately with emails about museum nights. Harvard boosts a collection of established museums, none of which I have thoroughly perused because the proximity mutes any urgency I have to see them. In truth, museums offer an attractive brand of learning — learning through experience. I shuffle around, I see things, I read captions, I gape and by leaving time, I have collected enough tidbits to sustain an awkward dinner date. In the last two weeks, the Sackler, the Museum of Natural History and the Peabody each hosted a museum night with free food. The latter drew me out of my bookish den, but the energy of each museum kept me there, courting portraits on walls, cooing to taxidermic fuzzies and kissing sugar skulls. Night at the Sackler: October 20th The Fogg closed my freshman year before I even knew of a Fogg. Since then, a modest collection from the renovating museum has occupied the top floor of the Sackler. It features a brief progression from ancient Grecian mosaics to Picasso and does well to satisfy the occasional art viewer, but not the avid connoisseur. On a normal day, the Sackler keeps its quiet. Pens and loud voices are left at the bottom of stairs and guards in black uniform roam the polished exhibition rooms with silent footsteps and humorless The Harvard Independent • 11.04.10
faces. But on October 20th, the fourstory foyer echoed with the chatter of eager undergraduates waiting for tours and the sounds of the Harvard Glee club. Hosted by the Harvard Art Museum Undergraduate Connection, the museum night was open to all Harvard students. There were cake-cutting, good company and floors of spotlighted galleries just beckoning admirers. For me, art museums are enjoyable because they require simply an appreciation of the original, the beautiful and the strange — all of which the Sackler offers in heaps. Night at the Natural History Museum: October 22nd. The Harvard Museum of Natural History houses the renowned glass flowers, but it also has roomfuls of taxidermic animals, a glistening rocks collection and overhanging whale skeletons of mammoth proportions. On October 22nd, the Harvard Undergraduate Biological Science Society hosted an evening at the museum. There was a scavenger hunt around all the exhibits and guided tours, one of which led by Professor Andrew Berry of OEB fame. At first, the museum was offputting. I was confronted by cases of stuffed animals, which I have trouble disassociating from game trophies. But after awhile, they grew on me — some of them (the gerbils) were even cute. Now onto the glass flowers. I don’t know how many times tourists have asked me about these and until this event, I thought they meant grassy flowers. Grassy flowers? I guess they’re everywhere. But the glass flowers are famous for a reason: they are so realistic, it is almost boring. Every leaf, pedal, tendril is intricately crafted
and colored to look like your florist’s flowers, but in glass-form. However, my favorite section of the museum was the minerals and rocks section. I spent far too long perusing the cases of elements and ogling their weird conglomerates of color and form—they are nature’s jewelry after all. Night at the Peabody: November 2nd Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in Mexico. Family and friends gather to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is celebrated immediately following Halloween, but it should not to be confused with Halloween. Every year, the Peabody Museum celebrates this holiday with a special Day of the Dead exhibit. The exhibit has activities such as sugar skull decorating and the best spicy hot chocolate you will ever have (thank the
Aztecs). However, the most poignant part of exhibit was the central alter — visitors could write prayers for the deceased on strips of paper and leave them by the alter between winking candles and fluttering flags. Sitting by the heat of the flames, I felt a tug of on my heartstrings as I watched so many hands clasped in prayer. In the past two weeks, the three largest Harvard museums opened their doors to the community, but this is not to say that they are any less extraordinary on any other day. To the stressed out reader lamenting over midterms and paper: take a break, take a stroll and take a peak into what Harvard museums have in their exhibits. Weike Wang ’11 (wang40@fas) thinks all classes should be held in museums. firstname.lastname@example.org
The N-List November fun for everyone. Courtesy of Wikicommons
By CHRISTINE WOLFE
ovember, it seems, is a month of limbo with each person squinting through the gray haze that divides the warm oranges of October from the soft whites of winter break. One can almost feel a sense of settling in the air as students finish their midterms and return to what may be deemed a normal daze. I came close to losing my grip on reality multiple times in October as I frantically shoved my computer plug into the rickety outlets of Lamont’s floor and then realized that since I entered those auspicious library doors, the sun had set and Taylor Swift has released a new album. But the laborious slaughter of October is no more — November has come and I am released from the constraints of endless studying. The cold is descending, but there are still ways to free oneself from dreariness and remember what it is to have fun again. I have created a list of activities alliteratively appropriate for the month of November and I hope that they shall bring as much pleasure to you as they have to me in Novembers past. 1. Nicknaming: The time has come for deceit and secrecy. We have now been in school for two months and the potential for gossip is ripe for picking. 8
Drama will and has unfolded, silent love is blossoming and roommate tensions are starting to boil over. As most of us learned back in middle school, there is a solution for dealing with the drama: nicknames. There are quivers of fear and excitement as whispers are exchanged about the cute guy/girl who lives downstairs. However, being the diligent gossipers we are, the only practical manner in which to discuss said guy’s/girl’s hotness in public or in mixed company is to give him or her an appropriate nickname. What about French Onion Sun Chips? “I think that I’m having French Onion Sun Chips with lunch today.” “You are so lucky.” Or Cashmere? “I just love to rub cashmere all over myself. It’s so soft and smooth.” There is also that one person in your entryway with whom you secretly want to be best friends, but you are too shy to broach the subject. Nicknames appropriate for this category may fall into the “obscure animal” or “rhyming words” nickname subsections. And of course, there are those individuals you and your friends frequently speak about, but are unaware of their real names. These people are usually nicknamed
based on physical characteristics and/ or their appearance in your random dreams. 2. *Novel Writing: November is National Novel Writing Month in which the Office of Letters and Light, a creative writing organization, challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel in only a month. They encourage youths to participate as well as adults, though the word count goal for the youth program is not fixed. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to inspire intense creativity; one is not supposed to waste time meticulously editing his or her work. To delve so deeply into fiction writing can be an escape from reality — maybe the Office of Letters and Light chose to hold the challenge in November so that the holidays would seem to approach more rapidly. 3. Nuclear Fission: Ask a physicist. 4. Nose-Bleedies: The chilly weather as a constant companion results in drastic variations in nose function. There is the presence of superfluous mucus, which, while annoying and vaguely unattractive, is relatively harmless. Much more worrisome is nasal dryness. The lack of moisture in the nasal cavity can lead to severe booger-induced pain, inadvertent nose-picking in public spaces and
violent nosebleeds. I, an expert on nasal hemorrhages, have discovered that nosebleeds can actually provide at least 30 minutes of delightful entertainment (termed Nose-Bleedies) before one realistically needs to go to the hospital. “Drip-art” can range in its intricacy from finger-paintlike creations to realistic, modernist renditions of the world as Now. Blood dries as a lovely dark fuschia, which perfectly accents the colors of a fall wardrobe. My personal favorite, however, is “Ebolarama,” in which the nosebleed victim makes tracks with the blood from his or her eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. He or she can then convince friends of the spread of a highly contagious, completely lethal disease to Cambridge, Massachusetts! I can ensure that the aforementioned activities will provide respite from the doldrums of November and the aftermidterm blues. After all, you will be much more concerned about dying of nasal dryness than the D you received on some exam. *This is actually real — go to nanowrimo.org and check it out! Christine Wolfe ’14 (crwolfe@college) is proud of herself for spelling “hemorrhage” right on the first try. 11.04.10 • The Harvard Independent
Dimensional Analysis Analysis Dimensional An examination of the 3D movie trend. By ANGELA SONG
sometimes wonder why anyone would be willing to shell out an extra $4 for the RealD 3D Experience when the price of an average movie ticket is cringeworthy enough on its own ($10 at night at your local Harvard Square AMC). The 3D fad, while entertaining at first, is getting a little out of hand with dozens of films set to be released, or rereleased, in 3D. “It’s all a scam to take your money,” one freshman dismisses what she believes is a temporary fad. Her roommate, however, disagrees. “3D movies are worth the extra money for the added dimension to your viewing experience.” Depending on the video content, however, the 3D effect may not be worth the extra money or effort put in to creating a more “real” experience. I still vaguely remember seeing my first 3D IMAX movie: the overly large, clunky glasses handed out right before I walked in; gasping in awe as characters and objects popped out at me; and people all around me reaching toward the screen,
The Harvard Independent • 11.04.10
Courtesy of Wikicommons desperately hoping to touch the slick skin of a dolphin slipping by. More recently, James Cameron’s Avatar captivated thousands around the world by giving its audience a revolutionary 3D IMAX experience. If any movie was worth waking up early on a Saturday to catch the early morning showing in order to offset the exorbitant 3D IMAX price, it was Avatar. The phenomenal graphics sprung to life as viewers whirled through Pandora. The vibrant colors and minute details of this fantasy world seemed so real and within grasp. The movie’s plot may have been a Disney rip-off, but the stellar graphics would not have been as impressive if the movie were only in two dimensions. However, not every movie needs the additional 3D effect. In fact, another well-known James Cameron blockbuster, Titanic, is slated for rerelease in 3D in 2012. And any diehard Star Wars fan would know about George Lucas’ plan for a 2D-to-3D conversion by 2012 as well. The problem with these movies lies in the fact that the original filming was done with one camera. Modern 3D movies are filmed with two cameras, creating the visual effect of a vantage point from each eye. This adds a more realistic feel to the movie than a post-production conversion from 2D to 3D ever could. If these prominent movies end up being successful in 3D, who knows what classic film could be next. I must admit that I am a little curious to see Jar Jar Binks and the Ewoks brought to life and I really want to be there, in the cantina, when Han Solo shoots first. The
Star Wars saga is perfect for a 3D movie, with a combination of strange creatures and enough action sequences to make the viewing experience interesting. Titanic, on the other hand, is a little less thrilling. Beyond seeing the ship’s collapse and an enormous chunk of ice, the only other scene I might want to see in 3D is Jack and Rose’s “I’m flying!” moment set to Celine Dion’s dulcet tones – if only so that I can reach out and touch Leo. Recently, the 3D craze has even spread to the comfort of our own homes with the distribution of 125 million free pairs of special 3D glasses to interested viewers. Just last year, two commercials were featured in the Super Bowl with added 3D effects: a trailer for Monsters vs. Aliens (another recent 3D cinema release) and an ad for Sobe energy drinks. And an entire episode of NBC’s Chuck, Chuck Versus the Third Dimension, featured 3D technology. From standard television to HD quality to Blu-Ray technology, the digital market is being transformed overnight. 3D TVs are already on the market (complete with the 3D glasses) and may soon drop to a reasonable price for the ordinary consumer. Although I enjoy the occasional foray into the 3D world, until the awkward glasses are transformed into something far more sleek and comfortable, I think I will enjoy the real 3D world around me. Angela Song ’14 (angelasong@college) can think of better things to do with her extra four dollars.
God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise With the support of a new band, Ray LaMontagne soars. By BRADFORD ROSE
or those who know a little about Ray LaMontagne and his particular brand of soft and soulful rock, the first track on his new album God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise may cause you to do a double take and ask, “Am I listening to the wrong artist?” The album starts off with the song “Repo Man,” a raucous rant of acoustic and electric guitar that is perpetuated by the percussive locomotion of the bass and drums. It is far from the gentle acoustic soul to which LaMontagne fans have grown accustomed. When a hint of old-school funk appears, even I have check to make sure that I am listening to the right album. However, when I hear LaMontagne’s raspy yet powerful vocals, my doubts disappear and so should yours. It is just Ray LaMontagne venturing into unfamiliar territory by entering the arena of electric rock. While he may risk criticism by trying something different, LaMontagne’s new album assuages any doubts immediately with the first track and converts his critics to believers — believers in the incredible quality and variety of music on the rest of the LP. Although LaMontagne’s use of electric guitar on his new album is significant, he is no Bob Dylan circa 1965. Dylan fans and music buffs alike can recall the controversy over Dylan’s switch from pure folk to electric with the release of Bringing it all Back Home. Yet like Dylan’s crossover album, LaMontagne does not wholly abandon his roots. For the most part, the majority of the ten songs listed on God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise keep LaMontagne’s acoustic roots intact. The fact that “Repo Man” kicks off the album is a bold statement. It makes us ask questions, but more importantly, it begs us to listen to the rest of the
album. In doing so, you are not only rewarded with great music, but also with the realization that LaMontagne has not completely changed his style. Rather, he has added key musical elements that only emphasize, not overshadow, his excellent musicality. LaMontagne’s impressive vocal chords have become his trademark with the release of three previous studio albums. With his newest album however, it seems as though LaMontagne has finally found the right instrument to complement his heartfelt lyrics. The use of the pedal steel in God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise stands out as an expressive display of musicianship that pushes the music of LaMontagne’s most recent album to the next level. It
Courtesy of Wikicommons displays of quality musicianship may be a little clichéd, but LaMontagne’s unique yet outstanding voice is too sincere for people to question the authenticity of his tale. The lyrics tell of, what else, a love story. It is not the simple love story of a boy
this man’s feelings once were. It makes that fall from idealistic love that much more sorrowful, but it also makes his return back to a state of content solitude that much more fulfilling. If LaMontagne feels a sense of satisfaction in overcoming this very personal matter, it is only multiplied in the ears of the listener. God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise is not just an outstanding compilation of music, but also a great piece of art. It can be analyzed in so many ways and simply touching upon the musicianship or storyline is not enough: what makes the album great is its ability to grow. God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise has grown on me, and I fully recommend (channeling LaMontagne’s soulful and raspy voice) that you give it a chance to do the same for you. Rating: 4.5/5 stars Standout tracks: “Repo Man,” “God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise,” and “This Love is Over” Similar Artists: Bob Dylan, Chris Robinson, Ryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison
"With LaMontagne’s first attempt at producing his own work, he has found for himself the perfect complement for the raspy soul that permeates his music."
adds both a level of texture and complexity that fills in the spaces between the vocal verses. The pedal steel does not simply fill an obligatory gap in the music. It adds to the music by emphasizing and challenging the most poignant parts of the album — his vocals. The sweeping sensation caused by the pedal steel seems to rise with the inflection of his voice. It soars as his voice rises and it falls when his lyrics become emotionally wrecked. With LaMontagne’s first attempt at producing his own work, he has found for himself the perfect complement for the raspy soul that permeates his music. The story hidden underneath these
falling in and out of love, but also an emotional exploration. The scene is set in the album’s first track of a man whose love has ended and when that lover comes back begging, he stands firm in his decision to be alone. If “Repo Man” acts as a resolute denial of love, then the rest of the album navigates the emotions of doubt and reaffirmation. Some of the noteworthy tracks from God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise emphasize the dichotomy of LaMontagne’s story. The title track, when viewed solely on paper, is a beautifully written love note. It stands in stark contrast to the opening medley and for good reason. It shows us just how strong
Bradford Rose ’14 (brose@college) is out discovering his own particular brand of rock and soul. 11.04.10 • The Harvard Independent
The Reality Behind Roundhouse Kicks Courtesy of Wikicommons
Demystification of the martial arts by a real black belt. By MICHAEL E. ALTMAN
artial arts have always been mystifying to those who do not practice them. Do they really work? Can people really fight like that? Their prominence in the media, from the exaggerated to the stereotyped, does little to give people a realistic understanding of them. The first images that come to your mind when I mention of martial arts are probably ninjas, Bruce Lee, impossible stunts and B-action movies. It is no surprise that because of popularized image of martial artists people are incredibly eager when you tell them you’re a black belt. As a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, I know that this phenomenon is all too common. In order to understand the concept of martial arts, it is important to first understand what it actually is. The name literally means art of war or fighting. Essentially, a martial art — whether it is kung fu, karate or taekwondo — is a formalized fighting style for the purposes of combat and selfdefense. Despite their seemingly violent nature, many martial arts are strongly tied to traditional belief systems and do not promote offensive fighting. The first stereotype people tend to have about martial arts it that they are exclusively Asian. Contrary to popular belief, every major region in the world has or had a codified fighting style. You might ask, what is a European fighting style? Boxing is one example, and wrestling, jousting and fencing are all considered martial arts. One should take into account that by this definition, a knight and a ninja are not too dissimilar after all. A question often asked is whether studying martial arts is actually useful. Could you pull off a complicated technique if need be? The answer is that it depends on the situation. Training in a martial art is not about The Harvard Independent • 11.04.10
learning how to do a back flip while roundhouse kicking someone in the face. Instead, there is typically a progression of techniques. All complicated maneuvers are based on a core set of techniques that form the foundation for the majority of moves. My experience in taekwondo has confirmed this. Despite having trained for the past twelve years, I only know three kicks and three hand techniques. Each of them is very basic and can be executed quickly. It does not take much to learn a punch or roundhouse kick (despite what Chuck Norris jokes may have led you to believe) yet they are effective in self-defense. However, further training typically revolves around building upon these techniques and making them more effective. Skipping the basics would be like trying to perform calculus without knowing addition. In the end, the simplest move is often the best. Escaping from an attack often involves a quick shift in momentum — a basic kick or punch. Rarely would someone utilize
a jumping or spinning kick. If such an attack move is used, it is probably done by Bruce Lee or someone in an action movie (possibly both). The quintessential action movie must have at least one scene where the hero and/or villain engage in some sort of fight involving gravitydefying moves and impossibly fast reflexes. Beginning with the Bruce Lee movies in the 1960s and taken to new heights in the Matrix movies, the use of martial arts in film has been perfected. There seems to be two divergent opinions on the use of martial arts: one camp views those who practice them as both talented and dedicated while the other camp recognizes them as clearly impossible feats and discounts martial arts as being overhyped and impractical. Needless to say, the martial arts in action movies are, more often than not, dramatized and fantasized. The status quo is unlikely to change. After all, who wants to see a macho action star fight off his enemies using short, quick attacks? The portrayal of martial arts in Hollywood films
due to Bruce Lee’s influence is the subject of many complaints by martial artists. But Bruce Lee was not just a movie star — he was a martial arts expert who created his own hybrid martial arts sytem, Jeet Kune Do. In order to fully understand martial arts, it is best to study them first-hand and watching a kung fu movie marathon on Spike TV does not count. If you doubt the abilities of a martial artist, simply visit YouTube and watch a video of an Olympic taekwondo match (yes, it is indeed an Olympic sport). With enough training, it is possible to do flying kicks and make them effective. So next time you meet a person with a black belt, do not aggrandize them. If they truly understand their art, they will remain modest and will not break anything for you. But be warned, if you assert their art to be a sham, they may break you. Michael E. Altman ’14 (maltman@ college) can do a roundhouse kick in his sleep. email@example.com
captured & shot By Patricia Florescu