SPECTATOR A JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN AND CONSERVATIVE THOUGHT
• VOLUME X, ISSUE IV • 5/2013
Ron Paul comes to Brown UPDATED Spectator May 2013 .indd 1
where we get our energy
Facts & figures on electricity consumption
exercise & mental health
Bookworms, too, should hit the gym
learning from ancients
liberty among liberals
Book review: All Things Shining
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LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
Thanks for reading this copy of The Spectator, our last issue
of the year. Next year, we will print two issues in the fall semester and two in the spring semester. If this is your first contact with The Spectator, welcome! In The Spectator you will find commentary on cam-
editors-in-chief Oliver Hudson Olivia Conetta
editor emeritus Ryan Fleming
senior managing editor Kelly Fennessy
pus topics and national news, usually from a libertarian or conservative point of view. We hope this issue contains opinions that you donâ€™t usually hear in classrooms or in conversations with friends. We do not try to offend, but you may be offended. Suing us on grounds of emotional pain and suffering will not convince us to change our content or win a court case. Our goal is not to be popular; our goal is to spark discussion. Ever growing, The Spectator has added several new
members this year and has reached a wider audience on
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business manager Stephanie Hennings
J.P. Hare Benjamin Koatz Justin Braga Elizabeth Fuerbacher Baxter DiFabrizio
Finally, with the completion of this issue, Oliver, now at the Spectator for three years, will step down as editorin-chief, leaving articles, edits and good memories. Olivia will continue as editor-in-chief next year, keeping the ship steady at the helm. We wish you a productive and enjoyable summer, Oliver Hudson Olivia Conetta Editors-in-chief
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Paul @ Brown
visit us online at brown-spectator.com COVER
When Ron Paul came to Brown on April 16th, he tailored his speech to his audience. He knew he would be applauded for advocating the legalization of pot but derided for championing economically libertarian policies, such as ending the minimum wage.
for the love of money Students seeking to be quick, successful entrepreneurs are often disappointed. Such impatience is dangerous, for it clouds one’s judgment of overall goals and the long-term picture.
the importance of privacy 7
Your information is best left to the parties who were intended to receive it in the first place. The PATRIOT Act must be repealed; monitoring citizens indiscriminately is not the right path to safety.
where do we get our energy? Not all power plants are created equal. It is important for people, especially loud activists, to keep all factors—pollution, danger, and cost—in mind when evaluating power sources.
growing up with terrorism We are the first generation raised in the post-9/11 world. Accepting that there will be terrorism and that there is nothing we can do to change that seems like the worst option, even if there is some truth to our powerlessness. We can never give up hope for peace.
exercise and mental health The ancient phrase “mens sana in corpore sano” tells a profound truth: mind and body are not separate, and the health of one requires the health of the other. Since then, it has been medically proven that exercise promotes mental health. If we value our minds, we should start heading to the gym.
the cause of liberty In his recent and much-celebrated visit to Brown, Ron Paul implicitly acknowledged the differences of opinion that separated him from his audience. He argued, however, that the very fact of disagreement should unite us behind the cause of preventing government from imposing uniform mandates.
All Things Shining: Reading the Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age
laugh now, cry later A collection of political cartoons for your enjoyment.
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RON PAUL GEMS:
PAUL @ BROWN Liberty among liberals
“Too much government caused too many of our problems.”
n April 16th, an angelic choir alighted from the Heav- the awkward phase of, “I know he wants to end the Departens for Brown’s comparative-handful of libertarians. ment of Education, but he also wants to end the wars!!” But When the door opened on stage left of Solomon’s upper-lev- though I personally learned to love the Paul of economic el auditorium, and Dr. Ron Paul came in waving, our hearts freedoms as well as the Paul of political ones, I knew many fluttered and the room lit up. If there is any modern politi- of his ideas would not be well received here. cian who has done more to advance (the libertarian notion So I, and my few comrades in (non-aggressive) of) liberty in the past eighty years I would like to see him. arms, entered with a skip in our step but a hesitance in our Paul consistently carried the youth vote in the states he pri- expectations into Solomon that day. maried and, even as a 77-year old congressman, galvanized What ensued was masterful. Paul, a libertarian folka (subset of a) generation to stalwartly defend the principles hero but—as ever—a politician, managed to play his crowd of property, markets and freedom. with a conductor’s precision. He never outright skirted The reason I used parentheses is because at Brown, the controversial issues. He would say things like, to paraRon Paul’s Freedom Train seemed to have missed its stop. phrase, “Sure we have to eliminate food stamps and welfare Or well, at least only remembered to unload half of its cargo. at some point, BUT ALL THE REAL WELFARE IS GOING Brown students are down with TO THOSE GREEDY BANKS legalizing pot. Even if they conAND CORPORATIONS, AM Brown students are down with legalizing nect them more with Bush and I RIGHT?” He built consenpot. But privatize Social Security? That’s brush them under the carpet sus. Most of his time was spent some Glenn Beck talk. End the FDA: like, for Obama, they too also hate getting cheers for the socially actually, what? Abolish the minimum wage!? liberal stuff—drug policy, fordrones. Gays should marry and the PATRIOT Act should’ve eign policy, civil liberties—and They ask: what is this guy even smoking? been abolished, like, 10 years wrapping his End the Fed manAnd then: can I have some? ago. They get that. But privaifestos in egalitarian rhetoric. tize Social Security? That’s some For the true Paul fan, he deGlenn Beck talk. End the FDA: like, actually, what? Abol- served appreciation for how he never misrepresented his ish the minimum wage?!!?! They ask: what is this guy even views, but still managed to stave off boos from a crowd that smoking? And then: can I have some? voted by a margin of 9:1 for Obama and definitely had its And honestly, they can’t be blamed for their interest. share of die-hard Jill Stein supporters. Half the time Ron Paul sounds like he’s just finished hitchThe Q&A afterwards was also relatively serene. hiking his way from Woodstock to a peyote commune in Most of the questions centered on his economic policy, his north-west Nebraska, and the other half like a robber baron monetary prescriptions and his views on lobbyists. Some who’s time-travelled to the 1980’s to join the Ayn Rand In- great one-liners came out of the whole ordeal. Paul’s perenstitute. It leaves many progressives hopeful, ecstatic, disillu- nially go-to zinger, “Truth is treason in the empire of lies,” sioned and furious all at the same time. This is epitomized in made its token appearance, but also some newer ones came an anonymous, socialist Facebook friend’s status: “It’s amaz- up, such as his response to a hypothetical on whether or ing how on the money [Ron Paul] is when he talks about the not he should form a third party: “What we should do is 20% of his ideology that isn’t batshit crazy.” focus on forming a second part first!” The last two quesI know where the exasperated poster is coming tions unsurprisingly hit upon the issues that most ceasefrom. Ron Paul was the transition phase (read: gateway lessly dog him among the more left-leaning of his followers drug) during my ideological shift from a good Democratic – abortion and the newsletters. His justification for being Party-faithful in my first term of senior year. I went through pro-individual freedom and pro-life was one of the most
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“I think America’s been exceptional.”
“Stop all the wars and bring the troops home.”
On government: “The bigger they get, the bigger the lies.”
“I have very little faith in government.”
“The people should be the government.”
“Liberty does not come from our government.”
On bipartisanship and nonpartisanship:
On paternalistic government’s attitude:
“Let’s work for a second party!”
“You as an individual have no brains whatsoever.”
EMILY GILBERT / BROWN DAILY HERALD
Ron Paul’s visit on April 16th was met with a full house. office of the Presidency. How can you do so with such a honest to come out of a right-wing mouth for a long time. It blight on your record?” The response: did not resort to the baby-killing pleas of religious zealots. “Well, if anything, these newsletters show you that It rested on some amount of acceptance and some amount man is not perfect. But at least when I make mistakes, it of reason. “Our first priority should be to define life,” “The only effects me. This should make you wary to entrust ultimore controversial the issue, the more local it should be,” mate authority to a government and, “It ultimately depends on made up of imperfect men. the morality of the society. If “If anything,” Paul pointed out, “these Their mistakes affect you.” people want to have abortions, newsletters show you that man is not Threading the libertarian they will have abortions,” were perfect. But at least when I make mistakes, line in the liberal stronghold some of the less off-putting it only affects me.” When you give power to of Brown University is a tough pro-life statements I’ve heard in the authorities, “their mistakes affect you.” feat on-campus freedom-lovers a while. The newsletters questake a while to master. Ron Paul tion was less honest and sincere did it elegantly and, if informal exit polling performed by and therefore merited a less honest and sincere response. yours-truly is any indicator, may have softened a couple of After being confronted with bigoted text from two articles hearts to his cause. To preach truth in an empire of lies is without by-line (under the banner of a collective Ron Paul treason. I can only credit Brown University’s student body Newsletter), which he has personally disavowed, distanced for not summarily condemning Dr. Paul, and letting his himself from, apologized for and done everything short of version of the truth get its day. Maybe at some point in the burn, he was asked: “You have asked the American people future his ‘liberty’ will be the norm here, too. 3 times now to be granted the ultimate responsibility of the opinion
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for the love of money
Are entrepreneurs the new I-banking analysts?
remember watching The Social Network when Justin Tim- sense to understand that not every new venture materializes berlake, in the character of eccentric entrepreneur cum into something tremendous, the prevalence of newly-mintventure capitalist cum bon vivant Sean Parker, said to Mark ed wealth belonging to people who have cashed in on trendy Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, “A million dollars ideas is skewing the perception that establishing one’s own isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.” Face- business is the way to succeed in life. Five years ago, investbook’s blockbuster success, together with technology peers ment banking or trading paved the way to earning a healthy such as Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have magnetized an six-figure salary by one’s late 20s. In either case, too much interest in the start-up culture that has defined this genera- focus is levied on short-term gains and monetary rewards to tion of 20-somethings and college co-eds. Is it a true passion be reaped within the first five or 10 years. to manage one’s own enterprise and improve life for the rest This is especially troubling when college co-eds and of the world? Or are sensational stories of young, vibrant recent grads “know” (or more realistically, think) they will men and women with nine figures to their name the real lust after a career in entrepreneurship or finance. First, these captors of our attention? I am prepared to say that such ro- words are poorly defined and encompass a plethora of avmanticized visions of monetary grandeur and societal ado- enues one could travel. Secondly, if doing what we love is ration are swaying our generation toward this path without crucial and we should embark on a professional path that their possessing a genuine unactually engages our curiosderstanding of its challenges yet ity and creativity, it is probably Students seeking to be quick, successful thirsting for the fast money it important to understand a job’s entrepreneurs are often disappointed. Such purpose and to have a clear idea can bring—much as investment impatience is dangerous, for it clouds one’s of what we wish to pursue. No, banking attracted budding analysts in the heyday of financial I do not mean that a college jujudgment of overall goals and the longmarkets. nior must enter recruiting seaterm picture. Nowadays those bold son with an unwavering vision enough to venture out on their of the trading desk he wants to own and hopefully land on a Forbes cover for becoming join. However, I do think one should be able to define inmultimillionaires by age 30 inform the career choices of vestment banking or explain the role of angel investors befresh university graduates. Creating new ideas and revolu- fore committing to a career choice. If—through either calltionizing human practices are admirable goals, but we must ing—the money one envisions earning as a 20-something also consider the impetus driving today’s startup founders. compels one’s decision, it is a shame. Following taxes and To many the prospect of birthing novel concepts and build- other living expenses, the analyst and associate salaries do ing a professional force from that platform is probably far not amount to much. Moreover, market trends, office polimore electric, more tantalizing than slaving away at Excel tics, and educational options might further differentiate for 90 hours a week in a staid office building. (I personal- monetary reality from earnings expectations. ly disagree and see the attraction to both realms, but I am This impatience and preponderance of attention painting an image of trending sentiment). Furthermore, na- toward immediate realizations are dangerous, for they scent entrepreneurs who are developing something “cool” cloud one’s judgment of overall goals and the long-term likely garner more sympathy than workaholic bankers in picture. In an article featured in the Atlantic in Septemdark suits as they buzz around trading floors or fill up cu- ber, Bob Dorf advised start-up founders, “Find the right bicles. trajectory for your business and focus not only on reachAccording to Business Insider, the success rate for ing it, but on assuring that the result is a sustainable, renovice entrepreneurs is 12 percent. While it is common- peatable profit engine that can perform and grow healthily
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Have we heard of any mortgage financing reform or housing policies to correct ramifications of the financial crisis? No. Why? I think a grave inability to understand these problems certainly plagues Capitol Hill, but it is also convenient for our senators and representatives to jettison these thought-provoking questions and only focus on pressing issues that affect them in the very near future. Through a political lens, we can see what happens when the short term is our sole focus and we disregard the importance of understanding the decisions we are rendering. For example, the current balance of power has acted in a way that only demonstrates the Pollyanna-like objective of covering health care for all 45 million uninsured Americans and perpetrating present entitlement outlays to the elderly. This addresses the rewards without acknowledging the risks of burdensome costs that our nation cannot bear. Similarly, college students and newly minted alums must understand what they are —but you know what else is cool? getting into when making a career choice. Of course, change is always possible and some over time.” Likewise, our nation’s people, and particularly marvelous entrepreneurs such as Larry Ellison or John Paul the poor excuse for Republican and Democratic leadership DeJoria took circuitous routes toward their ultimate sucwith which we are burdened, share a nearsighted, myopic cesses. However, the vast majority should not be persuaded vision of America’s path. One does not need a PhD in poby near-term visions of grandeur and financial stardom. litical science or economics to digest this reality—look at Many today expect to be the next Mark Zuckerberg and the last-minute, slipshod nabe set for life within 10 years ture of debt ceiling negotiaof graduating college. On the One does not need a PhD in political tions and sequestration talks. contrary, our generation should science to understand that our leaders Have any sustainable mandates focus on attaining solid skills share a myopic vision of America’s path. been achieved? No. On imporwithin the next five years that It is all too tempting for businessmen and tant issues such as entitlement will sustain our long, prolific congressmen alike to ignore the long term. careers. An overnight success reform—which both left and right-wing economists agree is such as Facebook or Instagram the largest liability we must tackle—have difficult, albeit is cool. But you know what else is cool? Establishing a roappropriate decisions been made? No. Have we addressed bust company such as DuPont or IBM that has prospered ugly issues of increasing costs as our population ages? No. for many generations.
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cybersecurity and the importance of privacy
t’s easy to feel that Big Brother is watching you. In the Wiretaps of uncharged ??? citizens, by year wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, then-President George W. Bush signed into law a controversial wiretapping ?? bill in 2001. The USA PATRIOT Act — an Orwellian acronym that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and ? Obstruct Terrorism — gave the federal government broader powers to intercept the communications of potential threats 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 to national security. Of course, this chart is completely made up. Federal security agencies refuse to “The changes, effective today, will help counter a disclose not only the names of those investigated but even the quantities. We literally threat like no other our nation has ever faced,” Bush said do not know whether they number in the hundreds or hundreds of millions. after the passage of the law, appealing to Americans’ salient fear and hatred of terrorists. “We’ve seen the enemy, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation has said, “Companies have murder of thousands of innocent, unsuspecting people.” new rights to monitor user actions and share data — includSince the signing of the Patriot Act, countless civil ing potentially sensitive user data — with the government liberties groups have criticized the act’s potential for inva- without a warrant.” sion of citizens’ privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union Why is privacy so important? Think about how you filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patriot live your life online. It’s likely you share personal, private inAct, alleging that the law violates the First, Fourth, and Fifth formation with the people you talk to online. Perhaps you Amendments to the Constitution. emailed your friends about your recent use of illegal drugs And now, history repeats itself. The Cyber Intel- or Facebook-messaged them about your father’s long batligence Sharing and Protection Act makes companies who tle with depression. Would you want Big Brother and the share information about online threats with the government Thought Police to know those private details of your perlargely free from civil and crimsonal life? Would you want your inal liability. CISPA recently Internet browsing history to Your information is best left to the parties died in the Senate, where Sen. land in the hands of Uncle Sam who were intended to receive it in the ﬁrst for him to use for any purpose? Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), chair place. Monitoring citizens indiscriminately is of the Commerce Committee You might be thinking you and member of the Select Comnot the right path to safety. aren’t a bad person or a terrorist mittee on Intelligence, came out and thus have nothing to hide in opposition to the bill, stating on the Internet. But, as Redthat the bill’s goals were important, but that CISPA did not dit user “pigfish” commented in a thread about CISPA and provide adequate protections for individuals’ privacy. The privacy rights, “privacy is the notion that we don’t want to bill did not reach the full Senate for a vote. share everything with everyone.” Your personal information But the bill’s failure to be put up for a vote in the is best left only to the parties who were intended to receive it Senate makes the legislation no less scary. Harvey Anderson in the first place. of Mozilla, a CISPA opponent, has said the legislation “creOf course, cybersecurity is and should be an imporates a black hole” through which the government can pull tant priority in an age where hackers can attack governments in different types of data. Theoretically, private emails and online. But monitoring citizens nearly indiscriminately is even medical records could land in the hands of the govern- not the solution to keeping the country safe from online atment, according to the Economist. And Mark Jaycox of the tacks — unless we’re living under the reign of Big Brother.
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how do we get our energy?
ith the recent debate over coal divestment on Administration, it accounts for 42.3 percent of the U.S.’s Brown’s campus, there has been a renewed interest total electricity consumption. in looking at where all of our energy comes from. More In general, coal is one of the dirtiest forms of enspecifically, how do coal, sunlight, and wind turn into the ergy production. According to the European Union’s Exelectricity used to turn on the lights? ternE project, coal has the second highest fatality per kiloFirst, we have to look at a very basic component of watt-hour (kWh). It is also a non-renewable resource that electricity and magnetism: flux. The concept is extremely will eventually run out. So why is coal so widely used? simple: When you move a magnet through a wire coil, or Coal is reliable, cheap, abundant, domestic and even spin magnets on a wire coil, it generates and electri- easy to transport. Coal power plants always have a steady cal current in the coils. Flux’s amazing application is trans- supply of coal being fed into them, allowing constant elecforming mechanical energy (moving the magnets) into tricity to be provided to the energy grid, which keeps the electrical energy (the current metaphorical train running created in the coil). This conwithout having to stop. Coal Not all power plants are created equal. cept is the basis for almost all is also extremely cheap, and It is important to keep factors such as types of electrical power plants. it is very easy to transport via pollution, danger, and cost in mind when The only variation between freight rail. Coal is also exevaluating power sources. plants is the method of spintremely abundant: The world ning the magnets. has enough proven reserves to However, not all power plants are created equal. last for another 112 years. Furthermore, the U.S. has such a Some power plants are more expensive, others use valuable large supply of coal that it actually exports some of its coal, resources, some are polluting, and some are not very reli- meaning, the country does not rely on other nations for able. Reliability is one of the most crucial aspects of elec- coal-powered energy. tricity generation in considering the national energy grid. The grid has to be constantly running. It can’t start up and Natural Gas stop like a light switch beccause there is too much resistance when power lines stretch from one state to another. Natural gas power plants work in much the same way as Think of the grid system like a train: A train can run at coal; only natural gas is burned instead of coal. Natural high speeds relatively smoothly, but it takes some time for gas accounts for 24.7 percent of the U.S.’s total energy conit to get started again once it stops. This is why this year’s sumption, a share that been on the rise in recent years due Super Bowl power outage and 2003 black out in the North- to falling costs. east lasted so long. Natural gas has the advantage of being much cleanIt is important to keep these factors in mind when er than coal energy and in many cases less costly. Natural evaluating power sources. gas is reliable and can be burned constantly, ensuring no sudden stops in production. Natural gas is abundant in the Coal U.S., and almost all natural gas used in the U.S. is produced in the U.S. However, Natural gas does have some distinct disCoal power plants are based on traditional steam power. Coal is burned, which in turn boils water, creating steam. advantages. It is still a fossil fuel and is not as abundant as The steam is then used to turn a turbine, which spins mag- coal, meaning it will also eventually run out. Natural gas nets around metal coils. Coal is the largest energy source still produces greenhouse gases, and is not 100 percent enin the world, and according to the U.S. Energy Information vironmentally friendly.
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What keeps the world running If you’re wondering what literally powers the lights in your dorm room or apartment, the answer is simple: almost all the electricity consumed in Rhode Island is generated using natural gas. Larger regions, however, must turn to more diverse sources to meet their energy demands. The United States’s energy sources are comparable to those of the rest of the world (in proportion, if not in magnitude): UNITED STATES
WORLD OIL OTHER 5% 3%
OTHER 7% HYDRO 7% COAL 42%
Natural Gas Nuclear Hydro Other
NUCLEAR 13% GAS 21%
though. Nuclear waste never goes away; environmental groups have long opposed the use of nuclear power for Nuclear energy also uses steam to move turbines, but in- this reason. Many countries have also shied away from stead of burning a fuel, it uses nuclear energy after such inciheat created by nuclear fission. Despite fears after such incidents as Three dents as the Three Mile Island The lack of fossil fuels makes accident and the Fukushima Mile Island and Fukushima, nuclear energy nuclear energy emission-free, disaster, despite the fact that is one of the safest forms of energy and not reliant on a limited renuclear energy is one of the according to the EU’s ExternE report. source. Nuclear plants are also safest forms of energy, accordable to run at all times, and they ing to the E.U.’s ExternE reare capable of producing enough electricity to power a na- port. tion; for example, France uses nuclear energy for 77.1 percent of its energy needs. In the U.S., nuclear energy accounts Hydropower for 19.3 percent of all electricity. Nuclear energy does have some downsides Hydropower is a renewable energy source that doesn’t use opinion
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continued | how do we get our energy?
steam, but rather the running water of a river to manually turn its turbines. This means that hydropower is clean, renewable, and reliable. Hydropower can also generate a significant amount of electricity. Take Washington state, for example, where dams provide nearly 76 percent of the state’s electricity. Hydropower does has significant geographical limitations, however, as some areas simply do not enough rivers to meet their energy needs. Furthermore, dams can often have negative ecological impacts. Therefore, not every river is suitable for hydro-conventional power plants.
Solar power is unique among the major sources of electricity in that it does not convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Instead, it uses photovoltaics to convert light energy into electrical energy. Solar panels have an almost infinite source of energy (the Sun), and they don’t produce harmful greenhouse gases. However, they have been slow to catch on in the US. Why? Solar panels need rare earth metals, which, as the name suggests, are rare. This drives up the cost of producWind Energy tion and makes the technology not entirely renewable. Furthermore, almost 90 percent of the world’s rare earth Wind energy uses the force of the wind to turn a windmill’s metals come from China, so it still puts America’s energy large blades, which turn the turbine, creating electricity. needs in the hands of a foreign nation. Wind energy is renewable, and creates zero emissions. Solar panels also aren’t reliable as a constant The problems with wind energy though, are nu- source of energy, since the night happens every – well merous. First and foremost, it is not a reliable source of – night. This means that large capacitors are needed to energy, because if there is no wind, then there will be no store energy for nighttime use. Furthermore, in many electricity. This causes our metaphorical train to stop, and northern climates, the sun isn’t very strong, so solar enerthat is never a good thing. gy becomes even less reliable. Wind energy is also Perhaps the final nail in the Texas is the leading state in wind inefficient. Each windmill prosolar coffin is that solar panels production by such a margin that if Texas duces so little energy, that it aren’t very efficient. The roof were its own country, it would be the takes thousands of windmills of the Nelson Fitness Center is 6th-largest producer of wind energy. Even to generate the power produced nearly covered in solar panels, so, wind only accounts for 9.8% of Texas’s by just one conventional power yet they only cover 10 percent electricity consumption. plant. Despite the U.S.’s status of the electricity demand for as the second largest producer the facility alone. With such of wind energy in the world, wind energy only accounts for weak returns, solar energy simply cannot handle the li2.9 percent of the U.S.’s electricity consumption. on’s share of the electricity demand. For another perspective, consider Texas. Texas is the leading state in wind production, so much so, that if The Future Texas were its own country, it would be sixth largest producer in wind energy. Even still, wind only accounted for Who knows what energy will look like in the future? Coun9.8 percent of the state’s electricity consumption. tries and the private industry are all looking for energy alBesides its abysmal production, wind energy also ternatives, and the future could be very bright for emerghas a negative environmental impact because the vast ing industries like solar power. However, it’s important that stretches of windmills all but ruin the aesthetics of the everyone – especially those vocal protesters – understand countryside. how it works now.
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growing up with terrorism
e are probably the youngest generation to remember exactly where we were on September 11, 2001. Most of us were in elementary schools across the country as we learned of an act of terror that rocked our nation. I still associate September 11 with the bright pink booksock on my fifth grade science book I was staring at when I first heard that something was wrong. At the time, I did not fully comprehend the magnitude of what had just occurred. I definitely did not understand how far outside of the norm such an attack was. Fast forward to Monday, April 15, 2013. After hearing about the bombings in Boston, a significant percentage of us posted facebook statuses asserting that Boston is in our thoughts. We hoped that everyone we know was unharmed, and after hearing that, in most cases, everyone we know was fine, we thanked our lucky starts that it was not worse. At least it was not another September 11. At least the Will we really “never forget”? death count was in the single digits, and not in the thousands. happen to us personally. It will hurt anonymous others, We, more so than other generations, grew up in a whose misfortunes we will lament in our supportive faceworld where the news of acts of terrorism flashed across book statuses. websites and televisions once in a blue moon. How does Should we give up hope that we can live in a more that affect our mentality and world outlook? peaceful world? Do we have a choice given what we have From an optimistic been exposed to? Will acts of point of view, perhaps the presAccepting that there will be terrorism and violence someday cease to even ence of terrorism has made us that there is nothing we can do to change surprise us? Even now, only virealize the importance of diolence in our own country has that seems like the worst option, even if plomacy. We realize the imporany kind of real shock value. there is some truth to our powerlessness. tance of our foreign policy and As much as I hate to adWe can never give up hope of peace. how foreign radicals will react mit it, I am completely guilty to it. With this in mind, perhaps of thinking ‘that’s too bad’, and the next generation of politicians will be even more mindful then moving on with my life in response to hearing about of our nation’s image. Note that I am not at all implying that some horrible atrocity halfway across the world. I hope that current politicians are to blame for previous acts of terror. anyone reading this is a better person than I am and actively From a less optimistic point of view, the presence empathizes with victims across the world. Accepting that of terrorism throughout most of our lives may have engen- there will be terrorism and people will get hurt and that dered apathy. By apathy, I do not mean that acts of terror do there is nothing we can do to change that seems like the not faze us. I mean that we accept terrorism as a necessary worst option, even if there is some logic and truth to our evil. We may assume that it is always going to happen be- powerlessness to stop it. At the risk of sounding too much cause there will always be radicals who hate us. We accept like a low level beauty pageant contestant, we can never give this necessary evil, but hope and expect that it will never up the hope for peace.
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the value of exercise
What the ancients can teach us about mental health
ens sana in corpore sano” is a famous Latin say- endorphins, which are natural opiates, produced during ing meaning “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” exercise boost mood, thereby helping the person bounce This phrase dates back to Ancient Greek and Roman cul- up after despondent thoughts and feelings. The endorphins ture, which held that the ideal man had both mental and are likely produced in an attempt to counteract shock to physical strength. Today, our cultural values have changed. the body during exercise. Physical strength is far less valued than mental strength. Another theory believes that exercise raises activTechnological advancement, especially in computing, food ity in the frontal lobes of the brain and the hippocampus, production, and transportation, has made the benefits of helping to fight mental illness. Other theories cite higher physical strength less while the benefits of mental strength levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine after enormous. After all, many of today’s celebrated successes – exercise as a cause. Finally, other possible explanations Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buf- rely on the fact that exercise is known to increase levels of fett — are known for their brains, not their brawn. Physi- “brain-derived neurotrophic factor,” which is believed to cal strength today is regarded as a sign of good physical boost mood. But whatever the reason behind’s exercise’s health, but is not regarded as a necessity. However, it may beneficial effects on mental illness, the medical commube high time we starting valuing brawn again. Scientific re- nity is confident in the premise that exercise can help those search now indicates that exercise promotes mental health, with mental illness. The mind-body question of old seems as well as physical health. The Greeks and Romans may silly today. Clearly, the mind and body are not separate. have had it right: The key to The evidence that exercise overall health is a strong mind can relieve symptoms of menWhatever the reason behind exercise’s and body. tal illness should be reason beneﬁcial effects on mental illness, the Exercise eases sympenough for college students to medical community is conﬁ dent in the toms of a variety of mental illexercise more. Even if one does premise that exercise can help those with nesses, including depression not have a mental illness, a colmental illness. The mind and the body are and schizophrenia. A 1999 lege student is in the prime age study in the Archives of Interrange to develop a mental illnot separate. nal Medicine found that deness. Seventy-five percent of pressed patients in a 16-week aerobic exercise program mental illnesses occur by age 24, and one in four young showed as much improvement as patients on antidepres- adults between ages 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mensant medication for the same 16 weeks. A follow-up study tal illness, according to the National Institute of Mental demonstrated that those patients who exercised were less Health. If you are struggling with a mental illness, please likely than others to relapse into depression six months af- consider visiting Psychological Services, which reports ter the end of the study. that 1,300 students visit each year for various reasons, unRegular exercise also helps those with schizophre- derscoring the prevalence of mental illness in college. nia, helping to ease depression, low self-esteem, and social Regular exercise can help those struggling with withdrawal. Exercise can also counteract some of negative mental illness, but what is especially interesting is that exside effects of medication. For example, anti-psychotic ercise can also act as a preventative measure against mental medications often lead to weight gain, which can be miti- illness: allowing mentally healthy people to ward off, or at gated by regular exercise. least make less likely, the onset of mental illness. AccordThere are many competing theories about why ex- ing to the American Psychological Association, regular ercise often helps those with mental illness. A conclusive exercise in mentally healthy people helps reduce the fear explanation has not yet been found. One theory is that the produced in the flight-or-flight response when anxiety-
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Brown provides us with state-of-the-art exercise facilities, such as the Nelson Fitness Center. As human beings seeking to stay healthy, and especially as students seeking to stay sharp, we should use them often. provoking situations arrive. This can help people who may be susceptible to an anxiety disorder. In addition, regular exercise increases energy levels and self-esteem, and also provides an outlet for stress. opinion
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Brown students, and other students across the country, should heed the advice of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Letâ€™s exercise regularly to achieve greater mental health. Mens sana in corpore sano.
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Ron Paul: “It’s the cause of liberty that I stand for”
ormer Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) championed the cause taking money from efficient companies and funneling it of liberty in front of a packed and enthusiastic crowd toward “lousy” ones. But he was also critical of citizen-toin Salomon 101 at Brown on April 16. Hosted by the Brown citizen welfare. The solution is not to extract money from Lecture Board, Paul touched on foreign policy, the drug the rich and redistribute it, he said. The real solution is to war, the military-industrial complex, and the gold stan- ensure that nobody gets rich from government or military dard, among other topics. corruption. The first part of Paul’s lecture focused on foreign “The people should be the government,” not politipolicy. He criticized the U.S. for spending money to keep cians or special interests, he said. North and South Korea divided. In his view, the U.S. govAlso in an economic vein, Paul decried deflation, ernment used crises like the North Koreans’ attainment of which devalues our currency and thus destroys the middle nuclear weapons as an excuse to drum up “constant agita- class. The rich receive money first, and then it circulates tion” among the populace and thus be able to spend more and loses value, he said. money on the military-industrial complex. He supported The audience was especially pleased with Paul’s national defense, but argued that the U.S. should be less condemnation of the War on Drugs. It is not constitutioninvolved in other countries’ affairs. al to “arrest somebody on suspicion,” he said. However, “I vote for trying to achieve with peace the changes during the question-and-answer session, when Spectator the country wants to see around the world instead of ‘pre- contributor Benjamin Koatz ’16 asked Paul whether he emptive war’ to mitigate potenwould legalize drugs at the fedtial threats”, Paul said. In the eral level, Paul said the federal Ron Paul noted that an individual should meantime, the U.S. is “wasting government should stay out of be able to take economic and personal our time and money” in Afdrug legalization and leave it to risks in a free society. Therefore, he said, ghanistan, he added. the states. freedom unites: people with totally different Paul was also critical Paul also noted that an inopinions should come together to get the of the Obama administration’s dividual should be able to take drone war and decried Demoeconomic and personal risks in government out of their lives. crats’ support of it. He noted a free society. New York City the immorality of the drone war: For each suspect killed, Mayor Bloomberg’s large soda ban runs counter to this 50 civilians are killed as well. He found it unbelievable freedom, he said. that Americans wonder why other countries are against He closed the speech with an appeal to liberty. He us when our government’s policies kill innocent people said freedom brings people together and that people with abroad. totally different opinions should come together to get the The former contender for the Republican Party’s government out of their lives. presidential nomination highlighted the problems awaitWhile Paul said he voted against the Patriot Act, ing the U.S. as a result of high government spending. Now, he did not further cover issues of Internet privacy, an esother countries buy our debt, Paul said, but we will some- pecially salient topic in the midst of the controversy surday have to pay back those debts. Instead, the U.S. should rounding the Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act, and live within its means. His solution for scaling back is to Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Knowing “stop all the wars and bring the troops home,” a policy pre- his largely liberal audience, he also shied away from social scription that was met with applause from the crowd. issues, though he noted in the question-and-answer sesCorporate welfare, the “biggest welfare,” was not sion that he does not support abortion due to his experisafe from Paul’s barbed tongue. He disliked the practice of ence as an obstetrician-gynecologist.
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All Things Shining
Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age
BOOK REVIEW by BAXTER DIFABRIZIO
Book review All Things Shining: Rereading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age Authors Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly Publisher Free Press
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s summer approaches, we avidly seek books to read that will enrich us and give us something to say at the next social gathering or in the next school year. Perhaps you’re open to a book that gives a crash-course in the history of civilization, philosophy, or the human condition in modern times? Well, do we have the book for you! A survey of literature and philosophical thought in the Western world from ancient times to the present, Hubert Dreyfus’s and Sean Dorrance Kelly’s All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age is the perfect book for increasing your street cred. But caveat emptor, if you would rather your worldview stay the same, this may not be the book for you. The authors present an incredibly humane and sophisticated argument about how we should view the world, but the argument is quite controversial and challenges many traditional viewpoints. However, if you’re up for the challenge, delve into the deep thought of the West and see how a wholesome appreciation of our literary heritage can change your life. Why read a book on the Western World, particularly the Western canon of literature? Isn’t that like saying, “Why don’t we have white history month?” The answer is that we live in a Western society, and despite the hegemony
Why read a book on the Western World? The answer is that we live in a Western society, and despite the hegemony of the old Western classics, the worldview of this literature is remarkably holistic and inclusive. of the old Western classics, the worldview of this literature is remarkably holistic and inclusive. The ancient authors, the medieval authors, and the present authors all appreciate the roles of other people—from slaves to freemen, paupers to kings—and though all people may not have a prominent voice in the literature, they do have a voice which is recognized, empathized with and accepted. The ancient world was frank in its denial of social mobility, but even more frank in its appreciation and sensitive portrayal of people from all walks of life. This only widens the ap-
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Do not think that, just because they have already been so extensively studied, the wisdom of the ancients has run dry. Their works still have much to teach us. plicability of Western philosophy to people in our modern derstanding that the gods are moods, personified forces that society. Dreyfus and Kelly write that the current state of move us in our lives, and that to follow these “moods” is the nihilism and atheism derives fundamentally from the pro- path to maximizing our human potential and experiencing gression of Western philosophy in an inclusive vacuum, the holiest and most wholesome lives. When Eros arrowed not because of the introduction of Eastern sources. Other Helen, she felt impelled to follow a divine urge to elope with philosophies are present, particularly towards the end of the Paris, and her openness and receptivity to doing so, to acbook, but the authors do not survey them as they are mainly cepting the guidance of these forces that are larger than us, made her life meaningful and great. What’s noteworthy irrelevant to the narrative they develop. The major strength of All Things Shining is its use of about this argument is its thoughtful simplicity, its complete informed close-readings of texts you’ve heard of, including, and consistent decoding of the text, and its firm grounding Homer, the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, Descartes, and Mel- in Greek history and philosophy. It’s also a rare perspective; ville—to support its thesis and to develop its points. Here’s you’ll impress even a professor with this sort of in-depth hisan example: Academic discourse is divided on Homer’s treat- torical and cultural knowledge! That’s a taste, the first step ment of Helen of Troy, because of this text well worth reading. he seems to have created in her The major strength of All Things Shining is Overall, in making arguments a fundamentally contradictory its use of informed close-readings of texts centered on the historical texts, character—a loving wife, and you’ve heard of—from Homer, the Bible, the authors present a lifestyle yet a traitor to her husband; the Dante, and others—to support its thesis. they believe is healthy and a epitome of beauty and of dispath out of our modern dysthycord. In a scene from the Odyssey, in which Menelaus of Sparta and his wife Helen of Troy mia. I invite you to read the book, see for yourself if you are are entertaining Telemachus, Odysseus’s son, Menelaus asks convinced! The writing is tight and strong, memorable, and his wife to tell a story. Helen tells the story of a lifetime, the infused with the wonderful historical vignettes and humorone where she abandons her husband for Paris and sparks ous asides. You’ll probably be a pleasantly surprised by the the Trojan War—and yet at the tale’s end, Menelaus smiles stance on Christianity and the nature of God. However, if and praises her for telling a story worthy of a true Greek you take away anything from this review, try to be open, like woman. Surprising, no? Dreyfus and Kelly have a solution the Greeks, to feelings and experiences, and let them guide that makes sense of the text. They call upon the Greek un- your life.
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LAUGHcry NOWlater Congratulations to the Class of 2013! To everyone graduating Brown this year, we are honored to have called ourselves your peers. We at The Spectator may not always have agreed with your every judgment or political position, but wherever you are headed, we wish you the best in all your endeavors. Go far, visit often, and remember this place you once called home.
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You may be leaving Brown, but donâ€™t think you canâ€™t take The Spectator with you! For subscriptions or individual issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit us online at brown-spectator.com. And of course, we will always welcome your submissions.
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winners & losers BROWN LECTURE BOARD
Brown students pay lip service to the idea of “intellectual diversity,” but no group on campus better fosters intellectual diversity than the Brown Lecture Board. In the past seven years, the group has featured speakers as wideranging as former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof. In April, the Lecture Board hosted former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a move that many of us at The Spectator appreciated. Even at a largely liberal school like Brown, the audience came together and cheered for Paul’s condemnation of the War on Drugs, support for bringing the troops home, and decrying of corporate welfare. We hope in the future that the Lecture Board continues to offer speakers from a wide range of political backgrounds and foster dialogue on campus about viewpoints different from those normally expressed.
In late April, passersby on the Main Green were robbed of a view of a pleasant New England spring afternoon. Obstructing the sight was an enormous black blob, allegedly containing one ton of carbon dioxide. The unavoidable black sphere was a group of activists’ stunt to raise awareness about carbon dioxide emissions. We at The Spectator can’t help but wonder about the merits of this bout of attention-seeking. Brown has already been saturated with events to raise awareness about environmentalism. If there are students still not on the green bandwagon, it is because they live under rocks, or even disagree with the environmentalists. In light of the stunt’s likely small impact on “awareness,” it is probable that the stunt cost more energy than it may be expected to reduce. After all, assembling, moving, and maintaining the blob used energy. We’re willing to wager not all of the energy used came from green sources. Not to mention that the stunt is also just an eyesore.
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