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TUFTS OBSERVER TUFTS’ STUDENT MAGAZINE

OCTOBER 27, 2008

Open Spaces Invite Strangers to Campus ALSO

Al Jazeera: A Mainstream Media Alternative | Locally Brewed Beer


Featured Articles

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FEATURE | The faces we fail to see: Tufts’ other community

NEWS

Tufts’ own lipstick jungle: alumna stirs controversy

ARTS

The theatrics of an empire in decline

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OPINION

An unlikely patriot

EXCURSIONS

Beer tasting at the Cambridge Brewing Co.

The Observer has been Tufts’ weekly publication of record since 1895. Our dedication to in-depth reporting, journalistic innovation, and honest dialogue has remained intact for over a century. Today, we offer insightful news analysis, cogent and diverse opinion pieces, and lively reviews of current arts, entertainment, and sports. Through poignant writing and artistic elegance, we aim to entertain, inform, and above all challenge the Tufts community to effect positive change.

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Contents

Editors tors and Leadership

October 27, 2008 Volume CXVII, Issue 5 The Observer, Since 1895 www.TuftsObserver.org

EDITOR R-IN-CHIEF

Patrickk Roath

MANAGING GING EDITORS

Daniell Rosen Mike Snyder

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NEWS EDITORS DITORS

Brendan an Johannsen Marysaa Lin

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OPINION EDITOR

William Ramsdell

Feature

Public Space and Public Safety: The Tufts Dilemma, by Patrick Roath and Dan Rosen Lab Reports: Antibiotics and Drinking, by Dana Piombino

News

Lipstick Jungle? Alumni’s Wall Street Journal Article Ignites Controversy,

by Rachel Zar

8 A Change of Green: Candidate Debate Environmental Policy, by Jake Stern 10 No Condoms for You: USAID Cuts off Supplies, by Juliana Slocum 11 In Case You Missed It: International Headlines Everyone Should Know,

ARTS EDITOR

Michael Tucker

by Anna Majeski EXCURSIONS EDITOR

Opinion

Eliza Walters CAMPUS EDITOR AND ART DIRECTOR

Ryan Stolp

14 Al Jazeera English: An Alternative to Mainstream Media, by Mike Snyder 22 Aesthetic and Culture: Flower Arrangement, by Catherine Nakajima 23 Why the Danish are So Damn Happy, by Sophia Pack

POETRY AND PROSE EDITOR

Lauren Mazel PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS

Santiago Gasca Campbell Kliefoth

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The Decline of an Empire: Good Performance Art, by Brian McLoone Chesterton’s Forgotten Adventure, by Matthew Diamante Where’d the Humor Go?, by Thomas Sutherland Going Green: An Alternative Culture Column, by “Reggie Hubbard”

Excursions

17 Peak Weekend: A Photo Essay, by members of the Tufts Mountain Club 29 Apple Picking: An Autumn Escape, by Emily Roitman 30 Beer Me, Boston: A Trip to a Cambridge Brewery,

WEBMASTER

Matthew Koulouris

by Jonathan Dinerstein and Patrick Roath

COPY EDITOR

Jonathan Dinerstein

Poetry and Prose

32 The American Disease, by Michael Goetzman

LAYOUT DIRECTOR

Joshua Aschheim

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BUSINESS MANAGERS

Nathaniel Jonnes Marcelo Norsworthy

COVER PHOTO BY

Arts

Extras

Letters to the Editor Editorial: How to Spend the $714,291 Recovered by the TCU The Adventures of Petey & Chuck: A Comic Strip, by Ryan Stolp Ticker Tape, by Anna Majeski Campus, by Ryan Stolp

RYAN STOLP

Contributors

Staff Karen Andres Erika Brown Crystal Bui Hannah Freeman Lauren Herstik Lauren Lee Ian MacLellan

Anna Majeski Sophia Pack Emily Roitman Michael Schecht Sam Sherman Alexandra Siegel Thomas Sutherland

Molly Clark Erica Fine Josh Friedmann David Gainsboro Michael Goetzman Catherine Nakajima Ben Fichera

Dana Piombino Natalie Selzer Sean Smith Rachel Zar

Since

1895


FEATURE

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PUBLIC SAFETY PUBLIC SPACES COMMUNITY RELATIONS

The

Tufts

S

Dilemma BY

PATRICK ROATH AND DANIEL ROSEN

omerville is the most densely populated city in New England. This simple fact about one of Tufts’ two host communities often eludes students. Within the porous boundaries of Tufts’ main campus, students are privileged to the open academic quads and expansive sports fields that the university offers. City residents, many of whom live in multi-family houses far away from public parks, often don’t have access to public space outside of urbanized centers such as Davis Square. In a city as crowded as Somerville, space is not only a luxury—it’s a commodity. 2

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October 27, 2008

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n many ways, Tufts has an overwhelming monopoly on the open space in the immediate community. This fact, combined with the lack of a distinct physical boundary between Tufts and the surrounding community, makes the university an important de facto public space and creates a wide range of difficulties for the university to grapple with. To what degree should Tufts be open to non-student members of the community? How should public safety protect students from ill-willed visitors without discriminating against neighbors? How can Tufts build bridges with the members of the community while preserving the insularity and security of a college campus? Riding on Tufts Several weeks ago, one of our correspondents watched a TUPD officer drive up to the patio in front of Eaton Hall to stop a group of young skateboarders. In a conversation following their run-in with the police, the local children were glad to talk about their experience. “He said, ‘You gotta get out of here, you’re at Tufts,’” said Jules Cleophat, age 10, about his interaction with the police officer. Jules and his friends meet every day after school at his house in Med-

ford and then make the short walk to the Tufts campus, skateboards in tow. Jules emphasized that they come every day. “It’s the best place to skate. We don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Alex Simpson, also 10. Tufts University police officers stop them almost every day. Several weeks ago, they were warned so strongly and threatened with arrest that they stopped coming for a period of time. Asked if they ever interacted with students and what they thought of the Tufts population, Jules and Alex were enthusiastic, referring to a nearby student they had been chatting with as their “new friend.” Jules and his friends seemed unrepentant but also harmless: for them, the campus is a big skate park filled with interesting half-grownups. Sergeant Joe Tilton, a Tufts University Police officer of five years, thinks the skateboarders are harmless, yet a problem. “I don’t have a problem with them. I like them, I think they’re cool. But it is a liability issue to have them skating around. We wouldn’t normally cite them for trespassing but we do ask them to move along. They know better.” Throughout the day, Tufts police officers conduct constant patrols throughout campus. University police are specifically

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trained to recognize and approach suspicious persons throughout campus. “If a person is suspicious we do a field interview” explains Sgt. Tilton. “We ask for their name, what they’re doing, and see if what they are doing on campus is related to Tufts. If they are in a building, even if it is a public one, we get their name and put it in the system

so we know if we have had contact with them.” As a student, reaching out to itinerant visitors at Tufts can be challenging. While preparing this article, an Observer photographer was chased by a man in a motorized wheelchair as he tried to photograph him on campus. An extended interview with a

Somerville resident who frequently plays chess on computers in Tisch Library was cut short by the man’s refusal to allow the publication of his remarks. Reaching out to Tufts’ non-student day-to-day population can be difficult: very real, if invisible barriers exist between the two separate communities. Barriers to entry Due to ongoing security concerns at Cousens gymnasium and the frequency of reported thefts, students now have to swipe their ID cards to gain access to Tufts’ gym complex. This change in policy at Tufts is the most recent response to security concerns that have risen on the agenda of many Tufts students since a string of criminal incidents in the spring of 2007 targeting female undergraduates. Those events, combined with the tragic Virginia Tech massacre, heightened concerns about privacy on campus and led to several developments. Despite downward trends in the crime rates of Medford, Somerville, and the greater Boston area, many Massachusetts schools are beefing up on security. In a report given to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education this summer, a task force decided that Massachusetts colleges are still vulnerable to crime and emergency situations. Sensitive to these concerns, Tufts has made big investments in an emergency response system but entrance to only a few buildings, aside from dorms, is restricted. Like the gym, Tisch Library is semi-public space frequented by a substantial number of city residents. The administration seems open to the possibility of implementing card access to enter the library. “I would take extra measures at the library to limit access; obviously there are problems. I am in support of having extra security measures in place,” said Sergeant Tilton. TUPD officers have recently coordinated with library staff to increase security in the computer area. On February 10, 2008 TUPD detained a man for repeatedly masturbating in public in the library, bringing to a close a series of

“In a report given to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education this summer, a task force decided that Massachusetts colleges are still vulnerable to crime and emergency situations.” 4

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October 27, 2008

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episodes involving sexual harassment and public lewdness that caused many students to question the library’s safety. Not all visitors to campus come with such malicious intentions. The difference between those on campus for benign reasons and those simply looking for a break in their daily lives is vast. While circling the library looking for campus visitors, a reporter encountered two community residents using the computers. One resident, a Greek immigrant who has been coming to Tufts to play chess for three years, sat quietly at a computer, stepping aside when a student needed a workstation and the others were full. Yet another resident sat not too far away, leaving a message on an online forum where visitors judge lewd pictures of

women. It seems obvious that, for visitors like the chess player, the library should be kept open and accessible for all. But how do you justify using Tufts money to support the sexual habits of strange men? Sgt. Tilton lacked an answer. “How many people in the community go and actually do such a thing where they actually have a place to go and use the computer as a free space where they can be for a short time. How does that weigh against people who go and use the library for other reasons? But Tufts’ ample space and (mostly) cozy relationship with its neighbors has also led to some positive, innovative efforts to open the campus up to the community. The Tufts Community Garden, a fenced-off unruly plot behind the Latin Way dormi-

“A very real, if invisible, barrier exists between the two separate communities.”

tory, is an oft-overlooked testament to how constructive this relationship has been. According to “legend,” the garden began as a World War II victory garden and at some point in its long history was re-imagined as a shared project between members of the Tufts, Medford, and Somerville communities. Tufts students and members of the community can request part of the garden to raise their own vegetables. There’s currently a waitlist, but Peter Heller, a Somerville resident and the co-coordinator of the Tufts community garden, is hoping to get more Tufts students into the mix. “Of our 26 plots only five are affiliated with Tufts, some graduate students and staff. It’s a wonderful mix of people: old Italian guys with their tomatoes, recent Asian immigrants, young people. It’s a place for town and gown to meet and connect,” he said. The long experiment in sharing Tufts’ physical space has largely been a success, though not without its difficulties. The gardeners and the administration have always gotten along amiably, but the relationship with Tufts students has “a little more garlic.” Students have hopped the short fence surrounding the garden, making off with a pumpkin or simply looking for a place for privacy. “A little Buddha statue I put up on my plot was stolen—talk about bad karma!” recalls Heller. In a sense, the community garden can be considered a microcosm of the larger community. Here, the relationship of Tufts and its neighbors is put to the test. If relations with a community of thousands are going to improve, this garden will be the first evidence of the breakthrough. The colorful Honk! Festival and street parade that stormed down Massachusetts Avenue last weekend included “reclaiming public space” as a prominent part of its manifesto. Its timing could not be better. Tufts’ outreach efforts in the community have warmed town-gown relations to the point that many members of the community feel quite comfortable using campus facilities. In almost every way, students and community members benefit from being able to share Tufts’ generous space in a cramped community. Yet opening the campus hope is not without costs. The removal of a fence that separated the downhill campus from Boston Ave. in 2006 also had the effect of opening Tufts’ borders. Would the administration still make the same choice today? O Photos by Campbell Kliefoth October 27, 2008

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LAB REPORTS:

Antibiotics Dispatches from our science correspondent’s notebook

BY

DANA PIOMBINO

T

oday I wish to dispel a seemingly universally accepted myth thoroughly entrenched in the minds of intellectuals and simpletons alike regarding drinking alcohol and taking courses of antibiotics. Taking into account the fact that many of your parents are lawyers—and probably successful ones at that—I feel somewhat inclined to mention upfront that I am by no means a doctor (and not even a pre-med student as I refuse to become a beneficiary of the ethically bankrupt field of medicine in America. Take Community Health 1 and 2 if that statement makes you want to write a letter to the editor concerning what a fool I am for questioning the glory of health care in America). Thus my statements concerning this matter should not be taken as medical advice. Before we delve into the details of drinking while taking antibiotics we need first to cover the basics of detoxification and the liver. Detoxification, not surprisingly, is the process by which our bodies break down and remove toxins from our bodies. The liver is a large organ in the right side of our upper abdomens that plays a pivotal roll (among other vital functions) in the removal of toxins (such as alcohol and antibiotics) from our blood streams. Simply speaking, it achieves this by exposing said toxins to enzymes that, through a variety of mechanisms, render the offending molecules inert. Many single types of detoxification enzymes have the ability to nullify the toxicity of a range of drugs. Depending on varying concentrations of toxins in our bloodstream our livers may produce more or less of these enzymes. Therein when we drink we cause our livers to bump up the amount of detoxification enzymes it keeps ‘on tap’. A consequence of this increased expression of enzymes is

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the fact that some of these enzymes that are meant to target ethanol can also tamper with the activity of antibiotics in your bloodstream. This collateral detoxification can greatly hamper the efficacy of the antibiotics you are taking to make you better. While this is not technically dangerous, this will under no circumstances expedite your journey to good health. The answer to the question of if one can safely partake in a few drinks while taking antibiotics is not a simple yes or no. Yet contrary to popular belief, there are only a small range of antibiotics that actually have

documented negative interactions with alcohol, and accordingly should never be boozed upon. These antibiotics include: Metronidazole which is most commonly marketed as Flagyl, Tinidazole which is chemically similar to Metronidazole and marketed as Fasigyn, Furazolidone which often is called Furoxone, Griseofulvin which is branded as Grifulvin V and Quinacrine which is most commonly referred to as Atabrine. Due to oddities revolving around how it is large pharmaceutical companies name and market drugs a single drug can have multiple names depending on which company is producing it. The underlined drug names are the universal names of the antibiotics that should warrant you avoiding alcohol. The manifestations of the contradictions formed between alcohol and the aforementioned antibiotics range

from mild to severe but are universally unpleasant. Therein less you enjoy seriously harming yourself you should abstain from drinking on these antibiotics for the complete duration of the course and at least a few days following the final dose for good measure. With those unequivocally no-no antibiotics covered we can now move onto all the others and considerations involving drinking on them. First and foremost it would prudent to mention that drinking is stressful to your body in many ways. This is a feature that consuming alcohol shares with being sick. This is because alcohol, for all intensive purposes is nothing more than a poison that can be somewhat safely consumed for it’s enjoyable affects on our peripheral and central nervous system. It doesn’t take four years of being a pre-med student, four years of med school, and two to five years of residency programs to reason out that two sources of stress on your body is worse than only one. Even if you’re not taking any antibiotics, drinking excessively while sick is almost invariably an awful idea. That said, depending on the magnitude of your sickness, sometimes drinking temperately (real person moderation, not college moderation) can be at times an idea you can reasonably entertain. Indeed, while I don’t believe there is anything even vaguely resembling a dearth of drinking on this campus and this student body needs another reason to drink like it needs a hole in the head, it is misleading of doctors to constantly instill a fear of drinking in their patients on antibiotics. Most of the time if you’re on antibiotics having a beer (maybe two) on a Friday night will not result in you keeling over dead. That said, while the theme of college is effectively making bad decisions, try to make the right choices about drinking when you’re sick and you will live to binge drink for many decades to come. O


NEWS

Lipstick Jungle

An Alum’s Comments in WSJ Elicit a Strong Reaction from Tufts’ Community BY

O

RACHEL ZAR

n September 26th, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Tufts alumna Ashley Samelson that disturbed and upset many within the university community. In the article, Samelson, a member of the class of 2008, described the lack of respect that Tufts women have for one another and the degrading, “toxic” environment for women she feels the university fosters. In her piece “Lipstick Jungle,” Samelson discusses sorority hazing, binge drinking and sex-themed parties that, according to her, dominate the Tufts social environment. She explains that, compared to her younger sister’s school, Hillsdale College in Michigan, Tufts is an overwhelmingly “hostile environment” and her years here were marked by many “instance[s] of female misery” that were primarily caused by other women. It seems that Samelson was less than pleased with her experience at Tufts, and would have much preferred the more conservative, religious environment she describes at Hillsdale, which the Princeton Review ranked as one of the most conservative schools in the country. She explains in an email, however, that negatively presenting her years at Tufts was not the intention of her article. “If people think I went through Tufts depressed and friendless… they are quite wrong,” she writes. She even mentions some wonderful female friends that she made at Tufts, including her current roommate. While speaking her mind may be an enjoyable activity for Samelson, others, especially Tufts students and alumni sharply disagree with her point of view, and resent the negative mark she has put on the University’s reputation. To Tufts sophomore, Lindsay Helfman, Samelson was making a serious and false accusation, and responded accordingly. Helfman not only wrote a response to the Wall Street Journal, but also forwarded the response to MSNBC, hoping to appeal to Tufts alumna and host of the Today Show,

Meredith Vieira. “The Wall Street Journal is a widely read publication,” Helfman explains, “I don’t want [prospective Tufts students] to get a skewed version of Tufts. I don’t think it’s fair.” Her response focuses mostly on her positive interactions with Tufts students, including members of her sorority. Samelson directly targets Tufts Greek Life in her article, citing an incident of hazing. Helfman writes, “I do not condone the humiliating sorority activity, the binge drinking, or the degrading feminist behavior in the least. But what frustrates me is the contents of Ms. Samelson’s article declaring those three things to be overwhelmingly apparent here at Tufts—because I have yet to see them.” She has not yet heard back from the Wall Street Journal or MSNBC. Reactions online, mostly from fellow Tufts alumni, prove to agree overwhelmingly with Helfman. Kathrine Schmidt, a member of Samelson’s class, writes, “I’m sad she didn’t get to know the whip-smart, amazingly talented and incredibly supportive women I graduated with.” Although the public response to this article was overwhelmingly negative, Samelson explains that she has gotten a plethora of positive and reinforcing reactions to what she had to say. “I received scores of emails and phone calls, some from Tufts graduates, 98% of them favorable and expressing agreement with what I said in the WSJ.” This article nevertheless raises the question, however, as to whether or not Tufts is the environment that Samelson claims it is. According to Julie Jampel, a psychologist at Tufts Counseling and Mental Health Services, there are aspects to college life that can have negative effects on female students. “In general, the college years can certainly be troubling for some students, as there is an abundance of food, access to alcohol, and unsupervised parties,” she explains. “Certain party atmospheres may leave students vulnerable to excessive drinking and acquaintance rape.” She expects, however, that these issues

are no more apparent at Tufts than at other urban universities. While Jampel acknowledges that there are students at Tufts that are unhappy, she feels that the generalizations made by Samelson were unfair. “Not all college women—‘feminist’ or not—encourage the behaviors Ms. Samelson describes,” she explains. Samelson writes that her intentions in her article were not to generalize. “I am not in a position to comment on ‘every girl at Tufts.’ My comments were about the overall environment and the large amount of suffering I and others observed.” She cites a fundamental difference between the environment of Tufts and that of Hillsdale; “You see, at a school like Hillsdale, the administration as well as the students stand up and say ‘No, we will not stand for people puking in trash cans and having drunk, meaningless sex,” she says, “At Tufts, you see women’s groups sponsoring sex-toy parties and the University setting out doughnuts and cider during Naked Quad Run.” She also writes in her article about the difference in decorating between dorms at Hillsdale and at Tufts. She criticizes the fact that at Tufts, posters in hallways “offered information about eating disorders, what to do if you think you have been sexually assaulted, and suicide and depression hotlines.” According to Jampel, however, the bigger problem would be to not see this information at all. “Naming something does not make it happen,” she says, “but it enable people to talk about it when it does happen.” Kim Thurler, Director of Public Relations for Tufts University, also did not agree with the sentiments expressed in Samelson’s article, but was pleased to see the positive reactions written by Tufts alumnae. Indeed, it seems as though Ms. Thurler most effectively sums up the situation in her assertion, “While I disagree with her, Ms. Samelson did do something that Tufts encourages and prepares its students to do: freely and articulately voice their opinions.” O October 27, 7 2008

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A Change of Green As the nation enters the the final run-up to the election, the Observer takes a closer look at the environmental policies of both candidates, and their potential repercussions for the next generation... BY JAKE

STERN

T

hus far in the runup to the November 4th election, one issue far from the collective minds of the public and the media has been the environment. This largely untouched topic has been ignored in favor of more recent, controversial questions, but nevertheless, in terms of the environment, where do we go from here? On Election Day, the American people get to make that decision, one that will arguably influence Americans two, or even three, generations from now more than it will influence us. The United States has reached a critical juncture in terms of our infrastructure and the way that we live our lives. We, as a nation, can either make more sustainable decisions or we can continue to live as we have in the past, and both John McCain and Barack Obama have goals to help the US become more sustainable. Both candidates plan to institute a cap-and-trade system, under which credits, which entitle the bearer to emit a certain amount of pollutants, are auctioned off. The finite quantity of these credits creates a high price for them and ultimately increases the price of emitting pollution into the atmosphere. Senator Obama has proposed a cap-and-trade system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.

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Senator McCain wants to implement a very similar system except that he hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 60% of 1990 levels by 2050. In this way, both candidates are trying to bring about change. Both seek to distance themselves from the unfortunate environmental stance of the Bush administration; neither candidate denies the existence of global warming. There is no doubt that this is a step in the right direction for our country. In fact, both candidates have goals aimed at combating climate change and simultaneously increasing the nation’s energy independence. Clean energy, energy from sources which emit no pollutants, is just one of the ways in which the US can decrease its dependence on fossil fuels. The United States arguably has some fantastic, yet undeveloped, locations for wind farms and solar panels. These power sources represent a part of Barack Obama’s New Energy for America (NEFA) plan, which seeks to see the United States get 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2012. Obama also plans to invest $150 billion over the next ten years in renewable energy sources. There are, however, some problems with NEFA. The language that Obama uses to describe NEFA places clean energy sources such as wind and solar under the

larger umbrella of renewable energy, which includes less clean biofuels. As such, it is unclear how much investment would actually be placed into clean energy and how much would go to biofuels such as corn-ethanol subsidies. Furthermore, Professor Kent Portney of the Political Science Department at Tufts doubts “whether we can produce as much [energy] as Obama says from renewables.” Senator McCain, while in support of alternative e n ergy

Both candidates are planning incorpoate the Clean Energy Movement into national policy.

sources, has yet to offer a numerical goal similar to Senator Obama’s NEFA plan. McCain plans to use tax incentives to encourage the research and development of clean energy. He also plans to give tax credits to companies producing wind and solar power in order to make such technologies more commercially feasible. These credits would be, according to McCain, only a temporary solution until the market adjusts to make clean energy more competitive. Both candidates are planning to incorporate the Clean Energy movement into national policy. Obama’s plan is a longer-term solution intended to pump money into the economy and create up to 5 million “green collar jobs.” McCain’s solution, on the other hand, is geared towards a short burst of economic aid for clean energy. This aid could help to create an industry jobs and energy. However, McCain could arguably bolster his plan by specifying the amount of money he would commit to such a program and a date by which his goals would be accomplished. Senator Obama, on the other hand, is likely overambitious in trying to get 10% of our nation’s energy from renewables by 2012.

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McCain, unlike Obama, is exceptionally committed to developing nuclear power on U.S. soil. John McCain hopes to build 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030, which is not completely infeasible although nuclear power does have some serious issues. There are some safety concerns; since the Three Mile Island accident of 1979, the US has been reluctant to put money into developing nuclear power generating capacity. In fact, largely due to safety issues, the U.S. has not built a new nuclear plant in almost 30 years. Meanwhile, many other nations, including China, India, and Russia have been increasing their nuclear capacities. McCain clearly hopes to follow in their footsteps. Nuclear power can help decrease US dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels in general but the nuclear power industry often needs support from the government in order to remain financially viable, which is one of the reasons that Senator Obama is much less enthusiastic about nuclear power. While Obama does cite nuclear power as a potential way to diversify the sources from which Americans get energy, he also cites safety and waste storage as two potential issues with nuclear power. Indeed, waste disposal and the safety of nuclear power have been issues in the past. But McCain clearly believes that the US can work through these issues and become more reliant on nuclear power. Obama on the other hand, wants the US to invest more in biofuels. He proposes subsidies and tax credits to make biofuels more competitive and thus develop a stronger biofuels industry. The senator from Illinois wants to see 60 billion gallons of “advanced biofuels” produced in the U.S. by 2030. This goal is not outlandish and is likely something that the US could work towards. However, John McCain maintains that the US should not be subsidizing corn ethanol production. McCain along with many others including Professor Portney believe that “it is conceivable that [ethanol production] could contribute to energy independence.” McCain, in spite of this, remains unwilling to pour US tax dollars into biofuels. Indeed, many other politicians have remained skeptical of biofuels production. The major criticism of corn ethanol is that production yields a very small energy “profit” margin, meaning that the ethanol produced is only

slightly greater than the energy input needed to grow and distill the corn into ethanol. Another major criticism of corn ethanol is that when corn leaves the food market, supply goes up while demand remains the same, resulting in higher food prices. Considering the small net energy gains and the rise in food prices, Senators Obama and McCain need to decide if ethanol is worth the associated costs. A n other fuel source that could potentially lessen US dependence on foreign oil is clean coal. Coal, while abundant in the United States, has always been the dirtiest fossil fuel to burn. But now, with several different processes that can remove the impurities from coal, allowing it to burn cleaner, each of the candidates has jumped on the clean coal bandwagon. Senator McCain, a proponent of clean coal technology, has promised $2 billion to help develop clean coal technologies. Senator Obama, on the other hand, has come out with a more conditional support for this revamped fuel source; he will support clean coal only if it produces 20% less carbon during production and consumption that conventional fossil fuels produce. In theory, both candidates have come out in support of clean coal technology, but McCain has a more definitive promise to the coal industry while Obama remains skeptical. Considering the large costs associated with producing clean coal energy, perhaps Obama’s concerns are not unfounded. Not only is it an expensive process, but the net energy gained from the process may not be nearly enough to make burning coal worthwhile. In fact, when asked about clean coal, Professor Portney merely said “I don’t think it’s a solution” to our energy problems. The most feasible short term solution to our energy problems

“ ” Nuclear power can help decrease US dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels in.

may be increasing the efficiency of our automobiles. Indeed, according the Energy Information Administration, transportation accounted for almost 30% of the US’s energy consumption in 2004. Each candidate has a plan to reduce the amount of fuel consumed by automobiles. McCain plans to more effectively manage our current system of efficiency standards to achieve lower emissions. McCain has said in the past that he would like to raise efficiency standards but has offered no specific numbers. In contrast, Obama wants to raise the fuel economy standard by 4% (roughly one mile per gallon) each year. He also wants to work with and invest in US automakers so that they can produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. In short, according to Professor Portney, Obama will be very effective at “leveraging Detroit to increase auto-efficiency.” McCain may be just as effective in working with Detroit but, as he has yet to specify a goal, it is hard to tell if he might meet it. McCain and Obama both almost certainly represent a positive step for the United States, which consumes more energy per capita than any nation on earth. As a nation, the US must reduce use of fossil fuels. The country must look for new forms of energy. But perhaps the most welcome difference between the 2008 election year candidates and those of the past is a willingness to confront the problems. Both McCain and Obama seem willing to make changes to our nation’s infrastructure in order to make our country more sustainable, more energy efficient, and more energy independent. O

October 27, 2008

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“No Condoms for You”

USAID Cuts Off Supplies to British NGO

I

BY JULIANA SLOCUM

n recent years, the Bush administration has cut off aid for many NGOs providing contraceptives or condoms to at-risk populations. The most recent example occurred this past month when the Bush administration stopped providing contraceptives to Marie Stopes International (MSI), a British aid group that operates clinics in many of the world’s poorest countries. According to the Associated Press, the Bush administration took the action because of the work that Marie Stopes does with the UN Population Fund in China. The administration accused MSI of promoting coerced abortion and sterilization through its programs in China but the organization denies these points, asserting on their website that they support “voluntary, clientcentered family planning services.” Pat Daoust, the director of Health Action AIDS Campaign for Physicians for Human Rights, described Marie Stopes’ significance in an email interview with The Observer. MSI is a major distributor of condoms and other family planning services in some of Africa’s poorest countries, including Ghana, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, but Daoust says that the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US government aid organization, has cut off contraceptive supplies that MSI was distributing “due to the fact that MSI operates programs in China…a government that supports coercive abortions.” However, MSI accuses the administration’s decision as based on domestic political concerns. According to Daoust, “since the Bush administration, we have witnessed significant changes [in funding] that have directly impacted/limited access to family planning services.” Bush supports the Mexico City Policy, also known as the “global gag rule,” which prohibits the U.S. from funding groups that promote or perform abortions abroad. The administration launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003 and authorized $48 billion to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis worldwide. The State Department estimates that PEPFAR has now provided vital anti-retroviral drugs to nearly 1.73 million victims. However, the fact remains that the money authorized through PEPFAR could be used in more efficient ways to save even 10

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October 27, 2008

more lives, but those alternatives have not been explored. In fact, when Congress voted in 2007 to nullify the Mexico City Policy, Bush vetoed it, assuring that aid policy in the near future will continue to focus on abstinence as a form of family planning. The Bush administration claims that providing family planning services promotes extramarital sex and legitimizes abortion. It has worked to curtail family planning services, perhaps in an effort to please far-right legislators. Daoust claims that providing family planning services does not promote abortion but rather reduces the number of abortions. She adds that family planning services im-

RYAN STOLP

proves the consequences under which women have children, making it safer and decreasing unwanted, unplanned pregnancies. Lydia Mitts, co-director of VOX, a pro-choice student group on campus that advocates for reproductive rights, agrees with Daoust and says that “in reality, limiting contraception will only lead to more unplanned pregnancies and in the end more abortions.” Mitts believes that it is unreasonable to expect that all women will abstain from sex before marriage. Rather than punishing them for their decision, she thinks that “we need to provide people with the knowledge and resources” to make their own decisions safely. Daoust and Mitts agree that USAID’s policies aimed at discouraging contraceptives or family planning services bind aid organizations and make it difficult to provide atrisk patients with effective health care. Mitts says that it “places aid groups in between a rock and a hard place, having to choose be-

tween providing a crucial health service to women…and receiving funds for contraception.” Alternatively, Anna Kim, co-president of Jumbos for Life, a student group espousing strictly pro-life stances, is supportive of American policies to restrict funding from organizations that promote abortion in any way. Jumbos for Life opposes any organization that may use taxpayer money for the “funding of abortion,” which she describes as the unjust taking of human life. Jumbos for Life does not have a stance towards preconception issues such as contraception. Despite opposition including a Congressional appeal of the Mexico City Policy that Bush vetoed, it is unlikely that these policies will change under the current administration. There are no signs that the Bush administration will alter its policy toward family planning services or integrated HIV/AIDS care. However, with the November 4th presidential election fast approaching, the end of the Bush administration is near. The emergence of a new administration brings the hope of change in USAID’s policies. The two presidential candidates differ in their views of USAID’s policy toward HIV/AIDS care. John McCain has an unclear stance on USAID and funds for contraceptives, though he does support the Mexico City Policy. When asked, McCain has deferred to Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a staunch support of abstinence-only programs. McCain also supports overturning the Roe v. Wade decision (1973) and making abortion illegal in the United States. In contrast, Barack Obama supports some family planning services. Daoust claims that Obama “has advocated for programming that supports women avoiding unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.” In April 2005, Senator Obama voted in favor of an amendment to overturn the Mexico City Policy. He has also called for a doubling of US foreign aid by 2012 and curbing corruption in aid. Only time will tell whether the U.S. continues its existing aid policies under the next administration. From groups providing food aid to HIV/AIDS treatment, U.S. policies will dramatically affect NGOs’ abilities to continue their work around the world. To fund or not to fund? USAID will continue to ask this question. O

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT… BY

ANNA MAJESKI

Around-the-World

News Tidbits You Should Know

UK Proposes ‘Big Brother’ Database On October 15, English officials proposed creating a database to store all the phone calls and emails made in the country. Although the database would not record the conversations themselves, it would still provide the government with a record of every communication via email or phone within Britain. Police and security service groups who support the idea have said the database is necessary because of difficulties the government has been having with other methods of storing information. Increasingly complicated methods of saving information have led to a failure to store requested data and issues with accessing the data even after it has been saved. Skeptics question how safe so much information would be in the hands of the government, and politicians and civil liberty groups alike have vehemently opposed the idea. Questions have also been raised regarding the ability of the government to maintain the confidentiality of the information, particularly in the wake of two separate incidences in which information about millions of British citizens was stolen from the present system. Even politicians not entirely opposed to the system caution that the ground rules will have to be strictly laid out in order to ensure the preservation of individual civil liberties. O

Power Str ug gle in Zim babwe

Ups and Downs for Gay Marriage

Negotiations on the power-sharing agreement between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai ended without success this past week. The talks were meant to work out the final terms of the agreement, which would keep Mugabe in his position while granting Tsvangirai the position of prime minister. The power-sharing agreement was initially conceived as a solution to the turbulent aftermath of the March elections, when Tsvangirai— who represents the Movement for Democratic Change party—obtained enough votes to defeat Mugabe—leader of the old ruling party ZANU-PF—in the initial election, but failed to do so in the runoff. Following his defeat, Tsvangirai accused Mugabe, who at age 84 has ruled the country since its independence in 1980, of using extensive intimidation techniques to influence the election’s outcome, refusing to accept the outcome of the election. After weeks of political standstill plagued by violence, the two leaders signed the power-share agreement on September 15, but still have yet to agree on the actual distribution of powers. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who negotiated the initial terms of the September 15th powersharing agreement, has been brought back into the talks in an attempt to reach a solution that would end the turmoil that has persisted since the elections. O

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage on October 10. The narrow four-to-three decision marks the first time that a court expressed the opinion that civil unions are an insufficient alternative to marriage and do not adequately protect the rights of same-sex couples. Following the announcement, Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote in the majority opinion that having separate institutions for same-sex and heterosexual couples encouraged discrimination and different sets of standards. Justice Peter T. Zarella was among the judges who disputed the final decision, citing his belief that the purpose of marriage laws was to ‘regulate procreative conduct,’ and that same-sex marriages had no credibility based on this interpretation. California, which approved gay marriage earlier this year, has placed a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for the upcoming November election banning gay marriage known as Proposition 8. Such a motion is unlikely in Connecticut. Governor M. Jodi Rell (R) said it was highly improbable that the predominantly Democratic General Assembly will muster the three-quarters necessary to place a comparable constitutional amendment on the ballot. The ruling will take effect on October 28th. O

Battleground States Showered by Controversial DVDs Millions of DVDs entitled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”, were distributed in numerous election battleground states on October 12. The DVD, sponsored by the Clarion Fund and produced by Israeli filmmaker Raphael Shore, contains disturbing imagery, as well as a number of fabricated statements portraying the Islamic nation in an extreme, and heavily biased manner. Locals placed angry phone calls to local newspapers following the distribution of the DVD, not least because many recipients of the DVD were unsure as to whether it was part of an ad campaign or was the result of a specific editorial decision. Although the Clarion Fund denies that they had any political agenda in mind when distributing the DVD, political observers point to the fact that this type of anti-Islamic propaganda may dissuade certain voters from voting for Senator Barack Obama as false rumors often have suggested that Obama is a Muslim. After the release of the DVD, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an activist group, filed complaints with both the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Elections Commission, arguing that in distributing such politically charged DVDs, Clarion has violated its status as a tax-exempt organization. Clarion has responded only by calling such claims “unfounded.” O

October 27, 2008

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Web Comments

A selection of comments from our website, www.tuftsobserver.org. Agree with us? Disagree? Let us know!

Re: “How Six Influence 300 Million,” Editorial, October 13 2008 Interesting article, good points about opinion being written as news. The article, itself is a good example of the type of bias written about. Funny that only News Corporations’ conservative leanings were mentioned. Yet all other stations have a left leaning. An editorial is opinion so I guess that is OK but I would have liked to have seen shows like Keith Obermans, or stations like msnbc or papers such as the Boston Globe mentioned as owned by corporations with a social progressive or left control of information. I’m one of the six million and watching!

Re: “Campus up in Smoke,” Arts, October 13 2008 This article is rubbish. Its trying way too hard and is deplorable in its infantile attempts to “categorize” smokers. This person is probably a freshman who just started two months ago and feels the need to disseminate his (its probably a guy) “wisdom”. By the way, if you keep your eyes open while you sneeze, they WILL pop out.

Posted by: Tina Clauer at October 17, 2008 7:47 AM It was a sad day when Ruppert Murdock was allowed to stick his nose into the tent. True the article picks most on News Corp, however just watch Fox news, it is rife with bias. I watch all an no other seems to be as blatent. The U.S. public is terribly uninformed on what our economic, political and diplomacy polacies are. Maybe that is why we are in such an economic mess, have lost the leadership confidence of the world and can’t respond to Russia’s moves. How many know that Iceland is collapsing and Russia is supporting them with “no strings attached.” Is a Russion fueling station in Iceland a possibility?

Posted by: Donym at October 15, 2008 5:45 AM These categories, while funny, are somewhat weak and dissolute. Like all attempts at categorization, something is lost in the process. What’s lost here is that dope smokers inhabit many different roles. At any rate, the “who are you kidding” smoker is spot on!

Posted by: Al Hock at October 17, 2008 11:35 AM Posted by: WorkingClassHero at October 16, 2008 9:57 AM Re: “Inaction,” Poetry and Prose, October 13 2008 Re: “Somali Pirates Test International Waters,” News, October 13 2008 Great article. The Foreign Affairs article cited is from 2004, which would make it dated for an article about a current situation. Is there any more recent assessment on al-Qaeda’s maritime operations? It seems highly likely that al-Qaeda’s MO would be evolving this way, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence suggesting this. And most of the claims of al-Qaeda in Somalia and al-Qaeda planning attacks at sea are made by the US government. It is clearly in the USG’s interest to suggest such connection. Posted by: Luke at October 19, 2008 2:48 PM

This poem is ABSOLUTELY amazing. Posted by: Anonymous at October 9, 2008 2:13 AM Re: “Cage Revisited,” Arts, September 29 2008 nicolas cage is great actor people before critics respect and love him Posted by: nancy yaseen at September 30, 2008 3:15 PM Re: “Nicolas Cage: Love Him or Hate Him,” Arts, September 15, 3008 Nicolas Cage produced Bangkok Dangerous, which means he hired the director and was, like many box office generating movie stars, the boss on the set...I’m going to stop it there on the suspicion that you actually are Nicolas Cage writing in his own defense. I wouldn’t want to risk getting into an argument with someone so “amazingly great”. Posted by: Tom at September 15, 2008 12:40 AM

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E

arlier this year, the news broke that $714,291 in funding was returned to the TCU Senate after it was embezzled by two Tufts administrators. Since then, the Senate has been looking for ways to spend the windfall in a way that benefits the entire Tufts community, and an aggressive campaign is being carried out in order to solicit ideas as to possible ways to distribute the funds. With the transfer of money finalized, the Observer has tallied a number of recommendations for how to turn this lump sum into innovative and productive projects that add value to student life and make Tufts an even better university. Wired campus. When the class of 2009 visited Tufts for the first time, they were lured by the prospect that wireless internet would eventually be installed throughout the campus. Four years later, little progress has been made to install wi-fi in the dorms, despite the fact that many of Tufts’ competitors can boast a fully wired campus. Certainly the most important hot spots on campus are outfitted—the Academic Quad, the Library, and the Campus Center—but dorm life takes a hit (especially during the winter) when the common rooms are internet-free zones. Bike sharing program. This environmentallyfriendly strategy to reduce reliance on automobiles has been so successful in European cities that the University of Washington is experimenting with its own bike sharing program. Basically, students use their electronic ID cards to unlock bicycles located in stations throughout the campus. Such a program is aligned with Tufts’ environmental goals and would expand this fun method of transportation to more students around campus.

EDITORIAL

Recover

This!

ter open a few extra hours. Even when the sun comes up, it’s hard to stay awake when you’re locked in your room and you’ve spent the last eight hours working on a midterm.

Coffee improvements. Like the 24-hour study space, there are some things that any respectable four-year university is wont to have. Tufts has some decent coffee establishments with the Rez and Brown n’ Brew, but uphill residents can’t get a good cup of joe unless Oxfam is open. Improvements to TUDS’ coffee options and more reliable uphill establishments would help Jumbos get their fix. A coffee mug sharing program, such as that currently in place at Bates College, is another innovative idea akin to bike sharing and would help reduce dependence on plastic and cardboard coffee cups. Student legal services. Just as Health Services is provided as a free service to Tufts students, legal services should also be available on a part time basis to students who find themselves in trouble with the law. Most other universities offer this to their students.

Rejected Ideas From the

Tufts Observer Newsroom • Chopping down that awful huge tree on the President’s Lawn. • Getting a working cannon. • Painting the existing Jumbo gold. • Replacing Jumbo with a live elephant. • TCU-sponsored “Party Bus.” • Turning Tisch into a roller-hockey rink. • Rename all buildings after features of Hogwarts Castle. • New uniforms for our Quidditch team. • Flattening the hill.

Tufts Mountain Club Trips Cabin. In recent years, the Mountain Club and its Loj in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, has become much more popular. The current structure is simply too small to house all of the people who utilize the Loj each weekend. The group’s proposed Trips Cabin would allow many more students to use the Loj and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

• Outdoor space heaters (fans during summer). • Bidets everywhere. • Bring back those cool sweaters everyone wears in old pictures of Tufts.

24-hour study space. For a school as academically rigorous as Tufts, it’s strange that there’s still no public place to study at four in the morning. A few extra dollars from the TCU would go a long way towards keeping the Library Reading Room or the Campus Cen-

The TCU Senate has some very clever ways to gauge student opinion on this issue, let them know what you think. These are just a few of our ideas—we want to know if you agree or disagree online at www.tuftsobserver.org. O

• Rename Bush Hall “Obama Hall.” • Get Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to headline Spring Fling. October 27, 2008

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13


OPINION

The Patriotic News Network BY

MIKE SNYDER

W

ith Election Day just around the corner, it’s hard to turn on the TV without seeing the multitude of “talking heads” on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and their affiliated networks. But if you’re like me, you sit back and watch these awkward characters—even though they’re mostly gray-haired white men wearing the same tie—if only because it’s so silly to see them all disagree, bicker, yell, and basically repeat the same things over and over. Fortunately, there’s a solution to what is essentially the sad decline of journalism in the United States, and it comes from abroad: Al Jazeera English. Founded in 2006, Al Jazeera English is the only international English-language news network headquartered in the Middle East. At first glance, it appears unremarkably similar to other major TV networks, delivering 24-hour news stories, investigative reports, and live breaking news in a timely manner. What makes Al Jazeera English so novel and refreshing is not what it adds to 21st century broadcast journalism but what it takes away. Here are a few things you won’t find on Al Jazeera English: 1) Flashy graphics and sound. Who hasn’t watched Fox News only to count three, four, or ten American flags arti-

ficially waving in the background? And what about that cheesy, god-awful organ that plays during Keith Olberman’s segment “The Worst Person in the World?” Gimmicks like these have become commonplace and serve to add entertainment value for an audience with attention deficit disorder. They also try to cover up for

a dearth of quality reporting and authentic news stories, something Al Jazeera English doesn’t have to worry about. 2) Pop culture and entertainment news. While most news channels indulge in tabloid journalism, Fox News is infamous for its coverage of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Prince William, Miley Cyrus, and the stars of High School Musical. Al Jazeera English doesn’t pretend to be “Enter-

tha see Ti sam the fre fun an Al liti

jus an liti Co Gl ins tainment Tonight” or “Inside Edition.” When it does pop culture, it reports on the hot stars of lesser-known countries and how they’re impacting the youth generation. Or, it might examine the rise of an indigenous dance and its empowering effect on the masses. 3) Big shot journalists. No Bill O’Reilly. No Lou Dobbs. Al Jazeera English does away with commentators who single-handedly get to produce, direct, and star in their own shows—and with it, get a free pulpit to pass off their opinions as if they were the word of God. Since when did primetime journalists become opinionated spokespersons for their own belief systems? Instead of arrogant shows like “Hannity’s America” and “Anderson Cooper 360,” Al Jazeera English favors programs that relate to specific subject matter. For example, “Playlist” explores world music from Algeria to Poland, “101 East” examines the challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region, and “Inside USA” looks at issues in the US that are being ignored by the mainstream media. 4) Corporate ownership. It’s no secret

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October 27, 2008


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that the same corporation that owns Fox News also oversees The Wall Street Journal. But did you know that CNN, Time, Sports Illustrated, and HBO are also owned by the same corporation? This media consolidation determines the agenda of major news networks and prohibits the free-flow of ideas. Although Al Jazeera was at one point funded by the Emir of Qatar, it is now fully independent and is accountable to nobody but its viewers. This allows Al Jazeera English to set its own news agenda with no political stipulations attached. 5) Talking heads. This one needs no explanation. Let’s just say Al Jazeera English replaces the so-called “political analysts” with professors, experienced journalists, and political leaders who duke it out with logic, not loud words. Compared to CNBC’s Jim Kramer or Headline News’ Glenn Beck, the level of discourse is significantly more insightful and, well, civilized. For these reasons, Al Jazeera English is journalism as it should be, and journalism as it used to be. Instead of serving as a podium for charismatic commentators, it gives voice to the voiceless by exposing underreported stories from around the world. Similarly, it doesn’t reinforce the status quo but questions authority at its roots. Forget about the mantra “no news is good news;” the network understands that fear-mongering is a thing for politicians, not journalists. In essence, Al Jazeera English is more populist, more progressive, and more rebellious than the United States itself. Unfortunately, the network’s reputation has been tarnished by its association to its sister station Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language news channel made famous in 2004 when it was denounced by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for “vicious” and “inaccurate” coverage of the Iraq War. That same week, US President George W. Bush reportedly joked with British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera’s offices in Doha, Qatar. Eventually, a series of rumors spread about Al Jazeera, including that the network was associated with anti-Semites and terrorists. While none of these rumors have been confirmed as true, comments like these from the highest government authorities may account for the stigma, skepticism, and hostility surrounding the Al Jazeera name among some Americans. Perhaps this is why Al Jazeera English is unavailable in the US except in Toledo, Ohio and Burlington, Vermont. No other cable providers in the US provide the station through its channel offerings, even though it’s widely available in Europe, Africa, and even Israel. In a country where the major news networks are defined by talking heads and big corporations, it’s more important than ever to listen to outside news sources willing to tackle the status quo. O

College Urban Dictionary BY

SOPHIE PACK

CC

• Books: (n) No time to read for pleasure, so enroll in an English class. • Coffee: (n) 1. The battery of the world. Drink it everyday and jokingly proclaim to fellow coffee-drinkers that you’re addicted to it. Have a chuckle. 2. Your particular brand should be a reflection on you, so order with pride. • Pizza: (n) never eat sober, unless in New Haven. • Stumbleupon.com: (.com) 1. a magnificent website that keeps track of your interests and transmits the world’s secrets into your laptop. See “laptop.” 2. the worst that ever happened to your art history grade. • Death: (!) Pronounced “deathhhhh.” A sentence in and of itself that implies frustration. • Multivitamins: (n) 1. Take one a day to sustain the illusion of being healthy. 2. implies your liver’s hatred of its owner. • Class: (n) I got it. Do you? • Vodka: (n) There are two types: Rubinoff and everything else. • Sushi: (mmm) 1. nearly impossible to eat slowly. 2. Never to be purchased at the campus center • Rum: (n) only bearable when mixed with Diet Coke.

Al Jazeera English is not available on cable but can be accessed on its YouTube channel via http://www.youtube.com/user/AlJazeeraEnglish

• Frat: (n) 1. a source of loud music and jostling. 2. Good for briefly chatting with people you barely know and meeting their hot male friends. 3. Never to be attended sober.

Michael Snyder is a senior majoring in American Studies. October 27, 2008

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O

The Observer

Online

Read, comment on, and share Observer stories on our website:

www.tuftsobserver.org 16

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October 27, 2008


P e a k On Columbus Day weekend, members of the Tufts Mountain Club tested their vertical limits by scaling each of New Hampshire’s 48 peaks that reach at least four thousand feet in elevation. The TMC kicked off the weekend by gathering at the Loj in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, where they divided into teams and began the task of conquering New Hampshire’s summits.

Photos by Molly Clark

W e e k e n d


David Gainsboro


Sean Smith

Sean Smith

Josh Friedmann


Justin Birudavol

Erica Fine


Bite-sized news you might have missed since our last issue. Cheap Speech Jeswald Salacuse, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and chair of the Task Force on Freedom of Expression, gave a presentation to the Tufts Community Union Senate (TCU) about the resolution his committee has compiled. The Task Force on Freedom of Expression submitted a statement of principle regarding freedom of expression and methods for dealing with offensive speech on campus. Though complaints about the ambiguity of the resolution have come from both students and members of TCU, Salacuse stood by the statement, reminding students in his speech to TCU that the statement is a ‘framework of principles,’ and not a specific piece of legislation. After the Senate endorsed the statement, Salacuse and his committee announced their plan to submit the final form of the statement to University President Lawrence Bacow in November. Healthy Senate The Tufts Community Union Senate (TCU) recently proposed setting up a website which would answer frequently asked questions about the universityís health services. Although the system is still in very early planning stages, TCU anticipates working with both Tufts Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) and Health Services on the website which would clarify certain TEMS policies, as well as answer other health services. The system was proposed after concerns were raised about a lack of awareness about TEMS policies among students, particularly with regards to the handling of alcohol-abuse related issues. Few students not directly involved with the organization actually know much about TEMS protocol, and the system would work to clear up many of these uncertainties. Good Morning, Bubs Tufts a capella group, The Beelzebubs,

appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on September 28. The Beezlebubs had two former appointments on the show, but the network canceled both. The Beezlebubs were not positive about the September 28 performance until the day before, and despite their packed homecoming-weekend schedule they fit the performance in on Sunday morning. The Beelzebubs performed many songs from their normal repertoire, along with a few specific requests made by the Good Morning America staff. The group plans to post some videos of the performance on YouTube.

Vote! Hoffman Speaks to Hill Professor Stanley Hoffmann from Harvard University’s Center for European Studies spoke to a packed room in Cabot on October 8 about his opinions on Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the war on terror. His talk, entitled, “Reflections of the Middle Easy in World Affairs,” drew so many people some students overflowed into the hall, where they watched on a monitor. Among other points, he insisted that the main front for the war on terror lies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, contradicting President Bush’s claims that it still lies in

Iraq. The talk was followed by a questionand-answer session regarding the material in the talk itself, and other current issues having to do with the Middle East. Problems with West Hall Renovations Planned renovations to West Hall’s plumbing system have been delayed due to problems with the plan’s compliance to the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB) regulations. MAAB regulates construction and renovation on public buildings in Massachusetts, and ensures that all buildings under construction have adequate handicap access. In order for the planned changes to West Hall to comply with these regulations, it would be necessary for the entire plumbing system of the hall to be redone, and an elevator or lift would have to be installed expensive changes the university does not want to make. Over the summer small renovation were made which did not require a complete building-wide overhaul, and for now all other plans have been put on hold. Cancer Research Dialogue On October 17, members of Tufts faculty from all three campuses and individuals from the Boston community hosted an event to discuss current cancer research. Cancer Research Day was part of a series of lectures hosted by the Office of Provost and discussed research being conducted by Tufts faculty on all of its campuses. Besides informing the community about cancer research, the talks aimed to connect individuals conducting research on a particular campus with others on a different campus with similar interests. The event featured general question-and-answer sessions, lengthier talks given by professors and area professionals, and closed with the presentation of lab results of both students and professional Tufts researchers. — compiled by Anna Majeski a variety of sources, including the Tufts Daily October 27, 2008

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21


A

esthetic

BY

T

CATHERINE NAKAJIMA

he American flower arrangement— the bouquet—represents abundance and heterogeneity. The more flowers in the cellophane wrapper, the better. The American bouquet, just as the American population, is made of various flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Once the flowers are accumulated and wrapped, they are often tied with colorful decorative ribbons and often a small card. The bouquet acquires meaning through lavish abundance and conveys feelings of profuse love and care. With its amalgamations, flashiness, and magnitude, the Western bouquet also reflects our postmodern society. Long ago, bouquets followed strict guidelines of styles such as old Colonial, Victorian, or Williamsburg. The Victorian flower arrangement, for instance, strove for a delicate decorative look, supplementing silk flow-

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Eye

ers of soft blue to emphasize this look. It also took care to associate meaning with every flower, fruit and garnish so that complex messages were conveyed. This is a perfect example of aesthetic outgrowths of a culture—that of “florid” prose and the rococo Victorian. While these older styles influenced the modern bouquet, postmodernity has left it without restrictions of any one style. The bouquet is, however, able to achieve specific looks by playing with negative space and color combinations. c Jap Japanese flower arrang gem rangement or Ikebana, “arr r ang “arranged flower,” is m mi nimaa ni minimalistic. Arrangements may comprise of only on one flower—quality, no not quantity. The vase, flowers, leaves, stems, and branches are all ind indispensible parts of th the arrangement. Each p part has its own mythol mythological significance and specific m metaphoric references, for examp example, heaven, earth, and man. The va vase, too, is carefully chosen, and must compliment the season son: metal containers are used durin during winter, woven baskets du during summer. Since nature is imperfect, the Japanese flower arrangements cherish aasymmetry and therefore uuse odd numbers of flowers. American flowers, on the other hand, conform to rules of symmetry—

roses are sold by the dozen; bouquets assume symmetric circular shapes. The flower arrangements in Japan represent minimalism and simplicity—a return

ART BY

WILL RAMSDELL

to nature’s rules and acceptance of its realities. For America, it is appropriate for bouquets to reflect multiculturalism and progressive interweaving. O “Aesthetic Eye” is a column devoted to cross-cultural analysis and comparison of aesthetics styles.

Catherine Nakajima is a freshman who has not yet declared a major.

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&The Danes

SOPHIE PACK

f you want to be happy, learn from the Danes. A 30-year international study of 90 nations named Denmark the happiest country. America may be the richest and most powerful, but it comes up short in the race to o cont contentment, n entment, placing a sorry 23rd. Why? What do the Danes have that we don’t? Low expectations mayy be the key to unlocking that fickle portal to happiness. Danish professor Kaare Christiansen’ nsen’s study, “Why Danes are Smug” ug” found that Danish citizens ns often “get happy when n things turn out not quite so o badly as they expected.” Even their government webpage pokes fun at their own history of forced land relinquishments, surrenders, and lost battles. On the other hand, America prods us with a stick to defeat the competimpetition in a corporate meritocracy. ocracy. The American ethos conditions nditions us with the quintessential American Dream to think more is better, and to ignore prophetic rapper Biggie iggie Smalls’ warning, “Mo’ money mo’ problems.” ms.” Biggie’s sentiment, however, is supported by Daniel Gilbert, psychologist and author of the popular book “Stumbling on Happiness.” Gilbert asserts that once you exceed a $50,000 income, more money doesn’t buy much more happiness. Princeton Economist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues also say the correlation between money and overall mood is “mostly illusory.” I expect the “gimme more” attitude Americans inherit ends in dissatisfaction with imperfect results. After all, look at Britney Spears. She wanted “more” but ended up with bipolar disorder. Burdened by immense pressures to succeed, American college students cram productive, character-building work into already-charged schedules. Many among us are Type A workaholics. But a recent study proved that multitasking reduces overall efficiency. Moreover, a packed schedule could mean reduced sleep, low energy levels, and high

cortisol levels due to stress, which weakens the immune system. Harvard Psychology Professor Tal Ben-Shahar notes that over 94% of American college students are overwhelmed. Maybe the Danes aren’t as anxious as American college students because they simply don’t have as much to worry about. Sure, they have homework, but they also get paid to go to college! Repeat for emphasis! That

#1 means no student loans and eno borderlineoy abusive busboy jobs. Or couldd it be that the Danish are more unitri n ? ed than we Am Americans? Family values aside, they are n o t plagued by class separation, for their predominant middle class smoothes over any issue of severe economic polarity. Though they have the highest tax rate in the world, with their middle class paying up around 50% of their income, monetary wealth is not necessarily their first priority. When asked what makes them most happy,

Danes aged 13-24 did not say money. They did not use the question as an opportunity to brag of their low (18) and flexible drinking age. No, according to Associated Press and MTV’s survey, the overwhelming answer was spending time with family. Denmark’s free healthcare and great leave of absence benefits enable them to spend more time w loved ones. The average work week in Denwith mark is 37 hours with a six week vacation. Other European countries such as France have a 35 hour max work week. Plus, they get time off during midday to eat at home with the family and take a nap. I wouldn’t believe it had I not witnessed first hand my host French parents come home to relax and prepare extravagant meals for me and their other children. But back to low expectations, because it’s easier to fix our mindset than our culture. It would follow that because the Danes expect less, they are less frightened by the idea of failure. Pullitzer Prize winner and author of The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker posits that people are afraid of too much success and of their own potential. He thinks the more we strive to ascend the ladder of wealth the more we fear falling. America is a counw wealth, try o of extremes. As the saying goes, “Go big or go home.” The Danish mindset may be more reasonable and attainable. Professor Nancy Segal of CSU questions our ability to move beyond a set point of innate happiness and suggests that the best anyone can do is to boost that set level up just a notch. With low expectations, that one notch up can be quite exhilarating! So here’s what I think: Americans need ch The more we want, the less we have. to chill. And the more we want, the more we want. We feed what becomes a self-defeating addict diction. Just look at patrons of McDonald’s. So if we refrain from masochistic tendenci like holing ourselves up in the library to cies p constant all-nighters, in pursuit of that pull mirage-like CEO position in the distance, if we balance priorities and focus on the future and appreciate the here and now, maybe we’ll reap the only reward that matters: beating the Danish. O

Sophie Pack is a sophomore majoring in psychology. October 27, 2008

THE OBSERVER

23


ARTS

wh the thi (an thr len

CAMPBELL KLIEFOTH

The Decline of An Empire: Good Performance Art BY

BRIAN MCLOONE

O

ne of the few enjoyable aspects of living in an empire on the verge of decline is the ability to sit back and appreciate the entertainment value of its political representatives. Caligula, a latterday Roman emperor, was known to dress as Hercules before speaking to the public, and rumor has it he even tried to appoint his horse, Incitatus, to the position of Consul. Today, we have John McCain to fill Caligula’s role, appointing a snarky, inarticulate millenarian to the vice-presidential slot on his party’s ticket. This is a woman whose pastor had a Kenyan mystic driven out of Wasilla, on the claim that her supernaturalism was causing a disproportionate number of car accidents in that Anchorage suburb. Now that, my friends and countrymen, is funny. Upon reflection, not much about Sarah Palin’s noteworthy political viability should surprise. After all, this is a country where 55% believe God created humans in their present form, the same percentage which believes they’ve been protected by a guardian angel at least once in their lives. Put another way, a lot of people in our species, for whatever reason, can’t advance past the 24

THE OBSERVER

October 27, 2008

worldview the rest of us had when we were seven, when we checked under our beds at night to make sure there weren’t any warlocks down there. For those of us who find these fantastical beliefs incoherent, let alone odd, the comedic value of political theater provides marginal consolation. For instance, we now live in a country where we can see Republicans unironically raise their hands when asked, at a national debate, “Is there anyone on stage who does not believe in evolution?” But should we say something before these people blow up the world? Is it polite to point? Or do we just chuckle to ourselves and hope for the best as we watch these Medievalists yelp curiously at the moon? When a majority of a country’s citizens hold beliefs like those of the abovementioned 55%, one can pretty easily guess at what level political discourse will be carried out. Hence, the Republican strategy of the past few years has been to have political candidates appear as uncritical and uneducated as possible, so as not to intimidate or offend Joe and Jill American. On the other side, when someone like Barack Obama correctly pronounces the word “Pakistan,” he’s labeled an “elitist,” someone “other,” with only partially recognizable, undeniably foreign attitudes. Palin, in contrast, is folksy

and charming, and at home in America, the land of nonsense. She enjoys killing large mammals, believes in the End of Days, has only recently travelled outside of North America, and can’t pronounce the word “nuclear.” A Palin nomination, in my mind, is troubling evidence of American decline, for if Caligula gives us any insight, it’s that the entertainment value of politics appears to be inversely correlated to the prospects of a country existing much further into the future. So the Palin nomination, while useful for comedic purposes, should worry us all. There’s a glitch with the American experiment. And sadly, we can see that a great deal of this country’s ignorance is taught, since primary education here is a long progression of half-truths and cultural narratives, in which Western civilization—the flag-bearer for all things right and true—is invariably at center stage. While adherence to a conception of “manifest destiny” or some other hollow cultural cliché requires a rather high degree of inanity, more subtle presumptions of Western exceptionalism color the thinking of otherwise pretty clear-headed citizens. When the historical anecdotes of the past 2300 years are added up, the result is supposed to be Western civilization triumphing over the degenerate,

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whether in the form of German Visigoths, the Viet Cong, Muslims. At a basic level, this narrative structure is predicated upon (and maintained) by portraying the enemy through a conveniently narrow, simplistic lens. Edward Said drew attention to this phenomenon in his totemic work Orientalism, in which he explained how mainstream Western European and American views of other lands—particularly Eastern lands — is fundamentally ideological, a remnant of the European literary tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries. Essentially, Said describes Orientalism as adherence to the ideology that the West and East are non-trivially distinct, with the values of the West—individualism, Christianity—being superior to the snake-charming mysticism found among Arabs, Africans, Indians. Once this political context is set, it’s alarmingly easy to justify colonization or “liberation,” for the Orient becomes a land filled with godless heathens, unable to organize themselves without constructive input from the white man. At Aidekman, there’s an interesting exhibit which deals with these issues, one certainly worth exploring. In all, the exhibit is a self-consciousness reflection on artwork dealing with the Orient, and it explicitly channels Said. Orientalism was published in 1978, and the past few decades have seen heightened interest in what’s typically called “post-colonial” studies: appreciating and examining the artistic work—Said himself was principally interested in literature—that could be found in former European colonies. As I see it, postcolonialism has had two principal consequences. On the one hand, it’s motivated a move away from the traditional European canon, with its emphasis on Greek, Roman, and Anglo-phone art. In addition, it’s created a heightened self-conscious in artistic work about the narratives one is employing in a constructing a given project. The artists on display at Aidekman, having grown up reading post-colonial critiques, are quite self-consciousness of the cultural narratives between West and East, which, as mentioned before, usually take the tone of the West being a land of democracy and civilization, the East, a land of mysticism, spices, and tigers. For instance, one of the artists, Andisheh Arini, plays with this tension in his sculpture of the Statue of Liberty, made out of what’s called Khaatam marquetry, popular only in Iran. Arini has therefore connected these two narratives: the media of the work represents the Ori-

ent, while the eagle and Statue of Liberty, in idiocy. But politics shouldn’t be fun, and the content of the piece, represent the certainly not funny. When political dismarch of civilization from Athens to New course gets that way, things are very probYork. ably off course. Consider an article in the One need not look particularly hard New York Times, which covered Palin’s spot to see unconscious manifestations of this on a recent episode of SNL, which reads “It narrative in recent political talk. Take the was definitely entertaining, but it was hard current discussion of Obama’s friendly re- at times to tell whether it was a bold politilationship with William Ayers, a leader of cal tactic or a show-business audition.” The a group which blew up federal buildings to article goes on to say that “just two weeks protest the Vietnam War. Since Obama’s before the election, the Republicans are relationship with Ayers became public, not pulling out all the stops to frame Ms. Obama and his surrogates have had to de- Palin as a knowledgeable, thoughtful vice fend the connection as president; they are showcasbasically superficial, and ing her as a star.” Celebrity based upon their shared now seems more important work in education, not to voters than competence, foreign policy or politisuch that the lines between cal strategy. Contrast this policy makers and the A-list with the media’s poris blurred. Again, the entertrayal of Palin’s meeting tainment value of CNN is, as with Henry Kissinger a consequence, undeniably about a month ago in heightened, a point Kenneth New York. Kissinger, of Tin-Kin Hung, another artcourse, is responsible for ist on display at Aidekman, Pinochet’s coup in Chile articulates with great clarity. and chemical bombings Tin-Kin Hung illustrates this in Vietnam, to name just phenomenon of the politicotwo of his crimes. Given celebrity by taking pictures the biases toward racof politicians and presenting ism and exceptionalism them as inextricably linked mentioned above, the to more superficial cultural end product of these items: Huckabee playing in a two stories is obvious: hair band, McCain as a cheerCAMPBELL KLIEFOTH Obama works on an edleader, and Obama sucking ucational project with a domestic terrorist on one of Oprah’s nipples. He makes the who didn’t target citizens and there’s out- point that in this celebrity-crazed environrage; Palin meets with a man who did target ment of the past few decades, we really do citizens and then proceeds to discuss foreign get the leaders we want—superstars. policy with him and it’s simply another news One of my favorite parts of autumn is story. Acknowledging this asymmetry is of looking at the pretty red and yellow leaves course too much to ask the mainstream me- all around campus. It’s like the leaves are dia, for it requires from them a moment of staging a final hoorah before they fall to the self-assessment and basic objectivity. Thus, ground and fall apart. They’re bright on the as long as we are securely committed to our branches, and as the wind goes through the belief that an American’s life is worth more trees, they’re like colorful little hands moving than any other, we can write off the deaths up and down, waving goodbye to the warmof thousands and millions as unfortunate er season. T.S. Eliot famously said the world but necessary collateral from America’s would end not with a bang, but a whimper. march to civilize the world. But Eliot couldn’t imagine American public In summation, we have a public in- relations. Nothing is a whimper anymore; capable or unwilling to engage in rational everything is all graphics, all day, all stupid, inquiry, brought up in a political system of all fucked up. I really do hope McCain loses racist narratives and xenophobia. This mix- in a few weeks. If not, I think Palin is the ture, I imagine, can’t be particularly sustain- flash before the bang, the red and yellow able, and Palin is the current and unsurpris- before the leaves fall apart, the Caligula, the ing representative of the pathetic zeitgeist. sign that this country got derailed at some Politics has become fun to follow, simply point in the past, and now we’re seeing the because its figures are so lavishly shrouded absurd, unbelievable results. O October 27, 2008

THE OBSERVER

25


Chesterton’s Forgotten Adventure BY

MATTHEW DIAMANTE

I

f you’re up for an offbeat and pageturning adventure story from Britain’s Victorian era and don’t mind a large dollop of Christian propaganda, I highly recommend G.K. Chesterton’s 1908 novel The Man Who Was Thursday. Subtitled A Nightmare, the book is a strange but thrilling tale of a lone police detective charged with combating a terrifyingly threat to human civilization. I say that the novel is “Christian propaganda” because it retells the Book of Job, but Chesterton cheats: he takes the bite out of the story while preserving its message. For those unfamiliar with the tale, Job is an Old Testament warning of the perils of questioning Yahweh and is a vile a fairy tale as any. In it, the titular wealthy, happy and God-fearing merchant with seven sons and three daughters endures a great test to his faith, and indeed will to live. We learn straight off in Job that the protagonist is a virtuous one. After his children indulge in a bout of carousing, Job “rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings” to placate the Deity in case any sins were committed. But perhaps he didn’t get up early enough or build a large enough fire, because Yahweh allows a spirit (perhaps Satan himself) to challenge Job’s loyalty to Him by killing all his children and afflicting him with boils. Then three of Job’s friends arrive, and after sitting in silence for a full week, offer their not unreasonable opinion that the sufferer must have committed some awful sin in order to merit such treatment. Job continues to praise Yahweh, but insists that he has done no such thing. After a good deal more talking, God himself interrupts the discussion and questions Job on the finer points of the workings of Creation. After the latter admits that he has little grasp of Life, the Universe and Everything, Yahweh tells him not to question his actions, for that is sinful. When the beleaguered human assents, he eventually regains his prosperity and fathers ten new children to make up for the ones he’d lost. And so the Torah/Bible provides a simple and explicit answer to the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people: shut up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this 26

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October 27, 2008

dictum is not repeated often enough, for countless Christian philosophers and laymen alike have continued asking the question right up to the present. Clerics should evidently be telling congregants to “shut up” more often—but I digress. Chesterton, a devout Christian, no doubt intended for The Man Who Was Thursday to remind those whose faith wavers of Job’s explicit moral. Although the novel’s

PHOTO COURTESY PENGUIN BOOKS

“Why, then, do I both praise Chesterton’s novel and recommend it to a general public? For one thing, it’s a splendid yarn.” hero, Gabriel Syme, at worst endures occasional panic throughout the course of the plot (indeed, he mildly speaks of a “fine scamper”), Syme sounds unmistakably Joblike when he shortly thereafter insists that he has “been broken upon the wheel” and thrust “into hell.” A figure who calls himself “The Peace of God” then pointedly questions whether Syme has suffered, asking “have you ever suffered?” As Syme faints, he

hears a phrase once spoken by Jesus, underscoring his inferiority to the Deity. Having proven himself sufficiently pious, however, he is soon restored to life and the book’s final sentence suggests that his reward is a subservient and good-looking red-headed (Irish?) “girl”. Though Syme plays Job’s part, he never suffers as the latter does and therein lies a crucial difference. Whatever its literary merits, Job is an appalling allegory and a textbook example of the folly of entrusting one’s worldview to a tribal tale written seven thousand yeas ago. Because Chesterton retains the story’s structure and moral while turning its horrors into a lark, The Man Who Was Thursday is a dishonest paean to a superstition whose promised afterlife Christopher Hitchens has accurately termed a “totalitarian dictatorship.” Why, then, do I both praise Chesterton’s novel and recommend it to a general public? For one thing, it’s a splendid yarn. Though didacticism suffuses the text, it doesn’t derail the narrative until the climax, at which point the author’s deus ex machina serves as a relief rather than an irritation. It’s also a vivid and surreal portrait of Victorian Britain, filled with striking prose: “[Syme] could almost fancy that he heard the grass growing; he could almost fancy that even as he stood fresh flowers were springing up and breaking into blossom in the meadow—flowers blood red and burning gold and blue, fulfilling the whole pageant of the spring. And whenever his eyes strayed for a flash from the calm, staring, hypnotic eyes of the Marquis, they saw the little tuft of almond tree against the sky-line.” It would be a shame if we were to forget such a work merely because its author, like many others (C.S. Lewis and Joanne “K.” Rowling come to mind), comforted personal depression with the opiates of religion. The doctrines and mysticism which Chesterton indulged in are unfit counselors for the challenges of our generation, and so is anyone who teaches Job as a guide to life. But I for one retain a sentimental admiration for the book whose regressive but transporting dedicatory poem begins “A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,/Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together....” O

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Where’d The Humor Go?

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n’s ic? gh rail int ief nd ed ost he od ng od he ver m, hey he

oror, ne ed rech ors so fe. on rtwas he oul

WILLIAM MARTINE

I

t was with a profound sigh of relief this week that my friends and I welcomed the good news that the Eagles of Death Metal are going be pulling their souped up carny wagons to the front of the Paradise Rock Club on November 15th. I strongly urge all of you to attend. Aside from reinforcing the fact that a good moustache will always be a better band trademark than, say, permanent members, Eagles of Death Metal also carry the flag as the one of the few remaining mainstream acts that make serious, well-constructed, genre-specific music that just also happens to be hilarous. Sitting too close to lead singer J-Devil unleashing his patented brand of hyper-sexed-up rhythm and blues has proven itself time and time again to be dangerous for the agnostic and the weak of heart, leaving many already-pregnant teens feeling dirty for weeks. There is, of course, a bad side to witnessing acts like Eagles of Death Metal. The largest side effect is that it leads one down the frustrating and pointless path of trying to catalogue the other groups of today that take their music seriously, while treating their images like a joke. But hey, that’s why I have a column. What I’ve concluded is that being funny is an underrated value in rock music today. Actually it probably always has

been, but that still doesn’t mean I get why more bands haven’t embraced the humor. I know, it’s all about the music, and that’s the way it should be. I’m just saying that a truly funny joke or an excellent set of selfdeprecating antics will launch any band I’m listening to a few points higher. The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana both competed for my early 1990s nostalgiac teenage angst. What ultimately made up my mind as to which band I would love forever was the CD From the Muddy Banks of the Wihskah and the fact that I’d never catch Billy Corgan wearing star-shaped sunglasses and singing 3 octaves below his normal range during his band’s first appearance on the U.K.’s biggest pop show. You know why? The guy’s not funny. But Cobain is, and that’s why Nirvana is still number one in my heart. Fret not though, after racking my brain and the brains of friends over cigarette porch-sessions, I was able to round up a few contemporary hitters as well. Horse the Band, the Amino Acids, and Turbonegro are all determined to guarantee good music and the occasional laugh. The Amino Acids more than the others because they have literally lost record deals by refusing to take off their masks and speak a discernable human language to executives. I also include Arcade Fire because they performed “Neon

“HE’S MAINLY A MACHINE.” An Arts & Culture Column by Thomas Sutherland

Bible” live inside an elevator. Bands that take themselves seriously but have a sense of humor are not to be confused with humorous bands. The bands which I have mentioned in this article make good music because they understand the mechanics of the genre in which they function, not because their lyrics are funny. That’s just a bonus and a damn good one if you ask me. The quality of humorous bands is (surprise!) found in the humor, not in the music. That being said, the two are not mutually exclusive. Duos such as The Flight of the Conchords and Tenacious D mix tasty rhythms and enjoyable melodies to make some awesome, hilarious music. In their cases, I still think the music shines brightest and best. Bands with a sense of humor about themselves are nothing new, either. I’d take The White Album or Pet Sounds over The Who Sell Out or even Tommy most days of the week, but if you asked a 1965 version of me which concert I wanted to go to, I’d say give me some qualudes and let’s go watch Keith Moon blow up his drum set. O October 27, 2008

THE OBSERVER

27


The following is a Letter to the Editor responding to Jim Bloom’s October 13th column.

I

n regard to the article, “Granoff Letdown (and a lot of pianos)” I am sorry that Mr. Bloom did not ask at the Music Department Office about the availability of rooms with amplifiers. The Granoff Music Center has three soundproof rooms outfitted with guitar and bass amps as well as drum sets. There is one room that any student can reserve for solo practice or for a band; the two other rooms are for students taking lessons on drums, percussion, or amplified instruments, and for students in a range of departmental ensembles. I encourage readers of the Tufts Observer to take advantage of all the resources of the Granoff Center, starting with the twelve practice rooms, some with pianos, some without, that are available to any student whenever the building is open. Private

I

’d like to talk about the pot market, the sixty billion dollar ($60,000,000,000!) pot market. The nature of the reefer market is the primary reason why legalization is the answer and decriminalization is not. Decriminalization would prevent hundreds of thousands from getting criminal records (last year over 800,000 people were arrested and charged for possession of marijuana; an FBI figure that drug czar, John Walters lied about at a press conference) but it won’t eliminate the actual criminal element of it, nor would it help regulate it. Marijuana is grown by all sorts of people. Most of it in this country is produced by people growing fewer than 30 plants; we shouldn’t worry about them, they are harmless and in a world with legal pot they’d be the equivalent of microbrewers. The rest of the pot in this country is grown by organized criminal groups. Recently, due to the tightening of the Mexican border, Mexican drug cartels are now growing a lot of marijuana in US national forests, and in the process have, according to an AP report, polluted the parks with poisons and all sorts of illegal-in-the-US fertilizers, sprays, and poisons. From these growers, there are a number of intermediaries who handle the pot until it reaches someone you might know or only have have contact with for buying pot (unless you grow it, of course). Most campus dealers are small time, and only slang bangs to support their own habits, and maybe the munchies. I’d even go as far to say that al28

THE OBSERVER

October 27, 2008

lessons are available on almost every instrument, including electric guitar, electric bass, drums, as well as a wide range of instruments from around the world. Students should look into joining one of the many ensembles, including orchestra, chorus, chamber music, Gospel choir, and jazz big band or smaller ensembles, flute ensemble, early music ensemble, new music ensemble, Klezmer ensemble, opera ensemble, wind ensemble, Arabic ensemble, and the ensembles that use the World Music room mentioned in Mr. Bloom’s article, including the Javanese Gamelan ensemble, and the Kiniwe African drumming and dance ensemble. Over 500 students in these ensembles performed today at the Parents Weekend Arts Festival. The Department of Music offers courses on a wide range of musical traditions; courses for non-majors next semester include introductions to Western and Non-Western music, opera, history of jazz,

history of rock’n’roll, music of Asia, Music and Prayer in the Jewish traditions, psychology of music, computer tools for musicians, and all the ensembles noted above. Tufts students should be sure to visit the Ruth Lilly Music Library which features a huge collection of recordings you can check out including every kind of music, along with a vast array of books and journals dealing with music from around the world and from the distant past to the present day. Finally, I would encourage readers of The Observer to come to some of the many concerts that take place in the Music Center; last year we had over 150 events with audiences numbering more than 25,000. Sincerely, Professor Joseph Auner Chair of the Department of Music O Comment on this letter at tuftsobserver.org

G

G

most everyone who smokes more OING REEN than just occasionally has sold weed An Alternative Culture Column at one time or another (and someby Reggie Hubbard times not for profit) just because they had a friend who can’t get any. That’s right, I just accused the majority of on selling weed to underagers (I’m all for, in Tufts’ campus of being drug dealers, and a weed-prohibition free world, jail time for technically, a lot of us are. those who sell to young kids). I believe this is actually the reason why But pot is not regulated. It doesn’t a lot of people become marijuana “addicts.” come from a legitimate source. Does that It is extremely easy to sell pot, especially mean people are not buying it? Look around in high school and college. To a collegiate our campus; people are buying it, and often. dealer, the abundance of cheap or free mar- But where does that money go? No one can ijuana, combined with the fact that there say for sure, that’s the nature of the black are virtrually no legitimate real world wor- market, but it’s no secret that it doesn’t end ries in college, makes for a sticky situation. up in the hands of good people. Many of them just lie around all day and I don’t like the fact that I’ve given a lot get stoned, and from dealing they have suf- of money to Mexican gangs, and American ficient funds to do so. I should also say here gangs, and terrorists. I don’t like that I supfor my own protection that I do not and port people’s addictions. More than any of have never sold marijuana. You can guess: that though, I don’t like the fact that a plant I’m either employed, a trust-fund baby, or that helps me relax, loosen up, and laugh I grow my own (whatever answer helps you can get me sent to prison for possessing it. sleep at night). I don’t like the billions of tax dollars that go I think we need to control marijuana, to to enforce the prohibition nor do I like that regulate it. I don’t like the fact that for me those enforcements have indirectly contriband for most people I talk to, it was easier uted to the financing of violent gangs and to get pot in high school than it was to get the pollution of public land. booze, especially considering the research Most of all, I don’t like the personal that shows younger people who smoke too freedoms that the government takes away early (or drink or take too many prescrip- when it makes marijuana illegal, and I estion pills) can have certain problems in how pecially hate the measures that the governbrain development. Until regulations are put ment and police feel they need to go to in on pot such that it is OK for a 21-, or 20-, or order to make sure people listen. 19-year-old to walk into a store and buy it leI need to go smoke a joint. You should gally, we can’t enforce stricter punishments go smoke one too. O


An Autumn Escape

BY

I

EMILY ROITMAN

t’s Saturday around noon and you are sitting on the couch in a sweatshirt, thinking about the scandalous events of last night. Thoughtfully munching on cereal, you decide it would be wise to save the homework for Sunday night and occupy your sunny October Saturday with something fun. What to do? Where to go? A few weeks ago, I chose to go on a classic autumn adventure: apple picking. Having no idea where to start (as the only type of picking I’d ever done before was from the tomato vines in my parents’ garden) I googled “apple picking in Massachusetts” and came up with a pick-yourown website that listed a dozen farms near Boston. Narrowing down my list by driving time and entrance fees, I happened upon a place by the name of Honey Pot Hill Orchards, a family-operated farm in Stow. The trip westward was extremely pretty. We drove through a bunch of country towns that had their own mini-farms with pumpkin patches and signs for carving contests out front. Aside from a few scary sights on the way to Honey Pot (which may have included a McCain-Palin sign or two), the ride was relaxing. We did, however, encounter a 20-minute wait to get into the parking lot due to the unusually warm weather and sunny skies. Sandwiched between a minivan filled with waving children and a grumpy-faced SUV driver behind us, we patiently crawled toward the farm and snapped photos. Having parked on a grassy lawn with what looked like hundreds of other cars, we made our way to the entrance lines. At Honey Pot, there are no fees to enter the farm; visitors choose to purchase two smaller bags for $17 or one larger 20-pound bag for $20. The big bag seemed like the better deal, so we went with that. Briefly examining our Honey Pot map, we headed out toward the orchards with water bottles and camera in tow.

EXCURSIONS

Apple Picking: The apple trees were divided into rows depending on the variety of fruit. A wooden sign greeted us with the words “Cortlands: 300 yards, McIntosh: 200 yards.” Since it was super sunny and the McIntosh apples were uphill, we

EMILY ROITMAN

with the bag. Since most recipes for apple desserts recommend a variety of the fruit for the best flavor, we plucked Spartans, McIntosh, and Macouns for our soon-to-be apple pie. It turned out to be well worth EMILY ROITMAN the little scratches and bug bites; store-bought will never taste the wandered toward the eastern part of the same to me again. orchard to pluck the former variety. On Although Honey Pot Hill offered hayour way, we passed dozens of families with rides and a hedge maze, we were exhausted overflowing bags of fruit. To our sides, less after spending a few hours searching for adventurous travelers were delegating the perfect apples. Since the farm is so close job of tree-climber to their lightest com- to the Boston metro area, it is quite popupanions. Fathers steadied thin ladders for lar. Although apple-picking season is nearly cheerful, screaming children, while other over at Honey Pot, you can take your own visitors took respite in the shades of trees. apple picking trip to several other farms, After tramping through a muddy patch which remain open to visitors hoping to of land, we found ourselves surrounded by scrounge up a few delicious apples before apples. Since it was late in the season, most frost. Autumn Hills Orchard, a working of the reachable fruit had disappeared or farm in Groton, MA, is still operating pickhad been claimed by bugs. Realizing the your-own and offers Empire, Red Delicious, purpose of the wooden ladders we had and Cortland apples. Another farm located seen strewn about the farm, we decided to in Stow goes by the name of Carver Hill pick what Cortlands we could reach and Orchard and offers a farm store with fresh head back to search for more accessible cider, fudge, and chicken pot pies. In midfruit. Turns out, the best way to pick is to November, Carver Hill will also begin ofuse a ladder to get to the thickest possible fering a perfect project for midterm-worn branch and then climb towards the juiciest Jumbos: cut-your-own Christmas trees. For looking apples and toss them down to your now, an apple picking excursion is a perfriend(s) who stand underneath the tree fect, and delicious, autumn escape. O October 27, 2008

THE OBSERVER

29


Beer Me,

Boston

Cambridge Brewing Company, a Fresh Alternative BY J ONATHAN DINERSTEIN AND PATRICK ROATH

P

eople may or may not have heard about the German beer purity law, the Reinheitsgebot,” explained Will Meyers, the Brewmaster at Cambridge Brewing Company (CBC). We nod enthusiastically, feigning depths of beerbrewing knowledge. Will and his brewers at Cambridge Brewing Company are serious about beer. Wedged in between Cambridge bio-tech firms on the MIT campus, the brewery pub is a five minute walk from Kendall Square. We went to CBC last week for good, local, freshly-brewed beer and we were not disappointed. The Place CBC passes over the underground charm of hipster hang-outs such as Red Bones or sports havens like Boston Beer Works for a more subdued, relaxed atmosphere. More restaurant than booze joint, CBC’s dining selection is basic, American fare, but we were there for the beer, which is undoubtedly CBC’s biggest draw. The bar area is set apart from the more family-friendly restaurant area and the music never seems to approach the decibel level that most Davis Square bars aspire to. Despite its MIT location and decidedly affordable prices, the clientele is mostly the older professional set, with a smattering of tourists and families. According to a Brewers Association

30

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October 27, 2008

study, the craft brewing industry grew by 16% in the past year. While giant beer producers like Anheuser-Busch have had to merge with others or be gobbled up by foreign firms to survive–the craft, or microbrew, industry is in the midst of modern renaissance. Tufts students, many of whom enjoy a beer from time to time, are perfectly situated take advantage of the many beer opportunities beyond a thirtyrack of Keystone Light. Two of the Brewers Association’s Top Ten craft breweries are located in Boston: Boston Beer Co., which makes Samuel Adams, and Harpoon Brewery. CBC is much smaller–it sells almost nothing outside of its premises–but its small size makes it more nuanced than the better-known locals. “Everything is in house, we have four beers that we make year round, we do one rotating seasonal every three months. Everything else that we have on tap are all single batch brews,” Will explained. As Will coached us through a sample of each beer on tap, it became abundantly clear that the single-batch specialties are what sets CBC apart from its many Boston-area competitors. The Beers on Tap We started out with the basics. For fans of pale ales like Sierra Nevada, the Tall Tale Pale Ale does not disappoint. Its fresh flavor and aroma make it a delicious beer on the strong side and one of the most recognizable tastes in CBC’s palette.

Along with the Tall Tale, the Cambridge Amber is one of CBC’s most popular beers. A dark, malty beer that leaves a smoky, pretzel-like taste in the back of the mouth, Cambridge Amber is perfect with grilled food. Accompanied by a roasty sweetness that goes down easy with a surprisingly subtle chocolate aftertaste, we were sold on the Amber. The brewery’s 21 Bone Salute, created to commemorate the 21st anniversaty of Davis Square’s own Red Bones, was deliberately brewed as a perfect compliment to spicy food. Its grassy, clean flavor cleanses the palette for the many piquant entrees on Red Bones’ menu. However, its taste alone merits a full-sized sample, whether or not one is sitting in front of a spicy barbeque. A small sample of this delicious beer was enough to warrant a full pint after the tasting. CBC’s Blackout Stout is the brewery’s Irish stout–essentially their Guinness. The milkshake-thick beer is, however, slightly less bitter than the famous Irish brew, and not overwhelmingly strong. It’s also less alcoholic and more drinkable than some of their other offerings. The Regatta Golden is the lightest and driest beer on tap at CBC. Hoppier than it looks, the blonde, German-style ale has a lingering spiciness that reminded us, strangely, of mineral water. Regatta is a lighter choice for the more cultivated palette. The Charles River Porter is a heavy, malty brew, chock full of thick flavor that

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tastes more roasted than brewed. The porter finishes with a bright coffee flavor – a divisive “love-it-or-hate-it” addition to any beer that works here. Fans of Belgian wheat beers will not be disappointed with CBC’s selection. Half Wit is their Belgian white, sweeter and denser than a Blue Moon or Hoegaarden. We were impressed by the spicy fullness and the hints of orange and coriander. Brewed with authentic Belgian yeast and Spanish orange peel, the beer tasted effervescent: we halfexpected it to start glowing. The Weekapaug Gruit stretches the definition of beer: it’s a weirdo. Brewed without any hops, Will instead uses European herbs, malted barley, wheat, and oats, combined with Belgian yeast to create a peculiarly satisfying, herbal beer. Brewmaster Will was quick to point out that unlike most beers, the Gruit is not soporific and produces a stimulating effect that will seem foreign to most beer drinkers, as well as pleasantly surprising to those who tend to nod off after a pint or two. Though Weekapaug Gruit was odd, Arquebus blurred the line between wine

BEN FICHERA

and beer. Technically a barley whine, the sweet, strongly alcoholic Arquebus is like a desert wine crossed with a light ale. CBC uses local honey and wine grapes to prepare the brew, and then sets it aside to ferment for almost a year. The complex flavor is definitely not for everyone, but the novelty and overall taste is worth the plunge for the more adventurous.

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BEN FICHERA

The Seasonal Offerings Not afraid to be seasonal with their beer offerings, the Cambridge Brewing Company currently features two pumpkin-based brews. Their golden-orange Great Pumpkin Ale packs an unmistakable pumpkin flavor derived from the 150 pounds of locally-grown pumpkins added to each batch. The strong pumpkin undertones, augmented by a selection of autumn spices, make the Great Pumpkin Ale an unforgettable drink, as well as

CBC’s most popular pints. CBC’s Gourd of the Rings (also known as Bière de Gourd) combines the popular autumnal flavor and the quality of Belgian ale. The pumpkin flavor in this beer is not too overpowering and the secondary flavors of ginger, black pepper, and fresh orange drown out any bitterness. If pumpkin beers are your thing, the Brewing Company is holding a pumpkin beer festival this Halloween. Microbreweries from around the Northeast will send their strangest gourd-based beers to CBC–we were most impressed by the promise of a pumpkin-flavored malt liquor. Like many microbreweries, CBC has variety and quality–but what stand out at the Cambridge brewery are the funky, outof-the-ordinary brews. The creative touch makes the Brewing Company’s menu outshine many of its peers. It doesn’t hurt that the beer you are served comes directly from the vat it’s just been brewed in and most pints are only $4.50. The familyfriendly restaurant feel may make college kids uncomfortable at first, but if you’re looking for something a cut or two above your average beer, Cambridge Brewing Company has got you covered. O Cambridge Brewing Company is located at 1 Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA amd is open for lunch and dinner Mon-Sat and brunch and dinner on Sunday. October 27, 2008

THE OBSERVER

31


POETRY AND PROSE

The American Disease BY

Q

MICHAEL GOETZMAN

nothing that could be done, and construction began the day she died just one month ago. “They sure put that wall up quick,” I said as a rock began to

uickly pushing the knot of my feel like driving at all; it was enlivening. swell in my throat. tie to my Adam’s apple, I nearly Businesses, houses, trees, blended by me. “It’s really too bad,” the agent feigned choked but didn’t have time. I An hour passed with astonishing alacrity. sincerity. “We could be selling this place for was running late, really late. And if there is Eventually I was shaken from my dawdling plenty more had they held off construction one thing I’d learned since I’ve been work- by the sensation of déja vu; the scenery of a month or two.” Extending her hand with ing it’s that it’s better to call in sick than ar- a certain neighborhood seemed potently fa- an enthusiastic affect she said, “I’m sorry, I miliar, like a place I once visited in a dream. didn’t catch your name.” rive late. “Business men get up when the stock market gets up,” my boss Once enveloped by a canopy of purple jacarandas, says, “and that’s at 9:30 the cellar now stood in the corner of the yard, exposed, A.M!” Racing to my car, I an anachronistic image, like a fossil in metropolis. reversed out of the garage and flew headlong onto the street. “I’m not going to The car seemed to slow itself, voluntarily, “Tom. Pleasure to meet you,” I make it,” I thought. Glancing at the digital to the side of the road. From the passenresponded, forgetting her name almost as clock on the dashboard,—10:43 A.M.—I ger window a sign in the grass read: FOR soon as the harsh waves of her voice broke slowed the car to a less hazardous speed. SALE: three bedrooms, three baths, pool. upon my ears. She was irreverent; her arms Open House 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. There would be no work today. darted from her torso cavalierly, pointing I had to sit for a second. News of With a sigh, I loosened my tie and about the house that I already knew so Mrs. Sinclair’s death had reached me on a eased into my seat. Drifting down the well. But what was I expecting from her? busy day at the office about a month ago, street, I saw my drowsy neighbors goShe didn’t know its real value. and I didn’t, wouldn’t, let it sink in. But ing about their morning routine and was Excusing myself, I walked the once imbued with a peculiar sense of freedom. sitting in clear view of her garden with the vast expanse of the backyard, trying to “A day off,” I said aloud, “How exciting.” FOR SALE sign hanging over my car, it hit brush off the imposition of the metro wall And with these words, the day seemed to hard. And as the sun beat down through and the clamor of steel beyond it. Among open before me, as if I had uttered some the windshield, I thought “Summer’s on its what few plum trees remained was the door secret password. I couldn’t remember the way,” and let the morning’s heat coax me to Mr. Sinclair’s cellar. Once enveloped from my seat. last time I had driven withby a canopy of purple jacarandas, it now Walking through the house, I noticed out a destination. stood in the corner of the yard, exposed, much had changed in the twenty years I It didn’t an anachronistic image, like a fossil in mehad been there last. The front yard was tropolis. With ivy intricately sewn along its rife with weeds, the once crowded sides and cracked white paint revealing its bookshelves that lined true brown color, the thin rectangular door each room were beckoned, just as it had when I was a child. empty, and the city had annexed Placing my hand on the cellar’s lock, I part of the back recalled looking from my bedroom window yard—replacing onto a summertime tableau: the sun’s heat the trees I used to rippling over the old street, Mrs. Sinclair at climb with a conwork in her well cultivated garden, clearcrete wall. The real ing “the damned parasitic sprouts!” (as she estate agent informed called the weeds) with a vigor peculiar for me that the wall was an older woman battling arthritis. On her necessary for the metro hands and knees, nose to the ground, she line now running through seemed to take pleasure in scanning her the neighborhood. She prized rose beds for traces of some sly also said that Mrs. Sinclair seedling. had vehemently opposed I’d often bring my sister Maddie across the idea, threatening to sue the street to greet Mrs. Sinclair as she the very city she had raised cursed the weeds that dared grow in her CC her daughters in. But there was garden. “Weeds are flowers too, once you

32

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October 27, 2008

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get to know them,” my sister Maddie would say, reciting a Winnie the Pooh story I’d read her the previous night. Mrs. Sinclair would struggle to her knees to pat her on the head, appreciating the sentiment from such a young girl. She and her husband, having had three girls, all grown and married, loved my younger sister’s company because she reminded them of their vivacious daughters. Often after school I would take Maddie’s hand and walk to their pool (one of the few in town) where she would swim with children from the neighborhood. Mrs. Sinclair, aware that I was reluctant to leave Maddie alone, especially around other children, assured me that she would watch over her and make sure that no one teased her. “Maddie, Maddie, blind as a bat-ie...Maddie, Maddie, blind as a bat-ie...” The cadence alone, to this day, is enough to rasp my spine. Despite my best efforts, I will never forget those words that spewed from Bert “the Hurt” O’Toole’s mouth across the playground towards my sister. I had wanted so badly to the wrap my whole self around her ears and, at the same time, break Bert’s bucked teeth. I’d end up doing neither. “She’s blind not deaf, you fuck!” I’d shout back in a futile rage—trying to make him realize what he’d done. But my words, as usual, were as harmless as Maddie herself. Of course he knew she was blind and not deaf, everyone knew. On the way home, grasping Maddie’s hand, I’d laugh, I’d tell her that she was lucky she couldn’t see his face, after what I did to him. But no matter how many tales of O’Toole’s slow and painful demise I fabricated, I couldn’t stop the sobs audible through the thin wall connecting our bedrooms. Mrs. Sinclair knew that her home was the only place Maddie felt truly safe— where the overwhelming din of the world lulled for a moment. Swimming around, weightless, Maddie would venture to the deep and revel in her own bravery. “Are there any sharks out here?” she would shout. And Mrs. Sinclair would come to the edge of the pool, “No, dear—only the

friendliest of fish.” While Maddie swam, I would help around the Sinclair house. Their home was not nearly as kept as their garden, but that didn’t matter much to me. Busying myself by organizing their garage, I would marvel at the awesome mass of antiques they had tucked away; I would pretend to be an archaeologist, dusting, arranging, and studying artifcats of a distant past. Every so often, Mrs. Sinclair would look for me amongst the dust and, finding me, would stay to tell of a curious artifact that shook a

strength of an undercover spy and take a picture of Mr. Sinclair treading languidly to and from his cellar. I rarely saw or spoke with Mr. Sinclair, for he was an elusive and mysterious man who spoke in terse sentences. But somehow, despite his austere exterior, I knew he felt deeply. At his core, he seemed a man in love with life, but perhaps all too aware of language’s inability to impress upon others his ardor. Infinitely frustrated, I think he appreciated those who found words that came close to elucidating his remarkable feelings, for he sought but ultimately failed to describe them himself. I had a sense of this because he kept the words that resonated in him hand written on little pieces of paper; they covered every wall of his study. Among the many that were tacked about, I remember an unassuming piece of paper that read: The American disease— and I’m quoting someone I can’t recall—is forgetfulness. A person or people who cannot recollect their past have little point beyond mere animal existence: it is memory that makes things matter. -William Least HeatMoon

Of all the quotations, I liked this one the most, because I thought it funny. I later learned that the correct term PHOTO BY JIM HESSION was “ironic.” Taking slumbering memory of hers. the quote from the bookshelf one day, I “Oh my,” she said on one such octhought of asking Mr. Sinclair about it— casion, taking the camera carefully into about whether he found it funny too. But her fragile hands. “I remember when Mr. he came to me first. Sinclair got this for Marianne. He hoped He came to tell me he wasn’t well. I so much that she would share in his love remember thinking it curious that a man of photographs and gave her this camera whom had barely made an effort to notice one day, just,—out of the blue! You should me was now seeming to confiding in me. have seen their eyes bloom as she opened He told me he had cancer and, sitting bethat box. Oh, he simply delighted in her fore him, I let fall the damp piece of paper taking pictures around the house!” from my hand. Involuntarily, my lips parted Afterwards, she generously lent me the and my eyes swelled creating that singular, Pentax camera with all its various lenses, childlike expression of utter bewilderment. and I soon captured every blade of grass It was the first time he had spoken to me. and every fallen plum in her majestic backGazing wistfully at the paper on the floor, yard. Sometimes I would even summon the he said calmly, “It’s spreading.” October 27, 2008

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33


Ma aro ab dir In the days that followed, I still walked Maddie to the Sinclairs’ home, but I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t run into Mrs. Sinclair with his secret scrawled across my face, made manifest in every movement I made. I didn’t know if he had told her yet, and I dreaded the moment that I might buckle in front of her, under the weight of his disclosure. So I stayed away. From my window one morning, as every morning before, I was greeted by the familiar summertime tableau: the sun high and warm, the trees blithely swaying, but something was amiss. Mrs. Sinclair wasn’t in her garden. Days passed and could be measured by the length of the weeds that began to obscure her flowers. Refusing to take visitors, she locked herself in her home—a tomb of artifacts. Summer, too, had locked itself away, and in the autumn of our young lives, Maddie and I moved across town to attend St. Matthew’s Preparatory, a school “more conducive to Maddie’s condition.” I would never see the Sinclairs again. And as the years passed, my memories of them seemed to fade—a distant episode, my summers at the Sinclairs’. Not having heard about the Sinclair’s for so long, my heart swelled imagining Mrs. Sinclair’s fight to save her yard. She did so love her forest, and the man in the cellar within it. Remembering where I stood, I coerced the rusted lock and pulled lightly on the delicate door. It seemed, at first, as if the ivy itself was struggling to keep the inside of the cellar a secret. Thick with cobwebs, the cellar had a dusty, almost alien, atmosphere. Boxes of faded photos, each meticulously labeled, lay among the shelves and, when moved, left their semblances amongst the dust. Twisting a lone bulb into its place, dim light cast itself upon a piece of paper with Mr. Sinclair’s writing. It was the same tattered piece of paper I had held before receiving his secret. Below it, I read with a smile, “Tom, give this room a good dusting.” Clearing the webs, I stepped in further noticing a much smaller room that bore in it something that I hadn’t expected—some-

CC 34

THE OBSERVER

October 27, 2008

thing that would link the former cellarkeeper and the new. It revealed a common interest that was never mutually explored and an instrument that would allow us, in our notoriously calm and contemplative way, to make up for lost time. A photo enlarger, bottles of developing chemicals, yellowed pieces of photo paper, and rusty instruments were waiting. Unlike the Sinclair home, the cellar was as tidy as could be. Each instrument in its right place, there for Mr. Sinclair to call upon. With them, he developed images that gave expression to those singular experiences language could not interpret. His struggle, his inability to express himself using words, was a struggle we shared, for I was never able to assail Maddie’s tormentors, never quite able to find those few comforting words. Shuffling through his photographs, dozens stood out because I couldn’t place them. One image in particular drew my focus; in it, Maddie and I held plum pits in our palms and had glistening pulp all over our faces. I willed the moment to the forefront of my mind—strained against the fog that obscured my recollection, but there was nothing. Robbed, I thought, a little surprised. I had been robbed of a memory and the naive belief that somehow, somewhere, my memories were safe. Forgetfulness had laid its insatiable fingers upon my very own reminiscences, each invaluable yet fading like a strip of negatives exposed to sunlight. Blowing dust from a stack of pictures Mr. Sinclair had taken, I saw not only his three fey daughters clad in frill and puff, but the reason behind his coming to me that long summer day. Faced with the prospect of losing the memories and, with them, the well of emotion he’d built over his lifetime, Mr. Sinclair needed someone to secure the memories he had, that he owned, and that are here in the heart of the cellar. “It’s spreading,” he had said. It had spread. The American Disease. But we had the antidote in the cellar. Stepping outside, I met with the ingratiating real estate agent and saved her the trouble of feigning any more enthusiasm. “I’d like to buy the house,” I told her.

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After work the next day, I brought Maddie through the house with my arm around her shoulder as she felt about, caressing the dirty

breathing in through her

Sinclair’s

OBSERVER PHOTO ARCHIVES, 1984

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next to it. Maddie traced their names on the headstones, and I pulled up the weeds around Mr. Sinclair’s nose, grave, smiling seeing that none dared threw her head sprout from Mrs. Sinclair’s. We left a picback—her face towards the sun. ture on the grass before their tombstones; Something familiar in the scent made her all three of their bubbly girls, cartwheeling artifacts and the start—flowers and chlorine. She plunged in unison. tired walls. Unsure of where she her foot down quickly and returned it in Each day after work I tread Mr. was, she tried to wheedle, demand, and, slow motion, letting each droplet trace over Sinclair’s path to the cellar. Within, I all else failing, tickle it out of me. But I her. Turning to me, she smiled, and her remove layers upon layers of dust and, in couldn’t let her know, not just yet. eyes were radiant. time, hope to expose layers of memory— “Not very PC, Tom—forcing a blind I took Maddie around the backyard reminiscences lost in the cobwebs but woman to bump around and guess where not yet telling her of the cold monolith soon to be recovered in hues as vivid as she is.” that severed the Sinclair’s serene forest. I those pictures I’ll fashion with his enlarger. I laughed; not because of her teaswanted no change to render her image of Braving the ‘American Disease,’ I’ll attempt ing, but because she referred to herself as the house any different than it was when to preserve our experiences, make them a “woman.” It sounded ridiculous in my she was eight, wandering about the yard’s tangible, lasting,—in memoirs that take the head. “My little sister—a woman? Hah!” fruit trees. Placing a plum in the palm of form of photographs. But it’s so. She is Memories of growing Placing a plum in the palm of her hand, up at the Sinclair house, nearly 28 now. It occurred some vivid and some not her fingers gracefully enveloped it, to me that, when yet recovered, continue our and I watched her remember. we were young, friendship and make the she hadn’t spent as much time in the her hand, her fingers gracefully enveloped old house, the peculiar cellar, and the dusty house as I had; and taking her hand as I it, and I watched her remember. artifacts worth holding on to, for as the used to, I brought her outside, to the edge That evening, Maddie and I went tattered piece of paper read, ‘it is memory of the pool. She closed her eye lids and, to Mrs. Sinclair’s grave and found Mr. that makes things matter.’ O

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October 27, 2008

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35


CAMPUS Like Trees?

Come kick it at Climatefest ‘08! Free entertainment, free food, and free information on reducing your carbon footprint Wednesday, October 29th, 7-10:30 p.m., Hotung Cafe

police

blotter

Sunday, October 12th

If you only eat plants...

check out the vegetarian food festival in Boston with food, speakers, chefs and exhibits! at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center Saturday, November 1st, 10 a.m - 6 p.m.

Students living in Latin Way were rudely pulled from dreams of lollipops and leprechauns at 3:28 a.m. when a fire alarm went off in the building. Tufts Police investigated the activated alarm and determined that the cause was excessive steam from a late night bather. During their stay in Latin Way they also noticed another alarm in the system. A knock on the suspect room revealed a student sleeping on the floor while his very own smoke detector was nestled cozily on his bed. The student explained that the detector was making noises while he was trying to sleep, so with disregard for his own life, he removed it and set up camp on the floor. Monday, October 13th

At 2:13 a.m. officers encountered a curious individual. The character was stumbling around barefoot in an intoxicated manner with an unknown liquid on his clothes. He was also, interestingly, covered in leaves and grass. Upon questioning, officers learned that he had been drinking at a mysterious “warehouse.” The environmentally decorated suspect was checked out and released by TEMS. Sunday, October 19th

Students in Lewis Hall required police presence at 1:15 a.m. to handle an intoxicated and combative male on the 4th floor. An ambulance was called, but the student refused medical attention. However, as a result of his belligerent nature and inebriated state, police placed him under protective custody and he was transferred to the Medford Police Department. Note: Protective Custody is not as cool as an arrest. It is essentially when the police babysit you because you are too out of control to hang out with big kids. It stipulates a minimum of four hours of supervision.

—Illustrated and Compiled by Ryan Stolp

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THE OBSERVER

October 27, 2008


Natalie Selzer

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