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DECEMBER 8, 2008

Featured Articles

FEATURE | The End of the Road: The Sorry State of America’s Infrastructure


America’s Eating Disorder


Boston’s Best Bread

5 22


Misogyny and Vampirism—hot


“Durar,” by Haley Ousley

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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Editors tors and Leadership eadership

December 8, 2008 Volume CXVII, Issue 9 The Observer, Since 1895


Mike Snyder yder


Marysaa Lin Daniell Rosen


Julia Ivanova vanova nova Caitlin n Schwartz hwartz


Alexandra Siegel ARTS EDITORS

Lauren Mazel Will Ramsdell




Things Fall Apart: The Slow Death of America’s Infrastructure, by Jake Stern

5 6 8

America’s Eating Disorder: The Obesity Epidemic, by Peter Radosevich Constructive Alternatives to a Struggling Job Market, by Emily Johnston What Comes After W?, by Jennifer Dann-Fenwick



Crystal Bui Katie Christiansen CAMPUS EDITOR AND ART DIRECTOR

Ryan Stolp

10 The “Twilight” of Feminism?, by Marian Swain 11 The Elephant Hasn’t Left the Room Yet, by Alexandra Siegel 12 Is it Really Our Responsibility?, by Brendan Johannsen



Michael Goetzman Micah Hauser

18 The De@th of Creativity Online, by Kathryn Myers and Will Ramsdell 18 Devin the Dude Lands in Boston, by Ryan Stolp


22 Breaking Bread in Boston, by Lauren Lee 24 An Oasis in Cambridge, by Katie Christiansen


Campbell Kliefoth

Poetry and Prose


25 Work, by Gideon Jacobs 26 Durar, by Kathryn Robinson

Matthew Koulouris CHIEF COPY EDITORS


Kristen Barone Melissa Jonnes

17 Editorial: A Semester to Remember? 21 The Adventures of Petey & Chuck: A Comic Strip, by Ryan Stolp 28 Campus, by Ryan Stolp


Karen Andres Joshua Aschheim



Nathaniel Jonnes Marcelo Norsworthy EDITOR EMERITUS



Kathleen Boland Matthew Diamante Hannah Freeman Jake Green

RYAN STOLP Lauren Herstik Emily Johnston Lauren Lee Ian MacLellan

Kimberly Chuang Jennifer Dann-Fenwick Isaac Freeman Gideon Jacobs Angela Lam James Mackenzie Anna Majeski Brian McLoone Catherina Nakajima Sophia Pack

Kathryn Myers Haley Ousley Peter Radosevich Elizabeth Roberts Kathryn Robinson Lorrayne Shen

Emily Roitman Michael Schecht Sam Sherman Jake Stern

Thomas Sutherland Rachel Zar




Things Fall Apart America’s roads, tracks, and bridges are rusting away. How will our children guzzle gas? BY JAKE



ransportation infrastructure has crisscrossed the vast territory of the United States since the Industrial Revolution, but for quite some time now it hasn’t been holding its weight. Over the past 40 years, while the US economy has gone through booms and busts, little of our infrastructure has changed. We remain largely dependent on automotive transportation, and we have yet to invest seriously in any viable alternatives to cars.

Not only are cars still the principle form of transportation within this country, but the system of roads upon which they are driven is crumbling. Furthermore, our nation’s rail system is more unreliable and inefficient than ever. Does this faulty infrastructure indicate negligence or lack of execution on the part of the Army Corps of Engineers or any of the major contractors who have worked under government contracts? Probably not. Rather, the blame can be placed on short-sighted legislation, questionable urban planning, and underfunded transit projects at both a state and federal level. To be fair, the United States differs from European nations whose transit systems are touted as models for our own evolution. America developed its infrastructure at a time when the automobile was reaching the height of its popularity. As such, it

hardly seems fair to blame Eisenhower for implementing the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. In fact, the Interstate Highway System that has served this country well for five decades is still an important means of transporting goods and people. However, the system was never intended to handle the volume it does now. As our roads age, the US government continues to fill the Federal Highway Trust Fund with billions of taxpayer dollars to repair and fix interstates. According to Political Science Professor Kent Portney, this direct taxpayer investment is combined with revenues from the federal gasoline tax, that are specifically earmarked for this purpose. This is where the logic of the current system breaks down. Politicians and citizens at all levels have become increasingly insistent that the US should break free from its dependence on foreign oil. One would think that the best way to do so would be to reduce oil consumption by discouraging driving. However, every day more and more money is poured into a system that does exactly the opposite. The best way to dis-




De Dec D December eeccemb ember e 88,, 200 2008 008 00 RYAN STOLP

courage driving is to increase the price of gasoline until it becomes economically infeasible to drive. However, in lieu of forcing the American people out of their cars, state and local governments should provide a realistic alternative form of transportation. Indeed, most Americans drive each day for convenience’s sake, but millions do just the opposite. For example, every day in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco, millions of people use mass transit because it is a convenient alternative to driving. This potential for increased use of public transportation needs to be tapped into and brought to reality through increased funding. Until the recent Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act was passed in 2008, there was a serious lack of federal investment in rail travel. And despite the $13 billion promised to railways over the next five years, there is still a lack of investment in our nation’s aging rail system. For example, according to CNN, investment in highway projects in September 2008 totaled $4.4 billion, while only $2.7 billion in gasoline taxes were raised. This means the federal government incurred a net loss of $1.7 billion on highway projects in September alone. Does it make sense to continue funding a system that perpetuates America’s massive thirst for oil? Perhaps that same $1.7 billion could be spent in more useful ways. For example, as our highways continue to be renovated, there are fewer dollars available to fund the rehabilitation and safety-related projects that are more significant. Aging bridges and tunnels are falling apart throughout the United States; this outdated infrastructure jeopardizes the lives commuters in the US every day. In fact, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 25.4% of highway bridges in the United States were either structurally deficient in 2007, meaning they were not intended to support the daily tonnage they now do, or they were functionally obsolete, meaning they cannot safely accommodate the amount of traffic that currently passes over them. The tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis a little over a year ago should have inspired a massive repair effort, but no such effort was launched. Instead, governments are building new interchanges and constantly adding freeway lanes throughout the country, while the unsafe bridges and tunnels throughout our country go largely neglected. This marks a major error in the way our current system of roads and

highways is run. Although the government puts plenty of money into highway improvements, rail travel in the US remains under-utilized largely due to governmental policies. Many proposals for rail improvements and extensions have been sent to the federal government for approval, but few were approved, and even fewer were actually funded. One project that gained both approval and funding was a proposal for a high-speed train to run in between Washington, DC, and Baltimore. The Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area is home to more than eight million people, many of who commute between the two cities every day using highways due to the lack of a convenient alternative. This proposal, which was designed to create a different way to commute, would cut the hour-long, forty-mile trip between the two cities to a 20-minute commute. The new high-speed line is intended to reduce congestion, air pollution, gasoline usage, and new highway construction. It would also link the Baltimore-Washington International Airport to both Baltimore and Washington, providing equitable access to air travel for all citizens. The project gained approval in 2001, but no construction has begun yet. Construction has been delayed largely because the federal government has only agreed to provide $950 million of the expected $3.74 billion price tag. This leaves the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia searching for $2.79 billion. The State of Maryland, however, had a modest budget of only $23.8 billion in 2007. So, Maryland would need to use more than 10% of its annual budget in order to fund this project. This level of commitment from a state as small as Maryland and a municipality as small as DC is nearly impossible considering all of their other financial obligations. However, proponents of this project argue that the federal government should provide funding since it has the power to regulate interstate commerce. Rail advocates accuse the government of directing its funds into unsustainable areas, such as highway development, instead of more significant infrastructure change. Washington, DC, remains one of the most congested cities in the US, with the largest percentage of commuting employees, and still needs sufficient funding for a viable alternative form of transportation. A well-funded, well-placed project such as this could seriously reduce congestion in the

DC-Baltimore metro area while helping to increase the total number of commuters. Another major oversight pertains to the mass transit system in this country. According to the 2000 US Census, almost 60% of citizens live in cities of 200,000 or more with an additional 10% residing in smaller cities. However, a disproportionately small percentage of these people have access to a well-funded, reliable mass transit system. Indeed, most of the small-and-mediumsized transit authorities in the US have bus fleets but no trains. And although an effective bus system can certainly help to reduce congestion and air pollution, buses are still dependent on the same crumbling infrastructure as cars. Buses, except those with their own lanes or roadways, are just as prone to getting stuck in traffic as any other automobile, which discourages commuters from using them. Alternatively, subways, elevated trains,

While New Yorkers will gain a 27th urban rail line in 2020, many medium sized cities are stuck with little or no transportation options.


December 8, 2008



monorails, and some light rails are run on completely separate grids from the rest of traffic, which offers a true diversity of travel routes. For example, while the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s (MBTA) Red Line runs beneath Massachusetts Avenue for part of its route, it is completely unaffected by whatever traffic may be above it. The bus that parallels the Red Line route, however, is completely at the mercy of traffic lights, accidents and congestion. It is well established that urban rail systems are more efficient than buses at moving people from one place to another. So, why is there such a lack of investment in urban rail systems in the US? Financial concern is one reason that most municipalities prefer bus systems to rail systems. There is no additional infrastructure involved in establishing or adding to a bus system unless the city plans to run electric buses. Meanwhile, the average subway costs include boring the tunnels, which usually run under existing buildings or roadways, and laying the track, which must be electrified and building the stations, for which land must be purchased. In other words, it is not always economically feasible to build a subway, even though it might be the best transportation option. Federal policy has always favored the expansion of existing urban rail networks over the construction of new ones. This favoritism explains why New York City, with its 842 miles of urban rail length, is receiving federal funding for yet another subway

line which will run up Second Avenue just a few blocks from the Lexington Avenue subway. According to the New York Times, the new line, which is under construction now, has cost $3.8 billion already, and less than a mile and half of track has been completed between 96th and 63rd streets. So, while New Yorkers will gain a 27th urban rail line in 2020, many medium sized cities are stuck with little or no transportation options. American transportation policy needs to be re-thought and reconsidered. It is important that we start taking steps to redirect funding to more sustainable projects with long-term benefits. Bridges all over the country are being repaired, and highway ramps are being redesigned so that they will be safer and able to handle traffic more efficiently. The number of commuters traveling by rail is increasing as the price of gasoline goes up. The commuter rails of many urban areas, including Boston, are being expanded to serve more suburbs. Many metropolitan transit authorities are planning additional expansions, including Baltimore’s MTA, DC’s Metro, New York’s MTA and Boston’s MBTA. The proposed Green Line expansion into Somerville and Medford marks the conversion of these suburbs into more accessible, commuterfriendly communities. Although all of these moves are steps in the right direction, the US must face the prospect of significant infrastructure and budgetary reforms in order to better accommodate travelers in every possible sense. O

Not only are cars still the principle form of transportation within this country, but the system of roads upon which they are driven is g. crumbling.


December 8, 2008


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America’s Eating Disorder BY



n recent years, it has become clear that America’s proclivity for eating has begun to degrade the overall health of its citizens. Despite a healthcare system that vastly outspends other first-world industrialized nations (TIME reports that around 16% of the US GDP is spent on healthcare), the past three decades have seen a drastic rise in the number of overweight and obese Americans, both young and old. Two-thirds of adults are too heavy by common medical standards. By taking a look at history, we can create a better framework for understanding our current food dilemmas and the roles that individuals, the health care system, the food industry, and politicians in Washington have all played in the fattening of America. Before the 1970s, the US government paid farmers to manage their cropland, discouraging overproduction in order to keep prices at stable levels, a policy that had its origins in Roosevelt’s New Deal. In the early 1970s, however, American agricultural policy made a drastic shift in its approach. Earl Butz, the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States under Nixon, decided to redirect American farm policy to maximize production, encouraging farmers to plant “fence row to

fence row,” thus ushering in a new era of burgeoning food production in America. Along with the call to increase production came massive farm programs, with the federal government giving subsidies to farmers to continue overproduction and providing the money to fill the gap between the cost of agricultural production and the market price of the actual crops produced. Unfortunately, the consolidation of land parcels and increase in scale brought about by this new policy led farmers to grow monocultures of corn, soy, or wheat, since government assistance made it cheaper to grow one crop rather than diversifying into fruit and vegetable polycultures. Michael Pollen, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, notes that with the market flooded by inexpensive grain, the food industry needed new ways to utilize the excess of the cheap grain being produced. Thus they began feeding livestock with these same commodities, while also beginning to create new and artificial food products to sell to the American public. The result of these innovations was the cheapest food supply America had ever seen: spending on food per household has decreased almost ten percent since the 1960s. However, it has done so—arguably—at a significant cost to public health by altering our food choices in


our daily diets. While agricultural policy changes have shifted away from providing diverse, healthy foods for consumption, it simultaneously has solidified the American addiction to petroleum. While cars remain the greatest users of fossil fuels in the American economy, the food system racks up an impressive 19% of annual fossil fuel usage in America. So, while the American food system continues to focus on the maximization of production rather than of the promotion of healthier, more nutritious foods, society sees the negative effects not only in waistlines but also in an increasing dependency on foreign oil. Tufts is uniquely equipped to address these issues head on through programs sponsored by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. One such program is “Shape up Somerville,” a project aimed at partnering with education systems to both teach about nutrition and food choices, while simultaneously changing the offerings of these schools to give them an array of healthier eating options. Beyond tackling the problem of obesity, the Friedman School also promotes alternatives for food production that will help overcome problems currently faced by the American food system. The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, which is attempting to tackle the issue of providing sustainable, highquality local produce for local communities. While the focus of the program is within Boston, the program has also worked with farmers from over 80 countries, taking the tenets of sustainability and applying them on a global scale. The American food system is on a track that could continue to hurt citizens as well as the environment. Tufts has taken steps to combat these problems, but a public educated on the lack of sustainable food culture in America will arguably prove most effective at bringing about a change in the current American diet, allowing for the potential toimprove the lives of countless individuals. O December 8, 2008



Constructive Alternatives to a Struggling Job Market The Observer takes a look at three government-sponsored service programs BY



ufts University is known for developing a sense of service and community responsibility in its graduates. This motivation to do good has always directed many Tufts graduates into service organizations following graduation. These organizations, including Teach For America, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps, give recent college graduates an opportunity to create positive change in the world around them before continuing their academic careers or entering the workforce. This year, with the failure of the United States economy and record unemployment rates, entering the world of service following graduation may seem more appealing than ever to graduates. Service opportunities provide graduates with numerous benefits. Not only do they offer time off before entering the workforce or graduate school, but they also provide valuable and often life-altering experiences. Service organizations teach their volunteers numerous skills, ranging from gaining fluency in a foreign language, to establishing a public health clinic, to teaching high school calculus. The experience gained by volunteers enriches their lives while also making them strong candidates when applying to jobs or graduate school.

There are a variety of post-graduation service opportunities with a wide range of interests, goals, and skills. AmeriCorps is an umbrella government organization that links volunteers to domestic communities and programs in need. It gives its participants complete control over where and with what type of organization they want to volunteer and also only requires a ten-month time commitment. Teach For America is a program supported by AmeriCorps. It takes successful college graduates and places them in lowincome school districts to teach and motivate students. Following the completion of a teacher certification process, volunteers work in a host district for two years. Teachers remain in the same department for the duration in order help maintain a level of continuity. The Peace Corps is an independent federal organization dedicated to sending Americans abroad to serve communities in need and foster cultural interaction. It is a 27-month commitment that requires participants to move abroad and completely immerse themselves in a foreign culture. All three of these programs are extremely well respected and provide their volunteers with strong support networks, experience, and skills that last a lifetime.




December 8, 2008

AmeriCorps AmeriCorps is a network of hundreds of volunteer programs throughout the United States that was established by President Bill Clinton in 1993. In 2005, AmeriCorps had 74,689 members serving 62.4 million hours and a budget of $550.1 million. There are three main programs within AmeriCorps: AmeriCorps State and

National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). AmeriCorps volunteers serve for a period of 10-12 months, part time or full time. During their time of service, Corps members receive healthcare, training, an annual living allowance, and student loan deferrment. Following service, Corps members can receive a service award of $4,725 that must be put toward either college loans or graduate school. Otherwise, Corps members receive a $1,200 stipend. AmeriCorps State and National is a collection of local service programs where volunteers serve critical community needs. Some examples of the organizations that AmeriCorps State and National pairs volunteers with are: The Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Habitat for Humanity. AmeriCorps VISTA, founded independently in 1965 as Volunteers in Service to America. It provides full-time Corps members to community organizations and public agencies that create and expand programs designed to support low-income individuals and help them to become selfsufficient. AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time residential program for volunteers aged 1824. The NCCC works to strengthen communities while developing leaders for the future. Corps members work on direct team-based national and community service projects. Teach for America Teach For America was founded by Princeton graduate Wendy Kopp in 1990. Originally conceptualized as a corps of teachers for her senior thesis, Kopp’s program has expanded greatly over the past two decades. The Teach For America Campus Campaign Coordinator at Tufts, Katie Vogel, described the program as motivated by the disparities in educational equity. She noted that only 50% of students in lowincome communities graduate from high school and that only 10% go on to college.




Length of service

10-12 MONTHS



Monetary Compensation

Living expenses plus $4,725 for school or $1,200 stipend

Living expenses plus $6,000

Salary from School District

State, National, VISTA, NCCC

Education, Youth Development and Community Outreach, Business Development, Agriculture and Environment, Health and HIV/AIDS, Information Technology

Type of service

She explained that the Teach For America experience is a great way to make money and give back at the same time. There are 6,200 members in the 20082009 corps class. Upon entering the corps, these new members undergo a five-week, intensive training program to prepare them for the classroom. They are then placed in a low-income school in one of thirty Teach For America regions where they are hired directly by the school district. Corps members receive the same pay and benefits as any new teacher in the district. The Teach For America program provides a support network for all of the corps members in a given city and helps them earn their masters degrees. The Teach For America program provides graduates an opportunity to give back while advancing their careers. Being in charge of a classroom teaches strong leadership and organizational skills. There is also a large base of corporations that recruit new employees from the Teach For America network. Joining the Teach For America Corps is a very competitive process. In 2008, 61 Tufts seniors applied to the program. 19 of those 61 applicants were accepted, and 12 went on to enter the corps. Interested students apply during their senior year of college, but one can also join the corps later in life. There are four deadlines throughout the year for the online application. If one passes the initial screening, there is a phone interview and then an in person teaching interview before acceptance. Applicants invited to a final interview are able to indi-

cate their regional preference to be placed in as well as what grade level and subject they would like to teach. The Peace Corps Founded by President John F Kennedy in 1961, the Peace Corps has a longstanding tradition of international service. To date, 195,000 volunteers have served in 139 countries. There are currently 7,876 active volunteers. An independent federal agency, the Peace Corps has three official goals: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, to promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served, and to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Joining the Peace Corps is a twoyear commitment to international service. Corps members undergo an intensive language, culture, and service training for three months before departing for their region of service. The Peace Corps currently serves seventy-six countries. Applicants are able to rank their preferred regions of service from the choices of the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Applicants are also able to rank their preferred field of service. Currently, Peace Corps volunteers serve in the areas of: education, youth development and community outreach, business development, agriculture and environment, health and HIV/AIDS, and in-

Teaching grades K-12 (any subject)

formation technology. There are many benefits to serving in the Peace Corps. All volunteers learn a new language (which is beneficial for future jobs) and are immersed in a new culture. While serving, Corps members are able to defer their student loans and earn credit toward a master’s degree. providing additional evidence to students interested in subjects ranging from policy to health. They receive 48 vacation days for their two years of service, are supplied with a living allowance, and receive medical and dental benefits that last for up to 18 months following their service. Upon their return, Peace Corps alumni receive $6,000 and have one year of noncompetitive eligibility for employment in the federal government. There are also numerous graduate schools and corporations that recruit from the Peace Corps.. With these various incentives, the Peace Corps is a great opportunity for students with a desire to experience living abroad while serving communities in need. With the failing economy and high unemployment rates, there is no better time for graduates to consider service opportunities instead of graduate school or entering the workforce. There are many options available to suit a variety of interests, and all of the programs provide great life experience and networking opportunities for the future. Service organizations provide graduates the opportunity to improve their chances at getting a job or into graduate school, better their lives, and serve others, all at the same time. O December 8, 2008



What Comes After W? BY JENNIFER



ith the recent election of Barack Obama, a natural question arises: Will Obama’s mantra of “change” apply to his foreign policy? Obama will inherit two wars in the Middle East, a mounting terrorist threat, an unstable nuclear Pakistan (with a particularly ungovernable tribal region along the Afghan-Pakistani border), unfinished nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea, the ever-persistent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a defiant Iran, and an increasingly unfriendly Russia. How will President Obama deal with these issues differently than President Bush? What will be his biggest challenge? Professor Malik Mufti, Director of the Tufts International Relations program, explains that President-elect Obama’s biggest challenge in Iraq will be bringing the war to a responsible end. He will have to weigh huge domestic pressure to bring the troops home against the danger of creating regional chaos in Iraq. As a candidate, Obama garnered a lot of support by promising to get America out of Iraq. Mufti believes Obama now has to reconcile his current promise to remove troops within 16 months with reality and create a “nuance approach” that will allow the US to leave quickly and responsibly. Obama has laid down some general principles that will guide his foreign policy, such as talking to rogue states without preconditions, withdrawing from Iraq, increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, and rebuilding alliances. However, this still leaves Obama a lot of leeway with his decisions, and it is still unclear how an Obama administration will conduct foreign policy. George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker, explains this ambiguity, saying “Foreign policy isn’t really under the President’s control. He’s at the mercy of events.” As such, rather than predicting what the “Obama Doctrine” will be, perhaps it is more useful to look at the Bush



December 8, 2008

administration’s foreign policy legacy and the environment that Obama will inherit. By examining the impact of Bush’s policies and where current global tensions lie, we might predict which issues Obama will have to deal with during his term. Shortly after September 11, the administration wrote and released the Bush doctrine, which has been President Bush’s guiding foreign policy principle ever since. It emphasizes that America is fighting global terrorism through both states and networks, that pre-emptive action is necessary to effectively combat terrorist threats, and that America should act independently without the binding, sluggish effect of global bodies. It also emphasizes that America’s bold successes will encourage allies and discourage enemies and that democracy plays a key role in fighting these global threats. Philip Gordon, one of Obama’s advisors who is also involved with the Brookings Institution, argued that “the War on Terror amounts to both poor analysis and poor strategy. It is poor analysis because it lumps together diverse threats that are often rooted in local squabbles… It is poor strategy because the ‘war’ forces these enemies together and prevents America from exploiting internal rivalries.” President Bush’s war in Iraq, a prominent feature of his War on Terror, constitutes much of his foreign policy legacy. America preemptively attacked Iraq in 2003 under the impression that this move would best protect the United States from the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that Saddam Hussein supposedly was hiding. However, no such weapons were found, and links between Saddam’s government and al Qaeda were discovered to have been blown far out of proportion. The war has raised doubts about the merits of preemption, and Obama’s administration will

be less inclined to attack another country pre-emptively and without the support of other countries. The U.S.’s increased unpopularity is something else Presidentelect Obama will need to address, though the goodwill and new tide of friendliness produced by his election will be an advantage. According to CNN, the US government reported that 4,200 American military personnel have been killed since the invasion. According to Iraq Body Count, a

What will the world look like for President-elect Obama and his new foreign policy team? Rather than predicting what the “Obama Doctrine” will be, perhaps it is more useful to look at the Bush administration’s foreign policy legacy and the environment that Obama will inherit. Obama as the situation there deteriorates. The Observer detailed this trend in the October 8th issue. More troops now lose their lives in Afghanistan than in Iraq, and the number of Afghani civilian casualties has skyrocketed in the past few months. This February, the number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan hit a post-Taliban high. The war in Afghanistan is often referred to as the “good war,” since there was significantly more evidence and support for the invasion. Even so, it is widely accepted that, as the situation in Iraq worsened, the US diverted attention, money and troops from Afghanistan. The New York Times notes that even during “critical moments in the fight for Afghanistan, the Bush administration diverted scare intelligence and reconstruction resources to Iraq.” Obama’s challenge will be to fix the perception among his government and the Afghani people that “the US does what it must in Iraq, while it does what it can in Afghanistan,” as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen bluntly stated. The NATO presence in Afghanistan will continue to be problematic both in the capacity and willingness of contributing nations to serve in the dangerous southern regions. Obama promises to face this challenge by LAUREN HERSTIK sending two military brigades to Afghanistan and refocusing efforts there group that relies on Western press reports instead of in Iraq. Besides committing to measure civilian casualties, approximate- more American troops, however, Obama ly 67,500 civilians have been killed as of will also have to engage in some delicate diApril 2007. It is also widely believed that plomacy with fellow NATO allies. He will the war has drawn terrorists to Iraq and has have to convince them not only to deploy even helped strengthen extremist groups more troops, but also to deploy them in the by increasing recruitment. While the situa- violent southern region. To add to his wortion in Iraq seems to be getting better due ries, top military commanders in Afghanito General Petraeus’s surge, the war is not stan say they need three extra brigades-not over, and America’s exit strategy may prove two-to improve the situation in Afghanito be the most important part of the war. stan. They say that more money for reconThe war in Afghanistan will also test struction projects is also necessary.

While Obama will be picking up the pieces of Bush’s foreign policy decisions in the Middle East, there are several aspects of his foreign policy that seem to put Obama in a good position. To prepare for China’s rising influence, Bush has cultivated closer ties with regional powers like Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam. Under Bush, the US, India, Australia, Japan, and Singapore all conduct joint naval exercises together. Recent elections in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have also brought proAmerican leaders to power. As David Frum states in an article in Foreign Policy, “Bush is bequeathing to his successor an Asian strategic environment much friendlier to the United States than the one he inherited.” On a similar note, the U.S.-India military alliance constructed by Bush will have far-reaching consequences. In 2007, the U.S. signed a deal with India that allowed the two countries to share civil nuclear material. India is also planning to buy U.S. fighter planes, warships and other equipment that could total up to $100 billion over 10 years. Sympathy shown by the US government for Indians after the recent terrorist attacks is indicative of closer ties between the two countries. It is impossible to predict the direction Obama’s foreign policy will ultimately take, but his challenges are materializing clearly as Bush’s term comes to an end. Obama has indicated that despite his idealistic campaign talk, he will pursue a very realist, pragmatic course of foreign policy. Much of the next four years will be shaped by consequences of what the Bush administration has already done, which may leave Obama with little room to formulate original policies. No amount of campaign promises will relieve the incoming administration of the current environment overseas, but as Obama unveils his new foreign policy team led by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, onlookers can hope for pragmatic, novel approaches to lingering global dilemmas. O December 8, 2008







wilight, the teenage vampire movie based on the first novel in Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular youngadult series, premiered this weekend to the delight of millions of starry-eyed female teens. Dozens of Facebook groups and fan sites attest to the obsession of Twilight’s fans. This giddy frenzy, however, is rallying behind an old-fashioned and misogynistic interpretation of gender roles and sexuality. Twilight idealizes self-destructive behaviors that are already incipient in its young female fans: withdrawal from peers to obsessively pursue a love interest, suicidal tendencies in the service of love, and failure to develop self sufficiency, both emotional and physical. I love a good fantasy as much as anyone; I’ve whiled away innumerable hours reading and re-reading Harry Potter’s exploits.Twilight bothers me not because it takes us into a fantasy world, but because it idealizes some of the worst tendencies of its fan base. The movie is fairly true to the book: both are engrossing and fast paced (I finished the book in two trips to Barnes & Noble). Bella Swan, a clever (if reserved) 17-year-old, moves to the small town of Forks, Washington, where she encounters the mysterious, and inhumanly beautiful, Edward Cullen. Inhuman, indeed—Edward is a vampire, and he is immediately ensnared by the uniquely tantalizing smell of Bella’s blood. However, Edward is a “vegetarian” vampire, choosing, with titanic will power, to hunt and drink animal instead of human blood. A romance develops quickly as both Edward and Bella find they cannot stay away from one another, despite the inherent danger in their relationship. Edward constantly fights an internal battle to resist biting Bella, drinking her blood, and turning her into a “monster” like himself, even though she would love nothing more than to live forever as Edward’s vampire wife. Bella is a helpless, weak and thoughtless protagonist. On an out-of-town excursion, she foolishly separates herself from her group and finds herself cornered, alone, 10


December 8, 2008

in the wrong part of town. Lecherous men encircle her, jeering and laughing at her panicked threats, until Edward swoops in out of nowhere with a perfectly executed deus ex machina (cue squealing fangirls). He orders her, “Get in the car,” and speeds off, fuming with righteous fury. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but let’s just say it isn’t the only time when Edward swoops in to save her. Bella is the modern incarnation of the damsel-in-distress, weak and dependent on a man to rescue her. The flip side of Edward’s vigilance and protectiveness toward Bella is that he is troublingly obsessed with her, and his obsession is made all the more uncomfortable since he is clearly the one with all the power in the relationship. He secretly watches Bella sleep and keeps tabs on her whereabouts, activities that sound more like those of a stalker than a boyfriend. At one point, a concerned friend remarks to Bella, “he looks at you like you’re something to eat.” Is Edward feeling love for Bella, or is it animal attraction and vampiric thirst? The dangerous and violent undercurrent beneath Edward’s feelings for Bella means she is powerless; the lamb staying alive only as long as the lion’s will-power holds. Meyer’s fandom swoons for Edward’s chivalric love, but in doing so they are also romanticizing a relationship where the woman is ultimately at the mercy of the man. At any moment his obsession could change from protective to predatory, and Bella would have no way to save herself. This kind of relationship teeters perilously close to abusive. Should Meyer’s teen fandom really be idealizing such an unhealthy, unbalanced and dangerous relationship?

Bella is consumed to a frightening degree with the tortured romance; she is “unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.” Edward is aware of how dangerous he is to Bella, and he is frustrated by her naive trust in him. In one scene he grabs her by the arm and drags her along behind him, angrily trying to make her comprehend, “I’m the world’s most dangerous predator... as if you could outrun me!” Even when he reminds her that he initially wanted to kill her and drink her blood, she quickly replies, “It doesn’t matter.” The idea of such an allconsuming, self-destructive love may seem romantic to Twilight’s legions of fans, but the narrowness and depth of Bella’s infatuation suggests that her entire identity consists of her borderline-abusive, one-sided relationship with Edward. This is not exactly girl power. Having only eyes for her beloved, Bella has no interest in making friends at her new school and engages with her peers only as minimally required by civility. Meyer presents a recognizable literary conceit: the new kid in school who can’t seem to relate to her “normal” peers. Fair enough, but what can Twilight’s adolescent readers and moviegoers take away from Bella’s story? Instead of awkwardly stumbling through the challenges of high school, she is oblivious to the world, single-minded in her focus on Edward. Bella’s life mission becomes convincing Edward to bite her so they can live


happily ever after on the fringe of society as vegetarian vampires. I don’t see this a viable or healthy alternative to the only slightly less obsessive focus some of us placed on college admissions. From first smoldering eye contact, pervasive sexual tension between Edward and Bella simmers. Dialogue is breathless and intense, the unspoken communication of meaningful glances and gasping breath overshadowing the couple’s minimal, and vapid, conversation. The movie theater frequently rang with laughter durments of especially smoldering ing moments act and electrifying hand grazes. eye contact r, the tension remains unreHowever, he only proffered release is one solved: the intense, and very brief, make-out session. Edward has to quickly pull himself away, fearing he will “lose control” and give in mpiric desire. This internal battle to his vampiric ance reads like a metaphor for of resistance ual abstinence, and the pervasive their sexual blood motif only heightens the sexual parallel. Edward must conquer his desire so Bella Swan can remain unbitten and virginal; as pristine as her symbolic last ella may make witty jokes and name. Bella ickup truck, but Stephenie Meyer drive a pickup ultimatelyy presents her as the archetypal male, a vestal virgin, dangerously weak female, temptingg and in need of protection. But, d, she is at the mercy of her proin the end, tector. h Twilight,t Stephenie Meyer has With obviouslyy created something that speaks to youngg women. Edward Cullen is ire; he lures in teen fans the way resistible; he lures in Bella. Twilightt is essentially girl porn. n. Girls swoon at Edward’s chivalry andd unfaltering loyalty and sigh ight when he righteously fights with delight a’s honor, ignores the flirtatious for Bella’s advancess of other girls, and serenades he piano. His good manners and her on the ing dedication are admirable unswerving traits forr a male lead or a man, but the hip Meyer creates between Belrelationship dward is troublingly unbalanced la and Edward and misogynistic. ogynistic. Hopefully, Twilight’s t female fans ans are sensible enough to wake up from their paralytic Edward-ecstasy for a moment oment to recognize the negative female stereotypes tereotypes Bella embodies, and they are supporting, before swooning completely. ely. O Marian Swain is a freshman who has not yet declared a major.

THE ELEPHANT HASN’T LEFT THE ROOM YET: OBAMA’S OBSTACLES AND THE BUSH LEGACY Although the vast majority of these midnight regulations are “subject subject to public inhe joyful cries of “Yes We Can!” put,” the Bush Administration worked to that echoed across the nation on evade this restriction by making the “reNovember 4, 2008 sounded like the viewing” process of these rules impossibly death knell of the Bush era. Since Obama’s short. For example, according to the New landslide electoral victory, all eyes have been Yorker, r the Interior Department completed on the president elect as the world holds its assessment of 200,000 public comments its breath waiting for change. However, as on the endangered species rules in only four Obama cautioned in his historic victoryy days. One congressional aide calculated that speech, “There will be setbacks and false this would mean that each staff member starts,” and the Bush administration is makinvolved in this ing this warning into a reviewing proreality. President Bush cess would had until November have to read 20 at midnight to through pass major reguthe comlations that will ments at be difficult for a rate of Obama to overseven per minturn, and Bush took ute. The New York full advantage of this Timess described this opportunity. This means hasty assessment of that not only will the new midnight regulations as Obama administration have “so little time, so much to confront the domestic and damage.” What is particuinternational damage of the larly disturbing about the past eight years, but they will Bush Administration’s now face these new obstacles as “last hurrah” is that they well. w ell. Obama will bring change to did not even pretend that the White House, but first there’s these regulations were a lot of housecleaning to do. designed to benefit the It appears that most of the American people. The policies Bush administration’s recent put forth by Bush’s “midnight “midnight regulations” would be regulations” clearly favor indusmore aptly described as “midnight try at the expense of the public WILL RAMSDELL and the planet. deregulations.” Some consequences of these new rules include: the effective Midnight regulations may be destruction of the Endangered Species Act, the most recent obstacle to Obama’s plans removal of safeguards that limit workers’ for change, but they are by no means the exposure to toxic materials, and the relax- most challenging. The biggest obstacle that ing of restrictions on companies that blow w Obama faces in making his various camup mountains to get at the coal underneath paign promises into reality is the economy. them. Other rules will allow “factory farms” Although the Bush Administration alone is to ignore the Clean Water Act, and make itt not to blame for the current financial criharder for employees to take family or medical leave. ...continued on page 21




December 8, 2008







ast week, the Observer published an article by a student activist meant to galvanize the student body into action to end genocide. Without question, genocide and other human rights abuses are horrific occurrences that mar human history. Recently there has been a widespread belief that it remains possible for the international community to rise up and stop the atrocities es of foreign governments. Regardless of the reprehensibility of certain events, however, wever, this belief is fundamentally flawed in its assertions and goals. In 2005, 5, the UN announced the adoption off a new concept—the so-called “Responsibility Responsibility to Protect” (or R2P)—as P)—as a basis for collective action on to be taken in the face of genocide, nocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes imes against humanity. By this principle, states have a duty to protect otect the lives and human rights of their citizens. If the state violates es this contract, the international community not only has permission, but an obligation, to step in and protect ect the endangered population. If we stop to consider the success of this ideal thus us far, however, it becomes clear that while the he world favors calls to action, there is littlee substantive follow-up. Darfur hawks laud the announcement of Susan Rice as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Rice has long advocated the use of a naval blockade or bombing campaign to force the Sudanese government to redirect its policies. It would be unwise, however, to look upon this appointment as anything more than continued lip service to the ideals of humanitarian intervention. Regardless of Rice’s opinions on the 12


December 8, 2008

matter, more moderate voices in the cabinet will likely object to any sort of more substantive action. A closer look at the current international response to Darfur lends credence to this prediction. In 2007, the UN announced the creation of UNAMID, a joint task force with the African Union, charged with the protection of Darfur’s civilian population. UNAMID AMID’ss mandate calls for up to 19,555 mili-

tary personnel, but as of August 31, 2008, only 10,337 uniformed personnel have been put on the ground. The force is also lacking essential military equipment such as helicopters, which have around the clock reaction time, perform essential reconnaissance and search and rescue missions, and resupply deployed troops. An NGO report from July 2008 suggests that India, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Italy, Romania, and Spain all seem well placed to provide helicopters to the UNAMID force, as they have all tra-

ditionally supported UN missions. However, none of the aforementioned states have provided any of the necessary machinery. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it’s clear that the international community lacks any sort of commitment to the R2P ideal. What remains unclear, however, is why they should value such an ideal in the first place. The notion that military force can play a decis decisive role in the prevention of violence stem stems more from idealism than hard military fact. Military interventions are costly, in eevery sense of the word. In the case of Da Darfur, it is likely that any offensive inter intervention force would encounter resista resistance from the formal Sudanese gover government and its military in addition to attacks from the Janjaweed militi militias, which are largely responsible for fo the current displacement in Darfu Darfur. The military wou would most likely encounter localized sskirmishes and well as a formal guerilla warfare as we resistance on the part of o the Sudanese military. Looking to the annals of history, an assumption of the inherent superiority of Western armies com compared to such resistance could lead to a sec second Somalia— a UN intervention in which 443 people were killed in the infamous Battle of Mogadishu. Following an intervent intervention, one must ask the fundamental que question: “What next?” Such a question is crucial, considering that a lack of planning gave rise to the Iraqi insurgency. Would we expect the current Sudanese government to step down? Would there be elections to appoint a new leader? The international community has an unhealthy history of solving humanitarian problems only to launch new ones. While Sudan’s economy would likely remain large...continued on page 21

James Mackenzie

Isaac Freeman

Thanksgiving in Chile: Photos by Angela Lam

Brittany Sloan

Brittany Sloan

photos by James Mackenzie


s the first half of the academic year draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the last three months. With the collapse of the financial system, the news that the United States has officially been in a recession since last December, the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and increasingly dire environmental prospects, it seems that this semester is one best forgotten. But in this age of turmoil and uncertainty, there were bright spots—The Observer going all glossy certainly stands out. In case you’ve had your head buried in the sand, here’s a review of this semester’s highlights: 1. After managing to miss the absence

of over $1,000,000 in student funds, the administration returned $700,000 to the TCU Senate. The Senate held several open forums for debate on how to distribute the funds, but as of press time, a decision has yet to be made. In a related matter, students were shocked to discover that Tufts owned a cabin in New Hampshire. 2. Underscoring the severity of the financial crisis, President Bacow predicted in a university-wide email that $36 million in budget cuts would be necessary for the next fiscal year. Because priority will be given to maintaining student financial aid budgets, Bacow instituted a freeze on salary raises


A Semester to Remember?

for faculty and raised the possibility of layoffs if the financial situation continues to worsen.

3. Despite the university’s problematic financial situation, Tufts managed to attract several high profile speakers. Erin Brockovich spoke on the importance of remaining dedicated to one’s dreams; Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Myers delivered a rousing stand-up routine to a packed Cohen Auditorium; United States Senator and former Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry gave a thinly veiled stump speech for then nominee Barack Obama. 4. The Tufts University field hockey team became the second team in Tufts history to compete in an NCAA championship game after managing to have an undefeated season. The last team to accomplish this feat was the women’s soccer team in 2000. 5. Incoming freshmen continue to be denied an opportunity to experience the library roof. Despite constant promises that the much-heralded reconstruction of the space would soon be complete, the project remains months behind schedule. The jury is still out on whether the new construction will be an improvement.


6. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, the events of November 4 are certainly worthy of mention. After the networks declared that Barack Obama would be the next president, hundreds of Tufts students celebrated in the Campus Center where an election night party hosted by the Ex-College was being held. Students also gathered for a midnight rally in front of Olin Hall, then proceeded to parade throughout campus. O

CORRECTIONS In our November 3 issue we forgot to credit a photograph in the bottom right corner of page 10 to Shani Scheiman. Sorry. In the Police Blotter on page 28 of the November 24 issue, we described an incident in which “a devastating defeat in a video game led a student to begin a destructive rampage. He kicked his door repeatedly, to the point that it cracked…” This was apparently an exaggeration. According to an eyewitness, “This student, in fact, only kicked the door once, and the door itself cracked, not the lock. In addition, the defeat was far from devastating.” Apologies. O

December 8, 2008





Constantine really pulled one over on the western world when he convinced everyone to trade bacchic revelry and masked, sylvan orgies for chastity and penance. Fortunately, we’ve got all the fun of a Massively Multi-Deity Pantheon piped into our cultural consciousness in the form of our own Massively Multi-Celebrity Proto-Religion. Think about it… Gods and Celebs share:

[Beauty that reflects the cultural perception of what beauty is] [Attention paid to familial ties and offspring] [At once perfect and utterly flawed] [Actual power over devotees] [Being “bigger than life”] [And, of course, prolific adultery] —Will Ramsdell

DEVIN THE DUDE My LANDS IN FaceJournal BOSTON LiveSpace™ The funeral dirge for creativity on social networking websites BY




he transition from LiveJournal to Myspace to Facebook has been a shameful watering-down of our creative influence over our internet social networking destiny. Still, the need to check in with the FB is so compelling that we find ourselves pecking at the keys like we have a nervous tic. But don’t take my word for it, just get on and see how many of your friends are just getting on to see how many of their friends are getting on—getting on facebook’s cold concrete interface. But hey, I’ll admit it, I did the whole trifecta and I’ve minorly stalked/whorishly commented with the best of them, and in my heyday, social networking was about more than text.



December 8, 2008





t might be his lyrics that keep Devin the Dude from emerging from the dank haze that that continues to hide him from the attention of the hip-hop world. While Snoop Dogg, Z-Ro, Juvenile and CunninLynguists have achieved more notoriety, Devin seems content to keep smoking his green and chasing freaky booty calls. And maybe that’s not the worst thing. Devin has a sound that is all his own, a storytelling flow akin to Loer Velocity, Kenn Starr, and Snoop Dogg that is uniquely unrestrained by the FCC censorship standards of radio broadcasts that more mainstream artists must contend with. Devin recently trekked up to the Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub for a cozy show in the downstairs venue accompanied by his group, the Coughee Brothaz,

{{LiVEJOURNAL}} § was the first big social networking site. You have your own page where you write a diary supplemented by photos. All your friends see what you choose to share— your “journal entries.” § Look, it’s not lyke you are just writing yo feelin’s and tellin’ stories, you’re working under pressure to entertain your whole entire social circle with your weekend rendezvous and photos. § Hottt: You got to create and project a crafted image of yourself. § <img src=“www.¬¬___sluthotzomgyall”> Remember HTML code? You completely designed your own page by encoding and encrypting. No limits. Background, text, link titles, colors, pictures—all media of the true social networking soldier. § I probably abused this feature in 8th grade when I changed my “comment” link to “holla back now” sassy. (minor ROFL) § “Before I knew my friends through their feelings, now I know them through their drunken photos.”(um, WTF right?) — not me... ttyl (l = never)

which includes Jugg Mugg, Big Hoss, T-Mac, and Rob Quest (one of the few blind rappers I know of). Crowds were not an issue, though the atmosphere felt like a Boy Scout alumni reunion, distinctly lacking those of the XX chromosomal persuasion. However, security seemed a bit tight for such an intimate show. I was OK discarding my empty cup before entering, having to pay for a coat check, and even being frisked, but I’m still a little sour that they took my pen. This inconvenience, however, was quickly eclipsed by the vibe of the audience. I stood comfortably just a few feet from the stage. The usual pushy assholes who stop at nothing to reach the stage were mysteriously absent or perhaps sedated by Massachusetts’ most recently decriminalized drug. In predictable stoner style—and Devin is a stoner—he moseyed onstage close to three hours after the concert started. He instantly elicited a salivatory response from the crowd with the big, fat blunt that he clutched between his fingers. Like a conductor’s baton, Devin directed the crowd with his weed-packed wand. In no time at all, it was lit (with a convenient lighter that was attached to his belt by a zip

Then, Myspace Semi-Artistic Scensterism®

cord) and passed around the stage. This quick sesh was a perfect compliment to the set list, which kicked off the show with various odes to Cannabis sativa. Promoting his newest album Landing Gear, we heard the melodious chorus to “Can’t Make it Home” (one blunt/ one more shot of Patron/ I’m



lit/ I can’t make it home) which, in concert, contained many more soulful harmony embellishments from Devin. I was impressed that his tar-filled lungs did not hinder his ability to throw in some harmonies. After the weed songs, a quick story about his sexcapades segued nicely into the lady songs, which were a little more unsettling. While Devin did preach equal opportunity lovin’ (he doesn’t discriminate between fat, skinny, white, or black), the fact that the crowd was singing along, even shouting “show her what her pussy made for,” made me wonder if I was in a room full of rapists or just among a particularly engaged audience. These new installments were a little extreme, even for Devin, and incredibly awkward in a concert setting. I still feel a little guilty for supporting an artist that holds such extreme views that run counter to my own. He ended with “Anythang,” one of few older songs he performed, that, while a little more positive than songs about an empty doobie ashtray or his busted Lacville ‘79, was a bit too downbeat for a finale. I would have cried for an encore, but alas, the T has an early bedtime. Seeing Devin the Dude doing his thing

Now, Myspace was, like, kind of this stepping stone thing between Livejournal and Facebook. Your page wuz portioned into sections and organized similar to Facebook, but again, almost everything was malleable a la HTML (HyPeRtExTMaRkUpLaNgUaGe!), although slightly less so than LJ (2kewl4skewl, Tom). Now, people commented directly on your page instead of responding to your creative output. Unless of course, we are to consider the shirtless, oblique, bathroom mirror reflection profile pic as creative output—which it totes is! Meh, the journaling feature, the “miniblog”, wasn’t so hot


Whatev, it was all about the sluttastic photos and music you expertly edited to exude your superkewl myspace persona.. The whole thing reeked of your you-ness from the moment that page opened. Or, at least, the you that you wanted to show people, and unlike Facebook, people often conveyed their scene-ass fantasy self rather than anything resembling reality…and we were so down. Plus, photoshopping your pics to make you look like a bad ass was way legit.


Yeah, URAQT but pastel pink page, flashing neon peach explosions with unicorns and strawberries and the care bears theme song mashed to the beat of Peaches. AwHellzyussss. B-TDUBZ: Whateva! Whateva! I roll with 12 gangs.


Pfffff red and black photoshopped montages with “I’m the New Cancer” emblazoned at the top. Techno like a lazer beam in your eyes. And don’t ever forget Myspace memes! Where do you think Pirates VS Ninjas came from? Myspace enabled users to entertain their friends with wit, 4realz u were xposed… …Lol. Just living my TTT lyfestyle ( Tight Typical Teen for those noobz out there) xoxoxox

Online no more!

December 8, 2008



on stage, staying true to his personality and quirky lyrical metaphors, was refreshing. He raps with a Mitch Hedburg meets Immortal Technique style. In “Lacville ’79,” he sings, “And my electrical rearview mirror don’t move like it supposed to/ even the objects in that motherfucker need to look closer.” Like a gentleman, he shook every hand thrust his way. Yet, in an age of constant one-up-manship in which naked college students are posted on news sites, it seems Devin has been similarly swayed to push the bar on the outrageous, explicit content of his lyrics. While all artists should develop and try new things, Devin’s extended flirtation with the borderline pornographic, the adult only, and the downright nasty is a bit much. He’s at his best working the crowd and, despite the crowd’s enthusiasm, his graphic interludes end up detracting from his act. Nevertheless, Devin is evidence that you can stay true to the game, if you let your personality shine through the haze. O

Putting Art under a Microscope L M





he eye of a sewing needle is about 4 millimeters long and .33 millimeters wide. That’s the width of a grain of table salt. With such dimensions, it’s impressive that one can even get a piece of thread through this tiny opening. However, it’s in the eyes of needles, pin heads, and match heads that Willard Wigan constructs his art. This middle-aged British sculptor creates microscopic masterpieces that are smaller than a period mark. He only works at night

when there are less distractions and static electricity. After carving his figures out of gold and grains of sand, he paints them using a hair from a fly (which he insists must have died of natural causes). One piece even features a tiny scupture standing on a human eyelash. Wigan can only work on his pieces in between heartbeats, as even the pulse in his finger could destroy his work. He even claims that he has accidentally inhaled his own art. His microscopic exhibit will tour the US sometime next year, but until then, check out An Eye on X, a British documentary chronicling his quest to sculpt a life-size Macolm X and another work on the head of a toothpick. O



The Man is stalking his peeps...’cause thats what friends do

Write something...anything!


Look at yourself (738,911,286) Watch yourself (2) Private comunique Molest! 15th prompt to COMMENT



Maybe the phrase “ Lifeforce suckage” is harsh, but come on, look at your typical (or atypical for that matter, not that they exist) Facebook page: two tone and neatly sectioned for your convenience. Clean clean clean. Like fast food, the sought after information and contact we crave comes quick and easy, but never sloppy. For a time, facebook was bombarded with fun, new applications that allowed a smidgen of personizability. But the new facebook shunted them into a remote tab called “Boxes.” No more stripper names or margaritas gifts to distract you from stalking Wall-to-Wall. Damnit. Now, we have to grant Facebook efficiency. Facebook events have revolutionized the way people gather and throw parties and concerts, but to what effect? Transparency and a false sense of security. But with the aesthetic chosen for you, and the only way to really express yourself through the textual “About Me,” . We might as well be communicating with friends like we applied to colleges—in ye olde analog ( Genuis, Mark Zuckerberg) Yeah, video-posts and photo tags are “hot new,” but the cold-old layout remains the irrepressible damper and indicator of the underlying issue that is, facebook is not the users’ social tool. Zuckerberg established his domination over your social network universe when he sold your information to help corporate interests pipe advertisements into your F-book sphere. Now we have to ask, how did we get here? Why has facebook triumphed? For the same reason that our Tufts walls are stale beige—neither stands out in anyway or has any aesthetic feature to fixate upon. If there is nothing to look at, there is nothing to hate. But there is also nothing to love. Welcome to the future of society in white and sky blue. The people spoke, and we asked for safe, easy, boring, and confining. The benefits? We can’t be who we are not, we can stalk people like never before, and we one social tool that can orchestrate our entire social life. These are the disadvantages too, actually. Those, and the sacrifice of the option to sculpt, with art, music AND word, the essence of our digital character. The people have spoken and they would rather have someone else speak for them. O

December 8, 2008

Continued from page 11... sis, years of deregulation under Republican leadership certainly did not help. The economy is the first issue that Obama has pledged to address as president, but it’s hard to see how he will be able to amass the funds to carry out his healthcare, environmental, and other plans while taking on this momentous task. Another obstacle that will not disappear on January 20 is the Iraq War. Obama has been received optimistically by many Iraqis who seem to accept the timetable for withdrawal that he proposed during his campaign. Furthermore, according to the New York Times, Obama’s election has had the unexpected effect of relieving Iraqi doubts about the United States commitment to leave Iraq. This does not mean, however, that withdrawal will be a simple task. The amount of instability in the region may pose challenges to bringing troops home. Furthermore, the volatility of Iraq and surrounding countries may continue to pose very serious foreign policy problems to the Obama presidency in the future.

Obama rose to power on a message of hope and change, but as he has repeatedly cautioned, enacting actual reforms will not be easy. The Bush administration left Obama with a host of domestic and foreign problems including a severely damaged economy and the foreign policy nightmares brought on by the Iraq War. Furthermore, Bush has been using his last days in office to put forth a great deal of damaging regulations that will be very hard for the Obama administration to overturn. That being said, just because sweeping change may not come immediately does not mean it’s not coming at all. A new president does not start with a blank slate but rather inherits the world that the last administration left behind. “Yes We Can” is not just an empty campaign promise, but it may take a while to turn into a reality. As we look toward Obama’s first days in office, it’s important to remember that, while a new Democratic president is moving in, there’s still an elephant in the room.

ly intact following any sort of intervention, our primary responsibility is to ensure the continued viability of the country’s government and its economy. Finally, we must consider our own wellbeing. The United States is currently engaged in two major long-term conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as a more nebulous Global War on Terror. Sudan has been a crucial ally in the War on Terror, and our government has a primary responsibility to ensure the safety of its own population. To what extent would economic or military intervention upset those efforts? I do not propose that humanitarian policies do not hold their place in the construction of foreign strategy. However, such policies must be weighed and considered along with other options, with great regard to long-term security and political goals. There is always room for debate, but it is unfair to say that our generation has a responsibility to end genocide. Rather, we must pursue thoughtful and responsible policy. That is our only responsibility. O

Alexandra Siegel is a sophomore majoring in International Relations.

Brendan Johannsen is a junior majoring in Political Science and German Area Studies.


December 8, 2008




Breaking Bread

in Boston




hen the selection of dubiously split-personality bagels and unnaturally spongy bread at Carmichael and Dewick leaves you longing for baked goods that you can really sink your teeth into, you know it’s time to head off campus. To further simplify and de-stressify your life, here is a guide to what are arguably the best bakeries Boston has to offer.

Flour Bakery and Cafe

If all the breakfast buns in the world were to duke it out for ultimate supremacy, there’s no doubt that the sticky buns from Flour would end up on top—leaving a swath of breakfast bun death and destruction in its wake. These sticky buns are the epitome of breakfast bun flawlessness, encapsulating the elusive perfect ratio of lightly sweetened bread, finely chopped nuts, and sticky sauce, making every bite a veritable joy. Unfortunately, it seems that every other Bostonian within a five-mile radius is also in on the wonder that is Flour’s sticky buns since they generally sell out by noon. Even worse for the typically laterising college student, the lines are out the door on weekends, and the buns sell out



December 8, 2008

even earlier on those days. Founded by one half of the Asian-fusion restaurateur duo Myers + Chang, Flour Bakery also contains within its pristinely adorable premises innumerable offerings of both sweet and savory delights. Their openfaced sandwiches (the tomato mozzarella and curried tuna in particular) make excellent light lunches that can be consumed on the go while strolling around Back Bay if the weather is agreeable. They also have a pizza, soup, quiche, and stuffed bread of the day which you can try when you wake up too late to catch the sticky bun madness. The dainty tarts, danishes, cookies, and other pastries are also effortlessly delicious without being overly decadent. The chocolate brioche is a perennial favorite, containing swirls of rich chocolate within layers of even richer brioche. If the chocolate croissant had a more eggy and chocolatey cousin, this would be it— and it would totally kick the chocolate croissant’s butt. On the other hand, a lighter alternative of the tart variety is the ‘Lusty Lemon Tart’ which

comes topped with a halved strawberry and is a good size to share (for your waistline’s sake…even though you might not want to share).

Ideally, bring a friend (or two) so you can sample a variety of baked goods without overstuffing yourself or burning a hole through your wallet as these delightful little pastries tend to add up quickly. Flour Bakery and Cafe is located in the South End of Boston at 1595 Washington St. and is assessable by taking the Red Train to the Ashmont station, followed by a transfer to Andrew Square Station, then riding on the 10 Copley Station bus to the E. Newton and Washington St. crossing.

Hi-Rise Bakery

Boasting a full range of specialty breads, pastries, caffeinated beverages, grilled-to-order sandwiches, and even wine, this indie bakery has it all and more. In full indie style, nearly everything is organic and locally sourced when possible. Hi-Rise may be an over-achiever in all respects, but its primary focus is the mind-boggling assortment of sandwich options scrawled in chalk all over the walls of the café/bakery. Every tasty creation is lovingly crafted using fresh ingredients and ultimately sandwiched between slices of their very delectable bread.

Aside from its sandwiches, Hi-Rise Bakery’s ever-changing glass display of pastries and cookies go above and beyond their lofty purpose of satisfying your sweet tooth. Their cookies can best be described as tasting homemade yet better, being nicely chewy with ample amounts of chocolate chips or whatever filling you happened to choose. On the opposite end of the sweet spectrum lay the pastries, which are equally crave-worthy with their buttery rich layers (do not miss the scones; there can be scrumptiousness in ugliness). The interior is quite cozy with the vast amount of baked goods lying around, but if you plan on eating in, be warned that the tables available are communal. The likelihood of sitting beside an relatively cool individual who happens to be a good conversationalist is just as great as sitting beside a parent and a screaming toddler. Be sure to choose your tablemates wisely when eating here. Hi-Rise is great for breakfast (latte and a breakfast pastry) and lunch (sandwiches!) but be careful of stopping for dinner as the sandwich-makers shut down at odd hours, sometimes as early as 4 p.m. And of course, as with many indie establishments, be prepared to deal with holier-than-thou indie

tunnel that you definitely do not want to pass up. Hi-Rise Bread Company is located at 208 Concord Ave. and is accessible by taking the Red Line to the Harvard stop and then the 74 Belmont Center Concord bus to the Concord Ave. and Huron Ave. crossing.

When Pigs Fly

Located close to Kickass Cupcakes (which is a prime example of what a great bakery is not), this pint-sized bakery offers a multitude of ever-rotating artisan breads and a selection of sweet treats. When Pigs Fly is also one of those excellent estab-


employee attitudes. So if you’re up for taking your chance on tablemates and dealing with possibly not-so-cheery service, there’s a perfectly tasty sandwich at the end of the


lishments where patrons are encouraged to sample the goods, ensuring one can try new things without the fear of being stuck with a behemoth of a loaf of bread. Case

in point: daily sandwiches. A loaf of Tuscan What lasted a full two weeks, whereas a load of Hog Heaven (cranberries, cinnamon, and granola) was gone after three days. When Pigs Fly stocks the basic (but no less amazing) sandwich breads such as sourdough, wheat, and pumpernickel along with an infinitely more interesting array of loaves such as chocolate (tastes like a brownie but looks like it’s on steroids), mango pineapple ginger sesame bread, and a mysterious ‘Jingle’ bread filled with rum soaked raisins, almond paste, cran-raspberries, and hazelnuts. The breads all possess a thin and wonderfully crisp crust, while the inside is thick and fluffy without being too airy (unlike the Styrofoam-like French bread in Carmichael/Dewick). The slices are pliable and have that slightly chewy artisan texture that is normally found in high-quality, high-end, and high-browed bakeries. Luckily for us, the pretension and snobbery is nowhere to be found in When Pigs Fly. When Pigs Fly is merely a stone’s throw away in Davis Square, so if you don’t want to pony up the T-fare to go downtown, spend it instead on delicious loaf of bread from this great little bakery. And do try to venture beyond the ‘regular breads’ because the more exotic loaves may just prove to literally and figuratively contain quite a few hidden gems. When Pigs Fly is located near Davis Square at 378 Highland Ave. O December 8, 2008



An Oasis in Cambridge A Massage at Inman Oasis Spa




o the best of my knowledge, massages are not a regular event for college students. A few jabs in the shoulder from a boyfriend or a foot rub from a girlfriend are the closest substitutes I can think of. However, the Boston area is rich with spas that provide an array of massages, from hot stone to Shiatsu, deep tissue to myofascial, so your poor significant other doesn’t have to deal with your smelly toes. Thankfully, my boyfriend realized that shoulder jabs are less than effective (more damaging perhaps) and decided to regale me with an hour-long massage session at Inman Oasis Spa in Cambridge. It is on the small side, tucked unpretentiously behind a bakery. However, it is anything but short on expertise and service. This little gem of a spa is located in, surprise surprise, Inman Square, which is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the Central Square stop on the Red Line. Admittedly, I walked down the wrong street for 10 minutes, but a simple search on GoogleMaps will yield correct and quick directions. My walk took place on a rather brisk day, but I was very pleased to find a number of coffee shops along the way, including a Starbucks and Carberry’s, as well as a Whole Foods; Carberry’s, as it turned out, was a wonderful stop for a quick chai and a scone. Upon arriving at the modestly-sized Inman Oasis, a friendly receptionist greeted me by name. What I soon learned was that everything is personalized, from the massage sequence to the type and amount of lighting. When I met my massage therapist (not 24


December 8, 2008

masseuse), Phil, I was a bit taken aback. He was full of piercings and was rocking a ponytail. I have never had a male massage therapist before, but he was the epitome of politeness and expertise, addressing problems I didn’t even know I had (cranky scapules? Who knew?). The massage began with the normal back work, but, oh, did it feel good. My second home on the ground floor of Tisch is apparently less than ideal for my back and neck, which I realized as soon as Phil

ing thoughts of horrible maladies that kept me up at night. When Phil got to my neck, my headaches started flaring up. With each spot he worked, a different headache point was activated. As he worked, he explained the muscle structure of the neck and how they connect to the head. My headaches, as it turned out, were a result of very “cranky scapules” and he gave me some daily neck stretch exercises to keep them away. To say I was relieved would be an understatement. Massages are useful for many reasons. They can reduce blood pressure and anxiety; loosen stiff, tired or injured muscles; and promote a general feeling of wellbeing. Many people also use them for medical reasons, claiming they help reduce injury or disease-related pain. When properly done, massages loosen knots in the muscle fibers that are caused by stress or injury, restoring them to their normal, elastic state. They also release toxins that are built up in these knots, which are then flushed from the body. A word to the ELIZABETH ROBERTS wise: drink lots and lots of water after a massage. Gallons. pressed down on the first problem spot. I Liters. Tanks. Despite Phil’s instructions yelped. It was embarrassing. But as he con- to drink constantly throughout the day, I tinued to work the knot out, my lower back shortchanged myself in the hydration debegan to feel loose for the first time since I partment and paid dearly. With not enough became aware that you can, in fact, stay in water in your system, the toxins have no the Quiet Room until 3 a.m. way of being flushed out and hang out in The dim lighting was wonderful, but your blood until they are slowly eliminated. the choice of music, Gregorian chants, was It does not feel good. a little strange. Still, I was able to close my Despite the not-so-stellar end to my eyes and relax, ignoring the odd tunes. At day (which was completely my fault and nothe beginning of the session, I was asked if body else’s), Inman Oasis Spa provided me I had consistent headaches. Do I ever. My with a massage that not only loosened my headaches had gotten to the point where my back but also relieved my hypochondriac inner hypochondriac had leapt out and was fears. It is a massage I would happily have doing doom dances around my head, plant- again any day. O




n a Tuesday morning in 1959 Nora Banks was set to open up the Road Way Diner. Neither the sun nor the moon was out, but just enough light to see was shining off an old billboard advertising Coca-Cola. An old black lab was chained to the fire hydrant that stood outside the diner and seemed unfazed by the clanking of Nora unlocking the gate. He seemed to be soaking in the cool morning with another hot Georgia summer day rapidly approaching. It was Nora’s first day and she was nervous. It was only a week before that she had applied for the job. She walked in wearing her Sunday clothes and asked about the sign mentioning an opening for a waitress. After a brief moment, the restaurant manager simply said, “Look ma’am, I don’t want any trouble.” She stood on the spot hoping he might say more but he seemed to feel his explanation sufficed. She looked around the mostly empty diner and turned to walk out. But before she took a step toward the door, the owner called out to her from behind the soda counter, “Miss? Excuse me, miss. How about the early shift before my regulars come in? How would ya like that?” “Oh, well that would be perfect.” The manager stepped in between them and said, “John, are you sure this is a good idea?” “If she works early she’ll be just fine. No one’s gonna bother her.” She unlocked the front door and flicked on the lights. With each bulb popping alight her stomach churned. Breakfast came and as customers filed in she could feel their surprise at the sight of her. They’d take

two steps inside the front door, take a deep whiff of fresh pancakes and then they’d see Nora and give the look of someone who’d just missed a step going down stairs. She served no more than fifteen customers by the time two o’clock hit. While delivering an order of eggs on toast to a woman seated near the front of the restaurant, three men walked in the front door and breathed in the smell of fresh pancakes. When the first of the three saw Nora, he tapped the other two hard in the chest and pointed. John the owner saw the three men at the door and sprinted out from behind the soda counter with energy beyond his years. He grabbed Nora hard by the elbow and pulled her aside. “Nora, I think it would be a good idea for you to go home for the


WORK day.” “Boss, I’d like to finish my shift.” “Nora, do you know who that man is?” “No, but I get off in just an hour.” The men, who still stood by the front door, started talking quietly with the diner manager. Then suddenly, they turned and left, catching a glimpse of Nora through the plated glass windows of the front of the diner. Nora finished her shift and walked five miles home to her five-year-old son whom she’d left alone for the day. Her house came into view over the hill. All the windows were smashed, and her front door swung with the wind. O Gideon Jacobs is a sophomore majoring in English.


CC December 8, 2008



Only three suitcases could fit in the baúl of your sighing Chevy but you managed a fourth and I managed to get halfway through the alphabet backwards in my head just standing there because what else could I do? Funny how rambling declarations always came too easy but then, shoulder blades poking through cotton, back against el tronco del arbol, I couldn’t even string two words side by side. The cartoon-like road was already getting narrow before your eyes when I lifted the cowardly mine— the temblor that shook me was just enough to make me check the dirt beneath my feet— with all of your life driving away in a trunk, and all of mine being held up by this one.




December 8, 2008




December 8, 2008



CAMPUS Nightime Quad Reception Monday, December 8 Come to the Academic and Rez Quad for hot chocolate, tunes, and more, starting at 9 p.m.! Dress accordingly.

Tufts Kicks You Out Friday, December 19 Pack your stuff and go somewhere because dorms close at noon!

At 2:14 a.m. TUPD responded to a crosswalk situation at Lower Campus Rd. near South Hall. The incident did not, however, involve cars or pedestrians wishing to cross the street. Rather, an individual decided that a nap was in order, halfway on his journey across the street. A second individual, considerably more awake, called the police when he noticed the staggering, and then supine individual in the street. The “napper” was transported to Somerville Hospital. Saturday, 22 At 12:57 a.m. police returned to 11 Whitfield Rd. because of persistent noise. The sidewalk was cleared of pedestrians, as well as the porch.When officers knocked on the door, they were sincerely greeted with an abrupt slam. Officers soon gained entry and asked for people to clear the house as well as for the ID of the resident. TUPD kindly waited downstairs while the individual presumably searched upstairs for their ID. Time drifted wearily by. Eventually, the enticing scent of curiosity caught the nostrils of the police, and they ventured upstairs. They found the individual in her room, in her jammies, preparing for bed. Apparently sleep was a priority. —Illustrated and compiled by Ryan Stolp



December 8, 2008



Saturday, 22


Mike Snyder

Tufts Observer Since 1895 Tufts University P.O. Box 5302, Medford, MA, 02155 Please Recycle

Fall 2008 - Issue 9  

Tufts Observer (Volume CXVII Issue 9)

Fall 2008 - Issue 9  

Tufts Observer (Volume CXVII Issue 9)