November 30, 2006

Bored at Baker

If you're a Dartmouth student, you probably already know about this by now, but this site is quite... enlightening regarding the quality of the minds I go to school with.

Anyway, this is the kind of junk that gets put on there. No entries are attributed in any way.
10:29:39 pm what's a good gpa at dartmouth anyway?
10:30:05 pm 3.5?
10:37:12 pm dartmouth is one big closet. lots of closeted gays.
10:41:21 pm good gpa at dartmouth - doesn't mean shit

9:04:31 pm meow
9:12:43 pm i am a cat rapist
9:13:19 pm meow
9:13:28 pm this is me raping you
9:14:19 pm meow
9:16:05 pm MEOW
9:16:11 pm will you rape me in the stacks?
9:16:17 pm meow
9:21:01 pm your mom throwing away your crappy kindergarten fingerpaintings: your mom wants to destroy art and history

earlier (apparently in response to the same meower):
8:21:47 pm who wastes they're time annoying 8 people on a website? what a pathetic shortcocked pussy
8:18:46 pm i hope someone skins you then hangs you upside down you fucking cat

9:53:52 pm im doing a certain psychoactive drug right nowwww for the first time, i'm very excited!

God. You know, there are reasons why society frowns on most people thinking aloud.

On the other hand, there is this clever observation:
yesterday @ 3:34 pm there is a preponderance of snarky conservatives on here because the liberals are either too busy getting laid or having friends

But then, there's always more of this than that:
3:13:37 pm I just don't get it, I've been seeing soooooo many hot bitches this year. It's not like last year at all. The ladies are working it.

And someone just used the n-word. good job fellas.

Coverage of Solidarity against Hatred

Dartmouth's website has a list of speakers (with their speeches linked) and some pictures.

The Boston Globe's story is here.

The New England Patriot (a fellow Dartmouth blogger) speaks eloquently about the rally (and the events leading up to it) here.

Valley News here.

The New York Times also picked up the AP wire story, as did CNN.

One note: A lot of the coverage has not picked up on the fact that the rally was supporting not only NADs, but all those who have found themselves on the receiving end of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and just general bullying. This was a rally of solidarity not just for and with Native Americans, but for the entire campus.

More: An article in Campus Progress by DFP writer Nichola Tucker.

Another blogger, Dartmouth alum Sylvia Chi, reacts to the events from off campus.

You also may want to check out the comments section of this post on IvyGate.

On the Uses of Mascots

A common argument that I've heard recently is that the persistence in some quarters of keeping the Indian around is due to the fact that it wasn't adequately replaced. I don't buy that totally—I think certain alums would be just as pissed off and obstinate if we were the Dartmouth Moose or something as they are now that we're the Dartmouth Green. The point is that these men (they're definitely all men) have a connection specifically to the Dartmouth Indian and would fight for it regardless of the suitability of its replacement. For these geriatric jackasses, no replacement would be suitable.

But what about the students who continue to wear it? I think it's more a matter of arrogance and immature defiance than anything else, but let's think about this argument that it's simply a matter of The Big Green being a shitty mascot and unable to spark school pride.

Well, Harvard's mascot is... Crimson. School pride there, not a problem.

Indiana University's mascot is... a Hoosier, a name which no one knows the meaning of and is therefore completely unrepresentable. Team spirit there, not a concern.

North Carolina... Tar Heels? WTF, seriously. How do you get excited about a mascot like that? They do, at any rate.

Nebraska... Cornhuskers? Kind of shoots down the argument that a mascot must embody the qualities you admire. Those brave, ferocious corhuskers, you know. Same with the UC-Santa Clara Cruz Banana Slugs. Ohio State Buckeyes? Stanford Cardinal (which is represented by a pine tree)? Maryland Terrapins?

None of these schools have a problem supporting their mascots. Of course, none of them started out with a mascot that demeaned people either. Terrapins might seem a lot less cool if you have the option of a racist mascot to fall back on I guess.

November 29, 2006

A Day to Remember

Solidarity against Hatred

Where: In front of DARTMOUTH HALL
This event will be attended by national press

Come engage in a CIVIL DISCOURSE about issues that are threatening the solidarity of the Dartmouth community.

This is OUR home, OUR school, OUR community, so come and RALLY for a better Dartmouth.

Supported By: Afro-American Society, College Democrats, Dartmouth Progressives, Dartmouth Free Press, Gay Straight Alliance, Inter-Community Council, La Alianza Latina, MEChA, Native Americans at Dartmouth, The Tabard, The Tucker Foundation, Untamed, Women of Color Collective

****If you CANNOT come to the rally but would like your presence represented we will be labeling candles with names of supporters, you can blitz your name to 'aswan" with the subject line 'candle' for a candle to be placed in your name*****


Because mascots are so offensive these days, perhaps we should choose one that is guaranteed to offend no one. I give you:

The Dartmouth Dartmouth Review Racist Students.

Here is our new mascot:

[image removed]

Look I realize this post was pointless—I did it to amuse myself and some friends.

I was talking to a professor about this whole deal, and we discussed Derrida and hospitality (seriously, this is the way you talk about current events with Comp Lit profs). I realized that our objective really isn't and shouldn't be to make Dartmouth hostile to Reviewers. Our stand is against a culture of incivility and entitlement, and although the Review embodies this culture, we shouldn't turn it on them.

November 25, 2006

Different Standards for Different Folks

So, although The D has officially finished publishing for the term, apparently alums who are pissed about the Josie Harper letter can get their letters published (here and here).

That strikes me as a little strange given the frequent complaint that it's hard enough to get letters that bear a certain viewpoint (namely minorities') printed or posted online during the regular publishing period.

In regards to those two letters, though, may I ask a naive question? Why do we care whether Dartmouth sucks at athletics or not? What actual advantage do we garner by being a football powerhouse or a basketball juggernaut? Do our students find it easier to get the jobs they want? Does it improve our admissions numbers (obviously not given that they're currently at an all-time high despite our athletic woes)? Alumni donations are at an all-time high as well, I believe, so it can't be that. Does institutional athletic prowess give any of us—besides the athletes themselves—a damn thing except a nebulous sense of Dartmouth pride?

Well, aren't nebulous, warm, fuzzy feelings exactly what opponents of a focus on diversity accusing the administration of trying to indoctrinate in us? They try to suggest that all this pluralism talk is is just a way to plump up white liberal egos or just a way to recreate an "I'm ok, you're ok" vibe from countercultural days. Diversity and pluralism are of course, significantly more than that, but that is the argument being thrown around. It's obviously a hypocritical, unreflective argument that stands on tradition far more than logic—the absolute worst kind of argument to make.

November 24, 2006

Native American Council Ad

I haven't posted on this yet because I've been waiting to see what all Dartmouth's conservatives were going to say about the matter, but even they have been outpaced by this jerk, who compares the NADs (Native Americans at Dartmouth) to, get this, Nazis:
Who is being a racist here? Anyone who has read Mein Kampf and is familiar with the racial concepts presented in it will see a startling similarity to the NAD perspective, in that both see one’s race as the central and most important component in the concept of self. This is far closer to Nazi ideology than to the liberal tradition.
A similar argument (without the Nazi comparison) is made by Malchow:
For most of Dartmouth’s history, worth was indivisible from works. Name-calling was merely external commentary to be judged and often ignored. That philosophy turned out strong people who made a difference in the world. Now, the Wright letter has made it Dartmouth policy to prefer the former—to suggest that everyone is fulfilling his obligation so long as he is not hurting anyone else’s feelings. And that offends me.
Essentially, both are making the argument that the NADs are treating race (or the effects thereof) to define themselves, rather than individual accomplishments.

What this shows, in fact, is not some race-dominated ideology on the part of the NADs, but the absolute refusal by people like Malchow or the Review to recognize that depictions of Indians in mascots or murals or anything else are actually connected to real people. There is a mental disconnect here between "Indians" as an element of American folklore and myth, created in equal part by John Wayne movies and Disney, and the people who go to our campus. They assume that if NADs at Dartmouth just walk around like everyone else, thinking of themselves only as individuals, we can all still yell "Wah-Hoo-Wah" and "Scalp 'em" and wear Indian Head tshirts, and that won't affect the NADs because we're not really doing anything related to them. We're simply accessing a part of American folklore, like the pioneers or something—not real Native Americans!

This is, of course, utterly false. There is not that disconnect between the Indians that Reviewers wear and the Native Americans on our campus. Both represent the same group of people and not two distinct and unconnected groups. Yelling "Scalp 'em" is an affront to Native Americans on our campus, and it is not overly racialized or overly sensitive on the part of the NADs to believe or to assert that. Calling out racism when you see it, whether it touches you or not, is not putting race before individuality—it is a protest against the way others have been racializing you at the expense of your individuality.

I will have more posts on this topic over the next few days.
One thing, however, that concerns me is that people like Malchow and the Review, through their connections with conservative alumni, are often seen as the voices of the students, which is just ridiculous. The only arguments many alums hear are the ones that say free speech is being repressed at Dartmouth, that liberal interest groups are having their way with students' rights, that conservatives are somehow in danger of being silenced and deported to George Mason or something. This debate on racism at Dartmouth is one worth having and airing broadly, and it should be a debate. Unfortunately, all too often, only one side gets airtime with the alums, and that is the conservative side. I wish there were more liberal voices at Dartmouth that can reach alums.

November 22, 2006

Malchow Today:

"A Deficit of Self-confidence is, in my experience, not much of a problem with the junior high girl set."

Maybe just because I have a younger sister, I tend to doubt the accuracy of Mr. Malchow's experience. Seriously, with all the research that has been done on the subject, how can he say something so uninformed and inconsiderate?

November 21, 2006

Dartmouth Basketball

I hadn't heard about this, but I read about it on IvyGate blog, so it must be true:
The Big Green are statistically the worst team in college basketball so far this year, losing all three of their games by an average of more than 31 points.
Wow, and I thought the football team was embarrassing us!

November 20, 2006

Letter from President Wright

Responding to a number of incidents this term, President Wright sent out a letter today addressing the issue of racism directed at Native Americans on campus. For those of you who may not have received it, I'm quoting the last few paragraphs, which I find honestly inspiring, even though it was, from what I hear, forced:
There will always be individuals - including some who are members of this community - who empower themselves by disrespecting others. They are few in number but this is not about numbers. Some who have engaged in the incidents of the last few months may be unaware of the disrespect that is entailed and the hurt that is felt. That should no longer be an excuse. The rest, those who know of the hurt and disrespect and persist nonetheless, are simply bullies. "Free speech" rights are regularly asserted by the latter.

Certainly, freedom of expression is a core value of this institution. The College is not going to start a selective dress code and we do not have a speech code. Free speech includes the right to say and to do foolish and mean-spirited things. We have seen several examples of this exercise this fall. But free speech is not a right exclusively maintained for the use of the mean and the foolish - it is not unless we allow it to be, and then the free part has been minimized.

Let me exercise my right of free speech: I take it as a matter of principle that when people say they have been offended, they have been offended. We may apologize and explain, we may seek to assure that offense was not intended, but it is condescending to insist that they shouldn't be offended, that it is somehow their fault, and that they are humorless since they can't appreciate that what was perceived as offensive is merely a "joke." And it is the worst form of arrogance for anyone to insist that they will continue to offend on the basis of a "right" to do so. Communities depend upon rights. But they also thrive upon mutual respect. This community thrives because each generation of students understands and advances this principle, which finally is more effective than any administrative sanctions or speech codes.

This College is sustained by you, by the commitment of Dartmouth students to fairness, to each other and to the wholeness of this community. I am encouraged by those of you who have reached out and have spoken out. I respect and thank those who have acknowledged and apologized for actions that proved to be hurtful. Yet many students with whom I have spoken over the last few weeks have not engaged in this conversation. We all should do this. This is not an abstract debate but a real issue. Dartmouth's strength is the sense of belonging and inclusiveness that marks our values.
I don't have time to cover some of the remarks on the letter and the events leading up to it (Malchow 1, 2; Dartlog 1, 2) but rest assured I'll get to them soon. For now, just know that Joe Malchow is still a douchebag and The Review still thinks its shit doesn't stink.

November 18, 2006


It really doesn't get any better than this.


Update (5:11): It started off well, but it's not going so great right now. We'll see what happens in the 2nd half.

November 14, 2006

And the winning idea on how to ameliorate African poverty is....

According to the WTO, Slavery.
At a Wharton Business School conference on business in Africa, World Trade Organization representative Hanniford Schmidt announced the creation of a WTO initiative for "full private stewardry of labor" for the parts of Africa that have been hardest hit by the 500 years of Africa's free trade with the West.
Now hang on a minute, they can't actually mean slavery, can they? Let's not jump the gun here. "Full private stewardry of labor," that sounds different, at least, right?
The initiative will require Western companies doing business in some parts of Africa to own their workers outright.
Wait a tick, that actually does sound like slavery.
Schmidt recounted how private stewardship has been successfully applied to transport, power, water, traditional knowledge, and even the human genome. The WTO's "full private stewardry" program will extend these successes to (re)privatize humans themselves.
Reprivatize humans?

Oh. My. God. I cannot believe I am reading this. But it doesn't stop--it just doesn't stop:
"This is what free trade's all about," said Schmidt. "It's about the freedom to buy and sell anything—even people."

Offensive Comic?

I'm in London (I'm not even on an FSP, I'm just fabulously wealthy and blowing off mid-November stress) and otherwise can't be bothered to care that much about Dartmouth's freshest inane controversy, but this teddy bear character in Lerman's recent comics reminded me of a suspiciously similar looking and far more offensive cartoon. Wiggles.


Introducing the Hug Shirt, one of Time's best inventions of 2006. Here's the deal:
[T]he Hug Shirt [is] a high-tech garment that simulates the experience of being embraced by a loved one. When a friend sends you a virtual hug, your cell phone notifies the shirt wirelessly, via Bluetooth. The shirt then re-creates that person's distinctive cuddle, replicating his or her warmth, pressure, duration and even heartbeat. And, yes, the Hug Shirt is fully washable.
My question is, does it come with a Scarlett Johansson setting?

November 13, 2006

Two Words about the Nietzsche Comic

I didn't talk about this last week when it happened, and I was not planning on talking about it this week either, but Zach Nicolazzo's guest column today is, I think, an important must-read. Zach works in ORL and therefore has, as the column's called, a different perspective on the issue.

The other thing I want to say is that I've heard Drew Lerman is in a freshman seminar called Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka, and that it was his frustration about his professor's treatment of Nietzsche that led to the comic. Apparently, Drew believes he has the correct view of Nietzsche's will to power as a will to dominate. I know he thinks it's liberal academic revisionism, but that's just not the case. The concept of the will to power is not about domination; it's about self-mastery in a non-ascetic, non-subservient sense. That's a tricky distinction perhaps, but it's the difference between being a spontaneous, active and vital human actor who recognizes the presence of other human actors, and being a megalomaniac driven only by the control of others. Lerman's disregard for "liberal academic" scholarship is troublesome to me because it denies the rather obvious fact that many scholars, over many years, have worked very diligently to do justice to the actuality of Nietzsche's thought, and not the Fascist appropriation of that thought. Lerman rejects the very idea that scholars really can transcend any desires they have to warp something to their own ends, and instead just to do a good job of interpreting a very difficult and historically fraught text. It bothers me a great deal that, as a freshman, Lerman is already arrogant enough just to dismiss the function and results of good scholarship simply because he disagrees with them (uninformedly). It bothers me more that his arrogance has resulted in such a flip comic that has been placed before our community.

November 8, 2006

Fashionably Late Election Update

So everyone knows this, but

Dick Cheney shot a man in the face a few months ago.

Just thought you should know.

November 7, 2006

Best Candidate Ever

Chief Wana Dubie

According to Metafilter, this guy is about as insane as he looks. For one thing, he "has a marijuana leaf tattooed on his forehead and once painted bullseye on his roof so the 'government could find him.' After a 5-year sentence for growing marijuana, he's running for office and with hopes for a 2008 bid for governor," a race which would pair him up with a fellow named Blunt.

In case you couldn't tell, this man is a Libertarian.

November 6, 2006

November 5, 2006

101 Most Influential (Fictional) People

So three fellows decided to come up with a list of the 101 most influential people who never lived [related article here].

It's a very eclectic list: the top ten are The Marlboro Man, Big Brother, King Arthur, Santa Claus (St. Nick), Hamlet, Dr. Frankenstein's Monster, Siegfried, Sherlock Holmes, Romeo and Juliet, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Advertising, literature, folklore—further down you get television characters, toys, cartoons, gods and goddesses, and a Muppet.

In my mind (be warned—I tend to take lists somewhat seriously), it's a little too eclectic. There is no discernible system as to why or where individuals are ranked. I cannot conceive of a reason, for example, why Lady Chatterly resides at number 15 while Superman languishes at the 64th spot, which is right behind J.R. Ewing. Or why Faust is all the way down at #36, or why Hans Beckert (even though he is featured in one of the greatest films of all time—"M") is even on the list.

Whatever, the point of the list is to spur indignation. I just wish it weren't so slap-dashedly induced.

"Event" Plug: Alain Badiou

Alain Badiou is one of the most, if not the most, important French philosopher living today. He is just starting to get his due here in America as a philosopher whose work could open up incredibly novel positions on ontology, ethics, and the role of philosophers in today's world. It's difficult to forecast these things, but his magnum opus Being and Event could (and I think should) be considered in the same neighborhood of the philosophical pantheon as two other "Being" books of the past century (i.e. Sartre's and Heidegger's).

And he's coming to Dartmouth Thursday, the 9th, at 4:30.

Seriously, go to this. While he'll probably never reach the celebrity, cultic status of Derrida or Foucault (for one thing, most humanities scholars are probably turned off by his insistence on grounding being in Cantorean set theory), he is (and will become more so, I think) undoubtedly a seriously heavy hitter in French thought of the past thirty years.

If you're curious (and I hope you are), here is an article on Badiou from the excellent N+1 magazine. (A side note, though--the bits about Brian Leiter are both inaccurate and unfair. He's a fantastic Nietzsche scholar, for one thing, which belies the author's charge of a Leiterian vendetta against the Continentals.)

November 3, 2006

Random Googlism

So I'm not that big of a drinker, and I was googling "handle alcohol" to figure out how many fluid ounces that was, and the first hit was a Dartmouth page.

Perhaps we can put that in Jake Baron's PR brochure.

Baron in the Trees

I didn't have much time last morning to blog about Jacob Baron's letter against promoting diversity in Dartmouth's PR campaigns, and so my remarks were fairly abbreviated, and someone called me out on it. Anonymously, s/he said:
Oh, come on. Take a breath before you write this stuff. Baron's column isn't all that well-written, but he has a point. Dartmouth spends a lot of effort advertising its "diversity" to get students to choose it over other schools, and his argument is that Dartmouth should match its PR campaign to its actual strengths, because it's not actually that diverse, and it undersells its other strengths in the process. Maybe he should work for Buzzflood if he's into second-guessing Dartmouth's PR strategy, but I suspect you've encountered many more idiotic Dartmouth students.

Also, where do you get the idea that diversity is "part of our mission, part of our reason for continued existence"? It's a good idea, and I suppose Dartmouth's mission of education and turning out future leaders is fairly broad in scope (i.e. not limited to educating rich white kids and turning out rich white leaders), but I don't think it's "part of our reason for continued existence."
I'm having trouble understanding the logic behind this.

Basically, he's saying that Dartmouth has low diversity relative to our peer institutions, so improving that through a targeted PR strategy foregrounding the diversity we do have and our commitment to improving it should be a lesser concern than identifying things we really do have our peer institutions beat on, like athletics, a vibrant non-Greek social scene for underclassmen, an intellectually engaged student body, fall foliage and other elements of natural beauty, school spirit (i.e. liquor + institutional inferiority complex + personal arrogance/general douchebaggery), and an undergraduate focus. This will improve our standing in the eyes of our targeted audience of applicants, for whom diversity is apparently less important than pretty leaves. (Of course, that means everybody, right? Who could possibly be more worried about diversity than the natural beauty of Dartmouth?)

See, PR for the College isn't just a real estate brochure. It is a statement promoting the type of College we hope our new applicants will, in part, create. It is as much a normative vision more as it is a description of our current state.

The natural beauty of the campus doesn't do much on the normative end of things. It is definitely not why we're here or part of our mission.

But that brings up anonymous commenter's second point—that diversity isn't a reason for Dartmouth's continued existence. I think it is. I think a commitment to ensuring, and not just laissez-faire hoping, that the student body comprises a real and not token diversity of socio-economic, racial, geographical, and cultural backgrounds, bringing together students of many talents and opinions—that is a reason for continuing to operate.

Dartmouth should be a diverse institution of higher learning. I can have a long discussion with you about the merits and virtues of diversity, or can point you to some books, but for the moment, I will just state axiomatically that Dartmouth should consider itself measured by how well it makes itself diverse year after year. This is not a separate struggle from the pursuit of academic excellence; it is not even merely correlated. True academic excellence for a college is dependent on diversity in our world of today. Without it, the broad enterprise of scholarship is hollow and half-formed, solipsistic, dull.

November 2, 2006

"'Diversity' should be rather low on the public relations priority list."

Jacob Baron asks,
"Is Dartmouth's public relations emphasis on diversity too great? ... And why should it try to convince outsiders [that it is diverse]?"
Because Dartmouth is better known for The Review than for the fact that it ranked 10th in Hispanic Magazine's Top 25 colleges for Latinos. (Dartmouth also ranked 47th on Black Enterprise's Top 50)

Because a lot of students at Dartmouth don't care where Dartmouth ranks on lists like those, and that is not a secret—to applicants or to students.

Because diversity is not just another column to compare against other Ivies; it is part of our mission, part of our reason for continued existence. If it's a commitment, it's a commitment, and we should goddamn well say so.

November 1, 2006

"Death: the elephant in the room"

Why I am glad I did not go to Brown

To be fair, though, Brown students could read anything by Max Bryer, John Wisniewski, or Zak Moore and say the same thing about Dartmouth.

"Stuck in Iraq"

I have very little to say about the Kerry brouhaha ("You know, education -- if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.") other than that I find it pretty absurd for the President to lambaste Kerry for supposedly insulting the men and women he has needlessly sent to war.

But more importantly, I want to direct you to Vox Baby, where Professor Samwick has applied his typically trenchant insight to the matter:
Most of the fallout has been criticism of the Senator for saying that members of the armed forces services in Iraq are not smart, despite the clarification [that Kerry was referring to the folks who got us stuck in the war, not to the soldiers].

This fallout is misguided, even focusing on what he said initially. His critics are insisting that the members of the armed forces serving in Iraq are smart. I agree with their assessment, but their examples are not relevant here. These examples falsify the statement:

"If you are serving in Iraq, then you are not smart."

He didn't say this. He said:

"If you are not smart, then you get stuck in Iraq."

To falsify this statement, you need to find people who are not smart who are not stuck in Iraq. It's very easy to do that as well. You could start with people who don't understand the structure of if-then statements who are stuck in the Senate, if you wanted to.