Monthly Archive: January 2018

Jan

31

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gssc to get swoll?

As per usual, Bwog brings you a summary of last night’s General Studies Student Council (GSSC) meeting. Highlights include an upcoming fitness challenge and important initiative updates. 

General Studies Student Council kept the second meeting of the semester short and sweet (about 30 minutes). As a reminder, GSSC meetings happen each week on Tuesday evening, and are streamed live on the GSSC Facebook page.

The council announced the upcoming GSSC Fitness Challenge, which will be underway soon. The challenge will consist of three separate phases. Phase 1 will emphasize a variety of exercises to do at home (body weight exercises, etc), and will include several instruction videos. Pawel Maslag, GSSC member, promised to complete weekly challenges (including doing one push-up for every like on the instructional videos). Phase 2 will involve collaboration with other groups on campus, and will include matching up workout buddies at Dodge, and mock workout plans. Phase 3 will feature a day of challenges on campus, including jumping jack and push-up challenges, as well as a fun run.

Click here for more announcements from the council

Jan

31

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No rest for the wicked

4/30 blaze it

Last Friday marked the last day you could add a class without the instructor’s permission, AKA the last day of the Change of Program Period. While there are still course selection-adjacent deadlines coming up (February 20 is the last day to drop a class for CC, GS, and Barnard students; March 22 is the same for SEAS, as well as the deadline for all schools to change a course’s grading to Pass/D/Fail), most of us should have our schedules firmed up by now. So we were curious: what do the students of Columbia think of their schedules for this semester? Bwog scattered to the four corners of Morningside Heights, Bwog Asked, and Bwog Received:

  • “I like my schedule! I was able to fit my work-study in the mornings and do all my classes in the afternoon.”
  • “No. I have a big-ass gap every single day between classes, so I end up taking a fat nap instead of doing any work. I’m fucked.”
  • “Classes are good but [I] ended up with a 9 am lab and a class at the Arts Center on 125th with a professor who is really punctual.”
  • “Eh could be better but my love life could be better as well.”
  • “My roommate’s friend says no, my roommate says it’s a lot but she’s happy.”
  • “After two petitions and several frantic emails before course application deadlines, yes.”
  • A Bwogger’s roommate: “No because all my stuff ends at 5:30 and I don’t have any time where I can just relax.”
  • “No Friday classes!”
  • “Yeah, it gets a bunch of stuff that I need to do out of the way, none of my classes are too late—even though it’s busy it’s not unreasonable.”
  • “Kind of: I like my classes, but I have 6:10-8:00 pm classes almost every day so my dinner schedule is fucked.”
  • “I’m always a mess…do you think this semester is anything different? My schedule reflects my life.”
  • A Bwogger asked this question in a groupchat with a friend who’s on medical leave. His reply: “My schedule is really bringing me down right now. All of my professors are me…and I’m a dick so that’s a whole issue. I read up all my own evaluations, I’m late with homework, and I rarely grade assignments. Not to mention the nepotism involved when all of the students are 100% blood related to the professor…I mean that’s just asking for trouble.”
  • “No, but it is what it is.”

Jan

31

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PrezBo never knew what hit him.

Deputy Editor and frequent FiveThirtyEight reader Zack Abrams has created a site so HTML-heavy that he had to throw the whole Bwog away and host it somewhere else. Go here for the full experience or scroll down for an overview of the site. Note: use Google Chrome to see the preview, but the site itself works on any browser.

Last week, I went through 100 posts on everyone’s favorite meme group, Columbia Buy/Sell Memes, and collected data on the original poster, time, topic, reactions, and a few other categories. Using that data, all of it from December or this January, I threw together some graphs and pretty much learned HTML and JavaScript, all for the sake of the memes. Fun bonus fact: though Rafael Ortiz posted 11 times out of the 100, he only got the third highest reactions-per-meme among repeat posters. If you liked that fact, you’ll love the whole site. Check it out here or scroll down for an embedded preview.


Jan

31

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You know it, you’ve seen it, you have strong opinions about it.

Winter season is in full swing, and that means the Canada Geese are alive, well, and thriving around campus. Closer examination finds that each of these coats comes down to approximately $900 per econ student. Damn! We here at Bwog, with your best interests in mind, implore you to forsake this god-forsaken coat and instead spend that $900 on these following things:

Jan

31

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The face you make when you hear about the Bruno sweep.

Happening in the World: Cape Town is about to run out of water. ‘Zero-day,’ the day the taps turn off, is April 16th after drought and overuse have drained the city of its water supply, and citizens have little hope of a way out.  (NPR)

Happening in the US: Trump gave his State of the Union address and managed to stay on script the entire time, prompting the usual descriptors of “presidential” and “finally making a change.” (NYT)

Happening in NYC: Mayor De Blasio was prevented from attending the Grammy’s due to “ethics rules,” probably because he would’ve had a duty to report the robbery of awards from Lorde and SZA. (New York Post)

Happening on Campus: Columbia, in an email sent out to the student body today, declined to bargain with Columbia graduate student unions, prompting a strong reaction from the unions, which are planning a protest this Thursday.

Bop of the Day: 

Jan

30

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Tag yourself, we’re the ‘Yes, this is data’

Bwog Science was active yesterday – while new writer Riya covered a film about autism, EIC Betsy Ladyzhets went to a visiting Yale professor’s talk on quantum computing. She has little knowledge of both quantum physics and computing, but was still inspired by Prof. Steven Girvin’s self-described miraculous solution to the problem of quantum computing error.

Quantum physics (i.e. the physics of atoms and subatomic particles) is full of paradoxes. Perhaps the most famous of these is Schrödinger’s cat, a thought experiment devised by Erwin Schrödinger in response to the concept of quantum superpositions. According to this principle, a quantum system such as a photon can exist in multiple states of energy at the same time – until it is observed by the outside world, when it will collapse into one of the possible superimposed states.

Schrödinger demonstrated why he found this principle ridiculous by constructing a feline analogy: imagine a cat is placed in a sealed chamber, along with a measurement device containing a small amount of a radioactive substance and a relay system linking this device to a vial of poisonous acid. An atom of this radioactive substance might decay, which would cause the relay system to shatter the vial, poisoning the cat. But with equal probability, the atom might not decay, in which case the vial would remain intact and the cat would remain alive. However, because the whole thing is inside a sealed container, nobody could know if the cat is dead or alive until they opened the box. In this analogy, the cat is a photon, technically existing in both dead and living states (0 and 1 states) until someone checks on it.

Steven Girvin a professor and vice provost at Yale who studies the quantum mechanics of large collections of atoms, started his talk on quantum computing yesterday by calling attention to paradoxes like that of Schrödinger’s cat. “Is quantum information carried by waves or by particles?” he asked. The audience (of, I gathered, almost entirely physics students), chucked as he announced the answer: “Yes.” Quantum mechanics has come a long way since Schrödinger metaphorically killed (and didn’t kill) a cat, but it hasn’t gotten any less difficult to wrap one’s head around.

What does any of this have to do with computers?

Jan

30

img January 30, 20186:33 pmimg 0 Comments

Directed by a Columbia alum!

The Heyman Center for the Humanities is hosting “Explorations in the Medical Humanities,” a series of talks, films, and events that strive to bridge medicine and the humanities. Yesterday, Bwog sent writer Riya Mirchandaney to “Swim Team,” a film about an award-winning swim team consisting of boys on the autism spectrum. Here’s her review of the film.

As someone who loves the humanities, it’s obvious that the science event I’d chose to attend would be a film screening. If I learned anything from watching “The Great Sperm Race” in junior year biology, it’s that movies are a fantastic vessel for disseminating (ha, ha) scientific information in a thoughtful and accessible way. Who wants to listen to a dreary lecture when they could learn just as much from sleekly-edited video montages and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s sultry voice?

But “Swim Team,” the award-winning first feature-length documentary by Columbia alum Lara Stolman, strangely lacking in lab coats and medical terminology, was a science documentary of a completely different breed. It was shown as part of the Medical Humanities series sponsored by the Heyman Center for the Humanities.

The film begins with an extended underwater shot. A boy swimming. The swim captain encouraging his teammates. The coaches—the mother and father of one of the swimmers—introduce the scene: this is a special olympics team, and all of the boys are on the autism spectrum. They are the New Jersey Hammerheads.

As defined by the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, autism spectrum disorder is characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction, as well as by restrictive and repetitive patterns of behavior, often accompanied by intellectual and language impairment. In New Jersey, with the highest rate in the country, 1 out of every 26 boys is diagnosed with autism.

Click here to learn more about the film and about the medical humanities

Jan

30

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Early this afternoon, Columbia University shared news of its decision refusing to engage in bargaining with Columbia graduate student unions. In a response to UAW’s request to bargain, Columbia announced that it would instead take the issue of the status of graduate students to a federal appellate court, maintaining that the graduate student-faculty relationship differed from that of employer-employee.

Graduate students finally received the right to unionize in August 2016 after two years of struggle, which oversaw a denied petition and an election. In December of the same year, Graduate Workers of Columbia University-UAW voted to unionize by a nearly 1000-point margin, a move publicly supported by SGA and, later, CCSC.

Columbia’s response to UAW was reported to the Columbia community in a statement from Provost John Coatsworth, included below for your convenience.

Update 11:50 pm: The Graduate Workers of Columbia University-UAW released a statement condemning the University’s choice to decline to bargain with them, a choice they claim is illegal. The statement also accuses the University of failing to respect their “democratic mandate” and taking away their rights to collective bargaining. There will be a demonstration Thursday, February 1 at noon on Low Steps to protest Columbia’s “delay tactics.” The full text of the statement is included after the jump.

Full statement below the jump

Jan

30

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On January 30th, 2006, Bwog was born as the online baby of the Blue and White. Now, we are in our 12th year of reporting all Columbia student news, whether fit to print or otherwise. We all know the tweens can be a rough year, going through puberty and starting middle school and whatnot. So we’d like to thank our readers for their continued support of our dear publication. You’ve left us so many lovely comments, such as this charmer from last year’s birthday post:

Or this instant icon:

We love and appreciate the Columbia community, and we’re so glad you love us right back! Happy birthday to us!

Jan

30

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Sometimes, Barnard’s Student Government Association gets things done in a way that we can all be proud of. Last night’s Rep Council meeting was not one of those times. This week, our Reps heard a presentation on the Board of Trustees and finally selected a new Representative for Academic Affairs. It was kind of frustrating, and boring enough that I tried to take up creative writing in the margins of my notebook. Lucky for you, I soon remembered that I’m not good at creative writing, and have decided to stick with vaguely disgruntled reporting. So read on to find out what happened and wonder with me why we even do this at all.

We all learned how to do this, correct?

But first, before the meeting even started, an interruption. Press was told that this was “Barnard College business” and not “SGA business,” and anyway, it was for a surprise. It is not an interesting surprise, reader, so I won’t ruin it. But it was a waste of our collective time, and caused the meeting to start a good fifteen minutes late. I’ll just say this, SGA: finger-guns are never a good idea. Following the delay, President Angela Beam reminded everyone to be “mindful” when making announcements, because we were running late. I did not find them to be particularly mindful.

The main focus of the evening was a presentation by Jessica Reich and Tamar Dayanim, the student Representatives to the Board of Trustees, about what that board does and what part they serve in it. Jess and Tamar explained how the Board focuses on big-picture items, and has a good number of secret meetings. The trustees have a diversity of experience and knowledge, which they employ to oversee the goings-on of the administration and faculty. The student representatives make two presentations a year to update the board on what’s happening in the student body, and are also available to answer questions when relevant. A fine explanation, but I feel like we also could have managed without it.

Fumbled election procedures and more…

Jan

30

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Courtesy of Caroline’s Instagram.

Following the tragic death of Barnard senior Caroline Montgomery over winter break, her family has decided to host a memorial gathering this evening at the school. According to Dean Avis Hinkson, “The program will feature several speakers and an opportunity to share memories of Caroline”.

The service will take place in the James Room, on the fourth floor of Barnard Hall, from 6-7 pm.

 

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Jan

30

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What’s Happening In The World: In absolutely terrifying medical news, a man in India died after being sucked into an MRI machine then inhaling lethal liquid oxygen from a cylinder he was carrying. The worst part? The man, Rajesh Maru, wasn’t even having an MRI when it happened. The magnetic forces pulled him in while he was in the room. (Fox)

Why does this keep happening?

What’s Happening In The US: Those of you who are paranoid about technology and tracking are now justified. It was discovered that the popular fitness app Strava’s “heat map”, which posts the locations of its active users, may reveal the location of U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more dangerously, the routes between them. (Washington Post)

What’s Happening In NYC: Faced with massive transportation costs of over $300 million a year, the city is considering charging its residents for garbage pickup. Supporters say the plan would also encourage recycling and benefit the environment, but its detractors say that New Yorkers pay enough taxes as it is. (CBS Local)

What’s Happening At Columbia: Tonight from 6-7 in Low Library, Room 207, the Earth Institute is hosting an event entitled “Sustainability Measurement in China: Fostering a Race to the Top”. With China’s fast growing economy, sustainability is now becoming a greater concern. According to the description, “panelists will discuss how such systems can complement policymaking in China’s local administrative system, the balance between the state and the private sector as well as sustainable development in China more broadly.”

Overseen: A pair of underwear hanging out in the Barnard Quad. I really hope the free laundry at Columbia is the reason for this.

Jan

29

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Unrelated photo but happy belated birthday to our EIC Betsy!

Every so often, one weekend will be so wild and eventful that every Bwog Staffer is teeming with stories and highlights of their weekend. Lucky for you, this was one of them. Whether it was due to the open frat parties because of rushing or just the desire to rebel two weeks into the semester, here is the synopsis of Bwog’s weekend adventures.

Bwog in the City:

  • Was driving with my grandfather in the country and he hit a deer and subsequently had to carry it out of the street with his bare hands while wearing a suit. I’m still having Bambi themed nightmares.
  • Went to the sauna for the first time.
  • Spent my Saturday night (6:30pm to 3:30am) at the Brooklyn Public Library for the night of philosophy.
  • Went to Times Square at midnight to meet my roommate so we could watch “The Shape of the Water.” Realized there were no theaters showing it then and we ended up walking around downtown until 3 AM.
  • Traveled to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
  • Saw Phantom Thread and sat in the theater for 10 minutes after it ended, contemplating my life.
  • Also saw Phantom Thread (again) and also spent a solid ten minutes sitting in the theater after the credits stopped rolling trying to make sense of love/life/all that jazz.
  • Went to an event at which Chuck Shumer was speaking to take notes for my internship but fell asleep three-quarters of the way through his speech.
  • Went to a bizarre little club in the basement of a Chinatown hotel.

Bwog and Food:

  • Babysat in a super crazy bougie penthouse on the UWS and stole a bunch of their San Pellegrino.
  • Got brunch with my childhood best friend after not having seen her for years!!!
  • Discovered that my friend’s mini-fridge literally contains nothing but bottles upon bottles of Coca-cola mixed with whiskey.
  • Ate an entire box of Eggo waffles in the span of 40 hours.

Read more wild stories here.

Jan

29

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This dog probably just walked from John Jay to NoCo carrying the entire Lit Hum syllabus.

It’s hard to stay in shape when it feels like the only exercise you have time for is lifting your food to your mouth. But worry not: Bwog is here with some suggestions that will help you get in shape without even noticing! (Ok, you’ll notice, but you won’t really have a choice.)

  1. Take classes on Hamilton 7 on purpose. While everyone else is bitching about how hard the trek up the stairs is, you’ll know it’s helping tone your legs and butt.
  2. Live in 110. Or Carlton Arms. Or Goldsmith. All these dorms are far enough from important campus things that you’ll have to walk way more than if you lived right next to campus.
  3. Study in the library farthest from your dorm. Like the above suggestion, this forces you to walk more than you otherwise would.
  4. Make sure to take classes with lots of reading to make your backpack nice and heavy. If you have heavy textbooks, just keep those on you at all times. Now all the extra walking you’re doing will be even better for your cardio health.
  5. Downgrade your computer. Light-as-air MacBooks and Surfaces aren’t going to make you sweat, but a dinosaur computer from five years ago sure will.
  6. Type really fast. Sure, it only works out your fingers, but every calorie counts.
  7. Use the treadmill desk in the Teachers College library. Yes, they exist. Just be careful you don’t get sweat on your reading.
  8. Shop at Garden of Eden instead of Morton Williams or Westside. It’s good for your health and the 10% student discount means it’s good for your wallet too.
  9. Buy your liquor at La Salle instead of International. There’s no better workout than walking up the hill to 120th with a handle of vodka in each hand. Plus when you’re done you get to celebrate with vodka.

Photo via flickr

Jan

29

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Me trying to reach a pen that’s fallen off my desk.

Too busy being drunk and then too busy nursing your hangover to keep up with Columbia’s sports teams? Sports Editor Abby Rubel has you covered.

Track and Field: The Columbia track teams performed poorly overall in the Columbia Challenge, with the men’s team placing 13th in a field of 16 and the women placing 14th in a field of 17. But there were some outstanding individual performances. On the women’s team, Sydney Petersen came in second in the 500 meter run, just two tenths of a second behind the first place finisher. Columbia also did well in the 1000 meter run, with Katie Wasserman placing third (2:55.11) and Sarah MacDonald coming in fifth (2:55.79). For the men, Josiah Langstaff finished first in the 1000 meter run with a time of 2:23.53 and Daniel Igbokwe set a school record in the triple jump of 15.53 feet, good enough for a second place finish.

Men’s Swimming and Diving: The Lions eked out a 151-149 win over Navy, with the meet coming down to the final event—the 400 meter freestyle relay. Columbia’s team of Kevin Frifeldt, Mark Gullik, Michal Zyla, and Albert Gwo beat Navy’s team by only a tenth of a second with their time of 3:00.51. Still good enough for a victory!

Men’s Squash: The team continued to dominate, winning seven out of nine games against George Washington, but remains number two behind undefeated Trinity. McClain Awalt, Seif Attia, and Adham Madi all had rough days, going to five games each, but Attia and Madi both managed to come out on top.

Men’s Basketball: lost 82-81 at Cornell
Women’s Basketball: won 72-54 at Cornell
Women’s Squash: lost 8-1 against Stanford but won 8-1 against George Washington in New Haven
Men’s Tennis: won 4-1 against Ole Miss and 4-1 over Texas Tech in Charlottesville
Women’s Tennis: won 7-0 against Rhode Island, but lost 5-2 at Syracuse
Women’s Swimming and Diving: won 175-115 at Seton Hall
Wrestling: won 22-17 against Bucknell but lost 21-19 against Lock Haven

Photo via gocolumbialions.com

 

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