Feb

17

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Columbia was one of the universities named in the Paradise Papers last year, which showed that it was linked to companies that help to hide its investments.

In early November 2017, a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, obtained a series of documents dubbed the Paradise Papers containing information about the offshore investments of the world’s wealthiest people. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists then partially released them to be publicly available. These documents “[shed] light on trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens” (NYT). Corporations and billionaires aren’t the only ones to hide their income overseas, however; many universities, including Columbia, were revealed to be investing and hiding endowments in offshore “paradises” such as the Cayman Islands (TCU) or the Isle of Man (Columbia).

According to the New York Times, thanks at least in part to “lucrative tax breaks” and less traditional investment schemes (ex. private equity and hedge funds as opposed to United States equities or other more traditional methods), many universities have seen greater returns on investments as compared to previous decades. For example, Columbia’s endowment increased from about $7 billion in 2007 to $10 billion in 2017. Yale, another school named in the Paradise Papers (Yale Daily News), has seen a $5.3 billion increase in its endowment over the past decade. Princeton, also named (The Daily Princetonian), had an endowment of $16.3 billion in June 2008, which increased to $22.8 billion by March 2017. Other universities named in the documents include Stanford, Dartmouth, and NYU.

There isn’t a correlation that can be drawn between the fact that these schools were in the Paradise Papers and that their endowments have increased. The manner in which universities like Columbia invest overseas may be unscrupulous, but it is not necessarily illegal.

More after the jump

Feb

17

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The Dastardly Dabber himself.

Paul Ryan recently tweeted (‘n’ deleted) about a whopping $1.50-a-week raise for a high school secretary as a result of the tax bill. In anticipation of the money raining from the sky, I decided to treat myself to a $1.50 shopping spree around MoHi. Here’s how it went.

With a light heart and a heavy wallet, I set out from the Columbia gates with my mind on my $1.50 and my $1.50 on my mind. However, my stomach was empty, so I decided to head to Community for some gourmet food. Except, I took a look at the menu. Forget food, the $1.50 wasn’t even enough for some fresh juice. I would need to wait three weeks to afford a single glass of orange juice, without tip. Ah well, brunch is for people on TV anyway.

Every restaurant I checked was way too expensive for my budget, so I walked south until I hit Panda Express. The average meal would take me ten weeks to save up for, about the same as Chipotle, so that idea died quick. Even Koronet’s and Famiglia were a no-go; I couldn’t even get garlic knots with my $1.50.

At this point, I was feeling really drained, but then I remembered that Walgreens is expecting $200 million dollars in savings from the Republican tax bill this year!  Though they haven’t announced any plans to share the savings with its employees, I knew that the wealth would eventually trickle down, so I laid down in the fifth aisle and waited for the sweet, sweet crumbs dribbling from the corners of executives mouths as they feast.

Six hours later, I checked my wallet and I still had the same $1.50. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll get around to trickling down soon anyway. My last stop of the day was Ivy League stationers. After using my student discount and spending a few hours finding loose coins on the sidewalk, I was able to walk away with a shiny new pen. It’s not a ballpoint, but it’s still… functional. It’ll work perfectly when I go to the polls in November.

Feb

17

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I’m the one in the pink sash.

New York City is packed with amazing culture and inspiring art, but sometimes it’s difficult to break the Morningside-bubble and experience it all first-hand. “Where Art Thou” is a weekly guide to interesting and notable lectures, events, and performances for the literary/musically/theatrically-inclined on campus.

On campus:

  • TOMORROW at 6 pm in the Lerner Black Box, come see CMTS’ 24 Hour Musical! Actors have exactly 24 hours to learn their lines, music, staging and choreography before the house lights go up. Your friendly neighborhood Arts Editor will be in it, which is why you should honor her sacrifice of sleep/sanity and go see what is sure to be a highly entertaining show!
  • Monday at 6:15 pm, the Harriman Institute (Int Affairs 1201) is hosting a screening and discussion with the director of Children of Peace: The Story of The First Generation of Children Born After the Bosnian War. The film takes place in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the aftermath of the destructive Bosnian War. As the new generations grew ever more divided, six young people from six divided cities met and decided to do a performance about their mutual thoughts and beliefs.
  • This Friday at 8 pm, and Saturday at 3 and 7 pm, the Center for Science and Society is putting on “Science! The Musical” in Fayerweather 513. Janice, a first year PhD student, has just had her first paper accepted to an academic conference. The only problem is, she hasn’t written the paper yet! In the few short weeks before the conference, Janice must learn to do interdisciplinary science. Will she publish, or will she perish!?

Off campus:

  • This Saturday, Feb 24 from 11 am to 5 pm, you can celebrate the Lunar New Year Festival at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with performances, interactive gallery activities, and artist-led workshops. Find the program here.
  • Tomorrow at 8:30 pm, UWS bar Prohibition NYC (503 Columbus Ave) is hosting Broadway Night. Come listen to Broadway’s current and future performers sing about love, sex, and heartbreak, including work from composer Sam Balzac (CC ’17). Check out the FB event here and the Prohibition website here.

Musicals via Wikimedia Commons

Feb

17

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Richard blessing the foliage behind him

Even though Valentine’s Day is over, it’s never too late to find someone to cuddle up with this cold, (possibly) snowy post-Valentine’s weekend. Our next personal is none other than Richard Shin of Columbia Crushes Fame. But fear not, despite all the Columbia Crushes posts about him, Richard is single and ready to mingle. Email us at tips@bwog.com if you’re interested in him (before someone else beats you to it)!

Name, Year, School, Major (grad students encouraged): Richard Shin, CC 2018, Data Science
Preference (girl for girl, etc): Boy for girl
Hometown: Cumberland, MD
Your nightmare date in seven words or fewer: Being recognized from Columbia Crushes
What redeems you as a human being?
Great friends who tag me too much on Facebook
Library room of choice: Ref
Beverage of choice: Bubble tea
Which dating apps have you been active on? (be honest) Tea
Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night? Out and about
Historical Hottie: Joseph Stalin

Feb

17

The ruins of the Ummayyad Mosque in Aleppo

Bwogger Cara Hudson-Erdman got intellectual this Friday and attended a lecture at the Italian Academy. This discussion focused global intervention in the protection of cultural monuments in war zones and the role of sovereignty versus international responsibility. Through a wave of witty academic banter, posh British accents, and overuse of the word “colleague,” the key question of the event was: is there an international responsibility to protect cultural heritage sites when states fail to do so?

At Columbia, we students find ourselves inundated with references to antiquity just by walking into the library,  and we often forget that sites of their origin are under threat of destruction. At the Italian Academy, the International Observatory for Cultural Heritage Lecture addressed this topic, titled Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones: Protecting the Past for the Future. The keynote speaker was James Cuno, the president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, who is a major proponent of the idea of a universal cultural heritage and an advocate international intervention to protect cultural sites at risk of destruction. In particular, Cuno spoke about the situation in Syria, where in the midst of a civil war ISIS has destroyed sites such as the Ummayyad Mosque in Aleppo. Cuno emphasized that this destruction should be considered cultural cleansing as well as an indicator of genocide.

In the face of a failing state, Syria, a country whose map resembles a “jigsaw puzzle,” Cuno argued that there is a moral responsibility for other powers to intervene to protect these valuable historic sites. His reasoning stems from his idea that artistic and cultural monuments belong to a shared, international heritage that transcends national borders and states. The moderator, Columbia’s Professor David Freedberg, identified Cuno as “untrendy” for propagating such beliefs, characterizing them as values of the Enlightenment, and the same ones that bolster encyclopedic museums such as the British Museum. Cuno was also joined by a panel of art history and political science experts including Vishakha Desai, former president of the Asia Society, Thomas Weiss, professor of political science at CUNY and an expert in state sovereignty, Edward Luck, a SIPA professor and former advisor to Ban-Ki Moon, and Mariët Westermann from the Mellon Foundation.

Read more after the jump

Feb

17

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It’s the year of the dog!!!!!!

Happening in the World: Following the Prime Minister’s resignation, Ethiopia declared a state of emergency. The Prime Minister’s resignation is said to be a result of growing tensions between the four parties in the country’s ruling coalition, which has been in power since 1991 and currently holds all 547 seats in parliament. (Reuters)

Happening in the US: After a new development in the FBI’s investigation of the 2016 Presidential election, 13 Russians have been charged with tampering with the election. Three of the thirteen Russians have been accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while five have been accused of aggravated identity theft. Read more about the indictment here. (BBC)

Happening in NYC: A former teacher and his twin brother were arrested for allegedly creating bombs in their Bronx home. Several materials used for making bombs along with a diary detailing a plan entitled “Operation Code Name Flash” were found. (NY Daily News)

Happening on Campus: The Chinese Students Club is hosting the 40th Annual Lunar Gala in celebration of the Lunar New Year this Sunday from 6:00 to 9:30 pm. There will be performances and food! Get more information about the event and tickets through the Facebook event.

Image via Pexels

Feb

16

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This is why you don’t unsubscribe

While the rest of you were ghosting your desperate Valentine’s Day hookups, Bwogger Idris O’Neill was ignoring e-mails from the multiple listservs she’s signed up for. Finding herself being a kind of, sort of, almost member of clubs, she’s been torn between seeing new clubs and the good times you’ve had together. She swears: it’s not you, it’s her.

  • Leave the GroupMe. Lose the E-board’s numbers. You’re going to think you’ll need them, but this is a nasty break-up. You gotta throw the whole club away.
  • Ignore them at 1020. You should expect to see them everywhere. It’s the Columbia Curse: everyone you’re trying to avoid will show up to the same party. Always. If you can’t ignore them (because we’re classy; we ghost), engage in small talk about anything but the club.
  • Accidentally sit across from them in a dining hall. God damn John Jay and their forcibly inclusive tables. Make pleasantries referring to old inside jokes and then leave. You’ll get pulled back in if you stay too long.
  • Never unsubscribe from the listserv. The whole point of ghosting is to inoffensively leave. Just read about all the cool club activities you can’t do and simmer in jealousy.
  • Make a new e-mail account. You’ve gotten yourself this far with your generic FirstName.LastName@gmail.com account. Take this opportunity to get weird – srirachaslut16, maybe – those UNIs were boring anyway.
  • Stop playing yourself and just drop out. When it comes to it, it comes to it. Though if you’ve reached this extremity, you probably weren’t good enough at ghosting anyway.

“Have a hydrated weekend” via a listserv I haven’t left

Feb

16

The logo would probably be some abstracted sketch of Low Library.

What if the 2018 Winter Olympics were hosted at Columbia instead of Pyeongchang? Here’s Bwog’s list of Columbia’s  campus sports events, in the case that CU wins the 2026 Winter Olympics bid. 

  • A sprint to get signed into EC on a Friday night. The EC security guards would get to fire the starting pistol.
  • Slalom racing racing through Ferris past all the people blocking your way. Probably also avoiding a former hookup at the same time.
  • Dropping your silverware into the soap bucket in John Jay without getting splashed. Bonus points awarded if your fork still has a limp piece of lettuce on it.
  • Speed skating but it’s just trying not to step in all the puddles in the SEAS north area of campus. Where is all this water accumulating from? Can a STEM student explain this phenomenon to me please?

More extreme sports after the jump

Feb

16

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if you found this article helpful and get published in nature one day, please cite bwog in the acknowledgments section! k thanks!

This week in Science 101, we’ll be talking about reading scientific literature, a crucial skill for any science student. Biology major, Alex Tang, and astrophysics major, Briley Lewis, are here with some advice for tackling those articles with intimidating-sounding titles.

Scientific research is conducted by a broad international community, a network of university labs, research institutes, and industrial companies around the world. Like any community, scientists have to communicate with each others, in this case via published articles in scientific journals. These papers document the latest experiments, methods, and advances in a given area, and are critical for staying on top of current research in any scientific field.

If you are working or volunteering in a research lab on campus, or enrolled in a research seminar, you’ll have to delve deep into the scientific literature of your field. Oftentimes, the articles you’ll find are dense and filled with terms or concepts you aren’t quite familiar with. Here are some tips and strategies that a budding scientist could use when initially tackling published science articles.

Focus on the abstract, figures, and conclusions.
Research papers vary in length, but some of them can be quite long and difficult to wade through. The abstract is a paragraph-long summary that will give you the purpose and results of a paper, and is useful to skim over quickly when looking to find papers that are relevant to your objectives. When you do find a paper that you want to read carefully, pay particular attention to the figures and conclusions sections. Together, these sections will give you the data and experimental results, the most important part of any research project.

Circle recurring words and concepts that you don’t know.
Chances are, if you see a certain phrase repeated over again, it’s important. Each area in science uses a specialized language that will take time to get acclimated to. A few quick Google searches can clear up a lot of confusion when understanding a paper. If you find a paper that seems particularly significant to you, make sure you understand the experimental methods used in the project. It’s always a good idea to learn about the latest and most significant procedures and methods in your field.

Think big picture.
Everyone tends to notice the huge breakthroughs in science (think CRISPR or Higgs boson), but most of science happens in small increments of progress. Lots of papers tend to be extremely specific, dealing with particularly narrow projects that focus on a manageable scientific inquiry. Make sure to search for the broader significance of every research project you’re engaged in, as well as the projects of the papers you read. For example, ask how the project is contributing to humanity overall, and how the science could be applied to something that could be of practical use in the long run. Thinking big picture is a great way of maintaining your enthusiasm for science, and for asking the important research questions.

More tips and tricks below!

Feb

16

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A throwback to warmer days but this Bwogger still has her glow

Valentine’s Day may be over, but these students are getting it in early for next year’s V-day! It’s never too late for love with Bwog. E-mail us at tips@bwog.com if you’re interested, but work fast – these stunners may be snatched up quickly. 

Name, Year, School, Major: Cara Hudson-Erdman, Barnard ’21, probably art history but tbd…
Preference: girl for guy
Hometown: Northampton, MA
Your nightmare date in seven words or fewer: He hasn’t seen the office
What redeems you as a human being? I can make fresh pasta from scratch!!
Library room of choice: Avery next to the big windows
Beverage of choice: Ginger tea
Which dating apps have you been active on? (be honest) activating & deactivating tinder and bumble
Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night? dancing anywhere there’s good music!!
Historical Hottie: Rasputin

Eligible bachelorettes click here

Feb

16

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Hopefully the women’s squash team is this chipper on Sunday.

You may not understand sports, but Bwog thankfully has someone who can. Sports Editor Abby Rubel is here with the DL on Columbia Athletics. 

Women’s squash: Women’s squash, currently ranked sixth nationally, will head to Harvard on Friday for Nationals (officially “The Howe Cup”). The Lions will face third-ranked Trinity first at 1:30 pm, which will determine whether they head for the semi-finals or the consolation bracket and whether they face the winner or the loser of the Princeton-Penn match. In their five matchups, Columbia has never beaten Trinity, including a 9-0 loss in January.

Lacrosse: The Lions will play their season opener against nationally-ranked Navy on Saturday at 11:00 am in Annapolis. Last season, they tied for fifth in the Ivy League with a 2-5 conference record and a 7-8 record overall. Princeton, Penn, and Cornell dominated the league—tying for first with a 6-1 conference record. Princeton came out on top at the Ivy League Tournament and is favored to win again according to an ivyleague.com poll; Columbia was ranked sixth. The Lions will have to improve significantly to be competitive this season, and it all starts on Saturday.

Basketball: Columbia basketball has a busy weekend with two double headers. On Friday, both teams face Penn, with the women’s game at 4:00 pm and the men’s game at 7:00 pm. On Saturday, it’s the same schedule against Princeton. Because neither team is doing well (the women are 1-7 Ivy, the men 2-5) and the Ivy calendar is coming to an end, they’re running out of time to redeem themselves. They probably won’t, but at least you’ll get to see Camille Zimmerman and Mike Smith do their thing.

Are they in a sorority? via gocolumbialions.com

Feb

16

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Learn how we are all involuntary informants of the state in the BCRW talk!

Happening in the World: A Barstool Sports radio host Patrick Connor was fired for making inappropriate sexual remarks (content warning) about 17-year-old Olympian Chloe Kim. Connor remarked, “that’s what I like about them high school girls,” on Barstool Sports and was fired on Wednesday by KNBR, another radio station he worked for. Connor has since apologized to Kim and her family for the remarks. (CNN)

Happening in the US: Wardell Jackson, a Mississippi police officer, has been suspended without pay for engaging in a verbal confrontation with Confederate flag-wavers in front of the new civil rights museum in Jackson, MS. Jackson denied flag-bearers entry onto the museum grounds, allegedly grabbing one of the flags to move it away. Jackson’s actions have reignited the debate on Mississippi’s state flag which still bears the Confederate flag. (NY Times)

Happening in NYC: Rikers Island is projected to close before the 10 year plan lawmakers have proposed. Rikers is a particularly popular target for prison abolitionists as there are overwhelming reports of assaults against prisoners, racist correctional officers, and deplorable living conditions. While the initial proposal did not ensure that Rikers would be closed within 10 years, New York state officials condemned the conditions of Rikers, adding that Rikers would close should the city fail to improve the state of the facility. Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to replace Rikers with four correctional facilities among the boroughs. (NY Times)

Happening on Campus: The Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) will be hosting Subverting Surveillance: Strategies to End State Violence in the Diana Center today, starting at 4 pm, as a part of their Scholar and Feminist Conference.

Overheard: “He looks like Daniel Radcliffe never got out from under the stairs.”

Song of the Day:

Shouldn’t security make us feel safer? via Public Domain Pictures

Feb

15

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A tale of woe, that chills the heart of any mortal man.

Gather round, students, get close to the warmth of the campfire. Desperately tired Bwogger Levi Cohen has a tale of despair for you all…

It’s the middle of February, the grayest of months. You’ve managed to get into something of a routine with all of your classes. Sure, your Global Core seminar has upwards of 100 pages of reading per week in PDFs, but so what? You’ve come this far in your Columbia career. Every week, you faithfully open Canvas and download whatever documents your professor wants you to read. You might skim one or two—surely no one in the class is reading everything? Except maybe that one girl. There’s always that one girl.

Yet one chilly, gray day, everything changes. You’re slipping on your coat, your gloves, your protective armor against the bitter New York wind—you give a cheerful wave across the table to a girl you only see once a week in this seminar. (After this class, you’ll never see her again.) Suddenly, the professor calls out—”Hold on a moment,” he says, and everyone freezes. A boy’s hand leaves the doorknob. All wait to hear what he has to say.

“I’ve decided that I want you to buy the full text of—” your professor says. You don’t hear anything else. Your world spins, like that old Mr. Krabs meme. His voice echoes in your head. But he’s already posted the first four chapters, in full, as PDFs on Canvas, you tell yourself. A benevolent god wouldn’t let him change his mind like this. You turn to the heavens. WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME, you shout in your head. The professor is explaining his reasoning. The latter half of the book makes good points… will draw a nice contrast to what we discuss in Week 8…

How do you survive this atrocity?

Feb

15

Written by

Strike a pose?

EIC Betsy Ladyzhets and Sports Editor Abby Rubel were gracefully invited to see the 124th Varsity Show’s annual West End Preview last night in the Diana Event Oval, filling in for Bwog’s Arts Editor (who had rehearsal). They had hopes that this year’s production would be stronger than Varsity Shows past, but so far are not particularly impressed.

Last night, Varsity Show put on the West End Preview, their annual teaser for the final production (in this case, V124). These teasers are designed to give viewers a preview of the best songs, characters, and jokes in the show, leaving us wanting more. Unfortunately, this preview left us wanting less.

The plot, from what we saw, revolves around CCSC elections. The protagonist, Julie, is struggling to choose whether to run with Graham, a COÖP leader, or Chelsea, a DG sister. Julie’s motivations for running are unclear. Nor is it obvious why everyone else is so desperate to have her, or why she’s friends with either of the highly unpleasant, self-absorbed co-leads. (We might have been less confused if we could understand anything the actors were saying.)

In the first song, two groups of students, each wearing their own matching T-shirts, sit in circles on the stage. We originally thought this was NSOP, but when Julie (Sophia Houdaigui, BC ’21) starts to talk about the challenges of being a second-semester freshman, it becomes clear we’re seeing a different outdoor picnic. (Surf ‘n’ Turf? We weren’t entirely sure.) She has a decision to make about her next couple of semesters at Columbia—a decision she prolongs with a song about how all her friendships have grown since the beginning of the year. Houdaigui has a strong voice, and the arrangement was passable, but it would have been much more powerful if we’d had a clear idea of what she was singing about. Although context will hopefully ease this issue in the final version of the show, it seems that a lack of clarity has carried over to this year’s production from previous Varsity Shows.

And it didn’t get much better…

Feb

15

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Living in the City That Never Sleeps is supposed to mean that everything is open 24/7. It’s supposed to mean that if you want a burger and fries at 2 am, you should be able to get it delivered, no problems. Bwogger Sarah Harty reminds us that there are entities out there that ruin those perfect plans: in this case Postmates and Columbia conspiring against our late-night cravings.

Picture this: It’s the early hours of the morning, it’s freezing outside, and every dining option except for JJ’s (or including, if you go to Barnard) is closed for the night. You haven’t eaten since dinner – or maybe a late lunch – and the pile of work in front of you is just getting bigger, and your stomach is only getting louder. Whether you’re holed up in your dorm or kicking it in Butler, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel: Postmates.

An all-too-often occurrence.

Even though perennial Postmates favorites such as Shake Shack and Chipotle close before midnight, there’s still a surprising amount of restaurants willing to deliver until 2 or 3 am. So you make your order – let’s say a burger and fries from Johnny Rockets in Midtown. It’s quickly accepted, your estimated delivery time is a reasonable 30-45 min, and you settle back in and await your late night meal. Simple, right? Wrong.

The paths Postmates takes after accepting a delivery are numerous and often incomprehensible. Sometimes your order will be canceled for no reason. Other times the ETA will go later and later until you’re not even sure the restaurant will be open at that time. There’s four stages of an order – acceptance, preparation, pick up, and delivery. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t let you contact your courier until the pick up stage, and things can easily go awry before then. The restaurant might not even have what you ordered and you can’t do anything about it. An option to change your order before this stage would ensure that people get something they want.

It goes downhill from here…

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