Campus Character: Ridge Montes
Illustration by Rachel Chin, CC '18

Illustration by Rachel Chin, CC ’18

Further honoring our loving relationship with our mother magazine, The Blue and White, we present one of the mag’s monthly campus characters, Ridge Montes, SEAS ’15, an RA who has managed to win the housing lottery by scoring digs in EC for the past three years, written by staff writer Jen Sluka, CC ’17. Be sure to check out this month’s ATSL, a feature on an EC security guard, and a personal essay on trans identities and visibility if you haven’t already.

“I literally don’t matter and that is the most validating thing. I feel more special for how unexceptional I am,” Ridge Montes, SEAS ’15, tells me as we wrap up our interview. We had been talking philosophy, as Ridge often does.

“On a deep, deep, deep fundamental level, we are all the same,” he’d said earlier, before clarifying. “Not all our attributes are the same, not even our habits are the same, but the praxis that we use for retaining or changing habits over the course of a lifetime has a very strong similarity one person to the next, so much so that we can talk about life, or talk about love.”

Our three hour conversation ended up in the EC townhouse where he has lived as an RA for three years. Ridge has been in dorms for a long time, from boarding school to the 3-2 combined plan at Columbia, with a pit stop at the University of Chicago in between.

In addition to his RA job, Ridge works in the Classics department and at Vino Fino, a wine shop close to Columbia. He has been financially independent throughout his time at Columbia. “All the clothes I wear, all the knick knacks in my room, I can think about them in terms of life I spent,” Ridge tells me. “So one hour at the office will buy me maybe three bottles of beer, maybe a T-shirt, and you populate your life, you make it the fingerprint of your activities.”

When we arrived at his townhouse, Ridge put on the overture to The Magic Flute, his favorite opera, and we continued our conversation over a meal of shakshuka, which Ridge prepared on the spot. He likes to cook for people—it’s how he met his best friend, Patrick Aloia, CC ‘15. Near the end of the first semester of their CC class, Ridge invited Patrick and a few other classmates over for dinner. “We went over to his home, he got us wine, he made us roast chicken, rice, everything tasted great, and we just talked about philosophy and our lives,” says Patrick. “It was totally natural and he made us feel welcome.”

Things get philosophical.

Bwog Meeting Tonight!
"Talk about some delicious breasts!"

“Wow hun, these breasts are great!” “Do you want me to toss your salad, sweetie?” “No thanks mom, I’m still stuffed from all that dark meat.” “My daughter’s breasts are always delicious.”

Whether you decide to celebrate Columbus’ slaughtering of the natives Turkey Day or not, Daily Editor Mason Amelotte recommends you take a moment to reflect on the true nature of Thanksgiving: sex puns.

Indeed, Thanksgiving is the only holiday (other than Presidents’ Day, but that’s a different story) where sex jokes can should run rampant in a family setting. Wondering who the real kinky ones in your house are? Try dropping a few of these holiday innuendos to find out:

  • I’m feeling adventurous. I think I’m going to try some dark meat this year!
  • Is it ready yet? When did you put it in?
  • If I don’t unbutton my pants, I think I’ll burst!
  • Just reach in and grab the insides, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, son.
  • Open up wide!
  • My parents always taught me that tying the legs together keeps the inside nice and moist.
  • I wasn’t expecting everyone to come all at once!

This list of innuendos is in no way comprehensive. In fact, we’re saving the best jokes for tonight at our weekly meeting. Come join us at 7PM in the SGO on the 5th floor of Lerner! Light refreshments and heavy puns will be served.

Bwog stops in for Thanksgiving dinner via Shutterstock

Bucket List: Short & Sweet

Bucket List represents the intellectual privilege we enjoy as Columbia students. This Thanksgiving, fill your head with scholarly thoughts before you fill your stomach with turkey. Our recommendations for this (very short) week are below. If you notice any events that have been left off the list, or a correction, please leave them in the comments.

Recommended

  • “On the Core: Student Identities and Experiences in Lit Hum” Lerner 401, Mon 6:30-8:00 PM. Edward Mendelson, Darragh Martin, Melinda Aquino. Food served.
  • “Rethinking the “One-Sex” Body: Sex, Gender, and Medicine in Medieval and Early Modern Europe” Heyman Center 2nd Floor, Mon 6:15 PM. Katharine Park.
  • “Live at Lerner presents Upright Citizens Brigade” Roone Arledge Auditorium, Mon 7:30 PM. Upright Citizens Brigade.

Monday, November 24

  • “Rethinking the “One-Sex” Body: Sex, Gender, and Medicine in Medieval and Early Modern Europe” Heyman Center 2nd Floor, 6:15 PM. Katharine Park.
  • “Forests of Memory” IAB 1501, 6:00-8:00 PM. Eduardo Cadava.
  • “Coherence and Resonance: How to Read Film Openings” Faculty House 2nd Floor, 8:00-10:00 PM. Annette Insdorf.
  • “On the Core: Student Identities and Experiences in Lit Hum” Lerner 401, 6:30-8:00 PM. Edward Mendelson, Darragh Martin, Melinda Aquino. Food served.
  • “Preserving a Global Internet” IAB 1501, 12:00-1:00 PM. Fadi Chehade.
  • “Demystifying Bitcoin” Lerner Broadway Room, 8:00-10:00 PM. Michael Sonnenshein, Jaron Lukasiewicz, Greg Schvey.
  • “Live at Lerner presents Upright Citizens Brigade” Roone Arledge Auditorium, 7:30 PM. Upright Citizens Brigade.

Tuesday, November 25

  • “World Energy Outlook 2014″ IAB 1501, 12:30-1:45 PM. Fatih Birol. Register.
LectureHop: Gaza, The IDF Code Of Ethics, And The Morality Of War
The battleground

The battlezone

This week, JTS hosted a panel with Arnold Eisen and Dr. Moshe Halbertal on modern issues with the Israeli Defense Force, its Code of Ethics, and where they stand in Gaza. Max Rettig (GS/JTS ’17) shares the discussion. 

As a student in the Joint Program between GS and JTS, I am incredibly privileged to explore my intellectual interests at both institutions. JTS, perhaps the foremost school of Jewish scholarship in the United States, regularly brings in notable scholars and distinguished professional leaders with Jewish backgrounds to discuss important issues of our time. Such was the case Thursday night, when JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen and Dr. Moshe Halbertal talked about the problems surrounding this past summer’s conflict in Gaza in relation to the code of ethics that governs how the Israel Defense Forces operates.

Halbertal, of Israeli descent, is a professor of law at NYU, of Jewish thought and philosophy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has taught visiting stints at both Harvard and Yale law schools. In 2000, Halbertal was part of the team that created the IDF’s current code of ethics. Eisen, the Chancellor of JTS since 2007, is a leading scholar of American Jewry and a professor of Jewish thought at JTS. At around 7:32 pm on Thursday night, both sat down to talk about the very real issues the Israeli army faced during its operation in Gaza this past summer, and how those issues shaped how the IDF approached the operation from an ethical standpoint.

He delved into three main ethical principles that directly affect how the IDF approaches wars: Purpose of Arms (Matarah), Distinction (Havchanah) and Responsibility (Achriut).

Let’s talk ethics now

Bwoglines: Thankful Edition
Looking at the calendar and seeing Winter break fast approaching

Looking at the calendar and seeing how fast Winter break is approaching

Looks like Netflix wins again. Everyone’s favorite media streaming service just bought the rights to Tina Fey’s new show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, after originally being developed for NBC, which means you probably won’t have to wait 13 fucking weeks a long time to finish an entire season. (The Verge)

The world is working towards getting a little less racist, although it looks like we still have a little ways to go. (Huffington Post)

In other news related to Obama’s deportation relief plan, Saturday Night Live parodied your favorite politics-related show from elementary school: Schoolhouse Rock. The results are just as good as you would expect. (Mediaite)

Looking for your daily dose of cute animals? Look no further. This video of a Pygmy Marmoset—a fancy title meaning super cute hand-held monkey in Latin—will melt your heart. (Huffington Post)

Columbia gets thankful via Shutterstock

Lecturehop: Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka
Bill Drayton holds the world up to see

Bill Drayton holds the world up to see

Entrepreneurship enthusiast Karen Yuan brings word from the mouth of a THE self-styled social entrepreneur, Bill Drayton.

Social entrepreneurship—that’s a buzzword that nobody really understands, but Bill Drayton defines it as any “innovation initiative for the common good.” At 71, Drayton is the granddad of social entrepreneurship, having coined the phrase himself about 30 years ago.

Drayton came to speak at Columbia on Thursday night about Ashoka, the social entrepreneurship empire that he built in 1980, around the same time the very concept of social entrepreneurship began. Ashoka has a network of over 3000 Fellows in 70 countries, with over half of them changing national policy in their first 5 years. Fellow Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Malala.

In a fireside chat with Ashoka Fellow Greg Van Kirk, Drayton focused on three major points. His speech was part-lil pellets of wisdom, part-call to action.

1. We’re all living in a turning point right now.

So this got a bit doomsayerly, but Drayton spoke about how everyone was living in a turning point in history right now. “Society is shifting from a system of repetition to a system of change,” Drayton said. “Before, our focus was on efficiency and repetition – assembly lines, school systems, and the like. But this system is failing, and change is the new game.”

According to Drayton, Detroit missed a turning point about 50 years ago, which contributed to its decline from a prosperity to bankruptcy. “If we don’t do anything, we could all become Detroit. But it wouldn’t take 50 years—it’d take 15.”

Do what, though? Drayton said to spot areas for creating value, and, more generally, to start practicing empathy.

2. Give yourself permission.

“Give yourself permission to change things,” Drayton said. He spoke about a 12 year old girl who set up a bicycle system to bring fresh food into the food desert of Oakland. It grew from her practicing empathy: Having an autistic brother, she would intervene in the mistreatment of special needs kids at school.

“The new system of change is inherently equal,” Drayton continued. “Everyone is powerful and everyone can give.” You couldn’t be a good person just by diligently following the rules. The most important skill you needed in this new world of change was empathy, like the young girl from Oakland. “Young people are not children. They’re ready to be change makers, too.”

3. Social entrepreneurship is not business.

Drayton was quick to stress that “social entrepreneurship” wasn’t about making cash. Many people thought of TOMS Shoes as an example of it, but the truth was that social entrepreneurship was basically synonymous with change. “I hate the phrase ‘scaling up’ when talking about an idea,” Drayton said. “If your goal is to double the number of students in your program, for example, then you missed the point. It should be about changing mindsets, patterns, the way things are done.”

Social entrepreneurship was actually more political than financial, since it was often an invisible mechanism that majorly influenced politics, such as activism for equal pay impacting policy in D.C.

Despite his emphasis against business, Drayton still preached teamwork. “The most powerful thing in the world is a big idea…collaborate on them.”

 Social entrepreneurship via YouTube

Overheard: Preaching to the Choir
Accurate depiction of Dodge

Everyday sight in Dodge

A student tour guide was overheard singing the praises of Columbia’s fitness offerings near the entrance to Dodge:

“We have all kinds of sports and activities, including yoga and aerobics—like what middle-aged moms do.”

The tipster noted that the group was mostly middle aged moms and their kids. This might not be what they mean when they say “know your audience”.

 

 

 

 

 

Health-conscious human via Shutterstock

From The Issue: The Guide To Living

Rounding out our reproductions from our dear mother magazine, The Blue and White, check out Senior Editor Luca Marzorati’s, CC ’15, review of The Alphabets of Life: A Simple Guide to Living Simply by La-Verna J. Fountain, Columbia’s Vice President for Construction Business Services and Communications (in other words, the woman who fields all of the media questions about the Manhattanville expansion). 

The Alphabets of Life: A Simple
Guide to Living Simply
by La-Verna J. Fountain
Travers Pr, 241 pages
$9.96

The late comedian George Carlin was no fan of self-help books. “There’s no such thing as self-help,” he said. “If you did it yourself, you didn’t need help. You did it yourself!”

Carlin would have undoubtedly dropped at least one of his seven dirty words when reading The Alphabets of Life: A Simple Guide to Living Simply by La-Verna J. Fountain. The book, published in 1999, is a collection of 26 alphabetized advice essays, from “Accept What You Cannot Change” to “Zealously Pursue Your Life.”

In her day job, Fountain is Vice President for Construction Business Services and Communications at Columbia, which has made her a de facto press secretary for the Manhattanville expansion. When not defending the university in the press, Fountain is a motivational speaker, part of a $10 billion industry dedicated to telling people how to better their lives.

The Alphabets of Life demonstrates Fountain’s ability to simplify complex problems into pithy statements, a skill conducive to success in both motivational speaking and defending a university accused of ripping off the neighborhood it is taking over. Hearing Fountain tell the Columbia Spectator that “Columbia, as a landlord, is doing exactly as tenants expect” sounds slightly less bizarre coming from someone who repeatedly insists that “Facts change” throughout her book. Fountain’s aphorisms range in quality from charming to cringe-worthy: in a single chapter, her prose ranges from “Emotions are like a spice” to “The mind. Wow.”

Like most in the motivation industry, Fountain does not operate in life’s grey areas. Her book begins, “What can you change? Then, change it! What can’t you change? Then, move on!” This Nieburhian adaptation is simple enough; the reader cannot be judged for wondering how Fountain will fill the other 25 alphabetized chapters. Yet fill them she does, with anecdotes from family and friends, religious proclamations, and a page of exercises and questions at the end of each section.

Such book, much review.

CMTS’s Rousing “The Drowsy Chaperone”
She really doesn't care about anything

Actors portray the two main emotions of the audience

Champion of the arts and drama devotee Ross Chapman bravely surrendered his Friday night to a viewing of CMTS’s “The Drowsy Chaperone”—all for you, dear reader.

After our talks with members of the Columbia Musical Theatre Society, The Drowsy Chaperone seemed like a great way to spend a Friday evening. A well-sized crowd in Roone Arledge agreed, picking up fancy playbills and filing into the same chairs you sat in for those mandatory NSOP events. At promptly 7:35 P.M., Man In Chair (portrayed by Talmage Wise, CC ’18) took his seat in the eponymous seat and set the musical into action.

Everything starts with a paradoxical monologue. “I hate theatre,” Man In Chair laments, but he goes on to elaborate that he really hates new theatre. He longs for a simpler time, one where a “gay wedding” was just a happy, heteronormative event and plot, that thing that links otherwise unrelated production numbers, was only as important in musicals as it was in porn (his words, not mine). So he puts on a record and transports the audience to the past.

The opening number, “Fancy Dress,” sets up the show in two ways. It introduces the concept of the play-within-the-play, the marriage of Robert Martin (Sam Balzac, CC ’17) and Janet Van De Graaff (Lacey Bookspan, BC ’17), and all of its ancillary characters. It also establishes the mood, one of a decidedly farcical and nonsensical piece of fun fiction. Throughout the musical, a tension emerges between the whimsical world of Man In Chair’s vinyl and the harsh realities of his failing life. “The characters are two-dimensional and the plot is well-worn” in the fictional 1928 musical, and the piece explores Man In Chair’s relationship with that sort of setting.

The play harps on and indulges in incongruity between plot and production. Its only truly reprised number, “As We Stumble Along,” inserts itself into the middle of a scene with very little pretext. Its catchy tune and huge production help The Chaperone send out her anthem to drinking. The character of The Chaperone is an older and alcoholic friend of Janet’s. According to Man In Chair, The Chaperone was portrayed in 1928 by an older and alcoholic actress who reminds Man In Chair of his mother. (The Chaperone is played in Roone by Molly Heller, GS/JTS ’15, who is older than Lacey but is decidedly not an alcoholic.)

Entertaining things occur without any reason within the musical. In “Fancy Dress,” every character introduces themselves, including Trix, an aviatrix. She flies in, sings her verse, and leaves, only to return as a deus ex machina in the final scene. And “Bride’s Lament,” Janet’s song of sorrow, has lyrics about monkeys that Man In Chair admits have little to do with the beauty of the music. The actors handled this ludicrous play well. In the best way possible, The Drowsy Chaperone was tastefully overdone. It was self-aware, and got serious when it wanted to. It referenced tropes of musical theatre and used them while maintaining an analytic lens and amusing the audience.

But we heard there was racism! How did that go?

Bwoglines: Hangover Rollercoaster Edition
shutterstock_212279401

Another glass couldn’t hurt

Good news! A study by the CDC of 138,100 U.S. adults has found that 90 percent of Bwog staffers heavy drinkers are not actually alcoholics.

If that has you feeling at all good about the state of humanity, an outbreak of bubonic plague has struck Madagascar, killing forty and threatening to spread further.

But, hey, a survey by PRRI found that 70 percent of Americans claim to “experience a connection to all life” every day or most days. On the off-chance that that warms the cockles of your heart, the same survey found that 49 percent of Americans see recent natural disasters as evidence of “biblical end times”.

A police raid of Chinese General Xu Caihou’s house revealed twelve truck-loads of cash and precious gems, all stored in boxes carefully marked with the names of the sources of the bribes.

Improbably-named Portuguese ex-PM Socrates has been arrested and charged with tax fraud, corruption, and money laundering. Here’s hoping things go better than last time.

Responsible adults via Shutterstock

FREE FOOD: SFSFS Open House Tonight
Dangerous substances

Just say no!

If you’re looking for a wild night of debauchery and excess, Students for Substance Free Space’s open house may be the event for you. From 7-9 PM in Wallach 9C Lounge, you can mingle with current members to learn about SFSFS, play GameCube, and indulge in the most dangerous substances known to man: Pie and ice cream.

SFSFS (try it out loud) is also a Special Interest Community, so with tonight’s spring SIC housing deadline coming up, that may also be of special interest.

Peer pressure via SFSFS FB Event

Debut Bwog Video Meeting Tonight!
That blank space could be your face!

That blank space could be your face!

Do you crave the feeling of being a star? Do you dream of writing an Oscar-winning screenplay? Have you ever wanted to learn to bake special brownies, to be dragged across the floor in Teacher’s College, or to stink up the SGO while wearing business attire? Don’t worry— CU (No Budget) Sketch Show aka CUSS aka the artists formerly known as Bwog Video can help you achieve all these dreams and more!

Come to the Bwog Video meeting tonight at 6:30 pm in Hamilton 317. Get to know the team and be sure to bring ideas!

Blank screen that could be you via Shutterstock
Last Call For Spring SIC Housing
SO many types of houses!

SO many types of houses!

Is your roommate messy/obnoxious/ inconsiderate/a serial killer? Well today might be your last chance to get the hell out of there make other living arrangements for next semester.  The priority deadline for SIC spring housing is today, so get those apps in!

Information about the applications can be found here; just don’t pay attention to the dates behind the curtain (or the dates on this page, for that matter).

Of course, if you love/can tolerate your roommate but still want to experience the SIC life next fall, you have until January 25 to apply.

Sick filter via Shutterstock

PACSA Give Updates, PrezBo Talks Rules Of Conduct At USenate Plenary
PrezBo's thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

PrezBo’s thoughts of freedom of speech at Columbia

It’s a big year for Columbia; holding all the town halls and working on changes for many different ways in which the school operates. Joe Milholland, our trusted Columbia Administration reporter, gives us the talking points from Thursday’s USenate Plenary.

“I know there’s a debate about freedom of speech on the campus,” said PrezBo at Thursday’s USenate Plenary as he gave his opening remarks. While admitting that “the first amendment does not apply to Columbia – it’s a private institution,” he also said he wants to “embrace” freedom of speech “as defined by the first amendment” on campus. Prezbo wants rules that are “consistent with the history of Columbia, consistent with our values, consistent with where other great universities are at this point.”

Prezbo said that sexual assault on campus is “a set of issues we want to attend to in all their dimensions.” Law School student senator Zila Acosta said that PACSA will give a report to the senate in Spring. “One of the things we’re looking at is what type of info the senate would like to see from PACSA,” she said. Columbia College Usenator Marc Heinrich is on the Forum Subcommittee, which focuses on how PACSA “is going to be communicating with the community” to make sure voices from the community are heard, and the Communication Subcommittee, which focuses on communicating to the community what PACSA is doing.

Other Updates:

  • Christopher Riano, co-chair of the rules of conduct committee, said that he has heard from the three town halls so far, “a strong desire for the committee to decide to undergo a review and rewriting of” the rules of university conduct. “The committee will most likely decide at our next meeting on a vote on whether we will engage in writing proposals for the rules of university conduct; however, I can never promise that because I am only one of 15 members,” Riano said.
  • Epidemiology professor Ian Lipkin from the School of Public Health gave a talk about Ebola and Columbia. He wants to continue research in west Africa on infectious diseases, and he mentioned that, in his time doing research at Columbia, Columbia’s been involved in 10 infectious diseases. It takes three days for the Ebola virus to become detectable. There is no cure, only supportive treatment to prevent live and kidney failure. Columbia has held a design contest to combat Ebola. Eight of the submissions received an initial fund of $150 and were given more money later.
  • Howard Worman, Chair of the Committee on External Relations, told the senate that, in real dollars, funding has been flat from ’09-’13. This is about a 10% drop in funding when accounting for inflation. The university is lobbying the federal government for more funding money. In some departments, much of the money comes from funding. He also mentioned that “the committee seemed a little bit burned out on smoking policy.”

Beautiful campus view via Shutterstock

Bwoglines: Energy And Mass Edition
No beard zone.

No beard zone.

This day in history: In 1905 on November 21. Albert Einstein published “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?” leading to the formula E=mc^2.  Did you learn that in FroSci? (PBS)

China is delaying indefinitely the opening of the new Hunger Games movie and in Thailand several cinemas have cancelled showings of the movie (Washington Post).

In other news, Michael Phelps has a beard. Thoughts? No shave November or just a new look? (Washington Post)

In real news Obama has announced that nearly 5 million illegal immigrants will not be deported (BBC).

Five Guantanamo detainees were released and sent to Europe (Los Angeles Times).

 

Coquettish grin via Shutterstock