AskBwog: Spec-cest
Bwog luvs you

Bwog luvs you

Dear Bwog,

I am a freshman, so I don’t know much about the rules of journalism at Columbia. Here is my question—am I allowed to be part of both Bwog and Spec?



Dear Bwog-curious,

We love that you’re interested in experimenting with Bwog, and we don’t care what other publications you’ve written for in the past! That’s your business, baby. However, we do have to tell you that if you’re currently working for another publication, such as Spec, it might be hard to devote your love to us, too.

You are, of course, welcome to attend our meetings regardless of who else you’re seeing at the moment. Our meetings and our hearts are open, though we ask that you keep what happens between us confidential. It just makes us feel dirty when you talk about all the fun things you and Spec do together, and we know they feel the same way.

If you’re interested in writing us an article, or joining our staff, you should talk to our board and the board of the other publication you work for. Holding prominent positions in both Spec and Bwog could make it difficult for you to write in an unbiased manner. As one Spec writer has been heard to say, “I work for Spec. I can’t write for Bwog. Do you realize what a scandal that would be?” We don’t mind a good scandal now and again, but we must insist that the other publications you work for also consent to an open relationship.



Mine Heart via Shutterstock

Overseen: A Deer That, Like Our Sense Of Wonder, Definitely Exists
Portrait of a Young Deer

Look! It’s labeled!

Tuesday night we were tipped this absolutely discernible photo of a deer.

At first, we could not see the deer.

But then, we mused, carelessly scanning the pixilation, if there were a deer, whose first thought would be to take a quality photo?

We remembered a morning long ago from our childhood in Vermont, when we snuck out of the house with our older sister to investigate a sound in the woods. Our cotton pajamas doing nothing to hold back the early fall chill, we were hunting a sasquatch or the ghost of John Cooper from the mill, but instead found ourselves face to face with the largest buck we’d ever seen. The golden green first light of dawn behind it, it was cast in silhouette, but we could just make out its eyes, enormous and black and intolerably alien and incomprehensibly familiar. We realized in that moment how small we were and how big the world actually was, how flimsy our protection from a great and terrible nature, and we understood that the only appropriate response to this was awe.

And thinking back, we wondered suddenly when the world had last felt this way. We considered life now, the problem sets, the case studies, the info sessions and interviews. We thought about how Don Quixote had become a chore and how Plato was just another assignment. We began to worry that we would never again feel astonishment, that we would forget we ever had. In a blind panic we recognized that our lives were fast becoming a living death, if they weren’t already.

And then we saw the deer! It was there all along! It has to have been! Isn’t that cool? And in Riverside Park. Amazing!

LectureHop: An Evening With Peter Thiel
More logos than a NASCAR driver

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. Yesterday night, he came to campus to promote his new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build The Future. Armchair Analyst Kevin Chen went to see what it was all about.

As an audience consisting mostly of well-dressed B-school students filed in, songs from the Mulan soundtrack played over the speakers. The line to get into the event stretched across 114th Street and past Butler. But if you thought that was long, the list of event co-hosts was even longer: Columbia Organization for Rising Entrepreneurs, The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School, and Columbia University Entrepreneurship.

After promising Vincent Ponzo, Director of the Lang Center, that we’d give Thiel a “warm New York City welcome” (if such a thing even exists), we finally got to see the man himself.

According to Thiel, Zero to One is about the unique moments that happen when someone creates a new product for the first time: maybe the first airplane, or the first iPhone. Do these events have anything in common with each other that can be applied again and again? Thiel says yes—and that’s the question the book tries to answer.

“We’re living in a world where courage is in even shorter supply than genius,” Thiel likes to say, meaning that people are more afraid to deviate from what they’ve been taught, keeping them from pursuing new ideas they come up with. The book focuses on what Thiel calls “contrarian answers”—challenges to conventional wisdom. Most people believe this, but that’s not the truth. Most people believe capitalism is synonymous with competition, but Thiel claims they are opposites. Google is a capitalist (making a lot of money) because it has no competition. There’s a ton of competition for NYC restaurants so none of them are making that much money. “The people who have monopolies don’t talk about them”—Google defines itself as a technology company competing in many areas against the likes of Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, to draw attention away from its monopoly in search.

People seek competition because there’s a sense of safety in crowds. Thiel takes this opportunity to talk about his background. He started out as your stereotypical Ivy Leaguer: after graduating from Stanford (shush, it’s the Ivy League of the west coast), he went to law school and worked at a NYC law firm. Through a “quarter-life crisis,” he realized that he hated how his coworkers always tried to one-up each other. Thiel moved to California and started PayPal during the tech boom of the late 1990s.

Thiel wraps up his prepared statement by touching on the trade-off between globalization and technological innovation. In the last 40 years, the world has been focused on copying and globalizing at the expense of innovation—for instance, we aren’t seeing many solutions to the energy and transportation problems. It’s even reflected in our language: the developing world is supposed to copy the developed. “When we say we live in the developed world, we say that there will be nothing new. We should be asking how we can develop the developed world.”

Questions for Thiel: monopolies, SpaceX, and Star Trek, coming up after the jump.

For The Aspiring Raskolnikov: Nussbaum “Lounge Rooms”
Maybe if they decorate...

Maybe if they decorate…

After receiving not one but two ominous mysterious tips about so-called “lounge rooms” in Nussbaum,

“This summer they made all the Nussbaum floor lounges into rooms. The problem is that the rooms have windows the width of a golf ball. I can barely breath, let alone sleep. Still paying 9K a year to live here. HELP”

“I am livng (sic) in one of the lounges in nussbaum that they made into bedrooms. The room is so poorly ventilated that I have to sleep with my door open or else I get coughing fits from the chemicals used to finish to floor. I am still paying $9,000 a year. This is disgusting.”

We took it upon ourselves to knock on doors in a desperate attempt to blow off CC reading conduct some serious, hard-hitting investigative journalism.

What did our investigative team discover? Did they make it out alive? Find out, after the jump.

Breaking: A Gift From Above, Classic NINJa Printing Restored
Grasping towards the sun is the only way to actually reach the administration. That and Bwog.

Grasping towards the sun is the only way to reach the administration. That and Bwog.

Thy people grumbled, and thy Administration said Give It Time. And thy new NINJa printer system continued to fail. And Bwog received many tips about it.

And so thy administration, in the form of Eleanor E. Templeton, Director of Strategic Communications, released the following to Bwog:

Despite careful analysis and advance planning, multiple challenges have led us to decide to roll back to the original NINJa system. We apologize for the inconvenience and frustration that the upgrade caused.

Restoring of all of the NINJa printing stations is almost complete with remaining sites addressed by early next week. We have already begun an assessment to identify a printing solution that will better meet the needs of our students.

And there was much rejoicing.


Hand gesturing to the heavens via Shutterstock 

SGA: 2 Short 2 Write About
Empty, because everyone has left

Empty, because everyone left

Monday’s SGA meeting lasted a record 20-ish minutes. Bwogger Lauren Beltrone was dutifully present for all 20-ish minutes and has very little to report back to you.

In case you’ve never been to an SGA meeting, you should know that they’re made up of two parts: one internal and one external. Everyone is allowed to sit-in on the external part, which is the one I attend. The second part is internal and only members of SGA are allowed to be there for that. Usually, external lasts from 8-9:30pm and then internal takes place, but on Monday, external was deliberately really short because there was a lot to do internally.

The one thing that did happen was Haley Schoeck talked about why she should be appointed SGA’s Representative to Campus Affairs. She’s all about open and immediate communication because she feels that most discontentment with Barnard stems from students being out of the loop. Seems legit to me.

Other than that, Aku Acquaye was elected First Year Class President with Masha Ikromova as VP and Tianyi Huang as Treasurer. Congrats to the newly elected first years!

Dutch Parliament brought to you by Shutterstock

Bwoglines: The World Stage Edition
...Theme music plays...

…Theme music plays…

Will Scotland finally leave U.K. once and for all? Or will these two crazy countries find they have some love left?  (The Wall Street Journal)

Will India and China put aside their differences and find friendship? After some late night wine and whispered foreign policy, will they find… something more? (BBC)

Now that the Republican party is cool again, will it ditch its new friends to go to the cool party parties? (Gallup)

Will YOU transfer to Brown when you learn that New York dive bars may be closing? (New York Times)

Will the Fed raise the interest rates? No. (New York Times)

Bizarrely appropriate stock art, brought to you by Shutterstock

A Note To Our Readers

Dearest Bwog Readers,

It is with sorrow that Maud and Sarah Faith announce that they are stepping down from their positions as Editors-in-Chief of Bwog. Maud will reassume her position as Internal Editor, and Sarah Faith will remain as a loyal contributor as well as in a consulting role to assist in the final stages of our site’s full redesign, a project that she spearheaded during her tenure as Editor-in-Chief.

In their place, they have appointed current Chief of Staff and Deputy Editor Julia Goodman to the position of Editor-in-Chief. They are confident in her ability to lead the publication until the next Editor-in-Chief is chosen at the end of the fall semester. In addition, Claire Friedman will continue in her role as Managing Editor.

While we are extremely proud of the work they have accomplished over the past year, Maud and Sarah Faith no longer feel that they can dedicate the amount of time that this position requires. They have immensely enjoyed their time leading a publication so central to the Columbia community and working with such a passionate and creative staff, but are eager to have more time for their other interests.

All the crabs, always,
Maud, Sarah Faith, Claire, Julia, and Jake

Overseen: More Falling Ceilings In Carman

Spotted in Carman last night. Though perhaps not as destructive/horrifying as last year’s ceiling incidents, who knows what our decrepit dorms have in store for us next!

This was sent into us with the following message: “I don’t know what just fell from the ceiling in the Carmine lobby, but it’s disgusting” *Carmine*



Reminder: Register For Urban NY!
Get out of MoHi!

Get out of MoHi!

Hey, freshpeople, do you remember your tour guide saying something about getting free tickets to cool things around the city? Now’s your chance: Register here with Urban NY for a chance to go to a performance of Wicked, the Big Apple Circus, a Knicks game, and more. Registration began on Monday and goes until this coming Monday (September 22nd) at 11:59 pm. You can only win once, though, so make sure you can actually attend the events you select.

Student Engagement created the Urban New York program* — the answer to your NYC dreams. Urban New York gives students (YOU!) the opportunity to win FREE TICKETS through a lottery to all kinds of exciting trips around the city (Broadway shows, concerts, sporting events, etc.). The fall semester lottery is reserved only for First-Year students in BC/CC/SEAS — so you have a terrific chance of winning a ticket!

City lights via Shutterstock

LectureHop: Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp

Tharp in 2004

This past Monday evening, dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp BC ’63 was at Barnard where she talked dance, her college years, and her book. Anastasiya Vasilyeva was there to report on the talk and how it was received by the students.

Twyla Tharp–an acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and now writer–returned to her old turf of Barnard College to lecture eager fans and students, as well as to conduct a signing for her book, The Creative Habit (2002). She began with a yo-yo and and closed with an advertisement, radiating with pride throughout the talk.

After a brief introduction about her humble education, since at the time Tharp attended school Barnard’s dance classes were just a part of the PE department, Tharp went chronologically through her works. She worked from first to most recent, delineating main points, successes, and failures, and showing brief clips of the dances, meant to match the chapter titles of The Creative Habit. Murmurs filled the Event Oval at the end of the seemingly helpful Q&A session, proclaiming the book to be far more interesting than the lecture. “It contained more art history,” one attendee whispered, “It was more on her creative process.”

The clips progressed from blurry, black and white videos to modern HD, demonstrating the length of her successful career, all from her self-advertised website. Tharp described her humble beginnings as having “No music. No production. No administration. No men.” During the majority of the clips, Tharp narrated the routine, or just counted and nodded along, illustrating her clear memory of these performances, despite the sometimes tens of years that have passed.

More on Tharp’s new class and some Barnard lovin’ after the jump.

Too Good To Be True? Columbia Maker Space Opens Its Doors, Checkbook
maker space 1

~get creative~

Feeling crafty? Have you thought of a cool way to pimp your dorm room (pipe cleaners!!!!)? Bwogger Henry Litwhiler takes us to the newly opened Maker Space to talk about the innovative opportunities that are now available.

For those currently harboring detailed blueprints for an erotic tea set under their floorboards, Columbia has launched a surprisingly generous initiative to make those and other friendship-straining dreams come true. Called the Columbia Maker Space, the new workshop is situated on the 12th floor of Mudd and features a wide array of equipment and materials for all manner of projects. The room features two large and two small 3D printers, a drill press, three rather high-tech sewing machines, an assortment of power and woodworking tools, a soldering bench, a vinyl cutter, and a bike station. A laser cutter is expected to arrive soon.

With the blessing of Dean Boyce and under the advisement of Professor John Kymissis, the Space has opened its doors to students at CC and SEAS, regardless of major. When asked about a certain affiliated women’s college, Professor Kymissis said that the organizers were “working on Barnard” and that “nobody’s really sure.” One organizer indicated that the Maker Space has been “hesitant” to open itself up to graduate students for fear that they’d overrun the place for research.

Exploring our wildest dreams after the jump.

Bwoglines: Innovation And Addiction Edition
Controllin dat cell phone consumption

Controllin’ dat cell phone consumption

There’s a new app that will tell you how many times you check your phone throughout the day. (We weren’t on Tinder–we promise!) (Gawker)

According to a national survey on drug use, American teens are apparently using drugs less and less often…really?? (Washington Post)

There’s a proposed high-speed gondola (called the East River Skyway) that would connect Manhattan to parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx. It’s said to be safer, greener, and prettier!!! (Gothamist)

From the night of the Benghazi attacks on September 11, 2012 to early May of this year, Fox News aired 1,098 segments covering it. Additionally, when Fox was interviewing members of Congress, they asked Republicans about the attacks 144 different times, while only doing so five times with Democrats. (Huffington Post)

This guy paid $65 for a jug of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice syrup and put it on basically everything he ate. (Grub Street)

Image via Shutterstock

Clued In At The Call Center
Following the money.

Following the money.

A few weeks ago, we at Bwog received an interesting and moderately disturbing tip about the Columbia Calling Center, a fairly popular place for first years to work to earn a little bit of extra money:

“Could you investigate what’s going on with the columbia calling center? There’s this thread on b@b that’s talking about this columbia-run calling center that has students ask alums for money. The entire thread is here:

The post that got my attention was this one: ‘the callers are majority poor african american students, at least when i was there. many of them would not be able to pay for tuition without the job. to make matters worse, alums on the phone tended to respond better to my phone habits/diction/tone/general phone presence, so i easily got more donations and was praised by their supervisor. it made me feel shitty and out of my element, especially since i was basically just there for beer money.’”

We knew it was our duty to investigate these allegations and ensure that no scandal was overlooked nor false rumor propagated. The Columbia Calling Center, located on 113th street, advertises itself (as places looking to attract employees are wont to do) as a “fun, student friendly atmosphere” and a “meaningful and worthwhile cause.” Much more appealing to the students who apply, however, is the advertised pay of $12.75 an hour. One of our anonymous interviewees described his job as “I make calls to alumni attempting to get them to donate to our annual fund, mostly for financial aid and scholarships.” It is a necessary job, even if it is somewhat uncomfortable to ask strangers for money. With a basic understanding of the structure and function of the Calling Center, we began to ask about the workplace environment.

One friend of Bwog gave an account of life at the calling center over the Internet which corroborated some of the claims from the anonymous tip: “I heard they used to make people stand up if they didn’t get alums to donate but they stopped doing that once I joined… If anything the alums were just pretty bad and would sometimes say racist things or hate on Columbia.”

Read on for the rest of what we heard.

WTF Columbia: Package Center
Oh, the humanity!

Oh, the humanity!

In case no one loves you enough to send you mail you haven’t been to Lerner lately, this is a PSA about the package center. It is a madhouse. Bwog has received photos of some monster package center lines, and below are some of the worst stories we’ve heard. Please stop ordering things from Amazon until this public hazard is under control. (Ed. note: The package center was open for extra hours this past Sunday; no word yet on whether or how long this will continue.)

Money troubles:

“I need my passport so I can get paid at my new job. It was supposed to be here LAST MONDAY and it is still not here and I still can’t get paid.”

That’s why you never buy textbooks:

“I only needed a book for one class of the semester for my seminar, but it took 7 days to process it once it arrived at the package center so I wasted that money :(”


“I went there last week because I got an email notification.  Waited in line for like 30 mins and then when I got to the front they told me they couldn’t find my package and to come back later….so I came back the next day, waited again in the monstrous line only to have them tell me I never had a package and the notification was a mistake. oops.”

The Kevin Chen affair:

“They gave my books to one of the other four Kevin Chens at Columbia. It took weeks to track down who had them since I’ve only met two of them.”

Mixed messages:

“I was told I had to go the Manhattanville Post Office because they wouldn’t redeliver my package to Lerner. After waiting in line for 30 minutes the post office told me that they didn’t know where my package was and I had to wait til it got to Lerner.”