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img April 15, 20153:48 pmimg 0 Comments

The panel

The panel

Yesterday evening, Barnard hosted an intimate panel in the Diana Event Oval called “Beauty and Aging.” We sent Cosmo Craver Courtney Couillard to hear what President Debora Spar and her fellow panelists had to say about the biting issue all women face at some point in their life.

Having spoken intensively in her writing about women’s relationship with beauty, President Spar moderated last night’s event on the topic of beauty and aging. The panel also featured the following leading women in the beauty fields: Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Joanna Coles; Founder and CEO of Women One, Dayle Haddon; Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr. Rhoda Narins BC ’62; and the author of “The Beauty Myth,” Naomi Wolf.

To begin, President Spar explained the relevance of having this conversation about beauty and aging at Barnard College. As the college has coined the term “bold, beautiful, Barnard women,” President Spar shared she has received flack for referring to Barnard students as ‘beautiful.’ However, President Spar defended the slogan as most Barnard women are indeed beautiful, and the term ‘beautiful’ should be considered in a diverse way. She then went on to point out the struggle women face between being proclaimed feminists while also falling victim to the beauty standards of society. President Spar even joked, “wrinkles are illegal in the borough of Manhattan.” However, she challenged the panel as well as the crowd to consider what relationship feminism has with beauty, and whether a woman’s attempt at making herself look beautiful should be considered a product of her society or a liberating, personal choice.

But how do we handle beauty and aging?



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img April 11, 201511:30 amimg 0 Comments

Down the rabbit hole

Down the rabbit hole

Ever wanted to explore the origins of the friend(s) you keep in your desk drawer? Well, you missed the main event, but doge of the dildo Lili Brown has captured the main thrust.

“I wonder how many times I can use the word ‘came’ tonight”

GS Alliance hosted a talk with GS Advising Dean RJ Jenkins on Thursday night that covered a topic unconventional to Dean talks on an unconventional form of a furry little rabbit. Dean Jenkins, given his expertise in Victorian poetry, presented a pictorial history of vibrator technology (and we hear the rabbit vibrators are the best these days), which primarily (and surprisingly) took off during the close-legged time of Victorian Europe.

He began by showing the trailer to a well-casted film called Hysteria, but we didn’t have the sound to accompany it in Schermerhorn 467. The technical difficulties enhanced the intention of showing the trailer; the faces tell it all and I promise it’s funnier Charlie Chaplin style. The “hysterical true story” is both Hollywood and historically true and proves Dean Jenkins’ association with vibrator technology and the Victorian age. But we’ll get to that point in the chronology later.

“If you don’t know what a double dildo is, google it”


We can do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel

First things first, one of ancient civilization’s less-discussed contributions to modern society was sex toys. “People have always liked to have sex,” and shaking up the situation with a stone-age dildo wasn’t uncommon. The ancients used what materials were available to them, for the double dildo pictured is made 100% of jade. Such a high-class toy today would only seem proper for really quality porn or for artistic display in Hugh Hefner’s mansion.

A question asked at the end of presentation clarified the intended use of these early sexual technologies. The placard (covered by a head in the photo) claims that the double-dildo was exclusive to use “by lesbians,” but Dean Jenkins clarified that sexual relations were divided rigidly into two camps during “the dawn of time:” reproductive and pleasurable. Heterosexual activity served the reproductive purpose, and homosexual activity served the pleasurable purpose, which doesn’t just limit lesbians to the use of the double-dildo. As he said, google it.

Hysteria: “You might as well make getting to Jane’s house a little bit of a situation”

The accessibility of vibrator technology and use that we know today stems from its medicalization and industrialization that came with the Victorian age. These bourgeoisie men were obsessed with inventions, which matched with the change in medical discourse during this time. Many upper-class women were diagnosed with hysteria to categorize their “over-sensitivity” and “emotional variability” into a medical term, and this mysterious disease for a mysterious gender accrued a variety of probable remedies.

What came next?? (heh)



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img April 07, 20159:05 amimg 1 Comments

Macaulay serving face for Bwog

Alastair Macaulay serving face for Bwog

In keeping with the theme of making our baby Bwoggers cover events they have no contextual knowledge of, we sent our Sunday daily editor to Monday night’s roundtable discussion of dance criticism at Barnard titled “Team Dance: The Dance Critics of the New York Time.” Mason Amelotte shares his thoughts below.

I entered the unfamiliar Julius S. Held auditorium approximately thirty minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the discussion (a critic of critics is always early), and was greeted by at least sixty panel-goers over the age of 60, not including the three or four other undergrads in attendance with me. I’m still unsure of these undergrads, though. I often found myself pondering the questions, “Are they grandmas?? Or just art students going through a vintage phase??” After the initial confusion of thinking I had accidentally stumbled into an assisted living facility had worn off, I made my way through the geriatric section towards the back of the room where I took my seat.

The panel consisted of Alastair Macaulay, chief dance critic of The New York Times, as well as three freelance dance critics for the newspaper: Gia Kourlas, Brian Seibert, and Siobhan Burke, both an alumnus of and current dance lecturer at Barnard College. Lynn Garafola, who serves as the co-chair of Barnard’s dance department, led the panel. Outside of Barnard, Garafola is a well-known dance critic and historian. The discussion itself lasted a little under 75 minutes and was followed by a brief Q&A session.

The discussion opened with each member of the panel describing their background and how they got into dance criticism as an occupation. With the exception of Macaulay, each critic had grown up practicing some form of dance, from modern style to tap and ballet to Irish step. Macaulay described his obsession with “letter writing” as a child, an obsession that led him to write about dance for fashion/gossip magazines before eventually being introduced to Mary Clarke, then editor of Dancing Times.

Read about the New York Times’ unusual stylistic rules after the jump!



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img April 01, 201511:16 amimg 2 Comments

Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs

Yesterday, Internal Editor and scientific savant Britt Fossum headed to Hamilton to listen to Columbia’s resident boss Jeffrey Sachs talk ethics and universities.

Yesterday evening was the first talk in a new series hosted by the Masters Program in Bioethics at Columbia titled “What is a Moral University in the 21st Century?” The speaker was none other than Jeffrey Sachs: economist, professor, and opponent of the university-as-business model that is all too prevalent. According to him, moral discourse is just not as normal as it should be. Many problems brought up during the daily functioning of Columbia should be regarded as moral issues as well as economic or social issues: fossil fuel divestment, sexual misconduct, plagiarism and academic property rights, admissions, and issues of free speech.

Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia and was an economics professor at Harvard and so focused his argument on moral issues in these two fields—the need for fossil fuel divestment and the legitimacy of professors taking on private consulting jobs with Wall Street. He spoke against the dominant position of the day which he defines as a libertarian one with the University governed only by the board of trustees and state and market law. Morality needs to be pushed past this “web of contractual obligations.”

There are four types of moral problem facing a modern university according to Sachs: those of daily life and interpersonal relationships, of academic research, how teachers should impart moral knowledge to students, and the role of the University in a global context. Sachs elaborated further on this last (most complicated) issue by giving examples: this is the realm of morality that should govern Columbia’s decisions on use of the endowment, development in Manhattanville, accepting donations, and allowing outside employers for professors and departments.

Sachs speaks out against the Harvard president and more after the jump!



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img March 25, 201511:05 amimg 0 Comments

he stares into your soul

Professor Tom Kent

Bwog’s Sports Editor and amateur Russian Ross Chapman hit up Professor Thomas Kent’s lecture at the Harriman Institute’s 12th floor offices in the International Affairs Building yesterday morning to hear the reporter and Russian scholar present “Decoding the Soviet Press.” As it turns out, the newspapers and radio of the time were way more that “just propoaganda.”

While some people just stumbled into 1219 IAB for the six trays of free Indian food at lunchtime, the room was pretty packed regardless to listen to the usual round of Monday lectures. Tom Kent is an adjunct professor at the School of Journalism and holds a number of posts with the Associated Press. He showed up today to talk about his specialty in Soviet media, which he credits to his six years as an AP correspondent in Moscow. Professor Kent wanted to debunk the idea that the Soviet press was all propaganda. “Once you get past the turgid writing” of the official sources, he said, there’s a lot to be found that exposes day-to-day and political issues in the Soviet Union.

The structuring of the Soviet press varied as the leaders did. Lenin considered himself a journalist and saw no problem with being simultaneously in charge of the government and the media. He said that the Soviet press “is a collective organizer of the country,” as it all espoused certain thoughts and worked towards certain goals. Contrarily, he referred to western media as “the depot of ideas,” a useless warehouse where ideas were stashed without purpose.  In this era, the press was, as Kent called it, “a guardian and cheerleader” for the ideals of the country. But once Stalin took over, everything became stricter. There was a mood of fear among editors, and one piece that could be construed as anti-Soviet could have untold consequences. This continued until Khrushchev took over and “the Thaw” began in 1956, but returned with Brezhnev in 1964. This was a “stolid, gray period” for the Soviet media, where it felt like everything was “just getting by.”

Now, the media largely served two purposes. It informed and propagandized the public while also serving as a means of intraparty communication. A popular means of propaganda was presenting failure as something good. Professor Kent used the example of “Fish Day,” a new once-a-week plan from leading Soviet doctors to feed everyone fish for medical benefits. Of course, the real reason was that the country was having well-documented meat shortages. The newspapers also pulled quotes from even the smallest tabloids in foreign countries to create whatever international appearance they wanted, such as unity in support of Brezhnev. Actual problems would be relegated to the back pages, but Kent didn’t think everything that deserves the front page in America would fit in the USSR. A plane crash, for instance, “in Soviet proportions,” is nothing compared to the still recent losses of war, and most people in the country didn’t always want to hear about crises. Of course we’ll see some media practice as confusing or wrong if we view it from 40 years and 5,000 miles away.

“The Truth about Untruth” after the jump



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img March 24, 20153:09 pmimg 1 Comments


thinkin’ about how philosophy and literature will inevitably spar for eternity :/

Tuesday Daily Editor/ultimate renaissance woman Briana Bursten put her incredibly extensive knowledge of philosophy and literature to the test when she attended a lecture entitled “The Ancient Quarrel: Philosophy and Literature” on Monday night. So who cares if she only took one intro philosophy class last semester and now calls herself “Yung Aristotle”? Who cares if she only skimmed read select passages of the Odyssey during her First Year English class? This girl is BACK and ready to share her academic mastery with all of you plebeians Bwog readers. Bow down, bitches. 

Barnard alumna and former Assistant Professor Rebecca Goldstein returned to her alma mater on Monday night to give a lecture detailing the convoluted relationship that philosophy and literature share. As she took the podium in the Diana Oval, Goldstein gave her personal history regarding her academic career at Barnard and her professional evolution from philosopher to novelist. Though the lecture began a bit after its set start time at 7pm, it became clear that this talk would be an excellent addition to the alumni lecture series commemorating Barnard’s 125th anniversary.

But we’re only getting started!



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img March 12, 201511:16 amimg 0 Comments

I sure wouldn't

Would you turn down Ebola advice from a face like this?

While he usually lives by the motto, “ball is life,” Bwog’s Ross Chapman hopped over to a lecture about Ebola and beyond, and reported back. 

A group of experts, mostly Columbians, gathered in the Satow Room yesterday to hold a panel on the ethical responsibilities and questions that arise when responding to a crisis. Using Ebola as a case study, the doctors and policymakers discussed the perceived incompatibilities between capitalism and the public health agenda, autonomy and the greater good, and science and politics. The panel was headed by Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute, and included Jeff Schlegelmilch, a managing director at the same Center; Arturo Brito, a deputy commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Health; and Robert Klitzman, a director of several ethics programs at Columbia.

While it was arranged as a panel, it felt more like each speaker delivered their own ideas for twenty minutes, with a little interaction saved for the very end. Irwin Redlener spoke first with the aid of a few Powerpoint slides. He posed a lot of questions without many answers. Are there crisis situations where we can call for reduced standards of care? Where should we allocate our scarce resources? And who prioritizes certain lives over others? Redlener focused more on these issues, which other speakers would address further. He believes that disaster is inevitable, and so prevention cannot be used as a complete replacement to response. He ended his speech by noting that “no decision is a decision” in a crisis. Decisions imply thought beforehand, and it’s impossible to do that in a crisis unless there was adequate planning in years prior.

Nex, Robert Klitzman put out the idea that disasters are often unanticipated consequences of technological advancement. Epidemic diseases spread the way they do today because of our complex transportation infrastructure, for example. He then moved on to talk about the politics of fear. At what point do we quarantine people, and how necessary is it, really? He remarked that fear makes governors press for medical response to something like Ebola “for the public health,” but that same reasoning can’t make some states mandate vaccines for children. Part of this fear is media coverage, which, when it comes to disease crises, often mongers fear for domestic but not international causes. Most interestingly, he called for a better social scientific approach to disease response. Anthropological studies are necessary to know how people will react to treatment. Cultural barriers can make people think that pills will give them disease, and lingual issues can make populations believe that experimental, 30% effectiveness treatments is a cure-all. This is all to say, there’s more to epidemics than just the disease itself.

More speeches and discussion after the jump



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img February 27, 20154:03 pmimg 0 Comments

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine, a poet and professor at Pomona College, was one of the speakers at Tuesday’s presentation

Whether it’s attending drunken FroSci lectures or showing up to Tunisian talks, Bwog loves to learn in the classroom and beyond. We sent Poetry Professional Briana Bursten to check out Justice Poetry: Readings and Discussion with Claudia Rankine, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Messiah. Read about her evening of learning and listening below!

A genuine feeling of reverence was evident as individuals from various ages and backgrounds crowded the Schapiro Center’s Davis Auditorium this past Tuesday for Justice Poetry: Readings and Discussion with Claudia Rankine, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Messiah. The evening of sharing and dialogue began with opening remarks from Barnard Associate English Professor Monica Miller. Miller explained that each poet would read pieces that thematically center on issues of justice, and that readings were encouraged to be broken up by anecdotes and explanations by the poets themselves.

The first poet was Claudia Rankine, a graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Columbia and a current English professor at Pomona College. Rankine is the author of multiple collections of poetry, and she spoke with sincerity as she read three pieces from her latest book, entitled Citizen. Rankine’s attention towards racial issues and current injustices was particularly evident through her anecdotes, which were inserted between her readings. One of my favorite stories that Rankine shared had to do with a discussion that she had with one of her friends during a walk through their California neighborhood. Rankine spoke of a time when she asked this friend when she has “felt the most white.” Her friend told her of experiences on the East Coast when taking public transportation and how every time she boarded a subway or a train, there would almost always be a black man with an empty seat next to him. Rankine explained that her friend would always “feel the most white” when she consciously made the choice to take this seat. This anecdote was followed by the Rankine’s final reading of the night— an incredibly powerful poem about the symbolism of this “empty seat.” Rankine remained seated on stage while the two other poets shared their work.

Dawn Lundy Martin and Messiah Ramkissoon after the jump!



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img February 25, 20152:01 pmimg 0 Comments

President Bollinger looking down upon baldness

President Bollinger looking down upon baldness

Yesterday morning, Mehdi Jomaa, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Tunisia, gave a lecture through the World Leaders Forum event series. We sent Maghreb maniac Mason Amelotte to Low Rotunda to report on the lecture.

The morning began the same way most World Leaders Forum events do: with overbearing security guards scattered throughout Low Library and a coat check that assured I felt like a child for not wearing my finest Emenegildo Zegna suit. After taking my rightful seat in the very last row, however, my deflated feelings were relieved as the woman who checked me in at the entrance kindly asked me to “move forward a row because there were too many chairs.” (Why am I even forced to register for these things then?)

At precisely 11:00AM, President Bollinger came out alongside Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Tunisia, His Excellency Mehdi Jomaa, followed by both of their wives and a delegation of Tunisian officials. PrezBo described how it was his honor to be introducing Former Prime Minister Jomaa as a speaker in the World Leaders Forum event series before going on to give a brief account of Tunisia’s history over the course of the past four years. With all that said, President Bollinger opened the stage to His Excellency Mehdi Jomaa, who would speak on “Leading Tunisia’s Democracy Start-up.”

The Former Prime Minister was greeted with a round of applause, to which he responded by first wishing the audience a good morning. He boasted the fact that this was his fourth interaction with Columbia, though he simultaneously exuded a sense of humility as he described how lucky he was to be speaking here. He explained to the audience how during his lecture, he hoped to answer the questions “What makes Tunisia’s newly formed democracy difficult?” and “What impact will Tunisia have on its surrounding region in the future?”

Tell me more about Tunisia!



img February 17, 20151:25 pmimg 0 Comments

Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen

Last night, the LGBT+ Journalists of Columbia hosted a talk and Q&A session with the King of Bravo, Andy Cohen, in the Journalism Lecture Hall. We sent Bravo Stan Courtney Couillard to check out the event and see what Andy had to say.

I don’t know how any true Real Housewife franchise fan could have missed seeing Andy Cohen speak at Columbia last night. While I mostly gawk at him through my tv while watching episodes of Watch What Happens Live on my DVR, I would never pass up an opportunity to watch the man that makes the magic that is Bravo happen on a daily basis. Some may know him as the Executive Producer of the Real Housewife franchise; others may better recall when he was pushed by Teresa Giudice in her shining television moment. Regardless, Cohen has become a household name in regards to pop culture and reality television with his work on the Bravo network.

Students (and outsiders) packed the lecture hall to get a chance to feel like they were actually in the Bravo Clubhouse. A student introduced Cohen as the crowd clapped for his accomplishments and one person squealed over the mentioning of Kim Richards. Cohen began the lecture reminding us why we watch his show religiously: he makes conversation easy and he’s quick to entertain.

He began his quick talk about his rise to broadcast fame by confessing he was “very hungover” from attending the SNL after party the night before. After apologizing in advance, Cohen began to recall his ascent in the journalism world. Cohen explained how he has been in the business for 25 years, and he made his start working with CBS NY after graduating from Boston University. He confessed how he always wanted to pursue broadcast even though a superior at CBS broke to him he was cross eyed. Cohen would go on to spend ten years with the network before moving on to ultimately run production for Bravo.

Find out more about Andy Cohen next.



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img February 10, 20153:58 pmimg 0 Comments

Yes, yes it does

Does this look like the face of a man who wrote “Cannibal Man?”

In an addition to the series that shows that Bwog is intellectual and likes to learn outside of the classroom, we dispatched Sports Editor Ross Chapman to write about his experience sitting in on a lecture entitled “Eloy De La Iglesia and Emerging Gay Identities During the Spanish Transition.” Read about Eloy De La Iglesia and the lecturer, Dr. Alberto Mira, below. 

In a quiet Milbank Hall last night, a few dozen students, teachers, and miscellaneous queer theory aficionados gathered to listen to Doctor Alberto Mira’s quest to “throw new light on an under-appreciated filmmaker.” After a quick introduction from the head of the Spanish language program, Dr. Mira (a professor at Oxford Brookes University) got right to discussing the straightforwardly named lecture topic, “Eloy De La Iglesia and Emerging Gay Identities During the Spanish Transition.”

Eloy de la Iglesia isn’t very well known in America, or many other places in the world. However, according to Dr. Mira, he was “probably the most popular filmmaker” in Spain in the late 70s and early 80s. He was just as synonymous with shocking film as he was with radical portrayals of social issues. His biggest hit in America might be the 1973 cult classic, “Cannibal Man,” but his films about juvenile delinquency and the emerging Spanish queer identity hold more public worth in Spain. On the question of whether or not he was a “good filmmaker,” Mira said that he had points of view and ideas, and was able to communicate them through the medium. He was “inelegant but interesting,” a style that unfortunately didn’t do him much help with art critics.

The period in question, the “Spanish Transition,” refers to the switch from dictatorship to democracy in the nation. The changing politics coincided with a serious relaxation of censorship and a major upswing in the public presence of marginalized identities. The political side of it officially began with the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, the beginning of the Spanish Transition for gay identity politics has murkier origins. Many place it in 1973, when articles and magazines on homosexuality entered circulation, but the movement was small and easy to ignore until the late 70s. Gay politicians began to get involved with Spain’s left wing, and a lot of the rhetoric of the time was very close to modern queer theory. De la Iglesia went to meetings and engaged with gay politics, which prompted him to discuss the realities of the gay community in his films.

But what were those realities?



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img February 03, 20157:05 pmimg 5 Comments

Tariq Thachil

Tariq Thachil

Yesterday, Tariq Thachil lead a lecture in Knox Hall called “Elite Parties, Poor Voters: How Social Services Win Votes in India.” We sent Bwogger Ari Malik to check out what Thachil had to say and report on the night’s lecture. 

I entered the room covered in mahogany furniture. At least I thought it was mahogany – it smelt rich and academic. At the front was Tariq Thachil, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale, and he was surrounded by old distinguished professors. I felt as if I had made it in the academic world – all I needed was my monocle and fountain pens.

Once everyone had settled down, Professor Thachil began his presentation about the ways in which political parties in India appeal to the public. The fundamental crux of the issue was how to balance pleasing the poor demographic, appeasing the rich and attracting ideologues. It was all very House of Cards.

After disproving the idea of social engineering – the placing of lower caste individuals in positions of power to appeal to a wider demographic – Thachil began to prove why the “service strategy” provides the best solution for political parties to garner votes. A “service strategy” involves providing communities with benefits, like basic medicines and books, in order to generate popular support for one’s party.

He indicated that providing services to individuals could directly influence them to voting for your party due to the “tangible benefits” that comes along with the strategy. Citing the state of Chhattisgarh, Thachil proved that while the quality of the service was irrelevant (basic medical care was more than sufficient), the very notion of aiding the public drastically improved the popularity of the party.

Having suggested that it creates a “social network” of binding relationships, the service strategy was the most productive way to garner votes in India. This once again proves that very rarely does politics depend on who you are as a human being, or what you stand for, but what you do for me.

Tariq Thachil via Yale’s PoliSci website



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img January 31, 20157:04 pmimg 2 Comments

Elle me dit, "Danse!"

Elle me dit, “Danse!”

French fanatic and fastidious Bwogger Rachel Deal brings coverage of French hip hop, with an emphasis on both hips and hopping.

Last Thursday evening, The Maison Française hosted a talk about French Moves, a book by Felicia McCarren on urban dance practices of minorities in France. The speakers were McCarren herself, who is a French professor at Tulane University, Barbara Browning of The Tisch School, and Columbia’s Madeleine Dobie.

Although the lecture was entitled “The Cultural Politics of French Hip Hop,” the speakers made it clear at the beginning that “le hip-hop” refers almost exclusively to dance—not music (which was a little disappointing, because French music is pretty cool).

After an introduction by Dobie, McCarren gave a slideshow presentation on dance and identity politics in France. She discussed how in the United States we focus on individuality, but the French focus more on universalism and joining together. Because of this, visibility of minorities and their experiences is a difficult topic to discuss. She later clarified her idea of identity politics, saying that in talking about hip hop in France, she prefers to use the term “identity poetics.” Because the roots of hip hop are in the United States, she said, French hip hop is a citation—while hip hop in the United States often functions to empower, hip hop in France tries to not just say something, but to say something different—to articulate difference.

She showed different images and clips of dancers using their art to tell their stories. One dancer in particular named Yiphun Chiam told the story of her family’s experience during the Cambodian Genocide and as immigrants in France. She showed another clip, too, of a dance group named Paname (slang for Paris and its suburbs) dancing hip hop to old French music.

The presentation ended with questions from the other panelists, Browning and Dobie, and from the audience. One topic they covered was the recent terrorist attack in Paris on the magazine Charlie Hebdo. The panelists discussed how dance could “play a part in the response,” and McCarren also expressed her discomfort in how the French media tried to portray one of the attackers as representative of “hip hop aesthetic” by broadcasting a video of him rapping. They wrapped up the talk by discussing the power of dance—how it responds to current events but can also offer new ways of thinking—and McCarren expressed her belief that minority politics in France will continue to develop.

Pourquoi tu gâches ta vie? via Shutterstock



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img December 10, 20146:02 pmimg 5 Comments

"I remember when I first visited Mercury..."

“I remember when I first visited Mercury…”

Bwog likes to inform our readers of every event around campus, from social justice jamborees to science seminars. We sent our own little Martian Mason Amelotte to space Low Library on Tuesday to learn more about Mercury.

Why do we explore our solar system? It’s a question people don’t often think about. Most would say we explore our solar system to learn more about the planets, comets, and stars around us. However, Sean C. Solomon, director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia, believes otherwise. He believes we explore our solar system to learn more about Earth itself.

On Tuesday night, Solomon gave a university lecture in Low Library titled “Why We Explore the Solar System: The MESSENGER Mission to Mercury.” Solomon is director of the largest research division within the Earth Institute at Columbia, and he is also principal investigator of NASA’s Messenger mission to Mercury, the “most comprehensive investigation yet of the planet closest to the sun.” Solomon is a 2014 recipient of the National Medal of Science, and even has an asteroid named after him, Asteroid 25137 Seansolomon, which is currently in orbit around the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

University President Lee C. Bollinger opened the presentation by giving praise to the University Lecture as a forum that reflects “the ideals of…the university.” Prezbo went on to commend the work of the faculty at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He mentioned that the purpose of the MESSENGER mission was to provide him with “a quick and easy way to escape the students administration,” before handing the microphone off to John H. Coatsworth, University Provost. Coatsworth introduced the audience to Sean C. Solomon, the keynote speaker, by listing off Solomon’s many degrees and accomplishments. One endeavor that stood out was Solomon’s role as principal investigator of the MESSENGER project, which puts him in charge of “all aspects of the mission…from financing to executing.” Coatsworth then welcomed Solomon to the stage.

Click here to learn some neat space facts



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img November 23, 201411:46 amimg 23 Comments

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

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