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AltSpec: Rebranded Edition

In which Bwog tides you over until Monday’s QuickSpec by bringing you Columbia-related happenings from the real world.  Some connections to our lady Alma Mater are dubious and/or doubtful.


Nudist/Columbia Grad Donates Playing Card Collection

Dali expert and nude hiker Albert Field‘s collection of 6,536 decks of cards have been archived and restored in Columbia’s library, according to the AP (via Newsday).

Valued at more than $1 million, the collection contains cards from as early as 1550, ranging from German propaganda (“Zeppelin Uber England”!) to Kennedy family portraits.  Field started collecting the cards on his trip to post-WWII Europe, where the cards were the only “souvenirs” he could find.

Columbia librarians, usually found explaining how to work the CUL search engines instead of being actual resources, are thrilled.  They even used such racy terms as “wacky” and “fantastic” to describe the fortune of having multiple centuries’ worth of Go Fish paraphernalia.  They plan to visit classes to teach students the ancient game, but will likely find that students have moved on to new-fangled games like Hearts and 52-Pickup.

Professor Approves Security Blankets as Midterm Antidote

Hawkmedinejad could’ve told them that: EurekAlert reports that researchers in the lab of neuroscientist/Columbia professor Eric Kandel found that mice can be conditioned to react fearfully to a target signal.

The group studied how mice reacted to this “learned fear” in the long term.  Learned fear can lead to anxiety and depression: generally, scarily-named “psychopathologies.”  However, the mice learn to use their environment to provide security.  For example, mice hide in holes in the lawn when Facilities mows them every third hour.  When a hawk approaches, mice run like hell.

This behavior can be extended to humans.  Kandel elucidates, “This form of learning is not always appropriate.”  At last, we have a solid argument against midterms- they cause PTSD.  Take that, Intro to Quantum Mechanics.

Brinkley Ambivalent About Second Debate

Historian extraordinaire and (soon-to-be Ex-)provost Alan Brinkley has officially shrugged in response to the second presidential debate in The New Republic.  Calling town hall-style debates “populist gimmicks,” Brinkley agreed that the second debate was, well, pretty boring.

McCain was “awkward and inarticulate” whereas Obama was “charming.”  No one said anything interesting, nobody won.  The real breakthrough was Tom Brokaw’s attempt at a joke.

Brinkley ended with, “I saw nothing tonight that seems likely to change the current trajectory of the campaign.”  Knowing this to be an unacceptable conclusion in a history major’s world, he added, “And that, of course, is good news for Obama.”

CU Nobel Winner Slept Through Phonecall

Turns out that it’s not just English majors who sleep through everything.  Nobel Prize-winner Martin Chalfie, of Columbia, slept through the notifying phonecall, Newsday reports.  At sixty-one years old, Chalfie found that “the silly ring on the phone” was too quiet.  He found out about his win Gen Y-style: stumbling across the information on the Internet, while reading about Stephan’s latest hijinks.

According to the HeraldSun, Chalfie said he logged on the Nobel website and, simply put, “found out I was the schmuck.”

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  • Alum says:

    @Alum Most news stories quote Chalfie as using the word “schnook”, not “schmuck”. There’s a difference.

  • aha says:

    @aha Intro to Quantum Mechanics? Methinks this was not written by a Humanities major.

    As for the PhoneCall, the Nobel Office has some nerve calling at 3am as they usually do. Some cultural sensitivity please?

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