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The ninth issue of the ninth volume of “InfoWorld: The PC News Weekly” from 1987 was filled with what one would expect for a magazine targeted at IT professionals and computer geeks. The front page advertised the new Macintosh II, replete with one megabyte of memory sold for $3,899 for one floppy drive and no display (nearly $8,500 in 2018 dollars). One page featured a story labeled “Presentation Package Lets Users Control Look” by Scott Mace. Mace writes that “Forethough Inc. last week introduced PowerPoint, a Macintosh program that lets users create and manage business presentations “using overhead transparencies, flip charts, speaker’s notes and handouts” and concludes that PowerPoint will be a catalyst in the new computerized business market. What Mace failed to prophesize is that PowerPoint would become the bane of the civilized world.
Dartmouth is unique in that it has an unusually long winter break (appropriately called “winterim”), and I’m certainly not complaining. This chunk of time allows for productive activities such as a cappella tours, service projects abroad and training trips for athletic teams. It also allows for down time to unwind from the fall term. These activities are primarily student-directed, and the College remains relatively inactive during this six-week period.
Reflecting on New Years' resolutions.
If Richard Pryor was the godfather of comedy and Bernie Mac its uncle, then Dave Chappelle is comedy’s first cousin. He was cool when audiences first saw him back in the 1990s, as a 20-something cracking jokes on “Def Comedy Jam.” And as we got older, Chappelle got better. Slapstick humor meshed with racial and social commentary, setting the foundation for the highly successful but short-lived “Chappelle’s Show.” And we liked him. America’s older first cousin matured. Now in his 30s, he taught us more grown-up lessons in his sketches about George W. Bush-era geopolitics with “Black Bush,” and the nuances of America’s racial imaginary in “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.” Yet he retained the familiarity that made us love him in the first place, with some sketches whose chief aim was goofiness, like “A Moment in the Life of Lil Jon” and various sketches that followed the misadventures of crackhead Tyrone Biggums.
What, in your estimation, is the most widely-shared quote attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday each January? Is it “I have a dream”? “Hate cannot drive out hate”? An excerpt about content of character, perhaps? It is certainly not what King wrote in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: That “it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts ... because the quest may precipitate violence.” Your most conservative friend on Facebook will never post that freedom “must be demanded by the oppressed.” King’s declaration that America is the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” will not appear on any banners.
Questions about the effectiveness of the new house communities tend to elicit responses of hearty ambivalence. Students refer to the communities’ irrelevance, their failings and their lack of utility. It seems glaringly apparent that the houses have little to no bearing on students’ lives, that they already exist outside of the zeitgeist. In fact, it often seems that their only relevance is found in the brightly-colored shields emblazoned on merchandise and hung from the ceiling of Foco.
This past December, I spent some time with the Dartmouth Outing Club in Big Bend National Park, out in West Texas along the Mexican border. We hiked through dry washes and over plateaus and camped out along bluffs by the Rio Grande. Driving out on the morning of the last day, I saw the sky flare up red along the horizon, a stark beauty against the desert.
If you’re at all familiar with the niche meme community, you’re probably aware of the “I’m Not Like Other Girls” meme, which satirizes girls who go out of their way to distinguish themselves from traditional notions of femininity. “Starter pack” memes characterize these “unique” women as those who wear checkerboard pants, Kurt Cobain-esque clout goggles and Doc Martens. They identify “Lolita” as their favorite book or movie (a perfect combination of the ironic and subversive) and drink black coffee (black like their soul). Satirizing this behavior is an important critique of internalized sexism. Thus, it is also important to consider that some of the “feminine” characteristics that “I’m Not Like Other Girls” resists are actually worth resisting, and that there should be room for multiple femininities.
When was the last time you sat down with pen and paper and wrote a letter to someone in your own unique and imperfect handwriting? When was the last time you sat down with a cup of coffee and a print newspaper to read about recent events?
In another installment of "Recollections, A Dartmouth Experience," winter sets in...
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This principle is said to govern the machinations of the entire universe. Scientifically or otherwise, it certainly makes sense: All actions have consequences. The United Nations does not seem to have accurately understood the principle in its responses to North Korea. Every North Korean infraction of global policy does not precipitate an equal and opposite response; No, every action gives way to a meager — and nearly always ineffective — set of sanctions.
I’ve struggled throughout college to find an alarm clock that really works for me. Apple’s “chimes” sound is too calming, and “radar” is too harsh. Custom tones have not worked either: I had my alarm set to Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” for a while before I realized that I had the rest of the day to channel my hipster-dom and didn’t want to start that performance so early in the morning.
When most people stumble upon something horrific, their first reaction likely isn’t taking out a camera or recording device — at least this was not the case a mere few years ago. Now, with the advancement of technology and the changing role of social media platforms, such an event would be shared via Snapchat, live-streamed, posted on Facebook or added to Instagram stories. In the case of vlogger Logan Paul, his medium of choice was YouTube.
With record lows in Hanover this week and snow as far south as Florida, it isn’t difficult to imagine that somebody, somewhere, is citing the abnormally frosty weather as evidence to deny climate change. We all know the argument: Snow means Earth isn’t getting warmer; it’s getting colder. Of course, weather is different from climate. The fact that one can easily observe weather, along with all its natural fluctuations, but not climate is one reason among many that explain why it can be so difficult to convince climate change deniers of our planet’s impending environmental decline.
I hope you enjoyed your winter break. Perhaps you traveled somewhere: to another country for a few weeks or another state to visit family and friends. Or maybe you visited a more local attraction, like I did. My family and I endured a two-hour car ride to Joshua Tree National Park, a desert named after the shaggy, Dr. Seuss-esque trees dotting the otherwise barren landscape. At one particular sight, Skull Rock, we clambered up the boulders to join the equally eager throngs of visitors who, like us, hoped for a picture with the rock resembling a human skull. Near me, a middle-aged woman, clutching her phone camera, prepared to take photos of her husband and pre-teen son who were standing a few boulders away. She audaciously hollered across the way at the pair, instructing them to stand up straight, shuffle a bit to the left and smile, alternating between Mandarin and Cantonese. This exercise continued for several more minutes until the woman was satisfied with the photos she had taken.
Weather and climate: they aren't the same.
Money matters, and some college students quickly learn the value of saving it. But money management does not enter mainstream conversations or the classroom nearly as often as it should. Only 17 states require high school students to take a financial literacy course, and that number has remained constant since 2014. As a result, students entering college often lack knowledge of topics such as financial aid and budgeting; this lack of knowledge correlates with lower credit scores and higher debt delinquency. All 50 states should therefore require high school students to learn personal finance skills before they graduate.
In this age of political divisiveness, social unrest and social media prevalence, genuine human interaction is more important than ever, yet unfortunately overlooked and undervalued. Our conversations have become smiles in passing, our smiles in passing have become Facebook reactions and those have faded to the ever prevalent “let’s get a meal sometime!” texts. There is no debating that the way we communicate has changed greatly, and much of that change has marked a transition from valuable conversations conducive to growth and learning to simple transactional relationships and interactions. With 2018 just beginning, this resolution is worth your attention: Build better relationships.
To Dante Alighieri, Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger was counted as one of the three most accursed men to have lived. A member of the conservative republican faction in the Roman Senate, he is best remembered for his assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar, and for that act he is vilified as a traitor, an assassin, a “regicidenik.” But what is so often dismissed as base treachery can also be seen as an honor of the highest level, an anti-authoritarian act that put principle before person and country before self.
In an earlier article, I noted Dartmouth’s relatively limited international reputation. A few weeks later, the admissions office emailed the student body, recruiting students to promote Dartmouth to their local communities during the winter break. The office called this initiative “Take Dartmouth Home.” To me, it sounded perfect.