“Last one, best one.”
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“Last one, best one.”
My intent was to write an article about U.S. tax reform — that’s why I went to Dirt Cowboy Café, my writing spot. I came in late in the afternoon, around closing time. It was quiet. I ordered my usual coffee, paid, found a table and realized I forgot to ask for a glass of water. A young barista whom I recognized but whose name I did not know brought me my coffee. I thanked her. Before I could ask for a glass of water, she said:
With the United States’ midterm elections looming, the push to “get out the vote” is in full-swing. As it should be — only 61 percent of registered voters went to the polls in 2016. Perhaps even more surprising is that 2016 set the record for voter turnout in a presidential election. If we take a closer look at the 137.5 million voters who actually, well, voted, we see something else surprising: close to 90 percent of people reported they would vote along party lines. This tribalistic divide in the American civic body mirrors the partisan divide in Congress, where party unity voting has increased from sixty percent in the early 1970s to 90 percent in 2017.
A friend, a relative, an Olympian and an old teammate: Four people who, though they did not do so knowingly, contributed in one way, shape or form over the past week to challenge my view of the world. It may sound hyperbolic, or tinged with shades of a philosophical game of Clue, so let’s start somewhere light: Green Key.
7:54 p.m.: My race would start at eight. It was time to take off my bulky Garmin GPS watch, which I wear everywhere: it tracks the distance and pace of my runs, the number of steps I take each day, how restful my never-quite-eight-hours-of-sleep are. The model I had before this one even tracked my heart rate continuously through an optical sensor beneath the watch face. The model I have now ditched the optical sensor for a goofy Tron-esque chest strap that is not only more accurate in terms of heart rate, but also measures “cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time.” You know, all those things nobody really needs but that Garmin added to make this model seem better than the last.
This column was featured in the 2018 Winter Carnival Issue.
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 need to work with my group.”
After racial slurs were found written outside of the dorm rooms of five black cadet candidates at the United States Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the head of the preparatory institution, addressed a crowd of cadets on Sept. 28. In a roughly five-minute lecture that neither minced words nor beat around the bush, Silveria said that “small thinking and horrible ideas” had no place at the school. Those who could not treat their fellow cadet candidates with dignity and respect had to “get out.” When addressing the crowd as a whole, Silveria said: “If you’re outraged by those words then you’re in the right place ... You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.”
After seeing “Antigone in Ferguson” on Friday night, I did not leave necessarily with mixed emotions but rather with numerous discrete, difficult-to-handle thoughts, ideas and feelings. The show itself — a modern reading of the eons-old Greek tragedy “Antigone,” interspersed and complemented by song — was spectacular, raw, powerful, vulnerable, thought-provoking, discomforting and (by design) cathartic. The parallels between “Antigone,” which tells the story of the young title character and her quest to bury her dead brother Polyneices after he is deemed an enemy of the State and left to rot in the streets; and the story of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and whose body was left uncovered in the streets for four hours, were clear. Even so, the cast of “Antigone in Ferguson,” which included established actors Tracie Thoms and Zach Grenier, as well as equally talented performers who were closer to the tragedy in Ferguson — two of Michael Brown’s teachers and multiple members of the Ferguson police force — did not explicitly equate Michael Brown with Polyneices. Rather, it seemed the intent was, as Bryan Doerries, the artistic director of the production, put it in an interview with The Dartmouth, “to set up the conditions for a conversation in which people will interrogate what the word ‘Ferguson’ means to them.”
At this point in the year — between post-midterms fatigue and pre-finals stress — it isn’t uncommon to become disenchanted with the notions of hard work and success so often emphasized at Dartmouth. With an administration in turmoil, a monopolistic dining system, a flawed housing system and an undeniable pattern of elitism and racial discrimination in faculty hiring and retention, it can be incredibly easy to focus on Dartmouth’s problems.
With the introduction of flat-screen TVs, the option to “text Foco” and musical accompaniments at mealtime — to name a few of the changes Dartmouth Dining Services has implemented in the past few months — it seems like DDS is doing everything it can to increase student satisfaction. The sad truth, however, is that DDS can dress up overpriced food and basic service with all the bells and whistles it wants, but none of those Band-Aid fixes address the real problem: DDS has a virtual monopoly over student dining choices.
Nothing is more in vogue than claiming that America is getting a “bad deal” because of free trade and all of the nasty pitfalls of globalization — namely, that ugly beast “outsourcing.” The truth is that 88 percent of American manufacturing jobs are lost to automation, not to foreigners or illegal immigrants.
President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget slashes the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by almost one-third. With the signing of his recent executive order, he has taken the first step in repealing former President Barack Obama’s climate policies, such as the Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce emissions of U.S. power plants by 32 percent by 2030. None of Trump’s anti-environment pro-big-business policies should come as a surprise: this is a man who, on the campaign trail, expressed time and again his desire to rebuild America’s fossil fuel industry. Doing so — resurrecting this once-stalwart center of our nation — is passed off by many politicians as a patriotic act and therefore a worthy goal. Surely there is nothing more American, more laudable, then re-opening the coal mines! Yet, once patriotic sentimentality is stripped away, the problem becomes clear: regardless of whether you believe in climate change, repealing policies designed to protect our environment and giving the coal industry one last hurrah before alternative energy sources become more accessible to all is not just short-sighted; it is economically harmful for America’s future.
While it is difficult to gauge accurately the size of inauguration crowds — the National Park Service has not conducted a formal head count of crowds gathered at the National Mall since 1995 — the aerial photos published by National Public Radio show a startling difference between the turnout for former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration and President Donald Trump’s inauguration last Friday. For a man who prides himself on drawing large crowds, this comparison probably did not sit well with Trump. In fact, the NPS was ordered by the White House to stop tweeting on Friday after sharing the photos comparing the crowd at Obama’s 2009 inauguration with the obviously smaller one at Trump’s.
We have a tendency, in a world saturated by media, to be drawn to that which feels familiar. That is why, to cite anecdotal evidence, we might be more inclined to watch a reboot of a movie franchise that supposedly ended 10, 20, 30 years ago than to choose a new and unknown movie from the thousands of internet options. Familiarity is comforting. It is safe. What’s so bad about that? Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with sticking to what you know. It is when the familiarity, safety and goodness that accompanies a recollection of the past prevents us from discerning the flaws of the past that we become entrapped in nostalgia.
I published an article entitled “In Defense of Fraternities” which received a fair amount of criticism. My argument was three-fold: that fraternities offer benefits for members, that they are not as limiting as stereotypes may suggest and that during my first term in a fraternity, I had a positive, enjoyable experience.
I’m writing this article on Wednesday, Nov. 9, and let me just say that I don’t want to write it. I’m tired, bitter. Part of me is deeply saddened that I must pen these words. Another part of me is stunned. Another part frightened. Another numb. But this isn’t about me — this is about an election result that would have been the punch line of a joke just six months ago. This is about coping with a result that is at best surprising and at worst terrifying, depending on who you ask. This is about President-elect Donald Trump, and how we should respond.
A friend of mine recently argued that you cannot be both a brother in a fraternity and a good runner. While I’m not here to dissect the scrupulous grind of long-distance running or the singular focus it requires, I raise the topic for a point: There is a particular lifestyle associated with being in a fraternity, and that lifestyle, at least to my friend, is counterproductive to athletic achievement, at least with regards to running. I disagree.