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Blair: Hardly Hazing

(11/07/12 4:00am)

Anyone who attended the Homecoming bonfire this year will know that the College, in accordance with what is apparently an annual theme, has increased its efforts to tame and domesticate the event. The distance between the bystanders and the runners was much larger than in previous years and was enforced at intervals by water barriers. Safety and Security officers were much more vigilant about preserving the boundary between runners and bystanders one friend informed me that the group he was with was threatened with arrest if they jumped into the circle and ran with the freshmen. I know of at least one person who was chided at length by a College official for shouting negative comments. He was told, "We're trying to make this a more positive event."


Blair: Hardly Hazing

(11/07/12 4:00am)

Anyone who attended the Homecoming bonfire this year will know that the College, in accordance with what is apparently an annual theme, has increased its efforts to tame and domesticate the event. The distance between the bystanders and the runners was much larger than in previous years and was enforced at intervals by water barriers. Safety and Security officers were much more vigilant about preserving the boundary between runners and bystanders one friend informed me that the group he was with was threatened with arrest if they jumped into the circle and ran with the freshmen. I know of at least one person who was chided at length by a College official for shouting negative comments. He was told, "We're trying to make this a more positive event."


Blair: Contemptuous Commencement

(05/23/12 2:00am)

In 18 days, I will be graduating with the Class of 2012. I have many wishes for my last days here. There are many things I have always wanted to do, but I have somehow never found the time for them. One of my greatest hopes, however, relates to the speech I will hear on the day of Commencement. There is one message I would very much like to hear from the speaker. I want her to tell me, and my whole class, that we kind of suck.


Blair: Modern Malaise

(05/09/12 2:00am)

On the whole, if we know what a person thinks about any one given political issue, we can usually guess where he or she stands on most other issues. The range of possible political positions in our culture is, by itself, already narrow. But this range is narrowed even further by the fact that only certain contingent combinations of these positions seem to be culturally permissible. Thus, we meet very few pro-life socialists in America both because there are very few socialists in America, period, and because the socialists that do exist are very unlikely to be pro-life.


Blair: Unproductive Accusations

(04/23/12 2:00am)

Last Friday, Andrea Jaresova published a column criticizing Vita Clamantis' "Cemetery of the Innocents" display ("Unproductive Discourse," April 20). Jaresova's piece is a masterwork of misunderstanding, willful ignorance and fallacious reasoning. But it's worth addressing because parts of it do capture the general campus feeling about Vita's flag display. Although I am a member of Vita and helped with the planning and execution of this event, this column expresses only my own opinion.


Blair: Precarious Principles

(04/11/12 2:00am)

Like probably most of Dartmouth, I saw "The Hunger Games" (2012) when it came out in theaters a few weeks ago. It was pretty good, but it did unsettle me in several ways. Most disturbing was the shocking juxtaposition of the high level of technological sophistication and material prosperity in the capital with the horrifying spectacle of the Hunger Games. These games, for those living under a cultural rock, involve teenagers fighting to the death for the amusement of the residents of the country's capital.



Blair: Homeward Bound

(03/07/12 4:00am)

The rags-to-riches story holds a central place in American culture. Such stories are often dominated by the following archetype: Poor parents or grandparents scrap together a living, trying to hold everything together just enough for their children or grandchildren to get a shot at a "better life" a college degree and a materially prosperous, comfortably bourgeois existence. Of course, we must admire and revere the hard work and sacrifices our parents and grandparents made to give many of us the chance to attend an elite college like Dartmouth. But nothing comes without tradeoffs in this world, and it is worth asking whether the dominant American model of social mobility is a good one or, at least, a good one for everyone.


Blair: Give Me Liberty

(02/21/12 4:00am)

This past June, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed one of the harshest immigration laws in the country, making it illegal to transport or "harbor" illegal immigrants. Because the language in the provisions is so vague, religious institutions across the spectrum in Alabama Methodist, Episcopalian and Catholic fear that many of the charitable and religious services they provide to immigrants will be considered crimes under the new law.



Blair: Marriage Without Meaning

(01/20/12 4:00am)

There's a popular antipathy in the air right now toward social conservatism, among both Republicans and Democrats. The idea seems to be that, in a time of desperate fiscal problems, concentration on social issues is at best a distraction and at worst a kind of irresponsible negligence. The conservative writer Mark Steyn, for example, recently mocked the fixation of certain Republican presidential candidates on social issues in a time of ballooning debt. The latest example of this perspective in the Dartmouth community is Adam Mehring's recent column arguing against the attempt by the New Hampshire legislature to repeal same-sex marriage ("Repeal Without Reason" Jan. 17).



Blair: Home Economics

(10/24/11 2:00am)

Don Casler's article on the Occupy Wall Street movement ("Pointless Protests," Oct. 19) makes the following curious case: The protestors are right about Wall Street greed and its culpability in our present economic crisis, and they are right that serious governmental reforms of our economy are needed, but really, they should just stay quiet about it.


Blair: Lest the Old

(10/21/11 2:00am)

One of the central facts of being a senior at Dartmouth is that your four years have taught you to take incredibly bizarre Dartmouth phenomena as normal. This has been demonstrated in two principal ways to me over the last year. Firstly, I no longer see anything outlandish whatsoever about people walking around with neon green hair or with spangled pink tights.


Blair: Contemporary Confusion

(10/06/11 2:00am)

In Britain this August, 1,200 people were arrested in connection with the violence, burning and looting that characterized the worst British civil unrest in a generation. Many thousands took part in the theft and rioting that ravaged London and three other major cities. The damage amounted to hundreds of millions of pounds, at least. There seems to be no clear reason or explanation for these riots they were purely destructive.



Blair: The Personal is Political

(07/29/11 2:00am)

The second major congressional sex scandal of the summer broke this Tuesday, when Rep. David Wu, D-Or., joined Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., in the ever-growing number of national political figures whose sexual dalliances have forced them to resign their positions. In the past few years we have also seen, among others, Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, John Ensign, and John Edwards fall prey to their libidos.



Blair: "Glee"-ful Naturalism

(05/19/11 2:00am)

Like most people of my generation, I have not managed to escape Fox's popular TV show, "Glee." Despite myself, I continue to watch it, mostly because of the music and Sue Slyvester's wicked humor. Though I usually find the show's plot and attempts at social criticism to be predictable and insipid, I actually found last month's episode "Born This Way" both interesting and thought-provoking, largely because it highlighted the tension between acceptance of oneself and self-improvement.


Blair: Austen's Power

(04/19/11 2:00am)

One of the things I find most perennially curious is our generation's fascination with Jane Austen movies and the novels on which they are based. It seems like nearly every time I gain a new Facebook friend I notice that one of our mutual interests is something related to Jane Austen, usually "Pride and Prejudice" or its movie rendition. Austen seems to always come up in any conversation I have with people about their favorite writers. Given the relational context we find ourselves in one in which hookups are common and long-term, exclusive relationships are rare the ubiquity of Jane Austen is an extremely bizarre phenomenon. Our obsession with Austen and her work reveals, in part, our distaste for certain characteristics of our own culture.