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Month February 2010

BRIAN R. HACKETT SPEAKS AT CPAC

TCNJ’s own Brian R. Hackett, senior political science major and former College Republicans chairman, addressed the annual CPAC convention in Washington, D.C. on Friday, February 19. Hackett was selected to appear alongside other young conservative activists from around the country. 

MERCER COUNTY SHERIFF KEVIN LARKIN MUST RESIGN

Mercer County Sheriff Kevin Larkin has betrayed the public trust, and must resign from office.

Reports indicate that the sheriff interrupted a political science class at nearby Mercer County Community College when he learned that the professor, Michael Glass, made remarks about him that Larkin claimed were erroneous.

THE GIT ON TUCKER MAX

BY R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM DECEMBER:

After reading excerpts from his website, I can fully understand why there are members of our community who are offended by Tucker Max’s language and attitudes. But whatever my judgment, it would be inappropriate for me, as president, to overturn the decisions of SFB and CUB. It has long been our practice at TCNJ to allow CUB to use its funds, which are generated by student fees, to attract speakers of their choice to campus. My interceding in this decision would be an undermining of the governance system that we prize on this campus, a governance system that values students as real partners in leading the institution. The decision to invite Tucker Max is CUB’s alone and it would not have been censorship had they decided NOT to invite him, but it would be censorship for me to substitute my judgment for theirs and bar him from campus. It is, of course, perfectly acceptable, for those members of the community who are offended by Tucker Max’s attitudes and language to express their feelings, as long as that expression takes a constructive and non-violent form.”

R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN is the president of the College

THE GIT ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

BY R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM DECEMBER:

“I am always supportive of our students’ right and responsibility to express their political opinions, regardless of the issue under discussion or the stance they may take. Specifically, in regard to the “Freedom of religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act” (S1967/A2978), I believe the question to be considered by the legislature is one of equality and civil rights.”

R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN is the president of the College

TCNJ FOR FREE SPEECH: Support, Oppose, or Feel Apathetic Towards Tucker Max

By GLENN EISENBERG

Members of our campus community have been flinging around the terms “freedom of speech” and “censorship” without much thought to what they truly entail—rendering them nothing more than buzzwords and diminishing their actual meaning.

TCNJ ACTIVISM RECAP: FALL ’09

BY GLENN EISENBERG

Last semester was an undeniably exciting one for activists at the College of New Jersey. We organized a panel on healthcare reform, took sixty students to Washington DC for a 200,000 person march for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) equality, hosted discussions on the War in Afghanistan, counter-demonstrated homophobic street preachers, and organized many other events.

However, some activists on campus have begun to feel cast aside by some of their more radical classmates—who have, intentionally or not, belittled the efforts of their peers.

REPORT FROM THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES

BY THOMAS LITTLE, ALTERNATE STUDENT TRUSTEE

Report from the Trustees Disclaimer: The information in this article is subject to change without notice. If you have any questions, please contact the Alternate Student Trustee at little8@tcnj.edu; NOT the Student Government Association.

Development of the Campus Town. Over the past few years the College has been in the process of designing a Campus Town. Now, we can start informing the students about our plans for this project. The goal would be to have a mix of residential and commercial development near the College to give students a reason to stay on campus. That would mean the town would have some student housing, but it would contain stores and other businesses like a Barnes and Noble, or a Gold’s Gym. We hired consultants to do an initial review of Carlton Ave. and Pennington Rd. as potential sites for this Campus Town.

After a preliminary review, we determined the creation of a Campus Town on Carlton Ave. would be difficult due to the wetlands surrounding the area. Carlton Ave. would also be too distant from the College to attract successful business. Therefore we think Pennington Rd. would be a suitable place for a Campus Town. We envisioned a Campus Town near Loser Hall. That’s right, this development would be near the entrance of the College. Another reason for this Campus Town was giving the citizens of Ewing a reason to visit our college whether for shopping or entertainment. We’re still deciding if TCNJ wants to be the primary developer for this project. Thanks to the NJ Stimulus Act that was passed this summer, we could enter into public/private partnerships with private developers so we could attract more established business while still maintaining control over what stores we would accept for the Campus Town. We only have a limited amount of time to take advantage of this, but were still in the process of analyzing our current options.

Alumni Giving Campaign. Despite our high rakings in several publications like Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, we still have a very small endowment for a state college. Aside from a lack of state funding, there’s also the problem of alumni giving. Too many students, both current and the former, do not donate to the College for many reasons. Some alumni had a poor experience during their time here, or in the case of the balls, there’s no mechanism for students to provide feedback on the College’s decision-making process for its activities. Either way the college recognized these problems and the Trustees spent a great deal of time in researching this problem.

In an effort to increase Alumni giving for the College, the Trustees discussed several options for addressing the problem. This will be approached in two ways. For current alumni, they should be awarded for contributing to the college. This could be done in several ways; one of which could be providing a book on those that not only contributed, but also what they donated to instead of putting it all on a web page. Other ideas include inviting alumni to campus, or having them meet current students to get their perspective on the College. For current students, we will be encouraging our class officers (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior class councils) to participate in several activities for fundraising such as going to alumni meetings, or promoting student travel. Of course, we don’t always have the best ideas. If you would like to participate in this endeavor or explain why you may or may not plan to donate to the college contact us at little8@tcnj.edu.

Preparing for a New Governor. One of the big discussions during the retreat was the arrival of a new governor in Chris Christie. The funding of higher education has always been a problem for New Jersey. Tuition for state colleges is the second highest in the nation due to a lack of funding and the state’s failure to pay for mandated costs, especially labor contracts. Support for TCNJ is no different. In 1999, financial support from the state was about 53% of TCNJ’s revenue, but in 2008 state support was about 37%. Obviously, the lack of funding has a trickle down effect on everything we do from providing financial aid to expanding our capacity and resources for students. It shouldn’t be surprising that our state ranks first nationally in loss of college-bound students (close to 30,000 annually), which leads to a loss of about six billion per year in terms of revenue for the state.

What do we expect from our new governor? We don’t expect an increase in funding; in fact, the likely scenario is that we’ll face more cuts in funding. Our goal will be to encourage the state to maintain the current funding instead of cutting it. Where there is common ground is Christie acknowledging the need to fund higher education, and one of his proposals was the reinstatement of the Outstanding Student Recruitment Program (OSRP). Our advocacy isn’t limited to the governor. The legislature will be our main focus because the College is battling an image problem of being a wasteful spender even though we don’t receive that much money from the state. Everyone agreed that we must continue to foster relationships with our lawmakers by inviting them to campus, or having students testify in front of the Budget Committee on behalf of the college. Either way, we are expecting a productive and cordial relationship with our new governor.

Note from Mr. Little: “Want to get involved in our lobbying efforts? Sign up for the New Jersey College Promise Action Network; a database of over 3600 members committed to advocating for New Jersey’s nine state colleges. The website is www.njcollegepromise.com.”

CREATIONISM: THEORY OR MYTHOLOGY?

BY PAUL SOON, TCNJ PROTESTANT BIBLE FELLOWSHIP OUTREACH COORDINATOR

Before the average reader reads the title and brands this article as some fairy tale written by some hick from the woods, please consider the appropriate background. Contrary to popular belief, all Cre­ationists are not logically-impaired, reason-deprived, brainwashed zombies. We’re academics. So before you brand me as someone not familiar with the scientific method or empirical studies, keep in mind that I am actually a biology major. Or if you prefer to preclude Cre­ationism as an antiquated philosophical system, please keep in mind that I am also a philosophy major. The point is not to flaunt creden­tials, but to illustrate the most important point about Creationism or naturalism (the idea that life arose out of only natural causes without divine intervention), that people in both camps are intelligent, ana­lytical, but far too often perilously closed-minded. The most impor­tant thing is to approach both sides with an open-minded, scientific mindset, forsaking the burning urge to label our opponents. I write this piece partially as a student of biology, partially as a student of philosophy, partially as a theologian, but most importantly as a fel­low TCNJ student.

So first of all, as an unashamed Creationist I do not pretend that evolution has no evidence, nor do I think that all who believe in evolution are close-minded God-haters. As a student of biology I am well acquainted with many of the arguments for evolution and admit they can be convincing. However, in my opinion they are not enough. Two broad camps exist in this debate: Evolution vs. Creationism. However, more broadly, the camps of Naturalism vs. God-believing are created. Above all my intellectual might, I believe in Creationism because I believe that the Word of God is true. This is where your adrenaline pumps up and the temptation to brand this article as the work of a Bible-thumper shoots up precipitously. So don’t worry – I’m a science student too. Above any science, above any philosophy, above any popular fad of man­kind I believe that God holds the truth. Even before any scientific or philosophical argument, I confidently reject naturalism on the simple self-evident assumption that humanity is more than just chemicals. It is something sacred. Some might take exception to that statement, and I will accept arguments on one condition: That you are a strict vegan. Anyone who is not a strict vegan will­ingly accepts the assumption that our lives are worth more than any other quantitative life. If you believe in evolution you must reconcile the idea that humans are different than other life with the idea that, well, we’re no different from other life. If you believe in evolution you must accept that humans are nothing more than very advanced animals, nothing more than the most finely-tuned genetically regulated product of nature. You must accept that hu­manity has no intrinsic rights or value above that which is granted by evolution.

That proposition leads to some serious problems.  One is the problem of the normativity of ethics.  Normative ethics supposes that ethics has the power to deem whether acts are wrong or right.  If ethics are not normative then it can be said that murder results in death, but it cannot be said that murder is wrong.  I don’t know about you, but I believe that murder is intrinsically wrong.  If you believe that humans are the products of evolution you must find a convincing entity that has the authority to administer right and wrong.  We can do this with various philosophical theories but these can run into problems.  Utilitarianism has no need for God.  Yet philosophical theories of ethics that do not rely on God run into problems, such as “Why should we listen to your system of right and wrong?” Utilitarianism itself creates certain ethical dilemmas such as, it is okay to cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend as long as they don’t find out, it doesn’t hurt your relationship, and total happiness is increased.  Now I believe that most of you would believe cheating is inherently bad (what I mean is that if you found out that your significant other was cheating on you would feel deeply hurt and feel wronged.)  Now as someone who would prefer not getting cheated on (as I am sure you are as well) I believe in a normative, objective system of ethics.  Evolution has no rules save one.  Survival of the fittest.  Sounds altruistic to you, no?  Actually I can think of few things less altruistic than survival of the fittest. It appears rather intuitive that evolution by survival of the fittest would preclude the existence of morality as we know it, a morality where sacrificing for others is praised and being selfish is denounced. So how then could a normative objective ethical theory evolve through evolution?  I believe that an ethical theory that is the product of evolving from survival of the fittest to be a system most bereft of any morals at all. But some scientists have proposed a system where altruism may have been introduced through evolution. This is where I will finally turn to science.

Evolution is the selection of traits that give a population reproductive advantage. So if a new trait is introduced into a population of organisms it can be ether beneficial, neutral, or deleterious to the reproduction of the population. So if some organism exhibits a trait that gives them an advantage they survive, reproduce and pass on their traits.  Evolutionists surmise that because altruism is beneficial to a population it was selected for and not against.  Possible, perhaps.  But how does this work?  If one has a trait which causes them to be self-sacrificial (altruistic) it may be good for the population if they sacrifice their life for the good of the population, but how does that sacrificial individual pass on their traits if they are well, dead.  Doesn’t work too good.  The only way that altruistic traits could be selected for if evolution somehow knew that those traits were good and thoughtfully selected them.  Any science teacher worth their salt will say that evolution doesn’t know anything, it has no mind!  But I have several times sat through class hearing the teacher proclaim, “It’s remarkable, it’s as if evolution knew this would be beneficial!”  This is one of my major gripes about evolution.  There is considerable circumstantial evidence that organisms may have evolved from each other.  However, scientists have no clue how it happened, just that it appears to have happened.

Take for example, sexual reproduction.  Asexual reproduction is easy, clean, and pretty safe.  You live so why not make more of you.  Most bacteria utilize asexual reproduction.  Sexual reproduction is a totally different beast.  Sexual reproduction is risky (might not have mates!), costly (more energy used than asexual), and dangerous (deadly if you’re eaten!).  Now we know that sexual reproduction is an essential component of evolution, in that it increases genetic variation.   But how did sexual reproduction arise?  As aforementioned, the world of sexual reproduction can be a scary thing! (I’m talking about microscopic organisms and the origin of sexual reproduction, not humans, although I’m sure it might also ring true to us geeks who are awkward with the opposite sex).  In early organisms sexually reproduction should have been selected against.  Yes, it’s useful for future explanations but who would know that?  The only explanation is that somehow evolution knew that sexual reproduction would be useful in the future and made the sacrifices to create it.  But evolution doesn’t know anything!

One more example, and this one isn’t just one I created.  Creationists call it irreducible complexity.  The basic premise is this: all organisms, even to the simplest cellular level, are extraordinarily complex.  Without getting into the specifics (that’s the pain of biology majors), the idea is that things are so amazingly complex that if just one thing went wrong the entire organism might die.  There is only one right way for biological complexes to work, but billions of wrong ways.  Irreducible complexity states that in light of the aforementioned statements, it seems exceedingly unlikely and probably impossible for evolution to create such complex structures.  Take for example the origin of life.  “Simple” life is really, really, complex.  For basic life, DNA, RNA, proteins, nucleotides, and thousands of enzymes are needed.  Each protein is coded for by thousands of “letters” of DNA.  If only four or five of those letters are incorrect, the protein would almost certainly be doomed.  So how in the world could primordial soup somehow create such stunning complexity?  Most likely it can’t. Evolution must have somehow known what complexity to make.

Evolution works best (or in my opinion at all) if it is directed by some all knowing being. If you believe in evolution you must exhibit remarkable faith in the possible explanations of how certain things evolve. Evolution must be a powerful force indeed if it can know how to direct organisms’ evolution and has the power and creativity to craft complex structures out of nothing. So if you believe that evolution is so powerful and so wise, then I think that it makes perfect sense for evolution to be your God. You must have faith that evolution is so knowledgeable as to create us.

LONG NIGHT’S JOURNEY INTO DAY

The light seeping in through the blinds, the slam of car doors sounding the start of the workday, and the soft patter of my housemates’ drowsy, dragging footsteps downstairs signify the end of my nights.

Nighttime lends itself to a certain quiet, a certain clearness that the day just doesn’t have for me. While others are happy to crawl into a cozy bed at an hour close to midnight and far from dawn, I am content and revitalized by the prospect of the long stretch of time ahead. I’ve always attributed these vampiric tendencies to some innate interest in the under-working of a city and its inhabitants, a fascination with the pun-ridden “darker side of things.” (This has been my excuse for years, anyway, whenever someone sees me stumble out of bed just as the sun is going down.) The isolation that I often find at night is also just more conducive for work—it’s a lot easier to hunker down and write an essay or a story when no one is awake to provide me with a distraction that I would undoubtedly welcome more often than not. But still, it is disconcerting at times to realize that everyone else is in my house is waking up as I’m trying to get to sleep, and it’s often frustrat­ing that everyone is going to sleep when I’m done with my obligations and raring to go.

I look to other creative minds for consolation; Karl Marx, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kafka all worked during the night. Some­times I think of these people as the clock ticks away towards morning and wonder if they felt the same way, if they needed the backdrop of darkness to illuminate their work, if they fished something out of that dense expanse of night and twisted and chiseled it into some­thing for themselves. There are no pretenses once the sun goes down; the bright, orderly appearance of the day is gone.

Night owl Frank Loesser, the American songwriter best known for his scores to Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, simply and eloquently captures a certain feeling that all night-dwellers can relate to:

My time of day is the dark time

A couple of deals before dawn

When the street belongs to the cop

And the janitor with the mop

And the grocery clerks are all gone.

The nighttime is an intimate setting; it is occupied by few, and few want to regularly occupy it. Loesser conveys the tone of this sparsely populated time of night and describes a reclaiming of sorts. Whether by choice or by neces­sity, the night owls are taking their share of the world around them; part of the 24-hour cycle is theirs, too. This “dark time” is Loesser’s time of day.

Perhaps this feeling of simultaneous singularity—of being lone and inde­pendent against the vastness of the night along with the unity of being in the company of the few others who occupy the day’s darker side—is what makes the night so appealing, especially for artists. This duality parallels the artist’s mindset; the ultimate goal of any creative thinker is to be a unique individual (and distinct from the rest of the artsy hipsters). Yet at the same time, artists need a sense of community, a feeling of common purpose and connection with like-minded people. Achieving a balance between these two sentiments is difficult, but the night allows some momentary harmony.

Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks illustrates this balance. Hopper depicts three customers and a worker in a late-night diner. It is an evocative piece, one that conjures up a lot of feelings at once. The bright, fluorescent-lit interior of the diner appears as a haven, a beacon in the dark, sleeping street surround­ing it. The customers, the last remnants of the city’s unsleeping world, have gathered here and are brought together by their common seclusion. They are at once isolated and united.

But this concept of the night as an artistic equilibrium is not just a specula­tion; science also comes into play. Recent studies have shown that night owls are simply just more likely to be creative thinkers. Although a full explana­tion has yet to be formulated, researchers say that this could be the result of an adaptation to living outside the norm. In short, it may not always be the creative mentality that causes an inclination towards nighttime. In fact, the inclination towards nighttime might be what causes a creative mentality. “Be­ing in a situation which diverges from conventional habit—nocturnal types often experience this situation—may encourage the development of a non-conventional spirit and of the ability to find alternative and original solutions,” wrote psychologists Marina Giampietro and G.M. Cavallera in their February 2007 study, “Morning and Evening Types and Creative Thinking.” (This can be found in the psychology journal, Personality and Individual Differences.)

Hans Van Dongen, an associate research pro­fessor at the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, has also contributed important findings towards the study of biology-based sleep preferences. He and his colleagues discovered that a small group of brain cells (suprachiasmatic nuclei, for any biopsychology students), sends sig­nals to the body that synchronize our sleeping patterns with the time of day. For “evening types, their “biological clock” is essentially set two hours later, and for “morning types,” two hours behind. This internal clock may be partially determined by genetics.

The science of sleep is intriguing, no doubt, and also provides a legitimate-sounding excuse for a lot of us late-risers, but for graveyard shift workers, this research may be meaningless. Although we may not associate the waitress taking our bleary order at 3 a.m. with the typical idea of a nighthawk—the test-cramming college kid, the drunk, or the starving artist painting into the wee small hours—she is more immersed in the undertow of society, that un­conventional society of the night, than any of us. The number of graveyard shift workers has been steadily increasing over the years. While the night shift was originally reserved for security guards, bakers, factory workers, etc., it has now come to include a wider array of positions, like computer programmers, technical support workers, and health care workers.

To work nights is to inhabit another world entirely—a Bizarro World, the day turned upside-down. Tracy Niece may be a familiar face to many of you; she works nights at Parkside Diner, usually from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., and sometimes 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Niece has a full head of blonde hair and such a droll, relaxed way of talking that she may first strike you as aloof. You soon realize, however, that her manner has no edge to it; she is just unaffected.

“[Working the night shift] is hard to get used to at first,” Niece said, “and then when you get home you don’t wanna sleep.” Niece said that her schedule is completely turned around, but she must adjust on her days off. Niece has an eight-year son, which makes napping impossible. “Sometimes you stay up for days,” she said. Niece spoke about the people who came in during the night—as expected, a lot of drunk and high people stumble into the diner for a post-party snack. She was lighthearted as she related this, suggesting that they were easy targets for selling pricier menu items. “Yeah, you want some pork chops?” she laughed.

Other night workers also frequent the establishment—doctors, correction of­ficers, nurses, etc. One is likely to encounter an eclectic mix of people going to Parkside late at night; the clientele is a diverse bunch, spanning a wide range of ages, races, and demeanors. And the closer one gets to dawn, the more likely one is to encounter an older crowd, presumably the retired, settling down for breakfast. It is a modern day Nighthawks, a sundry crowd of drunks, insomniacs, and early-risers, all brought together for one reason or another at a small, well-lit diner in Trenton. The romantic ideal of the night owl is hard to shake, but Niece provides us with a more sobering perspective. When asked if she had any last comments, she simply replied, “Don’t work the graveyard shift.”

The hours after midnight are both expansive in their possibilities and limited in their practicality. For some, they signify neither, and represent only a neces­sity of living—the graveyard shift is not a popular one, and most people take night shifts due to the lack of competition and better chances of employment.

I write this now as the sun is rising. Pulling back the blinds, I see neighbors heading to work, a garbage truck rumbling down the street, and birds lighting on the telephone wire. It’s a new day, and I’m not even done with the old one yet. Staying awake through the night allows for a strange mixture of observa­tions—you see the day, you see the night, you see the night give way to day again; the whole metaphor-ridden cycle of the world is before you. Van Gogh once said, “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” Closing my blinds again against the glare of the early-morning sun and crawling into bed, I have to agree.

FIVE GOOD MINUTES WITH DON JUAN

Beginning his collegiate career in 2002, Donald Tharp is currently pursuing a double major in philoso­phy and psychology.

During a four year leave of absence from TCNJ, Tharp found work as a field hand and yard boy for a construction company. The South Jersey native then worked his way “into the office” as a junior estima­tor, eventually becoming a project manager for small jobs, and finally earning the big bucks as an assis­tant project manager for multi-million dollar projects. Now 25, he returned to TCNJ in the spring of 2008.

Tharp sat down with The Perspective for five good — nay, great — minutes.

 

What’s your full name?

Donald Burton Tharp, Jr. — better known as Donny, Don Juan, Old-Timer, and Blue.

If you wanted people to know one thing about you, what would it be?

It’s never too late.

How do you approach living life?

If something bad can happen, it probably will happen, so it’s not about avoiding it, it’s about overcoming it, learning from it, and coming out stronger.

What are your initial thoughts about this last decade?

It’s amazing how relative time is. And though at moments, it seems to creep by — but in retrospect, it’s gone in an instant.

How will the 2000s be remembered?

Two steps forward, one step back… I believe there’s been prog­ress. That’s a net gain of one step. But pessimists will always see the negative — what’s that gonna do for you?

What did you do over winter break?

Finished up working on my loft… should be able to move in shortly after finals. I look forward to living on my own again.

Who did you do over winter break?

My girlfriend of four years, and probably wifey, sooner rather than later.

Where do you see yourself in 2015 or 2020?

By then, hopefully back at this school as either a philosophy or psychology professor. I’d want to create a hybrid of the two.

You’re speaking to the people of the future. What are your most insightful words of wisdom?

What you know as fact now has a good chance of being fic­tion later. Never stop questioning why and how. Never stop seeking knowledge.

Other than R. Barbara Gitenstein, who is your fa­vorite Lion or Lioness and why?

Any of the faculty in the philosophy department. They’re un­der-appreciated and seem to not care less about it.

Who is your least favorite Lion or Lioness, and why?

The Sodexo people who charged me $7.80 for a Sunday brunch.

What’s currently spinning in your iTunes?

“Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.

Shout-out time. Go.

To all the interesting characters and brilliant young minds wandering around this campus… this world is ours, shitty as it may seem at times. If change is inevitable, and it is the fruit of our hands, never let anyone tell us that that change cannot or will not be for the better.

SUPERIOR PROTECTION AGAINST THIEVES

The current state of the economy seems to perpetually weigh on the minds and wal­lets of many. There is worry, a sense of uncertainty that makes us guarded, brac­ing for some sort of future hard knock that could throw us off kilter.

Soon to be graduating, I too have fallen victim to thoughts of unemployment and financial woes. However, recently I was re­minded of a simple truth: everyone deals with a lack of dough differently. Potential coping mechanisms include begging, bor­rowing, job multitasking or, as I experi­enced, stealing.

This past summer, I was the victim of an inattentive subway Pick-Pocket.

It was the type of crowd that accumulates after all down-town businesses spew their employees out onto the sidewalks at the end of a nine to five day. The release is short-lived. Almost immediately, all move en mass to the tube lines below. There, weary and in need of a decent dinner, we stood back to back, waiting on chipped concrete islands for a train that would take us to our next destination and, eventually, home.

Nothing separated the encounter from anything else I had come to consider nor­mal commuter chaos. Gritty metal smell, faint perspiration, someone breathing on the back of your neck as you push forward towards a yellow line, make a dash towards snapping doors. Inside, everyone plays some sort of unspoken etiquette game in which one is not allowed to make eye con­tact with other passengers. Instead, focus shifts to ads featuring beaming Chinese women, women who learned English as a Second Language in ONLY TWO WEEKS. Instructions on how to pull the dangling emergency brake cord (tempting, despite no crisis being imminent.) The flickering of overhead fluorescent lights. Movement of pixilated graffiti scrawled on uneven brick walls.

Though not allowed to acknowledge other passengers, one is allowed to stand close to them. A new rule, set to replace eye con­tact, states that where there is space, there is opportunity for another rider. It is under­stood that bodily boundaries are wasteful. Such borders could house another arm, leg, shoulder, torso, if the occupier would be so kind as to allow it. So, we allow it.

It makes sense that I wasn’t aware of a hand being added to the mix. It is also under­standable that I wouldn’t feel a subtle shift happening in my handbag, a stranger care­fully groping the last bit of untouched terri­tory in the cramped car.

My trip was short, my stop the second on route. I got off quickly, eager to get on my next mode of transportation: the bus. It was only after I had gotten back to my house that I noticed something was off. While search­ing for my keys, I realized that I had been unzipped. The interior pocket of my purse was wide open, its contents splayed out in all directions. I didn’t recall ever opening it myself, let alone hastily grabbing at what it contained.

It was then that I realized that I had almost been robbed. I say almost because what the thief managed to steal was of high utility but little cost to me.

He stole a maxi pad.

Why? I’d like to think it was a fluke. Per­haps he saw the bulging pouch and thought I was packing wads of cash instead of wads of thick, feminine products. But alas, I was a poor woman on my period, not a rich lady hauling twenties.

My mind reeled with plausible sequences that could have followed the encounter.

Did he realize his error and immediately drop it onto the grimy floor?

Worse, did he shove it into the front of his coat without a second glance?

Even worse, upon pilfering it, did he smile a little on the inside, watching me exit, know­ing I was none the wiser?

Did he make the discovery on the next plat­form, surrounded by New Yorkers who are not phased by anything – not even a dirty man, frozen with shock, holding a crumpled, pink-wrapped sanitary napkin in his out­stretched palm?

Did he remain unaware of his mistake until he was alone, back at the abode, ready to add it to a growing pile of embezzled items?

When he pulled out the pad, was he disgust­ed with himself more for what it was, or the fact that he accidentally pinched it?

When he pulled out the pad, did it make him question why he was a Pick-Pocket in the first place? That maybe this was the Universe’s way of telling him it was time for bigger and better ventures?

When he pulled out the pad, was he pissed at me?

I don’t know. What I do know is I am lucky he took the only disposable possession I had.

Future lessons gleaned from the experience would involve being less oblivious to my sur­roundings. Furthermore, I plan on continu­ing to stock my odd purse compartments with maxis. Enough with trite practices involving money hid in your socks. I recommend that all people, female and male, cram their pock­ets, wallets and bags with pads. Banks may fail, Stocks may crash, Recessions may occur. Nevertheless, as I have demonstrated, lady wares protect in more ways than one.

THE MORALITY OF TUCKER MAX

By NICHOLAS A. PELULLO

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.”

Tucker Max is an asshole. He is a self-proclaimed asshole, and seems to be proud of it. No one denies this. Currently, the merits of hosting a self-proclaimed asshole at an academic institution are under heavy debate. One side seems to think the asshole’s right to free speech gives the college justification to present him, the other claims that it is morally culpable to willingly endorse and financially support such an asshole. I, however, am not interested in a debate over how many assholes we can bring to TCNJ. Rather, I feel that an element of Tucker Max’s persona remains unaddressed, and is representative of a key dilemma in American culture: The Success of the Asshole in Western Society.

What is an asshole? If we accept Tucker Max’s definition, in his own words, from his own website:

“I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or rea­sonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.”

An asshole, it would appear, is someone who has cast the founda­tions of Western virtue to the wind. Such a person, according to this definition, has lost all control over his or her physical desires, to the point that these desires are no longer checked by any higher mental capacity. This person has acquired a complete disregard for the ef­fects of his or her actions on his or her fellow human beings. Truly an asshole, indeed.

However, regardless of whatever criticisms we may make of this particular asshole, there is one undeniable affirmation: he is ridicu­lously successful. Despite, or perhaps because of, his being “a raging dickhead,” Mr. Max has made himself a much-lauded figure in soci­ety. Why, one might ask, does someone who indulges to admittedly unhealthy excess and has no concern for other people garner such success?

The answer, I believe, lies in one key issue: pride.

Self-worth, or pride, is inherently attractive, both in terms of social and interpersonal relationships. It shows that the person who knows you best – you – recognizes and acknowledges that you are “worthy.”

Our society, however, has arbitrarily aligned “pride” with what is considered to be morally bad, and the opposite of pride – humil­ity – with what is considered to be morally good. As a result of all this, people who want to be virtuous tend to strive toward the ideal of humility over pride, artificially devaluing themselves. People who do not wish to see themselves aligned to virtue (such as Mr. Max), on the other hand, are free to indulge in pride, and, as a result, possess a degree of self worth, albeit excessive.

Therein lies the success of all assholes. For all their faults, social forc­es have left them as one of the only groups possessing at least an ap­propriate amount of self worth, leaving the majority of non-assholes with an undue dearth of self-value.

The solution to the proliferation of assholes in Western culture, therefore, is for good people to reclaim “pride” as a moral virtue. When you get right down to it, it’s a matter of honesty. If you’re a good person, you should recognize that, if only to be truthful to yourself and the world. In fact, you should thrive on it. That’s right – thrive. Too long have I seen good people not value themselves ap­propriately, with sorry consequences for themselves and the good of the world around them. The success of this one asshole, which our college so willingly endorses, is not a random anomaly; instead, it represents a systematic failure of our society to properly value its members.

WILLFUL WASTE

Et tu, Mr. Higgins?

By ANYA SARETZKY


An anonymous source from within So­dexo management told The Perspec­tive that the Library Café throws away “at least ten pounds” of uneaten food each evening, while across campus, dining services as a whole wastes over 150 pounds on a daily basis. The source would be fired if he or she were to give students free food after closing – and has been reprimanded in the past for at­tempting to do so. The source points out the glaring hypocrisy in Sodexo’s enthu­siastic promotion of canned food drives while, simultaneously, unspoiled food that could easily be sent to local pantries is intentionally wasted.

Though The College of New Jersey has distanced itself from Trenton by name, we nevertheless reside mere blocks away from a city in which nearly one in four indi­viduals live below the poverty line. Throughout the nation, the effects of the recession have re­sulted in a greater dependency on food stamps; today, an eighth of Americans and a quarter of children rely on government aid to feed them­selves. To those of us with unlimited college meal plans, our most pressing food-related problem may be the soggy quality of Eickhoff’s grilled cheese. But hunger is a constant concern for millions of Americans, many of them TCNJ’s close neighbors.

John Higgins, general manager of So­dexo Dining Services, once again de­clined to comment for this article. Thus, the official rationale for allowing this shameful amount of food waste could not be ascertained; one might argue, however, that liability issues could arise if unused food were to be donated. But such objections have long been rendered obsolete. The Bill Emerson Good Samari­tan Act provides legal protection to donors that contribute food to nonprofit organi­zations in good faith. As our anonymous source rightly wonders, “what are they los­ing by letting someone eat a meal?”

To be sure, Sodexo is not alone in wast­ing food. Nationally, forty to fifty percent – over twenty-five million tons – of all food produced is never eaten. The United Nations Food Programme estimates that this waste alone could feed every hungry person in Africa. Considering that over a billion people in the world are living in hunger, with 3.5 million dying as a result of under-nutrition every year, it seems of little inconvenience to send a few dozen paninis to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

Apart from the ubiquity of unnecessary hunger that could be easily remedied with the elimination of waste, guided food management is crucial in staving off cli­mate change. Indeed, the production of meat alone creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined, and the United States could cut its environmental impact in half by elimi­nating food-related waste.

By redirecting these pounds of perishables from the garbage can to the mouths of hungry people, TCNJ could also limit its contributions to toxic landfills, where food cannot decompose sustainably. What is the most sustainable way to dis­pose of food, you ask? Return it to the earth by composting. Unlike Princeton, Brown, Cornell, and Harvard, our “pub­lic Ivy” condemns all of its food waste to landfill doom. As TCNJ’s paninis rot in heaps of garbage, they exude methane gas, which is twenty times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

What is particularly tragic is that climate change, exacerbated by needless food waste, will actually worsen the problem of food insecurity in the developing world. By 2050, cli­mactic shifts will be responsible for decreased agricultural yields of up to twenty-two percent in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. As a result of this global decline in food produc­tion, ten to twenty percent more people worldwide will go hungry, with an estimated nineteen mil­lion children suffering from malnourish­ment.

As evidenced by its emphatic calls for canned food donations, Sodexo is clearly well aware of the needs that exist with­in our community. Unfortunately, the huge amount of food waste generated by dining services belies whatever com­mitment they purport to have made; So­dexo’s claim that “Dining Services at The College of New Jersey is on the forefront of implementing sustainable initiatives into its operations” seems laughable in light of these ongoing practices. With each sandwich it sends to rot every eve­ning, Sodexo is carelessly throwing away its potential to facilitate positive environ­mental and humanitarian change.

CONTEMPORARY CLASSICS

When our parents discuss “the classics,” there is little leeway and little variation. How can one argue the greatness of The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and Nirvana? The music of past generations existed in a pre-Internet age, when the masses were exposed to a precious few chart-toppers whose canonization was met with deservedly few objections. But since the turn of the millennium, genres have split sharply, and an exponentially expanded musical marketplace has made viable the potential for canonizing more ‘underground’ artists.

So when we sit down to tell our children about the “classics” of this era, which names will be dropped?

We won’t have to dig too deep for artists whose careers have been wholly synonymous with the success of their respective genres. And yet, there are many more landmark-making musicians whose relative obscurity might cause them to be missed by those still reliant on the FM dial.

Unbeknownst to many, these active acts are churning out generation-defining records to a gracious crowd of music insiders and indie rock aficionados.

The following is a list of ten artists, some of whom have become ubiquitous, and others who struggle for recognition outside high-brow cultural circles. These performers may well be considered the “classics” for future generations:

KANYE WEST

Countless new rappers are supposed to “change the game,” but few have matched the hype like Kanye did earlier this de­cade. Not content merely to popularize “positive rap,” the self-proclaimed “voice of this generation” has morphed sparkling production and pop sensibilities into several distinct formats since his 2003 debut, The College Dropout. In 2007’s Gradu­ation, Kanye borrowed driving beats from European techno, threw down his signature rhymes and hooks, mashed it all together, and emerged with another Grammy. Just over a year later, with 2008’s sparse, Autotuned anti-rap 808s and Heart­break, Kanye managed to both evade “career killer” status and drop several more irresistible singles. Aside from creat­ing some of the era’s most emblematic music, West’s much-publicized personal exploits have revealed a sometimes arro­gant, always eccentric, and yet utterly relatable pop star. Do yourself a favor and check out his perpetually CAPS LOCKED musings on Twitter.

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM

James Murphy, the New York City-based DJ, producer, DFA Records honcho, and LCD mastermind is the first on this list whose music should be considered classic, but whose appeal might yet be too narrow for such a designation. Since 2002, Murphy has released two acclaimed albums, both lauded by critics as defining contributions to electronic and dance mu­sic. By combining decades’ worth of musical knowledge with entrancing disco-electro-house-synthpop, Murphy has brought a renewed legitimacy to a genre long dogged by passing trends and an ecstasy-ridden past.

ARCADE FIRE

Before they became the most frequently name-dropped band in the indie rock blogosphere, Arcade Fire was an unknown husband-wife project kicking around the Montreal under­ground scene. Funeral, their 2004 debut, entered the fray at a time when three or four-piece garage bands were the hot item. Then, suddenly, the concept of twenty musicians onstage si­multaneously playing everything from guitar to glockenspiel became the new craze among music journalists. The band turned down offers from nearly every major record label and released 2007’s Neon Bible, their almost-just-as-good follow-up, on Merge Records – known for employing less then ten people. Not only are they indie rock’s saviors; Arcade Fire is also not for sale.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE

Dominated by disposable teen pop at one end and rap-metal at the other, mainstream popular music hit an all-time low at the turn of the millennium. JT of course cannot be blamed for Limp Bizkit, but for helping to popularize the boy-band trend as *NSYNC’s front man, he is guilty-as-charged. However, since going solo in 2002, Timberlake’s epiphany-like reinvention has mirrored the very rebirth of mainstream pop music in the latter half of the decade. Early critical claims of brilliance were ‘justified,’ pun in­tended, by 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds – the most au­thoritative pop album of the 2000s. Producer-extraordi­naire Timbaland infused heavy R&B influence into the pop mogul’s sound, and the artist who was once ridiculed as nothing more than the object of middle school-aged girls’ wet dreams had arrived as the decade’s most mature face in pop music.

RADIOHEAD

While some artists pride themselves on keeping a con­sistent sound, Radiohead has built a fanatical following with an album-by-album metamorphosis. Five years af­ter “Creep,” their comparatively innocuous debut single, 1997’s career-defining OK Computer captured the para­noia of a generation just coming to terms with a new age of technology. Always ones to stay ahead of the curve, Thom Yorke and company released 2007’s In Rainbows exclusively as an online download, allowing purchasers to name their own price (including $0.00). As of late, the fivesome seems unwilling to craft another record by con­ventional means, an approach likely to be verified by a much-anticipated new album in 2010.

JAY-Z

“Takeover,” the second offering on Jay-Z’s 2001 classic The Blueprint, is one of the most merciless diss tracks in the annals of hip-hop: the breaking point of his heated feud with Nas. Who other than Jay-Z could self-assuredly dis­miss the artist behind Illmatic (arguably the genre’s great­est album) as a “little fuck?” Jay-Z is the hip-hop authority, the purveyor of countless hit tracks, and guest of honor on even more. By 2009, Hova declared himself “the new Sina­tra” and wrote “Death of Autotune,” seemingly as the only man alive whose ego was big enough to stop the stampede of T-Pain imitators.

THE KILLERS

During an era in which mainstream rock has crum­bled beneath the weight of post-grunge sludge and mall emo nonsense, these one-time new wave reviv­alists are one of the few dependable standards on the rock radio dial. From the synth-happy New Or­der worship of their 2004 breakthrough Hot Fuss, to the similarly detectable Bruce Springsteen worship on 2006’s Sam’s Town, Brandon Flowers’ crew has enjoyed remarkable consistency on the charts despite major shifts in sound. And really, who can blame the enigmatic front-man for taking well-deserved shots at Fall Out Boy and The Bravery?

SUFJAN STEVENS

The fascinatingly obtuse Sufjan Stevens has kept indie kids guessing his next move all decade with little success. His ac­claimed “50 States Project,” which promised a concept album thematically based on every U.S. state, has produced only two entries since its 2003 inception – and may already be over. But for many, 2005’s Illinois will suffice; even with a limited dis­cography, the Brooklyn minstrel is among the decade’s most successful artists, leaving fans holding their breath while he decides what to do next.

ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS

The indie scene was introduced to songwriter Antony Hegarty in 2005, when he was awarded Britain’s cov­eted Mercury Prize for best album, beating out a slew of heavy favorites. That year’s I Am a Bird Now and this year’s Crying Light are spellbinding orchestrations of dark cabaret, with Hegarty’s quivering vibrato as the fo­cal point. As a member of New York’s gay community, his music explores issues of gender identity, self-per­ception, and life and death – with chilling immediacy.

OUTKAST

In an Atlanta scene plagued by repetitive gangsta postur­ing, Outkast’s dynamic, left-brained persona has set the standard for innovative contemporary hip-hop. Is it any wonder that since the duo went on hiatus a few years ago, we’ve had to endure the rise of Soulja Boy-esque bangers and generic Auto-tuned money-grabs? Those whose thirst was not fully quenched by 2004’s uber-successful Speak­erboxx/The Love Below should remain cautiously optimis­tic: Big Boi and André 3000 will be back sooner or later. The pair will carry with them the funkiest, oddball-est, and perhaps most meteorically successful catalogue of the de­cade, from “Rosa Parks,” to “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad),” to the crossover hit to end all crossover hits – “Hey Ya!”

A BRAVE NEW ELECTRO-WORLD

By M.C. TRACEY

At the dawn of this new decade, we reflect with humility on the accomplishments of the last. In 2000, could we have predicted the ubiquity with which the Internet now functions in our lives? Could we have foreseen an existence that is so reliant on the daily conveniences it provides, and the extent to which it has pervaded nearly every crevice of knowledge, communication, and culture?

Doubtful we could have. So as another decade burgeons, let us step back and ponder the implications of such a spellbinding change in human experience. Since its bubble inflated in the mid-1990s, the Internet has transformed itself at a breakneck pace, accommodating our every need with the utmost preci­sion. In a mere fifteen years, it has evolved from a relatively meager novelty to an all-encompassing force, on which we project every aspect of ourselves, both individually and collec­tively. Through it we have consolidat­ed our basic needs of informational consumption — television, phone, mail. Our entertainment, our social lives, professional lives, our educa­tion, and our politics all can now be understood through the medium of the Internet.

With that in mind, let us look ahead — far ahead. If all this could be accom­plished in fifteen years, what might be the situation in eighty? When the last of us takes our final breath, what will the Internet have become?

Perhaps it will have evolved into something ineffable, transcendent — something not explainable by any word or notion we currently have at our nearsighted disposal.

Indeed, it is possible that the Internet will have bound us all together, as one people, connected by one singular wave of en­ergy. We in turn will behave much more consciously of our fellow man, no matter how far across the globe he dwells, and we will expect the same in return. Our propensity to empathize, fraternize, and otherwise negotiate interpersonal relationships will have been radically altered, stretched beyond the wildest imagination of anyone limited by today’s hopelessly minute breadth of knowledge.

With every passing day, as the prescient Carl Sagan once de­clared with stirring adoration, a still more glorious dawn awaits. His message resonates with frenetic anticipation; we can hardly contain our innovation, our feverish curiosity, and our ever-accelerating spiral into technological oblivion.

How privileged we are to live in this time of the Internet’s in­fancy — of infinite possibilities. How privileged we are, indeed, to live in this time of the whole of science’s infancy, for from the greatest galaxy to the smallest electron, there is so much more to know about our cosmos. Our path of discovery barrels on unhinged, unmitigated, and emboldened further ahead with each dramatic achievement.

At the beginning of the last decade, the nascent Internet was at worst a gimmick, at best a mildly interesting pastime for the curiously-motivated and the technologically-informed. It occupied a limited but potential-ridden crest in our collective psyche — but as of yet, daily life did not necessitate the Internet.

And what a difference a decade makes. The Internet now boasts all the variety, all the idiosyncrasy, and all the unpredictability of traditional life. Ten years ago, one could reasonably answer the question “what is your favorite website?” Today, that same question is unaware and awkward: there is no longer a distinction between the Internet and non-Internet living. These two aspects our existence have merged — and irrecover­ably so.

We now operate in an electro-world of sorts, one in which our connection to this greater force is soon to be the glue that binds friend and enemy alike. Still further it binds nation-to-nation, culture-to-culture, ethnicity-to-ethnicity, and neighbor-to-neighbor. Those who suffer will be heard. Those who are neglected will be noticed.

And then there is the Internet and democracy. Not democracy’s popular political manifesta­tion (though its reshaping of that is also mo­mentous) but the cultural manifestation — the sort that more reliably enters our everyday lives.

No longer does a privileged minority lay claim to a monopoly of knowledge – soon it will be accessible to everyone. It will be democratized. What now matters more than the mere acquisition of knowledge is how that knowledge is subse­quently processed, synthesized, and repackaged into a product of rea­son. Common pedagogy must thereby transform itself accordingly.

And what does it mean to have a portal to the whole of human knowl­edge in our pockets? To think: We walk around today with ‘smart-phones,’ devices through which we can contact anyone in the world in seconds, and through which we can simultaneously gather information about any topic we so desire. For a species which has spent most of its days hunting, gathering, child rearing, and clinking rocks together, this is a profound new evolutionary trend.

Even more profound, more impressive, and yet for many disconcerting is the astronomical pace with which this technology is developing. Some rightly decry its potential for manipulation and tyranny. But do they real­ize the Internet may instead be our great liberator?

Those who live in oppression now have a voice. Those who might oth­erwise be lost in deafening silence to the annals of history now have the ability to make known their grievances. We now partake in the anguish of our fellow humans with more intimacy, more humility, and more solidarity. Indeed, the Internet is gradually opening our eyes to the world.

But what is it, and what will it look like in eighty years? Perhaps we would be arrogant to attempt such a conjecture. Many find this ambiguity disturbing. I find its reality thrilling.

Through this publication we endeavor to help guide our social transformation such that it will finally be to the benefit of everyone, collectively and individually, acting with unity as we harness the impending power of awesome technology.

In eighty years, will the last among us look back to 2010 with a quaint nostalgia, wondering what life must have been like in such a primitive state?

As we speculate, perhaps the long arc of history will have rendered much of human suffering obsolete. Perhaps we might have finally coalesced into a single global union, once hampered by the arbitrary barriers of race, gender, and cultural identity, but at last shaken free the polarizing chains of centuries past.

Perhaps the ongoing upheaval in Iran, aided by social networking and remote Internet access, will be presented as the first case in which traditional political oppression has become shelved with other dusty relics of history.

Of course, it is beyond our capacity to know. But for now, we’ll do what we can to move things along.

“MY MOM IS RACIST”

By CAROLINE BACHMANN

For the typical white, middle-class, college-aged American, the concept of con­temporary racism seems foreign — or even extinct. But for one TCNJ student, the bitter reality of racial prejudice in America today has become a fact of life. A short while ago, Aaron*, a student raised in a conservative Jewish household, began seeing an African American girl named Jessica. After happily dating for a few weeks, Aaron called home to tell his family the pleasant news: he was in a new relationship.

He never could have anticipated his mother’s reaction.

“It was nauseating,” Aaron told The Perspective. “She said, ‘I don’t want you in my house; I don’t want to pay your tuition; I’m cutting you off; I want nothing to do with you.’

Aaron is “a white Jewish boy,” his mother lashed, “and should be sticking with his own.”

Aaron said, “she feels like I’ve somehow betrayed our people, like I’ve spat on the graves of our ancestors. It’s not something I feel like I could combat with logic. It’s emotion; it’s ignorance; it’s hatred. I’m not going to be able to sit down with her and talk her out of it.”

Aaron’s mother, however, claims not to be a racist. “I’ve worked with black peo­ple,” she reportedly said to her son. “I don’t dislike black people. But I don’t want them in our family, and I’m disgusted by the thought that our son is with one.”

Recalling a dispute he and a professor had had not long ago, Aaron reflected: “He was telling me ‘You’ve been sheltered; you’re white; you’ve never experienced rac­ism. You don’t know what racism is.’ I said by and large, racism was dying out. But then I come home and find out it’s in my own house.”

“Looking back,” Aaron added, “he was right.”

“I’ve been sheltered from it most of my life by virtue of being a white, Jewish boy,” Aaron said. “But there is more hatred in society and even within my own walls than I ever could have possibly conceived.”

“Our relationship is never ever going to be okay with her,” he said, “but Jessica and I are going to stay together. I love my mom as much as the next person, but if respect for her means I have to accept racism into my heart, I’m not going to do it. I do not want that to be a part of me.”

He explained further, “I’m sickened by it; I’m sickened that the woman who birthed me thinks this way. I cannot bear the thought that I came from a racist mother. That’s in me now – that hatred is in me. Even if I don’t think that way, whatever it was about her upbringing, her life experience – that’s in my blood.”

“Remnants of racism still exist in society,” Aaron concluded. “And they need to be pointed out and fought wherever they are found.”

*Names changed

LET JOY BE UNCONFINED

Do you yearn to be quipped at cleverly while feeling your self-esteem evaporate? Is your fascination with English Pleasure Gardens undying? Do you long to hear the phrase “things look bleak for you” said with the dulcet tenor of a London accent? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are mad. But you are also a perfect candidate to become a pupil of the enigmatic James Stacey Taylor.

He is ironic, intelligent, and breathtakingly tall. Early American fables claim he carved the Grand Canyon by dragging an axe across the desert – the name was later changed to Paul Bunyan for legal reasons. Now, he enjoys a quiet life of educating young minds in the Philosophy Department of TCNJ.

Dr. Taylor was kind enough to answer several questions for The Perspective – and even suggested a few him­self when he discovered the interviewer was woefully incapable. Now sit back, secure tongue firmly in cheek, and enjoy the musings of a delightfully sardonic Brit.

Where did you grow up?

Mainly in the Bedford Park area of London; this was the first planned Garden Suburb, dating from the C19th Arts and Crafts movement in England, and so was a very pleasant place to grow up. Yeats lived a few houses down from the house I grew up in, and wrote several of his major poems there. Not when I was living there, of course—he was dead by then. Or so his biographers would have us believe.

Where did you go to university?

At St. Andrews University, in Scotland, and UC Berkeley, for my undergraduate work and first postgraduate degree; then Bowling Green State University in Ohio for my further gradu­ate studies. And, no, I don’t play golf; it is a silly game. There are far easier ways to get that little white ball into those small holes.

When did you move to America, and why?

I spent a year at UC Berkeley, as part of my undergraduate degree. I moved more permanently in the mid 1990s, to con­tinue graduate work in philosophy. At the time the chances of securing an academic job in America were much higher than in Britain—there were simply more available—and an American degree was considered advantageous. Plus, I was misled—the man who recruited me to study in Ohio claimed that the Midwest was just like California. It isn’t.

Have you seen much of America?

I’ve lived in the Midwest, the Deep South (Louisiana), the Shallow South (Virginia), and on both West and East Coasts, so I’ve experienced quite a wide variety of American life. In­cluding line dancing and tractor pulling, both of which I ob­served from a safe distance.

What do you like about America?

The general friendliness of people, and gas station hotdogs. These are probably the most important contribution America has made to the culinary arts. (The hot dogs, that is.) They’re absolutely wonderful, and so cheap! Plus, you can load up on vegetable-based condiments, and so they’re healthy, too.

Do you like horror movies?

Why does this question follow questions about America?

Of course! I used to live in a town that was the set of a recent horror film, whose working title was Backwater. (It was re­leased as Venom, and is terrible.) When you’re living in a town that’s being filmed as the backdrop to a horror film called Backwater things look bleak. Especially if the film crew have to spruce the place up so it doesn’t look too creepy. I recom­mend Spoorlos and Anatomie as terrific horror movies—al­though stop watching Anatomie after the first scene. It goes downhill rapidly. And is mean to utilitarians.

How did you get interested in philosophy?

The school I went to (i.e., for the equivalent of high school) had a very good Sixth Form Library, and subscribed to aca­demic journals in philosophy and classics, among others. I was browsing through the philosophy journals, and found the articles in them fascinating, especially those to do with theo­retical ethics. Unfortunately, this happened after I’d been ac­cepted to read for a Law degree at an English university. So, I gave up my place there, took a year off, and applied to read philosophy at St Andrews.

What are your interests in philosophy?

I’m interested in medical ethics, especially the morality of us­ing markets to procure human transplant organs. I’m also in­terested in the related questions of whether death is a harm to the person who dies, whether the dead can be wronged, and whether the dead can be harmed. (The answers are no, no, and no. The dead would be very lucky indeed, were they to exist to instantiate such a property.) I also work on theories of personal autonomy—what it is for an action or a desire to be correctly attributable to one as one’s own. And I have interests in the work of Descrates, Berkeley, and nineteenth century utilitarianism.

Do you have any other academic interests?

Yes—history (especially medieval English history), and clas­sics (especially the Epicurean school). I’m also keenly inter­ested in plagues, especially the Great Mortality of the C14th. That was a real disease—not like the weak-kneed stuff that’s around now.

Do you have any pets?

Three Catahoula hunting dogs, and an embarrassingly large number of cats. An embarrassingly large number of cats is any number above zero.

EDITORIAL: THE DAWN OF A DECADE

The onset of a new year is always bittersweet. We frantically search for meaning in the successes and failures of the last twelve months, grouping them together as somehow indicative of what it meant to live in 2009. We assume with a rather arbitrary degree of optimism that a fresh change in the Roman calendar will accompany a comparably fresh revelation of insight.

Illustration by Sarah Stryker

This issue, then, deals with the paradox of renewal: our profound strides forward and the implications thereof, combined with the ever-present forces of antiquity that still linger as society waits impatiently for more earnest modernization. From politics, to religion, to technology, to culture, we grapple with a grating conflux of yesterday and today. It is a tug-of-war — and at times, an all-out brawl. Within these pages, we try to make sense of it.