November 2010
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Month November 2010

Flat Broke with Children

In Flat Broke with Children (Oxford University Press, 2003), welfare reform advocate and University of Southern California gender studies and sociology professor Dr. Sharon Hays claims that the “demonizing [of] welfare mothers,” in the United States, “implicitly allows us [Americans] to wash our hands of this population.” Flat Broke with Children

Hays uses both empirical and anecdotal evidence to illustrate a “mainstream” America that considers welfare mothers – 90 percent of the adult welfare population – to have different values, beliefs, and practices than its own. She paints an unjust system and argues that these mothers (especially those with no responsible significant others) do, in fact, “share the core values of most Americans.”

“The trouble,” she explains, “is that welfare reform was founded on the assumption that welfare mothers [are] personally responsible for undermining our nation’s moral principles.” Like other welfare reform advocates, Hays points to a flawed objective: “The policies and procedures instituted… have thus been aimed at ‘fixing’ these women.”

Secretary of College Democrats Speaks Out

The 2010 midterm elections were anything but run-of-the-mill. From the primary season, it became apparent that an anti-incumbent atmosphere was settling in, and no one was safe, whether Democrat or Republican. What caused this anger to develop? Why is it that just two years after President Obama won the presidency by such a decisive margin, and with the Democrats gaining greater control of both the House and Senate, we are seeing a substantial reversal?

One explanation for this trend is that the Democrats took care of business out of order. President Obama and Congressional Democrats should have worked to strengthen the economy first, and left health care reform as a second-term job. Health care was, from the start, a very divisive issue that was bound to break down all hopes of bipartisanship. There are many instances of both Congressional Democrats and Republicans contributing to the disintegration of bipartisanship.

Perspective Founder Profiles Gov. Christie for The Nation

The Rise of Chris Christie, Governor Wrecking Ball

This profile was first published at

From National Review, which ran an August cover story designating him the “Scourge of Trenton,” to conservative bloggers electrified by his boisterous YouTube clips, just about every relevant Republican constituency has found something to be taken with in Chris Christie. Policy analysts in Washington appear just as enthralled by his critique of public pensions as are the familiar talk-radio personalities. “Ladies and gentlemen, is it wrong to love another man?” Rush Limbaugh asked one afternoon. “Because I love Chris Christie.”

In a feat of strategic jujitsu, Christie has managed to tread a tenuous ideological line between Beltway Republicans and the Tea Party, endorsing Mike Castle over Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican senatorial primary. The calculation implied that although he clearly welcomes its support, Christie is not tethered to the Tea Party’s every whim; meanwhile, the Republican National Committee was happy to shuttle him around the country on behalf of various candidates this election cycle. Even among social conservatives, to whom Christie does not often pander, he has amassed impressive credentials: Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, lauded “the victory of a pro-life, pro-marriage GOP governor in New Jersey” last year after Christie vowed to veto a same-sex marriage bill. This ubiquitous adoration suggests that should rumored presidential aspirations materialize, he may be able to unite the party’s balkanized base.

‘Pixel’ Artist to Give Lecture

Last November, Willie Cole installed his divisive, sparkling “Pixels,” a public artwork comprising four huge, glittered spheres of different colors, on the grass between Loser Hall, the Music Building, and the Art & IMM Building at TCNJ.

The Pixel Project - The College of New Jersey (
The Pixel Project, The College of New Jersey

The installation provoked responses both legion and varied. Some were taken aback by the Pixels, either irked to be uninvolved in the selection process or distracted by the contrast with Campus architecture. Some welcomed the piece as a bold artistic statement, but most were skeptical about its funding and confused about its message.

Cole addressed these concerns in January: according to the Signal, Cole affirmed, “This artwork has nothing to do with the money that pays for their education. It in fact is a gift to them…”

Regarding the Pixel concept, Cole said, “The pixel, as represented in this work, links art and interactive media… In sculpture, the sphere is emblematic of minimalism. In media the sphere — as an abstract representation of the pixel — is primary. It also represents the single dot of color in a pointillist painting, or the single particle that is the basic building ‘dot’ of all living things.”

From October 28 through December 8, Cole’s work is featured in IMM room 115. Most pieces comment on race and gender issues, and all of his work is political, thoughtful, and confrontational.

Today (Thursday, November 18), Willie Cole will be giving a lecture in the new Art & IMM building, room 115, at 11:30am. Afterword, we will talk to Cole about the political roots of his work, his assessment of current issues, and more. Check back here soon for the interview and photographs of some of his work.

Arabs, Zionism, and the Holocaust

In Zionist propaganda, Israel is presented as the safe haven of the Jewish people, who have long been persecuted throughout history. However, in reality, Israel is arguably the least safe place in the world for Jews, as Israel is in constant conflict

Gilbert Achcar

Photo by Anne Alexander

with her neighbors. Waging wars of imperialism against neighboring Arabic nations, Zionists in Israel have taken to using the Holocaust as justification for Israel’s aggression, culminating in the demonization of the Arab as the modern Nazi. In his talk at Rutgers University on November 10, Gilbert Achcar, author of The Arabs and the Holocaust, debunked myths of Arab support for Nazis and discussed the modern exploitation of the Holocaust by Israel.

It’s a universal fact that Germans perpetrated the Holocaust. Only the most delusional would contest this fact. The Holocaust, a terrible tragedy, expressed to many the immediate need to create a Jewish state to protect the Jewish people; hence Israel’s current existence. However, the chain of Zionist logic was missing a prominent link.

Why should Arabs, who had no hand in the Holocaust, bear Germany’s punishment? To answer this question, Zionists have maintained an assault on history, portraying Arabs as Nazi supporters and sympathizers.

Rethinking Education

Via Matthew Davis, a mathematics student at the College, and Sir Ken Robinson.


Letter to the Editor

Dated 11/14/10

Regarding your quote from Christine O’Donnell on page 3, here is what the actual Constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Notice it does not say “separation of church and state,” but rather that the state has no right to make a law regarding any religion, interfering with the free speech and practice of those in the religion – well it is pretty self-explanatory isn’t it, so I don’t know why I’m trying to spell it out for you.

In other words, Christine has every right to speak her beliefs, whether or not we agree with them. And it turns out she was right anyway, at least about this particular statement in the Constitution.

UPDATE: Details Emerge in Police Discrimination Suit

Three black College security personnel, who allege they are victims of racial discrimination and harassment perpetrated by white colleagues, have expanded on the details of their lawsuit in a court brief obtained by The Perspective.

College Pays Firm $80,000 to Rebrand Image

Tomorrow at TCNJ?The College of New Jersey will be launching a new marketing campaign designed to support fundraising, increase out-of-state enrollment, and improve TCNJ’s reputation to advance revenue-generation initiatives, according to newly appointed VP of College Relations and Advancement, Dr. Matthew Golden.

Two Years in, Disappointment Mounts

It’s been almost exactly two years since we elected Barack Obama atop a liberal tide of anti-Bush consensus. But what has actually changed? Has there been any progress? Half a term through, it’s time to evaluate Obama across the board.

Pondering ‘Prog’ – The Tea Club

It seems as if the band is considered progressive rock by default: if there is no way to compartmentalize their music into an existing genre, it is conveniently sorted into this collection bin of odds and ends. Progressive rock, then, could not be an easy scene to get into — in defying classification, it should be difficult to know what makes a band peg themselves as ‘prog’, which may ultimately be all that holds it together as a genre.

This label could simply designate various strange novelties in music, but may indicate more than what is missing in the giant canopy of rock’s pre-established music scene. A sense of the ineffable qualities that hold a band in the progressive rock genre might be glimpsed between what a few members of this Barrington-based band had to say about music.

Pro-Life Radicals Compare Abortion to Genocide

The claim that abortion is “genocide” is rubbish. The term “genocide” was coined by an international lawyer and linguist named Raphael Lemkin in 1944. He combined the Greek root geno meaning race or tribe, with the Latin derivative cide which means to kill. He wanted a unique term to describe the Nazi’s systematic plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe, which is the prototype of the phenomenon the term “genocide” is meant to describe.

Aborting Logic

The abortion debate is an old one; each side’s opinions and rationales have long been made public knowledge. Despite this, the pro-life argument was resurrected on this campus in the form of a several hour lecture-debate on September 15, in conjunction with an inflammatory display outside of the science complex which appeared shortly after.

Pine Ridge Poverty

Pine Ridge, a Native American reservation in South Dakota, is one of the poorest places in the Western Hemisphere:

A Lakota on Pine Ridge receives on average $3,700 annually from the tribal trust fund, less than an American citizen receiving welfare.

National unemployment rate is at ~10%.

Unemployment in Pine Ridge is at ~90%.

Alcoholism rates in Pine Ridge are over 80%.

Life expectancy at Pine Ridge is 47 years for men and 54 years for women, second lowest in the Western Hemisphere only to Haiti.

There is one dilapidated supermarket for roughly 45,000 residents on Pine Ridge, far southwest in a corner of the reservation, inaccessible to most. A middle-aged old man with skin the color of the earth and weathered beyond his years, stands beside the entrance to a memorial of his ancestors at Wounded Knee. It was here that the resistance and dream of his people died in 1890, when over 350 Oglala Lakota men, women, and children were massacred by the U.S. 7th Calvary. He tells us this story, and at its conclusion asked for a few dollars; he does this with dignity, yet it seems an activity he is accustomed to. He needs the money to pay for a two-hour, out-of-state drive to the nearest supermarket — a Wal-Mart in Nebraska — for enough food to last a few weeks, and then he will once again begin saving for the trip.


When we were born we just found each other that way. We didn’t have a choice to be anything else. And then when we arrived, cross-legged, jagged-brained, blowing out smoke on a stranger’s stoop, we had no choice, either. I didn’t know if we were something beautiful or not, something evil or not. I thought about how awful it must have seemed, the way we passed around the cigarette from one hand to the other, both of our hands, making two in all, stretching up arms that led to the same human torso. We were skilled at being one, but knew in our hearts that we were two.

I had never seen our mother before, only knew her. I knew the plotting, shrieking, ugly thing inside her but never the outside. Born blind and split, I was. Couldn’t see. Not whole. And she reminded us. Reminded me so bad that it made me happy that I could make my whole world invisible. I would never know how evil we looked. Reminded me so much that we cried every night until she couldn’t take the wet tears, the dripping sniffling dirty tears anymore and drove us away. Far. And we were scared and I couldn’t see where I was. We found a stoop, rough and large. And the first thing we did was pray.

Cease All Settlements

RESPONSE TO — Partners in Peace?

David Michelson pointedly inquires why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should extend the freeze on settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

There are three good reasons for doing so:

  1. The settlements are illegal under international law.

Partners in Peace?

Israel exists and will continue to exist only until Islam obliterates it. The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, killing the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” (The Hamas Charter)

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks — launched amidst a 10-month halt on construction of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank — came to a screeching halt on September 26 as the moratorium expired. Palestinian leaders say that peace talks cannot continue unless Israel extends its settlement freeze, or drafts a new one altogether. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not inclined to do so — not without major enticements from the Obama Administration. And why should he be? What happened the last time Israel agreed to give up its settlements for the promise of peace in negotiations orchestrated by an American President?

Recent First Amendment Controversies

Freedom of speech is one of the most cherished rights in the United States. However, it seems that many do not understand what it truly means, and why it is important.

It is not surprising that members of the campus community throw out the term “free speech” so liberally, when we see a person such as radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger claim violation of her freedom of speech when she felt public pressure after aggressively repeating racial epithets on the air.

College Republicans / Ann Coulter, December 2008 & February 2009

In the fall semester of 2008, the College Republicans decided to bring controversial political pundit, Ann Coulter, to speak in Kendall Hall. As expected, many on campus were disturbed by the College Republicans’ invitation of such a divisive and deeply offensive figure, as well as the event’s $22,800 price tag.

Angered students formed a movement against Coulter, and organized a walk-out protest during her February 18th lecture. They then proceeded to Brower Student Center to hold a rally, where students spoke openly about their opinions of current events, and Coulter herself.

The lecture quickly became a large campus controversy, and predictably, the topic of “free speech” and what constitutes a “free speech” issue arose. Many defenders of Coulter’s visit invoked the First Amendment when arguing against the movement.

TCNJ alumnus S. Lee Whitesell made a statement in opposition to the student movement: “I am not exactly sure what hate speech means or why it would not be protected by the First Amendment,” [The Signal – Opinion piece, March 4th]. Many College Republicans and other Coulter supporters echoed this sentiment, deriding the campus left for only supporting freedom of speech when it suits liberal interests.

However, many believed that this argument was irrational and reflected a lack of knowledge regarding the first amendment, as the campus left did defend Coulter’s right to express herself — and had no plans to prevent the lecture from taking place. Instead, they countered what they viewed as hate speech with a more productive and tolerant discussion.

College Policy on Free Speech

Support Liberty on Campus: FIRE

The College of New Jersey

is violating your First Amendment right to

freedom of expression —

right now, even as you read this.

After Water Advisory, Rethink Bottled Water

During the recent boil water advisory, I cowered in fear of what mysterious death-inducing microbes might be lurking in the innocuously clear water flowing readily from my faucet. My housemates and I threw huge pots of water on the stove and hoped for the best. Using boiled water to drink, wash dishes, and brush my teeth was extremely inconvenient — but it made me think about people who do not have access to clean water (let alone a running faucet) as a fact of life. Water has been declared a human right by the United Nations, and yet over a billion people lack access to clean water. It is staggering that so many live without one of life’s most basic necessities. Americans easily forget that the municipal water system we so readily take for granted would be considered an unthinkable luxury for a large proportion of the globe. While we should be thankful for what we have, it seems callous not to make an effort in assisting those who are so dramatically less fortunate.

Americans spend around $10 billion on bottled water every year. We are paying for water in a form that is not only environmentally irresponsible but also unnecessary health-wise. In most communities in the United States, municipal tap water is of the same quality as bottled water. For those not convinced, buying a water filter will further purify their tap water. Drinking Water for India, a Lawrenceville-based, student-run nonprofit, builds wells in Indian villages for $1,000 each, serving some of the 200 million in the country who do not have access to clean water. If instead of spending $10 billion on redundant water we shared this disposable income with those who actually are in dire need of water access, 200 million Indians’ water needs would be met — using only a one hundredth of the money we spend unnecessarily on bottled water.

*Please visit or find a member of TCNJ’s Amnesty International, or Water Watch to donate the dollar you were about to spend on a bottle of water to someone in genuine need.


ATHEIST: Put Religion in Public Schools

The Pew Forum’s recent study detailing the abysmal religious literacy demonstrated by most Americans is disturbing, but not at all surprising. The smear campaign waged against Muslims over the past few months has been a painful reminder of how–especially in a country where gross ignorance of religion is the norm–opportunistic blowhards can easily manipulate matters of alleged supernatural significance. With vast majorities unable to correctly answer even the most basic questions about Islam, for example, is it any wonder that an innocuous Islamic center in Lower Manhattan could spur so much misinformation and hysteria?

A Safe Connection?

The time is 3 A.M., and you are stuck in front a glowing computer screen writing a last minute research paper. For the next few hours the Internet remains inoperable, and your nearly complete paper still lacks some very vital information that could be found nowhere else at that hour. Whether you are utilizing the research tools on Google Scholar or trying to de-stress on Facebook, the one thing you are probably using (or trying to avoid using) is the Internet.  Now imagine the possibility of the College’s network tumbling down amidst an ill-fated attack by some students’ virus-infected computer.

This was far from an uncommon occurrence in previous years at the College, but starting in the fall of 2009, the number of incidents slowly decreased. The reason, according to the College’s Information Technology department, is SafeConnect.

The security program started in 2008 as a trial run for residents of Eickhoff Hall and took effect campus-wide the following fall; some oppose the application and the shroud of secrecy surrounding its operation on campus, while most ignore it as a nuisance. Two years after its installation, what has SafeConnect done for us, and what might it be doing without our knowledge?

To many TCNJ students, SafeConnect appears as a log-in page when accessing the Internet from campus, and in the form of a “policy key” application upon arriving on campus to ensure your anti-virus software and operating system are up to date.

Many students on campus have complained about receiving faulty messages demanding that they download and install the Policy Key, despite already having done so.  “Half of the time I’ll log in and it’ll give me that message, and then three minutes and 50 refreshes later, it’ll tell me I’m behind a router or using a NAT device when I’m connected at the library via wireless and that I’m quarantined,” said Matthew Tom-Wolverton, a senior computer science major, who then concluded “and that’s when it works correctly.” This policy key is relatively innocuous, sitting in the background, ostensibly keeping an eye on the student to make sure they do not do anything TCNJ would not approve of.

When contacted to discuss the history and concerns surrounding the system, IT Security Manager for the College Alan Bowen declined to comment except to say, “The SafeConnect system provides electronic enforcement of the computing access agreement. The sophistication of network based attacks is increasing and by ensuring that our community meets a minimum standard of computer security everybody benefits.”

Class of 2010 computer science major, Rich Defrancisco, believes the goals of keeping campus virus-free and limiting file-sharing traffic are acceptable, but believes that the College is going about it in the wrong way. When asked what an acceptable alternative would be, he said, “Don’t make us run spyware on our own computers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with restricting our access in the closed community of campus, but I do think there is something wrong when the restrictions stop being on their hardware and start being on ours.”

Former TCNJ student Andrew Timmes had a much stronger reaction to SafeConnect’s perceived problems despite having graduated before the system was put into campus-wide use. In a public posting on Facebook, he said: “I’m highly opposed to the TCNJ-sanctioned spyware called SafeConnect. I understand that as students using a public service, we have to adhere to certain rules to utilize TCNJ’s infrastructure. I do not, however, agree with TCNJ’s method of enforcing said rules by infringing upon our privacy.”

Alan Bowen was contacted again to respond to these sentiments, but did not return emails.

So why do some students refer to SafeConnect as “spyware?”  Wikipedia defines spyware as “a type of malware that is installed on computers and collects little bits of information at a time about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user, and can be difficult to detect.”

SafeConnect does not hide its presence, but it never announces itself as an icon in the system tray or an entry in the computer’s programs list. Only an ambiguous description is available on the College’s IT security webpage, where the College freely admits that the software surreptitiously collects information from users: “[TCNJ] username, IP address, MAC address, and security profile of your machine gathered from the state of your anti-virus software, operating system update settings, and any peer to peer file sharing applications.” Any information gathered will not be transmitted off campus, they assure us, but it is stored on-site for an undefined period of time. To date, no one has been charged as a result of this information, but it is unclear what purpose this gathered information does serve.

Impulse Point, LLC., manufacturer of SafeConnect, describes it on their site as “a more secure, reliable, and predictable IT network infrastructure that is easy and cost-effective to deploy and maintain.” Anne Torgler, Marketing Manager for Impulse Point, confirmed the software system operator’s ability to view information on students’ computers with the Policy Key installed, adding “an organization may also build custom policies based on the existence or non-existence of file types, registry settings, services, and processes on individual endpoint devices.”  This essentially means that the College (our ‘system operator’  verifying file existence), can not only see exactly which programs are being run on our computers, but use this ability to identify and block any program or system configuration.

Despite the intentional vagueness from Bowen and lack of information on the College’s website, an employee of User Support Services who wishes to remain anonymous did comment on TCNJ’s SafeConnect capabilities, “SafeConnect has the ability to look at a list of processes, but they didn’t have it turned on until now.” File-sharing programs themselves are legal in the US, though they are often used to transmit copyrighted works —which is illegal. The College has made the decision to block entirely some prominent file-sharing technologies, such as Bittorrent, a popular method of distribution for updates to computer games, as well as for Linux, a free computer operating system, and infamously, DC++.

Torgler did specifically deny that SafeConnect has the ability to view web browser history or download history. The openness of Impulse Point’s staff came as a great surprise, as finding information from the various educational institutions implementing SafeConnect was difficult, although they did not explicitly decline to divulge any specific information as IT Manager of the College Alan Bowen did.

The ultimate goal of SafeConnect is admirable, but the College wields its position as a local monopoly of Internet service to enforce it. In an arena where multiple Internet Service Providers could compete, a provider using such invasive and secretive methods as the College is using on its residential students would most likely be forced out of business fast.

Unfortunately, residential students don’t have any easy alternatives to the Internet service that the College bundles with their tuition fee. While it is possible to get commercial broadband Internet access as a resident at the College, it is often more expensive and more complicated, and the College’s website is unclear whether or not it would even be possible to opt out of paying the Computer Access Fee.

The next time your computer wrongfully receives a frustrating quarantine message, or you are blocked from using an application that works perfectly fine at your home, you may recall that this is the price the College has deemed acceptable for a secure network on your behalf. What all residential students must decide is whether these incursions into their privacy are worth that security, and whether they trust the College to make that decision for them.

Recently, Impulse Point has announced a new version of SafeConnect that has improved support for mobile devices and video game systems.  Whether this means that those devices will now be required to install some version of the Policy Key required on Windows and Macintosh computers is not immediately clear.  It is also not clear if The College has already completed this update, or if it has any plans of doing so. The new update will also support an “emergency broadcast messaging” capability, and improves the ability of SafeConnect operators to manage and observe users’ information in real time.


LGBT Thoughts

Recently, news of Tyler Clementi’s suicide has pervaded most media. The circumstances surrounding his death, as well as his youth and promise, add to the tragedy of his unfortunate choice. We should mourn Tyler fully, use his story as a lesson, and perhaps, in the future, think before we act. It must be understood at the outset that this article is not intended to undermine this heartbreaking incident. However, the omnipresence of Tyler’s story is an opportune catalyst by which I may air a thought that has been on my mind for some time. It is simply this: gay men receive much more attention than gay women. Anyone who has friends or a computer knows about Tyler. But how many readers have heard about Carol and Laura Stutte?

The Stuttes are a lesbian couple from Vonore, TN, and their house burned down in early September 2010. An article detailing the incident appeared on, and stated that the couple believed the fire was arson – more precisely, a hate crime. This belief seems justified; the word “QUEERS” was spray-painted on their garage, and in August the couple had complained to the police of harassment from their neighbor. The article says the neighbor “threatened to kill them and burn down their house.” It was by sheer luck that no one was home that night; the couple had been too fearful to return to their property. There has been no follow-up story on the police investigation. More details on the story can be found on, but suffice it to say, this was a serious, intentional, and violent hate crime that went entirely unnoticed.

Photo by Bob Fowler/News Sentinel

To be sure I wasn’t the only person in the dark on the Stutte’s story, I typed their names into Google trends, which uses keywords to produce line graphs showing the history and frequency with which those words were searched on Google (or bar graphs showing which countries searched those terms the most, and in which languages.)  Now, allow me to give some perspective – if you type “cat banana” into the search bar, you get a fair amount of information; the first searches for “cat banana” start in late 2008 (a stressful year, I imagine) and then stop almost immediately. They do not appear again until early 2009, and those terms have been searched with relative frequency ever since – mostly within the Philippines. Type in “Tyler Clementi” to Google trends, and you will see a huge search spike in recent weeks. Type in “Carol Stutte” or “Laura Stutte” or “Carol and Laura Stutte,” and Google trends will tell you it has too little data to form a graph.

I’m happy for the attention that the LGBT community gets, no matter how it is skewed. Social change sometimes takes baby steps. However, I would hope that members within the community would take measures to rectify this obvious inequity. And then, perhaps in the future, no one will have to point out the obvious irony of unequal attention within a movement fighting for equal rights.


The Cold Lore

My fascination with Antarctica always struck me as a strange, random blip of an interest—something that I was drawn to for no apparent reason. I viewed it as a divergent fascination, separated from my other passions and pastimes — an isolated hobby of sorts that didn’t necessarily fit into the rest of my life; or, if I was feeling a bit new-agey, perhaps an inkling of a past, more adventurous life. Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s journals kept me up nights, a map of the barren white continent has remained taped to my wall for years now, and every few months I inevitably end up on various websites, researching future employment possibilities down South—real South.