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.

Split

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 DrinkingWaterforIndia.org 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.

BY ANYA SARETZKY

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.

BY MATT FLAMENBAUM

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 wate.com, 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 wate.com, 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.

BY SARAH STRYKER

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.

One Nation March

Fighting for What’s Right (and Against the Right)

There are not many opportunities in a lifetime when a person’s hope for humanity is restored. When trapped in a hailstorm of bigotry, hate speech, political and corporate greed, and bla- tant media lies, it becomes difficult to hope to be rescued from the quicksand. In a society willing to spend more on locking up the bodies of youths than on educating and opening minds, this generation is growing disillusioned with contemporary polity. It is easy to feel like a small, garbled voice lost in the furor of a bustling city and lose the motivation to fight back.

On October 2nd, tens of thousands of small voices turned into a voice greater than could be imagined (or, at the very least, greater than the voices of Glenn Beck’s rally!).

The One Nation Working Together march was a rally of thousands — of unions, organizations, and student groups —

marching to put America back to work, demanding good jobs, equal justice, and quality public education for all. Despite this main goal, the vision of the march was whatever the attend- ees made of it. Topics from LGBTQ rights to Palestinian lib- eration were displayed on the myriad signs of the marchers.

It’s never too late to stand up and fight the Right. With a voice as powerful as the one that bellowed on October 2nd, I don’t doubt that victory lies in our future. We come from all ethnic backgrounds, faiths or non-faiths, sexual orientations, gen- der identities, nationalities, races, immigration statuses and abilities; and we demand a society of equality — a society with liberty and justice for ALL, not some. Stand up now and fight for full equality — liberty and justice not for some, but for all.

BY NAT SOWINSKI

Homecoming: An Insider Perspective

An overwhelming depression accompanies the end of Homecoming. Members of Greek life prefer to attribute this phenomenon to the return to normal life; but let’s be real, everyone knows it’s the startling lack of alcohol in their system.

Homecoming is an escape; everyone involved in this week of debauchery and mayhem is simply reliving his or her childhood.

Music in 2010

First and foremost, 2010 is proving to be a big comeback year for hip-hop. Last year had its fair share of memorable singles, but ultimately failed to deliver in the album department. But hell, when even Rick Ross is putting out a critically acclaimed album (check out Teflon Don!) you know the genre must be enjoying good times.

Hip-Hop Revival

Leading the pack so far are a couple of old standbys: Eminem and Big Boi — and what isn’t there to say about Big Boi’s solo debut? Mathers’ intractable “Yo I’ve been through a lot but I’m still here” mantra doesn’t break new ground, but Recovery has been adept at recapturing the interest of old fans who had been let down by 2009’s Relapse. The OutKast MC’s Sir Lucious Left Foot, Son of Chico Dusty was more than a reworking of Speakerboxx/The Love Below; it was a revelation, a much-delayed, much-hyped product that managed to hold relevance away from its gaudy backstory once it saw the light of day.

This is neither the time nor place to carp that Antwan Patton’s “Shutterbug” has not been all over the radio, but no other genre-borrowing rapper makes quite the journey he does into outside realms before coming home to his Southern roots. Patton’s record has been handed stellar reviews from the likes of The Village Voice, Allmusic.com, and Spin. Finally, if you want to dig deeper into hip-hop’s long list of summer successes, pick up the debuts from Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs, EP STr8 Killa and its outstanding mixtape Str8 Killa No Filla, and K.R.I.T. Wuz Here from Atlanta MC Big K.R.I.T. [King Remembered in Time].

Irish Indie Love

If you’re an indie rock fan, chances are you maybe might have heard that there’s a new Arcade Fire record. And it’s kind of good. (It did debut at number one in the US, the UK, and Canada. And Ireland.) The Suburbs does hold up surprisingly well over a staggering sixteen tracks, whether or not it surpasses Funeral. The Montreal torchbearers tactfully refine their old standards rather than stumble through unnatural ones – featuring unabashed Springsteen worship on “Month of May,” unabashed emoting on “Sprawl II,” and plenty of “us against the world” lyrical themes.

While Arcade Fire further established themselves as an indie standard, Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells is the new buzz band that most penetrated the blogosphere. This male-female tandem of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss delivered with Treats, a collection of pop songs for the recession era — homemade or low-budget sounding but infectious and, well, noisy enough to cause a stir. On the singles front, of the summery buzz bands, Best Coast delivered with “Boyfriend,” and The Drums with “Let’s Go Surfing.”

Soulful Stunner

Perhaps the summer’s most genre-bending success was Janelle Monaé, a pop/R&B/everything-in-between singer based in Kansas City. On her debut, the 25-year-old Monae pulls innovation from eccentrics like M.I.A. at her creative peak (read: not Maya) blended with ’80s Prince. It may also prove to be the only album in history to feature Big Boi and Of Montreal.

On the pop front, the charts were predictably dominated by more genre-conglomerates and guest spots, with considerably less acumen. For instance, a perfectly good David Guetta single, “Getting Over You,” was strapped with a pair of dumbbells, LMFAO and Fergie, on its way to Top 40 success.  However, there were a few Top 40 highlights; “Mine” further proved Taylor Swift to be one cool lady, and “Misery” made it cool to like Maroon 5, however nonchalantly, to the point of not caring. On the topic of not caring, the two most played songs on Z100 appear to both involve Pitbull. Never mind, let’s gear up for fall.

BY CHRIS PAYNE

A Farewell To Arms

On a fortunate whim in the summer of 2009, I brainstormed with a few politically-minded associates about what a progressive newsmagazine at TCNJ might look like, and behold – The Perspective was born. I should admit, though, that at its earliest inception, the publication was to be far narrower in scope than what it represents today. Originally intended to cover only the overtly political, The Perspective is now understood to provide a more holistic – and fundamentally different – take on the college experience.

Factory Girl Talk

Think of Girl Talk—the stage name of mash-up mastermind Greg Gillis—as modern music’s Andy Warhol. Both are ardent recycle-ists: Warhol turned soup cans into Fine Art; Girl Talk turns other artists’ songs into his own. Both are willing to undermine an ideal of authenticity: Warhol would let people impersonate and even sign for him if he didn’t want to show up at a gallery; Girl Talk makes almost no original sounds of his own, yet he puts his name on his mash-up albums. But most importantly, both are firmly rooted Pop artists, and yet both consistently question what it means to be Pop.

Part of this means that both artists allow for multiple interpretations: some say Warhol was fully embracing low-brow Americana, like Brillo Boxes, while others say he was ridiculing it, using repetition to emphasize absurdity. Similarly, it’s easy to understand Girl Talk on many levels: is he celebrating all pop music, or is he juxtaposing lesser works with unimpeachable songs for implicit criticism?

But of course Girl Talk, like Warhol, is much more than a series of simple juxtapositions. Gillis has declined to offer any central or guiding theme in any of his work, except to say that he is a “pop music enthusiast.” Instead, each of his songs is not only original, but also unique in message. Some of his sampling is pure celebration of good pop music from many eras (as in “Smash Your Head,” the instant classic of Night Ripper, with Notorious BIG’s “Juicy” over Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”). This includes bringing yesterday’s hits to younger listeners, reminding older listeners of forgotten gems, and allowing everyone to relish in universally beloved hits. In fact, Gillis admits, “It’s important that you can recognize all the elements. The whole basis of the music is that people have these emotional attachments to these songs—whether they love it or hate it. Being able to manipulate that is a really easy way to connect with people.” *

Yet, in complete contrast, some of his songs are subliminally political, almost neutering chauvinist rappers by giving them “emasculating” backgrounds (as in Feed the Animals’ “No Pause,” in which Eminem’s club-sex rant is made silly in front of Yael Naim’s “New Soul”). Still other songs work in a different way, elevating the banal, crude, or more lowbrow in pop to the level of more critically hailed works, by giving them new background beats, or removing vocals, or repeating lyrical loops over and over. But all of his music does serve one mission: the exploration of new pop possibilities, by making music that amounts to much more than the sum of its parts.

What makes Girl Talk great, though, is expressed not in words in phrases, but in dance. With entirely sampled, diverse material, he has made cohesive albums that bring genres — and people — together. He makes commercial music cool, and he makes cool music commercial. Because his music is simultaneously so rhythmic and capricious, people who like “My Humps” and people who like The Band can find something to listen to and agree on, especially with crossovers like Jackson 5 rippling throughout.
*(From an interview with Pitchfork.com)

SELF HATING WHO?!

In last month’s edition of The Perspective, I published a blurb which praised the Obama administration’s recent firm stance on Israeli settlement expansion. I did not explicitly criticize the State of Israel – but merely suggested the Obama administration’s relatively nuanced stance on Israel could have positive ramifications in the pursuit of Middle East peace.

After reading the quarter-page blurb, a key figure in the Jewish campus community believed he had adequate evidence to state, “There’s nothing worse than a self-hating Jew.”

In response to those who would label Jewish supporters of Obama’s Israel policy as “self-hating,” I would like to call your attention to a recent Haaretz poll. The poll, released on April 13, found that 73% of American Jews agree with Obama’s policy towards Israel – characterizing relations between Israel and the U.S. as “positive” or “very positive.” Do three out of four American Jews hate themselves?

I will not delve into the multitude of reasons why this individuals’ snarky comment about me is absurd, but will instead use it as an opportunity to elaborate on the message of last month’s blurb. Pejoratives like “self-hating Jew” or “anti-Semite” are representative of the exact issue I wished to address in the article.

Until it is acknowledged that an individual can oppose an Israeli government policy—which happens to be illegal under international law—and not be anti-Semitic, no substantive progress can be made in peace processes in the Middle East.

The dialogue surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict is so crippled by taboo, it is impossible to hold any sort of meaningful discussion on the matter without being accused of either ignorance or hatred.

The blurb was intended to give credit to President Obama for not caving into the fear of being labeled an “anti-Semite” by some fringe hard-lined Zionists. I encourage others to follow suit, and not be afraid to stand openly against unjust Israeli policy.

Editor’s Note: Glenn Eisenberg is also known as Glenn Eisenblurb

Hippie House

I am seated cross-legged on a tapestry rug. There is a hole in my left sock. The hole serves as an escape route for my big toe. My big toe curls towards a discarded composition book with a bent cover. The book cover’s pho-marble surface catches the shadow of a hooka stem. The hooka stem snakes around a pensive circle of bodies. The bodies are wedges together in the cracks of a futon, a love seat that has seen better days, and two overstuffed arm chairs. Behind the furniture are four walls. The four walls carry art. Each art piece bleeds together at its respective edges, forming one overwhelming scene of rats, long-haired boys, trees, neon globs, and bears with halos.

The kaleidoscopic scene holds up the ceiling, which, at the moment, appears to be made of smoke.

This is not your typical college home. Nor is this your typical college gathering. Tonight I am a guest of the Hippie House, one of TCNJ’s little-known off campus residences. Members of the house are hosting one of their weekly get-togethers – a poetry reading. Etiquette is simple: come prepared to recite or listen. I plan on reading a passage from a book by Roland Barthes. Other selections on the itinerary include The Raw Shark Text, a journal entry entitled “Room 314” and an essay called “Good Noses.”

“Good Noses” is written by Philosophy major Steve Klett. Klett is one of the house’s current occupants. Klett moved into the house in August of 2008. Prior to August, Klett lived in the College’s dorms. When asked what prompted him to relocate, Klett states “I felt daft. I forget what that word means but it seems to fit. There comes a time in which the rooster needs to fly from the coop and the chick needs to leave the nest. I was, you know, looking for a room of my own, to quote Virginia Woolf.”

Klett occupies one bedroom. The remaining two tenants are Greg Letizia and Leandre Bourdot. Bourdot is a Fine Arts major. Her creations take up a large portion of the dwelling.
Presently, she sits in a corner, penning ink drawings for a bookmaking class. Bordot claims that becoming a part of the Hippie House has been both a hindrance and a source of stimulation for her work. Glancing around the tightly packed room, she confides, “There are mornings when everything together is inspiring and there are also mornings where everything plays off each other and becomes stagnant.”
As for Letizia, he has taken a leave of absence from the College.

Nevertheless, he remains an avid writer, often reciting typewriter compositions via a voice distortion box. Out of all of the occupants, Letizia is the most elusive of the bunch. I ask him what the credo of the house is. Maybe it is because of a recent screening of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” but as Letizia speaks, he begins to resemble the smug, jargon-littered Caterpillar. Steam issuing from his nostrils, blue-tinted glasses perched on his nose, Letizia muses, “The essence of the place is the essence of the place and the goal is the goal. It is a place for I to be I.”

The overall ambiguous quality of the Hippie House is perhaps what attracts students to it. The crowd that frequents social events like Poetry Night range anywhere from five to eighteen people. Stationed amidst these individuals, I feel mellow and in same measure, completely absurd. Snippets of conversations filter into my ears. On the surface, topics are similar to that of most young people. Visitors tonight talk about:
Books,
(“That is completely convoluted in its contingency.”)
partying too hard,
(“Hey, I think I left my crown at your house the other night.”)
and music.
(“Could you hand me that singing bowl?”)
However, as illustrated, if you listen closely, discrepancies appear.

Ken Kesey, leader of the Merry Pranksters, asserted that “you are either on the bus or off the bus.” By coming to the house, I am choosing to embark on the ride. I believe it is for worthy reasons too. Some partial cynics (me included) may claim that sixties youth counterculture is officially dead, dissipated by the absolution of the political and social issues of its heyday.

Still, within the house there exists a smaller, equally valid resistance against the sameness of suburban college life. No one wears TCNJ sweats and Uggs. Of course, it wouldn’t be a problem if you did. Apparel choices are never judged.

In fact, clothing itself is considered optional.

Breaking News: No Free Will!

Wednesday, International Union of Sociochemistry representative Daryl Wayne announced that free will is merely an illusion. The president of the renown organization urged the public to remain calm, adding that people need not panic if they find they cannot control their response to this scientific breakthrough.

“Thoughts,” Wayne declared at the annual conference,“are simply chemical reactions in our brains, and humans have been acting out a predetermined chain of sociochemical events since they first came to be.”

According to the New Jersey State Police, since Wednesday’s announcement, incidents of criminal activity and tomfoolery have sharply risen.

“I was just walking down the street, when a man approached me, tore off his pants, and began to jump up and down in a humping motion,” one anonymous woman informed The Perspective. Reports also indicate that the man was saying “unntz unntz unntz” as he harassed at least a dozen other Ewing citizens late Wednesday evening.

Witness Sarah Smith incredulously added that there was no camera crew. Neither Johnny Knoxville nor Bam Margera could be reached for comment.

Riots have also broken out on two different fronts.

One group of demonstrators has formed near the entrance of the International Union of Sociochemistry headquarters in Trenton touting WWJD gear and signs reading messages such as “Helaman 14:30,” “Free My Will,” and “Your Mom is Predetermined”; one participant’s sign read caustically, “Did You Predetermine This, Asshole?”

One woman, incensed by the implications this news has on the existence of a Judeo-Christian God, captured the crowd’s sentiments with a pointed question, “Without free will where does peoples’ accountability go? What does this mean for good and evil?”

The other party of protesters, described as donning tie-dyed shirts and smelling of marijuana, has begun peaceful protests in front of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Perspective reporter on the field has reported rally cries such as, “Hell no, we can’t go!” and “Together we stand; together we fight; we have no choice but to demand our rights!”

One young man at the rally told our correspondent, “I knew I wasn’t to blame for my unemployment and drug habits; if we don’t have control over our actions, we shouldn’t be forced to suffer from their consequences.”
Others at the gathering demanded that relatives or loved ones be set free from jail, reasoning that, without free will, the prisoners couldn’t be blamed for their actions—they were merely victims of circumstance.

When asked about how he planned to respond to the International Union of Sociochemistry’s statement, which effectively decreed all human behavior inculpable, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder maintained that law will continue to be enforced as usual; Holder cited his own lack of volition as reason for deciding so.

As of now, the fate of mankind is uncertain: with doubt cast upon the existence of God and peoples’ newfound immunity to blame, some are desperately grasping at the straws of morality, seeking out the few morsels left untouched by this pivotal discovery. Based on the current rate of society’s disintegration, some sociologists project that by late 2012, society as we know it will collapse upon itself.