The Brown Derbies head south for the winter

Singing on the beach!

SungYong Han and the Brown Derbies sing on a beach in Cancun.

No, this isn’t a photo from last summer’s vacation–it’s from a few weeks ago, when members of the Brown Derbies went to Cancun for ten days to sing a capella, practice for gigs and an upcoming album, and spend some time with sun and sand.

Derbies Matt Garza and Raghava Kamalesh caught up with BlogDailyHerald to tell us about their trip:

Some of our most fun gigs were at an International School (we had photo shoots after the concert for students to wear our Derbies!), impromptu singing on the beaches, at the Plaza Caracol Mall, and at this fancy shmancy Italian restaurant where some fans surprised us with dinner! We also rehearsed a ton to prep for our next recording session and the beginning of the semester’s events. On the fun side, we challenged everyone in our hotel to beach volleyball/water polo tournaments, lounged in the amazing weather, and went out to clubs like Senor Frogs and “Little Light Up Floor” (as we named it) in the hotel district! We also met up with one of the Derbies’ biggest fans–Jose Cuervo! When in Mexico…

Jealous yet? After the jump, small children in big hats! Plus, Matt and Raghava tell us more about their trip and what the group has planned for the future.
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Swordgate 2011

The Annmary Brown Memorial /

The Annmary Brown Memorial, even more historic in black-and-white

The Annmary Brown Memorial on Brown St., with its forbidding and usually-closed bronze doors, might be the most mysterious building on campus. Luckily, a Library website details what students would find there if they went in: portraiture, bodies, swords. Former Civil War General Rush C. Hawkins established the memorial in 1903 for his wife, a descendant of Brown’s namesake family. They were both buried there and have been more-or-less resting in peace for decades.

But now, the Hawkinses are part of another North/South feud. A sword presented to Hawkins (then a Colonel) for his service during the war disappeared from the memorial in the 1970s. Recently, Brown identified the sword as part of a collection at Lee Hall Mansion, now a Civil War museum in Newport News, Virginia, and sued last week for its return. A federal judge granted an injunction to prevent the collector currently in possession of the sword from selling it–a good sign that it’s coming back to Brown soon.   Continue Reading

Creepy or awesome? You decide.

Twilight bracelet

One of the many (and we do mean many) Twilight-related gift suggestions from Etsy's Facebook integration.

Not sure what to buy your friends and family for Christmas?

Etsy, a website where people can buy and sell handmade and vintage items (it’s sort of like eBay’s hipster cousin), has always been a great place to shop for gifts both unique and “unique.” This year, they’re trying to make the process even easier–by suggesting gifts for your friends based on their Facebook profiles. Right now it’s a little hit-or-miss. One friend who bikes a lot probably would like a new set of panniers, and Etsy helpfully pointed me to a number of cool shops for the bike enthusiast. For another friend who liked J. Crew, Etsy suggested everything from clothing to desk accessories tailored to her aesthetic sensibilities. However, I’m pretty sure that when my 19-year-old brother said he liked “House,” he wasn’t talking about a birdhouse…or a doll house…or a 50’s-style house dress.

And then there’s the difficulty of translating interests to tangible gifts. Yes, my cousin likes Katy Perry, but does that really mean she wants a custom-made cupcake bra?

Berkeley, je t’aime?

Why are French academics saying au revoir to the Sorbonne?

Rumblings within the French academic system are nothing new. Ditto prominent French intellectuals coming to the United States to teach.

But as a recent New York Times article discussed, academics now make up a disproportionate amount of French migrants to the United States, leaving France worrying about “brain drain.” Apparently shocked that anyone would ever want to leave a land known for valuing its intellectuals (not to mention the food), the NYT’s Room for Debate has helpfully surveyed scholars on both sides of the Atlantic, asking them about possible causes for the trend. Unsurprisingly, most point to money: American universities simply pay better (where do you think all that tuition goes, anyway?)

Still, the whole section is worth a read for some interesting musings about academic life in both countries, even if we’re still confused about what the author of French Women Don’t Get Fat is supposed to contribute to the discussion. Maybe she brought the champagne?

La. governor Jindal ’91.5 disses alma mater

In an interview on televangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, Jindal–formerly a PLME, currently the Republican governor of Louisiana and a potential 2012 presidential contender–criticized Brown’s political correctness and liberal bent. “I wasn’t the traditional Brown student,” Jindal told Robertson.

The good stuff starts at about 7:00, with anecdotes about how Jindal’s freshman RC criticized him for “opening doors for the ladies” and refusing to attend a “mandatory” orientation session (we have those?) on diversity.

Weirdly, Jindal doesn’t mention that he once liked Brown enough to be a trustee. We’re hoping his new book answers our burning questions about his time at Brown, like which part of his bio education at Brown convinced him that intelligent design counts as science and whether he ever tried to hold the door for Ruth Simmons.

Northeastern grad’s loan repayment plan? You.

Look familiar?

Kelli Space graduated from Northwestern in 2009 and landed a job on Wall Street, but even the money she saved by moving back in with her parents isn’t enough to offset the $1600 a month she’s slated to start paying Sallie Mae next fall. So she’s taking a leaf out of the Wall St. playbook and asking America to help her out by sending paypal donations to her website,

How did Space get herself into $200K worth of debt? She blames herself for choosing such an expensive school and for failing to apply for enough scholarships but also points a finger at the student loan industry as a whole, which has been criticized for encouraging students to take on too much debt. On her website, Space writes:

This website was about putting it out there that I made a mistake, letting people know the extent of the debt burden I’m under because of it — that I’m not the only one in this position — and asking for help if anyone was so inclined to give it. If not, absolutely fine. If this is what it took to address the issues of student loan practices, I’m happy to have helped get the dialogue going, as obviously I’m an extreme case.

Whatever its faults, Space’s strategy seems to be working. Since the HuffPo featured her site last week, Space has raised over $6,000.

Only $193,716.94 to go.