What we’re reading

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This past week, President Obama addressed the buzz about the Ebola virus in his weekly address entitled “What You Need to Know about Ebola” by saying that, “we can’t give in to hysteria or fear.” In the past few weeks, we’ve heard arguments for travel bans and other actions seeking to curb the spread of this virus to the United States. In Nate Silver’s “Why An Ebola Flight Ban Wouldn’t Work,” he maps out what a flight ban to West Africa would look like and why it would be ineffective.

On the topic of public health, have you ever thought about public wifi being a public health hazard? According to Mauritis Martijn, we might want to be more cautious when using a public Wi-Fi server. If you’re curious how a hacker can learn intimate details about strangers using public wifi or, like us, are terrified by the prospect of having some stranger looking at the last five things you googled, give “What we give away when we log on to a public Wi-Fi network” a read.

Another way to take care of yourself is to learn some serious hangover cures from some of the most famous heavy drinkers. Did you know that Zelda Fitzgerald’s hangover cure was to go for a morning swim? Or that Brenda Frazier would take a bottle of Coca-Cola, shake it, and then mix it with cold milk?

In education, two particular articles generated a great deal of discussion this week. The first being David Edwards’ “American Schools Are Training Kids for A World That Doesn’t Exist” which discusses what Edwards feels must change in our education system. He argues that we will have to shift from teaching students to “learn and then do” to a different framework that stresses discovery and adapting to an ever-changing world.

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PollerBears: What is acceptable at Brown?

I’ve gotten lots of shit for sitting alone in a Blue Room booth. I think it’s perfectly acceptableI got here first, suck it upand obviously others think the same because they do this as well. But some people find my behavior abhorrent. There are many other important issues that divide Brown’s campus, but we don’t have community forums in which to debate them. I wanted to bring these issues to the Brown community, and finally determine what is truly acceptable and what is not. Where is it unacceptable to get food delivered? What is acceptable to wear in class? Make your voice heard!

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Wearing holiday sweaters in October

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Replying 'Maybe' to a Facebook event

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Recommended Reading: The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

The most common feature of life at Brown is all of the wonderful free time students have. Now, what to do with all of it? Ha, ha. Ha. Okay, we’re obviously all up to our necks in work, but if any of you are like me, you’re apt to spend some of your precious sober leisure time with a good book. Recommended Reading is a biweekly column in which I’ll tell you what I think is worth reading. If you don’t have the time to sit down and read Moby Dick (you should try to find time, though; it’s great)don’t worry. The content will include poetry, comics, short stories, and perhaps the occasional essay. If you think I’m a hack and all of my opinions are shallow and boring, feel free to hate-read.

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Raymond Chandler’s name is synonymous with the pulp detective genre. Since my experiences with Chandler prior to reading The Big Sleep began and ended with the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski (a very loose comedic retelling of the novel), I really had no idea what to expect when starting the book. I’d recommend beginning with an open mind. The Big Sleep has some rougher edges, but it goes down smooth as a whole. It has an engaging plot, and Chandler creates an entertaining narrator in Philip Marlowe.

The novel follows Marlowe, a private detective, as he works in the service of a wealthy old man named Sternwood, who is being blackmailed. As Marlowe unravels the blackmail plot, he discovers more and more about the seedy criminal underbelly of the city, and how it relates to Sternwood’s two daughters, Carmen and Vivian. One solved mystery leads only to more questions as Marlowe soon finds himself caught up in a case of several murders that leads him to a confrontation with a cold-blooded hitman. The plot moves briskly in The Big Sleep, and Marlowe isn’t the type of character to spend time navel-gazing. His gruff manner and piercing insights are exactly what you’d expect from a pulp novel detective, and they lead to several gleefully sharp-tongued exchanges with other characters. Continue Reading


A guide to fall running in PVD

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While running can be exhausting, awful, and pretty much the worst thing ever, running in the fall sucks a little bit less. Something about the transforming foliage, sidewalks and trails carpeted with fallen leaves, and cool, crisp weather (at least for now) makes running slightly more bearable. Make the most of your fall run, and stay safe, with these 5 tips:

1. Run where it’s fun

While I normally try not to encourage any sort of escapade into nature (because of dirt, bugs, general discomfort, etc.), the autumnal world is slightly more spectacular. Capitalize on the stunning scenery by running on some of Providence’s beautiful routes. Here are some suggestions:

Prospect Terrace Park and Benefit Street (2.5 miles): Located a couple blocks west from Pembroke, Prospect Park has some stunning views of downtown Providence. For a quick 2.5 mile route, run to the park from campus to stop and stretch, and then go a block down the hill to Benefit St. Lined with trees, historical Benefit St. looks beautiful in the fall, with its colonial houses and churches. Run south down Benefit towards Wickenden St. and then turn around and finish the run along the river. If you’d like, tack on miles by crossing the river and running downtown. Check out a sample route here.

India Point Park (3.10 miles/5k): Work India Point Park into your run to check out how the park’s views of the water look in the fall. For a 5k loop, starting at Faunce, go east on Waterman, turn south on Hope, and run until you hit the park. Run on the trails at the park, and then loop back. Suggested route here.

Blackstone Boulevard (5.5 miles): Part of the Blackstone Parks Conservancy, Blackstone Boulevard is a 1.6 mile, 100-foot wide median between two roads, stretching north towards Lippitt Memorial Park. Flanking the median’s pathway are over 300 trees and shrubs, which look beautiful with their changing colors. For a 5.5 mile out-and-back route, start from the SciLi, run north on Brook towards the Athletic Complex, turn east onto Lloyd, and run until you hit the Boulevard. Run north to Lippitt Memorial Park and back. Sample route here.

For more route ideas, check out mapmyrun.com, walkjogrun.net, and USATF.org.

2. Layer up

Until PVD weather makes its final descent into bitter, bitter cold, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. Adjust for this by wearing light layers that you can peel off or put on if the temperature shifts during your run. As it starts to get colder in November, make sure to throw on some extra layers — long-sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, and running tights — to bundle up. Alternatively, run naked. Embrace the cold. You do you.

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Ass-less chaps and timeless wisdom at Cinebrasil

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Cinebrasil is part of the Watson Institute’s Brazil Initiative

I went to Cinebrasil, Brown’s annual Brazilian film series, to enrich my understanding of foreign cultures and score participation points for my Intro to Portuguese class. The film they showed was Tatougem (translated to English, “tattoo”), a drama that follows a LGBTQ theater group called The Star Spangled Floor. The film is set in the 1970′s when Brazil was ruled under a military dictatorship.

Before the movie, a professor from the Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Department told the crowd that Brown has the largest collection of Brazilian films in the U.S. (woot woot). The professor then promised that the film would be a “steamy story of chaos and liberation.” As the lights dimmed, I made a baldfaced grab for the armrest before the guy sitting next to me could get to it. Boom. Ready to go.

I’m not going to summarize the plot for you, because Wikipedia can do that a lot better than I can. I’m just going to share with you some interesting aspects of the film.

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“Resorting to sensuality, they did get some laughs.” —A newspaper quoted in the film, referring to the Star Spangled Floor (above)

If you want to see the sun and the moon get in a fight, watch Tatouagem. Towards the end of the film, two performers in the Star Spangled Floor—one painted silver like the moon, the other golden like the sun—start going at each other during a performance. Sun disses the moon for not being radiant, but Moon counters that he does not need to be because he just reflects the light of the sun. Sun then insults Moon’s ugly craters. Moon counters with, “Yeah, well at least I don’t have all of your disgusting eruptions!” That just about settles it.

In my beginners’ Portuguese class I’ve learned to say things like, “Hello! After breakfast in the morning I generally ride my bicycle rapidly to Portuguese class, but it’s Wednesday so the chalk is not joyful, no.” Unfortunately, the characters in the film rarely discussed their post-breakfast transportation habits or the disposition of writing implements, so I had to rely mostly on the subtitles.

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Super Smash Brown, Part 2

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One installment just isn’t enough to cover all of the concentrations and characters between Brown and Smash Bros. So, without further ado, let’s see what character suits your concentration.

Link: Business

Link is a character from the tried and true Legend of Zelda series, and mirrors the idea of business school as a safe bet. He’s a jack of all trades, with access to a sword, shield, bow, bombs, and boomerang. Whatever the situation, whether in the business world or the heat of battle, you’re confident that you have the tools to pull through. The odd thing about Link is that he never speaks. He’s occasionally expressive, but in most Zelda games he isn’t much of a character. Business school is useful, but you won’t fool anyone into thinking it’s interesting.

Psychology: Jigglypuff

This might seem like an odd connection, but it has everything to do with how Jigglypuff plays as a character. As a psychology major, your studies have granted you an understanding of the intricate workings of the human mind. Playing well with Jigglypuff is all about mind games, faking people out until you can land Rest, one of the strongest moves in the game. You and Jigglypuff may feign innocence, but we know better. You’re dissecting our minds, and indexing weak points. Diabolical, the pair of you.

Religious Studies: Pit/Dark Pit

These two angelic characters are a natural fit for religious studies, wielding divinely empowered weapons and soaring, winged, above the competition. Your choice between the two comes down to how you feel about religion as a whole. If you believe it benefits the human endeavor, the forthright Pit is for you. If you’re cynical about the value of religion in present-day society, or even about its value in the past, the twisted clone Dark Pit would suit you better. You might respond, “That’s a false dichotomy.” Well, there’s no Gray Pit, so you’ll just have to suck it up.

Physics: Rosalina and Luma

Physics is the study of the forces that hold our universe together. Rosalina and Luma, wielding the power of the stars themselves, are a natural fit for your concentration. The complexity of maneuvering two characters at once doesn’t faze you due to your experience with hellishly complicated equations. (Writer’s note: At this point, I couldn’t remember if Rosalina had feet or not, so I made the naive error of Google Image searching “Rosalina feet,” on a public computer, no less. You don’t have to make my mistakes. You don’t have to see what I’ve seen.) However, if the complexity gets to be too much for you, you can always default to flinging star bit projectiles at people. Buttons other than “B” are needlessly complicating the Smash experience, so we’ll just think of them as friction and forget about them.

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