SPRING2016: Course Superlatives

Pre-registration is upon us once again. In case you haven’t even thought about pre-registering because it’s freaking November and who are you to think more than an hour in advance, here’s your warning: Seniors register at 8 a.m. Tuesday (tomorrow), juniors on Wednesday, sophomores on Thursday and first-years on Friday.

Whether you’re deciding between that upper-level CS class and an experimental literary arts class or an 8 a.m. Monday lecture and a Friday afternoon seminar, BlogDH is here to help. Just remember: the secret to a great schedule is selecting courses based on their name alone.

We present the Spring 2016 course superlatives:

Most…

…unsettling
AMST0912: Unsettled Things: Objects and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century America

…likely to have the best field trips
ARCH2744: Egyptian Art in New England Museums

…likely to have the most dangerous field trips
LITR1230: Latin American Death Trip

…optimistic
CLPS1720: Human Resilience

…pessimistic
PHP1680: Tobacco, Smoking, and the Evil Empire

…realistic
BIOL2350: The Biology of Aging

…ambitious
MUSC0221: Electroacoustic Improv Ensemble

…likely to bring out your inner child
PHYS0113: Squishy Physics

…reflective
MCM1700: Theory for Practice/Practice as Theory

…reflective, literally
ENGN1480: Metallic Materials

…likely to blow up Barus & Holley
PHYS1170: Introduction to Nuclear and High Energy Physics

…useful on a Saturday night
PHP1520: Emergency Medical Systems: An Anatomy of Critical Performance

practical for crossing Thayer St.
ENGL2901C: Pedestrian Theory: Walking, Working, Waking

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A Last-Minute Guide to Costumes: Brown Edition

You need a costume that’s low-budget. You need a costume that’s last-minute. And you need a costume that’s Brown-specific. Fear not: you can have your cake candy and eat it too. When it’s an hour before Monster Ball/RISD Ball/that MoChamp pregame and there’s nothing in sight but your half-finished lab report and that sky photo t-shirt, BlogDH has got you covered.

The Main Green

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You will need:

  • Green clothes
  • A frisbee
  • A picnic basket/tapestry/MacBook Air

Dress up in green clothes, stick a frisbee on your head, and carry something Main Green-related around for the night. Note: the Frisbee is essential. Otherwise you may be mistaken for Wriston/Simmons/Pembroke Green, which is not what you’re going for here.

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U.’ve got mail: An interview with the head of Mail Services

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Since arriving in September, you may have noticed that many things on Brown’s campus had changed from last year. Francesca’s on Thayer replaced what was once chainlink fences and crumbling cement, “Imagine Brown 250+” is gone, and, most notably, the mailroom has undergone a dramatic makeover. Elizabeth Gentry, Assistant Vice President of Business and Financial Services, sat down with BlogDH to discuss what happened, why it happened, and where to finally find that mailroom playlist.

Gentry first explains that most first-years don’t realize what the mail system was like last year. “We’ve long outgrown our space, especially during peak times, at the start of semester, especially the start of the year. So, we had two locations: the mailroom in J. Walter Wilson, and what used to be ‘The Gate.’ The system turned out to be very confusing for many students. It just wasn’t as efficient as it could be.”

Packages were delivered to either location based on which carrier (USPS, UPS, FedEx, to name a few) delivered them, but as Gentry points out, this system was always so simple. “UPS began this program called ‘The Last Mile,’ where UPS would deliver your package to, say, the US Post Office, which would bring it the rest of the way to us. So, to the student, the carrier is UPS, but to us, the carrier is USPS. It was confusing.”

Not to mention, package deliveries skyrocketed. “We began getting direct deliveries from Amazon,” Gentry notes. “They didn’t notify us beforehand, but one day we got five pallets [pictured below] full of shipments directly from the Amazon fulfillment center, because so many deliveries were coming straight to us. I’m talking pallets as tall as me, five of them. And they just kept coming.”

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YURT: Virtual Reality at 180 George

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Behind all of the ugly construction surrounding Barus and Holley, the 180 George building houses an unparalleled virtual reality system. Named for its shape, furbished with 69 projectors, and a pixel resolution equivalent to retinal display (the human eye could not perceive anything more detailed), the Yurt Ultimate Reality Theater opened in the summer of 2015. The field of virtual reality isn’t new to Brown; before we had this machine, there was the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE). Technology like the CAVE allowed scientists and artists alike to explore their fields with three dimensional visualizations. MRI scans became interactive for medical students, while poets experimented with words that literally jumped off the projector. In 2009, Brown decided it was time for an upgrade, involving a 360 degree display with interactive floors and ceilings.

In the spirit of educating campus about this exciting new feature, we hung out with Computer Science Professor David Laidlaw to talk about his brainchild, and the functions of high quality virtual reality. Before diving into the interview, you should know that Professor Laidlaw is a busy man. It took over two weeks to set up a time to see YURT, and right before our rendezvous, this texting exchange occurred:

david

It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Upon greeting me (after class, of course), his first question was, “what happened to your mustache?” Let it also be noted that I initially forgot to take my shoes off inside the machine and that every time Professor Laidlaw handed me a piece of equipment, static shocks reverberated in both our hands. Basically, the interview was electric. Jokes aside, it was time to get down to serious business. A.K.A. it was time to play 3D Minecraft, or as David affectionately called it, YURTCraft.

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Die-in protest: Native Americans at Brown pre-demonstration

At 2:00 p.m today, October 9th, students dressed in red and black gathered in front of Sayles Hall on the Main Green. They laid down on the concrete for 52 minutes and 30 seconds, with still bodies and resolute intentions. Their actions paid tribute to the 523 years of resistance in the Indigenous Peoples community of the Americas. Their silence resonated as passersby made their way to class, with strong wind being the only audible noise, occasionally disturbing the cardboard signs.

When asked for the statement, Sierra Edd ’18, one of the members of Native Americans at Brown said, “We, collectively as NAB, feel that the BDH had many chances to consider not including Monday and Tuesday’s columns in their paper. In including them, there were powerful and painful implications for many students. Their formal apology is not enough; we ask for structural changes and a preventive action in the future.”

The die-in protest was a pre-demonstration for the event scheduled for Monday, October 12th, which will be a celebration of Indigenous Peoples, in the hopes that Brown renames Fall Weekend. Below is a visual record of the event:

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