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Rhode Island once again has a Christmas tree

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‘Tis the season for overly dramatic and arboreal scuffles.

In response to last year’s flak regarding renaming the 17-foot evergreen in the State House a “Holiday Tree,” Rhode Island’s Governor Chafee ’75 P’14 P’17 has restored the Christmas tree title in a statement issued on Monday.

Rhode Island of all places is a peculiar site for a debate over public religious tokens, considering the Rhode Island Charter of 1663 was the first legal document in the world that completely decoupled church and state in favor of toleration, according to historian J. Stanley Lemons.

However, unsurprisingly, much of the hubbub last year surrounding the name “Holiday Tree” came from none other than Papa Bear Bill O’Reilly. In classic Factor fashion, he sent Jesse Watters up to Providence to ask Brown students for their take on the issue. Watters aired a segment portraying Brown students as the only population in the state that preferred the holiday tree over a Christmas tree, saying that all people he spoke to in Providence preferred the traditional name “except if you go to Brown University.” Continue Reading


Janet Yellen ’67 nominated as next Fed chair

Barack Obama, Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke

This afternoon, President Obama nominated Janet Yellen to be the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve. Indeed, you probably already heard–this is big news in its own right. Yellen (if her nomination is approved) would be the first Fed chairwoman, and her appointment marks the end of Ben Bernanke’s eight-year tenure. What you probably haven’t heard is that Yellen is a member of the Brown University class of 1967.

The nature of our school could probably point you towards a few of her political beliefs–she’s a Democrat, and thus a proponent of a strong Fed stimulus program. After leaving Brown with a degree in economics, she headed to Yale to get her Ph.D. in–you’ll never guess–economics. Her extremely successful career in education and government reached new heights when President Obama nominated her as Vice Chairwoman of the Fed.

This Wednesday, the big promotion finally came. Brown should be proud to have such an accomplished, intelligent woman in our ranks. Here’s to hoping her appointment goes smoothly. Once she’s in office, she’ll need all the luck she can get.

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BruNews Weekly Round-up: September 29

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Rhode Island killing it: The University of Alabama has released a map revealing the statistically worst things about every state. Rhode Island came in first for the highest rate of illicit drug use, with around 12.5 percent of the population using. Just another fact to add to one of the strangest states in the country. Check out your home state’s fact at Policy Mic.

Too cool to miss: Scientists at Harvard and MIT have successfully created “photonic molecules,” a phenomenon that occurs when photons bind together into a solid state. The coolest part: these molecules could potentially be used to make light sabers. Light sabers. Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin stated “It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to light sabers. When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.” Maybe they’ll use real light sabers for Star War VII. Just maybe (International Business Times). Continue Reading


In case you missed it: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on The Colbert Report

Last night, our very own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was on The Colbert Report to promote his new book, “On Virtues: Quotations and Insights to Live a Full, Honorable, and Truly American Life.” Think burn book, except full of inspiring quotes that make you feel all warm and fuzzy and American on the inside. When asked what makes him qualified to amass America’s virtues in quotes, Senator Whitehouse said,

Washington right now is a little short on some of the virtues— and I’m not even the senior senator from RI— but I want to do what I can to try to push a different debate into the discussion, and to look back and see what people have said and done at some of the most important times in history, things that capture a particular piece of the human spirit. I think that adds a little bit of value.

It’s nice to know there’s someone on the Hill that still has an ounce of hope in America.


Lessons in the ‘Girls’ Lexicon: “Republican”

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This author has chosen to remain anonymous. This individual does not want you to accuse him/her of not reading your work because he/she is too busy reading Republican Quarterly.”

Republican (n.): A gun-loving, rights-hating individual who is ultimately undateable.

How it’s used in the show: Hannah dates a Republican named Sandy, and later breaks up with him because their “political beliefs are just a little too different.”

We assume (correctly) that the main characters on Girls are left-leaning individuals. Maybe it’s because they live in Brooklyn and graduated from Oberlin (well, most of them did). Most likely, however, it’s because we’ve come to believe that millennials, by default, all adhere to a certain set of liberal beliefs.

As college students at Brown, we tend to take these beliefs for granted. It’s not that we don’t appreciate them— but they’ve become commonplace, and are therefore accepted as the norm. The same goes for the characters on Girls: the ease with which they talk about sex and sexuality reflects their left-leaning political preferences, and whom they vote for. This openness is why many find the show appealing. However, up until this episode, there has been no contesting force that challenges the characters’ values, nor any person or idea that deviates from their widely accepted political norms. Once it’s discovered that a Republican (gasp) lives among the show’s liberal cast members, they are forced to articulate their stances on certain issues and underscore just how different they are from their right-leaning antithesis. Continue Reading


No way is this accurate. It's too cold in New England to be outside.

T-Day Tactics: Family Wars

No way is this accurate. It’s too cold in New England to be outside.

Some people I know go home to sad, small Thanksgivings, with just their immediate family and pet guinea pig. Others sit alone in the Blue Room with a cold turkey sandwich.

Those people are incredibly lucky. My family is the equivalent of a swarm of locusts, descending upon my small home in Virginia to parasitically consume all our food. We always have 20+ family members populating our home on Thanksgiving, eating and talking and arguing. When your family grows so large they form their own gravitational field, there’s bound to be inter-familial strife.

And no one knows this better than me. My family comes from all walks of White America, from yuppies to military brats to country hicks and hipsters. We have Christians and Buddhists, Hindus and atheists. My family has grown so large that my grandmother has a great-great grandchild. That’s my second cousin twice removed. I’m still not sure what the difference is between “removed” and “second” cousin, so I just threw them both in there for good measure. In short, my family’s insane. 

So I’ve developed some helpful tactics for dealing with them:

Continue Reading