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I am Loki. I am that gum you swallowed four years ago that still hasn’t been completely digested. Even though that may be an urban legend, I am not. I am that gum. I sit in your stomach, getting an inside look at your entire life. Don’t question me or I’ll make you constipated when you try to flush me out.
Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)
Eat one old piece of Halloween candy for every time you’ve been heartbroken. If you puke, then you will find love this week. If you don’t, Loki will metaphorically tear you heart out, you lucky little ducky.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)
You will befriend the campus dog. And by dog, I mean the fat squirrel that is still running around campus. And by befriend I mean devour because you live in Hilleboe and don’t want to trek all the way to the Caf in this weather.
Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)
You will attempt to grow a mustache for Movember, but will quickly be apprehended by Pub Safe once you take two steps outside of your door because you’re holding a bag of leftover Halloween candy and look like a pervy gremlin with that patchy lip rug.
Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)
You will start playing Christmas music this week but will stop once the Halloween Ole the Lion slaps you with a F in your easiest class for taking attention away from him. Oh, you didn’t read “’Twas the Night Before Halloween” in the issue from a few weeks ago? Loki suggests you read the Variety section every week or Loki will slap you with more than a F.
Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20)
You will wish for more snow. Loki does not like snow, so Loki will make you audibly fart in class. Conversely, you will resent the snow once it arrives. Loki doesn’t like people who don’t appreciate what life brings their way, so Loki will make you sweat profusely in class. Seems like a lose-lose to Loki.
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
You will fail to get into two of the classes you want for next semester. You will then wake up from that nightmare to realize you’re a second semester senior who can’t get into three of the classes you want for next semester. Happy registration!
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
You’ve been harboring Caf mugs. Loki knows. Now, return the mugs and make a few nifty holiday cups with the newly fallen snow as replacements. If you don’t, Loki will make snow mugs for you and then proceed to force you to eat sixteen of them, you cold-hearted monster.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
You will download Yik Yak to see what all the hype is about. If you’re a first year, you’ll undoubtly revel in the anonomous fun. If you’re older than that, you will read the Yaks and then yak all over a yak. Don’t own a yak? Buy one. Trust Loki, it’s worth it to make a point.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
This week you will put snow down your pants in order to calm the literal fire that started when you saw your crush.
Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22)
Praise a Pause Pizza. Set it on a pedestal and praise it. If someone tells you to stop, look them in their eyes and say “pause…pizza time” and then MC Hammer dance away.
Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22)
Only partially read your emails this week. If you only partially read this horoscope, Pub Safe now has the right to come into your room and blare “Friday,” by Rebecca Black, on a Tuesday, in order to wake you up. Also Pause Dances will now be held in the neverending rabbit hole located in Carleton’s arboretum.
Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22)
Smile at Nick Stumo-Langer ’15 the next time you see him or else you will turn to stone.
The St. Olaf men’s hockey team took on University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in a two-game series on Nov. 7-8 at the Northfield Ice Arena. St. Olaf was looking to win its first game of the 2014-15 season, following back-to-back losses against Bethel University and Gustavus Adolphus College in pre-season exhibition contests. Despite the Blugolds overcoming the Oles 3-0 in the first contest, St. Olaf managed to reverse its fortunes in the second, recording a 3-2 victory.
In the first encounter on Nov. 7, the Oles fought strongly in the first period, as neither team managed to open up its scoring accounts.
However, the Blugolds took a 1-0 advantage 13 minutes into the second period when Adam Knochenmus ’17 beat goaltender Steve Papciak ’15. The Blugolds scored again just six minutes later to further the lead, which left the Oles trailing 0-2 going into the final period.
Ethan Nauman ’16 gave Eau Claire a 3-0 lead when he scored ten minutes into the final period. It was the final goal of the game, with the Blugolds winning 3-0. St. Olaf held a 34-32 edge in shots on goal, but were unable to get anything past Blugolds’ goaltender Tyler Green ’16.
The second contest on Nov. 8 gave the Oles an immediate opportunity to seek revenge against the Blugolds. St. Olaf scored thirteen minutes into the first period when Brian Hickey ’15 scored a fantastic unassisted goal.
Eau Claire tied the game in the second period; however, Mike Erickson ’16 quickly responded for the Oles, scoring to put St. Olaf up 2-1. The Blugolds once again drew level in the final period on the back of an Elliot Grauer ’17 goal.
With just six minutes remaining, Steven Sherman ’17 scored the game-winner for St. Olaf, giving the Oles a much needed victory. Goaltender Papciak was strong for St. Olaf, making 48 saves in the 3-2 win. The Blugolds outshot the Oles 50-33.
St. Olaf returns to Northfield Ice Arena on Nov. 14 for a MIAC clash with Saint John’s University. Last time the two teams met, it was the Johnnies who were victorious, defeating the Oles 7-4. The game is important to both sides, as it is the first official conference game for each team.
Photo Credit: ANDREW WILDER/MANITOU MESSENGER
Nov. 5 – Nov. 11 marked National French Week. Following French-themed dinner choices in the Caf on Wednesday, the festivities continued with a faculty panel titled “Paris: Secrets of the City” on Thursday, Nov. 6. Students and faculty alike crammed into Buntrock 225 to hear four faculty members discuss their research on various writers who have challenged notions of personal and geographic identity centered around France’s capital.
The talk began with Jolene Barjasteh, Associate Professor of French, reading her research paper “Julian Green’s Paris: Secrets, Confessions and Discovery.” Born in Paris to American parents, Green grew up in a strict Protestant household. As a result, both religion and his homosexuality made frequent appearances in his work. While Green published dozens of books over his lifetime, Professor Barjasteh focuses on one of his most well-known. Paris, a travel memoir of sorts, details the author’s visits to various monuments, streets and public places in the city. Like all the panelists, Barjasteh spoke in English but provided French quotes from Green’s texts, which were often preceded with light grammar jokes.
“Paris is not just the place where Julian spent his formative years, but also part of his body,” Barjasteh said.
Barjasteh’s paper concluded that Paris, for Green, was an area of reflection and self-discovery where the mystic and the sensual converged. A recurring term in Barjasteh’s talk was “flaner,” a French verb that translates to stroll, or walk aimlessly. Such was Julian Green’s approach while writing Paris, where he described the areas he visited with wonder and affection.
Registrar and Professor of French Mary Cisar continued the panel with her focus on French-Canadian writer Gabrielle Roy. Cisar began the talk by introducing the concept of “depaysement.”
“If you take that word apart, it literally means uncountried … Roy references her struggle as a cultural and linguistic minority,” Cisar said.
From 1605 to 1710, regions of eastern Canada made up Acadia, a colony of New France. While the British would come to permanently take over, a Francophone presence remains in Canada to this day. As a writer, Roy led a life of many different adventures; Cisar chose to focus on Roy’s stint in Paris, where even as a French speaker she was linguistically (Canadian French is markedly different from the French spoken in France), geographically and socially disoriented. In her autobiography, Roy addresses Paris’ effect on her rather than the city itself. Roy ultimately left Paris for England after realizing that her linguistic identity could not be fully determined in France.
Assistant Professor of French Lise Hoy’s talk brought the audience to the 21st century United States with “The City as a Myth: Adam Gopnik’s Paris.” Adam Gopnik is a New York Times writer known for Paris to the Moon, a book of essays chronicling daily life in Paris for him and his family, who lived there for five years. Gopnik’s work on Paris often references French thinker Roland Barthes and his conception of mythology. Hoy tackled Gopnik’s deconstruction of Barthes’s myth as it relates to our perceptions of Paris.
Hoy paid particular attention to the city’s monuments and structures as tools of mythification. From his American perspective, Gopnik drew upon the realization that Paris had become mythical both in reality as well as in our imaginations. Much of the city’s distinct architecture was erected in the 19th century under the watchful eye of Georges-Eugène Haussmann, appointed by Napoleon III in 1853 to oversee a series of major public works projects, both for the sake of beautifying the city and accommodating its growing population. Nearly two centuries later President François Miiterrand would announce the expansion and renovation of France’s national library, also located in Paris.
In comparing the two, Hoy said, quoting Gopnik, “‘Haussmann’s Paris is a materialized dream.’ Mitterrand’s Paris however, was not as impressive.” Gopnik, like Green, also took an intimate perspective on travel writing and examining the identity of the city.
Assisstant Professor of French Maria Vendetti finished the panel with “Georges Perec: Exhausting the Everyday, Rewriting Paris.” Perec was a member of the Oulipo movement, founded by a group of French-speaking writers who wrote within certain constraints; Perec, for example, had written an entire novel without using the letter “e.” Vendetti primarily focused on two of his works, Tentative d’un Epuisement d’un lieu Parisien and La Vie mode d’emploi (translated to An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris and Life A User’s Manual). In the first work, Perec wrote down everything he saw sitting at a cafe near Saint Sulpice church in the heart of the city. His observations were jotted in simple list form and were at times mundane. His point? To record “what’s happening when nothing is happening,” or “ce qui se passe quand il ne rien se passe.”
Four writers from various backgrounds, Green, Roy, Gopnik and Perec captured some of the beauty, contradiction and complexity that is Paris. St. Olaf College’s French department is fortunate to have faculty members willing to share those insights with the rest of the campus, fulfilling the college’s mission of providing a global perspective to its students.
In sports, it is typical for teammates to encourage one another in competition. It is less common, however, for the same interaction to occur between individuals from opposing schools. But that is just what happened at this year’s MIAC Cross Country Championships.
A Salon news article claims the existence of a condition called Religious Trauma Syndrome, which is characterized by feelings of isolation, fear and self-loathing caused by a person’s religious beliefs. This new term was coined by Marlene Winell to name a set of symptoms some people experienced after exposure to a toxic religious environment or the trauma of leaving a religion. The teachings of conservative sects of Christianity such as Evangelicals and Mormons are supposedly the origin of Religious Trauma Syndrome. Is it possible that a person’s religious beliefs can be detrimental to his or her mental health? The answer, apparently, is yes.
Certain behaviors and thought processes can have a negative effect on our well-being. For example, it is often said that complaining is addictive. The human brain falls into cycles of negativity that have a detrimental affect on our view on the world. If someone complains all of the time, that person is failing to see the good things that are surrounding him or her.
These cycles of thought are also present when one is practicing a specific religion. When one is at church, a youth group or any other sort of religious gathering one discusses the issues, but is often told how and what to think.
Many conservative sects of Christianity have very strict views of the world. They have strong moral guidelines that they have their members follow. Some of the practices can have harmful effects on those participating. There is also a strong hierarchy in these types of denominations that can give children a non-progressive view of the world. Many teach in such a way that places God over men, and men superior to women and children. This sense of subordination for women and children can hinder self-image and cause feelings of helplessness.
Some conservative sects promote separatism in order to maintain spiritual purity. Some Evangelical Christians warn against developing relationships with non-believers. This makes their worlds very small and teaches unquestioning obedience rather than curiosity and exploration.
I discussed negativity as a psychologically detrimental habit. Fear ranks with negativity in causing cycles of psychological discomfort. Extremely conservative Christians fear sin, hell and a looming apocalypse. Since their religion is the only alternative to these terrors, any sort of threat to the group – such as criticism or scientific findings – becomes fearful as well.
Children are the main subjects of concern when it comes to mental health after indoctrination. Children’s minds are highly susceptible to religious ideas and, as a result, many religious groups target young kids. Much of the brain’s growth and development happens after birth, which means that children are vulnerable to influences from others at a young age. Before age seven, children are unable to think abstractly. As a result, they often believe everything they are told to.
Though this condition is related to other kinds of chronic trauma, it is more mind-twisting. The logic of religion is circular and blames victims for their problems with the religious group. Religious Trauma Syndrome is especially hard to recognize for two reasons. First of all, the nature of trauma by definition is not as obvious as a physical beating. Second, trauma is veiled by the respectability of the religion itself.
I am a firm supporter of religious freedom and the idea that all have the right to teach and practice any religious doctrines they so desire. However, from a mental health standpoint, there are certain lifestyles that are more healthful than others. Just as there are harmful effects of any negative thought cycle, there are obvious repercussions to some extremely conservative Christian doctrines.
Sydney Padula ’17 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Barrington, Ill. She majors in English and History.
St. Olaf College student Emily Butka ’18 is the second author of a research article published this fall by Scientific Reports, an online scientific journal from the publishers of Nature.
The article details the findings of a University of Missouri–St. Louis research lab that Butka worked in as member of the 2013 Students and Teachers As Research Scientists (STARS) program.
As a STARS participant, Butka spent six weeks of summer 2013 conducting research alongside a mentor at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. The research focused on measuring the number of triacylglycerols (the main components of fats and oils) in soybean seeds.
“One of my jobs was to prepare [soybean seed] samples — I did a lot of mortar and pestling that summer,” says Butka.
This past summer, Butka worked in the same research lab at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, but on a different project.
“It involved growing a lot of plants in petri dishes,” Butka says.
A college committed to research
In her college search, Butka looked for schools where she could continue to gain hands-on experience in biology.
“One of the reasons I picked St. Olaf is that undergrads can do research,” she says.
St. Olaf is committed to providing students with undergraduate research opportunities. In addition to the college’s own Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry program, the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and even the National Institute of Justice support research at the college.
Butka recently joined the lab of St. Olaf Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Charles Umbanhowar Jr., whose research involves using lake sediment samples to determine the environmental history of an area.
Butka is excited about her first scientific publication, and hopes to someday conduct plant research of her own.
“STARS was an exciting opportunity,” Butka says. “It was a great experience to watch the process of submitting a scientific paper for peer review.”
Carleton College defensive specialist Camille Benson was tabbed as an All-Region Honorable Mention selection by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), it was announced Thursday. She becomes the second Knight selected for all-region recognition since 2007.
For the eighth season in a row, the Carleton College men’s soccer program had at least three players voted by conference coaches to the All-MIAC team. This time around, senior forward Jordy Cammarota and junior midfielder Sam Hayward were named to the all-conference squad for the first time while junior forward Branden McGarrity became the fourth player in program history to earn a trio of All-MIAC first-team selections. Additionally, sophomore defender Riley Phelps was voted All-MIAC Honorable Mention.
Five members of the Carleton College women’s soccer team received recognition as the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) handed out its all-conference awards. That figure is tied for most in the MIAC. Junior goalkeeper Mikayla Coulombe and sophomore midfielder Ava Lewis were named to the All-MIAC First Team while seniors Courtney Jones, Bailey Ulbricht, and Ellie Wilson were tabbed All-MIAC Honorable Mention.
Sunday, November 9th: Coup of 18 Brumaire
On the 18th of Brumaire, Year 8, under the French Republican calendar (which was November 9th, 1799 under the Gregorian calendar), a coup occurred in France, bringing General Napoleon Bonaparte to power as First Consul of France, thus ending the French Revolution. In 1795, Bonaparte was only a poor artillery officer, but by 1796, thanks to military success and links to Parisian politicians, he was named the commander of the French army in Italy. Bonaparte continued to further his career by defeating the Piedmonts and the Austrians in the War of the First Coalition. Bonaparte did witness some failure during the Egyptian Campaign, but not enough to dull his luster. When Bonaparte arrived back in France in 1799, the war in Europe was going badly with the territories of the former Austrian Netherlands in revolt. On the 18th of Brumaire, Bonaparte stormed into the French legislature demanding immediate changes to the constitution. The council rejected him, but the president of the Council of 500 (the lower house of the government), who was also Bonaparte’s brother, summoned troops and told them that the deputies had tried to assassinate Bonaparte. The soldiers removed those who opposed Bonaparte and the remaining deputies voted to abolish the Directory (the current legislative body) and establish a new three-man executive called The Consulate. Napoleon received the title of First Consul, essentially giving him absolute power. While there were two other consuls, Bonaparte’s power over them was established in the new Constitution. Thus, Napoleon Bonaparte came to power.
Monday, November 10th: United States Marine Corps is Founded
On November 10th, 1775, the United States Marine Corps was founded by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress, which raised two battalions of Marines as an infantry force designed to fight both at sea and on land. The Continental Marines, as they were called, were later disbanded in April 1783, along with the Continental Navy. The Marines, however, were resurrected in 1789, leading to their most famous operation of the time: the First Barbary War in 1801 against Barbary pirates. Later, in the War of 1821, Marine naval detachments participated in the great frigate duels that characterized the war, including the first and last battles of the war. In 1834, the Marine Corps became a part of the U.S. Department of the Navy, and today there are more than 190,000 active marines, with 40,000 in reserve.
Tuesday, November 11th: Veterans Day
November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States, the federal holiday honoring those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Veterans Day is different than Memorial Day in that it celebrates the service of all veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the men and women who died while serving.) The holiday was originally established by President Woodrow Wilson as Armistice Day in 1919 as a day to celebrate those who had died during World War I. During World War II, a veteran, Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans who had served in any U.S. war, not just those who had died in World War 1. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on May 26th, 1954, establishing Veterans Day in place of Armistice Day. Please, remember to take time on this day to remember those who have served to protect you and our great nation.
Wednesday, November 12th: Naval Battle of Guadalcanal Begins
Also known as the Third and Fourth Battles of Savo Island, this engagement occurred between November 12th and November 15th, 1942 during World War II. The battle consisted of several naval engagements between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy. Before the battle, allied forces (mainly from the U.S.) had landed on the island of Guadalcanal, seized an airfield, and repelled several attempts by the Japanese to retake the airstrip. Finally, in November, the Japanese mobilized over 7,000 soldiers planning to convey them to Guadalcanal and retake the airstrip once and for all. The U.S. discovered the plan and launched a counterattack. The battle was devastating for both sides, with almost 2,000 men lost to each side; however, the battle was ultimately a victory for the U.S. in that they forced the Japanese to turn back and abandon their reinforcement plan. The airstrip was a strategic site for the United States to help its air campaign against the Japanese.
Thursday, November 13th: Brice’s Day Massacre
On November 13th, 1002 AD, King Ethelred the Unready ordered the killing of a large number of Danes in the Kingdom of England. The order was a response to fear that the king held that the Danes would eventually kill him and take his kingdom. The Danes had ravaged England with raids occurring every year for the previous five years. So the king ordered the death of all Danes living in England. It is unclear how many people died, but the limited data suggests a significant death toll. In response, King Sweyn, the Danish king, invaded England in 1013. Ethelred fled to Normandy and Sweyn took control of the throne. However, when Sweyn died in 1014, Ethelred returned and retook the throne. The massacre’s name refers to St. Brice, whose feast day is November 13th.
Friday, November 14st: Moby Dick is Published
On November 14th, 1851 Moby Dick by Herman Melville was published by Harper & Brothers in the United States. The novel narrates the quest of Captain Ahab to seek revenge on an albino sperm whale, Moby Dick, which previously destroyed Ahab’s ship and severed his leg at the knee. The novel was originally a commercial failure, falling out of print by 1891; however, in the 20th century, its popularity soared. The novel includes commentary on social class and status, diversity, the existence of good and evil and the existence of God. The novel had its title changed at the last minute in September 1851; originally it was to be called The Whale, but was published under its proper title Moby Dick on this day in history.
Saturday, November 15st: NBC News Radio Begins Broadcasting
Originally launched on November 15th, 1926, NBC News Radio is the radio division of NBC News. The network originally was called the NBC Red Network, and was launched alongside the NBC Blue Network, the two original radio networks of NBC. However, in 1943, NBC was forced to relinquish control of the Blue Network (which later became the American Broadcasting Company, or ABC), and NBC changed the title of the Red Network to NBC News Radio. The program was launched by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and featured a star-studded opening broadcast, including a four-hour performance by notable opera stars, Carl Schlagel, Will Rogers, and Mary Garden. Currently, the NBC Radio Network no longer exists. It was dissolved into other components of Westwood One, NBC’s parent company.
These past two months at Carleton were absolutely gorgeous, with the entire campus awash in brilliant fall colors. Our student photographers captured stunning images, which we share with you here.
We live in a culture that praises Internet virality. Getting millions of views on YouTube is enough to earn a feature on the Today Show and a place in living room conversations across the world. This week’s sensation, “Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism,” combines a divisive social movement and little girls with vulgar language, so naturally everyone is talking about it.
In case you haven’t seen it, the video features a plethora of girls (and one boy), ages six to 13, wearing princess dresses. They spend the first few seconds of the video posing for the camera, when suddenly there is a record scratch.
“What the f––? I’m not some pretty f–––’ helpless princess in distress. I’m pretty f––––’ powerful and ready for success.”
The rest of the video features the girls lecturing the audience about pay inequality, rape and putting unnecessary focus on a girl’s looks. (Yes, with plenty more cursing.) It is clearly designed to shock and spread the message through word-of-mouth, and it has succeeded. The video currently has nearly a million views (it might have more, but the video was pulled from YouTube and then re-uploaded) and has incited plenty of response articles.
Look, I’m a proud feminist. I believe wholeheartedly in equal pay for equal work, protection from assault and recognizing a woman’s achievements other than “looking pretty.” However, I am also wholeheartedly against this video for one simple reason: the corporation behind it, FCKH8. FCKH8 is a company selling anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-homophobia T-shirts and accessories. It also specializes in viral images. If you see a picture about these subjects on Facebook and check the corner of the image, you will probably see a FCKH8 logo. Sounds good, right? Wrong.
I could write another article about FCKH8 and its stealing of artwork and text for its viral images, its attacks on religion, its erasure of religious queer people and its reliance on stereotypes to get a message across. But that is not the point of this article. The point is that FCKH8 is exploitative. This is a common practice for the company, too. Recently, FCKH8 was in the news for a video about racism shortly after the death of Michael Brown and the violence in Ferguson. The problem is that these aren’t just simple videos to raise awareness. At the end of the “F-Bombs for Feminism” video, the real purpose of the video is shown – FCKH8 has a new T-shirt to sell, and it’s hoping to sell it by getting your attention with swearing six-year-olds.
It is one thing for a group of girls to get together and utilize shock value to take their own stand for feminism. It is another thing for a corporation to exploit that shock value to sell T-shirts. (It should also be noted that while FCKH8 claims to donate portions of its proceeds to charity, it has been less than forthright in proving that this is so. The Better Business Bureau Business Review gives FCKH8’s parent corporation, Good Ideas for Good Causes, an F rating for this reason and for customer complaints).
Educate yourself on feminism, if you want. Take a stand, get involved and teach others about it. But ignore FCKH8, a private company masquerading as a crusade for humanitarianism. Do not let FCKH8 get away with exploiting children to sell a product and call it feminism. This is not what feminism is, and associating it with a terrible company like FCKH8 insults everyone.
Audrey Walker ’18 (email@example.com) is from Mountain Grove, Missouri. Her major is undecided.
Graphic Credit: ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER
A new grant will allow researchers at St. Olaf to move data around at “Big Data” speeds.
The digital revolution has swept the globe and brought with it the Age of Information, where data is more valuable than gold. The $327,640 grant from the National Science Foundation will go to updating St. Olaf’s cyber infrastructure. This will allow St. Olaf to remain at the cutting edge of Big Data research.
Big Data capabilities have helped companies like Facebook and Google become technology giants. This allows them to accrue tremendous amounts of data about their users. Google Analytics, a popular tool used by Web masters to track views on their websites, not only records how many people logged onto the website, but also their location, age, gender and even their interests.
The amazing thing is that Google knows these facts about Internet users, even though they are never explicitly mentioned. It’s all purely based on what users do on the Web, what users search for, how much time they spend on Web sites and what they click on. Imagine keeping track of all this information, all the time, for every single user on the Internet.
That is what the term “Big Data” refers to. It is data so large that it exceeds the ability for humans to understand, analyze or transfer using traditional computing and storage methods.
St. Olaf Professor of Statistics Julie Legler and Director of Information Systems Craig Rice are in charge of putting this grant to good use.
“St. Olaf students will be getting incredible experience in Big Data analysis,” Legler said. “There are not a lot of liberal arts schools with this data capacity.”
The upgrades from this grant will increase data transfer speeds tenfold. Transfer speed is very important because working with immense databases requires specialized hardware and powerful machines to process the data. This enables researchers to transfer this data from their personal computers to the powerful cluster computers for analysis and read back the results, a process that would otherwise take days.
Students are already working on projects that will benefit from this powerful new upgrade. A joint Medical Economics project led by faculty members Ashley Hodgson and Jessica Musselman, with help from students in the computer science department, aims to comb through millions of patients’ data to find patterns of occurrences of diseases and their respective treatments.
The hospital and patient data had to be transferred on many CDs and shipped across the country to get to St Olaf.
“In this case, it was transferred like that because of the confidentiality terms of the data, but in the future, if we wanted access to a large data set like that, we could just beam it over with this new network,” said Richard Brown, a professor of computer science. “Once we get on this new network, we’ll be connected to every other institution and university using the same network. We could have a joint research project with Macalester or beam data over from Stanford and do our tests.”
The newly-installed “Infiniband” wires in the computer clusters allow data transfer speeds that reach four times the tenfold increase with this new network (a 40 times increase over the traditional network on campus, but only within the cluster).
“This means that a computer in our cluster can access a file on another computer faster than it can access a file on its own hard drive,” said Professor Brown.
Brown added that it is very affirming to know that students are learning to work with the very same technologies and techniques that the biggest companies use to handle billions of data points.
“[The students] used a framework called Hadoop to analyze the [hospital] data. That’s the very same framework Facebook uses to manage its billion users on the petabyte scale,” Brown said.
Brown has seen firsthand the enormous impact these Big Data techniques can have on research. When Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies John Schade was researching the effects of a certain species of plants on the nitrogen cycle in the environment, it took a lot of time and effort to create a suitable model for his system. Due to its extremely complex nature, however, the computations he could carry out on the system were very limited.
“He was only able to run maybe a dozen or so simulations. He gave it to [the computer science department], and we ran a few million,” Brown said. This resulted in new findings that would not have been possible without the work of the computer science department.
Big Data techniques are employed even in the humanities. When Doug Casson, Associate Professor of Political Science, was studying the works of philosopher John Locke and how much of his writings were pulled from the Bible, he sought assistance from the computer science department to comb through all of Locke’s works and match them against the Bible.
“We realized that once we had the base program working, it was very easy to apply Big Data techniques to it to have it match any body of work to every other known work in our library’s database,” Brown said.
It is exciting to see what other benefits will emerge from this new data transfer upgrade, as more and more fields and departments make use of Computer Science to solve their problems and make innovative breakthroughs.
Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER
The St. Olaf women’s soccer team was looking to finish its season on a high note when it took on rival Carleton College on Rolf Mellby Field on Nov. 1. Unfortunately for the Oles, the Knights proved too strong, as the game finished in a 0-3 loss for St. Olaf.
In front of a strong crowd of 157 people, the early exchanges in the contest were intense. The Knights broke the deadlock in the 30th minute, when Ellie Wilson ’15 fired a shot from the left side past Ole goalkeeper Ruth Hesse ’16.
Wilson proved to be too much for the Ole defense to handle, as she gave the Knights a second goal in the 40th minute. Carleton went into half time holding a 2-0 lead, despite only holding a slender 7-5 advantage in shots.
St. Olaf players searched desperately for a goal to bring them back into the contest, but were unable to do so. Carleton’s Megan King ’16 put the result beyond doubt when she scored in the 84th minute to give the Knights a 3-0 lead, which they held until the fulltime whistle.
St. Olaf finished its season with a 9-19-1 record and a 4-6-1 record in MIAC play. The Oles finished five points short of the total that would have qualified them for the MIAC playoffs. The playoff bracket will be headlined by regular season champions Augsburg College, who defeated the Oles 3-2 on Oct. 29 despite St. Olaf holding a 2-0 advantage early in the second period.
St. Olaf College oboe instructor Dana Maeda ’92 shaves the sides of a piece of cane with a small razor, carving off bits as if she were slicing a pepper. Luke Simonson ’16 sits to her left and looks on attentively — he’ll be trying this on his own in just a few minutes.
Maeda stops carving and picks up a spool of gold thread from her work station. She ties the thread’s free end to the table and unrolls the spool. Simonson hands her a small bar of beeswax, which she rubs along the length of the thread.
When she’s finished, Maeda pulls the line taught and leans down close to it. With her right forefinger, she gives the line a good pluck.
“Hear how high-pitched the tension is?” she asks.
Simonson nods. Today, he is learning how to wrap oboe reeds.
Every St. Olaf oboist learns some reed-making skills in their music lessons, but trying to fit both reed-making and playing in a half-hour time slot is difficult. Simonson, a music theory and composition major and principal oboist of the St. Olaf Orchestra, wanted more experience in crafting reeds. So this year he’s taking the college’s first independent study in oboe reed-making, and is using the Hall of Music’s new reed-making studio as his workshop.
An oboe is a woodwind instrument with a double reed, two pieces of cane that vibrate against each other when air is blown between them. The double reed is responsible for the oboe’s unique tone quality, and it has a large effect on an oboe’s overall sound and pitch.
As part of his course, Simonson is learning how to manipulate his sound by adjusting variables like shape, cane width, and raw materials. So far, he’s learned how to revive “dying” reeds and how to adjust store-bought reeds to fit his instrument.
After he’s done learning how to wrap reeds, Simonson will be ready to create reeds from scratch. For his final project, the St. Olaf junior will create a reed-making book that will serve as a reference for other oboists.
Maeda has noticed an increase in reed-making in recent years, a change that she attributes to St. Olaf’s new reed-making studio, which was completed in February 2012.
“The reed room is a huge draw,” says Maeda. “It provides a fun, collegial atmosphere for oboe and bassoon players. We are grateful to have such a wonderful space for our students.”
The reed room, located in the Hall of Music, is temperature and humidity controlled, and features seven work stations. It also has a mobile shelving unit where students can store their supplies in a personalized bin.
In the corner of the room is a “reed graveyard” — a circular, Styrofoam depository for unusable reeds.
“After you have a laundry basket full of reeds, then you’ll be a reed maker,” Maeda jokes.
Continuing the craft
As Simonson finishes wrapping his first oboe reed, he can’t contain his enthusiasm.
“Yeess!” he says. “This is so great.”
He places the beeswax and spool of thread in a small plastic bag, which he slips into the front pocket of his backpack. Maeda finishes class with a quick review of that day’s reed-making steps, and Simonson heads out of the studio.
“Reed making really is a craft,” Maeda says after he’s gone. “I want to make sure my students will continue to play after they leave St. Olaf. Learning how to adjust and make reeds is essential to making that happen.”
if you wish to learn
do not think to invest
but to enrich
currency of the present,
something to believe in
at your discretion
no not theirs
water as needed
(wash behind ears)
don’t avoid sun
Everyone has a story. That was the motivation behind Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” venture. The project, which began in the summer of 2010 and still continues today, captures photographs of average New Yorkers and pairs them with a personal statement. Last year, Kaelie Lund ’16 began her own local spin-off: “Humans of St. Olaf.” This year, Interfaith Collation is taking this project in a new direction. They hope to document the diverse and wide-ranging beliefs of St. Olaf students. Kully Vance ’17 and Kiki Sykes ’16, members of the Interfaith Collation Committee, shared some of their findings with the Manitou Messenger.
Manitou Messenger: So what is “Beliefs of St. Olaf?”
Kiki Skyes: The point of “Beliefs of St. Olaf” is to create a conversation on campus about beliefs while dispelling the many stereotypes of religion. We are structuring it off of the “Humans of New York” project. We like that it looks at one person’s story, listens to what they have to say and then shares it with others. We hope the project will foster conversation about what people believe and how their beliefs are expressed at St. Olaf.
MM: How did you get the idea for this project?
Kully Vance: We saw huge success with the “Humans of St. Olaf” page, and we thought it would be a good way to get the stories out there. We have been working on it for about a month now.
KS: It was one of those things where one person came up with an idea and enough people got excited about it that here we are. It kind of stemmed from a conversation about This I Believe, an NPR book that is a collection of essays centering on the idea of beliefs people hold to be true. It isn’t religiously affiliated at all, and it opened our mind up to the idea that there are so many different beliefs and ways to practice them.
MM: How will your page differ from “Humans of St. Olaf?”
KV: Instead of a Facebook page, we are going to have a Web site. It isn’t live yet – we are still in the process of gathering stories – but it should be up by second semester this year.
KS: Also, it is different from “Humans of St. Olaf” because it isn’t just about anything; it is about beliefs. If we were posting on Facebook, it would be easy for these personal stories to get lost in the jumble of “St. Olaf Flirts,” “Overheard at St. Olaf” and other general posts. We want to create a separate space.
MM: How will your project incorporate different perspectives?
KV: We started out by contacting religious and secular organizations on campus, and we asked their members if they had any interest in being interviewed. Now we are working on coming up with ways to involve the rest of the student body so that we can get perspectives from people who are not affiliated with a group. We realize it is really important, but it is one of our most difficult challenges and we are working on figuring out how to talk to these people.
KS: We are looking to collect stories from St. Olaf students that are representative of the student body. We hope our page will be filled with diverse stories. However, we acknowledge that we are on a predominately Lutheran campus, so even if there are more Lutheran perspectives, there will still be a lot of variety within the responses.
MM: What do you hope this page will accomplish?
KV: I hope that the diversity of students’ beliefs and backgrounds will show through. There are so many individual perspectives on this campus, but sometimes we don’t see that.
KS: There is also a dimension of empowerment. People do have different views, and that is a reason to celebrate. Often people think there is a certain way to think, live and express actions at St. Olaf. If we can change one person’s perception of that, then, I say, job well done. I think that the implications are beyond our imagination right now. Time will tell.
MM: Who are you looking for to participate in this?
KV: We are looking for anyone and everyone! Everyone has beliefs, whether they are religious or not. People who are interested should email us. We will send them the questions ahead of time, and then you can pick time and place you would like to meet.
KS: We have been struggling to find balance with spontaneity and structure. We want to give people time to look at questions beforehand, but we also want to make sure anyone has the opportunity to be interviewed.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the “Beliefs of St. Olaf,” e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pyotr Pavlensky, a performance-based Russian artist, sat naked on the roof of the Serbsky Psychiatric Centre on Sunday, Oct. 19. He climbed up in protest of the forced psychiatric treatment of political dissidents. But instead of merely occupying the roof to make a statement, Pavlensky took it one step further. He cut off his right earlobe.
This type of physical mutilation is not a first for Pavlensky. He’s performed a few controversial stunts, including sewing his mouth shut after the prosecution of the punk-rock band Pussy Riot and nailing his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square, which he called at the time a “metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of modern Russian society.” Self-mutilation is an extreme form of protest, but it does guarantee one thing: attention.
Pavlensky’s performance art has made the news worldwide, drawing notice to whatever issues are at its origin. He is very good at what he does, assuming that someone who protests through self-mutilation can be good at what he does. During his demonstrations he is very vacant, often expressionless, which makes the entire spectacle more shocking. By being so silent during what we would imagine to be awful physical pain, the performance is not personal, but rather focused entirely on the act and what it stands for. Between the pain and the calm, the protest is a contradiction of itself and ultimately demands our attention.
So what exactly is Pavlensky achieving by cutting of part of his ear? He’s trying to draw attention to the controversial, Soviet-era methods that the Serbsky Centre is using to lock up political dissidents. In April, Mikhail Kosenko, a demonstrator in Bolotnaya square, was sentenced to indefinite psychiatric treatment. Amnesty International has called the sentence very similar to Soviet-era practices of immorally stifling political opposition. Along with Konsenko, Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko is being tried for complicity in the deaths of two Russian war correspondents, as well as undergoing a psychiatric exam. Both of these charges have been condemned as politically motivated.
Pavlensky has every reason to be protesting this kind of treatment from the Russian government. Besides the obvious abuse of power by officials who order this type of sentencing, there is severe malpractice in unjustly subjecting someone to psychiatric treatment. Pavlensky has been subject to psychiatric exams many times after his demonstrations, but each time he has been declared sane. The Russian government is notorious for magically ridding itself of political enemies, but as much as the government likes to deny it, opponents’ disappearances and mistreatment aren’t kept completely quiet.
As far as Pavlensky’s demonstrations go, I respect him greatly for putting on such a dramatic demonstration to draw attention to a major issue. It’s unfortunate that he has to go to such lengths, but in a country like Russia, subtlety will get you nowhere when protesting the government. If anything, it’ll probably get you caught. A subtle performance will alert Russian officials that you need to be dealt with, but it won’t gain enough international attention to give you outside support.
Upon reading about Pavlensky, I immediately thought of the 2010 Arab Spring, when the Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire and sparked a movement across much of North Africa. Subtlety does not create movements in oppressive societies. Subtlety does not speak out in states without free speech. Subtlety does not encourage widespread change. Pavlensky’s demonstrations are sad, a little scary and definitely shocking. Despite all of this, in some cases, I think they are necessary.
Emma Whitford ’18 (email@example.com) is from Middleton, Wis. She majors in political science.
Portland-based band Musée Mécanique played at Heartwork Yoga on Thursday, Oct. 30 to a small but intimate audience. The concert combined the best of two worlds: Mike Morris, owner of The Chapel, booked the band and Heartwork Yoga Studio provided heating, low-light ambience, hot tea, blankets and an excuse not to wear shoes. The audience quietly shuffled into one of the yoga studios in socks and scarves on a chilly and blustery day to listen to the music.
The show started late after a modest gathering of about 15 people settled down on the floor with yoga blankets, pillows and complementary tea. Normally, Musée Mécanique is made up of more than six members, but they were only traveling with three. While the room would not have suited the full band, it proved a great physical space for Musée Mécanique’s acoustic guitar, synth and glockenspiel lineup on Thursday night. The band played an hour of music, mostly from its recently released nautically-themed concept album “From Shores of Sleep.”
The band is currently touring with a smaller number of members to reimagine and rearrange its music for limited personnel. Heartwork Yoga Studio provided an atmosphere that matched these goals. The music itself was robustly arranged, with synth pads floating in and out of harmonica and banjo lines. It remained very centered around the singer-with-acoustic-guitar folk aesthetic. Many self-defined soft rock fans (there are so many in the Upper Midwest) would find their tastes perfectly at home with Musée Mécanique. There is an element of escapism in hearing any live music, but in some cases these circumstances overpower the performance.
Although the music was nuanced and well-performed, my friends and I found the cozy atmosphere a little too comfortable and struggled to remain awake between the quiet and calm music, hot tea and the warm yoga studio.
Usually Thursday night shows, after the stress and rigor of the week, are a personal favorite. But with this past week’s colder temperatures and crazy schedule, Musée Mécanique’s chilled-out singer-songwriter vibe couldn’t keep my energy up.
I look forward to hearing the band again under different circumstances and grabbing its album when its Square-card reader works.
The Postage Stamp prairie may be a little bigger than its namesake, but not by much.