In conversation with Dr. Nels Elde ’95, evolutionary geneticist and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:30pm

“What stood out most about Nels was his imagination and willingness to take risks.  Whether it was deciding to make bacon and eggs on a hot plate for lab snacks, or troubleshooting an experiment for his research project, Nels was always comfortable pushing the envelope and trying new approaches to solving problems,” said Biology Professor Stephan Zweifel, who taught Nels Elde ’95 while he was at Carleton. 

Often donning thick shades and a baseball hat while driving around Utah, Dr. Elde is an unassuming figure who is changing the face of microbial research. The recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” for his groundbreaking work in evolutionary genetics, Elde spoke to The Carletonian about what this award means to him and how his work in evolutionary biology is impacting the way we live.

The MacArthur Foundation aims to “celebrate and inspire the creative potential of individuals through no-strings-attached fellowships,” according to the organization’s website. Through a confidential nomination process, the $625,000 award is presented annually to between 20 and 30 Americans working in any field. 

Elde, an associate professor at the University of Utah, said that the news of the award “was a big surprise, a great surprise,” and, in fact, “a little bit of a trick.” The MacArthur Foundation reached out to him via email requesting he set up a phone call to provide support to some other MacArthur fellows, but when he answered, it was revealed that he was in fact receiving a MacArthur Fellowship.

Twenty years earlier, Elde was in a biology class with Zweifel, who remembers him being a fun-loving, creative student. “The spark you see in all successful scientists, that curiosity, was always evident in him. His time commitment, the type of questions he asked and his dedication to solving a riddle speaks volumes about who he is,” said Zweifel.

Elde remembers Zweifel—who also coaches Carleton Men’s Tennis— from his time on the staff of The Carletonian, writing articles about the tennis team. “I would make up kind of fanciful quotes, not always exactly what the players and coaches were saying. I think Stephan thought it was pretty hilarious actually and that is really how we met, and I ended up working for him even after graduation.” 

“Even though sometimes we think about science as sort of a recipe book, there’s really a lot of room for creativity and fun. Stephan’s incredible advice [to me] was having fun and I think that has really served me well at Carleton and beyond, from grad school to opening my lab in Utah,” Elde said. 

From viral mimicry to bacterial iron piracy, Elde has published articles on evolutionary genetics that focus not only on microbes but also on human cell evolution. Dr. Brenda Bass, who is currently collaborating with Elde on a Transformative Research Award, said, “The goal of our Transformative Award is to find ways to trick cancer cells so they will kill themselves with their own immune response. We’re working on viruses themselves, some distant form of coronavirus, and we’re interested in how they evolve to build new tools. We know already that [COVID-19] is the third big one [pandemic] in recent times. Can we take an evolutionary view about how these things adapt and change and move through populations?” 

Elde said, “I am really curious about the outcomes of evolution—how is it that our cells are organized and how will they be impacted by microbes? In particular, how past pandemics influenced, based on Darwinian evolution, who survives and who has kids and how that has shaped our own biology down to the cellular level.”

When asked about how the current pandemic has influenced his work now and further down the line, he said, “I think what the current pandemic does is really put a sharp focus on the impact that viruses and other microbes can have on us and in fact, even though [this pandemic] has changed our lives in all corners of the globe, from an evolutionary perspective, this is just kind of a minor blip in the radar. And I say that because our species is in no danger of, say, an extinction-level event.” 

The importance of creativity in Elde’s work is evident in his MacArthur acceptance video, where he mentions his background of coming from a family of scientists, artists and ministers as one factor fueling his creative and interdisciplinary thinking. Bass echoed this passion that Dr Elde shows in his work. “As you might imagine, Nels is a wealth of creative ideas, and further, he is always up for an “out-of-the-box” party! You state your own wild idea, and he happily and immediately takes it to the next step, lending substance to the wild idea and paving the way to discovery.”

Reminiscing on his time at Carleton, Elde mentioned the impact a liberal arts education had on his work. Speaking of his freshman year writing seminar called “Health, Healing and Religion”, he said, “the foundational framework of learning was bigger. At Carleton, there’s this community where you have professors and advisors who become friends and they care about you and your professional development and your path in education, and to have that kind of support is what nurtures the creativity and the curiosity. It builds the space to take chances, to think bigger, to build bigger.” 

Thanking his professors including Zwiefel as well as Mark McKone, who teaches evolution at Carleton, Elde mentioned that he is still connected to them today. “These connections are not just for four years, this is part of the community that stays with you. That is almost the magical part of being at Carleton and liberal arts, you don’t just take classes in different disciplines, but it means you are part of this community of people who care about each other. That echoes an impact that you can’t imagine, it turbocharges our education, it’s like rocket fuel. It is a great reminder in these fun times, when you win an award like this, that it is not an individual thing. It is built on the shoulders—in almost these concentric rings—of staff, professors and other students that are lifelong companions in the process.”

Now a professor himself, Elde tries to bring the excitement and fun he felt at Carleton into his own labs. He remembers a former professor warning him that lab science isn’t always great fun, depending on who you’re working with, and said he “took that as a challenge to find fun connections in work,” as well as to mentor others to do the same.

Despite his focus on research-based learning, he keeps the connections to his liberal arts education by teaching a seminar in critical thinking to his first-year students in the University of Utah’s microbiology program. “We are able to have these liberal arts style discussions and dialogues in what it means to advance science. And these are even PhD students who are working toward their dissertations.”

While laughing about Zweifel’s request to invest in an indoor tennis court at Carleton, Elde mentioned his plans to build a bridge between University of Utah and Carleton College using the resources provided by the MacArthur Foundation. “There is definitely some ongoing investment between Carleton and Utah to kind of echo the great opportunity I got at Stephan’s lab. We are in this win-win situation where all of us who are faculty [at the University of Utah] from Carleton are hoping to express our appreciation for the training, the connections and relationships we have—but also hoping to build new ones and provide new opportunities as well.”

“It is definitely a little selfish too, because we know how great Carleton students are, and we would love to have them working in our labs, advancing our science projects. And so a prize like this only helps us to build those connections even stronger,” he added.

The post In conversation with Dr. Nels Elde ’95, evolutionary geneticist and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Northfield Library adapts to meet community's needs

Northfield News - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:11pm
The Northfield Public Library has been open to the public since May, providing its many services to members of the community.
Categories: Local News

Raider Wrap 11-14-20

KYMN Radio - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 11:05am
Jimmy LeRue is joined by Northfield’s Activities Director Joel Olson.  We dive deep into the current covid conditions and how that will affect fall and winter athletics and academic programs. AJ Reisetter welcomes cross country team mates Martin Brice and Nathan Amundson on this weeks meet the Raider.  AJ recaps the week in Raider Sports

Why you should fill out the Presidential Search Survey

Carletonian - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:01am

I want people to have three takeaways from this article:

(1) Go fill out the Presidential Search Survey emailed to all faculty, students and staff by Joe Hargis last Friday and express support for diversity goals if you believe they’re important. The survey must be completed by next Thursday, November 19. 

(2) Read Chapter Seven of Beverly Tatum’s book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”—all students and everyone with access to Carleton’s library resources have access to the online version of this book. 

(3) Follow the email updates of Carleton’s Presidential Search Committee and continue to speak up about what criteria should be used to select Carleton’s next President. 

I don’t claim to be an expert on affirmative action after reading the chapter in Beverly Tatum’s book called “White Identity, Affirmative Action, and Color-Blind Racial Ideology,” but I don’t need to be an expert to see that we are right now at a critical stage in the search for Carleton’s next president. I think that a lot of noise from the Carleton community within the next week has the opportunity to significantly shape the Board of Trustees’ choice of Carleton’s next president. 

Here is, briefly, why we should be invested in this. For one, statistics tell us that after President Poskanzer, we will probably have another white, male president. College presidents are overwhelmingly white men. Inside HigherEd explains that the demographics of college presidents have changed little over the past 30-40 years and, surprise, continue to be older white men with a doctoral degree in education. In 2016, 70 percent of presidents were men, and 83 percent of presidents were white, while only five percent of presidents were women of color, Inside HigherEd reports. 

We as a Carleton community need to not only counter this trend, but also advance the diversity goals of Carleton. Do you remember the resounding call from 2,000 Carleton alumni over the summer for a 10-year strategic plan to address racial equality and equity on campus? It is Carleton’s President who will have the option to create new strategic visions for the college (this is part of a question on the email survey!). Poskanzer is vacating a key administrative position that we can fill to continue to advance change on campus, and if more students and faculty really have opened their eyes to systemic injustice after the nationwide ‘racial reckoning’ we have seen in 2020, it doesn’t make sense to choose a (white male) president who does not prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Shaping the search committee’s selection criteria is how we push Carleton to have a fair hiring process for our next President and at the same time advance diversity goals at Carleton. I pull heavily from Tatum’s work to illustrate this. The key is what constitutes a “fair” hiring process: “Despite attempts to ensure a fair process, without the clarity of a clear set of institutional diversity goals to guide their decision-making, too often well-intentioned search committees find the ‘best’ person is yet another member of the dominant group,” Tatum writes. In other words, when employers like Carleton rely on a process-oriented approach to affirmative action (a.k.a. equal opportunity employment practices), they often replicate the same discriminatory practices they are seeking to avoid; even with processes in place such as standard interview questions and evaluation criteria, racial bias still consistently and significantly affects multiple stages of the selection process (see pages 217-219 in Tatum’s book).

The solution is not for members of Carleton’s Presidential Search Committee to commit to reducing their implicit bias—which just may not be possible—but rather follow Tatum’s and others’ suggestions for how to set up a process in which committee members’ subjective judgements about candidates can’t affect the hiring decisions being made.

Tatum writes, “In a well-conceived and well-implemented affirmative action program, the first thing that should be done is to establish clear and meaningful selection criteria. What skills does the person need to function effectively in this environment? How will we assess whether the candidates have these required skills? Will it be on the basis of demonstrated past performance, scores on an appropriate test, or the completion of certain educational requirements? Once the criteria have been established, anyone who meets the criteria is considered qualified.”

In addition, Tatum writes, “If one candidate meets the criteria but also has some additional education or experience, it may be tempting to say this candidate is the ‘best,’ but this one may not be the one who moves us toward our diversity goal. Because the systematic advantages that members of the dominant group receive, it is often the case that the person with the extra experience or educational attainment is a person from the majority group. If our eyes are on our organizational goal, we are not distracted by these unasked-for extras… If it is not part of the criteria, it shouldn’t be considered.”

According to the process outlined by Tatum, once selection criteria have been established, candidates either are or are not qualified for the position—there are no “moderately” versus “highly” qualified candidates. From there, an institution’s top priorities should guide the process of selecting a final candidate.

This means two things for the Carleton community: we must unambiguously prioritize our diversity goals going into the presidential search process, and we must express support for selection criteria that are likely to be met by people of color as a way to fulfill such diversity goals. This can include criteria such as “experience working in multicultural settings, the experience of being supervised by managers of color, experience of collaborating in multicultural workgroups, of living in racially mixed communities, fluency in a second language, or substantial college coursework in the study of multicultural perspectives.”

The desired experiences listed on Carleton’s current survey include one or two, but not very many, of the above criteria; in addition, the survey contains many criteria which I do not feel are particularly important for our future president to fit, but which may present a barrier for people of color (who experience systematic disadvantages in our society) to meet the selection criteria. For instance, a question about desired experience on the survey asks respondents to check their top five desired experiences for candidates, but only includes two characteristics related to experience in multicultural settings (“Record of supporting inclusion, diversity, and equity efforts and initiatives” and “Experience in a global setting”), while it goes on to list about ten characteristics that are explicitly or implicitly concerned with a candidate’s previous leadership experience.

Essentially, there are many places to add comments on the survey, and it is vital that the Carleton community engage with this: go create the criteria that you think is important for the next President to fulfill. The survey is open to faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and community members. This is our opportunity to speak directly to the search committee, and it matters: the criteria that the search committee establishes after this phase of work should ideally guide the entirety of the hiring process, up to selection of the final candidate—so spread the word and speak up!

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Categories: Colleges

Voting is not harm reduction

Carletonian - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:54pm

The timing of this article is a bit late, but nonetheless it must be said. Whether or not your electoral, or uninformed, heart can take it, voting is not harm reduction. Thus, your centering of voting in your “activism” or organizing, which inherently pressures, harasses, and scapegoats voter-suppressed marginalized communities, is violent. It is violent in the sense that it does not recognize that this country is founded upon systems and tools of extermination: genocide, slavery, concentration camps, white supremacy, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, capitalism, settler-colonialism, prison-industrial-complex, prisons, and many more. Beyond that lack of recognition, however, exists the literal contradiction that happens when you center voting as the panacea when in actuality, it is reinforcing and perpetuating these systems. How so, you may ask? It is because you are working through liberalism, and at times rebranded as a multiculturalist framework. Liberalism makes you strongly hold that through more diversity and inclusion into these structures of power, we will be liberated; but I ask you to reconsider who is this “we”? It certainly will not be Black undocumented trans sex workers – one of the most marginalized communities ever, but also the ones doing the most work in regards to abolition. 

In addition, we can see your hypocrisy and your lack of understanding of what it means to actually liberate and support the most marginalized as your efforts are not even reflected when current peers require assistance. Let me ask you: did you donate to the Ujamaa Collective, did you vote on the cultural fund initiative, did you open your wealthy, white purses when it came to mutual aid projects or reparations for Black, indigenous queer and trans folx, or was that one Black Lives Matter rally enough for you? Did you find satisfaction in performatively placing ACAB or BLM in your bios, in posting “quirky” photo ops, or perhaps in signing petitions for the Carleton administration to have a taskforce on anti-racist training? The point is, these actions do not amount to much, especially if you are non-Black, white, cishet, able-bodied, a citizen, etc. when you have not taken the time to sharpen your mind as a way to uncover the carceral, anti-Black violence that is inherent in our existence. 

Many of you will posit that it does not have to be a binary choice, and I agree, for having a goal toward abolition is not binary at all; it is imaginative and deeply grounded in a rich history with tangible solutions that do not rely on this imperial core state (the United States). However, you cannot honestly tell me or any of my fellow colonized communities that your phone banking, canvassing, and campaign tactics for the Biden-Harris 2020 ticket is doing “both” when in actuality you are providing a stamp of approval. You are perpetuating and approving not only the process of de-radicalization but also the literal violence that will happen under this administration (which is already happening). Further examples include the enactment of more drug crminalization policies, which will then massively increase prisons (much akin to slavery continued) and the concentration camps at the border because we have Miss KKKopmala as VP, and the king-of-domestic-and-international-war-crimes Biden as president. This does not even scratch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the horrendous U.S. foreign policy on Latin America, Africa, and other colonized occupations like Palestine. Therefore, you cannot claim sustainability or plans for climate change if it does not include decolonization (as per Frantz Fanon’s definition: “Decolonization is always a violent event.”), which is at least returning the land  to indigenous communities. Some of you then will read this sliver of violent policies I have listed and bark at me with “so you would rather Trump be president?” That to me, is a clear indicator that you have not understood what I am communicating whatsoever. If that is your go-to ace to shut down grassroots abolitionist or communist organizers who have been putting in the work to free their communities through creative methods that center community-care, then you need to sit down in your little corner of liberalism, prop open some books, and read. 

You do not have the lived experience that grants you the ability to effectively speak on this subject.  It does not matter if you have taken political science courses at Carleton. It does not matter whatever your Ph.D. white professors in Political Science, Economics, or any other harmful discipline claim. The people who are having their communities ripped apart and massacred for the utter and total accumulation of capital probably have a better grasp of what these structures are, and what solutions there should be. 

For my fellow colonized people who may feel the same and argue for a “lesser-of-two-evils,” my emails are open for a good-faith basis conversation because I will always hold space for you. 

Now I do not have the space to run you through a crash course on political education that is vital to the liberation from these dreadfully violent socioeconomic conditions; however, I can break down long-term and short-term solutions and attach a reading list to start. 

Long-term: abolition of the state (if this sounds scary, I invite you to research the 8 to Abolition movement) 

Short-term (that doesn’t require complicity with the colonizer): mutual aid projects such as GoFundMe, Venmo-ing, community-based housing projects for unhoused gender non-conforming and trans people, political education for the masses, radical zine-making, protests (which cannot be peaceful or at least palatable to the state!), and listening to the needs of the community. 

For more information on any of these complicated, interdisciplinary topics here are some brilliant, accessible scholars who have also done organizing and have written about their lived experiences of marginalization. If the communist texts put you off – that is for you to sit with why you feel that way. I will not be unpacking your U.S. imperial core propaganda. So before you get all up in arms about what has been said thus far, please I urge you with all the love in my heart to read Assata Shakur, W.E.B. Du Bois, Franz Fanon, Angela Davis, Karl Marx, Audre Lorde, George Jackson, and any other communist or abolitionist organizer. And if it is hard for you to read due to living with a disability or neurodivergence, there is a lot more material out there that is accessible and across mediums: from interviews, to music, to art, and anything else that is creative. 

The post Voting is not harm reduction appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

The difference in “vibes” of America’s political parties

Carletonian - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:47pm

The office of the President of the United States finds itself facing a unique transferral of power. The chair of the President is an embodiment of our national values and determines the respect that our country deserves. Joe Biden and Donald Trump represent two parties with two very different attitudes towards their preferred leader. Joe Biden, a President-Elect who inspired the greatest voter turnout in a century, finds his support to be conditional among many progressive voters. Their support is conditional on the level of urgency Biden has promised to bring to very contested issues. Donald Trump, a man who has awakened a new voice within the Republican Party, finds himself in a very different position. The difference between the types of authority these two men hold among their respective parties is a testament to the growing volume of progressive voices among young Americans. 

Biden leads a party that is beginning to accumulate young, diverse, and ever more progressive members. With the Democratic Party beginning to move against the grain of Joe Biden’s more moderate values, we are shaping up to see a presidency that is much more demanding in its expectations. Joe Biden’s voters have expressed their intent to hold him accountable for the urgency he has promised to bring to important issues of racial justice, climate change and health care. This represents a core difference in his position among party members when compared to Trump, whose supporters have facilitated a culture of defense against fake news. With this difference comes the hope of a Biden presidency that prioritizes the voices of the unheard. This is not to say that the Democratic Party is without issues, but instead to acknowledge that the new president represents a party that seeks to “restore the soul of America.” Even so, young progressive voices have made it clear that he does not represent the future of the Democratic Party, but a moderate version of progressive policies. 

The Republican Party’s future is more uncertain now that Trump, assuming he will concede the election, will become a private individual. Trump has established himself as the loudest and primary voice among the new Republican Party that has molded around his image. With Joe Biden as President-Elect, the question of how Trump’s absence will affect how the party leads itself must be raised. The chance that the more moderate, anti-Trump Republicans will assume control is possible, but not likely. More likely is the chance that Trump continues to inspire the Republican Party from the sidelines, holding on to power. His Chief-of-Staff has mentioned his desire to run again in 2024, suggesting that he intends to hold a prominent position in the party’s leadership. 

The difference in how these leaders hold authority within their party suggests the trajectory of polarized America. In the history of this country, not often have we seen the hijacking of a party’s beliefs on such a large scale, and it is uncertain how these two parties will interact now that the Republican Party’s loudest voice is no longer in power.  America has experienced extreme internal conflict in recent years, and this transfer of power is the beginning of how its two parties will continue to work together within a very different relationship.

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Categories: Colleges

My medical leave of absence: a tale of bureaucracy at Carleton

Carletonian - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:45pm

Like most things at Carleton, my decision to take a medical leave of absence—and its aftermath—was fraught with difficulty.

It’s not so much that the decision itself was tough to make; in fact, the relevant college administration was delightfully helpful in working with me to figure out the logistics of taking my Fall Term of sophomore year off.

The real difficulty ended up being everything after.

Which, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t necessarily amount to a ton, life-or-death-wise, but it reached a certain threshold of mild inconvenience that, to me, necessitated my writing about it. I have heard similar stories from many other people.

What perhaps was the first issue I encountered—after taking the time off itself for the term—was the prompt refusal of the Career Center to let me apply for externships my sophomore fall given I was taking a medical leave that term. Despite my (as far as I know) being on the campus directory, I was still (so far as I was told) prohibited from applying to the program given that I was, at that time, taking a medical leave—though I had informed the Carleton administration long before application deadlines that I intended to return to school the next term. To bar a student taking a medical leave of absence from applying to a career-helping program which all other on-campus Carls have access to felt extreme to me. Almost stigmatizing… sure, bar the people struggling with mental illness from important career opportunities—wonderful idea. Very Foucauldian…

Toward the end of Winter Term this year came the time for major declaration, as well. Since I’d taken the leave of absence, I wasn’t yet able to declare my major until much later. This made sense to me until I realized that, because I was now off-cycle, I wouldn’t be allowed to declare my major until the beginning of Fall Term. That felt weird. Why couldn’t I declare essentially at the same time as on-cycle sophomores could, just one term later? Why would other off-cycle sophomores have to wait an extra six or so months to do so? I was never given a clear answer. As a result of all this, I wasn’t able to really, properly meet other students in my major, and I missed almost all the communications among the majors between April and September this year. I was also, because of my off-cycle status, passed from advisor to advisor in the interim. Especially because of the ongoing pandemic, this only increased my sense of isolation from Carleton and made an already atypical college experience even more so. That waiting period felt arbitrary and—again—unjustly isolating and hoop-jump-requiring given that the decision to take a term off had been the result of serious and pressing mental health issues, not just because, say, I felt like taking a break from school.

On top of all this, since students cannot accelerate their graduation until they declare their major, I was unable to get back on-cycle until I went through all the aforementioned bureaucratic rigmarole of declaring my major. While I am now back on-cycle and up to speed finally, it was immensely frustrating that it took over a year since deciding to take a term off to get back on-track graduation-wise.

While, again, these aren’t the biggest possible issues that could have (or already have) arisen during my time at Carleton, they have for me (and I’m sure for others, too) combined in a kind of Gestalt-ish way to make me almost regret taking the term off—even thought it was, for me at the time, almost literally a life-or-death decision. Overall, the decision to take a medical leave ended up requiring much more time, emotional energy and labor from me than I expected or should have been subjected to. And I attribute that all to bureaucracy.

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Categories: Colleges

US Government falls after nobody votes in presidential election

Carletonian - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:38pm

FiveThirtyEight forecasted that Joe Biden would win the presidency. Several mysterious pundits heralded a surprise Trump victory. Alas, no outlet, pundit, or model could have foretold the 2020 presidential election’s outcome. 

At approximately 7:01 PM, every single state went gray after certifying their unanimous winner—no one. For the first time in American history since the Lay’s Potato Chip Flavor Bracket, not a single United States citizen cast a vote. A visibly shaken Wolf Blitzer announced a surprise 3-day marathon of The Office instead of election coverage.

As the United States government collapsed upon itself, the Bald Spot’s team of political reporters took to the streets to make sense of this impending catastrophe. For some non-voters, such as Northfield resident Omar Cochran, the free world ends not with a bang but with a laugh:

“Man, really? You serious? That is crazy. You know, I was gonna write in Bernie. Can you imagine? [laughs] But, yeah. Just didn’t wanna have to choose between the lesser of two evils.”

Next, we visited Cochran’s neighbors, the Bellamys, who have a Biden-Harris sign in their yard. “What? No, no, you can’t be serious,” Carina Bellamy said, a glass of iced tea trembling in her hand. “He was supposed to—GERALD! Why the hell didn’t you vote? You had three months!”

“I thought you said you was gonna vote!” a kitchen-bound voice thundered back.

“No, Gerald! You know, I really wish you would listen to me more often. I ask you to do one darn thing, and now the government has fallen!”

“So what about the damn government? You wore that same skirt with the flowers on it to the Birnbaums’ three nights in a row!”

One anonymous student we passed on the way to town told us, “I saw all these get-out-the-vote posts all over Instagram, so I was like ‘Yeah, okay, our democracy’s gonna live to fight another day.’ I guess—I guess it’s not gonna, huh.”

“I didn’t even go to the Electoral College. My SAT was too low,” another student chimed in.

Putting the public behind us, the Bald Spot’s election analysis team embarked on the long drive to the heart of Washington D.C., where the mood was stoic and, in fact, non-existent. It was out behind the Capitol where we encountered a moving sight: a dark-suited procession, its members disproportionately wealthy, white, male, and elderly, standing before a solemn bonfire.

Slender flames—rendered sour by the kindling of campaign contributions—cowered before Mitch McConnell’s hollow eyes. “Without the votes that sustain me, it is only a matter of time before I am called back to the earth that rejected me,” he stated grimly.

Newly-former House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi concurred. “Come, join us,” she intoned, “for Congress is adjourned, and a Congressman separated from his Congress is driftwood separated from its stoic tree. So let us drift downstream into the great beyond.” 

At that, the Congress uprooted itself and marched into the distance until they became indistinguishable from the lobbyists they once were. We heard the Potomac River gurgling angrily down the drain and the Washington Memorial retracting, with a grumble, into the earth. 

A prison-striped man cackled through the National Mall with the Lincoln Memorial riding piggyback. Who could stop him? There were no more democratically-elected county sheriffs.

President Trump, for his part, has not been seen in public since Election Night, leading some to speculate that he intends to exit public life. 

The only clue he has given us was a tweet from 12:38 AM early this morning: “OVAL OFFICE DOORS CAN FIT HOSE BUT NOT INNER TUBE? PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT, VERY SAD!” 

If you glance out the window just as the sun completes its descent, you may very well see the procession of 535 marching onward—free from their dark money into the darker night.

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Categories: Colleges

Bald Spot announcement: Jack Brown is concussed

Carletonian - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:33pm
Jack Brown What a clown He got concussed He lost our trust He’s now a Libertarian. Bald Spot Brain rot If not before Then surely henceforth. Then it’s official, now: We’re having a cow The Bald Spot’s lost its leftist lean It’s achieved a capitalist gleam: Arma virumque canō, Trōiae quī prīmus ab ōrīs Ītaliam, fātō profugus, Lāvīniaque vēnit lītora, multum ille et terrīs iactātus et altō vī superum saevae memorem Iūnōnis ob īram; multa quoque et bellō passūs, dum conderet urbem, inferretque deōs Latiō, genus unde Latīnum, Albānīque patrēs, atque altae moenia Rōmae.  How now, brown cow, How was Jack Brown smacked on the brow? Mayhaps he was doing his laundry And in quite a quandary As he penned the following, Conscious not of his doom impending: The clothes spin, I put them in the bin, A lonely smile, I wait a while. Mayhaps as his pen left the paper, Only realizing much later That a horde of mice Didn’t think twice Before sweeping him off his feet And making his forehead laundry machine meet. Le smack. Concussèd. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No. We don’t have time for that.  Jack Brown is concussed. 

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Categories: Colleges


Carletonian - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:21pm

The post Germophiles appeared first on The Carletonian.

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Arb Notes: Parsnips are forever — invasive species in the Arb

Carletonian - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:16pm

With winter weather finally on its way, many herbaceous invasive plant species in the Arboretum have died back, but the woody invaders remain. In the summertime, the Arb Crew works almost tirelessly to help eradicate invasive species in their prime to make the Arboretum ecosystem more diverse and safer for Arb users. In the US and across the world, invasive species threaten the balance of the natural environment: often these species are not native to the ecosystem they have invaded, and outcompete native organisms. If not kept in check, invasive species can severely reduce the biodiversity of a particular habitat. The work in the Arboretum is critical to keeping our natural lands in balance.

One such invader is Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). This species is native to Europe, and has caused significant problems in the US. This plant also produces a dangerous chemical: increased contact with the skin makes it very sensitive to UV radiation, and severe sunburns can develop if you are outside for a long time after initial contact. The Arb Crew spends a lot of the summer digging up these plants, armed with spades and protective gear, and collecting any seeds produced by the plant to further decrease chances of any more growing. Data on this species is collected every summer at many locations throughout the upper and lower Arb, and needs to be controlled for the safety of the public.

Two other problem plants are Honeysuckle species and European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), both of which are woody plants. These two species have taken over a considerable amount of the Arboretum, and are very difficult to control, as they have nothing keeping them in check. 

These plants must be cut down, as their root systems are very difficult to pull out from the ground, and then killed with herbicide. This work is slow and tedious, but it is necessary for the sake of the ecosystem. 

The work of eradication of invasive species is an ever-ongoing project, and there is still so much to do. Educating yourself about invasive species affecting your area is one of the best things you can do. Community efforts and understanding is necessary to protect our natural habitats against invasive species.

The post Arb Notes: Parsnips are forever — invasive species in the Arb appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

City Council Meeting

City of Northfield Calendar - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 4:52pm
Event date: November 17, 2020
Event Time: 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

City Council Meeting

City of Northfield Calendar - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 4:39pm
Event date: November 17, 2020
Event Time: 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

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