Life, as seen on TV

Jordan Javelet

Contributing Editor

Today as I was walking through Best Buy, one of the biggest televisions in the store caught my eye. It was a Samsung LED television that boasted a 65 inch display, vibrant color definition, and an image quality that made the video of New York City that was displayed on the screen look as real as if I were actually in New York. But what really caught my eye—in fact, the only reason I even bothered stopping—was the fact that the television was curved.

     A salesman approached me and started listing off the details of the television (as if a college student could possibly afford the $3,000 price tag), and I listened even though I wasn’t really interested in making a purchase. I just wanted to look at the pretty picture of New York for a few seconds before continuing on my way.

     As I was brainstorming ways to make a quick escape from the salesman, he said something that caught my attention: “Really,” he said, “this is the best image quality out there. In

fact, with the color enhancing technology in this device, it gives you a picture that is better than real life.”

     If there was any phrase that was going to convince me not to buy that television, it was that one. And worse yet, as I studied the image on the screen, which had switched to a colorful view of Prague, I was tempted to agree with the salesman. The reds were brighter, the blues richer. The definition made every window in the city visible in a way that the human brain could never process even as the eye saw it, and the cars on the street took on a spectacular, lively potential as they sped through the city and wove between buildings.

     Suddenly, in the middle of Best Buy, I was having an existential crisis hinging on the existence of a television that makes a picture that is better than real life. If I could purchase a television like that, there would be no point in traveling or even in leaving my house, right? I would be able to sit on my couch and display an image of the Great Barrier Reef, and I wouldn’t have to get a SCUBA certification or be worried about all the animals that would probably be trying to kill me as I swam around the Australian waters. I could display the summit of Mount Everest without having to fly across the world and actually climb it. Worst of all, I could play a sitcom on the screen and stay in my house pretending that I had actual friends. After all, the picture is better than real life, right? Why even bother with real life if I can get a better picture on a screen?

     Spelled out this way, it’s obvious that there are flaws in this sort of reasoning. Despite the fact that people are making televisions with displays that are better than real life, I’m sure we can all agree that there is an important distinction between real life and what technology suggests real life might be. Anyone on Instagram knows that social media would be dull and pointless without filters, owns that the whole network is an exercise in posturing as more interesting than you really are. In fact, the more you look at any sort of technology, the more it feels like technology reduces real life into a series of images.

     In 1928, René Magritte painted a work called “The Treachery of Images” (French: “La trahison des images”) in which he painted a pipe and captioned it “Ceci n’est une pipe.”: “This is not a pipe.” Perhaps for the next few years, people will remember that televisions and Facebook and the internet are not real life, and perhaps for the next few years, people will maintain their interest in real-world living. But it is not hard to imagine a world in which people stop thinking this way; as Chuck Klosterman says in his book “Eating the Dinosaur,” “We are latently enslaved by our own ingenuity, and we have unknowingly constructed a simulated world…the benefits of technology are easy to point out…but they do not compensate for the overall loss of humanity that is its inevitable consequence.”

     Technology raises important questions of authenticity and truth. A television can display New York City in a beautiful and artistic (read: color enhanced) way, but what is shown on the screen cannot convey the energy of a hundred thousand people walking shoulder to shoulder down Fifth Avenue. It cannot convey the human spirit of New York City.

     Maybe the Best Buy salesman was right: a curved television can produce an image that is better than real life. But I do not want my life to become a series of images on a color-enhanced LED display, curved or not. I want to walk down Fifth Avenue. I want to touch the shoulders of the people I pass. I want to make contact with humanity.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Too #trendy?

Sarah Hochberg

Opinion Editor

Over the summer, a new charitable organization hit the Facebook “trending” ticker. The ALS Ice Bucket challenge went viral during summer 2014, convincing 2.4 million Facebook users to douse themselves in icy water for the good of the cause. Users would get a bucket filled with water and ice cubes, and dump it on their heads or donate $100 to the ALS Association. Then they nominate 2-4 friends to do the same. In my opinion, this is a wonderful public advocacy campaign, and other charities should follow suit. To date there have been 2.4 million Facebook posts and 3.7 million videos uploaded with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge (www.bbc.com).

The posts and videos are meant to raise awareness and donations for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association. ALS, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” is a neurodegenerative

disease that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The motor neurons slowly die and the brain loses the ability to initiate and control muscle movement. Patients in later stages of this disease can become totally paralyzed. Early symptoms of ALS often include muscle weakness, speech problems, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. When muscles begin to atrophy, they no longer function proper-ly and can look “thinner”.(www.alsa.org)

Skeptics of the #icenucketchallenge argue it’s too trendy, people are being environmentally wasteful, and it’s not actually helping. I argue that the Ice Bucket Challenge is, in the end, doing much more positive than negative for the cause and other charities should strive to attempt a similar media fad. I’ve seen videos of people using rain water, cold shower water, or substituting an “ice bucket” with sand or grass to raise awareness about one of California’s worst droughts in history. There are eco-friendly ways of fulfilling the challenge. I also agree that this is a short-lived movement, but it’s getting the job done. Donations to the ALS Association have gone from $2.7 million to $98.2 million over the course of a summer.

Similar organizations in Britain have also received these benefits. Sure, this will probably not continue, and yes, people are not giving from the goodness of their hearts, but the ALS Association is still receiving higher donations than ever before. Big-time celebrities and local families are opening their wallets for a cause that could truly use the money. It may not be a “genuine” charitable gift, but the money is still being raised for research and other aide.

Getting people who are not personally affected by a disease to donate their extra spending money is no small feat. And while there are criticisms and drawbacks to the challenge, I believe that in the end the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought much needed funds to a worthy cause, and other charities should strive towards creating a similar media buzz.

Reel talk with Annie: “Boyhood”

Annie Schwartz

Staff Writer

“Boyhood” is a film that all college students should see and experience as soon as possible. It is a time capsule of our generation and a fantastic depiction of who we are and who we were as American adolescents growing up in the 21st century. “Boyhood” is a coming of age film written and directed by Richard Linklater, known for his movies like “Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused,” and the “Before” trilogy. The anticipation for this film began when Linklater released that he would be shooting a twelve-year epic in his hometown of Houston, Texas. From 2002 to 2013, the cast would reassemble each summer to shoot what was originally referred to as the 12 Year Project.

Linklater wanted to tell a story of, “a parent-child relationship that follows a boy from the first through 12th grade and ends with his going off to college.” Cast as that young boy was six-year-old Ellar Coltrane who would unknowingly become the star of one of the most ingenious films of its time. The only problem with casting a six-year-old as the star of an ambitious twelve-year tale was that Coltrane would ultimately grow up in ways that Linklater could not predict. However, Linklater was willing, “to adapt the story to whatever [Coltrane was] going through.”

With a rough outline in his head, Linklater did not bother to write an entire script. Scenes would be written the night before a shoot, incorporating the thoughts and ideas of the cast into this collaborative process. The film begins with six-year-old Mason Jr. and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, daughter of Richard) living with their struggling single mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Trials and tribulations are inevitable as we see the family grow and change over the years.

Unlike other films, we have never seen characters grow so drastically in such a small span of time. The years fly by in a blur as certain elements mark the progression of time. As a prepubescent tween, Samantha is seen wearing the dreadful outfits from Limited Too that we all yearned for at some point in our lives. Computers and antiquated Gameboys trigger our memory, while music ranging from Blink 182 to Soulja Boy plays in the background. These detailed aspects of the film are what make Boyhood so pertinent to our generation. Not only did these things influence Mason’s childhood, but they influenced ours as well. Comparisons do not just stop at the cultural and material. Relatable issues such as divorce, abuse, adolescence, and sex are openly discussed as Mason continuously attempts to discover his true identity. As an audience we can all sympathize with the struggle of overcoming adolescence and rising to adulthood, simultaneously facing our fears of the unknown and the uncertainties of our futures.

Witnessing this growth, “Boyhood” is an examination of the human condition. The film emphasizes the fact that there is no norm in society. While we may come from many different walks of life, we can all relate to both the hardships and achievements in life.

It is clear that “Boyhood” is a film unlike any other and it is shocking that a concept such as this had not been explored earlier. Perhaps Linklater’s originality will spark a new trend of showing time progression in film. Whatever the case may be, it will be Linklater accredited with a sense of originality. After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2014, “Boyhood” has received much critical acclaim. Not only is the film recommended for its visuals and technique, but also for its deep and moving storyline. “Boyhood” is without a doubt one of the best movies of 2014, and will hopefully receive continued success as award season approaches later this year.

New Doctor, new season

Siobhan Dempsey

Staff Writer

On August 23, a new series, usually known as a season, of “Doctor Who” premiered. The term “series” is used for the “Doctor Who” seasons from 2005 on to avoid confusing these seasons with the early seasons from 1963—89.  At the end of last series, the time travelling Doctor (then played by Matt Smith) “regenerated,” or changed his appearance, allowing the Doctor to now be played by Peter Capaldi in what is known as the Doctor’s 12th regeneration. He would actually be the 13th regeneration, but this is due to a regeneration played by John Hurt being added in between the 8th regeneration, played by Paul McGann, and the 9th regeneration, played by Christopher Eccelston, in the 50th anniversary special that aired last year. On a historical note, the concept that the Doctor could “regenerate” was created when the original Doctor, William Hartnell, couldn’t continue in the role any more and the producers needed to figure out a way to continue the show without him.

It’s time to go back to the present decade: on August 23rd, 9.17 million British viewers tuned in to see how Peter Capaldi would fill the shoes of the twelve men who came before him.

In this episode, the amnesiac and confused Doctor (Capaldi), having just regenerated, his traveling companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) and their time machine (called the TARDIS or Time and Relative Dimension in Space) end up in Victorian London, accidentally taking a T-Rex along with them.  The duo meet up with private detectives Madame Vastra, a lizard woman from the dawn of time, Jenny, her human wife, and Strax, a war focused alien soldier. They solve the mystery of why people in Victorian London (and eventually the T-Rex) appear to be spontaneously combusting. Without spoiling the ending entirely, the solution to the mystery is an excellent callback to a series two episode.

Capaldi’s Doctor is grumpy, Scottish and exceedingly likely to take unwarranted potshots at his companion. Even with that annoying habit (which may be a writer’s quirk) the 12th Doctor comes off as intelligent and funny due to the way that Capaldi fully inhabits the character. Peter Capaldi grew up loving Doctor Who, and it shows. In summary, I was a bit disappointed with the writing in this episode but I have hope for the show to improve in the future based on how well Capaldi did in this episode.

Global: the Syria conflict

Clay Berg

Staff Writer

War has been raging in Syria for over three years, and an end to hostilities looks more remote now than it did when protesters were asking for democratic control amid the successes of the Arab Spring. After the death of over 200,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more, little progress has been made by any side.

The old regime holds power in the capitol of Damascus and most of southern Syria. Rebel groups control significant territories in the north. These Rebel groups are, however, severely fractured from each other and conflict between them is frequent and deadly. Attempting to unite them is the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Pro-democracy and moderately pro western, the members of this coalition started the militant revolution and are generally supported by the west. Also combating the Syrian government, but with entirely different goals, are Islamic extremists, many of whom have ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Recently, a group known as the Islamic State (IS) has emerged. Their leadership splintered from al Qaeda and they are now attempting to establish a Sunni caliphate in Iraq and Syria. They have made major gains in both countries. Also involved are the Kurds. The Kurds control land in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran and are a major ethnic and political force. They have been fighting for their own state since the end of the Second World War. First they fought against the governments of the countries they live in and now, the Islamic State. All of these groups are well armed and increasingly well trained.

In the west, there has been an ongoing debate on how to handle the situation. Most foreign policy experts, including former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, agree that arming revolutionaries before Islamic extremists had the chance to unify would have helped put an end to the war sooner. This would have ended with more favorable results to both the west and the people of Syria. The situation is now too uncertain to arm any side without equipment falling into the hands of terrorist organizations.

The west has had one victory in the conflict. After a string of chemical weapons attacks on mostly civilian targets, the United States, Iran, and Russia were able to remove all declared chemical weapons from Syria and safely destroy them. There could still be chemical weapons hidden is Syria, but whoever uses them would be demonized by the international community and would likely face western military intervention.

With the expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq, the question of Syria only becomes more complex. The US is now allying with Kurdish forces to fight the extremists. Both Iran and the Syrian Government have voiced support for American actions. This begs the question, are the enemies of your enemies your friends? In the past the US has answered “yes,” but in light of the clear human rights violations perpetrated by IS, including crucifixion and beheading non-Muslims in the streets, the US has begun bombing IS targets in Iraq.

The next step would be to expand US military operations into Syria. Both Israel and the United Kingdom have voiced willingness to conduct air strikes, and both have the capacity to do so.

Where does this leave the people of Syria? In war torn and besieged cities eating grass to survive; in refugee camps in the surrounding countries that often lack the most basic services and are always over-crowded; and all too often, killed.

Healthy Living: What does Goucher have against exercise?

Dani Meir-Levi

Staff Writer

Am I the only one who likes the feeling after an insane run? Am I the only one who finds exercising and lifting to be the one time of the day where I don’t have to think? Am I the only one who is bothered by the decreasing hours in the SRC? It’s amazing that I find myself now having to join LA Fitness, which is not only inconvenient, but is also a financial hindrance. In this day and age, it is so blatantly obvious how important exercise is to one’s daily routine. In college specifically, exercise is vital.

    A recent study at Tufts University found that students who said they exercised at least 3 days a week were more likely to report a better state of physical health and greater happiness than those who didn’t exercise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people get at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity most days of the week. The Institute of Medicine has proven that exercise can significantly improve cognitive abilities, academic performance, as well as health. If science and medicine are recognizing the importance of healthy living, why is Goucher limiting it?

    Health and wellness is one of the most fundamental and critical issues on college campuses. Between the lack of sleep and heavy amounts of stress, Goucher should be promoting the idea of a healthy life. The decreased hours restricts students in the time they have to exercise. Not to mention the fact that the SRC has been noticeably more crowded due to the shortened hours.

    Time is one thing that a student never wants to waste. We all have a specific time in our day that doesn’t involve studying, doing homework, watching Netflix, or eating almond butter with a spoon (or maybe

that’s just me). My point is that everyone has a different schedule. For the athletic department to significantly decrease the hours of the gym is extremely inconsiderate to the student body. If it’s a cost issue, it would be a better idea if some money were to go towards increasing the hours of the SRC instead of wasting it on random 24 mile per hour signs along the road. For those of you who are lost without your daily run, lift, or occasional visit to the SRC, I will be starting a petition to have the hours better suited to students’ needs. Let’s make Goucher a healthy campus!

New SRC Hours

This Semester:

Monday-Friday:

9am-9pm

Saturday-Sunday:

Noon-9pm

Tilling it Like it Is: The new queens of green

Todd Troester

Staff Writer

Goucher College has come into a year of change. The old ways are getting a taste of something new. Just last week GESAC(Goucher Environmental Student Advisory Council) announced two new co-chairs. Therese Neal, Associate Director of Operations and Budget of FMS has been a member of GESAC since its conception in 2007. Neal has returned as Co-Chair after a year’s hiatus. She is joined by Gina Shamshak, Assistant Professor of Economics and adviser to Goucher’s Agricultural Cooperative. Shamshak brings a fresh perspective, new ideas, and a commitment to Goucher College that matches the commitment of Neal.

The addition of Shamshak’s new blood to the long-standing GESAC organization comes at a slight cost. The biggest struggle, says Shamshak, is the learning curve. “There’s a lot to do,” Shamshak states, but she indicates that she’s ready and able to do everything required in order to be an excellent Co-Chair. Neal also expresses the difficulty of balancing all the responsibilities of GESAC and the Green Fund with that of the abundant responsibilities of her position in FMS.

Learning a new system isn’t the only worry of the new Co-Chairs. With rising tuition and departmental cutbacks the GESAC team is concerned with the inherent costs of new programs and policies. “Doing more with less,” will be a common theme for GESAC, states Shamshak. Although innovation isn’t a new concept for the pair, “We’re ready to find the best way to achieve the common goal,” says Neal. Further, Shamshak’s economic expertise is sure to help balance what is most economically feasible with what is most environmentally sustainable.

Neal and Shamshak are excited for the new academic year. Neal discusses the opportunities: “We want to broaden campus involvement and make GESAC more inclusive.” Shamshak also plays with the idea of “expanding GESAC’s scope” to more students and possibly the community outside Goucher College. The pair also expressed the need for GESAC to get back on track and start creating policies and putting them in writing. There is also a need for advertisement. “We do so much for the environment but we struggle to advertise,” says the pair. “Goucher is green at heart,” declares Shamshak, “and it’s about time we start telling people.”

To learn more about GESAC, the Green Fund, and what Goucher is doing for the environment search “Sustainability” on the Goucher home page!

Goucher Fact of the Week: last year Goucher College’s compost program diverted 47.023 tons of its food waste out of the landfill to transform it into compost.

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