Archive for the 'Issue 1' Category

Competition in the Classroom

Max Mackinnon

“Competition” in the classroom has taken over, creating an environment where learning is no longer of primary concern. At this point, it is beyond any doubt in my mind that the mastering of a certain subject or concept is no longer any student’s first priority. It has become about making yourself look better or sound smarter than the person sitting next to you, whether that person is your best friend or someone who you had never seen until the first day of class. Where kids once walked into the classroom with a goal of absorbing and analyzing as much material as possible, we now see a stage where each individual looks to display his or her knowledge and abilities, trying to stand out as the best and brightest. I think it is time to look beyond the other students in the classroom and throw away competitive, bitter feelings. Do not measure yourself against your fellow students. Accomplish goals and look to learn for learning’s sake.

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Why “The Departed” Was Indeed the Best Picture

Daniel Roberts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences should not allow external forces to influences its decisions, but it does. In 2005 Crash won Best Picture, despite the fact that Brokeback Mountain, Munich and Capote were all better movies with more outstanding performances and thought-provoking plotlines. Crash was just a jumbled soup of race-related events that tricked Academy voters into thinking it was boldly attacking a controversial issue.

Finally, this year, the film that was truly the “best” actually won the statue. No, The Departed did not attempt to make any grand, sweeping political statement, but focused only on keeping viewers enthralled. And yet that’s a lofty enough goal—not all great movies need to do more than that. Scorsese perfected every aspect of filmmaking in this gem. The acting was stellar— I’m convinced that Leonardo DiCaprio is the best actor in Hollywood right now, and I also felt Mark Wahlberg should have snagged Best Supporting Actor. In addition, the movie captured Boston’s collective “mood” like no other film ever has, except maybe for Mystic River. The dialogue was tense and concise, and there was never a dull moment.

Among many others, one particular moment comes to mind as representative of the film’s excellence, and of its narrative complexity. Madolyn (Vera Farmiga) has opened up the envelope that Billy (DiCaprio), now dead, has given her. She pops in the audio CD while Colin (Matt Damon) is in the shower, and we watch her listen to the recording of Colin talking to Frank Costello (Nicholson) and plotting things. Madolyn doesn’t even necessarily know about Frank or recognize his voice, but she’s smart enough to be able to tell that something very bad is going on and that it has major implications about the man she’s soon to marry (but clearly doesn’t love). She doesn’t know quite what to do—she can’t freak out, since she realizes that she’s now in danger. But she knows she must do something. It’s a powerful scene, and one that suggests a popcorn action flick also needs good acting. This one has it, in spades. And this is to say nothing of other nail-biting, heart-wrenching moments like when Martin Sheen’s character gets tossed from a building and Costigan must keep walking and not indulge his grief, or when Farmiga cries at Costigan’s funeral and Colin sees it, realizes there was something going on.

I think a movie’s value should be judged only by the movie itself, not by some outside influence, such as which hot current issue the film purports to deal with. The Departed was breathtaking and magnificent—and forget all that, it was just plain fun—and it was indeed the Best Picture of 2006.

For a counterpoint: Why ‘The Departed’ Was Not the Best Picture

Racism Still Alive

Josh Wessler

In a discussion about presidential candidate Barack Obama, the question of race will inevitably come up. Pundits dissect his family tree: his mother is from Kansas, his father is Kenyan. Is he African-American? American? African? Black? White? His middle name is Hussein!

Take a recent article in the Washington Post, for example. The issue on everyone’s mind (mainly because the pollsters dwell on it), is about whether Obama can transcend the racial divide. How come these questions are never asked about the other candidates?

Is Edwards too white?

Gosh, I think Mitt Romney needs to lighten up on the race card. He doesn’t want to seem too pale…

Instead, the media remarks on how well Obama speaks to both races. Yet, Clinton won’t lose the white vote if she neglects blacks. And John McCain isn’t worried about appearing too much like an everyman. He (like the rest of the presidential candidates) is white, and unlike Obama, he doesn’t have to clarify his race.

Some say we’re in a new era of race relations. But we’re still asking the same old questions. And that’s a real shame.

Intellectual Snobbery

Jeff Klein

You know what really gets on my nerves? The intellectual snobs at Middlebury. Those who feel the need to continually tell people about the 75-page thesis they are currently writing. Those who will bust out a comment like, “I completed 15 pages of my paper earlier, but now I’m being totally unproductive. I have to get back to work.” Those who look down upon people that choose to go out and have a good time on Friday and Saturday nights (and Wednesdays, if you go to Wednesday Night Beirut). Hey, relax. There’s nothing wrong with chilling out and having some fun every once in a while. Of course, work is important; we wouldn’t be at Middlebury if we didn’t feel that way. But there’s more to life than work, and if you don’t feel that way, you’re missing out.

An Unnoticed Waste of Energy

Connor Burleigh

Middlebury claims to be very eco-friendly, but even having been here for only 3 months, I can already see gaps in college policy. Every light in every hallway in every residential building is on 24/7. This is a ridiculous waste of energy. I realize that the there must be a permanent source of lighting in the halls, but it can’t be that hard to put the lights on motion sensors, which would significantly reduce wasted energy. I realize that it would be an expensive project, but it is not like we do not have the money. If the college is as committed to eco-friendliness as it claims, it would be worth the cost.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Jessie Woodwell Bush, Middlebury Class of 1945

I call attention to the misguided “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.  It has caused a critical loss of language experts in the military.

Alan Simpson, a professor at the University of Wyoming, has called a change in military policy “long overdue.” He echoes the disturbing news reported by Nathaniel Frank in 2004 regarding 88 language specialists (many of them Arabic-language translators and interrogators) booted out of the Army since 1998 because they were gay. That is a shocking loss, since Arabic language skills are desperately needed.

I feel that Middlebury College, a leader in the study of languages, should be concerned about the loss of language experts in our military.

When “Shock” Events Overshadow the Shock of Everyday Tragedy

Name Withheld at the Request of the Author

The shooting at Virginia Tech is a tragedy; 33 students were killed, which is the most Americans ever killed in a single shooting spree. President Liebowitz fittingly said, “It is appropriate that we gather here today to share our sense of grief.” It was also appropriate for President Bush to offer federal assistance to the school.

It strikes me, though, that no one heard any talk of the 18,000 children who died from hunger today. And yesterday. And the 18,000 who will die tomorrow. I think we must also keep them in mind.

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