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Denebola » Nathan Yeo http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 Aldermen approve synthetic turf fields http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/aldermen-approve-synthetic-turf-fields/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/aldermen-approve-synthetic-turf-fields/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2008 05:40:54 +0000 Nathan Yeo http://denebolaonline.net/denebola/?p=502 With more than 50 Newton South athletes clad in orange and blue jerseys, jackets, and sweatshirts to show their support, the Board of Aldermen last Monday approved a $5 million plan to build two synthetic turf fields at Newton South and renovate the track.

Though during parts of the meeting the athletes passed their time solving logarithms, conjugating Spanish verbs, and reading Hawthorne as they sat on the long wooden benches in the cavernous main chamber of City Hall, when the Board of Aldermen approved the $5 million plan, they, along with coaches, school administrators, and parents, jumped to their feet and cheered.

The Board of Aldermen has discussed the installation of synthetic turf, or Newturf, fields at Newton South for almost 10 years. Over the past three, the Board drafted several design plans, conducted a drainage study, held 32 public meetings, and received input from both South and the Newton community at large.

The 20-4 vote in favor of the plan means that construction on the synthetic turf fields will begin on May 1, and will be finished next September, according to Athletic Director Scott Perrin. The construction will displace some South teams, forcing them onto offsite playing fields such as Weeks. Many teams, however, already play at offsite locations.

“Once [the fields are] built, we will have tremendous home arena, Perrin said after the vote. Before the Aldermen approved the plan, Perrin was skeptical that the vote would go through. Now, he says he feels “lighter.

The plan will create two multi-purpose synthetic turf fields, one situated on the location of the current football practice field, and the other in the middle of the track that is shared by South, Brown Middle School, and Oak Hill Middle School.

According to Perrin, the fields will have dedicated lines for football, soccer, and boy’s lacrosse, but can have temporary lines for other sports as well.

In order to accommodate the field in the middle of the track, the track itself will have to be expanded, for the field currently in the middle is not regulation width. This will allow the track to be expanded and repaired; fixing the potholes that have prevented Newton South from holding home meets at the track.

Athletes at the meeting included some members of South’s extremely successful track and field and cross-country teams. They said they were particularly excited the prospect of a new track.

“We’re one of the best teams with the worst track, junior Maddie Willard said. “We work hard everyday, and we deserved a track that doesn’t have potholes.

In addition, the plan will fence off the baseball field and re-sod it to improve the quality of the grass. Perrin said he would have preferred a synthetic turf baseball field, which was included in one of the original plans, but the Board would not approve it.

The athletes unanimously expressed joy at the plan’s approval and recounted problems on the current grass fields. Junior Luke Voss-Kernan, a three-season athlete who play soccer and runs both indoor and outdoor track described how soccer balls stop in puddles on the fields, as well as the having to run on the uneven track.

Senior and lacrosse player Joey Ives recounted how his shins would get “torn apart every practice by the rough, uneven ground.

The city will pay for the fields with $3.2 million raised through ten year bonds, as well as $1.5 million in funds from Newton’s Community Preservation Committee. In addition, the Board established a fund dedicated to the maintenance of the fields with a seed amount of $500,000 to be augmented by city and private contributions.

When Board members got a chance to debate the bill, Aldermen Susan Johnson turned and faced the assembled crowd, pledging to vote for the turf fields if the athletes in return pledged to raise money for the maintenance fund through bake sales and car washes. Almost every athlete raised their hand, as did their parents and coaches.

Most of the public speeches made by the Aldermen were in support of the bill. Aldermen and mayoral candidate Ken Parker, who has been one of the leading proponents of the bill, said the Board needed to approve the turf fields “not just for our current students, but for our future students and leaders as well.

Numerous Aldermen spoke about how the fields would be cost effective in the long term because they require less maintenance than grass fields and also how turf fields would allow more athletes to play home games.

In addition, some Aldermen spoke about how new fields would instill a sense of pride in South’s athletes. Alderman Cheryl Lappin described that during her time at South almost 30 years ago, the fields were constantly being flooded, a problem that still occurs today.

“Instead of our athletes being embarrassed, let’s make them proud, she said.

Even some longtime opponents of the plan, such as Aldemen Steven Lindsky and Jay Harney voted for the plan despite their desire to only have one synthetic turf field. They praised what they said was progress in the plan’s design, which evolved from being almost 5 acres of turf to now just two fields.

Alderman Ted Hess-Mahan, the plan’s leading opponent, said he was concerned about thalite, a toxic chemical recently banned by Congress in toys, in the turf’s crumb rubber, which he believes could poison athletes and potentially seep into the ground. He said he was also concerned about how turf fields capture heat, creating what he called “heat islands.

“I still hope I am wrong, he said. “ I am just afraid that we will have to approve more money to fix these mistakes.

As an alternative he proposed another type of turf, one made of synthetic fibers, which, he said, do not contain thalites or capture heat. When his proposal was not adopted, he declared he would “vote his conscious and voted against the plan.

Before he spoke, however, he acknowledged that his views were unpopular. He asked the crowd not to throw shoes at him, a reference to a recent incident where an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush. The crowd laughed.

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Quick and painless: Nose studs pierce South student body http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/quick-and-painless-nose-studs-pierce-south-student-body/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/quick-and-painless-nose-studs-pierce-south-student-body/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2008 17:23:07 +0000 Nathan Yeo http://denebolaonline.net/denebola/?p=595 Instead of begging her parents for money, an iPhone, or a car for her seventeenth birthday, Newton South junior Annie Orenstein got a needle stuck through her nose.

A few months ago, Orenstein and her mother walked into Almoda Jewelry and Body Piercing at the Arsenal Mall in Watertown and paid for a nose piercing. Orenstein followed a body piercer into a back room where he cleaned her nose and drew a dot on her nostril. She nodded her approval and the piercer quickly jabbed a stainless steel needle into the left side of her nose. The wound hurt, but only briefly.

When Orenstein walked out of the store, she wore a silver stud in the new hole in her nose.

“I think it’s really classy, she said. Several of her friends and family had already gotten nose piercings and she had really liked the look.

“You get something that’s unique, but reserved, she said of her piercing. “It’s not out there.

Orenstein’s birthday gift is not particularly unusual. An increasing number of young women, including girls at Newton South High School, are getting nose piercings, the latest trend in body art.

Long associated with India, where they are seen as a sign of beauty and social standing, nose piercings gained popularity in the United States with the hippie culture of the 1970s.

Since that time, nose piercing has been strongly associated with the punk subculture. Over the past several years, however, nose piercing has taken off amongst teen girls and young women. This rise has correlated with a growing popular acceptance of all piercings.

Junior Becca Goldstein got a clear crystal nose stud on the right side of her nose for her 16th birthday. For her, the appeal of a nose piercing was its distinctiveness.

“When I saw someone with a nose piercing, she said. “I always thought, they’re so artsy, they’re so different.

Senior Maddie Sharton had thought about getting a nose piercing for several years, before they rose in popularity. Last December, she went to the Chameleon Tattoo & Body Piercing store in Harvard Square and got a silver nose stud.

While other girls have demurred from getting nose piercings so far, some express interest or are planning to get them soon. As soon as senior Ally Bernstein gets into college, she says she is going to get a nose ring.

“They are so cool, she said.

At Stingray Body Art, a tattoo and body piercing shop in Allston, roughly half of Kristina Kelly’s piercing jobs are nose piercings. Most of her customers are young women at college in the Boston area, but some are as young as 14, legally the youngest age to get a piercing with parental consent.

Kelly, who has dyed red hair and a piercing in both nostrils, has noticed that body piercing, and nose piercing in particular, has exploded in popularity over the past several years.

“It’s not the same as it was five years ago, she said. “Piercing is becoming a lot more socially acceptable, and nose piercing may soon be as acceptable as ear piercing.

When someone comes in for a piercing, Kelly helps them pick out a ring or a stud and sits them down in a black leather chair in a back room plastered with posters on lime-green wall paint. She swabs their nose with disinfectant and marks the spot of the piercing with dye. She then sticks a hollow metal half-tube into the nostril to prevent her needle, steam-sterilized at 275° F, from piercing the customer’s nasal septum as well. Then, with a count of three, she stabs the needle through the customer’s nose.

“It’s like a shot, only through your nose, one girl with a piercing said.

Goldstein and Orenstein both did not experience any pain during their piercings, but their noses did hurt a lot afterwards.

According to Kelly, if people do not take proper care of their piercings, they could face an infection and a lot more pain. She recommends soaking the area around the piercing with sea salt to prevent any infections.

A woman opened the door of Stingray Body Art and showed Kelly her ear, which had recently been pierced and was very red. She said she thought the piercing was infected and complained that it looked “gross.

“No it’s not, Kelly said. “It’s fine. Just put some sea salt on it.

A silver or crystal stud is the visible part of a piercing, but there is another part of the piercing inside the nose called the screw, which prevents the stud from falling out. After piercing the nose, Kelly inserts the stud, screw end first, into the needle’s hollow backing, and when she pulls the needle through the hole, she twists it to get the screw through.

The screw does not always work. After Sharton got her nose stud, it fell out as she washed her face. The piercing hole closed, and she had to get her nose re-pierced several weeks later.

Girls with piercings say the pieces of metal inside their noses cause little irritation. Goldstein says she cannot feel it, even when she blows her nose.

Soon, some girls with piercings say, nose studs will become as common as ear piercings.

“Everyone has their ears pierced, Goldstein said. “Now, everyone has their nose pierced.

Nose piercing has not reached the same level of cultural acceptance as ear piercings, Kelly believes, but things are “heading in that direction.

One indication that mainstream culture has not quite accepted nose piercings yet is the strong sale of retainers at Stingray Body Art. Retainers are clear plastic studs designed to hide piercings during formal occasions such as job interviews, where a nose piercing might count against the applicant.

Workplaces often have dress codes that forbid any piercing beyond the ears. Lauren Mixon, an employee at the Pasco County Tax Collecter’s Office in Land O’Lakes, Florida, had to quit her job because her supervisors ordered her to remove a nose stud. They claimed it was against company policy barring “extreme jewelry.

Kelly also thinks that many more traditional parents are not as responsive to cultural trends. One common refrain from Stingray’s customers: “My mom is going to kill me!

While the stud is the most common type of nose piercing, rings have also become more popular. Actress Scarlett Johansson has a ring through her septum, for example. In contrast to the stud, however, nose rings are more visible and have a bit of a different connotation.

Orenstein said she did not want to get a ring because she thought it would be too “punkish.

“That’s really not what I am going for, she said.

Kelly said that rings are not necessarily associated with punk culture, but she could understand the distinction.

“A lot of people like studs because they are small and subtle, she said. “[Rings] aren’t edgier, they are just more obvious.

Sharton said she would consider getting a ring at some point. While changing between different nose studs and rings is not as common as switching earrings, it is very easy to do after a six-week healing period.

At Stingray Body Art, there is a price disparity between rings, which cost $35, and studs, which cost $45.

Despite the growing popularity of piercings, there is one aspect of the process that does not change with time: the pain.

Stingray customers consistently ask Kelly, “Does it hurt? To avoid repeating herself, she taped a sign on the wall of the piercing room that reads, “YES, IT F@$#!&G HURTS!!

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After two swastikas, calls for tolerance http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/11/26/after-two-swastikas-calls-for-tolerance/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/11/26/after-two-swastikas-calls-for-tolerance/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2008 07:20:01 +0000 Nathan Yeo http://denebolaonline.net/wordpress/?p=458 news.jpg

Following last week’s discovery of a two swastikas at places of worship in Newton, about 200 members of the Newton community gathered at an outdoor rally Sunday at Temple Shalom in West Newton to denounce hatred and promote equality and tolerance.

Members of Temple Shalom’s congregation discovered a black swastika spray painted on their temple sign as they arrived for bar and bat mitzvahs on November 15. On Wednesday, passersby also discovered another swastika drawn in marker and inside of a heart on the curb near Eliot Church. Both acts of vandalism were widely denounced as hate crimes.

“We’re incredibly touched, honored and feel embraced by the outpouring of support from the community, Temple Shalom Rabbi Eric Gurvis, the rally’s main speaker, said to the assembled crowd of his congregants, local residents, police officers, and elected officials. “This is, as I see it, Newton at its best.

Mayor David Cohen, who prayed at Temple Shalom after hearing of the incident, denounced the vandalism and the hate he said it represented.

“The only thing we will not tolerate is intolerance, he said.

Cohen also called on the community to take the appearance of the swastika, which he called the “epitome and embodiment of evil, and turn it into a renewed dedication to diversity and tolerance in the city.

“We are here to reaffirm our commitment to diversity, he said. “Not merely a tolerance of differences among us, but an appreciation of them.

The Newton Police are still investigating the nature of the two hate crimes. So far, they have said the two incidents do not appear to be connected.

The City of Newton has pledged a reward of $4,000 for anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest of the perpetrators of the hate crime. The New England Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a member of the Second Church of Newton provided the funds.

ADL member and Temple Shalom congregant Laurie Gainz said that the vandalism was a “reminder that intolerance can be found even in the nicest communities.

Reverend Richard Malmberg of the Second Church in Newton and former chairman of the Newton Interfaith Clergy Association also spoke at the rally, describing the swastika as a “cowardly and vulgar act of vandalism.

“We stand together so that the perpetrator knows that he stands alone and will be held accountable, he said.

Rabbi Gurvis also stressed the need for the rally to serve a “useful purpose beyond denouncing hate. If the community remained “simply angry about the hate crime, he said, nothing would become of it.

“We need to turn our outrage into blessing, Gurvis said.

Gurvis recounted of the story of Isaac, which when translated from Hebrew contains the word “blessing 34 times – Isaac was the first to bless his children, according to the Bible. Gurvis spoke to the need to create a “community of blessing in Newton where city members share their disagreements with “civility and respect, rather than in a divided city filled with “rancor where people might commit hate crimes like the swastika on Temple Shalom’s sign.

Gurvis cited letters to the editors and opinion pieces in the local paper as evidence of an increasingly divided city, as well committee meetings.

“We are better the ugly and hateful rhetoric that is often a part of our city, our country and our world, Gurvis said.

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Welcome to the Blogosphere http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/welcome-to-the-blogosphere/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/welcome-to-the-blogosphere/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2008 07:56:53 +0000 Nathan Yeo http://denebolaonline.net/wordpress/?p=403 The word blog is not really a word at all. It is instead a combination of two words, web and log. These two words describe a blog perfectly: they are logs of people’s thoughts, published on the Web.

Blogs did not exist to any significant effect ten years ago, but now there are over 184 million blogs according to the blogging website Technorati. The reason there are so many is because they are incredibly easy to make. Anyone can take five minutes and download the blogging software WordPress or set up a blog on Blogger.com for free. The collected thoughts, pictures and videos of bloggers have come to be known as the blogosphere.

According to a July report by the Pew Internet & Ameican Life Project, blogging is a growing and fairly mainstream media form. 33 percent of Americans read blogs, 11 percent on a daily basis. 12 percent have their own blog and five percent blog daily.

Blogs can be about anything: pictures of your newborn, the latest celebrity news, scans of your artwork, a diary of your day, thoughts about a favorite team, or all of the above. If you can think about something, you can blog about it.

The area perhaps most affected by blogging, however, is the political word. In 2004, blogs were few and far between’€making the 2008 presidential election first to be fully blogged. Now, anyone who is anyone in the world of politics has a blog: pundits, newspapers, television shows, candidates, and activists.

Political coverage used to be the domain of newspaper reporters and television anchors who only had a certain number of column inches or broadcast minutes to fill with political coverage every day. Blogging has reversed that’€if anything there is too much coverage. The sheer number of words written about the 2008 election, which has been blogged about since 2006, is probably several times the number of words written about all the other American elections combined.

Because blog postings are so short – who is going to read thousands of words online? – blogs pressure newspaper articles to become shorter as well. The New York Times reserved two columns on their Election ‘Ëœ08 pages for a print version of their election blog, The Caucus, where the average article length is about 200 words. Readers seeking more professional election coverage than even the big newspapers can provide can find stories on online political newspapers and blogs like the Politico.

Blogs have also blurred the line between reporters and non-reporters. Mayhill Fowler, a Huffington Post blogger, first reported Barack Obama’s comment at a San Francisco fundraiser about small town Pennsylvanians who “cling to their guns and religion, one of the biggest stories of the primaries. Fowler only heard the comment, however, because she was at the fundraiser as a donor and a supporter’€not a journalist. Doubtless Obama would not have made the comment if he knew it would be front page news.

Because blogs are incredibly easy to start and require no overhead costs, they have led to the democratization of the political media. Anyone, not just the paid pundits, can comment on the race, the issues, and the candidates. If your insight is good, people will read you and hyperlink to you from their own blogs.

A perfect example of this is Nate Silver, who runs the polling blog FiveThirtyEight.com. Before he started the blog in March, Silver was just one commentator among thousands on Daily Kos, one of the most popular liberal blogs. Because he was able to bring his expertise as a baseball statistician to the world of politics and provide sharp polling insight, he quickly became a strong authority on election polling.

Most political blogs are explicitly biased, unlike mainstream news sources, which sometimes suffer from an overemphasis on objectivity at the expense of the truth. Because blogs are free to operate without this burden, they can push stories they feel are important to them. This has both benefits and drawbacks: bloggers can popularize important stories ignored by the mainstream media, but they can also ignore ones that do not jibe with their political leanings.

The blogosphere has become a force in politics in and of itself, especially as part of the base of the Democratic party. Liberals disaffected by their party’s leadership started flocking to the blogosphere in the early 2000s and have created, far more than the right, a powerful community within the party.

Markos Moulitas originally started the Daily Kos as a place for him to post his thoughts. Now on Daily Kos, anyone can blog one “diary per day and comment on candidates and issues.

When these thousands of political activists join together, they can be a powerful force within the party. After Barack Obama changed his position on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which many liberals oppose because it would permit warantless wiretapping, blogs like Daily Kos erupted in outrage. Moulitais himself announced he would withhold contributions from Obama and diarists denounced Obama’s position. Eventually, the presidential candidate himself had to try to clarify and explain his position in a blog post straight to the masses.

Blogs are often criticized for being insular – people only read blogs that agree with their ideology. This is largely true – liberals read liberal blogs and conservatives read conservatives ones, rarely challenging their ideological assumptions. George Washington University professor Henry Farrell studied blog readership and determined that 94 percent of blogs readers only read blogs of similar ideological views. He also determined that blogs polarize politics, as there are very few centrist bloggers.

Andrew Sullivan, one of the most popular political bloggers on the internet, writes in the November issue of the Atlantic Monthly that hyperlinks make blogs a bit more complicated.

“You can disappear into the partisan blogosphere and never stumble onto a site you disagree with, he wrote. “But linkage mitigates this. A Democratic blog will, for example, be forced to link to Republican ones, if only to attack and mock. And it’s in the interests of both camps to generate shared traffic. This encourages polarized slugfests. But online, at least you see both sides.

For both better and for worse, blogging is changing media coverage of politics. But blogging is still only in its adolescence. If you thought the 2008 election has been heavily blogged, just wait until 2012.

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Nixonland http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/nixonland-nathan-yeo-class-of-2009/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/nixonland-nathan-yeo-class-of-2009/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2008 01:43:29 +0000 Nathan Yeo http://denebolaonline.net/wordpress/?p=376 Ever shot a moose? Live in a small town? Have big guns and strong religion? Friends with a guy named Joe Six-pack? What about Joe the Plumber?

If you answered NO to any of these questions, then you are an elitist. You sip on your lattes from Starbucks in your Ivory Tower of a private high school and look down on the Americans who live anywhere between Cambridge and California. You are not a real American. In fact, there’s a decent chance you may hate America.

You don’t actually but if you have been following the presidential campaign, you may think you do.

Republicans have tried to make the 2008 Presidential Election about the “people vs. the “elite and the “Washington insiders. Republican vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced in Greensboro, N.C. that she was proud to be in a “pro-American part of America.

Somehow one doubts Palin believes Newton is pro-American. As the election wraps, and an Obama victory grows more plausible, Republicans have gone flat out ‘€ alleging the Democrat is a radical terrorist sympathizer who, if elected, will destroy America with his socialist, spread-the-wealth agenda.

Wow, how did America become like this?

Historian Rick Perlstein’s recent book Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, part biography of Richard Nixon, part history of the Sixties, attempts an answer. Perlstein argues that Richard Nixon and the events of the tumultuous Sixties created a cultural divide in America persisting to this day. In our “fractured America, Perlstein says, we don’t just disagree with the other side; we viscerally despise them and their entire way of life.

*    *    *

When you think of the Sixties, what first comes to mind? You probably think hippies, Civil Rights movement, and protests against the Vietnam War. Perlstein argues the real history of the Sixties is the birth of the modern conservative movement and the beginning of four decades of Republican dominance.

His first book, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, documents the largely untold story of the rise of conservatism with Goldwater’s seemingly failed presidential candidacy culminating in his landslide defeat in 1964. Yet Nixonland is the story of the years between the twin landsides of 1964, where Lyndon Johnson won 44 states and 1972, where Nixon won 49 states.

How could America possibly change so dramatically in only eight years? Perlstein argues that Nixon, a “serial collector of resentments, cleverly gathered up all the resentment towards the miniscule number of hippies, black rioters, and draft dodgers using his dark arts to transform “them into a “Silent Majority of electoral success.

Reaching back into Nixon’s days at Whittier College, Perlstein locates the origins of Nixon’s political division tactics. The campus was run by the Franklins, a fraternity of the cool kids, the elitists on campus. Nixon was rejected by the Franklins, so he decided to start his own fraternity, the Orthogonians, or uprights. The Orthogonians’ base was the uncool students and the athletes who resented the attention received by their team’s stars. Nixon is eventually elected student body president thanks to support amongst the uncool – foreshadowing his 1968 victory thanks to America’s Orthogonians, the Silent Majority.

Nixonland takes this Orthogonians vs Franklins metaphor to the national stage, using apt detail to illustrate how Nixon exploited white, middle-class resentment over the excesses of the counterculture, often were rich kids at prestigious universities. Perlstein not only tells the stories of the turbulent Sixties, he also narrates the backlash, counter-protests, the reactionary letters to the editor, contentious school board meetings, and Right-wing violence against the Left.

But what is Nixonland, really? While Perlstein asserts the Right has most exploited cultural issues, he sees Democrats guilty of living in Nixonland too. The term “Nixonland was actually coined by Harvard’s John Kenneth Galbraith, a distinguished economist and advisor to Adalai Stevenson in the 1956 election (and JFK in 1960) ‘€

Our nation stands on a fork in the political road. In one direction lies a land of slander and scare; the land of sly innuendo, the poison pen, the anonymous phone call and hustling, pushing and shoving; the land of smash and grab and anything to win. This is Nixonland. America is something different.

Stevenson and Galbraith, Perlstein astutely points out, were not removed from this terrible place; they are “citizens in good standing. The Democrats tried to claim that if Vice President Nixon ever became president, America would be destroyed in a nuclear war. This, Perlstein writes, is a central tenant of Nixonland: if your opponents gain power, “America might end.

Such pent-up anger leads to violence. Perhaps half the book is taken up by descriptions of riots, bombings and murders. The most shocking scene is when hard-hat wearing workers start beating hippies on the steps of Federal Hall in New York City, an impromptu riot over why New York City’s flags were not flying at half-mast.

Aside its thought-provoking thesis, Nixonland is a fascinating read and useful history. Characters like Martin Luther King, the Kennedy brothers, Spiro Agnew, Ronald Regan, Abbie Hoffman, and George McGovern come to life on the pages.

The details are Nixonland’s greatest asset. We learn how delegates to the 1968 Democratic Convention cried ‘€ because Chicago police tear gas aimed at street protest seeped into the hotel ventilation. Nixonland utilizes a wide variety of primary sources. Every chapter cites from dozens of newspaper articles, along with quotes from those involved.

Perhaps the best part of the book is a riveting description of what a viewer would have seen on television had they been watching the Democratic National Convention on August 28, 1960. Perlstein’s detailed storytelling, however, has significant drawbacks. It’s almost all show and no tell, a problem for a book of 800 pages, eight of the most important years in recent American history, and hundreds of characters and events. At some point, one feels the urge to pan the camera up for a broader picture of America to avoid drowning in details.

*    *    *

Nixonland’s most important point is the fact that¦we still live there!

Or, do we? On several levels, we have almost certainly left Nixonland. Though the Bush years were divisive, there’s nowhere near the level of raw violence of the Sixties, where demonstrations and riots were a common occurrence (in part because the poor, blacks, women, Native Americans and gays came finally struggled for their place in the American story). Think Watts, Newark, Detroit; Pentagon and Selma marches; women challenging Miss America and gays at Stonewall.

By 2008 reaction to Rodney King’s brutalization by LA cops was a vague memory. Protest and crime, especially political and racial versions, greatly lessened, or, went underground. In Bush’s America, people don’t confront police in the street, firebombs banks and public buildings, or’€except for abortion clinics’€try to shoot those they disagree with.

Perlstein’s final line of the book, “It would be hard to argue [American] do not [want to kill each other], simply does not hold. America may be divided, but aside for a scattering of crazies it is not the same, by a long shot.

America also is no longer Nixonland on the issue of race, easily proven by the fact that Barack Obama, a black man, has enormous electoral support for the presidency. An Obama candidacy of such depth and breadth was inconceivable 1968 ‘€ too much racial strife for whites to vote for a black man (also, Obama would have only been seven at the time).

Much of the deracialization of politics happened during the 1990s’€a central tenant of the DNC and President Bill Clinton’s “new Democratic Party moving to the center on issues with racial undertones, such as welfare and crime, creating a national climate in which racism was publicly unacceptable and, therefore, only marginally useful politically.

The Clinton Era in effective neutralized race as a wedge issue. Clinton, however, remained a Nixon-strategy target, circumscribed by his alleged draft dodging and neo-liberal ideology ‘€his presidency ended up stalled and acrimonious.

White America finally got used to the idea of African-Americans being full members of society. The Sixties were only a few years removed from the days of Jim Crow and lynchings, discrimination pervaded society. While race issues in America today are far short of perfect, as a nation we have made significant progress since the days when unrepentant segregationists ran the Senate and Alabama’s George Wallace captured millions of votes in a national election. For all the mud thrown at Obama, the McCain campaign skirted the sermons of Obama’s incendiary pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, fearing perhaps a backlash against such transparently race-baiting tactics.

But the broader point of Nixonland ‘€ America is a land where two distinct political factions fervently believe America will end if the other side wins’€has broadly held over the past 40 years.

Republican have consistently tried to paint Democrats as elitists and in opposition to the interests of hard-working Americans. No accident several future presidents and presidential candidates appear in Nixonland on one side of the culture war or the other. Ronald Reagan enforces law and order as governor of California; George H.W. Bush runs (unsuccessfully) for Senate as a Goldwater conservative; Al Gore, though against Vietnam, enlists to avoid becoming a liability for his antiwar Senator father; Bill Clinton leads antiwar protests at the U.S. Embassy in England, where he is a Rhodes Scholar; George W. Bush, according to a newspaper reports, gets his high from flying in the Texas Air National Guard rather than taking drugs, and John Kerry leads the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in a march on Washington.

Many of the battles of the 2004 election can easily be seen in Nixonland. Perlstein recounts how John O’Neil, future leader of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is selected by Nixon’s aides to debate the anti-war leader. Swift Boaters charge that Kerry lied about his Vietnam record successfully painting Kerry as an attention-seeking elitist, more with the hippies than the troops.

But what about the 2008 election? Are we, even today, still in Nixonland?

Scanning the Republican Party’s tactics, one might think so.

McCain has reframed Nixon’s poisoned collection of resentments and flung them one by one at Obama. Obama is “the biggest celebrity in the world, more concerned the price of arugala than the pains of ordinary Americans and McCain cuts an ad claiming Obama supported sex education for toddlers. Sarah Palin reaches back a mere four decades, accuses Obama of “palling around with terrorists, dredging up Obama’s marginal ties to a 1960′s radical, William Ayers.

Republicans reflexively accuse Obama of being a “socialist (O, the horror!) because of Obama’s suggesting to (unlicensed, tax-owing) Joe the Plumber, the need to “spread the wealth around. With the socialist smear, Republicans echo Tricky Dick Nixon’s playbook, the man who acted out McCarthyism before even McCarthy had thought of it. And yet, despite these and other attacks, a black man with a decidedly foreign name will likely be our next president. How so?

Most important is the economy. Not only has Wall Street tanked, Main Street is two paychecks away from disaster. When you threaten someone with the loss of their home, job, and life savings, they will vote for the candidate they trust more to protect those precious items. The failing American economy is the main reason why Obama is flying high instead of drowning. Voters trust his calm intelligence to lead America out of this recession or depression.

Obama’s likely victory is also indebted to the disastrous presidency of George Bush/Dick Cheney’€who have delegitimized almost every aspect of Republican domestic and foreign policy, due to the costly, endless war in Iraq; suffering in New Orleans; soaring debt at home and corrosive resentment abroad.

*    *    *

Andrew Sullivan is not your typical conservative. Sullivan is an English Tory with a deep respect for Thatcherite economics and he opposes, in principal, many elements of Obama’s policies. He is also one of Obama’s strongest supporters.

This Obama comes in part because Sullivan, a gay man, wants to burn the Republican Party to the ground to purge it of the anti-gay Christian right. But Sullivan, one of the internet’s most popular bloggers, also feels a special enthusiasm for Obama that goes far beyond what he may have felt for Hilary Clinton had she been the Democratic nominee.

Sullivan wrote in a December 2007 essay for the Atlantic Monthly that Obama was the candidate of a new generation and a man who can speak on issues of race, religion, and national security in a logical and sincere way uninfluenced by the raging culture wars of the past 40 years, or, Nixonland.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war’€not so much the war in Iraq¦ ‘€ but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war’€and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama’€and Obama alone’€offers the possibility of a truce.

The true test of an Obama presidency will not be to solve the economic crisis or withdraw from Iraq. It will be to withdraw from Nixonland and end the culture war once and for all.

Obama’s heart certainly seems to be in the right place. During the brilliant orator’s most famous speech, his address to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Obama spoke of “not a liberal American and a conservative America, but a United States of America.

The question is, will America follow his lead? It will be difficult for Americans to change almost half a century’s worth of political habit: to always assume the worst in others.

But if anyone can do it, it is Obama. He is an inspiration to many young people, the generation that will soon control this country. If youth follows his lead, America many indeed change more fundamentally than even America’s fundamentalists can envision.

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South students praise teacher http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/04/16/south-students-praise-teacher/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/04/16/south-students-praise-teacher/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2008 05:57:51 +0000 Rebecca Goldstein http://denebolaonline.net/wordpress/?p=282 After teaching at Newton South for seven months, English teacher Brody Lipton had a profound impact on many of his students. Following his resignation on April 9, students reflected on the teacher who many felt inspired them.
English department head Fran Moyer stated in an email statement that Lipton resigned for “personal reasons.
Lipton’s leave was unexpected. “When we got the news¦it was a complete surprise, sophomore William Lind said.
Lipton taught two blocks each of sophomore and junior Curriculum I English, and, according to his students, his creative teaching methods were one of the many engaging aspects of his class.
“He would take a small idea, something about the book we were reading or how to write, and just let us go with it. Wherever the discussion went, that was fine, junior Max Wechter said.
Wechter called Lipton “definitely my favorite teacher.
“English used to be my worst subject, sophomore Joseph Klickstein said “But with Mr. Lipton, that feeling is gone, and now I look forward to every class.
Lipton’s classes often consisted of unique activities. During one class, he cut up hundreds of slips of papers containing quotes from The Great Gatsby and asked students to match them to the character who said them. In order to help his students understand what believable fiction was, he played “Two truths and a lie with them.
“He never told us why we were doing [the activity], junior Tucker Berk said. “You had to find out your own lesson from it.
Multiple students recalled a particular class when Lipton ran an entire class without speaking. He initiated discussions by writing on the board, but never directly spoke.
“He went the whole hour without saying a word. That was really cool, and he did stuff like that all the time. So whenever you went into his class, you didn’t know what to expect. He kept you on your toes and you knew it was going to be something unexpected and usually kind of fun, Lind said.
Lipton’s teaching style extended to his writing assignments. Lipton rarely gave overly explicit assignments, and students were encouraged to write about topics of their own choice, in many cases positively influencing their opinions of English as a subject.
“He gave us hints during class, but his way of teaching was for us to figure connections for ourselves, sophomore Jacob Klickstein said.
“He wanted us to come to a natural connection between them, and just write about things as they came to us instead of planning everything out and writing a boring essay, Lind said. “We would make our own connections and come to our own conclusions. [It] was something I never got to do before. That was really interesting.
Junior Jay Epstein wrote a paper about his personal connections with Jay Gatsby, the central character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Epstein said he felt magnetically drawn to the tragic hero of the Gilded Age. Lipton played a critical role in helping Epstein make the links.
“He knew just what to say to coax your thoughts out, he said. “He knew us.
Epstein’s connection with Gatsby stuck; his friends often refer to him as “Jay Gatsby.
Lipton emphasized writing whenever possible, occasionally giving students a blank sheet of paper and telling them to, initially, write whatever came to mind.
“He took everything you wrote as something special, Berk said.
Lipton, a playwright, sometimes wrote plays for his classes, including one that satirized their confusion about an assignment. He used the play to tell his students that it didn’t matter if their writing didn’t explicitly conform to the assignment; all that mattered was the writing itself.
Lipton also had an original and sensitive grading style to motivate his students. Instead of grading according to a rigid standard, he based grades on how a student’s writing compared to their capabilities. If they made improvement, they were guaranteed a good grade. If they didn’t put in much effort, he would dock them, and encourage improvement.
Writing Center aide Jana McCarthy will take over Lipton’s classes for the remainder of the academic year.

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Secret cameras installed http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/12/19/cameras/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/12/19/cameras/#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2007 07:59:52 +0000 Jason Kuo http://denebolaonline.net/wordpress/?p=200 Without notifying the public, administrators in the Newton Public Schools installed five security cameras at Newton South at the beginning of the 2007 school year.

According to Principal Brian Salzer, the Newton Public Schools installed the cameras in response to an increase of vandalism and theft last year, in which several boy’s bathrooms were vandalized and items were stolen from locker rooms.The cameras are not yet operational, and Salzer is unsure when the installation will be completed. Technicians recently installed software that would allow his computer to view the cameras’s footage from the past 31 days.

Two cameras are located near the locker rooms and are enclosed in black translucent domes. Three others are in halls around the school and are disguised as smoke detectors. They have clear views of bathrooms that school administrators believe are at most risk of vandalism.

If a bathroom is vandalized, Salzer could access footage on his computer from one of the three cameras pointed at bathrooms around the school. Similarly, if there is an incident of theft in the locker room, he can review footage from the two cameras outside of the locker rooms.

According to Salzer, only he, Superintendent Jeff Young, Director of Public Facilities Mike Cronin, and a small security team were aware of the cameras. They did not inform faculty members, and the Newton Fire and Police Departments are not involved in their operations.

“It’s just us trying to keep the school safe for you, Salzer said.

Young and Cronin declined to comment.

The School Committee was not informed beforehand of the decision to install the cameras. A few committee members, including Chair Dori Zaleznik and Vice-Chair Marc Laredo, only recently learned of the decision. Contacted by Denebola, they declined to comment until they had more information.

Salzer wanted to inform the South community about the cameras in order to deter future vandalism, rather than catch vandals in the act.

“My school of thought is to tell everyone about them, show how they work, in order to discourage vandalism, he said. “I’d rather have kids know that there are cameras¦I don’t like playing the ‘Ëœgotcha’ game.

Newton Public Schools administrators, however, chose not to make a public statement about the installation of the cameras. Salzer was not a part of the decision to install the cameras during the summer.

Salzer nevertheless believes that surveillance cameras can be effective tools for administrators. He recalled an incident last year where a custodian found graffiti in a bathroom that was still dripping paint. Salzer believes that if South administrators had access to securities cameras at the time, they would have easily apprehended the vandal or vandals.

Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Massachusetts Sarah Wunsch notes that, while the legalities of putting surveillance cameras in schools without notifying the public is a rather gray area, South’s installation is “at the very least, an awful thing to do.

Wunsch questions the effectiveness of surveillance cameras. Wunsch finds that, in deterring crime, surveillance cameras have a poor track record.

“Studies tend to show police video monitoring has had little or no effect on reducing crime, she wrote in a statement for the ACLU. She cited that in Britain, although the government placed cameras throughout the region, there has actually been an increase in the amount of violent crime.

Newton Teachers Association (NTA) President Cheryl Turgel is unsure whether the cameras violate teacher contract agreements or faculty privacy rights. The Newton Public Schools did not warn the NTA prior to the camera installation of their decision. While Turgel is not necessarily opposed to the Newton Public Schools using surveillance cameras to deter vandalism, she feels that the NTA should have warned of the installation.

“The fact that they did this and didn’t inform us about it is really concerning, Turgel said.

Despite criticism of the effectiveness of surveillance cameras, many other school systems in Massachusetts employ security cameras to prevent vandalism, some in large numbers.

Former South Principal and current Framingham High School Principal Michael Welch said that his school uses 17 cameras. These monitor the exterior entries of the building, including the main entrance, gym and lobby.

The cameras record digital video but not audio, which can be accessed for up to 12 days before it is overwritten. According to Welch, both students and the School Committee know about these cameras.

The cameras have helped clarify student altercations and in one instance will be introduced as evidence in a court case involving the unarmed robbery of a Framingham student.

Welch believes there is a “constantly shifting balance between the rights of individuals and the rights of society.

“In my judgment, we will find ourselves more and more under surveillance as the rights of individuals will be supplanted by the interests pressing for general safety, Welch said.

At Natick High School, cameras are easily recognizable, and are accompanied by signs that read: “This area may be under random video surveillance.

According to Natick High School Assistant Principal Zack Galvin, the City of Natick installed their cameras in the middle of last year to discourage students and the groups who use the school after hours from vandalizing the facilities.

“They have helped deter a lot of vandalization, Galvin said.

Dorchester Public schools also use cameras to deter vandalism. According to Dorchester Public Schools Facilities Planner Mike Lynch, there are around 30 to 40 cameras in the new high school in Dorchester.

While there are no signs around the cameras, they are encased in black glass spheres, similar to those at South, and none are disguised as smoke detectors.

“[Being able to see the cameras] depends on how astute you are, Lynch said. Lynch notes that the majority of students know the locations of the cameras.

After working with surveillance systems for over 25 years in both the U.S. Navy and at a paper mill, Lynch believes that cameras should serve as a “strategic deterrent rather than solely a means to catch vandals.

“If people know the system is there, they will not commit these acts, he said.

Former Newton South history teacher, North Housemaster and current Principal of Weston High School Anthony Parker described the use of cameras as a “tricky issue. While Weston does not use security cameras, he believes they can be sometimes be effective. Ultimately however, Parker thinks that nothing will truly prevent determined vandals.

Parker also thinks that there are real privacy issues raised by the use of cameras.

“There’s a fine line between the public safety and Big Brother, he said.

Parker also said that he’s been on “both sides of the fence regarding informing the community about cameras. He believes that on the one hand, it is important for the community to be informed. On the other hand, however, he believes that telling people in some ways “defeats the purpose.

“We not only want to stop the behavior, we want to hold [those who commit it] accountable.

Several members of South Senate reacted with surprise and opposition to the planned secret use of video cameras.

South Senator and junior Bill Humphrey thinks that students should be informed of any cameras installed to prevent vandalism. Humphrey believes that it is much better for cameras to act as deterrents rather than a way to catch vandals.

“[Not telling people] is the fundamentally wrong approach, he said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once you catch someone, the damage is already done.

Humphrey plans to introduce legislation in South Senate in opposition to the cameras. He expects that many other senators will support it.

Recently elected Senate President Ben Tabb said he did not have enough information to comment at this time.

South Senator and Sophomore Luckmini Liyanage also expressed opposition to the use of cameras that the public was uninformed about.

“I think it’s preposterous that cameras were installed without telling students, she said. “Students have a right to know.

Background

Related coverage

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