We haven’t lost it yet …

Georgetown Universities science programs may need a little help, but our country isn’t doing quite so poorly. Of the three Nobel Prizes announced this year—Physics, Chemistry and Medicine—Americans have won all three.

The prize in Economics will be announced Monday, and while we may not win the Peace Prize (10/13), we can at least make it 4 for 5.

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer

Sober kids, even Ivy League ones, can be stupid too

A campus-wide keg ban is, as the Voice has reported, suddenly a real possibility. With that in mind, check out this fine piece of journalism coming out of Harvard, where a similar keg ban went so poorly it was revoked. While finely-tuned b.s. detectors will start beeping wildly by the end of the first paragraph, by the fourth or fifth they’ll be going seismic.

Beginning with the argument that Harvard students should be more mature than their peers at other colleges (apparently daddy’s trust fund is a real character-builder), the writer comes to the conclusion that the Harvard administration is justifiably trying to get students more drunk and put them in more dangers so they’ll learn their lesson and not drink anymore. Let’s hope that gem shows up on the next admissions brochure, right below a picture of smiling students of every race getting kidney transplants. Here’s where that Ivy League brilliance really shines through, though (after the jump):

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College Drinking! It must be stopped!

In recent weeks, much has been made of Georgetown University’s alcohol-related policies. First, there was praise and criticism for AlcoholEdu, the new online education program that all freshmen are required to take. Now, both the Voice and the paper next door have run editorials condemning the patently foolish idea of banning kegs on campus, as proposed by the Disciplinary Review Committee. This is indicative of a major part of the problem with Georgetown’s alcohol policies: they change every year.

Binge drinking is not an epidemic at American universities, and it’s not at GU either. Just look at the work of Prof. Aaron M. White, at Duke University – who also happens to have worked on AlcoholEdu’s programs. The majority of students don’t drink heavily or don’t drink at all.

That may be a simplification of his findings, but White makes a very interesting point: that students’ drinking habits are heavily influenced by what they see as “normal.” Yes, Hollywood films, the news media and peer pressure distort perceptions of social norms. But the university’s constant fretting over drinking certainly doesn’t help either.

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer

Hole in one for Caracas low income housing

Hugo Chavez has been making waves in the international political scene, forging diplomatic ties with Iran and Russia, leading anti-American summits and using Venezuela’s oil money to aid Cuba and several other Caribbean countries. In light of his attempts to make Venezuela a world force to be reckoned with, many have wondered recently if he is doing all can to improve the social problems of his own country.

News that Caracas mayor and Chavez ally Juan Barreto is planning to expropriate the city’s three golf courses for low-income housing, through “forced acquisition,” is clear proof that actions are being taken at the ground level to directly benefit the citizens. According to The Guardian, there is a shortage of one million homes and this would make space for 50,000 homes.

The golf courses, one of which dates back to 1918, serve as centers for social networking, business negotiations and as a backdrop for other mysterious goings-on in Venezuelan politics. On the international stage, golf courses have acquired notoriety as the informal setting for such encounters, strategic as the huge open fields keep confidential exchanges out of earshot, and because the game itself provides much downtime for walking and discussing. We must look no further than the lobbying scandals of the last year, seemingly born on the golf course, that marred policy makers and government representatives alike.

While residents at the country clubs see the move as an affront to private property laws, the mayor’s intentions are to redistribute the land and the wealth in more equitable ways, in line with Chavez’s goals at the national level. Despite the negative opinions some have of such actions, Chavez still has an approval rating of over 60 percent in Venezuela.

It could be argued that such drastic measures (including talks of acquiring second homes) will alienate the rich nationals and internationals. In reaction they may avoid investment in Venezuela, resulting in capital flight to banks on other shores that are more accommodating to the wealthy. But it is arguable whether this will necessarily hurt the country.

For now Venezuela has a commodity, petroleum, that gives it the upper hand in negotiation. The country also has the largest supply of it in the world outside the Middle East. As long as there is a demand and the resource lasts, Venezuela will continue to dictate their terms of trade and world standing.

Taking a step back from the macroeconomic implications of such a move for the country, it is incredible that the three golf courses in the capital city may be appropriated by the government. I cannot imagine a large city with an international and diplomatic population that does not have a golf course. Country clubs with golf courses are the universal playground of the affluent. This move by Mayor Barreto is not only functional but packed with greater policy implications and a strong message to the patrons of such institutions. It seems they want the rich to hit the road, pack up their clubs and balls, and make room for the masses. And for now, the government has the cards in their hand to make it happen.

Posted by Lauren Gaskill, Associate Editor

Is this really happening?

Yesterday, hours after the New York Times ran this editorial the Senate passed President Bush’s dream–a new terror bill giving him new, wide-ranging powers. Since the implementation of the Patriot Act, it would seem obvious that W has no idea how to balance our rights as citizens with the need to prevent another terrorist attack. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” FDR famously said.

But, like cowed little lambs, the Senate went right along, only a week after three prominent Republicans looked like they would stand up to the president. It’s a shame they were only bluffing, because, as the Times says, this is a “tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.”

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer

Let’s Call a Populist a Populist.

hugo_chavez-724441.jpg If you’re a U.S. citizen, you should dislike Hugo Chavez, the loudmouthed president of Venezuela. If you’re not, you probably cannot help but admire the audacity and the genius in his tirades against George W. Bush.

Chavez, after all, is a populist, and the only South American one in recent years who has stuck to his guns after being elected. And remember, even if he has rolled back some of his country’s democratic institutions, there is still a critical press in Venezuela and the Jimmy Carter Institute validated Chavez’s last re-election. Chavez leads a country that is bitterly, bitterly divided. But it is also one in which he holds the electoral majority. Sound familiar?

Chavez, like most Latin Americans, distinguishes between the United States and U.S. policy. He has never called our country the Great Satan. Rather, he has specified that the man we elected is, in turn, “Mister Danger,” “A donkey,” “an alcoholic” and now “Satan.” But we cannot take these comments totally out of context.

Good ol’ Hugo imagines himself to be a folksy gaucho, a cowboy—like Bush, in a way. His speeches are filled with literary references and allegories that play up this image. All of the names given to Bush above either come from Venezuelan folk tales or novels—with the exception of “alcoholic,” which was closer to verified fact.

Those names are something that many, if not most, of our hemispheric neighbors recognize. Chavez becomes the gaucho outsmarting the devil, the ordinary Venezuelan fighting American imperialism. And when he says Bush leaves a stench of “sulfur” behind him, we must remember that Anti-American sentiment is not simply a concept in the Western hemisphere’s third world: it is palpable.

Venezuela is not a powerless country in our hemisphere. While many countries shy away from closer relations to it, they do not ignore Chavez. He is a strong voice in OPEC, though he doesn’t control it by a long shot. He is a powerful voice against U.S. policy in an age of anti-Americanism.

President Chavez sounds like a raving lunatic to us, but his words are savvy and hold truth for many. He is, as Time magazine called him, “Crazy like a Fox.” We may want to ignore him, to deny him entry to the UN … we may even want him to just shut his trap. But we cannot treat him like a fool.

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer

The Hottest Professor, full stop.

No Hottest Professor list would be complete without Ivo Jansen’s name right at the top. The Dutchman came to the U.S. for his MBA and, lucky for us, decided to stay.

He is tall, slim, and blonde with an angular jaw and bright blue eyes. But his hottest feature is his sense of humor. He always starts out class by asking students, by name, their best story from the past weekend. He laces his lectures with jokes and when he sees students’ eyes begin to glaze over, he immediately changes the subject away from accounting to drag the class back in before he continues with the lesson.

Proof of his excellent teaching ability? Most students raise their grade a full step from Financial Accounting, the class that Jansen teaches, to Managerial Accounting, taken the following semester. I, on the other hand, dropped from an A- to a C+ when I no longer had Ivo’s lovely smile to engage me in the world of debits and credits. Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be; I am now an English major but still look back oh so fondly on afternoons in Accounting.

Posted by Kathryn Brand, Contributing Editor

The “sick man” of South America

A day after calling President Bush the devil at the UN General Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called him an “alcoholic” and a “sick man” at a church in Harlem, according to the Washington Post.

He got a round of applause from a crowd that included activists, supporters and Danny Glover.

Chavez announced that Citgo, the US-based refining arm of Venezuelas’s state-run oil company, is going to more than double its sales of discounted heating oil to America’s poor this winter.

But Bush-haters shouldn’t be Chavez-lovers.

Today, the Venezuelan populist is entertaining because he antagonizes President Bush. He calls him names like “El Diablo” and “Mr. Danger.” He hosted the “Anti-Summit” of the Americas in Argentina last November to protest Bush and a hemispheric free trade zone.

But Chavez has been eroding his country’s democratic institutions since he came to power in 1998. He supports the dangerous Iranian regime and is trying to economically and politically pull the Western Hemisphere apart.

He’s not only bad for President Bush – he’s bad for the United States as a whole. He shouldn’t be invited to U.S. churches. He should just shut his trap.

Posted by Keenan Steiner, Staff Writer

Fore! We suck!

Except for the occasional blustery dissident, no one really argues over golf’s sporthood anymore. It’s become a given. All that means, however, is that it’s one more sport the United States sucks at.

Our country has been in freefall on the international sports stage for a while now, and this weekend’s resounding defeat at the Ryder Cup, golf’s biannual U.S.-vs.-Europe World Series, only reinforces the point. Really, what do we have left? We’ve never had soccer, and with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi gone tennis is looking bleak as well. It looked like we had cycling for a while, but it turned out the steroids were the real winner there.

The real punches to the gut, though, are basketball and baseball. These are sports WE MADE UP. When I made up games as a little kid, you could be damn sure I was going to win them. And our latest basketball defeat? The powerhouse Greeks, who celebrated by chugging olive oil, I think. There’s a country that’s been a real player on the world stage in the last 2000 years, right?

Looks like the only thing we have left is American football. Maybe we should continue to guard that from the rest of the world, for our own sakes.

Posted by Mike Stewart, Feature Editor

Crime happens; curfews shouldn’t

After you read the Voice’s editorial about improving DPS training and working conditions after last weekend’s startling events, consider the campus-wide e-mail sent this morning.

It seems the university response is:
1. More DPS officers around at night.
2. More ResLife staffers milling about dorms and apartments.
3. Senior university officials milling about campus late at night.

While I’m not entirely sure what a senior university official or ResLife staffer can do stop a man wielding a pipe, it’s understandable that some stepped-up efforts would be made. It’s the thinly-veiled warning that parties aren’t going to last as long that follows that is a bit troubling.

I’m not trying to advocate for partying like idiots, but I also don’t want martial law on Georgetown’s campus. The warnings against holding large parties and advertising on Facebook seem less like innocuous advice and more like a threat that parties will be broken up more readily than before. The danger of this becoming a de facto on-campus curfew is obvious.

While we, as students, should appreciate the stepped-up safety efforts, we need to remember a couple of things. First, we live in a city where crime is going to happen no matter what. Severely limiting it is a reasonable goal; stamping it out is an impossibility. Second, violent crime has long been the exception, not the rule, on the average weekend. While we never want to see a repeat the events of this past weekend, we also should remember-and feel lucky-that they don’t occur too often.

In the end, we should heed the words of Benjamin Franklin – “Those who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Posted by Mike Stewart, Feature Editor