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Wow. These last four years have flown by, and in a little more than a week I'll have a college degree (two actually -- a B.S. and a B.A.).\nBut what does that mean? What does having a degree truly amount to at this time and place?\nCollege ain't what it used to be.\nOne of my professors recently bragged that he received an A on a paper "when A's used to be hard to get." He was not joking. Grade inflation has become a major concern among universities -- about half of all college freshmen today have an A average compared to 18 percent in 1968. Either students' mental capacity more than doubled or standards lowered in the last 38 years, and I'm willing to bet it's not the former.\nProject one inflated grade over four years, and it makes the degree practically worthless because it does not in fact state that the holder is necessarily qualified -- he might have just had lenient professors.\nOver-specificity is another problem. Professors teach their specialized (sometimes over-specialized) research area, and departments have no specific requirements other than, for example, "two courses in Western European history." Now, I've taken many history courses, including "Empire of the Tsars: Russia in the 19th Century" and "Italy in the Renaissance." Both of these courses were interesting and valuable, but how can taking a hodgepodge of microscopic history courses give anyone a true grasp on the totality of history? The student's historical knowledge just becomes an assortment of random facts about very specific periods.\nI don't mean to pick on the history department, but it best illustrates the widespread problem of departments granting degrees with only a very diffuse, compartmentalized knowledge of the field.\nThen there's the elephant in the room -- the leftward ideological slant of the academia, which few acknowledge, but everyone knows is there. A recent survey of 1,643 full-time professors at 183 universities revealed 75 percent describe themselves as liberal (87 percent at "elite" universities).\nThis is a huge problem. Where does education begin and indoctrination end? Are the two mutually indistinguishable? If professors and graduates -- whose degrees and research give them authority -- are clouded by their political leanings, then how can anyone rely on any word they say? Every academic work will be second-guessed by a public skeptical of bias.\nI was admitted into the University of Chicago -- no mean feat for a high school student -- but I chose to come to IU because of scholarships. I didn't see any reason to pay more for one diploma over another. That is sad. "Elite" universities in this country, once the best in the world, have now become virtually indistinguishable from any other university because the above problems are even more marked there. The prestigious names of "elite" universities are the only vestige they have of a once-vibrant academic past.\nA degree isn't worth what it was 40 years ago, so we go to more school to qualify ourselves (I'll be going to law school), and we are not putting our knowledge to use until we're close to 30 or even older.\nAs I don my cap and gown, I'll wonder what my diploma's worth will be 10 years from now -- and take pity on future generations of students.
Everyone knows the stereotype that sciences are male-dominated and liberal arts female-dominated. Having a major in each, I can personally attest that the stereotype couldn't hold truer.\nDon't trust my word? Here's what Government Accountability Office report, demanded by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), had to say: 40 percent of bachelor's degrees and 26 percent of doctorates in the physical sciences are awarded to women. Numbers are similar for the life sciences and mathematics and about half of this for engineering. In all other fields, however, women earn 59 percent of bachelor's degrees and 53 percent of all doctorates.\nJust look at IU: Of the 39 members of the IU Chemistry Faculty, five are women and only three of them have research labs. About the same difference exists among students in the math and science classes I've taken.\nAs one can imagine, these statistics have been fodder for the radical feminazi agenda.\nNot content with imposing their agenda on sports, certain women's (oops… sorry, wymyn's) groups want to use Title IX (surprise!), to demand quotas this time is the male-dominated fields of math, science, engineering and computer science.\nIn the past 11 years, the U.S. Department of Education conducted only three Title IX compliance reviews in the areas of math and science. This year alone, Assistant Secretary of Education Stephanie Monroe announced that the Education Department, in conjunction with the National Science Foundation, would conduct six such reviews.\nAccording to "Ms." Magazine, the idea behind this is to determine whether science-related departments offer as much support to women as men.\nScience departments do not bar women from studying. In fact, they are one the few fields where achievement is gauged almost solely off of knowledge of the material rather than ability to b.s., as they say. Women probably face the fairest competition in these fields.\nI attribute the disparity to lack of female interest in science-related fields and a difference preference for the liberal-arts method of thinking. Yet when Harvard President Larry Summers suggested the same thing, his faculty raised an uproar and forced his resignation.\nLet the sciences be. I think it is excellent that many women do face the challenge and pursue their interest in studying science -- but they should pursue interest, not lucrative grants offered by universities seeking to beef up the amount of women in the sciences or the ease of being passed through a degree program to ensure that quotas of women receiving diplomas are met.\nMoreover, the movement for more women in the sciences is completely hypocritical. Since women earn most of the degrees in fields of liberal arts, why is there not a movement to enforce quotas of male English or psychology majors? Why do universities not pursue a "men in the liberal arts" initiative to attract male students?\nThe feminists do not want equality; they want control and power, and will stop at nothing to get it. In the 1990's, for every woman that gained an opportunity to play college sports, 3.4 men had that same opportunity taken away. If that happens with the sciences, the results will be disastrous. Perhaps a future Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton will be turned away in favor of a woman not interested in science, but whom the university needs to fulfill its quota.
For Catholics everywhere, like myself, we are in the middle of Holy Week, the final time of fast and prayer before the celebration of Easter.\nBut some church leaders in this country are using Holy Week as an excuse to make a political stunt. The Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, called for the faithful of his archdiocese to fast as a sign of solidarity for illegal immigrants and pray for "just" immigration reform (read: amnesty).\nFlashback: this is the same Cardinal Mahony that used his Ash Wednesday sermon to urge priests and parishioners to ignore the House immigration bill if it passed.\nThis is demagoguery, and a quotation by St. John Chrysostom comes to mind: "The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of rotten bishops."\nFortunately, not all bishops are like Mahony - he represents a phenomenon confined mostly to first-world nations. A large part of the church hierarchy in these areas is grossly liberal and therefore at odds with the majority of the faithful.\nI never could understand those who complain about the need for further liberalization of the Church -- it is already far too liberal after the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II ended up doing away with the traditional Latin Mass and replacing it with a watered-down version done in the vernacular. Restructuring the religious calendar, de-beatifying some saints and becoming lax on certain fasting rules soon followed.\nPope John XXIII, who called the council, thought it had gone too far. "This is no longer my council," he said after he saw what direction the council was taking. On his deathbed, he also begged those present, "Stop the council!"\nThe Holy Father was right to say these. What has been the net result of the "reforms?" In the US, 20 percent drop in church attendance and 30 percent decrease of priests over the last 40 years, not to mention a molestation crisis (admittedly blown out of proportion).\nNobody wants to go to a liberal church. Yes, and this is backed by plenty of statistics: Dave Shiflett's book "Exodus" details how millions of Christians leave liberalized mainline Protestant churches for Evangelical, Orthodox, or conservative Catholic ones.\nThis only makes sense -- churches that water down the doctrine to curry favor among narcissistic, hedonistic secular societies abandon their ideals and in turn give the faithful nothing greater, nothing beyond this world in which to believe. A church that adapts its practices to secular-progressive demands is in doubt of the truth of its teachings, and deserves to lose adherence because of this.\nThere is plenty of hope for the Catholic Church, however. The Latin Mass, which virtually disappeared after Vatican II, is rapidly growing -- six churches now have the Latin Mass in Indiana alone, just for one example. Fr. Samuel's last Latin Mass in Belgium drew more than 2000 attendants (Incidentally, Fr. Samuel is now being prosecuted by the leftist Belgian government for "racism" because he said Islam would dominate Europe soon).\nBenedict XVI even celebrated the Latin Mass on several occasions as a cardinal.\nGranted, Benedict XVI is not as conservative as they come, but his election may be a hopeful stride by the Church back in the right direction after the ignoble experiment of Vatican II.
Opening night for the IU production of Georges Bizet's "Carmen" was sold out, and seats were packed long before curtain. The production deserved every bit of this attention -- the performance of "Carmen" is by far one of the best of the season.\nThe first and foremost aspect to the success of the performance was the music. The audience already had high expectations as some of the most famous melodies in opera come directly out of this particular opera, so emphasis must be placed on the musical aspect in order for the performance to be successful.\nThe orchestra under guest conductor Mark Gibson handled the music excellently. The score was interpreted in a way that brought out the full energy and exuberance of the music. From the very first note of the overture it was obvious that the orchestra was well-directed and knew exactly how to handle the music. Not once did the orchestra sound overbearing, too timid or too heavy.\nThough this alone could have sufficed for an adequate performance, the stage action was the other major element that made the performance so successful. Guest stage director Jonathon Field needs to be credited with directing some very demanding stage action that despite its difficulty, appeared completely natural.\nCarmen herself was without a doubt the best-executed role. Sophie Roland gave the role its necessary hot temper, willfulness and sensuality. Yet, at the same time, she sang the part almost as if it was second-nature. No part illustrated this combination of theatrical and vocal talent than in the famous "Habañera" aria, where Roland sang while sensually slithering down a flight of stairs. Roland also handled the wide range and extreme tempos very well.\nMarcos Aguiar as Don José seemed a bit stiff at first -- but then again, the character is meant to be rather disciplined and uncomfortable around the loose gypsy life. Any doubt was removed at the end, when Aguiar played Don José after he goes insane. The contrast Aguiar gave between the stiff soldier and the madman removed any doubt about successful interpretation of that character.\nOther parts deserving commendation are Scott Skiba as Escamillo and Alexis Lundy as Micaela, not to mention the large chorus and children's chorus required in several scenes.\nAnother clever addition was the use of real cigarettes in the scene where the cigarette factory worker-women are on break. It added an appeal to an extra sense -- not only sight and sound, but also smell was used to bring the audience into the action.\nThe one element that was a bit lacking was the stage design. Though the cantina in Act 2 and the mountain scene in Act 3 were beautiful, the opening and closing scenes lacked color. The setting is in Seville, a city full of colorful, Arab-influenced architecture, fountains and palms trees, yet none of this played into the street scenes in the production. The costumes added plenty of color, but a splash of it in the scenery as well would have made the visual element even more vibrant.\n"Carmen" is an opera that everyone should see, if for no other reason than it is so well-known. This production is a very good interpretation of the opera, and anyone interested or curious about opera would do well to attend this show and receive an excellent sampling of it.
"East-Coaster" is a far too generic term. It really means this: an irresponsible, self-absorbed, boorish, spoiled rich brat from within a 100-mile radius of New York City who looks at"the locals" the same way an 18th-century British lord would look on the American colonists. Every time you see a BMW with Connecticut plates parked with an E-pass, an address in one of the swanky new downtown apartment complexes or full expenses (including bail) paid from daddy's credit card, you've found a genuine East Coaster.\nIt's hard not to show contempt for this type of person, and though I described the East Coasters in the worst of terms, there are degrees of acuteness in their various traits.\nThere are certainly plenty of people like this at IU, however, and not all of them are from the East Coast. "East Coastness" is not a plague confined to any geographic region, but it results from the combination of affluence and lack of a solid upbringing -- the former gives people unlimited means and the latter, unlimited desires.\nWe tend to associate these vices with people from the East Coast (or Chicago) because these areas are wealth-ridden (most likely to produce such a person) and nearby (most likely to produce such a person to attend IU). We don't get many such students from the Southern upper class or SoCal because they aren't as close.\nDon't fault the area for the trash it produces -- that aspect is common to the individual's background and personality, not place of origin.
The IU Opera Theatre season closes with a bang this weekend with Georges Bizet's "Carmen." This opera, first performed in 1875, won instant success and has since become a staple. It remains one of the most beloved and most performed operas in the world because of its catchy melodies and vibrant action.\nIt tells the story of Carmen, a gypsy factory worker, who is loved by both the soldier Don José and the matador Escamillo, who fight to gain her attention.\nGuest Stage Director Jonathon Field said that he saw this opera's fame as a challenge.\n"It is one of the world's greatest operas, so there are going to be a lot of expectations for the performance," he said.\nField might be called a "Carmen" expert -- this is the eighth production of it that he has directed. He spent two weeks in Seville, Spain, to research the culture and he even took flamenco lessons.\n"I wanted to take the 'slice of life' or romantic approach and explain Spain and Spanish culture to the cast," Field said.\nThe approach Field described places emphasis on one of the many different theatrical aspects in "Carmen." Field said Bizet used Romantic opera, grand opera, musical theatre and verismo, or "slice of life," opera in creating the staging.\nField is happy with the cast.\n"Some (of the cast) definitely have professional potential," he said. "This is going to be a good production."\nTwo members of that cast -- Lisa LaFleur, who plays Carmen, and John Sumners, who plays Don José -- described their perspectives of the performance.\nLaFleur said the casts, including the director, are very good and the approach is generally relaxed.\n"(Field) is fun to work with," she said. "He is very energetic and imaginative, but we also have input."\nSumners agreed, saying preparation has been a lot of fun. He also elaborated on Field's directing style, which he finds a great benefit in rehearsals.\n"(Field) is very clear. Some directors are vague, but he gives us a frame to work in," he said.\nLa Fleur agreed.\n"(Field is) clear on staging, but he lets us improvise. The casts have different dynamics, and he makes it look more spontaneous, more real," she said.\nBoth vocalists also sing roles that have some of the most famous arias in the entire operatic repertoire, but they said they do not let this limit them.\n"I didn't want to do the arias until I actually had the role," LaFleur said. "But you have to find a way to make it your own."\nSumners' independent attitude has helped him, he said, to overcome the intimidation of the famous arias.\n"I do it the way I do it," he said. "Each voice is a different instrument. You can get into a lot of trouble imitating."\nLaFleur also acknowledged that the director has helped her approach the arias with confidence.\n"(Field) also knows how to deal with it -- he really calms down the actors," she said.\nAll people involved want the audience to walk away excited.\n"I can't see anyone not enjoying 'Carmen,'" Sumners said. "Everyone already knows half of it because the melodies are so famous."\nField's goal is to use "Carmen" as a gateway to of opera.\n"I want to leave people wanting to see more opera," he said. "All opera really has to be fabulous to draw (audiences) back."\n"Carmen" performs at 8 p.m. tonight, Saturday, and April 14 and 15 at the Musical Arts Center. Tickets are $15-35 and $10-20 for students. For more, visit www.music.indiana.edu.
I'm really not a conservative.\nWell, in the conventional usage of the word, I am; but in reality, "conservative" is defined as "tending to oppose change." But I hardly wish to conserve the present situation of things -- I wish to see change, just not the same change the misnamed "progressive movement" wants. I suppose that makes me a revolutionary of sorts?\nOne thing is certainly clear: the rioters (or "protesters," to sugar-coat the term) in France are anything but revolutionaries. In fact, they are reactionaries opposed to even the slightest change.\nWhat these rioters are actually opposing is the proposed legislation called CPE (Contrat Prémiere Embauche -- First Employment Contract), a bill that allows dissatisfied employers to fire a first-time employee under 26 years old.\nBut shouldn't employers do this anyway for efficiency's sake?\nWell, French labor laws are currently so strict that it is nearly impossible for employers to fire anyone for anything short of mass murder.\nThat's just the tip of the iceberg. France has the highest mandated minimum wage ($6.79 per hour), a guaranteed 35-hour work week with five weeks vacation and 11 paid holidays.\nThe result of this policy has been -- logically -- that employers' hands are tied, and they are consequently less willing to hire inexperienced (and hence, young) workers who may be unproductive, resulting in a 22 percent youth unemployment rate. France's overall unemployment rate is 10 percent and its economic growth over the past three years is 1.5 percent, compared to 4.8 percent unemployment and 3.5 percent growth in the United States.\nIn real terms, the Swedish think tank, Timbro, reported in 2004 that, if France were a state in the United States, it would be the fifth poorest ahead only of Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas and Montana.\nFrench Premier Dominique de Villepin's government was the first to tackle this issue in 30 years, but hordes of students and union workers -- about 1.5 million last Thursday -- took to the streets all across France. Not one to stand up to tough situations, President Chirac suspended the CPE and told his finance minister to negotiate amendments to it.\nIn France, the spirit of 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871 and 1968 is dead -- no longer do rioters effect sweeping changes by taking to the streets; they riot to keep things as they are.\nThe new revolutions are like our own Reagan Revolution of 1980, or the "Revolution" of 1994 -- voters taking back their personal economic freedoms from a bloated and stagnant miasma of government control, of which France is the quintessence.\nFascism is dead; communism is dead; socialism is gasping its last breaths, as we can see in the Europe of Blair, Berlusconi and Merkel. For countries to grow and succeed in the present world, the yoke of big government needs to be tossed off for good. Competition, innovation and desire to profit must be encouraged, and to do so the governments need to ease the grip that the vise of regulation puts on economies.\nChange happens; socialism, "progressivism," big government or whatever-you-call-it has had its chance, but demands change and societies must adapt or face true revolution. The burdensome Fifth Republic just may go the way of the ancien régime.
This past weekend, I did two important things: study for a biochemistry exam and fill out my taxes. And let me tell you, biochemistry is far less ambiguous, complicated and frustrating than the tax code, so much so that I'd choose reviewing RNA-polymerase catalysis over number-crunching any day, even to get a refund.\nI have a nagging suspicion that Vladimir Lenin is in hell having a good laugh that the United States, the land of economic opportunity, has this Byzantine progressive tax code, one of whose goals is income redistribution.\nBut is this what taxes were designed to do?\nThe Constitution grants the federal government power to "lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States."\nHowever, the "general welfare" clause was not seen to amount to income redistribution. \nThomas Jefferson wrote: "To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his father has acquired too much, in order to spare to others who (or whose fathers) have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, 'to guarantee to everyone a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.'"\nThe tax on income was briefly instated in 1862 to cover the costs of the Civil War, and in 1894, the government issued a flat tax on all incomes -- which the Supreme Court promptly struck down. To get around this, the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1916, and a progressive income tax from 1 to 7 percent went into effect.\nWith the Social Security Act of 1935, the Medicare Act of 1965 and other welfare programs of the Great Society, the revenue collected from income went increasingly toward wealth redistribution programs, many of which the Reagan tax cuts of 1981 curbed.\nAccording to an article in the Free Republic, the top 10 percent of incomes currentpay 68.2 percent of all federal income revenue -- and the top 1 percent pays 35.9 percent, though this bracket only reports 17.2 percent of its total income.\nYet those forced to provide the most money for the government have no more votes than those making less than $20,000, who pay no taxes.\nI'm with Jefferson on this one: Why penalize those who earned, or whose family earned, money and the privileges that come with it? So, apparently, is Steve Forbes, whose book "Flat Tax Revolution" suggests that a flat 17 percent income tax and a regressive Social Security tax are not only fair, but eliminate most of the difficulty in filing taxes and make it harder for the rich to conceal income.\nAs a penniless collegian in the "dirt poor" bracket right now, I do think full-time students should be exempt, but overall, the idea of a flat tax is a good one. "Equality under the law" does not mean undue burdens on the wealthy any more than it means oppression of the poor.\nIncome taxation is constitutionally delegated authority for the government to seize the profits each citizen makes through his or her labors in order to support itself. This is a job the government should do equitably, especially considering men opposed to unjust taxes founded this nation.
Friday, I managed to be duped into seeing a Hollywood film (my third in more than a year), the Wachowski brothers' "V for Vendetta."\nThe film, aside from having an absurd plot, was nothing more than a thinly veiled assault at the conservative movement. Yet I am glad I saw it, because the film captured the essence of the liberal world view, and let me tell all you conservatives out there: you have nothing to worry -- the other side is not dealing with a full deck, as they say.\nEverything in the movie can be summed up into three overriding leftist themes, all of which are grossly mistaken and poorly thought through:\n1. "Hitler syndrome." I coin this term to describe the left's constant association of modern conservatives with Nazis. The film featured a futuristic, totalitarian British state ruled by a Hilter-looking man with a similar name (Adam Sutler -- just change two syllables). The film's dictator, however, was described as a devout Christian member of the conservative party.\nFor the record: Hitler was neither Christian nor conservative. His economic policy was purely Keynesian, the Nazi ideology was borrowed from the moral relativism of Friedrich Nietzsche ("God is dead"), and he preached the destruction of Christianity, saying in 1933, "It is through the peasantry that we shall really be able to destroy Christianity because there is in them a true religion rooted in nature and blood." I also suggest reading Rabbi Dalin's book "The Myth of Hitler's Pope" for the truth about the church's opposition with Nazism.\nThe left's "Nazi!" mantra illustrates their ignorance of historical matters.\n2. Pro-Muslim, anti-Christian. A dissident in the film referred to the "beauty" and "poetry" of the Quran, banned under the fictitious regime. Yet the film featured a completely gratuitous scene of a pedophile Christian bishop. \nNot only does the scene reek of archaic, 19th-century anti-clericalism, but I do believe pedophile priests (about 4 percent of priesthood) are defrocked, but the Prophet Muhammed, whom most Muslims regard as a perfect man, married Aisha and consummated it when he was 52 and she was 9. Again, the left is opening its mouth without thinking -- or even bothering to understand either religion. They are cultural traitors, who seek to defame Western religion only because it is a crucial part of the Western culture they seek to destroy.\n3. Pro-gay. The dictatorship in the film exterminates homosexuals, and the audience gets a very sympathetic portrait of one of its victims.\nThis stance mystifies me, since buggery is no longer a punishable offense among civilians in many non-Islamic countries (in Iran, however, gays are executed) and homosexuals enjoy the most legal privilege and least stigma since the Classical age. I charge that the left only touts gay marriage and gay "rights" to flaunt difference in the face of the Christians they so hate: it's a way of saying, "Ha! You no longer control the law, we do."\nI could go on, but you get the picture: the left is hell-bent on the destruction of the Western civilization that regrettably gave it birth, and they will lie and fabricate to convey their message.
On the Monroe County Jail, facing Seventh Street for all passers-by to see, is the police department's motto: "Integrity. Respect. Service. Diversity."\nIt makes me laugh -- I'll give you four guesses which of these was tacked on to be politically correct, and the first three don't count.\nThat's right, diversity. It's the word to which IU pays abject homage at full volume. Students see this word plastered on buildings, on banners hung on lampposts and hurled at them at freshmen orientation sessions.\nBut what sort of diversity is described? Diversity of ideas? Of opinions? Of tastes?\nPerhaps, but this certainly is not the Black Student Union's concept of diversity. Or, put more accurately, diversity should be stuffed down the university's throat with a ramrod. Race, not ability or experience, is to be the ultimate trump card in hiring policies.\nIn an article that appeared in this paper Friday, BSU secretary Ta'Vonna Robertson said, "We don't want the board of trustees to adopt the attitude that it is OK to stop hiring blacks for IU's administrative positions. We need more diverse leadership at Indiana University."\nFar from being altruistic, the BSU is only concerned with black interests, pressuring IU to fill President Herbert's and Coach Davis's spots with other black administrators. But where is the pressure to fill COAS Dean Subbaswamy's position with another Indian? East Asians, particularly Koreans, form a large minority on campus, yet this group is almost completely absent from the administration.\nSo the question remains, why does reference to diversity almost exclusively refer to black people? Because it is the BSU that is protesting most vocally.\nI can't fault the BSU for having a self-interest-driven agenda, but I can fault IU for actually caving in to the protests. Charlie Nelms, vice president for institutional development and student affairs, said in a Monday IDS story, "It's not enough to have an affirmative action policy. We need to make diversity in searches a University priority."\nThe same story also said that IU raising admission standards would "affect diversity" (read: decrease the number of black students).\nBoth Nelms's comment and the concern about standards raises an important issue: IU must choose either the most qualified or the most diverse administration and student body. In an ideal world, these would coincide; but we do not, and never will, live in an ideal world.\nIf IU wants to hire the most qualified administrators and admit the brightest student body, it is going to have to push diversity into the margin. Whether the most qualified candidates are minorities or not, race must be overlooked for ability. And I cannot but be reminded of Martin Luther King's statement that someone's race cannot determine "content of his character."\nWhich brings me back to the motto on the jail: if you have integrity, respect and service, why should diversity matter? And contrariwise, does diversity justify corruption, rudeness and incompetence? IU, by choosing the diversity option, answers "yes" to the latter question.
Nearly a year ago, the U.S. Department of Education relaxed its stringent adherence to Title IX.\nWhat exactly does that mean for us? Title IX is an amendment to the federal law passed in 1972 with the ultimate goal of "gender equality" in education. Part of it forces equal representation of the sexes in athletics. The new, relaxed interpretation states that representation of female athletic programs need only be proportional to female interest in them, which can be determined from surveys.\nI say relaxing this law is not enough: we need to trash Title IX altogether. It is archaic, unjust and detrimental to university fund raising.\nEstrogen-crazed feminazis might call this a misogynistic enforcement of the patriarchy (and no doubt look for a phallic symbol to offend them along the way), but the sane among us should only look at such a repeal as fair and rooted in common sense.\nHere's why: Each men's varsity sport must have a corresponding women's varsity sport, according to the old interpretation of Title IX. It defined equal representation among the sexes as having equal proportion in numbers without consideration of the types of sports each sex would prefer. With sports such as swimming, tennis, golf and even volleyball, Title IX is not truly an issue since their participants are about equally divided between men and women. Title IX runs into problems, though, with football and hockey, interest in which is overwhelmingly male.\nSchools must scramble to either find women's-only sports to balance the predominantly male ones, create the preposterous-sounding women's football teams or recruit women to their male teams. A few female kickers have appeared on college football teams, but aside from these incidents, Title IX still presents universities with a problem.\nThe elephant in the living room with respect to Title IX is this: Nobody really cares about female sports outside of the participants. I guarantee the vast majority of those reading this now have never attended or watched a female sporting event outside of tennis. Call it cultural bias or whatever, but sweaty, muscle-bound women grunting over a ball is not as much of a crowd-pleaser as men doing the same thing. And nothing is wrong with that.\nBecause of this popularity discrepancy, universities get short-changed. Men's sports are where the money is for any organization because their popularity attracts advertisers and vendors like flypaper. A female sport -- especially one for which there is no interest -- is a drain on the budget because it uses funds to essentially pay lip-service to Title IX and cuts out a potentially lucrative men's sport. \nThe IU Club Hockey team has been playing excellently in the recent finals -- it is ranked third overall -- but it is relegated to a club sport because absence of female interest in hockey means that Title IX precludes it as a university sport, according to www.IUhockey.org. This is an excellent potential source of lucrative advertisement (especially considering professional hockey's popularity), yet the University must suffer financially because of a Great Society law more than 30 years old.\nDo not confuse sex discrimination with common sense: A childish and inane notion that gender equality depends upon numbers is hampering universities' abilities to raise funds. Remember this at the next tuition hike.
Since a few columns appeared in this paper that opposed the upcoming visit of Ann Coulter, I figured she at least merits one in her favor.\nAccording to the IDS article announcing her speech, "protesters" at Coulter's speeches have thrown pies at her and shouted her down with "you suck."\nFreshman Danielle Weissberg was quoted in the same article as planning her own protest here.\n"I hope that other students will join me in sending a message that speakers who preach such morally reprehensible things should not be invited to speak to students," she said.\nWeissberg has transmitted the usual liberal line: if someone disagrees with you, just stifle their voice rather than actually arguing reasonably. What Weissberg regards as "morally reprehensible" may not hold true for others -- and I'll wager it doesn't for the majority.\nLiberals don't consider difference of opinion when spewing off such statements because their reason is clouded by self-righteousness. For them, a woman's "right" to terminate a pregnancy, income redistribution and affirmative action are not debatable topics but moral imperatives that are unquestionable -- and unquestionably right because they themselves are in favor of them.\nFrom this view stems the other half of Weissberg's statement: that speakers like Coulter should not be invited to campus. Rather than allowing listeners to decide for themselves, liberals must silence the opposition with totalitarian policies. The pies and heckling are just childish and petty examples of this epidemic on the left.\nNeedless to say, such a mindset does not give the left very much credibility, but more importantly it stifles the atmosphere of free and intelligent debate that has always been a proud tradition in this country.\nRather than politely standing up during the Q&A session and asking a clever questioned designed to put the opposing view on the defensive, liberal students instead deal with Coulter by heckling, shouting and throwing pies (a technique appropriate for such clowns).\nThese are not protesters -- to protest a view is to disagree; they are not demonstrators -- to demonstrate is to display one's disagreement. They are attempting (and rather comically, I might add) to silence altogether the opposition's views, and that makes them nothing other than fascists. The left throws around "fascism" and "McCarthyism" as its favorite insults to the right, when in reality it is they who actually practice the tactics.\nAnn Coulter has a law degree, has written four "New York Times" bestsellers and writes columns that are nationally syndicated. Not only is she intelligent and well-educated, but has a message that resonates with a broad segment of the public. Isn't anyone curious why that is?\nHere's my advice to any potential hecklers: check out her books, read her columns. If they change your views, great! If not, then you now actually have experience to form the basis of your opinion and a formidable weapon in debate.\nInstead of creating a scene and looking stupid in a futile attempt to silence an eminent speaker, just shut up and listen -- you might actually learn something.
If you dislike Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, that's fine -- go voice your opposing views, but don't cut them off from voicing theirs. That is, unfortunately, exactly what certain Democrats are up to now: rather than intelligently debating the issues, they are seeking government mandate to shut down the airwaves by reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.\nThis concept was born from an antiquated idea of government regulation of speech.\nThe government officially owned airspace in 1927 under the premise that available television and radio frequencies were scarce (not true anymore) and needed to be rationed by government-granted license. In 1934, regulation was given to the newly established Federal Communications Commission, which in 1949 stepped up the regulation by adopting the Fairness Doctrine. This new regulation required that both sides of the spectrum to be given equal airtime on controversial issues of public importance.\nThe doctrine was finally repealed in 1987 when the FCC decided it inhibited rather than advanced debate.\nIn 2005, a number of Democratic congressmen -- including Louise Slaughter and Maurice Hinchey (both D-N.Y. -- did I even need to say that?) -- proposed the Media Reform Act, whose terms include "fairness in broadcasting" and "diversity" of views. They want the doctrine to be law, not just FCC regulation.\nSo, this is how liberals deal with unpopularity. Air America, a liberal talk-radio station, has been a colossal failure because radio audiences simply don't buy into those ideas. They'd rather have Rush, Sean, Bill O'Reilly and all the rest.\nThere can be no doubt that the Fairness Doctrine is specifically intended to hamper conservative talk shows, since that has historically been its effect. Bill Ruddee, a member of the Kennedy administration, blatantly admitted to using the Fairness Doctrine "to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters."\nSo, rather than competing in different ways in the free market, they want to eliminate its freedom altogether. This brings up a larger issue: liberals can only rule by fiat. They so fiercely defend Roe and the Fairness Doctrine because if these decisions were left to the majority as they properly should, the vote would not be with them.\nTo enforce their outdated and socialistic principles, the only avenue is by undemocratic decree. That is elitism at its most haughty -- and it totally out of line with the spirit of this country.\nI doubt this liberal attempt to hijack the airwaves will be successful -- the genie of conservative talk-radio is already out of the bottle. But if by some fluke the doctrine does become law, conservatives should call out this hypocrisy and beat the Fairness Doctrine into a two-edged sword. Require the "New York Times" to balance out its Nicholas Kristof and Maureen Dowd; force balance into the notoriously liberal MSNBC news; and have ABC give us a counterweight to Diane Sawyer.\nI doubt liberals will like these proposals -- they don't want fairness, they want control. Total control. If anyone values true freedom of speech and the right of broadcasting corporations to choose their own audiences and programming, then they should oppose tooth and nail this so-called "Fairness Doctrine" proposal.
"The Barber of Seville" by Gioacchino Rossini first premiered in 1816 in Rome and since then has remained one of the most popular operas. Its melodies have even crept off the operatic stage and into our television sets and would be easily recognizable to listeners with no operatic experience.\nThe performance Friday at the Musical Arts Center was an explosive success in that it went the extra mile to emphasize everything that makes the opera so popular. Two more performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Musical Arts Center. Tickets are $15 to $35 or $10 to $20 for students. \nFirst and foremost, the cast was able to handle the challenging vocal parts, which involved comic and farcical voice modulation as well as the serious operatic demands on the voice. But the cast members not only had to be singers -- they had to be convincing comedians as well, and in this they were perhaps most successful. \nEach player gave such a convincing portrayal of his or her character, each of which was a comic exaggeration of actual personality types, that it was quite easy to forget that the on-stage characters were different from the people portraying them.\nOne of the most convincing roles and certainly the audience's favorite, according to the applause, was Jason Plourde as Figaro, the roguish barber who matches lovers in Seville, Spain. Figaro's sarcasm and lightheartedness play an important part in setting the mood.\nThe roles of the two lovers Figaro arranges to meet were equally well-filled. Rosina was played by Tiffany Rosenquist, whose soprano voice easily tackled the cadenza-like passages in her part written to display the singer's talent. \nFlorin Olimpio-Ormenisan as Count Almaviva had an excellent tenor voice, though it did betray his Romanian origins in its nasal quality, despite excellent Italian diction. His moment of glory came when Almaviva pretends to be a drunk soldier: the ability to cause such chaos on stage and maintain voice quality is certainly an impressive feat.\nAlan Dunbar played a convincing old curmudgeon as Bartolo, an old doctor who wishes to marry the young Rosina. Curtis Cook lent an excellent bass voice and a shabby appearance to his character, Don Basilio, a penniless priest who gives Rosina music lessons.\nThe orchestra ended up being one of the production's most impressive assets. It sounded a little sparse during the overture, as if its string section needed to be beefed up. After the voices were added and the orchestra crept below them as a supplement, any emptiness from the overture was dispelled by the change in function. Tempos were taken at full speed, which benefited the opera with a sense of motion and the jovial Italian flavor characteristic of Rossini. Flying passages such as the end of Act II allowed the orchestra to showcase its full potential independently of the vocalists.\nThe scenery, designed by C. David Higgins, was beautiful and true to the Spanish style. I have been all over Spain, and the style affected on stage was that of Old Castile -- pinkish clay buildings. In Sevilla, the architecture is much more colorful and has a Middle Eastern influence, so a splash of color would have subtly enhanced the visual element, impressive as it already was.\nThe costumes and props generally revolved around the time of the opera's first production -- 1816 or so -- with Bartolo wearing a wig and the count dressed in early 19th-century Spanish military uniform. There were, however, a few troubling anachronisms, such as cameras and photographs, which didn't appear until two decades later. Aside from these, the costumes were well-designed and not overtly gaudy, which made them seem natural and appropriate.\nIt was also nice to see a Rossini opera performed in Italian because the character of the music is so unmistakably Italian that an English translation would seem clumsy and forced. Congratulations to whomever decided to break with the IU custom of translating comic operas into English.\nThe opening production of "The Barber of Seville" brought a packed house to a standing ovation that was well-deserved. If the cast only improves with the amount of performances, then this weekend's shows should be spectacular. They come highly recommended.
Violent protests are raging across the globe and at least a dozen people have been killed because of ... cartoons! The 12 caricatures of Mohammed, specifically. The Danish newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" printed them in September and only recently Danish Muslims brought them to the Islamic world, where the mayhem ensued. Why? In Islam, it is blasphemous to even depict Mohammed, let alone as a caricature.\nThis entire situation can only be described as a travesty of hypocrisy on everyone's part.\nFirst, the Muslims. I can understand their outrage at their religion being attacked. After all, I am Catholic -- my religion is attacked in print on a daily basis.\nWhat really is galling, though, is that the rioters act as if Islam is a helpless victim.\nHere's a tally of Islam's misdeeds: in 2002, Muslims broke into the Church of the Nativity and used pages of Christian holy books as toilet paper; between 1948 and 1967, Muslims destroyed all 57 ancient Jewish temples in Jerusalem and used the masonry for urinals; in 2001, the Taliban destroyed colossal ancient sculptures of Buddha because they were "blasphemous." And every year dozens of Copts (Egyptian Christians) are killed by Muslims for their religious beliefs.\nIt seems Islam can deal out plenty of religious venom, but a series of childish cartoons is enough to make the entire Islamic world cry out indignantly.\nThe Europeans' hypocrisy is even worse. At least the Muslims are motivated by faith; the Europeans don't even have a stance on the issue (surprise!).\n"We might not like them, but we will defend the right of anyone to publish them," said Roger Koeppel, editor of Die Welt, a German newspaper that is reprinting the cartoons. \nReally? A German editor should know more than anyone that not everything can be published. Ask Koeppel if his paper will run a column denying the Holocaust's existence or an article about Hitler. Any mention of Nazism is staunchly stifled in Germany, yet insulting a religion is "free speech." It would appear some speech is freer than others, specifically speech that falls in line with the accepted political trends.\nThe other equally hypocritical European reaction is condemnation of the cartoons.\n"There's a real sense of outrage. I think what's more healthy about the situation ... is that that sense of outrage stretches across all communities," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair.\nI would have liked to have seen similar widespread outrage at the "artworks" depicting a crucifix submerged in urine or the Blessed Virgin sculpted from dung. Where was the cross-community outrage and official denunciations? Why were people demanding the removal of that "art" seen as religious fanatics pushing for theocracy?\nThe West sadly does not know what stance to take because that's a side effect of believing in nothing. It has thrown away its identity and has no foundation for its civilization, or what's left of it at least. The Muslims, on the other hand, know exactly what drives them and do an excellent job of masking their one-sidedness.\nThis scary moral vacuum with people willing to fill it ought to concern the Europeans as much as it does me.
Audiences this weekend will be treated to one of the most famous operas ever written, Gioacchino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville." The IU Opera Theatre will perform the work in the original Italian script with English supertitles.\nThe performances will feature some of IU's greatest vocal talent personified in its student singers.\nTiffany Rosenquist, a third-year master's student, plays Rosina, the main female role in the opera. \n"I started studying voice when I was 12 and did 15 productions of both musical and regular theater in high school," Rosenquist said. "I had no exposure to opera and didn't know I wanted to be an opera singer."\nRosenquist soon discovered and embraced the operatic genre.\n"I was cast in operas (at IU) and in my junior year, I decided I loved opera and wanted to pursue it," she said.\nShe said this is her first leading operatic role.\nAnother leading role in the opera is Figaro, played by Jason Plourde, who is simultaneously finishing his master's and beginning his doctoral coursework. Like Rosenquist, Plourde's first musical experience was through jazz and musical theater. \nIn the opera, Rosina and Figaro love each other, but Count Almaviva is going after Rosina and Figaro tries to stop him.\nIn 2001, Plourde said he was cast in his first big role as the Count in Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro."\n"For grad school I auditioned at IU because it had -- and still has -- the best vocal program in the country," he said, "and since then I've been singing."\n Since the casting used one soprano and one mezzo (one for each weekend), Rosenquist's voice teacher encouraged her to audition.\nThe opera theater casts two performers per role, with one cast performing two days and the other cast performing the other two. Also playing the role of Rosina is Jennifer Feinstein, and Phillip Dothard as Figaro.\n"I also sort of lucked out," Rosenquist said. "Everyone else figured a lot of people would want the role, so they went for other roles. So there wasn't much competition."\nAfter facing adjustments to his voice, Plourde learned the part's most important aria and sung it at the audition.\n"This is most likely my last IU show, and I'll go out with a bang," he said.\nRosenquist and Plourde both gave the same advice for aspiring operatic stars: Have lots of practice and a will to never to give up.\n"I'm going to be 27," Plourde said, "and it's taken as many years to be able to sing this part."\nRosenquist offered more specific advice.\n"Find a good teacher that believes in you and has the same goal," she said. "Also, learn Italian. Grasping the language you sing really gives you an edge"
The floodgates have been opened, at least in countries with "gay marriage" -- oxymoron though it is. In the Netherlands cohabitation contracts are in use and in Canada lawsuits for multiple marriages have begun. I also should mention the British woman who married a dolphin (though she didn't do so with a government license).\n"Gay marriage" is a stepping-stone to the complete degradation of the institution of marriage. If two people of the same sex can marry, why not have a polygamous wedding? Why not marry between species, even?\nThe argument against this slippery-slope theory is absurd: that marriage is traditionally defined as between two people. First off, proponents of gay marriage really oughtn't to be using traditional definitions in their arguments. Also, and more saliently, the polygamists have a much better claim to tradition than "gay marriage" proponents -- just ask any old-time Mormon or Saudi royal. Polygamy actually has a much longer tradition than same-sex marriages, which actually have no tradition at all.\nBut why should we honestly care? After all, whatever makes one happy can do no harm, right? Dead wrong. We are happiest when we are least responsible, and if our last end were happiness, would it be acceptable human behavior to copulate at random like animals regardless of consequences?\nMarriage is not about happiness, it's about children. Its purposes are to ensure the legitimacy of children, to provide both resources and care for their support and to provide a structure that ensures both the protection and moral upbringing of children. In short, it is an institution designed to stabilize society by stabilizing future generations. It is about love that takes the form of responsibility and duty, not childish infatuation.\nOf course marriage has its flukes here and there, such as abusive, inattentive or missing parents, but the institution has been an overwhelming success as far as building civilization is concerned.\nThe problem with "alternative lifestyles" is that they cannot reproduce this environment regardless of how much they try. A couple of the same sex cannot by any stretch of the imagination produce a child, and attempting to raise an adopted child in this impossible situation would be at best awkward. I'm no child psychologist, but I find that the situation's instability and muddled roles would greatly arrest child development.\nWith several state courts arguing for "gay marriage," such as in Washington, this issue has become urgent to this country. Responsible citizens should ignore the red-herring arguments about happiness and the "right to marry." Remember what marriage is designed to do and consider the possible consequences. On a small scale, erosion of marriage will create another bizarre, unstable and confused counterculture. On a massive scale, it can mean no less than the fall of civilization.\nThe fight to preserve an institution that has allowed the human race to become civilized and developed should be valued by everyone who appreciates the benefits it has allowed us to reap.
"Liberal professors" is a typically stereotyped idea. But, as I always say, stereotypes would not exist if there were no pattern of behavior on which to base them. Yes, many, if not most, professors are liberal, and many of them pose a threat to freedom of education.\nLet me make a clear distinction between liberal professors and professors who happen to be liberal. A professor can be as liberal as he wants, but as long as his personal political views do not affect the material being taught, he isn't a liberal professor -- just an ordinary professor who holds his own views on the side.\nLiberal professors, on the other hand, use their position to indoctrinate, not educate, and threaten with academic or disciplinary consequences anyone who is of a different political opinion. And these liberal professors are not liberal in the sense that they support unions or a "progressive" tax system. No, they are the Ward Churchill types: radical, neo-positivist, feminazi, reverse-racist, pinko-commie 60's burnouts who are card-carrying members of the Green party. Or, put more simply, quite insane.\nThe insanity at UCLA has reached epic proportions, apparently -- enough so that some concerned alumni have put together an organization that pays students to tape-record liberal professors. Along with the tape, the student submits notes and course materials and the organization uses these to judge whether the professor is violating academic freedom.\nUCLA's reaction? Threats. They warned that professors' lectures are copyrighted material and that distribution is illegal.\nMy question to this: if the liberal professors are imaginary -- if UCLA has nothing to hide -- why must they resort to threatening legal action against lecture recorders? The university knows exactly what goes on in the lecture halls, and its efforts to keep the dirt out of the public eye shows the university's silent support of these loons.\nAnd yes, they are very much loons. Take, for example, UCLA professor Douglas Kellner, who refers to the "Bush Reich." And that's only scratching the surface: dozens of such profiles exist on www.uclaprofs.com, the alumni group's website.\nIn my four years at IU, I have been fortunate enough never to have a UCLA-grade professor. I have had ones who were clearly liberal, but they never let their views affect the way the material was taught or the grades of those who did not share their opinions (at least as far as I'm aware).\nI'm not sure -- but I'd like to verify it -- that this holds true for other IU students. Considering English programs have a reputation for being notoriously liberal, I'm willing to bet IU as a whole has not succumbed to the liberal professor disease.\nIf any readers are running into issues with liberal (or, less likely, conservative) professors throwing academic objectivity and intelligent debate out the window and setting their own views down as the indisputable truth, I remind them that this educational ivory tower is best overturned by the students themselves. Exposure to the public eye is like daylight to a vampire for these professors -- let everyone know how totalitarian these supposed "voices of intelligent discourse" actually are.
Though it seems impossible, Hollywood has stooped to a new low: remaking Wagner operas into movies. The film "Tristan and Isolde," released this past Friday, essentially takes the tragic and groundbreaking Richard Wagner opera and makes it into a travesty approaching soft-core porn, if the trailers are at all reflective of the film's whole.\nI have not seen, nor do I intend to see, this film because the original w me effect as the original, chiefly because ... it isn't the original!\nNext are the films based on books. While these films use imagination to transform words into images, they still rely on a story that someone else wrote. "The Chronicles of Narnia," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Pride and Prejudice" all fall in this category, and again I give the abridged list because space in this column is limited. One could also group "The Producers" and "Tristan and Isolde" in this category. Though not based on books, they rely on yet another art form for characters and plot.\nLastly, films based on historical events have been frequent as well. "Munich" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" come to mind, if the latter is counted as history and not propaganda. This genre is almost excusable because it brings true events to dramatic life, but it still relies on actual people and events for characters and plot.\nWhen the most original films of the year are "Wedding Crashers" and "40-Year-Old Virgin," it's not really all that surprising to see why Hollywood hasn't been doing all that well. Even these pretenses at originality are sordid and banal, catered to the least common denominator.\nHollywood's inability to look forward and create something original is what I'd call a nationwide syndrome: everyone looks back. Whether it's the pathetic, gray-haired, geriatric hippie who refuses to believe the '60s are over or congressmen who still think we're in Vietnam, nobody seems able to shake off their past and remember it instead of reliving it.\nAmerica has become a culture mired in "I Love the '60s/'70s/'80s," one that prides itself in fondue parties, horn-rimmed glasses and the Rolling Stones (whose name ought to be the Gravestones). But the generation that gloried in these is aging and dying, and what will the rest of us be left with? Only the memories of a relived youth that wasn't our own.\nIt is up to us, the younger generation, more than ever to look to the future, to define ourselves not based on our parents' generation, but on our own cultural accomplishments. Failure to do so will only condemn not only our generation, but America itself, to an outdated relic of the past, unable to live up to its reputation for innovation and groundbreaking originality.
The three-ring circus that is the Alito hearings is now well underway (with Arlen Specter as ringmaster and Ted Kennedy as trumpeting bull-elephant), and I had the opportunity to watch some of the introductory statements by the Judiciary Committee members. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) mentioned something in her statement that caught my attention: She referred to the "bedrock principle of one person, one vote," a principle she accused Alito of disagreeing with.\nThough she may be liberal, Feinstein is not stupid -- she has to know that "one man, one vote" is built into the Constitution, but it is by no means a "bedrock" principle. Conceding this point would admit Alito's disagreement with the Warren Court's reapportionment decisions has credence, and she is hell-bent on his rejection.\nFeinstein herself is an example of the Constitution not being based solely on "one man, one vote:" her own state's 36 million citizens get the exact same number of seats in the Senate as Wyoming's 500,000 and Alaska's 663,000.\nJames Madison stated in Federalist Paper No. 39 that each state "will be represented on the principal of equality in the Senate." Thus, "one man, one vote" was subjected to states' equality in this regard.\nThen there is the Electoral College. Thorny though it might be to some, it was written into the Constitution as a safeguard against the complications of tallying every last vote. Alexander Hamilton writes in Federalist Paper No. 68, "the precautions which have been so happily concerted in (the Electoral College) promise an effectual security against this mischief," referring to the "tumult and disorder" involved in popular elections.\nFinally, the Constitution included the three-fifths compromise, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person when determining representation based on population. Derided as "racist," this provision was actually designed to limit the power of the slave states in Congress by allotting to them fewer representatives.\nThese three provisions of the Constitution alone are enough to debunk the myth of "bedrockness" with respect to "one man, one vote." Never mind that Alito himself is the selection of a man elected by the Electoral College who a body of disproportionately representative officials must ratify.\nFeinstein's comment is not only inaccurate, but dangerous. Motivated by political expediency (the rejection of Alito based on his disagreement with this myth) rather than truth, it is a slurry of catch-words and political niceties that sooth the uneducated ears but betray the true intentions of the Constitution's framers. Anyone taking Feinstein's words seriously -- and I pray she herself does not -- will be deceived by their simplicity and be ignorant of the true role that "one man, one vote" plays in the Constitution. This principle is balanced against disproportionate voting and life-appointment to provide variegated elements of a system working in concordance to form the well-oiled machine that is the United States government.\nWe must not let ourselves be fooled by pretty words, even from our own senators. The Constitution works as it was intended, and that intention should not be skewed to suit personal political whims.