Author: Madeline McGuffin

Baseball team pulls off upset in game one

The St. Olaf baseball team’s long-standing rivalry with the University of St. Thomas came to a head Saturday, April 30, in a grueling doubleheader at St. Olaf’s Mark Almli Field. Cheered on by a loyal and enthusiastic crowd, the Oles came out of the first game with a surprising victory and ceded the second game to the Tommies.

The skies of Northfield were gray with violent winds and scattered showers, but morale remained high. The foul weather had no visible effect on the Oles, as St. Olaf scored four times in its final two at-bats to achieve a 5-2 victory over the Tommies.Aside from a near-toe amputation as a result of a foul ball hit by Joe Keiski ’19, and the near-busted windshield of a car parked too close to the field, it was a clean game. All of the fans were on the edge of their seats.

The offense played admirably, but the backbone of the victory was undoubtedly starting pitching Will Gustafson ’18. Despite surrendering two runs early on, Gustafson quickly rebounded by throwing three consecutive scoreless innings. The excellent performance brought Gustafson’s ERA down to 3.48, third best on the team.

Thomas Peterson ’19 replaced Gustafson for the final inning, striking out two Tommies without allowing a single base hit. The Oles handed the Tommies their fourth conference loss of the season, clinching their first victory against their longtime rivals since 2009.

Though the first contest resulted in an upset victory for the underdog Oles, the second was not quite so favorable. Though the Oles fought hard, it was St. Thomas who prevailed in round two. The Tommies overcame a 6-1 deficit with a seven-run sixth inning, eventually overcoming the Oles 10-7.

The Oles kept fighting in spite of the Tommies’ rally. Ole golden boy Tim Maus ’16 was soon 2-for-3 with three runs in the second game, along with a walk and an RBI. Thomas Peterson ’19, Sam Stuckmayer ’19, and Will Cipos ’19 also had two hits for the Oles in game two. Despite falling just short, the Oles fought until the bitter end.

Despite remaining in last place, Ole baseball demonstrated impressive resilience in the face of a formidable St. Thomas opponent. The impressive victory in game one proved that the future is bright for this team, and excitement for the future is palpable.

mcguffin@stolaf.edu

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Politics override free speech in Germany

Freedom of speech is an irrevo- cable and nonnegotiable right in America. This is something that is widely accepted and utilized by U.S. citizens, as we know there will be no legal repercussions or consequences to anything that we feel needs to be said, no matter how controversial it may be. If someone told you that you could do extensive jail time for making use of a right that you are born with, what would you do? How would you cope? German satirist Jan Böhmermann is facing this situ- ation right now, and it is unclear to many people why.

In a late-night German televi- sion program airing at the end of March, Böhmermann was shown reading a poem seated in front of a Turkish flag beneath a framed por- trait of Recep Erdogan, the current president of Turkey. This poem was the catalyst of the controversy, as it included a description of Erdogan as “repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians while watching child porn.”

The backlash that followed this exposé may not have been a surprise in Turkey, where Erdogan is a well known enemy of free speech, but it is surprising that it is happening in Germany. The Turkish govern- ment immediately sent a request to Germany imploring the govern- ment to hold Böhmermann legally responsible, even to incarcerate him for up to three years for his condemnation of the Turkish president.

This controversy has not only triggered massive debates on the topic of free speech in Germany, but has also brought up the topic of whether or not Europe has become too diplomatically dependent on the Erdogan, who is a huge proponent of media censorship.

After Turkey’s request, Böhmermann came under investi- gation by the German state prosecutor on April 6, specifically for his alleged violation of a deeply buried caveat of Germany’s criminal code, which makes it illegal to insult foreign state representatives. In an effort to pacify the Turkish government and deter them from pressing legal charges, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a formal state- ment claiming Böhmermann’s poem as a “deliberately offensive text” that

the entire problem.

Some have characterized the idea of

student equity as “indentured servitude.” Personally, I disagree and think that selling portions of future earn- ings is an innovative solution to the problem as it stands now. In fact, a central benefit of the arrangement is that it gives students greater freedom in choosing a profession, because they would not feel as obliged to shoot for the highest salary possible straight out of college in order to pay off a mountain of debt. Whether they become a banker or a teacher, they would pay the same portion of their income.

Of course, this is precisely why the investors would have incentive to find students who are motivated, diligent, smart and show signs of future mon- etary success. Here lies another reason why the plan is brilliant: it efficiently allocates the funding from investors

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Tibetan Buddhism enlightens

On Tuesday, April 12, Carleton professor Roger Jackson gave students a crash course in Tibetan Buddhism in Viking Theater. The event, hosted by St. Olaf College Team Tibet, began with a lecture and ended with ten minutes of guided meditation.

Jackson described five different religious orientations and modalities, specifically the differences between Bon and Buddhism. The Bodhi orientation utilizes frequent meditation to achieve individual spiritual goals. Though this orientation is not as common as many of the others, even within the monastic class, it does still occur.

The Karma orientation is directed more at laypeople than at those in the Sangha (Buddhist monks and nuns), as it is based solely around creating merit for oneself. Jackson explained that if a person does well in their current life and builds up enough good karma, they have a much higher likelihood of a rebirth into a higher level of livelihood in the next life.

The Pragmatic orientation, the most hard-hitting of all the orientations, attempts to achieve specific results in life in the here and now. This could include praying for better weather or a healthier romantic relationship.

The Shamanic modality fits more precisely with the Bon religion, as it describes more wild, charismatic and visionary methods of worship, while the Clerical modality depicts classical Tibetan Buddhism, as it is very institutionalized, intellectual and structured.

The exile of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, from Tibet in 1959 forced him to flee to India and settle in Dharamsala. This caused a mass exodus of Tibetans to follow His Holiness to India, which today has become home to a massive population of exiled Tibetans. Minneapolis and St. Paul also have a substantial Tibetan population – the second largest in the United States.

To conclude the lecture, Jackson led a traditional Tibetan meditation session.

mcguffin@stolaf.edu

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Music’s effect on brain function explored

Ever wonder what goes on inside your brain while you listen to music? Ever wonder how that might be affected by brain damage? Dr. Amy Belfi ’10 answered both of these questions and more during her lecture, “Your Brain on Music: Exploring the Relationships Between Music and Diverse Cognitive Function,” on Monday, March 7. Belfi’s concisely packaged lecture illuminated the deeper realities behind how cognitive damage can affect how people listen to and understand music.

She began her lecture with a personal example, relaying her time in the St. Olaf Cantorei choir during Christmasfest. The specific memories she has attached to this period are intrinsically linked to the songs she sang during that year’s performances.

She discussed how when she hears these songs she remembers very small details such as smells, textures and emotions. The way that music is so closely linked to memory is similar to the bond that smell and memory have, in the way that when you experience them you can become overwhelmed with nostalgia.

Belfi divided her lecture up into three sections, the first of which discussed language specifically related to names of musical pieces. According to Belfi, damage to the left temporal lobe of the brain can render you incapable of naming things, though you will still be able to recognize them.

To exemplify her point, Belfi did a case study during which she presented 15 test subjects, 10 of which with left temporal lobe damage, with 52 popular melodies. She then asked them if they recognized the tunes and if they could identify them. Though the subjects with damage to the left temporal lobe could recognize a typical number of the songs, they scored significantly lower than the other subjects in identification. She ran the same test with identification of musical instruments, finding similar results.

The second segment of the lecture was primarily concerned with memory and how it is evoked through music. Belfi completed another study testing her theory that music-evoked memories are more vivid than memories from other cues. She specifically curated music that her subjects would have heard during the time they were 15-30 years old. This is the primary age period of people’s lives from which memories can be evoked. While playing the music for her subjects, she transcribed their corresponding memories.

Through this study, Belfi determined that music-evoked memories are in fact more internal, or emotional, and that the medial prefrontal cortex is necessary for music-evoked autobiographical memories.

The third segment of Belfi’s lecutre focused on emotion, and I found it to be the most interesting part. As could be expected, brain damage can often result in an impaired emotional response to music.

This impairment is often exhibited through the disorder called “music anhedonia,” which means overall loss in pleasure through listening to music. Though music anhedonia exists, it is extremely rare according to Belfi. The rarity of it may in fact suggest the use of music in therapeutic sessions for people with brain damage. Even if someone has brain damage in any region, they almost always can garner a lot of pleasure through listening to music regardless.

Belfi’s lecture was thoroughly fascinating and understandable to a wide audience, even science laypeople such as myself. She illustrated many enlightening topics of the relationship between your brain and music, as well as the possibility of becoming a successful adult with a bright future after graduating from St. Olaf College.

mcguffin@stolaf.edu

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Hairy Who pops on film

“Even though it is creepily grotesque, there is something beautiful about it.” This sentence perfectly summarizes the Hairy Who artistic movement in 1960’s Chicago. One of the most infamous artist collectives in American history, the Hairy Who collective has been immortalized through the documentary Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists.

On Monday, Feb. 22, the documentary played in Regents Hall of Natural Sciences 150. The film was presented by one of the filmmakers and the director of the non-profit organization that helped to fund it’s making. Taking around four years to complete, this documentary describes the vital essence of a revolutionary group of artists who started a counter-cultural revolution amidst 20th century surrealist art and made themselves internationally famous in the process.

With Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists, filmmaker Brian Ashby not only incorporates the artistic elements of their work, but also the societal impact of their art. The premise of the art itself, ostentatious and farcical humanoid forms, was shocking at the time of its introduction. The influence of comics of the time was massive on these artists, who adopted the bright, child-like expressions of the strips in a darker way. Described by one of the artists as a “love of outcast objects, fascinated with darker and realer aspects of the human psyche,” this somewhat disturbing movement drew a surprisingly large following of collectors. “Not everything about me is desirable or beautiful, and I believe this art was a way of giving myself permission to express a wider spectrum of myself,” states a collector in the film.

Hairy Who’s installations grew increasingly ambitious and aggressive over time, especially with the anti-Vietnam war movement and the period of assassinations during the 60s and early 70s. Viewed as the amateurs with the “grubby kid stuff” by the other major art cities in America at the time, Hairy Who was seen as the grungy one who was bringing vulgarities into the art world. The main curator for the collective, Dan Baum, eventually convinced Hairy Who that they were competing not against each other, but against the rest of the world. This made them stronger as a collective, and more influential internationally.

The filmmakers capture the vitality and magic that Hairy Who brought to the world, and the aesthetic value is brilliant as well. I was impressed with the apparent effort that had gone into making this film, and would highly recommend any future screening.

mcguffin@stolaf.edu

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