This is the face of panel culture!

CRDaily

In 1975, Michel Foucault taught a seminar at Berkeley nominally about Emile Zola. However, Stephen Greenblatt,  rock star of contemporary American literary criticism and frequent attendee of Foucault’s lectures, reminisces that Foucault rarely, if ever, mentioned Zola by name. Instead, he dealt with the evolving concepts of confession and penance in the medieval Catholic Church, “from a once-for-all, lifelong public status to a tariff system of penalties based upon the precise nature of the sin confessed, to a complex, sliding scale of penitential practices whose severity was determined by the sinner’s inward assent or resistance to the sin he or she had committed.” As the conception changed so too did the mechanism priests used to extract confessions from their parishioners. By the end of this development the Catholic Church started erecting “special confessional booths for privacy” and distributing “increasingly sophisticated manuals for confessors.” Foucault argued that this “pastoral technology” didn’t simply facilitate different modes of confession, but it shaped the way that laypeople viewed and even experienced their own sin.

Foucault’s central lesson that the way in which a person learns to interpret their life determines how they construct and participate in their life’s narrative(s) can be applied to Carolina’s mania for panels. It seems that every potentially controversial event on campus from hate crime hoaxes to the looming threat of Snoop Dogg visiting campus requires a hastily planned panel where the socially conscious meet to agree at each other in a round table format.  A Foucaultian (sp?) reading of this tendency might argue that training ourselves to react to every public scandal as a panelable moment directs us to spontaneously respond to each event as if it were a panel topic. Having occasionally attended these panels as a freshman/sophomore, and then weening myself from the habit despite the frequent promise of free cookies and/or beverages, I can attest to the fact that in aiming for the lowest common denominator of inoffensive compromise, public panels of this sort at best arrive at vapidly agreeable but ultimately useless propositions, such as: “racism is bad,” “free speech is good,” “rape is bad,” “Led Zeppelin is good.” Thus, our obsession with panels will cause our thinking on undeniably meaningful issues to be restricted to such bland sentiments, eventually rendering our public discourse anemic and unable to actually solve the dilemmas facing our institution.

All I want for Christmas is March Madness

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Yesterday, I saw a sign on Franklin St. that asked, “Do you have NIT fever?”

NIT fever.

It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen at UNC. Frankly, I’d rather pretend the NIT didn’t exist. Let’s talk about the NCAA tournament.

Every season I agonize over my bracket. March is the one time each year that my otherwise inappropriate obsession with basketball becomes mainstream. So in the four days between Selection Sunday and the start of the tournament, I release a lot of pent-up energy researching for my bracket. I start by dutifully looking at general team characteristics, coaching styles, wins vs. top 50 teams, etc., but eventually delve into terrifyingly raw philosophical deconstructions and epistemic paradoxes. Every year I go on a journey from hope to desperation to exhaustion to existential angst to a recognition of my own insignificance in the universe to the understanding that Georgia Tech simply doesn’t have the guard play to deal with Oklahoma State’s press.

To avoid a post of Jonesian proportions, I’ll only write about the most intriguing games.

East

#5 Temple vs. #12 Cornell: A lot of people have Cornell winning. Cornell has become one of this year’s biggest “water-cooler dandies”- people who follow basketball a moderate amount have heard of Cornell’s surprising flirtation with the top 25, know that they’re supposed to be good but don’t exactly know why and are mostly picking them as an upset special to impress their equally semi-informed friends. But I don’t see it. Temple and Cornell play very similar styles, mostly because Temple’s coach (Fran Dunphy, who was spent four years coaching under the venerable Gary Williams) was Cornell’s coach’s mentor. Temple’s just plays that style better. They handily beat Penn, who handily beat Cornell. The most telling stat to me: Temple holds its opponents to 28% 3-point shooting (Cornell’s offense runs on the three). In the end, I don’t think the mystical forces of fashionability can overcome talent.

Final four pick: Kentucky. West Virginia could be tough in the Elite 8, but they’re just so boring. They only have one real scoring threat (a relative term in the case of West Virginia). Kentucky’s inexperience scares me a little, but they’re just so talented. Of course, when it comes to teams coached by John Calipari, the number of final four appearances is probably directly proportional to the number of recruiting violations committed.

South

#4 Purdue vs. #13 Siena: Purdue is without their #2 scorer and rebounder Robbie Hummel. They scored 11 points in the first half of their last game (they only had 4 points in the first 16 minutes). This kind of feels like a trap. Siena seems like an all-too-easy upset pick. But then again

#8 California vs. #9 Louisville: This year’s batch of 8/9 games is relatively disappointing. Cal/Louisville is the most interesting 8/9 game to me. Louisville did beat Syracuse twice. But Louisville hasn’t done much outside of beating Syracuse, and they have trouble defending the three, which is one of Cal’s strong points. I’d lean towards Cal.

Final Four pick: Baylor. I mean, Duke does have an unconscionably easy road to the final four. But Baylor does have LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter. Not only are their names awesome, they’re also one of the nation’s better one-two scoring threats. And, if Duke’s outside shooting is off, they’ll have to deal with Ekpe Udoh, the nation’s fifth-ranked shot blocker. So Baylor winning isn’t inconceivable.

West

#4 Vanderbilt vs. #13 Murray State: Each year, there are one or two teams that shoot over 50% while holding their opponents to less than 40% shooting.  The 30 win Murray State is one of those statistical anomalies this year. Plus, Vanderbilt is a really weak four seed. I love Murray State for the upset.

Second Round

#5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State: I have a friend whose opinion I respect who has Butler losing to UTEP in the first round. I would love to see a UTEP/ Murray State match-up. Either way, I have Murray State in my Sweet 16.

Final four pick: Kansas State. I was leaning this way anyways, but with Onuaku iffy, I feel pretty certain about this pick.

Midwest

Second Round

#3 Georgetown vs. #7 Tennessee: This is hard to pick, simply because both of these teams are so bipolar. Both have really good wins (Tennessee beat Kansas and Kentucky, Georgetown beat Syracuse, Villanova, Duke, and Pittsburg) and they both have bad losses (Tennessee just lost to Kentucky 74-45, Georgetown has lost to Rutgers and South Florida)

#4 Maryland vs. #5 Michigan State: I know some people picking Michigan State simply because of Tom Izzo. But frankly, I don’t respect any team that lost to UNC this year.

Final four pick: Kansas. This is a really loaded bracket, so there are a couple of viable candidates. To me it comes down to: Sherrod Collins + Cole Aldrich +Xavier Henry +  Marcus Morris> Evan Turner (but just barely).

For now, Duke delenda est.

LTMWWTOS (Last The Man Who Was Thursday Of the Semester)

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I have a grim announcement to make (cue that one Green Day song they play at graduation parties and the end of TV series): because of the start of exams next week this is going to be my last column of the semester.

Anyways, we at the Carolina Review are currently preparing for the spring semester. Starting with the next issue, my co-Editor Bryan Weynand will be transitioning into an advisory role as he prepares to graduate. His time as Editor has coincided with our paper’s golden age. He will certainly be missed next year.

Bryan’s impending graduation has gotten me thinking about my own legacy. One thing I’m particularly concerned with is our institutional longevity. I want to know that whatever momentum we’ve built over the last few years won’t peter out once the current editorial staff moves on.

The Man Who Was Thursday is one of the most important parts of that legacy. When I graduate, I want to pass this column along to an underclassmen who can keep the TMWWT franchise alive. So, I’ve developed an application to become TMWWT’s apprentice. Applicants should perform any and all of the tasks on this SAT (Snark Aptitude Test) that pique their interest in the comment section. You do not have to be on staff to apply.

Post a link to your favorite viral video. (I think that in the modern world you can tell more about a person by knowing the youtube videos he or she watches than by knowing just about anything else)

Write three original staff award ideas.

Give yourself and at least one other staff member a nickname. For example: Lord Nashington

Hitler: thumbs up or down? (sadly, I actually have to ask this to screen applicants)

Would you rather have Sarah Palin as your President or your best friend’s mom.

How many sweaters do you own?

Write three portmanteaus using the word “bro.” For example: Broseph McCarthy or brocassional. (This is a test of your brocabulary)

Midget puns: go.

Fill in the Blank:

Chris Jones has ____ hidden around campus.

Eat the ____.

Write a simile that describes how narcissistic this post is.

WASPketball

CRDaily

Every year as basketball season kicks off, I become nostalgic for my own basketball career. Surprising as it might be to some readers, I was a serious basketball player growing up. Over the years, I played on some very select, very good teams.

One experience, though, is especially illuminating given our very race-conscious surroundings. In 2001, I played on a summer league team on which I was the only white player.

Of course, I stood out because of my race. Whenever my parents showed up to one of our games, one of the officials invariably joked that he could guess who my parents were. And all of my nicknames involved the fact that I was white. I’m pretty sure that some of my teammates’ parents didn’t know my real name but, rather, knew me only as “Vanilla Ice.”

Looking back, though, my race didn’t really affect much. There was a little bit of tension over the fact that I started ahead of several black players, but that was never too serious. Our coach was black, so accusations of racial discrimination rang a bit hollow. Any racial strife didn’t get in our way, as we went undefeated.

But, while race didn’t really divide our team, differences in socio-economic status did, at least to some degree. As a middle-upper-middle class WASP, I had been raised in a different cultural milieu than my teammates (a couple of whom acquired criminal records and failed to graduate from high school on time).

This didn’t really affect what happened on the court nearly as much as it affected my performance of the little rituals that surround the game. For instance, I was forbidden from trash-talking, mostly because I once accidentally used the word “lugubrious” in one of my ill-conceived taunts.

However, my upbringing did give me advantages in other areas. I was always assigned to be the guy who complained to the refs about dubious calls. Excuse me sir, I believe you have erred grievously in assigning a foul to my cohort. While I do respect your position, I would only ask- nay, beseech you to be more cautious as the competition continues.

But, most significantly, I brought Diversity to the team. Case in point: during warm-ups, our coach usually played music to pump us up. Each of the starters got to choose a song to play. My teammates each chose hardcore rap songs, while I favored the Smashing Pumpkins. I firmly believe that any time the angst-ridden vocals of Billy Corgan are united with the ghetto-infused dissonance of gangsta rap, society wins.

Event Planning

CRDaily

Hello out there in internetland. Sorry for not posting anything last week. It was a bit hectic for the Carolina Review, as we hosted the first two events in our history. On Wednesday we hosted a debate (with some pretty awesome moderators) between Prof. Ralph Byrns and Prof. John David Lewis about the morality of government interventions into the free market. Then on Thursday (the fifth of November) we hosted a viewing of the movie “V for Vendetta.” In between the planning and execution of these events, I simply didn’t have time to craft a post worthy of the The Man Who Was Thursday brand.

That said, I think missing a post was definitely worth it. Both events were very successful. In fact, they were so successful that we’re already starting to make plans for our next batch of events.

Personally, I think we should branch out and try some innovative types of events. For instance, I think we could start with a Ronald Reagan Day, during which we honor the most important figure in American conservatism by speaking only in Reagan quotes. Everyone who chooses to participate will be required to find a famous Reagan line to fit each and every situation they are in throughout the day (though, for some conservatives, this won’t actually require any change in behavior at all).

I also think we should have some CR-specific events. I would like to have Chris Jones lead a “How to Survive the Apocalypse” seminar. However, as I reread that event title, I realize that I’m not entirely sure which side of the apocalypse issue Chris is on, so that might end up being “How to Start the Apocalypse.” Either way, it’s probably a good idea to know what weapons Chris favors.

And I would love to host an “Ask Crowder” event. I imagine Justin Crowder sitting in the middle of a circle of his peers, whom we invite to pick Crowder’s brain about any issues they find pressing. That might sound innocuous enough. But knowing both Justin and the student body, I envision it ending with Crowder being showered in a hail of flaming arrows while he defends himself with a twenty foot tall American Flag, all the while shouting phrases like, “the knavery of the scoundrels!”

Finally, I think we should have a Bryan Weynand and Nash Keune Bobble Head Day. Maybe we could just pass them out around campus or even distribute them at basketball games (I mean, the same world in which the CR would have bobble heads is the same world in which we would be able to pass them out at basketball games). For one thing, it would be a good marketing ploy. But more importantly, I’ve always wanted to play with a bobble head of myself (I wonder what a psychoanalyst would have to say about that…).

But, as always, I would love to hear any suggestions you have (maybe something a bit more topical than the apocalypse or bobble heads?).

Update: One of the online comments on the DTH article about the protest against the recent $2,095 appropriation to SDS likened the protest group, which was supposedly composed solely of members of the Carolina Review, to a “right-wing goon squad” (despite the fact that the leader of the protest is a Democrat and only three of the protesters are on our staff).

Now, no such entity actually exists. But, I really wish it did. After all, as one of the Editors of the CR, I would presumably be one of the heads of that goon squad- which would be awesome. And, I mean, if people are going to treat us like we have a goon squad, why don’t we just go ahead and form one?

Of course, before we start our goon squad we would need to have some sort of recruitment and initiation process (sort of like a rush for our reactionary cabal). We already have matching t-shirts for everyone to wear (by the way, we recently uncovered a hidden cachet of Carolina Review shirts; just let me know if you want one).

And, this would give the CR editorial staff the opportunity to haze new recruits. For instance, we could have a “minute of shame,” during which we shout truly awful, terrible, and reprehensible terms at our prospective members to test their mettle, like “open minded,” “multiculturalist,” or “tolerant.” Whew- I shudder just imaging having to call innocent people such thoroughly objectionable words. Anyone who could possibly survive such torture would definitely be able to face whatever might be in store for our goons.

Mid-Semester Awards

CRDaily

I was planning on doing an article soliciting suggestions about a Halloween costume. But one of my friends is going as Dennis Rodman and I can’t imagine topping that, so I decided to come up with some mid-semester Carolina Review Awards (sort of like when pundits give out mid-season awards for professional sports).

Facebook Stalker of the Year: Christopher Jones

Enough said.

Arielle Reid Award: Students for a Democratic Society

We don’t know how this SDS story will end legally, but they’ve already given us enough entertainment to merit this, the original and most coveted Carolina Review Award.

Best CRDaily.com comment: Stephen E

That was such a ridiculous flame war (scroll down to the bottom).

Gary Birdsong Award: Justin Crowder

Also known as the Glenn Beck Award and the Most Likely to be Burned in Effigy Award. This award was literally made for Crowder last year.

Best Hair: Not Anthony Dent

Really, you’re just not doing it for me this year. Where is the perfectly defined part? The superfluous straightness? The shininess?

The Like, OMG, We Actually Have a Whole Design Staff This Year Award: Amanda Bastyr, Emily Carr, Beth Lawrence and Sarah Sessoms

Like, OMG, we actually have a whole design staff this year!

Most Likely to Commit a Minor Assault During a Staff Meeting: Rosie Bucherati

That really hurt, scary lady.

Mr. Rogers Award for Excellence in Sweaters: Nash Keune

This one was not my idea.

Most Likely to be at the Vanguard of a Revolution: Christopher Jones and Justin Crowder (tie)

Right now these two are neck-and-neck for this prestigious award. I’m taking wagers on how many medieval swords will be used during that revolution.

Most Likely to get Trapped in an Endless Cycle of Midget Puns: Chelsea Walker

Need I explain?

The Bryan Weynand and Nash Keune Award for Editorial Excellence: Bryan Weynand and Nash Keune

What do you give to the Editors who already have the Order of Charlton Allen, the Gold Star, the Order of Victory, and Hero of Soviet Union awards? You name an award after them. And whom better to receive this award than the inspiring duo of Bryan Weynand and Nash Keune?

As always, send me any additional suggestions.