What to Watch

Here’s what Oliners recommended you watch or otherwise consume! Note that Frankly Speaking and its editors do not necessarily endorse any of this content; its just an anonymous collection of tips from fellow Oliners!

TV Series

Avatar the Last Airbender, a feel good show that’s full of complex characters and wonderfully good for the heart. Currently on Netflix!

The Midnight Gospel – netflix, very trippy and they talk about death a lot but you can’t look away, incredible dialogue

THE OFFICE 🖥

 Blood of Zeus: perfect if you like greek mythology and epic music. It’s available on Netflix

The Good Place: hilarious and very thought-provoking (Netflix)

Dash & Lily: adorable and screams CHRISTMAS! (Netflix)

Orphan Black (TW: suicide, addiction)

Los Espookys is a show about a fictional Halloween VFX small business growing in success despite its employees dealing with personal problems including juggling part time jobs, a cult-like pyramid scheme, being the heir to a chocolate empire, and just wanting to be left alone to do your spooky stuff. Produced by Fred Armisen, who also plays the best valet parker in the world. My all-time favorite tv show. Available on HBO.

Netflix: Pose – such amazing genderqueer stories of suffering and love and hard work and dreams

Selena: The Series – if you love music and a beautiful story and strong gender dynamics lol

Altered Carbon – why rich people are literally evil

Hulu: Westworld – dystopian, robots, *let it change you*

Daria, my highest recommendation, deadpan, real, alternative, Jane Lane is my animated crush, but Hulu got rid of it, so idk Amazon Prime?

The Good Place— there was a celestial bureaucratic mixup and the wrong person gets sent to heaven, it’s very entertaining. There’s also a genderless Siri-like sentience named Janet who has just the best lines. It’s also worth noting that beyond the idea that there’s an afterlife with “a good place” and “a bad place,” it’s not a religious tv show.

Boy Meets World- wholesome wholesome wholesome <3 Started as a story of friendship, wound up becoming a love story over 7 seasons

The Middle- lots of solid, relatable humor. Does its job as a sitcom

Stranger Things- stellar production, leads to excellent discussions with Rob Martello

Dash and Lily is a super cute short holiday romcom on Netflix ! Mindhunter is also on Netflix and a cool serial killer show that evolves really well.

Queens gambit. TW: addiction, drugs/alcohol, suicide. You’ve probably already heard about this show, but if you haven’t, here’s a blurb I blatantly stole from google: “Set during the Cold War era, orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in world.” I think y’all will love this show. Given that you (the reader) go to Olin, imma assume you’re a nerd. So chess might be up your alley. Either way, what’s not to love about chess, passion, sacrifice, and copious quantities of drugs and alcohol?

The Newsroom: what should an ideal news outlet look like

The Witcher: Toss a bitcoin to your Witcher

The Americans: Soviet spies living in the US during cold war

Great British Baking Show – funny, relaxing, motivation to bake

Great Pretender – TW: child soldiers, sexual assault, child sex trafficing. This might be anime, but it’s a really good show that constantly surprises you. The TW are heavy (especially in season 2), but they are not portrayed in a good light or as normal. 

Goosebumps is really good. I watched it heavily with my household this semester and it’s scarier than most scary movies. 

Anime recs

Bungo Stray Dogs; very good and aesthetic supernatural anime placed in modern japan. All the characters are names after real authors and their abilities are named after their pieces.

Your Lie in April: super beautiful and has lots of classical music (Netflix)

The Promised Neverland: very suspenseful. I can almost guarantee that you will binge this show after watching the first episode (Netflix)

Mob Psycho 100! A young psychic learns to control his powers. Available on crunchyroll.

Erased. 

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – pretty animation and great soundtrack, I think it’s on Netflix

Attack on Titan. It here! The final season. This show is absolute insane! I’m not even sure how to describe the pure lunacy of this show, so imma just say, look up the synopsis for yourself. But I will say that every season thus far has been a STRAIGHT BANGER! Now that the final season is airing, why not go back and watch from the start. You won’t regret it!

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun – comedy, slice of life, one of my favorite animes

Haikyu! My first year roommate watched it over and over and I finally understand why. It also provides a really interesting perspective on teaming that I think many can benefit from.

Movies

Ali Wong’s comedy specials on Netflix. Just so worth it. She is hysterically funny

Three Idiots – Netflix – Amazing Bollywood Comedy about engineering students,

Dangal – Netflix – Another great Bollywood movie about female wrestlers

HARRY POTTAAA

I, robot; haven’t watched it in a bit and really want to

The Brainwashing Of My Dad is a documentary about how the director’s formerly liberal and kindly father gets sucked into conservative media, starting with Rush Limbaugh and going to  Fox News and Alex Jones and how that transformed him into this bitter, cruel, and just angry man. When outside circumstances cut off his access to these pundits, he started turning back into his old self again. It truly followed the cycle that many cults use to brainwash their members, and the director Jen Senko got it all on camera.

Nightmare Before Christmas

Coraline

Tangled

Airplane!, Top Secret: hilarious plot-optional comedies, a joke a minute.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: surreal tragicomedy about two minor characters from 

Hamlet. I hear the play is even better, but the movie is a great experience.

The Big Lebowski: Weird, fun characters, kinda complex plot, kinda surreal. Quite an experience.

Hillbilly Elegy was a great recreation of the book, super interesting and about a lot of very real problems that people in America face (on Netflix).

Hunt for the Wilderpeople. You’ve probably never heard of this movie, but you may recognize it’s director Taika Waititi as the mastermind behind classics such as Thor Ragnarok and JoJo Rabbit. Anyways, this movie is a hilarious journey as we follow a boy and his reluctant foster father as they become the center of a nationwide manhunt when they become lost in the New Zealand outback. Watch them escape the authorities, make terrible mistakes, and so much more. Definitely one of the funniest movies I’ve seen recently. Also who doesn’t love a good old kiwi accent. Check it out on Netflix! An absolute hidden gem!

The Lighthouse

Jingle Jangle was very cute and was STEM heavy with a POC heavy cast. It was something I would have really wanted as a kid. 

Klaus is another really good christmas movie that incorporated fun Christmas traditions into the story line.

Audiobooks/Podcasts

Reply All – available everywhere and through Gimlet Media. These people dig into some very niche stuff and boy do they commit, especially recommend the “Snapchat Thief” episode

ITS THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!

Finding Fred; very compelling look at the life of Mr. Rogers, the type of person he was, and what we could apply to our own lives

The Adventure Zone!! Three comedians who are brothers play D&D with their dad. Hilarious and eventually deeply heartwarming storytelling.

If you’re a fan of horror, I highly recommend The Black Tapes and Tanis. Tanis is a little more *out there* than The Black Tapes, but is also (imo) scarier. I binged both of them in a week and regretted it in the moment bc nightmares but loved it in the long run. I think both are available where most podcasts are but I’ve listened to both through Spotify.

1619 – history is wrong, everything in America is about slavery

Sincerely, X – such compelling stories, this one is amazing from a storytelling perspective, will expose you to new perspectives; Jemele Hill is Unbothered – because she’s funny and cool and talks about real shit

Behind the Bastards is a podcast about evil people and organizations through history and their rise to power. It’s fascinating, horrifying, informative, and often has parallels or adds context to a lot of current events. Be aware that you’ll get angry listening to most episodes though, this is not a calming podcast. I highly recommend “How Nice, Normal People Made The Holocaust Possible” and “The U.S. Border Patrol Is A Nightmare That Never Ends.” Also, all the trigger warnings are attached to this, they talk about some really dark stuff.

Ghosts in the Burbs is a podcast that interviews people from Wellesley (yes, our Wellesley!) who claim to have seen ghosts or paranormal happenings. Fun stuff.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer – super good book about indigenous practice and the environment that really helped me rethink my approach to conservation/climate action, I listened on Hoopla through my public library

If you’re interested in psychology, sociology, rational thinking, game theory, and hallucinatory cactus-people: The Slate Star Codex podcast. I can’t recommend this enough, it’s thought-provoking and a joy to listen to.

Revisiting American History: Early African Resistance

Warning: The following article wrestles with a difficult topic in American history, a topic contains some horrid depictions of human suffering

Note from the Author: Sorry I missed November! As classes and grad school applications began ramping up, I didn’t have time to write. I know we’re all short on time as finals ramp up, so I’m going to keep this brief. I hope you can still take something away from this snapshot of America’s past.

This article is a continuation of the Revisiting American History Series, where each article revisists a section of American history with a critical eye for the different groups of people involved in that history. In October, we learned about the origins of slavery in America, and now we’re going to continue that thread by learning more about African resistance and how closely early policing in America was tied to race.

When African people were ripped away from their homes and forced into slavery, they resisted. On the voyage from Africa to America, many African people decided they would rather drown than be forced into slavery, and they jumped into the ocean, killing themselves to end their suffering. Those who made it to America found subtler ways of resisting. They would find ways to sabotage their plantation, or work together to participate in slowdowns. Some were courageous enough to run away altogether, either establishing villages on the frontier, or attempting to pass off as free with skills they learned on the plantation.

Gerald Mullin, author of Flight and Rebellion, studied slave resistance in Virginia in the eighteenth century. He studied plantation and county records, as well as newspaper advertisements for runaway slaves. According to his work, “The slaves described were lazy and thieving: they feigned illnesses, destroyed crops, stores, tools, and sometimes attacked or killed overseers. They operated blackmarkets in stolen goods. Runaways were… men who visited relatives, went to town to pass as free, or tried to escape slavery completely, either by boarding ships and leaving the colony, or banding together in cooperative efforts to establish villages or hide-outs in the frontier.” 

This spirit of African resistance was truly admirable. Landon Carter, a slave owner from the early 1700s, complained that his slaves were so uncooperative that he began to question whether keeping them was worthwhile. I believe that is a feat worth congratulating. Even more impressive, when the first African slaves were forced to work in Hispaniola in 1503, the governor of Hispaniola complained to the Spanish court that the African slaves were teaching disobedience to their Native American counterparts. Not only were African slaves able to hold on to their roots and resist as individuals – they were able to inspire other enslaved and disenfranchised people to resist with them.

Of course, not all of this resistance was so subtle or non-violent. Many African people decided to take matters into their own hands, and fight for their freedom. In 1739, in Stono, South Carolina, a group of twenty slaves killed two warehouse guards to steal guns and gunpowder. Once armed, they headed south, killing people in their way, and burning buildings. They inspired other slaves along their path to join them until they reached about eighty slaves in total. According to one account at the time, “they called out Liberty, marched on with Colours displayer, and two Drums beating”. These slaves were ready to rise out of their condition. Unfortunately, the militia found and attacked them. The slaves defended themselves. By the time the battle was over, about fifty slaves and twenty five whites were killed. Stono’s Rebellion had just been crushed.

America’s ruling class, composed of landowning white men, was fearful of exactly this kind of outright revolt. As Governor Alexander Spotswood warned in a speech to the 1710 Virginia Assembly, “… freedom wears a cap which can without a tongue call together all those who long to shake off the fetters of slavery and as such an insuerection would surely be attended with the most dreadful consequences so I think we cannot be too early in providing against it, both by putting our selves in a better posture of defense and by making a law to prevent the consultions of those Negroes.” In an attempt to keep African slaves from rebelling, the ruling class broke up family ties amongst the slaves, disciplined them with hard labor, lulled them into adopting new religious beliefs, and even created separation amongst the slaves by splitting them into either more privileged house slaves or less privileged field slaves.

The ruling class was especially fearful of what might happen if slaves were to work together with the lower classes of white freemen to overthrow the ruling class. As early as 1705, Virginia’s ruling class was making attempts to draw a clear color line between white and Black. Virginia’s ruling class proclaimed that all white men were superior to Black, and required that masters must provide their white servants whose indenture time was up with ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings, a gun, and 50 acres of land. Their Black counterparts were to receive nothing. The purpose of laws like this was clear: Give the lower class white people just enough privileges that they will see the ruling class as an important defender of those privileges, and maintain the status quo against the further disenfranchised Black slaves. 

As Edmung Morgan, a specialist in American colonial history, describes it, “Once the small planter felt less exploited by taxation and began to prosper a little, he became less turbulent, less dangerous, more respectable. He could begin to see his big neighbor not as an extortionist but as a powerful protector of their common interests.”

This led to a form of early policing in America known as “Slave Patrols”. White men were legally mandated to serve as patrollers for up to a year. They were paid for fulfilling their duty to police Black people, and were fined if they chose not to show up to patrol. These patrollers had very few restraints, and could even forcefully enter anyone’s home based on alleged suspicions that they were sheltering escaped slaves. As historian Gary Potter explains, these slave patrols served three primary functions.

“(1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves

(2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts

(3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside the law.”

Slave patrollers considered it their civic duty to beat and terrorize America’s enslaved population. In fact, they were legally compelled to do so. They enforced curfew, checked travelers for a permission pass, and broke up any assemblies that were held without permission, explicitly preventing any form of organized resistance.

While this wasn’t the origin of policing in the entire world, it was the origin of policing in America. When you think about American policing and it’s modern day controversies, remember that this is where it started: America’s ruling class uniting with disenfranchised white people to oppress an even more disenfranchised Black population.

I feel that oftentimes, when people are confronted with controversies in current events, they hide their opinion behind the question of, “What’s the legal precedent? What does the law say about this?” While it may be easy to hide behind the supposed objectivity of the law and its legal precedents, we must remember that our laws were not written by some objective arbitrators of moral justice. They were in fact written by people, and we need to be cognisant of what their motives were. Were we never to question and rewrite our laws through new legislation, we might never move towards a more just and equal America. Next time you come face to face with an important issue, I invite you to ask why the current laws and social norms are set the way they are. Who do they benefit? And who created them? I believe that this is key to promoting change in a healthy democracy.

I haven’t yet decided whether I will continue this series next semester. We’ll see how much work I have to do. Regardless, I hope these articles have opened your minds to the tremendous insight we can gain from historical context. Good luck with finals!

Sources:

  1.  A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn

Many pieces of this article are either direct quotes or paraphrased paragraphs from Zinn that aren’t explicitly called out. Part of this is due to his unique style of writing I hope to capture in this article, how well he articulates certain ideas, so that I can be certain I’m not misrepresenting any facts presented by Zinn, and to not disrupt the flow of the writing.

  1. NPR Throughline on American Police: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/03/869046127/american-police

By Rund Abdelfatah, Ramtin Arablouei, Khalil Gibran Muhammad

This was an incredible recollection of the history of policing in America, starting out with some of the podcast guest’s personal experiences, and then exploring the history from slave patrols to the Harlem riots.

Anonymous Compliments

The F. W. Olin Family™ is wonderful, and these anonymously-submitted compliments provide a small and sweet sampling of some of the reasons why. Much love!

audrey lee – thanks for always relating to me and nerding out together

jules brettle – you are such a kind person with a warm heart

Thank you Meg K for being an amazing friend <3

kristtiya – meme queen of olin ’22

james davis has the best hair. hands down. you can fight me on this one. not to mention being super friendly and a mega talented dude.

Meg, you’re one of the most genuinely kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. I’m constantly amazed by your compassion and empathy–in addition to, obviously, how frickin smart and cool you are. You’re such a good person and I’m so lucky to know you!

Sam D, you are such an incredible and inspiring person. How do you walk around with such a ginormous heart full of so much love and care??? I love all your incredibly niche STS memes and your lovely laugh. Truly honored to be your friend <3

Cali has really positive vibes and I’ve loved seeing her creativity in her paintings and baking!

quinn kelley is one of the kindest, most supportive people I am lucky enough to call a friend

Prisha, you’re one of the sweetest people I know. thanks for always making me laugh you cutie <3

Carlos has the meats

Francine- you’re the best at covering all my frequently asked questions

Adva. Adva. Adva. We would be lost without her.

Gilda’s story at Convocation was so powerful! (As were the stories that MarCom posted after!)

julia chomowicz is the best. julia is SO SWEET and livens up any occasion. she always says hi to you with a big smile and it’s a very special thing to behold. we stan julia

Serna, you are always there for your friends and you do everything you can to make Olin a

better place.

Shout out to Rachel Won and Alex Frye for coming to talk with our Advising Family about registration even though they’re on LOA. You rock!

kate mackowiak is a loving friend and she is so cool and wow I am just so lucky to know her

nathan faber is a cool dude. the man gives great hugs and loves his bikes like they are his children. gotta love him

scoleman is so fun to be around

Jon Stolk, you are an amazing professor. Thank you for truly and genuinely supporting and caring about your students.

thank you alana huitric for helping me with my homework and everything in between <3

Luke M has been such a ray of light in my life this semester. if he sees this, keep being you!! so endlessly grateful for you.

cara has the most comforting presence :)

Eriel makes me laugh. Always.

the modsim teaching team is the best!

prisha sadhwani is absolutely gorgeous and has the most infectious laugh ever. wow. she is just the best

Casey May (Lil Flex) is just one of my favorite people. He is so cheerful and always knows the kindest thing to say in any circumstance. Plus, I love having a friend that I can send cute dog pics and memes to.

Jeremy Skoler has an inspiring amount of confidence to try new things.

Maeve you’re the best thanks for being an awesome friend!!! Keep being your gay, trans, badass self <3 <3

ally bell is *the* kindest soul

Himanshu is so positive and kind

annie tor is so sweet and so hard working

To the Koala Tea Friends- thanks for everything! <3 I hope we will get to be all together again

Jules, I so appreciate how out of your way you’ll go to make tools for other peoples’ organization or learning. They’re always so elegant and well-thought-out!

emma mack – a loyal friend with giving and fun energy!

Skagglioli has got the ravioli

nicola van moon is awesome. she is great to work with and even better to talk to. I think nicola is the most relatable person around and an excellent source of friendship

Han Vakil was a great negotiator when trading for black market supplies in our candidates

weekend design challenge.

Taylor Swift, thank you for saving me while writing my SCOPE midyear report <3 Wouldn’t have made it through the assignment without your jams

Kristin Aoki, you never fail to make my day better, and my hopeless romantic heart has found kin in your hopeless romantic heart. Thank you for being you <3

Jason Woodard is a 10/10 SCOPE adviser

Lynn, you’re the best advisor in the whole world. You always know exactly the right questions to ask. Thank you for your tireless dedication to your students!

3OH!3, thank you for recognizing us! It’s pretty rare for a community college to get shout outs like that ;)

Leon Santen is always tirelessly trying to make the Woodland experience work for everyone. He deserves so much appreciation.

Emma Pan and Erika Lu bring me joy with their cute, bright personalities and creativity

Leon Santen – You have such interesting perspective on the world and open my mind with every conversation.

Lydia H is so hard working and positive, and has one of the best smiles ever!

Vivian from the registrar is so sweet

Erhardt is one of the most passionate professors I know. His knowledge is boundless and I’m so privileged to learn from him.

Meg K. you inspire me every day!

katie foster, i love hanging out and doing homework with you!

Cassandra is a thoughtful, positive, and really supportive friend. She was always able to notice when I wasn’t in the best mental state and really makes me feel like she has my back

clark pohl – thanks for being lively and hard-working

Alison Wood, thank you for being a professor at Olin! You make Olin a better place. I promise, I’ll find some way to make you queen

Serna, thank you for all of the things you do for the community <3

Camille, you have so much compassion and patience. I’m so thankful for your presence at Olin

The Frankly Speaking team has put a lot of work into keeping an awesome part of Olin alive during a chaotic time. Thank you for that!

Grace, you’re one of the most empathetic and caring people I know. I’m constantly blown away by your capacity to care for people even when they’re going through really, really hard things. You’re amazing and I’m so glad we’re friends <3

Looking into Anya’s eyes is like looking into the galaxy

I’m really thankful for the Community Connections Storytelling Workshops. I went to most of them and found it a time to connect with faculty and staff (and alumni!) who I wouldn’t normally get to just chat with. Thanks for doing these!

Rajiv, I enjoy all of our conversations and you make AMAZING cookies. Definitely friendship-earning-worthy cookies! <3

Arla, you’re a natural-born leader and you’re gonna take over the world, and I can’t wait to see

what you do. Cheering you on always <3

Anna Commers is always up to something unique and awesome.

Meg Ku makes everything work. More Meg, please

Maia M is a sweet pea

Erhardt, I am so fortunate to have you as a professor and mentor. You’ve taught me so much about how to be an effective teacher, especially in the way that you care and believe so much in your students. Your constant support and belief in me makes me believe in myself. Thank you so much!

gail romer, such a kind-hearted soul

Sara Hendren. Review in the m-f’ing NEW YORKER and NPR’s Best Books of 2020. Could we be any luckier to have her at Olin?

Our sketch model artist in residence Arlene really encourages us to think about society and making in different ways and stretch our worldview

Max, I’m really glad that we’ve become friends this semester!

Julian saved our scope team with TLC

scoleman, I’ve never met such a giving yet fun person before

Declan – Talking to you always makes me feel so much better about my self and the world

Reid – I super appreciate your perfect blend of compassion and honesty

Leon: little nail, thick head

Mia Skaggs is always ready with the right mode – joke mode, sweet mode, party mode. They’re all awesome

shoutout to SG and SLAC and Frankly Speaking and Catalyst and everyone else trying to make things happen

Sabrina, you have the sweetest smile and the coolest sense of style. I’m so glad we got closer this semester <3

I live, laugh, and love solely because of Anusha’s reminders

someday. I wouldn’t have made it through Olin without you.

caitlin kantor is such a gem. she is so sweet and so cool and so much fun to be around. you should consider yourself lucky if you get the chance to hang with caitlin

Riya, you’re one of the most Mom Friend people I know and also one of the most adorable. I love when you interrupt yourself mid-text, it brings me so much joy. Loved working with you this semester <3

Class of ‘21, y’all bring me so much joy. I’m pretty crushed that we won’t be spending our spring semester together. Keep being your unique selves and go out into the world and do strange, marvelous things!

I want to be Jadelin’s friend really badly

You’ve Run Out of Free Articles This Month

tl;dr: Publishers are crushing the life out of libraries. They’re undermining libraries’ efforts to democratize access to information and advance learning. You can push back by refusing to be a part of this broken system and deciding to make your own scholarly work more accessible to all.

A few weeks ago, officials in Citrus County, Florida denied a local library’s request for funding its subscription to The New York Times.

“I’m going to be a ‘no’ for this. Fake news. I agree with President Trump,” one of the county commissioners said as he explained his position. “I will not vote for this. I do not want The New York Times in this county.” The commissioners laughed at the thought of paying for the paper, especially digital access to it. One asked, “Why the heck would we spend money on something like that?”

Librarians around the country, including the three of us here at Olin, are alarmed by the implications of this. Should an official’s political views be grounds for deciding what content a library can make available? How about a publisher’s profit margins?

At the beginning of November, Macmillan, one of the five largest publishers in the U.S., declared they’re instating embargos on all libraries looking to obtain multiple copies of new ebooks until eight weeks after their release date, in order to boost paper book sales. 

Imagine there were 20 Olin students who wanted to borrow an ebook copy of Edward Snowden’s new memoir Permanent Record back when it was first released in September. Under Macmillan’s rules, our library could have purchased one e-copy of Permanent Record on its release date, waited eight weeks, then purchased additional e-copies. If, after those eight weeks, we bought three additional e-copies and loaned each of them out for two weeks apiece, this would have cost us $210 (vs. $120 for four paper copies) and there’d still be borrowers waiting to be able to read a digital copy of Permanent Record. If you had to wait three or four months to read something, would you just go buy it, or maybe just not read it at all? (The library does own one paper copy of the book, by the way.)

In the words of the American Library Association, this “limit[s] libraries’ ability to provide access to information for all. It particularly harms library patrons with disabilities or learning issues. [Ebooks] can become large-print books with only a few clicks, and most ebook readers offer fonts and line spacing that make reading easier for people who have dyslexia or other visual challenges.” As a librarian wrote in an editorial for Publisher’s Weekly, “[W]hile Macmillan’s ebook embargo aims to squeeze a few more sales out of frustrated library users, it unfairly disadvantages ebook readers who use the library out of need. Equal access to information regardless of ability to pay is foundational to a democratic society and is why public libraries exist.” It may not be as blatantly censorious as what the Citrus County commissioners are up to, but the embargo prevents people from being able to read what they want to read when and how they want to read it.

Macmillan and its ebook policy present a problem to libraries that amounts to censorship by a thousand cuts–or maybe a thousand invoices. By pricing libraries out or denying them access altogether, companies are limiting what people can read and, in the process, creating a user experience so frustrating that many people give up on it. Streaming media platforms are another challenge. There is next to no conversation happening about how libraries can provide institutional access to services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. When librarians try to engage in agreements with these companies, they tend to hear nothing back. We’re so far out of their line of sight because we aren’t profitable. After all, our business model is essentially “take very small amounts of money from people through taxes or tuition and translate it back into lots of free stuff for those same people to use.” Theirs is “charge lots of people quite a bit of money for just enough access to things they like that they keep autopaying their subscriptions.” Doesn’t mesh well.

This is bad because at some point in the near future, the physical media libraries can easily provide access to in the form of DVDs will cease to be a viable option for many borrowers. In early 2019, Samsung announced it was going to stop manufacturing DVD players. We’ve seen Oliners experience the joy of running around trying to find external DVD drives on campus, and we’ve talked to faculty flummoxed by how to provide access to documentaries they’d hoped to show in class. Libraries are already contending with certain exclusive streaming shows and movies never being sold as physical copies. This is only the beginning as we move to an era where DVDs become a thing of the past and theatrical releases go straight to streaming, again creating a division of access based on who has or doesn’t have the $9.99/month for a Netflix account (and the $9.99/month for a Hulu account, and the $6.99/month for a Disney+ account, and the cable subscription for an HBO GO account, etc.).

The bloodiest battle between libraries and publishers of all, and the one that’s closest to home for us at Olin’s library, is happening in access to academic research. Olin pays for access to ebooks and other electronic content, such as databases of scholarly research and online periodical subscriptions. We do not pay a small amount of money for these things to begin with, but virtually all publishers try to tack on an increase when it’s time to renew our subscriptions–not just once every few years, but every year. The percentage growth in academic and corporate libraries’ expenditures on these resources was 673% between 1986 and 2015. That’s not missing a decimal point. Olin didn’t exist in 1986, but if we did, you can bet your buns that our budget wouldn’t have gone up by nearly 700% in the thirty-odd years between then and now.

In the early months of 2019, the academic library world was rocked by the news that the University of California system ended negotiations with publishing megagiant RELX (you may know them as Elsevier) for a new journal subscription contract. This was huge; as a piece from Inside Higher Ed put it, “no [institutions that have tried negotiating] in the U.S. have the financial and scholarly clout of the UC system — which accounts for nearly 10 percent of the nation’s publishing output.” In a decision that took hundreds of opinions and dozens of departments unified in their mission to fight back against the debilitating costs of accessing research and reliable sources, UC brought widespread attention to the matter of price gouging and the importance of open access publishing.

That leads us right into why we should care and what can we do. 

Open access publishing means making research freely available, as opposed to lurking behind paywalls. If you’ve ever maxed out on free stories on a news website or searched our library resources, you’ve ran into these nasty things, tempting you with the contents of an article or ebook only to find it’s in a database we don’t subscribe to because it’s prohibitively expensive for us. To give some context here, Elsevier’s profits in 2017 – profit rooted in the publication of others’ scientific work – were an obscene $1,170,000,000, a profit of 37% over their operating budget. As a response to this extortion, open access takes shape as a commitment made at the college or university level to ensure that faculty or student research is accessible internally for free or in open access journals, or both.

How does this impact your education? Open access furthers research and innovation in all fields, and engineering is no exception. Even if you aren’t doing much research or writing right now, you will if you go to grad school, if you choose to teach, or when you file patents, author white papers, or do other fact-finding projects at work. Unfortunately, we’re very far away from a purely open access world. The prestige of publishing in certain journals combined with the greedy, powerful vendors–can’t live with ‘em (pay through the nose) or without ‘em (kill access to research)–keeps access exclusive and profit margins high.

Any library’s ability to sustainably and easily provide access to quality resources is vitally important to its existence and relevance to its community, but because publishers are so fixated on profits, it’s increasingly becoming impossible. Circling back to ebooks and streaming media, even if you haven’t set foot in a public library in years, think about the good they add to this world. They aspire to offer equal access to information that many individual patrons might not be able to afford, whether it’s in the form of a New York Times subscription, an electronic copy of a hit bestseller, or a handful of DVDs to watch with family over a holiday break. But because libraries can’t foot publishers’ bills, the public is effectively being divided into information haves and have-nots, undoing the work that public libraries have done to democratize access in the past century and a half.

Here at Olin, and at institutions throughout the world, our ability to continue providing access to reputable academic resources is at stake. Would you want to see engineering, computer science, or any other field base its research conclusions solely on what you can find on page one of Google search results? (Be real, no one ever goes past page one.) If subscription costs go up another 673%, that very well could be the future we’ll be living in 30 years from now.

There are things we can do at Olin; we are tiny but mighty and we can set a new example for how to approach this problem. First, we need a refreshed discussion about the importance of open access. Your librarians feel it is our duty to make trusted, reliable content available to our students and faculty. By following an open access policy, we can ensure together that the Olin community, now or in the future, won’t pay for the research generated by its own scholars.

The library also needs community input so we can think strategically and proactively about how to provide the content and resources you need. We need to critically evaluate what we’re paying for now and find alternatives. Over time, our model might look a lot different than what we’re doing today–it might be more time curating open educational resources and less time (and money) spent on managing subscription packages–but librarians can’t make those big decisions or push back against the broken publishing system alone. When you’re ready to join this conversation, we’re ready to listen.

In the meantime, you can help libraries today by signing these two petitions:

Peppermint-Chip Cookies

Recipe modified from https://lilluna.com/peppermint-chocolate-chip-cookies/ 

Makes 36-40 cookies. 

Ingredients:

1.5 sticks softened butter, 3 tbsp warm water, 1 c sugar, 1 c brown sugar

2 eggs, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp almond (optional), 1 tsp peppermint extract (optional)

3 c AP flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and your chocolate (8 oz Peppermint Kisses is good)

Instructions:

1) Cream butter, water, and sugars.

2) Beat in eggs

3) Add in the extract(s)

4) Incorporate half of the flour, the baking powder and the baking soda. Then incorporate the rest of the flour.

5) Fold in your chocolate (in this case peppermint flavored). 

6) Form 1.25″ balls. Cover them in flour. 

7) Set them 1.5 inches apart. Don’t press them down.

8) Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 10 mins.

Eastham Turnip Festival

Editor’s note: Upon request of content from friends with the idea of recipes, Mark Goldwater asked Vienna Scheyer to send him the recipe of the Mashed Turnips they made during their trip to Cape Cod. This story was too good to skimp on, and I asked for more. Prior to making these Mashed Turnips, they had gone to a Turnip Festival. This is their story. 

The Turnip Festival

Tell me more about where it was, when it was, why you attended, and how you all chose to attend this?

As our peers headed home for Thanksgiving break, we decided to embark on a Great American Pilgrimage. This time, though, we elected to break from the storied traditions of our forefathers and head Due East – more specifically, to Eastham, Massachusetts, to the Eastham Turnip Festival hosted by Eastham Public Library at Nauset Regional High School. We expected it to be a small event – we were not sure how many people lived on Cape Cod all season long, and we were even less sure how many of them would spend a beautiful fall afternoon in a high school gymnasium celebrating an underappreciated root vegetable. We quickly had that assumption turned-upside down when saw just how much traffic there was to enter the parking area.

Much like the pilgrims, we arrived at land that clearly was not ours and decided to push forward anyways – we parked on grass a short walk away from the entrance and followed the crowds of fellow turnip enthusiasts into the high school. We were kindly greeted at the door and were handed a schedule and map. Much like the high school itself, the schedule was packed – there were bands playing all day, a juggler performing for literally four hours in the auditorium, a turnip cooking competition in the cafeteria, local vendors, concessions, the “Turn Up Zone For Kids,” turnip games, and probably even more events that we could remember if we had not returned the map and schedule on our way out so the next festival attendees could use it. We started our day by checking out all of these events. At a table among the vendors, we even got to guess the weight of the enormous turnip (note that Google does not provide great results when you try to find the density of a turnip). We are still waiting on the call to confirm that we clearly had the correct value. 

The highlights, however, took place on the center stage (half of the gymnasium) – there we got to experience the blessing of the turnips, the crowning of the turnip king and queen (the library volunteers of the year), and performances from a competition for song parodies with turnip-themed lyrics (hearing a turnip-themed rendition of ‘Wagon Wheel’ was especially painful). There were also opportunities to experience turnip line dancing and a turnip shucking competition. Truly a wonderful day! 

The Turnip Blessing

Please write something here about the experience. Pictures are allowed if you don’t want to write something.

One of the most special parts of the turnip festival happened right at the beginning, with the blessing of a single turnip. A radio host from WGBH took the mic at center stage, held up a turnip with one hand, and with the backdrop of some wonderful instrumental music, freestyle rapped (or recited?) an ode to the humble turnip. We all cried.

Later, when trying to make mashed turnips in our home, we tried to recreate this blessing. While we definitely did not capture the beauty of the blessing we witnessed, we did replicate the emotional depth.

The Mashed Turnips
Recipe taken from The Spruce Eats and can be found by searching on Google, “The Spruce Eats Delicious Mashed Turnips.” Recipe was written by Molly Watson and rewritten by the contributors of this article.

Ingredients:
Blessed turnips, a small amount of butter, and misc. spices.

Instructions:
First, bless the turnips. This is the most important step. We honestly just peeled turnips, cut them into cubes, boiled them for 30 minutes, added a small amount of butter and misc. spices, and then beat the shit out of them with a (washed) nalgene.

@sea_no_dunkin

Like most people who grew up in the greater Boston area, I swear by Dunkin’ Donuts. Drinking coffee anywhere else would not just be fiscally irresponsible and disappointing – it would be an act of betrayal. Being surrounded by Dunkin’ locations was something I took for granted until I decided to take a summer internship in Seattle, where the closest Dunkin’ is in Northern California.

But the Pacific Northwest is famous for its coffee for a reason, and I figured there ought to be a place like Dunkin’ somewhere if I looked hard enough. So I made it my goal to visit as many unique coffee shops as I could afford over the twelve weeks I was in Seattle, and, as you would expect from a smartphone-armed teenager with too much free time, I captured the whole thing on Instagram at instagram.com/sea_no_dunkin (thanks to all of those supportive enough to follow me, and all the wonderful people who dealt with my insistence on always going to a novel coffee shop).

Over the course of the summer, I managed to visit over fifty distinct Seattle-area coffee vendors, which ranged from tiny stands on the sides of roads adjacent to trailheads to massive roasteries that were full of tourists. Of course, the best metric by which to quantify the quality of the coffee I enjoyed was its similarity to Dunkin’ – How similar was the store itself? How closely did the actual drink resemble the iced coffee I grew up drinking? How closely did the customer experience resemble the one I have committed to memory over the years? Of course, no place could actually resemble Dunkin’ perfectly, but different vendors approached Dunkin’ on different axes. Here are a couple of the closest matches:

Aesthetic: Aurora Donuts – As this place was a Dunkin’ location fifteen years ago, it falls squarely into the uncanny valley of DD-like coffee shops. Its vaguely familiar (and mainly empty) shelving and signage made me feel like I was back at home, though I will admit that the hours-old hot coffee with ice cubes in it in a styrofoam cup that I purchased for just over a dollar did not.

Coffee: Espresso Vivace – This sidewalk espresso bar in Capitol Hill was one of the highlights of my search for a coffee-drinking experience most aligned with Dunks. I’m not sure if it was because of the coffee beans themselves or just because of the ice-to-coffee ratio, but I distinctly remember sitting by the Cal Anderson Park reflecting pool, taking a sip of my drink, and genuinely thinking that it was from Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Experience: Cafe Allegro – This historic coffee shop was hidden in an alley behind a bookstore in the University District. I got to make small talk with the barista about the art that lined the exposed brick walls of the store while waiting for my coffee. After that pleasant conversation, I caught some of a hockey game while finishing up on email, returned my glass, and left. A lot of the folks around me seemed to be doing the same – arriving, staying, and leaving with a purpose. 

Most of the coffee shops I visited fell into one of two categories – either it was a place where the in-store experience started with ordering a drink and ended when you walked out of the door with that drink in your hand or it sat a community gathering space that also happened to sell coffee. But Dunkin’ has a distinct atmosphere centered around providing an almost universally palatable middle ground. I don’t think I internalized this until I, with the support of a dear friend, made the pilgrimage to a Dunkin’ Donuts location inside a Walmart in Madera, CA (thanks for everything, Kyle James Emmi) –  even though it was a truly novel Dunkin’ experience, I immediately felt at home and knew exactly what to do and how to feel, and I knew that feeling was truly unique.  

Most Dunkin’ locations have seating and WiFi, but they don’t usually have comfortable couches to spend a whole day in. I’ve seen local groups get together at Dunkin’ to play cards and have casual meetings, but it is unlikely to be the venue for an impromptu poetry slam.  With drive throughs and on-the-go ordering options, they scaffold options for experiences that center around a physical transaction, not human connection, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel empowered to converse with the barista or a friend. The coffee is not made from carefully selected imported beans, but it’s certainly a step up from the vending machine. 

Of course, Dunkin’ is not the perfect brand, and their stores do not provide the perfect user experience. But this summer-long quest to find a place that reminded me of it serves as a reminder of the importance of flexibility and nuance in a world defined by extremes instead of what fills in the gaps between them. Coffee shops can be powerful ‘third places’ to build communities around, but they don’t have to be – they can be places that meet each customer where they are. The road to success may not be orange and pink, but certainly some of the bricks lining the path are. 

On the Morality of Map Projections

I walked into a coffee shop in Cambridge yesterday and saw one of the patrons wearing shoes with toes order a decaf instant coffee. Decaf. I bet they were the kind of person who still pronounces “.doc” with a hard “d” sound. I stormed out. No establishment that indulges that kind of pleb deserves my business.

We need to talk about map projections. “We” as in society, but specifically Olin, since ye’re the ones most likely to listen to me. I’ve tried warning the people of the MIT—I even bouɡht a stupid amount of soap in a wooden box so I would have somethinɡ to stand on—but they wouldn’t hear. Or rather, didn’t want to.

It seems like everyone these days just uses the same tired old portolan charts that were first pushed on us by Western imperialists four hundred years ago. It’s not because they don’t know better; every cartographer knows in their heart that what they’re doing is wrong. It’s just that they don’t care. This new generation of mapmakers—these millennials—can’t be bothered to think about anyone but themselves long enough to learn that their actions have consequences.

Well, I for one don’t intend to watch society morally degrade around us. I intend to stand up for what is right, what is left, and which one is east. To all of ye college students out there, this is yer wake-up call. Ye can save the world! Ye just need to stop worrying about yer foolish entitled normie maps.

Let’s start with the Mercator projection. We all know about Mercator, and how it is a racist construct birthed by imperialist colonizers and how it was designed to espouse a Greenlandic-supremacist ideology. It’s disgusting how often it continues to be used today despite apparent greater awareness on both the Left and Right of how biased it is toward the Top (i.e. Greenland). Is this really the first thing we want visitors to see when they walk into Milas Hall?

The problem is that the most popular alternative projection is also awful. I still can’t believe that Peters supporters have the Gall to sully the word “alternative” with their foul tongues. They say that they’re only interested in fairness, and that they want everyone to be represented equally on their map, but if you dig just a little deeper, you see the roots of their heinous ideology. That’s because the Gall–Peters projection is actually biased against densely settled areas. If everyone is equal, then why does Australia look over twice as large as India when India is, in reality, over 50 times bigger than Australia? The answer becomes clear when you realize that Arno Peters hailed from notoriously sparsely populated Berlin. Way to check your biases, Arno.

A common substitute is the Lambert cylindrical equal-area. Rumor has it that Johann Lambert felt no shame at littering, and did so frequently.

Okay, so maybe you decide to forgo conventional projections and use an azimuthal one. Psh. Anti-vaxxer. All azimuthal projections are inherently rooted in archaic ideas like the Earth being a flat disc ringed by a lip of ice and at rest beneath a disc of light 50 km across and 5 000 km up that circles the North Pole with a radius that oscillates over the course of a year. And now that people are re-realizing that those archaic ideas were right all along, the government has been using azimuthal projections to mock them and try to cast us back into the dark age that Copernicus started. Anyone who uses an azimuthal projection unironically is complicit in the conspiracy.

And don’t even get me started on oblique aspects. People like to throw up oblique azimuthal equidistant projections and act like they’re so enlightened. Unfortunately, attempts to use the oblique azimuthal equidistant projection to change morality have been common. New Age liberals aggressively push it in their attempt to convince people of their theory of moral relativity. First we tell people to question what’s up and what’s down. Then we tell them it’s subjective what’s simultaneous and what’s not. Then they start thinking they can decide what’s moral and what’s immoral. What’s to stop them from becoming gods? In any case, I oppose it.

But the worst projection of all, literally the embodiment of everythinɡ unholy in this universe, is the Waterman butterfly projection. Waterman used to be cool, but ever since Randall Munroe spilled those beans in XKCD #977, the normies have been all over it. None of them know or care about the historical context. Waterman was beautiful because of that. And now it’s ruined. Thanks a lot, Randall. I was eating those beans.

And there ye have it. I hope at least some of ye will take this information to heart, for the good of the world, and of yer own consciences. Stay flat, comrades. And for the love of Amaat, stop using the Winkel Tripel projection. It’s not cool; you just look like you were born in the nineties.

Horoscopes

Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19):

Have you found yourself dreaming about your final projects? It’s probably time to take a break. Try dreaming about dreaming about your final projects instead. It’ll be so confusingly meta that your brain just might switch back to dreaming about sheep, or whatever. Your lucky numbers are 7, 45, and 81.

Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 20):

Code taking a long time to run? Use that time wisely — don’t forget to let your friends know that you appreciate them by challenging them to spontaneous dance battles. Your (sentient, of course) CPU will jack up its processing speed so that the performance will just end already. (Note: this does not apply if you and your friend are good dancers, in which case a dance battle will have the opposite effect.) Your lucky numbers are 32 and 64.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 20):

Something goofed during course registration, and you’re now stuck in ENGR6283: Introduction to Time Travel as your only class for spring semester. That’s okay, and you’re valid! Just don’t cause any universe-ending paradoxes… Your lucky number is approximately 3*10^8.

Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22):

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT load leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes into the 3-D printers. (This is because mashed potatoes extruded from a 3-D printer’s nozzle are in fact the tastiest potatoes of all, and you absolutely cannot let this secret be known.) Your lucky numbers are 76, 44, and 39.

Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 22): 

Why did the programmer mistakenly wear a Halloween costume to a Christmas party? Because Oct 31 == Dec 25! Ha ha…ha. (It’s actually because they’ve lost all sense of time and reality. Don’t be like this programmer. Can someone please tell me what year it is? That was supposed to be your lucky number…)

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sep. 22):

The approaching snow will not hurt you. Probably. Do not pay attention to the grinning teeth appearing around the O. Do not be afraid to build a figure out of snow. (Do not approach Parcel B.) (Do not look at Parcel B.) (Do not think about Parcel B.) Your lucky numbers are 0 and 1.

Libra (Sep. 23 – Oct. 22):

Yes, post-it notes count as Christmas tree ornaments. But no, constructing a Christmas tree out of obscene quantities of green post-its probably does not count as Taking Olin Home over winter break. Your lucky numbers are 3, 10, and 19.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21):

You must resist the temptation, perhaps amplified by end-of-semester stress, to doubt your capacity to induce happiness in others. Your lucky number is 1/(1 + jωRC), but I forgot the values of ω, R, and C. (If you guess the correct values, you’ll be *really* lucky.)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21):

Turkey Day is long gone, but consider treating yourself to a nice hamburger (or whichever hamburger-equivalent suits you) during these trying times. Your lucky number is 0xDEADBEEF.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19):

As final projects approach, you may become weary of the unique scent of the woodshop. Be not deterred. Eau de Euca Board (or whatever you’re using) is a surprisingly sought-after scent outside the confines of Olin, and will grant you numerous successes. Your lucky numbers are 1.5, 3.5, and the square root of 2.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18):

I hate to break it to you, but you should really get rid of that long-dead plant that’s been sitting in your room for ages, its beige once-foliage blending in with the décor. It’s never coming back. You should really consider a succulent. Your lucky number is however many hours it took for that plant to die.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 20):

In the midst of editing your NaNoWriMo novel from last month, you will realize with a start that all those typos, grammatical errors, and discontinuities are pointing towards *something*. But what? Be determined. Do not give up the fight to interpret yourself. Your lucky number is 40,001.