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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Solar taxi driver stops at Tufts

A car powered completely by the sun made a stop at the Fletcher School yesterday during a global tour promoting electric vehicles as a means of alleviating climate change.


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Jessie Borkan | College Is As College Does

Midwest Madness — it's a phrase we've all heard. Used to refer to everything from debilitating snowstorms to swing state election hype, and from baseball to beer festivals, it brazenly lumps together such disparate places as downtown Detroit and rural Kansas.


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iPhones become uPhones as colleges distribute technology to students

As brand new college freshmen flooded university campuses earlier this month, some were greeted with more than just a Nalgene bottle and a class of 2012 shirt. In an effort to bring the latest technology into the classroom, several universities decided to give every student a new iPhone or iPod touch.



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In last-minute call, Bubs' TV performance postponed

The Beelzebubs' plans to perform on Good Morning America on Sunday morning were derailed when the group received a phone call while en route to New York, postponing their performance for a second time in a row.



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In commemoration of 9/11, united Tufts stands

Members of the Tufts Republicans and the Tufts Democrats came together on Wednesday night to paint the cannon in commemoration of the national tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001. "At Tufts and beyond, [Democrats and Republicans] think that 9/11 is one of those events that brings all Americans together, regardless of political affiliation and regardless of ideological preferences," said junior Shana Hurley, the president of the Tufts Democrats.


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LGBT referendum on discrimination misses TCU ballot

A referendum supporting an amendment to add more inclusive nondiscrimination language to the Tufts Community Union (TCU) constitution did not appear on the ballot during Wednesday's election, despite the efforts of a sophomore senator sponsoring an initiative to place it there.


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Rule's orientation leads to career path

For the parents of most graduating high school seniors, the concept of a son or daughter beginning an Ivy League education is a gleeful one — a dream come true.



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Gay and straight: Ph.D. student learns Rules

    When he realized that his high school classmates had been able to accurately detect that he was gay before he even realized his own sexual orientation, Tufts psychology Ph.D. candidate Nicholas Rule began thinking hard about the nature of non-verbal communication and visual perception. He wondered if — and how — it was possible to accurately perceive certain characteristics based on quick glances at other people.     Working with Professor of Psychology Nalini Ambady, Rule has conducted several psychology studies dedicated to the accuracy with which faces can be judged. Dipping into his own personal history for inspiration, Rule conducted a study revealing that a man's sexual orientation can be observed by looking at his facial features for just a fraction of a second.     Rule and Ambady began the experiment by taking a sample of 90 male faces from pictures used in personal ads, 45 of which were self-identified as gay, 45 as straight. The duo standardized the faces by testing them for attractiveness and emotional expression, and ensured that "familiarity effects" were avoided by choosing samples from outside the Boston area.     The pair then showed the photographs to Tufts students under six different conditions — for 10 seconds, six and a half seconds, self-paced (about a second and a half), 100 milliseconds, 50 milliseconds and 33 milliseconds — and analyzed the results to determine how accurately the participants could judge whether the men in the photographs were gay.     Quite accurately, they found.     For nearly every time interval, the accuracy with which participants label ed a subject as gay or straight hovered around 70 percent. What Rule found particularly significant was that few participants strayed far from this accuracy level, and no photos were guessed entirely accurately or inaccurately.     "We never have a hundred percent agreement on any one face," Rule said. "Which is really interesting, I think."     But despite efforts to keep the faces pictured ambiguous, doubts were inevitably raised as to whether hand-picking gay and straight men out of a lineup was simply too easy.     "That's the first question that people ask — they're like, ‘Oh, well, you know, who are these flamers you have in the study that are so obvious?'" Rule said. Other critics of the study suggested that hairstyle might tip participants off, or that personal ads might be too obvious or intentionally deceptive.     So Rule further standardized the experiment by taking faces of men from Facebook.com, using only those photos that were "Tagged by Others" with the men in groups of people rather than alone. This helped cut back on what Rule called the "self-presentation" aspect that would have led to skewed or inaccurate results.     The researcher took the tests a step further by removing hairstyles altogether from the photos, and at one point ran the tests on photos of only eyes.     The results came back, silencing doubters of the experiment: Participants decided who was gay and who was not with the same level of accuracy under all conditions. "There was no difference, which was excellent," Rule said.     Rule himself was initially skeptical of the experiment. "I didn't think it would work," he said. "The whole thing was actually really exciting to see evolve because we started with 100 [milliseconds], and then we were sort of like, ‘Oh my God it, worked — let's try 50, let's try 33, and then going up [in amount of time], what if we make them really think about it?'"     For Rule and Ambady, the process was exciting because it pointed to broader psychological insights.     "People actually can accurately judge sexual orientation from the eyes and mouth, but they don't know that they can, which is super cool," Rule explained. "This then suggests that how we perceive people probably occurs through these multiple paths, you know, consciously and unconsciously."     "So really, this shows that our intuitive judgments about gay and straight are based in something and they're somewhat accurate," he added.     In step with the increasingly common use of terms like "gaydar," bloggers and media outlets swarmed Rule with curiosity — and criticism — as to the scientific merits of his experimentation.     "It was a little frustrating at first because the bloggers clearly have not read the study — they would be saying all these things and making all these accusations that were completely outrageous, that would have been clearly addressed if they had read the paper," Rule said. "I didn't want to respond to them because I didn't want to get into a dialogue with the bloggers."     For such experiments, media coverage can signify the end of testing: Researchers hope to keep the intentions of the experiment under wraps to their participants until after the testing has been completed.     "When all the press about it came out, we were basically screwed," Rule said. "So we really can't do too much anymore because now everyone knows about it."


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Carmichael and Dewick no longer allow table-tent ads

Students returning to the Hill this semester have probably noticed cleaner tables, and some club heads have had to rethink how they do promotion, as the Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie Dining Halls have banned the distribution of paper advertisements on tables.



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Brown and Brew trims hours

Students looking to Brown and Brew for late-night coffee or a sandwich on the weekend will have to search elsewhere, as the campus café is now closing at 11 p.m. and will no longer be open on Saturdays and Sundays.


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Interdisciplinary studies at Tufts on the rise

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last year that "interdisciplinarity," which is an approach to learning, teaching and research that transcends and unites a variety of traditionally separate academic disciplines, was becoming increasingly agreed upon by the university community — a community, they added, which often tends to argue over its philosophy of learning.



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John McCain: the leader our country needs

    With the end of the Republican National Convention, the official general election campaign for President of the United States has begun. Rarely in the history of this country have the American people been given the opportunity to elect a man whose independent spirit so attracts, whose experience is so comprehensive and whose passionate love of country has been proven through the toughest of trials. John McCain stands ready to lead this country to peace through strength and to prosperity through the free market.     As America stands once again at its quadrennial crossroads, it will choose between two very different men and two divergent visions for the future. Barack Obama, a brilliant orator and the first African-American candidate for president of any major party, appears to many as a wholly new kind of politician. But there is little new about the policies he espouses. Faced with a war on the brink of victory, he wants to retreat. Faced with an economy in trouble, he wants to raise taxes on businesses that create jobs. Faced with a looming energy crisis, he refuses to consider increased domestic oil production as central to the solution.     Indeed, Barack Obama's plans for America appear almost identical to those put forth by Democrats in the 1960s and 1970s, which were resoundingly rejected by the American people. Depicted as a transcendental political figure, his record is that of a hyper-partisan who voted the Democratic Party line more often than even the Senate Democrat leadership. Reasonable people can disagree on the issue of abortion, but surely a responsible legislator would support protection for infants born alive in abortion clinics? Barack Obama voted against just such a measure.     In contrast, John McCain has a long record of opposing his own party when he feels the good of the country requires it. He joined the bipartisan "Gang of Fourteen" to find common ground on the issue of judicial appointments. He supports federal action to halt climate change. McCain championed the cause of immigration reform but has accepted the American people's demand that the border be secured first. He opposes torture and aggressive interrogation, promising to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay. He has stood fast against corruption and waste in both parties and is a tireless fighter against Congressional earmarks.     John McCain has proven himself willing to risk his very reputation on what he believes to be right. From almost the very beginning of the war in Iraq, he was loudly calling for more troops to be committed — a very unpopular position. Barack Obama opposed any surge in troops, declaring: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."     Thus, while McCain was advocating for reinforcements, Obama was demanding a phased withdrawal, effectively agreeing with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said "this war is lost." Now, even Obama admits that the surge has been extremely successful (long after most independent observers had come to the same conclusion). However, Sen. Obama continues to argue that our impending victory is evidence that he has been right all along. While it is true that the United States will soon begin pulling its troops out of Iraq, thanks to John McCain, they will be returning with victory. Barack Obama would have brought them home in humiliating defeat.     In an absurd Daily op-ed last week, Jimmy Pianka argued that McCain's military experience actually disqualifies him to be commander in chief. Using grievously tortured logic, Pianka suggested that a man who has been in combat and in a POW camp is less qualified to lead our armed forces than a man with no military experience who associates with an unapologetic former domestic terrorist. Pianka condemned America as "a culture still very much enamored with war" and John McCain as "shaped profoundly by violence and cruelty, whose only visible passion is the spread of American values by force," incapable of "compassion and the basic identification with all humans as kin."     Contrast these maliciously false statements with Senator McCain's actions. After his horrendous treatment at the hands of the North Vietnamese, McCain led the push to normalize relations with that country, realizing the need for national reconciliation and healing. McCain opposes torture on the grounds that it is inhumane to do such things, even to our enemies.     On a more personal note, he and his wife Cindy were so moved with compassion for a young Bangladeshi girl trapped in terrible poverty that they spontaneously adopted her. These are not the actions of a man warped by violence and rage. Rather, McCain's actions prove that he feels deep empathy and has a sound grasp of the subtleties of this complex world. However, he also has seen the face of evil, and America's allies and enemies alike will have no reason to doubt his resolve in the face of danger.     Obama, on the other hand, has vowed to bomb our ally Pakistan without its permission while simultaneously promising to talk to our enemy Iran without preconditions. Such a scattershot foreign policy can only serve to confuse our friends and embolden potential foes. Michael Hawley is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. He is the president of Tufts Republicans.



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Freshman vote for senators today

The predictably congested flock of freshman Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate candidates is facing off today in an election for the class' seven seats.


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Police Briefs

Identity crisis: Two addresses to match those two IDs     Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) officers responded to a call at 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 28 from Bartol House, commonly called the Arts Haus, at 37 Sawyer Ave. The caller reported that a suspicious male was knocking on the house's front and back doors. Upon arriving, officers found a student at the rear of the Health Service building.     When they asked the individual where he lived, he pointed to the Health Service building, which is at 124 Professors Row, and said 98 Professors Row, according to Sergeant Robert McCarthy of TUPD.     The individual was asked for identification and produced two different driver's licenses, one that indicated he was 21 and one that said he was 20. "Guess which one was the real one," McCarthy said.     TEMS was called and the individual was eventually deemed well enough to be released and then was brought back to his fraternity house.