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NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Panel discusses current Israeli-Palestinian crisis in Gaza

Despite their reputation for being politically apathetic, over 300 Rice students joined community members in Herring Hall auditorium last Thursday to learn more about the current Israeli-Palestinian crisis in the Gaza Strip, while another 150 were turned away due to fire codes. The conflict, which reached its peak over Rice's winter break, was the subject of a panel entitled "The Gaza Crisis," sponsored by the Rice Student Forum on Israeli-Arab Affairs, Hillel and the Muslim Student Association.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

KTRU review-in-brief: The Crying Light

Every week at KTRU, eager DJs scribble out short reviews of music's cutting-edge albums. KTRU's Music Department uses these reviews to judge the quality of the albums it receives and to provide information for the DJs who play them. Each week, a DJ polishes one of these reviews so that KTRU's riches can shine for the larger Rice community.Where has singer-songwriter Antony Hegarty been since rocketing to indie stardom with 2005's I Am a Bird Now, an almost completely unknown record that beat out big names like Coldplay and Bloc Party to win the United Kingdom's prestigious Mercury Prize? One answer comes in a song title from his new release The Crying Light: "Another World." This album sounds as ghostly and distant as an alien transmission - but its emotional register feels entirely human.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Men's tennis flexes muscle in home competitions

Only a week into its season, the men's tennis team is racking up the accomplishments. Downing their first conference opponent? Check. Trouncing a ranked foe? Check. Dropping only three points in their first five matches of the season? Check. It is official: After their hottest start in years, the Owls have begun their 2009 campaign, one fraught with high expectations highly-ranked opponents, in the best way possible.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

A bloody good Valentine

It's official: Everything needs to be made into 3-D! Just like the groundbreaking innovations of movies with sound and color in the early 20th century, 3-D technology is completely revolutionizing the American cinema experience, and My Bloody Valentine uses the technology admirably.Traditionally, 3-D has been reserved for adventure rides at Universal Studios or nature exhibits at the IMAX, but now it has the potential to rejuvenate the incredibly stale and unoriginal horror genre.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Strong play in face of adversity not enough for Owls

Even the best teams need to be lucky sometimes to keep winning. The opposite can be said of the women's basketball team. The Owls (5-12, 0-4 Conference USA) have been struggling throughout the season to string together solid, 40-minute performances, byt even when they succeed, adversity finds a way to catch up with them. The first of a series of setbacks occurred last week, when freshman point guard D'Frantz Smart sprained a foot ligament and was forced to sit out for the first time in her college career. Smart leads the team in scoring and assists, but also plays a leadership role and is currently out on a day-to-day basis.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

2009 Women's Tennis Preview

The Owls kick off their spring season after a strong showing this past fall under new head coach Elizabeth Schmidt. The 68th best program in the nation looks to improve upon their ranking this year and earn a bid to the prestigious NCAA tournament behind the leadership of junior Julie Chao and seniors Emily Braid and Rebecca Lin. Last season, women's tennis went 17-5 and finished as the 64th best team in the nation after starting at 74. The Owls have room to improve this year after a season that did not meet their expectations. The semifinal matchup in the Conference USA Championships on April 19, resulted in a close 3-4 loss to the 50th ranked Marshall, but the team still managed to have its best season since 1983.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Jewish studies program, minor proposed for fall

Rice University recently published a tentative proposal to add another academic program to its scholastic offerings: Jewish studies. Last Tuesday, President David Leebron held a reception at his house with prospective donors in an attempt to raise the $10 million of funding that Rice estimates it will need to start such a program. If everything goes according to plan, the program will begin as a minor in the fall, Associate Religious Studies Professor Matthias Henze said.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

A review of the ratings

When my friends and I make plans to see a movie and wonder which shows are good, we often start by saying something like, "Well, the Thresher gave it four stars!" For us and other readers, the star rating is an easy way to learn something about a movie - or album or game - without reading the review.For the critics assigned with writing critiques, though, the number of stars can mean something entirely different. It can be a subjective rating of the work's merits, a sign of how much the author liked the work or even a mathematical rubric of some kind. What relationship does the numerical ranking have to the text of a written review? How do we decide to hand out the stars?

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Rice grad student places 11th at Houston marathon

Most undergraduates at Rice do not venture into the dark bowels beneath Keck Hall that house Valhalla, the graduate student pub. We all surmise that amidst the crazy paintings on the wall and the loud music pumping against the walls, some of America's brightest graduate students are sharing a beer or two, discussing ideas far beyond undergraduate comprehension. What undergraduate students do not know, however, is that there is an elite runner among them. Colin Carroll is his name, a native Connecticuter who rises every day at 5:30 a.m. and runs loops around the Buffalo Bayou. At the Chevron Houston Marathon last Sunday, his time of 2:30:26, was good enough for a 13th-place finish overall, 11th among men and the fastest by any Texas resident.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Forum fails to give balanced viewpoints

The "Crisis in Gaza" forum held last Thursday was far from the kind of balanced conversation that had been promised. Rather than presenting both the Palestinian and Israeli perspective on the most recent events in Gaza, three of the four professors were pro-Palestinian and the lone Israeli speaker was far from enthusiastic about having to represent the Israeli voice on the panel. As a result, students left the forum having heard a wildly one-sided point of view on the Arab-Israeli conflict.The audience flowed out of Herring Hall with a full dose of pro-Palestinian propaganda absent any defense for not only Israel's incursion into Gaza but, more fundamentally, Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. No speaker on the panel discussed Hamas' self-proclaimed mission to wipe Israel off the map as part of its larger dream to massacre the world's Jews. A brief glance at Hamas' charter reveals an anti-Semitic organization whose sole purpose is the destruction of Israel with zero possibility for any peace agreement.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Former Human Genome Project director blends faith, science

To many, science and religion are polar opposites. Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project and a devout Christian, hoped to dispel this notion of absolute separation by speaking to the Rice and Houston community at the Veritas Forum Wednesday evening in the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management's Shell Auditorium. Over 1,300 people attended the forum, more than half of whom were Rice students and faculty. Five overflow sites were made available for those who were not able to view the event in person.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Wihl to leave Rice for Wash U

After five years as the dean of humanities, Gary Wihl is leaving Rice to accept a position as dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. Wihl was hired in 2003 and was contracted through 2010, but was recently actively recruited by Washington University, University Art Director Molly Hipp Hubbard said.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Initial women's meet brings two provisional times

After winning both the conference indoor and outdoor championships last season, as well as earning a No.1 ranking in Conference USA, the women's track and field team entered the 2009 season with plenty of expectations. With a win in their first meet of the season last Friday, where they defeated the University of Texas and the University of Houston, perennial track and field powerhouses, the Owls proved they could still outmuscle the best.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

U.S. should re-examine support of Israel

It always makes me chuckle to see how different Americans are from the rest of the world. Take the current situation in Gaza. Newspapers in Europe are calling for investigations into war crimes Israeli armed forces are committing against the citizens of Gaza. Europeans love the underdog, though it was not always that way. They say that the two World Wars sharpened their sensibilities and made them see with clarity the guiding light of cosmopolitanism built on entirely new principles. The American academy, being ever fascinated with the deep and rich historical heritage of our sophisticated ancestors, fell over itself to follow suit.The U.S. empathizes with a very different type of underdog: the one that will win eventually. European sensibilities are guilt-induced: the redrawing of borders, the oppressive colonial regimes, the economic and political meddling - the liberal media in Europe cannot help but shed a rainstorm of tears for the failed pet projects of its states. The United States came into being under very different circumstances: It was once an underdog itself, so its empathy is not guilt-induced; it is a form of vanity.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Men's track team starts season with key win

If you witnessed last Friday's Leonard Hilton Invitational at the University of Houston, you would have watched a men's track and field meet that was a competition in name only. Rice used incredible individual performances in all events to earn an impressive 82.25-point win, easily besting the University of Texas-San Antonio's runner-up total of 68.25 and Houston's third-place grab of 65.25. Head coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) said even though Houston's showing was incomplete, the same was true for Rice.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Jewish studies minor holds promise for future programs

The idea of the planned Jewish studies minor, set to be implemented after achieving $10 million in donations, has convinced us that the administration's focus on academics is expanding and extending in the right direction (See story, page 1). As the first specific religious studies program at Rice, a diverse student body will have the opportunity to extend their knowledge into new realms, and potential students will have yet another reason to look at Rice with intrigued eye.But let us not stop here with this sole program. We hope that this new curriculum, slated to begin next fall, will be the harbinger of better things ahead. There is no reason for us to assume that this will be the last minor established at Rice, let alone the lone religious studies program offered by the university. However, we would like to call for the continued growth in both areas.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Duncan, McMurtry O-Weeks well arranged, but hurried

The freshmen coming in next year at Duncan and McMurtry colleges will be in the unique positions of defining their colleges' identities, traditions, and unique nomenclatures. And according to the plans, they will have some help, as Baker and Will Rice colleges will be having separate yet collaborative orientation weeks with Duncan and McMurtry, respectively. (see story, page 1).The plan in and of itself - with O-Weeks maintaining their separate identities amidst an atmosphere that will foment Rice's two newest colleges - is admirable, if not entirely perfect. We respect the administration's desire to avoid the situation that arose with the inception of the most recent college, Martel, which was populated almost entirely with those who didn't mesh in the other eight colleges' lives. This stew of anxiety and awkwardness did not foster an ideal situation, and while Martel has since come into its own, its beginnings were impeded of lack of planning.

NEWS 1/22/09 6:00pm

Bride War's Hudson and Hathaway all fluff, no stuff

Wedding movies are arguably the ultimate form of chick flick, for they are simultaneously romantic, sentimental and funny. The newly-released Bride Wars puts a spin on the stereotypical wedding plot by capitalizing on the misfortunes of two crazed, catfighting brides to produce a movie with little substance, little originality, but lots of tulle.Narrated by famous New York wedding planner Marion St. Claire (The Women's Candice Bergen), Bride Wars doubles the typical wedding movie fun by presenting two weddings and two brides, Emma (Rachel Getting Married's Anne Hathaway) and Liv (My Best Friend's Girl's Kate Hudson). The two best friends have dreamed of getting married in New York's Plaza Hotel in the month of June ever since they were little girls and have finally found the right guys (Wanted's Chris Patt and "Reba"'s Steve Howey) to complete their perfect wedding pictures. There's just one problem: The wedding planner accidentally books their ceremonies on the same day, and madness ensues from this fatal flaw in the brides' plans.

NEWS 1/15/09 6:00pm

Chao Center for Asian Studies welcomes new directors

While the rest of Rice may be experiencing a temporary hiring freeze, the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian Studies welcomes new leadership. Earlier this month, Tani Barlow started her five-year term as the inaugural director of the Chao Center after being selected from an international pool of applicants in May 2008. Barlow, who previously worked as a professor in history and women's studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, takes over where interim director Richard Smith left off.