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The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher)
by James Adams Smith
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

AFTER the writers strike this year, the Oscars had trouble keeping audiences watching. Not only was the lineup of nominated films—such as There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, and Michael Clayton—unheard of by most, the films were too artsy to invite the public eye. The Best Foreign Language Film Award has had a history of favoring art house cinema. The trend continued when the Oscar went to Germany’s The Lives of Others last year.

This year’s winner, The Counterfeiters from Austria, takes on a weighty subject, The Holocaust, without really getting to the center of it. While most Holocaust films touch on the graphic and malicious nature of genocide, this film takes another approach. It tells the true story of a group of Jews who are chosen to work at a concentration camp as counterfeiters, illegally copying the British Pound and US Dollar to fuel the Nazi plan of bankrupting foreign economies.

The group, led by former conman Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Marcovics), must work to stay alive under the supervision of Nazi war criminal Friedrich Herzog (Devid Striesow). They are given comfortable places to sleep, stuffed with food, and worked strenuously for the Nazi regime in a sealed-off bunker.

The Counterfeiters

All the while, they can hear other Jews being tortured and murdered just over the wall. Sorowitsch’s top priority is staying alive, but a younger idealist in the crew plans a strike in hopes of sparking a revolution. The tension builds as the group encounters trouble reproducing the US Dollar.

The film’s cinematography, dark and grainy, adds a stylistic glow to the scenes. The handheld camera shakes from scene to scene. At times, the style is overdone, distracting from the significance of events on screen. Since the living conditions for these Jews were not as bad at the real concentration camps, the film’s sets worked well.

Although this film digs persistently to find a new path through the Holocaust—diverging from its forerunners Schindler’s List, The Pianist, and Faithless—it doesn’t separate itself from the pack. The dreariness and gloom of these movies has been touched on already. Still, Filmmakers keep returning to the Holocaust to find new material. The problem is that eventually the realistic nature of the Holocaust comes only as memory of a film.

The Counterfeiters

An example is James Cameron’s Titanic, which emptied many bags of buttered popcorn, but also distorted a real tragedy. This is not to say that tragic history should not be touched. However, once a real-life occurrence—with the people who died or the families who were affected—becomes an entire genre, it begins to market a mere interpretation of human tragedy.

Beyond its social failures, The Counterfeiters works in a detached way – the audience is not invited to interact with the characters. The protagonist Solomon, with his own set of moral failings, is hard to trust. Therefore the narrative rolls disjointedly back and forth, and the audience is given the ending first. The result of this is a loss of emotional impact—rather, it seems to declare itself a film, or just: another Holocaust film.

Most critics and the Academy Awards declare The Counterfeiters to be a work of art and originality. Then why didn’t Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, another Holocaust drama, win Best Foreign film last year? Although the Holocaust itself will forever haunt the memories of the world, filmmakers need to find new subject matter.

A more deserving film was the more uplifting tale of Jean-Dominque Bauby’s dealing with paralysis, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Nevertheless, since the Academy Awards received some of their lowest ratings this year, it probably makes little difference who won.

The Counterfeiters

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07-08 Winter cover

The 2007-2008 winter issue of Deconstruction has been distributed across campus this week. You can pick them up at places on Main Street, like the Brew Ha-Ha, as well as in some of the lecture halls and the library.

If you wrote for the magazine, we have copies on reserve for you! Stop by the next meeting (Wed. March 5th, 6:30pm in the Scrounge) to pick up your copy.

An online version of the magazine will be on the website within the next few days if you can’t get your hands on a physical copy. To give you a little taste of the magazine, here’s an article by Bob McGinnis.

One Shot Too Many: Shooting Down Tila ‘E.T.’ Tequila’s A Shot at Love
by Bob McGinnis

As if “I Love New York” didn’t cover trashy love based reality TV already, “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” should fill in the holes. Tila, a “hot” bisexual girl, is looking for love, and in today’s world, where else is there other than MTV and your own show to find true love and real romance? After all, only the best relationships are created on television.

In a “Shot at Love” there is the added twist that both Males and Females are competing for Tila’s heart, while only one will win in the end. MTV really thought hard about this show; its main appeal lies in the fact that lesbians vying for Tila’s affection could make out with one another if they get bored. This should attract more viewers than the too similar “I Love New York”; Straight guys can’t resist trying to catch some girl-on-girl action, and of course, the lesbian viewers will find the show’s lesbians hotter than the star Tila Tequila (which isn’t hard, considering Tila is reminiscent of E.T.). Not to mention, the men on the show are so irresistible, that they might be able to turn a lesbian, giving the viewers the unexpected night-cam shot of them messing around at night. You have got to love how MTV acts like they didn’t plan this – there’s twenty people and only one bed in the whole house; clad with silk sheets nonetheless.

This show has to be a breakthrough for MTV; it’s got everything all the other shows don’t have. Of course this is a lie; it degrades women and this show isn’t helping the bisexual or lesbian community assimilate either. On the surface, this show could be helping the general public be more open towards sexuality, yet, the context of the show makes it just another piece of trash – MTV quality.

This show exploits bisexuality multiple times by unfortunately highlighting the stereotype that bisexuals are attracted to anything with genitals. What’s laughable is that Tila uses her bisexuality for dramatic purposes. Anytime she’s not getting enough, she confesses that being bi is difficult, and this is her “first time coming out” and everyone is just making it so hard. “First time coming out”? Obviously she had to tell the producers she was bi, if indeed she is at all. And if this was her first time coming out, she picked one hell of a time to do it. When MTV uses bisexuality as a platform for drama, it’s a slap in the face to anyone who actually had to fear coming out. This little midget slut has twenty-plus people chasing after her, and she is woebegone. I guess she’s not that big of a hoe after all.

It degrades women by idolizing the idea that looks are everything, and that a girl becomes desirable and worthy of love by being a total idiot with a tan and breast implants (okay, maybe they’re real). I mean, where did Tila Tequila come from and why do these people even want to hook up with her? MySpace and Playboy got her famous, but what is she really famous for other than being eye candy and a tool? Everything about these women on the show does nothing good for setting positive roles for girls.
And what about the men? While I first overlooked them, they also are a setting a bad example. All of the men on the show are macho and basically there for sex. Supposedly they are there to win Tila’s love and affection, but after all, MTV is really just talking about sex drive here. How else would the men and women really “fall for Tila” when all they’ve seen of her is her tits? I doubt those five minute one-on-one talks really let them find each other out as a person. The roles the males play also promote negativity; they resort to fighting when things don’t go their way, and they frequently disrespect the women around them.

Regardless, what can I expect from MTV? It appeals to the shallowness in everyone, idolizing sex and good looks. People know MTV is trash, and luckily no one takes it seriously—at least we hope. However, if there are still some viewers who believe these harmful stereotypes are true, advocate groups for women or the gay community may have a more difficult time dispelling these false and insulting generalizations. Yet, I suppose it’s a bit harsh to call Tila a midget slut. Sadly, this nation runs on money, so she’s only being a good American citizen by doing what she can to get that cash. I’m sure E.T. would do the same.

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The newest issue of Deconstruction arrived at the printers this afternoon, so you can expect all of its juicy goodness when you come back from winter break. We’ll be organizing some kind of event and meetings soon, so get ready to ramp up for another semester at Deconstruction.

If you happen to live in Delaware or New Jersey, you had the chance to vote in presidential primaries today. Here’s hoping you did, as the polls are closed and the votes are being counted.

At this point it looks like Obama is taking Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, and Illinois while Clinton is likely to take Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The republicans are little less clear, with McCain likely to take Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey. Huckabee has won West Virginia already and is leading Arkansas and Missouri. Romney isn’t going empty handed: he has his home state of Massachusetts.

In honor of Super Tuesday, here’s some samples from the new issue’s presidential candidates feature.

Presidential Speed Dating: Who Will You Choose
by Evie Hayman, Wallace McKelvey, and Amy Saltzman

Hillary Clinton: People do crazy things freshman year, like taking the “walk of shame,” vomiting in public… or leading the Young Republican club. Guess which one this rebellious lioness did. However, this fembot doesn’t change all her opinions so easily. Hillary is known for her loyalty: to universal health care, women’s rights, and her baby’s daddy, Bill. But don’t mistake loyalty for weakness, this stone cold fox shows no emotion unless votes are at stake. Like a fine wine, Hillary gets better with age and experience.

John Edwards: John Edwards is the true undergod. Despite a $29.5 million net worth, he describes himself as the “people’s candidate” and has likened himself to Seabiscuit. He’s built a platform on universal health care and ending poverty, having clawed his way from the textile mill to the Senate and, possibly, the presidency. In 2004, Edwards played Barney to John Kerry’s Fred, but will he be willing to play Bonnie to Hillary Clinton’s Clyde?

Mike Huckabee: Should you choose Huckabee, be prepared to rock out Saturday night and cleanse your soul Sunday morning. As the bass player for rock band Capitol Offense, he’s opened for Willie Nelson and REO Speedwagon. Don’t expect the usual rock star antics, such as cocaine use or pre-marital sex. He’s a good Baptist minister who still supports the war in Iraq, opposes Darwin, and has recruited Stephen Colbert as his running mate.

John McCain: John McCain has lived the kind of dangerous life that Schwarzenegger can only dream of. He endured six years of torture in North Vietnam after being shot down by the Viet Cong. A supporter of the Iraq War, he is the only presidential candidate to have a son serving there. McCain has called himself “a wiseass.” This year he was rebuked on the floor of the House of Representatives after saying he had picked out a gift for Jon Stewart in Baghdad: “a little IED [improvised explosive device] to put on your desk.” Some people just can’t take a joke.

Barack Obama: This human melting pot is more than just a tall, lean hunk of man. Obama has won fans ranging from young voters to Edwards’ former compadre, John Kerry. But no hard feelings; this grassroots campaign can do no wrong in the eyes of college students. After all, Obama has admitted to using alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years. He also credits poker as a guilty pleasure. With this party hard attitude, we have a feeling many shots will be dedicated to Obama in the upcoming months.

Mitt Romney: Don’t let his MySpace fool you, this conservative poster child isn’t as boring as he looks. If you don’t believe us, ask 75,202 New Hampshire voters. And did we mention he’s a Mormon? Although he has tried to keep it a secret, the press just loves polygamy. Co-Editor-in-Chief Amy thinks Romney is a G(randfather)ILF. What more endorsement do you need?

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We won’t be having a meeting this Wednesday, so enjoy your Thanksgiving break! Layout will begin Monday the 26th, we’ll update you on exact times later. Included here is an article about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from the latest issue.

Boy in destroyed Plaquemines County courthouse.
A destroyed courthouse sat for two years in Plaquemines Parish, he said. Kids would play inside of it.

After the Storm: Louisiana Two Years After Katrina
Written by WALLACE MCKELVEY / Photographs by ANDREW SOPER

FEMA flatly ignored an Emergency Communities volunteer trying to get a trailer for a homeless family in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, a region hit particularly hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The volunteer called again the next day, saying he was the “director of procurement” for the nonprofit organization. The trailer was soon on its way.

“Our leader told us that when you want something from the government, make up a fancy title for yourself,” said UD student Andrew Soper, who volunteered at EC this summer.

Emergency Communities is one of many organizations that have stepped up where FEMA has fallen short in the wake of Katrina. It sets up community centers, which provide three hot meals daily as well as free internet, laundry, and long distance telephone service. The centers become the main focus point for redevelopment in the community. Emergency Communities’ goal is to transfer the centers to the community, while EC builds more centers in other affected areas.

Soper organized a summer camp at the EC center in the Diamond Trailer Park, an enclave of FEMA trailers 60 miles east of New Orleans in a soggy field surrounded by a fence.

“It’s the second largest park in Louisiana,” Soper said. “And it has the highest crime rate of any park.”

With a miniscule budget, the volunteers organized daily activities for up to 50 or 60 children at the park. These included field trips to the Audubon Zoo and the recently refurbished YMCA pool in New Orleans.

Girl with a Red Nose, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

Clowns Without Borders, which regularly travels through third-world countries and war zones like Haiti and Serbia, came to the camp with red noses and face paint in their arsenal.

McGruff’s visit was more ho-hum.

“He came with the sheriff, got his picture taken, handed out coloring books, and peaced out,” Soper said. “He was there for five minutes.”

Deborah Alvarez, a UD English education professor who has conducted research and hosted a winter session in New Orleans, said problems in the school system were exacerbated by the hurricane.

Of the 127 public schools in the Orleans Parish School District, 120 were classified as in academic emergency and transferred to the Recovery School District in the Fall of 2005 before Katrina hit.

Alvarez and her winter session students helped teachers at John McDonogh High School prepare their students for the LEAP exam, a standardized testing program.

“[The students] were made to take the exams in the Spring of ’07,” Alvarez said. “During ’05-’06, many of these kids went to school for one week – the week before Katrina. Then they were evacuated and displaced. Some of them may have missed their entire freshman, sophomore, and junior year.”

According to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, 83 of the 127 schools were scheduled to be open for the ’07-’08 school year.

As a result of many public schools being heavily damaged and still closed, some students attend schools across town. Likewise, some schools focus on one subject area – math, science, or the arts.

“There isn’t any more a ‘neighborhood school,” Alvarez said. “It’s created a real mess.”

New Orleans schools also face the problem of hiring teachers. After Katrina, approximately 7500 teachers were fired and advised to find positions elsewhere.

“There’s a desperate need for teachers who are highly qualified in almost every discipline,” she said.

One of the greatest difficulties facing displaced residents in southern Louisiana and Mississippi is the lack of infrastructure.

The roads are in poor condition, public services are still well below their pre-Katrina levels, and there is a lot of red tape to go through to get aid from the government.

“There are no grocery stores in the Lower Ninth,” Soper said of predominantly black New Orleans neighborhood, which was inundated by water from failed levees. “If you want to buy groceries, you had to get on a bus and drive somewhere.”

Alvarez said that those who wanted to return to New Orleans faced housing shortages and inflation.

“After the storm, the apartment you could have rented for $300 a month, now was $750-$100,” Alvarez said. “People couldn’t afford to move back.”

Businesses across the city were closed due to flooding, leading to a shortage of services and materials. Construction suppliers like Home Depot were also closed, preventing residents who returned in the months after Katrina from rebuilding. Due to the closure of businesses, it was also difficult for returning residents to find jobs.

During winter session, Alvarez said one of her students suffered appendicitis. She was first taken to a doctor in a trailer home, before being taken to a hospital outside New Orleans.

Compounding the problems of infrastructure and public services is the Louisiana eminent domain law.

“If you don’t maintain your property for a certain amount of time, the government seizes it,” Soper said.

The specter of losing thousands of working-class homes, often a family’s most valuable possession, has led to legal battles and protests to prevent the law from being enforced.

Emergency Communities volunteers have regularly mowed the lawns of residents who don’t have the means to return to New Orleans and rebuild.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has had a number of victories against eminent domain through the courts system.

Thus far, no residents have been evicted from their homes, despite threats from Mayor Ray Nagin of mass-demolition in early 2006.
Soper said that walking through the Lower Ninth Ward was a strange experience.

“It’s unlike anyplace else – it’s a ghost town,” he said.

Remains of the Plaquemines Co. Courthouse.

Whole neighborhoods are empty, devoid of life. Houses have sat vacant for two years and only a few people have returned. Spray-paint markings remain on the doors from when rescuers came through, tallying people rescued or corpses recovered.

“It’s safe to walk through during the day, but you don’t want to go there at night,” Soper said. “It’s so unsafe they still have MPs patrolling it.”

Regular police patrol the neighborhoods, while the military police drive around the maze of streets in Humvees.

“One EC volunteer was actually kidnapped,” he said.

The female volunteer had taken a taxi from the airport to the community center, and along the way the vehicle was carjacked at gunpoint. The carjacker told the driver to take him somewhere, but he was distracted and the driver and passenger escaped.

“Fortunately no one was hurt and the volunteer ended up staying,” Soper said.

Senseless violence is a fact of life in New Orleans, post-Katrina.

“There are a lot of desperate people in New Orleans,” Alvarez said. “Desperate for money.”

Alvarez said one of the teachers she worked with had moved from the Lower Ninth to the Marigny, near the French Quarter, and knew a barber who was trying to keep his business in the neighborhood alive.

“He was murdered in his trailer for 34 dollars,” she said.

Alvarez said a lot of drug dealers have returned, hoping to get their place back, which accounts for much of the violence.

The hurricane took an extreme psychological toll on its victims, which hasn’t been addressed due to the lack of mental health services in New Orleans.

“For two years, kids had to take on adult responsibilities,” Alvarez said. “There’s no homecoming, dances, or football games. You go to school and come home. This fall, it seems like the kids wanted those things back. They don’t want to be adults anymore.

“One of the things that trauma does to adults and adolescents is the stress focuses the energies of the brain on surviving the day. It’s hard to sit in the classroom and learn quadratic equations when all your mental and physical energy is focused on staying alive, living past today.”

The psychological trauma causes many students to engage in risky behavior. Alvarez remembered the story of one student she interviewed who was evacuated to Texas, then to one parent in Shreveport, and the other in Florida. He entered an air force base, stole a watch, and was arrested.

“He says he was sitting there with shackles on his hands and legs at 16 years old and had to ask himself, ‘what am I doing?’” she said.

Alvarez said some of the students she worked with withdrew into themselves, completely denying that anything had happened.

Harold, a homeless EC volunteer, walked with Soper around the Lower Ninth Ward collecting cans. Though he was outgoing in other respects, Harold would never talk of his feelings about the hurricane or its aftermath.

“You could never understand what it’s like after the storm,” Soper said. “But I wanted to understand.”

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Occasionally, articles slip through the cracks, or there just isn’t room for them in the print edition. This is one such case. Check out Kaitlin Valli’s article, railing against the phoniness of faux-alt-country ingenue Jenny Lewis. Check out Lewis’ website and decide for yourself.

Jenny Lewis album cover

Why I Don’t Trust Jenny Lewis
by KAITLIN VALLI

I don’t trust Jenny Lewis.

I was introduced to the concept of Jenny Lewis some time last year, when my friend Scott was getting into Rilo Kiley.

“I should download some of their stuff,” he said.

I didn’t mind the Rilo Kiley I had downloaded, and decided to take it to the next step: solo albums. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins had been getting some good reviews, and when I played the album I could see why.

Jenny Lewis has a sweet voice, and her songs were catchy, in a cutesy, folksy kind of way. And, yes, I guess I could have called it “soulful,” like every single music critic was doing during early 2006.

It was all fine, until one day, as I listened to her, it suddenly hit me: None of what she’s saying could possibly be genuine.

It’s all an act, from her lyrics to the twangy guitar and her sad eyes. My male friends had always commented upon how innocent she looked, how sweet. But, I thought, how can that be true? She’s like, thirty two. She’s from Los Angeles. But that was not the worst part of her façade—it was the real meaning of her music.

Her entire album is a parody of old-time country singers, and since no one in that hipster segment Jenny Lewis belongs to had ever really heard anything like it, she stands out for being so different, and therefore, cool.

The problem with Jenny Lewis is that most people tend to believe in the totally constructed image of her—the shy, sweet, earnest redhead with a broken heart. Do we think she’s not completely aware of her own construction?

She’s completely post-modern, but not in a good way. Her music is catchy and sweet, and could mean something to someone, but it can’t mean anything to anyone. If you believe her music, then you believe in a totally false creation.

Modern country music has never been cool, but there’s something about Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash that makes it okay for everyone to listen to them, even if they’re totally not relatable today—they’re classic, so it’s cool to admit liking them. There are no hints of modern country in Jenny Lewis’ album. It’s one hundred percent out of 1950s Tennessee and there’s no real relating to it. She knows she’s made an album that hipster kids can like, because it’s thoroughly disingenuous.

Never is this more evident than in her music video for her single “Rise Up With Fists!!!” The video is comprised of Jenny Lewis and the Watson twins in gaudy outfits, performing on a campy variety show. The song she’s singing is in the style of the artists she’s blatantly mocking. And there’s the proof: as soon as she decided to take a song that could—and should—have been a touching statement on the cheapness of the modern culture of relationships and set it in a music video that clearly mocks it, she completely discredits herself. That, or she just played an elaborate joke simply to mock a genre of music that once meant quite a lot to people.

Either way, Jenny Lewis is not to be trusted.

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Thanks to everyone who made last Monday’s launch party such a success! If you missed the party, we’ll be distributing the rest of the magazines (roughly 400 copies) across campus on Friday. Though they’ll be spread in a variety of locations, you can count on finding a copy in the second floor of Memorial Hall and in the gyms. If you can’t wait to get your DEcon fix, here’s an article to whet your appetite. You may also download a .pdf of the entire magazine on our website, at http://copland.udel.edu/stu-org/DeconMag/pi.html.

Fall ‘07 Cover

My Tango with the RIAA
by KATHLEEN HEBBLEWAITE

Normally, I don’t pay much attention to how I get my music. All I know is that I need that song now. To say that I love music is simplifying it. I need music. I know this sounds over-dramatic, but after going through a depressing drought over the summer, I’ve realized that music is how I get through the day. Whether I’m happy, sad, or one of the myriad emotions in between, I can always find a song that will go with it, make it better, or help it along. Broken Social Scene, the Gossip, Arctic Monkeys, Voice, some Mary J. Blige, whatever. I’m not making life-size models of the Velvet Underground in clay, but it seems I’ve developed an unwavering dedication to finding new artists with new sounds and new experiences.

So when I received a notification letter from an IT security goon telling me I was being sued for my enthusiasm for both music and saving money, it was kind of a low blow. I shouldn’t say sued, necessarily. The RIAA kindly made me an offer: $3,000 in forty days or they would bring charges against me for copyright infringement.

 

“IF WE DO NOT HEAR FROM YOU WITHIN FORTY (40) CALENDAR DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THIS LETTER, THEN WE WILL FILE SUIT AGAINST YOU IN FEDERAL COURT,” said Donald J. Kelso, a lawyer from Holme Roberts & Owen LLP.

Receiving anything that’s all in capitals usually causes me to panic a little, so you can imagine how much I was freaking out reading this letter.“Oh shit!” That was my main thought. I think I dissociated a little. I first read the letter while I was at my job in Philadelphia. It was late summer and I was just doing a routine email check.After reading the letter, I practically ran out of the office. I called the “Settlement Information Line,” where I was greeted by what sounded like a 16 year old trainee, who assured me thousands of people get letters like this every month.Comforting.I didn’t know what to do. I budgeted my money compulsively for a few days, and decided I would have to take their 6 month payment plan. Or I would have to take out a loan. Or…cry a lot. Maybe I could sell my back as advertising space on eBay.My iPod, which was happily full and used to being played all the time, was immediately shunned like it had the plague. I was specifically being accused of “distributing” more than 200 songs using LimeWire. I didn’t know that LimeWire opened up everything on your computer. I should have, but I didn’t. I’ve never had much luck with technology, really.

EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner had made it clear: You stole $200 worth of music from us, so we will threaten to sue you for up to $750 per song. It was also clear that they had completely reconstructed a relationship that had previously been pleasant.

As a lifelong music customer, I felt targeted and disrespected. I understand that I had illegally downloaded music. I did not, however, feel that what I did warranted threats.

 

According to dear friend dictionary.com, extortion is “the crime of obtaining money by the abuse of one’s office or authority.” I can’t really see what the RIAA did as anything else.

 

After calling the number they gave me, I was called back several times by the same little girl, pressuring me to make up my mind as to payment. I ended up paying the amount online, through a convenient site that UD actually refers students to when they receive one of these extortion letters.

 

In retrospect, I should have just ignored the entire thing. At the time, though, I was scared. I didn’t know my rights. I didn’t know what others had done, and I was being threatened.

 

The university didn’t help either. I called a head honcho in the IT department to try to figure out what had happened and he never returned my message. The woman I talked to at the IT number said she couldn’t help me. UD basically gave me the letter and left me to deal with it on my own. Hands-off. Good luck, you rebel. Maybe they were angry that they didn’t catch me.

 

Interestingly enough, not all universities have decided to be tools of the RIAA. According to consumerist.com, the University of Wisconsin has refused to forward RIAA letters unless they can provide a valid subpoena. The University of Nebraska is charging the RIAA $11 to process each letter. After all, universities are not working for the RIAA. Right?

 

The impression I get from UD is that they’d give out your information if they were pressed. After all, we already have “stalker net” through the main udel site that gives out my address.

 

After paying the money, I got an additional slap in the face by UD by getting a “strike” which would put me on probation for my senior year.

 

You know, I only wanted some music. With CDs selling at a going rate of $18, it’s no wonder so many students download. What I really don’t understand is why these companies are targeting one of their prime groups of consumers. Why college students, who don’t have any money to begin with?

 

My guess is because they can. They’re big, powerful, and scary. They’re losing money in record sales. Why not be pro-active and extort as much money from their consumers as they can? A lot of people would rather pay the $3,000 than risk the expenses of a lawyer in court.

 

All the righteous anger aside, what I really am is disappointed. Music shouldn’t be associated with people like this.

 

On the positive side, a lot of people are smartening up to the RIAA’s threat tactics. The RIAA is getting denied and accused left and right. Soon enough, they’ll regret this strategy.

 

Until then, I still plan on being a music head. I’m not going to let the business-heads get in my way. I will never buy a CD from them again, though.

 

You hear that evil music overlords? NEVER AGAIN!

 

Now I need to mellow out to some…Rage Against the Machine.

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In case you missed it the first time, the DEconstruction blog will periodically post articles from issues past worth reading. Here is the Back Issue

Guide to… How to Remedy Awkward Situations (Spring ’07)
by Amy Saltzman

Every day there are stories centered on it, people complaining about it, and Facebook groups dedicated to it…the awkward situation. If you haven’t fallen victim to the plight of the awkward, you probably don’t get out of the house enough. It is an unavoidable complex that plagues students and adults alike. So how does one avoid things like an embarrassingly long silence or ill-timed laughter? I have experienced enough awkward moments to be blackmailed for the rest of my life, and while I haven’t perfected the remedy, I have found that there are ways to flee the scene with minimal damage done to your pride. Here are a few tips and pointers that may help to make it through some of the most well-known awkward moments.

9:55 am

Awkward: You’re walking to class by yourself when you see a friend of a friend. You figure you’ll make friendly conversation by slowing your pace and talking to them. All goes well until about thirty seconds into the conversation when you get done asking how their week end went and how their classes are going. This is when awkward silence makes its debut, and you’re forced to walk side by side without anything to say, staring ambiguously at random objects and wishing you had brought your iPod.

Remedy: When all has gone sour, try and split from the friend as soon as possible and take a detour. Any brick path away from them is a good path, no matter how far from your class it may be. Even if you are a few minutes tardy, it is a worthwhile sacrifice for the sake of avoiding the walk of awkward hell.

11:14 am

Awkward: You’re walking to your second class when you get to the double doors of the building and are faced with a dilemma. There are people walking behind you, but they’re neither close enough to hold the door for or far enough to close the door behind you. You decide to be nice and just hold the door open, assuming the people that are following you will get the hint and speed up their pace. Instead, the people go so slow you swear they’re going backwards, but they already caught your eye with a silent acknowledgement that you will hold the door until they feel like getting there. Meanwhile, you end up holding the door so long that you look like the old people that Walmart hires to greet customers.

Remedy: Just let go of the door. Odds are that one of the ridiculously slow walkers will all of a sudden morph into a marathon runner to catch the door and maybe slip you a dirty look. Avoiding eye contact works and hoping that they’re not in your next class works best. If you feel like it’s already too awkward, just pretend you see a friend, make the “Oh, hey!” wave, and dart off on your way.

12:05 pm

Awkward: You’re leaving class and you head for the double doors signaling your freedom. However, this time someone holds the door open for you. You say “Thanks!” a little too excitedly, but just let it go. However, then you realize that there are two pairs of double doors, and they hold it for you again. You say “Thank-you” once again, or maybe you mumble something incoherently, but either way the person in front of you gives you a bit of a weird look or awkward laugh because they don’t know if they should respond or ignore you that second time around. Meanwhile, the joke’s on you.

Remedy: Try not to take it too personally. Saying “Thank-you” twice tends to be a bit of an overkill, so maybe the second mumble is a more appropriate gesture. However, if the person makes an effort to cock their head around to face you, they probably want a double dose of gratitude. Just try to be the first person to make it to the double set of double doors next time (however be weary of a second occurrence of the previous awkward door-holding instance).

1:30 pm

Awkward: You finally have some time to relax in your room, and even though you may be hungry or have to pee, you instead begin checking Facebook. You’re cruising through the news feed when all of a sudden you see that a Facebook friend has just uploaded a ton of pictures. Before you know it, you’ve spent twenty-five minutes mesmerized by a screen filled with pictures of people you don’t even know when all of a sudden something breaks your concentration. There’s a, “Oh, hey” from behind, and you realize you’ve been caught in the act of Facebook stalking by the person who you were currently stalking. And the mortification has only just begun.

Remedy: Try arranging your body in such a position that enables you to cover up almost the entire screen without looking obvious about it. However, if they have already caught you red-handed, try and start conversation that leads them away from your dirty deeds. If the picture that is on the screen is of a foreign country they visited or a vacation they went on, it’s okay to comment like, “Oh yeah, I just happened to see this picture of you from (insert name of place), and I have been  wanting to go. How did you like it?” Warning: this approach will not work with drunken weekend pics at Shaggy’s or some thing of that genre; then it just sounds weird.

4:00 pm

Awkward: After some further procrastination and maybe a nap, you decide to go work out because you still don’t feel like doing homework. You are at the gym, and there’s some moderate traffic with sweaty girls on bikes, sweaty boys checking out the girls on bikes, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile you’re minding your own business doing some hardcore crunches and actually beginning to take the workout seriously. Then all of a sudden the constricting muscles twist and pull in such a manner that out of nowhere it happens. You just farted. The horror contained in that split second of loud, free-flowing air is almost impossible to describe.

Remedy: Play it off by trying to move your shoes around on the floor in hopes of making a scuffing sound that also resembles a fart. If it works, you can hope to have earned yourself the benefit of the doubt from anyone whose wandering ears caught your melodious surprise. In the best case scenario, everyone around you has their iPod on, and wouldn’t even hear a bomb drop.

6:00 pm

Awkward: You head to dinner to meet up with some friends and are pleasantly surprised because it turns out that a larger, more general group of friends has decided to join the dining festivities as well. You guys are chatting away and you’re reminiscing with an old buddy whom you wish you kept in touch with more often. While asking how things are going, you slip in a personal note that you could have sworn they had told you about, such as, “Oh, and I’m really sorry that they had to put your dog, Smokey, to sleep over winter break.” However, from the look in their confused, glazed eyes, you realize the damage that’s been done. How did you actually know the deep inner turmoil resulting from the death of man’s best friend? Your friend hadn’t mentioned the incident to you after all; their Facebook status had told you so.

Remedy: The name of any close mutual friends should be mentioned right now. If there is a chance that this acquaintance may have told anyone else about Smokey, hopefully you’ll mention the name of the mutual friend that they confided in. If you are able to convince them that you heard the story from a friend of theirs, it is a more socially acceptable alternative to admitting your Facebook obsession.

6:15 pm

Awkward: You’re trying to get something to eat, but tonight is burger night at the dining hall, and the lines look more like American Idol auditions than dinner in Delaware. You finally are able to get out of the mess of students, and as you try to crane your neck to see over the crowd, someone catches your elbow with their tray. In what feels like an hour, your glass makes a slow, terrible, descent from your tray to the hard floor. You watch it tumble, already cringing with the knowledge of what is going to happen next: it smashes into tiny glass daggers on the floor. Everything stops and not a sound is heard; the entire dining hall has seemingly turned into the Morris Library and you feel like the obnoxious kid on the cell phone.

Remedy: Based on numerous past and current studies in this field of awkwardness, there has yet to be an official remedy for this situation. Until students conquer their impulsive urge to applaud at the first sign of broken glassware, there seems to be no sign of hope.

Although these are only a small spattering of the immense variety of situations that that awkwardness may assume, I hope that they give you an idea of how to make a classier exit when everything that could go wrong, has. Sure, there are still going to be Facebook slip-ups, regrettable hookups, and continuous situations that make you shake your head and ask “Why me?”, but preparation is your best bet to dealing with awkwardness is a less awkward fashion.

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