Tag Archives: Rice University

Rice v Purdue: Top 5 overheards

Yesterday, Rice beat Purdue. A C-USA team beat a Big 10 team, huzzah! The last time Rice at home defeated a team from a conference that automatically qualifies for a BCS bowl since Rice beat Duke in 2001. Of course, one of the best parts about playing a school that actually cares about its football program, besides beating them and making their fans and players cry, is sheer contrast of the crowds. This always leads to entertaining conversations to overhead in the audience, or read via Tweets. Anyways, here in no particular order are my top 5 Overheards or Tweets from the game

5. “Look at that kid” [Points to a Rice student taking pictures from the top of the stadium] “What’s he doing? He must be some kind of ‘tard. Der der der!” — Said by an drunk, overweight Purdue fan in a helmet that was too small for his fat head.

4. “Yes! Rice just beat Purdue in American Football!” — A University of Texas student doing his impression of a Rice student

3. “And while UT has it’s own brand of water, Rice University has it’s own brand of beer,” [showing Saint Arnold on screen] — Rice MOB show

2. “I don’t care if miller light is union made, it is still undrinkable swill” — Overheard in the Rice beer pen

1. “A classy @ricemob sketch for halfime saluting JSC & @NASA …classiness only explained by the script being rewritten by Rice Public Affairs! — Tweet by @expatminister.

Rice University, not University of Houston, belongs in the Big 12

How many Aggies does it take to move a school from the Big 12 to the SEC? I don’t know, but why would Texas A&M want to join the Securities and Exchange Commission?

Anyways, Texas A&M (is that another name for SMU, as my New York grandmother asked) isn’t going anywhere. But that hasn’t stopped talk about college sports realignments. While the conversation should have ended with the SEC’s rejection of A&M, diehard University of Houston boosters just won’t shut up about how they deserve to be in the Big 12.

Most recently, State Rep. Garnet Coleman wrote a letter to Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education Dan Branch encouraging the University of Houston to replace A&M in case of any move. (pdf: ChairmanBranch UH big 12)

But if any Houston-based C-USA team belongs in the Big 12, it is Rice.

Why? Because of the crazy arguments I can make right here.

1. Rice has a bigger endowment

First of all, Rice has a bigger endowment. While I didn’t think this was an issue, but the Wikipedia article about the Big 12 Conference seems to imply otherwise. Simply by specifically listing endowment, the article implies that it is an important criteria.

Rice University has an endowment of $4.1 billion. Now that’s a hefty package right there, especially in contrast to UH’s wimpy $553 million. Rice would be number 3, but UH would find itself behind even Texas Tech.

Let’s just face it,  Rice is better endowed than UH.

Advantage: Rice

Rice 1 UH 0.

2. Rice has a bigger football stadium

Currently, the smallest football stadium in the Big 12 is Baylor University’s Floyd Casey Stadium, which holds 50,000. As is the university’s custom, UH would come far below this already low minimum, with Robertson Stadium holding merely 32,000. That is less than Rice University’s old Rice Field.

Rice Stadium, on the other hand, currently holds 50,000 and is expandable to 70,000.

Plus, Rice Stadium has already held a Super Bowl, and was the site of President Kennedy’s “We Will Go to the Moon” speech. What has Robertson Stadium had? Uh, an AFL championship game.

Advantage: Rice

Rice 2 UH 0

3. Rice has a bigger baseball field

Rice’s consistently successful baseball team plays in the beautiful Reckling Park, which seats 5,368, larger than all but 4 of the Big 12 baseball parks.  UH also has a baseball team, apparently. It plays in Cougar Field, which merely holds 5,000.

Advantage: Rice

Rice 3 UH 0

4. Rice has a better athletics attendance ratio

In 2009, Rice had an average attendance per football game of 13,552. In the same year, UH had an average attendance of 25,242. UH may seem to have the advantage here … if you suck at critical thinking. But the fact of the matter is that Rice does a much better job at getting fans to turn out than UH does.

Rice is able to average 13,552 fans to football games with but 5,760. On the other hand, UH has a total student body of 38,752 yet can only get a football turnout of 25,242. Rice demonstrates the ability to get fans and support from beyond campus in a way that UH merely cannot. While Rice can get more than double of its student body to show up, UH can’t even get the whole campus to turn out to games.

What a weak and pathetic show of support. What a lack of athletic potency. Poorly endowed indeed.

I bet UH can’t even get UH student James Franco to turn out to games.

Furthermore, while Rice has an attendance : student body ratio (ASB) of 2.35. UH has an ASB of merely .65. Rice’s ratio is more than 3.5 times greater than UH’s. Now that is a show of real team support and talent. Assuming static ASB, if Rice were the size of UH, it could get football crowds of more than 91,000. This is the sort of number that belongs in the Big 12.

Advantage: Rice.

Rice 91,000 UH 0

In conclusion, Rice belongs in the Big 12. Let’s make this happen.

The Terrifying History of the Rice Cryptid

The origins of the Rice University Cryptid, the Evan’s Hare, revealed. And it all began in 1916…

But a few weeks ago, I spotted an unidentifiable creature the claims the Rice University campus as its hidden home. Apparently similar to the Jackalope, this beast that I have deemed “Evan’s Hare” still remains loose, and largely a mystery.

What is this fantastic beast that I have found?!

Some have mocked my account of this hooved, unexplainable wunderbeast. However, the revealing spotlight of history should leave no question about the fantastical status of the Evan’s Hare, and its mysterious origins at Rice University.

It all began in 1916.

Rice University admitted its first class in 1912. In those early years, The Rice Institute, as it was originally known, spent considerable effort recruiting and retaining top minds in maths, sciences, and other fields. Some of those early names may still be recognizable to students today. Notably, Julian Huxley was one of Rice’s first professors.

Note Huxley, the first Director of UNESCO, and a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund, in this picture from Rice’s first yearbook.

What a brave, new world Rice was back then.

While Huxley may be the most famous face in that practically centennial photographs, the man important for the story is Hermann Joseph Muller. Muller was recruited by Huxley to teach at Rice, where he continued some of the first genetic research. Notably this research focused on the Drosophila, aka, the fruit fly. But that wasn’t all of his work…

Hermann Joseph Muller: Father of the Rice Cryptid?

Muller may be better known for his 1946 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was granted the award for “the discovery that mutations can be induced by x-rays.”

How convenient that the home of this rabbitesque mutant was where the father of radiation-induced mutations first cut his teeth as a full professor. But of course, that would be preposterous. It is not like there is a picture of Muller, and the rest of his scientific team, with a rabbit.

Oh wait there totally is.

Notice the little creature in front of Muller in the Campanile photo. Doesn’t it look a little familiar?

How convenient that the father of radiation-induced mutations is photographed with a rabbit-like creature.

The connections are becoming apparent and the truth is being revealed. So is the Evan’s Hare a cryptid, or some mutant created by man? Or could it be both?

The Rice Historian comments that there is no information about the rabbit in the 1916 photograph. And indeed, there is little information about Muller’s time at Rice. Of course, why would they want to advertise this man. Sure, he won the Nobel Prize. But he also had explicit Communist sympathies and worked closely with scientists from the USSR. Muller also was involved in the illegal leftist student newspaper, The Spark. So perhaps Rice, as fitting Texas’ mid-century anti-communism, decided to cover up any ties with this pinko. And with those ties, evidence of his genetic experiments on rabbits.

So today, the offspring of his mutant creatures still roam the grassy quads and oak filled campus of Rice University.

Hermann Muller. A Frankenstein to rabbits. A creator to the Evan’s Hare. A father to the Rice Cryptid.

In which Evan discovers a Cryptid at Rice University

Bigfoot. Ogopogo. Chupacabra. Legends to some, beasts yet to be discovered for others. Societies around the world tell myths about the creatures that live just outside humanity’s knowledge. They are called Cryptids: creatures or plants whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus and often regarded as highly unlikely.

And I discovered one.

It was a bright, sunny day in June, and the bells had just struck four. I was walking back to the library from a late lunch, enjoying the flora and fauna of the semi-urban Rice University campus before returning to my Barbri video. Despite being located in the middle of a city, the university and the nearby Hermann Park, are home to some more unusual animals. There are the nutria in the Hermann Park pond. The occasional coyote sightings. And of course, the terrifying hives of graduate students.

Not to mention the adorable bunnies!

Just a bunny!

But yesterday I spied an animal beyond categorization.

I heard some rustling in the bushes, and went over to see if it was just another squirrel, or maybe a slightly more rare bunny. Among returning feelings of playing Pokemon and looking for a rare Jigglypuff among hoards of Pidgeys, I spied a tuft of brown fur rustling through the underbrush. I crept up slowly as to not scare away the creature, but unlike the rabbits, or even the most friendly squirrels that constantly approach people in search of snacks, this little beast did not run away. No. It hopped closer. Raised back in its haunches, it hopped out of the brush and towards the sidewalk where I was standing. This was no ordinary creature. With smooth swiftness, desperate to not scare away the beast, I grabbed my iPhone and fumbled with the touchpad until I was able to snap a picture. As I looked over the edge of the camera, the animal looked back, and at that point it struck me that this was not an ordinary animal.

It had ears somewhat like a rabbit, but shorter than most other ones on campus. It had a large snout, and giant rear haunches. And instead of front paws, what looked like hooves. This was no rabbit.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

What is this fantastic beast that I have found?!

What is this thing?! Heading back into the library, I scoured the only reliable source for information on odd and mythical animals: wikipedia’s list of cryptids. Perhaps one of these would fit.

Considering the location, maybe it was an Elmendorf Beast, which is indigenous to Texas. Weighing around 20 pounds, the beasts are responsible for attacking and killing livestock around Elmendorf, but a few hour drive away.

Is this what I saw?

However, unlike the Elmendorf Beast, the animal I saw had fur. And there have not been any recent reports about attacks on Rice’s livestock.

Given the creature’s fur and large haunches, maybe it was a Phantom Kangaroo. While technically not a cryptid, because kangaroos are real, there is a special category for kangaroos and wallabies showing up in areas where one would not expect them. This very well may have been a Phantom Wallaby.

This wallaby looks an awful lot like the creature I found

What was a wallaby doing in Houston, Texas? Who knows! These are the mysteries of the world. Cyptids live among us.

However, the hooves in the picture certainly do not seem to match the normal little paws of a wallaby. Maybe it was a Jackalope, but with hooves instead of horns. If so, then I would like to declare this a new sort of cyptid: Evan’s Hare.

Evan’s Hare is like a Jackalope, but instead of expressing its antelope characteristics via horns, it does so via hooves.

So, given the conclusive evidence that this animal was some sort of cyptid, possibly a Elmendorf Beast, possibly a Phantom Wallaby, possibly an Evan’s Hare subsection of the Jackalope species, I submit this discovery to the io9 Cryptid Summer contest.

If I win, then I will donate the money to the cause of hunting and capturing this Evan’s Hare. Or pay down student loans, whatever.

Embracing the Coming David Brooks Internet Meme

While I have not had time to analyze and critique David Brooks’ commencement speech at Rice University, I have had time to read The Atlantic’s twitter feed, which delivered this wonderful new Internet meme to my metaphorical doorstep.

Given the plethora of Facebook pictures from Rice University’s graduation, I expected to see some featuring Brooks. But so far, nada. Friedman says I should wait six more months, but why wait when I can merely add Brooks in.

Brooks at Graduation

Come on, David Brooks. Get off the phone! There is honor being conferred.

David photobombing Davers? Oh you!

This photo will be placed on a 1.44″ floppy disk, which will then be rubbed with magnets from 4rd grade science class. The file from the disk will then be uploaded as a YouTube video, then recorded, then uploaded onto YouTube again. A screen grab from the video will be displayed on a 10 foot screen via digital projector. The screen is covered with a three-inch grid, and viewers are encouraged to trace a square of the grid with crayon. Once completed, each section of the grid will be sold as designer toilet paper.

But of course, part of Brooks’ style is to visit various locales of American culture and then write about them with the greatest expertise. And what better place to fetishize the trials and tribulations of the social lives for yuppies-to-be than a college party like NOD.

Brooks' new book will be about NaCos, or Naked Co-Eds

Friedman was giving out mustache rides at NOD for 50 cents, but some guy from the South Asian Society was doing it for 25 cents and put him out of a job.

Thus is my partaking in what will hopefully become a grand internet meme. Perhaps I should have written on the pictures in Impact? Let’s try that:

He earns that place in the New York Times.

This was my first official assignment for The Atlantic.

So I guess David Brooks is speaking tomorrow

So tomorrow is Rice University commencement, and David Brooks will be speaking. I’ve already commented on Brooks’ past commencement speeches, and how they would be rather inappropriate for Rice. Given his history, I’m curious just how much he is going to change for a unique campus like Rice.

Will he tell a bunch of really bad jokes and say that grades don’t matter?

Will he say that colleges aren’t strict enough, and that is why rape happens?

Will he talk about the KTRU sale?

Will he say that Lindsay Graham is really brave?

I’d love to mock him again, but someone has already done a way better job than I could in this rush of a morning, preparing to hop an Amtrak to Philadelphia to see my sister’s graduation at Bryn Mawr. (Perhaps as a senior gift, her class could give the school some much needed vowels.)

The Final Edition’s David Brooks column is a thorough takedown of Brooks’ habit of ignoring the facts in front of his face to create some overarching theme. Usually it all takes the form of Republican apologetics. Here is a clip, but you should read the whole thing.

I’ve interviewed dozens of political leaders.  Most of them feel some obligation, whether out of sincere belief or simple professionalism, to pay lip service to objective reality.  It’s what sociologists call the “bias toward consensus.”  I’ll validate your world if you validate mine.  And, for most people, it serves a real purpose.  It makes meaningful discourse possible, and provides a basis for mutually-comprehended cultural norms and relationships.

Bachmann sees things differently.  She is perhaps the most visible of the societal type known as the New Solipsists, or Newso’s.  You can tell Newso’s by their various characteristic behaviors and patterns of consumption.

If Newso’s feel like going to Circuit City to buy DuMont televisions and watch the latest broadcasts of Lost and The Shield, they do. They fly business class on Pan American to New York City, where they stay at the Biltmore and eat at La Caravelle.  Every two years they trade in their car for another top-of-the-line Oldsmobile.

“I’m concerned because Obama is the first Communist Martian we’ve ever had a heartbeat away from the White Office,” she says, unprompted.  “If you look at the Founding Fathers, none of them were Martians, except maybe Benjamin Franklin.  But he wasn’t married, so he couldn’t be a father.  Centipedes from South America will destroy us all until Jesus Christ returns.”

Reading this, I knew what Brian Wilson must have felt when he first heard Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is even better than Shakespeare’s Sister’s outline of how to write a David Brooks column.

5. Make the very same fucking point your “liberal friends” were making. (“This doesn’t mean that the Tea Party influence will be positive for Republicans over the long haul. The movement carries viruses that may infect the G.O.P. in the years ahead.”)

6. Claim it’s an entirely different point by virtue of irrelevant caveat. (“But that damage is all in the future.”)

But I will keep going with my Smile, nonetheless.

Anyways, I won’t get to be at the David Brooks’ fest, or Maureen Dowd’s follow-up speech in Valhalla. Instead, I will get to hear the Bryn Mawr commencement speaker, Judith Jamison. I have never heard of her, though Wikipedia says she is some sort of dancer. That’s neat, though I doubt she’ll be able to tap dance around the issues like Brooks does.

Not much time to be snarky, but just one short rant about his column today:

Brooks talks about the debt ceiling, and how Republicans don’t want to raise it despite the massive threat it would do to our economy, and the fact that the Republican leadership knows that they have to. So basically the GOP wants to hold our economy hostage for spending cuts. But hey, maybe if we didn’t have all that spending in Iraq and on the unnecessary upper crust tax cuts, we wouldn’t have to raise the debt ceiling in the first place. Too bad Brooks doesn’t talk about why the deficit is so high in the first place.

Whoops!

Haha, its OK. We’ll just be at war forever. Truly, this has been the Greatest Depression.

New York Times is offering online classes for college credit

I always knew Krugman was a professor, but this is getting ridiculous. According to the AP guys, The New York Times is going to be offering online classes for college credit.

The New York Times Knowledge Network and New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University are teaming up to offer online courses in subjects ranging from homeland security studies to global health care.

Of course, there are many jokes to be made here about what classes the NYTimes will offer.

Krugman 101: Always Being Right

Brooks 302: If you cite enough studies in one article, you won’t have to cite any in your next one

Wedding Announcements 201: Why didnt you go to Penn?

Style 203: Youth Trends… uh… shit, make up something

And Kyle B’s contribution: NYT 101: PAYWALL

I can never get into that class, so I just get notes from HuffPost.

Anyways, I brought up the topic on Facebook, and Lily made an (un?)intentional reference to a Backpage I once did.

Well, in response to Ames calling me out (pdf: Evan classes Backpage):

These jokes are funnier if you went to Rice.

Star Wars Day: May the 4th (be with you)

Apparently, today is Star Wars Day. This day comes from a pun on the pronunciation of the day. May 4th = May the fourth = May the force (be with you).

So clever.

Personally, I prefer to celebrate May 25th as Star Wars day, as declared by Los Angeles City Council, because Star Wars: A New Hope was first released on May 25, 1977. May 25 is also my birthday, so there you go.

Anyways, to help celebrate Star Wars Day, here is one of my earliest Backpages, one of many to use a Star Wars theme to discuss administrative policies. It was some of my earliest photoshopping work, and I was especially proud of the lacrosse lightsaber. I also think it was one of the first Backpages to get the attention of administrators. There were stories of RUPD officers having a bit of fun with stormtrooper helmets and lightsabers. And Ostdiek apparently had a good chuckle as well. Anyways, hopefully this will be a humorous little a tidbit for the day.

(pdf: star wars backpage)

The First Day Without KTRU

Who did this?

“We fought Leebron, and Leebron won.”

These were the words sung over The Clash’s cover in the waning hours of KTRU’s broadcast existence. Perhaps given the sudden interest in listening to KTRU last night, a more appropriate song would have been “Big Yellow Taxi.” Or, better known by its lyrics: “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

Of course, one can wonder just how much fighting KTRU supporters did. The opposition seemed to come in spurts, and largely failed to use the Thresher as a constant megaphone for the movement. KTRU never had a sit-in at the president’s office to force Leebron to personally address student concerns, as occurred at other schools that were eliminating their college radio stations. There was no major fundraising to try to buy the license.

On the other hand, KTRU did get well respected law firm Paul Hastings to file an actual Petition to Deny.

If anything, the opposition to the KTRU sale demonstrated that Rice isn’t prone to usual college protests. Rather, it is a place of goal-oriented pragmatism. Whether this helped or hurt the end goal is arguable. After all, if the current political atmosphere demonstrates anything, it is that demonizing and lies can often get one much further than actual arguments.

But either way, it is finished.

After a night of Twitter domination, 40 years of KTRU memories, and the most eclectic playlist anywhere, Station Manager Joey Yang signed off with a replay of Jesse Jackson’s speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention (I think they mean the 1988 convention), and an appropriate “Fuck School,” by The Replacements.  Luckily, Houston Press’ Rocks Off posted these final recordings.

Joey\’s KTRU signoff

Final KTRU transmission

Rice got $10 million for its troubles. What did we get? One final moment of glory at 91.7, KTRU-FM Rice Radio.

Flashback Friday: Rice Athletics Finally Takes My Advice

Over the past week, four Rice University football players have been arrested for various crimes ranging from theft, to felony possession of a firearm, to possession of marijuana.

Finally!

I’ve been saying for years that what Rice really needs to bring its athletics program up to national par is some grand controversy or scandal. As I wrote back in 2007, “Drugs, violence, sex: there are the signs of true champions. After all, a win is temporary, but a criminal record is forever… ish.” (pdf: Mintz Rice Athletics)

Sure, having a shotgun on campus isn’t raping a stripper, and you can probably find hundreds of students at Rice with a few ounces of pot in their rooms. But at least these football players are on the right path.

Then again, as the Houston Press points out, these crimes may soon be no crime at all:

In Rice’s defense, it should be noted that the crimes the players were arrested for may soon be obsolete, come the success of two political movements: a) the decriminalization of pot, and b) Allowing guns on campus.

These young men should be lauded as personally sacrificing to expose a government gone amuck. Shouldn’t the Second Amendment protect having a shotgun on a college campus? (Spoiler alert: No)

But the funniest part of the whole story is definitely the comments on the Houston Chronicle article. Notably, the comments implying that the football players were all thugs (black)!

Yup, these guys certainly were “thugs” from “the neighborhood.” For example, Cody Bauer, who was arrested for having a shotgun on campus, grew up in the tiny Pottsboro, TX, where he had perfect scores for five consecutive years on the standardized TAKS tests.

Or how about Cade Shaw, who attended Calallen High School, known for its strong Advanced Placement program and being the Alma Mater of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay. I mean, I won’t hesitate to call Tom Delay a thug, but I don’t think undermining Texas fundraising laws is what the Chron commenters had in mind.

And Phillip Gaines, who was arrested on a misdemeanor possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, is from Converse, TX, a San Antonio suburb that is 70 percent white. There he attended Judson High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society. Everyone knows that all the thugs join the National Honor Society.

Finally is Kevin Gaddis, who was charged with theft of property valued between $50 and $500 and possession of two ounces or less of marijuana. He is from Midwest City, Oklahoma. I’m pretty sure that by definition any place called Midwest City, Oklahoma cannot qualify as “the neighborhood.”

These four guys may have screwed up on campus. But a cursory search reveals anything but stereotypical “thugs.” These guys had academic qualifications and attended schools known not just for their football programs but educational credentials as well. These creme de la creme of the Chronicle commenters may tend to the Obama-blaming, race-baiting that makes Chron.com so great, but I still feel the need to assert that Rice is anything but a “bigger school” and has certainly not “lost sight of [its] principles.”

Admittedly, I have never been the biggest fan of the Rice athletics program, viewing it as an underutilized resource that is a financial drain on the university. (pdf: mckinsey report) But there is certainly a degree of pride that a school as small as Rice can make showings in Bowl Games or the College Baseball World Series.

Given a cursory look at the situation, these guys were not thugs. I don’t know them personally, so they may be jerks, asshats, clowns, or any other sort of Rice-centric insult. But that just means they are like every other idiot at Rice who does something stupid. These guys are obviously from “the neighborhood,” that neighborhood just happens to be West University.