Archive for May, 2010

It’s been 50 years since the female oral contraceptive pill hit the market, the anniversary of which occurred Sunday, May 9, Mother’s Day. Today, there’s little argument about the widespread social and cultural effects of the “pill.”

The pill allowed women of childbearing age at least some control over their reproductive life, and it provided women the opportunity to seek fulfilling careers by delaying childbirth to a time of their own choosing.  But with widespread use came widespread debate.  Proponents of the pill felt empowered and to them, the tablet equaled freedom.  Opponents preaching chastity, especially those with religious affiliations, feared an increase in promiscuity and broken relationships.  Despite the arguments, it was obvious that the pill split sexuality and reproduction forever.

This past week, UNC researchers released early data showing the promising effects of using ultrasound as a male contraceptive.  The initial study, performed on rats, is a promising first look at how ultrasound waves can successfully and reversibly remove sperm from human male testes.

James Tsuruta, PhD, assistant professor at UNC’s Laboratories for Reproductive Biology and Paul Dayton, PhD, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, led the study.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $100,000 to the research study.

Of course, most people know ultrasound machines are used for fetal imaging.  It’s a complex process, but the general concept is simple.  Ultrasound waves are produced essentially like SONAR on a submarine.  Imagine yourself in a deep canyon.  You call out, “Hello, there!”  Your sound bounces off the canyon walls and returns, “Hello, there!” as an echo.  Ultrasound works the same way.

If the research is finally approved by the FDA, doctors would use an ultrasound probe, or “wand”, moving the probe over the body part, in this case, a man’s testicles, to create an effect entirely different than medical imaging.  The procedure would most likely be painless to the patient; however, because sound waves move poorly through air, a special lubricant (even K-Y jelly) may need to be applied to the body part to allow speedy and effective travel of the waves.  At this early stage, I have no idea if this will be necessary because it sounds like the procedure is therapeutic in nature.

Inside the scrotum, testes house numerous tubes called seminiferous tubules.  These in turn, contain immature germ cells responsible for producing sperm.  By utilizing ultrasound waves, scientists were able to remove the immature germ cells, thereby eliminating the sperm.  Most interestingly, they were able to render the male infertile for up to six months! After such a time span, the tubules will receive new germ cells producing large amounts of sperm.  And, unlike the oral contraceptive, the ultrasound contraception is non-hormonal and as of right now, harmless.

In fact, most research shows ultrasound waves are inherently harmless as a tool for physiological imaging.  At the hospital that I work in, it’s generally accepted that ultrasound scans won’t harm patients.  But given the widespread opportunities that this study could create and the relatively unknown territory that scientists now find themselves in, further testing is warranted.

But this new research begs the question: Could we be seeing the beginning of a male sexual revolution?

Representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made it clear that they hope the use of ultrasound as male contraception can be used in the first and, more perhaps more importantly, the developing world.

The implications for the use of this discovery are widespread and could be tantamount to the empowerment of the pill to developing countries looking to keep the dangerous economic effects of overpopulation in check.  The use of contraceptives remains uncommon in many developing countries and men in particular would need to be well educated about the benefits of the technology for it to catch on.

To recap, it appears that an ultrasound contraceptive could provide men in first and developing countries with an easy (receiving an ultrasound requires little preparation and would be like a routine checkup), effective “out” over a period of six months that is, at this point, harmless.  These routine ultrasound scans, if obtained at the office of a general practitioner, could also provide men a good excuse to receive full-body checkups, increasing the chance of detecting early signs of disease, including prostate cancer. Ultrasound machines are also relatively inexpensive, especially if they are refurbished.  This should be useful in providing the therapy to developing countries, often the recipients of second-hand imaging and medical equipment.  And the list goes on.

But what are the negative social and cultural effects that could follow the use of this discovery?  Could they be similar to the ones that followed the approval of the pill?  Would men around the world become more promiscuous, and are men in need of a sexual revolution in the first place?

And despite the ease of receiving these sterility treatments, could men be relied upon to obtain the treatments on time? Questioning a few of my female co-workers, the consensus is that they wouldn’t stop taking the pill out of mistrust of their male partners to remember to get the treatment.

So, what do you think?

– Jonathan Michels

360 Days

Project 365 is a year-long blog series about being a senior at Carolina, going through the senior bucket list, job search, applying to graduate school and just life in general, told in countdown form.

Ahh… summer at Chapel Hill.  As the corny DTH ads said, there’s nothing finer than summer at Carolina. Summer Session I started yesterday, May 11, and I’m sorry for those who are in class, though I did enjoy my stint at summer school a few years ago. I’m keeping busy with my own work with the General Alumni Association and Student Stores, so fair’s fair.

Have you ever used the Media Resource Center for more than checking out movies?  It’s an incredible resource on campus and as a displaced Communications Major (I’m not taking classes, so I’m locked out of Swain’s Production Lab), I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time in this place.  The Media Lab gives students access to Macs with Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, MPEG Streamclip, some Adobe CS3, and an audio lab where you can record the next hit single…or at least try. My only real complaint is that they do not have a recent After Effects version; 6.0 is ancient in comparison to CS3 or CS4, but you take what you can get, I suppose.

I had always known about this place; since I had access to Swain, I never thought I’d need it, but it is a great spot to work on all of your media needs. And it’s fairly convenient.  It has the same hours as the rest of the MRC, which means that you’re not going to be able to pull all-nighters getting that incredible presentation finished, but it’s still better than nothing.

So perhaps in your final semesters at Carolina, you can check out the Media Lab in the Media Resource Center, located in the basement of the Undergraduate Library.

360 Days, Class of 2011.

– Samantha Ryan

Short and Sweet

So I’m sure some of you are wondering—what’s the most essential item to have for the summer?  Well, after much investigation, I have come to a conclusion.  The one piece you must have for the sweltering days of June and July is a pair of jean shorts.

Why shorts, you ask?  Because jean shorts (which I refuse to call “jorts”) are effortlessly chic.  This season, shorts are meant to be thrown on and paired with a nautical t-shirt or other kind of cotton tee, a light cardigan or blazer, and whatever kind of accessory you can think of.

Check out this fashion video from H&M.  Jean Paul Cauvin explains why shorts are the trend of the season!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m loving that the waistline is rising—no more low-rise tackiness!

I want to focus specifically on jean shorts because I really think that everyone should invest in a pair this season.

Here are a few suggestions (inspired by my roommate):

Introducing the Roll Up Short in Vintage Honolulu by 7 For All Mankind…a.k.a. “the everything shorts.” Although they might be a little pricy, these shorts will last you a lifetime and they will age wonderfully too (given that they’re already a little distressed).  They also go with everything.  I know what you’re thinking: there are a million pairs of knock off jean shorts that look just like this one.  But I’m telling you, with jean shorts, quality over quantity is best.

Some other great options are the Hudson Jeans Distressed Short in Killbourn (left) or Citizens of Humanity Gibson Loose Fit Rolled Cuff Shorts (right).

Once you’ve picked out a pair, it’s time to start mixing and matching.  There are a MILLION combinations of things to wear with jean shorts.

How about a pair of classic Ked’s and a blue and white striped tee from Forever 21?  Nautical is so in right now.

Or what about an over-the-shoulder bag like this one from Anthropologie, another tee from Forever 21, a hat from Urban Outfitters, and a pair of gladiator sandals like these from Dolce Vita—(Hint: Sax Fifth Avenue-Off Fifth Outlet has a GREAT selection of sandals like these for half the price. Check it out.)

And finally, try a loose-fitting floral blouse with your jean shorts like these from Zara (left) or Nordstrom—BP section…shhh…(right).

The moral of the story is that jean shorts are your friend.  They are no longer trashy, Daisy Duke-esque.  The L.A. casual beach style has hit the East coast.  Embrace it!

And of course, to leave you in a denim state of mind, here is the designer of the week:

D&G Spring Ready to Wear 2010

Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney and Chloé also dared to do denim this season (good alliteration, huh?). You can search all the runway shows at

-Eloise Hamilton

Project 365

One year from today, the class of 2011 will be graduating from Carolina. This is a terrifying realization because as much as I’m excited to join the real world, I don’t want to leave Chapel Hill.  Sure, being done with classes may sound great (especially after finals week), but I love this whole “being in college” thing.  I can still remember moving in, August 18th, 2007, bearing the 100-degree heat while trying to get my stuff to the ninth floor of Hinton James and to think that I’m now 75% done with my undergraduate career is absolutely terrifying.

This coming year is going to be one of excitement, stress and confusion for all seniors as we try to get through and find out what life has in store for us.  Careers?  Graduate Schools?  The dreaded unemployment? In this economy, nothing is for sure. I know I’m trying to prepare for anything – studying up for the LSAT and GRE because in case I don’t end up getting a job, I want some sort of backup plan.

But this is also a year that we should take advantage of all that Carolina has to offer us.  Do everything we’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s joining a new club,  taking that class that’s always looked so interesting but we’ve never had the time to take (for me, it’s Milton and Chaucer), discover a new favorite restaurant on Franklin Street or explore around the castle (YES!  We have a legitimate castle just off campus!  More details on that will follow, I promise).

I want to officially challenge the class of 2011 to, in the next 365 days, make the absolute most of our time at Carolina, because no matter what happens in our lives, when we look back on this time spent at UNC, we don’t want to have any regrets.

365 days, Class of 2011.  Let the countdown begin.

– Samantha Ryan

Dede Allen: A Cut Above

Three weeks ago, on April 17, the world lost a great artist. Dede Allen was the premier film editor.  Just one of her many films would be enough to cement her place in history.  Her film credits include: The Hustler (’61), Reds (’81), Bonnie & Clyde (’67), The Breakfast Club (’85) and Wonder Boys (’00).

Undoubtedly an inspiration to other female editors like Thelma Schoonmaker, Allen asserted her own influence and creative personality into her work like few editors before her.  She became known as one of the first “auteur” film editors, not an easy feat considering the strong personalities she worked with: Warren Beatty, Elia Kazan, Arthur Penn and Sydney Lumet, to name a few.

You’ll often hear people argue that a film’s editing should be delicate and balanced enough so the audience isn’t aware of the cuts.  While I understand this sentiment, and perhaps on some level even agree with them, such critics don’t understand or appreciate the artistry and craft of film editing.

It seems like each time Allen made a cut or spliced film, she chipped away at these stereotypes. But she understood the importance of story.  Nothing was more important than the story.

Dede Allen was 87 years old.

NPR broadcast a great tribute to Allen.  Follow this link to hear it at

– Jonathan Michels

Dr. Arlinda Locklear

On Wednesday, April 28, I had the opportunity to hear Arlinda Locklear speak at the Alumni Center at UNC-CH.  Locklear, a Lumbee Indian and the first Native American woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, addressed the issue of Lumbee recognition. I did not attend this lecture as a member of the press and thus will not quote Locklear in this entry or reference her presentation.  However, I would like to address the issue of Lumbee recognition as it is a pressing issue here in North Carolina.

The Lumbee Tribe is located in Robeson County, North Carolina.  Since 1885 the tribe has been recognized as an Indian tribe by the state of North Carolina.  However, the government of the United States has repeatedly denied federal recognition to the Lumbee.

Why is federal recognition so important?  There are a number of reasons, including

  • the establishment of a government-to-government relationship between a tribal government and the federal government
  • the extension of federal funds to the tribe, and
  • potentially the ability to take land into trust and create a reservation for that tribe (though Indian scholars out there will note that this is currently under fire, an issue for a later blog).

The Lumbee first requested federal help in 1888, in order to fund their separate school system, which had been established but not fully funded by North Carolina.  Over the decades, the tribe repeatedly requested that the federal government recognize the tribe, only to be rebuffed time and time again.

Finally, in 1956, the tribe thought it had gained recognition with the passage of the 1956 Lumbee Act, which can be read here.  However, language attached to the bill withheld the tribe access to federal services.

Since 1956 the tribe has fought in a variety of ways to achieve recognition.

One way is through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  To achieve federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a tribe must prove seven criteria, as stated in a BIA report:

1) The petitioner has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900,

2) A predominant portion of the petitioning group comprises a distinct community and has existed as a community from historical times until the present,

3) The petitioner has maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the present,

4) A copy of the group’s present governing document including its membership criteria. In the absence of a written document, the petitioner must provide a statement describing in full its membership criteria and current governing procedures,

5) The petitioner’s membership consists of individuals who descend from a historical Indian tribe or from historian Indian tribes which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity,

6) The membership of the petitioning group is composed principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged North American Indian tribe,

7) Neither the petitioner nor its members are the subject of congressional legislation that has expressly terminated or forbidden the Federal relationship.

In an opinion issued to the tribe, the Bureau stated that the tribe would not be recognized through this process.

However, a bill is now before Congress that may have the best chance in recent memory of success to bring the Lumbee’s full federal recognition. The bill can be read here.

As the bill moves forward the Lumbee continue to call upon other Native American tribes and citizens of North Carolina to support their cause.

– Chandos Culleen

One for One

The Toms Shoes phenomenon has officially hit Chapel Hill.  If you haven’t noticed the Toms takeover yet — look down.  UNC-Chapel Hill students are crazy about the comfy, canvas shoe company that bases its business off a “One for One” model.

For every pair of shoes bought, Toms donates a pair to a child in need. The Toms’ philosophy is geared toward providing children in developing countries with shoes who can’t afford them and would otherwise be subject to disease, cuts, bruises and denial from school (because shoes are required as part of the uniform).

The Toms company uses a wide variety of social networking outlets to promote its brand.  They encourage consumers to “tell the Toms story” by posting videos or pictures of themselves wearing Toms Shoes on their website.  They also dedicated a day (April 8th) for people to go barefoot in order to generate awareness of the millions of children around the world who cannot afford the simple commodity of shoes.

According to the website, ¼ million people participated in the event, including many UNC students.  Elizabeth Symons, a sophomore at UNC, left her flip flops at home that day and trekked through campus without shoes.

“When I first started walking to class, I thought people would think I looked weird, and I was kind of embarrassed.  But then I realized that I was doing it to raise awareness for the

Toms movement, and it felt rewarding to me because people are losing their lives because they don’t have shoes.  I was helping fight that.”

Symons and others experienced #hardwithoutshoes (a popular trending topic on Twitter around April 8th) first hand.

Many students are passionate about the brand because of its inspirational business concept.

Sarah Dehart (left) wears her favorite pair of Toms shoes: the Ghandi slip ons.  Ghandi’s quote, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” perfectly embodies the Toms motto.

Whether you’re a fashionista, tomboy, punk, or really anything in between—Toms has something for you.  Check out their website to learn more about the Toms movement or check out more styles.

Have a wonderful week and good luck on exams!

– Eloise Hamilton

An Evening with Peter Bogdanovich

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Peter Bogdanovich attended the screening of his film “Paper Moon” at the RiverRun International Film Festival in April to accept the Festival’s Master of Cinema Award.  He’s also teaching a class this fall at the N.C. School of the Arts.  Apart from his work behind the camera, he’s famous for his tireless work on behalf of film preservation.  You can see him in dozens of making-of documentaries on classic film DVDs like Budd Boetticher’s “Seven Men From Now” (’56) and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” (’58).

His film articles for Esquire magazine led to a series of interviews with the great directors of the Golden Era of Hollywood, including Orson Welles and Howard Hawks.  These culminated in the classic documentary, “Directed by John Ford” (’71), and it remains one of the most candid portraits of the great American director on record.

After the screening, Bogdanovich slowly shuffled onto the stage of the ACE Theatre.  He might not move as quickly as he used to, but there’s still fire in the man’s eyes.  And they burn for film. He was dressed in his identifiable uniform: jacket and scarf.  For half an hour or so, he let us into his world, seeing film through his eyes.  He is greatly respectful of the medium, but never takes the trappings of fame or craft too seriously.  He was completely down-to-earth.

Throughout the evening, we witnessed his frighteningly accurate impersonations of stars from Jimmy Stewart to Orson Welles.  And his personal stories capture his love for film.  He recounted the time he called Orson Welles to ask for his opinion on the title, “Paper Moon.”  “It’s great!” Welles told Bogdanovich.  “It’s so good, don’t make the movie, just release the title!”

Oh, and he doesn’t like it when people say, “I just watched an old movie.”  Does anyone say I just saw that old Shakespeare play? he asked.  Does anyone sit down and listen to that old Mozart opera?  So why should it be any different for film?

The former dean of the N.C. School of the Arts presented the director with the award.  It wasn’t much bigger than a paperweight and looked like a crystal ball.  Bogdanovich, a smirk on his face, curled his fingers around it to predict the future.   “I see great things,” he joked.

If his future is anything like his past, it should be a bright one.

– Jonathan Michels

Taken by Amanda Porter-Cox

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. –While this year’s RiverRun International Film Festival at the N.C. School of the Arts offered film buffs dozens of new narrative, documentary and short features, it’s ironic that I would choose to see a film made in 1973.  On Friday, April 23, I rode the bus up a steep hill to the School’s ACE Theatre.  I didn’t know what to expect to find in “Paper Moon,” but as I stared up at the gorgeous black and white print, on loan from Paramount, I fell into a state of film euphoria.  “This,” I thought, “is why we go to the movies.”

By 1972, Peter Bogdanovich had scored back-to-back hits with “The Last Picture Show” (’71) and “What’s Up, Doc?” (’72).  So, at the height of his power, what does he do?  Bogdanovich gambled on directing a Depression Era story in black and white, the complete antithesis of the typical ‘70s picture.

Although Bogdanovich cast one of the most popular stars of the ‘70s, Ryan O’Neal, it didn’t mesh with the other stand-out films of that year like “American Graffiti,” “Deliverance” and “Soylent Green.”  Admittedly classic films, they were heavy-handed, unabashed products of their time that echoed the political and cultural divisions of the early ‘70s.

“Paper Moon” tells the story of nine-year-old Addie (Tatum O’Neal) and Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal), a friend of her recently deceased mother who may or may not be Addie’s father.  The film opens on an extreme close-up of Addie’s scowling face. It’s an opening more reminiscent of Sergio Leone than “The Grapes of Wrath” (’40), but right away, we know we’re watching something we’ve never seen before.

In the first five minutes, we know everything we need to know about our two characters.  Moses is a huckster.  He plucks the flowers from a nearby gravesite to place on his dead lover’s casket.  Later, we discover he prowls the obituaries to sell Bibles, deluxe Bibles, to the family members of the recently deceased.  He tells them the dead ordered it expressly for them.  Addie demands honesty… and her $200, which Moses swiped from under her nose.

Even among the period clothing, hairstyles, vintage cars and Jack Benny radio programs, there’s a definite modernist spin to the film.  Addie puffs away on her cigarettes like she’s eating candy.  She grew up fatherless, and seems to compensate for the loss by sacrificing her femininity.  It’s reawakened when she meets Moses (spelled ‘Moze’ by Addie), and perhaps the sweetest moment of the picture comes as she stands in front of the mirror dousing perfume on herself, shaking her hips.

The film’s appeal is also indebted to the extraordinary work of cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs (a Bogdanovich regular), screenwriter Alvin Sargent, and the supporting cast, including Madeline Kahn, P. J. Johnson and John Hillerman.

See it.

– Jonathan Michels