What’s love got to do with it? Emma Bernstein on the gurus who would guide you to the perfect pickupYou might expect that the art of seduction had changed since 1 BC, but you would be mistaken. Thanks to Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, published that year, the Roman was well schooled in all manner of sly tips and tricks, which bear more than a passing resemblance to those proposed by today’s praeceptores amoris. But there’s a difference. Whereas the scandalous advice of the Ars Amatoria caused a sensation (rivalled only by a certain birth the following year) and resulted in Ovid’s extradition to the Black Sea, nowadays, the authors of dating manuals can enjoy the reverence and gratitude of their lonely-hearted readership. Undoubtedly the most notorious of the numerous guides to seduction is Neil Strauss’ 450-page tome, The Game: Undercover in the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, which has achieved cult status among its lovelorn disciples. This is no simple, step-by-step instruction manual for the wannabe lothario. Rather, the book chronicles Strauss’ initiation into the “seduction community” and his transformation from a “formless lump of nerd” into his alter-ego, Style, the “master pickup artist”. Here, seduction is a field dominated by professional predators, relying upon mind control, hypnosis and persuasion techniques. Lest there be any doubt as to the credentials of The Game, Strauss’ own proficiency is confirmed when an incautious Britney Spears gives him her number. One seduction method beloved of the pickup artist is ‘negging’, which is “to actively demonstrate a lack of interest in a beautiful woman by making an ambiguous statement, insulting her in a way that appears accidental, or offering constructive criticism”. Whilst it beggars belief that classic ‘negs’ such as “you look great – are you wearing make-up?” would melt hearts, ‘negging’ apparently has the dual effect of empowering the pickup artist and making the woman vulnerable. Other methods of seduction rely upon neuro-linguistic programming, “a form of waking hypnosis”, which uses repeated mesmerising hand movements and “flirtatious hypnospeak”. Yet its amoral techniques and nouveau jargon have only served to increase the allure of The Game, whether as a glimpse into a fascinatingly sordid enterprise or as a guide to follow with religious fervour. However, in terms of sheer notoriety, a serious contender to The Game comes in the unlikely form of The Rules – Time-tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr Right, its exact opposite in every way. Where The Game uses advanced mind-control and invented terminology, The Rules espouses the traditional approach, and is bloated on its own self-hype. The two authoresses assure readers that they too can “make Mr Right obsessed with having you as his by making yourself seem unattainable”, by simply following their 35 rules. Their credentials are all in the book’s dedication: “to our wonderful husbands”. Quasi-scientific justification is offered for women playing hard to get; “men are born to respond to a challenge” and that “biologically he’s the aggressor”.Can a “good marriage” really be based upon such superficial rules? Women are advised that “if you have a bad nose, get a nose job”, are told to limit phone calls to ten minutes and to end the date first. The publications of The Rules had feminists up in arms, but the authors argue that their empowering methods enable every women to get what she wants, namely “a marriage truly made in heaven”. It remains to be considered whether the approaches of these two very different books get results.
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The master lease the commission and the university agreed to is still pending approval from several state agencies. Under the lease agreement, USC would manage the facility, although the Coliseum Commission would remain the landlord.Additionally, the Los Angeles Times and the first amendment group Californians Aware filed a lawsuit in July calling for a new vote on the deal. The suit claims that the Coliseum Commission did not comply with state laws requiring it to hold open meetings and release certain public records.The time frame for approving the lease remains unclear. Kristina Raspe, vice president for real estate development and asset management at USC, gave the conservative estimate that an agreement should be ironed out in about six weeks.Melissa Figueroa, deputy secretary of communications for the State and Consumer Services Agency, one of the bodies reviewing the lease, said that there is no timeline for a decision and that negotiations are ongoing.The state must approve a handful of contingencies, including the lease of six parking lots. Raspe said they are also negotiating a 57-year extension of the lease option and a non-disturbance agreement, which would allow the contract to remain in effect if the commission dissolves.Figueroa said the agency is evaluating the lease by determining if it is in the state’s best interest.“You have to make sure everything is legal and accounted for and, like I said, in the best interest of all parties, mainly the party that’s looking out for themselves, which is the state,” Figueroa said.According to Raspe, the other bodies that will review the lease are the Department of General Services and the Sixth District Agricultural Association, the formal name for the California Science Center.As officials in Sacramento pore over the 93-page master lease, the agreement between the commission and USC faces questions closer to home.On July 18, the Los Angeles Times and Californians Aware filed a lawsuit against the Coliseum Commission. USC was not named in the lawsuit.The suit claims that the commission violated California’s Ralph M. Brown Act by negotiating the lease in closed sessions and the Public Records Act by not releasing certain public documents. The Brown Act provides the public with the right to attend local governmental meetings.“In the face of a strong public interest and in the wake of the recent scandals, the Coliseum Commission restricted public access to information about the deal, conducting nearly all of its discussions about the lease behind closed doors, in violation of the Brown Act,” Nancy Sullivan, the Times’ vice president of communications, said in an email. “In addition, the Commission delayed its responses to the Times’ public records requests, often for months at a time, and refused to release other records in violation of the California Public Records Act.”Sullivan also said that the Times attempted to remedy the alleged violations before pursuing litigation, but the commission was unwilling to do so.Don Knabe, Los Angeles County supervisor and Coliseum Commission president, said he believes the negotiation process for the master lease did not violate the law.“We have three different attorneys looking at us all the time, so we feel very comfortable that the lawsuit has no merit,” Knabe said.Los Angeles Councilmember Bernard Parks, the only commissioner to vote against approving the master lease, said more could have been done to involve the public in the negotiations with USC.“The general perception of those on the commission was that it was sufficient public access to rely on the L.A. Times story and the information that was placed on their website,” Parks said. “Admittedly, no one ever looks on their website. And admittedly, most community people couldn’t find the Coliseum Commission office with a map.”Knabe, however, said the commission included the public during negotiations.“Clearly there was a public record, public testimony and public options,” Knabe said.Thomas J. Faughnan, legal counsel for the commission, responded to the lawsuit’s claims in a letter dated July 3. He wrote that the public had an opportunity to comment on the lease at every commission meeting since October 2011.“Assertions by the L.A. Times not withstanding, the Commission has always intended this process of considering to amend and restate the USC lease to be transparent and public,” Faughnan wrote. “The Commission’s actions demonstrate this intention.”According to Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, the lawsuit calls for a new public vote on the lease.“The idea is to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, let the community know what the discussion was that led up to the first vote, give the community the opportunity to react and comment and then take another vote,” Francke said. “It may well be the exact same outcome. But at least it will be a decision based on disclosed deliberation.”A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Superior Court said a trial setting conference to set a hearing date for the lawsuit is scheduled for Oct. 25.Raspe said the lawsuit has not affected the university’s negotiations with the state. To the cheers of students, alumni and administrators, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission voted 8-1 on May 14 to approve a new lease that gives USC control of day-to-day operations for the 89-year-old facility. The agreement, however, still faces several challenges.Obstacles · A master lease agreement, giving USC operational control of the Coliseum, is pending state approval and is the subject of a lawsuit. – Razan Al Marzouqi | Daily Trojan
After a large decrease in dining hall supplies because of theft, USC Hospitality is working to address students who take utensils, serving dishes and food from the dining halls.Earlier this month, USC Hospitality posted signs informing students that they could face $100 fines for taking serving supplies or food from the residential dining halls, with the exception of fruit or ice cream. Though students have been reported this year, as of now, none have received a monetary punishment, according to Director of USC Hospitality Kris Klinger.Though the policy has been in place for several years, the decision to reiterate it comes on the heels of a sharp decrease in serving supplies, according to Klinger.“We ordered enough to get through the entire day,” Klinger said. “Right now we can’t get through an entire meal service.”Many students said they understand the concerns about removing serving supplies, but believe that they should be able to take food with them.“I don’t mind not taking silverware and obviously that costs them money to replace,” said Gilles De Prevoisin, a freshman majoring in chemistry. “But the food is going to be there regardless.”Klinger said, however, that the concern is largely because of students who take large amounts of food from the dining halls.“Some students are bringing their backpacks in and have been caught putting loaves of bread and half-gallons of soymilk in their backpacks under the assumption that it is a grocery store as well,” Klinger said. “So those are the kind of concerns that caused us to have to post the fines to remind everybody that that is not OK.”Many students said because their meal plans allow for unlimited swipes, students should be able to take food out of the hall. Several students said their class schedule does not allow them to sit down for a meal in the dining hall, causing them to take food to go.“I think they should let us take sandwiches,” said Giovana Rodrigues, a freshman majoring in business. “In between classes, I don’t have a lot of time so I have to wait until 3:30 [p.m.] without eating.”