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Ephs Who Have Gone Before

Who is this Eph?

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He is Myles Crosby Fox ’40.

Alas, Myles will not be in Williamstown for his 65th reuinion next year, for he has passed away. He leaves behind no wife, no children nor grandchildren. He never attended a Williams reunion.

Fox was, in many ways, an Eph of both his time and ours. He was a JA and captain of the soccer team. He served as treasurer in the Student Activities Council, forerunner to today’s College Council. He was a Gargoyle and secretary of his class.

Fox was killed in August of 1942, fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific. He was a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and served in a Marine Raider battalion.

Fox’s citation for the Navy Cross reads:

For extraordinary heroism while attached to a Marine Raider Battalion during the seizure of Tulagi, Solomon Islands, on the night of 7-8 August 1942. When a hostile counter-attack threatened to penetrate the battalion line between two companies, 1st Lt. Fox, although mortally wounded, personally directed the deployment of personnel to cover the gap. As a result of great personal valor and skilled tactics, the enemy suffered heavy losses and their attack repulsed. 1st Lt. Fox, by his devotion to duty, upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the defense of his country.

On Memorial Day, America honors soldiers like Fox who died in the service of their country. I think that it has been more than 30 years since an Eph has given his life as Fox did. With luck, military Ephs like Zack Pace, Bungee Cooke and Dan Ornelas (all ’98) will return safe and sound. It would be more than enough to celebrate their service on Veterans Day.

Those interested in descriptions of what combat was like for Marines in the South Pacific during World War II might start with Battle Cry by Leon Uris or Goodby, Darkness by William Manchester. The Warriors by J. Glenn Gray provides a fascinating introduction to men and warfare.

A Navy destroyer was named after Fox. As far as I know, he is the only Eph ever to be so honored. The men who manned that destroyer collected a surprising amount of information about Fox. It all seems both as long ago as Ephraim Williams service to the King and as recent as the notes from class secretaries in the Alumni Review that arrived a few days ago.

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Saunder’s ’54 ROTC Award

Many newspapers have regular features about what was in the paper 25 or 50 years ago. The Wellesley Townsman notes that 50 years ago this week:

Commendation ribbons were awarded to outstanding members of the Williams College Air Force ROTC Unit, including cadet 2/Lt. R.W. Sanders, of Wellesley Hills, a member of the staff of the Williams Guidon. Sanders was also a photographer for the Williams Record and the president of the Williams Photo Service. Sanders also managed the varsity hockey team and the Glee Club.

I believe that Dr. Wyman Sanders ’54 now lives in Los Angeles. Perhaps he will be back in Williamstown for his 50th Reunion in two weeks, swapping stories with his fellow alums and veterans.

Williams would be a more diverse place if it still had a ROTC unit, but, given the current constellation of forces in higher education, that is probably about as likely as a return to mandatory chapel.

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Golden ’98 Weds

Katherine Golden ’98 is getting married today. Congratulations all around! The Times’s wedding notice also mentions that Golden is receiving her MD and Ph.D. degrees next week, just 6 years after graduation from Williams — a shockigly impressive achievement. The wedding will be at the “country home” of the Golden’s parents. Since Golden pere is a retired partner in M&A from Goldman Sachs, we should probably read “country home” as “baronial manor” and not as “isolated shack.” Any Eph attendees should be sure to send us descriptions of the party.

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Obsession

Karen Lichtman ’02 has more thoughts in blogging, including a reference to this New York Times article.

I think the wso blog page discourages compulsive *posting*, but it may encourage compulsive *reading* with the “latest” page. That page makes it way too easy for me to keep up to date on ALL the blogs. Now if everyone would just post more, I could make it a real obsession…

At EphBlog, we are doing the best that we can . . .

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Commito ’01 Lacrosse Success

Sarah Commito’s ’01 St. Andrew’s Saints won the Delaware High School Girls Lacrosse championship on Friday. Defense was key to the Saint’s successful season.

“Defense has to be played as a team in girls lacrosse,” Commito said. “It’s about making your teammate look like a hero.”

Nice thoughts for a Memorial Day Weekend.

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North Adams

Brief article in today’s New York Times discusses the changes in North Adams over the last 15 years and the (alledged) connection with MASS MoCa

Once a sleepy, economically depressed mill town, with the state’s highest unemployment rate and lowest downtown occupancy rate, North Adams has changed. According to state government figures, unemployment has declined to less than 6 percent from more than 18 percent in the late 1980’s. A study conducted by the museum shows that the storefront occupancy rate, which was below 30 percent in the mid-1990’s, now stands at 75 percent. In the last five years eight restaurants have opened in North Adams.

The article, and museum director Joseph Thompson, are eager to devote as much credit for the changes in North Adams to MASS Moca. Of course, the impossible-to-answer question is what North Adams would look like today if MASS MoCa had never happened. Certainly, by the time the museum opened in 1999 North Adams had already made great strides from the pit of 1980’s despair.

There is an interesting tension here between the work of Victor Matheson — debunking the claim that public spending on sports facilities is worth the money — and the supporters of MASS MoCa who claim that public spending on art facilities is nothing but gravy for all concerned.

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Protest While You Can

random thoughts is considering a field trip in the fall.

I am trying to figure out the value of going to the RNC protest (organized or not) in NYC this summer. I used to be very pro-protests as a means of getting people off of their butts, getting them involved in some direct action, and letting them see that there’s a wider community out there.

Now I am just apathetic about the whole business. Protests take a ridiculous amount of time and energy that we could be putting to better uses like voter registration and education. Of course, there are always the huge, amazing, [superlative, superlative, superlative appended] protests like the antiwar on in NYC back in March 2003 or the women’s march in DC recently.

Protesting is one of those things, like falling in love or joining the Marine Corps, that is best done while young. So, go to NYC! Just be sure to blog all about it . . .

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Less Music

Brad Wells of the Music Department was quoted in an article about school spending cuts in Williamstown.

About 30 people attended the meeting, and several spoke in defense of the programs that faced cuts.

“For instrumental music, it’s a rare discipline that if it isn’t begun early isn’t begun at all,” said Brad Wells of the Williams College music department.

Alas, Wells’s arguments failed to carry the day.

The Elementary School Committee has voted to approve about $119,000 in cuts to the fiscal 2005 elementary school budget that were made necessary by the failed override vote earlier this month. Losses in personnel will affect the technology program, special education, and in particular, will reduce the music teacher position from full-time to part-time.

I am not sure when the high school budget process starts up, but I suspect that it will be even more contentious.

Th key question that I would have if I lived in Williamstown concerns the teacher’s union, its contract and recent trends in salaries and health care costs. I have been unable to find any information about these yet I would think that this would be public information.

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Infinitesimal

Derek Catsam ’93 has some thoughts (scroll down in the comments) that any younger Ephs thinking of pursuing a Ph.D, at least in the humanities, should consider.

[G]raduate students and those looking at entering this competitive world need to be cognizant of the realities. If you are planning to enter a field like, say, US history, it is probably incumbent upon you to know the odds. Further, it seems to me that it is pretty irresponsible of those of us with the ability to advise students if we emphasize the great aspects of intellectual life within the academy and do not point out the reality — your odds of getting the PhD are smaller than you think, your odds of getting a job are slighter still, and your odds of getting tenure at a place yet smaller, and then all of this happening at a place you would otherwise choose to live? Infinitesimal.

The analogy I can come up with now is with professional baseball. If you play minor league baseball, enjoy it, work your rear end off, climb the ranks as best you can. make other plans, though. The odds of you even getting the proverbial cup of coffee is small in such a competitive and limited milieu. And no one owes you a shot. You might get passed over for those you see as your equals or lessers (your impression may be right; it is as likely to be self serving – the manager, or department chair, or search committee, or scout, really may be out for the best fit for their team or department, or may see the other candidate as better qualified — all academics are not Snidely Whiplash, wringing their hands and tenting their fingers with another devious plot in hand. Your 82 mph heater may not match up to the guy you think is your equal; Your dissertation on the politics of butterchurning in 17th century New Hampshire river towns may not be as fabulous as your echo chamber — in whose interest it is to have that dissertation be a smash, remember — is telling you).

I wonder if current students are receiving good advice from the faculty about such topics.

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Free Verse

“random thoughts”, who seems to be an alum from a couple of years ago, has some free verse up at WSO.

I thought that if I wrote you
I could erase the wisps of regret from my mind,
That a simple apology, albeit from halfway across the globe
Would suffice to muddle our mutual wrongs.

Quick: “Invectives like a multiskilled ninja” makes you think of which EphBlog author?

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Venus Transit

Professor of Astronomy Jay Pasachoff received some nice press in a New York Times article on the upcoming transit of Venus across the face of the sun.

Scientists realized for centuries that if they could find out that number, they could use the formulas of the 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler to calculate the size of the solar system and the exact distances between the planets.

“This was the most important question of its day in astronomy,” said Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff, a professor of astronomy at Williams College. “And using the transits of Venus to calculate the astronomical unit was the best way to do it.”

Cook and others were frustrated in their observations by the inability to time the exact moment when the edges of the planet and the Sun appeared to touch. When Venus nears the edge of the disc of the Sun, its black circle appears to ooze toward the edge of the sun without showing a clear point of contact. Although the precise second of contact was needed for calculations, this so-called “black drop” phenomenon caused observers watching the same event to disagree by several seconds up to a minute on when the outer edges touched.

Cook and other observers speculated that the problem was the distortion of light through the Venusian atmosphere.

Earlier this year, using spacecraft observations, Dr. Pasachoff and other scientists concluded that the black drop effect was caused by a combination of images’ blurring in small-aperture telescopes and the natural dimming of sunlight near the Sun’s visible edge.

Interesting stuff. At this point, I would love to be able to claim that I took a great course in astronomy at Williams, ideally from Professor Pasachoff, that taught me and challenged me and stays with me to this day.

Alas, that isn’t the way it happened. Instead, I took an astronomy gut, one of those science courses for “non-majors” which, back in the day, meant a science course in which very little work got you a very nice grade. It was the biggest fraud of my Williams education.

Of course, there is a sense in which the fault was mine. I choose the course. At the time (spring of senior year), I was more interested chasing after my then-girlfriend-now-wife and working on my thesis (in that order). I was also excessively enamored with the idea of having class only on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

But Williams should not be in the position of offering its students these sorts of choices. An institution that takes its educational mission seriously does not offer guts, whether in astronomy or any other field. Williams would be a better place, and its students better educated, if such courses were to go the way of fraternities.

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Evil Blogging

Karen Lichtman ’02 has concerns about blogging.

All evidence points to blogs being evil. You post entries about people, the people read them, and the people get mad at you. Or you waste valuable cyberspace posting about your daily activities which could not possibly, possibly be interesting to anyone except you and dirty old stalkers. What’s the point?

If only we knew, Karen, if only we knew . . .

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Learn That Song

To the JA’s for the class of 2008:

At the 1989 Williams graduation ceremonies, then-President Francis Oakley had a problem. Light rain showers, which had been threatening all morning, started mid-way through the event. Thinking that he should speed things along, and realizing that virtually no one knew the words to The Mountains, President Oakley proposed that the traditional singing be skipped.

A cry arose from all Ephs present, myself included. Although few knew the words, all wanted to sing the damn song. Sensing rebellion, President Oakley relented and led the assembled graduates and guests through a somewhat soaked rendition of the song that has marked Williams events for more than 100 years.

Similar scenes play themselves out at Williams events around the country. At many of the Williams weddings that you will attend in the future, an attempt, albeit a weak one, will be made to sing The Mountains. At reunion events run by the college, The Mountains will be sung, generally with the help of handy cards supplied by the Alumni Office. It is obvious that most graduates wish that they knew the words. It is equally obvious than almost all do not.

What we have, as current-President Schapiro can explain better than I, is a collective action problem. Everyone (undergraduates and alumni alike) wishes that everyone knew the words — it would be wonderful to sing The Mountains at events ranging from basketball games in the gym to hikes up Pine Cobble to gatherings around the world. But there is no point in me learning the words since, even if I knew them, there would be no one else who did. Since no single individual has an incentive to learn the words, no one bothers to learn them. We are stuck at a sub-optimal equilibrium.

Fortunately, you have the power to fix this. You could learn The Mountains together, as a group, during your JA orientation this week. You could then teach all the First Years during First Days next fall. It will no doubt make for a nice entry bonding experience. All sorts of goofy ideas come to mind. How about a singing contest at the opening dinner, judged by President Schapiro, between the different dorms with first prize being a pizza dinner later in the fall?

Note that it will probably not be enough to learn the song that evening. Periodically over the last few years, attempts have been made to teach the words at dinner or at the class meeting in Chapin. Such efforts, worthy as they are, always fail. I suspect that untill a class of JAs decide as a group to learn the words (by heart) themselves during their training and then to teach it to all the First Years before the first evening’s events, The Mountains will remain a relic of a Williams that time has passed by.

But that is up to you. Note that once a tradition like this is started, it will in all likelihood go on forever. And you will be responsible for that. A hundred years from now the campus will look as different from today as today looks from 1903, but, if you seize this opportunity, Williams students and alumni will still be singing The Mountains.

Congratulations on being selected as a JA. It is a singular honor and responsibility.

Regards,

Dave Kane ’88

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Watson ’67 in Retail

Stephen Watson ’67 has been appointed to the board of directors and audit committee of Smart & Final. Looking at Watson’s resume, it is clear that he is one of the most successful Ephs in retail. You also have to either praise (or pity) a fellow that has retired twice already but still needs to work for a living.

Alas, judging from the financial statements of Smart & Final, it appears that Watson has his work cut out for him. Since the economics department declines to take accounting seriously, I realize that current students will have trouble seeing the warning flag here. Hint: cash flow < earnings means trouble.

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Don’t Win That Bid

Economics Professor Victor Matheson gets a mention in an article claiming that hosting the Olympic Games is a bad deal, at least financially, for the city that does so.

The Olympics means effectively closing the city down for other tourism, and even other economic activity for at least one month, says Victor Matheson, an economist at Williams College who has studied the Olympics phenomenon along with Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College. Matheson says it’s unlikely any host cities have profited. Claims of job creation, he says, are generally overblown — and certainly were in the case of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Most economists would probably agree with Matheson on this. Whether a similar sort of analysis would apply to other government funded projects — like MoCa — is a topic for another day.

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Salmon Farming

Malin Pinsky ’03 and Kristin Hunter-Thomson ’03 wrote an interesting article on salmon farms in Chile.

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Rebunk

Derek Catsam ’93 has moved on from Cliopatria and co-founded a new blog: Rebunk.

In the end we believe not only that history matters, but that historians who also pay attention to the larger world should be able to bring their skills (and in the case of this group, we’d like to think intelligence, wit, and writing ability) to a range of issues, scholarly and otherwise.

The titles comes from the claim that “History is a process of bunk, debunk, and then rebunk.”

Exercise for the reader: Use EphBunk in a sentence.

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Two New Authors at EphBlog

Careful readers will have noticed that we have two new authors at EphBlog: Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07 and Gerry Lindo ’04.

Ronit’s personal blog is at the top of our Eph Blogroll (scroll down through our several paragraphs of disclaimers to find it). He will be spending the summer at So Others Might East.

So Others Might Eat (SOME) exists to help the poor and destitute of Washington, D.C., particularly the homeless and elderly. Our ministry is primarily one of hospitality; we strive to serve anyone in need who comes our way. Our goal is never to pass judgment but to nourish, support, and when need be, to challenge.

Ronit has generously volunteered to take part in our Eph Diaries series. The response to this idea has been overwhelming. We are sifting through hundreds of applications to identify a few more promising Eph writers. Although there are still details to work out, the plan is to start these on the Monday, June 14, just after Reunion Weekend is over.

Gerry is a regular contributor to the Record. His opinion piece on “Perspectives from the Margin” is simply must reading for anyone wanting to participate, in good faith, in debates on campus controversies.

The nature of the privilege of the non-marginalized is that it shields one from things that, to the marginalized, are gravely offensive. Before the legal and social recognition of sexual harassment – and indeed afterwards – a man might crack ribald jokes at the workplace and never think that the women on the job might experience pain and exclusion. Being a man, he simply never had to deal with these feelings. So, when the woman speaks up, she might be met with puzzlement, or incredulity, or brushed off as an angry femi-nazi (why being angry about something makes you irrelevant is a question that is yet to be answered).

The power of privilege is such that in a quick rhetorical stroke – “Why are you so touchy, woman?” – everything one experiences can be wiped from the dialogue.

Readers may decide for themselves whether the commentary on EphBlog — especially my own contributions — has met the high standards that Gerry sets for all of us. We will certainly keep trying to do so.

In any event, welcome aboard! I urge them both to send in their “About” entries as soon as possible, lest our always inventive ace site adminstrator be forced to put his own literary talents, such as they are, to work.

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MoCa Diversity

Professor of Economics Steve Sheppard gets a brief mention in a somewhat cheerleading article on the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Membership to the museum has remained constant, as have the number of visitors and those attending various performances held there.

According to a study based on the home zip codes of visitors to Mass MoCA, conducted by Stephen Sheppard, an economics professor at Williams College, on an average day at Mass MoCA, the community of those who come together to view art in the galleries or see a show there is about as diverse as a typical American city.

“On any given day at Mass MoCA, the racial and economic diversity is dramatically more diverse than North Adams itself,” said Thompson [Director of MoCa]. “We don’t quite know what that means, but it’s fascinating.”

I can’t find a link Sheppard’s artiicle, but I am fairly certain that it would include more caveats than Thompson does in his description of it. After all, the diversity of the zip codes of visitors may tell us nothing about the diversity of the visitors from those zip codes. You might have the richest person from every zip code in the US come to MoCa. Or all visitors might come from a single zip code which happens to include a wide cross section of the US population.

MoCa, and indeed the revitalization of North Adams, has been one of the great feel-good Berkshire stories of the last 20 years. It would make for an interesting thesis in economics, or even in history or political science.

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Collingsworth to Wed

Stephen Collingsworth, assistant director of the multicultural center and coordinator for queer issues at Williams, will be getting maried on May 27th. Of course, most marriages do not get advanced coverage in both the Transcipt and the Eagle. The news here is that Collingsworth’s will be one of the first gay marriages in Berkshire county. (For those who don’t follow the news, gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts this week.)

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Although I have criticized Collingsworth (to the right in the pictue) in the past, I wish he and his partner nothing but good fortune as they start their married life together. Congratulations to all!

Here at EphBlog, the political is definately not personal.

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The Mountains

Each year around this time, I try to contact the incoming co-presidents — meaning for First Years in the class of 2008 — of the JA’s about my thoughts on teaching first years The Mountains. Does anyone know who they are? I still need to revise my letter on this topic in light of the experiences of the last couple of years. Also, am I correct in thinking that, just as it was 20 years ago, very few students know the words?

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Science Honors Theses

Thanks to Professor Heather Williams, chair of the Biology department, for responding to my query about honors work by the class of 2004. She writes:

Biology doesn’t do as much as some of these departments. In part, this is because we have, relatively, many more honors students than some of the other departments, and keeping everything up to date can be difficult. However, I think you’ll find that the annual “Report of Science”, which includes the abstracts of all honors theses, provides a reasonable amount of information; it is published each year, both in paper and online, and past issues can be found at:

http://www.williams.edu/resources/sciencecenter/center/sciwmspub.html

This is tucked away under “Science Center” on the college web page, and can be hard to find. I’m not sure I’d be able to find it unless I knew it was there…

Comments:

1) This is good stuff and special thanks to Professor Williams for taking the time to bring it to our attention. I am still waiting on replies from the three other department chairs that I contacted.

2) Still, I find it somewhat pathetic that, for all practical purposes, it is impossible for someone outside the College to discover what sort of honors work students are doing in biology this year. Again, I am pleased to see the latest news of Williams athletics. (Congratulations to Liz Gluck ’05 for being named an All-American in softball!) But doesn’t anyone else find it sad that, should Gluck decide to do honors work in biology — or any seemingly any other field except economics — next year, her efforts will be invisible to the outside world?

3) Here are the abstracts for biology theses in 2003. Alas, I am even less qualified to offer opinions on these then I am on work in economics.

Thanks again to Professor Williams for taking the time to point out this interesting resource.

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More on Tips

This is the last installment of comments from Director of Admissions Dick Nesbitt ’74 on the general topic of tips.

As for the comparison with music, here’s a reality check: We are able to admit roughly 120 top rated musicians each year from the top of the academic reader rating scale–what we refer to as academic 1′ and 2’s (broadly defined as 1500+ SAT’s and very top of the class). By contrast, how many decent football players do you think are among the academic 1’s and 2’s? A couple of years ago, I checked. There were exactly 9 applicants in that academic range who had played 2 years of varsity football and wanted to continue in college (we’re not even talking about rated athletes here, just those who had an interest). We admitted 7 of them, and 2 matriculated. Both played for one year, then quit.

Here’s another difference between music and sports: If the Berkshire Symphony is lacking players, they simply hire professionals. There have been years when up to 70% of the symphony have been hired guns. I happy to report that the majority of the BSO now is students and the percentage grows each year (as does the quality of the orchestra, ironically).

Kudos to Nesbitt for taking the time and trouble to explain things to EphBlog. As in most things, the more open and honest that the College is about controversial issues, the better it appears. The more that I have found out about the whole tip phenomenon, the less concerned that I have become.

Indeed, having read the College’s Report on the topic along with Dave Barnard’s thoughts, I can’t help but conclude that there is no evidence that there are any problems with “tips” per se. Certainly, there is no evidence of any ill-effects from female tips. Nor does there seem to be much evidence against the practice of male tips in most sports.

There may be a case to be made against tips — or at least “low band” tips — for certain male sports, but even that is an open question in my mind.

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Lucy in the Class of 2008?

Since there is no such thing as bad publicity, I am still curious about the fate of Lucy Montgomery’s application to be a member of the class of 2008. For those who don’t know Lucy, here is a picture.

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Longtime readers will recall that Lucy interviewed at Williams in March (must have been a last minute thing). Lucy, played by Peyton List, is a character on As The World Turns. Surely the sets of soap-opera-experts and Ephblog-readers overlaps enough that someone can provide us with an update.

How any of this might or might not be connected to a recent Record article or other threads here will be left to the discretion of Dick Nesbitt ’74 . . .

[Would you have put up a picture of Montgomery if the name had been Luke instead of Lucy? — ed. Yes! Having daughters gives one a whole new perspective on such questions.]

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Shearer Leaves WCMA

Linda Shearer will be leaving the Williams College Museaum of Art for a position as director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinatti.

After a 4 1/2-month search, the Contemporary Arts Center has a new director: Linda Shearer, 58, most recently director of the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass.

“She is everything we were looking for rolled up in one person,” said Joe Hale, chairman of the center’s board of trustees and a member of the selection committee. He said the former painting and sculpture curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York “has a very strong curatorial vision. She has a sense of humor and a sense of fun, and approaches her job with a sense of adventure.

“When I asked her what her staff at Williams would miss about her most, she said her laugh.”

Sad to see that Williams is losing another fine teacher, but this strikes me as one of those inevitable need-for-a-change sort of things.

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Economic Honors Theses

Lest it get lost in our sometimes frothy comment section, I wanted to highlight Steve Sheppard’s update on honors theses. Kudos to Steve, and the entire Economics department, for taking the time and trouble to organize a webpage devoted to the work of this year’s honors students in economics.

There is a lot of interesting stuff here. It is especially nice to see the use of pdf as the common format. One minor suggestion would be to post an abstract separately — so that I could get an idea about the thesis without having to download the whole thing. Of course, this would require that the students prepare abstracts, but that would be expected among academic work in economics. It is also a very useful exercise for the students to try to summarize their work in a few well-chosen sentences. Evan Gee’s abstract is quite nice and, even better, he uses LaTeX. [Stop! — ed Don’t you think that a little more geek and a little less politics would be good for ephblog?]

One fun thought experiment is to come up with snappier titles. Perhaps “Cost-Utility Analysis of Three Approaches to the Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome” by Peter Deutsch becomes “Help! My Husband Snores”.

The authors of ephblog will be doing a careful, line-by-line reading of each thesis over the coming days. Stand by for commentary.

Now, where is the equivalent page for the departments of Political Science, History, Biology, English . . .

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Kudos to Dick Quinn

Just wanted to pass along the following email I received from Tim Layden discussing an earlier EphBlog post, reprinted with Tim’s permission:

Jeff — An acquaintance passed along a blog posting in which you point out
Williams’s frequent mentions in Sports Illustrated and suggested that perhaps I
had some hand in this. If only I held such sway with those higher on the
masthead than I am. In truth, all of the credit goes to Williams’s relentless sports information director, Dick Quinn. When asked, I
readily validate that Williams is, indeed, the Stanford of D-III. But this
customarily takes place only after Dick has flogged the place with emails and
phone calls, as any good SID does.

Tim Layden ’78

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Real Fake

A New York Times article on baseball quoted former commissioner Fay Vincent and Professor Mark Taylor.

Mark Taylor, a professor at Williams College, is teaching a course this semester called “Real Fakes.” The thesis is the slipperiness of contemporary reality, and baseball is a theme.

Taylor said that on the Web site for the course, realfakes.org, “I have a quiz asking whether things are real, fake or real fakes.”

“I put Barry Bonds’s home run record on the quiz,” he said. “The natural has become artificial and baseball becomes another version of reality television. Everyone knows reality television is staged. We are seeing the acceptance of the real as fake and the fake as real.”

I am not sure what this says about my acceptance of Taylor as a real professor.

Alas, realfakes.org seems to be down right now, along with www.williams.edu itself. Perhaps the real/fake dichotomy is something that Taylor might consider closer to home. . .

;-)

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Paulsen Looks Elsewhere?

Sad to see that mens basketball coach Dave Paulsen ’87 was a candidate, even a finalist, for the same job at Dartmouth.

Of course, Paulsen and his wife need to decide what is best for him and his family, but I hope that Williams can make the position into the sort of job that will keep him there forever.

On the good news front:

Paulsen, two-time defending NCAA Division III Coach of the Year, later removed himself from the running.

Whether the Williams coach would have ultimately gotten the job, one may only speculate.

Perhaps Williams has already made some moves to convince the Paulsens, as it did with the Sheehys, that there are fewer better places than Williamstown, and better employers than Williams College, for finding that always elusive work/family balance.

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Pushing the Definition of “all things Eph”

On Thursday, in my excellent sociology class on “Technology and Modern Society,” we had a local farmer who works at Caretaker Farm, a local Community Supported Agriculture farm (definition of CSA farming here), come talk to us about the CSA movement. His basic point was that big agriculture is bad because small, family farms produce better tasting food that is environmentally safer and it is a good thing for members of a community to have a relationship with local farms and farmers. He also spent a good chunk of time criticizing WAL-MART which allegedly is evil because it puts “mom and pop” stores out of business.

Out of protest, yesterday when I needed to buy more Advil, I made a point of taking the extra 20 minutes to go to WAL-MART rather than Hart’s Pharmacy on Spring St. How do I love WAL-MART (and hate Hart’s)? Let me count the ways.

1) WAL-MART provides an amazing selection of products at very low prices. The effect of these low prices has been to allow the average American a standard of living that is substantially higher than it would be if we followed the CSA people’s advice and returned to “mom and pop” stores and farms. Hart’s pharmacy is ridiculously over-priced (I was going to stop by and compare prices, but had too much else to do… trust me on this one though). Those who choose to shop at Hart’s are either wealthy enough to have the luxury of paying a premium for Hart’s charm/convenience or else they are making sacrifices in other aspects of their quality of life. Either way, all the more power to them, but for the rest of us thank you WAL-MART.

2) Those who criticize WAL-MART for destroying sense of community are blaming the company for something that it’s not responsible for. The phenomenon of out of town shopping didn’t develop because of WAL-MART. WAL-MART is just very good at providing that service.

3) WAL-MART is great for its employees who would otherwise have trouble getting jobs (they tend to be overwhelmingly immigrants and older people.

4) WAL-MART’s approach to competition is to beat it by having longer hours, better service, and cheaper prices. Hart’s is to whine about it.

Also, Jay Pasachoff, professor of astronomy, notes that we should be skeptical of organic food. Anyway, go shop at WAL-MART and enjoy some GM foods.

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