Currently browsing the archives for August 2005

« Newer Posts

Pilates with Case ’80

Steve Case ’80 is a busy guy.

America Online Inc. founder Steve Case is investing $20 million in a producer and distributor of yoga and Pilates videos, part of his ongoing bet that activities once associated with a new-age lifestyle are going mainstream.

Case is going into business with Jirka Rysavy, chief executive of Gaiam Inc., who lives in a cabin outside Boulder, Colo., with no running water and an outhouse for a master bath. Rysavy said he and Case had “an alignment in mission.”

Hat tip to Infectious Greed. More Case commentary here and here.


Vincent ’60 Interview

Great interview with former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent ’60. Best part:

Q: President Bush was one of your main supporters when the owners forced you out. What do you recall from that time, and would he make a good baseball commissioner?

A: He was interested in being commissioner at one point.

I lived in his house one summer when I was a kid, working for his father in the oil business. I knew George President 43 when he was nine years old.

I wrote about his being very supportive of me in a book I published. He read the book and called me and said ‘it was a very nice chapter I did on him.’ He said, ‘but you weren’t even in the room. The things they called you, the names they used about you.’ He said ‘Fay, I could write the chapter better than you did because I was there.’ I said, ‘I have a feeling you’ll do a book someday Mr. President, and you can straighten it out.’

I think loyalty is a great asset. He was enormously loyal to me and I’m loyal to him. He was a very good owner, he cared a lot about the game. I told someone a great story about him and Palmeiro. One day I was in Texas with George Bush watching the game. We were seated in a box next to the dugout, Palmeiro was a big star for Texas in those days — they had (Ruben) Sierra, they had a bunch of Hispanic players, Juan Samuel, they could all hit. The game went into extra innings, it was about 120 degrees, it was just brutal. In the 12th, Palmeiro was coming up, and George said to him ‘Raffy, the commissioner is tired, he wants to go home. Let’s get this game over. Why don’t you hit one out and we’ll all go to bed.’ Raffy goes out and, don’t you know, he hits a home run. He comes around and comes by the dugout and the now-president says ‘Good job, we’re all out of here.’

Baseball fans should read the whole thing.


Drezner ’90 Interview

Here is a fun interview of the premier blogging Eph, Dan Drezner ’90. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

Who are your intellectual heroes? Adam Smith, Albert Hirschman, Thomas Schelling, Friedrich von Hayek, and Samuel Huntington.

Who are your cultural heroes? Joss Whedon, Whit Stillman, Frank Miller and Alan Moore.

I share Dan’s intellectual heroes (although Hirschman is overrated), but have never heard of any of his cultural heroes. Not that that’s a bad thing . . .


Break Time

This old entry on the activities of Williams trustee Toby Cosgrove ’62 gets a fair number of hits. Those hits lead, on occasion, to e-mails like the one that I have reprinted below. Take it for what it is worth. I am not sure if these sorts of comments belong on EphBlog.

Read more


Yim ’09 Blogs

Surely Kenny Yim ’09 is not the only first year with a blog? And what is SHSS anyway?


MacKinnon ’90 Hears Music

Although Guy already mentioned Don MacKinnon’s ’90 role as part of the ever-expaning Starbucks empire, I couldn’t resist mentioning some more quotes:

In the mid-1990s, Starbucks began selling CDs, such as a compilation of Blue Note Records’ jazz artists. By 1999, at the onset of Starbucks’ growth spurt, executives began telling Schultz about Hear Music, a chain of five U.S. music stores based in the San Francisco Bay area.

Hear Music was run by Don MacKinnon, a young music wonk who had spent hours in his Williams College dorm room mixing tapes of his favorite songs. When it started in 1990, the company published a catalog of CD compilations of the favorite songs of artists like Rickie Lee Jones and Bonnie Raitt. That didn’t catch on, so MacKinnon and his partners opened stores to sell compilation CDs in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.

In 1999, Schultz, curious, flew to San Francisco to visit the Hear Music store there. After walking into the store, he recalls, “My imagination was racing a mile a minute.” Later that year, Starbucks bought Hear Music for $8 million.

Starbucks named MacKinnon, now 37, vice president of its Hear Music unit. He and nine of his Hear Music colleagues moved to Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle, where they continued developing compilation CDs and negotiating projects like the Ray Charles “Genius Loves Company” release.

MacKinnon even gets to talk to Mick Jagger. And to think that I knew him as a humble squash player back in the day . . .


Farley ’85 Runs for Office

Steve Farley ’85 is running for city council in Tuscon.

“He can make things happen, and it’s not in the traditional political way,” says local attorney Clague Van Slyke III, who worked with Farley on the light-rail proposition. “He has great ideas; he has a lot of vision, and he can get things done by bringing people together. And I don’t think he’d be hidebound by traditional political ties.”

Farley calls his campaign an experiment: “Can a person who really cares about the issues and really wants to get things done get elected to office when he’s honest about what he wants to do?”

On the plus side, Farley has a campaign blog (on which he is an active commentator) and is married to Regina Kelly ’86. What more do the voters in Tuscon need to know? On the minus side, he seems to be a fan of light rail transit, one the largest boondoggles of local finance.


Wesloski ’71 Plays

Great article on Bill Wesloski’s ’71 piano playing.

Blind since birth, Bill Wesloski can’t see the change. But he can hear it and feel it.

He knows the past few days have been different as customers line up to say goodbye to the Younkers Tea Room. He can tell by the buzz.

Wesloski sits on stage, plays the piano, and takes in the sounds and smells. The crowd is bigger. Wesloski can tell by the way bodies fill the space and muffle the music.

Read the whole thing. I would rather here a Commencement speech by Wesloski (especially on the occasion of his 35th reunion this coming June) then the regurgitated drivel that the College usually inflicts on its graduating seniors. But maybe that’s just me.


Ban Lord Jeff

The NCAA recently banned the use of school mascots with American Indian nicknames. Working at a school whose mascot might some day be deemed offensive, the issue is of the utmost important to me (at least while I procrastinate on my conference paper). Near as I can tell, one of the most popular rhetorical strategies for arguing against the ban is to suggest the NCAA also ban animal mascots. [Note: I realize the last one is a joke, but often art imitates life.]

Leave it to my fearless class president, Jeffrey Zeeman, to come up with a better riff on the subject:

Speaking of Lord Jeffrey, if the NCAA is banning Native American sports team names, shouldn’t they also ban the Lord Jeff, given that he purposefully distributed small pox infected blankets to the natives? At least our mascot is far more politicall correct, being an Indian Killee as opposed to an Indian Killer.

Quite simply a brilliant suggestion. Some enterprising undergraduates should start petitioning NESCAC to ban the use of mascots who used biological weapons against defenseless people. Wesleyan wouldn’t and shouldn’t change its nickname to the “Saddams.” Why should two hundred plus years of history permit Amherst to display (nay, flaunt) such a casual attitude about genocide?


Forget “Williams” — How About “Purple Vista College”?

Geez, Williams is missing the boat. According to an article in today’s New York Times, colleges are renaming (oops, the buzzword is “rebranding”) themselves to court students. Beaver College became Arcadia University; Trenton State College became the College of New Jersey; Western Maryland College became McDaniel College; California State University, Hayward, became California State University, East Bay. The article says that, due to the rebranding, applications and student qualifications are up. In Arcadia University’s case, applications have doubled in just four years.

At this point, Williams has an acceptance rate of 18.8%; we could probably drive that down to 15% or even 12% if the college adopted a catchy new name. I mean, “Williams College” — how mundane can you get?

My suggestion is “Purple Vista College.” “Purple” bows to the college’s history, while also leveraging the mechanism of color references used by popular sports teams (e.g., the Boston Red Sox). “Vista” shows that the college is up-to-date, with a nod to Microsoft’s forthcoming operating system (code-named Longhorn, now called Vista) as well as referring to Williams’ Climb Far capital campaign. (Get it? — you Climb Far to reach a Vista.)

In fact, to enable frequent rebranding, the college could adopt a “Purple [blank]” format, with Purple remaining the same and [blank] changing according to the times. For example, when I attended Williams in the early 70s, it could have been called “Purple Haze.” Marijuana was easy to get, and if you were really cheap you could get high without buying any pot whatsoever. All you had to do was visit a certain smoke-laden fourth floor suite in Pratt, and after shooting the breeze for 20 minutes you’d be high for half a day.

So what are your suggestions? If not Purple Vista College, what other new name works? Although Williams takes great pride in being a leader in higher education, it’s clear that we’ll be playing catch up in this case. Only with the help of Ephblog readers can we avert this crisis of the mundane name.


Eph Diversity

Diana Davis ’07 makes my head hurt. Eric Smith ’99 shows us the toad. Professor Marc Lynch goes all Buffy. Aidan rides the subway.

Eph Diversity brought to you by Eph Planet.



Williams needs to facilitate the formation and maintenance of EphCOI (rhymes with thief-boy), Williams-connected Communities of Interest.

Basic idea is that there are large numbers of Ephs (students, alumni, professors and staff) with interests in specific fields and endeavors. One example is Ephs in Entertainment.

It began as a happy accident. In March 2002, screenwriter B. Daniel Blatt ’85 organized a dinner for Ephs after a New England Small Colleges function for Los Angeles-area alumni trying to break into show business. When nearly two dozen Williams alumni and friends crammed around a long table at a North Hollywood restaurant and stayed until closing to exchange e-mail addresses and business leads, Blatt knew he was on to something. Thus began Ephs in Entertainment, a drinking club with a networking problem.

The whole article makes for a fun read. The problem, though, is that there is no way for Ephs who don’t live in LA to participate. While there is a lot to be said for getting together over dinner, there should also be an EphCOI devoted to the entertainment business that would feature links to news articles, discussion of current events, advice for job-seekers, internship opportunities and so on. The same applies for Ephs in Finance, Ephs in the Law, Ephs in Football, Ephs in Cartooning, Ephs in et cetera.

Now, it is true that the College tries to facilitate some of this via alumni communities of various sorts, but, as best I can tell, these aren’t very successful. Does anyone use them? The main problem, I suspect, is that no one is going to bother with a resource that requires a login and password. (What percentage of alumni ever login to any part of the Alumni Society’s site?) Moreover, as best I can tell, all the alumni resources are essentially cut off from the worlds of current undergraduates. The real value (and fun) of something like Ephs in Finance would come from the interactions between alumni and students.

It would also be helpful to get faculty involved. Perhaps the single most famous and successful example of Eph networking is the famous Art History Mafia, which was centered around Williams faculty.

Another natural realm for such a community involves academic advising.

Simple outline is to create department centered teams of people who would gather information about that department, provide a FAQ and answer questions. For the most part, one students plus one alum would be all that you really need. There can’t be more than a few thousand words worth of things that students need to know about, say, the Political Science department.

These posts could all be categorized to make it easy for someone to pull up the collected wisdom of the participants about, say, Art History.

The College (as well as the Gargoyles) have recently worked on academic advising, just as they worked on it 20 years ago. None of the proposed solutions seem that useful. None use technology that wasn’t available when my father was at Williams five decade ago. Unless and until the collective wisdom of Ephdom is gathered together and made accessible (and interactive), academic advising will be sub-optimal.

What sort of tools do EphCOI require? Nothing fancy. Everything could be done with a blog, even within EphBlog, but it would be nice for someone else to take on the leadership role here. What is Gargoyle working on in 2005-2006? I suspect that the nice folks at WSO would be willing to help out. Even the College itself, perhaps under the leadership of OCC or the Alumni Society, will provide a rallying point.

But whatever the details, I would recommend that certain principals apply. First, the site (blog, webpage, wiki, whatever) must be open. People can’t be bothered to login. Second, the site must solicit feedback and material from both undergraduates and alums and, ideally, faculty. Third, specific volunteers will need to take responsibility for their EphCOI. I would certainly be happy enough to volunteer to help with Ephs in Finance and academic advising in Economics. And there are hundreds of alums like me who would be just as eager to participate.

EphCOI. You read it here first.


Shirley’s ’07 Summer Adventure

Brad Shirley ’07 is nearing the end of his time at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. See here for pictures of India Company, Shirley’s unit. (Perhaps someone can point out a picture of Brad among the hundreds of those privided.) Related posts here and here.

Interested Ephs can send Brad snail mail at the address below. Don’t let my letter be the only one from EphBlog!

Read more


Gelber ’10 at Shortstop?

Mary Gelber is one of the better high school softball shortstops in Illinois, and she’s interested in Williams.

Gelber has attended exposure camps at North Carolina and Stanford on her own and is still aiming high after performing well at every out-of-state event.

“I always e-mail coaches of places I’m interested in to let them know when I’m playing,” said Gelber, who includes Iowa and Northwestern among the schools she’s interested in along with Division III Williams College (Williamstown, Mass). “I’m always sending them little tidbits about me. I think I’ve kinda figured out pretty well where I can fit in.

“The important thing is now these coaches know who I am. It’s really hard to get exposure to out-of-state schools unless you travel there. The coaches are always telling you there’s a college out there for everyone, so it was good to learn that.”

Want exposure? Start blogging!


Progressive Consumerism

Steve Hunter ’07 has made another political Web site, this one with the goal

…to educate individuals of the considerable power that they wield every day when they spend their money.


to allow the moderates in our society to make informed decisions about the products that they buy. This ideal is difficult to attain, but is possible now with the help of the Internet.

Here it is. This is a lofty goal, and I hope that his site attracts visitors who will help him to achieve it. You may also remember his Web sites to stop Alberto and to rally students against Bush.


Ephayist: Derek Catsam ’93

(Crossposted from dcat):

All but the most intransigent, obtuse, or nave among us know that the dilemma of race still vexes the United States, indeed the world. I did not need the beating of a young black man here in the UK, a young man taking his A-levels and with his entire life ahead of him, a beating that culminated with his death when one of his assailants put an axe through the back of his head, to remind me of that. Nor did I need to read in this morning’s New York Times about a black man being beaten and robbed by whites using racial slurs in Brooklyn this weekend to know as much.

Read more


Counting Noses

In retrospect, I should have brought up the interesting issue of what counts as “Hispanic” at Williams as a general topic and not tied it directly to one particular student. So, let me bring it up here. The Record reports that:

[Director of Admissions Richard] Nesbitt said he was “ecstatic” with the yield of minority students. “We’re doing very well by any standards,” he said. Included in the class are 53 Asian Americans, 42 African Americans (down from 53 last year at this time), 55 Latinos (a record high) and three Native Americans. Thirty-two international students have also accepted offers. Nesbitt expected the number of African Americans to rise to 9 percent of the class as decision extensions expire this month.

Question: Is it true that there are 55 “Latinos” in the class of 2009?

Read more


Time to Blog

Dan Drezner ’90 asks “Where do you find the time to blog?” He reports that his:

lovely wife has a different answer to the title question — “it’s the time he would otherwise have used to pick up his socks.”

My lovely wife has choicer words than these . . .


Shock and Awe in Grad School

If you don’t find this post by Professor Marc Lynch absolutely fascinating, you are highly unlikely to enjoy graduate school in political science. I loved it! One quibble, however:

I think that most constructivists opposed the neo-con agenda in spite of this because the neo-con methods were so spectacularly at odds with those that they advocated: working against rather than with global civil society, lecturing from a moral high ground rather than taking other seriously in dialogue, denigrating the UN and international law, invading Iraq without the UN or a global consensus behind them. I think that this mismatch between goals and methods explains a lot of Bush’s failures — why “shock and awe” failed to win over Arab public opinion, for example, or why it failed to win legitimacy for the Iraqi campaign and why that failure mattered so much.

Was “shock and awe” ever designed to win over Arab public opinion? Did anyone ever claim that it would? The purpose of shock and awe was to make Iraqis, especially military leaders, believe that resisting the US was futile. It’s purpose was to make the initial invasion as casualty-free as possible. A secondary purpose may have been to convince the leaders of other countries of the same point. If someone has a citation to the contrary, I would like to read it.

The execution of the invasion of Iraq may have been bungled but “shock and awe” worked, I think, largely as advertised.



When Professor Marc Lynch first used the phrase “Reaganesque burlesque” in relation to the recent death of King Fahd, I was ready to let it go.

Thank the gods for al-Jazeera, today. Their lead: “Intense security arrangements for the funeral of King Fahd.” They do have some stories noting the world’s mourning, but it’s treated as a news story, not as a Reaganesque burlesque.

But then he used it again, so let’s dive in.

What is the meaning of “Reaganesque burlesque” in this context? My goal, for now, is just to understand the usage. Reagan died. There were a bunch of events to mark the occasion. Those events received wide news coverage. There was also much commentary.

What aspect of this was “burlesque”? Since Lynch is a smart guy (and since we both agree that al-Jazeera is a force for good), I don’t want to attack this usage until I fully understand it. My suspicion is that, in the hallways and offices of Stetson, the meaning is that Reagan himself was an man of side-show stupidity and/or that the coverage surrounding his demise was ludicrous in both the seriousness with which it took his policies and the credit that it gave him for the “successes” of his administration.

But don’t want to put words into Lynch’s mouth . . .


McIntosh ’75 Commentary

Here is some more commentary on Tracy McIntosh ’75.

We’ll call it the case of Tracy McIntosh. At 52, he was a husband and father of two teenage daughters residing in the affluent suburb of Media. The renowned professor was generating huge research grants at Penn for his important studies of the use of stem cells in repairing damage to brain and nerve tissues. His work held promise for stroke victims worldwide.

Beneath the starchy white lab coat, however, Dr. McIntosh had established another reputation as a womanizer who increasingly came close to crossing the line of sexual harasser. The university quietly investigated allegations and, in the interest of keeping the boatloads of grant money afloat, was even quieter in rebuking the professor.

There isn’t much here that we haven’t already covered in previous posts. I haven’t been able to find any updates on the criminal case. Here is information on the civil suit.


Rebunk = Defunct (But DCAT is Where It’s At)

Many Ephbloggers have become regular or semi-regular visitors to my blog Rebunk, but for reasons that I am not going to get into now, Rebunk has gone defunct. Not because of any internal dynamics — three of those guys are among my best friends in the world, and Marc, our newest addition, came as an unknown to us but fit in well right away. However, this opens up new doors, including one to my own new blog, DCAT as well as a promise to Dave that you might see more of me at Ephblog.

Also — look forward to an exciting announcement about the Red Sox diaries in the next day or so.


Mixing Music at Williams => Starbucks Music Guru

You Starbucks aficionados will be happy to know that a big chunk of the Starbucks ambiance — its music — is under the control of Don MacKinnon ’90. After college, MacKinnon started Hear Music, a small chain of music stores based out of San Francisco that sold CD compilations. In the mid-90s, Starbucks began selling CDs, including those from Hear Music. In 1999, Howard Schultz, the head of Starbucks, flew down to San Francisco see what Hear Music was all about, and as he says, the minute he walked in the store

‘My imagination was racing a mile a minute.’ He watched customers thumbing through the banks of carefully organized compilation CDs and decided they were rediscovering music in the same way people had rediscovered coffee at Starbucks. ‘The fact that Hear Music had elevated its status from a record store to an editor was compelling.’

Accordingly, Starbucks bought the company later that year for $8 million. MacKinnon moved to Seattle and became Starbucks’ VP of Music and Entertainment.

Read more


Lynch in Newsweek

Professor Marc Lynch is quoted in the current Newsweek.

The new shows have “ingrained the legitimacy of disagreement” in Arab society, notes Marc Lynch, a political scientist at Williams College. “Even 10 years ago, there was a real notion that it was wrong to disagree, and if you did, you were being untrue to your Arab identity. Now, because of these shows, you can be a good Arab and disagree.”

Anyone interested in Arab media needs to read Lynch’s blog every day.


New Book from Scott Wong

History Professor Scott Wong’s latest book, Americans First: Chinese Americans and the Second World War, is out from Harvard University Press.

World War II was a watershed event for many of America’s minorities, but its impact on Chinese Americans has been largely ignored. Utilizing extensive archival research as well as oral histories and letters from over one hundred informants, K. Scott Wong explores how Chinese Americans carved a newly respected and secure place for themselves in American society during the war years.

The book gets a nice mention here, but I haven’t been able to find any substantive reviews. I gave Wong a bit of a hard time during the Nigaleian furor of last fall, but any Williams faculty member writing on matters military is alright with me.

As noted before, Dean of the Faculty Tom Kohut is interested in bringing the work of Williams faculty to a wider audience. Wong’s book might be a nice place to start.


« Newer Posts