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OnCampus Senior Profiles

Jo Procter in Public Affairs reports that the Senior Profiles from the excellent OnCampus magazine (distributed at Commencement and Reunion) are available on-line. Great stuff. My favorite is on WSO impressario Evan Miller.

Evan took on ever-larger projects for the site, including a list of campus student organizations. He also rewrote the campus facebook. His senior year he founded Willipedia, the Williams answer to the Web’s Wikipedia, a free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors around the world.

“Initially I started because I found this cool piece of software out there that happened to power the Wikipedia,” he said. “So this year I got that organized and started writing some articles. I thought other people could contribute to it, too — mainly things like students guides to hiking or climbing trees.”

With others he organized a governing board for Willipedia, in case there were conflicts over submitted entries. “You need some sort of moral authority to step in there and decide the way it’s going to be,” he said. “Fortunately there haven’t been too many incidents where they’ve been necessary, although there have been a couple important ones.”

That’s me! There was a sometimes heated discussion at Willipedia about what belongs in the Campus Controversy section. Evan and I have different views on this topic.

It is not clear if the stated policy is actually enforced.

If you think that someone involved in the topic you’re writing about would prefer to go unnamed, grant them that courtesy. Mindfulness of others’ identities is necessary for Willipedia to have a strong base of contributors, and we must respect this both in how we write and in what we choose to write about.

The great majority of Willipedia topics are innocuous, and writers may cover these to the fullest extent of their knowledge. Other topics, that concern individuals of the Williams community who are likely not to want to be named in them (eg. some Pranks and Campus Controversies), must either be written without naming the names or left to media other than Willipedia.

If you, with permission, include another person’s name in a way that other editors may find questionable, note that you had the person’s permission in your edit summary or on the talk page.

Perhaps I am naive, but I am pretty sure that Professor Aida Laleian would prefer that this page did not exist.

In any event, Willipedia is great stuff. Kudos to Evan for everything he has done over the last 4 years to make Williams a better place. He will be missed.

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Vote Prescott ’92

Laura Lim Prescott ’92 needs your vote.

How can you resist? Vote Eph!

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Too Much To Count

My two Williams interns — or “summer associates”, as we officially describe them so that their resumes will look even better when they apply to Goldman Sachs — have finished up, leaving enough time to while away the rest of August with their girlfriends. Smart fellows, both. Special thanks to Evan Miller ’06 and Diana Davis ’07 for their help in publicizing the position.

One intern, after a visit to Williams, recounted an amusing story about how popular I am on campus. When he told a senior Williams administrator — someone that I have both criticized and praised on EphBlog — that he was working for me this summer, the administrator said:

I hope you make him so much money that he spends all his time counting it and stops blogging about Williams.

Alas, the interns were good, but not that good. Maybe next summer!

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A Traditional Greeting

If First Days start today, then it must be raining in Williamstown.

Same as it ever was.

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Progress

Having doubts about the progress of mankind? Consider how much better your medical care is than that received by your fellow Eph, President James Garfield ’56.

Three vertebrae, removed from the body of President James A. Garfield, sit on a stretch of blue satin. A red plastic probe running through them marks the path of his assassins bullet, fired on July 2, 1881.

The vertebrae form the centerpiece of a new exhibit, commemorating the 125th anniversary of Garfields assassination. The exhibit also features photographs and other images that tell the story of the shooting and its aftermath, in which Garfield lingered on his deathbed for 80 days. Located at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, on the campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the exhibit opened on July 2 and will close, 80 days later, on Sept. 19.

Garfield was waiting at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, about to leave for New England, when he was shot twice by the assassin, Charles J. Guiteau.

As all good Ephs know, Garfield was on the way to his 25th Williams Reunion. But it wasn’t the bullet that killed him.

At the autopsy, it became evident that the bullet had pierced Garfields vertebra but missed his spinal cord. The bullet had not struck any major organs, arteries or veins, and had come to rest in adipose tissue on the left side of the presidents back, just below the pancreas.

Dr. Ira Rutkow, a professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a medical historian, said: Garfield had such a nonlethal wound. In todays world, he would have gone home in a matter or two or three days.

In addition to causing sepsis by probing the wound with unsterile hands and instruments, Garfields doctors did him a disservice by strictly limiting his solid food intake, believing that the bullet might have pierced his intestines, said Dr. Rutkow, the author of James A. Garfield, a book in the American Presidents Series.

In mid-August, the doctors insisted that Garfield be fed rectally, and he received beef bouillon, egg yolks, milk, whiskey and drops of opium in this manner.

They basically starved him to death, said Dr. Rutkow, noting that the president lost over 100 pounds from July to September.

Rough. The poorest person in America today receives free medical care which is orders of magnitude better than Garfield’s was. If that isn’t progress than the term has no meaning.

The assassins lawyers tried to argue that their client was not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense was unsuccessful, and he was hanged on June 30, 1882.

Guiteau himself repeatedly criticized Garfields doctors, suggesting that they were the ones who had killed the president.

I just shot him, Guiteau said.

A clever defense.

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Mission in Life

Wouldn’t it be great if David Battey’s ’85 senior thesis were on-line?

David Battey almost wrote an undergraduate thesis on agricultural policy.

The world is probably a better place because he didn’t.

Despite some dubious professors, Battey and four fellow political economy majors at Williams College in Massachusetts delved into the subject of youth service during the spring of 1985.

The thesis inspired Battey to create the Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City and, later, of America.

The Kansas City chapter is completing its 20th summer. Battey’s Youth Volunteer Corps can also be found in 22 states and three Canadian cities. About 15,000 youth spent 216,000 hours volunteering with the program last year.

The Corps, a nonprofit organization based in Roeland Park, Kan., has become more than a career for Battey.

“I always look upon my job as really more of a mission in life,” said the Mission Hills native who now lives in Fairway.

Interesting stuff. Who were those “dubious professors?”

Battey and his classmates’ thesis concluded that the government should do more to promote voluntarism in youth. They said a “bottoms-up” approach, or supporting grassroots programs, was better than a bureaucracy. Their project earned an A-minus.

Battey earned Williams College’s bicentennial medal in 2000 for putting into practice what he envisioned years ago.

During the Corps’ fledgling stages, he said he encountered many people who were skeptical that young people would shoulder time-consuming jobs for no pay. Then, even school-organized community service was unusual.

“The landscape of service has changed a lot — a lot,” Battey said. “It’s been great to see it.”

And what will students in POLI-EC be writing about this year?

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Edit War

Someone who doesn’t like EphBlog has been removing our link at the Williams College entry in Wikipedia. This has happened before. I did not use to care so much, but I am getting more and more into Wikipedia as time goes by. You can see our discussion here, and my request for clarification on the general policy here. Wikipedia implies fairly strongly that I, as someone closely associated with EphBlog should back off and let the rest of the Wikipedia community decide this. But the deletions do not come from registered users so they strike me as more anti-EphBlog inspired than anything else.

Comments welcome.

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The Mountains, yo

Ephblog gets brilliant results from Seth Brown ’01:

“Mountains Rap”

Yo, kings of the mountain lands, represent
Stand tall in the sky, so the whole world sees.
The place where we dwell ain’t made of cement,
But there’s grass and water and mother-fuckin’ trees

And mountains! The mountains! We greet them with a song,
The echo comes back and the world sings along
From the wind and the river to the valley and the hill,
If you ain’t sung praise to the mountains yet, you will.

Read the whole thing

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Efficiency

Dan Drezner ’90 explains the efficiency of the academy.

Occasionally the marginal idea escapes the academy and has an impact, but by and large students just want to graduate, academics just want to be insulated from the real world, and the real world wants to be isolated from loonies who go on about how great Che Guevara was. In this light, the Academy is a very efficient mechanism, creating surplus for all.

Indeed. And then EphBlog’s role would be . . .

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The Mountains

For those who care about such things, the Guide to First Days is available. Always fun stuff. The first class meeting is Wednesday, August 30th and “will conclude with the singing of “The Mountains,” the College song.”

As usual, I have reached out to the JA Co-Presidents to recommend that they not just sing “The Mountains” but that they and the JAs and the first years learn “The Mountains.” Last year’s plea is here. To repeat:

Until 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.

Yet 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 1906, but, if you seize this opportunity, Williams students and alumni will still be singing “The Mountains.”

My crazy plan is going to work one of these days. JA training starts about now. Perhaps this is the year . . .

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Missing Cat

Marc Lynch has lost his cat.

This is a call for help to local, Williamstown-area readers only… last night, we had to bring our cat to stay with someone who lives close by the Williams Inn. He promptly knocked out a screen window and escaped. We’ve spent many hours since then walking the woods and streets around there looking for him, with no luck. If you happen to see a very scared looking, but beautiful, long-haired orange cat walking around Williamstown today, please drop me a line right away – thanks.

Perhaps one of our Williamstown readers will be able to help.

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Pluto’s Not a Planet

EphBlog’s #1 fan, Jacob Eisler ’04, notes this Eph reference.

Pluto was looking more and more like a goner yesterday as astronomers meeting in Prague continued to debate the definition of a planet.

“I think that today can go down as the ‘day we lost Pluto,’ ” said Jay Pasachoff of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., in an e-mail message from Prague.

Under fire from other astronomers and the public, a committee appointed by the International Astronomical Union revised and then revised again a definition proposed last week that would have expanded the number of official planets to 12, locking in Pluto as well as the newly discovered Xena in the outer solar system, as well as the asteroid Ceres and Pluto’s moon Charon.

With two more days before the scheduled vote, there was no guarantee that Pluto would not make a comeback and that the definition of planethood might be rewritten again.

“Some people think that the astronomers will look stupid if we can’t agree on a definition or if we don’t even know what a planet is,” said Dr. Pasachoff of Williams College. “But someone pointed out that this definition will hold for all time and that it is more important to get it right.”

Well, “all time” is a long time. Pasachoff is too good an astronomer to think that all the scientific conventions of today will hold for 100 years, much less forever. Once knowledge of other solar systems increases, there will be no avoiding further changes in nomenclature.

Ephs of a certain age and comic sensibility can not help thinking of Sports Night whenever the conversation turns to Pluto’s status . . .

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Piece By Piece

How is all the amazing information on Wikipedia built? Piece by piece. Sean Denniston ’87 discovers that Charles Goodell ’48 was a New York Congressman. He mentions it to me and I pass it on to you. That information is added to Wikipedia by someone who (I think) read it on EphBlog.

How long before Wikipedia provides a listing of every graduate of Williams, not just the famous ones, along with their current occupation and location? Not as long as you think.

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Bill Couch ’79 Deployed

Bill Couch’79, a Captain in the Naval Reserves, has been called up and is deployed, starting today, to Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. While we are very grateful Bill is not being sent to downtown Baghdad, he’ll be “just around the naval corner” and getting combat pay. So . . .

The Williams College Adopt-An-Alum Program is now reactivated. If you would like to send Bill an APOLITICAL message of support you can snail mail him at:

Capt Bill Couch
CJ-1
CJTF-HOA
APO AE 09363

Or you can e-mail him at:

Bill.Couch@omfn.com

As a reminder to my fellow Ephs who, like myself, did not get an 800 on the Verbal SAT, here’s the definition of APOLITICAL.

If you think the war is the right thing to do, GREAT. Write George Bush all about it. Don’t write it to the troops. If you think the war is the wrong thing to do, GREAT. Write George Bush all about it. Don’t write it to the troops. If you heard some fantastic dirt about a classmate that is too scandalous for even the National Enquirer to print, please e-mail this information IMMEDIATELY to me and, oh yeah, to the troops!

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Youthful

Dan Daly ’76 is a sports columnist at the Washington Times. Here he writes on his classmate Mayo Shattuck ’76.

It would have been fun to tell people, “I graduated from college with the future commissioner of the NFL. We took the same Poli Sci class one semester, if memory serves. He was a pretty good tennis and squash player.”

Alas, Mayo Shattuck, Williams College ’76 (and currently CEO of Baltimore’s Constellation Energy), didn’t get the job. Roger Goodell, Washington and Jefferson ’81, did. Maybe the NFL wasn’t ready for Mayo, a fellow whose youthful wife, Molly, is a cheerleader for the Ravens.

Indeed. I like the choice of “youthful” as an adjective. Wonder what others Daly considered and rejected? By the way, assume for a second that the College is considering awarding a Bicentennial Medal to a member of the class of 1976. Assume that the choice is down to Shattuck and Daly, both successful in their fields. Odds are, the College would choose Shattuck because he has been incredibly successful, making fortunes in two different industries: banking at Alex Brown and energy at Constellation. The fact that he is ludicrously rich wouldn’t hurt his chances.

But Daly, unlike Shattuck, is still married to the woman he met at Williams. He has not traded her in for a younger, less educated model. Should that count for anything when the College decides who to honor and who not to? Just asking!

Where are my feminist friends when I need them?

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Acceptable Links on EphBlog

It’s August, so what better way to spend the time than a lengthy navel-study of linking policy (what is acceptable to link to and what is not) on EphBlog. Read more if you care.

Read more

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Welcome to Spencer Cluster

Spencer house has a welcome letter for the members of Spencer House. Since it’s an image, I can’t paste any text into a convenient blockquote and I’m too lazy to type anything out myself, but you can go and read it — a nice welcome letter, with energy and thought.

Considering the directory, the Spencer officers have been doing some work. I don’t see anything similar for Wood, Dodd, or Currier, but perhaps their web sites are in the works.

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New CIO

Williams has a new Chief Investment Officer.

Williams College has put the final piece of the upper level management in place, hiring Boston-based investment executive Collette Chilton as its first chief investment officer to oversee its roughly $1.5 billion endowment.

Chilton is president and chief investment officer of Lucent Asset Management Corp., which manages the pension and 401(k) funds of the telecom corporation Lucent Technologies Inc.

Hmmm. I have been somewhat suspicious of the move to hire a CIO. Why mess with a system that is working well? Moreover, as Trustee Laurie Thomsen pointed out at the Boston Alumni meeting in April, the real secret behind the success of the endowment has been the committee of Ephs who have run it. They have ensured that Williams gets into all the best deals. Presumably, this will continue, but I worry.

Chilton certainly has the sort of resume that one would look for. (She was probably due to be forced out of Lucent as Alcatel takes over in the next year.) And, even better, her non-trivial salary will make other administrators seem cheap by comparison. She talks sense in this interview.

CPEE: What impresses you in a job candidate?

Chilton: People in an interview situation need to have a clue about what they are talking about! You would be surprised at how many people just haven’t done the research and don’t even understand the job they for which they are interviewing. People come in and don’t really know the role investment managers play within a company, or what assets we oversee–really basic stuff.

One thing not to do is to come in and say, “I’ll take this entry-level job for now, but in two years I should have your job!” Job candidates have to have a clear, realistic sense of what they want to do, both short-term and long-term.

Very true. The Eagle goes on with:

The post was created by the reorganization of the school’s upper-level management, which has been ongoing for a year.

Chilton said that having an investment office is important when you have enough assets to oversee.

“Having someone whose responsibility day in and day out is to oversee and invest it and all the myriad details that go with that is more than a full-time job,” she said.

Then why was the endowment’s performance over the last 10 years so outstanding?

“They clearly did an outstanding job (resulting in double-digit annual growth), but the volume and complexity of overseeing an increasingly large portfolio rendered that model unsustainable,” President Morton O. Schapiro wrote in a letter making the announcement. “With a chief investment officer, Williams will for the first time have an experienced professional overseeing on a day-to-day basis an operation of great importance to all that we do at the College and all that we’ll be able to do in the future.”

Perhaps. As long as the focus continues to be on getting access, via plugged in Ephs on the Finance Committee, to the best deals, I am satisfied. Indeed, Chilton might play a useful role as score-keeper, reporting on which deals have paid off the best for the College. Rich Ephs can be quite competitive in their desire to do well for Williams.

At about $1.5 billion, the college’s endowment is one of the largest in the nation for a small liberal arts school.

There are some limits to how the money can be invested. In June, the trustees chose not to invest in 28 multinational corporations that do business in Sudan, as part of an effort to stop the government-sponsored genocide in that country’s Darfur region.

Gibberish! The Eagle reporter, Chris Marcisz, is smarter than this. The trustees chose not to invest directly in these companies. The College has so few direct stock holdings that this doesn’t matter. The College did not promise to stop investing in hedge funds and other pooled vehicles which themselves invest in companies which do business in Sudan. For all anyone knows, those hedge funds have millions of dollars invested with those companies.

The entire Sudan Divestment schtick is moral preening, devoid of investment substance.

Best part is that Alcatel — the company that is in the process of buying Lucent and, I think, indirectly leading to Chilton’s departure — is on the Sudan list! Maybe Chilton quit for moral reasons! She couldn’t stand the thought of working for a company which does business with the government of Sudan.

She’ll be based in Boston and will have an office at Williams.

I am jealous.

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Eph on the Corner

Williams Bennett ’65 is blogging at The Corner.

It was said of Churchill that his greatness laid in seeing things how they really were, seeing things in their misery and seeing things in their greatness. The task is the same for us, or should be.

Indeed. Read more for Bennett’s take on the Israel/Lebanon conflict. It is, shall we say, different from Professor Marc Lynch’s. Since we’re all about ideological diversity at EphBlog, we highly recommend both.

My classmate, Rodney Cunningham ’88, noted that EphBlog never discussed Bennett’s controversial comments on abortion, race and crime. True! Of course, whenever anyone points out something that EphBlog has failed to cover, I invite them to join EphBlog and cover it themselves. But Rodney was too smart to fall for that one.

Since bloggers ranging across the political spectrum (from Brad Delong to Ed Morrissey) defended Bennett, there isn’t much for me to add.

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Vacation

There was talk a few months ago of what a great idea it would be to give me a vacation, to have someone else (or some group of someones) take over the daily posting chore. That would make EphBlog more Eph and less Kane. Great idea! Alas, although some fine thoughts were expressed, nothing came of the effort. Perhaps in the fall? Perhaps next summer?

In any event. I am taking some time away. Apologies if responses and comments are not as quick and voluminous as usual. I have pre-posted material for the next two weeks so that, even if I can’t login, you’ll have a daily dose of Ephery to get you through the summer. Enjoy! Breaking news will probably bring me back, but not too quickly, I hope.

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An Arab Summer at Middlebury

Following up on a piece from the Middle East Quarterly, Boston College professor Franck Salemeh writes at RealClearPolitics on some notable trends at Middlebury’s summer Arabic language program.

In maps, textbooks, lectures, and other teaching materials used in the instruction of Arabic, Israel didn’t exist, and the overarching watan ‘Arabi (Arab fatherland) was substituted for the otherwise diverse and multi-faceted “Middle East.” Curious and misleading geographical appellations, such as the “Arabian Gulf” in lieu of the time-honored “Persian Gulf,” abounded. Syria’s borders with its neighbors were marked “provisional,” and Lebanon was referred to as a qutr (or “province”) of an imagined Arab supra-state.

Full text here.

The organizers had more on their plate, too. According to Salameh, the program enforced halal dietary restrictions during meals, banned alcohol from events and parties, and were the sole program to opt out of observing July 4th festivities.

As Salameh notes up top in the first piece, Middlebury’s immersive summer language programs are considered to be among the best in the nation, and I’ve always envied this excellent feature of our NESCAC neighbor. Pretty much the only part of Middlebury I feel that way about, actually. Well, maybe the hockey rink. That’s about it.

Now, unlike the author, I’m not so concerned about Middle Eastern studies professors being “depressingly consistent in their condemnation of American policy in the region, including its support for the democracies in Israel and Turkey.” But I also don’t think a language program has much business mandating its participants’ gustatory, libationary or cartographic choices. Although the “provisional” borders thing is actually kind of funny.

Anyone have any thoughts?

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Adrian Martinez ’06, RIP

Sad to pass along this news from the College.

To the Williams Community,

I am very sad to report the shocking news that Adrian Martinez ’06 died yesterday of massive heart failure while playing soccer near where he was living in Boston. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. There is no word yet on services or other arrangements but we will pass those on as they become available.

Sincerely,

Stephen Sneed
Associate Dean of the College

Martinez was a member of the cross country team at Williams and a math major.

UPDATE: I will keep this at the top of the blog until Friday. Thanks to the comments below for links to Adrian’s obituary and details on his funeral. Any readers in attendance should let us know how the service goes. I am sure that friends of Adrian who can not attend would appreciate that.

UPDATE II: Another nice obituary here.

Although he was a strong competitor, Farwell said he was a quiet leader, inspiring teammates more with his work ethic than drive to win. “He’s quiet, but he was always there at the workouts,” said Farwell. “Everyone liked him.”

In a 2002 story in The Concord Journal, Martinez was featured as one of the Dual County League’s top runners. That story told of Martinez’s hard work and dedication to a sport he loved. There was not much that could keep him from missing a practice or a workout.

In the 2002 article, CCHS cross-country coach Steve Lane explained how even a run-in with a truck while riding his bicycle could not keep Martinez completely away.

“There was this one cross-country practice in his sophomore year,” said Lane. “Adrian wasn’t at practice and it wasn’t like him to not be there. It was a Saturday morning. It was foggy out. We were stretching and a police car pulls up. The officer steps out and says he has a message from Adrian Martinez. He said Adrian was hit by a truck and had to go to the emergency room. He asked the officer to come and tell me he couldn’t make practice.”

Life is too short, for all of us.

Condolences to all.

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Unreasonable

David H.T. Kane ’58 points out this New York Times article from Wednesday.

Early this morning, U.S. News & World Report will send e-mail messages to hundreds of college administrators, giving them an advance peek at the magazine’s annual college ranking. They will find out whether Princeton will be at the top of the list for the seventh straight year, whether Emory can break into the top 15 and where their own university ranks. The administrators must agree to keep the information to themselves until Friday at midnight, when the list goes live on the U.S. News Web site, but the e-mail message gives them a couple of days to prepare a response.

How come one of our in-the-know readers didn’t give us the good news ahead of time? EphBlog needs better sources!

Many students don’t enjoy being graded, either. The task of grading colleges will fall to the federal government, which gives enough money to universities to demand accountability, and to private groups outside higher education.

“The degree of defensiveness that colleges have is unreasonable,” said Michael S. McPherson, a former president of Macalester College in Minnesota who now runs the Spencer Foundation in Chicago. “It’s just the usual resistance to having someone interfere with their own marketing efforts.”

So true. Perhaps Mike will help me in my efforts to make Williams more open. We could start by putting all syllabi on the web. We could then make public the summary data — not the records for individual students — about incoming students as gathered from the Common Application and of graduates as they leave Williams. You can bet that there would be some interesting patterns. The College did some of this in the context the Diversity Initiatives, but why stop there?

EphBlog is more likely to end up hosted at www.williams.edu than Williams is to release this data on a regular basis, no matter how “unreasonable” the former chair of the Economics Department finds that attitude. Perhaps Mike can raise the issue with his co-author Morty and let us know what the deal is . . .

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We’re #1

Again.

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Reuter’d

My last neologism was Nigaleian, perhaps it is time for a new one.

reuter’d: To be fooled by propaganda masquerading as news. Derived from punk’d and fake Reuters news photographs from the 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict.

Reuters has admitted the fakery. See here and here for more overviews of the controversy.

But what does this have to do with Williams? Good question! It seems to me that Professor Marc Lynch may have been reuter’d.

Not supposed to be blogging this weekend. Supposed to be playing with my kids. Pictures like this from Qana, where more than half the victims were children, do not help.

lynch_qana.jpg

Source: al-Ghad

Sorry, no more. When my boy wakes up from his nap, and my girl gets back from the coffeeshop, I’m going to hold them for a long, long time.

How did Marc interpret this picture? Just the way we all did. An innocent child is dead, killed by Israeli bombs. A father is grief-stricken, holding the lifeless body of his child. A rescue-worker does what little he can in the background.

But is that the full story? Not everyone thinks so. My first introduction to the controversy around “Green Helmet” and “White Tee-Shirt” came from EU Referendum. (Further (lengthy!) comments here and here. Contrary view here. Wikipedia is, as usual, an excellent resource.)

My opinion: too soon to tell whether or not the particular photo that Marc presents to us is “staged” or in any meaningful way “fake,” but I predict that this story is not going away, that for someone, like Marc, interested in the media and the Middle East, it will be one of the most important stories of 2006. I look forward to reading Marc’s observations going forward. I suspect that he would place someone like Richard North — the main writer at EU Referendum — in the same camp as 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists.

UPDATE: This is not the original source for the photograph, but it is obviously taken at almost exactly the same time and location. The caption reads:

A man screams for help as he carries the body of a dead girl after Israeli air strikes on the southern Lebanese village of Qana 30 July 2006. At least 51 people were killed, many of them children, when Israeli war planes blitzed Qana, the deadliest single strike since the Jewish state unleashed its war on Hezbollah 19 days ago.

Maybe I am just an old Zionist, but that description does not strike me as, uh, excessively neutral. See EU Referendum for a different perspective on exactly the same “facts.” If we can’t agree on what really happened in one bombing in one village during a brief war, then the historian’s job is a difficult one indeed.

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More Boxes

As a follow up to our discussion about how Williams calculates its racial/ethnic statistics, Director of Institutional Research Chris Winters ’95 passes along this link.

More than 6.8 million people in the 2000 Census of the United States picked more than one racial or ethnic category in which to place themselves. And 40 percent of them were under the age of 18, suggesting that millions will be arriving on campuses where the standard “pick one box” approach to race and ethnicity may no longer work.

On Monday, the U.S. Education Department — following nearly nine years of study and planning — released draft guidance for colleges on how to change the way they collect and report information about students’ race and ethnicity. The system proposed by the department would for the first time allow students to pick multiple boxes, with colleges reporting all of those who checked multiple boxes in a new “two or more races” category. In addition, the new system changes the way data will be gathered about Latino students and divides the “Asian and Pacific Islander” category into two distinct groups.

Experts on education statistics generally praised the changes, saying that they reflect the reality that race and ethnicity in the United States do not fit into neat categories. Many predicted that the guidance — if formally adopted, as is expected — would encourage colleges to adopt a similar approach on admissions forms. And several warned that the changes could have important policy ramifications, as the enrollment levels of some groups may appear to decrease. The big question mark for many remains whether these changes will stop the growth in the number of students who refuse to answer questions on race and ethnicity.

Read the whole thing. Thanks to Chris for the link. I still hope that Williams will release the raw data from the Common Application. The more informed we and the rest of the Williams community are about the details of who goes to Williams, the better.

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16-Hour Days

AOL founder Steve Case ’80 is back.

The founder of Revolution LLC is making big promises. He’s done it before. In 2000, as chief executive officer of America Online Inc., Case pitched the acquisition of Time Warner Inc. to his shareholders, saying it would create new ways for people to shop and communicate.

Case was wrong. The biggest acquisition in history cost investors more than $100 billion from its 2001 close through July 28, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That staggering loss hasn’t weakened Case’s stand that the deal was the right thing to do.

D’uh! It is surprising to see such a naive Bloomberg article. Case saved the shareholders of AOL billions of dollars by merging with Time Warner. He did exactly what a good, even great, CEO should do. The shareholders of Time Warner were screwed over, but Case isn’t responsible for their welfare.

Could this part be true?

Case regularly logs 16-hour workdays in his new life, as he did at AOL, and he’s just as single-minded about his pursuits, colleagues say. “Steve almost never does anything on the spur of the moment,” says Miles Gilburne, a former AOL executive who’s on Revolution’s board. “He’s very methodical.”

What is the point of having a billion dollars if you are going to work 16-hour days? I suspect that this is fluff, that Case doesn’t work that hard. He has 5 children! Doesn’t he go to their soccer games and ballet recitals? If not, he ought to learn something from the life of Vince Fuller ’52, as should we all.

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Barbershop

Jeff Delaney ’05, ace blogger at Postgraduate Musings (although I am not sure which brother he is), writes:

Royce W. Smith ’01 was featured last Friday as a guest blogger at one
my favorite blogs, The Barbershop Notebooks.

Smith’s posts are here. I am a fan of anyone who likes “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.” Both my daughters can recite the whole thing by heart. Smith’s thoughts on BiDil are worth reading.

A small Massachusetts company recently reported sales of 2.3 dollars in the first quarter of 2006 for BiDil, a new FDA-approved heart failure medication that promises to potentially benefit more than 750,000 Americans currently suffering from heart disease. Yet, the air is tense, the media fans the flame of controversy, and patients are paralyzed, not by the condition from which they suffer, but rather by skepticism and fear.

Why? Because the 750,000 people are black Americans. BiDil is FDA approved “for the treatment of heart failure as an adjunct to standard therapy in self-identified black patients to improve survival, to prolong time to hospitalization for heart failure, and to improve patient-reported functional status.” It is the first drug ever approved by FDA to treat heart disease exclusively in black Americans. So, there Kanye, at least one part of George W. Bush’s executive branch appears to care about black people!

America has made significant strides in understanding race and ethnicity as social constructs. In 1896, when the Supreme Court legalized segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson, a central question was whether a man who was “seven-eighths” white and “one-eighth” black had the right to sit in the “whites only” section of a train. In 1954, when the high court outlawed segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education, the court chose sociological, rather than biological, understandings of race to support its conclusions. These two landmark decisions demonstrate how significant this debate has been in American history and how it has shaped public policy. Now the advent of race-based medicine may spark a shift backwards towards the accreditation of the biological definition of race.

In the process, the free market will run…well…free. Dr. King’s image may be used to communicate the message that We (Big Pharma and black folks) Have Over Come! Snoop Dogg and LeBron James may ink endorsement deals, and Tiger Woods would probably market the Centrum of ethnic medicines, complete for all your ethnicities (but he’ll stay silent when it comes to womens’ health).

Some racial minorities may benefit from the advent of race-driven medicine. But at the end of the day where will this development lead America in its discourse on race? Are we well-educated and mature enough to find a balance between biological and sociological constructs of race? Or is there no fair and peaceful balance to be struck?

Good questions.

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High Echelon

Nice article on Bryan Wrapp ’10.

Former Wreckers lacrosse coach John Lake, who was the team’s head coach the past two years, is impressed with Wrapp and feels his former captain, has the total package.

“He’s the prototypical, high echelon of student-athletes you can find,” says Lake. “There are few outstanding student-athletes [in both areas] at Staples with Katrina Ellison being one of them and Bryan is in that category.”

In lacrosse, Wrapp was one of the top attackers in the area, leading the Wreckers in scoring with 21 goals and 32 assists for 53 points. Junior year, he was Staples’ leading scorer with 31 goals and 39 assists for 70 points, finishing fourth on the team in goals scored while being its top assist man.

Good luck at Williams.

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Theme Park of Nostalgia

Interesting New York Times article on the problems that Polshek, architects of the Paresky Student Center,

The initial spark was struck last summer, after the university announced unexpectedly that it had ended its four-year relationship with the acclaimed architect James Polshek, whose New York-based firm had been hired, amid much fanfare, to design the South Lawn. Word in Charlottesville had it that Polshek’s office — which had won national renown for such widely praised modernist projects as the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock and the Rose planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History — had become frustrated by the school’s refusal to approve any design that did not hew to a strict Classical palette of arches and columns.

A group of malcontents at the university’s School of Architecture had published an open letter assailing the administration’s effort to turn the campus into a “theme park of nostalgia”: an assemblage of mediocre, slavishly neo-Classical buildings. On the other side, certain members of the board had nightmares of something big and boxy and glassy — something that looked, as one of them put it at the meeting, “industrial” — looming alongside Jefferson’s sacred precinct. The debate had spilled over to the rest of the faculty — and, via Internet newsgroups and blogs, had even drawn in architects around the world.

Hat tip: WSO.

How are people liking the look of the new Paresky Center?

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