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Without an Audience

Kim Daboo ’88 owrites about her toddler.

I think he’s been sliding into the terrible twos for a few months now. Telling him “no” still results in exasperating laughter and giggles. One minute he’s nearly angelic and the next he’s pulling my hair, scratching any exposed flesh I might have, and trying to hit me in the head as hard as he can. Sometimes it’s out of frustration at being told he cannot do something but often it’s for no reason I can determine. He also continues to “perform” when I arrive to pick him up at school. Until he sees me he is well-behaved. As soon as he notices I am there he climbs on the table, throws books, and may even push a classmate. I try to turn my back and ignore the behavior entirely (unless it seems like someone is going to be injured). He does not like to perform without an audience.

I know how he feels. Or is this commentary really about EphBlog? Read it again and see for yourself.

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Which Word?

Great WSO post from Miles Klee.

I was reading this book full of trivia when I stumbled upon the excerpt below. It’d be a great thing to bring up in that part of the Williams tour where we assure prospective students that we aren’t competitive people:

The most trivial of disputes could provoke a [duel]. For example, when John Randolph, the swashbuckling congressman from Virginia, was enrolled at Williams College, he fought and wounded a fellow student over the pronounciation of a word.

That’s awesome (though it would be awesomer if we knew what the word was). If only Williams professors today would allow the same physical enactment of academic arguments, we might each get a chance to wail on that one Sophist bully that sits across from us in class. You know the one.

I am the one.

Is that a true story? I have my doubts. How many Virginians went to Williams before 1900? Can someone document it better? And what was the word?

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Freezing Man

Ethan Zuckerman ’93 builds stuff to amuse himself and others in western Massachusetts. And he takes pictures. You’ve heard of Burning Man? Go see Freezing Man.

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Photo ID, #76

I just thought these were really weird-looking. Does anyone know what they do, why they are shaped like this, or why there are four of them, other than that it looks neat?

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Gutted

AB ’07 writes in with sad news.

I thought you (and many other ephs) would be interested to know that as of this morning the Purple Pub, Subway and the new coffee shop, the perfect blend, were gutted by fire. The fire apparently started due to an electrical mishap in the Perfect Blend, which has been closed for renovations over Spring Break. Luckily the fire happened around 5am and no one was hurt.

Williamstown without the Purple Pub?! The mind reels. Mike Hackett ’04 notes this iBerkshires story.

This morning’s pre-dawn Spring Street fire is under investigation and has closed a trio of popular businesses indefinitely.

Town Fire Chief Craig Pedercini said that no cause has yet been determined for the fire that is believed to have started in a basement beneath the Perfect Blend coffee shop. The building, which also houses a Subway sandwich shop and the Purple Pub on Bank Street, is owned by Paresky family and is managed by Mark Paresky.

Is this the son of David Paresky ’60? I vaguely recall that the Paresky family is from Vermont, so perhaps the connection is a more distant one.

Purple Pub owner Mary Michel and pub manager Liz Chesbro were at the scene during the mid-morning.

“Devastating”

“This is devastating, it’s a business owner’s worst nightmare,” said Michel, who has operated the pub from the same location for 34 years.

“I have no idea when we can reopen.”

The pub interior does not appear to be severely damaged, she noted.
Michel said that she was notified of the fire by an employee who’d been contacted by her father about the fire.

Firefighters and police would not be expected to notify business owners of the blaze, Michel said and added “They were doing what they should be doing; fighting the fire.”

Michel said that pub employees ceased daily operations at about 12:30 a.m. and noticed nothing out of the ordinary at that time. Ross should be credited for his police investigation into the smell of smoke some three hours later, she said.

“He’s the one that saved the building,” Michel said.

Kudos to Officer Ross.

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Paresky, Chapin and a tow truck

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This concludes my Paresky photo series.

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Three Little Pigs

A (real) war story from Steve O’Grady ’68.

In the fall of 1968, the combined Anti-Tank and Recon platoons were sent on a forty mile trek to the site of the 106mm recoilless rifle range. Forty miles on dirt roads in a spleen numbing trip. We had a combined 9 Recoilless rifles mounted on jeeps and were given three 2 1/2 ton trucks to transport several hundred rounds of boxed 106mm rounds. The total complement of the two platoons was 56 men.

Read the whole thing. And give thanks to our Eph veterans. Now, more than ever.

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Nerve

A fun dispute on the other side of the world.

Nazis worried Roosevelt more

By JAY PASACHOFF
Tokyo

While in transit at Narita, I came across Mike Lidgley’s March 18 letter about Pearl Harbor, “Winning the geopolitical game?,” and the Feb. 24 article that it referred to, “Telling the truth at Yasukuni,” by Hisahiko Okazaki. I was so shocked by the article that I referred it to a distinguished colleague.

Here is the response from James McGregor Burns, professor of government emeritus at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom” (1971): “The Americans and the Japanese were involved in a typical Realpolitik in the Pacific with rival ambitions. As for who was the aggressor, (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt was far more concerned about Nazi conquests in Europe than he was about Japanese aggression. He neither planned nor wanted the Japanese attack. And I must say, aside from everything else, Mr. Okazaki has a nerve to make that statement when the Japanese conducted a long-planned, devastating attack on Oahu.”

See the original for links. Professor Pasachoff ought to blog with us. He has the necessary energy.

Budding historians should ponder what the analagous dispute will be 60 years from now.

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Back of Paresky at night

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Views of the loading dock and proximity to Morty’s house are below.

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Open Eph

Stephen O’Grady ’97 provides a useful overview of Open Source. Reading Stephen’s blog is a great way to stay up-to-date on all sorts of cool tech stuff. Also, some kooky alum has a (thankfully!) brief paper on “Open Source Finance.” Lukewarmly recommended.

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Lynch Leaving

Sad to read that Porfessor Marc Lynch is leaving Williams. Any Eph watching Marc’s stellar academic career unfold has been dreading that this day might come. Indeed, the main surprise is that Marc is not (yet?) moving to a higher tier university than George Washington. Is there anything that Williams could have done to keep him? Is there anything that Williams can do to keep the next Marc Lynch from leaving? Hard questions. Perhap Marc can provide some informed commentary.

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FBI Help

Stephen O’Grady ’97 needs help.

I’m a fan of the internet. I believe ardently in both free speech and personal freedom.

But there are times when I hate all of the above.

Just got off the phone with my mother and have been exchanging emails with my father, and frankly I am at sea. I cannot recall a single instance in my life to date in which I’ve felt this helpless. As nearly as I can determine, everything that can be done is being done. Out of respect for the privacy of the family involved, I’ll say only that a young cousin of mine is involved, and that my heart bleeds for her parents.

If any of you happen to have contacts in the FBI or with forensic technology investigators, I’d consider it a personal favor if you’d help me make a connection.

We could use all the help we can get right now.

There are Ephs in the FBI, but I don’t have easy access to their contact info. Perhaps someone else does. You can reach Stephen here.

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Super Fan

Heart-warming story about the latest Eph fan.

Talk to anyone of the 36 Ephs who went to New Orleans over Winter Study to work on hurricane relief and within five minutes the name of Doug Beatty pops up.

Beatty is a semi-retired, self-employed builder from Mio, MI, specializing in milled timber log homes and custom wood and log interiors and exteriors and he devotes a lot of my time to volunteering. He will return to the New Orleans area in late April.

Beatty was very impressed with the Ephs he met in the New Orleans area and he has stayed in touch and has become a super fan of the Ephs.

Read the whole thing.

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Mistakes Were Made

Interesting Q&A with Baltimore Oriole general manager Jim Duquette ’88.

After working in the New York Mets front office for 14 years, Jim Duquette, 40, was named the Orioles’ vice president for baseball operations on Oct. 20, 2005. A two-time All-New England selection as an outfielder at Williams College in Massachusetts, Duquette began his pro baseball career as an assistant to the Mets’ scouting and minor league departments in 1991. On June 12, 2003, he was named the Mets’ interim general manager; the interim tag was removed a little more than four months later. Duquette oversaw the development of current Mets stars Jose Reyes and David Wright, but also drew criticism for trading prospect Scott Kazmir, now one of the best young pitchers in the game, to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for pitcher Victor Zambrano.

We all make mistakes.

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All politics are local

One February 19, I posted a bit on the Steve Maier and the vote in Vermont (S.R. 11) to withdraw from Iraq. Today, it seems fitting to say, all politics are indeed, local.

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Entrance from Park Street

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Two other views of the back are below.

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EphBlogging Heads

If Dan Drezner ’90 can videoblog, then why not EphBlog? Which two regulars would readers most like to see in this format? I nominate: Aidan and Ken Thomas.

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Miller Time

Miller Time is Over, according to the Boston Globe, referring to the college career of Maggie Miller ’07.

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Reading Patterns

Compare our daily unique IP visitors for the week before spring break with the first week of spring break.

12 Mar, Mon 1,149
13 Mar, Tue 1,253
14 Mar, Wed 1,234
15 Mar, Thu 1,110
16 Mar, Fri 885

19 Mar, Mon 990
20 Mar, Tue 884
21 Mar, Wed 866
22 Mar, Thu 824
23 Mar, Fri 746

Apologies for the formatting. Last week was a little heavier than normal but not much. Why have we lost around 300 readers a day? The obvious answer is that this is the number of students who read EphBlog most days while at school but who don’t bother on vacation. [Good for them! — ed. Indeed.] Such a number is consistent with my previous analysis of the EphBlog readership. We have hundreds of campus readers (students/faculty/staff) and a similar number of off-campus readers (alumni/residents/parents). Most of these readers come to EphBlog regularly. Whether this is pathetic or impressive depends on your point of view.

By the way, Lionel Hutz reports:

It is unfortunate that the latest Alumni Review contained a full spread on blogging (albeit Williams professor blogging) with not even a mention of this “all things Eph” blog. How does EphBlog’s fearless leader respond to this apparent slight?

Good question! Was it Marc Lynch? Or Sam Crane? I haven’t seen the article. (Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the main reason that the Alumni Review even knew about that professor’s blog was via EphBlog.)

Anyway, part of me wants to write a very snarky letter to the editor. Suggestions welcome in the comments below. More Williams alumni read EphBlog in a typical day than have ever read any Williams professor’s blog. We are also, obviously, much more likely to be of interest to alumni. But, it will be a cold day in Hopkins Hall before any mention of EphBlog is made in an official college publication. And that’s a pity, rather than an outrage.

I don’t really blame the nice people at the Alumni Review. They have published me in the past. Just as a I don’t blame the nice people in the Office of Public Affairs for refusing to do a news release about CGCL. All of these folks work for the College. They have no incentive to make trouble, no reason to mention EphBlog as long as they think (reasonably, in my view) that there is a risk in so doing. Unless and until Morty decides that EphBlog is a force for good, and makes his views known, the College will continue to pretend that EphBlog does not exist.

I think that this is an unwise strategy. You want trouble-makers (especially successful ones) to be inside the tent pissing out, rather than outside the tent pissing in. If the College were smart, it would harness all the energy and readership of EphBlog rather than try to wall it out. The things that we are doing here represent the future of community building in elite education. When will the College see the light?

I don’t know. The longterm plan has always been to follow the field of dreams: Build it and they will come. Create an on-line community, a place where Ephs of all types and backgrounds come for news and conversation; write compelling contact; provide beautiful pictures; remind people of all the wonder that is a Williams education. Do that for long enough and, eventually, more Ephs will look to EphBlog for “All Things Eph” than look to any official Williams source.

Have we reached that stage yet? No. In fact, I don’t really want to. I am tired. Well into our fifth year, it might be nice to take a break, to focus on other things. So much of what we provide here (EphPlanet, Eph Blogroll, pictures and video, open discussion and debate, connections between students and alumni) ought to be provided by the College itself. I wish that they would take these tasks over, that they would realize the value of what we do and copy it. The College itself should be running EphBlog. I have given College officials endless advice (e.g., here and here) on how that might be done. Will they follow it? Perhaps.

More on all this some other time. And, as always, we welcome comments from our readers.

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#2 Excellent Son

Eric Smith ’99 has some naming advice.

I just had a package delivered and the guy pointed to my company name on the shipping label and said “Is this your name?”
I said, “It is the name of my company, and I own the company, if that is what you are asking – but it is not my name in a personal sense.”

He said “Ohhhh, okay, I thought it was your name.”

My company name starts with a number and is follow by an adjective, and that is it.

Of course you would think that was my name. My parents had a lot of kids and just named us sequentially.

Cool. By the way, Eric is doing more and more funny blogging. Is that a good sign for the health of his business? Extrapolating from my vast knowledge on the subject (N = 1), I say Yes!

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Flexibility

Someone is looking for help.

How Flexible is Williams’ Financial Aid Office

If you recieved a terrible package, would they willing to work with you in order to make your education affordable?

Good question. If you have experience negotiating with the financial aid office, tell us your story below.

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Eph podcaster checks in. (I’m a colossus?)

So, I fire up my computer this morning and I notice that the blog is getting a bit of action from EphBlog. So, I pop over here to see what is what, and boom, D. Kane has given me some props and called me a colossus. Which begs the question, can one be a small and modest colossus?

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Snack bar from Baxter Lawn

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A more typical, but blurrier, picture is below.

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Podcast Colossus

Chris Gondek ’90 is becoming a podcasting corporate colossus. He ought to announce some of the more interesting stories here. Almost everything has an Eph connection of some sort . . .

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Matching Penn

In the latest round of elite education price cuts, Penn has matched Harvard. (Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.)

Reinforcing its commitment to ease the financial burden on low- and-middle-income families and to continue to attract top students with diverse economic backgrounds, the University of Pennsylvania today announced a significant expansion of its financial-aid initiative for low- and middle-income families. Beginning this fall, Penn will replace loans with grants for students from high-need families earning less than $60,000.

The new income threshold builds on a program announced last year, which replaced loans with grants for eligible students from families earning less than $50,000.

I have forgotten. What level is Williams at on this measure? Morty reported at last year’s Boston alumni meeting that the trustees had discussed this topic. There was some feeling that Williams did not want to be a follower, did not want to just do what Harvard/Penn and others were already doing. At the same time, $60,000 is close to the median family income in the US. Shouldn’t students from such families be expected to borrow at least a little to fund their education? But Williams does not want to lose these students to Penn. Williams may be better than Penn, but is it $14,000 better?

Morty did not report the conclusion of those discussions. The Record ought to follow up. The Trustees come to town in Arpil.

“We want to send a clear message to families who may have felt that Penn was out of their reach that we are committed to supporting them as they seek to provide the best possible educational opportunities for their children,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “Promoting equality of opportunity for talented students from all backgrounds is a key mission for Penn, and we will continue to seek ways to reach out to these students.”

Excellent! So even if you graduate from Penn and go to work at Goldman Sachs, no worry on those student loans! Amy Gutmann doesn’t want you to have to worry about that Porsche down payment.

Since 1997-98, the percentage of the average freshman aid package met by grants has increased from 68 percent to 82 percent, while the average loan as a percentage of total aid has declined from 23 percent to 9 percent. The average freshman grant increased by 72 percent during the same period.

Roughly 40 percent of Penn freshmen receiving financial aid will have their need met without any expected student loan in 2007-2008.

Hmmm. This is not the same thing as claiming that 40% of the Penn freshmen on financial aid come from families with less than $60,000 in income.

More relevant to EphBlog would be the relevant trends at Williams. Perhaps HWC can help us out.

For the eighth year, Penn will continue the Summer Savings Waiver Program, which provides grants to offset the normal summer self-help work- contribution requirement of students who participate in unpaid or low-paying community-service or career-related activity during the summer.

I can’t think of a single summer boondoggle — oops! I mean “activity” — which couldn’t be spun as “career-related.” Hanging out at the beach all summer? No problem! That may be unpaid, but you are learning how to get along with strangers. Very career-related.

As usual, there is nothing wrong with the substance here. The competition for elite students is fierce and getting fiercer, especially for certain kinds of elite students. Places like Penn want more “poor” students to choose Penn over Williams. One way to accomplish this goal is price discrimination, to make Penn cheaper for these sorts of students.

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Eph Parking

OK, what ’05’s black Jetta TDI (Dodd tags, Connecticut plates) is parked in front of my white GLS? Your interior lights are on.

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Whitman’s dining area from outside

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Spotless Vouchers

Brother Spotless writes:

Public school education is just one of the many realities that hold our people back from a prosperous future. This issue is far too complex for me to believe that I have all of the answers. I am in this struggle with you, and as President of Black America, I want your input.

Are vouchers the way to go?

Yes.

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BiGP

Is there an EphBlog reader who can help with this question?

Bioinformatics Genomics and Proteomics

Can anyone contemplating BiGP at Williams or possibly even going through it at Williams please comment on what attracts them to this at Williams and the pros and cons they may have researched….?

Good question! I am a fan of BiGP even though I don’t know anything about it. Computational/statistical approaches to genetics are a growth area and, given Williams’s strength in MATH/STAT, a natural place for the College to focus. How is it going?

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One Drop Zendo

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This “Ice House” (now visible from the expansion of Weston field) is a place of youthful discovery. Before the Weston field expansion, it sat back in the woods, a safe haven for teenage partying in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. Then its roof rotted and caved in. Four decades of graffiti are etched into its stone walls.

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