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1988 Yearbook: Page 8

Click below for full image: a pretty snow-clad hillside. But where was the photographer standing? Read more


Fight The Man

Is Dean Merrill stocking up on the tear gas?

Tonight (THURSDAY), we’re staying in Paresky after hours. The administration thinks that we, the students, don’t care about having our student center open 24/7 for our use. If you want to be able to sit in Paresky late into the night during the semester, come show your support at tonight’s sit-in.

Stop by tonight for a little while or a long while. DVD or board game in hand. Pretend spring semester hasn’t started yet or get a jump start on this semester’s reading! Or just socialize with whoever else you happen to find in Paresky throughout the night.
Support the cause! We deserve our student center!

Who says kids today aren’t idealistic?

Best strategy for the Administration is to totally ignore this and not try to lock up tonight, or for the next few nights. Then, once the students have moved on, just start locking the doors again.

Once the Administration does that, best strategy for the students is to ensure that at least of their number is in Paresky at the lock-up time (2:00 AM) and refuses to leave. After a few weeks of that, the Administration might give up. See the Record for background reading.

UPDATE: Are you a Record reporter? Make sure to read Jonathan Landsman’s comment below.

However, 24 hour access to the new student center was a feature of it, a promise made about it by administrators at all levels—I heard this personally from Morty, Dean Roseman, a number of times.

Did Morty and Roseman “promise” that the student center would be open 24/7? It’s an empirical question. Go ask them. And, if the try to weasel out with a non-response, call Landsman and confirm. Promises should be kept.


Undergraduates Everywhere Ignoring DDF’s Advice

The WSJ reports that, in spite of EphBlog’s tireless efforts, love is, in fact, dead:

Remember the movie “Love Story” and its star-crossed student lovers? Such torrid campus romances may be becoming a thing of the past. College life has become so competitive, and students so focused on careers, that many aren’t looking for spouses anymore.

Replacing college as the top marital hunting ground is the office. Only 14% of people who are married or in a relationship say they met their partners in school or college, says a 2006 Harris Interactive study of 2,985 adults; 18% met at work. That’s a reversal from 15 years ago, when 23% of married couples reported meeting in school or college and only 15% cited work, according to a 1992 study of 3,432 adults by the University of Chicago.

Gone are the days when sororities and dorms marked engagements with candle-passing ceremonies while men serenaded beneath the windows.

Seriously, when did people ever do that?

If you’re a parent, as I am, you may be wondering what all this means. Such sordid campus-life portrayals as Tom Wolfe’s “I Am Charlotte Simmons” aside, the news about students’ social lives isn’t all bad. To be sure, the “hookup culture” — the campus trend toward casual sexual behavior, usually linked with alcohol and no expectations of a continuing relationship — is rife. Some 76% of college students have engaged in hookups, which usually stop short of intercourse, according to a study of 4,000 students by Stanford University sociology professor Paula England.

And this is different from the ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s how? If anything, students are a great deal more prudish now than they were 30 years ago, and they’re much more concerned about staying safe than the generation that brought us the sexual revolution. Plus ça change…


1988 Yearbook: Page 7

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1988 Yearbook: Page 6

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1988 Yearbook: Page 5

Click below for full image (includes nice sunset and view of Pine Cobble). Can you identify the building pictured? Read more


Purple Bull Investment Club

Hey All,    I am quite new to the blog scene, but with Dave’s help, I am posting the Purple Bull Investment Club Portfolio.  For those of you who don’t know, we are an investment club here at Williams.  The group was started 3 years ago as a way for Williams students to research and invest in the stock market.  Seeing how we have so many successful Ephs in the financial world, but no real finance training here at Williams, I believe this group is a great starting point for many students.   Each member is required to contribute $500 and we work together to invest the money.  More than the profits, we are more concerned with the educational aspect of investing.  Anyhow, I have posted our current holdings.  Please note that we also have a strong cash holding, nearly 5k.  Basically, we would appreciate any advice you have on our current holdings or perhaps some things we should consider buying.  Our goal is to try to establish a conversation between more knowledgeable Ephs and the Club.  Thanks in advance for your time and help! CAT; DFS; FRO; MS; NYB; PFE; TRST; WM; WYNN; YHOO   


1988 Yearbook: Page 4

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Suriyapa ’88 to Veracode

Seksom Suriyapa ’88 is moving to Veracode:

Veracode Inc., provider of the industry’s first on-demand application security testing solutions, announced today the appointment of Seksom Suriyapa as the company’s senior vice president of business development. A veteran of several successful businesses with a high-profile background in security, Suriyapa will assume responsibility for global business development at Veracode.

Suriyapa will drive Veracode’s business development strategy, including opportunities with outsourcing providers, managed security service providers and system integrators. With over 10 years of experience working with enterprise software companies, he brings strong market understanding and expertise to Veracode.

“This is a challenging and uncertain time for businesses as the severity of security threats against applications increases, while corporate security budgets tighten,” commented Suriyapa. “However, Veracode offers a unique value proposition to those organizations that are required to do more with less by offering multiple code testing techniques, as a service, from one vendor. I look forward to working with those organizations to extend their value proposition to allow them to protect the application infrastructures of their enterprise customers from the software security vulnerabilities that put those businesses at risk.”

Perhaps Seksom can provide a translation for we non-techs at reunion.


1988 Yearbook: Page 3

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Bridge At Williams, 2001-2005 and after

When a friend forwarded me a link to the recent article in the New York Times spotlighting Williams Bridge, I was all revved up to make sure the story made it to ephblog. Who better to break the news than one of the club’s former devotees? Then I saw that it had already been linked—in an itty bitty mention at the end of Jeff Z’s Athletics Round Up. Well, Jeff, that just won’t do. This story is getting prime billing, and will be used as another excuse for me to deposit a few more Williams memories into this site, this time from the point of view of someone who learned and taught bridge at Williams and saw its level of play reach what I believe was a peak since its last heyday over a decade ago, maybe longer.

Mind you when I say “peak” I am using the term in the New England skiing context, or as a mathematician might say a “local maximum.” We’re still talking about bridge, and that means we weren’t ever packing Goodrich hall. But by my junior year, we did have enough interest to run both a beginner’s class during Winter Study and a handful of semesterly tournaments, not to mention get covered in a paper that, if not the Times, was still national news. We also always had weekly social bridge nights, which is really when most of the learning for everyone happened, and when all of the learning happened every year before we and Frank Morgan started teaching formal classes. For me, the “peak” of bridge was when social bridge night had a record attendance one night of 28 players: enough to pack two common rooms in Currier, with 7 simultaneous games, enough to be a fire hazard.

Winter Study Bridge Club 2004

This is a picture from that night in January 2004. In the upper left is a table of people who had just learned that night, mingled with Dave, shuffling, who was in Morgan’s class at the time. Top center you can see two players from the third game in the hall, the fire hazard. The foreground game was historic: Elaine is holding up and pointing to the strongest hand I have ever seen from a true deal. She herself had 20 high card points and a void, translating to an ability to take at least 8 tricks out of 13 all by herself (the average hand in bridge takes about 3 tricks. A hand of Elaine’s value is dealt 8 out of every 1000 deals). Her partner had over ten high card points, which meant they were able to take all 13 tricks, called a “grand slam.”

What follows is a “brief” overview (think Ken Thomas brief) of bridge at Williams and after, as I know it.
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1988 Yearbook: Page 2

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1988 Yearbook: Page 1

As noted previously, we will be posting pages from the 1988 Gulielmensian twice a day, at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM, from now till reunion. Thanks to Ronit for suggesting that the pictures themselves, which can take some time to load, are posted below the break. Readers are invited to submit their comments, memories and questions in the thread for each scan.

Technical readers will note that the images are stored at locations like:

You can check out other photos before we post them by replacing “001” with some other page number.

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Fly Me To Boca

Chilly day in Williamstown, with a low of 19 degrees. Much better to be in Boca Raton, Florida, sunny and 74 degrees. And, as luck would have it, Boca is just where the Executive Committee (EC) of the Society of Alumni is meeting this week-end.

Perhaps hypocrisy’s name is Boca, not Gulfstream.

I have few problems with folks, like the Williams administration and trustees, who make a big deal of global warming, carbon emissions and sustainability. Their holy trinities are for them to choose.

I have few problems with folks whose carbon emissions are not influenced by green shibboleths. If you want to fly all around the country or build a factory in China, then that’s your business. Although I could imagine scenarios in which externalities start to become important, the science seems too weak and the political possibilities too limited to worry about that just now. And, if it will make my friends at TNG happy, I am more than ready for massive carbon taxes as long as similarly-sized cuts are made elsewhere, thereby keeping federal revenue/spending at current levels.

My problem is with folks who do both, folks like the Williams administration. If you really believe that carbon emissions are a huge problem, then you should not be scheduling meetings in Boca that could just as easily take place in Williamstown. The hypocrisy is pathetic.

The arguments against this claim are like fish in my barrel. See below for the shooting.
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Global Warming Solutions and Herding Cats

FTN logo WilliamsHolding a big event at Williams is like herding cats. In an institution run by independent and motivated professors and administrators, getting collaboration and consensus is very difficult. That is why I’m very proud to announce plans for Focus the Nation, an event which really will capture the attention of the entire school, at least for a day.

A little background on Focus the Nation: conceived of and promoted by Eban Goodstein ’80, this day-long symposium for global warming solutions will take place at over 1500 schools, churches and businesses across the country. Held on Jan. 31st nationally, the eve of super Tuesday, the goal is to engage 5 million citizens in active and intelligent conversations about global warming solutions.

The classic problem in any sort of activism is that when you throw an event, only the people who are interested come. In order to address this age old problem, we’re going to the students. Starting in September, we embarked on a campaign to speak to every single faculty member individually and ask for some or all of class time on February 5th to discuss climate change from the stance of their department. To speak to over 300 faculty is a big project, and I applaud Meredith Annex ’11 and Martin Sawyer ’08 who have coordinated those efforts.

ftn logo nationalIts paying off. Currently over 60 faculty will use between 5 minutes and all of their class time to talk about where their passion for a better world intersects with their discipline and subject matter. And more new commitments are coming in every day. We’ve actually been surprised at how many faculty are genuinely eager to participate in an event that addresses a big issue and uses their particular strengths. Maybe it’s not that surprising after all.

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James Carville Disses Williams

What’s up with this random diss (I think?) of Williams students from James Carville?  Good thing I’m already an Obama supporter:

James Carville, Mr. Clinton’s political strategist in 1992, said that the jousting between the two camps had hardly turned toxic, and that the stakes of this election were too high to have a milquetoast campaign.

“This is not Williams College students electing a commencement speaker. This is a huge deal,” Mr. Carville said. “Does the president risk going overboard? Sure. But Obama runs a risk of being wussified.”


Athletics Round Up

Lots of interesting Eph sports-related news of late.  First, today is the Amherst vs. Williams hoops double-header, take two.  See previous discussion of this rivalry here.  Last time, both Jeffs squads emerged victorious, but Williams has the home court advantage today.  The Ephs are slight underdogs in both contests (Amherst women are undefeated, and the men are ranked third in the country), but will be looking for payback.  Speaking of basketball, two recent news stories featured future Eph ballers Jordan Mickens and Brian EmersonEmerson was on last year’s Boston Globe all-scholastic super team.   

Second, Will Bruce won the Wooden Cup.  This is an absolutely incredible accomplishment recognizing the most outstanding role model in all levels of college athletics.

Third, a few weeks back Dave Clawson ’89 was appointed offensive coordinator of the University of Tennessee football squad.  In light of his prior success as a head coach, if he performs well in this high-profile (and very high-pressure) role, he is sure to ascend to a big-time Division I head coaching position. 

Finally, today’s NYTimes has a feature on bridge-playing Eph undergrads, led by the legendary Frank Morgan.  No word on whether they successfully employed Morgan’s famous “soap bubble gambit” strategy … Chris Willenken of the great class of 1997 is often featured in the NYTimes for his bridge acumen. 


RFC on Yearbook Posts

Longtime readers will recall that, five years ago, we generated interest for the class of 1988’s 15th year reunion by posting scans from the 1988 Gulielmensian, the College’s yearbook. (Examples here and here.) In keeping with EphBlog’s Kaizen program of constant small improvements, we will be scanning in the entire yearbook and presenting readers with a new page each day, starting sometime next week. Here is an example:

I am interested in reader preferences on how this should be done. For example, we could step through the book page-by-page or randomly. We could show the picture in full-form (as above) or as a smaller thumbnail. We could post the picture in the main thread (as here) or force readers to click on the “read more” option to view it, thereby not cluttering the other posts. We could close comments on these threads or invite reader memories on the people and events pictured.

I make no promises on what we plan to do (and, certainly, the class of 1988 reunion committee will have a say as well), but feedback is always welcome. Note that we plan to do the same with the class’s facebook. (Yes, little Ephs, before there was Facebook, there were facebooks.)


Your Color Preferences?

Today is color/font/organization day at EphBlog! Genius Daniel will soon chime in with a comment about what colors we have access to and how different items are colored together. Obviously, this ugly pail shade of green that you see everywhere will need to go. Also, links will need to be easier to find. Other suggestions welcome. We will be experimenting throughout the day. Apologies for all the changes, but, if you see something you like, please let us know.

UPDATE: Thoughts on Eph Planet are also welcome.


Merit Aid at Harvard

New Record editor-in-chief Kevin Waite ’09 provides a solid overview of the debate surrounding recent financial aid changes at Harvard and Yale. Read the whole thing but, for now, I just want to comment on the opening sentence.

Beginning next year, a Harvard student whose family earns $180,000 will only have to pay $18,000 of the school’s $45,600 sticker price.

Always bad to start a news article with an untrue statement. Former Record editor Mike Needham ’04 must be weeping from his aerie high in the rapidly imploding Giuliani campaign. I am almost positive that Harvard has never made this claim, although they have said things like this in a misleading fashion. Shame on them!

First, do you really believe that a first year student in the class of 2012 with $300,000 in a 529 fund which can only be used for education expenses is going to get away with only paying Harvard $18,000? Hah! The student/family would, of course, like to save that money for graduate school or devote it (after penalty?) to some other expense. (What are the rules on unused money from 529s?) The key distinction that Waite misses is between money which belongs to the student and money which belongs to the parents. Harvard has done nothing, I think, about the former. If you have non-trivial amounts of money in your 18 year-old name, Harvard will want it. All of it. See previous discussion here and here. (Click on those links if you are a new reader. Good stuff!)

Second, there is a difference between paying $18,000 on average and “only” $18,000 at most. Harvard wants people to be confused, as Waite is, about whether the $18,000 is a maximum for all families with $180,000 in income or an average across all of them. Do you really think that a billionaire family with low income one year will get away with only spending $18,000? No. Harvard wants to know both how much money you made this year and how much wealth you have. Note how Harvard phrases things:

Harvard’s new financial aid policy dramatically reduces the amount families with incomes below $180,000 will be expected to pay. Families with incomes above $120,000 and below $180,000 and with assets typical for these income levels will be asked to pay 10 percent of their incomes.

I predict that a lot of families with incomes in this range will be quite upset about how Harvard defines “typical” in that sentence.

But those are quibbles. Waite’s article is still worth reading. And, can we finally agree that it is intellectually dishonest for schools like Harvard (and Williams) to pretend that they don’t give merit aid? If you define “need” to include families with incomes of $180,000, then you are no longer speaking English.


A moronic idea from Congress? Say it ain’t so!

Bloomberg reports:

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) — Two U.S. senators asked the 136 wealthiest colleges, led by Harvard and Yale universities, for details on their endowments and spending on financial aid.

A letter released today by Democrat Max Baucus of Montana and Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa asks the schools to provide information on student aid, the cost of attendance, tuition increases and endowment spending over the last 10 years.

Since September, members of Congress have called on schools to increase spending from their funds, suggesting a minimum of 5 percent of assets annually. Endowments in the U.S. and Canada grew 21 percent, to a record $411.2 billion on June 30, while the level of spending stayed steady at 4.6 percent of assets, according to a study released today.

“We need to start seeing tuition relief for families,” said Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s fair to ask whether a college kid should have to wash dishes in the dining hall to pay his tuition when his college has a billion dollars in the bank.”

Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the question of what business, if any, Congress has in deciding private college spending rates, or the fact that elite private colleges are already falling over each other to offer generous financial aid to middle-class students. Let’s not even mention that Harvard and Yale have recently taken the lead in redefining “middle class” to mean anyone poor and downtrodden enough to not have their own hedge fund portfolio.

Ignore the question of whether menial work-study jobs might play any role in building positive work habits or have some other helpful attributes. Clearly, it should be a national priority for our legislators to help kids avoid any resemblance of physical work.

What offends me is not the sheer authoritarian chutzpah involved in a government-mandated spending program, but rather that the statements made by the Senators reveal an astonishing combination of arrogance and ignorance regarding financial markets and what we may expect of them in the future.

To be fair, college endowments have had, in aggregate, a good year or two recently – 21% is nothing to sneeze at. However, given that the top performers – Yale and Harvard – also already had the largest endowments, it would appear that most of the 136 wealthiest colleges are earning well under the supposed 21% rate. Surely there must be many colleges who have mediocre portfolio managers, or, even worse, perhaps their endowments (like Williams College’s until recently) are managed part-time by well-meaning trustees. There is a limited supply of investment talent out there, and not everyone in the US can hire David Swensen.

More importantly, the Senators’ statement ignores the fundamental fact that endowments have a technically infinite lifespan. One good year doth not a permanent increase in expenditures allow. Unlike almost any other kind of investor, college endowments really do have to think for the very, very long term. There will be many years, perhaps even this one, where 2007’s outsize returns will be balanced out by mediocre or negative returns.

An endowment needs to earn enough, over the long term, to meet its expected annual withdrawals and inflation. Given a 4.6% spending rate, and an average of 3-4% inflation, this means that endowments have to reliably earn a total return of at least 7.5% over the long run simply in order to stay afloat – never mind asset growth. And, in fact, the largest US pension fund targets an annual total return of 7.5%. So this seems to be a decent benchmark.

Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 has returned 5.46%, annualized. Now, any acquaintance with the market, which I realize Congressmen are not expected to have, will tell you that consistently beating the index by 300 basis points over the long run is extremely hard to do. Adding on another 50 basis points to expected withdrawals is a non-trivial increase, and there is no evidence that college endowment managers, as a group, are able to generate that much alpha. A smart endowment manager would hang on to the abnormal return of the last few years and store it in a safe place away from the reaches of myopic and populist legislators.

An increase in spending ratios driven by temporary outsize return is a recipe for disaster, or at least disappointment, as the spending programs created by the boom years will have to be scaled back when a fallow season hits, as it inevitably will. At this point, anyone who expects the returns of the last 3-4 years to continue indefinitely into the future is either a liar or a fool.

Recommended reading: Hedgehogging, by Barton Biggs, in addition to being an entertaining look at the world of the portfolio manager, features an excellent chapter on David Swensen and the many pitfalls faced by the Yale endowment over the last 150 years.


Deployed Ephs – Update

We are still at one deployed Eph.

It only takes a regular stamp to send him a letter of (apolitical) support!

John Bozeman

MITT 0730

Unit 42719

APO AE 96426-2719


Here’s a great (and short) link.

One of our deployed Ephs wrote about the Gratitude Campaign that “I have personally seen this at the Baltimore airport, sent a chill (but a good one) down my back!”

Thanks for your support of our deployed Ephs,

Stewart Menking ’79


CGCL – Chapter 5, “Spirit in the Age of Science”


Kronman describes science through the research ideal, then draws a comparison to technology. He argues we use technology to increase out power and defy fate, but that it ultimately obscures understanding of the world. Social science is likewise dominated by the research ideal, with Economics leading the charge.

However, the humanities have no such guide, and Kronman paints that field as lost and weak, especially since the field’s instructors have PhDs from large research universities. This, he says, has led to the rise of fundamentalism, which currently has no counter in the world. Kronman hopes that Secular Humanism will enjoy a resurgence in humanities departments, again providing instruction in the meaning of life.
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More Technical Updates

The hard-working staff at EphBlog central is trying to improve your EphBlog experience here at our new WordPress home. Previous posts on this topic here, here and here. Special shout-out to genius intern Michael’s older brother Daniel. For a start, you should now have an automatic preview when you type a comment. Give it a try! We have also expanded the number of recent comments to 10, per reader request. For those who want all the details, below is a rough version of our current to-do list.

In terms of suggestions, I am most interested in discussion of specific WordPress themes which readers like. (WordPress themes govern the generic look and feel of a site, things like colors, font sizes, comment location and so on.) So, if you know of one that you think would work well for EphBlog, let us know in the comments. Ideally, you can link to a blog which uses that theme and which other readers can check out. Our goal is to avoid creating all sorts of special hacks of our own which we need to maintain going forward. Instead, there should be a theme whose default behavior is one that EphBlog readers like, at least on average.

Note that this list includes all sorts of unintelligible back-and-forth dialog among various people. But those who want to see how the sausage is made can look below.
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History of MassPirg at Williams

Eric Soskin ’99 wrote last year (and I misplaced his e-mail).

I was looking through the old posts about MassPirg that you linked in your post the other day, and saw the one in which you posted David La ’01’s recollections about the 1998 vote to end the term-bill checkoff system that supported them. Eric Smith ’99 posted a couple of additional memories in the comments to that post, but both of them mentioned that they really weren’t paying attention. I was a little more involved in the fight, so I have a few additional recollections that might help complete the EphBlog record (I would comment on the ’04 post, but it doesn’t seem possible).

– In the ’90s, MassPirg’s funding system required “recertification” by a majority vote of students every two years. The 1996 vote was very close — 52%-48% in favor, or 54%-46%. That year, MassPirg supporters (or maybe their paid organizers?) agreed to debate opponents in conjunction with the debate between College Council president candidates. I believe MassPirg debated Tushar Shah ’96 and Mike Fransella ’98, who scored points in the debate but ultimately allowed MassPirg to get the final word in with an elegantly-prepared “Save MassPirg” mailing to all SU boxes on the day of the election.

– In 1998, Fransella then took a leading role in the effort to change MassPirg’s funding system. With help from volunteers from the Garfield Republicans, he emphasized the inequity of the unique funding system and covered the campus in posters emphasizing the MassPirg coordinator’s salary (over $16,000 a year), and encouraging students to “Support the environment, not professional lobbyists.” (I have one of these posters in a scrapbook from Williams, hence the quote).

– In contrast to 1996, MassPirg declined to take part in a debate. Although there was a semi-uncontested slate for co-presidents of College Council (a write-in campaign was the only opposition), the MassPirg vote managed a respectable turnout, and the term-bill checkoff lost 735-381.

– Subsequently, there were a number of debates in College Council over related issues, like whether a majority of all enrolled students should be required in a vote to reinstate a term-bill opt-out, and what extent MassPirg should be granted access to shared facilities intended for student organizations.

Because of MassPirg’s hyperbole about how important they were and how rare it was for anyone to challenge their tax system, winning the vote was pretty thrilling, probably more than the occasion merited. Still, I have always counted it as a mark of Williams students’ good sense.

Thanks to Eric for sharing these memories. Other veterans of the MassPirg Wars, in whatever era and on whichever side, are welcome to comment. Previous coverage here.


Lawrence on Chapter 4: Political Correctness

Anthony Kronman ’68 wants to know why you haven’t been participating in our Winter Study seminar, our cross-generational community of learning, on his book, Education’s End.

For day 5, we have comments from Williams trustee Frederick Lawrence `77 on chapter 4: Political Correctness. Note that Dean Lawrence has kindly provided an overview of Kronman’s argument, so feel free to chime in even if you have not done the reading. It is Winter Study after all . . .

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Looking for questions about Privacy in the 21st C.

Next month’s (Feb 2008) podcast for MIT Press is going to be different from the previous shows. Instead of separate interviews, I will be leading a discussion about the nature of privacy in the 21st century with Marc Rotenberg, Director of of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and co-editor of Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape and Susan Landau, Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems and co-author of Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption. MIT Press wants to include the public in on the discussion, so if you’d like to send a question along for me to ask either Mr. Rotenberg or Ms. Landau, send it along to publicity at mitpress dot mit dot edu. Please include your name and where you are writing from. The show will be recorded on Friday, Feb. 1st and be released that next week. Thanks.


The Lost Promise of Civil Rights

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, here is an interview I did last spring for Harvard with Risa Goluboff of the University of Virginia. Her book The Lost Promise of Civil Rights talks about how the struggle for political equality took energy away from the struggle for economic equality that quite a few civil rights cases of the 1940’s were trying to achieve. It runs 12:15.


Long May She Reign

Although the quality of WSO has dropped off in the last couple of years, the kids still post some gems. Consider Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White (alas, not an Eph). What is the book about?

Meg Powers is the daughter of the President of the United States. She’s about to enter her first year of college. She’s living through the worst year of her life.

Last June Meg was kidnapped by terrorists – brutalized, starved, and left for dead. She was shackled in a deserted mine shaft and had to smash the bones in her own hand to escape.

Meg Powers survived the unthinkable, the stuff of nightmares. Her terrorist captor is still at large. But still she must live each day. Ahead of her is the grueling physical therapy to heal her broken body; the challenge of leaving the safety of the White House for her freshman year at college. But harder still than the physical and social challenges ahead are her shattered sense of herself and her family. Will she ever forgive her mother, the President, for her “can not, have not and will not negotiate with terrorists” stance – even when it came to her own daughter?

And more difficult still, can Meg forgive herself for having the strength, the intelligence and the wit to survive?

Sounds like my sort of Eph woman. Does the readership for this book overlap that of EphBlog? If so, give us some details!


Braddock an Eph?

We have long speculated that protagonist of The Graduate is an Eph. Does the sequel provide proof?

“Home School” by Charles Webb is the sequel to the popular novel “The Graduate,” written in 1963 and made into what is now a classic film in 1967, starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katherine Ross — and directed by Mike Nichols.

The story focuses on 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock, a recent graduate of Massachusetts’ Williams College. He goes home to Pasadena where he meets Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father’s business partner. When she tries to seduce him (nude scene and all), he is shocked — but returns later and initiates an affair with her.

(Actually, Hoffman was 29 at the time while the allegedly much older Anne Bancroft was 35.)

When he meets her daughter, Elaine Robinson, he falls in love with her. That ends dramatically when the affair is discovered. Elaine becomes engaged to a more acceptable young man, but Benjamin can’t get her out of his mind — so he drives a horrendous distance to reach the church in time to stop the wedding.

He is not in time to stop it — but he runs away with Elaine anyway — to the accompaniment of the also famous Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack (“Mrs. Robinson” was the hit single), and the marriage is annulled.

This is the first time that I have ever seen it stated as fact that Braddock, like Webb ’61, is a graduate of Williams. Neither the orginal book nor movie make that claim directly, although the book begins with a line about Braddock graduating from a small college in June. Previous speculation here, and note the part about Mrs. Robinson being inspired, at least in name, by an Eph mom. Was there a Robinson in the class of 1961? We need to get to the bottom of that story.


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