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The more I think about it …


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True Privilege

Interesting discussion on WSO about at article that we discussed on EphBlog. Ellen Song writes:

I was basically with the same group of kids between 1st and 5th grade. There were very few native-born Americans in my class. In fifth-grade, an entire third of my class was composed just of first or second-generation Korean kids. Not to mention other Asian students like the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian, and Latino students. Our teachers were pretty decent, though, despite the NYC shortage of teachers and relative underpay, at least in our “gifted” class, which was the level I experienced all my years at this elementary school. I was lucky to have had the ability to take an exam to test into a similar “gifted” junior high school, and escape the worse conditions of our local junior high school. In all my years of junior high, I didn’t witness a single fight or drug deal. My brother, who attended my neighborhood junior high, has seen otherwise. My “gifted” school was, fortunately, free.

And lucky me (and my brother as well), for testing into a *free* “gifted” high school as well, and so avoiding the neighborhood high school with its lower graduation rate, higher drug rate, fewer advanced programs, etc. etc. During high school, my friends were from various walks of life, which I wouldn’t have really experienced at either my neighborhood high school, or an “elite” private school on, say, the Upper East Side. One of my closest friends lives in a beautiful 4 story brownstone in a prosperous Brooklyn neighborhood and has professional parents. Another of my best friends lives in a one-bedroom apartment in inner Queens, and his closest neighborhood buddy is a notorious, young drug-dealer in the area. We all took the same AP courses, we all had the same teachers. Both are among the smartest people from my free, gifted, inner-city high school, yet neither was accepted into the various schools I’d been accepted to. They are in no ways inferior to me. My best friend from high school had a recommendation written by our principal (no small feat in an overworked public school of over 4000 students), had a GPA that was decently higher than mine, took only the most difficult courses, was given the utmost respect by faculty and fellow students, was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in the yearbook… yet this person is attending a public college here. In no ways is he less intelligent than I, but this is what life has given him.

I say I’m lucky, because who’s to say that things couldn’t have gone the other way for me? Maybe I would’ve never gone to my particular junior high (had my 5th grade teacher not been attentive), which would set me up for my high school, which is where I became the person who was accepted by Williams and similar places.

Being back home has reminded me of what I have at Williams. My [largely immigrant, lower socioeconomic] neighbors have never heard of Williams. When I tell them I’m an English major, they look at me perplexed, as if to say “Why?” because it’s not very practical for people who grow up here… not something like, say, business management or information technology. When I go to the supermarket, the Bangladeshi cashier who has watched me grow for the past 10 years looks at me proudly; her brother-in-law, who runs the bodega across the street, tells me that there are so few other kids like me in this neighborhood, and that he’s glad to see me doing things with my life. As I ride the overhead subway, I see all the graffiti (many of the artists are likely my brothers’ friends) I’d taken for granted over the years, and I realize that I’m probably one of the only people in my subway car to receive a college education. Or speak English fluently, for that matter.

Amid all this, I’m reminded of the elitism at Williams, and how different my life probably is from most of my classmates’. Not in a bad way, certainly, because I feel like I have a perspective that not everyone has (not to say that anyone else’s viewpoint is less valuable, of course) and it can really, truly, help me appreciate what I am receiving at a prestigious institution. I’m not ashamed of my background – even at dinner at my professors’ house, where many of my classmates were speaking of the corporate or professional jobs their parents had, and I couldn’t say the same about my family- because it’s just not something I could or would change at this point in my life.

I wonder how many people think as I do. I wonder how many people sit in Paresky or inside Schow, actively and consciously thinking, “It is a true privilege to be here, with these people.” But it doesn’t matter how many other people are thinking this way, I guess. Not really, because it won’t change the fact that I’m thinking it.

Good stuff. In my experience, the ability to recognize how lucky you are is not correlated with wealth. Williams is a privilege for all of us.



Peter Nunns ’08 worries about military popularity and military coups.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that, in America, the military is far and away the most popular institution.

Shortly after Argentina became democratic, with universal male suffrage in 1916, it fell prey to six military coups between 1930 and 1976. The first unseated Hipólito Yrigoyen’s Radical government and installed a conservative oligarchy, the second, in 1943, unseated the oligarchy and, after three years of military rule, restored power to the elected populist Juan Perón. After the unraveling of Perón’s popular coalition, the military deposed and exiled him in 1955, restoring power to his “class enemies.” They intervened again in 1962, but stood by when democracy was restored in 1973, resulting in the return of Perón’s Partida Justicialista. Three years later, the military took over for good, plunging the country into seven years of brutal dictatorship.

In each of these instances, a political or economic crisis – the Great Depression, a slump in export earnings, internal guerrilla warfare, etc – called the legitimacy of the standing government into question. When the military stepped in at these points, they were a popular institution carrying out the will of (a certain subset of) the people.

We have not undergone such a disastrous experiment with military rule, and our military is, as the polls show, the most trusted institution in the country. It would not be entirely erroneous to comment that conditions are ripening for a repeat of the Argentine experience.

Indeed. Read the whole things. Although Peter’s politics are different from my own on some dimensions, we share a concern about civilian/military relations. Fortunately, there is an easy solution: Close the military academies. Instead of having thousands of future military leaders spend their college years separated from civilian life, have these future officers attend elite colleges and universities around the country. Dramatically increase the size of ROTC classes at places like Princeton, Brown, Amherst and so on. If the future American elite of both the military and civilians worlds spent their college years together, a coup 20 years later would be much less likely.


Tough Yet Vulnerable

Which Eph has been seen by tens of millions of people in the last week? Monique Curnen ’92, playing Detective Anna Ramirez in “The Dark Knight.” Background reading here and here.

Give Batman attitude? Those who try don’t live to tell about it. But feisty Hollywood up-and-comer Monique Curnen defies that certainty in the new summer blockbuster, “The Dark Knight.”

Confronting the caped crusader (Christian Bale) in one tense scene, the raven-haired newcomer who stands up to Batman says the moment was fun but intense.

“I’m just grateful it came on my last day of shooting,” says Curnen. “I wasn’t daunted by Christian any longer. Believe me. He was very intimidating in that Batman suit, especially up close and in your face.”

As Det. Ramirez, the tough yet vulnerable rookie cop who helps Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) clean up Gotham City, Curnen joins a cast of conflicted characters born from the darkest recesses of the human psyche in this follow-up to 2005’s “Batman Begins.”

Thanks to Curnen’s suitemate Laura Lim Prescott ‘92 for the links.


Hey, Lighten up. It’s summertime …

I’m sure Heinz and BBDO didn’t consult  Garrison Keilor’s Ketchup Advisory Board/Mayo Speciality Group.

But I like to believe that both liberals and conservatives can agree on that great taste! Has Bill Kristol ever said “Hold the Mayo”?


Eph Serial Killer?

Now, this is taking the rivalry a little too far. In the latest novel from Amherst alum Harlan Coben, the villain is an Eph:

The detective comes into the story because there has been a particularly brutal, sadistic murder that, from all appearances, has nothing to do with all the other conflicts the author explores. And when a woman vanishes after a shopping trip to Target, the police wonder if a serial killer is on the loose.

The reader knows (but the police don’t, at least initially) that there’s a strong connection between the murder and the disappearance of the shopper, although the exact nature of that connection unravels slowly.

In the meantime, the reader learns a great deal about the backgrounds of the killer (oddly enough, a graduate of prestigious Williams College) and his partner, a woman who was traumatized by the brutality that accompanied the disintegration of her former country, Yugoslavia.

Perhaps it is time for Stephen Sondheim to write a sequel to Sweeney Todd set in the five college area?


Blatt ’85 on Shipley ’85

Dan Blatt recalls his classmate David Shipley.

When I first read that my Williams classmate David Shipley had taken over as Op-Ed editor of the New York Times, I saw it as a sign of improvement on the editorial page of the Old Gray Lady. Even though David had worked in the Clinton Administration, I had always known him as an even-handed, level-headed kind of guy. At college, he never showed any particular disdain for conservative ideas — and this in the heyday of the Reagan Revolution.

Indeed, I assumed it was David’s doing when the Times tapped such thoughtful conservatives as David Brooks and William Kristol to write regular columns for its Op-Ed page. He is the kind of guy who would welcome diverse viewpoints, including conservative ideas intelligently expressed.

At Williams, David was well-liked among his classmates, at least those of us who knew him. He kept a pretty low profile on campus. I recall he was soft-spoken. We rowed together freshman year.

But, David wasn’t one of those angry left-wingers (yes, we even had them on college campi even in my day), railing against the latest action by the Gipper. He may have had left-of-center political views, but he kept them pretty much to himself, at least in his conversations with me. And I was a pretty outspoken undergraduate, particularly during my sophomore and junior years.

Thus, I was surprised to learn that he had personally rejected (or at least written the e-mail rejecting) presumptive Republican nominee John McCain’s column for the New York Times.

The David Shipley who so readily listened to his Williams peers was now dictating how one party’s candidate should write about our nation’s Iraq policy. I want to believe David’s distinction between accepting Obama’s piece and rejecting that of his Republican rival, that the Obama essay “offered new information.” Given the increasingly biased record of the Times, I am skeptical, even of a man whose even-handedness I have long respected.

I hope David still shows the same respect for conservatives he did at Williams and in our 1993 lunch. His failure to publish this editorial shows the decline of the paper whose Op-Eds he now edits.

Read the whole thing. Previous discussion here. I was surprised at how dismissive some of our commentators were of McCain’s argument. It is reasonable to believe that McCain was (and is) wrong about the best policy for Iraq. But, if you assume for a moment that McCain’s policies are correct (as at least 20% of US citizens believe), then his op-ed piece seems to make a perfectly reasonable argument for them. If you disagree, what specific lines would you change?

Shipley also gets a mention in the American Thinker.

Newsflash to David Shipley: McCain’s editorial was a rebuttal, not a Time Life Books® companion piece. And as the New York Times’ readership is reputed to be intellectually savvy, I don’t think there would be much danger of them confusing McCain’s views with those of the left-leaning Times editorial board.

By the way, the New York Post snapped up what the Times rejected and published McCain’s op-ed. The decision by the Times to reject McCain has turned into a major publicity nightmare. Better tell Pinch that’s not exactly good news for stockholders.

Of course, every news outlet has the right to reject content based on editorial standards – our right to free speech does not translate to an obligation for a newspaper or other media outlet to publish us. But in this instance, the Times risks being labeled as lopsided.



Twins and Triplets at College

There’s an interesting article in The New York Times on twins and triplets applying to college, and their worry that applying to the same college will hurt them.

The Williams case that I know of is the Samuelson triplets: one went to Harvard, one went to Yale, and one went to Williams. (Before parents faint at the thought of Mr. Samuelson paying three high-end tuitions all at once in the early 1970’s, don’t. Mr. Samuelson was Paul Samuelson, the MIT economist, who was well-heeled due to royalties from his popular economics textbook. And yes, we used his textbook in Econ 101.) Paul, the triplet at Yale, after several years decided to transfer to Williams and was accepted. So Bob Samuelson and Paul Samuelson graduated from Williams in 1975.


Pasachoff/Babcock to Siberia

A Williams group is headed to Siberia to view a solar eclipse.

Scientists Jay Pasachoff and Bryce Babcock of Williams College are leading an expedition to Siberia so as to station themselves and their equipment in the path of totality (the phase of an eclipse when it is total), which is only hundreds of miles wide in spite of being thousands of miles long.

Leaving Williamstown on July 21, they flew 1,750 miles east to Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia. Their observing site will be in collaboration with Dr. Allya Nestorenko of the State University of Novosibirsk and Dr. Igor Nestorenko of the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics.

Williams students Katherine Dupree ’10 and Marcus Freeman ’10 are also traveling, and the release includes contact information if the press (or possible anyone?) is interested in getting more information from Pasachoff.

Other coverage here.


Comments on Eph Planet

I am looking for feedback from readers about Eph Planet (also available from a link on the right side of the page). Do you use it? Do you like it? What would make it better?

I think Eph Planet is great. I enjoy reading about what a random cross-section of Ephs are doing with their lives. But, if our usage statistics from Google Analytics are correct, very few other EphBlog readers find the link useful. Comments welcome.


They were leaders

Remembering the end of the Korean war:

July 27 is not one of those days that stirs the American soul like Dec. 7, July 4 or June 6.

We have so many memorable days in our history that forgiveness is appropriate if you can’t recall that on that day in 1953, the guns fell silent along the line of battle in Korea. Three years of killing was at an end. This year, it’s the 55th anniversary of the cease fire, so maybe there’ll be a bit more ink and airtime.

I carry in my mind’s eye recollections of two officers who paid a price while serving their country. Both were fellow second lieutenants – a rank sometimes regarded as below that of private – in the field artillery. I served with both and knew them well enough to say they were among the best, brightest and likable young men you might want to know. And, they were leaders.


First, let me tell you about Nimrod Torkomian. He was one of 200 who were in the initial formation for D Battery, Field Artillery Officer Candidate Class 17 in January 1952. Ninety of us made it to the finish line in June. “Tork” – everyone gets a nickname in the Army – must have stood on tiptoes to get in. He was 5 feet tall, maybe. But he was in superb physical condition, easily meeting the many physical demands placed upon us. He had the barracks wit needed to get through six months of OCS.

After graduation, we spent a few months in artillery battalions stateside before what we thought was the inevitable – orders to become forward observers across the hills of Korea.

Tork wound up as a forward observer with the 555th Field Artillery, an ill-fated outfit if ever there was one. They were overrun not once but three times during the course of the war, often because they weren’t given the protection they needed. Worse, their guns fell into the hands of the North Koreans and Chinese. This is close to a mortal sin for an artilleryman.

In March 1953, the Chinese caught a South Korean infantry unit unprepared and walked all over the 555th. Tork and his forward observer team were isolated at an outpost. They held out until they were out of ammo, and then stuck a white handkerchief tied to a rifle out a firing port. Tork wrote an eloquent essay about this experience, sharing it with all of us at our most recent reunion. It is not a good feeling, he said in a classic understatement, to be marched north when the U.S. Army is somewhere south of you.

The good news is that he survived, was exchanged not long after the armistice and is enjoying life in California.

Other OCS classmates tell their tales of the last day of the war when we get together. For one, it was being sent up on the line when other units were standing down in anticipation of the cease fire. Ma Parker’s son may not make it home in one piece after all, thought Roy Parker, now a lawyer in Tupelo. Another brought his wounded radioman down for help and went back to fire more missions. And so on.

Then there’s James Dorland from New Jersey, who was commissioned just before me out of OCS. We were both assigned to an anachronism, a mule artillery battalion in Camp Carson, Colorado.

When the expected orders for overseas came, Jim’s were for Korea and mine were for Germany. He accepted his with a baffled grin, and I thanked some gnome in the Pentagon for his wisdom in sending me elsewhere, even if there was a twinge of guilt.

Some years after Al Gore invented the Internet, I began to crawl the Web to find out what happened to Jim. It didn’t take long to find out that he’d been shot down over North Korea in March 1953 while calling in artillery fire as an aerial observer. He was first listed as MIA – missing in action – and later that changed to KIA – killed in action. His remains have yet to be returned.

Jim was tall, lean, witty, a graduate of Williams College. He was a quiet leader, dependable, demanding and respected, and I will never forget being his friend and serving with him.


Sculpture in the Berkshires

On a lighter note, an article in the New York Sun highlights sculpture in the Berkshires this summer. Among the mentions are  the Williams “Eyes” scattered near the art museum and Broke-ology (featuring a garden gnome sculpture as a central character) at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Apparently there is an exhibit of garden gates by contemporary artists on the grounds of the Rockwell Museum. The slideshow includes a photo of a sculpture in Lenox, Kathryn Lipke Vigesaa’s “Melt/Water,” consisting of  Adirondack chairs and a deck pointed towards photographs of beach scenes. A speaker plays the sounds of water lapping. Summer fun.


dkane accepts National Enquirer Award for Journalism …

Some present were calling “clean cup, clean cup!”.


Art Mafia, Cleveland Chapter

Congratulations to C. Griffith Mann ’91:

The Cleveland Museum of Art appointed C. Griffith Mann as chief curator. The medieval art historian, noted for skill in organizing exhibits and expanding access to museum collections, will begin his new duties at the museum in early September. Mann arrives in the midst of the largest renovation and expansion in its history, a $350 million project designed by Rafael Vinoly that will increase the museum’s size by nearly 200,000 square feet. Mann began his museum career at the museum 16 years ago as an intern in the education department. Since March 2007, he has been director of the curatorial division at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where he oversees seven collections departments, the office of the registrar, photography, the library and curatorial publications and installations and research on the Walters’ encyclopedic collection. As chief curator in Cleveland, Mann will oversee 11 curatorial departments. He holds both a Ph.D. and master’s degree in art history from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in history and art history from Williams College. An avid baseball fan and outdoor enthusiast, he will be moving to Cleveland with his wife and three children.



Was it just 9 months ago that I pointed out that Jay McInerney’s ’76 former girlfriend Rielle Hunter was in the news? Was it just 7 months ago that I passed on the story of Hunter’s love child with with former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards? Indeed it was! My reward was comments like:

No need to do Drudge’s dirty work for him, David. That story has already been pulled from the site after the woman apparently denied that the baby was Edwards’.

This is trash. The story never had a leg to stand on. Why do you keep trying to keep it alive?

Ephs everywhere thank you for making EphBlog part of a shameless home-stretch smear attempt against the Edwards campaign.

But, alas, I was right. Always trust content from EphBlog.


Hockney Named Swim Coach at Williams …

The New England school, well-known for athletics and its art programs, combines both aspects in this break-through appointment.

Readers are encouraged to submit their own improbable but interesting appointments.


Dream Job

Speaking of jobs, here’s an article from the Bennington Banner about an Eph who found a dream one. Dan Cohen, a graduate of the Master’s program in art history, has been the curator of the Louisville Slugger Museum and factory since 2006. He used to work at the Clark. He’ll be in the area Sunday to give a gallery talk at the Bennington Museum about the baseball bats on view in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” with a particular focus on Louisville Slugger and its history. Lucky guy.

I don’t whether this is a permanent exhibit, but SM might want to check it out next time she’s in town. The museum is right on Main Street (Rt.9).


Professor Nolan: Not a fan of “Problem Solving” Courts

Professor Nolan is cited as the primary critic of problem solving courts (which provide alternatives to jail time for drug offenders) in this interesting article. Nolan opines:

Ideological critiques also tend to distract from what some see as structural flaws of problem-solving justice — and there are a few. Problem-solving justice’s most vocal critic is James Nolan Jr., a criminologist from Williams College in Massachusetts. He has dedicated a good portion of his career to writing articles and books challenging the approach, and his latest book, to be released in 2009, will compare the operations of problem-solving courts around the world.

Nolan’s chief criticism involves due process rights. “My concern is that if we make the law so concerned with being therapeutic, you forget about notions of justice such as proportionality of punishment, due process and the protection of individual rights,” Nolan says. “Even though problem-solving advocates wouldn’t want to do away with these things, they tend to fade into the background in terms of importance.”

Nolan offers an example, a drug court participant in Miami-Dade County who was forced to remain in the program for seven years. “So here, the goal is not about justice,” he says. “The goal is to make someone well, and the consequences can be unjust because they are getting more of a punishment than they deserve.”

With the caveat that I haven’t read anything more fleshed-out by Nolan, I disagree. As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen first-hand how habitual drug users are failed by the system, wasting tax payer dollars and law enforcement / judicial resources in the process. I don’t see a system which is not punitive as threatening due process — to the extent someone is marooned in the problem solving court for years, all that means is that they are a habitual drug user who would otherwise be in jail or dead. Moreover, many states impose — without violating due process — far more intrusive “non punitive” measures on habitual sex offenders (namely, locking them up indefinitely beyond the term of their sentence, if they are deemed a serious enough recidivist threat).

One thing is for sure, the system of locking up more and more people for drug use or petty crimes (small time dealing, shoplifting, larceny) associated with feeding their habits has proven not to work. I don’t see the harm in trying to be creative with a novel approach.


What Matters

The Hartford Courant has another story about Williams student Bianca Czaderna ’11. Bianca took up rowing at Williams last fall in memory and honor of her close friend Hayley Petit. Petit, who would have rowed for Darmouth that season, was murdered, along with her mother and younger sister, in a horrific home invasion in Cheshire, Connecticut a year ago today. Czaderna has proven an exceptionally fine rower, and earned the honor of being chosen as a spare for the Williams boats that won the NCAA Championship in May.

As I read this article, I was stuck by how it fit with JG’s recent posting about Nate and Shirin.


Comments were Down

As Larry George noted, the comment system seems seemed to be having some problems.

For your amusement during the intermission:

A very Interesting Reptile, and a data heavy political blog by Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus.

Also, the Williams multimedia page has video of Commencement addresses.


Service for Florence Chandler

The College is reporting:

Memorial Service to Celebrate the Life of Florence Chandler

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Florence Chandler will be held Thursday July 24, at 2 p.m. at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown, with Rev. Carrie Bail, Pastor, officiating. Reception in the Faculty House to follow.
*   *   *
I did not know her well and had not heard that she had died. My condolences to former President Chandler and their children.
Mrs. Chandler once did something extremely kind for me, and I always enjoyed talking with her. May she rest in peace.

Sports Reporter/Assistant Editor Opening in North Adams

This job might be perfect for a recent Williams graduate. I know Dick Quinn does a great job training student reporters and often has some really talented writers who clearly love sports. Nothing like being paid to do what you love in a place you love.

This is from ,

Openings in Newspapers/Wires
July 22, 2008

Company: North Adams Transcript
Sports reporter
North Adams, Massachusetts
Job Status:  Full-time
Salary:  Not Specified
Ad Expires: 
August 26, 2008
Job ID: 953982


The North Adams Transcript, a six-day daily in the heart of the beautiful Berkshires, has an immediate opening for a full-time sports reporter/assistant sports editor. Cover Division 3 powerhouse Williams College, the North Adams SteepleCats collegiate baseball team and four local high schools with intense rivalries in every sport. Opportunity for advancement. Experience with Quark helpful. Competitive salary and benefits. Please e-mail a cover letter only to Glenn Drohan, editor,, citing your experience and explaining why you would be perfect for this job. New England applicants only, or those with ties to Massachusetts, please.



Tech Help Needed

I seem to be able to start a thread but not to comment on an established thread. I get this message:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function live_preview() in/home/.westbury/ephblog/ on line 103

I’m having some connection problems with my server, so it could be that, rather than a problem with EphBlog, but I think not. 

Thanks in advance for helping.


When you least expect it

Note: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, so any issues of tense or time are the fault of that.  I don’t have the emotional energy to spend the time updating such things right now; I hope you will forgive me that.  David nudged me today about actually publishing it, and I guess I might as well.  The (relative) anonymity of this blog allows me to be a bit more raw emotionally than I normally would.  Upon re-reading the post, I realized that it was exactly what I was trying to capture.

I was all set to write a somewhat self-righteous post this evening about the Williams Social Action Fund, the importance of donor choice, and the inherently political nature of ALL investment decisions (meaning choosing profit over the purpose of a company IS a political choice regardless of the terminology in which you wrap it).

But I won’t be writing that post tonight. I won’t be writing it because of the few minutes I spent this afternoon looking up what, how, where, and to whom packages can be sent to support soldiers serving in harm’s way. Taking those moments put me in mind of those that have been lost. We have this weird e-relationship, all of us here on Ephblog, so a lot of what we think about and feel is filtered, kept at a distance from one another. It is hard for us to really get to know each other, to share our feelings, to understand where each other one is really coming from. So this post is to attempt to not filter that, to let you all know how profoundly my thoughts were impacted by this little blog today.

I spent much of this afternoon and evening thinking about a fellow Eph, a young man whose life was lost far too soon. A young man whose goofy humor, friendship, loyalty, and sheer joy I don’t think I ever fully appreciated as he hung out in my common room or caused trouble in my entry: Nate Krissoff ’03. I have thought about him periodically, on Veteran’s Day and this weekend for the Fourth of July. I wonder how his parents are doing. More often, I wonder how his friends are, those that I knew well and I know loved him dearly. I remember the late, late nights when I finally encouraged him and other frosh boys (mostly swimmers) to move on out of my common room so I could get some sleep. A couple of his friends were in my entry when I was a JA, and there were three or four of them that hung around and did what 18-19 year-old boys do: drink, talk, laugh, quote stupid movies (I remember them quoting Swingers a lot), watch sports, etc.

When we lose someone so young, I wonder what else I should have or could have done to make sure that he knew what a special person he was. I didn’t keep in touch with Nate after I graduated. I heard bits and pieces about him and others over the years, but we weren’t close when he died. But I still sat here this evening and could not contain my tears and my grief at this life cut tragically short, of this waste of a precious person. And I think that I should do everything in my power to try to prevent anyone else from dying, and I think that I should do everything in my power to ensure that everyone serving knows that they are loved and special and supported and comforted.

We have had many discussions on EB about whether one can simultaneously support our troops and fervently wish them home and that their service was not necessary. We have wondered from an intellectual perspective, argued the opposing logic or philosophical conflict. We have distanced ourselves at times from the true danger that some people are in – perhaps we must distance ourselves. I am not writing tonight to wade once again into that thicket of recriminations and judgment.

My contemplative mood this evening also put me in mind of one of my own frosh who tragically died very young, although under very different circumstances. Shirin Shakir ’03 passed away in a rafting accident in Peru during her 2L year at Harvard. She was a dear, sweet person. Memorable for her striking beauty, her little giggle that brightened the room, for her desire to make a difference somehow. She, like many Ephs, held herself to very high standards, was very thoughtful, and had big dreams. I wonder who she would have become.  She was well on her way, having spent a great deal of time volunteering in her community and on legal cases.

So forgive my posting this evening in sadness, but at times I really do need to remember to step back and think about what is important. To remember how precious these moments are that we share together. I need to appreciate those fellow Ephs that I got to know, for however short a time.  Tonight I simply wanted to express that I truly, profoundly mourn those like Nate Krissoff and Shirin Shakir.


Road Trip: Rt. 20 – Coast to Coast!

The Independent (Columbia and Rensselaer Counties, N.Y.) reports on a book (20 West: The Great Road across America, State University of New York Press, $25) Mac Nelson ’55 has written about Rt. 20. Nelson writes of taking 20 west from literary country (Wharton, Melville and Dickinson) to utopian/millennial/spiritualist country (Shakers, Amish, Millerites, and Oneida) on to Seneca Falls (the women’s and emancipation movements) and on, further, to Ohio and the Presidents (Van Buren, Fillmore, Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, McKinley) and on through prairies and plains to Yellowstone and then over the mountains (rising to 7,072 feet above sea level at Targhee Pass, Montana) all the way to Newport on the Oregon coast.

I may not make that trip anytime soon, but I sure could see dreaming over Nelson’s book while stuck in an airport or otherwise suffering the indignities of modern travel. And I’ll bet it would be a great inspiration for an adverturesome young Eph, if readers need gift suggestions.


Berea has a better idea?

After the Williams trustees with the Baxter/Paresky debacle followed by the Humanities Center, these remarks, from the NY Times today, by the president of Berea College were a breath of fresh air.  Note:  I have no objection to individuals or institutions building whatever Xanadus they like.  My question is about the federal tax benefits with which we, the people, support these buildings. I remain on record with my proposal to make donations to endow need-based scholarships 115% tax deductible.

“You see some of these selective liberal arts colleges building new physical education facilities with these huge sheets of glass and these coffee and juice bars, and charging students $40,000 a year, and you have to ask, does this contribute to the public good, or is it just a way for the college to keep up with the Joneses?” Mr. Shinn said. “We are a tax-exempt institution, so I think the public has a right to demand that our educational mission be at the heart of all of our expenditures.”

The full article —


Shipley ’85 on Drudge

Last time that an Eph was mentioned in the lead story of the Drudge Report? Today!

An editorial written by Republican presidential hopeful McCain has been rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES — less than a week after the paper published an essay written by Obama, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The paper’s decision to refuse McCain’s direct rebuttal to Obama’s ‘My Plan for Iraq’ has ignited explosive charges of media bias in top Republican circles.

‘It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece,’ NYT Op-Ed editor David Shipley explained in an email late Friday to McCain’s staff. ‘I’m not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.’

Shipley is class of 1985 and the former husband of Naomi Wolf. I assume that he, or some other Eph editor, is the reason that Professor Jay Pasachoff gets so many letters published on the op-ed page.

Shipley, who is on vacation this week, explained his decision not to run the editorial.

‘The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.’

Shipley continues: ‘It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq.’


Doesn’t McCain define victory the way the rest of us do? Al-Qaeda out of Iraq, no more civil war, no more civilian casualties and the freest (non-Israeli) government in the Middle East, if not the Muslim world. If that isn’t victory, then what would be?

Thanks to Art Hutchinson ’85 for the tip. Art writes:

I’m sorry, says former Clinton staffer David Shipley (an undergraduate classmate of mine, and now the New York Times’ Op-Ed editor), to John McCain (in effect), we’re not letting you have access to our paper unless you refrain from refuting lies or pointing out hard truths. Come back when you soften your points, agree with us… and promise not to make our candidate, Senator Obama, look quite so bad.

Even if the Times does publish McCain’s piece, or something like it at a later date, they have blunted the special impact it would have right now, while Obama is traveling in the region.

The word ‘media’ means, in effect, mediator. They are supposed to be — and more importantly, claim to be — unbiased transmitters of news, not partisans active in shaping its course. At a time when Congress is threatening to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine to the one sphere dominated by conservatives (radio), it is especially irksome to see such a blatant illustration of bias in print.

The Times’ owners and editors can do whatever they want with their paper. What they can’t do is make editorial decisions like this and simultaneously claim the moral high ground of even-handedness.



Williams Statistics Mafia

Are you an Eph statistician going to the Joint Statistical Meeting in Denver in two weeks? I will be there, with bells on. We (meaning me and at least two other Ephs) are getting together for dinner on Monday night. Join us. Drop me an e-mail at dave at kanecap dot com for details.


Once upon a time in the Berkshires, 1976

    Not for the glam, nor glory, but as a record of how it was at times for some of us. What a pointless exercise we undertook. Why is it, some places in time, and indeed some boys and men, are just plain belligerent?

I am sure there are people here blogging who can relate.

  I recall I was ten at the time. Tight T shirt, first dance, I was just starting to feel and act on that pre adolescent urge of kissing girls, and groping around clumsily in the dark for a breast through a shirt. Anyhow, there I was. All dressed up. Looking good. I had checked myself out in the mirror several times before getting a ride to that dance at the YMCA. North Adams. Plenty of young pretty girls and boys going through the awkward age of pre puberty in small town rural America at the dance at the Y.

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Today’s New York Times ArtsBeat includes a piece about the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. For the first time, the festival features only one composer: Elliott Carter. And, of course, James Levine isn’t there because he had to leave to have kidney surgery.


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