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Williams shirt sighting/cuteness alert

Awwww

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Ephs in Beijing

Thanks to Prof. Sam Crane for sending this in:

I thought Ephblog might like this photo, taken last night (Beijing time), Wednesday, March 24. It includes alums Thomas Jones, Jenn Lee and Joe Kauffman (and his wife Angie and little girl Avital); current students Jackson Lu, Cadence Hardenberg, Jessica Harris and Caroline Ng; uber-parent CK Shen (father of alums Clarissa, Geraldine and current student Loretta); and me. I was visiting in Beijing to, among other things, give a talk to the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, and Jenn and CK organized a dinner at a local Italian restaurant (a nice break from the ubiquitous, and quite excellent, Chinese food). CK brought the colors that we displayed throughout the evening. A good time was had by all…

Ephs in Beijing

(click for larger)

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JA: Junior Anonymous [Eph Diary #9]

Judgment Day

Two Thursdays ago, the lives of 52 Williams sophomores changed forever.

One of them was sitting in my English discussion that morning, minding his own business, when his Blackberry buzzed.  Despite a class policy against cell phones, he opened the newly received e-mail and was suddenly grinning from ear-to-ear. “Hey!” he announced excitedly, “I just got JA!!”

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Spoken Up

Archive of comments made to Speak Up.

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Photo ID, #104

When I saw a thumbnail of this picture on Flickr, I thought, “Huh? Is that picture really from Williams? What quirky little building is that?” When I saw the picture in a larger form, I recognized it. Do you?

Note: In the original photo, the name of the location is written right on this building. I have edited the photo so that it is more of a challenge.


Photo from Flickr user mpbaron; original photo here (warning: contains puzzle answer).

Where is this quirky little building, and what memories do you have of it, and whatever is beyond it?

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Toonerville Trolley Memories

Boston radio DJ (and MCLA grad) Mike Hsu recently posted a great blog entry reminiscing about his time working at Toonerville Trolley on Water Street.  I, too, lament the slow and inexorible death of independant record stores due to Itunes, Amazon and the like, but I must confess to frequently succumbing to the ease and flexibility of online-purchasing (which is not only killing record stores, but also — albeit more gradually — albums).   Toonerville, and Hal, are Billsville treasures, and it is good to hear both are still going strong.   If you are looking for a hard-to-find album, consider ordering from Toonerville’s online store, or better yet, drop by the next time you are in Williamstown.  Anyone have any memories of great Toonerville finds?

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Purple Noise

Your place for all things non-Eph … Feel free today, in particular, to recommend recent art exhibits, movies, works of literature, theater shows, concerts, albums, and so on … I’ll start with two cool sounding pieces of conceptual art, one that I’m devastated I missed, the awesome sounding Tino Sehgal, errr, installation (is that what it’s called?) at the Guggenheim (fortunately, with conceptual art, just reading about it captures half the fun anyway), and the other the latest from my favorite Lord Jeff Jonathon Keats, Strange Skies.  For this week’s depiction of purple, Jeff Koons narrowly edged out Mark Rothko:

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Binge drinking won’t hurt your test scores

According to a study conducted by Boston University and Brown University scientists. Via the Awl.

Over a four-day period, the 193 student participants were given either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. The students who received alcoholic beverages drank until they had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12. The next day, participants took practice versions of the Graduate Record Exam and a mock quiz on a lecture they received the previous afternoon.

Whether they were sober or inebriated the previous night, all of the students received similarly high scores on both exams.

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Eph Booze Mafia

This may well be the most important [non hoops-related] post I ever contribute to Ephblog … a summary of Ephs who are accomplished / newsmakers in the delicate art of creating, marketing and discussing beer, wine and spirits.   I was amazed by how many Ephs turned up in the world of alcohol after a quick Google search, and I imagine I have omitted many.  Might we someday speak of the Eph Booze Mafia?  Were the Williams alumni office to sponsor an event featuring, for example, a panel of distinguished Ephs in the wine industry (and, it goes with out saying, they’d bring samples), I am confident it would be enormously popular — and maybe even teach undergrads to focus a bit less on alcohol content and a bit more on quality.  [Ironically, so far as I am aware, Purple Cow Vineyards lacks any Williams affiliation].

  • Karen and Brice Hoskin (both class of 1990) are looking to bring their award winning Montanya Rum to the Berkshires.  Read reviews of Montanya here and here.
  • Mike Rabiner ’03 and Blake Morgan ’04 recently organized the Cincinnati Beerfest.
  • Current students Tim Marrs ’11 and T. Sam Jensen ’11 are off to an early start in pursuing their brewing ambitions.  Note to Tim and Sam: there is an awesome, currently vacant North Adams venue perfectly suited to a brew pub.  Tim, Sam and other aspiring brewmeisters can even learn their craft during Winter Study.  Ahh, to be in college.  Tim and Sam may want to chat with Pete Kirkwood ’99, owner of ShawneeCraft Brewing Co., who has received acclaim for his fledgling brewing efforts, as well as Christopher Ericson ’93, owner and head brewer at the similarly-esteemed Lake Placid Pub and Brewery.  Ericson’s Ubu Ale is apparently one of Bill Clinton’s favorites.
  • The list of Ephs in the wine industry is particularly voluminous, and particularly impressive.  Selim Zilkha ’46 (yes, that Selim Zilkha) owns the Laetitia Vineyard & Winery.  Graham Wehmeier ’99 is a winemaker at Merryvale Vinyard.  Tim Snider ’92 is the General Manager of the Fess Parker winery.  Eric Dahlberg ’85 is the President and Founder of Winesecrets, a wine filtration company.  Sam Landis ’98 helps run Vynecrest Vinyards.  Tom May ’56 owns, with his wife, Martha’s Vinyard.  George Vare ’58 owns (or owned, the website seems to be defunct) Vare Vinyards, and was the co-founder of Luna Vinyards.  Tad Drouet ’90 is an instructor at the Sommelier Society of America.  Eric Hagyard ’06 is an assistant winemaker at Pott Wine (the interview with Eric is particularly interesting).  Jason Haas ’95 is the General Manager of the Tablas Creek Vineyard.  Tom Geniesse ’86 owns Bottlerocket Wine in Manhattan, while Mei Ying So ’93 owns the Artisan Wine Shop in Beacon, New York.  W. Reed Foster ’54 is the President of the Coalition for Free Trade, which advocates direct-to-consumer wine shipments (now who in good conscience can oppose that)?  Reed co-founded Ravenswood Winery (the one with the “no wimpy wines” slogan).   
  • Of course, the most prominent Eph in the alcohol industry is Edgar Bronfman ’50, formerly President and CEO of Seagrams.  Sam Bronfman ’75, formerly a Seagrams executive, now runs Bacchus Capital Management.
  • Last but not least, Commencement speaker Jay McInerney ’76, who has been called the best wine writer in America, has published two books on wine (Bacchus and Me and A Hedonist in the Cellar), and was recently named the new wine critic for the Wall Street Journal.
  • A few additions since this was first posted: Chris Sweatman ’00 is an operations manager at Harpoon Brewery, and Bryan Baird ’89 runs Baird Brewing Company in Japan.  Connor O’Rourke ’97 sells wine via Candid WinesJill Bernheimer ’93 runs wine club and retailer Domaine 547
  • In sum: the sheer amount of, ummm, first-hand knowledge of alcohol collectively gathered on the Williams campus has sparked some truly stellar careers.  Good thing that consumption of Beast, Natty Light, Miller High Life, Mad Dog 20/20, wine-in-a-box and “Ephman” brand spirits did not prejudice the now-discerning palates of this talented group of Ephs.
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Re-eph-search (needs wittier title) #1

Williams people do research. That should come as no surprise. But, while that research by alumni and faculty is heralded as an important sign of the vitality of the school and its education, academic research is not necessarily the most…accessible thing. Not only is it often behind pay walls online, but it can be extremely esoteric or esoterically written or complex, even for a brilliant eph to follow (note: I’m not that brilliant eph. I’m just saying–even for the most brilliant of us brilliant people, some of this stuff is weird). However, even the most confusing or esoteric seeming research probably has some value or could spark some dialogue or interest. And hey, why not toot Williams’ research horn? (*paging Dick Swart’s photoshop* I need an image of the Williams “research horn)

God knows I barely can follow half of the research that comes out in my field (half?!? I’m being too kind to myself. 2/3rds of my field is almost unknowable if that particular subfield isn’t your speciality. Speaking of which, anyone want to explain a “transivity model of the tau statistic of a social network is? Bueller? Bueller?). Nonetheless, a lot of this research provides amazing insights into the banal and non-banal (exciting? complex?) aspects of our world. Weekly, from here on out, I will be doing my best on Thursdays to provide a quick summary of a paper written by a Williams professor or alumni in the social sciences (maybe occasionally venturing into the humanities. Natural sciences I dare not try to understand. Maybe someone is willing to trade off with me?), why it might be interesting to people, a polite critique perhaps or suggestion of what I’d love to see if I could control the research agenda of others (if only I could…everyone prove why the Pennsylvania Liquor Board is a waste and how to get rid of it! GO! DO IT!), etc. Ideally, I’ll be able to do so for articles or papers that are freely accessible and not behind pay-walls, but I don’t promise that. I also don’t promise to bring the funny. I will try.

If you are interested in helping out via either presenting (natural scientists?!? please?!?!) or have a recommendation for a paper or author I should do in future weeks, please just submit a comment. I’ll compile those and get back to you.

Right now, I’ve got one in mind that I’ve used in a paper of mine that *knock of wood* a journal accepts after 3 revisions from a current psychology professor. Ideally, I’ll be able to include a comment from the author about why they researched that topic and what they think of the paper as well. Speaking of which…let me email that professor now.

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Mission basketball photographer responds

The recent photo ID of the basketball court near Mission drew over 50 comments, speculating on the room from which the photo was taken, the day of the year, and the time of day in addition to other reminiscences about the site. The photographer, Dread Pirate Ruth, responds:

As if on cue, and only one week late, the photographer finally catches up with this thread.

Here is the story behind the photo. (You may be disappointed to know that it has little to do with calculating the height of the basketball hoops, and I have no idea what time my camera was set for.)

It was taken from my room in Dennett (far east side of Mission), on the second floor — the room just east of the common room on the back side. (So only about 5 rooms in from the very end of the building.) I was actually a JA in Mission at the time, so I did most of my work from my room rather than in the library or the geology building.

Actually, because Mission has those HUGE windows, and because I happen to be a pretty small person, I turned my long window sill into a window seat, and I would at the window to get work done.

This was just one of those post-brunch Sundays where the view was too beautiful to believe. Most of my closest Williams friends had just left to study abroad that semester, but I remember looking out the window that afternoon and just not wanting to be anywhere else.

I still miss that window seat, incidentally. Glad I could share it with all of you! Sorry I hopped on the thread so late that many of you probably won’t see the explanation.

Hence, bumped to the front page so that no one will miss it! Thanks to Ruth, and to all the other commenters for such a lively discussion.

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Fraude: Mexico 2006 at MASS Moca, 7:30pm

Luis’s Mandoki’s film Fraude: Mexico 2006 will be playing at MASS Moca tonight, with discussion to follow led by Williams Prof. Shawn Rosenheim. From the MASS Moca page:

Directed by the veteran Hollywood director Luis Mandoki (When a Man Loves a Woman and Message in a Bottle) this film, the third in our series of Lie! Cheat! Steal! Fake It! Docs documents the Mexican electoral process and in particular the virtual theft of the 2006 presidency by Felipe Calderón. Using original footage shot during the campaign period and at polling stations around Mexico on (and after) election day Mandoki attempts to portray the political environment of Mexico from the eyes of leftist supporters of the losing candidate and former mayor of Mexico City Andres Manuel López Obrador. In addition to his own footage Mandoki acquired 3,000 hours of ‘home-shot’ footage by Mexican citizens inside the polling stations and during the official review of vote tallies, bringing to light irregularities in the Mexican electoral process. The controversial director frames the documentary for a group of people who believe that something is wrong in the electoral process, a theme that many Americans will have no trouble understanding.

More description is on the MASS Moca page.

From my own comments to Prof. Rosenheim:

The events of July 2nd– were simply a shock. For if Obrador declared victory and said that the results as he had them were “irreversable,” by the Forth of July, all the talk that I heard from the cabinet was that ‘we had lost’ and that, for the good of the nation, Obrador was about to concede.

For that matter– Calderon’s campaign had strongly considered conceding within the hours before that. “Off the record,” still.

As I see it, Obrador had learned from 2000 and 2004 in the US. There was enough of a historical sense of events, that no election-night concession was going to occur, in a situation filled with questions.

By the forth and the fifth of July, the threads of evidence began to come in. When you compared the three audit documents — the totals printed on the tally sheet kept with each ballot box, turned into the electoral authority for the official count, and posted in front of the precincts (casillas)– they were not the same.

It would take weeks and months to get some idea. Eventually the electronic and central counts, would be shown not to fit the tally sheets turned in. The visual evidence turned in by Mandoki’s teams– the opened seals on the boxes, the preprinted ballots, unfolded (you cannot put a ballot into the box, without folding)– and so much more– it was Mandoki’s visual evidence, that finally convinced me.

In the end– the insidious thing about fraud– is how it twists reality. For if you could prove it, the game would be up. What I’m trying to say– the standard must be some kind of integrity, of the elections process, some guarantee of truth.

(Continues via ‘More';  warning:  LONG)

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All Press is Good Press….

From someone’s list of the “top 10 weirdest sports mascots:”

10. Jeeps: It’s weird enough to think that South Webster High School would want to have a vehicular mascot, but their actual mascot, the Jeep, is based on something much more obscure – Eugene the Jeep from the Popeye comic strip. Eugene is a dog-like creature from a different dimension that disappears and does other magical things. Some say that the vehicle was named after this character too, but in any case, it’s a strange mascot.

9. Bridges: Haha, get it? They’re the Brooklyn Bridges. Ten points for getting a laugh, Brooklyn College, but negative fifty points for being stuck with “bridges” as your mascot. […]

2. Ephs: Williams College’s mascot is actually a shortened version of their founder, Ephraim Williams, but when someone says “Ephs,” I’m sure most people think “Fs”…which I guess is a pretty intimidating mascot after all. What does an Eph look like, you ask? A purple cow, apparently.

And my #1 pick for weirdest mascot of all time? That has to go to the Rhode Island School of Design. They don’t actually have an official mascot, but their unofficial one is Scrotie, a giant phallus that wears a cape and has a huge set of testicles. They call their basketball team the Balls and their hockey team the Nads. I guess junior-high humor is still relevant even at a school as prestigious as RISD.

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Dream Team

Honorary Eph Thomas Friedman recently published a great Op-Ed about the Intel (f/k/a Westinghouse) Science Talent Search.  Inspiring stuff.

Speaking of Intel scholars, this article focuses on research by 2010 Intel Semifinalist Daniel Bornstein, an aspiring member of the Class of 2014, and this article (from a few years back) highlights current Eph and former Intel Finalist Kathryn Friedman ’11.

In addition, Stephanie Chen was, based on her summer research conducted at the Williams ESR lab and supervised by Eph professors Blackwell and Blickstein, named a Siemens finalist.  Chen’s team, which included Cathy Zhou and Israt Ahmed, ultimately finished third.

Congrats to all the Intel / Siemens honorees, particularly those with an interest in or affiliation with Williams!

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Eph Medicine Round-Up

Given that health care is dominating the national conversation, I thought it would be a good time for a round-up of recent (and not so recent) news about a few prominent Ephs in medicine:

  • Be sure to check out this incredible video showing Richard Besser ’81 stepping away from his reporting duties to help a woman give birth in Haiti.  In addition to appearing on camera, Dr. Besser also writes a weekly column.
  • Eminent Johns Hopkins pediatrician and geneticist Barton Childs ’38 recently passed away, after an incredibly accomplished and influential life.
  • Last year, Craig R. Smith ’70 was appointed chairman of the Department of Surgery at Columbia, and he will ascend to President of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery in 2011.  (He is not, however, smarter than Dr. Richard Kimble).
  • Edward Wing ’67 has been, since 2008, the Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences at Brown.   He is currently overseeing the construction of a new Medical School facility.
  • In a long and interesting interview, Toby Cosgrove ’62 recently shared his thoughts on health care reform.  Cosgrove was mired in controversy last fall after some remarks he made about obesity.
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Photo ID, #103

Time for our third Photo ID. Where was this picture taken? Where do these stairs get you?


Photo from Flickr user Marco P. Sanchez; original photo here (warning: link contains puzzle answer).

I’ll start: In the dead of winter in 2006, when the shrubs pictured were dead and nonexistent, I sledded down this hill in the middle of the night, all the way down the steep hill and into some sort of invisible curb, which scraped me off my sled with a jolt!

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Final Four Recap

Despite Saturday’s heartbreaking loss, it was an amazing weekend in Salem.  A few highlights / memories …

  • Other than one brief stretch during which they lost their collective composure, Friday night’s performance against Guilford was masterful.  Troy Whittington and Joe Geoghegan gamely battled Guilford’s all-American center all night long despite being outsized, egregiously so in Troy’s case.  Troy repeatedly scored over his bigger defender, announcing his presence on the national stage with authority (more on this later).  But really, it was a story of an unreal shooting day by a ridiculously good shooting team.  Schultz, Rubin, and Wang all drained three after three, many from beyond 24 feet.  From what I understand, the Ephs’ 16 made threes (out of only 28 attempts!) set a D-III Final Four record.  And the Ephs drained all of their free throws down the stretch.  Frosh Nate Robertson had a particularly impressive game on the big stage … if he works hard and continues to improve, he will be a star for the next three years, after playing a supporting role this season.  Blake Schultz not only led the team on offense, but chased Guilford’s other star, Clay Henson, all over the court and limited his effectiveness.  Henson lit up Saturday’s all star game for 35 points, driving home just how amazing Schultz played on both ends Friday.  Unfortunately, the vast amount of energy he expended clearly took a toll, with a fast turnaround before an early afternoon Saturday game.  (Again, more on this later).
  • The turnout by Eph fans was truly remarkable.  Despite being the last day of midterms week and the start of Spring break, Eph fans outnumbered and outcheered their Guilford counterparts, even though Guilford was only two hours away.  And the diversity of fans on hand was amazing: many former players, including half of the 2003 title team roster, Coach Paulsen, alumni, players’ families, former players’ families, faculty, current students, Billsville locals ranging from about five to probably 75 years of age, future players and a good-sized group of college staff all made the ten hour trek.  Although WSP had the largest group of fans in attendance, that is a school with 10,000 students and a similarly disproportional alumni base.
  • Friday night, the college hosted a great local reception for all the fans in attendance.  It was great to get to know, both Friday night and elsewhere during the weekend, some members of the vast community of loyal Eph fans.  The players received a tremendous ovation when they arrived on site.  And by the way, to a man, the team couldn’t be a nicer, more modest group of guys.  They seemed truly appreciative of all the fan support, as did Coach Maker, who is likewise as nice a guy as you could ask for (he missed the reception due to media responsibilities).  Of course, there was no rest for the weary, as the Ephs were, by team rules, required to study Saturday morning prior to the big game!
  • Saturday’s all-star game didn’t include any Ephs because of their participation in the title tilt, but was fun nonetheless.  Among Clay Henson’s 35 points was an easy three which was the product of an accidental assist from usual-teammate Sanborn (they were placed on opposite teams), much to Sanborn’s chagrin and Henson’s delight.  As this game demonstrated, there is a LOT of talent in D-3.
  • Saturday’s title tilt was of course a heartbreaker.  Derek did a great job chronicling the emotional ups and downs.  I really thought the Ephs were going to take the title home, but once WSP’s run started, as Coach Maker recognized, the Ephs just didn’t have enough left in the tank … some of the stars were visibly tired from playing two VERY tough, VERY physical teams within the scope of 20 hours, and most of the top guys rarely saw the bench.  The late threes that Schultz came up just a bit short on, for example, he makes every time if he hadn’t spent 75 prior minutes playing his guts out on both ends of the floor.  Meanwhile, WSP just kept throwing out fresh, big bodies, all of whom could play great D, disciplined offense, and hit open shots.  Very tough team, and ultimately I think their depth, physicality and balance was just a bit too much for the Ephs.  The game featured, despite the loss, an absolute exhibition by Troy Whittington.  His talents are breathtaking to behold in person.  It is unlikely Eph fans will ever see another player like him — you almost never do anywhere in D-III — so they best enjoy his senior year.  Fans of the opposing teams were visibly awed at some of his insanely athletic made shots, dunks, boards, and blocks (including some absolutely gravity defying plays where he would block or alter a shot and somehow collect the rebound to boot), but what is really impressive is how he has developed into an intelligent passer with tremendous post moves and touch inside.  He should easily be an all-American if he stays healthy next year, and is arguably the best returning center in Division III.
  • Speaking of all-Americans, congrats to Blake Schultz (first team) and James Wang (fourth) for being named all-Americans.  I’d say Wang is the second best sophomore I’ve ever seen play for Williams, narrowly edged by Mike Nogelo ’98.  Wang is one of only two underclassmen on the all-American teams, and, as such, has a very bright future.  What’s amazing is that Wang barely saw the court until very late last season — his improvement has been astronomical, and was probably the single biggest reason Williams improved so dramatically from last season.
  • My fan group was heartbroken leaving Salem, but at least our feelings were assuaged by a gorgeous detour through land very reminiscent of a trip through the Berkshires (complete with driving through Amherst, VA), after our navigator took us on an unexpected one hour detour in our (ultimately successful, thankfully) pursuit of a Chick-fil-A.  After what seemed like hours of driving, I personally devoured an inhuman amount of food, and probably came the closest I ever have to the look of ultimate satisfaction featured in the conclusion of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.  If only NPH had made an appearance …
  • The Ephs looked absolutely devastated by the loss; they really poured their hearts out, tough to watch.  You could tell the idea of losing this game never entered their minds.  But looking back, they will remember this amazing and really, totally unexpected (at season’s start) run to the title game, and they can proud that they left their heart and soul on the floor, but came up just a tiny bit short against a team just as talented and well-coached as they are.  This great article from noted sports writer John Feinstein sums up the players’ emotions after the tough loss.
  • Although the incredible seven-man senior class will be impossible to replace, I expect the Ephs, hardened by this championship run, to be very strong again next season.  Fans can look forward to the return of Wang, Whittington, Robertson and Harlan Dodson, a very strong core that will be bolstered by hungry young players like Brian Emerson, James Klemm, and some talented incoming recruits.  Hopefully the fan momentum from this season carries over into next November, when both the men’s and women’s teams should be among the teams to beat in New England.  Go Ephs!
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Liveblog: WATCH the Ephs play for the NCAA National Championship at 1

It’s Williams vs. UW-Stevens Point at 1 PM

Here’s the link to the video from CBS Sports. The game will also be televised on the CBS College Sports Network.

Pre-game notes and roster details here

We will be liveblogging here and on twitter. Join us!

2:00 Tough loss for our boys, who had a truly great season. Wisconsin-Stevens Point made the plays when they needed to, we did not. The glory of sports is that they provide the opportunity to succeed but only at the risk of failure. If there were only upside, none of it would be anywhere near as compelling. The prospect of losing is what makes winning so glorious. The guys had a magical run and had a chance to win a national championship. Congratulations to them, and congratulations to the Pointers who are worthy champions even if they do not look anywhere near as resplendent in our color scheme.

To the seniors: These are some of the hardest days of your lives. With all of the buildup to this game there was little opportunity to reflect on what it all meant. My senior season of track ended with me writhing in pain with a ruptured hamstring in the triple jump pit at the All New England Championships at Tufts, a high seeding and thus future dreams going for naught. I managed to rehab and jumped for the Greater Boston Track Club for a year, then a couple of years later played rugby for my university in South Africa, but it was never the same as donning the purple and gold and I was never the same athlete. The end comes abruptly, for most of us well before we would be able to reach a physical peak. It’s tough to know that this phase of your life, so important for so many years, is done at the age of 22. I wish you all the best, and hope you know that you gave many great joy on this run to Salem.

To the Ephblog community, thanks for the chance to do this. It was great fun despite the ending that probably has many of us feeling pretty drained and empty. Read more

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WATCH the Ephs in the NCAA Final Four at 5

Here’s the link to the video from CBS Sports

Read Jeff’s preview here

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Purple Noise

I dare you to be as random as the Coen Brothers were when writing the Big Lebowski script.  Feel free to share your favorite Lebowski quote, scene, character or anecdote.  Or anything else random you’d like to discuss.  Then go and watch some hoops (but not before buffing your ball)!!!

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Final Four Mega-Preview

[Note: I’ve added a TON of new links so I’ve taken the liberty of moving this post up].  Congrats to the Williams men’s basketball team for making its fifth final four (most of any team in the country since the Ephs became NCAA eligible) since 1997, and first since 2004.  Williams, led by Josten’s winner Blake Schultz’s 29 points, played a great game to pull out a gritty victory against a determined, veteran Brandeis team and earn the trip to Salem, Virginia.  Schultz, by my count, is 17 points away from becoming only the fourth Eph to score 1500 career points.   Coach Mike Maker (coach of the year), Schultz (player of the year) and James Wang (first team) all earned regional honors.   Schultz, already an NABC all-American, (and possibly even Wang) is expected to earn additional all-American recognition as well on Saturday.  Sports Info has prepared several great features leading up to the game: this story introduces the Ephs’ assistant coaches, here is a story on the Ephs as they prepared to depart for Salem, and this story chronicles the Ephs’ activities leading up to game time.

The Ephs play Guilford (which survived a very tough sectional) at 5:00 Friday; the game will be webcast by the NCAA, and if the Ephs win, Saturday’s championship will be televised.  If the Ephs lose, seniors Blake Schultz and Joe Geoghegan will play in Saturday’s senior all-star game.  Get pumped up for tonight’s semifinal by watching Eph highlights here, here, and here.   You can also find many more highlights and interviewes with coaches and players at the archived men’s basketball shows.  Also read Ben Coffin 04’s thoughts on what it takes to be a champion.  Both Guilford and Williams prepared extensive game notes for this afternoon’s game.  The Ephs will aim this weekend to become the first New England team to capture two national titles.

Second-ranked Williams will face its toughest foe of the year in Friday’s semifinal.  Guilford, ranked third in the country (and ranked first for a good portion of the year) has, like Williams, had a dominant year.  They are experienced, relying on three senior stars who played in last year’s Final Four and helped lead the team to NCAA tourney appearances the prior two years.   They are also likely to have a huge crowd presence in Salem, as Guilford is only two hours from the Salem Civic Center (Guilford recently won the ODAC conference tourney, which is held in the same building, so they are well-acquainted with the court), and almost its entire roster consists of local players.  Guilford’s top player is all-American (and South regional player of the year) center Tyler Sanborn, who is a load inside at 6’10, 260.  He is by far the toughest interior player the Ephs have faced this year, and probably for several years.  If Williams’ own stellar center tandem of Joe Geoghegan and Troy Whittington can handle Sanborn without much help inside (or better yet, get him in foul trouble on defense), the Ephs will have a very good shot.   Sanborn is scary good, averaging 20 points, 14 boards, and two blocks in 26 minutes per game.  Joe and Troy, both fantastic players in their own right, COMBINE to average 18-14-2.5 in 37 minutes per game.  Guilford’s other star is all-region guard Clay Hanson, who is nearly as productive as Williams’ own likely all-American Blake Schultz, and like Schultz is a deadly outside shooter (he is Guilford’s all-time leader in threes) who can also take it to the hole.  Finally, both teams have very good point guards in James Wang for Williams and Rhett Bhonner for Guilford.  Wang is a bit more dynamic as a scorer, and this is a match-up the Ephs will likely need to win if they hope to take Guilford down.  Each team has a future star off the bench in precocious frosh Josh Pittman for Guilford (a great shooter / scorer) and Nate Robertson for the Ephs (more of a playmaker, less of a scoring threat).  The x-factors for the Ephs may be Harlan Dodson and in particular Alex Rubin, both of whom are capable of scoring in bunches and will hurt any team that focuses too intensely on stopping Schultz and Wang.   The teams look VERY even on paper and it should be a great match-up.  You can see highlights of one of Guilford’s recent NCAA victories here.  I especially enjoyed the announcer’s proclivity for shouting “give a dog a bone!”

If the Ephs can get past Guilford, they’ll play the winner of the Wisconsin Stevens-Point vs. Randolph Macon (like Guilford, a member of the very tough ODAC conference) semifinal.  Both teams are, unfortunately, familiar to Eph fans.  WSP won the first of two straight national titles by knocking off Williams in dramatic fashion to end the Ephs’ most recent Salem trip.  They don’t have the same star power as the 2004 edition (two all-American players) but they are very balanced and efficient on both offense and defense, and have tons of tourney experience (they are playing in the tourney for the fourth straight year).  They play in the WIAC, the best D-III conference in the country most years, so they are certainly battle tested. WSP’s top players are veterans Matt Moses ’10, Louis Hurd ’11, and Jared Jenkins ’11, but like the Ephs, they have seven legit players, all of whom can do some serious damage if given the opportunity.

WSP will be favored against RMC, which handed the Ephs their only loss of this season back in December, when the Ephs fumbled away a huge second half lead in a game they had been dominating.  During the post game interview on Saturday, the Ephs revealed that they’ve kept a copy of the RMC program in the locker room, and they look at it before each game to remind them to value every possession.  RMC’s Danny Jones ate the Ephs alive, but Williams has improved on defense considerably since then.  RMC is another team which doesn’t feature one or two stars, but rather relies on very balanced scoring, a deep bench, players who know their roles well, and fantastic defense.  They won’t wow you in warm-ups, but they are well-coached and play within themselves.  Defensive stopper Jordan Brown is a tough match-up for any offensive player and will likely be assigned to Blake Schultz should the teams face off again.  Eric Pugh is a stellar outside shooter who earlier this year had a big game to help RMC beat D-1 American, and also lit up F&M in the elite eight.  Brandon Braxton is a talented 6’9 center, and Jones can score in bunches, as the Ephs learned first hand.    But really, RMC, who as another local school will surely have a huge crowd on hand in Salem, has 8-9 guys that it relies on almost equally, which makes them difficult to prepare for.

The Ephs’ fan support was absolutely tremendous last weekend.  Great to see the type of school spirit and community bonding that a big-time sporting event can engender on campus.  I hope at least some students and community members are able to make the long trip to Salem on Friday, to help counteract what will surely be a massive crowd of Guilford supporters.   [Update, based on the post comments below and this article, it sounds like a small but hopefully boisterous group of supporters will be on hand].  Will we see and hear more magical moments like this shot, five years ago, from Guilford’s Jordan Snipes, or Tucker Kain’s famous game-tying three vs. Amherst?  We’ll find out in a few hours!  Good luck to the Ephs!

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Sports, film, history, politics, the World Cup, etc.

Please continue the discussion here. Comments have been moved from Speak Up.

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Commencement Line-up …

… alums Jay McInerney as commencement speaker, Martha Coakley as baccalaureate speaker.

A few thoughts … I have long advocated having, all things being equal, Ephs deliver these speeches.  They are far more likely to tailor their speeches to Williams in particular, and to have something of relevance and potential resonance to impart to undergrads, as opposed to the typically trite, platitudinous, recycled commencement address (I’ve sat through or read quite a few at various institutions, and it always amazes me how uniformly bad they are).  That being said, last year’s speaker, despite being an Eph, didn’t exactly light the science quad on fire, and I find McInerney to be an odd choice.  I am guessing he will, at the very least, be charming / funny / entertaining, but it seems like Williams could have found an alum who is a bit more, errr, current.  For example, if choosing a writer, why not Bethany McLean, author of The Smartest Guys in the Room (and no, I don’t just say that because she is gorgeous) … like McInerney, smart and well-spoken, but her areas of expertise would CERTAINLY be of a lot more interest / relevance to current undergrads.  As a general rule, if someone has recently appeared on both Colbert and The Daily Show, they are likely to resonate with college kids.  Coakley, on the other hand, I think is a brilliant choice.  Everyone knows who she is, and she almost certainly will have something compelling to say about both success and failure.  As for the honorary degrees, great call honoring local luminary Stephanie Wilson (the theme, if there is one this year, seems to be Berkshire County natives, as both Coakley and McInerney also hail from the region).

The undergrads seem less than excited by McInerney as well.  A few interesting tidbits from this thread.  First, the list of speakers at small liberal arts colleges (notable exception: Maddow) shows just how hard of a time Williams and its peers appear to have in drawing big-name speakers for commencements.  Second, I thought the comment about Coakley and the Guadino Option was brilliant … (speaking of which, I think the Gaudino Option itself is a great idea).

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Jamie Neal

To the Williams Community,

I am shocked and saddened to report that, while on leave from the College, Jamie Neal died suddenly at home.

Our hearts go out to her family and friends at this profoundly sad time.

Her obituary is available at http://www.shepherdfuneralhome.com/obituaries.html

Jamie came here in Fall 2006 as a member of the Class of 2010 and was most recently in residence at the College in Fall 2008. In addition to her being a member of the varsity basketball team, she will be remembered by those who knew her here as being a young woman full of life with a natural way of growing close to people.

Members of the campus community are understandably unsettled by this news. I encourage us all to be aware of who around us might be in need of our support.

A celebration of Jamie’s life is scheduled for Friday, March 26, at 11 a.m. at the First Parish Church in Duxbury, Mass.

Regards,
Karen Merrill
Dean of the College

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Prof. K. Scott Wong on Immigration and Citizenship, Chinese Exclusion / Japanese Internment

You can register for phone conferences with Professor Wong on these topics here:

http://alumni.williams.edu/ilog

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Williams in Africa

Check out this great web site chronicling the work Williams prof Kiaran Honderich and her students have done to train AIDS activists in Africa.   Read more about the Williams in Africa initiative here.  Have any Ephblog readers been involved in either effort?  Would be great to hear more …

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Choose your own adventure

Mile Klee ’07 writes a Choose Your Own Adventure blog post.

Oh, and bonus Eph connection.

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Mexico: Civil Society, on the brink …

A promotion of (and handy container for) discussion of the situation in Mexico, started in “Purple Noise” and continued elsewhere. Click on “Comments” to see Dick’s comment which prompted the discussion.

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Photo ID, #102

It’s Monday again, so it’s time for our second Photo ID of the new era. For those of you who are new to the game, here’s how it works: I post a mystery photo taken somewhere at Williams. You post comments guessing where the photo was taken and what is pictured in it, and also post memories and reminiscences about the place or object. Sound like fun? Here we go again:


Photo from Flickr user Dread Pirate Ruth; original photo here (warning: may contain puzzle answer).

From what vantage point was this photo taken, and what campus area is pictured?

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Mexico, Child Labour, Birth Control and those Catholics…drugs

Conversation between Ken & John Drew; moved here from Purple Noise (sorry we don’t have a “discussion” section yet).

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