Currently browsing the archives for January 2011
A Williams sweatshirt makes an appearance about 1:55 into this 2-minute rap video.
Perhaps that’s a lame excuse for posting this here. Yes, I’m trying to boost the YouTube hit count of the video, of which I am the star. There is a slightly less egocentric angle to this as well, though, which is that I and others are interested in educational uses of science songs and are compiling relevant info — including a database of 3600+ songs — at www.SingAboutScience.org. Perhaps other instructor/teacher/professor types will find it useful.
As a further attempt at a Williams tie-in, I could add that I wrote one of my very first science songs, “Sphingo,” as a means of avoiding work on my senior thesis (on sphingolipid metabolism).
OK, enough of this. Thanks for humoring me.
Pete Scerbo, who represented The Springs Pool and Spa’s owner, Amy Patten, said the business won’t operate this summer during a meeting of the Community Preservation Committee Tuesday night.
“At this point in time, we’re not going to be opening the pool. It’s something we’re not taking on this year,” Scerbo said Wednesday morning.
The business’ website states it’s closed and up for sale.
The current owners took over in 2003 from the George family, which had owned it since 1950 and operated it as the “Sand Springs Pool & Spa.” And the 74-degree lukewarm springs have been a public ammenity for much longer. According to the Depression-era Federal Writer’s Project’s Guide to Massachusetts People and Places, Sand Springs Pool had a bathing hut erected “as early as 1800,” and “had been used for hundreds of years” by Native Americans before the settlement of Williamstown by Europeans.
When I was a student, Sand Springs Pool was a popular stop among local businesses on the advertising solicitation rounds. But because Williams has long had its own recreational facilities, Sand Springs Pool has rarely loomed large in the minds of students. (it’s a separate business, the Sand Springs Bottling Company, that has provided Williams students with ginger ale, club soda, and bottled water).
Considering that Williams is the alma mater of G. Stanley Hall, the founder of the American Psychological Association, it should come as no surprise that a number of Eph alums and professors have recently been engaged in newsworthy psychological research:
- Professor Nate Kornell was quoted in a NYTimes article on how test-taking is the most effective way to learn. Professor Susan Engel had a different take on testing published in the NYTimes back in September.
- Professor Saul Levmore published an article on CNN discussing the psychology of a Jared Loughner type individual.
- Professors Kenneth Savitsky and Nicholas Epley received a lot of media attention for a study conducted in part at Williams, in which they demonstrated the “closeness communication bias” in action.
- HBS professor Mike Norton ’97 continues to publish interesting research. Among his most recent publications, he demonstrates in the Harvard Business Review that eloquence is a more effective rhetorical strategy than honesty. (And no, there is no truth to the rumor that Fox News subsequently provided a lifetime grant to Professor Norton to further explore these findings …).
- Legendary Cornell professor James Maas ’60, whose Psych 101 class has achieved “near-mythical status”, was interviewed by the CBN regarding his research on the benefits of sleep (now THERE is a finding I can get behind!).
- Sam Sommers ’97, as always, has interesting things to say on his Psychology Today blog, this time about our susceptibility to fraudsters (I will refrain from comment as to the applicability of this blog post to recent happenings at Williams), as well as about the egomanical nature of daily life.
- More locally, Eph alum Jeff Johnson ’74 writes an advice column for the North Adams Transcript.
- This isn’t quite as recent, but also worth watching is Professor Fein’s talk on racial prejudice, delivered at the 2010 Reunion Weekend.
- Another slightly dated link of interest is this NYTimes Op-Ed on bullying by Professors Susan Engel and Marlene Sandstrom, also from the summer of 2010.
I was struck how throughout all the speeches there was a link between liberal arts education and secularization and how this chain changed to reflect its contemporaneous period.
Thank you to all who took the time to write and share their thoughts that initiated each of the discussions on the inaugural speeches.
And, thanks to Dave for picking this theme. For me, as someone who is more observer than participant in the World of Williams College, I benefited from this window into Williams history. It gave me time to think about Williams in relation to other institutions and their approaches to undergraduate education within the context of various eras.
Certainly Dave can feel satisfaction that this topic and his hard work in recruiting the discussants have produced a better understanding of Williams, the personalities who have shaped our history, and the tangible and intangible results. Thank you, Dave.
And the discussants can be satisfied that their time, efforts , and insights have been well-received. Thank you, distinguished writers,
While ‘comments’ have varied in tone and point-of-view, one thing is shown exactly, the EphBlog community cares about the college and is more than willing to jump in with both feet to share their opinions. Thank you one and all.
If you have comments on the now-completed Winter Study, please enter them here!
I read this article on the Record. I concur with the author on the opinion that “eliminating the campus newspaper subscription is doing a great disservice to Williams students”.
The article can be found at http://record.williams.edu/wp/?p=15779
(Ed Note: The story refers to dropping the paper subscription to the New York Times)
By Francis Oakley, President Emeritus
Re-reading the document:
I should report that that process was for me an exercise of “emotion recollected in tranquility”—or, at least, quasi-tranquility. Given the passivity (politically speaking) that set in during the mid-nineties among college students nationwide and has continued on into the present, it is easy to forget now that the years from the sixties to the early-seventies and then from the late-seventies on into the mid-nineties were marked by a good deal of student activism whether political or micropolitical. In this respect Williams was no exception. As a result, when I stood up in Chapin Hall to deliver my address I had to do so without being secure in the knowledge that the orderly student protest against the College’s investment policies that the Williams Anti Apartheid Coalition was mounting outside the building would not modulate into some sort of messy disruption within—something that had in fact happened at other places. Happily, it did not , and I was able to concentrate with no more than marginal unease on the message I wished to deliver.
Rehearsing the educational “verities”:
As for the verities touched upon in the first section of my discourse, they were a matter for me then of passionate conviction. A quarter of a century later, they remain for me a matter of no less passionate belief.
In the remarks on modernization/secularization with which I led into my affirmation of those verities, I can detect in retrospect the impact on me of the old secularization hypothesis stemming from the Enlightenment , developed later by Max Weber, and popularized in the 1960s and 1970s by people like Peter Berger and Harvey Cox. I.e. the notion that the remorseless progress of technological modernization /secularization necessarily brings with it the privatization of religion or an actual decline in religious commitment. And that means that for the mid-eighties I was a bit (though not all that much) behind the theoretical curve. That hypothesis in its older form had seemed verified by the Western European experience, but events have since proved it to be inadequate to encompass the complexity of developments both in North America and in other parts of the world—e.g. Poland, Iran. Among other things, running counter to its claims was the 1980s re-entry of Protestant fundamentalism into the political arena here in the United States, as well as the historic recovery of vitality by Islam in so many parts of the world, Europe not excluded. The secularization hypothesis in its original form appears thus to be no more than provincial in its explanatory power as many parts of the world experience once
more the “de-privatization “ of religion.
Liberal Arts/Arts and Sciences:
I find that people are sometimes prone to equating the liberal arts more or less with the humanities alone, Read more
Tired of debating the merits of flogged out classic songs and middle age alternative music? Sick of arguments about the reasons for a pole being on top of an ice cream cart? The modern music corner strives to take a look at some of what youth is listening to that is produced today. How about we blog about some tunes in the top ten for a change?
Today’s song is Bottoms Up currently #27 on the charts, peaking at #6.
The fast transitions and flash images in this video are not to me liking. However, the style, the music, and the way in which Trey Songz and Nicki Minaj put together an interesting “male v female” exchange to state the obvious reality in the form of critique and criticism is really amazing. Talent.
Like or dislike?
U.S. News and World Report has tried to do so by comparing donation rates of alums from over 1700 colleges and universities. While Williams did very well (6th nationally with a reported rate of 57.6%), we still came in slightly behind both Amherst (59.5%) and Middlebury (60.1%). The free portion of the article can be seen here. How much do you think the Alumni Development Office would like to inch Williams ahead of Amherst and Midd? How could Williams increase the percentage of alumni donors?
I used to enjoy the phone calls I would get from my class agent, who was a friend of mine that I didn’t really otherwise keep in touch with. I would make him call me two or three times to chat before I would send in a check. This year I got form e-mails from a different agent (this time from a former entrymate) and our class president. I think the phone calls are likely more effective, but obviously more time consuming.
(Ed note: here are 126 alums a class agent might like to call)
I’m sure you’re all able to see the coverage and the dramatic images. I’ll translate/quote from an Iran expert I heard a few months ago: “Don’t believe a word I say. Find out what is happening there, check the reality of the situation for yourself. Everything I’ve just told you, may change fundamentally in 48 hours.”
My best hopes for all the peoples involved. Open thread.
Update: In addition to the 17 Williams alumni mention by esoskin, sources indicate there are at least one Williams Prof and perhaps several students in Cairo.
It is challenging to offer a view of a President of Williams College. By definition these men are all leaders and scholars, administrators and planners, and the recipients of respect from students, faculty, and alumni.
For me, the subject is John Wesley Chandler, still very much with us! In the off-chance he should see this, my sincere apologies in advance for whatever I have misunderstood.
I am struck by President Chandlers’ having presented analyses
of the accomplishments and styles of performance of Presidents Mark Hopkins, Harry A Garfield, and John E Sawyer at the convocation on September 25, 2010 for the induction of President Adam F Falk.
To have served as President for twelve years, to view the past 34 years after his own inauguration as President, and now to offer these views to an incoming president is passing on a heritage and a sense of responsibility to the college. This may be what Chandler himself felt and received at his own convocation.
It occurs to me that what Chandler selects as most important to import to Adam Falk in his histories of the three past presidents, has been shaped by his own time past to the minute he stepped to the lectern.
And how did these life-time conclusions compare with his own induction speech
and presentation of the future after so many years gone by?
Television journalist Phil Shuman ’79 is an investigative reporter and sometimes-anchor for FOX 11 in Los Angeles. When motocross organizers filled Dodger Stadium with 550 truckloads of dirt for last week’s Monster Energy Supercross event, Shuman was on the scene and ready to try out the track. Like Anderson Cooper after a hurricane, Shuman might be feeling a little banged up after this live, on-camera mishap, which is making the rounds on YouTube:
Tomorrow’s basketball game between the last two NESCAC champions, fourth ranked Middlebury and fifth ranked Williams, could be one for the ages. Much like last season’s battles (both won in hard-earned fashion by the Ephs), Williams is the strongest offensive team Middlebury has faced all year, and Midd plays the toughest D the Ephs have seen, so something has to give. Williams’ oft-overlooked defense is also tremendous, and ranks second only to Middlebury nationally in terms of limiting opponent’s shooting percentage. You can watch a few video highlights (or really, more like random tidbits than highlights) of the Ephs’ recent victories over Wesleyan and Skidmore here, here and here. Watch this week’s Eph basketball show here. Williams has an extensive game preview here, including links for how to watch live. Following the men’s contest, the tenth-ranked Eph women take on the Panthers as well. Alas, the crowd may be limited for this one, considering that few people are on campus at Williams this weekend, due to the winter break.
My full game preview continues below the break.
Buster Olney at ESPN creates one of the greatest gedanken experiments in sports history, pondering what THE BOSS would have done, if he had access to Twitter.
Here’s the one of greatest interest to us:
@FayVincent. I accept the suspension. Doesn’t mean I like you. Please go take flying leap off Thompson Memorial Chapel.
Absolutely priceless. Who knew Buster was so familiar with Williamsiana?
This election video generated an interesting discussion at WSO.
I think we actually are disagreeing on the distinction between racism and xenophobia. The ad is based in xenophobia (and nationalism), and it is VERY xenophobic, and of course a component of that is racism, but on the whole, that is not a defining feature of the ad (ie they have kept the racism component small). I think you are claiming that the ad is outrageously racist whereas I would call it outrageously xenophobic. I think I would be comfortable arguing that Avatar is more racist than this clip. They are not saying “reduce the debt because the Chinese aren’t Caucasian and we don’t want to be ruled by an inferior race”; they are saying “reduce the debt because the Chinese are Chinese and we don’t want to be ruled by outsiders and an inferior country”.
You write that as if it is obvious that xenophobia is a bad thing . . .
Still frames from videos are often unflattering. Eph connection? Uh, whatever.
The SOTU rebuttal! So there we were on CNN, the flag, the “We the People” graphic, the tea kettle on the boil … why didn’t the director tell me (R MN) which camera was taking the shot? And body language is soooo important! Uffda!
Ed note: for those uncertain of ‘uffda’
Writing in the Albany Times-Union’s Outdoors blog, Herb Terns provides some great pictures and a nice account of his recent cross-country ski outing to the top of Mt. Greylock:
My trip started out at the visitor’s center on Rockwell Road in Lanesborough. The center is a comfortable place with a fireplace, nice view of the Taconic Range and a big relief map of Mt. Greylock itself.
And get ready for that contest in which readers of EphBlog test their own sensibilities against the sense of the members of the Academy.
This Jane Austen moment is your opportunity to show these smartasses who has the real brains! Your predictions in the nine categories below the fold!
All 10 movies for best picture are now listed!
Prizes will be awarded!
This discussion on President John Edward Sawyer ’39 is being led by his grandson Rob Sawyer ’03
Thank you for joining me today to discuss the induction speech of President John “Jack” Sawyer. If you haven’t had the opportunity to examine the speech you can find it here. Reading the speech I was struck by three themes that are interwoven throughout his induction.
The first theme is Change and the importance of Strong Principled Institutions. He illustrates these points by relating how far America has come in just under two centuries of existence and how it is as important as ever to stand up to her ideals. He also focuses on the need to be able to adjust and change institutions so that this can be accomplished.
The second is how the speech foreshadows the transformational changes he accomplished during his presidency, many based on these same idealistic principals of inclusiveness, equal rights and opportunity.
The third is his focus on the Williams faculty and how they can add value to students and the broader educational establishment.
I will go into each theme in much greater detail, however to put his speech in context I will give you a brief overview of President Sawyer’s background Read more
A reader put together this spreadsheet of admissions data (xls) from the New York Times. He writes:
The most striking number is the low number of waitlist acceptances at the LACs this year. A lot of schools took zero and, overall, the waitlist acceptances are at historically low levels. Hard to read much into this as LAC statistics are subject to small sample noise, but it may be that customers are finding private schools more attractive with public universities collapsing under budget pressures. I don’t know.
You can sort the LACs by acceptance rate (or by number of applications). I think the Middlebury and Wesleyan are playing some games (their waitlist acceptances are not reported here), but I would think that Williams has got to be a little concerned by two years of increasing acceptance rates relative to its LAC peers. Again, it’s hard to draw conclusions in the face of small sample noise, but it’s odd to see the USNEWS top-rated LAC shedding applicants. On the plus side, Williams’ yield appears to be the highest among LACs. My hunch is that the “jock school” brand has really started to take hold, which has an upside and a downside in the marketplace. If the Williams Board were on top of things, they would be considering whether or not that’s really the brand they want, because they could be at the point where it is set in concrete.
Other comments? (But, please, look at the data before sounding off.)
Also, we have readers from Middlebury and Wesleyan. Are you “playing games?”
When you purchase a book on Amazon or a song from Itunes, you are directed to a batch of recommended books and songs, respectively, purchased by like-minded consumers. So I am curious to compile two things: first, a list of leading internet blogs / internet sites devoted primarily to higher education issues (in other words, the internet sites that share most in common with Ephblog), and second, a list of blogs / sites, more generally, that Ephblog readers regularly patronize. After comments, I will post a list of both categories.
In the first category, certainly, the NYTimes The Choice blog qualifies. Same goes for the Dartmouth, Middlebury, and Wesleyan blogs, the three blogs most similar to Ephblog. Are there other higher education-focused blogs /websites that Ephblog readers enjoy?
My own favorite general blog / sites, other than Ephblog, include Talking Points Memo (political blog with a liberal slant), Huffington Post (liberal political blog that also covers entertainment and humor, among other topics), the Blue Screen (a NYGiants blog, so that won’t interest most readers I imagine), Bill Simmons on ESPN.com, and Prince of Petworth (that one is focused on neighborhoods in close proximity to me, and would not be of any interest to non-D.C. residents). What blogs and pages are in the regular rotation for other Ephblog readers?
(Ed note: Illustration added for visual interest only. No endorsement of the product is made or intended. Readers are advised that weeping, hugging, and/or personal revelatory moments may occur. )
Your probably saw that NYT music critic Anthony Tommasini was conducting a poll/survey/mind read to determine the top 10 classical composers
Anybody’s list of post-Baroque composers would probably include Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart, Schoenberg, Haydn, Stravinsky, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Handel, Bach, and Debussy.
So just in: 1 Bach. 2 Beethoven. 3 Mozart. 4 Schubert. 5 Debussy. 6 Stravinsky. 7 Brahms. 8 Verdi. 9 Wagner. 10 Bartók. Wha … Bartok?!?!
A caricature of Bartok from Radio Times, May 18, 1934
The Guardian said today “does it reveal more about the tastes of the east-coast haute bourgeoisie than anything else?”.
Well, here I am on the west coast and probably as much a peasant as any of those Hungarians Bartok used for inspiration of his ethnocentric music.
Come on, Ronit, this is a four-seamer just for you (sort of like an outswinger)! Hit it out of the park!
The speech is here: http://archives.williams.edu/files/Chandler-induction-speech-1973.pdf
President Chandler is a pivotal president in Williams history: http://archives.williams.edu/presidents/chandler.php.
Relating his speech to his considerable accomplishments in fabric and instruction during his tenure should prove very instructive for the writer and the readers.
Please let me know if you are the one to accept this wholly rewarding task.
The due date is January 27th.
dick at swart dot org
“Our mission is to make the world one big study group,” says Phil Hill, chief executive of OpenStudy, a social-learning site that started as a project of Emory University and Georgia Tech. It opened to the public in September.
Many of the social-learning sites are, like OpenStudy, for-profit companies—or at least they aspire to be once their services take off. And some of their business plans rely on a controversial practice: paying students for their notes.
The big question facing all of these sites—a group that includes Mixable, from Purdue University, and GradeGuru, from McGraw-Hill—is whether students are really interested in social learning online.
It’s interesting to see universities themselves behind these products (Emory’s OpenStudy brands itself “the Match.com of study help”) — especially given the extent to which professors already complain that students become too engrossed in their laptops, detracting from engagement in the classroom. But I guess schools smell the money. Not so Andrew Magliozzi of Harvard, who isn’t following in the footsteps of Mark “Money” Zuckerberg:
When Andrew Magliozzi posted his notes from a Harvard course on a public blog, the professor told him to stop because he was disturbing the intimacy of the classroom.
Mr. Magliozzi, who declined to identify the professor, took the notes down. But the incident spurred him to create a nonprofit Web site, FinalsClub.org, that aspires to disturb the intimacy of classrooms across America’s elite colleges.
“I’m asking to change the default setting on education from private to public,” says Mr. Magliozzi, a 2005 Harvard graduate.
His vehicle for accomplishing that is a free online forum where student bloggers can share class notes and form study groups. Mr. Magliozzi chose the name as an ironic nod to Harvard’s final clubs—those elite organizations, immortalized in the film about the founders of Facebook, The Social Network, which are rumored to maintain private caches of study guides for Harvard courses.
Purdue’s Mixable, in contrast, relies on a Facebook plug-in, Read more
What with the Royal Wedding setting the pace and a flurry of eph unions bound to happen in the spring, EphBlog’s Fashion and Society editor wonders what readers think about conspicuous consumption in the current economy?
The UK will be the focus of attention! Here is a report on making a wedding dress for £10 from the Guardian.
Please answer considering reduction of the dowry, your place in the public eye, and indeed, your prospects for marriage, if any.
(Ed note: This is a Sunday Feature, if I’ve ever seen one!)
The subject of this Winter Study is Phinney Baxter. Ephemera indicate the tenor of the times in which he served. This ad from the Williams Record indicates the easier-going Light up a Lucky style on campus. . Droodles (what ever happened to Roger Price). Lucky Strike – I was the campus representative, doling out those three-packs of Luckies. Pall Mall, and Herbert Tarryetons’ to my unsuspecting peers. Of course the robed co-ed would produce a look of ‘women on campus????’ or ‘women on campus!!!!’. Either way, for all the wrong reasons.
ATTENTION READERS. If you would like a full-size version of the ad shown above, simply send two bulls eye labels from your packs of Luckies to I NEED THAT AD, PO BOX 1, Hacking, Carolina. Or email me for a readable scan at dick at swart dot org (tech friends say this is the best way to write your email so naked ladies, real estate, and offers to aid residents of Nigeria are avoided).
MA Town Will Weigh In On Vermont Biomass Plant
Friday, 01/21/11 5:50pm
Susan Keese – Manchester, Vt.
(Host) Massachusetts will be allowed to play a role in the Vermont Public Service Board’s review of a proposed 30 megawatt biomass power plant in Pownal.
The plant, which also includes a wood pellet factory, would be built on the former Green Mountain Race Track. The site is four miles from Williams College and the business district of Williamstown Massachusetts.
Jim Kolesar is a Williams College spokesman. (Kolesar) “There were several possible adverse affects on college property including affects on air quality and traffic through campus, and also the effects on woodlands wich we own quite a lot of very close to the project.”
(Host) Both the town and the College filed motions to intervene in the Vermont proceedings that will determine whether or not Beaver Wood Energy gets to build the plant. The Massachusetts-based Berkshire Regional Planning Commission also asked to be included. Beaver Wood Energy claimed Vermont’s Public Service Board has no jurisdiction outside the state. But in a recent order, Hearing officer Edward McNamara accepted all three out-of-state-motions to participate. He wrote that, given the close proximity of the proposed project to Massachusetts, residents of that state may face greater impact from the project than Vermont residents.
This may be the beginning of the end for viable alternative fuel in Pownal. Williams appears to be more openly hostile towards the plant now.
Confusion, multiple arguments, lawyers from multiple parties. Cost, cost, cost. This is how the area loses any chance at viable industrial productivity. Even with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives on the table. Even with a starving economy. Even with a global war that has ever increasing costs, now tallying trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives.
Must read: this great article on Jeff Thaler ’74’s tremendous Winter Study class, which combines student-teaching with living with a refugee family. [As a side note, for anyone interested in learning about the refugee experience, both before and after arriving in the United States, I highly recommend reading What is the What]. The article features Jenny Tang ’13, who is also pictured below.
Thaler was inspired by his own experience as an undergrad:
Nothing Jeff Thaler learned from any classroom in the bucolic western Massachusetts town of Amherst had as much impact as what he gleaned from a five-month experiment in “uncomfortable learning” at the end of his sophomore year.
He spent five weeks living with a black family in Georgia and working at a funeral home. Next came a stay in rural Appalachia with a disabled Kentucky coal miner and his wife, followed by a stint on a small family farm in Iowa.
Finally, Thaler spent six weeks living with a black family in Detroit and working in a Chrysler factory where “nobody knew we were college students,” he said.
They kept journals. They wrote papers. They read extensively.
“It was,” he said, “a very powerful educational experience for all of us.”
Thaler is trying to pass that on to current Williams students, six of whom are currently immersed in Portland’s immigrant and refugee population, volunteering at local schools or adult education programs and living with host families.
(Ed note: Jeff also describes his own group of students. This may of interest and input to the discussion going on in the comments DS 8:34am PST)
‘Aliu’ is Andrew Liu ’11
President Baxter graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1914, went on to pursue a PhD in history at Harvard, and then after teaching for several years returned to serve as President of the College from 1937 to 1961. He begins his speech by talking about World War I, and how “none [in the Class of 1914] realized that [they] were on the eve of a world war, whose consequences would shape our lives.”
He continues: “we who were leaving this Berkshire valley perceived that we were about to enter a world of more rapid change. We were still ignorant, however, of the lengths to which that acceleration would go.”
The Purple Bubble has been around for at least 100 years, it seems. So, “what can we do in our colleges and universities now to help the next generation do better?”