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Newton Davis ’12 named a Truman Scholar

Katerina King, Director of Fellowships at Williams has just told EphBlog that Newton Davis ’12 has been selected as a 2011 Truman Scholar. Davis is one of 60 selected from 196 college junior finalists representing 134 colleges and universities.

Madeleine K. Albright, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, made the announcement today. The scholars were elected by seventeen independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of ‘making a difference.’ The original pool of applicants for the prestigious awards numbered 602.

The mission of the Truman Scholarship Foundation is:
to find and recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service; and
to provide them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service.

http://truman.gov/

Congratulations to Newton Davis ’12

“Born and raised in Saginaw, MI, Newton is a History and Arabic Studies double major at Williams College. Learning from his educational experiences, he knows the importance of education in the lives of America’s youth. For that reason, he hopes to be a change agent in U.S. education system by fighting for equal access and equality.”

And thank you to Katarina King for providing the guidance to our Williams students that helps them have their exceptional talents recognized.

A more detailed story here.

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CONGRATULATIONS to the Class of ’15

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl03ZGJcHO0
(Video: the Springstreeters sing “I’m Feeling Good”)

As Eph ’11 pointed out on Speak Up!, admissions decisions are out. Congratulations to all those who are now considering joining the Williams College Class of 2015 — you have the opportunity to spend the next four years at the finest undergraduate institution in America.

Judging by the exclamation points in their Facebook updates, those admitted are excited. Among those with public Facebook updates to that effect (last names abbreviated):

Nathan P.:

Accepted: HARVARD, STANFORD, Colombia University, University of Pennsylvania, Williams College, University of Virginia, Hillsdale College Not so much: Yale, Princeton So, I didn’t get my favorite. But even so, I’m surprisingly NOT disappointed – just excited at what’s to come next! :-)

Sandro R.:
Williams College: Accepted :D

Nestor O.:

Got Accepted to Williams College :D

Andrew V.:

Accepted into Williams College!!!

Cody R., whose mother writes:

 I am the mother of two Ephs, Class of ’12 and ’15!!! Congratulations Cody on your admission to Williams College!

Andrew C.:

Accepted to Brown and Williams, today!

And then there’s Twitter user Kyle, Kyl3dk05, who would like to “become a character concept artist in the video game industry”:

YAY, I GOT INTO WILLIAMS COLLEGE!

Admitted to Williams College — definitely the best reason for an excited, all-caps tweet!

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Eph Bookshelf: Mr. and Mrs. Prince and Williams College


A recent comment from “eph law student” brought the legend of Lucy Terry Prince back to the attention of EphBlog readers:

I know this is an old post, but I just discovered this remarkable woman during a course on American Legal History, and her connection to Williams does appear to be credible.

Eph law student then linked to a PBS article, which states:

Lucy argued unsuccessfully before the trustees of Williams College for the admission of one of her sons, skillfully citing scripture and law “in an earnest and eloquent speech of three hours.”

Later, when a Colonel Eli Bronson attempted to steal land owned by the Princes, the case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. Lucy argued against two of the leading lawyers in the state, one of whom later became chief justice of Vermont — and she won. Samuel Chase, the presiding justice of the Court, said that her argument was better than he’d heard from any Vermont lawyer.

Like many stories that are “too good to fact-check,” credulous journalists and historians have perpetuated the legend of Lucy Terry Prince, who never argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Chase, and probably never argued for her son’s admission to Williams College. And it’s somewhat unfortunate: the myth of Lucy Terry Prince has obscured a remarkable true story, chronicled through painstaking research in the recent Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary Eighteenth Century Family Moved Out of Slavery and Into Legend.

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Wheelbarrows Full of Cash

Chad Orzel ’93 on the job market for physicists.

It’s not clear from this report what the increasing fraction of new Ph.D. physicists with potentially permanent jobs are doing. This will presumably be in the forthcoming report on initial employment of Ph.D.’s. If it reflects an increasing acceptance that the pursuit of a tenured professorship is not the only acceptable career for a physicist, that’s probably to the good.

Unless, of course, they’re going into finance. Interestingly, the only period in the dataset where permanent positions outnumbered postdocs lines up pretty well with the years of the dotcom boom, when anybody with technical skills could get wheelbarrows full of cash on Wall St.. Which led directly to the breaking of the world economy when the finance industry went nuts on complicated ways of hiding insanely risky investments. This was not a positive development, to put it mildly.

1) Most of the physicists that I know in finance seems as happy with their career choices as Orzel is with his. Why the hate?

2) I do not think (contrary opinions welcome!) that Orzel is joking. He really thinks that it is a bad idea for a physicist to work on Wall Street. Why? Does Orzel really know enough about other people’s hopes and preferences to offer informed judgment on the choices that they are making? I doubt it.

3) A professor who thinks that it is easy for “anybody with technical skills” to “get wheelbarrows full of cash on Wall St.” has never worked on Wall Street.

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Williams Bond Issue Successful …

“Williams College plots campus redevelopment” , reports the Boston Business Journal today.

When the issue through JPMorgan was first announced, Bloomberg News contacted America’s favorite source of financial advice, EphBlog. Our wise statement to the press was “No Comment”. Besides, they could have had some insights here in an early announcement discussion.

Now the sale is complete, I am sure that more comments may be forthcoming, at least right here.

Follow up story on Library to be Built

http://iberkshires.com/new/story.php?story_id=38119

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“Precious few admitted in the toughest admissions year ever …”

Todays Daily Beast, my source of all wisdom flags 10 admission trends in an era of soaring waitlists.

Here are four:

• College Applicants Are More Interested in Southern Schools
• Applicants from Technology Havens Have the Admissions Edge
• More Applicants Are Interested in Creative Writing
• More Californians Are Applying Out of State



(from an admissions form)

” … yo, Dude! I know I’m like from San Jose, but I know I can fit in at Ole Miss in a moment. After all, always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. As the man seize.

And speaking of admissions, it may be as Eph ’11 points out, time for those all-important letters to be going (via owl, I suppose) to the Class of ’15. Does any one know if the Strigiformes Strigidae have been released? I found a welcoming letter ready to go, but no trace of feathers …

PS writer quoted is William Faulkner … seemed appropriate to Ole Miss.

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Williams and the NCAA

Final article from several yeas ago in a three part series about Williams and the NCAA by Adam Bloch ’06.

Williams wonders what’s there to fix
Despite minor variations in opinion and the occasional renegade
viewpoint, a mostly united philosophycourses through the athletic
offices of Williams College with regard to a potential split in
the NCAA’s Division 3 because of membership growth. Men’s
basketball head coach Dave Paulsen described it best.
“I’m always of the opinion that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” he
said earlier this week.

There is certainly nothing broken for Williams when it comes to
athletics. The Ephs have built a reputation as a well-honed winning
machine on the collegiate fields, courts, rinks, and pools of
Division 3 over the past decade. Since the NESCAC began participating
in NCAA championships in 1993, Williams has won 13 national titles
and nine out of 10 Directors’ Cups – an award given yearly to the
college in each division with the most overall athletic success.
The Ephs have managed to win so much despite competing against a
constantly increasing field of opponents in Division 3 (417 other
colleges this year) that includes institutions with enrollments five
times as large and half as many teams. Success against that sort of
competition has made many Williams coaches content with the current
state of the division.

“I enjoy competing against the top track schools,” track and field
head coach Ralph White said. “If we split, they would be in a
different division than us just because they’re a different type of
school. I want to compete against the best. I definitely prefer
keeping things the way they are.”

White coached at three Division 1 universities before joining the
Ephs, and he isn’t the only Williams coach with previous experience
at a range of different institutions. Baseball head coach Bill
Barrale was on the staff at three other Division 3 schools before he
came to Williamstown.

“I don’t think you need to tamper with the system,” he said. “The
NCAA has unfortunately let this thing grow into a problem. How do you
group the schools now? By money, by state schools and private
schools?”

Read more

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Help Wanted: An exciting opportunity for the person and a much-needed goal for Williams …

The Office for Information Technology in Jesup works very closely with the Communications Office in Hopkins. Together they can determine and implement a strategy to help Williams become “a best in class web presence for the college”.

Terrific that the Help Wanted sign has appeared in the Jesup window. This is an exciting opportunity for the individual and a much needed and desired goal for Williams.

.Job Description:
Web Developer (WordPress)
Office for Information Technology

Williams College is searching for an experienced, energetic, proactive Web Developer to help its Web Operations team build and evolve a best in class web presence for the college. The full-time position requires strong PHP coding skills that will contribute to building highly functional tools for web publishing. While the ability to produce well structured, documented and secure code is central to this position, it also incorporates key elements of user interface design and involves some familiarity with network systems administration.

Web Operations at Williams is a cross functional team that works closely together in highly collaborative and positive environment. Candidates must be adept at working with other members of the Web Operations team on the collegeâ??s CMS (WordPress). In addition, the Web Developer needs to manage time effectively with minimal supervision, to accurately scope project components as well as to ensure that project components are delivered on time.

Go get ‘em. Beat Amherst!

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Not a Tiger Mother

Tom Addison ’84 was, along with notorious “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua, voted most likely to succeed in his high school class.  And succeed he has, despite, apparently, a slightly different life philosophy (I am confident, for example, that it would be beyond unthinkable for Chua or anyone in her family to turn Harvard down) focused on preserving access to nature, in particular, rock-climbing venues.  Kudos to Tom, who exemplifies what it means to be an Eph … always straddling the precarious line between Type A achiever and Type B enjoyer of nature / life!

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Division 4?

Second article in a three part series about Williams and the NCAA by Adam Bloch ’06.

Is it time for the NCAA to create a Division 4?
For the last several decades, people have become accustomed to NCAA’s
set structure of three divisions. Soon, everybody might have to get
used to a Division 4. Division 3 has been growing for years – ever
since the organization’s inception in 1973, though numbers have
increased far more rapidly in the past two decades. But it wasn’t
until 2002, a year before the divisional membership made a sudden
leap from 396 to 411 schools, that officials took action in response
to concerns surrounding such quick growth.

That’s when the division’s two most important governing bodies, the
Presidents Council and the Management Council, formed a joint
subcommittee to examine growth issues, beginning the first phase of
an effort that became known as the Future of Division 3.
“Coming out of the 2002 convention, we committed to a two-year
process to focus on the Division 3 philosophy statement and ensure
that there was greater consistency in the application at the
institutional level of that statement,” Division 3 Vice President Dan
Dutcher told the Transcript last week.

Read more

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Crazy U – Part II

Crazy U – One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College, cont’d.

In our last post, we considered Andy Ferguson’s interaction with the college admissions process.  In this section, we take up why-in-the-hell college costs so much, or what my guy calls the “Unanswered Question.”  Actually, it has been answered – and by an Eph!

The Fergster considers three possible causes for why college costs have been soaring well above inflation for decades:

1) The Government

Ferguson refers to, but doesn’t name, two “brave economists from the University of Oregon,” who “found that ‘each increase in Pell aid is matched nearly one for one by tuition increases.’” I was curious about what makes an economist “brave” in Ferguson’s mind, so I did some internetting. The brave U of O Ducks would appear to be Larry D.Singell, Jr. and Joe A. Stone, who co-wrote a paper entitled For Whom the Pell Tolls: The Response of University Tuition to Federal Grants-in-Aid.” According to his CV, Prof. Singell puts similarly lame puns in the titles of ALL of his papers, which may be why Ferguson considers him brave. (Memo to Dick and Brandi: If either of you ever make it down to Eugene, look this guy up, he needs your guys’s help.)

But get this – the theory that schools simply sop up federal student aid in the form of higher tuition (i.e., the ANSWER to the so-called Unanswered Question) is known as the “Bennett Hypothesis.” That would be William Bennett ’65, who gave the Baccalaureate address at my graduation. So it was an Eph who, in 1987, discovered the cause of skyrocketing tuition and told the world about it in the New York Times, which is prolly why the Fergunator never heard of it.

2) A Vast Ivory Tower Conspiracy

For me, this was the best part of the book, by far.  We meet Prof. Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University, to whom Ferguson put the “Unanswered Question,” whereupon Vedder gave a positively show-stopping performance.

“YOU WANT MY SHORT ANSWER?’”he said. “This is my simple, one-sentence answer to why colleges keep raising their tuition: because they can!” He let out a short laugh, a high and wild sound. “I mean, who’s going to stop them? Parents? The government? There’s nothing stopping them – literally nothing.”

Vedder is Charlton Heston telling us that SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE FROM PEOPLE
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sp-VFBbjpE
Pure potty-book GOLD.

And because he’s my pal, Fergie knows I want more Vedder. Need more Vedder. And he delivers:

“They call it ‘shared governance.’ What that means is everyone thinks they run the place. . . .and there is the poor president. His job actually is to run it. To do this he has to buy off all these various interest groups and make them reasonably happy. You buy off the alums by having a good football team. A good football team costs money. You buy off the faculty by giving them good salaries. You let them teach whatever they want, keep their course loads low. You buy off the students by not making them work too hard. . . .You buy off the legislators and trustees in various ways: tickets to big football games, admit their kids if they apply, get a good ranking from U.S. News. All this costs huge amounts of money. No wonder the universities are expensive!”

So there you have it – Williams costs so much because David and hwc are shaking down Adam Falk for a good football team. I can’t believe I didn’t see that before.

3) Himself (and people like him)

Our family was an instant case. My wife and I couldn’t afford to send our son to Georgetown, by any rational measure. But that wasn’t going to stop me if he got in. I was going to borrow against savings or the value of my house, or, if we got lucky, I’d hold out my hat to catch a grant or a subsidized loan tossed down by the gods of financial aid. There are thousands of parents like us. . .

As for me (I caught myself unconsciously nodding in agreement as I read these lines) I think Andy nails it.  Sending your kid to college has always been a part of the American Dream – and while the rising sticker price may or may not have turned it into a dumb idea financially, there is simply no way that those of us who have already lived it are going to tell our kids that they can’t.

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Crazy U – Part I

Crazy U – One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College - Simon & Schuster. (228 pages.  Two Williams references – one overt, one hidden)

Allow me to introduce my pal, Andy Ferguson. He’s a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, and a former speech writer for George H. W. Bush. We haven’t actually met, but I know him inside and out because he reveals so much of himself in his book, and I like him a lot. He looks a little (intentionally, is my guess) like a kinder, gentler Mark Twain. He’s a man of letters, but he’s no fancy pants – just a feller telling some (scathingly funny) stories over a beer or five. And I can tell he gets me – he certainly knows where I do my reading. The fundamental unit of organization of this nice little book is the amusing anecdote, and he considerately puts a blank line between each one so that the reader can easily see how far it is till the next good stopping point. And unlike the big “insiders” catalogues, which annoy Andy because they deliver information perfectly suited for bathroom reading, but in hopelessly unwieldy, phone book-like bindings, this book is comfortable to hold in one hand, and stays open reliably on your lap. Bathroom tested, bathroom approved.

To get a good picture of my pal Andy, imagine Tevye – as a Little League Dad (Awright slugger, keep your head still. Eye on the ball. Hands back Compact swing. Wait for your pitch. . . ) trying to coach his son into manhood. Like when the son is heading out the door for an admissions interview:

“Be yourself. Relax. Be sure to have some questions for her. Don’t ask about basketball. Ask about academics. Show passion. . .”

And in a chapter called “Obsolescence Descending,” Ferguson, who writes essays for a living, recounts how he was reduced to consulting Google for help in editing his son’s admissions essay.

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The Job Search – Q & A with Will Slack ’11

Ed note: Thank you, Sr Mom, for donating your time and energy to this interview. It is a pleasure to have Will Slack back on this blog and enlightening to be able to hear his thoughts as he prepares for the next step of life outside the bubble.

As Sr Mom requests, perhaps readers have memories, specific suggestions, or direct contacts to add to the quest that many are beginning. If so, we might be able to offer an on-line extension of the alumni networks’ already-extant helpline.

Several hundred graduating ephs are in the process of looking for jobs. We all know it isn’t easy, especially now. I think starting a dialogue about it, could be beneficial. In my opinion, EB is an un-explored source in that regard. With that in mind, I asked Will Slack if he would be willing to participate. He agreed and we came up with this simple Q & A.

Please jump into the conversation in whatever way strikes your fancy. Tell us how it was for you. Whether it’s support, advice, suggestions, or anecdotes, there are a lot of ephs who could benefit from what you have to say.  And to other current seniors, we would welcome hearing from you as well, either in comments, or in a full post.

My questions are in bold, with Will’s answers in italics.

***********************************************************************

What career paths are you considering?

Williams has been very good at showing me what I’m good at (listening to people, making decisions responsibly, enabling people to pursue their goals, learning the intricacies of an organization and leveraging that knowledge for good, helping people, keeping secrets) and what I’m bad at (stepping back and getting perspective during moments of focus, saying what I mean without communication foul-ups, stressing out about keeping secrets). Unfortunately, none of this points to a clear career path.

At the present moment I want to end up doing some sort of governmental work. I believe that technology offers a huge opportunity to increase efficiency and reduce the costs of governmental administration, but only if those policies are pursued with intelligence, and I want to be someone who raises different ideas and possibilities that allow our governments to do a better, cheaper job, especially for a citizen with a grievance but little institutional knowledge of the body s/he must appeal to.

If that indicates a clear career path, I would appreciate knowing what that is, because I’m confused at the moment. :P

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Trouble t’ Mill …

There are some temporary operating issues that seem to be slowing access to the blog for readers and some particular admin probs keeping the front page in order.

I am sure these are temporary. I ..am ..sure ..these ..are ..temporary. I ….am ….sure ….these …. are …….. Mary ..had…a….. little…… lamb……Irts……fleece……..wuz………..white…………..as …………..

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SERVER MIGRATION COMPLETE

Dear EphBLog Community,

After few hiccups, we have competed migration to our new home. For the next section of our journey together, we will be supported by the infrastructure of Ubuntu release 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat.”

Apologies for the disruption. We expect a small outage of approximately 10-20 minutes to create a base backup image after 1 am US EST tonight, and a small series of short outages during non-peak times to accomplish further infrastructural tasks later in the week.

Users with authorial and administrative privileges should note that there are a series of minor issues which we expect to resolve shortly.

This represents the end of a yearly maintenance cycle, and a moment of Passover. We bid fond goodbye to the “Jaunty Jackalope,” which has servered us well in the past year. Due to advances in the underlying systems architecture, we do not anticipate further transitional outages of this nature in the future.

David, however, is going to have to find some other place to store high-res images of his class yearbook, such as his own Google Docs account. :)

Yours,

Ken

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Growing Problem

Interesting article about Williams and the NCAA by Adam Bloch ’06 from several years ago.

NCAA experiencing a growing problem
Thirty-four years after a three-way division completely altered its
shape and future, the NCAA now stands on the brink of a similarly
revolutionary split. Fueled by unceasing growth over the past two
decades and increasing philosophical differences within the
association, all three divisions of the NCAA are currently wrestling
with issues regarding membership that could transform the landscape
of collegiate athletics. Though NCAA officials are quick to assert
that any current discussions concern the entire association, debate
is nowhere more advanced and fractured than in Division 3, which as
soon as 2009 could split into two subdivisions or a completely new
NCAA grouping – a Division 4.

“The growth issues are important across the board for the
association,” Division 3 Vice President Dan Dutcher said in a phone
interview last week. “There’s been much more growth, though, as it
relates to Division 3, certainly.”

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Of Etymologic interest …

‘Muffin Top’ and ‘Five Minute Rule’ added to the OED

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College is second largest employer in Berkshire County

Attention PTC: Your comments needed!

From Sunday’s Berkshire Eagle

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/local/ci_17709866

The Big 10
Companies with the greatest number of employees in Berkshire County:

1. Berkshire Health Systems  2. Williams College  3. Pittsfield Public Schools
4. General Dynamics  5. Jiminy Peak  6. Crane & Co.  7. Northern Berkshire Healthcare
8. Berkshire County Arc  9. Brien Center  10. Canyon Ranch

Sources: Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and company statements


“It’s a very interesting mix,” said Williams College economics professor Stephen C. Sheppard, referring to the top 10 list, which starts with Berkshire Health Systems (BHS). “That’s a good thing and a promising sign for us. There’s always a danger when a community has all of its eggs in one basket.”

The transition from a handful of major employers to a more diverse base isn’t unique to a largely rural area such as the Berkshires, Sheppard said.

“You do see that in other places, not just here, he said. “It’s more successful in other places. But the fact that we’re developing a diverse economy is a sign that we are recovering, that we’re making progress. I think we want to continue to move in that direction.”

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PS: The 10th largest employer and its main building ……

Canyon Ranch, one of three successful health spas bearing the name, uses the wonderful old Lenox MA estate built in 1899 for Giraud Foster designed by Carrere and Hastings.

The life and style of America’s Belle Epoch lived in Beaux Arts palaces was indeed Wharton/James/Auchincloss

Ranch, indeed!

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Don’t Overthink It… But Don’t Underthink It

Harvard Business School professor Mike Norton ’97 has another new article out, this one entitled “From Thinking Too Little to Thinking Too Much: A Continuum of Decision-Making.” In it, he and coauthor Dan Ariely (a professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke) explore how “thinking too little” and “thinking too much” are problems that have largely been addressed in isolation, and whether those studies offer any advice for thinking “just right.”

An IBM slogan since the ’20’s

According to Norton, the answer is “very little.” Prescriptive advice for important decisions from the science of decision-making essentially breaks down as follows:

For those decisions that people have made many times—like renting an apartment—we suggest that decision makers should be on the lookout for thinking too little: ‘Are the attributes I have grown accustomed to using to evaluate the apartments I rented in New York the correct attributes to being to bear when renting in San Francisco?’, because using prior rules may lead people astray when environments differ by too great an extent. And for decisions made for the first time—such as getting married—people may be tempted to go with their gut feeling, asking, ‘Is this my soul mate?’, when it may be better to bring at least a minimum level of decision analysis to bear, asking ‘Do we share the same attitudes towards spending money?’, for example, an important predictor of relationship satisfaction.

Still, the release of the article is the occasion for a good interview with Norton in one of HBS’s house publications, Working Knowledge. In it, Norton explains his recent work:

Read more

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Mark Hopkins and the pew: Into the woods …

This article by John Fea reports an interesting side of this remarkable Williams president just studied in our Winter Break.

For us older boys, required chapel was a part of our life and the no-cuts system (if you were on no-cuts). Attendance was taken, any place of religious worship was accepted. Not too long before the easy-going of the ’50’s, daily attendance was the mode.

I recognize that Hopkins’ influence on the life of the college has diminished in daily detail in the decades since his presidency. Still, I wonder if readers can see any remnants of the particular belief in the ethos of Williams today?

At the Sixth General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, which brought evangelical Christians from all over the world to New York City in on October 2,1873, … Reverend Mark Hopkins, the former president of Williams College, urged the federal government to pass laws protecting the observance of the Christian Sabbath (Sunday). Hopkins argued that the Fourth Commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy”) should be embedded in American law in much the same way that commandments prohibiting murder, stealing, and “bearing false witness” were staples of the legal system.

If that was not enough to convince naysayers, Hopkins emphasized Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27—”The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”—to argue that the human body was created by God in such a way that it required a day of rest. “Men and animals,” Hopkins wrote, “will have a better health and live longer; will do more work, and do it better, if they rest one day in seven, than if they work continuously.” Since rest was a human right endowed by God, how could a nation with Christian roots not endorse the Sabbath?

This seemed particularly apt for this Sunday morning. While no sermon will be given on the blog, attendance will be taken! dcat … this means you!

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Moock ’95 has “made it”

According to my arbitrary but inflexible standard, an Eph has become truly successful if and only if I hear about his/her success through a non-Williams channel. Since I am not that well-informed, this sets the bar pretty high. For example, in the world of music, truly successful Ephs include Stephen Sondheim, the Fountains of Wayne guys, Timothy Sellers of Artichoke … and, well, that was about it until yesterday, when I opened my Oasis Childrens [sic] Volume XI #1 Radio Sampler and discovered that the closing track was “Belly Buttons” by Alistair Moock ’95. This is from his latest CD, the (Williams-inspired?) A Cow Says Moock.

I don’t really know how much of a breakthrough it is for Moock to be included in this Oasis compilation. Of the 23 other featured artists, I’ve only heard of one: Lucas Miller, the “Singing Zoologist.” Nevertheless, some non-Williams judge of music quality decided that Moock was worthy of inclusion, so, in my mind, he is now truly successful. I didn’t even have to listen to the track to render this judgment, but I did — and I was pleased by what another blogger called an “ecstatic Zydeco-ish song.” Given my irrational devotion to scientific music, I’m especially glad that Moock worked a bit of reproductive physiology into his lyrics: “They connected you to your mom / So they’re kind of where you come from / That’s how she fed you through there / And that’s how she got you your air.”

Well done, Moock.

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New shoes for old: A Saturday fashion note …

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

About a year ago, when it was time for the snow shoes to come off, I reviewed the types of shoes to be found sockless in Williamstown in the ’50’s.

Now look at the sole survivors present in the pre-teens of the XXI century!
Buck up, old man!

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Williamstown Restaurant News

A tumultuous year on the Williamstown business scene is set to continue, as two longtime Williamstown restaurants are for sale. iBerkshires.com reports that Michael’s Restaurant and Hobson’s Choice are listed for sale:

Michael’s . . . is advertised for sale at a price of $425,000 through the real estate company Alton and Westall. Michael Nikitas, who helps operate the restaurant with his sister and owner Cindy Nikitas, confirmed Thursday that the business is for sale but refused to elaborate….

Hobson’s Choice is also advertised for sale for $495,000 but owner Daniel Campbell said he does not expect to close it. Campbell, who has been running the restaurant for 20 years, is looking for a new business partner after his former one left the establishment. “We’re testing the waters. I’d rather not sell it,” Campbell said.

Both restaurants were Williamstown mainstays when I arrived more than 15 years ago, and have been ever since. According to the restaurant’s website, Michael’s was opened as an A&W Root Beer stand by the original Pappa Charlie’s owners, and has been “Michael’s” since 1984.

But there’s good news on the Williamstown restaurant scene, too. A new upscale eatery, Hops and Vines, is coming to the former location of Mezze. A formal announcement is expected shortly.

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Eph swifties

Back in the day, we used to be able to rack up quite a few miles on family car trips trying to come up with Tom Swifties.

Here are a couple with Eph references, with an open invitation to do better:

1) As a solution to academic-athletic tension: “Sirloin Tips,” Tom proposed modestly.

2) “Wanna try my f@#*-saw?” asked the sexhibitionist?   “Oh, come off it!” reciprocated Morty.

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Engel in NYTimes … Again

Prolific NYTimes editorial writer, and Eph psychology professor, Susan Engel had another interesting op-ed piece a few weeks back about an inventive curriculum designed by some local high school students (anyone know which school?).  While I am somewhat skeptical regarding whether this would be feasible on a wider scale, this is exactly the type of learning environment I would want my kids involved in, one that fosters initiative, broad-based inquiries into big issues, and creative, outside-the-box thinking.  Because just as important as learning how to answer questions, is learning how to ask the most interesting questions …

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NOTICE: Outage Scheduled Tonight

Hello All,

STATUS UPDATE: Done. We expect a small outage for software updates and backup at approximately 12PM US EST tonight. Projected duration is 45min, actual window +/- 1hr.

(And PareskyLawnBowler– we’re a small operation running under a dedicated server instance, which is a technical choice due to resource constraints. The server needs updates and needs backups, and while one could make this not result in downtime via various mechanisms, it’s just not worth the extra time at this point IMHO).

Plus I like exposing the audience to a very small peak at systems management and internals, of course.

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REMINDER: Vote for Trustees, Tyng Adminstrators

Final deadline is Friday, April 1st. Electronic Voting will close at 11:59 EST.

To Vote Now, find your email from alum Relations and click on the that says “To Vote Now, CLICK HERE.” Or email alumni.relations@williams.edu if you didn’t get the notice!

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Where Are They Now?

Note the membership of the Terrible 22. Where are they now? Nick Wright ’57 lives in Williamstown and is a friend of EphBlog. The Record ought to interview him and his fellows. More than 50 years later, what do they think?

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Dave Fehr: Another voice from Salem:

Dave Fehr a fan from Williamstown and who writes for The Berkshire Advocate was in Salem at the event and sends out his thoughts and prognostications to a few friends via email:

So what happened last Friday?
We blew another big lead, but why? We shot so well during the first half (65%; 50% on 3s) that it was unrealistic to expect it would continue for the whole game. But the drop-off after intermission was pretty severe (37%; 22%) and not all of that can be attributed to the Wooster D. We turned cold.

Turnovers: Coach Maker gave this as the primary reason for our loss. We had 16 (10 in the second half) which Wooster turned into 25 points. Wooster had 5 which we turned into just 5 points. Maybe that was the game right there. Some of the 16 could be attributed to the Wooster D, some to the officials (offensive fouls), but too many were sloppy, egregious, unforced errors. James Wang was quoted as saying “We were tentative.” Amen.

After the game, in the post-mortem among my friends who were in Salem , there was a consensus that we almost never (vs. a strong opponent) played well for 40 minutes, either starting very slowly and having to claw back, or building up, and then coughing up, a big lead. (I recall only one exception to this: Amherst I, where we played exceptionally hard and well for all 45 minutes, losing in OT without Troy.) If so, why?

One theory from this group was that many Williams athletes are “too nice”, not tough enough, lack killer instinct, are unwilling to pour it on and risk embarrassing an opponent. It’s plausible if not prove-able and I hope it’s not true. In any event, we stopped attacking, stopped doing what built the 17 point lead in the first 31 minutes of the game. I don’t think we panicked, but we sure looked bad when Wooster was on a 17-0 run. Incidentally, when the same thing happened on the same floor in the championship game last year, I was convinced that the reason, in part anyway, was that we had the wrong players on the floor. Such was not the case on Friday.

Officiating: Doug Pickard (almost never a complainer) cited this as one of his two reasons, Bode thought it was the main reason, a bunch of people who made the trip from the Berkshires (not the above-named group) thought it was the only reason, as did a writer on EphBlog who was livid and was certain we were jobbed. With so many knowledgeable people saying this, perhaps it’s true.

Now I hate refs and expect them to be bad (Harry Sheehy: “If they were any good, they wouldn’t be in Williamstown, Read more

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