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Eph Interview Podcast, Class of 1958 David H.T. Kane

The first interview in the class of 1958 reunion is with David H.T. Kane. It runs 12:57. Hmm, David Kane. Where have I heard that name before?


Whatever happened to business school?

The latest episode of The Invisible Hand is with Rakesh Khurana of HBS talking about his 2007 book, From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession. Given the number of Ephs who have gone on to B-School, I thought Ephblog would be an interesting place to post this to get reactions.

One question I’d love to hear some feedback on is the at the end, on whether the subprime crisis will lead to a re-evaluation of how business education is framed for students. I remember all of the handwringing that went on after the crash of 87 and the meltdown of Milken and Drexel, and how B-schools were going to “focus on ethics”. Call me cynical, but I think we are due for another round of chair re-arranging on the top deck, if you know what I mean.

The show runs 36:20 and the link is here. I am not including it on the Ephblog player because it is a fairly big file, and I notice that, on my Mac anyway, all posts that I add audio to end up having the mp3 as an attachment.


Eph Interviews: Class of 1988 Reunion, Episode 1: Dave Kane

As Dave has mentioned, I am putting together some interviews for the class of 1988’s 20th reunion, and hopefully some for the class of 1958’s 50th reunion. First on deck is Dave himself, not only answering the questions he provided you yesterday, but also talking about Ephblog itself. The interview runs a shade under 17 minutes.


Ephs, meet Mary Beard

In my Ides of March post, I mentioned that it would be an excellent thing if Williams were to be able to convince Mary Beard to come speak on campus. Those who heard my interview with her know she is one smart and very witty woman. Here is the beginning of her latest post on her blog: 

Lets get rid of the fascist Olympic torch I don’t quite understand how we have forgotten that the “Olympic Torch” ceremony was invented by Hitler and his chums. If ever there was an “invented tradition” well worth stamping out, it is this ridiculous, Fascist-inspired waste of money – which sends a Bunsen Burner around the world at tremendous cost for several months before the Games, manned (and womanned) by people dressed up in pseudo-ancient Greek costume, no doubt feeling very silly.

Read the rest of her post here. Whom do I need to speak with to get this woman on campus?


Williams at Oxford Social Network

The site is It has been active since December, but it went live about the same time that EphBlog switched over to WordPress, and I didn’t want to make an announcement while this blog was switching over, for fear that it wouldn’t get out to the readers.

Anyway, if you know anyone who was part of the program, pass this along and let them know it’s out there. I hope it will be the one stop shop for info leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Williams-Oxford program in 2010.


Podcasts for the Ides of March

Keeping up what seems to be a monthly posting, here are two shows I have done on Roman History.The first is with Adrian Goldsworthy talking about his 2006 book, Caesar: Life of a Colossus. It is one of my favorite shows, mainly because it is the first interview I did for Yale, hence my first professional gig. If you like Casear, this is THE book.The second interview is with Mary Beard, talking about her 2007 book, The Roman Triumph. Mary is the Classics editor at The Times Literary Supplement, the author of an incredibly addictive blog called A Don’s Life and is someone Williams should make every effort to get as a speaker.


Danger, Danger, Danger!! Williams class makes top 10 “Most Dangerous College Courses”.

So, I’m reading my local news website ( and came across a story about how a class at Portland State made the Family Security Matters Second Annual “America’s Most Dangerous College Courses”. Ha, Ha, another nutjob think tank handwringing to get publicity. Then, I went to the site to see the full list, and I’m happy to say that dear old alma mater pulled in at number 9.

9. “Body Politics: Power, Pain, and Pleasure” at Williams College.

Feminist Professor Jana Sawicki has created a politically correct, Lefty gem with her Williams College course that promises to discuss such penetrating questions as, “If bodies and pleasures are historically and socially constituted within unequal power relationships, what can or should we do to transform them?” and “Is the body an inevitable source of resistance and rebellion?”


One look at the course description, and PC words and phrases just jump out at you: only academic Leftists use the terms “unequal power relationships.” Unfortunately, most students can’t decipher Lefty propaganda until after they graduate. Here’s a tip: stay out of this class if you want rational discussions on important political concepts that don’t have anything to do with feminist professors complaining about how the “man” tries to control “their” bodies. You’re likely to come out of this class dumb and brainwashed, and that is dangerous indeed. 

If you want to marvel in the full list, it’s right here I can’t say it’s a class that I would choose as an elective, but hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Reaction?


Boy, how did we miss this?

Has it been almost 6 weeks since the last update about Ephblog’s favorite CNBC anchor and the Keely Smith to Jim Cramer’s Louis Prima (how does that grab you, jazz lovers?), Erin Burnett? I only mention this because Dealbreaker had linked to a video of EB98 riding around on a hobby horse during a CNBC segment, only to have that video taken down by the no fun editors there. I hoped to find said clip on YouTube, but found this instead. Before watching this, just remember that most Ephwomen are more like our awesome CRASH-B champ, Diana Davis ’07 (most Ephs know this, but there could some impressionable high school seniors reading this blog, so better safe than sorry). Sing to us, O muse, about recessions.



A podcast for Valentine’s Day

So, I’ve decided to put up old shows occasionally, with some obscure tie to a holiday, or perhaps a non-obscure tie to an obscure holiday.As you may have guessed, the publisher’s I produce shows for don’t have a lot of Valentine-y material, though, for the record, I do some non-production work for Harlequin (always a happy ending!), and they are chock-a-block with the requisite Valentine goodies. Instead, I’ve chosen an interview I did about a year ago with a women named Leonie Gombrich, whose grandfather was E.H. Gombrich, a man probably best known for The Story of Art, but this interview was about a book he wrote in his twenties called A Little History of the World, an absolutely charming world history written for children, and one that is written to be read out loud. Leonie obviously loved her grandfather, and I think it comes through in this show.


Looking for questions about Privacy in the 21st C.

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


The Lost Promise of Civil Rights

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


Education’s End, Chapter 2, “Secular Humanism”

In the second chapter of the book, Tony Kronman gives us a 53 page (pp.37-90) summary of the three phases of the life of the humanities in American higher education and he certainly doesn’t leave the reader in suspense about his assessment of the current relationship between the humanities as taught and the meaning of life.  

It has been stripped of its legitimacy as a question that teachers of the humanities feel they may properly and competently address with their students in a formal program of instruction. It has been exiled from the classroom and kicked out of school, so that today it survives only in private, in pianissimo, in the extracurricular lives of teachers and students, even those in liberal arts programs whose distinctive purpose presupposes the vital importance of this question itself (p.45)     

Phase 1, which I like to call “The Christian Gentleman Phase”, started in 1636 at that other college at the Eastern end of Route 2. The Puritans were quite keen on education, but it was much more focuses on shaping the character of their students than producing original scholarship. Everybody pretty much memorized the same thing (Latin, Greek, the classics, the Bible), and were to use these works and the men in them as sterling examples of behavior. (Given my limited knowledge of the classical world, I do wonder if Aristophanes, Catullus, Terrence or Petronius got much play in these classrooms. Also, the lives of Alcibiades and Caligula were probably what financial analysts like to call contrary indicators) There wasn’t much distinction between areas of study, the faculty were the staff, and generally the president of the college taught the senior capstone of the course. (More on this in a moment) Dr. Kronman lays out the two assumptions that girded this world.

 1)    Teachers have an unassailable authority on matters moral thanks to their experience.

2)    Every branch of study is connected to everything else, so don’t leave out anything.

Williams was, at this time, more or less a little po-dunk college out in the sticks of the Berkshires, but it did have one Mark Hopkins of “the log” fame, who pretty much lived up to all of this. He was the president of Williams, he taught the capstone course and it is fair to say that he was much more interested in the character of his students than their (or his to be honest) intellectual accomplishments. 

His (Hopkins’) triumph as one of the old-time college presidents must be attributed, in no small degree, to the success with which he refused to permit learning to assume an ascending importance in his life. (p.27, Mark Hopkins and the Log, Yale, 1956)   


I must admit that the thought of a 19th century Christian madrassa came to mind while reading this part, though the greater tension was probably between the education itself, based on the liberal arts, those subject fit for the study of “free” men, which meant the gentry in Europe, and the useful arts, for the study of artisans, which was championed by Ben Franklin and probably quite a bit more useful in the development of the continent. This leads to the second phase in the life of the humanities, “The Secular Humanist Phase”. 

As the 19th century progressed, America saw the ideal of the German research university transferred to its soil (Dr. Kronman will go into more detail on this in the third chapter. Here’s a bit of foreshadowing, the research ideal has a lot to answer for). Cornell, Johns Hopkins, even Harvard got the fever under President Eliot, and, boom, out goes character formation as the goal of a college education and in comes learning and scholarship. The explosion of knowledge in the 2nd half of the 19th century put to bed any idea that a student could come out in four years with a grasp on the totality of knowledge, which meant that some things had to be left out, which eventually led to the ideas of majors and electives and to the formation of distinct academic disciplines. 

If we use Williams nomenclature and say that knowledge was being divided into divisions 1,2 and 3, then 2 and 3 were prospering in the new world thanks to their use of the scientific method. Div 1, however, doesn’t use the method, so it had to pay its way in this new world by continuing to talk about the purpose and value of human life. What separated these new humanists from the Mark Hopkins type? Well, each believed there is a common human nature, but the secularists: 

1) Thought that a common human nature did not preclude pluralistic beliefs about the meaning of life.

2) Thought that human nature, though open and malleable, still followed a discrete number of life paths (warrior, artist, priest, etc) and that these paths could be studied.

3) Thought that transcendence could no longer chalked up to the supernatural, but to rather Platonic values that were larger than any one person. 

The great conversation among western thinkers, from Biblical to current time is essentially how each person was trying to sort out how their lives and thoughts related to these timeless values. Unfortunately, while the age of secular humanism was advancing, forces were gathering that led to Phase 3, The Death of the Dead White Male (my terminology, not Dr. Kronman’s) 

In Phase 3, the Great Conversation itself is attacked as the limits it proscribes: a singular core human nature, a limited number of patterns to human life, and an elite, though slowly growing canon, are held up as illusory and masked expressions of power used to marginalize other cultures and ideals. This, accompanied by the spread of the research ideal from the sciences into the humanities, sounded the death knell for the search for life’s meaning in the humanities department. Chapters 3 and 4 will go into this in far more detail. 

I would have liked Dr. Kronman to spend a bit of time talking about how this change in higher ed mirrored the economic changes going on in the country as a whole, since Phase 1 to Phase 2 rather neatly follows the model of artisan/apprentice work in antebellum America to the rise of the factory and mass production in the second half of the 19th century and Phase 2 to Phase 3 from mass production/consumption to customized production/consumption in the second half of the twentieth century. Were the humanities just following the money?


The sound you hear is an Eph’s heart breaking

Hers is the face that launched a thousand blog posts, drawn rapturous praise from Rush Limbaugh and drew the ire of George Bush supporters by referring to him as a slightly less evolved mammal. Yet, through all these times, including her unfortunate Wish list in Men’s Health, there has always been one place EB could come for a digital hug and pat on the head. Alas, she may have now gone beyond the pale even here. Two words: Donald Trump. EB, time for the dreaded five words, Where is this relationship going?  


In honor of love and the Iowa Caucus

Since true love and politics seem to be the order of the day, here is an interview I did with Margaret Hogan of the Massachusetts Historical Society about the letters of Abigail and John Adams, both of whom had the misfortune of living before the founding of Williams, thus banishing John to that school at the other end of Route 2.


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