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Major Infrastructural Changes Planned for Weekend; Long Outages Possible


Please Stand By


Congratulations, Graduates!

A simple best wishes and best of luck for your futures, from all of us at EphBlog and all who must be far away from Williamstown.


RIP, Harold “Jay” Wilson, ’56

Harold “Jay” Wilson ’56
May, 1934 – May, 2011

In his own words:
“Harold J. Wilson is a retired English Professor and Anglican Clergyman living in Oxford. He was born in NYC in 1934, the son of an Episcopal Clergyman and emigrated to England in his retirement years. He is a poet, a songwriter, a father of two grown sons, Anthony and Laurence Wilson, and is married to retired English teacher Susannah Harris-Wilson, a formidable person.

“He was largely brought up in the Appalachians and graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts. He has two Master’s Degrees. He is from a largely Scots and Irish family background.

“Wilson has taught students from the sixth grade to college level adults, served in the Pennsylvania Poets In the Schools program from its inception in 1971 until 1982, and has been a teacher in England, Pakistan and (mainly) Philadelphia where he was a long-time member of the Community College English Department.

“His interests are in contemporary culture, traditional songs, Jungian Psychology, and a wide range of subjects on which he is opinionated but not particularly profound.

“For the purposes of civilised discussion, he may be reached at

“If you also are totally opinionated, cantankerous, and/or as curmudgeonly as he is, please don’t bother. We have enough of that here already. I don’t mind being challenged though. I might even learn something!”


When Life Gives you Locusts…

Cicada Sauerbraten with Spätzle


½ C vinegar
½ C water
¼ onion, sliced
¼ stalk celery or 1 tsp celery seed
¼ carrot, chopped
3 peppercorns
2 cloves
1/16 tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp ginger

Mix together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.


1 portobello cap
¼ – ½ C blanched, teneral cicadas
¼ lemon, sliced

Mix mushroom and cicadas together in a bowl. When the liquid is boiling, pour it over the mushroom-cicada mixture. Add the lemon slices, cover the bowl, and let the mixture marinade for at least several hours (preferably, overnight). Drain, then sauté the mushroom, cicadas, onion, and carrots (and celery) in olive oil.

Read more


dcat: in PBS’s Freedom Riders

Our own Prof. Derek Catsam ’93 appears at around 3:54 in this segment from PBS’s Freedom Riders:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.


Can you locate Derek at other points in the documentary?


What Grad School Will Do To Your Mind

Via JeffZ, a description of the mind-numbing ignorance inculcated by grad school in the United States:

If ever there were a monument to tragedy, it is … The Department of Politics at Princeton[. P]erhaps the finest in the nation, which makes it even more representative of the scandal that American political science has become. Teaching here is dominated by the fetishizing of certain methods, a cold shoulder to theory and the abandonment of reality. The result is a combination of model-made abstraction and number-numbing specificity that has made political science irrelevant to politicians, policy makers and, lest we forget, the general public.

How do political science departments manage to pull off this scam? How do they seduce thoughtful graduate students into a world pathetically at odds with the reality they claim to represent?

This is how: Take a very bright, young graduate student. If someone that fresh has spent the first two years of the Ph.D. program in politics taking six classes in quantitative and formal methods as well as compulsory seminar classes on the “canon,” she has little time for substantive classes that give her a theoretical background on the questions she will ultimately answer in her dissertation. The results are devastating. Not only does the post-generals dissertation-ready student have little sense of the “reality” she wishes to study, she is woefully short of a theoretical framework.

What she will have is a strong understanding of this animal called “methods.” But it’s only some parts of this animal that she will know well. If we were actually exposed to the entire range of methods that understanding politics involves, we would learn archival research, ethnography and interview techniques in addition to the undeniably useful methods of game theory and statistics. What we learn instead are six classes of this quantitative stuff, and one class, if at all, on an all-encompassing beast named “qualitative methods.”

Added to the department’s preference for certain quantitative and formal methods is the unsaid belief that empirical political science must be divorced from normative concerns. In this view, the study of politics is a purely descriptive exercise. Questions of “good” and “bad” are parceled into “political theory,” a subfield hermetically sealed from the rest of the discipline.


DDoS attacks; current IP blacklist has come under a series of DDoS-type attacks during the past days, including a longer outage earlier today due to a machine in the * network (*and the fact that I did not carry my secure ID key this morning).

We continue to take appropriate action in response. Additionally, our current IP ban list, along with notes, is below the fold.

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JCD (2): on grad school, Obama & …

This series of comments are in transit from their origin in our thread on “what grad school will do to your mind.” Post is pre-dated by 48 hours.


JCD: on Obama & other topics

These comments are in transit from our latest (wks 1-2 May) “Speak Up.” Pre-dating by 48 hours.


Dead. (R.I.P.)

Howard “Howie” Kestenbaum ’67 Brian Murphy ’80 Lindsay Morehouse ’00

Mexico Updates: Spring 2011

US State cryptically advises all Americans to avoid all but absolutely necessary travel to Mexico. Announcement does not make major MSM. Internal US State department discussion remains focused on possibility of State failure, evacuation scenarios for US citizens.

Travel through northern Mexico now extremely dangerous for non-Mexican nationals.

Multiple mass graves discovered in the north, with confirmed body counts rapidly rising. Media suppression leaves no accurate picture of the extent of what is called the “lost generation.”

Dismembered bodies of women found in San Miguel Chapultepec (and actually reported in media without suppression), Mexico City; Acapulco; and elsewhere; part of a continuing pattern of terror and the operation of death squads. Mexico City as last refuge, begins to fall apart.

Calderon-Federal government espouses ‘war’ on cartels but remains deeply involved in terror, violent suppression and the operation of death squads, with significant overlap between members of the sitting regime, cartels, and paramilitary death squads.

Remaining NGOs continue to report significant abuses by Federal, State and Local-level police.

Reasonable estimate of casualties of the dirty war now approaching one-hundred fifty thousand lives or greater.

Civil rule-of-law protections largely or effectively suspended for large segments of civil society, with defendants subject to military tribunals under no judicial review. Establishment of an ‘elite’ police force, with broad powers, under the direct control and supervision of the Executive.

Economic collapse deepening, with foreign investment withdrawing and threats to the peso, perhaps currency collapse, emerging. Multiple major foreign intelligence agencies, including British and French agencies, remain concerned that investment withdrawal will lead to regional security destabilization along a “failed state” scenario, necessitating a major and unpredictable international intervention.

Possibility of an escalating regional or world security conflict remains medium to high, with most major state and non-state actors involved and attempting to leverage situation to their advantage.

Calderon continues a dirty so-called “drug war” to prop his government’s lack of legitimacy, ignoring significant political-economic instabilities and threats to the nation.

US-Mexico military, intelligence and logistical alliance plan collapsing. US unable to ensure security and future of Mexico, with significant security threat to US as result.

US public perspective remains highly ideological and dismissive to Mexico and Mexicans. Superficial and sensationalistic reporting reigns– actual concern for Mexico, Mexican lives or the strategic situation next to nonexistent.

Chances of a free and legitimate election in 2012 low to minimal. Calderon regime clearly prepared for significant and violent political repression. Regime change or re-estabishment of a Federal democracy in 2012 appears highly unlikely.

Effect of current events in Middle East on potential movements for political liberation, and on the ruling regime’s planning: unknown.


MCT: End Ph.D. Programs– or Reform Them

There are too many doctoral programmes, producing too many PhDs for the job market. Shut some down and change the rest, says Prof. of Religion Mark C. Taylor.

Most doctoral-education programmes conform to a model defined in European universities during the Middle Ages, in which education is a process of cloning that trains students to do what their mentors do. The clones now vastly outnumber their mentors.

…The necessary changes are both curricular and institutional. One reason that many doctoral programmes do not adequately serve students is that they are overly specialized, with curricula fragmented and increasingly irrelevant to the world beyond academia. Expertise, of course, is essential to the advancement of knowledge and to society. But in far too many cases, specialization has led to areas of research so narrow that they are of interest only to other people working in the same fields, subfields or sub-subfields. Many researchers struggle to talk to colleagues in the same department, and communication across departments and disciplines can be impossible. If doctoral education is to remain viable in the twenty-first century, universities must tear down the walls that separate fields, and establish programmes that nourish cross-disciplinary investigation and communication. They must design curricula that focus on solving practical problems, such as providing clean water to a growing population. Unfortunately, significant change is unlikely to come from faculty members, who all too often remain committed to traditional approaches.

NYT’s Article on the appointment of Joichi Ito (who has no degrees!) to head MIT’s Media Lab, expresses another facet of the problem:

[H]e attended the University of Chicago where he studied physics, but once again found it stultifying. He later wrote of his experience: “I once asked a professor to explain the solution to a problem so I could understand it more intuitively. He said, ‘You can’t understand it intuitively. Just learn the formula so you’ll get the right answer.’ That was it for me.”

Personally, I cannot quite imagine any atmosphere so mind-bogglingly stultifying, totalizing and distorting of perspective than graduate school. To misquote one of my Williams friends who went on to Berkeley, “the stupidest people I ever met, were in graduate school.” I don’t see a system capable of reform.


Friday Night Lecture: Inglourious Basterds



Meatless Monday(s)?

Via a WSO link in the sidebat, Driscoll Hall went “meatless” this Monday 18th and some discussions is occurring with regards to making this a regular dining feature.

A student provides some explanation:

…more people are starting to talk about food. It’s always been perplexing to me how much food has been taken for granted in the United States. I mean, it’s in the grocery store/dining hall, you walk in, take what you want, eat it, and go on your merry way without really giving much consideration to what the act of putting food in your mouth really means. What purpose does eating actually serve and has whatever-you’ve-just-put-into-your-mouth accomplished that task?

If the Meatless Monday do nothing more than facilitate a way by which food rises into the realm of conscious thought on campus, I think that it will have been a success. However, if it’s trying to do something along the lines of promoting more sustainable/healthy eating habits, it is unlikely that this will be accomplished []. After all, it seems that if only one dining hall is going meat-free (if they all do, I fear that there will be substantial voices against the movement from athletes/meat lovers for legitimate reasons) it will primarily attract the people that will already select these sorts of foods out of the normal dining hall offerings. [

]As such, an initiative to reduce the amount of meat consumed on campus for environmental/financial reasons would be better accomplished by trying to reduce the number of meat based dishes to two per meal at all the dining halls. More than Meatless Mondays, which seems to label meat as evil, it would be worthwhile to have a meal (once a month? week?) that uses grass-fed meat, free-range eggs (or basically any egg other than carton/mass produced eggs), local or organic vegetables, and local milk/dairy products [].

As for the debate over meat/no-meat/no-animal. To each his own.

My recollection is that even twenty years ago, Williams had a reasonable (if not entirely satisfying) series of options for vegetarians.

However, the students involved (as well as Meatless Monday’s proponents) make another point– meat consumption in the US is resource-consuming as well as unhealthy. The New York Times reports that the average American eats vegetables only five times a week, one example of a dietary crisis across the United States.

In such a backdrop, the idea that Williams students should have meat available at every meal strikes me as frankly ridiculous. Williams is an educational institution, not a country club, and it should be teaching people good habits, not handing people luxury goods on demand and without regard to cost.

Therefore a counter-proposal: the dining halls should be serving meat as a main course three to five times a week, with side options, perhaps at extra cost, for backpeddlars. And certainly such a move could cut into the budgetary problem a little.


Four Williams Students Arrested

…while exercising their right to free speech during a session of Congress.

My kudos and respect. Evidently political action is not lost to today’s Student Body.

Details available via the left sidebar.


First Orbit



No female speakers? No problem!

(Let’s try this again)

Via WSO:

Seeing only one female student on the list of candidates for class speaker made me wonder and I looked at commencement archives. No female class speakers between 2003 and 2010. The archives start in 2003.

In addition, only 3 out of 24 total speakers are female. If we don’t count the valedictorians, then only 1 out of 16 chosen speakers is female (this includes Phi Beta Kappa & class speakers).

This makes me very uneasy.

Look — you were only admitted for the extra tuition dollars and to save on gas to Bennington and Northampton. Don’t expect a place at the table and certainly don’t expect to speak. Not at Kane College!

Now could you be good girls and go get Dave a cup of coffee?



with 1 Hour 8 Minutes to go.

Please make appropriate preparations. And remember– no health care for women! Don’t back down! Co-education was the mistake! Restore the misogyny! Long live the hatred which is Kane! Curtis is Vaige!


We Shall Overcome

In the Ivory Coast tonight, U.N troops are defending the right of a people to choose their governance. I wonder what Mr. King would have thought.


Difficult Truths

Professor Mark C. Taylor opineth:

The difficult truth is that their education has not prepared them for the world they[‘re] facing.

Though many young people have become disillusioned with Wall Street and all it represents and would like to pursue alternative careers, they have neither the educational nor financial resources to do so. The situation is critical – colleges and universities must be reformed in ways that allow students to develop the knowledge and skills they need for creative and productive lives.

Sounds about right to me.  Anyone have an opinion?


NOTE: wide-ranging IP bans being put in place

Hi all,

This is a quick note. Due to continuing problems, I’m currently adding a number of somewhat wide-ranging bans of IP ranges, mostly to non-US addresses[1], but I may include a few US addresses which are potentially abusing resources intentionally or unintentionally, especially unauthorized “spidering” of the site. These addresses will be published at a later point, but if you have access problems, please let us know.


1: Addresses will mostly affect Russia, China, Near Asia and Eastern Europe, with some possibility of questionable activity from Western European and US DHS(-ish) machines. (And, and any other site with a machine that downloads our image archive three times daily.)



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. :)




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.


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 if you didn’t get the notice!


Moving to Meltdown?

I have become Krishna, the Destroyer of Worlds.

[– Robert Oppenheimer, journal entry, during the train journey from Berkeley to Hyde Park]

Open Thread.


May I have your attention PLEASE

It has come to my attention that numerous comments from regular contributors such as JeffZ, Senior Mom, myself etc and from other less regular contributors have been moved to the “trash,” “spam” bins and elsewhere, or otherwise and simply deleted.

This simply needs to stop. In addition to the administrative mess it creates, authorial and other privileges on EphBlog are handed out with a degree of trust. That trust is being violated.

If you hare having technical issues, please contact me and Ronit, however, this problem has spread to several threads over a number of weeks.


Give Williams Some Love

Valentine’s Day has arrived
and in an effort to not be contrived
forget chocolate deluxe,
just send in some bucks
so the Alumni Fund can survive.

All it takes is a minute from you
just buy ONE LESS violet blue
then breathe a sigh of relief
’cause your love for the eph
is worth a dollar or two.

Courtesy of my Class Agents. It’s so cute, I felt compelled to post.


Please give to the Alumni Fund

For those of you who have not, a kindly note from my class agent reminds me that this year’s campaign is closing. The participation rate, does have a value to Williams, and I encourage you all, to donate as you can.

Otherwise, I will share my opinion:

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the note.

Frankly, I give about what I give to the Children’s Education Fund in Mexico each week at the grocery. Not to mention the Children’s Nutrition Fund, where $5/week feeds a child for a year.

I know that keeping the participation rate up helps, but I figure between Williams, Berkeley, and Deep Springs, and so many other issues, at the moment, there are other places which could use the help.

Also, I will not harangue you in the manner I hear Wick Sloane ’76 expresses an opinion that is essentially mine to his class agent, — but I will register the view that I do not believe Williams is a financially responsible institution.

I hope you are well, — it’s always good to hear from any member of our class.


No offense meant to Wick, of course.


Claiming Williams: Unraveling Race

Hello all! Today is “Claiming Williams,” and evidently, Allan Johnson is giving a presentation or seminar on “Unraveling Race.” I don’t have information from his presentation– I’m not sure it would be appropriate to post it here if I did– but, for those who have interest, here is one of Allan’s presentations at WSU in 2006, from his website: NOTE: some users may find it easier to listen on original site, or to download the (35MB) .mp3 original.


Forthright, respectful comments/commentary
on any side of any ideological spectrum, are invited– especially when analytical. EphBlog Authors who wish to point out particular passages with ‘time stamps’ are invited to edit this post in collaborative, ‘wiki’ fashion. If there is anyone on campus who wants to give us some perspective on the event, it would be appreciated.

UPDATE: Johnson evidently canceled on Tuesday due to weather. Copyright/usage justification notice: asset is available for embed on creator’s site.


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