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Bending Straws

 

In the 1980s, during my initial stint as an impressionable student in the academy, I spent my Sundays toiling as a manager down at the club. The edifice was on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The club was housed in a single story elongated rectangular brown painted cinderblock building. The locality had a sleek and swanky fashion, which was in vogue during the height of the Nixonian modern urban renewal architectural period.

We habitually hung a sign that advertised for a porter at the entrance of the club, as good help in those days was hard to find. The economy in Boston during the ‘Massachusetts miracle’ had made the help terribly fickle, due to an over-abundance of well-paying jobs. We paid the minimum of course, with the offer of a free jigger of spirits if the good lad who held the door happened to get his nose broken while attempting to break up an altercation. Hiring help that had learned how to look the other way was of great importance to the elite clientele.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was one block down the avenue from the establishment, and the gents from the fraternities frequented the place. They were certainly not the men of Harvard, but still worth a listen. For some quirky reason math and science was of more importance than finance to those young men? I must confess that in actuality, we cared very little for where a young gentleman went to college. It was the family accent that truly enlightened us. “But yes of course, of course you go to Harvard,” we would say, “but where did you prep, where did you prep, my good man? Choate, Exeter, Groton?”

The lounge in the club was of the highest order. We had five tiers of the finest victuals. From the tap we served the latest fashionable beer. The floors were a greying black, as the wood was well worn and sticky from years of grand tradition. Neon Budweiser signs, and posters advertising various other upscale varieties, adorned the walls. We had several dart boards so that the lads could relax and play whilst enjoying a Pabst after a hard day at the academy.

It was on early Sunday afternoons, whilst I was cutting my teeth with this first internship in management, that three men from Zeta Psi would come to play a bit of “Pitch”. Pitch was a fantastic game, although I have heard from those still laboring at the club that it has since fallen out of favor.

The ladies from the Boston Women’s Rugby league would also show up for some pints after their Sunday scrums. They were always so lovely. Stout and severe, broad and menacing, as all proper women should be. Sauntering into the club in their attirement of proper shorts, knee high socks, and cleats; striped rugby shirts of red and white, draping their sweat laden bodies with a sophisticated mud covered embroidery. Oh, the traditional songs which they would sing! In unison they would chorus the moral fiber of femininity. Old whimsical choruses, such as “Barnacle Bill the Sailor” and “Bestiality’s Best” were my favorites. I still fondly remember the ensembles.

It is a pity that the singing of such songs of tradition has fallen out of favor. One never hears such songs the way we used to in public anymore. Sadly, what once identified the beauty of societal order in the hallowed halls of our elite institutions now runs against the grain. Perhaps it is this blasted cell phone culture that has turned everyone into a philistine moralist of some kind? Moments can be captured out of context by the simplest of passersby, and posted for commoners’ consumption on the YouTube. It is a shame that such happenings can no longer be kept within the higher circles of moral clarity.

It was during such moral conventions that the men of the Institute of Technologies’ Zeta Psi would sit at my bar and play Pitch. They would listen to the sweet choruses of the rugby ladies, as they drank the odd mixes of spirits associated with the game. The three Pitch players were Andrew, Duncan, and Remy. All three were from the finest lineage, but for whatever reason, had found a love of science over money? The particular mixology of the game clearly excited their participation in the sport of it. This ritual of Pitch was indeed a fashionable Sunday science project, as much as it was a game, or a sport.

 

       But it was a game of the highest order, and one needed to know the exact regulations!

 

First, it was only to be played on the holiest of days. On Sunday afternoons, that was when the three young men would stop by our posh establishment for a fine game of Pitch. They would come to me as they would a doctor, suffering greatly from the burden of too much blood in their alcohol systems. With the Saturday evening fraternity foray not far behind them, they were itching for a game of remedy!

Second, and of high importance, was the bending of straws. Sitting at the lounge countertop they would make a circle out of the drinking straws. It is easily done. You fold the end of one straw over itself, insert that into the hole of another straw, and then repeat that process until you join both ends to connect the straws together. Then you would enjoin the straws together to form a circle. In doing this, you can customize the diameter. As their mixologist and referee I would measure the circular straw throwing devices. The regulation size was six connected red cocktail straws.

Third, and of utmost importance to the common busboy, was the positioning of wastebaskets. You needed two, placed in between the three players. Player – wastebasket – player – wastebasket – player: in that exact order. The wastebaskets had to be of the common plastic variety, certainly not wood, and god forbid, never wicker. The liners were to be left out, as the ability for the busboy to rinse the receptacles cleanly with a hose outside near the street water drain was paramount.

Fourth, the playing field was the bar. Players were seated at the bar, with a normal positioning: facing the liquor shelves that were about eight feet behind the bar countertop. The seating arrangement was important, as the loser from last week’s game always pitched first. He would be placed seated at the far right of the bartender (me), or the left hand side of the other two players, from the perspective of a customer.

The rules of the gameplay were fairly simple. Once the game was set up, with the three players seated, trashcans properly placed and the straws bent into regulation size circles; myself as mixologist and referee, would call the time. Each player had two minutes to pitch. The pitch of the circle of straws took place from a seated position. Standing for an advantage was forbidden. The straw circle was pitched at the liquor bottles on the shelves behind the bar. A player would throw the red straw circle at the bottles of victuals that were shelved in tiers against the wall behind the bar. Underhand was the technique, as if softly throwing a horseshoe. Again, this was about an eight-foot shot.

It was a well-stocked club, with five tiers of finest varieties, elongated on each shelf. Irish, scotch, Canadian, bourbon, blends, schnapps of all flavors, creams such as Baily’s, liquors such as Kahlua, spiced rums; etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. All of it was in play. The mixologist (me), would blend the liquor that the thrown bar straw circle enveloped.

The circumference of the straw circle had the ability to encapsulate up to four bottles on the shelf, but normally only two or three. For example; a pitch could encircle Peachtree schnapps, Drambuie scotch, and Tanqueray gin. I would gather these three bottles, and pour the mix into a single shot glass. One player would pitch, and the player next in the order, the “receiver”, would drink the mix. After each pitch the drinking player had one minute to drink the mix. Two minutes to throw, one minute to drink.

This continued until someone lost the test of endurance. At some juncture a red faced player would be exhausted, and unable to contain himself- you lost when your fluids flew, even if you could still stomach a drink afterwards. The loser paid in bodily fluid as well as coin, as per regulation because the loser purchased the bar tab for the event. The duration and outcome of the game had a great deal to do with skill and conditioning, the normal characteristics of any athletic endeavor.

On most occasions, the rugby women would be singing, and stopping to watch and cheer the action. This added greatly to the ambiance the game. There was one stout but shorter African American female rugby player who had an intense Mohawk. She always took great interest in the game. She watched with glee and fascination while jutting about the Pitch competitors- but paying respect to never interrupt the field of paly. This always got the other mud-clad ladies to add tidbits and jeers as the men struggled to keep their composure.

The sport often became very intense towards the end, and one Sunday was no exception. This time, when Remy, who had lost last week, starting to become ill from exhaustion, found his seating and stayed in the game for the love of the contest! It was a noble sight indeed. The players were covering mouths with hands, and dry heaving whilst caught in the clutches of the exhilarating competition. All the while the ladies were singing gleefully and hoisting spirits. But the agony of defeat came suddenly, as it often did, when Duncan lost control of his oral function, hurling wild amounts of noxiously blended booze into one of the well placed plastic cans.

The thrill of victory for the Remy and Andrew, hands held high, was first rate. They even gave each other the plebian recognition of the high five, as they found their sea legs with the exhilaration of the victory. It was a testament to their endurance that they were not so badly staggered by the liquid-curdling war of attrition. The sportsmanship on display that Sunday would have made any college sports commentator proud. Players gave hard encouraging slaps on the back to each other as the intensity of the play heightened! The crescendo of the competition came when Duncan finally succumbed and placed his face in one of the cans, whilst his competitors heartily encouraged him with rubs of the hair and slaps on the back. Howard Cosell would have been proud.

 

Having come from such a place: from within the hallowed halls of such academic diversity and inclusion, is it any wonder that I now spend my days in elite college towns, polishing my social graces with the younger lads? Of course, the ladies and gentlemen these days are in search of the same things we craved when we were but mere babe socialites at the club playing Pitch.

 

Upon picking up The Record several months ago I was shocked to see that all of the finer parts of etiquette are now to be legally missing. How will our youngsters grow without the facility to have a good stab at diversity, just as we did? After all, the contemporary truth is the same as it was back in our time as young ladies and gentlemen down at the club, is it not? Hard liquor is essential to enhance the finer points of decorum. We are asking the lads to give up a very important part of their propriety. It is the blending of spirits at elite clubs and in fraternity basements that fosters the greatest moments of clarity! As explained, it was while bending straws down at the club when I learned about the hegemony of a diverse synergy within the fusion of the paradigm.

Whilst first reading the news of the ban on hard liquor at Williams I burst out of my chair and exclaimed, “Good God Adam no, let it not be so!”

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“Legacy does not matter!” The Court recently held in a 6-3 split.

EPA-USA-SUPREME-COURT-JUSTICES-MEM-170601_12x5_992

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Veterans in the Academy: POSSE Veterans of the Global War. Ephblog favorite Alum and Vassar President Cappy Hill has action, not words.

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No Pell Grant Needed!

images-5imagesimages-6https://www.forbes.com/colleges/united-states-naval-academy/

The military academies are forgotten in the Ephdom discussions of great schools and value. It costs nothing but service, FREE!! In fact, your rich Uncle Sam pays you to go to college. Graduates include Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, numerous cabinet heads, ambassadors, scores of members of congress… etc. etc.

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When was the last time…?

https://www.thefire.org/chris-rock-explains-doesnt-want-perform-college-campuses/

 

In the interview, Rich and Rock discussed how Rock, like many comedians, has been criticized by audience members who were offended by his jokes. When asked what he thought about the recent controversy over Bill Maher’s invitation to speak at the University of California, Berkeley’s December commencement ceremony, Rock said, “Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.” He elaborated:

Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

Rock said he started to notice the trend about eight years ago, and that he wasn’t the only one—as he recalled, “I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.”

 

 

Once upon a time Chapin Hall was filled with music and laughter. Not long ago (20 years?), you could see popular bands and comedians there.

 

When was the last time the college had a (I guess what now would be considered “controversial”) band or artist on campus?

 

Once upon a time, Williams was free.

 

 

 

 

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Why we care about wars of the past.

eph and the log copy_zps2dewjps4

The current pick for Secretary of Defense Marine General James Mattis made the following observation on the history of warfare and our current position in it;

For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say … “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.

Historical monuments are not “problematic in modern context.” These themes have not changed. War has not changed. It’s offensive. Making young men an women consider these issues will never be achieved by denying their current existence by censoring works of art and historical monuments. We are not above this. Remember that when you look at the log mural.

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One year ago, I took this picture.

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Yesterday I passed a protest at Field Park …

Where I witnessed the pretense of those who claim the moral high ground in this election. Many held signs professing support for “peace” and “love.”

Is there anyone “here” who can honestly claim that Hillary Clinton does not have a record as a hawk who has been involved in the escalation of war for decades?

How can you legitimately claim the moral high ground of “peace love and understanding” when you voted for a war candidate?

The lesser of two evils argument I understand. That is very different than claiming the moral authority of “peace and love.”

A vote for Hillary Clinton was a vote for war. War is not peace and love.

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The Hometown Police Chief: Michael Wynn ’93

What advice would you give to Williams students preparing for life after graduation?

Find your passion and stick to that. If you want to work in a smaller community and work one on one with people, you might not get rich monetarily, but you’ll benefit in other ways.

The other thing is: be open to new experiences and understand that you can only control what you can control. There are outside influences like my injury that no amount of planning in the world can account for. If you only have one plan like I did, it’s damaging. Control what you can control but be willing to be flexible and roll with the punches because they’re coming. With a Williams education you should always be able to dust yourself off and get back in the game.

Read the whole article here.

An interesting perspective on mulitculturalism from Chief Wynn here.

 

 

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On veterans

Those who remember know me as PTC. I commented here for years talking about townie life and critiquing the college whenever I could. We had a lot of spirited arguments on this blog. Thanks to David for allowing this open forum.

Ephblog kept me home. I was overseas a lot when I posted.

My real name is Cleave Carter. My dad, Harvey, was class of ’60, my mother in law director of security, Jean Thorndike.

Is she the only college administrator that David Kane likes?

I got out of the Navy in 2012, after operating in over 27 nations and serving in three wars in the US Navy SEAL Teams. I am a retired Master Chief SEAL. When I got home, I went back to undergrad at MCLA (summa cum laude/ 4.0). Then, I got a Master’s in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College. I won the award for best thesis there.

Yes, I can write. Yes, I am bright. Yes, I have a ton of experience. Yes, I am a townie. Yes, I am a legacy. Yes, I am a veteran.

More school is next.

I live about 20 yards from campus. I grew up here, but no Williams for me. Such is life in the big city.

Williamstown is an odd place to come back to after so many years in war. You can never really come home when you are not welcome…

Williams College should, and now does, matriculate veterans. David is wrong in his sentiments about this matter. Absolutely wrong. The men and women I served with are the most capable people I have ever met in my life.

You have given one a chance now… and he is crushing it. The proof is in the pudding.

Matriculate more.

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Summer fun!

Re posting of places to swim and more! Summer in Williamstown is the best. While it may be dead in here… it is not dead at the star stacked local bars and hang outs.

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War

We are at war. So far away for some… but still, but still…

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Memories of a run in

This goes out to the Ephs who had to deal with the nasty climate of corruption and murder that gripped the townie culture in Boston during the 80s.

A member of the crew about my age (early 20s at the time) named Butchie Doe tried to pick a fight with me in a Somerville bar during the summer of 1987, but I rejected his taunts to step outside as his friends dragged him away at the bartenders request. I am glad I did not take the bait, because there is a solid chance I would have been murdered.

Boston was a great city to go to school and work in in the 80s, but this nasty bit of corruption that inflicted itself on the local population is a terrible stain on many local officials as well as on the FBI’s reputation. I hope that anyone involved is discovered and put away forever.

I never did head back to that bar again for another round of beers. Corrupt elements of the polity and law enforcement in the city enabled thugs to rule entire neighborhoods- and those places were to be avoided. I hope that has changed in the last 30 years.

Updated video here.

If the FBI had done it’s job my dad would still be alive.

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Moving Mitt

In the late 80’s, I worked for a furniture company in Boston and we moved John Kerry’s furniture to a large multi level brownstone.
Kerry hired a local company and was a very personal guy who left a solid tip…. having said that, can Mitt win? Maybe?

Can the republican version of Kerry win the presidency?

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Top 50 most beautiful colleges

Another “best” list. Williams does not make the grade according to thebestcolleges.org, guess which college does?

Yes, you guessed it!

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ROTC returns to Harvard and Yale

The country will benefit by having ROTC again recruiting at the nation’s top universities. ROTC graduates constitute 56 percent of Army officers, 41 percent of Air Force officers, 20 percent of Navy officers and 11 percent of Marine Corps officers, according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense.

The legislation repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” gave a not-so-gentle push with the inclusion of a provision requiring a report to Congress on the enforcement of the law that prohibits federal funds to colleges that block ROTC units.

Whatever the motivations – fairness or fear of losing federal funding, or both – the decision to welcome back ROTC is the right one. http://www.theday.com/article/20110527/OP01/305279912

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Slippery B…. gone

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Women’s rugby breaks world record for charity

Previous post here

UPDATE: They did it. Congratulations. That had to be tough, especially with this cold spring. Cold, wet and miserable.

Underway! “Scrum for a cure.”

The fundraiser is the brainchild of a Keene player, according to Keene coach Karen Johannesen. That player then contacted Williams co-captain Leah Lansdowne, who immediately jumped on board.

That is a long game!

The most important aspect in terms of the endurance of this event. The weather.

For the record- 23-24 APR 2011
OBSERVED
Hi 49°F
Lo 34°F
Precip (in)
0.27in. The damp cold 24 hours included rain and snow.

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Clean election but strife rocks Nigeria

Bad news from the most powerful West African Nation. Finally a clean election, but massive violence. Let us pray that Nigeria is able to get past this current round of extreme violence. The risk is huge.

The importance of peace and stability in Nigeria cannot be overstated. It has a massive population of over 170 million, and huge oil reserves.

Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. (The country joined OPEC in 1971). Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of GDP and 80% of Government earnings. However, agitation for better resource control in the Niger Delta, its main oil producing region, has led to disruptions in oil production and currently prevents the country from exporting at 100% capacity.[67]

Nigeria often leads as the major force provider when there is UN intervention in Africa. Calm Christians/Muslim relations in Nigeria are essential for peace in West Africa. Nigeria is the key black African Nation model for the promotion of stability throughout the continent.

Taking advantage of its role as Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria has repositioned its military as an African peacekeeping force. Since 1995, the Nigerian military through ECOMOG mandates have been deployed as peacekeepers in Liberia (1997), Ivory Coast (1997–1999), Sierra Leone 1997–1999,[53] and presently in Sudan’s Darfur region under an African Union mandate.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black. It is listed among the “Next Eleven” economies, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The economy of Nigeria is one of the fastest growing in the world

May peace and prosperity reign. “You are welcome.”

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Nothing and everything

If you stand for nothing and everything, eventually you’ll end up with nothing. Allied Air Power leads in Libya.

The time has come, in short, for the Arab regimes to demonstrate regionally and internationally the will and courage to act demonstrated by many of their own citizens domestically. Otherwise, they run the risk, in what is supposed to be a transforming Middle East, that when the last Libyan rebel lies bleeding in the desert, the boot of a pro-Gaddafi thug upon his neck, his last gasp will be: “Where are the Arabs?”

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Harvard leads, Welcomes back ROTC

Harvard gazette story

“Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals,” Faust said. “It broadens the pathways for students to participate in an honorable and admirable calling and in so doing advances our commitment to both learning and service.” Harvard President Drew Faust

“NROTC’s return to Harvard is good for the University, good for the military, and good for the country,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “Together, we have made a decision to enrich the experience open to Harvard’s undergraduates, make the military better, and our nation stronger. Because with exposure comes understanding, and through understanding comes strength.”

Congratulations to Harvard. The link provides a good video of images with President Faust speaking in the background. Harvard leads the way!

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Pop songs (modern music corner) #1

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?

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College and Town to weigh in in Pownal

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.

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How much of a drunk are you too? Two

Where is this? Current Drunk score: EphLaw:1 Jeffz:1

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Mika V. Miley- Real or staged?

Is this an actual dispute between a 40 plus year old anchor and a teen idol, or a staged conflict invented by marketing to promote both stars in their targeted demographic? Please vote below.

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Pownal to Williams/town- Stay out of my kitchen!

From the Bennington Banner:

In a split vote, the Select Board decided Thursday to send a letter to the Public Service Board, asking it to deny party status to out-of-state entities such as Williamstown, Mass., regarding permitting of a proposed 29.5 megawatt biomass facility at the former Green Mountain Race Track.

Those pesky Vermonters!

(Ed note: The Green Mountain Boys Flag)

“The gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills, and you shall understand it.”
Ethan Allen Reply to the King’s attorney-general (June 1770), in a New York court case decided against him, prior to his armed resistance to claims of New York authority over Vermont.

Many arguments suggesting that Williamstown should have a voice because of impact, but I do not see anyone suggesting Pownal should be able to regulate Williamstowns plant- funny how that works!

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Is this statement true?

Link to topix debate- Great stuff! Town and gown!

The Williams College heating plant particulate emissions ranking in the Commonwealth of Mass,with 0 being cleanest,and 100 being dirtiest in the state, is 90.

What exactly is the emissions data from the college power plant, how much growth in use has there been in the last decade?

Why be for biomass and other local fuel sources? It’s the war, stupid!


(Ed Note: Picture of the 1934 Cramm and Ferguson gem added Sun 16Jan’11 at 11:11 PST)

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How much of a drunk are you, too?

Test your skill. Where is this location?

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How much of a drunk are you?

In the vain of (rip off of) the Diana Davis series of pics around Williams Campus I am going to begin posting a series of pics that relate to alcohol. Williams is a heavy drinking school… so this should be easy. Don’t be bashful!

Where was this picture taken? Please add why you think you remember this item or location.

(Ed note: Dick Cavett recalls his first drunk and the legendary bed-spins http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/sauce-for-the-goose-take-a-gander/ DS)

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Mounties Football goes unbeaten 12-0. Wins Title.

Latest victim in title game is Athol. Greylock 34- Athol 14. Something in the local water this year! Mount Greylock Regional High School Football Team steamrolled the Division, compiling a 12-0 record.
Even more impressive is the dominance they displayed, winning by large numbers the entire season. Coach Shawn Flaherty, Asst. Coaches Paul Barrett and Brian Gill developed this team into one of the finest in county history. Congratulations to all!

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