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David and Dudley and Field, Oh My …


Brick bats being thrown at this distinguished member of the Class of 1825.

I saw him at Reunion and he looked well, considering.


Parade more fun than Parsing …



Class of 1956 has great 60th reunion! Col. Williams Mural in full glory at The Log. Historically more questionable mural of Col Williams being tackled by Red-Coated Villain Lord Jeffrey Amherst and black-vestured John Wesley more problematic!

Campus in full glory. “Buster” Grossman ’56 leads singing of The Mountains at the Rogerson Lunch the way it should be sung … with gusto!!


Trump You! No ‘finesse’ necessary …



… for those looking for more/less Trumpery comment. Fill in your own details/spin. Comments are unnecessary either way.

Poor Dave! Be-do/Be-don’t. I add this note of sympathy since my name is still on the masthead. Hoping to see you and other ’57/’58 grads at Reunion.

I wonder if Trump U will have reunions at court sessions?


Reunion, President Garfield’s 160th, and an interesting list …

Yes, I am packing my requisites including purple boxers from Brooks Brothers (XL)  for the events of next week.

This brings to mind James A. Garfield, Class of 1856 and the 20th President of the United States.Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 12.38.31 PM

The number nine refers to an estimate of IQ.

In 2006, University of California at Davis psychology professor Dean Simonton completed a comprehensive study examining the “intellectual brilliance” of 42 US presidents. The top 15 who appear on this list were compiled by Libb Thims — an American engineer who compiles high IQ scores as a hobby — using the results of Simonton’s study.

This would have been President Garfield’s 160th reunion. I will see that he is remembered.


Outside Stereo Speaker …

… can address one issue in two directions!


Ad …


Purple …



Speaking of Presidential …

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.22.25 AMThe Boston Globe, which I am sure must be read by some of a Williams persuasion, published this fancilful front page on Sunday.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Matthew 7:16

See the whole page …


Just a moment of relief …


…. as you continue the five days of Dudley Finance Contemplation while worried that your name may pop up on the Panama list.

Is that Sarah with the rifle from American Sniper ? What a break for us that cows don’t run wild in the Alaska hinterland!


Wasn’t there a dictionary in Chapin?

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.34.55 PM


1942 Movie may be of interest …


Help Wanted : Strongman. Apply within …

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 4.22.58 PM

Run large country. No experience necessary. Interested applicants will have successful media background.


An interesting view of us from the UK








Dominick Dunne ’49, the Mayor of the OJ Courtroom

Dominick Dunne, Williams Class of 1949, was awarded the Bicentennial Medal in 1999.

The Cinema Society & The Wall Street Journal Host A Screening Of Babel

This is the closing line of the tribute to him:  “May your remarkable skills as social anthropologist long continue to reveal the rights and wrongs of a society still groping to find its moral bearings.”

In 1995 Dominick Dunne covered the OJ Simpson trial for Vanity Fair magazine.

And what coverage it was …

If O.J. Simpson’s murder trial took place today, a perpetual stream of social-media updates from the courtroom would alert us to everything from the defense attorneys’ outfits to the most shocking moments on the stand.

In 1995, when the trial actually happened, we had none of that. Instead, we had Dominick Dunne.  

In the new FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, actor Robert Morse plays Dunne to perfection.

In the 15 years since the trial, we have learned many things about common police handling of blacks from harassment to the horrific use of deadly force. Perhaps it is easier now to understand, if not agree with, the black reaction to the ‘not guilty’ verdict.

Some of this process of obtaining new wisdom may apply to the many column inches of deconstruction and parsing currently running on Ephblog … there is a value to the simple humanity of trying to understand another’s point of view.


A curious thought …


… I wonder what the quality and quantity of the blog correspondence under various postings would be if the exchanges had to be made with pen and ink and sent through the mail …


From August, 2008 … Even more timely.



Williams Welcomes Anti-Semitic Speakers

Professor Vijay Prashad is a virulent anti-Semite.

Prashad recently joined the Geobbels-esque choir chanting their latest popular “Palestinian children were killed in cold blood” refrain.

Typically, these catchy tunes list names of Palestinians killed in the act of stabbing, shooting, or running over Jews.

Prashad’s own list, published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, named six individuals—one who is decidedly NOT dead, four who were killed-while-killing or trying to kill, and one who child who was an adult caught in the crossfire between a terrorist and police.

One does not have to be a news junky to know that the Palestinians that have died in the recent terrorist wave are not being “killed in cold blood.” The US media has reported clearly on the causality of these events.

Hence, when Prashad blatantly lies about his own list and later about “over 150” Palestinians, he is demonizing the Jewish state and thus fanning the flames of anti-Semitism among Gazette readers—and likely on Trinity College campus where he is employed and on any campus he visits as a speaker.

And one of these campuses was Williams College.

Granted, that was back in 2010. However, Williams has invited other speakers more recently that are part of the tidal wave of anti-Semitism that is crashing across college campuses.

Just last semester, for example, the college hosted Remi Kanazi who denies Jewish right to self-determination. Kanazi poeticizes about segregated bus (no such thing), hundreds of Israeli checkpoints (there are 13), and other fabrications in order to falsely associate Jewish society with apartheid. And Kanazi dreams of day when “Zionists” will cower.

This dreck arrived on campus and was not banned.

President Falk appears not to even have bothered to identify Kanazi’s fabrications as hate speech or condemn it as anti-Semitism.

So President Falk’s decision to ban Derbyshire from campus, of course, begs the question:

Should Williams deny a racist’s right to free speech (Derbyshire) but support that of an anti-Semite (Kanazi/Prashad)?

Is there one standard for African Americans and other groups and another for Jews?

And if the president desires to “protect” students, should he not protect ALL students?

Or none.

Certainly, to protect some groups and not others IS bigotry.

And so, should we not be objecting to this double-standard?

And if we do not object, are we not ourselves accomplices to bigotry?


Star Wars Week: Episode 4

For our fourth installment of Star Wars Week at EphBlog, we look at some of the expertise and opportunities at Williams to study, well, not Star Wars, but its influences.

Williams is well-supplied not only with expertise in Star Wars matters, but in the influences that helped shape Star Wars as well.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you probably know that R2-D2 and C-3PO owe their existence and role in the story to Akira Kurosawa’s film The Hidden Fortress. And for those with an interest in Kurosawa, Professor of Comparative and Japanese Literature Christopher Bolton teaches COMP/JAPN 153: Japanese Film, which was offered to Williams students this fall. (A 200-level version of this class has been offered previously). Or, for students on campus for Winter Study, Robert Kent ’84 has taught a series of Winter Study classes based on Aikido. Some of these courses, such as 2013’s PSCI 16, Aikido & The Art of Persuasive Political Speech, have featured a Kurosawa component. And in the not-too-distant past (most recently, Spring 2011?), English Professor Lynda Buntzen taught ENGL 404, Auteur Cinema and the Very Long Film. One presumes that the film viewing took place outside of class! And then there’s John Sayles ’72, who was, in part, set on the course to his storied directorial career under the guidance of English Professor Charles T. Samuels. Professor Samuels reportedly introduced Sayles to international film, including Kurosawa.

Another great influence on George Lucas was The Searchers, the underpinning of Luke’s journey in Star Wars. This film was centrally featured in the Spring of 2015 in Professor Mark Reinhardt’s syllabus for American Studies 201: Becoming and Unbecoming Americans: An Introduction to American Studies. The film kicked off one of the course’s three units: “Cartographies of Citizenship,” serving as an appropriate gateway to, among other things, Frederick Jackson Turner, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Kanye West. Relatedly, before entering journalism and then embarking on a series of perhaps-fictional adventures around the globe, Adam Bloch ’06 authored an honors thesis on Revisionist Westerns and U.S. History, under the guidance of Karen Merrill, in which he analyzed The Searchers (and other great, revisionist Westerns) with remarkable insight. And director John Ford’s work is featured as an influence in ARTS 315, Realisms.

Finally, in building the mythological structure of the Star Wars universe, Lucas drew heavily on the work of Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist. Evans Lansing Smith ’73, chair of the Mythological Studies department at Pacifica Graduate Institute, is one of the preeminent scholarly experts in Campbell, and editor of the recent Campbell collection Romance of the Grail. Another Eph who has written about Campbell is Samira Martinhago Custodia ’13, whose honors thesis, Dystopia Dreaming: Examining Gender and Heroines in Young Adult Dystopian Literature, places its analysis in the context of Campbell’s hero and myth archetypes.

Addendum: It’s well-known that Lawrence of Arabia was also a major influence on Star Wars (all that sand!), but I don’t have anything to write about from an Eph perspective. If anyone has any ideas, let me know in the comments!



Major Infrastructural Changes Planned for Weekend; Long Outages Possible



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


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.


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.

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Slippery B…. gone


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



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