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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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Cross the Vermont Border to Peter Hopkins’ New Home Brewing Shop

Hoppy Valley Hops photo, via Twitter

Hoppy Valley Hops photo, via Twitter

When returning to the Purple Valley after an absence, it can be hard for Ephs to leave the Williams College campus at all, even for draws like the Pine Cobble Trail or the Clark. But now Peter Hopkins ’74 has a new reason for Ephs to venture the two and a half miles north up Route 7 to Pownal, Vermont: his organic hops farm, Hoppy Valley Organics, is ready to supply everyone’s homebrewing needs, and offering tours:

The company is in its third year of growing hops on property on Route 7 and at end of July, the owners are opening up the yard for those sightseers to get a closer look.

Concurrently, the company is showcasing its new home-brew supply store at the nearby Hoppy Valley Vermont Tasting Room.

“Over the last 2 1/2 to three years, we’ve had hundreds of people buttonhole us, taking pictures,” co-owner Peter Hopkins said…

The home-brewing shop joins the “Vermont Tasting Room” that Hoppy Valley has been operating inside the Hillside House Furniture barn for the last two years. As the inclusion of “Organics” in the business name suggests, Hopkins and his partner (Hillside House proprietor John Armstrong), are focused on premium, artisanal hops:

The hop-growing operation isn’t typical though. Hopkins and John Armstrong started the business with a focus on returning to the “roots of Vermont’s” hop growing. The two handcrafted teepee-like structures with ropes to pull the hops up and down. The business even kicked off with a community hop planting party, which mirrored an old-fashioned barn raising.

“The structures we built were typical of 19th-century hop growing,” Hopkins said.

Besides growing four standard varieties — Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, and Nugget — the owners have traveled all over the state seeking the oldest hops plants they could find to grow.

Hopkins has also been supporting efforts to change Vermont law to authorize farm-brewing licenses to be issued to Vermont farmers brewing from their own ingredients:

Peter Hopkins, who grows hops in Pownal, said he believes the bill would boost Vermonters’ efforts to grow hops, grain and malt.

“It should bring the farmers and the brewers much closer together. Each will depend upon the other,” said Hopkins, whose farm is called Hoppy Valley Organics. “If all of a sudden there’s increased demand, there’ll be more hops in the ground,” he added.

But Vermont-grown hops can be significantly more expensive, said Todd Haire, operations manager for Switchback Brewing Company in Burlington.

Switchback has brewed with local hops through University of Vermont Extension, Haire said. He said brewers are willing to try Vermont hops but need a consistent supply.

Hopkins is working on that! Another legislative change that could help Hopkins and Hoppy Valley Organics would be a repeal/reduction of the drinking age. Williams students, with their interest in organic farming, are both a natural labor source and a likely market, if Hoppy Valley expands. If students could lawfully home-brew from the product of their labors, this could be a virtuous circle. And being just on the north side of the Williamstown border places Hopkins in astate that has considered, at least twice, reforming its drinking age in recent years.

Williams Students help plant first hops at Hoppy Valley, via Twitter

Williams Students help plant first hops at Hoppy Valley, via Twitter

Other Ephs from the Class of ’74 — and perhaps others from the “4” and “9” years who arrived early to Reunion 2014 — are likely already familiar with Hopkins’ hops from a Thursday night kickoff BBQ he hosted and catered last year. Other Ephs should make time for the short northward detour on their next trip to Williamstown, or even plan a trip for the weekend of August 1. Then, in conjunction with a home-brew festival in downtown Bennington on Saturday, Hoppy Valley Organics will host two events:an open house on Friday, July 31 from 2 to 8 p.m. Parking for the event will be located across Route 7 on the west side of the Pownal View Barn and food and beverage will be available. And the grand opening of the home brew shop will be held Sunday, Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

. You can keep up with Hoppy Valley Organics on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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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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Drug Use on Campus

PareskyLawnBowler (who really ought to join us as an author) writes:

#10 BABY!!

Drug use grade: A-
Percentage of 18-25s statewide using drugs regularly: 24.41
Percentage of 18-25s statewide using marijuana regularly: 35.72
Percentage of 18-25s statewide using cocaine regularly: 6.36
2009 on-campus arrests for drug law violations: 41
Student population: 2,141

I’m sure the “methodology mavens” on Ephblog will tear apart the way this study was performed. My advice would be to just suck in the knowledge and hold it as long as you can before blowing it out.

Get to work, you lazy methodology mavens!

See below for highlights from the Eagle article (hat tip to dm ’10):

Williams College has been named the 10th “druggiest” college in the country by the Internet news website, The Daily Beast.

James G. Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs at Williams College, said Tuesday the college questions the validity of the rankings, especially with three of the five factors being used in the exercise being based on statewide figures.

“Williamstown is as remote from the state population centers as is possible to be,” he said.

He said Williams’ ranking doesn’t tell the college anything.

“Our knowledge of the situation is much more local and direct than that,” he said.

While Williams College received an A- from College Prowler — meaning its drug scene isn’t visible and students don’t feel pressured into doing drugs — it had 41 arrests on-campus for drug law violations in 2009 out of 2,141 students, according to the rankings.

Kolesar said the number of arrests included in the ranking doesn’t correspond to any numbers he has found from Williams security or local law enforcement.

Perhaps they used EphBlog as a source?

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Golf Interlude

Looking to take some time away from the World Cup to indulge your backswing? Unable to make it up to the annual alumni golf tournament at Taconic? Two recent features have highlighted the Eph-owned Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, pride of Charlie Kirkwood ’57 and Pete Kirkwood ’93 (also known for their role in the Eph Booze Mafia) as a place to take care of your 19-hole needs.

Sustainable economy e-zine Keystone Edge profiled Shawnee Inn’s efforts to embrace a green identity, through its “Beer From Here, Food From Near” restaurant theme (featuring the products of Pete’s ShawneeCraft Brewery) and other efforts to attract the trendy sustainability crowd:

We resolved about four or five years ago that the destiny of Shawnee is to look upward, to be a more high-end destination and the reason is we weren’t doing justice to the beauty of this place if we’re not maximizing visitors’ appreciation of it,” says [Pete] Kirkwood, who has only been back in the U.S. for five years, having returned from a stretch doing tsunami relief work in Thailand. He recently spent four days in Haiti performing earthquake relief work with the volunteer-based non-profit he co-founded, Hands On Disaster Response.

Kirkwood realized that arts and crafts aesthetic, which already existed in spots under the decades of updates at the Inn, was exactly what the resort needed. “It’s a philosophy that embraces living close to nature, embraces healthy, outdoor activity, and embraces craftsmanship from the interior design to architecture to food to the kind of uniforms the staff wears,” says Kirkwood. “It was a breakthrough for us. We all knew we needed a renaissance.”

“We’ve had to reinvent ourselves as circumstances change,”

Not surprisingly, the Golf Channel’s story focuses more on the golf experience and the possibility of improving it:

Owner Charles Kirkwood has been in discussions with architect Tom Doak about restoring the course using old photographs and drawings. Doak did a similar project at Pasatiempo Golf Club in California, although it didn’t involve eliminating extraneous holes.

All but three of the holes at Shawnee Inn are on an island formed by the Delaware River, making for some dramatic holes alongside and over the river. There’s also a portable bridge that was built decades ago. It was designed by original Shawnee Inn owner and architect C.C. Worthington.

Each year, the bridge is removed after the season, and it’s reassembled in the spring. Part of any future renovation would include a bigger permanent bridge that could allow for heavier traffic. Kirkwood would like to see major tournaments return to Shawnee Inn, which in addition to the PGA has also hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur (1919), Shawnee Open (which Walter Hagan competed in) and the 1967 NCAA men’s championship.

The signature hole at Shawnee is the seventh on the Blue Course, although the second on the Red Course is just as scenic. Both are par 3s that cross the river, however, the Blue hole might have a better view from the green with the Poconos and river in the background.

Shawnee Inn is located just above the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania, less than 100 miles from both Philadelphia and New York. The 9-hole, par three course mentioned in the Golf Channel article may be of particular interest: it’s not only designed by Doak, but play is complimentary to guests of the resort. It’s also lighted and can be played after dark.

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Former Midd president John McCardell on lowering the drinking age

From Reason TV:

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Bubbly

Commencement speaker Jay McInerney ’76 debuts today as the Wall Street Journal’s wine columnist.  He leads off with a doozy of an anecdote:

My first experience with a sparkling pink wine took place on a blanket on the lawn at Tanglewood in the company of a girl named Joan Coughlin. The Who were onstage performing “Tommy” and the warm summer air was perfumed with incense and cannabis smoke. The wine in question, Cold Duck, was, I discovered much later, composed of two parts New York State sparkling wine and one part California bulk red wine. I eventually learned to turn up my nose at Cold Duck, but I think my fond memories of that evening may have something to do with my abiding enthusiasm for rosé Champagne.

1)  The Who played at least twice at Tanglewood, in 1969 and 1970, which is in the right time frame.  McInerney may even have picked up one of these sharp pins while at the show.  Fun fact: a concert by the Who was apparently once a musically and culturally valuable experience.

2) Cold Duck is highly suspicious stuff.  Avoid if at all possible.

The rest of the column is a paean to expensive pink bubbly, especially the Dom Pérignon Rosé, which is apparently the “911 Turbo” of the wine world.  (Hip reference!)  Read the whole thing if you like creepy Julianne Moore name drops and doctor dissing.  More commentary from Gawker here.

McInerney will also be blogging about wine for the WSJ here, if you’re interested.

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Binge drinking won’t hurt your test scores

According to a study conducted by Boston University and Brown University scientists. Via the Awl.

Over a four-day period, the 193 student participants were given either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. The students who received alcoholic beverages drank until they had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12. The next day, participants took practice versions of the Graduate Record Exam and a mock quiz on a lecture they received the previous afternoon.

Whether they were sober or inebriated the previous night, all of the students received similarly high scores on both exams.

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Eph Booze Mafia

This may well be the most important [non hoops-related] post I ever contribute to Ephblog … a summary of Ephs who are accomplished / newsmakers in the delicate art of creating, marketing and discussing beer, wine and spirits.   I was amazed by how many Ephs turned up in the world of alcohol after a quick Google search, and I imagine I have omitted many.  Might we someday speak of the Eph Booze Mafia?  Were the Williams alumni office to sponsor an event featuring, for example, a panel of distinguished Ephs in the wine industry (and, it goes with out saying, they’d bring samples), I am confident it would be enormously popular — and maybe even teach undergrads to focus a bit less on alcohol content and a bit more on quality.  [Ironically, so far as I am aware, Purple Cow Vineyards lacks any Williams affiliation].

  • Karen and Brice Hoskin (both class of 1990) are looking to bring their award winning Montanya Rum to the Berkshires.  Read reviews of Montanya here and here.
  • Mike Rabiner ’03 and Blake Morgan ’04 recently organized the Cincinnati Beerfest.
  • Current students Tim Marrs ’11 and T. Sam Jensen ’11 are off to an early start in pursuing their brewing ambitions.  Note to Tim and Sam: there is an awesome, currently vacant North Adams venue perfectly suited to a brew pub.  Tim, Sam and other aspiring brewmeisters can even learn their craft during Winter Study.  Ahh, to be in college.  Tim and Sam may want to chat with Pete Kirkwood ’99, owner of ShawneeCraft Brewing Co., who has received acclaim for his fledgling brewing efforts, as well as Christopher Ericson ’93, owner and head brewer at the similarly-esteemed Lake Placid Pub and Brewery.  Ericson’s Ubu Ale is apparently one of Bill Clinton’s favorites.
  • The list of Ephs in the wine industry is particularly voluminous, and particularly impressive.  Selim Zilkha ’46 (yes, that Selim Zilkha) owns the Laetitia Vineyard & Winery.  Graham Wehmeier ’99 is a winemaker at Merryvale Vinyard.  Tim Snider ’92 is the General Manager of the Fess Parker winery.  Eric Dahlberg ’85 is the President and Founder of Winesecrets, a wine filtration company.  Sam Landis ’98 helps run Vynecrest Vinyards.  Tom May ’56 owns, with his wife, Martha’s Vinyard.  George Vare ’58 owns (or owned, the website seems to be defunct) Vare Vinyards, and was the co-founder of Luna Vinyards.  Tad Drouet ’90 is an instructor at the Sommelier Society of America.  Eric Hagyard ’06 is an assistant winemaker at Pott Wine (the interview with Eric is particularly interesting).  Jason Haas ’95 is the General Manager of the Tablas Creek Vineyard.  Tom Geniesse ’86 owns Bottlerocket Wine in Manhattan, while Mei Ying So ’93 owns the Artisan Wine Shop in Beacon, New York.  W. Reed Foster ’54 is the President of the Coalition for Free Trade, which advocates direct-to-consumer wine shipments (now who in good conscience can oppose that)?  Reed co-founded Ravenswood Winery (the one with the “no wimpy wines” slogan).   
  • Of course, the most prominent Eph in the alcohol industry is Edgar Bronfman ’50, formerly President and CEO of Seagrams.  Sam Bronfman ’75, formerly a Seagrams executive, now runs Bacchus Capital Management.
  • Last but not least, Commencement speaker Jay McInerney ’76, who has been called the best wine writer in America, has published two books on wine (Bacchus and Me and A Hedonist in the Cellar), and was recently named the new wine critic for the Wall Street Journal.
  • A few additions since this was first posted: Chris Sweatman ’00 is an operations manager at Harpoon Brewery, and Bryan Baird ’89 runs Baird Brewing Company in Japan.  Connor O’Rourke ’97 sells wine via Candid WinesJill Bernheimer ’93 runs wine club and retailer Domaine 547
  • In sum: the sheer amount of, ummm, first-hand knowledge of alcohol collectively gathered on the Williams campus has sparked some truly stellar careers.  Good thing that consumption of Beast, Natty Light, Miller High Life, Mad Dog 20/20, wine-in-a-box and “Ephman” brand spirits did not prejudice the now-discerning palates of this talented group of Ephs.
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Beer Pong Origins

Jason Coppelas ’10 posted this quote on WSO. It comes from here. It’s an article about the new reality show High Society that really isn’t worth reading, except for the following:

Beer pong, which originated at Dartmouth and achieved perfection at Williams, is, like most racquet sports, an elite pastime.

Is there truth to this?

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Photo of new Purple Pub exterior

From iBerkshires:

Thanks to JeffZ for the link.

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Counterproductive

On the heels of previous Ephblog discussions about binge drinking and efforts to reduce its frequency on college campuses, a new study from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management found that some public service announcements targeted at students are not having the desired effect.  Quite the opposite.

It has long been assumed, of course, that guilt and shame were ideal ways of warning of the dangers associated with binge drinking and other harmful behaviors, because they are helpful in spotlighting the associated personal consequences. But this study found the opposite to be true: Viewers already feeling some level of guilt or shame instinctively resist messages that rely on those emotions, and in some cases are more likely to participate in the behavior they’re being warned about.

The reason, said Kellogg marketing professor Nidhi Agrawal, is that people who are already feeling guilt or shame resort to something called “defensive processing” when confronted with more of either, and tend to disassociate themselves with whatever they are being shown in order to lessen those emotions.

(Example via Gawker.)

The full study will be published in the Journal of Marketing Research later this year.  Until then, one of the study’s authors has some advice for this attempting to deter students from binge drinking.

Ms. Agrawal suggested two fixes for PSA makers. The first involves media: Ads placed in more-positive surroundings — such as in a sitcom or a positive magazine article — have a better chance at resonating than those placed in tense or negative contexts. Second, she said, anti-alcohol groups would be better served focusing their messages around how to avoid situations that lead to binge drinking than on the consequences of the behavior, because attempting to shame people out of binge drinking doesn’t work.

I don’t know if the health center or anyone else on campus has been employing PSAs of this type around campus.  If anyone in Williamstown has seen anything on this score, feel free to chime in.

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And you thought Williams had a drinking problem…

This American Life visits Penn State (MP3 download)

Episode summary

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Morty becomes President of Northwestern this Friday

Commenter “1980” writes to us that Morty Schapiro is being “sworn in” as President of Northwestern this Friday. As you might imagine there are a number of campus activities surrounding this event. Northwestern is very enthusiastic about their new President:

The inauguration festivities will kick off late Wednesday night when President Schapiro holds a “LiveWired Conversation.” Northwestern students will have an opportunity to go online and chat with President Schapiro and leaders of student organizations who will be with the president at Norris University Center. Students are encouraged to participate, either in person or online.

Tickets are also still available to a special inauguration concert featuring Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter John Legend that will be held at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. A valid WildCARD is required to purchase tickets, which are available at http://nbo.universitytickets.com/user_pages/event.asp?id=315&cid=22

On Saturday, the inauguration festivities will conclude with festivities at Wildcat Alley north of Welsh-Ryan Arena and the Northwestern football game against Miami of Ohio at Ryan Field. Kick-off for the game is 11 a.m. and Wildcat Alley will open two hours prior to game time.

At halftime of the game, four teams of Northwestern students representing each undergraduate class will participate in the “Schapiro Challenge” – a special relay race that will include wheelbarrows, textbooks and dizzy bat spinning and officiated by President Schapiro. Students are invited to cheer on their class during the special event.

On a slightly less respectful note, one of the student newspapers at Northwestern decided to welcome Morty to campus via a quiz entitled President’s first encounter with a drunk freshman: choose your own adventure!, which contains gratuitous insults about Williams:

Here at Northwestern, we aren’t limp-limbed intellectuals like those kids at Williams, we are proactive doers. You would have been better-off kicking her down the stairs.

We won’t stoop to that level here on EphBlog. We have a great deal of respect for Northwestern, which is easily the second- or third-best university in the Chicago area. And on the topic of drunk freshmen, I would wager that the average Williams freshman can drink the average NU freshman under the table, so Morty should have no trouble adjusting.

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D.A.R.E / Amethyst

Chotch links to some recent commentary from John McCardell, President Emeritus of Middlebury College, on the Amethyst Initiative (Williams is not, yet, a signatory). Perhaps the most interesting section:

Slowly but surely we may be seeing a change in attitude. This summer, Dr. Morris Chafetz, a distinguished psychiatrist, a member of the presidential commission that recommended raising the drinking age, and the founder of the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse admitted that supporting the higher drinking age is “the most regrettable decision of my entire professional career.” This remarkable statement did not receive the attention it merited.

More comments below.

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“The Athletic Divide”

From an excellent Record Op-ed by Ifiok Inyang.

As a member of the varsity football team and therefore one of the many student-athletes here at Williams, I used to hold the perspective that the hard work, time spent and physical sacrifice that goes into being a student-athlete was something that only others in my similar predicament could understand; only they could understand this large part of who I am. I felt that the dedication of other students who participated in different activities was somehow not as legitimate because it did not involve athletics.

I know now that such a view is seriously flawed because I have become more involved in Sankofa, College Council and various other non-athletic commitments on campus. It was through such experiences that I realized exactly how similar we all are; we are all heavily committed to our responsibilities, and we all share the same academic burdens as Williams students.

Read the whole thing. Another good op-ed is here.

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Same issues, different times

http://archives.williams.edu/williamshistory/greylock/abolitionfrat.php

An interesting read on the abolition of fraternities at Williams. If you look at the problems that the College was trying to address- drinking, integration and social learning-  not much has changed. The development of the Neighborhood System is an attempt to deal with similar issues. Same issues, different times. It is worth a read.  

 

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Start drinking heavily

Scott Tamura ’09 and Thai Nguyen ’08 have launched what sounds like a perfect startup for a rather hopeless economy:

Job Site Allows Seekers To Bid On Low Pay

College Grads Create New Web Site

BOSTON — In a sign of just how tough it is to find work in the struggling economy, a group of Boston college grads has created a Web site that allows job seekers to try for positions based on who will work for the lowest salary.

The three local college graduates have launched a site called www.jobaphiles.com where people can bid on jobs posted by employers.

The site was created with the vision to create a “student labor yellow pages,” said Thai Nguyen, CEO of Jobaphiles.com.

[…]

“Jobaphiles is great. Within a few days of getting on the site a comedian hired me to re-do his Web site. I earned enough to cover my student loan payments for a couple of months,” said Ben Brooks, a June Williams College graduate. 

Nguyen, Ben Herila and Scott Tamura founded Jobaphiles.com in August 2008. It is currently targeted at college students and recent grads in the Boston area.

Most job search sites don’t require the potential employee to name their price first. Doing so transfers pricing power away from workers towards employers. I would hope that most employers would realize that picking the ‘lowest bidder’ for any job, even a part-time one, is a good way to ensure that you’ll receive shoddy work product. Assuming that this article is largely a rewrite of a press release (which is what it sounds like), Nguyen might want to rethink his marketing pitch to make it sound a little more hopeful and a little less like we’re stuck in a deflationary death spiral (which we may be, but still).

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Tag your fellow Ephbloggers with a Caricature…

Reggie Dunlop

Which Ephblogger am I “tagging” with this clip? Can you guess?

Please add a clip that captures a caricature of one of your fellow bloggers and let others guess. We will continue this nonsense again later if it works.

UPDATE: Ok. Is this too hard or just boring? Here is a hint, it is not David.

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Blasphemy

I was shocked and disheartened to read this in a WSO discussion thread about the (probably mythical) “South of the Border” sandwich:

Way back in the good ‘ol days when snackbar was in Mission it was some combination of grilled chicken, ciabatta bread, avocado and some kind of cheese. From what I understand they don’t make it anymore, and I know someone who is very upset by this fact.

Kids these days.

Those who remember the real good ol’ days will probably recall the Mission snackbar as a dingy and forgettable temporary exile for the snackbar from its rightful location at the center of campus. The place had very little personality (except a tiny bit gained through the addition of the original Baxter snackbar chairs), and making the long hike out to Mission on a wintry night was a terribly depressing experience for those of us who lived on the other side of campus.

I think the class of 2007 was the only one to experience all three iterations of the snackbar during their time at Williams (Baxter -> Mission -> Paresky), and I personally am still prejudiced in favor of the first one. The Paresky snackbar might acquire some of the personality and charm of the Baxter snackbar in a decade or two (if it lasts that long).

I realize that the paragraph above makes me sound like a crotchety old man, and yes, it does feel good.

In another snackbar item, current students should note that no, you should not be paying any tax at the snackbar. We used to pay tax, but Godfrey Bakuli on College Council got it repealed – and students should be watchful for any backsliding on this issue.

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Know your fellow bloggers through song

A quick departure for some fun.

Dick Swart , Ken T , Frank , Mom, Dcat , David, loweeeel , Rory, Henry , Jeff , Larry , Nuts … Ronit

Update: Loweel asks how the songs were picked. Well, songs mean different things to different people. Everything I picked made sense to me, but not for the same reasons…

Instead of asking how or why, lets try this- Do you think the songs picked are a “hit” or a “miss”, and why?  … What songs would my fellow bloggers have picked for each other?

 

 

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Four out of five college students lie to psychiatry professors

Bloomberg reports:

Almost half of college-aged adults had a psychiatric disorder over a one-year span, based on research criteria that ranged from bipolar disease to substance abuse including smoking. Few sought treatment, the study found.

About one in five students failed to fulfill an obligation, had a legal problem, did something dangerous or caused social problems by using alcohol, the study found. The next most common psychiatric problems were so-called personality disorders, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, at 18 percent, according to the report in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Kudos

When things go wrong, we are quick to criticize the administration, the social systems, and even the students. Too often, we say nary a word when things go right. A weekend ago, it was both Halloween and Homecoming, yet everything seems to have gone very smoothly, in sharp contrast to the problems of the fall of 2007. Kudos.

The following are condensed versions of two articles that appeared in the Record.

Homecoming celebrations go off without a hitch

By Elleree Erdos – Staff Writer (Record)

Event organizers began and ended Homecoming weekend in celebratory fashion, hosting a number of concerts and themed parties without glitches. Party planners were pleased with the turnout at events in celebration of both Halloween and Homecoming.

ACE took charge of Friday night’s lineup, starting the night off with a concert in Lasell, featuring hip-hop artist Charles Hamilton and Grammy Award-winner Rhymefest….

Halloween-themed events followed the concert, beginning with a Freaky Friday dance in Goodrich from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the Late Night Thriller party in Brooks from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m….

During the day on Saturday, the neighborhoods held a Cluster Cup tailgate competition, which Spencer won with its spread of KFC chicken and biscuits, homemade caramel, white chocolate and chocolate-dipped mini apples, cookies, chips and dip, mini molten lava cakes and cheesecakes.

“In my opinion, the weekend couldn’t have gone smoother,” said Franny Barrett ’12, the Wood Neighborhood social chair. The neighborhoods hosted two parties on Saturday night following the football game: the Masquerade Ball in Goodrich featuring DJs Dirty Deeds and D-Lo and the Late Night Trick or Treat in Prospect Basement.

This year all four neighborhoods sponsored both of Saturday’s events. Instead of having simultaneous parties, the events were staggered throughout the night to allow for greater turnout. “The Late Night Trick or Treat gave people something to do until 3 a.m., so a lot more people stayed out later,” said Ali Barrett ’09, ACE president….

Weekend sees few incidents, damages

By Yue-Yi Hwa – News Editor (Record)

College staff have declared last Saturday’s Homecoming a victory off the field as well: neither Facilities nor Campus Safety and Security noted any hiccups despite the crowd of over 2500 and numerous all-campus parties.

“From our point of view, this weekend was amazing,” said Bea Miles, director for Facilities. According to Miles, the only billable incident this weekend was in Tyler Annex. “They broke a chair and had a bio-cleanup,” she said, adding that there were brownies scattered around the area.

Miles also noted that kitchens in dorms were slightly messy Monday morning as students had done a lot of cooking over the weekend, but “it’s nothing we’ll complain about.”

 …“Overall we would like to thank the campus for a wonderful weekend,” she said.

Jean Thorndike, directory of Security, also offered a positive assessment. “The weekend went smoothly and there weren’t any major security issues,” she said. “It was relatively uneventful and the calls we handled were similar to incidents that occur on a regular basis.”

Thorndike added that none of the incidents stood out as significant or specifically related to Homecoming. “During past Homecomings, there was usually more activity on campus,” she said, noting the difficulty of comparing Homecoming weekends “because every other year we host Amherst.”

Kyle Johnson, Williamstown Police Department (WPD) chief, agreed that the weekend had been quiet and uneventful. “This has become the norm since the alcohol policy at the football game has changed,” he said, noting that he was only aware of one summons for an alcohol violation and no arrests.

On Saturday, two WPD officers had been assigned to patrol and four more were on duty at the football game. That evening, three officers were on patrol and two additional officers were assigned to the event at Eastlawn Cemetery….

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Eph Word of the Day: Palinode

From A.Word.A.Day at Wordsmith.org:

palinode

PRONUNCIATION:

(PAL-uh-noad)  

MEANING:

noun: A poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem. 

ETYMOLOGY:

From Greek palinoidia, from palin (again) + oide (song). It’s the same palin that shows up in the word palindrome…

NOTES:

The illustrator and humorist Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) once wrote a poem called The Purple Cow:

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.

The poem became so popular and he became so closely linked with this single quatrain that he later wrote a palinode:

Confession: and a Portrait, Too,
Upon a Background that I Rue!

Oh, yes, I wrote ‘The Purple Cow,’
I’m sorry now I wrote it!
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’ll kill you if you quote it.

USAGE:

“The more lighthearted palinodes were more successful, such as Geoff Horton’s recantation of his youthful view that a martini should be shaken rather than stirred.”
Jaspitos; I Take It Back; The Spectator (London, UK); Jan 24, 2004.

Items to discuss may include hallucinogens used by Mr. Burgess, the proper construction of a martini, and whether Mrs. Palin will issue a palinode.

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College Presidents Call for Lower Drinking Age

Well, this could get interesting.

College presidents from about 100 of the nation’s best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus. …

“This is a law that is routinely evaded,” said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. “It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory.”

Kind of a strange way to make the case, but fair enough.  Plenty of people, myself included, think a lot of the most dangerous kinds of binge drinking would be curtailed by kids’ showing up to school with more, not less, experience with alcohol.

MADD, however, recommends that we let the good times roll.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials are even urging parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on.

“It’s very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses,” said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD.

Sigh.   Thank you for arguing like a  5-year-old.

McCardell claims that his experiences as a president and a parent, as well as a historian studying Prohibition, have persuaded him the drinking age isn’t working.

But critics say McCardell has badly misrepresented the research by suggesting that the decision to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21 may not have saved lives.

In fact, MADD CEO Chuck Hurley said, nearly all peer-reviewed studies looking at the change showed raising the drinking age reduced drunk-driving deaths. A survey of research from the U.S. and other countries by the Centers for Disease Control and others reached the same conclusion.

If drunk-driving deaths were the only toll inflicted by abuse of alcohol, Hurley might have a point.  But the costs of our dysfunctional drinking culture of course extend far beyond that, into the realm of cirrhosis and obesity and the psychological torture of alcoholism.  To me, building a healthier drinking culture requires education, and education requires teaching kids about alcohol when they’re young enough to be taught.

Anything else to add, responsible adults?

Hurley, of MADD, has a different take on the presidents.

“They’re waving the white flag,” he said.

Well, alcohol is winning, if that’s what he means.

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Cop/gown relations – a comparison

This link is a blog write up of last night’s events at Wesleyan. More coverage in other Wesleying posts.

Other coverage is here and here.

If you want to picture the scene, think a typical packed Fountain party on a misty night. Line the entire street with MPD cars. Both sides of the street were flanked with curious/bewildered students with digicams and camera phones, and right in front of the first MPD car in the middle of the road is basically a clusterf*** of maybe 50-100 people. It’s this cluster that’s doing most of the chanting/singing/clapping.

About five minutes later, the police formed a line and started moving forward with their dogs and firing their paintball guns. A canister of tear/pepper gas was fired into the air. At this point it was pure chaos–One person made a run for it and was promptly brought to the ground by five MPDs. Picture people screaming at the police, students physically restraining other students, and one of the arrested kids kicking a patrol car’s door so hard that it bent the frame from the inside and nearly knocked out the window. MPD began menacingly shining the laser guides of their tasers at people. Five students were apprehended for various reasons (I saw at least one running). Of these, two were tasered, and at least three were viciously attacked by the dogs. Many people suffered from the pepper gas because the wind blew it across the crowd, towards Church Street. There was a lot of coughing and people covering their noses and mouths with their shirts. At some point, maybe out of spite, someone went into a house and turned up the music even louder. Students began asking for badge numbers and for reasons for the police presence and why their friends had gotten arrested.

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Lessons from the Lockdown Debate of 2003

Four years and three days ago College Council debated this very issue, and decided overwhelmingly against restricted card access. Direct input from a large number of students was the basis of the decision; we had an unusually high influx of opinions that week.

I urge the leaders of campus today to remember the debate of four years ago, links to its records are in the extended entry. I urge them also to remember that no decision that provides Security with a new tool that they feel prevents danger and damages can be easily reversed. In other words, restricted access in even some dorms this year is highly likely to lead to at least as much restriction in future years, and likely more, and even if no benefit from such restraints were to materialize the restrictions will remain in place.

We are looking at not just an inconvenience this semester but likely an enduring change in campus culture. Students may well have this forced on them someday, but they ought not to take it by choice.

Read more

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Rewarded Praise

Thought that my praise of the College’s openness with regard to the Alcohol Report was premature? You were right! Director of Public Affairs Jim Kolesar ’74 writes:

We made a technical mistake in posting the alcohol web site. The data is intended to inform college discussion. The intent was for it not to be available to the public since we’re not aware of sufficiently comparable data from other schools. The mistake was that the site was posted originally in a way that made it open to all. That’s now been corrected. We intend to make it available to alumni and parents. That correction will take a day or two. When it’s ready, we’ll notify all alumni and parents for whom we have e-mail addresses.

Pathetic. As Jim notes, the site is no longer available.

1) File this under the category of no praise goes rewarded. When will the College learn that, 95% of the time, honesty is the best policy? I find it impossible to believe that any potential applicants would choose, say, Amherst over Williams because of what they read in the Report if Amherst refuses to publish similar data. High school seniors are not that stupid!

2) It would be reasonable for the College to sanitize the Report a bit, prior to publication. Reasonable people might suggest that the raw comments should be summarized and not included. But to hide the entire report from the world over concerns about the lack of “sufficiently comparable data from other schools” is borderline dishonesty. Will tour guides be instructed not to mention the Report? Will applicants who request a copy be denied one?

3) Still want to read a copy of the Report? Well, EphBlog is here to help! Now, the relationship between EphBlog and the College is a tricky one. We are not out to embarrass the Williams; we want more people to apply and more of those accepted to enroll. But, as Dean Fix reminds us, “intellectual honesty is the highest value at Williams.” So, while I have never abused my alumni login privileges by accessing a private document and then making it public, I am happy enough to facilitate such abuse by others. So, where is the student brave enough to post the Report (or at least the highlights an summary) to her own blog?

4) The most recent example of similar College reticence concerns the Report on Varsity Athletics. To this day, the College refuses to post a copy of this Report on its website, despite the fact that it is one of the most important College documents produced in the last decade. Why should the College be afraid of discussions like this? It is sad to see a similar pattern of secrecy and denial in the case of alcohol on campus.

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