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Still an Ongoing Concern

A correspondent, who used to read EphBlog back in the day, mentioned the era when “EphBlog was still an ongoing concern.” Was? EphBlog is thriving today! I will let my co-authors brag about their own work while I highlight my:

Four part series on admissions for veterans: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Four part series on the Record‘s article about financial aid: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Ten part series on admissions preference for students from poor families: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Ten Part Series on the Dean’s letter on Rape, Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Whoops! I still have three updates to do for this one. Back to work . . .


Join EphBlog

EphBlog is looking to bring on more bloggers. Are you a member of the Williams community (student, staff, faculty, parent, local resident, alumni, et cetera)? Do you have something to say about “All Things Eph?” If so, join us.

At our peak several years ago, we have 10+ regular authors, scores of commentators, and a thousand or so readers a day. Alas, our sabbatical cost us much of that community, but we are in the process of building it back. Here are some examples of successful bloggers from the past:

1) Tiny Dancer, who wrote a diary of her year as a JA in 2009 — 2010. Perhaps a JA for the class of 2019 would like to do the same?

2) Wrestling Fan, a parent of an Eph wrestler who covered the team for several years. If you are a parent who wants to cover some aspect of student activity (whether it be a team, a dance company, an a capella group, or anything else), you are welcome at EphBlog.

3) Derek Catsam ’93 used EphBlog as a host for his Red Sox diary. Example post here, and do read the comments! Note that, because EphBlog is good Karma, Derek started this diary in the spring of 2004. And look what happened that fall! Derek then turned those posts into a charming book.

And on, and on. Of course, in a better world, the College itself would provide a forum for these posts, would create a place where Ephs of all ages could write and reflect, discuss and debate. Until that day, however, EphBlog is all we have.

Join us and make it better! (daviddudleyfield at gmail).


EphBlog on Vacation Until January 5th

Enjoy the Holidays and please visit us during Winter Study!


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.


Dead Anyway

The good news: thanks to the departure of a few problematic voices, a (hopefully permanent) end to ridiculous infighting and name-calling among regulars, and a (likely temporary, but still) cessation of some of the more inflammatory / accusatory / speculative posts, Ephblog has ceased to be an embarrassment to Williams. The bad news: before that happened, virtually every consistent contributor got scared away (and of course, David K. continues his indefinite partial hiatus, which dramatically reduces both the content, and the conflict, on the blog). The result: very few posts scheduled for the rest of July and August. Granted, there isn’t a lot of Williams news during that time period in all events, but now is a great time for some of our long-lost contributors to give it another shot and schedule a few posts for the summertime … there certainly won’t be much competition for any posts, and maybe, just maybe, Ephblog can build some good-will!


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.


Spoken Up

Archive of comments on Speak Up. (Whoops! Having some technical difficulties making this happen.)


Why I don’t post here.

Cross-posted at my blog. I don’t usually post here, but some things deserve an in-depth rebuttal. Admin should feel free to keep/remove my “more” tag. Before I get down to business, though, I am very curious about what specific causes, biological or otherwise, that cause fewer females to nominate themselves than males for class officer roles.

Let’s compare the WSO post and David’s post. The WSO post states that seeing one candidate for speaker made her curious, and so she found that there have been no class speakers since 2003. She also found that only 3 out of 24 speakers are female, and that only 1 of the elected speaking roles is female. This causes her to be uneasy. So we have a series of facts, and a single statement of one emotion.

David’s response is that “uneasiness” is a flat-out wrong thing to feel, and that a smarter, more educated person would immediately understand that biological differences between men and women are the cause of the gap. Why? Because “men and women are biologically different.”

What David misses entirely is that the WSO poster never said the differences weren’t biological; indeed, she didn’t say anything about biology, or even anything opinion-related whatsoever. David takes this as a permission slip to imply that she is “deeply uneducated,” and as a bonus, “probably” blames Williams College for this deficiency. David further takes this as an opportunity to reference Larry Summers.

The problem, of course, is that even if there are still biological differences between women and men that affect the selection process for speaking roles, it’s still perfectly appropriate to feel uneasy about the gap. Thus David’s entire post is falsely premised on an imagined deficiency in the WSO poster – assuming ignorance where ignorance may or may not have existed.

Read more


Marco Polo: Into the Pool with the EphBlog Landmarks …

Yes, Dave Kane’s baby is looking at two landmarks: Reaching 2 million site visits and 5 million page views!

Now, Amazon or the NYT or Hot Babes of New Brunswick, NJ may do those stats every day, but considering the small gene pool we have to start with, not bad!

So here’s the deal: Send in your prediction of the days when these landmarks will occur. If your day is right, you will be eligible for the same fantastic prizes that have been awarded to winners of the EphBlog Oscars.

Lets start with 5 million page views

Send in your prediction of the day on which 5 million page views will occur! In the all-too-likely event of ties, the earliest entries will be considered smarter.

PRIZES … PRIZES … PRIZES GALORE (that’s French for a couple) … PRIZES

( Members of the EphBlog Family of viewers with the technical knowledge and keys to the back room are not eligible: You Know Who You Are!)


Spoken Up

Archive of Comments from Speak Up. We are having some technical difficulties. Apologies for any lost comments.


Doctor of Rocket Science

Congratulations to Joe Shoer ’06 on successfully defending his dissertation. I like this:

The funniest thing about this to me is that I know that the research I’ve been working on isn’t done. There are more investigations to pursue, more refinements to write into the code, more variations to try in simulation, and more experimental verification to perform. Research never stops. But at some point, we grad students have to decide, with our advisers, when we have made a sufficient contribution and should wrap up our work into a complete dissertation. Still, it doesn’t quite feel like I’m “done,” because I know that the research has much further to go!


Our Own EphBlog Biggest Loser – 75#s … hwc!

When this post on Biggest Loser was run on Williams’ Tee Wilson and his audition tape for the popular reality series, it produced an unexpected response!

That recorder of the minutia of college performance ‘hwc’ had been dealing with his not-so-minutia frame for the past year or so.

The second comment under the post was from him.”I’m willing to bet that I am the biggest Eph loser for the last 12 months”, he wrote. And went on …

On February 11, 2010 I weighed 250 pounds. Those were the size 44 jeans I was wearing one year ago. I saved them, as a souvenir of my journey. That was the day I started to eat less and move more. The first official “workout” I logged after dabbling for 10 days was February 22, 2010. I’ve stuck to a consistent 1750 to 2000 calorie a day diet and exercised five to six days a week, except for one week last summer when I had the flu and took four days off. There were some weeks I worked out 7 days, but I’ve learned that I have to force myself to take a rest day.
I’ve lost 74 pounds, I’m doing workouts that I simply can’t believe would ever be possible (TRX pushups, rear-foot elevated split squats, burpees, etc.) and I’m in between 34 inch and 36 inch jeans.
I’m not really losing much weight these days, but the heavier weight-lifting in my current workout program is shifting some stuff around building some muscle and moving some stuff around. An update. The scale this morning says that I’ve lost the five pounds I’ve been trying to lose since Christmas. That makes the fifteenth time I’ve lost “just five pounds”, bringing the grand total to 75 pounds since I started.

Well, small wonder hwc has that big smile on his face! Look at that chart! Congratulations!

Here are the ‘comments from Read more


Three new players on the roster to get our ‘comments’ higher …

When I took the job of Managing Editor, I knew I would be working for some results-oriented ownership. When ‘comments’ hits the cellar around where the Washington Senators used to end up in the old days, and bat days aren’t working because Devastin’ Dave isn’t in the lineup enough, its a tough situation. Yeah, I’ve tried all the old tricks: having Jeff work on his spitter, asking Whitney to play more to right, and cajoling Eric to cheat more at third with a runner on. But its’ not working.

So I have to go out into the unsigned free agent arena and come up with three new starters. I’m trying them out today. Let’s see what you Read more


Follow Up to Williams Thesis Use Dispute

I was going to title this post “Why My Critics are Clueless, As Usual,” but I am aiming for higher standards in 2011. Recall our lengthy dispute about the Academic Rating system at Williams. Sam, Derek and Rory demonstrated, to varying degrees, a sad inability to understand both Williams’ own policies and the broader ethos of academia. Only go below if you want the details.

First, we disputed my use of Peter Nurnberg’s senior thesis. I claimed that my usage was appropriate. My critics claimed that it was against Williams policies. (Some of them were also confused on related topics.) As most readers with a clue would have known — concepts like fair use are not that complex — I was correct. See the update at the bottom of the post.

This post has been slightly edited after conversations with Sylvia Brown, Williams Archivist. As a result, the comment thread below will not make much sense. Sorry! In its current form, the post is consistent with Williams policies with regard to the use of senior theses.

Now, it would be one thing if my conversations will Sylvia had forced me to make changes in the original post, but not a single fact from Nurnberg’s thesis has been removed. Every detail — about the exact scores needed for the different academic ratings, about the precise (and formerly secret) procedures used by the admissions office — is still in the current version, officially approved by the relevant authority at Williams. (I did clean up some aspects of the post to remove some confusions, as evidenced in the comment thread, about some side issues.)

So, anyone who asserted that my use of Nurnberg’s thesis was against Williams policy is wrong. Just ask Sylvia Brown!

Second, was my usage consistent with the broader ethos/standards of academia? This is, of course, different from my adherence to Williams’ policies. Perhaps Williams is an outlier. The claim, by various critics, that my actions were outside the bounds of normal academic standards was even more annoying (to me) than disputes about Williams policies. After all, there was a (very small) chance that I was wrong about Williams, but I know approximately as much about current academic norms as most readers.

But you don’t need to believe just me! Let’s consult some other academics.

Professor Andrew Gelman:

I don’t know anything about Williams policy but I have little sympathy for someone trying to restrict the discussion of a thesis on a blog! A thesis is public material and it would seem best for all concerned for any research to be accessible and discussed. I mean, sure, it wouldn’t be right to scan and post entire chapters without permission, but it doesn’t sound like you’re planning on doing that. The bit about “you may not copy or distribute any content without the permission . . .”–that just sounds ridiculous.

Also, I’m not sure how relevant it is whether the blog is commercial or academic. There’s some sort of continuous range, right? On one extreme is this blog right here. It’s non-commercial (we’ve in fact turned down requests to advertise) and it’s academic–actually hosted on a Columbia University computer. But what if we were not academic (if, for example, I worked at a company and hosted it on a server at home) or commercial (as with the many blogs that run a few ads). Or what if it were commercial and non-academic? For example, what if Slate magazine or the New York Times wanted to report some content from this undergraduate thesis? They wouldn’t need permission, right? At least, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to go to the library, read the thesis, and report what they find. (I’m not speaking of legalities here, just what seems reasonable to me.)

Professor Radford Neal:

Perhaps undergraduate theses ought not to be quoted, since the author may not want their immature thoughts to be widely known. But in this case, such quotes are explicitly allowed in academic publications. Is it really less embarrassing for your silly undergrad thoughts to be quoted in Science or Nature rather than in a blog post?

Either a thesis is out there, forming a part of the intellectual atmosphere, or it isn’t. There is no half-way status.

Read the whole discussion for details. The point here is not that all academics agree with me. They don’t! The point is that some academics agree with me and some disagree with me.

The most subtle argument against my use was raised, perhaps unsurprisingly, by Will Slack ’11. He argues that I lack the “moral standing to re-publish” information from Peter’s thesis. Before I grapple with this position, perhaps Will (and others) can flesh it out a bit. For example, does everyone lack this moral standing, or just me? Consider a Williams student writing a Record article about admissions policy at Williams. Does she have the “moral standing” to read Peter’s thesis and use some of the facts in her article? Does it matter if her article is a news story or an op-ed? What if, instead of writing this article for the Record, she wrote it on WSO, or even on EphBlog?

Unless Will (or others) can come up with some plausible grounds for distinguishing among these cases, I would recommend a different rule: Unless library policies specifically prohibit it, anyone writing anywhere may (accurately!) report the contents of anything in the Williams library.

Do readers disagree?


Looking to Procrastinate? Browse Ephblog Humor

There is now a sizable (and growing) group of humorous posts tagged under “humor.” Since the tag is fairly new, I’ve gone back and retroactively applied it to some of the past posts that qualify. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few, so if you’ve posted something funny, please apply the tag! Even in the tag’s current nascent state, you can spend hours procrastinating watching Ephs on the Daily Show and Colbert, “Julianna McKannis” Onion videos, and writing from humorous (or in the case of yours truly, attempting-to-be-humorous) Ephs.  Of course, Ephblog is far from a comprehensive source — for example, we’ve missed quite a few Daily Show appearances by Eph Michael Beschloss.

As a special bonus, here is one from the humor archive never before posted on Ephblog, a Daily Show panel discussion featuring Eph Edward Larson ’74 who, incredibly, still believes in some crazy thing called “evolution.” [And by the way, Jon Stewart has a point about the scrotum.]:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Evolution, Schmevolution – Panel: Edward J. Larson, William A. Dembski, Ellie Crystal
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

Thank you to Derek, and a few other things

A quick but heartfelt “thank you” to Derek for all of the time and effort he put in as President. Under his watch, and with the excellent addition of Dick Swart as managing editor, I believe the content on EphBlog has never been better. As a member of the EphBlog community, I certainly appreciate the results of his efforts.

I’ll re-iterate my view of what EphBlog should be, a web site where the Eph community can discuss issues of mutual interest which relate to Williams College and Williamstown. While there are certainly many serious disagreements on many of the issues, we should be able to disagree without malice or rancor. Please keep this in mind as you blog here.

Going forward, I hope we can engage more regularly with those readers and potential readers who are currently on campus (current students, faculty, administration, and staff). The posts from Prof. Oakley were terrific, and I hope we can have more of that kind of contribution.

Please feel free to contact me via the blog or e-mail (whitney22201 (at) if you have questions or concerns or – most importantly – suggestions about EphBlog. We can’t promise to implement everything, but we will listen and do what we can to make EphBlog an even better place.


Hail to the New Chief

I am pleased to announce that Whitney Wilson (’90) will be serving as the new president of the board of Ephblog. You all know Whitney as a voice of reason and sanity in our spirited cacophony and I want to thank him publicly for taking on the responsibility.

The composition of the board will otherwise remain the same, as our recruiting efforts went for naught, though several folks indicated a possible interest in joining us down the road (which we will welcome with open arms).

I have been honored to serve in this capacity and hope that in the last six months or so we have continued to provide the best forum for “All Things Eph” and the best blog of its kind on the web. Whatever divides us — and self evidently a lot seems to divide us — we are at least all united in our love of Williams.

We still believe in a board that can, in the simplest words:

Provide oversight and to respond to problems and deal with requests.
That’s it. Really. No need for some sort of grand statement of principles, no need for a philosophical treatise on the nature of leadership. No need for wringing of hands, rending of garments, and gnashing of teeth. The position of the Managing Editor, which Dick Swart has tackled ably and with good humor, is to deal with the issues with which an editor of any online publication would deal and the general day-to-day functioning of Ephblog.

Super Bowl! (Featuring Tim Layden ’78)

Check out Tim Layden ’78’s column on the zone blitz, which is sure to be heavily featured in this evening’s game, as well as his prior column on Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers.  Layden’s football book is available on Amazon.  I am sorry, by the way, that I missed her co-host explaining to Mika B. the meaning of some Steelers’ pre-game tradition of “making it rain.”

Feel free to utilize this post as an open thread for Super Bowl predictions, reactions, commentary, ranking of commercials (this one will be tough to top, so good), half time show critiques, or general refuge from overconsumption of beer, nachos, and announcer hypberbole.  And Go Pack!


Claiming Williams: Today, February 3rd …

Today will be a carefully planned and full day of activities.

From the  announcement:

“The theme for the day is ‘Our stories, our community, our responsibilities.’ The program, organized by a steering committee of students, staff, and faculty, will feature dialogue rather than just lecture, with discussions exploring a spectrum of topics from ideological diversity to nontraditional students.”

Claiming Williams has a very interestingly worded Mission Statement:

Mission Statement:
Claiming Williams invites the community to acknowledge and understand the uncomfortable reality that not all students, staff, and faculty can equally “claim” Williams. By challenging the effects of the College’s history of inequality that are based on privileges of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion, we will provoke individual, institutional, and cultural change.”

Writers of Mission Statements, may find the statement self-fulfilling because Read more


A Call to Serve

The Ephblog Board is looking for new members. When we re-configured in the fall we agreed that the new board would serve until February 1, at which point we would put out a call for interested Ephbloggers to join us as some of us cycle off.

Please contact me at derekcatsam *at* hotmail dot com if you are interested in serving. Ask not what Ephblog can do for you, ask what you can do to grasp power and the money and fame that will inevitably follow.


The First Annual Ephraims

We here at Ephblog are long overdue for an Ephblog awards ceremony.  Here are a few suggestions, but the floor is open for additional nominees and/or categories (leave them in the comments, or email me directly if you prefer).  Full list of nominees to be announced shortly and winners to be announced in conjunction with the Oscars.  Posts must have occurred (at least in part, in the case of a series) during calendar year 2010 to be eligible.  I will leave it to Dick Swart to create an “Ephraim” award statuette.  I also want to use the Ephraims as a way to popularize the “best of Ephblog” tag going forward, so I will add that tag to any post that receives at least one nomination, and one second.  In the future, feel free to note in post comments that you believe something is an Ephraim-worthy post, as it is difficult to remember the highlights from well over a thousand posts in any given year.  OK, here goes!

Most Missed Former Regular:

The nominees are Will Slack, JG, Ronit, Frank Uible, and Larry George.  (NB: Ronit and Will both still contribute posts on occasion, just not at the blog-carrying level they did once upon a time).

Craziest Dave K. Contribution of the Last Year:

The nominees are No African American Phi Betas, Sam Crane Obsession (over multiple posts, e.g.), Thesis-gate, Hating on Sheehy (multiple posts), Do Not Hire a Football Coach (or volleyball coach, or golf coach …), Falk Induction Speech Divination, Departure and Return Soap Opera

Most Entertaining / Humorous Blog on Ephplanet:

The nominees are Chan Lowe, Blake Schultz,  Jennifer Mattern, Brandi Brown, Seth Brown

Best Post Series:

The nominees are Photo IDs, Student Lens Series, Junior Anonymous, CGCL 2010, Eph BookshelfRephsearch (tough category — we had some great series in 2010!)

Best Analytical / Opinion / News Blog on Ephplanet:

Nominations are open.

Funniest Post (AKA, The Trump):

The nominees are How to Break Up With William’s College, further nominations are open.

Most Valuable Neph (awarded to a regular commentator with no direct connection to Williams / Williamstown):

The nominees are Midprof, Johnwesley, AC ’98, Keilexandra.

Most Newsbreaking / Informative Post:

The nominees are When Williams had a Medical School (a three part series), further nominations are open.

Rookie Ephblogger of the Year:

Congrats to Eric Soskin, the runaway winner.

Special Award in Technical Achievement:

Shared by Ronit and Ken (of course).

And now for the big categories …

Quote  / Comment of the Year:

Nominations are open.

Post of the Year:

The nominees are A Deafening Silence, Final Four Mega-Preview (forgive my self-indulgence here at including one of my own, but this one took awhile, alas half the links are now broken), Five Years Out (a three part post), Ephs Who Have Gone Before.  Further nominations are open.

And finally …

Special Lifetime Achievement Award for Self-Promotion:

Congrats to award-winning political scientist (and now, award-winning blogger) John C. Drew, Phd. on earning another award to endlessly promote!


Ephblog Readers Recommend …

When you purchase a book on Amazon or a song from Itunes, you are directed to a batch of recommended books and songs, respectively, purchased by like-minded consumers.  So I am curious to compile two things: first, a list of leading internet blogs / internet sites devoted primarily to higher education issues (in other words, the internet sites that share most in common with Ephblog), and second, a list of blogs / sites, more generally, that Ephblog readers regularly patronize.  After comments, I will post a list of both categories.

In the first category, certainly, the NYTimes The Choice blog qualifies.  Same goes for the Dartmouth, Middlebury, and Wesleyan blogs, the three blogs most similar to Ephblog.  Are there other higher education-focused blogs /websites that Ephblog readers enjoy?

My own favorite general blog / sites, other than Ephblog, include Talking Points Memo (political blog with a liberal slant), Huffington Post (liberal political blog that also covers entertainment and humor, among other topics), the Blue Screen (a NYGiants blog, so that won’t interest most readers I imagine), Bill Simmons on, and Prince of Petworth (that one is focused on neighborhoods in close proximity to me, and would not be of any interest to non-D.C. residents).  What blogs and pages are in the regular rotation for other Ephblog readers?

(Ed note: Illustration added for visual interest only. No endorsement of the product is made or intended. Readers are advised that weeping, hugging, and/or personal revelatory moments may occur. )


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.


How much of a drunk are you too? Two

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


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.


How much of a drunk are you, too?

Test your skill. Where is this location?


Spoken up …

(for some reason or other this phrase gives me a frisson accompanied by deja vu. Quel horrour!)

“Archive of comments from Speak Up. As usual, there is tons of great stuff here. Other authors are encouraged to turn these comments into posts in the main thread. No extra work required! Just copy and paste.” This is a quote from Dave Kane. I cannot verify the ease with which anything requiring a knowledge of the miracle of electricity can be accomplished.

Aha! Exactly as I feared. I am following a set of instructions sent to me by David. I find that I do not have sufficient clearance to access the necessary commands to transfer the comments from the present tense to the past tense. Now I am tense. Kane, if you are reading this: HELP!

I receive the same message once in a while on my very own computer. I find it terribly demeaning!


CGCL VII: Carter: Discussion (1)

Ed note: This is the conclusion of the discussion of the inaugural speech of President Carter, except for comments readers may wish to make. Please use ‘comments’ at the bottom of this piece below the fold 5:59am PST DS
Discussion (1):
Seeking Interpretations

Dean Swart has asked that I provide some editorial remarks.  Ask and you shall receive.

Now first– Dean Swart has also commented that he’s not sure that my interpretation of Carter,   would have been his.

To which my immediate thought is,  I’m not sure I’ve revealed any interpretation.   I hope not.  I distrust interpretation.  I’ve spend most of my life,  working in traditions,   which suggest that the only possible interpretation is something like interpretation against interpretation,   or interpretation that works against itself.

Oddly,  I think if you look closely,  you’ll see that Mr. Carter’s text,  may be caught up in this dynamic.  But of course I’m not sure.

Equally– in the sense of Satterthwaite’s voyages– just don’t look,  stare.  You might learn something.  So– stare hard at what Carter says.

All too often,  I think we have a tendency to a rather superficial and “vague” interpretation,   in which we skim over some material from a period distant in space and time,  apply our current understanding of things and terms,   and conveniently deceive ourselves that we’ve done something.

Not only is there no rigor in such an approach;  it’s also not all all clear to me,  that what happens in the many Colleges and Universities of the United States today,  even at the level of graduate studies,  and even at Williams College,  is much more that this exercise of writing our interpretive prejudices onto the text.

What I’m also saying is that this series,  as framed so far,  strikes me as rather superficial,   and rather pointless.  And that any serious study of Mr. Carter,  even a cursory one–  requires both a different format,  Ed note: break added at 9:18PM PST DS Read more


CGCL VII: Carter: (P,1) Selecting Professors

Passages, #1:

On Selecting Professors

Ed note: A second reading selection originally appearing as a separate post has been appended to this post for the readers convenience DS
Passages, #2:

Impending Secularization follows the first reading selection below the fold.

“It is just here that the difficulty of securing the right men for college professorships arises. This difficulty consists in the rareness of the perfect combination of head and heart, of the ardent scholar and the patient, helpful teacher. The university will select the most eminent in letters or science. It may generally with safety appoint professors according to this single principle. The university may suffer little from grotesqueness, moroseness, or narrowness of character in its professors, if it asks of them the instruction of but few pupils and no responsibility for their character– the college, will suffer immensely.
Read more


CGCL VII: Carter: Reading Questions (1)

Carter Induction Speech:  Reading Questions
Intro:  Nature of the College,  through ‘Hebrew Theodicy’ and back (pp. 1-15) [link to pdf]

* Note the use of the word ‘faculties’ around p (5)(ff) and in surrounding passages.  What are the meanings of this word in the text?   What do these meanings reveal,  about what a ‘Faculty’ is and what it does?

* On page (6),   Carter begins a discussion of individual liberty,   which will place the notion of liberty and freedom in society,   parallel to the liberties to be given students in choosing their studies,   and the nature of the College curriculum itself.   What is that argument like?   Does it make sense?
Carter also states:  ‘such a liberty may fall in with the spirit of the age which exhalts the individual and loosens the bonds of social organization’ (6).  What is the argument of this sentence?  What sort of world and issues,   is it commenting on– or trying to change?

*  Later Carter states:  ‘we should need… thirty years of experience… [and] of careful observation of the subsequent careers of the graduates’ to be able to adjust the curriculum and courses of instruction to current students’ particular needs (6).  Is this an argument for,  or against,  such adjustments?

* By the top of page (8),  Carter has gone though an encomium of sorts to the study of Latin and Greek thought,  which culminates in the claim that the principles of these peoples ‘which we see embodied in art’ ‘has “controlled civilized thought for three millennia.’  What are we,  today,  to make of this claim?
(Ditto for the rest of his paragraph.)

* By the end of this page (8),  in a rather odd formulation,   Carter “pauses,”  then calls for… what is it,  that Carter calls for?
++What is the function,  or purpose,   of this odd discursive gesture?    Is the “Hebrew theocracy” which Carter speaks of in the transitional paragraph,  the same think he was referring to in the previous paragraph,  or has a little shuffling of the card or ‘slippage’ occurred?

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