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Al-Zahrani not competent to stand trial

A graduate student accused of stabbing a Binghamton University professor to death in 2009 is not mentally competent to be tried for murder.

Instead, Abdulsalam al-Zahrani, 46, will be placed in the custody of a state psychiatric facility until he is deemed mentally competent to be tried, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Joann Rose Parry.

Broome County Judge Joseph F. Cawley Jr. signed the competency order this morning in court.

Al-Zahrani’s trial on one felony count of second-degree murder was to have begun with jury selection Tuesday morning. On Friday, however, the potential jurors were told not to report to court.

No new trial date has been set, Parry said Tuesday. The order was signed after a competency hearing and a determination by mental health professionals that al-Zahrani was mentally incompetent to understand the charge or be tried.

The graduate student’s behavior was described by other students to reporters as erratic in the days and weeks before Richard Antoun, a professor emeritus in BU’s anthropology department, was stabbed to death Dec. 4, 2009 in Science Building 1 on the BU campus.

Al-Zahrani has been in the Broome County Jail without bail since he was charged in Antoun’s murder on Dec. 5, 2009.

He’ll be transported to a state psychiatric hospital for treatment, as a result of the order. The order is good for up to year. Al-Zahrani will go on trial when he is deemed mentally competent, Parry said.

Press & Sun-Bulletin


Richard Antoun ’53

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The Changing World and America’s reaction

Living in the Purple Bubble makes it very easy to forget about what is going in the real world. I used to diligently read newspapers and magazines but at Williams, I’m pleased if I know what day it is.  The college does its part by having newspapers available to all of the students but with our workload and other obligations, many students just stop following the news and lose touch with what is going on in the world.

While I have an aggregation of news as my homepage which provides me with updates throughout the day of political and economic occurrences, having a Yahoo email account which displays Yahoo News when I log in allows me to keep tabs on how most of America views the world. The Yahoo homepage receives almost 38 billion page views a year in the US so what I read is what millions of Americans read. For that reason, I view Yahoo News as one of the most influential news sources in shaping America’s view of the world, especially as Yahoo’s news stories almost always interpret the news for the reader. Yahoo News does not do this with subtlety as earlier this week, “10 Signs The U.S. Is Losing Its Influence In The Western Hemisphere” came up on my screen when I logged into Yahoo Mail.

That article provided a list of comparisons between the US and other countries in the Western Hemisphere showing that America is no longer dominating every industry as Chile has increased copper production while Brazil is mining more iron than the US. The basic thrust of the article, countries only succeed at the expense of other countries, reminded me of the economic philosophy of Lester Thurow ’60 who wrote extensively about the fall of the US due to the rise of the USSR and when he was proven wrong, he switched to writing about how America will slip as Japan and Europe rise in stature.

It is very easy to write about how America is falling as one can find statistics to show that America is no longer dominated the world as it once did, but that does not mean America is in trouble. Reading about how the rest of the world is catching up to the US in terms of production should excite Americans as we can’t fall into the trap that Thurow is offering us. Countries benefit from trade and from the growth of other countries’ economies.  Being first in the production of beef, as America has since the turn of the 20th century does not translate to a better life for Americans, but having more beef to consume as Brazil has increased it production does. Economic development is not a zero sum game, we can all benefit from each other. Forgetting that is very dangerous as viewing other countries purely as competitors will lead to an end of cooperation and that is not a world that I would want to live in.

We should not join the hand wringers and we should stand against cries of America’s downfall. The world is rising to our level, we are not falling and that is a development we should celebrate. There will be more opportunities for economic growth in our future than even before as so many people have access to the necessary education and technology. That change will be accompanied by an increase of competition as we are no longer competing with other Americans and citizens of just a few other countries but the entire world.

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On Campus 2010


Thanks to Jo Procter for arranging that a copy (pdf) of On Campus 2010 be sent to EphBlog. There are lots of great articles here. I encourage other EphBlog authors to highlight some of this material in separate posts.

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Kingston

Jamaica Declares Emergency Amid Unrest

The Jamaican government declared a state of emergency in portions of Kingston, the capital, on Sunday after supporters of a gang leader who is wanted in the United States on gun and drug charges attacked three police stations in an attempt to pressure the government to let him remain free, officials said.

In the western Kingston neighborhood where the gang leader, Christopher Coke, is holed up, residents set up barricades and exchanged gunfire with the police. The Daily Gleaner reported that gunmen allied with Mr. Coke, who is commonly known as Dudus, were roaming the streets with high-powered rifles.

Amid growing unrest, the government met in an emergency session to try to keep the lawlessness from spinning out of control. The authorities, who said other gangs appeared to be coming to Mr. Coke’s aid, called on him to turn himself in for a hearing on extradition to the United States.

My thoughts are with the many Jamaican Ephs and their families.

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Outman ’08 wins heptathlon at Penn Relays

Last week, Maddy Outman ’08 won the heptathlon at the Penn Relays. That’s a really big deal. (The last Eph to win at Penn was Caroline Cretti ’06, who won the 10k there before winning the Div III 10k title at nationals a few weeks later.) The Penn Relays are the biggest track meet in the world outside of the Olympics, and are the major event of spring track besides the national championships. Outman is currently a graduate student at IUP.

Maddy Outman of Indiana (Pa.) won the 2010 Penn Relays heptathlon title with 5,182 points Wednesday afternoon at the University of Pennsylvania’s historic Franklin Field. In the heptathlon, Outman won all three track events and five of the seven events overall. Millersville’s Michele Frayne was the runner up with 4,764 points and Pascale Delisle of Sherbrooke was third with 4,330 points.

“But how good is that?” you ask. The Williams school record is 4,931 (achieved by Joyia Chadwick ’05, which won her the national title).

On day one, Outman was easily the fastest competitor in the 100-meter hurdles, earning 961 points with her finish of 14.12 and besting the rest of the field by more than a second. In the 200 meters, she outlasted Alexis Easterling of Coppin State to win with a time of 25.48 and gain another 843 points.

The hurdles performance beats Maddy’s Williams school record of 14.20.

On the second day of competition, Outman opened with a win in the long jump with a leap of 5.51 meters (18-01 ft.). Her 703 points in the event gave her full command of the competition. Frayne jumped into second-place as the runner-up with 671 points in the long jump, and as the victor in the javelin. Frayne’s best toss of 41.05 meters (134-08 ft.) garnered her 687 points. However, Outman solidified her win with an impressive 912 points in the 800 meters. Her time of 2:13.65 was more than 10 seconds better than the rest of the competition.

Just how fast is that, really? Well, look at the picture — she is far ahead of everyone else. For those keeping track, 2:13.65 is 13.4 miles per hour. Fast! (results)

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Cooking with Steven: 2nd season

In September 2009, we released the first episode of Cooking with Steven, a Chinese cooking show for college students. Now we have grown. The second season has been just released, with one new episode coming up every two weeks. Today our cooking show is not just a collection of videos. It is an integrated platform comprising a website, a Facebook page, blogs, food photos and recipes, aimed at bringing to college students–Williams and beyond–a culture for simply, healthy and economical Chinese food.

Episode 1 of Season 2 – Mapo Tofu

More episodes, blogs and photos are found at http://www.CookingWithSteven.com.

Cooking with Steven is a Chinese cooking show created by two Williams students: Steven Cheng ’10 (host) and Danny Y. Huang ’11 (director and producer). The second season is edited by Juan Baena ’06.

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Professor Pacelli’s “Zucchero Dolce”

Allow me to draw your attention to math professor Allison Pacelli’s baking blog, and her new business baking cakes and other pastries. She taught a winter study class on “The Art and Science of Baking,” and her students’ final projects are pictured below:

Warning: do not click on any of the following links if you are hungry.

Here are all the delicious things that her winter study class baked, with many photos of students in action. Oh, to be the roommate of a student in the class and “have to” help eat the products! The students apparently had to give a Power Point presentation of a step-by-step explanation of how to make their final project; for instance, how to make a French Buche de Noel.

Pacelli recently turned this into a business, Zucchero Dolce. Current Eph parents, take note: You can order care packages (such as cookies or birthday cakes) from Professor Pacelli, and have them freshly baked and delivered to your student! A Zucchero Dolce care package would be WAY better than the care packages that ACE sold to parents back in the day. I once ate cake baked by Professor Pacelli, and I can vouch for its deliciousness; highly recommended.

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New System for Book Purchasing

Full letter is below the fold, but here’s the gist on what may be a unique system in higher education:

  1. All students will be able to pay for books @ Water Street using their Williams ID, which will charge to their term bill.
  2. All students on financial aid will not be charged, for books or for course packets, I.E. no out-of-pocket expenses for books if you are on Financial Aid and buying from Water Street.
  3. This change is cost-neutral.

The committee has been working on this for a while now, and if the reaction of one parent (who somehow sent an e-mail to the entire student body) is indicative, it will be well received. No one on aid will choose a course based on book costs, no one will have to wait in a somewhat stigmatizing line during First Days, and Water Street Books will get a lot more business, since this doesn’t apply to Amazon.

Read more

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Tufts to Students: Cut That Out!

Enough was enough, apparently.  After receiving “a significant number of complaints last year from residents bothered by their roommates’ sexual behavior,” Tufts has banned dorm room canoodling when roomie is present.  The policy further states that “any sexual activity in the room should not interfere with a roommate’s privacy, study habits or sleep.”

It wouldn’t be a new regulation from a campus life organization if there weren’t some doublespeak involved, so here’s Office of Residential Life and Learning’s Carrie Ales-Rich on why this new policy really isn’t a policy at all:

The sex policy, Ales-Rich said, is intended as a tool to facilitate conversation and compromise between roommates, rather than simply proscribe behavior. Ales-Rich emphasized that ResLife hopes students will be able to resolve the issues on their own instead of allowing conflicts to reach a point at which the office has to intervene.

“We want to make perfectly clear that we do not want to hinder someone from engaging in any personal or private activity,” she said. “But when it becomes uncomfortable for the roommate, we want to have something in place that empowers the residents to have a good conversation with the roommate.”

Yes, because those conversations always go better when one sophomore can threaten the other. Also note that the Tufts administration apparently did not consult the student government or really any students before it made the change.

ResLife saw a need to take the lead in addressing the issue due to its sensitive nature, according to Ales-Rich. “We found in the past that when it comes to sexual activity in the room, students find it an uncomfortable topic to talk about,” she said.

In short, Tufts bureaucrats don’t think their kids have the capacity to talk about sex, so they unilaterally created a new set of rules, which won’t have to be enforced because kids will talk about sex amongst themselves.

No word yet on whether the new policy will cover ties on doorknobs, condom theft, or threesome remorse.

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Eph Tube

Have you seen the new Williams College channel on YouTube? Check it out. Very slick. First, note the total openness. The more people who can easily see videos from Williams, the better. Second, congratulations on the frugality. Instead of building our private collection of servers and organization (as those insular and technologically backward Lord Jeffs have done), we are just using someone else’s resources to deliver our content. A single student working part-time can maintain all this content and add new material as it becomes available. Third, many more viewers are likely to come across these videos on YouTube than they would if the content were buried deep within the archaic William website.

Oh, sorry. My mistake. That wasn’t the Williams College channel on YouTube. That was Amherst’s. (Hat tip to our friends at Amerst.com.)

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Spring Fling/Alumni Weekend/Deford Award

The Roots are playing tonight for Spring Fling, and many alums have just wrapped up a weekend at the College. The college trustees met and officially named Schapiro Hall in the course of their work. Other alumni groups also met, including a 10 year Choir reunion for Brad Wells.

Tomorrow, the Frank Deford award will be presented by 10-time Emmy Award winner Sam Flood of NBC Sports, who will then speak on producing sports television.

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Bascom Lodge (on Mt. Greylock) “Curator” Chosen

BEAT News, an online Berkshire environmental newsletter, reports that Bascom Lodge on the top of Mt. Greylock will be rehabilitated and reopened by The Bascom Lodge Group, comprised of Berkshire natives John Dudek, Peter Dudek, and Brad Parsons. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has chosen the group as the “curator” for the lodge under DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, pursuant to which curators agree to rehabilitate and reuse historic properties in exchange for a long-term lease.

The lodge has been closed for the last two seasons because of the summit road reconstruction project. The new curators hope to reopen it late this summer.

BEAT quotes the DCR Commissioner as saying, “The Bascom Lodge Group brings 25 years of experience in hospitality and restaurant management to this project. Members of the group plan to be on site, managing the property, hiring local craftsmen to do the restoration, even making breakfast pastries in the lodge.”

According to the article, The Bascom Lodge Group “plans to bring back the tradition of providing quality food, lodging, and services to park visitors….inspired by the lodge’s unique historical, architectural, and natural themes.”

They also plan to sponsor events and lectures on the natural and cultural history of the park and region, develop interpretive gardens and landscaping to highlight the summit’s vegetation, and collaborate with DCR staff on tours and programs.

The article further notes that “Bascom Lodge was built in the 1930s in the Arts and Crafts style. Approximately 150,000 people – a mix of tourists, hikers passing by along the Appalachian trail, local families, and day visitors – visit the lodge each season.”

I wish them well and very much hope that they can pull this off. The Greylock summit is a strange, unique, and often magical place.

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Next Question

Right at the 4-minute mark of an excellent stimulus discussion, Paul Krugman bats back an idiotic question from Mika Brzezinski ’89.


I’m not sure where Brzezinski “learned” that Larry Summers invented the concept of economic stimulus, but it certainly wasn’t Williams.

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Ephs in the White House

Thanks to Jeff for this latest and greatest from TPM:

“President Obama Announces Key Additions to the Office of the White House Counsel.”

Two Ephs, Jonathan Kravis99, and Shomik Dutta ’05, are among the appointees.

Jeff comments:

“Jon K. is a great guy who will be a tremendous asset to the White House. I don’t know the other dude but I imagine the same sentiment applies.”

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Destination Inauguration

 Thank you to ‘Anonymous’ for letting us know about the fun, on-the-scene coverage of the Inaugural festivities by Kim Fassler ’06.

Here’s a teaser below, but be sure and click on to the site. Fassler’s enjoyment is contagious and she has a lot of terrific photos. Great entertainment: Sheryl Crowe, Will.i.am, Garth Brooks, Bono, Beyonce…I truly wish I was there (with my fur-lined boots)!

Today was also something of a test-run for Tuesday. After standing outside for four or five hours today, I think I have some idea of how I’m supposed to dress to stay warm. Heading back to my apartment after the “We Are One” concert, my feet felt like blocks of ice. But it was the first time I had seen everyone in the city turn out at once. The sight of those thousands and thousands of people packed into the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument took my breath away.

Happy Birthday Dr. King! Considering the day, this historic occasion is especially poignant.

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Mika Brzezinski Hosts Queen Noor

Special thanks to regular commentator ‘Nuts’ for the latest from Mika Brezinski ’89:
(In ‘Nuts’ words)

Mika Brzezinski hosted a discussion on Morning Joe this week with Queen Noor and Richard Haass, Council of Foreign Relations about US policy with regard to the Israeli war on Gaza.

Queen Noor argued,

“There needs to be a new approach by the US that is more balanced that holds both sides accountable for their actions.”

Glenn Greenwald commented on the segment in his post “A real discussion on TV regarding U.S. policy towards Israel,”

The commentary from Jordan’s Queen Noor, in particular, is extremely insightful and articulate, virtually never heard (as the participants note) on American television, and underscores how unbalanced and incomplete is the debate most Americans hear concerning this issue of vital importance to American intersts (i.e.: virtually unquestioning American support for Israeli actions).

Watch the clips. Discuss among yourselves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bC9TZ97jpc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHDb1q3f2XY

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Miracle on the Hudson

Dan Drezner ’90 has some “not-so-big thoughts” on yesterday’s dramatic landing on the Hudson.

As well, today’s New York Times headlines reported all 155 aboard were safely rescued.

I was just on the phone with a friend of mine, who happens to be flying out tomorrow (destination, Inauguration), and she told me that though she has a good luck ritual of paying close attention to the before take-off safety speech, she had always considered it unnecessary to heed the part about the life vests, when on a flight that didn’t involve flying over large bodies of water. Suffice to say, she has changed her mind about that.

Anyway, it really was an amazing landing right in the middle of the Hudson River. “Ditching” is what they called it. 

My question? Considering how common a hazard the “conflict between birds and planes” can be, can’t someone come up with a way to keep them out of the engines? Some type of screen, perhaps?

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The News In Rap, by Seth Brown ’01

Who can open a live news feed and freestyle rap for 10 minutes or more on whatever comes up? Comedic genius Seth Brown ’01 of risingpun.com, that’s who. To listen to or subscribe to his immaculate flow of current events, check out http://risingpun.podomatic.com/ Seriously, it’s amazingly good, and since it comes out near the end of each week you can make it part of your Friday “drive at five.”
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Growth of college tuition quadruples Consumer Price Index

Growth rate of tuition vs. other expenses, over 15 years

Growth rate of tuition vs. other expenses, over 15 years

Today’s Washington Post has a report on growth in college tuition with a nice graphic, something we all at least vaguely know. Highlights include:

Researchers said the percentage of an average family’s income needed to pay for a public four-year college has risen from 20 to 28 percent, after financial aid. For community colleges, the burden has risen from nearly 20 percent to nearly 25 percent.

Borrowing for college has also doubles. And while the U.S. is second only to Canada in per capita advanced degrees in the working age population, we are tenth in the world for degrees among those aged 25-34.

I don’t know if the stats only include public schools but all the commentary seems to. Obviously Williams pricing works differently.

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Other Endowments Suffer

In a news blurb, the daily online version of The Chronicle of Higher Education reports estimates of endowment losses, both from state systems: “The value of the University of Virginia’s endowment fell by about $600 million, or 11 percent, in the fiscal quarter that ended September 30, and had dropped by an additional $600 million, or 20 percent, in the first half of October, The Cavalier Daily and The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The newspaper accounts, citing a report by the University of Virginia Investment Management Company, said that the decline in the quarter ended September 30 was the biggest ever in actual dollars, and matched in percentage only by drops in 1990 and 1987. The Daily Texan reported that the combined investments of the University of Texas System had dropped by $1.6 billion in the month of September alone.”

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Nancy Roseman finalist for Principal of Phillips Exeter

The Principal Search Committee at Phillips Exeter Academy has narrowed their choices down to finalists, and Nancy Roseman, Dean at Williams, is one of them.

Unfortunately, the school paper is not online, so I have not read the article announcing this, nor can I link to it for you. However, I have recently been asked by students and teachers at Exeter: Do you think Nancy Roseman would make a good principal for our school? I have no idea, since I had only one (negative) interaction with her. Those of you who know more about her, what do you think?

To aid you in your evaluative metric, note that students at Exeter want a principal who will be visible around campus and who will try to get to know them (1,000 students). The most important job of the principal for the school is traveling around and shmoozing with alums to raise money. Exeter’s 13th principal has done a great job of this, and now Exeter is free for families making under $75,000. How do you think Nancy Roseman would be at this job?

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Students for Williams in New York

This year has seen activity from “SWNY,” or Students for Williams in New York, after the recommendation to shut the program down or restructure from last spring.

The new group released a report on September 29th on the program that can be seen here. Be sure to look at the supporting documents as well, especially the appraisals and student work, which I can’t link directly to.

I had held off on this because the report requires a password. However, now that the Record has published it (as well as a Daily Message), I release it to all: robertmoses. If a SWNY member has a problem with publishing this (and I’ve checked with a few), e-mail me at wls1 to take it down, but I think they’ve gone completely public.

Enjoy; it’s worth a look.

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What Will Happen to Bascom Lodge, Up On Greylock

The Globe is reporting that Bascom Lodge on the summit of Mt. Greylock is among a number of State-owned properties that Massachusetts is putting out for long-term lease in exchange for upkeep commitments. Bascom, which offered hikers (and those who drove up) hostel-style lodging and meals, has been closed during the two-year repair (rebuilding?) of the Greylock summit road. Other properties profiled in the Globe article seem to be in terrible shape, but Bascom had seemed to me to be in decent shape when I was up there several years ago – of course, it would quickly deteriorate while not used. I hope someone will step forward to reopen it.

Does anyone know anything about this?

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College Sustainability: Williams Gets a B+ (Amherst Too)

The Boston Globe has published an article entitled, “Harvard, Dartmouth, UNH earn high ‘green’ marks,” in which it goes over the College Sustainability Report Card, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute in Cambridge, MA. Williams received a B+, as did Amherst. Ratings probably of interest to Ephblog readers:

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Pasachoff/Babcock to Siberia

A Williams group is headed to Siberia to view a solar eclipse.

Scientists Jay Pasachoff and Bryce Babcock of Williams College are leading an expedition to Siberia so as to station themselves and their equipment in the path of totality (the phase of an eclipse when it is total), which is only hundreds of miles wide in spite of being thousands of miles long.

Leaving Williamstown on July 21, they flew 1,750 miles east to Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia. Their observing site will be in collaboration with Dr. Allya Nestorenko of the State University of Novosibirsk and Dr. Igor Nestorenko of the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics.

Williams students Katherine Dupree ’10 and Marcus Freeman ’10 are also traveling, and the release includes contact information if the press (or possible anyone?) is interested in getting more information from Pasachoff.

Other coverage here.

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Weeping

An Eph was the “star” of the All Star game last night.

An emotional George Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner, delivered four baseballs to the mound as part of the pregame ceremonies. It was Steinbrenner’s first visit to the Stadium this season.

After the All-Star teams and 49 Hall of Famers were introduced, a golf cart carrying Steinbrenner appeared along the warning track. Steinbrenner was weeping as he was driven to the mound. He received a polite ovation.

When the cart pulled on to the field, Steinbrenner gave the baseballs to Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage, the four Yankee Hall of Famers who were on the field. Ford and Berra kissed Steinbrenner and Jackson and Gossage hugged him.

Since Steinbrenner’s health has eroded in recent years, he has not been as much of a presence, physically or vocally, around the Yankees. Steinbrenner, who turned 78 on July 4, has owned the team since 1973. Rodriguez said the Stadium and Steinbrenner were “the two biggest stars” of the game.

Steinbrenner is class of 1952.

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Lindsay Payne ’06 swims in Olympic Trials final tonight

As I was watching the swimming Olympic Trials last night, who should appear on the screen but Lindsay Payne! Payne won the 100 breaststroke in the NCAA Division III nationals all four years, and racked up many wins. I know her from a winter study photography class; here are her photos.

In the 100 breaststroke semifinals at the Trials, she tied for 8th with another swimmer (Jessica Botzum), so to determine which of them would make the final, the two swimmers had a match race last night — just two swimmers in the pool, with 14,500 spectators. It was very exciting to watch! Payne started out with a small lead, then at the flip turn they were tied, then Botzum pulled ahead a bit, and in the last stroke it was so even that they touched at the same time. The touch showed that Payne beat Botzum by 0.02 seconds.

Payne will compete tonight in the final (start list – PDF). It will be televised tonight from 8 pm – 9 pm eastern time on channel USA. She will be in lane 8. Y’all come watch now!

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Ugly Buildings for Obama

In my regular truckload of political news yesterday and today, I noticed a little gem about Williams’ regular contributor and building namesake Edgar Bronfman, Sr. (of Seagram’s fame).  Well, technically I think the building is named after the whole Bronfman family, many of whom contributed to the building, but still…Edgar was the initial Williams connection so far as I know.

Former World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman headlines a group of prominent Jewish leaders from New York who are signing on to support the Barack Obama campaign.

The Obama Jewish Leadership Council of Metro New York plans to meet next Tuesday. Other participants include Merryl Tisch, Howard Milstein, Penny Pritzker, Tom and Andi Bernstein and New York Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Steve Israel.

(Another piece from Politico on the same fundraiser)  There are some very interesting names on that list, but Bronfman obviously stood out.  I am still impressed that he and the family donated for a building – and later many other things – when he didn’t actually graduate from Williams (would have been class of ’50, got his bachelor’s from McGill in ’51).  We gave him an honorary degree in 1986 though, and a Bicentennial Medal in 2005.  Funny, the honorary degree isn’t indicated in his entry in the online Alumni Directory.  The announcement re: the Medal also is cagey about his graduating or not, saying only that he was “a member of the class of 1950″ but the other entries state “after graduation from Williams in 19XX.”  Subsequent to the family giving $1.25 million of the $3.9 million needed for the building (bit of history here with fabulous ’60s pictures), several other members of the Bronfman family also went to Williams (Samuel II ’75 and Matthew ’81 – sons of Edgar, and Stephen ’86 – nephew of Edgar, son of Charles who actually spearheaded the family fundraising for the building).  There is also a Fiona Wood ’81 that comes up when you search the directory…hard to track all the family members so I assume she fits in there somehow.  Google can only give you so much info.  Bronfman also gave $5 million in 2003 for scholarships “to help extend need-blind admission to all international applicants” which should make David proud.  He also gave money toward the building of the Jewish Religious Center.

I wonder if this means that Obama will get an ugly, overly concrete building for his campaign HQ now?  I know there are those out there who sing the praise of strange ’60s and ’70s concrete & brick architecture like that of Bronfman (seen around campus in Greylock, Sawyer library, Prospect), but I have always found the interiors of such buildings cold, the sound quality terrible, and the weird odor from the concrete during warm humid days somewhat disconcerting. 

Let me be clear that I fully applaud the ideals of a unified science center, and I appreciate how much space it provides.  It allowed advances in science at Williams in a very real way (read the above link with the fun pictures).  But starting out as a math major and spending much of my first two years in there and also spending many long nights there in my later years as a tutor with the Math/Science Resource Center, I grew to detest its cramped classrooms, often dim interior, and weird echoes.  Perhaps I am alone in thinking this…and at least it doesn’t have the bizarre waffle ceilings like Greylock, but it’s not my favorite bit of Williams.  I personally think it’s one of the examples of technically “great architecture” without thinking about people enjoying of the use of the building.  I’m sure those who disagree with me will freely comment below.  My opinion may also be biased by spending much time of late in the large number of similarly styled government buildings in and around DC.  It just seems weird to me that if you accidently brush a wall on the INSIDE of a building, you could skin your knuckles.

I should point out that the Jewish Religious Center is a truly gorgeous building – inside and out – that is functional, filled with light, and beautiful.  So I guess Bronfman’s involvement doesn’t actually require an ugly building…this just gave me a fun hook to tie a few different comments about Williams together ;)

Anyhow, viva la generous rich alums!  I’m sure this bit of fundraising will lead to all kinds of interesting commentary in the MSM, especially with some of these folks’ former support of Clinton and the fact that Bernstein is a former classmate and supporter of George W.  Too bad most bios of Bronfman don’t mention Williams at all…maybe some will now link to this little item?

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Purple Pub Update

Thought folks might be interested in another chapter in the Purple Pub story. Mary now thinks it will be open again for this fall!

This article from the April 9th Record provides some more details. I love how they highlight Mary’s connection with the students at the end. This is why the Pub has never been just another bar, but a part of the Williams community.

The Purple Pub will return to Spring Street at the end of the summer behind the George Hopkins building, according to the Pub’s owner, Mary Michel. While hoping to bring “a lot of the old pub into the new pub,” she is excited about the Pub’s new location, noting that it will “look out onto Spring Street for the first time.”
. . .
The new pub was originally going to have two floors but will now have only one, as the upper floor of the new building will house offices instead.
. . .
Michel has been working at a small home-based retail business, and also took on a job at Whitmans’ this February, where she hopes to continue working even after the Pub reopens. Out of all the difficulties due to the Pub’s closure, Michel said that the largest is “the time lost with the students,” which contributed to her motivation to work on campus.

Once the Pub reopens, Michel is hoping to regain support in the community. She has remained in touch with her staff, all of whom intend to resume working at the Pub. She also plans to serve dinner at the new Pub. Though the relocating and rebuilding may have taken longer than expected, Michel said she hopes the saying “when you build it, they will come” will hold true and that the Pub will once again become an important part of Spring Street.

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Gates scholars

The Gates Scholarships are basically the equivalent of a Marshall Scholarship or a Rhodes Scholarship — kind of a big deal. They are less well known, because they are newer, but they are funded by the Gates Foundation to send students to Cambridge. The purpose is to:

award scholarships on the basis of a person’s intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others.

This year, Williams has two Gates Scholars from the 2008 competition, who will be studying at Cambridge for 2008-2009: Shannon Chiu and Shawn Powers. Their profiles, with pictures and a paragraph in which they describe their background and goals, are linked from their names.

Close readers will also notice Michael Duyzend, brother of Williams valedictorian Marcus Duyzend ’06. The full list, which includes one of my friends from high school (and maybe some of yours?), is here.

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