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This seems like a great idea.

TEDxWilliamsCollege: Ideas worth spreading This fall, Williams will be hosting its first annual TEDxWilliamsCollege conference, gathering together students, professors and community members who view their intellectual pursuits as extensions of their personal interests.

Good stuff. Kudos to all those involved. It is especially nice to see the involvement (re-creation?) of the Adelphic Union in this context. Can anyone provide further information? And, obviously, I would be a great speaker at this event . . . :-)

UPDATE: Thanks to a Middlebury reader for pointing to TedxMiddlebury. And, needless to say, TED is safely in the category Stuff Williams People Like.

One of the easiest ways to create something that white people will like is to create something that will allow them to feel smart but doesn’t require a large amount of work, time, or effort. There is, however, a catch. Whatever it is that you create cannot be a shortcut. You see white people like the idea of getting smarter quickly, but they don’t like the idea of people thinking that they are lazy. It is a bit of a paradox, but it does explain why white people only like Cliff Notes if they are part of some sort of hilarious college story about last-minute studying for an exam. And why they consider it highly unacceptable to use cliff notes or Wikipedia to get a rough understanding of a book you don’t want to read.

Unfortunately being able to create something that makes you feel smarter without having to do a lot of work has been very difficult. So only a few ideas have ever gained traction with white people, the most notable of which being documentary films and public radio. However, in the past decade a new item has been added to this very short list-TED Talks.

The TED Conference is an invite-only affair that brings together the smartest minds from around the world to share their knowledge and wisdom with the attendees. Additionally all of the talks are made available online and as podcasts so that white people are able to watch or listen to them at work or during their commute.

These talks are like college lectures, except that they are free to listen, shorter, and white people aren’t hung over and pretending to listen.

Not that there is anything wrong with that!


Naming Conventions

This fun WSO thread on heating included comments from Christophe Dorsey-Guillaumin and Sydney Pitts-Adeyinka. What happens if Christophe marries Sydney? Can we expect to see an Emily Pitts-Adeyinka-Dorsey-Guillaumin in the class of 2041? Or would that be Emily Dorsey-Guillaumin-Pitts-Adeyinka?

Now, obviously, Christophe and Sydney are no more responsible for their names than I am for mine. My point here is not to mock them, or even to mock their parents. I am really curious about the sociology behind hyphenated last names (surely this would make a great entry for Stuff Williams People Like) and the likely future evolution of the trend. What happens when such Ephs get married? I am honestly curious. And, yes, this is Stuff Williams People Like.

And, just to burnish my own progressive credentials, I can honestly claim to be one of the first male Ephs to seriously propose taking his bride’s maiden name in marriage. Captain Fang would have been a kick-ass title in the Marine Corps . . .


On a Lighter Note …

Williams receives a less-than-flattering shout out in the disturbingly accurate blog, Stuff White People Like:

If you are good at concealing laughter and contempt, you should ask a white person about “Real Hip Hop.”  They will quickly tell you about how they don’t listen to “Commercial Hip Hop” (aka music that black people actually enjoy), and that they much prefer “Classic Hip Hop.”

“I don’t listen to that commercial stuff. I’m more into the Real Hip Hop, you know?  KRS One, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, De La Soul, Wu Tang, you know, The Old School.”

Calling this style of music ‘old school’ is considered an especially apt name since the majority of people who listen to it did so while attending old schools such as Dartmouth, Bard, and Williams College.

I immediately thought back to my frosh year, when I had the good fortune of watching a Williams crowd try to get down to Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.  I was working the lights and plugged in to the bands’ communication system.  It was enormously entertaining to hear their, ummm, frustration with the crowd’s fluency, or lack thereof, with their music.  If memory serves, it was Tribe who eventually castigated the crowd and may even have walked off the stage.  (Even more entertaining was one of the band members’ repeated attempts to direct the spotlights on certain well endowed female members of the audience).


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