May 28, 2007

Barack Obama Is A Rockstar

As the event ran yet later and later, the sun beat down on an increasingly restless crowd, and still, no sign of Obama. The crowd had endured the strange choice of location (off the side of the Rocky overhang), being herded together with the usual masses of geriatric townies, the searing heat, and a few rounds of live easy-listening music. Finally, a respite. The Aires took the stage. As every delightfully un-instrumented melody drew to a close, one could see the crowd tensely anticipate what might follow. "What? Are they going to stop singing? No! I don't want politics. I came here to listen to a capella!" Soon, it was obvious Obama would be upstaged before even making an appearance.
Seriously, even for those of us that might still have a soft spot in our hearts for a capella (and after three years of college, I don't), there is a time and a place for it, and this was not it. Perhaps they were just stalling for time, but about an hour deep into listening to the Aires, even the toddlers around me looked bored.

Still, if the College Democrats were trying to prove that Obama is a rockstar, they did it. Though the crowd dwindled a bit during the sing-a-thon, an impressive number stuck it out to hear the man. Freshman Congressman Paul Hodes stepped up to reinvigorate the crowd and introduce Barry, who was in full form. Obama did what he does best, saying very little, yet somehow being inspiring. Obama spoke largely in platitudes, but without sounding like a politician. Though he may not have touched on anything more controversial than Hillary has in weeks past, he left the audience with the impression of a no-nonsense, above-the-fray, charismatic leader. In the months leading up to the primary, we'll get our fair share of political celebrity facetime, but I doubt any candidate can come close to matching Obama's appeal. I guess we'll find out next time the spectacle rolls into town. Until then, back to the library with me.

May 16, 2007

Student Governance Task Force

So I'm a little late on the uptake, but yesterday, the Student Government Review Task Force issued its recommendations. The full version was blitzed out to campus, and if it becomes available online, I'll update with a link. In the meantime, DartWire has a pretty comprehensive guide to look at, and Dave Nachman '10 chimes in on his new SuperDartmouth blog.

While Nachman pines for the radical Shpeen-revolution that never was, the strength of this report actually lies in its painfully boring pragmatism and attention to bureaucratic nuance. It calls for streamlining and coordinating funding allocation, changing voting and candidacy requirements, instituting campus referenda, direct election of certain committee chairs, and an overall reorganization and redistribution of responsibilities and committee structure. In it's most ambitious proposal, instead of pushing for a young trustee (an unsuccesful campaign of numerous SAs past), they advocate a formal liason and gradual re-evaluation and, ideally, expansion of the significance of this role.

Of course, it's still SA, and so painstaking research doesn't always equate to reasonable expectations. The centralized online calendar thing has been tried before, and though making funding contingent on its use could force groups to post, it's not going to make campus use the thing. The plan to "Advertise happenings every fortnight in The Dartmouth and send out campus update blitzes every full moon," besides being absolutely bizarrely phrased, gets to the point. SA, as I have opined, is at its best when dealing with campuswide minor issues. For SA to fulfill this purpose more efficiently and visibly might decrease our collective disdain for the organization, but its pretty unlikely to stir up more interest.

So, once again, no revolution will appear to save the day and shake us all from the terrible apathy in which we disregard the great things SA has done for us. Still, while it's hardly inspiring, we probably will all benefit from an SA that is more introspective, realistic, and marginally more efficient each year.

On Sleep Deprivation

I apologize for the brief hiatus here on LGB. Seal, unfortunately, has insisted on finishing his thesis, and with the whole graduation thing coming up, he's got all these plans to move on to bigger and better things. As for myself, eh, I've had a couple of late nights getting work done. It's the sort of thing that can really take the wind out of one's blogging sails. Sleep deprivation is nothing new to most of us, however, and we're all familiar enough with the resulting haze and delirium to avoid such situations whenever possible.

Tony Wright, apparently a sleep researcher of some kind, lacks our aversion to the masochistic. He is currently attempting to break the world record for sleep deprivation. He's got a website and, if you can get it to work, even a webcam. Wright is trying to best the record of Randy Gardner, who, in 1964, at the age of 17, stayed awake for 264 hours, or 11 days. Gardner was himself trying to beat an earlier record, Peter Tripp's 8 day session in 1959. (In an aside maybe yet more familiar to some of our readers, Tripp's 'wakeathon' was apparently entirely fueled by Ritalin, and ended in psychotic hallucinations and paranoid delusions).

Anyway, consider the hiatus over, and good luck in all your insomniac endeavors.

May 8, 2007

SA Elections: Travis Green Wins

Travis Green will be Student Body President, with his "running mate" Ian Tapu serving as Vice President. The full results, in somewhat messy form (all 12 "rounds" of runoff), can be found here.
Overall, Nova had a far stronger showing and broader appeal than I think many expected, coming in second place, benefiting about as much as Green from Carlos being eliminated, and being the largest beneficiary of Raj's elimination. For VP, Tapu pretty much dominated off the bat.

Also worth noting, three people writing in our beloved DFP chief Travis Mushett for '08 SA Class Rep was enough to get him elected. Thanks, whoever the other two of you are, Travis is thrilled to serve alongside his fellow luminaries. My consolations to Carlos for not getting the spot, despite having the same exact number of votes.

So, another year, another SA. Let us all rejoice.
(More election results in the comments section).

May 7, 2007

New Dartmouth Group Blog

Three '10s have started a group blog called Dartwire. I know one of them, Adi, and have been impressed by his measured writing and eagerness to look at things squarely. I imagine (and hope) his friends are similarly minded.

Click on over to check them out.

May 6, 2007

The DFP Isn't Much Better at Endorsements

I kid, I kid. There's a difference between lacking the chutzpah to brave political controversy and acknowledging the relatively inconsequential nature of an election. Or maybe The D was on the right track the first time, choosing not to endorse someone over choosing someone thoroughly unqualified and incapable just for the sake of endorsing someone. Or maybe this is all self-serving justification. But you all know I'd never speak poorly of the DFP, and so with that, I present this year's DFP Student Assembly Elections Issue, and the Editorial Board's (non)endorsement.

May 4, 2007

The D Sucks at Endorsements

After a weak and equivocating failure to endorse anyone in the Trustee race, The D editorial board summoned up its consensus-building powers (political fallout be damned, because SA matters!) to make a laughably idiotic suggestion: Voting for Jaromy Siporen.

Clearly swayed by the polished rhetoric of a candidate who advocates massive, radical change, but lacks a plan more substantive than the restoration of crosswalks, The D wants you to vote for Siporen. Or maybe The D is just incensed by the consumer-gouging injustice of Sunja's sushi monopoly. In hopes of restoring a competitive free-market in locally produced, northern New England mock-Japanese food, they are willing to endorse someone who is the (maybe 2nd) least serious and (by a hair) the most toolish candidate in a crowded field of sub-par options.

One might inquire, "Why do this?" Having made their distaste for Carlos evident (the editorial is as much an anti-endorsement of Carlos as it is an endorsement of J. Sip), the D was still left with a few respectable options. But passing up Travis Green as too SA status-quo in favor of Siporen, the defender of inane rules and arcane practice (he was SA Parliamentarian for three years), would suggest this isn't really about who The D thinks is best. For reasons completely beyond me, Siporen has managed to play well with the freshman crowd, and sadly does have a reasonable shot at winning, especially when one considers that Raj and Nova will be splitting votes out of the same demographic. (Can you actually split votes in IRV?) Failing a convincing rationale to endorse anyone, The D just wants to bet on a winning horse.

Well, way to make a well-reasoned decision guys. As SA continues to become yet more of an irrelevant joke, you can all be comforted in knowing that The D gets to march down that road right alongside its candidate.

May 3, 2007

Old White Men Love Reagan, Fetuses

In tonight's GOP debates, the ten candidates waxed patriotic about the state of our union. Ronald Reagan was mentioned 16 times, strict constructionism was applauded, and Roe v. Wade was derided. With the notable exception of Rudy Giuliani, the candidates were unanimous in their condemnation of the landmark 1973 abortion ruling.

Some quotes from tonight's debate:

McCain: I Think The War Is "On The Right Track"...

Huckabee: I Would Have Fired Rumsfeld "Before The Election"...

Giuliani: A Nuclear Iran "Is The Worst Nightmare Of The Cold War, Isn't It?"...

Romney: Bin Laden Is Going To Pay And "He Will Die"...

McCain: I'll Follow Bin Laden "To The Gates Of Hell"...

Brownback: Banning Roe v. Wade Would Be A "Glorious Day Of Human Liberty And Freedom"..."The Life Issue Is What Separates Us From Islamic Fascists...

Tancredo: "Karl Rove Would Certainly Not Be In The White House
That I Inhabited"...

Thompson: "Several Thousand" Injured In Iraq...

Romney: Fitzgerald Was "Outrageous" For Going After Scooter

Farewell Pending

I've realized that I have about two weeks left before my thesis is due. After that, I won't want to do anything. I definitely won't want to blog, and for the next two weeks I almost assuredly won't be blogging (or shouldn't, at least, if I want to get my thesis done). And I hope you all will ridicule me if I blog here after I've graduated.

So that leaves me sort of saying goodbye. I may post intermittently over the next few weeks if something strange or terrible happens, but I hope I'm pretty much done. There will definitely still be posts coming from the others, of course; Niral and the other 08s will see to that.

Thanks for reading.

April 30, 2007

SA Race

For President (the all important facebook group tally—as of Monday morning Tuesday night—in parentheses):
Molly Bode (None, might withdraw)
Travis Green (52, although technically it's a group supporting both Green and Tapu) (84)
Raj Koganti (17) (111)
Carlos Mejia (33) (42)
Nova Robinson (No facebook group) (42)
Jaromy Siporen (68) (78)

For Vice:
Nathan Bruschi '10
(31) (including all my favorite freshmen ("Future Senator from NY" David Imamura, "Future Dartmouth Trustee" Peter Matthews, and "Only D Columnist everyone reads" Zach Gottlieb) (37)
David Nachman (41) (52)
Ian Tapu (116) (136)

Carlos Travis/Ian win the word count award, but only by a couple over Jaromy, at 465 handily, with 729, blowing Carlos and Jaromy away. Jaromy, however, has the most planks, including but not limited to:
• Get the crosswalk from the Green to the Hopkins Center back (between both intersections).
• Eliminate Sunja’s Monopoly on sushi.
• Dining Options for Athletes – Spending $20 on Dinner is Unacceptable for our athletes.

Because students really pay attention to crosswalks any way. And those Sunja people are evil. And athletes are really the only people who deserve cheaper meals.

Thoughts? Gossip?

April 27, 2007

Programming Board: The Future of Out-of-Touch Parenting

This op-ed from a Programming Boarder amused me. Trying to justify the execrable choice of Third Eye Blind to the campus, he blathers:
Our apologies if you’d love to see Dave Matthews come to Dartmouth, but chances are he’s not even considering the college scene, and if he were, he would charge a few hundred thousand, minimum... Prefer Weezer over Third Eye Blind? Sorry, Weezer isn’t touring right now... The University of Vermont is having Ok Go come for a concert; some people said they’d rather have them instead of Third Eye Blind. But Ok Go wasn’t available on May 6 — they were already booked at UMass-Amherst by the time we knew our schedule... PB doesn’t operate in a bubble. It’s our job to offer events that reflect the desires of the student body, and in this case, Dartmouth decided that they wanted Third Eye Blind, winning with 5646 points — 639 points ahead of the runner up, Hot Hot Heat. Dartmouth spoke and PB listened — so we booked Third Eye Blind.
Dave Matthews, Weezer, OK Go, Hot Hot Heat. Geezus.

The problem isn't that Programming Board is restricted by the cost of bands or touring schedules or the Athletics Department hogging the facilities. It's that they have no fucking idea what a good musical act is, what's even remotely current, or how old their audience is.

In my time here, PB has brought us (as far as I can remember) O.A.R., Maroon 5, Dashboard Confessional, Vanessa Carlton, The Roots, Talib Kweli, and now Third Eye Blind. Talib was a good choice and The Roots an okay choice, but then again, PB probably was just like, "well, we need a black act... who's touring?" PB was saved by the simple fact that there aren't any black artists who are bad as the white artists PB picks. Seriously. Even Black-Eyed Peas (oh wait, didn't they play here too?) aren't anywhere near the level of complete intolerability that Vanessa Carlton reaches with every fucking song.

Programming Board's excuses fall apart when you consider the successes of FNR. I realize that the bands FNR selects (especially in the past year) don't appeal to much more than a smallish subset of campus. But the point is, they consistently book bands that make them fucking giddy with joy, they have a great fucking time doing it, and they manage to do it with Programming Board's money.

April 26, 2007

Dennis Kucinich

7:44 PM Kucinich, impoverished vegan, has had a gun in his household in his adult life?!

Liveblogging the Debate (i'm sitting right next to Niral)

7:22 - Hillary on the whims of a market economy: "I represent a big state with a lot of poor people."

7:24 - Chris Dodd: "There aren't qualified people running for public office."
Democratic primary voters: "who is Chris Dodd?"

7:29 - Apparently someone named Mike Gravel is running for president....He's a former senator whose loud voice is matched only by his excessive gesticulation.

7:37 - Dodd "does not regret" his vote to confirm chief justice John Roberts, but rather, he's "disappointed" that a Republican nominee would vote against a woman's right to choose. Shocking!

7:41 - Richardson is the NRA's favorite Democrat. He's "a westerner," where the second amendment is "precious." He supports guns, but not those who use them irresponsibly (i.e. by murdering people).

7:51 - Gravel compares himself to a potted plant. He wilts in the shade and loves loud music.

7:52 - When asked about his biggest mistake, he Joe Biden responded, "overestimating this administration's confidence and underestimating its arrogance." With this, Biden shows that he's an able politician after all. I could have sworn he was going bring up the whole articulate black man fiasco.

7:57 - Someone named Augie in South Carolina asks Sen. Edwards a question via email. Edwards responds that his father worked in a mill.

8:01 - As indicated above, I'm sitting right next to Niral. We're going to get food. Hunger before politics. But as far as politics goes, it has got to be Obama.

Liveblogging the Debate

7:17 – Hillary responds by saying “I think Barack is absolutely right.” Barack, eh? She's hellbent on playing up her experience these days, I guess not acknowledging that Barack is her equal, a fellow Senator, she can pull the focus off the fact that her experience led to her to vote for the war?

7:20 – John Edwards has a fancy haircut. He’s also the son of a millworker. Let the enlightening discourse continue.

7:25 - Bill Richardson: "I think the American people want candor, they don't want blow-dried candidates." This is a clear shot at John Edwards, unless Richardson is refering to his own staff having to wean him off the womanizing.

7:28 - Kucinich is talking. The man can speak nothing but truth.

7:29 - "I am Mike Gravel. I am a crazy, crazy, old man. Nuclear Devices, NUCLEAR DEVICES!"
Actually, dude just called everyone out on their gradual withdrawal Iraq whatnot.

7:45 - Edwards calls out Brian Williams for not focusing on actual, substantive issues. When asked about health care, goes on to talk about how he's the only one with a plan, and how important plans are.

8:00 - I'm hungry and I've mostly stopped caring. Since nobody really pays attention to the actual issues anyway, I hope everyone's realized that, if they had to pick a face, a voice, and a demeanor to speak to them from the White House, it would be Obama.

8:19 - Scratch that. Kucinich and Gravel co-president charismatic powerteam. There's no losing.


Its only fair that, since I got an introduction when I signed on here, Mr. Cohen gets one as well. Morgan is an '08, best described as a double major in Government, though he does dabble a bit in Film, among other disciplines. I highly recommend checking out some of Morgan's writing over at the DFP, especially his recent piece on The "New" SDS. Of course, you could just check out Facebook, but that would be far too easy.
Morgan is known for his impassioned argumentation, and on a perhaps not completely unrelated note, a notorious incident in which a disgruntled neo-con threw a punch at him in the middle of class. Good times, those. So, welcome to our newest poster, Morgan.

McCain Calls for Gonzales to Resign

Mike Allen of The Politico reports that Republican presidential candidate John McCain has called on recently amnesiac Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. “Out of loyalty to the president, he should obviously step down,” McCain said. “He’s not serving the president well. I reached that conclusion a long time ago. I just haven’t been asked.”

With a number of high profile Republicans lined up against Gonzales, his days appear numbered. The question is, will Bush continue to ignore political reality and stand by his old friend? Either way, it's win-win for the Democrats. If Bush stands his ground, he will be seen, once more, as privileging personal allegiance above - hmmm, what's the word I'm looking for here? - competence. If he bends to the rules of rationality (never really a safe bet with this man) and gives old Al the boot, the Democrats will have a nice long confirmation hearing with which they can berate the administration's justice dept. policies in front of an attentive national media.

April 25, 2007 Sucks

The new, flashier website was a bit nicer looking, but far less functional. Now it's apparently non-functioning. Also, whoever's responsible for this redesign fiasco apparently prefers British spelling.
Anyone at The D want to shed some light on how this all went so horribly wrong?

April 24, 2007

Sylvia Spears and Hiring at Dartmouth

Joe Malchow posted an intriguing (if also slightly self-important) report on the hiring of Sylvia Spears as the next head of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership yesterday.

Or rather, I should say the prospective hiring—Joe emphasizes that Dartmouth hasn't officially announced Spears as the new OPAL dean, rendering her status somewhat mysterious, or at least Joe thinks it does. I find Joe's speculations duplicitous—that Dartmouth is "squelch[ing]" reportage of her appointment because it a) is "embarrassed to have played into the hand of petition Trustee candidiate [sic] Stephen F. Smith, who has vigorously criticized the administration for allowing a swelling bureaucracy to grow arterial lines when it ought to be hiring more professors"; b) is "listening to its current employees, who are raising questions about the advisability of the new hire"; or c) is "holding the announcement in abeyance until the next instance of racial or cultural strife, to be released as a quick remedy." I think Joe has watched "Wag the Dog" a few too many times; the idea that the PR office is eagerly awaiting some racialized situation to announce a hiring is, well, the type of paranoid fantasy I've come to expect from Joe.

But I find the post duplicitous because, like most of Joe's writing about Dartmouth issues, it's pretty clear what Joe wants to say in his post, but he puts on a show of being the serious reporter and just delivering the facts, unsettling as they may be. What Joe really intends is that you come to the conclusion that Ms. Spears is unqualified for a superfluous position. I suppose he doesn't say so directly because innuendo is more effective in this type of thing than direct statement, but I don't feel as if the point is likely to be missed.

As I've said before, when conservatives start talking about there being too many deans, they mean, "why do we have diversity personnel?" But the interesting thing about this is that if you tend to believe that diversity deans are not worth much to the College, then someone whose credentials actually qualify them for the position are therefore unqualified for being hired. That is, Ms. Spears's career seems to have qualified her very well for a position like the OPAL dean, but that actually disqualifies her, in their eyes, from joining the Dartmouth administration.

Likewise, the fact that Ms. Spears is Native American is part of Joe's effort to discredit her—"the plain connection between her hire and last year’s unpleasantness, prompted by campus American Indians feeling unsupported by the administration and loudly communicating that view to the press and the ether around Dartmouth Hall. The message? Complaints bring about new employees." Again, what might be a qualification if you believe in the necessity of addressing minority issues—in this case, Native American issues—is turned into a reason why Ms. Spears doesn't deserve a job at Dartmouth. If you think the Native Americans' claims are illegitimate, then any person who might be qualified or well-positioned to address those claims is also made illegitimate. If you think this way, Ms. Spears's race is a good reason why she shouldn't be hired.

So it comes to this—if you think continuing to staff positions related to or in support of diversity on campus is a good idea, Joe has just given a few good reasons why Ms. Spears is a great hire. If, like most readers of Dartblog, you think diversity deans are superfluous and perhaps even evil, you'll understand that Ms. Spears should never be hired.

I don't like this type of argument—playing to one's readers' presuppositions and prejudices while pretending to argue to a different point or not to argue at all. But Joe goes beyond this dissembling bit of preterition; he also actively misleads.

Although the title of the post is "The New Woon," Joe repeatedly phrases things so it seems as if the College is adding a position to accommodate Ms. Spears and therefore is adding salary. "Complaints bring about new employees" suggests that the search that ended in offering Ms. Spears a job was brought about because of last fall's events. That's untrue. Tommy Lee Woon resigned, so someone needed to be hired to replace him. Joe also claims that, by hiring Spears, "Dartmouth has added $80,000 or more to its payroll when it could have added far less on the margin by simply promoting." I would be very surprised if Ms. Spears is being paid $80k more than Dartmouth was paying Woon. And as for promoting from within, unless Joe thinks that the promotee would be getting paid the same amount as she did in a lower position and not be replaced, I'm not sure how much money Dartmouth would really save by internal promotion. I could be wrong there, though—I'm not an econ major. Joe also refers to Dartmouth "grow[ing] arterial lines when it ought to be hiring more professors." Hiring someone to replace Woon is not administrative growth. Joe's efforts to associate Ms. Spears with administrative growth is misleading and disingenuous.

The Dartmouth-Harvard Relation: A Spatio-topical Analysis

Several days ago Jake Baron X put forward the following while engaging in a debate about class size, in response to an accusation of misusing statistics:

“If you don't have statistics to make a point, you have anecdotes. In other words, you have nothing at all. Any anecdote you can give Harvard can give better.”

To be honest I’m not sure this is true; if the Harvard students I know are any indication, they are by and large every bit as uninteresting as we are. However, the fact that Baron invokes the opposition at all is significant to me. I believe that if we take Jacob’s statement in conjunction with the recent alumni debate in the pages of the D (sadly offline due to the redesign) regarding Dartmouth’s ideological relationship to Harvard, we can begin to construct a modern history of the dichotomy along a freshman-alum axis.

It is important to note, however, that this dialogue itself represents just one segment of one of the humankind’s longest historical narratives, extant at least since the dawn of written communication. Consider (the presumably late) Professor H.H. Horne’s late-19th-century essay “Harvard and the Dartmouth Man:”

“If Harvard is the Athens of American institutions, Dartmouth is the Sparta. If idealism is the note of one, realism is the note of the other. Harvard is the haven of the true, Dartmouth is the haven of the useful. Harvard's is the gospel of Matthew Arnold; Dartmouth's of Carlyle…The one is the thoughtful observer of life, the other the vigorous liver of life.”

And so forth, for 1500 words. Clearly Prof. Horne felt compelled to situate the binary as in some sense dominating the entire history of intellectual development in the West. It is important to note here that Prof. Horne was almost assuredly not writing metaphorically. Ample archaeological and ethnological evidence suggests that Dartmouth and Harvard, thousands of years before their manifestations in the physical plane, gave rise to symbologies which are incalculably important to civilization.

Consider the following relief from Abydos, ca. 2600 BC:

Translated, the middle sentence reads, roughly,

“Yes, Kahotep got his acceptance tablet yesterday… He’s going to Dartmouth; of course he got in at Harvard too, you know, but we’re… just not sure how we feel about Boston.”

Most striking about the inscription in question is the fact that the icons representing the respective universities remain fully intact and recognizable thousands of years before the schools were even founded. We can therefore posit that the academic prestige of the institutions, far from being awarded from a somewhat arbitrary first-come-first-served sort of process, is actually so innate and essential to the universities that it predates them. To invoke one is to invoke the other, and together they mutually constitute the bedrock of human understanding and achievement. It is no coincidence that hieroglyphics, one of the earliest known forms of what can be formally designated as written language, is iconic in nature; before Dartmouth and Harvard were founded they did not have proper names, and as such had to be alluded to pictorially. In this way, the language of hieroglyphics was in some sense created in order to encode the concepts of Dartmouth and Harvard before they were even technically concepts.

In the fifth century BCE, Jewish mystics living in the shadow of Mt. Sinai began to adapt the still-nascent ideas of the Sefirot to spatially situate the Ivy League colleges, as well as (we assume) Stanford and MIT. Only four remain (Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia); this could be for one of two reasons. Either the positions of the remaining four (and, it can be assumed, Stanford and MIT) have been lost to history, or the mystics never bothered, having already resolved the dilemma which had presumably led to the creation of the thing. Note that Dartmouth takes the place of Binah (the heart, the mother) while Harvard lies in Chokhma (wisdom, insight).

Thus Baron’s analysis represents a staggeringly important venture, critical to ancient and modern conceptions of the College and indeed reality. He is the latest in a long line of explorers, boldly investigating this profound, profound, profound issue.

Unrelated note: I don't think it's worth doing a whole point on Zeke Turner's thing today, but GOOD GOD.

April 23, 2007

Ivy Admissions: Same As It Ever Was

Today's American Prospect has a great piece deflating the recent glut of upper-middle class scare pieces on increasing selectivity in elite college admissions. Author Kevin Carey's point is that "[t]he declining odds of getting into an elite college are mostly a statistical mirage, caused by confusion between college applicants and college applications."

A little statistic data sheds a lot of light on the situation. Carey notes that, while the number of high school graduates have jumped by 8% in the past four years, so has the number of acceptance letters mailed out by "elite" colleges and universities. When discussing the ratio of acceptances to applications however, Carey's example is slightly less solid.
"Imagine 20 students, each of whom applies to five schools and gets into two. Now imagine if the same students each applied to ten schools and got into two. The outcome for the students is the same: two acceptance letters. But the schools report lower admission rates, and the odds of admission seem worse."
Though this an intentionally vague hypothetical, I think its a bit of an oversimplification. There is something tangibly different about only getting accepted to 20% of the schools one applies to versus 40%. Taking into account the relative differences in selectivity between colleges, in this new era of common-app fueled applications to 15 schools by each kid, who's to say which two colleges the kids get into. Perhaps a student who may have gotten into, lets say, John Hopkins University has now lost that slot to a student who was also accepted at Harvard, and has no intention of attending the former.

The number of Ivy acceptance letters mailed out has actually grown faster than the high school graduate population, however, and in the meantime, underqualified students are "
treating the Harvard application like a Powerball ticket. An Ivy League education can be worth millions of dollars over a lifetime. To take a shot at one, all you need is $65.00 and a dream."

So really, things probably aren't getting much harder. Meanwhile, the publications marketing the annual panic piece to upper-middle class parents, the reputation-obsessed Ivy schools, and the cottage industry based around admissions seem to all be doing just fine.

April 20, 2007

Who the Fuck is Hank Paulson?

I realize it's an unforgiveable faux pas to speak poorly of the school during Dimensions, since a single derisive statement can convince a prospie that she actually might not prefer Dartmouth over Yale. But, considering the College's recent choice of Commencement Speaker, I feel like my hands are tied. You see, I don't actually believe in the oh-so-Ivy inferiority complex I like to joke about, but I'm a bit infuriated to see us play into it.

I guess this is all a really roundabout way to ask, "Is Hank Paulson really the best we can do? Really?" I imagine that nobody is surprised by the choice, but that everyone must be dissappointed. I mean, great, he's Sec. of the Treasury, and that's great for an alumni newsletter or a tour-guide name-dropping, but not for commencement. Why do feel obliged to get an alum? This is probably less interesting than the '05 choice of Immelt (at least GE was worth protesting). His career background - bumblefucking around as assistant deputy secretary of whatnot before some illustrious time at Goldman - its the kind of shit that I don't even find intriguing enough for a BG alumni mixer (had we successful alums, that is). He's impressive, but picking him for commencement is like screaming, "everybody look, we finally have a quasi-famous alum!" (Maybe if exercised a little restraint, people would be left to assume we've got a Senator or something out there).

Dartmouth has dropped the ball year after year in picking a commencement speaker (Paulson, Brokaw, Immelt, Mr. Rogers, some historian...) We'd all rather have an impressive and famous public figure rather than an accomplished alum, and we'd all prefer someone unique over someone trite (like Brokaw, who's kind of the village bicycle in commencement circles). Who the fuck is Hank Paulson? Where's our Jon Stewart, where's our Bill Clinton (christ, didn't we get him while he was President?), or a Kofi Annan or anyone who we might give a flying fuck about. What about a Sasha Cohen or a Seth MacFarlane?

Fuck it. It's not my commencement. I'm sure that, provided no alum gets appointed Undersecretary of Agriculture in the meantime, we'll do better next year.

April 19, 2007

Blogging Panel

I participated in this panel on blogging today. I was seated on the far left, a fact which I appreciated silently, and sat next to Joe Malchow. This is honestly not meant as an insult, but it occurred to me that, next to one another--he in a jacket and rather fine tie, I in some bland polo and jeans—we must have looked something like those "Apple v. PC" commercials.I'm kind of disturbed that I just compared myself to Justin Long, but I suppose I'll get over it.

The panel was quite interesting to me—it drove home the point that blogs truly do serve a variety of functions, even if certain motivations are common to all bloggers, and certain principles hold at all levels. I left not feeling particularly bullish about the blogosphere—Brendan Nyhan's point that the panel was pretty much made up of the same kind of people who have been providing opinions to the public for decades, if not centuries—lawyers, academics, writers—was well-taken and somewhat dispiriting.

I feel pretty much the same, though. I think bloggers are, for the most part, people who would have pursued some form of verbal self-expression and, in a different time, would have conformed and submitted themselves to editing in order to conduct that pursuit, but who now realize that they don't have to. I know Malchow used to work with The Beacon; I write for the DFP. On a national level, Andrew Sullivan has a journalistic background, as does Josh Marshall, and Arianna Huffington; Michelle Malkin pretends to write. The PowerLine trio (I can't say that without thinking of the supergroup Power Station, which comprised Robert Palmer and some of Duran Duran), Ann Althouse, Hugh Hewitt, John Aravosis, and Glenn Reynolds are all lawyers/law professors (and God knows lawyers are big on self-expression).

More: Professor Samwick made the best point of the whole event, but I wasn't sure how to express it succinctly, so I left it out of my recap. He posted over at his blog about it, however, and it's definitely well worth reading.

April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

Though details are still uncertain, it is becoming clear that an immense and surreal tragedy has taken place at Virginia Tech. The police chief is reporting 22 dead, and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's office is reporting 32 dead after a shooting rampage that seems to have stretched over two hours of the early morning. The incident began with a 911 call from a freshmen dormitory around 7am, and concluded two hours later when the gunman resurfaced at a science building across campus, apparently taking his own life as well.

From Sigma Delt: "For those who haven't heard, there was a shooting today at Virginia Tech. A Vigil will be held tonight on Collis Porch at 8pm. Please join us."

Intellectual Humility v. Large Classes

A question struck me upon reading Jacob Baron's column, titled "Large Classes, Misplaced Priorities", in today's D: what does he think he's doing here any way?

No, I'm not just being glib—it is apparent that the logic which drives a lot of students' complaints about large classes is that students are in classes to contribute, and not to learn. Thus, the need for more small classes, where contribution is expected (though rarely universal), and fewer large ones, where a student's contribution is largely a matter of attendance. Memorization of facts, dates, and names seems antiquated; discussion, dialogue, interaction—that's where the action is—that's how you really get an education these days.

I know the old phrase that goes something like "if you want to learn something, teach it," but I fail to see how that translates to "if you want to know something, give your strong but not necessarily well-informed opinion about it." Participating in a discussion is not teaching, and I think a lot of students (maybe even me) frequently fail to recognize the difference.

I'm not saying that small, discussion-based classes aren't helpful for learning, but a lot of students I've run into think that discussion is the point of these classes (some profs may think this too). Call me old-fashioned, but I still think the point of discussion-based classes is learning—facts, concepts, argumentative strategies at the very least—and I don't think that goes on for a lot of people. I think a lot of "discussion" is just extemporaneous speaking.

To put it a different way, Dartmouth students have, for the most part, no intellectual humility. I don't think they ever pause to consider how smart the author of the novel they're reading is, or how much more information the sociologist who wrote their textbook has combed through to come to her conclusions. There is no sense of the scale of intellectual achievement at Dartmouth—a poem by Keats is just raw material for one's next paper. Theories are not accomplishments—they're merely discussion topics.

I'm sorry for the rant, but I've gotten bitter in my old age. Unlike so many here at Dartmouth, I'm no longer young enough to know everything.

(This post was inspired, in part, by this annoying freshman.)

April 12, 2007

Smurf Alert: Malchow Defends Racist

I'm sure he's just doing this for attention, but Malchow has spent two posts defending Don Imus for his "nappy headed 'hos" comment (here and here). In the first post, despite having previously stated that he "must glance at more than one thousand news items a day, poring over a hundred or so to analyze for bloggability. To make the job easier—and so I never am reduced to staring at the raw wire—a series of filters and news alerts ding me when an item likely to be of interest moves—that’s the word the news folks use, moves—across the wire," Joe archly feints at total ignorance of the Imus comment.
I heard he said something, Imus did. About farming implements. Or basketball. But no one has told me what he said. But gosh, it sure must have been something. Keep hearing about it. Does anyone know what he said? I would like to hear it myself. I reckon it was something special, what Imus said. Fella doesn’t talk much.
Haha, Joe, I get it—you think it's a tempest in a teacup.
But then Joe drops his "out of the loop" charade to defend Imus directly in his typically geriatrophilic pedant manner:
Would you happen to have the time? Half past four? Oh, jolly good, thanks. My goodness, Margaret, what nappy-headed hos they have here in America. Would that Britons were a bit kinder.

Point is that ‘ho’ may just as well have meant ‘very polite person.’ The earliest use that the researchers at the Oxford English Dictionary can find for ‘ho’—the word used by soon-to-be-former radio personality Donald Imus in reference to the utterly fantastic Rutgers girls basketball team—is from 1992. (Which is not enough, by the bye, even to make it a word.) The 1992 usage comes from the lovely tune Treat Her Like Prostitute, which goes: “Now your girl she don’t like to have sex a lot And today she’s ready and she’s hot hot hot… Next thing you know the ho starts to ill She says, ‘I love you, Harold’ and your name is Will.”

And they say romance is lost. To recapitulate, we’ve learned that a word was invented just ten years ago by a crew of rappers. The word was formulated precisely to have a hint of disparagement, and yet to remain a common term of reference for any woman. (This is the first definition noted by Oxford, and the one Imus used: “Sometimes with weakened force,” the OED says, ‘ho’ means “a woman.”)

And that use of the word has indeed persisted. It is used daily by Americans of a certain generation, and with saturation by rap and hip-hop artists. An aging radio personality awoke from his nap long enough to brush up on this new lexicon, and repeated it on the air that he might be current-sounding. For that, he was taken to the professional expurgators.

Joe, as an instruction to you, let me consult a better, more up-to-date dictionary for the definition of 'ho: The Urban Dictionary. Rather than putting definitions before the readers of this blog which they already know, I've just linked the damn entry. You can peruse it at your leisure. Let me also point you to this page, which collects some of Imus's other racist quips.

But while I was on Urban Dictionary, inspiration struck, and I looked up your name. It seems that someone has seen fit to define "malchow" as "An extremely repulsive human being..." The word was added in March, 2004, which was before you got to Dartmouth, so I don't think you can blame Connor or me for it.

Sounds like your path of irritation has spread back some ways. And you didn't even have a blog then.

Edit: Joe substantially changed the post, in case you're wondering why the text I excerpted doesn't match up perfectly with the post as it now stands.

April 10, 2007

New Term, New TDR

In which scores (1-10) are given to the newest iteration of everyone's favorite campus news-thing.

The Cover: 2
I don't understand this at all. The picture I can deal with, a guy with a sled and his flapper-hatted girl, circa 1885. The weird part is the font, which you'd expect to say something like
SPACE INVASION@The Liquid Lounge
Hard/Psychedelic Trance All Night
DJ Phazon and the Cybertrybe
$2 Red Bull+Vodka

Besides the font the problem is really the leading- some freshman's incredible design idea was to make the top of each row of text sit on top of the bottom of the line above it, creating this weird cascading effect that makes everything next to impossible to read. Not to mention that, with the exception of the main article, article titles are in lowercase while the reference to what page they're on is in all caps. Who OKed this typography? What were they thinking? You really have to stare really hard at it to read it. Additionally, I don't know what's up with the huge black box they've put all the text on top of.

The Editorial: 8
Nick Desai's writing is fun to read, even if he does weird shit like hyphenate "Face-book," but there's not really a clear point to the article. I don't know if this is a bold step away from partisanship on the part of TDR or not, but it's really strange to see both sides of an issue considered, in seemingly good faith, on page 3. I mean, if I told you that the editor of the Dartmouth Review was writing an editorial about the effects of the sexual revolution, you'd think you'd know where things were going, but that's not really the case here. Desai even intones that he feels sorry for ugly people, which is remarkably empathetic given that he himself is pretty good-looking, or at least I thought he was Fall term when I had a class with him. Anyway, he may be an arch-conservative or he may not (it's hard to tell from that article) but he seems like a nicer dude than the last guy.

Col. (Ret.) James A. Donovan '39's Cartoons: 10
These are incredible. My favorite part of C(R)JA.D'39's output is that every character's mouth is open all the time, so that you can't ever tell who's talking to whom (actually, this month he sort of broke form with the left cartoon, but that's an exception). The reason for this is ostensibly that he's old and senile and is just recaptioning cartoons he drew 20 years ago en masse (one TDR kid told me a while ago that he sends huge manila folders full of hundreds of cartoons along with his donation checks, with the implicit expectation that they'd better publish at least two of them). But I really think that C(R)JA.D'39 is a radically experimental cartoonist, and this technique deliberately foregrounds the artificiality of the cartoon/caption boundary, in that it becomes impossible for the reader to assign agency to the "speech." Anyway, the unsettlingly sexualized old lady on the left is one thing, but that cartoon on the right really is the clincher here. Does he really believe that women's breasts were bigger in the 1930s? Or is he trying to say that we're not allowed to talk about women's breasts like we used to be able to? This seems rhetorical, but you've gotta consider the source here.

Emily Ghods-Esfahani: 10
EG-E only writes one short article here, and they printed it on black ink over a dark grey box, so you can't even read it. Incredible move on Desai's part. The quality of the paper surges forward.

The Alum's Memoirs: 8

(The Late) Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Hart: who cares

New Feature "Dissent! With Cate Lunt": 9
I say with no sarcasm: incredible satire, spot-on imitation of you-know-what sort of liberal, I want more. Whoever is writing this is a gotdamn genius. The books she has written in her byline info sound great, too.

Barrett's Mixology: (dom)3
Stethers gets a rating of Dome for including scotch, which is the hip new thing amongst residents of Lord 7. I didn't read that part that was written under it.

This issue wins the Little Green Blog's Most Improved award. I had a lot of fun reading this. Nothing made me pissed. I bet Buckley is upset.

April 9, 2007

A Good Cause — Iraqi Kids Project

My good friend Meredith Wilson has for the past two years run the Iraqi Kids Project, which collects clothes, shoes, toys, school supplies, and toiletries from Dartmouth students to box up and send to Dartmouth grads who are currently stationed in Iraq for distribution to children there. More details about the project can be found here.

Meredith says:
boxes will go out to nearly all dorm clusters on May 21. There will be mass blitzes with specific info about where people can drop off their stuff. As of now, the items will be mailed to [a Dartmouth serviceman], who will distribute the items to needy Iraqis in his AOR [Area of Responsibility].

What we really need now are financial donations. Checks made out to our sponsor, Epsilon Kappa Theta, memo line "Iraqi Kids Project" will go 100% towards shipping costs and supplies. They can mail these to project organizers Meredith Wilson, HB 4201, or Marlene Labastida, HB 2104.

Last year, we sent 50 large boxes to needy Iraqi families, and our soldier contact CPT Melissa Hammerle (Dart ROTC alum '03) said it was an extremely positive experience for her personnel.
I know many alums may be reading Little Green Blog right now. Please think about helping out as well. Your contributions will make a difference, as these pictures attest (click on them for larger images). But students, you can particularly help out—Iraqi Kids Project coincides pretty well with moving out of dorms—you can donate some things you may just be leaving behind anyway, and get them to a really great cause.

So Smith's That Kind of Republican

Professor Roger Sloboda writes to The D this morning (sorry—no link—the site is down for a redesign) to express concern about an article that Stephen Smith wrote for the Catholic World Report reviewing the book Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Basically, it turns out that Smith is a proponent of intelligent design, or at least holds evolution (and modern forms of scientific inquiry) in belligerent contempt.

Smith wrote the article in 1996, so he may have reconsidered and revised his views on the matter. But Sloboda's closing point is important: "Bringing to the Board of Trustees a mindset that views with disdain an entire field of legitimate, intellectual enquiry is not what membership on the Board of Trustees is all about."

Some of the parts of the article are just embarrassing for Smith, like this:
it is difficult to imagine anyone conducting a study to determine how a woman can conceive and bear a child on her own, without natural or artificial insemination. That is so not because there would be no interest in discovering how to do so (radical feminists would be quite interested in that enterprise). Rather, such a study would not be conducted because theists and atheists alike know that if spontaneous conception did occur, it was a miracle that could only be performed by God. Thus, scientific investigation takes place on the assumption, for the sake of study, that the phenomenon under inquiry is nonmiraculous and hence subject to human study and understanding, which is precisely how science should proceed--that is, how science "really" works.
That last sentence is really remarkable for its defiance of smoothness and clarity, but the whole thing shows just how much Smith really doesn't like, trust, or know about science. He assumes that scientists wouldn't be interested in something out of the ordinary because they know they couldn't explain it. Yeah, that's really how scientists approach things. "Hey, this dark matter stuff could be angels—better stay away!!!" "Hey, there's this uniformity to the background microwave radiation all around the universe—that could be heaven—don't tell anyone!!!!"

The article makes clear that this is not just an intellectual disagreement for Smith. It's a policy disagreement:
It seems to me that the prevailing liberal orthodoxy would sooner teach students that the Earth is flat than it would teach them that God exists. Half-baked theories, after all, are harmless to an academic elite that cares little about truth. From the orthodox perspective, however, theology is positively dangerous because it challenges their "me first," "anything goes" system of morality and teaches that instead of "seizing the day," we must remember "Judgment Day." It is little wonder, then, that the elite refuses to tolerate the religious in public schools or in public life.
Smith is all about knocking the academic elite down at Dartmouth. Does that mean he has "designs" (intelligent or no) on its curriculum as well?

Trustee Coverage All on One Page

Attn: Internet Stalker Guy

Hello, anonymous internet hater- the one who keeps posting a weird tirade down in the comments of the Bruschi article. Tell you what: you put your name on it, you tell me face-to-face what your problem is, and I'll leave the comment up with my name spelled however you want.

I'm not under any illusions about the way people on this site feel about me, etc. etc., especially people who have a hard time reading any political writing that isn't completely written in earnest. So it's not because I take personal offense to what you wrote that I'm taking it down- it is purely because Google can fuck with your paper, and I want my top 10 hits to be as clean as Weezy's white tee.

In fact, for future reference, here is the way we feel about commenters on the site: if we don't like it, we'll take it down. If you think that makes us pussies, fuck you. This isn't Chuck-E-Cheese. Plus, at least we HAVE comments.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

April 6, 2007

George Will Endorses Alderson

Dartmouth Trustee Election 2007 Coverage (all on one page)

In possibly the most interesting development of the trustee campaign so far, noted conservative columnist George Will endorsed Sandy Alderson in The D today.

Will should give Alderson some leverage with "moderate" Dartmouth grads, but it could cost him among liberals, although Will has enough credibility nationwide, I think, that it shouldn't be a death sentence except to those furthest left.

Will's argument, however, won't do as much as the mere fact of his endorsement. Basically, he just says that Alderson is a relatively open-minded guy who's more concerned with results than with ideology. Fantastic, but that probably won't persuade too many people who actually want ideology as part of their alumni politics. Those people will, no doubt, still be voting for Stephen Smith.

More persuasive (if it gets read) will be this letter, which gives the specifics to Smith's complete lack of participation as a Dartmouth alum:
After declaring his candidacy, I checked the Dartmouth College Fund website only to discover that he has not contributed to the DCF in the past four years. Checking further with volunteer leaders in his class and others, it appears that Smith has never once contributed to the DCF, or its predecessor, the Alumni Fund, or in fact, any other Dartmouth-affiliated activity. (The amount he may have contributed is irrelevant; it is participation that's important.) All this from a man who has written on his website, and in his initial letter seeking alumni support: "All that I have achieved -- all that I am -- the College made possible." Given his record, those words ring hollow. Smith's engagement with the College as an alumnus isn't minimal; it is non-existent, and I believe that calls into serious question the appropriateness of his sitting on the Board of Trustees. I hope my fellow alumni will give this due consideration when marking their ballots this spring.
I hate to be petty about money, but I think it's ridiculous that the first money Smith spends "for" Dartmouth is money for his own campaign. Talk about self-aggrandizement—I think it's clear that the College is not a priority for Smith, but his own personal advancement is.

April 5, 2007

Springtime For Hanover

Having missed the winter, I think its pretty great. And at least it's not rain.

April 4, 2007

Yale Hates America

Three Yale students were jailed early yesterday morning for flag burning. Hyder Akbar ’07, Nikolaos Angelopoulos ’10 and Farhad Anklesaria ’10 burnt a flag flying from a house on Chapel St. in Fair Haven. Police officers who had earlier assisted the students by giving them directions back to campus stumbled upon the burning flag, and promptly arrested the students (who readily confessed).
According to the Yale Daily News, "[t]he students were set to spend Tuesday night in jail after a Superior Court judge refused to release the men without bail, the Register reports. The bail for Akbar and Angelopoulos was set at $25,000 and was $15,000 for Anklesaria." The two freshmen are both foreign citizens, and the third student is a naturalized citizen of Pakistani origin. This third student apparently was also a translator for US forces during the invasion of Afghanistan, and wrote a memoir based on the experience.

Between this and that whole "Yale Taliban" incident, isn't obvious that that Yale hates America?

April 2, 2007

Trustee Coverage All on One Page

I've been asked to collect the posts I've made related to the trustee election. Here they are—even if you disagree with me and know what I'll say, the comments sections of each are pretty good—many comments are quite articulate and, I think, give a pretty good picture of the nature and underlying issues of the rhetoric of this election.

Digging deep into the archives, here is some coverage of the last trustee election, from site founder Chris Bateman:

Something else: It is possible that I have never read anything as smug as this editorial of the New Criterion's, supporting Smith. I realize it's an editorial, but the way that it just assumes that the most over-the-top accusations it can put to Jim Wright are true simply because they're saying them is genuinely bracing.

The New York Times is So Dartmouth

The New York Times has added yet another blog to its Times Select section, in case you found yourself tempted to read actual, substantial news instead. "The Graduates: Eight College Seniors Face the Future," was launched today, with its first post by Dartmouth's own Alice Mathias '07. (By the way, if you don't have TimesSelect, its now free for college students, so get on that.)

The piece is blog-appropriate, I guess, having the light-hearted, conversational tone of one of Alice's columns in last year's Mirror. Alice tries to explain why so many of us Ivy folk run off to big banking firms after college, but I'm not quite sure she pulls it off. After a bit of a detour on the promise of immortality (thank you ENGS 5, fucking case study in the idiocy of distribs) and robot ponies, she finds the culprit: the disengaging effects of bipartisan rancor.

Faulting some abstract, exogenous phenomena not only fails to provide any student-specific insight, but also lets us off the hook too easily for our own decisions. Sure, the cultural cache` of public service has waned over the past few decades along with public respect for politicians, but how is this suddenly manifesting in our generation? (Haven't youth voting rates been higher lately than in the 90s or 2000?)

A larger part of the problem is plainly visible right here on campus. Most students, not having attempted to start a career yet, have an unrealistic conception of the labor market. We tend to see our options being either selling-out or a noble and impoverished life of service (and who could fault us for choosing the former), when that at best delineates a spectrum of options. People doing amazing things later in their careers often couldn't have predicted the path that brought them there from college, a path that meandered across that entire spectrum. So when corporate recruiters show up, some immediate pressure is added to make good on our education and prove our worth to ourselves, each other, and our parents, and, voila, a generation of bankers.

Enough of my preaching. There's nothing necessarily wrong with becoming an I-banker, and simple economics could explain a lot. (Did anyone fault the 90s kids for the lemming-rush towards tech jobs? Of course not. The pursuit of technological progress is more defensible than that of increasing market efficiency, I guess). There is, however, something wrong with people selling themselves short. Students here not only have more wide-ranging interests and greater career aspirations than just a lucrative profession, but they are also among the select privileged elite that can actually afford to take the more-intriguing, lesser-paying internships and even immediate post-grad career options. Fuck, I'm preaching again.

I wish, as Alice predicts may happen, that Obama gets elected and everyone flocks to DC or wherever, hoping to become a political rockstar just like him. But I'm not really holding my breath.

April 1, 2007

NY Post on Trustee Election:

A few points:

1) Refers to Dartmouth as Dartmouth University. I'm not sure if that's because the "journalist" didn't bother to check the most basic fact of the story or if he's trying to further the "Dartmouth is turning into a University!!!" meme. (It's an op-ed, so I don't think the latter option is completely irrational, although I think the former is more likely.)

2) Nice of them to tie this all in to a (heavily anticipated) wave of conservative backlash against liberal administrations across the country: "Stephen Smith's insurgent campaign likely presages struggles all across the world of U.S. higher education."

3) I think the last paragraph is just plain weird:
Recent decades have seen one insular and unaccountable institution after another broken open - from the Big Three auto companies to securities brokerages to IBM. Now this trend toward openness and accountability - fostered in part by technology, and in part by stakeholders' unwillingness to be taken advantage of - is coming to higher education. The bumpy ride for university administrators may be just beginning.
Breaking up monopolies and prosecuting unethical business practices seems like a very different venture from (ostensibly) returning a small private college to its traditional values, but hey, what's the point in accurate analogies?

4) I really like how athletics are part of the "meat" of the College according to Smith ("Worse, he says, the school met financial shortfalls after the collapse of the tech bubble by moving to to cut athletics and library facilities, not administration - an approach Smith calls 'cutting the meat to spare the fat.'"), while things like (I'm guessing) OPAL and IDE are part of the "fat." Yes, athletics are essential to the College's mission while diversity and equity aren't. Dear god.

5) Here's another instance of Smith referring to Dartmouth as being under a "New McCarthyism."

I'm starting to wonder what my Dartmouth degree will be worth in twenty years if the Smiths and the Rodgerses have their way. We'll keep the "meat," sure, but we'll be certain to lose the brain.

More: Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that the piece is by conservative blogshitter Glenn Reynolds. Figures.
PowerLine also links to the article, and says this about the column: "Glenn Reynolds now takes a look at the Dartmouth College trustee election that kicks off today and features (in our view) independent trustee candidate Stephen Smith."
Does this mean that Smith is independent "in our view"—i.e., that most sensible people don't think Smith is independent, but they persist in doing so? Why the caveat? If they're so sure Smith is independent, can't they say so on their own blog? Maybe this was just a typo, but you know what Freud would say.

March 30, 2007

Wikigate: More Angry SA Drama?

Only hours after the launch of the Dartmouth CollegeWiki, the dubious venture is on shaky ground. In a campus-wide email from Student Assembly, we are made aware of some unforgiveable transgressions, including its non-affiliation with the college, its apparent for-profit nature, massive spam-generating potential, and yet worse, its reference to Dartmouth University.

When asked how this made him feel, one member of a certain secret society (who wishes to preserve his anonymity) was overheard to remark, "University? AARGH angry smallcollege traditions bloated-bureaucracy traditions JAmes Wright wahoowah malchowmalchow."

Anyway, it seems like a non-issue since the site looked as shady as the SA blitz reveals, and promised to be pretty useless. I'm looking forward to the CompSci dept launching their own. I'm also looking forward to a long-overdue update of BlitzMail, since it's a painfully outdated sack of shit that can't do the simplest things, like read most e-mails from the outside world.

Also, can somebody tell me why SA's reply-to is "letloosethemoose?" Word. Thanks.

The Dartmouth Wiki

I received an email (you probably did too) this morning informing me that I can now have all my questions about Dartmouth answered. I've been waiting for this—now I can have my suspicions confirmed—Andrew Eastman is actually the biggest tool on campus.

I'm not particularly convinced that this thing will give accurate information, though—right now, the page is titled "Dartmouth University Wiki."

That's about as good as Noah Riner (evangelical/home school hero)'s, which used to have a big picture of Jesus saying, "Welcome to the Ivy League, sinner!" until Riner realized it might deter traffic. The site is still under construction.

More: By the way, this is probably a data-mining scam (the tip-off is that you have to register to see any page other than the homepage). I hope you haven't signed up.

Trustee Voting

The polls open April 1st for this year's round of alumni trustee elections. Vox the Vote has all the important information about logistics—how you can vote, etc.

This page is particularly important: it gives details on the specifics of approval voting, Dartmouth's chosen system. From talking to people (students, admittedly) it still seems fairly unknown that Dartmouth uses an approval voting system and that alums can therefore vote for as many of the candidates as they wish. There are four candidates and, if you feel so inclined, you can certainly vote for all four. Professor Emeritus Robert Norman had more on the topic in an op-ed here.

I found The D's endorsement editorial a pretty good read of the situation, although my (negative) feelings about Smith are considerably stronger. Endorsement is not actually the best word—they expressed reservations about all candidates, but they do say that they all felt positively about Sandy Alderson.

In this situation, I would recommend that if you are undecided, you vote for more than one candidate—Alderson first, as a moderate candidate, and then another one or two whom you feel more closely approximate your general feeling about the administration—good or ill. However, I would like to strongly recommend that, even if you don't like Jim Wright, you consider Stephen Smith as more (or rather less) than just someone who opposes him.

Stephen Smith is, for reasons I have elaborated on this blog and in the DFP, not a good candidate for Dartmouth, and I say that not because I disagree with his assessment of Dartmouth's current state. I think his commitment to Dartmouth prior to this election is questionable if not non-existent, and I think his conduct during the campaign has been questionable as well. When caught with a more ideological than factual plank on free speech, he switched directions and tried to pretend he'd always been big buddies with Jim Wright, and yet he'll still tell the National Review that Dartmouth is under McCarthyism. When asked about his campaign funds and support (which must be considerable), he plays the race card. Even if you disagree with Jim Wright, Stephen Smith is not the best candidate for you, and he's not the best candidate for Dartmouth.

March 29, 2007

Why do we take this man seriously, again?

Karl "MC" Rove tries his hand at being the hype man for an attempted rap at the White House Correspondents dinner.

Results... about what you can expect. It's not funny, it's sad. Very, very sad.

Smurf Alert!!

Phrygian Society: Now with a website!!

Please buy the merchandise.

Moron caveat: Yes, this is a fake website. Much like Fartlog, which John Elizabeth Dexterhouse, III has made active again.

Freshman, Get a Livejournal, Not a Newspaper Column

Sorry to be an asshole about this, but there is no reason why paragraphs like this:
After a break full of, well, nothing, I declare nihilism the ideal. While work is rewarding, there should be a noble respect for relaxation. While it may seem everyone has a lucrative internship at Pierce & Pierce or is voluntarily nursing cute animals back to health, do not be ashamed if your breaks seem gaunt in comparison. Spring break has proved that the laws of stationary inertia are a pleasure to witness firsthand.
or this:
It is a strange feeling to be immersed in a world without much authority. We, in this transitional stage between adolescence and adulthood, experience a metamorphosis of social roles. We are self-governing, and for those of you who have seen Mean Girls, you already know that young adult relationships are often tenuous bonds that can easily be broken. Or so I've heard, from girls who have seen the movie and are definitely not me.
or a line like this:
As a soldier returns from battle to a loving wife, so too the undergraduate returns with an impassioned heart each term.
need to be in any newspaper.

March 28, 2007

More Smith Flip-Flopping on Free Speech

One minute, Stephen Smith will say that Jim Wright at least knows what he's talking about when it comes to free speech, but the next, he's telling the National Review that “There’s a new McCarthyism on campus.”

As an aside, I found this line (unintentionally) hilarious:
Smith, who is currently a law professor at the University of Virginia, has the kind of life story that many politicians would envy. Raised by a single mother on welfare in Washington, D.C., he earned scholarships to Catholic schools and graduated from high school at the age of 16.
The National Review, always looking for that silver lining/political capital angle.* [My emphasis]

Hat tip: PowerLine, who calls Smith "
our candidate for Dartmouth's board of trustees." Why even bother with a lengthier, less possessive title like "the candidate whom we support"—maybe "our candidate" just reflects how they feel about Smith.

*Yes, I realize Dems do it too.

Interesting note from T.J. Rodgers

For the record, neither I nor any entity that I control has contributed financially either directly or indirectly to the campaign of Stephen Smith '88.

To be fully candid, I did interview Smith and sign his ballot petition because I thought he was both more independent and more issue-oriented than the only other candidate I interviewed -- Alderson.

Was Rodgers interviewing him in his capacity as a Trustee (and did other Trustees—besides Zywicki and Robinson—also interview him? Or was Rodgers just trying to vet which candidate would make the best addition to the Lone Pine Succession?

Also, please note that, while the title of the op-ed (which I'm not accusing Rodgers of choosing—it was quite likely chosen for him) states that "Trustees did not help Smith with monetary contributions" but Rodgers only claimed that neither he nor entities (i.e. businesses, foundations, action groups, etc.) he controls contributed. He does not make any claims about Robinson or Zywicki or former petition trustee John Steel. An important difference.

March 27, 2007

The Mega-versity Meme

Tim Dreisbach, who recently huffed and puffed and vowed he'd never read this blog again (and all because I called an anonymous commenter a "dumbass"!?), writes to The D to spread just one more instance of the "Mega-versity Meme."

Essentially, the meme is this:

1) Praise Dartmouth's history/heritage
2) Wag finger at Jim Wright for threatening that heritage
3) More specifically, condemn a (never fully delineated) trend toward 'bigness' at Dartmouth
4) Point out Jim Wright's connection to said (nebulous) 'bigness' trend (normally through quoting that infamous 'Dartmouth is a university in all but name' line of his)
5) Call for action to save Dartmouth from 'bigness'
6) Repeat

I understand the complaints about cumbersome bureaucracies; for the most part, I agree with them. As I was telling one person today, the reason why Dartmouth sometimes looks pretty awkward in its efforts to support/promote diversity is that offices like Public Relations are probably not very well connected to other offices that might know a little bit more about diversity at Dartmouth, like IDE or OPAL.

But an exceedingly vague fear of 'bigness' isn't going to solve the problems we do have. I don't know whether those who worry about 'bigness' worry about it in specific areas or generally. I do know that most complaints are about having too many deans, but which deans are they hoping to... what's the word... downsize?

Here is a flow chart of the organization of the administration of the faculty of the arts and sciences. There are a lot of deans, assistant deans, etc. on here. Or how about the John Sloane Dickey Center? I'm not sure if they have deans, but they sure do have staff. Or perhaps our staff related to the Hood—does a 'small' college need such a big museum? Does ruddering away from 'bigness' mean we should be cutting out some of these people? I may very well be wrong, but my Smurf-sense tells me that most of those who are worried about 'bigness' aren't targeting these deans.

I think we have to be honest here—when people talk about cutting back the number of deans, they're talking about cutting back things like OPAL or IDE, or basically any staff that deal specifically with a minority group. Maybe these 'smallness' proponents wish we could condense the Dean of Faculty's staff; maybe they think the class deans' support system could be streamlined. But at the end of the day, the deans they really think are extraneous are the "diversity deans."

Remaining vague and harping on the dangers of 'bigness' allows these people to avoid a real debate about the necessity and merits of these offices entirely—hopefully, the 'smallness' rhetoric will catch on with an alumni body which is, for the most part, likely to be sympathetic to most casually libertarian rhetoric (rich people generally are) and those who use this rhetoric can move into a position where they get to decide whether or not OPAL, IDE, and many other offices are useful or not.

Please note that I'm not saying that the 'smallness' proponents are 100%, white-knuckled out to get OPAL; I kind of think they have their minds made up about its necessity/merits, but I think for the most part what the petition trustees and their backers want is the power to decide and to determine things like when speech is free enough at Dartmouth, when the administration is 'small' enough, etc. It's not, I think, that the Lone Whiners want specific goals that they are hoping to get elected to accomplish; it's that they feel they are owed, simply by virtue of having a strong minority opinion, an equal or greater share of the decision-making power at Dartmouth than the President—Wright or whoever comes next—has. Voting with the pocketbook is apparently no longer good enough—these guys think they should have power.

I find this extraordinarily arrogant. I have very definite, very strong opinions about what Dartmouth should be and should be doing, but I've never felt that entitled me to mount a relatively coordinated effort to consolidate power, and I'm pretty sure I never will have such inclinations. I certainly would never feel that having strong, minority opinions would empower me to create a (risible) secret society to sow seeds of anti-administration discord around campus. It's immature, really. I expect more out of Dartmouth men.

March 25, 2007

In which Joe makes himself useful (Edit: never mind)

This will be the first (and likely the only) time I will say this, but Malchow has something on his blog which it might be worth your while to read. Joe lays out some reasons why the impending RIAA letters (Dartmouth got 11, apparently) which accuse students of illegally downloading music might not be all that much of a threat.

Caveat: Please do not take this post—or Joe's—as an all-clear sign for illegal downloading—that's certainly not what I intended. I just know that some of my friends have expressed great anxiety about these letters, and I wanted to pass this information along to help ease the tension. However, two good comments to this post have pointed out reasons why Joe's read of the situation might be severely off. At any rate, I strongly recommend that all Dartmouth students follow Dean Nelson's advice regarding music sharing/music downloading.

March 22, 2007

Smith on Free Speech

Missed this the other day, but now it seems Stephen F. Smith, petition candidate for trustee, believes that Jim Wright is not only on his side about free speech but has a better idea of what it is!
What is the role of free speech at Dartmouth?
In setting out to answer this question, I found–as I often did as a student in his “History of the American West” class many years ago–that I couldn’t improve on the answers given by President Wright. In his 2004 Convocation address, President Wright gave an excellent speech on the value of free speech at Dartmouth that, in my opinion, everyone in the Dartmouth family should read... I couldn’t agree more with these [Wright's] views.
But before we think Smith has acquiesced to the fact that Dartmouth—as an institution and as a community—is not in the practice of suppressing free speech after all, he pulls back and reclaims the non-issue as a key plank of his platform:
Although President Wright and I have some disagreements, we are in complete agreement on the value of free speech at Dartmouth: to be true to its educational mission, Dartmouth must fully protect the freedom of expression on campus. One of my priorities as Trustee will be to ensure that the administration lives up to its pro-free speech rhetoric in practice.
So, although Wright's views on free speech are perfectly consonant with Smith's own views, and although Smith can't give an example of free speech actually being suppressed (as opposed to criticized—the "counter-speech pointing out the errors in what the speaker had to say" that Smith talks about), and although Dartmouth is one of only two Ivy League schools with a green light rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) we should still worry about free speech enough to elect Stephen Smith. Only Smith can truly ensure that free speech will be protected.

This leads me to a simple question: why should we trust Smith any more than he trusts the administration? He's a lawyer, sure—in fact, a law professor. But are we to presume that his mere presence on the Trustee Board will scare off any sinister suppressors in the administration or the student body? We've elected a law professor already (Todd Zywicki) and, judging by Smith's rhetoric, it must not have helped—Dartmouth is still in danger of a deep wave of censorship and oppression. Heck, we even have an old Reagan crony on the Board, the man who gave Reagan the words to stand up to Russian might, and we still are in danger of Soviet-style suppression. Perhaps it's the Armed Forces we should be calling in, not a law professor!

Seriously, though, if we look at the way Smith orchestrates his arguments about free speech, we can find good reasons to distrust his own commitment to the "marketplace of ideas" which he touts as free speech's Edenic equivalent. I take as basic values of the marketplace of ideas that you attribute other people's ideas properly, especially if you disagree with them; you don't focus your attacks on straw men; you don't misrepresent the opinions of another; and you acknowledge when you change your position. Stephen Smith has skirted each and every one of these fundamental values in his latest post.

First, acknowledging when you change your position. When Smith put up this page at the beginning of his campaign, he presented Wright as directly infringing upon free speech, "bullying" students into "self-censorship." Now, Wright is the greatest proponent of free speech. Wright's views at the beginning of the campaign were "the very antithesis of freedom of speech;" now, "we are in complete agreement on the value of free speech at Dartmouth." There is no attempt to explain this vast divergence—one month saying Wright is silencing students, another that he articulates the value of free speech better than Smith can do himself.

Secondly, not focusing your attack on straw men. Well, clearly Smith isn't shy about using Wright himself as evidence when he feels he can, but whenever he decides Wright isn't the proper target, who gets placed in the crosshairs? "The administration," typically, or in this case unnamed "administration supporters." If he's really intent on taking us shopping in a marketplace of ideas, it would help if he doesn't try to abstract the vendors into anonymity.

This leads, in fact to the third point—properly attributing opinions, especially when they oppose yours. Smith sets up these abstract "administration supporters" as straw men, but he gives them a very specific claim to hold: that "free speech is not a 'conservative' or 'libertarian' issue." It's possible that he's been talking to some professors or some people in the administration who have told him something like that but, and I know this will sound self-absorbed, the only person to have said anything like that in print is me. In this article, I said:
the “defense” of free speech is, in fact, not defensive at all, but rather an offensive maneuver designed to ensure that only these conservative alumni have the ability and grounds for determining what free speech is at Dartmouth. The purpose is not to protect free speech, but to reserve for these conservatives the exclusive right to decide when it has been sufficiently protected.
If you're looking for a time when an "administration supporter" has linked the crusade for free speech with conservative ideology, this is it.

However, and here comes the fourth point—the one about not misrepresenting others' opinions—what I said does not mean anything like "free speech is a 'conservative' or 'libertarian' issue." What I said was that this particular effort to protect free speech is driven by conservative interests—and in the interests of not using straw men, let me be explicit—Rodgers, Zywicki, Robinson, Smith, some (but not all) of the Smurfs, notably Malchow and Eastman, and those alums who have been supporting these figures monetarily—and these men have been supporting it by using a libertarian ideology that borrows from over-simplified free-market ideas. (I elaborate on that in the article.)

That doesn't say free speech is a conservative or libertarian issue, it says that the conservatives and libertarians who are using it as an issue right now are doing so for narrow and illegitimate reasons—namely, that they wish to control when Dartmouth's speech is sufficiently free.

If Professor Smith is truly intent on partaking in a marketplace of ideas, I ask him to conform to some baseline of open discourse. If I'm off-base on this and he's actually referring to the views of someone else, then I hope the next time he refers to them, he doesn't airbrush them out of the argument.