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 I'm also looking forward to a long-overdue update of BlitzMail, since it's a painfully outdated sack of shit that can't do the simplest things, like read most e-mails from the outside world.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.

March 21, 2007

WTFCNN, Criterion Collection

I posted the other day about a site documenting FoxNews's various "gaffes."

Well, here's a blog carrying screenshots of some of the odder headlines on


And here's another great blog I just stumbled across: The Criterion Contraption's author is watching all the films from The Criterion Collection and blogging his observations.

Lily Tomlin Hearts David O. Russell

The Onion AV Club has a video clip up that was captured during filming on David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees." It features a vicious tirade punctuated by Russell yelling at Lily Tomlin from two different doors, which is pretty comical.

Russell has made one incredibly brilliant film, "Three Kings," but I find the rest of his output pretty underwhelming. "I Heart Huckabees" lacked the punch I was expecting from it (maybe this clip shows why), and "Flirting with Disaster" was poorly paced and dull for my tastes. "Spanking the Monkey," which I haven't seen, is an Oedipal comedy about a med student. Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore filled up my decade's worth of Oedipal narratives, so I'll be waiting awhile to see that one.

At any rate, I enjoyed the clip. Directors yelling at actors for the sake of their art. What's not to love?

March 18, 2007

As writers' feuds go, this one is/was pretty great

Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Long a subject of speculation as to the actual grounds for the feud (which officially started when Llosa unceremoniously decked Marquez in a Mexican theater in 1976), The Independent claims to have the goods, finally, on the roots of the squabble. So does El Diario La Prensa, if you read Spanish.

The last line of the Spanish account is quite amusing:
"Las guardé 30 años, y ahora que él cumple 80 años, y 40 la primera edición de Cien años de soledad considero correcta la publicación de este comentario sobre el histórico encuentro dos grandes escritores, uno de izquierda, y otro de contundentes derechazos", concluyó Moya.
I'll expose my withered Spanish skills (really should have continued with that in college) just enough to explain for those with even less literacy in Spanish than I have: Marquez is famously far to the left (he has unabashedly supported Castro for years) while Llosa is pretty far to the right, running as a conservative for the Peruvian presidency at some point. So this Moya person quips that this was a historic meeting of two great writers, one of the left, and the other of the bruising right (hook)—essentially ('derechazo' is the word for a right punch).

Here's a bit about other more or less recent literary feuds from the NYT; I always seem to side with one writer or another—Colson Whitehead against Richard Ford (I mean, how could you not?), Vidal against Mailer (more or less anyone against Mailer), Rushdie against Updike (although Updike against Wolfe), etc.

March 15, 2007

"FoxNews at Its Finest"

I'm posting this purely for comedic value, as I think FoxNews lost its status as a legitimate polemical target awhile back now.

Anyway, enjoy this blog post, a collection of FoxNews's various gaffes, overt spinning of news stories, and ridiculous editorial comments. But I think this one pretty much sums it up:
Foley was, of course, a Republican, but not if you're watching FoxNews.

March 14, 2007

Tournament of Books

March is, of course, the month of the NCAA tournament. Games there kick off tomorrow, but The Morning News's Tournament of Books is already underway. Supported by the amazing Powell's Books of Portland, the tournament operates basically like the NCAA tournament—seeds, brackets, etc. Each bracket is judged by a (pretty) minor literary celebrity—novelists, litbloggers, journalists for The Onion, music critics for The New Yorker (which just got a great re-design) and lead singers for The Decemberists.

The four number one seeds, in case you're interested, were Absurdistan, The Road, Against the Day, and The Lay of the Land. But it appears the judges are in the mood for upsets—only one higher seed, The Road, has actually advanced.

The titles are almost all worth a look, if you're trying to figure out what to read over spring break. I just read Firmin and really liked it.

Edit: Colin Meloy's Thunderdome themed review is up today. Make sure to read it.

March 12, 2007

Thank God this wasn't John Bolton

From the BBC:
Israel has recalled its ambassador to El Salvador after he was found drunk and naked apart from bondage gear.

Reports say he was able to identify himself to police only after a rubber ball had been removed from his mouth.
Oh my.

March 10, 2007

Smurf Activity Watch: Malchow Reports that Dartmouth Administration Is Secretly in Control of the World's Press

According to newly inducted Smurf Phrygian Joe Malchow, writing in a frenzy of paranoid ecstasy (and a whole bloated paragraph of self-congratulation), a story about the possibility of President Wright's retiring was changed over the course of March 8th. [Cue menacing music]

The first wire, Joe says, focused on Wright's statement that he wouldn't be retiring any time too soon by putting it in the context of the last three trustee elections and the current one, in which another insurgent is running. The second wire contextualizes Wright's denial of imminent retirement in light of a comment by one of the other trustee candidates to the effect that the winner of this election will be around for the selection of the next president.

That is all true, but Joe leaves the impression that the second wire leaves out any talk of the trustee elections ("gone is the language contextualizing President Wright’s e-mail message with three Trustee elections lost to independent, petition-nominated alumni candidates"), which is completely untrue. In fact, it is a bold-faced lie. The second wire, according to Malchow's own copy, states,
The article and e-mail come amid efforts by anti-Wright
alumni to put representatives on the college's Board of
Trustees, which may select the next president of the Hanover,
New Hampshire, school, the smallest of the eight Ivy League
colleges. Elections to replace one trustee begin April 1.
Malchow also claims (unless his bad writing is getting in the way) that the story was cut down in the update ("a tight, contextualized news story was halved in the space of just a few hours"). It most certainly was not. The updated version is 591 words long, the first version, 522.

Malchow's assumption is that Dartmouth PR people got to Bloomberg News and made them change their tune to protect Wright from looking like he was scared of dissident alums ("Did Dartmouth’s public relations people complain? If they did, how did their thinking go? In the first version, it was the loss of three public Board votes—four including the constitution—that prompted Mr. Wright’s abjuration of all “reports” of retirement. In the second, it was an explicit statement about Wright’s “imminent resignation” by one of the officially nominated candidates for trustee that prompted Wright’s denial. Which looks better?"). I find that paranoid and incomprehensible. How can Dartmouth have that kind of power?

Not only that, but Malchow himself cooks the books considerably—he ignores most of the wire which deals with alumni dissent, particularly in reference to Joe Asch's (not very recent) letter calling for Wright's resignation, which is discussed in both versions. Malchow clearly wants people to believe that Dartmouth is suppressing word of alumni dissent from getting out to the public, which is absurd when most of both versions deal explicitly with that very topic. Malchow is not just wrong here, he's actively lying and misleading.

Finally, I can't help but quote Joe's first paragraph. I don't know how people take him seriously. I really don't:
The Dartmouth government student’s cup spilleth o’er not with wine but with news about the world. Between AP, Reuters, Xinhua, Bloomberg, Kyodo, Dow, and, oui, sometimes the Agence France-Presse, I 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 actually 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.
Jesus Christ, how do you stand this kid, Phrygians?

March 8, 2007

Dunce Cap

As The D pointed out yesterday, the Phrygian Society takes its name from a "cap that was worn by the Phrygian people and has featured prominently in world culture ever since. Emancipated Roman slaves wore the Phrygian cap as an indication of their liberty. For a time, the cap was also worn in theater by any character who served as a 'man of the people.' According to the Revolutions de Paris, a chronicle printed during the French Revolution, the cap was 'the symbol of the liberation from all servitudes, the sign for unification of all the enemies of despotism.'"

To the upper left, you will see one of the French caps, while below that you can see a more Roman-era cap. To the upper right is the seal of the United States Army, which contains an image of the cap on a pole.

Of course, as noble as that all is, the most famous wearers of the Phrygian cap are the Smurfs (to the right). It's also a deformity of the gallbladder, which I find somehow appropriate for a society predicated on the idea that Dartmouth was a lot better off before there were women and people of color here.

At any rate, here's to the Smurfs!

March 7, 2007

RIP Jean Baudrillard

Or at least the hyperreal version of him.
Seriously, though, at one point in the 1980s, talking about this guy could get you laid all the time, every time in grad school.

Lords of the Decoder Rings

The Dartmouth publishes an article today on the all-male secret society known as the Phrygians. It's a very interesting article and is quite well-researched—this is what I meant the other day when I talked about not publishing the moment you get a few facts, but waiting until you have a full story with some context.

I've known about the society for some time, but was unable to make the types of discoveries that they have. One thing that they did not mention, however, but I believe to be true is that the History of Dartmouth club, a COSO recognized group, is a front organization for them in much the same way the Evelyn Waugh Society is for The Review.

As for the membership, I'm not going to be so rude (actually, I'm not sure what purpose it would serve) as to release all the names—I only have the class of '07 anyway—but I will say that The D picked up on most of the notable names and was correct on all of the 07s they named.

I do want to say, however, that I would not assume that all of the members are equally committed to the anti-administration effort; a few are very committed, write op-eds (like Eastman or Fenn) or write for The Review, but a lot of the men, as far as I can tell, aren't really that politically engaged. I mean, maybe they take the message back to their frats (Chi Gam and Phi Delt are the two most represented), but it doesn't seem to me that all of the members are even that conservative, much less John Birch Society material. You do have to love the conservative reaction to ideological opposition, though—"does this mean we can form a shadowy organization?"

My only further note is that I had been wondering if Malchow had been tapped for next year—I would say that the fact that he has, and is taking such a prominent role in the society, is evidence that the students really don't have the reins, as I can't imagine varsity captains and Greek presidents taking marching orders from him pleasantly. Conservative alums, however, especially the PowerLine trio, have been underwriting and supporting him for some time.

I do love Malchow's little attempt at ye olde poesie:
"A threat gathers, you see, by the Old Pine down yon,
Abusing this plain with a poisonous yarn,
About conspiracies and folklore and threats to this school.
But the gravest threat I see is the King and his rule."

I get it! I get it! Jim Wright is Sauron! Omg that makes so much sense!

Follow the Money

The D published two pieces today dealing with money and the trustee race— an article and a Verbum Ultimum—asking the basic question, where is Stephen Smith, the conservative petition candidate, getting his money and his mailing lists?

When asked, Smith pulled what can only be called the race card: "It is disturbing how quick some are to assume that a black man who comes forward to offer his vision for the College can't possibly be thinking or speaking for himself."

No, Mr. Smith, no one's suggesting black people can't think for themselves, but many have suggested that the campaign you're running is clearly modeled on the petition campaigns of the past few years, and that your rhetoric clearly intends to appeal to the same voting bloc. Others have suggested that you change your message drastically based on your audience and questioned your motives for doing so.

The D is also suggesting that it would have been extremely difficult for you to have magically drawn up an alumni-wide mailing list independently, and that you're clearly getting money through fundraising. The list of your donors shouldn't be something you feel you have to keep confidential.

But the clincher, I think, is what Sandy Alderson says:
Alderson also revealed he had a personal interview with the petition trustees when they considered supporting him before adopting Smith as "their own petition candidate."

He recalled two meetings, one with former petition trustee John Steel '54, and one with Rodgers and Robinson. He said he also engaged in a phone conversation with Zywicki before being "dropped."

"Make no mistake about it, the petition candidate is their candidate," he said. "They dropped me after I didn't pass their litmus test of voting against the constitution -- that and my general but not universal support of Jim Wright."

Couple this with the Phrygian Society (see above) and what do you have? Well, besides a banner issue for The D, an increasingly obvious network of conservatives whose activity on campus is fairly subterranean, despite their calls for administrative transparency. I would call "hypocrisy" on this one, but what do you expect?

March 6, 2007

An Emotional Rollercoaster

When I first read the campus blitz, I couldn't help but chuckle (or burst out laughing, I can't quite remember how I reacted). A very large special needs student was apparently roaming the wilds of Hanover, and in a red kilt, to boot. I couldn't quite reconcile myself with inevitably of going to hell for laughing, but I couldn't really stop laughing either. Needless to say, I felt conflicted, and it has been a trying 24 hours for me.

Today though, I read The D's update. And finally, my conscience sort of caught up with the snarky jackass in me, and I felt really awful. (Aren't you all glad I keep you posted on my emotional status?). A little detail I missed was that this kid needs daily medication, and now it appears that, despite the best efforts of H-Po's bloodhounds (note to self: H-Po has bloodhounds), he has disappeared without a trace. And that is really awful.

So it's settled now, that the mysterious disappearance of special needs child is in fact a bad thing, and I, in fact, feel quite bad. So, here's to hoping the karmic retribution for my being an ass is his swiftly being found, safe and sound. If anyone hears any updates on this, post a comment.

March 5, 2007

Our Sex is the Mass

As a friend of mine likes to point out, over and over again, the New York Times Magazine tends to print "trend pieces" or various other revelations that are more exaggerated strings of anecdotes than actual exposes of anything.
There is one thing of note in the most recent piece, "Campus Exposure," on sex magazines at elite colleges, has a minor, passing reference to Dartmouth.

"Our sex is the Mass, read a piece by a Dartmouth student. You kneel down in the doorway of my chapel..."

That is just goddamn awful prose, and you know it, whoever wrote that. This is (one of many reasons) why we never get prominent name-checks in the media.

Undercover @ CPAC

I spent most of Thursday and Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which is the conservative event of the year. I'm still reeling from the experience, and haven't quite finished documenting it all, but for now, check out the Campus Progress Undercover Liveblog. I got to meet, and sometimes even briefly chat, with the likes of John Bolton, Michelle Malkin, Mitt Romney, Grover Norquist, Laura Ingraham, and Tom DeLay, among others.

One other thing. The first thing out of Laura Ingraham's mouth after I introduced myself? "Wah hoo wah."
Wah hoo wah indeed.

Andrew Eastman, Dartmouth's Own Conservapedia

Because if conservatives don't believe it, it's BIAS!

Or censorship—Eastman writes in to say that Wright's letter to the community pledging to "correct the record" on the misinformation people like Eastman have been feeding petition trustee candidate Stephen F. Smith is a threat of censorship. It's censorship because Wright's saying Smith is wrong, and that's not admissible at the Conservative Market of Free and Open Discourse.

Of course, if Eastman actually had any facts on his side, he could have used those to refute what Wright said in his community letter, and that would have been totally alright.

March 3, 2007

Ann Coulter Strikes Again

Ann Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot" to rousing applause and the approbation of Mitt Romney at the biggest conservative event of the year, the Conservative Political Action Conference, where last year she called Arabs "ragheads" and advised that Supreme Court Justices be murdered.
Here's the video, and here's a really good post about it.

March 2, 2007

Verbum Penultimum

The D's Verbum Ultimum—a roundly Orwellian term, no?—today argues that administrative hiring processes should be more transparent. I suppose I should have addressed this earlier, but I am not opposed to such an idea in principle. If arrangements were made with applicants such that all knew that, if they reached the finalist round, their names would be released, I would think that The D, or anyone else, not only could, but should be reporting on it, commenting on it, etc.

But that was definitely not the case in this situation, nor is social service really The D's motivating force. The understanding all around was that this was confidential information—which is, I acknowledge, not a reason not to print it, but it is a reason for consideration of the possibility of going about printing it in a different manner—i.e. not splashing it on the front page, running a mug-shot-looking photograph and generally trying to make students believe that The D is doing us a great social service. A great social service would be reporting in a manner that lets students know things that really help them—the original article was singularly unhelpful, more sensationalist than informative, disorganized and short on facts. Instead of rushing to the presses, it would have been more responsible to wait for more facts, more contact with the persons involved, and more context.

The same holds true with today's reporting on last night's Speak Out, an event where women and men relate stories of their experiences with sexual assault and its aftermath. Instead of an article focusing on the nature of the event, the reasons for holding it, or something of that nature, they choose to dwell at length on one woman's story—clearly, the story that is the most shocking and, indeed, most personal. I do not know if the writer of the article received permission to quote from this woman's speech at length or to quote her at all—I know that there were some guidelines for the press laid down at the beginning of the event, and I'm not clear on whether the writer followed those guidelines. Certainly, the writer was under no legal obligation to do so, but she also was under no obligation to write the article in the way that she did—that is, luridly.

It's not tough to write in a way that does not sensationalize things, and honestly, The D really doesn't need to plump its circulation numbers with big-draw stories. These "scoops," this yellow journalism—it's not necessary for any actual journalistic purpose. It's not even good journalism—it's power-tripping, plain and simple. Maybe we should be use to it—3/4ths of the campus is on a power trip at one point or another (God knows I have mine), but The D's are a little more impactful, a little less responsible, a little more common.