December 30, 2009

Up in the Air

George Clooney has done it again.

As Ryan Bingham in the newly released 'Up in the Air', Clooney portrays the life of a man who makes a living firing others. This movie does not mean to please. Along the way, the audience is swept into his world-- and is made to feel the pain that many Americans have recently felt, the pain of job loss. After years of dedicated service, employees are given less than an hour to pack up there belongings; and for many, the hope for a better and brighter future seems unlikely.

Bingham, afraid of commitment, cherishes his traveling time-- and hopes to reach ten million miles of travel. He rarely engages with family, and runs away from relationships, until one relationship is thrown at him-- the mentor/mentee relationship which is forged by the arrival of Natalie Keener (played by Anna Kendrick, the annoying 'best friend' of Bella Swan in Twilight). Forced to show her the ropes of his business, Bingham begins to realize what he has been missing, but has he figured it out too late?

Highly enjoyable, with a twist.

Go to the theatre.
Rent it.
Skip it.

Sherlock Holmes

For those eager to see Robert Downey Jr. in fine form, Sherlock Holmes is exactly what you are looking for. In his newest film, Downey portrays the witty, albeit crazy Sherlock Holmes to the tee.

The movie, depicts Sherlock Holmes and his constant companion James Watson on another mystery-- one which combines wizardry and murder (considering the recent popularity of the supernatural, altogether not surprising). Mark Strong plays the villainous Lord Blackwood, who hopes to eventually rule the world.

The dialogue is hilarious, and well thought out, the plot less so. The plot is twisted and definitely intriguing, but little is explained properly. However, Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. make up for the movie's confusing plot with entertaining banter; and their chemistry is worth the movie ticket.

Go to the theatre.
Rent it.
Skip it.

December 29, 2009

The frozen South

Overheard at Orlando International Airport, 6 a.m. at the curbside check-in (ambient temperature: 39 degrees Fahrenheit):

Woman: Oh my god, what is wrong with this state? It's f--ing freezing!

December 27, 2009

Our Newest Enemy: Chocolate Milk

It appears the United States has yet another enemy to battle; yet another argument to deal with.

Recent studies have shown that chocolate milk contains an excess amount of sugar-- and along with the sugar, calories. In fact, an 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk contains the same number of calories as a 12 ounce glass of soda. According to Ann Cooper, the director of nutrition services in Boulder, Colorado (a very progressive city), a child is likely to put on 3 pounds a year if they were to consume a glass of chocolate milk every day.

Of course, there are many reasons why people are hesitant to remove chocolate milk from school cafeterias. Chocolate milk meets with the approval of many children, who would otherwise completely avoid chocolate milk. For the dairy industry, chocolate milk, in school cafeterias, makes up a relatively large segment of their sales. If chocolate milk was banned from schools, consumption would decrease, as would sales.

Marlene Schwartz, from the Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity does not see the need for this recent 'panic'. She personally does not agree with the argument that children would lose essential nutrients if they did not drink chocolate milk. In fact, Schwartz points out that there are only 60 additional calories in chocolate milk-- hardly enough to make someone obese easily.

Whose side are you on?

December 22, 2009

Christianity and Suicide

For centuries, many Christians have taught that suicide is an unpardonable sin. The Catholic Church maintains that teaching to this day. But is it Biblical?

To read the rest of this post, go here.

December 18, 2009

Joseph Lieberman.

Recent news has brought Joseph Lieberman's power to the forefront. A supposed Democrat, in many ways, Joseph Lieberman has proven to be fickle in his views, and at this current time, his fickleness has actually given him more power than one would like him to possess.

Joseph Lieberman has the Democrats pandering to his will. First the senator was for buying into medicare, but as of this week, he is opposed to it.

Ultimately, the fate of our medicare system will be dependent on Joseph Lieberman. Scary, isn't it?

Check out this video:

And then:

Christianity and the Enlightenment

Evangelical Christianity and modern enlightenment ideals are often thought to be in direct contradiction. But I’ve come to think the opposite is true...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

December 16, 2009

How Much Are You Worth?

How should we decide how much occupations are worth? In the US we use a market system. The greatest determinant therefore of what the highest worth professions are is simply what people are willing to pay for the services a profession provides...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

December 15, 2009

Review: The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point is a commercially accessible examination of how trends start and flourish, which is much like pandemics. Gladwell has a talent for explaining large concepts in succinct, clear writing, expounded upon by numerous examples and weaved together through engaging tales. I found Tipping Point more cerebral than Blink, but still a bit too 'accessible' for the educated reader. Also, much of the analysis of the book appeared to be retro-justifications of particular trends, generalizing most of the contributing factors into Gladwell's construction, muting the others, and ignoring trends that may have run completely counter. I would have liked to see a prediction made based on the theories presented to test them and provide falsifiability, but that would have been above and beyond the call of duty.

Read it.
Skim it.
Toss it.

A beautiful Christmas song that isn't very Christmas-y

Please excuse the performer (Tim Minchin)'s hair and enjoy this wholesome song, in tune in content, celebrating the observance of Christmas by those who'd "rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu". In particular, look out for my favourite moment, quoted below.

"I-- don't go in for ancient wisdom.
I don't believe just 'cause ideas are tenacious it means that they're worthy.
I-- get freaked out by churches.
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are dodgy.

And yes, I have all of the usual objections to the mis-education
of children who in tax-exempt institutions are taught to externalize blame,
and to feel ashamed, and to judge things as plain right or wrong.
...But I quite like the songs"

Overheard: Stop slacking, ticket lady

Over the loudspeakers at Orlando International Airport:
"Paging Sally xxx, Sally xxx, to a Southwest ticket counter... to do your job."

December 14, 2009

The Poor Queen

First Miley Cyrus, then Lady GaGa... what next?


While greeting the Queen....

Performing for the Queen....

And, of course, Lady GaGa:

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. is an eye-opening movie.

Don't get me wrong, I was well-aware that companies in America are always out to make a profit, but the manner in which some companies seek profits is disgusting.

For example, Smithfield, a company which produces vast amounts of poultry, knowingly hires illegal workers for their factories in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Illegal? Yes, but Smithfield has come to an agreement with the government that they will give the government some of the names of the illegal immigrants periodically if they are allowed to continue this practice.

What's scarier about this situation? The fact that companies are 'giving up' their workers (who although illegal, are still responsible for helping produce the goods) or the fact that the government knowingly allows companies to function like this?

The movie brings to light the way that chickens and pigs are kept before slaughter. Chickens are kept in small, cramped, and often dark rooms, where there is little space and unsanitary conditions. Chickens are meant to grow to full maturity in about three months-- thanks to new methods of production, chickens can grow in half the time. This often means that the chickens are unable to walk more than two steps because their organs grow much faster than the rest of their bodies.

Pigs are kept in similar conditions-- small, cramped rooms; and little concern for their comfort. Why? Because food production companies consider pigs 'temporary' visitors.

Although the meat industry is particularly disgusting, vegetarians don't have it easy either.

Consider the fact that over 90 percent of food products contain corn. Why? Because the corn industry is relatively huge in the United States. In fact, approximately 30 percent of land in the U.S. is set aside for corn production.

After watching the movie, I think that I was most shocked by the amount of power that food companies have. The government, scared to control companies, chooses to support them, rather than us.

Words of advice from the moviemakers:
1. Eat organic.
2. Try to eat together as a family.
3. But healthy products-- our demand for better products informs businesses that we want better quality.

Watch what you eat, because the food companies do NOT have your interests at heart.

Bruschi adds: Also look up my review.

The '14s Are Coming


So, it's that time of year again... and no, I'm not just talking about the holidays. Surprise, surprise- it's early decision time! Remember, '13s, last December, when some of us (though not yours truly) were waiting anxiously to hear whether we'd gotten in to Dartmouth? Well, as short a time it seems has passed since that monumental day, it's been a whole year...

And the '14s are on the way. Four hundred and sixty-one of them, in fact. Incredibly enough, there are more '14 early decision kids than '13 ED-ers, due to a decision by Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris '84 and President Jim Yong Kim to enlarge the freshman class despite the college's recent financial difficulties. Seems as though there will be even more freshmen this September than there are now! (Imagine that, '11s- you'll have even more fresh faces and names to learn before you graduate.)

As usual, the newest class' admission stats are off the charts, and Dean Laskaris has nothing but good things to say about the incoming freshmen. I'm sure when they arrive here for their weekend stays and programs (get excited for Dimensions, everyone!) the whole campus will come together to celebrate their awesomeness. I remember not so long ago when the campus did that for my class. Ah, my fellow '13s, we're old...

Just kidding. But it is striking to realize that soon a new class of freshmen will come to work hard and play hard in the hallowed halls of old Dartmouth. All I can say is, welcome, '14s, to the Dartmouth family- I'm sure you'll do Dartmouth proud!

December 10, 2009

Behind the Numbers: Maine and Gay Marriage

Last month, proponents of equal rights for same-sex couples were sorely disappointed at the result of a ballot question in Maine. Adding insult to injury, many pro-equality groups were quite confident on election day due to polling models predicting their victory, only to see an early lead in the precinct returns evaporate as the night dragged on.

Even this writer predicted that the referendum to overturn Maine's law legalizing gay marriage would fail. And most agreed. had "No" to Proposition 1 leading going into Election Day; and Nate Silver of created a model, based on several variables, likewise predicting that Prop 1 would fail.

After the election, Harry Enten '11 went back and looked at Mr. Silver's model. With a lot of data mining and some top-notch statistical skills, Mr. Enten created a linear regression model to predict the outcome of referenda concerning gay marriage much more accurate than that of Mr. Silver. To quote Mr. Enten:

The average difference between the model's predicted support for an amendment in an election and the actual support for the amendment was 2.69% (compared with Silver's 4.46%). Importantly, this difference was greater than 2.00% in only 4 instances (Michigan 2004, Montana 2004, North Dakota 2004, and South Dakota 2006) and greater than 4.00% in only two (Michigan 2004 and North Dakota 2004) [of 25 total observations].

In other words, this model is quite good.

Because of his work and the impressiveness of the model, Mr. Enten was picked up by as a guest pollster. If you're curious about what went wrong in Maine, and how we can best predict races like this in the future, I suggest you check out his entry, and keep an eye out for more of his work in the future.

(For an example of a predictive model gone bad, check this out.)

Huckabee Isn't Finished

Mike Huckabee is in hot water for his pardoning of a man who went on to commit murder in Tacoma, Washington. Some people are even saying that the decision will cost him a second chance to run for President. After all, Willie Horton helped do Michael Dukakis in...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

December 9, 2009

Bored @ Baker, out of commission!?

It seems that Bored @ Baker, the frat-tastic anonymous online message board catering mostly to Dartmouth's lowest common denominator, is temporarily out of commission! The usual messages speculating which '11 is a total homo, which frat is A-side, which sorority has the most sluts, what baton-death-march-esque hiring process Linda Gridley has for interns, and where in the Upper Valley people an find the most competitively-priced piping-hot calzones (hit: Cuttings North-side Cafe), are all gone! Jon Pappas, the creator of the immensely popular site took it away from us because he discovered that -- wait for it -- it was full of racism hate speech! (gasp!)

Well no fucking shit, Sherlock, why the hell do you think people read Bored@Baker? What does every anonymous person post on the internet? It certainly isn't cooking tips or bible quotes. The anonymous nature of the site begs us to gossip about each other, and homophobia (and homoerotism, as it turns out) are a quick step away. It seems like every time Mr. Pappas came by Bored@Baker, presumably riding Bambi and with an entourage of rainbows and magical butterflies, the Bored@ crew (cough - Phi Delt) were all on their best Sunday School behavior. Seriously Jon, how could you fucking miss it? Haven't you even read the news stories you posted about B@B?

Below is what Bored@Baker currently looks like. Click the pic to enlarge. The message is also block quoted below. For god's sake, Jon, use some capital letters.

dear friends,

i have temporarily suspended boredatbutler and other similar boredat sites. recently, our community has been under attack by a very small group of people. these people troll the site with the purpose of killing the community with slanderous and racist comments.

i do not condone hate speech or racist comments and i will not allow boredat to exist if:
1. it does not accurately represent the general opinion of its community.
2. it does not have the ability to self-moderate.

service has been temporarily suspended until we can devleop the right codes for it to take care of itself. but i need your help.

if you would like to build boredat with me, please send me an email at jonpappas{at} if you are interested, i'd be happy to discuss with you the purpose and the vision of boredat. boredat is built with php/mysql/javascript/xhtml and css. if you know these technologies and would like to code and collaborate with me, in whole or in part, let me know. coding remotely and on your own time is ideal. i am looking for one volunteer per ivy league school to be a part of this project. this will be the founding team. contact me quickly because some slots have already been filled and they will go quickly.

kind regards,

dated 12/8/09

Review: Queer London

A dry, technical, and academic look at queer subculture in London between 1918 and 1957. Interesting in that it reduces to a science the rather inexpressible notions and progressions of gay life. There is certainly a parallel to be found between the passive->excluded->marginalized->subculture->pride progression of gays and other social movements. Houlbrook tries to weave in personal stories that humanize the concepts presented, and while he does a good job in those parts, the people reading such a book are in no need of convincing; the parts serve only to make the technical bits endurable. A great book, I'm sure, for academics, but not for pleasure reading.

Read it
Skim it
Toss it

More on Tiger Woods

Should we hold Tiger Woods to a higher standard because he’s a celebrity and has so much money? That is a question lots of people are asking as the media continues to focus on Woods’ infidelity...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

December 8, 2009

Good-bye Fall 2009!

After finishing my linguistics gauntlet this morning, I'm back home in Upstate NY wishing you all a speedy and happy return home for the holidays. If you're still in Hanover, good luck! A storm is a-coming with snowfall estimated up to a foot.

I'll end the term with three points:

1. LGB will continue sporadically over break and will resume in full at the start of the Winter 2010 term in early January. We are looking for new contributors and editors for that term so please blitz me if you want in.

2. In addition to making the Valley News, Jim Kim's weekly campus blitz, and the Dartmouth Daily Updates, Dartmouth's soccer-gate controversy was picked up by the illustrious IvyGate.

3. The Stonefence Review just published a couple variants I wrote of William Carlos Williams's poem This Is Just To Say, the original listed below. Check them out. I promise they're good.
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Have a great break and a happy holiday!

December 7, 2009

Snow is, indeed, made of H2O

Overheard at the Hop:

Girl: I forgot that when it snows, everything gets, like, wet.

Nat Turner: Martyr or Murderer

In the past few weeks, I’ve done a good deal of reading about slave revolts. In particular, I enjoyed reading accounts of Nat Turner’s revolts. In the course of the revolt, he killed civilians including women or children. So is he a hero or villain...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

December 6, 2009

Finals... Not the End of the World

Ah, final exams. Everyone loves them and everyone can't get enough of them and they're just great, aren't they? The professors are whistling through the halls at the thought of not having to grade any more papers, the students are out of their minds at the thought of having to take that one last monster of a test, and the DDS workers are rolling their eyes at the thought of seeing so many negative dining accounts and 1 am crazy study breaks. There's just one obstacle to everyone's happiness, and it's that last test lurking on Tuesday or Wednesday that's keeping us from enjoying our vacations.

So what do we do? Study, of course, like good little children. We work hard- the "play hard" part of the motto seems to be temporarily lost today, but then again we did have a great time celebrating the first snowfall on the Green last night. We drink those energy drinks that really are very bad for us, and order food that is even worse, and hope that the long-term effects of the phenylalanine and grease won't be too severe.

All we can do, really, is study and study and study, hopefully taking small breaks occasionally for water, food, sleep, and other essentials of life. It seems almost as though studying has become one of those essentials. Those of us who have finished our exams are over the moon and those of us who still have others are decidedly under it, and under the weather.

But soon- soon it will be over, and the grades will come out, and the reviews will all be posted on the Student Assembly website. And soon enough break will be over, too, and the holidays, and winter term will begin. I for one know that I'm looking forward both to break and to the start of winter term. It'll be nice to have some time off from work and it'll be absolutely wonderful to return to Hanover and see more freshly fallen snow... perhaps we'll have another snowball fight.

For now, my advice is this: sleep, eat, hydrate, and allow yourself to relax a little bit. It's almost vacation time, we just had our first snow, and soon you'll be able to destress. Remember, the holidays are almost here! And finals are almost over.

December 5, 2009

Overheard: Can vampires do that?

'10: One thing I don't get about Twilight is why doesn't Edward just turn Bella into a zombie!?

Snowing in Hanover

Get out and enjoy it. Your studying will still be there when you return.

Review: Bach, Beethoven, and the Boys

Billed as "music history as it ought to be taught," Bach, Beethoven, and the Boys offers a sarcastic, familiar, whirlwind tour of the greats from music history. As pleasure reading, the book offers a number of great details and funny stories from the way-side of history. As a textbook, the details about most musicians are trivial, the important stuff, forgettable, and the prose, too sarcastic to tell genuine from jest. In all, a rather frivolous read that music lovers would enjoy and everyone else would likely fail to appreciate.

Read it
Skim it
Toss it

December 4, 2009

Sounds like elections in China

The Dartmouth reports that Morton Kondracke ’60 of Newsweek and John Replogle ’88 of Burt's Bees have been nominated to be the Alumni Council candidates for the upcoming trustee elections. As to why only one candidate was chosen for each of the two seats, The Dartmouth reports this:
The Council elected to nominate only one candidate for each open position on the Board for the spring 2010 trustee race in order to better facilitate competition with petition candidates, Tom Daniels '82, chair of the Alumni Council Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth.
This sounds like China: the leaders choose the unopposed candidates and because there is voting, we call it democracy.

Jon Stewart has great taste in fashion

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the supplier of the skinny-tie suites Jon Stewart wears?

Looks like the correspondents take what they can get.

December 3, 2009

Chapter 1 in the Anarchist's Cookbook for Blitz?

This rather interesting and potentially dangerous annoying message was just emailed out to campus via BlitzMail. The sender was listed as the "MAILER-DAEMON", the address that usually sends Blitz notification messages, most commonly vacation messages advertising parties or acapella performances. A number of suspicious messages have been sent out to campus over the last few months from suspicious accounts. The example that stands out most in my mind occurred in the winter, sent out by "The Sphynx" to announce free tours to all those who showed up at their back door (this writer did not fall for the bait, but knows several who did).

It's no secret that the Blitzmail program is rather antiquated and simple for the precocious hacker to crack. I've heard of several people being able to send out messages from whichever name they wish. This person must be one of them.
--- Forwarded Message from MAILER-DAEMON ---

>Date: Thu, 03 Dec 2009 23:27:19 -0500
>Subject: Blitzbomb: An Informative Lesson
>To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Hello Dartmouth-

I am bored and tired of sending out pointless blitzes telling you
performances and events of all your friends. So I figured it was time to
teach you all a very valuable tool associated with blitz: the BLITZBOMB.

Blitzbombing is very simple and is a beautiful way to wreak havoc on
people's inboxes. To blitzbomb, you simply:
1) Create a blitz to someone
2) Bcc them 100 times
3) Send the blitz
And they instantly get 100 blitzes clogging up their inbox.

Now go, my minions. Blitzbomb the hell out of your friends and fill up
all of their inboxes with blitzbombs, giving me a break for once.
Unleash hell, and bring the Daemon inside of you out.

Happy studying for finals,


Review: Twilight

For those who thought that Twilight couldn't any worse after seeing the first movie.... it has.

In high school my friends were in to Twilight, and in an effort to 'fit in', I read the first book in the series. The language was terrible, but in all honesty, the story itself had some potential. I stopped after the first book, however.

When the first Twilight movie came out in 2008, I went my closest friends to see it. As they all concentrated stared at the screen, I found myself unable to contain my laughter-- especially during the Biology class scene.

This Thanksgiving break I went for round two of Twilight viewing..... and it was awful. At least in the first movie there was comedic relief. In the second there was nothing.

Even my mother (I went with my family for this one), after two hours of sleep (she was awake for maybe five minutes of the movie?), said this was the worst movie she had ever 'seen'.......

Although you probably weren't ever seriously considering the movie, take my advice. Avoid New Moon.

Overheard: The Sandwich Miracle!

Two very drunk and hungry SAEs put their coats on. The first reaches into his pocket.

SAE 1: OH MY GOD! (pulls out it out) I found a sandwich!

The two of them proceed to ravage it, tearing it up and wolfing it down, throwing condiments all over the hallway like confetti.

December 2, 2009

Afghanistan: A Vietnam?!

To those who claim that Afghanistan is President Obama's next Vietnam, consider this:

Vietnam was a war that the United States entered into without justified reasoning. The United States, fearing the spread of communism around the globe, entered Vietnam with the hopes that they could subdue the communist movement. We entered Afghanistan 8 years ago because of 9/11. This time there was a clear and definite reason for our entry.

Perhaps the truth is that Iraq was President Bush's Vietnam. Where was the justification? Why was 2003 the opportune moment to enter Iraq? If anyone understands, please explain.

And why focus on the comparison at all? I found that the most interesting part of President Obama's speech was that we have been in Afghanistan for 8 years. In March of 2010, the Afghanistan war will have become the longest in American history. Rather than comparing, let's talk about what can be done. Let's reassess our goals-- can we still catch Osama Bin Laden? Is that our current goal?

For more information visit:

Overheard: Putting the "ability" in "disability"

In Berry, two guys passing by.

Guy 1: Man these finals are going to kill my GPA.

Guy 2: Yeah, I wish I had some sort of mild form of dyslexia to excuse my stupidity.

The dangers of BMI and bureaucracy

Contentious debate has characterized the decision of Lincoln University to force students with a body mass index of 30 or above to take a mandatory fitness class in order to graduate. Some argue that it is discriminatory; some question the validity of the assumptions underlying the policy; and some feel that it is too intrusive and paternalistic of the college to interfere in a student's life in this way. Here I would like to address the biggest flaw in the program, which also is a major shortcoming of other college health policies: the assumption that body mass index is an accurate indication of a person's health.

Leave Tiger Woods Alone

As anyone who’s been paying attention to the news knows, Tiger Woods had a crash outside his home. The police want to talk to him. Maybe he was having an affair. Maybe he wasn’t. My reaction: I couldn’t care less...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

December 1, 2009

Overheard: There's something special about the Hop's mozz sticks

Two sweet-looking dudes are waiting to order at the Hop grill line. One sounds like he might not be from Dartmouth. One turns to the other.

Dude: Oh man, they don't have mozz sticks here, only mozzarella sticks.

Nerdgasm: Google Wave

Google Wave is out -- sort of -- and I am lucky enough to have lots of nerdy friends who are well-connected with the nerdy elite, and kind enough to give me an invitation. So I spent some time yesterday getting overwhelmed by the feature-rich beast that is Google's latest step in its quest to take over the world.

Some really cool things:
  • You can use Wave for a sort of instant message-E-mail hybrid, and watch your correspondents typing in real time. (This also means you can see their every typo, which has made me very self-conscious already.)
  • It supports embedding videos, images, maps, sudoku games, and a bunch of other things -- even conference calls.
  • You can use it to cooperatively edit a document with other people (really useful if you've got a group paper or presentation).
  • Playback: If you come in late on a conversation/collaboration, you can press the playback button to see a step-by-step playthrough of all the changes made so far.
  • Possibly the coolest thing, at least in my opinion: you can publish directly to a Blogger blog via the Bloggy bot (, meaning that you can have collaborative blog posts.
It's still in beta, so it still feels sort of awkward and clunky. It takes a little while to get used to the new commands and functions. And since the best features in it are dependent on you having lots of contacts to cooperate with, it won't reach its full potential until Google de-mystifies it by making it universally available. Even though the ability to post to a blog directly from Wave is cool, people who don't currently have Wave can't read your blog posts, which is obviously a bummer. They are supposedly going to change that, but for now it's kind of irksome.

As a note, eBay has numerous listings for Google Wave invitations, ranging from $0.99 for a "nomination" to $199.00 for an active link. Doesn't anyone remember Gmail? It was free -- eventually -- for people who had enough sense to realize it wasn't worth a heap of money to access the beta version a few months early. Still, someone's going to make a nice wad of cash off of the gullible and impatient. And it is a fantastic way for Google to create hype for their product. It's very smart marketing, when you think about it. There's a reason Google will rule the world someday.

Cap and Trade Won't Happen This Year

I have serious doubts about whether any cap and trade bill will get done this year in Congress, despite how much Obama and some Democrats want it...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

November 30, 2009

Overheard in front of Baker

'13 girl yelling loudly and looking at a bill: 608 dollars? 608 dollars?! I don't have 608 dollars. Fuck "Hanover ambulance service," I coulda walked there!

'13 girl's friend: The irony is, if you could have walked, you wouldn't have needed the ambulance.

In defense of "too-fat-to-graduate"

Controversy has been stewing around a policy at the historically-black Lincoln University requiring obese students (with a large waist and a BMI of 30+) to complete a physical education class before they graduate.

A number of students -- all obese, it seems -- have voiced outrage at this sensible policy because they see it as discriminatory and would rather see the requirement applied to everyone. However at Dartmouth, just as those who have poor proficiency at English have to enroll in Writing 2 and 3 (while others do not), and those without second language competency have to finish through the third level of a foreign language, and those who do not score highly on the math portion of standardized tests have to enroll in the lower-level Math 3 class, so too should obese students have to complete a P.E. class while their peers do not.

It's entirely appropriate to call this policy discrimination, but it's good discrimination. Obese students are clearly in need of this curriculum more than their thinner counterparts. In a perfect world, at a perfect Lincoln University, there would be ample funding to require physical education for all students. But when money's tight, it makes sense to target efforts; one group clearly seems to be in more need than others.

Writing in the school paper, 21-year-old Tiana Lawson complained "I didn't come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range. I came here to get an education which, as a three-time honor student, is something I have been doing quite well, despite the fact that I have a slightly high Body Mass Index." Well, Tiana, you may be getting good grades in your other classes, but if you're obese, you're failing in health and obviously could use some extra tutoring. That's like a Dartmouth student complaining about distributive requirements by saying he only came to college to study economics. Or an English major saying that she should graduate summa cum laude despite the fact that she keeps failing chemistry.

David Kairys, professor of law at Temple University Law School in Philadelphia, decried the policy as "paternalistic". Three words for you Dave: "in loco parentis." Colleges have a duty to their students to promote their safety and well-being. Unchallenged obesity at places like Lincoln undoubtedly robs more healthy years of life from students over the long-run than binge drinking ever could. Some think that the decision to enroll in these P.E. classes should be left up to the student. But, if the students are obese, they are clearly not making good decisions as it is. Can the college, acting in place of the parent, simply watch as the evidence of unhealthy behavior is paraded before its very eyes? It doesn't with alcohol. Should we as Americans be content to allow the gigantic externality costs -- in medical care alone -- caused by obesity to go without corrective action?

Lincoln University should be commended for this practical policy -- one that has the great potential for doing wonders in these kids' lives. Obesity is a major problem in Black America -- 4 out of 5 black women are overweight -- and it is inspiring to see a leading black university step up and set an example that all Americans should live by.

Happy Holidays!

It's that time again... Songs about jolly old men and red-nosed reindeers are beginning to pour from every stereo. Actually, they were beginning a few days ago (okay, so it's commercial frontloading, but we won't mention that) but now that it's past Thanksgiving more and more people are getting into the holiday spirit. Perhaps the thought of a white Christmas or holiday is helping to motivate the hanging of some lights and decorations (and the dancing of some snow dances, which I suppose can count as decorative). Perhaps it's the thought of finals and the manic energy they inspire.

But there's one tree that is not decorated- and that's the beautiful 30-foot tree sitting out on our Green. Donated by Sandy Allen of Hanover, the fir is just waiting to light up the campus and light up our exam-stressed lives. Rumor has it that Thomas Kim, the much-beloved son of our great President Kim, will light the tree, and that the Glee Club will sing some glee into the holiday air. I've heard that there will even be hot chocolate.

So this Thursday, at 5:15 pm, you know where you should be! Get into the swing of the holiday spirit and join all us other jolly people on the Green. It's the first day after classes end so you know you won't be doing that much work anyway- come help us celebrate the season!

Happy (and Green) holidays to all!

Law School is Useless

I’ve come to think that law school is a huge rip-off. You go to school for three years, accumulate a pile of debt, all to earn the right to take the bar exam. So I have an alternative...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

November 29, 2009

Review: Blink

Blink takes an interesting idea -- that the unconscious mind is both lightening fast and surprisingly efficient at making particular kinds of judgments -- and expounds upon it using numerous decently well-known examples from recent history. The unconscious cognition idea at the heart of Blink is actually rather straight-forward and easy to understand, but most of the book is deliberately repetitive and simplified to make it accessible to an even broader audience. While a number of the examples discussed show surprising applications to this counter-intuitive idea, the educated reader will find that his understanding of the subject is not marginally enhanced by any significant measure after the first chapter. In short: a breezy read that, unfortunately, didn't teach me as much as I'd hoped. Nice Thanksgiving-break reading, though. Easily finishable on two airplane flights.

Read it
Skim it
Toss it

November 23, 2009

Dartmouth loses one of its own

[In light of recent news concerning the death of a Dartmouth graduate student, I have removed my previous post from today. It will be reposted at a more appropriate time.]

From The Dartmouth:

"Henry Masters, a student in the master's of public health program at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, passed away this weekend after testing positive for the H1N1 virus. Masters had a chronic autoimmune disorder that College President Jim Yong Kim said in a campus-wide e-mail Monday afternoon was the "underlying cause" of his death." [FULL STORY]

Our thoughts go out to Henry's family and friends in this difficult time.

November 22, 2009

Review: Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra

"Da da da dum..." Who hasn't heard that famous motif? It has echoed through concert halls, practice rooms, and auditoriums more times than anyone could count. And Saturday at 8 p.m., it echoed through Spaulding Auditorium. It was resonant. Radiant. Beethoven's Fifth.

Call me a child of cliche if you like but I was struck by those chords. The powerful C minor can be abused and it can be raised to its potential; but Ludwig van Beethoven would have been proud last night because with Conductor Anthony Princiotti and a few key soloists (including Matthew Boyas '13) leading the way, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra took the Fifth beyond its potential into greatness.

It was an amazing night for classical music, that's for sure; in a brave leap of juxtaposition, the great Fifth was preceded by Bonnie Thron's stellar guest performance in Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major. Shostakovich and Beethoven are neither of them for the faint of heart, and neither of them easy to perform. One key mistake could ruin either. It was a courageous DSO that took on the dual challenge. The two epic pieces were accompanied on either side by Tchaikovsky: "Waltz from Serenade for Strings in C Major" to begin, and a surprise encore to follow.

Ms. Thron was superb and passionate in the Shostakovich; her solo cadenza stole my breath away. The french horn solo reminded me of a true "Vox Clamantis In Deserto," a beautiful voice crying out in the wilderness. And Shannon Draucker '13 performed an exquisite clarinet solo- the best I have ever heard.

All in all, it was a good night for DSO, Beethoven, Shostakovich, and every member of the audience. I don't think there was a soul there that night not touched by the might of the fiery sound emanating from the stage. The audience certainly showed its appreciation, rising to its feet after the Fifth and clapping enough to bring on the second Tchaikovsky.

The standing ovation was certainly well deserved.

The Daily Dartmouth is getting a make-over?

This is what The Dartmouth's website currently looks like. Perhaps they took a page from LGB and decided to get a make-over. I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like in full. The last upgrade was plagued with issues that even now have yet to be resolved.

November 20, 2009

The girl who cried racist

For those minorities having a difficult time understanding why the average suburban white family has problems empathizing with perceived racism: look no further than this article from The article outlines two versions of events that led to the arrest of Heather Ellis outside a Walmart. The first, shared by all five police officers and four people within the store, has Heather acting belligerently, cutting into a cashier line, pushing away the merchandise of a patron being checked out, screaming obscenities, threatening customers, disrupting store displays, resisting attest, threatening officers, kicking one officer in the shin, and kicking another in the face. The other version, professed only by Healther Ellis it seems, holds that she "was treated differently" and was called a number of racial epithets. Regarding her reason for arrest, it seems she pleads no contest.

Because the police force is largely white and Ms. Ellis is black, she instantly dropped the race-card and CNN ate that shit up so fast it got smeared all over its cheeks.

But what about the initial incident? What about the fact that this woman is a psycho and was a danger to everyone in that store? What about the crimes she committed? This is just another Skip Gates, Duke Lacrosse, Tawana Brawley, Jena 6-style mound of bullshit. In all these cases, minorities behaved badly or otherwise tried to blame whites for racism that simply is not there in order to distract the public.

Now, I recognize that racism exist. I believe that bigotry is a deep as it is wide-spread. I believe that no matter what, EVERYONE has prejudice. But to point to these examples as verification of that fact cheapens the real examples and turns whites off to very real cases of injustice whenever they happen. Heather Ellis, the cops who arrested you aren't keeping minorities down, YOU ARE.

November 19, 2009

What Do Women Want (in the workplace)?

I just ran across an interesting post from the New York Times about gender and level of satisfaction with one’s job. A study found that women need to make far less money than men do in order to find their jobs fulfilling...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

November 18, 2009

Palin Palavers

Last night, while walking home from Canoe Club with a friend, I predicted that humanity will have destroyed itself long before Frank Sinatra goes out of style. If we accept that to be true, I’d like to propound another prognostication: that Frank Sinatra will go out of style long before Sarah Palin is ever elected to national office.

In fact, despite how much her willing warriors may wish it, I’m not even sure she wants the Oval Office. If she does, she’s certainly not acting like it. Since “going rogue” on John McCain, she’s tripped over her own feet running to the far right wing of the Republican Party. And that pales in comparison to her decision to stamp “quitter” across the top of her resume this past July. Yes, she is enjoying widespread celebrity and secured one of the largest book deals in history; but it takes more than that to win an election. Sarah Palin is, then, either an epically good self-promoter or an epically bad politician. Or both.

For a moment, we’ll entertain the possibility that it’s the last option. The case for a Palin run on the presidency is not without merit. Her book tour, conducted in a conveyance vaguely reminiscent of those seen so often in the corn fields of Iowa and frozen mountain passes of New Hampshire, guarantees Palin more time in the national spotlight. And even after resigning the keys to the governor’s mansion, Sarah has not shied away from politics, opting instead to attempt a remolding of her party in her own image (see special election, New York 23rd).

Where Palin has increased her level of support among the conservative base, she has lost the trust of independents who were once willing to give her a shot. For every conservative she wins over, she’ll lose three independents in Ohio and every Democrat from the not-so-real areas of America. Public opinion research already shows the diva of conservative dogma with a negative net approval rating at -14 percent. And for a practical application of her doctrinaire powers, see how effective she was at electing a Democrat for the first time since the Civil War in upstate New York.

Politics and popularity are almost always very different games to play, and in the harshest terms, Sarah is a political loser. While both she and John McCain were victims of a larger trend in the American mood, Palin rallied the base whilst driving independents to the unpatriotic camp of Barack Obama, that friend of terrorism and all things Socialist. Take note of who won last November.

It’s fitting that Palin subtitled her book, “An American Life,” for only in America could a small town mayor who cannot name a single major American newspaper come within one hundred yards and one heartbeat from the presidency. And that level of social mobility is not a negative; it’s part of what makes the American story as singular as it is shared by all.

But the buck must stop somewhere, and for Sarah, it will stop shy of the oval office. The glitz and glamour of her celebrity might distract from her declining national brand, but come next fall when she ramps up her political machine for a run on Washington (or more appropriately, a run on Cedar Rapids and Nashua), she will realize that the American people would rather see her as a personality, not a president.

But don’t worry, Sarah: Frank Sinatra was never president, either.

The Hooverville under the stars and in the fairway

Two nights ago, I found myself unable to sleep and so with a friend of mine, who was drunk with the pride of getting a high-paying job offer (as well as alcohol), misadventured out to the Dartmouth Golf Course at 4 a.m. to see the Leonid Meteor Shower. This particular astrological spectacle occurs every every 33 years, and while the best viewing of it this year was in China (at ~300 meteors per hour), Hanover at 4a.m. with its ~30 meterors/hour wasn't too bad either.

We made it out to the golf course, stopping once to answer a mountain biker's question of where it was. Wading through the freezing mud, which is inconveniently invisible in the oily dark of the night, a number of rather brilliant streaks of light briefly scarred the cloudless sky and alerted us, by the resulting shrieks of pleasure, to the astounding number of students hidden around us. We climbed the large hill, and if you've been out there you'll know which one I mean. Atop, we found hoovervilles of students, pitched in blankets and sleeping bags, sharing in each other's company and the brilliance of atmospheric phenomena. While the identities of each person up there were indistinguishable, the smell of marijuana was not.

The overall shower was interesting, if not spectacular. Meteors were few, but cool to see, and more appreciable given their brevity and small number.

The point that I want to make in this story, other than to draw attention to late-night gallivanting that does not involve a masked graduate student with a light saber, is to point out that these happenstance moments -- where students are naturally drawn together by the spontaneity of an event -- are what we will remember when we look back on college decades after graduation. Appreciate them when you find them, and actively seek them out.

Got a story from that night? Share it in the comments.

Sarah Palin Goes Rogue

Sarah Palin is out with her new book, and touring to promote it. She even made a stop on the Oprah show—this would of course be the same Oprah who supported Obama for President last year. So now is as good a time as any to consider her chances for 2012...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

November 17, 2009

On January 1, 2010, it will become illegal for people in Illinois to text while driving.

Wait - why do you care about Illinois? Maybe because 18 other states, including New York, have already instated a similar ban.

It's true that texting while driving raises your chances of doing something stupid with your vehicle. But so do applying makeup, eating, fiddling with the radio, talking (even if you're on a headset), sneezing, and just about anything else that doesn't involve your complete concentration on the road. Maybe we can blame it on the multitasking generation, but I doubt it -- most of the distractions cited in this article have been around almost as long as cars have.

A teacher at my high school died a couple of years ago because he was changing the song on his iPod and crashed his car into another. His widow had to explain to his 4-year old daughters that Daddy was dead because he didn't like the song that was playing. It's not texting that is the problem; that's just another piece of the puzzle. The problem, perhaps, is that we can't unplug anymore -- not even to protect our own lives.

Equally irritating (and potentially dangerous) are people who text while walking. Look around you. Chances are, if you walk from Mass Row to Collis, you'll pass at least 5 people scurrying along hunched over their iPhones, madly texting away or checking blitz. This evening I walked from the Alumni Gym to Phi Tau and was physically run into not once, but twice, by people barreling along with their eyes glued to a tiny screen.

And they don't change that behavior in crosswalks, either. Drivers usually get all the heat when a pedestrian is hit in the road. But if the pedestrian is anything like the typical Dartmouth student -- that is, a jaywalker, a blitz addict, and secure in the belief that they are immune to disaster -- you've got to question whether the driver is wholly to blame.

I'm just waiting for the day that a driver collides with a pedestrian because both of them were texting. Maybe to each other. I will probably laugh at the irony.

I'm a terrible human being, aren't I?

Government Needs to Create Jobs

Despite the hundreds of billions in stimulus and the massive bank bailouts, the employment numbers are getting steadily worse. Some have urged that the government should explore more direct methods of job creation, such as simply hiring more people to work in government agencies. I think there is merit to the idea...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

November 16, 2009

Reason #67 I'm glad to be in a co-ed

Overheard by a friend:

guy on phone: we had to do this thing at meetings and it really messed up my
guy on phone:...
guy on phone: yeah. yeah i probably can't say
guy on phone: yeah, it involved a lot of throwing up."

Mmmmm... vomit in your sinuses. Nice.

Crime Alert

--- Forwarded Message from "Keiselim A. Montas, Interim Director of Safety and Security" ---

>From: "Keiselim A. Montas, Interim Director of Safety and Security"
>Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 15:55:13 EST
>Subject: Safety and Security Crime Alert
>To: Undergraduates in Residence:;, Tuck Students:;, Thayer Students:;, DMS Students:;, Arts and Sciences Graduate Students:;, All Faculty:;, All Staff:;

The Department of Safety and Security issues Crime Alerts to inform the
Dartmouth College Community of any incident which may potentially pose a threat
to the safety and security of Campus community members.
We encourage all community members to take an active role in crime prevention
by staying informed and taking personal safety precautions.

A female student living in an off campus apartment near campus reported that on
November 14, 2009 at approximately 3:20 AM she awoke in her bedroom to find an
unknown male standing near her masturbating. The woman yelled and the suspect
fled. Hanover Police and Dartmouth Safety and Security responded.

The suspect is described as a male, six feet tall wearing a baseball hat.

This incident is under investigation by Hanover Police.

The following safety tips are designed to help you take charge of your own
* Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.
* Lock your door when you are at home, lock your door when you are away, always
lock your door!
* Pull the shades to your room at night and lock your windows.
*When someone knocks on your door always ask "Who is it?" to ascertain it is
safe to open the door.
* Be wary of strangers, on foot or in cars, asking directions: It's better to
be rude than to be in trouble.
* If someone follows you, go to a place where there are other people, and call
the Department of Safety and Security immediately.
* Report any suspicious activity immediately, including anyone that makes you
feel uncomfortable.
* The Department of Safety and Security is available 24 hours a day, every day!

Department of Safety and Security:
Emergencies 603-646-3333 (6-3333 from Campus phones)
Non-Emergencies 603-646-4000 (6-4000)

Terrorist Mastermind To be Tried in Civilian Court

Khaleid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in civilian court. Is it a good idea? I think so...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

Review: The Rocky Horror Show

"Let's do the Time Warp again..." The refrain echoed through Moore Auditorium to applause, unabashed singing from audience members, and quite a few pelvic thrusts (including, some students were stunned to see, a few from the eminent Professor James Rice, the narrator of the performance). It was Saturday, November 14, 2009- or was it? Perhaps we'd travelled through time and space to a different universe. A strange universe, certainly...

Talene Monahon '13 and Jay Ben Markson '10 shone as Janet and Brad, a recently engaged, rather nice couple. Their chemistry and wide-eyed innocence were perfectly acted (and, later, perfectly corrupted). By unfortunate circumstance, as the Rocky tradition goes, the two were left alone on a rainy night near a convenient strange-looking castle. Who did the castle belong to? Why, Frank 'N Furter, of course, also known as David Mavricos '10, a self-described "sweet transvestite" from Transsexual, Transylvania- making his entrance from above wearing a rather sweet leather number.

There were a few crazy dance numbers right from the start, a couple of forays into the audience by Transylvanians, and introductions of some interesting characters. Among my favorites was Riff Raff, servant to Frank and played by Max Hunter '13 (do that Time Warp, Max!). Other rather appropriately (or, well, inappropriately) crazy performances were credited to Chiara Klein '10 as Magenta and the introductory Singer ("science fiction... double feature!"), Genevieve Adams '11 as Columbia (beautiful declarations of love and sacrifice are always welcome, especially from a Transylvanian version of Sandy from Grease), and Stephen Jangro '11 as the namesake of the show, Rocky Horror ("Are you sure you don't like guys with lots of muscles?"). Evan Ross '13 and Stewart Towle '12 made brief and hysterical performances as Eddie and Dr. Scott, respectively.

The ever-present crew of Transylvanians, of course, can't be forgotten: Neil Basu '11, Carol Brown '12, Amber Dewey '12, Anna Fagin '13, Samantha Knowles '12, Abby McCann '11, Max Moran '12, George Neptune '10, Nick Pulito '11, Cody Ruegger '10, Sidney Sands-Ramshaw '13, and Stephen Smith '13 sure made an impression on the audience. What would Rocky Horror be without a dedicated crew of dancing, singing Time-Warp-ers? And they fit the bill.

I certainly won't tell you that Rocky was appropriate for all ages, or any ages, for that matter- but I will say that it was pretty hysterical at times, complete with many additions from someone sitting up on the balcony ("Like weapons of mass destruction!"). It was incredibly fast-paced- intermission came very quickly and I don't remember being bored at any point in time. The set was obviously incredibly time-consuming to make and ended up very impressive; lighting and music were spot-on. All in all the production was masterful. The craziness, while certainly nothing short of all-out insanity, was choreographed perfectly. Kudos are due to Director Carol Dunne, Choreographer Gregory Daniels, and Music Director Louis Burkot.

Long story short, if you're up for being scandalized and whirling along for a crazy ride, give yourself up to the insanity and let the Time Warp take you over-- it's Rocky Horror time!

Performances are November 19, 20, and 21 at 8 pm as well as November 22 at 2 pm.

November 14, 2009

Birth Control and Islam

As our population slowly begins to grow in size, we have reason to be concerned. Considering the fact that we have limited space on our planet, I would say that our concern is a legitimate one. And apparently, many of the Islamic countries feel the same.

In Mazar-I-Sharif, Afghanistan, they are trying a new approach. What if Islamic leaders were educated in birth control methods, and encouraged their followers to do practice it?

The effort seems to be working. In 2009 itself, the sale of birth control pills has nearly doubled, from 6,000 to 11,000.

The sad truth? Many Islamic women have never been in contact with birth control. They have multiple children and are at the mercy of their husbands. The fact that Islamic women are afraid to take birth control pills, or to tell their husbands that they are taking them is shameful.

In this world that we live in, why are some societies old-fashioned? For future progress, acceptance of change is necessary; these classes are a change, but cultural beliefs must be altered as well.

For more information visit:

November 13, 2009

Obama's Options in Afghanistan

President Obama has yet to settle on a plan for Afghanistan. And little wonder. This is perhaps the toughest decision he’s had to make of his presidency. Most people agree that status quo isn’t working, so that leaves him with essentially two options...

To read the rest of this post, go here.

November 12, 2009

Bored @ Gridley

In addition to the calzones at Cuttings Northside Cafe, Matt Ritger's anti-frat manifesto, and Jim Kim being a total beast, one of the time-honored memes on the frat-tastic Bored@Baker is Linda Gridley, Dartmouth alumna and CEO of Gridley & Co: the "b-side" firm with the "a-side" sounding name and "a-shit-ton" of Dartmouth interns every term who do all her work. The running joke is that Gridley & Co, a "boutique" (e.g. ~10 employees) investment banking firm is better than MS, DB, and every other multibillion dollar finance company out there. Below are some of my favorite B@B gems.
i have a 3.99 gpa, AD president, President of squash and football, internship at gridley 3 times, and i had sex with linda gridley and i still didnt get a job at gridley
agree: [2]

i heard linda gridley actually poops sunshine
agree: [2]

I heard Gridley has 2 rejection letters: one to people who were varsity captains/AD presidents that says "Sorry" and one to normal applicants which says "Are you fucking kidding me" and Linda gridley will call them up to make fun of the[m]

The Linda Gridley Economics Scholars Program was initiated in 1768, one year before the founding of the College, and provides opportunities for juniors to research economics and financial issues on a regular basis. Applicants must have a 3.9 (or above) grade point average, social standing at or above Psi Upsilon Fraternity, membership in Dragon or Sphinx, and outstanding recommendations. One in ten scholars will be invited to apply for an interview at Gridley & Company LLC.
agree: [2] disagree: [1]

Fuck my life - my boyfriend & I were eating at Cuttings the other day and someone from Gridley, a very prestigious investment bank, called and gave him an offer for an internship. As soon as he heard that, he said "I'm dumpin your ass bitch, I'm too good for you now" and left me with the bill. At least the calzones were cheap
agree: [7] disagree: [1]

i heard snoop dogg, bruce springsteen, bob dylan, paul mccartney, radiohead, and linda gridley are playing on the green during winter carnival
agree: [1]

agree: [2]

I hear Gridley's pledge term is harder than psi u's
agree: [2]

i heard gridley pays $300 K base, $700 k sign on bonus, 5 bonuses a year each between$1000 and $10 million

REAL INTERVIEW QUESTION FROM GRIDLEY: perform a DCF on this cleveland steamer

cuttings: 3.7+ for interview, Gridley won't interview unless you are in Sphinx/son of Linda Gridley. She has 800 sons so being her son is still very hard to get into gridley

i heard gridley & Company requires 40 rounds of interviews to get an internship...and they are all with linda gridley

Introducing Dartmouth FML

Dartmouth now has its very own version of For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, FML is a collection of anecdotal stories illustrating the general hopelessness of the human condition through schadenfreude stories that could theoretically happen to anyone. Basically, any encounter you could rationally end by saying "f*** my life" to yourself.

The Dartmouth version is still in its infancy -- created, it appears, tonight -- but it has the promise of providing all the joy of FML through the uniquely green-tinted lens of Dartmouth Life. Below is my favorite of the current posts.

November 11, 2009

Your five o'clock Fail.

Exchange Fail:

Pleasing women fail:

Epic name fail:

Carrie Prejean- Idiot, Victim, Harlot

Carrie Prejean, the Glenn Beck of beauty pageants and former Miss California USA, has lost her crown and she knows exactly who's to blame: the Liberal Media and their conservative-women hating, free-speech destroying, smear campaigns. If one thing is for sure, it was definitely not Prejean's failure to meet contractual obligations nor was it her under-age sex tape that caused it. No, if anything, her liberal enemies invented that sex tape, the kind that is routinely used to prosecute youths as sex offenders, just to destroy her.

Ms. Prejean, pictured at right defending family values, came to prominence during the Q&A portion of Donald Trump's not-at-all-vapid Miss USA Pageant. Responding to a question from the quite out Perez Hilton, Ms. Prejean gave a resounding and articulate defense of "opposite marriage" to the displeasure of Hilton and a lot of the crowd.

In the ensuing controversy, Ms. Prejean became the Sarah-Palin-eque hero for thinly veiled conservative homophobia and the all-round paradoxical champion of family values. “Our bodies are temples of the Lord. We should earn respect and admiration for our hearts, not for showing skin to look sexy,” she said before she put on a skimpy bathing suit and paraded her cleavage on national television. How the hyporcacy doesn't suffocate her, I will never know.

Perhaps the best line in the article is this gem:
Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, saved Prejean’s Miss California crown. But she soon lost that, too, when pageant officials accused her of not meeting her contractual obligations. Prejean then sued, accusing pageant officials of libel, slander and religious discrimination, alleging that she was dismissed for her religious beliefs. The pageant countersued, demanding that she pay them back for the breast enhancement surgery they paid for.
Oh Snap!


A group of girls singing the Mulan theme in front of Hitchcock:
Girl 1 (singing): Let's get down to business-to defeat the hordes!

Rest of the group: Wait, isn't the song about huns?

November 10, 2009

Liveblogging Dr. Chu: The Happy Soldier

Today, PoliTALK and the Daniel Webster Legal Society hosted a special lunch for Dr. David S. C. Chu, the baritone-voiced CEO of the Institute for Defense Analyses and former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in the George W. Bush administration. First and foremost, Dr. Chu is a partisan, but not in the political way. If there is one flag he carries, it's the banner of the Department of Defense. Just about every problem that the DoD gets blame for is someone else's fault. And I believe him.

Exhibit one: The Constitution. The Senate declares war and the President fights it; the Army does not set its mission. Congress sets the statues and the DoD enforces it; "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was not our idea. The State Department requires guard forces and instead of bolstering its diplomatic security branches, it hires Blackwater. The DoD is just a tool-- like a gun on the table. Completely incapable of doing good or harm without the guidance of someone to pick it up and use it.

Dr. Chu is emphatic about the volunteer nature of the U.S. Military. If the soldiers don't want to be there, he doesn't want them. Under his leadership at DoD, a reassignment program was instituted to allow GIs to bid to change their deployment, thereby allowing each solider to serve according to their preferences. I asked him about the fate of those soldiers who joined to fight terrorism after 9/11 and instead found themselves in Iraq. He said that this new program was designed to counter disagreements in mission, as well as aligning preferences for location and duty. Incentive pay for difficult-to-fill missions is the kind of smart management that the DoD now embraces.

When asked about the roll of contractors, Dr. Chu thinks it's much ado about nothing. Why waste the time of a GI to be a cook when you can just contract out to catering companies? Efficiency, lower price, and freeing up GIs for soldiering are the benefits.
"But what about mercenaries like Blackwater?" I ask.
"I know people have their complaints but they keep writing to the wrong address. Personal security is not really a duty of the Armed Forces. Even outside military bases, the guard personnel are civilian. If the State Department wants to get off security contractors, they should increase their diplomatic security branch, not complain to me."

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? Well this is college so someone asked about it. "If Clinton -- a usually astute politician -- hadn't stepped in and made it an issue, Defense would have sorted it out ourselves. In the past, to get out of duty, people might say 'I'm a homosexual' and their superior would discharge them. Honorably, that is. Now, people might say 'I'm gay' and their superior says 'Alright... get back to work.' Only a couple hundred are discharged each year for a homosexual lifestyle out of tens of thousands for other reasons. We'll get there [allowing gays to serve openly], but it will be some time."

At his lecture, the Brooks Family Lecture, he reiterated these points and the general outline of his introduction: the Army is lean and mean, we operate in an uncertain world, our capabilities must be diverse to deal with the changing situations, and we must capitalize on our most valuable asset: human capital.

I'll leave my talking to Mr. Daniels

Great satire from The Onion:
Ah, pardon me, milady. May I have a word? I trust you're enjoying tonight's festivities? I should say I am. Nothing stirs the blood quite like an evening of dancing, conversing, and libations, wouldn't you say? My apologies for the confusion; while I'm aware that you have been speaking with the gentleman here, I should let you know that, as he has now imbibed a considerable proportion of my contents, the conversational duties will henceforth fall to yours truly.

I think we've heard quite enough from him by now, anyhow. Keep Reading

Not the best, just the most available.

"Oh", he said. He scrawled a quick note, and slid the sheet back into the folder. He put the f***ing sheet back into the folder. Right f***ing in front of me!

If there is one thing corporate recruiting has taught me, besides the value of adjectives like "a-side" and "b-side," it's that a lot of the firms in Dartmouth's corporate recruiting program, once the veneer of plush business cards and professional sounding corporate names are removed, are extremely JV. Far too "b-side" for the average Dartmouth man and definitely for the Ivy League. Let's take an example that happened to "a friend of mine."

After being accepted for a first-round interview via DartBoard, the Career Services's online corporate recruiting program, "my friend" was invited to the customary pre-interview meeting held at the Hanover Inn the night before the interviews. The firm, which describes its employee base as either "35" or "100" depending on how honest they feel like counting auxiliary staff of their parent corporation that only technically share the same offices and have no connection to their company, sent three representatives and conducted their meeting as a quasi-informal cocktail party.

"When will you host second-rounds?" one student asked.
"We'll have them on Friday, the day after your interview tomorrow." one said. The students all looked at each other.
"We weren't told about that and a lot of us have second rounds out of town that we have already made travel plans to attend. When will your alternative day be?" Career Services requires that employers have at least two options for second round interviews to ease the burden on students.
"Hmmm. We could fly you down to D.C. but I think we'll only consider special arrangements on a case-by-case basis." More looks.

The next day rolls around and "my friend" has one of the first interview slots. He finishes the case perfectly and with a chunk of time to spare. After the usual post-case Q&A, the interviewer pulls out a second-round interview form. On it are five questions.

"So to reach you tonight, your cell number on the resume is best?" the interviewer asks, to a nod, and writes a note after question 1.

"When will you be free tomorrow?" He asks next.
"I actually am leaving campus today, right after this interview and won't be back until Saturday."
"Oh", he said. He scrawled a quick note, and slid the sheet back into the folder.

"Ugh, don't you want to know my work status?" "my friend" asked, reading the unanswered 'question number 5' off the sheet?

"Mmmm... alright, are you authorized to work in the U.S.?"
"Yes I am."
"Great" he said, sliding the paper back in the folder without recording the answer.

"My friend" thanked him for his time and left. At 4:30 he got a voice mail beginning with "unfortunately...", the subtext of which was "we don't take the best, just the most available." The B-side of B-side.

November 9, 2009

One Wheelock and McLaughlinization

One Wheelock, née Lone Pine Tavern, is opening for business on the 12th and I'm rather excited to see how it will turn out. Particularly, I'm curious what kind of food offerings it will have that Lone Pine was not able to produce with reasonable cost efficiency. Just muffins and coffee? Reducing costs was the whole reason behind closing Lone Pine, after all. I also heard a rumour that the person who donated the funds for One Wheelock's operations did so on the condition that the new establishment not retain the Lone Pine name.

Taking a peek in the window, I was extremely disappointed to see everything that gave Lone Pine charm (the wood panels, banners, yearbooks) had all been McLauighlinized into the Dartmouth-dorm-standard white walls. Hopefully this is just the result of temporary refurbishing and some character will quickly return to this place billed as a comfortable hangout for the Collis crowd.

As a more general aside, the McLaughlinization of campus spaces -- e.g. the uniform design seen in Faye/McLane, New Hamp, Hitchcock, and the entire McLaughlin Cluster -- while producing nicer living arrangements than the East Wheelock era, is standardizing dorms to the point that there is little left, save location, which stand them apart. Intricate handrails, fireplaces, and dark-woods give dorms their own unique charm that make them fell more cozy. More like home. Even if the Mclaughlin design offers the best design, it might be good to alter it a bit in future refurbishments to prevent a laboratory feel to them all. I think I should, at the very least, be able to tell which dorm I'm in by looking at its interior.

Jim Kim: Cost-Cutter

Joe Asch at DartBlog has some interesting data analysis on the rise of Dartmouth's HR costs over the last decade.