April 28, 2010
ugh. I can only imagine the damage this would have done if it happened over dimensions.
April 26, 2010
This "reception" -- which I swear to god was a "dinner" on my banner student in previous years -- is little more than "snacks for seniors". Students of age jump through hoops by bringing government ID and putting on plastic bracelets for the privilege of drinking champagne only a step or two better than André. Odd selections of edible, but not great, finger food are put out on small tables for hundreds of '10s to swarm around. Alumni from the class of 1960 are there to mingle, but with no specific purpose.
The event begins with a 'few remarks from our fellow '10s' and we soon discover that the entire evening is just one big selling of student government after college. We meet the SEC (senior executive committee) and watch a video they produced in which the twenty or so of them describes at painful length who they are and what exactly they are suppose to do. The video ends with bloopers, which could only be funny to the people appearing in them and are almost as long as the entire preceding presentation. A lull in the speeches emerges and you continue your marathon of standing awkwardly, waiting for Jim Kim to come at end and save you from having to continue standing awkwardly listening to more speeches. Someone gets up and extols the virtue of giving back financially to the school. He points to the oft-quoted statistic that even full-tuition-paying students have half their tuition subsidized, and you wonder in amazement how on earth Dartmouth could possibly cost $100k per year per student. The more you think about it, the more Dartmouth's tremendous fiscal shortfall makes sense.
Another alum comes up and gives his top 10 list of advice for young alums: numbers 7 though 9 on the list are 'not being Joe Asch'. As all the tables run out of food and lemonade, your legs get more tired, and the speaker comments on how nice the evening is and how many of these exact events you'll get to go to when you're active in alumni affairs. yippie.
Jim Kim takes the stage and for the first time in the evening everyone is silent. He talks about dimensions and cracks a few jokes about how easily Dartmouth alums cry when thinking about Dartmouth, and how silly "Brown people" are (he means the Alumni of Brown University). The program ends, and though you are invited to stay and continue to mingle, you leave immediately so you can go to Foco and get some real food. As you look around foco, you notice everyone else from the Daniel Webster reception is there too. Oh, and they never explain why the thing is named for Daniel Webster.
For the love of god, don't waste your time going to this event. The whole thing is so half-assed, I'd rather just cut it entirely and save Dartmouth the money.
April 24, 2010
That was the topic of the Dartmouth Political Union debate for prospective students visiting campus over Dimensions, the admitted students weekend. Shocking and controversial in a line-up of events designed to zealously sell Dartmouth to the admitted students, this debate was designed to offer the most balanced look at Dartmouth available at Dimensions and show the DPU's unflinching commitment to fostering topical debate.
The room was completely packed. Every chair was filled, every space on the side stairs was used, and kids even sat on the floor in the very front of the room. Chris Kendig '10 and John Lee '11 both volunteered for the difficult task of arguing against Dartmouth in a loyal opposition sort of way. Their arguments were valid: drinking is rampant and low in quality, flair is the pervasive fashion sense, winter is cold, and really deep conversations are largely confined to freshmen dorm rooms. John proclaimed that "Dartmouth is like yogurt, and not because we're all white (laughter). It's because we're one homogeneous culture."
Will Hix '12 and I took on the pro-Dartmouth case. In my speech to the crowd, I explained that there is a presentation for parents and a different one for students, and that I will be giving both. The one for parents focused around numbers and looking at Dartmouth as a return on investment. As Dartmouth graduates make the most money of any university graduates in the country, our ROI is supreme and the benefits of membership in the Dartmouth Alumni body are many.
In the presentation for Dartmouth, I talked about the very first thing President Wright ever said to me during freshmen orientation -- "Welcome home" -- and how from that moment until the present day, that's exactly where I've been. I've been home. And I used the remainder of the time to talk about all the reasons I love Dartmouth: from the way that no matter which direction you approach Hanover, the first thing you see rising out of the hills is Baker Tower, to the benefits the D plan has personally given me in terms of study abroad opportunities. I ended with the following lines:
"...[And if someone asked me why I loved Dartmouth], I'd tell them about the feeling I get when at 6pm the Bell Tower plays the Alma Mater. And from now until the day I die, I'll think about all of these things ever time I look down at my graduation ring. And years from now, when I return to campus, and cross the green at 6pm and hear the first lines of that song, I'll know that I'll be home."
During our question and answer time, one prospie girl asked me -- as the leader of the pro-Dartmouth side -- for one thing that I would want to change about Dartmouth.
me: Though the college works really hard to bring in entertainment from out of town, the fact that we are so far away from Boston or New York makes it feel rather isolated at times. I frankly have no idea why Wheelock chose this hill of all places to put his school, but I'd want to move it an hour or so south if I could.
D'12: I can answer why Dartmouth is in Hanover. It's because it was founded to teach Native Americans and here's where the native students were.
me: then I'd move the Native Americans. (laughter)
The crowd was simply perfect-- the right combination of parents and students -- and our balance in tone between being funny and serious perfectly matched it. After the debate and vote were finished (the resolution failed unanimously), the students came down to mingle with the DPU leaders and many of them sought me out to tell me how much much easier their decision was after seeing my presentation. It was such a rush to defend Dartmouth so publicly and it makes me sad that this was perhaps my last opportunity to do so.
April 22, 2010
Vanessa Sievers ’10, a Democrat, hasn’t had the easiest time as Grafton County treasurer. She was elected in 2008, gaining national attention after her Republican opponent Carol Elliott attacked her for being a “teenybopper.” After taking office, she was criticized by some local officials for being lackadaisical in handing county funds. Even after successfully passing her investment plan last year, the county commission just asked Ms. Sievers to stand aside, according to an Associated Press wire story.
And they're right to do so. As unpleasant as it is, Ms. Sievers should resign her post.
During the 2008 election, I was working for the Democratic coordinated campaign effort in the Upper Valley. When Elliott launched her ridiculous attacks on Ms. Sievers, we were understandably outraged. The treasurer’s job just entails parceling out the county’s funds between local banks, and it was preposterous to assert that a student at a school like Dartmouth wasn’t up to the task.
That was, of course, what we assumed before we saw Ms. Sievers in action.
Are some of the attacks on Ms. Sievers politically motivated? Sure. Commissioner Ray Burton, a Republican, has been critical of Ms. Sievers since day one, and rather unfairly so. Many of his comments have smacked of vendetta against the candidate who ousted his Republican co-worker.
Some things, though, are pretty clear. Ms. Sievers did not move quickly to design and implement an investment plan after her election. She also failed to attend several meetings, instead opting to e-mail her contribution to the commissioners. Many local Democrats defended her, explaining that she just has a different way of communicating “from us old geezers” on the county commission, according to Commissioner Martha Richards (D).
Last year, Sievers explained that she was busy, but was working hard and was in e-mail contact with local officials. This round, Ms. Sievers claims that she didn’t know when meetings were taking place. (Nevermind that the schedule is posted online.)
For Ms. Sievers, it’s been one excuse after another. She has failed to be proactive, failed to attend meetings – and therefore, failed to execute the duties of her office. And what Ms. Sievers does not seem to understand is that being county treasurer isn’t the same as being the College Democrats’ treasurer – this is taxpayer money and it should be handled with care. You don’t just blitz in your contribution, you take the time to show up. If you don’t know when the meetings are, you take thirty seconds to find out.
Ms. Sievers isn’t just hurting herself, she’s damaging the credibility of those who fought for her in 2008, and those college students everywhere who want to run for office in their own communities. Ms. Sievers had her chance – and then another, and another still.
The commission is right, Vanessa, it’s time for you to go.
>From: Holly A. T. Potter
>Date: 22 Apr 2010 11:48:15 -0400
>Subject: The D article yesterday
>To: (Recipient list suppressed)
>Reply-To: Holly Potter
On April 21, The D reported:
Academic Skills Center tutors are available to help students understand course material, but a member of the Class of 2013 who wished to remain anonymous said that she knew several students who have the Center's tutors complete assignments for them. She added that her friends use the center in this manner because they are driven by "pressure to do well and keep up academically."
"[They'd] bring in tests and get their tutors to do the whole thing," she said.
--- end of quote
My assumption is you can imagine how disappointed I am with this report in the D yesterday.
Those of you who have attended tutor training sessions, I believe, have a clear understanding of the gravity of this allegation. The Tutor Clearinghouse has never been tainted with an academic honor principle violation of which I am aware. Those who have attended training sessions are aware that it is my philosophy that all Dartmouth students are bright and every one of you has every opportunity before you to excel academically. Those of you who have attended training sessions know that I am all about empowering all students on campus to meet their academic potential – at whatever level that may be.
I recognize that information presented in The D can be inaccurate. Whether or not this assertion is accurate is moot at this point; perception is reality. What you are likely unaware of is the regular debate that is carried on between me and faculty who have a dim view of the work that the Tutor Clearinghouse has accomplished. What was presented today will only serve to reinforce a deeply embedded perception by faculty that does not represent the majority of those of you who facilitate the good work for the Tutor Clearinghouse.
Even more disappointing (to me) is the stain that this public statement represents for all the good, hard work most of you do with a sense of pride and honor. It will not come as a surprise to any of you that I feel that any student (tutor or tutee) who engages in this sort of behavior is dishonest, cowardly and engaging in a violation of the Academic Honor Principle.
You might wonder what you can do about this? I would encourage you to do what you do best. Spread the word among all students that this is an inappropriate representation of the work that you do. Although this is a student service sanctioned by the Administration, what this really speaks to is your integrity. Does it reflect your values correctly? If not, speak up.
The Administration has before them a daunting task of cutting waste. If there is any perception at all that there's funny business going on here, consider what could be lost: academic support that so many students honestly seek (and seek to deliver) and a job on campus that is not only monetarily rewarding (albeit minimal), but also academically stimulating, offering tutors and study group leaders benefits well beyond the few bucks that come to them for their time.
As a result of this revelation, there will be changes coming down the pike with regard to who will be allowed to tutor and what the criteria are that each student needs to fulfill. More will be coming out about this once my deliberations are concluded.
If you have any insight into this perspective (from any angle) that you'd care to share, I would be interested to hear your thoughts. This is, after all, your service in which you generously offer your gifts and strategies for success to help your classmates.
I will be back to you shortly.
Holly A. T. Potter
Tutor Clearinghouse Coordinator
Office Manager, Academic Skills Center
Office Manager, Student Accessibility Services
April 20, 2010
April 18, 2010
1. Little is at stake in this election. Snowballing after the election of Travis Green '08, Student Assembly has seen sharp declines in membership, visibility, and credibility on campus. At this point, self-motivated private students are more able to accomplish policy goals and represent campus constituencies than the President herself. Accordingly, there seems little practical difference between the various election outcome scenarios, and therefore little reason to care about the campaign at all. SA Pres. Tim Andreadis '07 ran on gender-neutral dorms and anti-sexual assault policies. Green '08 ran on releasing the tension in student government that Andreadis created. In this election (as in the last one) there is no similar big issue being considered by student government (a surprising fact given the swift and dramatic nature of changes around campus), and hence there is no policy decision for voters to make with their ballots.
2. There was a remarkable amount of positive convergence between the candidates on core SA issues. Eric Tanner '11, Uthman Olagoke '11, and Hix all explicitly agreed to give up SA's role in programming (e.g. Mr. and Mrs. Big Green) in order to concentrate on student services and representation (two focuses that all candidates agreed upon). This is a big step in the right direction because in the last couple elections, the role of advocacy and programming vs. services in SA was a major political cleavage. The election of pro-programming and pro-advocacy candidates led to the present failures in SA's credibility and legitimacy; only through leaders dedicated to services, representation, and efficient government can SA's reputation be restored.
3. Why Hix? LGB was impressed by Hix's resume showing involvement in many student government organizations and his knowledge of all their inner workings. Since the Vice President is SA's chief administrator, these experiences are crucial, and since he is only a '12, they are also impressive. His record of accomplishments as the Student Services Committee Chair in SA evidences his project-managing ability, a skill sorely lacking in SA since the graduation of Corey Chu '08 and Neil Kandler '09. We believe that Hix's policy ideas (like ending the prorating of damage charges in dorms, bringing governance committees back under SA's umbrella, and empowering the SA membership) will dovetail nicely with the platforms of all Presidential candidates and will enable Hix to be one of the most effective Vice Presidents in recent memory.
April 17, 2010
After much reflection here in the quiet of our New Zealand valley, I have
decided that in the future I will be devoting my time and energy to things other
than Dartmouth College. To those of you who have spent time reading my posts on
Dartblog over the past eight and a half months, thank you so much for your
attention. I enjoyed writing my sincere perception of the truth for you.
Personally, I am quite disappointed to hear this news -- Dartblog was a part of my daily news and analysis rotation. We here at Little Green Blog will certainly miss Joe's insightful observations and commentary on all things Big Green. After a very intense election, however, we cannot hold against him the desire to take a well-deserved break from College politics.
Joe has served the College well, and has dutifully 'kept for her the old, undying faith.' He deserves our thanks, and our sincerest wishes of best luck. You have rendered great services to the school, Joe, and those won't be soon forgotten. Fare ye well.
April 16, 2010
Zeke is more weathered and grayed than his younger brothers, but he is unmistakably their relation. He has that Emanuel restlessness (he was figiting in his platformed moccasins as he sat in front of me) and that same Chicagoian accent. He almost sounds like Christopher Walken, if he happened to be exceedingly over-educated. ("Sarry", "Prablem", "Aabout", "Nat", Absessed")
The form his lecture took is a series of "interactive" case studies examining various bioethical scenarios with the audience having to give consent or not. When he's done explaining, Zeke races up the stairs to talk with (and continuously interrupt) the speakers who venture their answers. Dr. Emanuel's time is valuable and he wants to get the answers out as fast as they can, a frustrating thing for him given that he speaks (and thinks) approximately three times as fast as everyone else. "What do you want to know?" "Why is that important?" "But we're just dealing with spit!" "I have a soft spot in my heart for government"
He tries to show that the IRB approach (jumping to "informed consent" as the default) is missing out on a long progression of ethical principles including informed consent, but occurring prior to it. As the event went on, the crowd continued to raise their hands, venturing their answers to the ethical dilemmas, but due to the constant interruptions, they did so with waning ferocity. This confused Dr. Emanuel, who wondered aloud "Do I bite!?" right after smacking his fists on the chalkboard (and smudging a few misspelled words)
His net point is that there are four principles we should use in treatment: (1) equality, (2) helping the worst off, (3) utility, and (4) social value. For equality, lotteries are fair, but the policy of first-come-first-served privileges the wealthy. How else did Steve Jobs get his liver so quickly? He put his name on many lists and could afford to traverse the country for treatment. Helping the worst off should favor the young, who are entitled to more life, but not the sickest as it would squander the good use of the organs. For utility, a person who needs both a liver and kidney deserves neither as two people could be saved with the same components that in him can only save one. The social value side of things refers to the benefit that continued life of the individual affords the community. This can be forward or backward looking. Forward looking policies would favor doctors, who would be needed to help save everyone else . To prevent a conflict of interest and the over-privileging of doctors, this should only be done in time of true pandemic catastrophe. On the backwards looking side, hospitals could privileged veterans or organ donors as a way to encourage such service in the future (though this should only be done if all other things are equal). It goes without saying that someone with drastic social benefit like the President should get priority.
The intensively interactive and challenging format of the lecture easily made Dr. Emanuel one of the most entertaining speakers I've seen as Rocky. It's a real achievement that the Nixon family were able to secure someone like him on their very first try.
This morning, The Dartmouth editorial board enjoined the community to consider changes to the structure of the Board of Trustees that the editors think are more fundamental than parity. The editorial’s ideas are flaccidly presented, but this could still serve as a good opening for a renewed discussion of
As the editors point out,
So we should have more minorities and women on the board, correct? Absolutely. But the editors forget a component more fundamental than race and gender – intellectual diversity and independence. Trustees of whatever gender, color or creed should be independent and active fiduciaries instead of deferential wielders of the rubber stamp.
This is becoming more infrequent in American higher education. Despite the board’s technical role as ultimate governors of the College, much authority has been abdicated. As Jose A. Cabranes writes in the Fordham Law Review [Vol. 76, 2007] “the real power in any university is, for better or worse, the faculty.” Because trustees assume they know less about the College than the faculty, they defer to the faculty and the administration almost universally. To appear fiduciarily responsible, trustees hold hearings on proposed projects and, technically, have the final say on tenure. But these hearings are, according to Judge Cabranes – who has served as a trustee at Fordham, Colgate and Yale – nigh on “dog and pony shows” most of the time.
This pattern is very apparent at
By expanding the board only through the addition of charter trustees, the College’s board endorsed the prevailing attitude that trustees should be passive and deferential. I, on the other hand, side with Judge Cabranes in that we should seek to “strengthen the performance of basic fiduciary responsibilities of trustees.” I want to see trustees actively engaged – not micromanaging, but engaged – in the direction of the school beyond just playing bandwagon politics behind the College’s president.
April 15, 2010
--- Forwarded Message from "Sylvia C. Spears"
>From: "Sylvia C. Spears"
>Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2010 19:15:22 EDT
>Subject: HPD change in alcohol procedure
>To: All Undergraduates:;
Dear Dartmouth Students,
Please be informed regarding changes to Hanover Police Alcohol Procedures.
Statement to Dartmouth Community from Acting Dean of the College Spears
April 15, 2010
The Hanover Police Department has recently made a procedural change in its
response to alcohol emergencies involving underage students in need of
immediate medical attention.
Responding Hanover officers will continue to assist the Hanover Fire Department
at the scene but will not issue the underage person a citation at that time. If
the underage person qualifies according to department guidelines for diversion,
the responding officer will leave a Hanover Alcohol Diversion Program brochure
with them and follow this up with an email notification reminding them of their
obligation to contact the diversion program coordinator within seven (7) days
in order to enroll in the program. A future record check at Hanover Police
Department would indicate that the person had been referred to diversion in
lieu of prosecution. Any person failing to contact the diversion coordinator
within the specified time period will be served a summons and referred to
I view this as a very positive procedural change that enhances our efforts
toward harm reduction. This new change in procedure is not to be taken as a
license to engage in the reckless and dangerous use of alcohol. It is
imperative that we continue our efforts to reduce excessive consumption of
alcohol on campus. The responsibility is now on our community to foster a
positive social atmosphere that sets new norms around the safe consumption of
The work of the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee
(SPAHRC) is critical in the identification and implementation of best practices
for the safe management of alcohol on campus. We will continue to work with
Hanover Police and the Town to address common concerns regarding alcohol.
Hanover Police have graciously agreed to suspend compliance checks at this
time. However, the onus is on our community to show progress in reducing unsafe
drinking at Dartmouth.
As I have said on many occasions, my worst fear is that I will have to call the
family of a student and tell them that their son or daughter has died as a
result of the excess consumption of alcohol. Every student on our campus must
play an active role in addressing this urgent call to action.
Taking care of each other is a hallmark tradition of the Dartmouth student
community and we are hopeful that this change will only strengthen that
#2: Management Reorganization
--- Forwarded Message from "President Jim Yong Kim"
>From: "President Jim Yong Kim"
>Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2010 20:56:30 EDT
>Subject: Senior Administration Reorganization
I've received a lot of valuable advice since I joined the Dartmouth community
10 months ago as President. I truly appreciate the contributions that so many
have made in this demanding and intense period for everyone employed at
Dartmouth. Through your combined efforts, I am proud to say that we have been
able to successfully address many of the challenges we have been facing.
To ensure that we maintain focus on our priorities, in full support of our
academic mission, I have decided to introduce a more integrated senior
management structure. Following consultations with the Board of Trustees and
senior officers, I am introducing a new organizational structure
to better serve Dartmouth.
The changes are in three main areas: Finance and Administration, Advancement,
and the President's Office. The changes will be effective June 1, 2010.
Finance and Administration: Steve Kadish will become Executive Vice President
and Chief Financial Officer. Steve, as you know, with Acting Provost and Dean
of Faculty Carol Folt, has been co-leader of our ongoing Strategic Budget
Reduction and Investment projects. Since coming to Dartmouth last July, Steve
has served as Senior Vice President and Senior Advisor.
Steve will oversee Finance and Administration as well as a number of critical
operating areas. Steve's direct reports will include Traci Nordberg, Chief
Human Resources Officer and Vice President, who will have a dual report to the
President. Traci also will take on new responsibility for oversight of the
Dartmouth College Child Care Center and for the Student Employment Office (for
job placements, not financial aid). Ellen Waite-Franzen, Chief Information
Officer and Vice President, will have a dual report to the Provost and to the
Executive Vice President to ensure that Information Technology fully supports
our academic mission and our overall operations. We have opened a search for a
Vice President for Finance, who also will report to Steve.
Advancement: To enhance the way we present Dartmouth's strengths to the
world, we are creating a new Advancement division, which combines Alumni
Relations, Development, and Public Affairs. Carrie Pelzel, currently the Vice
President for Development, will become Senior Vice President for Advancement.
Carrie's direct reports will include Patsy Fisher '81, Director of Alumni
Leadership, who has agreed to serve as Acting Vice President for Alumni
Relations while a search is in progress to fill the position left open by David
Spalding's move to the position of Chief of Staff for the President,
described below. Diana Pearson, Vice President for Communications, will have a
dual report to the Senior Vice President and the President.
Until a search is launched for a new Vice President for Development, Ann Root
Keith and Tom Herbert, Associate Vice Presidents in Development, and Sylvia
Racca, Executive Director of the Dartmouth College Fund, will continue to
report to Carrie.
The President's Office: To strengthen the coordination of our response to
critical issues, David Spalding will become Chief of Staff. David will take on
new responsibility for key initiatives. David has considerable knowledge of
Dartmouth, not only as a member of the first coeducational Class of 1976, but
also as Vice President for Alumni Relations since 2005. He came to Dartmouth
after a successful career in New York in financial services and non-profit
management. I am grateful to David for the valuable advice he has provided
through the transition.
I would like to thank Carrie, David, Steve and Traci for taking on additional
responsibilities. As we move forward, we are continuing to strengthen our
management team. A number of key positions remain open on our organizational
chart. Searches are currently under way for the positions of Provost and for
Dean of the Dartmouth Medical School.
In conclusion, I also want to express appreciation to the entire Dartmouth
community for sharing your ideas and for supporting our academic mission. This
spring, we will begin a strategic planning process, which will involve
everyone. We will be looking ahead to 2020, a milestone for this institution,
which will be celebrating its 250th year. I remain committed to working with
you to enable Dartmouth and its people to continue to lead and to excel.
Jim Yong Kim
April 12, 2010
First, the good: Lone Survivor offers a rare glimpse at not only the training and operations that SEALs go through, but also a play-by-play look at the thinking of one SEAL during the most dangerous and traumatic operation of his life. We see how advanced SEAL training prepares its members to be effective, resourceful, and tenacious killing machines, even when faced with insurmountable odds and overwhelming force. These men take only the most dangerous missions and accept only the most daring, strong, and pain-tolerant among them. Marcus Luttrell and his ghost writer convey all this in a very approachable style any aspiring SEAL can appreciate, and it will doubtlessly be turned into a movie one day.
Now, the bad (and there is a lot of it): First, this book might better be called "Glenn Beck goes to War". As Luttrell and his men are scoping-out a terrorist stronghold, he would have us believe that while he fears neither Al-Quaeda nor the Taliban nor death itself, the one thing that haunts his dreams and raises the hair on his neck is... the American "liberal" media. Specifically, he believes that the media would vilify him for killing terrorists and somehow whip-up criminal charges against him. When a bunch of unarmed goat-herders happen upon Luttrell's position (possibly revealing them to the Taliban below), Luttrell quickly suggests (and proudly recounts his suggestion) that kill them (a War Crime). Only for 'fear of what the Liberals might say' does their commander decide instead to let them go (possibly leading to the Taliban discovering the SEALs a short while later). Luttrell immediately regrets the decision, lamenting "I felt like such a Liberal."
The irony of the situation is completely lost on Luttrell when he finds himself at the mercy of Pashtun tribesmen, who have to choose between defending him (thereby risking reprisal attacks from the Taliban against them) or turn him over to be killed. If the tribesman made the "pure military decision" Luttrell himself demanded of the goat herders, they would have surely killed him. But being responsible citizens, as well as moral people, they choose not to and instead risked everything by actually defending him, theoretically "to the last man".
At every turn, Luttrell demonstrates a fervent hatred for all things liberal and an almost willful misunderstanding of the reasoning behind and proper execution of rules of engagement. He also generously peppers in Muslim bigotry (calling them towel-heads), machismo, god-is-on-my-side bravado, and an unholy amount of pride for his native state of Texas. As someone aspiring to be a Naval Intelligence Officer, I find men like Luttrell dangerous to the overall U.S. mission in Afghanistan-- trying to win the locals' hearts and minds, when he'd rather put a bullet through each. In terms of style, Luttrell is something between Huck Finn and Yosemite Sam, which might be endearing to some, but torturous to me.
Luttrell and his comrades have honorably served their country, and as a tribute to his fallen brothers, this book is deserving of respect. But for all the vitriol and hate contained herein, it offers a very narrow strip of understanding and can only be taken so seriously. Much of what went wrong about the operation can be chalked up to poor planning and mistakes on the ground, which (besides the decision not to kill the goat herders) is not really discussed. Given that Luttrell's role in the Hindu Kush was one of a "blunt instrument" (to quote M from James Bond) not much more could really be expected of him, and in this book, nothing more is given.
April 10, 2010
April 9, 2010
While I have always been a supporter of Joe and the kind of critical eye he could bring to the board, it looks like Replogle (and the unopposed Krondrake) will be the next Trustees. Additionally, in the Association of Alumni election, it looks like the "Dartmouth Undying" slate will edge out the "Dartmouth United" one.
We will post more on the election outcomes as the story develops
UPDATE: Because alumni casting paper ballots are believed to be older and more 'conservative' -- in the Dartmouth politics sense of the word (e.g. favoring parity) -- we believe that Joe Asch would need to lead in this group. The fact that he is down 2-1 in initial projections for paper ballots makes his victory rather difficult.
UPDATE 2: The Dartmouth has picked up our story but does not offer any new information.
I just happened across the blog of the Students Stand with Staff group, and found a gem of an entry.
In it, the anonymous poster critiques Joe Asch ’79 directly for an entry he wrote for Dartblog a few days ago. In his article, Asch stated – quite reasonably – that budget reductions of consequence will result in layoffs, either at
Another frustrating point of the post is the title: “We’re a School. Not a Corporation.” Really? No way.
That’s not corporate culture. It’s just common sense.
The SSWS populist uprising wants
Either way, the SSWS blogger misses the train entirely on Asch’s point. The Dartblog entry makes a purely economic argument – that
Point is: SSWS missed the point. In the future, they should actually address the arguments instead of spouting platitudes. When I was Speaker of the Dartmouth Political Union, it was frustrating to watch when a debater would speak right past the point of another party. The budget debate is a serious one, and arguments like the SSWS blog entry confuse the process and distract from substantive issues. In this round of SSWS versus Dartblog, I give the point to the latter.
The College is struggling and everyone – even the evil Asch – hates laying people off. But SSWS is making it worse, not better.
(Coming soon: SSWS on governance and education.)
Image courtesy of The Dartmouth.
The movie (based on the book), follows Hiccup, the unbrawney son of a tribal leader in a mythical viking village. Because he fails to meet the usual viking standards of success (e.g. gigantic pecs and blood thirsty courage), Hiccup is marginalized, yet resolute on winning the community's acceptance by participating in its most honored past-time: fighting dragons. With a keen interest in design, be builds a bolas-launcher and captures a dragon, keeping it in secret and discovering that almost everything the Vikings know about dragons is wrong.
HtTYD is a major success for DreamWorks Animation, a company that is consistently dominated by Pixar and has failed to produce much of value beyond the Shrek dynasty. Getting away from its usual light, childish, and cuddly-animal-filled movies, HtTYD demonstrates DreamWork's ability to tackle human emotions and bring human characters to life on screen. The part that I found most enjoyable about the film was the simple exploration of the Viking world as we follow Hiccup's discoveries. At times it reminded me of Avatar, but was much more effortless in the execution.
The three minor shortcomings of the film I found were a lack of comedy (save perhaps for the helmet scene), odd visual angles at times, and bits of flat dialogue (e.g. "You just gestured to all of me"). HtTYD easily makes up for these and more in its potent and non-preachy handling of big issues like ignorance, curiosity, acceptance, and disability -- the last one's treatment turning HtTYD from a simply good movie to a great one.
April 8, 2010
I am not authorized to release particulars about where the voting stands -- not least because I am not counting the ballots -- but here are some interesting facts:
Turnout: Out of a universe of 67,072 eligible voters, 14,907 alumni voted by electronic ballot (22.2 percent). The estimated paper ballots being counted now is 7,200-8,500. David Spalding '76, director of Alumni Relations, who has graced us with his presence, predicts voter participation to be at its highest level ever for a trustee race.
Stephanie Lewin '88, the nominated trustee candidates' campaign manager, is representing John Replogle at the count. (Your servant has considered asking her to get lunch, but was afraid she might cancel at the last minute.)
No voting irregularities to report as of yet, other than an apparent glitch with voting electronically by iPhone. (No word how large a share of the population the iPhone voters may be.)
This is a developing story.
April 7, 2010
Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food illustrates how poorly understood the field of food science is and ignorance corrupts our eating habits. Scientists try to reduce everything down to soil to their essential few components and then build "nutrients" -- not "food" -- accordingly. Soil is reduced to just potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen. The plants that soil produces suffer from a lack of nutritional diversity, and then the meat animals that eat those plants do as well. To compensate, scientists sprinkle on top whatever nutrients are popular at the moments and market it as "healthy" "food".
The big problem, Pollan shows, is that a lot of the benefits in food exist in the synergy between many food elements coming together, rather than in the right combination of five or so ingredients. To function properly, the human body needs an astonishing amount of different compounds, the spectrum of which are available in common food has been severely limited by the industrialization of production. Whereas in previous generations, many varieties of crops were planted and consumed, now industrialization has led to convergence. The dominant crops were selected for their ability to produce, not nutritional value, and the fact that they are always in season means that the usual shifts in diets are stabilized to a few homogeneous crops.
The most alarming part of what Pollan shows is how much of the supermarket is now filled with imitation food -- colorful concoctions of chemicals, additives, food colouring, and sugar that generations-past would not even recognize as being edible. After seeing Food Inc. (which shows how almost the entire supermarket consists of corn mascaraing as everything from cereal to pancake syrup) and reading this book, I felt like I could see into the Matrix. Everyone around me was eating-- but they weren't eating food. It was all an illusion. What they thought as a proper meal was really fried red meat (non-grass fed), with bread (robbed of its nutrients), fried potatoes, and a corn syrup-filled artificial drink.
What's the way forward? Pollan says that we should read the ingredients lists and if we see corn syrup, a word we can't pronounce, or more than 10 ingredients, we should leave it on the shelf. Certifications labeling food as "healthy" are all to be treated as suspect due to the fact that research studies into the nutritional value of food are paid for and influenced by the companies that commission them. If you want to eat healthy, follow Pollan's advice: "Eat food (not 'nutrients' or 'imitation food'). Not too much. Mostly plants. And nothing your great-grand parents wouldn't recognize as food.
As someone who admires the work of Norman Borlaug in vastly increasing the yield and strength of crops in order to feed the world's hungry poor, I tended to view the organic movement as hippie misadventure. But reading this book has changed my thinking. If you have the money, buy organic. Go to the farmer's market. Prepare your own food. If you don't, at least avoid the things things that don't look natural. The food we have may keep us from starving to death, but that doesn't mean that it isn't killing us.
The form of the book is a drifting narrative following various real, but unknown players in the financial collapse, illustrating what went wrong and who saw it coming. As the fodder for an eventual movie, it's pretty compelling (see: The Blind Side); and it's a nice and breezy read. As an academic look at the crisis, why it went wrong, and what should be done, Lewis is all platitudes. Missing this key component in a discussion of the financial system leaves an empty story and the reader wanting.