August 30, 2010

If Glenn Beck, fear-monger, made a workplace safety PSA, this would be it

Brought to you by the Canadian Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the Corporation fo- HOLY SH*T:

See the other scary as hell TV spots here.

August 29, 2010

Sunday Sundries

Sunday is not a time for biting commentary or stimulating news from the Hanover plain and beyond. There is no point fighting it. It's a veridical fact of life.

So let us embrace it. This video will probably change the course of your life.

When you've forgotten to go to class or work for weeks because you're still lying in bed listening to this song... well, we hope you'll also have forgotten who showed it to you first.


August 28, 2010

On Glenn Beck's completely non-partisian rally against the President

People converged on Washington this weekend with one thing in common: they want to help Glenn Beck restore honor or salute troops or whatever vaguely patriotic way he wants to spread fear and hate towards President Obama while hiding behind the flag.

As I mingled through the crowd -- I live right across the river from the Lincoln Memorial, where Beck's rally was held -- I discovered that the people there actually had a lot more in common. Just about every single person was white, old, middle class, somewhat overweight, extremely misinformed, and hyper-conservative. Actually, take back that first line. The entire gathering was homogeneous and in every way the GOP's target demographic.

More on the crowd and speeches after the jump

REVIEW: Linchpin is simple, weak on meaning, and poorly written

Imagine the worst motivational speech ever given. That's Seth Godin's Linchpin.

Now the premise of the book is an admirable and important topic to cover: how can you make yourself indispensable at work? Godin correctly summarizes the situation we now live in-- If you are just a gear in a machine, if you do what you're told and nothing more, if you want to be paid just for showing up, if you want a profession that does not require you to be creative-- then sucks to be you. Those kinds of jobs are rightly being shipped away overseas to be done by equally qualified people at a fraction of the price. What are left are jobs that require creativity, problem solving, and original thinking, and there begins Godin's advice.

The gaping, cavernous-sized flaw with Godin's book is that the vision he offers is one that precludes regular work environments. He wants people to devote themselves entirely to creating "art" but never reconciles this noble pursuit of self-actualization with employment realities. The 'artist' Godin describes cannot work for a boss or really fit into a team. Instead they are merely creative people who when given the possibilty to expand beyond their job descriptions are able to usher in a new corporate ideology or system for doing things that improves the company. If it's news that people should be doing that, they you should take Godin's book and smack yourself in the face.

August 26, 2010

The Tea Partiers Know Nothing

Deep thought: Perhaps the Tea Baggers (when exactly was it that we all agreed to give them intellectual and historical credibility by calling them "Tea Partiers") should change their name to the "Know Nothing Party". It works perfectly. Just like the Tea Baggers, the Know Nothings of the second/third party system were xenophobic, abhorred the naturalization of immigrants, were mostly middle class white protestants, and, like the tea partiers today, knew absolutely nothing.

Shuffling of Financial Staff

Michael Wagner, who currently serves as chief financial officer at Dartmouth Medical School, will assume responsibilities as Vice President for Finance in September. Wagner is replacing Adam Keller, who left that position last December.

Steve Kadish, Dartmouth's executive vice president and chief financial officer, also announced three other appointments today. Tricia Spellman and Kevin Weinman will serve as assistant vice presidents for finance, and Tammy Moffatt will take over as director of Procurement.

Of these four appointments, only one joins Dartmouth from beyond the Hanover plain. Mrs. Spellman currently serves as administrative director at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard -- the center whence came President Kim. The other three are internal appointments. Mr. Wagner has worked as Dartmouth's controller before becoming the CFO at Dartmouth Med School; Mr. Weinman has been working as Dartmouth's director of financial planning and budget; and Mrs. Moffatt has been working at the College since 1987.

Creativity might not be a particular strength of President Kim's, at least not where staff appointments are concerned.

August 25, 2010

Asch '79 is Groping Around for Something

We here at LGB try to avoid reactionary writing, but on occasion we find something important to draw attention to -- for better or worse. Joe Asch '79 over at Dartblog has lately taken to railing against the Sexperts and other sexual health organizations at the College. His arguments, which largely center on fiscal restraint in hard economic times, are hit-or-miss. Groups that provide information to students about how to enjoy a healthy sex life are vital to the modern American student, although this author sympathizes with Mr. Asch's view that bondage workshops might be a bit much.

Today, however, Mr. Asch went further, critiquing the Sexperts' annual Consent Day. He took particular issue with the advertising slogan "Consensual Groping is HOT," writing:
Consensual groping makes as much sense as consensual rape.
Mr. Asch precedes this revelation with an in-dept review of groping on the subway system in New York, as well as relevant New Hampshire statute. Readers should feel enlightened -- they now know that sexual assault in the form of groping is bad.

This type of politicized argument is distracting at discrediting. Mr. Asch would do well to remember two things:
  1. Grope ≠ rape. By its very nature, rape implies sexual assault without the consent of the victim. Groping is different, as it is the fondling for sexual pleasure. The type of groping described in the Dartblog post -- on subways, for example -- is not consensual; ergo, illegal. Groping can be performed with consent, however, and in such a case, is usually quite... well, hot.

  2. A high quality of political discourse at the College, and one's own reputation as a positive contributor to College life, depend on bringing valid arguments to the table. Attempts to fan the flames of discontent using misleading examples and doltish comparisons are a step in the wrong direction.
Perhaps the College does dispense too many resources aimed at heightening the sexual pleasure of her students. Either way, grabby poster headings (sorry!) and the resources spent to produce them are small drops in a very big bucket.

ADDENDUM: As one reader points out, "It is rich of Joe Asch to take issue with The Dartmouth's use of the word 'donate' when he clearly misuses the word 'grope.'"

August 24, 2010

Fmr. Rockefeller Administrator Will Lose Primary

Matt Dunne, candidate for governor of Vermont, currently lags behind the field in fourth place in the race for the Democratic Party's nomination.

Some, though admittedly few, Dartmouth students have followed Matt Dunne in his race for Vermont's governorship. Mr. Dunne, who graduated from Hanover High School in 1987 and then from Brown University in 1992, once worked as the assistant director for the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. While at Dartmouth, he served in the Vermont senate, and ran for the lieutenant governorship in 2006, winning the Democratic primary but losing the general election. Since 2006, Mr. Dunne has been busy running Google's community affairs initiative.

Mr. Dunne has spent the last several months seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. From the angle of an aspiring political scientist, this race is a frustrating one to watch, with no available public polling data to analyze. Mr. Dunne, who has been a party standard bearer before, is certainly a contender, but he runs amidst some of Vermont's power players.

This evening, polls closed in the gubernatorial primary. With nearly half of all precincts reporting, Mr. Dunne trails in fourth place. He is currently almost 1,900 votes behind the leader, Peter Shumlin, President Pro Tempore of the Vermont senate.

Full standings, courtesy of Vermont Public Radio:

Paul Hodes'72 is... Still in Trouble

We here at LGB haven’t recently covered the upcoming cage match between Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes, Dartmouth Class of 1972, and his Republican opponent, erstwhile New Hampshire attorney general Kelly Ayote.

Mr. Hodes decided last year to pursue the Senate seat being vacated by Judd Gregg in lieu of seeking reelection from New Hampshire’s second congressional district (which includes Hanover). But his prospects of winning that election have remained dangerously low.

This writer initially projected Hodes as the favorite, albeit narrowly, to win. As more polling data becomes available, your LGB staff will keep you posted on the latest trends. (The latest poll on this race comes from Rasmussen (500 likely voters, 4.5 percent margin of error) on August 5, showing Ayotte ahead by 13 points.) Needless to say, we will also be updating our assessment of the race.

As for now, the race certainly leans Republican.

Stimulating Statistics

Today, the econometric whiz kids at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released the results of a study on the financial stimulus – known in formal Washington parlance as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Their findings are quite enlightening.

Primarily, the CBO established that the stimulus boosted American Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.7 percent to 4.5 percent. Per Reuters:
CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

The CBO report [pdf] also posits that between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs were added due to the stimulus. That translates to an unemployment rate 0.7 to 1.8 percentage points less than it would have otherwise been.

Unfortunately, as Ben Page of the CBO’s Macroeconomic Analysis Division notes on the Director’s Blog:
The effects of ARRA on output and employment are expected to gradually diminish during the second half of 2010 and beyond. The effects of ARRA on employment and unemployment are expected to lag slightly behind the effects on output; they are expected to wane gradually in 2011 and beyond.

Your servant here at LGB sees this as a good rationale for further stimulus. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Princeton economist, thinks further stimulus would be a grand idea. (He also argued that the original stimulus was too small.)

August 20, 2010

A Lesson in Methodological Ignorance

Last week, a piece appeared in The Dartmouth by columnist Emily Johnson discussing the role of Teach for America, which places graduates from top universities to teach underprivileged students. Her column is a prime example of why Dartmouth's social science departments require majors to complete a research methods and design course. Some exposure to basic statistics could have saved Ms. Johnson from making a pretty big journalistic and intellectual faux pas.

Emily Johnson follows many reputable newspaper columnists and reporters into the trap of presenting questionable research as conclusive. She cites a recent policy brief by the Great Lakes Center, a group that represents teachers’ associations and unions, on the relative effectiveness of Teach for America teachers. Ms. Johnson questions the return-on-investment that society receives from TFA corps members, using the report’s authors as evidence. But Ms. Johnson fails to critically judge the data, instead accepting them in toto.

While there are questions of journalistic integrity – what role should journalists play in reporting on quantitative research methods? – I will leave those conversations for a later date (stay posted!). What is more pressing now is a critical review of Ms. Johnson’s conclusions about TFA. Here's a hint: her conclusions aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

August 19, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg is an asshole, thief, threat to privacy, richer than you

I don't know if it's the incandescent lights, Ivy League intrigue, or just the awesome acoustic Radio Head choral sound track, but I've had this trailer in my head for the last few days:

As a movie, I have no idea how it will turn out aside from the fact that Jesse Eisenberg was awesome in both Zombieland and Adventureland and therefore I trust him to be a good Zuckerberg. As terrifying as Facebook has become -- it now wants to know your exact location and has aspirations beyond Google's biggest anti-privacy wet dream -- all the shit about Zuckerberg being a massive tit is so much more interesting.

Be sure to also check out these funny parodies of the trailer above for twitter, youtube, and ebay after the jump.

What's In a Rank, Part I

For those who missed it, Dartmouth recently received some welcome news regarding its ranking. U.S. News and World Report ranked Dartmouth ninth, up two spots from the eleventh-place rut we’d been stuck in since the 2008 rankings. Forbes also moved Dartmouth up the ladder, to thirtieth from ninety-second.

Some have rejoiced at these ranks, claiming that they show Dartmouth’s improvement in a number of areas. An e-mail and press release from Dartmouth Public Affairs, as well as recent comments from Provost Carol Folt, make much ado about the rise.

Ultimately, though, the reason for Dartmouth’s jump rests more in the methods used by USNWR and Forbes, and less in improvements to the Dartmouth experience.

August 18, 2010

REVIEW: Scott Pilgrim's video-game romance not steamy but visually amazing

Scott Pilgrim looks the way that would feel.

Shot like the comic books from whence the movie drew its inspiration, Scott Pilgrim v. the World is the first major-motion ‘expressionist’ movie I’ve ever seen. Dazzling colors, awesome mortal-combat-esque fight scenes, hilarious absurdist comedy, rockin' alternative music, and polite Canadians pepper the screen making it an incredible and impressive watch.

I normally don’t care for Michael Cera and don’t consider him a serious actor. He just plays his awkward self in every movie... they probably don’t even tell him that the cameras are rolling. I went into the theater fearful that Cera would screw this movie up. Thankfully, the supporting cast draws a lot of attention away from this main protagonist (Thanks Jason Schwartzman! P.S.: Pilgrim’s gay roommate is priceless) and the role was properly designed for Cera to fill.

What's In a Rank?

Dartmouth -- as well as pretty much every major college and university in the United States -- has anxiously awaited the recent release of rankings from US News and World Report (and to a lesser extent, Forbes). In a recent e-mail to alumni, Dartmouth's PR office boasted our ranking bump from eleventh place (for 2008, 2009 and 2010) to ninth place in 2011. Dartmouth also moved significantly up the ranks according to Forbes, who moved the College from the mid-90s to thirtieth place.

Over the next few days, we'll be considering the rankings, what they mean, and how important they really are. Just to start us off, here are a couple of important questions to consider:

  • What does Dartmouth's jump in ranking really mean?
  • How closely do prospective students observe ranking methodology?
  • Is the recent rank bump a tribute to President Kim's success at Dartmouth?


REVIEW: Sedaris's Flames shine bright

David Sedaris has to be one of the greatest writers who ever lived. I say this because while other best-selling writers teach you compelling lessons (David McCullough), encourage your inner conspirator (Dan Brown), show you new and scary worlds (Michael Crichton), or take you off into fantasy (J.K. Rowling), Sedaris writes about the mundane and somehow makes it fascinating. Each of the many stories in his books are like literary candy: short, sweet, and easily digestible. That is not to say that he is entirely frivolous, though the books are far from serious, as at each turn Sedaris is able to make quick incisive quips about the absurd and awkward world he tries in vain to live in.

August 17, 2010

Dartmouth Ranked Best in Undergraduate Teaching

US News and World Report just released its rankings of American colleges and universities. Dartmouth College ranked ninth overall -- tied with the University of Chicago and Duke. This marks an "improvement" over last year's ranking of eleventh, although as Joe Asch over at Dartblog points out:

Not to be a wet blanket — at least any more than usual — but we are now ranked 9th in a tie with Duke and the University of Chicago. The school placing immediately after our three-way tie is Northwestern, which is ranked 12th. By that measure, I guess we are no longer ranked 11th.

Dartmouth also maintained its ranking as America's best institution for undergraduate teaching, beating out other perennial Ivy League competitors like Princeton, Brown and Yale.

August 16, 2010

Construction Zone

After a summer hiatus, and perhaps inspired by the College's decision to upgrade e-mail clients, I decided to avail myself of the administrative privileges bestowed on me by our editor and upgrade Little Green Blog. Over the coming weeks, I will be leading LGB through a series of updates hopefully resulting in a more intuitive, organized and aesthetically pleasing design.

In addition, posts to this site will become more regular and we will expand to use a set of Web 2.0 networking tools.

We first ask for your patience, as the transition may mess with the outlay of the site for periods of time. And we ask for your comments and suggestions, since we do this for our readers first and foremost.

Thank you for sticking in there. I hope you're as excited as I am for a revamping of Dartmouth's leading blog.

August 13, 2010

A Farewell to Blitz

For those who haven’t heard, the College administration recently decided to phase out the use of Blitz over the next year. Soon, all Dartmouth students, faculty and staff will be using e-mail and calendar services provided by Microsoft.

Generally speaking, moving away from BlitzMail is probably a wise decision. The program’s inability to handle HTML formatting, combined with its unaltered (some might say unadulterated) 1980's layout, make the program distinctive but sorely dated.

Perhaps BlitzMail has run its course. It lived a long life – 23 years, ancient for any software – and, as the adage goes, all good things much come to an end.

Accepting that the pill is necessary, though, doesn’t always make it easier to swallow.

After reading a piece in the D, I felt guilty for how neglectful I had become of my old friend. (I didn’t even have the client installed on my new laptop!) So I rushed over to Dartmouth’s computing webpage, downloaded Blitz, and logged into my alumni account.

Staring at my screen, with the ugly, pixilated little mailbox in the upper-left corner, makes me ache for Dartmouth more acutely than I have in a good while. Something about my Blitz inbox takes me to the terminals in Novack Café, the FoCo lobby, my sophomore year dormitory on Wheeler first floor, and the bench on Main Street right in front of Dirt Cowboy.

Sitting in this downtown loft apartment, thousands of miles from Hanover, I can smell coffee and Keystone; I can feel the chilled winds whipping across the Green; I can see the trees, molting blankets of gold and orange; and in this moment, I can feel the rush of reuniting with old friends, of the first syllabus of the term, of long nights with my nose pressed against a deadline. If I close my eyes and stand, I am sure I could feel the granite beneath my feet.

Remembering the countless blitzes to friends makes me miss them more keenly than ever. Today they are scattered – from the marble halls of Washington to the gorges of Ithaca and the cornfields of Iowa. Lost in this moment, though, I can almost pretend that they are just a jaunt across the Green.

With nostalgic ruminations stacked one atop the other, I can forget the flaws and frustrations of the ‘real world’ which, for all its wonder, cannot quite satisfy the yearning for comfort that the Dartmouth embrace always provided.

And while it hurts to acknowledge that those days are behind us, it still makes me smile to remember that they happened at all.

BlitzMail, for all its quirks and shortcomings, still strikes a powerful pose in the College psyche. Even as its time comes to an end, it lives on in the shared consciousness that we built, together, in our time at the College on the Hill.

So if you, like me, haven’t checked your Blitz in a while – do it today, if only one more time, for the love of Dear Old Dartmouth.