Saturday Night

In Goodrich, getting paid to protect the light board from giant beach balls while dancing/working on a fellowship application. Oh, Williams.

The ongoing journey of self-discovery

One of these days, I'm going to wake up and be completely happy with my state of mind/understanding of the world from 6 months back. But I'm not there yet. There's too much to learn and understand, and too many people to see and meet, for me to stop growing.

Here's hoping that never comes to pass. I don't want to be done developing when there is more that can develop my ability to relate to all this world has to offer.

Rapaport '11 in Gaudino Style Class

A real-world education in Portland:
Rapaport is Jewish – the first Jewish person that Nkulu, a devout Christian, has ever met. Rapaport's grandparents fled Germany during the Holocaust. They came to the United States with nothing and settled in Kansas City, Mo.

"They had to build themselves up from square one," Rapaport said. "So, we're both relative newcomers to this country, and we both want to make America a stronger place."

Rapaport is one of six Williams College students who are living with local immigrant families and working with students who are learning to speak English in Portland's public schools.

Obama to write Newsweek story on Haiti

Of course, what we're really saying is that Obama will edit and approve an article written by his staff about Haiti, but so it goes. The Wall Street Journal reports.

And really, after spending some time in the Capitol, I can understand why offices have to cover so much ground: the amount of material delivered every day to each Senate office is extraordinary, and senators can only be in so many places at once. I'd argue that we can institute several reforms that would free up legislative time for more useful things, but the fact remains that the demands on the office of Representative, Senator, or President can only be met with an office of staffers and interns.

If you don't like it, fix the system, but don't hold senators accountable for staffer screwups, beyond hiring the people in the first place. There's too much legitimate blame to go around.

Obama cut more than Bush?

So says this article:
The administration says Congress accepted at least $6.9 billion of the $11.3 billion in discretionary spending cuts Mr. Obama proposed for the current fiscal year. An analysis by The Washington Times found that Mr. Obama was victorious in getting Congress to slash 24 programs and achieved some level of success in reducing nine other programs.

Among the president's victories are canceling the multibillion-dollar F-22 Raptor program, ending the LORAN-C radio-based ship navigation system and culling a series of low-dollar education grants. In each of those cases, Mr. Obama succeeded in eliminating programs that Mr. Bush repeatedly failed to end.
The Raptor was an economic boon to Georgia, but when the Pentagon doesn't want the plane, it's time to end the project. I'll be taking bets on if the conventional wisdom ever acknowledges this little factoid (and indeed, I don't even know if it matters, considering how much new spending was proposed.)

Actual Headlines, part 4

The case of the haunted scrotum


I desperately should be out seeing people and enjoying myself, but it's not in the cards: I've overworked myself.

I have (in the next three days; and this is cathartic, to list it)
  • An interview for a thesis
  • An interview for a 99
  • Four freshman to mentor the way I wish someone had mentored me
  • Two freshman who are supposed to be mentored, but who prob don't need any help
  • A letter to return to an elementary schooler
  • A Truman application to edit, and trade with another applicant
  • Feast financial policies to learn
  • A 24 hour theater festival to tech
  • A Bar Mitsvah party to tech
  • A whole bunch of yearbooks to scan (Gaudino, don't ask)
  • A graveyard to film (also Gaudino)
  • A winter study project to plan
  • Rasan meeting
  • Storytime
  • A new CEP member to brief
  • WOC equipment to pick up/fill with food
  • Multiple people to Skype with
  • A dinner with a friend
  • My own 99 to work on
  • A long letter home to write
  • ~100 blog posts to read (might skip these)
  • 2 3-hour shifts at Paresky
  • Honorary Degree details to wrap up/packets to pick up
  • A neat event to attend
I don't know if this is possible. Oh dear. Time to sleep.

Palin Policy

One of the benefits of being a Christian Baptist from the South is that I can get stereotyped as a Conservative, which helps my words get more traction with the right. One of the benefits of growing up in a church that welcomed gays as members and ministers, and having been affiliated with the Roosevelt Institution, is that I can likewise get stereotyped as a liberal. I am neither, but I'm not above taking advantage of misconceptions and fallacies in making my own points. See this, which I wrote to various Palin supporters on Facebook:

Hi, I saw that you posted on Sarah Palin's Facebook wall, and I wondered if you might like to hear a few things about her. There was a piece on 60 Minutes last night with McCain's Campaign Manager, and he said a lot of things that I didn't know about her, and that were very worrying.

Sarah did a lot of great things in Alaska. She was a hugely popular governor, and was willing to resign from an Ethics committee in protest of ethic violations. I admire that. But she LIED, and lied repeatedly during the campaign. I cannot tolerate that in leaders that I support, and hope that you will join me.

During Troopergate, she said on a press call that she had been cleared of "any wrongdoing" when the report stated that she had "abused her power." She said she refused the Bridge to Nowhere when she campaigned for it. She denied a quote she made on the record about human responsibility for climate change, and said that she improvised her convention speech when she did not. She thought the First Amendment (Freedom of the Press) allowed her to avoid any tough questions, and when on the world stage, you can't win by avoiding a problem: you have to face it head on.

Even more importantly, she wanted to be next-in-line to the Presidency of the United States of America while thinking that Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11 (he had nothing to do with it), without knowing why North and South Korea were separate nations (the Cold War with the USSR), and didn't know what the Federal Reserve did (it manages all of the money in the US). Every aspiring President MUST know these things. Our leaders must be our best, and our best should know who was responsible for 9/11!

The person who compiled the list below is biased, and some of these points are bogus, but most are true. It makes me very sad, because I think she represents America better than most politicians, but I cannot support a liar. Remember the 9th Commandment, and God Bless.

I surely hope that America can find a strong, conservative politician, but I don't think we have that in Sarah Palin. We MUST do better. Thanks for reading.

Will Slack
Decatur, GA

Biased reference:

Everything in the above is true. Sullivan is biased (some things on his list are definite stretches), and I do really hope that we can have a strong, fiscally conservative Republican who has the willpower to get the budget under control. We MUST do this, and Palin hasn't shown any sort of policy ability.

I worry that in becoming the head for a "movement," she will lose her sense of self. This is especially problematic because Obama's introduction included interviews with open honesty and acknowledgment of imperfections. I haven't seen that humility from Palin, but then again, I've yet to read her book.

Ebert done good

Roger Ebert has two good recent pieces up:
Fifty years ago, a brief letter to the editor of a student newspaper led to a national furor over academic freedom. When it broke in 1959, the Leo Koch Case dominated front pages and newscasts. It remained a story for three years. Today it is so thoroughly forgotten that not even Wikipedia, which knows everything, has heard of it.

"With modern contraceptives and medical advice readily available at the nearest drugstore, or at least a family physician, there is no valid reason why sexual intercourse should not be condoned among those sufficiently mature to engage in it without social consequences and without violating their own codes of morality and ethics. A mutually satisfactory sexual experience would eliminate the need for many hours of frustrating petting and lead to happier and longer lasting marriages among our young men and women." - Leo Kosh

The professor was fired immediately for expressing what is now a commonly held view. I also really like Ebert's last sentence, and have found it to be quite true in my own experience. Read the whole thing.

Also, this:
You should be horse-whipped for the insult you have paid to the highest office of our nation.

Having followed President Obama's suggestion and donated money to the Red Cross for relief in Haiti, I was offended to hear you suggest the President might be a thief capable of stealing money intended for the earthquake victims. [...]

This conversation came 48 hours after many of us had seen pitiful sights from Port au Prince. Tens of thousands are believed still alive beneath the rubble. You twisted their suffering into an opportunity to demean the character of the President of the United States.

You have a sizable listening audience. You apparently know how to please them. Anybody given a $400 million contract must know what he is doing.

That's what offends me. You know exactly what you're doing.

The American Political Pattern

  1. Government fails
  2. Democrats come to power
  3. Government fails
  4. Republicans come to power
  5. Government fails
  6. Democrats come to power
  7. Government fails
  8. Republicans come to power
  9. Government fails
And on, and on, and on. We need more than two options.

(and yes, sillies: I'm well aware that each party has done some good stuff, but I have a higher standard which may or may not cause my own insanity)

Kimmel on Leno - Ouch


Darlingside performs tonight in Pittsfield. I can't attend due to three events/rehearsals/meetings (which conflict with each other), but I really wish them all the best. They're great.


The outpouring of support through company and country gives me hope. There is still good in all of us, and a desire to help in times of crisis. Brian Williams, who earns over $10 million/year, is sleeping in a tent in Haiti's airport to bring us the story.

Whatever I do in politics will be borne of this same belief in our capacity to give ourselves to each other. It is only through shared investment that we can weather the inevitable storms. That doesn't mean that we need to codify that shared investment, nor does it mean that everyone has to do as such. It only takes a fwe to change the world.

My WSO post

I'm about to play a little bit of bad-cop with the campus; apparently the neighborhood review forum was less than successful. Any thoughts on this before I WSO it?
Hey, Williams. My Winter Study sometimes takes me away from campus, and I was in northern Vermont during the Neighborhood Review Forum on Tuesday. Howeer, I heard that attendance was less than spectacular.

I know that talking about school policies is largely boring, and that we all have things we'd rather be doing than debate Proposal 3A versus Option 2B, but this shit really matters. Back in '05 when the system was first proposed, there were debates, open letters, and opposition organizations formed against the change. Many of those groups made points about weaknesses in the system that history has borne out, as seen in the first Neighborhood Review Committee report.

I'm told that because we had such poor attendance, the committee is about done soliciting for public opinion, and that's just sad. Possible changes are really big:
  • Entries could be moved OUT OF Mission and Frosh Quad to all the upperclassmen dorms.
  • Sophomores could be forced to live together in a designated area of campus.
  • Free-Agency (being able to live wherever on campus) might return.
  • We could get theme housing.
Because you didn't show up, or submit comment, you've essentially given up your agency to the Neighborhood Review Committee. Come on, Williams. Read the 4 proposals (sent by Lizzy Brickley at Mon, 11 Jan 2010 5:48 PM), and say something about it, either here or sent to the committee. Give the students who will come after us a little bit of your time, so that they have the best system possible. We go to a school where each individual's opinion can affect policy, so take that power and don't let the wrong proposal go forwards.

And for those who think that your lives are too busy, I quote Aroop Mukharji '09:
Don't have time? Shut your mouth. It's winter study.

300 Blog Posts to read....

I'm back from Vermont with some great stories, but my non-electronic life currently has too many weights, and catching up on e-mail/Facebook took too much time. I'll post when I can, but for the moment, read about Haiti, and please be thankful that you have the fortune to live elsewhere.

Also: Yay Ed Burger. He's a huge asset to this school, and I benefit from every moment we spend together.

Prof. Ed Burger Wins National Teaching Award

To the Williams Community,

I am pleased to report that Professor of Mathematics Ed Burger has today been named recipient of The Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The award, managed by Baylor University, encompasses all faculty throughout higher education.

What a great honor for him, for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and for the entire College.

Since its beginning in 1991, the Cherry Award has been given to 18 teachers, including Bob Bell, the Frederick Latimer Wells Professor of English, in 1998, and Colin Adams, the Thomas T. Read Professor of Mathematics, in 2003. The faculty at no other college or university has received more than one.

Focus on the quality of teaching here at Williams has long been a part of the College culture, and an occasion like this reinforces that pride.

But today belongs to Ed, whose contributions to mathematics, to teaching, and to Williams are truly extraordinary.

With regards,
Bill Wagner
Interim President

The full announcement is at

Off Campus

No posts for the next three days, as I will be in Vermont investigating the Northeast Kingdom (and on the road when this post goes live.) Have a good midweek, all.

Four Proposals for Residential Systems

Note: This is a copy of the e-mail sent to the campus, edited for formatting.
Greetings Campus,

College Council invites you to attend the third Neighborhood Review Forum, which will be held tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 12, at 7:30 pm in Baxter Hall.  The Neighborhood Review Committee and the Committee on Undergraduate Life will present four proposals for future residential systems at Williams College.  We welcome all questions and feedback.  Please read below for more information on the proposals.  The full second interim report of the Neighborhood Review Committee can be found at

See you tomorrow!
Lizzy Brickley and Mike Tcheyan
CC Co-Presidents

Four Proposals for Residential Systems
To Be Discussed at the Third Public Forum, January 12, 2010
Sponsored by the Neighborhood Review Committee, The Committee on
Undergraduate Life, and College Council

No posts today

I've got too much to read for class. There's a backlog of links on Google Reader, though, so here they are:

Most of these are credited to the Daily Dish for pointing me to them, but mostly becauseI can save those links. Have a good day!

Sarah Palin about to get savaged?

So says this article.

Like the story about senior Edwards aides considering when to torpedo their candidate, this story is about a GOP "operation Apocalypse" apparently being unleashed tonight on 60 Minutes.

I wonder if it's true.

Real Headlines, Part 3:

Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady of the Night: DC Cops Can Arrest You for Carrying More Than Two Condoms

Pixar: a conservative force

This article makes a valid and important point about the role of conservatism:
There is something conservative about much of Pixar's output, but when I say conservative, I mean a small “c” conservative that sees the world along the same lines as Edmund Burke: “A disposition to preserve.” I'm going to call this “social conservatism,” by which I don't mean the religious or moral conservatism of modern political discourse, but a conservatism that is interested in preserving traditional social features - in particular, the idea of “family” - but which sees such preservation as ultimately futile. The family will dissolve, eventually, and so we must do what we can to keep it going as long as possible. It is a worldview based not on progression but on loss.

John Edwards: What a farse

The end of excerpt from Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
As Palmieri predicted, the Nightline interview did nothing to rehabilitate Edwards—and the months thereafter only brought him more misery. Isolated, scorned, turned into a national punch line, Edwards slipped into a dark place. His weight plummeted. His countenance turned sickly. Some of his former aides began to fear that he might kill himself. And though the extent of his ruin didn’t reach that depth, the nightmarishness of his circumstances remain hard to overstate. A North Carolina grand jury is expected soon to reach a conclusion in its investigation of whether Edwards or his associates illegally used campaign cash to cover up his affair. Hunter is suing him for child support. And next month Andrew Young will publish a tell-all book that promises to give new definition to the term sordid.

As for Elizabeth Edwards, she is reportedly now urging John to accede to Hunter’s demands and take responsibility for his paternity of Frances Quinn—a dramatic and no doubt painful turnabout from her position eighteen months ago. Confronted then with the Enquirer photo of her husband cuddling Hunter’s baby, she insisted to Palmieri that she still believed he was not the father. “I have to believe it,” Elizabeth said. “Because if I don’t, it means I’m married to a monster.”

The story of how we got here, though, is even worse.