Friday, December 21, 2007

Tax Princeton's Investment Income?

A proposal by the editorial board of the New York Times:

Amherst, Harvard, Princeton, Williams, Yale and other top-tier colleges have per student endowments that approach (and in some cases exceed) $1 million. Because they are accredited educational institutions, the gains on their investments go untaxed, adding billions to their coffers each year.

It’s certainly true that these academic institutions have worked hard to be excellent. They deserve to be rich. They should be congratulated.

But should they be allowed to be so protected by the tax code that they can use their disproportionate wealth to raid poorer colleges and scoop up the best teachers by offering better pay, benefits and tenure-track positions? Should they further separate themselves from less fortunate colleges by taking the best high school students and offering them ever richer deals? (This month, for instance, Harvard announced that it would increase the financial aid it offers to middle-class and upper-middle-class students. Other schools are expected to follow suit.)

What to do? Well, here’s one solution: tax the investment income of the wealthiest colleges (though not their endowments). If the endowments of all academic institutions were evaluated on a per student basis, a standard could be set that could begin to allow revenue sharing.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays!

The Prox will return to regular posting during reading period, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Is it really all over?

The latest news is in. The ordeal is over.

The events of the last three days have shaken my conceptions of Princeton University to the very core while at the same time pumping adrenalin through my veins.

First I felt sadness, panic and outrage at the thought that Princeton students might resort to such brutal methods of silencing dissenting opinions.

Then, confusion: The story didn’t quite add up; questions swirled through my mind as we tried to piece together the clues. Why Nava? Why now? What were the details?

Paranoia: What if it was a random attack? Would it be safe to walk to the Wa after sunset? Could it be a hoax, as some people were arguing on the comments section?

Guilt: How could I think it was a hoax? People don’t just give themselves concussions (I’m still unclear as to the extent of Nava’s injuries), and in any case, one ought to believe the victim unless evidence is found to the contrary (isn’t that what those speakout signs in the girls’ bathrooms say?).

Anger: How dare the conservative element (or at least, some vocal conservatives) attack the liberals on campus in such a way? The acts of two rogue thugs do not represent a complete political spectrum.

And then, perhaps most draining of all, there was a certain sense of abandonment. Something drastic had just happened. From the beginning it was clear that no matter how Nava’s story developed, it would be bad. Yet, for two days students were forced to dig up our own (contradicting) clues while we were supposed to be writing papers and studying for exams. Not a word from the University. Not a word from Public Safety.

Now, the latest news is in: it was a hoax after all. To a certain degree, relief has set in. There are no violent ideological Mafiosos, no men in ski masks (or was it funny hats?) walking around dragging students into dark places to beat them senseless. Instead, it was all the work of a single individual, the alleged victim himself…

But, I still feel uneasy. Nothing Nava has said to date has been reliable, is this latest statement really any more reliable? And did he do this by himself? Why? Are these the actions of a poor soul who has in the past suffered from mental illness, or is something more sinister afoot?

Whatever the truths of this case, I hope with all my heart that it is the former and that Nava will be able to recover fully and come to terms with what it seems he has done. I hope that the investigation will be continued in an effort to remove all doubt from the minds of students, but also to ensure that justice is truly done.

I hope that people will reserve final judgment until all the facts are finally assembled, and once that is done, that we may come together as a campus to discuss the deep issues which divide us and then bridge them. We have in the past failed to really rise to the task of fostering debate and creating a truly inclusive community. Past shows of solidarity have been lacking. Let these three days serve some purpose, let it be the thing that finally unites us and causes real radical change.


this just in

As some of our commentors have noticed: according to Princeton Township Police, Nava has admitted to fabricating the story. Nava apparently sent the threatening emails to himself (and others). Whether there's more to it remains to be seen. Maybe he fabricated the concussion too.

Many on this blog and others have expressed concerns that Nava's attack was not made publicized enough. Although I agree that students and other campus-goers need to be informed, this case has demonstrated the necessity of waiting until all the facts are in.


Read This First

The recent incident of assault on a member of the Anscombe Society has engendered much discussion and debate from all sides here on campus. Where speculation still exists, I ask you to read and consider the following article published by Ryan Anderson '04 in First Things. Besides serving as an authoritative statement of facts concerning the situation for the time being, Ryan's article is also a cautionary reminder to those (including myself) not to fall into the temptation of taking sides too early. Special thanks to fellow columnist Brandon McGinley for passing the link.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Many Questions, No Answers

Stephen Hsia has already written an eloquent response to the attack on Fransisco Nava '09, so I did not feel compelled to immediately post on the subject. Without knowing more information, I could not add more to the discussion. As I began to dig deeper, I found a strange, incoherent story. Sources which I deem reliable, an RCA close to Nava, Butler College, the Prince, persons affiliated with Anscombe, and even the Tory are either really vague or contradict each other. I'm saddened, terrified, angered, confused, cautious...

I am left with many questions and no answers.

Why was Nava singled out for attack?
Where was he attacked?
By whom?
Were the attacks really in connection with his relationship to Anscombe? (This seems almost obvious.)
Were his attackers prompted to action by the Prince's article on Friday?
Who were his attackers?
What was the extent of the violence? (I have heard conflicting accounts of whether or not he actually received a concussion. There is also the matter of the bottle reported in the Tory's blog--was there a bottle; was it whole or broken?)
How much time elapsed before he was found?
How much time did he spend at the ER?
Did he go to McCosh as well?
Why was the vigil not particularly well publicized?
Why was the vigil canceled? (I have heard two different reasons, one much creepier than the other...)

Why has Public Safety not issued a Campus Safety Alert?
The message could have been completely apolitical: "The Department of Public Safety is alerting community members of an incident that took place at [location] between [time frame]. Two masked men lured a male student to a dark area where they proceeded to violently attack him. The two attackers were described as [descriptions of the attackers], etc."

Why has the University not issued a public statement on the matter?
By now the rumor mill is going wild between speculation as to what actually happened and as to why the University has not responded. Is it because the University is biased against conservatives on campus? Is it because the University does not wish to issue a public statement until all information is in? Is it because the University does not wish to acknowledge the incident in light of the fact that we are in the middle of the application season? Is it because the University is trying to hide something? Is it because the University is not allowed to at the current moment to issue a public statement? I really don't know what the answer is. I really don't understand why the University has not issued any campus-wide email, even as a means of damage control.

Feel free to give answers or ask more questions.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Somebody please explain this to me

I was shocked to find out this morning that a member of the Anscombe Society had been attacked in Princeton Township, possibly in connection with threatening emails that he received a day earlier.

My prayers and condolences go out to the victim, his family, and his colleagues who, no doubt, are in a similar state of shock and fear. I am also deeply saddened for our campus, for what I found to be just as shocking as this heinous crime has been the University's (and our) response to it.

Somebody please explain this to me: A swastika or a homophobic remark appears somewhere on our campus, and immediately there is a university-wide backlash: first, the investigations by Public Safety, then the official statements from the administration, and then the activism and outcry of student groups.

But when a member of a morally conservative student group receives a threatening email, or is attacked, there is little beyond a Breaking News update on the Prince's website. As far as I know (and forgive me, for I don't know all the details), the involvement of Public Safety and the administration in this whole matter has been either late or nonexistent.

Perhaps more unsettlingly, the reaction of the student body has been noticeably silent. Maybe it is because the incident occurred just outside our Bubble, or maybe it is because it is nearing the end of school, or maybe it is because the Prince isn't printing on Mondays or Tuesdays - but the last time I checked, a crime is still a crime, and to paraphrase MLK, an assault on one Princetonian is an assault on all. I must admit, I, too, have been surprisingly ignorant of the situation until of late.

This is not a call to revenge or anger. Nor am I trying to make the case that religious and moral conservatives are the true persecuted minority on campus. I only ask for solidarity with the victim and his peers, and that all hate crimes on this campus be treated with the fair application of justice and given at least a respectful level of attention. We may not agree with each other - liberal or conservative, Christian or non-Christian, pro-life or pro-choice - but one thing that we can all agree upon is the civility of our viewpoints, and the dignity of the individual.

A show of solidarity for the members of the Anscombe Society will take place today (Saturday, December 15) at 4pm in Murray Dodge and is open to all.

Blogger's Note: The 'Show of Solidarity' ultimately did not take place, but was appropriately postponed/canceled at the last minute. My sincere apologies to all those involved.


Friday, December 14, 2007

underachieving is so attractive

I've noticed a trend in the dining halls, on the way to class, during momentary lulls in lecture: students really like to talk, to boast, about how little sleep they get.

It might make sense if, like the Japanese, we were bragging about how very hardworking we were (see BBC's mention of inemuri, 居眠り, apparently the Japanese custom whereby the higher-ups of a company are permitted, even encouraged, to doze off during meetings, as a sign of how hard and how late they've been working the night before).

However, what I hear, as I dig into my shepherd's pie, is not: "Man, I stayed up all night making sure my essay was perfect! My fingers were literally glued to my keyboard!"
It's not even: "I spent all morning finishing up my calc homework so I could catch office hours this afternoon."

Instead, people proclaim, "I have an essay due in less than 24 hours... and I haven't started it."
They loudly confide, "I didn't study at all for that last physics test."
They realize, "I'm not going to be able to sleep at all tonight, thanks to my procrastination."

It's really bizarre that we should be so proud of the time we spend playing solitaire, or checking facebook, or just not doing work in general. Is it some sort of machismo, the new spitting contest to see who can slack off the most, then suffer the most because of it? Is it an excuse for poor performance - I stayed up all night watching YouTube videos, give me a break for failing that chem exam! Is it a plea for sympathy? A cry for acknowledgment?

I can't pretend to understand it, but I have to plea guilty to it myself. Look guys, it's 4AM!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A timeless story,

This is old news, and some of you may remember the Mr. Wilson College Princeton Rap, but I just found it on YouTube:

The lyrics can be found here.


Whitehouse, meet Whitman

"Select few dine with Rove at Whitman"

I chuckled when I first saw this headline in Wednesday's Prince.

I have always wondered what goes on behind the closed doors that is the Whitman Private Dining Room. And now, I can only imagine the reaction of the students outside of it on Tuesday night, seeing an unpublicized Karl Rove come out of its doors - tray in hand and all.

Already, Whitman -with its exclusive college nights, ice sculptures, and its three-piece college-gear sets- has become an exclusive club in its own right: its plans are still shrouded in secrecy, while its doors remain open to only a 'select few'...

How fitting that the biggest backroom boy there ever was would feel right at home here!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

20 Questions and hypochondria.

Before I left McCosh, the doctor asked, "Oh,
no worries about pregnancy or anything?"

I didn't really know how to react, or rather, how
she expected me to act. Did she want me to:
A. Be grateful that this stranger is kind enough to
worry about all aspects of my health?
B. Be offended?
C. Laugh?
D. Or have an epiphany; confess to her that I came
to McCosh, not because I was feeling sick, but
because I was pregnant???

I chose C.


And now, the exciting conclusion:

Apparently this is an authentic Japanese Self Defense Force recruitment advert. It was the exciting conclusion to my exciting Japanese history course. And, because it is impossible to have a conversation on Japanese history textbooks in precept without talking about the Germans, here's another add that was played (albeit only once) in today's lecture.

This is why I <3 Princeton.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

When the Grinch came to Princeton, there was nothing to steal

Winter is really dreadful, and the one thing that redeems it is the fact that the best holidays are nicely bundled with it. There's nothing quite like walking down Fifth Avenue and taking in all the lights after the sun has gone down. There's a kind of magic that mingles in the air with the carols and the Salvation Army bells as one meanders through the Union Square Holiday Market with friends and a hot cup of cider.

Having grown up in New York I find the comparative lack of holiday cheer here to be murder. I wish the College had sprung for a nice Christmas tree and lights and garland, not to mention the equally spectacular decorations associated with the other winter holidays.

It would have made all the papers and darkness more tolerable.


Monday, December 10, 2007

The College Experience


Princeton makes it easier for you to gain the
Freshman 15, Freshman 50, etc. Next semester,
you can walk right over to Frist to grab candy,
a milkshake, and more candy?

Thank goodness for stretch jeans.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ivy League Risk Reboots

The tournament gives each person who logs in "armies," like the Risk board game, which can attack other Ivy League schools. More than 1,100 Princeton students and alumni are currently playing the game. After Ivy Leaguers flooded in November, the Ivy League Risk Tournament was forced to shut down to improve their server capacity. Now the battle begins again, with Harvard and Penn already eliminated. Princeton students can join here. A group of more involved students set up a forum -- complete with orders and discussions of strategy -- here. The site first launched over fall break , so whether students have as much time to participate is an open question...


Another (less gourmet) face to Ratatouille

I raised a great hullabaloo
When I found a large mouse in my stew,
indent Said the waiter, "Don't shout
indent And wave it about
Or the rest will be wanting one too!"
indent indent -Anonymous
This might have described the scene a bit when a couple of hapless Whitman diners observed that there was a bird living in the serving area of the dining hall. This is the second time I've seen him, or at least the second time I've seen a bird there.

I'm actually surprised by the fact that it didn't occur to me just how unsanitary that is until I saw those guys freaking out over it. Anyway, as the guys pointed out, most of the food in Whitman has glass on top of it.

Except of course, for the desserts. Trust Murphy to have the bird perched right over there. Mmmm, bird dropping icing...

Well, I suppose it's an incentive to eat in Wu/Wilcox or skip dessert.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cautionary Tales

I'm certain that Lillian was joking on that last post of hers, and I absolutely adore Wikipedia.

However, I feel it is my duty to point out the dangers of Wikipedia, lest ickle Frosh fall prey to them. (I'm not sure how world-savy the class of '11 is; some of my '09 peers ran into problems citing Wikipedia during my Writing Seminar...)

Since I am not the History Librarian, I am not as puritanically opposed to Wikipedia as some might be. However, in my time I have seen some pretty strange things up on the Free Encyclopedia.
A while ago I stumbled on this little gem of Wikipedia vandalism. (I just wasted half an hour looking for it in the article's History. People do some weird stuff to Wikipedia.)

I also knew this guy who used Wikipedia to study for his British History exam. He unfortunately lost all points relevant to his discussion of the 1916 general elections, as there were apparently no elections that year.

And let's not forget that delightful dalliance with Stephen Colbert's beautiful use of Colbert Nation to vandalize Wikipedia. Oh yes, he also has some good points about wikiality and Second Life.

In fact, not only does Wikipedia actually have a list of most vandalized articles, but it also keeps a repository of Bad Jokes, Silly Things, and Other Deleted Nonsense.

Of course to be fair, there are some exceptionally good articles on Wikipedia. I won't tell you which ones however, because they might be completely different within the hour.

So, anyone here have any good stories about Wikipedia?


Wikipedia is now a valid academic source!

...or, at least, one of the co-founders has said that he doesn't object to it being used as such, this in contrast to his past statement that students really shouldn't rely on it.

Don't worry, we on facebook already knew that If Wikipedia Says It, It Must Be True. Besides, if you weren't intending for it to be used for academic purposes, why exactly did you make it? I didn't think it was for anything like this:


Friday, December 7, 2007

Pst... what's your secret?

When I first saw the Tiger Secret post cards the first thing I though was "so much for academic integrity."

When I told my brother, he answered "Nothing good can possibly come of this."
My brother happens to be a pessimist. I am too, so I agreed with him. Still, I picked up a post card. I haven't filled it out yet. I'm not sure if I will.

How about you?


Thursday, December 6, 2007

cycling for cancer?

I was walking past the Frist Campus Center today when I saw someone on a stationary bicycle, pedaling madly for no apparent reason. A small table next to him held a bottle of water, along with his wallet and cell phone (begging the question of what he would do if someone called it), and another nearby surface conveniently offered up an array of wrenches and other tools - in case the bicycle suddenly broke down while he was pedaling on it, I suppose.

"Um, excuse me," I asked. "What are you doing?"

"I'm recharging my iPod," he told me. "Rockey's got a power outage."

Okay, actually that's not how it happened. Let's try again.

"What are you doing?" I asked him. "Who are you?"

"Screw Princeton," he told me. "I'm biking to Florida."

Okay, I admit, that's not what he said either.

"Excuse me please," I said, very agitated now. "You're obviously not going anywhere, and I don't see any wires or anything hooked up, so I don't think this is some sort of energy experiment. Why are you doing this? Aren't you cold?"

"It's for cancer," he said. "Everything is for cancer."

Truth is, I was late for class, and he did look rather busy, so I didn't ask him anything. Can someone please tell me what this guy was doing?


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Homophobic slurs on Whitman blackboards.

"Blackface" in Forbes.

Anti-Semitic pictures in Bloomberg.

The word “beaner” in the Daily Princetonian.

And let’s not forget the whole Lian Ji affair.

Is it just me, or is it time for the University to do more than hand out ridiculous fliers decrying bias? And for the record the word isn't bias (bias can be a good thing. Personally, I'm biased against the Nazis). The word, depending on the circumstance, is bigotry and/or insensitivity.

To be honest, I don't think Josh Weinstein meant to be either offensive or racist by donning black face paint. I also don't think Jonathan Baker knew what the word "beaner" meant when he used it. (Actually, the only time I'd come across it before was in Mencia's "comedy" but I know better than to parrot ethnic comedians.)

Still, it seems that Princeton University students (and alumni) are not attuned to the history or significance of minority issues--which in turn must reflect badly on our own attitudes towards universal human dignity. Let me echo "The fact that so many here are unaware of what goes on even inside the 'orange bubble' makes me rue the day when these individuals will be unleashed on the real world."

If the University truly wishes for its alumni to abide by its unofficial motto: Princeton in the Nation's Service and in the Service of All Nations, then it must take significant steps to educate its students about these issues, and it must do so beyond the scope of the completely optional, and therefore, optionally invisible student body groups. Either a significant part of orientation must be devoted to the issue, or some change must be made to the graduation requirements to prohibit an individual from leaving Princeton without knowledge and understanding of these issues.


can somebody please do this to the CS building?


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fire Drill in Whitman

Miraculously, this is the first fire drill (or maybe it was a prank or a real fire, I'm not sure) I've witnessed this year... I'm not quite sure if my ears will ever be quite the same.

I overheard somebody commenting that he didn't know what would make him more upset, if it was a drill or if there was a real fire.


because billionaires need education too!

Does this not make you wonder about the adults you sometimes see in lectures?


Monday, December 3, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been getting this uneasy feeling whenever I pass by the front of Frist. After all, where else on campus can you find a makeshift memorial for AIDS orphans on one side, and a rugby player peddling for cash on the other?


Front page, get a facelift.

'Blackface pics spark controversy'
'Travelers face falling dollar'
'The myriad faces of Princeton'
'Facebook edits software program'

Did you notice the magic word in 4/5 of today's front page headlines?

...ladies and gentlemen, we have a yahtzee.


Keeping our priorities straight since 1746.

I really hate to be such a Negative Nancy, because I love Princeton. It's great. The academics are great; the professors great (though I hear bad things about the math department? But what about John Nash?); the people are great. Everyone's singing all the time under arches, and if the work were less difficult or, you know, nonexistent, I'm pretty sure USNews would have declared that Princeton was the happiest place in the world.
But sometimes, I just don't know what to make of the Princeton experience...

Need to brush up on your networking etiquette?

Want to learn how to schmooze with recruiters and alumni?

Interested in improving your connections?

Come to the NETWORKING ETIQUETTE EVENT hosted by Career Services where a Professional Etiquette Consultant will help you understand how to communicate effectively while holding food and a drink and prepare for the Alumni Connections Event at Prospect House on Wednesday.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Princeton Is Just Like Hogwarts!

Or maybe it's more like elementary school...

Actually, elementary school and Hogwarts might not be so different, though I won't go into the details of What's Wrong with Hogwarts because I've already been called "Hermione" once today for over analyzing the biases sustained by Gryffindors against sentient non-magical races, which in the end might make them more similar to the Slytherins than most wizards would like to admit. (And because this post already contains too much over analyzing of Harry Potter as is.)

This aforementioned comment was inspired by a conversation over which Hogwarts House Princeton would be. Surprisingly, I was not the one who started the discussion--I actually walked in on a meeting of the blogging staff ten minutes late and found them discussing the matter.

Well, if we take into account that clearly we are the best (just ask the US News and World Report), and the fact that we're theoretically working in the Nation's Service (and the Service of All Nations), we're probably Gryffindors.

But then again, we are pretty academically rigorous. We have to do all that independent work: the JP and Senior Thesis are rather unique to Princeton. And don't forget our high ranking. We're probably Ravenclaws.

No, no, wait! We have that Honor Code thingy. Clearly that means that we're impeccably honest and honorable. Plus, orange and black are pretty similar to yellow and black. We're probably Hufflepuffs.

Hufflepuffs? Of course not! How dare I even consider the prospect? Everyone knows that Hufflepuff is where all the losers go (well, I guess Cedric and Tonks were OK, but they both died...). Princeton is far too refined for that. As we're constantly told, we're the leaders of tomorrow, and if the admissions process weren't selective enough (which I'm assured that it is), we've got tons of hurdles once you've gotten in to maintain the prestigious pedigree of our Eating Clubs, Woodrow Wilson School, and now, thanks to College Night, even the Residential Colleges. Obviously, we're Slytherins.


Thursday, November 29, 2007


I never realized that the Daily Princetonian had newspaper boxes! Today I spotted not one but two of these black beauties, lurking about the most unexpected places. One was in the midst of Spellman - right in the middle of its central diagonal sulcis, tucked in where every Forbesian and Spellmanite will see it every day... and no one else will ever know of its existence. The other one was up by Marx hall, waiting stealthily among the architecture.

They actually look pretty awesome, sleek and black and tigered on the side, but considering how discreetly these two were placed, I feel sure that there's lots more I haven't found. Report sightings of this elusive species here.


Dude! The Mudd has a blog!

I am pleased to announce the creation of this blog to keep you up-to-date on the news and activities of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Watch this space or subscribe to our feed for news on new collections, exhibitions, finding aids and other information concerning activities related to the Princeton University Archives and the Public Policy Papers. The staff of the Mudd Library continues to work to make our holdings accessible in various ways using both traditional and new methods, and this blog will inform you about all that is available.

If you have any comments, please use our comment feature. We look forward to communicating with the University community and beyond through this blog.

Daniel J. Linke, University Archivist and Curator of Public Policy Paper


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On the thirteenth day of Christmas, my true love went bankrupt...

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Anyone who's thought at all about the lyrics to this song has probably wondered A) why exactly my true love feels that assorted fowl make good gifts, B) whether the maids were actually milking as they were delivered through the door, and C) how much do all these things actually cost?

More than ever, says MSN Money, at least in response to the last question. The cost of true love is higher than ever, with seven swans a-swimming taking a nice 4.2k out of your pocket. Four calling birds cost 25% more than they would have last year, and that's to say nothing of the five golden rings.

Maybe this year you should skip a few birds-- PNC estimates the total cost of the song, all verses included, at about $78,000. That's almost as much as a Princeton education*!

(I realize that this is a bit out of season, but I'll be the first to admit that I've been counting down to winter break since Black Friday.)

*Just kidding. Nothing costs as much as that.


Once upon a midnight dreary...

I had to stop by McCosh--the infirmary, not the lecture hall. Well, I suppose it wasn't midnight. Or really all that dreary, but I made an unfortunate discovery: McCosh is one of the most dismally depressing buildings I've ever been in. Once you've made it past the large front doors (the only access after-hours) there's this rather cold hall and a sign telling you to take the elevator to the second floor. Those of you who have seen Harry Potter 5 will know what I mean when I say that Dolores Umbridge could very well have designed the elevator.

Although I've never seen a more depressing shade of pink, the real drag are the rooms themselves: the white walls are mostly bare, the furniture doesn't match, the bedspreads are plain white. The room almost reminded me of the bare cell I lived in while I was working in Paris two summers ago, except well, that that room had the decided advantage of (a) having a large window, and (b) being in Paris. Maybe I wouldn't have noticed the dreariness of the rooms if not for the fact that the infirmary at my high school was cheerily decorated in themed rooms with bright posters and bedspreads. Of course, there were two beds to a room, and no desk. I suppose you give and take...

Just another reason to avoid getting sick I suppose.

And, on a completely unrelated note, the library mouse I'm using is a ball mouse--I didn't even know they made those anymore.


Sorry to recycle the images... And a belated Thanksgiving post.

With just a few months of Princeton, you, too,
can experience the transformation!



Or maybe:

And after?


Monday, November 26, 2007

Overkill much?

First there were the t-shirts, then the hoodies, then the baseball caps, the beach towels and the seat cushions, and last Monday, the sweatpants... I was betting that next we would get Whitman tennis shoes, or socks at the very least, though umbrella's would have been nice too.

They went for cookies. Whitman cookies. Unfortunately I ate mine before it occurred to me to take a photograph, and when I went back for more, they were all gone. Of course, this is all news to you if you don't happen to belong to Whitman College. Today they were actually checking proxes, which I had figured the card checker would do--but still, to actually be asked for my prox before being allowed to swipe, to say that it didn't feel right is a very big understatement.

So, what do you all think of College Night? Are the other colleges asking for "papers" as well? Really, I want to know.


Happy Thanksgiving - and Welcome Back!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

Some of you may have seen this already.

I think this is exactly what it wrong with civilization today.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Achievements and Wishes

Mondays are bad. Ask Garfield. To make things worse, go to It's hours of fun, I promise. Pictured at right is my favorite of their demotivators. (This is fair use, right?)

Maybe that's what the person who put the wish grid up in front of Frist was thinking. I really wish I had a picture of that. Anyone know what it is? I asked the people at the Frist Help Desk, but they had no idea. My bet it's that it's a work of art... Though the people in my philosophy precept seemed to like the idea of it just being a wish grid for the sake of wishes. I guess that's nice too.

Oh well, Monday's almost over, and tomorrow will be Tuesday, and then it's almost the weekend (and this time, it's true too!)


obligatory snow entry

image from dkimages
It snowed this morning, twenty minutes of glory in the form of feathery-cold touches on the cheek and upturned eyelashes. It was like someone put a giant snowglobe over campus just in time for the 10AM rush. Those of us who thought we had gotten the short end of the stick (or at least the schedule) with all our morning classes discovered this morning that nope, it was fate after all.

It's said that no two snowflakes are alike, and the science behind this is such a good metaphor that I'm surprised we don't hear more about it. The shape of a snowflake is determined by the surrounding temperatures during its formation, but the growing snowflake is constantly blown about, and the tiniest shifts in temperature can determine whether it's a spike that grows here or a rod. No two snowflakes have the same history, no two snowflakes take the same path from sky to ground, and thus no two snowflakes are identical (though one could theoretically create an exception if one tried really, really hard).

This first snow of the season inspired flurries of discussion in classrooms (anything to avoid work!), and it was fascinating to observe all the different backgrounds from which we come. Princeton values its diversity, and so we had the full range: all the way from people who had never seen snowfall before (including the tearful, "I missed it!", met with a general chorus of sympathy), to people hailing from Alaska (I know we have at least one!) or who knows where else: Antarctica, Sibera, Mount Everest...?

I come from somewhere in between. I spent a good portion of my school life in the snowy land of Syracuse, NY, the only city that would actually cherish the "Golden Snowball Award" (scroll down to the Winners section: this contest is rigged!). Getting two feet of snow overnight and still going to school the next morning was the norm for us, and our snowplows were so efficient that Syracusan children probably grew up thinking snow only fell on lawns and somehow always happened to miss all the streets and highways.

What are your backgrounds with snow? Tell us of your wintry pasts. I've always wanted to know - is it really possible to make a snow angel?

PS. Does anyone remember snowflake origami?


First Snow of the Year

Princeton's not blanketed yet, but anyone who got up early this morning saw the first snowflakes of the year.


Sunday, November 18, 2007


Apparently, they're from Rutgers.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Apparently, I am not Steven Colbert :-(

On Wikipedia, one thing always leads to another. Somehow I ended up on the article about the Cannon. It is unfortunately sadly incomplete, and probably written by Rutgers students. Therefore, I am calling upon every orange-blooded tiger: Go forth and fix this travesty. Inform the masses about our proud tradition.

(Image is from Wikimedia and depicts Rutgers students defacing the cannon.)

Edit: Where have all the heroes gone? No one has gone and edited the Wikipedia article. Come on people, where's your Princeton pride?


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Maybe I'm missing the point...

but since when is mustard gas funny?

And while we're on the topic, is it fair game to call out "Godwin's Law"?

Probably not, but you get what I mean.

(On the other hand, I do like the Big Brother one quite a lot.)


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lehman Brothers? I'm sorry, what?

I don't know what investment banking is, but I am starting
to think that I could learn to be interested in it. I mean, if
everyone else is doing it, I should do it, too, right? I mean,
there is a reason why it's such a popular career choice? It's
because they're passionate about it, and if so many people
can be and are passionate about investment banking, well,
I guess I could learn to be passionate about it, too!


I-Banking for Dummies

Has anyone been noticing Citicorp's 'I-Banking for Dummies' posters strewn across campus recently? I hope you picked up on the double meaning...


Labyrinth Books opened today, as I discovered on my way to Starbucks. I decided to see what the place had to offer. I have to say, blue linoleum floors do very little for me. This new book store seems to lack the indie hipness of independent Micawbre, the orange familiarity of the U Store, and last but not least, the corporate comfort of omega corporations like Borders and Barnes and Noble. I think I may finally take the Amazon plunge.


Stricter Alcohol Policy -- What are your thoughts?

(Graphic by Stephen Hsia)

The Prince first reported last Thursday that the University has announced a stricter alcohol policy, including Public Safety Officers patrolling residence hallways and having RCAs discourage and report incidents involving alcohol.

On Friday, students expressed their concern in this story.

The Editorial Board and Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan
made their arguments in opposing editorials in Monday's paper, with the Editorial Board attacking the policy for an "unconscionable disregard for student opinions and concerns," and Dean Deignan responding that the enhanced role of RCAs was envisioned after visits to other Universities, and aimed at preventing "pre-gaming" and excessive alcohol abuse.

Are the new patrols and the increased roles of RCAs too draconian, a valid method of protecting student safety, or somewhere in between?

With the poll and in comments, we want to hear your thoughts.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What ever happened to PDF reform?

It's a bad sign when the alarm goes off at seven in the morning and the first thing that comes into your head is: "Oh dear Lord, I should have PDFed this class." (Almost as bad as the time I thought to myself "Thank God it's Tuesday, because that means tomorrow is Wednesday, and then it's almost the weekend.")


Monday, November 12, 2007

how to stay awake in class

1) Please don't tell me to get more sleep. Just... just don't.

2) My old trick was the good old water bottle. Not only does it keep you hydrated, the act of gulping wakes you up a bit. When I started nodding off, I'd just take a drink of water. Of course as the lecture proceeded it'd take more and more drinks to keep me awake, and by the end of class I'd be chugging the whole thing. Also, a lot of lecture halls ask you not to bring in water. Too bad.

3) Doodling is also good. The problem is that I've found teachers really don't like this. I think if someone were to sit down and explain that the alternative is sleeping, they'd be far more understanding. That or they'd just tell you to get more sleep at home.

4) Does coffee really work any better than water?

5) I've recently discovered the wonders of gum. Trident works especially well - getting it out of its little foil cubicle is a little hard to do quietly, but I love its slim, inconspicuous shape. Makes it easy to slip from bag to mouth without drawing too much attention. I have however fallen asleep with gum in my mouth, and that's not cool.

6) Seriously, though. "Get more sleep?" Please, if it were that easy, we'd all be sleeping. I'd be sleeping right now. In fact I'd be sleeping in instead of going to lecture, which I suppose is one way to solve the problem.

7) Feel free to discuss other techniques here.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Tonight's Piñata

An e-mail from the USG, in preparation for tomorrow's Yale game:

Maybe there won't be a bonfire this year, but there will be a...
Tonight--11 pm--the steps of Whig
with...delicious treats from the Bent Spoon
Seeya there!

Above is Handsome Dan XVI, tonight's piñata in the flesh. Princeton has a chance to spoil Yale's chances for an Ivy League Championship tomorrow, and end their undefeated season. Yale overestimates Princeton at its own risk: when the bulldog above was chosen as Yale's mascot in 2005, according to a Sports Illustrated Story, it was praised during mascot tryouts for biting at a crimson blanket (for Harvard) rather than a toy tiger (for Princeton). Of course, we all know who was celebrating a Princeton victory the next year:



It's November, and some of us know what that means. Yup, National Novel Writing Month is upon us again. Dust off that muse and stock up on coffee, because it's time to churn out 50,000 words in the next 30 (20 by now, actually) days.

Well, okay, you don't actually have to. But come on, where's the fun in that?

No plot? No problem! (As proclaims the title of the official NaNo book.) All you have to do is keep typing. Your fingers will amaze you, I promise, if only with the hilarity of your typos.

What's the prize for winning, I hear you ask? Well. Hm. I guess you get to have written a novel. Now that's something money can't buy.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oh the complexities of Avenue Q

If you're familiar with Avenue Q, this button might make you laugh. If you're not familiar with Avenue Q, it might still make you laugh. I bought it and stuck it on my bag because

a) I know Avenue Q, and it makes me laugh,
b) I feel like this a good chunk of the time, and having the button makes me laugh,
c) I wanted to buy something at Avenue Q and it was all I could afford, and
d) the proceeds were going to charity, and the more you give, the more you get.
But, clearly I didn't give my purchase enough thought, because having this on my bag says all sorts of interesting things. One of them might be "I'm a spoiled little brat." Which, I am, at least compared to 90% of the world's population. Understandably, this was probably what the University worker who told me that I had the wrong button on was thinking, when she told me that her life sucked more than mine. Delicious irony: that's what the song's all about, people happily competing to get the title of whose life sucks most. (It's Gary Coleman in the show.)

The lady probably had a point. Of course, there's a whole bunch of people on the planet whose lives suck more than hers... But, it set me thinking about it for the rest of the day.

So here's an invitation: Does your life suck? Is it petty to say that our lives suck, or are we entitled to self pity just as much as the next guy? Feel free to rant and rave, wax philosophical, or tell us how your life couldn't be better. Meanwhile, I have an original cast recording to listen to.


Have fun procrastinating with ECO!

Because the one thing every Princeton student needs is some other way to procrastinate, I thought I would share the wealth.

The New York Times
has an interesting blog which ties in with
Freakonomics . If you've taken ECO 101 or ECO 100 it's worth a look. Some of the stuff is really amusing. Or terrifying. Or both. Take this post on middle class suicide bombers for example. Also interesting is this related article on Halo 3. Some of the comments on the post are really priceless, like this one:

This guy is just awful at Halo. Running towards your enemy while shooting them is a viable tactic, except when he gets close, he should be attacking them with a melee attack instead of the grenade. By using the grenade, which takes a few seconds to explode, he solidifies his own (virtual) death. If he just used a melee attack, which is essentially a pistol whip (or a machine gun whip, or a rocket launcher whip… you get the idea), he’d probably not only survive most encounters, but come out victorious as well.
Because the issue at hand is clearly Thompson's Halo 3 skillz. Not.

If you're not really into reading, but prefer just to look at clever diagrams, I suggest you check out
Jessica Hagy's blog, Indexed. (I also found this via Freakonomics...) I was going to put up a really nifty image from her blog regarding trees and tuition, but Blogger is being stupid.

Anyway, having procrastinated I am now going to go do work. I am in no way, shape or form responsible for any damages that might result from your decision to procrastinate!


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Architectural woes

The Stata Center, pictured at left, has often been listed to me as one of the (few) redeeming features of MIT architecture. To give credit where it is due: it is an interesting building. I can't say that I'd really like to look at it for very long, and it's not the pleasantest building to walk through, but it does have a Dr. Seuss-y charm to it.

Of course, it's what one would expect from Frank Gehry. Apparently however, all those zany angles have come with an unintended cost, and now MIT is suing Gehry Partners. Apparently there's all sorts of design flaws. You can read a fuller version of the story here. According to Wikipedia, this might actually be a pretty consistent problem with Gehry's work, which is especially troubling given the fact that Gehry is currently building a library for Princeton.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Such sweet sorrow...

I read somewhere (I think that it was in The Making of Princeton University) that it takes two years to make a college student, and two more to make a college graduate. Freshmen don't know anything; sophomores think they know everything; juniors know what they don't know. Seniors? As a responsible junior, I must admit I don't quite know what seniors know or don't. Hopefully what they're doing with their lives. And yet, does anyone really know that? When he was 21 Louis XIV threw off the yoke of his regents and declared quite calmly that he was the State. But did he know at that point that he would be the Sun King? I mean, come on! The friggin' Sun King.

Among the things I know I don't know is this: what to do with my life. I also don't have the advantage of being King of the Kingdom of France. (Rather redundant sadly.) It's terrifying. But I suppose the point is that worrying about not being Louis XIV, or Napoleon (a general by 26) is rather pointless. It could be worse. I could be Marie Antoinette. Instead I'm me. Martha Vega. Maybe some day that name will mean something. Maybe it won't. But either way, I'm going to go get lost in the Firestone stacks. I've still got two more years to be a college graduate, and a whole lot more to find my destiny. Meanwhile, I don't want to miss out on everything Princeton has to offer (Firestone, apples, free T-shirts...). Who knows, maybe I'll even meet myself as I wander through the subterranean labyrinth.

For just this instant, however, it is the end of an era, albeit a little one. The time has come to end this post, and with it my relationship with this blog. And so as a worthier pen than mine penned: "Good-night, good-night! Parting is such sweet sorrow."


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's a dark and stormy night...

There's something electrifying about thunder isn't there? The rain sounds so heavy I have half a mind to go out of doors and wash my hair in the rain.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Yeah, but what about Goldman Sachs?


Everything I've Learned about Being a Good "Wife"...

A List of Things I Have Learned to do at Princeton
1. Knit
2. Cook


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Whitman at Night

Because images are lacking and I don't want to do my reading.
I had originally tried to do a panorama. This was all that could be salvaged.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

C a m p u s S a f e t y A l e r t

Campus Safety Alert

This notice is to advise you of an incident that concerns the University community

I won't ask if you received a bunch of these emails recently, because I know all of you have if you live, study, work, or breathe, on campus, on a regular basis. On the other hand, I really don't know how many of you read them.

To summarize: within such and such a period of time, in such and such a dormitory, three laptops were taken from an unlocked room. Please follow these safety tips: always lock your doors (and this is bolded), get a computer lock, and so on, and so forth.

Yesterday, we received an update: the laptops had been taken as a prank, and have since been returned. The same safety tips follow (though locking your doors is no longer in bold).

The entire incident was pretty pointless, despite the thrilling headline ("Incident: burglary and theft"). I'm glad that our campus is so safe that a drawn-out prank is pretty much the extent of our worries.


Instant gratification.

One of the problems with the Internet is that it's instant. The second after I press in Princeton, my friend in Cambridge (England, not MA) can read what I've written. Conversely, I can do the same the second after he presses . This means that if at 5:01:23 he's writing, and he presses send at 5:01:33, there's a good chance it'll be in my Webmail at 5:01:35. All of this means, that if I check my mail at 5:01:30, then again at 5:01:33, and finally at 5:01:36, I'll have something new in my inbox that third time. In any case, it's not completely illogical to check your email every three seconds if you're dependent on instant gratification (and what is the Internet, if not that?). The caveat of course, is that it's very hard to predict when exactly my friend will decide to write me, so it may very well be fruitless to check my email every three seconds... But I'll never know unless I go and check my email (wait a second while I go do that....)

Wow! Totally out of the blue I got an email. (Really, I didn't think I would get one--it was supposed to be funny...) Gee, now there's no lesson to my story. Apparently checking your email every three seconds is not completely futile. But, now that I've gotten that email (and what a happy email 'twas) I don't need to. I've gotten enough email satisfaction to last me at least for the next 3600 seconds or so, so I think I'll go enjoy the sunlight.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Princeton Students High in Spirits on Thursday Nights.

On Thursday nights, my roommates and I discuss
whether or not we should go out, while a choir of
students sing, "Chug! Chug! Chug!"


Apples and Oranges

My schedule this term revolves around McCosh and Firestone: class at 11 in one, followed by class at 1:30 in the other, forming a nice little chiasmus . Naturally then, I haven't been trekking down to ye not-so-olde Whitman for my lunch break (what a summer internship won't do for you...) and have instead opted to dine in ye olde-yet-recently-renovated Rocky. This has prompted a few discoveries, the most important which are as follows:

  1. Whitman apples are unbeatable. Really, they are.
  2. Rocky has Real Food.
I assume that Whitman has what could possibly be passed off as real food, but I have yet to find Real Food. (NB: pizza and sandwiches are part of neither category for the purposes of this discussion.) My first taste of the renovated Rocky was wasabi-crusted salmon. That's hard to beat, but they did, with some absolutely fantastic ratatouille-type thing (now I see what Rémy and Anton Ego were talking about--don't get the reference? Shame on you then...). Today's Real Food choice was some sort of Eastern European sausage dish. Not up to par with the eggplant ratatoille, but a good deal better than pizza.

Now, I should point out that the last time I ate this was in a Parisian restaurant. And so, even as I relished the sweet taste of the sausage, I found myself thinking of summer nights in Paris. Whitman's never done that for me...

Of course, to give Whitman its due as a dining hall, I have to reiterate my previous point: they've got fantastic apples. Their oranges ain't bad either. And their variety is better than Rocky's, to say nothing of the fact that they have a panini machine! (Interesting fact for the non-Italian speaker: panini literally means "sandwiches".)

And then there's poor ol' Wu/Wilcox. The only advantage they have is V8 and grapefruit for breakfast. And their grapefruit wasn't all that great the last time I went. Alas. Oh well. Tant pis.

And since this post is already obscenely long, I'll leave on that point. Ciao.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I set out for the gym, hoping to start fresh.

I would run until I found the will to read all those chapters,
all those pages.

I came back to the dorm, and I felt re-energized. Ready to
take on the challenge of catching up with weeks of unfinished

I have been checking my e-mail and my Facebook for the past
thirty minutes, and I suddenly feel exhausted.


The little joys...

As I was walking back from my morning shower, trying to figure out how to ask my darling professor for a three-hour extension on an optional project, I realized that today's class had been moved to Friday.

Happy happy day. This means I'll probably be able to go back to Mudd today. I can barely contain myself for joy.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Indiana Jones

As I found myself walking to Frist from Mudd (for the uninitiated: where the University's archives are housed), I found it impossible to wipe that idiotic grin from my face.

Why? Because I was looking over University forms from 1934 to 1986 (I would have gone farther, but alas, Mudd closes at five). I think that in the course of any history there must be a point where what has come before stops being alien: suddenly our forefathers seem modern, there's a spark of recognizability, and poof, you finally feel that you understand.

For me, that point came in the 70s. Maybe it's because that's when the University started admitting women, but suddenly the form changes from something cold and foreign to the familiar, and I felt kinship with what has come before.

And being witness to that change, well, that was really, really cool. But now the high has worn off, and my stomach has suddenly realized that I haven't eaten anything other than that latte, a pain-au-chocolat from Witherspoon Bread Co., and a couple of apples. So, it's off to Whitman for me.


Monday, October 1, 2007


Getting to physics in the morning hasn't gotten old yet. Walking to class is special when you're a freshman, special when it's Whitman you're passing through, the freshman of residential colleges, so distinguished by the accompaniment of heavy machinery, the anxious chatter of aching drills. Whitman's South Courtyard seems different every time I go through it, because there's always something new that's under construction there. What's more, the war zone is not fenced off like it is in New Butler, but direct, in your path, so that you walk among the clouds of stone-dust, ducking awkwardly around trucks and carts and people wielding clipboards.

(This picture is a little outdated.)

Today, I saw a bright blue crane, lifting construction workers up to the sky. A few mornings ago, it was huge tent poles for the barbecue; when I walked back in the afternoon, the gigantic sheets they were pulling over the framework was already shading the grass below. On the very first day, there was this guy crouched by the entrance to Hargadon Hall, engraving something in beautifully serifed letters. Idly, I wondered what words of wisdom were to be carved into that polished marble, what famous quote, what inspiring phrase.

It was done by the following day, and it said: Y E S !

"...Yes?" I asked myself. "Yes what? Yes, you have found Whitman college? Yes, we finally finished this damn building? Yes, I will go out with you?? Is it a new system of multiple choice testing - stand here if the answer is yes, sprint down to Jadwin if you think it's no?" Puzzled though I was, I walked over the word frequently in the next few days, feeling a slight rush of affirmation each time I went by. "YES!, your life is on the right track! YES!, after reading this message, you are infused with joy! YES!, there will be tacos today at lunch!"

I didn't feel that any of these was the answer, though there were indeed tacos at lunch, and it got to the point where I absolutely had to look it up. Google pulled through in the end, of course: Fred Hargadon, dean of admissions at Princeton for 15 years, retired in 2003.
Hargadon has long been a national leader in the field of college admissions. He is known for the personal attention he pays to each application and for his active engagement in the life of the campus, including frequent attendance at cultural and athletic events. He also is regarded as a gifted communicator and is legendary in the field of admissions for his acceptance letters that begin with the single word, "YES!"
Mystery solved. YES.

Just about every building at Princeton is named after someone, most of them dead. In the University Chapel, the pews have dedications on the back, In Memory of So-and-So. I wonder if these old names mean anything to anyone anymore. I wonder how many people know Dean Mathey's first name, or remember FitzRandolph's face. I wonder if anyone reads the names of labs and theaters and libraries and thinks, "That Harvey Firestone, what a guy!" or "Man, I sure miss that Tommy McCarter..."

Is there really any point to being remembered as some name, meaningless and dimensionless, if everything else about you will be forgotten? I think, rather than having some building named after me, some street, some gate - if there is a single memorable word I utter in my life, even just one, I'd like to be remembered for that.


Orange Tape

Whitman College, wonderful residential college that it is, has one truly tragic flaw: it bears testament to a terrible sort of myopia which plagued the construction. This shortsightedness is made manifest in many ways, from the grave problem that the buildings have to be retrofitted for accessibility to the significantly more amusing fact that some furniture is still on backorder.

But now, one more thing can be added to the list of things the planning committees apparently didn't think of: Sadly Dining Services tape now bars the entrance to the Whitman serving area through all but one of the wooden arches. I can see the problem to which this might be the solution: to tell the truth the first time I set foot in the dining hall I wondered how they would manage to keep out people who hadn't swiped, especially during peak hours when the cardchecker would be distracted by a long line. Apparently the answer was that they didn't (unless of course the tape was on backorder too and that was the plan all along). What I can't understand however, is why they couldn't come up with a solution that didn't clash with the architecture.

The lady checking card told me the tape was likely to be permanent. I was so upset I forgot to take an apple.


A little bit late...

The sky is a little bit overcast, it took three cups of coffee to get me to see straight, I'm behind on my reading, and my JP has to all appearances decided it hates me... and yet, I feel great.

Something about today feels like the first day of school. Maybe it's the fact that the weather is finally just right, or maybe it's that I can no longer change my classes willy-nilly, or maybe it's that I pressed snooze just four times today. Don't really know why, don't really care why; I feel great. Oh, yes, actually, I do know why. I think it has to do with the apples in Whitman.

Finally, finally I can see why Adam might have risked it all for the little fruit. I still think it should have been a mango--or a pomegranate, although you can't quite bite into pomegranates. Thank you eBay. Actually, I guess it almost makes up for the fact that I've been living in a not-quite finished room for two weeks. They finally came and fixed it, so in theory it shouldn't rain in my room on sunny, yet humid, days anymore. Will I elaborate? Probably not, it seems more exciting this way.

Well, more on Whitman later. More on the library later. Now I have to go read Leviathan. If it had to be nasty and brutish, couldn't it be short too?