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.