Friday, October 31, 2008

In Virginia, College Republicans can taste excitement – and victory

Andrew Kilberg '10 is the Vice President of the Princeton College Republicans. He is in Virginia this week with several members of the College Republicans campaigning for John McCain.

Three thousand. That's how many calls have been made over the past three days by the several Princeton College Republicans who have come down to volunteer for the McCain-Palin campaign in Northern Virginia. Targeting sporadic voters and potential volunteers, we've been working in call centers in Arlington and Sterling, Va. that are consistently packed to capacity. Talking to Virginia voters is fun and really rewarding – the other day I spoke to a man whose wife had a baby boy the day before.

"We get out of the hospital tomorrow," he said, "but I'd like to come in and help you all out as soon as I can." Now that's dedication. With rooms chock-full of people calling out and the front desk phones constantly ringing with people calling in to see how they can volunteer, I've had to put my finger in my ear many times. Working in the McCain-Palin Victory offices certainly has its perks beyond free food and coffee: Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) have come by to speak to the volunteers, and Roberta McCain (Sen. McCain's 96-year old mother) is coming by this evening.

When people find out we're from Princeton, they generally respond with an "Oh! That's cool!" and get right back to work. It doesn't matter where you're from, as long as you're good on the phone and can make the case for John McCain and Sarah Palin. In addition to making calls, I've been helping out the Republican National Committee's surrogates operation. The campaign has deployed tons of surrogates in swing states across the country on bus tours, and I've booked hotel rooms and looked up flights, among other things, for the surrogates.

The excitement here in Virginia is palpable, and Princeton CRs in Pennsylvania report the same level of excitement there. I had to wait in line for an hour on Tuesday to early vote – imagine what the lines will be like on Election Day! Everyone I've spoken to is cautiously optimistic of a McCain-Palin victory. With the national and swing-state polls inching back our way; with Joe the Plumber out on the campaign trail; and with the multitudes of volunteers pouring into RNC Victory Centers across the state, McCain-Palin supporters are feeling more and more confident that our ticket will be victorious on Tuesday.

Beware, Princeton Democrats. At this point in the 2004 election, John Kerry was up in the polls and predicted an electoral victory of 316 to 222 for Kerry. John McCain's a candidate who likes to be the underdog. His campaign was written off in the summer of 2007 – I know, I was there as a Policy intern. Now he is the Republican Party's candidate for President of the United States, and is nipping at the heels of Sen. Barack "Half-an-hour-variety-show" Obama (D-Ill.) When you're woken at 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning to ecstatic screams, know that that's me, running around campus celebrating a McCain-Palin victory. Huzzah.

-Andrew Kilberg '10


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Canvassing in Virginia with the College Democrats

'Prince' Contributing Columnist Charlie Metzger '12 was in Fairfax County, Virginia over the weekend campaigning for Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with the College Democrats. These are his thoughts about the trip, the Obama Campaign's "Ground Game" and its GOTV/canvassing efforts.

Day 1 (October 24th):

I found it especially appropriate that the cover of the 'Prince' today detailed the origins of Fall Break — desire for political activism born out of the Vietnam War.The number of people gathered here at Baker Rink to head down to Virginia is far higher than I thought it would be. Scott Weingart '09, my ride to Virginia, mastermind of this trip, and the Vice-President of the College Democrats, tells me that it’s 48. Only three people don’t show, and we pick up several more last minute before we head out. Before we drive away, Rob Weiss ‘09, President of College Dems, gets everyone fired up.

We actually leave around 8, and arrive in Great Falls, Va. in supporter housing shortly before midnight. On the way, we talk about Virginia’s centrality to the ’08 Election. We’ll be canvassing in Reston, Va., on the edge of Fairfax County, and in the heart of Northern Virginia. Reston is chock-a-block full with new voters; this community, Scott tells us, didn’t really even exist 20 years ago. He expresses it thus: “You’ll be campaigning in the most important part of the most important county in the most important state in the most important election of the last decade.”

Day 2 (October 25th):

We woke up around 8:00 a.m. today and arrived at the Reston/Herndon Democratic Office just after 9:00 a.m. I’m immediately struck by how much more organized the local Obama Office is than was the Kerry Office in my home county (Palm Beach County, Fla.) in 2004. When I volunteered that year, the Kerry office out of which I worked lacked a central organization or hierarchy and was generally a mess. There is a clear food chain at this office. Interestingly, those in charge all seem to be under the age of 30.

We’re shepherded into the second floor of a two-floor building: the ground floor is the original Democratic Office, and the second floor is a massage school temporarily loaned to the Democrats (testament, the staffers in the office say, to how terrible the real estate market in Fairfax County is). We’re greeted and then trained/instructed by a man whom everyone addresses simply as “Gerry.” Gerry is allegedly a big deal; he worked on Capitol Hill for a decade, has taught classes at Penn on elections, and was a bigshot in Kerry’s campaign in Pennsylvania in 2004. We’re once again told how important our work in Virginia will be: “nothing short of crucial.” Bush won Virginia by 360,000 votes in 2004, but the demographics of the state and political sentiments here have changed drastically since then; nowhere is this more evident than in the 2006 Senatorial campaign, in which dark horse candidate Jim Webb unseated popular incumbent George Allen, largely by galvanizing the voters in the tech corridor here. The Democrats have registered 300,000 new voters, but are running as though they’re in second (which, according to, they are decidedly not).

We leave the main Reston/Herndon office and head to what’s called the “Staging Area” — a satellite office where we’re given the packets we’ll use to canvass. My partner Marquis Pullen ’12 and I take a packet each, and we’re dropped off in suburban Reston. We have little success at first; despite the (pouring, miserable, and icy) rain, very few people seem home on this particular Saturday morning. The few voters with whom we make contact are very cordial — a few solid McCain supporters, but mostly swing voters. I have a long conversation with a Treasury Department employee who says that he just “doesn’t trust Obama.” Marquis and I give him some literature and move on.

I’m going to hesitate to make any definitive judgment about my time here until tomorrow night when we leave. It’s difficult to draw any conclusions about my experience here thus far. I think you have to spend an extended amount of time in grassroots in a particular area before you can get a good handle on what the prevailing feeling in the area is (providing you weren’t told what it was already). The volunteers with whom we work seem pleased with our progress, though — and pleased as well with the prospects for an Obama victory a week from Tuesday.

Day 3 (October 26th):

We get up a lot later today—around 9:45 a.m. Gerry at headquarters gives us another pep talk before dispatching us to new staging locations. We’re all elated that today’s weather is several orders of magnitude nicer than yesterday’s: 65 degrees, clear skies, and crisp. Marquis and I are sent back to our location from the day before, while others head to the “Dulles” staging area — clear on the other side of town. The people at our location are elated to see us; we’ve been a real shot in the arm for their canvassing efforts, it seems.

Marquis and I team up with Tom Hollenbach, a psychologist from the Princeton area, to canvass an area called “North Point”, part of which is mostly solidly middle-class townhouses, but a segment of which is an upscale community that we're told would be solid McCain territory if the economy weren’t in its present state. There are a few foreclosures in the neighborhood.

We have a lot better luck today with catching people while they’re home. While some of our fellow Princeton canvassers had ridiculous stories to tell last night, Marquis and I talked to only sane, relatively normal-seeming people. That trend continues today, except for an encounter we have with an annoyed Korean man who tells us that if we knock on his door again, he won’t vote for Obama. Still, only around 25 to 30 percent of the doors that we knock on are answered. An overwhelming majority of the people whose houses we’re assigned aren’t home or don’t want to come to the door.

The highlight of the day, though, is a conversation we (Marquis, Tom, and I) have with a Reston resident named Ron, who is a state trooper for the Virginia State Police. He considers himself very middle class (though his house and his wife’s car would suggest otherwise). Ron seems to be the model conservative Republican values-voter. While he strongly dislikes McCain and has little respect for Palin, he says he’ll be voting for them anyway because of three factors: national security, the economy, and Obama’s pro-choice stance. As he explains to us his views (he does most of the talking at first), I’m fascinated by how much of what he says reflects, near-verbatim, the messages conveyed by McCain and RNC ads: “Obama’s not trustworthy”, “what about that Rezko guy he got his house from?” “He’s had so many plans to fix the economy”, “Iraq has made us safer”, “I love this country — free speech — and it worries me that his wife [Michelle Obama ‘85] doesn’t seem to be proud of America.”

As Tom, Marquis, and I begin to try to systematically reveal the inconsistencies in his argument, Ron begins to look progressively more uncomfortable. By the end, we seem to have at least humanized Obama for him; I concluded about halfway through the conversation that we wouldn’t be able to sway him entirely. All the same, though, Ron is extraordinarily polite. My/our conversation with him is the most interesting I have all weekend.

In final analysis, I’m not sure how much of an impact I made in my two days in Fairfax County. I’ve knocked, in total, on more or less 100 doors. Will Wallace ’09, Treasurer of the College Dems, estimates that Princeton students have knocked on around 10,000 doors over the course of the weekend. My time illustrates for me how important repeated grassroots and GOTV efforts are. We’re told over the course of the weekend that voters who are talked-to face to face by volunteers are significantly more likely to vote than are voters simply contacted by phone, and that knocking on a door and talking to a prospective supporter 7 times is the magic number. After only a weekend, I begin to see why that’s true.

So that we have enough seats to get everyone back to Princeton, I’m assigned to leave with Tom, Marquis, and two other students tonight. Before we go, we have a pizza party and take a group picture, congratulating ourselves on what Gerry describes as “a job very well done.” After campaigning in the rain, in the cold, and walking several miles, the prospect of my warm bed back in the Orange Bubble extremely inviting.


Viriginia Canvassing: Go big or go home

When fifty Princeton students headed down for Virginia this past weekend to canvass for Senator Barack Obama, we all thought the hard part would be getting turned away at people's doors. Instead, the hard part turned out to be slogging through the downpour Saturday afternoon.

Huddling under umbrellas, we were most excited when someone opened his door to talk to us.It also helped that most of the people my friend and I spoke to (we walked in pairs) had already made up their minds for Obama. Of the 100 something doors knocked, we only met three John McCain supporters.

The Obama supporters were of varying demographics too. While we were in Reston, a 60's planned community in Northern Virginia, our turf covered townhouses, regular houses, and large lake-front houses as well. The Obama supporters I met included a white school teacher, some stay-at-home moms, a few retirees, an Asian student, and an African-American nurse.

Of course, it's impossible to gauge the total undecided count for Obama from these encounters. After all, we were merely targeting mostly "sporadic" voters, people who are most likely Democrats who have not voted consistently in the past, this weekend. We left the die-hard Republicans alone.

What's more encouraging for Democrats, though, is the sheer enthusiasm and numbers of volunteers. The organizer of the Herndon, Va. office, which served as our headquarters this past weekend, told us that 33,000 volunteers have come down to Virginia. April, a Californian mom, flew out to Virginia to organize other volunteers. Thousands of Obama volunteers across the state canvassed in the rain while the McCain volunteers stayed inside on Saturday. The mere fact that several of the people I met told me that this was the third time Obama's campaign had stopped by means that Obama must be leaving some kind of impression.

Indeed, the Princeton trip alone, organized by Scott Weingart '09, VP of the College Democrats, drew more volunteers than I can remember from any other event during my time here. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I'd like to think that all this enthusiasm must make a difference.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008


SNOW!!! :)


No, Your Mac Dashboard isn't Broken. It's Snowing in Princeton.

For those of you off campus this week, I'd like to announce one of the strangest things I've seen in Princeton weather in a while: snow. In October. Wasn't it 70 degrees two weeks ago? Merry... er.. Halloween?

The first snowfall was traditionally the cue for the greatest and most infamous of all Princeton traditions: the Nude Olympics. (They've been banned since 1999). For a history, visit Princetoniana. 


Monday, October 27, 2008


Well, we didn't beat Harvard, but the game on Saturday did have a pretty decent turnout considering the horrific weather. (Which, might I add, was vaguely reminiscent of a category 3 hurricane). 


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Photo of the Day: October 22, 2008

Zach Ruchman '10, Princetonian Photography Editor

To purchase this photo and more like it, visit our photo store.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Endowment Still Safe

In case you were worried, Carl Icahn is not, in fact, liquidating his assets. He's only selling his 177 foot yacht so that he can buy an even bigger one. Looks like the Princeton endowment is safe... for now.

To read more:
NY Mag article


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Figures of Speech: All That Free Time Edition

Seeing as this week is so slow, and students find themselves with scads of unscheduled hours, here are some lectures to stave off the boredom.

The One You Can’t Miss. Even on Midterm Week.
This Thursday at 4:30 in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall, Princeton will welcome Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Her lecture, “On the Lighter Side of the U.S. Supreme Court: Customs of the U.S. Supreme Court that Promote Collegiality Among the Justices,” will be followed by a conversation with Provost and constitutional scholar Christopher Eisgruber.
She will hopefully discuss how there are really two high courts: the Supreme Court building has a gym with a basketball court on its top floor.
Because “Figures of Speech” loves you so much: remember to arrive by 4:15 and leave your backpacks and cameras in your room.

No Ticket? No Problem!
The bad news? Tickets are required for the Ginsburg event. If you are sans ticket, here are some alternatives that day, all at 4:30.
The second in a series of lectures on black gospel music is in 101 McCormick.
Over in Dodds, there’s a panel called “Human Evidence: The War in Iraq.” It features a lawyer, photographer, artist, and former National Security Council chief.
For the physics types, try “Statistical Physics Meets Neurobiology: Is Your Brain Wired Optimally?” in A10 Jadwin. (The answer seems to be no right about now).
Y en español, tenemos “Manifesto por un Neocorrido” con el autor Martín Solares en 219 Burr. (If you can’t read that, you’ll have some issues understanding the Spanish-language lecture).
Finally, there’s “Liberals and Libertarians: Common Ground or Separate Agendas?” in Dodds Auditorium in Robertson.

Can’t get enough of the American presidency now that the debates are over?
On Tuesday afternoon at 4:45 in 219 Burr, Professor Alvin S. Felzenberg *78 will address “What Makes for Greatness in a President?” Dr. Felzenberg teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University.
And on Saturday, as part of the Fall Football Lecture series, at 10:15 in McCosh 50, four different Princeton professors (and one moderator) will discuss “McCain or Obama: What to Expect from the First 100 Days in Office.” The panelists are Professors Thomas Christensen, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Russ Nieli, and Sean Wilentz. Professor Keith Whittington is moderating.

Next Week:
Since “Figures of Speech” won’t be posting next week, here’s an event of note for any dedicated readers sticking around on campus over fall break. On Thursday, from 10:30 to 9:30 in 219 Burr, there will be a symposium entitled “Reflections on Religious Liberty.” Princeton’s Professor Robert George will participate, along with five other speakers.

See you in two weeks.


Photo o' the Day : Oct 19. 2008

Woongcheol Yang '10, Princetonian Photography Editor


Thursday, October 16, 2008

New York Revisited: The Good Bits of a Great Festival

As you can probably see from this review, I loved me some New York Film Festival (NYFF). I discussed only the truly great films for the published piece since they defined the experience for me. That being said, the NYFF offered other interesting films which didn't quite reach such a high standard.
Here are my thoughts:

I'm Gonna Explode (Voy a Explotar)

Adolescence: an awkward time filled with raging hormones, social pressures, and according to the new Mexican film "I'm Gonna Explode", tumultuous romances. Roman is the depressed son of a local congressman who meets the bored girl Maru in detention. To pull a fast one on their annoying parents, the kids hide out in Ramon's mansion leading everyone to believe they've run away.

At the heart of the film are two fine performances that expose teenage boredom and the pitfalls of blossoming sexuality. The film falters, however, in its attempt to make the story of teenage outcasts more exciting with a ridiculous infusion of Hollywood-style violence. This clashes and takes away from the often startlingly good central actors and the excellent performances they give.

Ashes of Time Redux

What happens when a world-class art house director Wong Kar-wai and a martial arts movie come together? You get "Ashes of Time Redux" which explores questions about memory and love under the pretext of an action film. The overly complex story about dueling assassins and lost loves takes a back seat to the beautifully shot imagery. Peppered throughout the deliberately slow film, are striking sequences that capture the duelists in almost mythic terms. While one character duels against her reflection in the lake, explosions of water follow her every sword thrust. Awesome stuff.

While it has its share of whiz-bang moments, do not go into this movie expecting a visceral thrill ride. "Ashes of Time Redux" is kungfu at its most meditative.

Night and Day (Bam guan nat)

This Korean comedy twists the now clichéd culture shock genre by centering on a traveler who cares very little about the new land he finds himself stuck in. Sung-nam flees to Paris in order to escape the authorities in South Korea for smoking marijuana. Most interesting about Sung-nam's adventures are not his interactions with the French but his awkward meetings with fellow countrymen. In the city, he interacts with a broad cross-section of his culture including fundamentalist Christians and, most hilariously, a North Korean. Sung-nam cannot help but see the latter in disbelief as an artifact from some distant, fantastical world.

The director Hong Sang-soo echoes the disengagement of protagonist by capturing Paris' iconic landmarks almost incidentally. As the camera pans there are occasionally catches glimpses of sites like the Orsay museum, but the city is deliberately cast as a backdrop for the hero's meanderings. While "Night and Day" has a lot to admire, the movie feels like a series of vignettes- sometimes interesting even amusing but just as often unremarkable.

Remember when I said that I would only talk about the festival's lesser pictures? Well, that was a bit of lie. There was an excellent movie which knocked my socks off that I didn't get a chance to write about in my full review. Here is below:

A Christmas Tale (Un Conte de Noel)

If you have ever found yourself watching a Wes Anderson movie and thinking "I wish this is darker...much darker," then "A Christmas tale" is right up your alley. Don't let the deceptively light title fool you as the relentlessly somber, visually rich flick explores the many degrees of a family's mutual hate.

Following the discovery that the matriarch (played by Catherine Deneuve) of an eccentric family has cancer, the estranged clan has an impromptu reunion over Christmas. Bucking the trend of these dramas are starkly photographed affairs, the director incorporates many haunting images in the film. Periodically, old black-and-white photos of the once happy characters are intercut into the narrative suggesting that a large part of the damaged people died along time ago.

Though the tensions run high between all of the family, the most dysfunctional pair of the brew is the mother and estranged son (played by Mathieu Amalric). Deneuve and a particularly despicable Amalric have such chemistry that their mutual loathing for each other seems absolute. As repelling as it is perversely exhilarating, "A Christmas Tale" stands an intimate yet epic look at a family in crisis.

Movie theater musings

A festival can be held back at by its choice of movie theaters and here the NYFF is a little lacking. The Walter Reade Theater is excellent. Stadium seating and a screen that’s just the right size for the auditorium. Perfect.

As good as the Walter Reade, the Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center is bad. The setting usually reserved for big premieres like the closing night film. This auditorium can literally fit thousands of people, but it was not constructed as a movie theater. This means that you run the risk of getting partial view seats with a big security rail cutting right across the screen. Oh boy! Even if you're a big spender like myself and are willing to lay down $40 for a seat, you are still not guaranteed an ideal movie going experience. I was so far back from the screen while watching "The Wrestler," I had the impression I was watching a television. Luckily, next year Avery Fisher Hall will no longer be used in the festival. All I can say is good riddance!

Final thoughts

It says a lot about the quality of a festival that it can feature such a mediocre theater and still deserve a wholehearted a recommendation. This is the case for the NYFF this year which truly was a pleasure to attend.

More trailers

Below are some trailers of the some of the other films I watched at the fest. For my thoughts on each, go to my published review here. Leave a comment if you find any English versions of the foreign trailers.



The Class (Entre Les Murs)



Waltz with Bashir

The Wrestler
Two clips from the movie


The Prox Live Blogs the Final Presidential Debate

Here is a repost, in a single post, of The Prox live blog of yesterday evening's presidential debate. It focused on the atmosphere in the Frist Center at the debate watching event. A recap of the evening is at the bottom of the post.

The Prox Live Blogs the Final Presidential Debate (8:59 PM)

Welcome to The Prox live blog for this debate. I'll be posting throughout the evening on the mood here in the Frist TV Lounge. Keep refreshing your page every few minutes for updates.

It's not quite as packed as it was for the previous debates. Perhaps a combination of debate fatigue and midterms. There's still a pretty good crowd here.

Oh, and unlike the cable news channels, we won't be doing dial-testing. Strictly unscientific.

Here we go...

The calm after the storms (9:09 PM)
We're almost half an hour in, and it's still pretty quiet here compared with the laughing, cheering, booing, grumbling, and audible eye rolling of past debates. We'll see if it's just because the back-and-forth hasn't really started.
The FOX News-on-McCain's-tax-policy got some laughs and claps, though.

Will you say it to his face? (9:25)
That last question by moderator Bob Schieffer about negative ads got a positive reaction from the assembled when it was asked. Good question, getting some interesting answers. McCain's answers in the back-and-forth are not being well-received. Obama's comments are very well-received.

The Palin Pick (9:45)
You can probably guess how the question on Gov. Sarah Palin went over.

Debate Bingo (9:55)
We have a winner in debate bingo. (The squares are different phrases and words related to the debate).

Joe the Plumber (10:01 PM)
I really hope one of the cable news channels finds Joe the Plumber and interviews him. Forget the pundits. Get Joe's reaction.
But definitely an engaging way to get at the details of healthcare policy.

That’s a wrap (10:16)
For all three of you who followed the live blog, thanks.
Here are some final thoughts on how it went over here at the debate watch in the Frist Center.

There were no surprises tonight. The crowd reacted much better to Obama's comments than to McCain's. This, of course, tracks with the comparative memberships of the College Democrats and the College Republicans, to use one easily available if imperfect measure of leanings here on campus.

The comments that went over best generally involved verbal jousting. Again, Obama's attacks occasionally got applause and nodding, while McCain's ripostes got no response or a negative one. Interestingly, though, the audience noticed when McCain went on the attack -- they just didn't seem to agree.

I really do look forward to one of our cable news outlets finding Joe the Plumber and getting his reaction. No, seriously. Wonder who'll get the scoop. Maybe even a blogger.

As one might expect from any audience watching the debates, especially the Daily Show generation, the less flashy but more policy-focused answers (to the extent that debates ever get into policy) were not as popular. Overall, pretty much quiet interrupted by some applause and laughter.

And now time for me to put a partisan cap on -- literally. After all, this election is pretty historic, but the Phillies are on their once-every-fifteen-years runs deep into the playoffs.


Photo of the day: Oct. 15, 2008

Shin Jae Won '09, Princetonian Photography Editor


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

P-Safe Transporters = Wall-E

Credit goes to Associate Editor for News Tatiana Lau '09 for pointing out the uncanny resemblance.


Photo of the day: Oct. 14, 2008

Daniel Hayes-Patterson '09, Princetonian Photography Editor
View October Photo of the Day Gallery.


Because the one thing I really need at 2 AM is digital coffee

Digital Wawa coffee, no less. I'll be honest: I love Wawa coffee. It's dirt cheap (for coffee anyway) and close enough and convenient enough to have fueled several hundreds of pages. Also: they have hazelnut. Needless to say, living in Whitman has caused my late-night coffee consumption to skyrocket.

But here's another thing about Wawa coffee: it's really simple. Which is why I don't really understand why Wawa has decided to create a website with interactive coffee games and weird music (well, to boost sales, but how exactly?)...

Screenshots and more after the cut.

As far as I can tell, there are three games, which range from the awesome to the moronic. On the high end of the stupid scale there's the "make your cup" game, which essentially allows you to make your cup of coffee by picking your coffee, creamer, and sweetener and their amounts. EXCEPT, that unlike at the real Wa,you don't get to drink it...

Then, there's an almost identical game, which is actually a personality quiz. Wawa meets Quizilla.

How very flattering for just hazelnut coffee and skim milk...

But the best game is this weird etch-a-sketch type thing, which lets you draw in coffee. Not only does the foam you draw with "fade" as you draw more, you can actually use a webcam to upload a picture.

Weird beyond belief. I really wonder what they were thinking.

And of course: the link.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Photo of the day: Oct. 13, 2008

Zach Ruchman '10, Princetonian Photography Editor


Paging Amory Blaine

Nothing ever happens in Princeton—or so goes the Triangle Club’s campus famous song about the “Orange Bubble.” I tend to agree. I’ve been deluded into thinking a new flavor at The Bent Spoon is big news. But, the fact is, on rare occasions, things do happen at Princeton. I mean, compared to, say, Eureka, Montana, we’re practically a burgeoning metropolis.

Which brings me to my point, if you can really call it that. I'm wondering- whatever happened to “Amory Blaine” of the blog, “The Underside of Paradise?” Blaine-his nom de plume- kind of had me entertained for a while, with his grave robbing, quips on Princeton trivia, and casual thoughts on every day life around here. "He" usually said what I was thinking- or what I had vaguely heard about- but usually in a slightly more organized and elegant way. It was like a baby IvyGate, if decidedly less snarky, with more ties to the conservative community. Plus, I liked the pictures. And it kept me off Facebook. So, where did Blaine go?

"In order to focus on the financial crisis, I have decided to suspend my blog. Posting here will not resume until after the financial crisis is resolved and the thousands of high-paying jobs rightfully owed to Princeton graduates return."

Hmmm. Well, judging by the distinct lack of the usual firms holding events on campus or at the Nassau Inn, (but like, Zomg, Barclays is totally the new Lehman, right?) and the fact that something like 1/3 of the senior class has traditionally gone into the financial world, I'm guessing this may be a while.

Good thing Google caches everything. If you missed out and want to catch up: The Underside of Paradise. Thank God for Eric Schmidt.


Figures of Speech: Big scary world edition

This feature will take a look at some highlights of the lectures on the schedule for the week ahead. This week, former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, journalist Steve Coll, and author Philip Bobbitt are giving talks.

The One You Can’t Miss
On Monday at 4:30 in Dodds Auditorium in Robertson Hall, John Bolton will speak on “The UN and American Interests.” Bolton’s civil service culminated in stormy tenure as US Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006. His Senate testimony and eventually recess appointment to the post generated a great deal of controversy, in part because of his past criticisms of the international body. (“"If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.”)
To borrow a phrase from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Bolton was not voted Miss Congeniality in the U.N. Many conservatives still agree with his approach to the U.N. and respect his work there.
This lecture follows news of further developments in talks with North Korea. Bolton, a neoconservative, has criticized the U.S.’ recent approach to the talks.
Word Watch: North Korea, veto power, Condoleezza Rice, and Taepodong.

The Ones You Still Shouldn’t Miss
On Tuesday at 4:30, also in Dodds Auditorium, Steve Coll will give a lecture entitled “The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century.” Coll spent two decades at the Washington Post in the role of foreign correspondent, and later managing editor. He has also written an eponymous book on the Bin Ladens, his second involving that family.
Word Watch: Northwest Pakistan, CIA, videotapes, and dialysis.

Finally, on Wednesday, once more at 4:30 and in Dodds Auditorium, Philip Bobbitt ’71 will discuss his new book, “Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century.” Bobbitt, a law professor at Columbia University, has served in multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican. In the 1970s, he served as Legal Counsel to the Iran-Contra Committee in the Senate. Professor Aaron Friedberg, Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter '80, and Professor Kim Lane Scheppel will also speak; the latter two will be discussants and the former will speak before Bobbitt.
Prof. Bobbitt’s senior thesis was entitled: “On Wittgenstein and a Philosophical Topology.”
Word Watch: Black sites, Boumedeine v. Bush, CSRTs, and ARBs.

Check back next Sunday for a preview of next week’s lectures.


That's one more for Princeton

One more reason to be proud, our very own Paul Krugman has just been given the Nobel Prize in Economics ("The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2008"). The Prince reported it here. The New York Times, for which Krugman is a columnist, moved the story to the top of their homepage, so that at the moment Professor Krugman's face is in the middle of the page. (His column also ran today). The Nobel Peace Prize press release can be found here.

Since the internet is ever fluid, here's a screenshot of the NYTimes homepage at around 10:25 this morning.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Slippery Topics

What’s the best kind of lube to use?

Well, I can’t say that I’m an authority on the best lube, but I can tell you what I like and what I don’t like. Of course, when I finally discovered the necessity of lube (SO necessary), I went for the classics: KY Jelly and Astroglide. I found Astroglide to be ok, but I didn’t really know what made a lube “good” or not, and whenever it got on larger parts of my body it dried into a crust…not cute. So I tried Durex Play Massage, which claims to be a 2-in-1 massage gel and lubricant, and it was better in terms of crusting, but didn’t last quite as long. In all of these cases, handjob to blowjob action was unpleasant because they taste really bad. Once the lube was applied somewhere, fate was locked one’s mouth was going anywhere near it. That summer, an older coworker of mine mentioned how much she hated Astroglide and how superior silicone lubes were to water-based. So my next purchase was Pjur Original Bodyglide, and except for a switch to a slightly different formula (Eros Light Love) I haven’t bought anything else since. It stays nice and slippery for a long time, it doesn’t crust or get sticky, it’s good quality, and one bottle lasts you a while. But remember, don’t use silicone-based lube with silicone sex toys… it can break down the material. If for some reason you’d prefer water based lube, be considerate and pick a glycerin-free formula: sugars feed yeast, and more yeast means yeast infections! Don’t feel confined to the sad CVS selection, the internet is full of lubricants to explore!


I was wondering about poppers, or nitrates being used for a head rush during orgasm. I've done a bit of searching online, and have found some references of their use in gay culture, but would this stuff help a girl get off? I'm not sure if I'm ready to do anal just yet, and was also wondering if this, or anything else (besides lube) would be good to keep around in case I want to experiment.

Inn Experimentation,
PU Shy Hottie

“Poppers” are used recreationally predominantly by gay men, but also by straight men and women as well to get high or for the sexually pleasurable effects they can bring. Alkyl nitrites relax your muscles (such as those surrounding the anus and vagina) causing your blood vessels to dilate and your blood pressure to drop quickly. Your heart rate increases, and feelings of euphoria or “head rush” may occur (but it only lasts a few minutes). Both men and women report that the use of this drug is pleasurable, but some men have experienced a loss of erection after using nitrites. Sounds pretty good for the most part, right? Well, recreational use of the drug is illegal, so they are sold often as liquid incense or liquid aroma under sketchy, euphemistic names. Of course, I’m not going to encourage you to do anything illegal, especially just to “get off”, when there are plenty of legal ways to get yours. Also, as with anything, there are possible negative side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, the feeling of falling or spinning, rashes around the mouth and nose, and a weakening of your immune system for a few days after use. If combined with other drugs (especially ecstasy, cocaine, or Viagra), nitrites can be very dangerous or even fatal. While most of these side effects are rare, they are still to be considered. So to answer your first question, yes, women may find use of nitrates pleasurable as well as men, but it is not without risk.

As for your second inquiry, if you are not ready to try anal sex yet, then don’t worry about it. I would say it’s a pretty bad idea to keep nitrites around “just in case” you want to try anal sex in the future. Ignoring the legality, I feel that it is always better to try something like that (i.e. anal sex) in your right state of mind. In a euphoric, unusually relaxed state, you’re likely to go farther than you normally would or even should. That can mean pushing the limits of your body past what is safe and can result in injury. Plus, you don’t want to become reliant on a drug just to enjoy a sexual experience. If you really want to experiment, start out small. First try a pinky, then maybe an index finger or other finger of your choice. See how it feels. You may not even like it, and think about how much less you would enjoy a whole penis up there! if you’d like, move on to small/beginner anal toys that you can use on your terms in your own time. If you can relax yourself, and thus your own muscles, by being comfortable with yourself, your partner, and the situation, there should be no need for the use of extreme chemical intervention. If you are REALLY looking for something that will do some of the relaxing for you, Pjur makes 2 products, Analyse Me and Back Door intended to desensitize and relax the anal sphincter for anal sex. But again, if you’re not ready, don’t worry about it: you have many, many years of sex left to experiment with these things.

If you have a question to ask me about sex and/or relationships, send me an email at or leave a comment (anonymous, if you wish!). All questions will be kept strictly confidential so don't be shy!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

McCain and Obama battle it out in McCosh

Sam Norton '12, in character as John McCain, delivering his opening statement

Several dozen students gathered in McCosh 50 last night to ask questions in a mock debate between presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) (played by Sean Durkin '11) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (played by Sam Norton '12) and moderated by Princeton Debate Panel president Dan Rauch '10.

Both candidates began with opening statements, then laid down their key positions and attempted to portray their candidate faithfully.

Norton opened and closed the debate by mentioning his military past. He wore a tight jacket, appearing stiff and somewhat awkward throughout the debate, and placed his right hand strategically on the left side of his jacket, as McCain often does. Durkin, on the other hand, who, appropriately, was taller than Norton, imitated Obama's hand movements, pausing several times to evoke past presidential icons like Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson.

The issue at hand

More than half of the debate was a discussion of the economy, much like the real presidential debate that followed the mock debate, with Durkin (Obama) explaining that the $700 billion bailout plan allowed for two provisions he approved of: more congressional oversight and government claim of some of the profits of the businesses it will be assisting. Durkin proposed a system in which the government would refinance mortgages to prevent foreclosures.

"Sen. Obama claims that he was the one responsible in passing this bill when I was the one who was willing to suspend my campaign and put country before partisan interests. When I got there, we immediately started a new negotiation. Sen. Obama ... he took more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than any other politician than the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee," Norton responded.

Norton also explained that cutting corporate taxes would make America more business-friendly.

"Phil Gramm and I want you to remember that name, is the chief economic adviser to Mr.McCain," Durkin rebutted.

Matt Westmoreland '10, an audience member and a senior writer for the 'Prince', asked the candidates how the current financial crisis was affecting them personally.

"I am a very privileged and very well-off American, and I am proud of that, and I'm proud of my wife and her philanthropy. Even though I am not personally being affected, as I travel across this great country, I see everyday people that are struggling to get by ... I promise you, as president, I will be a friend to these working-class Americans," Norton replied.

Durkin, in character as Obama, reminded the audience that he was not from a "good neighborhood" and that he was an "ordinary American" who struggled to pay off his student loans.

Reproductive rights

When the debate shifted to the candidates' stances on abortion, Durkin said he would work to ensure that Roe v. Wade remains the law.

"I have always supported a woman's right to choose ... but I believe that every abortion is a personal tragedy. And yes, I am proud of Bristol Palin. I want to get bumper stickers that say, 'This what a pro-life family looks like.' When it comes down to it it is the social policies of the last eight years that have stigmatized teenage pregnancies and made situations like Bristol Palin's even worse," he said.

Norton, who declared himself "pro-life," said he hoped that states would be given the right to choose on issues of reproductive rights and that the solution was counseling teenagers and financing other options and adoption programs.

Durkin expressed his indignation at Norton's suggestion that he wished to provide sex education to kindergarteners.

"I find it offensive for him to suggest that I want to teach sexual education to kindergarteners," Durkin said. "The bill he is referring to would increase funding for existing programs, not implement new programs for kindergarteners. My opponent has taken money from people who throw rocks at pregnant teenagers, and people who deny contraception and people who say condoms are murder."

Whig-Clio president Molly Alarcon '10, posing as an undecided voter from Ohio, asked the candidates to convince her that they had chosen qualified vice presidents. The audience erupted with laughter.

Durkin explained that he was happy with his choice, a senator with more than 30 years of experience.

Norton, on the other hand, said, "I am very proud for the first time in American history, I was the first Republican candidate to choose a woman as a running mate. Not just any woman, but a strong independent woman whose life experience and outsider status makes her qualified for vice president. Unlike Sen. Biden [D-Del.], she hasn't been hanging around Washington for the past 30 years. She's been out there in the country, small town America - real Americans like the ones you know in Ohio [...] Yes, she has said that she can see Russia from her house and that is an aspect of her foreign policy that certainly grounds her to the importance of national security being in a state isolated from the rest of the country where she understands more than anyone else the importance of our brave men and women fighting overseas."

"Actually, I believe that it was Tina Fey who said that, but these days it's tough to tell the difference," Rauch quipped.

--Tasnim Shamma '11


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Making It Fun Again!

I love my girlfriend, but the sex is getting kind of boring. It always happens the same way: kissing, then touching, then we spend a little time giving oral to each other, and then we have sex in missionary and/or doggy. She’s pretty good at it, and she seems to enjoy what I’m doing too, but it’s just so predictable! I don’t want to hurt her feelings. What can I/we do?

Well there are some really easy ways to spice things up without even actually changing the sexual elements much, such as changing location or introducing some role play into your sex lives. Even though the progression of things sexually may be pretty much identical, the situations bring something new. This would be especially true if you choose a more public location, which can add the exhilarating possibility of being caught. Roleplay makes things a lot more fun, and very little costuming is needed to make things exciting. Some of my favorites are Professor and Overachiever-Who-Wants-an-A-and-is-Willing-to-do-Whatever-it-Takes, Boss and Employee-Who-Wants-a-Raise, Cop and Person-Who-Doesn’t-Want-A-Speeding-Ticket, and strangely enough, Repairman and Housewife. Don’t feel as though you need to follow traditional gender roles with these things either, sometimes that makes things even more fun!

As for the sex itself, that doesn’t have to be difficult either. About why you’re in this position in the first place, I think that at least in part sex “ruts” are always related to a feeling that since you’ve found what works there’s no need to experiment, and being afraid that if you try something new it won’t work, and maybe the mood will be ruined or orgasm will be delayed or prevented. The first step then, is to stop focusing on orgasm as the end result of your sexual encounters. Create an environment and an understanding between the two of you that it’s ok to not have an orgasm sometimes and it shouldn’t be taken personally if the other person doesn’t cum every once in a while. Much of the fun in sex is experimenting and trying new things and in order to find the things you like, you have to try out some things that you may not like.

It sounds to me as if she doesn’t have very many hang ups about sex, so you’re in a pretty good position to make changes. One easy way to jumpstart things is to simply talk to each other about your fantasies or ideal sexual encounters…in detail. If there’s something you want to try, tell her! Chances are, unless it’s totally outrageous, she’ll be willing to try. Browsing an adult toy shop together is a non-threatening way to find new things to introduce into your sex lives as well. There are also tons of books on the market for the couple searching for new things to do in the bedroom. Basically, you two need to talk, and make sex more about exploration than about making sure you come so a certain end. Make the search for new things fun, and don’t be afraid to try some things even if you aren’t sure that you’ll like it. I never thought that I’d be very interested in spanking, but I gave it a chance and done right…it can be amazing. You never know what you’ll learn about each other, so just make that effort and you won’t be sorry!

What are some of your favorite bedroom accessories? What’s in your “goody drawer”?

Ohh the things I have ordered online and opened in private, leaving my mother (rightfully) clueless…so very many things….

Well, as for bedroom accessories, my current favorite is my Liberator Wedge. I told my mom that it was a “pillow”. Basically, it’s a sturdy foam wedge that you can use in order to change the angle of your body during sex play and make previously impossible or tiring positions comfortable and fun. For example, the Wedge is supposed to elevate a woman’s pelvis in such a way that when she’s bent over it, the man’s penis is more likely to hit her g-spot. A favorite use of mine is to put it under a guy’s knees while we’re in the Cowgirl position, because I can be closer to him and it gives him better leverage for thrusting, whereas without that leg support, thrusting is pretty difficult. I’ve tried the Ramp, and it’s pretty awesome as well. Another one of my favorites is a Cuff and Tether Set, which isn’t really mine but it’s currently in my room so I think of it as mine sometimes. (Don’t worry, the owner is the only one who gets to use it with me!) But anyway, while silk scarves and headbands will do the trick, there’s something to be said for a readily available Velcro cuff that’s conveniently attached to your bedpost.

But if there’s only one thing (that’s not battery operated) that I think everyone should have in his/her goody drawer, it’s a blindfold. Obviously this something that can be made easily from stuff found in your room, or can be passed off as a sleep mask, but seriously, it’s great. Even if you’re used to closing your eyes during certain parts of foreplay or oral sex, nothing can compare to knowing that even if you wanted to open your eyes, you wouldn’t be able to see what’s being done to you. It really adds an extra bit of excitement to just about everything.

As for battery-operated devices, I have 3 in my possession, but I only use one and while it gets the job done, I’m not in love with it. Alas, the search continues….

If you have a question to ask me about sex and/or relationships, send me an email at or leave a comment (anonymous, if you wish!). All questions will be kept strictly confidential so don't be shy!