Sunday, November 30, 2008

Beyond the Gate: Law school

This is the second in a new guest post series, Beyond the Gate, featuring first-person perspectives from recent alums in a variety of fields. This week, it's Will Scharf '08, who's currently working his way through 1L at Harvard Law School.

Watch Legally Blonde
by Will Scharf '08

Last year, on hearing that I had been admitted to Harvard Law School, a friend presented me with a copy of the movie Legally Blonde. Although I took to calling the movie my law school pre-orientation, there was no doubt in my mind that the events portrayed in Elle Woods’ little cinematic adventure in Cambridge had no bearing on the “real” law school experience. Then I started law school.

Guys, if you are interested in what law school is like, watch Legally Blonde. Don’t go out and rent The Paper Chase, don’t even think about Turow’s 1L — watch Legally Blonde.

Now, I am not suggesting that by the end of your first semester you will be in court defending a client from a murder rap, nor am I suggesting that the actual law discussed in the movie is at all relevant or important (however, mens rea is a really big deal). But, in terms of the broad arc of the law school experience, Legally Blonde is right on.

The movie begins with Elle Woods getting dumped by her boyfriend and deciding to pursue a legal education at Harvard as a part of a vaguely-defined scheme to win him back. I would guess that a majority of people at law school had an even less well-articulated reason for applying than Elle did. That’s not to say that the people I’ve met here are in any way wishy-washy or poorly motivated, but I think it is fair to say that most people who end up at law school really did not understand ahead of time what they were getting themselves into.

Elle next has to score high enough on her LSAT to make her a credible candidate for Harvard. She studies through nights when her friends are out partying and grapples with seemingly absurd logic games. Studying for the LSAT is every bit at horrible as the movie makes it out to be. The logic game sections will steadily drive you insane until they finally, and rather scarily, begin to make sense. Bringing your test scores up is a grueling process of internalizing over the course of as many practice tests as you can possible stomach the timing and tendencies of the test as a whole and its various sections. You will miss nights out, and you will envy your non-legally inclined friends.

After banking her 179, Elle then applies to Harvard with a “video essay” that details her extracurriculars and “relevant” experience. It is supposed to be a comic element of the movie that she is admitted. In reality, a 179/4.0 candidate with leadership experience and assumedly solid recommendations like Elle would be a shoo-in at just about any law school. The ironic thing to me about her admission to Harvard is precisely that it is meant to seem unrealistic, when in reality it is extremely realistic. Law school admissions are determined primarily by numbers. Your numbers get your foot in the door, and then things like your recommendations and resume keep it in. If you have the numbers and you have the recs, it would take a very serious black mark somewhere else in your application to keep you out. As a caveat, some schools including Harvard do conduct interviews, and I’ve definitely heard “landmine” stories about kids destroying their chances with a particularly terrible interview. Generally, though, I think these cases are remarkable precisely because they are rare. There is far less of a secret to law school admissions than there is to undergraduate admissions — get your grades in shape, get your LSAT score banked, and get professors to write good letters of recommendation for you.

On arriving mistakenly in costume at her first Harvard party, Elle finds that law students don’t really know how to have fun. This isn’t an entirely true characterization, and I like to think that I’ve made some pretty good friends up here and had a pretty good time overall, but it is fair to say that law school is a good bit more business-like than college, and that parties tend to look more like something you’d see at Colonial than at TI.

On her first day of class, Elle is unceremoniously booted from a classroom after being unprepared to answer a “cold call”. Personally, I haven’t seen this sort of thing done, but I have heard that some professors – even in this gentler, kinder era of law school – are equally harsh with unprepared students. The expectation of preparedness is much greater in law school classes than in undergrad classes, and a great majority of professors do use the Socratic method – some more brutally than others. While as an undergrad it never bothered me to fall a day or two behind on readings so long as I caught up eventually, so far this year terror of not being able to recite the facts of a case on being cold called has kept me on my toes to say the least.

As the semester goes on, Elle eventually competes with other students to get an internship at a prestigious Boston law firm. Although the fact that she starts work seemingly in the middle of 1L year doesn’t seem plausible, I have found that searching for summer employment has been a topic of conversation amongst 1Ls almost since day 1 – the only restraining factor being NALP rules prohibiting 1L summer job applications before Dec. 1.

Speaking of which, Dec. 1 is tomorrow, and I kind of need to get down to writing some cover letters. I hope this has been at least marginally helpful.

-Will Scharf '08

Previously in this series: PiAf (Nahal
Zebarjadi '07)
Check back next week for another Beyond the Gate.


Twilight... We are definitely in an age of decline.

I never read the “Twilight” books by Stephanie Meyers. For all I know, they might be good enough to appease the burgeoning sexual desires of a pubescent girl, but the film version by Catherine Hardwicke (of “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown” fame) is anything but. Instead of an “erotic delight” as promised by a “Twilight” movie poster outside the cinema, I spent most of my time stifling my “delight” (laughter) with my coat, sniggering as painfully awkward lines were thrown around and the film effects attempting to showcase a vampire’s speed looked like the cursor trail I had on my Windows 95 computer. Teen cult sensation film? Yeah, right.

The synopsis of the movie is so dreadfully simple it should deter any individual with a real-brain on their shoulders from watching it (my excuse was that I wanted to see how horrendous this production can be). A seventeen year old Bella Swan (Kristin Stewart) moves to Forks, a town in the middle of nowhere, where the sun don’t shine and the rain don’t stop, to live with her father (Billy Burke). She encounters Edward (prep yourselves for the clichéd character construction), who is problematic and something of a mysterious James Dean, and also (wait for it… wait for it…) a vampire! Against all odds, they fall in love (or lust?), him because of the irresistibility of her blood and her because she is just plain-old daft. They come together only to be faced with a milieu of problems brought upon by their differences. Oh, the drama!

Obviously, “Twilight” is no episode of “Gossip Girl” when it comes to the theme of teenage sexual attraction. Yet, in comparison to the suave Chuck Bass, who is a mere 17 year old mortal with the innate power to make women bend in his favor, the indestructible Edward the Vampire (Robert Pattinson) is as bland and repulsive as the weird kid who sat behind you in 10th grade Biology and mouth-breathed salaciously whenever the word “reproduction” was mentioned. You would think that a 100 year-old, “teenage” vampire endowed with the powers of strength and hypnosis and glistened like diamonds in the sunlight would be interesting enough as a character. In this movie, not really.

Was it the script? All the lines in the film were corny regurgitations attempting to capture real passion as found in “Romeo and Juliet” or “Gone with the Wind”. But when lines like “and so the lion falls in love with a lamb” and “you are like my own personal brand of heroin” are being served, the saccharine nature of this, oh-so-romantic! film has the ability of turning even Takeru Kobayashi bulimic. Its cloyingly romantic ingredients surprisingly enough does nothing to inspire anything physical, and by the end of the movie, its extremely PG-nature (Bella and the Vampire kissed a grand total of three times), had a few members of the audience in the cinema I was in shouting “JUST GET IT ON ALREADY”.

The acting too, is a disappointing, below par performance for such a big production, and I think the casting should have raised more eyebrows than it did. I remember seeing Kristin Stewart alongside Jodie Foster in “Panic Room” and was under the impression that she was a boy until Foster started screaming that she needed to medicate her daughter. Though Stewart did grow into a decent-looking individual, I am surprised that the production company allowed the weight of this movie to be carried on this girl’s shoulders. She has no physically enamoring quality or charisma about her to warrant such devotion from such a powerful figure.

In spite of that, Stewart did an adequate (but not great) job of portraying a girl yearning for sexual gratification. However, the same thing cannot be said of Robert Pattinson as Edward the Vampire, who was a miscast in every reason possible. Firstly, this guy is not hot. Him as Cedric Diggory before never did convince me. He has a concaved face that looked like he was involved in a childhood freak accident where a horse trampled on his face. Twice. And instead of leaping with excitement every time he came onscreen (an onscreen presence Orlando Bloom has in Lord of the Rings), my heart felt like it was on heavy horse tranquilizers. Secondly, his acting was utterly despicable and unconvincing, as he delivered his lines with no enthusiasm and a wide-eyed look that made him seem like he was constantly on crack. If you were Cory Kennedy you would totally dig him, but I think he is a complete weirdo.

The effects too were appalling. Dream sequences where Bella imagines the Vampire sucking her blood and the passage of time depicting the very, VERY innocent escapades of Bella and the Vampire, where all they did was sit around and talk (how erotic), were very amateur. Throughout the entire production, I felt like I was watching a B-grade film I could easily have seen while surfing TV stations.

I am overwhelmingly disappointed that the director, who chilled me to the bone with her award-winning “Thirteen”, could produce such an awful movie that lacked soul and creativity. This film, in one single stroke, has managed to make the perennially seductive vampire unsexy.

Wait, and what is this I heard that they are making a sequel? A WHOLE SERIES???



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Zimmerman Telegram

A round-up of the week's news with Zach Zimmerman '10.

Malkiel and USG talk grading policies
Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel asserted this week that grade deflation has not hurt students’ employment or graduate school opportunities. She mentioned that, this year, the University boasts three Rhodes scholarship winners and that Michael Solis ’07 just won the Mitchell scholarship. She further added that every year since grade deflation began, Princeton has had both a valedictorian and a salutatorian, proving that grade deflation has not hurt students.

What’s in a name?
The Prince’s Editorial Board recommended this week that the Center for African-American Studies change its name to the Center for Race and Ethnicity Studies to better reflect what it actually does. The Board also recommended that The Daily Princetonian change its names to the The Every Weekday Except for Holidays and When We Have Lots of Papers Due Princetonian.

Wu Hall celebrates 25th year with gala
The building’s namesake Gordon Wu ’58 attended a gala held in Wu Hall earlier this week to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Luckily, leftover desserts from the very first Wu Hall dinner 25 years ago were available to be served. Also in attendance was the building's architect Robert Venturi. Ironically, the main course was duck.

Students volunteer at Down syndrome conference
Princeton students performed for and were partnered with children with Down syndrome this weekend at the annual disability awareness event. After the day’s activities, 8-year old Billy said, “The Down Syndrome conference is really just a great opportunity to give back. These poor Princeton students don’t live very full lives, so it’s really nice to come and help them feel like they’re making a difference.”

Orszag ’91 selected to direct Obama’s budget office
President-elect Barack Obama selected the next director of the Office of Management and Budget today, Princeton alumnus Orszag ’91. Disappointed alumni who were considered, but ultimately looked over, included Zdrsikk ’88, Ixsfgra ‘8Q, and Sgwnernfuaepfi ^K3asdas.

Words of Wisdom
Professor Cornel West GS ’80 ended his book tour at Prospect House on Monday by signing copies of his latest book “Hope on a Tightrope.” Due out later this year, his beard is set to publish its memoir entitled “Brother Beard: Growing Down from Greatness.”

Administrators outline projects delayed by downturn
The construction of a satellite art museum near the new arts complex will be delayed as other projects are pushed back and renegotiated because of declining funds. This comes as a major blow to many students who were looking forward to seeing sculptures and drawings of Sputnik.

Global economic crisis puts Aspire, Annual Giving at risk
Aspire and Annual Giving may be facing setbacks due to the global economic climate, although effects may not be visible immediately. In response, the University released a statement this week to alumni saying that the school will persevere and that they just want to wish everyone a h
appy Thanks (annual) giving!

To Do:
Try going out the Tuesday night before you need to get on a 7:51 a.m. Dinky to catch a flight and then missing it completely leaving you stranded on campus during Thanksgiving for who knows how long. Now Playing in 135 Gauss.

Worst Week Ever:
It was a bad week for kids in AAS 393, ENG 396, and FRS 109.

…Maybe next week!


Photo of the Day | Nov. 26

Yanran Chen, Princetonian Staff Photographer


Diggin' in Mudd : Beer Jackets of Years Past

Starting today, the Prox will be running a weekly segment featuring some of the awesome things to be found in the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, where the University Archives are housed. You'd be surprised what you can find there — but all things in good time.

Right now seniors are done voting on beer jacket designs, and I thought it might be nice to look at designs from years past. The Mudd actually has the metal stencils used to create these beer jackets and they're all comfortably housed in a single archival box; I should add that it's a heavy box.

1973 metal stencil

Images and commentary after the jump.

The beer jacket tradition dates to the early 20th century, although originally they were apparently full beer suits. You can find a more complete history of the Princeton beer jacket here.

The first logo design that really caught my attention was from 1945. In 1945, the Second World War finally ended. It was probably clear to most Princeton students by the spring of 1945 that the War would soon be over, but that also means that the War had had ample time to destroy that generation’s innocence. You’ll notice that the “45” is shattered. In the foreground is a decorated Tiger, riffle in hand, whose expression is either determined or terrified. His shadow is clearly a student, not a soldier, and like the year, it’s broken.

On the other hand, it seems 1948 was finally a good year. The numbers are as they should be, and the Tiger is dressed elegantly for a celebratory night out—there’s an unmistakable look of hope on his face and the weapons of war lie discarded in the background, a receding memory.

And then of course, there’s the 1960s. Look at the logo from 1960—the Tiger looks contented and well fed, you could almost call his expression one of beatitude. And of course, there’s the case, reminiscent not only of the music which defined that decade, but also of the female form. Of course, not as reminiscent of the female form as some of the other logos from that decade, like the one from ’62, which is definitely erotic.

1963 brings us a happy echo of the Cold War and the Space Race. Even in space, apparently, Tigers need their booze. Well, I guess there aren’t any girls made out of numbers in space… Incidentally, there have been Princetonian astronauts—the Princeton flag has been to the Moon and back, but that’s a story for another time.

That’s it for this issue. I leave you with a photograph of the 1956 jacket, so that you can get an idea of what these looked like in COLOR. The Princetoniana site has a few more designs. Of course, if you’re really interested, you can always head up to the Mudd—and don’t forget: the Blue Line and Green Line stop right around there.

All images are courtesy of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Any other use of these images requires written permission from the archive.


Monday, November 24, 2008


This post is the first in a new series on the Prox called CrisisWatch. In it, economics professor and 'Prince' columnist Uwe Reinhardt will summarize the latest news on the ongoing financial malaise. What just happened and how worried should you be? Read on to find out.

Click here to open to the balance sheet of Citigroup, which has been rescued over the weekend by – you guessed it -- the U.S. taxpayers, through the good offices of the taxpayers’ agents: the U.S. Treasury (UST), the Federal Reserve (FR) and the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

You will learn from Citigroup’s balance sheet that the highly paid geniuses who ran Citigroup until about a year ago had loaded up that balance sheet with so much debt as to reach a debt-to-asset ratio of 95 percent by December 31 of 2007. The numbers as of Sept. 30, 2008 look barely different. I doubt that, even after imbibing cases of Rolling Rock the infamous Tiger-Inmates™ of Prospect Street would come up with anything as foolish as that, certainly not after taking my ECO 100 course, in which we cover finance.

And who were the highly paid geniuses who earned (correction: were paid) hundreds of millions of dollars during their tenure for their great ideas? They include former Citigroup’s legendary CEO Sanford Weill, who cobbled the company together and his successor Charles O. (“We Must Dance [With The Market] As Long As The Music Plays”) Prince, ably advised by Clinton-era Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, who received north of $10 million a year for his advice. This is what is meant by “reward for risk” on Wall Street: You get rewarded for imposing risk on others.

Among the assets Citigroup purchased with all that debt were dodgy mortgage backed bonds otherwise known by the elegant name “structured securities.” Structured securities are debt obligations whose promised cash flows are “secured” (using the term loosely) by the cash flows from other financial securities or activities which would then be said to have been “securitized.” (Recently I read a spoof, for example, according to which the pirates off the Somali coast are trying to securitize in this way the ransom money they expect to earn from their piracy. Is there any doubt that, for handsome fees, Wall Street bankers vintage 2006-07 would eagerly have helped the pirates in this effort and invested in the resulting “structured securities” themselves?. One can image the British comedy team Bird and Fortune having fun with it – see this for example).

The synthetic securities held by Citigroup had been concocted by so-called financial engineers, many of them disgruntled physicists and engineers who did not like the major they had chosen, and perhaps also Princeton grads endowed with our hallowed “certificate in finance”. They were cool securities, based on complex mathematical models, but now the financial engineers have no clue what these synthetic securities might be worth, most of them apparently having no clue either what actually goes on in the real economy – for example, that mortgages must be repaid.
Not even included in the $2.187 trillion assets shown on Citigroup’s balance sheet as of Dec. 07 reportedly are some $1.23 trillion assets stashed away in off-balance sheet entities known as “structured investment vehicles” (SIVs). The latter had been structured by clever lawyers and accountants to allow them to be off balance sheet. They probably are domiciled somewhere in the Caribbean, where U.S. regulators do not roam. The assets owned by these SIVs, many of which are feared to be toxic as well, most likely have been financed with a similarly reckless debt-to-asset ratio. Were they to be put on Citigroup’s balance sheet, the firm’s financial position probably would look worse, which is one factor reportedly causing last week’s panic that trashed Citigroup’s stock price.

You can learn the particulars that our agents at the UST, FR and FDIC negotiated with Citigroup at the link here. From the Term Sheet presented there you will learn that U.S. taxpayers will guarantee some artificially high value of $306 billion of dodgy, synthetic securities on Citigroup’s balance sheet, for which guarantee the taxpayers will get non-voting preferred stock with a stated value of $7 billion, on which 8 percent dividend will be paid, plus the right to buy about 254 million of Citigroup Common stock at a specified price of $10.61. The stock traded last Friday at around $4 per share. The $10.61 is a 20-day trailing average for the period ending Nov. 21, 2008.

In addition to absorbing the bulk of the potential, eventual losses on the $306 billion of Citigroup’s dodgy assets, the U.S. taxpayer injected another $20 billion of cash into Citigroup, on top of a $25 billion cash infusion earlier. In return, the UST will receive non-voting preferred stock paying an 8 percent dividend as well. Heaven forbid that U.S. taxpayers should ever get voting stock in Citigroup and have representatives sit on Citigroup’s Board. That right is reserved only for folks such as the potentates of the Middle East or Chinese and Japanese investors. After all, can you trust the agents of U.S. taxpayers at Citigroup’s Board table?
Oh, yes, lest I forget. We are told on the UST’s Term Sheet that “An executive compensation plan, including bonuses, that rewards longterm performance and profitability, with appropriate limitations, must be submitted to, and approved by, the USG.” Go figure what this might mean.

Uwe E. Reinhardt is the James Madison Professor of Political Economy and a professor in the Wilson School.


Figures of Speech: Give Thanks with Some Lectures Edition

This week’s don’t miss (unless you already did):
At 4:30 on Monday, Prof. Cornel West will be holding a reading and book signing for his latest work, “Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom.” It’s in Prospect House, but tickets are required – don’t grouse. If right now you cry and wonder why, it may help to remember that Prof. West is an activist, critic, and rapper in addition to his work in academia.
Plus his rhymes are suitable for book titles.

Don’t despair, o readers fair. Also at 4:30 on Monday is a lecture by US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Clint Williamson. Ambassador Williamson will be delivering a lecture in 016 Robertson on “An Overview of U.S. War Crimes Policy at the Change of Administration.” Ambassador Williamson has previously served in Baghdad and at the Hague.

On Tuesday, once more at 4:30, Francois Burgat will lecture on “Islamism in the Shadow of al-Qaeda.” His book of the same title was recently released. The lecture is in 100 Jones.
Nothing rhymes with “Islamism” or “al-Qaeda.”


Friday, November 21, 2008

The Zimmerman Telegram

A round-up of the week's news with Zach Zimmerman '10.

USG elections process under question

The USG is looking to change its online election system so that officials won’t be able to change votes without leaving a trace. This comes as a major blow to the Elections Officers who have enjoyed rigging votes for the past 10 years.

U. debuts TigerPay billing system

The University unveiled a new online bill-pay system designed to increase convenience and sustainability. Students are, however, still required to bring two signed copies of their SCORE Course Worksheet to West College to rescind a Pass/D/Fail.

PriCom to alter budget to offset aid

The Priorities Committee (PriCom) held its annual town hall meeting where financial aid was a major topic of discussion. Not on the agenda was a proposal to consider an alternative abbreviation that does not sound like the fluid that comes out a penis before ejaculation.

USG attempts to move forward with library plans

The USG continued its efforts to extend Firestone Library hours despite the Executive VP’s assertion that it would be unlikely. However, Dillon Gym hours will be further extended to 24/7 and feature live music every Friday night.

Chaplains address religious views of marriage and sex

In summary: Get married, then have sex.

PAWS in action

Students in Princeton Animal Welfare Society held a human barbecue on the south lawn of Frist holding up “Meat is Murder” signs. Meanwhile, an unrelated student group held up “Stabbing your wife in the back and burying her body in the backyard saying ‘Take that, bitch!’ while licking her blood off your fingers is Murder” signs. Both were accurate.

Two alums tapped for Obama staff

Lisa Brown ’82 was named Obama’s new staff secretary and Christopher Lu ’88 will serve as his cabinet secretary. Of course, Cottage Club will continue to be on tap this Saturday with the tears of McCain supporters.

Russel calls for more funding

Dean of the Graduate School William Russel filed a report asking for more funding since grad students are struggling financially. Beers at the D-bar now cost $2.

Klaus: Survey to help decide potential dorm reallocation

The University does not plan to make any decisions regarding allocating more dorms for use by the four-year residential colleges until after a campus-wide survey. Of course, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Klaus has a particular interest in relocating the dorms since he must travel down each of their chimneys annually.

Alums propose Asian-American Studies program

Alumni are pressuring the University to create an Asian-American Students program; however, professors in the African-American Studies program firmly oppose it since what would their acronym be.

To Do:

The Theatre and Dance Department is staging two Greek tragedies in an event entitled Troy: After and Before. I arrived late so I saw Before before I saw After since I came in after After had finished. So after Before, I went back before Before and saw After. Sorry, that wasn’t a very good Troy story.

Worst Week Ever:

It was a bad week for homeless, freshmen meat-eaters.

....Maybe next week!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear OIT--Vista hates me and the feeling's mutual

Why did we "upgrade" to Vista without upgrading the hardware too?

This is really not what I want to see as I add a cover page to my Lab report just before printing it out. It doesn't help that this is the 20th time tonight I had to wait for New Word to unfreeze on the cluster PC (sadly this is not an exaggeration). I wish we still had the option of using old Office on PCs, just like we have the option of using Windows on the New Macs.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Photo of the Day | Nov. 19, 2008

Daniel Hayes-Patterson, Princetonian Photography Editor
Please feel free to download the image and use it as your background.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Figures of Speech: Big Names, Big Brains, Big Books Edition

On Tuesday at 8:00 in McCosh 50, Walter Isaacson will speak about “Einstein, Franklin, and the Role of Creativity in Today’s World.” He has relatively recently compiled massive biographies of both Einstein and Franklin. A number to look out for in his scholarship on the two men is 1536. No, it’s not a date. It’s the combined page total of the two biographies.

Isaacson is a noted writer, and has helped lead both CNN and Time magazine in the past. He currently serves as president and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

Thursday brings this week’s split decision. Daniel Markey '00, now of the Council on Foreign Relations, will be addressing policy options for the next four years concerning terror in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The lecture will be in Robertson 016 at 4:30. Markey is formerly of the State Department, as well as a former professor here at Princeton.

Also at 4:30 in Sherrerd Hall, Room 101 is Phil Weiser of the University of Colorado. Prof. Weiser will deliver a lecture entitled “What Should the FCC Do About Net Neutrality?” He is a former Justice Department lawyer.

If you’re using a lot of bandwidth right now, that’s just ironic.


Penny Wars--better than real wars

If you've stopped by the common room or dining hall of a Residential College, you've probably noticed a large container which will soon start filling up with spare change. The Whitmaniac offers very little information, calling on student to donate their spare change to the Penny Wars as part of Hunger Awareness Week. HOWEVER the sign by the plastic jug in the Rocky Common Room makes a couple of important addendum which clearly qualifies "spare change" as pennies... In fact, adding other sorts of currency detracts points, because apparently Princetonians can't give to charity anonymously without making it out to be some sort of competition.

The Rules
  • Pennies are worth 1 point each.
  • Coins other than pennies (nickels, dimes, quarters) are worth -25 points each.
  • Bills are worth -100 points each.
This seems to me to be a pretty strange setup, which directly compromises the incentive to donate lots of money to the cause. Clearly this is a moral incentive to sabotage the other Residential Colleges. So let the cheating begin! Grab all of your pennies and take them to your own Residential College (or Whitman if you're unaffiliated) and then, unsaddle all of your other loose change elsewhere. Mwahahahaha.

Remember, it's for charity, and the Honor Code does not apply!

Or, you could just give it all to Unicef. They'll take anything.

But how will you get your competition fix then?

Or, if you can be bothered, you could always trade bills for pennies at the bank. Be warned, you'll get strange looks from the tellers. Also, pennies are kind of heavy.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beyond the Gate: PiAf

This is the first in a new guest post series, Beyond the Gate, featuring first-person perspectives from recent alums in a variety of fields. Everything — from grad school to entry-level corporate jobs to fellowships — is fair game. This week, we hear from Nahal Zebarjadi '07, a Princeton in Africa fellow who spent the last year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo working for the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian relief agency.

The gates of old Nassau can open onto unpredictable places
by Nahal Zebarjadi '07

Imagine … A sparkling, methane-containing lake surrounded by verdant hills whose slopes clutch onto a bustling, colorful city – welcome to the Kivus, also known as the epicenter of protracted conflicts which in late 2007 alone displaced over 400,000 people; or the harsh Equatorial sun beating down on wide, red dusty roads, lined with men laboring to push bicycles piled high with coal to sell in the city; the obstacle-course of muddy potholes on the streets of Kinshasa after torrential wet-season downpours, as the continent’s third-largest metropolis swings noisily back into action; farmers and fishermen of small river villages carrying their crops and even their houses on dug-out canoes downriver to trade.

And then imagine seeing an IRC doctor save the life of a pregnant, 20 year-old mother of 3, bleeding uncontrollably as she lies in a pool of dirty water in a canoe -- if she had survived the several hours it would take her family to paddle her to the nearest nurse, she would probably not have survived the ensuing infection: her meager basket of fish would not be enough to pay for her antibiotics, if they were available. Or hearing the president of a newly-elected Village Development Committee, explain that now her village can wake up and control their own development as a community, and demand accountability of their leaders. Or being shown the craft made by a group of survivors of rape in eastern Congo – women and even young girls who came together, supported each other and taught each other simple skills like knitting that would allow them to make an income to send their children to school.

Follow the jump for the rest of the entry and more photos.

As a Communications Officer for IRC, my job was mostly to see our projects and write about them. Though what I absorbed was inspiring, my own experience also included frustration and loneliness. It felt like I was gaining so much more than I could possibly contribute by writing a news piece. Simply doing what my education had taught me – to write – was challenging in this radically different environment, as I figured out where I belonged in the organization and how I should be doing it. The small expatriate community was so transient that each wave of new-best-friends seemed to enter and leave my world again before I knew it. Security protocols in Kinshasa prohibited me from walking almost anywhere in the city, so I had to (embarrassedly) ask an IRC driver to take me wherever I went, with a closed glass pane separating me from the street kids and peddlers knocking on the car windows, ‘Mundele! Mundele!’

But beneath the surface of these immediately visible barriers, was the real gold to be discovered. My colleagues became an astonishing source of lessons on humanitarianism, life in general, and friendships that will stay with me. I got an insight into how development works in the field, through one of the leading organizations in the world. Despite being a ‘mundele’ or foreigner, the friendship of my Congolese colleagues broke the separation I initially felt from the culture around me. And I found ways of connecting with the streets, by stopping at local shops and stalls to speak, or getting lost in unending reams of colorful fabrics at the market.

In short, I can’t believe my luck. PiAf was not just my first job; it was a professional, intellectual and personal adventure. When I left Congo I carried affection and respect for a fascinating country; personal connections with extraordinary colleagues working on the issues important to me; and a great basis for continuing my studies and my work. I can’t imagine any other job afterPrinceton that would have given me this combination of learning, challenge, inspiration and sheer pleasure. I believe that this experience will continue to influence my life in profound ways.

(If you feel a pinch of excitement, contact the PiAf office or visit the website. Or if you have questions email me at

-Nahal Zebarjadi '07

Check back next week for another Beyond the Gate.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

You have got to be kidding me!

Ah yes, who doesn't love the late-night fire alarms? The blaring sirens, the scurrying to find your keys, the possibility that everything you own may go up in flames...

Now, normally a fire alarm is nothing newsworthy.

But two?

In one night?


More pictures of stranded Whitmanites after the jump.

It was dark...

Interestingly, it seems that fire drills are not scheduled at night, which means that the night alarms aren't planned. Interestingly, also, during scheduled drills apparently Public Safety shepherds people away from the dorm, not so when the alarm is real. Um, is it me, or is something wrong with that set-up?


Friday, November 14, 2008

Goin' Back... in Drag

A cartoon by Henry Martin '48, brought to you by Princetoniana.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shirley, you're so fine!

Guys in drag is a time-honored Princeton tradition, and I mean, who doesn't love those hairy manly legs kicking out from skimpy cheerleader skirts?

Professors who want to lecture, apparently.

Somehow, in four years of being at Princeton, I'd only witnessed the infamous kickline interrupt class once: Freshman year during Bogan's ECO 101. Professor Bogan took it all in stride, with a smile on her face, either because she genuinely enjoyed the performance, or because she's probably had her lecture interrupted so many times that it now fails to phase her. It probably helped that the industrious cheerleaders (or pom-pom girls, as they are called in French) changed their cheer to "Bogan you're so fine."

It was a fond memory, until today when Triangle finally managed to catch me again, this time in HIS 370, which has a very nice alliterative title I can never remember. Professor Colley took the intrusion with a lot less amusement and a lot more exasperation than Professor Bogan had, but not as badly as a student who protested that the interruption was "stupid and boring."

All in all, it could have been worse, and the class did erupt in laughter when after the would-be Rockettes had left, Professor Colley remarked that these were "the sorts of people who made 1914 possible."

Of course, WWI would probably have been a lot more fun and a lot less devastating if there had been more singing and kicking and less shooting and dying. It also probably wouldn't have lasted nearly as long if instead of gas masks and grenades soldiers had been issued skirts and pompoms.



Talking to G-d in the Bathroom

Spotted: Dialogue with G-d in the Bathroom

I've often heard the complaint that Princeton students aren't intellectual enough outside of the classroom, that we should strive to be like our peers at UChicago where intellectual conversations are carried over into bathrooms. Well, now we may be carrying the conversation to another level, like one clouds and clouds above.

Three sheets and a red mechanical pencil are tacked to the disability stall of a girl's Whitman College 1981 Hall bathroom. In large letters, it asks, "If you could ask G-d (assuming the existence) Any 1 yes or no question (and G-d would answer) What Would You ASK?"

It requests that students provide codenames, which have ranged from "Cat in the Hat" and "Power Ranger" to "1977 Alumnae". Questions raised include questioning the existence of Hell, point of life (which is not a yes or no question), whether G-d will forgive them, whether or not they will always be lonely, and if they will be successful in the future. Many of the questions suggest guilt and seeking forgiveness.

When I first saw this last month, I was skeptical. But the questions have reached well onto the last page and people seem to be responding and engaging, by answering each other's questions, pretending to be G-d?

In the neighboring stall, in fact, a similarly colorful poster was put up last week asking, probably based on the success of the first poster, "If you could give the gift of 1 day in the most Beautiful place on Earth with the person of your choosing to ANYONE: (and then on four seperate pieces of paper surrounding the stall, one question per page: Who would you give it to? Where do you think they would choose to go? Who would you choose to go with them? Why?)"

Whoever this mystery person is, thanks for bringing the dialogue to our bathrooms. It's kind of weird ... but whatever works. It's too bad the conversation excludes guys.

So, dear readers, "If you could ask G-d (assuming the existence of G-d) Any 1 yes or no question (and G-d would answer) What Would You ASK?"

--Tasnim Shamma '11


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Discussion of Acute Street Politics

The other day walking down Prospect Avenue, my foot slipped off the sidewalk and I stumbled. My cohorts laughed, then sympathized: "I always do that. This sidewalk is so narrow."

Which I think brings up an important point. (Other than the fact that I am ridiculously clumsy). When walking down the street, you inevitably run into another group, or individual, walking in the opposite direction. When two individuals meet, the situation is fairly easy. Street-bound moves to their right, campus-bound to their right. This simple passing maneuver is done without difficulty, without awkwardness, and hopefully, without slipping off the edge of the sidewalk into the red gravel.

But what of the other situations? What if, say, one individual, campus-bound, meets a street-bound group? Does the group move or does the individual? It's clearly easier for the individual to circumvent the group, but that would require stepping onto the gravel... does that mean the individual has conceded the right to the pathway? What about group-group interactions? Does the younger group move, as they did on McCosh walk back in the day? (Freshman used to have to wear beanies - ew - and would have to move off of the walk if they met an upperclassmen. I think Cane Spree also originated somewhere along these lines. Sophomores carried canes, beanie little freshmen tried to pull them away...but I digress).

And what if, by some ungodly luck, you run into a former hook-up? Or the former hook-up and his/her new raison d'être? Do you move? Do ya? (My personal answer? No. Stay put. Stare intently at your iphone/crackberry, as if Obama had just personally emailed you. Do not, under any circumstances, concede the sidewalk).

And this is all presuming these individuals are not on bikes (read: elitist transportationists trying to run you down) or that you don't know the individuals you are passing. Knowing the individuals you pass brings an entirely different level to the game.

As Dylan Alban '09 put it, "What's the point at which you make contact? Vocal? Verbal? Eye contact? Do you? Don't you?...How is it complicated when the person you are addressing is on a bike? Or a golf cart?"

Clearly, walking up and down Prospect everyday- the potentially awkward encounters, bikes, golf carts, cars, trucks dropping off food, sidewalk slip-ups- is a dangerous, potentially life threatening, endeavor. It's survival of the fittest, and as the winter months arrive, the warmest. Or you could just call P-rides.

Update on Cane Spree:

"Cane Spree evolved from more informal class customs around the time of the American Civil War, when it became fashionable for gentlemen to carry walking canes. The University Archives in Seeley Mudd Library has many examples of these artifacts, some quite elaborate. Among the intricate details chiseled into the wood are the owner's name, class, and hometown; his classmates names and states (often carved by the classmate himself), names of the Faculty, and in some instances, the University Seal, names of the college, Greek phrases, etc.

In 1865 upperclassmen concluded that freshmen should not carry canes. One evening the sophomores attempted to enforce this "rule," by seizing the canes when the classes were strolling on Nassau Street, resulting in a major brawl. This encounted is generally considered to the the first "cane spree," the latter word a then-common term for ruckus. In the years that followed, the confrontations became a standard, scheduled --though unsanctioned-- fixture of the college, with established rules and dates. For a period, the Freshmen were advised and supervised by representatives from the Junior class, while the Sophomores were coached by the Seniors."


N.B. If The Prince can publish a story about Whitman Dining hall's bird problem on the front page, this topic can at least make the blog.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ballot Measure updates

There have been updates in many of the numbers. The Prox keeps an eye on these.

Gay Rights:
Arkansas Initiative 1: Ban on Gay Couples Adopting Children - 57% yes, 43% no
Arizona Proposition 102: Ban on Gay Marriage - no 56%, yes 44%
California Proposition 8: Ban on Gay Marriage - 57% yes, 43% no
Florida Amendment 2: Ban on Gay Marriage - yes 62%, no 38%

Abortion and Embryo Status:
California Proposition 4: Abortion Limits -  57% yes, 43% no
South Dakota Initiative 11: Abortion Limits - no 55%, yes 45%
Colorado Amendment 48: Human Life From Moment of Conception - no 75%, yes 25%
Michigan Proposition 2: Allow Stem Cell Research - yes 53%, no 47%

Affirmative Action:
Colorado Amendment 46: End Affirmative Action - no 52%, yes 48%
Nebraska Initiative 424: End Affirmative Action - yes 56%, no 44%

Arizona Proposition 202: Hiring Illegal Immigrants - no 60%, yes 40%
Maryland Question 2: Allow Video Lottery - yes 59%, no 41%
Massachusetts Question 1: Repeal State Income Tax - no 70%, yes 30%
Michigan Proposition 1: Allow Medical Marijuana - yes 64%, no 36%
Washington Initiative 1000: Allow Doctor-assisted Suicide - 52%yes, 48% no

Source CNN as of 11:19 pm


West Coast puts Obama over the edge

11 pm: Preliminary results from California, Washington and Oregon give Obama enough electoral votes to seal the victory. Barack Obama wins the presidency of the United States of America, networks project.


Nebraska, South Dakota to McCain

10:44 pm: NBC and CBS have called South Dakota for McCain. ABC, CBS and Fox News have all called Nebraska for McCain.


Bickering the West Wing

At the White House Bicker 2008 Election Returns Party at Whig-Clio, more than three-quarters of the hundreds of students present seem to be getting what they want: a victory for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

As for the others, at least they get a free T-shirt, pizza, taco bell and (non-alcoholic) apple cider in consolation.

Chloe Bordewich '12 and Amina Igeh '12 said they came to Whig-Clio immediately after getting back from canvassing for the Obama campaign in Bucks County, Pa.

Both said that they are confident that Obama will secure victory. Igeh said “she’ll be overcome by a combination of exhaustion and joy later.”

Students of both major political affiliations share their belief in the gravity of this election. Simona Li '10 said she thinks “this is an awesome event” and “hope[s] it's something [she] can tell [her] grandkids about.”

Taylor Stewart-Cannon '12 also shared his view on the event.

“I’m definitely impressed by the turnout," he said. "It is more evidence our generation has taken ownership of our future."

- Contributor Raymond Brusca '12


Don't Turn off your TV yet

Though it may appear that the presidential race is wrapping up, a number of highly contested and closely watched ballot measures are still up in the air across the country.

Gay Rights:
Arkansas Initiative 1: Ban on Gay Couples Adopting Children - 60% yes, 40% no
Arizona Proposition 102: Ban on Gay Marriage - no 65%, yes 35%
California Proposition 8: Ban on Gay Marriage - no results yet
Florida Amendment 2: Ban on Gay Marriage - yes 62%, no 38%

Abortion and Embryo Status:
California Proposition 4: Abortion Limits - no results yet
South Dakota Initiative 11: Abortion Limits - no 55%, yes 45%
Colorado Amendment 48: Human Life From Moment of Conception - no 76%, yes 24%
Michigan Proposition 2: Allow Stem Cell Research - yes 52%, no 48%

Affirmative Action:
Colorado Amendment 46: End Affirmative Action - no 52%, yes 48%
Nebraska Initiative 424: End Affirmative Action - yes 55%, no 45%

Arizona Proposition 202: Hiring Illegal Immigrants - no 62%, yes 38%
Maryland Question 2: Allow Video Lottery - yes 59%, no 41%
Massachusetts Question 1: Repeal State Income Tax - no 70%, yes 30%
Michigan Proposition 1: Allow Medical Marijuana - yes 62%, no 38%
Washington Initiative 1000: Allow Doctor-assisted Suicide - no results yet

Results from CNN as of 10:28 pm


Still too Close to Call

10:12 pm: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arizona and Colorado are all still too close to call.

Polls have not closed yet in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska.


New Mexico

9:48 pm: New Mexico has been called for Obama by ABC, CBS, Fox News and ABC


Update: early night...?

If you assume that California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii will go to Obama, Obama wins the election.

9:28 pm: ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC have all called Georgia and Alabama for McCain and Minnesota for Obama.


Find your Inner Geek

Are you bombarded by election information? Are you sitting in front of your TV or computer screen not knowing which races to watch, or what the numbers really mean?

You may want to check out neuroscience professor Sam Wang’s “Geek’s Guide, Election 2008” featured on the Princeton Election Consortium website (

Wang’s cheat sheet provides an overview of how each state is leaning and a list of which contests to watch most closely.

In addition to predictions, the guide lists potential “canaries in the coalmine” that would provide early indications of how the race is likely to end up. For example, Wang explains that if Obama wins Georgia or North Carolina, this would foretell a landslide in his favor. On the other hand, if McCain wins Virginia or Ohio, the race will be closer than the polls indicated.

The document urges you to “find your inner geek!” with lists of statistics and close races to watch. Check it out!

- Senior Writer Reilly Kiernan '10


9:28 pm: ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC have called West Viriginia



9:24 pm: Fox News and NBC call Ohio for Obama.


PrinceCast: Election special

Check out the latest PrinceCast, recorded amidst the hubbub of the 'Prince' newsroom, specially for election night. It features Associate Editor for Opinion Barry Caro '09, Columnist Brandon Lowden '09, Executive Editor for Content Development Mike Shapiro '09 and special guest Kyle Smith '09 from Nassau Research. They discuss election day — voting on campus, voting absentee, the campus' political make-up and more.


Frank Lautenberg (D) wins re-election as New Jersey senator

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has been projected by the Newark Star-Ledger to win a fifth term in office, beating Republican challenger Dick Zimmer.

Lautenberg has represented New Jersey in the senate for all but two of the last 26 years.

In his campaign, Lautenberg had positioned himself has an opponent to the policies of the Bush administration. He also pledged to fight against special interests, especially the oil, tobacco, alcohol and firearms lobbies.

Recent independent polls had indicated that most voters hadn’t heard of Zimmer, who entered into the race relatively late. The incumbent also had significantly more in campaign funding than his competitor.

In his campaign, Zimmer had criticized Lautenberg's age - he is 84 years old - as well as his unwillingness to debate. The two candidates debated only twice, both times within weeks of election day.

-Princetonian Senior Writer Doug Eshleman '10


Princeton Borough District 1 goes for Obama

Exit polls by The Daily Princetonian throughout the day show students voting in Princeton Borough District 1 overwhelmingly supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Out of 280 student voters polled at the Trinity Church polling station, 86.4 percent of Princeton student voters reported voting for Obama, while 11.8 percent reported voting for McCain.

Of the voters polled, 52.9 percent of voters identified as Democrats, 32.5 percent identified as Independent, and 11.3 percent identified as Republicans.

Among registered Republicans, five voted for Obama, and among registered Democrats, only one voted for McCain.

In New Jersey races, 74.1 percent reported supporting Democratic candidate Frank Lautenberg for Senate and 84.8 percent reported supporting Democratic candidate Rush Holt for Congress.

The exit poll also asked voters to identify the issue that they weighed most heavily in casting their vote for a presidential candidate. Thirty-one percent of voters indicated that they prioritized issues relating to the economy, 17.1 percent selected foreign policy, and 11.1 percent considered “Presidential candidate’s character” most important.

-Reilly Kiernan '10, Princetonian Senior Writer


Election 2008: Round One of electoral votes

Most major news networks have determined Arizona Sen. John McCain will win the reliably Republican states of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Sen. Barack Obama has been projected to win the typically Democratic states of New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont and Maine as well as the District of Columbia and Obama's home state of Illinois.

ABC and NBC have called the important battleground state of Pennsylvania for Obama.

CBS and FOX have called West Virginia for McCain.

-Princetonian staff writer Jack Ackerman '11


Saying it all

Sometimes, succinctness wins. Check out this 'Prince' exit poll response. Agree or disagree, you gotta hand it to this guy: short, sweet, to the point.


This just in: Mitch Daniels '71 re-elected Indiana governor

Mitch Daniels ’71 (R) is the projected winner of the gubernatorial race in Indiana, according to CNN. Daniels is the incumbent and was elected to his first term as governor in 2004.

With 11 percent precincts reporting as of 7:25 p.m., Daniels has won 58 percent of the vote over Democrat Jill Long Thompson, who has gained 40 percent of the vote.

Daniels, who was a Wilson School major, captured similar percentages of the vote for both male and female voters, according to exit poll results from He also won with a consistent lead across age groups, though among voters age 65 or older, he gained 66 percent of the vote to Long Thompson’s 32 percent.

Among African-American voters, Daniels won only 21 percent to Long Thompson’s 74 percent. He also captured 56 percent of the independent vote.

Prior to getting elected to the Indiana governorship, Daniels served in the administrations of former President Ronald Reagan and President Bush.

- Senior writer Cornelia Hall '10


Blog Love: Nassau Research

As you can see in this article in the 'Prince', Princeton overwhelmingly supports Obama. But there's more to the story. Check out Nassau Research's blog, where you can get an exhaustive picture of Princeton's political composition. How liberal are we? How gung ho are McCain's supporters? What issues were most important to Obama supporters? It's all there in graphical format.


Election 2008: Post-classes at Trinity Church

As any good West Wing fan knows, rain depresses voter turnout. But the rain has not slowed students down this afternoon. A post-classes rush actually had students waiting in lines. The lines have now subsided and things are moving quickly again. Even though the polls won't close for two and a half hours, we've already seen huge turn-outs for District 1. 850 votes and counting. This doesn't even include the students who've voted via provisional ballot. Joshua Leinsdorf, an experienced Independent poll worker here today, confirms that this is an unprecedented turn-out.

Part of the turn out can be attributed to the great non-partisan efforts to register voters this year. Although critics of voter registration drives say that an increase in registration doesn't guarantee an increase in votes, such critics would be dismayed by the results in this district. For instance, this district saw so many new registrations in the fall that the Mercer County Board of Elections had to produce a "supplemental" booklet of 400 names. (In the voting process, people need to sign for themselves in a pre-printed booklet). Although 400 is only 1/6 of the total number of registered voters for this district, more than 1/6 of the voters have been found in this supplemental booklet, suggesting that a good proportion of newly registered voters are indeed voting. This is good news for voter registration projects on campus.


Election 2008: "Raining in" the polls

The drizzle out there hasn't dampened the spirits. Voters are still filing into Trinity and Icahn to vote in the last two and a half hours before the polls close at 8 p.m. Lines in both places haven't been long at all, and once you've checked your name off, the queue for the booths themselves are moving pretty easily too.

My reporters haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary, just hundreds of young people contributing their own part in making history.

There was, however, a middle-aged man in front of Nassau Hall loudly proclaiming his support for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to passerby. He certainly turned some heads.


Election 2008: Capturing the moment

The 'Prince' news team is also camping out near Trinity Church all day to capture the excitement of Princeton voters on this important day through exit polling, interviews and photo and video footage.

Already we have polled about 200 people, and not surprisingly, the results we gathered lean heavily towards Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). But some support for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was documented as well.

In any case, people certainly seemed thrilled to do their civic duty. "I think it's probably the most exciting thing I've ever done," Alex Scheeler '11 told us.

"This is the most important day in my young life," Timoko Ballantyne GS, whose parents are from the Caribbean and can't vote, told us. "I was like, Mom, I voted for a black man. My vote meant a lot to them," she said.

And passerby were no different. Drivers are honking and waving. "Today's the day!" one shouted.

So far this morning, the lines at Trinity have been short and sweet: roughly five minutes to get in, vote and leave.

Stay tuned. We'll be providing updates from the polls regularly throughout the afternoon and evening, then onwards to election-watching parties.


Election 2008: Lunchtime at Trinity Church

We're five hours and about 350 votes in. Things have been going smoothly for this volume. At the same time, the problems that have come up exemplify the grassroots nature of the voting process. As Jill Lepore discussed in the New Yorker, the voting process in this country has been largely decided on a local level, which explains the sometimes haphazard feel. There are lots of cases where the poll workers need to confer with each other; so it's understandable when voters are confused. Some of the most popular confusing situations for Boro District 1 are:

1. Voters come to the wrong district. Princeton dorms are divided into 3 districts. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that some of the district lines cut through dorms. Voters in South Baker, Forbes, and 1981 Hall could be in either District 1 of the Borough or District 12 of the Township.

2. Voters who swear they've registered aren't on the books. This is usually due to some missing piece of information on their registration form. In one case, a student's registration form didn't have the date when he filled it out. Others have filled out registration forms that have been handled by someone else (ie a student group) who may not have submitted the forms properly. Lesson learned: make sure your registration went through soon after you registered.

3. Voters who are from NJ never registered at Princeton because they believe that their registration transfers. Unfortunately, voting is handled on a county basis in this state and you must be registered in Mercer to vote in Mercer.
4. People have received incorrect directions on their sample ballots. For instance, people who should be voting in district 12 have been told to go to district 1.

The number one asked question so far has been "Do you have 'I voted' stickers?" The answer - because this state is poor - is no.

Type rest of the post here


Election 2008: Lunchtime at Trinity Church

We're five hours and about 350 votes in. Things have been going smoothly for this volume. At the same time, the problems that have come up exemplify the grassroots nature of the voting process. As Jill Lepore discussed in the New Yorker, the voting process in this country has been largely decided on a local level, which explains the sometimes haphazard feel. There are lots of cases where the poll workers need to confer with each other; so it's understandable when voters are confused. Some of the most popular confusing situations for Boro District 1 are:

1. Voters come to the wrong district. Princeton dorms are divided into 3 districts. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that some of the district lines cut through dorms. Voters in South Baker, Forbes, and 1981 Hall could be in either District 1 of the Borough or District 12 of the Township.

2. Voters who swear they've registered aren't on the books. This is usually due to some missing piece of information on their registration form. In one case, a student's registration form didn't have the date when he filled it out. Others have filled out registration forms that have been handled by someone else (ie a student group) who may not have submitted the forms properly. Lesson learned: make sure your registration went through soon after you registered.

3. Voters who are from NJ never registered at Princeton because they believe that their registration transfers. Unfortunately, voting is handled on a county basis in this state and you must be registered in Mercer to vote in Mercer.

4. People have received incorrect directions on their sample ballots. For instance, people who should be voting in district 12 have been told to go to district 1.

The number one asked question so far has been "Do you have 'I voted' stickers?" The answer - because this state is poor - is no.


Election 2008: Early morning at Trinity Church

It's early here at Trinity Church on Mercer Road, the polling site for District 1 of Princeton Boro. As a poll challenger for the Democratic Party, my job is to make sure nothing suspicious happens
and to keep track of who's voted. So far, so good. Even though the polls have been open for just an hour, we've had 50 voters. At this rate, we'll have 700 by the end of the day, but we're optimistic that there will be the greatest turn out ever here.

While it's expected that most voting will go smoothly today, the main issue is going to be the use of provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are used for voters who have not been registered correctly. In the case of Princeton students, those who have moved in between districts - say, from Scully to Henry - are incorrectly registered. Provisional ballots are rarely used for the population at large, but given than 130 were used at this polling location in February, we've been equipped with 150 this time. The downside of provisional ballots is that they aren't actually counted unless there's a close election.

To counter this problem, P-votes, College Dems, and College Republicans had worked to encourage people to update their registrations. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we won't need to use as many provisional ballots this year. so far, so good.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Meet the Freshman - Dan Strassfeld

The Prox will be featuring random freshmen we find on campus throughout the semester; this week, however, it's election edition meet the freshman! Our first freshman is Dan Strassfeld '12.

(The Prox is a big fan of candid photos)

Prox: Who did you/are you voting for in this election?
Dan: Obama.
Prox: Are you voting on campus or at home?
Dan: At home (Ohio)
Prox: Free associate: Maverick
Dan: [removed for propriety]
Prox: What's your favorite class this semester?
Dan: FRS 139 - The Ghetto as a Socio-Historical Problem

Tomorrow, the Prox tries to find a McCain supporter: Stay tuned!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Figures of Speech: One Last Election Panel Edition

The One You Can’t Miss
I know, I know. The 2008 presidential election has stretched on for well over a year. But here’s one final election panel worth hearing. It’s "Election ’08: The Aftermath" at 4:30 on Wednesday (that’s the day after Election Day) in 101 Friend Center. After all, the panelists are Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter, Prof. Eddie Glaude, and Prof. Julian Zelizer. As if that’s not enough, Prof. Cornel West is also a panelist.

Split Decision
If this isn’t your scene, then there must be something wrong with your brain. Or maybe you’d prefer to go to “Ethics in Neuroscience: Lessons from Lobotomy” in 23 Robertson. It features Mariko Nakano of UCLA, Prof. Gross of Princeton’s Psychology Department, and Prof. Peter Singer of the University Center for Human Values.
And because when it rains it pours, also on Wednesday at 4:30 there’s a lecture entitled “The Coming Oil Supply Crunch” given by Paul Stevens of London’s famous Chatham House.

Also on the docket is “Empty Churches, Full Tents” at 8 on Monday in McCosh 10. It’s the first of three lectures from Ian Buruma of Bard College on “religion and democracy on three continents.”
Finally, on Thursday at 4:30 in East Pyne 10, there’s “Law and Economics: Enemy or Friend of Classical Liberalism?” The speaker is Michael Krauss of George Mason University Law School.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Photo of the Day : November 1st, 2008

The Aftermath of Halloween
Photo by Chris Green '12