Friday, February 29, 2008

The Best Thing About the Leap Year...?

For many seniors: one more day to write our theses.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's Good to be the King

As many of you may know, Princeton (or as Hilary Duff once put it, 'the place where the princes go') will be hosting its very own piece of royalty tomorrow. King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (source: Wikipedia) will be giving a lecture of unknown topic, length, and description at Richardson Auditorium at Friday noon -- followed by a Q&A session with select students afterwards and, following that, a private reception with an even more select group of students in the basement of Richardson.

The following is an excerpt from a WWS department-wide email, highlighting proper etiquette for Woody Woo majors who plan on attending this latter schmooze session with the King. I hope you find these protocols as laughable as I do. Think all those recruiting sessions at the Nassau Inn with the suits from Blackrock/Blackwater/Goldman Sachs/Golden Calf were bad??? Well, to paraphrase another former Arab leader, this one's gonna be the mother of all networking events.

Protocol for the reception:

Please dress neatly- you don’t need to wear suits and ties. The King is addressed as “Your Excellency,” and he will shake hands.

Be considerate and polite- the King will circulate himself through the groups of attendees, so don’t crowd around him and/or monopolize his time.

Most importantly, have a good time!!! How often do we get to host a King?

Some other guidelines I'd like to suggest:
(1) Remember the unwritten rule about not talking religion and politics at the dinner table? Well, that applies here -- especially here.
(2) Know your place on the totem. Having a last name that is Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, or Weinstein does not automatically set you on equal footing with the King.
(3) It is a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of the Jordanian Royal Family before coming. For example, 'Queen Amidala' is not blood.
(4) His Excellency is not accepting resumes or cover letters at this time.
(5) In case the King asks, clarify that the CJL is not the 'Israel' of 'the Street'.
(6) So you now live in the same dorm in Pyne that Queen Noor '74 once occupied?? That's awesome. But the King doesn't care.
(7) In spite of the pomp and pageantry, treat the King as if he were one of your friends. Talk about movies if you want. Just not Syriana.

An afterthought / question for my readers: Why on earth would the King of Jordan bother coming to Princeton in the first place? What's in it for him, in swinging by this tiny idyllic bubble on Route One?? I welcome your comments. My guess is that, with oil at $101 a barrel these days, the University is doing everything it can to ensure it has a stable energy supply for its free printing and laundry.


why the dinky is called the dinky


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

He's just not that into you.

Recently, I had this really awkward conversation with my suitemates, and we have kind of formed factions within our suite due to room draw. I don't really know much about the process, but I do know it has made my suite a generally awkward place to be. So, of course, after having this little break up conversation, I realized that I wish things had gone differently. So, here's what I would have done, if I had the chance to do it over:

  1. Do it face to face. Make sure you have enough time for a long conversation, and a fair amount of emotion. Don't be afraid to show emotion yourself, but remain resolute -- wavering will make the situation worse.
  2. Blame everything on yourself or on the relationship itself. Don't blame him/her. So if you're breaking up with him/her because they were cheating, instead of saying "I'm breaking up with you because you're a cheating jerk" say something like "I feel insecure all the time, and need some time alone to regain my confidence."
  3. Lay out your reasons honestly. Presumably you're breaking up with them for non-hurtful reasons. Let them know why, explain it thoroughly. You get huge bonus points if they say things like "I understand" or "maybe this is the best thing to do." If your reasons are hurtful, like "I never loved you," make your reasons general and nonspecific. Such as, "I feel really apart with the world and the people around me, and want to reconnect with it."
  4. Be understanding of their feelings and let them tell you all the reasons you're wrong. In the end though, remain firm, and keep them aware that it's "something you need to do for yourself."
  5. Give them the space to be angry. Very angry. And hurt. Don't try to tell them that they are wrong for feeling so. They will get over it eventually.
  6. Be humble. Not proud. Take no joy in what you're doing, and try to be compassionate (but not intimate).
  7. Let them determine when the conversation is over. Note: This may take a long time.

Okay, I mean, it wouldn't go exactly like that, just because I copy and pasted the WikiHow on how to break up with someone and remain friends.

But, you know, it's pretty much the same thing.


Monday, February 25, 2008

JuicyCampus explained

The geniuses over at Penny Arcade have come up with the perfect t-shirt to explain away just why nice people post terrible things on sites like JuicyCampus, IvyGate, and even the comments section of the online Prince.

What it doesn't explain however, is how PostSecret has the exact opposite effect on people.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Metamorphosis, or, how PHY 103/4 ruined and subsequently saved my life.

One morning while brushing my teeth, I looked into the mirror to find myself transformed into a free-body diagram. An enormous red arrow had sprouted from my chest overnight, its tip bearing the peculiar label: Fstudy for econ.

I was astonished: I had never seen anything its like. Careful inspection showed that it wasn't made of plastic, or glass, or any other material that came to mind. It was warm to the touch, as though part of my body, but the strangest thing was that it clearly knew what was on my mind, as I had been worrying about econ all weekend, even to the point of a nightmare last night about market supply curves and Ben Bernanke. Did this mean then that my concerns had actual physiological manifestations inside (or outside) my body? Or did it mean that my thoughts and worries actually came from real biological structures?

As I contemplated this disquieting change, other arrows shifted and grew before my eyes, crawling over my face and neck, arms and legs. Craning my head, I even spotted a pair of gigantic blue arrows, one protruding from each shoulder blade, Fparents' unreasonable expectations and Fwell-meaning peer pressure, pointing like bizarre wings to opposite corners of the room.

"This is most unusual," I told my reflection, which responded by sticking out its tongue. On that bumpy surface, I saw, was a tiny silver arrow bearing the label, Fconcern over what the heck is going on with these arrows.

Astonishing, I thought. Incredibly up-to-date. Like gmail, these arrows refresh automatically.

The force vectors were never still. They constantly changed to reflect the shifting pressures on me, stretching and gyrating and sometimes disappearing altogether, though never for long. The night before my econ test, I woke up with all my nerves aflame, so tense I was practically twitching where I lay. I looked down to see that Fstudy for econ had grown to monolithic proportions, completely overshadowing all the other forces the way Manhattan skyscrapers cast little bitty huts made of sticks into shame.

Quick mental calculation told me that I was hideously out of balance. If I wasn't careful, I would find myself accelerating to McCosh 50, and I wasn't ready to go yet. I needed to put on more mass.

Finally, I knew that something had to be done. First, I assigned myself a system of coordinates using the right-hand rule. Sticking my arms out in front of me, I declared my right and left arms to be the positive x- and y-axes, and my head to be z-, so long as I didn't nod.

Next, I resolved all the vectors into their components, and used the back of an envelope (as well as my handy TI-89) to calculate the net force, which I labeled ΣFstress.

Once I found it, I knew that relief was near. I walked up to the nearest wall and pushed against it with the exact direction and magnitude of ΣFstress. As Newton predicted, the wall produced an equal and opposite reaction force, reducing my net stress to zero and bringing me back to equilibrium once more.

The next morning, I woke to find that I had torque vectors tugging at each of my arms, transforming me into a gigantic rotational couple: I was literally spinning from overwork.

Dizzy, despairing, I ran for my physics textbook. I really should have taken AP.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Under Construction

Yes, it seems that Princeton is always under construction. As soon as they finished Whitman it was time for Butler to come down. It seems like every day new things pop up--like that new path from Whitman to the Dinky. Now I won't have to get my shoes muddy when I go to the Wa on a rainy night. (Except of course that the Wa will be moved, but that will be after my time...)
The assortment of orange barriers around Nassau Hall makes it difficult to know what the shortest route from Rocky to McCosh might be. It's not fun to discover that your shortcut is blocked by construction when you're late to class. And of course, the University has just released its new plans for the further development of campus...

All of this makes it very hard for Google Maps to keep track of it all.

View Larger Map

Zoom in a bit, and you'll see that Bloomberg is nowhere to be found, Whitman is a bunch of athletic courts, and Butler is still standing strong. Curiously, if you turn on the Map function, the map will tell you about the rise of Bloomberg and Whitman, but not about Butler's demise.

And then of course, there's the fact that the University's website has just been redone.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar eclipse going on

Photo from Wikimedia Commons. More information on tonight's eclipse: click me.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Comments welcome?

I must admit, ever since The Prince online edition became a carbon copy of the, I've been a bit skeptical of some of its changes, but none more so than the new 'comments' option.

My main beef with comments is that, while fun and engaging, they also tend to degrade the civility of the conversation, especially if there is no ownership for one's viewpoints. Left unchecked, comments become no different than graffiti - uninformed, anonymous, and (at times) hurtful statements - that do little to advance the public discourse.

That said, I am reassured by our counterparts in the Web department at the New York Times, who are experiencing much of the same frustration with their comments option as I do. This recent post by Kate Phillips in the 'Caucus' blog serves to highlight that point - and I think all readers of the Princetonian online edition would benefit by hearing what Ms. Phillips has to say.

In the same spirit, I believe that The Prince should, at the very least, institute some sort of 'Guideline for Publishing Comments' page on their website, or do a better job of moderating online discussions. And should more desperate measures prove necessary, the web team should mandate NetID registration on comments to screen out pesky anonymous responses (and bring in informed ones).

Either way, we simply cannot allow the current comments option to stand. Comments can never substitute for a well thought-out, personally-accountable, good-ole' fashioned Letter to the Editor - and they never will.


[On another note, being able to comment immediately to news stories makes blogs like 'The Prox' look increasingly irrelevant... but such is the price of progress, ain't it not?]


Monday, February 18, 2008

Semicolon spotted in the Subway ;-)

I'm not entirely sure what it means when The New York Times finds itself reporting on punctuation. Maybe the fall of civilization is imminent?

All I can say is that I sure as heck didn't learn how to use the semicolon in third grade. Neither did either of my brothers, and all three of us went to public elementary and middle school in the city. I suppose that the difference between "supposed to be" and "is".


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ha! So I'm not crazy!

I do not have at this moment, nor have I ever had, a Facebook profile.

I admit, that this has at times been tedious. Facebook is a tool whose uses go well beyond procrastination, and by being out of the loop, I've missed out on those uses (and not to mention more than one great joke).

So why not be on Facebook? It's a combination of things. Mostly paranoia, though. I'd like to think that I've been right, of course. It seems (not being on Facebook, I can't say for sure) that Facebook has progressively become less and less of a safe and non-invasive place.

But now it seems that there's a particularly great reason to stay off of Facebook: according to The New York Times it is almost impossible to actually leave Facebook. I'm not talking about deactivating your account; I mean, actually removing all of your personal information and removing your account. apparently, this entails manually removing all personal data--Wall posts, entries, photographs, etc.-- and then contacting Facebook in writing.

Another hassle averted by not being on Facebook!


Thursday, February 7, 2008




Edit: Now the regular homepage is showing up... Mysterious...


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

but what you don't know is that there was a security guard hiding INSIDE the voting machine

Democracy is good. One man, one vote: that's our motto. Elections are a big deal. And a big security headache. Don't worry, though: Princeton professors don't cheat. We have the Honor Code here.