Saturday, June 30, 2007

The River

This past week has been incredibly hot up at Dartmouth, much warmer than the weather I experienced in Israel the week before. During this term, I'm living down in the River cluster in the Hillel apartment, which is part of Maxwell. While the apartment is amazing, normally the location would be considered bad, since the River cluster is about as far from the Green as you can go on campus. But the great thing is that it's near the river, and in this hot weather it's been a real pleasure to jump in.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Food Report from Sophomore Summer

Well, I'm back at Dartmouth. Sophomore Summer has begun, and it's been a good term so far - great weather, laid-back atmosphere, all that stuff.

Since I'm a complainer by nature, though, I'll air some gripes about the food. There's not a lot of places to get it. Home Plate is closed, the Hop is gone during the weekends, and Collis pasta is a memory. I'm a fervent believer that Food Court only exists to make the other food places look better, except for the very rare good special, I'd rather not eat there. I realize that Dartmouth food tends to be great in comparison in other colleges, so I know I shouldn't be complaining, but I've gotten use to good food (a.k.a. meals at Home Plate). I'm not saying that they have much choice financially - I'm on the Student Budget Advisory Committee, so I've seen the DDS numbers - but that doesn't make better. I've gotten so desperate that I ordered EBA's by myself for the first time last night. Turns out it's only good under the influence of alcohol.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bloomberg Leaves the GOP

Michael Bloomberg left the Republican Party yesterday , ending 13 years of GOP control in New York City. I think that Bloomberg is an excellent mayor - I voted for him in the last election - and I'm very glad that he is registering as an independent. There's no question about it now, he's running for president. Check out his new website launched only a few weeks ago.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

1-877-478-7778 - Forever imprinted on my mind

I have just finished one of the most frustrating experiences of my entire life. Tomorrow morning, I am flying to Israel, and after spending two weeks non-stop on the phone talking to the national passport office and to Congressional offices, I finally got my passport about fifteen minutes ago.

It turns out I had the terrible misfortune of applying for a renewal in the midst of a passport crisis. Normally, processing is supposed to take 6 weeks. I applied over 12 weeks ago, and it was only by a lot of work and a lot of luck that I ended up getting it on time. During the past two weeks, I have called the passport center at least fifteen times - each time it has taken about an hour to get through to talk to somebody. For a long time, I thought I was the only one experiencing problems, but it gave me little comfort to wake up Thursday to a New York Times article about the crisis. The Bush administration put in place new regulations mandating passports for Americans returning from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean by air, but somehow didn't anticipate that there would be a major rush for passports. Well, it turns out that the number of applicants has doubled, which understandably has caused major problems.

Even when I got finally got through to the passport center, the people I spoke to had no clue what they were talking about. Everybody gave me a different story. On Monday, they told me my passport was being shipped out that night. Good luck with that. It finally shipped on Thursday afternoon, but they totally messed up the shipping. They told both me and a very helpful staff member from Rep. Hodes's office that they were shipping it overnight mail or "express mail." That was definitely necessary because the other option was "priority mail" which takes "2-3 days, or longer." Well, two days would be today, three days would be tomorrow, when I'm flying, too late. Of course, despite their assurances they messed up, and shipped it Priority Mail. Only by complete luck (and probably because I live in Manhattan) did I get it in time.

Okay, so I'm relieved that I finally have the passport, but completely pissed off that I had to spend twenty hours on the phone and ultimately only rely on luck to get my passport. I hate to do this, but I really think that George W. Bush is to blame for this. All these new passport restrictions were done in the name of fighting terrorism, but I don't see how it accomplishes anything. Right now, you need a birth certificate and a driver's license (or S.S. card) to get back into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, and those other places. Those are the same documents you use to get a passport. It's the same thing. If they can reliable ascertain the authenticity of those documents (which they should be able to) then requiring a passport doesn't add security. And it won't fuck up my travel plans or completely ruin a week of my life, which it has, because rather than chilling this past week, I've been on the phone 24/7. If I were a conservative, I would probably turn this into some rant against "big government," but I believe in the ability of government to help people and improve lives. Instead, this is the outcome of a completely incompenent government. It is really inexpliciable that they would not inticipate the increased demand for passports. What were they thinking?

All right, so now that I have my passport, I'll be in Israel for the next ten days, so Super Dartmouth will be on vacation. As a sophomore, I'll be at Dartmouth for the summer, so this blog will be back in full effect around June 21. And for the first time, I'll be able to actually blog from Dartmouth.

New Chair of the Board of Trustees

Ed Haldeman '70 was elected chair of the Board of Trustees, replacing William Heukom '64, who is retiring from the board. Haldeman is the CEO of Putnam Investments and has been on the Board since 2004. Stephen Mandel Jr. '78 was elected to fill Neukom's seat as a charter trustee, and Leon Black and Jose Fernandez were reelected to their seats.

The Dartmouth press release includes a letter from Haldeman to alumni.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Federal Court: Stop the Censorship

Today, a federal appeals court in New York struck down FCC regulations that create penalities for airing "indecent" words over broadcast TV. The lawsuit was filed against the FCC by the four major broadcast networks - NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. Under the Bush Administration, the FCC has been taking a much stronger approach towards punishing networks for language, particularly accidental and unplanned expletives. The court ruled that these blurted words were typically said out of momentary emotion, and were therefore not truly obscene, in context. The decision also cites the use of curse words by Bush and Cheney to illustrate that the Bush Administration's claim that words like "fuck" automatically carry a sexual connotation is ridiculous. I think that this court ruling is a great victory for free speech. While broadcast television should generally be appropriate, the Bush Administration has obviously overreached in punishing networks for uncontrollable moments of live TV. The Bush Administration's Orwellian behavior is the perfect example of why censorship should not be a government function.

Go See "Knocked Up"

I saw "Knocked Up" today, the new film by Judd Apatow of "40 Year Old Virgin" fame. It was absolutely great, one of the best movies I've seen in a while. What's most striking is that it's your usual low-culture comedy, complete with a bunch of stoners, but done impeccably well. The critics also love it.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Stolen Comment

Up on the Student Assemblog, there's a funny, over-the-top comment to an article about Jim Wright's work with wounded soldiers:
I don't agree personally, but I wonder to what extent the author reflects the general sentiment of alumni. Have people really gotten over the Student Life Initiative, or will it forever mark Wright's reign? As a student, it feels like a long time has passed since SLI (obviously I wasn't here). But in the lifetime an alumnus/a, it's a very short period of time.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

DFP's "Senior Issue"

The Dartmouth Free Press just published their "senior issue." It's a good read.

Here's a scorecard:

Connor Shepherd, "We'll Make It I Swear: Overcoming Tradition" - About the Greek system, drinking, tradition, career choices, and superficiality. Whatever. I'm not really sure what he's talking about, but I'll take his word for it. [5/10]

Yuki Kondo-Shah, "You Belong: Finding The Right People" - Interesting inside perspective to admissions with Dartmouth. I agree with Yuki's views when it comes to admission and affirmative action, and I found this insightful. [8/10]

Andrew Seal, "Common Expressions: Broadening The Discourse" - Self-expression, male dominance of campus dialogue, etc. I've read it before. But Seal's a big media guy - why no female contributors to the Little Green Blog? [3/10]

Meredith Wilson, "You Can Change The World" - Using the Iraqi Kids Project to demonstrate how to organize and get stuff done. Self call by the author. Not a bad guide. I'll give it a good score. [6.5/10]

Heather Strack, "Activism And The Greeks: They Go Together" - Being an activist and a Greek at the same time is "liberating and suffocating." I don't understand. My affiliation with my house has absolutely no influence on my political views. Why should it? There are both liberals and conservatives in my house, with various levels of devotion and extremeness. I don't want my frat to act as a political organization - that's not why I'm a brother. [3/10]

Michelle Davis, "Myth Of The Dartmouth Liberal: Looking Beneath The Rhetoric" - On the prevalence of fake liberals around campus. Includes a little test. I agree with Michelle that a lot of people claim falsely to be liberals. At the same time, any sort of label is oversimplified, and I think that there's a wide of range of liberals. FYI - I'm the real thing, I promise. [6/10]

Michael Amico, "On Wants And Wishes: An Agenda For The Self" - One of the gutsiest articles I've ever read. Shock-value off the charts. Props to Amico. [10/10]

Soralee Avyar, "Injustice For All: A United Way" - I generally agree. [5/10]

Vivian Chung, "Short Lessons I've Learned: Losing Yourself To Find Yourself" - Sort of like Mike Amico's article but boring by comparison. [4/10]

Friday, June 1, 2007


The New York Times has an article about a rap video from three Vermont teenagers. Okay, well it's sort of funny, but I always knew that Vermont was wack, I just didn't want to think about it.

NY Times Messes Up

In the late afternoon, the New York Times posted an article on their website about a baseball team from a public middle school, I.S. 286, in New York City. The original version of the article discusses a game between I.S. 286 and Hunter College High School, where I went to school from 7th to 12th grade. Trymaine Lee, the author, describes Hunter as trash-talking I.S. 286, attacking them for having no uniforms. There was also an altercation started when a Hunter player said, "that’s why y’all mothers smoke crack." I was surprised. Hunter kids don't normally talk like that. We do have our ghetto side, of course, but we're also one of the best high schools in the country, public or private.

Well, it turns out the Times completely fucked up. When I went back to the article tonight, every mention of Hunter was changed to J.H.S. 104. I guess that explains it. That's too bad. It's not often that Hunter gets mentioned for its athletics or for its trash-talking skills.

Oppose the Boycott

Today, Tanner Tananbaum '10 blitzed the campus about an open letter that will be sent to Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the British University and College Union, which represents British professors. The UCU recently voted to boycott Israeli academia. Students can show their opposition to the boycott by signing the letter via blitz or in Thayer or Novack.

As an Israeli-American, I find this boycott to be outrageous and completely unacceptable. Regardless of your views about the Middle East conflict, it is blatently wrong for British academic institutions to discreminate against Israeli professors and Israeli research. Please show your support by signing the letter!

Here is the letter:
June 1st, 2007

Sally Hunt
General Secretary
Association of University Teachers
Egmont House
25-31 Tavistock Place

Dear Madam,

On May 30th, 2007, an organization that you represent, The British University and College Union (UCU), voted 158 to 99 to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

We, students at Dartmouth College, USA, recognize that this motion does not represent the sentiments of all members of the UCU. However, as a leader and spokesperson for the UCU, we feel that it is vital that you and your colleagues do all in your power to make sure this boycott does not come to fruition.

This boycott, if approved, would violate the sanctity of the educational process and create a precedent whereby any national organization, held captive by a vocal minority of its constituents, might enter the political fray and become a lightning rod for bias, bigotry and divisiveness. This is especially abhorrent when it involves academia, the one area of human endeavor, and until now human success, that is above the bickering and prejudice that has emplasticized so much of mankind today.

Do you really want the UCU to be remembered as an organization that led clear thinking people towards the abyss of conflict and conflagration? Are British educational leaders now going to punish and ostracize their compatriots in another country because they do not agree with the way that country is run?

To boycott Israeli academic institutions, to boycott the academic institutions of any country, will not benefit, change, move forward, or in any way alter the Middle East Peace Process. But your actions do have the potential to ostracize academics who live in a country that values individual expression and maintains the highest level of academic integrity and scholarship. Indeed, the schools of higher education in Israel, like those of Great Britain and The United States, have become a refuge for liberal thinkers and proponents of peaceful worldwide coexistence.

Academics and research, the two components at the receiving end of this boycott, are the core tenets of our liberal arts education here at Dartmouth. Dartmouth College and its liberal arts program rely on its internationally diverse student body and faculty to bring new ideas and solutions to the universal problems that are plaguing our planet.

We would be betraying the stated goals of this college, and all colleges and universities in the free world, if we did not register our protest at the ignoble proposal that the UCU has brought to the table. We are free men and women only as long as we allow others to be free. We can reach the highest plateaus of knowledge only as long as we allow the free flow of that knowledge. And we can bring forth new ideas and solutions to the problems of the world only as long as we do not automatically reject new ideas and solutions from others.

For all those reasons we at Dartmouth College request that you rescind your call for a boycott of Israeli institutions of higher learning at once:

A. Charles Tananbaum, Class of 2010, Alexander P. Lee, Class of 2010, Melisa Garber, Class of 2008, Nathaniel F. Obler, Class of 2010, Jay B. Markson, Class of 2010