Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tough Week For Celebs

With the passing of former President Gerald "Swine Flu" Ford and
singer James "Return Fire" Brown, looks like it's been a tough week
for celebrities.

Which reminds me, how's the appeal coming along, Saddam?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Kaka "the Fan Boy" Eeday

A visiting librarian from Japan came to our department today for a brief tour and discussion. While she was here, I got a confirmation on something that a friend had told me long ago.

It's true: "Ben" means "poop" in Japanese.

She took it all in stride, and I doubt she would have commented on it if I hadn't mentioned it first. However, she admitted that she initially expected me to look more Asian since "Ide" (pronounced "ee-day") is a fairly popular surname in Japan.

After the tour, we sat at my desk while she asked me a few more questions. She kept looking over my shoulder at my computer screen, and it wasn't until she was about to leave that she laughingly said why.

I had completely forgotten that, months ago, I'd changed the scrolling banner of my screen saver to say:


Which is Japanese for "geek" or "fan boy".

I'm so embarrassed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

First Snow

Building the snowman
We had our first snow of the season today. Really, it was little more than slush from on high, but the kids dug it. Nicky built a snowman!

More building

Notice all the green tracks in the lawn, showing where the snowballs had been rolled.

Done, now on to other things

"All done, bored now."

That's the little snowman in the bottom left corner. It's camouflaged by all the yard debris stuck in the snow.

Sadly, the temperatures shot up right after these photos were taken, and Frosty is no more. Perhaps the detritus lives on as compost.

By the way, Gretchen made the scarves. Aren't they great?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunday with Gillian

From Gretchen's mother, Barbara Fluck:

I wanted to tell you about Gilly in church and Gilly at lunch. Boy, dress that kid up and she figures she can get away with anything. She can get her boots off now without undoing the zipper. So she hummed one under the pew in front of us. Gretchen retrieved it and put it on the seat--end of story??? Not by a long shot. Little minx picked it up, gave Gretchen a nasty look and hummed it back under the pew and then a look like 'That will take care of that' She stood up on the seat and held the back of our pew, flirted with the old ladies behind her, turned the pages of their hymnals. Of course when there was music she swayed and sort of danced in perfect rhythm. Before Harry went to Sunday school he took a hymnal and sang sotto voce whether there was singing or not. That was after he found he could not get past me and go fight with Nicky--well, at least until the very end when he made it by lying on his belly and wiggling like a snake to get under my leg and feet.

Then Gretchen decided we should go to lunch at Bliss and Harry was so excited he took a flying leap into the booth and hit hard as in tears and howling. It had to have hurt badly. He'd wipe his eyes and then start howling all over again. He did manage to eat his lunch so he could have a sundae like the picture. The waitress made it in miniature. Ice cream cures most pains. Nicky bought him a pack of gum which completed the soothing.

You say Gilly, how about Gilly? Oh yes she was in a high chair at the end of the booth and had a hot dog which Gretchen cut into little circles and gave her a puddle of ketchup for dipping. That was when she figured out how to do something she must have watched the big kids do somewhere. She made the circle into a stamp; the ketchup was the stamp pad and the paper, you ask. Why Mommy's arm of course. Did I mention Gretchen was wearing a new, pretty blouse? I think Gilly missed the fabric but cannot be sure. I wiped Gretchen's arm and that was Gilly's cue to show us that she was operating according to her own plan, and she stamped it again. The high chair was moved and then she moved a bit forward so she could reach my woolen skirt and wipe that nasty ketchup ink off her dainty little fingers. Another move of the chair and she had the ketchup all to herself and she spread it liberally over her face. Just one more adventure--she took a big drink of her juice and let it run down her front. The cold made her gasp and grab her tummy. We gave her a napkin and let her wipe herself. She really looked adorable as the day began.

When they headed for home, I came here and settled into my chair with a good book--which never was read--at least for the next two hours when I woke up and realized I had beat my record for sleeping in my chair, which hitherto had been half an hour. I did have a great time, but it was exhausting. It was Gretchen who deserved all the sympathy. We laughed a lot but I think if I had not been there she might have cried or screamed. I had mentioned in the beginning I was surprised that she brought Gilly. I am sure she understood at the end why I thought that. Well, now you have a full account. Have a good day and we'll see you Thursday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Snake Oil

It's getting so hard to find decent snake oil these days.

And don't get me started on dehydrated water. Not one local retailer. Not one.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Overheard* Monday morning at 8:30 in the central stairwell of Lamont Library, spoken by a young woman into her cell phone:

"Hello, yes. Can I get something in writing that states that I do not have a restraining order against you?"

How does that work? If you are the party who would otherwise have issued a restraining order, wouldn't it be logical to supply your own written statement to that fact? Otherwise, we had all better start writting out statements for all the people we don't mind having within 500' of me. I'm going to start with Rachel Ray. ;-)

And how would you like to be the person on the other end of the line, dealing with this early morning non-sequitur?

blink blink "Do you need this before I have my first cup of coffee?"

*Based on the number of times I overhear bizarre things people declaim into their cell phones in public spaces, this might become a new running feature.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Electric Lighting

Is lightning enlightening?
Or can only lighting

Lightning will lighten,
as lightning's lighting lights,
but is this lightening

Even so, is it
the lightning that
enlightens or
just the lightning's
lightening that

Luminous luminaries of
voluminous illumination
will illuminate
what shocking shocks
this shocking shock
may shake.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hallowe'en Train

We asked Harry what he wanted to be for Hallowe'en this year.

"I want to be a train."

Do you mean, you want to be an engineer? He got a nifty new engineer uniform for his birthday in August.

"No, I want to be a train."

So Gretchen cobbled together this costume: Harry the Train.

Harry as Train

It's Thomas, of course.

It's Thomas, of course

Good thing we saved all those boxes, huh?

Nicky dressed as a vampire and Gilly as a pumpkin.

Vampire NickyGilly Pumpkin

Pretty good, huh?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Coffee for the Uninformed

A new cafe is opening in my library tomorrow.

I hate it.

Sure, it's nice looking. This time, the architects and designers succeeded in making the addition look like the rest of the building. And I love coffee.

So what's the problem? The new cafe has completely replaced our reference collection and services.

Awful, huh? You don't know the half of it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Boring Lunch

Asleep in her highchair.
Poor tired Gilly.

Oh, well. Not every meal can be exciting.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones came to speak and read at our local library yesterday. While I couldn't go, Gretchen and the kids went. The Providence Journal was on hand to take pictures.

James Earl Jones at Knight Memorial Library
If you look in the bottom left corner, you can see Gretchen with most of her brood.

Lifelong Fans of Reading

Monday, September 11, 2006


Special guest blogger today, Gretchen.

-- Ben

Nicky and I did a "history" lesson today talking about 9/11 and
reading/viewing some stuff in Projo and AP.

I wrote some poems that you could put in the blog if you wanted.

Remembering 9/11

5 years..My mind pulled back--
Warm, sunny, glorious September day.
My three-year-old playing in the yard while I read,
Phone rings--youngest nephew--
Horror--plane crash--Two Towers.

Run inside to television--horror
Standing transfixed...
Lines jammed. No phones...
No planes...all quiet.

5 three children,
Sunny, glorious September day. he's 8, learning history.
Looking at pictures, listening to stories, reading accounts.
Horror is now sadness...quiet tears fall.


Horrific event--terrorist attack.

Everything stops.

Rescuers are frantically searching...

Occasionally finding a miracle.

Everyday people--

Saviours and souls.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ronald McHummer

McSmoggy Deluxe!

My kids have a couple of the toy Hummers that McDonald's has been giving out. It's all pretty nasty, but they love the cars.

Anyway, you can make your own McDonald's sign at Hurry, before the corporate lawyers yank it down!


So the title of this entry is "Hot Library Smut."

And that's really what it is! Pure, unadulterated lustful images of...

Well, I won't spoil the surprise.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I stink... squirrel whiz.

I have to clean my scooter soon. Squirrels have been sneaking into my garage and "marking" my scooter. Today isn't too bad, since I hosed the seat down with Febreeze. Yesterday, even if no one else noticed the smell, I did, and it was driving me to distraction.

Fluffy-Tailed Tree Weasel

And it makes my cats all goofy, too.

Tomato Cure for Cat Hangover

What did I drink?!

Dateline: Providence

Pablo the cat, seen here (above), tries the new miracle cure for cat hangovers -- tomato fumes -- after an all-night bender at "Hawaiian Nite."

I Feel...

...higher than a kite.

They're doing construction work in my library right now and the fumes are amazing. In the words on one of my cow-orkers (who had to leave due to the stench) "it's like working inside a plastic model airplane."

On a related note, the chickens here love me. They say it's because of my humor, but I know it's because I'm the only one who sees them skritching behind the Xerox machine.

Don't worry, chickens. I won't tell.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I feel aardvarks should be granted voting privileges. That's just how I feel.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Other movies I probably won't see

Vegetarian horror film:

Steaks on a Plate

Vampire horror film:

Stakes through a Vein

Tailgater horror film:

Brakes in my Lane

Poets' horror film

Yates has been Slain

Shipping horror film:

Crates on a Train

Superman II:

Dates Lois Lane

Roger Ebert writes:

Fakes on the Wane

My own personal horror film:

Aches in the Brain

Okay, all together now, "The snakes in
Spain fall mainly on the plane."
(Nice work, Julie. Audrey, I can't hear you.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

So they're inflatable?

This headline taken from EuroNews:

French blow to expanded UN peacekeeper force

(My son reads this blog, so please keep your comments PG rated, folks.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006

How to Change a Very Poopy Baby

Here's a tip for you fathers out there, based on true-to-life experience: How to change a very poopy baby when you only have ONE wipe.

First. Preparation is everything. Make sure that your wife isn't home. This saves a lot of time as you won't be tempted to shout questions like, "Honey? Did you know we're out of baby wipes?" This is a stupid question, anyway, and will only serve to make you look like one of those totally incompetent TV dads.

Also crucial, know what you are getting into. It is always important to have some idea what's inside the diaper BEFORE you open it. In my case, it was the smell that eventually drew my attention away from the computer. Usually this is not an easy feat. Lucky, the baby was quite pungent.

Upon getting the baby onto the changing table, count the wipes (one) and then check the baby's clothes and back. This will let you know if the baby has, you know, "exploded." Now, a lot of dads will tell you that the only thing you can do with an exploded baby is give her a thorough swirl in the toilet. I disagree. The tub works just as well. Anyway, for the purposes of this tutorial, let's say that it's "bad" but not "real bad" and move on.

Next, give the baby something to play with other than what's in her diaper. Remember, preparation is everything and a handy doodad or geegaw can be a real lifesaver, especially with "the girl with the curious hands". "Oo, look sweetie! A rattle!" Of course, it doesn't have to BE a rattle. "Oo, look sweetie! A jar of Vaseline!" works just as well. Remember, if the kid isn't smart enough to use the toilet yet, she's probably still impressed with common, nearby objects.

Now, with one hand on the baby -- wouldn't want her to fall off the changing table (again) -- search frantically for where Mommy keeps the extra wipes. Make note of where you find the hairclips for the next time you can't find those.

No luck? Of course not. The next step is to forage around the house WITH the baby. (Remember: baby + falling off the changing table = bad.) Luckily you are an expert at contingency planning so you didn't open the diaper all the way. If you had... Well, it would be unpleasant. Speaking of which, try not to put the full weight of the baby on her diaper whilst carrying her around. (See "explosions," above).

Note: You will not find wipes during your frantic scan of the house. Don't bother, they aren't there. I checked already. What you are looking for is baby wipe stand-ins. Something that will work almost as well. Something like... toilet paper! Genius! Hey, it works on you pretty well, right?

Okay, swipe the roll from the bathroom. You can replace it later. And if you forget, screw it. You don't use the stuff much more than once a day anyway, right? Besides, it's a vengeance thing: Let's see how the rest of this household deals with being under-equipped in crucial situations.

Now you are ready to go back to the changing table. One last very important tip: Save the wipe for last! You only have one, and you've got to make it count.

Success! Dude, you rock. Give yourself a pat on the back -- after you wash your hands, of course.

That's all for this week, guys. Be sure to tune in next time when we'll cover "Household accidents: how to make it look like the pet did it."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Best Friends


Harry and his buddy, Pablo.

(Or, as he calls him, "Plablo.")

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Normally, when we catch one of our kids marking up the place, we reward their graffiti with a stern "no no" and make them help clean it up.

Now we're contemplating painting the 'fridge with that "chalkboard" paint and letting Gilly go to town on it.

We must be getting worn down.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Moldy Cheese

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards getting help. Well, I have a problem. I write poetry.

"Hello, my name is Ben, and I write poetry."

"Hi, Ben."

So what's the problem? It's not like I tie people to chairs and force them to listen to my poetry. Heck, I can count the number of public readings I've done on my thumbs.

The problem is that, often, my first instinct in any given situation is to write a poem about it.

Take last week for example. I'm in the break room at work, pouring myself a cup of coffee, when I notice that some one left a block of cheddar out of the fridge too long. Now it's got "friends". You know, green and gray fuzzy friends.

No one's name is on it. It's obviously no good. But did I toss it in the trash? No. I wrote a poem:

Whose cheese is this? I think it's old
For I have noticed growing mold
And I have not yet grown so bold
That I should toss it out

So what have I done? The cheese is still moldering on the counter, I've wasted at least 5 minutes of my life writing useless doggerel, and I've potentially alienated fans of Robert Frost.

Maybe there's hope for me yet. I mean, I did admit that I have this problem. And, more importantly, I went back and threw out the cheese.

Wooden Trains

Did I mention that Harry likes trains? He made this one yesterday. No help from anyone:

Wooden Train

By the way, he'll be four next month.

Wooden Train Creator

Last night, Harry and I looked at some steam powered robots some one had made.

He really liked the hybrid of a steam locomotive and an RC centipede. I liked them all. Genius!

Harry wanted to know if we could make these. I said yes, but -- looking at the massive complexity of it all -- definitely not tomorrow.

"Can we do it tonight?"

He's a cutie.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Birthday, Gilly!

In honor of Gillian's second birthday today, I am reposting two blog entries about her. Happy birthday, cutie!

Gillian with beads

Family News

Gretchen had a doctor's appointment on Monday.

The appointment with her ob/gyn was to investigate a few irregularities Gretchen's been experiencing lately. At the doctor's office, she had an exam, a blood test, and she and the doctor discussed what might be causing these problems. The discussion focused the possibility of a fibroid mass or an enlarged ovary, but of course one subject couldn't be avoided: cancer.

Despite the impending snowstorm, Gretchen was scheduled for an ultrasound on Wednesday -- today. She and her doctor agreed that it was best not to wait. When the storm proved to be minor, we were relieved that Gretchen would be able to have her test. Out of concern for her health and for reassurance, I took a personal day. I watched Harry while she was getting her ultrasound.

The ultrasound pictures, combined with the blood work results, are conclusive. She has a cancer growing inside her. Well, we're pretty sure it's a cancer. It could be a leo. It really depends on whether this baby will be born in early August or late July. That's right! Harry's going to be a middle child!

Gretchen is very, very happy. I'm also happy, but very, very stunned. I honestly expected much worse news. I'm tempted to name the sucker "Fibroid Apoptosis" as payback for the stress.

# Posted by Ben Ide on 1/28/04

19 inches, 6 pounds, 14 ounces

Gretchen's water broken at about quarter of eleven Saturday night when Nicky, our oldest, surprised her at the side of our bed. He'd just had a nightmare, and when Gretchen twisted around suddenly, gloosh! She dribbled off to the bathroom while I reassured Nicky...

Six-year-old logic:

"Where's the glass?"


"Mommy's glass?"


"You said her water broke. I don't want to step on the glass."

"Oh. Um, it's not that kind of water. There wasn't a glass or cup or anything."

I hear giggling from the bathroom.

"So where did the water come from? Did it fall out of her mouth?"

Now the giggling is outright laughter. It grows to hysterics as I try to explain in as little detail as possible while mopping up the floor.

Gramma comes over and we drive to the hospital by 11:30. At 1 AM we're in the delivery room but the baby's not cooperating. Two measly contractions and that's it. At about 5 AM we opt for pretosin. Gillian Sophia Ide is born at 10 AM, Sunday, the 18 of July, 2004.

I was in a deep fog for the rest of the day. Even a two hour nap and a shower only barely helped me regain focus. Today, I've gotten a full night's sleep and a couple cups of coffee, so I'm doing much better.

# Posted by Ben Ide on 7/19/04



More of my famous neighbors, this time it's the folks who work downstairs from me, the Lamont Library Reference Department.

Harvard has many, many libraries but what make Lamont's Reference professionals stand out is not their specialization but their generalization. In a world of detail-oriented specialists, sometimes the hardest thing you can do is answer any question on any topic (at almost any time).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Nicky's home!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Hey, Kids!

Print out two copies of this picture.

Cut out all the white parts of the first printout.

Now cut out all the gray AND white parts of the second printout.

You now have a two-stage stencil to use with light-colored spray paint on dark-colored surfaces.

Rather use dark-colored paint on a light-colored surface? Just cut out the black parts and then the black and gray parts on your two printouts and go to town!


The Truth About Superman

...He's a dick.

I didn't quite believe it at the time, but a while ago I'd heard that Superman was originally conceived to be more of a villain than a good guy. I mean, if he was evil, what would have stopped him from destroying the world, or doing anything else he wanted for that matter? But no, he wasn't evil, he was just a jerk.

Later, his image was changed to make him into the mild mannered defender of truth, justice, and the American way that we all know and love.

But he was really a dick.

This is a happy camper
Nicky's at camp this week -- ECC. He loves it there.

Cute, but fretful
Gillian, looking cute but fretful during the drop off.

Watching, waiting...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the kitties eagerly await Nicky's return.

Monday, July 10, 2006

From the New York Times (Arts/Art & Design); July 10, 2006
Renovations to a Study Room by Aalto Splits Harvard Faculty

A renovation of a Harvard University poetry reading room designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto has drawn heated objections from architects and preservationists.

I've included some "before and after" pictures for those of you who don't know what the uproar is about.

Here's the before:
Woodbury Poetry Room

And the after:
Total crap

Nice, huh? Very spacious. And modern, too!

Spying at SCSU (my alma mater)

From Edupage, July 07, 2006:

Surveillance reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the Department of Defense monitored student e-mail as part of its efforts to identify and track potential terrorist suspects. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filed requests for the information, and the reports released so far cover e-mail surveillance at the State University of New York at Albany, Southern Connecticut State University, the University of California at Berkeley, and William Paterson University of New Jersey. Student e-mail was monitored when it dealt with protests against the war in Iraq or against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" program concerning gay and lesbian members of the armed forces. Instances of monitoring were evidently prompted by reports of suspicious behavior, but a Pentagon spokesperson would not say who submitted the reports that led to the monitoring described in the surveillance reports. Kermit Hall, president of SUNY-Albany, said his institution is investigating the nature of the monitoring and how it was conducted and would decide later how to proceed.

Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 July 2006 (sub. req'd)

Thursday, July 06, 2006


My doctor tells me that death is unavoidable for most people in my
income bracket.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Crimson's Cash?

I just finished a Robert B. Parker book, called "Bad Business," that deals fictionally with the financial solvency of a energy brokerage. It's undoubtedly based on the Enron scandal, but it got me thinking about a few things here at Harvard.

It's a funny thing. We've got an endowment up around $26 billion (that's "billion" with a "b") but we're in some dire financial straits. Our former president -- Larry Summers stepped down this month -- proposed a brazen plan when he first came on board. We were to build a great big new campus across the Charles River in Allston. He announced plans, hired architects and contractors, and plotted out a vigorous capital campaign to pay for it all.

Then, of course, he stuck his foot in his mouth. He made some really pig-headed comments about women in science in front of a group of, well, women in science. Then he publicly humiliated and abraded a very popular African American studies professor, befriended a corrupt economist, and cheesed off a host of egotistical but clout-ful professors.

The big result of all this, of course, was his resignation. But nearly overlooked and yet far more important in my opinion is this: he never launched the capital campaign to pay for Allston construction. And now the bills are rolling in.

Big deal, right? Billions in the bank, right? Barely scratch the endowment. Heck, Harvard's been making double-digit returns on its investments for the past 10 years! Won't notice a thing.

I'm not so sure.

I think that Harvard might be seriously strapped for cash. I think that the endowment is very heavily invested in long term payouts and, more importantly, equity trusts. Liquidating the long term stuff now wouldn't cover the cost of the initial investment. And equity trust are fictional money stores -- listed as capital but really based on the continued investments of confident investors. So long as they keep investing, that is.

I also suspect that the people who know the true state of Harvard's finances -- their top-ranked in house investors -- are getting paid exorbitant bonuses (often over $10 million a year per fund manager) not to reward their investing skills but to purchase their silence. Why else would these folks, on their departure, be granted significant Harvard investments in order to set up and maintain their own investment firms?

Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Coming soon to "Battle Bots"

Ideas Nicky has for fighting robots.

The Pointy Thing is my favorite.

(Sorry, they're backwards for purposes
of copyright protection.)

MC Hammer

I have some truly amazing neighbors
here at Blogspot.

Case in point: MC Hammer

Even if you've never cared for his
music, you must admit that the man
has style, class, and a spot in
music history eternally reserved
in his name.

Man of faith, dedicated husband
and father, musical pioneer, and
great dancer: Here's to you,
Mr. Hammer!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The celebration of 2-wheeled oddities

The celebration of 2-wheeled oddities
Nifty info on scooters, scootering, and the scoot experience.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dr. Dan Egan, Proctologist

A man, a plan, an agenda --
D.N. Egan, anal Panama

(Okay, this isn't the best palindrome I've ever written.)

Ten times, fast

Founding Fathers Floundering,
Plymouth Pilgrims Plight:
Greenwich Glens Glowering,
Now Nantucket Natives Night.

Indulgence vs. Empowerment

What do you become
when you get all
you want?


What do you become
when you get all
you need?


By Nature Unaware

Divot in the rock
basin filled with rain
Splashes there a child
playing, unaware
Of a long-dead creature
that left its print


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Me, Myself and I

Me, Myself and I (I knew all three of them in college.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Lamont Education

From the Harvard Crimson:

I first visited Lamont as a freshman, but like most things I only appreciated it when it was about to be taken away from me. My access to information was only limited by the degree to which that information had been catalogued; if anyone had ever written it down, or even videotaped or recorded it, the Lamont librarians could help me find it.

I recently learned that access to the Harvard server disappears with graduation. That means no more JSTOR, no more Lexis-Nexis, and definitely no more 24-5 swipe access. I won’t have a huge sunny room of comfortable chairs and familiar faces in which to exercise that access. Nor will I have a basement full of Xerox machines, a reference room full of printers, and a whole room devoted to pleasure reading—in which no laptops are allowed.

According to its website, Lamont Library is the brainchild of Keyes D. Metcalf, Harvard’s top librarian until 1955. But Lamont also owes credit to the educational philosophy of Metcalf’s time, embodied by the famous “Red Book” of 1943. Written by a group of faculty led by Provost Paul H. Buck and President James B. Conant ’13, the “Red Book” declared the high purpose of a 20th Century undergraduate education: Harvard must not just teach skills but also civic character, moral temerity, and—above all—an undying commitment to finding truth and supporting fellow men.

Six years later, Buck spoke at Lamont’s grand opening. “Harvard, like the world at large,” Buck said, “has been a battle-ground between good and evil. Our better selves have cherished freedom...and have sought its advancement.” Lamont Library was not just one arm of a research institution, it was one arm of a greater mission: the search for truth, and the commitment to building a better world.

I have been an inheritor of this vision, though I did not initially want to be. When I was forced by my concentration to endure a session with a reference librarian, I grumbled, but I could not protest.

I worry that future students might not undergo the same pressure.

“We must distinguish,” reads the Red Book, “between liberalism in education and education in liberalism.” Conant favored the second; before they could fully exercise their freedom, he reasoned, students needed to be taught how to be free.

Today’s Harvard emphasizes the former; just as the curricular review aims to “open new opportunities for student choice” in the courses they take, the administration overseeing student life seems motivated mostly by a desire to satisfy student demands, not by a desire to fulfill one vision of what a college should be.

Thus curricula and libraries alike are built not to satisfy a broad philosophy or purpose, but to meet specific student demands. Sometimes the strategy has worked; student and faculty activists often do want what is best for them. The renovation of Lamont, unfortunately, might reveal the strategy’s flaws.

The café that will be built in the library this summer certainly has made students happy—who doesn’t want access to cheap coffee after Dunkin’ Donuts closes?—but will it really make them stronger? Will it really contribute to Lamont’s mission?

In its ideal form, the café would. It would provide nourishment, and it would also provide a place for discussion, a place to find truth. But the café as it is being implemented seems only to serve an immediate demand.

For one thing, the café will be built in the same place that first brought me into contact with all the best parts of Lamont: the reference room, replacing the people who are the very core of Lamont’s resources. Moreover, reports of the Lamont renovation committee suggest that the reference desk will move to the third-floor stacks. Where, then, will we put the students who study there? And how will the main reading room preserve any quiet?

Social space is important, but so is learning. Put the Undergraduate Council in full control of the direction of Harvard College, and we risk getting an education that is like one extended senior week—an education that forgets that if one’s peers really are the best part of a Harvard experience, that is as much a result of the qualities Harvard has brought out in them as it is a result of their inner strengths.

Three years ago, I did not want to pick the reference room over a nice long nap, or a nice long chat over coffee. But three years later, I am glad somebody forced me to do it. And I can’t be sure, but I bet I am a more interesting friend—and maybe even a better dance partner—because of it.

Elizabeth W. Green ’06

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another MS cheap shot

from Edupage, May 31, 2006:


Microsoft is set to begin offering its OneCare security service, a single package that includes antivirus, antispyware, and firewall protections. Announced nearly three years ago, the OneCare service includes advice on how to avoid computer threats and tools to help users recover from security incidents that can occur. According to Microsoft, as many as 70 percent of personal computers are either unprotected or use outdated tools to protect themselves from computer threats. Symantec and McAfee, two leading vendors of security products, are reportedly working on new products that integrate several kinds of computer protection into a single package, as OneCare does. Microsoft said it will not build OneCare into its Windows operating system.
BBC, 31 May 2006

In similar news, White Star Cruise Lines announce their plans to rebuilt the Titanic and wolves are rumoured to be investing in sheep farming.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Action Boy!

(Actually, we usually call him Kinetic Boy at home.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gilly typing

Mom's just there to hold her steady and help with spelling.

Monday, May 22, 2006


We're all sick here at home.

It's some sort of virus, but in the days of the "pending pandemic" that's no big deal.

It was early on, when Gilly started barking like a seal, that things got a little interesting. (Note: Everyone is fine. Don't let the crack about pandemics throw you.)

A phone call to the doctor and a prescription to prednizone later, and we find out that she's got "the croup." 'Scuse me? Isn't that a devise to get horses to move faster? A house for chickens? Perhaps an illness concurrent with "the vapors" or "the scarlet pimpernel"?

Nope, despite the archaic name, the croup is an inflammation of the throat just above the vocal chords. So she got a small dose of steroids, lots of steam, and she's doing much better now.

Hey, I wonder if the steroids will help her homerun average. Lord knows it's done wonders for Barry Bonds.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Floating Yankee

Massachusetts floods
Bad rains and panic ensues
New Orleans just laughs


If you could be reincarnated as any inanimate object, what would you choose?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cutie Cooking Show

Thirty Minute Meals
Smiling, scurrying, cooking
Rachael Ray is cute


Nicky enjoys warping the space/time continuum before school.


If Harry is within 50' of a train, he's a happy boy.


This is me and my sweetie, Gillian Sophia Ide, born July 2005.

And no, I'm not eating her. I'm blowing raspberries.

New site!

Hi, all.

I've recreated Webbed Legions! I thought maybe it was time to move away from Harvard's Web space. Although they've been wonderful, it's time to move on. More on "why" later.

-- Ben