Saturday, February 27, 2016

HARVARD: House "Masters" Now "Faculty Deans"

How now, fair Juliet? Is't but the name?
Or would this worm dig just as deep,
Its colors tamed? Yet sticks the shame,
Your kin shall hate. For thee–I weep. 
Harvard has stopped calling heads of houses "masters" because of the association of the word with the master-slave relationship.

They will now be called "faculty deans".
The Harvard Crimson on December 2 last year reported that a new name for house masters was in the offing:
Administrators now must choose a title to replace the term “master.” Princeton recently renamed its residential college master position to “head of the college”[...]
The masters of Harvard's Mather House on their website recently asked their students to call them by a different name, "chief executive officers" or CEOs.  The Crimson says:
That descriptor has since been removed from the site, but in an email [the House CEO] affirmed his discomfort with the “master” title. He has dropped the term from his position while waiting to form “a consensus for a new inclusive title,” he said. “I understand the important historical roots of the title ‘Master’ at Oxford and Harvard, but I am sensitive to the context of the Houses today, and the issues of race which for many years have made me uncomfortable with the title,” [he] wrote, adding that the alternative title of CEO “at least describes part of our job” but “is probably incomplete and leaves out the emphasis of creating a safe and supportive community."
Through a medium I contacted C. P. Snow about renaming his book, The Masters. He begged me to urge his publishers, if they ever do a new edition, not to rename his book. "Tell them," he said to me earnestly, "'Enough is enough'." Then his wispy spirit was sucked back into the mist of eternity.

Friday, February 26, 2016

OXFORD-CAMBRIDGE: Blog Has 110K Pageviews

This blog just passed 110,000 Pageviews.

Thank you for reading.

Here are two analytics for you.

First, the geographic sources of readers over the life of this blog:

United States 74,601
United Kingdom 13,826
Russia 2,359
France 2,312
Ukraine 1,648
Germany 1,575
Canada 955
China 675
South Korea 601
India 513

Second, the 10 most-read posts during the past month (February 2016).

WW2: Why Wasn't Oxford Bombed? (Updated Feb. 8, 20...
Jun 8, 2013
FREE SPEECH: Bullying by the Left (PS: Yale)
Feb 6, 2016
BOAT RACE: 83rd NYC Dinner Tickets on Sale
Feb 16, 2016
HERALDRY: Oxford Stars (Updated Dec. 17, 2015)
Nov 21, 2014
HERALDRY: Douglas, Moray and de Vere Arms (Updated...
Nov 23, 2014
RHODES: Oriel to Keep Statue
Jan 30, 2016
OXFORD UNIV PRESS: Feb. 1–OED First Section Out
Feb 1, 2016
BIRTH: Feb. 13–Anna Watkins, Cambridge Rower
Feb 12, 2016
RELIGION: Oxford v. Cambridge (Updated Dec. 6, 201...
Jun 24, 2014
BIRTH: Feb. 21–W. H. Auden (Christ Church)
Feb 21, 2016


Tickets for the 83rd Annual New York City Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner 
on April 12 are now available. 

Tickets are $200 each
Young alumni tickets (matriculants since 2009) $150.

The Oxford website announcement is here. 

Or go direct to the Cambridge site to register.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Downtown Association
60 Pine Street
New York, NY

Cocktails at 6:30  p.m., Dinner at 7:30 p.m.
Dress code is black tie or boat club blazer 

$150 young alumni ticket (matric. 2009-2016)
$200 standard ticket
$2,500 College table sponsorship, 10 seats at a table

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Dinner Committee of New York City
Hervé Gouraige (Chairman), Merton College, Oxford
Stephen Dudek, St Edmunds College, Cambridge
Sally Fan, Green Templeton College, Oxford
Seth Lesser, Magdalen College, Oxford
Cassie Llewellyn-Smith, Pembroke College, Cambridge
John Tepper Marlin, Trinity College, Oxford
Dhaval J. Patel, St Hugh's College, Oxford
Peter Sealy, Pembroke College, Cambridge

For other dinners and other events go here.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

BIRTH: Feb. 21–W. H. Auden (Christ Church)

W. H. Auden 1907-1973
This day in 1907, in York, England was born poet and playwright W[ynstan] H[ugh] Auden, son of a physician and a nurse. As a child, he read voraciously, especially poetry.

He liked the poems of William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Gerald Manley Hopkins, William Wordsworth and William Blake. He moved with his family to Birmingham during his childhood.

He was awarded a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford to read biology but switched to English literature, where he befriended a group of young poets who became well known. His closest friends were Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood; the group included Cecil Day-Lewis and Louis MacNeice.

After Oxford, he worked as a tutor, a lecturer, a freelance reviewer, and as a schoolmaster for a boys school. He established himself as poet when T.S. Eliot, an editor at Faber and Faber, published Auden's collected Poems in 1930. A different collection with the same name had been privately printed two years earlier. The new book sold well. With Louis MacNeice, he co-wrote a travelogue book, Letters from Iceland (1937).

Auden has been admired for his unsurpassed technical skills as a poet. He has written in almost every form of verse.  He drew from an extraordinary variety of literatures, theories and information. His book The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue was published in 1947 and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry the following year.

He often mimicked the writing styles of other poets such as Wordsworth, Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, and Henry James. His travels provided rich material for his journey-oriented verse. He visited Germany, Iceland, and China, served in the Spanish Civil war. After he left Spain, Auden sailed with his lover, writer Christopher Isherwood, for America, where he stayed until 1972. He became a U.S. citizen in May 1946. Isherwood and Auden parted ways when Auden met Chester Kalman.

The arc of his life's interest was from ardent socialism and psychoanalysis in England to a preoccupation with  Protestant theology in the United States.

Often described as the greatest English poet of the twentieth century, his work has had a huge influence on other poets. He served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1954 to  the year of his death. He spent most of the second half of his life in New York City and Austria.

I met him at an event at Quincy House, Harvard College in about 1960.

He and Edna St. Vincent Millay have been identified as the only two English poets in the 20th century to have made a living out of their poetry.

He died in Vienna on September 29, 1973.


After going to Spain to drive an ambulance for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War, he was  diverted into radio broadcasting to generate propaganda. Auden decided that writers were not well equipped to fire up the masses:
Writers seldom make good leaders. They're self-employed, for one thing, and they have very little contact with their customers.
He enjoyed the freedoms of American life, especially during the 1960s, when he experimented with drugs. He tried LSD once and said,
Nothing much happened, but I did get the distinct impression that some birds were trying to communicate with me.
About poetry, he said:
A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
It's a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.
Other Oxford Birthdays.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

BOAT RACE: 83rd NYC Dinner Tickets on Sale

The Boat Race.  Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge.
This is the web site for tickets for the 83rd Annual New York City Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner on April 12, 2016. 

The Oxford website announcement is here. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Downtown Association
60 Pine Street
New York, NY

Cocktails at 6:30  p.m., Dinner at 7:30 p.m.
Dress code is black tie or boat club blazer 

$150 young alumni ticket (matric. 2009-2016)
$200 standard ticket
$2,500 College table sponsorship, 10 seats at a table

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Dinner Committee of New York City
Hervé Gouraige (Chairman), Merton College, Oxford
Stephen Dudek, St Edmunds College, Cambridge
Sally Fan, Green Templeton College, Oxford
Seth Lesser, Magdalen College, Oxford
Cassie Llewellyn-Smith, Pembroke College, Cambridge
John Tepper Marlin, Trinity College, Oxford
Dhaval J. Patel, St Hugh's College, Oxford
Peter Sealy, Pembroke College, Cambridge 

For other events go hereOther boating posts: Head of the Charles 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

OXONIAN: John Micklethwait of Bloomberg News

John Micklethwait
John Micklethwait was featured in The NY Times print edition today (yesterday online) as Editor in Chief of Bloomberg News. He has been in his job now for more than a year, having spanned Michael Bloomberg's 73rd and 74th birthdays.
Mr. Micklethwait was educated at Ampleforth College, an upscale English boarding school, and subsequently at the University of Oxford. He worked for Chase Manhattan Bank before switching to journalism and joining The Economist in 1987. By 2006, he was editing The Economist, famed for lively and collegial discussions at its weekly meetings – discussions that form the basis for some of its distinctive articles. If the World Economic Forum, held each year in Davos, Switzerland, decided to elect a mayor, the highly connected Mr. Micklethwait might be considered.
Micklethwait was born August 11, 1962, in London, England. At Oxford he read history at Magdalen College.

The story in The NY Times focused on the issues faced by Bloomberg News' Editor in Chief in covering the principal owner of his news medium, Michael Bloomberg, should Bloomberg decide to be a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Oxford Birthdays

Friday, February 12, 2016

BIRTH: Feb. 13–Anna Watkins, Cambridge Rower

Cantab Anna Rose Watkins, MBE, Gold Medalist,
Double Sculls, 2012 Olympics
This day in 1983 in Leek, Staffordshire, England was born Anna Rose Watkins MBE, a world champion in double-sculls rowing.

Her rowing career shows the importance of college-level rowing as a way into the sport for those who didn't participate before the university level.

This is a sport I participated in at Oxford–without no such stellar collegiate record. My  post-collegiate rowing was limited to leisure and alumni-fun events but my late friend Peter Darrow rowed seriously long after he took his degree at Oxford.

Watkins went from college rowing at Cambridge to a gold medal in the double sculls in the Olympics (London, 2012). Watkins with Katherine Grainger broke the Olympic record in the semi-final.

At the prior (2008) Olympics she won a bronze in the same sport and won four medals in the World Championships, most recently defending her world title with Katherine Grainger, in Bled, Slovenia in 2011.

Watkins attended Westwood College and read Natural Sciences at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she started rowing in 2001. Watkins rowed with Newnham College Boat Club and was captain of lower boats and then secretary for the club. She represents Leander Club in rowing events. At Cambridge, her college crew were Head of the Cam in 2003 before she moved onto the World Class Start talent identification program run by UK Sport based at Rob Roy Boat Club.

She is currently working for a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Reading. In September 2009 she married Oliver Watkins, a part-time rowing coach, who when they met was working for a Ph.D. in engineering at Cambridge. The couple live in Wokingham, where Oliver works for the McLaren Formula One team as a suspension specialist. Anna has given birth to two boys–William James in 2013 and Richard Dexter in 2015.

In 2010 Watkins with Katherine Grainger had an unbeaten season culminating in their victory at the World Championships in New Zealand. They were named World Rowing Female Crew of the year and also the Sunday Times Women's Sports Team of the year for 2010.

Watkins was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to rowing.

Rowing Awards

Olympic Games
2012 London – Gold, Women's Double Sculls
2008 Beijing – Bronze, Women's Double Sculls
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials
2012 – 2nd, Single Scull
2011 – 1st, Single Scull
World Rowing Championships
2011 Bled – Gold, Double Scull
2010 Lake Karapiro – Gold, Double Scull
2009 Poznań – Silver, Double Scull
2007 Munich – Bronze, Double Scull
2006 Dorney Lake – 4th, Double Scull
2005 Gifu – 5th, Eight World Rowing
Under 23 Championships
2005 – Bronze, Coxless Pair
2004 – Gold, Coulees Four

Other Birthdays (Oxonians Mostly)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

FREE SPEECH: Bullying by the Left (PS: Yale)

Nat Hentoff
Feb. 6, 2016–The trashing of Cecil Rhodes by anti-racism activists is their right so long as it is limited to speech. Once it gets into bullying and unwillingness to allow other points of view, and especially when it comes to a proposal for removing historic monuments (as in the case of Oriel College, Oxford), where full expression of alternative views is essential, we need to be alert to the value of freedom of speech on both sides.

Belief that we have the moral high ground has always been the motivation for suppressing alternative views. But what we may be on is not the high ground but our high horse.

Restricting free speech is unconstitutional in the United States under the First Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights inherited in a chain that starts with the Magna Carta, whose 800th birthday we celebrated last year. Among Magna Carta’s more important provisions are its requirement that proceedings and prosecutions be according to “the law of the land”–the forerunner of “due process of law”–Article 39 of the Magna Carta–and a ban on the sale or delay of justice. Cromwell's Parliament in 1628 adopted the Petition of Right in response to some of Charles I's actions, condemning unlawful imprisonments and taxation “without common consent of parliament.” The year after William III of Orange was brought in to rule Britain in 1688, Parliament adopted the Bill of Rights, which includes some of the American Amendments such as the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive bail and fines and on cruel and unusual punishment.

There is no law restricting free speech because Congress is forbidden in the First Amendment from passing one:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It may be more convincing to activists when someone who has long been on their side on the issues makes the free speech case. Here is an appeal from Nat Hentoff and his son Nick a few months ago (November 17, 2015), calling for a cooling off of U.S. campus activists. Nat Hentoff is an authority on the American Constitution's Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment. U.S. laws seem more permissive of free speech than British laws, for example on the boundaries of libel, but the same moral philosophy underlies both.
Public shaming on campus: Out of control, Nat and Nick Hentoff
Hostility to the exercise of free speech on American college campuses is nothing new. But what happened at Yale University, the University of Missouri and other colleges over the past two weeks is something new and frightening. The suppression of speech in academia has begun to spiral out of control.
Nicholas Christakis is a professor at Yale who lives with his wife in a student residence hall on campus. An internationally renowned physician and sociologist, Dr. Christakis was surrounded by dozens of angry students who showered him with curses and threats. Dr. Christakis’ offense? He refused to publicly apologize for his wife’s email that defended free speech and urged tolerance of offensive Halloween costumes. [See Postscript below.]
Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was on the Yale campus to attend a free-speech symposium and witnessed the incident. In the video Lukianoff posted on FIRE’s website, Christakis appears on the verge of being physically assaulted.
“Nicholas addressed the crowd for more than an hour, even after it became clear that nothing short of begging for forgiveness would satisfy them,” Lukianoff wrote in the Washington Post. “I’ve witnessed some intense campus disputes during my 14 years fighting for free speech, but nothing like this.”
The next evening – at a William F. Buckley Jr. Program conference on free speech that had been planned months in advance – Greg Lukianoff’s speech was interrupted by a student who rushed the podium, shouting, before he was dragged out of the building by campus police. Attendees then braved a gauntlet of angry Yale students who cursed and ridiculed them. The Yale Daily News reported that “several attendees were spat on as they left.”
At the University of Missouri, a student photographer freelancing for ESPN was confronted by a mob of angry anti-racism protesters who tried to eject him from the public commons area where they had gathered. After he refused to leave, the students begin a coordinated effort to both psychologically and physically intimidate the reporter into leaving.
The protesters subjected him to intense ridicule, sometimes chanting in unison, as they gradually forced him backwards. They then began to falsely accuse the reporter of the very conduct they themselves were directing against him.
MU’s student body vice president later tried to justify the students’ self-imposed restrictions on the press during an interview on MSNBC. She suggested that the First Amendment “creates a hostile and unsafe learning environment.”
Later that same week, a Christian street preacher, speaking within the campus “free speech circle,” was physically assaulted and had his microphone appropriated by an anti-racism protester.
At Amherst College, a student group called Amherst Uprising issued a list of demands to administrators that included individual public apologies for what they claimed was a hostile environment of ethnocentric racism on campus. The list also included a demand for a written statement from administrators acknowledging that students who distribute leaflets defending free-speech rights are subject to disciplinary action for being “racially insensitive,” and that any students disciplined for such an offense must “attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.”
At Cornell, a well-meaning white student was forced to issue a public apology after he scheduled his own anti-racism protest without first getting the approval of the Black Student Union. He was accused, in multiple social media posts, of mocking the efforts of the BSU.
One commentator put him on notice that “if you are to be in (sic) ally, you have to acknowledge what you’ve done to hurt us.” Within hours of scheduling the event, the offending student canceled the protest and issued a public apology thanking his critics “for calling me out on my ignorance.”
These are not isolated incidents, but represent the organized adoption of mass public shaming tactics. Mass public shaming – traditionally used by autocratic regimes to silence their critics – is a particularly insidious form of censorship. It is designed to chill future speech by humiliating the speaker. Psychological manipulation and intimidation are used to impose forced speech as a means of social control.
Universities in the United States should not tolerate or appease such public shaming techniques. In his March 20, 2015, New York Times op-ed, “China’s Tradition of Public Shaming Thrives,” author Murong Xuecun writes that “cases of public shaming show us how in the name of some great cause, individual rights, dignity and privacy can all be sacrificed.”
President Obama recently offered some advice to students and faculty who feel that the First Amendment creates a hostile and unsafe learning environment.
“You don’t have to be fearful of somebody spouting bad ideas.” Obama said during an interview last Sunday on ABC News. “Just out-argue them. Beat ’em. Make the case as to why they’re wrong. Win over adherents. That’s how things work in a democracy."
Postscript on the Yale Halloween Incident

Feb. 7, 2016–I posted the above yesterday. This morning The New York Times has a story on the Yale Halloween incident. It is described as a turning point–since then, public shaming has being redirected at student activists who in the interest of their causes are violating the higher value of free speech. In the new world where alumni are being asked to make up the shortfall in government funding of higher education, they may also have some influence on campus priorities.

Monday, February 1, 2016

OXFORD UNIV PRESS: Feb. 1–OED First Section Out

OED Second Edition, 20 volumes, 59 million words.
This day in 1884 in London and Oxford, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was born. The following is from This Day in History, with minor edits:

Considered the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary of the English language, the OEDs first portion of fascicle was published on this day.

Today, the OED is the definitive authority on the meaning, pronunciation and history of more than half a million words, past and present.

Plans for the dictionary began in 1857 when members of London’s Philological Society, who believed there were no up-to-date, error-free English dictionaries available, decided to produce one that would cover all vocabulary from the Anglo-Saxon period (1150 A.D.) to the present. Conceived of as a four-volume, 6,400-page work, it was estimated the project would take 10 years to finish.

In fact, it took more than four times as long until the 125th and final fascicle was published in April 1928 and the full dictionary was complete–at more than 400,000 words and phrases in 10 volumes–and published under the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles.

Unlike most English dictionaries, which only list present-day common meanings, the OED provides a detailed chronological history for every word and phrase, citing quotations from a wide range of sources, including classic literature and cookbooks. The OED is famous for its lengthy cross-references and etymologies. The verb “set” merits the OED’s longest entry, at approximately 60,000 words and detailing over 430 uses.

No sooner was the OED finished than editors began updating it. A supplement, containing new entries and revisions, was published in 1933 and the original dictionary was reprinted in 12 volumes and officially renamed the Oxford English Dictionary.

Between 1972 and 1986, an updated 4-volume supplement was published, with new terms from the continually evolving English language plus more words and phrases from North America, Australia, the Caribbean, New Zealand, South Africa and South Asia.

In 1984, Oxford University Press embarked on a five-year, multi-million-dollar project to create an electronic version of the dictionary.  The effort required 120 people just to type the pages from the print edition and 50 proofreaders to check their work. In 1992, a CD-ROM version of the dictionary was released, making it much easier to search and retrieve information.

Today, the dictionary’s second edition is available online to subscribers and is updated quarterly with more than 1,000 new entries and revisions. At a whopping 20 volumes weighing over 137 pounds, it would reportedly take one person 120 years to type all 59 million words in the OED.