“Magical” Professor Albert Mavrinac Dies

July 31, 2006

Albert Mavrinac, who was the chair of the government department at Colby from 1958 to 1982, died last Thursday at Thayer Hospital in Waterville.

“Of all the teachers I ever had, he was by far the best,” [Doris Kearns] Goodwin said in a phone interview last night. “He had this magical way of teaching that made us feel that if we could truly understand what he was saying — he was always a step beyond us — you would understand truth and justice.”

Read the Boston Globe article: Albert Mavrinac, 83; professor inspired students for 3 decades


Assistant Professor Adrian Blevins in Head-to-Head, Online, Poetry “Smack-Down”

July 27, 2006

If you like poetry, but feel that it would be more exciting as a competitive sport, then QuickMuse is the site for you.

The concept: take two accomplished poets, give them a random topic, give them 15 minutes to write an on-the-fly composition, then sit back and watch them “riff away,” as the site puts it. In a live write-off, the two poets compose their works directly into the Web site where observers can watch poems unfold, keystroke-by-keystroke, as the author ponders, writes, deletes, contemplates, rewrites, and moves on. Don’t worry if you can’t make the live performance, however. QuickMuse’s very cool “playback” feature allows you to replay the evolution of each poem.

“QuickMuse is a cutting contest, a linguistic jam session, a series of on-the-fly compositions in which some great poets riff away on a randomly picked subject. It’s an experiment, QuickMuse, to see if first thoughts are indeed the best ones. We’re not entirely sure about this, but we suspect QuickMuse will bring readers closer to the moment of composition than they have ever been before.”

On July 25, Colby College Assistant Professor Adrian Blevins was one of those poets. She was matched up against award-winning poet David Rivard. The topic: a poem from Bill Knott entitled, “Advice from the Experts.”

Read, playback, and discuss the resulting poems: Adrian Blevins v. David Rivard.

Read more about professor Blevins: Making Noise, an article from Colby magazine

[via Quickmuse]

Stopping to See Skowhegan

July 25, 2006

Blogger JenoftheNorth stopped by the Colby College Museum of Art to see the “Skowhegan School of Paining and Sculpture: 60 Years” show, and is glad she did.

“i also really liked the ben shahn piece–i think it was called music lesson–and the jacob lawrence hiroshima series. wow. i never knew he taught there either.

anyway, the show overall was meaty enough and well worth the stop…”

Read the post: jen of the north: “skowhegan school of painting & sculpture–60 years”

Osaka University Professor “Robots In” to Class

July 24, 2006

Forget the high price of gas, rush hour traffic, and finding a parking space. Hiroshi Ishiguro, head of Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, can “robo-commute” to work. He has created a humanoid version of himself that he can control and speak through remotely.

“Everyone, thank you so much for coming today,” it says in polite but languid Japanese at an ATR demo Thursday, its lips moving to the sound. The voice is Ishiguro’s, broadcast through a speaker inside his android double.

Ishisguro also wants to see if the android can convey, through its complex micromovements and life-like appearance, a sense of human presence. In addition to being a technical experiment, the robot is also an experiment on human nature.

But why bother to build robots that look like humans? Ishiguro views machines as good vehicles to learn more about human nature. He combines engineering with cognitive science with the aim of making very humanlike robots, which can be used as test beds for theories about human perception, communication and cognition. He calls his approach “android science.”

Read the article: Meet the Remote-Control Self
[viaWired News]

An Interview with Oklahoma State Senate Candidate Andrew Rice ’96

July 19, 2006

The Yellin Report, a daily political ‘zine, is doing a series of interviews with young political candidates, and the first in the series is with Andrew Rice ’96, a democratic candidate for the Oklahoma State Senate.

In response to a question about where and when he got involved in politics, Rice responded, “I first became in involved in politics through activism in college. I was very active in a group that was concerned with financial aid issues at our college, which was Colby College in Maine.” Rice goes on to say, “I was in college during the Clinton years, so there was some apathy that came with the prosperity and peace time.”

“My decision to run [for office] was very personal. I left grad school and made a documentary and moved to New York to work on documentaries. My sister Amy already lived there, and about a year after I moved there my older brother David moved there from Chicago. David was transferred there by his investment firm and they had an office in the World Trade Center. He was killed on Sept. 11th, he worked in the North Tower.”

Read the Colby magazine article about Andrew Rice’s post 9/11 experience: From the Ashes
Read the complete The Yellin Report interview: Interviews With Young Candidates – Andrew Rice, Oklahoma

Government Monitoring of College Students: A Follow-up

July 17, 2006

Sean Blanda, of the College V2 blog, has posted a follow-up to his post about the government monitoring of college student emails (which I wrote about here). He has attained a copy of the Department of Defense report on the contents of college students’ emails. It is, at the same time, an entertaining and frustrating read.

“The e-mails are trivial, with not the hint of any violent action. The most dramatic action any student e-mail mentioned was a ‘food not bombs’ demonstration complete with a drum circle.”

Read Sean’s post: College V2 – tips, tricks, and advice for college students.

Government Professor Sandy Maisel in the New York Times

July 17, 2006

For an article about new House majority leader John A. Boehner, the New York Times sought wisdom from Colby College professor and director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College, L. Sandy Maisel. The article focuses on Boehner’s progress (or lack thereof)  in bringing about ethics reform in the way Congress interacts with lobbyists.

“The Republican Party needed somebody to say they were a reform candidate, so he said it,” said L. Sandy Maisel, a professor of government and director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College. “But in reality, he’s carrying on in the tradition not just of DeLay, but past Democratic and Republican leaders alike.”

Read the Times article: New House Majority Leader Keeps Old Ties to Lobbyists – New York Times