Jacobson on Trump's Visit to Europe

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 4:39 PM

As President Trump arrived in Brussels, CBSN spoke with Mark Jacobson, John J. McCloy '16 Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy, for perspective. He spoke about Trump putting pressure on his fellow NATO partners, and their worries about his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hopes and Fears for Kavanaugh: Douglas

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 4:37 PM

Could Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court be everything that progressives fear and Trump desires? Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought explored the nuances of the situation for an editorial in The Guardian:

“While it is true that Kavanaugh published an article nearly a decade ago arguing that presidents should be exempt from ‘time-consuming and distracting’ lawsuits, he has likewise argued for dramatically narrowing the scope of executive privilege,” Douglas wrote. “Indeed, the very track record that makes Kavanaugh profoundly distasteful to Democrats – his years devoted to the impeachment of President Clinton – suggests that he might have limited tolerance for Trump’s efforts to denigrate and defeat constitutional processes.”

The Last of the Tiger Parents

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 4:35 PM

In “The Last of the Tiger Parents,” Ryan Park ’05 wrote in the New York Times about his decision to step away from “tiger parenting” adopted in traditional Asian families.

“The research shows that children tend to do best, across the board, when parents command loving respect, not fearful obedience — when they are both strict and supportive, directive and kindhearted,” he wrote. “The childhood I devise for my two young daughters will look nothing like mine. They will feel valued and supported. They will know home as a place of joy and fun. They will never wonder whether their father’s love is conditioned on an unblemished report card.”

“I’ve assumed this means my daughters might someday bring home grades or make life choices that my father would have regarded as failures. If so, I embrace the decline.”

The Quirky Comedy of Aparna Nancherla ’05E

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 3:57 PM

Aparna Nancherla ’05E “is unassuming, soft-spoken, reflective. Character traits that might not make it easy for one to rise in the testosterone-charged comedy world,” wrote the Washington Post in a recent profile of the comedian.

“But perhaps because of that, she caught audiences by surprise, offering up observations she’d been filing away throughout her lifetime of quietude,” the Post wrote, describing her success despite, or because of, her shyness:

“If you had told Ananth Nancherla that his painfully shy second daughter would some day make a living performing hilarious 30-minute monologues in front of hundreds of people, that she would star in her own television specials and have half a million online followers devouring her insights, he would have said, ‘Keep dreaming.’ A future in intergalactic space travel might have seemed more likely. Except . . . There were flashes. Not of humor, always, but persistence.”

“Fame is so weird. Any small inkling that I’ve gotten, I’m like, this is a nightmare,” Nancherla told Vulture in another profile.

Sarat on the Executioner's Fentanyl

Submitted on Thursday, 7/5/2018, at 4:35 PM

For an article on how the state of Nevada is trying out the painkiller fentanyl for use in state executions, Mother Jones turned to Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, to note the irony.

“[A]t the same time these state governments are trying to figure out how to stop so many from dying from opioids, they now want to turn and use them to deliberately kill someone,” he said.

Amherst Tops in Creative Writing, Says Chee

Submitted on Thursday, 7/5/2018, at 4:32 PM

Promoting his latest book How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, author Alexander Chee spoke with the Daily Hampshire Gazette about his days at Amherst College as a visiting writer between 2006 and 2010.

In particular, he told the Gazette that “Amherst College’s creative writing program and community remains the standard against which I’ve judged all others since.”

Chee elaborated, “Too often I think that people are made to feel like maybe they don’t belong in this or that conversation, and that was really not something that I felt when I was in Amherst. You could be at a reception for a particular writer, and maybe you’d be standing next to a junior who had just started getting into fiction writing classes, and some hot new novelist who just happened to be in town that night, and somebody who had retired from teaching maybe like two years ago and was around for the dinner and hanging out — and they would all be talking together … it’s a certain quality of openness that’s hard to explain, but when you experience it, you experience all of these possibilities inside of it.”

AC Press's Mark Edington on Peer Review Transparency

Submitted on Thursday, 7/5/2018, at 4:30 PM

“It is somewhat perplexing that a practice both central to our claim to distinctive authority as publishers, and implemented by all of us, does not have clearer, more public standards,” writes Mark Edington, director of the Amherst College Press and publisher of Lever Press, in a recent editorial for The Scholarly Kitchen discussing peer review.

Last year the Open Society Foundations awarded AC Press a $33,000 grant to host a conference on scholarly publishing, the first event of a group called  Peer Review Transparency, which issued a report in April recommending standards for peer review, and a system by which readers are notified of work that meets this standard.

Chimaway Lopez '20: Making The Case With Song

Submitted on Friday, 6/29/2018, at 9:37 AM

To protest cuts to the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s music programs, Chimaway Lopez ’20 chose not to simply speak to his hometown’s Board of Education, but sang instead.

The Santa Barbara Independent recently reported that Lopez, in a trio also made up of Santa Barbara High School students Ashley DeLepaña and Iyana Brown, stole the show at a board meeting with a rendition of Sam Cooke’s 1964 song, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

“We just wanted to show what a musical education means to us,” Lopez said.

Elliott Arkin '83 and the Ten-Foot Picasso

Submitted on Wednesday, 6/13/2018, at 4:03 PM

“If you walk or bike along the Brooklyn Greenway this month, you’ll probably see something very unexpected: a 10-foot-tall sculpture of Picasso mowing a lawn,” Artnet News recently reported, describing Elliott Arkin’s “cartoonish lawn gnome of the world’s most famous painter.” 

The sculpture is part of the 1983 Amherst graduate’s series of sculptures whimsically depicting famous artists as lawn gnomes.

“I used to say that if Picasso was around today he would have to mow lawns for a living,” he said. “The art world has changed that much.”

“Many of his works for the publication are ‘insider’s jokes’ about figures in the art world that wouldn’t be known by the general public,” writes the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Getting Inside Their Heads With Alex George

Submitted on Thursday, 6/7/2018, at 4:00 PM

On campus, Philosophy Professor Alexander George is known for getting inside our ideas —ethics, value, knowledge and other philosophical questions— but, as the Daily Hampshire Gazette recently discovered, he also gets inside our heads. You see, after hours he moonlights as a mentalist, or mind reader.

“I think I’ve learned more about how to put together a mentalism show from being a professor than anywhere,” George told the Gazette. “There’s a kind of performative element and interactive element to my day job that is intimately connected to mentalism.”

His ability to read people, he said, is based “90 percent on body reading and the rest on following a hunch … we don’t realize how much we give away through body language.”