Friday, June 29, 2007

The Presidential Past--Online

I was aware that for some time there has been access to recordings of presidential meetings going back to the Kennedy Administration (and earlier), but was not aware of what all was available online from the Miller Center of Public Affairs. Their Presidential Recordings Program has both audio and transcripts from the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administration. One interesting bit I saw is one of the first tape, where Kennedy discusses domestic politics in Brazil and whether to back a military coup if necessary (transcript; audio in mp3; big file and audio has a lot of background hiss). Really interesting look back into the not-so distant past.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bitty Blog Break

No post to speak of for today or tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm off to Bellevue to present at their Advanced Placement workshop on teaching high school Advanced Placement comparative politics. A big conference for all AP teachers in all disciplines, where teachers from all over the country come together for one week to work on teaching their AP subjects. I always enjoy hearing about how comparative politics is being taught at the high school level, and I tell them about how I teach my own course. If you're interested, you can find more here. I'm always amazed at how big AP has become nationally and even internationally.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Streamy Affairs

Universities are embracing streaming video--for classes, for recruiting, for athletic events, all sorts of applications. Wave of the future or a fad? Read more about it here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Laurel Bandy '07: Off to London

Back in April I blogged that Laurel Bandy '07 was a finalist for the Mountbatten Internship, "a carefully designed 12 month training program that provides an opportunity to learn about British and International business techniques, and to experience the rich cultural diversity of London. Successful completion of the Programme leads to the Certificate in International Business Practice". After a successful interview in SF she has been accepted into the program and writes:

I hope this e-mail finds you enjoying your summer! I have some good news to share- I have just accepted a position through Mountbatten with Thomas Miller & Co ltd. in London. I'll be a Risk Management Project Assistant with the TT Club, which is a division that deals exclusively with marine transportation and commerce. I'm pretty excited, so something for you to blog! I'll be off August 20th. I'll keep you posted as I get more details!

Let's have more of our students do this internship. See me in the fall if you're interested.


Friday, June 22, 2007

NYT on Salishan

A piece in the New York Times on Salishan, a public housing complex in Tacoma recently torn down and rebuilt as a mixture of market priced housing and subsidized apartments. It's been a pretty dramatic recreation of this area, and there's more to come.

Hat tip: Exit133 forum.

Musings in Thailand is Back in Action

Ashley Mills '05, currently on Peace Corps in Thailand, started--then stopped--a blog on her life there. A tough assignment, what with military coups and all. Ashley's restarted her blog, and leads off with a nice discussion of the differences between Americans' sense of space and privacy in comparison to Thais. Worth reading; find it at

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rank us not

A number of schools are balking at further participation in the US News and World Report college guides, arguing that it is not a valid survey of school quality. Read the article here; I haven't seen anything to indicate that UPS will follow their lead. Of course, the catch is that there isn't any comparable alternative.

Or rather, there is, but there's no public access to it. The National Survey of Student Engagement has been done for a number of years, asking students to assess such things as the level of academic challenge, interaction with faculty members, and the like. The surveys provide benchmarks against which colleges can compare themselves, but most schools do not share their own data on how their school stacks up against the average. This would be an easy way, it would seem, to bring an end to the US News rankings, but it would require schools to "expose" themselves to the public and each other, finding out where they fell--not a risk most schools want to take, and one that would be difficult to get a majority of schools to agree to at the same time.

To see how one school has posted their data, check out Elon College's NSSE overview here. And here's an older article about the sensitivity of the NSSE information. And US News has started posting NSSE data from those schools that would share it; find it here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Your Tacoma Pictures for the Day

Ruston Way. Bollards along the Dickman Mill site have a poem to describe the place.






I like this old foundation of the sawdust burner because it seems like an ancient ruin.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Update: Torey Holderith '09 Internship, US Merchant Marine Academy

This email and pictures came my way. As Torey mentions at the end of the email, we are working to institutionalize this internship so that we'd have it available every year. If you're interested in what you hear, let me know and come see me in the fall.

Professor O'Neil:

I hope the semester ended well for you, and I apologize for not having written sooner. From the time my flight touched down in New York on Memorial Day the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA, or Kings Point) has treated me excellently and has easily surpassed my expectations.

It took me about a week to actually semi-fully understand Kings Point. Although Kings Point is a federal service academy and requires a senators nomination just as the other four federal academies do, it is the only one not operated by the Department of Defense. The United States Merchant Marine Academy is instead operated by the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD), which is of course a division of the Department of Transportation. At the same time though academy graduates have the option of becoming commissioned as officers in any of the branches of the military. The service obligation upon graduation is seven years in a military reserve service (most choose Navy as you may imagine), but it is also serving five years in the United States maritime industry. Despite MARAD technically operating the academy it is very much a federal service academy as Midshipmen are required to be in military style uniform throughout the day. Even when not in uniform they have matching workout and casual apparel (It makes fitting in rather difficult as you may imagine).

The reason I explain of all of this is because it makes Kings Point unique, as it is an environment in which Federal Bureaucracy, Military, and Academia meet with a unique result. The campus itself is located on Long Island, in a region once known as the "Gold Coast."

Building I work in-1

The building I work in was once Walter Chrysler's summer vacation home before it was purchased by the federal government in 1942. It is supposedly the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

View outside my office
The view outside of Torey's office--not bad.

As for actual responsibilities, in addition to learning a great deal about the Maritime industry (a vastly overlooked industry), and learning a great deal of acronyms for various federal institutions, I am primarily assisting the Public Affairs office in planning both Graduation and Indoctrination in July. I am currently primarily managing the VIP list for this Monday's graduation. As you know this year's speaker is Senator John McCain, and in attendance will be approximately 200 VIPs including the Secretary of Transportation, Generals and Admirals from all of the branches of the armed services. My experience here has given me not only an impression of logistics and planning for large events, but also (and more importantly in my mind) has shown me a great deal of how to conduct oneself in an environment with a heavy military influence. In just several weeks I have realized just how special Kings Point is.

Statue of Liberty from Yacht-1

I saw New York City for the first time aboard a 78 foot custom built Yacht with two Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force. Like a true Politics major I found myself nervous and giddy to be able to talk on a personal level with high ranking government officials for even just 15 minutes. The cruise was made possible by Secretary Billings '77, who I am looking forward to seeing this weekend at graduation as he was unable to make the yacht cruise around the Statues of Liberty last week. The trip was actually setup largely with his help, as USMMA sought to call the attention of the Secretary of the Air Force in charge of installations to our solar hydrogen house (USMMA is home to America's first entirely solar and hydrogen powered home). The idea was that the Air Force would be interested in the concept of sustainable energy as a money saving opportunity, and we were offering to develop closer ties with the USAF in exchange for personnel help from the Air Force. It was somewhat successful with follow up meetings between USMMA researchers, and the USAF.

Senator John McCain's advance man got here yesterday, and we so we are now tweaking and finalizing all aspects of the ceremony. As important as what I am doing is who I am meeting, and the contacts I am making are amazing. The last several mornings I have had breakfast with a nuclear propulsions expert. Since I have been here I have had a senior congressman's son tell me to let him know if I want his dad to help me out, a DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) employee offer to introduce me to people and show me around the DIA when I go down to DC later this summer. It has been pretty amazing.

Thank you very much for your recommendation for this internship. I am doing my best to set a great impression to try and solidify the connection between UPS and USMMA, and I think it is entirely possible. I feel that I really got lucky with an internship where I get to heavily refine my career aspirations at the same time as gaining an incredible number of contacts within the Federal Government. Hopefully this email, along with the attached pictures will prove sufficient blog fodder for a day, although from the sounds of the archives you were recently in you may have found some good blog material. When I return we will have to sit down and talk because I have so many experiences and thoughts from this internship after just two weeks that it is unbelievable. In addition to providing me with housing the internship is also paying an extremely competitive wage ($12.50/hr), it really is about as good as it gets.

Torey Holderith


Friday, June 15, 2007

More thoughts on money (and how to keep it)

PG Alum Trevor Anthony '02 has a three part series on saving for the short, medium, and long term. Thoughtful, and worth reading here, here and here.

Thanks, Trevor, to the link to the CNN retirement calculator--a nice "reverse engineered" bit of calculation that tells you what percent you should be saving, rather than giving you a fixed number or telling you if you'll miss your retirement mark. Find it here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Professor Weinberger Returns and Reflects

Over at Security Dilemmas, Professor Weinberger reflects on some of the issues raised during his recent academic visit to Israel. Interesting thoughts on torture, Iran, Gaza and Hamas, Hezbollah, and some of the splits inside Israel over the future course of their foreign policy (sounds familiar, somehow). Worth reading.

Mrs. Zinchuk Comes Full Circle

If you've been following the adventures of Jen (Eidum) Zinchuk '03 on her blog--it's over there on the right--you'll know she's gone from Peace Corps in Ukraine to wedding bells to grad school in Hungary and now has relocated with her husband in Tacoma, of all places. And now to complete the loop, she's just been hired by Admissions at UPS, so she'll be scouring the highways and biways of Montana, Oregon and Washington in search of new fodder for the nefarious faculty. Best of luck in the new job and welcome back into the fold!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Death and Taxes

Professor Sousa emailed me this:
Very nice. A must have for our department hallway, and for that especially wonky someone in your life!

PG , PG, Everywhere

Today I attended a luncheon sponsored by the World Trade Center Tacoma. The event was WTC Association Day, and representatives from the various businesses that belong were on hand, with a roundtable talk from academic heads or vice heads from UPS (Dean Bartanen), PLU, St. Martin's and UW Tacoma. The talk was quite interesting, with each participant talking about issues related to the topic "Different Pathways to Global Education". This included discussion of foreign students, of study abroad, and of integrating more of an international component into courses on campus. There was also an awards ceremony for student work (written and artistic) dealing with globalization. I was pleased that Dean Bartanen mentioned the department during her presentation, with a Powerpoint slide that featured several of Irene Lim's incredible department event posters.

Everywhere I turned there was someone connected to Politics and Government. En route I parked by the Tacoma Dome station, where Mayor Baarsma (PG alum from '64) was holding a press conference to announce that the Spirit of Washington dinner train, originally based in Renton, will now depart from Tacoma. Among the onlookers was Derek Young '96, who was covering the event for his ever-expanding Exit133 empire. More than a blog these days, they now sponsor KPLU radio and are hosting a candidate forum for the upcoming city council race.

When I arrived at the WTC talk, I was greeted at the door by Garrett Heilman '08, who had just started an internship there. Also present was Colleen (Woodrow) Gause '06 who is Communications and Membership Coordinator for the World Trade Center. We talked about colonizing the internship opportunities, which to date have been dominated by PLU students (shame, shame). So students, if want a good internship opportunity for the fall, keep the World Trade Center in mind.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Finally, I made my way over to the university archives with recent alums Chris Pohlad (who is currently interning with admissions) and Ryan Dumm (who is working on a local city council race). My time was short but what a interesting collection: photos, old banners, photographs going back to the first days of the college, and of course boxes and boxes of papers and other ephemera. I found that Politics and Government, once a track within the History Department (as I expected), split off around 1948-50, with one (new?) faculty member (Professor Hugh Tudor; BA Simpson College '26; taught in the department at least into the late 1950s). It wasn't clear to me why some of those in the History Department didn't join him, since that was pretty common back when the two disciplines weren't totally distinct, or why he appears to have come in as a new hire alongside the creation of the department. Anyone know anything more about Professor Tudor?

Lots to learn and digitize--expect to see it on the blog as the summer unfolds.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Julia Becker '05 at the State Department

Julia Becker '05, currently pursuing a MPA at Cornell's Institute of Public Affairs, is just starting an internship at the State Department. She writes:

I am starting my second week at the State Department and so far it has been a great experience. I am working in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs in the Office of International Religious Freedom. Essentially what I am doing is acting as an editor for the Internation Religious Freedom Report, which by law must be submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Affairs Committee every September 1st. I have been assigned to work in the South and Central Asia team; I am editing the reports from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Essentially what happens is that the Human Rights officer from the embassy post in that country writes the report, detailing government restrictions and abuses of religious freedom in addition to the overall situation of religious freedom among different groups. I edit the report, making sure that all of the instructions are followed in compliance with the law.

In addition, I have a lot of discussion with the embassy post with regards to wording, content, etc. The posts try to minimize some of these issues since they have to actually live and work with the governments of these countries, so we go back and forth about whether the situation is "deteriorating" or "eroding" (apparently the two words have significantly different connotations) and such. We do about four different drafts and then we submit the drafts to the higher ups for approval before the report gets published. Even though I have only been doing this for a week, I have learned not only about how the State Dept. does things but also a ton about the countries I have been working with. The cool thing is that I can also draft policy memos and white papers and if I get it approved by two people in the bureau, I can submit it to Condoleeza Rice to read. In addition, we can influence the strategic plan for a particular embassy, so there is at least a small chance of actually influencing policy in some way.

Pretty great stuff--I'd love to have that internship myself! Readers, let us know what you're up to this summer, whether work or play--we'd love to hear from you. Pictures are a nice addition as well...!


Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

Students--and just about everyone else--find themselves scrounging for boxes when it's time to move. Here's a great new option:

Get a pack of boxes--used, misprints, otherwise unloved--just for the project you have. For example, there's an "average joe" dorm/studio package of 17 boxes.

Great idea--check it out!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Congressman Smith on Comedy Central

Andrea Tull 02 sent along this snippet from Comedy Central where our own local congressman (and her current employer), Adam Smith, is interviewed by Stephen Colbert about such important issues as rhubarb and whether the military is developing shrink rays:

My favorite part actually precedes the interview, where he riffs on Pick Quick, one of the best burger places around these parts and a Pierce County institution.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


A piece in the Wall Street Journal on how some are using technology to start their own businesses overseas, thus avoiding the usual work visa difficulties in the process. Maybe a bit more difficult than the article implies? Still, an interesting discussion and worth the quick read, especially for those of you itching to go abroad for more than a week of vacation.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Seen Streets

Have you seen this? Google maps is now mapping at street level, which means you can click down to a street level view of a given block, turn about 360 degrees, and move along at that level--a pedestrian's eye view. Only available for a few cities, for now. Above is a screenshot of the World Trade Center site in NYC. Click on the image for a bigger view, and here to look around yourself.

Monday, June 04, 2007

(Un)Welcome Money Advice

From the New York Times, an article titled "More Advice Graduates Don't Want to Hear". Even if you don't agree with everything the author says, it's worth reading. The summary:

Never pay a real estate agent a 6 percent commission.

Buy used things, except maybe used tires.

Get on the do-not-call list and other do-not-solicit lists so you can’t be tempted.

Watch infomercials for their entertainment value only.

Know what your credit reports say, but don’t pay for that knowledge: go to to get them.

Consolidate your cable, phone and Internet service to get the best deal.

Resist the lunacy of buying premium products like $2,000-a-pound chocolates.

Lose weight. Carrying extra pounds costs tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

Do not use your home as a piggy bank if home prices are flat or going down or if interest rates are rising.

Enroll in a 401(k) at work immediately.

Postpone buying high-tech products like PCs, digital cameras and high-definition TVs for as long as possible. And then buy after the selling season or buy older technology just as a new technology comes along.

And, I’m sorry, I’m really serious about this last one: make your own coffee.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Boob Tube (Updated)

We've blogged about Elisabeth Squires '80 awhile back, author of a book, blog, and website that's all about boobs. This week she appeared on Good Morning America, so if you want to know more, there's a great article and video interview. Congrats on the national coverage, Elisabeth!

UPDATE: Elisabeth has had some major blog coverage, from big hitters Instapundit, Ann Althouse, and even political scientist and international relations blogger Dan Drezner. Nice!

What a huge time waster I am

So a few changes to the blog. First, all you IE users should find that the sidebar isn't getting squished to the bottom like it had been. I use Firefox and so was unaware of the problem that had been there for months (note to web designers--always preview your work in various browsers and screen sizes, like I didn't).

While messing around, I added a few things. On the right you'll see a random gathering of three pictures from our Flickr site; you can click on any one of them to find out more. Also, last year Professor Hansen was teasing me about my North American-centric logo; to that end, you'll now find that the logo at the top of blog rotates through three different versions that cover much of the world. Just hit F5 to get a new version (though it's random, so it may not change each time).

Enjoy, and if something isn't working or doesn't look right, please let me know--