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What I Did This Summer: Government Professor Laura Henry

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 13:12
Laura Henry

Laura Henry

Laura Henry, associate professor of government at Bowdoin, tells us a bit about her summer researching international politics in Russia:

I spent part of this summer in Moscow, Russia, studying how global governance initiatives influence Russia’s domestic politics. Along with my colleague Lisa Sundstrom of the University of British Columbia, and funded by a Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council grant, I interviewed representatives of international and Russian NGOs who are attempting to promote global “best practices” on environmental, health, and human rights issues – and who often face opposition to their work domestically.

This research is part of a new project titled “The Comparative Politics of Global Governance,” which investigates how global initiatives related to climate, forestry, corporate social responsibility, and HIV/AIDS either succeed or fail in gaining a foothold in the developing countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, known collectively as the BRICS. Read more.

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Three Students Tackle Public Health In Maine, Cambodia, and Kenya

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 13:10

Aviva Mattingly ’15 in Kenya

Each summer, a plethora of grants and fellowships ensures that Bowdoin students have an opportunity to pursue what they are passionate about. Ben Pallant ’16, Aviva Mattingly ’15 and Jordan Lantz ’15 tapped three of these grants to dedicate their summers to addressing public health issues in Cambodia, Kenya and Maine, respectively.

Lantz remained in Brunswick on a Community Matters in Maine Fellowship, assisting at the Oasis Health Center, a free medical clinic. After college, he aims to pursue a master’s degree in public health. Mattingly traveled to several locations in Kenya with the support of the Preston Public Interest Career Fund, working with SOTENI, an NGO. In the future, Mattingly hopes to work in international public health as a surgeon. Pallant interned at Angkor Children’s Hospital in Cambodia, supported by the Strong/Gault Social Advancement Internship fund. His experience solidified his desire to pursue a medical degree and work in patient care. Read a Q&A with the three students by Catherine Yochum ’15.


Categories: Bowdoin

What One Man Found When He Liked Everything on Facebook (Wired)

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 13:09

facebook-logo256After liking everything that came up in his newsfeed for 48 straight hours, Mat Honan found, surprisingly, a whole lot of content that he disliked. There is a specific type of Facebook content “designed to get you to interact,” he explains. “And if you take the bait, you’ll be shown it ad nauseam.” When viewed on his computer, he still saw some posts from his friends — but on his mobile, human content disappeared entirely, replaced on the first day with content from “Huffington Post, Upworthy, Huffington Post, Upworthy, a Levi’s ad,, Huffington Post, Upworthy, The Verge, Huffington Post,, Upworthy,” And this was just the beginning of the repercussions. Honan’s experiment lasted only 48 hours because he couldn’t stand it anymore.

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‘Just Keep Smiling’ Not Always Good Advice (Huffington Post)

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 13:08

Smiley Face“Fake it till you feel it” is one way of coping with a lack of confidence or masking negative emotions: just smile and keep your head held high, and eventually you’ll feel better. Right? As it turns out, this strategy may backfire, causing people who “fake it” to associate smiling with both happiness and unhappiness. If you are someone who smiles when you’re happy, then smiling is likely to make you feel better. If not, don’t force it.


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Bowdoin Students Train for Marine Corps

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 13:06
Mac Caputi ’15

Mac Caputi ’15

For six weeks this summer, three Bowdoin students got by on little sleep, endured pointed criticism and suffered many physical hardships. They were working through the challenges of Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va., in their quest to become second lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mac Caputi ’15, Dimitria Spathakis ’16 and Brendan Lawler ’16 are enrolled in the Marine Corps’ competitive two-year summer program for college students. Read the full story.

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Where the US Falls Behind on Women in the Workforce (New York Times)

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 13:04

FamilyIt’s true that during the last three decades of the 1900s, many changes bolstered women’s ability to join the American workforce. Yet in recent years, other countries have made progress that we have not — and the percentage of women working is actually declining slightly after years of increase.

These other countries have implemented various policies to aid working parents, such as paid family leave and subsidized child care that the U.S. is still lacking. In fact, the United States is the only developed country in the world not to offer paid maternity leave as part of federal policy — as a result only 59% of employees report having this benefit. Read more about the impact of paid leave on employees from The New York Times.

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Standard Calamari Units: A New Way to Measure Food Trends

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 13:02

hummus chickpeasWhen was the first time you ate fried calamari? Was it in a highbrow New York restaurant or at your local Applebee’s? It’s easy to determine from your answer whether that first time was recent or closer to 30 years ago. Food trends, just like fashion trends, trickle down from fancy venues to hip neighborhood spots to national chains.

The New York Times has created a scale, based on the ascent and descent of their coverage of fried calamari, to measure the timetable for other trendy foods such as hummus, goat cheese, and tuna tartare in Standard Calamari Units. So what determines whether these trends stick around once they hit the mainstream? The answer lies simply in how good they taste.

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The History of Autocorrect, Complete with Illustrations (Wired)

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 13:00

autocorrect128Despite entire sites that showcase the hilarity of autocorrect hiccups, the tech service really deserves a lot of credit. How often have you typed teh only to have your error fixed, maybe without you even noticing? Autocorrect blossomed from the efforts of Dean Hachamovitch, a Microsoft VP and data scientist, who first started correcting the above mistake with the F3 and left arrow keys — and then realized you could incorporate this coding directly into the space bar command that you would be hitting anyway.

Autocorrect progressed from there at the hands of an intern, who compiled autocorrect dictionaries from Microsoft employees, and on to correct caps lock errors, homophone phrases, and more. Read more about the innovations and glitches along the way — such as a period during which cooperation was often (and ironically) changed to Cupertino, the location of Apple’s headquarters in California.

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Nicky Pearson Selected to NFHCA Hall of Fame

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:51

Head coach Nicky Pearson has led Bowdoin to four NCAA Division III Championships.



Bowdoin College head field hockey coach Nicky Pearson has been selected to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

In 18 seasons at the helm of the Polar Bears, she has established Bowdoin as the premiere team in Division III field hockey, qualifying for the postseason every year and making NCAA Division III Final Four appearances in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Read more.

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Anthony Doerr ’95′s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ Among Week’s Bestselling Books (Christian Science Monitor)

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:51

Doerr cover


All the Light We Cannot See, the World War II-era novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France, by Anthony Doerr ’95, is on the American Booksellers Association/IndieBound bestseller list for hardcover fiction for the week of August 21, 2014.

In her review of the book this spring, New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin included a note of thanks to the author “for deliberately giving this intricate book an extremely readable format, with very short chapters, many about a page and a half long.”

Maslin included what would be a response from Doerr, though in an article published earlier by a blog: “This was a gesture of friendliness, maybe. It’s like I’m saying to the reader, ‘I know this is going to be more lyrical than maybe 70 percent of American readers want to see, but here’s a bunch of white space for you to recover from that lyricism.’” Read the New York Times review.

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Stalking the Invasive Green Crab in Harpswell Sound

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:50

Aidan Short ’15 is unusually familiar with the invasive green crabs in Harpswell Sound: specifically, with the contents of their stomachs.

Stalking the Invasive Green Crab from Bowdoin College on Vimeo.

The green crab has a reputation for devouring soft-shell clams, the species behind one of Maine’s most lucrative fisheries. But how much of the crab’s diet is really made up of clams? What other creatures are falling prey to this clawed invader? And how does all of that vary by habitat? These are some questions that Short is exploring through his research project “What’s for Dinner? A molecular analysis of the feeding habits of the green crab Carcinus maenas in Harpswell Sound.”

Short has been working on the water and in the lab, using a combination of crab trapping, dissection, and molecular techniques to figure out just what these crabs are swallowing - not a task for the faint of stomach. Funded this summer by a Doherty Coastal Studies Research Fellowship, Short will continue his research as part of a year-long honors project in collaboration with biology assistant professor David Carlon, who directs Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center.

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Portland Among ‘Greatest Places to Live in America’ (Outside)

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:50

Portland, Maine

News that will come as no surprise to many who have visited Maine’s largest city: Portland is among “The 16 Greatest Places to Live in America,” according to calculations by Outside magazine. Citing the proliferation of bike commuters and locally sourced restaurants, Outside gives you the inside scoop on what makes Portland — and the other fifteen locales — so special.

Categories: Bowdoin

Bowdoin Quad Gets a New Memorial Flagpole (and Flag)

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 13:45

For 84 years, a tall, straight pole made of Douglas fir supported the flag that flew above the southwest corner of the Bowdoin Quad. Of course, wood doesn’t last forever and this summer, the College replaced the original Memorial Flagpole with a 72-foot fiberglass pole that will be easier to maintain and should last quite a bit longer. The new pole also supports a larger flag — according to the experts the previous flag-to-flagpole ratio was a bit off.

Consigli Construction, which specializes in historic renovations, took down the old pole piece by piece in July. The company had to resort to using a high-pressured water hose to extract the base of the lodged pole, which ran all the way to the bottom of the granite monument. On August 19, the company erected the new pole, reattached the gilded eagle, and raised the new flag.

History buffs will know that Bowdoin’s Memorial Flagpole was designed by famed architects McKim, Mead & White, the same firm that also designed the Walker Art Building, the Class of 1875 gate, Moulton Union, and the Curtis Pool. Less well-known is that the flagpole was supposed to be situated out in the middle of the Quad. A group of students didn’t like that idea, so one Saturday night in the spring of 1930, before the new pole could be erected, they decided to move the pole into the Bowdoin Chapel. President Sills was not amused, but in the end a compromise was struck and Bowdoin’s Memorial Flagpole found a permanent home between Gibson Hall and the Walker Art Building. Read more about the history of the Memorial Flagpole in this account by Patricia McGraw Anderson.

“X” marks the planned original site for the Memorial Flagpole“X” marks the planned original site for the Memorial Flagpole

“X” marks the planned original site for the Memorial Flagpole

Students remove flagpole to the ChapelStudents remove flagpole to the Chapel

Students remove flagpole to the Chapel

A not-so-amused President SillsA not-so-amused President Sills

A not-so-amused President Sills

Removing the poleRemoving the pole

Removing the pole

Gilded eagle atop the Memorial FlagpoleGilded eagle atop the Memorial Flagpole

Gilded eagle atop the Memorial Flagpole

Categories: Bowdoin

Rudalevige on Obama’s ‘Un-vacation Vacation’ (NY Daily News)

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 13:04
Andrew Rudalevige

Andrew Rudalevige

Andrew Rudalevige is everywhere these days. Bowdoin’s Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government has been tapped for insight and quoted in The Washington PostThe New York Times, and most recently, The New York Daily News

In a piece by Daily News Washington bureau chief James Warren concerning President Obama’s two-day break from a family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Rudalevige says “Obama presumably wants to avoid the mockery Bill Clinton got for doing polling over where he should vacation,” adding, “And I do think presidents are in a tough spot; they need some time for decompression, and that doesn’t really happen even on ‘vacation.’ Nancy Reagan said something like ‘presidents don’t get a vacation, only a change of scenery.”

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An Appleseed a Day Keeps the Doctor Away (The Atlantic)

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 13:02

Christmas TreeJohnny Appleseed is lauded as an “American folk hero” for having planted and emphasized the importance of trees for future generations. As it turns out, there’s science to back his actions — research demonstrates health benefits for those who spend more time with trees.

In one study, gall bladder removal patients recovered faster when their windows looked out over trees as opposed to buildings. And on the flip side, acute respiratory symptoms and deaths associated with pollution are on the rise in areas where a lack of trees provides no defense against pollution. Read more about the current state of trees and pollution in The Atlantic.

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‘Mise-En-Place’ Put in Place in Real Life (NPR)

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 13:00

cooking128It is a universal principle in the culinary world, especially among highly trained chefs: mise-en-place. The French phrase translates to English as “put in place,” and it is a mantra for having everything you need exactly where you need it, exactly when you need it. No more, no less. Most directly, chefs refer to this principle as they arrange all necessary kitchen tools and ingredients in reliable places at their work station. But it extends to all kinds of tasks — organizing your things for an entire day, internalizing lists, cleaning as you go. Chefs find that the rigor of mise-en-place seeps into all aspects of their lives, and they believe everyone could learn a thing or two from this culinary system of order.

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Whispering Pines: What’s Missing?

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 13:43


When I was young (a long, long time ago now), I used to enjoy the picture puzzles in the children’s magazines that could be found in the waiting rooms at the dentist’s or doctor’s office, especially those that had illustrations with  hidden objects or challenged me to find what was missing in a picture. Earlier generations may remember “what’s missing” illustrations created by Norman Rockwell for April Fool’s Day covers for The Saturday Evening Post in the 1940s. Similar games for children and adults are available as apps (applications) for smart phones, such as the popular “What’s Missing??”

This is the fiftieth “Whispering Pines” column that I have written for the Bowdoin Daily Sun, and although it is an artificial milestone, I’m still using it as an opportunity to reflect on what stories have – and haven’t – been covered in these essays over the past several years.

There are several assumptions and subtexts that apply to the columns:

(1) every member of the Bowdoin community shares ownership of the College’s historical legacy – the good, the bad, and the endlessly fascinating;

(2) the past is at least partially knowable at the scales at which people lived their lives at a particular moment in time, space, and circumstance, and made active decisions in the face of an uncertain future;

(3) new questions and insights can reinvigorate an oft-told tale, making what was once familiar seem exotic and fresh;

and (4) even though there may be a great divide that separates the historical and cultural contexts of a story from the present, there will always be a recognizable kernel of human experience or emotion contained therein.

I recognize that the limitations of my own knowledge and experiences have a direct impact on what I write about. What I think I may know is dwarfed by things about which I know next to nothing. It is a simple statement of fact that I am influenced by the historical, social, cultural, and intellectual circumstances of my own life (a white, male, middle-class baby boomer from Maine, who is an anthropologist/archaeologist by training). Each narrative is shaped by filters and blinders that are consciously imposed or operate below the threshold of my awareness.

Gallery: Stories not yet told. . . Pearl Bordeaux ’14 invented Maine’s first snowmobile in 1915 when he attached a Smith motor wheel on the back of a sled and fashioned a steering tiller so that he could deliver the mail on Mt. Desert Island. The Green Hornet Construction Company’s Hughes 1973 Pre-Med Memorial Cemetery was a poignant reminder of how the capricious assignment of grades could alter career paths. The cover photo on the January 8, 1940, issue of LIFE magazine, showed Ernest H. (“Hal”) Pottle ’41 and his date, Dorothy Ohlrogge, on a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Brunswick.  By the end of the year they were married and Hal was in the Navy for the duration of World War II. In the summer of 1950, actor Gary Merrill ’37 and his new bride, actress Bette Davis, drove up the front steps of the Walker Art Building in his convertible; President Sills was reportedly not amused. The origins and significance of Ivies Weekend are constantly (and creatively) reinvented by each generation of Bowdoin students. It’s a good thing for the UMaine black bear at the 1919 Homecoming football game that Arctic explorer Donald MacMillan of the Class of 1898 was unsuccessful in bringing back a live polar bear mascot from the Crocker Land Expedition in 1917.

I often find ideas for essays in some aspect of the College’s history, or in the intersections of lives and circumstances that reveal a different perspective on well-known historical events and figures. Instead of a following a linear historical path, I often find an interconnected and multi-branching thicket instead. As is the case when hand-picking wild blueberries, it’s sometimes easier to sit down in the middle of a patch and collect what is within reach than it is to contemplate a systematic sweep of a field from one end to the other.

For example, in last month’s column I wrote about Seropé Gűrdjian of the Class of 1877,  a classmate of Arctic explorer Robert Peary, inventor Freelan O. Stanley, and Charles W. Morse, “The Ice-King,” whose deeds and misdeeds roiled the American financial world for the first quarter of the 20th century (and who claimed that Peary would have reached the North Pole in 1906 if he had used a Morse tugboat to help The Roosevelt through the ice). Clearly there is a Charlie Morse Whispering Pines column in my future. Each of these students participated in the Drill Rebellion during Joshua Chamberlain’s presidency, was hazed by 1876’s Phi Chi, and learned the news of George Custer’s defeat at the Little Big Horn (and the death of Custer’s surgeon, George Lord of the Class of 1866) in the summer before their senior year. They may have glimpsed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on campus before he delivered Morituri Salutamus, his 50th Reunion address, on July 7, 1875. One could write a book on the interconnected and yet independent lives of these few alumni as seen through a Bowdoin lens.

My favorite part of writing ‘The Whispering Pines’ is to read the comments from alumni, faculty and staff, parents, and friends who share their insights, knowledge, gentle corrections, and personal experiences. 

And now for what’s missing from these pictures. As I mentioned earlier, the subject matter for The Whispering Pines tends to follow what I think I know about. I tend to write essays about historical subjects, especially about events and people where enough time has elapsed to allow some historical perspective. Rummaging in a more distant past lowers the risk of mischaracterizing the actions of the living or of appearing to promote the accomplishments of a select few while ignoring the achievements of the many. This decision has introduced a number of demographic biases. There are fewer stories about women than there should be, and fewer stories about the students, alumni, and faculty of a College that has never been so diverse as it is now, as measured along any axis against that you might choose. For much of the richness of experience that collectively makes up the Bowdoin family, I am outside observer – an appreciative observer, but an outside one, nonetheless.

While a multigenerational connection to Bowdoin as an alumnus and employee may initially appear to be an asset in understanding the College’s history, it could be seen with equal justification as a kind of liability. Inherited stories and perspectives can obscure what others may be able to see more clearly through new eyes. A long time depth can give a valuable historical perspective, but also may involve embedded assumptions, a resistance to change, and a tendency to repeat received wisdom rather than to question it. If I accept the “insider” views passed down in my family about various Bowdoin presidents, administrators, and faculty, then I must also be open to the truths and lived experiences of others that may be at odds with my version of “the facts.”

Finally, there are self-imposed word limits on Whispering Pines columns of between 750 and 1,500 words. In a practical sense this means that stories that are complex or which require a lengthy preamble are not likely to appear in a column for the Bowdoin Daily Sun.

My favorite part of writing “The Whispering Pines” is to read the comments from alumni, faculty and staff, parents, and friends who share their insights, knowledge, gentle corrections, and personal experiences. Thank you, one and all!  Now, on to the next 50 columns…


With best wishes,

John R. Cross ’76
Secretary of Development and College Relations

Categories: Bowdoin

Bowdoin’s Rudalevige Weighs in on Obama’s Use of Executive Power (New York Times)

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 13:43
Andrew Rudalevige

Andrew Rudalevige


In a Monday New York Times article, Andrew Rudalevige, Bowdoin’s Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government, speaks about President Obama’s wield of unilateral power to advance his policy agenda.

“The executive branch is not really set up to be a deliberative body like the Congress is,” Rudalevige told the paper. “The process is certainly stacked toward the policy preferences of the administration, and they’re going to listen to the people they think are right, which usually means the ones who agree with them.

“Those who are ‘in’ will engage the White House and the agencies to get their priorities met, and if you’re ‘out,’ you turn to the legal process” to challenge the executive action after it is taken, he said.

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Lucy Knowlton ’15 Delves into Brunswick’s International Past

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 13:42
Lucy Knowlton ’15 at Simpson’s Point Landing, the area where the Brunswick shipyard was located

Lucy Knowlton ’15 at Simpson’s Point Landing, where the Brunswick shipyard was located.

Quick: what’s something that Singapore, Japan, and Cape Horn have in common? They were all destinations for a booming shipping industry of the late 1800s – one that was based in Brunswick, Maine. This summer, Lucy Knowlton ’15 has been working under a Gibbons Fellowship to explore the Brunswick shipping industry, using ArcGIS maps and the resources available in Bowdoin’s Special Collections.

Knowlton began her research by looking at payrolls and other documents that belonged to the Pennells, a prominent shipbuilding family, and went on to investigate individual members of the community through the Ancestry search engine. “One of the first things I learned how to do was to read this really old handwriting,” she said. “It was like another language.” Her research also included using ship logbooks to identify the latitude and longitude of the boats on their journeys, and visually mapping the voyages in ArcGIS. Continue reading about her project.

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Technology Tracking Shows Habit of Most Productive People (The Muse)

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 13:42

Alarm clock256The numbers 52 and 17 apparently hold some productive significance. Using the tracking application DeskTime to study the habits of the most productive employees showed that they did focused work for 52 minutes at a time – then took a focused break for 17 minutes. Rather than sneaking quick peeks at a phone or email, they let themselves be wholly invested in what they were doing for these periods of time, whether working or taking time to walk around the office and chat.

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