Currently viewing the tag: "Social List"
I quite unapologetically check the Social List (the mostly-student elist) regularly for information about less-than-official goings on at Fletcher, and the ideas and information that are traded there never cease to amaze me. Here’s an example.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, at 3:28, an international student wrote:
Can you please recommend some very good, calm/peaceful country music for me? I don’t mean old, but something a little melancholic and nostalgic.
At 3:39 the options start to build, when a U.S. student recommended:
Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams are all pretty fantastic. I would just Spotify/Pandora their greatest hits albums, although listening to Johnny Cash’s “Live at Folsom Prison” all the way through is also a great experience.
At 3:53, the next suggestion:
They’re not often counted as “country” musicians, but you may want to check out some of the music at the roots of both the country and blues music genres. Folklorist Alan Lomax also traveled through the South in the 1930s and 1940s recording a lot of these folks in their hometowns for the Library of Congress, and his work provides a pretty fascinating look into a slice of U.S. history.
Finally, 3:58, only a half hour after the original email:
If this is the direction you’re going, then I’d recommend Robert Johnson, Skip James, and Mississippi John Hurt (my personal favorite). Truly beautiful, humble, and haunting music.
And just like that, the student has the information he needs to kick off his search for country music. Thank you, Social List.
Yes, it was a very snowy weekend. The Blizzard of 2013 howled for about 24 hours, starting mid-day on Friday. By Saturday afternoon, the sun was peeking out, and yesterday was a fantastic day — beautiful blue skies and crisp, without being too cold.
The snowstorm set the stage for a student-imposed assignment. Via the Social List, a snowball fight challenge was issued. Then a series of messages followed organically that could have been the response to an exam essay prompt. It started with a challenge from the Class of 2013 (primarily second-year students):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Fletcher students are not created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unequal powers of wit, passion, and brevity. That to secure these lofty ideals, warriors are called upon, deriving their merry powers from the spirit of their greater lot. …The Class of 2013 calls upon its men and women — aspiring scholars, philanthropists, and diplomats — to eschew peace this once and to arm themselves with snow to remake the Fletcher School once more.
Soon after, the details of the call to snowball-laden arms went out:
For all those who are aching for an all-out battle, ready your snow horses and bayonets. Sunday Evening, Fletcher Field, 5 PM. Class of 2013 to gather at north end along Ginn. Class of 2014 to gather at south end of the field along Professor’s Row. (I know this doesn’t fit the dictates of modern warfare, but I think it’ll be more dramatic this way.)
The Class of 2014′s response:
Normally we do respect old people. However you, class of 2013, want this and you will get what you deserve!
And then an assortment of comments, many from the Class of 2013, who seemed to have more theory to weave into their snow-warmongering:
We did not seek war. But 2014 has left us with no choice. The 2013 PeaceMALDs have decided to join their WarMALD colleagues, along with other courageous men and women of the distinguished 2013 corps, in this quest to rid Cabot of tyranny, ageism, and first-year brazenness.
Due to the lack of acknowledgement by the Class of 2013, the Swiss Council at the Fletcher School has, in an unprecedented meeting, decided to abandon its long-standing policy of neutrality and we call on all other neutral nations to follow us in this historic step. We will proudly provide our extraordinary expertise in the discipline of snow fights to the Class of 2014, which has shown tremendous effort to reach out to the Swiss delegation.
MIB SnowPowder, LLC will be setting up a ready-made snowball factory shop located on the east side of the field. Our mission is to anticipate our customers’ needs and to stay on the leading edge of technology in the snow-arm industry, and provide quality snow-ammo and services at a reasonable price. Mini ice buckshots will be sold for a quarter a piece, while our devastating snow bombs will be priced at 2 dollars.
The Fletcher Humanitarian Community will provide access to emergency care for war-wounded people. We will offer assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of independence and impartiality. We do not take sides in armed conflicts, we provide care on the basis of need, and we push for independent access to victims of conflict as required under international humanitarian law. You can recognize us in pink shirts with glittery unicorn emblems.
As a man of peace, as an attorney, as a man of good will, as a father and husband, I call upon you all, ambassadors of peace and good will, to avoid war. Do not be a realist. It is not about the survival of both classes. It is about peace, and cooperation for the common good. I am not taking any side in this moment of tension, but I am willing to be a mediator to settle the dispute. I am not talking about a peace enforcement mission under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. I am talking about trying to settle the dispute for the benefit of the whole community. Let’s negotiate the historic Hall of Flags peace accord…Give peace a chance…
The emerging security paradigm of this post-Nemo world has blurred the lines between combatant and non-combatant. This war amongst the people can and will get messy. We must be prepared for the war after the war. We must be prepared for the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns.
And, finally, a note of sanity from a first-year student:
Dear God, will the second years stop at nothing to procrastinate on their theses?? How many innocent first years need to be pelted by snowballs before that lit review section finally gets written?
A few weeks back, a virtual Social List brawl nearly broke out among defenders of their favorite poetic tradition. Yes, blog readers. Fletcher students will take time away from case studies, thesis writing, extracurricular activities, and the job hunt to argue about Urdu poetry. As I haven’t had a chance to do the discussants the courtesy of checking with them, I’m going to share the points of discussion without using names (but I can tell you that their cultural or national origins include Pakistan, India, Armenia, Iran, and possibly others). Also, I don’t endorse any particular viewpoint (being ignorant on this great topic), and I can’t vouch for the accuracy of anything written below. Plus, I haven’t included the many wikipedia links that were part of the discussion. With all those disclaimers in place, the great Urdu Poetry debate:
Tufts is organising an Urdu poetry recital on Thursday. Urdu is the language of the poets — that is why Urdu-speaking individuals (namely Pakistanis) are die-hard romantics. If you are interested in the recital of some of the most influential and famous Urdu couplets — that were responsible for social movements and the spread of ideologies (including Communism), or were just some poor, talented, heart-broken dude venting — come to Cabot 702 on Thursday at 6:30 pm.
Also, we’re trying to find translations for most of the poems. Another incentive to be there: Chai. See you all there!
From wikipedia: “There are between 60 and 70 million speakers of Urdu: There were 52 million in India per the 2001 census, some 6% of the population; 13 million in Pakistan in 2008, or 8%; and several hundred thousand apiece in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bangladesh.”
Clearly there are more romantics in India.
Haha! C’mon, let the Pakistanis have the upper hand in SOMETHING! And citing Wikipedia won’t convince me.
…and the tradition of Couplet poetry in the subcontinent began when Persians fleeing Shiite conversion settled in the then Mughal Empire. Writing in Persian. See: Kabir and many others.
Indians, Pakistanis: thanks for the upper hand
Are you sure? Kabir died in 1518. The Mughals’ reign didn’t start until 1526 when Barbur came to power. Besides, Kabir wrote in Hindi not Persian.
Yes, I am sure. Even before the Mughals, the Ghaznavids and Delhi Sultanate were jampacked with Persian poets: Amir Khusro, the father of Qawwali; Zeb un Nissa, daughter of Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb.
The reciting of couplets on the Subcontinent stretches back into far greater antiquity than mere mediæval Gunpowder Empires. But the Persian tradition is beautiful, and among one of its many adherents who roamed the streets of Lahore and Delhi in the seventeenth century happens to be someone close to my heart.
Upper hand, anyone? Anyone?
There actually wasn’t ever a real divide between Persian and Hindi/Urdu in the Subcontinent’s literary tradition. Amir Khusro wrote in both Persian and Hindvi, as did many other poets of the Mughal era. (Hindvi being the old version of Hindustani, which would eventually evolve into Hindi and Urdu). Urdu poets still wrote in Persian, even after Hindi and Urdu developed their own formalized languages and literary registers. One of the great 20th century Urdu poets, Iqbal, also had an extensive catalog of work in Persian as well. My uncle studied Persian in school while growing up in Bombay in the 1950s, and he would apparently even recite Persian poems in his sleep (much to the chagrin of my father, who was sleeping in the same room).
The fact that this is a Social List debate makes me think that Fletcher should have a Persian/Urdu poetry night…we clearly have a constituency for it. (I’m imagining dueling Persian-Urdu ghazals…)
And I can add that the fact that there is such a debate on the SL makes me even happier to be here at Fletcher You are incredible! Have a great day.
Dean Uvin invited feedback on his Top 10 of 2011 list, and students didn’t hold back. I’ve snatched as many comments off the Social List as I could reasonably fit in the blog but, fortunately, a plugged-in student, Michael, solved my space problem by creating a scholarly archive of the suggestions for this year and 2010, saying:
For your studying convenience, I’ve compiled the albums and songs recommended by Dean Uvin and fellow students into a single public Spotify playlist: Fletcher Music 2011: The Groovin’ Uvin Project (http://open.spotify.com/user/grahamagp/playlist/29o96Vbw2BQLb3vFBPwyuj). Last year’s recommendations are in a second playlist, Fletcher Music 2010: Before the ‘Stache (http://open.spotify.com/user/grahamagp/playlist/29o96Vbw2BQLb3vFBPwyuj).
Blog readers, please check out the Spotify lists for the two scholarly works. (I included the url as I’ve had inconsistent success in opening the lists from a link. Plug the address into the Spotify search box.) But, because you might want to know what comments accompanied the choices, I’ve compiled a few. Here (with my apologies if I missed typos in unfamiliar album titles) are the students’ contributions to the listening pleasure of the community, with a little marker (~~~~~~) to indicate a change from one student to the next.
This was my favorite thread last year and my favorite again (albeit I still think too early — there’s a whole month left). With that said…Here are my top 10:
1. Girls — Father, Son, Holy Ghost
2. Youth Lagoon — The Year of Hibernation
3. The Weekend — House of Balloons/Thursday
4. James Blake — James Blake
5. St. Vincent — Strange Mercy
6. Drake — Take Care
7. Tune-Yards — WHOKILL
8. Los Campesinos — Hello Sadness
9. M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
10. The Antlers — Burst Apart
If I were to include reissues: The Rolling Stones — Some Girls reissue is awesome, but the Beach Boys — Smile Sessions is mind blowingly awesome. The outtakes for “Heroes and Villains” are amazing on their own.
Raphael Saadiq — Stone Rollin’. For those vintage soul fans:
M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Sweet electropop with great melodies.
Jay-Z and Kanye West — Watch the Throne. The best of the two best in hip hop.
Kurt Vile — Smoke Ring For My Halo. Guitar driven rawk a la Burce Springsteen or Jeff Buckley (but more clever).
Fleet Foxes — Helplessness Blues. Gorgeous, accoustic-inspired indie rock and complex harmonies.
Lykke Li — Wounded Rhymes. Ephemeral Swedish pop that was the soundtrack to my summer.
Assuming the role of Debbie Downer, I have to say I found it to be a really disappointing year musically. More and more bands sound the same and like too many other bands that came before them — like rock/pop music’s death by entropy. In some cases, it can work really well (such as M83 shamelessly channeling the 80s) but in most cases it just sounds boring and samey. Which leads to my thesis: “Has rock/pop music exhausted itself as a genre and done everything it can do?” I’m pretty sure I could get Dean Uvin to sign on as a thesis adviser.
Holy Ghost! — Holy Ghost! For those of you into the indie dance genre… Fun, smart, hip disco groove full-length album from two New York guys on DFA (the label of LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair, Hot Chip…).
Brigitte — Et vous, tu m’aimes? The album is a standout — ranging from pop ditty to cover of a rap song to country inspired to a finale of a gospel song turned upside down called “Jesus sex symbol.” Listening will help you with your language exam!
Feist — Metals. Music on this album hovers around the intersection of indie and alt country, a good place for her, and one which she inhabits beautifully. It is such a mature album; I love it.
The Weekend — House of Balloons. Dark and brooding genre-bending debut from a 20-year old Toronto kid. Blew up after a tweet from Drake. Download for free on his website and become one with your morose self.
Tune-Yards — W H O K I L L. Lo-fi eclectic sonic collage. Merrill Garbus rocks and did this whole album on her own. This will give you an idea.
I would be oh so sad if Florence and The Machine’s new album Ceremonials wasn’t in the running. That girl has some piiiiiiiipes. It’s the perfect mix of gut wrenching, rock it out, go-out-there-and-win-this-thing inspiration. AND Beriut’s The Rip Tide album. Love the vibrato of his voice and the horn harmonies are fantastic.
Dean Uvin. Once again making sure we learn the important things.
Here’s one of those little things that pass my inbox and warm my heart. It was a message to the Social List from a first-year student I’ll call Inquiring Mind (IM). So IM is new to the U.S. and was curious about an aspect of American culture. What did he do? He sent the question out to his crack team of cultural interpreters — the Social List. IM wrote:
I recently became aware of a cross-cultural academic nuance that I had to share. Apparently it is inappropriate to ask fellow students about their grades here in the U.S. This is in complete contrast to my educational experience in India where, not only is this a very fair question, you almost never had to ask to find out. That is because a lot of schools would post the results of the entire student body on public notice boards for everyone to see. I distinctly remember learning about my grades from friends who had a knack of getting to those notice boards before I did.
There are probably deeper social values at play here that define what is appropriate, and I would like to know your thoughts on it, particularly about the “appropriateness’” of this question.
I love the fact that someone can ask a question like this, with confidence that supportive classmates will help him out. The answers poured in right away.
Cultural Interpreter #1 wrote:
I wish I had an explanation why. Maybe it’s because we’re over-achievers and either embarrassed by a bad grade or feel like we’re flaunting our good grades, if we tell others. But whoever gave you that pearl of wisdom, it’s definitely true. Unless someone offers to tell you his grade, I wouldn’t ask.
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, and in some instances — maybe among your study group where you all worked really hard together, or if you know someone was particularly worried about an exam — it would not be inappropriate to ask. But I’ll bet that if you ask people how they did on an exam or paper, the general response will be, “I did fine” (which I would correlate with an A or A-). “Not my best work, but it will do,” probably equals an A- or B, depending on the person. But “Damn, that teacher totally has it out for me” points to less than a B. Then again, maybe that’s just me.
An additional curious international student then wrote:
I’d really be interested to hear more about this. I am in my fifth academic year as a student in this country, and I’ve noticed many thought-provoking aspects of youth in this society, of social norms and customs both inside and outside the classroom. I’d love to hear what graduate-level, older students have to say, especially as almost everyone here has had international experience and so many Fletcher students are not American. Is it really a no-no to reveal one’s grades in the U.S.?
Cultural Interpreter #2 jumped in to say:
I have always assumed it had something to do with the Protestant Work Ethic vibe/Puritan roots of the U.S.: Hard work is a duty; humility is absolute; privacy is supreme. Many people don’t abide by those same rules in their day-to-day life, of course, but I recall being told early on in my (public) school never to discuss our academic achievements publicly. It might be similar to how we don’t talk about money (“How much did your condo cost?” “How much do you make yearly?”), which in some countries is totally o.k.
Cultural Interpreter #3 took the conversation further, and also added a cultural reference:
Although not officially publicized, everyone knew everyone’s grades among my high school friends. (Less so in college.) Yet if the information was not offered and you had to ask, it was awkward. I don’t know why. Perhaps the aversion to making grades public has to do with the spirit of promoting self-esteem and eternal optimism that is particularly strong in some American circles? Taken to its extreme, it’s as if we can’t puncture the illusion that “of course we’re all above average!”
Finally, Cultural Interpreter #4 concluded the conversation:
I think part of it, as well, might have to do with the fact that a lot of us were always conscious that families had different expectations re: what was an “acceptable” grade vs. an “achievement” vs. a “failure” — differences that correspond pretty closely with the cultural diversity found in much of America. Kids learn early that some families celebrate what other families want to see improve, and discussing grades only reinforces that. No one wants to hear, “Your parents are rewarding you for a B? Mine would hire a tutor.” (Not that I ever said that, but my family was definitely in the latter camp.) Neither is right or wrong, but as a kid it’s difficult to understand, which means that the question often gets circumvented.
Of course, these are only anecdotal responses, and a future thesis on the topic will require more research. Still, I feel good when I see this type of connection among students, to the benefit of all.
You may have seen this article in Diplomatic Courier, which features the “Top 99 Most Influential International Professionals Under 33.” If you didn’t see the original article, you might have seen the Fletcher take on it, listing our nine alumni among the Top 99, including two in the Top 9.
I thought I’d share some of the reaction of my Admissions colleagues. After students circulated the link to the article via the Social List, Kristen sent me a note saying how proud she was, and that “it also makes me feel like a bit of an old-timer, as I recognized our students’ names without looking them up.” Then Laurie and I chatted about how clearly we remembered reading many (or, in Laurie’s case, all) of the applications, with Matan’s particularly standing out in my mind. We always feel that personal connection to students, starting with their applications and continuing as they make their mark on the Fletcher community.
Frankly, it doesn’t take an Admissions genius to have seen the potential in one of these people who, so quickly, have made an impact. Ultimately, the most gratifying aspect of the story, from the Admissions perspective, is that the nine chose Fletcher as the place where they would hone their skills and broaden their perspectives — giving Fletcher the opportunity to play a role in shaping them before they moved along to the wider world.
O.K., so this is really old (originally posted last summer, I think), but it just made it’s way to me via the Social List. New Fletcher alum, Michelle Kwan, hosted an aspiring figure skater at Fletcher. Check out Michelle as tour guide, and her protegé, starting at about 30:30 into the show. MTV isn’t Fletcher’s usual medium, and I hope you’ll enjoy (however belatedly) this unique introduction to the School.
Yesterday I shared emails from students who, in defending the Fletcher Social List, helped to define it. Today I want to give you examples of things I learned from the Social List.
Example #1: A student is writing the story of his spring in Egypt.
As some of you know, I was studying in Egypt during the recent revolution. I happened to be traveling with a friend of mine who works as a cartoonist, when the events in Tahrir Square began, and we decided to tell the story of our experience through a webcomic. The first episode of the comic was released today, and it will be updated weekly. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment on the site.
Example #2: There are lots of Bollywood fans in the community! And they put together a list to guide my summer video watching. Are you also new to Bollywood? Check out the list.
And that’s only the As and Bs! Time constraints keep me from sharing the entire list.
Example #3: Even though MALD student Bilal Baloch works in our office, I needed the Social List to tell me he was featured on CNN.
Example #4: Days before I heard officially, the Social List told me that you can check bicycles out at the library — just like books!
Example #5: For better or worse, I learned how…many…remixes there are of that ubiquitous and (some might say) annoying Friday song. (Sorry about the hulu commercial — the blog likes to draw from legal sites.)
As you can see, time spent reading Social List (or Socialist) messages is time well spent. The List is like a web that holds the community together, while also informing us about its interests and activities. Incoming students: Be ready to share with and learn from the List!
Amar Akhbar Anthony
Bunty Aur Babli
Dil Chahata Hai
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Hazaaron Khwashein Aisi
Jaane Bhi Do Yaron
Jaane Tu Jaane Na
Jab We Met
Kal Ho Naa Ho
Koi Mil Gaya
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Life In A Metro
Om Shanti Om
Rang De Basanti
Satte Pe Satta
Taare Zameen Par
Past posts have often referred to the Social List — Fletcher’s email list for non-official purposes. I can’t remember how long ago the School decided we would have two elists — one for official news (carefully monitored) and one for, well, more free-wheeling unmonitored conversation — but it’s hard to imagine Fletcher without the Social List. (How did students communicate with each other back in the day?) Last October, there was a discussion (on the Social List, of course) about what belongs there, starting with one student’s suggestion that “Foodie” emails might not be proper Social List content, and should be relegated to their own thematic list. Prisca Benelli (soon to graduate from the MALD program and then return for the PhD program) jumped in with her defense of multi-faceted discussion. I filed the emails away for future blog use, and here’s what Prisca said to make her case:
I like the Social List because it brings me a lot of unrelated, funny, sometimes interesting — sometimes not — topics. I like it because I can find everything on it, and I like the freedom of posting a totally random request.
I like to read — and sometimes respond — to the questions and emails I see, as a way to procrastinate. I like it because it’s unpredictable and chaotic, which is how communication is in real life. I like to discover more — both fun facts and serious opinions — about people I know, based on the requests they send.
So, I don’t feel bothered by foodie requests. Nonetheless, I would never sign up for a list for food, and I don’t want to be inundated with food discussions. The SL, I believe, works as a moderator because people restrain themselves from sending too many emails, fearing they will annoy others.
I like the Social List the way it is: a potpourri of ideas, pictures of dogs, announcements of conferences, and occasional debates. It feels messy, but it feels like community.
So, thank you for your efforts to make the list a better place, but please, don’t spare me from foodie mails.
Picking up the conversation and, in true Social List style, taking it further, Jonathan Perry (also, soon-to-graduate) joins in defending the Social List (or, as he prefers, The Socialist):
Like Prisca, I’m writing in support of this madness we call The Socialist.
To second my colleague, I like The Socialist because it’s ridiculous, informative, provocative, random, and surprising. Today’s headlines alone taught me a lot about my fellow students:
1) Sam, the poor guy, is looking to get his hair cut and will offer baked goods in return. Is there anyone out there for him? I would offer myself but I’m afraid he’d need to wear a paper bag on his head for a couple of weeks.
2) There’s an interesting documentary on maternal health in Nigeria coming up soon. You should check it out, if you want to.
3) Elena’s cat is missing!!! This is seriously stressful. Elena, I hope you find Minky soon — AND I hope that your message to The Socialist helps you to that end.
4) Alexis is looking to road-trip New England…awesome! May I suggest a jaunt down Route 2 West and up to southern Vermont? You won’t be disappointed.
My point is the following: The Socialist is an online community (yours, mine, and our community) that brings together the immensely wide range of interests present at Fletcher. It’s an incredible resource for anyone trying to tap into the human capital that 500 impressively experienced, intelligent, and motivated students combined bring to the table.
Yes, it’s messy, and of course postings can be trivial. Book-swapping season alone can lead to many, many irrelevant emails to you and me both, BUT have you tried selling a Stats Book on it during the first week of September? That’s money in the bank my friend!
Like Prisca, I’ve enjoyed the foodie discussion, but would probably not sign up for a foodie-only site. I am also — like most of us — an IR nut who enjoys discussions on all sorts of international issues, especially if they come with the opinions of my classmates. I would argue that putting your ideas on The Socialist is a direct line to a 500-person audience, with the added bonus of a critical peer review of equal size. Be bold, post your IR analysis for everyone to see. (I hear Prof. Drezner subscribes to The Socialist.)
So, just like my classmate, I commend you for trying to bring order to the chaos, but please don’t forget that, within the chaos, there is a benefit that sub-sites and topic-specific discussions miss out on.
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