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Swarthmore in the NewsJuly 29, 2011


 The Business Insider

Here's What The First Blog, Smartphone, and Web Browser Looked Like

By Dylan Love

July 27, 2011

Someone had to send the first email. Someone had to create the first computer virus. And obviously, someone had to register the first internet domain.

It's only because of so many technical visionaries that we have the Internet as we know it today.

Here are some of the humble first steps that got us here.
First mobile phone with Internet access: Nokia (NYSE:NOK) 9000 Communicator

Available in Finland in 1996, the Nokia 9000 Communicator was almost non-viable due to extremely high costs to the service providers.

In 1999, a much more practical Internet device called the i-Mode launched in Japan, but it wasn't the first.

First email: nonsense letters

Ray Tomlinson sent the first email in late 1972 between two computers sitting right next to each other. He doesn't remember what it said, but he speculates that it was just "QWERTYUIOP."

The first blog: Justin's Links To The Underground

Justin Hall is widely credited with starting the first blog in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College. It's still active today, with a full archive.


The Associated Press State & Local Wire

Green roof to keep classes cool at U. of Delaware

By Wade Malcolm, The News Journal of Wilmington, Del.

July 27, 2011

On a warm fall day in 2008, Annette Shine sat in a classroom teaching a course she likes to call "how not to blow up a chemical plant."

Her group of University of Delaware chemical engineering students struggled to learn the difficult material in a sweaty, 86-degree room.

...This fall, people looking over a one-story wing jutting out from the south side of Colburn Laboratory will see an array of colorful plants covering the flat tar roof.

Recent temperature readings on the roof have revealed a greater benefit. Aside from cooling Colburn, the plants cause the peak temperature on the roof to occur later in the day. Instead of the high heat of the day radiating into the rooms at around 1:30 p.m., it will be delayed until 3:30 or 4 p.m. in places where the soil is 4 inches deep and around 6:30 p.m. where the dirt is 8 inches thick.

...After some study, Nelson chose durable plants that grow year-round and require little attention beyond some occasional weeding. The skills of Nelson and Shine offered the ultimate contrast and complement of practicality and creativity.

...The process was not without its challenges. It required a structural engineering study to ensure the roof wouldn't collapse under the weight of the garden, and facilities personnel wanted assurances that the plants would not become a maintenance hassle. Shine credited the students for helping her through the long process.

Rooftop vegetation has sprouted on campuses across the country, from community colleges to Ivy League institutions. Nearby Swarthmore College, a liberal arts school in Delaware County, Pa., has more than 14,000 square feet of plants covering the tops of its buildings.

They've been used on commercial buildings as well, said Chad Nelson, an assistant professor of landscape design who has been studying the function and aesthetics of green roofs. Nelson said green roofs have caught on at colleges because much of the work and preparation can be done by faculty and student volunteers.

The plants act as a natural heat shield, absorbing and deflecting the sun's radiation. On a hot day, Shine and her students predict, the plants will lower the temperature inside the building by about 5 or 6 degrees. That might not sound like a lot, Shine said, but it could make the difference between stifling and tolerable.


The Delaware County Daily Times

Disney songs and more from the Chester Children's Chorus

July 26, 2011

Favorite Disney songs and R&B arrangements of familiar spirituals will be the highlights of the Chester Children's Chorus summer concerts, 8 p.m., Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30, in Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College.

"Everyone loves Disney and everyone loves R&B, so these concerts are for everyone," said chorus founder and director John Alston. The program will also include classical works by Haydn, Britten, and Di Lasso.

Admission is free and tickets are not required. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and close when seats are full.

The concerts are the culmination of the chorus' five week Summer Learning Program at Swarthmore College, where the130 chorus members spend mornings in choral rehearsal, vocal training and music education. Afternoons are devoted to dance, art, and academics.

Chorus members are boys and girls 8 to 17 years old, from every school and neighborhood in Chester, who are selected by audition for their musical potential. Most children spend five to 10 years in the chorus' year-round program, which includes two rehearsals each week during the school year. The chorus gives seven to 10 concerts a year in Chester, Swarthmore, on the Main Line, and elsewhere.

Now in its 17th year, the chorus receives financial support from individuals, foundations, faith communities, businesses, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Swarthmore College, where Dr. Alston is an associate professor of music, provides essential in-kind support including use of campus facilities for the Summer Learning Program and concerts.

More information about the chorus can be found at  


The Philadelphia Daily News

With his national exposure growing, might Nutter get Obama appointment?

By John Baer

July 25, 2011

MAYOR Nutter's grabbing some down time on vacation. I figure I'll seize the moment for speculation about his future.

Seems to me Hizzoner's headed into a second term (oh, he's not?) with a clear eye on pumping up his national profile.

And, yeah, he's already had high-end exposure on "Meet the Press," "Hardball," NBC's "Education Nation" and such, along with White House visits and attention on big-deal national issues.

Recently he put out a statement on the federal debt-ceiling fight, which is not, I imagine, a problem high on the list of most Philadelphians. And he's in line to be president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors next spring.

...Which raises questions: Might there be a spot for Nutter in (what I think will be) a second Obama administration, and is Nutter committed to serving a full, four-year second term as mayor?

I ask his communications director, Desiree Peterkin Bell, who says, "His focus is first on November."

...But if you're thinking, "Peterkin what?" you're not alone. She's Nutter's low-profile maestro of message, another factor in what strikes me as Nutter's expanding presence.

She directs, in her words, "the offense," the planning/delivery of the mayor's message of the day, week and month. Could be a focus on summer jobs; could be an "iPledge Campaign" with Clear Channel and others on duty to community. She directs such efforts "locally, regionally and nationally."
The emphasis is mine.

Bell is young, 33; started with Nutter last September at $150,000 (subject to a 5 percent pay cut), and carries interesting credentials.

A Brooklyn native, she's a Swarthmore grad with a master's in public policy from the Baruch School of Public Affairs, City University of New York. She was accepted to Yale Law, but after briefly working at a New York firm became disillusioned with the high-end practice and opted for public service. She's married, lives in Philly and has a 3-year-old daughter.

She downplays my theory of active image expansion, noting that Philly's size and Nutter's leadership in the mayors' conference draws attention anyway. But I think she's ducking, perhaps looking to avoid any chance she's seen as a national promoter paid with local tax dollars.

She previously worked for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, especially on his '02 indoor-smoking ban, and was Newark Mayor Cory Booker's communications chief prior to coming to Philly.

She doesn't mention it when we talk, but I later discover that she was a five-time NCAA Division III All-America in track and field at Swarthmore , for indoor/outdoor triple jump.

So she's experienced with national media and knows when to hop, skip and jump. Such assets are useful, whether managing message or pumping profile.


International Security

The Rubicon Theory of War;
How the Path to Conflict Reaches the Point of No Return

By Dominic D.P. Johnson and Dominic Tierney.

Dominic D.P. Johnson is Reader in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. Dominic Tierney is Associate Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College.

Summer 2011

A major paradox in international relations is the widespread fear and anxiety that underlies the security dilemma in times of peace and the prevalence of overconfidence or "false optimism" on the eve of war. A new theory of the causes of war--the Rubicon theory of war--can account for this paradox and explain important historical puzzles. The "Rubicon model of action phases," which was developed in experimental psychology, describes a significant shift in people's susceptibility to psychological biases before and after making a decision. Prior to making decisions, people tend to maintain a "deliberative" mind-set, weighing the costs, benefits, and risks of different options in a relatively impartial manner. By contrast, after making a decision, people tend to switch into an "implemental" mind-set that triggers a set of powerful psychological biases, including closed-mindedness, biased information processing, cognitive dissonance, self-serving evaluations, the illusion of control, and optimism. Together, these biases lead to significant overconfidence. The Rubicon theory of war applies this model to the realm of international conflict, where implemental mind-sets can narrow the range of bargaining options, promote overambitious war plans, and elevate the probability of war. (more)


New Straits Times (Malaysia)

25 Ivy League students learn to earn and give

By Elvina Fernandez

July 24, 2011

Kuala Lumpur: Twenty-five Malaysian students, who aspired to give back to the community while making money, participated in a social entrepreneurship talk at Balai Berita yesterday.

The students, who are on summer holidays, came from a number of top universities such as Cambridge, Yale and Brown University. They are also on internship programmes here.

The speaker, Tandem Fund chief operating officer Kal Joffres, said social entrepreneurship were businesses built not only to reap profits but to benefit the community while making money.

Participant Teh Min Sern, from Swarthmore College in the United States, said the Otak-Otak internship programme was a good platform to get exposure in the working world.

"It provides me with the opportunity to learn how the government and non-governmental organisations here work, and how we can help the underprivileged in collaborative efforts," said Teh, who is doing his internship at a bank here.

Teh said he was also looking out for social entrepreneurship opportunities to come back to once he graduates.

A member of the Otak-Otak team, Joyce Tagal, said the programme aimed to introduce the interns to options available out of their job scope.

"We want them to not only understand the local work landscape better, but hopefully be encouraged to return to Malaysia after their studies."...


St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)

Languages dying off around the globe

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

July 23, 2011

Ayapan, Mexico - Only two people on Earth are known to speak the Ayapanec language, Manuel Segovia and Isidro Velasquez, old men of few words who are somewhat indifferent to each other's company.

When Segovia and Velasquez die, their language also will go to the grave. It will mark the demise of a unique way of describing the lush landscape of southern Mexico, and thinking about the world.

Ayapanec isn't alone in its vulnerability. Some linguists say that languages are disappearing at the rate of two a month. Half of the world's remaining 7,000 or so languages may be gone by the end of this century, pushed into disuse by English, Spanish and other dominating languages.

The die-off has parallels to the extinction of animals. The death of a language, linguists say, robs humanity of ideas, belief systems and knowledge of the natural world. Languages are repositories of human experience that have evolved over centuries, even millennia.

"Languages are definitely more endangered than species, and are going extinct at a faster rate," said K. David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and the author of the book When Languages Die. "There are many hundreds of languages that have fewer than 50 speakers."

Hot spots for endangered languages may not be where you think. They include places such as Oklahoma, which holds the highest density of indigenous languages in the United States, partly because faraway tribes were forcibly relocated there in the 1800s; northern Australia, home to many small and scattered Aboriginal groups; and Central Siberia, which has 25 Turkic, Mongolic and other languages that face extinction. ...


The State (Columbia, SC)

Nickelodeon names new leader

By Otis R. Taylor Jr.

July 22, 2011

As the Nickelodeon Theatre enters the final stages of preparation to move into its new Main Street home, it will have a new person in charge.

Andy Smith was named executive director of the art house theater Tuesday evening by the Nick's board of directors. He replaces Larry Hembree, the Nick's director since 2005. Hembree will continue to raise money for the independent film theater's capital campaign, and he will direct special programming.

The leadership transition isn't surprising given that Smith, who studied film at Swarthmore College and UCLA, has a strong film background. Add that to the Nick's rising status in the film community and the changes the theater is undergoing internally and externally, the move was necessary.

"Pretty early on, Larry saw in me skills that the organization could really benefit from," said Smith, also an adjunct instructor in USC's film studies department. "It was a question of when we would do it. To best implement these changes, it was best to do it now."

In 2006, Smith, formerly the associate director, was hired and tasked with building a signature film festival. The Indie Grits Film Festival has grown into one of the

premier festivals in the Southeast. ...


US Federal News

Nicole Glaser Named To Dean's Professorship

July 22, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 22 -- The University of California issued the following press release:

Nicole Glaser, an internationally respected researcher on the effects of diabetes on children and youth, has been named to the Dean's Professorship in Childhood Diabetes Research at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

A pediatric endocrinologist, Glaser's wide-ranging research includes the nation's first prospective, nationwide, multi-site clinical study evaluating the effects of treatment protocols on neurological injuries caused by diabetic ketoacidosis, or "diabetic crisis."

..."For decades, pediatric endocrinologists and other pediatric specialists have debated the safest treatment protocol for diabetic ketoacidosis in children," Glaser said. "Despite decades of controversy, there are no clear data to support one method of treatment over another. This endowment will further my investigations and provide critical insights to resolve this issue and ensure that we are treating children with diabetic ketoacidosis in the safest way possible."

Glaser's research has been published extensively in high-impact medical journals, including the Journal of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Diabetes and the New England Journal of Medicine. Her work has transformed the treatment of children in diabetic crisis in emergency rooms worldwide.

"Nicole Glaser is a superb physician, scientist and medical educator whose groundbreaking investigations are improving the lives of children living with diabetes every day," said Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine. "The endowment of this professorship will further her innovative and vital research inquiries."

...Glaser graduated with distinction from Swarthmore College and cum laude from Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency in the Harvard program at Children's Hospital Boston and her fellowship at UC San Diego. She is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric endocrinology.  ...