Tagged: Harvard

Son of Dan Falvey

When Dan Falvey, teaching assistant and journeyman Halifax bar server, died far too young last June, an exceptional outpouring of grief and affection marked the event.

I never saw Dan in a school setting, but he served me many times. He was simply superb at a job that is too often under-appreciated for both difficulty and impact. Writing in the Coast, Tim Bousquet described him as “hands-down the most energetic server imaginable.”

Dan carried out all the basics with exemplary grace, and he was also wickedly funny. You looked forward to his visits to your table, because his dry, dead-pan humor, coupled with exquisite comic timing, invariably left you smiling and chuckling. What only occurred to me after he died is that his humor always carried a point: he was making a small but shrewd observation about himself, or you, your mates, other people in the restaurant, the restaurant staff, or the restaurant’s management. Or life in general. I miss him very much.

Dan’s energy was the more amazing because waiting tables was always his second job. When he clocked in to begin his whirling dervish service at Bearly’s each evening, he had generally already pulled a full shift helping students at Central Spryfield School.

Dan and Oliver

Dan’s closest friends knew he worked two jobs to afford his children, Oliver and Abigail, the very best educational opportunities available—at private schools and ballet academies. That’s Dan and his kids in the photo.

Over the last few weeks, Dan Falvey’s dedication paid off in a way that would have filled him with pride. Oliver received letters of acceptance from both Harvard and Princeton. He travels to Cambridge next weekend to begin the enviable task of choosing between the two.

Oliver didn’t have any Harvard or Princeton alumni among his ancestors. He didn’t come from a region that regularly exports its best high school grads to the ivy league. His guidance counselor had no special drag with Harvard or Princeton. But Oliver had talent, a work ethic, and a role model that would be the envy of any family. I wish him the very best.

Bottled water ban feedback — Walden Pond division


Contrarian’s friend Gus writes:

In my younger days I used to live in Concord, where the Contrarian spirit runs deep (and perhaps was born). Bronson Alcott, who would not wear wool because it was stolen from sheep, would have recruited Louisa May to the cause. I remain interested in the bruising local politics of these places – it would have been fun to listen to the arguments about P.E.T. bottles at town meeting. Since half the town are M.I.T professors, the lines would have been sharply drawn. The other half, Harvard professors, would have spoken at length and contributed nothing to the discussion. Doris Kearns Goodwin would have told what Lincoln would have done.

Solid waste always figures high in budgetary priorities. Part of the charm of living in a New England town in the days before recycling was the obligatory trip to the dump on Saturday. A dump sticker being required, it was by nature an exclusive activity. In the days before gated communities, it was a social event of significance. Tales were swapped, acquaintances renewed and business transacted. The father of one of my friends would time his visits to coincide with the arrival of the town doctor, so he could get free medical advice. Teens took their dates to the dump to shoot rats (gun culture!).

The Concord dump is immediately adjacent to Walden Pond State Reservation and would be worth a visit, except it is now closed to the public. Concord presently has a fee-based curbside pickup program, and the trash probably goes directly to a regional incinerator/recycle center. As an aside, it would be an interesting project to map the location of the dump in every Massachusetts town. You would find that the dump is typically hard up against the boundary of the neighboring town which is the traditional sports rival. In this case, it is the town of Lincoln. The Lincoln dump is practically in the town of Bedford. There is a hierarchy.

I remember the first appearance of Poland Spring bottled water (in the 1980s?) and being puzzled about the economics of the business. So you pay a dollar for a bottle of something from Maine that the bottler gets for free. You can also get the same stuff for free, right in the kitchen. Why would you pay? Then Perrier got popular, then Dasani. I do believe that water will soon be a scarce resource, so the hint that the controversy in Concord might be about the privatization of water was intriguing. Alas, it doesn’t seem to be, since every other bottled or canned water-based liquid has escaped banishment. Coke, Gatorade and Canada Dry are certainly more than 99% water.

Anyone who pays a dollar for water is committing at least two of the seven sins and will be held to account. It is a folly at least as grievous as putting nitrogen in your tires for $5 each. The free air at the Irving station is 78% nitrogen, and the science of nitrogen inflation is right up there with creationism. Anyone who takes the lessons of The Gods Must Be Crazy to heart will understand.

For convenience, the safety of unbreakability, the ability to freeze the contents for transport to the beach (global warming must be really advanced in Boulardrie) and the status accruing to branded water consumers, Contrarian is permitted to continue his present pattern of use of P.E.T. bottles.

For failing to correctly identify the principal errors in the sale of bottled water – waste and extravagance – the town of Concord is hereby sentenced to recite the sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson.


The online NS journal that breaks all the net’s rules

Harvard’s prestigious Nieman Foundation for Journalism has cast its discerning eye on a Nova Scotia online journal that succeeds while disdaining all the internet rules:

How a tightly paywalled, social-media-ignoring, anti-copy-paste, gossipy news site became a dominant force in Nova Scotia

Every morning, the business and political elite in the biggest province on Canada’s East Coast turns to an unlikely source of information about their own world.

Among all the online news organizations trying to find a way to profitability, consider AllNovaScotia.com, which has just celebrated 10 years online and now challenges its historic print rival for the attention of the province’s leaders.

It’s done that by not following the rules: It has a nearly impenetrable paywall, no social media presence, no multimedia, and only rare use of links. It doesn’t cover crime and barely covers sports and entertainment.

It is astounding that AllNS has succeeded so throughly while flouting so many Internet conventions—astounding, and often irritating. I wish it were less paywalled and more open to the sociable aspects of the web that seem to me enlivening and enriching. But this is a position publisher David Bentley and his editor-daughter Caroline Woods view with ill-disguised contempt.

it’s hard to argue with the results. AllNovaScotia doesn’t prove that other models can’t work on the internet, but it affirms something at least as ennobling: that there can be a profitable market for dogged, meaty reporting.

Commenter Gavin Anderegg shares my irritation at the deliberate impediments to sharing, but adds:

I was missing the point while focusing the platform. This site wasn’t for me. Sure they could fix these issues (and probably should), but all everyone else cared about was the content. And for such an aged looking site that doesn’t care about social media, AllNovaScotia beats Twitter to the punch when delivering certain types of local news.

After a while I started to understand: people are willing to pay read well written, properly investigated, and timely content. This is especially true when you can identify a niche group and write specifically for them.

Content comes first at AllNovaScotia. That’s the key.

The 1,700-word piece is written by King’s journalism professor Tim Currie and [disclosure] briefly quotes Contrarian.

J. K. Galbraith’s post-mortem sex advice for Yalies

Yale University has banned all sexual relationships between faculty and students. According to the Yale Alumni Magazine, the new rule extends a previous ban that applied only when the faculty member had “direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities” over the student. Now all undergrads are off limits.

Yale is a bit slow clambering aboard the sex panic bandwagon. When Dean Henry Rosovsky sought to impose a similar rule at Harvard in 1983, Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith reacted with a confession:

Kitty and Ken Galbraith: Wayward couple

Kitty and Ken Galbraith, wayward couple

Just over forty-five years ago, already a well-fledged member of the Harvard faculty on a three-year appointment, I fell in love with a young female student. It was not in an instructional context; however, non-instructional amour is a “situation” against which you also warn. A not wholly unpredictable consequence of this lapse from faculty and professional decorum, as now required, was that we were married. So, and even happily, we have remained. But now my distress. As a senior member of this community, I am acutely conscious of my need to be an example for our younger and possibly more ardent members of the faculty. I must do everything possible to retrieve my error. My wife, needly to say, shares my concern. What would you advise?

In reply, Rosovsky had the wit to suggest that Galbraith consider endowing a chair as penance.