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I’d rather have the comfort of a chocolate bar in the nuclear winter

January 21, 2008 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Financial Times (21 January 2008) I'd rather have the comfort of a chocolate bar in the nuclear winter Published: January 21 2008 02:00 | Last updated: January 21 2008 02:00 From Mr Kai L. Chan. Sir, The argument Chris Kniel sets forth (Letters, January 17) as to the intrinsic value of bullion-backed currency falls into a common fallacy that blinds gold bugs. The current system of fiat money does display inflationary bias, so no disagreement on that point.  However, to believe that gold has special value is pushing the argument. Gold-backed currency has less inflationary bias only insomuch as the supply of gold is limited and has a real cost of production (ie extraction).  If money were backed by salt, water, sand or whatever commodity one desires, it would have the same anti-inflationary effect.  The only special qualities for gold are its relative scarcity and high cost of extraction.  In that case, uranium would probably serve as an even better storage of value and be less prone to debasement, a common flaw of gold coinage. Personally, I'd still rather have my currency backed by chocolate bars.  In the case of a worldwide catastrophe – such as a…

Be careful with removal of assistant master positions

September 15, 2006 Articles, Letters
By Daily Princetonian Staff Published: Friday, September 15th, 2006 Be careful with removal of assistant master positions Regarding 'RCAs debate removal of assistant master position' (Friday, May 19, 2006): I read the article about the abolition of the assistant master position with a sad heart.  I served as assistant master at Butler College in 2002-03. In my short tenure there, I made many friends and worked with an exceptionally bright group of undergraduates.  Though having served definitely delayed my academic progression, I have no regrets about my choice.  As for my duties, it wasn't so much that my presence in Butler enriched the students' lives; rather I was fortunate enough to have learned many things from people more junior than I. Giving more graduate students the chance to interact with the wider college community is to be lauded, but I hope that the diminished responsibilities with the new graduate positions do not lessen the scope for interaction.  After all, it was the fact that the position consumed so much of my time that made it special. The group of shy 18-year-olds that I met in September 2002 have now left the orange bubble — good luck in your new endeavors!…

The graduate student’s long march

December 1, 2005 Articles, Princeton writings
Students of English literature might be acquainted with Alan Sillitoe's classic novel, "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner."  In that story, the protagonist, Smith, gains relief from his chaotic schedule in a well-heeled boarding school and time to muse about life in his daily runs.  As a runner myself — having competed in track and field, cross-country and marathons — I empathize with Smith. One of the simple pleasures of long-distance running is the seclusion that Sillitoe notes.  The solitude of running provides an opportunity to appreciate, inter alia, the beauty of the sun setting over rolling hills while hearing the sound of leaves crunching under one's feet.  However, sometimes the solitude is simply lonesome. This is why I sometimes think that Sillitoe was in fact writing about the doctoral adventure.  The Ph.D. is a very lonely pursuit, and it goes without saying that it is a long race, metaphorically speaking.  (The median time from matriculation to receiving a Ph.D. is 6.0 years.)  And the isolation of the Princeton graduate experience has given me an epiphany about life: It really is stranger than fiction. Though I don't run on the beach, I often imagine leaving tracks in the sand…

Hunger Banquet sends wrong message

November 17, 2005 Articles, Letters
By Daily Princetonian Staff Published: Thursday, November 17th, 2005 Hunger Banquet sends wrong message Regarding 'Lobster, steak and plain white rice' (Tuesday, November 15, 2005): This article gave me an unsettling feeling in my stomach.  As a person who ate "plain white rice" for many years in the parlance of the article (I ate chicken bones and rotten vegetables tossed away by local grocers), I must admit I felt uneasy about how the SVC chose to raise awareness of this matter.  For one, I am not sure how much awareness is really brought to the problem, and surely empathy is not on the menu as participants know that after the meal they can resume with their regular lives.  I certainly didn't have the option of walking away from the "plain white rice" dinner when I was growing up in poverty.  Secondly, one of the hardships of eating "plain white rice" is the loss of dignity that cannot be captured in a smug gesture.  Although the event was rooted in good intentions, as a person with a perspective growing up in poverty I found it condescending and bordering on mocking, especially given that this is the same school that hosted Ralph…

The joys of adding insects to your daily diet

The food options at Princeton are rather threadbare:  The dining halls serve the same things day after day; Frist is simply atrocious; and the so-called eating clubs are places where I shudder to dine — but I'm happy to mooch a meal there if you care to invite me.  So what's a person in this one-tiger town to do if she's looking for a gastronomic adventure?  Before you shout "Go to Burger King!" let me say, "B.K. R.I.P."  Thus, we are left to grovel at the feet of the administration for a tastier menu selection. So what would I place on the menu?  Here's my idea:  I suggest that we start serving insects.  Think about it.  Remember all those cicadas from last year?  Well, if people would open up their minds — and stomachs — instead of viewing the swathes of cicadas as some biblical-proportion plague, one would instead see a smorgasbord of asparagus on wings (yes, they taste like asparagus).  And what a delicacy they are — they only come around once every 17 years! You can also take pride, when munching on a bug, in knowing that you are helping to control the pest population.  Plus, you'll never…




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