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The Sound of Silence

(10/25/17 6:40am)

Noises can be readily identified as pleasant or unpleasant. For me, the sound of raindrops on my window is pleasant, while the sound of nails scraping against a chalkboard is decidedly unpleasant. These evaluations are made possible by complex chemical pathways in my brain that convert sensory stimuli into nuanced physical and affective responses. But how do we respond to an absence of stimuli? What if there are no sound waves to press against our ear drums?

Scripting a Nation: Behind Political Speechwriting

(09/27/17 6:40am)

Politicians must be bidialectal. They must switch between the realm of policy — of painstaking minutia and predicted impact — and the realm of the public — of pithy statements and pretty words. To make this switch, they rely on the assistance of speechwriters, people paid to distill inherently abstract and unattractive concepts into effortlessly digestible statements.

The College on the (Northeastern) Hill

(09/13/17 6:30am)

When I first came to Dartmouth, I encountered the typical unknowns: what I wanted to study, how to schedule a meeting with my dean, how to do my laundry, how to order pasta at Collis. But I also found myself confused by unspoken rules that most of my peers seemed to have understood since birth. I didn’t know that some people said “the South” with a sour taste in their mouths. I didn’t know that “ma’am’s” and “sirs,” which slip from my lips without thought, are often considered antiquated and unusual rather than expected and polite. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be impressed when I heard the name “Choate.”

Level footing: the professor-student dynamic

(05/10/17 6:30am)

In season five, episode one of “How I Met Your Mother,” Ted Mosby is nervous before his first day of teaching class as a professor. His friend Barney Stinson advises him to refuse questions on the first day of class, asserting that Ted needs to clearly define his relationship with his students. Barney says, “You’re their teacher, not their friend.” The director of the television series used this anecdote to parallel Barney and Robin’s struggle to define their own relationship, but it also nicely illustrates a dilemma that every professor faces: What kind of classroom does he want to run?

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