For the Princeton Band, a Friendly Face in the Cockpit

(Courtesy Carolyn Havens Niemann ’89)

(Courtesy Carolyn Havens Niemann ’89)

When the Princeton University Band flew home from the football team’s home opener in San Diego yesterday, the men and women in plaid found a friendly face in the cockpit for their cross-country leg from Los Angeles to Newark: Michael Niemann ’90, a pilot for United Airlines and former member of the band. He’s pictured above next to drum major Mary Gilstad ’15.

The flight assignment was a happy coincidence Niemann, who met his wife, Carolyn Havens Niemann ’89, when the two were in the band’s trash percussion section in 1986. Thanks to Carolyn for sharing the photo.

Princeton Football Shows Room to Improve After Opening Loss

Tiger fans don’t need to panic after the football team lost its season opener to San Diego — last year’s 8-2 season, after all, began with a loss. But the team has much to learn from the 39-29 result.

Bad news first: Princeton’s defense let up some explosive plays. The Toreros scored on passes of 29 and 48 yards, and that’s not to mention quarterback Keith Williams’ 82-yard completion to Reggie Bell, which took San Diego from its own 7 to Princeton’s 11 yard line, setting up the first touchdown of the game.

Receiver Seth DeValve caught nine passes for 123 yards in Princeton’s loss to San Diego Sept. 20 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Receiver Seth DeValve caught nine passes for 123 yards in Princeton’s loss to San Diego Sept. 20 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Khamal Brown ’16 had two tackles in his first game since 2012 and Matt Arends ’15 was in on five, one for a loss, but overall it was a disappointing day for Princeton’s defensive backfield. Linebacker Mike Zeuli ’15 led the team with eight tackles and recorded the Tigers’ only two sacks, but his teammates could not keep up the pressure he put on Williams. The worst fears about the defense seemed to be realized: Without Caraun Reid ’14 to terrify the quarterback, Princeton’s opponent was free to carve up the defensive backfield.

The offense got off to a slow start as well. Quinn Epperly ’15, whose completion percentage is usually not a concern, went 25 of 53, throwing two touchdowns but also two interceptions. He was sacked twice, canceling out his 15 yards rushing, although he did score a touchdown on the ground. Epperly by no means had a bad game, but San Diego was able to disrupt his much-lauded rhythm in a way that few teams have in the past. Continue reading

Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State, by Robert Wuthnow

Princeton professor Robert Wuthnow

Princeton professor Robert Wuthnow

The book: From its lingering legacies of slavery and segregation to the rise of the Tea Party, Texas has a history that mirrors the story of America. Rough Country examines — through the stories of ordinary men and women — the intersection of religion, race, and politics in the Lone Star state, from Reconstruction to Gov. Rick Perry’s failed bid for president. The author explores the decisive role of religion in Texas, where more evangelicals live than any other state, and the way in which religion has been complicated by race and ethnicity.

The author: Robert Wuthnow is a professor of social sciences and sociology at Princeton and director of the Center for the Study of Religion. Widely known for his work on the sociology of religion, he is the author of Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future and Red State Religion.

wuthnow book coverOpening lines: “On Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1869, a well-respected businessman named B.W. Loveland failed to show up for the 7 p.m. meeting of the Lone State Odd Fellows lodge of which he was a member. Loveland operated a grocery store one block from Main Street in the heart of the city, only a few doors from the present-day site of Christ Church Cathedral and the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Houston. He was a quiet, unassuming man, a Confederate veteran who attended lodge and church meetings faithfully. And that made his absence puzzling. In fact, just that afternoon he had mentioned to a fellow member his intention of being present at the meeting. When his store remained closed the next day, a neighbor looked through the window and saw his body on the floor near the cash register. Someone had crushed his skull with a fatal blow to the back of his head.” Continue reading

#ThrowbackThursday: Princeton Rugby, 1964

rugby-coverSaturday marks the final opening day of Princeton’s fall sports season as the Tiger football team kicks off its 2014 schedule at San Diego. On campus, a pair of varsity teams will be competing (men’s tennis, field hockey), along with club sports, including men’s and women’s rugby.

Rugby is among the University’s longest-running club teams, with more than 80 consecutive years of competition on the men’s side. PAW’s May 19, 1964, cover featured this action shot of the Princeton ruggers, left, in action against the New York Rugby Club, which won the match, 8-6. Later that year, a Daily Princetonian article described the ethos of the Tiger team:

“Rugby at Princeton is a sport for gentlemen,” wrote Chris Jones ’67. “It has to be. If it didn’t have a fairly high level of sportsmanship, nobody would be able to even crawl away from this bruising game. It is rather ungentlemanly cruelty to beat the brains out of a man you’re going to be drinking with in the beer party that the home team always gives for its opponents right after the game.”

Tiger of the Week: MacArthur Fellow Jonathan Rapping *92

Jonathan Rapping *92 (Courtesy the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Jonathan Rapping *92 (Courtesy the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Lawyer Jonathan Rapping *92 and his wife, Ilham Askia, two leading advocates of legal defense for the poor, created the Atlanta-based organization Gideon’s Promise to train and support public defenders. (The name comes from Gideon v. Wainwright, the 1963 Supreme Court case that required state courts to provide counsel to defendants who are unable to afford an attorney.) Since the group’s founding in 2007, it has grown to include a community of 300 attorneys, and Rapping’s work has been featured in the award-winning documentary film Gideon’s Army.

This week, Gideon’s Promise received an additional boost when Rapping was chosen as a 2014 MacArthur fellow, an honor that comes with a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend, paid out over five years. Popularly known as the “genius grant,” the award is given to “exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future,” according to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has selected more than 900 fellows since the program began in 1981.

Rapping, a Woodrow Wilson School MPA graduate who subsequently completed law school at George Washington University, is one of four fellows honored for their work “to address persistent social challenges.” He also serves as an associate professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Rapping told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he sees public defense as civil rights work for the current generation of lawyers. “I’ve met passionate defenders who entered the legal profession for the right reasons, and the system beat the passion out of them,” Rapping said. “So my wife and I started an organization, a supportive community of lawyers who are working to force the system to live up to its highest ideals.” As for the money, he told the newspaper that it would help Gideon’s Promise “keep the doors open,” which can be an annual challenge for nonprofits. Continue reading

Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe, by Alan Hirshfeld ’73

Alan Hirshfeld '73

Alan Hirshfeld ’73

The book: A cadre of 19th-century amateur astronomers and inventors played a significant role in the birth of modern astronomy. In Starlight Detectives, Hirshfeld reveals the stories of those ambitious dreamers, among them William Bond, who turned his home into a functional observatory, and a father and son who were trailblazers in astrophotography. The tales Hirshfeld recounts reveal the persistence and imagination required for scientific progress.

The author: Hirshfeld, who has written several books about scientific discoveries, is a professor of physics at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and an associate of the Harvard College Observatory. Continue reading