MATT WAGE ’12 was featured in Nicholas Kristof’s opinion column in The New York Times as the titular “Trader Who Donates Half His Pay.” Wage, who was a philosophy major at Princeton and a student of moral philosopher Peter Singer, is now an arbitrage trader who donates half his income to charity. Wage’s efforts are an example of “effective altruism,” a movement championed by Singer that encourages people to consider all the ways they can make a positive difference and choose the one with maximum impact.
Emeritus professor TONI MORRISON is the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile that starts in the century-old barn that is now the studio where Morrison recorded the audiobooks for her latest novel, God Help the Child, and delves into her life and vision as an editor and writer.
At the 38th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, DAN FEYER ’99 took first place after beating his opponent and fellow crossword champion Tyler Hinman by a half-second. Both Feyer and Hinman had previously won five consecutive titles at the tournament, which was founded in 1978 by New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz. Continue reading
Sen. Ted Cruz ’92 (U.S. Senate portrait)
Shortly after midnight on Monday, Texas senator TED CRUZ ’92 announced on Twitter that he is running for president in 2016. He delivered a formal speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. on Monday and is the first candidate to officially enter the race. In an op-ed for CNN, professor of history and public affairs JULIAN ZELIZER analyzed Cruz’s chances by comparing his campaign to that of Barry Goldwater, the Republican senator from Arizona who ran against Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Johnson became president after defeating Goldwater, whose extremism “scared off” voters in solidly Republican states and helped Johnson win a landslide victory. MARC FISHER ’80 of The Washington Post also wrote about Cruz in a feature story that includes a look at the candidate’s Princeton years.
Creative writing professor CHANG-RAE LEE spoke at the annual Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, where he discussed his latest novel, On Such a Full Sea, with Edward Wong of the New York Times’ Sinosphere Blog. Lee answers questions about the dystopian nature of the novel, which is set in a future where Baltimore has become B-Mor, a city of transplanted Chinese laborers; his research trip to a factory in Shenzhen, China; and the roles that environmental issues and immigration play in his narrative. Continue reading
Christopher Hart ’69 *71 (NTSB)
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved CHRISTOPHER HART ’69 *71 as the new chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) March 12. Hart, a lawyer whose past work includes stints at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, joined the NTSB in 2009 and has been serving in its top job on an interim basis since April 2014.
Filmmaker ANDREW JARECKI ’85’s latest project, the HBO series The Jinx, made headlines when the documentary’s subject, murder suspect Robert Durst, was arrested on Saturday. Durst apparently confessed to three murders while speaking to himself on microphone during a bathroom break in one of Jarecki’s interview sessions. In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, Jarecki recalled the first time that he and his partners listened to the audio, saying it “was so chilling to hear it.” Continue reading
Rep. Terri Sewell ’86, third from right, took part in the March 7 Selma commemoration with President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In a piece for the Washington Post, style writer Krissah Thompson followed Rep. TERRI SEWELL ’86, D-Ala., to her hometown of Selma. Sewell and her family and friends reflected on the city’s historic significance and the way Selma has faltered in the years since Sewell graduated as a debate champion from the city’s fully integrated public high school — now effectively resegregated and without the celebrated debate team. “We need to live Selma and know that the assaults of the past are here again,” Sewell said during an address delivered at Selma’s Brown Chapel A.M.E. “Old battles are here again.”
Author PETER HESSLER ’92 wrote in The New Yorker about his experience traveling on a publicity tour in Beijing with the Chinese censor of his books. The story goes on to consider more broadly his experience as an American author writing about China, and the role of his Chinese translators — whose censorship, he says, is a sort of “defensive” censorship intended to circumvent entirely any negative attention from officials. Of recent articles that are critical of American writers who accept manuscript changes so that they can publish in China, Hessler writes, “The articles tend to take a narrowly Western perspective. … This was one reason I went on the tour — I figured that the best way to understand censorship is to spend a week with your censor.”
For 15 years, Sepp Blatter has been president of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer. Now, as FIFA’s reputation continues to spiral downward, Blatter faces a number of potential challengers in the next election. One of them is Prince ALI BIN AL HUSSEIN ’99 of Jordan. In an interview with The New York Times, Prince Ali called for more transparency, more collaborative decision-making, and more financial accountability to FIFA’s member nations. Continue reading
Princeton Dean Valerie Smith will be Swarthmore’s next president. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)
Dean of the College VALERIE SMITH was named the 15th president of Swarthmore College on Feb. 21. She will be Swarthmore’s first African American president, as well as its second female president. At Princeton, Smith was also the founding director of the Center for American Studies and is currently the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and a professor of English and African American Studies. She will begin her duties at Swarthmore on July 1. In a Philadephia Inquirer interview, Gil Kemp, chair of Swarthmore’s board of trustees, said of Smith, “I think this is a marvelous fit … Her awareness of our distinctive competence, focus on academic rigor, commitment to the common good — it’s a marvelous confluence.”
In an op-ed for CNN.com, New America Foundation Strategist and Senior Fellow PETER W. SINGER ’97 writes about the rise of the robot in modern warfare. As robots become increasingly more automated, he explains, debates over their place in battle have become more complicated. He concludes, however, that “one thing is clear: Like the present, the future of war will be robotic.”
Former Tennessee senator BILL FRIST ’74 and former Georgia representative JIM MARSHALL ’72 penned a Washington Post op-ed about their suggested reforms to the Veterans Health Administration. Their piece coincided with the release of a report by the Fixing Veterans Health Care task force, of which Frist and Marshall are co-chairs. Continue reading
Kip Thorne *65 (Courtesy Keenan Pepper, via Wikipedia)
At the Academy Awards ceremony, Interstellar visual effects supervisor Andrew Lockley, who accepted the Oscar for visual effects, praised alumnus KIP THORNE *65 as “one of the smartest people on Earth.” Thorne, a physicist at Caltech, served as the scientific consultant (and an executive producer) for the film, which was featured in the inaugural PAW Goes to the Movies column. Thorne’s involvement with the film began eight years ago, when he and producer Lynda Obst started working on a treatment in which “all the wild speculation would spring from science, not just the fertile mind of a screenwriter,” according to Deadline.com.
Oscar Best Picture nominee The Imitation Game highlights ALAN TURING *38 and his contributions as a World War II codebreaker. But Freeman Dyson tells Joel Achenbach ’82 of The Washington Post that the film overlooks Turing’s greatest contribution: “He invented the idea of software, essentially.”
Last week, Princeton received an extraordinary collection of rare books and manuscripts from the late WILLAM H. SCHEIDE ’36, who died in November 2014. Valued at nearly $300 million, the collection includes a Gutenberg Bible, an original printing of the Declaration of Independence, and notable musical manuscripts by Bach and Beethoven. The New York Times article about the gift cited a 2009 PAW story in which Scheide talked about smelling his books as “one way of getting acquainted.”
Former Massachusetts state treasurer STEVE GROSSMAN ’67 and Harvard Business School professor MICHAEL PORTER ’69 are teaming up at a nonprofit that aims to address income inequality by helping urban businesses grow, The Boston Globe reports. Grossman said he decided to take the new job at the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City because “this is where you can change people’s lives.”