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The Week In Brief

Tercentennial office will help plan Spring Fling

Those who have lamented the less than stellar band selections for Spring Flings of years past may have a reason to get their hopes up this year. For the first time, the Yale College Council (YCC) is receiving outside help from a source that might provide much-needed funds—the Tercentennial Committee.

Spring Fling, held each year during Yale's spring semester reading week, has traditionally been coordinated entirely by the YCC and bankrolled by a private fund from the President's Office. In honor of the University's 300th birthday, however, the Tercentennial Committee decided to play a part in organizing the event.

The level of the committee's participation remains unclear. "We really don't know anything about the committee's involvement at this point," YCC President Libby Smiley, JE '02, said. But Eric Moffit, director of communications for the Tercentennial Office, confirmed that his committee is helping with planning. He maintained, however, that the YCC would maintain ultimate control. "We are certainly assisting the YCC to make the event a big success this year, but it is not `our' event," Moffit said. President Richard Levin, GRD '74, agreed. "It's totally a YCC event," he said.

Though what exactly this will mean for the event also has yet to be determined, Levin did allow that "because of the Tercentennial, we're really making an effort to get a great band."

—Anna Arkin-Gallagher


Project helps families learn about cancer

In an age when "knowledge is power" is chanted like a mantra, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has given $195,000 to the New England Region Cancer Information Service (CIS) at the Yale Cancer Center for its project to provide access to information about cancer to low-income families.

Recent research conducted by the NCI showed that more than 22 million adults in the U.S. get health and medical information on the Internet. Yet the progress made in the use of technology for cancer-related communications is lost on segments of the population that don't have access to computers. CIS's undertaking, called Projects to Overcome the Digital Divide (PRODD) seeks to make technology more easily accessible while studying the way information about cancer is communicated on the Internet.

The NCI funding will allow for the creation of two Community Technology Centers in New Haven. Though the centers will be open to the public, they will start by working specifically with parents of children enrolled in Head Start, the federal development program for low-income children. A training course will teach computer basics to Head Start parents. Upon completion of the six-hour course, families will receive a refurbished Internet-ready computer for free.

Peter Salovey, chair of the psychology department and professor of epidemiology and public health, will lead the program along with Linda Mowad, director of CIS. Salovey stressed that this is a new type of research project with new priorities. "I think we will have developed two community technology centers that will be sustained in the city of New Haven even when the research part of this is over," he said. "I live in this community. I want to give back."

—Kate Heinzleman


New program to perfect the polling process

Targeting "pointy-headed poll watchers," Yale political science professors Donald Green and Alan Gerber and statistics graduate student Jay Emerson, GRD '00, have developed a new program to provide more accurate information about election polls. Samplemiser—which can be used at www.samplemiser.com—filters out polling errors caused by opinion change and random sampling inconsistencies.

"I was amazed at the volatility of election polls," Green said. "It interested me that the small size of respondent pools could cause the results to bounce so much." Gerber, having worked for a polling firm in Washington D.C., wanted to find "the best way statistically to use polling information."

Samplemiser, according to Green, is for people "who like to dig into numbers. It is for someone who understands sampling error and who has taken at least a semester of statistics." But "it's still pretty easy to use," he said.

The program uses Kalman filtering, a method that has never been used before in analyzing polling data. According to Gerber, it heralds a new age in election polling. "In the future, `Kalman filtering will be used as opposed to rolling averages." Green agreed. "Within 10 to 15 years, all tracking polls will resemble this general approach."

So with their polling expertise, who do Green and Gerber think will win the presidential election? "It's too close to call," Green said. "Bush's lead isn't as big as it looks," Gerber added. "The race is very, very close."

—Alexis Swerdloff


Grad students organize pro-Palestinian vigil

"We mourn Palestinian children killed by U.S. guns," read a large poster that was hung in Beinecke Plaza this week as part of a vigil to protest the violence currently going on in the Middle East. Colorful cutouts of children were suspended next to the poster, giving the names and ages of children who have been killed in the conflict.

The vigil was organized by a group of graduate students who wanted to educate the Yale population about the situation in the Middle East. We were hoping something would happen, but when we saw that none of the on-campus groups were doing anything, we decided to organize this vigil ourselves," Amina Steinfels, GRD '01, said.

The protesters who gathered hoped to "spur education and debate on the issue by maintaining a visual presence on campus," according to Anita Seth, GRD '05, another one of the event organizers. The organizers also handed out packets prepared by Stephen Vella, GRD '03, with information on the United States and Israel's involvement in the violence in the Middle East.

Despite the group's potentially controversial pro-Palestinian stance, the vigil has not been criticized by any pro-Israeli groups, one of which organized an event defending some of Israel's actions in the Middle East just last week.

"There really has been only positive feedback, and this support has led us to hope that we'll be able to continue the vigil in the upcoming weeks," Steinfels said. —Anna Arkin-Gallagher


DAVID GEST/YH
President Richard Levin, GRD '74, and Adrian 'Eli Hunt' Slywotzky, JE '02, at the YSO Halloween Show, spray the audience with an 'antidote' to the 'Britmania' virus.


HEARD


"Wassup?!"

President Richard Levin


"Wassup?!"

Dean Richard Brodhead


"Wassup?!"

Dean Betty Trachtenberg


"Wassup?!"

Professor Vincent Scully


Around The Globe

When pigs fly

"We can confirm that a pig traveled. We can confirm that it will never happen again," US Airways spokesman David Castelveter said of a pig that flew first class on a six hour flight from Philadelphia to Seattle. The hog's owners, two unidentified women, told airline officials that they had a doctor's note, claiming the pig was a companion pet, like a seeing-eye dog. The animal became excited mid-flight and started to squeal and run through the cabin. "People were upset about the large pig on board," an incident report stated. The pig had no comment about the quality of service on US Air.

Imaginary balls

Finland's Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen unexpectedly took part in a circus act in Helsinki last weekend. A Swiss clown in the Sirkus Finlandia chose Lipponen to stand a short distance away while he fired imaginary golf balls into the prime minister's mouth. The prime minister complied, reportedly keeping his mouth ajar very convincingly. As the crowd delighted with his performance, the prime minister acknowledged that he had practice in the field. "My job often entails having balls in my mouth," he said.

Edenic cheeseburgers

Members of Jimmy Buffett's Island Parrothead Club will soon have a new way to show their support for the singer. Buffett will be opening an island-themed eatery named for one of his most famous songs, "Cheeseburger in Paradise." The restaurant is expected to open next year but the location is not yet selected. "A lot of people are going to roll their eyes, but that doesn't mean I won't go there, especially if he can make a good cheeseburger," said one member of the Parrothead Club.

—Compiled by Becky Medellin.


YALE INDEX

1. Total number of Yale presidents:22
2. Total number of U.S. presidents:42
3. Total number of Yalies who have been U.S. president:4
4. Number of secretaries in the office of President Levin:1
5. Number of secret secretaries of President Levin:1
6. Number of secretaries of the U.S. presidency:14
7. Number of U.S. presidents with the nickname Tricky Dick:1
8. Number of current Yale presidents who could be called Tricky Dick:1
9. Number of vice presidents who couldn't spell the word potato:1
10. Number of Yale presidents who invented the dictionary:1
11. Number of people, in illegal immigrants, it will take to complete Buchanan's Great Wall of the Rio Grande:300,000
12. Number of SAS activists, in protesters per worker, it will take to persuade Levin to switch from the FLA to the WRC:300,000
13. Number of people who know the name of Nader's running mate:0
14. Number of Gore children who attended Harvard:3
15. Number of Greek letters branded onto Dubya's bum:3

2,6,7,9,10) History taught me so; 1,3,13,14) The college Dems told me so; 4,5,8,11, 12) SAS online 15) Let's just say it wasn't a pretty sight —Compiled by Leslie Cozzi

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