IN PRINT: Mario Vargas Llosa keeps his eye on teaching

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You might have heard Mario Vargas Llosa, Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing for the Lewis Center, won the Nobel Prize in Literature a few weeks ago. So you’d think, hey, guy’s a big deal, probably wants to get out a place like Princeton.

Nope. Vargas Llosa still happily gets up at 5:30 a.m., boards NJTransit in Manhattan, and commits himself to a “Kafkaesque commute” to our collegiate hamlet.

Nobel Prize winner, novelist and playwright, Peruvian presidential candidate, rival (and physical aggressor) of novelist Gabriel Garcia Márquez — Vargas Llosa’s a lot of things. Add “great Princeton professor” to that.

Read more at the New York Times.

Thought you had a bad week?

Yeah, midterms have come and gone, and they hit some of us hard (I currently am watching a passed out underclassman drool on a table littered with sheets of math in Frist). Can you imagine what it’s like in the real world, though? More specifically, in the political world?

Take note all you Woody Woo majors: it gets worse!

...then CA was like, meh

...then CA was like, 'meh'

  • The cherry on top of Meg’s campaign? At least she’s kind of like, the female “Governator,” or at least according to this attack ad running now.

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Spotted: Saving you from Damnation, If Not from Midterms

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Looking for a way to survive midterms? Maybe Eternal Salvation’s your best bet…at least to hear the evangelicals out by Woody Woo Fountain with their boxes of free Scripture talk about it this morning.

Apparently they’ve also been politely prosthelytizing to Forbesians out by the Dinky this week.  I’ll give them this: their lime green pocket-sized Bibles are pretty darn snazzy.

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21 Questions With … Luchi Mmegwa


Princeton PrideName: Luchi Mmegwa
Age: 17
Major: Undecided, maybe politics/economics?
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria (But I’ve lived in Accra, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta)
Eating Club/Residential College/Affiliation: Rocky!!!

What was your initial reaction after winning the election?
I was ecstatic, I jumped and screamed, all in my boxers as I had just gotten out of bed.

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
General David Petraeus.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
Braised lamb shanks.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
I meet people, work, and wish I worked out that day.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?

In 10 words or less, what are your plans as freshman class president?
Get people free stuff, plan cool events, make frosh happy.

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IN PRINT: What’s the difference between the township and borough?

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Have no idea? Well, here’s a map. Princeton Township and Princeton Borough are one of New Jersey’s many “doughnut and hole” communities, where the smaller town is inside the larger one. It’s a consequence of 19th-century laws that allowed boroughs to incorporate with no more than a majority vote from its citiziens. It’s also one reason, many say, that the state has the nation’s highest property taxes.

Check out this not-so-brief explainer on about why the two municipalities are divided–and what’s being done to bring them back together.

Popping the Bubble: Extreme Sports Edition

So you may have thought that competing with your classmates for those prized A’s was an extreme sport, but here’s a secret: while that may be a sport, it’s just not really extreme.

If it’s extreme you’re looking for, Princeton and the surrounding towns have a surprising amount of it. Sure, Mercer may seem like a county without its fair share of risk and adventure, but look just 10 or 15 minutes off campus and you’ll find all of the risk and daredevil-ishness a Princeton student could possibly want (although maybe that’s not saying much for most of us).

Don’t believe it? Check out Mercer County Park for a start. Covering over 2500 acres in Hamilton, West Windsor, and Lawrence. The park has some of the best mountain biking trails in New Jersey, and New Jersey-ites flock from all corners of the state. But beware: skill level for some of the events is categorized “Weekend Warriors” and a biker’s review cautioned fellow bikers to stay away from “gnarly” areas of erosion. This isn’t your leisurely bike ride down to the E-Quad.

Or, we can kick it up a notch. How about some white-water rafting on the Delaware River? You can hop on the river in Trenton at Scudder’s Falls. For tips, check this out:

(video source:

And if that still isn’t enough of a rush, there’s always skydiving. The Skydiving Trenton website assures clients that they’ll be “in the best hands available.” (Something about that isn’t totally reassuring…) The company offers accompanied sky diving experiences and skydiving certification classes. Just think – your hands, too, may become the best hands available. If you’d rather travel a little further, there’s another skydiving agency based in Williamstown. But I wouldn’t if I were you.

Now back to my extreme sport of the moment: midterm studying. Safe travels, weekend warriors!

Let’s Kill Those Cancer Cells!

Spreading cancer. Courtesy of

Spreading cancer. Courtesy of

Enter any molecular biology department and you’re bound to find someone working on cancer. Various treatments exist and many cancers are no longer considered fatal, but there are still plenty of questions.

There’s one less question as of last Tuesday (well, ignoring the fact that this answer brings lots of new questions with it).  A new discovery by Princeton molecular biologists and chemists may pave the way for revolutionary new cancer treatments.

So what did they figure out? Quiescent or dormant cells have long been considered inactive. But according to the team’s paper, published in the latest edition of the journal PloS Biology, this isn’t actually true.

The team focused on fibroblasts, structural cells that connect cells and help heal wounds. Among other activities, they found that quiescent fibroblasts use the pentose phosphate pathway, which is necessary for creating DNA and RNA.

“The thing that’s really exciting is that if you inhibit the pentose phosphate pathway in quiescent cells, they die. And this is a big deal because they’re like little supermen,” MOL professor and coauthor Hilary Coller told

Why does this matter? Cancer uses quiescent cells. Details after the jump.

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What did your senior thesis ever do: CDY edition

Comic Sans gets a lot of crap. But hard-to-read fonts like Comic Sans and Bodoni may help students learn more, according to a new study in Cognition.

By “a new study in Cognition,” we mean Connor Diemand-Yauman’s senior thesis.

He may have been eliminated from the Amazing Race, but his senior thesis is starting to attract media attention. The psychology thesis involved testing the ability of students to memorize facts about “aliens.” Some students were given information in 16-pt. black Arial, which is generally considered easy to read. Other students were given information in 12-pt. Comic Sans or 12-pt. Bodoni in 75 percent greyscale. They were then distracted for 15 minutes and tested on what they could remember.

From the BBC:

Researchers found that, on average, those given the harder-to-read fonts actually recalled 14% more.

They believe that presenting information in a way that is hard to digest means a person has to concentrate more, and this leads to “deeper processing” and then “better retrieval” afterwards.