Daily Archives: January 20, 2011

Harvard Gets Record 35,000 Applications; BU: 42,000

Published January 20, 2011

Harvard Yard gates

Harvard Yard could get a lot more crowded next year. (j.gresham/Flickr)

Harvard University says it received a record 35,000 undergraduate applications this year, up from 30,000 last year. From the Washington Post:

Even 30,000 applicants is a big number. It means, essentially, that one student in 50 applies to Harvard.

The applicant pool has grown some in that span, but most of the increase is a matter of top applicants applying to more schools. That, of course, is a self-perpetuating cycle: If all of your friends apply to 12 schools, you hurt your chances somewhat by applying to only six.

Or, as Slate puts it: 33,000 kids will be rejected by Harvard this year.

Harvard has expanded its financial aid in recent years to become the most generous in the industry. Families with an income of up to $60,000 can apply for aid and pay nothing. Families with incomes of $120,000–$180,000 pay just 10 percent of tuition. The university says 70 percent of its undergraduates receive aid.

Maybe high-school seniors are inspired by the simplicity of JFK’s Harvard application and applying in droves.

The Harvard admissions office will mail thick and thin envelopes to prospective students March 30 (though most students opt to get the news electronically first).

Here at BU, the university received a staggering 41,734 applications, a 9 percent increase over last year. Brown University received a record 31,000 applications, a 3 percent increase.

Applications are up substantially at Northwestern, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Penn. State, Dartmouth and Duke.

2 New Ways To See JFK

Published January 20, 2011

On this 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s electric inaugural address, Bostonians have more ways to pay tribute.

The JFK statue was opened Thursday (Steve Brown/WBUR)

The JFK statue on Thursday (Steve Brown/WBUR)

The state on Wednesday reopened the Beacon Hill plaza where a statue of JFK stands. The plaza, located below the governor’s office, has been off-limits to visitors since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Access is still limited, though. Only visitors on an official State House tour will be able to have a close-up look at Jack’s statue.

Just once over the past decade, the AP reports, did officials briefly re-open the site: following the death of JFK’s brother, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, in 2009.

If you would rather pay tribute from the comfort of your living room, Comcast is now streaming Kennedy-era footage to viewers — including the inaugural address.

You can watch Kennedy’s Jan. 2, 1960, press conference to announce his candidacy —  can you imagine a candidate waiting that long nowadays? — and the pivotal Nixon-Kennedy debates.

The cable company has partnered with the JFK Presidential Library, which recently digitized a trove of Kennedy artifacts.

The material is available on Comcast’s “On Demand” channel until Feb. 25. Select the “Top Picks” menu and then “JFK 50 Years.”

Snowstorm Could Bring 8″ To Boston

Published January 20, 2011

Update: Mayor Thomas Menino declared a snow emergency Thursday evening, with a parking ban in effect at 9 p.m. Boston Public Schools are closed Friday.


Boston could get 1-3″ of snow overnight, just in time to jam up the morning commute.

The National Weather Service says Boston could get up to 8″ from the coming storm, an increase from earlier figures. The snow is expected to stop in the early afternoon, making way for a sunny but bitterly cold weekend. An arctic air mass will bring high temperatures in the teens.

“Moderate to heavy” snow is likely to fall during Friday morning rush hour, covering the roads quickly. Be extra careful driving on bridges and overpasses, where slippery spots can develop quickly.

“The earlier someone goes, the less snow they’ll be around, but I think when we get into the middle and latter part of the morning commute, it’s gonna be pretty hairy out there,” said WCVB-TV meteorologist Harvey Leonard.

Leonard expects the snow to be fairly dry, light snow north and west of the city, but heavier and wetter south of Boston. Snow on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard could turn to rain, which would limit accumulation.

On Twitter, we’re debating the appropriate hash tag for the storm, which is average by Boston standards. Believe it or not, #BabyShanks is a popular suggestion.

Alleged New England Mobsters Indicted For Fraud

Published January 20, 2011

More than 120 organized crime associates face charges including murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking in one of the largest Mafia crackdowns in FBI history, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Authorities in Rhode Island arrested two alleged members of New England’s LCN crime network — alleged longtime mob boss Luigi “Baby Shanks” aka “The Professor” aka “The Old Man” Manocchio, 83, and alleged LCN associate Thomas Iafrate, 61.

An indictment unsealed in Providence charges the defendants with extortion and conspiracy. Manocchio and Iafrate allegedly defrauded pornographic bookstores and nightclubs, including the Satin Doll and the Cadillac Lounge, both in Providence.

More from the Justice Department news release:

The indictment alleges that Manocchio, 83, a/k/a “Baby Shacks”, a/k/a “The Professor”, a/k/a “The Old Man”, began extorting cash protection payments as early as 1993 from the owner of the strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses. The indictment also alleges that Iafrate, 63, who worked as a bookkeeper for various adult entertainment businesses including the Satin Doll and Cadillac Lounge, was responsible for setting aside, collecting and delivering the “protection” payments to Manocchio on behalf of the businesses. In addition, the indictment alleges that on November 6, 2008, Manocchio and Iafrate obtained approximately $2,900 in cash from the owner of the adult entertainment businesses and strip clubs, induced by the use of force, violence and fear.

Note that Justice refers to Manocchio as “Baby Shacks.” WBUR’s David Boeri, our Mafia enthusiast, says his nick name is, in fact, “Baby Shanks” — a reference to his short legs.

Update: I did some more digging on Manocchio’s nickname.

Time To Make A Decision About #BostonSnow

Published January 20, 2011

Twitter is ground zero for snowstorms. There is no better place for news and conversation with reporters and neighbors when the white stuff is coming down.

Hash tags are an excellent way to narrow down the fire hose — and to get a more complete picture of a story from people you don’t otherwise follow. Consider the success of our #ViewFromMyWindow project, which brought together a lot of strangers under the same, snowy sky.

This tweet is overloaded with hash tags!

This tweet is overloaded with hash tags!

But hash tags are like currency — they only have value if everyone agrees on the same one. (Otherwise you get overloaded tweets like this one.)

Another storm is coming tonight, which surely brings another dispute about the right hash tag.

During the last storm, Boston.com blogger Garrett Quinn smartly polled readers about the best one to use. #SnowMyGod was the winner. Clever, but I had problems with it. First, it’s not Boston-specific. Second, it’s long-ish — 10 characters can be a lot. And third, the use of “God” might grate on some readers.

The poll entry from @KatPowers, #BosBlizz, did not win, but it was popular with the tastemakers. Quinn abandoned his own poll results to use it. And I, using my bully pulpit on the @WBUR account, told roughly 8,000 followers that #BosBlizz was, indeed, the chosen one.

But Boston.com readers had already selected #SnowMyGod, so the Globe used its bully pulpit to promote #SnowMyGod.

And then there was perhaps the biggest tastemaker in Boston’s digital universe: Adam Gaffin, the Universal Hub blogger, who quietly abstained from the debate and continued using the same hash tag he always has: #BostonSnow.

#BostonSnow is Boston-specific but not storm-specific, obviously. At the time, I argued:

I think the hash tag should be specific to this storm and to Boston. #BosBlizz

A lot of folks agreed. Twitterer @aphonik suggested:

@andrewphelps I think the National Weather Service should issue hashtags in advance the same way they name hurricanes in advance. #BosBlizz

Awesome idea, but don’t hold your breath. As tonight’s storm looms, the Globe is already asking readers to suggest a hash tag. I already feel anxious. We need to solve this. Who should decide, and how?

Dear readers, I ask you: What do you prefer? The dependable and unchanging #BostonSnow? Or a unique hash tag for each storm? If yes, then how do we reach a consensus?

Thursday: Ask Not What This Roundup Can Do For You

Published January 20, 2011

Google's home page celebrates the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address.

Google's home page celebrates the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address.

Good morning! Enjoy one snow-free Thursday before another storm dumps on us overnight. Later today, we’re expecting fresh numbers for the Massachusetts unemployment rate.

Today is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Yesterday, On Point asked, Does Kennedy’s challenge stand up today? WBUR’s Tom Ashbrook talked with David Brooks, Chris Matthews and Thurston Clarke.

Only four Bay Staters were on President Obama’s guest list for Wednesday night’s state dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Sen. John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and Bostonian Robert Sherman and his guest, Kim Sawyer.

An institution for Boston’s Latino community, the Hi-Lo Foods in Jamaica Plain, is closing. The store will be replaced by… Whole Foods. That’s pretty much JP in a nutshell. WBUR’s Bianca Vazquez Toness reports on the mixed reactions.

WBUR’s Andrea Shea covers the new ART performance that people are buzzing about: “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe.” It’s a one-man show about the influential futurist. Bucky is buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, just two miles from the theater.

And did you hear about Tom Brady’s foot?