The nicest of guys

Anton Zuiker, co-founder of ScienceOnline and communications director for the Duke Department of Medicine, is one of the nicest, kindest people you can meet. Annoyingly, while thanking people for being generous and kind, he manages to be more generous, kind, and thoughtful than the people he is thanking.


Photo by Scott Cara
Photo by Scott Cara

As you all probably know from my posts on NCAA basketball, in which I use fawning examples of Coach K‘s tactical and strategic genius, I went to Duke. You also probably know that I played rugby, a lot of rugby.

Though I will try, words cannot express how proud I am that Duke was the runner-up for the National Small College Rugby Organization* national championship this year, losing in the final to St. John’s University 31-16.

My first season (1997-1998), I don’t think we won a single game. In my senior season, after transitioning to Division 3 to play against comparably sized schools, we went undefeated in our regular season league play. As a former team captain and club president, I’ve watched from a distance with great pride as the club has continued to build upon its successes, culminating in this year’s achievement.

If you live in Hartsville, SC and think you might be hearing slightly off-key rugby songs drifting on the wind from the direction of my house tonight, you are right.

*Duke may be an NCAA Division I school for major sports, but the actual undergraduate student body size is only about 6500. For non-scholarship/club sports, this makes Duke comparable to smaller colleges.

Ben Folds Five + Fraggles: Reminding Me of the Virtues of a Large Sample Size

I have a soft spot for Muppets and for the Ben Folds Five. The Muppets require no explanation. Ben Folds Five might do1.

The Ben Folds Five played the “Last Day of Classes” event at Duke University my freshman year (1998)2. I was having a good day (was named captain of the rugby team) and they rocked. At the time, the combination of good music and sun dresses convinced me that the “Last Day of Classes” was a day of eternal magic. Being a mere freshman, I had not yet learned that music selections by university entertainment committees are almost universally horrible3. The choice of Ben Folds Five was a statistical aberration that gave me an inaccurate expectation for the next year’s festivities due to the small sample size.

Looking back, the next three years of disappointment were well worth it to have that statistical lesson tattooed on my soul.

1. For the metaphorical Philistines amongst you.
2. Having been college, these dates may or may not be accurate.
3. They also managed to bring in Kevin Nealon to do stand-up comedy when I visited the campus as a high school senior – an event that certainly influenced my choice of higher education institution. Vanderbilt’s dean of admissions mocking Nashville’s storied country music history may have also helped.

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