Friday, February 26, 2010

* Attacking Nature

It was October 2008 (despite the erroneous date on the photo above) that I adopted a 7-year-old rescue Dalmatian from a breeder in Chicago who gave him to me and paid the travel expenses. She even agreed to take him back if he was "naughty."

"Naughty" it turned out was a euphemism for "this dog has a history of attacking other MALE dogs, but we aren't sure it extends to EVERY male dog."

This history was not shared with me before the adoption and I blindly added him to my household of a 14-year-old female Lab-mix and a 7-year-old MALE Bassett Hound.

The result was predictable, but not to me.

Within two weeks he attacked the Basset. The female (or "Queen Bitch" as another breeder describes her) dominated the Dalmatian and he never so much as growled in her direction.

This attack came with NO WARNING: one minute they were side by side and the next second the Dal had his entire jaw around the Basset's neck (fleshy for a purpose, I discovered) growling (no---that is insufficient-- he was ROARING just like a lion) all through the attack. It took me tearing at the Dal for a full, eternally long, minute or so, lifting him and his mouthful of Bassett off the ground, SCREAMING at the top of my lungs to detach him from my harmless and good-natured Bassett.

Having had no warning that this was the latest in a history of such incidents, I decided to give the Dal the benefit of the doubt since he drew no blood and my Bassett seemed placid after the event.

However within a month this happened two more times and on the fourth time, the Dal injured my Bassett.

Within 24 hours the Dal was back on a plane heading to his old owners, who apologized profusely to me and revealed that he had had this problem with other males at their kennels. They described the attacks as I found them, "coming out of no-where in an instant."


Don't play with Mother Nature---in the form of Dalmatians, tigers, apes, or whales: the latter three of which have killed or maimed their trainers and neighbors in the last three years in famous incidents in Las Vegas, suburban Connecticut, and Sea World (only this week).

Nature's attack-brain exists for a reason:


Just because we think wolves should lie down with lambs, doesn't mean Mother Nature agrees.

* For God, for Country and for Yale by Jeff Gordon '12


For God, for Country, and for Yale

by Jeff Gordon 

Jeff Gordon is a sophomore at Yale. This essay was written for his English class and is reprinted here.
(printed with permission of the author : all rights reserved)

by Jeff Gordon

Like Guy Fawkes, Paul Keane is a revolutionary. The two men share groovy beards and a desire to blow up the establishment, but there are a few technical differences. Paul’s target, instead of Parliament, is Yale. His grievances, not far from anti-Catholic discrimination, are elitism, racism and sexism. Paul plants not explosives but words, one blog post at a time. The most important distinction, however, and the reason to take Paul much more seriously, is that he knows his enemy. Paul Keane, M.Div ’80, is the Anti-Yale.


Undergrads might recognize Paul’s name and self-appointed title from the Yale Daily News’s website. Every morning at five, before heading off to the mysterious job that he refuses to discuss, Paul scans the Yale Daily News (YDN) online edition in search of fodder. He finds an article reeking of Yale-centric privilege or condescension to New Haven and opens the comment box. His blast is swift—short enough for a generation weaned on text messages—and typically obscure in its allusion to characters from Old Yale’s past. He used to sign off: “Paul Keane, M.Div ’80.” Now he just writes PK. “I like nothing more than controversy,” says Paul, and that’s exactly what he gets. By the time Paul returns home, his comment has elicited numerous responses from Yalies exasperated with this Internet phantom and convinced that what goes on at Yale is none of his business. “Dude, are you like retired or something? Shouldn't you be focusing on your day job? Glory Days are so...over.” Some posters respond to the substance of his message, but to many he’s an outsider, and they wish he would just go away.

“First of all I’m not an outsider. Yale’s the outsider as far as I’m concerned. I’m a born and raised native of New Haven. You’re the outsider.” Paul Keane is quick to cite his credentials. He grew up twelve miles from Yale. His grandmother lived two blocks from Yale “in a ghetto apartment, a third floor walkup” with no hot water. His first encounter with inequality is painfully resonant to anyone who has ever seen a city: two blocks from bitter poverty sat “medieval palaces facing INWARD away from the community.” He wrote that in response to a YDN article about a recent string of murders in the city, and often shares his belief that Yale’s opulence is an “upraised middle finger” to the city, inducing envy, greed, and crime. But if Yale is the inward-looking solipsist, and its stained-glass windows are just one-way mirrors, can it really still be the outsider? Finding the proper prepositional relationship between Paul Keane and Yale—in, out, under, on—is complicated enough before you consider the fact he went there.

Paul Keane got a Master of Education degree from Kent State in 1972, which was kind of like investing in the stock market in 1929. After the uproar over the 1970 shootings had tainted the school’s national image, his diploma was a “black spot;” he couldn’t find a job. So, restless in New Haven, he took the obvious step and applied to the Divinity School: “They accepted me, to their eternal regret.” Paul takes a lot of pride in his performance as a “hell-raiser” at Y.D.S., and I have a feeling the pun was intended. He tells a story about winning an award at graduation and rushing to the Dean in surprise because he thought the faculty hated him. “They do,” said the Dean, and the deadpan rings clear across the decades, “but they respect a challenge". Paul jokes about his decision to attend the Divinity School as a last resort, but the issue deserves a closer look. As a child, Yale’s towers were a cruel reminder of what he couldn’t have. As an adult, he earned the keys to the castle. When Paul Keane criticizes Yale, he signs his name with the very authority it granted him.

Paul has one particularly striking story from his time at Yale. While volunteering at the Medical School, he stumbled across a secret patient. She was a prostitute, she had just given birth, and she had the first known case of heterosexual AIDS in America. Paul urged the University administration to publicize the news and warn the community, but they refused. Like all good revolutionaries, Paul would not take ‘no’ for an answer. He called 60 Minutes; they broke the story, and guess who was the star witness. Paul uses this drama to speak to Yale’s disregard for its surrounding community. “It's only prostitutes and drug addicts. They won't affect our precious Ivy League clientele,” he satirizes.

Speaking of those Ivy League types, “I always thought downtown Yale College was where rich people met to further their careers…and I still [do].” George W. Bush is his case in point, and don’t get him started on Henry Luce. As the editor-in-chief of Time, Luce may have brought “the Communist scare into every living room in America,” but his donations are also part of the reason that 55% of Yale undergrads now receive financial aid. “People of mediocre merit,” may still exist at Yale, but they come from all over the world and the gender spectrum—not just the sons of blue-blooded elites.

And if Yale is a lost cause, why does Paul Keane keep writing? Paul says that in his youth, “Yale was a thorn in my side,” but now he describes himself as a gadfly, nipping at the elephant.

Who’s the focus of this story? Who’s the insider and who’s intruding? If Yale were a thorn, Paul would run away, but it’s the opposite—he’s singularly hooked. He has degrees from four schools, but he’s not the Anti-Middlebury, not the Anti-Ithaca, and certainly not the Anti-Kent State. He is the Anti-Yale because “Yale is the best and the worst in our world:” his contempt is equaled by his respect.

The one thing Paul truly admires about Yale is how it provides space for dissent and refuses to squash the gadfly. He may be confusing institutional goodwill with the YDN’s liberal comment policy, but I do suppose Yale’s tolerance is to be praised. That, or it’s a good thing Paul Keane didn’t grow up in the Soviet Union. In any case, as long as he’s still blogging, he’ll continue urging undergraduates to free their minds from the Yale bubble. And while Paul told me, “I don’t think old people should give young people advice,” it seems clear that his effort on the YDN message boards is just that. If nothing else, his advice is that young people should question their assumptions, reject authority, and engage in debate. In one post, he describes this work as “generational philanthropy.” If that’s not enough evidence that Paul cares how young people interact with his ideas, there’s one more thing. He wouldn’t tell me what he does for a living, so I followed my generation’s credo: when in doubt, Google. Paul Keane is a high school English teacher.

But as much as Paul is writing for the students, he’s also writing for himself. The whole endeavor is, “an ego stroke. I see it as my tombstone. I’m writing my own eulogy.” There’s a story behind this morose, grandiloquent language. Just over a year ago, Paul was diagnosed with kidney cancer. But for the early detection, the disease would have spread to his bone marrow and—as he made a point of emphasizing, again and again—he would now be dead. This brush with mortality shuffled his priorities, self-expression came out on top, and the blog was born*. “They took out half a cancerous kidney, so I figure I’m going to say what I have to say before I kick the bucket.”

What he has to say is profoundly ambivalent. Guy Fawkes had never been a Protestant or an MP, so his task was rather simple. Paul Keane has lived the very life he picks apart. Sometimes, he finds himself in the awkward position of defending the Divinity School from aggressively secular undergrads, siding with the faculty he used to drive nuts. In recognition of these moments when no one agrees with him, Paul’s voice slides from its focused intensity to a sedated melancholy: “I’m like J.D. Salinger. I’ve lived in Vermont for 25 years…and I really don’t care about the rest of society.” Besides the physical fact of his isolation, that statement rings untrue. This is a guy who wakes up at five every morning, grabs a coffee, and sits down with the Yale Daily News. For better or worse, his meditations always lead back to Yale. When I informed him that everyone knows PK, I could hear the cheer in his surprise—relishing an outsider’s return to the castles, albeit through fiber wire. He’ll keep writing, “Till I drop dead!”

Or maybe he won’t. Every once in a while, a different side of Paul Keane pops out. “Young people don’t like old people,” he says, “it’s in their blood,” and you get the sense he’s speaking from experience. An old “hell-raiser,” it’s worth asking what the young Paul Keane would think of PK. Maybe this generation of Yalies doesn’t need his advice anymore. “After a while, you have to wonder,” Paul muses, “am I just being a nag?”

* The Anti-Yale address is

Thursday, February 25, 2010

* Sorrow

Ellison: We need answers
Raising Hellison
By Matthew Ellison
The Yale Daily News
Published Thursday, February 25, 2010

Andre Narcisse ’12 was one of my Branford little sibs, but beyond the initial meet-and-greet at the beginning of his freshman year, I did not have any interaction with him. To be honest, I didn’t even remember meeting him until after he died when I wondered how we were Facebook friends and found an old e-mail. Sometimes I wonder whether I could have been a better big sib and done something to prevent his death at the hands of “multiple drug toxicity.”
But that’s not the only thing I’ve wondered since I learned of Andre’s death four months ago.
I grew frustrated with the way the...

#1 By A delicate matter 5:49a.m. on February 25, 2010

This piece is filled with heart-felt survivor's guilt and feelings of social conscience, and I hesitate to comment on matters so delicate and earnest. Forgive me please for daring to comment around the fringes of, rather than on, those matters.

In my one-block walk to Patricia's restaurant at Elm and Whalley during my Div. School days, a dude tried to sell me cocaine in broad daylight at the top of his lungs "Want to buy some coke?"

Once while on the same one-block walk I observed someone snort white powder off a tiny piece of paper while seated behind a steering wheel in a parked car.

I worked to assist a prostitute who had AIDS and who continued to solicit on the streets and "boot up" (inject) her buddies with a dirty heroin needle.

And these events occurred 25 years ago. I cannot imagine the situation today now that drug cartels have made their effects known even in sleepy Vermont.

An investigation as the writer suggests would require searching an entire city.

The problem is the CULTURE not the campus or the city.

We seek exhilaration at any cost, including addiction and death.


#2 By Yale 9:20a.m. on February 25, 2010

This is a profoundly irresponsible column from a profoundly uninspiring writer.
#3 By LNC 10:10a.m. on February 25, 2010

You expressed exactly what I have been thinking. I thought that the next step was going to be disclosure of those who contributed to his death. Identification of the source of the drugs is critical to ensuring campus safety. Elimination of drug dealing should be priority number one after this tragic loss of a young life. That is the real way to honor Andre...a Yale community: students, admin, public safety working towards an environment where it is very difficult to purchase or distribute illegal substances.

#4 By Yale mom 10:55a.m. on February 25, 2010

The writer has touched on a phenomenon common to many powerful and influential institutions - that of the code of silence. Damage control at the expense of the whole truth can backfire.

#5 By AMG 5:42p.m. on February 25, 2010

In the Anna Nicole death, there was an the Michael Jackson death...there was an investigation.

Why is no one trying to investigate who sold him the drugs? Who was or were the enablers?

Why didn't any of his so called friends alert someone to his increased drug usage?

Why didn't any of his suitemates (probably knowing his drug history) try to wake him up?

Yale is very lucky I am not this young man's mother!!!! They would be in a massive legal battle with me right now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

* Campus Cribs

Hanging-out in Style

Hirst: Questions worth asking
By Adam Lior Hirst

The Yale Daily News
Published Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Early one morning last week I stepped out of Branford entryway D and walked through the college courtyard Robert Frost purportedly described as the most beautiful in America. I saw the grass covered with a thick coating of snow; the flakes which hadn’t yet landed, rested atop the Gothic architecture and the tree limbs bare of leaves.
I was not alone. A tour of (native) Chinese men and women were stopped outside my master’s house. The guide spoke as most of them snapped pictures of archways and benches and gates. They didn’t see Linonia courtyard late on a Saturday evening, when beer...

#1 By Infiltrate and subvert 5:40a.m. on February 24, 2010

Ask questions, marinate oneself in beauty and invite debate: all liberal arts traditions.

In addition to Frost, Charles Dickens said Hillhouse Avenue (then vaulted by stately Elms) was the most beautiful street in America. Frank Lloyd Wright said of Harkness Tower, "I'd rather live IN it so I wouldn't have to look AT it."

I'm afraid Yale's interest in China has more to do with power and money than with elevating freedom of thought, artistic beauty and intellectual debate.

Infiltrate and subvert.


#2 By The Contrarian 11:09a.m. on February 24, 2010

I'd much rather live in Harkness Tower than in anything Mr. Wright designed. And after him, it all got much, much worse. Rather than "marinate oneself in beauty" it's more like "wallow in hideousness".

#3 By President's sore head 12:03p.m. on February 24, 2010

The President's House at the University of Buffalo was a Frank Lloyd Wright creation until the 1970's when the man appointed president(whose name escaped me long ago)was a person 6'4" in height, and the ceilings of the Wright creation cramped his style.

As I recall, the building was transformed into the registrar's office in deference to the president's sore head.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

* That's gay! Pejorative or Abhorative?

Professor George Chauncey , Yale University: "Gay has become the primary term of derision among the youth culture today . . ."

Interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS's The New Hour in a 2/23/10 segment on
Gay rights and the abolition of the military's "Don't ask/Don't tell"policy.

Prurience at the Bar and on the Bench

"Primary term of derision"?


However kids equate it ("gay") with "lame" not with "sexually deviant".

And even when they use that very term they equate it with ("lame") nobody claims that "lame" derides the handicapped (or physically challenged, if you will).

In fact, by lame or gay what they mean (I hypothesize) is "not fully participatory," "not mainstream" which is an actual description -- and an accurate one -- of the status of both groups.

So, why is Professor Chauncey hooked on "gay" as a pejorative which somehow diminishes the dignity of homosexuals?

One forgets that until 2003 when sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional, it was against the law to engage in homosexual sexual intercourse. It is worth pointing out that even Professor Chauncey and his three other panelists on The News Hour segment had no trouble forgetting it themselves at all: they mentioned every other form of discrimination against homosexuals, except the sodomy laws.

That is analagous to a panel on racial discrimination mentioning every form of discrimination against blacks except slavery!

Even the forces of racial hatred didn't go so far as to outlaw Negro sexuality. It was never illegal to engage in "Negro sexual intercourse" although it was illegal to intermarry (miscegenation laws were similarly on the books up to 1967.) And in the long history of anti-semitism in the world it was never against the law in any country to engage in "semitic sexual intercourse". (I know, I know, the big book comes in to play here: the Bible. But even still, using the law of the land to invade the genital privacy of grown adults is beyond busybodyish, beyond voyeurism, it is prurient.)

It is almost unbelievable that in the country of "all men are created equal" sodomy and miscegenation laws were ever on the books at all , let alone until 1967 and 2003 respectively, TWO CENTURIES after the Constitution was written.

What kind of a Constitutional deviance is 200 years of

Let's call a spade a spade.

It's more than lame or gay.

It's more than deviance.

It's evil.

Sodomy Laws in the United States
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that sodomy laws are unconstitutional on June 26, 2003.
The majority opinion is based on privacy rights and is written by Kennedy, joined by Breyer, Souter, Ginsburg, and Stephens. O'Connor concurred on equal protection grounds.

The Decision

The sodomy law map above is prior to Lawrence v. Texas. All states are now white, ie the sodomy laws are unconstitutional and unenforceable. However, some states still attempt to enforce their laws. See Virginia, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. The U.S. Military enforces its sodomy regulation without regard to Lawrence.

Anti-Miscegenation Laws

* Huffington for President

Huffs and Puffs from Oxbridge

It may be the Oxbridge background, but on every round-table discusssion and every panel I've seen her participate in over the last year, Arianna Huffington has dominated the discussion with her command of political history and the history of ideas.

My proposing her for President is a doomed idea, just as nominating Adlai Stevenson for President was doomed in the 1950's: Americans equate intellectualism with elitism, and therefore reject the intellectual as anti-egalitarian.

Ms. Huffington's accent plays into a latent xenophobia which fuels that anti-intellectualism, a kind of jingoistic populism which beats its drums to the tune of "small government", "lower taxes", "balanced budget" and other pea-pickin banjo tunes these days.

Nonetheless, one should take note of a significant intellect operating on the national scene----and listen carefully to its tune.

Huffington talks future of journalism
By BJ White
Contributing Reporter
The Yale Daily News
Published Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Though the 59-year-old Arianna Huffington carries a Blackberry and Tweets like any child of the information age would, she said she remains an avid reader of the morning newspaper.
“The need to go through the newspaper at breakfast time is part of our DNA,” Huffington told a small crowd at the Law School today. “I subscribe to seven newspapers.”
After being introduced by Yale Law School Dean Robert Post, Huffington — an author, commentator and co-founder of the popular news and blogging Web site The Huffington Post — gave a speech in the Law School auditorium Monday on the...

#1 By Hail to the Chief 10:07a.m. on February 23, 2010

In all of her public appearances on television over the last year Ms. Huffington has proven herself a thinker and speaker worthy of being President.

M.Div. '80

#2 By Yale 08 1:54p.m. on February 23, 2010

HuffPo = web's most overrated site.

Monday, February 22, 2010

*Steerforth University? Stradlater University?

Cad College

It is one of the sad realities of life that the Ivy League attracts a certain type of male, long depicted in literature and most infamously so as James Steerforth in David Copperfield (think Ward Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye).

This stereotype is poignantly evoked in the YDN opinion piece by Ms. Baumgartner today about delicious gossip, "A gossiper's defense".

We all know the type: the handsome, charming, user/abuser.

Need more be said?

A cad!

Baumgartner: A gossiper’s defense
By Alice Baumgartner
The Yale Daily News
Published Monday, February 22, 2010

On my 13th birthday, my mother told me that men talk about sex in locker rooms. Then she handed me a piece of cake. I ate, thinking of naked men, their bare feet against the tiled floors, their hair wet from the shower, as they snapped towels at one another and talked about breasts. I was horrified, and even though my breasts were not large enough to be the subject of locker room talk, I decided that if they could talk about me, then I could talk about them.
That day, I became a gossip, and I have never since reformed.
If I had nothing nice to say, I repeated it at every...

#1 By 07 Alum 4:50a.m. on February 22, 2010

I want to preface this by saying that I am not defending or condoning sexual assault in any way. It is an incredibly serious crime that everyone should be more aware about, especially on college campuses.

However, I think Ms. Baumgartner's climactic example, where she seeks to perhaps illustrate the good that gossip can do by notifying her friend of her prospective blind date's history, is more complicated than it seems. Executive Committee hearings are kept confidential for many reasons, but I believe the primary one is to protect the students before the committee by not having things taken out of context. Perhaps he had been accused of sexual assault but not convicted, but it was still suggested that he take a semester off. What was the assault exactly? ExComm is not a court of law, and even being "convicted" of certain things there can have very different meanings and nuances. As someone who has gone before ExComm myself, I know the crazy versions of events that become pervasive on the campus when the full facts of the situation are unknown by the general student body but rumor and gossip run rampant.

Again, things like Megan's Law exist for a reason; because of the high incidence of repeat offenses for convicted sex offenders, the government has decided that people have a right to know about registered sex offenders. However, this is an extreme case that should not be applied to any and all situations without extreme care. A former thief is not necessarily a future thief, and one's past actions should not necessarily stigmatize all of their future interactions.

We are all guilty of rumor and gossip, it is definitely a guilty pleasure. However, I think extreme caution is needed before spreading any kind of negative rumor. It is very hard to know the whole story.

#2 By Monogamy:Polygamy 5:23a.m. on February 22, 2010

Wonderful article, esp. the Kierkegaard, Heideggar quotes .

Isn't it ironic that the sincerity implicitly yearned for in citing those quotes, is advocated by the very wimps and soft-heads so many of the posters here ridicule as "divinity- school-types", and yet the overwhelming tendency is to gravitate toward the Tiger-Woods-types?

The apparent shock that the object of a woman's attention might be sleeping around with others baffles me.

The adultery commandment isn't a "suggestion" or a "recomendation" it is a COMMANDMENT. Why?

Because so many do NOT obey it. (One doesn't under penalty of damnation ORDER people to do what they are naturally inclined to do.)

It's a trifle naive to think men by nature yearn for monogamy. CERTAIN types of men do: the types up there on Holy Hill. And even then . . . Jimmy Swaggarts and Ted Haggards pop up here and there.

Nature, as Thornton Wilder observed , is concerned with one thing and one thing only (and it ain't monogamy): "covering the planet with as much protoplasm as it can as fast as it can"

M.Div '80

#3 By saybrook997 4:06p.m. on February 22, 2010

Gossiping about the new double standard--against men? (But first, most guys can barely deal with one woman, not three. You're fantacizing, not gissiping. Second, if you mean rape, why do women call it sexual assault? That means groping to battery, and everything between.)

The new double standard. The men's locker room at Payne-Whitney. Two Yale women walked in one afternoon right after I had wet hair, and bare feet against Yale's always dirty floors. They were giggling, too old to be curious about what men look like, and didn't know that was a slow time for workouts. They didn't even get to see or surprise/embarrass any guys coming out of the shower. I've seen girls do this in some middle school documentaries and American Pie-type movies--the guys then are more modest about exhibitionism than girls, and there is a certain coming-of-age cuteness to it. At Yale, women in the men's locker room were just showing women do as they want. Guys never report or hurt them; guys going into the women's locker room would be expelled, if not charged with a crime.

The same double standard with public restrooms. I've had drunk girls walk through laughing to see us pee, but really to show they can do what they want, without old restraints. (Girls always see boys naked or take care of young ones, at least until the boys are old enough to want to see them too.) Again, men do nothing to the always young, drunk women. It would be almost fun if women were really just interested in physical "little" things. Men would have to say they went in the wrong door by mistake, which happens.

And women can touch guys they know almost anywhere, anytime, and it's considered affection. Girls have veryfew public touch zones. Still, a double standard.

So much for gossiping about the dangerous patriarchy and "sex object" stuff. I have not known any Saybrook guys who are monsters, even, especially athletes. You can gissip, but not needed for protection. As I have said, when was the patriarchy? It sounds nice.

#4 By Great piece 4:57p.m. on February 22, 2010

This was fun and well-written, like the column two weeks ago. Copy editors should fix things like this though: "He was serving his Executive Committee sentence for sexual assault. She wouldn’t have known if a concerned friend hadn’t told her. He was serving his Executive Committee sentence for sexual assault, and she wouldn’t have known, if a concerned friend hadn’t told her."

#5 By @1 6:39p.m. on February 22, 2010

@1: Wouldn't it make sense for ExComm to be more transparent? That would knock out the "crazy version of events," and protect other students on campus at the same time. Perhaps this information is kept quiet so as not to "ruin their lives." Those convicted of sexual assault, however, did not extend the same courtesy to their victims. It is true that "a former thief is not necessarily a future thief," but given the high incidence of repeat offenses, it seems that this information should not be kept altogether private, if the university cares about the safety of its students.

#6 By BR'10 6:48p.m. on February 22, 2010

Nice, Alice!!

#7 By Yale 08 10:02p.m. on February 22, 2010
@ #2,

Riiiight. Because the Yale Div School really steps up and defends traditional sexual morality? (Yale Div School: Where we study the gods inside us!)

Puh-lease. Those aging hippies are still groovin' on free love, man. Don't be a square.

#8 By History is a mess. 12:23a.m. on February 23, 2010

Not sure I agree. The Big Three Abrahamic religions seem like thousands of years (cumulatively) of a Monogamy Skinner Box in the making. (Ironic since Abraham took a concubine, Hagar, to make a male heir, who turned out to be Ishmael and started the whole Arab/Israeli chosen/unchosen-people feud when the legitmate heir i.e.non- bastard heir Isaac was born to Abraham's wife at 90!)

Dunno. Religion seems like a giant chastity belt thrown over Nature with the word Monogamy inscribed on the buckle to restrain promiscuity and social disease.

History is a mess.


PS (BTW) Solomon of Song of Songs fame had 300 wives and 800 concubines (or vice versa) just to complicate the monogamy picture.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

* Post Pup


Buckley reads from ‘Pup’
By Drew Henderson
Staff Reporter
The Yale Daily News
Published Friday, February 19, 2010

As he strolled up the aisle toward the front of the Branford College common room Thursday evening, Christopher Buckley ’75 paused at the third row and turned to face a student in the audience.
“Did you finish your homework yet?” Buckley asked John Lesnewich ’13.
“No, I haven’t done it yet,” Lesnewich replied.
“Then you should probably go back and do it,” Buckley quipped.
Buckley, who returned to Yale after being last year’s Class Day speaker, faced a full house in Branford College as he recounted stories of his relationship with his famous parents in a reading from his...

#1 By WFB Jr.'s kindness 5:12a.m. on February 19, 2010

"Thank you for the dedication and the prose. I'll pass on the ideas, but two out of three isn't bad.


Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. "

In 1981 I sent Mr. Buckley a copy of Holy Smoke, a pamphlet of essays I published at the Divinity School which had this dedication: "To William F. Buckley, Jr. whose writings alerted me that Man is God at Yale". I enclosed a note saying that if the prose and ideas didn't please him I hoped the dedication would. His reply appears above, and is an example of the kindness and generosity to others which his son cites.

Paul Keane
M.Div. '80

PS The masthead of my blog The Anti-Yale makes the same dedication
#2 By Y10 12:01p.m. on February 19, 2010

Anne put it best: Christopher Buckley is indeed nothing short of "a sterling exemplar of both lux and veritas." Bravo for a witty and entertaining reading.

#3 By Auntie PK 2:09p.m. on February 19, 2010

Backstabbing carpetbagger barely waited for his progenitor to turn cold before denying his Conservative credentials.


(Note: Auntie is in the Southern pronunciation.)

#4 By Yale '08 6:46p.m. on February 19, 2010

Really enjoyed his speech at '09 Commencement. Was one of the most brilliant orations in some time... much better than Blair's vacuous stab at diplomacy in '08.

# 5 By Murdstonism 12:35 p.m. on February 21, 2010

Dear Auntie:
People aren't allowed to change their opinions? Sounds like Mr. Murdstone in David Copperfield. The younger Buckley is an intellectual, not a zealot.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

* Mourning Every Beck and Call in America

Channel surfing this evening, I came across Glenn Beck who I had never watched or heard before. He was giving the final speech at the Washington CPAC Convention, a gathering of conservatives which has attracted 10,000 participants these last few days.

He looks like a Baby Rush. He talks like him too, but has a curious magnetism and histrionics which keep your attention---or at least they kept mine.

Plus he pulls at the old heartstrings with confessional autobiographical asides: the Horatio Alger story--how he raised himself up from his bootstraps as an apprentice in his father's Washington state bakery which went bust, and a college wanna-be who had to drop out of college after only one semester and one course because he was poor, but like Abe Lincoln "educated himself" (at the library in Beck's case, not the fireside) and unlike Lincoln, is "proud" to speak of it.

His confessional style even pulls the rug out from under his would-be detractors and critics: He speaks frankly as "a recovering alcoholic" who "lost it all" and had to rebuild his life by "admitting" he had a problem.

In fact he used the "recovering alcoholic" confessional-motif as a metaphor for America throughout his speech--and he threw in a little riff now and then of Tiger Woods' mea culpa news conference yesterday to great effect.

His dramatic reading of the "tired, huddled masses" poem on the Statue of Liberty seemed to ennoble the power of immigrants to make America the great country it has become, despite Europe's pleasure at casting them off. He did not extrapolate that concept to our current impossibly difficult policy on illegal immigration.

His final image of America hugging the toilet, vomiting after a spending binge (which Beck happily acted out with a high-school-glee), and sobering up the next morning to admit its problem ("addicted to spending") ends in an orgiastic flourish of 1984 Reagan campaign rhetoric: "It's [still] morning in America". However his AA message is clear: "some people die before they hit bottom"
and unless we as a country sober up "worse times lie ahead" for us, including that irreversible, final bottom.

And so it is: Mourning [sic] in America.

(Mourning for our lost faith in the power of rhetoricians to persuade.)

Beck's call--however chintzy and histrionic the rhetorical tricks--should be taken seriously by the stuffy Harvard Law School rhetorician, basketball playing, fist-slapping occupant of the White House: The average kitchen table folk just don't believe your sincerity anymore, big guy; You ain't listening.

* Shut-in; Shut-Out; Shut-up ?

One person who supports the “Family Guy” staff in this latest debate is Andrea Fay Friedman, the 39-year-old actress and public speaker who provided the voice of Ellen in that episode [which had a Downe's syndrome girl on a date say her "father was an accountant and my mother is the former Governor of Alaska"] . . .
Ms. Friedman continued, “My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”
(N.Y. Times, 2/20/10)

They used to be called shut-ins. And that's literally what they were: Shut in to their houses, shut in to their disability, shut in to themselves.

And they were Shut-outs.

Then came the Eunice Kennedy whirlwind and The Special Olympics and the Americans for Disabalities Act and the world changed: Shut out no more!
Thank God or Social Conscience or whatever you want to thank. But Thank Something.

Last night's CBS Evening News had a segment on a wheelchair inventor, an engineer confined to a wheelchair himself, who has created a foundation to distribute his inexpensive, rough-and-tumble, accessible parts, wheelchairs (bicycle tires, for example)around the world.

I used to know a wealthy lady in New Haven who lived to be 99. At 98, dressed in a mink coat, she would have her nurse hold her arm while she used an ice-chopper with the other arm to remove ice from her sidewalk. She had little effect on the ice but it was good theatre and better inspiration: she would not be shut-in by weather, age, or wealth.

Don't shut in and don't shut out and whatever you do don't shut up!


This Family Guy/Palin "discourse" is a very healthy public scrap.

Friday, February 19, 2010

* Big Brother or Big Voyeur?

Web cams used to spy on students

PHILADELPHIA — A suburban Philadelphia school district used school-issued laptop Web cams to spy on students at home, potentially catching them and their families in compromising situations, a family claims in a federal lawsuit.

Lower Merion School District officials can activate the Web cams without students’ knowledge or permission, the suit said.

The accusations amount to potentially illegal electronic wiretapping, said Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which is not involved in the case.

(Taken from Google search)

* Yale Daily News vs. Daily Kent Stater

Our Town

Why did you choose the Yale Daily News?

That was the question put to me about my postings on YDN articles. I suppose I could have chosen student papers at Ithaca College, Middlebury or Kent State (my other alma maters) but Kent is the only one with a daily newspaper.

Now, no offense to the dear old Stater, but it is hardly a forum for intellectual debate. I recall that when the journalist I.F. Stone visited the Kent State campus the year after the shootings, he was struck by the fact that in his two days there he never heard anyone talking about a book.

That said, one does have to acknowledge that the Stater was a gutsy daily journal after the shootings, when pressure from all sectors of society---especially the State of Ohio (Kent's funding source) was to smoothe over, cover up and forget the Kent State murders, which became almost immediately after the shootings, "the tragedy" "the May 4th incident", "the deaths", a conscious attempt to use language to drain the event of its horror.

I have said elsewhere, that if there was a Pulitzer Prize for student journalism, the Stater deserves it for its three years of coverage beginning May 1,1970.

So why the Yale Daily News and not The New York Times?

I guess the real reason (aside from the fact that posting on the Times is a spit in the ocean) is that New Haven was my birthplace and my grandmother's home (if you can call a third-floor walk-up with no hot water two blocks from Yale a "home") for the first 21 years of my life.

I came to New Haven every Sunday with my mother to pick my grandmother up for the drive to Sunday dinner at our house near the Sleeping Giant. I was MOULDED by New Haven---and by Yale's presence there. I can visualize the streets and buildings, smell the scents, feel the textures of New Haven and Yale in my mind's eye.

And because I was befriended by three elders (Bishop Moore, Miss Wilder, and Dr. Bainton) who had access to various aspects of Yale's inner sanctum, I can sense the heartbeat of the place, irregular as that beat might sometimes be.

But that is another story.

One I prefer to leave sheltered in the gentle chiaroscuro of my memory.

Horseman, post on.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

* Single Standard Deflates Dickens

I am reading David Copperfield again after a four decade breather.

During that four decades feminism triumphed, the birth control pill became ubiquitous, and Roe v. Wade became an excuse for abortion to be labelled an alleged form of birth control.

In short, Emily's crisis (choosing money--or being a "lady"-- over virginity) has evaporated.

The rest of the novel sings true, but Emily's "disgrace" seems a complete waste of time and energy to today's emancipated readers.

Maintaining virginity until marriage itself seems like just one more way sexist men try to manipulate and control women.

Choice---and Emily does make one---doesn't result in humiliation or ostracism today. In fact, it is applauded as a sign of equality and liberation, a sign that the double standard in sexual matters has collapsed into a single standard.

Even the Chaplain of Yale, Rev. Debra Haffner, a sexologist, declares she wouldn't agree to perform marriage for those who are still virgins.

How the Dickens can society change so radically in only forty years?!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

* Behold---We Shall Be Changed in a Moment . . .

It took me years to be willing to wear a seat belt, and the deaths of several loved ones who didn't. I was young then. Now, I don't drive five feet without snapping it on.

In the last two years, it took me five seconds--not years -- to change two things in my life:

Time was no longer divided into BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era)after January 2009: It was divided into BSE and SE (Before Sullenberger Era and Sullenberger Era).

After that miracle man landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, I decided firmly something every travel agent in America would hate me for----Never to get on an airplane again. Ever.

The year before in August, when Ted Kennedy announced he had brain cancer, it took reading one article in The New York Times about the cell-phone/brain-cancer debate being re-opened due to Kennedy's illness, for me to change my cell-phone behavior consistently: I never put the phone to my skull anymore; instead, I listen to it and speak into it on speaker-phone, 6 inches from my head.

Behold-- changed in the twinkling of an eye.

* You Drink It !

"The tritium leak into ground water at Vermont Yankee has now tested at 775,000 picocuries per liter, 37 times higher than the federal drinking water standard." Despite the much higher reading, an NRC spokeswoman said Thursday there was nothing to fear.

* The "Eli" in Elitism

Steerforth, Emily, and David at Yarmouth

The Yale "fence" and
the New Haven Green are contiguous.

My mother and brother, circa 1948.
Yale men were not allowed to date "town" girls
in my mother's youth.

Elitist Breeding Ground

I accepted the request of a Yale sophomore who has followed this blog (and my Sparring with the Yale Daily News blog) to be interviewed for an essay he is writing for class. At first I balked when he said his professor made it clear that the subject of the assigned essay should not be allowed to read the finished essay.

Apparently the professor's fear was that the student-writer would be subtly self-censored in his composing process by trying to please the person interviewed. In my case that fear is unfounded, since I enjoy criticism. It is food for thought.

I don't tolerate hate speech however, and made that clear to the editor of the Yale Daily News (see January 14th post this blog entitled "Yale Daily News removes Abusive Speech").

I agreed to the interview but said that the material could only be used for his essay if I was allowed to read it AFTER it was completed and to put it on my blog, reserving the author's copyright.

The professor assented (wise, since her students will have to write in the real world where those they interview will certainly read what is written about them) and apparently the essay will appear on February 26th.

Two areas of possible quicksand trouble me:

* The stereotype society has of those who graduate from a seminary: pious, softspoken, turning-the-other-cheek, sycophants for social tranquillity at all cost;


* The Generation Gap---can anyone under forty (fifty?) at Yale today understand what an elitist breeding ground Yale was right up to the time of "W" Bush?

When my mother was a girl living in the poor district of New Haven, Yale undergraduates (all of them MALE, of course, until 1970's) brought their manservants with them when they matriculated. The old campus had rooms set aside specifically for the valets to be close-by their young princes.

Yale students were not allowed to date "town" girls. (Steerforth and Emily?)*

The New Haven Register still had a "Society Page" (until the 1960's, I believe). Fathers still had "coming out " parties to introduce their daughters to polite society.

A Yale education was really an elaborate apprenticeship for upward mobility in society---who you "met" at Yale (not your talent or brains) could determine your career and future.

(Think Gatsby: "My beer bill at New Haven was more than that", Tom Buchanon says of Nick Carroway's $70 a month West Egg cottage rent . Nick took his meals "at the Yale Club" when in the City.)

Today, largely enhanced by Mr. Levin's tenure, Yale is an unashamedly egalitarian environment, with a dying cast of greybeard snobs from my generation, hovering off-stage,(wallets open one minute, closed the next) looking down their noses, lamenting the loss of Old Blue.

"Polite society" is a thing of the past.

"Polite people" however, still prevail.

Bravo, brava for that!

* In an ironic contortion of this elitism (perhaps premonitory of the co-ed days to come), a friend of mine's mother, who received her degree from Yale Art School around 1932, withdrew from a romance with an auto-mechanic working in her father's car dealership a block from Yale on Temple Street, because her parents thought he wasn't good enough for their daughter, the Yale student. (Think the Robert Reford version of Gatsby with the blunt line added to Daisy's role, in case the audience was too stupid to "get" the point: "Rich girls don't marry poor boys". Just change "rich" to "Yale".)

My friend's mother married a Yale man instead.(They had matching His-and-Hers-Yale-degrees hanging side-by-side in their house in the 1950's of my youth). That ended in divorce after three children were somewhat raised. She then married an artist and soon became a widow.

Determined to get it right, in her mid- fifties, she resumed the romance with the grease-monkey of her youth; they married and lived happily for many years. The rise of the great-middle-class had levelled the playing-field of elitism and classism. Her wisdom after two marriages had stiffened her resolve.

What a senseless delay.

Monday, February 15, 2010

* Where is the Plexiglass?

The Tragic Death at Vancouver Olympics

Please look closely at the final seconds of this luger's life. He is propelled into EXPOSED metal beams.

Where is the plexiglass shield to protect him from hitting those beams?

THIS question, as well as the excessive speed generated by the track, requires an answer.


* Water-skiing in Acapulco Bay 1965; Parasailing in Waikiki Bay 2005

In the last 45 years I have taken four vacations:

1965 Mexico (3 weeks)
1971 Amsterdam (10 days)
1998 Florence (10 days)
2005 Hawaii (10 days)

Each vacation was haunted by my own pennypinching, since I could barely afford the air fare and lived on one meal a day once I got there (except for Florence where I was guest for meals).

In one instance, the pennypinching actually enhanced the vacation: Mexico.

I was 20 and went with two friends from Ithaca College: Christia and Tom. Christia's mother was Writer in Residence at the University of the Americas on Paseo de la Reforma, and we stayed in her hacienda on campus ( a cement bungalo ). Immediately across the street from the campus on the Paseo was a two-room mud hut. The front room was a type of convenience store (which sold soda). The back room housed the proprietor, his wife and seven children, all sharing a single bed with a crucifix hung over it.

Christia and Tom had more money than I did, so they flew to Acapulco for one of our three weeks in Mexico. I took the bus, an economy which turned out to have been a stroke of great luck, for the bus travelled from 12,000 feet to sea level through mountains and valleys, rainbows and out-croppings of grass-covered huts. It was a tourist's dream of a ride, except for the cowboy driver who sped all the way.

When I got to Acapulco, I found Tom and Christia's hotel quickly enough and learned they were on the 20th floor. I didn't have money to pay for the hotel that night, so I slept on the beach, making a bed out of the sand.

In the middle of the night---a balmy beautiful beach night---I noticed there were several large cats patrolling the sands on the beach around me in the shadowy surroundings. At a closer look, their tails seemed too stiff for cats and I concluded I had got the first letter wrong: they weren't cats at all---they were rats.

This got me on my feet and down for a dip in the tepid sea, gently rocking me back and forth as I stood chest high in the deep. Soon lightning appeared on the horizon and I decided my midnight cradle gentle rocking was about to become a midnight frying pan, so I hightailed it to the sidewalk above the beach.

I was too proud to ask Christia and Tom to take me in since I was unable to pay a third of that night's fee, and I walked the streets of Acapulco till 7 the next morning, absorbing the sounds of bars closing and the odor of garbage being cleaned off the alleyways, an odor which is the same round the world no matter the street or clime.

I had been pinching pennies because I promised myself I would water-ski in Acapulco Bay. I had learned to water-ski while a camp counselor in Mallet's Bay in Vermont in 1960 and I wanted to be able to say I water-skiid in Acapulco too.

Hiring the ski-boat was exactly the price of one night in the hotel split by three, hence my night on the beach with the rats.

That was 45 years ago: I was 20 going on 21. Even though I have held bragging rights to water-skiing on Acapulco Bay all these years, the better adventure was sleeping on the beach with the rats; swimming in the midnight ocean to a backdrop of lightning; and walking the streets of Acapulco all night long--putting the city to bed and waking it up.

Forty years later I'm on the 29th floor of a hotel over Waikiki Beach. Not much has changed in those 40 years: I am still penny-pinching to be able to afford an extravagance--- this time it's parasailing which requires my eating yogurt and nuts for two meals a day so I can purchase the highest sail, 1200 ft (400 ft. above the lowest sail) for my adventure.

It was my 60th birthday present to myself and 1200 feet above the Bay (higher than the Empire State building) the parasail's seat rocked back and forth in the wind like a child's playground swing.

I descended all 1200feet with a smile plastered on my face that lasted two weeks.

Pure unadulterated fun, at age 60, is just as pure and just as unadulterated as at 20.

PS: I won't tell you about the Mexican family in a 1954 Nash who picked us three up hitch-hiking on the Paseo de la Reforma and took us home to a meal cooked by their "maid". When they found us sufficiently naive, they asked us to bring a package back to Nyack, New York (Tom's home) to deliver to their family member. It never occurred to me in 1965 that the package might contain drugs, and we three,in profound innocence, transported it across border and 3000 miles home.

Wet behind the ears (all six of them)!