Sunday, September 28, 2014

* Amendment Number One at Yale

William F. Buckley, Jr.
as editor of the Yale Daily News
William F. Buckley, Jr.,
founder and editor of The National Review

A gracious acknowledgement
my dedication of Holy Smoke:
"To William F. Buckley, Jr.,
whose writings alerted me that man is God at Yale."
 I had written him that I hoped the dedication and prose would please him even if the ideas did not; hence, his reply.

The William F. Buckley, Jr. Foundation at Yale generated a bit of controversy this year by sponsoring a speaker whose invitation to speak at Brandeis had been withdrawn last year due to her controversial opinions about Islam. (Link above). 
This reminds me that I proposed in this blog months ago that the Buckley Foundation perform just this function of providing a safe-harbor for free speech  denied at other academic institutions (think Condoleeza Rice). 
I'm glad they took my suggestion, whether they knew it or not.
Mr. Buckley very generously encouraged my own use of the First Amendment at Yale in (link) Holy Smoke, 33 years ago (see below).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

* Linda Carbino Does Enormous Good

Through her CATV-8 Public Access Television program "Walking Through Life" Linda Carbino has helped hundreds of people around Vermont cope with  personal problems and addictive behavior, encouraging self help and challenging prejudice against various kinds of illness.

I have no comment about this particular opinion of hers (seen below), published in today's Valley News, but I do admire Ms. Carbino's work in Vermont, and have done so for years.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

* Fatal Medical Choices: Hubris of the Super Stars



The Famous Can Present

a Minefield for Doctors

SEPT. 21, 2014

As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” It is an observation that holds true, apparently, even in the operating room. The treatment of Joan Rivers at a Manhattan endoscopy clinic last month may be the latest example of what is known in the medical profession as “V.I.P. Syndrome,” in which famous or influential patients get special treatment. And surprisingly often, it is not for the best . . .

Several doctors said that if the clinic, Yorkville Endoscopy, had granted a privilege to Ms. Rivers that they would not have granted to a typical patient, it could be seen as a case of V.I.P. Syndrome. It is unclear who coined the term, but it was described in a 1964 article by a psychiatrist, Dr. Walter Weintraub, in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, where he wrote, “the treatment of an influential man can be extremely hazardous for both patient and doctor.”
Steve Jobs' Cancer Treatment Regrets

Alice G. Walton

 Jobs’ “magical thinking” may have defined his business brilliance, but it could have been his downfall in his fight against cancer.
According to Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, the Apple mastermind eventually came to regret the decision he had made years earlier to reject potentially life-saving surgery in favor of alternative treatments like acupuncture, dietary supplements and juices. Though he ultimately embraced the surgery and sought out cutting-edge experimental methods, they were not enough to save him.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

* Why Did Ken Burns Omit Eleanor Roosevelt's Role in the Marian Anderson / DAR Scandal from his "The Roosevelts" Series?

It  cannot possibly be ignorance (Ken Burns is too bright for that) which led editors to omit Eleanor Roosevelt's role in the Marian Anderson/DAR scandal from his The Roosevelts series. 

What, then, could have caused such a significant omission? 

Eleanor Roosevelt not only resigned from the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) in protest over their refusal to allow a "negro" to sing at Constitution Hall, she used her influence with her husband, the President, to arrange for the U.S. Park Service to schedule the concert for the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, making it the first great civil rights protest in the country's history.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

* In Memory of Al Worrell, Professor of Forestry at Yale, and my next door neighbor in the 1950's

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees

NYT Opinion

campaign: nyt2014_sharetools_mkt_opinion_47K78 -- 249335, creative: nyt2014_sharetools_mktg_opinion_47K78 -- 375123, page:, targetedPage:, position: MiddleLeft
NEW HAVEN — AS international leaders gather in New York next week for a United Nations climate summit, they will be preoccupied with how to tackle the rising rate of carbon emissions. To mitigate the crisis, one measure they are likely to promote is reducing deforestation and planting trees.

A landmark deal to support sustainable forestry was a heralded success story of the last international climate talks, in Warsaw last year. Western nations, including the United States, Britain and Norway, handed over millions of dollars to developing countries to kick-start programs to reduce tropical deforestation. More funds are promised.

Deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide. The assumption is that planting trees and avoiding further deforestation provides a convenient carbon capture and storage facility on the land.

That is the conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom is wrong.

In reality, the cycling of carbon, energy and water between the land and the atmosphere is much more complex. Considering all the interactions, large-scale increases in forest cover can actually make global warming worse.

Of course, this is counterintuitive. We all learn in school how trees effortlessly perform the marvel of photosynthesis: They take up carbon dioxide from the air and make oxygen. This process provides us with life, food, water, shelter, fiber and soil. The earth’s forests generously mop up about a quarter of the world’s fossil-fuel carbon emissions every year.

So it’s understandable that we’d expect trees to save us from rising temperatures, but climate science tells a different story. Besides the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, another important switch on the planetary thermostat is how much of the sun’s energy is taken up by the earth’s surface, compared to how much is reflected back to space. The dark color of trees means that they absorb more of the sun’s energy and raise the planet’s surface temperature.

Climate scientists have calculated the effect of increasing forest cover on surface temperature. Their conclusion is that planting trees in the tropics would lead to cooling, but in colder regions, it would cause warming.

In order to grow food, humans have changed about 50 percent of the earth’s surface area from native forests and grasslands to crops, pasture and wood harvest. Unfortunately, there is no scientific consensus on whether this land use has caused overall global warming or cooling. Since we don’t know that, we can’t reliably predict whether large-scale forestation would help to control the earth’s rising temperatures.

Worse, trees emit reactive volatile gases that contribute to air pollution and are hazardous to human health. These emissions are crucial to trees — to protect themselves from environmental stresses like sweltering heat and bug infestations. In summer, the eastern United States is the world’s major hot spot for volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.s) from trees.

As these compounds mix with fossil-fuel pollution from cars and industry, an even more harmful cocktail of airborne toxic chemicals is created. President Ronald Reagan was widely ridiculed in 1981 when he said, “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” He was wrong on the science — but less wrong than many assumed.

Chemical reactions involving tree V.O.C.s produce methane and ozone, two powerful greenhouse gases, and form particles that can affect the condensation of clouds. Research by my group at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and by other laboratories, suggests that changes in tree V.O.C.s affect the climate on a scale similar to changes in the earth’s surface color and carbon storage capacity.

While trees provide carbon storage, forestry is not a permanent solution because trees and soil also “breathe” — that is, burn oxygen and release carbon dioxide back into the air. Eventually, all of the carbon finds its way back into the atmosphere when trees die or burn.

Moreover, it is a myth that photosynthesis controls the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. Even if all photosynthesis on the planet were shut down, the atmosphere’s oxygen content would change by less than 1 percent.

The Amazon rain forest is often perceived as the lungs of the planet. In fact, almost all the oxygen the Amazon produces during the day remains there and is reabsorbed by the forest at night. In other words, the Amazon rain forest is a closed system that uses all its own oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Planting trees and avoiding deforestation do offer unambiguous benefits to biodiversity and many forms of life. But relying on forestry to slow or reverse global warming is another matter entirely.

The science says that spending precious dollars for climate change mitigation on forestry is high-risk: We don’t know that it would cool the planet, and we have good reason to fear it might have precisely the opposite effect. More funding for forestry might seem like a tempting easy win for the world leaders at the United Nations, but it’s a bad bet.

Nadine Unger is an assistant professor of atmospheric chemistry at Yale.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

* Just a minute !

The year after the 1970 shootings a Kent State
 appeared with the words
 and a bull's eye  with a bullet hole in it on the BACK OF THE  SHIRT.  
The original cannot be found on Google Images
so the shirt above approximates the effect.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

* Capitalism as Worship

". . .  Pop culture was acquiring its own cultic aspect, one neatly configured for technological dissemination. Why, after all, would the need for ritual subside when the economic system remained the same? ( [Walter]Benjamin once wrote 'Capitalism is a purely cultic religion, perhaps the most extreme that ever existed') Celebrities were rising to the status of secular gods; publicity stills froze their faces in the manner of religious icons. Pop musicians elicited Dionysian screams as they danced across the altar of the stage. And their aura became, in a sense, even more magical; instead of drawing pilgrims from afar, the pop masterpiece is broadcast outward, to a captive world congregation. It radiates and saturates." (p.93)

THE NAYSAYERS: Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and the critique of pop culture

Alex Ross

The New Yorker
September 15, 2014

* You queer ... I'll sock you in the goddam face " Wm. F. Buckley, Jr., to Gore Vidal

Move cursor to 10:42 for the juicy confrontation.

If William F. Buckley, can call Gore Vidal a "queer"

threaten to "sock him in the goddam face" under

the banner
of free speech on national television

(see YouTube clip  above; articles below)

then Yale should certainly allow the
Buckley Foundation, under that same banner, to

present a
speaker who has renounced Islam.
Paul D. Keane
M. Div. '80
The Anti-Yale

Captured in a vintage black-and-white YouTube clip, the two can be seen and heard
engaging in a nasty word brawl. Mr. Vidal pins the label “crypto-Nazi” on
Buckley, who testily responds by calling Mr. Vidal a “queer.” The epithets were
ugly then, as they are today. But what is most striking to the contemporary
viewer is how much the combatants resemble each other, beginning with their
languidly patrician tones. The phrases come from the gutter, but plainly Mr.
Vidal and Buckley do not. They exude the princely confidence once associated
with well-born Americans of a certain pedigree. (Google “ Buckley Vidal Master

LIZARDO: Why Hirsi Ali should come

Just under three weeks ago, President Salovey delivered his freshman address on free expression at Yale. He quoted extensively from the Woodward Report, a document whose language he called “clear and unambiguous” in its defense of free speech, and he made the case for why “unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.”
Our community now faces an opportunity to put these ideals into practice. The Buckley Program, an undergraduate group on campus, recently invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to give a lecture next week. An accomplished and courageous woman, Hirsi Ali has an amazing story. She suffered genital mutilation as a child and later fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage. These are beyond mere “unfortunate circumstances,” as some organizations have called it. Once in the Netherlands, she worked at a refugee center, became a politician, fought for human dignity and women’s rights and ultimately abandoned her Muslim faith. In her works since then, she has voiced strong opinions against Islam, opinions which have provoked constant threats on her life ever since.
As the president of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program, here is my understanding of the controversy that then unfolded: When news of the upcoming Sept. 15 lecture became public, a student representative of the Muslim Students Association contacted me and asked to meet. During our first conversation, she requested that the Buckley Program disinvite Hirsi Ali. I told her such an option — which she now denies to me and University administrators having presented — was a nonstarter.
I distinctly remember that this student then asked if my group would consider either prohibiting Hirsi Ali from speaking on Islam or inviting another speaker to join — someone who would supposedly be more representative and qualified to discuss the subject. She told me certain national organizations, which I expected to be opposed to Hirsi Ali’s invitation, were interested in her visit to Yale. I took this to mean these organizations might drum up a controversy about Hirsi Ali’s visit. And she expressed support for the Brandeis University administration, which revoked an honorary degree from Hirsi Ali this past spring. This, of course, was precisely one of the incidents of censorship that President Salovey alluded to in his address.
This student, the MSA, and a little over 30 other organizations signed an open letter — with its fair share of cherry-picked quotes and mischaracterizations — that was sent yesterday in a school-wide email. But these students fail to understand the purpose of the University and the meaning and necessity of free speech within it.
The idea that free speech extends to only those with whom one agrees is close-minded. The idea that inviting an additional speaker is necessary in order to supposedly advance free speech, but really just to correct our own lecturer’s views, is ridiculous. The idea that a fellow undergraduate organization can dictate to another how to run its own event is shameless. And the idea that only so-called “experts” merit invitations is absurd. (After all, I don’t remember anyone fretting over Al Sharpton’s invitation to speak on the death penalty last week despite his lack of a criminal-law degree.)
These standards and requests are unjust not simply because some students were seeking to unevenly impose them, but more importantly because they are antithetical to the pursuit of knowledge that defines a university like Yale. Such a pursuit requires a robust protection of the right to freely express one’s views, however controversial.
One need not agree with everything Ayaan Hirsi Ali says to agree that her voice makes a valuable contribution to advancing the open exchange of ideas on this campus. In his address, President Salovey declared, “We should not offend merely to offend. We should not provoke without careful forethought.” If one actually examines Hirsi Ali’s work, one sees that she does present well-reasoned arguments, even if disagreeable, and that she doesn’t provoke merely to provoke, which should be evident by the many death threats she has received throughout the years.
Her work does not qualify as “libel and slander,” as was suggested by the open letter, and it cannot be reduced to purported “hate speech,” a slur used simply to silence speech with which one disagrees. A sincere observer will readily find that Hirsi Ali is far from the inflammatory demagogue the MSA portrays her as. Instead, that observer will find that she is a brave woman deeply committed to fighting for the respect and dignity of millions of oppressed women around the world.
The MSA’s insistence throughout the past week that we cancel or change the format of our event strays far from the ideals of free expression so eloquently defended by President Salovey and so essential to our university. If the MSA or another student organization would like to invite another guest of their own, the Buckley Program will not stop them. But we hope that if anyone from the Yale community attempts to disrupt our event, the administration will stand behind its stated commitment that students be allowed, and indeed encouraged, “to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable and challenge the unchallengeable.”
Rich Lizardo is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College. He is the president of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program. Contact him at .

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

* Moulding Minds with Money



. . .   Perhaps the largest challenge facing the Big History Project, however, is Gates himself, or at least the specter of him. To his bafflement and frustration, he has become a remarkably polarizing figure in the education world. This owes largely to the fact that Gates, through his foundation, has spent more than $200 million to advocate for the Common Core, something of a third rail in education circles. He has financed an army of policy groups, think tanks and teachers’ unions to marshal support for the new rules and performance measurements that have been adopted by 44 states. Many education experts, while generally supportive of the new goals for reading and math skills, have been critical of the seemingly unilateral way in which the policy appeared to be rolled out. The standards have engendered public anger on both the right and left, and some states, including Indiana and Oklahoma, have decided to repeal the Common Core altogether.

In March, the American Federation of Teachers announced that it would no longer accept grants from the Gates Foundation for its innovation fund, which had already received more than $5 million from the organization. As Randi Weingarten, the A.F.T. president, told Politico, “I got convinced by the level of distrust I was seeing — not simply on Twitter, but in listening to members and local leaders — that it was important to find a way to replace Gates’s funding.” When I spoke with Weingarten last month, she elaborated on her union members’ problem with Gates. “Instead of actually working with teachers and listening to what teachers needed to make public education better,” she said, Gates’s team “would work around teachers, and that created tremendous distrust.”

Teachers, she continued, feared that his foundation was merely going to reduce them to test scores. While Weingarten said that she tried to work with Gates to “pierce” the animosity, she ultimately chose to part ways because “our members perceived that we were doing things in our support of Common Core because of the Gates Foundation, as opposed to because it was the right thing to do.” It was a difficult decision, Weingarten said. “Bill Gates has more money than God. People just don’t do what we did.”. . .

Diane Ravitch, an education historian at New York University who has been a vocal critic of Gates, put even it more starkly: “When I think about history, I think about different perspectives, clashing points of view. I wonder how Bill Gates would treat the robber barons. I wonder how Bill Gates would deal with issues of extremes of wealth and poverty.” (The Big History Project doesn’t mention robber barons, but it does briefly address unequal distribution of resources.) Ravitch continued: “It begins to be a question of: Is this Bill Gates’s history? And should it be labeled ‘Bill Gates’s History’? Because Bill Gates’s history would be very different from somebody else’s who wasn’t worth $50-60 billion.” (Gates’s estimated net worth is approximately $80 billion.)

The Bill and Melinda Gradgrind Foundation

Thursday, September 4, 2014

* The Streets of New Haven (1944 -2012)


 (A reflection for Mr. Daponte-Smith)


(1944 - 2014)

For seven decades New Haven's streets

have been my

Dickens and Twain called



“the most beautiful street in America.”


These were the streets
of Presidents: Bill (and Hillary),
Bushes, and the rotund Taft.
The streets of Buckley’s God and Man at Yale
The streets of Black Panthers and Sloane Coffin.

The same streets on

which John Hinckley

stalked Jodi Foster,
hatching a demented plan
for a President.


Streets where the Streeps and Winklers
walked to drama class; hoping to hear
the Shubert ghosts,
Thornton and Tallulah,
rehearsing "The Skin of Our Teeth."


In my great-grandmother's day,

these streets were horse-filled

pathways from which the stench

of dying slaves trapped aboard

a harbored Amistad

wafted toward Yale nostrils.

Now they are asphalt:


Streets where campus

merely kick a black man on graduation night.*


Ah, New Haven: my birthplace,
my curseplace.


Paul Keane

M. Div. ‘80