Archive for August, 2012
31 Aug 2012

Left-Wing Punditocracy Pans Clint Eastwood

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I can’t seem to find a very flattering photo of Clint Eastwood out there today for some reason, but there are sure a lot of photos making him look angry or confused.

It is always impressive to see just how thoroughly and competently the professional apparatchiks of the left-wing commentariat do a take-down on a genuinely threatening adversary. The same kind of pretentious culture mavens who will happily queue up for tickets to a six hour opera by Stockhausen, and who have no difficulty in parsing the subtle symbolism of the latest Abbas Kiarostami movie, we are being told today, were supposedly baffled by Clint Eastwood’s little skit.

Since last night, the anti-Eastwood quips have been flying like snowflakes in a blizzard of negative commentary. What you see going on, of course, is the customary effort of the establishment media to write history its own way.

Bias and political manipulation aside, today’s massive hit job on Eastwood, I thought, constituted a revealing commentary on the dimness and superficiality of the American elite and its culture. Most societies respect the elderly. One might suppose that elite members of a nation as highly educated and sophisticated as the United States would be perfectly well aware that most men of Clint Eastwood’s age are, in fact, already deceased. That very, very smart people would be conscious that a fellow 82 years of age (if lucky enough to be above ground) is usually bent, shriveled, wrinkled, bloated, palsied, confused and barely able to navigate. Clint Eastwood actually looked damned good. He was slender and still handsome and stood tall and straight.

With characteristic self-deprecating modesty, Clint Eastwood deliberately chose merely to ad lib an informal conversation with an imaginary Barack Obama. Eastwood’s performance was by intention spontaneous and un-professionally-polished. It could doubtless have been smoother and more crafted and artfully designed, but Clint Eastwood (being an ordinary American and a Republican) decided to just wing it and went with authenticity. Non-snobbish-members-of-the-leftwing-pseudo-intellectual-community-of-fashion naturally recognized that it was no easy thing for an 82-year-old guy to stand up that long, or to concentrate well enough to extemporize such a performance, and we all thought Eastwood did really well. He performed smoothly enough, and delivered several nifty and very telling lines with an impact that was highly effectively underlined by his obvious modesty and sincerity. We recognized, and admired, his disinclination toward indulging in insult and open animosity and could see that his criticism of President Obama was deliberately being understated. We liked Clint Eastwood’s performance very much, and thought it was fitting and a real indication of the rightness of our cause that a man like him was on our side.

I thought myself that it demonstrated beautifully the way the American left’s commentary emanates from Planet Asshole that, when an elderly celebrity is courageous enough to speak in public honestly, displaying openly some of the deficits of old age, the pseudo-intelligentsia scratches its head in confusion and demands aloud: “What’s wrong with that guy? Doesn’t he understand that you’re supposed to be completely smooth, polished, perfect, and… young?” There are no old men in the country of the left.

31 Aug 2012

American 550lb. Bomb Detonated in Munich

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BBC:

A bomb disposal team has detonated an American bomb left over from World War II found in the German city of Munich.

The detonation happened shortly before 22:00 local time (20:00 GMT) in the Schwabing district and was heard across the city, local media report.

There are reports that sparks from the explosion caused the roofs of some neighbouring buildings to catch fire.

The bomb was discovered on Monday night by building workers at the site of an old bar that was being demolished.

Overnight, 2,500 residents were evacuated from the area closest to the bomb, with others living further away being told to stay in their homes.

Experts decided it was not possible to make the device safe because of its unusual fuse, which operated by means of a chemical reaction rather than the mechanical device that many Allied World War II bombs used.

The bomb was described as a highly explosive, a 550lb (250kg) device dropped by the Americans.

It is not unusual for big, unexploded bombs to be discovered in Germany, the BBC’s Stephen Evans reports.

About 600 tonnes of unexploded ordnance are discovered in Germany every year.

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

31 Aug 2012

Who’s To Blame?

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(click on image for larger version)

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(click on image for larger version)

Hat tip to Theo.

30 Aug 2012

Paul Ryan’s Speech Last Night

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Joe Biden debating Paul Ryan is going to be a battle of IQs reminiscent of George Custer taking on 6000 Cheyenne and Sioux warriors with just over 200 men.

Roger Kimball
gloats over Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech and indulges in a just little schadenfreude with respect to the opposition.

I suspect that Joe Biden is feeling pretty awful this morning. For that matter, I’d wager Barack Obama has had better nights’ rest. Condi Rice’s speech was bad enough for the Democrats — it was serious, dignified, eloquent — but Paul Ryan hit it out of the park. They both must have watched Ryan’s speech. They both must have come away with an empty feeling in the pit of the stomach. And poor Joe has to debate Ryan in a little more than a month. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost. …

He read the speech, but he knows how to make it seem ex tempore, almost confidential. His manner is open, confident, but somehow also humble. There is nothing swaggering, nothing of the braggart or narcissist about him. He seems impressed not by the sound of his own voice but by the facts and observations he shares with his listeners. He also exuded the physical grace of youth. His iPod playlist, unlike Mitt Romney’s, started with AC/DC and went to Zepplin. The audience loved that.

Ryan’s obvious sincerity allows him to deliver devastating one-liners without seeming cruel:

    President Obama is the kind of politician who puts promises on the record, and then calls that the record. But we are four years into this presidency. The issue is not the economy as Barack Obama inherited it, not the economy as he envisions it, but this economy as we are living it.

Ouch. But then came this:

    College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.

That must have stung.

30 Aug 2012

Stopping Ephraim When He’s Angry

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A highly-provocative, must-read thread for those likely to go fishing or hunting in Grizzly Bear country from the Box O’ Truth’s discussion forums. (Firefox misinterpreted this as an attack site, which it is not. I just ignored the warnings.)

The bear came upon us on a creek at about 50 yards from the ocean. We were sitting, shooting the breeze. My friend fired first, hitting the bear in the left upper chest, it turned and ran at full speed around a bend. I popped up and shot as it passed through a small opening about 20 yards after it was first shot, about 1 second later. I hit it low in the left shoulder as it was running with it left paw extended towards the rear. The bear rolled another 15 or 20 yards, but was out of sight from our position. He let out a death bellow shortly after my shot. We waited 15 minutes before turning the corner and we found him dead.

We were both shooting the .375 H&H. CM was using the 260 Nosler Accubond and I was using the 260 gr. Nosler Partition. CM’s frontal shot hit high on the heart and my shot was low. … Both bullets exited from the same hole. … Remember, after a shot through the heart the bear went from a standing start to 35 MPH and had covered 20 yards in 1 second. Only after a second shot through both shoulders and the heart did it stumble.

CM’s bullet disappeared into the rear of the animal and mine went through the left shoulder, not breaking the bone, hit a rib, went through the heart/lungs exited the chest and stopped in the right shoulder, not breaking the bone.

We were in a race with the tide so we quickly skinned the bear and ran (staggered) a mile back to the cabin. The next day I went back to perform the autopsy. Something (many) had been feeding on the carcass and had eaten the bloody portion of the right shoulder including the bullet – one big bite. The next day another bear came and picked up the entire carcass, several hundred pounds, and walk off with it with out leaving a drag mark, presumably up the creek and into the alder where visibility was about 10 inches.

So, I think a grizzly bear is tougher than ballistic gelatin and a bullet that would penetrate 12 inches of jello would not penetrate 12 inches of bear shoulder. Therefore a side shot on a bear through the shoulder with a handgun cartridge would not make it into the chest or, if it did, would not have enough energy left to do much damage. Same bad news from the front. Even if the bullet eventually killed the bear it would not die in your life time which would only be another few seconds.

It has been determined the factor which determines your survival after a bear encounter – death vs being mangled – depends upon if the bear can get your head in its mouth.

They go on to discuss whether a hail of pistol bullets from a conventional large magazine handgun would work in such a crisis. I had John Linebaugh build me one of his 5-shot custom Bisleys chambered for the .500 Linebaugh cartridge. That pistol can send a 450 grain bullet downrange at 1300 fps, but the recoil is ferocious and I’m not sure exactly how fast I could hope to get back on target for a second shot. Not all that rapidly, I expect. All this is a very intriguing, and potentially a matter of life-and-death, debate.

30 Aug 2012

Yale Club Surrenders to Demos

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The Vanderbilt Avenue entrance to what used to be a respectable gentleman’s club.

The Yale Club of New York City (Bad idea!) resorted to a membership survey to determine whether the club’s perfectly proper and conventional dress code ought to relaxed.

60% (shudder!) favored relaxing the code, and rather than driving up to New Haven to shoot the people in charge of Yale’s admissions office, the powers that be at the Yale Club reached what our Bolshevik-edited alumni magazine describes as “a Solomonic decision.” (Just imagine what these guys would have said about Chamberlain at Munich!)

In a growing list of work environments and industries, denim has become an accepted and popular addition to sartorial correctness. The Club’s ban on denim in all areas, except the athletic and guest room floors, denies many members the ability to either have a meal or a drink in the Clubhouse. Accordingly, we will now allow denim – neat, clean and in good repair – to be worn on the roof this summer, on the library floor at all times, and in the Grill Room on weekends .

The dress code in the Main Lounge, Tap Room and other areas of the Club will remain business casual.

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Caty Weaver, at Gawker, was deservedly abusive.

In a stunt so preposterous it could only have been dreamed up by a Harvard man, the Yale Club of New York City announced earlier this summer it would permit members to wear the rough twill fabric of Nîmes in select areas of the Clubhouse at certain times.

Yale, which, no offense, is literally a third-rate vocational-technical school that only offers night classes, is frequently ranked among the top universities in the country due to a long-standing clerical error.

At one time it served as a finishing school for America’s elite. In recent decades it has fallen into favor with the kind of people who would be seen in denim out-of-doors on the Sabbath.

Previously, the Yale Club observed a ban on denim in all areas with the exception of athletic and guest room floors. However, recently plain-faced Yalies with calloused hands and backwoods manners had begun grunting about their desire to wear tuxedos of the Canadian variety. To have shirtless wrestling matches in the middle of the club’s fine dining room. To turn cocktail hour into some kind of stockinged feet hootenanny.

Accordingly, the lord of the club, Mr. Yale himself, released a survey to members attempting to gauge how far they were willing to debase themselves.

The results were Fucking. Horrifying.

Over half the respondents reported a desire to wear jeans and probably bikini tops and bedroom slippers that look like cushy oversized sneakers all the time, including in bed and in the shower. Meanwhile, a mere 40 percent of respondents felt it should be legal to shoot and kill a person wearing denim on sight. …

Thankfully, the non-brothel areas of the Club will remain business-casual.

29 Aug 2012

Establishment Media Responds to “Sex and God at Yale”

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If Nathan Harden is not working as a symbolist poet, he really needs a haircut.

My wife Karen was wondering what kind of critical reception Nathan Harden’s Sex and God at Yale was receiving.

Well, Gawker responded first, unleashing its most fearsome attack-pansy Hamilton Nolan to sneer and condescend all over it.

If you don’t have a book contract right this minute, you should very ashamed. Consider: Nathan Harden…, a 2009 graduate of Yale, not only got a book contract, but has already written and published his book, and that book is about how bad it is that kids are into sex things at Yale—a topic that a professional book publishing house presumably considered sufficiently interesting to pay Nathan Harden U.S. currency, to write it. …

Yale has a Sex Week where they have panels that discuss SEX and SEX THINGS with COLLEGE STUDENTS. And… seems like a good topic for an outraged book by a young man, right? Sure, sure. But wait—there’s more:

    Harden’s other examples of an institution run amok (an acting class run by a yoga fascist, a Spanish language class in which the professor shows a film with a lesbian sex scene) are revealing but not revealing enough to make one feel that an obsession with sex has turned Yale into a “great institution in decline – an institution of tremendous power and influence that is no longer aware of why it exists or for what purpose,” as Harden claims.

Not just sex discussion panels, but yoga and even very mildly racy films? Thank God someone has published this, in a book. The above paragraph is from a NYT book review, btw. Was your book reviewed in the NYT? No? Hmm.

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The New York Times Hanna Rosin pegs Hardin as a rube and a naif, while simultaneously indicating that his book-length indignation is really just a cynical careerist pose.

The conservative movement loves an innocent. Better yet if he has attended an Ivy League college and witnessed the debauchery of the elites firsthand. For this particular position, Nathan Harden, the author of “Sex and God at Yale,” possesses impeccable credentials. He was home-schooled, was already married when he got to college and had worshiped the institution so blindly that he was bound to be disappointed. …

Harden finds himself much in the same situation as Brad Majors at Dr. Frank N. Furter’s convention in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”; that is, a choirboy type faced with a cast of characters he had not at this point in his squeaky-clean life imagined existed. He sits in on a lecture called “Babeland’s Lip Tricks,” given by a burlesque performer named Darlinda, who leads the students in chanting unprintable words, and then demonstrates with great care and enthusiasm her whole foreplay array of lip, tongue and hand techniques. The fact that Yale lends its name and its classrooms to such a display is too much for Harden to stomach. He sits in the back where a couple of pervy professors are lurking, and watches his dreams die. …

Drinking the Ivy League poison is, of course, a great conservative tradition, a way for Young Turks to show they could be accepted into the elite even as they choose to set themselves apart.

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Newsweek’s Daily Beast (a sort of anti-conservative punditocratic gay bar and home of Andrew Sullivan and David Frum) rustled up a couple of recent grad sophisters to pooh-pooh the significance of Sex Week at Yale (Harden’s central theme).

It doesn’t matter, you see, that the Yale Administration throws open its major lecture halls to sex toy demonstrations, bondage displays, and career talks by pornographers and porn stars. No undergraduates are actually in attendance. Everyone is at class.

Yale students go to class.

You wouldn’t get that impression reading the article by our classmate Nathan Harden. His is a Yale of “sex-toy pageants, porn-star lectures, sadomasochism seminars, and fellatio demonstrations.” Those things did happen, during Sex Week at Yale: a 10-day event held biennially that most students don’t really attend because they have other stuff to do. Like go to class.

And, besides, if anyone were actually there and attending these particular events, it would be an educational exercise in deconstructing their significance. Porn is a major part of every Yale student’s life, and like everything else in the universe, porn must be talked about and studied.

In 2012, however, most Yale students have watched approximately a billion hours of porn by the time they matriculate, from hentai (anime porn) to scat (poopy porn) to crying (porn where people cry). And because porn, we agree with Harden, “isn’t just fantasy, it’s a powerful force shaping our culture,” it needs to be unpacked, just like King Lear, the Illiad (sic), and Moby-Dick.

Sex (in every shape and form) is dignified and legitimated as a topic of interest and study on the basis of its political relevance to the struggle of a major victim group for liberation.

For feminists in particular, sex can’t be a private affair. And indeed, for women throughout history, sex never has been (see Anne Boleyn and her inability to give Henry VIII a son).

That’s because sex is the site of most of the struggles that women face as women: rape, sexual harassment, reproductive rights, the pressure to be impossibly skinny (so people will have sex with you), the pressure not to be too aggressive or loud or ambitious (so people will have sex with you), the pressure not to have too much sex so you’re not a slut, the fact that so many women never have good sex at all (college women have orgasms half as often as men on repeat hookups). …

Public discussions of sexual culture don’t turn people sexist. They make them less sexist. And Yale gives lots of controversial issues a public airing, and controversial people a podium. …

This year, a group of Yale students organized a “True Love Week” to run alongside “Sex Week,” with events like “The Person as Gift,” “Chastity and Human Goods,” and a traditional date night. …

A “Sex Week” and a “True Love Week” vying for classroom space, and students talking and writing and caring about it—that’s a perfect expression of what Yale’s mission is today.

29 Aug 2012

Looking For Richard

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Unknown artist, Richard III, mid-16th century, Society of Antiquaries, London

A search is on in Leicester for the remains of Richard III, slain in battle at Bosworth Field, and then buried at Greyfriars Church. The location of the burial, and even the exact location of the Franciscan Friary, have been lost to five centuries of development.

HuffPo UK reports:

Philippa Langley, from the Richard III Society which has been involved with the project, said: “We know he was buried here but the church disappeared after the dissolution of the monasteries as did his grave so today we begin the search for Richard.

“We know his body was led into Leicester and put on display for three days by Henry Tudor before he was buried.

“I hope we do find him because I want to give him a proper resting place and also to explode a lot of myths around Richard III.”

Richard Buckley, co-director of the Archaeology Service at the university, said: “It is quite a long shot but it’s a very exciting project. We don’t know the whereabouts of any of the friary buildings at the moment. We don’t know precisely where the body would have been buried but we suspect it would be in the choir or near the alter.”

If bones are found they will be assessed for trauma to the skeleton, as the monarch was killed in battle, then be subject to DNA analysis.

King Richard III, the last Plantagenet, ruled England from 1483 until he was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Richard may never be found as there is also a tradition that the late king’s remains were thrown into the River Soar at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

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Wikipedia:

On 22 August 1485, Richard met the outnumbered forces of Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was astride his white courser. The size of Richard’s army has been estimated at 8,000, Henry’s at 5,000, but exact numbers cannot be known. During the battle Richard was abandoned by Baron Stanley (made Earl of Derby in October), Sir William Stanley, and Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. Despite his apparent affiliation with Richard, Baron Stanley’s wife, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was Henry Tudor’s mother. The switching of sides by the Stanleys severely depleted the strength of Richard’s army and had a material effect on the outcome of the battle. Also the death of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, his close companion, appears to have had a demoralising effect on Richard and his men. Perhaps in realisation of the implications of this, Richard then appears to have led an impromptu cavalry charge deep into the enemy ranks in an attempt to end the battle quickly by striking at Henry Tudor himself. Accounts note that Richard fought bravely and ably during this manoeuvre, unhorsing Sir John Cheney, a well-known jousting champion, killing Henry’s standard bearer Sir William Brandon and coming within a sword’s length of Henry himself before being finally surrounded by Sir William Stanley’s men and killed. Tradition holds that his final words were “treason, treason, treason!”, when he found Lord Stanley had turned against him. The Welsh accounts state that Sir Wyllyam Gardynyr killed King Richard III with a poleaxe. The blows were so violent that the king’s helmet was driven into his skull. The account reads, “Richard’s horse was trapped in the marsh where he was slain by one of Rhys Thomas’ men, a commoner named Wyllyam Gardynyr.” Another account has Rhys ap Thomas himself slaying the king.

Polydore Vergil, Henry Tudor’s official historian, would later record that “King Richard, alone, was killed fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies”. Richard’s naked body was then exposed, possibly in the collegiate foundation of the Annunciation of Our Lady, and hanged by Henry Tudor, now King Henry VII, before being buried at Greyfriars Church, Leicester. In 1495 Henry VII paid £50 for a marble and alabaster monument. According to one tradition, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries his body was thrown into the nearby River Soar, although other evidence suggests that a memorial stone was visible in 1612, in a garden built on the site of Greyfriars.[18] The exact location is now lost due to over 500 years of subsequent development. On 24 August 2012, the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society, have joined forces to begin a search for the mortal remains of King Richard III. Led by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), experts will be seeking to locate the Greyfriars site and discover whether the remains of Richard III may still be found. There is currently a memorial plaque on the site of the Cathedral where he may have once been buried, as well as a stone plaque on the bridge where his remains were allegedly thrown into the Soar.

28 Aug 2012

Soldiers Express Solidarity With Embattled Prince

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More than 15,700 mostly male & female soldiers from military forces of nations worldwide (I saw Germany, Russia, Spain, Canada, Italy, and Israel in there), who have been joined by some civilians as well, have come to the defense of Britain’s Prince Harry by posting unclothed photos of themselves online via a Facebook group titled: “Support Prince Harry with a naked salute!.”

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One US Navy seal added a particularly nice clothed salute:

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The general sentiment is that the Prince, who served in a combat unit in Afghanistan, is entitled to recreation and privacy in Las Vegas during his off-duty time, just like anybody else.

The Mirror

27 Aug 2012

Yale, 61 Years Later, the Rot Continues

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    What have you to recommend? I answer at once, Nothing. The whole current of thought and feeling, the whole stream of human affairs, is setting with irresistible force in that direction. The old ways of living, many of which were just as bad in their time as any of our devices are in ours, are breaking down all over Europe, and are floating this way and that like haycocks in a flood. Nor do I see why any wise man should expend much thought or trouble on trying to save their wrecks. The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.

    — FitzJames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, 1873.

61 years ago, the young William F. Buckley Jr. launched what would become a splendiferous career as celebrity commentator and public intellectual by publishing not long after his graduation from Yale a scathing critique of his alma mater, titled God and Man at Yale.

God and Man at Yale represented Buckley’s first major effort at “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!,'” and we may now read with a certain poignancy the report of Nathan Harden, Sex and God at Yale, compiled at a posting station considerably farther along the road to Hell in a handbasket, demonstrating just how little either History or Yale was listening.

The youthful naysayer of 1951, Buckley, was a classic version of the privileged insider. Buckley was rich, handsome, and stylish, educated at elite preparatory schools in Britain and the United States. At Yale, he was the kind of celebrity undergraduate BMOC that basically ceased to exist after coeducation: Captain of the Debating Team, Chairman of the Daily News, and –of course– member of Skull and Bones.

The contrast between Buckley and Harden could scarcely be more extreme. Nathan Harden was home-schooled, knows what manual labor is like, and grew up in a family that was short of cash living all over the Southern United States. Harden was turned down by Yale initially, attended one of the Claremont Colleges, then got into a one-term visiting student program at Yale, tried transferring and was turned down again, and finally re-applied and was accepted. He was 22 years old and already married by the time he started college in California, so he must have been 24 (and still married) by the time he finally got to Yale as a degree candidate. Harden did his junior year abroad in Rome and, though he speaks with some familiarity of Political Union debates, he clearly never became any kind of BMOC and obviously did not get into Bones.

Nathan Harden came to Yale with the ability to appreciate the richness of her centuries of history and tradition. He speaks openly of the intense pleasure to be found in exploring Yale’s incomparably rich academic offerings served up by some of the greatest living minds while living in the midst of a community of the most spectacularly talented people of one’s own generation sharing the same Arcadian existence. He also understands exactly why Yale is superior to Harvard.

But… like any representative of ordinary America studying at one of America’s most elite universities today, Nathan Harden was also frequently shocked by the estrangement from, and hostility toward, the America he came from of his alma mater, and appalled by the strange gods of Multiculturalism and Political Correctness who have ousted the Congregationalist Jehovah from that ancient university’s temple.

For Nathan Harden, Sex Week at Yale (which we learn from him recently constituted an eleven-day biennial Saturnalia of Smut in which all of the university’s best known lecture halls (!) were turned over to demonstrators of sex toys, porn stars, and dirty film moguls to dispense technical instruction and even career advice to the Yale undergraduate community) serves as a crucial synecdoche for the moral crisis at the heart of American university education generally and particularly at Yale.

Harden argues that “For God, For Country, and For Yale,” Yale’s motto, has become not so much a series of aspirative ends ranked in hierarchical order but rather an accurate historical description of Yale’s own primary locus of value.

Yale was founded as a college, intended to serve God by educating Congregationalist clergymen to fill the pulpits of the Colony of Connecticut. Over time it evolved into a national institution educating an elite group of leaders in business, the military, politics, the arts, and the sciences for the United States. Today Yale is decidedly a hotbed of infidelity to both Christianity and the United States. Secular Progressivism has thoroughly replaced Congregationalism and Christianity, and loyalty to an international elite community of fashion has supplanted any particularist sentiment in favor of the United States. The Yale Administration operates neither to serve God nor Country, but instead directs its efforts entirely toward forwarding its own goals and enhancing its own prestige.

Armed with an almost-unequaled cash endowment and an equally impressive historical legacy and accumulation of multi-generational glory and therefore a concomitant ability to attract talent and additional funding, the Yale Administration is formidably equipped to mold, educate, and inform in any direction it wishes, but as Nathan Harden explains, the problem that is increasingly evident is the practical inability of the University Administration to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, or up from down in the complex contemporary world of conflicting claims.

Presidents Angell, Seymour, and Griswold would have had no difficulty at all in understanding why the University ought not to lend the principal lecture halls in Linsley-Chittenden, W.L. Harkness, and Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Halls for porn stars to demonstrate sexual techniques or heads of pornography studios to proffer career advice. Richard Levin obviously does not understand why Sex Week at Yale is inappropriate (to say the least), any more than he understands why Yale should not be devoting 10% of its undergraduate places to foreigners, or why Yale should not be renting out its name and reputation to Third World governments.

Harden understands the problem and, though he has very recently graduated, he’d be a lot more qualified to run Yale than the current administration.

Yale… enjoys a strong tradition of educating American political leaders. Over the course of its first two hundred years, as Yale’s spiritual mission faded slowly into the background, a political purpose emerged as a new defining agenda. Serving country became a proxy for serving God. A patriotic purpose replaced a spiritual one. It was assumed for a long time that the interests of America were, by extension, Yale’s interests as well. A large percentage of Yale graduates enrolled in the military immediately following graduation. And, of course, many went on to hold high political office.

The diversity that came to Yale in the sixties was a good thing. Other changes were less positive. In the late 1960s, Yale’s patriotic ethos disintegrated in the face of pressures from the radical new left. The old-guard liberals, who had long governed the university, were replaced by a new, younger set. The old-guard liberals were in the mold of Jack Kennedy—they were New Deal liberals who were sympathetic to religion and proud of their country. They were traditionalists. The new leftists, on the other hand, wanted radical social transformation. They wanted to challenge the old moral assumptions and revolutionize the economic system. Empowered by the backlash against the Vietnam War, and a sanctimonious belief in the justness of their cause, students rose up and violently took over the agenda of the American left. … About this same time, the patriotic purpose that had defined the university for two hundred years disappeared. The faculty had voted the year before to revoke academic credit for ROTC courses. Later, Yale moved to restrict military recruiters’ access to students. With the destruction of Yale’s patriotic ethos, the last remaining sense of Yale having any higher educational purpose in service of the nation went out the door.

That isn’t to say that Yale ceased being political. But from that point onward, Yale’s political agenda was no longer tied to American interests. In fact, Yale’s political climate came to be defined more and more by anti-Americanism. Economic theories in opposition to free markets became prevalent. Identity politics and interest-group politics began to take over academic life, endangering free speech in the name of cultural sensitivity, and ushering in a new era of suffocating political correctness.

The shift happened quickly. Only a couple of decades before, during World War II, faculty sentiment had been united against America’s enemies in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Now, if the topic of international affairs happened to be raised in the faculty lounge, it had become fashionable to speak of America as the bad guy. Saying nice things about America’s enemies became a mark of intellectual sophistication—of rising above mindless nationalism-Patriotism, like religion, had become a mark of low intelligence, an anachronism. …

Yale is a place where one can find people expressing almost every imaginable viewpoint and belief system. But here is the unanswerable question: How does a secular university judge between the competing moral claims of its members when those claims breach the private sphere and enter the public realm? …

Nihilism is, ultimately, where Yale is headed. Yale was built in order to nurture ideas that would elevate the soul and advance human understanding, but it now has no governing moral principle-As a result, the knowledge generated there is divorced from any larger human purpose. Apart from a kind of vague appreciation or certain concepts like tolerance and diversity, Yale is a moral vacuum. Therefore, almost anything goes. Yale is among a dwindling number of institutions that provide a classical liberal education, focusing on the great books of the Western canon—topped off with porn in HD. As I observed, within its walls, images of women being beaten and humiliated for no other reason than the pleasure and profit of others, I became aware that I was witnessing much more than the decline of a great university. I was witnessing nothing less than a prophetic vision of America’s descent into an abyss of moral aimlessness, at the hands of those now charged with educating its future leaders.

26 Aug 2012

The Budget Dilemma

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An accountant explains.

Hat tip to Theo.

25 Aug 2012

Sleeping Beauties as Exhibition Art

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Death and Taxes
describes the latest development in exhibition art works.

Sleeping Beauties” in heavy make-up and long white nightgowns are lying on beds at National Art Museum of Ukraine, waiting to be kissed by the general public. Each girl has signed a contract with artist Taras Polataiko, promising to marry any man who can open her eyes with just a kiss.

And any unmarried male suitor over the age of 18 who comes to view the exhibit has to sign a similar contract: if the Sleeping Beauty opens her eyes during the kiss, he’ll be her husband.

While installations involving real people are always weird, this one is something special: How does one open a sleeping person’s eyes with a kiss without actually prying her eyelids open with his mouth?

One of the beauties explains: “If it’s my true love, I will feel it on an intuitive level. Secondly, if I don’t feel it, I won’t open my eyes. Anything can happen in life. And suddenly it’s fate. What if it’s the only way I’ll meet my soul mate?” Which means the kisses will be mouth-to-mouth, and she’ll be choosing a husband based entirely on his kissing skills.

25 Aug 2012

World’s Best Billboard

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Hat tip to Iowahawk (FB).

25 Aug 2012

Origin Point of Indo-European: Anatolia?

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The New York Times reports another classic example of reasoning by computer program. This time the result is support for the “peaceful agriculturalist and Anatolian” theory of the origins of Indo-European.

Biologists using tools developed for drawing evolutionary family trees say that they have solved a longstanding problem in archaeology: the origin of the Indo-European family of languages.

The family includes English and most other European languages, as well as Persian, Hindi and many others. Despite the importance of the languages, specialists have long disagreed about their origin.

Linguists believe that the first speakers of the mother tongue, known as proto-Indo-European, were chariot-driving pastoralists who burst out of their homeland on the steppes above the Black Sea about 4,000 years ago and conquered Europe and Asia. A rival theory holds that, to the contrary, the first Indo-European speakers were peaceable farmers in Anatolia, now Turkey, about 9,000 years ago, who disseminated their language by the hoe, not the sword.

The new entrant to the debate is an evolutionary biologist, Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He and colleagues have taken the existing vocabulary and geographical range of 103 Indo-European languages and computationally walked them back in time and place to their statistically most likely origin.

The result, they announced in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science, is that “we found decisive support for an Anatolian origin over a steppe origin.” Both the timing and the root of the tree of Indo-European languages “fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago,” they report.

But despite its advanced statistical methods, their study may not convince everyone.

Results of these kinds of automated analyses inevitably derive from assumptions already programmed in. I’m afraid I think it seems abundantly obvious that peoples speaking Indo-European languages, though they may engage in farming, are historically anything but peaceful. Still, all this is interesting enough to give it a look over.

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