Ted Cruz got himself described as “the new McCarthy” by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker for asking Chuck Hagel about accepting speaker fees from North Korea. Mayer then dug deeper, and disclosed that, two and half years ago at a 4th of July speech, Cruz reminisced about his days at Harvard Law School (1992-1995), observing that Barack Obama would make a perfect president of Harvard’s Law School, which in Cruz’s time had “fewer Republicans than communists.”
Bill O’Reilly and Mitt Romney both also spent time at the little institution on the Charles, and both of them have also recently had critical things to say about Harvard’s characteristic politics and influence.
Well, you can only take so much, and the editors of the Harvard Crimson struck back this week, openly urging conservatives dissenters not even to apply for admission.
If you think Harvard is a revolutionary communist hotbed, don’t apply. If you think Harvard is full of “pinheaded” professors, don’t enroll. And if you think Harvard pollutes the minds of its students, don’t walk out of here with a degree—and certainly don’t get two.
As Daniel Webster might have said: “It’s a bright-red, anti-American school, stuffed to the rafters with bolshies peddling pin-headed, crack-brained ideas, but some love it.”
Elizabeth Wurtzel grew up in the New York projects, but got herself a scholarship to private school and went on to graduate from Harvard. She later attended Yale Law School, graduating at age 40, apparently having been admitted on the basis of her writing career, despite atrocious Law Board scores.
Wurtzel had earlier “made a career of her emotions” quite successfully, writing Rock criticism and publishing an autobiographical novel of addiction that became a bestseller and was made into a movie starring Christina Ricci. All that ought to get anybody into Yale Law.
2012 apparently did not go so well for the poor girl, and that bad year prompted her to pen this highly amusing rant about her own “one night stand of life.”
I had found myself vulnerable to the worst of New York City, because at 44 my life was not so different from the way it was at 24. Stubbornly and proudly, emphatically and pathetically, I had refused to grow up, and so I was becoming one of those people who refuses to grow up—one of the city’s Lost Boys. I was still subletting in Greenwich Village, instead of owning in Brooklyn Heights. I had loved everything about Yale Law School—especially the part where I graduated at 40—but I spent my life savings on an abiding interest, which is a lot to invest in curiosity. By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.
I was amazed to discover that, according to The Atlantic, women still can’t have it all. Bah! Humbug! Women who have it all should try having nothing: I have no husband, no children, no real estate, no stocks, no bonds, no investments, no 401(k), no CDs, no IRAs, no emergency fund—I don’t even have a savings account. It’s not that I have not planned for the future; I have not planned for the present. I do have a royalty account, some decent skills, and, apparently, a lot of human capital. But because of choices I have made, wisely and idiotically, because I had principles or because I was crazy, I have no assets and no family. I have had the same friends since college, although as time has gone on, the daily nature of those relationships has changed, such that it is not daily at all. But then how many lost connections make up a life? There is my best friend from law school, too busy with her toddler; the people with whom I spent New Year’s in a Negril bungalow not so long ago, all lost to me now; every man who was the love of my life, just for today; roommates, officemates, classmates: For everyone who is near, there are others who are far gone.
Please understand: I live specifically, with intent. The intent is, I know now, not at all specific, except that I have no ability to compromise. Most people say that as a statement of principle, but in my case, it is about feeling trapped when I am doing something I don’t like, and it is probably more childish than anything else. I likely do the right things for the wrong reasons. But it has also meant that I have not disciplined myself into the kinds of commitments that make life beyond the wild of youth into a haven of calm. I am proud that I have never so much as kissed a man for any reason besides absolute desire, and I am more pleased that I only write what I feel like and it has been lucrative since I got out of college in 1989. I had the great and unexpected success of Prozac Nation in 1994, and that bought me freedom. And I have spent that freedom carelessly, and with great gratitude. Why would I do anything else? I did not expect, not ever, to be scared to death.
I was born with a mind that is compromised by preternatural unhappiness, and I might have died very young or done very little. Instead, I made a career out of my emotions. And now I am just quarreling with normal. I believe in true love and artistic integrity—the kinds of things that should be mentioned between quotation marks—as absolutely now as I did in ninth grade. But even I know that functional love includes a fair amount of falsity, or no one would get through morning coffee, and integrity is mostly a heroic excuse to avoid the negotiating table. But I can’t let go. I live in the chaos of adolescence, even wearing the same pair of 501s. As time goes by.
It is a common form of modesty on the part of students and alumni of certain Ivy League universities, to intentionally try to avoid the inevitable reaction to dropping a big name in response to the question, “Where did (do) you go to school?” and to reply, slightly evasively, New Haven (or Boston). Sophisticated interlocutors recognize the response at once, and everybody else is really better off not knowing.
But the burden of grandeur apparently weighs heavily on the narrow shoulders of some attendees of a certain school in Cambridge.
Harvard is consequently offering today counseling on how to cope with being so special.
Home from Harvard for the Holidays: Revisiting Relationships with Family and Friends
Wednesday, December 5, 1:00-2:30pm
5 Linden Street
How do I talk about Harvard at home? Will my friends and family think I’ve changed? Will I still fit in? This workshop provides an opportunity to describe and explore your experiences and questions as you anticipate going home. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
———————————— Acculturated found the therapeutic approach to the Harvard identity pretty funny.
Is Harvard acknowledging that its students, upon being admitted into the hallowed crimson kingdom, become so socially inept that they require workshop assistance to socialize with their non-Harvard friends and family? Or is this event a tacit endorsement of the assumption, which embarrasses Harvard students and alumni so, that they really are better than and different from the rest of us? Either way, the elitism that underlies this event is just hilarious, given its stilted effort to be empathic to what the University probably considers the unanointed hoi polloi.
Try getting university recognition, support, and the use of university facilities for your newly founded alternative conservative newspaper, a film society, or a polo team, and see how far you get. But ask Harvard to recognize a BDSM & kinky sex club, and Harvard’s Committee on Student Life is on board, Man.
As the Crimson reports, things will be better for those a little bit different at Harvard now.
“If you come to campus and you have the sexual interests we represent, you may not even suspect that such a group exists,” Michael said.
Munch is also now allowed to apply for DAPA food grants, making it easier to find a convenient time and location to meet, instead of gathering in small dining halls.
But for Michael, the biggest advantage to being recognized comes with “the fact of legitimacy,” he said. “[Our recognition] shows we are being taken seriously.”
Britain’s Daily Mail described the club’s founding and membership.
The group, which goes by ‘Harvard College Munch,’ first began its meetings in one of the university’s dining halls to discuss personal stories and broader issues related to BDSM and other forms of ‘kinky sex’. ...
Munch’s membership has grown to about 30 members from seven when it began more than a year ago and is one of 15 student organization that will be approved by Harvard’s Committee on Student Life this Friday.
None of the group’s members quoted by the media have been willing to give their full names.
One group member, who goes by ‘Marie,’ told the New York Observer that she enjoys ‘Bondage, handcuffs and ice play.”
‘I’ve been hit with a riding crop, a belt, a paddle, canes, a flogger,’ she said, ‘Floggers are my favorite.’
Walter Russell Mead, in a typically witty and insightful essay, compares and contrasts the legacy of Massachusetts Bay and Harvard on this year’s two candidates.
When Wilsonians turn their gaze toward the United States, they become what I think of as the Bostonian school in domestic politics. Like the New England Puritans to whom they owe so much, today’s Bostonians believe that a strong state led by the righteous should use its power to make America a more moral and ethical country. This, I believe, is the tradition in American domestic politics that most profoundly shapes President Obama’s worldview; it inspired many of the abolitionists and prohibitionists who played such large roles in 19th century reform politics, and it continues to influence the country wherever the spirit of Old New England survives. (Not all domestic Bostonians are international Wilsonians, by the way; some believe that America should lead by example rather than by imposing its views on others.)
Bostonians over the years have changed their ideas about morality; few today would agree with Increase Mather and John Winthrop that the state should punish any deviation from Biblical morality as understood by 17th century puritan divines. But when it comes to punishing offenses against righteousness as defined by a congress of humanities professors, multiculturalist activists and foundation grants officers, the liberal morality police are ready to march — and to smite. Today’s neo-puritans would certainly agree that once morality has been re-defined in a suitably feminist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-tobacco and anti-obesity way, it is the clear duty of the Civil Magistrate to enforce the moral law—and that our governing constitutions and laws must be interpreted—by the godly who alone ought to be seated on the judicial tribunals—to give said magistrates all the power they require for their immense and unending task of moral regulation and uplift.
Daniel E. Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
It was not for nothing that the late William F. Buckley, Jr. declared: “I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University.”
Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard-educated Anthropologist who has managed to segue smoothly from his native social science to teaching Evolutionary Biology, won recent top marks in Scientism, the inappropriate and hubristic application of scientific theories to political and moral issues, when in a New York Time’s editorial last week, he informed readers that Evolution was voting in favor of Mayor Bloomberg’s soft drink ban specifically and government coercion in general.
Lessons from evolutionary biology support the mayor’s plan: when it comes to limiting sugar in our food, some kinds of coercive action are not only necessary but also consistent with how we used to live. ...
Since sugar is a basic form of energy in food, a sweet tooth was adaptive in ancient times, when food was limited. However, excessive sugar in the bloodstream is toxic, so our bodies also evolved to rapidly convert digested sugar in the bloodstream into fat. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors needed plenty of fat — more than other primates — to be active during periods of food scarcity and still pay for large, expensive brains and costly reproductive strategies (hunter-gatherer mothers could pump out babies twice as fast as their chimpanzee cousins).
Simply put, humans evolved to crave sugar, store it and then use it. For millions of years, our cravings and digestive systems were exquisitely balanced because sugar was rare. Apart from honey, most of the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate were no sweeter than a carrot. The invention of farming made starchy foods more abundant, but it wasn’t until very recently that technology made pure sugar bountiful.
The food industry has made a fortune because we retain Stone Age bodies that crave sugar but live in a Space Age world in which sugar is cheap and plentiful. ...
We humans did not evolve to eat healthily and go to the gym; until recently, we didn’t have to make such choices. But we did evolve to cooperate to help one another survive and thrive. Circumstances have changed, but we still need one another’s help as much as we ever did. For this reason, we need government on our side, not on the side of those who wish to make money by stoking our cravings and profiting from them. [Emphasis added] We have evolved to need coercion.
Professor Lieberman neglects to explain how Evolution effectively draws the line between acceptable, desirable, and morally justifiable forms of state coercion, including taxes, regulations, and special paternalistic supervision of children, and even more effective and draconian measures, for instance, the Khmer Rouge marching the overweight urban inhabitants of Cambodia back into the country at machine gun point, aimed at “restoring a natural part of our environment. ”
He doesn’t offer any general principled account of why Evolution supports this and doesn’t support that precisely because he hasn’t got one. Professor Lieberman simply assumes that Evolution and Science (and Progress and the God of History) is embodied in the world by the consensus of people like himself, by the current opinions of the educated elite community of fashion.
One can find the scientific way of deciding things simply by reading the editorial pages of the Times.
All this, of course, is rubbish. The opinions and theories of Evolutionary Biology (let alone Anthropology) are anything but set in stone. Someone may discover next week the intense Neolithic cultivation of sugar beets in the Fertile Crescent. Medicine may decide that obesity is really caused by a particular gene, and that the specifics of diet play only a small role.
In the 1950s, Evolution would have decreed that you must drink milk to cure ulcers produced by the unnatural stress of modern capitalist life. Our latest information contends that bacteria are to blame and milk-drinking doesn’t do a thing.
More importantly, though, mere scientific facts are incapable of addressing philosophical questions of individual rights and the proper role and limits of the powers of government. Those issues have nothing to do with imaginary dietary teleologies and have to be debated on an entirely different level.
Scientism, the presumptuous attempt to misapply scientific theories or data in contexts in which they cannot possibly be determinative, is actually, I would argue, decisive evidence of bad education and intellectual incompetence.
It has been recognized for many decades now, certainly back to the 1960s or 1970s when Bill Buckley offered his famous apothegm concerning the faculty of Harvard, that there exists a tremendous and thoroughly alarming disconnect between our establishment intelligentsia and wisdom and common sense. Professor Lieberman is simply the most recent in a long series of wise fools.
The New York Daily News has the story of a young girl, abandoned by her parents, indigent, who slept on friends’ couches and worked part-time jobs to survive.
She was never trained in personal hygiene or social conventions by anyone, wore the same dress for months at a time, and was forced to transfer to six different schools. She worked a job as a janitor in her high school but nonetheless got straight A’s.
“There are no excuses,” she told the interviewer from a local radio station. “It all depends on you, and no one else.”
It doesn’t take a village. It takes personal determination and drive.
[Kaczynski] lists his occupation as “prisoner” and says his awards are “Eight life sentences, issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, 1998.”
It’s an update the alumni association now regrets.
“While all members of the class who submit entries are included, we regret publishing Kaczynski’s references to his convictions and apologize for any distress that it may have caused others,” the Harvard Alumni Association said in a statement Wednesday evening.
The alumni association said all class members, including Kaczynski, were invited to submit entries for the class report, distributed for reunion activities during commencement week.
We’ve recently learned that it isn’t only Harvard which has acquired a NSFW site where students (and/or alumni) post naked pictures.
Unlike Harvard’s gay-interest-only site, the Brown site is coed and publishes student-written porn.
There wasn’t any Internet back during the consulate of Plancus, but I expect we also had an adequate quantity of horny exhibitionists willing to post personal pictures on these kinds of sites back then, too.
Yale’s Kroon Hall, a recently built, fantabulously expensive ecological Taj Mahal proves that Harvard is not unique. In that building in order to reduce tapwater usage, “Stormwater is collected from the roof and grounds and filtered through native aquatic plants. Wastewater collected from sinks and showers is added to the stormwater and used for all non-potable needs such as toilets and irrigation. Water demand is further reduced by the installation of low-flow plumbing and irrigation fixtures.”
James Delingpole referred recently to the immense difficulty sane people face in trying to resist an unstoppable bandwagon of do-gooders and reformers, brainwashed kids, powerful NGOs, sanctimonious corporations, and politicians all pushing the party-line of Enviromentalist stupidity. At American Thinker, Peter Wilson admires the colossal scale of resources the other side has at its disposal, and notes just how deeply entrenched the green priesthood is at one of our most prestigious universities.
Australian science writer Jo Nova estimates that since 1989 the U.S. government has spent $79 billion on global warming-friendly climate research. Nova notes that the “figure does not include money from other western governments, private industry, [or universities] and is not adjusted for inflation,” and yet even this partial sum is 3,500 times the $23 million spent by Exxon in the same period. Global warming alarmists however continue to accuse skeptics of being duped by disinformation from well-funded carbon polluters, while they seem incapable of recognizing the far greater funding that supports their own efforts.
Case in point: I attended a “Harvard Thinks Green” program last week, which promised “6 all-star environmental faculty, 6 big green ideas.” (According to the flyer, “Green is the new crimson.”) The most polemical of the six speakers was medical doctor Eric Chivian, a founder of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the nuclear freeze group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. One of Chivian’s big green ideas: “legal restrictions on oil consumption.” Dr. Chivian lashed out at the evil Koch brothers, enunciating their middle initials as further evidence of their perfidy: “Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch,” who together with “vested interests” like Exxon-Mobil, have spent “tens of millions of dollars” on a “disinformation campaign,” aided by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
Vested interests? Take a look in the mirror, Dr. Chivian. His speech came from the podium in Saunders Theatre, a sumptuous wood-paneled auditorium in H.H. Richardson’s Memorial Hall, a clubhouse for the 1% at Harvard University. Dr. Chivian earns his generous salary as Founder/Director of the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, which is “designated an official ‘Collaborating Center’ of the United Nations Environment Programme.” The Center’s Corporate Council includes 3M, Baxter (pharmaceuticals & medical devices), Johnson & Johnson, and Siemens. These are some deep pockets and vested interests.
Looking further: The sponsor of the evening was the Harvard Office for Sustainability, which is staffed by fifteen full-time employees, holding graduate degrees in things like Public Administration and the Sociology of Religion/Gender Studies. They hold titles like: Manager, Sustainability Communications; Manager, Sustainability Engagement; Coordinator, Business and Finance Sustainability Engagement Program; or Coordinator, FAS Green Resource Efficiency Program.
A separate department called Green Building Services employs seven full-time employees and manages student volunteer teams at Harvard College, the Business School and the Law School.
Harvard students can apply for the following 10-hour-a-week internships: Sustainability Innovation Challenge Engagement Assistant, OFS Events and Sustainability Engagement Intern, Housing and Real Estate Design Internship, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program Research Assistant, Green Skillet Team Leader, Green Skillet Assessor, Green Office Liaison and the Green Ribbon Commission Internship.
Over at the Graduate School of Design there’s the Sustainable Design program G(SD)2. And Harvard Business School has a Green Living Program, “a peer-to-peer education program” that…well, you get the idea.
These various activities are supported by the Harvard University Task Force on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions, commissioned by President Drew Faust, which is committed to reduce the University’s GHGs through 2016. In other words, these people will not be losing their jobs any time soon, no matter what happens at COP-18.
Reading this, I was reflecting that, if Jonathan Edwards and the other “New Light” enthusiasts of the mid-18th century Great Awakening had only taken care to arrange for the construction of exceptionally architecturally distinguished buildings to serve as centers for the study the personal experience of religious revelation and the penning of passionate sermons, and taken care to establish well-paid corps of special managers, communicators, coordinators, deans and interns, all devoted to intensifying man’s consciousness of his sinfulness, unworthiness, and dependence of Divine restraint, why, the emotionalist version of Congregationalism and Sunday hell-fire sermons about sinners in the hands of an angry God might never have gone out of fashion at Harvard and Yale at all.
There has been a fair amount of comment in certain alumni circles about the latest Ivy League kerfuffle: Harvard University’s effort, at the beginning of this year’s Fall Term, to “encourage” freshmen to sign a kindness pledge.
Harvard’s new initiative provoked some serious criticism noting that students were likely to feel pressured to sign (as a copy of the pledge with each student’s name and a space for a signature was placed hanging in each entryway), but Harvard then apologized and retreated (being so nice, after all).
Not surprisingly, the incident produced a good deal of coverage, and some mockery.
Ross Douthat (who attended the little school in Cambridge) responded to Virginia Postrel’s reaction in Bloomberg by explaining that there is a bit more to elite Ivy League nicey-goodiness than may be recognized by outsiders not fully acquainted with the culture and patterns of expression of this particular tribe.
[There is an] element of ruthlessness that runs through the culture of elite colleges, and… the prevailing spirit of deference and niceness is a defense mechanism and a facade — a kind of ritualized politesse, like the elaborate bowing and flowery compliments of a 17th century European court, that conceals the vaulting ambitions and furious rivalries that actually predominate on campus. (The essential ruthlessness of the meritocracy was one of the themes of my own subsequent attempt to distill the culture of elite education.) Which is why I appreciated how Postrel’s column finishes up.
Harvard is the strongest brand in American higher education, and its identity is clear. As its students recognize, Harvard represents success. But, it seems, Harvard feels guilty about that identity and wishes it could instead (or also) represent “compassion.” These two qualities have a lot in common. They both depend on other people, either to validate success or serve as objects of compassion. And neither is intellectual.
Rochefoucauld observed that hypocrisy was the tribute that vice pays to virtue.
I suppose it would be fair to say that constant poses of kindness and compassion are the tribute, these days, that the excessively ambitious and success-obsessed pay to failure.
“My board scores and grades were infinitely better than yours. I’m going to Harvard and on to a prominent bank or law firm and seven figures annually. But I will support plenty of welfare entitlement programs for you losers down in the bad neighborhood.”
Out-of-date “Heather Has Two Mommies” controversy to be superseded by the hip new “Kate Has Three Mommies” model?
On a leafy drive in west Los Angeles, at a newly renovated home with cathedral ceilings and a backyard pool, 4-year-old Kate Eisenpresser-Davis’ friends have been known to pose an intriguing question: “Why does Kate have three mommies?”
Lisa Eisenpresser, 44, and her partner, Angela Courtin, 38, share custody of Kate with Eisenpresser’s ex-partner.
When asked to describe their life, Eisenpresser and Courtin respond with the same word: “Normal.” Days are spent searching for the right balance between work and home, and zigzagging through Mar Vista to meetings, school and gymnastics.
Courtin is pregnant. Kate will soon have a sister, Phoebe, conceived from Eisenpresser’s egg and sperm from a donor — the same 6-foot-1 Harvard grad, who scored a 1580 on the SAT, who served as Kate’s donor.
“It’s almost like I’m too busy to be thinking too deeply about being gay and different,” Eisenpresser said.
Maybe she shouldn’t bother. According to a Times analysis of new U.S. Census figures, the Eisenpresser-Courtin-Davises are on the leading edge of change — of a steady evolution in the meaning of “family” and “home” in California.
But what the heck kind of woman not only tells the media that the sperm donor that facilitated her childbearing is a Harvard grad but tells the media his frickin’ SAT scores? (Unfortunately, I can’t evaluate how awestruck I ought to be without more information on whether the reported score was generated before or after the various dumbing-down “renormings” of the scoring system.)
Presumably the singing groups will soon need to update their repertoires to include “Your Daddy Was a Yale Sperm….”*.
A reference to the old-time Yale a capella singing group song “Your Daddy is a Yale Man,” which not every reader may be familiar with, so here are the 2009 Whiffenpoofs performing same:
Who would have imagined that Knife Collecting guru Bernard Levine is a Harvard ‘69 dropout, who became an expert on knives as a way of surviving in the city on the Bay back in the era of the Summer of Love?
In February 1969, Levine headed west, looking to connect with a love interest in San Francisco—who promptly returned east to enroll in college. He knocked about the city for a couple of years, working as a stevedore and in construction. His first job, hanging sheetrock, had five other Harvard students on the site. “I realized that I wasn’t strong enough to do this kind of work,” he says, “and that it wasn’t getting me far enough away from Harvard!”
He tried a small business gathering wild yarrow stalks in the hills near San Francisco, which natural food stores sold in bundles of 50 because dividing piles of yarrow is a classical method of consulting the I Ching. “Then they found a lower-priced source,” Levine says. “That was my first lesson in business.”
In September 1971, a couple at the house Levine lived in invited him to come to a flea market; they were moving and had some items to sell. He went to a Goodwill store to find something he might sell at the flea market, and purchased a box of old knives for $3.00—30 knives, as it turned out, at a dime each. “I knew less than nothing about knives,” he says. “The little I knew was wrong. But I spread my knives out on a cloth and was overwhelmed by people.”
Levine learned that there were knife collectors, and the brand names that were collectible. “It was a revelation,” he admits. He continued selling knives at flea markets on weekends. “It turned out to be much longer hours than any job,” he says. “I’d spend all week scrounging up knives and on Friday bring them to a cutlery shop in North Beach where they’d restore them for me. The grandfather there—born in Romania in 1885—taught me a lot about the European cutlery business in the early twentieth century.
“My great love in school had been history,” he says. “Old knives are a good window into history, and a window that looks out in every direction.” From the very first day, Levine recorded every knife he sold, including brand markings and a description, eventually logging 13,000 entries.
Harvard’s 1899 football team passed that kind of exam.
Eve Binder, Managing Editor at Ivygate and Yale ‘11, reports on earlier admissions examinations at Harvard and Columbia with altogether excessive frivolity and dismisses the Classics with proud Philistinism. (Reverend Davenport would not be pleased.)
The New York Times recently unearthed a Harvard entrance exam from 1899, and man, is it ugly. The text spans three major disciplines–classical languages, history and math–and requires its victims to jump through flaming hoops in topics like Greek Composition, Random-Ass Geography, and Hard Numbers. Take, for instance:
[in Logarithms and Trigonometry] 9. Find by logarithms, using arithmetical complements, the value of the following:
[(0.02183)2 x (7)2/5]/[√(0.0046) x 23.309]
Remember, folks, there were no calculators in 1899. Nor, apparently, was there mercy.
[In History and Geography] VI. Leonidas, Pausanias, Lysander.
Evidently this is a question, not just a list of people you’ve never heard of. Oh, wait, we’ve heard of Leonidas–but that’s only because we’ve seen 300, which someone living in the 1800s would most likely not have seen. Wonder if you’d get partial credit for identifying Lysander as “that dude in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.“
[In Greek Composition] [Insert ancient cryptic mumbo-jumbo here]
Hey, it’s all ελληνικά to us. Can you imagine if this were on the SAT?
Speaking of the SAT, it’s hard to tell whether the replacement of questions like “bound the basin of the Po” with ones like “find the noun in this sentence” has been a good or bad thing. A good thing for us, certainly, because if we’d been forced to draw the route of the Ten Thousand on a map in order to get into college, we’d have been working at the 1899 equivalent of a Chick-Fil-A faster than you can say “Gay Nineties.” But perhaps not such a good thing for the overall intelligence quotient of our nation’s youth, which would unquestionably have been strengthened by the knowledge of “Pharsalia, Philippi and Actium.” All of which, by the way, sound like sleep medications.
In an interesting final coup, Columbia Spectrum columnist Thomas Rhiel has noted that the 1899 Harvard entrance exam pales in comparison to that of Columbia, which apparently required knowledge of French, German, and the following works:
Milton’s Paradise Lost, Books I and II; Pope’s Iliad, Books I and XXII; the Sir Roger de Coverley Papers in The Spectator; Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield, Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, Southey’s Life of Nelson, Carlyle’s Essay on Burns, Lowell’s Vision of Sir Launfal, Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, [...] Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Burke’s Speech on Conciliation with America, De Quincey’s The Flight of a Tartar Tribe, [and] Tennyson’s The Princess.
Times sure have changed, haven’t they? Back then you actually had to read all these books in order to get anywhere in life. Now all you have to do is Google the ending and lie. Yeah, sorry we’re not sorry.
It’s understandable that the educated classes, force-fed for generations on the Classics, finally rebelled against the older system in favor of the more utilitarian, more flexible, and more modern. But the older I get, the more strongly I tend to believe that higher education made a gravely wrong turn when it made the decision to discard Classics as its foundation.
Serious and extended study of Latin and Greek reliably conferred a sort of grace and skill in written expression which has largely vanished from more contemporary prose. I routinely find the memoirs of colonial administrators and retired colonels produced before WWI far better written than the essays of the most admired current writers in today’s Spectator and New York Review of Books.
Reading the ancient authors also characteristically broadened the perspective of members of the educated elite of that earlier time. Rivalries between great powers, the outrages and brutalities performed by barbarian tribes, the forms of perfidy committed by foreign adversaries were all far more familiar and comprehensible to minds steeped in Xenophon and Thucydides.
Ivy League education today more commonly narrows the outlook of members of the contemporary elite, turning them into provincial conformists and uncritical followers of the fashionable consensus, lacking in sympathy for, or identification with, not our civilization’s past, but any past. Today’s commentariat is characteristically unable to consult the examples set by nations and leaders in conducting war during WWII when discussing current military operations, let alone reflect on what Alcibiades or Caesar might have done.