Category Archive 'Ivy League'
02 Oct 2011

Smell Like a Preppy!

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Dressing like a Preppy has been a successful marketing approach in men’s clothing for several decades, but offering to allow you to smell like a Preppy? (Those of us who once frequented locker rooms in the Yale gymnasium are shaking our heads at this one.)

Perhaps, this company has finally figured out how to compound the ultimate scent effective in the seduction of the opposite sex: the pure, distilled essential aroma of old money.

Hat tip to Tim of Angle.

Ivy Style

19 Sep 2011

Ivy League Meritocracy and Niceness

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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.”

Hat tip to Frank A. Dobbs.

15 Nov 2010

“My Hatred for Harvard Outweighs My Apathy For Football.”

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I had a few drinks last night, so I don’t actually remember how it was that I stumbled upon this amusing 2005 article in the New Journal by Adriane Quinlan providing a tour d’horizon of the best t shirt slogan expressions of the traditional Yale-Harvard football rivalry.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s pledges sell shirts “to raise money for their pledge project—usually an improvement to the infrastructure of the house. “For example,” said Fraternity president Billy Deitch, “rebuilding the basement bar.” Two years ago the frat put out one of the most successful shirts in recent memory, the front of which argued, “You’d have to be crazy to go to Harvard…” and the back of which provided evidence: a picture of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Harvard Class of 1962. A later shirt was more minimal in design, “VE-RI-DUM,” which Branford Senior Jonathan Breit claimed as his favorite game shirt: “Everything is perfect: the number of syllables, the latin-esque ending of ‘dum,’ the fact that ‘dumb’ is misspelled. It just works.”

26 Oct 2010

“Not An Elite At All”

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Glenn Reynolds observes that the pseudo-intellectual community of fashion is not really worthy of being described as an elite.

Forget cultural insularity or smugness. The main problem with the “new elite” is that they’re not an elite at all. That is, they aren’t particularly smart, or competent. They are credentialed, but those credentials aren’t so much markers for smartness or competence, or even basic education, as they are admission tickets to the Gentry Class, based on good standardized test scores. That’s fine — ETS was berry, berry good to me — but it doesn’t have much to do with ability to succeed, or lead, in the real world. Worse yet, it seems to have fostered a sense of entitlement.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Very long-time reader and first time emailer. Just my two cents on the elitists.

    I am an elite anti-elitist Tea Partier and I made my first protest signs way back in March 2009. I’m a Yale [BA, Philosophy], Columbia [MA, International Affairs] former Wall Street trader and risk manager who is just about done getting another masters [in Library and Information Science] during a two-year “John Galt” sabbatical from work. I’ve met many, many Tea Partiers at this point and they are not anti-elitist in a general, superficial sense. Indeed, they most often admire those who have succeeded by dint of a good education or hard work or taking advantage of a bit of good luck. The subset of elitists that we are fed up with are the ones in the government, the media, and academia who think (erroneously) that they know better what we should be doing with our time every day and have the right to pick our pockets to fund it. Not only are we tired of being condescended to (and take my word for it, I could wipe the floor with most of them intellectually) but they’re obviously screwing everything up. So, to borrow Lee Harris’ word from his new book, we’re the “ornery” bastards who, from time to time, rise up to put the elite (and effete) corps of impudent snobs back in their place.

Places like Yale and Columbia (both of which I attended myself) are actually full of people with less than all that exciting SAT scores, who were really simply adequately professional performers of routine academic tasks. The lumpen Ivy League graduate tends to be sufficiently skilled in the rapid assimilation of cultural trivia and the manipulation of symbols and ideas to earn a comfortable place in the establishment community. But people of this sort are typically not genuinely intellectual, not well educated, and utterly and completely incapable of independent critical thought.

Members in good standing of the liberal community of fashion obtain all their ideas and opinions off the rack from the establishment media. They care deeply about politics because a strong commitment to fashionably leftwing politics is just like the right address, clothing, personal accessories, and automobile, a key class identifier.

Bad, stupid, and unfashionable people vote Republican, own guns, and remain committed to old-fashioned forms of conventional religion, just as Barack Obama observed aloud during the 2008 campaign. There is obviously something fundamentally defective about them. People who are chic, intelligent, and sophisticated, or at least who think they are, vote faithfully for liberal democrats and subscribe to a body of opinion simultaneously embracing Pacifism, Puritanism much modified by Epicureanism, and secularist Socialism.

The conservative critique of liberal political theory, liberal foreign policy, liberal economics, and liberal notions of environmental catastrophism is actually infinitely more substantive and serious, but conservatives are always being dismissed as stupid for failing to recognize that the smart people are the ones clever enough to identify the correct opinions and alert enough to the advantages of being aligned with the establishment.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

24 Jul 2009

Racial Indignation… or Ivy League Indignation?

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Phantom Negro in Salon sprinkles an otherwise very intelligent piece with conventional complaints about the sufferings of Ivy-League-educated African Americans dealing with racism “on a daily basis” (poor souls!), but apart from the we-have-to-keep-our-grievances-alive! bows in the direction of political correctness, I think he nails Gates dead center and from a privileged and shared perspective.

As a black Ivy Leaguer, something funny happens as you become ensconced in ivy. You’re smart enough to understand that race and racism are a reality you deal with on a daily basis, but you also know that your university ID sets you apart. Does this mean you are kept from hurtful incidents? No, but it is to say that much of the outrage felt at a racial slight is replaced by outrage at a class slight. Sure, we get pissed, knowing we’re getting hassled because we’re black, but the real indignation comes from being hassled as members of an elite group. How dare you hassle me? I go to school here. I go to work here. …

Which brings me to Skip Gates. He isn’t outraged because he feels he was the victim of racial profiling by the police (that dubious honor goes to his foolish neighbor) [in fact, the woman who called the police is not a neighbor, but works nearby]. He’s outraged because he was the victim of class profiling. He didn’t resent being identified as black; he resented being identified as that kind of black, the kind of black that can be hassled and pushed around by simpleton cops. How dare you hassle me? I’m Skip Gates: Harvard professor!

Skip has fallen victim to the Ivy League Effect. Check out his articles — you can definitely go to the Root — the Web site he is editor in chief of — if you want to see a repository for the whole masturbatory display. He all but says, “Do I look like that type of (black) person? I was wearing a blazer and a polo shirt!” Gates is Ivy League pissed with a dash of black anger. Not the other way around. …

Skip Gates thought that he’d worked hard enough, achieved enough, become Harvard enough that this sort of treatment did not apply to him. And now, rather than channel that outrage in a way that is subtle but effective, he’s very publicly suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, having “joined the ranks of the million incarcerated black men in America.” That’s laughable. He does not see those million men as kin and he doesn’t, by and large, give a damn about those guys. He’s merely annoyed that such an irritation as police misconduct found its way into his home. If he read about this story happening to a plumber in Roxbury, he’d shake his head in disappointment and then go on with his life.

So before we heed the call of racism, let’s be mindful of the tower from which that call came. This has something to do with race. But it has a lot more to do with messing with Skip Gates.

29 Nov 2008

Obama’s Valedictocracy

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Joseph Epstein has taught for too many years to believe that conspicuous success in today’s elite universities is commonly a testament to good character. Au contraire, Epstein argues: “Some of the worst people in the United States have gone to the Harvard or Yale Law Schools.”

Last week the excellent David Brooks, in one of his columns in the New York Times, exulted over the high quality of people President-elect Barack Obama was enlisting in his new cabinet and onto his staff. The chief evidence for these people being so impressive, it turns out, is they all went to what the world–“that ignorant ninny,” as Henry James called it–thinks superior schools. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, the London School of Economics; like dead flies on flypaper, the names of the schools Obama’s new appointees attended dotted Brooks’s column.

Here is the column’s first paragraph:

    Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

This administration will be, as Brooks writes, “a valedictocracy.” The assumption here is that having all these good students–many of them possibly “toll-frees,” as high-school students who get 800s on their SATs used to be known in admissions offices–running the country is obviously a pretty good thing. Brooks’s one jokey line in the column has it that “if a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.” Since my appreciation of David Brooks is considerable, and since I agree with him on so many things, why don’t I agree with him here?

The reason is that, after teaching at a university for 30 years, I have come to distrust the type I think of as “the good student.” …

Read the whole thing.

24 Jun 2008

Ivy League Education=”Really Excellent Sheep”

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William Deresiewicz, like some other people around here, spent time at Yale, and has some apt criticism of both the objectives and results of American elite education.

Even though he’s a liberal and a romantic who seems to think we need to be producing poets and revolutionaries, he is not wrong in noting that independent thought is not exactly what our most prestigious educational institutions are aiming at.

As one student responds to Deresiewicz in class: “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?”

No, he’s calling you “tools,” actually.

Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there. Long before they got to college, they turned themselves into world-class hoop-jumpers and teacher-pleasers, getting A’s in every class no matter how boring they found the teacher or how pointless the subject, racking up eight or 10 extracurricular activities no matter what else they wanted to do with their time. …

The world that produced John Kerry and George Bush is indeed giving us our next generation of leaders. The kid who’s loading up on AP courses junior year or editing three campus publications while double-majoring, the kid whom everyone wants at their college or law school but no one wants in their classroom, the kid who doesn’t have a minute to breathe, let alone think, will soon be running a corporation or an institution or a government. She will have many achievements but little experience, great success but no vision. The disadvantage of an elite education is that it’s given us the elite we have, and the elite we’re going to have.

Hat tip to Tim of Angle.

12 May 2008

Poison Ivy

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Yale’s Harkness Tower

Bert Prelutsky, at PJM, has a few choice remarks on presidential politics and the Ivies.

Ivy certainly looks nice, but you wouldn’t want to stroll through it. Here in Southern California, it’s common knowledge that most of our rodents hang out in the stuff. If bubonic plague ever breaks out in L.A., the source will be found lurking in the shrubbery.

What has me dwelling on ivy is my recent realization that much of what I don’t like about American politics — namely, American politicians — can be traced back to Ivy League schools. It can’t just be a coincidence that four or five universities keep spitting out presidential candidates and their spouses with the sort of regularity that Notre Dame used to turn out All American football players.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

10 Apr 2008

What Is the Next Important Mission for Yale?

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Why, of course! It’s creating Gender-Neutral Student Housing.

Yale Daily News:

An “ad-hoc committee” of administrators is investigating the possibility of gender-neutral housing on campus, Dean of Administrative Affairs John Meeske said this week.

The committee, which was convened late last semester around the same time the Yale College Council formed a gender-neutral housing committee of its own, will spend the 2008-’09 academic year drafting a recommendation about the housing option, committee chair Meeske said. …

Meeske said the administration began exploring the issue after attending Ivy League housing conferences over the past two years and discovering that gender-neutral housing was “an ‘in’ thing at other schools.” Still, given the distinctiveness of Yale’s residential college system, all decisions will be made with Yale specifically in mind, he said. …

LGBT Co-op student coordinator Benjamin Gonzalez ’09 said Yale’s current housing policy ignores the needs of transgender students. Gonzalez said he knows of no openly transgender students currently at Yale, which he said is the result of the University’s policies — policies that do not promote a comfortable environment for such individuals.

“Yale,” Gonzalez said, “is failing in its basic mission not to discriminate on gender identity and expression.” …

Some form of gender-neutral housing is available at more than 30 colleges and universities nationwide, according to the nonprofit Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, including the majority of the eight Ivy League universities as well as nearby schools like Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut.

When ten Congregationalist clergymen gathered at Samuel Russell’s parsonage in Branford in 1701 and contributed 40 precious folios for “the founding of a Collegiate School,” the poor misguided fools thought they were founding a school to train ministers of the gospel.

Of course, now we know that the real mission of their undertaking was avoiding discrimination on gender identity and expression and providing a comfortable environment for the transgendered.

11 Mar 2008

Conservatism Struggling to Survive at Brown

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PJM reports on the discovery of a conservative blade of grass pushing through the concrete of entrenched leftism at Brown.

(The Yale Party of Right was founded in, and has enjoyed a continuous existence since 1952, as a successor to Crotonia, and has itself given birth to two schismatic offshoots.)

Brown University Spectator

25 Oct 2007

Abolishing the Ivies

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The New York Society for Ethical Culture, as part of the New Yorker Festival, earlier this month held a somewhat tongue-in-cheek debate, moderated by Simon Schama, featuring two of the magazine’s staff writers, Malcolm Gladwell versus Adam Gopnik on the question: “Resolved: The Ivy League Should Be Abolished.”

NY Sun (10/5)

IvyGate (10/10)

Thomas Bartlett, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, describes the silliness.

It’s easy to hate the Ivy League. Also, it’s fun.

Yet rarely do hundreds of people cheer wildly as some crazy-haired guy calls for Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to be shut down. That’s right: closed entirely. Their campuses turned into luxury condos. Their students distributed evenly throughout the colleges of the Big Ten. Their endowments donated to charity, or used to purchase Canada.

But cheering is exactly what happened on a recent Saturday night during a somewhat tongue-in-cheek debate on the abolition of the Ivy League. The guy with the crazy hair was Malcolm Gladwell, author of two best-selling works of counterintuitive nonfiction, The Tipping Point and Blink. His opponent, the essayist Adam Gopnik, took the opposite view, arguing that — whatever their faults — we shouldn’t shutter those three prestigious institutions. Both men are staff writers for The New Yorker, and the event was part of the magazine’s annual literary festival.

Mr. Gladwell (University of Toronto, ’84) is a well-known Ivy hater. In a 2005 article, he argued that the admissions process for Ivy League colleges is odd, arbitrary, and more or less ridiculous. On this particular evening he pushed that view to its most extreme: that Harvard, Yale, and Princeton should be made extinct (the other five Ivies can, presumably, rest easy). The heart of his argument was that the Big Three do a lousy job of promoting social mobility. He also asserted that they have come to be valued as “consumption preferences” rather than places where people, you know, go to learn.

But more interesting than the debate itself was the audience reaction. Anti-Ivy proclamations were greeted with enthusiastic whoops. It was as if everyone had finally been given permission to voice their long-held antipathy toward the elite. It was a mob scene, or as close as you’re likely to get at a wine-and-cheese gathering on the Upper West Side.

It’s all part of a current Ivy backlash, according to Alexandra Robbins, author of The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids and Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Ms. Robbins thinks the mystique of the Ivy League is starting to wear thin — even though, as she acknowledges, it’s harder than ever to get into those colleges. “Other schools have caught up and surpassed the Ivy League,” she says.

An Ivy League degree can even be a hindrance. Ms. Robbins says she recently talked to the chief executive of a major company who has an unofficial policy against hiring Ivy grads. “There is an assumption that if you went to an Ivy League school, you have a sense of entitlement,” she says.

Ms. Robbins, a Yale graduate herself, is sometimes sheepish about her pedigree, preferring to avoid the topic.

Jim Newell knows the feeling. He writes for IvyGate, a snarky Ivy League gossip blog. Mr. Newell attended the University of Pennsylvania, “one of the lesser Ivies” (his words). His alma mater often gets confused with Penn State, and he’d rather not correct people: “God forbid I’d say, ‘That’s the one in the Ivy League.’ I’d rather run away than say that.”

He thinks a lot of the resentment toward the Ivy League is based on an outdated image. “There is some foundation for the hatred,” he says. “There are a lot of stereotypes about WASPs smoking cigars with stuffed moose heads by the fireplace.”

Of course, it also has a lot to do with admissions. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton reject a lot of applicants, and that can create some hard feelings.

It’s Michele Hernandez’s job to get kids into Ivy League colleges. Ms. Hernandez is one of the most prominent college consultants around. Plenty of people are willing to pay a gulp-inducing $40,000 for her five-year package, which begins in the eighth grade. Ms. Hernandez made about a million dollars last year helping to craft applications.

Still, she tries to dissuade clients — frequently without success — from the idea that it’s Ivy or nothing. “I don’t find anything special about Harvard, Yale, or Princeton,” she says.

But she would hardly celebrate their demise. “Other elite schools would spring up in their place, like a Hydra,” she says, demonstrating a knack for entrance-essay allusions.

There is a “perception issue” when it comes to Ivy League colleges, says Robert Franek, author of The Best 366 Colleges, published by Princeton Review. “I think students and parents may be fed up with the hierarchy,” he says. “They’re starting to take a harder look at other colleges, even if they might be in a position to go to an Ivy.”

But that doesn’t explain where the hate comes from. James Twitchell, a professor of English and advertising at the University of Florida, who writes about branding and popular culture, says it’s simple: “Because so much of what most of us have at the mass-supplier level is interchangeable, we resent those who have something more or better or different.”

Another word for that is envy. Sarah E. Hill, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University at Fullerton, who studies envy, says The New Yorker debate was an opportunity to revel in that feeling. “The audience obviously perceives that these people in the Ivy League receive some kind of unfair advantage,” she says. “The idea of removing them is exciting. It’s like, ‘Ha, ha, ha,’ we took away your label!'”

Representatives of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton would not comment for this article. But, really, what did you expect?


If you don’t happen to be part of the pitchfork-waving mob of anti-elitists and actually attended one of the Ivies, be informed that GoCrossCampus is conducting an Ivy League Championship Risk Tournament, which will be starting its very first combats today. Yale has a bit of an advantage right now, which is only right.


Hat tips to David Nix and AJ.

10 Oct 2006

Aleksey Vayner’s 15 Minutes of Fame

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Ballroom dancing

Four days ago, IvyGate (an Ivy League miscellaneous news and humor blog) linked a 6:46 minute YouTube video produced by Yale senior Aleksey Vayner to accompany the cover letter, resume, and research paper he was using to apply for investment banking jobs.

Mr. Vayner’s video (which showed the youthful job applicant lifting astoundingly large weights, skiing, playing tennis, ballroom dancing, and karate-chopping a tall stack of bricks) produced very much the opposite of what he had intended. No one called him for an interview, but amused NY bankers quickly began sharing his credentializing video’s link by email as the humor item of the week. That video soon went viral. Aleksey did not become any company’s newest AVP, but he did become the next Star Wars kid.

Dow Jones/AP:

Vayner, a self-described “CEO and professional athlete,” submitted a cover letter and resume to UBS AG, describing his “insatiable appetite for peak performance.” By Friday afternoon, both the cover letter and resume — which includes a link to the video, titled “Impossible is Nothing” — had circulated among employees at Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group and Wachovia Corp., to name a few.

UBS spokesman Kris Kagel said the firm is looking into the forwarding of the e-mail. “We’re looking at whether it did come from UBS and if so, we’ll take action,” he said. “As a firm we obviously don’t circulate (job applications) to the public.”

And it gets worse and worse.

One thing led to another. Curious viewers looked closely at Aleksey’s investment firm, charity, and book listed on his resume, finding major problems (like non-existence, misrepresentation, and plagiarism) with each.

The Yale Daily News joined the pack now barking at Aleksey’s heels, with other students supplying more stories.

Daniella Berman ’07, who knows Vayner through the Yale Ballroom Dance Team, said she has heard “outlandish” stories about Vayner both from him and from other students. Among the claims she said she has heard is one that Vayner is one of four people in the state of Connecticut qualified to handle nuclear waste.

Berman said that while she thinks that kind of claim is fairly harmless, she thinks Vayner crossed a line by misrepresenting himself to a potential employer…

Vayner was profiled (as Aleksey Garber) in the Yale Rumpus in May of 2002 after visiting Yale as a prefrosh. The profile outlined Vayner’s many fabrications, including his claims that he was employed by both the Mafia and the CIA during his childhood and that he gave tennis lessons to Harrison Ford and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Today, IvyGate returned for a final coup de grace.

A member of the Yale tennis team wrote in to dispute Aleksey’s claim that he competed on the Satellite tour: “I played for Yale tennis, and he tried to walk on the team. He got cut the second day. I had one conversation with him, and he claimed to have KILLED 24 people in the caves of Tibet.”

(Other great comments: “I too played for Yale tennis, and Vayner/Garber claimed that he has trouble flying on planes because he has to register his hands as lethal weapons each time he goes to an airport.” And: “The giveaway on the investment firm was that he said his firm specialized in “risk-aDverse” strategies. The other giveaway was that he’s fucking crazy.”)

We decided to not be too scared of the cease and desist letter Aleksey emailed us, given that he copied and pasted it from the first Google hit for “cease and desist letter,” right down to the “very truly yours” signoff. Attorney, Esq., really earned his fee there.

At Yale, Aleksey has offered to treat sports injuries using various “Eastern” therapy methods, including massage and acupuncture. Before “treating” a “patient,” he sent them this letter. You simply have to read it in full. Somewhere in there he claims that his brother is “head of pediatrics at Columbian Presbyterian hospital in NYC.” A search on the Columbia Presbyterian Physician Network turns up no one with the last name “Garber” or “Vayner.” But our favorite part is this line: “I am not certified in any Western sense of the word, neither in Chinese medicine, Tui-Na, Shaolin trauma medicine, nor in acupuncture, all of which I practice extensively never-the-less.”

And, um, not quite so humorously, the SEC and dean of Yale College have been notified of Aleksey’s transgressions.

God, what theater. You cannot make this shit up. Unless, y’know, you’re Aleksey.

You can bet that Yale will now review this lad’s admission application materials, looking for discrepancies. Ouch!

Hat tip to Andrew Olson.


Mr. Vayner has (not unwisely) gotten YouTube to pull the video, by claiming copyright infringement.

The vindictive IvyGate is defying him, and has placed the video in a new posting.

UPDATE 10/16

He now has a Wikipedia entry.

Aleksey is being ridiculed by Gawker.

And poor Aleksey’s story, and some comments on this posting by classmates on my Yale College Class email list made the New Yorker.
UPDATE 10/18

There is now an Aleksey Vayner Repository web-site, where readers post suggested new claims and accomplishments for Aleksey. The order of precedence of new alleged Aleksey accomplishments is determined by reader votes.

And, we missed this earlier posting in which Bess Levin communes with Aleksey’s brain.

23 May 2006

The Curious Thing About Harvard


Harvard Economics professor Greg Mankiw reports that, at a recent faculty meeting, President Larry Summers confessed:

I have been troubled, and I believe you should be troubled, by survey data suggesting that student satisfaction at Harvard is much closer to the bottom than to the top of any list of leading American colleges, and that the relative satisfaction of our students declines with each year that they are here.

Noting that the Harvard Crimson had reported only days earlier Harvard’s unequalled admissions yield percentage, Mankiw reflects:

It is an odd business that has customers who are simultaneously unhappy about the product and eager to buy it.

Hat tip to PJM.

22 Nov 2005

O Tempora, O Mores

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The New York Sun has discovered a recent undergraduate fad spreading from Yale (& Brown?) to Columbia: Naked Parties.

Columbia undergraduates are staging parties with one basic ground rule – all guests must part with their clothes upon arrival. The invitation circulating around Morningside Heights bans three additional items: cameras, masks, and “spikey things.”.. A student who attended the party in the spring, Richard Lipkin, said about 80 to 100 naked people – including a fair number of law and business school students – were concentrated in one apartment. Clothes were dumped near the entrance. Women slightly outnumbered men, and people were generally – if not exclusively – good looking, the type who are often more willing to flout culture’s restrictions on nudity.

Mr. Lipkin said he had no recollection of the music that was played.

“It was surprisingly comfortable,” he said. “Most of the people were quite comfortable. Everyone was pretty mature about it. I don’t think anything inappropriate went on. … People were definitely networking, but there wasn’t anything bad going on.”

A novel published last March by recent Yale graduate Natalie Krinsky (Timothy Dwight, 2004) features an account of her fictionalized heroine attending one.

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