Category Archive 'O tempora o mores!'
18 Apr 2017

The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio, August 23, 1922

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26 Mar 2017

Time Worries Out Loud

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09 Mar 2017

This Morning’s News From Yale

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Founders Hall, 135 Prospect Street

The OCD reports important news:

The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resources will relocate from Swing Space to the ground floor of Founders Hall in August, according to an email Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews sent to students Wednesday morning.

The office, which was founded in 2009 and has operated out of Swing Space since 2013, provides programming, education and outreach to the University community on topics concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. The move to Founders Hall, located at 135 Prospect St., will situate the office in a 2,200-square-foot space with a lounge, full kitchen, all-gender restrooms and a multipurpose room for events. The office will also have shared access to 1,400 square feet of meeting space and two exterior courtyards. Students and faculty interviewed said the office’s new home will provide a more accessible meeting space for Yale’s LGBTQ community and enable its growth.

“The relocation and expansion of the office is terrific materially and symbolically,” said Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies professor Joseph Fischel. “I have been on campus for a relatively short period of time — four academic years — but it strikes me that the Yale community is by and large celebratory of gender and sexual diversity. So it is wonderful to see this appreciation institutionalized.”

Maria Trumpler, the director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources and a WGSS professor, said the size and amenities of the new location — which was designed by architecture firm Moser Pilon Nelson Architects and housed the School of Management until early 2014— will allow the office to expand programming and host more events. She added that the new space will ideally look and feel more like a cultural center, with drop-in space and a house staff like that of the four cultural centers. The office will be open daily until 10 p.m., and student staff will be available for conversations and programming, Trumpler said. …

In fall 2016, the Yale College Council LGBT Resources Task Force released a report calling for the relocation and expansion of the LGBTQ Resource Office, based on student feedback that the physical space was too small.

I find all this particularly interesting since I am otherwise aware that undergraduate fraternal, political, debating, a capella singing groups, and Political Union parties, these days, are not allowed to use Common Rooms and Residential College meeting spaces. Alumni of these student organizations have to raise thousands of dollars per annum through individual alumni contributions to rent rooms for undergraduate group meetings and debates off-campus.

Yale recently took away the Aurelian Honor Society’s historic rooms in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall.

Historic, traditional, and legitimate undergraduate groups are looked upon by the Yale Administration with suspicion and disfavor: they might be drinking! they might be untidy! Worse, they might be exclusive!

But Sexual Perversion and Psychological Abnormality are, today, enshrined at Yale as a privileged combined identity group worthy of recognition, representation, financial subsidy, staffing, a full-kitchen, and its own department of academic study.

Personally, I am offended by the complete absence of rooms, directorates of resources, representation, and academic majors for Sportsmen, Shooters, Gun Collectors, Rednecks, Polacks, and Right-Wingers. If Yale ever comes to its senses, I have my eye on the original Wolf’s Head Hall at 77 Prospect Street.

01 Jul 2015

Past, Present, Future

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RelationshipsCartoon

12 Feb 2015

Laudator Temporis Acti

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ThenandNow1
ThenandNow2

Hat tip to Ratak Monodosico.

23 Jul 2014

Deresiewicz Attacks the Ivy League

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Commons
Yale’s University Commons, the freshman dining hall

William Deresiewicz criticizes American elite education from what might almost be a conservative perspective, but in the end he thinks the answer has to be a Utopia in which “you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.” Good luck with that, Bill.

If there is one idea, above all, through which the concept of social responsibility is communicated at the most prestigious schools, it is “leadership.” “Harvard is for leaders,” goes the Cambridge cliché. To be a high-achieving student is to constantly be urged to think of yourself as a future leader of society. But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top. Making partner at a major law firm or becoming a chief executive, climbing the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy you decide to attach yourself to. I don’t think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning.

The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things. As of 2010, about a third of graduates went into financing or consulting at a number of top schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell. Whole fields have disappeared from view: the clergy, the military, electoral politics, even academia itself, for the most part, including basic science. It’s considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker. “What Wall Street figured out,” as Ezra Klein has put it, “is that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, an incredible work ethic and no idea what to do next.” …

Let’s not kid ourselves: The college admissions game is not primarily about the lower and middle classes seeking to rise, or even about the upper-middle class attempting to maintain its position. It is about determining the exact hierarchy of status within the upper-middle class itself. In the affluent suburbs and well-heeled urban enclaves where this game is principally played, it is not about whether you go to an elite school. It’s about which one you go to. It is Penn versus Tufts, not Penn versus Penn State. It doesn’t matter that a bright young person can go to Ohio State, become a doctor, settle in Dayton, and make a very good living. Such an outcome is simply too horrible to contemplate.

Deresiewicz is right and he is also wrong.

Elite culture in America always worshipped money and success. What is different today is that elite culture no longer respects its past or feels any meaningful connection to the rest of the country or the rest of society, except for recognized victims groups, patronage of which is useful for credentialing of the elite.

He’s right that race-based affirmative action is silly, and efforts at egalitarianism ought to be based on family finances and geographic representation. But, he fails to recognize that the education of national elites is not, in the end, about leveling. It is about building a leadership class, and our problem today is that American society has lost touch with its own identity and has replaced everything including conservation and transmssion of culture and paideia itself with left-wing power games based upon ressentiment.

01 Apr 2014

Anonymous Letter to the Harvard Crimson

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An anonymous Harvard coed published an angry letter in the Crimson, asserting that she was giving up and will be moving off-campus next semester because Harvard failed to prosecute, or even remove from the same residential house, the male student she claims sexually assaulted her roughly a year ago.

The young lady’s account of the alleged assault reads:

He was a friend of mine and I trusted him. It was a freezing Friday night when I stumbled into his dorm room after too many drinks. He took my shirt off and started biting the skin on my neck and breast. I pushed back on his chest and asked him to stop kissing me aggressively. He laughed. He said that I should “just wear a scarf” to cover the marks. He continued to abuse my body, hurting my breast and vagina. He asked me to use my mouth. I said no. I was intoxicated, I was in pain, I was trapped between him and the wall, and I was scared to death that he would continue to ignore what I said. I stopped everything and turned my back to him, praying he would leave me alone. He started getting impatient. “Are you only going to make me hard, or are you going to make me come?” he said in a demanding tone.

It did not sound like a question. I obeyed.

Shortly after I reported my sexual assault to my House staff, I was told by a senior member of the College administration that the Administrative Board was very unlikely to “issue a charge” against my assailant and to launch a thorough investigative process because my assailant may not have technically violated the school’s policy in the student handbook. Even though he had verbally pressured me into sexual activity and physically hurt me, the incident did not fall within the scope of the school’s narrow definition of sexual assault.

Her indignation over that incident and the failure of the Harvard Administration to avenge her honor, she claims have caused her to develop a mental illness.

I’m writing this piece as I’m sitting in my own dining hall, only a few tables away from the guy who pressured me into sexual activity in his bedroom, one night last spring. My hands are trembling as they hover across the keyboard. I’m exhausted from fighting for myself. I’m exhausted from sending emails to my resident dean, to my House Master, to my Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment tutors, to counselors from the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, to my attorney. I’m exhausted from asking for extensions because of “personal issues.” I’m exhausted from avoiding the laundry room, the House library and the mailroom because I’m scared of who I will run into.

More than anything, I’m exhausted from living in the same House as the student who sexually assaulted me nine months ago.

I’ve spent most of 2013 fighting the Harvard administration so that they would move my assailant to a different House, and I have failed miserably. Several weeks ago, in a grey room on the fourth floor of the Holyoke Center, my psychiatrist officially diagnosed me with depression. I did not budge, and I was not surprised. I developed an anxiety disorder shortly after moving back to my House this fall, and running into my assailant up to five times a day certainly did not help my recovery.

“How about we increase your dose from 100 to 150 milligrams a day,” my psychiatrist said in a mechanical, indifferent voice. Sure thing.

This morning, as I swallowed my three blue pills of Sertraline and tried to forget about the nightmares that haunted my night, I finally admitted it to myself: I have lost my battle against this institution. Seven months after I reported what happened, my assailant still lives in my House. I am weeks behind in the three classes I’m taking. I have to take sleeping pills every night to fall and stay asleep, and I routinely get nightmares in which I am sexually assaulted in public. I cannot drink alcohol without starting to cry hysterically. I dropped my favorite extracurriculars because I cannot find the energy to drag myself out of bed. I do not care about my future anymore, because I don’t know who I am or what I care about or whether I will still be alive in a few years. I spend most of my time outside of class curled up in bed, crying, sleeping, or staring at the ceiling, occasionally wondering if I just heard my assailant’s voice in the staircase. Often, the cough syrup sitting in my drawer or the pavement several floors down from my window seem like reasonable options.

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This item came to my attention because several female Yale undergraduates from a fraternal group I belong to were circulating it and discussing it from a feminist point of view.

The whole business sounds very sad, and we older people find it very easy to be critical of today’s hook-up culture in which young women are apparently commonly expected to deliver sexual gratification to male associates as a routine courtesy at the conclusion of any shared social experience, however slight.

Nonetheless, it is bound to strike any sensible adult as obvious that it is impossible for third parties simply to accept the subjective account of one party to such a private encounter as completely factual and veracious. It is inevitable that two people will have different viewpoints and there can be no objective witnesses to a romantic liaison. It is part of the nature of relations between the sexes, too, that romantic encounters may be filled with mutual misunderstandings and may not infrequently lead to animosity and regret.

Just as young ladies are very liable to be confused and too easily pressured into doing things they may later regret, young men are too frequently liable to be loutish, uncouth, and simple-mindedly optimistic in interpreting the willingness of their partner. In earlier periods of history, these problems were widely recognized and young ladies were firmly advised to avoid finding themselves alone and intoxicated in the company of any young man.

When one reads this young lady’s anonymous account, one tends to think that she must be an example of the modern type of person who wants to have things both ways. She wants a modern sexually-liberated society, in which dormitories are coeducated, in which college authorities have withdrawn any pretension to acting in loco parentis or supervising the morals and behavior of undergraduates in any way, but when she finds herself regretting getting drunk, accompanying a young man she obviously did not know as well as she thought she did to his room, alone and at night, and then giving in to some sort of less-than-life-or-death pressure and finally doing something she regrets, she blames everyone but herself. Frankly, one feels obliged to reflect aloud: if society and your college are not going to have power over you or be in charge of protecting your virtue, then that task is really simply left to you.

Beyond that, I would say that pretty much everybody, when young, gets drunk a time or two and then does things he (or she) will inevitably regret. That kind of unfortunate experience ought to lead to a firm resolve in future to avoid levels of intoxication which might untowardedly influence one’s own behavior and to a certain amount of temporary personal chagrin. It should not lead to a campus-wide political campaign of agitation aimed at personal revenge, to the neglect of one’s studies, or to an obsession over one’s personal wrongs leading to mental illness.

This young lady fails to observe the obvious. When someone takes an unfortunate incident like this and proceeds to inflate it into a grievance making her the equivalent of one of the principals in a Jacobean drama, when she allows herself to get carried away with self-entitlement and self-righteousness to the point of striking such lurid and dramatic public poses over what must be essentially the kind of unfortunate private transaction which goes on routinely every day at colleges in today’s fallen world, when she wages a year-long campaign of this kind, no rational person is going to take her seriously as a reliable witness or responsible complainant.

21 Mar 2014

It’s Not Porn, It’s HBO

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Definitely NSFW.

1:52 video

From House of Eratosthenes via Bird Dog.

08 Mar 2014

Pornstar’s Boss Sent a Letter to the Classmate Who Outed Her

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Belle Knox

Duke University freshman porn star Belle Knox responded to being outed by her classmate Thomas Bagley by giving a series of interviews ( 1, 2) in which she defended her occupation and described her experiences in the most positive terms:

For me, shooting pornography brings me unimaginable joy. When I finish a scene, I know that I have done so and completed an honest day’s work. It is my artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home.

Few adult readers will agree with her that acting in porn films constitutes an artistic outlet or believe that her industry really offers a “home,” but it seems at least that her employer was disposed to come to her defense, retaliating for her outing at Duke by revealing her outer’s thousand-dollar-a-month porn habit and mockingly daring him to come out to sunny Los Angeles to star in his own porn film.

Letter to Thomas Bagley

10 Feb 2014

Meeting Prince Charming Millennial-Style

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03 Sep 2013

Is Lena Dunham Really Today’s Juvenal?

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Peter Augustus Lawler, in Intercollegiate Review, makes a good argument for the initially counter-intuitive thesis that HBO’s “Girls” (television series) really ought to be seen as a trenchantly bleak and realistic morality play, devastatingly critiquing the lives and philosophic failures of its four principal characters.

There are reasons not to watch the HBO series Girls. For one, we see way too much of Hannah (Lena Dunham) way too often. Ms. Dunham, the show’s creator, doesn’t know that when it comes to nudity, less is more. But Hannah’s promiscuous nudity is not pornography. That, as Flannery O’Connor explained, requires the idealized, sentimental detachment of sex from its hard relational purposes linked with birth and death.

Yes, Hannah’s body is “unsculpted.” For more reasons than that, her nudity plays as pathetic, as the sign of a wounded soul. It embodies her detachment from the forms that shape a decent life. There’s nothing safe—and nothing idealized—about Hannah’s sexual life. The main reason she’s so “inappropriate” with her body is that she’s very confused about what it is for.

We could also wax indignant about the show’s vulgar language and disgusting incidents. Maybe Girls goes too far, but for diagnostic purposes good art can exaggerate what’s revolting. And everything that is genuinely revolting here is portrayed that way. We see time and again, for example, that there’s little more degrading than casual sex in the absence of love. When we’re shown an abortion clinic, or women contracting STDs, or a string of pathetic hookups, and whiny, brittle, pretend marriages, we see the stupidity and misery of an abysmally clueless life. The show’s bitter, intended irony is this: while these girls are so proudly pro-choice, they lack what it takes to choose well.

What’s wrong with these Girls (and their boys) is that they lack character. Their easygoing world of privilege has saved them from any experiences that might build it. Their affluent parents are hardly “role models,” and they’re too flaccid to give their kids the “tough love” they need. Aristotle was right: your skill at soundly using your moral freedom depends a lot on how you were raised.

We also see plenty of evidence that what these girls really want is meaningful work and personal love. But they have not the first clue on how to get them.

Their education has failed them—another piece of realism. Hannah majored in film studies at a school in Ohio that we know is really Oberlin (Dunham is an Obie). Her major was neither “liberal” nor “vocational.” She learned nothing that would help make a living, but she did glean enough vanity to make her unfit for the “entry-level” jobs for which she barely qualifies. She also fancies that she can earn a living as a writer. While her prose style is pleasing, she has nothing “real” to write about. She didn’t read with passionate care any “real” books in college. Her education taught nothing “real” about her responsibilities as a free and relational being.

So here’s another solid takeaway from the show: few students whose majors end in “studies” have the education, talent, or discipline to succeed. In lieu of marketable skills and a work ethic, they boast a rich sense of entitlement. They spend lots of time, quite shamelessly, figuring out how to thrive as parasites. Their extended undergraduate adolescence prepared them only to scheme to stretch dependency out ever further. The girls aren’t becoming women. They do know they’re supposed to grow up, to change in a maturely relational direction. But they lack most of the resources—beyond mixed-up longings—to figure out how.

Read the whole thing.

23 Jul 2013

Tail at Yale Situation Not Really Different Today

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Harkness Tower at Yale

Weekend before last, the Times Magazine published one of those heavy-breathing, “We’ve got trouble right here in River City” sorts of articles about Ivy League hook-up culture, which maintained that today’s coeds at elite universities are too busy with grade-grubbing for serious relationships and are therefore settling for brief, meaningless encounters.

All this didn’t really ring true to me, so I was not surprised to find some skeptical pushback in Time from recent Yale graduate Eliana Docktermann.

I’m straight, white, female, and just graduated from an Ivy League school, so these trend pieces are supposedly about me. But they don’t ring true, and after a year of reading them, I am exhausted by the media’s obsession with the “hookup culture.” Why, besides the obvious reasons, is this topic so irresistible? Dr. Lisa Wade, an associate professor of sociology at Occidental College who has done extensive research on the subject, explains, “The media is talking about it because we love moral panic.”

As it turns out, there’s not all that much to panic about. If you look at the data, this Ivy League “hookup culture” exists for only a tiny percentage of college kids. What’s more, the sex lives of most of today’s college students may not be all that different from those of their parents or grandparents at the same age.

So let’s look at the … biggest misconceptions about college kids and sex:

1. College students are having random hookups rather than meaningful relationships.

Well, it depends on how you define a hookup, but in general rampant casual sex is not the norm, despite what the media is saying. …

[A]ccording to the survey quoted in that same Times article, 20% of female students and 25% of male students have “hooked up” with 10 or more people. That sounds like a lot. But wait—10 or more people over the course of four years in college? That’s only two to three partners per year. Moreover, the definition of “hookup” spanned from kissing to intercourse. Of those women and men who had hooked up with 10 or more people, only 40% of those instances were sex.

Crunching the numbers, that means that only 8% of college women who responded to this survey had sex with 10 or more men who they were not dating over the course of four years. …

Most Ivy League girls too busy and ambitious for relationships.

[T]he demands of the modern world have left women at these elite institutions with no time for boyfriends, so they are opting out of relationships and into hookups.

Raisa Bruner …, who graduated from Yale with me in May, was dissatisfied with the conclusions of [an Atlantic] piece and decided to find out if Yalies were really dismissing relationships for hookups. She wrote in the Yale Daily News:

    In a survey I conducted of over 100 Yale students, almost all of the single respondents, ambition be damned, said they were currently seeking a relationship involving dating, commitment or, at the very least, monogamous sex.

I know a number of very successful women—women who are now students at top med schools, analysts at the State Department and Rhodes scholars—who found the time while at Yale to maintain serious relationships with equally-as-busy boys (or girls). I know many other women who left Yale wishing they had had a relationship in college.

And while I can’t say that the sex lives of Yalies represents all college students or even those in the Ivy League, the data from the school about sex is a good reality check. In 2010, the Yale Daily News conducted a sex survey on campus and found that only 64.3% of students had had sexual intercourse over the course of their Yale career. The median Yale student had had only two sexual partners by the time he or she graduated. Promiscuity is not the norm. Not even for men (whom we never hear from in these articles for some reason). 30.5% of Yale men had never had intercourse. Plenty of students are forgoing sex entirely, limiting their sexual partners or engaging in exclusive relationships.

Read the whole thing.

10 Dec 2012

Ivy League Schools Cracking Down

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Bloomberg
reports that Ivy League colleges everywhere are taking swift and vigorous action to suppress student misbehavior.

Harvard and Cornell universities have joined Yale University and Dartmouth College in cracking down on out-of-control behavior as drinking, hazing and sexual harassment endanger students and tarnish Ivy League reputations.

Harvard faculty voted last month to require registration of parties and ban drinking games, and Cornell ordered fraternities to have live-in advisers. This fall, Dartmouth began security checks at Greek houses and Princeton University banned freshmen from joining them.

The moves are the latest effort to regulate campus behavior since rules controlling students — known as in loco parentis — were abolished in the 1960s. Disobedience crested last year for Ivy League schools, which cost more than $50,000 a year to attend. A Dartmouth hazing article detailed rituals involving bodily fluids. A Cornell student died of alcohol poisoning, and Yale was hit with a discrimination complaint after fraternity members chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!”

“Colleges have been in an arms race to prove to students that they’re cool and give more freedom than the others,” said Lisa Wade, head of the sociology department at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “Now, maybe the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.”

College students have come to equate the absence of boundaries with fun, said Wade, who studies the casual sex culture on campuses. That, combined with large amounts of alcohol easily available on campus, can skew students’ sense of what is acceptable or even normal.

There seems to be a tidal pattern about this sort of thing. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when students were really riotous and disorderly in lifestyle and behavior, university administrators went home and hid under their beds, allowing student mobs to occupy administration buildings and even to shut down Yale a month before examinations and graduation.

Today, when students are meek and mild and cause little trouble, bold, brave deans react to every little contretemps that hits the newspapers the way the German Occupation reacted to the Warsaw Uprising.

05 Dec 2012

Public Sex at Berkeley

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The Berkeley Daily Californian (surprise! surprise!) has a regular sex columnist named Nadia Cho, whose most recent contribution, an account of celebrating Thanksgiving with romantic liaisons in on-campus locations other than her own room has attracted greater than usual attention.

I actually smiled indulgently as I clicked on the link to the young lady’s column, not having failed to remember with affection certain on-campus meetings with young ladies of my own back during the consulate of Plancus; but, alas! I found myself, upon reading the piece, involuntarily conscripted into the ranks of the censorious and disapproving.

Nadia Cho’s literary approach to the sensitive subject of love-making includes large servings of crude colloquial expressions embedded in a conspicuously unreflective rah-rah, just-let’s-do-it ideological perspective which inevitably strikes the reader as Philistine and coarse.

Berkeley is the best place to explore your sexuality. Our school is a predominantly safe and accepting space with many places, people and resources to help you discover your sexual self. It is the place where I learned what it means to be queer, to recognize the presence of patriarchy, to attempt polyamory and to become more confident in my sexuality so I could go ahead with new experiences — attending naked parties and orgies and writing a sex column, just to name a few.

Learn to appreciate your sexy side and experience a few frisky things during your time here. Take the Female Sexuality DeCal, have sex in Morrison, do the naked run and talk to people who are willing to share their personal experiences. The wide acceptance and freedom of open sexual expression are among the greatest legacies we have the opportunity to uphold at this university.

On the other hand, maybe Berkeley really isn’t the best place to explore your sexuality. You’ll probably get a dose, and it seems to turn some people into empty-headed, communist skanks, who think that Lawrencian latitudinarianism constitutes an intellectual legacy.

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