William Howard Russell 1827-1907 was perhaps the first modern war correspondent. He reported for the London Times on the Crimean War and later on the American Civil War.
Most European visitors were enthusiastic admirers of the Confederacy, and in particular of its romantic leadership. Russell was different. He viewed both sides skeptically and with cynicism. Mary Boykin Chestnut, in her famous diaries, occasionally expressed indignation over Russell’s published comments.
In Russell’s Diary for August 1, 1861 in The Civil War in America, he summarized South Carolinians’ uncomplimentary perspective on New England, which goes a good way to explain the motivations for secession.
“If that confounded ship had sunk with those —— Pilgrim Fathers on board,” says one, “we never should have been driven to these extremities!” “We could have got on with fanatics if they had been either Christians or gentlemen,” says another; “for in the first case they would have acted with common charity, and in the second they would have fought when they insulted us; but there are neither Christians nor gentlemen among them!” “Anything on the earth!” exclaims a third, “any form of government, any tyranny or despotism you will; but”—and here is an appeal more terrible than the adjuration of all the Gods—“nothing on earth shall ever induce us to submit to any union with the brutal, bigoted blackguards of the New England States, who neither comprehend nor regard the feelings of gentlemen! Man, woman, and child, we’ll die first.” Imagine these and an infinite variety of similar sentiments uttered by courtly, well-educated men, who set great store on a nice observance of the usages of society, and who are only moved to extreme bitterness and anger when they speak of the North, and you will fail to conceive the intensity of the dislike of the South Carolinians for the Free States. There are national antipathies on our side of the Atlantic which are tolerably strong, and have been unfortunately pertinacious and long-lived. The hatred of the Italian for the Tedesco, of the Greek for the Turk, of the Turk for the Russ, is warm and fierce enough to satisfy the Prince of Darkness, not to speak of a few little pet aversions among the allied Powers and the atoms of composite empires; but they are all mere indifference and neutrality of feeling compared to the animosity evinced by the “gentry” of South Carolina for the “rabble of the North.” Read the rest of this entry »
While [Mr. & Mrs. David Geimer] were in Paris, David took a photo of his wife and Polanski. They are all smiles.
Geimer told [a] French magazine:
“Let me be very clear: what happened with Polanski was never a big problem for me. I didn’t even know it was illegal, that someone could be arrested for it. I was fine, I’m still fine. The fact that we’ve made this [a big deal] weighs on me terribly. To have to constantly repeat that it wasn’t a big deal, it’s a terrible burden.
“The extradition attempt, the fact that Roman was arrested like that, it was so unfair and so in opposition to justice,” Geimer also said in the Le Pointe interview. “Everyone should know by now that Roman has served his sentence. Which was… long, if you want my opinion. From my side, nobody wanted him to go to jail, but he did and it was enough. He paid his debt to society. There, end of story. He did everything that was asked of him until the situation went berserk he had no other choice but to flee. Anyone who thinks that he deserves to be in prison is wrong. It isn’t the case today and it wasn’t the case yesterday.”
I commented at length, back in 2009, during the outbreak of national hysteria in which journalists on both political sides climbed up on portable pulpits and howled for Polanski to be extradited from Europe and flung into prison for sleeping with an underage young lady more than 30 years earlier.
The Baby Boom generation brought irony to the college marching band tradition.
At Yale, our band quit wearing uniforms, abandoned precision formations, and rather than keeping up the old ways, preferred to mock them with a combination of deliberate chaos and obscene symbolism. That’s the Ivy League for you.
One can argue with the choice, of course, but it was perfectly consonant with the old Prep School tradition of “Cool Sophistication Ãœber Alles”.
So, since my day, decades ago, the band game at certain Ivy League schools became “What can we do this game raunchier and more outrageous than we did last week?”
The Columbia Marching Band apparently has been operating in the same manner as the Yale Precision Marching Band: no precision, plenty of raunchy humor. However, the Zeitgeist has changed. Bacchus, Silenus, and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers have been packed off to the retirement home, and grim, censorious Judge Hawthorne (who has no sense of humor at all) is back and witch-hunting enthusiastically again.
Columbia University has drummed out of existence its famously irreverent marching band â€” known for its phallic formations and cheering for the other team during home games.
Administrators at the Manhattan Ivy League institution warned the renegade band last semester that it needed to apply to become a recognized student group if it wanted any more funding, instead of operating under the auspices of the athletic department.
Skeptical band members say the move was payback for them hitting the wrong notes with higher-ups.
â€œWe are not perfect, but we always try our best to speak truth to power, punch up as much as we can, and I just donâ€™t think thatâ€™s something Columbia wants to hear,â€ said the bandâ€™s travel coordinator, Isabel Sepulveda, 20, to The Post on Friday â€” the eve of the schoolâ€™s first home football game.
The band, for which members donâ€™t have to audition, has been a thorn in the side of administrators for years.
In addition to the off-color formations and cheekily cheering on their schoolâ€™s rivals, the 45-person unit band played CeeLo Greenâ€™s â€œFâ€“k Youâ€™â€™ tune outside Trump Tower in 2016 and knelt during the national anthem at football games last season.
The bawdy music brigade also famously instituted â€œOrgo Night,â€ which involved popping up at the campus library with instruments in hand â€” on the eve of organic-chemistry finals. Orgo is a nickname for organic chemistry.
When campus higher-ups clamped down on the noisy prank, the bandâ€™s website read, â€œSince then, we have performed directly outside the library to make sure no one misses out â€“ especially the Vice Provost.â€
The band defiantly waited till this semester to apply as an independent group, but the school said they were too late. It nixed their already severely reduced budget and banned them from official sporting functions.
Trombone player Quentin Rubel, 20, said, the schoolâ€™s action strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a college student.
â€œThe band has always been a very outspoken source of counter-culturalism on Columbiaâ€™s campus,â€™â€™ he said.
But the school is just as defiant. It is tapping outside entertainment to keep fans engaged during games and creating a new spirit organization to be overseen by a faculty director, band members said.
Ten students recently protested one of the Harvard Lampoonâ€™s comp meetings, condemning the undergraduate humor magazine for its insensitive content, and what they claim is a hostile and exclusive institutional culture.
As a Board, we applaud the protesters for standing up to the Lampoon. We condemn the magazineâ€™s publication of offensive and culturally insensitive content and sympathize with the protestersâ€™ claims that the organization has a hostile internal culture. We hope the Lampoon views the protests as impetus to work harder to build a better culture and better institutional pathways to screen their content before publication.
Last May, the Lampoon published an inappropriate, sexualized image of Holocaust victim Anne Frank, which Director of Harvard Hillel Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg compared to the â€œobscenity of the Nazis.â€ This abhorrent incident was a striking dispay of hypersexualization and anti-Semitism, but must be understood as only one of many instances in which the Lampoonâ€™s actions have peddled in such morally reprehensible sentiments as humor. The magazine has â€” in the past â€” made sexist jokes, from comparing women to dogs to insensitive jokes about University President Lawrence S. Bacowâ€™s wife. And its insensitive content extends beyond the Anne Frank image as well, including an inappropriate joke about ISIS and minorities in final clubs. As if this smorgasbord of poor taste were not harmful enough, the Lampoon has also put out content trivializing a number of delicate issues such as suicide and fat-shaming.
The editors of the Lampoon said in a statement that their publishing process â€œlacks sufficient editorial oversight.â€ We believe this lack of oversight can lead to an inability to discern what kinds of humor are in poor taste.
We sympathize with the protesters and believe the Lampoon must take steps to address their concerns. And although the Lampoon has tried to take steps toward increasing diversity and accessibility â€” through steps such as newly instated positions to their Accessibility Council and Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training for new members â€” we believe these efforts are insufficient. The Lampoon should, in addition to OSAPR training for its members, require implicit bias training and should be more explicit about the ways their comp and internal culture have improved to avoid this in the future.
In seeking change at the Lampoon, we believe the student body has a huge amount of power. We call on students who are considering comping the Lampoon to consider the culture that has enabled the systemic production and amplification of offensive and culturally insensitive content. In so doing, we hope they either choose not to comp the Lampoon, or, in comping it, to demand change.
Daniel Flynn, in the American Spectator, says: Yes, you can blame Massachusetts.
William Blaxton, the cityâ€™s first settler who dwelled alone on Boston Common, invited the Puritans to settle on the Shawmut. They soon encouraged him to leave. â€œI have come from England because I did not like the Lord Bishops,â€ the first Bostonian lamented. â€œI cannot join you because I would not be under the lord brethren.â€
In the next generation, the Puritans, who depicted themselves as paragons of religious freedom (a bit of propaganda so effective that most fall for it today), executed four on Boston Common for the crime of Quakerism.
Beacon Hill, overlooking the Boston Common, served as the epicenter of the Know Nothing Party during its brief, 1850s heyday. The Know Nothings won every congressional seat, every seat in the state senate, every state constitutional office, and all but 3 of 379 seats in the state house of representatives in the 1854 elections in Massachusetts.
H.L. Mencken traveled from Baltimore to Boston in 1926 to sell a copy of The American Mercury, which contained a story about â€” gasp â€” a prostitute, to the Reverend J. Franklin Chase. The Watch and Ward Society head handed a half-dollar to Mencken, who hilariously bit the silver coin to affirm the honesty of the minister magazine buyer. He then handed over a copy of The American Mercury, which resulted in his immediate arrest â€” and the cigar-chomping Mencken throwing his remaining magazines in the air to the crowd gathered at Brimstone Corner at the edge of Boston Common where the entrance to the Park Street station stands.
Boston imagines itself as the Hub of the Universe and the Athens of America. Massachusetts executed more witches than the rest of the colonies combined, â€œbanned inâ€ regularly prefaces the name of its capital city, and Chik-fil-A, plastic bags, leaf blowers, and other annoyances of the enlightened today regularly face official opprobrium.
How to reconcile the former self-perception with the latter reality?
Todayâ€™s Proper Bostonians deny their ancestry. But a thread runs through the Puritans to the Know Nothings to the Watch and Ward Society to todayâ€™s do-gooders. Just as the Puritans, the Know Nothings, and the Watch and Ward Society regarded themselves as enlightened, progressive, and cultured, local parochial cosmopolitans imagine themselves as the vanguard of tolerance. Intolerant people remain most intolerant to the idea of their own intolerance.
â€œAs politics have become more about identity than policy, partisan leanings have become more about how we grew up and where we feel like we belong,â€ the Atlantic, which commissioned the survey, points out. â€œPolitics are acting more like religion, in other words.â€
Joseph Norwood, at Slate, admires the religiously enthusiastic Onomastic customs of Puritan New England.
My personal favorite Puritan name is If Christ Had Not Died For Thy Sins Thou Shouldst Be Damned Forever Barebones.
Even after these kinds of expressive of over-the-top religious sentiments personal names went out of fashion, Puritan New Englanders still continued naming their children, right up into the early 20th Century, in colorful and distinctive ways. I actually used to know a Reverdy Whitlock. But my favorite new era Puritan name, dating from the late 18th century, would have to be Epaphroditus Champion.
In The Old Gang, A Sporting and Military Memoir, Simon Raven describes meeting again in 1987, at the “Tweasledown Races (near Camberly)”, Major (Quartermaster) L. R. Plumb [name doubtless fictionalized], an old comrade-in-arms with whom he’d served in Germany and Kenya in the 1950s.
Later in the same decade, Raven had been allowed to resign quietly from the regiment to avoid scandal, after he had accrued debts to bookmakers he couldn’t pay. Plumb, on the other hand, remained in the service, advancing up the NCO ranks, and finally winding up a commissioned Quartermaster officer, and a Major no less.
When Raven inquires how things have been in the British Army over the last twenty years, Plumb complains that the Empire shrank away, and the old types of officers, gentlemen of the old school, had been replaced by a new class of humanity.
“All the time, Simon, everyone getting more and more pofaced and pedantic and goody-goody and “efficient”, more “technologically minded”, less and less capable of making or enjoying a joke, shit scared of doing anything that might affect their miserable dreary careers, forever passing the pisspot to somebody else and hoping he’d spill it, so that his enemies could kick him in the face while he was trying to mop up. And all so deadly serious, so earnest, so pi. Christ, how I longed for a breath of Darcy, or O., that lot, your lot, the old gang. …
But oh the boredom. And the nagging. After 1960 the whole thing changed completely. Don’t do this, you might kill someone; don’t do that, you might offend someone; don’t drink at lunchtime; get married, we don’t approve of bachelors; get children or the other NCOs will be jealous that you’re not buggered up with kids like they are; get a smaller car, that one will cause envy; wear a hat at the races, it’s the done thing; don’t wear a hat at the races, we don’t do the done thing anymore, it isn’t progressive and modern.”
I particularly liked the “pofaced and pedantic and goody-goody and ‘efficient’, [and] ‘technologically minded.'” The image came immediately to mind of Barack Hussein Obama promising “100,000 more teachers” and his brave new world of “green jobs.”
Raven has the contemporary incarnation of the Puritan pegged: self-important, pious, and constantly busybody-ishly improving and always in the name of Science and Progress. Look at Obama’s campaign motto: Forward. Forward like lemmings, right over the cliff of ideology.
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, todayâ€™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 Obamaâ€™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 â€” and to smite. Todayâ€™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 lawâ€”and that our governing constitutions and laws must be interpretedâ€”by the godly who alone ought to be seated on the judicial tribunalsâ€”to give said magistrates all the power they require for their immense and unending task of moral regulation and uplift.
Silliman College has decided to cancel all future Safety Dances after eight hospitalizations followed Saturdayâ€™s event.
In a Monday night email to the News following this weekâ€™s Silliman Activities and Administrative Committee meeting, Safety Dance organizers Nicole De Santis â€™15 and Hannah Fornero â€™15 announced that the â€œrisk and liability of the Safety Dance are too great for us to continue having it.â€ Though new efforts were made at this yearâ€™s Safety Dance to help improve student safety, binge drinking and hospital transports still dominated the event. Silliman College Master Judith Kraus said three students were transported from the dance site to Yale-New Haven Hospital, and that another five were transported from several other locations on campus â€” marking a significant increase from last yearâ€™s five students in total. Krauss said that aside from those students transported due to intoxication, many others were excessively intoxicated and engaged in inappropriate behavior.
â€œThere were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,â€ Krauss said.
Master K has always been the biggest sourpuss on campus. Just a curmudgeony old witch with a total no fun attitude. This quote blew me away:
“â€œThere were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,â€ Krauss said.”
It calls to mind Neidermeyer’s line from the disciplinary hearing in Animal House: “And most recently of all, a “Roman Toga Party” was held from which we have received more than two dozen reports of individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here”
“…ambulances picked up the other five students from different locations around campus, attributing these cases to excessive pre-gaming.”
As would be expected when you ban or heavily restrict access to alcohol at the event itself. Experience has shown that when access to alcohol is limited, students will simply hide in their rooms and rip shots before mixing up some sauce in a gatorate bottle or flask for the road. They’ll drink it quickly leading to a rapid and dangerous rise in BAC.
This whole thing is ironic given subject matter of the Men Without Hats song from which the dance’s name was derived. It was the band’s response to curmudgeons like Master K who thought the drunken, raucous new wave dance parties of the 80’s were detrimental to society. “We can dance if we want to…” Except at Yale.
13 drunks got carted off to the tank after the major party of the year attended by roughly 2300 undergraduates. Oh, me! oh, my!
In my day, of course, when you got yourself blue, blind, paralytic drunk, nobody came to the rescue with an ambulance. You had your own private session of worshipping the porcelain god, and then you staggered off to bed, doomed to rise eventually to experience the kind of hangover that makes one seriously consider embracing Mormonism.
In those days, Yale residential college masters were all incredibly distinguished, internationally renowned scholars, and representatives of armigerous families whose first American settler had signed the Mayflower Compact. They were worldly men, who had won fame by publishing major studies of prominent canonical subjects like Shakespeare or Dante, or who had written the definitive diplomatic history of the Madison Administration, or who presided over the Yale Library’s cataloguing of the papers of Benjamin Franklin.
They were men of the world, operating at an Olympian level of serenity which could not possibly be disturbed by the petty follies or incidental misbehavior of lowly undergraduates.
The current Master of Silliman College is a professor from the Yale School of Nursing, forsooth! I always thought the existence of a Yale School of Nursing was a quaint anomaly instituted sometime in the Middle Dark Ages to provide a kind of minimal level access to females in the grim pre-coeducation era, probably as a budgetary expedient intended to lower slightly the university dining halls’ budget for saltpeter. We’d probably get more sophisticated residential college governance if the current administration were selecting college masters from the faculties of a Yale School of Taxidermy or the Yale Correspondence College of Beauticians.
First they came for your morphine and cocaine. You don’t remember that because they banned those over a hundred years ago. Then they came for alcohol, but they were forced to give it back. They outlawed marijuana, “the killer weed” which produced “reefer madness” allegedly turning its smokers into violent maniacs just a bit before my generation came along. Then, they went after tobacco. Try lighting a cigarette today in public buildings anywhere in an American city.
Has anybody stopped to wonder what’s next on Puritanism’s hit list? Kelly Freston can tell you.
When I think about the effect of animal products on human health, I’m reminded of how quickly we’ve done a national about face on tobacco, and I look forward to the day when the Times magazine has a similar apology from someone who promoted animal products — because the evidence is in and it continues to grow: Animal products kill a lot more Americans than tobacco does.
The West’s three biggest killers — heart disease, cancer, and stroke — are linked to excessive animal product consumption, and vegetarians have much lower risks of all three. Vegetarians also have a fraction of the obesity and diabetes rates of the general population — of course, both diseases are at epidemic levels and are only getting worse.
But much more important than the vegetarian community’s general statistics are what can be done with the right vegetarian diet: For some years now, doctors have been not just preventing, but even reversing, heart disease using a low-fat vegetarian diet.
That’s right — the disease that kills almost as many Americans as everything else combined can be not just prevented, but reversed, with a low fat plant-based diet, as documented by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
They’ve evidently converted that confirmed sensualist Bill Clinton. His video impressed me actually. He has lost a lot of weight, and it isn’t difficult to believe that a vegan diet would return most of us to our weight levels in high school (if not in Auschwitz). Trying that diet to lose weight does make a certain amount of sense, and losing weight is undoubtedly good for reducing the progression of heart disease. I’m not sure that I believe that eating like a vegan idiot will actually reverse heart disease though. I did buy Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book and may give that diet a bit of a try.
The Telegraph reports that the French riot police are threatening to go out on strike to resist the French nanny state. The issuing of alcohol to men going into physical combat used to be a routine step during the ancien regime. France with its Catholic tradition ought to be more resistant to the pettiness of modern Puritanism.
Simplicity movement people always seem to shell out more money than the not-so-simple, usually because the simple things they love always seem to cost more than the mass-produced versions. On a website called Passionate Homemaking that’s dedicated to making, among other things, your own cheese, your own beeswax candles, and your own underarm deodorant, you are also advised to cook with nothing but raw cultured butter from a mail-order outfit called Organic Pastures. The butter probably tastes great. It also costs $10.75 a pound – plus UPS shipping. At farmer’s markets, where those striving for simplicity like to browse with their cloth shopping bags, the organic, the locally grown, and the humanely raised come at a price: tomatoes at $4 a pound, bread at $8 a loaf, and $6 for a cup of “artisanal” gelato.
Wealthy and well-born people admiring – and sparing themselves no expense in convincing themselves that they’re cultivating – the virtues of humble folk is nothing new. Two millennia ago, Virgil, in his Georgics, heaped praise upon the tree pruners and beekeepers whom he likely could see toiling in the distance while he sipped wine on the veranda of his wealthy patron, Maecenas. Marie Antoinette liked to dress up as a shepherdess and hold court in her “rustic” cottage at the Petit Trianon. Other harbingers of today’s simplicity movement were the arts-and-crafts devotees of the early 1900s who filled their homes with handcrafted medieval-looking benches and the 1960s hippies whose minibuses and geodesic domes that enabled their gypsy lifestyles usually came courtesy of checks from their parents.
But it has been only in the last decade or so that the simplicity movement has come into its own, aligning itself not only with aesthetic style but also with power. Thanks to the government-backed war against obesity (fat people, conveniently, tend to belong to the polyester-clad, Big Mac-guzzling lower orders) and the “green” movement in its various save-the-planet manifestations, simplicity people can look down their noses at the not-so-simple with their low-rent tastes while also putting them on the moral defensive. Thus you have Michael Pollan, whose zero-impact ethic of food simplicity won’t let him eat anything not grown within one hundred miles of his Bay Area home, and preferably grown (or killed, milked, churned, or picked) himself. He bristles with outrage not only at McDonald’s burgers, Doritos, and grapes imported from Chile (foreign fruit destroys people’s “sense of place,” he writes in The Omnivore’s Dilemma) but even at Walmart’s announcement in 2006 that it would start stocking organic products at affordable prices. Walmart, like factory farms, SUVs, wide-screen TVs, and outlet malls, is usually anathema to the simplicity set, but here you would think the giga-chain would be doing poor people a favor by widening their access to healthy, less-fattening produce. Not as far as Pollan is concerned. Instead, as Reason magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Ward reported, Pollan worried on his blog that “Walmart’s version of cheap, industrialized organic food” might drive the boutique farms that served him and his locavore neighbors out of business. …
The problem with the simplicity movement isn’t simply that you’ve got to be rich to live simply. In their 2007 book Plenty, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, who had vowed to spend a year sticking to the 100-mile locavore eating radius (and, as freelance writers, had plenty of time to put together meals that lived up to this promise), discovered that they were spending $11 per jar on honey to substitute for $2.59 sugar and that one of their locally foraged dinners cost them $130 and more than a day to prepare. …
The problem with the simplicity movement is that its proponents mistake simplicity, which is an aesthetic lifestyle choice, for humility, which is a genuine virtue.