Category Archive 'Yale Class of 1970'
23 Feb 2007

This Morning’s Rant on Global Warming (From My Class List)

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The liberal view of the universe

Liberals confuse a consensus of journalists, celebrities, and do-gooders, combined with activist science, with something meaningful. If they lived in the 1920s, they’d be championing eugenics. If they lived in the 1880s, they’d be worried about sex as a health threat and the rising tide of inferior races. These kinds of consensi are always wrong.

Sophisters, calculators, and economists have cooked up models and projections based on various kinds of data, but we really know perfectly well that mankind does not understand the typical duration and causes of climate cycles and periods of glaciation, and cannot accurately predict weather more than a week in advance.

The theory of Global Warming is ultimately based on nothing more than the unavailability, post-1980, of a continuing pattern of cooler weather. When it had been getting colder for a few years, the same kinds of authority were projecting a new Ice Age, brought about by mankind’s hubris in creating industrial civilization with attendant contamination of pristine Nature. The vital remedy was more taxes and greater regulatory restriction of American productivity and energy consumption. When temperature trends reversed, curiously enough, the causes and the cure remained exactly the same. The only change is that the media and the left went from agitating over Global Cooling to agitating over Global Warming without missing a beat, and essentially the same agitprop has simply increased in volume and alleged urgency for years.

What depresses me is the fact that Americans can emerge from 16+ years of education still capable of falling for this kind of ridiculous nonsense. To believe in Global Warming, I’d say, you have to be basically unconscious of the highly limited state of human knowledge of the earth’s past. We know that there were periods in which the planet’s climate was considerably cooler than at present, and we know that there were periods when it was considerably warmer. We do not have anything like exhaustive knowledge of the climate throughout earth’s geologic history. Nor do we now why periods of different climate occurred.

The rise of modern science of geology goes back roughly two lousy centuries. Continental drift, a fairly basic factor in geologic matters, was not even accepted before the 1960s, within many of our lifetimes. When that bozo on the evening news starts describing today’s temperature as an all-time record, what kind of records do you suppose he’s working with? Exactly how meaningful is anything of the sort? What can 20+ years of slightly warmer weather signify?

I attribute this lunacy to a combination of too much city living and Hollywood. There has been an endless stream of horror movies about Godzilla rising from Tokyo Bay, giant ants, mutated this, or catastrophic that, all attributable to the wickedness of mankind’s pursuit of material gratification. Today’s citified Americans all believe that they are the absolute center of the universe, and that the world and man’s position in it resembles the old New Yorker cartoon of the view from 9th Avenue. If I dropped all the liberals somewhere west of the Missouri and they had to walk out, their view of man’s centrality in the universe would be changed mightily.

25 Jan 2007

Liberals Call Iraq “a Disaster”

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One of my classmates today quoted veteran New Yorker political commentator Elizabeth Drew writing in the New York Review of Books:

Almost everyone in Washington understands, even if they don’t say it, that there is no real solution to what now seems to be the most disastrous foreign policy decision in American history. It’s now a matter of how to bring America’s involvement to an end with the fewest bad consequences. Despite all the studies and reports and amendments, events in Iraq itself will likely define the outcome.

US deaths in Iraq have amounted to 3064 over nearly four years.

Grant’s attack at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864, which cost the lives of 10,000 Union soldiers (from a population of 26 million) in twenty minutes was a disaster. The loss of three thousand citizens of a nation of 300 million, a country which loses 26,000 lives annually in traffic accidents, over the course of nearly four years is something very different from Cold Harbor.

Iraq has not been a military disaster. US forces have suffered no battlefield defeat. Our troops are not demoralized. And there is no possibility whatsoever of our enemies achieving victory by military means.

Their only hope for victory, for bringing about the disaster of US withdrawal which has not yet occurred, is via the cowardice, defeatism, and disloyalty of our own chattering class elite.

24 Jan 2007

Why the American Elite Cannot Fight a War — From the Y’70 List

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Another way of describing the problem with our contemporary elites would be to speak of excessive domestication. The modern elite world is preternaturally safe, materialistic and cooperative. Our educational system is designed to produce utterly non-violent, reliably subordinate and conforming persons skilled at the manipulation of words and symbols. Our intellectual system has become a variety of peculiar things, none of them serious. The academic world is, first of all, an elaborate baby-sitting and credentialing machine, which is allowed to operate as a wildlife refuge for cranks and mountebanks in charge of nothing more important than entertaining children. It is completely removed from reality. Education has become a perverse form of entertainment. Those who succeed best, like pop musicians, are the ones who strike the most colorful, bizarre, and hostile poses. The modern hyper-extended childhood of the elite represents the only opportunity future cogs will ever have to rebel, so rebellion is highly prized. But the rebellion is, of course, all in play. The revolution will always rise only to the level of putting Che Guevara on one’s t-shirt or dorm room wall, and following privileged and elite professors in demonstrating over the latest fashionable progressive cause, in ritualistically condemning one’s own society for failing to abolish history and reality, for failing to cause water to flow uphill.

A century ago, when England sent the youth of its urban clerical classes to fight the Boers, they were found generally to be unable to shoot a rifle, ride a horse, read a compass, make a fire, or survive in situations of deprivation in the out-of-doors. Baden-Powell created the Scouting Movement, and a host of late Victorians embraced “muscular Christianity,” in the hope of doing something to diminish the excessive impact of the domesticating impulses of modern urbanism and the modern bureaucratic corporate society. They obviously failed, disastrously.

08 Jan 2007

Casino Royale, From the Class of 1970 List

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Comments on Casino Royale, from the discussion on my Class list.

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Sean Connery was the wrong physical type, too large, too hirsute, and the wrong-eye color, but was such an agreeable actor to watch working that no one much minded
the transformation of Bond into a somewhat hulking Glaswegian Geordie.

The Bond films long ago lost any real relationship to the original character or the books, becoming instead a strange, spectacularly vulgar, and American (in the worst sense) thing all their own: extended exercises in elaborate special effects, supplying PG-level sex and violence accompanied by comforting repetitions (with new elaborations and surprises) of the same cliches.

I thought Daniel Craig was less two-dimensional than any previous Bond, but he is even further removed from the original character than even the braw Scots Sean Connery or the Las Vegas lounge lizard Roger Moore. Bond was, after all, a thoroughgoing U Englishman, an orphan from an artistic sort of background perhaps, with languages and Continental education, but still –underneath it all– a sound public school chap (even if he was sent down, a one biographer contends), a gentleman, and (as Marlow would say) “one of us.”

Daniel Craig is no gentleman at all, only a half-civilized, arriviste thug, straight out of London gangland, if not Borstal itself. His motivation to rise in the ranks of MI6 to the point of becoming that organization’s most conspicuous and short-lived species of cannon fodder seems perfectly mysterious.

I thought it very strange indeed to have the long-abandoned skeleton of the first Ian Fleming novel disinterred, and used with the most insolent anachronism imaginable, yet still more accurately used as the movie’s framework than any of the original novels have been used in forty years. How Ian Fleming would have howled, if he were alive, to see Baccarat replaced by Texas Hold ‘Em as the locus of Bond’s battle of wits and nerve with Le Chiffre. The destruction of Venice would surely have proved comforting though.

Le Chiffre was commendably cast.

Watching the film, I could not help reflect that there must be very, very few, some absolutely tiny number of people in the world, who are capable of designing and choreographing those amazing and elaborate chase and fight sequences. They certainly deserve their millions.

But it was depressing to see, fifty years on, just how much the world has grown stupider, shorter of attention span, less critical, and more vulgar. The hero of the mass audience is less the gentleman than ever, and James Bond is now played as what Britons would call a yobbo. I sometimes think that if we could live another century, we would see mankind reduced still further in grandeur and dignity, perhaps to some sort of quadruped.

09 Nov 2006

From My College Class List, 4

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A rejoinder from me to gloating democrats:

Bush was incompetent at PR. The GOP got infiltrated by garden variety pols posing as conservatives.

You guys control the MSM, and when that hurricane provided impressive visual images to hang the media’s propaganda on, they finally sucessfully nailed Bush, convincing the general public that the President had failed to employ his god/king powers to still the fury of the winds, make the waters recede, overcome spectacular local incompetence and corruption, and cause vehicles and airplanes to travel successfully instantly over flooded roads and through hurricane winds to the disaster site.

There was far too much Congressional inertia and scandal. The MSM lovingly counted up every US casualty day after day, and Al Qaeda agreeably timed a Fall offensive to capture Congress. The Republican Congress deserved to lose. But your side only won by filling up your candidate team with conservatives. This Congress lost. Conservatism did not lose. You guys elected a lot of abortion and gun control opponents. I’m not sure we don’t have a better chance of killing the death tax, and confirming right wing judges now than we did before.

True, Bush is now certainly a lame duck, and we have to fear a degringolade in Iraq, if the House moonbats kill military funding. But after that happens, the terrorist bombs will go off in cities, and then there will be fewer liberals. C’est la vie.

17 Oct 2006

The Sandbox

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It may seem a little strange that Yale 1970 classmate Garretson Beekman Trudeau, graduate of St. Paul’s (the alma mater of John Kerry) ’66, successful cartoonist, veteran only of the 1960’s Vietnam Peace Movement, and currently a vigorous opponent of the Bush Administration, has started his own milblog, open to postings from members of the armed forces currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But conspicuous public support of the troops is a consistent and studied policy on the part of the more sophisticated elements of the anti-war left. That particular maneuver allows them, when criticized for their antiwar activities, to say: “I’m patriotic. I’m not disloyal. I support our troops.” They’re only in favor of assuring the futility of all our troop’s efforts and sacrifices, the defeat of the United States, and the triumph of her adversaries.

The new military blog is part of Trudeau’s Slate site, which includes his well-known, currently humor-free and utterly tendentious leftwing cartoon, news, a debate forum, and a “Get Involved” bolshevik agitation site.

Despite its unwholesome associations, the new milblog has attracted some excellent contributions, and is definitely worth a read.

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 Ron706@aol.com, 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.

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UPDATE

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.

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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.
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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.

29 Sep 2006

From My College Class List, 3

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(In reply to the usual liberal complaints about my lack of sympathy for the poor in America:)

The poverty in America which liberals are always going on about is some kind of legendary myth, like the Loch Ness Monster. It has nothing to do with reality. Poverty in America exists occasionally as a temporary accident. (Or as a feature of merely being young and being a student. Students are always poor.) Those kinds of poverty can always be overcome with effort and persistence. There is plenty of opportunity in this country for those who will take it.

The other poverty, which does not go away, is really an epiphenomenon of a much more serious affliction. The real problem is a moral problem. Persistent poverty exists in America, not because of some unfairness in the system, or because of discrimination, or because of a lack of alternatives. It exists because some people will ruin their lives. Some people will not help themselves.

When I managed a real estate company in New York, I often walked through the East Village. I can recall passing the corner of 14th and 3rd Avenue, back in the 1980s one evening. As I looked around, I saw misery and squalor and degradation. There were prostitutes soliciting along the street. There were junkies and dealers trafficking. The buildings were filthy and decayed, and no one was lifting a finger to improve anything. I looked at it all, and thought what a hell on earth that corner was. And as I was feeling sorry for all the people there, along came a sixteen year old blond girl with a Midwestern accent to offer me a date. I could tell she had recently arrived from Minnesota.

And then the light bulb went off over my head, I realized that every single one of these people had come there from somewhere else. They had all chosen to be there. Nobody ever held a gun to their heads, and said, “You are condemned to be a junkie (or a whore) on 3rd Avenue at 14th Street.” There were no walls. There was no barbed wire. Everyone there could walk away, just as I was doing myself. And I stopped feeling sorry for them.

26 Sep 2006

From My College Class List, 2

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One of my liberal classmates cited that reptile John Dean’s new book Conservatives Without a Conscience. Dean repeats the ancient liberal wheeze of supposedly identifying conservatives as dangerous paranoids, in this case citing Robert Altemeyer:

“No question hovered at the front of my mind more, reading through Altemeyer’s studies of authoritarian behavior, that, why are right-wingers often malicious, mean-spirited, and disrespectful of even the basic codes of civility? While the radical left has had its episodes of boorishness, the right has taken these tactics to an
unprecedented level. Social science has discovered these forms of behavior can be rather easily explained as a form of aggression.

Altemeyer discovered that the aggression of right-wingers seems to be not merely instrumental-that is, expressed for some political purpose-but engaged in for the pure pleasure of it.. Torture is an extreme example, yet apparently authoritarians can find even that enjoyable, as the Abu Ghraib photos tragically illustrate. But on a more pedestrian level, he found it difficult for most right-wingers to talk about any subject about which they felt strongly without attacking others. Right-wing authoritarians, as we have seen, are motivated by their fear of a dangerous world, whereas social dominators have an ever-present desire to dominate. The factor that makes Right-wingers faster than most people to attack others, and that seems to keep them living in an ‘attack mode,’ is their remarkable self-righteousness. They are so sure they are not only right, but holy and pure, that they are bursting with indignation and a desire to smite down their enemies, Altemeyer explained.

To which, I replied:

Authoritarian, baloney. More idiotic left-wing self-abuse consisting of the application of paranoid moonbat fantasy to domestic political opponents. If George W. Bush had a turban and beard, lived overseas, and was actively conspiring to blow you to Kingdom Come, you’d be telling us how he has legitimate grievances, is too commonly misunderstood, amd must above all be conciliated.

The current conflict is between responsible adults who believe in taking steps to protect the population of the United States from terrorist attacks on mass population centers, and a pathetic collection of opportunistic pols, old lady do-gooders, head-in-the-clouds moralizers, Utopian pacifists, sissies, and the perennially in-protest.

Torture? The list of alleged coercive techniques runs from keeping bad guys awake and making them stand in the corner to a few slaps. If those things are torture, just about all of us have been tortured. Circumstances have more than once caused me to stay awake for days. Children were commonly punished in my day by being forced to stand for uncomfortably long intervals. And even I have been slapped around a few times. More than once, in my boyhood, older and stronger and more numerous villains pinioned my arms, and slapped my face back and forth, attempting to persuade me to submit formally. It wasn’t so terrible being slapped in the face as all that, and I found it entirely possible to continue to resist.

The only technique actually provoking alarm is waterboarding, which seems alarming only in terms of its “rosy-fingered dawn” invariably-quoted description: “The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.”

I was thinking about this recently, and I began to wonder. It certainly sounds disagreeable to be tied to a board with one’s head lower than one’s feet. Obviously no one wants cellophane wrapped around one’s face. But if it is wrapped around one’s face, why does water poured over your head, which you don’t feel on your skin anyway, make you gag? What if you resolve not to gag? What if you do yoga breath-control? How do you breathe with the cellophane anyway? I don’t know how accurate that description really is. Perhaps water-boarding is not entirely everything it’s cracked up to be.

But supposing it is really awful, just like drowning, to be water-boarded? They waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who sawed off the American journalist Daniel Pearl’s head with a knife. I saw the video. Pearl screamed as the sawing commenced. I’m not easily perturbed, but that video gave me bad dreams. Frankly, I think waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammad would only represent at best a good start.

WARNING

Do not dowload and watch this video, unless you feel you must know the worst about the crimes of our adversaries. It is unspeakably ugly and horrifying. Avoid this, if you possibly can. This is absolutely not something women or young people should see.

The video of the murder of Daniel Pearl can be found here.

15 Sep 2006

From My College Class List, 1

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A lot of blogs have their origin in other blogs. My understanding is that Gates of Vienna is the progeny of Belmont Club. YARGB is the offspring of Roger L. Simon. This blog is really the offspring of political arguments on my college class listserv (which you can’t get, unless you were in my original college class). I still waste my time arguing over there, and I thought I might import some of my arguments.

A college professor classmate of mine opined today:

Osama is winning. I don’t know how to make it plainer. He’s winning not because there are Democrats in Congress but because the policy executed by the Bush administration has produced adverse results.

I replied indignantly (more or less – some editing is being done for more formal publication):

If one applied the principles of the liberals historically, the USA must have lost every war in history, since any action on our part always angered the enemy and provoked him to resist. Our acting at all always proved a blunder which merely confirmed his worst opinion of us, and inspired new enemies to rally to his side. Every wild Indian, every British redcoat, every Southern rebel, every Philippine Insurrectionary, and every Prussian grenadier we killed always inspired revenge, and caused two more volunteers to join the ranks of our opponents. We repeatedly made the mistake of invading the territories of our enemies, thus inevitably recruiting even more allies to their side. American excesses, like Sullivan’s Raid on the Iroquois homeland, Sherman’s March to Sea, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, always hardened the enemy’s resolve and ensured our inevitable defeat. And that’s why we’re all weaving Iroquois baskets, being ruled by the British Parliament, and lamenting the loss of the Southern Confederacy, while we struggle to learn better Japanese in order to converse with our conquerors.

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