Category Archive 'Yale'
20 Nov 2020

Sustainability at Yale is Bloody Expensive

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I get press release emails from Mother Yale pretty much every day.

This morning in came a triumphant notice boasting that Yale, this year for the first time, earned a gold rating via STARS, The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, “a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance”.

Now “Sustainability” is one of those major shibboleths constituting obsessions and the foci of ersatz-religious devotion for the contemporary elite community of fashion.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Sustainability is a superstition, based essentially on the fallacious theory of Malthusianism, which contended that an ever-expanding human population would inevitable out-grow the food supply and other essential resources.

We have all lived through decades of constant media propaganda about the imminent apocalyptic crisis produced by excess population, peak oil, exhaustion of availability of this or that, despite Norman Borlaug, Fracking, and (most hilariously) the Simon-Erlich Wager. No evidence, no factual refutation will ever suffice to dispel this nonsense.

As Oil Company Executive Don Huberts observed in 1999: “The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones.”

The ability of human ingenuity to innovate and create new solutions and to multiply existing resources is consistently and reliably wildly underestimated by our Grand Establishment Pseudo-Intelligentsia.

I think their real underlying motivation is a religious one. The elite community of fashion has long since abandoned Judeo-Christianity, but its members still are afflicted by guilt and a profound sense of their own unworthiness of the privilege and prosperity they enjoy. They subconsciously feel a need to propitiate some higher power. They yearn to find some way to sacrifice and flagellate themselves and hanker to perform some kind, any kind of penitential acts.

Thus, Gaia has replaced the Puritan Jehovah. So the Yale Administration, for instance, confirms its own membership among the Elect by gravely immolating large sums of cash and by public testimony.

It’s all really the recrudescence of the ancient Manichaean heresy: there is this wonderful, good, natural stuff over here, and there is this awful, naughty, intrisically violative stuff over there. The former is the natural world, and the latter is anything man-made, anything and everything connected to human economic activity.

There is also an imaginary past or current state constituting the only perfect and legitimate set of conditions. Any change or modification of this alleged ideal represents a disaster, a crime, and a tragedy. If some obscure mugwort, insect, or rodent happens to go extinct, mankind is to blame, and no possible expense or inconvenience can be spared to preserve every single species and subspecies, and they’ve got the taxonomists ready to promote any subspecies to species status.

Yale, of course, is fully committed to the good fight. Yale has even built its own shrine to Gaia, Kroon Hall, a $33.5 million dollar Rube Goldberg exercise in spending several thousand dollars to save a nickel, in deploying top-level expertise and engineering to find dazzlingly innovative work arounds for trivial items available at any Ace Hardware Store.

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Sustainability, Mr. Salovey? How’s this for your Sustainability?

Yale College
2020–2021 Tuition and Fees

Tuition $57,700
Room $9,750
Board $7,450
TOTAL $74,900

Yale Health Hospitalization & Specialty Care Insurance $2,548
Student Activities Fee $50

Total: $77,498

When I arrived at Yale in September of 1966, the total cost was $3000 a year.

Why does the cost of attending Yale rise so much more rapidly than the rate of inflation? It probably has a great deal to do with the proliferation of special imaginary problem/bad idea offices filled with administrators burning incense in front of false idols.

Yale “Sustainability” Office has no less than eight left-wing academic bureaucrats disseminating nonsense, perpetually grasping at unwarranted powers (“Ask me about” World Governance”), and wallowing in undeserved prestige. And this ridiculous and nonsensical office has been operating, and wasting pots full of money, for fifteen years!

Just imagine how many similar Offices of Empty Superstition and/or Terrible Ideas are cluttering up the landscape all over Yale’s campus.

There is undoubtedly a well-staffed Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Yale, devoted to pandering to Snowflakes of Color’s amour propre and enforcing political correctness.

26 Oct 2020

“None of That Damned Nonsense About Merit”

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David Swenson.

Back in the 1830s, Lord Melbourne declared he liked the Order of the Garter best of all his titles because there was “none of that damned nonsense about merit” connected to it.

The elite community of fashion’s current enthusiasm for what is referred to as “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion” has a basic similarity to Lord Melbourne’s perspective, except his merit-free inclusion in the Garter Order was based on a supposed inherited excellence, while the Identity Groups singled out for special treatment under DEI base their claims to special privilege upon ressentiment.

David Swenson has a long record of achieving superior returns by his management of Yale’s endowment. Apparently, he now has decided either that other goals are more important or that anyone can achieve the same.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

America’s most prominent endowment chief has a message for the firms that manage the school’s money: Hire more women and minorities, or possibly lose the university’s backing.

David Swensen is the veteran investment chief of Yale University’s $31.2 billion endowment. Earlier this month, he told the dozens of firms that manage Yale’s money they would be measured on their progress increasing the diversity of their investment staffs. Mr. Swensen said the Yale Investments Office would be working to improve its own team’s composition, too.

RTWT

It is hilarious the way people like this talk about Meritocracy, but their idea of Meritocracy has a heavy thumb on the scale in several class cases.

The old-time Jewish quota (which I strongly suspect still exists) is denounced, but the Asian quota is defended vigorously in court. Certain groups absolutely must be awarded super-proportional representation, at any cost, on the basis of historical disadvantage. But, other outsider groups, Appalachians and working class ethnic Catholics, for instance, also conspicuously historically little represented in Ivy League admissions and in elite financial circles are completely overlooked, simply due to their failure to agitate and complain. The hypocrisy and irrationality is astonishing.

23 Oct 2020

Uh, Oh! Here Comes Something Really Stupid

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Peter Salovey, God help us! President of Yale. My dog would do a better job.

When Yale President Peter Salovey intends to make a grandiose concession to the small minority of radical student demonstrators, he first protects himself from reproach by forming an “expert committee” to develop applicable principles to be applied to the issue in question.

Salovey’s cherry-picked committee, of course, will be composed of ultra-liberal profs specifically ideologically-committed to the intended radical course Salovey intends to pursue.

A few years ago, the goal was renaming Calhoun College. This time, Yale is going to bow to student activist demands to use its investment program to make political statements stigmatizing fossil fuels.

Yesterday, Yale issued the following pretentious claptrap initiating the whole ridiculous sham process.

Yale University has formed an expert committee to guide the university as it evaluates its investment policies in relation to companies producing fossil fuels, President Peter Salovey announced Oct. 22.

The new committee is charged with recommending a set of principles that will inform Yale’s Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility (CCIR) as it applies the university’s ethical investment policy to fossil fuel companies. The CCIR works in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR).

The new committee, which will collect input from the Yale community, will begin its work immediately and will deliver the report during the Spring 2021 semester.

After a Feb. 20, 2019, Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Senate meeting on fossil fuels divestment, the FAS Senate proposed that the president appoint a committee to reexamine ethical investing at Yale with respect to companies that extract or produce fossil fuels.

In Salovey’s charge to the Committee on Fossil Fuel Investment Principles (CFFIP), he noted that the changes necessary to avert an irreversible climate catastrophe “cannot be implemented overnight, and depend not only on scientific advancement but also [on] significant political, economic, and personal contributions.”

“Nonetheless,” he continued, “climate change poses an existential threat to life on our planet, and we have a responsibility to examine whether our investment policies are appropriate or need to be modified with respect to this challenge.”

In 2014, Yale, acting in its role as an institutional investor, asked its external investment managers to incorporate the full cost of carbon emissions in investment decisions. At the time, managers were told to avoid investing in companies that disregard the social and financial costs of climate change and that fail to take economically reasonable steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Without diminishing the significance of these [past] efforts, I am fully aware that the alarm bells are growing louder, as scientific projections worsen, natural disasters intensify, and governments are slow to develop and implement effective policies,” Salovey wrote in the committee charge.

Salovey said the new committee will produce a “concrete framework” for applying to fossil fuel producers the guidelines set forth in “The Ethical Investor,” Yale professor John Simon’s highly influential 1972 book. That book established general criteria for universities to consider factors beyond economic return when making investment decisions and exercising rights as a shareholder.

The committee will identify the activities, behaviors, and/or characteristics of fossil fuel producers that would constitute “social injury” of such grave character that divestment could be warranted.

“The formation of this committee demonstrates significant concern at the highest level of the university about climate change and a commitment to act proactively,” said CFFIP chair Jonathan R. Macey, the Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance and Securities Law at Yale Law School. “Our principles for making decisions related to divestment should reflect changing circumstances and the lack of decisive action by entities such as governments that we might normally rely upon for coordinating the nation’s response to existential threats like global warming.”

The committee will include experts drawn from the Yale faculty, and may also consult with other experts in relevant fields. Its members, in addition to Macey, are Ruth Blake, professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences; Benjamin Polak, William C. Brainard Professor of Economics, School of Management, Department of Economics; Mary-Louise Timmermans, professor and director of undergraduate studies, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences; Xinchen Wang ’09, director, Yale Investments Office.

The committee additionally will seek input from the wider Yale community.

RTWT

Talk about the culture rotting from the top down.

20 Oct 2020

Affirmative Portraiture

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Asher Liftin ’21 admiring the new portrait of Edward Bouchet, Y’ 1874.

If you were born white, in order to have your portrait painted and hung in one of Yale’s residential colleges, you would need to have been an exceptionally important and renowned scholar who had made major contributions to his field.

If you were African-American, the standard is just a little easier. All you have to have done is be supposedly the first representative of your identity group to attend Yale.

Yale News piously propagandizes:

[A] committee established by Head of [Saybrook] College Thomas Near … recommended commissioning Bouchet’s portrait. Near, the students, and some of their fellow residents in Saybrook College had been having conversations about how to more fully represent Yale’s history in the dining hall.

“In the very Gothic space, we have a collection of portraits that were loaned from the Yale University Art Gallery in 1933 when the college opened,” said Near. “We also have a set of what I call ‘family portraits’ — those who served Saybrook as the heads and deans of the college and their spouses. All of the people pictured are white, which is not representative of Yale’s true history.”

The addition of the Bouchet portrait is just the start of bringing “the narratives of people who have for too long been ignored, overlooked, and marginalized, to come to the surface” to campus spaces, Near said at the unveiling. “In North America there is no history that is not Black history, and this is absolutely true for the history of Yale.”

Edward Bouchet is very probably the only Yale alumnus with merely a pedestrian career as a high school teacher to be so honored.

Unfortunately, on top of everything else, the powers that be at Yale, and at Saybrook College, are just plain wrong. Edward Bouchet, Class of 1874, was not the first student of color to graduate from Yale. That distinction belongs to Confederate Brigadier General, later Congressman and Senator from Louisiana, Randall Lee Gibson, valedictorian of the Yale Class of 1853.

15 Oct 2020

Yale’s New Nine-Point Plan to Make Snowflakes Feel at Home

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Yesterday, Yale President Peter Salovey announced nine actions “to enhance diversity, promote equity on campus, and foster an environment in which all community members feel welcome, included, and respected,” causing rational alumni, en masse, to go and throw up in the street.

If you want to read a really choice example of vacuous and pretentious academic blather, go and check out:

Recommendations of the President’s Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Dollar quote: “Yale can and must improve in how it creates a climate where all feel safe and valued.”

The mind boggles. Snowflakes don’t feel “safe and valued” at Yale, surrounded by all that opulent and luxurious architecture; their needs attended to by an immense staff of servants; with access to the tutelage of world-ranked scholars, one of the top research libraries, as well as the nation’s finest recreational facilities; their future paths to wealth, power, success, and fame stretching shining before them? What more could it possibly take?

A friend of mine used to remark that “Life after Yale is a constant struggle to live as well as you did as an undergraduate.”

Outsiders at Yale, sons of working class families, those of us of non-New England blue-blood Protestant descent, used to consider ourselves truly blessed to be permitted to attend Yale, to share in a different people’s and a different class’s ancient and illustrious tradition, and to obtain thereby potential entry into membership in the national elite.

Today’s outsiders expect not only admission. They expect to revise the identity and character of the university. They demand faculty and administrators and academic departments of their own. They want the university’s, the nation’s, and the world’s history censored and revised to flatter their own amour propre and to punish historical figures they’ve decided, on the basis of their slender knowledge, are their enemies. They expect to move in, replace the furniture, remodel the house, and change the address.

In today’s America, alas! the national establishment elite has so declined in character and intelligence that its members routinely manifest guilt and a consciousness of their own unworthiness. They are only too eager to grovel, abase themselves, and surrender to the insolent and irrational demands of a deluded radical fringe, addled and intoxicated with a pernicious ideology hostile to Civilization, America, and Yale itself. The people entrusted with custodianship of the Culture and the Canon are classic examples of C.S. Lewis’s “Men Without Chests,” who care for nothing, who believe in nothing beyond personal advancement and the sweet smell of success, and who will reliably pay homage to the latest emotional upheaval afflicting the national community of fashion. Men like Peter Salovey are incapable of conserving anything, of defending anything.

10 Sep 2020

Elliott Brause 1937-2020

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Quality Wine, just to the left of Cutler’s. 1970s or 1980s photo with Broadway under construction.

A Yale friend forwarded today the New Haven Independent obituary for Elliot Brause, the genial owner of the long-time Yale community institution Quality Wine Store.

I know a good bit about wine, and I was recently reflecting just how much I learned, back in my student days, from Elliot’s selections. Really, I found myself ruefully noting, when you come right down to it, I’ve never known a better, more knowledgeable, more discerning, and more sophisticated wine merchant.

Kermit Lynch is pretty darn good, but he operates at a much more Olympian price level than Elliott used to, and Kermit (the toad!) won’t ship to Pennsylvania. There are, of course, good wine stores in New York City, but… again, for them, too, price is no particular object.

Elliott knew his audience and recognized that Yale undergraduates had lean purses and he skillfully filled his shelves with amazing bargains. Back then, German Rieslings were just as out of fashion as they are today, and Elliott made a point of laying in superb vintages of Qualitätsweins mit Prädikat with Spatleses and Ausleses offered for peanuts. I used to drink Schloss Eltz routinely, it was so cheap.

Even less expensive were hocks from the less prestigious Rheinpfalz region. Their prices were derisive.

It was from Elliott that I and my friends developed the habit of drinking May Wine, flavored with Woodruff (the Waldmeister) and strawberries in the Spring.

I remember, too, a particular “Quinta de Something” Port Vintage of 1940, which cost something like a piddling $7.50 a bottle back in the early 1970s. It was ambrosial.

I wish I could shop at Quality Wine today.

It was always a pleasure to do business with Elliott. He was cordial and avuncular and surrounded always by his enthusiastic corgis. If you were short of cash, Elliott would have no problem taking a check for $10 or $20 dollars over your purchase. He was essentially a member of the family and Quality Wine was a key and basic institution of Yale student life.

All that, of course, cut no mustard with the reptiles and invertebrates who operate the Yale Administration. When the greasy pols in Hartford raised back the drinking age to 21, Yale didn’t like its underclassmen having such convenient access to wine. And, in later years, Yale began making a point of micromanaging its retail rentals so as to grind out every minimal iota of higher income and status advantage.

A key part of Yale’s new strategy required wiping out all the old-time cherished and familiar retail institutions and replacing them with upmarket, high prestige, international brands whose shops would be required to remain open until 10 PM to help deter the street crime Yale had inadvertently invited via its own liberal politics.

An old news story, describes the fatal moment.

Yale’s Vice President for New Haven Affairs Bruce Alexander… gives us [the rationale behind] the act Yale has performed upon Broadway. From the article:

“Alexander said he was walking on York Street near Broadway and noticing litter and storefronts such as barbershops and liquor stores. Since Yalies went through the area on their way to the Yale Co-op, he thought it needed an upgrade.”

Yalies, you see, did not need haircuts, used books (from Whitlock’s), music (from Cutler’s), or wine (from Elliot Brause). They needed Patagonia, J. Crew, Urban Outfiteers, and Apple.

So perished our beloved Quality Wine. Elliott gracefully retired. He is remembered with affection by all who knew him.

22 Jun 2020

Rod Dreher is an Idiot

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According to Rod Dreher: “Statue of Elihu Yale December 31, 2009”.

Writing at (the frequently misnamed) American Conservative, Rod Dreher says:

Ann Coulter is pushing a brilliant campaign to compel Yale University to change its name:

    How about a bill withholding all federal funds from Yale University until it changes its name? The school’s namesake, Elihu Yale, was not only a slave owner, but a slave trader.

    Quite a dilemma for the little snots who attend and teach there! It will be tremendously damaging to their brand. After all, true sublimity for a Social Justice Warrior is virtue signaling and advertising their high SAT scores at the same time.

Elihu Yale was certainly that: a slave trader, and a cruel man. Yale University bears his name because he was an early benefactor of the school.

Yale changed the name of Calhoun College in 2017, because its namesake, 19th century Yale alumnus John C. Calhoun, was pro-slavery. So why is Yale not jettisoning its name? Why the hypocrisy?

The answer, of course, is that “Yale” is a global brand of almost matchless prestige. In terms of branding — which is not the same as quality — Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge are among its only competitors. To surrender “Yale” would be a severe blow to the value of a Yale diploma, precisely because of the sense of elite identity Yale has accrued over the centuries.

So, how serious do the leftist Yalies — alumni, faculty, administrators, and students — take their moral commitment? They are very happy to strip other people of their problematic historical identities, in the name of moral purity. How do they justify not applying the same standards to themselves?

Surely it cannot be the case that they want other people to pay a price for historical identity, but don’t want to pay it themselves. Yale was founded as the “Collegiate School,” before changing its name to Yale in honor of a major donor. Why not switch back to Collegiate School? The answer is that to do that would be like Marilyn Monroe at the height of her fame choosing to revert to her birth name, Norma Jeane Baker. Not quite the same thing, is it?

The irony of changing the name of Calhoun College while retaining the name of the college’s early benefactor was noted originally by Roger Kimball.

Maybe they will rename Yale. I would put nothing past them.

The statue on the Old Campus (above) is not Elihu Yale. Wrong by centuries, Rod. It’s Theodore Dwight Woolsey (1801 – 1889), Philosophy professor and President of Yale College from 1846 through 1871.

And how could anyone possibly know that Elihu Yale was “a cruel man”? He might have been a complete pussycat.

16 May 2020

Therapeutic Yale

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Mediation room with sand box at Yale’s “Good Life Center”

Back in my day, Yale’s colleges had squash courts, pool rooms, wood shops, and not uncommonly print shops in which undergraduates could produce hand-printed limited edition books. Today’s Yalies go to therapy and play in sand boxes.

City Journal:

Before the coronavirus pandemic, before shelter-in-place orders, there was the campus safe space. Students claimed that they needed protection from perceived threats to their emotional well-being. College administrators were only too happy to comply, building up a vast edifice of services to respond to students’ alleged emotional trauma. Last year, Yale University created a safe space that will set the industry standard for years to come. Call it the college woke spa, though its official title is the Good Life Center. Featuring a sandbox, essential oils, massage, and mental-health workshops, the center unites the most powerful forces in higher education today: the feminization of the university, therapeutic culture, identity politics, and the vast student-services bureaucracy. While other colleges may not yet have created as richly endowed a therapeutic space as the Good Life Center, they’re all being transformed by the currents that gave it birth, currents visible even in the reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.

“I don’t know anyone [at Yale] who hasn’t had therapy. It’s a big culture on campus,” says a rosy-cheeked undergraduate in a pink sweatshirt. She is nestled in a couch in the subsidized coffee shop adjacent to Yale’s Good Life Center, where students can sip sustainably sourced espresso and $3 tea lattes. “Ninety percent of the people I know have at least tried.” For every 20 of her friends, this sophomore estimates, four have bipolar disorder—as does she, she says.

Another young woman scanning her computer at a sunlit table in the café says that all her friends “struggle with mental health here. We talk a lot about therapy approaches to improve our mental health versus how much is out of your control, like hormonal imbalances.” Yale’s dorm counselors readily refer freshmen to treatment, she says, because most have been in treatment themselves. Indeed, they are selected because they have had an “adversity experience” at Yale, she asserts.

Such voices represent what is universally deemed a mental-health crisis on college campuses. More than one in three students report having a mental-health disorder. Student use of therapy nationally rose almost 40 percent from 2009 to 2015, while enrollment increased by only 5 percent, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. At smaller colleges, 40 percent or more of the student body has gone for treatment; at Yale, over 50 percent of undergraduates seek therapy.

Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos created the Good Life Center in response to this alleged mental-health crisis. She had just taught what is billed as the most popular course in Yale’s history: “Psychology and the Good Life,” which aimed to arm students with “scientifically validated” techniques for overcoming emotional distress and “living a more satisfying life.” The course presented the findings of positive psychology, a recent subfield that examines what makes humans happy, rather than what makes them miserable. “Psychology and the Good Life” was not just a disinterested overview, however; it was a semester-long exercise in self-help. Students were assigned better mental-health practices—getting more sleep one week, exercising a few minutes a day another; meditating during the next week, keeping a gratitude journal the following week. For the final exam, students designed their own personalized self-help: the “Hack Yo’Self Project.”

The course’s target audience was, by its own account, in desperate need of emotional rescue. “A lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” a female freshman told the New York Times. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions—both positive and negative—so they can focus on their work, the next step, the next accomplishment.” The size of the turnout itself was therapeutic: “Being able to see that an entire giant concert hall full of people is struggling alongside you is huge,” another student told the Yale Daily News. Apparently, being a Yale student was a massive burden—something that would have astounded Yale’s legendary teachers, such as art historian Vincent Scully and literary critic Harold Bloom, who conveyed to students the excitement they should feel before the lure of beauty and knowledge.

The questions of what leads to happiness and how we should conduct our lives have deep philosophical roots in the West, stretching back to the pre-Socratics. The Stoics and Epicureans sought to inculcate in their followers a mental outlook that would steel them against fate and the fear of death. Only a virtuous life, growing out of settled habits of character, the ancients counseled, led to happiness. Aristotle posited that the use of reason to attain truth would bring fulfillment, since reason was man’s highest faculty and truth was the telos of human existence.

The syllabus for “Psychology and the Good Life” contained no hint of this rich tradition. Instead, it was relentlessly presentist, consisting of online TED talks, news articles on positive psychology, lecture videos from other psychology courses, short research papers, and chapters from recent nonfiction books, like Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s Nudge. The final recommended reading was Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go. To get students “pumped” for each lecture, Santos played the Black-Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” (“I gotta feeling, that tonight, that tonight / That tonight’s gonna be a good, good, good, good, good / Good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good”). Plato’s Symposium this wasn’t.

Nearly a quarter of Yale’s undergraduates signed up for “Psychology and the Good Life,” whose popularity may have been boosted by rumors of undemanding grading expectations. Courses that met at the same time experienced a sharp drop in enrollment. A decision was taken not to reoffer the “Good Life” course. As it happened, however, Santos had precious real estate at her disposal, since she leads Silliman College, one of Yale’s 14 undergraduate residential communities. So she converted four rooms at the top of a landing in Silliman into the Good Life Center, to “promote a campus culture that values wellness as a community responsibility,” as the center’s mission statement reads. Or, in less bureaucratic terms, to “spread good vibes,” as the GLC website puts it. …

Here, in a nutshell, is the essence of the college woke spa: an aesthetic and worldview built predominantly around what have been largely female interests, concerns, and fears. The GLC’s self-esteem bromides, the self-compassion ethic, the yoga and mindfulness sessions—all would be at home in a Beverly Hills “healing space,” where trophy wives can “center themselves in an atmosphere of calm.” A visitor keeps expecting to encounter crystals and star charts. …

Underneath the essential oils and yoga mats, the woke spa mental-wellness crusade is accomplishing an even more profound transformation of university life. The assumption that emotional threat and danger lie just beyond the spa is the product of an increasingly female-dominated student body, faculty, and administration. That assumption is undermining traditional academic values of rational discourse, argumentation, and free speech.

RTWT and weep.

23 Apr 2020

The Legendary Peter Beard

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A particularly famous photograph by Peter Beard (characteristically individualized) shows Beard writing in his journal from inside the jaws (of a freshly deceased) crocodile. Apparently, there was a price for the photo. The croc went into rigor mortis, its jaws tightened and the camp servants had a lot of difficulty getting the suffering Beard out from between the now painfully clamped jaws.

From the lack of comments on the previous postings about Peter Beard, I take it that many readers are unacquainted with the works and colorful career of that illustrious writer, photographer, adventurer, and womanizer. I figured I ought to do something about that.

When I was an undergraduate at Yale, in my residential college (Berkeley), there was a strikingly handsome upperclassman who had a considerable physical resemblance to Peter Beard (Silliman ’61). This fellow had parked outside the college on Elm Street a new bright red Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider, which he had received as a gift from a female admirer. While most of us worked summers on Construction or other disagreeable jobs, this particular escapee from Valhalla raised his annual Yale tuition by working as a gigolo on the French Riviera. He was always happy to tell the rest of us all about it, and he always suggested firmly that we really ought to go and do likewise. Of course, just ask yourself: how many undergraduate males look like Peter Beard?

In Outside, Roger Pinckney XI, gave Peter Beard a proper send-off.

Peter Beard was a hard man to peg. A photographer of wildlife and beautiful women, a writer, an ethnologist, explorer, hunter, naturalist, conservationist, ladies man, married man, wise man. Good work if you can get it. But if you’ve ever seen the video of him being trampled by an elephant, you might want to add “fool” to that considerable list. But however you cut it, you’ll run dry of adjectives long before you ever had Peter Beard nailed down.

RTWT

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A 1996 article in Vanity Fair by Leslie Bennetts may be the fullest collection of “Half Tarzan, Half Byron” stories.

Last summer, he and his Danish girlfriend were out in Montauk, where Beard owns the last house on Montauk Point. “Peter’s girlfriend started ragging him about all his bad habits,” Tunney recalls. “She’s this strong Danish chick with a spandex suit on, and she said, ‘Peter, you smoke, you drink, you drug, you stay up all night—and you’re almost 60 years old! You need to start taking care of yourself. You should go running, like me—five miles a day!’ ”

So Beard, wearing his usual dusty African sandals, obligingly accompanied her on a run. Tunney expected him to last about five minutes. “An hour later, the girlfriend comes back, dripping,” Tunney reports. “I said, ‘Where’s Peter?’ ”

“He loved it,” she gasped. “He said he just wanted to keep going.”

RTWT

09 Apr 2020

1954: Life Magazine Tribute to J. Press

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In 1954 Life Magazine dubbed J. Press in New Haven the birthplace of the “Ivy League Look.”

“The Ivy Look Heads Across U.S.” the magazine proclaimed in an anthropological examination of the natural-shouldered suit and its sartorial brethren. They sent photographer Nina Leen to J. Press in New Haven, dubbing it the birthplace of the “Ivy League Look” when it opened back in 1902, to see the original in action outfitting Yale men. There she located the founder’s sons, Irving (Yale ’26) and Paul Press presiding soberly over the premises.

We are always hearing about the Jewish quota at Ivy League schools, but … the actual extent of the absolutely vital and integral contribution of Jewish Americans of recent immigrant background ought to be reflected upon in the light of the fact that all the great men’s clothiers in New Haven serving the Yale community, who created the national Ivy League style, Rosenberg’s, White’s, Gamer’s, J. Press, and Barrie Ltd (for footwear) were Jewish owned and operated. It wasn’t the WASPs who invented the Ivy League style. It was their Jewish classmates from Yale who, after graduation, became their preferred source of men’s fashion.

26 Feb 2020

Digby Dent on What’s Happened to Poor Vermont

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Glancing through the morning’s potential blog fodder, I found a Spectator piece on The Evolution of Vermont. The hijacking of that once-paradigmatic flinty conservative, rock-ribbed Republican state by goat-milking hippies and trust-fund bolsheviks is, to my mind, one of the true tragedies of our time. Seeing Ethan Allen and Calvin Coolidge replaced today by a crazy ranting Communist makes my blood boil.

The Spectator piece turned out to be a tongue-in-cheek philosophical reflection on the same theme by an imaginary old school WASP commentator from the Yale Class of ’89 named “Digby Dent.”

“Digby Dent” is the pseudonymous author of a more-or-less-monthly Wasp Life column, whose nom-de-plume is borrowed from the membership of a dynasty of two British admirals of the 18th Century. The current, quite talented Digby Dent turns out to be one Marlo Safi, a conservative Eastern-rite Catholic writer of Syrian extraction and graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.

The Digby Dent series links at the Spectator include only four columns going back to last November, but I found them all worth a read.

Getting back to Digby on Vermont:

I’ve wintered here all my life and during that time Vermont has, like old Digby’s marital status, seen three permutations. In my boyhood, it was a poor but charming backwater, chockablock with flinty, taciturn Yankees. By bright college years, hippies were making goat-milk ice cream and the cities were run by sex maniacs and communists. Now, Vermont’s resorts are as gauche as Saddam’s bathrooms, half the tourists don’t ski and one of the sex-maniac communists aspires to lead the free world.

The permanent things endure, of course. The Green Mountains are still beautiful and I’m told they still work them like dogs at the Putney School. Still, I have my doubts. Vermont has never been much for schools and still isn’t; consistency, I suppose. But you can’t have a student kicked by a mule in the Y of Our L 2020. The damn lawyers won’t have it.

Even the skiing has changed. Last year we got the best snow in ages, but the season is indisputably shrinking. Whatever the causes, and I won’t pretend to know a damned thing about them, the climate is changing. As a devoted conservationist, I’ve done my part. The four-door I keep at my summer cottage carries a ‘Preserve the Sound’ plate. …

When I strode through Phelps Gate and onto the Street in ’89, I was full of vim and vigor, with big, bold plans to bend the world of junk bonds to my will. Those went the way of my waistline and slackened over time. That’s why God invented pleated pants.

As the gal pal clears away lunch and I watch the sun set over the woods, I think about … about my marriages, my career and all the vaporous dreams of youth, these last evanescent as a retreating shoreline. The world will be fine long after we’re gone.

RTWT


“Digby Dent” aka Marlo Safi.

20 Feb 2020

He’s Right: Yale Caved

, , ,

Rod Dreher notes that, within many of our most elite institutions, like Yale, the fanatical revolutionary Left has already won.

Last year, I spoke to a Soviet-born scholar who teaches in an American public university. I’m using a quote from our discussion in my forthcoming (September) book, Live Not By Lies. This morning, she sent me this e-mail, which I reproduce here with her permission:

    I know from your blog that the work on your new book is going well and I’m glad because, boy, it’s so needed. I’m observing some disturbing developments on my campus, and we are really not one of those wokester schools for spoiled brats one normally associates with this kind of thing.

    This academic year I’ve had an opportunity to work with some early-career academics. These are newly-minted PhDs that are in their first year on the tenure-track. What’s really scary is that they sincerely believe all the woke dogma. Older people – those in their forties, fifties or sixties – might parrot the woke mantras because it’s what everybody in academia does and you have to survive. But the younger generation actually believes it all. Transwomen are women, black students fail calculus because there are no calc profs who “look like them,” ‘whiteness’ is the most oppressive thing in the world, the US is the most evil country in history, anybody who votes Republican is a racist, everybody who goes to church is a bigot but the hijab is deeply liberating. I gently mocked some of this stuff (like we normally do among older academics), and two of the younger academics in the group I supervise actually cried. Because they believe all this so deeply, and I’d even say fanatically, that they couldn’t comprehend why I wasn’t taking it seriously.

    The fanatical glimmer in their eyes really scared me.

    Back in the USSR in the 1970s and the 1980s nobody believed the dogma. People repeated the ideological mantras for cynical reasons, to get advanced in their careers or get food packages. Many did it to protect their kids. But nobody sincerely believed. That is what ultimately saved us. As soon as the regime weakened a bit, it was doomed because there were no sincere believers any more. Everybody who did take the dogma seriously belonged to the generation of my great-grandparents.

    In the US, though, the generation of the fanatical believers is only now growing up and coming into its prime. We’ll have to wait until their grandkids grow up to see a generation that will be so fed up with the dogma that it will embrace freedom of thought and expression. But that’s a long way away in the future.

    I’m mentoring a group of young scholars in the Humanities to help them do research, and I’m starting to hate this task. Young scholars almost without exception think that scholarship is entirely about repeating woke slogans completely uncritically. Again, this is different from the USSR where scholars peppered their writing with the slogans but always took great pride in trying to sneak in some real thinking and real analysis behind the required ideological drivel. Every Soviet scholar starting from the 1970s was a dissident at heart because everybody knew that the ideology was rotten.

    All of this is sad and very scary. I never thought I’d experience anything worse, anything more intellectually stifling than the USSR of its last two decades of existence. But now I do see something worse.

    The book you are writing is very important, and I hope that many people hear your message.

Folks, Americans are extremely naive about what’s coming. We just cannot imagine that people who burst into tears in the face of gentle mockery of their political beliefs can ever come to power. They are already in power, in the sense that they have mesmerized leaders of American institutions. I’m telling you, that 2015 showdown on Yale’s campus between Prof. Nicholas Christakis and the shrieking students was profoundly symbolic. Christakis used the techniques of discursive reason to try to establish contact with these young people. None of it mattered. They yelled and cursed and sobbed. The fact that he disagreed with them, they took as an assault on their person.

And Yale University caved to them!

RTWT

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