8/28/2003 11:19:00 AM|W|P|SDG|W|P|
"...the college administrators were at the time wrestling mightily with the excessive partying, eating, and drinking that was infecting the campus."        -- Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin (2003, p. 20).
          on student life at Harvard in the 1720s.
Yeah, fraternities wouldn't be started for another century, but I'm sure they were still to blame for destroying the intellectual climate of the college. No doubt pledge Ben and brother Bluto would've had a swell time stickin it to John Adams and those stuffed shirts over at Omega house. Mind you, this was 250 years before Title IX, so wrestling in college was widespread.|W|P|106208399491814438|W|P|These Guys Were Kickin' It Old Skool|W|P|8/27/2003 02:06:00 PM|W|P|SDG|W|P|Two events today draw together an interesting comparison. Multilateral talks begin in Beijing seeking a resolution to the North Korean nuclear weapons situation while at the same time, the Palestinians "try" to do something about their own terrorist home-roosting chickens. The Axis of Evil's unindicted co-conspiritor, the Palestinian Authority, is at it again with the international community's favorite terrorist-cum-Nobel-Prize-winner-cum-terrorist, Yassir Arafart, leading a predictably dizzying assault on logic, facts and human decency. Arafat has called on Palestinian "militant" groups to return to the "cease fire" they'd "abandoned" after the Israelis killed Ismail Abu Shanab, whom Hamas claims was part of their "political wing." Kind of like Joachim von Ribbentrop not being part of the "barbarous" wing of the Nazi party because he headed the "diplomatic" corps. Sorry for all the "scare quotes," but I'm a big Reuters fan. The premise is simply astounding in its baldfaced audacity. "Yeah, without provocation, we blew up a bus and killed 21 innocent civilians, but that didn't abandon the cease fire. Nope. It was the victim's retaliation that killed the cease fire." So, we shouldn't really be suprised to see Arafat playing "No, this time I'm really, really, really serious about stopping terrorism." Its worked for him for 40 years. But Arafat's strategy is hardly unique. North Korea, although it hasn't recently killed any civilians (other than its own) for political gain, is entirely familiar with the ploy. It has been about as subtle as a sledgehammer regarding what it plans to do with nuclear weapons unless the international community starts learning to sing the appeasement chorus in four-part harmony. The parallels are intriguing, though upon investigation, hardly surprising. North Korea tries to frame its issue as a bipartite issue between itself and the United States. The Palestinians, similarly, frame their issue as a conflict merely with Israel. That the two have a similar approach isn't surprising. Both political apparatuses are cut from the same cloth. Each is headed by a ruthless thug of a dictator-for-life who spent the better part of the Cold War cozying up to the Soviet bear while cutting his teeth on the finer points of domestic suppression and demolishing the admittedly rather low standards of what passes for international convention. Both spend every bit of hard currency they can get their hands on to support, in the following order, a) Swiss bank accounts for their leaders and b) hardware for their military and para-military "police" outfits. Each arms itself to the teeth against the "threat" posed by its democratic, capitalistic neighbor (each of which is, in reality, just a pawn for the Great Satan/Great Oppressor of the Masses). Both are surreptitiously supported by unseemly segments of the international community who understand that the investment helps accomplish certain dirty business the patron would rather not do directly. Both the North Koreans and the Palestinians openly threaten not only their immediate adversary, but when necessary, they expand the scope of conflict to bring locust-like affliction to their neighbors. North Korea threatens wholesale destruction of places like Tokyo and Seoul (again). The Palestinians, in contrast, take the retail road and visit smaller, "conventional" misery progressively on Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and now the West Bank and Gaza strip. Oh, and I almost forgot. Each is wildly poplular with International A.N.S.W.E.R. and its bevy of dreary supporters on American college faculties. Claudia Rosset, in an op-ed piece for today's Wall Street Journal, relates the story of seven North Koreans, including Cho Sung-hye, who bravely (and, perhaps, naively) sought political asylum in China to escape the depravity of Kim Jong-Il's ridiculously named Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Now think about that for a moment - living in a country whose political system makes mainland China look good. Or so Mrs. Cho thought. Neither she nor her fellow thought-criminals has been seen since being hauled off by the Chinese secret police after she carefully followed the international protocol for requesting asylum. Similarly, Palestinians fleeing Arafat's plague of terror are similarly shocked to find themselves arrested and put in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Meanwhile, those left under the heel of either the DPRK or the PA have no immediate or short term hope of gaining elementary human rights, rudimentary economic opportunity, or the hope of a passable standard of living any time soon. And, yet, here we are sitting down at the table, with each, trying to work something out. George Bush must really misunderstand this whole megalomaniacal empire vision thing. |W|P|106200759345646076|W|P|Yassir, That's My Baby...Or, What's Jong With This Picture?|W|P|8/24/2003 04:10:00 AM|W|P|SDG|W|P|If the New York Times uses the word 'def' in a headline, is it safe to say that the term now officially has as much "street cred" as Woody Allen does on foster parenting? |W|P|106171262689415972|W|P|Neither Black Nor White, but Shades of [the old] Gray [Lady]|W|P|8/20/2003 06:28:00 PM|W|P|SDG|W|P|From the same people who brought you the college admissions game "Twenty Points If You're Black, Zero if You're Asian Has Nothing to Do With Race," comes our latest campus entertainment. Are you ready to play....Name that Class?!?!?!?! Don Pardo, tell us about our first contestant, please.... OK, kiddies, for a gold star on your lunchbox, which of the following four courses is not a real class to be taught at the University of Michigan during the Fall 2003 term?
  • Religion 218: The Old Testament
  • English 317, Section 002: How to be Gay
  • Women's Studies 443: Pedagogy of Empowerment: Activism in Race, Gender, and Health
  • Statistics 265: Probability and Statistics for Engineers
  • Click and highlight the area below to see the answer: If you said, Religion 218: The Old Testament, give yourself a pat on the back! (Disclaimer: Stretch before you pat yourself on the back. See your doctor before undertaking a patting regimen). Didn't get the right answer? Awwwwww, that's too bad. Maybe this one will be easier. All of these are actual courses are taught at the University of Michigan. But for one of them, you're not allowed to count the credits for graduation. Can you guess which one it is?
  • Educational Studies 650, Section 055: Reflecting on the Teaching Experience
  • Theatre and Drama 477: History of Dress
  • Study Abroad 367. UM/CIEE at University of Ghana, Accra
  • Military Science 401: Leadership Challenges and Goal Setting
  • Again, click and highlight the area below to see the answer: Oh, come on! You didn't really need to look to know the answer to that, did you? Obviously, its the Military Science class. From the UM couse catalog: The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts does not grant credit toward graduation for any courses offered through the Officer Education Program except for those courses which are cross-listed in other academic units (effective September 1, 1971). Thank you, hippies. Gee, I'm not even a week into this whole blogging thing and already I get to make fun of the Big Academia. Does it get any better than this? |W|P|106141851501073252|W|P|What Would We Do Without the University of Michigan?|W|P|8/19/2003 05:13:00 PM|W|P|SDG|W|P|If a crass publicity hound, say, Arianna Huffington, was Mel Gibson's PR person, she couldn't have concocted a better strategy to publicize Mr. Gibson's upcoming movie about the last 12 hours of Christ's earthly existence. I'll avoid the obvious adjective and merely note that everyone seems pretty worked up about it. Are Michael Medved and I the only two Jews that aren't aflutter about this? Anybody? Baker, Bishop, Beuller....Bueller...Anybody? No, I think it's just us two. And here's why I'm not getting torqued out over this. For starters, this is a tempest in a Holy Grail (a different Monty Python film, Life of Brian, oddly enough, seems to have been the last film before Gibson's that made a big deal of the Romans actually speaking Latin). If we Jews are going to "expose" latent anti-Semitism-cum-deicide, is this film really the place to be spending so much effort and time? Joseph Farah makes a pretty good point about where we can find the nest of some real anti-Semitism. Obviously it isn't much of a stretch to figure out that a lot of what goes in the Arab media makes Joseph Goebbels look like chamomille-honey chai tea. But given the axiomatic truth of that, consider the results of an impromptu pseudo-scientific inquiry. A search on altavista.com for 'anti-semitism in the arab media' yields an underwhelming 22 results. Yet the same engine produces a whopping 2,417 hits for 'anti-semitism in mel gibson's the passion'! (Figures accurate at publication. Your mileage may vary). While Boolean fundamentalists will no doubt crucify me for my methodology, I don't think any compensation for spiders not aggressively searching foreign language sites or less connectivity in Arab countries can fully explain a ratio of greater than 100:1 hits on this topic. The only explanation is that some anger is being misdirected and that some folks are rushing to talk about 'guilt' where the wise might instead discusss 'responsibility.' Now, I haven't seen The Passion, though that has hardly stopped its critics (and probably some of its admirers) from sounding off and judging it. I'm too young to have lived in an America where some Christians routinely levelled libelous and pernicious charges of deicide against the Jews. So, some will no doubt claim that I've missed something and might not fully understand why this issue is so important to them. Then again, I didn't live in an America that practiced slavery and that doesn't seem to be disqualifying people today from commenting about that period either. No American today should feel guilty about slavery. Notwithstanding the wretchedness of the "peculiar institution," none of us imported, traded, sold, loaned or owned slaves. None of us profited by the labor of the slaves. We didn't do anything wrong. But, as Americans, we do share a collective responsibility for ensuring that such things are never forgotten and certainly never allowed to happen again. Similarly, Mel Gibson shouldn't feel guilty or be made to feel guilty about libeling Jews regarding deicide. To anyone's knowledge, he's never committed any untoward acts or uttered any defamations about Jews. He isn't guilty for the regrettable elements of passion plays past. He hasn't done anything wrong by making a movie true to the Word of God as he believes it. Certainly no more so, as my father pointed out, than what we Jews do each Spring when we retell the story of the exodus from Egypt. As I suggested before, so much ado about nothing. In the end, I do hope Mr. Gibson will be true not only to his faith, but also to whatever strictures his faith might put on him to ensure that this remains 'nothing.' He would, indeed, be wise to be mindful of history and consider that he might have a responsibility - to carry the cross, as it were - for how such presentations have been used in the past and to ensure that his film will not be used by the unsavory to breathe new life into a sad and long discredited old lie. But he deserves the benefit of the doubt too. |W|P|106132760013208302|W|P|YABAMMTP! (Yet Another Blog About Mel's Movie 'The Passion'!)|W|P|8/14/2003 11:30:00 AM|W|P|SDG|W|P|Why did it take so long? I got in early on e-mail (c. 1991), USENET (c. 1993) doing webapges (c. 1994) but for whatever reason (well, whatever reason aside from procrastination), I've stayed away from blogging - which is odd as I'm hardly shy about voicing my opinions to friends or strangers. Because of that, I suppose if I was Al Gore, I could claim to have introduced the legislation that created blogging, but I'll leave that for a different post. Since I'm still learning to use eBlogger and get this looking how I want it to, I'll beg off on posting anything substantive for the moment. But, in general, while a blog is a chance to post about, well, anything, I'd like to use this one to throw a little more attention on higher education, or higher indoctrination, or...well, you get the point. Thanks for your patience while we (I'll use the 'royal we' like OpinionJournal.com does) build the blog a bit. |W|P|106087500015284079|W|P|Well, I finally did it. I've got my very own blog.|W|P|