"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Diversity At Yale - It All Began With Italo-Search, The Hunt For A Smart Goomba

Johnny Palumbo was one of a few Italian American students chosen for admission to Yale under a special, experimental program that in many ways preceded the revolutionary reform of Kingman Brewster and Inslee Clark. It was called  Italo-Search.  Although the initiative had been kept secret for many years, Palumbo's fellow classmate, an attorney and fellow-beneficiary of the program, discovered it thanks to the new academic Freedom of Information Act which he had sponsored.

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Yale in the late Fifties had begun to come under increasing pressure from New Haven to invest more in the city - not only in infrastructure, but in human resources as well. It wasn't enough, City officials said, for Yale to hire the men and women who served the elite; it was important for them to recruit talented New Haven students for Yale's undergraduate body itself. The time had come for New Haven's Italian-Americans to stop serving strawberries, and to eat them.

Wooster Square History

Yale agreed, but with a prejudice characteristic of the times, assumed that any Italian-American New Haven student would be only suitable for menial work, agreed to admit Richard Puzzi, Alderman Guido Marucci's highly recommended candidate who had been a football standout at New Haven High. At least this slab of hairy meat would make short work of the Princeton line, so fuck the grades. A memo went out to all Puzzi’s professors at the beginning of the year: "Pass this ape".

To Yale's surprise, Puzzi turned out to be a below average football player - he ended the year only as a fourth down lineman on the freshman team. To their greater surprise, he turned out to be quite a good student, with a particular aptitude for math - not a remarkable aptitude by any means, but far greater than they had ever imagined. By the end of the year, Puzzi not only had passed every course, but had garnered a B+ average.

Clip Art Math Equations Png - Math Equations Transparent Png ...

The New Haven aldermen were obviously pleased - and vindicated - and pressured Yale to expand their enrollment of New Haven Italians. Yale refused, insisting that Puzzi was a fluke. Unfortunately for Yale, with the arrogance and disdain that characterized Yale Town-Gown relationships up until the mid-Sixties, its politically naive spokesmen were more than candid and public in their pronouncements. "Mr. Puzzi", an Assistant Dean told the Journal-Courier, "may be a champion of his people, but he is certainly not a champion of ours".

The aldermen were pissed. Angry letters poured in to the Journal-Courier demanding a retraction, a public apology, and reparations - twenty Italian-Americans from New Haven must be admitted to Yale to the Class of 19-- or else (the threat of a university-wide strike of kitchen and maintenance workers was implicit). Worse yet, Italian-American delegates to the Connecticut Legislature got into the act.

Picking up the political cudgel and wielding it at the state level, Assemblymen DeVito, Garofano, and Binelli excoriated Yale at every turn. If this was not bad enough, it was an election year, and Yale bashing was a sure-fire vote-getter. Soon any Connecticut WASP was fair game. Cartoons of St. Grottlesex airheads summering on the Vineyard, prattling about our people - all portrayed as vapid Gatsby-esque dilettantes - appeared in every paper from the Hartford Courant to the Naugatuck News.

Preppy people are abandoning Ralph Lauren - Business Insider

Yale knew they had to settle, but were convinced they could do it on their terms. Negotiations began with a certain civility - as uppity as the Italian-Americans were getting, there was still a visceral respect for the well-born - but they quickly broke down. Observers reported a class war - invectives with language that veered perilously close to the ethnic slur came from both sides. The talks broke off, and only because both politicians and university administrators knew that the Yale-New Haven marriage could never survive a nasty divorce, a new date was set for talks to resume.

Two months later, to avoid further roasting in the press and increasing political pressure from Connecticut and now national politicians, Yale made a generous proposal to New Haven: it would take a minimum of two New Haven residents per year, would make a public apology for the "our people" interview, and would recruit up to five Italian Americans from Connecticut per year if and only if they were the most exceptional candidates. 

The standards Yale set were so high that the Admissions Office was convinced that they would get no suitable candidates. The Connecticut politicians, a bit uneasy about the almost unattainable qualifications, felt at the same time that they could not back down on them - of course the descendants of Galileo, Michelangelo, and Bernini could meet the highest standards.

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And so Italo-Search began; and on an early acceptance program, Johnny Palumbo was admitted to Yale. After his lawyer classmate obtained all the Italo-Search files in the late Seventies, he sent relevant Admissions Office records to each student of the Class of 19--who had been Yale's experimental subjects.  Palumbo's read: 

This young Italian American is an exceptional student.  He showed a remarkable range of intellectual interests, a depth of perception, and an understanding of complex issues that demonstrated a maturity far beyond his years and far beyond the expectations of Lefferts, this manifestly second-rate school on the backwaters of the Farmington River. His essays were remarkable for their insight and grasp of subtle and complex issues. His teacher comments were celebratory: ' The best student Lefferts has ever had.....An exceptional mind........Brilliant..........Destined for success '. This is the Italian-American we are looking for.

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Dumbing Down Of Helen Of Troy - Bring Back Vixens, Adulteresses, And Nietzschean Harpies

There has been no heroine in literary history quite like Helen of Troy, 'the face that launched a thousand ships', the mythical woman who either was an opportunistic gold digger, willingly going off with Paris to Troy and the regency of the land; or an abductee, a woman taken from her rightful husband because of the jealous capriciousness of the gods.  Helen either went to Troy as a captive or complaisant prize to Paris, or never went to Troy at all but to Egypt where she waited for her husband Menelaus to rescue her. 


Homer wrote of her legendary beauty, and Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides all added to her legend.  In their hands she was either a powerful, manipulating seductress or a women with uncanny will and agency.  Her beauty was unparalleled, but her intelligence and savvy underrated.  

Euripides in Helen created a complex and intriguing character and placed her within a pre-Platonic world of supposition, shadows, and improbability; and in The Trojan Women gave her a willful defiance of received wisdom, a canny legal defense, and a political insouciance of only the strongest, most incomparable women. 


Her sister Clytemnestra was no different.  Enraged and outraged by her husband, Agamemnon's sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia simply to get favorable winds to assist him in his casus belli war against the Trojans, Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, plot to kill the king, her husband and murderer of Aegisthus' father. 

Clytemnestra is the more determined of the two sisters.  She never wavers in her intention to avenge the death of her daughter, to murder her killer, and to become regent of Argos alongside her lover.  She is a Nietzschean hero - amoral, undaunted, merciless in the execution of her designs and ambitions. 

The sisters are unmatched in literary and mythological history - proto-feminists, proud and determined women, unbowed and unintimidated by their male overlords.

Where are the Helens and Clytemnestra today?  Where is such unparalleled defiance to patriarchy, Machiavellian determination and will?  Nietzsche said that the expression of pure will is the only validation of the individual in a meaningless world, but the amoral, willful heroines of the past are done and gone, 

Shakespeare understood the Greeks and anticipated Nietzsche. Goneril, Regan, Tamora, Dionyza, Lady Macbeth, and Volumnia were cut from the same Athenian cloth.  They were indomitable, unstoppable, and defiant.  Today? Women who have ignored the legacy of these queens and pretenders, have shaken their heads at Hedda Gabler, Laura, Hilde Wangel, and Rebecca West, Ibsen and Strindberg creations who have used guile, treachery, and feminine insight to undo the likes of the Master Builder, Rosmer, and the Captain.

Where is Margaret Thatcher when we need her? ask women tired of being told they are a persecuted minority, shielded from men's misogyny and sexual predation; women who cannot stand on their own and must be protected, coddled, and protected.  Thatcher was a Clytemnestra in grocer's daughter's clothes - a defiant challenger to received wisdom, male subordination, and masculine febrility.  She was outspoken, literate, persuasive, and a royal pain in the ass to the liberal hectors of the Left. 

The United States, trapped in a culture of MeToo, 'No Means No' female protectionism, seduced by hopelessly anti-historical notions of gender fluidity and peaceful co-existence, have chosen to be represented by people of color, alternative sexuality, and ethnic diversity - women as far from Nietzsche's √úbermensch as a sparrow from an eagle, a compromising, uncertain cadre of phantoms just like the ephemeral likeness of Helen in Troy. 

Diversity un-mans and un-womans, denies Nietzschean will, assumes a passive acceptance of the notions of the herd and encourages posturing - political poseurs who have never faced incoming.  Race, gender, and ethnicity - what are they compared to individual will? Nothing but poster boards, memes, campaign slogans, lawn decorations, banners and festoons? 


Goneril and Regan were not nice women. They were ambitious, murderous, and psychopathically driven; but their brand of willful, indomitable will is sorrowfully missed.  This whole color-amalgamated potpourri of gender- and race-associated women is a lark, a child's garden of verses, and a Goodnight Moon childish fantasy. 

Oh, but Goneril and Regan were not nice ladies nor was Hilde Wangel, manipulating the Master Builder to jump from the tower; nor Laura who got her husband committed thanks to an insidious, women-only doubt over paternity; nor Volumnia who engineered her own son's death to accede to power,

Niceness is in vogue especially if it is the inclusive, embracing kind - love for gay men, trannies, and Folsom Street Fair butch-and-leather femmes in Spanish Inquisition drag.  Gay power couples debate who's on top, who's the husband, and who meets the press.  The Clytemnestras - those women who want to do their husbands in - are working two jobs, three shifts and with barely enough time to buy the poison. 

Most American have had enough of simpering, distressed women. The hectoring blandishments of the Congressional 'Squad', discontented women of color with no clue about female reserves or when and how to call them up.  They are old-fashioned Saturday morning cartoon characters in modern drag- Daffy Duck, Goofy, and Porky Pig - without a clue, falling off cliffs without a clue why or wherefore. 

 It's only a matter of time before the real feminism returns.  Perhaps it was because the women of Aeschylus, Shakespeare, and Ibsen lived in the patriarchal times they did - such harnessing, rein-and-bit male domination lit their fires - but it's time for these banked fires to be fanned.  Forget MeToo, 'No Means No' and the whole raft of  trans-this and trans-that faux womanhood has had its day, over and done with, ready for the real women to strut their stuff 

Two Old Guys Fighting For The Presidency - One Can't Remember Why, The Other Could Care Less

The good news is that modern science has given us longevity.  The bad news is that we can't remember what we ate for lunch...and so goes God's greatest irony. 

Joe Biden would like to remember what he had for lunch, who is Prime Minister of Italy ('I know she's a pretty girl'), what on earth all the fuss in Ukraine is all about, and why that uppity LaShonda Jackson is always in my face?

In the old days the President used to know what was what, the sinecure days, when he had the easiest job in the world, when representing a small, forgotten state and bringing home the bacon was a snap because his colleagues in the Senate felt obligated to give him a warship or two or a bridge across the Delaware River. 

In those halcyon days Joe could just smile, kiss babies, and attend ladies' teas, and he would always get reelected.  Good Ol' Joe, the voters mused, good for Delaware, good for the country, although it was because of the bacon, the bridges, and of course the good offices and largesse of Dupont that kept his ship afloat. 

Now he could barely remember those days.  It was all a hazy, misty, warm and generous feeling which blended with his childhood days on a sunny Rehoboth beach, the caresses of Nancy Blythe...or was it Carol Frisbee?... and the handshakes and pats on the back from well-wishers. 

Thank God for the teleprompters, admitted his wife and his handlers; but even that was no solution as a sequela to the President's dementia was dyslexia; and no matter how large the font or how simple the grammar, he simply couldn't make heads or tails of it.  To him it was just one big autocorrected mess. 

His staff consulted cognitive psychologists who suggested mnemonic tricks - emotional words in pink, dire warnings in crimson, accomplishments in blue all of varying intensity and intermittence. But to Joe it was all kindergarten again, coloring flowers and trees and the blue ocean, and was more confusing than anything. 

The earphone was no help either.  The voice piped in from the wings seemed to him like some disembodied being, a pesky echo, and with his oral dyslexia he sounded out the words in his ear in the wrong direction. 

'Keep the bloody fool off stage', one disaffected aide said to a colleague in private, a view universally shared by the staff; but the press kept clamoring for press conferences, one-on-one interviews, and campaign whistle-stop speeches that made sense.  

Meanwhile his opponent kept hammering and whacking away at the President's programs with bravura and bombast with no concern for accuracy, veracity, or even a semblance of what actually was.  Trump had never cared for 'the truth', and he was popular for exactly that reason.  His supporters were sick and tired of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other econo-speak, charts and up-and-down graphs showing the rate of melting, the heat index, and the carbon whatever of the environment. 

What they wanted and heard from their man was how climate hysterics were depriving them of jobs, taking away their stoves, forcing plug-in toaster cars, turning the country into a queer, black and socialist country, and playing gin rummy with the ayatollahs instead of bombing them to smithereens. 


Trump didn't care about logic, rational exegesis, parsing, noting, and reserving judgment.  The man was all about the Borscht Belt, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and the mean streets of New York.  Exaggerate the worth of Trump Tower? Of course he did, bloody fools, and everyone in the market knew it, jawboned, twisted and turned, prevaricated, and did their own financial acrobatics until a mutually agreed-upon price was reached. 

Insurrection? 'You gotta be kidding' the former President said, and showed on the jumbotron the Viking-helmeted, face-painted, wild-ass bunch of Idaho crazies that had come out of the backwoods to whoop it up on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Influencing the election? Phooey, of course he did, who wouldn't up against a nincompoop like Biden who had his own operatives down in Georgia. 

The crowd roared, the band played, and the former President's poll numbers kept rising. 

'Democracy is at stake', shouted Biden at a Canton, Ohio Knights of Columbus hall.  This was the only meme, the only slogan, the only possible line that the President could be counted on to remember and say clearly.  His staff had done a Manchurian Candidate trip on him - once he said those words, the whole ethos about Trump's evil and worthlessness would kick in.  

The President then took out his cue cards and picked one that seemed to make sense.  Again, the staff had been on their toes.  There was no particular order of cards the President had to follow.  Each one had a salient talking point, so he could shuffle away and still make a point. 

The foreign press had a field day. 'A Fools' Jamboree' read the headline in the Corriere della Sera, Italy's paper of record which, after a year of Giorgia Meloni's presidency was used to her sharp, confident, supremely well-prepared press conferences and interviews. She had the facts and figures of the economy, immigration, tax policy, Brussels, inflation, and Putin at her fingertips, and she spoke with a rapid-fire, synaptic brilliance. 

The French were used to the young, blonde Marion Marechal, darling of the Right, deft, canny, as sharp as tacks, eloquent, persuasive, and brilliant.  Outspoken about the curse of Islamization, the raft loads of unwanted immigrants, and the corrosion of the very pillars of European society, her poll numbers jacked up overnight. 

Both women were what every American wanted and needed - not one old, spoon-fed babbling old man and a fat windbag. 'You get what you deserve', said the Italian and the Frenchman. 'Get over it'; and so we did as the campaign headed for November. 

Trump, in irons because of his witch trials, still howled and bellowed just enough not to be cited for contempt but more than enough to make the news.  Biden went from one scripted, highlighted, mnemonically-aided event to another, never making any sense whatsoever, counting on 'the democracy thing' and the demonic caricature of Trump his party had created. 

A Meloni or a Marechal could run rings around both of them - men who have either forgotten where they are or who could care less about it.  The campaign is a hilarious side show of a bumbling and stumbling fool and a wild man shouting and barking, a LaTourette's carny barker, a tummler, and outrageous clown. 

Old age is not fun to watch - we all knew that before this fol-de-rol all started, but we're stuck with them. 

'The country needs you', said Jill comfortingly to her husband before bedtime one night. The President smiled and kissed her on the cheek, not sure why the country did or what he was going to do about it, but Jill knew best. 

Meanwhile Donald Trump entertained a hundred people at a gala at Mar-el-Lago where he flew while his trial was in recess.  He didn't give a fuck about Fanny or LaShonda or any of them.  He had made billions, had been on television, and was known everywhere.  'Fuck 'em', he said, and teed up on the first hole.