Miscellany

PARADISE DEFERREDAs new president of Yale University, Richard C. Levin’s first action was to send this memorandum over the Yale [...]

October 1 1993 by Chief Executive


PARADISE DEFERRED

As new president of Yale University, Richard C. Levin’s first action was to send this memorandum over the Yale E-mail system:

From: Levin, Richard

Sent: 07-01-93

Priority: Normal

Subject: Paradise

Time: 8:36 a.m.

On July 1, 1978, A. Bartlett Giamatti issued the first memorandum of his Presidency: “In order to repair what Milton called the ruin of our grandparents, I wish to announce that henceforth, as a matter of University policy, evil is abolished and paradise is restored. I trust all of us will do whatever possible to achieve this policy objective.”

I have appointed a committee, chaired by the University Chaplain, to investigate why the Giamatti Proclamation failed to produce the intended result. I have asked the committee to study the feasibility of abolishing evil and to develop a strategic plan for the restoration of paradise. The committee will present its findings to the University Budget Committee, which will determine whether paradise can be restored without further cuts in academic programs and support services. Before any action is taken, I assure you that there will be opportunity for full discussion by the appropriate faculties, the Yale College Council, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, the Association of Yale Alumni, Locals 34 and 35, and The New York Times. I expect to transmit recommendations to the Yale Corporation before the end of the millennium.

-Yale University


IN FULL SALE

If the leaders of former Soviet countries are seeking entrepreneurial pacesetters, they need look no farther than their trainee sailors competing in the tall ships race.

When the 130 vessels arrived at the end of the first leg in Bergen, their crews mostly turned in for a rest. But not so those of the Russian and Polish ships.

Not only on the decks but all along the dockside, they had soon set up stalls and were trading all manner of things for Norwegian kroner. The dearest items were clothing, with uniform jackets and caps going at NKr150 or so. Among the cheapest were hammer and sickle badges, priced the same as jam pancakes at Nkr15 apiece.

-Financial Times


THE FALL GUY

Poor Dinkins.

As his re-election battle looms, it seems to me the dear man doesn’t so much resemble a big city politician of the 1990s but one of the more put upon and gentle characters in a Thomas Hardy novel, victim through little or no fault of his own, of the wickedness all about.

Consider, if you will, things that have happened recently for which the mayor is in no way accountable but for which inevitably he will be blamed:

Joe Franklin retired from television. Surely the mayor could have handled this better.

The wild man of 96th Street is being released from a mental hospital and soon may be back harassing the good people of the Upper West Side.

Der Steinbrenner threatens to move the Yankees to Secaucus or someplace. Imus’ lung collapsed, and he was hauled off to Cornell Medical Center when he should have been giving the mayor a little air time.

What next? I hate to remind the mayor, or to whup on a guy when he’s down, but this is the hurricane season, isn’t it? Tsunamis, anyone?

-James Brady, Crain’s New York Business


IF YOU SUCCEED… The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you. -Bette Midler, “The Fourth and by Far the Most Recent 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said,” compiled by Robert Byrne


 

THE POVERTY OF VALUES

The endless editorials bemoaning the “Decade of Greed” have got it all backward. It isn’t true that a headlong, intemperate pursuit of wealth has plunged us into a crisis of values. The cultural revolution, not soulless greed, created the vacuum, and during the eighties boom money expanded to fill the emptiness.

From his front-row vantage point on the money follies, the former head of the Visa credit card operation, Dee Hock, perceptively assessed this phenomenon: “It’s not that people value money more,” he remarked in the late eighties, “but that they value everything else so much less-not that they are more greedy, but that they have no other values to keep greed in check.” Or as sociologist E. Digby Baltzell succinctly put it: “When there are no values, money counts.”

All through the eighties, the editorialists who harangued these people to give up their soulless materialism and return to the commitment of the sixties were giving them useless advice. The “commitment” they were recommending was to the ideology of the cultural revolution that had already bled so much of the life and vigor out of our key values.

-Myron Magnet, “The Dream and the Nightmare”