Shots In The Dark
Time to Move
Sorry for the confusion, anyone who's been wondering where I've been. This blog has now officially moved, and you can't find it here any longer.
To find Shots in the Dark, go to the new Richard Bradley home page
, then click on the tab that says "blog."
Everything you liked, loved, or hated about SITD will be there. Can't wait to hear what you think!
If You Want Monogamy, Marry a Worm
So says the Times' Natalie Angier, anyway, writing that scientists now find monogamy in the animal kingdom to be extremely rare
, even among those animals, such as swans, long thought to be monogamous.Dr. [David] Barash, who wrote “The Myth of Monogamy” with his psychiatrist-wife, Judith Eve Lipton, cited a scene from the movie “Heartburn” in which a Nora Ephronesque character complains to her father about her husband’s philanderings and the father quips that if she’d wanted fidelity, she should have married a swan. Fat lot of good that would have done her, Dr. Barash said: we now know that swans can cheat, too. Instead, the heroine might have considered union with Diplozoon paradoxum, a flatworm that lives in gills of freshwater fish. “Males and females meet each other as adolescents, and their bodies literally fuse together, whereupon they remain faithful until death,” Dr. Barash said. “That’s the only species I know of in which there seems to be 100 percent monogamy
And animals pay for sex too......
We're in the process of switching this blog over to the new site, so if things are a little weird around here right now, bear with us......
Elena Kagan Steps It Up
Showing why she's making a name for herself as dean at Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan is announcing a new program
today in which HLS students who spend five years working for non-profits or the government will not have to pay their third year of tuition.
“We know that debt is a big issue,” said Elena Kagan, dean of the law school. “We have tried to address that over the years with a very generous loan forgiveness program, but we started to think that we could do better.
Whether because of their debt load or because of the culture of the law school, HLS students virtually never go into public interest law.From 2003 to 2006, as many as 67 and as few as 54 of the 550 students graduating from Harvard Law went to work for a nonprofit organization or the government. That translates to 9.8 to 12.1 percent of the graduating class. A vast majority of students have chosen to join law firms, where they can earn well over $100,000 a year immediately after getting their degree
The Times points out that, in order to ensure compliance, HLS will be monitoring the employment and incomes of students in this program for five years after they graduate, which is a little creepy.....
Perhaps the program should be extended. What if Harvard repaid students 20% of a year's tuition for every year they spend doing non-profit work, up to five years?
Actually, that sounds like a pretty good idea.....
Should Baseball Players Retaliate?
If someone makes a dirty play on a baseball field, should a member of the opposing team retaliate?Murray Chass thinks the answer is yes
, and so do I.
The three-game suspension of Shelley Duncan, a Yankees first baseman, for his spikes-high slide into second base in an exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Rays prompted me to think about the change that has occurred in baseball.
Virtually forever, until relatively recently, if a player performed some dastardly deed in a game, the players on the opposing team dealt with him themselves by retaliating in some fashion.
This retaliation was generally comparable in pain inflicted to the original act—even playing dirty has its rules—and everyone understood that such measures were clearly tit-for-tat. As Tommy Lasorda puts it, "It’s evened up. He got our guy; we got their guy.”
But now, the league presidents are cracking down. Suspending someone for three games for a high slide? That is pathetic. What are you supposed to do when someone takes out your catcher in a spring training game? Give him a dirty look?
The reason, of course, is money. It's expensive to pay the salary of an injured player who's making millions....
The President's Priorities
There's been a lot going on in the 02138 zip code lately, including a basketball recruiting controversy and a debate over segregated gym hours for Muslim women.
But President Drew Faust has been an absent figure during these campus controversies. I joked the other day that she was on her book tour, which was, in retrospect, overly snarky of me. But where has she been?Testifying before Congress
on the importance of funding scientific research.Young scientists' careers are being stifled by flat funding for biomedical research, Harvard's
president told a US Senate committee this morning
The problem may be real, but the report on which Faust's testimony is based, Broken Pipeline
, is a joke; it's a glossy brochure, more photos than text, based on the anecdotal stories of 12 junior researchers, produced in conjunction with the "integrated health system" Partners Healthcare. It looks like a corporate annual report, only with less information.
I don't mean to deny the validity or import of the problem. But I do think that the fact that the president of Harvard is testifying before Congres
s, waving corporate brochures as evidence, even as she stays mum about issues happening at Harvard College says something about the evolving role of the university president.
(I don't think even Larry Summers testified before Congress while president of Harvard.)
What are her priorities? Scientific research. Why? Because that's where the big bucks are.
Except that then she has to push for more money for scientific research, because, well, that's where the big bucks are. And around and around we go.
This prioritization might not make such a big difference in terms of the College if Faust had appointed strong FAS and College deans.
I don't know a lot about Michael Smith and Evelynn Hammonds. But the posters on this blog (and to be fair, it's a self-selected group) do not see them that way.....
The Price of Wisdom
Over the last eight years, Citigroup has paid Bob Rubin more than $150 million
I think I'll just let that speak for itself.
Geraldine Ferraro, one half of a presidential ticket all good Dems would love to forget
, has resigned from the Clinton campaign after alleging that race is the basis of Barack Obama's support.On Wednesday a close ally of Mrs. Clinton, Geraldine A. Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1984 who was on the Clinton finance committee, resigned from the campaign after being criticized by Mr. Obama’s advisers, among others, for her recent comments that “if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position” as a leading presidential contender
The thing is, Ferraro wasn't necessarily wrong. After all, if she hadn't been a woman, she wouldn't have been a vice-presidential contender. (She certainly didn't get there on the merits.)
Similarly, if Hillary wasn't a woman, she wouldn't be getting so many votes from women.
But the Clinton campaign has been repeatedly introducing the race card in odd and worrisome ways into this primary battle, and the fact is they just don't have any credibility on the matter any more. Things have reached the point where you can not give Hillary and her attack dogs the benefit of the doubt whenever they speak on race.....
The $1,000-an-hour prostitute known as "Kristen
" who serviced Eliot Spitzer has been identified by the New York Times.She left “a broken family” at age 17, having been abused, according to the MySpace page, and has used drugs and “been broke and homeless
But this should be taken with a grain of salt, because she's trying to get into the music biz.....On the Web page is a recording of what she describes as her latest track, “What We Want,” a hip-hop-inflected rhythm-and-blues tune that asks, “Can you handle me, boy?” and uses some dated slang, calling someone her “boo.” “I know what you want, you got what I want,” she sings in the chorus. “I know what you need. Can you handle me?
This is all getting surreal: We live in an age where a prostitute is identified and interviewed because of her MySpace page
....and there are dozens of comments of support—"Hang in there!" "We got your back!" And so on.
The funny thing is, she hasn't taken down her page, which is linked to above. I think we can expect to see Ms. Ashley Alexandra Dupres in the pages of Playboy in a month or so, with a single coming out at about the same time....
By the way, the photo above is the one the New York Times ran; below is the full MySpace photo (thanks, New York Post!). Kind of funny to see the editorial process at work.
The Religious Debate Continues
Two articles in the Crimson touch on whether two recent events at Harvard have manifested institutional promotion of Islam at the expense of the rights and beliefs of others.
On the Opinion page, Diana Esposito, Benjamin Taylor and Aaron Williams write about their concern over the fact that, two weeks ago, the Islamic call to prayer, or adhan, was broadcast from the steps of Widener
.No doubt, the week’s events have broadened some horizons, and exposed some in our community to facets of a religion with which they were not previously familiar. This is certainly a good thing. However, it should be asked if other, more important concerns have been overlooked
The adhan contains a very specific and prescriptive religious message, the authors continue: God is the greatest, Mohammad is the messenger of God, and so on.We cherish the fact that it is possible to discuss our differences with our classmates and neighbors without that discussion erupting into conflict and sowing the seeds of division and disrespect. We believe that the adhan, issued publicly in a pluralistic setting, does indeed sow those seeds of division and disrespect
....To the extent that this statement is a profession of faith, it is benign; however, by virtue of its content, it is also a declaration of religious superiority and a declaration against all beliefs that conflict with those two statements
.The authors of this piece do not believe that there is no lord but God. Nor do we believe that Muhammad was God’s prophet. In fact, we do not believe in prophets. We expect that our statements might be offensive to some, and for that reason, we believe that it wouldn’t be appropriate, in the name of spreading awareness about our beliefs, use a public address system to declare to everyone in Harvard Yard that God is imaginary, that prayer is a waste of time, or that Muhammad was not a prophet
This is the kind of indepence of mind and spirit that I find quite inspiring. It is not easy at Harvard to stand up and say that the embrace of pluralism does not extend to accepting the broadcasting of a particular belief, particularly one which tells you that your beliefs are wrong. These students respect the specific words of a particular faith enough to say, I disagree with it, and I'm offended by the way that its language seems to denigrate my beliefs, and Harvard shouldn't be sanctioning such speech by blasting it from the steps of a building—particularly one which is supposed to represent the promotion of reason and pluralism.
Certainly one can disagree with the argument; I'm sure there are posters here who would say, it's a one-time thing, imagine the administrative challenges of saying no, hearing the adan is educational, and so on. (Imagine the protests if you rejected a request to broadcast the adan! The cries of discrimination!)
Perhaps Harvard should now broadcast prayers of all religions from the steps of Widener. After all, having broadcast one prayer, wouldn't it now be discriminatory to say no to others? Perhaps a Latin Mass? Or maybe Christmas carols? Or, as the writers suggest, perhaps they should get the right to broadcast their statement of atheism: There is no God, prayer is a waste of time, etc., etc.
On the other hand, there's a serious argument that such religious displays are a reasonable compromise, and we gain more from tolerating them, even if we find them irksome, than by prohibiting them.
Some of those arguments are worth taking seriously.
Still, God love the dissenter who puts pen to paper and, in a grand American tradition, says, Get your religion out of my face
And I love the fact that, while some professors pooh-pooh the issue, denying its import, three students stand up and say, no, there's a principle here, and no matter how small or fleeting the incident overlying the principle, it is important to speak up and say what's really going on.
That said, the Crimson also reports on Ola Aljawhary ’09
, a young woman who is chair of the Harvard Islamic Society’s Islamic Knowledge Committee and has become a sort of unofficial spokesperson for Muslim women in the segregated-gym story.
“It’s become sort of an invasion of my personal space and privacy,” Aljawhary said. “My mental space is so cluttered by all these requests, but I don’t want anyone to say there’s a lack of transparency, or that I declined to comment. I’m now seen as the ‘it’ girl, the go-to-person, and it’s gotten intense
Aljawhary was not in the original group of six women who asked for men to be banned from the QRAC during certain hours. You have to give her credit for nonetheless recognizing the importance of responding to media interest in a frank, non-Harwellian way, acknowledging that transparency is healthy and promotes greater understanding of important issues.
Meanwhile, has a single Harvard official publicly addressed the matter?"I’d be flattered by all the attention it if it weren’t so negative. All of it’s pretty derogatory, pretty degrading, personally hurtful,” she said. “We should be able to accommodate the minorities within reasonable limits. Otherwise, you’re saying they should just shut their mouths.
It's unfair to read too much into a single newspaper quote, but Ms. Aljawhary's interpretation of the matter doesn't impress. No one is telling anyone not to speak; quite the contrary. A civilized conversation about this debate would be a healthy thing. (It would have been even better if it had taken place before the implementation of the gym segregation.)
The Crimson should solicit an op-ed from someone—it could well be Aljawhary—who can make a more reasoned case for the segregated gym hours.
The Dean in the Chron
Evelynn Hammonds is written up
in the Chronicle of Higher Education today.Ms. Hammonds says that though she has enjoyed working in the provost's office, it is time to move on
"While I've felt that this work has been very interesting and very challenging, it's really taken me away from the students, and I wanted to get back to working with undergraduate education and undergraduate life," she says
.....Her chief priorities as dean, she says, will be to put into effect the college's newly approved general-education curriculum and to improve outdated student housing
That is a big issue, isn't it? I know that Yale has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade or so renovating its colleges. Does Harvard need to do the same?
The Greatest Game in the Globe
In the Globe, Red Sox historian Bill Nowlin
gives "The Greatest Game" a nice review
.Bradley's book tells the story of the game, of course, but tells it with rare flavor, alternating chapters on each inning with others offering rich perspective. Even during his chapter on the "Top of the First," he devotes some pages to the birth of free agency in ways that enables even those of us who lived through the era to better appreciate the context of the times. He demonstrates a solid grasp of the hitters and the pitchers and their tendencies during the season, as well as the unfolding "game within the game" strategizing and how adjustments are made batter-by-batter, depending on circumstances. The detail gets down to the level of describing New York catcher Thurman Munson's batter's box rituals. Bradley's profiles of key players are rewarding
Here's a line that makes me particularly happy, since it's something I was striving for—and it may come as a surprise to some regular readers:If he favored one team or another, it's not evident
.The Greatest Game
is probably not in physical bookstores yet, but it is available on Amazon, etc.
Some Thoughts on Mr. Spitzer
Last night I started wondering whether, in the matter of Eliot Spitzer, we weren't all repeating the rush-to-moral-judgment mistakes of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The questions, after all, felt so familiar. How could Silda have stood alongside him like that? How could a politician be so reckless, so arrogant? What could make a man in that position risk everything? What a bastard Eliot Spitzer must be....
As someone who was, at the time, pretty moralistic about Bill Clinton, then later came to regret that attitude, I wish we could remember some of the moral nuances that the country eventually arrived at, some of the insights about the connections between political success and personal desires.
How could Silda have stood alongside her cad of a husand? How could Eliot have cheated on her?
Well, who are we to say what goes on inside a marriage? Even as all the pundits tut-tut
at Silda for standing by her man, unless we are privy to the inner life of Eliot Spitzer and Silda Wall, we simply can not judge. (And why is the impulse to judge apparently so much more powerful than the impulse to try to understand?)
As for Spitzer's carnal desires....well, this is a man who's clearly hugely ambitious, energetic, and driven. Is it so impossible that, as with JFK and Bill Clinton, men who embody these characteristics often find that they carry a proportionate amount of sexual desire inside them?
And isn't it possible, in a way, that we should want
this from our leaders, because if they don't have that passion inside them, maybe they shouldn't be running one of the biggest states in the country?
I'm not saying there aren't plenty of better options, or that this is a simple black-and-white matter. On the contrary: I'm saying that maybe we need to calm down, take a deep breath, before we have this guy tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.
Now, please don't misunderstand me: I'm not sanctioning adultery, nor the use of prostitutes, particularly because governors shouldn't commit crimes, no matter how minor.
(Prostitution, so far as I can tell, only hurts people when it's illegal. And frankly, if I were a woman and you gave me a choice between, say, working in a coal mine or hooking at $5k an hour—extreme choice, I know, but you take the point—I might just take the $5k. I certainly wouldn't criticize those who did.)
(Second point: Shouldn't everyone who believes in abortion rights support legalized prostitution? How can one believe that you have the right to abort a fetus but not the right to sell your body for sex?)
What I am saying is that we shouldn't entirely judge Eliot Spitzer because of the way he treated his wife and kids. (The Times reports that she is actually urging him not to resign!
) We should primarily consider him in terms of how good a governor he's been.
(Unfortunately, the answer to that is, not very good. But then, he was a pretty great state attorney general, and he was apparently visiting prostitutes at the time then, so there doesn't seem to be any negative correlation between Spitzer's sex life and his job performance.)
I'll cede that moral leadership is part of public life, and that it's important. But it isn't everything. There are plenty of great leaders who are personal hypocrites. Martin Luther King cheated on his wife, but we all think of him as a great man, and we are right to do so.
So Eliot Spitzer has socially and maritally inappropriate sexual desires. That isn't great.
But so did Bill Clinton. And while his successor, George W. Bush, doesn't seem to have that personal failing, which one would you prefer as president?
Hung Out to Dry
, prominently mentioned in last week's New York Times as the 6'10" basketball player Harvard had recruited despite the fact that he apparently fell below minimum academic standards, has announced that he has "reopened his recruitment."
The announcement was actually made by Rob Jackson, a former coach of Ben-Eze's; the player himself declined to comment.
Last week, I predicted that Ben-Eze, whom coach Tommy Amaker seemed to think would be accepted, would be hung out to dry in the wake of the bad publicity, and this may very well be what happened—that a player who was likely to get admitted was sacrificed in the wake of bad press.Very
Consider, for example, famed basketball writer John Feinstein writing in the Washington Post
...what has happened at Indiana this winter doesn't even come close to being the saddest story in college basketball this season. That dubious honor belongs to Harvard
Feinstein mentions Amaker's recruitment of "six players whose basketball pedigree is far higher than that of past Harvard players," then adds.....The real culprit in this story, though, is the athletic director— just like at Indiana. Bob Scalise has a lot in common with [Rick] Greenspan: He's arrogant and self-righteous and not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.
Feinstein is not gentle on Scalise—or Harvard.
Now, having been outed by the Times, Harvard is trying to back-pedal....
A Harvard flak named Alan J. Stone told Thamel: "We can say that any statement about someone being admitted to Harvard who is not qualified would be absolutely inaccurate, as is any suggestion that standards have been lowered for basketball. Harvard's admissions criteria are -- and remain -- very high. They have not changed at all."
Stone's last sentence must be a lie—unless Scalise was lying when he told [Times reporter Pete] Thamel that Harvard was willing to lower academic standards for Amaker.
....Amaker didn't speak to Thamel. He hid behind a statement, which is embarrassing.
Downright Harwellian, you might say.
To be fair, it's possible that, regarding the specific case of Frank Ben-Eze, Amaker was treating Ben-Eze's admission as if it was definite when it wasn't, or that Ben-Eze just decided to go somewhere else where basketball was more valued.
It's also possible that Hillary Clinton will run a clean, positive campaign for the next six weeks, and that the people of New York will decide that we don't care how much he spent on prostitutes, Eliot's our man!For Harvard, the departure of Ben-Eze from the class could help raise its Academic Index, a complicated formula that establishes minimum standards for athletes to be admitted to Ivy League programs. Ben-Eze, a native of Nigeria who played for Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va., has not attained the 171 index minimum
No one at Harvard comments, though it's not clear whether reporter Pete Thamel asked anyone at Harvard to do so (which is a little odd, frankly).
I'll let Feinstein wrap it up:But let's tell the truth here. Harvard fired a good man [former coach Frank Sullivan] without just cause. The school is trying to claim it is still "Harvard," when clearly it is not. It is rolling in the mud with everyone else in college athletics. And right now, it is not a pretty sight
Well, let me actually pose a question here: Where is Drew Faust in the midst of all this mess? Still on her book tour?
Harvard has taken a big hit in this matter, and she has been as quiet as a country mouse. I guess her handlers have convinced her—did it take much?—that it's more important to stay out of this mess, preserve her pristine reputation, than try to explain just how Harvard went so wrong here.
But as one ethical scandal
hits Harvard, Faust will eventually have to say something. Right?
"Now You're F'ed in Albany Too"
Harvard alum Benjamin Scheuer has penned a little ditty to Eliot Spitzer called "Hey Mr. Governor
It's not exactly "Hey, Jude," but you have to give the guy points for quick turnaround.
Tony Blair Comes to New Haven
Yale signs him up
to teach at the Div School and the School of Organization and Management...
Power Couple, As It Were
Another of 02138's "Power Couples," Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum, are in the Globe today
.Sunstein has declined to talk about his relationship with [Samantha] Power, but it's no coincidence that the celebrated legal scholar has decided to ditch the Windy City and accept a position at Harvard Law School
...As for Power, she's apologized for calling Clinton a monster, but this is hardly the first time she's used hyperbole to make a point. In an interview with 02138 magazine, she referred to Obama as "charming and hot" before quickly adding "but please don't lead with that.
The Yankees: Like the Clintons?
The Greatest Game
was written up a bit in the New York Daily News on Sunday, in an article comparing the Hillary Clinton campaign to the 1978 Yankees
Like the Clinton campaign, the Yankees were filled with clashing egos, and fell far behind their opponent—14 games by late July.That's kind of like losing 11 primaries in a row - they were basically written off," said Richard Bradley, author of the forthcoming "The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Playoff of '78," and a former executive editor of George magazine.
"But the Red Sox made a couple of mistakes, had a couple of injuries, and they could never quite put the nail in the coffin," added Bradley in a not-so-subtle allusion to Barack Obama.
The Yankees/Red Sox race went down to a one-game playoff. Will the Clinton/Obama competition go to the convention?
Not too long ago, Eliott Spitzer and his wife, Silda Wall, were on the cover of 02138's "Power Couples" issue, and profiled inside
....The affidavit says that Client 9 met with the woman in hotel room 871 but does not identify the hotel. Mr. Spitzer stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Feb. 13, according to a source who was told of his travel arrangements. Room 871 at the Mayflower Hotel that evening was registered under the name George Fox
After yesterday, the 02138 story was picked up by the Washington Post
, the Boston Herald
, the Baltimore Sun
, Good Morning America, and others.
The Globe Sides with the Patriots
The Boston Globe profiles Matt Walsh
, the former Patriots assistant who may or may not have damaging videotape implicating the Pats in further spying on other teams.
Walsh seems to have made some mistakes in life, such as a stupid and risky prank he played in college.
But this Globe article is a nasty piece of work, one-sided and filled with anonymous smears. For example, the piece reports that he "has exaggerated or misrepresented elements of his online biography."
We learn considerably further down in the article that the source for this is anonymous Patriots officials.
And the piece opens with a pretty damning quote:
"He sounded like a loose cannon," said the coworker, who asked not to be identified to avoid entangling his new employer in the controversy. "He was very bitter about how things ended with the Patriots and he seemed like he was keen on using whatever he had to get back at them by going public and really trying to damage the team
Hmmmm. Pretty tough quote to open with given that it's coming from an anonymous source who may still be in the NFL.
In fact, I could pretty easily re-mix the piece and, with the exact same information, come up with an article whose theme is that the Patriots are trying to isolate, smear and intimidate a former employee turned whistleblower.
I'm not saying this because I believe that the Pats did anything wrong; I have no idea.
It's just that this is a man's reputation at stake, and this is a textbook example of bad journalism.
Phillip Boffey, a Harvard alum nearing his 50th reunion, writes in the Times on the controversy involving Harvard basketball
.The biggest puzzle is whether Harvard is lowering its vaunted academic standards to snare some top players. Two former assistant basketball coaches have suggested that their teams had to meet higher academic standards than the latest group of recruits. It is hard to unravel the truth, given that the information is confidential. Just trying to figure out how those standards are set seems to require a Ph.D. in mathematics
And that's pretty much where Mr. Boffey wraps things up.