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Time in a bottle

You know by now that in the campus culture wars it’s always 1987, Allan Bloom has set the terms for discussion, Shakespeare has been displaced by Alice Walker (or Maya Angelou, in this just-published-yet-1987ish screed by Harry “I Used To Be a Liberal, But Since Murphy Brown Had a Baby I’ve Become Outraged By Women Who Have As Much Sex As I Used To” Stein), and deconstruction is a really big menace to Western Civilization.  (Though I should probably update that old Crooked Timber post: two years ago, in the course of criticizing Ross Douthat, I wondered “why a once-respected literary magazine like the Atlantic would want to offer gigs to people who find it ‘obviously’ depressing that writers like Woolf and Morrison are widely read and studied,” and now I should be wondering why such people get gigs on the New York Times op-ed page.  Who knows?  Perhaps so that they can continue to work out their embarrassing anxieties about women in a public forum.)

Well, to understand the Sonia Sotomayor fracas you have to realize that the timespace confundulum has actually fractured into two frozen moments, one having to do with the sudden appearance of emotional, abrasive Latinas and their strange cuisine amid the eating clubs of Princeton, and the other having to do with ungrateful women of color getting named to positions where they can dole out their reverse-racist versions of “justice.” Yes, that’s right, it’s always 1972 and it’s always 1993—and at the same time.

I didn’t get admitted to anything in 1972.  But in 1974, I was a freshman at Regis High School in New York, where I heard one of my more conservative classmates say, in the course of a discussion about affirmative action, that he had been the victim of reverse discrimination for too long.  Exasperated to the point of flummoxation, I noted in reply that (a) affirmative action showed up only yesterday, (b) you’re thirteen years old, d00d, and (c) you’re attending an elite, tuition-free Jesuit high school that does not admit women.  And the reason I remember that moment 35 years later is that it has never gone away: guys like Stuart Taylor and Fred Barnes are still thirteen years old, still the victims of reverse discrimination, and still questioning the credentials of smart women while campaigning for the protection of conservative white men under the Endangered Species Act.  Taylor graduated from Princeton in 1970; Barnes from the University of Virginia in 1965.  Neither of them had to compete with women for admission; Princeton started opening its doors to that half of the population in 1969, Virginia a year later.  That’s why guys like these worry so much about the decline of standards in college admissions since 1970, you understand.  Because things were tougher and people were smarter when white guys only had to compete with 44 percent of the population for admission to elite colleges, positions of power and influence, and so forth.

(Though as a Regis graduate, I have to say that if Barnes had taken four years of Latin, he might not say such world-historically stupid things as “you know, there’s some schools and maybe Princeton’s not one of them, where if you don’t get Summa Cum Laude then or some kind of Cum Laude, you then, you’re a D+ student,” because he would know that “summa” is Latin for “teh most r0xx0r,” and not for “some kind of.” Then again, he would probably say some other world-historically stupid things anyway.  There are some things even four years of Latin can’t fix.)

“Ah, that explains everything, Michael,” you say, “except that it doesn’t.  You can’t tell me that Jeffrey Rosen’s exercise in gossip-mongering elite journalism, for which blogging is to blame, has anything to do with its author’s educational history.”

Right you are, threadbare rhetorical device interlocutor!  The Rosen thing has nothing to do with 1972.  That’s where the it’s-always-1993 part comes in!  Lani Guinier has just been nominated to head the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, and Even the Liberal New Republic has just published its editorial, “Withdraw Guinier.”

See, Republicans know, or seem to know, that they don’t have enough Senate votes to reject Sotomayor, and don’t have the political capital (though they probably have enough hypocrisy left in the national hypocrisy reserve) to mount a filibuster.  Ah, but if they can only get Obama to withdraw her name—what a lovely embarrassment to the new administration that would be.  And what good times those were for Beltway conservatives!  Tell me again why Clinton fans believe that their guy knew how to stand up to the right-wing noise machine?

Here’s how we know that we’ve never left Lani Guinier Land:

– Faux outrage over “controversial” out-of-context “identity politics” remarks, check;

– Complaints about weird, unpronounceable-in-American last name, check;

– Leading conservative intellectual Newt Gingrich, preparing for his accession to the position of Speaker of the House the Presidency, calling openly for Sotomayor’s withdrawal, check;

– A bit of genteel dishonesty and race-baiting from “leading conservative scholar on race relations” Abigail Thernstrom, calling Sotomayor “a quintessential spokesman for racial spoils,” check; and finally,

– Pat Buchanan tells us we’re in Lani Guinier Land in so many words.

So: no wang chunging tonight, people!  The Spin Doctors are playing tonight, and we’re alone again, naturally.

____

Yes, I know “Time in a Bottle” is from 1973, not 1972.  That’s because its release was delayed a year by Roberta Flack, thanks to the affirmative-action programs then in place on AM radio playlists.

Posted by on 06/03 at 11:49 AM
  1. Yes, I know “Time in a Bottle” is from 1973, not 1972.  That’s because its release was delayed a year by Roberta Flack, thanks to the affirmative-action programs then in place on AM radio playlists.

    This is patently false.  And unnecessarily complicated to boot.  “Time in a Bottle” was bottled in its own temporal juices in 1972.  And thus, when the bottle was opened in 1973, it was still released in 1972.  No affirmative action conspiracy needed.  Though I do still blame Roberta Flack for portraying Eliot Ness as such a flawless paragon.

    “a quintessential spokesman for racial spoils,”

    You know, never mind the SCOTUSblog analysis of Sotomayor’s decisions, illustrating the exact opposite.  One of the New Haven firefighters who lost the right to promotion is Hispanic.  Yet they use Ricci to point out her obvious racial prejudices?  Just because hip hop has cross-cultural appeal doesn’t mean all its participants are interchangable, Abigail.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  01:32 PM
  2. Shorter right-wing talko/writosphere:
    “We are all white men in the eyes of Amerika.”

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  01:35 PM
  3. I recently received this feedback via “peer” “review”:

    By the way, the result and discussion are not well written. The current version didn’t make much sense to me. But I believe it will be improved after the question that stated above had been resolved.

    My points are two:

    1.  If a badly writer like I (by the way, the not well written part, I don’t necessarily dispute) can get published, then I believe that things will only improve after the affirmative action that stated above had been resolved.

    2.  I cannot in good conscience draw a connection between affirmative action and the current state of peer reviewers in this country. I can therefore only conclude that blogs are to blame.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  01:53 PM
  4. I note strictly for the record, Michael, that our Class Valedictorian would not have been admitted if CC had gone co-ed in 1978 instead of 1983/4.

    Guy was wait-listed, but cleared it. What was his name, Jorge Stephano...something Greek, I think.  Too hard to pronounce; guess he never did anything after that.

    Posted by Ken Houghton  on  06/03  at  01:59 PM
  5. Um, George Stephanopoulos was Columbia College’s salutatorian in 1982. It’s an understandable misremembering, though, since the Class Day speech is given by the salutatorian rather than the valedictorian.

    However, the fundamental point remains.  George Stephanopoulos might never have gone on to cure HIV if the admission of women had prevented him from attending Columbia.  Or something.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  02:29 PM
  6. Whoops.  I just consulted the records, and it turns out the 1982 CC valedictorian was Jorge Stephanokoudis.  Who died a homeless bum.  My apologies to Mr. Houghton.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  02:46 PM
  7. When I matriculated at Dartmouth College in 1977 admissions imposed a quota limiting women to a quarter of the class, protecting mediocre fellas like myself.  Took years of activism to undo.  It’s not entirely a coincidence that organized promotion of affirmative action for white men at Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale produced the most virulent anti-affirmative-action rhetoric.

    I shall illustrate my points with this most fascinating jpeg…

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  02:59 PM
  8. Ah but the isn’t the critical moment that it frozen in time really the day of the verdict in the first O. J. trial? Nothing more starkly characterized how little cultural progress had been made. Even with Motown and all that. Yeah we had Obama for a few months but now that Chavez has taken over, doesn’t he actually count as another white guy again? I mean he’s not a woman. At least he doesn’t look like one in the pictures.

    captcha “series” as in when I plot the series of data points representing teenage black males.....

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  03:07 PM
  9. Well, I might not have been CC Class Bum of ‘82 myself if not for the fact that the place was all-male until just after I left.  People like Colin and me, we needed a leg up.  And I did not know that about Dartmouth’s quota on women!  It certainly helps to explain the extraordinary volume of entitled-white-male whingeing among alumni of a certain age.

    Oh yeah, almost forgot:  when Dumb and Dumber (that would be Fred Barnes and Brit Hume, both class of ‘65) graduated from Virginia, it wasn’t the “public Ivy” it is today.  It was basically a gentleman’s drinking school, where good old boys could major in bourbon.  Now let’s start talking about legacy admissions. . . .

    Posted by Michael  on  06/03  at  03:57 PM
  10. If you had only told Sean about this before he wrote his book, it might have....

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  04:51 PM
  11. If I could put time in a bottle it wouldn’t matter when that cloying song was recorded or released because I would never let it out of its bottle of time.

    capcha:  “season.” As in, “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.” Sometimes it is always 1974.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  04:52 PM
  12. Speaking of which, Terry Jacks would be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today if not for the fact that the quota queens who run that institution reserved a place for Gladys Knight instead.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/03  at  05:00 PM
  13. Yes!  And the Pips!  Which is why they don’t have room for the Bay City Rollers!

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  05:01 PM
  14. Can the Average White Band get no love in this discussion? Talk about reversing the reversals of the legacy of reverse racism!

    Captcha: “simply”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  06/03  at  05:06 PM
  15. The Murphy Brown line reminds me: I want to know who crafted the “I used to be a liberal but ever since 9/11 I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick” line. Are you riffing on your own self here, Michael, or on someone else’s cleverness? Tell me the truth: It was a Mo Dowd mot, wasn’t it? That she picked up from a friend?

    Imagine what the women who could’ve been admitted ahead of Stephanopoulos et al. might’ve accomplished with the Ivy League degrees and connections that they were denied.

    Posted by Orange  on  06/03  at  05:15 PM
  16. “Time in a Bottle” is from 1973, not 1972.  That’s because its release was delayed a year by Roberta Flack, thanks to the affirmative-action programs then in place on AM radio playlists.

    a-HA! Has Berry Gordy been indicted yet?

    I caught the Average White Band in New Hope PA in, like, 2005 or something; the place had a 7-ft ceiling. Before that, it had been a triple bill at the Greek Theater in LA (I’m guessing 1991) with Tower of Power and WAR. hoo.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  05:17 PM
  17. Well, the Average White Band was merely ... average.  The real question is why these guys get no love.  (Warning:  the keyboard player at 0:56 will melt your eyeballs!)

    And fardels, just as every black person in an American university is taking away a spot from 40 white guys at once, the Pips are also keeping Paper Lace, the Osmonds, and Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods out of the Hall of Fame.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/03  at  05:20 PM
  18. I want to know who crafted the “I used to be a liberal but ever since 9/11 I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick” line.

    Oh, this hurts, Orange, this hurts.  I have been going around for the past 3-1/2 years saying that this is the only line for which I will be remembered, but ... sadly, no.  People will probably attribute it to Maureen Dowd from now on.

    Captcha:  face, as in, there is no way to save ____ now.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/03  at  05:27 PM
  19. Paper Lace. Chicago died?  I didn’t even know it was sick!

    And how do we explain the the introduction to this song?:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpV5InLw52U

    capcha:  “figure” as in “go.”

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  05:28 PM
  20. I think that keyboard player looks familiar somehow ...

    A nice memory brought back by that song: one of my proudest moments on the basketball court came when after I drained a fadeaway corner J, one of the guys on the other team said to my defender: “don’t let that white boy do you like that!”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  06/03  at  05:35 PM
  21. And how do we explain the the introduction to this song?:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpV5InLw52U

    ZOMG.  1:00 - 1:15.  Head.  Asploded.

    Just for that, fardels, this.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/03  at  05:50 PM
  22. This could get ugly.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  06/03  at  05:57 PM
  23. Michael, that line rocks so hard (as hard as Wild Cherry!), I sometimes forget that it’s not part of the shared cultural literacy of all liberalhood, nay, of all of Western culture. Someday, I tell you, someday.

    When I was a kid, I had no idea Wild Cherry was so white. Dammit! If only I had realized, I’d have given their spot in my heart away to a deserving funk band of color straightaway.

    Expressly for John Protevi, the Hasselhoffian recursion.

    And now, one of my favorite tunes from around age 9. My sister and I bought the 45 at the drugstore with our allowance.

    Posted by Orange  on  06/03  at  06:10 PM
  24. Orange, talk about your NSFW links! Yikes! And I suppose you’re going to say next that it’s just a coincidence that one of the big tools* in recursion theory is called Lambda calculus**?

    *Oh, no he didn’t! Oh, yes he did. He went there.

    **The formal system*** that dare not speak its name.

    ***h/t Wikipedia.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  06/03  at  06:21 PM
  25. The cruncher, of course, is that Sotomayor was right.  Smart Latinas do make better legal decisions than old white guys, especially in the company of old white guys. 

    The question is, who is best qualified?  Sotomayor beats out a couple of other current members of the Court, at least on paper.  And if that doesn’t scare the footnotes out of Stuart Taylor, I don’t know what does. 

    They’ve been saying that affirmative action means the best qualified person doesn’t get the job for so long that they think it should be so.

    What I want to know is, how can Limbaugh and the Party-Formerly-Known-As-Lincoln’s get by with bitch slapping Latinas around?  Doesn’t anybody have a Latina mother?  Doesn’t anybody with a fist and aim good enough to get Limbaugh’s nose have a mother?

    Posted by Ed Darrell  on  06/03  at  06:47 PM
  26. Judge Sotomayor ruled that the owners of Major League Baseball teams could not exempt themselves from the law of the land by the same fiat that allowed them to assert, unchallenged, their ownership of baseball. If that tiny group of privilege could get one of their own elected President one would think they’d have no trouble shooting down a Supreme Court nomination. ‘Course, they don’t have Marge Schott for their public face any more.

    Captcha: party. Like it’s 1999. Or November 2000.

    Update: also Formerly-Known-As-Lincoln’s.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  07:14 PM
  27. Doesn’t anybody with a fist and aim good enough to get Limbaugh’s nose have a mother?

    Reach, too.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  07:19 PM
  28. And now, one of my favorite tunes from around age 9.

    Wow, talk about rocking so hard!  I think I’ve found my next song for a YouTube drumming clip.

    The cruncher, of course, is that Sotomayor was right.  Smart Latinas do make better legal decisions than old white guys, especially in the company of old white guys.

    Add in the fact that she actually said “a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” and you realize the Terrible Controversial Racist Remark is practically a $%#*ing tautology.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  07:38 PM
  29. “We are all white men in the eyes of Amerika.”

    “In order to survive we steal, cheat, lie, forge, fuck, hide, and deal."

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  06/03  at  07:49 PM
  30. 29: Nice.

    “All your public property is
    Target for your enemy
    And your enemy is
    We
    We are forces of chaos and anarchy
    Everything they say we are we are
    And we are very
    Proud of ourselves”

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  08:53 PM
  31. Feral dachshunds?

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  09:12 PM
  32. You know, it initially bothered me that I somehow recalled that George Stephanopoulos wasn’t a valedictorian.  But then, thanks to Orange’s recursed link and John Protevi’s Lambda calculus reference, I don’t feel nearly so bad about myself.  Thanks, guys.

    And hi, Chris!  Wow, a .jpg as big as our son!* He’s obviously going to follow you into lion taming.

    *Mr. Danby: <a href="...">(link words)</a> is your friend when the web address contains the name of the jpeg file.  Wink, wink.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  10:23 PM
  33. 29: Nice.

    Indeed, it is nice to see Mr. Hottie McLinkypants here again, singing a happy song.  Hi Chris!

    Posted by Michael  on  06/03  at  10:31 PM
  34. Wow, a .jpg as big as our son!* He’s obviously going to follow you into lion taming.

    Wow, that’s one cute kid you gave birth to, mds.  Smiling and apple-cheeked and bright-eyed and OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FEET

    Posted by Michael  on  06/03  at  10:58 PM
  35. OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FEET

    *Sniffle* The doctors say he’ll probably always suffer from charley horses.  Fortunately, his condition is currently stable.  Let me know if you really want me to filly ou in on the details.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  11:49 PM
  36. I can’t resist a wink, mds.

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  12:02 AM
  37. Apropos of nothing much, here’s a little cross-cultural artifact from a few years prior to the first year that it always is. I suspect it’s not something the lads boys (captcha) viewed as a high point in their career.

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  12:09 AM
  38. Gad, Danby, those pictures @ 36 are so hot!  You are now officially my new crush.  Never mind the heartache, yada yada yada.  (One question, though: how do you manage to look so good in all of those hairstyles?)

    By the way, I hope it was obvious that I wasn’t actually trying to school you about links.  But the number of possible computations in the universe is probably finite, and hence that number gets noticeably smaller every time that comment thread has to load your ginormous ghostly jpeg.  So on behalf of far-future civilizations who will find the Bekenstein Bound* looming uncomfortably close, I can’t ever** let you live that one down.

    *Consider it to be an esoteric version of “spacetime in a bottle.”

    **Well, give me a week or so to forget about it completely.

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  12:27 AM
  39. Jeezus, Colin - that Putin “wink” is the creepiest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Makes the Mafia’s kiss on the cheek seem like tiddly winks.

    Since the Hound claims to no longer darken this door (What happened to you, Bérubé? You used to be cool, man!), perhaps it’s safe for me to post a link to this site. Sad news, but excellent music.

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  12:46 AM
  40. My grasp on html is extremely weak.  But I figure now if I screw up a link and this blog vanishes into Hasselhoff space, I can say mds put me up to it.

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  12:58 AM
  41. OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FEET

    A few years ago my friend gave birth to a baby in a hospital. Nobody noticed for over 2 days that the baby had 6 fully formed toes on one foot. Daddy finally noticed it when sitting with the baby next to mom’s hospital bed playing “this little piggy”. True story. I guess someone on the medical staff routinely counting the fingers and toes of newborns is just a myth?

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  02:13 AM
  42. No dissing Focus!!! I’ll go all emo, I swear. I actually own Thijs Van Leer classical albums.

    I saw them live several times in London and Amsterdam in ‘72, including the Melody Maker show and Hocus Pocus is an outlier, although wonderful. IIR, a snippet of Eruption was used as an intro on the BBC radio back in the day.

    Captcha: medical

    Posted by Nat  on  06/04  at  02:37 AM
  43. OG @39—what a loss. Koko was stupendous.

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  06:08 AM
  44. When I matriculated at Dartmouth College in 1977 admissions imposed a quota limiting women to a quarter of the class

    Geez, and I still was waitlisted for the class entering 1980.  No doubt one of those 25% took my rightful spot.  I knew I was a victim of discrimination, somehow!  Now I have 29 years of bitterness to catch up on.

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  12:04 PM
  45. Michael forgot that it is, apparently, also always 1987.

    (WARNING: That link points to a David Broder column. The person posting this comment is not liable for smashed furniture, broken computer screens, or any other damage incurred as a result of reading said column.)

    Posted by  on  06/04  at  12:37 PM
  46. Father Fitzgerald always said that four years of Latin was all you needed to prepare for the world. (I’m class of ‘74.) Saw your blog quoted on Pharyngula, and my eyes bugged out at the mention of our Alma Mater.

    Keep up the good writing. Poke em’ until they moo.

    Posted by  on  06/05  at  12:50 PM
  47. Hey, you’re stealing my conceit!  I posted this on World O’Crap, in, oh, cripes, 2004.

    +++

    It’s amazing to me that Mike Adams lives in an eternal 1989, where Allan Bloom’s _Closing of the American Mind_ is on everybody’s reading list, Dinesh D’Souza is the Next Big Thing, and cretins everywhere are concerned about coed bathrooms. It’s like “Brigadoon” rewritten by Robert Bork.
    FlipYrWhig • 10/27/04; 1:21:19 PM #

    +++

    captcha word:  “center.” As in “will not hold.”

    Posted by  on  06/08  at  01:33 AM
  48. [Source for the above.]

    Posted by  on  06/08  at  01:38 AM
  49. It’s amazing to me that Mike Adams lives in an eternal 1989, where Allan Bloom’s _Closing of the American Mind_ is on everybody’s reading list, Dinesh D’Souza is the Next Big Thing, and cretins everywhere are concerned about coed bathrooms. It’s like “Brigadoon” rewritten by Robert Bork.

    Hey, that’s pretty good stuff.  You should get a blog!

    Also, you totally sold out in 1987.  I stopped paying attention after Zen Arcade.

    Posted by  on  06/08  at  01:37 PM
  50. Hey, that’s pretty good stuff.  You should get a blog!

    Praise from Caesar!  Alas, I have a hectic schedule of dilettantism to maintain. 

    Or, to put it another way, after tenure.

    Posted by  on  06/08  at  03:46 PM
  51. Was it here that I first saw the clip of Hüsker on The Tonight Show, guest-hosted by Joan Rivers, who prodded them about their underground cred?

    Posted by  on  06/08  at  03:48 PM
  52. No, I think that was Iggy Pop.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/08  at  06:44 PM
  53. No,its not ugly.It depends on the person i guess.

    Posted by Serene  on  11/09  at  07:55 AM
  54. 1.  I have much better stuff to keep in bottles, than time.  Even keeping thyme in a bottle makes more sense. 

    2.  Why is it most of the people who complain about women in positions of power and influence seem to have come from places where women are prevented from having power and influence?  I took a brief hiatus from Scouting for graduate school and work.  In that brief period, BSA changed their policies so that women could be leaders, especially Scoutmasters.  When I re-entered Scout leader ranks (there’s a mixed descriptor), I was surprise to find meetings running on time, notes being taken, and clear task lists being executed.  The women did it.

    Women are missing only from the highest ranks of Boy Scouting now—which explains why some of the fossil policies of by-gone years cling on. 

    Raise a toast to Catherine Pollard, the first official woman Scoutmaster in American Scouting.  God willing, there will be many more.

    Did they allow women in the Corps when Rick Perry attended A&M?  I’ll wager they didn’t, and that alone should disqualify him, if his other disqualifications were not so obvious.

    Posted by Ed Darrell  on  11/10  at  01:54 PM
  55. I used to like that song “Time in a Bottle”.

    Posted by Shine  on  12/02  at  09:02 AM
  56. Time in a Bottle...such a sweet song.

    Posted by Marissa@ Braun & Gresham  on  05/13  at  07:28 AM

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