Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Best Lead of the Month

'To the terrors of public speaking--the dry throat, the nervous bladder, the fear that your notes are not in your pocket (even though two copies were there, and a third one folded into your shoe, when you checked 30 seconds ago, and a minute ago, and a minute and 30 seconds ago...), the fear that no one will show up to hear you, the desperate hope that no one will show up to hear you, concern that your material will fill about 20 minutes of the hour you are expected to entertain, alarm that you'll only be halfway through that same material when your hour runs out and the fellow in the first row starts looking exaggeratedly at his watch and making mad decapitation gestures, mental self-abuse and visions of Alzheimer's because you cannot remember that fellow's name even though you just spent two hours at dinner with him--and he is wearing a large badge (you cannot read the badge, which is a relief because it means that you are wearing your reading glasses, something that otherwise would also be weighing on your mind as the moment approaches)--to all these and more must be added a new horror: You might be introduced by Lee Bollinger.'
--From Michael Kinsley, writing recently in The New Republic. Bollinger, of course, is the cowardly president of Columbia University, who in introducing Iran's president as a campus speaker apparently felt he had to prove to the Israel lobby that he can be just as recklessly, mindlessly jingoistic as George Bush. The only problem is that he's supposed to be representing a university, supposedly a place where intellectual inquiry reigns. The most bitter irony of all, and too little remarked upon, we think, is that his academic specialty is...the First Amendment. To review earlier Best Leads, go here, here, here, here, here and here.


At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Mädchen said...

Well, I thought the most interersting--and unsettling--aspect of that incident is what it said about Bollinger's perception of his own students: they're too brain dead, or aren't mature enough to be trusted with, the challenge of taking the speaker to task. What an over the top slap in the face to them. They should all transfer to the University of Tehran.

Well, here's a tidbit for your readers, who seem to be keeping quite a low profile comment-wise (perhaps they've been mesmerized by revisiting the Sharon Reed report on Spencer Tunick).

This is from the LA Times. Word geneticists will find it intriguing. We don't think of words as fighting for survival, but according to this piece, they very much want to stay alive as long as they can...,1,3635612.story?coll=la-news-science

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Mädchen said...

btw, I'm not sure that Sharon Reed link you provided is working. Perhaps 19 is on to you...

At 7:50 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Well said about Bollinger. And thanks for the LA Times link. Interesting piece.


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