Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

If I was writing a stand-up comedy act:

"My grandmother went to a New Years Eve party with some of her friends -- they ate dinner at 6 and she was home by 10. She didn't understand when I told her that sort of defeats the purpose of a New Years Eve party."

I'm reading the latest issue of Harvard Magazine, available free in a big stack near the law school mailboxes. Here's a brief tour of the highlights.

There's an article about a recent academic conference regarding chimpanzee rights: "[Several speakers] compared the chimpanzees' situation with that of slaves in nineteenth-century America. Going even further, [one speaker] drew an analogy to Nazi Germany: 'We abuse animals to make ourselves feel better, and we justify it,' he said -- just as the Nazis justified their attacks on Jews and the mentally retarded." Uh… okay…

Four pages later, from an article about a lawyer-turned-food critic: "What we need... is a system of graduated fines and perhaps short jail sentences to discourage the production of totally depressing baked goods." If I was a professor and I read that quote, I’d really be tempted to turn it into an exam question. “The legislature in the state of Ames has decided to make the production of inferior baked goods a crime. Starbucks sues the government, challenging the constitutionality of the law. The only other cases in the jurisdiction are Hawkins v. McGee and Erie. Discuss in 700 words or less.”

From an ad: "Yoshiko offers hand fabricated jewelry." Does hand fabricated mean it's all in your hand's imagination?

From another ad: "The combination you’ve been waiting for. Single-family style living. For age 62-plus." Not the combination I've been waiting for. In fact there are ads for at least five different “elderly housing communities” in the magazine. I guess that’s the readership of Harvard Magazine. They all call themselves different things: "retirement community," "accredited life care community," "assisted living retirement community," "life-care retirement," and, "where you go when you’re done with all that being alive stuff."

The Harvard Calendar announces a "Mineral Madness Family Festival" at the Museum of Natural History along with a "drop-in winter scavenger hunt." Mineral madness? Ooh! Sign me up!

An interesting article about liberal political essayist Hendrik Hertzberg that has not one line in it that I can take out of context and make seem either stupid or funny. A very good read, actually. In all honesty, Harvard magazine seems like a great example of what an alumni magazine can be. The Princeton Alumni Weekly, which I get in return for my four years of undergraduate tuition, is a less great example, usually featuring a cover story about Princeton's new Director of [Fill in the Blank -- Public Safety, Financial Development, Janitorial Services, Undergraduate Binge-Drinking, Cafeteria Waste Distribution], an article about some big lacrosse game that took place eight months ago, and pages upon pages of death notices.

But back to the Harvard magazine. "When I conceived Barbie... I believed it was important to a little girl's self-esteem to play with a doll that has breasts." I swear I am not making that quote up. Page 47, if you don't believe me.

"Harvard's fiscal year 2002 revenues and expenses yielded the $70.4 million surplus... given the immediate situation, said [the VP of finance], Harvard's schools are 'very conscious of the need to moderate expense growth tremendously.'" I guess $70.4 million isn't enough?

"Though she calls him 'an inspiration and role model like no other,' [female basketball player] Hana Peljto's uniform number [23] was not chosen to match Michael Jordan's." And in related news, the forty-three cents in my pocket has no relation to the fact that George Bush is our forty-third President.

In an advertisement for Harvard's Office of Gift Planning: "One really can't help being caught up in what's going on with Harvard's libraries." Is that really the best they can do? I can think of at least ten better reasons to give money to Harvard than to help make the libraries better. In fact...

Ten Better Reasons to Give Money To Harvard Than to Help Make the Libraries Better
10. The 2002 surplus of $70.4 million makes you worried about Harvard's future.
9. The Rockefellers refused your help and you were looking for an equally impoverished place to give money to.
8. Coming soon: The "In Memory of John Smith" handicapped bathroom stall.
7. If only the water fountains dispensed champagne...
6. No more room under the bed for your wads of cash.
5. Better return than the stock market.
4. Yale rejected you. This is your form of payback.
3. No real passion about giving money to help doctors find a cure for anything.
2. Already sponsoring every child in Africa. Now just need a college for them all to go to.
1. Meant to write "Heart Association" on check; bad penmanship made it look like "Harvard"

In the classifieds section: "Cambridge furnished apartment. Two bedrooms, two baths. Perfect for visiting professor." Huh? Too small for a tenured professor?

And, finally, the personals. "A younger dark-haired more radiant Jane Fonda. Thin, smart, stunning... stands out in a crowd." Doesn't say modest. Another ad: "...written children's book for 9-11 families..." Yes, I know what she probably means, but wouldn't it be funny if she actually meant her children's book sold about 10 copies?

Okay, that's all I've got today. Hope this was at least semi-entertaining.