MEDANSKY: Presidents and precedents

March 29, 2012 • 3
“The History of our Revolution,” wrote John Adams in 1790, “will be one continued lye from one end to the other. The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklin’s electric rod smote the earth and out sprang General Washington. Then Franklin electrified him, and thence forward those two conducted all the Policy, Negotiations, »

MEDANSKY: Forgetting birthdays and buying cupcakes

March 1, 2012 • 7
Unlike the 18th birthday — that due moment of pomp and circumstance that triggers the right to vote for office and die for country — the 19th birthday confers no particular responsibility. It passes relatively unnoticed. Consider the ghost of your birthdays past: the cultural milestones of double-digits, the bar or bat mitzvah, the quinceanera, »

MEDANSKY: Abraham Lincoln: Hunting for more than vampires

February 16, 2012 • 2
The great Illinois poet Carl Sandburg — the scribe of his big-shouldered city — published “Chicago Poems” in 1916. A prolific non-fiction author and poet, Sandburg wrote volumes upon volumes chronicling the childhood and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln — a fellow man of the Midwest—fascinated him, and Sandburg’s fascination spawned one of his »

MEDANSKY: Limited autism discourse

February 2, 2012 • 674
“Touch,” a new television series premiering this week on Fox, centers on the experiences of Jake, an enigmatic 11-year-old boy endowed with dazzling mathematical abilities and a profound sense of isolation. He doesn’t talk, either; Jake’s father must navigate his son’s world in silence. Previous descriptions of the show explicitly described Jake as autistic, but »

MEDANSKY: Running away from the glass ceiling

January 19, 2012 • 5
In 1872, Victoria Woodhull ran for president of the United States. At least, she tried to run. A newspaper-publishing, stock-exchanging and pot-stirring advocate for sexual liberty and women’s suffrage, Woodhull nabbed the nomination of the historically dubious Equal Rights Party. Her bid was questionable, and, ever the rabble-rouser, Woodhull spent Election Day behind bars. Alas, »

MEDANSKY: Freeing up our speech

November 16, 2011 • 3
With all this talk about free speech at Yale, it’s worth considering what free speech actually sounds like. The study of rhetoric used to be a big deal in the days of Old Yale. In 1807, Timothy Dwight, then Yale’s president, taught a senior-level study of rhetoric. Dwight required every student in his class to »

MEDANSKY: When weird doors open

November 1, 2011 • 2
A friend of mine from high school recently posted a David Sedaris quote as her Facebook status. I consider myself a fan of David Sedaris in the way that many people, myself included, consider themselves fans of “This American Life” or Shatner-era “Star Trek.” Sure, I’m broadly familiar with Sedaris’s work — some paragraphs here »

MEDANSKY: Musings on a Chicken Tenders Day

October 21, 2011 • 4
Yesterday was Chicken Tenders Day. All 12 residential colleges served hand-breaded chicken tenders lovingly paired with barbeque sauce, duck sauce and honey mustard dip — the last of which, despite its name, is probably still technically a sauce. I like Yale’s chicken tenders. They’re pretty good in their own right, and especially good when compared »

MEDANSKY: Jobs joins the iCloud

October 6, 2011 • 16
Yesterday, Steve Jobs — the American inventor and entrepreneur famous for his user-friendly philosophy, charisma and signature black turtlenecks — passed away. Jobs, best known for his involvement founding and leading a little start-up called Apple Computer, had been battling cancer since 2004. When Jobs died, Apple released a statement on its website. I found »

MEDANSKY: Justice ill served

September 22, 2011 • 3
On Wednesday night, the Internet demanded justice. Somewhere in the small town of Rosebush, Mich. — a tiny community of less than 400 citizens — sat Amy Bruce, a 7-year-old girl allegedly dying of terminal illness. Her family was strapped for cash, her medical bills were unpaid. So Amy became an online sensation: Every time »

MEDANSKY: Blue Book, we hardly knew ye

September 15, 2011 • 4
The Yale Daily News recently reported on the demise of the hard-copy Blue Book (“Blue book in its last year,” Sept. 12). No longer will Yale mail that fabled navy tome en masse to many an eager student. The College will instead enhance its virtual course catalogues: the Online Course Selection system and the YCC-backed »

MEDANSKY: Learning to say “maybe”

September 6, 2011 • 4
In 1982, Nancy Reagan introduced a powerful and oft-parodied phrase into the American lexicon: “Just say no.” Armed with perfectly coiffed hair and perfectly padded shoulders, Mrs. Reagan visited middle school auditoriums and talk show sets alike, her script a simple message: if someone wants you — yes, you, right over there — to experiment »