Shaffer: Death of a Yale Man

February 26, 2010
This Sunday marks two years since the death of William F. Buckley, Jr. ’50, writer, conservative icon and Yale Man. I got to see Buckley as a freshman at a Yale Political Union debate on Nov. 1, 2006. The cavalier alumnus insisted on “Resolved: The Democratic Candidates for November 7th Should Withdraw.” He would accept »

Shaffer: Much ado about hipsters

February 19, 2010
I have a love-hate relationship with hipsters. I love them, and they hate me. Hipsters are the cultural phenomenon of our time. Everybody talks about them, but nobody understands them. Remember when you heard your parents were young adults in the 60s and 70s, and you asked them if they were hippies? Remember how you »

Shaffer: A critical education

February 12, 2010
There’s a great joke in The Record. It’s a fake letter that goes like this: “Dear Directed Studies Freshman, Thank you for your criticisms of Thus Spake Zarathustra. Gee, I guess I really hadn’t thought that through. Yours, Friedrich Nietzsche.” The joke hits me hard as I write my senior thesis on Nietzsche, and it »

Shaffer: Self, death, love

February 5, 2010
Like every other great empire in history, America’s decline is hastened by the sexual license of its elite. Yale University, a cesspool of sin, has become a nexus of dirty dancing, sexual exploration and worse. The YSFP table tent says: “Do not throw rose petals in your bathtub for a romantic rendezvous. They’re covered with »

Shaffer: Lose faith in government

January 29, 2010
As President Obama pointed out in his State of the Union address, fewer Americans than ever before have faith in their government. I consider this a highly encouraging trend. Walking in the Branford courtyard shortly after Obama’s election was called, I heard chants of “Yes we did!” reverberating from Old Campus. I went to High »

Shaffer: The Ordinary American

January 22, 2010
My fellow cognoscenti, a specter is haunting the East Coast — the specter of the ordinary American. Middle-class, Christian, sometimes mid-western, invariably poorly dressed, he has the nerve to have his own opinions about things, without our permission, without even consulting us. As such, he poses a grave danger to our democracy, nay, to our »

Shaffer: Educating for the good life

January 11, 2010
If you are a senior, you have only days to switch to a major in the humanities. If you’re not a senior, you have more time, but you should do so immediately anyway. There is much superficial factionalism between the humanities and sciences. The scientist ridicules the humanist, claiming that chemical synthesis is a phallogocentric »

Shaffer: Responsibly P.C.

December 1, 2009
The distinguishing feature of a political question is that every side gets it wrong. This is the case with political correctness. There are two mistakes to be made. The first is to reject it completely. The second is to mistreat those who do. Consider the simplest possible example, gender-neutral language. A lot of evidence indicates »

Shaffer: Going rogue

November 16, 2009
On the eve of the release of Sarah Palin’s new book, the consensus is that she’s a nut. I have a dirty secret. I’ve tried to hide it, tried to keep it in. But now I have to let it out. I like Sarah Palin. Don’t judge. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Honestly, »

Shaffer: Smokers are people, too

November 6, 2009
Everybody blames the smokers. One little fire in Branford and the hegemonic, white-lunged majority hurls hatred at a threatened and dwindling, black-lunged minority. The comments on the News’ Web site disturb me. One poster, an anonymous coward, even used the slur “hipster.” That hurt. Then things got worse. Last week, Julie Kunrath SPH ’11 lashed »

Shaffer: Cartoonist tactless, not hateful

October 6, 2009
The cartoon that brought Kurt Westergaard fame and infamy portrays the prophet Muhammad wearing a turban concealing a bomb. I find the cartoon tasteless and obnoxious. It oversimplifies a complex issue that warrants nuanced thought. It takes aim at and misrepresents somebody not present to defend himself. And it does not treat its object with »

Shaffer: Challenge yourself to learn

September 22, 2009
It is the peculiar nature of humans that, of all the animals, we are simultaneously the most insistent upon proclaiming our commitment to truth and the most devoted to preserving our cherished illusions. All of us are universally raised and inculcated — by our parents, our teachers, our journalists and our society at large — »