House of Cards: PLSC 101

Let’s be honest with ourselves: nobody at Yale actually wants to be a political scientist. Writing papers, going to conferences, sending out surveys made up of questions like, “On a 1 to 10 scale, how racist are you, honestly?” — it doesn’t seem too glamorous, but we knew that. No, Yale’s political science majors are in it to win it, and by “it,” I mean, a seat in the United States Congress. We thought our poli sci classes were enough to get us there, and we’re sure that we learned something of value writing that 18-page term paper on election fraud in Moldova, but nowhere have we learned as much about success in politics as we have from “House of Cards.”

Face it: Kevin Spacey is a better political science lecturer than just about anyone else here at Yale. Gaddis gets butterflies when Frank Underwood turns to the camera and explains that success in politics is all about having sex with people and then throwing them under trains. Clausewitz who? And the best thing about PLSC 101: House of Cards? There’s no final.

Contact David Whipple at


Girls on “Life”

Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna arrived at their Thursday night section for the popular philosophy class, “Life”, unprepared (mostly due to their consistent absence in lecture). Instead of completing the assigned readings, the Girls believed they could rely the richness of their limited life experience … except for Marnie, who had already completed the entire semester’s reading.

The TF first asked the class about the relationship between love and friendship, and Marnie immediately offered up her expertise.

“So, I actually just got out of a long relationship with someone who I now understand to be completely incompetent named Charlie, but through some pretty intense self-reflection and discovery, I’d say I have a kind of enlightened point of view on this. I can see now that the love in friendship is much more durable and forgiving than love in romantic relationships. I have been through sooo much with my group of friends, and even though we have our ups and downs — sorry again, Shosh, about sleeping with Ray — we are all here for one another! I think that after what happened between me and Ray, when Shoshanna and I had a total heart-to-heart, we’ve never been closer!”

Marnie then made analogy between herself and Shoshanna and Plato and Aristotle, but no one really understood. The next question up for discussion was whether students would continue to work if the necessity of income did not exist. Hannah eagerly took the opportunity to discuss the personal issues that this very conflict brings her on a daily basis.

“As a writer whose job opportunities have not yet allowed me appropriate creative license, I know what it’s like to constantly be working without the recognition of pay. I mean, I work very hard to keep up with my writing. I feel as though I live my life as a writer, so I take the time to write every night because it’s my talent and my passion. Someday my work will reach people in a really profound way…”

Before Hannah could finish her thought, the TF decided it was time to move on with the discussion (after all, this had nothing to do with Aristotle). The next question asked was about the value of having children. Shoshanna somehow misinterpreted the question to be about her childhood experience, which confused both her and the rest of the section.

“Wait, so, like, are you asking about whether or not I’ve progressed as a person since childhood? I mean, yeah, I would say I def have. My parents have always reminded me how vocal I was as a child, and that that’s a skill I’ll be able to use in the business world. Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, but apparently, less social children are more likely to become socially successful adults, and I think I’m a really good example of that.”

Everyone snickered, but, strangely, Jessa came to Shosanna’s defense. Before the TF could stop her, she stood up and announced class was a “complete waste of time” and questioned why anyone should “take advice on living from a bunch of nerds who sit in all day, with their noses in pointless, elitist literature.”

They all failed to receive participation points for section.

Contact Caroline Hart at


A Netflix Guide to Springtime

If you too are easing your way back into Yale after spring break reclusion, watching Netflix, drinking wine and cuddling may be just the ticket to stepping out onto the social scene. (As for me, this is a semi-permanent phase preceding my début). While you make your re-entry, here are some suggestions for Netflix streaming shows old and new to suit your ever-changing vernal mood:

1. “Twin Peaks” — what could be more fitting to watch in springtime? The dewy evergreens, the overcast skies, the plashing rain (did I mention moisture?) will provide the perfect thematic complement to April showers. Other things recommend this show. There are dancing dwarves. There is a young Kyle McLachlan, who went on to play Brie’s evil ex on “Desperate Housewives.” There is budding sensual adolescent love galore, and there is murder — what more could you ask for?

2. Well, humor. David Lynch doesn’t exactly have that in spades. So if you’re looking for a good laugh that the whole family can enjoy, you can’t go wrong watching “Parks and Recreation.” When you watch, you just might feel a modified version of what small-town petty politician Leslie Knopes so well describes during one of her mockumentary end-of-episode monologues: “How does [watching “Parks and Rec”] make me feel? Amazing. Tingling sensation throughout my whole body. I feel flushed. My muscles are relaxed yet I feel awake. Just waves of pleasure.”

3.  If you’re looking to ride those waves to the West Coast Best Coast of reality television, my personal choice is “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” A pleasure cruise of a television show, to retain the metaphor. Once upon a time, I thought quite critically of the Kardashian family. To my untrained eye, Kim was a gold digger, Kris a stage parent. The list went on. But watch the show and you will be amazed — the truth is, the Kardashians are people just like anyone else (minor caveats: they make more money than most people; they have TV shows made in their honor), and, at the end of the day, family comes first for the clan. They remind you to never forget who you are, where you come from, and what not to wear. Humanizing, humorous chicken soup for the soul on a rainy spring day.

Contact Andrew Koenig at