A Letter To His Grandfather.

Jacques Barzun is dead. He died late last year at age 104 and his family’s loss is barely greater than our loss. Barzun is one of my heroes and has been that since about 1970 when I first heard of him. His was a gigantic intellect and no one can fail to appreciate his writings if one takes the trouble. His grandson Charles has found a perfect way to communicate with Barzun even now. The letter is both a touching tribute and a...

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Seminal Moments

1. I am 14-years old, Don Kagan is 16-years old. He is about 18 months older than I. We are standing around outside the community center playground of the H.E.S. [Hebrew Educational Society], with our mentor, Adolf Dembo. Adolf is holding forth, as he often does, on a variety of good topics and suddenly he asks, “What is the purpose of education?” Fortunately, he is looking at Don, sparing me some embarrassment. Immediately,...

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Cost Of An Education At Our Institutions Of Higher Learning

Technical explanations of the cost of a college education are well beyond my expertise but I am sure I understand at least a part of the story. There are 371,164 persons on college campuses across the land. They are well paid because 31.7% of them are professors, 27.4% are associate professors, 25.1% are assistant professors and only 6.6% fill the low rank of instructor. 7.4% are lecturers and something called “No rank” make up the...

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A Most Distinguished Institution

For the longest time now, I have defended Harvard as at least equal in quality to the 3rd rate land grant colleges in the South. Perhaps i rushed to judgment, perhaps I did not consider enough factors. I certainly overlooked the fact that undergraduates at Harvard are mainly a bunch of crooks. Considering how small the undergraduate school of Arts and Sciences is – 6400 students – [Most of Harvardians are in Graduate schools, the...

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“I Am Shocked, Deeply Shocked”

Movie goers will recognize and grin on recalling the above line as spoken by Louie (played by Claude Rains) in the film, CASABLANCA. Claude was ably supported in small roles by Paul Henreid, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson and, probably, Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, if you care to call the crap of the latter two “support.” Louie was expressing fake dismay upon learning Rick’s CafĂ© (owned...

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I’m Glad You Asked

A gentleman wrote to ask me to confirm the accuracy of a rule he learned by somebody who bills herself as THE GRAMMAR MONSTER. I am sorry to say the monster blundered. The query from my friend: Is this site correct? The monster advised: TREAT ACRONYMS LIKE WORDS NOT ABBREVIATIONS She said, ‘An acronym is an abbreviation that is spoken like a word, e.g., BUPA, FOD, FEDEX....

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