Kickin’ around the Nass office late one night, we thought we saw the face of the Virgin Mary on a sofa cushion, but up close it looked more like David Patterson, so we just decided to flip it. Then somebody suggested we do a PrinceWatch, as it had after all been a while since the last edition. As a rule, we don’t actually like doing these because it means we actually have to read the *Daily Princetonian*, a task somewhere on the to-do list between colonic irrigation and preparing Virgin Mary shaped stains for sale on Ebay.com. After all, what’s good for Meg Whitman is good for Princeton right?
But we digress. PrinceWatch, for those of you unfamiliar with this mode of watchdogery, is when the Nass staff gets together and talks about how much the writing style or journalistic standards of the *Daily Princetonian* don’t match our ideologies or ideas about how a paper should look like. Well, you get the drift. Enjoy!
*”What to do for the Women”*
*by Molly Alarcon, November 19th, 2009*
This is an amazing article. So amazing in fact that it deserves to be savored line by line, but our lawyer, Doogie, informs us that this would be copyright infringement, so we’ll just hit the highlights.
“We all should be a little concerned that there are no female eating club presidents and that no female students ran for freshman class president this year. Having a lack of women in these positions of power doesn’t match what we believe.” While a strong opening statement on any timed TOFEL examination, we must question whether this noble sentiment, thus articulated, belongs in any document to be read by anything other than a machine in Des Moines. One does not have a lack, particularly when one wishes to communicate the sense of total absence. “Women lack power…” or “Lacking powerful women…” or “An absence of powerful women…” or even “Having so few women in positions of power,”–these would all be acceptable versions, but let us not dwell on this. There are greater sins to be mourned, like the realization that “having this lack” does not “*match* what we believe.”
“The recent Shriver Report, produced by Maria Shriver in conjunction with the Center for American Progress, celebrates how far our society has come in embracing women in a wide variety of societal roles. Women still face discrimination, unequal pay and institutional barriers that keep us down…” Perhaps Alarcon could not find Maria Shriver in the thesaurus, but frankly any description of who she is or why she might matter would be more interesting than just repeating the name. This is particularly important if you wish to talk about female empowerment, as she is someone primarily known for being born a Kennedy and marrying a movie star. As these are not the paths to success that Alarcon advocates, some further information is needed. In short, describe her activism; tell us why should we care. Also: what are societal roles? Is it the roles or the variety that’s significant? Most important, as all considerations of content depend first and foremost on clarity: Don’t refer to women in the third person for two paragraphs and then suddenly switch to the first (and in the conclusion, to the second).
“Today, I proceed with the assumption that in general, in the abstract and especially here on campus, we support the idea of equality between the genders. As a result, I think we all had trouble explaining why, here on campus, no women ran for freshman class president and no eating clubs have female presidents. We continue to be puzzled by the lack of female class and USG presidents, though they clearly hold positions of power elsewhere on campus.”
*In general*, but not *in the abstract*, while sitting *on this campus* trying to read this I am simply confused *on campus*. We are puzzled on the campus by things we don’t understand and would rather not think about on the campus.
“We agree that it doesn’t feel right. It makes men on campus feel like somehow they’ve done something wrong, and it makes women on campus frustrated. Since it’s hard to pinpoint the root of the problem, it’s hard to propose a clear solution,” but we shall proceed to do just that, sort of, in spite of our crippling guilt and frustration.
“But we can do a number of things to make sure that our everyday actions reflect our ideological commitments to women as equal participants in campus life.” Aha, perhaps she does have the answer after all then. We at the Nass are all for “ideological commitments” not only to women, but also to Ross Perot’s vision for America and to the annihilation of poor syntax. Tell us what to do, sister!
“First…When [women] reach for that second slice of pizza or consider running for president of an organization, empower them by supporting their decisions…” At the risk of sounding trivial, doesn’t this sound rather…trivial?
“A lot of women don’t have as much self-esteem as they’d like. What causes this is extremely complicated. Fortunately, it’s easy for you, right now, to validate a woman you care about.” We will validate you [-r worth], if you *support* us in our claim that this daily rag should be shuttered in the name of all that is holy. What causes such ideological convictions to foment in our hearts is not extremely complicated, but we won’t risk bringing further clarity to our argument by addressing them here.
“Second: Ask them…to run for a position of power on campus. Ask them to do so. Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio Secretary of State…believes that a lot of what determines whether or not a woman will run for office is whether or not she is asked by the powers that be. Let’s be honest: A lot of leadership positions in student groups here are handed down. Sure, elections may occur, but for the most part, there is an informal process through which the outgoing leader implicitly or explicitly designates his or her successor. This is probably less true for eating clubs and USG, but it would still make a difference if these officeholders encouraged women to replace them.” To say nothing of the fact that this passage reflects a deep and abiding ignorance of USG election precedent (semi-official endorsements, botched voting, and resigning overseers have been the norm in recent years), this call for encouragement seriously undercuts the principles of feminism. In politics (as in life), almost all candidates for important offices are selected via top-down nomination. It is also not surprising, given the ingrained prejudices of our times, that most of these patronage networks are testicle-festivals. On the one hand, asking politely for these prejudices to go away is par for the course in terms of policy when we consider the kinds of rigorous analysis we’ve come to expect from the Wilson School. On the other, however, the gendered implication of her suggestion should offend women everywhere. Women, apparently, don’t need to encourage each other or to speak up for themselves, because if they give off the right signals, *he* will be sure to call.
“Third: Respect female space. This one’s for the guys. Don’t go number two in the women’s bathroom on your floor because you’re too lazy to go downstairs to your own bathroom.” In the subsequent elaboration of basic courtesy, the author flirts with the suggestion that certain forms of discourtesy take on new meanings in gendered contexts. This potentially interesting lead, which could even include a look at the gender divide in the political spheres of schools who have decided to go to the loo *mixed-gender-style*, is sadly not developed here. Instead, the reader is left with the vaguely argued claim that women require special rules, spaces, and protections in everyday life.
“Fourth, for the ladies: Stop apologizing so much.” Sorry, Lady Nass does not apologize.
There is a great deal going on in this article. Space in particular is an interesting theme here, both local and cosmic. The repeated invocation of the phrase “on campus” and the twice-trumpeted claim that women are “deserving of the world’s space” suggest a battle for material existence, but one sadly that will have to wait for further explication, because it’s time for…
*”What are we gonna do with our lives?!”*
*by Eric Kang [a math major from Christchurch, New Zealand], November 30, 2009*
Ok, first of all King Kang: what the hell is Christchurch, New Zealand? What the hell are we going to do about that? It’s hard for me to take your article seriously if you’re honestly going to make up some word made up of two related words and suggest that 1) it’s a real place (it isn’t); 2) you’re from it (you’re not; it’s not real); and 3) it’s in New Zealand, which isn’t nearly stupid enough to have a place named that (because it doesn’t; it’s not real). What next? You were raised in Jesusmanger? Your parents are from Christonacrutchvaticanpopegoodbookgraceland?
But back to the issue at hand. You write:
“I thought my life was made. I don’t know if you’ve seen “The Firm” with Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman, but I thought it was going to be like that: all sorts of prestigious firms lining up with crazy offers to recruit me. Applying for jobs? What? What even is that?”
What even is *that*? Princeton isn’t going to solve your life problems–you’ve got that one down–but it sure as shit isn’t going to fix that awkward writing of yours. “What even is that?” I don’t know what age you would have to be to think that that’s not awkward phrasing. 12? 89?
“But who knew it would be THIS hard? I know we’re just barely recovering from a recession and all, but still, come on, are we that unemployable, unskilled and useless to society?”
You act like a “recession” was a “toothache” or a “knee scrape” or a “really tiny bruise on your index finger.” It’s more like an “avalanche” or a “world explosion” or a “saber tooth tiger the size of a thousand Godzillas.” It’s going to take a long time to recover from this recession, buddy, and the reason there aren’t as many jobs as before? Maybe it has to do with the fist the size of a meteor that just punched us in the face.
Also, have you applied for a job at Burger King? We’re not unemployable. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. And the Upper East Side will always have petulant teens in desperate need of some pricey, private, *Princeton-educated* tutoring.
“Based on my conversations with several people in the industry…”
I will always, *always* believe the second clause of a sentence that begins with something as vague as “based on this verbal thing that I’m not citing and probably was not written down (or committed to) with people who I’m not saying are officials because they’re probably not (otherwise I would have said it) in the ‘vague name for whatever area I’m talking about.'” The vaguer you get, the more credible whatever you’re about to say sounds. And what were you about to say?
“Based on my conversations with several people in the industry, the number of Princetonian applicants for each of the top management consulting firms is between 300 to 600, for one to nine spots.” How can your best guess be between 300 and 600, when a Princeton class has only 1,200 students, give or take? It would be like if you woke up from a coma after being rescued from a boating accident, and a whole team of doctors said, “Mr. Smith, a shark has eaten between 25 and 50% of your body.”
If these people are reliable enough to be cited anonymously, how can they not know which it is?
If it actually varies that widely each year, a curious person would at the very least ask why.
“Networking events are even worse. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure all you prettied-up girls are smiling because those VPs and M.D.s are such fascinating and captivating conversationalists–the same guys you’d consider as some creepy 40-somethings if they were to glance for a moment at your skirts at any other occasion.” What the hell is the second half of this passage? “[T]he same guys you’d consider as some creepy 40-somethings”–there are much, much easier ways to say this. How did your writing get so awkward? Was it the kid who always got hit in the face with a handball in elementary school? Did it have braces through its first years of college? Also, any guy who would glance *at* my skirt on *any* occasion I would think is *gay*, not creepy. A guy who glances *up my skirt* or glances *at my ass* I would think is creepy. And what the fuck is “prettied-up”?
“We’re never going to know exactly what the hell we’re going to do with our lives, and frankly, we probably don’t want to.”
I love reading pieces where the answer to the titular question is “I have no idea” and the concluding sentence is “Things are going to shit, what’re ya gonna do?” In the time I spent reading this piece, I could’ve bought you the finest of gourmet cheeses to go with this whine.
*”Christian leaders sign manifesto”*
*by Wonpyo Yun, November 25, 2009*
Apparently last month several dozen right-wing clergy from the Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical churches signed onto a little manifesto penned by our own dear Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman Endowed Chair of Interfaith Cooperation and Constitutional Law Robert George. The Prince got wind of this, nearly a week after the fact, and ran a story quoting at length both the document, the so-called “Manhattan Declaration,” and its author. (The name “Manhattan Doctrine” was of course chosen to honor George’s favorite cinematographer and personal hero Woody Allen.)
The act proclaims:
“We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.”
This would be fine, except that as its initial signatories are all clerics, a professional category generally passed over when an abortion is what’s needed. In fact, it’s not at all clear from Yun’s article what the point of the document actually is. In one sense, the endeavor is completely symbolic (i.e. pointless). Obviously Robert George, the bishops, CEO/Arch-whatevers of such and such seminary don’t like abortions. The article blandly notes that George hopes “people will read the document and join as signatories.” At the time of writing, the declaration’s website claims that the “Manhattan Declaration” has over 200,000 signatories. Big whoop.
What’s really at stake here, of course, is the right wing’s opposition to hate crimes legislation, conscience clauses that allow doctors to opt out of performing certain procedures, and other legal protections for those thrown under the tires and dragged by the fenders of theocracy. Is this a debate about which the Prince cares to enlighten its readers? Not really.
*”Students flock to new Princeton FML site”*
*by Molly Brean, November 30, 2009*
Sometimes I wonder what the *Prince’s* motto would be, if like any other daily currently in existence, it had one. Today I think it would be: “This thing happened.”
In this inspiring piece, Ms Brean reports on the generation of a forum that takes uselessness and radical idiocy to new levels: a Princeton edition FML blog. Here’s the example she cites:
“Today, Princeton has a $12.6 billion endowment, and the foosball table in Forbes is being held together by 2 plastic pens. FML.”
I don’t know how you even begin to consider a passage like this–especially on a topic you’re covering for a daily–without acknowledging the incompetence of its anonymous writer. “This thing that belongs to an institution is falling apart. Fuck my life.” Fuck *my* life? Why fuck *your* life? It’s not something that *happened* to you. Princeton didn’t *gyp* you out of that money. This “FML” makes zero sense, unless this anonymous posting is from the University itself. “You guys, my utilities suck and students are unhappy. Fuck my life.” That–though completely insane–makes slightly more sense. Can we at least agree on the parameters of the first person singular? A Harvard freshman started the Princeton FML blog–thanks man!–and told Ms Brean, “College FMLs provide students with an anonymous forum to share their thoughts and feelings with each other … I think this desire to communicate anonymously exists at a lot of colleges, so I’m working on starting College FMLs at schools across the country.”
Does no one remember Juicy Campus? Thanks for the Princeton FML blog, but we already have a blog that caters to students’ “desire to communicate anonymously.” It’s called juicycampus.com, or the *Prince* comments’ page, or the bathroom walls in Firestone, or any kind of word-of-mouth whatsoever.
If I were to create a website specifically for Princeton on which humorously embarrassing anecdotes could be posted, my defense of it wouldn’t be, “Kids need a forum. That’s what I gave ’em.” I’d say something a little more specific, something that related to the thing it was that I had started, not to the medium as a whole. If I were asked why I liked the *New York Times*, I wouldn’t say it was because they print words on a lot of pieces of paper. I’d allude to something like “news” or “matters” or some shit. Did this Harvard kid even try?
Seriously though, can we get back to how moronic these FML posters are? Another kid writes, “I went to Fruity Yogurt. I bought $7.42 worth of taro-flavored yogurt. The cashier was new. He charged $4,111,180 to my credit card. FML.” Buddy, you could’ve inserted the “FML” way earlier. For example:
“I went to Fruity Yogurt. I bought $7.42–.”
You spent how much now on frozen yogurt? Are you fucking serious? That’s like trading a $20 bill for a handful of pennies. $7.42?
“I went to Fruity Yogurt. I bought $7.42 worth of taro-flavored yogurt.”
What the fuck is “taro-flavored yogurt”? And how could you possibly justify spending more than $2.50 on it?
Is it made of gold and sewn together by *God*? Is there a five dollar surcharge for ingredients that are just completely imaginary?
These are not questions Ms Brean chooses to address. Just the facts, Jack–and she uncovers in her resounding exposé that there’s a group of students that voluntarily monitors this monstrous exercise in stupidity, who “said they want to remain anonymous.” I can’t imagine why.
*”The idea of a University” [sic]*
*by Brendan Carroll, November 25, 2009*
We were surprised to see that a *Prince* writer who recently asserted that “Princeton students are busier than God,” (Nov. 18, 2009) has found the time to wander around campus overanalyzing and demanding the removal of clichéd expressions, much less time to pick a fight over semantics with Ricardo Luna, former Peruvian ambassador to the UN, but there you are.
“There is a rather obnoxious quotation in the Frist Campus Center,” begins Carroll, “by someone named Ricardo Luna, to the effect that, ‘It’s not just the campus memories that link us together. It’s the values we share.’ That’s false.”
Carroll contends that Princeton’s “values” amount to no more than compliance with federal laws that protect “the usual grabbag of shielded persons,” and that this compliance does not make “a very strong statement at all.” His unanticipated statement, however, does give a strong indication of the erratic course things have and will continue to take throughout the piece.
His bizarre obsession with Luna’s trite remark taken out of context is then overtaken by his bizarre obsession with a low-budget wank-mag. Here we move into a very lengthy discussion of a glamour rag recently launched by a Harvard graduate, which featured in its inaugural issue a frequent Nass contributor. When we say lengthy, we are not kidding. We are talking 455 words out of 802 devoted to a glamour magazine; that’s more than half the article. Carroll, who apparently has a serious problem with pornography no matter how uninspiring, seems to be of the opinion that because one free spirit took her top off for a lark, Princeton University–a “she” throughout the article–has no values.
He makes the leap of identifying the University’s purported amorality with that of the magazine by pointing to the positive comments left by scores of readers on a *Prince* web story about our contributor’s shoot. Why this is a valid parallel is left a mystery, as he then proceeds to qualify his comparison by noting “the comments box at the Daily Princetonian is without doubt the most insipidly moronic corner of this University.” As the contributors to the comments section are, probably without exception, avid *Prince* readers, his characterization is probably accurate and, coming from a *Prince* columnist, courageous. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of his deluge of words about *Diamond Magazine*, a publication that clearly haunts Carroll.
Finally, there is a sudden jolt out of the world of tits and bottoms, and into the tired trope of Princeton University: “the home of Peter Singer *and* Robert George!” Apparently, because Princeton is willing to hire faculty with radically divergent opinions, it has no values beyond “axioms of the American political experience.” The fact that Princeton is a place that values and supports intellectual discourse, rigorous debate, and the free market of ideas appears not to impress Carroll.
Perhaps we should find it heartening that Carroll takes such “axioms” as immutable, if metaphorical, fixtures of the American landscape. However, given his quick veering back to porn in the final paragraph, “So let me be clear: I am not asking for *Diamond Magazine* to be censored, nor even for Princeton to issue an official repudiation of the magazine,” it‘s obvious where his mind is.
In the end though, his fight over the meaning of the word “values” is with Peruvian diplomat Ricardo Luna and not with our writer, a glamour magazine, moronic *Prince* readers, or Princeton University as a whole. Concludes Carroll, “…I do want that silly quote taken down.” Take that, Ricardo Luna!