Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler --- Premiering December 16 on PBS


Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler

Join best-selling author/adventurer Bruce Feiler on an epic journey as he travels with contemporary pilgrims on six historic pilgrimages around the world and explores how these sacred landscapes and revitalized routes are reshaping faith

YaleWomen and Women Faculty Forum unite to examine gender rules

Check out the latest on the "Gender Rules" conference, in this report from

Hundreds of Yale women graduates, faculty, and students gathered for the "Gender Rules" conversation. (Photo by Amy Wong)
Nearly 300 Yale alumni, faculty, students, staff, and friends gathered on Nov. 1 for a day-long conversation titled “Gender Rules,” about gender diversity and access, outcome, and equality.
The meeting was convened byYaleWomen, the shared interest group for all Yale women alums that operates under the auspices of the Association of Yale Alumni, and the Yale Women Faculty Forum (WFF).
The two groups have taken root on campus and among the extended Yale community of alumni. The WFF was established in 2001 during university’s tercentennial year to highlight the presence of women at Yale and the accomplishments of Yale alumnae. YaleWomen was formed following the 2010 celebration of 40 years of co-education in Yale College, and has been the fastest growing group in the Yale alumni network.
The 2014 conference, the first major event undertaken jointly by the two groups, fulfilled the aspirations for “a way to tap into the talents of the women represented by a Yale women’s network of both faculty and graduates” that were voiced in 2001 at the WFF’s inaugural conference titled “Gender Matters,” by Linda Koch Lorimer ’77 J.D., then the vice president and secretary of the university and now vice president for global and strategic initiatives, and one of the moderators of the 2014 event. Lorimer in 2001 asked, “Could we imagine a ‘new sisters’ connection,’ one that had such a robust inventory of the resources Yale women represent (our experiences, talents and interests) that we could call upon one another to help address the larger issues facing our society?”

Oh, the botany! Corpse plant blooms, withers in day

Here's the latest about one of our classmates -- and one of my roommates! -- Rob Raguso.  I think Rob is one of the most successful of our classmates because he has followed his passions from the day he entered Yale and has crafted a professional and personal life that is true to those passions and his values.  An inspiration!  Here's a piece about Rob from the Ithaca Journal.

Oh, the botany! Corpse plant blooms, withers in day

Cornell University’s corpse plant bloomed at 4 p.m. Wednesday but in the overnight hours, it unexpectedly started to wither.
At 8:30 Thursday morning, visitors saw the plant’s purple spathe and the tall spadix starting to collapse.
“It’s fading early and we didn’t expect,” said Professor Robert Raguso, whose students have been documenting the plant, known as Wee Stinky, in two hour intervals.
It looked like it had lost water pressure, Raguso said. That was not expected until Friday.
The tall, tropical plant, found in the Sumatran rainforests, is named for the noxious odor it emits, described by some as “rotting meat” or “dead fish” when it blooms to attract flies and beetles.
The peak of the stink came Wednesday evening as predicted, the first day the plant bloomed. Crowds of people came and socialized while learning about the plant.
“I think it’s terrific, because it brings people together almost like an art installation, ” Raguso said.

Check out the new Yale Daily News interview with Carl Zimmer

In conversation: Richard Prum and Carl Zimmer

Photo by Elizabeth Miles.
Yale professor Richard Prum, who received the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2009 for his work in evolutionary ornithology, and Carl Zimmer ’87, English professor and science journalist for The New York Times and other publications, first met when Prum came to Yale in 2004. The two friends got together one Tuesday afternoon for a quick chat by the taxidermic bird collections of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

On the evolutionary psychologist in the Jane Austen seminar  

P: The question I’m interested in is: how is the aesthetic change that happens in human acts like the aesthetic change that happens in nature? And really what it’s about is studying subjective experience, which most scientists are afraid of. That the fact that you like something — that’s a force in nature. What I’m trying to do is make that the subject of our study, and I think we can study it comparatively. So — two species had some ancestor that had the same song. And those two species no longer prefer the same song that the ancestor did — they sing different songs. So we can’t know what it’s like to like a certain song, but we can examine how changes occur … Subjective experience won’t be reducible to standard analysis, but we can create new ways to approach it and understand aspects of it that people are afraid of.

This whole work has led to a broader interest in aesthetics in human arts and in that case, I start with the body of work that is science and gradually move into a body of work that isn’t science, but somehow it is compatible with science. And that’s what I’m interested in now. How is it that the different bodies of knowledge are interconnected? But in a respectful way. I’m not a scientist walking into the humanities to say, “OK, let me explain. Once you understand this, you’ll understand your field.” That’s not what it is at all. What I’m trying to do is create a scientific perspective that supports work in the humanities and social sciences.

Z: I’m an old English major here, so I always find it kind of funny that evolutionary psychologists are barging into English departments and explaining Jane Austen to them in terms of fitness, and so on. It’s not necessarily that it’s wrong, but it brushes away important issues about culture and history and even just the kind of thing that literature is great at — exploring language and [how] language works in our lives and how it can betray us, all its complexities. Sometimes scientists seem to want to bring it down to some basic principles.

And that is an effort to explain away culture, not explain culture. And unfortunately a lot of people associate this with the mission of science. That reductionist relation is the value. And there are all sorts of examples in science where that failed and we gave up on it and moved on with better science.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yale Glee Club

In the last several months, I have rediscovered the beauty of the Yale Glee Club.  At the convocation welcoming the new freshman, the Glee Club sang a song that was new to me -- Raise Your Voices, but the current Glee Club director, Jeffrey Douma.  (A YouTube video of it is below.)  Listen to the words . . . very moving.  I couldn't help but cry as I heard them.

Facebook, the source of all wisdom, informed me earlier this week that the Yale Glee Club concert at Harvard was being broadcast via livestreaming.  It was terrific.  If you'd like to hear future concerts, you can in the comfort of your own home.

Their next concert is December 7, and it is a sing along of Handel's Messiah.  Here are the details:

December 7, 2014 - 1:30pm
Join the Yale Glee Club and the Yale Symphony Orchestra for our Annual Messiah Sing-In and sing along to the chorus sections of Handel’s The Messiah. We will perform a number of excerpts from the timeless oratorio. Scores will be available for purchase, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit New Haven’s homeless.
Admission is free; $5 suggested donation at the door.

Sexual Violence on College Campuses

Over the last several years, there have been investigations into the treatment of sexual assault allegations at universities around the country,including Yale.   Last weekend, Yale Law Professor Jed Rubenfeld penned a thought provoking op-ed, entitled Mishandling Rape, about what appears to be a widespread issue with sexual assaults on college campuses around the country, and different responses to these assaults.  (Click here to read that piece.)   Now, there are terribly disturbing accounts in a recent Rolling Stone piece (see the article by clicking here) of sexual assault at the University of Virginia. 
In the last several months, I look at college differently, as a parent of a student and as the parent of three other children who will go to college some day.  How should colleges provide safe environments where young adults can study, socialize and form meaningful adult relationships, with all that entails?  Where can our children go to school free from worry that they will be assaulted?
These articles also make me wonder -- were there things during our college years we should have discussed more?  Are there aspects of our experience that were not positive for some of our classmates that we should discuss now?

What do you think?  It would be interesting to hear our classmates' perspectives on this.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Yale Travel

Have you checked out Yale Educational Travel lately?  Well, you might want to take a look.  They have broadened their selection a great deal, offering trips that suit families and are closer to many of us (and,therefore, must more doable).  Here is a brief decipription:

Yale Educational Travel offers very special travel opportunities.  We aim to provide memorable experiences by combining fascinating itineraries, talented faculty, interesting traveling companions, knowledgeable guides, and opportunities to meet with local alumni in the countries visited.  When you travel with YET you can count on a rewarding blend of discovery, adventure, and learning.  Our travelers are lively, inquisitive, and eager to broaden their cultural and intellectual horizons.

They are offering a Civil War tour booked for June, 2015, which really caught my eye:


Join other Yale Alumni, their friends, and families in a four night, three day guided tour of the battlefields of South Mountain, Antietam and Gettysburg representing of Lee's 1862-1863 northern incursions including illustrated talks by a Yale scholar

How A Group Of Yale Students Pulled Off The Greatest College Prank Of All Time -- From Business Insider

Saw this on Business Insider and thought I would share it:

How A Group Of Yale Students Pulled Off The Greatest College Prank Of All Time

Harvard Yale University Prank We SuckCourtesy of Mike Kai
Mike Kai and David Aulicino were seniors at Yale in 2004 when they, along with 20 friends dressed as the fictional "Harvard Pep Squad," boldly entered Harvard's football stadium and convinced close to 2,000 unsuspecting Crimson fans to help spell out two words — "WE SUCK."
The prank — brilliant in its simplicity — actually took more than a year of planning to properly execute. For the 10th anniversary of the "WE SUCK" gag, Business Insider spoke with Kai and Aulicino, who explained just how they were able to pull off one of the greatest college pranks of all time.
Yale University Students Harvard Prank We SuckCourtesy of Mike KaiYale students and prank masterminds David Aulicino (l) and Mike Kai (r) pose with a stack of red and white construction paper.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Check out the upcoming LA Wine Tasting Dinner

Inter-Ivy & Stanford Gourmet Wine Tasting Dinner feat. Tablas Creek Winery & Robert Haas (YC'50)
With Special Guest, Robert Haas (YC '50), Managing Partner of Tablas Creek and Host Peter Kerr, The Wine Consultant from Gourmet Wine Getaways. ***VERY LIMITED NUMBER OF TICKETS LEFT***

The wines of Tablas Creek, a joint effort of Chateau Beaucastel in France and Robert Haas (Yale ’50), then a wine importer of fine European estate wines, are as unique and wonderful as the story behind this international partnership.  The winery was founded in 1989 with a very simple philosophy:  utilize organic viticulture & minimal winemaker intervention to create wines of terroir and sophistication.  Tonight, we welcome Mr. Haas, one of 3 American members of the Academie Internationale du Vin, to discuss the history of this fascinating and successful joint-venture.  
Owner/chef Enzo Battarra and his culinary staff have carefully paired each wine with a gourmet food course that will accentuate the flavors of both.  Join us for what is sure to be a memorable evening.  

NBC Promotes Class of 87's George Cheeks to Oversee Latenight

From Variety, here's a piece about our classmate, George Cheeks:

NBC Promotes Business Affairs Chief George Cheeks to Oversee Latenight

NBC Promotes Business Affairs Chief George
George Cheeks’ star is rising at NBC Entertainment.
The exec who oversees business affairs for the Peacock and the Universal Television production arm is taking on oversight of the network’s latenight franchises.
Latenight is a lucrative arena for the Peacock, which means that Cheeks’ promotion to exec VP of business operations and latenight is a sign of faith in the exec, who will continue to oversee biz affairs for the network and studio. Cheeks is based on the West Coast but will now spend more time in Gotham, the hub of NBC’s latenight activity.
Cheeks reports to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and latenight programming, will also remain involved in latenight. The distinction in duties between Telegdy, who also reports to Greenblatt, and Cheeks is not entirely clear but the two are said to be primed to work collaboratively on the business that has been reinvigorated by Jimmy Fallon’s success as “Tonight Show” host.
Cheeks joined NBC as exec VP in 2012. He came to the Peacock after moving through a series of business and legal affairs posts at MTV Networks and Viacom since 2007.

Yale Alumni Service Corps

Check out the latest video from the Yale Alumni Service Corps, this one highlighting its work in India:

Jay Carney Visits Yale -- Care of the Yale Daily News

Carney traces journey from Yale to White House

Photo by Finnegan Schick.

Speaking to a packed room of Timothy Dwight students yesterday, Jay Carney ’87 traced his path from arriving as a freshman at Yale to becoming the White House press secretary under President Barack Obama for three years.
The Master’s Tea was only open to students in Timothy Dwight, partly because of the overwhelming interest in hearing Carney among Yale students, according to Timothy Dwight Master Jeffrey Brenzel. Although efforts were made to keep the event intimate, Carney said he is not a shy public speaker.
“I’m most comfortable at a podium,” he said.
While at Yale, Carney was in TD and wrote for The New Journal. During this time, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union, and what seemed to be a static political situation in Russia began to crumble, Carney said. He added that this inspired him to pursue a degree in Russian Studies. After graduating, Carney worked briefly at the Miami Herald, but was quickly hired by Time Magazine and sent to Moscow where he covered the decline and demise of the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1993. After leaving Russia in 1993 Carney said he began covering American politics in Washington, D.C.

Yale Assembly -- Brought to you by our own Darcy Troy Pollock

Alumni get in the entrepreneurial spirit at annual campus assembly

“Yale is a way more entrepreneurial place than it is sometimes perceived to be, and we want to showcase the breadth and depth of entrepreneurship and innovation on campus and among alumni,” says Darcy Troy Pollack ’87 about this week’s annual assembly of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) Nov. 13-15. 
Pollack, an executive officer of the AYA’s board of governors, is chair of Assembly LXXIV, titled “The Entrepreneurial Spirit at Yale.” It will bring together nearly 500 alumni delegates, and invited guests for a full program of keynote lectures, hands-on demonstrations, fireside chats, and even a campus version of “Shark Tank.”

Participate in the Yale Harvard Challenge

4th Annual Yale Harvard Alumni Fund Participation Challenge

Wednesday, November 12 through Saturday, November 22, 2014

Challenge Standings:

Yale =  1011     Harvard =  811

Scroll down to see how your class is doing compared to other Yale and Harvard classes.

The Objective is simple — BEAT HARVARD!

During the Yale vs. Harvard Alumni Fund Participation Challenge, alumni from all classes at Yale and Harvard will go head to head and compete to see which school can secure the most gifts and pledges through The Game. The challenge winner will be determined by the number of donors, not dollar amount. The university that secures the most donors by the conclusion of The Game wins bragging rights for the year. Every gift counts!
During the inagural challenge in 2011, the challenge classes (2007-2011) secured 330 donors vs. Harvard's 299. In 2012, the challenge classes (1998-2012) were barely edged out by Harvard, 1,010 vs. 938. Last year the challenge was expanded to include all Yale College classes and Yale secured 3,999 donors vs. Harvard's 3,720. 
Let's ensure victory again this year and beat Harvard—on and off the field!


Show your bulldog pride and participate today. Make your gift online at or call 800.395.7646. 
For more information, email or contact Dominique Matteson ( or Caitlin Beardsley (