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October 11, 2006

  Buckley College Staff Meeting

["Many and strange are the universes that drift like bubbles in the foam upon the River of Time." **   Cruising around some of those universes recently in my Syllogismobile, I happened upon a world in which National Review and National Review Online do not exist. Discouraged by the criticisms of Russell Kirk ("too much Yale undergraduate spirit"), William F. Buckley turned away from his idea of establishing a new magazine in 1955 and instead founded a junior college for "earnest, studious young people of a conservative inclination." I happened to land the Syllogismobile in the spacious grounds of Buckley College, and wandered into the main administrative building just as a staff conference was under way. Here is a partial transcript of that conference.]


College President Lowry:  O.K., I don't think we need wait any longer for the stragglers. I call this meeting to order. First off, there were some curriculum issues left hanging at the end of the last meeting. Perhaps the department heads could bring us up to date. Jonah? Anything from Political Science?

Goldberg:  Yes, O.K. Let's see. Item: The department has abandoned the idea of a course on Compassionate Conservatism. Only two students showed any interest, both foreign nationals — Mexicans, actually — with poor English-language skills, and nobody seemed to want to teach the thing, so it was dropped. Item: Building Democracy 101 has been having discipline problems — fights keep breaking out in the classroom — but we're going to stay the course, as it were, on that one. Item: The class instructional trip to Congress went off O.K., except that some of the students have been plagued with peculiar text messages since returning to campus. Nothing much to report otherwise.

Lowry:  Great. Thanks, Jonah. Rick?

Brookhiser:  The History Department is having a pretty successful semester, though our efforts to acquire Gouverneur Morris's wooden leg for the college museum seem to have fallen through. We finally tracked the darn thing down to the loft of a barn in upstate New York, but I'm afraid termites had got to it. Oh, we're still looking at the whole issue of whether our course on the Crusades needs revamping in light of this threatened lawsuit from CAIR, but that's mostly in the hands of college counsel.

Lowry:  Any update on that, Andy?

McCarthy:  You bet. We're definitely ready to go to court with the suckers, pending approval by the trustees, of course. Our case will rest on our being able to establish links between the plaintiffs and foreign jihadi groups. My own sources in Defense and Justice tell me that …

Lowry:  Perhaps it would be an instructive exercise for some of our own Constitutional Law students to get involved in the case preparation. Does the Law School have any objection to that?

Ponnuru:  Fine with it, so long as it doesn't detract from our "Litigating for Life" project, and the ongoing case studies on pathways to Roe v. Wade repeal.

Lowry:  All right, let's discuss the Homecoming bash. Jay, I assume the Music Department is getting the band ready?

Nordlinger:  No, sorry, don't you recall? The band is no longer Music's responsibility. We moved it to be under the wing of ROTC, so we can concentrate on orchestra and the amateur operatic group.

Lowry:  Oh, right. ROTC, then. Kate, how's the band coming along?

O'Beirne:  All right, but I really must bring up our funding request again. I can't spare any money from military training activities proper, and the band uniforms are looking really threadbare. What happened to the $5,000 we were promised from the general fund?

Lowry:  Darn, yes. I've been trying to call Larry, but that wretched TV show takes all his time.

Krikorian:  Be good to have a CFO who answers his phone once in a while. All I ever get is some housekeeper talking in Spanish.

Lowry:  Yeah, well — I've been thinking for a while that the endowment needs more attention. Some of our investments aren't performing too brilliantly. We need someone with a head for figures. Has the Math Department shown up yet?

Lopez:  Here's Derb now.

Lowry:  Oh, hey, Derb.

Derbyshire:  Hey, guys. Sorry late.

Lowry:  Derb, we were wondering if you could apply some math skills to the endowment portfolio. Try to improve our returns on investment.

Derbyshire:  Sorry, I don't do Applied.

[Brief silence.]

Ponnuru:  Then what in hell's the use of all that fancy math you write books about?

Derbyshire:  Use? Use? "Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know," Ramesh. What's the use of a new-born baby?

Ponnuru:  We'll be lucky to find out, under the abortion-on-demand legal regime you favor.

Derbyshire:  Oh, right. [Breaking into song from Monty Python's Meaning of Life] "Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great …"

Lowry:  Hey, hey, you two. Come on. Collegial, please. Derb, why don't you take a seat over in the corner there. No, the far corner. Right. Where were we? ROTC, I think, wasn't it? Kate, band issues aside, are you satisfied you're getting enough resources for the Corps?

O'Beirne:  If the commanding officers need more, they know they are free to ask. I'm not going to micro-manage the ROTC effort from my office.

Lowry:  Excellent. OK, what else on extra-curricular stuff? Weekend events organizer? Andrew, anything to tell us?

Stuttaford:  Well, the Thatcher weekend went off pretty well, with a relay reading of the Lady's speeches all day Saturday, culminating in the ceremonial dinner — Falkland's lamb chops, as usual, and a telegram from the Lady herself read out to much applause — and the traditional burning-in-effigy of Jacques Chirac. That looked for a while as if it might get out of hand, but thanks to the quick thinking of the male students, who were pretty full of good English ale at that point, there was no need to call the fire house.

Lowry:  Excellent. Oh, hi, JPod.

Podhoretz:  The hell you say. You couldn't hold off the frickin' meeting till we're all here?

Lowry:  Well, it said ten a.m. in the email, which I assume you got.

Podhoretz:  Was that the Goy email or the Jew email? Never mind, I know how it works around here. Like, God forbid there should be enough chairs set out so we can all sit down.

Lowry:  There's one right there, next to Jonah, look. Any curriculum issues from the Journalism Department?

Podhoretz:  Hey, Jonah. Mind if I join you in the ghetto? As if I have any choice. What? Curriculum issues? No, there are no issues. The curriculum's fine. The students are happy. Or if not, they can kiss my …

Lowry:  Right, right. Is there anyone we didn't hear from yet? Oh, the Divinity School. Kathryn?

 … …

** Opening of an Arthur C. Clarke story.