Legion. An amalgamated journal.

Ben Franklin, alarm clock

Fourth. Every morning, as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing; and if that is not sufficient?, let cannon be fired in every street, to wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest.

All the difficulty will be in the first two or three days; after which the reformation will be as natural and easy as the present irregularity; for, ce n’est que le premier pas qui coûte. Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is more than probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening; and, having had eight hours sleep, he will rise more willingly at four in the morning following.

Benjamin Franklin, Essay on Daylight Saving, Letter to the Editor of the Journal of Paris, 1784.

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 8th, 2009

Blatant pandering

A White Antelope, the solo project of Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold—is clearly trolling for our weighty endorsement on their MySpace page—see the ‘Band Members’ section. Let it be known that our editorial opinion is a bit tougher to come by than that.

Oh what the hell, the man put gnomes on his MySpace page, we love him forever, the end.

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 8th, 2009

An uncharacteristically pessimistic post

Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844 – 1921)

I reemerge from my long Legion hibernation with this quote.  For one, because I  think it is wonderful and wise, summing up a lot of my worldview.  But two, because it gets at the heart of a matter that’s been troubling me as of late: senior thesis culture.

What is this Harvard culture that tells us a senior thesis is the be-all-end-all, the trump card over any previous commitments and a most legitimate of excuses?  Our house library is a mess of books and trash, but we seniors implore the rest of the dorm to forgive our sins for the next few weeks.  Friends (acquaintances?) have insisted they haven’t time to head out for a run together, or to go to an interesting talk, or to meet and discuss details of an upcoming spring break excursion, but insist that this will change “post March 19.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I myself am guilty of this to some degree, in recent weeks reluctantly sacrificing some other parts of my life to work on “The Big T.”  But that we as seniors feel justified in using thesis as an excuse to skip everything else in life—meetings, meals with friends, casual strolls between classes, classes themselves—must mean we don’t hold these other elements of our lives in particular regard.  We still need to eat!  We can’t  work all the time!

I guess what I really fear is that thesis crunch time exposes a more fundamentally troubling fact about Harvard:  the superficial nature of many of our commitments and relationships in this ambitious, Type-A-filled place.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore (most of) Harvard.  But I’m troubled by the culture that has emerged as of late, both for what it indicates about my own priorities and what it demonstrates about the value we have learned in this institution.  Because truly, where there is love, there is time.  And surely we love more than just our latest academic endeavors.

Spring Greeney

March 8th, 2009 | No Comments

Found art

While searching the Crimson archives for the famous quote about FDR as a “traitor to his fine education” (which I was unable to find—does anybody know where it is?), I stumbled upon this gem of an article:

Joshua G. Allen’s E-Mail Signature
Published On Tuesday, November 28, 2006 8:16 PM

Joshua G. Allen ’09


[REDACTED] Mather House Mail Center

Cambridge, MA 02138

NOTICE: Any and all opinions contained in electronic mail originating from [REDACTED] are solely those of Joshua Allen. Unless otherwise stated, under no circumstances shall these opinons be considered those of The Roosevelt Institution, The Institute of Politics, Harvard Model Congress, The Harvard College Democrats, or The Harvard Undergraduate Council Election Commission.

Uh, glad that one’s been entered into the permanent record!?

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

The woes of wealth

More to come on the insane civil disobedience of the übermenschen that is the “Going Galt” movement, but the proper prelude to the latest case of plutopersecution is Tom The Dancing Bug’s “Lucky Ducky” series. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 7th, 2009

From Jonah’s point of view

At his fantastic new music blog, Mr. Pepys does his part to establish whales as the new ‘it’ animal. It is part of a larger change afoot:

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 6th, 2009

Further internecine quarrels

On Monday, I suggested that the semantic choice of “queer” signaled a fundamentally illiberal drive towards self-marginalization by the gay rights movement. I hate to keep raising issues with friends on the left, but this recent strategy by climate-change protestors in Washington is also awfully ridiculous:

Right now, word on the street is the police will arrest 75 people—the product of a bizarre and counterintuitive haggling process. The organizers had been pushing for 100 arrests, I’m told. The more arrests, the more attention they get. But the police didn’t want to go above 25. Eventually they settled on 75. But now, with 3 p.m. receding, it’s unclear if anyone is going to the slammer.

The protesters decide to step it up a notch. “If you want to get arrested, please go over to the gate now and sit down,” says a girl wearing a green helmet and wielding a green folder. “Those who don’t want to be arrested, please come over this way.” The two groups separate.

I would love to know exactly how that “haggling process” happened.

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 5th, 2009 | No Comments


His head is bowed; he incomprehensibly mutters ‘ZOMG’ as he moves to stage center

When IBM entered the personal computer market, Apple took out this famous advertisement in the Wall Street Journal.

Well, we’d like to extend a similar welcome.

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 5th, 2009 | 3 Comments


or, BGLTSA makes a queer choice.

I see in the Crimson this morning that BGLTSA has sloshed around its bowl of alphabet soup and come up with QSA—Queer Students and Allies—as their new name. This is in keeping with a larger trend amongst the movement towards the word queer (as well as the letter Q) and away from whatever possible permutation of the letters G, L, B, and T.

The use of the word “queer” as a term of pride, however, is something that has always irked me about the gay-rights movement. Alright: there needs to be some term which casts an umbrella over gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, and all variants in between. But “queer”? Self-proclaimed queer activists call it a process of “reclamation” in which a word of scorn and abuse is converted into a word of honor. The problem, however, is that “queer” had a meaning well before it had anything to do with gays. It meant—and means—“strange.” You can have a queer-looking building or a queerly-acting pet. Its use includes and transcends a purely sexual definition; it only began to apply to gays in order to offensively denote their strangeness. The gay movement can’t strip it of that definition simply by fiat—pace postmodernism, words still have some shards of meaning left in them. So the principal definition of “queer” remains “that which is strange.”

Why, though, would you want to recall and promote being strange? For a field which is so obsessively preoccupied with the injustice of Othering, this kind of self-marginalization is self-destructive. I am an integrationist in the broadest sense of the word—rather than separatist identity caucuses of gays proclaiming themselves “queer” vis-a-vis mainstream society, we need a mainstream society which accepts and includes gays. In other words, we need a society where gays are not queer.

Of course, BGLTSA has the right to call themselves whatever they want. They could call themselves the Awesome Dudes’ Club or the Society of Narwhal Preservationists or whatever else they’d like and they don’t have to run it by me. Ultimately I lean libertarian on this issue. Still, I think the name change is diagnostic of a kind of left politics which I believe to be cryptoconservative, a kind which does little to expand and invigorate the franchise of modern society.

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

Dept. of failed comparisons

From Kiran Pendri’s Crimson op-ed favoring free-market education:

[The capitalist] will do the same for American and international education as he did for the meatpacking industry, the automobile industry, and the pharmaceutical industry.

So, let’s see, that would be the meatpacking industry whose employees fingers’ “might be eaten by the acid, one by one”, the automobile industry which is about to go insolvent save a massive government intervention, and the pharmaceutical industry which is at the avaricious core of our failed health-care system?

Um, ok. Sign my kids up for that!

Garrett Dash Nelson

February 23rd, 2009