All posts by Rondi Adamson

Frat Boys: The Heroes we Didn’t Know we Needed

Who knew? Fraternities have taken a PR beating over the years, often with very good reason. But boy, do they deserve applause and reconsideration right now. At UNC Chapel Hill, a group of them protected the American flag from the Jew-hating campus Kristallnacht crowd, standing strong as they were pelted with all manner of unpleasant stuff, including the mindless jeering of the mob. This seems to have set off a chain reaction of other fraternities doing the same, or variations thereof: at one university, frat guys sang the American anthem at the top of their lungs, drowning out the keffiyeh-clad half-wits; at another, they used chants of “USA” for the same purpose.

Such young men! Gives one hope.

If these boys weren’t impressive enough, here’s more – a GoFundMe was set up to thank them and give them money to throw a proper Frat Boy “rager.” So far, there is over $500,000 in the fund, almost all of which they are donating to charity. They will keep a modest amount for their festivities. Not unrelated – a piece in Tablet here, about college life – what it ought to be, what it has become.

[Image above taken from Tablet piece.]

Mum: Ten Years

My mum died on this day, ten years ago. We joked that she stayed alive into the early hours of April Fools’ Day as a final wink at all of us. But in retrospect, I think she also did it to make calculating her finances for that financial year easier, given that March 31st was the last day of the first quarter. If you knew her, you would find both explanations easy to believe. She always described herself as calm and a drudge, but I remember her being dramatic and theatrical and not a sitcom mom. There was never any, “as long as you do your best” coming from her lips. It was more like, “as long as you are better than everyone else, and even then you will disappoint and embarrass me.” I often feel her looking disapprovingly over my shoulder when I cut corners or fail to put the requisite percentage of my pay into savings. That said, without her, it is quite possible my father would have lost us in a poker game or sold us for whiskey.

Three Good Men

My oldest brother once said that as one ages, one’s world shrinks. I don’t agree with that – in fact, I often feel the opposite is true. But in one sense, I see this happening – as we age, people that meant something to us, either personally or in the public sphere, pass away. And our world seems smaller. This week, three such people passed: Daniel Kahneman, the Israeli economist and Nobel Prize winner, who tried to explain why humans behave so (seemingly) irrationally so much of the time, died at the age of 90; Joe Lieberman, simply a fine human, died at the age of 82; and Richard Serra, abstract and minimalist sculptor and visionary, died at 85. Serra was one of the few modern artists whose work appealed to me, which I suppose is neither here nor there. All three of these men are what I call, “value adding people.” They expanded the world. They never tried to diminish or take away or make us smaller.