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  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:00 am on February 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , And Brooklyn College, bonesman president, , , Collegiate secret societies, Computer scientist, Connecticut, Dean Kamen, Don't Blame Me, Ed Fredkin, electric car, Elihu, Elihu Yale, Eulogean Club, George Bush Presidential Library, , , Human skull symbolism, Ivy League, , Oscars, , , Princeton Review, Secret societies, Sheepshead Bay High School, Skull, Skull & Bones, Skull and Bones, Skull and Crossbones, Steve Guttenberg, The Tomb, Thousand Islands, , Yale,   

    Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Kodos 

    Who controls the British crown?
    Who keeps the metric system down?
    We do! We do!
    Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
    Who keeps the martians under wraps?
    We do! We do!
    Who holds back the electric car?
    Who made Steve Guttenberg a star?
    We do! We do!
    Who robs the cave fish of their sight?
    Who rigs every Oscars night?
    We do! We do!

    “Treehouse of Horror VII”

    Who? Well, it’s the Stonecutters Masons Illuminati Knights Templar Members of the Eulogean Club. In case you haven’t noticed, in the past overlord election both candates were members of Skull and Crossbones. I wonder what it was like to be freshly tapped bonesmen at the time of the election. There must have been no suspense: one way or the other there would be a bonesman president.

    In my mind, as far as secret societies go, Skull and Bones is the coolest one. It found exactly the right balance of secrecy/publicity. What fun is it to be in a secret society that is so secret that nobody knows how cool it is? Bones have alway had a double standard: on one hand the members are sworn to absolute secrecy, on the other, the tapping process (invitation of new members) was almost always a very public act. Their meeting place is not a secret underground bunker, but a huge very well known, although mostly windowless clubhouse building, The Tomb. George Bush Presidential Library proudly shows a Bones yearbook photo, complete with a grandfather clock and (supposedly, but not likely) Geronimo’s skull stolen from the grave by Prescott Bush.

    Yearbook photos like this show up in the stranges places, like this livejournal community post. I was almost expecting to see Montgomery Burns (who’s known to be a member) in those pictures.

    The coolest amenity is not the Tomb or the loads of morally questionable and/or stolen stuff inside (there are reports that they stole and kept things like Elihu Yale’s tombstone and eat off of Hitler’s china). It’s their own fricking private island. It’s not in the most convinient or most secluded location – there are literally thousands of islands in Thousand Islands.

    My favorite quote from “Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power” is this:

    Guests sleep in cots in cabins-granted, some of them are double-bedded cots — if they can slumber through the blare of the tour boat that sometimes circles the island with a guide shouting through a megaphone, “And there is the secret island that belongs to Skull and Bones!”

    Yes, being “secret” like this, famously and loudly is probably the Bones’ greatest achievement. That, and the three Bonesman presidents of the United States. And the innumerable CIA directors, senators, judges and other notables.

    Anyway, a lot of people own islands, most of which are cheaper than an average Manhattan 2-bedroom apartment. Computer scientist Ed Fredkin has one and so does denim fetishist inventor Dean Kamen. And a lot of societies, secret or otherwise have cool clubhouses (at Harvard, even The Harvard Lampoon has a cool castle). See, you don’t need to belong to free-world-ruling elite to enjoy cool stuff like that.

    Fancy societies with awesome amenities seem to be a perogative of those with Ivy League education. I really don’t have that. It’s wasn’t Andover and Yale for me. It was Sheepshead Bay High School (one of the so-called dirty dozen, 13 worst schools in New York) and Brooklyn College.

    I don’t agree with those pooh-poohing American educational system, as my experience with it was very positive. In the high school I was able to take many college level classes with many outstanding teachers. And Brooklyn College is not on Princeton Review’s top 10 best value colleges list for nothing.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 8:28 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a 28-year-old manager, , Crystal Thompson, , , , health insurance, How Starbucks Saved My Life, Ivy League, , Memoirs, Michael Gates Gill, , Privilege Learns, , Starbucks bar   

    How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else 

    In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a big house in the suburbs, a loving family, and a top job at an ad agency with a six-figure salary. By the time he turned sixty, he had lost everything except his Ivy League education and his sense of entitlement. First, he was downsized at work. Next, an affair ended his twenty-year marriage. Then, he was diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor, prognosis undetermined. Around the same time, his girlfriend gave birth to a son. Gill had no money, no health insurance, and no prospects.

    One day as Gill sat in a Manhattan Starbucks with his last affordable luxury—a latté—brooding about his misfortune and quickly dwindling list of options, a 28-year-old Starbucks manager named Crystal Thompson approached him, half joking, to offer him a job. With nothing to lose, he took it, and went from drinking coffee in a Brooks Brothers suit to serving it in a green uniform. For the first time in his life, Gill was a minority–the only older white guy working with a team of young African-Americans. He was forced to acknowledge his ingrained prejudices and admit to himself that, far from being beneath him, his new job was hard. And his younger coworkers, despite having half the education and twice the personal difficulties he’d ever faced, were running circles around him.

    The other baristas treated Gill with respect and kindness despite his differences, and he began to feel a new emotion: gratitude. Crossing over the Starbucks bar was the beginning of a dramatic transformation that cracked his world wide open. When all of his defenses and the armor of entitlement had been stripped away, a humbler, happier and gentler man remained. One that everyone, especially Michael’s kids, liked a lot better.

    The backdrop to Gill’s story is a nearly universal cultural phenomenon: the Starbucks experience. In How Starbucks Saved My Life, we step behind the counter of one of the world’s best-known companies and discover how it all really works, who the baristas are and what they love (and hate) about their jobs. Inside Starbucks, as Crystal and Mike’s friendship grows, we see what wonders can happen when we reach out across race, class, and age divisions to help a fellow human being.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:48 am on July 30, 2002 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Harvard Lampoon, , , Ivy League, John Harvard, , , , New England Association of Schools and Colleges, , , , statue of John Harvard, Supreme Court,   

    Sex, Lies and Higher Education 

    On Sunday I finished reading an awesome book about college pranks, “If at all Possible, Involve a Cow”. Even though it was published in 1992, it’s currently out of print and somewhat hard to find. At abebooks.com prices range from $26.50 to $42.50 and there are only 5 books listed. Luckily, I was able to find a copy for $7 thanks to abebooks wishlist service.

    I think that the rarity of the books is due to some influence of embarrassed college brass. The book tells stories about students making fun of narrow mindedness and idiocy of administrators and professors in some very prestigious colleges and universities.

    Here is an example. If you’ve been to Harvard, you probably have seen the statue of John Harvard. You were also probably told a touching story about students, who rub his boot for luck on the exams (they really don’t, the boot is shined by hordes of visitors). Well, what the guide probably didn’t tell you, is that the statue is commonly known as “Statue of Three Lies”. Why? Because there is an inscription on the pedestal that says:

    John Harvard

    Founder

    1638

    Lie #1 : John Harvard was a financial contributor, not the founder.
    Lie #2 : Foundation date was 1636, not 1638
    Lie #3 : Depicted is not John Harvard, of whom no pictures exist, but a friend of the sculptor. To add insult to injury, both the sculptor and his friend graduated from .. You guessed it – MIT!

    This makes one of the pranks in the book especially ironic: MIT students created a huge bronze copy of MIT class ring and epoxied it to John Harvard statue’s finger!

    Other notable pranks: Harvard Lampoon’s editors hoisting Soviet flag on a flagpole in front of the Supreme Court during McCarthy era, Caltech Rose Bowl hack.

     
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