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    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    A Christmas Greeting from Al-Qaeda?

    This is pretty funny, yet it delivers a great message by the end. Enjoy the Scrappleface video featuring a rare translation of Al-Qaeda's second-in-comman, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, delivering a Christmas greeting.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    ISI soiree at Vanderbilt

    So I got into town in Nashville and stayed on the outskirts of the city (way out in the burbs about 30 minutes south of downtown) with my friend Dustin and his fiance. They have a nice home and they are getting ready for their wedding in the summer of 2007. Dustin and I are both alums of FAU, but I only really know him since I have been at ISI, due to our conservative activism.

    That night, I headed over to Vanderbilt for another ISI soiree (my 7th in the past 10 days). On Day 17 of my trip I was tired, but each of these soirees and the students I meet seem to energize me. I got on campus, parked, found the building and the Elizabeth, the editor of The Vanderbilt Torch, which is a fantastic conservative publication on the Collegiate Network. I told Elizabeth that I remember when I first started The Terrapin Times at Maryland and went to the CN's Start the Presses! Conference for new papers in the summer of 2003 - I remember meeting some other students from the Vanderbilt Torch - they were just starting out then too, a few years before Elizabeth's time at Vanderbilt.

    Almost all the time, I feel like these things come full circle on me. Now, I was at Vanderbilt, meeting new students and introducing them to ALL the resources that ISI has to offer them. About 15 students came, which was pretty good for the week that final exams were getting ready to begin. They were all great students too... very excited and energized. Maybe it was because I was leaving them with so many materials and free books - it was my last stop and I told them I didn't want to bring any of this stuff back with me. They happily accepted them. One graduate student won 3 books in our "conservative trivia contest." He was already an ISI member before the soiree and as he was getting ready to go back home he told me, "I'm going home with 3 free books and all this pizza... I love this organization!"

    The ISI gravy train... next stop... back to Philly.

    Tennessee: my 39th state!

    On Sunday, December 3rd, I drove from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I entered the "Volunteer State" and counted them up: I've officially been in 39 of the 50 states in the Union. Once I entered Tennessee, my destination of Chattanooga was barely over the border. It is also the city my mother was born in back in 1956. But she really has no recollection of this place - her family moved from there to Florida when she was only two years old. So, I figured since it was Sunday, I'd explore the historic downtown area of the city that I was staying in.

    First, I had lunch a block from my hotel at brewery. (I'm forgetting the name off hand). I had a sandwich and a local lager which they microbrew right there at the bar. It was pretty good. Then, I went to the Chattanooga Regional History Museum, which took me maybe an hour to go through. I learned a lot! (as usual) I didn't realize how much influence the Native American population had on the city... that is before they were forced out of there and onto the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. After that, the white man settled the land and it became an industrial boom. The city prides itself that it was also the first bottler of Coca-Cola. Ironically, I had just come from the town that invented Coca-Cola.

    I was overall very impressed by Chattanooga. The city seems to be doing a good job keeping its historical elements as it becomes something new. I also thought it was pretty scenic with the Tennessee River going through it and the mountains nearby overlooking it.

    Sunday night I had dinner with a former ISI student who is now a secondary school teacher, Carter Todd. Carter had been in touch with me for a while and he often requests ISI Student's Guides to pass out to his high school students. Now, he teaches middle school. He was also a former student of UT-Chattanooga professors Bill McClay and Lucien Ellington, who met me for breakfast on Monday morning. Professor Ellington and I have been in touch for quite some time as well. I help provide him with some complimentary ISI Student's Guides for his classes each semester (which he uses as part of the curriculum) and he helps promote ISI by encouraging interested students to sign up for membership.

    I had an enjoyable breakfast and conversation with professors McClay, Ellington, and one of their colleagues, before we ventured over to the university, where they set me up with an ISI tabling opportunity in their student center. For about 2 hours during the lunch period, I passed out ISI materials to students and faculty walking by. I only signed up about 5 people on the spot, but I passed out nearly 100 copies of the Intercollegiate Review as well as some ISI brochures. Planting the seeds, planting the seeds. It was great to see how committed these professors are to the ISI mission. They went out of their way to help me out and even to hang out with me at the table for as long as they could.

    About 1pm, Professor McClay (who is the author of the ISI Student's Guide to U.S. History) and I went to lunch and then I was off on my way towards Nashville, where I met up with my friend Dustin Hawkins and did an ISI soiree at Vanderbilt University. More to come on this...

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Hot-lanta and the SEC title game

    Ok, more like cold-lanta during my final few days there, but "Hot-lanta" takes on many meanings in reference to the city of Atlanta. This city really made quite an impression on me. First, it's HUGE. The downtown area has really grown. The last time I was here was in 1996 for the summer Olympics. I remember it being a big city then, but it just really feels like it has grown so much more.

    What has really grown is the ever-expanding suburban sprawl. It goes almost a mile out in each direction - and Atlanta expands in a circle. The traffic is a mess too. Thankfully, my hotel was situated near downtown and I didn't have to do too much driving in and out of there, but I get a good view of the mess on I-75 from my hotel window. They said Atlanta has the longest average commute time in the country. I believe it (although L.A. always just seems worse).

    My brother Tony and his girlfriend Jen came into Atlanta for the weekend for their own reasons: their Gators were in the SEC Championship game. My brother covers the Gator football games for the school paper and for other papers, such as the Orlando Sentinel. Great gig. So, he gets to sit in the press box and then interview the team on the field and in the locker rooms after the game. Jen, on the other hand, needed someone to go to the game with, and since I was already going to be in Atlanta, I bought myself a ticket so we could watch together.

    But, first came Friday night - where I met up with two old friends from high school - Fergus and Catie (Marrero) Thomas. It was great catching up with them. Fergus is working for Coca-Cola, where Tony, Jen, and I visited their "World of Coca-Cola" museum on Saturday before the game. Fergus and Catie were headed down to Macon that night, but they recommended some Atlanta bars for us to hit up on Friday night. Fergus pointed out a cool one, "The Spotted Dog", which is in an old firehouse in downtown Atlanta. It was a very cool place. It was quite quiet for a Friday night, but that gave us a chance to talk. The place is really cool - the bar stools, for example, are the actual old fire poles. The lamp shades are made out of fire extinguishers. And, the place just had a great feel to it. The firehouse had been there since 1907 - before the days of fire engines.

    On Saturday, after visiting the "World of Coca-Cola" and "Underground Atlanta", we got ready for the big game. As we made our way to the Georgia Dome, Tony departed us for his press box and Jen and I went across the way to check out "The SEC Experience," which was like a mini indoor carnival. Then, we headed to the Georgia Dome and sat in the upper deck, only 10 rows from the very top. 70% of the people in our area were Arkansas fans, but we were cheering for the Gators. Ironically, our entire row was full of Gator fans, so we had our own little cheering section.

    And what a game! I only cheered for the Gators because my brother goes to school there, but it was thrilling! I've never seen such a crazy game. I've been at some great Miami-FSU games (Wide Right 2 and 3 and Wide Left 1) but this was right up there. Florida eventually came away with the win, with an SEC title, and with a berth into the BCS Title Game. By the end of the game, my brother was on the field, only feet away from the SEC trophy as it was presented to the Gators. Jen and I were about 100 feet away, as we made our way down to the first rows near the 50-yard line (most of the stadium had cleared by this time). It was a fun night and fun times in Hot-lanta.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    ISI Soirees in Georgia

    I spent most of this past week in Georgia, where we did ISI soirees at Mercer University (Macon), the University of Georgia (Athens), Georgia Tech (Atlanta) and the University of West Georgia (Carrollton). A lot already seems to be happening.

    At Mercer University, a Christian school in Macon, GA, Nathan Edmondson put together an ISI soiree on Tuesday, November 28, and has used the timing of the event to launch an ISI Group. His father, Henry Edmondson, is an ISI author and teaches at nearby Georgia College and State University (GCSU). They plan to launch a joint group which will combine students and faculty from both campuses.

    (Photo: Nathan Edmondson and myself at the ISI soiree at Mercer University.) Posted by Picasa

    On November 29, I visited the University of Georgia, David Kirby, the Editor of the CN paper, The Georgia GuardDawg put together the soiree and turned out nearly 30 people, including Professor Dwight Lee who lectured at ISI's National Leadership Conference in Indianapolis this past spring. Earlier in the day, I also attended the weekly meeting of the ISI Group at UGA, the C.S. Lewis Society where we discussed C.S. Lewis' views on the role of women in marriage. At the soiree, I finally met Tim Echols, founder and President of TeenPact, a Christian home-school network. Over the past two and a half years, I have exchanged many emails and phone calls with Mr. Echols and it was great to finally meet him in person. He has introduced hundreds of his students to ISI over the past few years alone.

    (Photo: Some of the students and faculty at the ISI soiree at the University of Georgia.) Posted by Picasa

    On November 30th, I drove up to Dawsonville, GA and had lunch with about 10 students and a professor who are launching an ISI Group at Southern Catholic College. Ann Marie, the nephew of a long-time ISI employee and colleague, Paul Rhein, used the timing of my visit to bring these students and faculty member together to start an ISI Group. Southern Catholic College is only in its second year and has a total of 120 students that go to the school.

    (Photo: Students at Southern Catholic College.)

    Later that day, we held an ISI soiree at Georgia Tech in the heart of Atlanta. Chris Dempsey, the state chairman of the Georgia Federation of College Republicans put together the event. There wasn't a large turnout, but at least Chris, myself and a few other students were able to connect and I'm sure Chris will spread the ISI word around his state.

    On Friday morning, December 1, I had breakfast with a Faculty Associate and Honors Program mentor, Patrick Allit, who teaches in the history department at Emory. We had a great converation. He's a great person and every time I have seen him, he is always smiling.

    Later that day, we held an ISI soiree at the University of West Georgia. Again, the turnout was small, but we had a great conversation. One professor I met even told me she read Hayek's The Road to Serfdom back in the early 1950s, before ISI was even started. WOW! She has been a member of ISI and a subscriber to National Review since the beginning. She told me I made her feel old when I played the ISI history video. Thanks to Adam Woodward for putting this soiree together. He certainly has an upbeat and positive personality! It was also great to meet him in person after being in touch with him for more than a year. My time in Georgia was busy... but after the week was over I was ready to relax and enjoy the city of Atlanta... more to come...

    Posted by Picasa

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    ISI soiree at Florida State and visit to JMI

    On November 27, we did an ISI soiree at Florida State which was sponsored by the Institute for Conservative Studies at FSU. They are a very well-funded conservative organization that has been around since 1988. About 15 or more people came, including a few students from Tallahassee Community College.

    Thanks again to Troy Irwin for putting it all together and to Kirsten Borman and Bran Mahoney for spreading the word, and to the rest of the students that showed up. As someone famously said, "Most of life is just about showing up."

    Earlier in the day, I made a stop to the James Madison Institute, a conservative public-policy think tank in the state capital of Florida, Tallahassee. Between JMI and the conservative students at FSU, my Sunshine State is getting more "red" by the minute. Posted by Picasa

    Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Thankful to be in Florida

    I spent this Thanksgiving holiday with some family in Jacksonville, Florida. My parents came up from Palm Beach county and my brother and I left Gainesville, FL (where I had been all week for some ISI business) to join my cousin, her husband and 3 kids, as well as an aunt and an uncle, for some good food, football, and conversation.

    This week, it has been great to reunite with family and with my home state of Florida. Although I won't be making it down to "South Florida" where I grew up, I continue to appreciate all the diversity that my home state of Florida has to offer. Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Tallahassee have been my home these past 10 days. These are three distinct cities in Florida that are truly part of "the south."

    On Thanksgiving Day, my day was made when both of my Miami football teams. the Dolphins and Hurricanes, won. Sure, they are both having rocky season (although watch out for those 'Fins, they might just surprise us all), but it was great to see them both win on Thanksgiving. I topped off a week of sports with a trip to the state capital of Tallahassee to see the Gators beat the Seminoles in FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium. While my brother was reporting for The Independent Florida Alligator, I was able to pluck a ticket off another fan for just $30 and get inside and enjoy the game.

    I am in Tallahassee to meet with some students at FSU and hold a "Get to Know ISI" soiree at FSU on Monday night. But it was nice to utilize some of my time in Florida to get together with family over Thanksgiving and enjoy the warmth of the Sunshine State - not to mention some live Gator football and basketball. (oh yea, did I mention I got a free ticket at UF to see #1 Florida defeat Praire View A&M last Tuesday night?)

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Thanks, Rick - my published article

    I wrote an article about Rick Santorum and what he fought for. It was published today on the ACU's Conservative Battleline.

    Check out the article here.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Jerry Seinfeld: "Stop Laughing. It's Not Funny."

    That's probably a quote you would never have heard Jerry Seinfeld say, but he did last night on the David Letterman Show. In light of the "racist tirade" that Michael Richards (aka "Kramer") went on at a comedy club last week, Seinfeld convinced Letterman to allow Richards to come on to his show and apologize

    I'm not sure a comedy show was the appropriate venue for a serious apology - which is why Seinfeld had to tell the audience, in the middle of Richard's apology, to "Stop laughing. It's Not Funny." Three white Hollywood liberals - Seinfeld, Letterman, and Richards, all trying to figure out why at least one of them might be a racist.

    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    The Florida Frontier

    I'm back in Florida this week. I flew in on Friday afternoon and I've been staying and hanging out with my brother since I got here. Thanks to Casey Hampton, a conservative student from Jacksonville University, who picked me up from the JAX airport and drove me to Gainesville, where the University of Florida is located.

    On Saturday, I attended my first Gator football game in "The Swamp", which seats about 93,000. They reported having about 90,000 in attendance as they destroyed Western Carolina 62-0.

    Today I met with the staff of The Florida Frontier, the newest member of ISI's Collegiate Network. In fact, when they were officially added as a member to the most prestigious network of conservative college publications, they became the 100th current member. I attended The Frontier's Sunday evening meeting where 15 students attended. It ran very smoothly and everyone seemed to be very involved and motivated. After dinner, I took about 4 people from their executive board out to dinner to discuss some finer details of how they could improve.

    This all makes me reflect back to when I started a paper, The Terrapin Times at the University of Maryland. And, I remember having a CN person come visit with our staff and give us some pointers. It's great to have the tables turned and be in this supportive role, and I'm very excited to see their motivation, their ideas, and their creativity at work.

    Tomorrow, we'll be doing a "Get to Know ISI" Soiree at UF with the hopes of introducing other students to all things ISI and increasing ISI's presence on the UF campus.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Post-election thoughts: Where Have All the Conservatives Gone?

    The following is from the introduction of the email I sent out to all of ISI's Volunteers this week after the elections:

    Over the past week, many right-of-center college students have felt disappointed. The Republican Party many of them supported has now lost power in both houses of Congress. But is this really a time to be gloomy? The ISI student knows better.

    As M. Stanton Evans said in his 1964 book, Revolt on the Campus, "The ISI student, first of all, must have a desire for something different, something in contrast to the collective orthodoxy; he must have spontaneous sympathy for the philosophy of freedom and the kind of intellect that spurns simplistic fallacies, and opens into the deeper logic of free men and free institutions."

    A month before the 2006 election, Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative, published an article critical of the state of campus conservatism, "GOP and Man at Yale," which I encourage you to read. In his article, McCarthy claimed that, "The intellectual dexterity that once distinguished campus conservatives has given way to mindless Republican boosterism." As we move forward as conservatives, we must remember the principles we cherish.

    Being a conservative is not about having some kind of power. For, as Lord Action reminded us, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Being a conservative is something different. It is holding on to an idea and keeping that idea alive no matter where the tide of history takes us. As T. S. Eliot told us, "We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors' victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation it will triumph."

    With these thoughts in mind, we must continue to educate ourselves on the principles of a free society and do our part to expand this education to others around us. For more than 53 years, ISI has played a vital role in the "culture wars" and we have been inspired by great men like Russell Kirk who emphasized that it is more important to renew the culture than simply to be focused on seizing some kind of political power. Culture comes before politics. If the culture is renewed, the politics will follow. Below are some ways you can help renew the culture and revitalize the conservative intellectual movement in America.


    From there, I pointed students and faculty to our resources, which you can get at:

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Paleoconservatives Rock Tufts

    On Saturday, October 28, ISI held a day-long symposium on "America and the Idea of Ordered Liberty" (arent' they all named this?) at Tufts University. The event was dominated by that breed of paleoconservatives. Who are "paleoconservatives"? Well, think Pat Buchanan. Paleo-cons are more anti-authoritarian, stressing tradition, civil society, and federalism, along with familial, religious, regional, national, and Western identity. Thank you, Wikipedia.

    The day started with two foundational lectures - one by Professor Michael Federici of Mercyhurst College who spoke on "Rights and Duties: The Original Purpose of the Constitution" and another by Gary Gregg of the University of Louisville who spoke on "Deliberative Democracy and the Idea of Representation."

    Then, came the rock stars. And by "rock" stars, I don't mean any harm or foul to Federici or Gregg. By "rock"stars, I mean the final 3 speakers rocked - as in "shook things up." First, there was the always provocative, yet humorous, Bill Kauffman who was the lunch time speaker. He is the author of Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists. Oh, he's not only in search of them, he's one of them. He gave a talk titled, "The Anti-Federalist Critique" and focused mostly on the life and thought of the Anti-Federalist, Luther Martin. Kauffman argued that there has been an Anti-Federalist strain running throughout American history - at least there has been in his "alternative America."

    Next came Professor Marshall DeRosa from Florida Atlantic University who spoke on "War, Union, and American Democracy after 1865." Let me cut to the point: he gave a defense of the Confederacy. He made a lot of great points about the Confederate argument against nationalism and for regionalism and states rights. With the role of the UN today, DeRosa warned about how the Confederacy's arguments against nationalism would also apply against the move towards a world government (or even things like the EU or NAFTA).

    However, he didn't win over the anti-slavery, pro-Lincoln Yankee crowd. Though there were many that agreed with him, there was certainly a fiery exchange. DeRosa is certainly opposed to slavery, but he's also opposed to the Civil War. Yep, these paleo-cons really don't like any war. But, he has a solid argument: why did 600,000 people have to die and 200,000 slaves have to starve to death after they were freed at the conclusion of the Civil War in order to end slavery just a little earlier than it would have ended anyway (according to DeRosa). The writing was on the wall - the economic need for slavery was running out of steam. But, let's move on to contemporary subjects...

    The final lecture of the day was by Professor Claes Ryn, a Swedish-born political theorist at Catholic University. He spoke about "The ideology of American Empire" and started the lecture by saying we shouldn't be using the term "neo-conservative" - that's just not a proper description of the people we are trying to refer to. Instead, we should call them the "neo-Jacobins" because they are trying to remake the world, turn cultures on their heads, and supplant those cultures with their own. There's too much about his lecture that I could write about, but this post would go on too far... let's just say, it was provocative and he isn't exactly in favor of the war in Iraq.

    About 100 students and faculty from the Boston area attended and it was a fantastic time. One student told me they learned more in that one day then they had in four years at Tufts University. Yep, that's ISI. We "bring it." The next regional conference (like this one) that will be held is slated for March in Charlotesville, Virginia. If you're within a 4-hour drive, you won't want to miss it. ISI. Off the chains, yo.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Maggie and I with students at Franciscan University, in front of the statue of my name sake, St. Francis of Assisi. Posted by Picasa

    Two Catholics Visit Two Catholic Schools

    On Sunday, October 15, my colleague Maggie Perry and I ventured to Steubenville, Ohio to meet with students at Franciscan University - Steubenville. If you follow my blog, you'll remember I dubbed Franciscan the "best Catholic University in the nation" in my post on April 20, 2006. I still hold to that. And, this time, since I was visiting on a Sunday, I wanted to attend mass.

    Mass at Franciscan University is an incredible experience. What a powerful worship it was. Since we were traveling from an hour away (Pittsburgh), we got there a bit early to meet up with Terrance Schilling, who will be leading the ISI Group at Franciscan. Terrance and his girlfriend Becca Herr met us a bit early. But, the chapel was getting packed by 10:30am. Hundreds of students come early to pray and many stayed much longer after mass to continue praying. It is no wonder that his university turns out more students to religious life than any other Catholic school in the nation.

    After mass, we went to lunch with Terrance, Becca, and two other students, Patrice and Teresa. They are really great kids and I have a lot of hope that this group will be successful. ISI has tradtionally had a great relationship with many students and professors at Franciscan, but no real "group" has been there for quite some time (if ever?) Now, it appears there will be an intellectual formative group where these very conservative Catholics can dive even deeper into the deepness that is conservativism and Catholicism.

    On Sunday night, Maggie and I went about an hour or so north to an area just about 30 mintues north of Pittsburgh to stay with her grandmother, who is a charming lady. On Monday, we drove back towards Philly and Delaware, but we stopped at St. Vincent's College in Latrobe, PA. We met up for lunch with some faculty that run the Center for Political and Economic Thought. ISI is helping to co-sponsor some of the lectures they are bringing in. They were very delightful folks and we got a pretty extensive tour of the school, which is America's first Benedictine College. The basilica on campus was just amazing. The curriculum and culture is fairly conservative and the school is actually listed in ISI's All American Colleges guide. (I'm not sure, but Franciscan might be in there too). Just for the record, Franciscan University has been listed in ISI's Choosing the Right College guide.

    After we had lunch, we got back on the road. We had about 4 hours left. Then, I could finally get home and pass out.

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Philadelphia Society meets in Pittsburgh

    On the weekend of October 13-14, I attended the Philadelphia Society's regional meeting in Pittsburgh. I was there with about 5 other colleagues from ISI - all other young staffers. The old guard (Mark Henrie, Jeff Nelson, John Vella, Jeremy Beer, Chad Kifer) decided to skip out on this one it seems. But it was great to get the experience of going. This was now my third "Philly Soc" meeting.

    The Philadelphia Society was co-founded in 1964 by Russell Kirk and other prominent conservatives. Some have described it as "ISI after college". Not a bad description. The meetings are very academic in nature. Papers are presented and topics are discussed that may not be able to be presented elsewhere given the current state of the university. The theme of this meeting was on "The Contested Roots of American Liberty." It focused, for the most part, on our British heritage and how that heritage had an influence at the time of the founding and beyond. Religion was also discussed to a great degree.

    Philly Soc meetings are also great opportunities to "network" and simply to meet other very interesting people... and believe me, I met some (for better or worse). But, it's always interesting. They are serious conservatives discussing serious contemporary issues and looking back at history for guidance. The weekend was fun, but by the end of it, I sure was exhausted. And, even though the conference ended Saturday night with M. Stanton Evans presiding as the emcee, my travels were not over. I still had two more schools to visit, but this time, I had a travel partner - my colleague and friend, Margaret Perry. Two Catholics would visit two very Catholic schools.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Pittsburgh and Western PA

    After being in DC for a few days, I traveled back out west, not quite as far as Michigan and Indiana, but still about 4-5 hours west to the Pittsburgh area.

    On Thursday evening, October 12th, we held a "Get to Know ISI" soiree at Carnegie Mellon University. It was a very poor turnout - only 3 students and 1 field rep from the Leadership Institute (David Beers) showed up. But, for the 5 of us, there was plenty of pizza (wow, I bought too much). And, the 3 students that did show up seemed very interested, and they even told me it's hard to get any conservative students out to any events at Carnegie Mellon. So be it. We tried. I left them with ALOT of ISI literature, so maybe they passed it out and some seeds are being planted.

    After the event, David Beers and I grabbed a few drinks at a local spot in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was very impressive to me. Very neat architecture, among the buildings and bridges (lots of bridges! and tunnels!)

    The next day, I woke up and traveled north about an hour to Grove City College, where I had lunch with our ISI Group there, which is doing VERY WELL. Led by Professor Jason Edwards, a former ISI Salvatori Fellow and Douglas El-Sanadi, an ISI honors fellow, they have been reading like crazy. Only 6 months ago, I visited GCC and there wasn't very much happening with the group then. But, then Dr. Edwards got involved. Over the summer they read Science, Politics, Gnosticism by Eric Voegelin and Visions of Order by Richard Weaver. (That is some really tough reading!) Now, they are becoming engrossed with The Superfluous Men: Conservative Critics 1900-1945, which is a collection of essays from the "conservatives" before the conservative movement began in 1945. And, they are also reading one of the most recent titles from ISI Books, Look Homeward, America! by Bill Kauffman.

    This was my second visit ever to Grove City College. I love the place. It's a conservative's dream when it comes to the education and the culture. And, these students and professors are taking it up a notch intellectually. Impressive. I drove back to Pittsburgh after our extended lunch meeting and got ready for the Philadelphia Society's regional meeting there. More on that in the next post.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Conservatism on Tap: Taking on Big Business and Big Government

    On October 10, another edition of the ISI Young Alumni's Conservatism on Tap event took place in Washington, D.C. This time, it was moved to a new and much more impressive venue: The District Chophouse in the heart of downtown D.C. There are no distractions there, as we had our own room in the basement, where it was quiet enough to hear our speaker, Mr. Tim Carney.

    Mr. Carney gave a talk on the topic of his book, The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money. It was a good talk and it many people there (especially those that are "new" to ISI) told me it was refreshing to hear a conservative be just as critical of big business as they are of big government.

    The next "Conservatism on Tap" takes place on Saturday, November 4th from 2-4pm at the District Chophouse. The speaker is Dr. Brad Wilcox from the University of Virginia who will speak on the topic, "Why Marriage Matters: A view from the social sciences."

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Going Back to Indiana

    Well, after spending some time in South Bend, Indiana... Kenneth and I traveled down to Indiana Wesleyan University and Ball State University. Both towns are situated in areas surrounded by corn fields. We could almost smell it.

    The students we met with at IWU seemed really motivated and were excited about ISI. When I asked them to pick out a place to meet, they chose the best off-campus venue they could think of: Applebee's! Kenneth and I thought, "Bill Kaufmann wouldn't like this." Mr. Kauffman is a "localist" and doesn't care much for large chains like Applebee's, as his ISI Books title, Look Homeward, America points out on many occassions. Anyways, the locals chose Applebee's, so we're off the hook. The state chair of the College Republicans, Eric Bussis, attends IWU and he put together the ISI Soiree at Applebee's.

    The next day, we went just a bit further south to Ball State University and met with some students there as well. Then, finally, on Wednesday, October 4, we packed the bags for the final time and headed back across Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and back home. It was an exhausting, but productive trip... spreading the conservative revolution, one campus at a time.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    ISI at Notre Dame

    After we left Mecosta, Kenneth and I drove down to Indiana. On Sunday evening, October 1, we held a "Get to Know ISI" soiree at the University of Notre Dame. The Irish Rover, which is on ISI's Collegiate Network, help set it up. About 35 students attended and they were treated to free pizza and sodas, and plenty of ISI materials, including brochures, journals, books, student's guides, and even t-shirts. I gave a short talk on all of ISI's programs and how students could get involved.

    No worries, plenty of students at Notre Dame are already well involved with ISI. Before our visit, I think I noticed that we had at least 150 current ISI members at Notre Dame alone. Many were involved with the ISI Group, the Orestes Brownson Council, while others are involved with ISI's Collegiate Network publication, The Irish Rover. On Monday morning, Kenneth and I had breakfast with three ND graduate students who are going to start another ISI group at Notre Dame, one solely for grad students. The 3 that we met with are all in their first semester at Notre Dame and have all been ISI Honors Fellows as undergraduates. All are coming from separate schools and are now finding they "need" ISI as grad students at Notre Dame. It's too bad I wasn't accepted there, maybe I could have joined them.

    ISI is now hitting Notre Dame from all angles - an undergrad group, a grad student group, a media publication, not to mention the many faculty and students that are ISI members, and the many lectures ISI helps bring to the Notre Dame campus each year.

    I'll reiterate this experience about Notre Dame again, as I did when I blogged about my experience there this past April: their student life is great. Once again, I celebrated mass with Tommy Forr, the Editor of The Irish Rover (and one of the best students I know) at his 10pm dorm mass. Several other ISI students were at the same mass. You can't beat the experience of coming back to your dorm and being a part of celebrating the foundational Catholic traditions and culture with your fellow classmates and dormmates.

    This university could be doing better... but for now, with the help of ISI and the strength of its student life, it's doing just fine.

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    ISI intellectual retreat at the home of Russell Kirk

    Here is a group photo inside the Kirk home at the conclusion of the ISI intellectual retreat at Piety Hill in Mecosta, Michigan. Posted by Picasa

    On Friday, September 29, we kicked off an intellectual weekend in Mecosta, Michigan at the home of Russell Kirk. Kenneth and I at ISI led another ISI intellectual retreat, featuring Annette Kirk, author Jim Person, and Professor Richard Gamble (Hillsdale). 14 students attended, from schools including the University of Notre Dame, Indiana Wesleyan University, Hillsdale College, Wayne State University, and Michigan State. Three Wilbur Foundation Fellows took part in our weekend as well (they are "in residence at Piety Hill for the semester).

    On Friday night, we met at the Outback Lodge, a large bed and breakfast place where all the students stayed for the weekend. It's about 10 minutes from Piety Hill, the Kirk home. They made us a "ribs and chicken" buffet spread with lots of other pickings. After dinner, I introduced the weekend and then Annette Kirk gave a talk about her Life with Russell Kirk. Following her talk, she answered questions. The whole segment went on for about 90 minutes. The students (and myself) absolutely loved hearing her talk about her life, and her life with Russell Kirk, who wrote The Conservative Mind in 1953, a book that identified a conservative tradition in American and gave a "name" to the movement.

    On Saturday, the students gathered in the Kirk library and we heard from author Jim Person, a Michigander who wrote the first biography about Kirk titled, Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind. Mr. Person and Mrs. Kirk fielded some questions about the library, the home, and the man and his thought. We had lunch at the Checkerboard Diner in downtown Mecosta and then made a visit to the gravesite of Russell Kirk. On his grave is a quote from his favorite author, T.S. Eliot. It says: "The communication of the dead is tounged with fire beyond the language of the living." His grave is situated in a very pastoral setting, in a cemetery of the parish of St. Michael's in a town called Remus, about 10 minutes from the Kirk home.

    After we paid our respects, we went to the bookstore in Mecosta, which has about 100,000 books! I picked up a couple Kirk titles and another title. The students and I spent at least an hour or two in the bookstore. Then, we went back and rested for the evening, some spent some quality time of their own in the Kirk library.

    That evening, we returned to the Kirk library, all dressed up, and heard a lecture from Professor Richard Gamble of Hillsdale College. He gave a splendid talk on "Russell Kirk and the American Identity." It was a reflection on Kirk, his thought on American history and America's role in the world, and the students asked questions about Kirk's thought with contemporary issues in mind. Dr. Gamble recounted some personal encounters he had with Kirk towards the end of Kirk's life. This was his first visit to Mecosta and he told me that visiting Piety Hill and lecturing in the Kirk library was one of the thrills of his academic calling.

    After the lecture, we went to the Kirk home (which Kenneth and I had been privileged to be at earlier the previous day to prepare with Mrs. Kirk for the weekend). We had a catered dinner in the home and then Jim Person led some Kirk ghost stories in the living room. (In addition to being a writer on political thought, Kirk also was a fictional ghost story writer and he had some real ghost stories in his home that he often drew from). We turned off all the lights, lit some candles, and listened intently. We then closed the official activities of the weekend and left the legendary Piety Hill at dark. It was an experience I'll never forget.

    Kenneth and I had pulled up to Piety Hill on our own on Friday morning well before the students arrived and we had lunch with Mrs. Kirk. At a table that sat four, Mrs. Kirk sat at one end, and Kenneth and I sat across from each other. To my left, there was an open chair, but during the course of the nearly 90-minute lunch, I glanced over a few times to that empty chair, I kept thinking in the back of my mind that Russell Kirk was sitting there listening in on our conversation, perhaps listening with hope for the rising generation. I only hope our weekend helped inspire that rising generation.

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    Amadeus in Michigan

    On Thursday, Kenneth and I drove from Delaware to Michigan. It was about 10 hours to Ann Arbor, and while it was greuling, it went by fairly fast. Once we got there, we met with an ISI Campus Represenative and one of his friends, as well as two editors of The Michigan Review, which is on ISI's Collegiate Network. It was a fun meeting, a really great group of students who daily face some of the oddest and politically leftist stuff known to man. But, they are fighting the good fight.

    We had dinner at a restaurant called "Amadeus." It was very nice (and pricy). As we ate, Mozart's music filled the background, and thus, some remants of Western Civilization were kept alive.

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies in DC

    The Ralph McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies is offering a three-year program in philosophical studies that will provide a wide-ranging introduction to classical philosophy. The program consists of six courses over three years (during the fall and spring semesters), each course consisting of 6 or 7 two-hour sessions, including lectures and time for discussion.

    I attended the first one on Wednesday night at their temporary headquarters around 6th and E Streets NW in D.C. The first lecture was delivered by Ralph McInerny himself. McInerny is a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and author of the ISI Student's Guide to Philosophy. His lecture was very similar to the student guide, which offers a general overview of the history of philosophy, among other things.

    This program is intended for generally educated citizens who wish to develop a deeper grounding in philosophy. No previous formal study in philosophy is required. Their goal is to provide people with sound philosophical “tools” that will help them to evaluate and form judgments about problems and issues facing them and their fellow citizens, drawing especially on the ethics and metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas. About 30 people attended, and ISI provided each of them with a free copy of McInerny's student's guide.

    I hope attending these courses will better equip me with the sound philosophical "tools" that I certainly look forward to learning about and employing. A few friends are taking this course with me including Rick Barry of the Center for a Just Society and his roommate Matt, and Peter Redpath of The Federalist Society, and at least some appearances by Joe Lindsley of The Weekly Standard.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    ISI releases Civic Literacy Report

    At an event today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the White House, ISI released it's extensive study of American higher education and their inability to impart the knowledge of our nation's history, government, and economic system to this generation of college students.

    Check out the study, titled, The Coming Crisis In Citizenship. If a generation doesn't know the history and function of self-government, it is not likely that the idea of self-government will survive. As Thomas Jefferson said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . .it expects what never was and never will be."

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Bill Kaufmman "Looks Homeward" in Delaware

    ISI author Bill Kauffman delivered a lecture at ISI's F.M. Kirby Campus in Wilmington, Delaware on the topic of his new book, Look Homeward, America. Kauffman encourages Americans to rethink the idea of American regionalism by cultivating their own community to have a unique identity and to abandon the "sameness" that seems to accompany modern-day American cities and regions.

    Who's to blame for the "one big shopping mall" mentality where the same businesses, suburban sprawl, and homogenization of the culture continues to make the many diverse parts of our nation look the same? Maybe it's big business, big media, or big government. But, ultimately it is up to the individual to affect change in their local community and to reidentify with the notion of "place", to set their roots and their efforts in one community that they can truly call home by appreciating the uniqueness of place and enjoy the uniqueness of traveling to other regions and appreciating those communities for who they are.

    Say goodbye to Starbuck's and welfare. Say hello to Bill Kauffman. He's in search of "reactionary radicals and front-porch anarchists."

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    ISI's "First State Initiative" gets started at UD

    ISI has launched the "First State Initiative" with a kick-off lecture at the University of Delaware on September 20, with Dr. Matt Spalding from the Heritage Foundation speaking on the topic, "George Washington as the Model of American Statesmanship."

    The "First State Initiative" is a concentrated series of ISI programming focused in the first state to ratify the Constitution, Delaware - which also happens to be the state which houses ISI's national headquarters.

    Delaware's News Journal mentioned the new ISI initiative in the first state and about 80 people attended the lecture at the University of Delaware.

    The first state initiative also includes a George Washington essay contest for Delaware's high school students as well as lectures at colleges, universities, and high schools located in the first state. ISI hopes to vastly increase our presence in the first state to help give back to the local community that we are a part of by providing resources to Delaware's best students and teachers.

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Annapolis and DC

    This past week, I traveled for two whole days to visit some schools in Annapolis and D.C., as well as attend the first CPAC Planning Meeting of the year for the March 1-3, 2007 conference that brings together the conservative movement.

    My first stop was Annapolis, where I met up with some really great and motivated students from St. John's College and the U.S. Naval Academy. It appears they are now going to start up a new ISI reading group between the two schools. (sorry if this is a boring description, I'm really tired)

    I was heading to D.C. earlier than expected to stay at my friend Rick's place, so I called around a few folks (since Rick wasn't back home yet). I ended up getting in touch with John McCormack at GWU to see if he was around. He sure was and informed me that there was the first meeting of the year for his Collegiate Network publication, the GWU Patriot. So, I showed up - I got there a little early (seemed to be a trend for the night) and the College Republicans at GWU were still having their very large and impressive meeting. So, I got to introduce myself to a few new students (I didn't come that prepared for 100 students!) I just mingled with a few sharp ones and they were happy to hear about ISI's resources.

    I stuck around and met a few potential new writers for the Patriot, as well as some other editors on the staff. After getting some ice cream with them, I headed over to Capitol Hill to stay at Rick's place, where his roommates introduced me to the show "Lost". Now, I'm hooked on that.

    The next day, I went to Georgetown and sat in on the class of the legendary Father James V. Schall. He has written many books, including a few of my favorites, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs and the ISI Student's Guide to Liberal Learning. It was a fun 50 minutes, which turned into an extra special 2 plus more hours with the man across the lunch table. David Beer, our ISI Campus Representative at Georgetown set it all up and attended the lunch with 2 other ISI students from the class. Father Schall was awesome. I have always looked forward to meeting him, and this was an amazing opportunity that few privileged folks could have. He's very entertaining and has a great sense of humor. Not to mention, brilliant.

    Later, I met with Peter Redpath at the Federalist Society to discuss how ISI and the FedSoc could work together a bit more on the educational front of college campuses. Peter was an ISI honors fellow back in the 90's. After he received his law degree, he went to work for the Federalist Society, where he has been for a good 6 or 7 years.

    Next stop: back to the University of Maryland-College Park. This time I was meeting with some College Republicans who are poised to make the next advance of the conservative campus movement at UMCP, where I got my start in that venture. After that was done, I returned back to D.C. to hang out with Rick and his roommates for a bit. I had to get up early though, for the first CPAC planning meeting... which I might blog about next.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Andre Agassi retires a champion

    Today is a monumental day in tennis history. Andre Agassi lost today in the 3rd round of the U.S. Open and retired. He announced earlier this summer that the U.S. Open would be the last and final professional tournament of his career. Even with a bad back, he played on, beating Andrei Pavel in 4 sets, outlasting #8 Marcos Baghdatis in an unforgettable 5-set night match that lasted nearly 4 hours. Today, his back and young Benjamin Becker got the best of him. But, Agassi went out a winner - both on and off the court.

    I cannot write a column any better than Barry Lorge who wrote about the "Evolution and appreciation of Agassi," for

    But, I can say, I remember when I was about 10 years old and my dad took me and my brother (both avid tennis players and fans) to see Andre Agassi play at the Lipton tournament in Key Biscayne, FL. I can't remember the exact year, but it was around when I was 10 years old. Agassi was the young, colorful player, wearing his famous flashy Nike outfits (you remember, those pink and black outfits). He also had the long hair and was the "rebel" of the tennis world. His matches were always exciting. Sure, he had some tantrums now and then, but they were fun to watch. His match ended up going five sets, and we left early since it was a school night. We read about how he lost to Aaron Krickstein that night, apparently the result of some cramping. Turns out, now at age 36, he was outlasting the young 21-year old Baghdatis, who was cramping up during the end of the 5th set.

    I also remember watching Agassi play live while I attended the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. I kept taking video of his then-fiance/wife Brooke Shields who was sitting courtside during the match. Those were the glitz and glamour days for ol' Andre.

    Over time, Agassi has changed. He lost some hair, then he he lost all his hair, and he grew more mature. And then married a perhaps even bigger tennis champion, Steffi Graf. He is now more emotional and more humble. Some people never grow up, but Agassi did, right before our eyes. He also became one of only 5 men to ever win all four Grand Slams during his career. Today, he walked out of the sport he gave his life to. He walked out a champion on the court and perhaps a bigger champion off the court. Posted by Picasa

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Conservative Leadership on Campus in VA

    On Wednesday, our trip took a turn to the right. That's right, some campuses are on the right, and there are some right of center organizations working to impact America's college campuses. My day began by visiting The Leadership Institute. At LI, I gave a talk to about 65 of their field reps who are going out all over the country to helps students "Fight the Left" on college campuses. My talk was simply to inform them of ISI's educational resources and how they can benefit. There was certainly a lot of energy in the room, and I saw some good ISI alums among the LI field reps, including Ryan Sorba (Cal State-SB), Shah Smith (Portland State), Travis Ratliff (Cal State-Bakersfield) and others.

    While I was at LI, Kenneth was over at George Mason University's School of Law meeting with a couple of ISI Faculty Associates. In the afternoon, we set up a table at the law school's activities fair to do some outreach for ISI. We ran into a few people who had been involved with ISI as undergrads and were excited we were there. But, we introduced ISI to a bunch of first year law students. GMU law is a very conservative law school, both among the faculty and the students, so we were making a lot of friends quickly.

    Later in the evening, Andrew Lamar had set us up to speak at a College Republicans meeting at Marymount University, a Catholic liberal arts schools in Arlington. Not exactly a conservative school, but about 40 CR's turned up for their first meeting of the year. Andrew, Kenneth, and I all gave talks about ISI and the some of the students seemed excited.

    On Thursday, Kenneth and I ventured out to the conservative meccas of Christendom College and Patrick Henry College. Both are very small schools (400 and 300 students respectively). About 80% of the students that attend each college were also "home schoolers". Both schools are religious, though Christendom is an orthodox Catholic school and Patrick Henry is well, a pretty fervent evangelical Protestant school.

    At Christendom, we met up with a number of ISI Faculty Associates, professors who got their start with ISI while students, including Dr. Robert Rice who said he was involved with ISI "since 1964" when ISI was still called the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists. He was participating in a meeting with the ISI Group at Christendom, the "Cincinnatus League." Kenneth and I planned our visit to be at the lunch time gathering (which takes places once a week during the semester). These students are reading the ISI Books title, J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth by Professor Bradley Birzer. Kenneth and I were completely impressed by the meeting and the deep intellectual thought that the students brought to the discussion of the text. It simply demonstrates the great education they are all receiving at Christendom and their appreciation and love of learning. This is a group of students who get a fine education all day long, but then meet once a week to get an "extra amount of education" among themselves to cultivate their own intellects even further.

    From Front Royal, VA, we drove about an hour to Purcellville, VA where Patrick Henry College is located. Once there, our ISI Campus Representative and ISI Group leader, Zac Gappa, set us up a table on campus and sent out an email to all 300 students on campus to come meet the representatives from ISI. We talked to ALOT of students. I'd say more than 50. And, while we already have a good 50-100 members from PHC, an additional 30 or so new members signed up. The students seemed very excited about ISI and all we have to offer. And, why shouldn't they? They should all be members and I simply hope they will all get more involved in some of our more elite programs, such as the honors program and applying for graduate fellowships and taking part in our essay contests.

    That evening, we went to dinner with our ISI Group at PHC, the Alexis de Tocqueville Society." While at most schools, the ISI Group is the conservative group, I would argue (and they would too) that at the very conservative Patrick Henry College, this student initated academic forum is the most liberal group on campus. However, when these students leave campus, they are still seen as very conservative. It's just a different campus. They are all very impressive students and everywhere I go, when I mention the ATS to random studnets from PHC, they always tell me, "they're the most well-respected group on campus." That must be why I have such a high opinion for PHC students - it's because I work with the most well-respected among them!

    On Friday, Kenneth and I met with a student from George Mason University (the main campus in Fairfax this time). He was probably the most impressive guy we met all week and we're really excited to help him make things happen at GMU as he ventures into his senior year. He wants to bring principled conservatism to GMU through lectures and a book discussion club. GMU is not necessarily a "conservative" school, but it has a fairly conservative leaning student body. There seems to be a lot of potential for ISI there.

    Northern Virginia seems to be a great recruiting ground for ISI, but also a great ground to cultivate some of the seeds we planted this week. After going to 9 schools and one conservative organization (LI) in just 5 days, and driving over 1,000 miles, we were not ready to sit in 4 hours of traffic in the pouring rain of what was left of tropical depression Ernesto. But, alas, our bellies were full with Chipotle and our minds had been impacted by the best students the Commonwealth of Virginia has to offer. We got back home late on Friday night, but it was a really inspiring week.

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Traveling in Virginia this week

    My colleague Kenneth and I have been traveling through the Commonwealth of Virginia this week. We started out by driving down to Fredericksburg, where we met up with Andrew Lamar, the state chairman of the Virginia Federation of College Republicans. Andrew is a great guy, very personable and very well-connected around the state. He traveled with us down to the University of Richmond, where we met with some of the leadership of the College Republicans there and also set up a table on campus for about 2 hours, doing outreach to students for ISI.

    Later that evening, we traveled back to Fredericksburg to Andrew's campus, the University of Mary Washington, where we did a "Get to Know ISI" soiree with about 25 conservative students. It was a blast and it functioned as a happy hour-style event at a local pub.

    On Tuesday, we traveled down to Charlottesville and met with a variety of students and professors involved with ISI, including the ISI Group, the Network for Enlightened Women (N.E.W.) and the Collegiate Network paper, The Virginia Advocate. We met up with these students to discuss ideas of what they and ISI have planned for the UVA campus in the upcoming year. They are all very motivated students. We also met with some of the leadership of the College Republicans at UVA to help get them more involved with ISI as well.

    Later that evening, Kenneth and I drove out to Harrisonburg, VA (just west of the Shenandoah Mountains) and met with a great group of students at James Madison University. First of all, what better name for an American university is there than James Madison University? The dinner included 2 ISI student campus representatives, a few College Republicans, 2 students from the "Dukes for Life" as well as the editor of the Collegiate Network paper, The Madison Review. They all have really enjoyed most of their experience at JMU.

    All of these students are now more excited about ISI and after meeting them, Kenneth and I are more excited to work with them in the future. We leave these meetings more energized to do the work of ISI, especially when we go around to campuses like UVA and see all the politically correct sensitivity signs everywhere... but the remnants of Western Civilization are alive and well. They may only be remnants, but they are keeping the traditions of America alive in the Old Dominion.

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    Back to high school - 10 years later - the reunion!

    10 years. It has been 10 years since I graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Oh how the time flies. I was reflecting on all the things I've done since high school. It's too much to list in this entry, but it's a lot. High school almost seems like another time in history, my history anyways.

    I have only kept in touch with 3 special friends since high school and they are Sean Gross, Lindsey Demerritt, and Crystal Ferrara. But, guess what? These 3 didn't go to the reunion. So, I was questioning, literally days before, whether I would go or not. So, finally I decided to choke up the $100 for the ticket (and probably another $100 for food, gas, and drinks) and go - all by myself. I was a bit nervous about that, and then I walked into the first event on Friday night at Mango's in Fort Lauderdale. Would I remember anyone? Would they remember me?

    I walked in to the registration table and thank the Lord they had name tags for everyone! During the course of the weekend, I would say about half the people looked the same and maybe half the people I didn't really recognize, so the name tags helped. Then, the memories came flashing back. All kinds of memories - from classes we shared, to parties, sports, concerts, and retreats.

    Everyone I saw and talked to seemed really nice, mature, grown-up, and laid back. You often hear that at high school reunions people are trying to "impress" each other. I saw none of that, at least not that I could notice. People generally were interested in each other and in what everyone was doing, where they were living, and what they've been up to for the past 10 years. Many people, including myself, mingled with about as many people as they could, exchanged business cards, phone numbers, and emails and said, "let's keep in touch" or "I'll look you up when i'm in (your town)". Sometimes you wonder how much people really will keep in touch, but I'm sure that a few will with me and with others.

    The first night was designed to be a happy hour that was supposed to last from about 5:30-8pm. I was there until 10:30pm! And, when I left, probably half the people were still there. I could have probably been there another 2 hours. The next day they had a beach cookout, which I missed to attend a family function for my cousin Kevin who is entering the marines. But, I did make it back for the dinner at the Riverhouse (restaurant) in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday night. That event was really nice, with some good food (served buffet style) and plenty of drinks to keep people socializing and in good spirits.

    We have lots of talent in my class - people in Hollywood, working at CNN and for Turner Broadcasting, performers, athletes, and even a few involved in politics. There were also a few police officers, fire fighters, and a host of teachers and those involved in the business world. About 150 of the 360 from our class made it to the reunion, and of those, I would say about 30-40% of them were married. Of those, a handful had kids, which they brought to the "tour of the school" (10 years later) on Sunday morning, which was followed by a Catholic mass at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs across the street from STA. The numbers significantly dropped for the mass/tour. Probably only about 25-30 people came to that on Sunday morning.

    There were about 5-6 couples from our class that married within the class. Pretty neat. I couldn't remember if some of these folks were dating while in high school or not. I assume some were, but I couldn't remember. All in all, it was an awesome experience and I have already been in correspondence with a number of people from the class who I otherwise would not have had the chance to reunite with had I not gone.

    The experience of going back was at first mildly uncomfortable to walk into, but I felt confident there would be plenty of others in my same boat, and there were. Strangely, that kind of sounds like the first days of high school. It was good to be back. There's probably no other stranger, yet interesting and worthy experience to have than a reunion. That's what life is all about - connecting and reconnecting with those you know and those you don't know. Uniting and reuniting is certainly an essential part of the human condition.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Florida fun

    I returned to Florida on Friday, August 11 and spent a week with my family and some friends. Here's some quick highlights:

    - played tennis with my dad and one of my brothers

    - ate lots of good home cookin' - thanks mom!

    - got together with my friend Jacqui from FAU and she told me all about her travels to Spain this summer and what it's like being a teacher in Florida

    - my friend Eric came down from Orlando and we spent a day at the beach and the pool

    - later that night, Eric, my brother Tony and his girlfriend went to see CANDLEBOX! They were back on tour after a 7 year hiatus. It was just like being back in high school

    - I attended my 10-year high school reunion, which I'll blog more about

    - My uncle and aunt had a really nice get together with a lot of the extended family to celebrate the fact that my cousin Kevin Gonzalez is going to be a Marine! He just graduated high school and is making us all proud! His younger brother David made a really nice video commemorating this decision and we all watched it. It was very emotional, but inspiring. At one point in the video, it showed video images of the planes hitting the WTC on 9/11, with audio from media describing what was happening, and with audio from President Bush saying, "we will find those who committed these horrible acts and we will hunt them down." At that point the video's spirits picked up as big words went across the screen with upbeat music as the words said, "Go Get'em Kevin!" We are proud of him and if he can pass the tests, I know he will make a great Marine!

    - I came back from Florida on Monday, August 21, and went right back to work

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    I'm in Boulder - where's Ward Churchill?

    So, we got to Boulder on the evening of August 3rd. Enza and I came there to meet up with our other colleagues from ISI's Jack Miller Center for the Teaching of America's Founding Principles. It's a very new program that first kicked off last year with one summer institute. The "summer institutes" are 2-week long programs where about 30 young faculty (recent Ph.D.'s and advanced graduate students) are invited to take part in sessions conducted by distinguished faculty.

    Distinguished professors like James Caesar of UVA, Harvey Mansfield of Harvard, Peter Lawler of Berry College, Wilfred McClay of U Tennessee-Chattanooga, and a selection of others come and teach these young teachers how to teach America's founding principles in the classroom. They are very focused on literature such as The Federalist Papers and Tocqueville's Democracy in America. On Friday around lunch time, I gave a talk to them all called, "Inspire Your Students to Learn: An Introduction to ISI's resources."

    After the talk, I had a little bit of free time, so I decided I'd find Ward Churchill's office. Found it pretty quickly, where the Ethnic Studies office is located. They had some murals on the wall, which were, well... quite disturbing. It was all about how America is trying to recover from its history of slavery, domination, and oppression. They see the history of America as a history of oppression. Ward Churchill wasn't there. I had met him a few months back, but one of his colleagues that was there during this summer month, told me she thought he was in Japan with his wife. Professor Churchill's day at Colorado might be numbered since he is in a bit of a battle for his tenure (which is has been found out was given without qualifications).

    What was most striking to me is how politicized the CU Ethnic Studies department is compared to what the ISI professors are teaching. One view exposes why America is so unique and why it is a beacon of hope and freedom, while the other view takes a negative view of America and tries to show why America is oppressive. Just ask most immigrants a generation after they land on America's shores (and even some who are just now landing here). They'll tell you they've come because America is a land of opportunity. But I bet Professor Churchill would simply say, they were a "little Eichman."

    Boulder, by the way, is a beautiful city. About a mile from CU is an area of shops in a promenade on "Pearl Street". You can always see the mountains right there and the shops and restaurants open up to the center of the broad walkway, where there are plenty of people performing as if I was in Las Ramblas in Barcelona. The streets and the air were clean and it certainly seemed like such a liveable place. I actually would argue it might be the best college town there is. Although it's summer time, so one never can tell what a place looks like with an extra 30,000 people around. By the end of this trip, I was tired and about ready to return to the east coast.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Wyoming and Colorado

    On Thursday, August 3 - my colleague Enza and I drove from Big Sky, Montana to Boulder, Colorado. In total - an 11 hour drive. Enza did most of it. She took the first 8 hours, making the last 3 seem pretty easy for me.

    We drove through some wide open spaces, with mountain ranges in the distance, and mostly flat open land (with some hills) and "a whole lot of nothing." Then, sometimes we would just come upon something that just looked really cool. At one point Enza said to me, "we should be taking pictures! we could make a calendar." Yes, these were picture perfect calendar scenes of natural wonders. At another point, Enza said, "How can people see this (natural beauty) and not believe in God." I thought the same thing.

    Being out on the road sometimes allows you to reflect, especially when you're driving through a state like Wyoming. At the suggestion of a student, CJ from Seattle Pacific, we stopped in Casper, Wyoming (his hometown). It was a very beautiful, nicely laid out city right next to the mountains. We found the restaurant he told us about "Sanford's" which was really cool. It was like TGI Fridays in the sense that there were memorablia all around, but it was way crazier looking then Friday's. Much more hip.

    After that one-hour stop, we poured it on to Boulder, Colorado... where we arrived on Thursday evening. We were welcomed into Boulder by the mountains, we just kept driving closer to them until you couldn't drive much closer. A beautiful city where we would spend the next 3 days, in the middle of the 2-week long ISI Summer Institute for the teaching of America's founding principles.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Prepared for Yellowstone

    On Sunday, July 30, we had an off-day between the two honors program conferences. After mass and breakfast, I was able to journey to and through our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone with my colleagues Enza and Judy.

    Yellowstone is certainly an interesting place. As land set aside for enjoying, it contains the elements of order and chaos all in one. There is chaos in the sense of the wildlife and the “wild” side of nature that you can observe. I saw herds of bison and elk; geysers, hot springs, and even a canyon. However, in a national park, there is also order to all of this wild chaos. You must drive through one of the park’s many entrances, manned by park rangers who charge $25 per car for parking tags. “It’s good for seven days,” said the ranger. “But I only have seven hours,” I replied. “That’s a shame,” he insisted, “you should come back more prepared.” Well, it was the one day off I had during my business trip, so two colleagues and I had a lot of driving to do around the park before we headed back to work.

    Yellowstone is certainly doable in a day. Sure, we didn’t see “everything.” But we did see a lot, as described above. We got our share of order and chaos in one of America’s most scenic places. We even saw order and chaos blend at one point, when, on one part of the long two-lane road that circles the southern part of Yellowstone, a park ranger stopped traffic in both directions so that a herd of about 30 bison could run by. Most of the bison stayed about 30 feet from the road, but at least five or six of them ran right in our lane or crossed over the pavement. At the moment, things felt out of control, but after a few minutes of coming within feet of a bison, things seemed to return to normalcy pretty quick.

    We also got to see Old Faithful, which after waiting for it for an hour and seeing it go up for maybe 3 minutes, we were not overly impressed. But, we saw it. Not sure it would be worth traveling thousands of miles for, but hey, it's nature working in a mysterious way, and as long as you remember that, it's pretty spectacular. Later in the day, we also saw the "Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone." It was awesome. Not quite "the" Grand Canyon, but still high enough for me to be nervous and also appreciate the majesty. There were also lots of mountains, prairies, and even a beautiful (and very blue) Yellowstone Lake.

    By the end of the day, we felt we saw more than the park ranger thought we would, so as we drove past the exit gate where we had entered 7 hours earlier, I rolled down my window and yelled (probably for my own peace of mind), "We came plenty prepared!"

    Friday, July 28, 2006

    ISI honors program in Montana

    On Thursday, I drove about 6 hours from Utah, through Idaho, and finally ended up in Big Sky, Montana, where the ISI Honors Program is taking place. Week 1 is almost over. I came up in the middle of it, to give a talk to the 25 honors fellows that are here this week to "take your ISI experience back to campus." My hope is that many of them will start or become involved with ISI Groups on their campus so that their honors program experience doesn't end here, but continues to create an alternative educational experience for them and many other students on their campus.

    Montana is beautiful. My first time here. Mountains, open spaces, fresh, clean air (I love the smell of the pine trees). We're elevated pretty high up here, so you can start feeling a bit dehydrated pretty quick, and one beer may even give you a buzz. We're staying at the "Big Sky Resort" which has about 5 hotels. Skiing is big here in the winter, but the hotel staff told me they are still at about 80% capacity in the summer. I probably prefer visiting in the summer actually.

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Salt Lake City, Utah

    I flew into Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday. I had a few hours to walk around the city. Very clean, very nice, but smaller than I thought. I went down to "Temple Square" where the major Mormon Temple is located. Only Mormons are allowed in. It's a very pious tradition, I guess you could say.

    But, I saw some of the gardens, and a tiny bit of the welcome center museum about the Mormon Temple. I also went to the Family Research Center they have where the Mormons are still compiling records of just about everyone they can to trace back the entire human genealogy. I spent a few minutes on one of their computers to look up my mom's side of the family. I found my grandma on a 1930 census from Ohio. But then they told me I can do this all from home at So maybe I will.

    I met with Josh Daniels, a student from BYU. Josh is also the Executive Director of the College Republican Federation of Utah. He's already an ISI member and will now be a Campus Representative at BYU. He seems like a great guy (all Mormons do actually - ok the ones I know do). He's excited about getting more students in Utah involved with ISI and I'm excited to help him do it.

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Bush says "S" word... and more with Blair has the video/audio recording of President Bush speaking to Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 luncheon. It's a real funny video (can't believe it's real, but apparently it is), where Bush and Blair are just casually talking over lunch (Bush munching on food, it's hilarious), but it just shows how they are real people, shooting the sh-t about the Israel-Lebanon situation, Iran, Iraq, etc.

    At one point Bush says to Blair, "See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."

    Damn straight, Mr. Prez.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Conservatism on Tap featured in Campus Report Online

    Julia Seymour of Accuracy in Academia wrote about the first "Conservatism on Tap" event at the Brickskeller on July 12th for Campus Report Online.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Conservatism on Tap!

    On Wednesday night, our recently formed ISI Young Alumni Association in DC held their first major event, "Conservatism on Tap." This will be a monthly series, supported by ISI, to bring young conservatives together in DC in a social setting. The venue for the talk was the Brickskeller, which is one of the coolest, most collegial bars in DC. The bar claims to have over 1,000 beers from around the world, "the largest selection of beers from around the world."

    ISI Faculty Associate, Patrick Deneen (Professor of Government from Georgetown) was the speaker and he spoke on the topic, "Vocation and Modern Society." He talked about how finding one's life calling is more difficult in today's modern society and the talk was very deep and hit on a lot of points. But, I think one that stuck out to me was how the idea of "place" (or space) is quite different in America, especially today, as most Americans move around, travel more frequently and never do come to grips with their "restlessness."

    Over 80 people showed up in a space that really fit about 60 comfortably. About 55 free drink tickets were handed out, which taught us that we'll need to start limiting the RSVPs for the next one and for future events, which is scheduled for August 8th at the Brickskeller. William Saunders of the Family Research Council will be speaking on the topic, "The Roberts Court - Lessons from the hearings, the 2006 term, and what to expect in 2007." Should be good.

    Kudos to Evan Baehr, Cindy Searcy, and Brendan Steinhauser for setting this all up. They are trying to create a post-college intellectual environment for young conservatives who wind up in that most un-conservative place, the District of Columbia.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Miami Heat: 2006 NBA Champions!

    The Miami Heat, down 0-2 in the NBA Finals, come back to win 4 straight games and defeat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 to win their first NBA title in franchise history! Shaq wins his fourth ever title, while Pat Riley wins his 5th title as a head coach and 7th overall. Dwyane Wade was honored as the MVP of the NBA Finals. Many are already touting him as "the best player in the NBA". Posted by Picasa

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    130 interns attend ISI lecture with George Nash at Heritage

    Last night, 130 students and DC area interns attended the ISI summer lecture with historian George Nash at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Nash spoke on the topic, "The Uneasy Future of American Conservatism." He spoke more about the history and only dived a little bit into the future. But, that was what the enlightening Q&A session was for.

    The Lehrman Auditorium became a "standing room only" situtation by the time the lecture started, on a very rainy night in Washington, D.C. About 15 students gathered outside the room and watched the lecture on a closed-circuit flat screen tv in the lobby of the Heritage Foundation. After the lecture, a reception was held in the Van Endel room and students mingled with each and with ISI staff and alumni.

    Evan Baehr, the founder of the ISI Young Alumni Group in DC gave the introduction for Nash and we advertised a brand new "Conservatism on Tap" venture that the ISI Young Alumni Group is spear-heading in DC. The first will be a talk at the Brickskeller in DC on July 12 and will feature Georgetown professor Patrick Deneen who will give a talk on "Vocation and Modern Society."

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    The University of Miami is headed to yet another College World Series. Danny Valencia rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam in the seventh inning. The 'Canes beat Ole Miss 14-9. It's on to Omaha!
     Posted by Picasa

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    HEAT Advances to first NBA FINALS!

    The Heat is on! Miami beats Detroit by 17 points in Game 6 to win the series 4-2 and advance to their first ever NBA FINALS!  Posted by Picasa

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    600 attend ISI debate at Oregon State

    On May 22, about 600 students, faculty, and local observers attended ISI's Cicero's Podium debate series event at Oregon State University. The debate was on the topic, "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: Scientific Assumptions in a Free Society." Dr. Michael Ruse of Florida State University defended the theory of evolution, while Dr. Cornelius Hunter of Biola University defended the intelligent design position.

    I was at the event, and after the ISI 50th anniversary gala in 2003 held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., I think this was the second most highly attended ISI event EVER. That means it might have been the most highly attended ISI event on a college campus. IMPRESSIVE. The Socratic Club at OSU was the host group on campus, while many other ISI students "got the word out" as well and attended the debate.

    I really enjoy this debate series because it is just that - a debate. Both sides are presented and the entire audience is challenged to listen to both sides of a debate and come to their own conclusions. A great Q&A typically follows, as it did at OSU.

    The Daily Baromoter at OSU, which is the main daily paper, published a great article about the event on the following day, which appeared on the front page as the leading story.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Clarence Thomas Addresses ISI's Dinner for Western Civilization in Delaware

    On Thursday, May 4th, Clarence Thomas addressed ISI's Dinner for Western Civilization in Wilmington, Delaware - only about 6 blocks from my apartment. Pretty cool.

    We had over 300 people in attendance - most were donors, but the dinner also included about 40 ISI Faculty Associates and 30 student Campus Representatives, all of which came into the Brandywine Valley from all over the country to take part in this truly historic event. Notable people were also in the crowd, including Ed Feulner, who is Chairman of the Heritage Foundation and former Chairman of ISI's Board of Trustees. Also, former Attorney General, Ed Meese, was there. (I got to shake his hand!)

    The day after the event I drove one of ISI's major donors back to the train station - he wanted to take the train back to Maine. He has been involved with ISI since the beginning and he told me the event the night before was one that all of the people who attended would "never forget."

    He was right. Clarence Thomas was amazing - and he spent at least his first five minutes paying tribute to Ed Meese. Ronald Reagan once said, "If Ed Meese is not a good man, then there are no good men." Justice Thomas pretty much said some of the same. Finally, he got into his speech where he talked about the role of the judge and the judiciary and his own judicial approach. He claimed he didn't have a particular approach (strict constructionist, originalist, etc.) He said, he just tries to get it as close to what the Constitution says because that is the supreme document of the land.

    After about 20 minutes, he opened the floor to questions from the audience (this was completely HIS idea). For about 30 more minutes, he took some really great questions. My friend and Oregon State Campus Representative, Nathanael Blake, asked one of the best questions (and the last question) of the night. He quoted Whittaker Chambers and asked if the West was "worth saving." He also asked if we in the West had "lost hope" and if that was important to retaining the faith that is so critical to Western Civilization.

    Clarence Thomas answered by saying that if we are going to prosper in American and the West, than "we must have hope." He continued, "If a black man in the South in the early twentieth century had hope, than it is easy for me to have hope today." This was moving - as was his entire speech and the lengthy, detailed, and straight from the heart answers he gave to every question. Everyone I talked to during the reception that followed the dinner told me that they were completely impressed. They came to the dinner expecting a phenomenal time and they left with their expectations surpassed.

    Clarence Thomas - WOW.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    ISI debate on Warrentless Spying at Wheaton College (MA)

    On April 30, I had a heck of a day traveling back to the east coast. After a few hours delayed in the Chicago Midway airport, which was where my connecting flight took off from, I finally made it to my final destination: Providence, Rhode Island... about 3 hours later than expected. Oh well, that's how it is sometimes. Air travel can either be really convenient, or really inconvenient. Some days are better than others. My suggestion: take earlier flights. The earlier in the day is usually better.

    Anyways, I was traveling to Providence because ISI was holding a Cicero's Podium debate series at Wheaton College, which is in Massachussetts, but only 30 minutes from Providence, RI. So, we usually stay in Providence. This debate was between Jon Miller of The National Review and David Cole, of The Nation and also a professor of law at Georgetown University. The topic was, "Can a Free Society Tolerate Warrantless Spying," and focused mostly on the current debate on the NSA program. It was mostly very good.

    I have to give it up for our Campus Representatives at Wheaton College, who run the Wheaton College Conservatives Club: Nick Walton and Dan Mardis. These guys are awesome. On such a Leftist campus, they get the conservative students involved and they turn out a bigger crowd than most could. We had over 150 at the debate. Only about 1500 students even go to the school, so that's turning out about 10% of the student body.

    Also, I have to praise Teddy Sifert of Thomas More College for bringing about 8 students down (that's a 2 hour drive!) Teddy and the gang from TMC are what I have dubbed, the "ISI road warriors." They travel like this to so many events with an hour or two drive of Merrimack, NH. They even stayed a few extra hours to hang out with us afterwards at Dave & Buster's in Providence, RI. It was a lot of fun. These debates stimulate discussion and help to engage students in good debate, not to mention good fellowship.

    On Tuesday morning, Matt and I from ISI took the train back (Chad left way earlier than we could even imagine). After a 4 and a half hour train ride and 16 days on the road, I went right to ISI to not only pick up my truck and drive it back to my apartment, but also to complete my monthly expense report. Yep, 16 days on the road and the first place I went back to was work. I guess I like this job.

    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    An Introduction to American Conservatism

    On Saturday morning, we did the second of two events at the Signs of Life Bookstore in Lawrence. I helped to lead a session, once again held on the second floor art gallery, on "An Introduction to American Conservatism." Caleb Stegall of The New Pantagruel also helped lead the session with me.

    I gave the first lecture and led the first discussion on "The American Conservative Movement - the last 50 years." I basically used a model I saw Mark Henrie use, and distinguish three distinct traditions within the movement, categorizing them as the (1) libertarians/classical liberals, (2) traditionalists, and (3) anti-communists. I put F.A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom as the guiding philosophy for the first tradition, Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind and Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences for the second tradition, and Whittaker Chambers' Witness as an example of the third tradition. I traced the movement as being glued during most of this time by anti-communism and the Cold War.

    Caleb Stegall talked a lot more about the idea of "community". He actually wrote the entry on "community" for the most recent ISI Books title, American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia.

    About 15 people attended the session, half of which were students at th University of Kansas and the other half were either friends of Josh's or locals. This event was the major kick off of the new ISI chapter at the University of Kansas. Josh is really using the bookstore as a major venue where the group will have their meetings, and combine their experiences with this unique setting. Caleb Stegall is local to the Lawrence area, he was raised here and now practices law, but is very much involved in the intellectual conservative movement, most notably through his writings and through his emphasis on building community.

    I remarked to the students that this bookstore and this ISI chapter are surely building blocks for the sense of community they are building in Lawrence. The meeting lasted from about 9am-noon, and the rest of the day was spent just relaxing, reading, and taking in my final experiences of Kansas, at least for now. I have to put Lawrence, Kansas in the "top 10" places I have visited that I think would be worthy of living in. I don't really have a 1 through 10 list, but I'd put it up there with some of my other favorite places in the United States: San Diego, Jacksonville, Dallas, Annapolis (MD), Chapel Hill (NC) , Virginia Beach, among some others.

    Lawrence's "community" stands out though. It's not a terribly big city, but not terribly small, but it has a very "small town" feel, while still being "trendy". It's right in the heart of America, and there's only two downfalls to this area - there's not a beach within 1,000 miles and it's in the middle of tornado alley. Other than that, it's a great community with good people. You don't find too many places like this left.

    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    A Friday to Remember

    On Friday, April 28, I had really nothing planned in particular. But sometimes unplanned days are the best of them all. I woke up early enough to catch a class. Yes, two years removed from college and I'm making it a point to wake up for a class. I know how odd that must sound. Josh and his wife had to head about 30 minutes towards Kansas City, so his friend Seth, a colleague at Signs of Life Bookstore accompanied me to a class they had been telling me about.

    The class is taught by a female English professor and the entire semester is on the works of C.S. Lewis. This professor has been teaching this class for years, and apparently it's one of the most popular classes on campus. Seth had sat in on this class before and when we walked in several other students said, "hey Seth." Apparently these students frequent Signs of Life bookstore because Seth is about my age and never graduated from college or attended KU. He and his wife are expecting their first child as well in the next few months.

    Anyway, the CS Lewis class was excellent. We spent about 50 minutes discussing a chapter from Lewis' The Abolition of Man. I had read this book about 2 years ago, and it is superb. This class discussion reminded me that I really should read it again, because after two years at ISI, I would probably get even more out of this book now.

    Once class was over, we went to meet an ISI Faculty Associate in the political science department. Apparently this professor gives lectures on Eric Voeglin and Russell Kirk, not just in class, but also at the Signs of Life bookstore! We got into some really interesting discussions for about 30 or 40 minutes and he told me that, based on some of my interests and some of my more recent ideas about this notion of "progress", I should definitely read some Voeglin. (note to self)

    Once this meeting was over, Seth and I headed to the student union so that I could buy myself a KU bumper stickers and postcard (my tradition for the past year when I visit campuses) and also so we could grab a bite to eat. My mind was being stimulated all day long as Seth and I got into great discussions which stemmed from the CS Lewis class to the meeting with the political science professor to our conversations on the ideas of Tom Wolfe's book about the current social status on college campuses, I Am Charlotte Simmons.

    Seth then took me over to see the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, which is on the KU campus. It's almost like a mini-presidential library for a guy who was never President (but perhaps should have been). When we walked in and started looking at the museum (which walks you through Dole's life), a man greeted us and told us he was the Director of the Institute. Somewhere along the line, Seth told him I was a "big fan of Bob Dole" and that I was in town representing the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. His mouth dropped. He said he was a member of ISI in the 1970s while a student at Vanderbilt University. We got to talking.

    Seth and I told him all about Signs of Life bookstore, the CS Lewis class and the political sciene professor. His response: "I've lived in Lawrence for several years now and I didn't know there were any other conservatives - you seem to have found them all in one day. " Yes, welcome to the world of the ISI missionary. Somehow I find the remants of conservatism and connect them. He told us all about the Dole Institute and said we could bring in ISI lectures and debates and use the setting of the building as a host site anytime. We sat down with him in his office for about 30 minutes and then spent nearly another hour touring the museum and learning more about Bob Dole's extraordinary life.

    After we left the KU campus, we stopped into 2 bookstores on Massachussetts Street in downtown Lawrence. The first was an anarchist bookstore (I forget the name, but it smelled). I think the smell made me queezy. Then we went over to another bookstore (I think it's called "Vagabonds"). It had lots of rare books and I found two to go home with. The first was a "first print edition" of Witness by Whittaker Chambers. WOW! Then, I found the 1899 Census of Cuba put together and printed by the US Military government in 1900. WOW! Altogether, I spent $32 between the two of them. Rare finds in Kansas, and these were things that suited my interests completely. Then again, I guess the whole day was a bunch of rare finds.

    I have to be completely in debt to Seth for spending his entire Friday with me and taking me around town. His generosity demonstrates the absolute kindness and friendliness of the people of Kansas.

    Later that evening, after dinner with Josh, Carol, and two of their friends, Josh and I drove about 30 minutes east to Overland Park to see Maggie Mosher. Maggie was a recipient of an ISI Simon Fellowship the year before and her and I had reacquainted briefly in Indianapolis. When I saw here there, I had remembered that she lived in Kansas and told her I'd be out there the next week. Josh, Maggie, and I spent several hours talking. Josh received an honorable mention in this year's Simon Fellowship award, so it was great to introduce them. These are truly great people and I am simply honored to be in their presence. Once again, rare finds. The day seemed to have a theme. Some days you wake up not knowing what to expect and by the end of the day, you are simply truly amazed. And, you feel truly blessed.