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    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.