I Am Not a Bore
An email conversation about the news of the day.
May 8 2002 2:21 PM

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Dear Alex,

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Did you hear that the Rolling Stones were in the Bronx yesterday? According to an article in today's New York Times, they went up in a blimp for a little bit, landed in Van Cortlandt Park, and then announced their next world tour. With their average age pushing 60, aren't they a little old for this? Not at all. "Either we stay at home and become pillars of the community, or we go out and tour," Mick Jagger told the press. "And we couldn't find any communities that needed pillars." When a reporter noted that the Stones' ticket prices were higher than Sir Paul McCartney's, Keith Richards said, "There's more of us."

In today's New York Observer, there's an article about a Web site called CULPA—the Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability. The students up at Columbia are pretty severe judges of some of their famous professors, it seems. One of them, Robert Jervis, the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Relations, got called "boring" repeatedly. In response to these comments, Professor Jervis had this to say: "Bizarre ... just wrong. I am not boring. My lectures have a spontaneity to them that some students sometimes call disorganized, but I'm simply not boring." He then speculated that some of these negative evaluations were acts of vengeance by students he had flunked.

As La Rochefoucauld observed, we often forgive those who bore us, but we can't forgive those whom we bore.

Speaking of boredom, have you been to see that three-hour documentary about Castro and Che that's in town?

Yours,
Jim

Jim Holt writes the "Egghead" column for Slate. He also writes for The New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. Alexander Star is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. This fall, he will begin editing the "Ideas" section of the Boston Globe.

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