biggs 3-31

DANBERG BIGGS | They Are Not With You, Not Really

Over the last several months, Cornell has suspended need-blind admissions for international students and considered doing the same for transfer applicants. More recently it has taken clear steps to actively dissuade its graduate students from forming a union, a clear violation of an agreement signed last May. For non-affluent students, rising tuition has made attending the University increasingly challenging and for some completely impossible. The point is, much as I do love this school, in many important ways attending Cornell is more like a hitchhiked ride than a chartered flight. Perhaps we are going to the same place — I would like a degree, and in general terms the University would like a student to have one, a student that might as well be me.

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DANBERG BIGGS | When the President Talks About Dead Americans

My grandfather may have been the world’s biggest proponent of the breakfast donut. He had an armchair in his living room, which I believe is a requirement for that position. From there he would dispense pastries to his incredulous grandchildren who simply did not know how to process what was happening to them. Having pacified us with morning cholesterol, he would ask us about the fourth grade, then suggest we all run for president. For a few weeks after he died, he trailed around behind me a little bit.

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DANBERG BIGGS | Tinfoil Crowns

Several months ago I spent a straight-backed evening in a room that reminded me of mopping my father’s floors. They were paneled with what I believe to be a wood-flavored linoleum, which is really a great surface to clean. If I were ten years younger and living in a Norman Rockwell painting, I imagine it would have also been the best place to play marbles. Resilient and impossibly smooth, linoleum is the 20th century’s greatest gift to flooring. By some bizarre act of circumstance, I was invited to dinner with a handful of friends’ friends’ parents, who didn’t much resemble my friends.

DANBERG BIGGS | Speak to God in Public

My mother has a way of using gifts to assign required reading. She marks the inside sleeve with the month and year in which the task was handed down, and a little note reminding me who gave it. There’s a small mountain of these books out there, if you can find them. It’s really not an unreasonable tactic, and certainly not one that I resent. Coercion is, after all, the most direct thruway to the part of my brain with buttons and levers for doing things.

DANBERG BIGGS | Really a Very Cowardly Thing to Do

Last week, laid out in the center of the Arts Quad were five sets of sets of flags, each displaying a number. Heading each display was the name of a different nation: Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Somalia and Sudan. These signs, placed there by Cornell Amnesty International as a part of the Week of Action, counted the number of refugees displaced from each nation, and were designed to raise awareness about the hardships faced these millions. On Wednesday night, nearly all of the 250 flags were removed from the ground and scattered throughout North Campus. And it is very difficult to understand why.

DANBERG BIGGS | Building ‘Respectable’

The main strip in Old Pasadena, California, shines like a laminated poster of a glazed donut. It’s a wide, newly paved road, lined with solar powered garbage cans and evenly spaced palm trees that softly whisper, yes, here is always warmer than where you’re from. The high-end chains stretching down both sides of the drag sell the sorts of specialty products that one might find advertised on a digital billboard in Times Square, or in the middle pages of a Sky Mall magazine. Traipsing down the manicured sidewalks with my local guide, I marveled at the lifestyle it implied. The Dog Bakery, on Colorado Boulevard, “offers fresh-baked all natural treats for your furry friend.”
At the epicenterof  Old Pasadena is a barista named Keith who sells wine.

DANBERG BIGGS | A Jewish Opinion (Maybe)

It is often noted that young American Jews are far more conservative when it comes to the Israeli conflict than they are in any other realm. Non-interventionist across the rest of the world, people of my demographic will gladly support massive military support for the state of Israel, whose governing coalition seems presently disinterested in any immediate peaceful resolution. In a variety of ways, the American left is full of young Jews who find common ground with conservatives on this particular issue. And the explanation that is consistently offered seems simple, that they are aligning with their faith. But upon closer examination this doesn’t really make very much sense.

DANBERG BIGGS | Good Spam and Politics

I would absolutely love to unfriend my uncle on Facebook, as I’m sure you would too. He posted a status about the death of Eric Garner which implored his friends to, “consider the other side,” has shared a distressing number of articles that report “what the liberal media isn’t telling us” and last week, he publicly endorsed The Hairricane™, Donald Trump. For three years, I’ve had to endure the perpetual migraine of his opinions. It’s been a minefield of frustration that could only be alleviated by us cutting our cyber ties. And it would be so easy.