Harvard Humor

Elena Kagan, Mark Zuckerberg, and Drew Faust's hard-charging, softball-playing daughter

At year-end, Harvard people are popping up in summaries of 2010, occasionally in humorous ways.

Among the newsmakers highlighted by The Onion, the online satirical daily, is former Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan, who graduated from her role as Solicitor General to become the newest member of the Supreme Court. In “Elena Kagan—Trust Us, She Needed This Gig Real Bad,” she is depicted as yet another of the nation’s millions of job seekers: “Kagan was having some pretty serious cash-flow issues. It's not like she was homeless, but the former solicitor general wasn't exactly living on Easy Street, either. The fact is, Elena Kagan's degrees from Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard didn't keep her from eating lentils and day-old muffins on a regular basis, but, hey, sometimes you have to do what you have to do—and now, for Kagan, that means interpreting the Constitution and starting to pay off some of those credit card bills.” Now, Kagan can live in a “plush Georgetown apartment” rather than having to “live with her brother’s family again. If they would even have her.” Behind her are those lean and awkward moments of “having to ask Chief Justice Roberts immediately following the judicial oath if she could get her first paycheck in advance.”

Harvard’s own Andy Borowitz ’80, profiled in Harvard Magazine in May-June 2009, captured most of what he wanted to say about Time Person of the Year Mark Zuckerberg—founder of Facebook, a famous College dropout, and the subject of the movie The Social Network—with the headline, “In Controversial Decision, Time Magazine Calls Mark Zuckerberg a Person.” As Borowitz reported, in his best mock-journalist style, “The decision to call the robot-like Internet titan a person raised eyebrows from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, forcing Time spokesperson Carol Foyler to acknowledge, ‘This wasn’t an easy call.’”

Finally, President Drew Faust has posted on her website the text of her speech to alumni the night before The Game. It is a thoughtful reflection on the value of sports, on moral education, and on her own engagement with athletics, through her daughter’s softball prowess. The character-building associated with sports, she acknowledged, “isn’t necessarily always totally high-minded, but there are life lessons in that, too.” She continued: I remember that my daughter, Jessica’s, softball coach her senior year at her Quaker high school, was a nice, peaceful fellow, who kept saying to the team, “It’s all about the journey. It’s not about the destination.” By this time, Jessica was a catcher and the team captain. In the season championship game, the score was tied at her team’s last at bat. And she was ordinarily a rather soft-spoken captain, but she called the team together in a huddle, looked them in the eye, and said, “Screw the journey, let’s go out and win this thing.” 

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