In 1957, Ted Turner, who was in his first year at Brown University, received a letter from his father criticizing his selected major — Classics. In the end, Ted did okay. Even though he dropped out of college and had a leg up, joining the family business, he still founded CNN and made a gagillion dollars.
Here, the best excerpts from this letter. Which might make you realize that sometimes parents just need to be heard. Read the whole letter at Letters of Note.
1. Classics. Barf.
My dear son,
I am appalled, even horrified, that you have adopted Classics as a major. As a matter of fact, I almost puked on the way home today.
2. There are maybe two people who speak Greek and one of them is the hot guy from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
I am a practical man, and for the life of me I cannot possibly understand why you should wish to speak Greek. With whom will you communicate in Greek?
3. In the great words of Cher Horowitz: “You are a snob and a half.”
I suppose everybody has to be a snob of some sort, and I suppose you will feel that you are distinguishing yourself from the herd by becoming a Classical snob.
4. Your social life is pathetic.
I can see you drifting into a bar, belting down a few, turning around to the guy on the stool next to you—a contemporary billboard baron form Podunk, Iowa—and saying, “Well, what do you think about old Leonidas?” Your friend, the billboard baron, will turn to you and say, “Leonidas who?” You will turn to him and say, “Why Leonidas, the prominent Greek of the Twelfth Century.” He will, in turn, say to you, “Well, who in the hell was he?” You will say, “Oh, you don’t know about Leonidas?” and dismiss him, and not discuss anything else with him the rest of the evening.
5. Be a man. Be Faulkner. Get laid.
Incidentally, [William Faulkner] was a contemporary of mine in Mississippi. We speak the same language—whores, sluts, strong words, and strong deeds.
6. You are embarrassing me.
I am quite sure that we both will be pleased and delighted when I introduce you to some friend of mine and say, “This is my son. He speaks Greek.”
If you are going to stay on at Brown, and be a professor of Classics, the courses you have adopted will suit you for a lifetime association with Gale Noyes. Perhaps he will even teach you to make jelly.
8. Look at what you’ve become.
I think you are rapidly becoming a jackass, and the sooner you get out of that filthy atmosphere, the better it will suit me.
9. Mea culpa.
You are in the hands of the Philistines, and dammit, I sent you there. I am sorry.
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