Ain’t football a blessing.

When Baylor first hired Art Briles
The prez and trustees were all smiles.
But there’s just no escapin’
A teamful of rapin’–
Get ready, get set, for the trials.

**********

And remember, kiddies: Baylor’s already paying Briles six million dollars or so a year to go away.

Truly, truly a blessing.

***********

Baylor University: Toxic Christianity.

While a lawsuit was almost certainly expected, if Briles thinks people at Baylor conspiring against him is why he doesn’t have another job, he’s clinically insane. Anyone associated with Baylor, its athletic department and its football team is toxic right now. Briles wouldn’t be considered for any jobs at any level even if he was carry a sack full of recommendations from Baylor’s administration.

After Briles gave an incredibly weak apology for the out-of-control program he ran at Baylor, did anyone think he would be getting a job any time soon? The guy just doesn’t seem to understand the havoc players wreaked under his watch and just how awful the culture he promoted was.

If Briles was smart, he’d have laid low for a few years, then mounted a comeback with some very serious apologies. Instead he’s out there suing his former employer and acting like he did nothing wrong.

La Kid sends this snapshot from the …

… restaurant in Dublin where her office
Christmas party is happening right now.

The same Picasso reproduction hangs in
our Garrett Park house. It’s one of
our many homages to Munro Leaf, author of
Ferdinand the Bull, who lived here
before we did.

Eine Kleine Plagiat

Famous French popularizer of science Étienne Klein is apparently a serial plagiarist. Like Cary Grant in that movie, he is a very classy thief, his pinches revealing un homme très cultivé – Zweig, Zola, Bachelard… ANDUD is thrilled to add… Klein steals from an old friend of the Soltan family! Roman Jakobson was a Harvard colleague and Cambridge neighbor of Jerzy Soltan’s. Even after death the two men remain neighbors – their graves lie a few feet away from each other in Mount Auburn Cemetery. And even after death (especially after death – all career plagiarists know it’s better to steal paragraphs from people not in a position to complain) Jakobson is making himself useful…

************

Recalling UD‘s typology of plagiarists, Klein is clearly an Atelier, done in, I’m going to guess, by one of the many little people he hires to write his books for him.

Here’s the awkward truth.

There are enough overt racists among the students at Texas A&M to make the appearance of white nationalists there not that scandalous, not that surprising.

“When I heard about the Aggie European Alliance, I was disgusted; however, I was not surprised,” said graduate student Lia Epps.

Wonder why not.

*******************

The school has responded strongly (counter-demonstrations) to this guy’s appearance, but there’s no denying that, if you’re an American fascist trolling for recruits, making Texas A&M – rather than, say, Hampshire College – the first stop on your speaking tour is a good career move. Texas A&M specializes in worshipping naughty naughty naughty white boys.

“The full veil is not appropriate here. It should be banned wherever it’s legally possible.”

Angela Merkel joins the chorus.

UD is thankful for her strong statement. We’re getting there.

And by the way. The full veil is not appropriate anywhere.

******************

You can watch the reaction she got here.

******************

But Burhan Kesici, the general secretary of Germany’s Islamic Council, criticised Merkel’s comments. “The government should carefully study similar moves in France, and ask themselves if one side-effect of such a ban is that it can actually lead to women feeling more excluded from society,” he said.

Wirklich? More excluded than if they walk around completely covered in a black sack – down to their fingertips? Their mouths covered by cloth for enforced silence and difficulty breathing? Vitamin D deficiency for them and their babies because no sunlight?

If this describes, for you, any sort of “society” at all, let me know.

******************

A voice from the left.

******************

This symbol would divide humanity between those of glorious body, graced with no less glorious a face, and those whose bodies and faces are an outrage in the flesh, a scandal, a filthy thing not to be seen but hidden or neutralized.

A classic take-down of the pro-slavery position.

“A whole body of work is new.”

Comme vous le savez trop bien, ma gentille, UD does not bother reporting plagiarism stories unless they are really really big. Plagiarism is boringly internationally endemic, and now that everyone’s got detection software it’s all too much of a muchness. But Redscar McOdindo, a Kenyan poet still in his twenties, makes the cut.

And paste. The man has been raiding ladies’ panties all over the world (he steals women’s poems about things like female genital mutilation, and basks in the praise of poetry judges who marvel at his ability to write with intimate sensitivity to the other gender’s point of view), and he’s been doing it for years.

As is common in these stories, no one in the international poetry establishment suspected a thing as McOdindo collected one award after another. A sharp-eyed reader of one of his victims exposed him, at which he immediately shut down his blog and disappeared from the face of the earth.

“In addition to this, there is a need for OSU to contribute $8 million from the general education fund, twice as much as is given at this point to athletics in the next year.”

Today we drop in on Oregon State University, which just last year was crowing about its football attendance numbers being way high, and now this year is keening over its ticket sales being way low.

Truth and illusion – who knows the difference? Eh, Toots? as George says… And anyway… the money people “expect OSU athletics to be operating in the black within the next three fiscal years,” so just you hold on to your hat! We’re gonna be tearing up the pea patch in no time don’t you worry and meanwhile we’ll just pinch this here eight million dollars to tide us over…

Lessons from the Athletics Director.

In 2007, [Humboldt State University] switched the Athletics Department’s primary funding source from the state General Fund to revenue collected by the student Instructionally Related Activities fees, which are currently the highest in the California State University system, according to Strategic Edge. HSU’s student fees have increased from $278 per semester per student in 2010 to the current $337 per semester rate, according to the university. [AD Tom] Trepiak said raising the fees any higher is not an option.

The funding model switch was made to free up funds for more academic purposes, according to a 2007 university memorandum of understanding.

But Trepiak argues that athletics are a form of academia.

“The job of a coach is to teach a student athlete how to do their sport, so part of that is a perception thing with people looking at it with their own special interest rather than the big picture,” he said.

“We saw that he needed help, but how could we offer it to him? … I tried to talk to him (the) last few times that I saw him on campus, but the conversation would not go anywhere, and I started to shrug it off, instead of looking into it.”

In the wake of the most recent killing of a professor by a graduate student, one thing’s clear: Universities need to work harder to publicize their protocol for reporting troubled and troubling people on campus.

UD assumes no one contacted the University of Southern California’s counseling office about the graduate student who yesterday stabbed his faculty mentor to death. If someone did, we’ll find out about it; but it looks as though no one did, despite worries about his stability.

Of course reporting him would not necessarily have kept the attack from happening; but he would have had some monitoring. Maybe his mentor would have been alerted.

*************

You might argue that universities are uniquely bad places for the identification of unbalanced people.

There are simple logistical reasons for this. Unlike offices, universities are loosely run, with people on leave, seeing each other one day a week, finished with coursework but still sort of around, etc. It’s hard to perceive patterns or evolutions of behavior.

More deeply, universities are committed to the tolerance – even the championing of – freedom and non-conformity. You get zero intellectual culture in, say, Saudi Arabia – in repressive, conformist, strictly doctrinal, universal-surveillance societies. You get America’s spectacular system of universities when you offer exactly the opposite: individual freedom, radical self-fashioning, secularism, and privacy. Universities are hands-off zones, and indeed to the extent that they’re intrusive it’s often intrusion in the name of further hands-offism: seminars in the practice of tolerance, for instance.

But the problem goes beyond this. The combination of the valorization of eccentricity with a fierce commitment to personal privacy may mean that you think you’re respecting someone’s autonomy, and someone’s right to be different, when in fact you’re overlooking pathology.

And wait. The problem goes beyond even this. Years ago, UD got to know a fellow participant in a summer seminar for professors well enough to worry about her mental health. She said disturbing – self-destructive, delusional – things to UD, and UD was worried and didn’t know what to do. Eventually, with great delicacy and in the most tentative language, UD said something to one of the seminar’s organizers. The organizer fixed UD with a nasty look and said “Oh. Aren’t you healthy. I suppose you think you’re so healthy…”

“Uh, no,” UD replied, taken aback. “I don’t think I’m so healthy. I just worry B. is having difficulties.”

“Ugh.”

That was the end of the conversation. That was the end of the smackdown. And that was the beginning of UD deciding she’d better keep her trap shut on the matter of people at universities who seem troubled. UD vividly recalls not enjoying being made to feel like an East German Stasi agent by the seminar organizer. Being made to feel like a prison guard in the land of Michel Foucault’s panopticon. How dare I direct my smug hegemonic gaze anywhere other than at my own fucked up self …

So all I’m doing here is drilling down to what I take to be some of the underlying difficulties with identifying and reporting troubled people at universities. I fully acknowledge the vexed problem of distinguishing between fruitful, exemplary, odd, against the grain, selfhood, and mental problems. But I also think one should acknowledge the specific ways in which the university setting makes acting on your suspicions about someone’s mental health peculiarly daunting.

Meine Herren!

Michelle Herren used to be on the University of Colorado faculty, but the school seems to have decided to let her go.

UD kinda understands why, because Herren called Michelle Obama a ‘monkey-face’ and put it all over the web. Then when the university dumped her and also I guess when she started getting some… unfriendly feedback, she

… explained that her comments were taken out of context. [Also] she claimed that she had no knowledge that the phrase “monkey face” was an offensive term.

UD has explained endlessly on this blog how this happens so often at university medical schools. Universities have immense numbers of people vaguely affiliated with their medical faculties, and these people are rarely vetted in the ways other professors are vetted. They just show up with a white coat and start teaching. When you take many people on and do very little vetting, you can expect a few morons to slip through.

Australian Judge Audrey Balla is the Woman of the Hour

A Sydney woman “refused to take off her burqa in court to give evidence in a civil case, where she is suing the police over a terrorism raid at her house.” (As a result of that raid, her old man’s in jail.)

BALLA: Are you proposing that she would have her face covered while she’s giving evidence and being cross-examined?

LAWYER FOR THE WOMAN BRINGING THE SUIT: I’m afraid so. Yes. It’s not very satisfactory, your Honour, but it’s something we have to live [with].

BALLA: It’s not something I have to live [with].

Indeed, the judge has ruled that the woman cannot give evidence wearing the burqa (several accommodations were offered to the woman; she refused them all).

Shanghaied

… Wendy Taylor, whose 43-year-old sundial sculpture stands on the banks of the River Thames near London’s Tower Bridge, told British news outlet The Independent that a holidaying art aficionado alerted her to the apparent replica [of the piece in Shanghai].

… The Chinese version, by an unspecified artist, has stood in a park next to the Huangpu river, which courses through the commercial hub, since 2006, Shanghai media reports said.

It has since been removed and [a] journalist saw park workers filling its circular base with plants and flowers on Thursday.

At the same time [journalists watched] workers removing two other statues, one of which resembled “Lute Being Played by Evert Taube”, which stands in the Swedish capital Stockholm.

The other bore a striking similarity to the centrepiece statue of the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Might as well get all our spring cleaning done at the same time.

We’re being less coy about Dan Markel’s bloody in-laws …

… with every new headline.

“In 2016, … the University also continued to deal with the fallout from a long-running scheme of fake classes to keep athletes eligible and on the field. That’s the cost of playing the game.”

UD finds this statement, at the end of an article in the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s student paper, refreshing. It states the truth, bluntly. When you do this grotesque thing – when you import professional sports to universities, of all places – you’re going to have to prostitute the universities. That’s the cost of playing the game. Many of your players are going to play, and nothing else. Somehow you’re going to have to solve the problem of that pesky – even embarrassing – “university” identity, and it’s going to mean tutors who write papers for players, online classes ostensibly taken by players but actually taken by designated online-class-takers, and the creation of bogus departments with bogus courses designed to allow everyone to pretend that players have studied something.

Many of the players have already been admitted in bogus ways – they graduated from fake high schools (usually with reassuringly fervent Christian names) designed to produce legit-looking diplomas for sports guys. Your job, at Chapel Hill, is to figure out how to retain your recruits even though they’re not doing any schoolwork. Your biggest challenge is not the NCAA, which doesn’t give a shit, but rather the rogue tutor or investigative reporter.

A university like Chapel Hill – a community like Chapel Hill – sees itself above all as a professional sports team. Everyone, from the president down, has a role to play on the team. The president issues high-minded language about the glorious nexus of physical and mental achievement on campus. Professors pass the players along no matter what they do. Tutors do the players’ schoolwork. Local reporters are slavish panting boosters.

It all holds together very nicely – UNC’s bogus courses sailed along for decades – until, as most recently at the University of Missouri – someone has a crisis of conscience or something, and the ship goes down.

And then it comes up again. I mean, the scandal costs the school (taxpayers, often) zillions, and getting rid of a coach or two (this is de rigueur post-scandal: dump some coaches) is also expensive (you’re breaking a contract; plus these guys are liable to sue), but in the end none of these jock school academic scandals amount to anything. Even if you decide to dump the president, she’ll just move to another jock school, and you’ll have all the time and expense of finding another person able to talk about your rigorous academic program with a straight face.

Cost of playing the game.

Umbeshrien! Next thing you know they’ll be saying…

… women shouldn’t be forced to wear black sacks.

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