“I am not suggesting anyone use the burning bed approach for dealing with an abusive man, but it was effective, and it is a fact that they do all eventually go to sleep.”

LOLOLOLOL

Football! All for Football!

In the span of a few weeks, my university announced completing a new $2 million giant scoreboard for the basketball arena replacing four small but perfectly functioning scoreboards, finished a new $6 million “academic center” ostensibly to provide athletes (but no non-athletes) a luxurious place to study but importantly also to host game day alcohol-driven hospitality for gung-ho athletic boosters, many of whom probably have no idea where the school library is. It also paid Howard University $350,000 so it could beat them (barely) in football, enhancing the probability of becoming “bowl eligible,” giving it the right to play, at some meaningful additional cost, some other second tier team in some obscure location in early January before perhaps 10,000 fans. Simultaneously, students were sweltering in the largest classroom building on campus because the undoubtedly ancient air conditioning decided to temporarily die.

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

Sing it, brother.

Football, all for Football
All I am and have and ever hope to be
Football, all for Football
All I am and have and ever hope to be

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into your hands
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into your hands

For it’s only in my team that I am free
For it’s only in my team that I am free

Football, all for Football
All I am and have and ever hope to be
Football, all for Football
All I am and have and ever hope to be

“There are all sorts of ways to try and explain how an NFL team in one of the country’s biggest markets fails to fill its stadium for the first home game of the season—the high cost of tickets, traffic, worries about Hurricane Florence, the generally bad experience of attending a live NFL game…”

The Redskins – UD‘s local team, I guess – go the way of most football lately (university and professional); and UD finds it refreshing that Deadspin‘s writer just says it: “the generally bad experience of attending a live NFL game.”

I mean, UD figured she was weird when, having scored a coveted ticket to a Redskins game a few years ago from a friend of a friend, and having even gotten good seats, she sat next to her comatose husband and did two New York Times acrostics. In the blurry pit down there, anonymous, heavy-suited men staggered en masse a few feet forward and a few feet back for what felt like hours. All around her in the stands, people acted like jerks — they were just as bored as Les UDs, but they were also drunk. Life felt tedious and hardly worth living.

And you think it’s bad in the NFL! University football games, with very few exceptions, are really emptying out.

“[W]e should not let drug companies buy the hearts and minds of researchers.”

Marcia Angell has follow-up thoughts on the latest medical research corruption case.

The cost of [the corruption] is high, and not just in drug prices. It means both doctors and patients believe prescription drugs are better and safer than they really are.

You have to beat up a woman at least seventeen times to get thrown off the Louisiana State University football team.

Four, five, six, beatings won’t do. They’ll suspend you while you’re working your way through the legal system, sure, but that’s it. None of this Me Too nonsense at LSU; a man’s a man, and a football player’s a tackler.

So wide receiver Drake Davis was just arrested for multiply beating his girlfriend (an LSU student) while out on bail for having beaten his girlfriend, and I think he’s up to six arrests at this point but whatever the number he’s clearly well under the number of beatings that would trigger any serious punishment from LSU football.

A word of advice for Davis: See if you can keep it around fifteen. Fifteen is perilously close to seventeen, and I’m thinking seventeen is the absolute limit for LSU.

*******

Local commentators are wiping their brows and wringing their hands over Davis and certain others on the team.

The presence of three LSU Tigers in the toils of the law raises obvious questions about the team’s cultural values.

Pretty hoitsy toitsy phrase you got there, fella… Cultural Values… Are you uncertain if they have them, or are you wondering what they are?

UD thinks she can distill them down to something very very simple:

Louisiana State University will recruit absolutely anyone who can play football. It does not give a shit if its players beat up its students.

“In the late 1950s I encountered David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd and I imprinted immediately on his term inner-directed. That’s me to a tee, so taking unpopular positions came naturally to me.”

And now a post at total odds with this one.

********

My friend Barney Carroll has died, at 78,
his final view, from his apartment’s
picture windows, the glorious Carmel Valley.
He sent me a picture, last week, of what he saw.

********

Allen Frances, a fellow warrior against
corruption in medicine, wrote Barney’s obit.

Barney’s scientific contribution to psychiatric research was to introduce neuroendocrine techniques. He independently discovered the value of the dexamethasone suppression test (DST) as a biomarker of melancholia — the classic, biologically driven subtype of depression. This was the first, and remains one of very few, biomarkers in psychiatry. Barney’s 1981 paper on the DST was among the most highly cited papers in psychiatry. Its impact was immediate, with many replications and extensions.

Another of Barney’s enduring contributions was to educate colleagues in the discipline of proper clinical decision making. He clarified the Bayesian principle that context counts — that is, prior conditional probabilities greatly influence the utility of any clinical feature or laboratory test in making a diagnosis. Throughout medicine, biomarkers and clinical diagnostic features perform with much greater utility in high risk groups than in general populations.

Barney and Allen had both chaired Duke University’s psychiatry department, and they shared an anger at (to quote the subtitle of one of Allen’s books) “Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life.” Both certainly know and knew that, as David Bowie wrote toward the end of his life, “On the whole, this whole world is run by brutes for the common and the stupid.” So they weren’t terribly optimistic that their protest could do much. Once it’s all come down to late-night comedy, it’s a bit late in the day.

But if, as Barney explained to me in a recent email, you’re a hopelessly inner-directed person, you can’t live with yourself if you don’t make a serious daily effort toward de-brutalization. Barney saw in Donald Trump late-stage outer-directedness, and regretted that “I won’t be around to see how it finally plays out with the orange man in the white house.” But he was fundamentally stoic – and typically observant – about the process of dying.

I am watching with detachment as I move along the path to allostatic collapse… What’s allostatic collapse? It’s just a fancy term for the end state of chronic deterioration that comes with terminal illness. We begin to fail piece by piece but we may hang on for years in a new state of compensated but pathologic equilibrium until even that cannot be sustained. Related constructs are chronic life stress and aging before supervening disease appears. My point of collapse is shaping up to be respiratory failure.

I had many questions to ask Barney about allostasis. Can’t ask them now. But he already, in his final sign-off, told me the most important thing.

Be well and be happy.

“I was in a rental house in Garrett Park, Maryland, and I wrote this song …”

Nils Lofgren reminisces. Wee UD lived, for a time, next door to that house and to Lofgren. He and UD‘s older sister went to high school together.

UD‘s friends the Josephs now live in the house. They expanded and modernized it like crazy. Lofgren would find it totally unrecognizable.

Everybody knows.

A bunch of nasty stuff goes on among groups of elites that everybody knows about but can’t do anything about because it’s hidden. Only when someone – a reporter, a whistleblower – blows their cover does anything happen. And even then, nothing really happens. I mean, there’s a reason they’re called elites; there’s a reason people resent elites.

***********

Two examples, starting with the more recent:

1. A very high-ranking cancer researcher at Sloan Kettering has for years and years failed to report his financial conflicts of interest. He just don’t do it, folks, and everyone has let him get away with it even though it’s an enormous no-no. (Best headline: “Top Cancer Expert Forgot to Mention $3.5M Industry Ties.”)

Ethicists say that outside relationships with companies can shape the way studies are designed and medications are prescribed to patients, allowing bias to influence medical practice. Reporting those ties allows the public, other scientists and doctors to evaluate the research and weigh potential conflicts.

This guy was chief medical officer.

Jeffrey S. Flier, who was dean of the Harvard Medical School from 2007 to 2016, said medical leaders should be held to a higher standard.

“The higher you are in the organizational structure, the more important it is that you fulfill those obligations,” he said. “You’re not just another faculty, you’re also a faculty to whom other people look up and your reputation is tied to the institution’s reputation.”

Like wink wink if he doesn’t do it we sure don’t have to do it. It’s a win-win situation and we all make lots of money. Look how much more he’s making than his paltry $1.5 million (in 2016; figure it’s significantly more now) salary! What a role model!

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

In statements to industry analysts and the American Association for Cancer Research, Dr. Baselga praised two drug trials that many of his peers considered failures, without mentioning that the trials’ sponsor, Roche, had paid him millions of dollars.

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

How much more?

Look, I’m too grossed out by the final paragraphs of the NYT article, which list his takings – I mean haha some of his takings because for sure he’s still hiding a hell of a lot even from the nosy NYT guys. Read them yourself.

My favorite part of these stories is always the boards these people sit on. Money for Nothing is the title of the best-known book about board-sitting, and this guy hauled in hundreds of thousands by doing absolutely nothing.

In an editorial, the NYT says: “Ban paid appointments to outside boards… [When] appointments come with payments that meet or exceed a doctor’s existing salary, the process is almost certain to be corrupted, and public trust is sure to be undermined.”

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

A letter-writer at the Times poses a really naive question:

[H]e received a salary in 2016 (the most recent data available) of more than $1.5 million from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he is the chief medical officer. This is a princely sum, which, given the work he does, no one should begrudge him.

But it appears he also earns uncounted millions more in consulting fees, director’s fees and ownership interests from businesses directly involved in the areas of his expertise, and he is criticized for not fully disclosing this in his professional writings evaluating the products of some of the companies that pay him large sums.

But I would ask another question: Why isn’t $1.5 million enough?

Recall the classic porn film – Never Enough.

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

The main point UD‘s making in this post, however, is that the scheme doesn’t work unless this guy lives in a closed world of fellow privileged who all agree to keep their traps shut in order to protect their privileges. The scheme works for years – the guy is about to turn sixty – until maybe some grotesque bad fortune falls out of the sky and an outsider squawks.

The guy resigned immediately.

But don’t worry about him. He’ll be fine.

2. The now-notorious letter sent secretly (or so its authors thought) to NYU, threatening to do whatever angry groups of elites do if you come down too hard on someone in their group, has generated plenty of anger and plenty of thoughtful writing about the same subject: How groups of powerful people (here professors) protect bad actors among them. As with the Sloan Kettering guy’s nondisclosure, what went down was routinely corrupt behavior until someone decided to intervene.

But again, as with the cancer researcher, the result of the exposure is embarrassment and some docked salary. A lawsuit or two. Things are a bit bumpy, and they’ll stay a bit bumpy for awhile, and then these groups will reconstitute themselves.

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

It’s just as Kurt Vonnegut said in Slaughterhouse Five:

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

Death by Two Hundred Million Cuts

We’ll never know how many children in the world have bled to death because their local village butcher, cheered on by their mother, slashed so deeply at their genitalia with a shard of glass that the butcher, instead of just destroying their lives, killed them.

A handful of people have ever cared about this outcome… Have ever allowed themselves to imagine the agonizing death of a six-year-old without access to painkillers, let alone medical care, as she bleeds out…

And after all, if these children hadn’t been witches they wouldn’t have died.

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

As the latest FGM deaths in Somalia actually manage to make the world news, people are allowing themselves to wonder whether this country, where 98% of little girls are slashed, might actually start protecting its children from this practice. But:

1. Somalia has no law against FGM and isn’t in the business of getting one.
2. Even if there were a law, people would ignore it.
3. The government of Somalia claims it’s going to find and prosecute the people who created the three latest child corpses, but go ahead and ask UD if she thinks that that spectacularly failed state will find and prosecute anyone.
4. The butchers are people in high standing in the community, with a serious financial investment in FGM. (When you’re finished imagining the children’s deaths, imagine an impoverished local family working themselves to the bone to scrape up enough money to pay for their daughter to be eviscerated.) No one will go against them.

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

And 5.: What’s the problem here? Cutters have been at it in England for decades, and everyone knows it, and there’s a law against it, and not one prosecution has been successful. In America there’s a bunch of cutters on trial in Detroit as we speak, and no less a figure than Alan Dershowitz has come to their defense.

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

UPDATE:

“I believe that the [Somali Attorney General] was [speaking harshly about the practice] for press. When the cameras are not there, I doubt there is much interest in [this] case or any others,” [a British Somali activist] says.

‘In About Chinese Women (1974), Kristeva, for her part, carried this uniquely French “pro-Chinese” mania to unprecedented heights. She disqualified all Western criticism of postrevolutionary China as suffused with illicit cultural bias. And she rationalized the traditional Chinese custom of “foot binding” — ignoring its debilitating and disfiguring consequences for millions of Chinese women — as a legitimate local cultural practice, comparable to ritual circumcision in Judaism. In fact, when perceived in the right light, Kristeva continued, foot binding constituted an emblem of Chinese female empowerment.’

Was Julia Kristeva a spy for the Bulgarian communists?

Who cares. This is what we should care about – that a serious intellectual, in an early version of similar defenses today of the burqa, was capable of writing that forced female foot-binding in China was, you know, fine for them, and even empowering.

Reflecting on [the radical journal] Tel Quel’s delusional infatuation with Cultural Revolutionary China, the French-American essayist Guy Sorman faults them for having succumbed to the temptations of a “boundless amoralism”: an “amoralism” that is inseparable from a distinctively French tradition of “revolutionary romanticism.” He continues: “What links the French intelligentsia to tyrants such as Stalin, Mao, Castro has very little to do with the quest for liberty, justice, and democracy. Such values were dismissed as suitable for dopes and stooges. … Our intelligentsia adored revolutionary violence and the aesthetics of violence. Was it not this spectacle of revolution that attracted Sartre, Barthes, and company?”

Anyone who has read Richard Rorty’s shattering attacks on radical theorists knows what happened next for Kristeva. Richard Wolin writes:

Kristeva … responded to her [earlier] political excesses by renouncing politics in toto — including feminism — as inherently totalitarian: as a sphere that perpetually sacrifices individuals to the injustices and repressions of the “collective superego.” As she explained in a 1989 interview: “We must try not to propose global models. I think that we, then, risk making politics into a sort of religion. … Of the political there is already too much.” Instead of striving for political solutions, Kristeva recommended that everyone who could afford it should enter into psychoanalysis — her new field of professional expertise.

Rorty spent his life preaching against radically transformative “global models” and in favor of pragmatic incremental change within particular countries. Even with the catastrophe of Bulgaria and other revolutionary states in front of her, Kristeva opted to go global — until she didn’t. Until in a kind of reverse-thrust globalism – one of absolute withdrawal rather than absolute embrace – she took her toys and went home.

You sort of have to brace yourself for an article titled “The Moral Catastrophe at Michigan State.”

Are you braced?

Then let’s go.

[One of dozens of lawsuits against MSU] contends that [now-jailed MSU athletics physician Larry] Nassar raped someone — a former MSU field-hockey player who was 18 years old at the time — in 1992 and filmed the act while doing so. [I]t alleges that MSU — and, specifically, George Perles, a current member of MSU’s board of trustees who served as the university’s athletic director at the time of the rape — went “to great lengths to conceal this conduct.”

The article cites ESPN’s extensive reporting on a university-wide culture that for years enabled Nassar’s student-rapes.

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

Ask yourself. Why is Perles on a university board of trustees? What sort of a university puts an AD/football coach on their board?

The sort of university that believes its athletics program is the most important thing about it, and wants the hushing up of the program’s many scandals to take place at the highest levels. MSU chose to give an AD/coach who already had a record of significant infractions a position as a trustee. Think about that.

Think about the long reign of Auburn’s Bobby Lowder (background on Lowder in these posts). The model, at these and other morally catastrophic jockshops, is a virtually all-male culture of sexual entitlement, cronyism, and secrecy. It’s how you get Penn State and Baylor and the University of Kansas and too many other catastrophes to mention.

‘Pharma Exec Says he had “Moral Requirement” to Raise Drug Price 400%’

When can his glory fade?
O the wild charge he made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge he made!
Death to the FDA!
Noble four hundred!

Not sure I want to be within earshot of that duel.

Situated in Kalorama with seven bedrooms and nine-and-a-half baths, you can also find a home theater, an elevator, a wine cellar, a master suite with duel bathrooms and dressing rooms, and a backyard pool.

Christopher Hitchens on 9/11.

[September 11] very much conscripted all the things I hate: theocracy, the cult of violence, anti-Jewish paranoia, worship of a leader – a supreme sheikh … I think about it every day. Still.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Salutes the Superintendent of Terrell County Texas Schools…

… for use of passive voice above and beyond the call of duty. In response to a more than ordinarily ugly fight among players – and a coach!- at a recent football game, she wrote the following:

The incidents that occurred at the Sanderson v. Marfa football game on Friday, September 7th are unfortunate and embarrassing for both communities and school districts. There were actions by both teams that were unacceptable. The appropriate notifications have been made to UIL and TEA. The district will review the incident. Once all the facts are gathered, a decision regarding necessary actions will be taken. Until that time, and based on what is known now, we support our coaching staff.

Ya gotta admit that when it comes to failing even to touch on the subject of her statement – i.e., to use the word fight – the woman is punching above her weight. The incidents that occurred is so wondrous a phrase in its avoidance of actuality that even here, in her very first words, she sets a standard. There were actions by both teams that were unacceptable. Let’s not say what they were. And let’s use the passive voice: actions by both teams.. What actions? Don’t ask.

Notifications have been made. Who made them? What do you mean by notifications? Teams, not people, attacked other… teams. And the district will review… Do you mean you? The superintendent? Teams, district — keep it vaguely corporate and the appalling immediacy of students and their coach beating the shit out of people on a football field disappears. Once the facts are gathered, a decision will be taken. Gathered by whom? What sorts of decisions are available? Who will make them? Where are we…? What is known….? Who knows it…?

Let’s translate into English.

The Friday fight at the Sanderson v. Marfa football game on Friday, September 7th angered and embarrassed all of us. Players on both teams attacked other players, and even a coach reportedly joined the fight. After I review footage, and talk to participants and witnesses, I’ll decide on punishments.

Note that SOS has dropped the superintendent’s last sentence. It’s dumb and unnecessary for her to pick sides when she just made clear she doesn’t know the full story.

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George Washington University English professor Margaret Soltan writes a blog called University Diaries, in which she decries the Twilight Zone-ish state our holy land’s institutes of higher ed find themselves in these days.
The Electron Pencil

It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
Professor Mondo

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.
AcademicPub

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.
Dagblog

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
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Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
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Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
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Perplexed with Narrow Passages

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As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte