If UD May Paraphrase Tip O’Neill:

All greed is local. The polite perplexity of a recent CUNY PhD in the face of wealthy Paul Krugman having accepted a CUNY professorship that pays him $450,000 to teach one seminar over the next two years overlooks the fact that Krugman, for all his attacks on American greed in his New York Times column, lives in a certain world. In this world (New York City, hedge fund managers), $450,000 (more than that, with various perks) is a slap in the face. You cannot spend decades surrounded by people who make twenty million dollars a year and not revise your greed radically upward.

The same awkwardness arose from Harvard professor Larry Summers indulging his hedge-fund-level greed while… being a professor…

[Harvard University professor Lawrence Summers] consults not only for hedge fund DE Shaw but for venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, asset-management and advisory firm Alliance Partners, stock-exchange operator Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., and for financial services firm Citigroup. He also has a healthy income from speaking — more than $100,000 earlier this year, for example, for a single speech to a conference organized by Drobny Global Advisors.

That is a busy schedule for a full-time faculty member who, like other professors, is allowed only a day a week for consulting — and Summers also chairs the advisory board of the Minerva Project, an online university startup, and holds an administrative role as Director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School.

This is the same Lawrence Summers who told Professor Cornel West to stop spending so much time on his outside activities and get back to his scholarship — because more was expected of a University Professor.

It’s all very postmodern: Krugman is a highly-paid professor-simulacrum whose function is to appear in CUNY advertisements. Big money, big promo, big nothing.

I’d urge Krugman to quantify that esteem for CUNY by donating a significant portion of his earnings, say $100,000 a year, to a scholarship fund for students or the Professional Staff Congress welfare fund, which provides much-needed health care benefits and emergency assistance for CUNY adjuncts.

Yet why should Krugman do that? He has – is asked to have – nothing to do with CUNY.

You have to go to Daniel Greenberg’s Center for the Absorption of Federal…

Funds to begin to make sense of a scandal like Sul Ross University. A terrible school with a graduation rate approaching zero, a school only lately on probation, Sul Ross naturally is all about athletics.

Back in November the entire football coaching staff was fired. Then the president of the university resigned days later.

There’s no there there, at Sul Ross, which opens the door to local bullies and boosters and hangers-on. No one’s saying exactly what happened (maybe everyone on campus is too addled to know), but the local press suggests the latest Sul Ross administration ran away because

There were claims that coaches were physically and verbally abusing players, that athletes were being bribed to incriminate coaches, and that coeds were being pushed to have sex with recruits.

Yadda yadda. Bottom line: When there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go, boys will get up to trouble. And Sul Ross is all about boys.

It’s odd to UD that Sul Ross is about anything. I mean, anything you and I have to pay for.

“[A]t universities that are essentially owned by their sports programs … no reform takes place until there is a major disaster. In the mid-’80s, not until a sitting governor of Texas admitted to his role in a slush fund for players did Southern Methodist lose its football program for two years. More recently, it took the conviction of a coach as a serial child molester to force Penn State to examine the football program’s stranglehold on a fine university.”

The [Jameis] Winston revelations are one more reminder of just how far universities and their apologists are willing to go to protect the multibillion-dollar enterprise that we call “college sports.”

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

Well, you know, we get these little eruptions; sometimes, as in the Florida State scandal, the New York Times gets involved and things seem to make slighter larger eruptions.

But keep this in mind. University athletes accused of rape, university athletes found guilty of rape — these events are a dime a dozen. (University athletes accused of beating the shit out of people are a penny a dozen.) During the life of this blog, UD has covered dozens and dozens of them. Sometimes schools like the University of Montana produce so many stories of this sort that they – and the one-watering-hole-per-square-inch towns that harbor them – begin to get a reputation. Enrollment suffers because parents don’t want their daughters living in a rape town. But overwhelmingly – as the NYT reports – these things go absolutely nowhere.

Wanna know why? Okay, here’s the list.

1. No one cares. People care about their team. They like their team’s aggressive players, and… you know… hard to keep all of that shit on the field. Too bad.

2. Billions of dollars are on the table.

3. It’s just girls getting hurt. Or – in the Sandusky case – underprivileged young men. Who cares.

Not only will things go nowhere. You can already see the rehabilitation of Paterno’s Penn State moving along nicely, with much of Happy Valley galvanized at the prospect of The Statue going up again… and at the much-discussed prospect of another statue of Paterno being commissioned for another high-profile place at Penn State.

Yes, this is what that university is all about lately. The important thing at Penn State is tons of people getting to work packing the board of trustees with true Penn Staters like Al Lord. (Note that Lord’s campaign page features not a picture of the candidate, but a picture of God himself, halo’ed in white.) Lord might well win a place on the Penn State board of trustees.

So before that happens, you want to understand the culture? Read and learn. Here’s Al’s position statement, with UD‘s commentary in parenthesis. (UD thanks an anonymous Penn State person for sending this to her.)

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

“I walked onto the Ogontz (now Abington) Campus mid-December, 1963. Since, I have felt an outsized, almost inexplicable affection for Penn State. [Almost inexplicable. The guy's a hell of a writer - the sort who shoots himself in the foot, making the reader giggle.] Though a very average student I always have felt fortunate to possess a Penn State degree. [Try to puzzle out the logic of this statement. It might make sense to say Because I was an average student I feel fortunate... But Though?]

Penn State’s relentless evolution from just a state university to America’s best [Relentless. This is the macho sports guy talking - everything that happens has to be a heroic struggle, high drama. And did you know Penn State was the best university in America? Mere months after having hosted the nation's most sordid university scandal?] has been a fifty year source of pride. Better than others, Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno created the healthy alliance of academics and athletics. [Okay, the guy's got balls. The name Spanier and the word healthy in the same sentence. Okay.] Penn State wins national championships in several sports and graduates America’s best prepared students. [Penn State students are certainly prepared to talk in great detail about what goes on during man on boy shower action. They have learned all about that.] Both academics and athletics well—that is our Penn State. [Word missing before "well"?] Our Trustees and Louis Freeh see a different Penn State. [Capitalizing Trustees is strange.]

I seek a seat on the PSU Board of Trustees because I can no longer watch the willful, cowardly destruction of our Penn State. [This is the way Donald Trump writes and talks. This is a Trump guy. Rich hothead with a surfeit of self-regard, and knows - like Trump - that he knows everything and we know nothing.] Our Boardroom splits between pride and shame; yet still none know the facts. [Again - can you figure the logic of this last sentence?] “Freeh’s facts” are incomplete, selective, and largely unconvincing. [Quotation marks around "Freeh's facts." What does he mean by them? That these facts only appear to be facts? That Lord spits on so-called Freeh's so-called facts? As with Trump, the character-age, if you will, of this writer is around fourteen.] Freeh’s report destroyed our past; left unchallenged it will diminish the future. [Again note the high-heroic tone, the would-be Lincolnesque rhetoric which comes off as bragging clueless nothingness.]

… Father of two grandfather of six. Wife of 48 years, Suzanne, received her Penn State PHT (Putting Hubby Through) in 1967. [UD finds this nod to the wife's PHT degree particularly winning.] … ”

‘”If you look at America’s great universities, you’ll see that they all have the three A’s in common: great academics, great arts and great athletics,” said UNT president Gretchen M. Bataille in a release.’

She left out audit.

“Payers will no longer pay rising prices for marginally improved new products and pharmas must now justify those higher prices by demonstrating substantially greater benefits. That means new drug development requires more time and cost to make the case for improved cost-benefit and, more often than not, the effort fails. As a result the sales revenues for new drugs suffer both initially and over time. Then in their insatiable demand to maintain a profitability that exceeded all other industries over the past thirty years, pharmas have turned to the emerging countries as their golden goose. There local conditions and the inexorable greed of pharma companies combine to produce a way of doing business that is intrinsically corrupt.”

In case you were wondering why pharma is intrinsically corrupt. And will remain so. After all, this writer didn’t even mention pharma’s impressive capacity to make up bogus ailments, frighten the shit out of us about them, and provide pills.

College-Prep, Birmingham, England: Preparing girls to sit in the back and boys to sit in the front…

… and introducing them to the thoughts of certain zealots… all at taxpayer expense! – so that when they get to university they’ll be ready to be forcibly sex segregated while listening to the zealots…

Here in the States we complain about all sorts of ridiculous stuff our taxes go toward; but turning our daughters into compliant … the favored term is sisters … is not, I think, one of them.

Ah! UD wondered why her referral log is showing a sudden intense interest in…

… Northern Kentucky University’s much-beloved athletic director, Scott Eaton. Ooh la la. Well, we already knew Scott was a bit of a rascal…a massively overpaid rascal… but … heck… you know, what AD isn’t? … But even with all the acclaim and money the desperate, pathetic, sports fans at would-be jock school NKU (jock school is pathetic enough; can there be anything more pathetic than would-be jock school?) threw at Eaton… w-a-all… lessee… (UD scratches her overalls in private places) seems like it jest wernt enuf. Hyuk! He done stole ’bout $350,000 and is going to jail for ten years. And people is kinda confused.

Many will wonder how Eaton could’ve gotten away with his theft for six full years, and had the former employee not come forward, it could’ve been even longer.

Jail will be especially challenging for Eaton, given his, er, needs.

An internal investigation determined that Eaton had “intimate, inappropriate relationships” with four university employees, including two he supervised, and a similar relationship with a student in a class he taught.

Hyuk. Is zat five? And that don’t count, you figure, all the rest which is too embarrassed to come forward.

Enjoy this photo from happier days. Read the chart behind him. And weep for schools like NKU, epicenters of the dumbest shit the American university has to offer.

Capitalist Cosmic Convergence

Danny Kuo, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to swapping illegal stock tips, asked a judge on Tuesday to delay his sentencing so he can attend next month’s commencement ceremony at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and receive his MBA.

News from ‘thesda

The latest from UD‘s stomping grounds.

A Montgomery County judge has dismissed a couple’s lawsuit alleging that a top private school jeopardized their son’s college career by not doing enough to help him.

The couple accused the Bullis School in Potomac of breaching its contract by failing to help after the boy received a poor grade, causing him to receive rejection letters from colleges.

… The family’s attorney says the school violated oral agreements in advertisements that promoted “an extraordinary educational experience” in a “nurturing environment.” He expects to appeal.

All the way to the Supreme Court.

Socialisme.

Mediapart said [Aquilino Morelle] used the presidency’s chauffeurs to drive his son around; that a shoe-shine man was ordered to come to his office to take care of his 30 pairs of luxury shoes; that he dipped into the Elysee’s fine-wines cellar and that he spent most Fridays at a luxury Paris hammam. Mediapart also mentioned his rude attitude toward some Elysee staff.

“Now pass me that bikini and where’s …

… the Soltan?”

The Soltan is currently at home, resting up after having interviewed Fran Lebowitz last night at a George Washington University event.

UD is rather curious in that appearing on the PBS News Hour, where her interview was watched by millions, did not make her nervous, but going to a teeny little reception at a lovely historic Foggy Bottom home scares the bejaysus out of her. I suppose it’s about people being an undifferentiated mass versus people being in your face. So she had her friend Gabe accompany her to the gathering at the president’s house, where we welcomed Lebowitz and where UD introduced herself to Lebowitz as her interviewer.

I have a bunch of questions for you, I said.

Great. I have one answer, she said.

Great, I said. We’ll do variations on that answer.

The evening was pleasantly chilly, with late afternoon sun on budding pears and dogwoods. Gabe and I were joined by Molly McCloskey, a terrific writer who’s in residence at GW this semester. Sweet and ceremonious undergraduates met us at the door of the president’s home, took our coats, and led us to the drinks. We quickly encountered another Ireland-related English professor (Molly lived in Ireland for a long time), and UD had a chance to talk about La Kid’s upcoming departure for Galway.

In formally welcoming Lebowitz, GW’s president made a number of gaffes. He began by calling her the author of many books. She is, famously, the author of not many. He described her as the author of Notes From A Broad. Lebowitz said she is not the author. The author of A View From A Broad is Bette Midler.

Ultimately, UD was willing to be forgiving. Being president of a university means fourteen similar events a day, and his staff screwed up on this one. Big deal.

At some point we trudged over to the auditorium at the public affairs building for the main event. UD took the stage a few moments before Lebowitz came out, and as she sat down the audience hushed. “Don’t get excited,” UD told them. “It’s just me.” UD was damned if Lebowitz was going to get all the laughs.

Lebowitz entered to applause, wished UD a good evening, UD returned the favor, and they were off.

UD began by reminding FL that like a lot of satirists she thinks human beings stink (UD read the following phrases from FL’s writings and interviews: “human nature is horrible …people – they’re not that great …human beings are not the finest species”), and she went on to inquire what’s wrong with us, and how can we fix it. This got a laugh from the audience and seemed to set FL up nicely. She went off on a long riff about our ghastliness. When she finished the riff, UD – who had decided to conduct this interview in a serious way, FL being an intellectual who makes claims about the world, and UD being the sort of person to challenge claims – went on to establish that FL doesn’t believe in hope – finds people who hope contemptible. So UD asked her why she votes, why she’s politically active in New York City issues, etc. If people are unimprovably awful, and if hope about change for the better is contemptible, why do anything? Beyond writing about it?

Which led to further questions about the nature of the satirist in the Swiftian tradition (quoting Orwell here: “Swift’s world-view is felt to be not altogether false — or it would probably be more accurate to say, not false all the time. Swift is a diseased writer. He remains permanently in a depressed mood which in most people is only intermittent, rather as though someone suffering from jaundice or the after-effects of influenza should have the energy to write books. But we all know that mood, and something in us responds to the expression of it. … Part of our minds — in any normal person it is the dominant part — believes that man is a noble animal and life is worth living: but there is also a sort of inner self which at least intermittently stands aghast at the horror of existence.”) and how odd this particular, pretty nihilistic impulse is…

So we bounced it around for a half hour, and UD kept trying to see if she could land somewhere near as many laughs as FL, and although actually the whole exchange is a bit of a fog, UD seems to recall that she did get her share. UD was also pleased to see that FL took her serious questions seriously, and as a result the interview seemed to UD a cut above a number of the FL interviews on YouTube, which tend to be people tossing softballs (“Talk about Michael Bloomberg.”) at FL.

UD went home on a very late-arriving, very-crowded metro train with her old friend Kim, who also attended the event. They stood and swayed and gabbed, at high volume, for the whole trip.

The Plagiartarian Wing…

… of the Republican party.

Its leader.

“If you rank all administrators listed in the report, the top 10 are all coaches or athletic administrators, and 15 of the top 25 are.”

There’ll always be an Arkansas.

The University of East London Doesn’t Fuck With that Shit.

But you’ve got to let them know. There have to be people out there watching for sex-segregated events at university campuses. Thank goodness there’s Peter Tatchell. He told UEL what the school was about to host, and UEL immediately cancelled the event.

OTOH… It occurs to UD to ask… Why didn’t UEL know about this? The organizers sent out via Facebook and all a big poster trumpeting the enforced segregation of women… Trumpeting also the preacher who instructs us to throw gay people off of mountains…

Snapshots from Home

Tonight UD interviews Fran Lebowitz in a large elegant auditorium at George Washington University.

As you know, UD has been studying Ms Lebowitz in preparation for this event (over-preparation – she’s only interviewing her for thirty minutes), and she has, scholar-squirrel-like, set out four categories of questions for her (plus, if there’s time, UD has a wild card question). The Four Categories:

The Human Animal
Income Inequality and Democracy
Writing and Reading
The Satirist and Happiness.

Here’s the wild card:

In Metropolitan Life, you predicted America’s current immense pain pill addiction problem. You wrote:

Presently it appears that people are mainly concerned with being well rested. Those capable of uninterrupted sleep are much admired. Unconsciousness is in great demand. This is the day of the milligram.

Could you update this remark?

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

What strikes UD most about Fran Lebowitz is something seldom touched on by people who interview her. She’s a remarkably self-made woman. She was thrown out of high school and simply got her ass over to Manhattan and made her way. She never went to college; she’s all about being educated by solitary reading.

She drove cabs, had the guts to connect with all sorts of people and enterprises… She seems to have appeared in the big city with an achieved sensibility and writing style, along with an outrageous but amply vindicated confidence in her own way of being. No wonder she loves New York City. Cities are designed with people like Lebowitz in mind.

Also with UD‘s old friend Lisa Nesselson in mind. UD finds herself thinking of Lisa when thinking of Lebowitz, except with Lisa the city was Paris and Lisa finished college (the same college UD went to, Northwestern). Lisa seems to have landed in Paris and within seconds decided this was it – her city, forever. When I first stayed with her she lived in a seventh-floor closet-sized walkup on the Boulevard Saint Germain. Communal toilet down the hall. She got to know the woman who owns the building, and now lives in a roomy apartment on the second floor.

Money? Far as I can tell, neither Lebowitz nor Nesselson has ever had much. They are bohemians, and they make do. Honesty and wit have allowed them to push forward and make the world accept — even celebrate — their spiky uncompromised personalities.

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