Black turtleneck, orange scarf…

Soviet military hat, Twilight Zone poster for her office door, and, later in the day if she has time to get them, scones with orange icing.

UD prepares for this afternoon’s Halloween open house in the George Washington University English department.

Harvard University’s Anal-Retentive Issues Regarding its Wealth…

… come into conflict with some of its employees. Grudgingly, Harvard arrives at a tentative agreement with its dining workers.

[O]ne of the Harvard endowment’s managers earned more than $11 million in 2013. The school’s president, Drew Faust, makes in the upper six figures, but also has access to perks like an official residence and retirement benefits that take total compensation north of a million dollars annually…

Yet at the same time as the school’s top officials have pulled in lofty salaries and as big corporations beyond school gates have rebounded in the ensuing years, hourly-wage workers have continued to struggle, with median weekly earnings just surpassing a 2009 peak this March. Elite universities, which employ both highly compensated, highly respected academic leaders and low-wage workers who sometimes feel invisible, offer a depressing illustration of the widening gap between the richest and the poorest Americans.

This moving story is, for UD, about two things:

1. The importance of going to college.

[Derek Black] decided he wanted to study medieval European history, so he applied to New College of Florida, a top-ranked liberal arts school with a strong history program.

2. The importance of simple, unafraid compassion.

Matthew decided his best chance to affect Derek’s thinking was not to ignore him or confront him, but simply to include him.

Halloween Poem: “Opiate”

This nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic.

That being the case, it seems to ol’ UD that the Halloween poems she features this year might as well display that element of the Halloween mood which is drift, dreaminess, creepiness, trance, immobilism, morbidness… UD‘s commentary is in brackets.



Gottfried Benn (translated, Francis Golffing, 1952)


Opiate, aconite
beckoning lust and cadaver
Lernaean fields
that my soul drinks
as its elements press forward,
hear its flute-song, its cry:
“As you infuse your poison
restore the self, past itself.”

[Lethe beckons. One wants to make an end of it, to cancel consciousness, if not through death and if not through sex, then through taking one of the many poisons that get the self past itself into a condition of twilight sleep, the self “restored,” fulfilled, in stasis. (“The woman is perfected. / Her dead / Body wears the smile of accomplishment...”) Lernaean fields feature streams to the underworld, to oblivion, and one’s soul drinks that up.]

Cosmogonies, spirits
in the smoke of Hyoscine
atomizations, syntheses
of change, Heraclitean:
These are the very same rivers
but not the Ποταμοί,
opiate, showers of rain
driving past river and self.

[One wants to make an end of it and enter new worlds – cosmogonies. One wants the opiated air to summon metamorphosing spirits. Opiates offer you a way out of not merely the self, but the trivial changes of earthly life, the dull sublunary differences that after all only hasten you toward suffering and extinction. Opiates shower a cleansing rain that takes you past earthly rivers and an earthly self into “river god” (potamoi) worlds that transcend the human.]

Amphorae stand and tables
Before shades, dream-drugged,
thorn of sleep, fresh poppy calyx,
welling white to our lips:
here, too, is the threshold
from which comes a sound of flutes
and as the garlands unfold,
wine and ashes subside.

[The final stanza begins and ends with opiating wine. Amphorae for millennia have been containers for wine, and here they stand in a dark room, a dream chamber into which we’re descending via the poppy’s needle, the heroin’s hypodermic, the opiate’s white (deathly) liquid “welling … to our lips.” Again, as at the poem’s beginning, we drift toward the seductively tuneful threshold of nonexistence. The poppies open up to us draughts and draughts of their white wine until the wine itself – life itself – and death (ashes) subside. Lust and cadaver – the fever and the fret – both go up in smoke.]



Donald Trump and the “Flat Character” Problem

UD’s colleague, Thomas Mallon, considers Trump’s unsuitability for literary fiction.

Trump lacks even the two-dimensionality required in a sociopath; the emotional range is as impoverished as the vocabulary. Trump simply advances, like the Andromeda strain, a case of arrested development that is somehow also metastatic…

Trump’s defeat … will not render him measurably more affronted or angry or whatever he is. Because he is a flat character, it will leave him unchanged. Even if he cries that the contest was “rigged,” he will not feel the defeat. I predict that he will use his concession speech to talk about how many millions of votes he got in the primaries and how throughout the fall his crowds remained bigger than Hillary’s.

Malfunction at Dreamworld

As Don DeLillo pointed out in his most famous novel, White Noise, death while having fun is the quintessentially postmodern death.

On a beautiful, slightly chilly fall day…


Mr UD wraps himself in a
blanket and reads on the deck.

Update, Professor Dan Markel Murder

It looks as though one of the (alleged) primary organizers of Markel’s murder – Katherine Magbanua – might have cut a deal with police. Her charge has now been downgraded from murder one to murder in the second degree.

If Magbanua in fact served as the middleperson in the Dan Markel murder, as alleged by the police, then the person or people who actually ordered the hit should be running scared right now.

Let’s hope they’re not simply running. The Adelson family has a lot of money.

A George Washington University Student, Sara Soltani…

… (no relation to Margaret Soltan) stars in the latest Hillary Clinton ad.


Erection Update #2

Let’s look at this videotape of Obama. We called your attention, it was on the Drudge Report a couple days ago, Obama with an erection parading it around on a campaign plane and all the women trying to get closer and see it. Not one Republican has spoken up to condemn it.

We’d like to, Rush, but it’s really hard.

Trump Campaign Song: “Shall I Sue?”



(Sing along.)


Shall I sue, shall I seek for dough?
Shall I bay in pursuit?
Shall I strive to a heav’nly glow,
With an earthly suit?

Shall I think all mine pussies grabb’d
Or mine pinchéd tits
Or sore ass can ascend the courts,
Where high justice sits?

Silly wretch, forsake these dreams
Of a vain desire,
O bethink what legal costs
All your suits require.

Yet when that fortune bring to me
Triumph in the polls
At dawning of my pres’dency
Liars’ heads will roll.

Nasty Women! I will show
Measure of my rage
You will curse the day you dared
Rattle Donald’s cage!

Whorehouse Condemns Whorehouse.

The NCAA doesn’t like what the U of Smell has been up to. It’s one thing to run a morally prostituted organization, and a whole other thing to run an actual house of prostitution.

As long as President-for-Life Rick Pitino‘s University of Louisville maintained whore-parity with the NCAA by way of greed, cheating, and hypocrisy, things were copacetic; but Louisville went too far when the university extended the logic of sports recruitment to the establishment of a dorm-centered sex biz dedicated to the pleasuring of seventeen year old prospects and their fathers.

Pitino’s wittle interim campus mouthpiece has denounced the monstrous NCAA charges against The Dear Leader and pledges the full resources of the university in defense of their sovereign.

Hilaire Belloc’s “Lines to a Don” meant something entirely different…

… but parts of the poem contain a curiously contemporary resonance.


… Don poor at Bed and worse at Table,
Don pinched, Don starved, Don miserable;
Don stuttering, Don with roving eyes,
Don nervous, Don of crudities;
Don clerical, Don ordinary,
Don self-absorbed and solitary;
Don here-and-there, Don epileptic;
Don puffed and empty, Don dyspeptic;
Don middle-class, Don sycophantic,
Don dull, Don brutish, Don pedantic;
Don hypocritical, Don bad,
Don furtive, Don three-quarters mad;
Don (since a man must make an end),
Don that shall never be my friend.

… Don dreadful, rasping Don and wearing,
Repulsive Don—Don past all bearing.
Don of the cold and doubtful breath,
Don despicable, Don of death;
Don nasty, skimpy, silent, level;
Don evil; Don that serves the devil.
Don ugly — that makes fifty lines…


Guess that’s what they mean by immortal verse.

The “contest the restraining order” play at the University of Minnesota.

The University of Minnesota sports program has, over the last few years, polished its institutional sheen every bit as much as sports has shined up Penn State’s. Whether it’s a bankrupting, half-empty new stadium, coaches who I’d have called totally nuts before the Donald Trump campaign, or simply players who can’t play until that pesky court order modification comes through, UM has demonstrated precisely the sort of pre-NFL ethos we all like to see in a university. KEEP ‘EM ON THE FIELD AND YOU KNOW WHAT FUCK YOU. Amen.

UD thanks dmf.

UD’s Pretty Confident that Washington State University’s Mike Leach will be getting an emergency…

… raise of $20,000 — half of it to cover the $10,000 fine he just got for telling everyone that an upcoming football game he might lose is rigged, and another $10,000 to make up for the pain and humiliation he might have suffered because of having been fined.

Don’t leave, Mike! We love you! How much more money do you want? You are our golden boy and shed nothing but light and love upon our fine institution!


And yes – to answer your question – he’s a Trump man.

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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.

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.

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

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Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

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Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
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Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

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I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
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As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
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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

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More magazine, Canada

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