“Discussion is absolutely the key,” [University of Georgia Journalism Professor John] Soloski said. “Without the computers, there’s not this physical barrier between the professor and the students …”

Allowing laptops, as UD often says, is academic malpractice.

Professors who continue to allow laptop use fall into the following categories.

1. I could give a shit. It’s easier for me to do virtually nothing up there if students are sedated with their fun screens. To make matters perfect, I use old text-heavy PowerPoints and drone and dribble over them. Eventually my teaching will resemble my deep calm when sleeping off benders, and my classroom will be a morgue.

2. I hate and fear humanity, especially students. I look forward to the day when all of them will be hidden from me behind their screens.

That’s about it.

University of Oregon: A Class Act.

Just days after the three Oregon players were released from hospitalization due to overexertion during workouts, there’s more bad news for Willie Taggart’s Ducks program.

According to the school, co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach David Reaves was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Eugene on Saturday night.

You’ll love the details, including Reaves’ history with hostess programs and impermissible contacts and all.

What does ol’ UD tell you over and over again? Football programs really raise the tone.

Voting, Giving Blood, Making Charitable Gifts, Volunteering in a Political Campaign…

… these are all not merely commendable gestures, but will, in certain American university classroom settings, count as credit-bearing assignments.

Over the course of writing this blog, UD has chronicled the many ways professors accomplish two things: Get multiple people to help the professors in their far-flung personal commitments and endeavors; and avoid reading student papers/exams.

It’s win-win, really. You get a captive audience to do your bidding, whatever it may be, and you give yourself a break in terms of academic labor. For the student it’s win-win too – just cough up the good-cause donation, or knock on a district door or two, or endure that initial little pinch as the Red Cross pokes you… and presto! No need to write your final paper (automatic A) or take the final exam (again, automatic A).

UD herself has wondered if she could interest her students in washing her dog. UD’s dog is water-phobic, and the only way UD has been able to wash her is to capture her in her little fenced-in yard and race after her all over the yard while squirting the garden hose at her. The dog runs madly about, and UD runs madly about. Once the dog’s all wet, UD must attempt to hold her still while applying dog shampoo, and then it’s another runabout for rinsing. If, in exchange for not having to write their final paper or take their final exam, one or two of my students would wash my dog…

But no, no. In all the cases UD has mentioned, professors paid a price for these transactions. The latest instance, at the University of Central Florida, involves a psych prof who just a couple years ago was getting praised for doing shit like hypnotizing his entire class, but who’s now catching hell because he’ll drop all sorts of class requirements for students who give their money to a charity poker game. (Maybe the hypnosis was part of the deal: You put them under and then … When I snap my fingers you will awaken and give all your money to Saint Jude’s Hospital…)

Such a classy idea. On top of taking their money (their parent’s money… our tax money…) in tuition, you take more of their money in exchange for making their university tuition meaningless. At least the University of North Carolina’s athletes were on scholarship when the university arranged for them to have meaningless classes.

But anyway. Someone called an ethics hotline on the dude and he’s out on his ass and will have to find a whole new universe of suckers.

An American in Dublin

La Kid takes part in

Ireland’s Women’s March.
Happening now.

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

As for the local march,
here’s a representative headline.

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

UD‘s cousin Karen (actress
and director), on her way
to the DC march this AM.

“The Dodge Challenger was also displaying an Oklahoma University parking permit,” the arrest affidavit states.

The long tradition of university football players wearing immediately identifiable clothes, or driving cars with immediately identifiable parking permits, during the course of their robberies is burnished once again in the case of the University of Oklahoma’s Parrish Cobb.

Here’s UD‘s favorite headline:

Oklahoma cornerback Parrish Cobb, burned for 2 Noah Brown TDs, charged in 3 robberies

You wanna get the important stuff out there first, and only after that get around to his off-field activities…

Some nice comments at Deadspin:

(spring practice)

Stoops: Is there any video?

Cobb: I don’t think so.

Stoops: Well take an extra lap. Wait, we’re in a new era. Make it two.

La Kid Backs Up Bruce Springsteen at Inauguration Day Eight Years Ago.

She’s just to his left.

Sightings Yesterday, George Washington University, Foggy Bottom, and Environs

First thing: As my morning train to campus pulled out of Metro Center, a man’s voice reached us from the platform. GO TRUMP!

Walking to my first class: A middle-aged couple in full Trump regalia (enormous Trump hats, red white and blue clothing with Trump written on it) strides by, excited and happy.

Walking from my second class: At one of the campus intersections, a green vintage car rolls slowly along with Trump’s name in big letters on most of its surfaces. It is softly tooting its horn.

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

I’m a little early for my second class, so Ashley (Fulbright student from China) and I sit on a bench and chat. One of my colleagues comes by and says with dread What are you doing tomorrow?

Staying home in Garrett Park. I’m thinking of taking up knitting.

I feel as though I should be there, at an opposition rally or whatever… I asked [another colleague of ours] what he’s doing tomorrow. He said Hiding under the bed.

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

Gatherings up and down the Foggy Bottom Metro platform that evening of Bikers for Trump — skinny sunburned guys with long blond hair and arm tattoos and skinny jeans with key chains and handkerchiefs spilling out of them. Mucho legible clothing with gun, patriotic, and Trump-love messages.

Sex, Blood, and the American University

I’m not gonna do that thing where I say They started as monasteries and other religious-type entities and look how far they’ve fallen! I’m not gonna say universities – much less American universities – must continue to represent a higher, purer, realm of activity than, say, Myrtle Beach Bike Week.

No, no, let it rip. Let sex-scandal-soaked University of Minnesota produce as a finalist for regent a football player with exposure issues. Let UMN’s current regents grumble about having been left out of the hiring and compensation decisions around their incoming multimillionaire football coach (background on him here). Let the probable upcoming scandal and massive buyout of this guy’s contract also weigh heavily on the pointless dithering trustees. Fine. Fine.

Go ahead and make universities places where highly paid employees routinely injure students so badly they have to be hospitalized. Where brainwork means concussions. Football players with exposure issues are part of the grand legacy of American universities, as are sadistic-training hospitalizations. As are – at some of our highest profile schools – child rape, gang rape, and woman battering.

But consider this:

I don’t want to scare you, but more and more people are talking about a fundamental change in the higher education of this country. More and more people are talking about a minor league for football.

And American universities had better watch out, or it’s ave atque vale Richie Incognito, Johnny Manziel, and Peyton Manning. These guys are not merely the heroes of schools like Nebraska and Tennessee – they’re the trustees of the future. Their ethos is the school ethos. All the money and the passion and the very identity of the university follow them. What happens when American teenagers are able to go directly into a minor league system and bypass the university?

UD‘s friend David Ridpath is all excited.

For anyone that loves football at all levels and wants college football in a more educational setting along with providing more talent for the NFL, it is simply a no brainer.

A lot of people are excited. But if you’re a university, ask yourself: What happens to the trillion dollars you’ve already invested in new stadiums and all that shit? You’re already looking at seriously declining attendance at the games, and serious resistance to paying vaster and vaster student athletic fees. Much more fundamentally, you are football. Nebraska, Penn State, a hundred others – What happens when a few grade-conscious pussies tiptoe out on the field for you? As Mrs Dalloway put it – the death of the soul…

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

UD thanks Charlie.

America’s Ready for a Plagiarist to Run the Nation’s Housing…

… but not a plagiarist to run communications.

********

I’ll tell you ol’ UD‘s take on it.

Crowley was a veteran, all over the place, slaphappy plagiarist. So are a lot of people. What’s scandalous here is the woman’s assumption that even after having taken the job of one of the country’s highest-profile writers, she could continue to get away with it. She didn’t even fucking disclose!

And you know why not?

Because virtually everyone in this administration, starting at the top, flagrantly plays the angles. She figured she could too.

(Carson? He apologized. He’s more high-profile, having run for prez. And being a plagiarist doesn’t have obvious and immediate implications for running housing.)

A Poem for January…

…whose last few lines echo – uncannily – Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel White Noise.

Go here for the poem unaccosted; what follows is the poem plus UD‘s commentary in brackets.

********

JANUARY

[By Alfred Corn.
Written in 1977.]


[January can be a month of renewal — or a cold dark drag, a calendrical crystallization of every warm and vital thing frozen within you. Corn’s poem is like that. The frozen thing.]

Night swallows up everything but doesn’t
Alone cast the shadow inside, this sense
Of incompleteness, lack
Of echo…

[No, not night alone. My own despair helps cast the shadow.]

I expect
Too much? Too little?

[The poet grapples with his poetic ambition. At the moment he is, like Shelley in “Ode to the West Wind,” writing a lyric about being unable to write a lyric.]

My undetailed season
Only appears in the bright particulars
Of paired headlights flooding an avenue,
It seems, at cross-purposes with Number.

[I’m like an aimless car at night, turning on the floodlights but illuminating no meaningful location – no detail; no Number.]

If the worst certainties were skill – but now
The mind goes begging, words crumble, refuse
To render anything at all, except
The barrenness their failure parallels.

[Maybe I could at least – being a skilled wordsmith – write a kind of empty but stylish tour de force… Just to get something verbal out there… But my wintry despair is such that even words now fail me, revealing only my existential barrenness.]

People, like a people, do have slumps, when
Nothing wants to be said, and what is,
Hardly worth anyone’s staying awake for –
A satire for unaccommodated men.

[The world fails to accommodate my mind, my heart, my soul, the enormity of my desire for completeness, my desire that the world outside reverberate with – echo – my inner world.]

Best, they claim, to remount the horse that threw
You (in the present case, a horse with wings)

[That’s Pegasus – poetry – there. That’s the particular horse the demoralized poet must get back on. Did it throw him, indeed, because he tried to fly too high for his mundane times? Wanted too much, that is?]

So as to demonstrate –
To show that you are … what?
I’ve forgotten. Given that I can do
Only as well as my times, just how much
Will they sustain?

[Another statement of the same idea: How high can I fly, given where and when I live?]

Or the doubtful subject
Of a self in neither sense exemplary?

[There is moral as well as aesthetic judgment here. The problem is not perhaps in our unpoetic stars as in ourselves.]

[Corn will close – as so many lyricists do – by shifting his focus from himself to his setting, his city.]

In those doorways several will freeze tonight,
Disappointment’s victims, failures at love,
Dazed benumbed – but this is self-description.
Pure perversity, I guess, leads me to search
The mirror of my self-imposed city for
What, if anything here, holds a promise,
The gift of speech that comes to those who hear
A word sounded through the white noise of the world.

[Very DeLilloesque, that. The novel White Noise is about the very same thing – listening so intently to the empty background noise of the world (“white” here has a nice extra symbolic resonance, since we’re January and that’s about benumbing and even killing white snow) that you begin to discern something other than white noise. A word sounded through the white noise of the world. Only the poet’s ear can catch that hidden resonance, which inevitably has to do with suffering (here, the homeless in the doorways) outside of you which somehow “accommodates” the suffering within you. The writer at the center of DeLillo’s novel Mao II has always made a point of listening very closely to the things ordinary people say – because if you listen closely enough, they are saying something extraordinary:

[I]t made his heart shake to hear these things … the uninventable poetry, inside the pain, of what people say.

It’s cold out there. In there. Gotta get the old ticker shaking again.]

“To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.”

Anyone who blogs about universities – ‘specially university athletics – has the very same task Samuel Beckett describes. How do you make room for – make sense of – the mess? For the theater of the absurd production that schools like New Mexico State (and let NMSU stand for myriad others like it) stage every single day? Go here for background on this clown school with its budget-killing big sports program and its vast empty stadium. Then go here for an update, as the state of New Mexico pulls funding from the school and lets the big thinkers on campus figure out how to keep their players rolling around in a huge vacant shell.

But that’s just one state school, from a notoriously anti-intellectual state. Consider the sporty devolution of the University of Minnesota, of all places, where they pay coaches millions of dollars to preside over endless sickening drug and sex scandals. People are now officially worried that the state legislature might be too grossed out to approve UMN’s funding requests. You’ve even got some restive citizens wondering about – wait for it – whether athletics might compromise a university’s mission. They seem particularly upset about coaches’ salaries.

But UMN to the rescue! They’re about to appoint this guy as one of their regents. Good optics.

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

The Washington state senate shows you what can happen to a university’s autonomy when it keeps fucking up its athletic budget.

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

At least we’ve got the very top of university football, with packed stadiums and plentiful revenues, to admire. Dave Zirin describes these lucky schools.

[Clemson’s] head coach in 1981, Danny Ford made $50,000 that year (adjusted for inflation, that would be $140,000 today). Dabo Swinney takes home a base salary of $4.55 million. He also made $1.4 million in bonuses for a total salary of just under $6 million. As for players, their lot in life is the same as in 1981, except now they receive a $388-a-month stipend.

[Clemson coach Dabo] Swinney was asked about the idea of actually paying players, given the dramatically transformed economic landscape of the game, and he said that if players are ever paid, “I’ll go do something else because there’s enough entitlement in this world as there is.” To call the desire to end this rank exploitation “entitlement” is Orwellian in the extreme. He might as well write “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” on the locker-room walls.

If anyone has expressed an obscene amount of entitlement, it’s Swinney. Here is someone working on a refurbished plantation who makes millions of dollars off the sweat and head injuries of overwhelmingly black, unpaid labor, and yet when asked about the Black Lives Matter movement in September, he said, ”Some of these people need to move to another country.”

… College football is a septic tank of entitlement. It’s a fungal culture created by the head coaches of Big Football. Dabo Swinney is the very embodiment of that culture: adrift, clueless, and filthy rich.

Yuck. Another fine mess.

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

UD thanks John and Carl.

Circuitously, UD happens on a saying she likes.

She’s been following – vaguely, because she doesn’t like posting on sexual harassment stories – the increasingly icky case of Gabriel Piterberg, a UCLA history professor who seems to have sexually harassed two graduate students. (UD shies away from these stories because they are typically insanely complicated, with claims and counterclaims galore, and everything grows into intricate lawsuits which spawn further lawsuits… I mean, of course, UD does post on quite a few such stories – they’re obviously important. But you often feel the ground shifting uncomfortably under you as you try to make sense of them.) They sued, and the university settled. Piterberg got some financial and other punishments (required seminar in foundations of not sexually harassing women; keep the office door open), and is now, at the beginning of spring semester, back at work.

But lots of people aren’t happy about that (38 of his colleagues wrote this protest letter), and they’ve been protesting/disrupting his classes. He hasn’t really been able to teach.

The story has jumped to major media outlets, and, in the context of plenty of recent California-university-based sexual harassment incidents, looks bad for UCLA.

Making matters worse is the notorious anti-Zionism of Piterberg, who grew up in Israel and came to regard the Zionist project as rank colonialist folly. One of Piterberg’s colleagues, the father of Daniel Pearl, has not hesitated to condemn him:

“Piterberg belongs to a group of extreme left so-called historians who see their role as the reinterpretation of history to fit their political agenda,” Pearl said.

Pearl said that Piterberg has greatly damaged UCLA and its history department by trying to legitimatize anti-Israel movements on campus and “demoralizing Jewish students.”

Let’s face it: Not a popular guy on campus. Students figure he’d be happy to get the hell out if UCLA gave him a good severance.

What they’re forgetting is that he probably has nowhere else to go.

***********

Anyway, in reading about Piterberg and his work, UD came upon this comment, from someone reviewing one of his books.

While he knew all about the contradiction in “religious Zionism”, [Chaim] Bermant was more indulgent towards his Labour friends, and overlooked that other contradiction – what George Steiner has perceptively called Zionism as a secular-political movement invoking a scriptural-mystical justification “to which it could not, in avowed honesty, subscribe.” Or as the Israeli writer Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, cited by Piterberg, puts it, “There is no God, but He promised us the Land”…

UD likes this very much – “There is no God, but He promised us the land.”

Snapshots from Home

Economizing, in UD‘s world.

The [$23 million] home [Jeff Bezos has just bought in Washington DC] is expected to be an East-coast pied a terre for the family — allowing him to avoid hotel bills.

“McGuire stepped down in 1992 and H. Barton Grossman, M.D., followed McGuire, serving as section head until the arrival of Dr. Joseph Oesterling in 1994.”

The University of Michigan’s urology department shares its leadership history, marking without comment the curiously short reign (he left in ’97) of Joseph Oesterling. But here’s a comment, from a local journalist recalling her most important story:

In the early 1990s, I got a tip from an insider at the University of Michigan that Dr. Joseph Oesterling, chief urologist, had scammed the university on expenses and pocketed money from prostate cancer foundations he created. He used the money to build himself a mighty fine mansion. Through FOIA, I and reporter Maryanne George, who was a cub reporter I edited while we both were at the Michigan State News, got reams of information about his expense records showing he double- and triple-billed the university for expenses drug and medical device companies gave him. He resigned in disgrace but only served a brief stint of community service.

We ran a big story including a photo of the house that my newspaper got by hiring a helicopter (with our lawyer’s OK) and shooting it from above. (The house was on a private road with a chain fence that said no trespassing). Turns out the picture we ran was of the back of the house, but that entrance looked so posh it was taken as the front entrance. I used the photo in speeches and the back entrance comment always got good laughs.

The story opened my eyes to the poor oversight of medical professionals by most states.

Poor oversight? You mean just because Oesterling was – until a few days ago – still practicing medicine?

I mean, yes, twenty years after the Michigan thing, plus a 2005 misconduct charge, plus an arrest at the end of December for running a chain of pill mills, Oesterling’s license has finally been suspended… Not taken away, mind you… Wouldn’t want to act hastily…

But – wait for it – he’s still prescribing!

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

… Oesterling’s clinics, including one in Caro, prescribed a total of “some 330,000 dosage units of Norco, a (Schedule II) controlled substance, within a 16-month period.

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

If you’re anxious about your fix, you’ll be relieved to know he’s out on bond, and with all his money he’ll almost certainly be able to beat these latest charges.

Limerick.

Shakespearean Limerick About Monica Crowley

Now Harper and Collins, most growly,
Suspend their edition of Crowley.
“You blackguard! Whoreson!”
Crieth vilified Mon.
“Thou playest against me most foully.”

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