“I’m with you and screw all the customs that have deprived us of freedom.”

Taraf Alasiri kicks off a now-viral facial equality movement in Saudi Arabia. Much like Iran’s My Stealthy Freedom, Solidarity with Taraf features Saudi women photographing themselves unveiled and writing about personal freedom.

In Snits at the Ritz

Two women in burqas who were refused entry to London’s Ritz hotel expressed serious annoyance.

But the hotel has a dress code and the code includes people who refuse to show their faces. End of story.

Daphne the Exonerator Strikes Again.

A curious writer, Daphne Merkin. She repeatedly gets into trouble by writing high-profile journalism white-washing besmirched family and friends. Back in ’09, she wrote a notorious New York Times column down-playing her brother’s involvement in the Bernard Madoff scheme and up-playing the responsibility of people dumb enough to invest with said brother and his partner in crime Bernie.

Times readers who realized the connection [between Merkin and her brother] protested that the newspaper had given Ezra Merkin’s sister a platform to make what they saw as a veiled defense of his conduct without coming clean about the depth of his involvement.

Since her piece was written, her brother has been successfully sued for hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in payback to people he and Madoff destroyed. Tragically, Merkin has had to sell his entire Rothko collection. And he continues to be sued for hundreds of millions of dollars more, so he has to be eyeing his other collections.

Now Daphne Merkin has done it again, for her friend Woody Allen. Her New York magazine article attacking those who have attacked Allen’s behavior is as hopelessly corrupted by personal interest as was her piece about Madoff.

UD has got to tip her hat to Merkin, however. How the hell does she keep doing it? Ian Buruma had to resign. Merkin’s no doubt putting finishing touches on her 10,000-word profile of unfairly maligned Harvey Weinstein.

His bullshit claims about endless bowls of soup won a 2007 IgNobel …

which he proudly lists on his web page, but neither that long-ago spoof award nor many bright red flags since then have attracted the attention of serious scientists to his methods (Fold six retractions into seven retractions; mix briskly.).

Now, as the Cornell paper reports, things are on the boil for Professor Wansink. Once Cornell has concluded its review of his research, it will call a … Wansink Conference, announcing its results.


Mix all thirteen retractions together and… voila!

Retraite Forcé avec Urgence.

Girls Get in on the Act.

When everybody’s got a gun, every day is a massacre. Cuz we all have problems to solve, and guns solve problems. That’s why everybody’s got a gun.

Now, women have kind of been a holdout, in that although they own pretty much as many guns as men, they have seemed reluctant to use them to kill everyone.

But just down the road from UD‘s own Port Deposit, Maryland, where her grandfather owned a department store, a woman took out her … whatever … AR-15? … and blew everyone away today.

Thursday’s incident was the third mass shooting in the past 24 hours.

‘It’s kind of the American dream for a lot of people, a working class fantasy, the chance to walk off your steady job that makes you miserable … taking care to not just burn the bridge with your employer, but to napalm the shit out of that bridge on your way out the door, middle fingers waving, while your coworkers applaud.’

TrendingOn-field retirements in the NFL … Half the ticket-holders leave at halftime; why not players too? New staff specialization: Stay in the Game Coaches exhort wavering players to win one last one for the Gipper, while from just behind the sidelines phalanxes of Estate Planners rush the field…

Failed to…

inglatiate himself.

Hail, Hail, Estonia!

Hail hail Estonia!

We will not stand for anything that’s crooked or unfair
We’re strictly on the up and up so everyone beware
If anyone’s caught taking graft and we don’t get our share
We stand them up against the wall and pop goes the weasel!

“Breaking News: Drake Davis receives scholarship offer from Baylor.”

The witty commenters at Deadspin do it again, as Louisiana State University finally dumps professional girlfriend beater, Drake Davis.

But of course it won’t be Baylor that gives him a scholarship, much as that self-righteous institution adores violent men. It’ll be East Central Southern Mississippi All Praise To Our Savior Junior College.

“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.”


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.

Next Page »

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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.

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

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

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.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

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