“[University of Wyoming] athletics appears to remain a priority, as the vote to approve the [increased] appropriation came on the same day that the Joint Appropriations Committee voted to cut $45 million from Wyoming K-12 funding and eliminate the $3.3 million Family Literacy program budget.”

Keeping them dumb in Wyoming.


And okay – today’s theme on University Diaries seems to be stupidity. I mean, UD keeps reading more and more Americans worrying about how stupid we are. The context seems to be the GOP presidential front-runners, and it’s not confined to the left.

I don’t mean obvious stuff like Bill Maher’s. The Weekly Standard, which UD thought was Sarah Palin’s biggest booster, just ran a review of a book called Too Dumb to Fail. Excerpts from the review:

I had thought that Matt Lewis’s new book about the conservative Republican future, Too Dumb To Fail, had a title that was accurate but a bit ahead of its time. Then, on the eve of the book’s publication, Sarah Palin endorsed the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, with a rambling “speech” that thoroughly earned a New York Daily News front page headline “I’m With Stupid”…

[Southern evangelicals] as a group tend to lack intellectual curiosity and rigor. Bringing a decidedly unintellectual group into the [conservative] movement, Lewis contends, encouraged the movement itself to move away from its strength, its use of argument to explain America’s challenges and propose real solutions that solve them…

Pandered to by [media] “leaders” who profit enormously from keeping their flock sheltered, this has created a worldview in which conservatives are an embattled majority suppressed only by the betrayal of elites and their putative leaders. “Informed” by such falsehoods, it is no wonder when we ponder a future as I write of a Republican party led either by a demagogue or a charlatan.


And here’s a description of the highest-profile student/athlete at one of America’s highest-profile public universities.

[Maty] Mauk isn’t just stupid. He’s a true hard working moron.


There’s one thing UD likes about this sudden national freeing of stupidity from the closet.

When La Kid was a kid, she and I loved a series of books called The Stupids. Then we were instructed by a child-something specialist among our acquaintance that it was very very wrong to read The Stupids, very wrong to use the word, let alone laugh at The Stupids.

Of course UD and La Kid ignored this person. But it’s always sort of been in the back of UD‘s mind as an annoyance that this person said this to her and to her daughter. It makes UD happy to see how far we’ve come as a country just in the last couple of decades in terms of naming the problem openly.

‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.’

[F]or many Republicans — the ones not living in fantasyland — the current battle for the party, between the nihilistic forces of Trump and Cruz on the one hand and the uninspiring conventional politicians on the other, feels like something deeper… It feels like the party is on the brink of breaking apart.

Now that Bill Cosby has been arrested…

UD proposes that George Washington University’s last president, Stephen Trachtenberg, volunteer to appear at his trial as a character witness.

In arguing that GW should not revoke the honorary degree it gave Cosby a few years ago, Trachtenberg wrote:

What good would it do to void Mr. Cosby’s diploma? Who actually celebrates it today? He is revealed and reviled… There is a rough charm to the proposal that we should recall our degree from Mr. Cosby, but it is a blunt instrument that does not do real justice to the dreadful challenge it seeks to address. It does not actually get to right. It provides no real comfort to the abused.

Mr. Cosby knows that we no longer esteem him. Everybody knows. He is down. He is out. The degree is as null and void as it can be. It is self-executing. However much he may deserve it, I am disinclined to kick him again to underscore our own virtue. It’s too easy.

And now some district attorney is about to kick him yet again! It seems to UD that the same language Trachtenberg has used to attack self-righteous people only interested in underscoring their own virtue can be used to attack the court for having arrested Cosby.

What good does it do to arrest Mr Cosby? Who actually celebrates him today? He is revealed and reviled… There is a rough charm to the proposal that we should haul the courts into this situation, but they are a blunt instrument that does not do real justice to the dreadful challenge [they seek] to address. It does not actually get to right. It provides no real comfort to the abused.

Mr. Cosby knows that we no longer esteem him. Everybody knows. He is down. He is out…. However much he may deserve it, I am disinclined to kick him again to underscore our own virtue. It’s too easy.

Quotation of the Day.

Tenure is not immunity… [Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist James Tracy’s] harassment of the parents of murdered children was vulgar, repulsive and an insult to the academic profession. Faculty concerned about the status of tenure should, in fact, be relieved that [Florida Atlantic University] began termination procedures… While there are real reasons to protect tenure for academic research, Tracy’s ‘scholarship’ makes a mockery of what academics do. His termination both holds Tracy accountable for his despicable behavior and reduces pressure on elected officials to end tenure.

News from Australia

The previous prime minister, ardent Monarchist Tony Abbott, reintroduced knighthoods in a shock announcement in March 2014, without consulting his cabinet colleagues, some of whom told the media, with typical Aussie bluntness, that the move was “fucking stupid”.

“Molo also portrayed the case as a backhanded attack on New York legislative process, which he said allows elected officials to … profit from no-show employment.”

UD knew she’d love the Sheldon Silver trial. And this is only the first day.

Sentence of the Day

How could you not fall for a kid who, while running for vice president of her elementary school in suburban Washington State, used the slogan “We built this city on rock ’n’ roll, but we should build this school upon leadership.”

Review of Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, New York Times.

Sentence of the Day

That period reached its culmination when her mother posed nearly nude in French Playboy and told interviewers that her ex-husband had a rabid hatred of Jews and privately referred to Adolf Hitler as Uncle Dolfie.

A few blasts from Marine Le Pen’s past.

“I just don’t want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal.”

Too bloody even for the Red States.

Admit it. You’re gonna miss him when he’s gone.

Questioning the Distempered Part

[P]sychoanalyst Carl Sword recounted a conversation with [one of England’s top neurosurgeons, who said], “I have no compassion for those whom I operate on…. In the theater I am reborn: as a cold, heartless machine, totally at one with scalpel, drill and saw. When you’re cutting loose and cheating death high above the snowline of the brain, feelings aren’t fit for purpose. Emotion is entropy, and seriously bad for business. I’ve hunted it down to extinction over the years.”

This post’s title?


The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

“And all this stuff is happening overseas so it’ll be a while for [it all] to come through the wash, but I’m confident [that] New Zealand has no direct involvement or implication in anything that involves that touches this scandal.”

The FIFA thing is happening Way Over There, Way Over Yonder, Way Way Far Away from little New Zealand over here in the far opposite corner… Nothing to see here… We haven’t even gotten the Morse Code clicks on the thing yet… What are you talking about…

“[B]ribery and racketeering and wire fraud are only one part of FIFA’s problems when it comes to the organization’s image and the upcoming World Cup tournaments.”

Yeah, that’s nothing. Bribery racketeering wire fraud, forget it. There’s so much more.

Art, Life

Attended a remarkable recital here in Philadelphia on Tuesday evening by the bass-baritone Eric Owens that featured Schubert’s Fahrt zum Hades, and Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, and the almost awkward sight (until explained) of tears streaming down Mr. Owens’ cheeks during the performance. After intermission, when Mr. Owens returned, he paused to explain to the audience that the reason for his overcome and bereft manner was that he had learned, only an hour or so before he walked on stage, that his colleague, Maria Radner, was indeed on the manifest of the doomed plane and had indeed perished (along with her husband and infant son).

If ever there was a moment when the distant meanings of these distant songs was made real in the present (‘When will these tortures finish? When?’), it was in Mr. Owens’s explanation of why he was so earlier bereft, of the fusing of Schubert’s music with this very contemporary and lacerating intrusion. It all made his entire presentation – his performance, his utter, convulsed devastation – one of the most memorable and poignant tributes to a fallen colleague I’ve ever witnessed.

From a comment thread, New York Times.

Daily Affirmations, DSK-Style

Let’s say I saved the world from a crisis that could have been worse than the one in 1929.”

From a long and very useful analysis of sexual assault on campus…

… by Emily Yoffe.

Carol Tavris is a social psychologist and author of the feminist classic, The Mismeasure of Woman, and, with Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me). She says she is troubled by the blurring of distinctions between rape (notably by predatory males), unwanted sex (where one party agrees to sex not out of desire but to please or placate the partner), and the kind of consensual sex where both parties are so drunk they can barely remember what happened — and one of them later regrets it. She says, “Calling all of these kinds of sexual encounters ‘rape’ or ‘sexual assault’ doesn’t teach young women how to learn what they want sexually, let alone how to communicate what they want, or don’t want. It doesn’t teach them to take responsibility for their decisions, for their reluctance to speak up. Sexual communication is really hard — you don’t learn how to do it in a few weekends.”

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