Kirby …


Go there…


Terror Attack on Freedom of Expression in France: At Least Eleven Killed.

Center of Paris, midday. The satirical paper, Charlie Hebdo, “has been attacked in the past for satirizing Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.”


How the mightily corrupt are fallen.

The Guv’s sentence (for, among other things, trying to fuck with the integrity of his state’s universities) will be announced in a few moments…

Bet you five bucks it’s five years.


Fine. Two years.

The Rule of Law at the Opera

In a year-end review of the condition of Muslim women, a columnist for The Telegraph writes:

In October in Paris, at La Traviata opera, the cast stopped mid performance when they saw a woman in a full-face veil. She happened to be a tourist from the Gulf on a visit to take in some French culture. They refused to carry on until she was removed from the theatre. [Here was a Muslim woman] acting contrary to stereotype – … enjoying Western high culture. However, [her] choices were reduced by others to nothing more than what [she wore].

As we leave 2014, let’s give a cheer for the rule of law, something this writer has overlooked.

Any account of the Opéra Bastille incident needs to feature the fact that wearing a burqa in public (the woman sat in the front row directly behind the conductor, which is way public) is illegal in France. Close to eighty percent of the French population (including many Muslims, some quite prominent) supports the ban.

2014 saw not only the Opéra Bastille incident; it saw the European Court of Human Rights uphold the French burqa ban. This ban is not some sort of rogue state operation; it has the backing of the ECHR.

So this incident wasn’t a group of bigots showing insufficient enthusiasm for intercultural communication (“enjoying Western high culture”) by “reducing” a human being to “nothing more than what she wore.” This incident was a group of people aware of the laws of their country and behaving according to them.

Nor does it seem to UD that this was a reductive act; rather, it was an expansive one. The reductive act issued from whatever outer and inner forces fashioned a human being who in order to enter the public sphere annihilates her identity.

The burqa ban is a significant expression of precisely the French culture this visitor from the Gulf wanted, as the Telegraph writer puts it, “to take in.” If a Western woman who visits the Gulf to take in some Saudi culture fails to cover herself (and fails to find a male minder to take charge of her wherever she goes), she may well be threatened with expulsion as soon as she deplanes.

Gotta respect the law.

‘Running for the presidency’s not an IQ test.’

Truer words have ne’er been spake.

Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air…

A Miltonist travels aboard El Al.
Cabin’d about with ultra-Orthodox,
With trembling men made mad by fear of God,
Men rampaging th’aisles in search of seats
Uninfected by the smells of women,
Th’English professor protects the seat
Beside him, which the flight crew had promised
Would remain unoccupied. A frenzied
Searcher after unpolluted places
Is now, alas, upon him, and he must
Assert his right to what has been promised.

“Fleeing the woman seated next to me,”
The searcher says, and gestures to sit down.

“Though short of my making a full-fledged scene,”
The Miltonist later recalls, battle
Did ensue, a most unseemly hubbub
Resolved when the crew found another seat
Equally purified of the She-Stain.


Justify the ways of God? Milton can.
But who can justify the ways of man?

“Regarding the French law against the niqab and burqa which prevent women from being able to move freely and see, because the niqab is a bit like blinders, I am in full agreement with the government of France.”

The speaker is Rula Ghani, wife of the president of Afghanistan.

“Islamist Party in Tunisia Concedes to Secularists”

Amid all the bad world news, some truly good news.

Don Young, Alaska’s Finest, Continually Reminds Us…

… much more eloquently than ol’ UD can, on this blog devoted to the importance of higher education, that a reasonably serious college education might really help you be less stupid throughout your life. But Don Young also reminds us that democracy means people are free to choose the political leaders they feel best represent them; and in always returning this man to Washington, Alaska has made its sense of itself clear.

Back in 2011, in one of many similar embarrassments for the state of Alaska, Young called a congressional witness’s testimony “garbage,” and addressed him by the name of the university at which he teaches. Called him Mr Rice. The witness, Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice, responded.

“It’s Dr. Brinkley, Rice is a university,” and “I know you went to Yuba [Community College in California] and couldn’t graduate — ”

Then it was Young’s turn to interrupt. “I’ll call you anything I want to call you when you sit in that chair,” he told the witness. “You just be quiet.”

Brinkley countered: “You don’t own me. I pay your salary. I work for the private sector and you work for the taxpayer.”

See, that’s democracy too. Stupid aggressive people run the risk of encountering smart aggressive people – people who know the difference between a king and a congressman.


You know how during his presidential elections, Barack Obama’s opponents are always calling him a professor? Because you wouldn’t want an intellectual, a smart, non-representative, non-Don-Young sort of person running America? Another Alaskan, Sarah Palin, called Obama “professor” repeatedly. Remember what Michael Kinsley wrote at the time?

If an intellectual snob is someone who secretly thinks he’s smarter than the average Joe, we’ve probably never had a president — even Harry Truman — who wasn’t one. It’s true, I think, that Obama hides it worse than most. But having a president who thinks he’s smart, and shows it, is a small price to pay for having a president who really is smart. Or would people really rather have a stupid president?

Alaskans have every right to be represented a man so stupid that he has become a national laughingstock. That’s representative democracy at its best. This country’s proud anti-intellectual tradition was famously articulated by Senator Roman Hruska in defense of Nixon’s nomination of Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court:

When Senator Hruska addressed the Senate in March 1970, speaking on Judge Carswell’s behalf, he asked why mediocrity should be a disqualification for high office.

“Even if he were mediocre,” Mr. Hruska declared, “there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”

If Alaskans have dipped significantly below mediocrity in Don Young, that is entirely up to them. But whether it’s Young, or perennial presidential hopeful Donald Trump, the rest of us have an equal right, like Brinkley, to laugh at these buffoons. (And yes, I know Trump went to good schools. I said a good education “might” help you.)


Update: Wow. Telling people to shut up turns out to be Young’s whole thing!

Gloria Poullard approached Young to ask him about a profane speech he gave last week at Wasilla High School, in which the congressman offended students by arguing that suicide was caused by a lack of support from friends and family.

“You know, it really put a hamper on my faith in you because my elders voted for you, and this is my state, I’m an Alaska native,” Poullard said to Young, according to video of the exchange from local TV station KTUU. “How do you feel within yourself, what possessed you to even make a comment like that? My nephew just committed suicide.”

Young shushed her and shook her hand, to which Poullard responded “You don’t tell me to shush.”

You just be quiet.



But UD – an extremely proud American – notes with delight that in both of these encounters the tinpot dictator’s efforts to shut up a world which disagrees with him elicited a fast firm fuck you. Brinkley, Poullard: Yes.

Remembering. And keeping an eye on gender apartheid at British universities.

Towards the end of 2012, [in response to] the growing practice of gender segregation at public events in universities, Universities UK (UUK), the governing body of British universities, issued guidance which permitted gender segregation of women in university spaces in order to accommodate the religious beliefs of external speakers. The guidance presented in the form of a case study purported to provide advice in contexts in which the right to manifest religion clashes with gender equality.

Far from addressing the question of sex discrimination, the guidance merely legitimised gender apartheid. It took a campaign and threats of legal action by [Southall Black Sisters] before the UUK agreed to withdraw the guidance. We argued that the UUK’s guidance violated the equality and non-discrimination principles enshrined in the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act and other equalities and human rights legislation, themselves the product of long and hard campaigning by feminists, racial minorities and other marginalised groups in society. The withdrawal of the UUK guidance was followed by a formal investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission which found the guidelines to be unlawful…

This blog will continue to keep an eye on attempts at gender segregation at universities.

Libretti, égalité…

The law is the law. More important than that, however, is the spontaneous refusal on the part of citizens of a democratic republic to behave as though it’s business as usual when the values of the republic are flouted.

When you wear the niqab in France, it’s no longer go on with the show.

Exciting News in Airline Codesharing!

Subject to government approval, EL AL plans to place its “LY” code on select JetBlue-operated flights to/from New York (JFK/Newark), expanding options throughout the United States for EL AL customers.

LY stands for Loathesome You, and refers to female El Al passengers, all of whom, on taking their seats, will be subject to the revulsion of the orthodox Jewish men on board, who will insist on being seated away from female loathesomeness.

Welcome to Jet Blue, ladies! Relax, take a seat, and then watch while the men on the plane treat you like a just-excreted piece of shit.


You know what to do. Boycott Jet Blue.

It might be a famous statement, but UD hadn’t run across it.

Robert Maynard Hutchins, founder of the University of Chicago, … famously said: “The present primacy of public relations in the management of universities, the view that they must ingratiate themselves with the public, and in particular with the most wealthy and influential portions of it, the doctrine that a university may properly frame its policies in order to get money and that it may properly teach or study whatever it can get financed — these notions are ruinous to a university in any rational conception of it.”

She found it in a solid presentation of the Steven Salaita debacle at the University of Illinois.

“If no agreement is reached, the Coastal Commission would acquire all or a part of Khosla’s property by eminent domain to ensure access.”

Well, China has Hong Kong… I guess this is what social unrest looks like in postmodern America

UD will admit she’d enjoy seeing a vast street demonstration made up of No Beach Access billionaires…

China Cracks the Whip!

[Recently, more] than 100 faculty members at the [University of Chicago] called for the [China-run] Confucius Institute at the [university] to be discontinued.

The institute had too much influence in determining “what’s worth teaching, what’s worth researching” and “what counts as knowledge,” Bruce Lincoln, a professor of the history of religions at the university’s Divinity School and an organizer of the petition, told The Chicago Maroon, the college newspaper, in early May.

A news article in a Chinese daily praised the swift and strong disciplining of the rebellious U of C by Xu Lin, the apparatchik who runs the institutes.

“Many people have felt Xu Lin’s toughness,” The Jiefang Daily wrote admiringly, citing a letter it said Ms. Xu wrote to the University of Chicago’s president in response to the petition.

“In just one sentence she said, ‘Should your college decide to withdraw, I’ll agree,’” the article said. In Chinese, that sentence carries connotations of a challenge. It continued: “Her attitude made the other side anxious. The school quickly responded that it will continue to properly manage the Confucius Institute.”

Uh, right away, party leader!

… But no. On reflection, the University of Chicago decided it didn’t want to attend the party at all.

Join the crowd.

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