Guilty-as-Hell Professor Robert Ferrante Had a Real Uphill Battle …

… as he attempted to show a jury that he didn’t kill his wife, also a University of Pittsburgh professor. He had to overcome the fact that he used his university credit card to order cyanide shortly before she died of cyanide poisoning, and that he “did online searches on cyanide poisoning and how it might be removed by the medical treatments Klein received [as doctors were attempting to save her life] or detected by a coroner after her death.”

Jurors, who briskly found him guilty of first degree murder (mandatory life sentence), “also said Ferrante’s decision to testify may have been a mistake.”

Yes well, you could argue no one would be better on the stand than a murderer who really really didn’t want to go to jail for the rest of his life… Or you could argue it the other way… That you really shouldn’t put the person who murdered the victim on the stand because he’s liable to betray a smidgeon of involvement in the event… Or if not that, he’s liable to betray the not very nice personality that a person capable of standing by while his wife is “groaning, moaning and gasping for air” (due to the cyanide he just put in her drink) is likely to have.

“It is the fifth lawsuit filed over the incident.”

After the student’s initial lawsuit against the university, Ludlow also sued Northwestern for what he alleged was its “flawed” handling of the investigation. He also sued several media outlets over the reporting of the student’s initial suit. The student later filed suit against Ludlow alleging violation of the state’s Illinois Gender Violence Act.

Really beginning to pile up.

Background here.

“And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny camera in my hand…”

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only I and I can see you
When I say softly slowly

Bring her closer tiny camera
Count the ladies in the mikvah
Name their names in sheets of linen
I had a busy day today

The Warwick English Blues

Almost Hear You Sigh

I can almost hear you sigh
I can feel your nego vibes
Yeah Professor Pain-in-Ass
Gotta speak sarcastic sass

I wanna live without you
Want my old life to go on
I’m feeling sorry for myself
Can’t wait til you are gone

You acted all ironic
Your body was sardonic
You had a cold look in your eyes

I can almost hear you sigh
I can hear your ironeye*
I wanna live without you
Wanna make you go away
Gonna keep you from the students
With your naughty naughty ways


* irony (obs.)

Keene State Professors: More in Sorrow than in Anger

Yes, of course you ask the question as you watch Keene State University students yet again burn down their town and call out all the riot police in a hundred mile radius: Where are the professors? Don’t professors teach there? Haven’t they noticed the decades of rioting that have made the name Keene State detested all over New Hampshire? (“Freshman Heather M. Fougere said she walked into Cumberland Farms on Main Street Sunday wearing a Keene State College sweatshirt. While there, an elderly couple glared at her, then looked away, she said. She kept her head down, she said.” Incoming! Freshman orientation at Keene State will soon include recommended evasive maneuvers when the local terrified populace bites back. Keep your head down! Lose the sweatshirt!)

So where are they, the people charged with educating Keene State’s students, the people who set academic policy, etc., etc.?

Well. You know. Keeping their heads down. Teaching in a charming New England town is a great gig, and you wouldn’t want to mess that up (the way Craig Brandon did) by complaining about anything, or putting any pressure on the kiddies. Use as your model the faculty at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – if you see something academically or behaviorally, uh, non-standard, keep your trap shut. For twenty years.

One reporter did manage to find a couple of professors willing to talk. Let’s see what they said.

First, the whole thing is the media’s fault.

[A Keene State professor] attributed student behavior to cultural signals and the media, which faculty and administrators have little to no control over.

The same guy makes another salient point. All American universities burn down their host cities and towns.

“I don’t think there’s anything specific about Keene that makes it especially vulnerable to these kinds of events. These kinds of events — campus riots, student riots, alcohol-driven student riots — have become increasingly common across campuses.”

Nothing to see here! And anyway – when a certain behavior is common – let’s say for instance rioting – the only response is no response. I mean, it’s so common…

But the main faculty response, says the president of the faculty union, is the sniffles.

“I think generally faculty are saddened by the whole thing,” [Peter] Stevenson said.

“[Rabbi Barry] Freundel was also a professor at Towson and he often led students on field trips to the synagogue. Students say he often offered them the opportunity to take the sacred bath.”

The ribald rabbi with the radio also taught at UD‘s school, George Washington University. UD wonders if he invited any of our students to take a dip. Or, as he reportedly put it, “a LONG dip.”

Yet another sad obvious murder case…

… involving a professor killing his wife gets going this week. As in other such cases – Professor Zinkhan, Professor Robb - you’ve got a husband pissed with his wife because he thinks she’s unfaithful, or because she wants a divorce, or because he wants child custody and doesn’t want to pay alimony and just because, you know, he wants her out of the picture altogether as in dead.

There was never any mystery as to who fatally shot/beat the unfortunate women married to Zinkhan and Robb, and this latest case is even more obvious than those cases.

University of Pittsburgh professor Robert Ferrante ordered cyanide a couple of days before his wife died of cyanide poisoning. Then, “someone used Ferrante’s computer days after [Autumn Marie] Klein died to learn whether treatments she received after falling ill would have removed poison from her system.” No shit. Wonder who.

Ferrante’s a real sweetie.

[Klein] wanted a second child and exchanged text messages [with her husband] about how the energy supplement creatine could help them conceive hours before police say Ferrante laced it with cyanide, according to a police complaint.

“Will it stimulate egg production too?” Klein said in one text.

Court documents say Ferrante responded with a smiling emoticon.

Here are the major players in the trial, including a lead prosecutor who last Friday got beaten up in a domestic violence incident. You can’t make this shit up.

“Jonathan Reiner @JReinerMD · Mar 22 Most disgusting tweet of the day @washingtonpost: The price of bacon is increasing because of a pig diarrhea epidemic”

UD‘s George Washington University colleague Jonathan Reiner has a lively Twitter page, featuring, most recently, his claim that the CDC’s protective equipment rules for the prevention of infection by Ebola are inadequate.

Pesky Ventilation System Always Breaks Down Near Naked Women

One of UD‘s erstwhile colleagues (he was a visiting lecturer at George Washington University) gets down and dirty with his building’s ventilation system.



A highlight of the menu at the Char Bar kosher restaurant in Washington is the items named for some of its more prominent Orthodox clientele. One is the Freundel. Its namesake, Rabbi Barry Freundel of Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown, was arrested Tuesday by D.C. Metro police and charged with voyeurism.

But owner Sima Soumekhian says he isn’t pulling the Freundel sandwich from his menu.

“At this point everybody is entitled to due process,” Soumekhian said Wednesday.

The Freundel features grilled pastrami and smoked turkey, with Chipotle sauce on a rustic bun.

Jean Tirole, tamer of corporations…

… wins the economics Nobel.

Here’s the man himself, giving a lecture in English.

(Tirole looks a bit like the young Marlon Brando as Napoleon.)

(So far, biographical information is mainly available in French, and I’m not finding anything quirky, I’m afraid.

Né à Troyes, d’un père médecin et d’une mère enseignante en lettres, Jean Tirole se dirige d’abord vers les mathématiques, intègre l’Ecole Polytechnique, et découvre l’économie sur le tard, à 21 ans.

Eventually we’ll find out something of interest to people who read novels. Something more exciting than his having discovered economics at the strikingly advanced age of 21. But not yet.)

Here’s a good discussion of his work, with plenty of links. (Scathing Online Schoolmarm forgives Tyler Cowen for not knowing where to put semi-colons; he’s too excited.)

Shaping up to be a good year for the French. They also got the literature award.

Here’s some of what Tirole says in the lecture I just linked to.

Voting is a very crazy thing because we are never going to affect the outcome of an election. It’s a zero-benefit activity… We engage in pro-social behavior without any apparent benefit to ourselves… If you are paid to give blood, you give blood less often… It’s very hard to explain such so-called crowding-out effects… These are examples in which price is not very effective as an incentive device…

Do we do these things because we’re being watched? Because we’re trying to up our self-esteem? Social esteem?

You want to feel good about yourself. So if you give, you’re going to feel better about yourself.

But this can’t explain the phenomenon very well.

Generosity is a very very complex concept…



‘[C]hew-toys for halfwits.’

Derek Lowe is talking about conspiracies, and the fun people like Delaware State University professor Cyril Broderick have with them. Broderick

has written an article for a newspaper in Monrovia telling Liberians that the Ebola virus is a manufactured bioweapon from the pharmaceutical companies and the US Department of Defense. And he goes on to say the the WHO, Doctors Without Borders, and the CDC are all in on the plot. Isn’t that nice?

This in a region where suspicions run so high that doctors, officials, and aid workers are being killed by angry mobs already. Now Prof. Broderick has given his Liberian countrymen more reason to fear some of the people who are best equipped, of anyone on this suffering world, to actually help them.

“During the late night office hour session, he told the student he had sex with students in his office before, showing her how he would cover up the webcam and windows, according to the official student complaint.”

The techno-paranoid part of this (covering up the webcam) is postmodern; but the metanarrative hasn’t shifted in ages: Professors exchange A’s for sex and/or professors threaten F’s for no sex…

This particular case of purported sexual harassment, at the University of Delaware, seems to have been handled way quickly and quietly, with the professor (apparently nailed by his own emails – he thought to throw a cloth over the camera but not to avoid communications full of incriminating statements) scooting asap…

Yet now it’s not quiet at all on the University of Delaware campus. Now there are rallies with hundreds of students and faculty protesting what they see as the university’s lack of transparency on sexual harassment.

As the David Pitts Story Burns Out of Control…

… it’s worth asking a question often posed when a professor dangerously implodes: Why didn’t anyone who knew or worked with him say or do anything? Did someone do something? If so, why was Pitts running a high-profile program at American University up to the moment of his arrest?

As in this sad recent case at Yale, the culminating implosion in the Pitts case was indeed a culmination, and it’s hard to believe no one at AU was remotely aware that Pitts might be a danger to himself and others. (Yale had put Samuel See on unpaid leave.) As his pyromania and drug theft spree around the Washington region (he is now being investigated for the fires at the Marriott Hotel during the APSA convention, which he attended) comes to an end with his arrest, and as interviewed AU students say the obvious (they’re scared that this man was until a few days ago teaching at their school), attention inevitably turns toward American University and its policies.

It is of course possible that Pitts was able to hide from everyone on campus what looks to have been a massive drug addiction and a perilously deteriorating mental state; but assuming some people noted disturbing behavior in him, the question is: What ought they to have done? UD is fully aware that when it comes to possibly unhinged people around you – especially people in positions of authority – your response typically has everything to do with denial and with vaguely hoping that someone else will say or do something.

The most frightening recent campus case of this syndrome involved Professor Amy Bishop, the mass murderer at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Quite a few people there report having been seriously creeped out by this woman (she turned out to have another murder, plus an attempted bombing, in her past), but no one seems to have tried to have her put on leave or whatever. They did indeed deny her tenure, but she decided to kill as many colleagues as she could before leaving.


David Pitts has been busy, in the last few days, in UD‘s neighborhoods, trying to burn down buildings full of people. If suspicions are correct, he began with a hotel building housing a large number of his fellow political scientists from all over the world. He then seems to have moved to a shopping mall steps from AU’s campus. One assumes he would eventually have gotten around to torching AU itself.

Well, we’ve dealt with faculty breakdowns on this blog before…

… and this certainly looks like another one – just down the street from UD.

The chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University has been arrested for breaking into a shopping mall and setting a fire there.

David Pitts was apparently found with “matches, lighters, gloves, a newspaper and black liquid substance. Plus, there was evidence of a small fire still visible.”



WHOA. Read some of his recent tweets.

This one in particular: August 29, from the Marriott Hotel, where all the people there for the annual American Political Science Association convention had to evacuate because of a fire.


More details of Pitts’ arrest here.


Could there be a link between the fire at the Washington Marriott that Pitts reports on via tweets – Pitts reports from the scene and seems to have attended the convention- and this more recent local fire?

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