“That a pair of career criminals would drive hundreds of miles to assassinate a law professor who just happens to be involved in a dispute with the employers of the gunman’s girlfriend? What random happenstance!”

The Dan Markel case gets more farcical by the minute.

Auto-Eroticism in…

Minneapolis.

Update, Dan Markel Murder

Interviews with inmates who spent time with Sigfredo Garcia in the Leon County Jail may corroborate what one of his co-defendants and investigators have said all along about the death of [Florida State University law professor] Dan Markel — that Garcia was allegedly recruited by the law professor’s in-laws in a murder for hire plot.

As the likely truth of what happened emerges more and more clearly, one is shocked again at the insanity and viciousness of the crime. Massacred for wanting to share custody of your children.

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 parents’ 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.

Meine Herren!

Michelle Herren used to be on the University of Colorado faculty, but the school seems to have decided to let her go.

UD kinda understands why, because Herren called Michelle Obama a ‘monkey-face’ and put it all over the web. Then when the university dumped her and also I guess when she started getting some… unfriendly feedback, she

… explained that her comments were taken out of context. [Also] she claimed that she had no knowledge that the phrase “monkey face” was an offensive term.

UD has explained endlessly on this blog how this happens so often at university medical schools. Universities have immense numbers of people vaguely affiliated with their medical faculties, and these people are rarely vetted in the ways other professors are vetted. They just show up with a white coat and start teaching. When you take many people on and do very little vetting, you can expect a few morons to slip through.

UD used to be lectured, on a regular basis, at academic conferences…

… on the absurdity and evil of Richard Rorty, one of her heroes (along with Albert Camus, George Orwell, Christopher Lasch, Iris Murdoch, and Christopher Hitchens). He was simple-minded, non-transgressive, jingoistic, a stick in the mud. Dull, naive, like his pragmatist hero, John Dewey.

You should read way-transgressive Slavoj Zizek, Margaret, and get out of the Rorty rut.

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

Slavoj Zizek has announced that he would, if he were an American citizen, vote for Donald Trump.

Like the West Coast Straussians who come at the problem from the right, Zizek’s so disgusted by what he imagines “liberal democracy” to be, he wants someone – anyone – to fuck it up but good.

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

Rorty? In his naive chauvinistic way, Rorty spent his career defending liberal democracy as the best thing we’ve got and utterly worth defending with all our heart.

Here he defends it against — Zizek.

Zizek starts off from a Lacanian account of desire and says that ‘The problem with this liberal dream is that the split between the public and the private never comes about without a certain remainder’ and that ‘the very domain of the public law is “smeared” by an obscure dimension of “private” enjoyment.’ He goes on to ‘locate in a precise manner the flaw of Rorty’s “liberal utopia”: It presupposes the possibility of a universal social law not smudged by a “pathological” stain of enjoyment, i.e. delivered from the superego dimension.’

I do not see that political liberalism need presuppose anything of the sort. I imagine that ressentiment, as well as the mild form of sadism which is intrinsic to Kantian notions of obligation, will go on forever – or at least as long as there are judges, police, etc. But I should think the question is whether anybody has any better ideas for a legal and political system than the liberal, constitutional, social democratic one. I can find nothing in Freud, Lacan, Zizek, Derrida [and others on the radical left] which persuades me that anybody does.

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

Rorty’s enjoying quite the posthumous vindication. Post-Trump, his name is everywhere. He is widely seen as having anticipated and analyzed more clearly and compellingly than most the rise of Trumpian conditions in the United States. In particular, people are citing these three paragraphs:

[M]embers of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. …

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past 40 years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

Jennifer Senior, in the New York Times, rightly notes that, like Lasch, Rorty looked with dread upon the emergence of a “cosmopolitan upper class which has no …sense of community with any workers anywhere,” but lives instead in an exceedingly pleasant, totally insulated, white-noisy bubble.

This group included intellectuals, by the way, who, [Rorty] wrote, are “ourselves quite well insulated, at least in the short run, from the effects of globalization.”

No current group of academics embodies this truth better than those law professors who continue to enjoy high salaries, low course loads, and assorted perks despite so deep a crisis in their profession that astonishingly few people are applying to law school. Critics like Brian Tamanaha and Paul Campos have had a field day with these professors.

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

In the book of Rorty’s everyone’s talking about lately – Achieving Our Country (1998) – he makes his critique of what he calls ‘spectatorial’ radicals in the academy more explicit:

When one of today’s academic leftists says that some topic has been ‘inadequately theorized,’ you can be pretty certain that he or she is going to drag in either philosophy of language, or Lacanian psychoanalysis, or some neo-Marxist version of economic determinism. Theorists of the Left think that dissolving political agents into plays of differential subjectivity, or political initiatives into pursuits of Lacan’s impossible object of desire, helps to subvert the established order. Such subversion, they say, is accomplished by ‘problematizing familiar concepts.’

Recent attempts to subvert social institutions by problematizing concepts have produced a few very good books. They have also produced many thousands of books which represent scholastic philosophizing at its worst. The authors of these purportedly ‘subversive’ books honestly believe that they are serving human liberty. But it is almost impossible to clamber back down from their books to a level of abstraction on which one might discuss the merits of a law, a treaty, a candidate, or a political strategy. Even though what these authors ‘theorize’ is often something very concrete and near at hand – a current TV show, a media celebrity, a recent scandal – they offer the most abstract and barren explanations imaginable.

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

Dissolve enough agency and you end up marooned on Slavojnia: the most abstract and barren island imaginable.

Beyond the Fringe

As Oberlin College finally rids itself of a really florid Jewish-conspiracy devotee on its faculty, as we deal with yet another (there have been several in the last few years) serious embarrassment to a respectable institution — is there actually much of use to be said about this?

A racist conspiracy theory powered the political career of our president-elect. These things are apparently mainstream and can get you places. If some professors at our universities believe Jews brought down the World Trade Center and the New Town massacre was a federal government simulation meant to undermine gun rights, so what? For forty-two years a professor at Northwestern who seems to be a Nazi-symp has been (in the words of NU’s president) a “reprehensible… contemptible… embarrassment” to the place, and assuming the guy is hardy enough to continue teaching past his current eighty-three years of age, NU will continue being embarrassed for some time.

No doubt people with sociopathic and inane beliefs and belief systems crawl the woodwork of plenty of universities. Most are with-it enough to figure out that they should keep their views – at least in their most overt forms – out of their classrooms; but social media and other forms of publication betray them, for eventually some student or colleague is going to discover the place where they park their deepest, most delirious, convictions. Then the press, which is under the impression that professors have something to do with rational and responsible teaching/scholarship (no one cares if the dude bottling vitamins next to you in the vitamin factory writes Facebook postings blaming the Waco biker shoot-out on Muslims), will talk it up, and in seconds a university’s got one hell of a bimbo eruption on its hands.

But what is to be done? How can we avoid it? How should we think about it?

Well, as to the selection and cultivation of faculty on the fringe… Look to your recruitment committees, o ye sinners, and repent. Everyone knows that America has universities that pass all the way to the PhD people whose views move them from the provocative subversive margins (see Trump supporter S. Zizek) to flat-out beyond the pale, and it’s not that hard for hiring groups to check these people out. I mean, they’re not shy about putting what they think about the CIA, the Zionist conspiracy, and black presidents out there. Just take a look. Decide how important it is for your students to understand the links among the Trilateral Commission, Prince Edward’s abdication, and fluoridation.

As to how we should think about it – well, UD can offer this. People do not like evidence. They really do not like evidence. Americans have just elected an evidence-execrator. More than a few American colleges and universities teach their students that the earth is six thousand years old. Anything goes, and, as Don DeLillo points out in his hilarious novel White Noise, the more sources of information Americans enjoy, the stupider and more credulous they become. Why should one person with a vicious racist conspiracy get to be president, while another person with a vicious anti-semitic conspiracy have to lose her job? Just because, as one of her colleagues correctly points out, her arguments about the world lack evidence?

[Y]ou don’t generally hear such things being espoused by scholars with PhDs. That is because such unsubstantiated, unfalsifiable, speculative hypotheses are not only overwhelmingly wrong, but are also the opposite of research.

But nobody much cares about substantiation – including, on occasion, PhD and hiring committees. In fact a lot of people, inside and outside of universities, have a strong preference for big ol’ crazyass bullshit.

What’s remarkable about Nullity Schools (as UD calls them)…

… [background here] is that even their professors are drunk obnoxious football fans.

Not all of the professors, of course! But this sort of story, about a University of Arkansas professor arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct at the school’s last football game, is less rare than you’d think, ‘specially down south and all.

Other schools wring their hands over the indifference of most faculty to the most important thing about their campus – their football team – but UA’s Hogs have no such worry. Football’s pretty much the only game in town at this Nullity School, and professors excitedly – over excitedly – fall into line, as – allegedly – did Professor L.Nalley, who teaches his students not only about the sweet potato, but about how to conduct yourself in the stadium when the Hogs are getting roasted.

Shortly after No. 16 Arkansas’s 49-30 loss to No. 1 Alabama was official Saturday night, a fan decided to make his displeasure with head coach Bret Bielema known — allegedly opting for shouting the simple and direct, “If I had your record, I’d be fucking fired. Fuck you.”

He’s out of jail and awaiting his UA punishment.

What do you think?

Professor of the Year?

*********
UD thanks Dave.

Ave Atque Pinsky

UD will miss Drew Pinsky, the tv pharmawhore who during the course of hawking Wellbutrin announced that women on that antidepressant shouldn’t be surprised to rumble their way through sixty orgasms in a row.

But there’s coming, and there’s going. Pinsky has just been removed from the airways for sharing his terrible anxiety about Hillary Clinton’s rampant brain disease.

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

Yet – to quote Tennyson – though much is taken, much abides. Whenever UD feels herself dropping below her current average (55), she can still visit Pinsky, for a little topping up, at the University of Southern California medical school, which knows an eminent diagnostician when it sees one.

Leaving for New Post: Chief Advisor, Women’s Issues, Trump Administration

Ken Starr to Leave Baylor Law School Post

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

This latest news allows me to update Trump administration appointments/personnel:

Chief Advisor, Women’s Issues: KENNETH STARR
Inaugural Poet: FREDERICK SEIDEL
Treasury: MARTIN SHKRELI
Fitness Czar: RYAN LOCHTE
Czarina: HOPE SOLO
Office of Ethics: ISHMAEL ZAMORA
Health and Welfare: MIKE LEACH

PrecariCorps is an Organization that Helps Adjuncts …

PrecariCorpsIDonated

… with “Hardship Relief and Grants
for Faculty Development
funds.”

A worthy place to donate, thinks UD.

Hoyle’s Phallus

Professor Hoyle, late of the University of Canberra, seems to have liked to rape his students. His alleged M.O. was to call them into his office and tell them they were in big trouble for downloading porn and/or plagiarizing, but they could make that all go away if they fucked him.

UD was interviewed yesterday…

… by a reporter from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Subject: Mental health problems among university professors. Of course she’ll link you to whatever article arises from it.

Elitist Snob, Loser, So-Called “Professor,” Just…

jealous of Donald Trump’s success.

“[T]he norm in such cases is for the attacker to be male, for the attacks to happen on campus, and for the source of the students’ anger to go well beyond a grade (although that may be a spark).”

In the aftermath of the UCLA shooting, Scott Jaschik reviews what we know about the origins and characteristics of such events. Which isn’t much. Fields like engineering, math, and biology do seem to produce most of the attacks, but nursing professors and comp lit professors have also in recent years been murdered by disgruntled students.

I think that “spark” idea gets us somewhere. My own review of these attacks conjures, pretty consistently, a paranoid loser smoldering with rage.

Et alors? All professors who teach long enough encounter students whose behavior unsettles them. Maybe frightens them. (Professors lucky enough to teach on gun-friendly campuses get to worry that these unbalanced individuals may be packing heat.) Behind the vague word assessment lies the hard reality that most of us will never actually report a student, that we expect university settings to be about intensity and struggle and not giving up on people. Several of these killings came after a perpetual grad student was finally dropped from a program. University settings tolerate the sort of bizarre behavior that corporations would boot out the door in minutes.

For what it’s worth – killers in university settings (I’m thinking of professors who kill professors too, like the notorious Amy Bishop) aren’t just paranoid, from what I can tell. They are often strikingly grandiose, arrogant people. They kill those who refuse to acknowledge their superiority. They are solving a problem: They are ridding the world of people whose existence threatens their god-like self-perception. Professors who give middling or failing grades to shaky people who consider themselves transcendent geniuses would be at risk.

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

The gunman has been identified.

[William] Klug was an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and had been the target of [Mainak] Sarkar’s anger on social media for months. On March 10, Sarkar called the professor a “very sick person” who should not be trusted.

“William Klug, UCLA professor is not the kind of person when you think of a professor. He is a very sick person. I urge every new student coming to UCLA to stay away from this guy,” Sarkar wrote. “He made me really sick. Your enemy is my enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm. Be careful about whom you trust.”

A source called the gunman’s accusations “absolutely untrue.”

“The idea that somebody took his ideas is absolutely psychotic,” the source said.

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

… Sarkar has been studying for his PhD since 2006 with no graduating date, two years longer than any of the other researchers.

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

The killer had a list of targets and killed one of them – a woman who lived in his Minnesota town – before driving to LA and killing Krug.

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

The woman was his ex-wife.

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories