‘The Russian World Cup has been troubled by politics from the start, when the country was awarded the tournament by FIFA in a 2010 vote wildly believed to have been tainted by corruption.’

Giggle, giggle, goes Scathing Online Schoolmarm.


Make that laugh out loud.

Talk about Freudian slips getting by reporters and their editors.

In an article stating the obvious – Moscow under the imminent World Cup regime will be both the world’s strictest police state and the world’s violent epicenter – the LA Times writer can’t help but let slip the even more obvious point that Russian corruption, in this and every other sphere, is not only widely, but wildly, credited.

Annals of New Pretentious Terms

From a full-page print ad in today’s New York Times for 108 Leonard, a new apartment building.

108 Leonard features distinctive 1 to 4 bedroom residences and over 20,000 square feet of amenities including a 75-foot pool and rooftop gardens, as well as motor reception with private parking.

UD thinks motor reception is what we used to call valet parking; but maybe for the cost of your apartment (“Priced from $1,535,000 to over $20 million.”) you get a catered reception.

When Googled, the term “motor reception” shows up only in the context of speech and hearing studies (“the learner’s motor reception… the latent sequential imitation that analyses the articulatory-phonetic sequencing…”).

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Solves a Writing Conundrum.

George Washington University’s law school should have bragging rights on this one. One of its graduates has been chosen to handle a lawsuit against the highest-profile person in the world. It’s already a very high-profile suit, and will almost certainly become even more high-profile.

So: GWU press release on its way!


But there’s the question of how to word it.


That’s a bit… sensationalistic. Let’s see…


First, go with her birth name. Use formal titles. Tone down other elements.


Ah. That’s better. Scathing Online Schoolmarm gave her a middle initial because it sounds more respectable, and because it creates an equivalence between her and Donald J.


The GW law grad is a master of the mixed metaphor. SOS has rarely seen such a strong one.

“[A] Supreme Court Justice once said that ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ And we fully intend on bringing as much sunlight to this matter as possible. Let the chips fall where they may.”


Yes! Utah State University Maintains the Campus-Hero’s Page of Football Player…

Torrey Green, who graduated with a top-ranked 7.0 sexual assault average, and on whom the school looks back with pride. No better time for the school to celebrate Green than now, when he’s on trial for “12 felonies — including kidnapping and rape — in seven cases, after seven women came forward saying he sexually assaulted them while he was a student in Logan between 2013 and 2015.”

Of course, they came forward years ago, but USU didn’t do anything. USU puts its resources into maintaining Torrey Green’s hero-page.


USU’s finest is facing so many charges that his lawyer, in an act of editing-for-concision that Scathing Online Schoolmarm finds commendable, asks that all the cases “be merged to avoid ‘redundancy.'”

It’s so tiresomely repetitive, the details of one (yawn) rape case after another… You’ve heard one rape case you’ve heard ’em all…

This way we’ll save time and keep the jury awake…


And after all, I mean… entre nous… it’s Utah, where a man can lose track of his sister wives… I’m sure it’ll be easy to convince a local judge that Green’s large blur of womenfolk can be herded into one trial.

“Did you miss that lecture on diplomacy? I hope I don’t need to explain to someone as gifted and as smart as you that you could have made your point … without mentioning any [particular] department … [Y]our remarks … cause[d] collateral damage on [Public Administration], in a very public way. They are up in arms, and I don’t blame them… Would you consider an apology to your colleagues in PA?… I highly recommend it and would appreciate it.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm loves that genre of academic writing which is the outraged high-ranking campus sports-whore attacking legitimate professors and students at uber-jock universities. Before SOS talks about the email from an Auburn University dean that appears in my headline, she wants to share with you an earlier example of this classic clown-school missive.

In 2013, a women’s lacrosse coach at the infamous University of Louisville was informed that one of her players had been seen exercising her personal freedom by wearing a Michigan State sweatshirt. The coach left the following voice mail for the player:

Darby, change your clothes, don’t bother coming to practice today. Do you know that I just got a phone call about you wearing a Michigan State shirt? You obviously have no idea how serious athletics is at the University of Louisville. I do not want to see your face today until after practice, but your butt better be up in my office with a Louisville shirt on your chest when practice ends.

Schools like Auburn and Louisville are like this: They got nowhere else to go. They got nothin’ else. Nor, being game-cults, do they appreciate Winston Smiths who fail to conform to the cult. These schools got brain bashin’ ball or they got nothin’. They’re not about to go down without a fight when alien invaders like the New York Times expose their intellectual nothingness; they’re not going to let some random woman athlete introduce changes to their uniform; and they’re certainly not going to let some dissenting legitimate scholar get off scot-free. Me big macho school, on field and off!! GRRRRRRRR don’t make me mad….



Auburn got so pissed at the econ professor on the faculty who kept complaining about its massive bogus course system – centered on the keep ’em eligible public administration major – that its president

took the highly unusual step of suggesting that the entire economics department be moved elsewhere.

In a memo written on presidential letterhead, [Jay] Gogue recommended that [Michael] Stern be assigned a new supervisor and that the department “no longer be a part of the College of Liberal Arts.”

It’s just what I’ve been predicting, mes petites, and Auburn will clearly be the first school to actually do it: The football cult’s economics department, with its expert financial review of the athletic program and its commitment to academics, must go. Exile. Banishment. Siberia.

And not only that – see again the email that I quote in my headline, from Auburn Dean Joseph Aistrup to the dissenting econ prof. Belitting; threats; a demand for recantation. The whole Orwellian number.

Indeed here is the model for the econ prof’s next step: Room 101, followed by I ask only for you to accept my love of Our Leader.


[One Auburn professor] put a picture of Aistrup arm in arm with… the athletics director, on his office door, alongside photos of Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong-un.


SOS thanks a reader for sending her Jack Stripling’s CHE piece.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm has been rather dormant lately, but…

… when she sees scathe-worthy writing, she rises to the occasion.

Here’s the SEC commissioner trying to get Mississippi university leaders riled up against the overwhelming passage, in that state’s House, of legislation clearly paving the way for conceal carry folk to bring their guns to football games. He intervened in the very same way when Arkansas tried to get guns in the hands of football fans; now he’s sticking his nose in the business of the good people of Mississippi. Here’s what he wrote to the chancellor of the University of Mississippi.

Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases meaningful safety concerns and is expected to negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics programs at your universities in several ways… If HB1083 is adopted to permit weapons in college sports venues, it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi’s universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively impacted.

Yes, SOS hears you. ‘SEC Commissioner’ describes a position of dignity and gravitas. The SEC Commissioner is not in a position to say

I’m shitting bricks thinking about your wasted frat boys whipping out their AR-15s and blowing everyone away.

But he could still have done a better job of writing to the chancellor. Let’s consider how he could have issued his warning more eloquently.

There’s a stiff bureaucratic feel to the whole thing, isn’t there? And given that he wants above all to convey a sense of urgency, dead language of this sort does the opposite. Notice that he begins all bass-ackward, backing up to his point rather than stating it right out.

Given the intense atmosphere…

No. Start right off with guns. Guns make football games more dangerous, and they’re already somewhat dangerous. In other words, the whole intense atmosphere thing begs for clarification.

I mean, having for a long time read coaches and fans talk about university football games, UD would have thought ‘intensity’ in their regard referred simply to wholesome fellowship and partisan fun! No? Ok, then don’t leave me hanging: Is there something else intense going on at football games?


Well, think about it, UD. Look around an SEC stadium during a game. Did you ever see so many police? Why do you think they’re there?


But of course the commissioner doesn’t want to specify the nature of pre-addition-of-weaponry football game intensity, because there’s a large athletics industry supporting him and his family, and that’s nothing to fuck with.

So, along the same lines, he goes for the unbearably ugly negatively impact to try to delicately gingerly ever so lightly skip around …

Skip around what? Good writing is more direct than this. You’d have to be insane to add guns to crowds of drunk agitated immature males.

And now for the windup, which of course features a second use of negatively impact. Finds it so nice he uses it twice.

… it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi’s universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively impacted.

I wonder why football players, specially in the south, might not be happy to play in front of tens of thousands of Mississippi university students with big ol’ guns at the ready??? Hm. Hm. That’s a real poser.

But anyway… Let’s redo this final clause, shall we?

Pads and helmets can only do so much. Bad enough you’re concussing your head. You’re also putting yourself out there in a huge open shooting gallery with armed angry drunk southern males. Ditto for sitting-duck game officials. People get real angry at officials. In the pre-technological world of high school sports, you have to get up, run onto the field, and beat officials to death with your own fists. With guns, it’s a piece of cake.

Georgia will not hesitate to tell recruits trying to decide where to play that they definitely could get their asses blown off in Mississippi. As for your fan base: Though the lads’ aim might be wobbly from a few hundred feet, they’re for sure not going to miss the nice broad back of the guy two rows ahead who just called them a motherfucker. So your attendance numbers aren’t going to be enhanced. Unless you add all the new fans who are there to shoot off their guns.


Yes, yes, SOS knows that she has slipped into the sort of language incommensurate with the moral stature of an SEC commissioner. Sorry.

New Year Greetings from Scathing Online Schoolmarm, who reminds you…

… that great writing is mysterious and rare and always worth revisiting.

This is Jan Morris, fifty years ago, describing La Paz at night.

The scene is shadowy and cluttered, and you cannot always make out the detail as you push through the crowd; but the impression it leaves is one of ceaseless, tireless energy, a blur of strange faces and sinewy limbs, a haze of ill-understood intentions, a laugh from a small Mongol in dungarees, a sudden stink from an open drain, a cavalcade of tilted bowlers in the candlelight — and above it all, so clear, so close that you confuse the galaxies with the street lamps, the wide blue bowl of the Bolivian sky and the brilliant cloudless stars of the south.

‘When more than a dozen women stepped forward and accused Leon Wieseltier of a serial and decades-long pattern of workplace sexual harassment, he said, “I will not waste this reckoning.” It was textbook Wieseltier: the insincere promise and the perfectly chosen word.’

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Caitlin Flanagan is quite right that insincerity and the perfectly chosen word can take you places for a long, long time. A man can found a career in letters on it. And then he can continue using that approach when his career bites the big one.

Elie Wiesel would have said I will not waste this reckoning if he’d been alive to respond to this. It has a way-dignified biblical-lamentation cadence which SOS would recommend for any Great Man found to have nibbled a tit.

I will not waste this reckoning, announced George Bush The Elder.

I will not waste this reckoning, insisted Bill Clinton.

I will not waste this weckoning, said Elmer Fudd.

It’s been awhile since Scathing Online Schoolmarm did a real scathe.

But this missive – on the eve of Wear Red to Support the University of Louisville day – seems to ask for it. So let’s go.

It’s written by a local journalist/UL booster, in light of that school’s final burial under the weight of its massively corrupt leadership over many years. It argues that the way to respond to an institution that has thoroughly disgraced itself, and because of that disgrace marches smartly toward bankruptcy, unaccreditation, and the death penalty, is with ever more fervent support. Let us see how it tries to make this rather counterintuitive case.

If You Stop Supporting the University of Louisville, You’ll Hurt Us All

is the headline, a species of appeal reminiscent of Every Time You Masturbate, God Kills a Kitten. Sure, sure, stop supporting UL, and watch the entire city of Louisville die.

It may sound counterintuitive, but now is the time for University of Louisville fans and alumni to rally around their athletic teams, their academic programs, the students and faculty.

The future of the school and the city depends on it.

The cancer is gone. Cut out Wednesday morning in about 10 minutes worth of meetings during which interim President Greg Postel essentially fired basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Well, yes, he’s right that it sounds counterintuitive, so give him points for realizing that what he’s about to write is the essence of the uphill battle. But given that UL is (indulge us) primarily an academic institution, and that depraved indifference to that fact destroyed it, the writer ought to have rearranged his list of three to feature UL’s students.

Not even the faculty deserves a primary place on this list, because the bizarrely passive and silent UL faculty bears its share of the blame for this outcome. Most universities under threat produce people like Jay Smith; most not under threat have always at the ready people like John Banzhaf; most are capable of generating not just gadflies and op/ed writers, but coalitions of the concerned who produce petitions and protests, etc. Maybe I missed it, but UL’s professors just sat there. They deserve condemnation, not support.

The writer should have removed athletics from his list altogether. Several larcenous administrations also did a lot of damage to the school, to be sure; but you don’t get to spend decades bellowing your support for criminally insane seven million dollar coaches as they and their assistant coaches slash the school’s jugular, and then just turn around and go on bellowing for their replacements. Which brings SOS to her next point:

The cancer is gone. Cut out Wednesday morning in about 10 minutes …

Here’s where we know the writer is not only an emotional blackmailer, but a bit of a con man. We’re cured! Lord, I can walk again! Praise the lord! Turns out it was just a matter of scalpeling that pesky bit of cancer around the locker room …

Fraid not. You don’t get to declare the game over and start a new one. Remember South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions? The University of Louisville needs something like that.

But after embarrassment after embarrassment in the basketball program — including this involvement in what appears to be the biggest basketball scandal since the 1950s point-shaving affairs — why should you support the university?

Simply because you should.

These aren’t embarrassments. They’re crimes, and as accessory to decades of crimes, UL needs to pull back and shut down a bit and do some thinking. It’s far too soon to rally the troops, especially if the troops are only about athletics.

Failure of the KFC Yum Center — which is a very real possibility if folks stop attending Louisville basketball games — hurts us all. Everyone.

The comical, trashy name of that arena is indeed an embarrassment, and it speaks volumes about the corporate lowering UL – a university – has been pleased to undergo. And I’m afraid it ain’t much of an argument to point out that since the UL decided it was smart to assume a $700 million debt to get its finger lickin’ yummy thing built, it’s now our responsibility to sit there watching bribed players and criminal coaches running around a court.

The rest of it’s just funny, like one of those Rodney Dangerfield routines in which he lists his many misfortunes.

Members of the past administration had looted the university’s fundraising arm of millions of dollars in payouts for themselves and their friends.

The governor’s ham-handed attempt to reorganize the school’s board of trustees left its accreditation in jeopardy.

The basketball program was already headed for probation because it was paying for hookers for teenage recruits.

But here’s the good news.

SOS asks: At this point, who’s hanging around for the good news? There isn’t any good news – it’s all bad, and UL is going to have to take the fall it has abundantly rigged up for itself. The only advice SOS has for UL right now does indeed have to do with its students. Attend another institution.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Talks About How To Write When You’ve Got a GREAT News Story.

SOS isn’t saying that these Tampa Bay Times writers did a perfect job exploiting the terrific material here; but they definitely did a creditable one. Let’s look.

The headline is rather long-winded and informational. No attempt to be witty or punny yet, which is fine. Ease us into it.

The Rev. Henry Lyons Forced Out as Pastor of Tampa Church Amid Accusations of Theft, Misconduct

Nowhere does the headline hint at the comic riches to come. But the first sentence does.

The second coming of the Rev. Henry J. Lyons was not as celebrated or lucrative as his previous life.

The once way-disgraced Rev. was, on his release from prison, immediately picked up by another church. This is the “second coming” to which the writers refer. Nice godly pun. Signals from the word go that the story we’re about to hear is not tragic. It’s not tragicomic. It’s comic.

The one-time leader of the largest black Baptist organization in America — toppled by infidelities and imprisoned on fraud charges — has kept a relatively low profile while running a century-old church in Hillsborough County the last dozen years.

Lyons no longer has the ear of the President of the United States, and his empire does not include the same luxuries as during his heyday in St. Petersburg in the 1990s.

What a falling-off is here. Rich, sexually fulfilled, president-whisperer; and then had to go to jail for “fraud, extortion, money laundering, conspiracy and tax evasion.” It was quite the story in the late ‘nineties. You probably remember it – UD does… No? This will jog your memory:

Lyons flew first class, hired a personal chef, and bought multiple homes. He showered female friends with gifts and drove luxury cars.

And it all came crashing down because of a domestic dispute.

His third wife Deborah discovered Lyons had purchased a house with another woman, and she attempted to burn down the $700,000 home in Tierra Verde.


He’s been quietly running a smaller church since his release…

Yet the final, uncomfortable hours of Lyons’ reign at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church have a disturbingly, familiar echo.

Church leaders have accused the 75-year-old Lyons of misappropriating funds for his personal benefit, and voted Thursday evening to remove him as pastor, ending what had once looked like a story of personal redemption.

No idea why they put a comma after disturbingly. If they’d written disturbing the comma would have been fine.

The writers don’t say Only idiots would put their church in the hands of so relentless, so thoroughgoing, a crook. They don’t say Like a hedge fund that hires Bernie Madoff on his way out of jail, New Salem thought hell – why not. They don’t have to. C’est entendu.

Any writer would envy these Tampa Bay guys. Not only is this a boffo plot; all the actors in it agreed to be interviewed. Extensively. The reporters start with the idiots.

“Call us ignorant, I guess,” said Ray Melendez, the chairman of New Salem’s board of trustees. “If anything, we were flattered that he said the Lord told him to come to New Salem. That he wanted to be the shepherd of our flock. We forgave him because he served his time. We thought he had went through his rehab, but apparently he was just the same old Dr. Henry J. Lyons.”

So, to be clear, the church is accusing Lyons of theft?

“Yes sir,” Melendez said.

SOS is sure the Lord told Henry to hightail it over to New Salem; for its part, the board of trustees should have listened for the Lord telling them that they should give Henry the job.

The writers neither correct nor condescendingly (sic) Ray’s grammar (“thought he had went through”), which is the right call.

Hm, let’s see. What’s next. Long article.


Willie and Henry Lyons said they have not had time to research the list of allegations handed to them at the Thursday meeting, but said most of them appear to involve grant money from five to seven years ago.

They suggested any apparent improprieties were either easily explainable or inadvertent mistakes.

They have not yet contacted an attorney, but Lyons said he was inclined to dispute his termination.

“I really would rather fight, to be honest with you,” Lyons said. “I’ve had a great tenure at this church. It’s just been overwhelmingly good with blessings, and things going well and looking well.”

… “I don’t think I’m doing mail fraud. I’m only mailing to the people in the organization. And my organization is growing every year, praise God for that,” Lyons said. “I stood up the other night at a meeting and said, “Look, y’all need to tell me what in the world is mail fraud.’ I don’t really understand the monster but y’all keep on saying, “Pastor, you’re doing mail fraud.’ Tell me what it is.”

Takes more than five years in prison on fraud charges to know what fraud is.

The relationship with Lyons began to turn ugly, church officials say, when he and his wife refused to let the Atlanta firm examine the finances for the [church] day care [run by Lyons’ wife].

Lyons said church officials asked him to resign twice in recent months and he refused. A third meeting, Lyons said, almost turned violent.

Lord, Lord.

Willie Lyons returned to the church Friday morning to tend to the handful of children in day care but a pair of church members told her the business needed to be shut down immediately.

She was inside the church with two officials when a Tampa Bay Times photographer heard a woman shouting, “This is all lies, this is all lies. You all need to be saved.”

Willie Lyons later told the Times that she refused to leave, and church officials called the Temple Terrace Police Department to have her removed from the property.

You all need to be saved. Lots of good stuff here. Willie’s like Elena I brought you up like a mother Ceausescu.


A story like this one writes itself. You mainly stand aside and let everyone talk. Fill in Henry’s history. Drop in the odd bon mot. And that’s just what our guys have done.

“A diver in Bali, Indonesia, encountered the rare animal pacing the seafloor at night.”

Did SOS simply read this sentence too early in the morning, or do we have a problem here?

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: Yes, We’re All Excited about Penn State’s Next Chapter…

… but as a writer you want to remain calm and control your prose as you discuss the upcoming HBO movie. This prose has too much figurative language all over the place, creating the chaos of mixed metaphors. SOS has helpfully italicized the problem areas:

Make no mistake: there’s plenty of material to be mined for the HBO drama. The firestorm that ensued following the 2011 arrest of Sandusky nearly tore the Penn State community in half and caused a flurry of controversy in all areas of public conversation. Resurrecting these events and examining the tense subject matter through the lens of famed director Barry Levinson and the prowess of Pacino will be mighty fascinating.

This prose literally runs hot and cold, as we venture from a firestorm that neatly cuts a community in half to a snowy flurry. Mining and resurrections are thrown in for good measure, leaving the reader all of a mucksweat (to quote Bella Cohen).

Another funny sentence.

Markle further infuses color into her space with books, which are stacked in neat color-coordinated piles, each topped with a succulent.

‘After trapeze artist-turned-poodle trainer Gerard Soules was stabbed to death in a Las Vegas trailer park in 1992, prosecutors charged his onetime fling, Fred Steese, with murder.’

SOS says: Good opening sentence.

The problem with getting on your high horse when you’re in the gutter.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm sees it all the time: When people find their beloved institution – with which they strongly identify themselves – in the swill, they defend it by turning on their grandest, haughtiest, most auspicious, rhetoric. Our Glorious Penn State is a Bright and Shining Light! We must do battle with the barbarians who distort the record of our heroic coaches! That sort of thing.

The problem is that this approach makes you look like Blanche DuBois defending her virtue and rhapsodizing about Belle Reve.

Grand and glorious Baylor University has fallen on hard times. It sold its soul to football victory at any cost (just like Penn State) and is currently, er, reaping the whirlwind. There’s a new gang rape allegation almost every week. What to do? What to say?

Well, this is what people are saying. Many people are saying that Baylor is a solid candidate for the death penalty. Some say the regents should resign. Some say Baylor should be kicked out of its conference. Some say withhold federal funds. Here’s a typical comment:

Shelving the football program for a few years would send a needed message in college athletics that enabling criminal behavior for the sake of maintaining a program’s national ranking and economic power won’t be tolerated.

And then there’s C. Stephen Evans, a Baylor professor who grandly implores people in and around Baylor to shut up.

I implore those continually criticizing Baylor in a public way to cease and desist. You are doing serious damage to Baylor’s reputation and demoralizing those of us who work to make Baylor a great place for students. Perhaps those of you who are not on campus every day do not realize how dispiriting it is to read such diatribes in the daily paper several times a week.

The reason this sort of writing makes you a laughingstock is that now everyone knows precisely how great a place Baylor has been for students.

[A] student-athlete told her coach that five football players had raped her at an off-campus party. The coach then took a list of names to [football coach Art] Briles, who said, “Those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?”

Baylor’s the kind of place where students need to know before they get there that there are bad dudes on the football team and that it is the student’s responsibility to stay out of their way. There’s Belle Reve, and there’s reality. That’s the Baylor reality.

Critics of Baylor’s criminal disregard of its students are not doing damage to Baylor’s reputation. The regents, the president, the people with power at Baylor who paid Art Briles six million dollars a year to protect very dangerous people who could catch footballs did the damage.

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