White Noise at Texas A&M

After white nationalist Richard Spencer did his thing at Texas A&M awhile back, the university changed its policies so that now all approved speakers need sponsorship by a campus organization.

An official campus spokesperson explains:

As one of the stewards for protecting and enhancing the brand, this is particularly troubling to me as the influx of these outside groups may connote to your viewers [she’s talking to CNN] an environment of acceptance by our campus when none are actually our students or faculty.

This is an official spokesperson. This is a person who gets a salary to talk like this.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Let’s scathe.

These words usher us into the depths of the deepest forest. To follow this sentence is to follow Hansel and Gretel as they stray farther and farther from any known world, into an enigmatic and malign witchery. It is to search hopelessly, desperately, for a referent, a subject, a predicate… to scratch your head and say steward for? Isn’t it steward of? When she uses the word “brand,” does she mean university? Does she mean reputation?

When you get to “this” (‘this is particularly troubling’), it is to ask What is this? To what does it refer?

And influx? I wasn’t worried about massive numbers of neonazis pouring into Texas A&M until I got to influx.

And why the constipated connote when she means express or signal?

By the time we’re into the completely nutty windup (‘an environment of acceptance by our campus when none are…’) we may be too addled to realize that the spokesperson’s final statement is overwhelmingly likely to be untrue. Surely some Texas A&M students – maybe even some faculty – have white nationalist sentiments. Did Spencer speak to an empty room? Were no members of his audience affiliated with the … brand?

Speak simply and directly, darlings.

UD thanks John.

“That Penelope Fillon drew an exorbitant salary for reading her husband’s speeches before saddling up for a morning canter [on one of the five horses stabled at their estate] will not go down well with an electorate being asked to make financial sacrifices.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm admires Robert Zaretsky’s prose.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm likes a good scathe…

… and there’s nothing more scatheable than the surrealistic boxing with shadows that occurs when a local team booster, distraught that no one attends his university’s football games, troubles deaf heaven with his cries. SOS is particularly fond of this form of the persuasive essay and is always delighted to find a new one. So let’s go!

HEADLINE: UNM Football Has Earned the Right to Expect More Filled Seats

The University of New Mexico sports program is your typical farce/horror, with years of scumminess and scandals to its name. Because of this history, and for all of the other reasons students and others are staying home or leaving the stands early, few people attend Lobos games. Even when they’ve got a winning record.

The New Mexico football program has pulled a 180 since hiring a new head coach five seasons ago. But despite putting a winning product on the field, attendance has inexplicably continued a downward trend.

See, that’s why he says in his headline that the team “has earned” butts in the seats; they’re winning games. They got them an incredibly expensive coach who’s doing what he was hired for!

But the little shits complain about the expense.

Several readers have expressed dissatisfaction this semester with the perceived high price tag of the football coach, questioning how someone in his position could justify such a high salary.

And you know what else? The writer doesn’t mention it, but given that most of them don’t attend games, they’re also pissed that their student activity fee is insanely high, meaning they’re paying the dude’s ridiculous salary.

Even though no school in the Mountain West had a better conference record, no team had worse attendance …

Inexplicable. How can this be? Don’t all our students live for a winning football team? Where the fuck are they?

Some might argue the reduced attendance is due to a struggling economy that leaves no additional money for entertainment, but that doesn’t appear true as other schools have no problem filling [their] stands.

Additionally, package deals were available at the beginning of the season — some offering tickets for less than $6 per person.

Less than six bucks! That seems a pretty compelling piece of evidence that you couldn’t pay most UNM students to go to the football games. What might be behind this?

New Mexico has tried to lure in fans this season by revamping its concessions, offering free fan giveaways and introducing alcohol sales. It even opened up the field to the public after the game in an effort to give fans a better game day experience, to no avail.

With no professional sports teams, it seems odd that Albuquerque and the metro area don’t turn out in better numbers, especially for a local product that many have a direct connection to.

Yeah. Well. The beauty of the booze solution is that it makes an already pretty gruesome social scene a good deal more gruesome. You might not know this, but a lot of people dislike being around loud belligerent drunks. People with children, in particular, seem to object. Universities try to deal with this problem by stationing tons of police everywhere (thus adding to the expense of the enterprise); but again, inexplicably, the more an event looks like an encounter with a police state, the less people want to attend it.

The fans that do show up deserve a lot of credit as they likely supported the team even when it was down, but it still seems like the team has earned the right to expect more. Is it too much to ask the community to show student-athletes who proudly represent the name on the front of their jerseys that it cares?

If so, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise when coaches start to jump ship to pursue vacancies in places where it is not.

Now it’s getting desperate. And, as I say, surreal. For what can be the point of this writing? Are we trying to guilt-trip people into having fun? (Or scare them: You might lose your million-dollar coach!) UD has read versions of this essay in which the writer instructs the local gentry that it’s their responsibility to attend football games. A civic duty, like voting. But voting is over in an instant; here’s the deal with football games.

Attending football games is boring. Plays take a matter of seconds, there’s an endless amount of time between plays when nothing happens, and the replays are limited. You can’t change the channel if the game’s lousy. The weather conditions are usually crappy, and the seating sucks unless you’re in a suite. You’re often clueless about injuries. I sit in a press box with replays and constant players updates and I get bored, so I can’t really blame students for staying home and watching on TV under greater/cheaper conditions.

To be sure, the boredom is occasionally broken by watching someone get severely concussed; but the drama is over in a second. Plus a lot of people don’t like watching young men get severely concussed.


Now SOS will let you in on the real reason a lot of students ignore your football team.

They are ashamed of the school. They don’t want to be seen publicly associating with it, and they’re certainly not going to cheer for it.


Well, you just type university new mexico in this blog’s search and engine and start reading.


And I just know you’re not interested in the one way you might actually be able to turn this around.

Try giving some money to the (get ready for it) academic side of your university.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm on the Six Hundred Dollar Afternoon Tea.


A Place Where People Happily Pay $600 for Afternoon Tea
New York’s most expensive tea service offers caviar and Champagne at the Baccarat hotel.


[SOS so far withholds comment. But she wonders how, even with caviar and champagne, a tea service could cost six hundred dollars.]


First Section:

Key Details: Focusing on caviar and champagne, Tsar Nicholas II is Baccarat hotel’s new, luxurious take on the classic afternoon tea.
Competitors: The Peninsula ($60–$72 for classic afternoon tea, $285–$395 for afternoon tea with caviar and champagne); Mandarin Oriental ($48 for classic afternoon tea); Ritz-Carlton Central Park ($56–$89 for classic afternoon tea)
Price: $400 paired with Lung Ching Imperial tea, or $600 paired with Krug Grande Cuvée NV 750ml
Why It’s Worth It: If you’re going out for Champagne and caviar — not afternoon tea — you’ll spend as much anywhere else. And the interiors at the Baccarat are like no other.


[The article appears in Bloomberg, a business publication, so maybe the author figures the busy Wall Street people scanning this piece will expect it to look like a consultant’s report, extracting key details up front for a person in a hurry. Quite the ethos of the tea ceremony, yes? I wanna take high tea, and make it snappy… Figure I’d like to spend say six hundred dollars for the forty minutes I’ve got available for this. Is it worth it? … Peninsula’s got the same deal for $60. So… $60/$600… But there’s that ‘like no other’ hotel interior… What did it cost me last time I sat down inside the Baccarat? Oh yeah, nothing. OTOH, that Nevada Cuvée sounds intriguing…]


Take the elevator to the second floor of the glitzy, year-old Baccarat hotel in Midtown Manhattan, and the doors will open in the Grand Salon, a bright and dazzling parlor with giant windows that overlook the Museum of Modern Art and Baccarat crystal dangling from every nook and cranny. Since the hotel’s opening, it’s been a place filled with women in fur coats and business meetings over $24 whiskey cocktails. Now it’s also home to the city’s most expensive afternoon tea service.


[I like the murdered Tsar theme, and women in fur coats is also good. In a better world, I’d have bragging rights once I did the most expensive tea in the city, but what hedge fund guy gives a shit about anything that only costs six hundred?]


At $600, the Baccarat’s Tsar Nicholas II menu is 10 to 20 times as expensive as those of most of its competitors. For comparison’s sake, you can spend just $30 to $70 and sip premium teas at the Peninsula, or nibble on dainty pastries from three-tiered trays at the Mandarin Oriental. The hotel is also outdoing its own self; it already offered two excellent tea services called the King Louis XV ($95) and the Prince of Whales ($110), both with artisanal-leaning offerings such as rose-scented madeleines and tomato-white cheddar brioche.

[Wow! Prince of Whales! That must be with caviar from the Beluga whale rather than the sturgeon. Far out. But shouldn’t that cost more than Tsar Nicholas?]

But as much as the Baccarat is playing in a crowded market—there’s an afternoon tea for every need, style, and mood in New York—it’s also reigniting a culinary tradition that can often feel neglected or worn. Its strategy? Make afternoon tea feel indulgent again.

[Yeah, those hundred dollar teas … You feel like you’re at a Walmart cafeteria…]

Whereas Baccarat’s other two services make for beautiful, light afternoon meals, the Tsar Nicholas II is primarily and unabashedly about two things: caviar and Champagne. And tea, if you’d like.

A third of that $600 price tag is allocated to Champagne. The service is meant to feed two, and comes with 750 milliliters of Krug Grande Cuvée NV. You can opt to skip the Champagne and stick to “just” tea for $400.

Another third of that price, roughly, goes to caviar: a generous 30 grams of Petrossian’s Tsar Imperial Ossetra, one of the higher grade caviar offerings from the brand. (The Petrossian shop a few blocks away sells this 30-gram tin of Tsar Imperial Ossetra for $170.) It comes with classic accoutrements of chives, egg yolks and whites, red onions, and crème fraîche, all presented on a tiered Baccarat crystal stand.

[Two hundred bucks for caviar that sells down the street for $170. But that doesn’t take into account the setting and service and crystal plus the whole thing of jamming 30 grams of caviar down your throat at one sitting… What? Are you gonna ask them to put it in a doggie bag? Fuhgeddaboudit! You are not asking for a doggie bag at the Baccarat!]

Pay attention to the warm blinis on the second tier. See that light, reddish tint? The blini batter is infused with Ruschka, a Mariage Frères tea blend with citrus and Silver Needle, a rare white tea made from only the top buds of the tea plant. The infusion is one of the many small touches that differentiate the service and make it memorable. Others include appropriately knowledgeable but not obtrusive servers and sharp attention to details — like not overfilling each tea cup and offering perfectly polished silverware and glassware. It’s the little things that make a big difference in an affair so delicate as afternoon tea.

[The people pouring your tea know how to do it so it doesn’t slop over the sides. Plus the cutlery’s clean.]

Aside from caviar and accoutrements, the Tsar Nicholas II comes with a few additional courses, including an amuse-bouche of pickled sable with fingerling potatoes, sweets of Stoli Kvass sorbet infused with rooibos, and a pair of bonbons filled with Earl Grey caramel. Notably absent are the traditional trappings of savories, scones, and sweets. In their place, however, are exemplary lavender shortbreads, which were flaky and delicate — so good in fact, that Baccarat should consider offering them as a standalone item on the menu.

[Yeah, me neither. Turns out to be a teeny bite-sized bit of food usually offered for free at a restaurant. Literally, a mouth-amuser.]

As for the tea itself? The suggested pairing for this service is Lung Ching Impérial, also by the acclaimed Parisian tea-maker Mariage Frères. It’s made up of prized green Dragon Well and Long Jing leaves from China’s Zhejiang province, signaling a sophisticated (and welcome) departure from the tried-and-true Japanese teas so popular in New York and beyond. These tea leaves are pan-roasted and flat-pressed, rather than balled-up or twisted into little tea pellets as most green teas are.

[I’d pay a lot to avoid the vulgar balling and pelleting you see in most green tea preparation… Flat-pressing is incredibly labor-intensive, as in this advertisement for tea:

Crafting this tea is done entirely by hand, pressing all the leaves flat over hours for each tiny three to four pound batch.]


Final paragraph:

Save for the Baccarat Blend, any of the dozen teas offered in the Grand Salon (including the Lung Ching Impérial) can be easily purchased online. So: Is Tsar Nicholas II worth it? If you approach the service not as a traditional afternoon tea service but as an over-the-top, multi-course caviar service, then the answer is yes. The Grand Salon is expansive and luxe, transporting and celebratory in its mood. You come for the food and service as much as the dazzling ambiance (which certainly factors into the price). But don’t expect an afternoon tea that will satisfy like a proper meal. Tsar Nicholas II is purely about pleasure.

[It’s worth it if you don’t want a proper meal, and if you think gorging on thirty grams of caviar is pleasurable.]

Scathing Online Schoolmarm LOVES Matt Taibbi, and Seldom Finds Anything to Scathe in His Writing.

[Great visual on this article, by the way.]

Keeping up with Trump revelations is exhausting. By late October, he’ll be caught whacking it outside a nunnery. There are not many places left for this thing to go that don’t involve kids or cannibalism. We wait, miserably, for the dong shot.


All 16 of the non-Trump entrants were dunces, religious zealots, wimps or tyrants, all equally out of touch with voters. Scott Walker was a lipless sadist who in centuries past would have worn a leather jerkin and thrown dogs off the castle walls for recreation. Marco Rubio was the young rake with debts. Jeb Bush was the last offering in a fast-diminishing hereditary line. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer.


Duped for a generation by a party that kowtowed to the wealthy while offering scraps to voters, then egged on to a doomed rebellion by a third-rate con man who wilted under pressure and was finally incinerated in a fireball of his own stupidity, people like this found themselves, in the end, represented by literally no one.

[Okay, fine, a little over the top. His images are all over the place. But worth it for “fireball of his own stupidity.”]


That was the highlight of the evening, unless you want to count Rudy Giuliani’s time onstage, with his eyes spinning and arms flailing like a man who’d come to a hospital lost-and-found in search of his medulla oblongata.


How Giuliani isn’t Trump’s running mate, no one will ever understand. Theirs is the most passionate television love story since Beavis and Butthead. Every time Trump says something nuts, Giuliani either co-signs it or outdoes him. They will probably spend the years after the election doing prostate-medicine commercials together.

[For her part, UD has predicted that, post-election, Trump (and Giuliani?) will head up America’s first Female Genital Mutilation citizens’ militia.]


10 a.m.: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

Shackled! Only in America can a man martyr himself on a cross of pussy.


Trump from the start had been playing a part, but his acting got worse and worse as time went on, until finally he couldn’t keep track: Was he supposed to be a genuine traitor to his class and the savior of the common man, or just be himself, i.e., a bellicose pervert with too much time on his hands?


Trump can’t win. Our national experiment can’t end because one aging narcissist got bored of sex and food. Not even America deserves that. But that doesn’t mean we come out ahead. We’re more divided than ever, sicker than ever, dumber than ever. And there’s no reason to think it won’t be worse the next time.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm talks about the “Refund My Money” Letter

Big-time Republican donors are beginning to write to Donald Trump demanding their money back.

UD wishes them luck. I mean, get in line behind the IRS…

But meanwhile SOS (UD‘s evil grammarian twin) looks at two such letters and makes some suggestions.


“… I am mortified to hear the latest issues with Donald Trump. [The latest issues is vague: Be precise: I was mortified to read that Donald Trump grabs pussy.] How am I suppose [Should be supposed.] to respect and support Mr Trump with his attitude toward women? It isn’t just one woman either. [Logic? You’ve already used the plural. And would it be better if he’s faithful to just one grabbed pussy?] I can not [Cannot.] support a sexist man. I have three young children and will not support a crude sexist man. [Ineffective repetition. Find another phrase for sexist man.] I expect a refund of my donation. [Watch your tone.] Please process immediately and I thank you for your help. [Tone is all over the place: anger, indignation, and now prissy bureaucratic cliche. Drop this last sentence.]


Here’s another one, and it’s much better. But there’s always room for improvement.


“I cannot express my disappointment enough regarding the recent events surrounding Mr. Trump. [Has the same vagueness problem: the latest issues; the recent events. Just spit it out: regarding Mr. Trump’s recorded comment about ‘grabbing pussy.’]

I fear that his campaign will assure a victory for Mrs. Clinton with disastrous consequences for our party and the country’s future.

As a father of two daughters preparing for marriage, [Slightly awkward, in that at first glance it reads as though the daughters are marrying each other.], I am repulsed [Repulsed is good.] by his comments regarding women. [Drop regarding women. The sentence is snappier without it, and in a very brief letter you’ve already used the word regarding.]

I regret coming to the Trump support event, and in particular allowing my son to be part of it. [This is good, especially the anxiety about introducing his son to the language-world known (in German) as küntgrablichkeit.]

I respectfully request that my money be refunded. [Better tone than the other letter, but in both cases you can kiss the cash goodbye.]

Redundancy is a serious problem – in writing and in speaking.

As we’ve been reminded by the ridicule Donald Trump has generated by his hectoring, mechanical repetition of phrases or words in his speech, redundancy makes you look both angry and empty of substance.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm would think that a school superintendent would understand this simple fact. What are you modeling for your students when you talk like Charlie Van Zant Jr., superintendent of Clay County Florida’s schools?

Under pressure for alleged plagiarism and fraud, Charlie recently told an interviewer the following:

[Liars] are trying to take me to task for my principles and values that they can’t stand… These liars are making accusations that are over a year old, that should have been reported to either the Florida Commission on Ethics or me as the superintendent of schools, as per school board policy. But these liars do not want an investigation. These liars want to play the media. These liars knew we would be out of town last weekend, and our staff would have a three-day weekend… The media is being played. They’re playing right into the hands of lying Mrs. Studdard [a school board member], the lying teachers union…

Superintendent Van Zant has certainly learned the word “liar” and some of its variants, and for that we applaud him. But SOS wonders if his efforts to paint his many enemies as, er, liars are really working here.

“Most Clinton conspiracy theories are meant to delegitimize her, to explain away her baffling, irksome persistence in public life as a product of a scarcely comprehensible homicidal ruthlessness.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Nicely put.

“Like myself, Donald Trump is a life-long New Yorker. Donald Trump lives, works, eats and employs people of all races and religions.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Typos matter.

‘As Donald Trump staggers following a series of self-inflicted political wounds, Republican candidates up and down the ballot are expressing growing disinterest in hitting the campaign trail with him this fall.’

Scathing Online Schoolmarm reminds you to learn the difference between lack of interest and disinterest. The incorrect use of disinterest in this opening sentence of a Politico piece has its authors saying the opposite of what they mean. Not a good way to start an article.

SOS realizes that some dictionaries use, as a second definition for disinterest, the state of not being interested in something. But really she would argue that the first and only meaning of disinterest is the condition of being neutral about something.

The constant misuse of disinterested for uninterested is breaking down a very useful distinction of meaning.

To be uninterested is to be lacking in any sense of engagement with the matter:
Sallie is uninterested in algebra.

To be disinterested is to lack bias:
Let the company call in a disinterested mediator to settle the dispute.

Republican candidates are not neutral in regard to campaigning with Trump; on the contrary, they are strikingly biased against campaigning with him. They are “expressing a growing lack of interest in hitting the campaign trail” with him. They are not cool calm collected and above it all in the way of, say, a disinterested judge; they’re actively sweating at the prospect of being even remotely identified with Trump. They are the very opposite, in other words, of disinterested parties.

“Then a part of Communist Yugoslavia, she grew up in apartment blocks overlooking a river and smoking factory chimneys.”

The Washington Post introduces us to our very… unusual next first lady, who once composed part of a communist state, and who (at least Mr UD read it this way) used to smoke factory chimneys.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says:

Extremely good writers can take what you know, re-charge it, and scare you.

“[T]he annals of insider trading are filled with people who knew better, from Ivan Boesky to Rajat Gupta. What’s perplexing is their motives. Like [Thomas] Davis, they were already rich and successful beyond most people’s dreams.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: There is much to be learned from the American school of writing SOS calls Rich White Treatment. You can bellyache all you want about income inequality and Two Americas and Listen Liberal, but until you’ve bothered to acquaint yourself with RWT writing, you’re not getting it.

RWT appears in our classiest, highest-profile, most influential journalism, as in this piece from the New York Times (Business Section) through which SOS will now scathe. As SOS does her thing, read the piece not as if you’re its intended audience – a few hundred rich white people, many of whom will read to the end only because they know Thomas Davis and in fact probably did some insidery trading with him themselves (the guy’s a nobody who did absolutely boring white bread dull as dishwater insider trading, so why would anyone read past the first paragraph except out of schadenfreude + anxious self-interest?). Don’t even read as a member of your social class … as a typical NYT reader…

No – try reading what SOS is about to quote and analyze as a common petty criminal, or as an ordinary struggling non-golf playing, non-bigtime gambling, non-private plane using, non-criminal living in Idaho. As you read, ask yourself why our nation’s paper of record is wasting ink on this guy, whose crimes, in a nation of insider traders, in a nation about to be presided over by a man with a court date for massive fraud, are totally undistinguished and unworthy of notice. Also ask yourself questions having to do with the writer’s point of view. From what point of view is this information being amassed and organized? What is the point of this article? What is the writer trying to accomplish?

The title of the piece announces its moral. The article will indeed be a morality tale.


Strap yourself in for The Great Gatsby. Prepare to appreciate the pathos of a man captured by a culture of status and ostentation.

The piece opens onto a blur of turfgrass.

At age 67, Thomas C. Davis should be enjoying all the perks of a long and distinguished career at the pinnacle of Wall Street and the Texas business elite. These include golfing at the prestigious Dallas Country Club and Preston Trail Golf Club, where he was a member; trips to Las Vegas and golf tournaments on the private jet he co-owned; and fractional ownership of two professional sports teams, the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars.

The blur of turfgrass never leaves this article; it’s sprayed all over like aromatherapy spritzer. There are charity golf tournaments (Davis stole the proceeds), “golf legend Lanny Wadkins,” golf legend Phil Mickelson, naughty sports gambler William Walters (“The two often played [golf] together, especially when they were both living in Southern California.”), and “wealthy friends and fellow golf club members.” (Poignantly, Walters himself was arrested at the Bali Hai Golf Club.)

But don’t let the blur occlude the bullshit that announces itself outright in this first paragraph, which stuffs itself full of words one associates with Winston Churchill (distinguished, elite, prestigious…) even though if you read the whole article it’s clear that Davis was always a measly garden variety crooked mid-level capitalist pig. The very first thing the writer tells us about Davis – his very distinguished very advanced age – means to make him an elder statesman brought tragically low by late-life seduction into a world of shiny appearances.

So next we get some paragraphs recounting his many disgusting crimes – not just theft from a charity and insider trading, but lying to the SEC and trying to destroy evidence and all kinds of other shit.

Some story elements are good from the point of view of a reader looking for vivid detail, but even they could be better in obvious ways. Here’s an example:

And after the F.B.I. agents left, he took a prepaid cellular phone he had used to leak the information and threw it into a creek near his Dallas home, destroying evidence and obstructing justice.

Yes… okay… but shouldn’t that have been a water trap?

After acknowledging that this guy’s crimes “have received relatively little attention” – without stating the reason for this (they don’t merit attention), the NYT writer now moves to the weighty question of Why. Why would a rich person seek greater riches? Hm. Hm.

He wasn’t really rich. He was “desperate for money.” He was a “distinguished” (there’s that adjective again: “the distinguished white-haired…”) desperado desperate for money. Why was he desperate for money?

Well, because he was essentially a career criminal who gradually (I’m sure his lawyers will argue it was his advanced distinguished age and its depredations) got sloppy. He was a greedy amoral motherfucker who over time lost the knack of being a successful greedy amoral motherfucker. Happens to the best of us. Only the New York Times business page would try to turn it into a national tragedy. Only a culture committed to criminalizing its undistinguished criminals and decriminalizing its distinguished would write articles like this. His Wall Street friends are “shocked” and “stunned” (an easily stunned lot, that) that this “pillar” (I am not making this up) would fall… Because after all until very recently he didn’t do things like owe

the I.R.S. $78,000. His brokerage account was heavily margined, and he had run up tens of thousands in credit card debt. He owed $550,000 to one of his investment funds.

Mr. Davis sought salvation in gambling…

Sought salvation. Sweet. And SOS is sure he never amassed credit card debt or owed stuff to an investment fund or had a big IRS bill or tried to gamble his way to God before the great fluted pillar he used to be crashed shockingly to the ground.

And now, as his morality tale wraps up, as darkness begin to shadow the turf, bad things happen fast and furious to this desperate man.

In just one month, March 2011, Mr. Davis ran up gambling losses of $200,000 at one Las Vegas casino. He owed $178,000 for the private jet. And he had to cover the $100,000 he had taken from the charity.

SOS is particularly fond of this line, appearing almost at the end of the tale.

The government has shed little light on Mr. Davis’s motive, other than that he needed money.

She loves the image of the NYT writer squinting with all his sympathetic might over the question WHY? WHY? He even asks the government!

And what does the government say? Fuck you! He wasn’t a distinguished anything! He was a greedy motherfucker who got caught.

It maketh SOS giggle.

Deep in the Heart of Waco

Baylor grad, Waco mayor, she’s – to paraphrase Freud – our royal road to to the Waco political unconscious. Let’s do an Online Schoolmarm scathe of her recent opinion column in the Waco Trib.

She begins with lengthy throat clearing:

To my friends and fellow citizens: Baylor University regents, former Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr, Baylor first lady Alice Starr, Coach and Mrs. Art Briles, Ian McCaw, Interim President David Garland, Baylor administration, faculty and students, Waco Mayors Kyle Deaver, Malcolm Duncan Jr. and Jim Bush, City Manager Dale Fisseler, city staff, council members, chambers of commerce, Waco churches, schools, parents, Tribune-Herald, KWBU, KWTX, KCEN and other media outlets, Waco Business League, Providence Health, Baylor Scott & White Health Hillcrest, Family Health Center, McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College leadership and students, Rapoport, Cooper and Waco foundations, Caritas and Mission Waco, to name only a few of Waco’s community: I write with you in mind:

It’s the rare op/ed writer self-important enough to speechify in this way before beginning her content (though we’re going to discover that this person has no content, so the throat-clearing makes sense). One envisions Harold Hill gathering the townspeople to tell them there’s trouble right here in River City. With the Baylor rapes and the breastaurant massacre, I think Waco already knows this.

The writer seems to share Hill’s confidence that when she pens a piece in the local rag everyone in town will be reading it.

(SOS finds “a few of Waco’s community” awkward. A few what?)

There is much that we don’t know or understand about Baylor University’s current situation. But we, informed or not, will grieve and face this time together.

Her second paragraph heralds the theme of her piece, if theme there be: Life is a Mystery. The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways. Ah Sweet Mystery of Life. Just no knowin’ sometimes. What’s the Use of Wonderin’.

And why grief? A lot of people round them parts are angry, which seems a more reasonable response to a piously religious school looking the other way when its students get raped.

Now there’s a long emotional paragraph reminding her fellow Wacoans of how they’ve laughed and cried together over the years.

Waco and Baylor have matured together. [Biker shootouts at breastaurants? The rape-friendliest school this side of the University of Montana? Maybe this counts as mature behavior in Texas.] We’ve cheered, won and lost together. We’ve prayed, sung, anguished over a horrific day in history, run races, raised funds, volunteered, built homes and voted. [Strange list, moving relentlessly from high crisis to charity work to the mundane.] We reared our children and relished in our grandchildren. [Reveled? I don’t think you relish in. You put relish in.] We stood by, helpless and mute, when the [Branch Davidian] Compound burned. We awkwardly welcomed world press and learned. We saw Baylor move from an accomplished but contentious presidency though a transition more difficult for Baylor than Waco, ultimately transitioned by beloved Interim President David Garland, then President Kenneth Winston Starr.

Sometimes bad writing is just about strangeness. Although nothing outrageously bad appears in this piece, there’s a general sense of weird vague wandering around whatever it is this person actually wants to say. Is her goal to cheer up demoralized Wacoans? Why should she want to do that? Given her self-importance, this comes across as patronizing, as if she’s designated herself Lady Sunshine… And why give us Ken Starr’s full name when no one uses that?

Having reviewed Waco’s many triumphs, the writer now says:

In recalling these victories, in no way do I condone systems that protect attackers and fail to protect women. Effective systems were and are imperative. Together we pray for all victims’ healing and strength to rebuild their lives. They’ll need friends and family, as well as effective medical and legal services.

Again patronizing. A short paragraph stuck at the end of the piece saying And girls now I just pray you’ll find closure… Make sure to get effective medical and legal services! And note that the piece has been personal to a fault throughout (actually naming her readers in that first paragraph) until it gets to the rape scandal, at which point it’s all about ‘systems.’

Here’s how she concludes:

• In absence of knowing, stand with Baylor in facing the future. It is and will always be Waco’s inextricably linked “Siamese twin.”

God grant us all wisdom, grace, mercy, courage and peace.

See what I mean about creepy? Not twin but Siamese twin, a phrase she puts in quotation marks, which leads SOS to believe that this is a well-known formulation ’round Waco. An unfortunate birth anomaly, one person unable to move without the other… Surgeons seem to think Siamese twins are worth going to great lengths to try to separate… This is the beautiful Waco/Baylor relationship.

And there’s the whole absence of knowing thing again, although we do know, which is why Baylor’s president, much of the athletics department, and much of the latest class of football recruits, has been fired or has fled.

Finally there’s the Great Amen, featuring another bizarre list — very long, with nice thoughts in it, and it could go on much much longer. Maybe it originally did. Maybe the Waco Trib’s editor deleted love, humility, tolerance, resolve…………

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Reminds You…

… that infelicities of style can have serious repercussions.

The father of a Stanford University swimmer just convicted of sexual assault has upset a lot of people by writing that his son having to register as a sex offender and go to jail for six months is “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”

Ahem. You and I know that he didn’t mean “action” in the xxx sense, in which people routinely talk about – for instance – girl on girl action. But that is where this man’s unheedful language has perhaps taken us, and it is, given the circumstances, a very unfortunate place indeed. Rather than get us thinking about a brief drunken hideous act in the context of an entire life, he has us picturing his son grinningly getting some action.

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