Missing Christopher Hitchens.

What would he have to say about the Trump Presidency, and the resurgence of European fascism? The dwindling twilight of the post-war European project? We can be sure that he would have served us up with something at once scathing and illuminating. Alas, just as the world began to need reminding of totalitarianism’s perils, its most eloquent resister since Orwell was taken from us.

This moving story is, for UD, about two things:

1. The importance of going to college.

[Derek Black] decided he wanted to study medieval European history, so he applied to New College of Florida, a top-ranked liberal arts school with a strong history program.

2. The importance of simple, unafraid compassion.

Matthew decided his best chance to affect Derek’s thinking was not to ignore him or confront him, but simply to include him.

UD and her friend/colleague/cowriter Jenny just exchanged the news about Bob Dylan in the English department hallway…

… and both admitted that they cried on the metro when they read he’d gotten the prize. Not sure why Jenny cried, but mine were classic Old Hippie tears, as much about my youth as about the greatness of Dylan.

First song to start whirling in my mind? For some reason, Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.

And Don DeLillo? Well, DeLillo’s novel Great Jones Street might have been titled Great Bob Dylan.


Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, author of “Trainspotting,” decried it as “an ill-conceived nostalgia award” made for “senile, gibbering hippies.”



The full quote’s great but has a little less to do with me:

… an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.

Might have been fairer if Welsh had said:

… an ill conceived nostalgia award dragged from the wrinkled dugs and wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.

Edward Albee, who wrote “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”…

… has died.


UD has spent decades quoting lines from “Who’s Afraid.”

Martha: You’re going to regret this.

George: Probably. I regret everything.


George: I didn’t make her throw up.

Martha: What, you think it was sexy back there? You think he made his own wife sick?

George: Well, you make me sick.


Ah hell. Just go here. They’ve got some great ones.


[It is] not valid for a critic to criticize a play for its matter rather than its manner — [doing that represents] a type of censorship. To give an extreme example, … if a man writes a brilliant enough play in praise of something that is universally loathed, … the play, if it is good and well enough written, should not be knocked down because of its approach to its subject. If the work of art is good enough, it must not be criticized for its theme… In the thirties a whole school of criticism bogged down intellectually in those agitprop, social-realistic days. A play had to be progressive. A number of plays by playwrights who were thought very highly of then — they were very bad playwrights — were highly praised because their themes were intellectually and politically proper. This intellectual morass is very dangerous, it seems to me. A form of censorship. You may dislike the intention enormously but your judgment of the artistic merit of the work must not be based on your view of what it’s about. The work of art must be judged by how well it succeeds in its intention.

Our Next President: An Abiding Concern for…

… the poor.

The Religious Wars of Waco…

… have all featured the camp followers and comfort women that typically accompany men in battle. The commanders of Waco’s Branch Davidians, in their protracted campaign against the government, prostituted the daughters of sect adherents. At the outset of pagan hostilities at Waco’s Twin Peaks, breastaurant women ran for their lives. Coeds at Baylor University knew to run just as fast when any of the men running the ball for the greater good of Baptism approached.

Davidian, Pagan, Baptist – whatever the divine cause, Waconan soldiers will make sexual use of women. It’s the Waco way.


Eh. It’s the world’s way. When the bellicose righteous fight their righteous cause…

[Dominique] Strauss-Kahn … told the court that group-sex sessions were rare “recreation” in his hectic schedule as IMF chief, taking place only four times a year because he had been very busy “saving the world from catastrophe” at the time of the US sub-prime crisis.

“I think this will become the ultimate human right of the 21st century, the right to die with dignity.”

Frank Kavanaugh, who used to teach at UD‘s university (he seems to have been the executive producer on The Saving of the President, which won four Emmys), was a right-to-die advocate who shot his wife and himself in her Florida nursing home room yesterday.

He should not have had to end it this way, but only a few states allow a dignified exit.

UD‘s home state, Maryland, might be moving in the right to die direction, but not for awhile.

Hey, this guy might’ve been a student of mine!

Dan Kane, a first-rate and persistent North Carolina journalist, broke and pursued and ultimately owned the University of North Carolina academic fraud story.

Given the loathing of sports factories for outsiders who disrupt the smooth production of football games, Kane “was subject to violent threats from UNC fans and a variety of multimedia smear campaigns.”

He wasn’t the only one, of course – all sorts of people who take academic integrity seriously got hit right in the kisser by everyone from the highest snoots in the administration to the lowest yahoos in the stands. But since everything that Kane and the whistle blowers were saying about the big ol’ UNC cheating machine was true, the school was forced to back up into p.r. mode and stop trying to disembowel all the mean people who were saying mean things about it.

Kane has now won (UD thanks her friend John for sending her the link) the McCulloch Courage in Journalism Award.

UD sees that Kane “grew up on a small dairy farm in Upstate New York” (Les UDs, regular readers know, have a small spread of their own upstate) and is “a graduate of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y.” UD taught for a couple of semesters at that school way back when (Mr UD had taken his first job, at the University of Rochester), and it’s not impossible that this guy might have been in one of her classes…


UPDATE: Dan Kane read my post and said he graduated from St. John Fisher in 1983 and “took enough English classes to qualify for a minor but I don’t remember having [Soltan] as a professor.” But I was Margaret Rapp then, so there’s still the teeniest possibility…

One of the heroes on the train is being described as a Sorbonne professor…

… so University Diaries gets to cover him… Here’s what she’s found so far – a biography Mark Moogalian provides on his home page. It doesn’t mention academia, but maybe he got an appointment after he made the home page. He’s an artist-of-all-trades:

Mark Moogalian was born in Durham, North Carolina, where he spent a good part of his youth along the banks of the Eno River. When his family moved to Virginia, the James River took the Eno’s place. He started playing guitar and was singer/songwriter/guitarist for Look Like Bamboo and Javaman, two bands he founded in Richmond, Virginia, during the late eighties and early nineties. He then travelled to Europe where he busked from London to Venice, taking in the culture and writing songs. The trip to Europe was a turning point in his life. Mark later moved to France where he worked as a translator and English teacher for business professionals. In France he continued to write, record and perform music and often played in a small club in Paris called Le Gerpil. He lived on a houseboat on the Seine, the third river in his life, where he took up welding and started making abstract metal sculpture. He met Isabelle Risacher in 2002 and they were married in 2003. Mark had his first sculpture and painting show at Galérie 43 in Paris in September, 2006. Mr. Farride is his first novel.

And here’s what he did:

Mark Moogalian, a 51-year-old professor at the Sorbonne, tackled Ayoub El-Khazzani during Friday’s bloody incident aboard an Amsterdam-Paris international service.

Mr Moogalian, who lives in Paris but is originally from Midlothian, Virginia, US, is the previously unnamed man who came to the aid of “Damien A”, 28, a French banker who confronted El-Khazzani.

The academic acted instinctively to protect his partner Isabella Risacher, who was also aboard the Thalys train.


Okay. He teaches Spoken English here, at The New Sorbonne University (Paris III).


Photos of Moogalian, before and after being shot in the neck.


Deferment veteran.

Women’s Liberation.


A woman casts off her burqa
as she escapes ISIS.

Details here.

—Love, says Bloom. I mean the opposite of hatred.

Ireland says yes.

The Zoning Board Responds Compassionately to …

… a hardship.

The Greene Revolution

The people of Iran had their Green Revolution, which sought to make their country more just; now America launches our own grassroots movement for change.

Property developer Jeff Greene’s impassioned plea last week at Davos is catalyzing a movement across the United States, an upswelling of ordinary people who ask: If Jeff can do it, why can’t we?

The challenge Jeff has set:

“America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,” Greene said in an interview today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We need to reinvent our whole system of life.”

Jeff, who keeps five supermansions and “flew his wife, children and two nannies on a private jet plane to Davos for the week,” joins the storied ranks of Benjamin Edelman, Vinod Khosla, Tom Perkins, Todd Henderson, Glenn Hubbard, Frederic Mishkin, Dick Fuld, and Mike “Helicopter” Bloomberg as yet another man of conscience for America, a role model whose invention of a whole new downsized system of life sets the standard for the rest of us.

Start here. Model your wedding on Greene’s 2007 ceremony:

[The couple were married] at their 27-acre Beverly Hills canyon estate. The Los Angeles skyline glimmered as the bride appeared in a gown of hand-beaded Swarovski crystals, and four swans glided alongside her in a reflecting pool as she made her way to the French limestone gazebo, where Mr. Greene waited for her, beaming.

The 275 guests were an eclectic mix, including the director Oliver Stone; Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner; and the boxer Mike Tyson, who served as best man. After midnight, the guests took to the revolving dance floor installed in the 24-car garage.

You might have trouble finding Sterling. He might be hiding out.


When I got to the scene there were cordons… People didn’t want to tell me he was dead… One of his security guards was killed because he didn’t have time to take out his gun because the terrorists had Kalashnikovs…

I didn’t want to leave; I didn’t want to leave his body…

He died standing. He defended secularism; he defended Voltaire’s spirit… He was executed with his comrades, as he would say; not companions, comrades…”

Jeannette Bougrab, professor of law; and companion, Charb.

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