GO, AARON!

The University of Florida’s finest.

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‘killer calendar, bro’

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Sing it with me. (The number of arrests cited in the song is too low. Here’s an update. Hard to keep up.)

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Deadspin has the best comment stream so far.

Frederick Sanger: Thirty Years a Gardener

After wrapping up his last experiment on the day that he was supposed to retire, Sanger did not again work in the lab and spent the rest of his life gardening.

“We waited on the fire-step from four to nine o’clock…

… with fixed bayonets, for the order to go over. My mind was a blank, except for the recurrence of S’nice S’mince S’pie, S’nice S’mince S’pie… I don’t like ham, lamb, or jam, and I don’t like roley-poley…

The men laughed at my singing. The acting C.S.M. said: “It’s murder, sir.”

‘Of course it’s murder, you bloody fool,’ I agreed. ‘But there’s nothing else for it, is there?’ It was still raining. But when I sees a s’nice s’mince s’pie, I asks for a helping twice…'”

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For Veterans’ Day, an excerpt from Goodbye to All That, the World War I memoir by Robert Graves.

“The couple traveled the globe together to work on humanitarian causes.”

A beautiful life massacred. In two weeks their first child would have been born.

Elif Yavuz, 33, was born in Turkey, raised in the Netherlands, and educated here in the United States, at Harvard. Her partner was from Tasmania but like her a totally global citizen.

As an HSPH doctoral student [in the Department of Global Health and Population], Elif completed her dissertation research on malaria in eastern Africa,” [Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio] Frenk wrote. “[She] had lived and worked abroad for many years, both in Africa and in Asia. She was currently working with the Applied Analytics Team at the Clinton Health Access Initiative [a global organization based in Boston] and preparing her thesis for publication.”

Poet, Professor, Activist…

Kofi Awoonor was killed in the terrorist attack in Kenya.

AWKward.

University of Richmond luminary and all-around first-rate researcher, teacher, and human being Rick Mayes has proposed that the university end its football program.

What? What? Are you fucking kidding me?

Well, you know, this sort of thing will happen when you choose a reflective, principled person to be your faculty athletics representative. That and that alone is where UR went wrong. The faculty athletics representative is supposed to be an old jock desperate for free game tickets and occasional face time with the players. Rick Mayes is all wrong for faculty athletics representative.

Gory details, from his recent email to faculty:

I have come to the conclusion that it’s hard-to-impossible to consistently make DI-level sports conform and submit to the primary institutional focus on academics, because there’s just too much money and ambition involved… [A]fter three years of watching and studying sports up close, I believe UR’s long-term academic interests lie with D3-level sports and football being phased out over time due to legal, liability, and safety reasons. [Given the likelihood of concussion lawsuits,] this big-team sport and significant financial commitment could conceivably become extinct within the next two to three decades. Might it not be desirable to get out ahead of that potential outcome for the sake of our student athletes’ health and our institution’s financial long-term interests, not to mention our consciences?

Consciences the guy is talking about! And jeez – Watch his Last Lecture! He’s all about Dietrich Bonhoffer and shit! Who appointed this character??

Still – don’t sweat it. UR’s prez and athletic director and everybody else has come down on Mayes like a ton of offensive linemen. Of course we’re keepin’ football! Are you kidding me? Pay no attention to the man behind the conscience.

The Ballad of Brigham Brig

This too I know–and wise it were
If each could know the same–
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!
___
The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity’s machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed and cries to Time.
___
But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one’s heart by night.

With midnight always in one’s heart,
And twilight in one’s cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

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Who knows if this brave prisoner’s plea will meet with justice?

I fear not!

In the midst of horror…

… eloquence, from UD‘s Montgomery County neighbor.

‘So what, then, is driving Simonsohn? His fraud-busting has an almost existential flavor. “I couldn’t tolerate knowing something was fake and not doing something about it,” he told me. “Everything loses meaning. What’s the point of writing a paper, fighting very hard to get it published, going to conferences?”’

Uri Simonsohn fails to get the postmodern simulacrum memo.

Recipe for Fraud

Why is science fraud such a problem in China?

It is the result of interactions between totalitarianism, the lack of freedom of speech, press and academic research, extreme capitalism that tries to commercialise everything including science and education, traditional culture, the lack of scientific spirit, the culture of saving face and so on. It’s also because there is not a credible official channel to report, investigate and punish academic misconduct. The cheaters don’t have to worry they will someday be caught and punished.

Shi-min Fang, a high-profile fighter against academic fraud in China, is interviewed. The cost of his struggle is high.

I have been sued more than 10 times. Because the Chinese legal system is very corrupt and a ruling is not always made according to the evidence, it is not surprising that I have lost some libel cases even though I did nothing wrong. In one of these, a local court at Wuhan ordered me to pay 40,000 yuan in compensation and transferred the money from my wife’s account. I have also narrowly escaped from an attack with pepper spray and a hammer.

As an English major at Whitman College, he “learned to appreciate subtlety and complexity….

… to discern the figure in the carpet. …It was invaluable training,” said Ryan Crocker in a recent interview at his college,” in how to think about complex foreign societies.”

But that Henry James short story, which Crocker “analyzed for my senior oral,” concludes with no figure found, its enigma intact.

We interpret stories; we tell stories. We chase down meanings and patterns and plots all our life -in some sense, this is our life – but we never solve the mystery, discern the figure. Tzvetan Todorov puts our rather brutally simple situation this way: “Narrative equals life, absence of narrative, death.”

Crocker’s storied, harrowing diplomatic career has ended, and, as some sort of result, he seems to have fallen apart, having been arrested for DUI and hit and run. Although named as dean of Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, he has not been much in that role. He left to take an ambassadorship, and, for next year, he’ll be a teaching fellow at Yale.

The life Crocker lived for decades pitched him forward from one byzantine, bloody narrative to another – an existence nightmarish, but engrossing and heroic. Now there’s the business of being an ordinary man with nightmares.

“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence.”

Today is George Orwell’s birthday.

“How eerie it is to me / To hear the first breath of Spring.”

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who has died after a long life of lieder, captures, especially in this song’s final verse, the pathos that for many of us accompanies days of the sort UD is currently enjoying –

Spring, with magic words,
breathing sweet pleasure…

Breathing sweet pleasure, yet

What makes the breeze so tangy and refreshing
comes from anguish.

Listen to this final verse:

Die Kelche sinken nieder,
Sie schauen erdenwärts:
O Mutter, nimm uns wieder,
Das Leben gibt nur Schmerz.

The flower-chalices wilt
and gaze toward earth:
O Mother, take us back:
life gives us only pain.

Listen to his voice just barely rise on sinken and schauen, carrying – just barely – wilting life. That soft slight turn up the scale. How eerie it is to me.

“No shackles, no to niqab.”

Tunisia’s Manouba University is a major site of resistance to Salafist activity in that country.

Students, faculty, and administration are fighting back strongly, and the government, after first remaining silent about the Salafists blocking classes there until women can attend in full veil, has now condemned them.

Coverage here from the university’s website (in French).

If Tunisia’s not careful, it’s going to start looking like Israel.

Largo Desolato

Vaclav Havel has died.

“His essays, lectures, and prison letters from the last quarter century are, taken altogether, among the most vivid, sustained, and searching explorations of the moral and political responsibility of the intellectual produced anywhere in Europe,” wrote Timothy Garton Ash, the foremost chronicler of revolutionary Central Europe, in his 1999 collection History of the Present. “Indeed, it is difficult to think of any figure in the contemporary world who has more cumulative authority to speak on this issue than Vaclav Havel.”

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[Havel] took from rock-influenced ’60s culture “a temperament, a nonconformist state of the spirit, an anti-establishment orientation, an aversion to philistines, and an interest in the wretched and humiliated…”

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Havel is a short and rumpled man, even in a sharp presidential suit. He’s a disaster at press conferences, wiggling his tube-socked feet under the table and making chewing sounds into the microphone before each response. He nearly died three times in the last eight years from various illnesses, and he reportedly headed to Portugal for a long cure soon after stepping down as president. He describes himself as perpetually nervous, afraid someone’s going to wake him from the dream and put him back in jail, where he probably belongs. He may have been the life of the party a time or two, but overall the impression he gives is that of an unspectacular man who probably would rather be drunk.

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Matt Welch, in reason, wrote an excellent 2003 essay about Havel from which the excerpts above are taken.

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“[We are] anchored in the earth and the universe,
the awareness that we are not here alone nor for ourselves alone, but that we are an integral part of higher, mysterious entities against whom it is not advisable to blaspheme. This forgotten awareness is encoded in all religions. All cultures anticipate it in various forms. It is one of the things that form the basis of man’s understanding of himself, of his place in the world, and ultimately of the world as such.

… This awareness endows us with the capacity for self-transcendence. Politicians at international forums may reiterate a thousand times that the basis of the new world order must be universal respects for human rights, but it will mean nothing as long as this imperative does not derive from the respect of the miracle of Being, the miracle of the universe, the miracle of nature, the miracle of our own existence. Only someone who submits to the authority of the universal order and of creation, who values the right to be a part of it and a participant in it, can genuinely value himself and his neighbors, and thus honor their rights as well.”

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