If the people of Alachua County don’t think they deserve anything better than…

… a school superintendent whose self-published book has significant plagiarism, and includes sentences like “The flow of hot unpretentious lava with many fingers,” that’s their business.

Your Morning Giggle

In Romania, you can get out of prison if you write enough books. One book = 30 days reduction in sentence.

One businessman just got out after writing five books; one of his comrades in crime, also now released, wrote four books.

Dark rumors of a plagiaristic nature are beginning to surface, however…

‘Roberts said he disagrees. “I didn’t know there were academic norms at all,” he said.’

Next stop: Visiting professorship, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“There has never been plagiarism in the puzzle world.”

Will the New York Times take action against the plagiarist?

No.

Why not?

Well, if you ask ol’ UD (she’s grateful to a number of readers who have linked her to this innovative form of plagiarism), the whole thing’s just too measly. Pursuing a lawsuit about crossword puzzles would be like crossword puzzles themselves:

1 ACROSS: SEVEN LETTERS, OF LITTLE IMPORTANCE
1 DOWN: PHRASE, ELEVEN LETTERS, THREE WORDS, POOR USE OF ONE’S MORNING

“[I]n a section of her thesis about the characteristics of stem cells, [Haruko Obokata, a now-disgraced Japanese stem cell researcher] had cut and pasted long passages from the National Institutes of Health Web site… Obokata says that she was hurrying to finish her thesis before the deadline, and accidentally bound and submitted a draft rather than the final version. But [a fellow scientist] says that when he confronted her about the plagiarism she said that it was common at Waseda [University], and that a faculty member had told her that no one reads the theses anyway.”

A long New Yorker essay about madly proliferating stem cell research fraud reminds us of PhD protocols at some of the world’s prominent universities:

Cut – Paste – Pass Without Reading

“He is often regarded as the only candidate with a realistic chance who is not obviously a scoundrel.”

The Peruvian presidential field (great overview here) includes a plagiarist/copyist. That is, César Acuña not only plagiarized the bulk of his PhD thesis; he also removed the author’s name from a book on educational theory and replaced it with his own.

Commentary.

Can UD be the only person for whom plagiarists and their defenders have a distinct charm?

A sweet disorder in the prose
Kindles in me oohs and ohs:—
A plagiarism has me thrown
Into a fine distractión,—
An erring line, which here and there
Enthrals the happy reader fair —
A quote neglectful, and thereby
Prose that flows confusedly,—
A shocking theft, deserving note,
From something that was ‘fore that wrote —
A careless word-string, in whose sense
I see fantastic fraudulence,—
Do more bewitch me, than when prose
Is too precise in every pose.

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

Can UD be the only person who thrills to tales like these?

An elected member of the Nevada Board of Regents is amending his 1995 University of Nevada, Reno dissertation following the discovery that more than four pages of it were copied from an uncited California report.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in late August that Regent Jason Geddes, who has defended the Nevada System of Higher Education against allegations it plagiarized a think tank’s report, had copied material in his own academic work.

Geddes has a doctorate in environmental sciences and health and has been a member of the Board of Regents since 2006.

Geddes’ adviser Glenn Miller was adamant Geddes did not plagiarize — despite pages of paragraphs being copied exactly, with the exception of an occasional word change and conversions to the metric system. Miller said it wasn’t plagiarism because dissertations aren’t widely read, the copied work was accurate and the copied language wasn’t creative …

Breathes there the soul which aren’t widely read fails to quicken? The copied work was accurately copied! The copied work was not creative! Please tell UD she’s not the only person bewitched not merely by plagiarism, but by (recalling this classic) excuses for it!

Yet for all the delight one takes in the defenders, there is nothing like the audacious copyists themselves. Recall, merely among professors, the selfsame University of Nevada’s Mustapha Marrouchi, who had apparently been plagiarizing (from hundreds of sources) for decades. Think, more recently, of Arizona State’s Matthew Whitaker, whose “resignation” will cost that university hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But if you ask UD, hundreds of thousands of dollars is a bargain. These guys and their shenanigans (note what Whitaker’s got going on with the City of Phoenix) might be fun for UD to follow, but when you get down to it, they’re really embarrassing.

Return to …

Spender.

It sounds like a Christo work…

… but apparently Korean academia’s project to re-wrap hundreds of book covers is a homegrown effort.

[200 Korean] professors, mostly in science and engineering majors, are accused of publishing others’ works under their own names by simply changing the book covers to boost their academic profiles ahead of assessments for rehiring.

UD‘s always complaining about how boringly uniform the act of plagiarism is, but HEY. New one on me.

Yet is it even right to call this innovation plagiarism? Plagiarism involves at least glancing contact with, and often manipulation of, the writing of other people. In this scheme, carried out with the full cooperation of publishers, and in many cases with the original authors’ cooperation (publishers got to re-market “new” books; authors allegedly got kickbacks), you simply supply your name to the publisher, who redesigns the cover with you listed as the author. This looks more like the decorative arts.

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

Plenty of scope here for puns in any case. Korean publishers offer non-binding contracts… Psychoanalytic volumes? Shrink-wrapped… The wit of Seoul is brevity…

A Rector Set

21% of Russia’s university leaders submitted plagiarized dissertations.

It’s not the plagiarism. It’s the excuses for the plagiarism.

This Russki says it ain’t plagiarism; it’s unscrupulous borrowing.

Explaining via Facebook in April the unattributed matches in his thesis with works of other authors, [former Duma Speaker Vladimir] Platonov used [a] euphemism, “unscrupulous borrowing,” that, he said, is not plagiarism.

This Georgian says it’s unverified content acceptance.

[Augusta Georgia Mayor Hardie] Davis admitted to accepting “content and feedback from multiple outside contributors without verifying the source of the information they provided.” Davis’ continued in the statement that he used the information from the feedback without citing who wrote the information. “I did not willfully or knowingly use someone else’s professional work as my own.”

This Italian says it’s nonfiction fiction:

[Roberto Saviano calls himself] a “non-fiction novelist,” in the tradition of Truman Capote, dealing in absolute truth but leavened with literary flourish.

Medieval Copyist

Peru’s leading newspaper said it will no longer publish editorials by the cardinal and archbishop of Lima after accusing him of plagiarizing past popes in his articles.

… Juan Luis Cipriani … copied portions of the book “Communio,” written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI, and of the encyclical “Ecclesiam Suam,” written by Pope Paul VI in two of his editorials.

… He suggested to listeners of his radio program, “Dialogues of Faith,” that the newspaper’s response was “revenge” for his inflexible opposition to abortion and gay marriage…

Cloud Gategate.

Just wanted to grab that clever headline before anyone else thought of it.

Plagiarize, Prevaricate, Rinse, Repeat

Plagiarism stories, says UD (who has followed them for years), are dully redundant. They’re not even stories in most of the world, by which I mean that if you’re in Korea or Pakistan or many other countries, plagiarism in the arts and sciences is rampant. Rampant. Americans get shocked when Americans plagiarize, and it does seem much rarer here… Though even here there are entire fields of endeavor (commencement speeches; sermons) full of plagiarists.

What makes plagiarism stories even duller is their uniform plot line. Someone discovers you’ve plagiarized. You deny, deny, deny, deny. The very idea! You are outraged. You make lawsuit noises. You know what it’s like to be unjustly accused of plagiarism, because it’s happened to you before. It happens because you are a popular, controversial figure, and other people are jealous and seek to undermine you. Who are you supposed to have plagiarized? That guy?? You’ve never read a word of his work!

Other people now look at the evidence, which makes it obvious that you have indeed plagiarized, and which also makes it impossible for you to continue to pretend that it’s just about this one liar trying to damage your reputation.

The next step is, again, virtually unchanged from case to case. Never admit to having consciously taken language from someone else and put it in something to which you signed your own name. Never. Instead, reveal that without knowing you’re doing it, you routinely (almost all plagiarists are serial plagiarists**) identify fiction writers (let’s say you’re a fiction writer) who have already written scenes that will fit in to your own stories perfectly. No – go beyond that. If you’re Shin Kyung-sook, reveal that you unconsciously were clever enough to choose a Korean translation of a famous Japanese fiction writer and steal that. A lot of plagiarists do this sort of thing – UD calls it obscuring the source. You make sure the writer is dead. You make sure the source material was published a long, long time ago. You make sure it didn’t do too well in the marketplace. Or, like Shin Kyung-sook, you choose translated material, which makes it less likely that a reader of the original source is going to notice what you’ve done.

Yawn.

———————-

**

South Korean literature professor Hyun Tac-soo has alleged that Shin also partly plagiarised passages from German author Luise Rinser’s “The Middle of Life” in “Please Look After Mom.”

“It’s a little upsetting. You had more than enough ammo to fire him outright. He was an at will employee[;] there was no contract. There’s no reason. Unless you’re trying to hide something. There was no reason to tell him here’s a quarter of a million dollars.”

Quite the cascade of events in the Little Rock Arkansas school district, where things were so bad the state took over, and now there’s a lawsuit from the dysfunctional school board the state ousted…

And now, the Little Rock superintendent turns out to have plagiarized … maybe more than plagiarized… in some accounts, it sounds as though he virtually stole another person’s dissertation… And I guess the general consensus would be that the top official of a large educational system probably shouldn’t be a massive plagiarist who when asked about it says he doesn’t think he “consciously” plagiarized.

So he has had to resign.

But the person quoted up there in UD‘s headline – Matt Campbell, who discovered the plagiarism – is confused as to why the guy, having lied and embarrassed the state and all, got a large money award. UD thinks he’s probably right that that most benighted of American states thought it would be clever to give him money to go away and in that way make the story of their having hired a superintendent without checking the legitimacy of his credentials (it’s easy to put documents through plagiarism-finders) go away. It wasn’t very clever.

*********

UD thanks a reader for correcting her identification of the person quoted in this post’s headline.

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