UD would have gone with poppies…

… but the news editor of the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Maverick Daily is partial to white tulips as an illustration to accompany the publication’s announcement of a new non-credit course: Active Shooter Training.

White tulips symbolize innocence and purity. Blood-red poppies are all about war.

Why pretty things up? Why pretend? If you’re going to go with flowers at all (already a strange choice), put them on top of a coffin or in front of a grave. Let’s not have them thrusting up from the ground in springlike vigor.


UD thanks Dirk.

Alabama A&M’s a Real Head-Scratcher.

UD‘s been attempting to follow that university since 2009, and has gradually discovered that it’s so bad it’s virtually impossible to understand.

She means that in any given newspaper article about this school, you cannot really make sense of what is being reported. (Here are some earlier attempts.)

So now there’s

Alabama A&M Chief
Operating Officer Arrested,
Charged with Theft

And with “possession of a forged instrument.”

Kevin Rolle, also the school’s executive vice president, last year sued a bunch of other people at the school who said something bad about him. The case was thrown out of court. Now he’s been arrested (okay, read the following slowly…):

The allegation against Rolle appears to center around a dispute over more than $6,000 he received as a reimbursement for moving expenses after he moved to Huntsville in 2009 to work for the university.

State auditors claimed earlier this year Rolle had been paid $6,534 to cover moving expenses, but they could find no moving company records to related to the move.

Alabama A&M initially said Rolle should not have been reimbursed. [This is where things start to get woozy. No records because no moving costs ….?] The university told auditors Rolle had repaid the money in January. [Okay.] But the university later changed its position. [Position is maybe an odd way to put it. Changed its story?] In a response to the state audit the university included an invoice from a moving company for the amount in question. [Ah! Here it is after all!]

Alabama A&M also included statements from two people claiming they were present when the moving truck arrived from Spartanburg, S.C. [Wow. Witnesses. Looks as though after decades of malfeasance Alabama A&M is anticipating that the state might not believe them.]

The statements were from the assistant to Alabama A&M President Andrew Hugine and and an executive with Aramark, a company that has a number of service contracts with the university. [They both happened to be standing around when… ? ]

I’m not the only one confused. The governor’s confused.

Gov. Robert Bentley questioned the university about moving expenses among other issues in a June letter. The Governor asked the university to provide the “front and back” of the check to pay the movers or the reimbursement check to Rolle. The Governor also asked for a copy of the check Rolle gave the university for his repayment. [So the succession of events is this: Rolle understands the university will reimburse him. He sends in his payment check, and gets reimbursed. Years pass. An audit happens. It turns out he should not have been reimbursed for the move. He repays the university. At first there is no paperwork to back up anything claimed here other than the payment of six thousand plus by the university to Rolle. In response to the audit, however, the university now hands over an invoice from the moving company.]

Bentley also questioned why an Aramark representative was at Rolle’s house on the day of the mover’s arrival. [Something smells fishy to the governor.]

Remember: This arrest is about forgery – or possession of forged docs – as well as theft.

And of course more details will emerge as the trial proceeds. This story is exactly one hour old.

But let’s speculate. Don’t you think it likely that the school has been trying to get rid of this guy ever since he initiated the lawsuit? Isn’t it likely that the theme of retaliation will play an important role in his courtroom defense? And isn’t it also possible that the governor has for whatever reason decided to do something about the larger corruption of Alabama A&M?

If so, this trial will mark the beginning of a lot of revelations.


So as the story builds, I’ll provide updates. Here’s one:

Rolle produced an invoice to examiners that the moving company could not verify, the report said. Examiners also said the moving company did not have Rolle’s name in their database.

“This poet’s pheromonal impact was such, Mr. Bate writes in “Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life,” that one woman who met Hughes at a party ‘was so viscerally attracted to him that all she could do was go to the ladies’ room and vomit.'”

UD finds this Ted Hughes story – whose origin seems to be a chat Janet Malcolm had with A. Alvarez when she visited him while writing her book about Hughes and Sylvia Plath – strange. The story has been picking up steam for awhile – it’s repeated in Jonathan Bates’s new Hughes biography (see my headline) and in other reviews, and has been tweeted hither and yon, etc.

Do you believe it?

Not about the vomiting. The vomiting’s fine. Do you believe that she vomited from sexual desire?

The story itself is a bit shaky. Alvarez identified the woman simply as “this woman I knew,” who told him “many years later” about her lustful spew…


I think it’s a case of one-upping. The woman must have known the famous story of Plath lustfully biting Hughes when she first met him, and in chatting about him with Alvarez the woman decided to come up with something better.

A few more of these and it’ll be like MadLibs:

When I first met Ted Hughes I __________________.

Bit him
Evacuated my bowels
Shrieked Holy Himeros, collapsed, vomited, and evacuated my bowels
Bit him, vomited, evacuated my bowels, shrieked Holy Himeros, and collapsed
Und so weiter.

Jeffrey “Dances With Walls” Sonnenfeld is in the news again…

reminding us that sometimes universities – respectable universities – do inexplicably moronic things.

That the board of trustees at Emory University did absolutely nothing at the time is absolutely expected. You have been reading my Trustees Trashing the Place category, yes?

Details. See if you can hold your sides in.

Call out the…


Here’s a university webpage to rival the Yeshiva University webpage that popped up…

… just after one of its trustees, Bernard Madoff, hit the headlines. It’s from the University of New Hampshire.

The top of the page announces a Bias-Free Language Guide, while the rest of the page is blank. Eloquently, poignantly, totally blank. As blank as all the YU Madoff pages suddenly became.

Where’s the Guide?

What story lies behind this latest weird visual outcome?

No, don’t try clicking on Bias-Free Language Guide. Won’t take you anywhere. It’s been scrubbed.

Wha’ happened?


We don’t know enough yet to figure out exactly how the thing got written – I mean, we need to know precisely what group of people (students? faculty?) wrote it – but it takes the Orwellian business of replacing short clear simple descriptive words with long pretentious empty euphemisms to new heights.

One section warns against the terms “older people, elders, seniors, senior citizens.” It suggests “people of advanced age” as preferable, though it notes that some have “reclaimed” the term “old people.” Other preferred terms include “person of material wealth” instead of rich, “person who lacks advantages that others have” instead of poor and “people of size” to replace the word overweight.

I think they fell down on that last one. It doesn’t have enough words. People of larger size than other people, no?


When David Ortiz called Jacoby Ellsbury a rich bitch, he managed to squeeze out only two words. Person of material wealth bitch is so much… richer.


Instant Update: Wow. In the few minutes during which I’ve been writing this post, UNH disappeared Bias-Free Language Guide and replaced it with Page Not Found. Quick work!


And again.



Parody Squared

[Donald Trump] is nearly a cartoon version of what a comedian such as Stephen Colbert considers a conservative — the kind of conservative Colbert played on Comedy Central until this year.

“A zoo hippopotamus swam out of its enclosure and onto the central Heroes’ Square, eating leaves off a tree before being shot with a tranquilizer dart in front of a Swatch store.”

What a sentence.

What a story.

Urban Expansion, Waco-Style

[M]aybe, as Waco Convention Center Director Liz Taylor suggests, things just happen.

I met Taylor during the Branch Davidian siege, when it was her task to convince the world that Waco wasn’t what it appeared to be. “I have learned to take things in stride,” she told me this week [after the biker shootout]. “It is all part of a growing community.


Higher Ed, Texas-Style

Governor Abbott has promised to sign open carry. He also has endorsed another gun lobby priority — legislation to permit concealed handguns on the state’s college campuses. That bill has drawn alarm from university officials, including Chancellor William McRaven of the University of Texas system who posed a dilemma about gun rights and free speech: “If you’re in a heated debate with somebody in the middle of a classroom, and you don’t know whether or not that individual is carrying, how does that inhibit the interaction between students and faculty?”

Oh please. Ask me a hard one. Once everybody’s packing, everybody knows everybody’s packing. Heated disagreements are resolved exactly the way the two sides of the Bandidos vs. Cossacks debate resolved them.


A bar is one of the very few places in Texas where you cannot openly carry a weapon — one of the few where you can’t carry an assault rifle, for that matter — but no one seems to have doubted that the [Waco] bikers would have easy access to serious firearms. This is a state where a request by Chipotle that people not display guns while ordering burritos caused a public protest.

Conveniently located just steps from Baylor University.

Even cops think, ‘Oh they are just tattooed long haired guys who like to ride motorcycles.’ And the reality of it is they are long-haired tattooed guys who ride motorcycles and sell a hell of a lot of methamphetamine and murder people and steal motorcycles and extort people and beat people up in bars for no reasons.”

“[O]n a massive dose of morphine, he lay in bed for 12 hours watching the Battle of Agincourt take place on the sleeve of his dressing gown.”

Far out.

Another chapter in the legend of SAE.

It’s America’s worst fraternity – a distinction extremely hard to attain, given the competition.

UD loves the image of Yale’s Sean Stewart getting his degree in ethics while being an SAE man, for, as you know, UD loves hypocrisy, the cruder the better. Stewart went on to become a finance person (he’s just been charged with insider trading), and a striking number of finance people seem to go in for this moral seriousness/massive theft of funds approach to life. Michael Martoma, you may recall, was also an ethics guy in college… Bernard Madoff, come to that, was a pious Yeshiva University insider…

None of these men seems to have been able to keep his dual-track life going. Bernie kept it up, as it were, longest, but now he’s rotting in jail. Martoma will get out of jail in nine years, and I’m sure he’s working out in the gym every day in order not to rot. Stewart could go to jail for 25 years, but he’ll get less time than that. Ten years, maybe. He and his father were in on the scheme together (Bernie also made it a family affair), and they used golf code in their phone conversations about their various trades, which is so cute. Golf is this adorable subtext in many insider trading arrests – remember this guy? Does his perp walk while wearing a sweater with little vintage golfers on it! Sweet.

Practical Nursing

If you’re failing, sue.

“[U]gly, kitsch, ridiculous, and rather childish.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm might quibble with the order of adjectives here – isn’t childish a bit weaker than ugly, kitsch, ridiculous? Those are stronger words, and I think you should build up to your stronger words to avoid a letdown at the end of a sentence. SOS might have started the list with childish and then continued by means of ascending number of syllables:

kitsch (1)
ugly (2)
ridiculous (4)

“Childish, kitsch, ugly, and rather ridiculous.” Or drop the rather. “Childish, kitsch, ugly, and ridiculous.”

The ur-text for thinking about the style and content of lists is The Importance of Being Earnest:

ALGERNON. [Speaking very rapidly.] Cecily, ever since I first looked upon your wonderful and incomparable beauty, I have dared to love you wildly, passionately, devotedly, hopelessly.

CECILY. I don’t think that you should tell me that you love me wildly, passionately, devotedly, hopelessly. Hopelessly doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it?

Doesn’t make much sense and is, again, a bit of a letdown.

In the case of practically bankrupt Louisiana State University finding money to buy “a ‘lazy river’ on the LSU campus in the shape of the letters L-S-U,” it doesn’t really matter how the LSU Faculty Senate president organized his list – the remarkable nature of the construction certainly comes across. Students whose campus is in the tank will soon be literally in the tank, paddling while Rome burns.

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