When you’re a university spending all your time totally focused on trying to build a one billion dollar football stadium with the world’s largest Adzillatron….

… you can’t be bothered to make any public statements about a very high-ranking faculty member who’s also – according to a number of reportsan outrageous plagiarist.

I mean, it’s a matter of priorities. Do you wanna look at this? Or do you wanna look at some pointless little English professor getting punished for plagiarizing “from at least 160 works over the course of his career”?

Yes, we pay this guy close to $150,000 a year and give him a fancy title AND he has the distinction of having plagiarized an entire article by UD‘s very own dissertation advisor, WJT Mitchell! But hey. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Remembering. And keeping an eye on gender apartheid at British universities.

Towards the end of 2012, [in response to] the growing practice of gender segregation at public events in universities, Universities UK (UUK), the governing body of British universities, issued guidance which permitted gender segregation of women in university spaces in order to accommodate the religious beliefs of external speakers. The guidance presented in the form of a case study purported to provide advice in contexts in which the right to manifest religion clashes with gender equality.

Far from addressing the question of sex discrimination, the guidance merely legitimised gender apartheid. It took a campaign and threats of legal action by [Southall Black Sisters] before the UUK agreed to withdraw the guidance. We argued that the UUK’s guidance violated the equality and non-discrimination principles enshrined in the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act and other equalities and human rights legislation, themselves the product of long and hard campaigning by feminists, racial minorities and other marginalised groups in society. The withdrawal of the UUK guidance was followed by a formal investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission which found the guidelines to be unlawful…

This blog will continue to keep an eye on attempts at gender segregation at universities.

Libretti, égalité…

The law is the law. More important than that, however, is the spontaneous refusal on the part of citizens of a democratic republic to behave as though it’s business as usual when the values of the republic are flouted.

When you wear the niqab in France, it’s no longer go on with the show.

Margaret’s Nature Journal

Two dead thrushes in two days on UD‘s deck! Both flew into our sliding glass doors. I think both were young… There’s always a bit of bird carnage out there – maybe four birds a year? – but I’ve never seen two of the same species on two consecutive days. And thrushes, with their famous song.

UD gets more interested in mushrooms each autumn. Her back woods, as you know, are all about dead trees, and she’s been delighted with her giant puffball crop and various less flashy fungi. Today she pulled from a tree what turned out to be a full shelf of oyster mushrooms which yes yes I know you can eat but UD is afraid to eat any mushroom she forages. She doesn’t trust her ability to identify them.

Mushrooms are very in lately.

A haughty orange cat has taken over UD‘s property. It always makes sure to be tramping around when UD‘s outside, and it stares insolently at UD, but refuses to approach. It has the look of a real predator, and UD‘s garden and wood, with its birds and rabbits galore, is just the thing. Today, as UD leaned on her rake (taking a break from dragging leaves curbside), she watched as the orange cat made sure UD was watching, and then shat in a stand of azaleas.

On the plus side, the cat took a long careful time covering up – with soil, leaves, and twigs – what it had done.

Another regular in UD‘s woods is the deer with one antler. I’ve watched this character year after year. Its dead antler never fell off; it hangs, a blackened fragment, off the side of its head. UD usually shoos away deer who get close to her house, but she has a soft spot for One Antler.


UPDATE: Yikes. Were those birds gifts to me from the cat?

“Seven players were arrested at a high school for raping their teammates. You can draw a line from there through Steubenville, Penn State, and the NFL.”

There’s a direct line from what allegedly occurred in Sayreville to Tallahassee, Florida, where an all-too cozy relationship between the university and the local police hindered any possible investigation into the sexual-assault allegation against quarterback Jameis Winston, to bullying in the Miami Dolphins locker room, to Steubenville, Ohio, and to Penn State University.

… Jason Christopher Hartley, a veteran who served in Iraq and the author of Just Another Soldier, saw hazing in the military and says the only way to begin the process of eradicating this kind of behavior is a total reboot.

“It starts at boot camp or whatever the boot camp equivalent in football is. You have to inculcate them and make it clear that you won’t allow this fucked up behavior,” he said, “You can’t do it afterwards. You can’t have a cult that has this kind of shit and then bolt on a new morality and ethics and expect it to work. It can’t. Human nature disallows that. It has to start from day one.”

Yet another sad obvious murder case…

… involving a professor killing his wife gets going this week. As in other such cases – Professor Zinkhan, Professor Robb - you’ve got a husband pissed with his wife because he thinks she’s unfaithful, or because she wants a divorce, or because he wants child custody and doesn’t want to pay alimony and just because, you know, he wants her out of the picture altogether as in dead.

There was never any mystery as to who fatally shot/beat the unfortunate women married to Zinkhan and Robb, and this latest case is even more obvious than those cases.

University of Pittsburgh professor Robert Ferrante ordered cyanide a couple of days before his wife died of cyanide poisoning. Then, “someone used Ferrante’s computer days after [Autumn Marie] Klein died to learn whether treatments she received after falling ill would have removed poison from her system.” No shit. Wonder who.

Ferrante’s a real sweetie.

[Klein] wanted a second child and exchanged text messages [with her husband] about how the energy supplement creatine could help them conceive hours before police say Ferrante laced it with cyanide, according to a police complaint.

“Will it stimulate egg production too?” Klein said in one text.

Court documents say Ferrante responded with a smiling emoticon.

Here are the major players in the trial, including a lead prosecutor who last Friday got beaten up in a domestic violence incident. You can’t make this shit up.

“Keene State Turns It Into Insanity.”

A townsperson’s comment on this year’s local Pumpkin Fest – a traditional event in the small town of Keene New Hampshire, where residents display carved pumpkins and celebrate the beautiful New England autumn together – could also stand as the motto of Keene State University, a very dangerous American location whose rioting students turn everything – including the Keene New Hampshire Pumpkin Fest – into insanity.

Keene State enjoyed a spot of fame when a man who barely survived teaching journalism there for a few years wrote, post-traumatically, The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It. Last weekend’s riot – pretty much unsurpassed, in the annals of college riots, for violence, injury, and destruction – can have surprised no one who, like UD, read Craig Brandon’s account of the gruesome brew that is Keene State. His book of course reviews the long history of student riots there. A sample:

[T]here were dangerous riots when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 [Note that Keene State shares with our most riot-torn campuses the practice of rioting when happy and rioting when sad]. Nearly a thousand students, about one out of five students at the college, started fires, broke windows, turned over cars, threw rocks and bricks at police, and threatened to go on a rampage through the middle of town until they were turned back by dozens of city and state police [Dozens, hah. Lots more than that - SWAT, tear gas, the works - at the Keene State Pumpkin Riot.] who had been put on active duty to prevent the riot.

Brandon’s main point about Keene and other tuition-starved universities is that the school will do anything to keep bodies in rooms (“[I]t was common practice to stack freshmen into [dorm] rooms like cordwood, with as many as four students assigned to a room designed for two. Why? So many freshmen leave the school during their first year – usually at least 25 percent – that colleges overstuff them in the fall to avoid having empty rooms in the spring.”). This means giving in to students on all matters – academic, recreational – and never making them actually study or anything (“I left my teaching position in 2007, right after the dean threatened to put me on probation unless I made my classes more student-friendly by removing grammar from my lesson plans and showing more movies.”). When you add social media’s ability to draw rioters from all over the state to an already large concentration of drunken louts, you turn everything into insanity.

And oh how “disheartened” Keene’s president is by this shocking unprecedented student riot. Disheartened, re-disheartened, re-re-disheartened, re-re-re-disheartened… The sorrowful lot of the university president.


Oh yeah, UD? And what’s Keene State supposed to do?

There’s nothing it can do. The state will never close the place. As fewer and fewer students attend, the administration will make its lout-friendly atmosphere even more lout-friendly.

But God knows there’s something its local terrified populace can do. Move.


Let’s end this year’s account of life at Keene State with a comment from another townsperson:

Lillian Savage brought her kids to the Pumpkin Festival on Saturday.

“All you could see was smoke, lots of screaming, lots of drunken rage really,” she said. “I have been coming here since I was a kid and I loved it and now this. I will never come back – ever.”


UPDATE: You can’t buy this kind of publicity.

A Polish Literary Scandal with EVERYTHING.

Sex (heterosexual and homosexual). Money (unpaid debts). Corruption (a writer nominated for a prize is apparently living with the secretary of the prize’s selection committee). Increasingly unhinged emails between the two combatants.

The ongoing story of Kinga Dunin (well-known literary journalist and Medical University of Warsaw professor) and Ignacy Karpowicz (hot young – significantly younger than Dunin – novelist) hasn’t jumped to to the English language press yet.

Basic narrative, however, is this: Dunin suddenly posted on her Facebook page a complaint that Karpowicz hadn’t repaid the $4,000 loan she’d given him; she wrote that maybe by publicizing the matter she could shame him into it.

Karpowicz responded that for some time Dunin had been allowing him to use her apartment when he was in Warsaw, and recently when she was also in the apartment she invited him to share her bed. Not wanting to make her angry, he writes, he agreed to do so. (He’s either a liar or a fool.) Eventually he fell in love with someone else and broke off the relationship with Dunin. He claims that on their last night together in her apartment, when he told her he was leaving her, she raped him.

Dunin then came back with the claim that Karpowicz threw her over for a man – a man who happens to be the secretary of the selection committee for a literary prize Karpowicz is up for.

It seems likely to UD that the story has enough intrinsic interest to show up, soon, in the New York Times. We’ll see.

Gory details here, if you happen to be fluent in Polish.

Going Cosmic on Manoa

The University of Hawaii-Manoa has a $31 million deficit and growing. Its big athletics program is a morgue, a wasteland, a joke. Its latest interim chancellor (you haven’t seen administrative turnover until you’ve seen Hawaii) has a statement to make:

Some have suggested cuts to the athletic budget and system administrators’ salaries, but [Robert] Bley-Vroman said the deficit requires more structural solutions. “There are big forces here, and they have to do with the society’s view of education and who’s going to pay for it.”

Yes, it’s a big, big… cosmic problem, and until we as a nation reconceptualize the entire ground of university education as such, cutting the athletics budget is pointless.

Nice first sentence.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm approves.

In the wake of the Ray Rice horror show, and the Adrian Peterson horror show, and the Greg Hardy horror show, and the Ray McDonald horror show, and the Daryl Washington horror show, and the Jonathan Dwyer horror show, and the 725 other arrests among the players who make money for him, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Friday afternoon in a mea culpa press conference that all 32 teams and their employees must attend educational sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault.



The University of Nebraska treated one patient who recovered and is now caring for a freelance NBC cameraman.

Newspaper Poem.

The point of the exercise, as you know, is to make a poem out of words taken from a newspaper article.

Here is the article.

Here is the poem, whose title is the article’s headline.



Cassini’s shocked by Saturn’s spongy moon
(Craggy porous distant Hyperion).

Although a predicted phenomenon,
To be caught in a beam of electrons

Cannot be pleasant, even after ten
Years. Thus Nicolas Altobelli, when

Interviewed, said Cassini has again
Proved its altogether superhuman

Value as we study interactions
Between humanity and solar winds.

“The worst is not, So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.'”

Well, we can apparently say that these are the worst – the worst American colleges. UD has heard of very few of them, which isn’t surprising. The worst America colleges tend to fly under the radar – they’re often small, provincial, barely accredited year after year.

UD checked out the one Maryland school on the list (UD lives in Maryland) and it does in fact seem about to lose its accreditation.

Court records show the Internal Revenue Service filed three federal tax liens totaling about $5 million against the college in January and February.

Horrible schools are always losing students. Eventually they just run out of tuition money.

“Jonathan Reiner @JReinerMD · Mar 22 Most disgusting tweet of the day @washingtonpost: The price of bacon is increasing because of a pig diarrhea epidemic http://wapo.st/1h6dTCa.”

UD‘s George Washington University colleague Jonathan Reiner has a lively Twitter page, featuring, most recently, his claim that the CDC’s protective equipment rules for the prevention of infection by Ebola are inadequate.

So as the nation soul-searches about football like crazy (after the latest thing, the …

Sayreville thing), allow UD to reiterate her position.

This is a blog about universities and the problems with them. UD‘s interest in football (which under normal conditions would have to grow to become cursory) is restricted to what it’s doing to our universities.

UD (as you know if you read this blog) calls football The Freak Show That Ate the American University.

As for football outside the university: UD recognizes that millions of Americans need regular, massive, violent, pissed to the gills spectacles. She’s had little to say about the NFL, the tax exempt non-profit organization to which the nation has given the job of mounting the spectacles. Similarly, she’s had little on this blog to say about NASCAR. If universities began fielding NASCAR teams, she’d begin talking about it.

That there is a world of blood-lust outside the university is unremarkable. That universities – outposts of civil reasoning – are sometimes little more than football camps is quite remarkable. The university, as institution, starts out so high that its transformation into a football camp represents a resounding fall into the gutter.

We all know the schools that have really let themselves go – Penn State, Rutgers, Alabama, University of North Carolina, University of Georgia, Auburn, University of Miami, etc. – and we all know the obvious stuff covered by journalists: systemic cheating, sometimes orchestrated by professors; systemic corruption by money; high rates of player crime; budget-busting payouts of fired coaches. This blog covers that stuff, but also tries to evoke the daily, on-the-ground scummy environment that football camp university students and professors endure.

I don’t mean simply, for instance, the humiliation of being threatened all the time by coaches and high ranking administrators who are angry with you because you don’t go to games, or because you leave games early. How many emails per day does a typical University of Alabama student get from the school’s enraged multimillionaire coach harassing her about her non-attendance? How bad is she willing to be made to feel because she is focused on university studies? How often must she be made to defend her preference for reading over watching steroid poppers break each others’ skulls?

I also mean the literal filth of the university football camp. I mean the University of Georgia’s long struggle with post-tailgate trash all over campus (trash that includes human waste). I mean North Carolina State’s similar problem, concisely expressed by a campus journalist: “[W]hen the students get drunk, they don’t really care what goes where.”


Why are university students en masse refusing to go to football games? Everyone’s worried about it. Michigan State’s AD says it’s “embarrassing,” but he doesn’t think it’s embarrassing that a coach putting on shows no one wants to go to makes three million dollars a year. One sports writer calls the non-compliant University of Miami student fans “pathetic,” but he doesn’t ask himself whether rational people might prefer not to be identified with a pathetically corrupt program. Florida A&M is all upset that no one goes to their football games. Does it occur to them that people would prefer not to have to think about manslaughter when they see a marching band?

Pesky Ventilation System Always Breaks Down Near Naked Women

One of UD‘s erstwhile colleagues (he was a visiting lecturer at George Washington University) gets down and dirty with his building’s ventilation system.



A highlight of the menu at the Char Bar kosher restaurant in Washington is the items named for some of its more prominent Orthodox clientele. One is the Freundel. Its namesake, Rabbi Barry Freundel of Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown, was arrested Tuesday by D.C. Metro police and charged with voyeurism.

But owner Sima Soumekhian says he isn’t pulling the Freundel sandwich from his menu.

“At this point everybody is entitled to due process,” Soumekhian said Wednesday.

The Freundel features grilled pastrami and smoked turkey, with Chipotle sauce on a rustic bun.

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