“If you rank all administrators listed in the report, the top 10 are all coaches or athletic administrators, and 15 of the top 25 are.”

There’ll always be an Arkansas.

The University of East London Doesn’t Fuck With that Shit.

But you’ve got to let them know. There have to be people out there watching for sex-segregated events at university campuses. Thank goodness there’s Peter Tatchell. He told UEL what the school was about to host, and UEL immediately cancelled the event.

OTOH… It occurs to UD to ask… Why didn’t UEL know about this? The organizers sent out via Facebook and all a big poster trumpeting the enforced segregation of women… Trumpeting also the preacher who instructs us to throw gay people off of mountains…

Snapshots from Home

Tonight UD interviews Fran Lebowitz in a large elegant auditorium at George Washington University.

As you know, UD has been studying Ms Lebowitz in preparation for this event (over-preparation – she’s only interviewing her for thirty minutes), and she has, scholar-squirrel-like, set out four categories of questions for her (plus, if there’s time, UD has a wild card question). The Four Categories:

The Human Animal
Income Inequality and Democracy
Writing and Reading
The Satirist and Happiness.

Here’s the wild card:

In Metropolitan Life, you predicted America’s current immense pain pill addiction problem. You wrote:

Presently it appears that people are mainly concerned with being well rested. Those capable of uninterrupted sleep are much admired. Unconsciousness is in great demand. This is the day of the milligram.

Could you update this remark?

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

What strikes UD most about Fran Lebowitz is something seldom touched on by people who interview her. She’s a remarkably self-made woman. She was thrown out of high school and simply got her ass over to Manhattan and made her way. She never went to college; she’s all about being educated by solitary reading.

She drove cabs, had the guts to connect with all sorts of people and enterprises… She seems to have appeared in the big city with an achieved sensibility and writing style, along with an outrageous but amply vindicated confidence in her own way of being. No wonder she loves New York City. Cities are designed with people like Lebowitz in mind.

Also with UD‘s old friend Lisa Nesselson in mind. UD finds herself thinking of Lisa when thinking of Lebowitz, except with Lisa the city was Paris and Lisa finished college (the same college UD went to, Northwestern). Lisa seems to have landed in Paris and within seconds decided this was it – her city, forever. When I first stayed with her she lived in a seventh-floor closet-sized walkup on the Boulevard Saint Germain. Communal toilet down the hall. She got to know the woman who owns the building, and now lives in a roomy apartment on the second floor.

Money? Far as I can tell, neither Lebowitz nor Nesselson has ever had much. They are bohemians, and they make do. Honesty and wit have allowed them to push forward and make the world accept — even celebrate — their spiky uncompromised personalities.

When caught plagiarizing…

… admit you cut corners and pledge never to do it again. Very simple. Your public statement should have two sentences, tops.

People never learn this. Ye olde ego seems to make it impossible. Instead of a brief apology, you get Surprenants. Surprenants are named after ex-Manchester University professor Annmarie Surprenant, who was found to have slapped A‘s on all her student exams and returned them without mussing one eyelash in actually looking at them. (This class management method is especially popular now that online courses are the rage. Venetia Orcutt, an ex-colleague of UD‘s at George Washington University – chair of its physician assistant program! – did nothing for the entire duration of two online courses and awarded all of her students A’s.) Cornered, Surprenant went on and on about her glorious misunderstood being:

I am quite politically incorrect, outspoken and have never adhered to the oft-repeated and probably excellent advice to ‘watch your back’, because I believe watching one’s back will never move us forward.

This makes me an easy target for a certain type of person. Half-truths, false accusations and malicious gossip readily ruin one’s reputation in the eyes of that certain type of person. But in the end it is your work that stands.

Moving us forward… But my work will stand!

And now you’ve got Deborah Martinez, a University of New Mexico public radio reporter who plagiarizes her stuff. Here’s her apology:

“I’ve earned four Associated Press awards over my decades-long broadcast career, producing hundreds of stories with the aim of telling the truth,” she writes in an email … “I made a mistake and was disciplined for it and KUNM and I now move forward with the same goal of informing the public in an open and honest way about news that affects them.”

Moving forward again! Always moving forward!

Scathing Online Schoolmarm doesn’t know quite what to say about people who allow the same self-regard that got them into trouble to generate the apology for having gotten into trouble. This isn’t really about helpful editorial hints. Character is destiny.

“You truly represent everything that the West loathes about white South Africans who live extravagant lives in their expensive laagers.”

The Pistorius trial generates its first truly powerful writing. This article is going viral in South Africa.

What’s the …

diff?

“Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?”…

… asks Algernon, in The Importance of Being Earnest; and it is a question a number of law professors have been posing lately about law students, whose duty is to set us (law profs, that is) a good example by paying $50,000 and up (plus living expenses) a year for law school, and then being unemployed or taking a public interest job that may pay close to nothing.

As you probably know, law jobs are collapsing in this country, largely due to far too many law school graduates constantly being added to the job-seeking pool. Some schools are looking for ways to respond to this problem. Others are not.

In response to this New York Times opinion piece, written by two law school professors who basically deny the problem, Paul Campos first debunks their optimistic statistics, and then remarks:

The most nauseating aspect of …this [op-ed] is the gelatinous patina of sanctimony the authors slather onto their exercise in profoundly anti-intellectual — if “intellectual” is taken to mean “minimally honest” — hucksterism. “Legal education is still an excellent choice for those committed to serving others in a rewarding career,” they primly observe. Yes, it’s certainly been an excellent choice for them. Let’s take a moment to contemplate how well these public-spirited scholars are doing for themselves by “serving others.”

The first person Chemerinsky hired onto the UC-Irvine faculty when he got this self-abnegating enterprise rolling five years ago [Erwin Chemirinsky, notes Campos, is dean of a brand new law school that, "in a hyper-saturated legal employment market," [charges] $47,300 in resident and $53,900 in non-resident annual tuition.] was his wife. In 2012 this dynamic academic duo pulled down a combined salary of $597,000 from the University of California’s perpetually cash-strapped system.

Meanwhile [the co-author of the NYT piece] took home a salary of $320,000, so it’s safe to say a career in public service is working out OK for her as well.

Obviously there’s plentiful comic territory here for those who enjoy either Wildean languidity about class privilege or straightforward Tartuffian riffs on hypocrisy (if you haven’t read Brian Tamanaha’s hilarious classic on this subject, do so).

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

Add to Chemerinsky’s hearty assurance that all is well the rage of University of Oregon professor Robert Illig at the possibility that he and his colleagues in the law school might not get raises this year. The blog UO Matters quotes from two emails Illig sent to the faculty in which he worries about the possibility that the dean of the school (this might be a faculty proposal rather than something from the dean; it’s not clear at the moment) might take away raises and invest them instead in enhancing job prospects for recent graduates.

I feel that having given up the chance at a seven-figure annual income [for a six-figure one] is charity enough for the students.

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

Campos wonders if Illig’s thing is “an elaborate parody.”

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

More information on the faculty resolution.

So take two poems by Vijay Seshadri…

… who has won the poetry Pulitzer. Take “Bright Copper Kettles” and “Three Persons.” They’re both halting little dances to the music of time, or, if you like, rivulets of consciousness from a poet afloat in the present and at the same time darkly encroached upon, occasionally even flooded by, that old catastrophe.

His life will start to break apart eventually. Then he will die. He wouldn’t mind knowing something about that. He wouldn’t mind knowing more about his strange relationship to his condition of knowing something about that. So in the first poem, its title taken from the treacly Sound of Music song, his favorite thing is consort with the dead, since they know all and can enlighten him as to what awaits. They come to him in dreams, and

I like it so much I sleep all the time.
Moon by day and sun by night find me dispersed
deep in the dreams where they appear.
In fields of goldenrod, in the city of five pyramids,
before the empress with the melting face, under
the towering plane tree, they just show up.
“It’s all right,” they seem to say. “It always was.”

This is no night of living dead absurdity; they don’t menace him. Why would they?

They’re dead, you understand, they don’t exist. And, besides,
why would they care? They’re subatomic, horizontal. Think about it.
One of them shyly offers me a pencil.
The eyes under the eyelids dart faster and faster.
Through the intercom of the house where for so long there was no music,
the right Reverend Al Green is singing,
“I could never see tomorrow.
I was never told about the sorrow.”

The right Reverend has no fore-knowledge of life’s breaking apart and then the end of life; no dead people ever told him about it. The poet however has puzzled out a path to the dead, and they have broken the silence of his mind with the knowledge the Reverend lacks. The poet’s rapid eye movement as he dreams registers his excitement about what he is about to understand.

Yet the poem ends not with sage words from the dead, but with one of the dead shyly (earlier the poet has called the dead in his dreams “diffident” and “polite”) offering the poet a pencil. How to interpret the gesture? Perhaps something like this. Wake up! You’re horizontal all the time, just like us, because you’re so desperate to know what awaits. Death is … eh… I dunno… It’s another condition; like life. Both are all right – in the sense that both are, and there’s little point in acts of resistance. You, however, at the moment, write. You’re a poet. Allow me to be bold enough to suggest that you should just keep doing what you’ve been doing: Recording what it feels like to be a human being in the middle of your journey.

The second poem also ends with a pencil. Here the speaker fixates not on the dead dead, but the alive dead. He contrasts himself, a vital successful sort of person, with losers, slow people, people you leave behind when you make it. While you stride about organizing with an electric clipboard / your big push to tomorrow, you can’t avoid thinking about those you’ve left in your dust, people “coaxing” their “battered grocery cart[s] down the freeway meridian.” You see yourself, others see you, as a mythic, storied figure striding life like a colossus; but the loser has a special insight into the truth of you (and here the poem begins to merge with the one we just looked at; this is a poet drawn to has-beens because he knows that having-been is the ineluctable human truth, however we delude ourselves about that):

He doesn’t see you as a story, though.
He feels you as his atmosphere. When your sun shines,
he chortles. When your barometric pressure drops
and the thunderheads gather,
he huddles under the overpass and writes me long letters with
the stubby little pencils he steals from the public library.
He asks me to look out for you.

The prince and the pauper; the poet and… the poet. The loser turns out to be wielding the same pencil the winner’s got in his hand. Here’s his special knowledge; here’s why he’s worried about the poet’s welfare: They are equally vulnerable to the gathering thunderheads.

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

UD would say that these poems are variations on Lear’s


Oh, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel…

Encounters with the wretches, though, disclose something rather odd, and moving: He asks me to look out for you.

Mass stabbing near the University of Calgary

At what seems to have been a party celebrating the end of winter term classes, five people – four men, one woman – have been stabbed to death in a student-rented house near campus. It’s not clear whether all were UC students.

‘”We expect these men to be extremely tough, brutal on the field, and above all, win. And then off the field, we expect them to be distinguished gentlemen. That’s a lot to ask,” explained Plante.’

Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University, is on the case. Turns out it’s hard to reconcile outrageously rewarded brutality with civility.

Of course most sports aren’t like football. Hockey is; but most sports don’t demand absolutely insane intensities of aggression. Football does, and that’s why Nebraska and Oregon got to enjoy local heroes like Richie Incognito.

But – bottom line:

“More and more people have learned about the private lives of athletes, and they’re not surprised by these things. As athletes get in trouble and show questionable judgment, fans just become numb to it all. And they’re far more concerned about how it will affect their team’s play.”

Snapshots from Home

On a warm spring night, UD is about to go to the Garrett Park Town Hall, to take notes on this month’s meeting of the town council. As always, she’ll write it up for the Bugle, and, as always, she’ll link you to the write-up.

Later tonight, she’s going to try to be awake for the blood moon.

Last night, she heard a barred owl in a nearby tree.

Handel’s…

Messiah.

To such squeaky clean enterprises as SAC Capital, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase…

… we must add GlaxoSmithKline, which only this morning has had to – in the words of one headline - “deny systemic corruption.”

Which is awkward. Who wants to have to be all defensive on such a basic matter as that? To have to deny systemic corruption. Heavy.

And this isn’t – like those other outfits I just mentioned – simply a temple to Mammon we’re talking about. This is a benevolent dispenser of surcease to suffering for people all over God’s green earth! GSK has got the whole world in its hand!

WHY stingy doctors refuse to prescribe the number of pills GSK requires to hit its yearly profit mark is the real question. What the hell’s that about, I’d like to know? Take it up with the damn prescribers! It’s not GSK’s fault if it has to bribe physicians all over the globe – all over the globe – to dish out pointless and destructive excess pillage to patients. I’m thinking in terms of conspiracies here… I’m thinking that – in this latest case – some Polish doctors got together and decided to – what?? – use clinical criteria in prescribing medication? And this forced GSK’s hand, making it increase its bribes until the system became too grotesque to ignore…

******
UD thanks Barney.

Arizona State University is well on its way toward becoming…

… the scummiest university in America. It isn’t there yet – there’s a good deal of competition from states like Hawaii and Alaska – but UD would be very pleased to see a winner from the mainland for a change, and ASU, as of now, is definitely the front-runner.

What pushed it over the top is its mandatory $150 a year student athletics fee, imposed (no student vote – why do that? – they’d only vote against it) on every student to pay for all the shitty games no one goes to, plus for all the overpaid loser coaches.

Add to this ASU’s mentally challenged regents, its charming student body, and its amazing frats, and you get an institution profoundly symbolic of twenty-first century higher education in America.

‘The term cosmeceuticals is not recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and thus not subject to its regulatory scope. What this means is that not one of these products are required to prove the validity of the science it preaches for it products. To date, none of these companies have published any significant data in the literature that proves their effectiveness. Furthermore, no stem cells could even survive long-term embedded in a cream, let alone be guaranteed to work on all individuals (your body would be more likely to reject foreign cells).’

One of UD‘s colleagues has joined the board of a company that “offers plant stem cell-based facial creams and beauty products.”

My colleague’s beauty product line “stimulates your own stem cells.”

Amazing.

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