A sentence that made UD laugh out loud.

They go to these things, they pack their colons full of poorly-prepared meat products, they get cripplingly drunk, they slur along with the chorus of some moronic alcohol anthem, they get into their minivans and pick-ups, they drive home arguing the whole way and they hit a tree five blocks from their house and die instantly.

Straight out of Flannery O’Connor.


But hey you can’t argue with this local commenter’s math.

If 53000 people attended and 300 were ejected that is less than 1% of the attendees. Which means 99% of the crowd behaved, were not drunk, were not making fools of themselves. Where is that story?

New Position at Indiana Football:

Wide Distributor.

La Kid Rainbows a Recent Photo of Herself…


…to celebrate marriage equality.

The Blissful Garden

I love to look at your garden. It’s so … blissful.

A young woman said this to me yesterday. She was walking her dog by my house.

I was standing on my toes, trimming the ragged top of a … what? I don’t know. I’m bad on identification. A honeysuckle tree?

The loppers cut blindly; I couldn’t see up there. Every few moments I stood back to see whether I’d gotten the tallest shoots.

Over the years I’ve sculpted this unexciting bush/tree at the edge of my front lawn. It anchors one end of my split rail fence. I’ve flattened the top and let the sides spread, and it’s become a dense respectable looking something.

Why is my garden blissful? Because I do think she found the right word. The other word a lot of people use is peaceful.

Well, it’s a green garden. Not eco-green (though with my absolute lack of chemicals I guess I get eco points); all-green-plants green (with very occasional touches of non-green). For inspiration on green gardens and what they can be, scroll through these images. And these.

You possibly think of Japanese gardens when you think of all-green gardens. My garden has stuff in common with Japanese gardens, and the peaceful, blissful vibe passersby pick up on is I think probably similar to what you feel strolling around landscapes in Kyoto, etc. (This example, however, is in Portland Oregon.)

I’ve got lawn. It’s weedy, but it’s a rich smooth calm expanse because it’s well-established and I mow it regularly. Motionless baby rabbits currently spend all day on it, eating white clover. There’s a massing in front of the house of rhododendron, viburnum, korean spice bush, butterfly bush, hydrangea (I guess I can do some identification), maybe boxwood (not sure; three large very sculptable bushes were here when we bought the house from the sons of Munro and Margaret Leaf, and I’ve planted around them). Lower down there’s hosta and liriope and vinca and ferns and ivies.

Our lot is very wide. On the other side of the lawn I planted pachysandra five or so years ago, and it’s now thick and beautiful. Looks sort of like this. Halfway submerged in it are our topiary bulls – an homage to the author of Ferdinand the Bull, who lived in our house. They look sort of like this, since we stuff them with moss rather than plant things on them. Even so, the pachysandra always makes it way up into the bulls. I snip the plants off. I prefer the way the bulls look mossed.

Whenever I see the word sphagnum on my bag of moss, I think of Cecilia Bartoli singing Rossini’s “Canzonetta spagnuola” — in my fevered mind, there’s some connection between spagnuola and sphagnum.

What else? Out front again, black river stones lie beneath another edge of the fence. I planted some small light green grasses in among them a couple of years ago, and they’ve come up well.

I like the combination of black and green. I could look at kiwi fruit all day.

The bulls are not my only non-organic element. In the middle of the lawn sit two brown butterfly chairs (our house looks very ‘fifties modern, so this seemed the right way to go), and between them, on a black metal stand, there’s a luxuriant yellow coreopsis spilling out of its (yes) black container. The only negative here, I’ve discovered, is that our many birds enjoy the plant so much that they congregate, and shit copiously, on the butterfly canvas.

Speaking of birds and rabbits – Anyone who reads this blog knows that UD‘s garden attracts insane amounts and varieties of wildlife. I chronicle the more dramatic viewings (hawks, a mink, big effing snakes) in these pages, and I inevitably feature more than anything else the ongoing surreal drama of ever-increasing deer families everywhere. I mean, they live on our property, behind the house, high up in the woods, and they’re just always here. But there are also hooting owls and barking foxes at midnight, and an orange cat who tries to kill all the birds, and turtles and voles and once I found a dead rat. Racoons and opossums go without saying.

Hovering threateningly above all of this are the trees. Very old, very big, very everywhere trees. Parts of them are always falling, especially during the violent summer storms. Right now a haul-away job awaits UD in the very thick of her woods, where, two nights ago, a bunch of pretty big branches came crashing down.

But anyway. The point is blissful. The point is peaceful. In sun and calm weather the trees benignly shelter UD’s carefully clipped, carefully planted green swathe. From a low-hanging branch she’s hung wind chimes she got in Bali, so there’s the pleasant low click of the cylinders in counterpoint with the wood thrush.

I think the blissful peaceful feeling comes ultimately from the ‘total world’ effect of all this green. There’s very little traffic, so it’s quiet; and the houses in every direction are, like this one, swathed in green. The houses are small, so none competes with the natural setting. I think at the moment all those soft silent rabbits in particular account for the way-Henri Rousseau feel of the place.

Trump’s Weakest Flank: He Founded a University.

“The smart people will never be on our side,” announced Rick Santorum in his last run for the presidency; he attacked Obama’s hope to see all Americans attend university as “snobbery.” Obama, Santorum’s side said again and again, was an “intellectual snob.”

Sarah Palin led the charge, but several candidates followed in relentlessly calling Obama “professor.” Another high-profile Republican, Scott Brown, “consistently addressed [Elizabeth] Warren as ‘professor’” in their debates and in his speeches. Palin, in her first speech after being named a candidate for vice-president, said “we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.”

Apparently a lot of voters (not enough – all of the people I’ve just cited lost) despise universities because that’s where the liberals and the atheists roam. The very words “professor” and “university” are red meat to them.

That’s why Donald Trump has some splainin to do. He not only taught at a university; he founded a university. He put his name on a university: Trump University. Here’s his Chairman’s Welcome – complete with a British voice-over (Trump’s uber-snobby Anglo thing reappears in the symbol of Trump University – a lion rampant, drawn from British heraldry) which praises him as an “educator,” a graduate of “prestigious schools,” and the “author of many books.” Trump says, “I like academic life.”


On the positive side of the ledger, Trump has been sued for having opened Trump U. This allows him to tell his constituency that it was all a big mistake.

“Ingham then mocked the man for attending Mary Washington College, once an all-women’s school …”

Whew! Just in time. UD was madly enjoying reading this story, and wanted to share it with you, but wasn’t finding any connection to universities until, toward the end of the piece, bingo!


A medical ethicist at Northwestern University has a great comment:

[This was] a cheap excuse to have a laugh at a powerless person’s expense.

UD has long been interested in the theme of cruelty. This story seems to her a very pure instance of the phenomenon of cruelty.

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.




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.”

University Football: Always a Great Sideshow, Especially at America’s…

… best universities.

And who knew what a kettlebell weight was?


The coach in question?

[Sal] Alosi is infamous in his own right. He was a NY Jets coach who was suspended by the NFL in 2010 after tripping a Miami Dolphins player who was covering a punt.

Next stop: UCLA.

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.

To Mark Philip Larkin’s Westminster Stone

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it hourly for two days or so.
Maybe at last, a Philip Larkin fan,
I must be satisfied with life sucks, although
Morning and night as this verse began
His other old familiars were on show:
Don’t reproduce. Money and fame are rot.
Death scares my pants off
and the Lord knows what.

What did he but enumerate old themes,
First Yeats-inspired (as all close readers know),
Then, through The Movement, all our shattered dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
The ways that poetry turns into prose;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, loving this bridesmaid who poked at brides.

His masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that his life is gone
He must lie down within Westminster’s heart.
At the pantheon of the poet’s art.

America Votes.

Sen. Ted Cruz’s [father told a crowd]: “Did you know that the Bible tells you exactly who to vote for?”

… [One audience member said that] Sen. Cruz rose to the top of her list of 2016 GOP candidates: “I’m a real follower of Jesus, and when you have someone quoting the Bible, ‘This is what you do,’ you do it.

“… UCR’s fundraising ($317,115) and gate receipts ($32,916) were both a resounding last in the Big West…”

UC Riverside is amazing. Its athletes do quite poorly on the Academic Progress Rate. Most of its teams lose most of the time. It’s way heavily subsidized.

89 percent of UCR’s total athletics budget is subsidized through institutional support ($8.95 million in 2013-14), student fees ($4.83 million) or other methods, according to a USA Today database. The only Division I institution in the country more heavily subsidized (90.58 percent) is the New Jersey Institute of Technology…

Plus no one goes to the games.

Summer Drill, LSU

All three players were suspended indefinitely by [Louisiana State University football coach Les] Miles, who is no longer waiting to suspend players as much as he once did when he used that aggravating coach catchphrase – “We’re going to let the legal system play out.” Of course, Miles has had more than a dozen players arrested on various charges since 2010 alone. So he knows the drill.

A President Waiting to Happen

Rick Perry said Friday that the massacre at a black church in Charleston was an “accident” as he accused President Barack Obama of succumbing to a “knee jerk” liberal impulse to push a gun-control agenda.

A spokesman for the Republican presidential candidate said it was clear he meant to say “incident” and simply misspoke.

An Appreciation of UD’s Sister…

… by Jon Paul Fiorentino.

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truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
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