Incredulous/Incredible

From a letter to the editor of a South Carolina newspaper. The subject: Events at South Carolina State University.

[SCSU President Thomas] Elzey has made two incredulous declarations to all viewing from near and afar: “SCSU will not close, and I will not resign.” Though he emphatically states these, he has control of neither.

The writer means incredible. Elzey has made statements that we cannot believe. Things are incredible – experiences, statements.

Incredulous refers to the human condition or feeling of not being able to believe something. I am incredulous when I hear Elzey say incredible things.

Had Elzey said I cannot believe what is happening to me! Everyone thinks I should resign! – then he would have been declaring his incredulity.

Matt Taibbi on Rudy Giuliani.

I feel sorry for Rudy that he can’t love this country the way it is. I love America even with assholes like him living in it. In fact, I’m immensely proud of our assholes; I think America has the best assholes in the world. I defy the Belgians or the Japanese to produce something like a Donald Trump. If that makes me an exceptionalist, I plead guilty.

On Belgium: I can only think of Johnny Hallyday and Paul de Man. Neither begins to measure up.

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

Update: UD thanks Alan, a reader, for reminding her that Leopold II trumps Trump.

As university stadiums and arenas empty, bribing students to attend games, as at the University of Akron and other schools…

… will become more and more common a desperation move.

As you know, UD has predicted that in a few years universities will offer High-Achieving Attender scholarships to applicants who can show (via photographic portfolios, etc.) a superior level of game attendance in high school.

Jay Michaelson on Rabbi Professor Freundel

When I lived in Washington, I attended Kesher Israel regularly. It was a thrill to sit behind Senator Joseph Lieberman, Leon Wieseltier and other luminaries of the American Jewish scene. They and many others took pride in articulating a literate, intelligent Modern Orthodox Jewish sensibility – and Freundel was an exemplar of it…

All this time, he was a sex offender, a fraud and a pervert.

… [T]he Freundel scandal looks a lot like the Madoff* scandal. There are questions that should have been asked, suspicions that should have been raised. But the self-reinforcing loops of elite power — X likes him, X is powerful, therefore I should like him — blinded those entrusted to keep watch.

And then there are the nonsexual allegations. One of Freundel’s victims, Bethany Mandel, told The Daily Beast that we’ve gotten Freundel wrong. “People keep calling him a pervert and yes, he’s a pervert, but he’s also a power hungry sociopath,” Mandel said. “It wasn’t about porn. It was about power, and this was additional power no one knew he had.”

This, too, should have been visible in plain view to anyone who worked closely with Freundel.

… It can seem, downing a shot of whiskey with someone of influence, that you are in the presence of greatness. Really, you are only in the presence of power.

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

* Board Chair, Sy Syms School of Business; Honorary Degree recipient; Treasurer, Board of Trustees — all at Yeshiva University.

The President on Schools like South Carolina State University.

According to [Congressional Black Caucus] members, [President Obama recently told them] that struggling HBCUs with low graduation rates are failing black students, and he reportedly said that the lowest-performing institutions “should fall by the wayside.”

“[C]oaching is the only form of dictatorship that isn’t frowned up[on] by the United Nations.”

Everybody’s talking about junk bond status Alabama State University’s brand new football coach, a man who makes Billy Gillispie, Bobby Knight, Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, and of course Mike Rice look like milquetoasts.

Alabama State is one of this blog’s stalwarts (put Alabama State University in my search engine) – a school so corrupt and mismanaged, with so farcical a crew of trustees, that the mind boggles. You might argue that it’s really not the sort of school that can afford another scandal – hiring a notorious head case to coach a team that a school with a 24% six year graduation rate shouldn’t be wasting the state’s money on anyway – but you’d be shouted down by all the people who think things are peachy there and that nothing’s more exciting than a brand new coach.

The last coach is suing, of course. But at least ASU’s got the amazing Brian Jenkins.

The writer writes.

Writes, like Oliver Sacks, his life, his dying, his death.

In a passage from his book about music and the brain, Sacks notes that he woke one morning with Mahler in his mind. He didn’t know it was Mahler.

I found something deeply disturbing and unpleasant about the music, and longed for it to stop. I had a shower, a cup of coffee, went for a walk, shook my head, played a mazurka on the piano – to no avail. The hateful hallucinatory music continued unabated. Finally I called a friend… and said that I was hearing songs that I could not stop, songs that seemed to me full of melancholy and a sort of horror. The worst thing, I added, was that the songs were in German, a language I did not know. [He] asked me to sing or hum some of the songs…

“Your mind is playing Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder,” he said, “his songs of mourning for the death of children.” I was amazed by this, for I rather dislike Mahler’s music and would normally find it quite difficult to remember in detail, let alone sing, any of his Kindertotenlieder. But here my dreaming mind, with infallible precision [the day before, Sacks had finished a stint on the children’s unit of a hospital], had come up with an appropriate symbol of the previous day’s events.

Leonard Bernstein calls Mahler’s Ninth “a sonic presentation of death itself. . . which paradoxically reanimates us every time we hear it.” No doubt some of the writing Sacks will now produce will have this quality.

Sacks has always been very good on the dreaming mind, which may be all the mind that we have, really… Joyce and Nabokov and Mahler voice this mind… to the extent that they can…

Fifty-Two Shades of Freundel.

America’s voyeur-professor-rabbi supreme pleads.

In our relentless quest, at University Diaries, to understand why some universities ruin themselves…

… via their athletics budgets, we sometimes go outside the realm of the university proper. We go to municipalities like Rapid City, South Dakota, whose mayor helps us understand university presidents who ruin their schools’ budgets by building massive half-empty barely-used football stadiums.

Mayor Kooiker is locked in epic facilities battle with Sioux Falls – just the way ruinous university presidents get themselves locked in facilities battles with rival institutions. A local columnist calls the mayor’s plan to expand the local civic center

a risky gambit for South Dakota’s second-largest city, where concern over losing state high school events to the Denny Sanford Premier Center has spawned a go-for-broke proposal that brings a Wild West audacity to the treatment of public funds.

Building a new arena and refurbishing the existing one within the civic center — creating a multipurpose facility that can be fitted for regulation football and seat as many as 19,000 for concerts — could cost taxpayers as much as $420 million by the time interest on the bonds is paid.

But once you know the deeper motives for the gambit, much becomes clear.

The fear … is that Sioux Falls will lure most major state high school tournaments because it has a state-of-the-art facility, more than double the city population of Rapid City and has consistently produced more revenue than its West River counterpart when hosting events in the past.

That’s a reasonable concern, especially after a South Dakota High School Activities Association survey showed that 52 percent of respondents considered Sioux Falls their first choice for a state tournament site, compared to 15 percent for Rapid City. That was before the Premier Center even opened, meaning the gap could widen.

Kooiker responded by showing up in Pierre to decry recent scrutiny into site selection as a conspiracy to favor the state’s largest city, which was not an original argument but impressive in its inanity nonetheless.

“This is about the closest I’ve seen to an overt effort to simply take all of the tournaments and put them in Sioux Falls,” said the mayor. “I would ask that that not happen.”

Reminded that high school student-athletes were a major part of the survey to gauge their opinion on creating the best possible tournament experience, Kooiker responded that kids “don’t know what they want at that age.”

Once you realize that there’s nothing rational about the gambit, and that the motives are childishness (for Kooiker to insult the “kids” is rich), paranoia, and mindless competitiveness, it’s easier to wrap your mind around the otherwise inexplicable behavior of some university presidents.

“From thrust you came; to thrust you shall…

… return.”

Life of the Mind…

Tennessee.

Stupid, Corrupt Auburn University…

… doesn’t even make any money out of being stupid and corrupt. In fact, it’s losing money.

This article quotes representative campus dullards who don’t understand why Auburn’s massive athletics program is currently bleeding over thirteen million dollars.

As with everything Auburn (scroll down), it’s good for a laugh.

Fond as we are, on this blog, of clerical hypocrites…

… the Rev Prebendary Stephen Green is obviously a major find – a much bigger find, indeed, than University Diaries has ever, uh, found. (A close contender is Monsignor Nunzio “Cinquecento” Scarano, but he didn’t run the bank the way Rev Green did.)

So far this blog has made do with the rad-rectitudinous team of Gordon Gee and Jim Tressel, plus (batting for UD‘s side) Yeshiva University trustees Ezra Merkin and Bernard Madoff. All of these men stand directly in the Elmer Gantry tradition, cloaking themselves in piety while engaging in antics that range from the morally despicable to, well, Madoff.

But Rev Green is made of bigger stuff than this, and he dovetails brilliantly with one of this blog’s most-used categories: Beware the B-School Boys. Banker and priest and tax evasion enabler extraordinaire, Green inspires the Guardian’s editorialists to rhetorical heights.

“Values,” wrote the Rev Prebendary Stephen Green, “go beyond ‘what you can get away with’.” Reassuring words from the part-time priest who for years ran one of the world’s biggest banks, before being brought into government by David Cameron. Courtesy of the HSBC files, however, we now know that this bank, when under his stewardship – first as chief exec, later as chair – was involved in concealing “black” accounts from the taxman, servicing the secretly stowed funds of corrupt businessmen and allowing the withdrawal of “bricks” of untraceable cash.

In the face of these ugly facts about his old bank’s Swiss operation, Lord Green has said only that it is for HSBC, and not for him, to comment on that institution’s past and current behaviour. No wonder. His obvious refuge would be to claim that, as the boss of a global business in London, he had other worries and could not be expected to know every detail of what distant colleagues in Geneva were up to. Sadly for him, this potential shelter took a battering from something else he wrote: “For companies, where does this [ethical] responsibility begin? With their boards, of course. There is no other task they have which is more important. It is their job … to promote and nurture a culture of ethical and purposeful business throughout the organisation.”

You can’t blame HSBC. What better cover for a tax evasion scam than an Anglican clergyman who writes books about morality?

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

Green is also “advising the archbishop of Canterbury on how to shake up the Church of England, advocating more vicars in an MBA mould.” Stay tuned!

Stop Me Before I Plagiarize Again!

Or don’t. Hire me for your newspaper after I’ve been exposed as a serial plagiarist at another newspaper. Then publish my repellent plagiarized views.

What’s next for a lifelong plagiarist and a man who “excuse[s] male violence against women because of ‘male disempowerment'”? This is a fascinating one to watch.

La Kid, Boston, This Afternoon.

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