‘Greece Edges Closer to Expulsion from World Football’

Now this is impressive. This UD must share with you; and in addition UD must bow to the Greek people.

To be so supremely gangrenous, so suppuratingly pus-ridden, as to face expulsion from arguably the world’s most infected body (FIFA!!); to be so persistently, so top-to-bottom violent — from gun-wielding team owners who rush the pitch and threaten referees, to alcoholic fascists in the stands who beat the shit out of everyone — is truly to have accomplished something grand.

But of course the expulsion will never happen. Did Hitler expel Goering from the party because he was too anti-semitic? In world football, you can’t be too corrupt or too violent.

University-Level Math, Greece.

[T]he Athens Special Affairs Unit carried out an inspection in the Development Grants Account of the National Technical University of Athens and found that during the years 2002-2013, the university submitted false income declarations and as a result it failed to pay 20,796,216 euros in tax returns.

“An irreplaceable repository of Greece’s literary history and heritage”…

… has gone under.

Hestia Publishers and Booksellers,

known as the Gallimard of Greece,
published the Greek translation
of Don DeLillo’s White Noise

greekwhitenoise

along with many other
great modern novels in
translation. It has
not been able to survive
the Greek economic fiasco.

An article attempting to account for the remarkable success of a new fascist party in Greece…

… reminds us about the continued reality of life at Greek universities.

Blogger Konstantinos Palaskas, a contributor to the liberal Ble Milo (Blue Apple) blog, says that the antics of [Greek] left-wing and anarchist troublemakers during protest marches and university and school occupations over the last 30 years, and the public’s acceptance of them, have significantly influenced the players of the new far-right.

“The left’s violent interventions, its disregard for the law, and the acceptance of its lawbreaking activity by a section of society – combined with the state’s tolerance of all this – were a lesson for people at the other end [of the political spectrum],” said Palaskas.

The habit forms at an early stage. The governing of universities has for years been hijacked by political parties and youth party officials. The country only recently scrapped an asylum law that prevented police from entering university campuses, hence allowing left-leaning activists to rampage through laboratories and lecture theaters.

Despite incidents of rectors being taken hostage, university offices being trashed and labs used for non-academic purposes, many Greeks remain uncomfortable with the idea of police entering university grounds …

Greece: Hopelessly out of it on higher education…

… and stubborn as a damn mule about it. The country runs a disgraceful state university system, but won’t give equal rights to private universities because it knows a monopoly when it sees one.

Many of the private schools are better than the state schools.

This is not hard to accomplish.

“The way [the private schools] operate reveals to Greek parents the ills of universities,” [the head of a group of private colleges] said, referring to the crowded classes and lax monitoring of student attendance often complained about in the state sector.

… “No other public sector university environment in the E.U. is as self-centered as Greece’s,” said Jens Bastian, a senior fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.

He said lack of competition had hindered innovation and led to many outstanding students and academics continuing their careers abroad.

“When did you last hear of a stand-out Greek research paper?” he said.

The EU has had it. They just sent the Greeks a letter saying they’re going to sic the European Court of Justice on them if they don’t join the rest of the world.

As Greece…

implodes, University Diaries readers may find her extensive coverage of the Greek university system of interest.

To find my posts about Greece, you can click on Foreign Universities (under Categories) and scroll through for Greek posts; you can also type Greece Universities or some similar phrase into her search engine.

Greek universities are only one of many arenas of outrageous public spending and outrageous corruption in that country. But they’re a very good entry point to the larger Greek economic failure.

After a spate of violent incidents, Greek football is…

back on track!

A Pathetic, Exclusively Masculine World of “Unbearable” Violence

Tunisia’s sports minister coins the term “stadium terrorism.” The FIFA representative reviewing the situation in Greece (he’ll be lucky to get out of Athens alive) calls it “unbearable that people are scared to go to a stadium.”

You never see women or children at many world soccer games. Before (on transportation to the games), during (at the games), and after (on the streets; in the pubs), the host city is on fire with drunk, rioting, gun-bearing men. Despite the measures governments have introduced (games played in empty stadia; tv blackouts; massive police presence and massive arrests; physical separation of opposing fans; targeting of known thugs and gangs) everything’s getting worse and worse and unbearably worse.

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Only it isn’t unbearable. Scores die after games, and cities are torched; armed black-shirted gangs rush the pitch during the game and go after referees. So what. FIFA – a virtually all-male, ridiculously corrupt organization – will do nothing about the latest atrocity in Greece. It’s bearable. It’s all bearable. It’s all boys incorrigibly and escalatingly being boys.

And when it gets even worse – when players and referees are beaten to death during games televised all over the world – FIFA will still do nothing. Unfathomable amounts of money are being made, a lot of it by that organization’s corrupt officials. No one’s going to mess with a good thing.

With the dirtiest and scariest of weaponized Russian oligarchs and their weaponized thugs charging onto the field and threatening the life of a referee, Greek soccer isn’t very family-friendly.

Hell, it isn’t even very non-weaponized thug-friendly.

Terrified spectators are scattering.

Greek soccer has been plagued by pitch invasions and violence on and off the pitch for years and authorities have repeatedly promised to clean up the game.

However, attendances have dwindled and this season only four clubs in the 16-team top division have posted average attendances of more than 5,000 spectators per league game.

In their own defense, referees will soon start packing heat, so that we can expect to see the kind of on-field fire fights that will, to be sure, remain attractive to a certain audience demographic (i.e., fans who also pack, and who can’t wait to join the fun), but will alienate any remaining non-weaponized spectators. Thus the 3,000 or so people who show up for most of the current matches will dwindle to a few hundred fully outfitted maniacs.

But hey. Gangs are people, too.

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

Corruption, referee intimidation, fan violence has been pandemic for years in Greece.

‘The rector of the University, Achilleas Zapranis, said that this was “another typical day in a Greek university”.’

What a remarkable story is the ransacking of Greek universities! On one side, civilization; on the other barbarism:

Vandals Ransack University Campus in Thessaloniki

The Greek university literally sinks under the weight of its defacement, as in this photograph of the National Technical University of Athens.

Perhaps most remarkable about this story is the fact that no one covers it. Why isn’t there a front-page story about the sordid erasure of thought – in Greece of all places – in the New York Times magazine?

“The court heard of the building and refurbishing of luxury villas, the acquisition of expensive cars such as a Ferrari, holidays on exotic locations and so on – paid from university funds.”

When it comes to university presidents looting their schools, America lags well behind Greece, where the chancellor of Pandio University set the standard by leading (he was only found guilty of failing to note the illegal removal of ten million dollars of university funds, but he seems to have personally benefited from said removal) an extensive conspiracy of robber-administrators. The Greek state gave the school money; the school’s leadership took the money – that seems to have been the straightforward approach – and bought the stuff listed in this post’s headline.

Here in the States, the business of leaders draining millions and billions of university funds is more subtle, more complicated. President Lawrence Summers’ mad insane interest rate speculation cost Harvard one billion dollars but I mean … you know … he meant well. Yeshiva University’s trustees no doubt thought they were enriching the school as much as themselves by their extensive conflicts of interest coupled with avid investments in pieces of work like fellow trustee Bernie Madoff. In the event, they cost the school $1.3 billion.

Not that we don’t boast a few Greek-style university presidents. Karen Pletz, while president of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, allegedly paid for her Lexus convertible and a series of amazing foreign trips by the simple expedient of removing what these things cost from the university’s reserves and placing those sums in her private account.

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James Ramsey, now routinely described as the disgraced ex-president of the University of Louisville, stands somewhere between high-minded removalists like Summers and flat-out Ferrari larcenists. UL let him, over the years, grow to a big strapping tyrant with his fingers all over every money source available at this public institution in one of America’s poorest states.

I say let him, but as Pandio and other examples suggest, it takes a village to pillage. Ramsey surrounded himself with what one retired UL professor, reviewing the school’s sordid history, calls fellow pirates – people who took as much pleasure in pillaging as he, and who of course had no cause to expose his piratical deeds.

Dennis Menezes, who spent almost forty years at the U of Smell, takes a sentimental journey through some highlights:

Robert Felner, the former education who ended up doing jail time for misappropriating millions of dollars; Alisha Ward siphoning of hundreds of thousands of dollars from U of L’s Equine Industry Program; “Sweetheart contracts” at the College of Business, where administrators continued to receive their significantly higher salaries even after stepping down from their administrative positions, a practice rarely seen at other universities; the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen by Perry Chadwyck Vaughn at the School of Medicine…

At some point the leadership of a university gets so notoriously filthy that career criminals like Felner make a point of applying to work there, thus amplifying the pirate-load. I mean to say that when Menezes tries to puzzle out what makes a university a criminal enterprise, he fails to land on the obvious: Once your university is known to tolerate – nay, encourage – piracy, pirates from all over the world get on board.

The journey to just awful is smoothed by other campus assets, in particular — natch — sports. Let me suggest how this probably works at places like U of L, where, you recall, an entire sports dorm was transformed into a whorehouse for the use of recruits and their fathers. The pattern at sex-crime-crazed places like Penn State, Baylor, and Louisville is for the president to be invisible while the AD, the actual president of the school, does whatever the fuck he and his massive program like. At criminal enterprises like U of L, a president like Ramsey actively takes advantage, let’s say, of all the big scandalous sports noise in the foreground to quietly do his removalist thing.

More than that, enormous sports programs tend to bring quite a few truly scummy and twisted people to a campus and reward those people with enormous salaries and enormous respect (if they win games). Over time the powerful and often scummy sports contingent defines the ethos of the whole university, as in: Jerry Sandusky was EMERITUS PROFESSOR Sandusky at Penn State, I’ll have you know. UD attended a Knight Commission meeting in DC where a coach at a local university stood up and insisted that athletic staff at American universities should have professor status. “They’re educators as much as anyone else. It’s elitist to think otherwise.” So athletics, at many universities including Louisville, certainly does its bit to vulgarize and corrupt everyone, making it much easier for already sketchy people like Ramsey to assume they’re living in a sleaze-friendly world.

UD ain’t saying you must have a big sports program for endemic corruption, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Anyway. This post is long enough. We’ll be following U of L as they try to decide whether it’s worth suing Ramsey and his pirate crew to get back some of the many millions they removed. We’ll also follow U of L’s difficult effort to find a new president. Would you want to preside over a school suing your predecessor for millions of dollars? Hell, the thing could even end up in criminal court.

Update, Greek Universities

As for student representation in the Rectorate, this is another privilege given to students that essentially ties the hands of university administrations. Students seldom agree with administration decisions. For instance, the issue of hiring private security staff for campuses in 2014 was met with violent reactions from party youths. No security staff was ever hired. As for Rectors and Rectorates, they cannot even report thefts taking place in campuses. When computers are stolen from university premises, university administrations report that “they are missing,” because theft is too strong a word to use.

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Can’t argue with the results.

“There is a sense that the university is reeling.”

UD hasn’t encountered many totally corrupt American universities. We’re not like Italy and Greece, where one can find schools whose main function is to transfer all available funds to the institution’s leadership. The closest we’ve come is the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and even there they’ve had to shutter much of their shake-down operation after endless unpleasantness with the FBI. (I’m of course talking here only about legitimate universities. The for-profit tax syphons are almost entirely about transfer of all possible funds to management and investors. Whole other category.)

But the University of Louisville, some of whose students and faculty, as a local reporter notes, are “reeling” from one financial or sexual scandal after another, is emerging as America’s new UMDNJ. And it might be instructive to pause at its latest scandal – high-level med school resignations in the wake of an FBI investigation into allegations that (in the words of the only worthwhile UL trustee – a man who subsequently left the board in disgust) a university vice president “owns a piece of a company getting paid by a part of the university that he controls.” It’s alleged that he and several of his UL cronies have essentially stolen around eight million dollars from the university.

No bid contracts and bogus high-paying jobs to friends and family also seem to be part of this particular scandal. But that’s the typical threesome at corrupt schools, where no one’s around to stop you from total corruption:

1. conflict of interest for personal enrichment;
2. no bid contracts to cronies (these often feature kickbacks to you);
3. the creation of pretend jobs for cronies and relatives.

At schools like UL, you don’t do just one or two of these things; you do them all.

How does a school become systemically rotten in the way UL is systemically rotten? How did things get so out of control in virtually all areas of the school’s operation? (I’m not even going to talk about UL athletics, which has been a sewer for years.)

If you ask UD, this can only happen when absolute ignorance of – maybe even contempt for – the nature of a university prevails not only in parts of the local culture (that y’all and shut ma mouth land) but in the president’s office and on the board of trustees. UMDNJ was run by brainless Jersey wise guys; UL seems to be run by corporate backslappers. Even now, with the school in absolute tatters, UL has chosen as its spokesperson a look on the sunny side nitwit who attacks the press for its negativism, denies anything’s the matter, and says stuff that’s too stupid to parse:

“I’m not willing to cross that bridge and give you any information that’s going to appease your accusations.”

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

A school run – flamboyantly run – largely to make money for the people who lead it will attract unsavory people. Unsavory people want to work at places like UL, since it seems unlikely that anyone at the institution will impede their corrupt activities. This is the way that corrupt schools stay corrupt, and indeed tend to become more corrupt. They attract corrupt people.

UD predicts that UL will, under this extraordinary pressure, finally ditch its president, who has lost all vestige of institutional control. But getting rid of him will cost the school many millions of dollars, and the chance of replacing him with anyone better is small.

Cool.

UD‘s favorite Don DeLillo novel, The Names, is being made into a film.

It took UD many readings to warm up to – to begin to understand – this moody broody beautifully written book. Indeed its hyper-seriousness means I think that the main problem the director will encounter is avoiding pretentiousness.

Then again, film isn’t such a great medium for big ideas (see for instance Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being), so maybe the writer and director will opt to avoid the various philosophies of language in the book… a book which, now that I think of it, could have been titled The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Both Kundera and DeLillo are interested in how people ground their lives and stop drifting about in the pleasant or unpleasant white noise of postmodernity. The Names is full of archeologists desperately digging under the earth for meaning, presence, authenticity, a sense of grounded existence; it is also full of international security consultants constantly up over the earth, flying from world capital to world capital as they write their reports for corporations wanting to know if it’s safe to do business in Karachi…

There’s a third existential location in the novel: Greece. That’s where the American narrator, James Axton, lives and works; and as a typically white noisy American, he gazes throughout the narrative at the achieved, grounded lives of the Greeks – neither low nor high, but simply here, on the earth.

Laundry hung in the walled gardens, always this sense of realized space, common objects, domestic life going on in that sculpted hush. Stairways bent around houses, disappearing. It was a sea chamber raised to the day, to the detailing light, a textured pigment on the hills. There was something artless and trusting in the place despite the street meanders, the narrow turns and ravels. Striped flagpoles and aired-out rugs, houses joined by closed wooden balconies, plants in battered cans, a willingness to share the oddments of some gathering-up. Passageways captured the eye with one touch, a sea green door, a handrail varnished to a nautical gloss. A heart barely beating in the summer heat, and always the climb, the small birds in cages, the framed approaches to nowhere. Doorways were paved with pebble mosaics, the terrace stones were outlined in white.

A good film could do a lot, visually, with the contrast between that sort of scene and this one:

At the boarding gate, the last of the static chambers, the stillness is more compact, the waiting narrowed. He will notice hands and eyes, the covers of books, a man with a turban and netted beard. The crew is Japanese, the security Japanese… He hears Tamil, Hindi, and begins curiously to feel a sense of apartness, something in the smell of the place, the amplified voice in the distance. It doesn’t feel like earth. And then aboard, even softer seats. He will feel the systems running power through the aircraft, running light, running air. To the edge of the stratosphere, world hum, the sudden night. Even the night seems engineered, Japanese, his brief sleep calmed by the plane’s massive heartbeat.

Newspaper poem.

The source of the poem is here.

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

What Will Survive of Us Is Love

A team of excavators find
Bony lovers intertwined.

Flickering light illumes
Their prior-day Arundel Tomb.

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

Atop a terraced slope,
Their bodies yield to isotope:

The crania of their burial bones
Have been pelted by occultic stones.

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