Monday, February 28, 2005
UD hasn’t seen Million Dollar Baby. She hasn’t read the F. X. Toole story on which it’s based. But she’s intrigued by what she hears of the use of Yeats in the film.
Her Twentieth Century Irish Literature students know the “Lake Isle of Innisfree” poem the Eastwood character recites, having sat through their professor’s recitation and praise of it. But the Yeats poem they’ve read the most this semester is this one:
WHO GOES WITH FERGUS?
Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood's woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love's bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all disheveled wandering stars.
My students encounter this Yeats poem more than any other because Stephen Dedalus is haunted by its lines. They come back to him all day and all night as he wanders Dublin, disheveled. He sang them to his mother as she was dying.
“Innisfree” and “Fergus” are similar. They imagine a realm, or a mental state, of escape from the sufferings of the world. The realm is ill-defined, but Dedalus will only be able to enter it through the act of imaginative creation - through the aesthetic clarification of himself and his history and his setting. This act of creation is also an act of love, the re-animation of the loved dead.
From what UD hears of Million Dollar Baby, it seems that Yeats lends the film a lyric broodiness: “It seems fortuitous that Frankie is an admirer of William Butler Yeats,” A.O. Scott wrote in his New York Times review, “who in his later years developed a style of unadorned, disillusioned eloquence and produced some of his greatest poems: lyrics that are simple, forceful and not afraid of risking cliché. Late in the film, in his darkest hour, Frankie reads from ''The Lake Isle of Innisfree,'' the younger Yeats's pastoral dream of flight and transformation, a choice that makes sense in context.
Mr. Eastwood himself, though, is closer to the sensibility of a late poem like ''The Circus Animals' Desertion,'' whose famous image of ''the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart'' might describe Frankie's gym. Or there is this stanza, from one of Yeats's ''Last Poems,'' called ''The Apparitions,'' which seems to me to capture the paradoxical spirit, at once generous and mournful, of this old master, Mr. Eastwood, and his new masterpiece:
When a man grows old his joy
Grows more deep day after day,
His empty heart is full at length
But he has need of all that strength
Because of the increasing Night
That opens her mystery and fright.”
But the film, despite what some critics of it say, does not sound to UD like a nihilistic or hopelessly depressive sort of thing. “The film,“ Scott writes, “rarely shifts its gaze from its three main characters, who glow with a fierce individuality and whose ways of speaking unlock the poetry that still lives in the plain American vernacular.” That is the aesthetic self-realization Dedalus is after: mournful, as Stephen is mournful throughout Ulysses, but achieving also, as Leopold Bloom does, the loving generosity of the realized self.
SYLLABUM OMNIUM REVISITED|
For background, see UD, 11/14/04, 4/2/04, and 7/4/04 - or, as a shortcut, simply type "syllabum omnium" into the search feature above.
Inside Higher Ed chimes in on what UD has called the "syllabum omnium" problem in American colleges and universities. Here's some of what Terry Caesar has to say:
' How can we explain why such excruciatingly detailed syllabi are now mandatory for each course? Simple: to defend against legal challenges by students -- most obviously concerning grades but finally encompassing any conceivable matter having to do with evaluation. Consequently, a professor faces opening day before students like a defense attorney preparing an opening statement to the jury.
But why have so many syllabi swelled to such length? The existence of syllabi as legal documents might explain why they have come into requisite being in the first place. It does not wholly explain why they have becomes encrusted with such details as the instructor's cell, the new assistant dean's office number, or links to all manner of Web sites.
It seems to me that we have become unsure about what not to put on syllabi because we have become unsure what a course is. It is no longer self-contained. My behavior decades ago on opening day was so carefree as to seem irresponsible today. It is as if the course was mine and mine alone. Of course it was not. For starters, it was the department's. But I felt as if the course was mine, if only because there were no assistant deans to which any students had recourse if they flunked the mid-term, and there were no e-mails to remind me to turn in two copies of each of my syllabi to the department secretary.
Today the more syllabus-heavy a course, I would argue, the more context-dependent. The course is now viewed as part of a department, the department is part of a program, the program is part of a division, the division is part of an institution, and so on. So when a syllabus details criteria for grading, or methods of instruction today, it is not merely about the course anymore. The syllabus is burdened with a definition of a course so expanded that the very existence of an individual instructor threatens to become effaced.
The various imperatives that govern the disposition of any one course are far more decisive. Indeed, part of the consequence of these imperatives is to act, in turn, to characterize the teacher as an "instructor" rather than as a "professor." In fact, the instructor of any one course is likely to be an adjunct, since upwards of half of the college-level courses taught throughout the United States at the present time are taught by adjuncts. This fact alone provides much of the reason why syllabi have become so important.
...Among many possible morals, let me emphasize one: a syllabus is not a script. As a legal document, it may backfire. As a pedagogic statement, it will be incomplete. The forces that surround syllabi -- ranging from deans down the hall to mandates from the state capitol -- are now too powerful. Not only can they not be resisted, but in many cases, they cannot even be determined, until the semester begins. There is a distinct sense in which the most detailed syllabi, whether by design or not, act to defer the beginning of the semester to a timeless moment, when all is fresh and new, the curtain is ever about to rise, and everybody is on the same page.
Who has not dreamt of such a moment? Sad to have to admit that the dream is vain. Any syllabus is fated to yield to the messy circumstances of its course, with results that cannot be predicted. This is reason enough to be against syllabi; their presentation of a course as a fully reasoned, systematically organized thing is spurious. A course that is only its syllabus, day after day, is a course where spontaneity, improvisation, and risk have been banished. The loss is too great. '
UD would only add a couple of things to this. First, she would again (she does this all the time) quote Clifford Geertz reflecting on his academic career -- a career, he notes, seldom possible today:
"All I know is that, up until just a few years ago, I blithely, and perhaps a bit fatuously, used to tell students and younger colleagues who asked how to get ahead in our odd occupation that they should stay loose, take risks, resist the cleared path, avoid careerism, go their own way, and that if they did so, if they kept at it and remained alert, optimistic, and loyal to the truth, my experience was that they could ... have a valuable life, and nonetheless prosper. I don't do that any more."
Second, UD will share with you, her lucky reader, a prose sample she found online in a current syllabum omnium. This one's from a course on deviance that a professor at Rutgers offers. (This professor recently made all the papers when she invited a man who killed two police officers to chat with her class about his life challenges.):
' Assignment 1 Doing Deviance
Do a deviant act or engage in some form of deviant behavior. The act or behavior must not violate the law (criminal or civil law, municipal ordinance, or vehicle code) and it must not violate University regulations. Failure to heed this warning will result in a F for the assignment and referral to the Deans Office and if warranted to the office of the prosecutor. '
Sunday, February 27, 2005
ADDENDUM TO |
'HEAP BIG TROUBLE,'
UD'S POST OF 2/15/05
Here's a nicely written opinion piece by Gail Schoettler, "a former U.S. ambassador, Colorado lieutenant governor and treasurer, and Douglas County school board member." Schoettler summarizes the many non-Ward Churchill problems that beset the University of Colorado, and that no doubt account, this year, for a major plunge in the number of applications. A sample:
' But CU's real problem is ... the problems! CU has had a year-long barrage of negative publicity, from football-recruitment scandals to being the country's No. 1 party school, to alcohol-related student deaths. Once these stories gain momentum, it's difficult to stop them. They circulate widely as the nation's press jumps on them, making parents think hard before sending their children off to a school allegedly drenched in alcohol and sex. '
ONE OCTAVE DOWN|
Pam Bricker, a well-known local jazz singer, as well as a voice instructor and member of GW University’s music faculty, killed herself a few days ago.
Bricker helped organize a Friday afternoon jazz session on campus that a number of UD’s students, knowing UD to be a singer, urged her to attend. Had she gone last week, she’d have met Bricker; but UD, still suffering from a bad cold, didn’t go.
‘Always the professional,’ one of Bricker’s students remembers, ‘Pam once gave me a mild reprimand for trying to reschedule a [voice] lesson [with her] because of a cold. “Come on, Chien, you can sing through a cold. You can’t cancel just because of that. Colds can make people sound better, sexier.”’
UD knows what Bricker meant. With her current cold, for instance, UD’s singing has gone all dusky, and though she’s eager to regain her soprano, she finds this one-octave-down sound interesting too.
One octave down. At the moment the phrase seems a way to capture both the sequence by which a singer descends into serious depression, as Bricker apparently did, and the way one ought to sing, now, in memory of her.
‘Let it be told,’ writes another contributor to her memorial website, ‘that sometimes our song is stronger than the spirit that writes the melodies. The human musical conversation that makes our artistry so special can be the very thing that is our source of pain.’
This rather enigmatic comment put UD in mind of a poem James Merrill wrote in memory of a friend.
Art. It cures affliction. As lights go down and
Maestro lifts his wand, the unfailing sea change
starts within us. Limber alembics once more
make of the common
Lot a pure, brief gold. At the end our bravos
call them back, sweat-soldered and leotarded,
back, again back - anything not to face the
fact that it’s over.
You are gone. You’d caught like a cold their airy
lust for essence. Now, in the furnace parched to
ten or twelve light handfuls, a mortal gravel
sifted through fingers,
Coarse yet grayly glimmering sublimate of
palace days, Strauss, Sidney, the lover’s plaintive
Can’t we just be friends? which your breakfast phone call
Clothed in amusement,
This is what we paddled a neighbor’s dinghy
out to scatter - Peter who grasped the buoy,
I who held the box underwater, freeing
all it contained. Past
Sunny, fluent soundings that gruel of selfhood
taking manlike shape for one last jete on
ghostly - wait, ah! - point into darkness vanished.
High up, a gull’s wings
Clapped. The house lights (always supposing, caro,
Earth remains your house) at their brightest set the
scene for good: true colors, the sun-warm hand to
cover my wet one …
Back they come. How you would have loved it. We in
turn have risen. Pity and terror done with,
programs furled, lips parted, we jostle forward
eager to hail them,
More, to join the troupe - will a friend enroll us
one fine day? Strange, though. For up close their magic
self-destructs. Pale, dripping, with downcast eyes they’ve
seen where it led you.
Update: The Washington Post's obituary.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
WARD CHURCHILL |
Via Ralph E. Luker, UD finds that the University of Colorado is considering offering Ward Churchill a “buy-out” of his contract. However this goes, it’s clear that once again Churchill will remain faithful to his anti-capitalist creed:
‘ David Lane, Churchill's attorney, said he has not been contacted about a buyout offer. But, he said, while his primary focus is on protecting Churchill's constitutional right to speak out, he would be willing to listen to a university proposal. "If they offer $10 million, I would think about it. If they offer him $10, I wouldn't," Lane said.” ’
Here’s something else in the Denver Post article that caught UD’s eye:
‘ Regents, who may one day be called upon to vote on Churchill's job, are upset about the daily publicity over the controversial professor, saying it could cause long-term damage to CU's reputation. "The possible damage to the university this controversy has created will take years to recover from," said Regent Peter Steinhauer. ’
True enough, but even if it manages to chuck Churchill, CU has about ten other ongoing and majorly damaging controversies left to deal with (see UD…oh forget it. There are too many posts on this subject to list. Just type the word “Colorado” into that Search feature up there…).
SUMMERS AND SMOKE|
And speaking of corporate consulting (see post directly below), Larry Summers’s consultants are doing a bang-up job. UD is all for his keeping the presidency of Harvard, however he has to go about that, and she’s impressed with the take-no-prisoners approach his consultants have adopted toward that end.
In particular, if today’s New York Times feature on Summers is anything to go by, his people have advised that Summers urgently needs to feminize his image, to stress his sensitivity and his capacity for suffering.
Consider, for example, the photograph that accompanies the article. It’s a big photo, taking up more than half of the top of page A9, and it shows Summers in his office, seated in a classic pensive pose, his soft eyes fixed on the middle distance and his chin cupped by a loosely curving hand. Lost in the Faulknerian half-light that plays gently upon the white shutters and the soft chairs and the wisteria, he sits alone and infinitely vulnerable.
UD found this photograph similar to one she’d seen years ago, and, thanks to Google Image, she was able to come up with what she suspects was indeed its model.
Edith Piaf was old and fragile when this picture was taken. But there’s the same mottled light playing on her sensitive features and her bent body, and on her pale face there’s the same pained introspective gaze…
(A final cautionary note. Although the consultants seem to be on the right track with Summers, UD doubts that they were right to advise him to wrap up the NYT interview in the way that he reportedly did. When his conversation with the reporter began to lag, Summers apparently tottered over to a cupboard in his office, took out two miniature trucks, and began playing with them on the floor. “Look. Look,” he said to the astonished reporter. “This big truck is the Daddy Truck. This little truck is the Baby Truck.”)
KAREN HITCHCOCK PRESENTS...|
...an extremely clear example of "corporate denial consulting."
Readers may remember UD's posting of Gregg Easterbrook's lovely end-of-year holiday letter from a 'thesdan [for a definition of this word, see UD, 12/17/04] woman to her friends [for the letter, see UD, 12/30/04], in which she summed up the many impressive accomplishments of herself and her family over the preceding twelve months.
Some readers may have been confused by this woman's description of her husband's job:
"Corporate denial consulting turns out to be a perfect career niche for Chad. Fortune 500 companies are calling him all the time. There's a lot to deny and Chad is good at it."
Hitchcock, the ex-president of Number One Party School SUNY Albany [see UD, 8/25/04 and 8/30/04], has hired an amazing corporate denial consultant to handle the growing controversy about whether her hurried departure from the presidency of that university had anything to do with a rumored deal she offered a developer -- in exchange for her sending some major campus business his way, he would endow for her a very lucrative chair. Her departure was oddly impetuous, some people are claiming, because she knew that New York State law allows you to avoid ethics investigations if you get the hell out of your job before formal action is taken.
Anyway, here's Hitchcock's corporate denial consultant. Note the ferocity and frequency of his denials:
' ...Dr. Hitchcock's lawyer, Mr. Whiteman, denied that she gave up any accrued vacation time, and said that she did not in any way move to expedite her departure to avoid an ethics inquiry. He said the charge that she tried to arrange a quid-pro-quo deal to ensure a job made no sense, since as a tenured professor, she would be guaranteed a job at the university, even after leaving as president. [UD: Yeah, but how much money would that job pay? As we know from earier UD posts - as on 1/10/04 - many American university presidents expect to maintain, apres-prez, the opulent lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.] "She made no such proposal," Mr. Whiteman said. "She engaged in no conversation along those lines with anyone and she didn't authorize anybody to engage in one on her behalf. She is totally unaware of any such conversation." '
A veritable flurry of negatives. A tour de force of corporate denial.
Friday, February 25, 2005
UD has already said ...|
... in connection with Ward Churchill’s terminal Master's degree, that she’s got a liberal policy on the question of whether faculty members at colleges and universities absolutely must have Ph.D.s.
But faculty members do have to have accomplished something to be hired - let alone promoted all the way up:
‘ SCHOOL CAN’T LOCATE CHURCHILL’S THESIS
U. of Illinois officials not sure if master's paper was required
By Berny Morson
Rocky Mountain News
February 23, 2005
University of Illinois officials said Tuesday they can't locate Ward Churchill's master's thesis and aren't sure if he was required to write one.
The embattled University of Colorado ethnic-studies professor claims undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Illinois' Springfield campus, which was known as Sangamon State University until 1995. Springfield is in Sangamon County.
University of Illinois at Springfield spokeswoman Cheryl Peck confirmed that Churchill received a bachelor's degree in 1974 and a master's degree in 1975. But no thesis is on file, she said.
"We can't say for sure he didn't write one," Peck said. It is not clear if a thesis was a requirement at the time Churchill received the degree in communications, she said.
CU spokeswoman Pauline Hale said she did not know if faculty members inquired about Churchill's thesis in 1991 before giving him tenure.
Documents released last week by CU indicate some faculty members had reservations about granting tenure to a professor who lacked a doctorate.
The documents are silent on a master's thesis.
On Tuesday, Illinois faculty members described Sangamon State - in the 1970s, when Churchill attended - as focused on innovative teaching methods, including an emphasis on social issues of the day.
The campus did not have academic departments. Instead, faculty members were rostered under interdisciplinary groupings, including Churchill's major, communications in a technological society.
Students could major in traditional subjects, such as history or English, but they could also design their own majors in consultation with the faculty.
Larry Golden, a political scientist and one of the original professors when Sangamon opened in 1970, said the school was not as freewheeling as it sounds.
Proposals for self-designed majors were given extensive faculty review, he said.
The campus served only juniors, seniors and master's-degree students. They would have taken the standard courses at a two-year college before coming to Sangamon.
The program included an "applied-studies term," in which students earned credit by working off campus. Projects ranged from working with a state legislator to community organizing.
The students were required to take part in a seminar and write journals or term papers as part of the program, Golden said.
"You couldn't just go to an anti-war rally in Washington and say, 'That's my experience,' " Golden said. '
These dipshit degrees always have guys like Golden around to defend them. Sangamon State circa 1970 sounds like a diploma mill with certification.
The continued unraveling of Ward Churchill’s Gatsby-like life will eventually, UD predicts, do some good for academic standards in the nation's universities... Meanwhile, though, the American professoriate couldn't, in its most self-destructive nightmares, have conjured anything like the non-stop nihilism which is Ward Churchill.
Robin Givhan nails it! |
These are exactly UD’s reasons
for wearing so much black.
[See UD, 10/14/04.]
' CONDOLEEZZA RICE'S COMMANDING CLOTHES
By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2005; Page C01
Rice challenges expectations and assumptions. There is undeniable authority in her long black jacket with its severe details and menacing silhouette. The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding. Black is the color of intellectualism, of abstinence, of penitence. If there is any symbolism to be gleaned from Rice's stark garments, it is that she is tough and focused enough for whatever task is at hand. '
WAIT TIL THEY FIND OUT |
HE'S REALLY SELA WARD.
' An exclusive report by CBS4 News indicates embattled University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill may have broken copyright law by making a mirror image of an artist's work and selling it as his own.
Placing Churchill's work beside that of renown artist Thomas E. Mails and the two look like mirror images. But one is a copyrighted drawing. The other is an autographed print by Churchil.
When CBS4 News tried to talk to Churchill about a possible copyright infringement, we received an angry response.
"Get that camera out of my face," Churchill said.
CBS4 News reporter Raj Chohan: "This is an artwork we've got called 'Winter Attack.' It looks like it was based on a Thomas Mails painting, It looks like you ripped it off. Can you tell us about that?"
That prompted Churchill to take a swing at Chohan.
The exchange continued:
Chohan: "Sir, that's assault, you can't do that. Can I ask you about this? It looks like you copied it."
Churchill: "I was just grabbed by the arm. Get that out of my face."
Chohan: "Sir, we're allowed to take pictures, this is a public space."
Churchill: "He's not allowed to grab my arm."
Chohan: "He didn't touch you sir, we've got it all on tape. Sir, this is called Winter Attack. Its an artwork by you. It looks like it was copied from Thomas Mails artwork. Can we talk to you about that please?"
Churchill made the serigraph in question in 1981 and called it "Winter Attack." He printed 150 copies and sold one of them to Duke Prentup for about $100.
"[I] have enjoyed them ever since, immensely," Prentup said. "They're, obviously, up in my house."
But last month came a stunning revelation. As Prentup flipped through a book of illustrations by reknown artist Thomas E. Mails, he found an artwork of striking similarity.
"And I opened it up and, wham! There it was," Prentup said. "Its the exact same thing, only mirror image, virtually to every detail."
The pen and ink sketch by Thomas Mails first appeared in his 1972 masterpiece, "The Mystic Warriors of the Plains."
Compare it side-by-side to the serigraph by Churchill, created some 20 years later: the composition, the images, the placement are nearly identical.
Intellectual property attorney Jim Hubbell said its clearly no accident.
"Its very obvious that the Churchill piece was taken directly from the Mails piece," Hubbell said. "There's just too many similarities between the two for it to have been coincidence."
Several minutes after our first encounter with Churchill, he emerged from his office and was willing to talk. He acknowledged his artwork was based on the Thomas Mails piece. And, he said he disclosed that during his initial release of the serigraph.
"It is an original art work by me, after Thomas Mails," Churchill said. "The fact that the purchaser was ignorant of the reality of what was perfectly publicly stated at the time the edition was printed is not my responsibility."
A closer examination of the Churchill piece revealed there is no credit given to the original artist. And, Churchill refused to provide us with documentation that would prove his claims.
But even if its exists, it wouldn't be enough to protect Churchill from copyright infringement unless he had permission from the copyright holder.
"Unless there was consent for Churchill to do the piece, then there is a copyright infringement here," Hubbell said.
CBS4 contacted the son of the late Thomas Mails by phone. He said the family still holds the original copyrights.
"My father invested a great deal of himself in his work, and from that he developed a great fierceness in defending his work," Mails' son said. "I cannot imagine he would ever grant permission to anyone to copy one of his pieces."
A quick Internet search indicates a number of Churchill pieces selling on E-bay, including another copy of "Winter Attack." Certainly, part of the buzz for these art works is the ongoing controversy surrounding Churchill.
University of Colorado regents are investigating Churchill's work at the university. They're expected to return a decision on whether he's violated tenure by early March. '
Thursday, February 24, 2005
IT IS THE EVENING OF THE DAY...|
...and the Yale sit-in story is just beginning to be covered in the press. Here's tomorrow's New York Times:
" Princeton got rid of undergraduate loans four years ago, and today its students on aid graduate with a mere $400 of debt. Harvard no longer asks low-income parents to pay anything, and its application pool broke records this year. But at Yale, students have been waiting, to little avail, for something similarly dramatic to happen.
Yesterday their patience ran out. From morning to night, dozens of students protested in and around the university's admissions office, prompting the staff to lock its doors in the face of some confused parents who had brought their children to tour the campus.
...The student protesters, perhaps 150 in all, said they merely wanted Yale to do what so many of its rivals have already done: scale back, and perhaps even eliminate, the amount that low- and middle-income students have to pay.
At a time when college costs are steadily rising, the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia seem to be racing each other to eliminate loans for larger and larger slices of the low-income population. Rice has started to follow suit, while Brown has eliminated work-study for freshmen and replaced it with scholarships.
"We expect Yale to be a leader on this, not behind everyone else," said Julia C. Gonzales, 21, a senior from Texas.
The protest came less than two days after Yale's president, Richard C. Levin, told an audience of students that he was, in fact, just a few weeks away from making "some serious moves" on the financial aid front, precisely because so many of the university's competitors already had, The Yale Daily News reported.
"We don't want to be left behind," Mr. Levin told the crowd on Tuesday, making a sit-in seem like a waste of energy to some university officials.
Mr. Levin's meeting with students appeared to end so inconclusively that many were just as angry as they had been beforehand, if not more so. In letters to The Yale Daily News yesterday, one student accused Mr. Levin of showing the "utmost of condescension" toward students on financial aid. Another said Mr. Levin had "matter-of-factly dismissed the hundreds of students" who could barely pay tuition.
Yale's undergraduate applications dropped by 1.2 percent for the 2004-05 school year, a notable exception to the double-digit increases experienced by many other Ivy League institutions. Yale officials said the decrease was "insignificant," reflecting nothing more than market fluctuations.
Harvard and Princeton, by contrast, experienced 15 and 20 percent increases respectively in applications for this year, and both credited additional financial aid as a major reason for the increase. "
UD salutes the students at Yale, who recognize that with a ten billion dollar plus endowment, their university is perfectly able -- assuming an authentic interest in economic diversity -- to pay the way for smart students who can't afford its outrageous price.
But the student protesters should also be aware that, once Yale does the right thing (and UD is sure it will), there's little chance needier students will apply to the school in significant numbers. If Harvard's experience so far is anything to go by, even offering free tuition to students from poorer backgrounds won't get many of them to apply. (The uptick in applications that the New York Times notes does not include many students from lower middle class homes.) For some reasons why the demographics of the Ivy League are unlikely to change, read Walter Kirn's essay in The Atlantic [also see UD, 1/21/05].
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
MORE WARD CHURCHILL|
“I AIN’T NO INDIAN” FALLOUT
Eastern Washington University’s cancellation of Ward Churchill - and its simultaneous decision to stand by its invitation to Ron Jeremy, penile performer supreme - has created an uproar on campus and off.
‘ The Easterner [the student newspaper of Eastern Washington University -- for background, see UD, 2/7/05] filed a public records request Feb. 11, per RCW 42.17.310, access to a copy of all e-mails, memos, reports, purchase orders and other materials regarding Jeremy or Churchill. This request included all e-mails, threatening and non-threatening, sent to the administration, faculty, campus police or staff offices of EWU. The Easterner was granted access to the public records Feb. 18. ’
The newspaper then quotes from some of these emails. Here’s one, from an English professor at EWU:
“As a non-Native instructor leading a room full of students who will also be primarily non-Native, I cannot replace the learning opportunity that Churchill’s visit would offer to my students.”’
As he confirmed today in his speech in Hawaii, Ward Churchill isn’t Native. He has the same ethnicity as this professor and most of her students.
But since this professor seems to believe that the mere possession of an ethnicity different from oneself and one’s students guarantees a “learning opportunity,” UD proposes that she find a real Indian and put him on display in her classroom.
SELA WARD/WARD CHURCHILL STORY.
In a recent talk, Sela's elaborate disguise [see UD, 2/14/05] begins to disintegrate. Today it's her ethnic identity; tomorrow, her gender.
From the Honolulu Star Bulletin:
' Churchill did address the issue of his ethnicity, admitting that he is not Native American.
"Is he an Indian? Do we really care?" he said, quoting those he called his "white Republican" critics.
"Let's cut to the chase; I am not," he said.
His pedigree is "not important," Churchill said: "The issue is the substance of what is said."
He went on to explain that the issue of whether he is Native American has been blown up by sloppy reporting and reporters quoting other reporters. '
REDNECK WOMAN DIARIES|
Truly faithful readers of UD (or readers who just found me and are poring over earlier entries) know that among the recurrent features of University Diaries are:
"Dumb Shit Artists Say"
the "Janice Sidley"saga
and the proceedings of the "Undergraduate Oligarchs Consortium".
Plus - as if that weren’t enough - there’s REDNECK WOMAN DIARIES (the earliest RWD entry is 6/18/04), an occasional low-class counterpoint to high-class University Diaries, in which UD chronicles the NASCAR-crazed ways of people who, er, tend not to be university professors.
The news story on which today’s Redneck Woman Diaries is based contains elements of both university and redneck life.
It concerns the expert testimony, at a high-profile trial, of Professor Curtis W. Wood, Jr., a longtime faculty member in the history department at Western Carolina University. Professor Wood’s specialty is the history of the migration of Scotch and Irish people in the south and west of the United States. (Think Thomas Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom. George Gudger in Let us Now Praise Famous Men.)
Now, it is Professor Wood’s considered opinion that accused abortion-clinic bomber Eric Rudolph was unavailable to the police for five years after he was seen speeding from a burning clinic in Alabama not because he was, like, running away, but because of his culture:
' BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Eric Rudolph's attorneys have an explanation for his nearly 5 1/2 years on the lam after an Alabama abortion clinic bombing:
His culture made him do it.
The defense has asked a court to allow the testimony of a university professor who contends that Rudolph's years as a fugitive are consistent with the culture of western North Carolina, where the serial-bombing suspect spent much of his life.
The question of why Rudolph was a fugitive for so long is likely to be key to his upcoming death penalty trial, because the government argues that his years on the run are a sign of guilt.
In a document filed Friday, the defense said that jurors in Rudolph's upcoming trial should be allowed to hear from Western Carolina University history professor Curtis W. Wood.
The professor would say that “Rudolph's retreat to the wilderness in the face of being sought by federal law enforcement is consistent with the cultural values, principles and lifestyles of some of those in the region,” according to the defense.
The subculture of the area includes “strong community ties coupled with an independent spirit; living off the land; preservation of individual privacy and freedom; and a persistent mistrust and suspicion of government,” according to an earlier defense document.
A judge has said he would rule on the issue without a hearing.
Rudolph vanished after a man driving his pickup truck was seen in Birmingham near the scene of a deadly abortion clinic bombing in January 1998. He was captured in May 2003 in Murphy, N.C. '
People think all-justifying cultural relativism is a creature of the left (“Female genital mutilation is, well, just their way…”), but here you got it smack dab on the right. Mr. Rudolph didn’t bother putting in a call to the police for five years, even though his picture was plastered in every post office in America? Honey, these folk don’t have no truck with federal officials! Don’t mean he’s guilty! Just means he’s from Carolina.
FLASH FRENCH SCORES|
' SPORTS NO BOON TO COLLEGE
OR CHARACTER, PROF CLAIMS
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
Most of us so take for granted the worth of the myriad of sports offered at our colleges and universities that we never stop to consider whether those institutions ought to be offering them in the first place.
Arizona State University philosophy Professor Peter French has done plenty of hard thinking about college sports and has recently published a book that says some very provocative things about them.
French says he isn't worried about angry ASU sports supporters like the Sun Angels storming his office or insulted coaches challenging him to a duel.
"I admire and get along fine with (ASU Athletic Director) Gene Smith," French said. "What I say in the book is the truth, and if ASU coaches have some things to work on, then they should do it."
What French says he does in Ethics and College Sports is "analyze what I view as some myths about intercollegiate sports."
Among the "myths" French examines are the idea that sports build character and bring money to the schools.
"That's just wrong," he said.
French says he became interested in the ethical ramifications of intercollegiate sports after sponsoring a workshop on it at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he taught philosophy before coming to ASU in 2000.
"In 1998 I directed what I believe was the first-ever national conference on sports ethics," he said. "We discussed everything from preteen girl gymnasts to professional sports, and the event was an enormous success. It drew stories in the New York Times and pieces on National Public Radio and public television, too."
Because of the success of the conference, French was asked by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers to do a book on the subject of the ethics of intercollegiate sports as part of the series Issues in Academic Ethics.
"I thought about the topic for several years before getting down to work on the book - drove the publisher crazy," French said. "The main issues that clarified in my mind about college athletics were these: How does it fit within the mission of the university? What are the arguments in support of intercollegiate athletics being a part of that mission?"
French's book takes a particularly tough look at the argument that intercollegiate athletics builds character.
"They no more give one a stronger character than does a good biology class," he said. "So often there is intense, unthinking pressure to win at all costs, to win no matter what one must do or say. And coaches, the people who are most supposed to be building character, often exhibit the worst sort of example by their behavior.
"Witness the kinds of terrible things a certain Indiana basketball coach would say to his players at halftime - horrible insults and abuse. It's a kind of behavior that is absolutely corrosive to character building. The antithesis of character building."
French's book also takes a hard look at the notion that intercollegiate athletics are moneymakers for universities.
"It's just a myth that sports make the colleges enormous amounts of money," he said. "In the book, we used the example of the University of Michigan, whose president wrote a book about intercollegiate athletics. He said at his school sports as a whole almost never made any money once all expenses were considered and that in the end expenditures exceeded revenues."
French said four ASU Barrett Honors College students helped him research the book.
"There is a vast body of writing on this subject, and I'd have had to spend the rest of my life researching it to get through all the sources," he said.
He said students Matthew Estes, Eric Lind, Josie Jedick and David Madden "were invaluable in bringing this book about."
"Josie was the captain of the varsity women's swim team, and her perspectives were invaluable," French said.
French's credentials to write about ethics, philosophy professor that he is, obviously are impeccable. He laughs, however, when he talks about his athletic credentials.
He played high school baseball and went out for the football team as a running back at Gettysburg College.
"The team was lined up, and (the) PR person for athletics had us fill out cards with a bunch of questions, one of which asked for our nickname," French said. "I said I didn't have one, and he said running backs have to have nicknames."
So French thought fast.
"I came up with the nickname of 'Flash,' " French said.
"So as Flash French I went out on the field and in the first game broke my foot. That was the end of my football career." '
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
BUT NOT YET
A SKIP AND A JUMP
[for background, see UD, 2/11/05]
FROM TODAY'S LAS VEGAS SUN:
' February 21, 2005
UNLV DROPS SANCTION FOR PROFESSOR;
ACLU SAYS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Administrators are dropping sanctions against a prominent University of Nevada, Las Vegas, economics professor who was criticized for saying during a lecture that gays save less money for the future than heterosexuals.
But the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, representing tenured economist Hans Hoppe, called for the university to put principles of academic freedom in writing.
ACLU executive director Gary Peck and lawyer Allen Lichtenstein said Hoppe was not clearly exonerated in a letter from university President Carol Harter and in comments from Interim university Chancellor Jim Rogers affirming Hoppe's free speech rights.
"While the university may see the matter closed, we do not and Hans does not," Peck said. "What Hans said in class, whether you agree with it or not, was obviously covered by academic freedom and the First Amendment. He should never have been forced to face a series of inquisitors and defend his reputation."
The university agreed to drop a discrimination complaint against Hoppe, 55, a conservative libertarian with almost 20 years at UNLV.
Hoppe had said he wanted an apology after being accused in a letter from a university provost of violating "standards of scholarship and instruction responsibility."
Harter's letter does not apologize, but rescinds what officials had called the provost's "nondisciplinary letter of instruction" in Hoppe's personnel file.
Hoppe was accused of bias for saying in a lecture last March that gays tend to save less than singles, the young and the old. He has insisted his theory has backing from economists worldwide and his generalization was not meant to offend anyone.
A gay student raised no objection during class, but later lodged a complaint saying Hoppe's lecture should have been more politically correct. '
Monday, February 21, 2005
Rogue Boosters, |
Street Agents in
South Florida, etc., etc.
There's a good summary and update of corrupt college sports practices here.
CET OBSCUR OBJET DU DESIR|
First, check the comment threads on CET OBSCUR I and II; they underline UD’s point that there’s a baffling and demoralizing disconnect between the enormous expense of college and the often pretty vacuous nature of the college experience itself, in terms of intellectual seriousness and curricular coherence.
One outcome of this is that, as KD points out in his/her comments, college becomes a comfortable haven for extremely wealthy students who don’t need to worry about expense or curriculum (they’ll do fine in life without college, and for that matter without brains), and an uncomfortable perch for middle class scholarship students who may wish to take college seriously as an intellectual, and not merely frivolous, or strictly vocational, experience, but who find a chaos of easy courses and little evidence of real thought.
In the March 2005 issue of The New York Review of Books, Andrew Delbanco makes the same points. “Colleges: An Endangered Species?” is the title of Part One of his review (also available online via Arts and Letters Daily) of a number of old and new books about what college is, what it should be, and where things have gone wrong. He notes that “one hears comparatively little discussion of what students ought to learn once they get [to college], and why they are going at all. … I have discovered that the question of what undergraduate education should be all about is almost taboo.”
Once students are admitted to a liberal arts college, Delbanco asks, “what do they get when they get there? The short answer is freedom to choose among subjects and teachers, and freedom to work out their own lives on campus. Intellectual, social, and sexual freedom of the sort that today’s students assume as an inalienable right is never cheaply won, and requires vigilant defense in academia as everywhere else. Yet there is something less than ennobling in the unearned freedom of privileged students in an age where even the most powerful institutions are loath to prescribe anything - except, of course, in the ‘hard’ sciences, where requirements and prerequisites remain stringent. One suspects that behind the commitment to student freedom is a certain institutional pusillanimity - a fear that to compel students to read, say, the major political and moral philosophers would be to risk a decline in applications, or a reduction in graduation rates (one of the statistics that counts in the US News and World Report college rankings closely watched by administrators). Nor, with a few exceptions, is there the slightest pressure from faculty, since there is no consensus among the teachers about what should be taught.”
This relative indifference to the very core of the undergraduate college experience -- what is taught, and who teaches it -- expresses itself, Delbanco notes, in the notorious dependence upon adjunct faculty even among the most expensive schools. New York University, for instance, uses adjuncts to teach 70 percent of its undergraduate courses. "The fact that these scandalously underpaid teachers must carry the teaching burden - not just at NYU, but at many other institutions - speaks not to their talent or dedication, but to the meagerness of the institution's commitment to the teaching mission." Doesn't it also eventually speak to the financially overwhelmed student, who wonders why her dearly bought freshman seminars and sophomore lectures are virtually all being taught by adjuncts?
Delbanco concludes his essay by characterizing American liberal arts colleges as “miniature liberal states … prescribing nothing and allowing virtually everything.”
The student who falls for the vapid liberalism of the very expensive American college, and who graduates from it unable to pull her thoughts together any better than she could when she started, is liable to feel both monetarily and existentially cheated.
Later, that same day: Critical Mass also links to and talks about the Delbanco essay.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Weary of the Ward Wars (thanks to Philip Klinkner for this neat Ward Churchill phrase), UD has been bending her ancient glittering eyes over Google News with more than ordinary desperation lately, searching, searching, searching, for … what? For anything university-related wild and wacky enough to knock Ward off his pedestal, that’s what!
And damned if she hasn’t found it. We American academics might be odd, we might have our lapses, but we’ve got nothing on the Germans. List, list, o list to the tale of Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten.
Von? Von, you say? Well, we’ll see about that aristocratic von, my little pretties … along with many other matters Pr. Dr. R.P.v.Z.-related. Hold on to your homburgs.
An eminent thirty-year career in the field of anthropology has been cut short by revelations that Protsch - a “flamboyant” man fond of fat gold watches, Cuban cigars, and late-model Porsches, a man who claimed to own penthouses in New York, Florida and California, where he “hung out with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steffi Graf” - has all this time been making up data (from the beginning of his career he seems to have been “unable to work his own carbon-dating machine“), stealing and selling artifacts, plagiarizing everybody else’s work, and dealing in fake fossils.
“The scandal only came to light,” it says here in the Guardian, “when Prof Protsch was caught trying to sell his department’s entire chimpanzee skull collection to the United States.” There were 278 skulls, asking price $70,000 (= one new Porsche).
Protsch is not the son of “a dashing general in the hussars,” as he claims, but “the son of a Nazi MP, Wilhelm Protsch.” In a related development, his university is “investigating how thousands of documents lodged in the anthropology department relating to the Nazis’ gruesome scientific experiments in the 1930s were mysteriously shredded, allegedly under the professor’s instructions.”
Protsch is the reason UD was reading with avid erotic interest in the Science section of the New York Times just a few days ago about the mind-blowing possibility that modern humans and Neanderthals might have lived at the same time, and, you know, done it. But Thomas Terberger, the man who unmasked Protsch, has thrown cold water on that possibility: “Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago. Prof Protsch’s work appeared to prove that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals had co-existed and perhaps even had children together. This now appears to be rubbish.”
Some aspects of the Protsch story are a little on the gross side. For instance, the way a suspicious scientist figured out that one skull Protsch dated at 27,400 years of age actually “belonged to an elderly man who died in 1750,” was that when the scientist cut it open “it still smelt.” (Possible Der Spiegel headline: German Scientific Establishment to Protsch von Zieten: YOUR SKULL SMELLS.)
And then there are the 12,000 headless skeletons in the anthro department’s bone cellar, their heads removed by Protsch and “apparently sold to friends of the professor in the US and sympathetic dentists.” Sympathetic dentists?
Here’s the Euro angle on all of this. “It’s deeply embarrassing. Of course the university feels very bad about this,” said the man who led the investigation into Protsch. The president of Frankfurt University apologized to everyone “and acknowledged that the institution’s administration had ignored the professor’s misconduct for decades despite existing proof for his mistakes.” The president plans to sit down with his faculty and review “the basics of appropriate scientific research behavior.” (Avoid the decapitation and sale of skeletons, the shredding of Nazi documentary material…)
But his most hard-hitting response is that though he’s not going to punish Protsch in any way (Protsch has had to resign, of course, but then his career is almost at an end, anyway), he will review his pension and give some consideration to maybe withholding it from him.
Finally, in its defense, the university has “pointed out that, like all public servants in Germany, the high-profile anthropologist was virtually impossible to sack.”
What? The Protsch photo is really a photo of King Gyanendra?
UD couldn't find an amusing photo of Protsch. And it seemed as good a time as any to remind her readers what that fool Gyanendra is up to in poor Nepal.
Photo Update: Jeff at JVC Comments suggests this photo might do for the subject at hand.
the Washington Post.
CET OBSCUR OBJET DU DESIR|
For America’s young, affluent, and entitled, college has become that obscure object of desire: a place and experience so burdened with romantic and worldly and self-transformative expectation that no campus could ever hope to measure up.
Part of this is the manufactured admissions crisis, which, as David Brooks, Gregg Easterbrook and others have pointed out, serves to get students and their parents all excited and scared about the process of getting in to college, and thus contributes to their heightened expectations for this amazingly precious and difficult-of-access experience.
But more broadly this impossible burden of expectation is part of the competitive, advertising-clogged, emotionally inflated atmosphere of wealthy America, where, whether it’s a fractional personal jet, a thrillingly exclusive private ski club, or an elite campus, the crucial contract you’re entering into is that you’re willing to lay down an insane amount of money in exchange for inexpressibly transcendent privileges.
Like so many other expensive postmodern American goods, college has (as David Foster suggests in a comment to Part I of this post), oversold - and misdescribed - itself. Its market-driven zeal for students, expressed in sumptuous brochures and films and webpages, combines with a threadbare sense of its actual identity, to produce for many of the students who end up attending it a feeling of emptiness and betrayal.
For beyond coffee bars and other bright entertainments, what is actually there? What is actual there? Human, real-time pedagogical exchange dwindles as students and faculty are encouraged to take their courses online, or as courses drain of content and professors lose their sense of calling. Grade inflation removes difficulty, substance, and achievement from the exercise. “College” becomes one more postmodern simulacrum, a spectacle and an enactment rather than a reality.
Yet if college is peculiarly anything at all, if it does have a distinctive identity, it must be that “college” designates that historically revered location where a sustained and organized institutional effort is made to respond to people’s hunger for actuality, for the real, for seriousness about life. At the core of the liberal arts is an informed, dispassionate, uncompromising, and courageous commitment to clarity about life.
Instead of a commitment to the truth, there’s all this bad faith on campus, which sensitive students immediately pick up on. There’s the hypocrisy of presenting curricular chaos and gut courses as if they’re about creativity and variety; the mercenary expansion of popular programs regardless of their intrinsic worth; the sometimes sentimental, sometimes cynical worship of youth and of novelty as such, with all of the obvious consequences in terms of sordid sports programs and doofus distance learning initiatives.
The good news is that pockets of intellectual seriousness continue to exist at most respectable American universities. To find them, students should look for the following markers among faculty members:
1. A belief in value judgments.
2. A subordination of the professor’s personality to the subject matter.
3. A willingness to teach one’s students, rather than show them films, or break them into little chat groups and have done with them for the day.
4. A universal rather than tribal world view.
5. A modest self-presentation, along with modest claims for the explanatory power of the faculty member’s field.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
[Man oh man oh Manischewitz. In one of those exquisite Life Ironies, UD’s readership is exploding even as her tenacious flu is sapping her will to live, much less blog… but… without in any way seeking to solicit your pity, admiration, or awe, she will now write a lengthy, highly significant post.]|
CET OBSCUR OBJET DU DESIR
UD’s most crowded comment thread followed various readers’ thoughts about what a university actually is, intellectually speaking. And this is as it should be. As Fenster Moop once pointed out, University Diaries, qua weblog, is very much about the question of the definition of a university, the way we go about distinguishing a university from a corporation, a summer camp, a vocational school, a sports stadium, a cult, a distillery.
In that thread, a number of thoughtful undergraduates - many of them at UD’s institution, George Washington University - recorded their serious disappointment at the un-intellectual, un-reflective place their university turned out to be. Is the problem just GW, forcing ground of political operatives? No. Students at the Ivies are disappointed too. Look at the recent, much-discussed articles by Walter Kirn and Ross Douthat, Princeton and Harvard grads embittered in retrospect at the thin gruel their Ivy years turned out to be.
Unless you attend Saint John’s College in Annapolis (which has a tight, chronological curriculum, and where every member of the faculty is able to teach every course in the curriculum), you’re not going to be able to count on much intellectual seriousness or coherence at your university. Pedagogically, you’re as likely to end up with Angry Turtleneck Ward Churchill as you are with Natty Suit Harvey Mansfield. Your Gertrude Stein class is as likely to be about lockstep Marxist discipline as about frivolous aesthetic play.
[…UD is fading… Let’s call this Part I, and allow UD to crawl into bed for a few hours with last Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle…]
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
MAKES A GOOD POINT
' The closest thing Mr. O'Reilly could find to a defender of Mr. Churchill was Philip A. Klinkner, an associate professor of government at Hamilton. Only one problem: Mr. Klinkner was one of the professors who had told the Kirkland Project that Mr. Churchill should not speak.
"Going on O'Reilly is a Kamikaze mission," Mr. Klinkner acknowledges. "I went on to defend a principle. Colleges, if they choose to be a marketplace of ideas, have to be willing to bring in people who say pretty repugnant things." Nevertheless, he adds, "If I want to have someone come to class to talk about problems with the Treaty of Versailles, I don't have to bring in a Nazi." '
' THE KING IS BACK
[Harvard Crimson] Students still searching for that perfect gut should head to the Carpenter Center today at 1 p.m. for round two of “American Film Criticism” with visiting lecturer Elvis Mitchell, who regaled students last year by drinking with Bill Murray during class and assigning no reading for the entire course.
Last semester “Professor” Mitchell went from star film critic at The New York Times to, as Larry Summers characterized him in an interview last spring, “Who?” How far will he fall this time around?
If the first class is any indication, pretty fucking far. Our spies report that, true to form, the dreadlocked critic delivered a threadbare syllabus and a rambling lecture on “pretty much whatever he felt like talking about.” Added another attendee, “Pootie Tang may or may not have been mentioned three times.” '
(UD's father-in-law, you may recall [see UD, 1/22/05], had to work hard to convince Le Corbusier to build the Carpenter Center [UD, 12/24/04] at Harvard. Corbu would be proud.)
' NEW YORK – Random House Inc. is suing Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, alleging that the hip-hop mogul never paid back a $300,000 advance for a memoir he never completed.
In papers filed Monday at the state Supreme Court in Manhattan, the publisher alleged that Combs and his corporation, Bad Boy, have "simply kept the money they never rightfully earned." Random House is seeking the advance's return, plus interest.
"Random House has seldom resorted to a legal course of action with its prospective authors who don't write the books we have contracted for, but Mr. Sean Combs has left us no choice," the publisher said in a statement Tuesday.
"He signed an agreement with our Ballantine imprint in 1998 to write his autobiography, which he agreed to complete and deliver to us in 1999. We now have waited for over five years and have received neither the manuscript nor the return of the money we advanced Mr. Combs."
Combs' publicist, Rob Shuter, said Tuesday that there was a "disagreement with Random House that we hoped would be resolved without litigation. We anticipate that this will be resolved quickly."
According to the court papers, Combs signed with Random House in 1998 and then arranged on his own to collaborate with Mikal Gilmore, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and author of the acclaimed "Shot in the Heart." A manuscript was to be completed by Dec. 15, 1999, but the deadline passed and, in early 2000, Random House notified Combs that he was in breach of contract and that the publisher wanted the money back.
"Year after year," the papers allege, the publisher sent follow-up letters.
In 2001, Combs sued Gilmore for allegedly ditching him after accepting $325,000 to work on the book. The case was suspended later that year after Gilmore filed for bankruptcy and then was dismissed in 2004.
Combs is not the first musician who failed to meet the deadline for delivery of his life's story. Years ago, Mick Jagger received a seven-figure advance to write his memoirs. He eventually returned the money, saying he couldn't remember anything of significance. '
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
UD has felt vaguely guilty about having nothing much to say about Arthur Miller, who died last week. But she pretty much agrees with Terry Teachout's summary of Miller's career.
HEAP BIG TROUBLE|
"However, there were some dissenters in the audience who asked [David] Horowitz ... whether he thought the CU football player scandal was more of an embarrassment to the university than Churchill," reports the Denver Post.
The University of Colorado has now stepped into the winner's circle of scandal-plagued universities. It has joined the University of Tennessee system, where people also routinely compare one current scandal's severity to another [See "High-Steppin' Tennessee," UD, 4/10/04].
When a university tries comforting itself with the thought that Scandal X is after all not quite so bad as Scandal Y, it's in heap big trouble.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Academic fraud, fake Indian, plagiarist, traitor, wife beater, violent drunk, criminal, terrorist -- the charges keep mounting against embattled University of Colorado professor, Ward Churchill.
Now, incredibly, one of Churchill’s ex-wives has come forward with the most startling claim yet: Ward Churchill was originally the popular actress Sela Ward (compare images here), the beautiful yet strikingly masculine star of such films as The Fugitive.
“It’s why he don’t have no children,” this wife, who asked that her identity be kept secret, said. “He can’t. He’s a she who got her girl stuff removed. Ward’s been changing identities all his life; this was just one of his switcheroos.”
Apparently, about fifteen years ago, after a promising film career that never really panned out, Sela Ward came to feel that her acting days were over. Still craving the limelight, and having always felt herself a man trapped in a woman’s body, she underwent successful surgery at Johns Hopkins University.
“One thing she didn’t change was her hair. She was real vain of her hair,” said Churchill’s ex-spouse. “And she didn’t change her politics. When she was Sela she had to keep it quiet if she wanted roles. As Ward she’s really been able to let it rip.”
An attempt to interview Churchill about this latest bombshell was intercepted by his agent, Michael Ovitz, who said Churchill’s interview fee now topped $10,000.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
a valentine |
to my readers:
averages 600 unique visitors a day
and 2400 hits a day
knows not what course
others may take
but she considers this
and she thanks you
THERE SHE IS,|
THERE SHE IS,
' THE OLD GLOBE
March 16 - April 24, 2005
HIMSELF AND NORA
Sunday/Tuesday/Wednesday at 7pm
Thursday/Friday/Saturday at 8pm
Matinees: Saturday/Sunday at 2pm
The Old Globe is thrilled to present the world-premiere musical Himself and Nora, that shines a light on one of modern literature’s most celebrated writers, James Joyce, viewing his accomplishments through the prism of his unique relationship with Nora Barnacle. Although she was an uneducated Irish chambermaid, Nora became Joyce's quintessential muse, helping him through a myriad of artistic and emotional challenges, while providing both inspiration and salvation. Their passionate, earthy romance was a profound influence on his life and helped mold him into the eminent artist he would eventually become. The score runs the gamut from spirited Irish tunes to charming love ballads. This haunting, poetic and sophisticated new musical explores the many conflicts wrought by James Joyce's unconventional life, while celebrating his groundbreaking accomplishments as a writer.
The cast features major Broadway star Matt Bogart as "James Joyce" and former Miss America Kate Shindle as "Nora Barnacle." Bogart has appeared on Broadway as Chris in Miss Saigon, Radames in Aida, as well as roles in The Civil War and Smokey Joe’s Café. Regional credits include Paul in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration's production of Company, Billy in Paper Mill Playhouse's Carousel, and Paul Claudel in Goodspeed Opera House's Camille Claudel. Kate Shindle was crowned Miss America in 1998 and has since pursued an acting career, appearing in Jekyll and Hyde as well as her cabaret act, "Me and My Shadow" and the film The Stepford Wives. '
....Okay, okay. UD doesn't wish it said of her, as Davin said to Dedalus, that "You're a born sneerer." But on the other hand...! I mean really...! I suppose it counts as some sort of cultural watershed that Miss America 1998 is impersonating Nora Barnacle on the stage, but ... how likely is it ... what do you figure the chances are... Lemme just say this. If "Himself and Nora" is a hit - a critical hit or a popular hit - UD will nibble to pieces every one of her Ulysses compact discs from Naxos Audiobooks...
Saturday, February 12, 2005
LOTS HAS BEEN SAID|
ABOUT WARD CHURCHILL.
HERE'S UD'S WAY FAVORITE
'On Friday, Chad Smith, principal chief of the 250,000-member Cherokee Nation, said there was no evidence of Churchill having Cherokee heritage and that he was not eligible for citizenship.
"The best evidence that he is not an Indian is that he knows so little about Indians," Smith said. "Indians are superpatriots; this is our land. Brian Moss, one of our citizens, was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11, and he disparages these victims." '
Los Angeles Times, today.
PROFESSOR CHURCHILL |
' [New York Times, February 12, 2004] An emotionally charged dispute over a $3,500 honorarium has erupted between Hamilton College and a guest lecturer, whose Feb. 3 speech was cancelled after he received death threats for having criticized victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The college, in Clinton, N.Y., has been rocked by a nationally publicized controversy surrounding the lecturer, Professor Ward L. Churchill of the University of Colorado.
It began last summer when the head of a Hamilton academic program sent a speaking invitation to Professor Churchill, offering the $3,500 fee. He signed and returned an acceptance letter. Months later, Hamilton officials learned that Professor Churchill had written an essay after the Sept. 11 attacks in which he compared American foreign policy to Nazi Germany's, and referred to the dead in the twin towers as "little Eichmanns" who bore a share of the blame for United States policy and the terrorist attacks.
As word spread about the essay, thousands of students, alumni and victims' relatives urged Hamilton to rescind the invitation. Many also denounced the college for spending $3,500 to hear Professor Churchill, and some vowed to withhold donations.
At first, college officials upheld the invitation, citing the principle of free speech at Hamilton. They were heartened, as well, to hear from faculty members that Professor Churchill had apparently waived his speaking fee as a peace gesture to his critics. But Professor Churchill never agreed to waive his fee, his wife, Natsu Saito, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
A Hamilton spokeswoman, Vige Barrie, said yesterday that she and the head of the program who invited Professor Churchill, Nancy Rabinowitz, had misunderstood each other about the $3,500 fee. Professor Churchill had agreed to waive his right to privacy about the amount of the fee - which was then widely reported - but not waive the fee itself, both women said yesterday.
Two days before the scheduled speech, Hamilton officials cancelled it, citing security reasons, after Professor Churchill drew more than 100 death threats and college leaders received warnings of violence.
Professor Rabinowitz had the $3,500 check sent to Professor Churchill, but college officials stopped payment. Professor Churchill still expects to be paid, his wife said; he did not return a call asking for comment. But Ms. Barrie said that the stop payment would remain while officials reviewed their options. "It's in limbo," she said. "A decision has not been made whether to pay Professor Churchill."
Several students expressed frustration yesterday that Hamilton was still embroiled in the Churchill matter. On Thursday night, Professor Rabinowitz had resigned as director of the program that invited Professor Churchill, while remaining on the faculty. In a statement, she said the blame assigned to her for the "crisis" had hurt the program.
"This whole thing has turned into such a mess," said Matthew Coppo a Hamilton sophomore whose father, Joseph J. Coppo Jr., was killed in the World Trade Center attack. In an interview yesterday, Mr. Coppo added, "I didn't want my tuition dollars paying Churchill. The college president told me he wasn't getting paid. Now he might be." '
AND THEY SAY NO ONE CARES|
ABOUT GOOD WRITING ANYMORE…
'[Reuters, Feb. 12, 2005] In a blow to the Australian film industry, production on the Russell Crowe - Nicole Kidman romance "Eucalyptus" has been postponed indefinitely because the script was not up to scratch, its studio said Friday.
The Fox Searchlight project was scheduled to begin shooting Monday, and both Kidman and Crowe have been in Sydney taking part in rehearsals.
Said Fox Searchlight Pictures president Peter Rice: "After consulting with all the creative elements involved in 'Eucalyptus,' we have collectively agreed that the screenplay is not where we need it to be. For that reason, we are postponing the production."
Fox Searchlight, the high-flying arthouse arm of News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, plans to remount the film when schedules permit.
The Australian film industry had looked forward to the return of two high-caliber locals to Australian shores to work on an Australian story.
"Eucalyptus" tells the fable of an Australian widower who plants hundreds of eucalyptus trees on his land. He tests his daughter's suitors by making them identify every species. One succeeds, but by then Ellen (Kidman) already has lost her heart to a handsome stranger (Crowe).
Crowe, Kidman, writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse and producer Uberto Pasolini, issued the following statement: "Despite everyone's efforts during recent days and weeks, the script of 'Eucalyptus' needs more work. Unfortunately our availability prohibits us from completing this work at this time. Therefore, we have agreed that the best thing to do is to postpone shooting until the project's foundation is solid." '
LOOK BACK IN ANGER|
The spectacularly incompetent head of Hamilton College's benighted Kirkland Project has resigned, "under duress," in her words. "What the project needs now is someone more adept at the kind of political and media fight that the current climate requires. Therefore, it is in the interests of the mission of the project itself and for no other reason that I am yielding to requests that I resign," she said.
Ward Churchill too is fond of this "current climate" business... by which UD supposes they mean bad things are happening to them because we live in a reactionary ice age ... But how do they account for the fact that the last twenty or thirty years have been very good to them?
Friday, February 11, 2005
Go Ahead and Sue|
UD hates the way Americans are always suing each other. Occasionally, though, she stumbles upon lawsuits - or threatened lawsuits - that seem to her reasonable. Here are two:
1.) Poor Professor Hans Hoppe, a first-rate economist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, walked into a politically correct buzz saw while lecturing on the propensities of different social groups to save money for the future. His generalizations about gay people being less future-oriented than some other groups “made me feel uncomfortable,” said one of his students, who formally complained.
And the silly university, instead of explaining free speech to the complainant, put Hoppe through the now-familiar humiliating paces (docked pay, letter of reprimand).
But Hoppe was hopping mad, as was the ACLU, which condemned the university.
And the silly university, which didn’t know why it did what it did in the first place, and doesn’t know why it’s doing what it’s doing now, has backed down. Somewhat. Hoppe wants the letter incinerated, all pay reinstated, and an apology. The university is not so sure … So Hoppe and his friends at the ACLU will almost certainly sue. And win. And that’s fine by UD.
[ By the way - on the subject of clueless universities - here's Dahlia Lithwick, in Slate, on the University of Colorado and the Ward Churchill mess:
"If academic tenure means anything at all, it means professors must be allowed to say and write what they choose without fearing removal by popular referendum. That's why the decision to grant someone tenure must be taken so seriously in the first place. One hundred percent of the blame for the Churchill debacle rests with the University of Colorado's board of regents that hired, granted tenure to, and promoted an individual whose scholarship and personal qualifications are now, and must always have been, in serious question. Churchill's silly notions have been in the public domain for years. Firing him only now suggests that Bill O'Reilly, as opposed to his faculty peers, gets the deciding vote on who is allowed to teach our young people." ]
2.) The estate of Agatha Christie is considering filing a plagiarism lawsuit against a novelist who seems to have plagiarized plot, characters, and setting of a recent story from one Christie wrote 77 years ago. [For background, see UD, 2/2/05.] This too seems a justified lawsuit to UD. You can’t have writers picking away at the work of their betters just because their betters are dead and can’t defend themselves.
Update, 12 February 05: The Christie estate won't sue after all.
“It could indicate a generation raised with no pain, too sensitive to experience life, or too ignorant of the real horrors of the world,” writes Brian Becker, an old student of UD’s, about emo music and culture. UD sent him some questions about emo [see UD, 1/29/05], and Becker, a member of a group called Emocapella, wrote her back.
“Really the only criteria” for emo music are “charged emotional content” conveyed by “high, whiney singers” who express “the crying quality of the music.”
Becker cites the emo soundtrack of the film Garden State, whose hero has for years been kept on emotion-flattening, or emotion-distancing, psychotropics by his psychiatrist father. The key moment in the film features the hero rejecting the pills and assuming his own emotions again.
“But we’ve got to ask ourselves,” writes a Berkeley student in The Daily Californian, “what is so fundamentally absent from our culture that could make premeditations on pain and alienation so … attractive?” She’s inquiring into the popularity of emo music and culture as well, and she mentions the cult film Napoleon Dynamite, whose slack-jawed hopelessness “brings together an aimless generation of people searching for meaning and definition.”
Her essay uses the words “bittersweet,” “tender,” “solace,” “forlorn,” “weep,” “tear-streaked,” “disillusionment,” and “futile,” to evoke the emo sensibility, which also involves a rejection of the material comforts in which the emo generation has been raised.
A certain shabby asceticism, for instance, is very emo. It’s “a girl in Converse with short dark hair hanging just so over her tear-streaked cheek.” Becker describes “black-rim glasses, button-down shirts, bags with diagonal straps across one’s chest, rolled-up jeans.” The aesthetic, writes the Berkeley student, is “androgynous,” with “jeans from the women’s department regardless of [your] gender.” “Short, dark, and asymmetrical haircuts, tight pants and forlorn thrift store sweaters are all mandatory.”
Becker’s initial comment, about a “generation raised with no pain, too sensitive to experience life, or too ignorant of the real horrors of the world,” maybe goes to the bleeding heart of emo. Knowing still very little about it, UD thinks emo sounds more promising than comfortably numb or vacuously punk. Couldn’t it represent a healthy instinct on the part of reflective, privileged people, to move in the direction of the reality of human suffering?
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
ADDENDUM TO UD'S |
"DR. MARGARET SOLTAN, PH.D." POST
From the Bowling Green
'DEPARTMENT OF ACCOUNTING AND
MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS:
NORMAN ECKEL, PH.D'
LOOK WHAT HAPPENED
TO JUST ONE PROFESSOR WHO
PUT 'PH.D.' AFTER HIS NAME.
‘BOWLING GREEN, Feb. 9, 2005 - A Bowling Green State University professor, angry that a student showed up an hour late for class, allegedly told students afterward that he should bring an AK-47 assault rifle to class and shoot the whole class, one of the students said yesterday.
Benjamin Bohland, 20, a business major from Toledo who was one of about 50 students in the classroom, said there was a silence in the room after Professor Norman Eckel allegedly made the remark. But Mr. Bohland said the managerial accounting class continued and nothing else was said.
The professor was suspended for the remark on Feb. 1 after several students complained to university officials. Mr. Eckel, who has worked at BGSU since 1979, remains on paid administrative leave.
Mr. Bohland, who was not among those who complained, said he didn't take the comment seriously and believes Mr. Eckel was joking.
"I think it's blown out of proportion," Mr. Bohland said. "It was in a joking manner."
He said some students, though, may have become concerned about the remark because it was made about the same time a BGSU senior was charged in an unrelated matter with drawing up a hit list of students who he wanted to harm.
Mr. Bohland said the professor's teaching style is not popular with students, leading him to believe the reports could have been made in retaliation for the professor personally.
BGSU police Chief James Wiegand said a police report was not filed, and his office is not investigating the incident.
Mr. Eckel could not be reached for comment.
Teri Sharp, a spokesman for the university, said she could not comment about the exact nature of the remark. University officials have described the remark as intimidating.’
MEN AND WOMEN THOU DOST MOLD!|
...declares the proud state song of Wyoming. And never wast this truer than today.
Wyoming's recent effort to market itself nationally as the go-to place for diploma mills is succeeding beyond its wildest dreams. Only a few weeks after the legislature rejected calls for any tightening of accreditation standards in the state, "DIPLOMA MILLS FLOCKING TO WYOMING" is the headline in news stories all over America. [For background on Wyoming and diploma mills, see UD, 1/24/05, and 5/12/04].
Wyoming now has the distinction of being a kind of sister-state to Mississippi [see UD, 8/4/04], its only real competitor in the hot-hot-hot diploma mills market.
|A MUST-READ ON CHURCHILL|
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
CATCHING ELIOT'S EYE
"The New York Stock Exchange's report on the pay package [$139.5 million, at a non-profit organization] given to its former chairman, Dick Grasso, made clear the excessiveness of the compensation and the ineffectiveness of the safety controls that failed to stop it," writes Robert J. Shiller in today's New York Times. "What the report didn't provide, however, was an answer to an obvious question: Why did nobody on the exchange's board look at that astronomical sum and feel some personal responsibility to find out what was happening?" [For background on the Grasso case, see UD, 5/25/04.]
As the subhead of his opinion piece suggests ("Does the Grasso scandal have roots in the ivory tower?"), Shiller lays much of the blame on the amoral education people get in American graduate schools of business, whose courses typically "portray people as nothing more than 'maximizers' of their own 'expected utility.' This means that people are expected to be totally selfish, constantly calculating their own advantage, with no thought of others. If the premise is that everyone would steal the silverware if he knew he could get away with it, and if we spend the entire semester developing the implications of this assumption, then it is hard to know where to begin to talk about ethics."
Shiller says "overspecialization" in the university has made all professors narrow-minded, including ethics professors: "Business ethics is just another academic specialty, and can seem as remote as microbiology to those studying financial theory. ...And even when business students do take an ethics course, the theoretical framework of the core courses tends to be so devoid of moral content that their discussions of ethics must seem like a side order of some overcooked vegetable."
Well, UD likes the sound of this and all ... but when Shiller proposes a solution, his naivete emerges: "Ethical behavior for many business people must involve overcoming their learned biases. Perhaps these scandals would be a little less likely ... if more of us professors integrated business education into a broader historical and psychological context. Would our students really fail to understand the economic models if we treated the subject matter not as an arcane specialty, but as part of a larger liberal arts education?"
Okay. In other words, MBA programs as now constituted teach you to be a selfish son of a bitch. So let's say you're about 25 years old, halfway through your MBA at Harvard. Your undergraduate degree was, say, Penn. The result of your first-rate liberal arts education plus your first-rate business education is that you are a selfish son of a bitch.
Professor Shiller now proposes that at this rather late date in a person's moral development we try to transform a specialized professional program in business into something that could be seen as "part of a larger liberal arts education" which would have the effect of moralizing you so that you avoid becoming a selfish son of a bitch.
Leave aside the question of why your original liberal arts experience failed to moralize you. Leave aside the question of why your parents or any other social or spiritual influence has failed to moralize you.
Ain't it a bit late in the day by the time you roll through Harvard? For that matter, how does Harvard, as an institution, model the virtue of restraint that Shiller champions? Well, let's look at their endowment, and how they pay their money managers [See UD, 1/11/05]...
Colleges and universities can't - and shouldn't try to - make you a good person. They exist to expose you to the best that has been thought and written. Universities assume at least minimal moral competence on your part, a competence they will be pleased, of course, to strengthen. But if, by the time you're in your twenties, you don't know the difference between profit maximalization and extortion, it is too late for you. You will do what you will do. And at some point, godwilling, Eliot Spitzer will notice.
Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.
UD has the flu; fully half of her Irish Literature class also seems to have the flu. Yet there we all were this morning, gathered to worship with Stephen Dedalus in the arms of a Dublin whore.
“We are all martyrs to the cause of art,” UD announced at the end of class. “Thank you for coming.”
Monday, February 07, 2005
UP AND COMING SPEAKERS
AT EASTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
" Cheney, Wash. -
Statement from EWU President Stephen Jordan on campus speakers Ward Churchill and Ron Jeremy
For more than two centuries, America's universities have been safe harbors for expression of thought and speech. This is a role that the academy of scholars holds as its deepest value.
I believe that our citizens’ tolerance, understanding and support of free speech in the academy lies not in our self-defense of its virtues; but rather, its preservation lies in our citizen's belief that the academy will be judicious in expressions of thought and speech which are significantly at odds with societal norms.
Freedom of speech is sometimes inconvenient, often times uncomfortable, but in a democratic society it is always necessary. Even the most disturbing or sometimes vile speech is vital to our understanding of ourselves and others.
A university is a collection of many disparate groups examining their precepts of our culture, values and mores. Often these groups, in an effort to stimulate their intellectual curiosity, will invite outside speakers who will challenge community or societal norms.
I have deep confidence in the intellectual quality of our students and their ability to process a diversity of ideas presented to them, with the end result being their own informed personal viewpoint.
Two speakers invited to the EWU campus, Ward Churchill and Ron Jeremy, provide this university with a difficult challenge.
Eastern Washington University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, but in the case of Mr. Churchill, we have to consider our overarching responsibility for the safety of our students, faculty, staff and Mr. Churchill himself.
After doing a responsible review of the safety and security issues involved with bringing Mr. Churchill to campus, this University does not feel we have the adequate resources to guarantee a safe forum for discussion. Therefore, we are officially canceling his appearance at Eastern.
We do not see this cancellation as a curtailment of Mr. Churchill’s free speech right. Indeed, Supreme Court decisions raise legitimate question as to whether speech that incites panic or an immediate breach of the peace is protected by the First Amendment.
We are canceling an event, not an idea.
Mr. Churchill still has multiple venues for the outlet of his ideas. Neither this University nor the state’s taxpayers are under any obligation to provide an appearance venue for Mr. Churchill if his presence threatens the safety and security of this campus.
Mr. Jeremy’s appearance is not a security or safety issue, but we did recognize that the program, in its initial conception, inadequately served what the title Eastern Dialogues denotes, as a single viewpoint presentation is not dialogue.
With that in mind, Eastern has enhanced the discussion by providing a more comprehensive discussion of the issues at hand by giving a forum for alternate views before, during and after Mr. Jeremy’s program.
Our willingness to stand by Mr. Jeremy’s appearance, which has also generated controversy, is a testament to our commitment to free speech. Mr. Churchill’s appearance, and the maelstrom that now accompanies him, is another matter altogether.
Dr. Stephen M. Jordan
Eastern Washington University "
UD is delighted to announce that Eastern Washington has asked her to represent some of those “alternate views” during this event.
She doesn’t mind admitting that she’s pretty intimidated by Mr. Jeremy, but she’s convinced that any serious university will benefit intellectually from a rigorous public give and take with him. So here goes - below are some of UD’s prepared responses to Jeremy’s positions, as he has stated them in a recent interview:
" Q: Would you consider yourself the most popular porn star in the world?
It would be conceited for me to say yes. But let me say this: everyone else says it. AVN [Adult Video News] magazine, the bible of the porn business, they did a thing on the Top 50 Adult Film Stars of All-Time and the most influenced, and I was kind of happily surprised that they made me #1. They had John Holmes as #3, and he was the king, I was the prince... but I was #1. Jenna Jameson was #2. Linda Lovelace #4... and it went on."
UD's response: You are being conceited. Arrogance is not a virtue. You’re making people lower down on the list feel bad by crowing.
"Q: I read that Jewish men make for good lovers, any truth to that?
I heard Italians made for good lovers; Jews just give good head..."
UD: Your gross cultural stereotyping is offensive.
"Q: Speaking of twos -- who do you prefer, Monica Lewinsky or Hillary Rodham Clinton?
Monica Lewinsky: younger, cuter, bigger boobs."
UD: Ageism and sexism are also offensive.
"Quick fact: Ron discovered that he was able to fellate himself when he bent over one day to tie his shoelace."
UD: Everyone has gifts, and those gifts should be encouraged. You are to be congratulated.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
DR. MARGARET SOLTAN, Ph.D.
Fellow blogger Tyler Curtain points out that Ward Churchill does not hold a Ph.D, though he sometimes apparently calls himself "Doctor."
UD has perhaps a slightly odd - slightly snobby - take on the business of titles and degrees -- their use, and their importance in academia. Since this issue, among many issues having to do with Churchill's background, has come up as an object of discussion, she will now share that take with you.
First, their use. Any professor who routinely puts Ph.D. after his or her name is, UD assumes, an unimpressive, provincial, vain, and insecure person. The use of Dr. is even worse. It's just like the Wizard of Oz sticking all those letters after his name. It's like the Italians, who are lately in something of a credentials crisis since everyone and his wolfhound is now allowed to style himself Dottore or Professoressa or something: "If you think about it," says one Italian observer, "if everyone is a doctor it's like saying that no one is a doctor. It basically brings us back to the starting point."
So what should I call myself? you ask. There are conference papers, syllabi, and nameplates to think of!
UD has two suggestions:
1. Your name. Example: Margaret Soltan.
2. Your name plus "Professor." Example: Professor Margaret Soltan.
Ahem. Now as to the importance of specific degrees in academia. Does an English department or an ethnic studies program have to consider only Ph.D.'s when it's hiring and promoting? In many cases, perhaps; but not in all. A good department will be confident and original enough to recognize smart and interesting people who do not necessarily have the customary degrees. In many departments of English today, literature classes are taught by creative writers with MFA's as often as they are taught by Ph.D.'s.
For an eloquent attack on "The Ph.D. Octopus" by William James, go here.
Stephen J. Goldberg,
a professor of Art History
at Hamilton College,
who says it all.
Guest column: Time to take back Hamilton College
Sun, Feb 6, 2005
' I write on behalf of the many students, staff, and alumni of Hamilton College, the families of the victims of 9/11, as well as countless citizens of New York State, to express my utter dismay at the insensitivity and moral bankruptcy of the Kirkland Project and the current administration of Hamilton College for their plans to bring to campus polemicist Ward Churchill.
Churchill is an extremist who, in a now infamous hateful statement, praised the 9/11 terrorists and attacked those killed in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns," a reference to the Nazi engineer of the Holocaust.
To quote my esteemed colleague Ted Eismeier, professor of government: "The administration erred by speciously wrapping the Kirkland Project's folly in the mantle of free speech and then compounded that error by cobbling together a panel to discuss Churchill's views on 9/11. Such a charade demeans Hamilton College and gives our imprimatur to Churchill's outlandish and odious rhetoric."
Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, the captain of American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon, informed me by phone that on the very day Churchill wrote those words, September 12, 2001, her brother's body and those of the other passengers on that flight were still burning in the wreckage of the Pentagon.
Speaking for the families of the victims of 9/11, a very diverse group, Burlingame said that they are all offended by the actions of Hamilton College and were working tirelessly to bring pressure on Hamilton College President Joan Hinde Stewart and the Board of Trustees to stop this abomination from happening.
The panel, as we now know, was finally cancelled. But as Ralph Williams, class of '71, recently penned to President Stewart, it was "the right thing, for the wrong reason."
President Stewart tried to make this an issue of "freedom of speech." I understand the abstract principle of "freedom of speech," but there is a concrete context at stake -- this particular incident -- that helps us to understand the application of this principle. Coming on the heels of the Rosenberg Affair last semester, and due to the glaring absence of oversight and total lack of accountability on the part of the dean and the president with respect to the operations of the Kirkland Project, they left themselves and the entire college open, once again, to the predicaments in which we now have found ourselves.
To be very frank, the remnants of Kirkland have destroyed the reputation of Hamilton College, and crippled it financially for the foreseeable future. The Board of Trustees, as in the Enron Affair, sat on their hands, and worse, rationalized and ultimately supported the actions of the president, despite the damage that this was clearly bringing to the institution and its students. What they and the president seemed not to remember is that their primary "fiduciary" responsibilities are to the "shareholders" of Hamilton College: the students and the alumni.
Did we as a college and a faculty have to be maneuvered, once again, by the Kirkland Project and its director into the position of defending the indefensible: the freedom to speak by an extremist with a track record of inflammatory, hateful speech? By offering him an invitation to speak at Hamilton College, we would have thereby granted legitimacy to this hatemonger.
Overlooked in all of this is the desecration of the memory of Kirkland College, for which this Kirkland Project is named. The vast sums of money controlled by the Kirkland Project would be far better used to establish a scholarship fund for fine young women to attend Hamilton College. This would be a most fitting way to honor the legacy of Kirkland College, rather than waste it on the likes of Rosenberg and Churchill.
On Monday, a student my wife tutors at the college expressed concern about the impact that this latest assault on the honor of Hamilton would have on the failing health of Economics Professor Emeritus Sidney Wertimer; she was worried for his life. With the news of Sid's passing [the] very next day, Feb. 1, I told my students that we may also be witnessing the passing of Hamilton College as we've known it. Let us now work tirelessly to take Hamilton back. '
Hoo boy. A big ol' fan of Alabama football bribed a high school coach with $150,000 for him to steer one of his boys to 'bama. (The oblivious player, of course, got jackshit.)
' Young was convicted Wednesday of bribing former high school coach Lynn Lang to persuade defensive lineman Albert Means to sign with Alabama in 2000.
U.S. Attorney Terrell Harris said he wasn’t out to clean up college sports by prosecuting Young, who was charged under federal laws generally used to go after organized crime and drug dealers.
“But if it deters certain types of criminal conduct by boosters or those associated with college football, that’s a good thing,” Harris said.
Law professor Sandra Guerra Thompson said Young’s conviction for racketeering conspiracy shows shady sports boosters are risking more than NCAA penalties.
“It’s certainly the first time I’ve heard of it,” said Thompson, a specialist in federal criminal law at the University of Houston.
“One of the interesting features of federal white collar crime is that it can often apply in situations that are not what we would traditionally consider criminal. It’s almost like being struck by lightning to a certain extent, whether prosecutors decide to open an investigation and bring charges.”
Young’s supporters complained that dragging him into federal court was a heavy-handed use of the law. But Harris disagreed.
“It’s wrong to buy and sell 18-year-old student-athletes; it’s wrong to bribe high school football coaches,” Harris said.
Jim Haslam, a trustee with the University of Tennessee, said he hopes Young’s conviction would lead sports boosters to think twice before breaking NCAA rules.
“One of the most detrimental things to college athletics, obviously, are rogue boosters,” Haslam said.
Young was convicted of conspiring to bribe a public official, money laundering and crossing state lines to commit a crime.
Those offenses carry a maximum prison term of 15 years, but federal sentencing guidelines call for a much lighter punishment. Sentencing is scheduled for May 5, and Young is free without bond and likely will remain free while appealing the conviction. '
WARD CHURCHILL: VALEDICTORIES
UD now thinks that the University of Colorado will find a way to fire Ward Churchill. They are “reviewing” his work now. As he fades out, here are a couple of valedictories:
'Kimberly Hickel is a former student of Churchill's who says she was in his class on April 19, 1995, when the Oklahoma City bombing took place.
"He actually stood in front of our class and said how the FBI got what they deserved. It was awful," said Hickel, who graduated from CU in 1997.
Some of the students tried to argue with Churchill, saying the innocent children killed in the day-care center didn't deserve to die. But he refused to allow them to speak their minds.
After that, Hickel boycotted his class and wrote a letter to Churchill, attacking his point of view. He, in turn, gave her a D- for the class. She complained to his superiors, but said they did nothing.
"The whole school is afraid of him," she said. "He is hiding behind free speech. But he doesn't allow students to stand up for free speech," Hickel said.'
Paul Campos, a professor of law at CU, sums it up:
'That through whatever combination of negligence, cowardice and complicity we have allowed Ward Churchill to besmirch [scholarly] ideals by invoking them in the defense of his contemptible rantings is now our burden and our shame.'
UD doesn't want to kick CU while it's down, but all you need to do is type University of Colorado in that Search thing up there to find in her blog endless accounts of sports and alcohol and academic fuckupery on campus. Have you noticed that virtually all of the administrators quoted in this latest fiasco are "interim"? The University of Colorado makes the University of South Florida look like a well-oiled machine.
What ought to be done? After firing Churchill and getting through the violent incidents and the free speech condemnations that will follow, the University of Colorado needs to find an unimpeachable spokesperson to deliver a State of the University speech which would be covered by the national media.
This speech should begin by conceding that the university is in deep crisis, and that the Churchill scandal is only part of a larger institutional picture of, as Campos says, "negligence, cowardice, and complicity."
The spokesperson would then announce a series of real changes that will now take place. Those changes could involve firing the entire board of regents, shutting down fraternities, shutting down the sports programs, and pressuring some of the hundreds of bars adjacent to the campus to leave. They could, more immediately, involve shutting down the ethnic studies program, which, this spokesperson will admit, is a disgracefully shoddy academic unit. "We have been asleep at the wheel," this person will conclude; "and Ward Churchill was the crash that ensued. I assure you that we at this university are now fully awake. This proud institution, which we love, will shake itself off and find its way home again."
Friday, February 04, 2005
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY TO STUDENTS:
YOU CAN'T SHIT OUTSIDE HERE ANYMORE
from WZZM.com: MSU CONSIDERS BAN ON OPEN ALCOHOL
' The [MSU] Board of Trustees plans to vote Feb. 11 on whether to ban open alcohol on campus. Exceptions would be made for pre-football game tailgating in designated spots.
In MSU's latest move to stop destructive drinking, the ban would slap violators with up to a $100 fine and 90 days in jail. If approved, the ban could go into effect immediately.
"Sure, it's going to be a big change," MSU President Lou Anna Simon said Friday after her first board meeting since taking over for Peter McPherson. "It's not just about what parents and others want. There are students here who don't like to have to walk through a group of people drinking to get to their dorms."
The ban would mean no more wandering through campus sipping beer. No lounging in front of the residence halls with a six-pack. And no more makeshift tailgating parties on game days.
"People will be very angry," MSU student Jacob Horner said.
... In addition to the open alcohol ordinance, the trustees will vote to specifically outlaw public urination and defecation. '
and from State News,
MSU's Independent Voice:
' Last week, ASMSU, MSU's undergraduate student government, passed a bill that supports the ban on public urination.
"It's common sense," Student Assembly Chairman Andrew Schepers said. "in a perfect society, this wouldn't have to happen, anyway."
..."We've had just huge numbers of people, men and women both, urinating outside the building[s]," said [Paul] Goldblatt, who supports the ban. "It's pretty disturbing, that's for sure. ... That should not happen on a campus setting.... I certainly hope that's not what we stand for." '
GRADE INFLATION AND
from The Boise Weekly:
'[A] grade distribution report [was] e-mailed to Boise State University deans during the first week of classes for the spring semester. Some deans forwarded the document on to their department chairs, a few of whom passed them to faculty members.
At least one chair did so under the message heading of “Grade Inflation,” with the exhortation that “Grade inflation is a hot topic today. The data in the attached file may or may not be useful in discussing the topic but are certainly a good means of beginning such a discussion … this time of the semester is indeed a good time to begin setting academic standards and establishing adequate means for gauging whether students are meeting them.”
Individual instructors were also invited to see chairs personally, in order to review the records of their own grading tendencies
…Still, some professors remain skeptical as to how the data might be put to use. Two junior faculty members who preferred not to be identified voiced concerns that the records will be held against them by department chairs concerned with reputations for academic rigor.
Anthropology professor Bob McCarl views the spreadsheets with similar suspicion. “This is simply another way in which faculty are micro-managed by overzealous administrators who used to be colleagues,” he said. “Grade inflation and the proper number of ‘meat like substances’ in your taco exist in parallel universes of rationalized labor for control. In academia we maintain the pretense of faculty governance while the substance slips farther and farther away.” '
There’s a situation roughly parallel to the Churchill thing taking place in England. A group of students at St. Andrew’s University invited the leader of a neo-fascist party to debate immigration with the lads. An outcry ensued, and the invitation was withdrawn.
The problem we seem to be running into, at Hamilton College and St. Andrew’s, involves, UD thinks, an inability to distinguish between performance and interchange. Fanatics do not debate; they exhibit their beliefs. The place for them to exhibit their beliefs is at a rally with fellow fanatics.
Universities are not exhibition halls. They are small enclaves of reasoned discourse. When the dean at the University of Colorado said that he didn’t know where the boundary beyond which Ward Churchill’s ideas were unacceptable might be (see UD, "Ward Churchill Update," 1/31/05), he was admitting that he didn’t know the difference between the university and the street.
The walls of the university exist to keep out barbaric passions. The reason people all over the country have responded strongly to Churchill’s body of work is that they recognize its barbarism.
But the university also exists to remind us that there are proper and improper ways to respond to barbarism. You do not holler at a hater. Nor do you invite him to your symposium. You cast a cold eye.
“The law of unintended consequences holds that almost all human actions have at least one unintended consequence. In other words, each cause has more than one effect including unforeseen effects,” it says here.
So, for instance, the Florida State University chiropractic school dustup has had the unforeseen consequence of beginning to rid the university governing board of lobbyists:
‘[P]rompted by the debate raging over the future of a plan for a chiropractic school at Florida State University, [Florida Senate President Tom] Lee wants to keep lobbyists from serving on boards that govern the state's public universities -- including the boards of trustees at each school and the statewide Board of Governors.
"We have 17.4 million Floridians," said Lee, R-Brandon. "We can't find 100 talented people who don't butter their bread with the Florida Legislature to serve on [these boards]? Give me a break."
In the case of the universities, Lee wants to avoid the appearance of lobbyists being pressured by legislators to support programs such as the chiropractic school, funded last year by the Legislature at the insistence of FSU alum and then-Senate President Jim King …’
And indeed, one after another, the lobbyists on the board - especially those with the most brazen conflicts of interest - are resigning from it:
‘Just three days before a crucial vote on a chiropractic school for Florida State University, a member of the Board of Governors has resigned, citing Senate President Tom Lee's plans to ban lobbyists from certain boards and commissions.’
The so-far unkillable Ward Churchill story is also beginning to have unforeseen consequences, some of them less welcome than the removal of lobbyists from governing boards:
‘Regent Tom Lucero called for a process by which the administration can more easily discipline faculty.
"I would suggest that the time has come for a revision to the policies that allow for other forms of adjudication that are not reliant on the faculty for determining subjectively the fate of one of their own," he said. "It naturally follows that I will be seeking justification for all departments and their academic value and merit to the university community." '
Thursday, February 03, 2005
UD has upgraded her Haloscan account. In about 24 hours, you should be able to comment at up to 3,000 words.
LATE LINGERING CHURCHILLIAN TWILIGHT:
Timothy Burke Looks at Churchilll's
Work Itself, and - (in the words of
Zach, Mr. Veiled Conceit) --
READ IT ALL.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
[On UD’s Metro car this evening, a guy who works for the Metro system - it says VERN WHEELER on his blue hard hat - sits down near her and starts talking on his cellphone to a co-worker]:
Alright, listen good. Listen good.
If you don’t listen good, you’re going to fry.
If you so much as touch that thing
It will shock you
And you will fry your ass.
…No, that will not shock you.
Take it by the hand,
Put it in your mouth.
Whatever you want. It will not shock you.
MURDER, SHE PLAGIARIZED
This curious plagiarism story combines two of UD's favorite things -- plagiarism, of course; and astrology:
' MURDER, SHE REWROTE: AUTHOR ACCUSED OF PLAGIARISM
February 03, 2005
BEST-SELLING Australian author and Fairfax newspapers astrologer Jessica Adams has been accused of plagiarism after publishing a short story that bears a close resemblance to one penned by the great crime writer Agatha Christie in 1928.
Titled "The Circle," Adams's story is a dark tale of mystery, murder and the supernatural. It was published in a collection of short stories by fellow Australian authors in the New Year edition of The Big Issue magazine, a fundraiser for the homeless.
Both the Christie and Adams murders occur at an isolated property, in a circle of trees believed to have significance as a site for ancient rituals. Both stories feature a beautiful woman as a suspect, the property owner as the victim, a missing murder weapon, supernatural intervention, and a jealous relative who fakes a similar attack and who turns out to be the guilty person.
The similarities between the Adams and Christie stories were discovered by Brisbane playwright Janelle Evans who picked up a copy of The Big Issue magazine to read on the bus.
"I knew immediately I had read something very similar," said Evans, who rushed home to sift through her healthy collection of Agatha Christie books. After five minutes, Evans found what she was looking for, The Thirteen Problems, a collection of short stories by Christie. Evans found that the plot of one of the stories, "The Idol House of Astarte," contained many similarities to Adams's "The Circle."
"I read the stories - Christie's and Adams's - side by side and I was staggered," Evans said. "It could be a coincidence. It may be possible that she read the story some time ago and inadvertently used it."
Adams is best known as a chick-lit writer whose books include Single White E-mail, Girls' Night In and Tom, Dick and Debbie Harry. She has sold about 400,000 copies worldwide. She also writes a weekly astrology column in The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald, both published by the Fairfax group. Her columns are published in Vogue magazine.
Debra Adelaide, a novelist and lecturer in writing at Sydney's University of Technology, said based on the similarities and differences in the two stories, Adams appeared to have plagiarised elements of the Christie story.
"Without reading the whole story for myself, and based on the evidence provided by the extracts I was given, this is a clear case of plagiarism," Dr Adelaide said.
"There is a pattern in the names of characters and sets of characters and a consistency of patterning in their relationships. Plagiarism is a terribly serious charge to lay against an experienced high-profile author like Jessica Adams, but for such an author to commit plagiarism is an unforgivable sin.
"It is possible to see influences as a reader and use them as a writer, but to appropriate material without attributing it is cut-and-dried plagiarism."
Adams yesterday denied copying, mistakenly copying, or adapting the Christie story. "Why are you asking me these questions?" she asked.
Curious as to whether she might have inadvertently used the Christie story, Evans spoke earlier this week to Adams - who has been compared to Helen Fielding of Bridget Jones fame - about her influences.
Adams denied "The Circle" was influenced by Christie. "I'm a great fan of Agatha Christie, but she's not a source of inspiration. She's a classic writer, but for a classic murder writer my favourite would be Ruth Rendell or Jonathan Creek for its weirdness and quirkiness," Adams said.
The Big Issue's contributing editor Mic Looby said the magazine had received letters from readers about "The Circle" pointing out the similarities with Christie.
In a statement yesterday, The Big Issue editor Martin Hughes said: "As a publication which prides itself on its originality and integrity, we are very concerned and disappointed by the allegations regarding the Jessica Adams's short story 'The Circle.'
"We published 'The Circle' in good faith, believing it to be an original work. She denied any implications of plagiarism. We are continuing to follow this matter and are investigating the options open to us if it is established that the story was less than original."
In her stars column last Sunday, Adams, who is a Leo, predicts: "If you face opposition or challenging people this week, you're likely to come up with your most cunning plan yet. You'll get away with it, too, if you're clever, but don't get carried away with your success." '
A POST VERY MUCH HOPING
TO BE AMONG THE LAST UD
WILL WRITE ABOUT CHURCHILL
"The lifeblood of any strong university is its diversity of ideas which allows for the environment necessary to educate and train young learners and advance the boundaries of knowledge," a group of University of Colorado faculty have said in defense of Ward Churchill. "Debate is a fundamental characteristic of a university."
If I were an undergrad at CU, I'd wince at that "train young learners" bit, which sounds tres Sesame Street ... and I'd wonder why, when a whole group of my professors got together to whip up a statement hundreds of thousands of people would be reading, they ended up with one little cliche-sausage after another ("diversity of ideas...boundaries of knowledge...fundamental characteristic...").
But no matter. There is one more important thing to be said about this mess, and while they haven't said it well, this faculty group is correct. Churchill enjoys freedom of speech. He has been granted tenure. While his colleagues are wrong to claim that Churchill's ideas invigorate intellectual debate at their university -- Churchill's ideas are horseshit -- they are right to defend his employment. You can't have governors running around hounding tenured professors out of their jobs.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
THOU ART TOO DEAR...
An education writer for the Washington Post wishes that parents and their children “did not worry so much about being admitted to a college whose name will impress their neighbors and instead thought about how they were going to learn something useful and get a degree. Only about half of Americans starting college acquire a degree within six years, and for students who start in four-year schools like the ones in the Education Trust data base, the graduation rate goes up to only about 60 percent. … To dramatize the problem, the Education Trust, a non-profit organization in Washington that works to improve education for minority and low-income students, has produced an interactive Web tool called College Results Online and two reports on college graduation rates that I think should be part of every family's college research. They are on the group's Web site.”
UD checked out that data and those sites a couple of weeks ago, and was surprised by her university’s relatively low graduation rate, as was the Post writer:
“The Web site explains in more detail than I have space for exactly how the researchers chose the groups of peer colleges, which is good because some schools are going to complain about being misfiled. The University of Maryland, with a graduation rate of 70.7 percent, is only 14th in its peer group of 16, far below number one University of California at Berkeley, 85.4 percent and number two University of Michigan, 85.1 percent. And George Washington University, 75.1 percent, is only 12th out of 16 in a list topped by Notre Dame, 94.6 percent, and University of Virginia, 92 percent. … George Cathcart, spokesman for Maryland, said the university is working hard to improve its graduation rate, which has reached 72.9 percent since the 2003 data on the Web site. He said since 1998, the rate for African Americans has gone from 49.4 to 56.8 percent and for Hispanics from 50 to 67.5 percent. Tracy Schario, spokeswoman for George Washington, said the university's rate has reached 78.7 percent, and that its peer list is different than the one used by the Education Trust.”
UD presumes this means that for the purpose of this ranking GW abandons its customary sense of its relative value in the college marketplace and abases itself a bit so as to make that 75 percent look not too bad…
UD has evolved her own theory, after thinking about it for awhile (for twenty minutes, to be precise), as to why GW students take a long time to graduate. The answer came to her this morning at 9:13 as she stepped for the first time into the latest campus Starbucks, this one 42 steps from her office. It was a beautiful winter morning -- brilliantly sunny, not very cold, the world lit up with snow -- and the new Starbucks was not only supremely convenient, but roomy, aromatic, and musical. Attractive young people sat at natural wood tables upon which they had placed ebony laptops. Upon these laptops their fingers delicately tap, tap, tapped… It all made UD ponder the overpowering delights of being at a school like GW (or NYU, or Brown, or any other chic urban college)... and she suddenly felt a sonnet coming on…
Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate:
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thyself thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me, to whom thou gavest it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgment making.
Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.
It was clear to UD, even as she inwardly recited these lines, that she’d never really understood them, and that it was unlikely they had anything to do with the situation at hand....But she was reaching for a sonnet that conveyed the lover’s sense that the loved thing was too great ever to contemplate leaving … and thus…um…many GW students can’t tear themselves away from the place. Something like that.
By now you probably know that Hamilton College, citing death threats against everyone and his Aunt Tillie, has cancelled Ward Churchill's appearance. The race is now on to gin up the rhetoric condemning this monster, this piece of shit, this appalling outrageous etc.
Oh, and the governor of Colorado wants his sorry ass out of his taxpayer subsidized office.
Things, in short, have played out. UD doubts Churchill will be able to continue meeting classes without armed guards. He can make way more money on the book and radio circuit than he can as a professor of ethnic studies anyway. He is famous now. So he'll probably resign his job at the University of Colorado.