Thursday, August 31, 2006
Whose the Headline Editor?
'HORNS VS AGGIES: THE SCOREBOARD DEBATE:
A Tad Too Baroque|
Longtime readers of UD know she loves a good hoax. This latest one, though, is a bit baroque for her taste. Hoaxes, in her experience, should be relatively straightforward to be enjoyable; one shouldn't have to expend any real brainpower figuring out their tricks. Who, for instance, beyond the editors who published it, has read in its entirety the Sokal essay, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity"? It's enough to enjoy its title and renown.
In order to get at the current John Betjeman hoax, though, you have to assimilate a good deal of information, rumor, documentation, and commentary. It lacks the pie-in-the-face reward of a direct hit.
Furthermore, the Betjeman hoax seems to have been motivated by egotistical rage against a particular person, whereas the best hoaxes, like Sokal's, and like, for instance, the Ern Malley hoax, are motivated by calm, serious, displeasure with a general trend, coupled with a desire to make oneself laugh, and these are both commendable impulses. They allow us to like and to laugh along with the hoaxer.
Anyway, here are a few details of the Betjeman thing -- click on the link for more information.
For connoisseurs of John Betjeman, his centenary has brought many blessings. For one thing the 100th birthday itself fell on a drizzly Bank Holiday Monday, enabling true believers to eat damp fishpaste sandwiches on the prom before retiring to hold hands in tea-shops. To improve the occasion two biographers are sparring viciously over their hero: Bevis Hillier, who over 25 years wrote a magisterial three-volume authorised biography, and A. N. Wilson who obliges us this year with a briefer, elegantly readable one of his own. Hillier is quoted condemning Wilson as “despicable . . . a playground bully” and Wilson says Hillier is “old and malignant”. Hoorah!
It looks very likely as though the hoaxer is, of course, Bevis Hillier.
'While it may seem like a chore to outsiders, many bloggers enjoy the compulsion. Mark Lisanti, who runs the entertainment gossip blog Defamer, is much like Mr. Romenesko in his no-vacation tendencies. Although he gets three weeks off each year from Gawker Media, which owns the site, he rarely takes a day. Not because he can't, he just doesn't want to. "My plan is to die face down on the desk in the middle of a post..."'
wall street journal
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Another Nail in the Coffin|
Of Prestige Panic
From the New York Times:
It is still far too early to sound the death knell, but for many small liberal arts colleges, the SAT may have outlived its usefulness.
A Couple of Updates on Marcus Einfeld|
Mr Einfeld's friends are rallying around him, with one telling The Australian he was "pale and depressed."
A North Coast resident has lodged a statutory declaration stating that his vehicle was in the custody of "Marcus Einfeld's Spirit" when it was clocked speeding in April.
President of Lewis and Clark:|
Yes to the Federal Database
Contrary to what critics of the database plan might have the public believe, we in academia know remarkably little about what emerges from the vast and diverse system of higher education. Why do students drop out? Where do they go when they do? What factors in primary and secondary school, beyond grade-point averages, class rankings and standardized test scores, best predict their success or failure in college? What impact does their educational experience have on our students' success or failure after graduation?
--the washington post--
Turning to the Needle|
To Keep Pace
[T]he mother of all steroids exposes, the piece that should have alarmed America and told us where all of this steroid mess was headed long ago...ran in late October 1988. It caused quite a stir in my college locker room, and I've never forgotten the story. I'm not sure anyone else in America read it. It was hidden in an obscure sports magazine called Sports Illustrated; maybe you've heard of it.
Listen, a university administration that allows the type of "adult" binge drinking on campus like it does on football game days has zero moral authority to lecture its kids. Zero.
Cowed by UGA|
'Sadly, a Spot to Drink, Party
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Four New Bars|
For the Fall Semester
Another election season is now upon the citizens of Athens-Clarke County, and, to no one's surprise, one of the issues that defines where political lines are drawn in the community has also surfaced again.
From Sports Illustrated:
The next time any big-time college football coach or AD complains about financially contributing to all of the campus sports that don't bring in any money -- pretty much everything but a handful of school's men's basketball programs -- remember the Godzillatron and all its superfluous glory.
I'm doing some final footnoting for the manuscript my colleague, Jennifer Green-Lewis, and I have written -- The Return of Beauty to Literary Studies. Ne quittez pas.
Monday, August 28, 2006
University of Texas: |
We May Be Ranked Number Two
For Alcohol Consumption,
But We're Number One for Biggest TV!
From Sports Illustrated:
Its nickname is Godzillatron.
Headline of the Day|
From Long Elegantly Formed Passages |
to "Coach K, Please Stay!"
From a New Yorker article about Duke lacrosse:
Even after his move into Yale’s administration, [Duke president] Brodhead remained so thoroughly the literature professor as to embody the type — shy, prone to a slight stammer, but speaking in long, elegantly formed passages, filled with literary allusion.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
SOS: Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
A Regular University Diaries Feature
An opinion piece from a South Carolina newspaper:
"The task of the modern educator," wrote C.S. Lewis more than half a century ago, "is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts." [Warning light: Lewis is a very condescending writer. I've never been able to stand his simplistic, hectoring style. I know, I know -- a lot of wonderful, smart people love him. And he's written some wonderful stuff. But when I read his essays on Christianity, for instance, I really feel talked down to. And this quotation from him is typical of his elliptical, rather silly style: Isn't the task of education to do both? To brush away destructive overgrowth and to put something sustaining in its place?] The Oxford don [This is supposed to impress us, and I suppose it does. But the writer of this piece should also disclose that Lewis was often writing in defense of a specifically Christian world view.] suggests by this statement that the college classroom is at its best when it is a place where unformed minds confront a lofty standard, in the hope that students will rise and follow the exalted example. At its worst, college educators enter the academic arena determined to "cut down jungles" of prejudice and replace them with their own beliefs.
I have my own problems, by the way, with Clemson's choice. But moralistic and simplistic literary criticism ain't the way to go.
I've added two blogs -- Center for College Affordability and Productivity, and Grad Student Madness -- to my links. They're just to your right, down a tad (assuming Blogger, which is very slow at this, ever publishes them).
The CCAP is the work of an economics professor who subjects many of the things universities do to rational analysis. This is rare.
Grad Student Madness is the work of a group of grad students who welcome you to the site with: "Come on in - the ennui is fine!"
(Shouldn't that be Annouilh?)
What's More Embarrassing --|
Graduating from a Diploma Mill,
Or Having the Diploma Mill
Fail to Find Your Records?
'More doubts have emerged over Marcus Einfeld's academic record, with the San Diego-based Pacific Western University unable to find any record of the former Federal Court judge as a graduate or student.
Could our Mr. Einfeld have lied about graduating from a diploma mill? I'm an old hand at diploma mills, and this is a new one on me. If you're going to lie about having graduated from a university, why lie about graduating from a bogus one? Why not say you graduated from Oxford? The mystery deepens.
Canada's ahead of|
the US on this one
From the Toronto Star:
Eleven universities, including the University of Toronto, say they will no longer participate in the annual Maclean's magazine ranking of them because it is arbitrary and flawed.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
This statement of Randall Jarrell's, from his essay, "Poets, Critics, and Readers," made me think of Truman Capote:
The writer cannot afford to question his own essential nature; must have, as Marianne Moore says, 'the courage of his peculiarities.' But often it is this very nature, these very peculiarities - originality always seems peculiarity, to begin with - that critics condemn. There must be about the writer a certain spontaneity or naivete or somnambulistic rightness: he must, in some sense, move unquestioning in the midst of his world - at his question all will disappear.
I think this has something to do with Capote's comment about his education -- I quoted it a couple of posts down. He sensed even very young that he must pursue, unimpeded and unmediated and untaught, his essential writerly nature.
But inside this naivete, this sleepwalking Being, resides perhaps the eventual downfall of some writers as well. Capote's life ended early and pathetically, as did the lives of a good number of other modern writers. I don't want to sugggest that we can account for this shared fate in some general way. We can't. But I wonder if for some writers -- James Agee comes to mind, too -- their inability to do anything other than be inside that unexamined unteachable selfness means that when they start to spiral down, when life hands them the reversals it hands everyone eventually, they have much more trouble righting themselves.
Friday, August 25, 2006
As with the Time article (headline: "Who Needs Harvard?") I mentioned a few days ago, so with Newsweek: Our mass culture weekly magazines have now determined that what Robert Samuelson calls "prestige panic" in college admissions is, like most forms of scarcity anxiety in a country like ours, a false alarm.
'Underlying the hysteria is the belief that scarce elite degrees must be highly valuable. Their graduates must enjoy more success because they get a better education and develop better contacts. All that's plausible—and mostly wrong. "We haven't found any convincing evidence that selectivity or prestige matters," says Ernest T. Pascarella of the University of Iowa, co- author of "How College Affects Students," an 827-page evaluation of hundreds of studies of the college experience. Selective schools don't systematically employ better instructional approaches than less-selective schools, according to a study by Pascarella and George Kuh of Indiana University. Some do; some don't. On two measures—professors' feedback and the number of essay exams—selective schools do slightly worse.
...[Researchers] studied admissions to one top Ph.D. program. High scores on the Graduate Record Exam helped explain who got in; Ivy League degrees didn't.... One study of students 20 years out found that, other things being equal, graduates of highly selective schools experienced more job dissatisfaction. They may have been so conditioned to being on top that anything less disappoints.'
Truman Capote Died Aug.25, 1984|
At the age of 17, Mr. Capote wangled a job at The New Yorker. "Not a very grand job, for all it really involved was sorting cartoons and clipping newspapers," he wrote years later. "Still, I was fortunate to have it, especially since I was determined never to set a studious foot inside a college classroom. I felt that either one was or wasn't a writer, and no combination of professors could influence the outcome. I still think I was correct, at least in my own case."
The single constant in his prose:
In 1963, the critic Mark Schorer wrote of Mr. Capote: "Perhaps the single constant in his prose is style, and the emphasis he himself places upon the importance of style."
Thursday, August 24, 2006
An Edgily Cohabited World|
The New York Times talks about some newly released police notes -- from a Sergeant Gottlieb -- about the Duke lacrosse case. It's a long article. Here are a few excerpts.
...[A]n examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution [in the Duke University rape case] in the four months after the accusation yields a[n]... ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong’s case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.
University of Georgia:|
Worst University in America
With this morning's editorial in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and with UGA's latest showing on the Princeton list (see editorial below), and with UD's review of the 29 mentions of Georgia on this blog (key in "University of Georgia" in the blog search engine at the top of this page) over the last year or so, almost all of them about administrative corruption, the cancelling of whole swathes of classes for football games, trustee cronyism and malfeasance, NCAA violations, and rampant alcoholism, it's time to declare the University of Georgia the worst university in America.
In the University of Georgia's student newspaper, a health educator points out that not everyone drinks. "Many students choose to abstain: 22.6 percent of University undergraduates did not drink any alcohol in 2005," wrote Erin English in a recent issue of The Red & Black.
Other universities look like UGA in a variety of ways. Why pick on Georgia? Because Georgia's got it all. Everything that can go wrong with a university has gone wrong with Georgia. Know why? It's got a secret weapon: President Michael Adams.
Einfeld has definitely entered...|
Black Knight territory.
From an article in Policy Review.
Blogs help police and expose false studies with which interest groups and partisans may attempt to counter the empirical work that undermines the factual bases of their positions. Academic experts regularly write for blogs and, unlike reporters, are well suited to subject empirical work to searching scrutiny. Recently, for instance, a group of prominent legal scholars has begun a blog wholly devoted to law and empiricism. Such developments will also force empiricists to be more careful and transparent about the discretionary decisions they make, such as their choices of time periods to include in their investigations, because their colleagues will be able to call them to account for misjudgment or bias more easily.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Hope it Wasn't|
Anything I Said
Canyon Ranch 'thesda may have bitten the dust.
UD Writes a Marcus Einfeld Limerick|
The eminent jurist Sir Einfeld
In order to not pay a fine, yelled:
"The true reprobate
Is some chick in the States!"
(For the third time, he hoped that old line held.)
From an Interview|
With Chris Horn,
"What sets Stanford apart from other college football programs?"
"We actually go to class."
The Football Major|
From Sports Illustrated, another statement of an oft-stated idea:
...[I]f a goodly number of top college athletes are going to go through the motions simply for the sake of maintaining their eligibility, why not put an end to the sleazy charade and give them the option of declaring their chosen sport as their major? Let them concentrate all of their time and energy on training, studying the playbook, practicing, traveling, playing and learning from their coaches with an eye toward a pro career.
It's an attractive idea. It has the merit of honesty. It begins by admitting that many bigtime university athletes are never going to be students at all. It then lets them play their game for four years, and when four years are up, it hands them a diploma. There would be no academic pretense, and no NCAA rule-breaking, in this straightforward handling of valuable physical specimens as purely physical specimens.
But that of course is where the trouble enters. It's hard to think of a university willing to so degrade its foundational identity as ... a university ... that it would officially establish an elite, venerated, high-profile subculture of know-nothing gamesters. Even the most academically tattered campus will hesitate to create a (possibly largely minority) cadre of students who will never have to open a book or sit in a classroom or write a paper.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
"Those partying donate|
thousands of dollars
to the school."
Looks as though the University of Georgia administration has tried to deal with a campusful of obnoxious drunks by killing the messenger. The messenger responds:
It's God's Way|
of Balancing Out
'A maths genius who won fame last week for apparently spurning a million-dollar prize is living with his mother in a humble flat in St Petersburg, co-existing on her £30-a-month pension, because he has been unemployed since December.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Marcus Einfeld: My Everything|
I never dreamed I'd find a man who had everything. Everything.
Everything I Google every day. Plagiarism. Diploma mill degrees. (Not just one. Two.) A resume more fantastic than my wildest fantasy.
All of that, plus multiple speeding tickets, mendacity, egomania, and dementia.
The retired Australian judge, Marcus Einfeld (for background, scroll down to "The Hon Justice Marcus" etc.), now known to many over there as Justice Seinfeld, is one hell of an amazing story. I mean, there are confidence men, and then there are confidence men. Marcus Seinfeld is A Confidence Man.
The Australian media is ... stunned. They're only just beginning to put things together and make sense of it all. Here's one effort:
'...Last week, as Einfeld's saga of absurd denials and evasions became ever more threadbare and pathetic, I Googled "Marcus Einfeld" and the very first item that appeared, his CV, was a cause for concern. It listed him as having a BA, LLB (Sydney University), and PhD and LLD (USA). The "USA" raised an alarm. A check of his entry in Who's Who confirmed why. The BA had disappeared, while the PhD was from Pacific Western University and the doctorate in law from Century University. I'd never heard of either of them.
It did not take long to confirm that Pacific Western and Century are both what is known as unaccredited colleges, or "diploma mills". On its website, Pacific Western University describes itself as "a distance learning university located in San Diego". Its goal is to is provide "a self-paced, year-round, off-campus experience to all of our students". Century University is much the same. A doctoral program and doctorate from Century costs $US5199 ($6850). A masters from Pacific Western costs $6240.
No one could present such qualifications with any seriousness as a marker of credibility or rigour. I was amazed this had never been picked up before. As so often happens in the media, the same wheels were turning elsewhere. On Saturday the legal affairs writer for The Australian, Chris Merritt, wrote about these same utterly dubious qualifications.
Einfeld's entry in Who's Who, self-compiled, is a metaphor for his career. It begins with a parody of academic rigour and continues with an egregious amount of padding, groaning into one of the longest entries in Who's Who, as if his mere membership of Amnesty International etc, etc, etc, needed to be recorded. The entry begins as it ends, with a self-inflating distortion, giving his address as "Judges' Chambers, Federal Court of Australia", an address five years out of date. Using the title of judge is something he has done often since he ceased being one.
The brazen padding goes some way to explaining his behaviour since August 7, when he appeared at the Downing Centre Local Court to contest a $77 speeding fine generated by a speed camera in Mosman on January 8. He contested the fine on the grounds that he wasn't driving the car at the time. So many falsities, half-truths and evasions have been uttered since then that I've numbered them to keep track.
1. Einfeld says he sent a statutory declaration to the court stating that his car was being driven at the time by a Professor Teresa Brennan, who had since died in a motor vehicle accident.
2. In court, he was asked: "What did you do with your vehicle?" and replied: "I lent it to an old friend of mine who was visiting from Florida."
Barrister, helpfully: "I think that was Professor Teresa Brennan?"
Einfeld: "Yes it was."
3. Einfeld was contacted later that day by Viva Goldner of The Daily Telegraph, who presented him with the fact that his alibi had been dead for three years. He responded: "This was not the same person. This was a totally different person … another Professor Brennan." Asked to provide details to verify this, he replied: "I'm afraid not. I know she lived in one of the states of America. She moved."
4. The second Therese Brennan soon since disappeared from the line of argument and was replaced, on August 9, with this prepared statement: "As I said in court, I am uncertain as to who was driving the car …" His statement to the court was quite clear: "an old friend", Professor Teresa Brennan, was driving.
5. On August 9 Einfeld said he would never perjure himself, especially over such a trivial matter, and his licence had not been at risk.
Einfeld has a history of speeding offences, and had reached eight demerit points for offences on December 9, 2005, January 11, 2004, and June 22, 2003. The Daily Telegraph discovered that in May the Roads and Traffic Authority sent him a letter warning that his licence would be suspended if he reached 12 demerit points. Had he not contested the $77 fine, he would have been just one demerit from having his licence suspended. His licence might not have been literally at risk from this fine, but it would have been hanging precariously by one point.
6. On August 10, Einfeld began responding to the media via a barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, and a solicitor, Michael Ryan, who issued a written statement saying that contact had been made with a person in the US and it was hoped that it would be possible "in the next few days to reveal who was the driver". That was 11 days ago. The mystery endures.
Enough. Marcus Einfeld has made a career out of portentous moralising. The man now enmeshed by small falsities and large vanities is the same man who has resorted to the big deceits to gain moral advantage - the claim of genocide and the comparisons with Nazis.
This son of a Labor politician, and Labor judicial appointee, has played the political game with ferocity. He has invoked the Nazi era ("The thuggery of the guards at Woomera … not much different to that shown by the SS guards in the name of the Third Reich …").
Inevitably, he cried "genocide" after the Bringing Them Home report on the removal of Aboriginal children was published, a report whose claim of genocide, when subjected to the forensic scrutiny of the courts in Cubillo v Commonwealth (2000), disintegrated.
He was subject to a formal complaint of plagiarism in 2003 by Professor John Carter of Sydney University after Einfeld reproduced Carter's work in Halsbury's Laws of Australia in a judgement without attribution. "We fail our students and discipline them if they do this," Professor Carter told The Australian Financial Review. Einfeld said the footnotes had been left out in the printing process.
Now he has become Marcus Minefield, or Justice Seinfeld, and it no longer matters who was driving his Lexus in Mosman on January 8....'
They're spinning the latest university rankings at the University of Texas Austin:
The Texas Longhorns earned another national title Monday, not for football but as the country's best party school.
A friend of this site, |
And an enemy of PowerPoint......
...Edward Tufte is reviewed in the International Herald Tribune.
'It has happened to us all. You are sitting in a PowerPoint presentation trying - and probably failing - not to yawn as slide after slide flashes across the screen.
First Day of Class|
at Virginia Tech:
'BLACKSBURG, Va. Authorities in Blacksburg, Virginia, say a sheriff's deputy has died from gunshot wounds he suffered today while searching for an escaped jail inmate.
Update: NPR reports Morva's been captured.
Ohio University's Problems...|
...have attracted the attention of the major media. There's so much going on there, you could overlook the fact that the football coach thinks someone tried to date rape him.
Ohio University administrators are looking forward to a better school year this fall. In the wake of plagiarism charges, a massive theft of personal data and a thumbs-down faculty vote for the school president, it could hardly get worse.
State Degree Factories|
'The university sector has become a main charge on the state, where its dependency has made it a lax and wasteful arm of government. As a result it offers less a launch pad to adulthood and more a tail end of childhood. The best universities are American. They show an awareness of their market by persuading those who use them of the value of their service. That means money. That means charging full-cost fees.'
The Great European University Debate rages on. Though in most countries it's not a debate, really. A few people talk about wresting these wretched systems from state control. The state makes tentative efforts in this direction. Hundreds of thousands of students rush into the street. The state backs off.
But because it's a good case, it keeps getting made, especially in England, which among European countries looks most likely to reform someday. Here's how the argument looks, from an opinion piece in the Sunday Times:
Two groups of Britons are definitely not on holiday this weekend. One is the nation’s cohort of bright 18-year-olds, peering expectant from every newspaper front page. The other is the nation’s education politicians. The first “jumps for joy” at their exam results, the second jumps at the opportunity for an annual soundbite, demanding money with menaces from government.
hat tip: phil
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Creating an Intellectual Elite|
Via Butterflies and Wheels, a serious attempt to account for why British university education (like most European university education) is tanking:
'We will soon have no world-class universities left in this country. Oxford and Cambridge struggle to retain a position among the top 10; I expect that they will soon drop out through the bottom....The concept of learning, the acquisition of knowledge and the exercise of creative imagination within the constraints of evidence and reason, has been almost fatally devalued....
Enough Already About the Soul!|
The Wall Street Journal Gets
This Season's Real University Story.
'FOR FANS OF THE University of Tennessee's football team, last season was a difficult one. Though the team was widely expected to be in the running for the national title, it finished out of the Top 25, and wound up with a 5-6 record.
'Tis the season...|
...to editorialize about the soulless illiterates about to pollute the halls of learning. You've got to get your digs in now, in late August/early September, when lots of people are thinking about our about-to-reopen universities.
Our undergraduates only read shlock and don't know the simplest words. They're fucking like bunnies. Their professors are specialization robots.
All of us, says a Baylor philosopher, have to start taking
the term "soul" seriously, as indicating a sense of what is higher and lower, better and worse, in human life. The word "soul" also figures in the title of Mr. Lewis' book about Harvard. But what does Mr. Lewis mean by "soul"? Can contemporary academics use the term without putting it in scare quotes to indicate its status as a relic from a bygone age of religious primitivism? Without snickering, can we seriously pose to our students the challenge Socrates posed to the Athenians, who in this case are a pretty good stand-in for Americans? Can we issue the challenge to give more care to the soul than to the body?
The word soul also figures in Allan Bloom's famous title. It's a winner of a word.
It's used in two ways by people complaining about college students. One is the Baylor guy's way, and it tends to mean having a spiritual life, and not having that spiritual life degraded by materialistic and sexually degenerate students, or by corrosively secular professors. This use of the soul word is basically a call for greater religious seriousness at universities and colleges.
The other way soul comes up is in defense of the inner life as such. Allan Bloom uses it this way. Professors - humanities professors - are supposed to initiate students into a seriousness about life, through an intensive consideration of the profound thoughts in great books. To be in posssession of a soul is not to be religious necessarily; it is to understand that a valuable life transcends the material realm and is ever in search of, and in enjoyment of, the immaterial. The unexamined life is not worth living. The consciousness unable to respond to the greatest art is not worth having. Etc.
One funny thing -- the professor complaining about student illiteracy says the only book they've all read tends to be The DaVinci Code.
This is a book which assumes serious religious knowledge on the reader's part, and its massive best-seller status suggests a broad interest in religious matters (even shlocked up) among the American population. So start there. Avoid grand and vague complaints about our soulless culture, and just start teaching serious philosophical and theological works. Define words that students don't recognize. Be patient. Don't preach.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
In Paul Fussell's Class...|
...we are reminded that:
The general class rule about wrist watches is, the more "scientific," technological, and space-age, the lower. Likewise with the more "information" the watch is supposed to convey, like the time of day in Kuala Lumpur, the number of days elapsed in the year so far, or the current sign of the zodiac. Some upper-class devotees of the Cartier tank watch with the black lizard strap will argue that even a second hand compromises a watch's class, implying as it may the wearer's need for great accuracy, as if he were something like a professional timer of bus arrivals and departures. The other upper-class watch is the cheapest and simplest Timex, worn with a grosgrain-ribbon strap, changed often: black ones for formal wear are amusing.
Generally, the more upper you are, Fussell goes on to note, the less interested in high-tech anything, the less concerned with accuracy and shininess and up-to-dateness... Yet more generally, uppers aren't concerned with impressing people (those old Timexes)...
By these criteria, UD's alma mater, the University of Chicago, has done her proud lately:
'The University of Chicago boasts more than 70 Nobel laureates, and its math and economics departments are among the best in the world.
Keeping records by hand, being casual about such classic prole motives as "putting your best foot forward" -- excellent. Too bad Chicago finally fell for, as Fussell calls it, "the whole anxious class racket."
Friday, August 18, 2006
The Hon Justice Marcus R.Einfeld AO QC PhD...|
...as he styles himself, helps us understand the mentality of many diploma mill graduates. A highborn Australian, he seems to have gotten a legitimate law degree and been a competent judge for a number of years. He's now retired, but he still calls himself a judge, which you're not supposed to do, and this stubborn bit of vainglory is our first piece of evidence as to what is wrong with the man.
The Hon Etc. falls squarely into the Egomaniac Conman diploma mill grad category. It wasn't enough for him to have merely college and law degrees; he must have PhDs, or people wouldn't be impressed. So he got a couple of them, and he describes them in his online personal material as simply being from the USA -- no university name is given.
Nobody examined this matter closely until a few weeks ago, when The Hon got a speeding ticket and instead of paying it said that an old friend from America was driving the car. Police tracked down the woman, and she turned out to have been dead for three years. The Hon then said no, no, not THAT American friend; another American friend with the exact same name... Only no one could find any other person fitting that description with that name.
So the merde's already hitting the ventilateur for The Hon (some of his businesses are in bankruptcy too), and now it turns out he has not one but two bogus advanced degrees:
FORMER judge Marcus Einfeld obtained a PhD degree from a university that has been debunked in the US Congress as a "diploma mill".
Mr Einfeld, a former Federal Court judge, is facing a fraud squad investigation into evidence he gave to a Sydney magistrates court last week that allowed him to avoid a $77 speeding fine.
I'm afraid The Hon's response to all of this - You've got to be joking - is not a particularly good one. True, he has brazened out his entire life thus far with marked success; but when things begin to unravel -- when there's a lot to unravel -- events move fast.
UD's advice is for The Hon to fake his own death and resurface in Las Vegas.
Bring me the Head|
of Mary Beard!
Feminists the world over are sexually harassing Professor Mary Beard, who waxed nostalgic in her blog "for that, now outlawed, erotic dimension to (adult) pedagogy. ...It is naive to think that the powerful set of power relations in student- tutor relationships can be de-eroticised. You can police it, but you cannot deny history about this.”
Fay Weldon, in a terribly written piece, defends Beard. She shares a memory of her own:
Had I thought I had any hope of seducing [a professor to whom I was attracted], or even known how to set about it, I would have done my damnedest, in the hope of sopping up knowledge, wisdom, understanding and integrity, all the things students were hungry for, in that foreign country, once upon a time, long ago.
She was clearly never attracted to a prose stylist.
Christina Nehring is one of the best writers on the subject:
Teacher-student chemistry is what fires much of the best work that goes on in universities, even today... It need not be reckless. It need not be realized. It need not even be articulated or mutual. … In most cases, it would be counterproductive for it to emerge, itself, into the limelight. That said, it occasionally does. And when it does, it must not be criminalized.
Hat tip to Fred.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Bring Me the Head|
of Robert Darcy!
The gentle hand of T. Boone Pickens is felt at Oklahoma State University:
Robert Darcy, a regents professor of political science and statistics and past chairman of OSU's Faculty Council, nonetheless has complained about Pickens' heavy hand in school affairs. He was publicly critical of the $165 million gift, painting it as an example of the university's overemphasis on athletics.
From USA Today. Helmet tip: Cold Spring Shops.
A Distant Modem|
Lazy, hazy, summer day... Couldn't get online for a long while because of problems with a distant modem (wasn't that a book by Barbara Tuchman?)... Spent hours reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which I've assigned to my Contemporary American Literature class... Spent other hours writing a longish post -- call it an essay -- on Why the First Five Pages of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood are Among the Best Five Pages of Prose I've Ever Read (I'll post it tomorrow)... All of this in solitude because Mr. UD's at George Mason University, where there's a small conference dedicated to a work in progress of his, and UD's Joycean Spawn is at the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival at nearby Strathmore Hall (whose attractive grounds are directly across the street from Georgetown Prep, whereat a number of Duke lacrosse players were educated)...
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Relentlessly Individualist Ethos
The blog Power Line quotes from a forthcoming book about blogs:
Quite simply, the blogosphere exists because it fills a need. It was not brought into being by fiat; it evolved through the accumulation of individual acts. The many people who find it worth their investment in time and effort to create blog content surely do it because they find it fills a need for expression, for giving voice to their thoughts, in a way the previous outlets available to them did not. So, too, does the blogosphere fill a need for those who read the content, and participate in discussion by adding their comments. In this sense, then, the blogosphere represents a vox populi the technology did not determine, but did, instead, facilitate. This is clearly a free market perspective on the blogosphere; the author finds it the most satisfying understanding of it.
Penn State Avoids State Pen...|
...but does have to pay a complainant's legal fees, and ditch its restrictive speech policies.
Petulantly, Penn insists it was about to do that anyway all on its own ("University spokesman Bill Mahon said Penn State had been considering the policy changes even before [a student] brought the litigation."), but I guess sometimes people just need a little push -- in the form of legal cases costing thousands of dollars.
One professor is eloquent on the subject:
In effect, the whole campus is now a "free-speech zone." Demonstrators just need to comply with university rules and regulations -- and not interfere with university business, according to the revised policy.
In anticipation of the imminent release of this year's US News and World Report college rankings, a New York Times writer reviews the current state of higher education:
[The] United States ranks ninth among industrialized nations in higher-education attainment, in large measure because only 53 percent of students who enter college emerge with a bachelor’s degree, according to census data. And those who don’t finish pay an enormous price. For every $1 earned by a college graduate, someone leaving before obtaining a four-year degree earns only 67 cents.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Another Absent-Minded Professor|
' Professor Charged with Having Explosives
you talkin to me?
With a London Times Educational Supplement article in the works about academic blogging (UD was interviewed for it), and with quite a bit of chatter generally about the pros and cons of this increasingly popular and high-profile activity, it might be a good idea, as a new academic year begins, to think more deeply about where we are.
A recent post, in a blog called Urban Planning Research, sets the issues out nicely. The author notes, and quotes from, the very positive Economist magazine appraisal of blogs and blogging by economics professors (scroll down a bit for my take on this article). Academic blogs permit quick expression of ideas and quick response to them; they can earn a good blogger a large academic and non-academic audience and raise her posture as a public intellectual. They can benefit her university by drawing valuable attention to it. They add an undeniable dynamism and social engagement to intellectual activity.
But academic blogs, as Alan Jacobs and others have complained, can also be disappointing. The UCLA blogger quotes Jacobs:
As a member of the professoriate, I had long since gotten frustrated with the game-playing and slavishly imitative scholarship of the official academic world—all choreographed in advance by the ruthless demands of the tenure system—and I thought that the blogs could provide an alternative venue where more risky ideas could be offered and debated, where real intellectual progress might take place outside the System. ...[But the speed of the internet makes it] woefully deficient...for the development of ideas, [converting] really good scholars into really lousy journalists. With few exceptions, posts at the 'academic' or 'intellectual' blogs I used to frequent have become the brief and cursory announcement of opinions, not the free explorations of new and dynamic thinking.
The UCLA professor comments:
That is, by shifting their focus from scholarly content to just plain content, scholars regress to the internet equivalent of gabby radio talk show hosts. He calls this "an architectural deficiency" in the internet infrastructure.
I think he's right that it's up to individual bloggers to respond to Jacobs's legitimate gripe about superficiality. Timothy Burke's blog is a good model of what Jacobs is looking for -- Burke typically writes short essays every couple of days on political and academic subjects, interspersing them with personal anecdotes and with brief opinions in response to linked articles, and so forth.
But academic blogs are about more than what Jacobs describes. Robert KC Johnson's blogging about a ridiculous recent abridgement of academic freedom at Fredonia College no doubt helped (along with other bloggers and the organization FIRE) to turn that situation around. Academics blog for many reasons, not merely to express ideas in essay form. Sometimes they are blogging, as in this case, in defense of other academics.
And sometimes a blog regularly returns to a subject (corruption in university sports, for instance), offering occasional longer takes on it, but mainly building a certain critical mass of articles and brief commentary in order to give substance, texture, and topicality to an already argued position. Each particular posting can look superficial if you haven't followed the blog's established interest in the subject.
I think, too, that academic blogs are somewhat seasonal, offering less developed writing during summers and breaks, and more fully worked essays during the school year, when their readership is highest and most focused.
But, yes, Jacobs is right that there's a temptation to drift into facile commentary on academic blogs.
Eight Million Dollar Deficit|
From an opinion piece in Asbury Park Press:
[New Jersey's] $66 million fiscal slight to its state university ... prompted Rutgers' announcement that it would eliminate six varsity teams: men's tennis, swimming, heavyweight and lightweight crew, and men's and women's fencing. Rutgers did have a budget gap to close and hard choices to make. However, in the case of athletic department cuts, wielded with a hatchet rather than a scalpel, deleterious consequences will result not only to the 153 eliminated athletes but also to Rutgers and the state.
Inside Higher Ed's thoughtful piece this morning, on how universities recover from the sudden deaths of their presidents, reminded me of this Slate essay titled "Deathstyles of the Rich and Famous." (Of the four presidents IHE considers, one died in a private plane, another in the ocean near his Hilton Head vacation house and a third from the ledge of one of San Francisco's most luxurious apartment buildings.)
There are diseases of poverty, such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. There are diseases of affluence, such as lung cancer, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes. And then there are the hazards of extreme affluence, such as being thrown off a polo pony, flipping your Cigarette boat, or succumbing to altitude sickness on a vanity expedition to the Himalayas.
Monday, August 14, 2006
SUNY PRESIDENT DROWNS
The recently appointed president of SUNY Albany has drowned in a swimming accident at Hilton Head.
Selena Roberts, |
in the New York Times,
on the Auburn Grades Scandal
...Auburn, for more than a decade, has been among the N.C.A.A.’s most consistent visions on the perp walk of violators.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Snapshots from Home|
This is from an article in Saturday's Washington Post:
This summer, the National Trust for Historic Preservation identified 100 communities in 20 states as particularly at risk of losing their individual character. Among those in the Washington area were Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Garrett Park, Kensington and Somerset in suburban Maryland, the entire District of Columbia and parts of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County in Northern Virginia.
Whenever I come back from a trip -- like my recent week away at the house in upstate NY -- I'm amazed at how the mansionization of Garrett Park has progressed. Small houses like ours that sit on big forested lots are vanishing, and humongous ones with no yard space at all are taking their place. Garrett Park's mayor is quoted in the Post piece:
Carolyn Shawaker, mayor of Garrett Park, shares [the general] feelings of helplessness and blames it on what she sees as a pro-developer attitude among county planners. "That's made it harder for the little communities to do things to protect themselves," she said.
A resident of one of the at-risk towns comments: "It's almost the same as when people stopped driving cars and had to outdo each other with SUVs ... It's like there is peer pressure in whatever their realm might be. They're doing things that are not really necessary for their lives..."
Behind the treeless bohemoths lies belligerent resentment, a fuck you to the world.
Delicate well-meaning morsels like Garrett Park are helpless indeed against this degree of aggression.
(Scathing Online Schoolmarm)
(A University Diaries Feature)
Here's an article in the Arizona Republic, with UD's bracketed commentary.
For many students, college is an intellectual rite of passage. [Let's not go overboard. For some students.]
They're overplaying it...|
...It's Time magazine, after all... But this article, which notes that increasing numbers of Americans have calmed down about applying to universities, does suggest that the mainstream media may have tired of the College Admissions Nightmare story that's dominated fall semester coverage for the last couple of years.
Doom-laden stories are better than happy, reassuring ones, so we can certainly expect Time and other publications to continue trying to scare people about how they'll never get into a good college. But it's nice to see the truth -- there are many excellent, interesting, well-located colleges that'll set you up very nicely for graduate school, and you'll probably get in to one of them -- peeking out.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Auburn University Update|
"Tom Petee, a professor in AU’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work, has submitted his resignation as department chair," Auburn says in a press release. Petee's the guy who handed out independent study party favors to athletes.
And he was chair. Petee and his ephebes had a sweet deal going.
The party pooper was a zealous colleague, disdained by pretty much everyone on campus for lacking a sense of fun.
The university also announced it's going to try to make it difficult for any other faculty boosters to pull the "directed readings" thing.
So... it's scramble time once more at Auburn, where -- UD assumes -- the best minds on campus are putting their heads together to come up with a new winning run around academic eligibility rules.
As UD prepares to return to 'thesda...|
...she surveys her country domain -- a little house on a high hill in Summit, New York -- and is happy.
She was looking at photographs of country houses in some book awhile back, and one homeowner had hung a wooden sign over his front door that said WHILE YOU ARE HERE, BE HAPPY.
The late Allan Bloom was unhappy in the countryside, because for him life was all about the polis. Nature just sat there, he complained in Ravelstein, Saul Bellow's book about him. Human beings were the only really interesting thing.
Those of us ambivalent about other people find nothing lost and much gained by withdrawing from them on occasion and being by ourselves.
The Bellow character in Ravelstein tries to explain to his urban-only friend that quiet natural settings and their slow routines calm the spirit and keep time from slipping as hastily as it otherwise seems to do into the future. Bellow is "avid for inwardness," as a phrase from Rilke's Duino Elegies has it (a translated phrase, but one of great beauty), yet his political friend Bloom wants him out and about in the big city all the time -- a public man.
The real Bellow was as urban as he was rural. His autobiographical novel, Herzog, spends much of its time playing up the affinity between the fevered pace of New York City and Herzog's existential madness. Even when he gets to the countryside, Herzog broods about the wrongs others have done him.
During his own life, Bellow kept country places; and at the end, in writing Ravelstein, he paid homage to them. They build, he wrote, "reserves of stillness in your soul."
"Blogs have enabled economists," writes The Economist at the end of a recent article about academic blogs, "to turn their microphones into megaphones. In this model, the value of influence is priceless."
The writer begins by listing the usual suspects -- Posner and Becker, DeLong, Mankiw -- as well as their impressive daily readership ("Each week 3,000 people" read one economist's blog, "more than bought his last book." He comments: "I certainly have not found a comparable way to get my ideas out. It allows me to have a voice I would not otherwise get." In the case of DeLong, it's "more than 20,000 visitors daily."), and then quotes some of them on what they're doing. DeLong calls it "a place in the intellectual influence game." Becker and Posner use it for "instantaneous pooling (and hence correction, refinement, and amplification) of the ideas and opinions, facts and images, reportage and scholarship, generated by bloggers."
I like in particular this comment from Mankiw: "It's a natural extension of my day job - to engage in intellectual discourse about economics."
Recall Daniel Drezner's comment (I quoted it a few posts down) about an incompatibility between some elite universities and blogs. The Economist article points to one reason for this, citing a study that suggests "the internet's ability to spread knowledge beyond university classrooms has diminished the competitive edge that elite schools once held. Top universities benefited from having clusters of star professors. ... The faster flow of information and the waning importance of location - which blogs exemplify - have made it easier for economists from any university to have access to the best brains in their field. That anyone with an internet connection can sit in on a virtual lecture from Mr. DeLong means that his ideas move freely beyond the boundaries of Berkeley, creating a welfare gain for professors and the public." Such a person can do more than sit in. She can contribute.
The article concludes: "Universities can also benefit from this part of the equation. Although communications technology may have made a dent in the productivity edge of elite schools, productivity is hardly the only measure of success for a university. Prominent professors with popular blogs are good publicity, and distance in academia is not dead: the best students will seek proximity to the best minds. When a top university hires these academics, it enhances the reputations of the professors, too. That is likely to make blogs more popular."
Anti-blog types - Ivan Tribbles - ignore serious blogs because of their socially democratic, institutionally reformist energies. Tribbles dislike the look of the emergent intellectual landscape.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
I'm at Stagecoach Coffee, in hyper-well-tended Cooperstown, New York. Ms. and Mr. UD pride themselves on the fact that they've been here dozens of times and never entered the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Still, they like to look at everyone on the street duded up in their team's uniform. It's an intriguing contrast with the other town they always visit upstate: Woodstock.
We've gotten a string of spectacular August days and nights at our house in the hills.
I'm keeping track of comments to various UD posts whenever I get a few moments alone with a hotspot, as here at Stagecoach. But I don't have time to think and respond, or to write much of a post either -- that'll have to wait until our return to DC on Monday.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
UD's Friend Phil...|
...sends her this, by John Sutherland in the Guardian:
I teach part of the year at an American elite scientific institution, Caltech, where my classes are very un-elite Englit. I mentioned in passing to a "Techer", as they call themselves, that in my country universities were closing down departments of chemistry.
"Something very ugly."|
Well-meaning but rather vague opinion piece on college sports in Inside Higher Ed. But read the comments. They're the real thing.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
The New York Times introduces Daniel Drezner, and then quotes some of his comments in a recent Chronicle of Higher Ed:
'In the July 28 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s weekly review, Daniel W. Drezner discusses whether his popular, outspoken blog ruined his chances for tenure at the University of Chicago. He is now a tenured professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.'
'Blogs and prestigious university appointments do not mix terribly well. That is because top departments are profoundly risk-averse when it comes to senior hires. ... In such a situation, even small doubts about an individual become magnified.
Snapshots from Away|
The night sky outside this house in the New York woods is spectacular. A bright moon leaves the brim of the mountains visible, and also the blue clouds on top of them.
The house stands alone on a hill. There are no neighbors, and few lights. The large canopy above it glimmers with airliners and satellites and perseids. Below, when the sun is out, there are high forested hills and a green valley, mainly trees, with some fields. Behind the hills is a Catskill range.
After Washington's months of heat, the cold air here feels like a freak of nature, an instance of forgetting what August is supposed to be.
For the first time, we've sculpted the curved field that fronts the house, creating a maze of paths among its tall wildflowers. So you can walk the field (which I just did -- it's late morning now) and see the birds and snakes and spiderwebs in the stands of flowers. Butterflies settle on the rim of your hat.
The noise is incessant. Birdsong, crickets, the wind in the pines. Farm machinery. When you walk the dirt road at the bottom of the field, you can hear frogs squawk along the ponds.
But the traditional walk is on the twisty path that leads from the house to our pond, and to the neglected little cabin overlooking the pond. I always walk with a pair of scissors in my hands, because there's always overgrowth to clear.
I like the business of leisurely business here, the way you're always vaguely doing something useful as you wander about -- pulling reeds out of the pond, collecting twigs, resettling stones. Of course the house sits uninhabited most of the time -- we weren't able to be here at all last year, and this year we only got a week free --so we do little to alter the life of the property, outside or in. A new chaise for the deck, a white chest of drawers, planting a dozen perennials - these are the small measures we take with the place.
One larger measure this season is a serious pond cleaning. A local man will spend three days dragging the thing of logs and weeds.
But for us the main business is being here. Watching the weather write the book of the world, as Donald Hall, who lives on a farm in New Hampshire, puts it. Watching the world leaf through its summer chapter.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
UD's older sister, visiting 'thesda from her home in upstate New York, swears that temperatures there are supposed to dip into the seventies in the next couple of days. (She and UD have been locked for a week in an almost unbearably intense Scrabble tournament. At the moment, they're tied.) UD's about to pack for her trip today to her house in the hills near Cooperstown (where, the New York Times insists, there's a terrific Grandma Moses exhibit at the otherwise pretty dull Fenimore Museum), and finds this piece of information thrilling. The idea of putting sweaters in her luggage! The idea of clear cool nights under the shooting stars!
Blogging will be somewhat lighter for the next week as UD retreats to the ponds and the dairy farms.
Meanwhile, though, a note and a reminder:
*** I've been interviewed by a London Times reporter about academic blogging. Don't know when/if any of my remarks will appear in the paper, but I'll let you know.
*** Remember that when you go back in the archives of University Diaries, the number of comments for each post does not always appear at the bottom of the post. Sometimes just the word "Comments" appears. Click on this word. There may be no comments, or there may be twenty. I haven't gotten around to fixing this problem.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Sounds Like Fun|
Ricky Bobby [Will Ferrell] is famous for either winning races or wiping out trying. He's never come in second and never let his best friend and racing partner Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly) pull ahead at the finish line. Ricky's life is one long montage of victory laps, breathless ESPN tributes, and make-out sessions with his hot wife Carley (Leslie Bibb). That is, until he comes face to face with his arch-nemesis Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), a gay Frenchman who reads Camus and drinks café macchiato during races, all the while muttering senseless imprecations like, "And now ze matador shall dance with ze blind shoemaker."
-- from a review in slate of the new film, talledaga nights --
Thursday, August 03, 2006
...has definitely set in at the University of Wisconsin. After a few heady days defending the free speech rights of 9/11 conspiracy theorist and faculty member Kevin Barrett, the provost has leaned in for a closer look.
The distinction between Barrett's right to bark like a dog on the subject of 9/11, and the university's obligation to inflict Barrett's barking on its students, has, in the light of day, become clear to the provost, judging by the angry letter he's just written Barrett (who is scheduled to teach in the fall). Here's part of an AP story about it:
[The provost writes:] "In summary, if you continue to identify yourself with UW-Madison in your personal political messages or illustrate an inability to control your interest in publicity for your ideas, I would lose confidence ..."
Note the patronizing nature of the email. The provost writes to Barrett not as a colleague but as a wayward child.
No doubt this tone will offend Barrett (who after all is in possession of truths about the world the provost can never hope to grasp), and he will respond in kind, setting off a long epistolary give and take which we will all follow in the papers.
What the hell do you want?|
No player has been arrested
in more than two years.
"The off-season has long been as newsworthy for the University of Miami as the football season.
From the New York Times:
People who study exceptional longevity — the state of living to 100 or beyond — say factors like diet, exercise, health habits, social support and the ability to find meaning in life appear to play a role in getting people to, say, 85. But, some of them say, they suspect that genes play the dominant role in hitting 100 or above.
...to the photograph of the man in the cafe for a link to and a comment on the New York Times piece David Brooks is writing about:
'In all healthy societies, the middle-class people have wholesome middle-class values while the upper-crust bluebloods lead lives of cosseted leisure interrupted by infidelity, overdoses and hunting accidents. But in America today we’ve got this all bollixed up.
My only complaint is that Brooks is unfair to Beggerow, who as I recall was a steelworker for thirty years. He's earned his leisure. And he's doing some good things with it.
Advice from an |
"...[U]se your moral muscle only very sparingly. My father, a professional philosopher, has a job that involves thinking very hard about very difficult things. This, of course, is an activity that consumes mental resources at a terrific rate.
--- Cordelia Fine ---
via arts and letters daily
"Years ago, I paid for the New York Times and Barron's and spent Sunday mornings reading them to get caught up on the past week and prepare for the new one.
The only reliable paper element of my Sunday morning news ritual these days is the New York Times magazine crossword puzzle. And the acrostic.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Snapshots from Home|
From a New York Times obituary of a New Yorker magazine cartoonist:
On at least one occasion, Mr. Reilly's work influenced public policy, albeit briefly. In 1984, the town council of Garrett Park, Md., voted to install a traffic sign at a troublesome intersection. The sign, taken straight from one of Mr. Reilly's New Yorker cartoons, read: "At Least Slow Down (formerly STOP)."
I remember those signs fondly. They were indeed always stolen. We have the same trouble with our NUCLEAR FREE ZONE signs.
Along with one Glimmerglass opera, an afternoon in Cooperstown, and UD's birthday dinner at Woodstock's Bear Cafe, we like to take in Saratoga Springs when we're at our house in New York. We're driving there in a few days. But it sounds as though it's just as hellish upstate as it is down here in 'thesda:
Racing at Saratoga Race Course is canceled today because of extreme heat, according to William Nader, New York Racing Association senior vice president.
...does the New York Times run a lovely
photo like this, of a man enjoying an
afternoon in a cafe, reading a book?
Not very often. And when it does, it's part of
a story about unemployment:
Millions of men [...] — men in the prime of their lives, between 30 and 55 — have dropped out of regular work. They are turning down jobs they think beneath them or are unable to find work for which they are qualified, even as an expanding economy offers opportunities to work.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Priscilla Slade Update|
'Former Texas Southern University President Priscilla Slade was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury following accusations she misspent hundreds of thousands of school dollars to furnish and landscape her home.
From today's Herald Sun |
'Semen found in the house where three Duke lacrosse players allegedly raped an exotic dancer matches the DNA of two team members, but lawyers disagree about its potential impact on the unfolding case.
The Most Dysfunctional|
Business in America
[A]s programs vie to outspend one another, many go deep into the red, forcing schools to raise student fees and seek new sources of support. (Texas is a rarity: its program is self-sufficient and usually runs in the black.) Indeed, although many schools have increased revenue by adding premium seating and charging for seat licenses and ticket guarantees, they haven't improved their financial positions much, if at all. Unlike in the corporate world, most universities don't bother to track the returns on their sports investments beyond the win column. Despite the myth of massively profitable college-sports franchises built on the backs of unpaid players, only a handful of athletic programs manage to break even without university or student-fee subsidies.
Statement v. Statement|
Which is best?
Over my 15 years in public life, [Pretty good opening phrase -- an attempt at gravitas.] I've felt a responsibility [This word wants to deepen the aura of moral seriousness.] to speak honestly and openly [Americans, Patrick Kennedy's publicist/writer knows, like the language of openness and honesty. So much that spilling the beans is usually enough. No need to change the behavior about which you're spilling.] about my challenges [Challenges is good. Strong people like Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods have challenges. "Weaknesses" would undermine the moral equivalence.] with addiction and depression [The publicist has so far successfully medicalized everything.]. I've been fighting [Chariots of Fire rhetoric. Every day a Blakean battle.] this chronic disease since I was a young man, and have aggressively and periodically sought treatment so that I can live a full and productive life. [Has to dry out all the time. Could have put it more straightforwardly, but okay. If Rhode Island wants a person like this leading it, that's democracy.]
"After drinking alcohol on Thursday night [Publicist starts right in on narrative -- good idea. Kennedy's had far too much political filler.], I did a number of things that were very wrong [Barney the Dinosaur locution makes your reader feel you're talking down to her.] and for ["about" would be better] which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have [Again, this crosses the line between attractive simple direct statement and Barney], and was stopped by the L.A. County sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job [Cliche. And why is it there? Isn't it self-evident? Makes Gibson sound like the Hollywood padrone he is.] and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person [Gibson apparently tried to make a run for it when he saw the cops, so this doesn't ring very true.].
"Jet lag, loneliness and adrenalin." [The clear winner.]
Here's Strega Nona, from the popular
children's book, warning a little twerp
that only she can control the spell
whereby she creates endless pasta in
her cooking pot. The lad will ignore her,
of course, and overrun the town with
pasta because he doesn't know how to
turn off the spell.
Inside Higher Ed has a Stregna Nona story this morning, about a university president brought down by a boiling blog:
The author of the blog is unknown, and there is no consensus on the campus about who started it. What is known is that the blog first appeared on May 13, 2005. The blogmaster, using the pseudonym “Brewster Pennybaker,” attacked the president on a number of fronts, including leadership style ("Gupta tried to justify the cruel and callous way in which she has treated so many people at Alfred State"), skills ("When it comes to fund raising, the level of incompetence of Alfred State President Uma Gupta is almost beyond belief"), and even mental health. The posts were numerous, detailed, up-to-date, and generated many responses from an ever-growing readership.
This isn't really a story about blogs, though. Recall that American University's Benjamin Ladner also attempted to shut down critical blogs during his cartoonish presidency.
True, the technology of exposure and dissemination is better now (MIT's Susumu Tonegawa is the most recent high-profile person to be made aware of this); but what's notable about this story is not the burgeoning blog but the hapless president.