Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The president of the University of Nebraska has recommended that the chemistry professor there who brought explosives into his class (background here) and passed them around be fired. A faculty committee has also been activated.
The final salvo will come from the Board of Regents.
My man McLemee has it that I am salty.
In this morning's Inside Higher Education.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Instead of acting to impeach the most corrupt and negligent university trustee this side of... actually, I can't think of anyone remotely comparable to Preacher Hayes... the Alaska legislature has referred the matter to three committees.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Your Tax Dollars at Work|
Jacques Derrida "enjoyed the same status as Aristotle among the ancients," a professor at NYU tells a reporter from the LA Times.
Reading the reporter's article, you can see him struggling to make sense of this assertion. You can see him struggling to make sense of a certain subculture of humanities departments in American universities... trying to understand why a professor demoted by his university for sexual harassment, and then forced to settle out of court with the object of his harassment, left the University of California, Irvine an Associate Professor and resurfaced at the University of Florida a Professor and department chair.
The professor at issue, a friend of Derrida's in the last years of Derrida's life, has much to offer the University of Florida beyond a rather determined sexuality in regard to his graduate students. Four students at Rate My Professors describe his teaching:
there was no work. while that was a good thing, the class was utterly boring and pointless. vampire stories sounded interesting. it should have been called bad vampire videos. don't buy the books, there is no reading. the ta's do all the grading.
These reviews are from the professor's Irvine days, so the citizens of California were paying his salary. Now it's the turn of Florida's taxpayers to subsidize courses with no reading, no assignments, no comments on student papers, A's all around, and bad vampire videos.
All this and sexual harassment too! No wonder the University of Florida made him a department chair.
B-b-but... What's all of this got to do with Derrida, and with a news story worthy of the LA Times' attention?
When a vampire expert allegedly seduced a tipsy UC Irvine student four years ago, he inadvertently set off a chain of events that now jeopardizes the school's control of a dead philosopher's prized archives.
University of Oregon: |
Theater of the Absurd
The University of Oregon has the lowest faculty salaries in the Association of American Universities, along with pathetic academic budgets across the board. As a group of faculty point out in a recent opinion piece, the school is well on its way toward outright squalor:
Ancillary support services for teaching and research are fast disappearing. New and current faculty members are being lured away by other institutions. Many faculty now pay for classroom photocopying, business phone calls, and even students' books.
Yet the university plans to spend $213.5 million on what it calls a "theater of basketball."
...The price tag ... could be well above $200 million, again making the project one of the most expensive of its size ever.
While the university becomes an intellectual slum, "the athletic department," note some of its professors, "furnishes its offices with leather sofas, pays its coaches multimillion dollar salaries, charters private jets, etc."
The University of Oregon is a sort of American Turkmenistan, where autocrats build palaces for their amusement, and the rest of the place can go to hell.
Or so my reader Matt tells me.
I'm racing over to Gramophone now for details.
I know I shouldn't reproduce the whole thing. I'll put it up just for a moment, while I read through and excerpt.
The Gramophone article has now been excerpted.
Its author is James Inverne.
[A] letter [has been] sent from William Barrington-Coupe to the head of BIS records in which he makes a full confession of his wrongdoing in the Joyce Hatto affair.
There's Something Special in the Air...|
... It's L'Air du Ladner!
'American University announced Friday that the Internal Revenue Service has started an investigation into the institution for tax years 2004-6. A statement from the university said that it would cooperate with the IRS and that the development was “anticipated in light of the prior issues related to executive compensation matters.” That’s a polite way of referencing the 2005 ouster of former Benjamin Ladner as president — amid investigations into his expenses, including a personal chef, vacations in Europe, and an engagement party for his son. While no details are available on what the IRS is looking for, questions have been raised about both the payments and reimbursements Ladner received and his exit package.'
Scott Jaschik reports, in Inside Higher Ed.
Athough the head of the Smithsonian institutions is trying manfully, no one does executive overcompensation like Ben Ladner. Here's hoping the IRS investigation puts him back on the front page where he belongs.
Clemson University graduate and NBA player Elden Campbell was once asked if he earned a college degree. "No, but they gave me one anyway."
Quoted on the blog Money Players.
Although I'm Still Not Sure...|
...Joyce Hatto herself was as materially involved as Denis Dutton here suggests, I think he captures the important elements -- as we know them in this unfinished tale -- of the Hatto hoax, in this morning's New York Times.
In particular, there's the bathos everyone fell for: She "record[ed] Beethoven’s Sonata No. 26, 'Les Adieux,' from a wheelchair in her last days ... Nice touch, that, playing Beethoven’s farewell sonata from a wheelchair. ... [The Hatto hoax demonstrates the way] our expectations, our knowledge of a back story, can subtly, or perhaps even crudely, affect our aesthetic response."
Hatto possibly and her husband certainly were plagiarists: They "stole other pianists’ work and, with only a few electronic alterations, sold it as [their] own."
Sunday, February 25, 2007
La Spawn Smiles...|
... at the end of her long
choral weekend at the
Baltimore Radisson Hotel.
Between Twenty and Forty|
On Auden's centenary (it was February 21), a paragraph from his essay, "Reading" that seems to UD to have much to do with what a university education's supposed to be about:
Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity. Few of us can learn this without making mistakes, without trying to become a little more of a universal man than we are permitted to be. It is during this period that a writer can most easily be led astray by another writer or by some ideology. When someone between twenty and forty says, apropos of a work of art, "I know what I like," he is really saying "I have no taste of my own but accept the taste of my cultural milieu," because, between twenty and forty, the surest sign that a man has a genuine taste of his own is that he is uncertain of it. After forty, if we have not lost our authentic selves altogether, pleasure can again become what it was when we were children, the proper guide to what we should read.
Mr and Ms UD are off to Baltimore, to hear their kid sing in the Maryland All-State Chorus. Here's the program:
Corpus Christi Carol.....Trond Kverno
I'm bracing myself for "It Takes a Village."
Saturday, February 24, 2007
This Guy's Priorities |
Are So Fucked Up (erp)
'...If I were a University of Illinois student, alumnus or administrator, I wouldn't worry why a guy who proudly wears an Indian costume has danced his last dance.
The Barrington-Coupe Method|
'It seems that a pattern is emerging that Hatto hunters may want to keep in mind. The perpetrator seems to be avoiding (so far) the wholesale raiding of British independent labels, for the obvious reason that this would risk detection at home. This may also explain why Concert Artist has been so unwilling to seek international distribution, despite many requests and the urging of Hatto fans. Can it be that what began as a small-scale local scam took on a life of its own?'
David Hurwitz of ClassicsToday.com, quoted on this blog.
Can't Keep Up!|
It's Like Chasing Britney Spears!
...'Barrington-Coupe, who released dozens of CDs under his wife's name which are now claimed by audio experts to be identical to earlier recordings, served eight months in jail for tax evasion.
Isn't the Coaching Staff|
Supposed to Do This?
Is Professor Neck Paid?
Who Pays Him?
'Coach Seth Greenberg has done something this season that he's never done before. He's called in a motivational speaker.
...where basically everybody steals everything not nailed down, is relatively rare on any particular American university campus; yet UD has chronicled several cases of it on this blog, at places like the New Jersey University of Medicine and Dentistry, Texas Southern University, and large segments of the University of Alaska system (no one, in the entire State of Alaska, seems able to figure out how to get rid of a university trustee on trial for massive theft of federal funds -- a man who missed half of the trustees' meetings last year).
These are, again, rare cases of sweeping institution-wide crime. One of UD's readers, Fred, sends her another.
Bishop State's president has two jobs - she's both the college's chief executive and an Alabama state legislator. Her two jobs produce a very special sort of synergy which allows her and her colleagues to extract public monies at every point in the educational process.
... [I]t's hard to top the story of a [Bishop State] employee (since charged with a crime) whose 67-year-old disabled grandmother was receiving athletic scholarships to play three sports at Bishop State just months before she died.
As with the trustee bandit at the University of Alaska, it's possible Kennedy will be able to continue, until retirement, on her merry way.
Orchestral Suite for Polish Refugees|
'One hilarious detail emerges from the radio interviews: Barrington-Coupe claimed that his fictitious London orchestra was a "group of Polish refugees, working for non-union rates."'
Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise
Thursday, February 22, 2007
By the way...|
... the Joyce Hatto Ate My Albinoni Limerick Contest is still on. We've gotten some wonderful entries, but we're always looking for more.
Southern Illinois University|
Faculty and Staff:
UD Salutes You
Your university tried to shove a motivational speaker in your face.
You said fuck you.
"When less than 10 percent of SIUC's faculty and staff shows up to a presentation designed to motivate them - and pass this motivation on to their students - the faculty and staff validate the marketing report that called them prideless."
[The SIU student newspaper - I'll be quoting from its article about you - is angry with you. It thinks you ought to have gone.
"The university scheduled 10 of these meetings at different times and in different places in the past week to ensure everyone would have a chance to hear the speaker. Still, only a smattering of people showed up.
Maybe it's the administration's fault for not understanding what the faculty and staff need. Maybe it's the faculty and staff's fault for not cooperating with the university.
Either way, it is an issue.
[When an event] is ignored by 90 percent of the professionals at this university, it is a big deal."
[Yes - it tells you, the student, that your faculty refuses to sit in a room and listen to an idiot. You should be pleased.]
"The faculty had a lecture to go to. It wasn't mandatory, but it was recommended. And valuable information - ways to improve the quality of the university's product - was discussed. Most of the faculty and staff decided not to attend."
[Because they don't think of what they do as producing a "product," as one produces a urine sample. Talk to your school's administrators, who need accounting rather than motivational instruction, about why your university is so weak.]
"The administration paid $20,000 for this speaker. This is $20,000 that could have gone to deferred maintenance, technology or to the return of some of Morris Library's journals that had to be cancelled for lack of money."
[Absolutely. It was a total waste of money.]
"But the university chose to spend this money to try to inspire those whose job it is to inspire, and re-instill a sense of pride. It was a noble gesture, and it disappoints us that it may not work out."
[It was - as the response suggests - an idiotic gesture, recognized as such by your faculty. Professors don't need some yahoo yelling at them to crinkle up a big ol' smile every morning and fill their lungs with pride. Thoughtful people understand this shit for what it is. Your upper-level administrators apparently do not. You should feel motivated to militate for new upper-level administrators who aren't hucksters.]
"Professors, teaching assistants and other educators would agree that 10 percent is a failure.
As students, we give the faculty and staff an F."
[As UD, I give them an A plus plus. What the hell - they've graduated with honors.]
Here, by the way, is the smileyface in question, SIU faculty's master facilitator. Why doesn't his biography list any college degrees?
Here's some of what SIU's professors had in store, philosophy-wise.
UPDATE: My man McLemee takes me on a walk down motivational memory lane.
"We have yet to investigate a Hatto|
recording that has not proved to be...
... a hoax," says Andrew Rose, a sound engineer interviewed for a story in today's Washington Post.
Barrington-Coupe, the hoaxer, has gone (in a progression in strict accord with the hoaxer-found-out script) from bewilderment to belligerence, accusing his accusers of creating a "culture of fear" in the classical music world.
The only one living in fear is the selfsame Barrington-Coupe, who faces not only ignominy but lawsuits.
... on America's most expensive university, in that university's student newspaper.
...a longtime Creative Writing professor at Johns Hopkins University, confirms much of what UD said in her Culte de Moi essay, which tries to hack back some of the Creative Writing kudzu that's strangling her students' education.
Excerpts from a City Paper interview with him.
'Dixon has been a tenured professor in the Hopkins Writing Seminars for 26 years. That's a long time, and a lot of manuscripts. It's also been a period of great change in the educational marketplace. When Dixon first received the Stegner Fellowship in 1964, there were three schools that offered paid fellowships for graduate writers: the University of Iowa, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford University. Now there are more than 150 graduate programs and 350 undergraduate creative writing majors in the United States.
---james elias - for this link much thanks...---
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Penn State--State Pen Joke In Here Somewhere,|
But It's Four O'Clock in the Morning
'With two more sex offenders joining a slew of misbehaving colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania - including Wharton professor emeritus L. Scott Ward, who pleaded guilty yesterday to producing child pornography - the school is reexamining its hiring practices...
A Crimson Writer|
on James Sherley
Sherley began his vigil against the oppressors [who] comprise the administration of MIT. The university that had refused to grant the poor man tenure would be forced to watch him die.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Greece Does It.|
"Greek universities cannot afford to be left behind," said the Prime Minister today, announcing the approval of "draft legislation designed to give state universities greater independence — bolstering plans to allow private universities for the first time."
Beyond introducing privatization and tuition, the law, expected to be approved by parliament, will "cap the number of years for students to complete their degrees, and reduce transfers from provincial to urban universities. It [will] also relax asylum rules banning police from all campus grounds, a provision often exploited during violent public protests."
Expect student reactionaries to do immense amounts of physical and institutional damage to the country's universities before this is over.
Athletics Purring Along Nicely|
at the University of Minnesota
'As of March 31, 2006, athletics had $39 million of debt. The interest on those loans alone cost the department nearly $5 million during 2005-2006.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For Joyce Hatto|
The Telegraph gets the Barrington-Coupe coup.
We're at Scene II: Amazement/Denial.
"I was astounded. I had no idea it was coming." He disputed the accuracy of the expert analysis of the CDs saying "the evidence that they rely on isn't proven – it would have been possible to change the speed of the recordings until they matched".
Jeff writes: "It isn't the case that you can just 'change the speed of the recordings until they matched' - the wave-form graphs don't match in such circumstances."
Monday, February 19, 2007
Hatto Limerick #5|
Matt serves up a nice one, with a little editing by UD to make it scan better.
In the old days the great music masters
Hatto Limerick #4|
Jeff devotes more of his energy to this worthy pursuit.
Though software unmasked Ms. Joyce Hatto,
Hatto by the Hour|
"Today there is discussion on the newsgroups of the possibility that a woman named Joyce Hatto who died not in June 2006 but back in 2002 may be the pianist herself. The recordings issued by her husband began appearing in 2003. Someone in the group is traveling to the town in question today to check the official records.
From the blog Scratchings.
Third Hatto Hoax Limerick; and,|
IMHO, So Far the Clear Champeen:
The critics' acclaim for Joyce Hatto
Whatever Happened to Baby Joyce?|
Things are getting weirder in the Joyce Hatto hoax. Here's a recent comment on a classical music thread:
Ms Hatto's [this link should now work - earlier one was wrong - thanks, marcee] death in June last year is being called into question, as is the treatment she allegedly received in Addenbrooks hospital in Cambridge, UK and whether she even had cancer at all; after all, she was supposedly diagnosed with it in 1970 and survived until 2006, which is pretty extraordinary (though perhaps not entirely impossible). Questions are now being asked as to whether she may have died many years ago and also whether the same or similar fakery might have attached to the Sergio Fiorentino recordings on the same label. Hospital records are, of course, confidential, even after death (other than to the executors of the deceased and not even always to them), but death certification (including cause of death) is in the public domain so can - and no doubt shortly will - be checked by those interested in pursuing such things. Some people are also interested in checking the authenticity of the marriage (if any) between Hatto and William Barrington-Coupe, which would also be public domain material if it exists.
The main question remains, as another commenter writes:
"[W]hy would anyone do this? ...[S]omething pathological that ... I don't want to think about...."
He voices everyone's wonderment. How did it happen? What could have been the motive?
For what it's worth, here's a theory. Or just a story.
Think Norma Desmond, Miss Havisham, Baby Jane, and the mother of Norman Bates. Think Frankenstein; think Awakenings. This is a living dead tale, a twisted reanimation project.
In order for it to have worked, it needed an impressario -- in this case, Hatto's husband -- and a snobby world of music lovers, ever-alert for emerging phenomena of which only they and other cogniscienti would be aware. ("What? You haven't heard of Hatto...?").
The key player in this scenario, though, is Hatto's husband, so let us look more closely.
My theory dismisses Hatto herself as a significant player in the hoax. She is very ill, very old, very tired. Mentally, she is weakened from decades of fighting her illness, and decades of isolation from the world. She is in no position to intervene in her husband's machinations. Even if she is aware of them, she doesn't understand them. Seeing her husband busy in the studio, she's probably pleased he's got something other than worrying about her to do.
She and her husband live a removed, eccentric life, self-sufficient yet lurid, with her terrible slow-motion decline. Her husband spends his days wasting time in his little recording studio, absent-mindedly mixing this, stretching that... techno-fiddling, to no point...
Under the pressures of isolation, illness, misery, and eccentricity, both husband and wife begin to go batty. Mentally, she's now back in her glory days, and he joins her there, with long conversations between the two of them that embellish her triumphs. "You were the greatest, darling... the absolute greatest... listen..."
He delights her by playing her old recordings... though maybe one day for whatever reason he doesn't play one of hers, but someone else's... maybe just meaning to entertain her with another pianist's work... But she says "I remember that one!" And he plays along... "Yes, that one... I remember that one..."
As a kind of present to her he begins creating cd's that mix some of her tracks with those of others. What's the harm in allowing her last months to be a somewhat fictive luxuriating in her brilliant truncated career? There's a satisfaction in it for both of them, this sonic affirmation of her genius.
"What have you been doing? How are the two of you?" a friend, and a fan of Joyce's, asks her husband one day. "We're preparing cd's of her performances," he finds himself responding; and his friend says: "What? You mean new performances...?"
And seeing the excitement on his friend's face, Hatto's husband senses what it would mean to the world if his wife rose from her sickbed...if she roused herself for a final sweep of the repertoire...
As she fades into dreams in her bed, he is completely alone, in a world full of her sound. He sits in his studio, panicked at her imminent loss, compulsively playing her work, and it occurs to him that the only way to monumentalize her, the only way to keep her alive, as it were, is to create a great comprehensive offering of her work.
His method is postmodern bricolage -- a little of this, a little of that -- with Joyce herself eventually dropping out altogether in his relentless search for the very very best rendering of each piece... Of course he recognizes that these artists are not his wife; yet her spirit infuses each piece. Without her championing of these sorts of pieces, without the example of her genius, none of this music could have been made...
Sunday, February 18, 2007
UD Quoted in the LA Times...|
...on the sort of culture in which David Swensen is a working class hero.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Hatto Hoax Limerick #2|
UD initially tried writing a limerick whose first line ended with Hatto, but she discarded the final product because she ended up having to use too many Italian words.
Jeff solved the Italian problem in this very nice effort:
Some critics extolled unknown Hatto;
(Note that both of our limericks, arrived at separately, end with excrement.)
Looks as though...|
...UD will be quoted in tomorrow's Los Angeles Times about escalating tuition at American universities. I'll link to it when I see it.
One of UD's heroes.
A Guardian Columnist...|
...notes the high numbers of novelists taking university positions (the two most recent are Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie), and speculates a bit about why the university campus is such a popular setting for fiction:
The attractions of the campus for the novelist are clear enough - the closed space, the clear power relations and the mismatch between the life of the mind and the life of the academic.
In the article's comment thread, readers speculate too:
The abundant supply of nubile young bodies and the underlying sense that [the writers'] best days are already behind them, perhaps?
[The] university represents the flowering of exciting experiences, both intellectually and emotionally. It's not surprising that this would be a popular setting for novelists.
What's the appeal? Maybe it's just that you can have an eccentric cast of characters (the academics) in a situation from which they can't easily escape (not unlike an old fashioned country house murder mystery), they have time on their hands for all sorts of mischief, there's an awful lot of political manoeuvring, and grudges are formed and held (plus nubile young students to stir things up a bit).
Mr. W. Barrington-Coupe
Finds himself in some rather hot soup:
His recent carouse
On behalf of his spouse
Is beginning to turn into poop.
Initial denials among the faithful are at an end; the topic online has turned to motivation. Here's an excerpt from a poster with some knowledge of Hatto and her husband. (The husband's last name, by the way, is Barrington-Coupe. Watch for the name of the hoax to change from the Hatto Hoax to the Barrington-Coupe Hoax as its real - and probably sole - author is revealed):
'[W]hy would anyone bother to perpetuate such a hoax? Concert Artists is such a tiny label with no distributor, as I understand it, outside of the UK. So, the alleged hoax couldn't possibly be for commercial reasons, right? In fact, ordering from them is next to impossible. Never once did a shipment arrive. No loss to me, of course, since their policy is to ship first and ask for payment only upon receipt. I have ordered, in the past, over 15 CDs -- none of which have ever arrived. I have had to use other UK distributors.
"The iPod Did Her In."|
UD's friend Jeff, a musicologist, identifies the technical source of pianist Joyce Hatto's downfall, though larger questions of motive remain, in a bigtime breaking hoax involving musical plagiarism.
You know, if you know UD, that she loves hoaxes; yet this one seems to her too sad and unsettling to enjoy, centering as it does on a dead woman and a devoted husband, rather than on the wretched desperate schemers you usually find behind these tricks.
A very promising concert pianist when younger, Hatto got sick with cancer decades ago and left the stage.
Her husband recently released, on his small label, an astonishing series of recordings of Hatto playing, at the very end of her illness, a range of the most challenging compositions for the instrument. This achievement -- a woman in the last stages of cancer producing a significant body of brilliant recordings -- stunned the music world, which hailed her posthumously as not only courageous, but the best unknown pianist in history. "To love [Joyce] Hatto [piano] recordings was to be in the know, a true piano aficionado who didn’t need the hype of a major label’s marketing spend to recognise a good, a great, thing when they heard it," writes one observer.
Yet even before iPods began identifying Hatto's swan song as the recordings of other pianists which had been slightly tampered with and then appropriated, there were problems with Hatto's husband's claims about the way his recording studio operated. As the Telegraph notes, "The idea was that she had cancer and didn't want to be seen so her husband built a studio for her, but nobody explained how they managed to squeeze an entire orchestra in there." In an online chat, a listener remarked: "It is hard to believe that one pianist unknown to us suddenly plays every composition in the repertoire better than any other pianist ever did."
Despite its seeming lack of cynical and mercenary motives (it may turn out to be about these; it's just that at this early stage it seems to UD to be about something else, a kind of mad devotion on the part of the husband), the Hatto story does in one important respect look like your classic hoax. It has the too-good-to-be-true plot elements that seduce people who have an intense desire to believe certain things.
This is the familiar kitsch aspect of hoax, the way it often features a feel-good storyline that one can't resist. In this instance, everyone wanted to believe in the scrappy heroine who struggles against her own mortality to make one last great aesthetic gesture. It's as if you were told that Jacqueline du Pre's multiple sclerosis went into remission for two weeks at the end of her life, allowing her to record a transcendent Elgar interpretation. Irresistable.
But of course this is where audiences need to be skeptical. Any series of events that plays so perfectly into their desires is liable to be manufactured by someone who knows all too well the profundity of those desires.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Sold to the Highest Bidder|
John Canzano, The Oregonian: Excerpts:
UO Sells Out in Exchange for New Arena
UD's intrigued by American university professors who use their students as cash machines.
Sometimes this is done straightforwardly, as in this case, and this one. Sometimes the professor comes at it from a slight angle.
In the case of Liz Applegate, a professor at UC Davis ... well, let's see what the campus paper has to say about Professor Applegate, who, along with the textbook in question, has authored Bounce your Body Beautiful, and "How to Survive if You Have Excessive Gas."
Feel like you've been scammed by a professor before? The students of Elizabeth Applegate's Nutrition 10 class, "Discoveries and Concepts in Nutrition," certainly feel that way.
Signs of Life at FIU|
Nicely written student editorial in the Florida International University newspaper, in which the following points are made:
1. Our team sucks so most of us don't care about it and don't go to its games.
2. We already have a stadium for the team to use.
3. The administration is about to raise our student fees to pay for a new stadium.
4. The stadium will feature things like overpriced luxury seats for stupid rich people.
5. It's degrading to be associated with any of this. Leave us alone.
"The Increasingly Lawless World|
of Greek State Universities"
The Greek street protesters who are rioting against any reform of the most depraved university system in Europe turn from trashing secular campuses to trashing religious:
'[Activists] have caused serious damage to the building of the Theology School of the Thessaloniki university after a week of occupying the premises as part of the student protest against the government. This time around though, [they] have desecrated holy icons -- they scratched off the eyes [of statues] and sprayed Nazi symbols all over them -- and left emetic graffiti against the Orthodox faith all over the walls. This was on top of destroying classrooms and administrative offices and stealing computer equipment [.... ] The government spokesman had no comment on [the] Theology School desecration, but Archbishop Christodoulos issued a strong[ly]-worded statement [see the statement in Greek].'
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
YOU ARE THERE|
[My little slide show of daily life at the nation's most expensive university (scroll down) did little to satisfy the curiosity of UD readers, who continue to pester UD with "what's it like to be there" questions. I've therefore decided to introduce a new running feature, which I'll call -- after the old CBS show -- YOU ARE THERE.]
The escalator that lifts me from my meticulous car on the Washington Metro to the top of the Foggy Bottom station in the morning is quick and quiet.
Street level, I'm greeted by four men with live computer consoles floating above their heads. I don't know what they're selling, or how their computers are attached to them, but the men are fun to look at.
Above the consoles floats a mild and cloudless morning. The sky is broken by the khaki and silver of the President's helicopter approaching the White House helipad.
Latte at the hospital Starbucks? It's ten paces to my left, through the quiet doors of the lobby, where a security guard will nod at my GW card. I can sit at a big table, stretch out my books and papers, and listen to interns at the next table discuss Senator Johnson's prognosis. I can glance outside at the men with computers on their heads.
Latte at the library Starbucks? Its interior is amazing. From 18th Street's mild air, I enter an aromatic den in which students, their fingers clicking out a background to Ella Fitzgerald, stare at laptops. Alpaca coats and pashmina scarves cover armchairs. Everyone's wearing boots, jeans, and turtlenecks. Little smoky vignettes arise as people here and there sip from their cups and replace them on grainy tables.
In Academic Center, my office is all windows. Last semester the Defense Department's white security blimp hovered outside for hours. When Presidents visit, we stay away from our windows while, on nearby rooftops, soldiers with machine guns watch us. Pompous motorcades, all fluttering flags and throttled engines, also make good viewing.
My before-lunch class, two floors down from my office in a high-tech classroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, is composed of thirty-five young people who have thoughtful things to say about James Baldwin's short story, "Sonny's Blues." The heroin haze of its setting is as far from most of their lives as it is from mine, but Baldwin's theme is existential, and we're more or less getting it.
Lunch is a chance to relaunch an old friendship at a restaurant behind the State Department. My friend and I have a couple of years of catching up to do, and as we talk about our lives, we overhear foreign service officers discussing their next assignment in Croatia, daily life in Baghdad's Green Zone, and rumors of high-level resignations. The restaurant is brightly lit, and full of flowers.
My after-lunch class, down the hallway from my office, is a discussion of James Joyce's early struggles as a writer. I can see that a number of my students, themselves ambitious to write, are fascinated by Joyce's insane determination. Two of them come up to me after class and want to know more.
It's late afternoon, and I'm back in my office, packing up for the day -- which means cradling Joyce's Ulysses and the Norton Anthology of Short Stories against my chest (no briefcases for me), along with a lined notebook, and heading back to the Metro.
The men with the computers coming out of their heads are gone; the man who sells tulips and roses is there now. Everyone's holding a Starbucks cup which puffs a little smoke into the air. It's crowded as I descend the escalator, but still quiet, and the Metro car is quiet too, with a few pulsing cellphones. I open Ulysses to Molly Bloom's soliloquy. The woman next to me reads along.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
Here's a charming article about grad school in the humanities, in the Yale Daily News, by a graduate student there. Excerpts follow, with occasional style suggestions by SOS in parenthesis.
It was around this time last year when I got the “Magic Words” [drop quotation marks] from Yale telling me that I had been admitted. I was studying with my best friend at Amer’s café in Ann Arbor when I saw a “203" [drop quotation marks] number call my cell phone. I then peed on myself — just a little. [Drop 'just a little.'] I don’t know if you know this or not, but most schools (in the humanities) call if you’ve been admitted — not to add to your anxiety or anything. [Put "not to add" phrase in the middle of the sentence. Remember: You want to end sentences with your strongest stuff, which in this case is "call if you've been admitted."] And you’ll think I’m a total dork when I tell you that I actually [drop "you'll think I'm a total dork when I tell you that I actually"] memorized the area codes for the 11 schools I applied to: When Yale called, I knew before I even picked up the phone [drop "the phone."] . And the congratulations conversation went a little something like this: [Drop "And." Drop "a little something." Getting the idea? Less is more. Trust me.]
I know some of my editorial suggestions seem to take a lot of the fun out of this, but read it my way and see whether it's not snappier.
Thoughtful article in GW's Daily Colonial newspaper about the university's culture of creative writing, to which a recent essay of UD's, writes the reporter, has added a dab of color:
Soltan published a controversial essay in Le Culte du Moi last semester entitled “Zero Creative Writing Growth,” which was written in response to honors program English students who chose to take creative writing courses over literature courses. In the piece, Soltan asserts that “Nothing strangles serious writing faster than...unearned praise, self-absorption, and shallow learning. To which I’ll add another destructive element: lack of worldly experience.”
Monday, February 12, 2007
Slate's Jack Shafer, who prides himself on his bullshit detection, fell for quite the turd himself a few years ago, when some guy claiming to have gone fishing for monkeys got himself published in Slate, thanks to Shafer's enthusiasm.
The minute the story appeared people called it crap, but Slate's been temporizing about its accuracy ever since.
Only now, with a big Columbia Journalism Review article about its total obvious falsehood (lately confirmed by the wretched writer himself) about to appear, has Slate fully disavowed the story.
This unfolding of events featured two male primates - the guy who wrote the original piece, and Shafer, whose primitive ego still can't admit wrongdoing:
'Wary of describing lessons learned from the episode, Mr. Shafer noted that “any publication can be duped by a writer who is prepared to lie in a suicidal fashion and commit career suicide.”'
That's real dramatic and all about the suicide, but it isn't true that any publication can be duped by people writing about fishing for monkeys. Only dupes get duped.
As a Class...|
...professors can be hard to take. Most people don't like them; many people heartily dislike them. Their representations in American culture are almost always negative -- oddball, arrogant, lazy, childish, shabby...
On balance, UD rather likes professors. She's lived among them all her life, and she has chronicled them rather closely in this her blog, and though more than a few of them are jerks, as a group they can be funny, smart, and subversive in socially useful ways.
Look, for instance, at how some of them are acting at Duke University these days. Like a high-profile marriage that's suddenly and sordidly ripped apart, professorial Duke, post-lacrosse, is really showing its pro-athletes/anti-athletes seams.
Yet in many of their comments and activities, faculty members there are making UD proud.
Here, from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, are a couple of examples:
(1.) One Duke professor,
[w]hen asked whether he "welcomes" all students to his classes... dismisses the word itself. "I admit students to my classes. I do not welcome them," he says. "I am not at the door shaking people's hands. They just come in and take their seats."
This man understands that serious university classrooms are not Phil Donahue studios. Course evaluation forms that ask whether your professor made every day feel like Valentine's Day, and other make-nice pressures from consumer-driven administrations, have led a lot of professors to give up teaching for ass kissing. This is a very bad trend, and UD's pleased to see this guy growling about it.
(2.) Another Duke professor
...started an effort to help faculty members better understand the athletics program. He pairs professors with particular sports teams. Each professor goes to a few practices, spends time with the players (including men's lacrosse and the high-powered men's basketball team), and travels to away games when possible.
Also pleasing to UD.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
When Academia Attacks|
...[S]aving Clemson football from a severe attack of academia is a front-burner issue that has some Tigers fans cussing, confused and confounded by what they see as the misguided notion of putting college back in college football.
---charleston post and courier---
Saturday, February 10, 2007
UD Has Followed For-Profit Colleges...|
... carefully enough on this blog that nothing in this long New York Times article about the best-known of them, Phoenix, will be a surprise to her readers. If you can see a difference between these places and diploma mills, let me know.
I Want Ephedra!|
A professor of French literature at Dartmouth, author of an essay titled "I Want Vulva! Cixous and the Poetics of the Body," has been arrested for stealing sixty dollars worth of dietary supplements from a food co-op.
...already the most expensive in the world,
is now also the first to have broken the
$50,000 a year barrier.
Many readers have emailed to ask UD
what it's like to teach in the most expensive
university in the world. Here's a glimpse of
a typical day:
You begin with the Golden Key
that opens the door to the Spiral Stairway...
...which takes you to the Library
where books are brought by staff as you lie abed.
Typical faculty office.
The UN's Trinity Project|
More diploma milling, this time in very high places. United Nations employees have been sharing among themselves the word on Trinity College and University, which has now graduated quite a number of them, including the UN's chief of the Human Resources Information Technology Section.
'The United Nations fired a staff member in November because his academic degrees turned out to come from a well-known Internet diploma mill, not a legitimate university, a U.N. official said Friday.
Friday, February 09, 2007
UD's old friend Jeff, who has taught at Penn for years, had wonderful things to say, over dinner at Garrett Park's Black Market restaurant the other night, about Drew Gilpin Faust, who's about to be named Harvard's next president.
If things go poorly with her presidency, brace for the overuse of the phrase "Faustian bargain."
Yikes. Didn't think it'd happen this fast.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Edwards Roi |
Mere Edwards: If I were you, what I'd want to do with my arse would be to install it on a throne. You could increase your fortune indefinitely, have sausages whenever you liked, and ride through the streets in a carriage.
Pere Edwards: If I were King of Orange County, I'd have a big headpiece...
Mere Edwards: And you could get yourself an umbrella and a great big cloak that would go right down to your feet.
Pere Edwards: Ah! I yield to temptation. Clod of a shitter, shitter of a clod...
Mere Edwards: Oh good, Pere Edwards, now you're a real man.
Pere Edwards: Huh! I'm getting rich! I'm going to have MY list of MY property read. Clerk, read MY list of MY property.
Clerk: County of Orange. Chapel on the Hill. Raleigh Town. County of Randolph.
Pere Edwards: Is that all?
Clerk: That's all.
Pere Edwards: Pshit. I'm off to get some more. Mere Edwards, I leave the regency in your hands. But I've got the cash book on me, so you'll regret it if you rob me.
Why Ohio University Had to|
Shut Down All Those Other Sports
The disgraced Ohio University athletic program, which has dealt with having overspent itself into catastrophe by shutting down a bunch of sports that actual students engage in [background here], describes, in this article , some of its typical expenditures. Among them:
[T]he football team stays at the Burr Oak State Park lodge on the nights before home games during a typical season. The move costs the department about $31,000 per year...
Details on this swell group of guys here.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Quotation of the Day|
"After introducing their new home on her husband's campaign Web site, Elizabeth Edwards explained the couple had taken special precautions to make [their 28,000-square-foot estate] energy efficient."
Be It Ever So Decadent,|
There's No Place Like Home
This is the clearest, most honest statement of an important American reality -- several of our universities are training facilities whose attitude toward the education of some of their neediest students is not indifference so much as active hostility -- that I've yet seen. You won't hear it from the NCAA. Only from the mouths of babes.
The Saluki Way,|
In All Its Squalor
'Our library, to the best of my knowledge, is still seeking funding for the upper floor of the extensive Morris Library expansion project. The rooms in Faner Hall are only half lit (apparently there was a shortage of funds for light bulbs one year, and they had to make do with what they had) and it was only recently that most of the extremely uncomfortable classroom chairs were replaced with something much more modern. This latest travesty to education - Morris Library cutting journal subscriptions to balance the budget - is where I, and hopefully many readers, can no longer remain silent.
From an opinion piece in the Southern Illinois student newspaper.
How the Game is Played
From an interview with the head of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America about Ohio University's decision to cut men's swimming, men's indoor and outdoor track and field, and women's lacrosse, citing a four million dollar athletic department deficit:
"[E]ven as the A.D. is crying 'poverty,' he plans to move on with building a $20 million indoor football practice facility. When asked, he says 'most' of the $20 million will come from 'private donations.' But he's unclear about how much 'most' is. It could be just pennies more than $10 million. Or it might be 11 to 12 million, or maybe even 15. Whatever it is, it will only add to the deficit, perhaps doubling or even tripling it."
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Your Federal Taxes at Work
So I'm bragging to Neelam (she made me dinner the other night, you recall, while we watched the Super Bowl at her house) about my hemoglobin number, which the ladies at the National Institutes of Health blood bank -- where I give blood -- often tell me is impressively high... And instead of looking impressed, Neelam looks worried.
"Ask your doctor," she says - and I suddenly remember that not only is Neelam a doctor, she specializes in diseases of the blood - "to test you for hemochromatosis."
"Isn't a good thing to have a high number? You're not anemic, etc.?"
"Yes, but you don't want the number too high. If it's too high, you might have... I'll write down the name for you."
"That's okay. I'll remember..."
"But listen," she said, and started to laugh: "If you do have hemochromatosis, the cure is giving blood every couple of months, and you've been doing that for ten years! You've been managing your own disorder without knowing it!"
My hemoglobin number today was middling, so I don't think I've got hemochromatosis. Whatever the word is for freezing of the blood would be more like it, with insanely cold weather lacing into me as I climbed the hill from the NIH security trailer to the Clinical Center. White smoke poured out of postmodern buildings along the way, giving them a preindustrial look.
"Whoa. Your pulse is way too high," said the nurse who makes you pass all these tests before you can donate. "You wanna sit for awhile and maybe it'll come down? ...Your blood pressure's too high too. Did you have a lot of coffee this morning?"
"Tea and pizza. I think the walk here did it."
I leafed through an Air and Space Museum book of photos of vintage cockpits, which put me right to sleep. In minutes, my numbers were in the normal range and I was able to give.
I have attractive blood: O positive and CMV negative. A combination much sought after by blood banks the world over.
But I like NIH, for reasons I've mentioned before on this blog: My father spent his career studying cancer at NIH. And when you give at NIH, you know your blood goes, pretty much right away, to sick people a couple of floors up. The part that doesn't go upstairs is used in the same building, for experiments.
The blood bank usually gives me a t-shirt or a pen or a bracelet when I'm done, but today I was handed an ice scraper.
Instant Messaging Classes|
Catharine R. Stimpson, once head of the Modern Language Association, now a prisoner at Riker's Island (just kidding: now a dean at NYU), responds, in today's Inside Higher Ed, to the recent MLA report arguing against what UD has called bookolatry in humanities departments:
...[T]he MLA report urges us to ask why the monograph has become the pinnacle of scholarly achievement, “the gold standard.” Why not the essay, or a series of linked essays? Why not other forms of scholarly achievement? And why must the dissertation be a “proto-book?” Why indeed?
The bookolatry thing is at a curious cultural moment: Virtually everyone willing to write about it agrees that it's absurd to demand one two three eleven books out of people up for tenure; yet virtually no research-university English departments, I suspect, have pulled themselves together to act on their belief that it's absurd.
Stimpson's writing style is a tad oracular for UD, but she says a couple of other important things, like:
...Despite all the national studies, including this report, about the oversupply of doctorates in the humanities, self-interested, faculty-controlled graduate programs are still too reluctant to limit admissions, still suspicious about doing regional coordination of graduate curricula and courses, and still petitioning for more financial aid and more students to teach. It is vulgar to call this a case of “Bring in the clones,” but the phenomenon yet again reveals, I have sadly concluded, how much easier it is to act on behalf of one’s self and one’s family, here the department or program, than on behalf of more abstract and psychologically distant goods, here the well-being of potential graduate students and of the profession as a whole.
This is well put, and points starkly to the moral failure at the heart of many departments. Again, as with the tenure monograph business, you could probably get many thoughtful people in departments to agree with Stimpson. Actually changing the situation is more difficult.
Finally, Stimpson sketches a classroom scenario all too familiar to anyone who (like UD) has read with care many of the comments students make on sites like Rate My Professors:
I miss in the report a passionate yet logical definition and defense of tenure that I might use for several audiences —- the tuition-paying students who quickly turn to instant messaging in a class taught by a member of the Dead Wood Society, the trustees who wonder why academics should have job security when almost no one else does. I can make such a defense, and have, but if tenure matters — and an implicit conviction of the MLA task force is that it does — then the defense must emanate from all of us who believe in it.
What Stimpson doesn't say is that it's hard to defend tenure. Even after you've done your intellectual freedom number, your audience probably remains skeptical. The price of intellectual freedom should never be the scandal of American families paying a fortune for their kids to fiddle online while a slab of granite, tenured into place, blocks their education. Any defense of tenure has to come with guarantees that the tenured dead will be quarried some distance from the classroom.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Denial of Tenure|
The MIT professor who warned he'd go on a hunger strike if his denial of tenure wasn't reversed has indeed sat himself down in the hallway outside the provost's office, where he will make the university change its mind about his job or die trying.
Whatever the merits of the guy's case, he's not doing himself any favors - in terms of his position at MIT, or in terms of any future position - by acting this way.
CV looks interesting... who is he?
The Chancellor's letter to the MIT community about the situation is matter-of-fact:
'This morning, Professor James L. Sherley has begun a fast to express his disagreement with the decision not to promote him to tenure and with the outcome of his grievance process. .. [W]e have encouraged him to seek other means to express his views...'
A fast? This isn't some body-cleansing regime; it's a hunger strike, man...
Yet hunger strikes are for political prisoners; they're for protesting against tyrants; they're for demanding that your country's lethal jails be shut down. They're all wrong for disappointing tenure decisions.
The article about this, by the way, appears in the Health and Fitness section of the Boston Globe. Are they planning to write a weight loss series about him?
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Only Five Minutes to Go.|
Unlikely things will change at this point. Looks like my guys, the Colts, have done it.
28-17... Colts Just Scored A Touchdown....|
...and -- oh, there's a challenge flag on the field... "Ah think he's in play." "Ah do too." "Runner did NOT step out of bounds. Touchdown."
Chicago made a field goal.
Robert Goulet as Gustav von Aschenbach|
Okay, I finally watched a Super Bowl ad in its entirety. An extremely old Robert Goulet, smeared with makeup to look like von Aschenbach in the last stages of his transformation into a grotesque clown for the love of Tadzio in Thomas Mann's story, Death in Venice, cavorts in an office while various employees sleep.
The Colts Are Definitely Threatening...|
... at the moment. The score is 19 to 14, but it may be about to change. They're going for the field goal... Hold on... Wait for it... They got it. Score: 22 - 14.
After an Exciting First Half...|
... the Super Bowl has settled into a sodden nothingness... It's like watching Krapp's Last Tape... with rain... "They're bogged down in the red zone... The rain can't be good for the quarterbacks..." Now it's 19 to 14, thank God... my cherished Colts are really pulling ahead...
... is my friend Scott McLemee's new blog -- it's part of the Arts Journal blog network. Here he introduces himself:
"I find it difficult to speak of having a 'career.' It has never seemed a particularly useful concept, at least for defining my own experience, and in any case, its presuppositions seem not to apply. For the notion of a "career" is always cumulative, progressive, relentlessly forward-looking."
This may remind you of something I quoted from Juan Cole in a recent post:
"The question [in a Chronicle of Higher Ed forum] is whether Web-log commentary helps or damages an academic's career. It is a shameful question. Intellectuals should not be worrying about "careers," the tenured among us least of all.
All of this anti-careerism is a very good thing. A sign of a serious person. Scott brings his free-range intellectuality to a new place on the web.
The Colts are leading, 16 to 14. I know a lot of people are rooting for the Colts, since they're the underdogs and all...
Okay, I'll switch to rooting for the Colts. For old time's sake. Johnny Unitas, etc....
UD BLOGS THE SUPER BOWL!|
The Soltans are down the street from Ferdinand House (named after its last owner, Munro Leaf, author of Ferdinand the Bull), at the Vemulkondas, friends with whom we watch the Super Bowl every year. Neelam has made an Indian dinner; we've brought ice cream (to go with the absolutely frigid weather).
I'm rooting for Chicago -- it's where I went to college and graduate school, having had a spectacular time at both places. And it's a glorious city. The Colts used to be a Baltimore team, and my father and uncle were big Colts fans... But then the Colts left Baltimore -- another reason to root for Chicago.
We're sitting down to dinner in front of the Vemulkonda's big screen tv... Chicago's got a pretty good lead... More later...
One particular kind of plagiarism is now so common among restive, ambitious writers, so often chronicled in this blog and elsewhere, that it's time to give it a name.
UD proposes calling the act of inserting pages of other writers' prose in your insta-book AH-Carrier plagiarism, after the recent discovery (described here, pp. 128-129) of the AH gene, which, in the words of one of its discoverers, "predisposes an individual to chronic behavior in an obnoxious, boorish, selfish, overbearing, and generally offensive manner."
Apparently, AH-Carriers have "four alleles... which [we] refer to as rectalleles." Depending on the combination of alleles in carriers, they may be "complete AH's" or lesser varieties of these.
With the latest case of AH-Carrier plagiarism, this one in Canada, I'd argue that we have a sufficient pool of AH writers to begin considering cluster studies, linkage analysis, and, ultimately, genetic counseling.
James Adams, in the Globe and Mail, picks up the story:
The Canadian publisher of an acclaimed bestseller on the U.S. invasion of Iraq has halted shipments of the book after an Atlanta newspaper said its text contains numerous passages that should have been attributed to one of its writers.
You can always count on a murderer, writes Humbert Humbert of himself in Lolita, for a fancy prose style; and this is also true of AHC plagiarists: Egregious! A travesty!
Calls to Mr. Roberts in Toronto were not returned Thursday or yesterday.
Besides the quotation, the note is the only reference to Kagan in A War Against Truth, and the author's name does not appear in the index. [What the hell. Might as well also say I was the one who interviewed Kagan.]
Mess With My Toy...|
Make An Angry Boy !
'State Rep. Chapin Rose, a [...] University of Illinois [graduate], introduced a bill yesterday in the Illinois House to put a tax of 10% on all events in football and basketball that the NCAA gets revenues from.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
LEEDS, Maine - A high school coach who told his players at halftime to reach into their pants to "check their manhood" before returning to the basketball court was fired.
Saban: Humility is the Key|
'[M]ore than 500 juniors from 39 West Alabama high schools listened intently to... Terry Saban, wife of University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban...
Made for TV|
"The most important thing in learning," says Rose Mary Ross, who teaches Spanish at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, "is that everyone likes the teacher."
Rose Mary, hipster granny, gains the love of her students the old-fashioned way: She tells fun stories in class and gives lots of A's.
In a plot twist that would've made a great tv movie if things hadn't backfired, hordes of athletes at the University Southern California, having heard of Rose Mary's teaching philosophy, stampeded her summer classroom. She was thrilled, and so were the big guys ("Every day Senora Ross had a fun little story about her life and places she'd been to," says a football player. "She made it easy to learn."), and so was UD, contemplating the script she'd sell in which the little granny (4' 11", 125 pounds) and her big guys share a group hug the end of the semester... The boys hoist her up on their shoulders...
Three cheers for Mrs. Ross! Three cheers...
--ud thanks dirk, an l.a. reader--
A Flood of Applications|
UD discerns a relationship between two recent stories out of Yale.
First, the campus paper reports, with some concern, a pretty massive drop in applications. The reporter tries to account for this ('Our press exposure over the last 12 months has ranged from bad — the flap surrounding the decision not to hire professor Juan Cole of Michigan, which may have been related to statements made on his blog — to worse — the alumni uproar after the New York Times article about a former Taliban official attending Yale as a nondegree student. Even Sex Week got national sneers; after a disparaging story ran on a radio show in my hometown of Cincinnati, my parents heard comments such as, “I wouldn’t let my daughter go to a school that did that.” Finally, we had the bizarre saga of E. Forbes Smiley III, chronic rare map thief and scourge of the Beinecke Rare Book Library.'), but it may simply be that people are beginning to understand that the annual Race for the Ivies is unnecessary, given the options...
There's also this, which suggests that some genius at Yale is already doing damage control: A couple of Yale students have been having, according to an email written by a Yale professor, "the time of their lives" in a shower stall at one of the residential houses. Their "pleasureable [pleasurable is misspelled, which is no big deal, though if you're a professor and, like this guy, sending an email to everyone in a community, you should probably look the word up] and exciting... intimate activity" offends some people, and the professor, who's head of the house where these two routinely flood the shower, asks them to stop. [The professor, by the way, has two kids: "Emerson (named after Ralph Waldo Emerson), who is nearly 5 years old; and ... Ellison (named after Ralph Waldo Ellison), who is nearly 2."]
Just in time for the next round of applications, Yale's residential housing facilities are being showcased in the national media as pleasurable, exciting, and intimate...
Friday, February 02, 2007
'The governor does have the power to remove a member of the University of Alaska Board of Regents after all. That’s the opinion of a lawyer with the Legislative Affairs Agency, which provides legal advice for state legislators.'
Current Holder of |
One of Europe's
Most Difficult Jobs.
And a heroine for our times.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
How Much More Humiliating Can It Get...|
to be a Florida International University student?
'FIU will be going up to $35 million dollars into debt to finance [a new stadium].
An editorial in the FIU student newspaper.
One Deadweight Deserves Another|
Here's a companion volume for this one, about which I blogged a couple of weeks ago.
The first book had text; this second one has pictures. The pictures - photos - are by Annie Leibovitz. From the New Republic's review:
[T]his whole book -- heavier than many newborn babies -- is what someone like Leibovitz wants to be seen as, and what her magazines urge upon us: rich but natural; famous but ordinary; beautiful but mortal; a still photograph, but going on forever; a celebrity but decent. It is a delicious recipe, but hard to digest. So, really, it's a matter of when you find yourself throwing up over these gravure pages. Don't lift the book without help, and don't browse it on a full stomach.
Not merely a deadweight, Leibovitz's book features pictures of dying and dead Susan Sontag:
...[T]here are pictures .... of Sontag dying, and then of Sontag dead on a mortuary table, where she is not recognizable. Even the most celebrated looks can dwindle at the end, and be destroyed by pain.
"The urge to pray, to send out on the great blog in the sky a theological SOS and/or thank-you note, is so strong a human impulse that even people who don’t believe that anyone hears their prayers, people who have no religious dogma that tells them to whom they ought to pray, pray anyway."
Hosers Heart St. Regis|
There's a flare-up in the press over the latest revelation of diploma milling, this time in the New York City fire department. About twenty high-ranking hosers hit the books at St. Regis, a notorious criminal enterprise, now out of business (at least under that name).
Since finding out whether something's a diploma mill is as easy as clicking on this word, UD is increasingly convinced that enterprises like the federal government, the military, the public schools, and fire departments -- all teeming with diploma mill grads -- don't give a shit whether their people went to a college or a website.
The Brain in Spain|
UD has written quite a lot about the rotten European university system, with special attention to Greece, Italy, and France. Here are excerpts from a report on Spain, in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
...[N]ot a single Spanish institution ranks among top 100 world universities, and ... only three rank even among the 100 best in Europe, in sharp contrast with more dynamic sectors of Spanish society.
What College Players |
Have to Look Forward To
'[T]he National Football League [has become] a bloated, pretentious empire--it is currently penetrating both the European and Chinese markets--destroying its young with steroids, obesity (we are approaching the 400-pound lineman), and untreated head injuries.'