University Diaries
A professor of English describes American university life.
Aim: To change things.
Contact UD at: margaret-dot-soltan-at-gmail-dot-com

 
 
 
Read my book, TEACHING BEAUTY IN DeLILLO, WOOLF, AND MERRILL (Palgrave Macmillan; forthcoming), co-authored with Jennifer Green-Lewis. VISIT MY BRANCH CAMPUS AT INSIDE HIGHER ED





UD is...
"Salty." (Scott McLemee)
"Unvarnished." (Phi Beta Cons)
"Splendidly splenetic." (Culture Industry)
"Except for University Diaries, most academic blogs are tedious."
(Rate Your Students)
"I think of Soltan as the Maureen Dowd of the blogosphere,
except that Maureen Dowd is kind of a wrecking ball of a writer,
and Soltan isn't. For the life of me, I can't figure out her
politics, but she's pretty fabulous, so who gives a damn?"
(Tenured Radical)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fire Away


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.
Yoho.

My man McLemee has it that I am salty.



In this morning's Inside Higher Education.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pathetic

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.

An utter waste of time. Disorganized and failed to comment on papers in a meaningful fashion

took several of his courses, posters are right he doesn't pay attention to your work, i don't think he even reads it. But, if you need a class to boost your gpa and you don't need the pressure but you still want smart discussions and little structure - give him a try.

love vampire literature, and I thought this class would be intense and deep. There was no reading for the class, and the lectures were repetative and pointless. There were no assignments, and I would be surprised if anyone received below an A-.




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.

The story came to light after UCI announced last week that it would drop a lawsuit against the widow and sons of philosopher Jacques Derrida, the acclaimed founder of deconstruction, an influential but bewildering theory that questions the concept of absolute truth.

In 1990, Derrida signed an agreement to donate his scholarly papers to UCI, where he taught part time. But after his death in 2004, Derrida's heirs began questioning the pact. The university tried to negotiate, then sued three months ago, a maneuver that outraged professors in California and beyond.

Buried in the news that UCI would resume negotiations with Derrida's family was a mysterious footnote: The feud over his archives was sparked by a letter Derrida sent to UCI shortly before his death.

In it, the pipe-puffing Frenchman threatened to pull the plug on the archives because he was furious about "some things the university was doing," said Peggy Kamuf, a USC professor and Derrida friend.

Kamuf wouldn't elaborate, but details have slowly emerged. According to multiple sources, Derrida wanted UCI to halt its investigation of a Russian studies professor, Dragan Kujundzic, who was accused of sexually harassing a 25-year-old female doctoral student. So he tried to use his archives as leverage to derail the case, they said.

UCI officials declined to comment on Derrida's letter or Kujundzic last week. But court records from a lawsuit filed by the doctoral student might fill in some of the gaps.

The 2004 sexual harassment lawsuit contends that Kujundzic, who taught a popular class on vampires and signed his e-mails with a colon to symbolize Dracula bite marks, used his position as the student's advisor to manipulate her into a series of sexual encounters.

Thirty minutes after they met at a reception for new students in September 2003, Kujundzic invited the woman to his apartment to view photos of Moscow, court records said.

There, he plied the student with Transylvanian wine and opera music, then kissed and groped her, according to the lawsuit. The woman said she fended off the married professor's entreaties to have intercourse but performed oral sex on him that night and again the following evening.

They rendezvoused twice more before she filed a formal complaint with school officials. She admitted initiating one of the trysts.

Kujundzic, 47, who left Irvine in 2005 for a job at the University of Florida, told campus investigators the fling was "voluntary and consensual."

The student said she felt coerced to engage in sex or risk having her academic career ruined.

UCI's probe of the affair sided with neither party. Investigator Gwen Thompson concluded the relationship was consensual but said Kujundzic violated a university policy that barred professors from dating students they supervised.

Kujundzic argued that he wasn't the student's advisor, an assertion UCI rejected. In mid-2004, university officials began weighing penalties for the Serbian-born professor.

Derrida, who at the time was dying from pancreatic cancer, tried to intervene.

"Toward the end of his life, he enjoyed the same status as Aristotle among the ancients, and every perception of injustice was routed to his desk," said Avital Ronell, a Derrida protege who teaches at New York University. "Even as he was crawling with fatigue, he put himself in the service of those seeking his help and needing the strength of his prestigious signature."

UCI was apparently unmoved. On Aug. 31, school officials demoted Kujundzic, reduced his salary, banned him from campus without pay for two quarters and ordered him into sexual-harassment counseling, according to court records.

Kujundzic and the University of California were later sued in Orange County Superior Court by the student, a case that was settled out of court this month for an undisclosed amount.
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.

According to documents obtained under the state public records laws, the UO estimated last year it would take $213.5 million to pay for the project once land costs are figured in. That's substantially more than the $160 million estimate used recently by university officials.

Allan Price, the UO's vice president for advancement, said the lower price was an estimate based only on costs directly related to construction. He said the university does not consider the cost of the former Williams' Bakery, where an arena would be built, or the former Romania car lot, which could be used for parking, as part of the arena's costs.

Price acknowledged that direct construction costs at the time the estimate was written early last year were put at about $175.5 million. He said that would have built an arena that would have been among the best in college sports and met the university's goals.

...Two of the released documents, labeled "Sources & Uses," indicate a direct construction cost of $128 million with an additional $34.5 million for architects fees, permits and other "soft costs." Bond interest during construction and underwriting fees add another $7 million.

Other costs include $5.6 million for reserves and $5 million for a post-construction building fund.

In addition, the UO already paid $25 million for the former Williams' Bakery property where the arena will be built and $5.6 million for the former Romania car lot. The university also could spend $2.5 million to buy several smaller properties adjacent to the bakery site.

...Much, but not all, of the money for the arena is expected to come from private donors, a total contribution one document placed at $123 million. Another $55 million would come from bonds repaid from arena revenues, either by the university or National Championship Properties, the private nonprofit group formed by the UO Foundation that is expected to build, own and manage the arena.

...As with the earlier arena effort, most of the private money again is expected to come from a small number of donors. Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike and the UO's most generous donor, is widely expected to provide the bulk of the private funding.

How much is something the university never has been willing to discuss. Details also are scarce in the documents, and the UO blanked out some donor information before
releasing some documents to The Register-Guard.

On one, a line that should indicate the source of $100 million is blank. The line below that lists "UofO and other Donors" at $18 million.

Price said in the original document the blanked-out line read "Title Donor." He said that was meant as a placeholder to indicate an amount the university hoped to receive from a small number of key supporters, not an amount that donors had said they would give.

Even considering just construction-related costs and reserves alone - an estimated $175.5 million a year ago - the UO arena still would be among the elite college arenas in terms of cost. The next most expensive arena recently built is the 15,000-seat John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia, with a construction cost of about $150 million, including a parking garage and new road.




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.
NEWS FLASH

Barrington-Coupe confesses.

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.

...In the letter, Barrington-Coupe explains that he did indeed pass off other people’s recordings as his wife’s, but that he did it to give her the illusion of a great end to an unfairly (as he terms it) overlooked career. [WHOO! Read UD's post -scroll down - ruminating on what might have happened. Not bad!]

...The advent of compact disc in 1983 meant that the cassettes he was producing of his wife playing were quickly ignored by critics, as magazines such as Gramophone gradually made the transition to the new format. It was not until many years later, Barrington-Coupe writes, that he had the capacity to produce CDs, by which time Hatto was already in the advanced stages of the ovarian cancer which would kill her. He tried to transfer the cassette recordings to disc, but without great success. So the decision was made to re-record her repertoire.

Although she kept up a rigorous practice regime, Barrington-Coupe says that Hatto was suffering more than she admitted, even to herself. Recording session after recording session was marred by her many grunts of pain as she played, and her husband was at a loss to know how to cover the problem passages.

Until, that is, he remembered the story of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf covering the high notes for Kirsten Flagstad in the famous EMI recording of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Surely something similar could apply here, he reasoned. He began searching for pianists whose sound and style were similar to that of his wife, and once he had found them he would insert small patches of their recordings to cover his wife’s grunts.

As he grew more adept at the practice, he began to take longer sections to ease the editing process, and discovered, he says, by accident how to digitally stretch the time of the source recordings to disguise the sound. He would, he says, use Hatto’s performances as a blueprint and source recordings which were along the same lines (Laszlo, for instance, shared a teacher with his wife and so, Barington-Coupe says, had the same kind of style and technique).

The performances were hailed as superb in Gramophone and elsewhere, and finally his wife – fading fast – had the appreciation that her husband felt was rightfully hers. According to his letter, though, she did not hunger for fame and when told of the admiring article Jeremy Nicholas wrote for Gramophone early in 2006 (which had a great effect in concentrating critical eyes and ears upon her), she said: “It’s all too late.”

Barrington-Coupe, however, says he did not know about the process whereby a computer’s media player seeks to identify a recording, until it was too late. That led to his downfall. Now ... he deeply regrets what has happened. He feels that he has acted stupidly, dishonestly and unlawfully. However, he maintains that his wife knew nothing of the deception. [This also was UD's speculation.] He also claims that he has not made vast amounts of money from what he has done – and that the number of recordings sold by his company (including non-Hatto discs) between April 2006 and the time of writing only number 5595. The number of recordings sold in the previous year was only 3051 (he confirmed these figures to Gramophone).

The question remains as to how much of this confession we should actually believe. It is in some ways a humane, romantic story. However, newspaper investigations following the first Hatto revelations have uncovered shady dealing from Barrington-Coupe’s past. He received a prison sentence in 1966 for failure to pay purchase tax. Whether this throws doubt on his confession now, made only after our revelations and in the light of the fact that he continued to release “Hatto” recordings after his wife’s death, is open to debate.

What music lovers will want, and what he must surely now provide (together, where possible, with witnesses who can verify), is a full and accurate list of which Joyce Hatto recordings actually feature Joyce Hatto, and which other artists were involved where appropriate. Only then will we know how good she actually was, and only then can at least some of her reputation be salvaged. When asked to do this, Barrington-Coupe replied that he didn’t want to go down that road, adding, “I’m tired, I’m not very well. I’ve closed the operation down, I’ve had the stock completely destroyed, and I’m not producing any more. Now I just want a little bit of peace.” ...
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.
Gifted


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
My Love Dwelt In a Northern Land..... Edward Elgar
The Cloths of Heaven........ Z. Randall Stroope [words by Yeats]
Sing a Mighty Song............Daniel E. Gawthrop
It Takes a Village..........Joan Szymko
Christus est natus....... Damijan Moènik
May No Rash Intruder Disturb.... George Frederich Händel
Warum............... Johannes Brahms
Y’susum Midbar (The Desert Shall Be Glad).........arr. Alice Parker
Durme, Durme (Sleep, Sleep)



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.

I would worry why a guy who proudly wears a Fighting Illini basketball uniform would crash a car and then apparently leave a teammate for dead.

I would worry why this is the second Illini in six months to be charged with driving under the influence, which does not stand for Driving at the University of Illinois.

I would worry why yet another Illini was arrested 10 months ago after an altercation outside a bar.

I would worry why an Illini from the Final Four team of two seasons ago once was suspended but not expelled for alleged involvement in a burglary.

I would worry why the Illini football program would recruit a player already busted on five drug-related offenses, a kid who soon would leave school and face a charge of attempted murder.

I would worry why my football coach had to defend himself against recruiting allegations and why my basketball coach had to defend himself against a growing perception that his athletes are out of control...'



Mike Downey
Chicago Trib
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.

...Mr Barrington-Coupe was jailed at the Old Bailey in 1966 for evading thousands of pounds in tax, in a case that involved radios being imported from the Far East.'
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.

Chris Neck is the secret weapon. He is a management professor at Virginia Tech. When he's not in the classroom, you can find him in the locker room. He's talked to the team a total of eight times throughout the season.

During his pep talks, Neck emphasizes communication, leadership, and team work. It's a lesson Coach Greenberg hopes his players will use on and off the court. To deliver that message, Neck uses laughter, real life lessons, videos, and rap songs.

Tonight's message focused on the here and now. He told the team not to think about the NCAA tournament, rather Sunday's game against NC State.'
ENDEMIC CORRUPTION...

...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.

But in an audit released this week, the true scope of the problems at Bishop State comes into focus. The picture is not pretty.

The Examiners of Public Accounts identified more than $438,000 in financial aid abuses, including other athletic scholarships to employees' relatives who did not play sports.

Indeed, the athletic program awarded $87,000 in scholarships to 42 relatives and others who didn't play on teams. Among the transactions cited in the audit were scholarships for men's baseball given to two women, three scholarships given to the daughter of the school's softball coach, and two scholarships for the spouse of the women's basketball coach.

The audit also found that tuition was wrongly waived for 15 employees and 31 relatives, that 48 people received federal aid for which they weren't eligible, and that employees manipulated grades and attendance records. One instructor received 23 credit hours for taking 10 courses he taught.

...[C]riminal charges already have been filed against some Bishop State employees and others who are accused of financial aid fraud. Let's hope a similar fate awaits anyone who took or awarded aid money in a fraudulent manner. Remember, those who wrongfully received aid did so at the expense of people who were entitled to assistance and surely could have benefited from it.

...Bishop State President Yvonne Kennedy cannot escape responsibility for all that has happened under her watch. She can't claim she wasn't aware of the problems. State auditors have been citing problems with aid money at Bishop State at least since 2001. The campus also knew there were problems in its handling of federal grants, having already agreed to repay the federal government $155,000 for wrongly dispensed aid. (The latest audit suggests the debt may be closer to $300,000.)

If the school is ever going to emerge from this scandal and regain the public's confidence, Kennedy must go.

It won't be easy to make her leave. Two-year college presidents are politically powerful. Kennedy is even more so because she is also a member of the state Legislature. But it's clear she has not been running Bishop State as it should have been run. Perhaps she was too distracted by her legislative duties and is another example of why legislators shouldn't be allowed to hold a second state job.

Regardless, Kennedy should step down from the two-year college job. If she can't bring herself to resign, interim Chancellor Thomas Corts should show her the door.



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.

If you're prideless, you're right to be, since you're forced to be associated with your university's moronic "Saluki Way" project, which bleeds students for the greater comfort of big time athletics and administrators. Prideless means you're paying attention.]



"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.
UD Quoted...

... on America's most expensive university, in that university's student newspaper.
Stephen Dixon...


...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.

Talk turned to some of his experiences, and his thoughts, after 26 years of teaching students.




[Interviewer:] Now you have a generation of writers who have grown up in writing schools.


SD: Just in writing programs, yes. It's a flat way to live, I think, not having experience. I cannot get any good fiction from teaching in a university. I have maybe two stories which take place in a university setting, and a couple of scenes in Frog, and that's it. It's just an uninteresting atmosphere. And what there is to write about has already been written about very well.


...When I give stories to undergrads, I'll ask who's read Tolstoy. Nobody's read Tolstoy. Or I mention James Joyce, when we read a story from Dubliners, maybe one or two have read a story in high school. When I first started out, kids were much more serious as readers, and I could actually have literary discussions with them, which I cannot do now. Even the ones who are the most avid writers are not avid readers. They just want to write. ...We grew up on Dostoevsky, Conrad, if there was ever a serious name, we read that writer. It also told us what not to write, because if the thing has been taken up already, and you have a history of having read it, you want to go on to something new. So a lot of students are sort of writing what's already been written.'




---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...

...Three committees are looking into whether policies need to be "strengthened" for staff, faculty and students... Measures being discussed include criminal background checks for faculty and requiring all students to divulge criminal convictions on their applications.

Most staff members, but not faculty, are now screened before they are hired... Penn has opposed state legislation that would require it to investigate prospective faculty.

The committees convened last month ... following "a number of situations" over the last year, including the case of Rafael Robb, an economics professor charged with murdering his wife in December. Robb is currently on academic leave.

Also last month, two Penn employees were found to be convicted sex offenders on the Megan's Law list. One, an administrator in the Anthropology department of the College of Arts & Sciences, was dismissed, Doyle said. The other had a temporary job in the School of Nursing that came to an end, she said.

Since 1993, Penn's glossy Ivy League image has been tarnished by five professors, all but Robb involved in sex crimes. Ward, who had no convictions on sex or pornography charges when he was hired at Penn in 1980, continued to teach even after he was convicted in 1999 of soliciting sex from a male police officer posing as a minor. (Ward received a fine and five years' probation.) He wasn't removed from the classroom until August when he was arrested for importing child pornography.

...There is no research that academics are more prone to committing crimes than anyone else...

But Catherine Bath, executive director of Security on Campus, a nonprofit organization involved with campus safety, said colleges should scrutinize professors.

"They figure they're academics, they got Ph.D.s, they should be exempt," she said. "Violence cuts across all segments."'
A Crimson Writer
on James Sherley


Excerpts.

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.

His protest stemmed from the idea that MIT denied him tenure because he is black and they are racist. Yet, a few days ago, in a major setback to the struggle against racism, Sherley started eating again, after only 12 days and a weight loss of 20 pounds.


...[A]fter an extensive investigation—internal and external, including researchers unaffiliated with the institute, and a signed statement from 20 biological engineering department faculty stating they believed race played no part in the decision—the conclusion was the same: He should not receive tenure.

...[L]ess than half of junior faculty members receive tenure at MIT. He was sadly in the 60 percent who were asked to leave. That is unfortunate, but does not warrant starving himself to death, at least not publicly....

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 department's debt will climb this year due to an increase in the cost of TCF Bank Stadium by nearly $40 million, $25 million of which will be funded by new loans.'
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
Produced more than just bits, bytes and rasters.
You created your song--
Life was brief, art was long--
But now cut and paste is much faster.
Hatto Limerick #4

Jeff devotes more of his energy to this worthy pursuit.


Though software unmasked Ms. Joyce Hatto,
The reason for fraud lies in shadow.
Did the wish to mislead
Owe to spite or pure greed,
Or the dream of her inamorato?
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.

Later: It occurred to me to wonder, if Joyce Hatto died in 2002, who gave the interview to the Boston Globe reporter in 2005. On reading the article more carefully, I see that it was a phone interview with both Ms. Hatto and her husband, and that the writer says that “[t]he pianist has a high-pitched, girlish voice …”.

Oh dear."




From the blog Scratchings.
Third Hatto Hoax Limerick; and,
IMHO, So Far the Clear Champeen:



The critics' acclaim for Joyce Hatto
Had reached an impossible plateau,
And her falling from grace
Was quite clearly a case
Of her spouse over-egging the gateau.



Rex Lawson
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;
Some others caught whiff of a rat-to;
But when an iPod
Revealed she's a fraud,
On a pianist once praised they now shat-to.


(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.
Yale's Swensen.

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).
First Effort

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.
Hatto Chat

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.

I would like to offer the anecdotal evidence I have that might possibly offer information that would refute the hoax, but it's private, privileged information. And, even at that, it's not that substantial. I can only say that Hatto and Barrington-Coupe's appearance of earnestness, honesty and integrity in email communications with me and others has been so convincing that even I am shocked that it could be otherwise. Both have presented themselves as thoroughly guileless and honorable, motivated in these recordings only by a wish to document Hatto's mastery of a vast repertoire that cancer and critical disinterest ["lack of interest" is what's meant] prevented her from putting on display in public recitals.

But the evidence of a hoax is frighteningly persuasive. Even in Hatto's last days -- in email communications to people other than myself -- she offered no hint whatsoever that something sinister was brewing. In fact, I have seen transcripts of these emails in which she discusses her most recent recording projects, her deep gratitude for finally getting some recognition for her accomplishments, her stoicism in the face of cancer, and a total lack of bitterness at her fate. Of course, only now does it occur to me that she herself may never have written those emails. I find that to be horribly depressing.

And, yes, it occur[r]ed to me months ago that a woman in her seventies suffering from cancer would be hard pressed to perform such difficult works. Yet ... I don't wish to be so cynical as to rule out such an eventuality.

But why would anyone do this? An elaborate trick on the critics who dismissed her years ago? Perhaps. Worse, something pathological that even I don't want to think about.'
"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

Apparently, Phil Knight wasn't interested, so Wednesday the job of director of athletics at the University of Oregon fell to another majority shareholder.

Pat Kilkenny -- an insurance mogul, not a sneaker mogul -- is the Ducks' new boss man, and you're forgiven if your reaction was, "Wow, a big fan with a bunch of money just became the AD." Because that's pretty much what happened.

Kilkenny is a pleasant enough man, but he has no experience working in a college athletic department. He has never negotiated a television contract. He's never hired or fired a coach, or scheduled a football or basketball game. In fact, until 24 hours ago Kilkenny, who grew up in a small town in Eastern Oregon, might have been best characterized as a wealthy insurance-company founder and ultra-involved Ducks season-ticket holder/booster.

Today though, Kilkenny probably is huddling in some warm corner of his new digs with Knight and a couple others from the booster crew circled around. Maybe they're rubbing their hands together and saying, wide-eyed, "Goody, goody. Now, how many luxury suites do we want in our new basketball arena?"

I suppose the upside here is that the university has finally abandoned any pretense about who is running the institution, and whether a public place of learning was for sale. Transparency is healthy. But like a friend said after hearing about Kilkenny: "This whole thing would have made a pretty good joke if it had been a joke."

...[T]his hiring smacks of a small-town mentality for a university that badly needed a dose of big-city thinking. University President Dave Frohnmayer decided to turn the operation into Sugar Daddy U instead of seeking a legitimate, qualified candidate with a grand vision and fresh ideas.

Oh heavens, what will those wild and crazy booster cats do now that they're holding the keys to the place? Offer up naming rights for the parking lot to their buddies? Hold a silent auction for locker room football passes during a Duck Club fundraiser? Put a giant Swoosh on the front lawn?

...Of course, this booster-to-boss news is going to be greeted with vigor and enthusiasm from windbag donors across the college landscape. Those smarmy white-collar booster luncheons during football season are going to bubble with talk about how, in a couple of short, rip-roaring months, you too, can rise from rubbing the game ball, buying raffle tickets and dining on rice pilaf at the weekly football luncheon to the coveted position of Grand Poohbah.

It was Kilkenny who helped personally "retire" incumbent athletic director Bill Moos with a reported $2 million shove to the family cattle ranch a couple of months ago. Now, he's got the big desk to himself. To Kilkenny, we say, "Try not to burn the place down." To Frohnmayer we say, "Hope you know what you're doing." And to each other we should say, "Whew, good thing Kilkenny didn't want my job or yours."

In recent weeks, the hiring announcement was guarded on campus like the deepest company secret. Early Wednesday morning, the whisper coming from inside the athletic department was that the hiring announcement would be "eye opening."

Um, more like "eye rolling."

The standard response when people on the street learned that a major donor had become the head of Oregon's athletic department, was, "Come on, are you serious?!?" Then, it was, "For real?!?" Then, it was, "Man. That's really weird."

Welcome to the inexplicable, bewildering universe that is the campus in Eugene. Abandon the straitjacket of logic. Think in infinite terms. Stop looking for fully-satisfying, rational explanations .

Right about now, you're probably ready to rename the Casanova Center, "The Theater of Absurd."

The athletic department has officially sold its roots. In exchange for selling out, Knight sticks around, and a new basketball arena will be built. Kilkenny will then pass his new job off in two years or so to someone more qualified to do it -- probably Oregon track and field director Vin Lananna, another Knight ally.

If you're a Ducks fan, don't kid yourself, you knew who was calling the shots.

Still, the waters are choppy, and Oregon just hired a man with no proof of buoyancy.



---thanks, mike---
Bouncy Bouncy

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.

Their concern arises from a controversy over the textbook for the class. The textbook, written by Applegate, costs $76 - and can't be sold back to the UC Davis Bookstore once students are through with it. This is because Applegate requires that students rip out and then turn in certain workbook pages of the textbook, rendering it useless to future students.

This, said Applegate, is exactly the idea behind the policy, which was instituted to "stop cheating and dishonesty by students." Applegate said that due to the nature of her class, cheating is something she must constantly address.

"The procedure I'm using stops a lot of it," Applegate said, "which is good, because students need to do their own work."

Much of the cheating in the course stems from a diet project all the students must complete, in which they track what they eat for a period of time. It became clear not long after the implementation of the project that many students were turning in the same data as students from previous quarters who had taken the class.

"I like to think that UC Davis students hold themselves to a higher standard than that," said Arlen Abraham, a fifth-year food science student. Abraham is one of the students who said he feels taken advantage of by Applegate.

"The textbook is an outright rip-off," Abraham said, voicing frustration over the price of the textbook coupled with his inability to sell it back to the bookstore.

Applegate said she could relate to student concerns over the textbook price.

"I understand that for some students money is an issue," Applegate said. She tries to address some of these concerns on the first day of class each quarter, telling her students that they can always come to her office hours and request a signed photocopy of the pages instead of ripping them out. Her signature on these copies makes it clear to both her and the teaching assistants that no cheating has occurred.

Some students, however, say this is not as fair as it sounds. According to Abraham, Applegate requires students show her proof that they receive financial aid before she will give them a photocopy. [Sound business practice, you have to admit.]

"I felt that was none of her business," Abraham said, adding that even on the first day of class, enrolled students were "treated like cheaters."

"The textbook doesn't have to be so expensive. It could be black and white on plain paper and still accomplish the same goal," Abraham said. Abraham also suggested that the textbook idea be scrapped entirely in favor of either a workbook or a handout system.

These ideas are not as feasible as they sound, Applegate said.

"The problem with handouts is that with so many students taking the class, it ends up being an enormous cost to the department," she said. [Might as well make it an enormous cost to the students.]

Student concern over the cost of this textbook is nothing new. Applegate said she has "asked the publisher to lower the price," and added that she wouldn't allow the publisher to release the book's second edition until it complied. New editions will be periodically needed, Applegate said, because nutrition is a changing field.

Although almost 1,800 students enroll in the class each year, the textbook is only being sold to students taking UC Davis' NUT 10 class; the book is a companion piece to the PowerPoint presentations given by Applegate, who keeps the slides, citing them as intellectual property.

Some students remain troubled over their inability to resell their NUT 10 textbooks, and Applegate, while continuing to fight for a lower-priced textbook, isn't about to let cheating re-enter her classroom, she said.

"I will say," Applegate said, "that students have done better in the class since I started doing this."

Despite continuing student concern over the situation, Christine Pham, a member of the ASUCD Textbook Affordability Committee, said the committee had yet to meet with Applegate to discuss the issue, although she said it would like to.
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.]

YALE: Madison, I’m calling to tell you the good news that we are admitting you to our program.

ME: That’s so hot!

And then [Drop "And then"] I ran around in my hot pink American Apparel underwear.

It’s that time of the year again, and some of you are biting your toenails ["biting your toenails" is excellent] waiting, wondering whether or not [drop "or not"] you’ve been admitted to graduate school [drop "to graduate school.']. You are going to be wined, dined and flown about the country to visit the various schools you’ve applied to. [Again: Rewrite the sentence to end with "flown about the country." "Applied to" is a pathetic end to the sentence.] Your cohort will include fabulous, ambitious people. You might hook up with, and then seriously avoid, one of the people in your cohort. You are the star as professors seduce you to study at their school. You lose interest in your last term at Yale because, well, you’re going to Berkeley in the fall. You pick the school with the best location, the best faculty, the cheapest places to live — you’ll be there six years! [These sentences are great - no problem. The repetition of "you" at the beginning of the sentences works nicely.]

But before you take The Plunge [drop capitalization - You think it's cute, but no one else does.], there are a few things you should know about what types of grad students you can expect to meet in the Ivory Tower [same deal]. The Grad Student is a rare breed — a teaspoon of social awkwardness and three cups of ego [nice image]. After all, it takes a hell of a lot of ego to be able to survive six years of not-so-nice criticism. [Not sure I agree with this -- If that were true, professors as a class would be bolder than they are...]

So let’s start with the most basic:

— The Theory Machine

You better watch out for the Theory Machine! [Drop this sentence altogether.] He’ll slap you with a big fat stick of Foucault/Derrida/Althusser/Barthes/Insert-famous-critic-here [Drop "insert famous critic here"] without a moment’s notice. Also known as Name Dropper. Most likely to never have read any theory at all, or to excoriate you for not having read “Of Grammatology” in the original language. Probably talks about Benjamin on a first date — i.e. doesn’t get laid.

— The Seminar Hog

A usual suspect. [Drop this sentence altogether.] The Seminar Hog is the one who [Drop "is the one who"] turns the class into a one and a half hour monologue. The SHog is his own class: The other seven students in the seminar are just [Drop "just"] ornamentation. The SHog cuts people off, is competitive and probably does not get laid a lot — I mean, could you imagine a SHog in bed? Sex is not a time to chat.

— The @^#&!**

The @^#&!** is the one everybody hates. Most likely to verify everything the professor says with his [pronoun reference?] laptop during class. He’s the one who tells everybody they’re wrong — including the professor — and who reads every major critical figure and says, “I don’t understand why we read this! If he were my student, I’d give him a D+.” What The @^#&!** doesn’t realize is that, like, he is not yet a major critical figure, so, um, nobody cares about his ideas. Most likely to sit at home on Friday nights playing with voodoo dolls, the names of other graduate students on each of them.

— The Quiet One

Be very wary of The Quiet One. The Quiet One is the one who [Drop "is the one who"] never talks aloud in class because she spends the first half of the class period trying to plot out exactly what she wants to say. But without a moments notice, her inner “Sasha!” — the alter ego of shy singer Beyoncé — busts out with brilliant commentary. Most likely to avoid classes with The @^#&!**.

— Your T.A.

You hate your T.A. Either you don’t really understand them, or you resent being taught by somebody 2 or 3 years older than you. Secret: You don’t want a T.A. and your T.A. doesn’t want to T.A. you. Probably laughs at your papers as they grade them while reading your Facebook profiles, lowering the grade a notch for every drunken photo and “red cup.” Probably the same outfit every class.

— The Obsessed With My Career

Probably belongs to a country club. The OWMC thinks he or she is the hottest *&%!# on the job market. Will likely not take a job at a “lower” institution because, after all, the OWMC’s from “Yale.” [Drop quotation marks.] Usually has a bad attitude, and is probably still jobless.

— The Hip Ones

The Hip Ones are the ones who [Drop "are the ones who"] do their work, come to class, make a comment or two and still manage to have a life outside of the classroom. Probably reads Gawker and is still connected to the real world. The Hip Ones seem calm and cool, and it’s never obvious how much they slave over Kristeva. They have not yet realized that they probably have to sell their soul (to The @^#&!**) to make it.

— The Undergrads

Many of you have done it, some of you are even doing it right now. The undergrad is the hot-pants smart tart who’s too good for regular courses. She takes graduate classes, and just loves to talk, talk, talk. After class, the grad students make fun of the undergrad because she said a lot but didn’t really say anything. The undergrad hasn’t yet [Drop "yet"] realized that in grad school, less is more [True of writing too, as I've been suggesting.]. The Undergrad is very [Drop "very"] likely to be The SHog in her first year of graduate school. Likely to show up 25 minutes early.

So now that you’ve gotten to know some of the types of “intellectuals” [Drop quotation marks.] you might meet in grad school, if you find yourself in a less than desirable category, you’ve got eight months to switch! [Drop exclamation mark.] Best of luck with your applications. A word to the humanities folk: when your lawyer friends are working 1,000 hours per week and you’re making 1,000 times less than they are, gently [Drop "gently."] remind them that you work 15 hours per week and have summers off.



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.

Labels:

UD, Controversialist

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.”

“I just think that at some point you have to decide whether you’re going to spend the time learning the canon of literature or spend most of your time writing your own fiction, reading other people’s fiction, etc,” Soltan said in an interview. “I don’t really think that the two are particularly compatible if you want to be a serious student of literature or a serious creative writer.”

..."So many people were willing to defend to the death that there wasn’t zero creative writing growth,” said [one student]. “People have spent time writing whole…con essays about that one little article that appeared in this small student publication.”

Monday, February 12, 2007

Funky Fishing


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."

Besides, he says, athletes would never take his classes. "I do not give quizzes," he says. "I give very hard reading."



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.

"This was for the purpose of trying to increase communication and participation," [he] says... "If you're going to do that properly, you really have to understand what's going on."

...With a few exceptions, he says, the program has gone smoothly, and he thinks it has helped defuse tensions. The responses of his colleagues, however, have been all over the map: "Some are highly supportive, some are curious, some are skeptical."

Frederik H. Nijhout is among the skeptical. The biology professor, calling [the] program "wrongheaded," argues that athletics always takes precedence over academic matters at Duke.

If anything, he says, those in athletics need to take the academic side more seriously.

And so Mr. Nijhout and Richard M. Hain, a professor of mathematics, wrote and distributed a parody of Mr. Haagen's program. Instead of faculty members' being assigned to sports teams, coaches would be invited to attend classes and watch students do research in order to "increase understanding among the coaching staff of academic life at Duke."



Also pleasing to UD.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Fitzgerald Blogging

Went to St. Mary's Church in Rockville,
Maryland -- about four miles from my
Garrett Park house -- hoping to meet up
with a bunch of literary types from GW
who'd planned a pilgrimage to F. Scott
Fitzgerald's grave there.
























However, the event didn't come off, and I was
just sort of standing there at the grave, reading
his dates and Zelda's and Scottie's, when a young
man approached me.

He was a GW alum who'd heard about the planned
outing, and he'd brought along three boys from
the Catholic school where he teaches. "I was
hoping to talk about Fitzgerald with the
GW students. You're a professor. Would
you be willing to talk to the boys about him?"

So I talked about Gatsby, and the
way its last line was engraved on the stone at our
feet... How Fitzgerald had died a wreck in Los Angeles
and been brought back here, where he had family
(there are lots of Fitzgerald graves around his)...
His wild ride in Paris with Hemingway and Stein and
everybody...

"Is his body actually in there?" asked one of the
boys. Well, his remains. "How do they get a
body from L.A. all the way here?" I guess you dig up
the casket and put it on a plane, or put it in a train
or a car or something...

I liked the way their interest was mainly in
the macabre. Wonderfully thirteen-year-old of them.

"And what's the word 'Gatsby' mean in the title?"
Oh, that's his main character, Jay Gatsby... Though
his real name wasn't Jay Gatsby...

If you know UD, you know she enjoyed this unexpected
interlude very, very much.
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.

The problem came to light last week just before National Signing Day, an unofficial state holiday for college football fans in the Palmetto State. Compliance officials at Clemson University informed several highly recruited high school football players that they did not qualify for admission to their fine institution of higher learning.

Although Clemson has a well-earned reputation as a football factory with a national championship and a slew of probationary penalties to prove it, things are beginning to change.

Clemson president James Barker has set new goals for the little college in the foothills. He wants Clemson to become one of the "Top 20 Public Universities" in the nation...



...Painful Process

Clearly, many die-hard Clemson fans are reeling in the wake of this latest proclamation. They honestly believe this is the beginning of the end of Clemson football as they have known it.

Problem is, Clemson football as they have known it has not exactly been a bastion of brilliance.

The Tigers have always seemed willing to bend the rules to get good players into school, just as many other institutions have done in the name of winning football games.

But the byproducts of that philosophical philandering have been two-fold - players who never graduate or players who graduate but are not educated.

Both have become embarrassing contradictions for college presidents and some have pledged to do something about it....




---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.
UD's University...

...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.
















Typical classroom.
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.

The incident was especially embarrassing because Trinity College and University is on a list of universities and colleges offering degrees for life experiences rather than formal education that had been circulated at the United Nations, U.N. staff members said.

Jonathan Blankson, chief of the Human Resources Information Technology Section, had been suspended for 11 months before he was terminated, the staff members said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

A photocopy of his fake degrees said Trinity College and University had conferred a Bachelor of Science with honors in Computer Science on Jonathan Michael Philip Blankson on June 12, 1996 and a Master of Science in Computer Science and Information Management on May 21, 1997. It said he met all requirements of the Board of Regents and Examiners.

According to the Trinity College and University website, the master's degree cost 195 British pounds, about US$390 — and the bachelors degree with honors for just 150 pounds, about US$300. The website said the college "is an organization, registered in Dover, Delaware, and running its degree program from Spain."'

Friday, February 09, 2007

Faustian

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


Act I

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.


Act II

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...

"There's some dedicated time for academic work out there - some game focus," [a spokesman said]. "It takes place in probably 90 to 92 percent of all Division I-A schools." Eleven of 13 MAC schools do the home-game hotel stays, said the associate AD.

Head football coach Frank Solich wanted the Burr Oak retreats, and they may help the teams compete at a higher level, said Andrey. It's difficult to find corporate partners for player accommodations in rural southeast Ohio, he asserted, unlike some of OU's peer institutions.



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





'"What's worth more - a 4.0 GPA or a 4.0 second 40 yard dash?" [The question is asked by the board of the University of Georgia student newspaper, in italics, at the beginning of an editorial. Answer, also in italics:] "It depends."


[Yes, it depends. Stupidity and ignorance can stand you in very good stead in this great land of ours, and we want to keep our athletes focused on being brainless, argues the editorial board, lest they compromise their college and professional athletic careers.... What about the fact that almost none of the college players who try to go pro succeed in doing so? The fact that even a relatively successful pro career is liable to be rather short? The University of Georgia student newspaper does not take up these facts.]

Monday, the editorial board got a look at the grades for student athletes at the University, and frankly we were not surprised. [Who would be? Not only does the editorial board not give a shit about educating the typically rather underprivileged people who make up their big sports teams; they know that their university doesn't either. So whaddya expect their grades to look like?]

The overall average for male athletes' GPA was [...] 2.8, and the females just made the B-average cut with a 3.09. The total average of all athletes was a 2.94.

At first glance, a 2.94 GPA isn't the grade anyone looking to further their academic career would want, but is a GPA what student athletes really care about? [Certainly not! We don't care; the school doesn't care; the athletes don't care. Win-win situation.]

When we complain about athletes making poor grades, we are holding athletic-centered students [Interesting phrase, 'Athletic-centered students.' I'm thinking Alcohol-centered students... Plagiarism-centered students...] to the same standards as academic-centered students. This idea is contrary to our society's belief that different jobs and aspects of life have unique, non-intrinsic values based on arbitrary contexts. [Properly deployed, sophomoric jargon and relativism may produce good results. Not in this case.]

Athletes are often under pressure to devote their lives to something other than the sports industry because some people do not see athletics as a worthy pursuit. Yet, it cannot be argued that our society as a whole does not value athletic ability.

So why are the grade averages of University sports teams being publicly distributed? Why is athletic worth being tied to academic performance? In simple terms, if a person wants to make a living playing a sport, do they need a 4.0 to do it?

No.

In the world of professional sports, no one cares what an athlete's GPA is. For hopeful pro athletes, high academic marks are not a prerequisite for success. In the case of football, how many grade point averages were announced before Sunday's big game?

Zero.

It's not just sports, though. In a similar fashion, many jobs out of college - including those in journalism - view practical experience rather than grade point averages as the most important factor in hiring someone.

Whether it's an internship, playing on the field or working at a college newspaper, it all boils down to doing what it takes to get a job.

For whatever industry a student wants to work in they should do everything in their power to make sure they are prepared for that industry. Yet people mock athletes for trying to do well in their chosen profession.

You may have a 4.0 and a 2400 on the SAT, but you probably can't play 25 consecutive minutes of competitive Division-1 college athletics - and you may not want to. In the same regard, some athletes might not want a stellar GPA but they do want to excel on the playing field.

Why is one OK and the other often viewed with disgust?

As of right now, there is no dedicated preparatory institution designed to prepare men and women for the rigors of professional athletics. So why are some condemned when they don't fit conveniently into the only system they have available to them - collegiate sports programs?

As a society, we have to decide what is important. If the collective wish is to champion intelligence over physical ability, we must stop celebrating athletics. However, if we wish to keep athletic competition at the forefront of our lives then perhaps we need to stop condemning its participants for poor academic performance. '



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


Background here.

'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.

Let us examine the situation at SIUC. The administration has set a goal of becoming one of the top research facilities in the nation. According to the Southern at 150 plan, SIUC "will provide our students with first-rate educational opportunities. Our faculty and staff will have excellent facilities, tools and support." However, the Saluki Way project emphasizes the construction of a new basketball arena and football field. Apparently, the "excellent facilities" clause in Southern at150 pertains only to alumni, whom we shamelessly seduce into donating funds merely on the appearance that SIUC is strong, healthy and a university to be proud of based on our new construction of the only buildings that many alumni ever see - sports arenas. When is the last time that an SIUC alumni actually wandered the half-lit corridors of Faner Hall, or spent an hour in a sub-standard classroom? I'd be really interested to know the answer to that question.

Morris Library being forced to cut journal subscriptions is absolutely, categorically not in the best interest of the student body, or the much sought but quickly dissipating prestige this university hopes to achieve. The day looms ahead when our administrators will be forced to say, "No, we don't carry that very popular journal any more because it became too expensive," while also adding (with a wink and a nudge) "But have you checked out the new Saluki stadium?"

Quite simply, enough is enough. The subscription cut is not really the library's fault. They're trying to make the best of a lose-lose situation. But this no-win situation has occurred because of SIUC's misplaced priorities. Before long, we'll be asking students to bring their own toilet paper because funds have been cut to the campus buildings. Rest assured, though, there will be ample amount of tissue paper in the basketball arena.'



From an opinion piece in the Southern Illinois student newspaper.
University Sports:
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

Blood Blogging

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
Hunger Strike


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 guy who camped outside the provost's office at MIT and starved himself because they wouldn't give him tenure...

Oh yeah... What else have we got?...


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."

Fieldgoal. 29-17.
22-17

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.

What?
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...
Quick Study...

... 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.
Yikes.

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...
AH-C Plagiarism



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.

Toronto author and Harper's magazine contributor Paul William Roberts has admitted that his 2004 book, A War Against Truth: An Intimate Account of the Invasion of Iraq, contains "elements [that] . . . closely resemble or are indistinguishable from passages" in an article in the Sept. 29, 2002, Atlanta Journal-Constitution by deputy editorial-page editor Jay Bookman.

In a Jan. 19 letter of apology to a lawyer for the newspaper, Mr. Roberts called his failure to acknowledge the use of Mr. Bookman's material in five of his book's 350-plus pages "a journalistic travesty" and "an egregious lapse of professional conduct," but he said the failure was inadvertent, more the result of "the dangers of sloppiness" than an act of malice or bald plagiarism.


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.

But in his two-page letter he says he failed to print out the Bookman article during the almost six months he was in Iraq because "even if you found a printer, there was no paper anywhere (paper had been part of the UN embargo). [Here cometh the byzantine, self-aggrandizing tale of how he alone among the four thousand people who've written Iraq books was unable to do it without plagiarizing.] So I wrote down in notebooks what interested me, gluing all manner of paper and wrappers alongside or on top. By the time I left Iraq . . . the notebooks looked as if they had survived a cataclysm."

Mr. Roberts says another journalist, from Britain, agreed to e-mail Mr. Bookman's piece, among others, upon the author's return to Canada, but didn't until the next year.

"By the time it arrived, I was hard at work on the book," for which "I used my notebooks almost exclusively."

In the letter, Mr. Roberts also agrees he mistakenly attributes to himself a quote by prominent U.S. historian and former co-chair of the influential Project for the New American Century Donald Kagan that was, in fact, given to Mr. Bookman.

In the notes to Mr. Roberts's book, the epigraph-like quote from Mr. Kagan is cited as deriving from "interview with author, Sept. 2002."


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.

He said that the NCAA doesn't deserve the tax exempt status that they are currently receiving. "They have abandoned their educational mission"...

"If they spent more time on their on own house and their graduation rates instead of worrying about university symbols they would be better off," Rose said. U of I has been at odds with the NCAA since a ruling last April. The NCAA ruled then that U of I couldn't host any type of post season events because of Chief Illiniwek's use. The use of Chief Illiniwek was categorized as "hostile and abusive."'



---associated content---

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bigus Dickus


Associated Press:

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.

Mike Remillard was confronted after Leavitt Area High School Principal Patrick Hartnett learned that the coach told his players that the Jan. 23 game against Mount Ararat "was about who had the biggest (male genitalia) in town," Hartnett said in a statement.

"He then required his players to all stand up and put their hands down their pants and check their manhood," Hartnett said. All but one player followed the coach's instructions.

Hartnett's statement was read by School Administrative District 52 Superintendent Thomas J. Hanson during Thursday night's regularly scheduled school board meeting. The statement came a day after the coach was dismissed.

In the statement, Harnett said Remillard confirmed that the boys were asked to check their privates. Asked if that was an appropriate motivational tactic, the coach responded by saying "we won," Harnett said. But the tactic also got him fired.

Remillard, who cites Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight as his role model, told the Sun Journal newspaper that having his players "check their manhood" is "normal locker room banter from Fort Kent, Maine, to San Diego, California."
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...

Saban, a former high-school English teacher, told the students to focus on the process, not the goal, in order to become successful leaders. She said that many of life’s lessons are analogous to football.

“The true competitor plays each and every play relentlessly regardless of the score," she said. “We can’t be affected by negative things."

She urged the 11th graders to learn from failures and to persevere in their goals.

“Whatever it is you choose, make sure you love it and have a passion for it," Saban said. “Approach each day in humble appreciation in an attitude of 'What can I learn today and how can I help?’"'


---tuscaloosa news---
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...

Aw boys now I want you to go out there and do great things... Bueno?

What?...



--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

Uh-Oh.


'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.












Marietta Yiannakou,
Education Minister,
Greece.

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].

In the documents it submitted before the Board of Governors when it sought permission to issue the bonds, FIU outlined a detailed proposal for paying back the money. According to the proposal, the bonds would be repaid from the stadium's revenue.

In theory, the source of this revenue, besides ticket sales, would be the sale of 14 luxury seats, advertising deals and network-distribution contracts. As the plan goes, crowds would sell the tickets out, high rollers would spend $5 to $10 million on luxury seats, advertisers would put placards on the sidelines and networks would pay big bucks to televise our football games.

It's a foolproof plan, on paper. In reality, though, foolhardy is the more fitting description.

The prospect of getting any major revenue from tickets is dubious. Though Phase I of the expansion would add 10,500 new seats, previous seasons' attendance records suggest that we should be so lucky if as much as half of them are filled.

The mid-game fight against the University of Miami produced the only media visibility the team got last season. If the team hasn't been able to secure media attention on its own merits - by winning games, for example - it's unlikely that a media contract will materialize.

Without media attention or half-decent attendance, it's hard to imagine that many advertisers will be eager to spend money on putting their names on the new stadium.

Finally, if no one wants to spend the $1 million a year for five to 10 years that FIU President Modesto A. Maidique expects to charge for the luxury seats, it's hard to blame them. Few people will want to spend that much on air-conditioned seats to watch a team go 0-10.

According to the BOG proposal, there's a contingency plan in case the stadium's revenue comes up short: the bonds would be paid for with student fee money and funds from the FIU Foundation.

There's already talk of raising the athletic fee by $1.39 per credit hour. The fee is currently $10 a semester. It's unclear whether the increased fee would be assessed on top of those $10 or instead of them.

Either way, for a student taking a full course load, the fee would go up by at least one hundred percent.

Falling back on student fees to pay back the bonds was supposed to be a last resort, but the administration is already counting on them.

Out of the $1.1 million the fee increase is supposed to bring in annually, the administration already committed $655,000 toward repaying the bonds.

Defaulting to the last-resort measure from day one not only seems like a premature admission of defeat, it's also disturbing, considering students haven't even voted on the increase yet.'



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.

These pictures are distant and stricken, as well they might be. But an air of question sticks to them -- should Leibovitz be taking these pictures? It is far from clear that at the end she was "with" Sontag as she had been before. Grapple with this passage from the preface:

"I forced myself to take pictures of Susan's last days. Perhaps the pictures completed the work she and I had begun together when she was sick in 1998. I didn't analyze it then. I just knew I had to do it."

And this:

"I began searching for photographs of her [Sontag] to put in a little book that was intended to be given to the people who came to her memorial service. The project was important to me, because it made me feel close to her and helped me to begin to say good-bye. I found so many things I didn't remember or perhaps had not even seen before. I also began looking at all the photographs I had taken of the rest of my family. My father had been ill for some time, and I had flown down to Florida to be with him after spending Christmas in the hospital with Susan. She died before I could get back. He died six weeks later."

So Leibovitz was busy and she was not quite with Sontag at the end. Some alteration in their relationship had occurred. But she does not mention this, as if access might be at issue. She told Charlie Rose that she doubted whether Sontag would have wanted the final pictures to be shown. I think that must be taken to mean that Leibovitz had no clearance for them.

I do not mean to be squeamish, or to say that pictures of people dying or in extremis are forbidden. But I see a shadow of guilt or doubt over these pictures, something that obscures or traduces love. And this makes the pictures morally vulnerable. It leaves them in danger of seeming like voyeuristic shots of death's moment, which is the most individualized, the most private, moment of all. Without consent, they seem to me unpublishable, and much more distressing than the photographer knows. Even with consent, considerations of taste and decency might have intervened.

So I am not convinced that it is all the same life, seamless or without a bump. Annie Leibovitz is a very modest photographer. Her skills are far exceeded by her access, her expenses, and the very confined "curiosity" of her employers. Alas, when she takes her "purely personal pictures," despite the welcome abandonment of finesse, the earlier problems remain. Photography, as Susan Sontag observed, is a very tricky art of appropriation, in which the photographer may too easily assume that the camera and the opportunity are responsible for what has been done. This is not so. The photographer did it. And if a thing has not been given, then sometimes it has to be stolen.


---david thomson---
Blogoscopy

Getting Weird



"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."

Wendy Doniger
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.

"Universities are an anomaly in Spain," says Eduardo Costas Costas, a professor of genetics and animal science at the Complutense. "Business has changed, the military has changed. ... Our banks compete with the United States. And our scientists are talented. But the structures they work in are not competitive."

...[Spain's]... system rewards political skill and connections over academic merit. Miguel Camblor, who studies materials science at the research council in Madrid, participated in a recent conference on "Harassment and Corruption in the Spanish Public University." He likens his nation's higher-education system to preindustrial southern Spain, with academic potentates dominating their departments the way feudal lords once did their landed estates.
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.'


Thanks, A.G.

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