Monday, April 30, 2007
The official statement:
'After a great deal of deliberation and in recognition of our obligations to the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington has decided that it is in the best interests of the University and the University community that this Board terminate Dr. William J. Frawley from his employment with the University, for cause, effective immediately.'
--- Via Fredericksburg.com. ---
Scathing Online Schoolmarm:|
Somebody Help Me Care!
David Whitley writes for a Florida newspaper. He wishes to convince us that multimillion dollar college coach salaries, escalating by the minute toward the tens of millions, are an excellent idea -- nay, an historical inevitability. But SOS is not sure Whitley really cares whether he convinces us of this or not. He is confused. He is not performing well.
Let's check his progress, a few paragraphs into his piece:
The point is that if anyone still is looking at this in the context of college sports, they hopelessly are blind to reality. [Come again? The context is college sports, surely? Given that this is about college sports? And that lame hopelessly is out of place: If you're going to use it, which you shouldn't, but if you are, put it in front of blind. And blind to reality is a cliche.]
'Students and faculty at De Anza College may have a new campus facility called the "peace room" to manage their stress.
---la voz online---
Sunday, April 29, 2007
University of Minnesota Football:|
High on a Feeling!
'I really believe that in the long run this will serve our state well and will serve our university even better. To me, this was not just about revenues and support of our athletics programs. This was about bringing back the citizens of this state, connecting them more deeply with the University of Minnesota, making this a more festive part of our celebration of what's really important about the university. You don't get that feeling when you go to a professional stadium that's off campus.'
University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks.
'...[I]sn't this a good time to drop football at Minnesota?
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Concordia College and University and Whatever|
'Lucy Wightman, who drew stares in the 1970s and '80s as the celebrated stripper Princess Cheyenne in Boston's Combat Zone, held the gaze of 16 jurors yesterday as a state prosecutor accused her of fraudulently posing as a licensed psychologist and treating children whose parents had no idea she lacked the proper credentials.
Indicted University of Alaska Regent Resigns
Impeachment pressure worked: Jim Hayes has resigned.
Friday, April 27, 2007
SNAPSHOTS FROM HOME|
Falling Asleep Between Classes...
...which I almost never do. Started to worry about why it's happening, and then remembered: I gave blood at the National Institutes of Health yesterday. And then went for a long walk, which you're not supposed to do.
Wild morning at NIH. Who knew it was bring your kid to work day? Tons of kids everywhere. There was an Earth Day fair too.
I was entered into an NIH experiment. I'm in the control group -- women who are regular donors and whose iron content always tests okay, but who don't take iron pills. Apparently, for some women, even if they take pills, regular donation depletes their iron reserves, and they're sometimes turned away from giving as a result...
The nurse asked me fun questions. Not the regular blood donation questions about your sex life, but questions like Do you sometimes have a desire to eat pebbles?
Symbolic Regent Impeachment|
Alaska's legislators know they can't really get it done, but they're hoping that a little pressure in the direction of impeachment will nudge James C. Hayes, the most corrupt university regent UD's ever encountered, toward resignation.
'The first impeachment hearings since 1985 got under way today at the state Capitol.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Snapshots From Home|
will be awarded a posthumous medal
for his contributions to Polish culture
next month, at the consulate in New York.
An English Professor Among the Historians|
UD is delighted to be in the company of Anthony Grafton, and many other historians, as he writes about "Clio and the Bloggers" in the latest issue of the American Historical Association's journal, Perspectives.
'[T]he [history] blogs offer a new level of conversation and information about our beloved discipline. Taken together, moreover—and it's proper to do that, since they list and respond to one another, and the same posters and lurkers move from one to another—they have created something like a virtual café in cyberspace, one where the conversation is extremely lively and you can learn a great deal simply by listening in.
UD Thanks Her Reader, Charles,|
...for sending this Harvard Crimson article her way. She had no idea about this one. She's usually up on these things.
'The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's dean of admissions, Marilee Jones, resigned today and admitted to the ultimate sin of her profession: lying on an application. [Not sure I'd call this the ultimate sin... ]
A Letter to the Local Paper...|
...from a history professor at the University of Mary Washington clarifies why presidential misbehavior at universities can be a very serious matter:
'A recent story implied that the UMW faculty supports the return of President Frawley to his duties ["UMW faculty leaders hope Frawley returns," April 17]. I do not presume to know what consensus, if any, exists among the faculty, but I want to state emphatically that this is not my sentiment, nor is it, from my observation, the feeling of numerous others.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Regressed to Vancouver|
A Canadian psychotherapist (he named one of his kids Soma) has been barred from entering the United States because forty years ago he took a bunch of drugs. A border agent looking the guy over Googled his name and became "engrossed" in a 2001 article he wrote about the drugs, in a journal called Janus Head:
"... I traveled to many regions many times with the help of many different substances. I took peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis, MDMA, DMT, ketamine, nitrous oxide 5-MEO-DMT, but I kept coming back to LSD. Acid seemed my most spacious, most helpful ally. While on it, I explored my past, regressed to the womb, to my conception. I remembered, grieved, and mourned many painful events. I saw how my parents would have liked to love me, and how they didn't because they didn't know how. I learned, on acid, to endure troubling and frightening states of mind. This enabled me, as meditation has done, to identify with being the witness of the workings of my mind, observing whatever was going on, while knowing that I was simply captivated by the forms produced by my own psyche."
It's an absurd outcome -- his kids live in the States; he's an eminent psychologist -- but you can sort of see how his deathless prose did him in.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I Laughed Uproariously...|
...through this wonderful book review by Colm Toibin. Did you?
Except that now I don't think I need to read the book.
Educational Fraud is a Many-Splendor'd Thing.|
Texas Southern University engages in the best-known form: It takes large numbers of federal dollars and large numbers of unprepared students, and then it wastes most of the dollars and most of the students' time.
A more virulent form of this sort of fraud exists in the for-profit university world. It's the same scam, with aggressive recruiting** thrown in.
The government wants its money back.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed entreaties from the University of Phoenix to throw out a massive suit charging the nation's largest accredited private university with defrauding the government of millions of dollars in federal education loan funds.
**University of Phoenix!
Monday, April 23, 2007
David Halberstam Killed|
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam was killed today in a fiery three-car accident in Menlo Park, authorities said.
Ironies of the |
Joel Wingard, an English professor at Moravian College in Pennsylvania, gets about the worst Rate My Professors ratings UD has seen. With seven respondents (a respectable number of students, among whom just one with a vaguely positive impression of the man could have pulled Wingard's numbers up a bit), he receives virtually all ones.
Ones. Ones are the basement under the cellar beneath the cesspool of online professor rating.
Yet on his department webpage, Wingrad describes himself as very pro-student:
In my classes, I try to establish and maintain a student-centered classroom, a place where students' learning takes precedence over teacher's teaching. By 'students' learning' I mean their guided self-discovery; by 'teacher's teaching' I mean lecturing, testing, conferring judgment and other forms of authoritarian practice. My philosophy holds that self-motivated, self-directed learning is best, is 'liberal learning' in its best sense of liberating; that in the largest sense the most valuable "lesson" students may learn from literary study is not content but method, not information but process.
Look at all them quotation marks! SOS will let it go, however... will let go the whole business of this writing instructor being a very bad writer indeed... She will instead note the profound distance between this self-congratulatory non-authoritarian (teaching, conferring judgment, and communicating content all representing authoritarian activities) and what his students say about him.
Samples from the first page of comments (there are two pages, but UD hadn't the heart to look at the second):
... an all-around jerk ...
How can we reconcile these two descriptions?
I'll tell you what I think. I think Professor Wingrad is a certain sort of humanities professor. The irony of this sort of professor is that he will profess an anti-authoritarian, student-centered philosophy; and yet he's really (UD's guessing here, of course) a kind of tinpot classroom dictator -- a man enamored of his own cleverness and higher knowledge, who loves to hear his brilliance ring out on a vast range of subjects, and who has a captive audience for that.
It's sadly true that the conditions of professors' lives make possible this narcissistic indulgence, should a person have a taste for it.
Professor Wingrad, currently in a spot of trouble because of what UD takes to be his self-love, seems to have this taste.
The local newspaper reports:
'A Moravian College professor issued two campuswide apologies for an e-mail he wrote the day after the Virginia Tech killings that said he was going to "go out and buy a gun" and "some ammo" to "prevent more Blacksburgs, more Columbines."
Phoning it In|
UD has always found unpleasant the way some veteran opinion piece writers crank out cynical work week after week, Grubb Street style. I guess they figure they've got their fan club, and that their fan club just wants to keep seeing the writer's name on something... anything...
Why don't the fans feel cheated by the fake outrage and stupid cliches that they often get for their trouble?
I mean, here's Thomas Sowell phoning in the Duke story:
Just before North Carolina's attorney general appeared on television to announce his decision on the Duke University "rape" case [Quotation marks again. You've heard me on the subject.] , one of the many expert TV legal commentators said Roy Cooper probably would use the words "insufficient evidence" but not the word "innocent" in dismissing the case.
Another Group of |
'The University of North Dakota Student Senate has tabled its discussion on the switch to NCAA Division I athletics.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Regent Removal Bill|
Alaska legislators have introduced a bill giving the governor the authority to remove state university trustees. It's all an effort to rid themselves of the Jim Hayes problem.
Humanities Professor: Morphology|
UD has blogged about the appearance of her friend Peter Galbraith in the Sunday New York Times Magazine feature which interviews someone and includes a photograph of the person standing up.
Here's today's personality, the cultural theorist Terry Eagleton. [Click on the photo for a larger picture.]
Eagleton says some mildly naughty things ("I don't actually read other peoples' books. If I want to read a book, I write one myself."), some senseless things (In response to the interviewer noting that he doesn't write about actual books, Eagleton says, "...the literary critic has turned increasingly into a cultural critic because there are so many crises in our culture."), and some snobby things ("As I get older, I find my visits to the States get shorter because I can’t take the general culture very much.").
But what's mainly of interest to UD about Eagleton is his photo, in which the morphology of one strain of humanities professor finds its fulfillment.
UD has already written a post about the varieties of beardedness among male humanities professors; Eagleton's beardedness touches on no fewer than four of her categories (I, II, VII, and VIII). His facial expression conveys the attitude of baffled good will definitive of the type; and his scuzzy clothes [recall Peter's elegant suit, typical of the sort of thing people wear for this feature] hanging loosely about him proclaim his commitment to physical comfort, and his disdain for bourgeois dressing up.
When she was in college, UD routinely fell in love with men who looked like Terry Eagleton. How could that have happened? she asked Mr. UD, as they gazed together at the photograph.
"You were ... unusual," he said.
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
Sometimes the writing's okay, but the argument is bad. Here's an example. I don't claim the style of writing here is without flaw, but the writing's not the problem. The problem is lack of logic and an appeal to sentiment.
Over the past few days we [The opinion piece writers are a former president of Texas Southern University -- a criminally mismanaged school about to have a conservator assigned to it -- and a local politician. They're going to argue against the governor's plan to appoint the conservator.] have been asked by many of our friends why we fight so hard to preserve an institution that most people in this state believe to be dysfunctional. [Here's their first problem: It is indeed dysfunctional. Very few students graduate. Its president and financial officers were thieves. It's no longer a question of belief. Rational people know the place needs radical overhaul. I doubt even the authors of this opinion piece believe differently. It's their feelings that are leading them astray.]
Saturday, April 21, 2007
The University Loan Scandal|
...or, at Pace, whose
former director of financial aid ... persuaded the school to award major contracts to student loan giant Sallie Mae while she successfully lobbied the company to hire her, the New York attorney general's office said yesterday.
Sportswriter Frank DeFord|
on American University Life
"You don't usually see music faculty hanging around the admissions office, and saying, 'You know, there's this great tenor from Illinois. And he hasn't passed a course at his high school in three years. And he's actually in jail now.'"
L'il Rascals, II|
'Trustees Question New Deals
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Like a lot of women, UD has always been attracted to men who are rascals. I have no idea why, in evolutionary terms, nature wants females to be attracted to rascally males. Perhaps a scientist among my readers can explain it to me.
Rascally males are particularly rife among the owners and administrators of diploma mills. UD continues to derive a peculiar pleasure from reading what they say about what they do when they are cornered. Their shamelessness thrills her.
Here's one. He has a legitimate job as a school principal, and an illegitimate one as "vice president of the International Graduate Center, a postsecondary degree institution based in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands."
In January, the school's accreditation was revoked by the Virgin Islands' new governor, less than two months after it was granted by the territory's acting commissioner of education. [It's unusual for a Caribbean island to deny accreditation to anything.]
...professor, author, UD-reader, has an excellent opinion piece in the New York Times, about Virginia Tech. An excerpt:
... Many professors have run across more than their share of [disturbed students who scare them]. At least one Virginia Tech professor noticed that Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people on campus on Monday, was potentially dangerous and did her best to warn the administration and the police. (So did at least two female students.) But there is only so much a teacher can do — “students have rights, too.” [This is what an administrator at Oakley's university told her when she complained about one such student.]
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
SOS is developing something of a sideline in the parsing of official I Fucked Up statements. Here, for instance, is a post about Patrick Kennedy, Mel Gibson, and Russell Crowe.
This morning we have the just-installed, multiply DUI'd president of the University of Mary Washington addressing the world. Let's take a look.
On April 10 and 11, I was involved in two widely reported driving incidents. [Starts with simple narration. Good. We need to be reminded of the events. Yet where is the word arrested? Alcohol? Police? The word involved is no good at all. Involved could mean anything. And note the passive formulation: was involved. Direct statement is important right up front: On April 10 and 11, under the influence of alcohol, I drove erratically and was arrested as a result.] On Monday, I was released from the hospital, after five and a half days of examination for and treatment of possible injuries and for correction of a heretofore undetected, and potentially very serious, heart disorder. [Whoa Nellie. Not only have we leapt cleanly over the stupendous fact that this was about a two-day bender; we have -- in the second sentence -- made a play for sympathy by alluding to a heart thing. SOS is already prepared to say that it does not look good for this man.] It is only at the present time that I am able to return to other tasks and to communicate fully. [That's not because of your heart. It's because of the booze.]
More: Melissa, a reader, links to this charming discussion of the language of the non-apology.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
'Federal privacy and antidiscrimination laws restrict how universities can deal with students who have mental health problems.
--- new york times ---
A Man in Full|
"He was passionate about life,” [Librescu's son] said. “He had no fear of death.”
-- new york times --
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Smoking Gun got hold of it.
Update: For the dedicated forensic critic, here's another one, courtesy of The Professor, one of UD's readers. I haven't yet read it.
The Creative Writing Professor...|
...did the right thing, referring the shooter to counseling when his language in class assignments became psychotic.
The gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead was identified Tuesday as a English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school's counseling service. ... [The department chair] said Cho was referred to the counseling service, but she said she did not know when, or what the outcome was. [The chair] refused to release any of his writings or his grades, citing privacy laws.
As with the controversy last year about whether universities could, under disturbing enough conditions, insist that a student leave campus for awhile and get help, general as well as legal opinion seems to be on the side of non-interference. Remember the lawsuit at UD's George Washington University:
About 2 a.m. one sleepless night, sophomore Jordan Nott checked himself into George Washington University Hospital.
The Virginia shooter "may have been taking medication for depression [and] was becoming increasingly violent and erratic." He'd been stalking women, and he'd set fire to a dorm room.
Responsible people at the university knew they had something dangerous on their hands. The university should have been able to remove him from campus.
'A Case Western Reserve University professor who said she received threatening hate letters after claiming discrimination actually wrote the letters to herself, prosecutors said Monday.
Case has taken down her faculty website. Good call. Now time to fire her.
Seventy-six years old. On the
receiving end of fascism and
communism. Still teaching.
Blocked the advance of the
gunman into his classroom and
saved his students' lives.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Virginia Tech Deaths|
Rise to 31.
'"It hasn't even registered to us," [one student] said. "This is so much worse than Columbine. We don't even know what to think of it."'
Six Lectures in Verse
Reality, what can we do with it? Where is it in words?
Just as it flickers, it vanishes. Innumerable lives
Unremembered. Cities on maps only,
Without that face in the window, on the first floor, by the market,
Without those two in the bushes near the gas plant.
Returning seasons, mountain snows, oceans,
And the blue ball of the Earth rotates,
But silent are they who ran through artillery fire,
Who clung to a lump of clay for protection,
And those deported from their homes at dawn
And those who have crawled out from under a pile of bodies,
While here, I, an instructor in forgetting,
Teach that pain passes (for it's the pain of others),
Still in my mind trying to save Miss Jadwiga,
A little hunchback, librarian by profession,
Who perished in the shelter of an apartment house
That was considered safe but toppled down
And no one was able to dig through the slabs of wall,
Though knocking and voices were heard for many days.
So a name is lost for ages, forever,
No one will ever know about her last hours,
Time carries her in layers of the Pliocene.
The true enemy of man is generalization.
The true enemy of man, so-called History,
Attracts and terrifies with its plural number.
Don't believe it. Cunning and treacherous,
History is not, as Marx told us, anti-nature,
And if a goddess, a goddess of blind fate.
The little skeleton of Miss Jadwiga, the spot
Where her heart was pulsating. This only
I set against necessity, law, theory.
25 Dead and Counting.|
Though we have to be skeptical about numbers for awhile.
Editor & Publisher notes that the Virginia Tech student newspaper continued to publish descriptions of events as blog updates to its website throughout the morning.
Numbers Inching Up.|
Now it's at least twenty-two dead.
Almost all newspapers are calling this a "rampage."
You don't kill that many people by running around madly. A well-prepared, cold-blooded, carefully targeted massacre would be more like it.
...in an open, happy setting. Now we have to imagine it as a military field, with bodies strewn.
Some faculty were killed too, according to reports. The gunman went into a classroom.
Also a dorm. He mowed people down in both places.
The Washington Post is now reporting twenty killed at Virginia Tech.
'CNN showed a video taken by a student in which dozens of shots could be heard.'
Deadliest school shooting in the history of the country.
For A Second Time, Virginia Tech|
From the AP, five minutes ago.
Shootings in a dorm and classroom at Virginia Tech left at least one person dead and seven or eight more wounded Monday before police arrested the suspected gunman, officials told The Associated Press.
---thanks to mike, whose wonderful new blog, PROFANE, is all about the best and worst in intercollegiate athletics, for alerting me--
Getting Worse By the Minute: Just turned on NPR: The hospital's reporting seventeen students with gunshot wounds.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
...UD blogged the Jefferson Lecture, which featured Tom Wolfe. This May, it's Harvey Mansfield, and she'll be there again, ready to blog.
Here's some information about the paper he'll give. I got it from the Harvard University Gazette:
His topic is “How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science.”
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
UD saw Kinky Friedman perform decades ago at a club in Chicago. She's been singing his song Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed ever since.
You uppity women I don't understand
Turns out she's been singing one of the lines wrong: She thought it was "Women's liberation is a-makin' me mad." She checked the lyrics because she wanted to get up to date a bit on Friedman. He's written a little essay in the New York Sun that attracted the attention of SOS.
UD's Man Booker Rankings|
Fifteen contemporary fiction writers have been nominated for the second Booker International prize. The winner will be announced in June. Here's how UD ranks them:
1. Don DeLillo
2. Salman Rushdie
3. Michel Tournier
4. Philip Roth
5. Doris Lessing
6. Ian McEwan
7. Carlos Fuentes
8. Amos Oz
9. Margaret Atwood
10. Chinua Achebe
11. Peter Carey
12. Michael Ondaatje
13. Harry Mulisch
14. Alice Munro
15. John Banville
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Bama's Bundled Booze|
"... 17 businesses ... sell alcohol within a 1,200-foot span on [the University of Alabama's] ... Strip, including seven bars."
Walter Massey, president of Morehouse College, got $649,692 in pay and stock in 2006 for serving on Bank of America Corp.'s board. ... Massey has been a director of the Charlotte, North Carolina- based bank since 1998. His pay from Morehouse in fiscal 2005, the most recent information available, was less than his Bank of America compensation last year. Massey received $382,895 from the school, consisting of $278,847 in "compensation," $60,848 in contributions to employee benefit plans and $43,200 in expense account and other allowances, according to Morehouse's Internal Revenue Service filing.
Step away from these numbers and consider what they mean. This man is not really a university president. He sells student loans.
He's one of several university administrators across the country who, according to Bloomberg.com, "serve on boards at nine of the largest publicly traded student-loan companies." Quite a few of these people, like Massey, are so fond of the banks that enrich them for warming a seat that they recommend their banks to their students. At Morehouse, Bank of America "was chosen as an approved lender in a new ... loan program... [It] has since been dropped." Like a hot potato. Now that the SEC is watching.
The paid positions were disclosed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The documents show that college officials hold board seats at financial institutions in an industry that lends $85 billion a year to students and parents.
Nobody Here is Shocked.|
The management and staff of University Diaries expects to see a lot more of this sort of outcome. Most people, after all, are rational.
'East Tennessee State University’s student body shocked onlookers and prognosticators on Wednesday by voting down an increase in student athletic fees that would have brought back a football program.
Friday, April 13, 2007
This Blog Has Traced...|
...the outrageous scandals at Texas Southern University, essentially an operation run by thieves.
The governor has now stepped in, proposing "a state takeover," and calling for "the resignations of the regents... Perry said the school would function more efficiently with a conservator, essentially a one-person board."
...but basically well-written (I'm okay with the floridity, because it's the south) and quite thoughtful take on a presidential meltdown at the University of Mary Washington, from the local Fredericksburg newspaper:
The pinnacle of pomp and ceremony in Our Town may be the inauguration of its college's president.
Snapshots from Home|
A Regular UD Feature
UD wasn't within one hundred miles of her Northwestern University graduation ceremony. She only went to her University of Chicago graduation ceremony because her mother, desperate to see UD graduate from somewhere, forced her onto an airplane.
So UD has trouble wrapping her mind around the immense upheaval on her campus, George Washington University, about this year's commencement speaker. (Here's Wonkette's amusing take on it.) As a parting gesture, retiring President Stephen Trachtenberg will give the address, but students, expecting a big name from outside the school, feel insulted. They're organizing a protest.
The students have a point. All sorts of homages to Trachtenberg, including any homage he wants to give himself, can be fitted in to the ceremony. The commencement speaker should be an unfamiliar face, hauled in to praise the students and tell them how to live their lives. Trachtenberg's been a familiar face and a familiar speaker since the students in the graduating class arrived at GW. They know what he's got to say.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
UD Will Be On the News Hour With Jim Lehrer...|
...tonight, live, 6:30. I think. I'm still emailing back and forth with a producer. Thank God I got my gray covered last week.
Scratch that. Cast has already been put together for tonight. Producer, however, wishes to use UD on a different, upcoming segment.
Just Got Out of the ITN Studio...|
...in Washington, where I was interviewed about Vonnegut. I will link to the online page where the interview will be shown when I find it. Will also narrate, for those UD readers not intimately familiar with the Sudden Summons to TV Interview protocol, what this experience was like. Ne quittez pas.
Okay: I think this is the right place. I don't know when the interview will be available -- maybe this evening? And, as my reader Eric suggests, I'll ask my technically proficient sister to put it on youtube for me -- if I'm able to find it.
As to how these odd, rushed, and deeply gratifying experiences occur:
First, it's about teaching in Washington, where when news breaks you've got various media outlets here desperately seaching for a plausible person nearby to interview about it. Vonnegut - novelist - professor of English... GW's nearby... You put in a call to GW's news office, which puts in a call to the English department chair, Jeffrey Cohen, who, having just noticed a post about Vonnegut on my website, suggests UD, dear man.
UD then gets a call from ITN informing her that in ten minutes a black limo will pull up to her building and drive her to their studios. UD, who had planned to make a presentation at a faculty meeting, rushes upstairs to explain things to Jeffrey, and also to thank him. She then speeds to the ladies' room. She then speeds back to her office and waits for Sunny, a nice Pakistani man with whom she will shortly exchange life stories, to call her.
Her favorite part's coming up. Sunny's all done up in a fancy suit and he sprints out of the car and opens UD's door for her with intense ceremony. This whisked-into-a-limo thing is even better than the interview. Try it and you'll see what I mean.
She takes a swig of water and a few nuts which Sunny has provided and gazes out at Washington on a sunny, very warm day, and thinks highly of herself. There's no particular reason for UD to think highly of herself. It's the setting.
Security at ITN's building is pretty intense (CNN and NBC and other places like that are in the same building), but UD has her passport (she doesn't drive, so doesn't have a license), and this does the trick. She's given a magic piece of paper to slide through a machine in order to open a turnstile in front of the elevators.
The ITN studio is small and simple. She's greeted amiably in the front room by a bunch of Brits watching four rows of tv screens on a back wall, and then she's taken into a dark, tiny room, where she's fitted out with a microphone, instructed to look at her interviewer, and we're off.
I decided to take a sentimental old hippie approach to Vonnegut's death. I said that for people like me, in high school in 1969 when Slaughterhouse Five came out, it's a somewhat emotional occasion, since that novel is caught up with so many other things about that time... Well, you'll see...
Kurt Vonnegut Has Died.|
Although he was never one of UD's favorites, it's true that the peculiar jaunty/rageful mood of Slaughterhouse Five had a strong impact on her. Mention the title to her, and the book's nonchalant outrage will instantly flood UD's circuitry for awhile. That's one measure, obviously, of a very strong novel.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The entire Duke lacrosse case has been dropped. Later today, all charges will be officially dismissed.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
An opinion piece in Lebanon's Daily Star (thanks, RJO, for sending it to me) notes some hopeful developments for that region's universities:
... Located in the high-tech development zone Smart Village, 20 kilometers northwest of Cairo, [just-opened Nile University] is the first Egyptian private university focusing on post-graduate studies and research. Since 1996, more than 10 private universities have been established. Four Egyptian private universities tested the terrain first; in 2002 French and German universities followed. Now, they are not only competing with the prestigious American University in Cairo (AUC) founded in 1919, but also with British and Canadian universities. A Russian and a Chinese university are in the making.
But don't get too excited.
... While Moroccan and Egyptian policymakers use cooperation with the World Bank and other donors to break with certain old patterns such as free university education, other patterns, such as centralized university administration and lack of autonomy for universities, remain untouched.
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
A biology professor complains in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the fragmented, quickly forgotten, nature of college learning, comparing students' intellectual behavior - scoring a grade in one course, quickly forgetting its content, scoring a grade in another course - to that of athletes trained simply to win one game and then another.
It's a reasonable enough thing to worry about, but his essay doesn't worry about it properly, and so has the feel of a futile gesture -- about as futile as taking one course after another and not learning anything. Scathing Online Schoolmarm examines a few paragraphs:
From an educational standpoint, rather than an economic one, college is a waste of time for most students, and teaching is a waste of effort for most professors. It is a waste of national resources on a colossal and increasing scale. [The problem with vast, vast statements like these is their vastness. Over-generalizing, as all Intro Comp students learn, is a mistake, because of a well-known paradox in writing: The more you inflate your rhetoric, the likelier that sucker is to burst right into shreds. Less is more, especially when, like this guy, you write guy-style -- see this earlier post -- and as a result cannot lend your Spenglerian doom the heavy breathing it demands. Note, for instance, the pairing of the words "colossal" and "increasing." The word that comes after colossal should be bigger than colossal. Increasing's a puny little thing. ]
Monday, April 09, 2007
Finally, Charles Murray|
Begins to Talk Some Sense
'Jews are Geniuses, Claims Social Radical
The Sunday Times
Sunday, April 08, 2007
... is beginning to reap the benefits of having its name on the University of Minnesota football stadium -- and the place isn't even built yet.
The huge investment TCF made has intimately coupled it with the Gophers, a team now dominating national headlines:
So much for that festive spring game today, huh?
Saturday, April 07, 2007
His university, Charleston Southern, is on the Templeton Foundation's Honor Roll of Character Building schools. CSU recently named him an "outstanding faculty member."
But Al Parish, professor of economics, local media personality, and wearer of loud suits, seems to be guilty of fraud:
An economics professor known for his flamboyant suits and million dollar pen collection claimed amnesia after federal investigators discovered about $134 million missing from several investment funds he managed, according to court documents.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Aux Armes, Mes Enfants!|
'... It is more difficult to process information if it is coming at you in the written and spoken form at the same time.
The Sydney Morning Herald, via mediabistro.
This Ranking of |
...is rudimentary, but promising.
If You're After Someone...|
...who deeply understands the following, find another blog. UD's notoriously weak on numbers, banking, and business law. But, as the kind reader who sent her this Los Angeles Times article about corruption at Pepperdine, Columbia, and the University of Southern California notes, this stinks in a big way.
Financial aid officers at those schools (we'll probably hear about other schools as the story develops) are being paid off by lending firms in exchange for promoting the firms to students:
Catherine Thomas, a USC associate dean and financial aid director [may have] "engaged in deceptive practices or other illegal conduct in connection with her dealings with Student Loan Xpress Inc."
The Current Tax Code|
From Inside Higher Education:
Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told The Detroit News that he is investigating the tax implications of universities’ policies on premium ticket sales for athletic events, as part of his ongoing interest in tax breaks given to colleges and universities.
An excerpt from the Detroit News article:
Fueling the salary race [for coaches] are favorable tax laws that permit donors to write off 80 percent of contributions to their favorite college athletic program -- such as the $165 million oilman Boone Pickens gave Oklahoma State in 2006.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Headline of the Day|
SNORTING FATHER'S ASHES
Update: First lame limerick attempt. As always, readers are invited to improve on this.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Another Strong Opinion Piece...|
... in the Oregon Register-Guard. Faculty members at the University of Oregon are keeping the pressure on that university's benighted administration as it turns a fine university into Oklahoma State.
This piece, by an art history professor, is written guy-style. Guy-style is fine; UD likes guy-style. Guy-style writing is unadorned, functional, gets you there.
One nice thing about guy-style is that if you rev its engine just a bit toward the end it can have a strong impact, because people assume it'll keep cruising along, and when it doesn't, it hits rather hard. Let me show you what I mean.
'The current price for a new University of Oregon basketball arena is $213.5 million, a significant increase over the recent estimate of $160 million. [Starts with numbers, and dramatic ones at that. As with the Univesity of Minnesota, everyone knows these university stadium projects will almost certainly be obscenely over budget.] Hasn't the time come for soul searching by those who are so avidly promoting this project? [See, this isn't the most stylish writing -- The rhetorical question's a little clunky, and prescribing soul searching for the soulless tends to make the whole effort feel futile just as the essay begins...] The enormous challenge of raising these many millions is taking a heavy toll on the university's good name. [Too many adjectives: enormous, many, heavy, good... You only want a couple of these. If you overdo it, the paradoxical result is a weakening of impact.]
Yes. Write to Dave. I just did.
A Commentator on |
... expresses the same idea that UD, in this blog's very first post, quoted James Redfield expressing. Here's Redfield:
The problem with universities is that universities are not operations which are constructed for making money. They are operations which are chartered to spend money. Of course, in order to acquire money to spend, they do have to acquire it. But their job is to pursue non-economic purposes. Or, to put it another way, their job is to pursue and, in fact, to develop and shape purposes within the society in some specific way. They are value-makers. They are not supposed to be pursuing the values of the society by responding to demand; they are supposed to shape demand, which is, in fact, what education is all about.
And here's Lawrence Krauss at Marketplace:
...[U]niversity presidents rub elbows more and more with rich corporate donors, alumni and trustees. They travel in donated corporate jets, and they get paid CEO salaries.
Valley So Low|
Dissent: The Blog, which chronicles the bizarre, parochial ways of a couple of colleges in California, is one of a growing number of such websites, in which named or unnamed faculty and staff describe -- in attitudes ranging from laughter to outrage -- the inner workings of some of America's worst places to get an education.
All unhappy colleges tend to look alike, as this morning's Chronicle of Higher Education confirms when it features the latest breakout blog, this one about fourth-tier Missouri Valley College:
A Web site that sharply criticizes the administration of Missouri Valley College has students and professors on the Marshall, Mo., campus buzzing. "What allows a 117-year-old college to complacently remain fourth tier?" the site asks, alluding to the institution's mediocre standing in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings.
Here, taken from the site itself, are all of the stigmata of the shitty American college:
'Coaches do all freshman recruiting for the college.
Life, on America's many sequestered bad colleges, is but a dream. Pretend classes, pretend degrees, jobs abounding for friends and family, fun and games for all ... Everyone's nudged awake a little bit when accreditors rap on the door, but accreditors don't care about any of this, actually, so ... yawn... nothing to worry about... sleep baby sleep...
The Language of the International Herald Tribune...|
...is telling. "To date," its reporter in Athens writes, Greek universities "have operated with relative impunity."
Indeed they're gone unpunished for their state-subsidized nothingness until recently, when the government passed legislation introducing competition and standards to the country's comatose professors and students. This woke them up.
A four-month spate of strong protests against Greek education reforms has been paralyzing central Athens and crippling local businesses in one of the biggest setbacks to the country's conservative government since it took office three years ago.
These people, busy destroying Athens because they don't think people should be free to found universities, are Europe's reigning reactionaries.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Two Dead in Shooting,|
University of Washington
"A Psycho from the Past."
Has All the Marks|
Of an April Fool's Story...
...but is apparently true.
From the Des Moines Register:
Sunday, April 01, 2007
From a New York Times book review:
'Ant Farm [is] a collection of short comic essays by Simon Rich, whose high-spirited schadenfreude can work its magic in a page or two. In one story, a “typical teenage girl” recounts her fatal case of hepatitis C via text messaging: “All I can do now is w8 4 death, :( ” she bleakly confides.'
Treading Very Carefully Here...|
...because of the date. Many of the university-related Google News stories I've scanned today are spoofs. Don't want to be announcing on University Diaries that Drexel has fired its entire philosophy department because, even though that's what a headline says, I don't really think it's true.