Wednesday, November 14, 2007
UD's site feeds have moved. Please update your bookmarks to the site feeds with the following links.|
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
'A UT law professor and creator of one of the world’s most popular blogs has been named one of America’s 10 most influential legal scholars by the Social Science Research Network.
---university of tennessee student newspaper---
From Jon Cogburn's blog.|
A local news station describes a problem on the campus of the University of South Florida.|
'It's a quiet day here on the USF campus, but students like Susie Demesmi say it's not always this serene.
Excellent writing from a Syracuse University student about George Washington University's new puke-as-you-go policy. An excerpt from her consideration of the effects of such a policy at Syracuse:|
'... [D]ozens of freshmen who live in South Campus' Skyhalls had no say in their housing arrangements. These students would be the victims of a puking policy solely because of their reliance on the buses to visit North Campus and enjoy the university's social scene.
George Washington University's incoming president is unhappy about the fact that GW is the most expensive university in the country, and he plans to reduce tuition. |
But without that enormous tuition, GW's outgoing president wouldn't have had a chance to scrape together a living.
His salary - close to a million dollars - didn't make him rich, he explains in a recent interview:
'Being a university president is a great privilege, and it comes with tremendous rewards. Getting rich is not one of them.'
Although many American university presidents are compensated, like Stephen Trachtenberg, in the million dollar range, and enjoy free housing, chauffeuring, corporate board money and retention perks, this fails to make them rich.
On the other hand, it has a terrific effect on faculty salaries: "If the presidents are paid well, it follows, or it should follow, that the professor will be celebrated and honored and also fairly compensated."
'Q. What aspects of the job justify paying presidents so much more than faculty members?
Presidents get, or are given, faculty tenure, which means that they have a highly-paid university position waiting for them when they leave the presidency. No risk there.
Universities are desperate for presidents, so even the worst can get jobs elsewhere, as Trachtenberg acknowledges earlier in the interview, when talking about how the very competitive market for presidents has pushed up compensation.
Many university presidents get sabbaticals, or significant breaks that aren't called sabbaticals. It's something they negotiate in their contracts.
Most professors UD knows of work twelve months a year.
The board situation is a notorious scandal, with university presidents taking tens of thousands of dollars and squandering university time to go to corporate retreats and do nothing.
Monday, November 12, 2007
From an Esquire Magazine writer:|
'He bore her away in his arms,
Andrew, a reader, tells UD of a recent announcement sent to students at Oberlin College (via Gawker):|
'Poop in the Adam Joseph Lewis Center toilets [in the Environmental Studies building] anytime between Saturday, November 10th and Friday, November 16th and sign up to receive a quarter per poop.'
In a comment, an Oberlin student explains:
'[T]he poop is to feed their "living machine," which filters waste water with bacteria and plants and stuff. The building isn't that highly trafficked and if the bacteria doesn't get enough poop it dies. I remember once during a deserted winter term they had to feed the thing a tray of donuts from the cafeteria to keep it going...
'A sophomore at New York University was found dead in his Water Street dorm room on Friday night. The Washington Square News reports that other residents were told about the death on Saturday and that the university did not send out an NYU community-wide email per a request from the deceased student's parents: "The family has asked that they be accorded the utmost privacy, and the university will do its best to honor its wishes and urges the media to do the same."'
'Student government leaders are urging University of Massachusetts at Amherst students to skip classes Thursday and Friday to protest a range of grievances they say university administrators have consistently ignored.
The Globe fails to mention a likely reason for that uptick in police patrols.
Last December, U Mass students rioted in spectacular fashion:
'...100 and 125 windows had been smashed with bricks, rocks and chairs, and police had been pelted with bottles and pieces of concrete. ...[C]harges including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, failure to disperse in a riot, minor in possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana, breaking and entering, mistreatment of a police horse or dog and destruction of property.
...About 60 campus, town and state police officers in riot gear were needed to squelch the riot that drew more than 1,800 students to the plaza of the Southwest residential area. Students threw bottles, cans, bricks, pieces of concrete and other items at the officers and yelled obscenities.
Brian Leiter, whose blog is Law School Reports, links to UD this morning.|
He liked her ironic headline about his recent career move (Another Academic Career Destroyed by Blogging).
Among scholars who've "helped themselves greatly by blogging," Leiter mentions a colleague of UD's at George Washington University:
'Orin Kerr ... consistently posts informative items about cases and issues in his areas of scholarly expertise. His political opinions are well within the spectrum of unoffensive opinions, and they also don't play a particularly large role in what he writes about. Experts in criminal procedure would, of course, know about Kerr anyway (indeed, as data I will release shortly shows, he is among the twenty most-cited scholars writing in criminal law and procedure, and the youngest on the list). But because of his blog work, he now has a much higher profile as a respected expert in these areas.'
Leiter, who's about to take a spectacular job at the University of Chicago, concludes with some reflections on his own blogging:
'I venture no opinion on the topic that has, by now, occurred to at least some readers, namely, the effect of my own blogging on my professional prospects. It won't surprise anyone to learn that I haven't approached blogging with that in mind, though I've been pretty fortunate, indeed, in the professional opportunities I've had nonetheless. I certainly run afoul of many of the cautionary notes remarked on above. [He has in mind in particular a caution about blogging political opinions out of the mainstream.] Although I rarely blog about scholarly topics, my political opinions are, on most issues, well outside the familiar spectrum. I also don't suffer fools gladly which, given their over-representation in the blogosphere (for an obvious reason: there are no meaningful barriers to entry), makes me prone to be a bit more abrupt and direct than is the norm in the pseudo-egalitarian blogosphere. (In real life--e.g., in the context of academic debate and academic hiring decisions--anti-egalitarianism is the norm, at least at the better schools.) So maybe I'm a counter-example to the cautionary notes sounded above? On the other hand, I had a decade of teaching, publications and scholarly presence before I did any blogging, which means the evidential base for informed judgments was far greater than it would be for someone newer to the academy. I am inclined to think that is significant in all cases, which is yet another reason for students and junior faculty to be very cautious about blogging.'
If you're visiting from Leiter and would like a taste of UD on legal matters, here's an early post about another of UD's GW colleagues, Jeffrey Rosen.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I'm in downtown Silver Spring (well, I was in downtown Silver Spring yesterday... but this you-are-there use of the present-tense is fun, so let's go with it...) in the Roundhouse Theater. |
I'm the youngest person in the audience.
When you retire in America, it's community theater all the way.
The tiny stage is a scruffy bit of football field; game-day music tinkles behind us.
I'm here to see Red Shirts, a play about bigtime university sports.
"How many people here was a real football player?" A codger two rows down addresses us as we wait for things to start.
A tinny old lady answers: "Were you?" Belligerent.
He doesn't hear her. Like everyone in the room except UD, he wears a hearing aid.
Who knew so many Americans abused Viagra?
UD's basically impressed by the play, but she agrees with the reviewers who say that the author tried to pack much too much - plot, character, idea - into it. Slimmed down, it'll be a strong treatment of a serious subject, one that an opinion piece in today's New York Times gets at too -- the exploitation of often culturally and economically disadvantaged college athletes because of the absurd conceit that they're all college students. We pretend, writes Michael Lewis, that these people are
students first, and football players second. They are like Franciscan monks set down in the gold mine. Yes, they play football, but they have no interest in the money. What they're really living for is that degree in criminology.
And they're really keen on English lit too. The funniest scene in the play -- and it's a smart, well-written play -- is a poetry-analysis practice session with coach, when the guys try to make sense of Emily Dickinson:
My nosegays are for captives;
The many ways the guys say what the hell? are hilarious, and UD loved it.
The English professor is a thankless role in this sort of drama -- if she doesn't care, she's contemptible; if she does, she's a scathing schoolmarm destroying the school and the players' prospects. As this character pursues sanctions against team members for cheating, one of them says to her: "You think the coach is gonna let a pissant professor knock out his game? He makes two million dollars a year."
Just as thankless is the learning specialist who tries to explain the English professor to the players: "She wants to know that you can assert and defend a position on a poem." But, says a player, "Nobody gives a shit about Paradise Lost."
The play concludes a bit awkwardly -- its plot meanders and never finds enlightenment -- so that UD doesn't leave the theater with the aesthetic payoff she'd have liked. But the heart of the thing is pure, with a pure appraisal of the inhumanity at the heart of Division I university football.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
"Soltan is profane, incisive, and snotty, a delightful combination."
Panic in Year Zero
|"Mailer is forever shouting at us that he is about to tell us something we must know or has just told us something revelatory and we failed to hear him or that he will, God grant his poor abused brain and body just one more chance, get through to us so that we will know. Each time he speaks he must become more bold, more loud, put on brighter motley and shake more foolish bells. Yet of all my contemporaries I retain the greatest affection for Norman as a force and as an artist. He is a man whose faults, though many, add to rather than subtract from the sum of his natural achievements.”|
'I discovered [at Harvard] that people could speak of poetry without an apologetic grin. They could be dead serious about listening to classical music. You know, I came from Brooklyn and you were lower than a sissy if you took music seriously, if you took poetry and so forth. That wasn't there. The game was on the streets. I don't mean by that that I was a tough kid out on the streets and such, but we all were slightly tough. You know, we learned to play touch football jeering at cars when they occasionally went by because they interrupted our game. That was as tough as we got, but nonetheless there was an attitude of machismo even though we didn't fulfill it. And so going to Harvard where culture was important was the key shock.'
Norman Mailer: 1923 - 2007
Norman Mailer Has Died.
It was a summer during my high school years, and I was unhappily camping in the Pyrenees with Catalan friends of my family and a bunch of other camping Catalans. It was hellishly hot. I hated setting up tent, standing in line for mashed beans, shitting in the woods. |
While everyone put on their big boots and went for mountain hikes, I holed up in my tent, reading Norman Mailer's novel, The Naked and the Dead. He wrote it when he was absurdly young. It was about his war experiences.
I remember being lost in the powerful narrative momentum of the thing -- remember a description of a man pissing himself in terror as his group of soldiers is drawn into a bloodbath by a malign commander...
Around the same time, late 1960's, as UD marched with her high-school boyfriend on the Capitol, it was Mailer's Armies of the Night that helped her figure out what she was doing (her only memory of the march is her boyfriend massaging her feet afterwards).
I doubt UD understood then what Mailer meant by "the overpsychologized loins of the liberal academic intelligentsia." Does she ever now.
"It is a work of personal and political reportage that brings to the inner and developing crisis of the United States at this moment  admirable sensibilities, candid intelligence, the most moving concern for America itself," wrote Alfred Kazin in New York Times.
'Do you know which federal legal holiday is observed on Nov. 11?
'Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign admitted Friday that it planted a global warming question in Newton, Iowa, Tuesday during a town hall meeting to discuss clean energy.
...is featured in a Guardian article:|
'...Beard is now a professor at Cambridge and the best-known classicist in Britain. Her new book, The Roman Triumph, is keenly awaited, and she has been asked to give the prestigious Sather lectures at Berkeley...
UD, whose mother worked with Wilhelmina Jashemski, an expert in the gardens of Pompeii, at the University of Maryland, looks forward to Mary's book.
Because UD went to Pompeii with her mother, who knew everything about the place (and about Herculaneum, down the street), UD's experience of the town was not touristic. It was excruciatingly meticulous.
On the other hand, because of their Jashemski connection, UD and her mother were able to see some off-limits plaster mummies.
Friday, November 09, 2007
'I was stunned and dismayed to read that you intend to help fund the expansion of Rutgers University's stadium -- by some estimates, to the tune of $30 million.
'Signs on [University of California Irvine] law school buildings [funded by billionaire Donald Bren] must read "Donald Bren School of Law" and be at least twice the size of the building name. Bren's must be the largest and most prominently displayed name on the building, according to the agreement.'
Kind of like
---los angeles times---
...of sociology goes where no man has ever gone before: He actually reads the fucker.|
'In its report to Chancellor Fernando Treviño, the review committee weighing plagiarism in Glenn Poshard's 1984 dissertation indicated it had "investigated the academic culture in that period, in the Department of Higher Education, and specifically, by [sic] Dr. Poshard's immediate peers and adviser."
Thursday, November 08, 2007
|It now looks as though she drew all of the swastikas on her door.|
Mr. UD attended Harvard with Benazir Bhutto. |
UD used to see a little of her years back, when she made trips to Washington.
She recalls Benazir, not yet in office, sweeping into a French restaurant on Capitol Hill, where she met up with les UD's and other Harvard friends -- I think this must have been UD's first glimpse of her. She wore an amazing fur coat -- UD could impress you more with this detail if she were able to differentiate among pelts -- and took immediate command -- a tall, insanely intense woman -- of the table. As soon as she arrived, small talk ended. Everything was about her recent pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, her father's imprisonment and death, her brother's death.
UD saw her in a more relaxed mode at the Capitol Hill house of a mutual friend. This would've been at least fifteen years ago. She was funny. She complained good-naturedly about the woman who was writing her autobiography. One of the guests was recently divorced, and Benazir was hilarious on the subject of various unsuitable cousins she was going to toss at him for his next wife.
After Benazir took office, les UD's went to a very formal gathering that was supposed to be a very informal gathering, welcoming her to Washington as part of a state visit. The event was at Blair House, across the street from the White House, and the guests were, again, Harvard friends of hers. UD remembers lots of group photos being taken; she remembers being dazzled by Benazir's sister, a gorgeous woman in a sari whose shimmering glow gave her the aura of one of the major saints. She remembers a longish chat with Benazir's husband, a genial, self-deprecating man who spoke mainly about polo.
There were other formal events, including a state dinner at a Washington hotel, where Dan Quayle toasted Benazir and Benazir toasted Dan Quayle and UD's eyes flickered from VIP to VIP to VIP...
UD's all about private life, or mainly about private life, so people fully committed to public life are enigmatic to her. Their destinies frighten her. When he was with the United Nations in East Timor, Mr. UD worked for, got to know a bit, and got to admire profoundly, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a handsome, brilliant, unpretentious man who was killed in a Baghdad bombing. Benazir's life, too, is in danger.
'Heritage Hall, the athletic department building at the center of USC's campus, has seven Heisman Trophies and their recipients' jerseys on display. Each of the seven players is highlighted in the USC football media guide and game-day programs. Enormous replicas of the retired jerseys are displayed all football season long below the peristyle of the Los Angeles Coliseum.
--opinion piece, la times--
...is a blog that doesn't seem to have been too active until recently. Its author, a journalism student, writes quite well. A post describing Mike Wallace's visit to Fordham University concludes:|
'Students came forth slowy, tentatively, with questions. But by the end of the 60 minutes, Wallace was the one conducting the interview, doing what he still does best: putting people in the hot seat, and by God, making them squirm...
Not all of this prose is perfect. But, by God, she nails the ending.
UD once saw a course evaluation form across whose top something like the following message to students appeared:|
Please remember that your instructor's salary is directly tied to your evaluation of him or her.
She recalled that message when she read this article about her university's business school:
'Business Week magazine will pay special attention to GW when calculating its annual business school rankings because of a controversially worded letter from University administrators encouraging students to participate in the magazine's survey.
A recent survey ranks Syracuse a prominent blogging city, and the presence of Syracuse University is a major reason why.|
...'Syracuse ranks high because it has several of the characteristics that correlate with blogging activity, not the least of which is the presence of Syracuse University...
The Daily Orange, the Syracuse University newspaper.
Good writing about a lack of intellectual curiosity at Harvard.|
SOS suggests ways to make the writing even better.
'When I began my undergraduate career at Harvard a little over two years ago, I spent the early days, weeks, and months floating around in a haze. I felt out to sea in my classes, and socially, the scene surprised me. I had expected Harvard to be an oasis of intellectualism, and it wasn’t. [In a haze, out to sea, an oasis... We've got a mess of metaphors here. But the first-person approach is a good idea, and this Harvard undergraduate writing in the campus newspaper is about to say something very important, and say it pretty well.]
...she was always told never argue from emotion.|
This rule remained somewhat abstract until SOS read the latest of many letters in the Southern Illinois press in defense of plagiarizing Southern Illinois prez Glenn Poshard.
'I have sat quietly by reading the headlines and editorials about Glenn Poshard, a dizzying roller coaster ride that made me wish I had skipped the chili dog. [A quiet, dizzying roller coaster ride. Confusing.] He devoted his life to serving people of Southern Illinois and is charismatic, enthusiastic and dedicated to his community. [You can be many good things and a plagiarist too.]
The problem with arguing from emotion is that you're emotional. You can't think straight. Readers are looking for reasons, not dispatches from the fainting couch.