Another instance of UD preferring recitative to aria.
This white turtlehead will unfold into beautiful clusters in a day or two; but for me, the symmetry and restraint of this stage takes the prize. Something about it also reminds me of garden murals from Pompeii.
‘At the hearing last month, [Gary D.] Fielder protested that he had a “good faith” belief that the election was stolen. He cited theories by other attorneys and Trump allies — such as, no kidding, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.’

No kidding.

It’s about…


‘We are people of the book, but what surprised me were these young people that were functionally illiterate. You see that the kids don’t know how to write their own names in English. They’re not taught that the earth moves around the sun, they’re taught to hate everybody who isn’t Jewish.’

Well, let’s not overstate the matter. They’re taught to hate a lot of people who are Jewish, too.


[Maxwell] Berry graduated in May from Ohio Wesleyan University, where he received a values in action award from the Greek life community for being a “perfect role model” and for leading “the fight to dismantle fraternity stereotypes.”


‘It was like when I first met her, she was a Christian, and then she was a socialist, and then she was an atheist and then a Muslim.’

Had to laugh when I read this, although the story of Aminah’s mother (my friend Peter rescued eight year old Aminah from an ISIS prisoner camp a few weeks ago – details here), who was killed in an attack on ISIS, is deeply sad. Home non-schooled by a fervent speaker in tongues (think Carrie; details here), Ariel Bradley escaped a nightmare mother only to become – after a twisted ideological journey – an even worse religious fanatic.

Can it be that if Aminah is repatriated she’ll have to live with Ariel’s mother? Will Aminah never live in a sane world?

Cold comfort, but dozens of gunshots near the Pentagon…

… are SO much more likely to be random assholes shooting each other than a terror incident. With four hundred million guns lying around, you need to get used to a lot of bangbang.


Story is still developing, but it looks as though someone shot and killed a police officer at the site. Maybe suicide by cop?


An officer died after being stabbed on Tuesday during a brief outbreak of violence at a transit station outside the Pentagon, on the outskirts of Washington DC, and a suspect in the incident was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene, officials said.


“[E]very country contains mentally ill and potentially violent people. Only America arms them.

If you ever doubted the contagion theory of suicide…

take note of the awful drumbeat coming from the January 6 police.


Police have among the highest suicide rates in the country. They’ve got guns and know how to use them; they witness and take part in traumatizing events all the time; they may medicate stress and despair and anger with alcohol, which may get out of control; and they have a strong “buddy” ethos (this last one goes to the contagion effect).

“The word for all this is ‘aristocrat.'”

For the granddaughter of a Russian-born, Jewish, general store owner in Port Deposit, Maryland, our UD has certainly rubbed noses with a lot of aristocrats. For starters, there’s Mr UD, descended from an old, pedigreed Polish family; and then there’s her friend of many years, Peter Galbraith, described as American aristocracy (see this post’s headline) in this rather insightful New York magazine piece about him.

UD, to be sure, grew up in Bethesda, where her father was a high-ranking NIH scientist; but as you know if you read this post, she didn’t even know what a private school was until her Goucher College roommate (who went to one) explained it to her. Her parents were clueless – and indifferent – in matters of class, and so was UD, for whom a writer like Tom Wolfe, who believed everything came down to status, was a kind of revelation. She recalls deciding that his satire in Bonfire of the Vanities was just that – an absurd, surreal, impossibly exaggerated account of humanity… Had to be…

But, you know, I had a lot o’ livin’ to do. And eventually UD took on board the fact that yeah a lot of people care a whole lot about status, which means, in America, gaining admission to the upper middle class. Here’s Paul Fussell on the subject, in his book Class:

If people with small imaginations and limited understandings aspire to get into the upper-middle class, the few with notable gifts of mind and perception aspire to disencumber themselves into X people. It’s only as an X, detached from the constraints and anxieties of the whole class racket, that an American can enjoy something like the LIBERTY promised on the coinage. And it’s in the X world, if anywhere, that an American can avoid some of the envy and ambition that pervert so many. De Tocqueville saw as early as 1845 what was likely to result from the official American reprehension of the aristocratic principle. “Desires still remain extremely enlarged,” he wrote, “while the means of satisfying them are diminished day by day.” And thus “on every side we trace the ravages of inordinate and unsuccessful ambition kindled in hearts which it consumes in secret and in vain.” The society of Xs is not large at the moment. It could be larger, for many can join who’ve not yet understood that they have received an invitation.

Now X’s are people who, in Fussell’s terminology, do not find reprehensible the aristocratic principle, which here clearly refers to people who do not care or know about the latest model Mercedes and who may indeed (as Fussell notes) be seen driving around (but they don’t drive much) in the same beat up old Saab (Peter’s father, John Kenneth Galbraith, drove a not-shiny Saab, as I recall) they’ve owned for twenty years. What they tend to care about is the pursuit of something meaningful that engrosses them – it could be Etruscan pottery or global diplomacy, but something meaningful and engrossing, pursued with personal passion and not because it impresses anyone or makes them rich.

Anyway, Peter and Karol carried, with thoughtless ease, all the goods the upper-middle strivers tend to be after – accomplished families, iconic private schools, the Ivy League, fancy friends, fancy international travel, etc. But what people missed about them was that they were – and are – Xs. Peter, as the New York article makes clear, is a moralist, consumed by the imperative to rescue a suffering corrupt world from suffering and corruption. This does not mean that Peter himself always behaves morally; it does mean that at seventy years of age he can be found day after day tramping through squalid ISIS prisoner camps, looking for people to rescue. That is what Peter’s doing with his retirement.

A US-born 8-year-old girl who grew up with her ISIS parents has been rescued from a Syrian camp — and is now awaiting word to see if she can return to the US, according to a report… The girl’s rescue was made possible by [Peter] Galbraith and a Canadian woman who met her mother while living under ISIS, which she has since denounced…

Aminah’s mother, Ariel Bradley, was an evangelical Christian who converted to Islam and later married Yasin Mohamad, a Swedish Muslim, through an arranged marriage.

The family lived in Sweden but eventually relocated to ISIS-controlled territory in the Middle East, where they lived under the terror group’s rigid guidelines.

According to Buzzfeed, Mohamad was killed in an airstrike in June 2015, and [Aminah’s] mother remarried a devout ISIS follower, an Australian named Tareq Kamleh.

When both Bradley and Kamleh were killed in 2018, Aminah was turned over to another of her stepfather’s wives, a Somali woman who remained devoted to the terror group.”

Aminah is only the latest of Peter’s rescues; he seems committed to continuing the work. (That last link is to an extremely detailed account of Aminah’s dramatic rescue, and includes a photograph of Peter.)


I try to imagine the military raid that freed Aminah from the fanatics hiding her in the camp (Peter convinced a Syrian Democratic Forces general to carry out the raid); I try to picture my friend of forty years gingerly approaching this thoroughly traumatized and abused child (I guess someone would first have removed the niqab they swaddled her in). My mind’s eye attempts to conjure a scene in which one of the most privileged people on the planet leans down to greet one of the planet’s most downtrodden — and I don’t want to sentimentalize it, because in my rendering the child is wailing since after all she has just violently been taken from the only facsimile of a “mother” she may ever have had much awareness of… And how could she not have tried loving this latest mother facsimile, since in her experience mothers are all shrouded fanatics, and fathers distant and then dead apparitions? And so, she says to herself, here’s the latest iteration of Aminah’s Childhood – all these nice Americans and Canadians and consular officials. And if she’s lucky and we take her back there will be the maternal grandparents, people who have been mourning the unaccountable life and death of their daughter, the daughter who they see in the eyes of the granddaughter who they have never met and who they will now love and raise…

Nothing to see here!

Chicago recorded 650 murders in 2017. Japan, which has 46 times as many people, had 307 homicides the same year. We’ve simply come to accept a level of violence in this country that much of the rest of the world—from poor, developing countries such as Vietnam to wealthy nations such as the United Kingdom—can’t even imagine. Ignoring that level of human suffering is hardly progressive, and it isn’t hysterical to say so.

“[A] severely distressed person with decent upper body strength can clear the chest-high railings with ease.”

After four suicides of young people in a short period of time, it’s an empty Vessel.

Four and no more, at least for the moment; they’ve closed down the shiny new suicide-attractor, the folly that is in fact a folly.

For most people, it’s a fun place to crawl along stairways with a spectacular New York City view; for a few, it’s a beacon of hopelessness. And given the ways of contagion, the site was wired for more and more Werthers.


Now, gazing at its Eschery silence, people think not of the inventive fun, the silly sightseeing, its creator had in mind, but of the absolute opposite of silliness. The Vessel’s manic sprite summons the depressive specter. It is Lear’s Fool, madcap and bitterly melancholy.


Yes, New York City is all ledges to tumble or jump from; no, adding inches to chest-high railings won’t stop suicides (ten years ago, Yale undergraduate Cameron Dabaghi “got a running start and scrambled over a ten-foot-high spiked fence before leaping off” the Empire State Building). But the symbolic power of certain structures (Golden Gate Bridge, NYU’s Bobst Library, Cornell’s bridges, the Vessel) happens, and once it happens it’s all about backtracking, retrofitting, barring, netting, even sometimes closing. Four and done.

Bravo, Biden.

President Joe Biden announced Friday that he was appointing Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father who drew then-candidate Donald Trump’s ire when he spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Fuckface threw unusually vile shit at Khan, an icon of sacrifice and citizenship; and UD recalls the heartbreak and indignation she felt on his behalf. What a perfect recuperative gesture, Biden appointing him to this commission!

‘It’s good to know the integralists are willing to embrace the full implications of their position.’

Read it all. It’s short.

The Cathophate to come! So much to love.


At one point, [the judge] questioned whether the magnitude of opioid shipments delivered to the community might trigger some legal liability.

“Is there some point at which the number would be so great that it would be unreasonable?” [he] asked.

Nah! 81 million opioid pills for a city of 91,000 reflects a heroic dedication to the well-being of its residents — and the proof is in the pudding! One in ten of them is now a full-blown addict.

The only possible verdict in this trial of pill distributors is Presidential Medal of Honor for every CEO who unselfishly opened the floodgates so that Huntington West Virginia could stand as a shining overdosed city on a hill.

Next Page »

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Dr. Bernard Carroll, known as the "conscience of psychiatry," contributed to various blogs, including Margaret Soltan's University Diaries, for which he sometimes wrote limericks under the name Adam.
New York Times

George Washington University English professor Margaret Soltan writes a blog called University Diaries, in which she decries the Twilight Zone-ish state our holy land’s institutes of higher ed find themselves in these days.
The Electron Pencil

It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
Professor Mondo

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte