UD has long been a fan of the non-fiction writer Drew Jubera.

She celebrated his unbeatable account of life at no-‘count junior colleges for sports fuck-ups back in 2015, and Jubera was kind enough to write her thanking her for the post. He’s a truly terrific writer (for details, go to the link in the previous sentence.)

And maybe it’s because Jubera combines fine prose with a special gift for writing about male fuckups that Hunter Biden, recovering wreck of the hour, chose him to ghostwrite his memoir. You will recall that I (and other sharp-eyed types) noticed how remarkably good the writing was in Hunter Biden’s book – which was produced “in collaboration with” Jubera, and who knows who did what, but if you want a guaranteed excellent read, you go where Hunter went, to Jubera. And not that UD will read the memoir in its entirety, but she’s read enough excerpts to know it’s a superior example of its type.

Sentences that Make UD Laugh

I [realized I] had three options in terms of how I dealt with public opinion. One was to aspire to enlightenment and be able to read things that were hateful and violent and rise above them. That was not feasible; I was never going to attain that level of enlightenment. The second option was to find every single person on the planet who hated me and try to either convince them otherwise or stab them to death. I realized that was unethical and also impractical as it involved potentially millions of people. And so the third option, which was the one I landed on, was to not pay attention.

The inevitable photo of La Kid…
… at the Tidal Basin, with cherry blossoms.
The Problem with Nihilism.

“It is amazing how many of [Trumpists’] hopes and dreams did center on Hunter Biden’s addiction, Hunter Biden’s sex life, Hunter Biden’s laptop, and interesting for a political party that has based so much on ‘nothing matters’ to discover to their disappointment that nothing matters,” said Charlie Sykes, author of How the Right Lost Its Mind.

“Haven’t they sort of established a small universe where nothing matters? You can pay off a porn star and it doesn’t make a difference. Did they really think that somehow Hunter Biden was going to make a difference?”

As a defender of burqa bans, UD definitely squirmed when she read that the French Senate just passed a law (it won’t be enacted; it won’t move past the Senate) prohibiting girls under eighteen from wearing hijabs.

Burqa bans, like marijuana, can be gateway drugs; they can lead to more dangerous bans. And while UD agrees that little girls are obviously unable to give consent to the hijab, the more important principle here is one of restraint and religious liberty. For UD, the burqa/hijab difference has to do with a fundamentally uncivil refusal to be visible in the public realm, vs. a visible face, a willingness to be identified as part of a free and equal society. Female-identity-crushing burqas are eccentric to any authentically egalitarian setting, whereas hijabs allow wearers to remain within the democratic orbit.

“The book will cover not just Pence’s time in the White House but his whole life, including traumatic family events like the time he saw Mother without her bonnet. He even opens up about the time in college he experimented with almond milk.”

Late night weighs in on the forthcoming Mike Pence memoir.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of talk about religion, his hopes and dreams, and then maybe a chapter about how his boss tried to murder him.”


I’m thinking he’s going to have a hard time competing with Hunter Biden.

‘John Boehner, the Republican former House speaker, issues a stinging denunciation in his new book of Donald J. Trump, saying that the former president “incited that bloody insurrection” by his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that the Republican Party has been taken over by “whack jobs.”’

True, and true.

“Adams played as a defensive back for multiple teams… He also suffered multiple injuries in the NFL, including concussions…”

Was his doctor (who he shot to death along with most of the doctor’s family) treating him for mental disorders related to the concussions? Was he obviously mentally ill? If so, how did he get the gun? Do they sell guns to mentally ill people in South Carolina?


There are (according to one source) 21 guns for every individual in South Carolina. Adams had his pick.

His proud alma mater, South Carolina State, hasn’t yet taken down his hero page.


‘I can say he’s a good kid,’ [Adams’ father said]. ‘I think the football messed him up.’ Football and an entire state sagging under the weight of its weaponry. Football and weaponry and mental illness and I’ll bet Adams was transmitting for some time to a number of people that he was messed up. Nothing like 21 guns per person for the deeply paranoid. Even if people tried keeping him away from guns, in South Carolina that would have been impossible.

I wonder if he issued threats. All of this will come out, and we’ll all read about it, because in a country where heavily armed uninteresting madmen kill dozens of people every week, this killing titillates: a rich prominent doctor; a high body count including children; an NFL football player. South Carolina: Ground zero for Strange brew, see what’s inside of you: Guns, god, football.

And what drugs – prescription, non-prescription – was the shooter on? All of this will come out.


And as to the shock the local police chief is expressing – “This doesn’t happen here.” – weawy? Depends on what you mean by “here,” don’t it? Here as in the teeny tiny town where it happened, or here as in all over South Carolina, one of the ten most dangerous states in the country.


His sister confirms that he had been for some time “aggressively” unbalanced. Yet another instance of the truth Nathan Heller not long ago uttered: Going berserk with guns has become a way of American life.

Beatrice Gets Schooled.

She left the benighted ultra-orthodox community … divorced her benighted ultra-orthodox husband… but her weird divorce agreement left the husband in charge of their son’s education!

The shonda-for-the-Jews ultraorthodox yeshiva system, wherein they gather millions of American tax dollars to refuse their students classes in math, English, and science, now gets to take Beatrice’s kid, chew him up, and spit him out as one more witless weenie.

Beatrice sees that now. She’s upset. New York State, which has an education mandate the ultra-orthodox ignore, doesn’t give a shit. She has nowhere to turn.

Her options? She can go back to divorce court and try her luck. More realistically, she needs to home school the unfortunate. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Paul Theroux on the Truth of Art.

This post continues the theme in this one, where a propagandist is quoted glorying in the fact that (as she tells it) many young women today don’t read our greatest modern fiction writers because they’re sexist pigs. UD doesn’t think we should pause too long in that woman’s world; on the other hand, it’s good to remind ourselves about art vs. propaganda — a distinction you’d think would be insanely easy to grasp, but maybe not.

Here’s Paul Theroux, reviewing his life as he turns eighty.

In my youth, Henry Miller’s novels “Tropic of Cancer” and “Tropic of Capricorn” were banned; so were D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” William S. Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch,” and Edmund Wilson’s “Memoirs of Hecate County.” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was a problem at the time of its publication, in 1885, and, by the way, it is still a problem. Because some books were viewed as vicious or vulgar, writers were suspect, potential corrupters, and consequently they were, to my mind, figures of transformative power… I was at a lunch, as an invited guest, a few years ago in a university setting when I mentioned that “Heart of Darkness” was a favorite book of mine. A young Nigerian student across the table, an aspiring writer, howled, “I hate this book!” The teachers equivocated in discomfort, but one of them spoke up on behalf of the student, agreeing that it was a flawed book and that Conrad’s ethics were questionable. Another teacher there told me that she was teaching “Moby-Dick” as a travel book. I found myself staring wildly at my plate of quiche…

You either care about transformative subversion in the name of human truths… you either care about beautiful, packed-with-life prose … or you don’t. Don’t rely on your literature professor to get you there; as Theroux notes, you might get a propagandist. And anyway, you’re supposed to have cottoned to the scandal of great fiction a good many years before you get to college.

Many of the palm trees, their fat roots undercut, have fallen into the sea, and the beach is now crowded, and stonier, in places bleak and gravelly—the visible effects of time passing and a reminder that I am doomed, too.

Theroux gazes at the Hawaiian beach where he’s writing and… and for goodness sake — don’t just read the words! He’s a stylist, okay, like all great writers! Propagandists don’t give a shit about style, but as a thoughtful human being who cares about art, you should. You should notice the poetry of this sentence, the many hard alliterative Ts (trees, fat, roots, undercut, stonier, time) balanced by the calm ah softness of palm and fallen — and how poets love words like palm and fallen because their brevity and their long ah-A is so lyrical placid and wise… UD thinks the most beautiful English word is: All. Listen to her beloved Purcell do a riff on all. Art is everything; don’t piss your life away failing to take on board as much of reality as you possibly can.

UD’s dog lies around watching people eat Easter lunch.
Oh, those Muthana sisters!

First Hoda goes all ISIS, and now her sister Arwa is arrested trying to do the exact same thing!

After [Arwa] Muthana was arrested, she waived her Miranda rights and stated during an interview that she was willing to fight and kill Americans if it was for Allah. 

What is it with the Muthana family? At this point I think we need to have a chat with the parents, no? As Lady Bracknell said: “To lose one daughter to ISIS, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like you brought them up that way.”

“There was a Vivian Gornick interview in Bookforum recently in which she was asked about some of the mid-century American writers that were considered great. She said she doesn’t ‘know one young person who reads Roth, or Bellow, or Mailer — not one young woman anyway.'”

And Philip Roth’s biographer responds to his interviewer’s quotation from Gornick in exactly the right way:

I think that says more about Vivian Gornick’s social circle than it does about women collectively.

I mean. Jesus. Let’s keep ’em away from Henry Miller, James Joyce, Hemingway, and Don DeLillo too. Wouldn’t want to expose them to great fiction!

And let’s hope Hadley Freeman’s social circle is a lot larger than Gornick’s.

[E]njoying a novel is not dependent on approving of the deliberately flawed characters, or its similarly imperfect author. There are many things that make a book good – elegant writing, emotional truth, narrative voice – besides its morality.

And of course there are plenty of great novels – Lolita, Notes from Underground, Journey to the End of the Night – whose immorality intrigues us.

“The fusion of evangelical Christianity with the Republican party blasphemously climaxed in the Trump cult. I’ve written before about Christianism, precisely to distinguish it from Christianity. And it was hard not to notice classic wooden crosses raised aloft among the crowd that invaded the Capitol last January 6. They jostled next to Confederate flags and Trump merch… And if the contemporary GOP is, for many, the most visible symbol of organized Christianity in America, how can you blame them for despising it?”

Andrew Sullivan, writing about the persistence of his Catholic faith.

And – citing dire statistics for American churchgoing – Amanda Marcotte writes:

The early Aughts saw the rise of megachurches with flashily dressed ministers who appeared more interested in money and sermonizing about people’s sex lives than modeling values of charity and humility…

Trump was a thrice-married chronic adulterer who routinely exposed how ignorant he was of religion, and who reportedly — and let’s face it, obviously — made fun of religious leaders behind their backs. But religious right leaders didn’t care. They continually pumped Trump up like he was the second coming, showily praying over him and extorting their followers to have faith in a man who literally could not have better conformed to the prophecies of the Antichrist. It was comically over the top, how extensively Christian right leaders exposed themselves as motivated by power, not faith. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Gallup’s numbers show numbers of religiously affiliated Americans taking a nosedive during the Trump years, dropping from 55% of Americans belonging to a church to 47%…

And many [potential churchgoers] are going to look at hypocritical, power-hungry ministers praying over an obvious grifter like Trump and be too turned off to even consider getting involved.


Plus Trumpique que le Trump Matt Gaetz is also doing his bit to keep the hypocrisy banner flying.

“Is this Iran?”

Answer: Definitely getting there.

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.
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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

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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

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