‘According to [University of Colorado] officials, [conspiracy theorist John] Eastman’s two spring courses had already been cancelled due to low enrollments (two students were enrolled in one course, and six in the other). He will continue to be paid the balance of his $185,000 salary through the end of his appointment on May 7…’

Nice work if you can get it.

***************

Eastman is, somehow, both a lawyer and a senior fellow at a research institute. He’s also a disgrace to the profession. His memo [arguing that Pence should simply declare Trump re-elected] is at once rife with falsehoods, childlike in its reasoning and deadly dangerous in its proposed application. Eastman needs to face consequences. State licensing authorities should review his fitness to practice law. Congress needs to demand answers, issuing a subpoena to compel Eastman to testify if necessary. And the Justice Department must, at a minimum, open a criminal investigation to determine whether Eastman’s proposed actions constituted conspiracy to violate federal election laws. If nobody takes action, then Eastman will fade into memory as just another unhinged conspiracy theorist who proposed dangerous abuses of power to serve Trump’s whims, and then walked away unscathed.

‘The grand jury concluded that [Moshe] Porat, who was paid nearly $600,000 for the 2017-2018 school year, should forfeit all personal gains from the alleged fraud. Even after he left his role as dean, he has continued to be a tenured professor, earning more than $300,000 a year from Temple although he hasn’t taught classes or published research since 2018, according to the court filing.’

Nice work if you can get it.

‘Mr. Ennels, a professor at the college for 15 years who served on the faculty senate’s Ethics and Institutional Integrity Committee, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court to 11 misdemeanor charges, including bribery and misconduct in office, according to prosecutors and online court records.’

Longtime readers know I never bother with these unless there are wonderful little details, like they served on the faculty senate’s Ethics and Institutional Integrity Committee… And like…

Benjamin J. Herbst, a lawyer for Mr. Ennels, said in an interview on Thursday night that Mr. Ennels did what he did “only to keep up with a gambling addiction” and was “in no way motivated” by greed. He did not live a lavish lifestyle or squirrel the money away for later, Mr. Herbst said.

“He’s a good person, he loved his job, he loved his students,” he said of Mr. Ennels. “He’ll move past this.”

The mysterious death of a University of Virginia professor…

… in a steep, dangerous part of Shenandoah National Park, suggests a few possible scenarios. UD will list them, starting with the most likely. Keep in mind that Julia Devlin’s car was found along Skyline Drive, wrecked.

1.) This is a suicide, the endpoint of a psychotic break.

Distraught, she drove erratically into the park, crashed, exited the car, and began walking erratically. She looked for a steep cliff from which she could hurl herself.

2.) Drink and/or drugs were involved. Disoriented, she entered the park, crashed her car, and stumbled about until her fatal fall.

3.) Foul play seems unlikely. A terrible fight with a lover? They drive into the park, screaming at one another. In a rage, she wrecks the car, which enrages her lover, who chases her as she runs into the park, and pushes her down a cliff.

*************

Mr UD offered something more straightforward: She drove into the park intending nothing more than a scenic drive. When she wrecked her car, she suffered, let’s say, a concussion, which disoriented her. She stumbled into danger.

UD adds yet another scenario, highly unlikely. She hit a bear. A now-angry bear. Terrified, she attempted to flee, but the bear pursued her, and she fell trying to get away from it.

Profgeist

Ghost professors haunt community colleges, but they’re probably flitting around at four-year places with online courses too.

When you add covid to the myriad excuses online instructors already have to sorta drop out of the whole show up and teach thing, you get an Army of Ghosts phenom — which is to say, not the routine only-half-there, give-a-shittery some distance profs exhibit, but actual, significant, increasingly noted and discussed, disappearance. Not the lazy deceitful hand most of the work off to subcontracted anonymous drudges thing, but simple total cutting and running.

“They’re not teaching, you don’t see them, they don’t do Zoom, they don’t have office hours,” said Santa Monica College political science student Jonnae Serrano. “I’ve had office hours where it’s completely text — I’m texting my professor, and waiting for her to get back to me.” … [Students] complain of professors who’ve given them a list of YouTube videos, produced by someone else, and questions as the teaching for the entire semester. [One student] said a “ghost professor” in her history class kept his camera off the three times she attended his online office hours.“I just stopped doing it because it was just talking to a screen.” … [Another student offered the revolutionary thought that] “If you’re requiring your students to do work and be present in your class, you should be present as well.” …

“In the defense of some of these so-called ghost professors, many people, you know, don’t have the formal online training,” [one professor] said.

Yes, and the response to not having medical training is to make appointments to treat people, and to go ahead and collect payment, but not to show up. Because, you know, you don’t have the formal training.

We have followed Adrian Vermeule on this blog for some time.

Vermeule (scroll down) is a standard-issue Trumpian who continues gassing on about election fraud. He is a theocrat – I mean, a real one, as in he wants the United States ruled by Jesus, and, if Jesus doesn’t want the job, by His designated ayatollahs. We can anticipate that these would include the much-laureled Josh Hawley, plus, well, Adrian Vermeule.

Vermeule’s one peculiar distinction is that he’s a Harvard law professor; and it turns out that more than a few of his students are now officially really really creeped out to be in the same room with the dude in various required classes. UD is all for these students complaining about him; indeed, intellectual self-respect rather demands that his students make a public statement of some sort about the odd fact of their being taught, at the nation’s greatest university, by an off-the-charts anti-democratic fanatic.

No punishment allowed, of course; Vermeulen finds himself a tenured Harvard professor and fine. But squawking about the obscenity of having to endure the presence of a freak who wants to destroy your country – excellent.

The Unkindest Cut of All

UD‘s old acquaintance, (see this post) Joseph Epstein, Man of the Hour, has endured insults from all over the world in the aftermath of his … ill-considered column about Jill Biden. But knowing Epstein (whose real name is Myron, as I recall), UD figures this well-meaning piece by a couple of Northwestern University law professors has got to be the worst of the worst. The authors argue that while Epstein’s column stank six ways from Sunday, NU acted badly in response by scrubbing him from its website. It’s a free speech issue, after all.

They’re probably right. But in characterizing Epstein’s status at NU, they (inadvertently?) say things guaranteed to wound him.

Epstein, in UD‘s day as an NU undergrad, taught writing and literature at the university (I never took any of his courses) even though his highest degree was only a BA. I guess the idea was that Epstein was a well-known, well-connected author (books of popular interest, essays, fiction) who lived in Chicago (grew up there), had things to say about art, wanted to teach, and could benefit NU students both intellectually and practically. He was, if you like, our Saul Bellow (U Chicago got the real Bellow) – both men were writers and intellectuals who only had BAs (Bellow did a little grad work at the U of Wisconsin), but both were worth having on your faculty (Ravelstein describes classes Allan Bloom and Bellow taught together at the U of C) because they were noted figures. Somewhat noted, and mainly in conservative circles, in the case of Epstein. (FWIW: A mutual friend of Bellow and Epstein, Edward Shills, also had only a BA. By the time Bellow wrote Ravelstein, he and Shills were enemies, and Shills got one of Bellow’s patented fatal character sketches in that novel.)

Although in strict hierarchical terms Epstein was rather a nobody at NU, he thought of himself, from my observation of him, as superior to what he regarded as cookie cutter politically correct tenured English PhDs. They were timid, dry as dust scholars; he was a red-blooded freelancer who launched himself into the real world and came back and wrote about it and got reviewed in the New York Times, etc. etc. They produced the constipated prose of pretentious ideologues; he wrote clear, strong, true, and real words.

He couldn’t stand the department; he looked down on it. (The department, from what I recall, couldn’t stand him back.) All through those years, as he edited The American Scholar and sat on NEH review committees (Republican administrations were heady days for Epstein), he thought of himself, I’m pretty sure, as simply dropping in on NU a few days a week, when he wasn’t hobnobbing in Washington, to share his thoughts about literature with a small, carefully selected group of English majors. (The money can’t have been much, but for a freelancer I suppose it was a welcome little stipend.)

Despite his lofty sense of himself, however, in the clear light of university hierarchy he was merely an adjunct lecturer, subject to review and renewal every year. Far from bothering Epstein, I’m guessing he read this status as his preference, a way of avoiding faculty meetings and administrative chores, and a way of maintaining personal freedom.

But there’s no controlling the way other people describe his situation at NU. Here are the two law professors:

Epstein never held a professorial rank at Northwestern, but academic freedom equally protects lecturers, adjuncts, and other faculty members. A sad fact about modern higher education is the very large population of professional scholars without tenure, many of whom, like Epstein, teach for decades with lower pay and less job security. In a different economic environment, many of them would be tenure-track professors. Their precarious status is a reason for insisting even more strongly on that protection.

Of course they are quite right about the economic insecurity of adjuncts; but Epstein never thought of himself as a professional scholar seeking tenure, etc. The idea in fact repelled him. His ego rested on an entirely other self-perception, one that entailed a transcendence of the whole pathetic academic game. How horrible, in his latter days, to be made a poster boy for adjuncts!

Heard on the Street: GIULIANI TEAM TO REPLACE SIDNEY POWELL WITH JAMES TRACY

University Diaries understands that Trump’s legal dream team will be announcing the addition of Professor James Tracy, of Newtown massacre conspiracy fame, to their election-overturning effort. While not an attorney, Tracy is a noted communications expert, and will, a source tells UD, be the president’s chief spokesperson on the national vote, clarifying to the public the complex means by which it was stolen.

A veteran of dozens of conspiracy theories – not only the Sandy Hook mass murders, but “the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012; the Washington Navy Yard shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013; and the massacre at a holiday meeting in December in San Bernardino, Calif.,” were all staged by anti-gun zealots in the Obama government – Tracy has the guts to go after the truth wherever it lies:

Lenny and Veronique Pozner, the parents of Noah Pozner, who was 6 when he was killed at Newtown, wrote [in] an opinion piece … that Mr. Tracy had demanded that they prove that Noah ever existed, that they were his parents and that they owned the rights to photographs of him. The professor, they said, “personally sought to cause our family pain and anguish.”

“Podcaster Katie Herzog tweeted: ‘My first act as an anti-racist will be sending my black son back to the orphanage.’”

LOL. As always, the best way to respond to stupid racists – in this case, an anti-white racist who attacks white people for adopting black babies – is to ridicule them.

That Professor Kendi heads an institute of anti-racist research is une ironie extrêmement riche.

**********************

And what a gift this guy has given the Genius of the Carpathians.

“I am a History honors student, and this class has helped push me to drop my History major.”

Another gem from Jessica Krug’s RMP page. Worth reading the whole thing, and then asking yourself how a history department at a respectable university not only kept this woman in the classroom, but tenured her.

Ballad of Jessica Krug; Or: What Did I Do to Be So Black and Jew

Sing it.

If I were a charlatan
A racial pretender
Would you hire me anyway
Would you give me tenure



If a faker were my trade
Would you still praise me
Publish all the bs I make
Standing right behind me



Save my ass through endless lies
Save my ass through wokeness
Forget my past as a Jewish lass
Be diggin my Black Folkness



If I were a sociopath
For the world to see!
Would you fall for it anyway
Would you be my colleague

“Her complexion has no brilliancy,” says nasty Caroline Bingley…

… of her rival Elizabeth Bennet; and this oldish word – brilliancy – came to UD‘s mind as she contemplated her undergraduate professor, Erich Heller. Not prone to thinking about the past (or the future – your blogueuse is somewhat in the buddhist way), UD was borne back into the past (truncated Great Gatsby reference there … hey it was your decision to read a literary blogger), via this memoir, written by Heller’s niece, and very much an evocation of the scholar of Rilke and Kafka who had a great impact on wee UD at Northwestern University in the 1970’s.

Heller’s brilliancy – by which I mean in part charisma – is obvious enough in this portrait of the young man as an impassioned Czech Jewish aesthete.

When I knew him, he looked like this.

Still the fully open, searching, lively eyes. He was always a beautiful polished dresser, which contrasted vividly with the thready hippies to whom he lectured so fiercely about the loss of meaning in the modern world. His own world had flamboyantly fallen apart with the Nazis, from whom he barely managed to escape, while his beloved brother spent years in concentration camps. (He also managed to survive.)

It was utterly, almost comically, clear to UD, as this man lectured, that he saw no way in which he could possibly begin to convey his and the world’s historical, spiritual, and existential wound to these frisky frisbee throwers.

Sixtyish, gay, hyper-snobby, dismissive of all NU students, all Americans (after cosmopolitan Prague, he spent years at Cambridge University, and now found himself prone on the prairie), and certainly all women (does the memoir ever make that one clear), Heller nonetheless hugely, hotly, attracted deine kleine Bloggerin.

How hotly? I had recurrent waking and sleeping fantasies about stumbling upon a solitary suffering Heller on the school’s lakeside beach and comforting him. Just – you know – happening to be the only person in the world who fully intuited his intellectual and emotional grief, his vell-done Weltschmerz (I’m antic about it now, but I assure you it was all passionately earnest then)…

Or imagine this – I was taking his all-Rilke-all-the-time course, and it was I don’t know the fifth Heller course I’d taken (Kafka, Thomas Mann, Nietzsche, Kleist?) and I was all fired-up as usual to re-enter this man’s hallowed hall … And yet from the first day of that particular course, I would sit, take out my paperback, and, at the opening “semi-operatic” tones of Heller’s voice (the memoir writer calls them this; I’d simply say operatic – he had a fine booming basso), fall completely to sleep. Ach, Doktor Freud, do tell. Vot vos dis Heller shpell?

*******************

I wrote excellent exams and papers, appeared every day in all his courses, sat there at full attention (I figured out how to stay awake in the Rilke course; I cured myself, Doktor!) – eventually the poor man had to notice me a little bit. I didn’t care whether he did, but eventually he did. I remember two post-class chats: In one I must have mentioned Nabokov and was startled by the casual violence of Heller’s dismissal of him (something about his obscenity?). The other is much more vivid to me because it was much more consequential. I told him that I was miserable in the Medill School of Journalism (I’d enrolled there rather than become an English major because I’d convinced myself I’d never get a job with a degree in English), absolutely miserable. And he looked at me with those avid open eyes and just as casually said: “If you are not happy there, vhy don’t you leave?”

And I swear to you, mes petites, minutes after this exchange I marched to the journalism building and began the process of dropping out of Medill.

More on Heller later today. Must weed. As UD likes to say: Weeding is fundamental.

Post-Foible Tristesse: Letter-Writing Academics and the Morning After.

Remember the “terrible” (as Masha Gessen called it) Avital Ronell letter? (UD‘s posts about it are here.) Remember the regret its authors eventually expressed after it turned out they got the facts (about whether Ronell sexually harassed a graduate student) wrong, and in a very unseemly way threw their institutional weight around, and thus further abused an innocent grad student?

So… the fools who wrote the anti-Steven Pinker letter everyone’s currently laughing at maybe could have consulted that bit of history before marking up their own missive, with its overripe racism claims and its rich mix of real and forged signatures. Ask the authors of the Ronell letter whether it pays to be a bit … epistoleery

In 2018, it ranked as America’s most dangerous city.

Monroe, Louisiana ain’t what you’d call a premier destination, and students who attend the University of Louisiana Monroe ain’t got much to be proud of.

And, now that we’re all paying attention, the school boasts a couple of quite proudly out-there racists. Nursing professor Mary Holmes (who studies “why men sperm count has decreased 40% over the last couple of decades”) calls our last president a “monkey.”

Snapshots from a Long Life, Well-Lived.

Bernstein met second wife Susan Goldhor through mutual friends. “I thought he was kind of cute and had a really nice smile,” she recalled. Susan, a biologist with an interest in mycology, recalled Bernstein joking that “I did mushrooms, and he did mushroom clouds.” On their first date, they hiked the White Mountains. Then they planned a longer hike. “I didn’t have the right socks, and I got blisters. These were big hikes every day. I was really having a hard time, I was in pain, I was exhausted, and so I complained to Aron about this. Aron hated whiners, so he wrote me a letter afterward that it wasn’t going to work out, that he wasn’t going to deal with whiners. He was a very, very straightforward person — he didn’t play games.”

She convinced him that she wasn’t actually a whiner, and he took her to a Mozart concert at Jordan Hall. Bernstein loved music, “nothing later than Schubert, and preferably a lot earlier— I couldn’t get him to go to a Mahler concert.” They married in 1990. Hiking was a shared passion, and they bought a vacation home in the White Mountains. “We hiked in summer, fall, and winter — I remember hiking in a blizzard. Until Aron was 86, we were still hiking and snowshoeing together. The hikes got shorter but the pleasure was still there.”

From an MIT News obit for Aron Bernstein, professor of physics.

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