Oh for GAWD sake FINE ALRIGHT I mean GEEZ everyone cheats on these things and if it weren’t for that asshole math professor and by the way who hired that dude…

Manifold are the ways universities fuck with statistics so they can get higher US News rankings, and it’s just Columbia’s bad luck that it hired its own petard… I mean, someone at the school actually hired the math prof who figured out Columbia had to be cheating AND PUBLICIZED THE FACT ON HIS FACULTY WEBSITE. Now, months later, the school admits yeah we did that thing and we promise to stop.

S.H. – International Man of Mystery

UD‘s heart skips a beat when she realizes that this hugely intriguing figure was for years just across campus from her GWU office! A bona fide lecturer/researcher in the university’s medical school despite allegedly having lied about a number of his degrees, this man held on to his GW position while telling his boss Trump – or those close to him – that Fauci had to be fired, and that hydroxychloroquine was the solution to coronavirus. (Also involved in Trump administration hydroxychloroquine pushing: The Pride of New Jersey, Mehmet Oz.) He seems at the moment rather close to being in contempt of Congress, though I’m trying to update this information. He appears to be a “big lie” co-conspirator. He also seems to have used his personal GW email account for official WH communications.

Dr. Hatfill exchanged more than 1,000 messages using his George Washington University email account with senior officials in the Trump White House, federal agencies, private companies related to procurement and supply chain issues, and others about the federal government’s pandemic response.  In one email to an unidentified White House employee, Dr. Hatfill misleadingly stated:  “States favorable to Trump have a lower COVID Case Fatality Rate than the Fucktard states that do not.” 

SH doesn’t seem to be at GW anymore; but the question I’ve got is why such a person was ever there in the first place. Surely GW is as we speak asking itself that question.

Nerd Humor

And then there was [Colin Blakemore’s] rapier-sharp wit. We recall when a visiting professor, one of the many world-class neuroscientists to visit his laboratory, was having a birthday. At the time, one project in Colin’s laboratory involved studying how a subpopulation of callosal projecting layer 5 neocortical pyramidal neurons retract their dendritic tufts that reached to the pial surface during the first week of postnatal development in the mouse. Colin’s memorable message on the birthday card was “May your tuft never retract”!

It took eight years for us to finally get a mug shot of Charlie Adelson…

and now, only a few months later, we get a guilty verdict and a life sentence for his girlfriend, who Adelson apparently paid to put together the conspiracy to murder Florida State University law professor Dan Markel.

Markel had to die because he sought shared custody of his children by Adelson’s sister, and this annoyed Adelson. He allegedly had two thug friends of his girlfriend blast his head off.

Ja, ja, wheels of justice… UD only hopes they nail Adelson (and his mother?) before Markel’s elderly parents die.

Wants to spend more time with his about to be subpoenaed family.

Clarence Thomas is too busy with this and that to teach at UD‘s GW anymore. The instructor of the formerly co-taught course writes:

“For those of you still interested in taking the course, I assure you that we will make the best of the new situation.

Indeed he will. Apparently John Eastman will step in for Thomas, giving GW law students exclusive access to the constitutional foundations and legal rationales for the position that the vice-president of the United States alone determines who the country’s president will be. Eat your heart out, Harvard!

Waxing Myalgic

Amy Wax is one big pain in the ass. A bombastic white supremacist, she likes to spoon with Tucker Carlson and pant about the beautiful paleskin future.

She is also a walking advertisement for the perils of tenure, because U Penn can’t think of any way to get rid of this every day/every way embarrassment. She’s eminent, see, with spectacular credentials (Yale College! Harvard med! Columbia Law!) and impressive research. As with her Harvard doppelganger, Adrian Vermeule, you can’t just toss berserk brahmins out on their behinds; but you do need to find some way to sorta neutralize them until they die or leave (Wax is almost seventy, and getting nuttier by the minute; Vermeule, at 54, has many years of Harvard-havoc-wreaking ahead of him). What to do? Free speech being what it is, what to do?

Well, Penn has lately pulled together a faculty committee to review her years of vile banter, with an eye toward rigging up some sort of official justification for booting her. She’s so out of touch with their institutional ethos that she is actually a force of destruction, especially in regard to students. Something like that.

I say don’t go there. I say stuff like that imperils free speech for everyone. I say do two other things:

  1. Get really serious about students boycotting her classes. Publicize her horribility among entering students as openly as you can, short of encouraging a boycott. That the university cannot do. But organizations of law students certainly can talk boycotts, and should.
  2. Denounce her aggressively, and often. She is indeed a grotesque blot upon the school, and the school should not hide from this, but on the contrary should dramatize it every chance it gets. On its website, for instance, under faculty news:

ANOTHER BLACK EYE FOR U PENN LAW

Professor Amy Wax once again brought shame on the school when she sat down recently with Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and spewed disgraceful racist rhetoric.

Etc. Don’t look Ivy Leaguily away. Get down and dirty.

Jonathan Chait on the Ilya Shapiro Dustup at Georgetown University

I don’t agree with the idea conservative lawyer Ilya Shapiro expressed in January, when he objected to President Biden’s promise to appoint a Black woman to the first Supreme Court opening. (I wrote a column attacking his position.) But rather than simply refute his easily refutable arguments, Shapiro’s critics demanded he be fired by Georgetown, which had just hired him to teach at its law center…

Georgetown’s official policy pledges to safeguard the “free and open inquiry, deliberation and debate in all matters, and the untrammeled verbal and nonverbal expression of ideas.” Protesters depicted Shapiro’s [Supreme Court] tweets as causing damage so severe they could not tolerate his continued employment.

Georgetown’s solution was to evade the contradiction. It concluded its investigation by determining Shapiro could not be punished because he had not yet begun his job at Georgetown… [In effect, Georgetown’s policy allows] anybody to claim that ideas they find offensive have harmed or threatened them, and obligates the University to punish whoever has uttered them.

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Both Chait and Shapiro (who has resigned from the law school in protest) mention wild and crrrraaaazy and in absolutely good standing G’town law professor Carol Christine Fair, the Johnny Depp of tweeters (Kavanaugh hearings: “Look at this chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.”), as a rather, uh, decisive argument on their side, which reminded UD that she blogged about this self-same hothead not long ago on this here blog.

[Personnel at the Frankfurt Airport] told [Fair] her deodorant was basically a liquid and she couldn’t carry it on the plane. She freaked and called them nazis, which as you may know in Germany is not at all, legally speaking, a good idea. After she was hit up with a fine, she wrote an essay blaming it on sexism (German police do this to so many women at airports!), or on a young man with a nazi haircut nearby who upset her, or some such bullshit.

So a lefty Georgetown law professor can shit her untrammeled guts out all over the place (we won’t even mention her other high-profile YOU’RE A NAZI freakout against Richard Spencer, who is indeed a fascist, but the owners and patrons of the gym where Fair did her freakout were… upset… ) (Oh, and then there’s this.) and waltz right through institutional life, while a far more trammeled … righty … well …

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Interesting post-script: Professor Fair, who knows on which side her bread is buttered, strongly supports Shapiro:

Professor Fair said she was one of only a few Georgetown faculty members who signed a petition supporting Mr. Shapiro after the ruckus about his posts. And she said that without knowing him, she did not think his tweet was racist, given that “he actually put forward a person of color.”

But student complaints are “the death knell,” she said.

“I am a fundamentally principled person,” she said. “I have no patience for cancel culture. None. And I don’t care who’s arguing for the cancellation.”

G’town’s Shapiro fiasco is the beginning of a process that will eventually also gobble up Carol Christine Fair, and she knows it.

‘“The work of the investment office over the years has been a huge compliment to the school’s efforts to run a modest budget surplus and to the generous support from alumni and friends,” former Dean of the Yale School of Management Ted Snyder wrote to the [Yale Daily] News.’ 

The school will be directing one billion dollars in the coming years to faculty spelling lessons.

SHADDAP YOUR MOUTH!

We practice progressive stacking when calling upon people to participate in class discussion. .. [If] you are white, male, or someone privileged by the racial and gender structures of our society… we will often ask you to hold off…

UD has tried to find out more about the Binghamton University professor who put this on her syllabus, but for some reason she has been 404’d by the school, and as for her home page, fuggedaboutit.

There’s this – hasn’t been taken down yet, but now that I’ve linked to it, it might be.

The school has made her take the language off the syllabus, but it’s probably too late for Binghamton to do anything about the (legal?) complaints it’s going to be fielding. As for embarrassment about the bigot on the faculty, well, you hired her.

There are red flags, and then there’s utterly damning testimony.

[One former Duke philosophy student described meetings with faculty about Matthew Harris] “as mostly unproductive.”

Faculty, for example, suggested that they hold more professional development sessions for graduate students. 

“We were a little bit upset about this because this wasn’t a matter of professionalism,” the current student said. “This was a unique graduate student who was troubled and required over and above the typical graduate student’s needs.” 

A madman in the department is behaving in a demented way and threatening the lives of various people.

Okay! Let’s hold another session on how you should dress for the MLA convention.

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

And then there’s the curiously confused thesis director/recommendation letter writer. In two news outlets now, he has described Harris as a total weenie, a terribly shy harmless sort; yet he also acknowledges that Harris wrote things like “[this thesis is] dedicated to the immediate death of all those who oppose or slow the rise of the black man” in a draft of the dissertation that ended up online.

“I don’t really know how to describe it other than just incoherent, ranting and raving,” says the thesis director.

No kidding.

When you read this, you – what? – put a red line through it and wrote Maybe needs revision …?

And now all the red flags come out.

UD’s been posting for a few days on the appalling Matthew Harris story, in which a notorious and dangerous madman has been handed on from one excellent university to another, first as a grad student and then as a lecturer.

For years, several people at these schools have known or suspected that Harris is a serious threat to society, but nonetheless he has been able to leap from one academic pinnacle to another, stopped only by behavior so terrifying that he’s now in jail.

How can we account for this series of events?

Let me first quote a bit from the latest story about him.

[C]urrent and former students at all three universities alleged negligence by the schools for letting Harris slide previously, despite his concerning conduct… [H]is behavior was well known within the small [Duke] philosophy program [but two students who were in the department at the time said they] did not feel they would have been supported by faculty if they’d come forward.

Whoa. Why the hell did they feel that way? I mean, if his threatening behavior was well known, why would faculty have failed to support people who formally reported it? What a condemnation of the Duke department.

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

Did the students worry they would be accused of racism if they complained about Harris?

And what of the four professors who approved Harris’s dissertation, and the professors who wrote letters of recommendation glowing enough to get Harris a job at UCLA?

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

A little more speculation here, if I may. I’m going to guess that no one read the thesis with much care, or indeed interacted much with Harris.

And a tad more speculation, please. I’m going to guess that influential people at Cornell and Duke championed Harris in a way that may well have made complaining about him seem not worth the hassle.

There’s much, much more to this story, and it will almost certainly come out. We will see if UD‘s guesses have any merit to them. Meanwhile, expect lawsuits. Expect faculty resignations. Expect professors having to testify at Harris’s trial. This one’s a real mess.

“What was really, really scary to me, personally were the threats to our class, saying that it was our fault that [Matthew Harris] got fired from the university in that retaliation,” UCLA student Lina Campillo told ABC7 on Tuesday. “He even called out some of my former classmates by name in the manifesto.”

So much still to say about the curious case of UCLA philosophy lecturer/psychotic would-be mass killer Matthew Harris. For UD, the crucial question is – who hired him at UCLA? Simply put, how did a guy who apparently was a known problem — maybe even a danger — at his previous school – Duke – end up in front of a classroom at UCLA?

How long did UCLA keep him in the classroom?

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

Here’s the bit on his time at Duke.

Harris received his PhD from Duke University in 2019. It has been alleged that while there, he engaged in a some inappropriate actions with or in regard to students, and that some faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Duke were aware of issues with his behavior; it has been alleged that some Duke faculty recommended that he not be left alone with students.

So far the above can’t be confirmed; and since everyone with any connection to Matthew Harris is currently running scared (he might be released on bond or sent to a low-security mental health facility), I wouldn’t expect anyone to say anything for awhile. But let us assume this information about his behavior at Duke is true. Let us assume that his madness definitely began to manifest at Duke, that the peril of the man was something of an established fact at Duke. How can we account for UCLA hiring, and for some time keeping, him?

Here are a few thoughts.

1.) Just as GW’s Jessica Krug had institutionally powerful enablers, so perhaps Harris had influential cheerleaders at Duke and/or UCLA. Sometimes it only takes one pivotal/assertive/aggressive advocate to tamp down misgivings other colleagues might have.

2.) Harris’s aggressivity, sense of grievance, and general strangeness might have been filed under “wounds of race” – just as Jessica Krug’s similar emotional profile — when people were under the impression she was black — was perhaps interpreted/mainstreamed in this way.

3.) Harris had great credentials – Duke, a respected thesis director, fellowships, prizes. I’m assuming he had strong recommendations. Nothing on paper argued against him, and it looks as though no one at Duke – formally or informally – shared anything worrisome. Or did they? Again, a strong enough advocate might find a way to neutralize worrisome information. (Interestingly, Duke was both Krug’s publisher and Harris’s graduate institution.)

4.) Once in the classroom at UCLA, Harris benefited from the praiseworthy tendency of universities to give professors enormous freedom in what and how they teach. But as a novice at the trade, Harris should have encountered more oversight than he apparently received. To make matters worse, the dissolution of disciplinary boundaries in the humanities means the absence of anything like an agreed-upon canon of readings to assign in any particular class. “[A] final exam … included an essay question about the hate-filled manifesto of Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer whose 2013 shooting rampage killed four people and wounded three others. Students were asked to consider the ‘oppression, disrespect and loss of dignity’ suffered by the homicidal ex-cop.”

Exactly the sort of assigned reading you’d expect in an undergraduate philosophy course. Before Hegel and Arendt, Christopher Dorner.

‘She contacted philosophy department staff, university police and the FBI before Harris was placed on administrative leave.’

When students are contacting the FBI about one of their instructors, it’s a subtle hint that maybe something’s wrong with the instructor.

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

This is a drip-drip-drip story. We’re starting with information from his students; eventually we’ll work up to his dissertation committee and the administration at Duke University.

[The instructor was] speaking haltingly, changing his syllabus willy-nilly and spending the first four weeks of his “Philosophy of Race” class without once showing his face over Zoom.

Things got weirder as the term progressed, students said, leading up to a final exam that included an essay question about the hate-filled manifesto of Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer whose 2013 shooting rampage killed four people and wounded three others. Students were asked to consider the “oppression, disrespect and loss of dignity” suffered by the homicidal ex-cop.

‘[Matthew] Harris received his PhD from Duke University in 2019. It has been alleged that while there, he engaged in some inappropriate actions with or in regard to students, and that some faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Duke were aware of issues with his behavior; it has been alleged that some Duke faculty recommended that he not be left alone with students.’

So nu? How did Harris get to UCLA? Does his dissertation advisor, Andrew Janiak, have anything to contribute?

Were there other faculty in the Philosophy department who may have known, or suspected, that they were handing along a dangerous person to UCLA?

For him to land at that distinguished school, his letters of recommendation must have been excellent. All written by people with no negative knowledge of him?

Did this bit from his brief autobiography at the end of his dissertation not seem strange to anyone?

[H]e also gave lectures about his innovative philosophical research to crowds at Stanford University, Cornell University and Princeton University.

In the matter of ex-UCLA lecturer Matthew Harris, there are a few things to say.

1.) A dismissed faculty member has had a psychotic break and has issued death threats against faculty, students, the whole school really. How well has the campus responded in terms of security?

2.) When did the school become aware (through student complaints, his Rate My Professor page, his social media, etc.) that Harris is a violent, mentally ill person? Did it act quickly, or did it drag its feet?

3.) How well has the administration kept students and faculty informed about the ongoing threat, and what people should do about it?

4.) The acutely psychotic condition of Harris makes me suspect that his madness was visible long before he began ranting about mass murder. Did anyone warn the philosophy department about him before they hired him? Did the department have reservations about hiring him which they decided to overlook?

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

Oh. And don’t forget. 5.) “Every country contains mentally ill and potentially violent people. Only America arms them.” UCLA must certainly proceed on the assumption that Harris enjoys a massive violent arsenal to match his massive violent mental illness.

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

UPDATE: “[A] former instructor in a philosophy department is alleged to have sent members of the department threatening messages and was revealed to possibly have a history of problematic interactions with students, and possibly was observed in the past as problematic by superiors at institutions which (for reasons unknown) do not appear to have effectively responded to the situation or informed relevant others of it.”

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