March 24th, 2023
Whee! UPMC Update.

Whether it’s Philip Esformes or this dude, UD always eagerly welcomes back our country’s most inventive and prolific medical system… er… manipulators. Esformes, author of the biggest rip-off of the federal medical payment system in history, was pardoned by Trump, but he did SO MUCH shit wrong he has easily been brought to trial again on related charges. That’s one to watch.

Then we have the return of Pittsburgh’s most … uh… prolific surgeon, a guy who made buckets of money by performing like three surgeries SIMULTANEOUSLY babe and I ain’t kidding. He’d leave the geezers (he specialized in complex invasive surgery on the very very elderly — just what they need!) lying there on the table with a bunch of interns sort of standing around the anesthetized body waiting for hours for the guy to come back. Two patients lost limbs because of this sadistic protocol, but can you imagine how much money the guy made? While fragile ninety year olds lay there falling apart physically, robbed of any vestige of dignity while waiting for unnecessary and destructive surgery?

So UPMC and its star surgeon settled a WHOPPER of a federal lawsuit, after which I assume the dude went back to ravaging – in other lucrative ways – our oldest and most vulnerable in their final days.

But he and the school have refused to allow the government to keep an eye on them! The feds want to audit the dude’s billing; they want him to cooperate with a “corrective action plan.”

As part of the settlement, the government asked the defendants to sign paperwork — known as a corporate integrity agreement — that would place them under additional oversight. They refused.

Hell, I’d refuse too if I were making money amputed hand over fist!

So the feds are just designating him “high risk-heightened scrutiny,” and if I’m reading this right his patients are allowed to know this.

Just another day in the life of our well-meaning, absolutely pathetic, medical reimbursement system.

March 13th, 2023
“The G.W.U faculty ought to have had an inkling of Carrillo’s trickery. Ten or so years ago, David Munar sent a letter to administrators there saying that Carrillo was a fraud, but he received no answer.”

A New Yorker article about a literary/academic fraud named Hache Carrillo, who was a colleague of UD‘s (she sat on the tenure committee that wisely turned him down, unlike the unwise GW history department that tenured his fellow fraud Jessica Krug, and as a result spent years very publicly paddling up shit’s creek), has appeared.

You’re probably not interested in the patented New Yorker long-form details of this pretty trivial cultural figure, but the article does feature a neat and sweet summary of the many literary frauds (venture even slightly out of just this one fraud category, and you’ll end up with an article too long even for the long-form New Yorker) who’ve tried to put one over on us in the last decade or so.

Go ahead and think of all the successful, high-functioning frauds who must as we speak be running around our literary landscape befrauding everyone cuz they haven’t been (won’t be?) caught.


I guess administrators like the one in my title are worth thinking about. Before we condemn this anonymous person, let’s stipulate that a lot depends on the letter this person received. Was the letter writer a credible source? Oh yes. Is it likely that the letter was a naked example of envy, paranoia, nuttiness? Very, very unlikely. Does an administrator routinely get letters warning that a faculty member is a fraud? No. Does that mean you dismiss it as just a weird thing and throw it away? No.

Maybe you worry that anything you do could trigger litigation from Carrillo if he gets wind of it and so you toss it.

Okay, but let’s say you should do something. Fraud being as popular as it is, you should indeed do something. What do you do?

UD suggests that you pass it along to the dept chair/head of creative writing basically without comment. Maybe you scrawl a couple of question marks atop the letter by way of saying huh I dunno you deal with it. Hell, maybe that’s what was done, and the person we need to talk to about doing nothing is/was inside the English department.

But anyway we fired the dude, and he died a few years ago, so none of it amounts to much beyond another lesson universities should learn (most won’t) about the not inconsiderable number of people out there laying siege to their schools through fraud. Schools spend a lot of time worrying about larcenists and sexual predators, as well they should; but frauds do really really serious harm, and the fact that GW had two in succession – and tenured one! – is an institutional embarrassment.

February 28th, 2023
‘Although she has already handed in her resignation, her profile on AFSC’s website is still up.’


As always in identity hoaxes, the question is: what next? Most outed hoaxers have long since rejected their … inconvenient … families; and what with big news coverage, pretty much all employers see them coming.

And, wishing to avoid the embarrassment the American Friends Service Committee currently squirms beneath, employers are going to be discouraging, no matter how garish the poncho and massive the earrings.

Yet further, because most identity hoaxers are certifiable, there is no going back to any non-hoax rough-sketch of whatever they were before they assumed a new identity. Like their precursor, Alfred Jarry, they are at this point so jumbled up about whether they are, well, Ubu, or Roxanne Lebowski, or maybe Zdzisława Brzęczyszczykiewicz, that they are going to be flailing for at least awhile.

The one path open to them at this point is of course the memoir, in which – as in The Three Faces of Eve – they recount the lurid formative experiences that made them what they are today.

February 28th, 2023
‘Freshman Republican Rep. Andy Ogles (TN) says he’s a trained economist, but in reality, he only took one community college course on the subject—and he got a C… . It took Ogles 17 years to attain his degree, graduating in 2007 with a 2.4 GPA.’

But (see post below) at least he didn’t go to Yale!

February 21st, 2023
Bronzers futures look robust.

Race hoaxers typically need to use a lot of face bronzer – every day, when they wake up, they must apply browning agent anew to their stubbornly Euro complexions – and the latest hoaxer is no different from her tawny precursors.

Bronzer manufacturers are not the only beneficiary: tanning salons are also having a field day.

February 6th, 2023
‘There was the dad (water treatment entrepreneur Devin Sloane) who had his son pose as a fake water polo player in the backyard swimming pool in Bel-Air, procuring the necessary gear on Amazon. There was the Hollywood socialite (Jane Buckingham) who proctored her son’s ACT exam in her house. There was the glamorous, Harvard tennis star turned standardized test whiz (Mark Riddell) whom Singer recruited to take, or correct, kids’ tests for them. Then there was Singer himself, a tightly-wound workout junkie and former community college basketball coach, who detected decades before college consulting became a cottage industry, that there was money to be made in helping parents navigate the increasingly complex world of admissions.’

Are you afraid, as Varsity Blues concludes with its mastermind’s prison sentence (he got a few years), that we’ve seen the end of colorful, fun, characters like these?

DO. NOT. FEAR. When God closes a door, He opens a window.

First of all, Philip Esformes is headed for a retrial, and nothing Varsity Blues has to offer comes anywhere near Philip Esformes.

Plus if you’re not watching the State of South Carolina’s multipart adaptation of the greatest William Faulkner novel of all time – As Murdaughs Lay Dying – you are missing the glorious reincarnation of Flem Snopes and his clan. The trial is ongoing, available live on YouTube.

January 5th, 2023
‘One of the first red flags, Landsem said, was that LeClaire liked to tan — a lot. Landsem had even given LeClaire rides to tanning salons because LeClaire said they had a vitamin D deficiency. But then Landsem and others started noticing that LeClaire would also carry around a bottle of spray tan.’

As yet another faux minority person bites the dust, UD thinks nostalgically of Jessica Krug, a colleague of hers at GWU, who was similarly given to pickling herself in Brown Skin Girl.

December 20th, 2022
Spiritus Santos…

… or “Spirit of Santos” refers to sightings of the ghostly presence of newly elected congressperson George Santos, a man only able to be perceived by people of faith as he has made his … putative … way from Baruch College to Goldman Sachs to Citigroup and beyond. No school or workplace he lists on his resume has any record of him; nor do his ‘friends’ killed at Pulse Nightclub seem to have any connection to him; nor does the animal shelter he claims to have established quite exist.

The spirited Santos refuses to take up any of these lies; instead, like his treasured Trump, he lashes out at the evil left trying to kill him.

Stirringly, he concludes his self-defense with a famous quotation from Churchill that Churchill never said.

December 19th, 2022
If you’re gonna go…


September 17th, 2022
‘[U]niversities are well aware that they have Pretendians in their midst. A few years ago, universities could still claim ignorance and that they were acting in good faith. Now they can’t say that.’

We’ve covered quite a few university professors on this blog who faked Native identity to get jobs and other goodies. Canada’s highly publicized search for lots and lots and lots of Indigenous faculty attracted a ton of fakers, and some of them got hired, and some of them have been outed as bogus, and schools are now having to decide how to deal with the situation, which is farcical and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Here’s the latest. She just resigned.

And here’s more detail than you want.

Words o’ wisdom?

Just the obvious. Don’t set up a big fat incentive target if you don’t want people shooting at it. Be insanely skeptical. Do background checks, silly.

June 22nd, 2022
The American Press Starts Hunting NINOs.

Navy in Name Only. (I’m linking via Reddit, because the Kansas City Star is entirely paywalled.)

Big Daddy Mike forced the Navy to sorta take the RINO butcher back, but boy were they pissed to have to do it.

Background here.

April 26th, 2022
Two additional items from the Nazi-assassins cache uncovered by …

… the Russian police.

March 29th, 2022
It’s Rashomon; it’s a Megillah; it’s the mad mad plot of Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom…

It’s like Moses Herzog’s lawyer friend talking about one of his divorce cases:

First she said she didn’t want children, then she did, didn’t, did. Finally, she threw her diaphragm in his face.

The Mackenzie Fierceton story is a mess. From the word go, no one knows who did what. Did a teenager flee her physically abusive mother and spend years in a world of foster care pain? Did her mother’s boyfriend sexually abuse her? If these things happened, her escape from her family and eventual enrollment at an Ivy League school is inspiring, and she’s worth all the rewards (a Rhodes!) she got before various institutions decided she lied about her background, and demanded that she return said rewards.

A New Yorker writer seems to want to leap to her defense, but woe betide the scribe who ventures into this forest of thorns cuz, editorially speaking, she ain’t coming out alive.

The writer tries to make her accusatory headline do all the Boo, U Penn! work – HOW AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL TURNED AGAINST A STUDENT – but anyone willing to read all the way through her absurdly convoluted account of liars, fabulators, fantasists, and truth-stretchers is liable to end up in that Woody Alleny space where you’re scratching your head and wondering why everyone in the story seems utterly on the loose wig.

Like if you ask UD one plausible account of things features a hyper-self-dramatizing mother and daughter – two extremely strong, intense personalities having their own super-titanic, uber-Wagnerian version of ye olde crisis of adolescence. These would not be haha/poignant interactions, as in Lady Bird, but truly vile and indeed sometimes physical fights and vengeful aftermaths. (Her mother’s sister claims that Fierceton “deliberately tried to frame [her mother] and planted ‘evidence’ around the house, including her own blood.”) Eventually an angry Fierceton left home in such a way as to inflict maximum legal/reputational damage on her mother.

Even if this rendering is insufficiently sympathetic to Fierceton, it’s beyond question that she went on, in her college life, to lie about her background and circumstances in ways tailored to appeal to institutions seeking out poor (Fierceton came from a very wealthy home) and traumatized students.


See how the NY’er writer dances around not one but two Fierceton problems: 1. Lying. 2. Lying strategically for personal profit.

If trauma creates a kind of narrative void, Mackenzie seemed to respond by leaning into a narrative that made her life feel more coherent, fitting into boxes that people want to reward. Perhaps her access to privilege helped her understand, in a way that other disadvantaged students might not, the ways that élite institutions valorize certain kinds of identities. There is currency to a story about a person who comes from nothing and thrives in a prestigious setting. These stories attract attention, in part because they offer comfort that, at least on occasion, such things happen…

Um, ok. So first we need to agree that Fierceton is a traumatized person. Ok, let’s agree with that. Let’s also agree that people with shattered traumatic lives will try to make sense of them, make them cohere, overcome them, by superimposing some kind of meaningful narrative on all the shattered bits. Think of Blanche DuBois and her desperate grasping at variants on Death of the Old South narratives to account for her catastrophe (think also of the mother in Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything that Rises Must Converge.”). But where does that fitting into boxes bit come from? That search for valorized identities? Now we’ve left the human pathos of Blanche and entered the cold world of Zelig and Catch Me If You Can, right?

Penn had once celebrated her story, but, when it proved more complex than institutional categories for disadvantage could capture, it seemed to quickly disown her…

Not really complex, though. I’m thinking that much of the Rashomon problem here derives from self-aggrandizing embroidering. The obscurity of the originary mother/daughter scene has made plenty of room for attention-getting made up stuff; and indeed we can almost certainly expect, from Fierceton, yet another nightmarish personal trauma memoir which dishes out so much horror that by page 127 we start wondering how much of it is true, and how much of it is simply the sort of thing we like to lap up.


Amy Hillier, a faculty member at the social-work school, took a sabbatical from Penn because she was so disillusioned by Mackenzie’s treatment.

UD adds this sentence from the article to illustrate the little burlesque subplots that attach themselves to narratives that spin out of control. A disillusionment sabbatical?


UD thanks David.

March 10th, 2022
Jussie Smollett gets five months in jail…

…. for one of the more disgusting, destructive hoaxes this nation has seen. Background here.

March 7th, 2022
We expect jock schools like Clemson to game US News ratings.

Nobody was that shocked when, a few years ago, a Clemson administrator reported that ‘on surveys distributed by U.S. News, the Clemson brass “rates all programs other than Clemson below average.”‘ The main reaction to this revelation was laughter.

But when a math professor at Columbia accuses it of gaming rankings, things look more serious.

But still amusing. Michael Thaddeus describes, among other things, a school suddenly deciding that its entire immense medical faculty – overwhelmingly engaged in research and patient care – is actually an instructional unit.

Even on its own terms, the ranking is [for all schools] a failure because the supposed facts on which it is based cannot be trusted. Eighty percent of the U.S. News ranking of a university is based on information reported by the university itself. This information is detailed and subtle, and the vetting conducted by U.S. News is cursory enough to allow many inaccuracies to slip through. Institutions are under intense pressure to present themselves in the most favorable light. This creates a profound conflict of interest, which it would be naive to overlook… Even as Columbia has [lately] soared to 2nd place in the ranking, there is reason for concern that its ascendancy may largely be founded, not on an authentic presentation of the university’s strengths, but on a web of illusions.

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