Those with a taste for the details of how…

… America’s top college students are nihilized into the power elite will recall Walter Kirn’s classic Lost in the Meritocracy, where he chronicled his transformation from an earnest person who loved literature to “the system’s pure product, clever and adaptable, not so much educated as wised-up.” At Princeton, he learned to hone

more-marketable skills: for flattering those in authority without appearing to, for ranking artistic reputations according to the latest academic fashions, for matching my intonations and vocabulary to the background of my listener, for placing certain words in smirking quotation marks and rolling my eyes when someone spoke too earnestly about some “classic” work of “literature,” for veering left when the conventional wisdom went right and then doubling back if the consensus changed.

Now there’s this year’s account of the ‘“intoxicating nihilism” that dominates campus social life’ at another corporate feeder.

At the sports factories, it’s one-and-done. In the higher precincts, it’s four-and-whore.

Annales d’histoire

“I was just reading something last night from the state of California that … seven or eight of the California system of universities don’t even teach an American history course [Rick Santorum said at a campaign stop]. It’s not even available to be taught.”

MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow on her Monday broadcast called the Santorum statement “100 percent untrue” and “hysterically wrong.”

She then read from the University of California, Davis, course calendar naming several courses from the Davis catalog and the classes’ instructors.

Courses include “History of the United States,” “The Gilded Age and Progressive Era” and “War, Prosperity and Depression, 1917-1945.”

Davis officials said they were pleased with the unexpected exposure.

“We were thrilled that a national TV audience was able to see the breadth of our course offerings in a very important subject,” UC Davis spokesman Barry Shiller said Tuesday.

All campuses teach multiple American history courses.

“Investigators found that Leite had completed sexual-harassment training three times in recent years, but she told the university she was unaware her actions were wrong.”


“It is time to start considering options to antidepressants.”

Hey. New year and all. You’re going to read tons of these articles and opinion pieces in 2012, as the evidence pours in about placebos. The other side has all the money and will keep bombarding you with ads, just the way do-nothing, charge-everything for-profit online schools do. Resolve to think seriously about these come-ons.


A young mountain lion sleeping in a tree on the University of Colorado campus has been captured and “will be fitted with a collar and become part of the Front Range Mountain Lion Study.”


It is pretty remarkable: Vegetarians, health food faddists, digestive obsessives of all sorts, blithely toss powerful anti-psychotics and anti-depressants down their gullets (and their children’s gullets) without knowing shit about what’s in them.

UD could understand it if these people were heroin addicts past caring about the ingredients of the compound someone’s handing them. But these are intelligent, watchful Americans, and it’s Down the hatch, baby!

Take the wildly popular, constantly advertised anti-psychotic Abilify, which you absolutely must try with your anti-depressant, darling. Two professors of medicine at Dartmouth write:

[Versus a placebo, Abilify scored] only three points lower on a 60-point scale, and it resolved depression for only 10 percent of patients — that is, 25 percent with Abilify versus 15 percent with just the placebo…

Abilify [caused] 21 percent of patients in the trials to develop akathisia, or severe restlessness, and 4 percent to gain a substantial amount of weight. And, as with all anti-depressants, there is a small increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior among many young adults.

The writers point out that we know far more about our sun screens than about these powerful manipulators of our brain chemistry.

More here. And here.

So taunt me and hurt me…

… deceive me…

So in love with you am I!

UD was interviewed this morning…

… by a reporter from the Xinhua news agency about the Amy Chua controversy. If her remarks make it into an article, she’ll link you to them.

Absolutely fascinating and extremely heartening…

… article on the front page of the New York Times about the slow but steady acceptance of a far better model of disseminating and evaluating scholarly work than antediluvian peer review.


… [T]he prestigious 60-year-old Shakespeare Quarterly … [has embarked] on an uncharacteristic experiment in the forthcoming fall issue — one that will make it …the first traditional humanities journal to open its reviewing to the World Wide Web.

Mixing traditional and new methods, the journal posted online four essays not yet accepted for publication, and a core group of experts — what Ms. Rowe called “our crowd sourcing” — were invited to post their signed comments on the Web site MediaCommons, a scholarly digital network. In the end 41 people made more than 350 comments, many of which elicited responses from the authors. The revised versions were then reviewed by the quarterly’s editors, who made the final decision to include them in the printed journal, due out Sept. 17.

… Today a small vanguard of digitally adept scholars is rethinking how knowledge is understood and judged by inviting online readers to comment on books in progress, compiling journals from blog posts and sometimes successfully petitioning their universities to grant promotions and tenure on the basis of non-peer-reviewed projects.

… In some respects scientists and economists who have created online repositories for unpublished working paper like have more quickly adapted to digital life. Just this month, mathematicians used blogs and wikis to evaluate a supposed mathematical proof in the space of a week — the scholarly equivalent of warp speed.

In the humanities, in which the monograph has been king, there is more inertia. “We have never done it that way before,” should be academia’s motto, said Kathleen Fitzpatrick, a professor of media studies at Pomona College.

… [T]he debates happening on the site “are defined as being frontier knowledge even though they are not peer reviewed,” [commented one scholar.] …

Exciting, cutting-edge stuff.

From “What Makes A Great Teacher?” in the latest…

Atlantic magazine.

Teach for America’s staffers have discovered that past performance — especially the kind you can measure — is the best predictor of future performance [as a teacher]. Recruits who have achieved big, measurable goals in college tend to do so as teachers. And the two best metrics of previous success tend to be grade-point average and “leadership achievement” — a record of running something and showing tangible results. If you not only led a tutoring program but doubled its size, that’s promising.

Knowledge matters, but not in every case. In studies of high-school math teachers, majoring in the subject seems to predict better results in the classroom. And more generally, people who attended a selective college are more likely to excel as teachers (although graduating from an Ivy League school does not unto itself predict significant gains in a Teach for America classroom). Meanwhile, a master’s degree in education seems to have no impact on classroom effectiveness.

Although UD even knows about…

electronic cigarettes, you must not expect her — she’s addressing university students among her readers here — you must not expect her to know anything, really, about your world.

If you name your band The Airborne Toxic Event, or Titus Andronicus, she’ll eventually get wind of it. But she really knows nothing about your world.

Still, every now and then her online activity produces something like this – a review of Alcoholics Unanimous and other works – and she does get a glimpse.

A seven minute excursion
into the agit-funk of ’77 era Talking Heads (or, if you prefer, Julian Cope’s ‘Safe Surfer’) complete with the Pulitzer-prize worthy couplet: “I can’t remember anything I’ve done/I fought the floor and the floor won!” it’s a sobering account of the morning after the night before which seems destined to fill dancefloors from Paris to Pasadena.

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