‘Well the frost is on the pumpkin / And the hay is in the barn…’

UD‘s sunny garden, 9:00 AM, after the first frost of the season.

The post’s title is from James Taylor’s Walking Man – a song which for almost fifty years has been playing in my head.
Another GREAT Headline

Been injured in an election? Call Rudy Giuliani now!

Headline of the Day

Giuliani’s court bid to overturn Biden victory turns to farce as he forgets judge’s name, calls other lawyer ‘that angry man,’ claims the 11 biggest cities are conspiring to steal election, then gets directions to the nearest martini bar.

And you wonder why women wear burqas.

Not that it helps much.



The tweets are calm tonight.

The vote is bull, and so unfair

And full of hate.  On coastal elites the light

Gleams.  So wrong … The cliffs of Alabama stand

Glimmering and vast, ready to vote another day.

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Only, from the long line of fake

Media, where scum weave their grand

Conspiracies against me …

Listen! You hear the grating roar

Of traitors, which a red wave will draw back, and fling,

In 2024, into the desert sand.

O sorrow cease!  And then again begin

With tremulous cadence slow, to bring

A future dawn of gladness in.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

“Utah has very permissive gun laws, but we also have a very low homicide rate. What we didn’t realize was we have a huge suicide rate.”

Yes, Utah is one of those big manly gunned-up states (also Montana, Wyoming, Alaska…) where you better not mess with me cuz I wanna mess with me. Suicide, ho!

UD firmly believes that a lot of men buy guns with their own eventual suicides in mind. The suicide option may not be at the forefront of their thinking as they amass scads of weapons; but you know that implicit in the wide-open-spaces nihilist’s life (drinking, driving pointlessly about at high speed, divorcing like crazy, alienating everyone around you) is a clear endpoint, an obvious moment somewhere in your late fifties, early sixties, when you lose your bad boy bounce, you’re all alone, and the winters are long.

Hoover. Damn!

Bitter-Ender Trumpian Scott Atlas is on leave at the moment from Stanford’s Hoover Institutution, but his connection to the place still means that the university gets besmirched with each of his increasingly debauched statements about covid. His latest command to the citizens of Michigan that they “RISE UP” against their governor for her commitment to their health is so disgusting that Stanford has been moved to make a public statement against him.


UD thanks a reader for correcting the first name of Atlas; with my literary sensibility I seem to have decided it was James Atlas. It is Scott.

Your Morning Giggle

People have started noticing a change in the president’s hair color.

What If I Never Leave?

A song by John Dowland (1563-1626). Revised version.

Sing it.

What if I never leave?
Shall I still yield to despair,
And still on sorrow feed
That I can’t my loss repair?
Or shall I change the vote?
For tis disgrace and fraud.
Since, as good Rudy notes,
The love for me is broad.
Will thou let me stay
President For Life?
Then ever should I serve you all my days.

Come, come, come, for I want the thing so bad
Come, come, come, for I fear that I’ll go mad

‘Trump Tweets support for Virginia Wesleyan professor’s controversial post; dean resigns’

Not only did God immediately forgive Paul Ewell for writing that post; no less than the President of the United States enthusiastically tweeted said post. Despite these votes of confidence, Dean Ewell finds himself out on his ass because Jesus Saves, Moses Invests, and Virginia Wesleyan University Fires. It’s a university, see. Totally close-minded punitive fanatics are not really what most universities have in mind. As such.

UD is Hitchensian; she agrees with him, for instance, that hate is not always, as it were, a four-letter word.

When the Washington Post telephoned me at home on Valentine’s Day 1989 to ask my opinion about the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwah, I felt at once that here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying, and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual, and the defense of free expression.

I don’t agree with Christopher Hitchens that religion and stupidity are hateful; I do agree that some human extremes of behavior deserve hatred, or, if you like, naturally prompt hatred, and that there’s nothing all that wrong with feeling this emotion if it’s truly warranted.

Peter Wehner, anticipating the departure of Donald Trump, urges that we avoid getting “sucked into a vortex of hate” in regard to him; he quotes from a King sermon: “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

Indeed Wehner’s is altogether a religious column; he begins with Bonhoeffer and ends with Isaiah. Yet for people like UD and Hitchens, no purely religious appeal not to hate will persuade; after all, the religious/racial bigotry of some evangelicals and other religious has had a lot to do with making Trump possible. Religion’s legacy, in other words, ain’t exactly hateless, no matter how pretty its rhetoric of love and forgiveness. Wehner is free to choose among big-hearted Christians for the purpose of the column he’s writing, but he could have chosen among an equally generous basket of Christian hate-mongers if he wanted to argue the opposite of what he has chosen to argue.

So let’s decouple this from religion, and simply suggest that there are at least a couple of kinds of hate. Wehner has in mind hot hate, the kind that steams you every day and generates rage and self-righteousness and rejection of the humanity of, in this case, anyone enthusiastic about Trump. This hate – drawing on the language Wehner has used – is low; it is a vortex. It controls you.

But think of what James Joyce calls his inner “refrigerating apparatus,” his capacity to contain strong emotions while remaining emotionally controlled, and even cold. Surely our “disgust” and “moral revulsion” (to use a couple of commonly used descriptions of widely shared feelings about Trump) need not overtake and distort us; we can hold them thoughtfully and intensely; and we can certainly agree that they ought not extend to Trump voters. Every Trump voter I’ve encountered, talked to, and known (one of my neighbors – a dear friend since elementary school – is a Trump guy) seems to me a perfectly decent person. I don’t even hate white power Trumpians, having seen enough documentaries about them to feel mainly pity – for these are the true hot-haters, and they are eating themselves up alive.

Far from wanting to keep hating – hot or cold – on Trump, UD cannot wait to see the back of him, and indeed cannot wait to stop having his perversity dominate the news in a way that again and again generates intensely negative emotions in her. I have nothing good to say about Scientology; but I have always liked their phrase going clear. Someday soon, inshallah, UD will be able to go clear of a pernicious character who has commanded the attention of Americans.

In the meantime, what I’m okay with our calling hate focuses and organizes my otherwise rather scattered responses to our current president.

Above all, I hate this man’s cruelty. Liberals, argue Judith Shklar and Richard Rorty, are people who believe that “cruelty is the worst thing we do.” The worst – worthy of hatred.

What a bizarre – almost unbelieveable – fact it is that America has had as its president the very embodiment of extreme cruelty. We need to do a lot of thinking about how that came about. Think of Charles Koch suddenly deciding that his massively funding the vicious tea party was a big mistake. What was your first hint, man? But better late than never.

Dean Ewell is All in a Flutter!

Life is an emotional roller coaster for Virginia Wesleyan’s global campus dean. First he burst out of the facebook gate aflame with rage over the defeat of his fellow fervent Christian, Donald Trump. He condemned anyone who voted for the Catholic antiChrist as unChristian and ignorant and anti-American and declared he’d never have anything to do again with such sinners.

Dean Ewell ain’t real bright (his academic specialty appears to be fishing) and despite his high-profile position at a reasonably respectable (or it used to be) university, he went ahead and wrote all this down in an easily accessible place. His – er – enthusiasm for the beloved leader alarmed many people at VWU, some of whom made sure his post went viral. And now Ewell’s apologizing as only a mindless fanatic panicked about losing his job can apologize. Let’s take a peek!

I spoke out of anger which I should not have done. Second, I don’t believe what I said. I have friends and family who are Democrats and I love them dearly. I have apologized on both accounts profusely. I set a poor example in that post of what a Christian should be. I know that God has forgiven me and already died for my sins. I hope others will forgive me as well.

Well, now! That’s done, and how easily and neatly! It’s been just a few hours but I know God has already forgiven me. This is America, Land of InstaCart and InstaTransgressionRelease.


But wait! Now the beloved leader himself has singled Paul Ewell’s post out for praise! This support tweet from Trump is no doubt the highlight of Paul’s life, but he’s already on record having written (in haste again?) a total self-denunciation for exactly that which Trump is praising on high!

What to do??? You see what I mean by emotional roller coaster.

And meanwhile, as if that weren’t enough, VWU officials are reviewing the entire… situation (students, faculty, and alumni are embarrassed and pissed), so Ewell has to deal with that as well. His next public statement will definitely compare himself to the crucified Christ.

Know Your Enemy.

What holds [evangelicals] together is not any centralized command structure, but a radical political ideology that is profoundly hostile to democracy and pluralism, and a certain political style that seeks to provoke moral panic, rewards the paranoid and views every partisan conflict as a conflagration, the end of the world… The point of conspiratorial narratives and apocalyptic rhetoric is to lay the groundwork for a politics of total obstruction, in preparation for the return of a “legitimate” ruler. The best guess is that religious authoritarianism of the next four years will look a lot like it did in the last four years. We ignore the political implications for our democracy at our peril.

‘ The child-separation policy was definitely the administration’s single most disgraceful policy. Cruel, reckless and stupid — like Trump himself.’

What bothers me most of all … is Trump’s serial trashing of political norms, which wasn’t so much a moment as it was a constant. He’ll be remembered as the president who treated every civil servant as a personal servant, every cabinet secretary as a toady, every critic as an enemy, every enemy as a role model and every supporter as a fool…

I have a hard time imagining that anything Biden will ever do as president will fill me with the kind of visceral loathing I feel for Trump. There’s a difference between disagreement and disgust; between thinking a politician is taking the wrong route to the right destination and thinking he’s taking an insane route to a horrible destination.

Bret Stephens does some pre/post thinking about Trubu.

Yesterday would have been Wojciech Fangor’s 97th Birthday.

An old friend of the Soltan family, he was a significant but not immensely significant artist until his last decade, when Les UDs began to panic as their six Fangor paintings became so valuable we had to make a decision: Handle and secure them properly or sell most of them. We kept this one

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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.
New York Times

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

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

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

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
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.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

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