Ça commence!
While UD was innocently gardening this morning, she stumbled on her first sighting of the soon to appear everywhere cicadas.
Keeping Up with Europe’s Royalty

Prince Aimone, Duke of Puglia, declined to meet for an interview in the Tuscan country estate of his father, Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, who was reportedly punched twice in the face by his cousin, Vittorio Emanuele, at the 2004 wedding of the future King Felipe VI of Spain. Soon after that altercation, Amedeo claimed to be the legitimate Duke of Savoy.

‘He also had a hand in the design of the J Edgar Hoover Building, the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.’

Let us hope this is not the most prominent thing the media notes about Helmut Jahn, who has died in a very bad bicycle crash. He apparently ran a stop sign and was hit by two cars.

UD vividly remembers walking for the first time into the vast Eschery atrium of Jahn’s James R. Thompson building in downtown Chicago. It must have just opened. It was my first encounter with the breathtaking empty space of monumental late modernism.

Bellocq Tea for Mother’s Day.

UD has a thing for Bellocq Tea, which La Kid knows well, so she bought her mother monthly gifts of various teas from the place. Here’s the first one.

White Duke.
We’ll have an old-fashioned plagiarism; excused in the good old-fashioned way…

[Sing along:]

I’ll vow it’s coincidental;

They’ll vote me rector on the very next day…

Elizabeth, a UD reader, sends me word of Jerzy Gwizdała, an economist at Gdańsk University, who just loves him some plagiarism.

Jerzy plagiarizes in the absolutely classical professorial mode, a mode familiar to any reader who’s been on board University Diaries for any time (check out my PLAGIARISM category if you need refreshing): You steal from the work of smarter, more industrious, students; you steal repeatedly, from a variety of such sources; you steal almost entirely verbatim; you expand your markets by translating the plagiarized material into various languages and publishing in foreign outfits; when cornered, you brush it off as a not very interesting, and very minor, set of coincidences.

Entire sections of [a student’s paper] were “copy-and-paste” plagiarized from [the student’s] PhD thesis. 

Gwizdała also translated sections of [the same student’s] PhD thesis to English in 2018, sent it to the University of Gdańsk Publishing House, and had it published as a book chapter. 

The student notes JG’s response:

Gwizdała issued a statement in which he claimed that the alleged plagiarism instances were just an “ostensible (seeming) coincidence of some excerpts (pozorna zbieżność pewnych fragmentów).”

And after all, stealing from… students… peons … isn’t really stealing… They should be honored that we … incorporate their work into our own…!

Here is King Jerzy, reveling in his finery shortly before he was stripped of it. Not that the Polish university establishment has found the balls to fire him; he has been “suspended” from all duties. So his punishment seems to be that he pulls down a full salary (?) while sitting on his ass.


And why old-fashioned? Because it was all a coincidence has become threadbare, and is rejected by most modern plagiarists. The next time Jerzy gets caught, UD would advise him to use one or more of the following:

  1. My assistant did it.
  2. I suffer from cryptomnesia.
  3. I have substance abuse issues.
  4. I have problems at home.
“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

George Wallace would be so pleased with Cornell University’s segregated rock climbing class.

Lwam Asfaw ’21 explained that when choosing a P.E. class, it was the BIPOC label that ultimately encouraged her to enroll in the course. She explains that the BIPOC label works to make participation more comfortable, accessible and encouraging in an unfamiliar environment. Asfaw said that people should be focusing less on why segregation exists and more on why there’s a need to segregate.

Rejects the authority of the state, and the concept of Zionism, altogether.

[T]he ramp on which 45 people died on Friday morning was built without permission, [a local politician] said.

“Anyone who looked at that slope could see it was something that was just thrown together,” he said. “The incline was too great, the metal floor was something you could easily slip on.”

“I tried to stop this,” he added. “I wrote letters. I got nothing.”

Part of the problem is the lack of a clear management system on the mountain. Four Haredi groups run different parts of the compound, but none has jurisdiction over the entire site. The group that oversees the area where the disaster occurred, Toldot Aharon, rejects the authority of the state, and the concept of Zionism, altogether.


See my theory of the disaster in the post below. The state of Israel to Toldot Aharon: Go ahead and kill yourselves.

“[I]n what other annual mass festival does the state allow an audience of hundreds of thousands of people to gather in a place that is ill-prepared to safely house mere hundreds?”

Yes… Israelis should certainly be asking that question.

UD‘s inclined to believe that the answer has less to do with political expediency (the ultras are an enormous voting bloc; Israel has proportional representation) than with raw visceral stuff like fear and hatred. Quite a few ultras have always been violent; as their numbers hugely grow, their threat as a violent mass grows. Primal fear (compounded by fear of infection from large numbers of ultras who – as at the stampede site – routinely gather in massive spreader events) is felt in every part of the government.

Hatred is there too – not just because a corrupt, obstructionist minority controls a great deal of common daily life in Israel, and not just because routine ultra violence damages and destroys property and people, but because the very spiritual and political foundation of ultraorthodoxy deploys itself radically against the very foundation of Israel as a democratic state. Ultras hate the Zionist state and are notorious for doing gratuitously vile things – ignoring the moment of silence on Holocaust Remembrance day, for instance – to parade their contempt. They wouldn’t think of sullying themselves by fighting in the loathed state’s defense. They physically attacked female soldiers who arrived at the stampede to try to save lives.

You can’t exactly load this much shit up against the secular Israeli majority without generating real hatred. As in: You hate me; I hate you.

The stampede was a stew-in-their-own-juices event. The Israeli government is perfectly capable of controlling public events; in the case of the ultraorthodox — who insisted on doing something suicidally stupid, in response to which any responsible government would intervene — the government basically said fuck it because at this point they don’t care. Let the idiots do their thing. Fuck ’em.

And what of the ultras themselves? Isn’t the real question In what other annual mass festival does our group’s leadership allow an audience of hundreds of thousands – including many children – to gather in a place that is ill-prepared to safely house mere hundreds? And here the answer ain’t pretty either. Our leaders, writes the ultraorthodox author of the opinion piece I’ve been quoting, “prefer to leave us poor and ignorant.” She forgot hungry. And unvaccinated. And unemployable. You’d think that would be enough ill-treatment for people to start leaving the sect, and a few do, but not that many. And now the sect’s men at the top have treated the ultras’ little children (they were a third of the deaths) to death by suffocation, far from their mothers (no women allowed; strict gender separation, which the ultras try to enforce on the secular too, is another fun contribution they make to life in Israel), and toppled over in the dark at one AM and then lights out forever. Quite an end the rabbis rigged up for their most vulnerable.

All of this is one reason some observers call ultraorthodoxy a death cult. Why anyone beyond the mentally fragile and the mentally ill would agree to play along is probably an unanswerable question.

This morning, UD’s garden.
Pre-cicada oblivion.
‘Sotorra Clua said Polman made that decision for humanitarian reasons, after she saw a Facebook post saying nursing skills were needed in the caliphate.’


Better my kid should suffocate to death in agony than a woman touch him.

Soldiers of the Israel Defense Force’s Home Front Command were physically and verbally attacked by ultra-Orthodox Jews while they were assisting in searching for dead and wounded in the deadly crush during Lag B’Omer celebrations at Mount Meron, the IDF said late Saturday.

“We entered the gravesite to search for injured people and suddenly a commotion began that there are female soldiers in uniforms who are touching the wounded,” a soldier told Army Radio earlier.

“They started to kick and spit on us. The female soldiers were kicked, spit on, and punched from every direction,” the radio station quoted the soldier saying. Hebrew media reports said five female soldiers were targeted.

It’s family fun time on the beach!

Police ended up seizing black tar heroin, powder cocaine, a digital scale, packaging materials, money, a .9-mm handgun and a loaded extended 30-round magazine.

On the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD.

Faithful readers will recall that the Rapoports, UD‘s father’s family, have been in business in Ocean City since 1910.

“[Multiple reports indicate that there was] immense pressure by religious lawmakers ahead of the festivities to ensure that there would be no limits placed on the number of attendees.”

“Haredi politicians and their political allies” put immense pressure on civil authorities to do what everyone except the benighted haredim knew was madness: Pack hundreds of thousands of excited people, late at night, inside a space intended to hold a few thousand. Israel’s “worst-ever peacetime disaster” has laid bare the fact of Israel’s ongoing decline into a hapless third-world theocracy.

With this year’s event taking place in the shadow of COVID-19 — having been canceled last year because of the pandemic — consultations involving the Health Ministry, police and other officials concluded that no more than 9,000 people should be allowed to attend. [One hundred thousand attended.] Agreement to this effect was never brought to the government for approval, however, because of infighting among ministers on other matters… Meron mountainside has essentially become a kind of extra-territorial zone, over which the government has for years failed to fully impose its authority.

There’s definitely humongous huffing and puffing this morning about the scores of state officials under investigation blah blah but of course the people suicidally massing all over the place barely acknowledge – and certainly detest – the state, and certainly intend to ignore all of its reports, directives, laws… Whatever bizarre and distasteful secular emanations waft toward them, Israel’s whirling dervishes intend to keep whirling exactly the way they always have.

I mean, does it seem strange to you that in all the finger pointing no one is even considering pointing a finger at the people responsible – the rabbinical leadership of this haredi sect? That’s because it’s hopeless – Israel has allowed itself to generate huge populations of hostile irrational reactionary cultists; it has, in fact, allowed them to establish significant stretches of Israel as their own “extra-territorial zone.” Israel is becoming a failed state.

‘Some rescue workers attributed it to the sheer volume of people, who had gathered despite warnings from the authorities that it was too risky at a time of pandemic.’

Yet more proof that Israel has no control – chooses to take no control – over its wildly destructive ultraorthodox. Tonight they massed in celebration at a notorious “death trap,” and dozens of them died. Some among them must have known they were dangerously crowded; some must also have heard tell of a pandemic. Neither of these things stopped them; nor did state authorities stop them. Authorities merely warned them. “Authorities had authorised 10,000 people to attend the gathering at the tomb, but festival organisers estimated that 100,000 people were at the site.” Additional buses approached as the disaster occurred, bringing tens of thousands more. “The pilgrimage was held this year despite warnings from Israeli health officials that it could lead to coronavirus cases — a danger heightened by the fact that some parts of ultra-Orthodox communities have been hesitant to get vaccinated.”

[O]verall responsibility for the site has long been contested between religious authorities and state authorities, handicapping efforts to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to cope with crowds at a site second only to the Western Wall in terms of its popularity. Israel’s state comptroller had specified in 2008 that Mount Meron “is not appropriately prepared for mass events,” Channel 12 news noted on Friday. A 2016 police report also warned of looming disaster.

The benighted throng hurled itself into its overstuffed ecstasies and asphyxiated. Children died. Absolutely these people brought children to massive chaotic late night bedlam; and hey – kids are small and they get crushed first.

“Rabbi Shimon [the object of the celebration] used to say that he could absolve the world … If he didn’t manage to cancel this edict on the very day of his exaltation, then we need to do real soul-searching.” Thus saideth one of the surviving ecstatics, and ain’t it a pity that the mindless rigidity of his cult means no soul-searching and certainly no practical changes in their staging of their ecstasies will occur; and certainly the cynical political leadership of Israel will do – as they did tonight – little more than evacuate the dead.

The model here is clearly the hajj. Theocracies tend to bleed their way through these spectacles.


A rescue worker: “We have to wake up, it’s shocking how many people were allowed to enter.” And who allowed them?


[In the sect of ultraorthodoxy present at the stampede], cohesion is as tight as super glue. In contrast, the outside world – especially anything affiliated with Zionism – is described as dark and evil. [Yeah, you read dat right.] [The sect members] do not view themselves as individuals... “No one would ever think of involving outsiders in internal issues of the community, let alone representatives of the Zionist entity, which is perceived as an apostate body inimical to the sect’s belief system.”

“With the return of Taliban, society will be transformed and ruined,” [a young Afghan woman] said. “Women will be sent into hiding, they’ll be forced to wear the burqa to go out of their homes.”

Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries in the world for women, after only Yemen and Syria, according to an index kept by Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

It’s definitely been better for women with American troops there, but it was still hideous, and it’s about to become heinous.

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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.
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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.
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It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
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There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

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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.
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