Wanna know the special magic that goes into making Louisiana the unhappiest state in America?

Well, except for West Virginia, which beat Louisiana by a whisker in their race to the very very bottom

It’s stupid degrading shit like this.

Reminds you of those poor Huntington WV students similarly force-marched into the presence of Jesus freaks.

Our saddest and next to saddest states. They ain’t heard of the separation of church and state round them parts – their teachers and superintendents ain’t heard of it – and ifn you tried to explain it to them, wouldn’t get through one bit. Hell I’d be sad too ifn I had to send my kids to them schools.

Hey, Hijabis! You gonna let him get away with that?

A guy’s writing in the New Yorker, of all places, and he says this:

[A]s the popular legitimacy of the Iranian regime has crumbled, its leaders have clung to antiquated concepts of female modesty to prop it up.

If that doesn’t bait you, nothing will. You’ve been telling all of us that burqas, much less hijabs, are liberating choices for modern women; you have railed against burqa bans; you have organized international everyone wear a hijab days. Now, with a massive hijab burning going on in Iran, western observers seem less and less shy about saying how they really feel about the hijab and its reliable companion – big dark blowsy body robes that cover up any sign that you have a female body (these robes are also mandatory in Iran).

Remember the ill-fated Council of Europe campaign that said FREEDOM IS IN HIJAB???? Remember how it enraged politicians all over Europe and was immediately shut down and rejected by the Council of Europe itself, which basically said We fucked up?

What are we learning here, ladies?

Tell you what. The heroines of Iran are really messing up your campaign to make us see antiquated marks of female modesty as hip marks of empowerment. I see trouble ahead unless you stop being pussies and instead find your Phyllis Schlafly and let her bellow out your truth: Hijabs and body covering robes are beautiful, emancipatory…

‘The Ukrainians’ efforts have demonstrated that liberal democracy and human dignity are causes people are still willing to fight and die for. They are showing that these ideas have great power.’

Also the Iranians’ incredibly brave efforts. The attention of the world is, rightly, on the dissenters in the streets of Tehran as well as on the Ukrainians. But the forces of illiberal democracy – A sham designation, no? Fascism is better. – in Russia, Hungary, Italy, and of course right here in the MAGA movement – are certainly on the march, and we must always call them out, and fight them with whatever weapons we have.

I do wonder about Europe’s militant hijabis. What do they have to say? Why have we not heard their opinion of this massive anti-hijab movement?

‘In one of her final interviews, published Sept. 10, [Hilary] Mantel was asked if she believed in an afterlife. She did, she told The Financial Times, although she couldn’t imagine how it might work. “However, the universe is not limited by what I can imagine,” she said.’

What a wonderful thing to say. What a wonderful way to put it.

In the Happiest State in the Happiest State.

So UD’s home state (really home: born in Hopkins Hospital, spent summers at crab feasts on the Bay, grew up in Bethesda) has just been named the Happiest State in America by Wallet Hub.

Okay, no.  Hawaii is the happiest – duh – but Maryland came in second.  Second!  Let us ask why.  Let us count the ways.

1.  Am I blue?  Am I blue?   A glance at the full happy list tells you that Democratic states are far happier than Republican, and it doesn’t get any bluer than Maryland, My Maryland.  Even our Republican governor is a Democrat.  He calls the Republican running to succeed him a ‘QAnon whack job.’

2.  Money does buy happiness.  We’re always ranked in the top ten wealthiest states, with a huge amount of government and high tech and corporate stuff wedged into our tiny domain.  My little town’s budget – I live in a place called Garrett Park – can only be called an embarrassment of riches.  And unlike our saddest states – Louisiana, Mississippi – we don’t worry that everyone’s going to steal everything.

3.  “Community and Environment” is one of three major categories on which the study focuses.  My park-like town is small and my state is small.  I know my neighbors. Most of us volunteer for stuff and are charitable with our money.   I know my representatives.  I’ve met Senator Chris Van Hollen twice – at a small dinner, where we talked at length, and then in Vermont, at a mutual friend’s birthday party, where we talked even more.  Van Hollen arranged it so my old friend Terry’s father – who captured Tojo! – got the military recognition he deserved.  One of my neighbors hosted a meet and greet for Jamie Raskin – then her American University colleague – and I got to know the guy.  Raskin’s January 6 Committee eloquence made me … happy.


It ain’t rocket science.  The very saddest states – look at the list – tend to be corrupt, and they feature isolated people who hate the government.  The very happiest contain lucky so and so’s like me: Beneficiaries of accessible, rational, pretty uncorrupt government; strong communities which tend to use their wealth generously; and beloved, well-tended, natural as well as civic settings.


And don’t forget to combine isolation with guns all over the house!

Headline of the Day.

A Utah Student has been Charged with

Making Terrorism Threats

Over a Football Game


‘According to the charging documents, the student studied engineering and had knowledge of the university’s nuclear reactor.

The University of Utah is among more than two dozen U.S. universities with nuclear engineering programs that use reactors for faculty and student research.

The university said in a statement on Thursday that the reactor was secured and campus law enforcement had protocols in place to ensure no breaches are made.’

Wotta Shocker.

A plagiarist guilty of massive amounts of plagiarism turns out to be guilty of even more. What makes Paul McCrory super-plus appetizing is that it’s all been in the service of keeping concussed athletes on the field.

America’s Theocrats Might Want to Take a Look at What’s Happening in Iran.

Our Christian Nationalists, Cathophate-Planners, and assorted hierocrats need to start thinking about how hard they’re willing to crack down – once they take over the country – on what’s emerging as a more and more secular American population.

Harvard’s Adrian Vermeule and his Xian Morality Brigade fully expect that, when we spiritually parched people taste the blessings of the strict – but loving – Xian state, we will be blissed out, flooded with gratitude, and utterly obedient:

Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being.

I’m thinking their Mullah-Doubles over in Iran must have felt just as confident when they decreed deadly divine dicta for everyone (but specially for breasty hairy femmes); yet a glance at the current situation in that glorious theocracy tells you you got trouble right here in Isfahan City.

See, when a small group of woman-reviling fanatics who think they have a pipeline to God take over a government and start imposing their twisted morality on everybody, things might not turn out all that well. Iran’s on fire, sparked by the Morality Police’s inevitable murder of a young woman whose body swaddling was insufficiently tight to excite the squad. Bad girl and now we will beat you and kill you wow did that feel good.

Not sure how much longer the fun can last. The orgasmic release of harlot-homicide may be less and less available to the pious men of Iran as the country’s population torches the cities.

‘A general retardation that extends not just to women but to every aspect of personal freedom and civic rights.’

Nesrine Malik’s description of many Middle Eastern countries applies as well to America’s haredi enclaves, where a fiercely cultivated mental and civic retardation has reduced ultraorthodoxy to an increasingly peculiar, increasingly belligerent, cult.

Because, by definition, many ultraorthodox people don’t know how to argue, UD will charitably refrain from linking to their efforts to defend themselves against the now-notorious New York Times article; she will say, however, that the origins of this group’s virtually one hundred percent full-throated support of that noted polemicist Donald Trump now become clearer to her. As do the origins of their outsize presence at the January 6 rally and even at the insurrection. No one should be surprised that violence is the last refuge of the illiterate. It’s the only voice they have, I guess.

‘Gasht-e Ershad [the Iranian morality police] is wrong because it has had no result except loss and damage for the country.’

One – only one – Iranian politician gets it. When the state deputizes squads of insane misogynists/religious fanatics to wander all over Tehran harassing women who don’t look quite as much like death warmed over as they would like, you’re asking for trouble.

I mean, I’m sure these loons have been beating/jailing inadequately hijabed women there for some time; but since no one’s up and died, it hasn’t been that big a deal, right?

But it was only a matter of time before the nutso woman-hatred Iran has let loose on its streets (and after all, as Mona Eltahawy points out, violent woman-hatred was already baked in long before the loons assumed power) was going to kill someone; and since Iran already has millions of women who profoundly resent mandatory swaddling, the shit has now hit the fan with the killing of a young woman in custody.

Wonder if it’ll spread to Afghanistan.

It certainly seems to be spreading – quickly – through Iran.

New Tripod Sprinkler in the Garden…

… as the season changes and empty spots appear. Saw one in Pier 450‘s bayside garden and decided I wanted one too.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…

… when Antwerp’s haredi community, faced with the same educational mandate New York’s haredim are facing, did something altogether amazing — something NY’s haredim might want to take a look at.

[The Belgian haredi community] asked the court to fine the government $6,780 per child for every day the [mandates] are in place.


The suit was ” strongly denied … by the court,” for some reason… But maybe the strategy could work here! Maybe demand more of a per child per diem? 10,000’s a nice round number. Something to start bargaining with.

Some kind of orb weaver…

… hangs from its threads inches from my sliding door. Out of focus. Best I could do.

‘Parents, former students and teachers have outlined a systematic denial of education, which they say is intended to prevent them from succeeding outside the Hasidic community.’

Systematic. Intended. Wowza.

‘Hasidic girls’ schools sometimes refuse to release transcripts to their graduates who need them for secular colleges.’


To find a precedent for this grotesque behavior, you have to go back to ancient China, where women’s feet were deformed through binding, so that they would be more easily exploitable in work settings, or competitive in marriage.

In general, though, the phenomenon of a community intentionally disabling its own young people in order to force them to stay within the tight bounds – if you will – of the community is so perverted that it’s very hard to find any precedent at all.

La Kid Turns 32.
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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...
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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