December 29th, 2009
Blair House

The author of Animal Farm and 1984 was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 in Motihari, Champaran district, [India,] where his father, Richard, served as a collector at a colonial opium factory.

The author spent only his first year at the house before his mother took him to England, but officials hope to capitalise on the connection.

An Orwell museum is planned, and funds are being raised by the local Rotary Club to renovate the cottage to “put Motihari on the map”.

The state government in Bihar backed the campaign by declaring the house a protected monument…

December 28th, 2009
Coaches who physically and psychologically abuse players…

… are one of many benefits your tax dollars support at universities with big sports programs.

Student athletes learn a lot from role models like Mark Mangino and Mike Leach. You can understand why institutions devoted to the life of the mind reward these men — who make students crawl on hot Astroturf until they permanently burn their hands, and who make concussed players stand inside of equipment bins for hours — with their highest salaries. It takes real brains to think up this stuff.

December 28th, 2009
You Give Me a Free Trip. I Give You a Fantastic Write-up in the New York Times.

UD always says – UD has a specific category called – BEWARE THE B-SCHOOL BOYS. Finally she can mix up that gender thing.

Mary Tripsas is a Harvard business school professor who also writes for the New York Times. Against all conflict of interest policies at the Times, she let 3-M pay all her expenses for a trip to their headquarters. Then she went home and wrote this remarkably ass-kissing piece featuring the company. Cheap, free publicity for them; plus the NYT gets to look like the paid agent of a corporation.

December 28th, 2009
UD Likes Sarkozy.

He’s crashingly undiplomatic.

He is also about to invest massively in French universities. He knows that they’re terrible, and is trying to make them better. Let’s see if he can do it. Certainly he’s right to give up on the sordid soixante-huitard campuses. They will never change. He seems to be concentrating on several not-yet-dead universities.

As always, though, Sarkozy accompanies his announcement of this good news with hilarious put-downs.

The roundtable [where he made the announcement] had a highly scripted feel, but as usual, Sarkozy improvised his own, somewhat rambling contribution — and he wouldn’t be Sarkozy if he didn’t manage to fling an insult at the research community as well. Putting sloths on notice that they would not benefit from the bond plan, he said: “There’s something everybody has to understand well. There are scientists who search and who find. There are others who search but don’t find — those we have to help. And then there are those who don’t search at all.”

December 28th, 2009


The New Year’s traffic is down.
All of it: Summary, Location, Who’s On.
Dreadful the trends of Traffic Prediction.

Referral Logs list a few Unknowns.
Tweets until lately had grown,
But now birdsong shrinks to a few lone

Twitters ‘mid the worthless Google hits.
Of course I tell myself It’s
The end of December! Keep your wits

About you! Wish your readers well!
Ring out wild bells!

(But my poor stats. Hell.)

December 27th, 2009
Lazy Professors and PowerPoint

From a University of Texas student’s opinion piece about his junior year there:

The structure of [one] class was a bit difficult to deal with at times, as the professor often put a ridiculously large amount of information on each of his powerpoint slides, filling up each slide and making it look almost like a wall of text

December 26th, 2009
Penguin New Zealand: Books So Nice, We Publish Them Twice.

From Stuff New Zealand:

A second plagiarism row has engulfed book publishers [New Zealand] Penguin, with allegations a book about 19th century Maori land wars was withdrawn and republished because its author, a senior Victoria University historian, plagiarised parts of it.

The case comes less than two months after leading New Zealand writer Witi Ihimaera admitted his latest novel, The Trowenna Sea, contained plagiarised material, and vowed to buy back remaining copies of the book and republish it with full acknowledgments.

In the latest plagiarism row, Dr Danny Keenan – an associate professor of Maori Studies – is alleged to have copied from archaeology expert and historian Nigel Prickett without attribution in his book Wars Without End.

Sections from Prickett’s 2002 book, Landscapes of Conflict: A Field Guide to the New Zealand Land Wars, appear in Wars Without End and are not referenced in the bibliography.

It is understood Prickett instructed lawyers to take Keenan’s publisher, Penguin, to task over the matter. Penguin also published Ihimaera’s book.

Penguin publishing director Geoff Walker refused to comment on the company’s processes to ensure works were properly attributed.

“I can confirm that we withdrew Wars Without End by Danny Keenan… and just republished a revised version.”

He said the revised book contained a “degree of rewriting” and was published earlier this month. The original was published earlier this year…

December 26th, 2009
One of many amazing end-of-year ….

… sports round-ups.

This university’s president looks forward to a future even more “bright and positive.”

December 25th, 2009
Good summary of this year’s university news…

… from AP’s education reporter.

December 25th, 2009
A Cold Poem on a Cold Day.

By Gerard Manley Hopkins.

The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less

The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.
And I not help. Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.

Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal…


Some poets – Hopkins… Emily Dickinson comes to mind – have an insane concision and obliqueness, a madly packed brevity. Many of their poems have the compression of black hole events. The reader stands at the tongue of the event, leaning over gingerly, having a bit of a look, afraid of the pull.

Sometimes vagueness is euphemism, designed to keep things innocuous; here, the big abstractions – time, light, world – attach themselves to an unsettling sensibility and feel treacherous.

The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:

Not This particular winter season, with the days growing shorter, I find myself thinking of death. Rather a general proposition about reality: The times ARE nightfall. The condition of life generally is that of motion toward darkness, a cosmic wintering that undoes all the life in the world. Look; watch. The monosyllabic imperatives in each line aren’t just the poet talking to himself — they gather you into the blackening. You are invited to see and feel it too.

They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.

The passage of time is itself pernicious; it creates a darkness against which our disintegration stands out — is blazoned — with frightening clarity.

And I not help.

There’s something infantile about this sentence without a verb, or with so suppressed a verb it seems verbless. The times don’t help me? Is that what it means to say? And I myself am without help in the killing night?

The poem will indeed go on to wonder what might help the poet, and the reader, navigate and survive darkness:

Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.

Hopkins is famous for his wordplay, and here you see it — the subtle transformations from word to wreck to rescue to work — all words somehow linguistically as well as psychically related, all somehow fated to follow one another down the line of the poet’s sad, raveled, thought. The weird convolution of the language conveys the weird blocked consciousness of the poet, able only to pace round and round his particular black hole. He dreams of work completed, not scarce so much as begun, and wonders, given how little he’s been able to do with his life, given how paltry his efforts to evade nothingness have been, whether suicide wouldn’t make sense.

Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal…

He ends with a ray of hope. There is one option: the same mind that torments you might, if able to marshal its forces, rid the dragons (a nice companion to blazon) from it. We are powerless against the blizzards outside, against the cold climate of the times, but we do rule the hearth of our own minds. Or we can rule it — the poet in these final lines seems to encourage himself toward self-rule. The sudden break with the poem’s tight rhyme scheme – that small commonweal rhymes with nothing that came before it – seems a gesture toward willfulness, toward independence of mind.

December 23rd, 2009
“If this project proves successful, we will look at how the lessons learned can be applied elsewhere on campus.”

This is the University of Victoria director of the Office of Occupational Health, Safety, and Environment. He’s talking about the latest effort to remove the many, many rabbits on campus.

Wild rabbits hopping amok around the University of Victoria’s campus will be trapped, sterilized and released in a new location starting in the New Year.

The University of Victoria has chosen Common Ground, a wildlife control company, to start up a pilot project to test the best ways to capture, spay and neuter, and relocate about 150 pesky feral rabbits said to pose a health hazard on the campus’s athletic fields.

Earlier efforts to rid the place of the rabbits have involved shooting them and blowing them up; this approach, everyone agrees, looks more humane.

And if it works, well — as the director suggests, other campus populations are next.

December 23rd, 2009
I’m in a slightly overheated room in a Marriott hotel…

… where?

Hold on.

Newburgh, New York.

UD regulars know we drive – slowly – to Cambridge, Massachusetts, every Christmas. UD‘s sitting up in bed at the moment, looking at an out of commission swimming pool and Route … 81? 83? Lots of sun, lots of trucks.

She could swear she saw two big trucks last night loaded with hay. Is hay a commodity? Don’t you just have hay if you’re a farmer and then… I dunno… keep it at home?

She also saw an even bigger truck which was bilingual, French and English. It advertised the Canadian armed forces. Huge color photos of happy uniformed Canadian women and men. What was it doing here? Les UDs discussed this question at length. “How did it even get here?” one them asked.

UD urged that of all the off-road restaurants, they should choose Perkins. Mr. UD and La Kid were skeptical.

“It’s exactly like Denny’s,” said UD, knowing how much both of them love Denny’s.


“But,” Mr. UD added, looking at La Kid, “if it’s not exactly like Denny’s, your mother is in trouble.”

When it came to it, they agreed that it was exactly like Denny’s, only cleaner, with better food.

December 22nd, 2009
President Interrupted

We seem, in this article, to be inching closer to understanding why a university president was recently, and quite rudely, terminated.

My take on the thing here.

December 21st, 2009
Minnesota: Use ’em up and Throw ’em Away

Minnesota Spokesman-Revew:

Compared to other Big Ten schools, the data shows that Minnesota ranks at or near the bottom in graduation rates of its Black students in three revenue-producing sports: men’s basketball, football, and women’s basketball.

Men’s basketball
GSR for U of M Black student-athletes: 43 percent (ninth in Big Ten); Northwestern leads with 100 percent.

GSR for U of M Black student-athletes: 39 percent (last in Big Ten); Northwestern leads with 90 percent.

December 21st, 2009
This guy says it’s all about winning.

Calipari is allowed to keep coaching for the same reason Knight was allowed to stamp, scream and bully his way through Bloomington from 1971 to 2000. They both win.

He’s wrong.

Winning’s a lot of it.

But audiences like to see the same aggression in coaches that they like to see in players.

Coaches who are sons of bitches are exciting to watch.


There’s a whole charismatic world of violence and destruction off the university or professional football field that people find exciting to follow. Players and coaches with their drunken assaults, crashed sports cars, and gun play — these aren’t things universities tolerate because they only care about winning. They’re things the fan base adores. Football wouldn’t be football without them.

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