A wee verse for winter…

… by Minna Thomas Antrim.


Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes, my sweetheart fair.


UD‘s been handed many cups of mulled cider over the last few days. She likes to see the cloves in the cup, likes to blow on the cider and sip around the cloves and allspice and cinnamon.

The wee verse is charming, but we want something more substantial to mull.


“It was beginning winter”

It was beginning winter,
An in-between time,
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow.

[Roethke lends a lento, medieval feel to his poem with his simple chant, his retrospection… There’s also a bit of a ghouly feel, with those dead bones in the blue snow still weirdly swinging. Which will introduce his theme – what is the nature of life in the midst of death? What persists? As in Eliot’s Waste Land: What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish?]

It was beginning winter,
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones
Swinging in the wind.

[Philip Larkin’s An Arundel Tomb has this beautiful line, evoking the passage of time amid the stillness of an ancient tomb inside of a church: Light / Each summer thronged the glass.

Trying to evoke the same sense of life, movement, amid a larger immobility, Roethke has the light moving slowly over the unmoving field – a residue of vivacity, a messenger from a more living place. ‘Seed-crowns’ deepens the sense of antiquity.]

Light traveled over the wide field;
The weeds stopped swinging.
The mind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence.

[One must have a mind of winter, writes Wallace Stevens in a more famous poem, also mulling the thought that thought itself is the living thing that not only persists but thrives in wintry conditions: The mind of winter must remake the world, reanimate with memory and longing a living world. The silence of the winter world makes room for the mind, undistracts the mind from the busyness of rich natural life, and rivets it on the essentials.]

Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still?

[And so the poet now freely muses, his mind released from the physical life of warm seasons into the philosophical disposition of winter. What is life? What is the life that continues even in the dead of winter? Is it merely the light of my mind casting light over the world? Or is there another source?]

A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still.

[Who knows? These bright, glacial mysteries are beyond me. Best merely to sit tight and wait for the spring, when the world will become comprehensible again.]

FSU Football Players:

Excellent on possession, bad at avoiding tackle.

It’s a wonderful life.

The more you look at a law school’s ledgers, the more life in the legal academy seems a sweet deal. And it’s been getting sweeter. Course loads have shrunk in the last couple of decades; the pay scale is high and has been rising. Median salaries are in the $120,000-to-$150,000 range, but superstars can earn $300,000 or more and the best of the best get pretty special housing deals. Over the summer, the New York University School of Law spent $5.6 million on two apartments in the West Village. A spokesman for the school said it had yet to determine whether the units would be combined and who would live there.

“It’s a wonderful life,” says Nancy Rapoport, a professor at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and author of an article for the Indiana Law Journal, “Eating Our Cake and Having It Too: Why Real Change Is So Difficult in Law Schools.”

“You’ve got a lot of happy law professors, who don’t want to change anything,” Ms. Rapoport said. “They may not realize how precarious legal education is, and the legal market is, right now. That’s human nature. Everything is going well. Let’s keep it the way it is.”

More here.

Merry Christmas from your one-course-a-semester, $200,000 a year law school professor!

Too bad there aren’t any legal jobs for the students she — now and then — teaches.

Godless Bo Card Last Straw…

…says Palin.

“i am getting a bit pissed here.”

Harvard’s Marc Hauser (background here – scroll down) didn’t like people monkeying around in his lab.

In an important essay on Hauser, and on research fraud in general, Charles Gross concludes the obvious:

[I]rreversible damage has been done to the field of animal cognition, [and] to Harvard University…

“Zelnick was involved in two accidents in 2010 and two others in 2006 and 2007, records show. He was stopped for speeding in New Hampshire in 2001, in Boston in 2002, and twice, in Sudbury and Brighton, in 2000; his record includes other stops by police for failure to stop and a right-of-way violation.”

Robert Zelnick likes to go fast.

Merry Christmas from University Diaries.

La Kid, last night, in front of the
Quincy Market Christmas Tree, Boston.

A Rainbow Over the Massachusetts Turnpike…

… early this evening was the final trick of a long day of tricks the winter sky performed as Les UDs trudged northward from ‘thesda. From morning on, mixed clouds and sun and grey/black threads and occasional rain and occasional black-as-the-grave darkness made the view over the solid brown of the trees quite a thing.

Last year at this time, UD was blizzarded in. Boston was immobile under snow. This year’s weather is mild – just right for last minute late night shopping in Cambridge after a family dinner.

Perkins v. Denny’s

The West Hazleton Pennsylvania Perkins is a lot like the Harrisonburg Virginia Denny’s. Both are just off the freeway, both sell cakes, cookies, and pies, and both greet you effusively.

While Perkins is a mite more upscale, it does not, like Denny’s, offer internet access.

Les UDs were seated at a comfy booth, where Mr UD ordered steak (very rare) and eggs, and UD had the grilled chicken salad.


During the ride from DC, UD had religion on her mind (probably the death of Hitchens got her thinking about it), so Les UDs talked about that.

When they drove near Fort Dietrich, UD interrupted the conversation with a little nostalgia. “I went to high school with kids whose parents worked on poison gas there.”


At the next booth, a woman wore a knitted cap made to resemble a pile of vanilla ice cream with a cherry on top.

As Les UDs batted around their well-established Thing on religion (He: Mystical experience suggests the existence of a personal god. She: The mystery of the cosmos is so immense that I’m not comfortable with anything except maybe deism.), a priest sat down alone at an adjacent booth and took out a book. “Let’s ask that guy,” said UD, but she was kidding.

UD acknowledged that religion gave her something to do with, gave her a way to think about, the odd love and heartache she felt for people generally — specifically, at the moment, for the vaguely physically and mentally damaged young man who seated them, and for the coffee-, whiskey-, and cigarette-voiced woman who took their order.

After dinner, while UD waited in line to pay, she talked to a little boy about the baked goods at which they were both staring.

“What’ll it be?” UD asked him.

“My sister likes the chocolate chip cookies. I’m getting a sugar cookie.”

“I’m thinking about buying a sticky bun for breakfast tomorrow.”

The man who seated them took her card and rang her up and asked if everything had been okay and UD said it had been.

UD heads up to Boston…

… for a Polish Christmas (oplatek-breaking, straw under the tablecloth, and, the next day, a small lunch with cold vodka).

Blogging continues unhampered through all of this.

The Wharton School: Where the Magic Happens!

At first, the FBI considered sending an agent to work undercover at one of the suspected hedge funds …

“We couldn’t get in. It was such a closed industry — much like an organized crime family — that it was difficult for the FBI to either introduce an undercover agent or recruit a cooperator.”

Corrupt traders relied upon secret alliances, longtime friendships and even sexual relationships.

… [Raj] Rajaratnam relied on Anil Kumar, a former McKinsey partner, and Rajiv Goel, a former managing director at Santa Clara, California-based Intel, whom he’d known for decades. All three attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

With all your faults, I love you still…

Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.

Neil Clark, The Guardian.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Privatizing Oppression

With a millionaire paying burqa fines in Europe, and a consortium of Israeli millionaires proposing to pay for private buses in which women will be forced to enter by a back door and to sit in the back, an intriguing new market in oppression seems to be opening up.

In the burqa model, governments stand to make huge sums; the Israeli model is pure free market capitalism.

Crucial to the success of both models is the enforcement of laws against the oppression of women, as well as a continued enthusiasm for crushing women.

The future looks bright.

How Memory Works

David Brooks includes, among this year’s winners of his Sidney Awards, an essay by Robert Boyers, editor of the quarterly Salmagundi.

Many years back, Boyers published an essay UD wrote, about living in Warsaw, and she’s always remembered his kind letter (“lots of good stuff in here”).

Boyers’ winning essay is about the novelist Charles Newman, with whom UD had dinner decades ago, in Chicago.

Boyers, in his memoir of Newman, makes much of his physical beauty, as do a number of people who, after his death in 2006, wrote about him.


From the long desk where she’s sitting now, at 2020 K Street, Washington DC, UD tries to summon Newman, across the table from her as he was that night in the ‘seventies. She tries to put him right over there, facing her, as he was then.

She remembers the restaurant, remembers thinking it was over-lit. The long dinner table had to do with several other people taking part in the event. UD remembers Elliott Anderson, also a writer, and Gerald Graff, an English professor. She’s thinking maybe eight people finally gathered.

Finally. The main thing UD recalls of that evening is Newman and his companions arriving incredibly, unapologetically, late. Since it was a dinner, UD and a number of others arrived only a little late; Newman rolled in two and a half hours after meeting time.

Although she must have just graduated from Northwestern, and therefore have been both young and quite junior to Newman, UD showed him her anger. She didn’t say anything. Saying anything would have been uncool, and this was a cool group. But she let her eyes register surprise, mild contempt.

In response, Newman let his eyes register an indifference that was at once indifference to UD‘s feelings (what she felt was that he was a celebrated novelist and she a nothing not worth showing up for) and indifference to UD as someone he might bed.

That part UD vividly recalls, because she didn’t respond to the beauty Boyers and others describe. Newman was a tall, strapping, all-American boy from the midwest. UD‘s taste ran to neurotic Jews and tormented Europeans. UD was attracted to her Rilke professor – a rotund, irritable, 65-year-old displaced Czech Jewish homosexual.

Plus, Newman was drunk and sleepy – he must have been late because he wanted to tank up – and sleepy drunks didn’t turn her on either.

Having piled on top of his lateness a pointless sexual diss, Newman at this point kind of shriveled up. UD viewed him for the rest of the evening through the mist (quoting Humbert Humbert here) of her utter rejection of him.

It was strange how quickly UD disliked Newman, because she’d entered the restaurant primed for admiration and sympathy. She liked his writing, fiction and non-fiction; she knew his wife had committed suicide. But whatever humanizing struggles he’d had in his life, Newman chose to show UD only the Stepford chill that went with his looks.


Stepford’s the wrong reference. This is a story about the ‘sixties, even if it took place in the ‘seventies.

A post-coital, post-chemical languor, a give-a-shit hipness, was the currency of the day. Chet Baker singing My Funny Valentine. Amy Winehouse singing anything. That was the mood. I care less than you care. My transgressions are more self-destructive.

Erich Heller, UD‘s Rilke professor, offered a different model – modernism instead of postmodernism. In Heller’s world, it was all out there; the angst was on the boil and you were actively trying to do something about it. In Newman’s world, which was the real world UD then moved in, the angst persisted, but you boiled it down with irony and a raggedy sense of the futility of it all. She preferred Heller’s way.

As always…

UD’s monthly reportage from her hometown, Garrett Park, Maryland. (Hers is the article headlined Attention!).

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