December 31st, 2019
From “New Year Poem,” by Philip Larkin

For sometimes it is shown to me in dreams
The Eden that all wish to recreate
Out of their living, from their favourite times;
The miraculous play where all the dead take part,
Once more articulate; or the distant ones
They will never forget because of an autumn talk
By a railway, an occasional glimpse in a public park,
Any memory for the most part depending on chance.

December 31st, 2019
“Mixed cloud and sun” sounds pretty meh when you read it off of a ten-day forecast page…

… but then you get to the Atlantic coast and quickly realize that in this setting, mixed cloud and sun is gorgeous, exciting! From their second-floor balcony, Les UDs gawk at the sudden opening of the sky to sharp clear sunlight, which studs the gray waves with silver/white and shimmers the sand. Then the curtain falls and the moody blues are back, and your eye goes to the happy people on the boardwalk – people who get that being here now surpasses being here in August. They wear thin sweats in the mild weather, and as they walk some of them consider what it means to have come to the end of another year.

Some of them wear shorts and tee shirts: The 17th Annual Race into the New Year is about to start.

Me? When I got to our apartment last night, I discovered that my phone wouldn’t recharge and my laptop wouldn’t turn on. Mr UD was at the outlets picking up food and an extra blanket, so I fumed alone.

As I fumed, it occurred to me to get the hell out of the apartment and walk. Walk away. Take a humanity bath.

The boardwalk was very dark, and few people walked it. We couldn’t see one another – just bundled up bodies in motion. Yet as each of these solitary specters passed, they wished UD a happy new year. Virtually each one of them! As she trilled happy wishes back, UD‘s fuming went up in smoke.

Mr UD fixed all of her phone and laptop problems when he got back.

Mr UD eats breakfast, wears his Mather House sweatshirt, and anxiously awaits the start of the race.

December 30th, 2019
Les UDs are off once again…

… to Rehoboth Beach, where they will join friends to see in the New Year. Blogging persists throughout.

December 30th, 2019
If you’re a scandal sheet like University Diaries…

… nothing makes you happier than scandals involving religious universities, places that often wear their piety on a very self-righteous sleeve. Obviously it’s more fun when those places (rather than yucky secular schools like the University of Miami) turn out to be fraud-ridden hellholes run by sordid people of the cloth. Think back over our posts covering Yeshiva University, Baylor, Seton Hall, St. John’s, St. Louis, Southern Methodist…

Schools that have never hidden their trashy nature – Liberty, for instance – don’t make the list because they’re so overtly icky that they don’t even qualify for hypocritical. (Put the names of any of these schools in my search engine for wonderfully stomach-churning details.)

Wheeling Jesuit, or whatever the wreck is calling itself these days, has a real place of honor on the Gruesome Godly list, having for years been run by a dissolute cabal headed by jacked up jesuit AND HEAD OF THE ENTIRE WEST VIRGINIA CATHOLIC CHURCH Michael Bransfield. The details of his depravity – in the article I just linked to – are, even by church standards, pretty remarkable. But as I’ve endlessly pointed out, whether it’s Jewish Yeshiva or Catholic Wheeling, you don’t get there without large all-male incredibly parochial boards of trustees and boosters making the world safe for the very vilest among us.

December 29th, 2019
Let us…


December 28th, 2019
Back from Boston…

… to the land of pumpkin-eating squirrels.

December 28th, 2019
Scathing Online Schoolmarm

Rehoboth Beach is Delaware’s most overrated destination mainly due to the cost of parking and its exuberant enforcement of parking meters.  

At least they ticket joyfully.

December 27th, 2019
Wouldn’t it be loverly?

[T]here are now signs of a new secular wave breeding in the Muslim world… [W]e are speaking of a bottom-up trend, coming from society, from people fed up with all the ugly things done in the name of religion.

December 27th, 2019
‘One notable campaign was the struggle against female genital mutilation (FGM), which gathered pace through the decade.’

Yes, it did. Certainly some European countries are stepping up efforts to throw parents who do this to their children in prison. But that action against a long-established global assault on the youngest and most vulnerable can at best, in an end-of-year roundup, be said to be gathering pace is its own sort of scandal.

December 27th, 2019
‘Lmaooo EMU smacking refs’

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when Eastern Michigan University was arguably the most pathetic of America’s many pathetic football schools. But now. Now! Not only does their quarterback hit out so wildly at opposing players that he clocks the referee; another player gets ejected for spitting on an opponent.

Life of the mind, my beloved country. Life of the mind.

December 27th, 2019
More on the Long-Running …

… Trubu Show.

[Joe] Lockhart … said Trump should add Michael Avenatti to a defense team of Rudy Giuliani and Alan Dershowitz for the “Three Stooges defense.”

December 26th, 2019
The Staircase at…

Tatte, in Harvard Square. Les UDs are on their way back home to ‘thesda.

December 25th, 2019
La Kid, in front of our Boston Hotel, wearing various Christmas presents, on Christmas Day.
December 25th, 2019
Mind-forg’d Manacles in a Cloud of Unknowing.

UD‘s Christmas thoughts, as she wanders thro’ each charter’d Boston street thinking of the dead (who said – was it Saul Bellow? – that at a certain age every other thought should be of the dead?) — thinking, that is, of people whose efforts to understand themselves and the world are over… UD‘s thoughts are all about the pretty unliftable fog we move in forever. Love Lifted Me goes the great gospel song, and it’s pretty to think so.

Truly pretty are the great stories – our greatest stories – that settle us deeply into the fog, right in the thick heart of the cloud – and let us abide there: John Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” whose drunken-boat drunk, Neddy Merrill, gets his name from Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream. Kafka’s “The Judgement,” whose main character knows nothing of his appalling fate until seconds before he peremptorily carries it out. Kleist’s baffled Marquis of O, or the dreadful demented brothers in “Saint Cecilia, or the Power of Music” – these are characters who struggle to exist at all inside the wall of Kleist’s endless discursive paragraphs. John Marcher’s mind-forg’d frigidity and fear finds itself similarly barely situated within the thick masterful paragraphs of Henry James.

O Lost.

December 24th, 2019
‘Even though the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of religion, this does not give carte blanche to people to do anything they want by claiming that it is religious practice.’

Lise Ravary, a writer for the Montreal Gazette, makes the simple, crucial argument UD‘s been making since Blog Day One: Despite Katha Pollitt’s lazy claim that “religion is what people make of it,” religion actually isn’t anything people might claim it is. All sorts of acts, ranging from socially destructive to barbaric, are routinely defended as religious, and secular societies have an obligation to scrutinize these acts and when appropriate call them legally out of bounds.

“When she wanted to get the party going, a very progressive lawyer friend of mine liked to argue that female genital mutilation is none of the state’s business and should be allowed under the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms],” notes Ravary, who shares UD‘s incredulity that any self-respecting state would let this progressive lawyer have her way. Few things are more subject to state concern than large-scale physical assault against children.

States similarly have the right – again, I’d say the obligation – to respond to the desire of the people to sustain their secular identity in social places where this seems important. Thus, the bill Ravary talks about, which forbids religious symbols, “applies only to public service workers in positions of authority, including teachers, police officers, prison guards and Crown prosecutors, while they are at work.” So this means no, you cannot wear a niqab and teach at the same time; and if you are unable to imagine life in the social world without your niqab on you at all times, you are going to be unable to teach in the Quebec public sector. This is of course true of many other localities, including France and England.

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