If you’ve read UD for even five minutes, you know she reviles Critical Race Theory.

Andrew Sullivan has done the talking for me on the subject. Read it all. To the last paragraph.

To expose propaganda is to defend liberal education, and to defend liberal culture. I’m thinking that like a lot of big shiny new things our big shiny new-obsessed country embraces, this latest one’s not long for this world. But we can certainly hasten its demise by fighting it at every turn.


Ghost professors haunt community colleges, but they’re probably flitting around at four-year places with online courses too.

When you add covid to the myriad excuses online instructors already have to sorta drop out of the whole show up and teach thing, you get an Army of Ghosts phenom — which is to say, not the routine only-half-there, give-a-shittery some distance profs exhibit, but actual, significant, increasingly noted and discussed, disappearance. Not the lazy deceitful hand most of the work off to subcontracted anonymous drudges thing, but simple total cutting and running.

“They’re not teaching, you don’t see them, they don’t do Zoom, they don’t have office hours,” said Santa Monica College political science student Jonnae Serrano. “I’ve had office hours where it’s completely text — I’m texting my professor, and waiting for her to get back to me.” … [Students] complain of professors who’ve given them a list of YouTube videos, produced by someone else, and questions as the teaching for the entire semester. [One student] said a “ghost professor” in her history class kept his camera off the three times she attended his online office hours.“I just stopped doing it because it was just talking to a screen.” … [Another student offered the revolutionary thought that] “If you’re requiring your students to do work and be present in your class, you should be present as well.” …

“In the defense of some of these so-called ghost professors, many people, you know, don’t have the formal online training,” [one professor] said.

Yes, and the response to not having medical training is to make appointments to treat people, and to go ahead and collect payment, but not to show up. Because, you know, you don’t have the formal training.

Things in my late spring garden that thrill/don’t thrill me.

In order of thrill:


Totally off the thrillist:

  1. DEER
Scathing Online Schoolmarm says:

Hana Schank’s essay about being in a car accident is first-rate.

Before the accident I went to yoga retreats and tried meditation. I said things like “I just need to unplug.” Apparently what I needed was to get hit by a truck. Perhaps I have discovered the secret to a peaceful mind, and it is traumatic brain injury.

‘“Coffee is relatively new,” he said, acknowledging the arbitrariness of the cutoff. “It’s 400 years old, but that’s 400 years of pretty good filtering, and it’s probably not bad for you.” Tea merits his highest compliment: It’s a “deep Lindy” beverage, with thousands of years of provenance.’

Tea is WAY ancient wisdom, and UD has always been happy to drink it by the gallon. Mr UD, a coffee man, has, under UD‘s influence, begun to drink quite a lot of tea too. For UD, it’s almost always a good black fruit brew: Harney & Sons Mango; Mariage Freres Marco Polo

This evening, for Bloomsday…

UD shared a Guinness with Mr UD at the dinner table (pad thai with shrimp from Noodles and Co., since you ask). Holding her little glass aloft, she said A toast to the greatest English-language writer the modern world has ever seen. James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, I love you, and I will never stop reading you.

Mr UD went on a bit, during the meal (pad thai without the shrimp), about Habermas, and the rather different form of communication about which he’s obsessed. Joycean internal monologues are all well and good; the stories we endlessly tell ourselves about ourselves as we walk around all day are all well and good; but the understanding of rationality to include communicative rationality, and, on that foundation, the elaboration of a discourse ethics, is just as crucial…

All day, UD‘s been playing and singing songs that appear in Joyce’s work (she just performed Sweet Rosie O’Grady).

UD has read from Joyce at the Irish Embassy, at the Cosmos Club, and at lots of other venues around DC. But some years seem to call for something more quiet. One year she took two of her GW students to an Irish bar. Sipping Guinness, we took turns reading favorite passages from Ulysses.

James Joyce is Mr UD‘s ninth cousin, twice removed.

This is exactly what should happen to a political candidate who boasts of his indifference to the educational welfare of tens of thousands of New York City children.

UD has watched with pleasure as Andrew Yang’s mayoral bid tanks. In a just political universe, you don’t brag that you’ll let cultists keep their children in ignorance, placing the burden of their support as lifetime unemployables on the New York taxpayer, without paying a heavy price. Good on you, NYC.

Couple this with events in Israel, and hey.

But hold onto your hat. Expect, in both cities, ultraorthodox riots. They’ll be really, really bad in Israel.

“Have you followed the news out of Czechia?” asked Mr UD this morning…

… as we ate breakfast while staring out the window at the hummingbirds who have found our crop of bee balm.

“Horrid terrorists. No.”

“Not Chechnya. Czechia.”

“Is that… the latest name for Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic, etc.?”


“Should I … ha-ha … czech it out?”

“Check out their Pirate Party. They might actually win the next election.”

“With a name like Pirate Party? Wow.”

So UD checked them out.


All members of the Pirate Party look like extras on the set of Easy Rider. (There is a tradition of this.) Except for their leader, who looks like Bo Derek. They are very cool, very anti-corruption, very personal liberty. When the current government refused to thank Taiwan for donating anti-covid medical supplies (wouldn’t want to offend China), the Pirate Party put up an enormous THANK YOU TAIWAN image during an anti-corruption rally.

Outdoor dining chez UD.
Sunbeams set UD’s woods aflame…

… on the morning after a big storm.

Snake in the Grass…

… or, in this case, in the deck umbrella, which Les UDs had left lying on its side for a couple of weeks. A moment ago, UD lifted the umbrella, and out slithered a large garter snake.

What can I say? While no puling sentimental sort, I’m not strong and silent either – indeed, on seeing the snake on her leg, UD let out a sharp and quite pathetic shriek — a kind of I’ve seen a mouse times ten. Then she shook her leg for all she’s worth babe and you better believe it.

Having flung the thing off, she raced back into the bedroom to explain to a shocked Mr UD why the fuck she screamed like that.

I should have been thinking about snakes. My old friend Bennett came by yesterday as he does most weekends for a break in his ridiculously long weekly bike ride – I serve iced tea and he brings goodies – and he remarked as he took off his helmet that lately on his marathons he’s been seeing scads of snakes. I’ve certainly seen plenty of snakes in our gardens in seasons past. But I guess I forgot about them or something. I was entirely unprepared for this visitation. Yikes.

Annals of Snobbery

“There are a lot of mediocre students at Yale who were superstars in their little county fairs, and now they’re in the Kentucky Derby and they’re not winning their races and they feel like it’s unfair because other students are doing better,” says one [Yale law school] faculty member…

One for the ages.

Today’s Giggle

“In Hasidic thought, lack of sufficient sexual mores is viewed as a literal barrier to the coming of the Messiah,” said Rabbi Ysoscher Katz, a former member of the Satmar Hasidic community, a particularly stringent ultra-Orthodox sect headquartered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Today, Katz chairs the Talmud department of a progressive Orthodox rabbinical school in the Bronx. “One yeshiva boy having a physical reaction to a woman’s picture is viewed as a grievous communal setback.”


Nietzsche Module, Yeshiva of Flatbush:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And Shmuley’s stiffy killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?”

Thus Sha-Wang! Zarathustra

UD’s ‘thesda Jollies

A lifelong denizen of Bethesda, Maryland (she remembers going to downtown ‘thesda with junior high school friends when it was a post office, a Hot Shoppes, and the Baronet Theater), UD enjoys the way ‘thesda’s wealth is threaded into news stories, especially in populist rags like The Daily Mail. You recall that, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation, his ‘thesdanienne provenance was, for some, just on its own, proof that he’s an entitled asshole.

And look at this breaking story from England. Look how ‘thesda plays a recurrent cameo role. And note UD’s bolding throughout.

A 25-year-old Stanford graduate who attended the prestigious DC school Sidwell Friends and is the son of a top commercial lawyer has enraged British politicians and sparked a free speech row in the UK by removing a portrait of the Queen from the students’ room at the Oxford college where he is getting his PhD. Matthew Katzman grew up in privilege in Bethesda, Maryland, a rich suburb of DC where he attended school with the Obama daughters, the Biden grandchildren and countless other politicians’ kids. After graduating from Sidwell in 2014, he studied math and theoretical computer science at Stanford, obtaining a masters in 2018. Katzman is now getting his PhD in computer science from Oxford, the historic university attended by British Prime Ministers.

This week, he sparked fury by leading calls to remove a portrait of the Queen from the common room at Magdalen College in his role as president of Magdalen’s Middle Common Room, an organization of around 200 graduate students. They decided between them that the portrait was ‘unwelcoming’ and represents ‘recent colonial history’. They’re going to replace it with ‘art by or of other influential and inspirational people’.

The decision has been blasted as ‘absurd’ by British politicians who say the young students ought to ‘show some respect’ for the 95-year-old Monarch. British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tweeted: ‘Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd. She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK. During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity & respect around the world.’

Katzman is the son of Scott and Sandy Katzman, both 65. His father is a partner at the commercial law firm Steptoe & Johnson. The family lives in a sprawling, $4million home in Bethesda. They have not yet commented on the row their son has unapologetically caused.

Let’s start with numbers. Between refers to something involving only two people; the writer should have used among, says Scathing Online Schoolmarm. And about that house value: Achingly, it’s only valued in the mid-threes (or even lower) rather than four by most of the assessment sites UD checked. On the other hand, it does indeed seem to sprawl.

Okay, so note how The Daily Mail has laid it on real thick, ‘thesdawise. Katzman’s top, rich, privileged and prestigious, with his race horses and castles and land … I mean with his fancy schools and affluent parents; and with all those advantages he still takes down a portrait of the Queen…

Amid the British rage Katzman has excited (the story’s burning up the wires), the president of Oxford College issues a calm and lucid statement of support. Short version: The kids are alright.

Ah hell. Let’s do the long version.

Here are some facts about Magdalen College and HM the Queen. The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don’t represent the College. A few years ago, in about 2013, they bought a print of a photo of the Queen to decorate their common room.

They recently voted to take it down. Both of these decisions are their own to take, not the College’s. Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR’S right to autonomy. Maybe they’ll vote to put it up again, maybe they won’t. Meanwhile, the photo will be safely stored.

Oh, and back to numbers for a minute. Most young Brits would like to do far more than take down the Queen’s portrait, so it clearly falls to the old farts to collapse onto their fainting couches when some college students start to mix things up. And while the Queen is indeed an impressive and even inspirational person, the larger royal family… ain’t as grody as the Spaniards, to be sure, but the Windsors have long contributed more than their share of louche behavior to the commonwealth, and people have a right to oppose them as heads of state if they like. UD understands that the prospect of Charles The Next has alarmed enough Brits that many would like the crown to leapfrog over him to his blander, grander, son.

Anyway, what you’ve got here is dueling elitisms – premodern and postmodern. Katzman embodies the global reign of the symbolic analysts; Elizabeth is… from another time.

Nasty Habit.

A nun who took a vow of poverty before taking over as principal at a Catholic elementary school has admitted to siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school to pay for “gambling expenses,” the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

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