Saturday, December 31, 2005
SNAPSHOTS FROM HOME|
AND AWAY FROM HOME
UD’s back in town…
…after pleasant stays in Cambridge, Mass (weirdly sunny and warm) and then the mountains of western Maryland, where she and the family unit gazed at clouds and sun over Lake Habeeb from their fifth floor room at the Rocky Gap Lodge.
(subtract golf, add snow)
The best part was rediscovering Cumberland, Maryland, an architectural delight, and a great town for train lovers. Here’s one for you, Cold Spring Shops:
Now that it finally looks as though it's going to happen...|
...allow me to reproduce in full a very early post from this blog -- written around New Year's, two years back:
THE BOOK IMPERATIVE
But things happen so slowly! Here's the very latest, from Inside Higher Ed.
IT’S ALL OVER BUT|
Clyde Barrow, chairman of the policy studies department at U. Mass Dartmouth, wants heads to roll in the aftermath of the embarrassing Little Red Book hoax on his campus. He calls the professors who passed on a student’s absurd claim about government harassment to the mainstream media part of a "dogmatic and zealous group" at the school of “politically correct but chic anti-Americans.” (“but” chic? I thought it was chic to be politically correct.) One of the hoax-enablers dubbed Barrow’s language "incendiary," and said he thinks Barrow is "unstable."
In fact UD has heard that this same history professor is sharing with a small group of journalists an astounding piece of information he’s picked up from another University of Massachusetts student: Professor Barrow is … THE SON OF CLYDE CHESNUT BARROW OF BONNIE AND CLYDE FAME!
Bullet-pocked car reputed to belong
to Professor Clyde Barrow's father.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
UD WAS CHATTING…|
…while she was up in Cambridge, about a woman who’d been offered a junior faculty position at Yale and turned it down for a fine though less fancy university in the Midwest.
Her decision may seem surprising, but many junior faculty offered jobs at Ivy League schools make the same one, because the Ivies tend not to tenure from within. If you’re hot enough to get an untenurable position at Yale, Princeton, or Harvard, you’re probably hot enough to get a tenurable one from another excellent university.
UD doesn’t know whether David Graeber, the Yale anthropology professor who’s made a lot of noise lately about his non-renewal there, was offered other such jobs when he was on the market. But then there’s so much one doesn’t know about the murky Graeber story that it’s remarkable people keep writing about it.
Final script approval on the Graeber thing involves a man whose wild anarchistic ways were too threatening to staid old Yale, bastion of effete apoliticals like Glenda Gilmore and Bruce Ackerman.
"So many academics lead such frightened lives," Graeber says in an interview in the New York Times this morning. "The whole system sometimes seems designed to encourage paranoia and timidity. I wasn't willing to live like that."
Yet Yale’s particular junior faculty system, again, is well-known -- if you accept a job there you almost certainly won’t get tenure. You’ll get six years or so of excellent students and colleagues, and time to do the research which will stand you in good stead when you go back on the market. There’s none of the uncertainty and darkness that might encourage paranoia or timidity; everything’s quite open and straightforward. “It says something about Dr. Graeber's sense of politics," a fellow junior faculty member at Yale remarks in the NYTimes article, "that he seems to take this as an individual, personal thing rather than taking a more anthropological view of the nature of the system that affects all junior scholars at Yale."
UD figures this vague story remains compelling to newspapers because it seems to fit a perennially attractive conflictual scenario -- the one between bold revolutionary spirits and conventional repressive institutions. At the end of its article, the NYTimes trots out Stanley Aronowitz to announce that "places like Yale are not for people like David Graeber. He's a public intellectual. He speaks out. He participates. He's not someone who simply does good scholarship; he's an activist and a controversial person." But there are plenty of such people at Yale. UD thinks Aronowitz has been as snowed by this grandstander as he was by Alan Sokal.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
...the most embarrassing Little Red Book article UD has seen so far. The author's byzantine effort to make a senseless claim make sense is worth reading in full.
ANOTHER RESPONSE TO|
DECLINING RATES OF LITERACY
AMONG COLLEGE GRADUATES
The Christian Science Monitor, editorializing about the now-notorious college graduate literacy study, mentions that “a 19-member national panel, set up by the secretary of education and known as the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, is looking seriously at recommending that colleges accepting federal money be held accountable for their educational results.” Reasonably enough, the CSM also argues that “federal and state taxpayers … should be entitled to know which colleges efficiently and effectively use government aid to achieve the best results. [The government should] put money into institutions that achieve basic benchmarks in the quality of graduates produced. Schools that object can decline federal money.”
Monday, December 26, 2005
Via Butterflies and Wheels|
...comes a reminder that France too has made a few stabs at regulating psychotherapists (see UD's post below, titled "Ed Husserl, Phenomenologist," about New York Magazine's report on pending new regulations for therapists in New York). Again, I'll link more intelligently when I'm back in Garrett Park, but for the moment it's worth noting that the French haven't been able to accomplish what New York has -- a modicum of control over a mass of questionable activities...
Ophelia Benson's interest (shared by UD) in charlatanism draws her to the ongoing story in America and abroad of tussles among the brain doctors... and between brain doctors and insurance companies / subsidizing governments. UD's interest extends to the curricular and institutional implications of these pressures. What becomes of psych departments when fewer and fewer people and agencies will pay for their several groundless approaches? Will reputable universities review the magical-thinking elements of their psych curricula and drop them?
And when will intelligent design advocates and the like figure out that they can make a case for inclusion of their approach in higher education based upon its having equivalent empirical value to much of the established psych curriculum?
Instant Update: Today's New York Times (Science Times section, front page) reports on a recent "landmark meeting" on "the state of psychotherapy, its current challenges and its future." Headlined "Psychotherapy Field Is on the Road to... Where?", the article expresses the bafflement most observers feel when they survey professional psychotherapy.
For their convocation, the assembled therapists chose Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams, impersonated by Robin Williams in a film. The reporter describes his opening remarks:
Adams displayed on a giant projection screen photos from around the world of burned children, starving children, diseased children, some lying in their own filth. He called for a 'last stand of loving care' to prevail over the misery in the world, its wars, and 'our fascistic government.' Overcome by his own message, Dr. Adams eventually fell to the floor of the stage in tears.
Stunning Appalling Astounding Disturbing|
The adjectives are beginning to roll in on the college graduate literacy story, about which UD has already blogged. The adjectives in this post's title come from a Washington Post article (washingtonpost.com, education section), in which various experts and observers express consternation over the basic finding, which is that huge numbers of college graduates, never mind non-college graduates, lack basic reading comprehension. As one commentator says, this was not a test of your ability to understand Proust. It was a test of your ability to read two opposed newspaper opinion pieces and tell them apart.
Though not really surprising - despite all those adjectives - this is certainly a scandal. Millions of Americans are going into debt so their children can spend four years eroding their intellect.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
V STRONG EGO|
A recent post about psychotherapists reminded UD of her months working for Professor Erika Fromm, a hypnotherapist at the University of Chicago. This was so long ago that UD remembers using purply ditto paper on the correspondence she typed for her.
Erika was a psychologist through and through. UD was at Erika's Hyde Park apartment one afternoon (it was dominated by a grand piano on which sat inscribed photographs of Leonard Bernstein and Pierre Boulez - Paul Fromm, Erika's husband, was a serious patron of modern music) and happened to see the piece of paper on which she'd written her impressions of UD as she interviewed her for the job as Erika's assistant. "V STRONG EGO" she'd written of our UD.
And it's a funny thing -- I mean, not just a funny sort of thing to have written, but funny in its effects. UD had in fact wavered for years on the question of whether she was a strong or weak person, but when she saw that piece of paper she thought, "Heigh-ho. If you say so." The statement was absurd, but UD decided on the spot to take it as a sort of confirmation...
The ego was sorely tried, though, working for Erika. My office was a thin wall across from hers, and her droning voice as she put various patients under hypnosis (her patients were mainly grad students trying to calm themselves for big exams, and/ or trying to quit smoking) worked on me too... Not that I ever went under; but I recall being terribly bored by the correspondence I had to type up, and listening with prurient interest to the murmurings going on nearby... Sometimes I fell into a light trance...
I quit that job. The little office was stifling; the little world of anxiety and compulsion it housed was depressing. Although the University of Chicago obituary of her I just read (she died two years ago, at 93) describes her hypnotherapeutic approach as much less gloomy than Freudian psychoanalysis, it was plenty gloomy by UD's standards, at least when you were sitting inches away from it.
Whenever UD suggests...|
...that a badly or oddly written op/ed piece apparently from the pen of a prominent Washingtonian was likely written not by him or her but by a staff ghost-writer, she offends some readers, who think she is being cynical and unfair. But, as the first post at andrewsullivan.com this morning reminds us, the practice is routine 'round here.
Via Erin O'Connor|
...comes confirmation of the Little Red Book hoax.
UD hadn't yet posted on the matter, being a veteran hoax-watcher and finding the detail in this one that the American college student apparently hounded by the feds was surveilled for reading Mao's book of all things much too neat.
Recall UD's earlier post -- I can't do links on this computer, but you can search for it using a keyword or two -- listing the likely signs of a hoax. One of them is that a crucial detail fits much too well. In this case, UD's eyebrows shot right up when she read that the student claimed the government came after him for reading the little red book.
Why? Because a hoaxster will choose something exactly like the Mao book -- known to everyone, inarguably subversive according to some simpleminded standard, etc. -- to make the center of his hoax.
Of course the larger irony of this hoax is that the hoaxster chose wrong on two levels. Not only did the obviousness of the book choice make UD's (and other people's) eyebrows shoot way up; but the absurdity of choosing a book our government presumably finds as dead and pointless as everyone else didn't help him out much.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
...reporting from TeaLuxe in Cambridge, which is still in business, despite my worries about it this time last year. As always, UD's with family in and around Harvard Square at the moment. Regular posting will resume shortly.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
UD’s Quick Take…|
on a profile of
“While many of her journalistic peers got carried away in the 60s, Didion wrote with a cool head in accordance with the principle that the lower the temperature of her prose, the higher the emotional voltage it could carry.”
“Her self-possession is such that the mere act of breathing in her presence feels like a vulgar transgression.”
A bit de trop.
ED HUSSERL, |
New York Magazine reports that a new law will subject bogus NY psychotherapists to a $5,000 fine and possibly malpractice suits if they continue to call themselves psychotherapists but don’t have a master’s degree and a license.
State Assemblyman Steven Sanders, who sponsored the bill, proclaimed that it would solve the problem that “anybody could advertise themselves as a psychotherapy something-or-other, and you didn’t know who you were going to.”
“When you’ve gone to school in the sixties [the era of good feelings, psychotherapy-wise] and they want verification, it’s very difficult,” one of the uncredentialed says. “The professors I had are dead.”
“Therapists,” the New York writer points out, “could decide to skirt the law by calling themselves ‘emotional educators’ or ‘life coaches.’ But neither sounds quite as prestigious.” (As ‘therapist’?)
One guy, who at $350 a session is helping non-qualifying therapists with their certification efforts, says: “For those who don’t get through on this, I’m going to work with them to set up other practices. They can be phenomenologists. That’s a term that no one’s familiar with, but it sounds impressive. In Jersey, people go, ‘Is that a therapist?’ No, no, this is much more powerful!”
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
TWO PHRASES TO WATCH|
1. Naïve Purity Standard
A quick Google search confirms UD’s sense that a phrase used by a defender of writers like Doug Bandow and Peter Ferrara, who sell their opinions to the highest bidder, is making its way into general speech. People who attack the practice of op/ed columnists prostituting themselves to lobbyists, this person complained, are applying a "naive purity standard" to what those in the know understand to be the dirty business of editorial opinion placement.
The moment UD read this neat little phrase she thought “A million Mogadishus!” Just as that alliterative beaut, coined by a Columbia University professor, neatly encapsulated lethal hatred of the American military, so “naïve purity standard” encapsulates the wink-wink cynicism of the Washington operative. UD predicts it will have a long shelf life.
2. Committee on Cultural Competence
Syracuse is the first university to take the Orwellian phrase “cultural competence” and turn it into the name of a committee which will almost certainly censor student news content on campus.
The authorities at Syracuse insist that the just-formed Committee on Cultural Competence will "assist the [student news] organization with matters of content, perspective and tone."
But see the thing is, as one campus observer points out, "Those sorts of boards can quickly become censorship boards….That's a terrific danger, particularly on a college campus where the administration feels entitled to interfere with student media."
“Committee on Cultural Competence” has a French Revolution ring to it, like Robespierre’s “Committee on Public Safety.” This titillating provenance, plus its alluring alliteration, will, I predict, inspire other colleges and universities to appoint Committees on Cultural Competence of their own.
...a Republican Bush appointee, rules powerfully against intelligent design.
Not that this will change the opinion of thousands of university professors that America is a hopeless fundamentalist wasteland...
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
There's Always Botstein|
John Merrow has an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor in which he notices that the public intellectual university presidents of yesteryear (think Kerr, Brewster, and Hutchins) have been replaced (with few excep... actually, Merrow can't think of any exceptions) by vague nonentities.
How could the public know the names of higher education leaders, who are largely silent on the great issues of the day? Today's presidents only get noticed if they say something outrageous (Harvard's Lawrence Summers's comments about women and science), live too lavishly (former American University President Benjamin Ladner), or make millions (Lynn University's Donald Ross). …Presidents I met said they devoted much of their time to fundraising, often to build dormitories with wi-fi, athletic facilities with climbing walls, and stadiums with luxury boxes.
Merrow notes that few of them have had anything to say about the ongoing controversy over teaching intelligent design:
[T]he overwhelming silence on this topic, among others, shows just how far higher education has slipped from its pedestal. Greater leadership in public debate on critical issues is what's needed to stop academia's declining prestige, not a fixation on the bottom dollar.
To be fair, most college and university presidents have always been genial political sorts rather than great public debaters. But it is notable that, as Merrow suggests, it’s hard to think of any consistently strong voice among them (the late Bartlett Giamatti of Yale was impressive, though).
UD can think of one strong-voiced contemporary American college president: Leon Botstein of Bard. (Bard’s website has a wonderful welcome page.) Outspoken on the subject of education, Botstein is also an extremely talented musician.
UD Freely Admits|
She Didn't Think
Was Cool Enough
To Write a Satire
“As soon as she|
reconnects with her llamas,
Susan feels a sense of peace."
I've been having this recurring nightmare. I am trapped in a tiny room full of very dull people. They look a little bit like me -- played out, slightly decrepit. They can't stop talking about themselves and how tough things are for them. Their aging parents are a burden. Their children don't appreciate them. The talk is about money, money, money.
Life is But a Dream|
I know a couple with two boys, ages three and five, and every time the boys go for a ride in the Land Rover, they are carefully strapped in to very safe child seats. In front of each of the boys is a big tv screen -- that is, each boy has his own screen -- which is turned on for the duration of the trip.
They are carefully strapped in and made to watch nothing but jigging images on a loud colorful screen. Eyes riveted. Indifferent to the world whizzing by, not looking at a picture book or talking to their parents. Not even sharing a screen, but, from the age of three, secured within the streaming dream world of each.
When the boys get where they’re going - toy store, kiddie haircut salon, doctor’s office, ice cream parlor - there are televisions everywhere. When they get home, the multiple televisions in their big house, including those in their bedrooms, are always on.
How surprised do you plan to be when these wealthy children test semi-literate after graduating from an expensive private college?
“The issue,” a professor writes in today’s Inside Higher Ed, talking about the study everyone is talking about, “is the declining ability to learn. The problem we face, in all but the most privileged institutions, is a pronounced and increasing deficiency of student readiness, knowledge, and capacity. …the inability of students to assimilate information at all."
Sure, there’s a public transportation strike on…|
…but it’s a chance to stay home and read the New York Daily News headlines:
SON IS ALIVE -
MOM IS HOPING
HE KILLS HIMSELF
Update: Ferrara’s Fine Italian Hand|
[For background, scroll down to "Hubba Hubba."]
My man has issued a statement in his own defense. Neither UD nor Reuters can make sense of it. Here’s Reuters’ take:
In a prepared statement, Ferrara said he had not accepted payments from Abramoff or other lobbyists for his op-ed articles for several years and he relied only on think tanks and other policy outfits where he works for financial support.
The clarification would involve Ferrara’s parsing “supporting my work,” and “contributing to my work” in his statement. Does he mean supporting in the way a doting mother might be supportive? Does he mean contributing in the sense of editorial suggestions from likeminded thinkers?
Or does he mean - which seems likelier - that he, Peter Ferrara, has held certain political positions for many years, and that if you, agreeing with his positions, choose to respond to one of his columns by writing him a check for a few thousand dollars, that’s fine by him.
Happy the opinion writer whose work generates large checks from random impressed citizens! But are they just citizens, or are they lobbyists? Ferrara does not take up the distinction in his statement.
Yet it seems extremely important to UD. Right now she’s imagining herself holding a check for ten thousand dollars in her hand. It’s made out to her. It has arrived in the mail from someone who writes: “I love your take on the undergraduate literature curriculum! Here!” Is it from her Aunt Tillie, or the publisher of the Norton Anthology?
Monday, December 19, 2005
UD likes to keep an eye…|
…on doings at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, where she was a student for awhile, before she transferred into NU’s English department. (Details here.) In an Inside Higher Ed piece noting the shift away from writing and toward marketing at Medill, the incoming dean’s quoted as saying that traditional media’s slowness to embrace new technology and consumer preferences “put(s) at risk having an informed society.”
This awkwardly phrased cliché tells us what we need to know about the new dean’s commitment to writing. It also tells us how out of touch with his consumers he is, since he believes they are informed. He also believes that sucking up to them will produce higher degrees of informedness.
UD wishes also to respond to this comment, from another NU journalism professor (emeritus) who reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with caring about the consumer. Journalists, after all, “are not Emily Dickinson writing poetry on backs of envelopes, not caring whether anybody reads them.”
1.) Emily Dickinson cared whether anybody read her.
2.) I don’t know whether Dickinson wrote poetry on the backs of envelopes, but people certainly write Dickinson on the front of envelopes.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Now if only Derek Bok|
had written this.
The concept of a university has become defunct. Not even the highflying, elite institutions operate with a serious concept of it.
Professor of moral philosophy at Kings College, University of London,
and professor of philosophy at the Australian Catholic University
…kindly forwards a Boston Globe opinion piece written by former Harvard president Derek Bok. Its style is way too mealy-mouthed for UD - vague in its description of the problem at issue and smarmy in its reassurance that solving the problem will be fun all around. But under the platitudes there’s some stuff in the piece that’s worth mentioning and thinking about.
Said problem is the one that’s all the rage in higher ed news lately -- the study showing that a lot of American college graduates are just as benighted after they graduate as they were when first they trod upon the quad.
College is supposed to teach you, says Bok, “critical thinking, moral reasoning, quantitative literacy.” But, to take one instance, “most undergraduates leave college still inclined to approach unstructured ‘real life’ problems with a form of primitive relativism, believing that there are no firm grounds for preferring one conclusion over another.” This means in practice that if asked to think and argue critically about, say, the existence of Mormon men in the United States who marry rafts of thirteen year old girls, many American college graduates will say or write, “That’s their thing. It’s not my thing. But it’s their thing.”
Derek Bok finds this unimpressive.
Yet some professors teach primitive relativism; and even if they don’t, it’s encoded in the DNA of the cultural competence and diversity training fundamental to the environment of most American universities that even elementary acts of judgment and reasoned preference are abominations. Add to these influences the gelatinous mass that makes up the curriculum of many of our colleges, and you see why the reigning moral philosophy of some of our 21-year-olds is playdoh relativism.
“Critics of American colleges,” Bok writes, “typically attribute the failings of undergraduate education to a tendency on the part of professors to neglect their teaching to concentrate on research. In fact, the evidence does not support this thesis, except perhaps in major research universities. Surveys show that most faculty members prefer teaching to research and spend much more time at it.”
Yeah, but that’s a pretty big except. There are tons of major research universities out there, and most universities with which UD’s familiar are totally dedicated to making themselves bigtime research institutions if they’re not yet… It’s a little rich of Bok, who oversaw one of the most Darwinian of major research universities, to argue that American professors must now throw heart and soul into teaching… unless they’re at a major research or wannabe major research institution…
Bok, whose main point is that our undergraduates will only improve when professors incorporate the results of studies on best teaching practices into their classroom performances, complains that “Freshly minted PhDs typically teach the way their favorite professors taught. This pattern introduces a strong conservative bias into college instruction, a bias reinforced by the tendency of many faculties to regard the choice of teaching methods as the exclusive prerogative of individual professors rather than a fit subject for collective deliberation.”
Coupla things. What’s wrong with teaching the way the professors who inspired you taught? UD sees nothing retro in this. Perhaps Bok is arguing - as many restlessly innovating ed school people argue - that any established form, in this fast-paced ever-changing land of ours, is due for the dumpster. Bok dislikes lecturing, for instance, because our attention-deficient audiences can’t be expected to sit still and listen to extended arguments without bells and whistles. Better to get up there and bark like a dog.
But you don’t teach college students by crawling into their world and trying to replicate it. You teach them by introducing them to new worlds.
Deconstructing a |
The University of Southern California law school has a huge half-page ad in today’s New York Times, Week in Review section, page 7. (This is the online page in question, without the ad.) They’re looking for a dean. The ad is crammed with self-flattering statistics and mucho invocations of the words “outstanding,” top,” and “exceptional.”
Does USC really think that this hugely expensive ad is the way to attract candidates?
“Of course not,” said Mr. UD, when UD asked him this question. “It’s a way of advertising the school.”
“A way of telling everyone that they’re outstanding top exceptional…”
“Yes. But if you’re truly all those things, you don’t advertise.”
“Though he possesses a Yale BA and honorary doctorate, our president is semi-literate at best. He once boasted of never having read a book through, even at Yale. Henry James was affronted when he met President Theodore Roosevelt; what could he have made of George W Bush?”
Harold Bloom, The Guardian
What could we have made - what can we make? - of Yale University, that it happily graduated not only George Bush but -- in fairness, Harold Bloom might have mentioned this about his (and my) candidate -- the every bit as horrible Yale student, John Kerry?
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Forget Cato’s Doug Bandow, who, called on it by a reporter, admitted that he’d prostituted himself to lobbyist-in-doodoo Jack Abramoff -- and for all of $2,000 a column!
A senior scholar at the Cato Institute, the respected libertarian research organization, has resigned after revelations that he took payments from the lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for writing columns favorable to his clients. The scholar, Doug Bandow, who wrote a column for the Copley News Service in addition to serving as a Cato fellow, acknowledged to executives at the organization that he had taken money from Mr. Abramoff after he was confronted about the payments by a reporter from BusinessWeek Online.
He’s all contrite now -- quit his position, blah blah.
It’s another guy mentioned in the same New York Times article that UD finds herself fantasizing about:
A second scholar, Peter Ferrara, of the Institute for Policy Innovation, acknowledged in the same BusinessWeek Online piece that he had also taken money from Mr. Abramoff in exchange for writing certain opinion articles. But Mr. Ferrara did not apologize for doing so. "I do that all the time," Mr. Ferrara was quoted as saying. He did not reply to an e-mail message seeking comment on Friday.
I do that all the time, he scoffed! Come and get me coppers! UD likes this guy’s style and wants to marry him.
He even has a blog! It’s been rather somnolent since March. Fire it up again, Pete!
A Double Flowering|
From LSU Beat:
LSU point guard Tack Minor's suspension for academic dishonesty has been prolonged another day. He will not play against Louisiana-Lafayette in tonight's 7 o'clock game at the Maravich Assembly Center as LSU previously reported
From today’s New York Times :
Occasionally, however, authors' interactions with their bloggers prove fruitful. Cass Sunstein read a discussion of one of his articles about conservative judicial radicalism on The Volokh Conspiracy, a group blog organized by Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in which Sunstein was invited to respond. "We had an interesting exchange and there were a lot of comments," said Sunstein, who teaches law at the University of Chicago. The discussion even spurred him to make changes to Radicals in Robes, the book he was writing at the time. "There's no question that 'Radicals in Robes' was affected by a kind of pre-publication review on a blog," he said.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Another Memory of Wayne Booth|
From a letter to the University of Chicago alumni magazine:
I never took an official course taught by Wayne Booth… but during my years at the U of C, he became one of the most important figures in my life.
1. Go to www.google.com.
2. Type in "French military victories."
3. Hit "I'm Feeling Lucky."
[Thanks to JD]
Cold Spring Shops tells me
it’s Beethoven’s birthday.
UD’s father spent a good deal
of his life trying to figure out how to play
the Sonata Pathetique properly.
He passed on to UD
this happy task.
Why Is This Happening?|
From today's Baltimore Sun:
More Americans are getting college degrees than they did about a decade ago, but skills in reading and analyzing data among the well-educated have dropped significantly, according to a national report on literacy released yesterday.
“The IHE audience is now huge -- the exact numbers are a state secret, though it's a fair guess that they will soon be higher than those for any print publication to which I've contributed on a regular basis,” writes Scott McLemee.
Here’s an excellent place to start reading Inside Higher Ed, in case you haven’t yet joined the crowd.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
This was it, the Korean stamp celebrating that nation’s stem cell breakthrough. But all-curative stem cell techniques are not just around the corner. The research behind the breakthrough was fabricated.
[Thanks to David.]
See if you can make sense…|
of this article from a Swedish newspaper:
Uppsala University has cleared feminist academic Eva Lundgren of scientific dishonesty after an inquiry into controversial claims she made during a TV documentary earlier in the year.
Maybe you’re swifter than I am, but I had to read this twice. Slowly. The crucial distinction seems to be between research claims that are lies and research claims that are garbage… Lundgren’s thrilled to be cleared of the lying and unconcerned that her research is garbage… Am I missing something here?
THE REALLY BIG THING|
Via The Valve, this interview with Philip Roth in The Guardian thrills the aesthete in me and dismays the pedant. I mean, I love this exchange:
So where does the real Philip Roth end, and where does literature begin?
Aesthetic jolt is just the ticket. But then he has to overdo it:
I would be wonderful with a 100-year moratorium on literature talk, if you shut down all literature departments, close the book reviews, ban the critics. The readers should be alone with the books, and if anyone dared to say anything about them, they would be shot or imprisoned right on the spot.
The problem with shutting down the literature departments and killing the critics, is people’ll start to make mistakes. Like, at one point in the interview, Roth says:
As Henry James said on his deathbed: 'Ah, here it comes, the big thing.'
“The big thing” seems a bit vulgar for James, even on his deathbed. What James said was, “So this is it at last: the distinguished thing.”
Does Philip Roth care that he has Henry James saying something on his deathbed more likely to have been said by Ed Sullivan? Perhaps not. But UD is happy there are still a few literary snots who do.
Life and Death|
Of an English Major
One of UD’s heroes, Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire, died today. He was in his nineties and had had Alzheimer’s for ages. He graduated from Yale in 1938, an English major.
His first-rate writing in part accounted for the impact his Golden Fleece Awards had. He wrote them up in funny ways. He gave them annually to federally funded projects that seemed to him particularly wasteful, as when, in 1978, the Department of Education “spent $219,592 to develop a curriculum to teach college students how to watch television.”
He was one of those stubborn impossible people, unpleasant as a personality, hyperproficient as a legislator. “In more than two decades, Proxmire did not travel abroad on Senate business and he returned more than $900,000 from his office allowances to the Treasury…. Proxmire made a point of accepting no contributions. In 1982 he registered only $145.10 in campaign costs, yet gleaned 64 percent of the vote.”
He killed the SST supersonic jet airliner, which looks prescient. He fought for and won important anti-genocide legislation.
"Ralph K. Huitt, [a] former UW political scientist, described Proxmire as well as anyone in a scholarly publication more than 30 years ago. 'The essence would seem to be a driving ambition to succeed, to which almost everything else in his life is subordinated, coupled with a puritan's belief in the sanctity of unremitting work,' Huitt wrote."
Another longtime observer says: “He was incorruptible."
UD finds this description of him toward the end of his life moving. Did she see him, she wonders, as she read newspapers in the same reading room? She would have been able to tell him how much she admired him.
Despite his progressively worsening condition, Proxmire for years traveled most days from his home in northwest Washington, D.C., to the Library of Congress, where he would read newspapers in the reading room named after Wisconsin Progressive Robert La Follette.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
An “obscure provision tucked into the budget-reconciliation bill …would cut off … student loans” to three Caribbean for-profit medical schools that cater to Americans, among them the one on Grenada that was in the news during the Reagan years, when we invaded the island.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) offered the language as part of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s contribution to the massive budget bill. As House and Senate negotiators inch toward a conference agreement on the legislation, the three foreign-based medical schools are furiously working to protect a lucrative stream of federal funding.
More Holiday |
"You're never too old for Santa," said 20-year-old Kelly Carnes, a student at George Washington University who was standing in line at the Pentagon City mall Sunday afternoon, waiting to see her red-suited idol.
-- Today's Washington Times
Holiday Funny Stuff…|
…from UD’s favorite University of Chicago undergrad, Rita -- she of the blog Nobody Sasses, etc.
ON GIFT GIVING
Read the comments. They feature extended sniping with her mother.
Snapshots from Home:|
UD's Spawn Backstage
at the Kennedy Center
with Marvin Hamlisch**
...after the last of four Holiday Concerts.
The little one (far right) is a member of
the Washington Children's Chorus.
(**Hamlisch's immortality was assured early
in his career when he wrote Lesley Gore's
"Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows.")
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Land of the Dictator,|
Land of the Free
"The president of Turkmenistan ordered construction of a university to be named after his book "Rukhnama," which is held as a sacred text in this ex-Soviet republic, state television reported Tuesday.
"This will have a positive impact on the development of Turkmen society and people's well-being," he said in remarks broadcast Tuesday.
[In] "Rukhnama," or "The Book of the Soul," the autocratic leader dispenses moral guidance for citizens of the Central Asian nation. It is mandatory reading for every Turkmen at schools and work. Convicts must take an oath involving the book upon release from prison.
Parliament declared 2005 the year of "Rukhnama."
Niyazov, who has developed a sprawling personality cult, has banned all opposition and controls all branches of government and the media. Golden statues and busts of him are scattered across the country, and his portrait is on every banknote and coin."
"Aspyr Media today announced that the Mac version of The Sims 2 University, an expansion pack to EA's popular The Sims 2, has been declared Gold Master and is expected to begin shipping tomorrow, December 14th.
The Sims 2 University, the first expansion pack available for the The Sims, allows players to explore a whole new stage of life as young adults and introduces college-related wants and fears that are ultimately tied to their Sims’ social life and academic goals. It introduces influence gameplay allowing players to earn influence points to have other Sims do certain tasks for them such as homework, term papers, cleaning up the fraternity house or even pulling pranks on other Sims. Players will be able to choose from one of 11 majors and open up 4 new career paths as they make their way through University. It requires the full version of The Sims 2 ($45) to play and is available for pre-order for $35."
Let’s see what I have for you today… Oh here’s something. A story that combines plagiarism and football!
A professor of Hospitality and Tourism Research at San Diego State University was asked to write a report detailing the economic impact on that city of the Holiday Bowl, some football game. Based on the report, the city decides on funding levels every year for the event.
Did it occur to the city to wonder about the results they’d get from a guy who’s also in the San Diego hotel business, as the SDSU professor is? (UD’s particularly fond of university professors who have extensive business interests in the fields about which they teach -- spa-lady Mary Tabacchi at Cornell being UD’s perennial example.)
No, no, San Diego happily pocketed this year’s report, which “shows an $8 million increase in the Holiday Bowl's impact on the city, despite no significant increase in attendance from the previous year,” which is a great result, who cares what that attendance number means, and San Diego was all ready to up the taxpayer burden for the game accordingly…
Until out of the woodwork crept Casinelli. Casinelli’s the guy who’s written this report for the city for years. He expected to do it this year too, and “offered to do it at fair market value,” he explains, “but then here's somebody who was willing to do it for basically what I was doing it for before.” So the city saves money on the report by having the SDSU professor do it and it gets this terrific result, and so it‘s a terrific outcome all around!
Why then has Casinelli “filed a claim for $56,000 with the state of California”? Because the professor who was paid to do it this year decided that “you can make money” just by “grab[bing] what was already done, scan[ning] it into the computer, hand[ing] it to the client and collect[ing] the money," notes Casinelli.
Indeed with remarkably few emendations, this year’s report is verbatim Casinelli’s last year report. It’s an example of what UD calls gold standard plagiarism.
The SDSU professor, now majorly up shit’s creek, is doing and saying all the things people at this, er, juncture do and say:
1.) I didn’t do it, man! There was this “student from Thailand” working with me! He did it!
2.) I “reviewed the report before it was released and did not notice the similarities.”
Casinelli is amazed that having now found the guy guilty of plagiarism, SDSU isn’t removing him from the faculty. Here’s a guy who at cost to the school in terms of reputation and money and who knows what else, blatantly plagiarized, and he’s up there modeling this penalty-free behavior to SDSU’s students. Why, Casinelli asks, would “the school... allow Rauch to continue teaching after finding he committed plagiarism” and in the process produced a report for the city lacking all credibility? And lied? And blamed it on an innocent student assistant?
Casinelli tries to explain what’s been done to him by using a literary analogy:
"It's like rewriting Moby Dick and wherever it mentions Moby Dick, saying there are two whales, Moby Dick and Mildred Dick, but keeping everything else the same," Casinelli said. "Then I'll sell it and at the very end, I'll put Herman Melville (Moby Dick's author) as a source.”
Cherchez the Cello|
He was studying finance and political science. He was “very energetic,” the kind of guy who’d “cheer on the football team wearing body paint.” He was “a former fraternity rush chairman and a cellist in the university’s orchestra.” Hell, he was sophomore class president.
So why, oh lord, why? “You have to question his reasoning, obviously,” says one of his fellow Lehigh students, asked by a reporter about this person’s latest accomplishment: robbing a bank.
Yes - why oh why did he do it? His father’s a reverend! His family’s wealthy! He graduated from an exclusive private school in affluent Shaker Heights!
As you know if you’re familiar with UD, she’s a little impatient with the why-oh-why response when rich privileged people do bad things. The only thing separating this guy from your bread-and-butter larcenist is that his family was able to post his very high ($100,000) bond, so he’s out of prison (for the time being). Otherwise, the reason he robbed a bank seems pretty clear. You can find it in the enterprising, can-do energy everyone’s praising in him. The guy’s obviously incredibly restless, always smearing on the warpaint and looking for action. He’s results-oriented. He’s ambitious and amoral. You do the math.
But no, no. In a few days we’ll have to endure a follow-up article -- a lengthy piece in the local newspaper’s Sunday supplement, in which we discover that when this guy was five his father smashed his cello to bits in a rage and ever since then ….
Monday, December 12, 2005
… to have visitors today from Maud Newton, a literary blog she loves. She reminds Maud’s readers, and everyone else, that “Comments” may appear to be zero on some earlier posts, when in fact there are several. She hasn’t yet gotten around to fixing this glitch. Just remember to click on the zero -- there may be comments after all.
All Quiet on the Dispositional Front |
Via Robert KC Johnson at Cliopatria, here’s an intriguing article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the ongoing “dispositions” mess. It’s not intriguing for its content, which simply and helpfully reviews what you already know (if you hang around UD) about the efforts of educational bureaucrats to enforce a dullard’s conformity on the profession by tossing out of ed schools student teachers who question liberal orthodoxy.
No, the article’s intriguing because of the sudden silence of the major players in this drama. All the dispositional heavies, the professors and the deans who expelled students because they didn’t like their social attitudes -- they’ve suddenly clammed up.
The dispositionally non-conforming students, now, they’ve got plenty to say in the article. But the professors at the University of Alaska who made it virtually impossible for a woman who didn't go all the way on abortion rights to stay in the program “did not want to speak to the Chronicle.” The dean at Washington State, and all the WSU professors, who tried (almost succeeded, too, until FIRE got wind of it) to kick out a guy who likes to shoot guns in his spare time, “did not return telephone calls and e-mail messages.”
What sort of commitment to social justice does it demonstrate that, called upon to defend your part in keeping the nation’s teachers ideologically pure, you’re unwilling to step up to the plate?
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Alexander Kleshchev, [a University of Oregon] math professor, said it is curious that people who vocally support ethnic diversity seem unconcerned about political diversity.
MEANIES BEATING UP|
ON FOOTBALL ALL OVER
At Missouri State...
Recently, Missouri State proposed cutting men’s tennis, women’s tennis and mens track and field and cross country.
...and at the University of Colorado...
Relax, Buffs fans. Sure, Nobel Prize-winning faculty members may come and go, promised state support may be redirected to build roads, and financial aid for academically gifted students may continue to be scarce, but your tailgate parties are secure.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
[in which ud learns a new word]
"I hope you read the background stories on the 'diploma mills' that exist as 'private schools' so that athletes can go and play college sports without - you know - actually having to pass any real courses. A Miami 'correspondence academy' is now under scrutiny by the Florida High School Athletic Association and the state attorney general and the NCAA.
---From Sports Fan Magazine
1923 - 2005
Man of letters, lover of beauty. Founder,
Association of Literary Scholars and Critics.
"Ubu has only his appetites, which he displays like virtues. When we try to injure him with our laughter (“satanic” laughter, Baudelaire would call it), we discover that his behavior is so abject that we cannot reach him. He does not have traits of either a great hero or a great villain; he never deliberates. Can we really laugh at Ubu, at his character? It is doubtful, for he lacks the necessary vulnerability, the vestiges of original sin. Not without dread, we mock, rather, his childish innocence and primitive soul and cannot harm him. He remains a threat because he can destroy at will, and the political horrors of the twentieth century make the lesson disturbingly real."
An Ivan Tribble Christmas|
Baby, baby, you got to understand
If I want a do-right colleague
I've got to be a do-right man.
I'm gonna lay another blog
On the fire, baby.
Yeah it’s Christmas time once more.
Gonna lay another blog
On the fire
Keep the bloggers from my door.
Oh I know I've been neglecting you
But baby now's our turn.
Gonna cuddle through the snowy night
And watch the bloggers burn.
Wine, music, candlelight
Plus a little toke,
We’ll sing a song of Christmas
Watch the blogs go up in smoke.
I'm gonna lay another blog
On the fire, baby
Keep the flame up nice and high
Said I'm gonna lay another blog
On the fire, baby
And watch the bloggers die.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Chico State II:|
Members in Good Standing
University President Paul Zingg didn't view the second part of the [two-part pornographic] toga party [filmed at a Chico State fraternity, titled] College Invasion 7, he said. The fact there was a second DVD was irrelevant.
One of the first academic jobs UD was offered was at Newcomb College, the women’s college of Tulane University. It was difficult for her to turn it down. She loves New Orleans. The campus was gorgeous. She sat in on a spectacular class. Everything felt right.
She ultimately chose to stay on the East coast. But UD often thinks back to beautiful Newcomb.
Which now no longer exists. A staff writer at NOLA.com
LINDA DOES ACADEMIA|
More wonderful stuff from Linda Hirshman (for background, see UD) in the paper of record (now that they’ve published UD), Inside Higher Education. She takes her well-grounded claim that many of our most highly and expensively trained professional women are dropping out of the workforce and runs it not through corporations (as she did before) but through the university.
First, the bad news:
[R]esearch on gender reflects that the arena for discrimination is greater where there is not a clear monetary measure of productivity. So the world of the research university is a perfect playground for subjective opinion, including ideas about women’s proper roles, conscious or not, and the powerful lure of autobiography in each hiring committee member’s inaccessible subconscious.
You need only recall Ivan Tribble’s description of the way he evaluates job candidates to know she’s right about subjective opinion at universities.
But there’s good news too:
…Women may not be as eager to leave academic jobs as their well educated sisters were to quit journalism, law and publishing. There are two reasons for this. One, the hours are better. While the business magazine Fast Company reports that a 60 to 75 hour work week is typical for business leaders, ladder rank faculty with children in the University of California study (according to their own self-reporting) worked 53 to 56 hours a week.
All true. One arena for yielding that UD has written about before involves that book Hirshman mentions -- the one only the author reads. The tyranny of the tenure manuscript in particular must be overthrown at those universities that still mindlessly impose it. Significant articles and chapters already form the basis for tenure decisions in many departments, but the humanities haven’t yet liberated themselves.
Similarly, UD has argued, along with others, that the Associate/Full distinction should be taken much less seriously by faculty and administrators -- in fact “Full” should probably be dropped altogether. This would remove another pointlessly Hobbesian element from the academic ladder.
Hirshman ends her IHE essay by noting that many of the women bloggers who responded to her initial article with a furious fuck you turned out to be academics who had opted out of the work world. She asks any such who may again be preparing to hit the F on their keyboard to restrain themselves.
That’s good advice. There are many ways of being an ugly American, and it’s curious, but sometimes those Americans most at pains to avoid that stereotype, and its characteristic provinciality, sense of entitlement, and bluster, themselves fall into it.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
[C]ritics of the trend say lofty compensation packages [for university presidents] have spawned a new ultra class within academia that grows steadily disconnected from the masses and undermines public confidence.
Gotta Give Him Points for Honesty|
Everyone who plays for USC should score a 1300 on the SATs? Pete Carroll probably wouldn't score a 1300 on the SATs. Should he fire himself?
-- University of Utah student paper
The Nollege Economy|
Southern Cal from 1998-2004 graduated 58 percent of its football players, 18 percentage points below the student body as a whole, according to a study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. The numbers are even lower at Texas, where 66 percent of the Longhorns players came up short. That's a whopping 36 percentage points below non-athletes at the school.
UD considers herself very American in character and outlook, but sometimes she wonders… For instance, at the University of Kentucky they’ve had a problem with big flocks of birds beshitting the campus. The solution the school’s come up with is this really loud and obnoxious noise-maker which scares the birds off.
Students are delighted. One of them says, “I'd rather hear screaming rockets than get bird droppings on my car."
Fine, yes, UD doesn’t even drive. Still, if you asked her Would you rather have a dab of birdshit on your car or listen to screaming rockets all day? she’d choose the shit for sure.
Good News, |
Bad Temporary Result
The traffic at UD has gotten large enough to make a shift to a different account or maybe a different server a necessity. For the time being, the site remains intermittently down as I try to resolve this. Apologies - and thanks for your patience.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Free Speech Trashed,|
But Only for A Few Months
One of the more pathetic free speech stories has resolved itself properly, but not before reactionary forces on campus were able to do a good deal of damage to people and institutions.
A women’s studies professor at a New Jersey university sent out, a few months ago, an unsolicited, pretty much university-wide email, publicizing a film about homosexuals that was going to be shown on campus. A pious Muslim who worked at the university was among those who got the email, and he wrote back to her that he believed homosexuality was a perversion, and that he’d prefer not to get any more emails along these lines.
The professor decided this man was a threat to her. She decided that his language in the email constituted hate speech, and that he himself constituted a physical threat to her. She demanded that he be disciplined by the university.
Put aside what this vindictive reaction tells us about the ability of a strong feminist, the director of the school’s women’s studies program, to withstand a little heat. Note merely that this woman does not understand what a threat is.
Nor did her school. The university backed her up completely and condemned the man. It devised various nasty punishments for him.
But when rights organizations (among them FIRE) got to work on the case, the outcome was utterly predictable:
In a ruling issued Monday and received by [the man] on Tuesday, university hearing officer Sandra DeYoung determined that his "use of the term 'perversion,' although it may be upsetting to some, does not appear to have caused any discriminatory actions." …
His punishments have all been rescinded. The university, though, has been subject to general ridicule, and the man himself has gone through a very damaging ordeal. As for the timid, clueless woman who made all the trouble, she continues to run the women’s studies program.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
MEANT TO END IN A CONGA|
STUDENTS from one of the colleges of London University have caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage to a rival college after a drunken end-of-term rampage.
---The Times Online
Creepy essay about Susan Sontag…|
…by her son, in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine (here’s a link to Barista , which reproduced it). The piece is yet another Cheyne-Stoking memoir.
This is the name UD gives the popular new essay form in which the reader is taken through every stage of another person‘s death -- including the very last seconds. John Bayley’s clinically meticulous description of Iris Murdoch’s death, and, more recently, Joan Didion’s take on John Gregory Dunne’s death (Didion is rewriting her essay as a Broadway play) are examples.
There’s an undeniable fascination in being privy to details of the sudden collapse, the drawn out degradation, the desperate last days and minutes, of iconic figures of intellectual and aesthetic dignity and power. At their best, these sorts of memoirs can rivet our attention and remind us of our shared fragility, of the vulnerability even the strongest among us must endure in the face of morbid processes.
But Cheyne-Stoking memoirs can turn on you. They can reveal, as David Rieff’s does, arrogance and hypocrisy even unto death. As a serious moralist and intellectual, Susan Sontag spent a good deal of time reviling American materialism. She loathed the way people in this country think everything’s about money. Yet faced with a fatal diagnosis at an advanced age, Sontag shelled out hundreds of thousands of her own dollars (no medical insurer would touch her hopeless case) on insanely expensive experimental stuff because, as her son says, she refused to reconcile herself to dying. Ever.
Or, well, maybe at a hundred: She had a “single-minded focus on her own longevity and, as she got older, … frequent[ly] voic[ed] the hope of living to be 100.” She would “beat the odds.” She would “be the exception.”
We are supposed to applaud her gumption here, but Sontag’s incredulous fury to the last moment of her existence at the insult of her having to die, and her unhesitating willingness to use her wealth to keep herself alive under any circumstances (those hundreds of thousands of dollars could have done a good deal for any number of causes close to her heart, rather than being spent to distort that much more an already sharply inegalitarian health care system) are not admirable but horrible.
Her son does seem to understand some of this; he worries that we are “rapidly moving toward a health care system in which [as one of the doctors he talks to says] ‘only the rich will be able to choose the treatment they want.’” But this leaves open the whole question of whether what a person wants is what they should get. Because of her wealth, Sontag was able to depart this world with the same sense of entitlement and exceptionalism she apparently had all along.
To Visitors from Inside Higher Education, |
and to Regular Readers of University Diaries:
Good morning. Welcome. My IHE opinion piece on the future of English departments is here. If you're new to University Diaries, feel free to look around.
Monday, December 05, 2005
A Window into|
Erin O’Connor has plenty of follow-up to the sex-in-the-window story at U Penn. This incident, coupled with a UC Irvine professor’s wittily recounted tale of discovering two students in flagrant delectation in his own office the other day, does make UD wonder a bit…
I mean, in the Penn case, these two were at it for a number of days in succession, very openly. So -- where were the faculty? Administrators? They were walking under that window alongside their students. Didn’t anybody say anything?
If UD saw a couple of GW students doing this (and there’s a dorm directly across the street from her practically floor to ceiling office windows) -- I mean, hanging out of the window and all -- she’d do and say nothing the first time. You’re allowed occasional mindless passion, etc. But if she saw them do it day after day, she’s pretty sure she’d mention it to the department administrator (the English department offices also overlook the dorm)…
She'd mention it in a kind of haha way to be sure, don’t want to be an Anti-Sex Leaguer or anything, just, Haha is this going to be a permanent part of the streetscape do you think, ho ho….And eventually word would get to a residence hall person or something and it’d be handled quietly.
But at Penn you’ve got what looks like supreme indulgence toward the, er, student body, don’t you?
Snow is general all over ‘thesda…|
…as James Joyce would have written had he lived in suburban Washington rather than the Dublin of “The Dead.” (What he actually wrote in that story was “Snow was general all over Ireland.”) The view from UD’s Garrett Park window is glorious…. Oh for a beaker of Ann Althouse, with her posted photos of wintry days in Madison! But UD isn’t that far along technically… though, come to think of it, UD’s daughter, with her digital camera, could do the deed for her… As soon as the little one has finished reading the New York Times (class assignment on the national debt or something), she’s promised to give it a whirl…
The blog's been ornery...|
...for the last few days. Difficult to open; difficult to post comments on. Apologies. Today things seem a bit smoother.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
William Bradford Follow-up|
A few months ago, UD quoted from a defender of William Bradford, a law professor at Indiana University whose losing tenure vote there seemed more about political correctness (he was a highly decorated military veteran) than objectivity.
Bradford was well on his way toward becoming a hero of the political right when he was discovered to have lied about his military prowess. As a columnist in the IndyStar writes, "He was discharged as a second lieutenant. He had no active duty. He was in military intelligence, not infantry. He received no awards."
Bradford has resigned.
at Harvard Law
Worthwhile article in the New York Observer about Harvard Law School’s recent “barrage of additions to the faculty — among them prominent conservative scholars.”
For a seemingly interminable stretch from the 1970’s to the 1990’s, Harvard Law was emblematic of academic ideological warfare, its infighting aired like dirty laundry in Eleanor Kerlow’s 1994 book, Poisoned Ivy, its campus derided in a 1993 article in GQ as “Beirut on the Charles.”
Now, the writer reports, there’s more intellectual diversity and less bloodshed at the school.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
... in today's Florida Ledger about how there's probably nothing to be done. A corrupt state is a corrupt state is a corrupt state.
Florida has long been known as a haven for phony diploma mills. Back in the 1970s, two Miami Herald reporters, the late Bill Mansfield and Bruce Giles, even created their own "Apollo Academy" and presented frameable diplomas to their friends and politicians.
ALL WASHINGTON DC UNIVERSITIES…|
…make much of the fact that they’re located in Washington DC. A heartbeat away from the seat of power! GW, UD’s institution, is the closest of them all -- only four blocks from the White House -- and never stops reminding people about it.
But UD wonders whether the up close and personal attention about to be lavished on conveniently located American University by the United States Senate has that school pondering the mixed blessing of being an easy cab ride away for guys like Charles Grassley and Max Baucus.
They head the Senate committee that‘s reviewing compensation at non-profits, and the Ladner debacle down the street has easily caught and held their attention.
"My oversight of American University," Mr. Grassley said in a statement (These hearings, by the way, will feature high-profile use of the antagonym “oversight,” whose two meanings are direct opposites of one another!), "now will be focused on whether the current board members have performed their duties and responsibilities to the standard of what should be expected for such a major university."
With ex-President Ladner out, the Senate committee’s attention turns to the trustees, who did a bad job of, er, oversight when it came to Ladner’s compensation. Will the Senate actually come down hard on these people?
The two guys running the show look, each in his own way, capable of real cruelty.
Terrible Heartland Probity
Baucus was in this race, the JFK 50 Miler, and he fell and bloodied himself, but he kept running and bleeding all over the place until he finished.
[By the way, Baucus notes on his website that "Throughout his career, Max has never forgotten where he came from or who he represents. For a full day each month, Max experiences a Day-In-The-Life of citizens all over Montana. He has conducted workdays at farms, ranches, schools, highway construction projects, local ice cream parlors, and hospitals." Since Montana’s one of our biggest diploma mill states, UD suggests a Day-in-the-Life visit to a local diploma mill.]
CLEVER LITTLE BUGGER…|
…and you can’t say he isn’t contrite.
A 19-year-old freshman at the University of Colorado
Friday, December 02, 2005
SNAPSHOTS FROM HOME|
A Regular University Diaries Feature
UD’s got a bunch of new readers lately who probably don’t know that she lives in Garrett Park, Maryland, a one hundred year old incorporated town near Bethesda. The town’s an arboretum.
UD grew up in Garrett Park and was lucky enough to be able to move back there a few years ago. Her daughter went to the same elementary school, and is now going to the same high school, UD attended. UD’s mother lives down the block. UD’s husband is on the Town Council. UD writes for the town newspaper, The Bugle.
Garrett Park is famous for its eccentrics. Here’s an article in today’s Washington Post about one of them, complete with UD’s parenthetical comments:
A former Capitol Hill press secretary who has twice been convicted in bank robbery cases was in handcuffs again this week, charged with the same type of crime.
(Thanks to Di and Steve for the tip.)
Penn Pulls Out Prematurely|
U Penn has wised up fast this time and dropped all disciplinary charges against the student photographer who, apparently like many on campus, snapped a pair of his fellow students having sex in an open dorm window. (He posted some of the photos on the web.)
As details of the incident -- make that incidents -- emerge, the windowhangers turn out to be quite the kinksters:
The pictures were taken during broad daylight, with no telephoto lenses. Small crowds that included a number of people with cameras gathered to watch the couple, who repeated the act in front of the dorm-room window over several days…
Not that I want to be seen as bashing women, especially after my unpopular pro-Hirshman positions, etc. - but note that Mr. Windowhanger has said and done nothing. It’s Ms. and Ms. alone who has run squawking to the deans about how her privacy has been violated:
The faces of the naked couple are not clear in any of the most infamous images. And because the university disciplinary process is confidential, Penn did not release the names of anyone involved in this case. Nonetheless, the female student's identity has become well-known on campus.
UD is loathe to speculate as to how this woman’s identity became known.
But… well… I guess the likeliest reason people know who she is that for several days she hung out of a window overlooking a square, screwing. The next likeliest is that she or her hanger-on told people (boasted?) about it. The next likeliest after that is that the people inside the building know who lives in the infamous ill-fated flat of fenestral fucking.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Wonderful commentary from Hugo Schwyzer about faculty self-evaluation.
Gotta give her points for honesty. |
In the aftermath of a drunken Tufts student’s violent and bigoted attack on a policewoman [see UD], an adjunct professor of English there expresses her bitterness against students in her classes who don’t like her self-described “insist[ence] on raising issues of social inequality and cultural politics in our classrooms, perhaps ad infinitum to some of your ears.” Students must stop resisting her “overtly, perhaps uncomfortably, political discussions in the classroom.”
Apparently this form of student resistance is a general source of faculty irritation in her department: she describes herself recently “sitting in my East Hall office with some of my colleagues, discussing Tufts students' resistance to conversations about racial, class, gender and sexual inequalities.”
“The next time you are sitting in class, rolling your eyes when your professor ‘whines about feminism,’ or, in analyzing ongoing racism and colonialism ‘blows things out of proportion’ or ‘overreacts,’ or, (most cardinal of American sins) says something ‘communist,’” [communist?] just remember that you too are part of the same sick country that produced that guy. “Take advantage,” she pleads, “of the opportunity we present to understand the world that shapes you,” the violent bigotry that “characterizes our culture.” “[T]his is what some of us, your professors, have been trying - and often struggling - to get you students to see.”
From today's Inside Higher Ed:
Buttocks. Some flesh. At least two pairs of legs.
1 December 2005
University of Pennsylvania
Dear Mr. And Ms. Anonymous:
Have you read this book, by the way?
It’s by Joel Feinberg, and it’s called Offense to Others: The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law.
I’d recommend in particular the first chapter, section 3, called “A Ride on the Bus.” For your convenience, here it is, online.
[see also Erin O'Connor at Critical Mass]
World AIDS Day|
From Harold Brodkey’s This Wild Darkness: The Story of my Death:
Here in the country, my moods are more settled than they ever were in the city; it seems at first that there are fewer stimuli to jog or tug at them, but really it is that they are propelled differently. Energy functions differently among the trees. In the city, nothing is quite settled, ever. And other people’s suffering, other people’s deaths, become unbearable. When I read the literature on AIDS or walk the streets, I start to lose it; grief is everywhere. In the country, flesh is grass, and the grasses are settling into autumn. My bed is in a bay of five large, mullioned windows, and the million leaves of the nearby trees are struggling to dance. Of course, at this time of year, they and I are all dying together. I hear the countryside silence - it’s something I can permit here - as focused on death. Getting into that mood is like going to church or spending the day in the wind, with the steep views and the hawks, and vultures, hovering.