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Read my book, TEACHING BEAUTY IN DeLILLO, WOOLF, AND MERRILL (Palgrave Macmillan; forthcoming), co-authored with Jennifer Green-Lewis. VISIT MY BRANCH CAMPUS AT INSIDE HIGHER ED

UD is...
"Salty." (Scott McLemee)
"Unvarnished." (Phi Beta Cons)
"Splendidly splenetic." (Culture Industry)
"Except for University Diaries, most academic blogs are tedious."
(Rate Your Students)
"I think of Soltan as the Maureen Dowd of the blogosphere,
except that Maureen Dowd is kind of a wrecking ball of a writer,
and Soltan isn't. For the life of me, I can't figure out her
politics, but she's pretty fabulous, so who gives a damn?"
(Tenured Radical)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Team and Coach Crime Update --
From Your Friends at the Columbus Dispatch:

[Many people] wonder what is going on with the [Ohio University] football program. Seventeen players have been arrested in Athens County in the past nine months, The Dispatch found, after only a smattering of arrests in recent years.

Not one player has missed a minute of game time because of misconduct — drug abuse, alcohol offenses and assaults — that led to misdemeanor convictions in Athens Municipal Court. Ten have been convicted, four cases are pending, and three cases were dismissed after the players completed a diversion program that involves counseling and community service. [Coach] Solich, in his second year at OU after six seasons coaching powerhouse Nebraska, is displeased with the number of arrests but defends his discipline system.

"We think it’s not only fair, but pretty tough," he said.

A felony, weapons-charge or second offense brings the possibility of game suspensions or dismissal from the team, Solich said. Two players were kicked off the team last year.

Informed that Johnson also was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2003, Solich said he did not consider that a second strike because the offense occurred before he became coach.

The spike in player misconduct is set against an OU crackdown on student alcohol violations and Solich’s conviction for drunken driving late last year. The university’s get-tough policy says that repeated alcohol offenses could lead to student suspensions, and parents of underage students are being notified of arrests.

OU President Roderick McDavis would not comment about the football program. McDavis previously placed Solich on probation for his DUI conviction and ordered the coach to participate in campus alcohol-education efforts.

The chairman of the university’s board of trustees was stunned by the numbers.

"Not good news," said R. Gregory Browning, of Columbus. "I can promise you I will be following up on this immediately. It obviously raises concerns. We’ll make sure it’s dealt with in the right way."

Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt said he was not happy with the number of arrests but did not think further punishment was warranted.

In contrast to the 17 OU players charged in Athens Municipal Court since Jan. 1, four Ohio State University football players were charged in Franklin County Municipal Court during the same period.

OSU Coach Jim Tressel determines player punishment on a case-by-case basis and does not reveal his sanctions, said Steve Snapp, athletics department spokesman.

The OU football team includes 85 scholarship players and 40 walk-on players. The 17 arrested players account for nearly 14 percent of the roster.

A total of 1,127 students have been referred this year by police for potential punishment by OU campus judiciaries following arrests and other misconduct. That number represents about 5.6 percent of the 20,000 students on the Athens campus.

Douglas Bolon, a health-sciences professor and chairman of OU’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, promised a review of player conduct and discipline when the committee meets Oct. 16.

Solich regularly issued game suspensions to players convicted of crimes while he coached at Nebraska and removed at least two players from the team.

The coach said most of those players were suspended because they were convicted of second offenses or, in one case, hit a fan of an opposing team who came on the field after a game.

Kraus, night manager of The Pub, suffered head and other injuries on April 23 when [two players] knocked him to the ground and repeatedly punched him after they had been ejected from the bar, according to court records. [One player] was accused of kicking Kraus in the head.

Both were convicted at a trial on Sept. 21 before Athens Municipal Court Judge William Grim. Jackson, 21, of Kiln, Miss., also was charged with assault and found guilty of the lesser offense of disorderly conduct.

Grim declined a request for an interview. The judge typically tries to schedule students’ jail time during breaks or on weekends so they do not miss classes, city prosecutors said.

The Nov. 27 jail-reporting date for Johnson comes during OU’s break between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

"The university, the athletic department is blowing this off like nothing, when I was being kicked in the head," Kraus said.

Kraus and three other Court Street bar managers and owners say they have contacted Solich and other OU officials since mid-2005 to complain about player misconduct in their businesses.

Solich said players have been forbidden to enter The Pub, where others also have found trouble. Two players, including one charged with punching a police horse, were arrested outside the bar on April 29. Another was charged May 6 with threatening to kill a bar employee.

Two other players were convicted of disorderly conduct for punching and kicking a man who apparently had an earlier altercation with a football player.
OSU Nanotechnology
All In A Flutter

WHOLE lotta shakin goin' on at Oklahoma State and environs thanks to none other than Mr. T. Boone Pickens! People think he's only interested in football, and sure, he just gave the university about two hundred million dollars for it. But he's also interested in the life of the mind. The other day, he gave $25,000 to the Stillwater public schools.

The real shakin', though, is about the big new stadium he's putting up:

OSU will request $25 million from the Oklahoma Legislature to build an engineering research center as a solution to problems recently caused by the construction at Boone Pickens Stadium, said Gary Shutt, director of communications.

The vibrations from the construction machinery make vibration-sensitive research projects in the Advanced Research Technology Center basement impossible, said Alan Tree, associate dean for engineering research.

The projects in the basement are in the scientific category known as nano-science, an area of science that emerged in the past ten years, which deals with nanometers, Tree said. To put a nanometer’s size into perspective, one billion make up a meter.

Shutt said because of the sensitivity of nano-science, it is essential that the work be done in the proper environment. “Research is one of the missions of a land-grant university,” Shutt said. “The important work being done by CEAT in nano-technology is a priority for OSU.”

The vibration problem affects about 40 students — some working on projects to earn their doctorate and master’s degrees — and about eight professors, who each have more than one project, Tree said.

Solutions for what to do until the center is built have been discussed, such as the closing of Hester Street once the construction by the stadium is finished in 2008, Shutt said.

“As part of the construction on the west end zone over the next two years, we will build the road and ramp north of the ATRC that will lead into the west end zone,” Shutt said.

“Once the road is built we will do additional testing to evaluate the impact of vibrations, if any, on the research. If there is a problem, traffic will be limited or halted until the research is moved to a new location,” he said.

Tree said when the ATRC was designed 10 years ago, the designers knew traffic on Hester Street would be one cause of vibrations.

To block those vibrations, part of the ATRC extends deeper than the basement of the building and further to the north and south, Tree said.

“What that does is it creates a large air pocket that shields us from Hester Street,” Tree said. “The issue (of vibrations) has come up recently because we had not anticipated that Hester Street would curve around and be on the north side of the building.”

Along with the change in Hester Street, the ramp built to service the west end of the stadium wasn’t expected by the designers of ATRC either, Tree said.

“Someone who isn’t well-versed in nano-science may not realize that a semi-truck going up a ramp will affect the vibrations in a nearby building,” Tree said.

Alan Cheville, an electrical engineering associate professor, said although there are solutions to end the vibrations when the construction is completed, not much has been decided for what to do right now.

“Basically we work as best we can but there really is no short term solution,” Cheville said. “There’s millions of dollars of equipment that we can’t move. We don’t have a place to put it.”

Special tables that adjust to vibrations could be purchased, but they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and might not solve the problem. And the projects can’t simply be moved to another laboratory because building space is expensive, at hundreds of dollars per square foot, Cheville said.

“For the faculty who are very active in their research field – they’re in high demand,” Cheville said. “If things become too difficult, they can just leave.”

Faculty members have contracts with government agencies and companies who pay about $1 million to have research done, Cheville said.

If a place becomes problematic for the research the scientists must perform, they find other universities at which to do their work.

When faculty leave the university, students usually follow, with the university losing out, Cheville said.

Tree said the researchers who work in the basement are world renowned scientist and the research pertaining to nano-science leads the field worldwide.

Cheville said one of the research groups he’s involved with makes electronic chips for computers, dealing with wires that are one hundredth the size of a human hair.

“When you’re trying to do the process, things have to be very, very stable because any kind of vibration can cause errors in wires of that size,” Cheville said.

Tree said faculty from both the engineering and athletics departments have worked on the problem along with university administration.

Tree said new facilities mean possibilities for even better research.

Before coming to OSU, all of the professors working in the basement facilities were well-established and highly respected researchers elsewhere, Tree said.

“Part of the reason we were able to attract them here was because the ATRC was in the works,” Tree said. “There was a commitment here to facilities they needed and we’ve continued that commitment with this decision.”

Friday, September 29, 2006

Le Culte du Moi... a student-run literary magazine at UD's place of business, George Washington University. On Friday, October 6, the editors are planning a marathon reading of Lolita, to be held in University Yard (the main quad):

Although it is hard to predict the precise end time, we estimate that it will last around 12 hours and end at approximately 10pm. The marathon
reading will take place at GWU's University Yard, except in case of inclement weather. The rain location is Marvin Center 405. Feel free to stop by during any part of the day to soak up the sounds of good literature and absorb the marathon experience. If you're curious about any more information or if you're interested in reading, e-mail us at [email protected].

I like the idea of this thing, and the way they're promoting it, with purple lollipops in the faculty mailboxes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Getting Weird Out There.

'Until earlier today, viewers of BoingBoing, a popular blog, could watch a video clip of a giggling business-school lecturer acting goofy in class, under the heading “apparently-baked biz school prof who was soon fired.”

The professor, Howard J. Hall, a lecturer at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, appears in a video still on the site brandishing his middle finger. The video was available through links to the college’s Web site. Next to the photo, the poster wrote: “It appears from the content of this video that this University of Florida professor—whom everyone has to take in the business school—got REALLY REALLY REALLY HIGH before one of his classes.”

The poster goes on to say, “He does ramble, but he’s far more entertaining than any of the business school professors I ever sat through.”

By late today, the spectacle on BoingBoing was no longer available because the video had been removed from the college’s Web site, where it had been offered as part of a classroom-video service. Copies of the video are probably still somewhere out in cyberspace, however.

William A. McCullough, senior associate dean at the college, said Mr. Hall had been relieved of his teaching duties, pending a review of his employment status. Mr. McCullough said he had received a half-dozen calls so far from “the curious public,” adding that there are some “unfortunate things” going on with Mr. Hall. “This is a human problem, not an institutional problem,” said Mr. McCullough. “This man has problems.”

Mr. Hall could not be reached for comment today.'
Tweety Bird Becomes Phoenix

'GLENDALE, Ariz. – The 63,400-seat home of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ now has a name: University of Phoenix Stadium.

At a press conference this morning, the Arizona Cardinals Football Club announced an exclusive, multi-year agreement with University of Phoenix to become the team’s naming rights partner. It is the first time a National Football League venue has been named after an educational institution.

The University will invest an average of $7.7 million per year for 20 years in exchange for naming rights, signage and a variety of advertising, marketing and merchandising opportunities. In addition, the alliance will enable the University – already international in scope – to reach an even greater number and diversity of potential students, while staying grounded in its hometown community, according to Brian Mueller, president of Apollo Group, the University’s parent company. ... University of Phoenix, working in the service of the nation for 30 years, provides access to higher education opportunities that enable students to achieve their professional goals, improve the productivity of their organizations, and provide leadership and service to their communities.'

The US Army works in the service of the nation... Phoenix is a for-profit that works in the service of its share holders... Anyway, as UD's reader Andre, who sent her this, points out, there's something intriguing about having a football stadium for a university that has no football team... That has no university, really, Phoenix having only the faintest physical reality...

All very postmodern.
Er, I picked up the post below...

... in one click via Google. Don't seem to be able to edit its messy prose, etc. Haven't even watched the video yet! But I thought I might as well post it... It's probably amusing...

Mad Professor Smashes Cell Phone 

(video missing)

"This college professor loses it when a student's cell phone rings in class.

He then procedes to kill the phone."

--via google--

First, an Article from Today's Harvard Crimson.

[for act I, go here]

'Schleifer's Curtain Has Yet To Close

Andrei Schleifer '82 used to go invisible hand in invisible hand with Summers.

Depending on your point of view, 2000 was either a great year or a terrible year for Professor of Economics Andrei Shleifer ’82.

On the one hand, the U.S. Department of Justice had chosen to file civil charges against him and Harvard for defrauding the U.S. of something in the neighborhood of $30 million.

On the other hand, the Russian immigrant had just picked up one of the most coveted prizes in economics and continued to have his work cited around the globe. He had a lateral tenure offer from

New York University, and didn’t seem to be in danger of losing his stature as one of the country’s preeminent economists.

Harvard and Shleifer have since settled, and the waters have calmed on the legal front. But this case has been one of simmering controversy that occasionally bubbles over. As such, the settlement may have ended one part of Shleifer’s story, but the whole ordeal might be far from over.

As his star began to rise in the 1980s, Shleifer was often mentioned in the same breath as stellar Harvard economist and future University President Lawrence H. Summers. Indeed, the two had met when Shleifer was a Harvard sophomore. According to an Institutional Investor article published in January of this year, rumor has it that he pointed out errors in one of Summers’ papers, and after that, the two became mentor and mentee, invisible hand in invisible hand.

When Shleifer earned a tenured position at Harvard at the ripe age of 30 in 1991, he was again in league with Summers, who got his top spot at 28. That year, both would take leave from the University, Summers to serve as chief economist at the World Bank, and Shleifer to act as an economic advisor to his native Russia.

It was across the pond that Shleifer allegedly began to falter. During his six years of service in Russia, Shleifer was affiliated with a Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) program that had been contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help Russia rewrite securities laws and convert to a market economy.

In the course of his work with the HIID program, Shleifer allegedly invested in Russian stocks and securities. That wouldn’t seem so bad if Shleifer hadn’t been privy to a variety of internal financial changes in Russia, which made any personal investments in the Russian economy a violation of Harvard’s USAID contract. In light of these allegations, USAID withdrew their contract in 1997, and Shleifer was sent home.

Fast forward two years. The economist, instead of being lambasted in the wake of a criminal investigation, received the glowing support of his colleagues. He was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, an award given to the most promising American economist under the age of 40. Previous winners included Paul R. Krugman, Harvard Professor Martin S. Feldstein ’61, Milton Friedman, and not surprisingly, Summers.

Things could’ve been better for Shleifer, but they definitely could’ve been worse. After the prize was announced in 1999, The New York Times asked the head of the Clark selection committee, Harvard economist Dale W. Jorgenson, if the Russia case came up in their deliberations. Said Jorgenson, “It was not even mentioned.”

The Department of Justice elected to pursue a civil case against Shleifer in 2000 and dropped criminal charges. A mixed blessing. Nevertheless, Shleifer seemed to barrel onward. He maintained his position at Harvard and in 2003 was even offered a top spot at NYU’s Stern School of Business. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that NYU offered Shleifer something to the tune of half a million dollars to defect, though the article failed to mention if that was an annual salary figure or a hefty lump sum. When he turned down the offer that year, the then-chair of the Economics Department, Oliver S. Hart, wrote to The Crimson that he was “delighted” that Shleifer would stick around, and many of his colleagues told The Crimson that they were relieved to hold onto him.

During that period, despite the publicity of his case, Shleifer had the distinction of being the most cited economist in the world according to the University of Connecticut’s IDEAS citation project. Again, the Russia case was unresolved, but Shleifer was able to hold on to his academic reputation, at least for the time being.

It wasn’t until 2005 that the civil case was resolved. Harvard, Shleifer, and his colleague, Jonathan R. Hay, who assisted him in Russia, agreed to settle for $30 million. The Crimson reported in August 2005 that Harvard would pay $26.5 million, while Shleifer would cough up $2 million, and Hay would pay between $1 million and $2 million, depending on future earnings.

Neither Harvard nor Shleifer was forced to admit liability.

Shleifer took a paid sabbatical and returned to the classroom this semester. Even with the publication of a scathing, 18,000-word article in Institutional Investor, a high-brow finance journal, outlining the evidence against Shleifer early this year, economics Professor David I. Laibson ’88 told The Crimson in April, “We think about him not as the guy who was involved in the AID lawsuit—we think about him as the exciting, intellectually active colleague that we’ve always known.”

The lengthy Institutional Investor piece, written by Harvard alum David W. McClintick ’62, also alleged that Summers’ cozy relationship with Shleifer may have protected the latter from losing his job. McClintick quotes a Summers deposition in which the former president said that he instructed then and current Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles to hold on to Shleifer in 2001. The article startled and angered many professors, who grew even more furious when Summers, at a February 2006 Faculty meeting, said he didn’t know enough about the matter to comment on it.

But the central administration has also decided to remain tight-lipped, issuing few public statements about the controversy, often explaining to The Crimson that they will not speak about invidivual faculty members’ personal dealings.

“It’s often said that the University won’t comment on the behavior of individual members of the faculty, and I, to some degree, respect that perspective,” says former Dean of Harvard College and McKay Professor of Computer Science Harry R. Lewis ’68, “but this is taking that principle a little bit too far.”

Lewis, who has been outspoken about the University’s lack of outspokenness, is concerned that Harvard has damaged its reputation by not acknowledging any wrongdoing on its own behalf, not just because of Shleifer. “Harvard institutionally did something that I don’t think anybody thinks was very good for the Russian nation,” he says, “so I just think it’s quite remarkable that no one at all has said that Harvard did anything wrong.”

Both The Crimson and the Financial Times reported this summer that Harvard’s internal investigatory body, the Committee on Professional Conduct, has engaged in an active investigation. The Crimson reported this summer that Shleifer could lose his tenured position as a result of the investigation.

It certainly hasn’t been a rosy decade for Mr. Shleifer. The Crimson reported this year that the professor has had to mortgage his home to pay the first installment of the settlement. And the pending internal investigation casts a shadow over Shleifer’s future. But then again, no criminal case was ever filed, and Shleifer is back in the classroom this fall. And as for his reputation, a recent check at the University of Connecticut IDEAS project still puts Shleifer as the number one cited economist in the world.

Shleifer, since the case first opened up in 1997, has been able to have a tumultuous but so far not totally destructive second act. But whether there will be an act three remains to be seen. '


Act II

Morning room at the Harvard Club.

[Harry and David are at the window, looking out into the garden.]

Harry. The fact that they did not follow us at once into the Club, as any one else would have done, seems to me to show that they have some sense of shame left.

David. They have been eating muffins. That looks like repentance.

Harry. [After a pause.] They don’t seem to notice us at all. Couldn’t you cough?

David. But I haven’t got a cough.

Harry. They’re looking at us. What effrontery!

David. They’re approaching. That’s very forward of them.

Harry. Let us preserve a dignified silence.

David. Certainly. It’s the only thing to do now. [Enter Andrei followed by Lawrence. They whistle some dreadful popular air from a British Opera.]

Harry. This dignified silence seems to produce an unpleasant effect.

David. A most distasteful one.

Harry. But we will not be the first to speak.

David. Certainly not.

Harry. Mr. Shleifer, I have something very particular to ask you. Much depends on your reply.

David. Harry, your common sense is invaluable. Mr. Summers, kindly answer me the following question. Why did you pretend to know nothing of your intimate friend's misappropriation of funds?

Lawrence. In order that I might have an opportunity of impressing you with my continuing to be president of Harvard University.

David. [To Harry.] That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not?

Harry. Yes, dear, if you can believe him.

David. I don’t. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer.

Harry. True. In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing. Mr. Shleifer, what explanation can you offer to me for pretending to have a sincere interest in Russia's well-being when you intended only to enrich yourself financially? Was it in order that you might have an opportunity of lavishing Faberge eggs upon me?

Andrei. Can you doubt it, Mr Lewis?

Harry. I have the gravest doubts upon the subject. But I intend to crush them. This is not the moment for German scepticism. [Moving to David.] Their explanations appear to be quite satisfactory, especially Mr. Shleifer’s. That seems to me to have the stamp of truth upon it.

David. I am more than content with what Mr. Summers said. His voice alone inspires one with absolute credulity.

Harry. Then you think we should forgive them?

David. Yes. I mean no.

Harry. True! I had forgotten. There are principles at stake that one cannot surrender. Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one.

David. Could we not both speak at the same time?

Harry. An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people. Will you take the time from me?

David. Certainly. [Harry beats time with uplifted finger.]

Harry and David [Speaking together.] Your refusal to give an interview to the Harvard Crimson is still an insuperable barrier. That is all!

Andrei and Lawrence [Speaking together.] An interview to the Crimson! Is that all? But we are going to be interviewed this afternoon.

Harry. [To Andrei] For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing?

Andrei. I am.

David . [To Lawrence.] To please me you are ready to face this fearful ordeal?

Lawrence. I am!

Harry. How absurd to talk of the equality of the disciplines! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned, economists are infinitely beyond us.

Andrei. We are. [Clasps hands with Lawrence.]

David. They have moments of physical courage of which we know absolutely nothing.

Harry. [To Andrei.] Darling!

David. [To Lawrence.] Darling! [They fall into each other’s arms.]

[Enter Merriman. When he enters he coughs loudly, seeing the situation.]

Merriman. Ahem! Ahem! The Committee on Professional Conduct!

Andrei. Good heavens!

... to be continued

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's Official

Sorry to have to bring this news to UD's readers, who have followed the Canyon Ranch 'thesda development, which was going to be located across the street from UD's daughter's high school, since it was kneehigh to a grasshopper.

The on-again, off-again effort to bring a luxury Canyon Ranch condominium community to North Bethesda is now officially off, making the high-profile development the region's latest victim of a slumbering condo market that has claimed dozens of projects.

The announcement yesterday from a financial partner of Canyon Ranch, an Arizona-based high-end spa operator moving into condo development, came a little more than a month after the project's developer, the Penrose Group, informed potential buyers that the project would be reevaluated for 30 days because of a slowdown in the real estate market and rapidly increasing construction costs.

In the past six months, developers of 31 condo projects with a combined 5,700 units have abandoned their plans, according to Delta Associates, an Alexandria real estate consulting firm whose clients include Penrose. Condos are taking much longer to sell, as speculators have all but abandoned the market and buyers have become cautious.

Mark W. Gregg, president of Tysons Corner-based Penrose, did not return several phone messages yesterday. However, Kevin Kelly, president of Canyon Ranch, said the deal fell apart because "the market had changed on us."

Kelly said that had the deal hit the market a year ago -- or even a year from now, when he predicts a rebound -- there wouldn't have been a problem. But the development had sold just 30 of 434 units, for $59 million. The project, which also included hotel rooms, retail space and a 90,000-square-foot wellness center, was valued at $1 billion.

"I'm disappointed the market turned prior to us getting it out fully into the marketplace," Kelly said.

So were buyers who had made deposits. "I'm terribly disappointed," said Stuart Bindeman, a Bethesda resident who had put down money for a condo unit. "My wife and I were looking forward to living there. Fortunately I have a beautiful home, and we will stay in that for the time being." [Thank God for small favors.]

The developer is making arrangements to refund the deposits. Canyon Ranch is still interested in pursuing another project in the Washington area, executives said.

The question now is over what will happen to the 53 acres near Old Georgetown Road and I-270 -- a spot many developers say is one of the best undeveloped properties in the region, with quick access to downtown Bethesda, local shopping and a major traffic corridor.

That responsibility apparently rests with Penrose. People familiar with the deal said that Penrose leased a major portion of the land -- for the hotel, wellness center and retail -- from the Davis and Camalier families. For the land under the condos, Penrose had a sales-and-acquisition contract with the families.

"The responsibility for finding new tenants and new land uses is that of the Penrose Group," said Larry Thau, managing director of CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.'s Bethesda office and a business associate of the Camalier family.

Most of the other canceled condo projects are being converted to rental buildings or reverting to apartments after unrealized condo conversions. About a third of the planned units were scrapped altogether. In Montgomery County, eight projects, not including Canyon Ranch, have been discarded or will become rentals.
A Snapshot from Gordon Gee's
Brief Brown University Presidency

(with a wonderful statement
about diversity thrown in too

"In the late 1990s, the son of the man often called the most powerful in Hollywood applied to Brown, prompting an intense internal debate over how far the school should bend its rules for a development case.

Brown President E. Gordon Gee was enthused when Christopher Ovitz, son of superagent Ovitz, sought to enroll. Gee, who had recently arrived at Brown after presiding over three public universities, felt hamstrung by its endowment. Ovitz had a track record of educational philanthropy, and Gee believed he might also open doors to a vast array of Hollywood entertainers and executives.

Chris Ovitz's academic credentials, however, were below Brown's standards. Thomas Hudnut, headmaster at Harvard-Westlake private secondary school, says Chris "was very socially mature and got along well with adults. He was physically and academically immature. That's a very tough combination for a boy to have."

Hudnut says he encouraged the Ovitzes to send Chris to boarding school, where he would be under less of a microscope, but "they weren't ready to do that." Instead, Chris transferred to Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, an arts-oriented school that caters to Hollywood children.

Of five Crossroads classmates who enrolled at Brown, four were inducted into the Cum Laude Society, signifying that they ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school class. According to a copy of the class yearbook, Chris was not in the honor society. Says Erin Durlesser, one of the four: "He definitely was not academic in my opinion. . . . The ones who also applied to Brown felt it was inappropriate competition."

Michael Goldberger, then Brown's admission director, balked at Chris' lack of credentials. According to people familiar with the situation, he cautioned Gee that accepting Chris would damage Brown's credibility with high schools in Southern California.

The president pressed the issue and they compromised, according to former Brown officials. Chris was admitted as a non-matriculating "special student" allowed to take classes at Brown. If he proved his mettle, he would be granted status as a regular student. The school hoped that would jolt him into performing better, according to a person familiar with Brown admissions. Goldberger declines to comment.

James Ellis, a lawyer for the Ovitz family, defends Brown's admission of Chris. "If diversity in terms of background and experience that kids bring to a college campus has any meaning at all, having spent time with Chris and [his sister] Kimberly . . . these kids have perspectives and experiences and backgrounds that I just think are tremendously valuable and unique and would be a benefit to any campus," Ellis says.

Chris Ovitz left Brown within a year and later obtained a bachelor's degree in history from UCLA, his father's alma mater. According to Ellis, Chris is now director of business development for an Internet startup. President Gee left Brown for Vanderbilt University in 2000."
Well, Here 'Tis.

The Chronicle piece is mainly about the phenomenon -- UD knew about it, but not how apparently widespread it is -- of professors writing their own flattering Rate My Professors entries.

I can see how, from a reputation and recruitment perspective, this is a good idea ( "Dr. Mengele is the most compasionate docter I've ever had!!" ), but otherwise it's plain pathetic.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

With a Name Like 'Vanderbilt'...

...your salary's got to be good!

Oh...okay...I finally got the VUcast website to open... I assume it's slow because every Vanderbilt student and alumnus is rushing over to it in order to see how Chancellor Gordon Gee, subject of a front-page story in today's Wall Street Journal about his $1.4 million salary and general Ladnerian excesses, is handling this little crisis:

An article in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 26 analyzed the changing nature of corporate governance at colleges and universities and featured Vanderbilt University as a case study. The Journal's report on this important issue presented an incomplete portrait of Vanderbilt.

The first page of the site goes on to list Vanderbilt's impressive achievements under Chancellor Gee, which the authors of the site seem to think will 'complete' the WSJ portrait of their school. But the WSJ is interested in news; and what's newsworthy about Vanderbilt is not its recent institutional accomplishments but its wildly overcompensated Chancellor....

Let's click to page two of Vanderbilt's crisis-response website -- "Questions and Answers" --

Why does Chancellor Gee have a chef? is, for instance, one of the questions.
Turns out it's a money-saver!

Other questions take up the customary shit unscrupulous university leaders tend to step into: conflict of interest, over-chumminess with trustees and their businesses, vague terms of employment contracts and executive compensation, excessive spending on The Residence, a wife who smokes dope...

A wife who smokes dope?

Q: What is your response to the allegation that Constance Gee used marijuana in the University residence?

A: Vanderbilt does not comment on personnel and personal matters involving faculty and staff. Regarding this particular issue, all relevant and appropriate University policies and procedures were followed.

Tight-ass response to a rather intriguing question... Not that UD cares if Madame Gee, bored out of her gourd in the manse, likes to liven things up with hemp... But these things are awkward on college campuses, where you're supposed to be discouraging your students from doing that sort of thing by setting an example and all...

Gordon Gee. It's a name calling out for a limerick... And now there's some amusing material for one... UD will give it a whirl...

'In its latest sales pitch, Dell Canada directs a simple question to students: "Why go to class when you can download the lecture?"

The Web-based advertisement ran for three days last week under the tag line "Dell PCs. The smarter student's choice." It's part of the company's larger Canadian back-to-school campaign.

The ad has roused the ire of some professors. Many now upload their lecture notes on to the Internet, and some even use video podcasts to allow students to download lectures on a computer or play them on an iPod, a PlayStation Portable and some cellphones.

But, they say these services are meant to supplement classroom exchanges, not provide an excuse for students to skip class.

"I hate Dell's message," said Robert Burk, an award-winning chemistry professor at Carleton University. "All of the video-on-demand and podcasting we do for my course is designed as a review tool for students. I emphasize to them regularly that they must come to class, and to use these things only to watch difficult lectures again."

Last year, Prof. Burk became the first professor in the world to release a video podcast of a university credit course. All class lectures, demonstrations and tutorials of his first-year chemistry course are now available globally at no cost.

Dell Canada says the ad is not meant to encourage students to skip class but to reflect the trend toward online education. Distance education, for instance, allows people to work full-time or live a great distance from a school while attending virtual classes on their own time, so there's no actual class to skip.

"Obviously, that wasn't the intention. We would never encourage students not to go to class," said company spokeswoman Wendy Gottsegen. "We wouldn't be happy if anyone construed it like that."

For his part, Prof. Burk is confident his online options aren't turning his students into no-shows. His data show that the average student in his course watches 120% of the lectures -- typically all of them in the classroom and 20% of them again via video-on-demand or iTunes. And many students watch each lecture twice, he says.

Anyone who thinks they can get through the course successfully without attending the classes had better think again.

"Downloading the lecture to the exclusion of coming to class will not bode well for the student's grade," Prof. Burk cautions.

Dell Canada is actually a little ahead of the curve, says University of Saskatchewan student Brad Flavell. Most professors post lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations to course Web sites, but video podcasting is still the exception, he said. Course Web sites are ideal to review material and prepare for a test, but not to replace a lecture, says Mr. Flavell, a fourth-year history student and vice-president of academic affairs at Saskatchewan's student union.

"The technology that we have out there is great ... It allows people to make sure your notes are right, and just look at that as a second glance. It's an excellent study supplementary."'

---national post/canada---

...readers of The Sheila Variations.

Come for the Capote, stay for the Soltan.
As We Prepare for UD's...

...remarks in the Chronicle of Higher Education tomorrow about Rate My Professors, here's a short piece from the Georgetown University student newspaper about faculty and student attitudes about the thing.

One faculty comment got my attention:

Maureen Corrigan, an adjunct professor of English with [a rather middling]... rating ... said she has never visited the Web site.

“I doubt that Hannah Arendt or Gertrude Stein would have scored high on the congeniality meter,” she said, referring to the German political scholar and American writer.

This brief comment has all the elements of one popular professorial response to phenomena like RMP: Snobbery, self-preening, willful blindness, and false assumptions.

*** Unlike in-house evaluations, which often do want students to go to town on congeniality questions, RMP asks students to focus on the clarity of the professor, the difficulty of the course, and other serious matters. Student comments by and large reflect this approach -- they tend to say little about whether they found a professor congenial, and much about the competence of a professor's style of teaching.

*** Corrigan would know this if she glanced at RMP, but she is above that sort of thing.

*** Not that RMP solicits this sort of information, but Gertrude Stein would no doubt be a hoot in the classroom, since she had a wicked sense of humor and quite the delivery. As for congeniality: Stein was a spectacular hostess who ran the most sought-after salon in Paris. I'm not sure what Corrigan is thinking about here.

Though Arendt would have complained bitterly about not being able to smoke in the classroom, everything I've read about her as a writer, scholar, and teacher suggests that she had a passion and focus that many students would have found not merely congenial, but exciting.

*** As to Corrigan's implicit comparison of herself to people like Arendt and Stein: The main thing students note about Corrigan is that she's easy. Indeed, her overall "Ease" rating is way high. Arendt and Stein were not pushovers.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Peculiarly Bifurcated Book

The new Walter Benn Michaels book, The Trouble with Diversity, is both funny haha and funny hmm.

A direct and witty writer, Michaels gets a lot of play out of ridiculing liberal elites who think they're solving economic inequality when they're merely effusing about how delightful cultural diversity - including the diversity between people with loads of cash and people with almost none - can be.

Though he doesn't like David Brooks, Michaels is noting something very similar to what Brooks notes, in Bobos in Paradise, when he describes a bourgeois bohemian woman who will

ceaselessly bash yuppies in order to show that [she herself has] not become one. [She] will talk about [her] nanny as if she were [her] close personal friend, as if it were just a weird triviality that [the woman herself] happens to live in a $900,000 Santa Monica house and [the nanny] takes the bus two hours each day to the barrio.

Like Richard Rorty, who can be funny, too, when he goes after academics whose theoretical exertions, in terms of producing anything that might contribute to juster economic and social arrangements, are worth shit, Michaels scores point after point exposing the preening absurdity of diversitarians, and in particular the idiocy of their assumption that all cultures, including impoverished ones, are jest the cutest things:

...The union workers who took a day off to protest President Grover Cleveland's deployment of twelve thousand troops to break the Pullman strike weren't campaigning to have their otherness respected.

...It goes without saying ...that there won't... be a National Museum of Lower-Income Americans on the Mall. It's hard to see what good it would be to poor people to start celebrating their culture, much less their survival as a group.

...It's hard to the justification that it's good for the white kids [in college] to get to know a few black kids can be translated into the justification that it's good for the rich kids to get to know a few poor ones. And the kind of diversity produced by a larger number of poor students isn't exactly the sort of thing a college can plausibly celebrate - no poor people's history month, no special 'theme' dormitories (i.e., no Poor House alongside Latino House and Asia House) and no special reunions for poor alumni. Indeed, the whole point of going to Harvard, from the standpoint of the poor, would be to stop being poor...

...[The television show Wife Swap]... is devoted to denying [that it is better to be rich than to be poor]...[ It] succeeds so completely (this is its brilliance) that we find ourselves believing that run-down shacks in the woods are just as nice as Park Avenue apartments, especially if your husband remembers to thank you for chopping the wood when you get home from driving the bus. The idea the show likes is the one Tom Wolfe and company like: that the problem with being poor is not having less money than rich people but having rich people 'look down' on you.

The idea that people don't want economic justice, but rather want their cultural specificity flattered -- no matter how obvious it is that some specificities are profoundly undesirable -- is ludicrous on its face, but Michaels argues persuasively that it continues to dominate the multicultural pieties of our time, and as a result acts as a massive distraction from the real work of bettering people's lives. He's hilarious on the subject, for instance, of American Sign Language culture:

...[W]e can get a sense of how attractive the idea of cultural equality has become and of how successfully it can function to obscure more consequential forms of inequality by recognizing that even in situations where the disappearance of [disadvantages] would seem to be an unequivocally good thing, some people refuse to let go. [With new medical interventions, more and more people can avoid being deaf and having to use ASL.] ... [S]cholars like ... Trevor Johnston have become increasingly concerned about the possibility of sign's disappearance. [Johnston notes that cochlear implants are causing a decline in the signing deaf community which may lead to a] 'loss of language and culture.' 'It goes without saying,' Johnston remarks, 'that this scenario gives me no joy.' ... The hope for ASL is that inadequate health care and some really catastrophic new diseases could keep it alive for a while longer; the fear is that the the cochlear implant and genetic testing will eventually kill it.

Similarly, why mess with poor cultures in America when all cultures are great and should be sustained just because? In any case, Michaels points out, some studies show that many people think they're in a higher economic class than they are. He cites conservative observers who therefore argue that "class and class mobility are functions of how people feel about their position." So

[I]f you can get everybody (the rich and the poor) to think they belong to the middle class, then you've accomplished the magical trick of redistributing wealth without actually transferring any money.

The Trouble with Diversity is really about focusing our attention on the reality of profound and shameful economic disparities in the United States; like Thomas Frank's book, What's the Matter With Kansas?, it's an honestly perplexed inquiry into why Americans will contort themselves in all sorts of emotional ways in order to avoid an intellectual reckoning with gross monetary injustice.

Yet at the end of the book, Michaels overdoes the honesty bit and weakens his case.

In a "Conclusion: About the Author," Michaels natters on about himself -- he's Jewish, he guesses, but not so's you'd notice... he'd rather go to Paris than Las Vegas... reads the New York Times... lives in downtown Chicago...

And ol' UD's thinkin' - He ran out of things to say but he had a book contract, so he's filling up pages... with cultural self-flattery. In that particularly repellent mode UD calls KISS ME I'M HONEST. Says he's got an enormous household income but wants much more because he wants to be the super-rich he envies in the pages of the NYT ... that the homeless guy outside his house pisses him off rather than inspires him to become Albert Schweitzer... that he thinks he has better taste than other people...

When Michaels tells us, in a book about the economic greed, blindness, and insensitivity of American elites, that he himself's an invidious grasping sort, it doesn't humanize him or interestingly complicate the redistribution problem.... If indeed he "does not feel rich" even though he's hugely affluent, one can only conclude that it's because of people like Michaels that we're in the cruel winner-take-all fix he himself deplores.
"We Pay for This School,
and Then We Piss on It."

First-rate writing from Travis Andrews at LSU. For once, Scathing Online Schoolmarm finds nothing to criticize.

So LSU is tired of being a third-tier university.

Somehow, I just do not believe that we are really tired of having at least 126 schools rank higher than us. [Yeah, yeah, this should be "we." But Travis isn't writing for people like UD.]

As I walked the soggy grounds of our campus Saturday through the debauchery of tailgating, I was not hit with the aroma of academic excellence. It smelled more like Keystone Light. ["Aroma of academic excellence." See the alliteration? Very nice. "Soggy... debauchery" is also poetic.]

On game days the University lacks the responsibility needed to be respected by the rest of the country.

I am proud to be a University student most of the time. I think our school has made great advances as a state university; I think Sean O'Keefe has done a good job as chancellor. I feel that the Manship School is an incredible institution.

But on game days I am disgusted by what I see.

There is nothing wrong with tailgating. I enjoy it. But when we begin to ignore our responsibilities as a community, it is no longer innocent fun.

Saturday before our Homecoming game, I walked around all the campsites looking for friends.

As I was walking, I noticed a girl no more than 4 years old playing in the middle of the street with a pick-up truck speeding toward her, the driver distracted by the rows of tents.

The girl's parents were beneath a tent set up next to the street, both apparently drunk.

Two police officers were on the sidewalk, staring at the plate of boiled shrimp between them as they munched away. [The plate of boiled shrimp is a terrific regional detail.]

It was a horrible sight.

I managed to get the girl out of the street before any real damage was done, but after that moment I began to look around with a different perspective.

I saw open fires underneath paper tents in order to stay out of the rain, obscenely drunken adults who probably never attended our University, students climbing into the driver's seats of cars with beers in hand, fans urinating on our buildings and trash strewn everywhere.

What is wrong with us?

How does the University expect to be a pinnacle of higher education and a well-respected institution when every Saturday for a few months we act like drunken animals with reckless abandon with the excuse of supporting our football team?

I do not think there is anything wrong with hanging out, listening to music while grilling burgers with some beer in the ice chest. Tailgating is and hopefully always will be an essential part of the LSU experience. It sets us apart from many other universities across the country.

But I am sure we can manage to do it in a way that does not involve a little girl almost being hit by a truck. I am sure we can manage to do it in a way that does not involve urinating on the institution that we pay for. That I will never understand. We pay for this school, and then we piss on it.

So LSU is tired of being a third-tier university?

Then we better grow up.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


UD has pointed out before on this blog that sheer numbers of people in college mean nothing.

Italy has more people in college than we do. Ooh!

What are they doing there? What sorry excuse for a college are they in?

Piling bodies on is pointless if the college experience -- either because the institution is poor, or because the student lacks a shred of intellectual interest -- is pointless.

I had a student once who got an almost perfect score on his verbal SATs. He was a spectacular writer, and a witty and personable character.

He told me early in his freshman year he had absolutely no interest in attending college -- his wealthy parents insisted he go. His longstanding passion was for car racing and writing about car racing. No matter how many semesters of C minuses he racked up, he was going to be a racer and a racing writer and nothing else.

I assume that's what he's doing now. He barely made it through college. The main thing he accomplished by staying in was delaying the onset of his writing career.

In the Christian Science Monitor, George C. Leef writes:

Boosting college participation would mean recruiting still more ...disengaged students. Increasing their numbers will not give us a more skilled workforce; it will just put more downward pressure on academic standards.

Already standards have been falling for decades, as schools have lowered expectations to keep weak, indifferent students enrolled. Indeed, many students who graduate from college are deficient in even the most basic skills that employers want. Last year's National Assessment of Adult Literacy found, for example, that less than a third of college graduates are proficient in reading and the ability to do elementary mathematical calculations. Similarly, the National Commission on Writing has found that many business executives are appalled at graduates' poor writing skills.

And although the word on the street is that more jobs demand a college degree (and presumably, college-level skills), that's not necessarily true. More employers require job applicants to have a degree not because the work is so challenging, but because there are so many college graduates in the labor force that they can afford to screen out those with less formal education.

In reality, although we may have entered the so-called "knowledge economy," the true backbone of the economy will continue to consist of low- and medium-skilled jobs. Take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics's 10 fastest growing occupations between 2004 and 2014, and you'll find that six of the 10 professions do not require a four-year degree, and four of these call for no academic degree at all.

We currently find many college graduates employed as waiters, cashiers, healthcare aides, and in other jobs that don't require any special background. Expanding college access will just mean more young people with college debts doing low-paid work.

Clearly, the US does not have a quantity problem with regard to higher education. Rather, it has a quality problem. As one student I know puts it, "People would be amazed if they knew how easy it is to graduate without learning anything." Certainly there are numerous positions that demand college-level skills, and we need talented graduates to fill them.

To turn out a more capable crop of young adults, colleges and universities should do their part: Raise academic standards to ensure that only those who want to be in college get there. Also, admissions counselors should remind prospective students that there are good career options for those who don't feel drawn to scholarly work. America is so rich in learning opportunities other than those found in college classrooms that we don't need to raise college graduation statistics for mere numbers' sake.

Above all, the US should stop worrying about the percentage of its younger citizens who have college degrees vs. the percentage in other countries. The truth is, most of what people need to know in order to be successful in life is not learned in formal educational settings. The job skills that help workers advance in their careers are usually learned on the job.

A college education should be accessible to anyone who wants one, but people are pretty good at figuring out what investments in knowledge and skill are best for them. They shouldn't feel undue pressure to obtain a four-year degree. We can all rest assured that our position in the world will not be harmed by the choices of our young people to seek the educational and career paths that best suit their wants and needs.

Distance learning, podcasting, grade inflation, a pulverized curriculum, sports majors on sports-mad campuses, no restrictions on how long people can stay in college -- all of these and many other trends make the world safe for the curious new class of college-goers who shouldn't be in college.

Of course, there's a vast company of administrators whose jobs depend on the existence of these displaced persons...
Snapshots from Home

UD's friends Cyd and Bill, who run
A Third Place Pub and Cafe

in Eustis, Florida, visited this morning. They're
on their way back to Florida, stopping in on friends
and family as they go. They mentioned that they
have a friend who sells UFO Abduction Insurance.
UD has already contacted him.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Million Irish Pieces

Kathy's Story, an insipidly told tale of hyper-Dickensian misery in Ireland's Magdalene laundries, may just be our next big thing, hoaxwise. It has virtually all the James Frey markings -- every significant person dead; absence of any record of her having been in the places she describes; sudden unavailability of the author for newspaper interviews; lawsuits on their way from a variety of institutions, etc.

The London Times writes:

It is a harrowing story of a young woman’s life destroyed by nuns and priests, and it has raced to the top of the bestseller list. But now a chorus of voices, including those of the author’s own family, claim that the ordeal described by Kathy O’Beirne simply does not ring true and is nothing more than a cruel hoax.

Kathy’s Story: A Childhood Hell in the Magdalene Laundries has sold more than 350,000 copies in Ireland and Britain, securing a place in the top five bestselling non-fiction titles in Britain, where it sells under the title Don’t Ever Tell.

Published last year, the story of O’Beirne seemed to encapsulate the anguish of a generation of Irish people whose experiences at the hands of religious orders left them scarred. And it could not have been better timed, with the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland apologising for the conduct of some of its priests and nuns.

But as the sales continued to rise, so too did the questions. In the book she says that she was beaten by her father and sexually abused by two boys from the age of 5 before being sent away to an institution. She claims that at the age of 10 she was repeatedly raped by a priest and whipped by nuns. Later she was forced to take drugs in a mental institution.

“I was consigned to a hell of beatings and abuse,” she wrote. “It was one long scream of suffering which has haunted all of my adult life.”

The first organisation to challenge the account was the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, one of four religious orders which ran the Magdalene laundries — institutions for young women who were seen to be in moral danger.

The sisters said that they invited an independent archivist to study their files after nobody could remember Kathy O’Beirne. No record has turned up of her attendance. She has said, in radio interviews since the book’s publication, that she could not name the institution in which she was abused for legal reasons.

Now her own family is about to dispute her story. Five of her brothers and sisters plan to hold a press conference in Dublin today. O’Beirne’s older brother, Oliver, 52, has told an Irish newspaper: “I read the book and I can’t figure out where she is coming from. My father was a good man. There are nine kids in the family and she is the only one who has any stories of abuse.” Adding that she did not have a good relationship with her family, he said: “I think she needs help.”

The publishers said that they would continue to support the book. Bill Campbell, director of Mainstream Publishing, said in a statement: “We have used every possible effort to establish the truth of Kathy’s memoir. We invited comments and corrections from the Church and we received no substantive response.”

But an Irish charity called Let Our Voices Emerge, established by people who spent time in religious institutions and who are now dedicated to defending their carers, has its doubts. Florence Horsman Hogan told The Times: “By her own admission Kathy has had psychological problems from an early age. Some members of her family have now come forward to state that their father emphatically was not an abuser and that, on the contrary, he worked extremely hard to support all of his children.” She said that the only record of O’Beirne having been in a Catholic institution was when she spent six weeks in St Anne’s Industrial School in Dublin in 1967.

The author has been refusing to speak to newspapers, but in a radio interview last week she insisted that she had proof of everything in the book.
Snapshots from Home

Details on the violence at Georgetown University -- an event overshadowed by yet bloodier business the same night at Duquesne.

But this prose nonetheless pulverizes its subject:

[Lewis] Lapham’s “Pretensions to Empire: Notes on the Criminal Folly of the Bush Administration” is by far the more trying of the two [new books under review]. The editor emeritus of Harper’s Magazine and its Notebook columnist for more than 25 years, Lapham compares the Bush administration to a “criminal syndicate” and Condoleezza Rice to a “capo.” He likens the United States to “a well-ordered police state” and the policies of its Air Force to those of Torquemada and Osama bin Laden. He calls Bush “a liar,” “a televangelist,” “a wastrel” and (ultimately) “a criminal — known to be armed and shown to be dangerous.”

Well. At least his point of view is unambiguous. But unless you agree with it 100 percent — and are content to see almost no original reporting or analysis in support of these claims — you may feel less inclined to throttle Lapham’s targets than to throttle Lapham himself. For this book is all about Lewis Lapham: the breathtaking lyricism of his voice, the breadth of his remarkable erudition. He goes across the street and around the corner to confirm the worst stereotypes about liberals — that they’re condescending, twee, surpassingly smug. “What I find surprising is the lack of objection,” he writes of the misguided American public. “The opinion polls show four of every five respondents saying that they gladly would give up as many of their civil rights and liberties as might be needed to pay the ransom for their illusory safety.” Wouldn’t Lapham be a more interesting columnist if he took this finding seriously? And analyzed it, perhaps, giving it its due? (Though later he generously allows that not every Idahoan and Nebraskan “is as dumb as Donald Rumsfeld,” based on his “reading of the national character in the library of American history and biography and a fairly extensive acquaintance with the novels of Melville, Twain, Howells, James, Wharton, Dreiser, Faulkner, Cather, Anderson, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, O’Hara and Roth.” Idahoans and Nebraskans, rejoice.)

People who are serious about politics don’t just preen. They report, explain, explore contradictions, struggle with ideas, maybe even propose suggestions. If they do none of these things, they’re simply heckling, and if the best Lapham can do is come up with 50 inventive new ways to call Bush an imbecilic oligarch, that’s all he’s doing: heckling. Like his worst counterparts on the right, he compares those he doesn’t like to fanatics, as when he refers to David Frum and Richard Perle as “Mufti Frum” and “Mullah Perle,” adding, “Provide them with a beard, a turban and a copy of the Koran, and I expect that they wouldn’t have much trouble stoning to death a woman discovered in adultery with a cameraman from CBS News.” Possibly, but provide Lapham with a blond wig, stiletto pumps and a copy of “The Fountainhead,” and I suspect he wouldn’t look much different from Ann Coulter. He’s just another talk-radio host, really — only this time by way of Yale and Mensa.

There’s one column that’s conspicuously absent from this collection, and that’s the one from September 2004, which included a brief account of the Republican National Convention. Lapham wrote it as if the convention had already happened, ruefully reflecting on the content and sharing with readers a question that occurred to him as he listened; unfortunately, the magazine arrived on subscribers’ doorsteps before the convention had even taken place, forcing Lapham to admit that the scene was a fiction. He apologized, but pointed out that political conventions are drearily scripted anyway — he basically knew what was going to be said. By this logic, though, I could have chosen not to read “Pretensions to Empire” before reviewing it, since I already knew Lapham’s sensibility, just as he claims to know the Republicans’. But I dutifully read the whole book. And I discovered, with some ironic poignancy, that Lapham did have a point: some people never acquire any more nuance as they go.

Really most sincerely dead.

---new york times---

Friday, September 22, 2006


UD's in the thick of teaching, meeting, holding office hours... But here's a remark a character makes in Don DeLillo's novel Great Jones Street ... Something for you to ponder until I check in later this evening:

"Life itself is sheer ambiguity. If a person doesn't see that, he's either an asshole or a fascist."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

THIS AND THAT... UD races out the door to 'thesda's Montgomery Mall, where she'll do her annual dash-through to get presentable clothes for the academic year. Longtime readers know that this event always ends with a worried call from UD's credit card company, in which she's warned that a thief has been dashing through Montgomery Mall using her card...

*** I Dismember Mama

Shannon Chamberlain writes a fine and balanced appraisal of recent books about the Mommy Wars.

*** Date Change

The article about Rate My Professors in which UD's excellent insights (not that she remembers any of them - it was a phone interview) appear comes out the 27th, not the 26th.

*** New York Times Business Writer's Long National Nightmare Over

For the last few months, UD's been haunted by the anxieties about Harvard's financial future that Joseph Nocera shared in his article titled "Harvard Punishes Success." Mourning the departure of all of Harvard's money men because the university slapped an unconscionable ceiling of $20 million on each man's take home pay (they'd been getting $35 million and were due to get more), Nocera predicted Harvard's endowment would go down the tubes as second-raters willing to work for chump change took over.

Well Joe - and all of us - can heave a sigh of relief! The mendicants now running the show did great! The endowment's up to 30 billion!

Sixty billion, here we come!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Don't Rain But it Pours

A Chronicle of Higher Education article in which UD, among others, is interviewed about the website Rate My Professors, comes out this Tuesday. I'll link to it.
UD quoted in the London Times
Higher Education Supplement

'Daniel Drezner had been an avid reader of blogs since the 1990s, when the now-ubiquitous online soapboxes appeared. But it wasn't until 9/11 when everyone started talking about international politics that Drezner, a specialist on the subject and at the time an associate political science professor at the University of Chicago, weighed in.

As well as wanting to give a "nuanced" expert opinion amid the clamour of amateur punditry, Drezner conceived his blog as a "pedagogical exercise", an experiment in "talking about international politics to an international audience", that he might later write up. But took on a life of its own. "A lot more people read it than I had expected. Within six months, New Republic called [about] an online column and The New York Review of Books [approached], wanting me to do reviews."

Today, his blog carries adulatory blurbs from the likes of Sunday Times columnist Andrew Sullivan, it logs some 4,000 visits a day and its author is newly ensconced as associate professor of international politics, with tenure, at Tufts University.

But along the way Drezner's blogging has been held partly responsible for his being passed over for tenure at Chicago last year, despite previously rapid career advancement and a sterling publishing record, and held up as a salutary example of the perils of the medium for academics. He says part of the problem is academic snobbery. If the blog gets lots of attention, the attitude is "who are you as a junior academic to suddenly be capturing more attention than your senior, better published, more prominent colleagues", even, he says, "if they can't write their way out of a paper bag".

But Drezner is not bitter. Academic hiring decisions can be murky at the best of times, he observes, adding that he doesn't think the blog was the only factor. He has moved on.

But in June the blog issue resurfaced with Yale University's decision to turn down University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole for a Middle East studies chair. Yale Daily News said he had been recommended for the post by two faculties, but because of some of his blog entries The Wall Street Journal had branded him a "notorious anti-Israel academic" and cast aspersions on his seriousness as a scholar because of the time he supposedly devoted to blogging. Both Yale and Cole have refused to comment.

Unlike stamp collecting and other inconspicuous hobbies, a blog has high visibility, says Drezner. These days he counsels against blogging under one's own name if you don't have tenure.

And many seem to agree - a rash of anonymous academic blogs have recently appeared. In his discipline alone, says Mark Thoma, associate economics professor at the University of Oregon, there are at least four anonymous bloggers. One, General Glut, comments: "I'm up for tenure next fall - with the example of the untenured (and recklessly not pseudonymous) megablogger Dan Drezner looming ominously." Thoma, who runs a blog, thinks the web soapboxes aren't central to hiring decisions but, if there is a close decision on who to appoint, it might make the difference. "The big issue is time away from academic work. If they want to use that against you, it's sitting there."

Much may depend on individual institutions' attitude to blogs, though. Many academic bloggers are clustered around certain institutions. Margaret Soltan, associate English and human sciences professor at George Washington University, who blogs on "American university life" at University Diaries, says her campus "seem[s] to have quite a lot of bloggers". This makes it "much easier to think in terms of blogging as an extension of one's already established commitment to public discourse".

The nature of academic appointments makes blogs fair game for hiring committees, says J. Bradford DeLong, economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who is author of the popular Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal. "You're hiring a colleague for up to 40 years. You want somebody who will do very good work, have a positive influence... and increase intellectual diversity. Their web log is relevant."

While blogs may be risky for authors, those who are written about could also be in hot water. Indeed, blogs have been implicated in the downfall of two US college presidents. Last year, an anonymous blog began running stinging criticism of the leadership of Uma Gupta, former president of New York's Alfred State College, by disgruntled staff. She resigned last June.

Benjamin Ladner was fired last October from his job as president of the American University after revelations that he had made extravagant expenses claims. Before his dismissal, he had been trying to shut down a student blog on, which was devoted to exposing his alleged high-rolling lifestyle.

But both cases owe more to poor management than the power of blogs, Soltan says. "The airing of what sound like legitimate complaints against a not very good president and the president's threatened and inept response... could have happened via any number of other media - a newspaper, a list serve, even instant messaging," she says.

Despite lurid headlines such as "Attack of the career-killing blogs" in online magazine, Soltan and others point to the advantages of blogging. As Drezner's experience shows, it can be a vehicle for professional, if not necessarily academic, advancement. Thoma says that, on the strength of his blog, he got commissions from The Wall Street Journal to write online columns. "It's not a voice I'd have had otherwise," he says. Moreover, blogging can be more than an extracurricular project. Drezner's blog has thrown up leads for his academic work. A draft for his forthcoming book All Politics is Global, which he posted on his blog in 2004, drew a response from an economist that included "very valuable comments".

Ultimately, Soltan says, "all the bloggers I know of who are rumoured to have had trouble with appointments because of blogging landed on their feet, big time". Drezner, for example, believes that, although he applied for his current post at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy before the Chicago furore, his blog may have given him an edge.

"It might have played a small positive role," he said. "This is a professional public policy school. They liked the fact that the blog made me a higher profile applicant."'
The Dean's September

'The dean of the University of San Diego's business school – who is in the midst of establishing a program stressing ethics and responsibility – has been arrested in suburban Cleveland and charged with complicity to possess drugs.

Police said Mohsen Anvari, 57, was found meeting with a drug dealer at a hotel.

Anvari was arrested by Beachwood, Ohio, detectives last weekend and charged with a felony Monday as part of “an ongoing drug investigation.” He posted an unspecified amount in bail and was released, police there said.

But Police Chief Mark Sechrist, in the town on Cleveland's eastern edge, wouldn't release details regarding the type and quantity of the controlled substance involved, or what information led to Anvari's arrest.

... In February, Anvari said USD would add a full-time MBA program this fall, a 16-month course that would be limited to 40 students annually. The program, he said, would stress ethics and social responsibility.

“That is in reaction to what is happening in business today – the scandals and the legislative and regulatory responses to them,” Anvari said at the time.

“That goes to the heart of business education today, and we want to make sure that the people we graduate from our program are well-grounded in those issues.”'

via inside higher education

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Scathing Online Schoolmarm

UD considers her fellow 'thesdan Robert Samuelson's recent opinion piece in the Washington Post.

'Call it the ExhibitioNet. [Samuelson wants to start with a bang, so he contrives this clever name for the exhibitionistic internet: ExhibitioNet. Only the name's not clever. Result: Inauspicious first sentence.] It turns out that the Internet has unleashed the greatest outburst of mass exhibitionism in human history. [The word - the concept - exhibitionism - is too broad for the use Samuelson seems to want to make of it here. As a writer who has written for decades about private as well as public matters in tons of different media, Samuelson is, by the vague measure he's about to offer, much more exhibitionistic than the people he attacks.] Everyone may not be entitled, as Andy Warhol once suggested, to 15 minutes of fame. [Lazy writer. The Warhol quotation is dead in the water, having been cited everywhere by everyone. And cast your eye to the end of Samuelson's essay: He'll also quote Thoreau on quiet desperation. Surpassing writerly sloth.] But everyone is entitled to strive for 15 minutes -- or 30, 90 or much more. We have blogs, "social networking" sites (, Facebook), YouTube and all their rivals. Everything about these sites is a scream for attention. Look at me. Listen to me. Laugh with me -- or at me. [Again, as a tireless promoter of his own experiences through decades of writing, Samuelson is hardly in a position to complain about other people. Unless, of course, he thinks he's better than other people, more deserving of air time. I'd be willing to consider his case for himself on this score, but he doesn't make it in this tossed-off plaint. Further, at no point in this opinion piece will Samuelson note that his traditional media -- judging by his bio, I'd guess he's in his sixties -- which are newspapers and magazines, are struggling to keep up with the new media he's describing as worthless and narcissistic. It would be more honest of him to mention the threat these new forms pose to writers like him rather than attacking them all as primal screams.]

This is no longer fringe behavior. MySpace has 56 million American "members." Facebook -- which started as a site for college students and has expanded to high school students and others -- has 9 million members. (For the unsavvy: MySpace and Facebook allow members to post personal pages with pictures and text.) About 12 million American adults (8 percent of Internet users) blog, estimates the Pew Internet & American Life Project. YouTube -- a site where anyone can post home videos -- says 100 million videos are watched daily.

Exhibitionism is now a big business. In 2005 Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought MySpace for a reported $580 million. [Newspapers like the ones Samuelson writes for are shrinking businesses. Why?] All these sites aim to make money, mainly through ads and fees. [This describes very few blogs. But then Samuelson is bundling all of these very different online forms of writing into one big nasty.] What's interesting culturally and politically is that their popularity contradicts the belief that people fear the Internet will violate their right to privacy. In reality, millions of Americans are gleefully discarding -- or at least cheerfully compromising -- their right to privacy. They're posting personal and intimate stuff in places where thousands or millions can see it. [Samuelson's details about his kids' college choices, which he recently wrote about in Newsweek, are in some way different from this.]

People seem to crave popularity or celebrity more than they fear the loss of privacy. Some of this extroversion is crass self-promotion. The Internet is a cheap way to advertise ideas and projects. Anyone can post a video on YouTube, free; you can start a blog free (some companies don't charge for "hosting" a site). Last week a popular series of videos -- Lonelygirl15 -- on YouTube was revealed to be a scripted drama, written by three aspiring filmmakers, and not a teenager's random meditations.

But the ExhibitioNet is more than a marketing tool. The same impulse that inspires people to spill their guts on "Jerry Springer" or to participate in "reality TV" shows (MTV's "The Real World" and its kin) has now found a mass outlet. MySpace aims at an 18-to-34-year-old audience; many of the pages are proudly raunchy. U.S. News & World Report recently described MySpace as "Lake Wobegon gone horribly wrong: a place where all the women are fast [and] the men are hard-drinking."

The blogosphere is often seen as mainly a political arena. That's a myth. According to the Pew estimates, most bloggers (37 percent) focus on "my life and personal experiences." Politics and government are a very distant second (11 percent), followed by entertainment (7 percent) and sports (6 percent). Even these figures may exaggerate the importance of politics. Half of bloggers say they're mainly interested in expressing themselves "creatively." [At this point in his piece, Samuelson looks like a resentful codger, anxiously dissing a new technology putting real political writers like himself out of business.]

Self-revelation and attitude are what seem to appeal. Heather Armstrong maintains one of the most popular personal blogs ( "I never had a cup of coffee until I was 23-years-old," she writes. "I had premarital sex for the first time at age 22, but BY GOD I waited an extra year for the coffee." She started her blog in 2001, got fired from her job as a Web designer in Los Angeles for writing about work ("My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID."), became "an unemployed drunk," got married and moved to Salt Lake City, where she had a child.

Armstrong is a graceful and often funny writer. ("I am no longer a practicing Mormon or someone who believes that Rush Limbaugh speaks to God. My family is understandably disappointed.") The popular site now has so many ads that her husband quit his job. Recent postings include an ode to her 2-year-old daughter, a story about her dog and a plug for her friend Maggie's book, "No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog." Idea No. 32: breaking up. Naturally, Armstrong expounds on her busted relationships.

Up to a point, the blogs and "social networking" sites represent new forms of electronic schmoozing -- extensions of e-mail and instant messaging. What's different is the undiluted passion for self-publicity. [Again, there's no way around the compromising position a writer like Samuelson, himself a self-promoter, has now put himself in.] But even among the devoted, there are occasional doubts about whether this is all upside. Facebook recently announced a new service. Its computers would regularly scan the pages of its members and flash news of the latest postings as headlines to their friends' pages. There was an uproar. Suppose your girlfriend decides she's had enough. The potential headline to your pals: "Susan dumps George." Countless students regarded the relentless electronic snooping and automatic messaging as threatening -- "stalking," as many put it. Facebook modified the service by allowing members to opt out.

The larger reality is that today's exhibitionism may last a lifetime. What goes on the Internet often stays on the Internet. Something that seems harmless, silly or merely impetuous today may seem offensive, stupid or reckless in two weeks, two years or two decades. Still, we are clearly at a special moment. Thoreau famously remarked that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Thanks to technology, that's no longer necessary. People can now lead lives of noisy and ostentatious desperation. Or at least they can try.' [All reasonable people agree that much of what goes on online is crude, self-serving, idiotic, and sometimes dangerous. But by throwing all screen activity into one smelly pot, and by assuming a condescending point of view, Samuelson has repelled readers looking for nuanced appraisals of new technologies and forms of expression.]


No surprises here.

The college diplomas of the nation's top executives tell an intriguing story: Getting to the corner office has more to do with leadership talent and a drive for success than it does with having an undergraduate degree from a prestigious university.

Most CEOs of the biggest corporations didn't attend Ivy League or other highly selective colleges. They went to state universities, big and small, or to less-known private colleges.

Wal-Mart Stores CEO H. Lee Scott, for example, went to Pittsburg State University in Kansas, Intel CEO Paul Otellini to University of San Francisco and Costco Wholesale CEO James Sinegal to San Diego City College.

This information should help allay the anxieties of many parents and their college-bound children who believe admission to a top-ranked school with a powerful alumni network is a prerequisite to success in the upper echelons of business management. Today's crop of chief executives are, of course, at least a generation older than current college students, but they are in the position to hire and say they don't favor job candidates with certain degrees.

Is an undergraduate degree from an elite private college worth the cost? "I don't care where someone went to school, and that never caused me to hire anyone or buy a business," says Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

What counts most, CEOs say, is a person's capacity to seize opportunities. As students, they recall immersing themselves in their interests, becoming campus leaders and forging strong relationships with teachers. And at state and lesser-known schools, where many were the first in their families to attend college, they sought challenges and mixed with students from diverse backgrounds -- an experience that helped them later in their corporate climbs.

Bill Green, CEO of Accenture, never planned to go to college. The son of a plumber, he took a construction job when he graduated from high school in western Massachusetts because he didn't think he had the ability to pursue more education. He changed his mind when he visited friends at Dean College, a two-year community school near Boston.

"Walking around campus, listening to my friends talk, I realized they were being exposed to a big world -- and I had a chance to take another shot at learning," he says.

At Dean, he got help from faculty members who devoted themselves to their students, not "doing research and writing books like professors at four-year schools," he says. Rather than post student-meeting times on their office doors, they posted their class schedules. "All the other time, they were available to any student who needed help," says Mr. Green, who worked part-time to pay for part of his tuition.

Inspired by an economics professor who made the subject "fun and relevant," Mr. Green went on to Babson College to earn his bachelor's and M.B.A. degrees. But he credits Dean with teaching him to think analytically, to gain confidence in his abilities and to learn to work with people.

"You can go to a top-end school and end up dramatically underperforming, or you can go to a place that cares and blow away what everyone thinks," says Mr. Green, who still stays in touch with his economics professor, Charlie Kramer. A trustee at Dean, he feels angry when he encounters "parents who are afraid or ashamed to say their son or daughter is attending a community college," he says.

Some 10% of CEOs currently heading the top 500 companies received undergraduate degrees from Ivy League colleges, according to a survey by executive recruiter Spencer Stuart. But more received their undergraduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin than from Harvard, the most represented Ivy school.

Harvard's nine current CEOs include United Technologies' George David and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer. Among Wisconsin's 10 current CEOs are Pitney Bowes's Michael Critelli, Kimberly-Clark's Thomas Falk and Halliburton's David Lesar. Carol Bartz, chairman and former CEO of Autodesk, majored in computer science at Wisconsin and used a scholarship she'd won for women gifted in math to help pay her tuition.

Some non-Ivy League schools have long been training grounds for particular industries. The University of Texas-Austin, the alma mater of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has churned out numerous oil executives. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, is known for its computer-science graduates. But some of today's most successful CEOs got their start on small, isolated campuses.

A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble's CEO, chose Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., because he wanted a solid liberal-arts education and to be assured a spot on the intercollegiate basketball team. A history major who graduated in 1969, he was elected president of his sophomore class, became a fraternity officer and spent his junior year studying in France.

"I learned to think, to communicate, to lead, to get things done," he says, adding that those qualities are what he seeks in job candidates at his company. "Any college will do."

Berkshire Hathaway's Mr. Buffett didn't even want to go to college. He enrolled at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School as an undergraduate at his father's behest. He stayed just two years, then returned home to Omaha and graduated from Nebraska within a year.

At his father's urging again, Mr. Buffett applied to Harvard Business School, which rejected him as too young, he says. By then, he was devouring the books of investors David Dodd and Benjamin Graham, who advocated investing in companies that had "intrinsic business value" -- a view that became Mr. Buffett's guiding investment principal.

When he learned the two men were teaching at Columbia University's business school, he wrote to them to ask if he could attend their lectures. He earned a Master's degree in economics at Columbia in 1951. "But I didn't go there for a degree, I went for those two teachers, who were already my heroes,'' he says.

One reason more Ivy League alumni aren't CEOs may be that many have traditionally chosen careers in investment banks and at big law firms, where they could earn big sums quickly and wouldn't have to start in entry-level management jobs.

"A lot of people who earn degrees from tier-one universities and business schools aren't willing to start at the bottom of a huge company" and spend years scaling layers of management and hoping to reach the top, says Richard Tedlow, a business historian at Harvard Business School.

The exception are some founders of high-tech companies who never completed college. They found their classroom studies less compelling than their own ideas. Bill Gates quit Harvard to start Microsoft, Michael Dell quit the University of Texas-Austin to start Dell Computer and Steve Jobs quit Reed College in Portland, Ore., to work at Atari and then found Apple Computer. None ever returned to college to complete a formal degree.

What do they think about this decision today -- and would they advise young people to copy them? In a graduation speech at Stanford last year, Mr. Jobs said college, like any life decision, is up to each individual. "You have to trust your gut," he said.

His decision to quit Reed after one semester was "pretty scary" but ultimately "one of the best decisions I ever made," because instead of taking required courses that didn't interest him he spent the next 18 months auditing classes that did.

A calligraphy course he audited strongly influenced his design of the Macintosh computer ten years later. "If I'd never dropped in on that single course, the Mac would never have had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts," he said.

Quitting college also eased his guilt about spending his adoptive working-class parents' savings "when I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure that out," he said. But dropping out "wasn't romantic," he warned. "I didn't have a dorm room so I slept on the floor of friends' rooms and returned Coke buy food."

Thomas Neff, chairman of recruitment firm Spencer Stuart U.S., warns: "It's the exceptionally inventive person who can do this. If you have a big, big new idea, you can get venture financing -and if you wait to graduate someone else may capitalize on your idea first," he says.

But for everyone else who wants a professional or management job at a big company, a college degree is a necessity -- including for jobs at Apple, Microsoft and Dell. And increasingly, employers also expect graduate degrees for management-track candidates. Close to two-thirds of top CEOs have either an M.B.A., law, or other advanced degree, according to Spencer Stuart's survey -- and some executives who didn't go to Ivy League colleges got Ivy credentials as graduate students. P&G's Mr. Lafley has a Harvard M.B.A.

Robert Iger, CEO at Walt Disney Co., decided in high school that he wanted to work in television and attended Ithaca College in upstate New York because he felt its strong communications program would nurture his career dreams. "I was in a place that supported creativity and individuality with a focus on what I was most interested in," says Mr. Iger, who took liberal-arts and hands-on broadcast courses. After college, he got a job working for ABC-TV, now a unit of Disney.

Anyway, by the time someone has been working for a few years, or held one or two jobs, their employment record counts more than their educational background, recruiters say. And companies seeking to fill CEO and other senior jobs rarely consider candidates' degrees. "It's what you've accomplished that matters," says Mr. Neff, "not what you were doing at 21."

carol hymowitz, wall street journal
...And in the very same wee hours... the Duquesne mess, campus nastiness closer to home.

From the Georgetown University newspaper:

'Three Department of Public Safety officers and one student were hospitalized early Sunday morning after a fight broke out in front of the Reiss Science Building. An additional student was treated on the scene.

DPS responded shortly after midnight to calls that a fight had broken out among a large group of students heading from Henle Village toward Red Square. The officers encountered the crowd of students across from Reiss and attempted to disperse and calm the group when more violence flared. DPS notified the Metropolitan Police Department, which arrived within eight minutes, according to DPS Director Darryl Harrison.

Officers Timothy Desmond, Leroy Jackson and Ghedlom Kiros all received bruises in the torso from strikes with a blunt object. One of the officers was more severely injured, suffering lacerations on his head and required stitches. All three were admitted to Georgetown University Hospital and were released by 7 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Several other students were knocked down and injured as the crowd fled the scene, but only the two student injuries were reported. Blood stains were still visible yesterday afternoon on the sidewalk beside the benches between Red Square and the Leavey Center.

At one point, DPS blocked access to the area between Reiss and Henle as witnesses were questioned. MPD searched the area but no arrests were made and the officers did not gather much information about the suspects. As of yesterday evening, the investigation remained active and DPS was still looking to speak with students who witnessed either the fight or its origins.

“We’re taking this investigation very seriously,” Harrison said, “particularly with three officers down.”

In a campus-wide public safety alert sent out by e-mail last night, the Office of University Safety encouraged students with any information about the incident to contact DPS.

Vice President for University Safety David Morrell said he remained confident that regular DPS patrols would be able to maintain campus safety. He also said he did not believe it was necessary to increase scrutiny of visitors coming onto campus, though he said that “having an open campus brings issues with it.”

Daniel Rendelman (COL ’09) was returning home along the pathway shortly after the officers were injured and witnessed the aftermath of the incident. He recalls seeing five to six officers gathered around another officer clutching his head. “Girls were crying and I saw one student knocked down when the crowd ran by,” he said.'
My Suspicion...

...that some of the Duquesne trouble came from within has been confirmed. What's also been confirmed is the selfless heroism of two of the players:

'A woman was arrested on weapons-related charges stemming from the shootings of five members of the Duquesne University basketball team, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

The woman was accused of helping six men, some of whom she knew were armed, get into a school dance, the documents said.

Duquesne sophomore Brittany Jones, 19, was arrested Monday on charges of reckless endangerment, carrying a firearm without a license and criminal conspiracy, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Jones was arraigned and jailed after she was unable to post $2,000 bond Tuesday morning.

Three players remained hospitalized Tuesday following Sunday's shootings after the dance sponsored by the school's Black Student Union. The most seriously wounded, junior forward Sam Ashaolu, 23, was in critical condition at Mercy Hospital with bullet fragments in his head.

According to a criminal complaint, Jones, who is active with the Black Student Union, got a call from a man asking if he and his brother could come to the dance. They arrived with four others about midnight.

While walking to the party, several of the men asked Jones if they were going to be "patted down" before entering, authorities said. The doorman allegedly told Jones that partygoers weren't being searched, and the men went into the dance, police said.

Jones's attorney, James Ecker, would not confirm Tuesday whether she was cooperating with authorities and would not comment on reports that authorities may drop charges if she provides information to the police.

"I can say she's spent a lot of time with police in the last couple of days, Sunday and Monday," Ecker said.

"Until this case goes to a hearing or trial, she's presumed innocent," he said.

In interviews Monday with The Associated Press, several players said the shooter was a non-student unhappy that the woman he accompanied to the dance had talked with a player. The shooter and at least one other man followed the players when they left the dance to walk to their dormitory, they said.

When the gunfire erupted freshman Stephen Wood and teammate Aaron Jackson dropped to the ground.

"It seemed like the bullets never stopped coming," Jackson said, rubbing the left wrist that was grazed by a bullet.

Junior guard Kojo Mensah, 6-foot-7 forward Stuard Baldonado and Ashaolu were the first players hit in the attack.

Junior center Shawn James was wounded on the foot but escaped by running across the nearby football field.

Wood, who was not struck, saw Baldonado bleeding badly from his left arm and quickly took off his own shirt and applied a tourniquet.

"I turned away, and saw Stu on the floor, and my first reaction was to take my shirt off and try to stop the bleeding," Wood said. "Then I turned around and I saw Sam laying there."

Though wounded, Mensah aided several players by helping to barricade them behind a nearby steel door. Jackson lifted the 250-pound Baldonado on his back, carried him to his car and drove him to nearby Mercy Hospital.

"He was real heavy," Jackson said. "He's the strongest guy I've ever met. But when he passed out on me in the car, man, that really (was bad)."

Baldonado was in serious but improving condition with left arm and back injuries. He said surgeons explained that a bullet missed his spinal column by one-quarter of an inch before lodging in a lower back muscle. Surgery to remove the bullet was planned for Tuesday.

"I'm lucky," he said. "I feel much better today."

Baldonado, the most promising of the Duquesne's 10 recruits, likely won't play this season because his back injury will need two to three months of rehabilitation. He is expected to be released from the hospital by the end of the week.

The former Miami-Dade Community College player also was shot in the left arm. Doctors transplanted a vein from his groin to that arm during reconstructive surgery.

Mensah, shot in an arm and shoulder, was kept overnight at UPMC Presbyterian to receive additional injections of antibiotics but was expected to be discharged later Tuesday.

James, the nation's leading shot blocker last season while playing at Northeastern, was released from the hospital but still has the bullet lodged in his left foot.

Jackson and Wood downplayed their roles in the attack, saying they didn't consider themselves heroes.

"We didn't think about this, or to do that," Jackson said. "You think, `Oh, that's my man, we're going to look out for him.' "

University president Charles Dougherty said he believed the incident was the first ever shooting on the downtown campus of 10,000 students. He said additional safety measures will be considered, though it's unlikely Sunday's shootings could have been prevented.

"We could have had a policeman every 50 yards and couldn't have stopped that," he said.

None of the players said they were considering a transfer.

"Our morale is down right now, but we have so much team chemistry," Jackson said. "We found out we really love each other, and we've only known each other for a month."'

Thanks to Mike for the story.
I Almost Forgot!

So obsessed were I wit me bairn's sixteenth, I plum forgot that TODAY is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrr!

Thankee, RJO, of The Collegiate Way, for reminding me.

Monday, September 18, 2006


'A powerful southern New Jersey politician was paid for a no-work job at a scandal-ridden state university while helping the school garner millions of dollars in new state funding, according to a report released Monday.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey paid state Sen. Wayne Bryant, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, $35,000 a year "to lobby himself in his capacity of state senator," according to the report of a federal monitor who had investigated the school's finances.

The report said all Bryant appeared to do at the university's School of Osteopathic Medicine was show up for three hours most Tuesdays to read newspapers.

Bryant, a Democrat, was the sole subject of the report released Monday. He did not return calls seeking comment, and did not show up to an event he was expected to attend on Monday at a college near Newark.

Herbert J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor and judge, was appointed to investigate the university in December after the school admitted overbilling Medicaid by more than $5 million. A previous report he issued suggested losses from fraud and abuse there could exceed $243 million.

The report said Bryant was employed at the university's School of Osteopathic Medicine from March 2003 until February 2006 and that during that time, the school's state allocation skyrocketed.

According to the report, Bryant helped deliver a total of $12.8 million over the three years — up from $2.8 million per year before the school created a job for him.

In 2003, the osteopathic school created a position for Bryant and did not advertise it publicly, the report found.

John Crosbie, an official at the school, told investigators that Bryant was hired only for his "political juice."

The report said Bryant did not grant an interview to investigators.'
Last One, I Promise.

La kid, couple of days ago, in her Renaissance
getup, embraced by fellow members of the Walter
Johnson High School Madrigals. Membership
in the Madrigals is something of a family tradition:
UD's older sister, many moons ago, was also a
member. (UD was too intimidated by the group's
stringent sight-reading demands to audition.)
...and... coming in just behind the leader ... it's....

From the Beaver County Times:


Some [religious] denominations have begun recognizing obesity with programs, sponsoring fitness walks and exercise opportunities. "Gospel aerobics" and yoga classes are on the rise, and books such as "Body by God" have hit the bestseller lists.

Cami Allen, a certified yoga instructor from Beaver Falls, leads a new Christian yoga class called PraiseMoves at New Brighton Christian Assembly, a denomination that ranked second on [a local researcher's] obesity scale.

Marching in place, class members start with a 15-minute warm-up, or as Allen calls it, the Jericho March. Clasping their hands in prayer, the class softly murmurs spiritual affirmations and recites passages such as "Therefore glorify God in your body, for you were bought with a price."

Allen said she weaves Scriptures into the classes, which began at the church this month and also take place at Source Fitness Center in Ambridge. One session is completely based on the Lord's Prayer, which students recite while doing postures.

"As Christians," Allen said, "we can practice something very beneficial to our bodies, and hey, we're putting Christ into it."
Are Academics Tougher?

Daniel Drezner explicates The Siegel, a Chekhovian tragedy in one act:

[D]espite [Lee] Siegel's status as a professional critic, he seemed incapable of tolerating any form of criticism leveled at his writing -- even if the criticism was, in Siegel's eyes, an expression of pure id by anonymous commenters.

This might be a comparative advantage academics bring to the blogosphere -- thicker skins. All academics have had the experience of presenting their work to other scholars, and then have that work analytically sliced and diced by experts who know what they are doing (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Once you have undergone that kind of experience, having a commenter write the equivalent of, "Hey, Drezner, you're a f%$ing @*&hole and your argument sucks!" seems like an amusing trifle...

Not sure I agree. What's striking about academics, as Drezner says, is that they're accustomed to reasoned criticism of their writing. My co-author and I have just read through three closely argued pages of response to our manuscript, The Return of Beauty to Literary Studies. The reader for the press recommends publishing it, but he/she has plenty to say about certain sections that need revision. Not only do we expect that; we welcome it as a sign that the reviewer read our work carefully and took it seriously.

The ad hominem stuff of the blogosphere is very different. I think most academics -- protected from the fray -- would find it appalling.

No - I think the explanation for the Siegel fiasco lies in the man's peculiar combination of extremely intense vanity and extremely intense aggression.

That was an academic way of putting it. What I mean is he's out of his effing mind.
Happy Sixteenth Birthday... UD's

...Joyce-Themed Spawn.
The Shootings at Duquesne:
Details, Questions

'...“There was a big group and there was yelling and people were [chanting] ‘fight, fight!’ All of a sudden like you see a guy in a white shirt, button down … I jumped from the bench, I grab the girl who was next to me, and start telling everybody to get down,” [a student] said.

...[An official] confirmed two guns were identified by witnesses at the scene, though officials could not say which individual had the second firearm. Up to a dozen shots were fired, Dougherty said, and city police added that although they could not disclose the make, model or caliber of the guns, evidence was collected at the scene.

Under article IV of the Duquesne University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct, is it a violation of policy for students to possess firearms, explosives, other weapons, or dangerous chemicals on University premises...'

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Do My Best.


University Diaries was the subject of much speculation when analysts at several firms were heard to be very positive about its recent performance. Its share price rose from B$1,661.68 to B$2,243.27. Much of the hype was said to originate from Rams Fan whose Degree (artefact) was said to be involved.

Rams Fan declined to comment on the recent speculation.'

Blogshares, the blog stock market.
Update on the Shooting at Duquesne

My assumption that some of the students involved may also have done some shooting may be wrong. At this early stage, various versions of the incident are being offered, and it'll be some time, I think, before a clear understanding of the event emerges. But for now, it seems that there was one, non-student, shooter, who had been at the same party some of the injured students attended last night. He apparently attacked the students as they were on their way to their dorms:

According to police, two players were returning from a social function on campus when they encountered a man who apparently had been disruptive at the party. After the players tried to calm down the man, the players began walking away, only to be shot. Several other players who were nearby rushed to their aid, also to be shot.

Here's the account of the incident I cited this morning:

'Five Duquesne University basketball players were shot early this morning on campus and taken to local hospitals, according to the Uptown university.

Three students were treated and released but two remained in the hospital -- one with critical injuries -- as of 9:30 a.m. City homicide detectives are investigating the incident along with campus police.

The shooter is not believed to be a Duquesne student, the university said in a written statement.

"First and foremost, we are concerned about our students and are praying that each of them has a full recovery. We will offer support and services to the victims and their families, as well as to our other students who may have been affected by this tragic incident. This type of situation has never occurred before on Duquesne's campus. The University is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation," said spokeswoman Bridget Fare in the statement.

Extra campus police officers have been assigned to on-campus residences and the university is offering counseling for victims and other students.

The names of the injured students were not immediately available. The university would not offer more information this morning while the investigation continued.'


And here's some description from a Duquesne student's Live Journal:

Shooting at Duquesne?

Yup...apparently so. A few people got shot on campus about a minute walk from my dorm building at about 2:30 AM. I won't go into details because everyone has their own version of those details. Even so... of all the places for a shooting, Duquesne's campus is one of the last places you should choose. Stupid people.

'Kathryn Elizabeth Slanski, a lecturer on Assyriology at Yale, was married yesterday to Eckart Erich Marcel Frahm, an assistant professor of Assyriology there.... Ms. Slanski and Mr. Frahm met in 1998 at an academic conference on Assyriology at Yale, where each had heard the other present a paper in their field. Two years later they met again at the same conference, held this time in Paris, and then at Yale again in February 2002, when both were finalists for the assistant professorship now held by the bridegroom.'
Time Machine

'Over Half a Million Cubans Go to University

Dr. Juan Vela, Cuba´s Minister of Higher Education, gave this figure during a working visit to the Vladimir I. Lenin University Campus in eastern Las Tunas province.'

The Psychotic Blogger

The New York Times interviews Lee Siegel:

...[D]on’t you think it’s intellectually lame to express one’s opinions anonymously?

I do indeed. Everyone seems to be fleeing from the responsibilities that come from being who you are. I think that is why the blogosphere is thriving. It allows people to develop a fantasy self.

You yourself comfortably adopted a false persona when you had Sprezzatura comment about one of your critics that he “couldn’t tie Siegel’s shoelaces.” Doesn’t that show great immaturity on your part?

I am too childlike to be immature.

Is that just doublespeak?

No, I’m saying it under my own name.

Artists are allowed to be ill-mannered brutes without diminishing the quality of their work, but shouldn’t critics be balanced and self-analyzed individuals?

Of course they should. I’m thoroughly analyzed. I can show you the receipts. But as Sprezzatura, I wasn’t practicing criticism. I was indulging my temperament and abandoning my intellect. Look, putting a polemicist like myself in the blogosphere is like putting someone with an obesity problem in a chocolate factory.

What are you talking about?

How dare you question my authority! Seriously, the blogosphere strips argument of logic and rhetoric down to the naked emotion behind it.


Update: Oso Raro says Siegel

looks hot. I guess if you like chipmunk cheeks...
Let's do a little compare and contrast ...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Alan Wolfe on
Parochial Professors

'I've taught in at least two universities known for their leftism, and I know full well that those who teach at them strenuously oppose hiring conservatives and treat students who venerate the military, for example, as misguided.

...It is instructive to learn that anthropology is not a discipline composed entirely of like-minded people because left-liberals do not always agree with poststructuralist Marxists, but this hardly addresses the widespread perception that cultural anthropology has little room for those who might believe that America's presence in a third-world country might bring about some good.'
Harriet Miers
Ghosting Katie's Blog!!

From Katie's Blog!!

“Hi, everyone! Okay, I’ve been waiting to exhale for some time now and I finally have!!! Last night was my one week anniversary and the good news is, I’m still employed!"

(On her debut): “I felt the usual butterflies in my stomach before the broadcast, actually, the butterflies felt more like gigantic peacocks (but that may have something to do with my last job). For the first time in a long time I actually had the sensation that my heart was going to actually penetrate my chest . . .

(After the first show): “Some of my close friends got together to watch the show and had a martini waiting for me when I arrived at 7:30. I’m not a big drinker, but I have to say, that really hit the spot. There was a little dancing and merriment (whatever that means) before I had to head to Washington to interview the president the next morning. (Good thing they cut me off after one martini!)”

(At the White House): “I was impressed by the respect President Bush has for the place. He even told one of our producers Straighten your tie, young man. You’re in the White House. I loved that.

(Editing the president’s interview) was done so close to air that the producer, my friend Susan Zirinsky, said her running bra was somewhere between the edit room and the control room.

“Bob Barker wants me to implore viewers at the end of every broadcast to have your pets spayed or neutered. Mmmmmmmmmmmm...interesting.”

“As the late Karen Carpenter sang, Close to you, I mean, We’ve only just begun. Wow, how hip am I? Stay tuned!”


From Harriet's Blog!!



I look so so hot in black robes.

...that was the subject of an email I just got! LOLOL!!

Seriously though, I've always believed that dreams really do come true. Wouldn't it be funny if Souter and I got married? Like our kids would automatically be Supreme Court Justices! j/k I know how the Constitution works.

Everyone agrees I'm gonna confirmed!! I think when people criticize it's just sour grapes 99% of the time. And like every minute I get another phone call from someone--"you go!" "yeah!"

To everyone who's stuck by me all my life THANK YOU!!!
College Football:
An Example for Students,
On and Off the Field

'Being a patsy never has paid so well.

College football always has embraced no-contest contests, those glorified scrimmages big-name teams use to pad stats and play backups while the outclassed bunch on the other side tries to retain a little dignity.

The reward for being a reliable pushover always has been a fat check.

With the 12-game schedule now a permanent part of major college football, the weak teams have found themselves in a position of strength at the negotiating table. And Division I-AA teams are getting more opportunities to play up and cash in.

For the big guys, those easy wins have become a lot more costly.

West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said in the past he'd pay "a couple hundred thousand'' to bring a team to Morgantown with no return trip involved.

"Now it's being doubled,'' he said.

And then some.

Check out a few of these scores from the first two weeks of the college football season: Clemson 54, Florida Atlantic 6; Iowa 41, Montana 7; Nebraska 56, Nicholls 7; West Virginia 52, Eastern Washington 3.

But the folks on the wrong side of those lopsided games aren't complaining. Not at these rates.

Eastern Washington got $450,000 from West Virginia. Florida Atlantic made $500,000. Division I-AA Nicholls State received $350,000 to make the trip from Thibodeaux, La., to Lincoln - half of what Louisiana Tech received to play the Cornhuskers a week earlier. Tech fared only a bit better than the Colonels, falling 49-10 in front of 81,000 at Memorial Stadium.

Division I-AA Montana got $650,000 to be the first team to play in Iowa's newly renovated Kinnick Stadium.

"This a fundraising junket for the rest of the athletic department,'' Grizzlies coach Bobby Hauck said before the game. "There's no confusion. The guys know we're going out there to get a paycheck.''

That payday, along with the $450,000 the university received when the Grizzlies played at Oregon in 2005, allowed the athletic department to dig itself out from a $1 million debt two years earlier than expected, athletic director Jim O'Day said.

"I didn't believe in playing for pay,'' said Jacksonville State athletic director Jim Fuller, whose I-AA program will make about $600,000 to play Mississippi State twice and Georgia Tech twice over the next four seasons. "But the reason you do it is to create revenue, and we're all searching for ways to do this.''

The move to a 12-game schedule, which made most coaches cringe, was money driven. For the power conference teams, it meant a chance to play another home game and pocket the millions in revenue created by a packed stadium with long concession lines. At schools such as LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida and Tennessee, fans fill 90,000-plus seats no matter who the home team plays.

What the 12-game slate also created was increased demand for the teams at the bottom of the pile in I-A football to fill up all those new dates for the teams at the top.

West Virginia ended up having to turn to Eastern Washington this spring to fill a date after Buffalo bailed out on the Mountaineers to take a game - and bigger payday - with Auburn. Schedules usually are set years in advance, so Pastilong had to scramble and pay premium rates to get the Eagles to make the cross-country trip from Cheney, Wash.

Pastilong said the $450,000 paid to Eastern Washington is as much as he's prepared to spend on a non-return game - a game where the home team is not contracted to eventually play at the road team's stadium.

Elite and profitable programs such as Nebraska, which clears about $3 million per home game, can afford to pay for two or three non-return games a season - Troy is getting $700,000 to visit Lincoln next week.

"It's been a steady rise from four to five to six to the $700,000 range,'' Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson said. "One of the issues a lot of us have in (the Big 12) conference is that we're all trying to play the same teams in September.'''
Coach Jesus

'Christ-like image of Coach Fulmer causing controversy on [the University of Tennesse Knoxville] campus

The people behind it say it was meant to show how seriously Knoxville takes UT football, and that it wasn't meant to offend.

But it did offend some.

The cover of the football preview section of UT's student newspaper, The Daily Beacon, shows Coach Philip Fulmer wearing a crown of thorns, and carrying a giant "T" that resembles a cross.
Scott Thurmon, editor in chief of The Daily Beacon, says "It was not our intent to offend anyone and when we conceived it, we never thought it would stir up such controversy."

Thurmon says the staff was behind schedule, and the cover was pushed through without him seeing it.

Thurmon says, "I believe the conception was to make a comment on the seriousness of which Knoxville takes football. When we saw it in the paper it looked a bit more heavy handed."

Thurmon says the image is by no means a statement about how they feel about Fulmer. He adds the cover was not a mistake, but in the end it has been a lesson in the power and permanence of the press.'

Friday, September 15, 2006

Andrew Sullivan on
Political Blogs

They should be seen as a mid-point between talk radio and the op-ed. They are also forging a new way of writing - open-ended, provisional, conversational, and subject to constant revision. In some ways, that's more honest than traditional media's insistence that it publishes "the truth." By deconstructing the process whereby people think and argue out loud, we can help educate and promote a more sophisticated level of debate than you find on, say, talk radio or cable news. That's my hope, at least.

'Wayne Flynt, a professor emeritus of history at Auburn University and widely recognized as the leading authority on Alabama history, has spoken in Huntsville many times over the years. But his talk Thursday night to a rapt audience in the auditorium of the Huntsville Library was a first.

Flynt has long been an outspoken critic of what he describes as widespread and systemic corruption in athletics, particularly in the football programs at both Auburn and Alabama. The best-selling author of 11 books on such issues as race, religion and politics focused solely on football in his latest visit. Those who showed up expecting verbal fireworks did not leave disappointed.

"If you do serious research about the football programs at Alabama and Auburn, you will not be nearly as infatuated as you once were,'' Flynt said. "And I say that with deep, deep regret.''

A season ticket holder at Auburn football games for 30 years and an avid basketball fan who regularly attends Auburn basketball games and the SEC tournament, Flynt holds degrees from Samford and Florida State. But "Auburn was always in my genes'' because his father and uncles were lifelong Auburn fans.

Family loyalties aside, Flynt is the forefront of those who maintain that athletics - particularly football - at the state's two major institutions has lost its way, and not just because of the various NCAA probations both schools have suffered through.

"You can love football and appreciate all its values, and I do,'' Flynt said. "But people (in Alabama) have simply got to decide. Are we going to do it right, or are we going to continue to try to win at all costs?''

Is there any wonder, he asked, that so many athletes find themselves in trouble? "What do we expect when these players have such a sense of entitlement?'' he said.

During questions and answers, Flynt touched on a variety of subjects ranging from Hoover High coach Rush Propst to controversial Auburn trustee Bobby Lowder to the recent New York Times story on directed studies in the Auburn sociology department.

Asked for his views on Propst, the hard-bitten prep coach whose team is ranked No. 1 nationally, Flynt said: "I'm glad he doesn't coach at Auburn. I'm embarrassed by that MTV series they've been showing on Hoover. I've visited at Hoover, and I can tell you a lot of the teachers at that school are embarrassed, too.

"What he does sends all the wrong messages. They may win national championships in football, but it's not worth the price.''

When someone in the audience asked how long Bobby Lowder would "control Auburn,'' Flynt replied: "Until he dies. Bobby Lowder has two goals in life - to run Auburn University and to run Colonial Bank. A lot of people have tried to get him off the board, but he is one tough hombre - and one rich hombre.''

And what should be made of The New York Times story, which caused such a furor a few weeks ago?

"What happened at Auburn is a terrible academic scandal,'' Flynt said. "But I do not think it's an athletic scandal.

"Faculty members can get caught up in that football culture just like anybody else. I do believe it diminished our reputation academically. My son in Seattle, who's an Auburn graduate, was very angry about it.''

Flynt added, however, that he believes Auburn's interim president, Ed Richardson, "handled the situation very well'' and took appropriate steps to rectify the problem.

"What's sad,'' Flynt said, "is that he had to handle such a situation in the first place.'''
An Update on
If You Want My Lectures
(scroll down for original post),
Courtesy of Oso Raro, from
The Chronicle of Higher Education

'A North Carolina State University professor who had been selling audio recordings of his lectures online was asked to stop on Wednesday after a university dean raised objections.

Since late August, Robert L. Schrag, a professor of communication, had been selling lectures from his classes to students and others through a Web site called Independent Music Online. The lectures, in MP3 format, sold for $2.50 each, with $1.00 going to Mr. Schrag and $1.50 going to the music Web site.

But Mr. Schrag said he had asked the operator of the site to take down his lectures after Toby L. Parcel, dean of the university's College of Humanities and Social Sciences, told him that the practice bothered her. Mr. Schrag said he agreed to halt the sales -- at least temporarily -- while Ms. Parcel investigated whether the university would allow professors to sell their lectures. Mr. Schrag said the head of the department of communication, Craig Allen Smith, had previously given him the go-ahead to market the recordings.

"I want the university to be clear where it is on this and address the issues," Mr. Schrag said on Thursday, adding that other professors at the university might also be interested in selling their course materials online. "I'm still recording. I'm still archiving, and I'm hoping we'll be able to go back up with it," he added.

Professors at North Carolina State University have sole ownership of materials that they produce in their classrooms, he said.

Still, his unusual endeavor started attracting controversy after the student newspaper, the Technician, ran an article about it on Wednesday, and also published an editorial criticizing the practice. The editorial said college students should be able to listen to recordings of professors' lectures free. The popular technology Web site Slashdot picked up the news article, and the university suddenly found itself at the center of a debate about what professors are entitled to do with their lecture material.

Mr. Shrag's lectures were delivered to his Communication and Technology class, which is a core course for communication majors. Before the music Web site took down his material, Mr. Schrag said he had five or six lectures for sale.

Patrick Hefner, the president of Independent Music Online, said three people had purchased 12 lectures by Mr. Schrag, generating $30 for the Web site. Mr. Schrag said he made $11 from the sales.

Mr. Schrag, who was honored with a teaching award in 1993, said he decided to charge for the lectures because recording them "takes effort and it's beyond what I ordinarily do." Engineering and science professors often receive compensation for the intellectual material they produce, Mr. Schrag said, so why shouldn't humanities and social sciences professors be paid as well?

"We're talking about the price of a draft beer," he said. "You go to a concert. Your tuition buys you access to the concert, it doesn't buy you the CD."

Mr. Schrag said he surveyed his students anonymously on Thursday -- about 150 in all -- about whether they thought he should offer his lectures for sale. Of the 119 students who responded, 99 said yes, 16 said they didn't care one way or the other, and four said the lectures should be free.

Mr. Schrag said his lectures are meant for three audiences: students who are motivated to do well in the course and want access to supplemental material, international students who may have difficulty understanding English, and students who would prefer to skip class.

"If a student doesn't want to be there, I don't want them there," Mr. Schrag said. "I want them to go away because they degrade the educational experience for the other students around them."

Ms. Parcel could not be reached for comment on Thursday. But a spokesman for the university, Keith Nichols, said it was "in everybody's best interest" for Mr. Schrag to stop selling his lectures while the university looked into the propriety of the practice.'

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Salt Lake Trib...

...on guns and Utah's universities.

...What has pushed the university to take this seemingly unreasonable stand [in attempting -- unsuccessfully -- to ban guns from campus] is the Legislature's romance with the dangerous idea that any citizen who doesn't have a criminal record should be able to get a permit to carry a loaded, concealed gun almost anywhere he or she wishes.

All that is necessary is a single gun-safety class, a background check and a nominal fee.

This runs afoul of a policy the U. has had for many years that students and staff could not bring guns to campus without special permission from the police chief. The Legislature has pressed the issue, passing a law in 2004 prohibiting state agencies or local governments from enacting rules that limit firearms possession on public or private property.

The U. has argued convincingly that its gun policy has worked well. It makes sense that if people are going to engage in uninhibited debates, as academic freedom demands, that the U. does not wish to open the door to intimidation or accidents by people carrying guns.

The U. must be subject to the Legislature and its laws. It is a pity, though, that in this case, the law is on the wrong side of public safety and common sense.
If You Want My Lectures
If You Really Do....

A North Carolina State University professor's idea to have students pay for lecture downloads has been put on hold while a new department dean reviews the concept.

Having a tough time waking up for class? Car problems? The dog needs to go to the vet?

N.C. State communications professor Dr. Robert Schrag understands.

"There are 160 students in the class, some of them are working, some of them are parents," Schrag said.

Schrag started recording his technology and communication class lectures and uploading them onto a Web site called Independent Music Online.

Students can dish out $2.50 for each lecture, $1.50 goes to the Web site, the other $1 goes to Schrag. He said he is not pocketing the money.

"I'm defraying the costs of the recording equipment that I've bought, I have to do some editing on the stuff before I set it up," Schrag said.

If you want my lecture
If you really do
Don't be afraid baby
Just pay me
You know I'm gonna sell it to you

Oh and I do declare
I want to see you with it
Stretch out your arms little boy,
You're gonna get it

Cause I love you
ain't no doubt about it
Baby I love you,
I love you, I love you
I love you, baby I love you

If you want to hear me
Go right ahead I don't mind
All you got to do is
Wave some cash and I'll come running
I ain't lying, I ain't lying

Baby I had to edit
Baby I had to defray
It's only two fifty
Hate to see you without it

I love you
Ain't no doubt about it
Baby I love you, I love you, I love you
I love you, baby I love you

Someday you might want an education
And leave me sittin' here cryin'
But if it's all the same to you baby
I'm gonna stop you payin' some other guy

Baby I love you
Baby I need ya
Said I want ya
Got to have you baby
Don't let anybody
Tell you I don't want you
Shiver Me Tribbles!
'...Because law reviews inevitably impose a lengthy gap between article acceptance and publication, they will become best suited to articles that are not time-sensitive. I don’t think ambitious law students will find any of this an appealing prospect for what being a law review editor entails. Some law reviews will respond by becoming more like blogs – witness the Yale Law Journal Pocket Part. Others, becoming less attractive to ambitious law students, will staff themselves with less ambitious law students, and the result may be a downward spiral in quality, importance, and attractiveness of the law reviews, both to authors and to editors.

At that point, perhaps only a few years down the road, the question whether hiring committees should count blogging as legal scholarship might transmute into the question
whether hiring committees should count law review articles as legal scholarship. If the best students and many scholars perceive the action shifting to cyberspace, law reviews will become less important repositories of at least one variety of scholarly ambition.'

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Also From the Land of the Comment Thread...

...there's this question, in response to another commenter writing that someone looked "stentorian."

Can you look stentorian or must you sound stentorian? Can we have a ruling UD?

Er, let's see. "Word of the Day" says this:

Adjective: Extremely loud.
Stentorian comes from Stentor, a Greek herald in the Trojan War. According to Homer's Iliad, his voice was as loud as that of fifty men combined.

They go on to give a bunch of examples, but UD'll give one of her own:

When, in singing Henry Purcell's "Music for A While," UD raised her stentorian voice at the piano, her dog immediately ran to the other end of the house.

I found one "looked stentorian" online, actually; from a piece by Tony Snow about a Bush/Gore debate:

It was as if coaches had instructed the men to look stentorian or presidential or some such thing, thus prompting them to strike poses that seemed faintly silly and wholly unnatural.

Based upon this admittedly singular -- though high-profile -- use (ain't he the President's press secretary?), UD hereby rules that the word is now in broad common use to mean pompous, stern, and old, and therefore you can look as well as sound "stentorian."
Charming Reminiscence...

...from one of UD's readers -- so charming, she's plucked it from comment thread obscurity and given it a post of its own.

I have only two quibbles with it.

I wouldn't have used so many quotation marks.

And... mathematics?

I played a year of small-college basketball as a 17 year-old freshman too many years ago to count. At 6-2 I played forward (!), and was the third "tallest" player and one of only two of us on the team who could dunk the ball. We were the only engineering school in the conference; we were also the only school in the conference that gave no athletic scholarships, though I do remember the satisfying steak dinners we players received (our only emolument) in the dorm on game day (mea culpa). Although we won only three or so games (of twenty) that year, when we won, we celebrated with edenic joy, though always soon after with an admixture of self-deprecating humor. Yet even when we lost, we did so with good-humor and even charitable solicitude, as when trailing by over thirty points in an away game, we stalled the last five minutes of the game so our opponents couldn't score a hundred points. We just didn't want to wake their fans.

Today, things are a bit different, even at many middling colleges, where the school's gladiators oiled for the arena provide the "guns" for the mostly middle-aged capos who "run" them. Athletic departments often hold their minions to an omerta that prevents abuses and even crimes from being whispered about outside the family. In the big schools the capos' yearly pelf far exceeds that of our nation's president. Yet the prodigal sums fronted on this campus entertainment industry could perhaps in turn be more lucratively reinvested (if college administrators fancy that such an industry is essential to "under-taking" the college's higher education mission) in other family-run enterprises, such as casinos and brothels.

But the great books schools are ever an inspiration to one who conned his fair Latin, small Greek, and extensive readings in western and world classics at university in his mid-twenties after doing a bit of soldiering during the Southeast Asian war. In my later career as a college professor I've not met but a very few vets among colleagues of comparable age. Perhaps they just weren't recruiting in their neighborhoods. Though I wish I'd started on the classics earlier, I'm delighted that there are schools and colleges like the great books schools that encourage (nay, require) them early. So Greek, Latin, mathematics . . . and croquet
--early. Indeed, my belief is that getting these venerable languages early realizes our human evolutionary destiny, for what's a backside for but(t) to facilitate the study of Greek and Latin?
A Shooting at Dawson College, Montreal

Twelve shot, six critically.

Thanks to Michael for alerting me.


The shooter: Another pissant nihilist with a premium arsenal.
Voted yesterday...

... and I'm now between classes, thinking hard about Players, an early Don DeLillo novel, in preparation for my class on his work. Posting will happen later this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stopped Reading After the First Sentence

"Sure, colitis is never fun, especially the extreme kind."
Feel My Mini H-Bombs

"[S]eems to be in his own world and might have a bit of a god complex," writes a perceptive student, on Rate My Professors, of John Belot, a tenured chemistry professor at the University of Nebraska.

More recently, a student who watched him bring out a paper bag full of bombs and distribute them to the class, told the press:

"Personally, the first day I met him the impression I got was, 'This guy is crazy,' [...] He's just a very high-strung guy . . . just all over the place."

[The student] said Belot kept getting off topic during his lecture on solutions and talked about some explosives that his student assistant made during the summer. The assistant obtained the necessary supplies using Belot's name, she said.

[The student] said Belot said that he had detonated one of the devices already, and that the explosive produced a small mushroom cloud, "like mini H-bombs."

Belot sent a student to his office to retrieve a paper bag that contained the explosives, she said.

When the student came back with the bag, [the student] noticed a corrosive liquid was leaking from one of the corners of the bag.

"I saw that, and I was like, '… are you serious?'" she said.

Belot dismissed class early, [the student] said, and she left too quickly to see if any students took the devices with them.

Indeed quite a few students took the explosives, but most have handed them over to the university.

[An official] said eight of the explosives have been recovered so far and are now in the possession of the Lincoln Fire Department.

[The official] wouldn't quantify how many of the devices could still be in the possession of students. But in an e-mail sent to students in Belot's class, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Juan Franco said he believed students took nine of the devices.

[An official] said the explosives are cylinders three to four inches long and one inch in diameter. Some of them are painted silver and red.

"The materials are volatile and dangerous, and they could cause severe bodily injury," [he] said. "And with any sort of homemade explosive like that, you just don't know when it might explode."

[Another official] said the explosives are powerful enough to destroy a hand or an arm.

And because they are homemade and were kept on campus... the devices were completely illegal.

...Anyone who has information about the missing devices should contact University Police at (402) 472-3555.

Although he is currently jailed for possession and classroom distribution of explosives, Belot's faculty webpage burns brightly. Here he is. Note that he's the second mad bomber professor UD's featured lately.
Old Pals Dessert

'I've contributed to The [Scooter] Libby Legal Defense Fund and have joined the fund's advisory committee, which is not large because in Washington old pals dessert when even their college roommate gets into trouble.'

New Republic
A Squire of Low Degree

I'm putting off voting at Garrett Park Elementary School (from which I graduated) because someone forgot to include a crucial piece of technology in the materials for the polling places in Maryland, and everything has to be delayed until later this afternoon. When there'll be a stampede....

So I'm sitting here wondering whether state and local elections are worth UD's effort this time around... To be sure, I have directly in front of me the list Mr. UD prepared of the people I'm to vote for... Mr. UD, unlike UD, has spent hours in earnest candidate study. He has considered each school board candidate's position on extended days and teacher salary, each county council hopeful's take on traffic and development...

Me, I've had other things to do. There's today's CEO-with-no-degree story, for instance.

Like Richard Grasso, a majorly self-made man who claimed to have graduated from college when he hadn't, David C. Swanson, head of R.H. Donnelley, has for decades been describing himself as a college graduate when he isn't. "[A] Donnelley spokesman acknowledged that Swanson did not have the claimed bachelor of science degree from Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University."

Sure, he shouldn't have lied... Yet in each such case, UD feels strong sympathy for the liar. So he didn't go to, or didn't graduate from, college ...If anything, this makes his subsequent success that much more impressive. And it reminds us, in this must-have-a-college-degree job environment, that there are plenty of people who are smart, energetic, competitive, and eager to go to work, without wasting time and money on a degree they don't need.
Harvard Drops 'Early Admissions'

The early admissions option favors the wealthy by allowing applicants who don't need to worry about financial aid packages to lock in to a school. Most universities continue to offer early admissions, though people are speculating that with Harvard leading the way they might stop.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I've been at...

...this month's meeting of the Garrett Park town council for the last few hours (I cover the event for the Garrett Park Bugle, circulation a good deal less than that of University Diaries), and while I was gone a number of fascinating remarks, reminiscences, and questions appeared on UD's comment thread, many of which she will respond to tomorrow morning, when she's less punchy.

Can't resist one little Snapshot From Home, though: One of the larger issues at tonight's meeting was how the town's going to spend its hundreds of thousands of surplus dollars. A 'thesdan conundrum!
Pow'rpoint, thou shalt die.

As we recall the first expression of resistance, scripted long ago by John Donne, we remind ourselves that though the battle is far from over, we will win.

Pow'rpoint be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou doth overthrow
Die not, poor Pow'rpoint, nor yet canst thou kill me...

Professor Clifford Irwin in today's Globe and Mail on not using Powerpoint:

Naked came I into the world, and naked will you find me at the lectern, except for a nice suit, my lecture notes, and (on my good days) Plato or Machiavelli whispering helpfully over my shoulder. As that famous guy said at the Diet of Worms where the hall wasn't even wired yet, here I stand, I can do no other.

Via Crooked Timber , thoughts about law blogging from Jack Balkin:

Law professors now agonize over whether blogging constitutes legal scholarship and what this will do to the legal academy. They needn’t bother. The real threat to quality comes not from the medium of blogging itself but from using citation counts, links, page views, and downloads as measures of merit. People won’t just apply these criteria to judge blogs. They will also apply them to standard-form legal scholarship online. Blogging, in fact, is sui generis. It blurs the traditional boundaries between scholarship, teaching, and service because it transcends the normal audiences and expectations of legal scholarship. Over the years, legal scholarship has become an increasingly self-contained community where scholars write only for each other. Bloggers have burst out of that model: they talk to many different audiences, they teach the world about law, and they perform a public service by drawing attention to the legal and policy issues of the day. Blogging may give scholars publicity that gets their work a look. But it will not by itself generate a scholarly reputation or make a scholarly career—at least, that is, until social and technological change thoroughly reconstitute our standards of merit. … The wrong question to focus on is whether hiring committees should count blogging as legal scholarship. The right question is how we should re-imagine our vocation as professors of law in light of new online media. Should we continue to speak mostly to ourselves and our students, or should we spend more time trying to teach and influence the outside world?
Slight JuCo Bent

Yeah, so I'm sliding around site to site this morning, doing my usual thing, looking for stupid and embarrassing stories about universities -- stuff that isn't from Godzillatron U., though, which narrows things considerably... and I slip onto this little essay that could've been written by UD if she weren't quite so good a writer.

I mean, it's got a lot of her coordinates -- Division I sports universities boo; St. John's College yay... It's even written by someone who grew up a few miles away from UD... who attended high school in Silver Spring ('thesda's slightly less successful sister city) and graduated from the University of Maryland, where -- who knows? -- he could've learned all he knows about Law And Society from Mr. UD...

And it's not badly written... it's certainly written well enough for the lighthearted is-he-joshing sports columnist thing the guy does... I just wasn't sure it was good enough to be swept off its feet and pasted into University Diaries and all. But I note, as the day wears on, that the piece has been picked up by a number of papers, so maybe I'm being too fussy. Here it is.

In the vast wasteland of Sports Nation, Couch Slouch has been looking for a signpost of sanity. I no longer can root for the teams of my youth. My father went to UCLA, but that's just a football-and-basketball factory with a parking problem; I went to the University of Maryland, but that's just a football-and-basketball factory with a parking and drinking problem.

Both schools, like dozens of others that worship at the temple of Division I dollars, profess to higher learning and the integrity of their "student-athletes," but I wasn't born yesterday on a turnip truck, so whatever academic bunk they're selling, I ain't buying.

Well, thankfully I have found my salvation.

St. John's College in Annapolis has no intercollegiate athletics.

I don't know what the school's nickname is, but the check is in the mail!

Anyway, I'll get back to St. John's in a moment -- heck, I'd enroll there tomorrow, but my SAT scores have a JuCo bent to them -- first, let me get back to the big boys.

College football and college basketball have absolutely nothing to do with college. The "student-athletes" are simply cheap labor for multimillion dollar companies. And with that much at stake, a win-at-all-costs mentality is the rule rather than the exception.

I mean, if Larry Coker -- 54-10 in his time at Miami with a national title -- has one more 9-3 season, he'll be on a raft floating toward Cuba by New Year's Eve.

Sports radio, reflecting our sinking culture, spends entire days advising managers and coaches, berating managers and coaches, firing managers and coaches and searching the countryside for better middle relievers. If they just redirected their energy toward, say, crosswalk-signal maintenance, America would be 2 percent more livable.

(Can you imagine if sports radio debated Ohio State's physics department vs. Michigan's physics department the way it debates Ohio State-Michigan football? "I'm telling you, nobody does quantum theory like Prof. Gilroy in Ann Arbor. And, man, they have a lecturer there, Stewart Stenstrom -- this guy isn't even TENURED -- who brings it high and hard on optical spectroscopy like nobody's business, dude." )

For parts of two centuries now, Couch Slouch has argued that big-time intercollegiate athletics should be dismantled. Nobody's listening.

After I graduated from Maryland in 1981, I annually would receive a fund-raising letter. Each time I wrote back: I will not give you a penny until you eliminate intercollegiate athletics. Alas, I stopped receiving missives seeking money and, eventually, my name was removed from consideration for the school's "Distinguished Alumni" list and I was discreetly asked to make good on all my outstanding parking tickets from my undergraduate years there.

Meanwhile, St. John's operates the Great Books program -- a.k.a. "Paris Hilton Never Slept Here" -- in which students read great contributions to Western civilization: Aristotle, Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Moliere, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, W.E.B. DuBois, Joseph Conrad et al, plus the Bible and the Constitution.

(Note I: In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that, sadly, the most recent book I've read is "Harrington on Hold'em, Volume III.")

(Note II: If you take the St. John's curriculum and combine it with a really, really good premium-cable package, I think we're talking Utopia here.)

No lectures, no exams, no homecoming rallies. They read a lot, then they discuss a lot.

But it's not all words and no play; the university keeps mind and body active through the retro-radical notion of intramural sports . You remember intramurals -- you play to win, but you have fun. Intramural sports is an extracurricular activity that doesn't trample all over a school's original purpose and standards.

Thank you, St. John's.

The school does dally in an occasional athletic meeting with another institution. Every year since 1983, my Johnnies play the neighboring U.S. Naval Academy in croquet. St. John's has dominated the series, but the Mids have won four of the last six meetings. And, frankly, if St. John's can't beat Navy next spring, I think a coaching change might be in order.
The Writer Wants to Understand

'When we say a thing is unreal, we mean it is too real, a phenomenon so unaccountable and yet so bound to the power of objective fact that we can't tilt it to the slant of our perceptions. First the planes struck the towers. After a time it became possible for us to absorb this, barely. But when the towers fell. When the rolling smoke began moving downward, floor to floor. This was so vast and terrible that it was outside imagining even as it happened. We could not catch up with it. But it was real, punishingly so, an expression of the physics of structural limits and a void in one's soul, and there was the huge antenna falling out of the sky, straight down, blunt end first, like an arrow moving backwards in time.

The event itself has no purchase on the mercies of analogy or simile. We have to take the shock and horror as it is. But living language is not diminished. The writer wants to understand what this day has done to us. Is it too soon? We seem pressed for time, all of us. Time is scarcer now. There is a sense of compression, plans made hurriedly, time forced and distorted. But language is inseparable from the world that provokes it. The writer begins in the towers, trying to imagine the moment, desperately. Before politics, before history and religion, there is the primal terror. People falling from the towers hand in hand. This is part of the counternarrative, hands and spirits joining, human beauty in the crush of meshed steel.'

Don DeLillo
The Guardian
December 2001
Nothing to See Here!

'Couches and mattresses were set on fire outside houses in Ohio State student neighborhoods and three people were struck by a car after the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes’ 24-7 victory over No. 2 Texas.

There were 35 to 40 fires set in student neighborhoods Saturday night, said Columbus police Sgt. David Howson, whose department arrested about 17 people, 5 of them on arson charges. A trash bin was also set ablaze, burning two nearby cars, he said.

Battalion Fire Chief Kevin O’Connor said he was treated for bumps and bruises after he and two others were struck by a car that came through a temporary command post in the driveway of a student union building.

Barbara Rich, Ohio State’s assistant vice president for student affairs, and her husband were treated early Sunday at Ohio State University Medical Center for minor injuries.

The driver of the car, George Karadimas, has been charged with vehicular assault. He was being held in a Franklin County jail and was scheduled to appear in court Monday morning for an arraignment.

Most students have not returned to campus because fall classes do not start until Sept. 20, Howson said. Still, police concentrated their patrols on the campus area last night.

“This happens on big games, so we were prepared for it,” Howson said.'

A senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) engaged in "serious misconduct" by entering into dozens of unauthorized private arrangements with drug companies and failing to report annually the outside income, totaling more than $100,000, an internal review has found.

NIH officials concluded late last year that the actions of Dr. Thomas Walsh, who has helped lead major clinical trials involving cancer patients, might result in dismissal from federal government service. No disciplinary action has been taken.

The internal review, conducted by lawyers and other ethics specialists within the office of the NIH director, found that from 1999 to 2004, Walsh received fees totaling $100,970 from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. He accepted fees from 25 companies and has led government-sponsored research involving some of those companies' drugs.

"Dr. Walsh has engaged in serious misconduct, in violation of the Department's Standards of Conduct Regulations ... and federal law and regulation," the review concluded.

The previously unreported findings shed light on the depth of conflict-of-interest problems that have persisted at the NIH, the government's pre-eminent agency for medical research on humans.

The agency's handling of disciplinary decisions related to Walsh and other senior scientists is expected to be a focus of a congressional hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

In written comments to NIH ethics officials, private attorneys for Walsh said the agency's rules were complicated and his motives were beyond reproach. NIH officials said the rules were well known and should have been followed.

"Dr. Walsh fails to acknowledge that the reason for the 'complex set of rules' governing NIH staff in regards to real or potential conflicts of interest is to prevent the integrity of the agency and its science from being called into question," the summary read.

"His assertions that his reputation is sufficient to dismiss any questions about his impartiality cannot be the standard that he or the agency use in deciding to adhere to well-publicized rules."

The summary, dated in December, also said Walsh's "conduct continued over time and involved at least 38 separate instances where he chose not to follow agency procedures."

The Los Angeles Times obtained copies of the findings and conclusions last week.

Walsh, 54, a medical graduate of Johns Hopkins University, arrived at the National Cancer Institute in 1986 and now heads a pediatric research and treatment unit. He is recognized in his field and has won government honors. Along the way, he collaborated with drug companies in his official role and, privately, as a paid adviser or speaker.

Based on interviews and documents gathered earlier, the newspaper reported in July that Walsh had appeared alongside company representatives at public and private meetings held by the Food and Drug Administration and that he received fees from Merck and Pfizer, with whom he has collaborated in his government work. Clinical trials he helped lead influenced FDA approvals of four anti-fungal drugs.

Walsh's appearances at the FDA are the subject of a newly opened inquiry by the NIH director's Office of Management Assessment, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.S. conflict-of-interest law generally bans a federal employee from representing an outside party before a government agency, regardless of whether the employee accepts payment for the appearance.

Another NIH review, which ended three months ago, "did not identify issues of concern with the design or methodology" used in two clinical trials overseen by Walsh. When results of those trials were published, in 1999 and 2004, other research physicians had questioned in letters to The New England Journal of Medicine whether cancer patients with suspected fungal infections were given "control" drugs at dosages that were strong enough to be effective.

Reached by phone, Walsh referred questions to NIH aides.

At Tuesday's hearing, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigative subcommittee are expected to question officials about their handling of ethics matters, including the cases of Walsh and another senior NIH researcher, Dr. P. Trey Sunderland.

Sunderland, who has specialized in researching Alzheimer's disease, accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug-company fees — including about $612,000 from Pfizer — without required advance approval. In June, Sunderland asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination while declining to answer questions before the congressional subcommittee.

Neither Sunderland nor Walsh has been disciplined publicly, and each maintains his senior government position.

Directly or through their lawyers, Sunderland and Walsh have said they aimed to advance research that benefits patients. Both have worked for more than 20 years at the NIH as members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a uniformed branch of the service that is led by the surgeon general.

This is from the Seattle Times, but it's being covered everywhere. The behavior, as UD has said more than once here, is endemic in academia and in research institutes (Walsh, like a lot of NIH scientists, is also an academic).

Longtime readers know that UD's father was, thirty years ago, almost a carbon copy of this guy -- Johns Hopkins; senior researcher in immunology at NIH. He didn't engage in conflict of interest.

But 'thesdanian pressures being what they are these days... I mean the problem with doctors and scientists taking jobs at NIH is that NIH is still the government... with all its prestige and funding, NIH remains government work, and you're never going to make private sector money there.

Yet all around you in 'thesda are richer private sector people. It's got to rankle that you'll never be able to keep up with them if you're only cobbling together a few hundred thousand a year via research, a little patient care, a little university teaching... What's a bit of data fudging when the drug companies drop by?

Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner.
Andrei Shleifer:
Harvard's Ambassador
to Russia

'Putin swiftly changed the subject. "There is a criminal case currently under way in the United States involving those who had been involved with privatizations in our country. It turned out that, one, they were CIA agents and, two, they lined their pockets at our expense."

Putin did not identify the purported agents, but he appeared to be referring to former Harvard professor Andrei Shleifer and his associate Jonathan Hay, who U.S. prosecutors say improperly invested in companies that they were helping the Russian government regulate in the 1990s.'

I'm pretty sure the case against Shleifer is over -- he had to pay out a few million of his ill-gotten gains to get past it -- and I'd be really surprised if a man interested exclusively in self-enrichment works for the CIA. More likely Putin's noting the criminality of Harvard keeping him on its faculty, as in "It's a crime that..."

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Terry Teachout:

[M]ost [institutional blogs]... are mediocre. ... That’s predictable, since the very idea of an institutional blog is a contradiction in terms. The best blogs are idiosyncratic, unmediated expressions of an individual sensibility, a notion which tends to make old-media executives squirm...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

R&R After First Week of Class

I'm back at Rehoboth Beach, with my sister, staying at a friend's house. It's hot and sunny! Slightly lighter posting than usual...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ravenhurst, Hail to Thee

New hire's degree from diploma mill
Court official says origin of master's is a 'nonissue'

The man selected to run Marion County's troubled Juvenile Detention Center has a master's degree from a "diploma mill" shut down by the Federal Trade Commission.

Troy Hoppes, 36, claims he did course work over the Internet to earn the degree from the University of Ravenhurst in New York.

But New York and national education officials say Ravenhurst was an online university that had no campus and did not require academic work -- instead selling degrees through call centers in Israel and Romania.

Marion Superior Court officials who hired Hoppes last week touted the degree as one of the attributes that made him stand out among about 30 candidates, even though it wasn't required for the job.

Officials said Thursday that they are standing behind Hoppes, who is scheduled to begin the $80,000-a-year job Oct. 9.

Contacted at his home in Florida, Hoppes said he was not aware of questions about his degree or Ravenhurst until court officials brought it to his attention Thursday after questions about his degree were raised by The Indianapolis Star.

Officials have turned to Hoppes to restore order to the center, which has been rocked by scandal over the past six months.

"Troy was not hired on the basis of his master's degree. He was hired because he has a proven track record and experience with juveniles," said Court Administrator Ron Miller. "We don't believe it's a character issue, a moral issue or anything else. I
think this is really a nonissue."

Miller said Hoppes "is the person to help us pull this facility up to world-class standards."

Hoppes was named to succeed former Superintendent Damon Ellison, who has been charged with concealing evidence of abuse and failing to report an allegation to authorities. Nine former staff members face charges of abusing female detainees.

In June, it was revealed that more than one-fourth of the staff members who supervised residents had criminal records, which were not checked before they were hired.

And, in July, the U.S. Department of Justice notified local officials it would investigate the facility.

Miller said Hoppes was upfront about the degree during the interview process, telling officials the online program "was not the most rigorous academic environment." He said court officials did not look into the school any further.

His side of the story

Hoppes defended his degree.

"I'm telling you," he said, "I completed the courses required by the university to receive my degree legitimately."

Hoppes said he did research-based assignments, participated in virtual classroom sessions and received credit for professional and life experiences over an approximately one-year period before receiving a degree in 2002.

But a retired FBI agent who has tracked degree mills for the past decade said that's contrary to everything he knows about Ravenhurst, which also sold transcripts and letters of recommendation.

"Ain't no way," said Allen Ezell, co-author of the book "Degree Mills: The Billion Dollar Industry That Has Sold More Than One Million Fake Degrees."

"They aren't set up for that. There was no faculty. They were all salesmen."

During the same time Hoppes claims he was working toward the degree, Ezell said, he had an informant in the Bucharest call center that sold Ravenhurst diplomas along with degrees from about a dozen other fake universities. Ravenhurst's Web site was shut down in 2003.

Tom Dunn, spokesman for the New York State Education Department, called Ravenhurst a diploma mill that was not certified by any reputable accreditation group. "We do not see them as a legitimate degree-granting institution."

The use of degrees from diploma mills is "fraud, and it undermines the integrity of real credentials, " said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

About 10 states have passed laws making it illegal to use bogus degrees, but Indiana does not have such a law, he said.

Even if using a questionable degree is not against the law, Marianna Jennings, a professor of legal and ethics studies at Arizona State University, said it should raise red flags.

"It's a pretty serious thing -- you don't even have to look at the ethics part of it," she said. "If you look at it just fundamentally, you are hiring a fairly insecure person to take over in a critical public policy area. I'd be worried."

The situation also raises questions about trust and the ability to manage a staff, she added.

"If you are going to tout the rules, it's kind of nice if you at least make an attempt to use them," she said.

"Coming in, if they have misrepresented something that is so critical . . . and so easily discoverable, what's the likelihood that you are going to be able to trust them for things that are not as discoverable?"

--indianapolis star--
University of Utah: Pistol-Whipped

OK to pack heat at U., says Utah's high court

The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that the University of Utah has no right to ban guns on campus, rejecting the argument that prohibiting firearms is part of the school's power to control academic affairs.
Writing for the 4-1 majority, Justice Jill Parrish said case law "is incompatible with the University's position." "We simply cannot agree with the proposition that the Utah Constitution restricts the legislature's ability to enact firearms laws pertaining to the University," Parrish wrote.
The issue of whether the state constitution allows schools to set their own firearm policies heated up in 2002 when the U. filed a lawsuit seeking to uphold its longtime policy of banning guns on campus. Based on state law at the time, 3rd District Judge Robert Hilder ruled in 2003 that the gun ban was legal. The state then appealed to the Supreme Court.
Soon after that, state lawmakers passed a bill in 2004 to overturn Hilder's decision that said only the Legislature can set gun policy. U. trustees voted unanimously soon after to maintain its policy prohibiting students, faculty and staff from bringing guns onto campus.
The Attorney General's Office argued that the university has no power or autonomy under the Utah Constitution to ignore state law.
The U., while acknowledging that the Legislature has general control and budgetary supervision over the school, insisted that it is an autonomous entity that can disregard a law that inteferes with internal academic affairs.
The state Supreme Court majority disagreed.
"Indeed, the University's claim is unsupported by the text of our state's constitution, its historical context, or the prior decisions of this court," the ruling says.
In a dissent, Chief Justice Christine Durham said the framers of the Utah Constitution "intended to secure the University's 'protection and defense' by perpetuating its autonomous control over internal academic affairs." She also wrote, "Applying, as they do, only to University employees and students, and only while these individuals are on the University campus, these policies merely reflect the University's judgment on an issue that is within the scope of its academic expertise - namely, the appropriate means by which to maintain an educational environment in its classrooms and on its campus." U. officials planned a press conference this afternoon to discuss the court ruling.
Rhinestone Cowboys

Moribund sprezzatura Lee Siegel and New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier reflect, in very similar language, on the spill they just took:

“It never occurred to me” that it was wrong, the 48-year-old Mr. Siegel said of his frame of mind at the time. “This is really cowboy territory, with very few boundaries. I think now that it was wrong. I assumed an alias, I guess, because I didn’t want to stoop to their level, not realizing that I was stooping to their level.”

...“The larger problem, of course, is that we planted our flag over a piece of the Wild West known as the blogosphere. This left us divided against ourselves,” Mr. Wieseltier said...

Quite manly, this idea of the blogosphere as a big ol' shootout type thing ... But note the event that sent Siegel over the edge:

...Just prior, in early August, Mr. Siegel’s wife had given birth to their first child; by this point, the baby was colicky and Mr. Siegel was operating, he said, on three hours of sleep a night. Finally, after a few more days of online back and forth, he obviously couldn’t take it any more, and “sprezzatura” came raging forth...

And what came raging forth from Siegel's wife? Did she assume the name "chiaroscuro" and attack Instapundit?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Adlerian Victory

'The dean of the Boston University College of Communication has agreed to resign his post even though a committee investigating whether he embellished on his resume found that he had done nothing wrong, officials said Wednesday.

The University sent "confidential" letters to communications faculty saying that John J. Schulz would step down as dean on Oct. 15 but remain a member of the school's faculty, said university spokesman Stephen Burgay.

Schulz declined to discuss his resignation in detail. "It was my own decision," he said. "There was no pressure."

The accuracy of Schulz's resume was questioned by Renata Adler, a professor in BU's journalism program, in e-mails she sent to him and other faculty members. Schulz came under fire when the Globe reported in May on the controversy swirling through the College of Communication.

Among the concerns was a claim on his resume that he was one of only two of 19 Oxford doctoral student to win approval of their dissertation in social studies in 1981. In fact, some 30 students in social studies received doctorates that year. Schulz said he should have specified international relations and that 19 was a typo.'

---boston globe---

Background here, in which UD is proved to have been very wrong.
Dnkn Do + Bobo = No Go

Above is the actual Harvard Business School equation, formulated years ago in one of their famous case studies.

It predicts that a Dunkin' Donuts shop in a Bourgeois Bohemian [see David Brooks] neighborhood will fail.

Yet today's Washington Post reports:

The brash expansion [into UD's 'thesdan and Foggy Bottom stomping -- brewing -- grounds] by the average joe Dunkin' Donuts, which has 4,400 stores compared with 8,600 for the more upscale Starbucks, has been the talk of the coffee and franchising worlds in recent months. The discussion has been helped in part by the company's carefully orchestrated media and advertising blitz, and also by the question that now seems to be on the tip of coffee drinkers' tongues everywhere: How much more do we need?

"People have been predicting that we'd hit a saturation point two years out for as long as a decade," said Bill Hulkower, a food analyst for Mintel International Group, a Chicago market research firm. "At some point, you can't have a coffee shop for every man, woman and child."

But with Dunkin' Donuts going nose-to-nose with Starbucks, it could come close. "This is gonna sound sort of loose, but we want to be where there are people," said Patrick George, the company's regional vice president for Washington and Baltimore.

As it stands now, there is about one coffee or doughnut shop for every 10,000 people in the United States, according to Mintel. And that's not counting fast-food chains and gas stations, which are upgrading their coffee offerings, or companies such as Coca-Cola, which is now infusing a new cola with coffee.

In New England, where Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Donuts is strongest, there is one Dunkin' Donuts for every 5,000 to 6,000 people. But in the D.C. area, as in many other major metropolitan regions, it is much more sparse. [One Dunkin' Donuts stands, mute sentinel, in a strip mall near UD's house.] Dunkin' Donuts has just 200 stores around here, 89 of them in the District. There are 382 Starbucks locations in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Dunkin' Donuts executives said the new strategy was well under way before three private equity firms -- including the District's Carlyle Group -- bought the company last year for $2.43 billion. "It was certainly the company's idea, but we fully endorsed the growth strategy and it was absolutely one of the reasons we pursued the company," said Sandra J. Horbach, a managing director for Carlyle.

Dunkin' Donuts reported revenue of $3.8 billion for 2005.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said the company doesn't comment on its competition. It released a statement that said in part: "Starbucks is proud to be credited with creating the specialty coffee industry in which a variety of coffeehouses thrive today. As Starbucks continues to generate awareness for specialty coffee around the world, the category grows and others may wish to enter the market."

Michael Coles, chief executive of Caribou Coffee, a national coffee chain based in Minneapolis, said, "I just don't think Dunkin' Donuts compares to what we offer. It's a good entry point for gourmet coffee, but people don't wind up landing there. Once they are introduced to gourmet coffee, they are going to look to other places to expand their horizons. I think Dunkin' Donuts makes the market that much bigger."

He added, "It's a big country."

Martin Mayorga, founder of a small Rockville coffee chain, said Washington is still comparatively "virgin territory" for the major chains. [First recorded use of "virgin" to describe DC metropolitan area.] "The big guys are making their push before small independents pick up the areas they have overlooked," he said.

The recent housing expansion in and around the District, where young, sophisticated, well-paid people are now living, has changed the area's reputation as just a place to do business and conduct the affairs of government. "You see the development in Adams Morgan and Silver Spring," Mayorga said. "You see more community development, meaning more neighborhood-type anchor locations."

One such area is Eastern Market, where the debate was joined yesterday.

"For them to compete against Starbucks would be ridiculous in my mind," Dennis Washington, 29, said as he walked out of the Starbucks at Eighth and D streets SE. "Dunkin' Donuts -- that's part of the name. I wouldn't advertise that as the main thing you're trying to sell."

Ali Fishlinger, a sophomore at George Washington University, stood up for Dunkin' Donuts. "For the people who don't get all the crazy, jazzy drinks, it's better coffee," Fishlinger said, just leaving the store near campus.

Chris Wood, 40, sipped a Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee as she pushed her baby stroller toward Pennsylvania Avenue. "In a very busy location like this, I think they both can make it," she said.

Wood and her husband, who live just a few blocks away on Capitol Hill, have been waiting for this moment for the three years they've been in Washington. Both native New Yorkers and Dunkin' Donuts loyalists, they appreciate the lighter roast and flavor of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Before the Eastern Market store opened, Wood drove to Virginia every month to pick up a few pounds of the Dunkin' Donuts roast.

As part of the expansion, Dunkin' Donuts is modernizing its stores and increasing its food offerings, with more choices for afternoon eating. The one in Eastern Market is typical of the new approach: an urban, loft-style interior with exposed pipes and ventilation ducts. [Major Bobo push here.] The second story, enclosed by glass all around, offers a panorama of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Starbucks across the street. There's a red-yellow-and-orange color scheme that looks more inviting than the typical cramped, streetside Dunkin' Donuts stores. Coffee is more prominently displayed than the doughnuts and bagels, with a case full of coffee mugs and pounds of Dunkin' Decaf and Cinnamon & Spice roast greeting customers before they make it to the register.

"This is the new image," said manager Farzad Mogharabi, 61, who mentioned that they hope to attract business crowds and students with a wireless network. "It's about becoming a very beautiful, comfortable, inviting environment."

On the other side of the world, where GWU students sometimes go for their Junior Year Abroad, the situation is far different:


The campus newspaper reports:

Bill Malone, co-owner Café Diem [Is this a pun on carpe diem, or is the other co-owner Vietnamese?] in downtown Ames, said that if the university supplies competition, he'd prefer it was from a locally owned coffee shop such as Java Joes or Grounds for Celebration.

"They are Iowa companies, Iowa culture," he said. "For them to reach and grab something from Seattle and plop it right down in the middle, to me they are missing an opportunity to enhance the college experience."

Other coffee shop owners said they aren't worried about Starbucks on campus.

Stan Rivera, manager of Santa Fe Coffee, across the street from the ISU campus, said his family-owned shop can provide an ambience that big chains cannot.

Starbucks negotiators could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

UD's First Day, Fall Semester... in progress. She's happy to be back. One class down, one to go. Once she's home, she'll do a little blogging.

Whatever she writes, she will try to avoid using the suffix -zillatron.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Laudable Candor

William M. Chace, who's been president of two universities, gives the address to new students that he would give if he were free to be honest. The name of his imaginary campus is Laudable College.

Laudable could be cheaper, but you wouldn’t like it. You and your parents have made it clear that you want the best. That means more spacious and comfortable student residences (“dormitories,” we used to call them), gyms with professional exercise equipment, better food of all kinds, more counselors to attend to your growing emotional needs, more high-tech classrooms and campuses that are spectacularly handsome.

Our competitors provide such things, so we do too. We compete for everything: faculty, students, research dollars and prestige. The more you want us to give to you, the more we will be asking you to give to us. We aim to please, and that will cost you. It’s been a long time since scholarship and teaching were carried on in monastic surroundings.

Laudable’s surroundings, by the way, will remind you of where you came from. That’s because your financial circumstances are pretty much the same as those of your classmates. More expensive schools have students from wealthier parents; less expensive schools draw students from families with fewer financial resources. More than half of the freshmen at selective colleges, public and private, come from the highest-earning quarter of households. Tell me the ZIP code and I’ll tell you what kind of college a high-school graduate most likely attends.

After paying (and receiving) all this money, please finish up and get out. Colleges like Laudable are escalators; even if you stand still, they will move you upward toward greater economic opportunity. Once you leave us, you’ll have a better chance for a good job and a way to pay off your debt and to give us more money when we call on you as alumni.

So don’t flunk out; you’ve got too much invested in us, and we have too much invested in you.

As for the way Laudable spends its money, I can assure you that your professors aren’t overpaid. But I am. I take home more money at Laudable than anyone else (save some of the clinical physicians over at our hospital and several coaches). My pay is about five times greater than an average faculty member’s. That’s because I’m thought of as the chief executive of the university and chief executives get paid a lot in America.

But I know I’m not really a chief executive because I don’t hold that kind of executive power. The professors here are Laudable’s most important asset, and they, not I, are the ones who run the show (just ask Larry Summers). Laudable could save some money by paying me less.
This Just In.


---dallas morning news---

Texas cornerback Tarell Brown was arrested on misdemeanor drug and weapon charges early Monday, leaving his status in question for the No. 3 Longhorns' game with top-ranked Ohio State.

Brown, a senior starter, was arrested with Tyrell Gatewood, a backup junior linebacker and special teams player, and former Texas linebacker Aaron Harris.

Brown was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon, a loaded 9 mm handgun, and possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. Gatewood and Harris were charged with the same drug misdemeanor.

---seattle post-intelligencer---
Developmental Ed

Today's Inside Higher Ed reviews a new book -- The Price of Admission -- which provides details on the trend toward developmental admits (admission of the very rich with neither alumni connections nor impressive credentials) at American universities. For instance:

A chapter about Duke University ... says that a few years back the institution spread the word among private high schools that it wanted “development admits,” those whose families had the potential to become big donors, and that strong academic credentials weren’t a requirement.

...“When people have talked about preferences that aren’t based on merit, you have this lineup where the colleges and liberal groups are defending affirmative action and conservatives are attacking it and they are overlooking the elephant in the room,” [the author] said. “Both sides have a vested interest in overlooking preferences for the wealthy,” he said, because colleges “need the money” they get from favoring the wealthy and conservatives “want their kids to get in.”

Feeling the pinch of its thirty billion dollar endowment, Harvard makes a special point of the practice:

Golden also writes about a Harvard group called the Committee on University Resources, which is generally restricted to those who have given the university at least $1 million, and with many members who have given much more. Of the 340 committee members who have children who are college age or are past college age, 336 children are enrolled or studied at Harvard — even though the university admits fewer than 1 in 10 candidates and has typically turned away students with top academic records.

Monday, September 04, 2006



... OK, raise your hand if you can relate.

Seriously, this is not the kind of news the Longhorns needed the week of the Ohio State game. As usual, the clear thinkers at Burnt Orange Nation are on top of things and have the right approach. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Mack Brown and DeLoss Dodds need to at least address the fact that -- convicted or not -- a disturbing number of Longhorns players have been implicated in marijuana-related incidents.

Is there a marijuana problem within the program?

Go back to Ricky Williams, of course. He's a longtime admitted user ... he says for medicinal purposes. Yeah, right.

But then there was Cedric Benson arrested for possession of marijuana, although the charges were dropped for lack of sufficient evidence. What happened to the evidence, I have no idea.

Others arrested in recent months in connection to marijuana-related incidents: Running back Selvin Young, DB Edorian McCullough, linebacker Aaron Harris, the former player who also was arrested with Tarell Brown on Monday, and defensive lineman Larry Dibbles. That foursome was stopped after failing to signal while exiting an interstate. Marijuana was found. The case was dropped because failing to signal off an interstate no longer is illegal in Texas, rendering the evidence inadmissable. A friend of one of the Longhorns later said the pot was his.

Then earlier this year Ramonce Taylor was dismissed from the team after being charged with possession of four pounds of marijuana. Four pounds? Wow.

Now, this.

This latest marijuana-related news is the last thing the Longhorns needed. It will be interesting to see how Brown handles Tarell Brown's availability for Saturday's huge game against Ohio State. Really, he SHOULD NOT PLAY.

There are a lot of great kids from great families in the UT program, I know a lot of them. I've seen several players grow up in the Houston area and know they're great kids. Freshman defensive back Robert Joseph has been like part of the family for me, as he played for my summer basketball team and spent a lot of nights at our house making us laugh and showing tremendous character.

For the sake of those kids, their parents and the program's reputation, Dodds and Mack Brown need to approach this trend head-on.

The first task is fixing anything wrong within the program. Next, it wouldn't be a bad idea for UT football's most visible cause to become an anti-drug campaign ...'

---houston chronicle---
That's What Deborah Frisch Said

In a statement by e-mail, Mr. Siegel said, “I’m sorry about my prank, which was certainly not designed to harm a magazine that has been my happy intellectual home for many years.”

---new york times---
One of UD's Most Memorable Outings...

...was snorkeling with stingrays at Cayman Islands' Stingray City. It didn't occur to her for a moment that it might be dangerous.

And it wasn't. An article about Steve Irwin's death mentions the Caymans:

...The rays in Australia and particularly in the north are not like those on the Cayman Islands, which are very quiet and allow people to ride on their backs...
Boys, boys.

First there was Lee "Sprezzatura" Siegel, about whom everyone's still talking. (Christopher Hitchens has gone to town on him.) And now Bevis "The Butthead" Hillier, the British writer who loves poet John Betjeman not wisely but too well, has admitted concocting the "A.N. Wilson is a shit" hoax in order to strike back against Wilson, a rival Betjeman biographer.

There is a pathos to this intense paper aggression. One wishes both men had taken up healthful outdoor exercise.
A La Recherche du Temps Diamandopoulos

Today's New York Times takes us back to the days when Peter Diamandopoulos reigned o'er Adelphi University:

The [campus] critics’ cause had been energized in 1995 when The Chronicle of Higher Education listed Dr. Diamandopoulos’s annual compensation at $523,626. That made it second among university presidents only to his mentor, John R. Silber at Boston University. The critics formed the Coalition to Save Adelphi and raised $620,000, mostly for lawyers.

Meanwhile, defenders of Dr. Diamandopoulos said removing him would be catastrophic. “What’s happening at Adelphi is a watershed moment in higher education,” Dr. Silber said in 1996. A coup “would be nothing short of a national calamity” and “an uncompromising disaster for education,” he said.

The state attorney general’s office investigated, and Board of Regents hearings found that Dr. Diamandopoulos’s compensation had actually reached $837,113, plus $2 million in retirement entitlements.

The details smacked of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” The president’s official residence on the edge of the campus was a Tudor house with maid service. Adelphi also bought a $1.2 million Manhattan condominium for his use. It spent $196,275 to upgrade and furnish it, including an electrified system to melt snow on the terrace and $1,800 for towel racks and soap dishes.

Other benefits included health, life and property insurance; trips to Europe; and entertainment expenses, including one $454 bar tab with Dr. Silber.

But Adelphi’s trustees had never voted on his compensation; only a small committee even knew the details. Adelphi even concealed the largesse from the Internal Revenue Service for five years, incurring an $11,500 fine.

The Regents also found conflicts of interest involving two trustees, including the former board chairwoman. Her insurance company was found to have gotten $1.2 million in fees for handling Adelphi’s accounts.

In an extraordinary intervention, the Regents replaced Adelphi’s trustees for mismanagement, and the new board pushed out Dr. Diamandopoulos in 1997. He contested the ouster at first but then joined Dr. Silber’s staff at Boston University.

What's wonderful is that Boston University has Diamandopoulos teaching moral philosophy. Check out the 53 student comments on his Rate My Professors page to see how happy BU students are he was stashed there. Maybe BU should try to hire Barry Munitz [scroll down to "One of the Less Savory Things..."] away from the University of California.

Anyway, the main point of the article is that Adelphi survived the many wounds Diamandopoulos inflicted on it, and is now doing fine.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

University of Texas Adzillatron
Creates New Form of Sports Writing

'The ads are all discreetly placed so that you barely noticed them, assuming you were one of those who passed out in the sweltering 97-degree heat brought to you by Victory Medical Family Care.

But, hey, business is good. And the football is even better.

The Longhorns' 56-7 romp over North Texas was more satisfying than Madam Mam's Noodles & More, as rookie quarterback Colt McCoy electrified the crowd with four touchdowns, three of them passes sponsored by the Dang Long Upholstery Service.

McCoy was Right Guard cool, showed Turtle Wax polish and exhibited remarkable poise in leading third-ranked Texas to an easy-as-expected 21st consecutive victory, the nation's longest winning streak.

"Colt came up to me Thursday," coach Mack Brown said, "and he asked, 'Is it normal that I'm not nervous?' I told him, 'That means you're prepared.' He didn't rattle at all."

Keep this up, and he may rattle the ghosts of Longhorn quarterback greats past. Yes, the school has had some. Vince Young, Marty Akins, Bobby Layne . . . and we'll have to get back to you.

But for three dropped passes by his receivers, McCoy would have completed 15 of 19 passes in a hair-raising collegiate debut brought to you by Cut 'n' Shoot Hair Studio.

He even had the longest run of the day with a 27-yard scramble, although Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young both stood out like the Event Staff's new electric lime-green shirts.

On both sides of the ball, Texas mostly stuck to whatever flavor is less vanilla than vanilla, playing Tays & Bohls Lawn-mowing Service base defense with only two or three blitzes and running counters, option pitches and zone reads out of the no-huddle.

Brown apparently is saving tight end threat Jermichael Finley to be next week's She Spies Private Eye secret weapon against Ohio State because neither McCoy nor backup Jevan Snead found the redshirt freshman for a pass.

The Longhorns rarely threw deep, but the Armadillo Insurance Agency offensive award went to Limas Sweed, who should assure McCoy of a great go-to receiver all season. Sweed broke off a 60-yard score on the third play of the game and had two touchdowns in the best individual game of his career.

"It's a million miles," Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis said of the progress Sweed has made.

He may go further. If Sweed looked any more like Roy Williams in their shared No. 4 jerseys, he'd be arrested for impersonating the best receiver in school history.

The Longhorns' Big Rack Taxidermy defense positively stuffed North Texas' Jamario Thomas, who two years ago led the nation in rushing but on this day led a trail of Longhorns wherever he went. The junior finished with 38 yards rushing and, were his 16-yard burst subtracted from his total, averaged 1.7 yards a carry.

"We had a lot of great physical play," UT defensive co-coordinator Gene Chizik said. "Our safeties came up with some big plays, and our defensive line was swarming the passer. But any time they score, it upsets you."

None was more physical than Erick Jackson, who administered the Mad Dog Tattoo Removal hit of the day when he branded Mean Green kickoff returner Joel Nwigwe late in the game.

That's the type of mean and muscle that Texas must bring if it hopes to beat top-ranked Ohio State next weekend.

However, the Longhorns are going to have to play smarter than volatile linebacker Robert Killebrew, who made the Around the Clock Bail Bonds bonehead play of the day when he hit Thomas out of bounds. At least Killer did wait until his fifth play of the season before getting his first personal foul of the year and fifth in his career.

Texas certainly doesn't want to leave it up to the officials, who might make the Headset Express bad call of the day as they did when they held up play forever by reviewing Aaron Ross' muff of North Texas' first punt.

As Brown said, "The game was two hours. Instant replay was another hour."

However, it was worth the wait. Texas genuinely looked like a legit national contender — although we'll know more in next week's Big Foot Pest Control game of the year.'

austin american-statesman
After its Premiere, Godzillatron Renamed
By UT Fans: It's Now Adzillatron

Tried to tell you guys, but do you listen to me? No. You get all excited about having the largest scoreboard in the world, and it doesn't occur to you that fifty percent of it will be used for continuous loud ads?

A few comments from the fans who were there last night:

My question is, how much advertising do the swells in the air conditioned soundproofed luxury suites have to absorb? My guess is none. They’re too busy ordering more paté and Dom Perignon to even look at the field.

Kyle Field : 1, DKR : 0

AdZillaTron Lives! After game 1, I give it a C-. If they don’t improve it by OSU, it goes down to a D. You’d think they could play 30 mins of RoseBowl and other game highlights 30 mins before the game. That will get people there EARLY! Show realtime stats instead of bouncing helmets. I got nauseous watching them bounce and that logo spin for 3 hours. Please make it stop. And more BIG SCREEN. Why buy a 7000 sq foot screen, and only use 3500 of it for game purposes?

Adzillatron- We spent $8 million dollars for the worlds largest high definition billboard. It was a complete disgrace. I don’t know if I could have been anymore displeased at what I saw yesterday. For a University who has the largest athletic budget in the ENTIRE COUNTRY, I can’t believe they need to have those horrible ads up there the whole game. But that is good ole Delo$$ dodds for you.

I’ve had student season tickets for six years now (grad school) and this was the worst game I have ever been to. Commercials were blaring every 20 seconds for four hours straight. I could hardly hear the band at all, and it made a noticeable difference with crowd enthusiasm (yes, even compared with other blow out games). How dare UT brag about their screen for months, only to make it smaller than last year’s because 75% of the screen is even more ads in addition to the once over the speakers.

Godzillatron should only be used to show footage of barefoot Oklahoma kids looking for tires for their house and a daddy. What were you thinking? Of all the human tragedies in the world, people are supposed to care more about the plight of white trash okies? Come on.

As for the board, everyone involved with its construction/use has conceded that it is a work in progress. Calm down people. It will get better.

Beautiful, but too loud and too much advertising. The advertising almost overtakes the game.

I attended both our game and the aggies game yesterday. What a Joke - and not on the aggies. I could not believe the difference and how much better their entire big screen setup is than the new one in DKR. Their ribbon board is amazing and their entire setup for programming puts us to shame. Our people don’t know what the heck they are doing with Adzillatron. Outclassed by a bunch of aggies and their Gigatron. Ouch!

I’m just disappointed that the Horns will lose a lot of their “home field” advantage. It will be very difficult to keep the crowd “in the game” when the ads completely drown out the band.

We were also disappointed with the pre-game Longhorn stampede. The original was much more powerful and could truly ‘rev-up’ the crowd. Hopefully the graphic artists and programmers will be working night and day upgrading the ‘opening act’. Also, why exclude Vince Young? No Heisman trophy? Give me a break. Show more of the Rose Bowl victory.

Wayne hit all nails squarely on the head. DITTO FOR ME. Please, get something done about the burnt orange being red before Ohio State, surley there is a fine tuning knob somewhere on that thing.

The ads are gaudy, boring and dominate the screen. Tone-down the ads, punch-up the stampede graphics, and widen the screen to focus on our Horns. The crowd was not electrified by the new screen even though this was our first game after winning the National Championship.

TOO LOUD!!!!!!!!




I think there ought to be a fan revolt. As someone said above, it’s a new billboard, not something that enhances the game-watching. But the biggest gripe for me is the noise. Might was well not have the Longhorn band at the game except for the 10 minutes of half-time when the thing finally shut up. I felt violated.

I’ve already seen pictures this morning of the new video board over at Kyle Field. Huge improvement. Can’t believe the Aggies were able to outdo us on this one. Bigger isn’t always better. Less ads, more football please. I want to see a major improvement next week.

Ads equal $$$ - we get that, but can’t you use the whole screen during the acual plays and replays and go back to the half screen between? Who benefited by looking at the two helmets just revolve? Show us the game!!!!

I agree with most of the comments already made. More of the screen should be shown for the game and not adertisements. Adjust the sound better, but it does need to be loud and of the best quality possible. Also, the screen should be adjusted as The UT football players would like it, afterall it is them and should be for them.

You should check out the A&M scoreboard it was AMAZING…..replays and the whole board was sued. Sorry buds.

What’s the point? If the whole viewing area isn’t going to be used to show the game/replays - remove it. It’s not any better than the old sign - I expected more from all the hype.The fact that “The scoreboard requires a special part and other work to maximize its features” makes it sound like we didn’t purchase the entire package to make the whole screen show the game - maybe that’s not one of the “features”. That would be the most disappointing.

Just get rid of the ads during replays and use the full screen for them — as soon as that is technically feasible.

Once that happens, most fans will be a LOT less vocal about the new screen.

All the excitement about the great new scoreboard only to find out it wasn’t about making the game better, it was about money and advertising. A. What a letdown. B. Instead of improving the game experience to the fans who paid the money for it, it was a distraction with all the ADVERTISING, DID YOU HEAR ME, I SAID ADVERTISING, LIKE ADVERTISING !!!!!!!

GET IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can forget about the game itself, the fight songs, and the beautiful, classy backdrop of the Six Flags of Texas that used to sit there, because they’ve all been pushed aside by the giant billboard. If I was in the band, I think I’d quit.

Its hideous. I don’t see the point of having static ads on a dynamic medium. What a waste of nice equipment and money. The setup at Kyle field looks much, much nicer at this point. I’m willing to be patient, though, and hope that whoever is in charge is going to fix this debacle.

I’ve seen better scoreboards on campus.

It’s ridiculous to use so much real estate on the new jumbotron for ads. I believe a poster over on dubbed it ‘Adzillatron’.

Just like the call to start yesterday’s game at 11:00am for TV viewing, it’s all about the almighty dollar.

At least show replays on the full screen.

Ad-Zilla is the best name that I have heard so far. That was horrible. I hope that they get it right soon.

More ads than game content. What a waste.

too many ads and not enough actual screen usage. full screen replays are needed as is a place with updated team nd player stats (see nebraska). the ads are hideous and too loud (louder than the game is not needed considering they come when it is quiet (breaks in action).

we are more third tier with content than we are the joneses. we should visit some other stdiums to see what it should look like.

Another reminder to all that UT athletics is corporatized to the point where its connection to the University is largely beside the point. Dodds seems to think that his bottomless bank account should be spent on any multimillion dollar toy he can think of, and everybody else just follows pathetically along. Who’s for a dome? How about a TV monitor blaring ads in front of each and every seat? Why not put ads on the players?

GIGANTIC disappointment. Waste of space. Maybe we can gross out our opponents by running LOUD ads for toe fungus remedies or something. GAG.

I hope that first game was just to introduce us to the sponsors. From Ohio State game on, perhaps they will use the whole screen for game activities. I rarely looked at it, as when I did, there was some company advertizing their stuff.

“There are thousands of kids in Oklahoma without shoes, a dad that they know, 4 new tires on their home, and 3 square meals. We should have spent that $8 million helping them.”

Best post yet. I love it.

This ugly thing is a high-definition billboard NOT a “high-definition video scoreboard” like UT says it is. What a total joke.

If they keep starting ads and drowning out our Band playing Texas Fight after a score, they’re going to have problems.

Was it too loud? Was there too much advertising?

Are you kidding? That was about as embarrassing as it gets. But not surprising. Our athletics department would sell its mother’s soul if it could make money.

Horrible. The people attending the game care about one thing…the game! The actual game showed on the screen seems no bigger than the old video board…and now much more annoying with bigger ads. I will make it a point not to shop at or buy any of the products that are represented on Adzillatron. It seems to be the only way to get the point across.

A typically lurid, garish monstrosity. $8 million could have been spent much more wisely on UT’s academic programs.

I wear hearing aids in both ears, and still the sound system was painfully loud. People around me, with normal hearing, were complaining.

I am sure that as the season progresses, the athletic department will learn to make better use of the video capabilities. The main thing for me was the volume was WAY TOO LOUD, especially when Bob Cole was on the mic. Several times I literally had to cover my ears when he was doing one of his way-too-many commercials. Get a VU meter for the mic and a decibel meter so we don’t go deaf.

LESS THAN 1/2 the screen for replays!? Looks like all the fans got was more advertising! Am I surprised? Not at all. Football is no longer a game for the kids/community. It is big business Baby! Even the high schools have become tainted [Westlake, Westwood…]. Before long it will cost $50 to see your 7th grader play Dripping Springs! [in person anyway, but at least you will be able to watch it on Fox Sports Southwest, among the ads for training jock straps].

While the screen was impressive, the sound was way too loud, particularly pregame music. Is this thing going to be used to ram advertisements down our throats all game? If so, give each fan a remote so we can mute/fast forward through them. Only half the screen for replays? No way!!

I was initially very excited at the prospect of the new scoreboard. However, now that I see that the only thing that has been added is additional space for constant ads, I think the University should have saved the money. Plus, turn down the volumn a little. It was so loud in North End Zone that it didn’t sound good.

Here’s more… And the Longhorn Band pregame show was ruined when the continuity that we have grown to love was chopped up and interrupted with announcements interspersed . What happened to March Grandioso? Was it cut out so we could inject more ads? Whoever decided on programming, timing, and layout design of the of Adzillatron 1) was oblivious to UT tradition, 2)has no taste (except in his mouth) 3)wasted money on when he turned it into the world’s most expensive billboard/screensaver.

Several comments I saw aptly described it: Instead of Godzillatron, it now is known as Adzillatron… It looked like a fence full of ads at a Little League game… Why spend all that money on a huge GD screen when it is filled with billboard ads 99.5% of the time? Highlights-the US and Longhorn flags full screen, and the pregame animation-FULL SCREEN.

Sounds like a complete waist of money and electical power. If it and all operational expenses are paid for by stupid overpaid exes, then I have no care. If tax dollars are used to pay for it and the high cost of power, maintenance, and updates, then it nothing but a power sucking ego trip for all the overpaid school officials. How much tuition costs could have been lowered, instead of feeding this continous money and power drain?

Everyone in my section unanimously thought that the scoreboard was loud and obnoxious. For me, it was the least-enjoyable game over many years of attending. The crowd was the quietest I’d ever experienced, which I suspect was due to the blaring coming from the scoreboard. I am a long-time season-ticket holder, and cannot even imagine having to sit through that nightmare every week. Even the players on the field were distracted by it.

Didn’t go to the game, saw the scoreboard on TV and other than the ad revenue it generates and the fact A+M has one too, my only comment would be WHY WOULD FANS NEED THIS? Personally, I believe the “Tron” won’t be there next year and used as an example of a mistake to be learned from.

The Jumbotron scoreboard is a perfect example of the arrogance of the UT “suits” in their air-conditioned skyboxes deciding what the regular fans must endure. The scoreboard is extremely loud. The audio of the commercials is so obnoxious and distracting that it robs any enjoyment of the football experience. Whoever approved this montrosity ought to be fired immediately. PEOPLE, START WRITING LETTERS PROTESTING THIS SCOREBOARD!

If Gary Johnson wants the kids in Oklahoma to have food, tires etc. let him send his ticket money to them. This is a football game, not the Democratic Party Convention to take care of the world.

I think the Buckeyes will look good on the scoreboard as the beat the Longhorns. Hook em’ Buckeyes!

As a visually impared fan I was not able to read any numbers on the megatron other then the time remaining in the game. The megatron might be bigger but it sure isn’t better!

Chrage everyone a couple of more bucks per ticket and drop some of the ads. Even the kickoffs are now sponsored with ads? Give us a break!

Brightness and clarity is great. Programing is terrible. Maybe A&M is right, their programing is better. Good luck finding the score buried in small numbers at the bottom of the screen. Replay size seems no larger than last year. Several times the scoreboard over powered the band, the essence of team spirit. Suggestions: turn the volume down during ads, use all of the middle of the screen for replays and for showing the band at half-time, and make the score a little more obivious.

If fans had been paying attention in the beginning of the game, the ones posting comments about only half of the screen being used for replays, they would have learned that before the season is over, the full screen will be utilized for that. The graphics on the screen are unbelievable, however, I agree that it’s a bit loud. As far as using the money to buy shoes for kids in Oklahoma (posted above,) PLEASE!!!!!!!

I think UT’s mega-ego won’t fit into the stadium anymore! “Mine is bigger” is just a bit childish for adults. BTW, I think UT is absolutely “without class” for beating an opponent 50+ to 7. Have you ever, ever heard of “sportsman-like conduct”? I am embarassed for Texas.

I can’t believe we paid all that money, listened to all that hype, watched as the monster developed, and still end up with a viewing screen no bigger than the last one. The ads around the outside of the screen are no big deal but at least use both sides of the middle so we can see the game and enjoy everything this “godzillatron” was supposed to be. Right now, I’m no more impressed than i was with the last one.

The design of the scoreboard looks like it was designed by an Aggie. The “top hat” lacks in proportion, appearance and color (this can be corrected). Also, the Horn’s entry portal looks toy.

What happened to the Freddie Steinmark scoreboard?

Impressive scoreboard, if it is used to it’s full potential. It’s like having a Ferrari and only being able to drive it around in the parking lot. They should drop the ads and use the full screen during live shots and replays, and bring the ads back up during down time. Thay way everybody’s happy. Hook em horns!

Think of how many POOR people could go to the University with the money WASTED on the monster Scoreboard. Vince Lombardi said “Act like you’ve been there before”. UT should learn that lesson!!!!!

From our perspective, the color orange always showed up as red - not good! And the sound was far too loud - were they broadcasting to Round Rock? As far as content, I would really like to see a running stat log on the right side vs. that helmet thing.

I hope they adjust the coloring on the screen before the big Ohio State game. Texas jerseys look red to me.

UT should have used that money to buy more players and glasses for their home game officials.

That money could have paid for more sportsmanship classes for their fans.

Too much of this…not enough of that. Just like with any “TV”, reguardless of it’s size, the only one who’s happy is the one that has the remote control.

It’s like going to the grand Canyon and seeing nothing but billboards on steroids and wonderlng what happened to the view. Is Big Bertha with Ads next?

As a true orangeblood for life I was really excited about seeing The Godzillatron until I saw all the advertisers. It sends the wrong message that we Texas folk need

How greedy is UT? They already raised tuition and surely make plenty of money on 85,000 seats.. We paid for Godzillatron, not Taco Bell.

The complaint I have with the scoreboard itself is why have something that big only to use about 40% of it to show the game. I understand the outer rim ads but the other ads running the whole time on the west side gives the same viewing area as the old screen. The Flag and the opening sequence was using that toy to it’s potential.

Huge board. WAY too many ads, and replays taking up only half the board is really lame. I can’t wait until they pay attention to the “message-board crowd” who seem to be the ones that really know how to utilize Godzillatron.

as a 20+ yr season tickeholder, I think it is an awful gawdy scoreboard & unnecessary. Truly excessive. The music blaring from the scoreboard in recent years drowns out the experience of coming to a college game—the bands and the crowd’s exhortations as well as the quiet moments reflecting the ebb and flow of emotion.

Truly sad.

I’m all for bringing money into the program, but the DeLoss Dodds needs to learn the difference between a scoreboard and a billboard.

He’s taken what could potentially be a wonderful addition to the stadium and turned it into an eyesore. Ugh.

There are thousands of kids in Oklahoma without shoes, a dad that they know, 4 new tires on their home, and 3 square meals. We should have spent that $8 million helping them.

I thought fact that they only use half of the screen for playing of the game is Ridiculous it would completely maximize it’s potential if the game play was shown on the entire widescreen. The size of it pretty impressive but definitely all over rated. The speaker system is pretty darn loud though I’ll give that to him.

They need to show more of the game and less of the advertisements!

The sound was almost too loud and I expected the game to be shown on a much bigger screen. What we saw was about the same size as last years screen if not the same size. I know it is the first game and kinks have to worked out.

Pardon my French, but what fucking dupes.
One of the Less Savory Things...

...that universities sometimes do is serve as dumping-grounds for the malsain. Corrupt lobbyists and diplomats and businesspeople who've been dumped from their real jobs due to highway robbery and other scurillous behaviors but who still crave legitimacy and a salary often find ways -- through friendships with trustees, or through giving huge gifts to this or that school -- to get faculty appointments for themselves. In an early post, UD referred to this reputation-cleansing action as the university's "Colonic Effect."

Barry Munitz, the spectacularly corrupt former head of the Getty Trust, was an administrator at a California university before he rose so high and fell so low, and onaccounta tenure and all they've taken him back, with a fancy title, a huge salary, and the obligation to teach one course a year (An English department course! UD's ravaged discipline!). The New York Times wrote briefly about it awhile back:

Barry Munitz, who resigned under pressure in February as president of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles amid questions about his use of the trust's money, has been hired as a professor by the California state university system. Mr. Munitz, who served as chancellor of the university system for eight years before taking over the leadership of the Getty, will teach a course in the English department at the Los Angeles campus, exercising his right as a former system executive to return to a teaching position there. His salary will be $163,000 during his first year, and then will decrease to $112,000, the top of the pay scale for a full professor, system officials said. Mr. Munitz will also help raise money for several new projects, they added. James M. Rosser, the president of Cal State, Los Angeles, said in a statement that he welcomed Mr. Munitz back. But Lillian Taiz, a history professor and president of the campus chapter of the California Faculty Association, said that she and many faculty members were unhappy with Mr. Munitz's hiring. "We were stunned," she said, "that someone of such questionable ethics will be teaching in our classrooms." Mr. Munitz could not be reached for comment. Mr. Munitz, whose travel and expense spending are under investigation by the California attorney general's office, was required to repay the Getty Trust, one of the world's richest art institutions, $250,000 when he resigned in February, and he was not given a severance package. At the Getty, Mr. Munitz was one of the nation's best-paid executives of a nonprofit institution, with salary, benefits and perks totaling more than $1 million.

But there's cause for hope. Apparently the trustees knew that if they made the machinations by which they took back Barry public they'd have a faculty and maybe also student revolt on their hands, so they did the deed in private. And now, as the LA Times reports:

A teachers group has won a partial victory in its challenge to the secret hiring of ousted former J. Paul Getty Trust chief Barry Munitz by California State University trustees.

A judge on Friday rejected the trustees' request that the faculty lawsuit be thrown out of Los Angeles County Superior Court, and it will be pursued, according to John Travis, president of the California Faculty Assn.

The university has stated that Munitz had an enforceable right to return to the Cal State system.

Munitz was hired behind closed doors in February to teach and raise funds after resigning from the Getty amid an investigation into alleged misuse of charity funds. He is being paid $163,776 — almost double the top salary of $85,000 for a Cal State professor with 20 years of teaching experience.

Munitz was chancellor of the Cal State system until he left to head the Getty nine years ago.

The faculty group challenged the Munitz appointment, alleging that it was not made in a meeting open to the public, as required by law.

"The whole way they make decisions and the kind of decisions they make reflect that they don't have an adequate understanding of their responsibility," Travis said.

Lillian Taiz, who heads the faculty group at Cal State L.A., said Munitz will teach a single class there for one quarter of the coming school year in the English literature department.

"Most of us — normal people — teach three classes in each of three quarters," Taiz said.

She said Munitz's "golden parachute" can't be justified by a school system that has experienced 20% in budget cutbacks in recent years, and for which student fees have jumped 76%.

"Is this an appropriate program for a public university that's struggling financially?" Taiz asked. "If you don't have these discussions openly, then who knows what's going on?"

A spokeswoman for the university system could not be reached. But in the past, Cal State officials have said the university was legally obligated to let Munitz return from what was characterized as a leave of absence. Faculty union leaders have questioned whether the university was required to rehire Munitz in a position called trustee professor.

Murray L. Galinson, chairman of the Cal State Board of Trustees, criticized union officials earlier this year for making "irresponsible" comments about the Munitz deal.

Superior Court Judge Robert H. O'Brien made the ruling. The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3.

Go, Lillian!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Thus Sprach Sprezzatura

Bloggers Blog quotes one of Lee Siegel's paeans to himself, written on his own blog's comment thread under the pseudonym "sprezzatura":

"Siegel is brave, brilliant, and wittier than Stewart will ever be. Take that, you bunch of immature, abusive sheep."

UD's Academic Conflict of Interest Tickertape

They are endemic. Only the biggies make it to the press. Since they are happening all the time, all around us, UD rarely mentions them. She asks you to imagine a tickertape running through University Diaries, which UD sometimes stops in order to highlight a particularly outrageous case. Like this one.

The editor of a U.S. medical journal has resigned in the midst of recent news that he failed to disclose financial ties to industry.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal Monday, Charles Nemeroff, the editor of the medical journal Neuropsychopharmacology, stepped down amid reports he had failed to disclose his financial ties to Cyberonics, the maker of an anti-depression device for which he had written a favorable article. The article in question also failed to disclose that seven other authors of the article served as consultants to the company, while an eighth author was employed by Cyberonics, the newspaper reported.

The article, published in the journal last month, described Cyberonics' product -- a device implanted in the patient's chest to deliver electrical impulses to the vagus nerve as a treatment for depression -- as "a promising and well-tolerated intervention," WSJ said.

The medical journal has since published a correction to the article.

Note that he was the editor of the journal.

Nemeroff's been doing this sort of thing for years, a quick Google search reveals. No one seems to care. I'm sure his position at Emory University remains secure.
Inequality Fad

Yesterday, I looked at some writers on the left complaining about economic inequality in the United States. Here are some on the right, responding to the same evidence:

1.) An opinion piece by Nicholas Eberstadt in the Washington Post:

Obviously, the official poverty rate isn't reflecting shifting living conditions in the United States. A wealth of evidence shows that those who are counted as poor today have dramatically higher living standards than their counterparts in the 1960s, when the poverty rate was originally devised...

...Contradicting both economic theory and readily observable facts, the poverty rate assumes that a household's annual spending cannot, by definition, exceed its annual income.

Of course, this is not true, and economists have won Nobel prizes explaining why spending can far exceed income, particularly in advanced societies. For instance, when families are experiencing an unusually bad year, they may spend more than they earn if they see better prospects in the future. Similarly, a young worker may go into debt if she anticipates increases in her pay or benefits. Living standards, in other words, are linked to purchasing power -- and a family's purchasing power is not limited to its annual earnings.

...Among low-income households in the United States, the gap between reported income and reported spending has widened gradually since the 1960s and now has taken on chasm-like dimensions. In the early 1960s, the poorest quarter of U.S. households spent 12 percent more than their annual incomes. In 1973, spending by America's poorest fifth surpassed their income by almost 40 percent. And in 2004, spending by the poorest fifth of American families exceeded income by a whopping 95 percent; in effect, spending was nearly twice as much as income.

These patterns might be due to easy access to credit, with many consumers maxing out their credit cards or engaging in other unsustainable borrowing. (Curiously, however, recent credit surveys suggest that the net worth of poorer Americans has been rising, not falling.)

Another important factor could be the increasing instability of American incomes. Scholars such as Jacob Hacker at Yale University and Robert Moffitt at Johns Hopkins University have noted that the income of American families is likely to bounce around much more today than it did three decades ago -- whether due to greater global competition, increasing rewards for education or other factors. Intensified swings, in turn, mean that more households may, in any given year, earn low incomes and be temporarily classified as living in poverty. But they continue to spend as they did before, anticipating that their incomes will bounce back. Such oscillations also mean that the incomes reported by families in annual surveys -- the backbone for the official poverty estimate -- are a steadily less accurate indicator of true living standards.

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal:

The truth is that there has been a modest widening of the income gap in recent decades, regardless of which party is in power. That gap seems due largely to growing returns on education and skills in the global economy. Americans without a high-school diploma are losing ground against those who have college degrees. But this argues not for higher taxes on the rich, who already pay the vast bulk of U.S. taxes. It argues for reforming K-12 education so even the weakest and poorest students can compete against the world.

In any event, it's a mistake to put much stock in these class-envy statistics on income shares, gini quotients, and wealth gaps that Washington and the media like to stress. There's nothing that policy makers can do about them in the short run, and a preoccupation with inequality will do actual harm if it leads to policies such as higher tax rates that reduce economic growth. We'd suggest readers ignore the inequality fad that is intended for election-year consumption and keep their eyes on what really matters--the policies that promote growth and prosperity for all Americans.

'An Apology to Our Readers

After an investigation, The New Republic has determined that the comments in our Talkback section defending Lee Siegel's articles and blog under the username "sprezzatura" were produced with Siegel's participation. We deeply regret misleading our readers. Lee Siegel's blog will no longer be published by TNR, and he has been suspended from writing for the magazine.

Franklin Foer
Editor, The New Republic'

"Sprezzatura" means 'unstudied grace,' 'elegant carelessness,' in the two first definitions I googled. In some of his writing, Siegel had this quality. Lately he's been rankled and angry. He invented the sprezzatura persona and wrote on his NR blog's comment threads in praise of himself and vicious denunciation of his detractors, some of whom he singled out by name.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Godzillatron East

...McLean, [Virginia]... has become the psychic center of the Washington Republican establishment... [Here you find the] rewards awaiting ambitious conservatives in modern Washington, where unprecedented wealth is being made from the business of politics...

...Beyond their cultural preference for the suburbs, Washington's cadre of movement conservatives had no interest in joining the Georgetown set -- they had come to Washington to defeat it. Certainly, these post-Reagan conservatives -- many from the South and the Sunbelt -- hailed from a different class. Edwina Rogers, for instance, grew up in the rural Alabama town of Wetumpka. ("Dirt road, no telephone.") Ed is from Birmingham. (They met when she was a University of Alabama law student and he was working for the 1984 Reagan campaign.) As Edwina explained it, "Georgetown is more for the social elite, the intellectual elite. The people in McLean are more from humble backgrounds, state universities, not coming in from Yale or Harvard. It's middle-American nouveau riche."

Indeed, the migration of power from Georgetown to McLean represents the shift in American politics in microcosm. The Northeastern liberal elite drawn to the urbane sophistication of Georgetown has receded. In its place has risen a new conservative striver class -- more likely to have grown up in Texas (or, as with the Rogerses, Alabama) -- that has set itself up as landed gentry across the Potomac River in McLean.

...Conventional wisdom has been slow to assimilate this new reality. In the parlance of Beltway-bashing populists, "Georgetown" is the sneering shorthand used to describe Washington's clueless, cosseted elites. That shorthand, however, reveals how little these critics really understand contemporary Washington. Georgetown -- and the establishment that resided there -- faded from importance long ago. Over the last decade of growing Republican dominance in the capital, a new establishment has risen up to replace it. In a sense, McLean is the new Georgetown...

...Most galling to this former Harvard professor [the writer is talking about longtime Mclean resident Zbigniew Brzezinski] are what he sees as touches of fake class. Those despised McMansions are "totally phony, in that they imitate European aristocratic mansions, chateaus, and castles," he grouses. "The height of absurdity being reached by some that were clearly designed for northern Europe, with spires and roofs to deal with the snowfalls, but these are now located on postage-stamp lots in semi-tropical Northern Virginia." [Brzezinski's disdain for what the place has become, by the way, is not about his having been a professor, but his having been born a somewhat high-ranking Pole.]

The piece, in the New Republic, quotes Gore Vidal along the same nouveau-disdaining lines as Brzezinski... But it mainly describes the awesomely ostentatious consumer excesses of those who live in Mclean.

The piece notes that some of these people are Democrats. It should have made more of this, since it's my belief, as I said below in the post on Thomas Frank, that there's little difference between Republican and Democratic gated communities anymore, which is why Frank's class war isn't going to happen. The struggling classes in this country have no powerful defenders.
Donald Kagan on
America's Imperial Faculty

Does it matter that Harvard’s curriculum is a vacant vessel? It is no secret, after all, that to the Harvard faculty, undergraduate education is at best of secondary interest. What is laughingly called the Core Curriculum—precisely what Summers sought to repair—is distinguished by the absence of any core of studies generally required. In practice, moreover, a significant number of the courses in Harvard College are taught by graduate students, not as assistants to professors but in full control of the content. Although they are called “tutors,” evoking an image of learned Oxbridge dons passing on their wisdom one-on-one, what they are is a collection of inexperienced leaders of discussion or pseudo-discussion groups. The overwhelming majority of these young men and women, to whom is entrusted a good chunk of a typical undergraduate’s education, will never be considered good enough to belong to Harvard’s regular faculty.

...The picture drawn by [Derek] Bok [in a recent book] is an astonishingly dark one. [Kagan reviews Bok's evidence of uneducated, uncultured, semi-literate graduates, even of our best colleges.] What, then, to do? One obvious answer, pressed by many critics of the current campus scene, is to readjust the arrangement that has allowed faculty members to devote more and more time to their research and less and less time to teaching.

When I went to college a half-century ago, my professors taught five courses a semester and met classes for fifteen hours a week. At Penn State, where I began my own career, I taught four courses. When I moved to Cornell in 1960, it was down to three. At Yale we teach two courses a semester, and in the hard sciences only one. The top universities today offer at least one semester off for every seven semesters taught; in my day, it was a semester every seven years. In sum, today’s college faculty meet no more than half as many classes as their predecessors a half-century ago.

... An imperial faculty that responds to well-founded complaints about the curriculum by, in Lewis’s words, “relaxing requirements so that students can do what they want to do,” thus leaving professors free to teach only what (and when) they feel like teaching and—though Lewis does not mention this—to select as colleagues only those who share their narrow political perspective, is no longer serving the purposes of higher education. It has instead become an agent of their degradation.

As things stand now, no president appears capable of taming the imperial faculty; almost none is willing to try; and no one else from inside the world of the universities or infected by its self-serving culture is likely to stand up and say “enough,” or to be followed by anyone if he does. Salvation, if it is to come at all, will have to come from without.

---commentary magazine---
Snapshots from Home
A Regular University Diaries Feature

The computer still works, but the rest of the power in the house has just gone out -- Ernesto's here in earnest, I guess... GWU has issued warnings and suggestions for students as they move into their dorms during what looks to be a nasty storm ...

I can't really see my keyboard -- good thing my mother insisted I learn to touchtype when I was fourteen... It's dark and getting darker; and it gets really dark in Garrett Park, where you can't see the sky for the trees.

I'm all alone, too -- Mr. UD's in Philadelphia, at the American Political Science Association convention... Joyce-Themed Spawn is with Zuzu, her Slovakian friend, who lives down the street...

But before you really begin to pity me, huddled alone in a dark house, consider how well-heeled I am nonetheless!

The three most prosperous large counties in the United States are in the Washington suburbs, according to census figures released yesterday, which show that the region has the second-highest income and the least poverty of any major metropolitan area in the country.

Rapidly growing Loudoun County has emerged as the wealthiest jurisdiction in the nation, with its households last year having a median income of more than $98,000. It is followed by Fairfax and Howard counties, with Montgomery County not far behind.

That's from the Washington Post. And here's Thomas Frank, in the New York Times:

When you view the world from the satisfied environs of Washington — a place where lawyers outnumber machinists 27 to 1 and where five suburban counties rank among the seven wealthiest in the nation — the fantasies of postindustrial liberalism make perfect sense. The reign of the “knowledge workers” seems noble.

Seen from almost anywhere else, however, these are lousy times. The latest data confirms that as the productivity of workers has increased, the ones reaping the benefits are stockholders. Census data tells us that the only reason family income is keeping up with inflation is that more family members are working.

Everything I have written about in this space points to the same conclusion: Democratic leaders must learn to talk about class issues again. But they won’t on their own. So pressure must come from traditional liberal constituencies and the grass roots, like the much-vilified bloggers. Liberalism also needs strong, well-funded institutions fighting the rhetorical battle. Laying out policy objectives is all well and good, but the reason the right has prevailed is its army of journalists and public intellectuals. Moving the economic debate to the right are dozens if not hundreds of well-funded Washington think tanks, lobbying outfits and news media outlets. Pushing the other way are perhaps 10.

Longtime readers know that I have nothing in principle against Frank's effort to get the rest of the country outfitted with pitchforks and sent to Garrett Park. But I think he's wrong to assume that "Democratic leaders" are going to want to "talk about class issues." I've lived here a long time and met scads of Democratic leadership types -- in politics, academia, journalism, think tanks, etc. -- and the problem is that their class is absolutely equivalent to the Republicans' class.

Bill and Hillary vacation on Nantucket. Then there's John Kerry.

These are all happy satisfied rich people. You don't stir up class resentment among such people, whatever their theoretical ideological commitments may be.

In a way, Frank's comment admits as much; he says that class war will have to come from the grassroots. Then why is he writing in the New York Times? If something's the matter with Kansas, why isn't he publishing his opinion pieces in their newspapers?

E.J. Dionne, in the Washington Post, has a similar problem. He too tries to lay down some populist rhetoric in a recent column about economic inequality in America:

The census had some very good news for the well-to-do. The top fifth of American households received 50.4 percent of all income last year, the highest proportion since 1967, when the Census Bureau started following that trend. The biggest gains were concentrated in the top 5 percent.

"The economy is growing, and someone is getting the growth," said Sharon Parrott, a senior analyst at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "So now we know who it is."

President Bush and the Republican Congress, take a bow: You took power to make the well-off even better off, and you have succeeded brilliantly.

It would have been far more honest - and probably politically more productive - for Dionne to have ended this piece with a little honesty and a little introspection ["In another big home sale, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and wife Mary T. Boyle bought a shingle-and-stone Colonial in Bethesda’s Glen Echo Heights for $1.6 million. The 2004 house has ten-foot ceilings on the first floor, three fireplaces, and an elevator."], as in we have met the enemy, and he is us.
Whip Me Again, Master

Let’s give a cheer for the old University at Buffalo Bulls, perennially one of the worst teams in football, as they take the field this fall against two national powerhouses, Auburn and Wisconsin. Win or lose, the Bulls thereby double their appearance profits to $600,000 per game. “It’s all about the money,” observed the head coach at West Virginia, sparing sports fans the how-you-play-the-game bromides after his team was unceremoniously dumped from Buffalo’s schedule to make way for one of the power teams offering fatter paychecks.

Despite its 1-10 record last season, Buffalo’s value for big-time opponents is rising because the National Collegiate Athletic Association has added an extra game to the season. Weak teams like Buffalo are thereby in greater demand as sure things on the winners’ schedules. Buffalo will probably be humiliated on the field while its two new highly skilled opponents pocket easy victories in the competition for national ranking and bowl games, The Times’s Pete Thamel reports.

It’s a marketplace shift. Football is one of the few profitable college sports, and the 12th game will supply extra general revenue to university coffers. But that doesn’t stop college officials from offering excuses: Weaker teams will be honed, not pulverized, by overwhelming opponents. Some of the extra money pays for weight machines and training rooms to groom underachievers into college football mammoths.

In boxing, where euphemisms are scarce, “bum of the month” is the traditional term for booking weaker opponents to fatten a prospect’s record. But Buffalo’s team deserves no so such slight. We wish we could say the same for college football’s corporate masterminds.