Dartmouth prof doesn’t hold back

Following the Isla Vista shooting this week, Jeff Sharlet, Dartmouth English prof (and author, Harper’s contributing editor, etc.) took to Twitter to discuss the tragic event. Like others, he linked Elliot Rodger’s shooting to the pervasive destructiveness of misogyny. Unlike others, he compared Rodger to sexual assailants at Dartmouth:

We followed up with Sharlet for further explanation of the tweet’s idea, and he went in on both Rodger and rapists.

Rape and murder are different crimes, of course, but rape and Rodger’s decision to kill women seem to me likely rooted in the same pervasive misogyny, a sense of some or all women as less than human. I’m distressed by those who’d dismiss Rodger as nothing but a monstrous outlier. The logic of hate he took to its most extreme end is the same of that of the rapist, and, yes, of that of those who apologize for rapists. 

Dartmouth’s attempts to change their culture appear to be working, at least for the professors.

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Columbia President Bollinger and 200+ Columbia Faculty Members Support Occupy Wall Street

Last week, Princeton professor Cornel West and Columbia professor/Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz made low-key visits downtown to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. Few paid attention, if not other than to smile sadly at the old, bearded academics’ futile support of the young, bearded protesters.

However, today the movement received a tremendous dose of support from a high-profile, decidedly non-bearded source: Columbia President and Chair of the New York Federal Reserve Lee Bollinger himself (pictured right). In an interview with the Spectator, Bollinger (who, with his annual salary of $1.38 million, is definitely a one-percenter) declared his solidarity with the protesters, explaining that he too marched down to Wall St. to protest — in the year 1968, when he was a Columbia Law student. Quoth the PrezBo:

“In both [protests], very, very serious things happened. The political systems seemed unable to cope with those problems, and civil demonstrations are perfectly legitimate, reasonable, and at times highly effective ways to change that… My own view is that Wall Street bears a very significant share of the responsibility for the failures of these systems and the resulting, negative effects on the entire society and beyond.”

If that weren’t enough, Columbia’s Bwog reports that 200+ update: at least 300 Columbia faculty members have signed a petition declaring their support for Occupy Wall St. Keep reading to view the full text of the petition and list of signatories. Read the rest of this entry »

Harvard Faculty Members Breaking Test Subjects’ Hips, Accepting Bribes (Kind Of)

The good folks at the Harvard Crimson have been on their game this month, publishing stories on consecutive days about the sketchy affairs of certain Harvard professors.

First up is the revelation that three Harvard psychiatrists were found to be in violation of conflict-of-interest rules by accepting money from drug companies. According to the Crimson, they

will be required to refrain from all paid industry-sponsored outside activities for one year and comply with a two-year monitoring period afterward, during which they must obtain approval from the Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital before engaging in any paid activities. They also face a “delay of consideration for promotion or advancement,”

In a letter to their colleagues, the professors also apologized … kind of:

We now recognize that we should have devoted more time and attention to the detailed requirement of these policies and to their underlying objectives.

Touching. Future students of these three profs, recite: “I realize I should have devoted more time and attention to the detailed requirements of your syllabus…”

Next up is the curious case of Douglas Kiel, a Harvard Medical School professor and gerontologist (old person specialist), whose research team failed to appropriately disclose the risks of a padded underwear test to the subjects of said test. The underwear was developed and padded to protect elderly patients from hip fractures. To test its efficacy, Kiel’s team dressed subjects up in underwear that was padded on one side and unpadded on the other (they call that a control sample in third-grade science fairs.) These wacky panties apparently caused subjects to fall with increasing regularity, a fact known and discussed by Kiel’s team for years, but not revealed to the subjects.

One of Kiel’s team told the Boston Globe that the pads probably weren’t the reason for the increased falls because they “weigh less than the average man’s wallet.” Wait — average average man, or average Harvard man?

These incidents come less than a year after Marc Hauser, a Harvard psychology professor, was found “solely responsible” for eight instances of scientific misconduct. Hauser took the 2010-2011 year off, but will return to Harvard in a research (not teaching) role. No joke: Hauser researches, among other things, moral judgment in adults, according to The Crimson.

Of course, we all remember the original hoodlum on the Harvard faculty: Henry Louis Gates Jr., the dude who had the audacity to break into his own home, and wound up getting arrested, then flown to Washington, D.C., for a “beer summit” with President Obama and the guy who arrested him. Yes, those things all happened.

Now Harvard Students Can Discover How Much Their Profs Actually Hate Them

As if applications for jobs, internships, and grad schools weren’t already enough to spike the incidence alcoholism in the Ivy League, Harvard students rested even more uneasily a couple months ago when a mistake made their recommendation letters viewable not only to themselves, but to everybody and their mother with an account with Harvard’s Office of Career Services.

Obviously the first image that comes to mind is that of rabid prospective i-bankers frothing at the mouth while comparing their recommendations to those of others from the same professor. Seems like Harvard professors thought the same thing as they drafted a memo, reported by the Crimson:

[This loophole] introduces awkwardness into the relationship, particularly if the recommendation was not in line with student expectations.

In other words, they’re worried about being bludgeoned to death by angry Goldman Sachs rejects wielding finance textbooks. In order to save themselves from this fate, the professors asked that the names of students who accessed other recommendations should be disclosed. That way they can, at all costs, avoid them like the plague.

Still,  one question that doesn’t seem adequately addressed: Why wasn’t this problem reported earlier, since apparently it dates back to autumn?

Since last fall, notification emails were sent to faculty members—with students copied on the message—when they uploaded recommendation letters. Those emails included a link at the bottom of the email that allowed students to view their letters of recommendation.

Harvard’s brilliant solution to this problem — when they found out about it in MID-JANUARY — was to stop sending the emails. Which didn’t solve the problem at all; the previous emails were still in students’ inboxes and they could still click on the links therein. Issues like this wouldn’t occur if Harvard returned to its old standard recommendation system — students’ dads recommending their kids to their friends.

Professors actually are human

It’s 3 a.m. You’ve fallen asleep in the library, and drool is gluing your face to your professor’s 600-plus page book that he wrote ages ago. Why would someone so smart commit their life to writing such a comfy pillow? Also, were their lives ever this sad?   

There is hope: Professors remember when they were in high school!  

Take Professor Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia. When he is not starring on the History Channel, flying back and forth to promote his new book (The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery), or sparring with Stephen Colbert, Foner takes the time to tell his class little tidbits about himself, in a non-circle-jerk kinda way. For example, evil-baby Karl Rove loves Foner’s Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War so much that he forced his Ivy League lackeys White House interns to get Foner to sign the book for our apparent “greatest political mind of this generation.”

Yesterday, in his “Civil War and Reconstruction” lecture at Columbia, Foner took a rare leap for those in academia – talking about his adolescence. Why did Foner decide to be the leading historian of Reconstruction, a field about which under 20% of high school seniors can say a coherent sentence? So he could take pictures with Lincoln impersonators???

No, his teacher and peers rejected him back in high school.

In the 10th grade, Foner had a teacher fondly known as “Big Bertha.” This teacher believed that the Enforcement Act of 1870, which attempted to ensure that the right to vote of African Americans under the Fourteenth Amendment was protected, was one of the worst laws in mankind’s history. Little Eric disagreed, and the teacher presented him with a challenge – present his argument to the class the next day. Little Eric, with the help of historian father, adorably prepared his presentation using Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction in America. After his presentation, Big Bertha decided she needed to prevent feisty youngins from turning her classroom into Harpers Ferry. The solution: Bertha forced the students to vote for which presentation was the best – the teacher’s or Foner’s. Sadly, Big Bertha won. However, little Eric was not all alone; he gained one valuable vote – his best friend’s.

In 1988, Foner released his magnum opus, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, which is still the last substantive word on Reconstruction ‘til present. We guess little Eric showed that Ms. Big Bertha. However, she could be the one person out there who agrees with Howrowitz and Pipes in thinking Foner is hell-bent on destroying America. Oh well, revenge is always an irrepressible conflict.

At Best they have Tenure

Even though Obama is no longer holding beer summits for a certain Ivy League professor, the Ivy League is brimming with professors who need to start saying, “Do what I say, and not what I do” in lecture once school convenes.  

This past August:  a Columbia grad is kicked out of Starbucks, a Harvard researcher is guilty of scientific misconduct, and an anniversary of a Cambridge-Harvard murder is upon us. 

 Screwed up academic calenders = professors require the month of August off in order order to get rid of the crazies come fall.

Exhibit A: Lynne Rosenthal an English professor at Mercy College, who claims to have received her PhD from Columbia, is not letting Starbucks grind her into submission with their fascist terms.

According to the Huffington Post, Rosenthal, a woman well into her 60s, was thrown out of a mid-town New York Starbucks for attempting to order a plain bagel.  Apparently, the “Barista” asked the professor, “Do you want butter of  or cheese?” Rosenthal refused to accept the premise of this silly question and thus became combative. After the use of some profanity, the police escorted Rosenthal out of the coffee chain. Apparently, she thought saying a “plain” bagel would do.

According to Rosenthal, Starbucks is the new master of newspeak. The professor told DNAinfo that Starbucks’ terminology is “Orwellian.” As evidence she referenced the terms: tall, grande, and venti.

 One can only hope that Rosenthal was planning this insurrection thirty years ago while watching CUMB avoid the very thing fascists love – marching, and now more recently Starbucks.

However, is Starbucks to blame for Rosenthal’s behavior or simply is she just ornery? According to ratemyproffesors.com, Rosenthal is condescending and rude to her students.  In addition, her overall rating is grand 1.2.  Maybe now her students can join with Starbucks to create an AstroTurf movement to overthrow this “worst teacher ever.”

Another whammy this August is news that Harvard “star” researcher Mark Hauser might have fabricated some data in a 2002 paper. 

 Dr. Hauser is a prominent expert in the comparison between animal and human mental processes. According to the New York Times, Dr. Hauser has been found guilty of eight counts of scientific misconduct.  Most of Hauser’s erroneous details were published in the scientific journal Cognition. According to the editor of Cognition, Hauser’s main error was fabricating the control condition of his experiment. Dr. Hauser in public statements has stated that he is “deeply sorry,” but has not admitted to any scientific misconduct.

Tsk, tsk, tsk… to all those 12 year-old kids out there who are fudging details and randomly creating data for their school’s science fair: be proud, an Ivy League professor holds himself to the same standards as you!

If you think these two examples are bad, just be lucky you did not go to Harvard in the mid-19th century. 

We all know that Harvard is no stranger to murder, but apparently Cambridge and Harvard were center-stage to the “O.J” trial of the 19th century.

 According to PBS, one hundred and sixty years ago to this day, Harvard chemistry professor Dr. John Webster was executed for the murder of Dr. George Parkman, an offshoot of a wealthy Boston family. What was the reason for MURDER? –  A state of being familiar to many of us in the 21st century – debt.  Apparently, Webster and his wife liked to hob-nob with the Cambridge elite and were using loaned money to live outside their means. One of the people Webster was indebted to was Parkman.  On the day of his death, Parkman confronted Webster after many days of hounding the professor for repayment. 

 I guess this negotiation did not end amicably. 

After Cambridge searched for about a week for Parkman’s missing body, a janitor discovered dismembered limbs of Parkman hidden in Webster’s laboratory at the Medical College. 

Keep this in mind the next time your Chem lab smells funky…

The next time your professor snarls at you for dozing off during class or smacking too loudly on your contraband food, just simply ask them… what were you doing last summer?

Princeton – Meet Ke$ha

Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer-prize winning poet, and, more importantly, a tenured Princetonian, has some things to clear up about Ke$ha. For us lacking the cerebral wherewithal to grasp what Ke$ha, moneymaker and spiritual guru, is really preaching, realize not only is she alluding to Shakespearean motifs, but also elucidating, for local American xenophobes, the threat of men touching her Chinese watercrafts. As Muldoon puts it:

Tik Tok…I mean that’s time. Time. Uhm. And time of course is one of the big subjects [in poetry]. She’s got it covered.

Brilliant. Ke$ha, the next Robert Frost. There should be no more confusion: her grungy simpleton pop is, in fact, obvious poetry in motion.

Brother West: Being Dissed Out Loud

cornel-tiledScott McLemee has some harsh words for Princeton’s Cornel West. In reviewing West’s new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, McLemee dissects West as a celebrity academic whose emphasis has long since shifted to the “celebrity” and not the “academic”.

McLemee dredges up all the lowlights of West’s recent career—(the spoken-word album, the Matrix cameos—almost unsportsmanlike, by the second paragraph

West described his projects as “bold,” “challenging” and “exciting.” These are adjectives, it must be said, better left in someone else’s hands…

Cornel West’s work was once bold, challenging, exciting. The past tense here is unavoidable.

West’s memoir sound like a bizarre piece of work, for sure. McLemee looks at one section on marriage terrifying to any and all students with crushes on Prof. West:

I will not let life or death stand in the way of this sublime and funky love that I crave!

One of the critic’s main grievances with the work itself: West’s choice to work with a coauthor in crafting what West calls a “‘conversational’ voice.” (Oh snap!) McLemee devotes an entire paragraph of his review to a strangely drawn-out comparison of West to David Hume, who “published numerous very popular essays with the help of a writer from Entertainment Weekly.”

After the jump, deep analysis and videos of insane professors.

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Harvard Undergrad Discovers Grade Inflation, Nobody’s Impressed

snooze harvardTurns out all that tuition money Harvard kids shell out is for naught after all. Christian Flow, Harvard ’10, recently wrote an article for Harvard Magazine on the university’s apparent lackadaisical attitude at giving students an actual education. Based on a personal episode of academic buffoonery involving a flight back home to write a term paper in 24 hours, Flow highlights how professors at the number four douchiest college in America do everything but put their students in the time-out zone and put a hilariously inappropriate amount of effort in squeezing quality work out of their pupils.

In three years at college, I had never been slapped around like this. This was the kind of thing that happened in high school when you didn’t do your reading. Who knew that tenured professors had the time or the temperament for this species of intervention?

Expectedly, all the blame can be dumped on the Harvard Management Company. And as the college devises ways to prevent further whiny and self-entitled protests on student-life related budget cuts, it plans to reduce the number of teaching fellows hired this year, slash small seminars in favor of giant lectures, as well as phase out general examinations for certain honors concentrations.

After the jump, it turns out Ivy League professors don’t actually give a shit how you do in their class. But various forms of B usually cut down on office hour interaction.

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Catching Up With Old Friends: Mustard Guy Is Still Embarrassing Cornell

w_jacobson_story1Remember wingnut and condiment expert William Jacobson? Back in May, he wrote a post on his blog attacking President Obama for asking for “a spicy…or Dijon mustard” on his hamburger. This Harvard-educated lawyer accused Obama of elitism–because nothing’s more elitist than inquiring about a product produced by Kraft. Jacobson’s post sparked laughter in the entire political blogosphere, causing him to link to all the people laughing at him, resulting in more laughing and more linking until the entire internet imploded. The end.

Oh, and he’s got a faculty job at Cornell.

Since “Colonel Mustard” first earned his nickname, he has continued to write more wacky posts about how Sotomayor is racist, Hillary is disappearedWonkette is Trig’s real mother, and so on. But it is Jacobson’s post from last Friday that really demonstrates the peak insane form he showed in early May. It is titled “If Palin Were President Now” and it is every bit as magical as you would expect.

By speculating what would happen if Alaska’s Point Guard were the current Commander in Chief, Jacobson is operating under the assumption that John McCain won in November and died soon after. Of course John McCain is still alive in real life, meaning Sarah Palin would still be VP and have all the time she wants to shop in Georgetown. I don’t know why Jacobson thinks McCain would have died in the past eight months. Maybe he’s confusing him with Ed McMahon.

Because this is just speculation, Jacobson can write whatever he wants without any sort of proof or justification or logic. He can say that in her first six months as President, Sarah Palin would have fixed the economy, reduced the national deficit, sent Optimus Prime to kill Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and won the Boston Marathon–even if all of it only could have happened in Jacobson’s recurring wet dream. And when people take him to task, he doesn’t have to explain himself. After all, it’s just speculation. Just like when TMZ claims Diana Ross is the father of Michael Jackson’s kids.

William Jacobson, if you are reading this, please realize how much embarrassment you are bringing to the university that employs you. Not because of your political beliefs, but because of your failure at simple reasoning. You say that if Sarah Palin were President now, the country would be in much better shape. That is simply untrue. You failed to realize that Sarah Palin would never be President now, because she would have quit last week.