Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World

It sounds like the setup for a bad joke: What did the Wall Street type say to the college president on the golf course? Well, we don't know exactly—but it has launched a saga with weighty implications for American intellectual and civic life.
Here's what we do know: One day in the summer of 2010, Barry Mills, the president of Bowdoin College, a respected liberal-arts school in Brunswick, Maine, met investor and philanthropist Thomas Klingenstein for a round of golf about an hour north of campus. College presidents spend many of their waking hours talking to potential donors. In this case, the two men spoke about college life—especially "diversity"—and the conversation made such an impression on President Mills that he cited it weeks later in his convocation address to Bowdoin's freshman class. That's where the dispute begins.
In his address, President Mills described the golf outing and said he had been interrupted in the middle of a swing by a fellow golfer's announcement: "I would never support Bowdoin—you are a ridiculous liberal school that brings all the wrong students to campus for all the wrong reasons," said the other golfer, in Mr. Mills's telling. During Mr. Mills's next swing, he recalled, the man blasted Bowdoin's "misplaced and misguided diversity efforts." At the end of the round, the college president told the students, "I walked off the course in despair."
Word of the speech soon got to Mr. Klingenstein. Even though he hadn't been named in the Mills account, Mr. Klingenstein took to the pages of the Claremont Review of Books to call it nonsense: "He didn't like my views, so he turned me into a backswing interrupting, Bowdoin-hating boor who wants to return to the segregated days of Jim Crow."
Associated Press
The campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine
The real story, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, was that "I explained my disapproval of 'diversity' as it generally has been implemented on college campuses: too much celebration of racial and ethnic difference," coupled with "not enough celebration of our common American identity."
For this, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, Bowdoin's president insinuated that he was a racist. And President Mills did so, moreover, in an address that purported to stress the need for respecting the opinions of others across the political spectrum. "We are, in the main, a place of liberal political persuasion," he told the students, but "we must be willing to entertain diverse perspectives throughout our community. . . . Diversity of ideas at all levels of the college is crucial for our credibility and for our educational mission." Wrote Mr. Klingenstein: "Would it be uncharitable to suggest that, in a speech calling for more sensitivity to conservative views, he might have shown some?"
After the essay appeared, President Mills stood by his version of events. A few months later, Mr. Klingenstein decided to do something surprising: He commissioned researchers to examine Bowdoin's commitment to intellectual diversity, rigorous academics and civic identity. This week, some 18 months and hundreds of pages of documentation later, the project is complete. Its picture of Bowdoin isn't pretty.
Funded by Mr. Klingenstein, researchers from the National Association of Scholars studied speeches by Bowdoin presidents and deans, formal statements of the college's principles, official faculty reports and notes of faculty meetings, academic course lists and syllabi, books and articles by professors, the archive of the Bowdoin Orient newspaper and more. They analyzed the school's history back to its founding in 1794, focusing on the past 45 years—during which, they argue, Bowdoin's character changed dramatically for the worse.
Published Wednesday, the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.
The school's ideological pillars would likely be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to American higher education lately. There's the obsession with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history and markers of political identity. There's the dedication to "sustainability," or saving the planet from its imminent destruction by the forces of capitalism. And there are the paeans to "global citizenship," or loving all countries except one's own.
The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper's true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has "no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation." Even history majors aren't required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.
One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: "Affirmative Action and U.S. Society," "Fictions of Freedom," "Racism," "Queer Gardens" (which "examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces"), "Sexual Life of Colonialism" and "Modern Western Prostitutes."
Regarding Bowdoin professors, the report estimates that "four or five out of approximately 182 full-time faculty members might be described as politically conservative." In the 2012 election cycle, 100% of faculty donations went to President Obama. Not that any of this matters if you have ever asked around the faculty lounge.
"A political imbalance [among faculty] was no more significant than having an imbalance between Red Sox and Yankee fans," sniffed Henry C.W. Laurence, a Bowdoin professor of government, in 2004. He added that the suggestion that liberal professors cannot fairly reflect conservative views in classroom discussions is "intellectually bankrupt, professionally insulting and, fortunately, wildly inaccurate."
Perhaps so. But he'd have a stronger case if, for example, his colleague Marc Hetherington hadn't written the same year in Bowdoin's newspaper that liberal professors outnumber conservatives because conservatives don't "place the same emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge that liberals do."
In publishing these and other gems, Mr. Klingenstein and the National Association of Scholars hope to encourage alumni and trustees to push aggressively for reforms. They don't call for the kind of conservative affirmative action seen at the University of Colorado, which recently created a visiting professorship exclusively for right-wingers. Rather, Mr. Klingenstein and the NAS want schools nationwide to stop "silent discrimination against conservatives." Good luck.
In case you're wondering, Bowdoin's official statement on this week's report amounted to little more than a shrug. A serious response would begin with inviting Mr. Klingenstein to campus for a public debate with President Mills. No golf clubs allowed.
Mr. Feith is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.
A version of this article appeared April 6, 2013, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World.

Difficult memories resurface after Alford comments

By Pat Harty
Hawk Central
April 5, 2013

I was reluctant to write a column about former Iowa men’s basketball coach Steve Alford because it might be perceived as piling on.
Much has been written about Alford since he was hired this week as the new men’s basketball coach at UCLA, but it’s hardly been a celebratory tone.
It’s no secret to anyone that I’m not an Alford fan, and vice versa. My relationship with Alford became so strained that I stopped covering the Iowa men’s basketball team because of my lack of objectivity shortly after former standout player Pierre Pierce was accused of sexually assaulting a female student-athlete in September 2002.
I was no longer able to be a fair reporter and writer about Iowa men’s basketball because of an incident involving Pierce that hit too close to home.
My niece was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Iowa, who had met Pierce on campus completely by chance. He showed up in her dorm room one afternoon that same fall — unannounced and uninvited — closed the door and refused to leave. I hate to think what might have happened to this bright, beautiful girl had her screams not scared him away.
Now it was personal.
To stop my older brother, Frank Harty, from coming to Iowa City to confront Pierce himself, I told my family I would contact the athletic department on their behalf, to help them take action. Because of the recent sexual assault allegations made against Pierce, I assumed there would be heightened concern when I contacted the Iowa’s Sports Information Department to tell them what had happened to my niece.
I was told that my complaint would be addressed by the Iowa coaches.
In fact, the only correspondence I received was a letter written by then Assistant Coach Greg Lansing in support of Pierce. Lansing barely acknowledged that the incident I reported on behalf of my family may have occurred. But he mentioned in the letter that Pierce was a good kid.
My family and I were stunned and disappointed when nothing else happened. I couldn’t believe that my family’s complaint fell on deaf ears.
I couldn’t believe that Alford refused to acknowledge a disturbing pattern with one of his players.
I couldn’t believe that the Iowa coaches would ignore a complaint this serious.
It was then that I lost all respect for Alford as a person, as did my family.
My brother, Frank, played football at Iowa from 1978 to 1980 before a career-ending injury, and is proud to be a Hawkeye — at least most of the time. He was angry and hurt, to say the least, when his alma mater failed to take action in this case.
He still is today.
“I did not receive any assurance or even an acknowledgment,” my brother said Friday morning. “As a former Hawkeye, I felt a deep sense of disappointment and betrayal.
“Disappointment turned into disgust when I later learned that, despite this advance notice, that he (Pierce) was a predator. The basketball program attempted to portray Pierce as an innocent victim of circumstance.”
I would have told my family’s story a long time ago, but I was honoring my niece’s wishes that I not say anything. My family also could have applied more pressure to UI officials, but my niece requested at the time that we back off because she wanted to focus on being a college student. We honored her request, but the incident, and the way in which no one in the Iowa men’s basketball program seemed to care, was very discouraging.
I’m telling this story now because Alford’s character is being questioned in the wake of his hiring at UCLA, and because my niece has graduated from UI and moved on with her life. She now lives in Florida and is still proud to be a Hawkeye, though this incident has left a scar.
My brother called her Thursday night to tell her that we were going public with the story. My niece, according to my brother, still describes details of the incident as if it happened yesterday, not more than a decade ago.
It’s scary to think what could have happened if Pierce had not left my niece’s dorm room. Had she not started to scream. My niece says she thinks Pierce left because he heard the sound of voices in the hallway, people were close enough to overhear what was going on.
My niece wasn’t a victim, by law enforcement standards, because no assault occurred. But she was scared and confused. She had been a student at UI for just a few weeks when the incident occurred.
I remember thinking that it would only be a matter of time before Pierce struck again. That indeed turned out to be the case. He was accused of assaulting another female with a knife in 2005. He pleaded guilty to assault and served 11 months in prison before being released in September 2006.
Pierce was charged with third-degree sexual assault in the first case involving the UI female student-athlete. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, but was allowed to stay on the team under suspension and take a redshirt season.
Alford had no choice but to kick Pierce off the team after the second assault incident had occurred.
By then, though, the damage already was done. The lives of three young women never would be the same. Attendance at Iowa men’s basketball games dropped, but the team still finished with a 21-12 record.
And I had been exposed to the real Steve Alford. I didn’t like what I saw.
I saw a man who claimed to be a devout Christian yet ignored two young women in order to protect one of his best players — someone who didn’t deserve protection.
Alford actually did call me once — I believe it was in the spring of 2003 — but not to say he was sorry about what happened with my niece. He was upset because I had written a column critical of his leadership. He called me evil and referred to me as a Hawkeye hater.
I was reminded on Tuesday at his introductory press conference for the UCLA job that Alford never will change after he was asked if he thought legendary John Wooden would’ve handled the Pierce scandal differently.
Alford responded by saying that he simply did what he was told by the UI administration and lawyers.
Instead of expressing sympathy or admitting that, in hindsight, he could have handled the situation differently, Alford instead passed the blame.
A person’s character, or lack thereof, often is exposed in times of hardship and controversy.
Alford has done well for himself as a head coach. As a person, though, he leaves much to be desired.
Reach Pat Harty at or 339-7370.

Weather Women in Academia: Terror Teachers

Posted By Tina Trent On April 5, 2013 @ 9:30 am In Crime,US News | 16 Comments

In 1969, Weatherwomen Kathy Boudin and Eleanor Raskin collaborated on a book of legal advice for radical activists: The Bust Book: What To Do Till the Lawyer Comes [1]. The answer, per their actions, was different: don’t let the police catch you in the first place.
Not long after the book’s release, the two women went into hiding and participated in the Weather Underground’s most bloody affairs. This included the bomb-making escapade that ended in the deaths of three of their colleagues in Greenwich Village (but thankfully not the hundreds of murders they were plotting), and, for Boudin, the Brinks armored car heist in 1981 that took the lives of two police officers and a security guard.
Eleanor Raskin was not charged in the Brinks massacre. But in one of the many stories that former members of the Weather Underground prefer not to discuss, police captured Raskin and her husband Jeff Jones in New York City just three days after the attack. At the time, Raskin and Jones had been on the run for more than a decade. Coincidence? Not likely.
Fast-forward to today. These former Weather Underground terrorists now share another distinction: they are both professors at law schools in New York State.
Raskin teaches at Albany Law School. Boudin is closer to the scene of their crimes: she has just been appointed Sheinberg Scholar in Residence at NYU Law School. Along with Bernardine Dohrn at Northwestern University School of Law, Kathleen Cleaver at Emory Law School, and Angela Davis’ “prison-industrial complex” activism as professor emeritus at UC Santa Cruz, nearly all the currently free women of the terrorist Left have entered the academic legal profession.
Having an ex-Weatherwoman in the law faculty lounge is an exciting academic accessory; having a former Black Panther is even better, and both are appealing enough to forego the usual tedious vetting of credentials.
Boudin is not even a lawyer.
Kathleen Cleaver has no real academic credentials, only a scattering of outdated agitprop with titles such as “Mobilizing for Mumia Abu Jamal in Paris,” and “The Antidemocratic Power of Whiteness.”
Clearly: even the competent among these criminals were hired because they are unrepentant terrorists. This is the one credential that matters. The candidate must have held a gun to someone’s head in a bank “expropriation,” or firebombed a policeman’s car or a judge’s house; second, they must be unrepentant.
The career trajectories of former Weathermen track heavily on this second point: those who regret their violent pasts have not thrived in academia.
What’s the point of hiring a terrorist if they want to wash the greasepaint off? Mark Rudd learned this lesson in recent years: He made the mistake of sounding mildly regretful about setting bombs in the 2003 documentary film Weather Underground, and he has been backpedaling wildly ever since. The more he denounces his former denunciation of violence, the shinier his academic star glows.
“No Regrets for a Love of Explosives” is virtually a sacrament among the Left’s former terrorists, enshrined in Hollywood fables like Robert Redford’s current movie, The Company You Keep, and in movement memoirs that read like amateurish Philip Roth. This was the headline of an infamous New York Times profile of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn published on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. This brush with fate did not shame them or any of the other former Weathermen.
And why should it? Shame is out. Academia means never having to say you’re sorry — for trying to kill cops or bomb the Pentagon, that is (you do have to apologize for everything else).
Kathy Boudin’s academic specialty is “Prisoner Re-entry,” which is the practice of minimizing a criminal’s culpability for his crimes while maximizing society’s responsibility to the criminal. The re-entry movement transfers limited law enforcement dollars from crime prevention to social services for ex-cons. It is based on the philosophy that offenders are victims who need to be made whole by the society that has slighted them or failed to nurture them in some way.
It is easy to see how this would be appealing to terrorists who have never wavered in their belief that they are both heroes and victims of society.
When she entered prison in 1981 with the blood of three men on her hands, Kathy Boudin immediately joined other incarcerated radicals such as Susan Rosenberg, Marilyn Buck, Laura Whitehorn, and David Gilbert to agitate for an array of demands ranging from the release of so-called “political prisoners” (i.e., themselves) to higher education programs behind bars to be paid for by the taxpayers but administered by anti-incarceration activists teaching revolution to restive inmates.
In academic circles, such prison activism has come to be known as “rehabilitation.” It replaces ordinary definitions of the term. Likewise, on university campuses political activism is now known as “academic research,” and it replaces ordinary definitions of that term.
Columbia University — where Boudin holds yet another prestigious academic post — is turning over its campus this weekend to a “university-wide criminal justice initiative” to promote “alternatives to incarceration.” Kathy Boudin is the organizer; Angela Davis will be the keynote speaker.
Davis’ organization Critical Resistance advocates for the release of all people from prison. That is the only real “alternative” these radicals are seeking.
In 1969, Kathy Boudin and Eleanor Raskin wrote:
The cop and the judge wear different uniforms, but they both serve the same system we seek to destroy.
Raskin is a judge now, in addition to being a law professor, and Boudin has succeeded in her ambition to kill cops. The destruction of the rest of the system will be on full display at Columbia University this week.

Article printed from PJ Media:
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[1] The Bust Book: What To Do Till the Lawyer Comes

Friday, April 05, 2013

Tiptoeing on ever-thinner eggshells

Mark Steyn: Tiptoeing on ever-thinner eggshells

2013-04-05 12:04:27

He who controls the language shapes the debate: In the same week the Associated Press announced that it would no longer describe illegal immigrants as "illegal immigrants," the star columnist of The New York Times fretted that the Supreme Court seemed to have misplaced the style book on another fashionable minority. "I am worried," wrote Maureen Dowd, "about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don't even seem to realize that most Americans use the word 'gay' now instead of 'homosexual.'" She quoted her friend Max Mutchnick, creator of "Will & Grace":
"Scalia uses the word 'homosexual' the way George Wallace used the word 'Negro.' There's a tone to it. It's humiliating and hurtful. I don't think I'm being overly sensitive, merely vigilant."
For younger readers, George Wallace was a powerful segregationist Democrat. Whoa, don't be overly sensitive. There's no "tone" to my use of the word "Democrat"; I don't mean to be humiliating and hurtful: it's just what, in pre-sensitive times, we used to call a "fact." Likewise, I didn't detect any "tone" in the way Justice Antonin Scalia used the word "homosexual." He may have thought this was an appropriately neutral term, judiciously poised midway between "gay" and "Godless sodomite." Who knows? He's supposed to be a judge, and a certain inscrutability used to be part of what we regarded as a judicial temperament. By comparison, back in 1986, the year Scalia joined the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger declared "there is no such thing as a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy." I don't want to be overly sensitive, but I think even I, if I rewound the cassette often enough, might be able to detect a certain tone to that.

Nonetheless, Max Mutchnick's "vigilance" is a revealing glimpse of where we're headed. Canada, being far more enlightened than the hotbed of homophobes to its south, has had gay marriage coast to coast for a decade. Statistically speaking, one third of 1 percent of all Canadian nuptials are same-sex, and, of that nought-point-three-three, many this past decade have been American gays heading north for a marriage license that they're denied in their own country. So, gay marriage will provide an important legal recognition for an extremely small number of persons who do not currently enjoy it. But, putting aside arguments over the nature of marital union, the legalization of gay marriage will empower a lot more "vigilance" from all the right-thinking people over everybody else.
Mr. Mutchnick's comparison of the word "homosexual" with "Negro" gives the game away: Just as everything any conservative says about anything is racist, so, now, it will also be homophobic. It will not be enough to be clinically neutral ("homosexual") on the subject – or tolerant, bored, mildly amused, utterly indifferent. The other day, Jeremy Irons found himself musing to a reporter on whether (if the issue is unequal legal treatment) a father should be allowed to marry his son for the purpose of avoiding inheritance taxes. The vigilance vigilantes swung into action:
"Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons has sparked outrage," reported The Independent in London, "by suggesting that same-sex marriage could lead to incest between fathers and sons."
Outrageous! That isn't exactly what he said, but, once sparked, the outrage inferno was soon blazing merrily:
"Jeremy Irons' Strange Anti-Gay rant," read the headline in Salon.
I wouldn't say he was ranting. He was languidly drawling, as is his snooty Brit wont, and fighting vainly the old ennui, as if he would rather be doing anything than another tedious media interview. Indeed, he even took the precaution of averring that he didn't "have a strong feeling either way."
You sick bigot theocrat hater! Not having a strong feeling is no longer permitted. The Diversity Celebrators have their exquisitely sensitive antennae attuned for anything less than enthusiastic approval. Very quickly, traditional religious teaching on homosexuality will be penned up within church sanctuaries, and "faith-based" ancillary institutions will be crowbarred into submission. What's that? I'm "scaremongering"? Well, it's now routine in Canada, where Catholic schools in Ontario are obligated by law to set up Gay-Straight Alliance groups, where a Knights of Columbus hall in British Columbia was forced to pay compensation for declining a lesbian wedding reception, and where the Rev. Stephen Boisson wrote to his local paper, objecting to various aspects of "the homosexual agenda" and was given a lifetime speech ban by the Alberta "Human Rights" Tribunal ordering him never to utter anything "disparaging" about homosexuals ever again, even in private. Although his conviction was eventually overturned by the Court of Queen's Bench after a mere seven-and-a-half years of costly legal battles, no Canadian newspaper would ever publish such a letter today. The words of Chief Justice Burger would now attract a hate-crime prosecution in Canada, as the Supreme Court in Ottawa confirmed only last month.
Of course, if you belong to certain approved identity groups, none of this will make any difference. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who famously observed that Africans of the ancient world had made more contributions to philosophy and mathematics than all "them Greek homos," need not zip his lips – any more than Dr. Bilal Philips, the Toronto Islamic scholar who argues that homosexuals should be put to death, need fear the attention of Canada's "human rights" commissions. But for the generality of the population this will be one more subject around which one has to tiptoe on ever-thinner eggshells.
I can see why gays might dislike Scalia's tone, or be hurt by Irons' "lack of strong feelings." But the alternative – that there is only one approved tone, that one must fake strong feelings – is creepy and totalitarian and deeply threatening to any healthy society. Irons is learning, as Carrie Prejean learned a while back, that "liberals" aren't interested in your opinion, or even your sincere support, but only that you understand that there's one single, acceptable answer. We don't teach kids to memorize historic dates or great poetry anymore, but we do insist they memorize correct attitudes and regurgitate them correctly when required to do so in public.
Speaking of actors from across the pond, I had the good fortune of meeting at the end of his life Hilton Edwards, the founder of Ireland's Gate Theatre. Hilton and the love of his life, Michael MacLiammóir, were for many years the most famously gay couple in Dublin. At MacLiammóir's funeral in 1978, the Taoiseach and half the Irish Cabinet attended, and at the end they went up to Edwards, shook hands and expressed their condolences – in other words, publicly acknowledging him as "the widow." This in a state where homosexuality was illegal, and where few people suggested that it should be otherwise. The Irish officials at the funeral treated MacLiammóir's relict humanely and decently, not because they had to but because they wished to. I miss that kind of civilized tolerance of the other, and I wish, a mere four decades on, the victors in the culture wars might consider extending it to the losers.
Instead, the relentless propagandizing grows ever more heavy-handed: The tolerance enforcers will not tolerate dissent; the diversity celebrators demand a ruthless homogeneity. Much of the progressive agenda – on marriage, immigration, and much else – involves not winning the argument but ruling any debate out of bounds. Perhaps, like Jeremy Irons, you don't have "strong feelings" on this or that, but, if you do, enjoy them while you can.
© Copyright 2013 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved. 

The Drug War on Boys


The Drug War on Boys

Beware of drug pushers in white coats.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that nearly one-fifth of high school-age boys have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Doctors eventually medicate two-thirds of them. The diagnoses represent a 41 percent increase over the last decade.
The primary gateway drug for teenagers isn’t marijuana or beer. It’s prescription medication. As the New York Timespiece breaking this story points out, feeding a child a daily diet of Ritalin increases the chances of dependency, anxiety, and psychosis. Sports once channeled the energy of testosterone-fueled teens. Now our overprotective culture complains of the dangers of sports as it fills children with chemicals.
“First, do no harm,” a med school lesson so basic that even high school dropouts know it, gets tossed down the memory whole by script-happy doctors. As any street pusher will tell you, it’s all about the Benjamins.
It’s easy to wage a war on drugs when the enemy combatants wear tie-dye and long hair, or gold chains, track suits, and beepers, or, in their current incarnation, saggy drawers and designer t-shirts. When the drug pusher dons a white coat, the lab garb provides a cloak of invisibility. Despite ubiquitous evidence of their malfeasance in overmedicated America, dope dispensing doctors remain largely immune from criticism. Indeed, the indecency resides in the suggestion that writing prescriptions can be habit forming, not in the writing of prescriptions that form habits.
The collective cognitive dissonance on drugs doesn’t withstand an honest look at the history of the science. In most instances, today’s dirty “street” drugs were introduced as yesterday’s clean cure-alls by pharmaceutical companies.
Bayer bequeathed both aspirin and heroin to the world. Marketed more than a century ago as “the sedative for coughs,” heroin witnessed unlicensed, unscrupulous open-air pharmacists infringe on the patent of their Bayer parent. One of the German pharmaceutical giant’s old advertisements shows a loving mom spoon feeding heroin to her daughter above the caption “the cough disappears.” It didn’t say what took its place.
Ecstasy, the dance-party drug also known under its alphabetized nom de narcotique “X,” “E,” or “MDMA,” first came into existence not at warehouse raves but in a Merck laboratory.
Sandoz Laboratories created LSD, which the company marketed under the name Delysid. As they withdrew from the hallucinogen market in the mid-1960s, a Harvard professor — not a cult crazy or a deranged hippie — emerged as acid’s pied-piper.
Before Tony Montana served as an evangelist for cocaine in Miami, Sigmund Freud did in Vienna. Freud used his considerable intellectual powers to write “a song of praise to this magical substance.” Therein he boasted that cocaine “wards off hunger, sleep, and fatigue and steels one to intellectual effort.” Moderate cocaine use, he maintained, neither proved “detrimental to the body” nor induced a “compulsive desire to use the stimulant further.” But Freud’s life contradicted his claims. He remained addicted to the drug, with disastrous and debilitating consequences, for more than a decade.
Cocaine is a helluva drug. So are Ritalin, Desoxyn, and Adderall — members of the methamphetamine family whose names have been changed for respectability purposes. Surely posterity will look upon our age’s penchant for dispensing Ritalin or OxyContin under medical auspices the way we look upon Bayer’s creation of heroin or Freud’s proselytizing for cocaine.
If a highbrain the likes of Sigmund Freud could so misconstrue the destructive power of narcotics, isn’t it possible that doctors with lesser intellects might also err in judgment today? Alas, their affliction isn’t a lack of intelligence but a surfeit of arrogance.
Boyhood isn’t a medical condition to be cured. The God-complex of doctors, on the other hand, could use an injection of humility. Physician, heal thyself.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Roger Ebert: 1942-2013


Roger Ebert dead at 70 after battle with cancer

Last Modified: Apr 4, 2013 06:40PM

Roger Ebert loved movies.
Except for those he hated.
For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers.
“No good film is too long,” he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. “No bad movie is short enough.”
Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago.
“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away,” said his wife, Chaz Ebert. “No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”
He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.
He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.
On Tuesday, Mr. Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December, and would be taking “a leave of presence.” In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.”
Always technically savvy — he was an early investor in Google — Ebert let the Internet be his voice. His had millions of fans, and he received a special achievement award as the 2010 “Person of the Year” from the Webby Awards, which noted that “his online journal has raised the bar for the level of poignancy, thoughtfulness and critique one can achieve on the Web.” His Twitter feeds had 827,000 followers.
Ebert was both widely popular and professionally respected. He not only won a Pulitzer Prize — the first film critic to do so — but his name was added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, among the movie stars he wrote about so well for so long. His reviews were syndicated in hundreds of newspapers worldwide.
The same year Ebert won the Pulitzer — 1975 — he also launched a new kind of television program: “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You” with Chicago Tribune movie critic Gene Siskel on WTTW-Channel 11. At first it ran monthly.
The combination worked. The trim, balding Siskel, perfectly balanced the bespectacled, portly Ebert. In 1978, the show, retitled “Sneak Previews,” moved to PBS for national distribution, and the duo was on their way to becoming a fixture in American culture.
“Tall and thin, short and fat. Laurel and Hardy,” Ebert once wrote. “We were parodied on ‘SNL’ and by Bob Hope and Danny Thomas and, the ultimate honor, in the pages of Mad magazine.”
His colleagues admired him as a workhorse. Ebert reviewed as many as 306 movies a year, after he grew ill scheduling his cancer surgeries around the release of important pictures. He eagerly contributed to other sections of the papers — interviews with and obituaries of movie stars, even political columns on issues he cared strongly about on the editorial pages.
In 1997, unsatisfied with spending his critical powers “locked in the present,” he began a running a feature revisiting classic movies and eventually published three books on “The Great Movies” (and two books on movies he hated). A second column, his “Movie Answer Man” allowed readers to learn about intriguing details of cinema that only a Roger Ebert knew or could ferret out.
That, too, became a book. Ebert wrote more books than any TV personality since Steve Allen — 17 in all. Not only collections of reviews, both good and bad, and critiques of great movies, but humorous film term glossaries and even a novel, “Behind the Phantom’s Mask,” that was serialized in theSun-Times. He even wrote a book about rice cookers, “The Pot and How to Use It,” despite the fact that he could no longer eat. In 2011 his autobiography, “Life Itself,” won rave reviews. “This is the best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written,” Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times. It is, fittingly enough, being made into a documentary, produced by his longtime friend, Martin Scorsese.
Roger Joseph Ebert was born in Urbana on June 18, 1942, the son of Walter and Annabel Ebert. His father was an electrician at the University of Illinois, his mother, a bookkeeper. It was a liberal household — Ebert remembers his parents praying for the success of Harry Truman in the election of 1948. As a child, he published a mimeographed neighborhood newspaper, and a stamp collectors’ newspaper in elementary school.
In high school, he was, as he later wrote, “demented in [his] zeal for school activities,” joining the swim team, acting in plays, founding the Science Fiction Club, co-hosting Urbana High School’s Saturday morning radio program, co-editing the newspaper, being elected senior class president.
He began his professional writing career at 15, as a sportswriter covering the high school beat for the News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana.
Ebert went on to the University of Illinois, where he published a weekly journal of politics and opinion as a freshman and served as editor of the Daily Illini his senior year. He graduated in 1964, and studied in South Africa on a Rotary Scholarship.
While still in Urbana, he began free-lancing for the Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News.
He was accepted at the University of Chicago, where he planned to earn his doctorate in English (an avid reader, Ebert later used literary authors to help explain films — for example, quoting e.e. cummings several times in his review of Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking “2001: A Space Odyssey.”)
But Ebert had also written to Herman Kogan, for whom he free-lanced at the Daily News, asking for a job, and ended up at the Sun-Times in September 1966, working part-time. The following April, he was asked to become the newspaper’s film critic when the previous critic, Eleanor Keen, retired.
“I didn’t know the job was open until the day I was given it,” Ebert later said. “I had no idea. Bob Zonka, the features editor, called me into the conference room and said, ‘We’re gonna make you the movie critic.’ It fell out of the sky.”
Ebert’s goal up to that point had been to be “a columnist like Royko,” but he accepted this new stroke of luck, which came at exactly the right time. Movie criticism had been a backwater of journalism, barely more than recounting the plots and stars of movies — the Tribune ran its reviews under a jokey generic byline, “Mae Tinee.” But American cinema was about to enter a period of unprecedented creativity, and criticism would follow along. Restrictive film standards were finally easing up, in part thanks to his efforts. When Ebert began reviewing movies, Chicago still had an official film board that often banned daring movies here — Lynn Redgrave’s “Georgy Girl” was kept off Chicago screens in 1966 — and Ebert immediately began lobbying for elimination of the censorship board.
He had a good eye. His Sept. 25, 1967, review of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde” called the movie “a milestone” and “a landmark.”
“Years from now it is quite possible that ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ will be seen as the definitive film of the 1960s,” he wrote, “showing with sadness, humor and unforgiving detail what one society had come to.”
It was. Though of course Ebert was not infallible — while giving Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate” four stars in the same year, he added that the movie’s “only flaw, I believe, is the introduction of limp, wordy Simon and Garfunkel songs.’’
Ebert plunged into what turned out to be a mini-golden age of Chicago journalism. He found himself befriended by Mike Royko — with whom he wrote an unproduced screenplay. He drank with Royko, and with Nelson Algren and Studs Terkel. He wrote a trashy Hollywood movie — “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’’ for Russ Meyer, having met the king of the buxom B-movie after writing an appreciation of his work.
In later years, Ebert was alternately sheepish and proud of the movie. It was the first “sexploitation” film by a major studio, 20th Century Fox, though Time magazine’s Richard Corliss did call it one of the 10 best films of the 1970s.
It was not Ebert’s only foray into film writing — he was also hired to write a movie for the Sex Pistols, the seminal British punk band in the late 1970s.
Eventually, Sun-Times editor James Hoge demanded that Ebert — who took a leave of absence when he went to Hollywood to write “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” — decide between making films and reviewing them. He chose newspapering, which increasingly became known because of his TV fame, which grew around his complex partnership with Gene Siskel on their show, “Sneak Previews,” which began in 1975.
“At first the relationship on TV was edgy and uncomfortable,” Ebert wrote in 1999, after Siskel’s untimely death, at 53. “Our newspaper rivalry was always in the air between us. Gene liked to tell about the time he was taking a nap under a conference table at the television station, overheard a telephone conversation I was having with an editor, and scooped me on the story.”
In 1981, the program was renamed “At the Movies” and moved to Tribune Broadcasting. In 1986, it became “Siskel & Ebert & The Movies” and moved to Buena Vista Television, and the duo began the signature “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system that Ebert invented.
“When we left to go with Disney . . . we had to change some things because we were afraid of [violating] intellectual property rights,’’ he said. “And I came up with the idea of giving thumbs up and thumbs down. And the reason that Siskel and I were able to trademark that is that the phrase ‘two thumbs up’ in connection with movies had never been used. And in fact, the phrase ‘two thumbs up’ was not in the vernacular. And now, of course, it’s part of the language.”
“Two thumbs up” became their registered trademark and a highly coveted endorsement that inevitably ran at the top of movie advertisements.
Ebert’s cancer forced him off the air in 2006. After auditioning a number of temporary co-hosts, Ebert settled on Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper in 2000. At its height, “Ebert & Roeper,” was seen on 200 stations.
All that need be mentioned of Ebert’s social life was that in the early 1980s he briefly went out with the hostess of a modest local TV show called “AM Chicago.” Taking her to the Hamburger Hamlet for dinner, Ebert suggested that she syndicate her show, using his success with Siskel as an example of the kind of riches that awaited. While she didn’t return his romantic interest, Oprah Winfrey did follow his business advice.
In his memoir, Ebert writes of a controlling, alcoholic, faith-obsessed mother whom he was frightened of displeasing. “I would never marry before my mother died,” he wrote. She died in 1987, and in 1992 he got married, for the first time, at age 50, to attorney Chaz Hammel-Smith (later Chaz Hammelsmith), who was the great romance of his life and his rock in sickness, instrumental in helping Ebert continue his workload as his health declined.
“She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she is the love of my life, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone,” he wrote.
In addition to his TV and newspaper work, Ebert was a fixture at film festivals around the world — Toronto, Cannes, Telluride — and even created a festival of his own, The Overlooked Film Festival, or just “Ebertfest,” which he began in Champaign in 1999 and dedicated to highlighting neglected classics.
Between 1970 and 2010, Ebert made yearly visits to the University of Colorado’s springtime Conference on World Affairs, where he has presented frame-by-frame critiques of classic movies to enraptured audiences.
He had also used the conference to speak on a variety of subjects, from his romantic life to his recovery from alcoholism — he stopped drinking in 1979 — to the problem of spam email. In 1996 Ebert coined the “Boulder Pledge,” considered a cornerstone in the battle against spam.
“Under no circumstances will I ever purchase anything offered to me as the result of an unsolicited e-mail message,” Ebert wrote. “Nor will I forward chain letters, petitions, mass mailings, or virus warnings to large numbers of others. This is my contribution to the survival of the online community.”
Not only was Ebert eager to correspond with and encourage skilled movie bloggers, but he also put his money where his mouth was, investing early in the Google search engine and making several million dollars doing so.
Ebert received honorary degrees from the American Film Institute, the University of Colorado and the School of the Art Institute. He is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and was honored with a sidewalk medallion under the Chicago Theatre marquee.
He first had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid in 2002, and three subsequent surgeries on his salivary gland, all the while refusing to cut back on his TV show or his lifelong pride and joy, his job at the Sun-Times.
“My newspaper job,” he said in 2005, “is my identity.”
But as always with Roger Ebert, that was being too modest. He was a renaissance man whose genius was based on film but by no means limited to it, a great soul who had extraordinary impact on his profession and the world around him.
“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoir, “Life Itself.” “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Survivors, in addition to his wife, include stepchildren Sonia and Jay, and grandchildren Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph.

Copyright © 2013 — Sun-Times Media, LLC

Wake him when the Steve Alford era is over,1,5946278.column

There's little to get excited about as UCLA introduces its new basketball coach.

T.J. Simers
8:37 PM PDT, April 2, 2013


I saw the guy working on TV, his team surprising folks in the NCAA tournament, but honestly I don't even know his first name now that he has become USC's basketball coach.
But he has to be more interesting and exciting than the dolt introduced as UCLA basketball coach Tuesday.
It's pretty well understood that whoever coaches UCLA basketball is a dead man walking, it being only a matter of time before the alumni agree he'll never be another John Wooden.
But this might be the first time UCLA actually hired a dead man.
Yeesh, the John Wooden statue outside of Pauley had more life to it than Steve Alford, the robot who sputtered nonstop platitudes while never once answering a question directly.
He wouldn't even say if Bob Knight had called him since he was named UCLA's coach.
When he was asked about his role in defending an Iowa player from sexual assault charges and allegedly bullying the victim into not pursuing the case, he blamed school administrators for his behavior.
The player later pleaded guilty to intent to commit sexual assault on another victim and served time. Protesters expressed their disapproval at Iowa's basketball games, but on the bright side they had to buy tickets to attend the games. And that's very important to UCLA.
Obviously there hasn't been anything in town much more irrelevant than USC basketball, but that was before talk of dunk city, a wife who's a model and fun.
Never heard fun mentioned once at UCLA's somber get-together.
Who is the better risk? The guy from Florida Something Or Other who got everyone in the country excited with two tournament wins? Or the guy who has taken his team to the NIT six of the last 12 years, going 4-6, while compiling a 5-7 mark in the NCAA tournament?
Maybe that explains the lack of energy at UCLA's introductory affair with Alford. These things are supposed to be more pep rallies than news conferences with UCLA supporters, alumni, cheerleaders and mascot overwhelming the number of media in attendance.
But when it came time for Athletic Director Dan Guerrero to introduce the dolt, Alford got a standing ovation. From one guy.
Everyone else remained seated. And they were given no reason to come to their feet or break out in an eight-clap as UCLA's new basketball leader droned on and on about himself.
We know this much, he has a sizable ego in explaining how successful he has been, and yet he shouldn't even be mentioned in the same category as successful as Ben Howland has been.
When it came time to meet with the media in small groups, Alford took on all questions while looking at his feet. It was as if he had previously rehearsed this and was trying to recall what to say without making eye contact.
"Are you on automatic pilot?" I asked the robot.
"I just like looking around," he said.
That would explain how he ended up at UCLA a few days after agreeing to a 10-year contract extension at New Mexico and telling Lobos fans, "There is no other place I would rather coach than UNM, representing the best fans in the country."
Nice to see I'm in agreement with Alford, and UCLA doesn't have the best fans in the country.
When Ben Howland came to UCLA, he did so out of love for the school and Wooden. When he talked about "Coach," he oozed Wooden.
When Alford said, "Coach is always someone I could talk to," he was referring to Knight.
Knight never spoke very highly of Wooden and Wooden once said, "I wouldn't want anybody I love to play for Bob Knight."
But now UCLA has hired a Knight disciple to lead its basketball program, and I can only imagine how much Knight is smiling with delight.
And I'm surprised Bruins' fans have no problem with it.
At the very least if a UCLA coach lost to Harvard we would have been attending a news conference to announce his dismissal.
"Jim Harrick lost to Princeton, didn't he, and he won a national championship," Guerrero fired back.
"Harrick won a national championship, then lost to Princeton and that was the beginning of the end for him," I said.
"Oh," Guerrero said.
Alford, meanwhile, was talking like someone who has already enjoyed incredible success.
"We did things at New Mexico that had never been done before," Alford said.
"Like lose to Harvard," I said, and welcome to L.A.

Schools push a curriculum of propaganda

By , Published: April 3

The Washington Post

The real vocation of some people entrusted with delivering primary and secondary education is to validate this proposition: The three R’s — formerly reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic — now are racism, reproduction and recycling. Especially racism. Consider Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction. It evidently considers “instruction” synonymous with “propaganda,” which in the patois of progressivism is called “consciousness-raising.”
Wisconsin’s DPI, in collaboration with the Orwellian-named federal program VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America; the “volunteers” are paid), urged white students to wear white wristbands “as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.” A flyer that was on the DPI Web site and distributed at a DPI-VISTA training class urged whites to “put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege,” to “make a daily list of the ways privilege played out” and to conduct an “internal dialogue” asking questions such as “How do I make myself comfortable with privilege?” and “What am I doing today to undo my privilege?”
After criticism erupted, the DPI removed the flyer from its Web site and posted a dishonest statement claiming that the wristbands were a hoax perpetrated by conservatives. But, again, the flyer DPI posted explicitly advocated the wristbands. And Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded indoctrination continues, funded by more than Wisconsin taxpayers.
In Delavan-Darien High School’s “American Diversity” curriculum, students were urged to verify white privilege by visiting a Wal-Mart toy section and counting the white and black dolls. After objections, the school district is reconsidering this curriculum.
Such distractions from the study of calculus and literature are encouraged by CREATE Wisconsin (the acronym stands for Culturally Responsive Education for All: Training and Enhancement), which is funded with federal tax dollars from IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The disability being rectified here is, presumably, the handicap of insufficient guilt — arising from false consciousness — about white privilege.
Today, the school systems in 20 states employ more non-teachers than teachers. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice reports that between 1950 and 2009, while the number of K-12 students increased 96 percent, full-time-equivalent school employees increased 386 percent. The number of teachers increased 252 percent, but the number of bureaucrats — including consciousness-raising sensitivity enforcers and other non-teachers — increased 702 percent. The report says states could have saved more than $24 billion annually if non-teaching staff had grown only as fast as student enrollment. And Americans wonder why their generous K-12 financing (higher per pupil than all but three of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations) has done so little to improve reading, math and science scores.
Higher education, from which much of such diversity and sensitivity nonsense trickles down, cries poverty while spending lavishly on administrative overhead irrelevant to its teaching and research missions. The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald notes that in 2011, while the University of California at San Diego was pruning academic offerings, it created a “vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion” to augment a diversity apparatus that included an assistant vice chancellor for diversity; faculty advisers, staff, graduate and undergraduate diversity coordinators and liaisons; a director of development for diversity initiatives; the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues; the Diversity Council; the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion; and much more. Perhaps tens of millions could be diverted from progressive gestures to academic purposes by abolishing on every American campus every administrative position whose title contains the words “diversity,” “equity,” “race,” “ethnicity,” “sustainability,” “green,” “gender,” “inclusion,” “identity,” “interconnectivity,” “globalization,” “climate,” “campus climate,” “cross-cultural” or “multiculturalism.”
No corner of the country is immune to propaganda pretending to be pedagogy. Lincoln Brown of KVEL-AM in Vernal, Utah, says one student from the University of Utah showed him required reading that told students to “list ways your family may have colluded with or benefited from the exploitation of African-Americans.” Another reading was titled “White Privilege — Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”
Twenty-five years ago, President Reagan, paraphrasing Education Secretary William Bennett, said: “If you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever. But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you’re liable to be given more money to do it with.” But only until the soaring tuitions and taxes that fund this featherbedding for administrators of political correctness create a critical mass of parental and taxpayer disgust.

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Read more on this issue: George F. Will: Conformity for diversity’s sake Charles T. Clotfelter: The decline of diversity in our schools The Answer Sheet: Why we need to relentlessly pursue diversity in our schools