“A big corporation”

2 March 2009 by

Finally, we near the publication and distribution of the first issue of the semester, The Terrapin Times VI.III.

Amongst other wonders, the forthcoming edition includes my “Dred Not: Redeeming Roger B. Taney,” the first installment in our new regular feature, The Maryland Room; a review of Janet Holl Madigan’s Truth, Politics, and Universal Human Rights; opinion pieces on the stimulus; and a piece on the current financial crisis, the Federal stimulus package, the Maryland state budget, and the University. From that piece, an absolutely terrifying thought from State Delegate Susan Aumann, R-42:

Aumann describes the University as “a big corporation” that will need to improve efficiency to keep costs down and that it “takes a situation like this for us to concentrate on the best practices.”

What incredibly — and, I’m sure, unwitting — honesty from a politician! The University is not a place of higher learning, where, when necessary, we make sacrifices to ensure that students exit College Park possessed of a well-rounded liberal education. It’s “a big corporation,” training the mindless for mind-numbing “careers.” I’m sorry, Cardinal Newman.


The Diamondback‘s Luridness Continues

12 February 2009 by

Yesterday, gay sex columnist Dan Savage presented a lecture in the Grand Ballroom at the Stamp Student Union here on campus. This is part of the Sex Education Week, or whatever we’re calling it here at UMD, leading up to Saint Valentine’s Day; stop by the food court and grab yourself a gift pack, complete with tuxedo condom to share with your special someone. (Your tax dollars at work, Marylanders!) We had intended to cover the event for the Times, but, forgivably, the staffers who had planned to attend, on account of time commitments and a sense of decency, could not make it.

Fortunately, our friends at the Diamondback made sure to highlight Mr. Savage’s tal on the front page. Doubtless, this event does deserve front-page coverage, and we likely should have done the same — though in a critical tone. No stranger to lasciviousness (Hell, I think this word is synonymous with “journalistic integrity” at that paper.), the Diamondback felt it appropriate to start the front-page article as follows. (Warning, mildly offensive language.)

Ever wondered what a cock ring does, how common armpit fetishes are or what to do if you are “afraid of dick?”

Really? These words are appropriate for the front page — or any page — of a daily newspaper, whether national broadsheet or campus publication? I respectfully dissent. Perhaps I’m just a prude.

This is not, of course, the Diamondback‘s first flirtation with puerile, ribald “provocativeness”.

“Soldier of Misfortune”

2 December 2008 by

From Tuesday’s Post:

[Iraq] was a war with its own original sin: the Bush administration’s failure to provide enough troops. To make up the shortfall, the government chose to outsource responsibility for deciding who can kill and die for the United States to for-profit companies that employed tens of thousands of soldiers-for-hire: mercenaries, or private security contractors, as they were known. The mercenaries developed their own language and subculture, and they fought their own secret battles under their own rules — “Big Boy Rules,” as they called their playbook, with more than a hint of condescension, to distinguish it from the constraints of the military’s formal code. They weren’t counted by our government, alive or dead.

Near the end of the excerpt, the author offers a bitingly poignant remark: “The official American death toll in Iraq that day was 4,047. The number did not change when Jon’s body was identified.”

The thought of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines dying in this war is harrowing enough; that we have suffered the consequences of this war’s “original sin”, as Steve Fainaru aptly dubs it, is, to me, insufferably tragic and inexcusable.


Black Friday!

28 November 2008 by

No. Buy Nothing Day.

The Female Orgasm and the Embarrassment that is the Diamondback

28 November 2008 by

On Monday, 25 November, our campus’s venerable Terps for Choice, adding to its support of mythology, most prominently displayed by their support for the claim that woman has the right to kill her own offspring, hosted its second-annual “Female Orgasm”, promulgating the risible notion that the female orgasm, well, even exists. (I jest! Ha!)

According to the article, “Students lined up two-and-a-half hours early to hear sex educators Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot teach men and women alike how to reach the perfect O . . . .” When was the last time students on the campus of this abysmal excuse for an institution of “higher education” waited patiently for one hundred and fifty minutes to listen to a speaker adjure them assiduously to study the works of Aristotle, Avicenna, or Bacon? Filled an auditorium to listen attentively to a lecture about More’s Utopia? Even knew who Alasdair MacIntyre is?

One, I suppose, cannot blame the student body alone — not when Where My Girls At?: A Comedic Look at Black Lesbians and a Provost’s Conversation called “Re-presenting Disability: Million Dollar Baby, Tropic Thunder and Anti-National Sexual Positions” the University’s idea of intellectual discourse —

This talk examines a few of the films that have sustained intense criticism from disability activists and theorists over the past few years. Reading these films within a queer theoretical perspective and through the cultural logic of neoliberalism, McRuer affirms and extends the immeasurable value of an increasingly global — and at times daringly anti-national — disability movement.

— comprise what passes for intellectual conversation here.

Perhaps most troubling, in this specific instance, though, is not the all too expected, systemic problem of the modern University gone astray, but, rather, the Diamondback’scoverage of the event (Be sure to read the comments posted in reply to the article; they only further support my claims about the general ignorance of students on this campus and that far too many young adults study at Universities, when they ought to be learning otherwise, thereby debasing the value of a Bachelor’s degree and denigrating the education, compromised to suit those less mentally capable, that worthier students receive. See Jeremy Beer’s review — PDF; sorry The American Conservative subscribers, only! — of Charles Murray’s Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing American Schools Back to Reality)

One line in particular stands out as the apotheosis of the death of modern journalistic respectability — to wit, the sign that the Diamondback has lost, or at least should lose, all credibility:

The male attendees seemed more intrigued. Sophomore aerospace engineering and finance major Justin Searles, who said he was one of the first in line for the event and had looked forward to event for three months, said the lecture was “awesome.”

I learned that I can make a girl ejaculate if she feels like she has to pee,” he said.

Yep, that’s our esteemed campus daily. I should not be such a prude were the alternative not so gruesome.

Vote out Edwards!

3 October 2008 by

Congress has sold us up the river.

Our dear Congresswoman Donna Edwards cast vote number two hundred, seventeen in support of the bailout. I exhort area voters to bail her out — of a job.

House Republicans show resolve, reveal they have a collective spine, say “F. you!” to President Bush

29 September 2008 by

At least for now.

For the first time in recent memory, I am less ashamed of my remaining a registered Republican. Suggests anything the complete impotence of a two-term president as clearly as his party’s two-to-one rejection of his “necessary” mega-policy? I think not.

Maybe I’m a terrible person for it, but I’m pretty excited to see that the Dow fell more than four hundred points after the House Republcans — and ninety-four courageous Democrats — stood up against corporate socialism.

(Cross-posted at Nathancontramundi.)

Yes, ma’am — er, sir. Or whichever it is.

10 September 2008 by

From the Washington Post:

A Montgomery County law banning discrimination against transgender people took effect yesterday, county attorneys said, after the state’s highest court rejected a petition effort that would have forced the issue to a referendum.

Had, here in tolerant Maryland, this been a cause célèbre opposed by left-wingers, I wonder if a referendum would have been issued.

A desperate (mis-)man(aged state): Maryland and Slots

10 September 2008 by

From the Tuesday, 9 September Washington Post:

First, Comptroller Peter Franchot, an ardent slots opponent, told the Committee for Montgomery yesterday that revenue projections his office will release today for the upcoming two fiscal years “will offer a sobering window into the condition of the Maryland economy.” He criticized the administration of fellow Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley for pushing a “record tax hike” last year and said slots will only worsen the state’s budget problems with increased crime, “traffic, corruption, addictions and bankruptcies.”


A state panel yesterday recommended that Maryland’s debt capacity edge up to allow more borrowing for roads, schools and other construction projects as tax collections are projected to drop this year.

[My emphasis. – NPO]

From our friends, on campus, at the Diamondback:

The university could face mid-year budget cuts because of the weakening economy, university President Dan Mote said.

The state Board of Revenue Estimates lowered its revenue projections for the current fiscal year by $432 million yesterday, creating a $195 million dollar gap between projected spending and revenue figures and prompting Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley to say in a news release the state would have to cut the budget by “hundreds of millions.”

The sharp drop in projected revenue is primarily because of a softening economy, which is causing the state to collect less from sales and income taxes.

What else do we learn from the Post?

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has seen a rebound in his job approval numbers while support for a key initiative of his, the legalization of slot-machine gambling, has slipped some, according to a new poll.

Forty-five percent of likely voters approve of the job O’Malley is doing, while 35 percent disapprove and 20 percent have no opinion in a poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing.

Those are much better numbers than March, when O’Malley seemed to still be suffering from a special session of the legislature last year in which taxes were raised by nearly $1.4 billion. O’Malley’s job approval rating has climbed by 8 percentage points since March, while the percentage who disapprove has fallen by 13 points. He has benefited from better ratings from fellow Democrats and from independents.

I can’t quite decide where to start muddling through all of this. The state is already under financial duress, with its flagship University expecting a substantial shortfall, and, yet, the following are so.

Read more.

Losing faith in Savior Sarah

6 September 2008 by

A tip of the hat goes to Larison for this.

What really distresses, but hardly surprises, me:

“A Greenie”: No. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR. [My emphasis. – NPO]

Mr Larison comments:

In this sense, she may very well be a “Sam’s Club Republican” in the narrowest sense of promoting the rise of box stores, but this is the same kind of “growth” agenda that the GOP has advanced for years and reflects the mentality of consumption and acquisition that Rod and Prof. Deneen have criticized so vocally.

I won’t lie: The “Sam’s Club” approach to the G.O.P., to some extent, appeals to me. This narrow sense, however, horrifies me.

Update: More from Larison, on Palin’s budget problems.

Cross-posted at Nathancontramundi