The Academic Senate of Upstate Consolation University has recently passed several new and exciting policies that will go into effect at the beginning of the fall semester. Among these dynamic and progressive measures are a ban on friendship and a plan to make the campus library entirely bookless. Minky Winceapple, formerly Chair of the Studies Studies Program, now serving as Under-Dean for Oversight of Policy Sensitivity, explains that the new regulations “are based off of grounded theory so as – intersectionally, of course – to promote the cross movement mobilization of marginalized people who have been disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression.” Winceapple continues, “These policies will raise awareness by subverting structures of privilege through an extra-categorical strategy derived from critical thinking – such as the type of thinking I am using right now.” Measly Prudence, formerly Lead Vice-Coordinator of the Office of Dining Relations, now serving as Associate Provost for the Task Force on Inter-Varsity Diversity, seconded Winceapple’s enthusiasm: “We are implementing practices,” he said, “that will recognize and honor our multiple identities, co-facilitate an interconnective learning experience, and enable us to visualize how better to ventilate the bathrooms in the administration building – perhaps with the type of ventilation I am using right now.”
The Catholic, Christian and Traditionalist community were shocked and appalled to learn last week that their pillar, blogger Zippy Catholic, had been killed in a bicycle accident last Tuesday evening while riding on a country road.
We are still struggling to reconcile ourselves to this new world, in which Zippy no longer roams about skewering sloppy thought, and so enlightening all of us his readers, interlocutors and students.
It was a severe and devastating blow, completely unanticipated. Zippy was neither old, nor – so far as we knew – ill. So his death came out of left field. No one was prepared for it. He had, we all thought, several decades more of good, fruitful work in him, that all of us would have enjoyed, and that would have profited us all, and man, and the whole human project. We looked forward to that prospect, blithely, happily, as if we possessed it already. Now, it is ripped away from us. We find ourselves bereft, lost, bewildered.
And: we miss him. We want him here with us, still. God damn the evil circumstance that took him from us. And – and – God bless that taking, as proper (as it must have been, necessarily) under the purveyance of Omniscience.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Amen. Lord, bless and keep thy faithful servant Zippy Catholic, and make him soon fit to enter into the coruscating Light of thy Holy Presence. Help and heal all his wounds, correct all his defects, and complete him. All this I pray, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen, amen. Hallelujah, hallelujah, thanks be to God. Amen, amen.
The following sentence comes from Maureen Callahan’s New York Post article “Elon Musk is a Total Fraud,” dated July 21, 2018:
In March, a Tesla driver was killed while test-driving an auto-piloted Model X, the impact fully decimating half the car.
Let us ignore the passive-evasive “was killed” and let us not speculate why an “auto-piloted” sedan requires a test-driver. That way the concluding phrase might take center stage in the completeness, so to speak, of its grammatical absurdity: “The impact fully decimating half the car.”
The verb to decimate comes from Roman military practice. When a legion subdued its enemy, its commanders sometimes ordered the execution of every tenth prisoner before sending the survivors off to slavery. To decimate means to reduce by one tenth. It can also sometimes mean to reduce to one tenth, but that is an inadvisable because confusing usage. Decimation could also be punitive; a legion that fled from battle or otherwise humiliated itself in combat might suffer the decimation of its ranks as chastisement. No matter: The object of any act of decimation is a group of people. One person cannot suffer decimation, nor can half a person, nor can anything that is not a group of people.
An automobile, then, cannot suffer decimation. Still less can half an automobile suffer decimation, even if it were a Tesla. Decimation, moreover, has no degrees. The phrase full decimation would therefore be a pleonasm, and not the good kind. General Maximus either decimates the captured Thracian army or he offers his lenience. The Thracians would prefer, of course, that he offer his lenience.
It is probable that Callahan, like many people, regards decimation as an exotic synonym for destruction although, in its precision, it is not. To destroy, equally with to decimate, possesses a Latin origin but it has so thoroughly assimilated itself to English as to appear, basely, Anglo-Saxon. To decimate, by contrast, retains its slightly foreign, slightly antique, slightly graduate-schoolish aura of sophistication. Even supposing that Callahan seizes on decimation because she thinks it a synonym of destruction, however, and even supposing that she wants to seem educated in her vocabulary, the problem of the fully destroyed half a car remains to be solved. Notice that the test-collision to which Callahan refers in her article implicitly left half of that same Tesla, as she might write, fully intact – or rather, intact, omitting any qualification as to degree. For intactness has no more degrees than decimation. One wonders how many degrees Callahan boasts. She should ask for a partial refund on at least half of fully one of them.
Baakko N’Telle, Upstate Consolation University’s Ngombian-born Special Assistant Dean for Sensitivity Issues, has introduced a plan to equip all classrooms with “sensitivity airbags.” According to N’Telle, although UCU’s classrooms have been “smart” for almost a decade (according to an in-house survey, they are the “smartest” classrooms by far in the state system) they have not been “sensitivity smart.” Should N’Telle get his way, as it appears he will, this is about to change. What is a “sensitivity smart” classroom? The dean describes it this way: “A ‘sensitivity smart’ classroom is a digitally ‘woke’ classroom. Tiny ‘open microphones’ and video cameras installed all around the classroom or lecture hall are connected to a voice-and-body-language-recognition computer. The computer’s algorithms, which have been offered gratis to UCU by a Silicon Valley software firm eager to gather data from a field evaluation, can detect microaggressions, hate-speech, male toxicity, white privilege, cultural appropriation, lacrosse-affinity, the Pro-Trump mentality, and all skeptical attitudes towards transgenderism and intersectionality. The voice-and-body-language-recognition computer interfaces with a router that communicates with ‘sensitivity airbag’ canisters attached to the backs of the seats in the classroom or lecture-hall space. At any time during the lecture-period, should anyone say or do anything that triggers the algorithm, the computer will tell the router to actuate the airbags, which work as they do in an automobile.” The system qualifies as sustainable and eco-friendly, its computer, dubbed the M5 by the manufacturer, being powered by rechargeable dimbranium-chloride batteries. Dimbranium refers to a rare metallic element of the Woketinide series found mainly in Ngombia, in neighboring West Mumbambu – where N’Telle incidentally received his education degree – and in the bedrock deep under offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles in coastal North American Cities.
I merely borrow my headline, which is not original to me, from an article (here) at the Campus Reform website. I urge Orthosphereans to read the article. Meanwhile, so as to quell embarrassment, the CEO of the college has sent out this message:
I am writing to reinforce our deep and abiding commitment to free speech and open expression of ideas at SUNY Oswego. First Amendment rights are foundational to learning and critical thought. Be assured they are honored and respected here.
In the past few days, an interaction and email exchange between a student speaker at “Open Mic” on April 26, 2018 and a staff member has been reported on in Campus Reform (Campus Reform is a project of Leadership Institute. On its website, Leadership Institute says it teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media). Several other media outlets across the country have published the same account.
We have looked into this matter for several days now. We see that misunderstandings and miscommunications might have been avoided. And, while our staff member acknowledged the speaker’s free speech rights and did not literally issue a reprimand, sanction or prohibition, the words used were of a nature that likely led to misinterpretation. For that we sincerely apologize.
I met with the student and had a full discussion of the matter. I commended her on voicing her opinions and seriously explored her impressions of the campus, especially relative to safety. I was heartened to know she is proud she could speak out, feels safe, and has many friends and supporters at SUNY Oswego. She also expressed her love for SUNY Oswego.
But please know, we will not let our guard down; we will continue to encourage all members of our campus community to embrace diversity in all its forms — diversity of people, thought and expression. And, we will remain vigilant about safety, encouraging anyone who feels unsafe or threatened to let us know.
We will remain steadfast in educating all students, faculty and staff that while some ideas are different from and may even be anathema to what we think, it is important that we allow them to be expressed. If we take the opportunity to listen and civilly engage with each other, we might more easily build bridges across our divides, reflect more clearly on our own beliefs and hopefully, acquire greater knowledge. That is who we are at SUNY Oswego.
Yesterday around 10.15 in the morning, I entered the classroom where I teach to set up the audio-visual equipment so that I could screen a film for the students in my 10.20 class. Normally I would have been in the classroom about five minutes earlier, but the previous instructor appeared to be in conference with a student, so I politely delayed my appropriation of the premises. At 10.15, however, I judged that I ought to assert my presence. As I walked through the classroom door, I noticed that the other instructor, a young adjunct, was indeed in conversation, as it seemed, with a tall, male, Caucasian person with long dark hair, whose manner struck me as heated and over-animated in a peculiar and immediately disturbing way. That something odd was going on was instantly confirmed when the person, turning to face me, loudly and truculently demanded to know where I stood on school shootings and gun ownership. When I made it evident that I had no interest in discussing the issue with him, he demanded that I give him my email address so that he could “send me a message.”
I looked at “Bob,” the young instructor, shrugging my shoulders in a silent appeal whether he could explain who this agitated party might be. Bob replied in a quiet voice that he had no knowledge of the loudmouth’s identity. That voluble person was now verbally harassing those of my students who were seating themselves in expectation of the film – insisting loudly and aggressively that they should answer his bizarre and random inquisitions. Drawing me aside, Bob said to me swiftly and in a manner sotto voce that this person had inserted himself into the classroom uninvited early in the session, asking whether he could participate in a debate that Bob’s students were conducting and that he had overheard from outside.
Much of what follows is a literal transcription of a recent conversation with my four year old granddaughter.
Poppy walked out with his granddaughter and her little brother to play. There was a series of lawns, connected by grassy paths. On one lawn, his granddaughter spotted a tiny, perfectly camouflaged toad hiding in the sand. It was almost impossible to distinguish the toad from the surrounding sand.
She wanted to mess with the toad, but Poppy told her that was a bad idea, because to the tiny toad she seemed like a monster a hundred times bigger than the great fir tree just yonder seemed to her. The poor little toad was so scared of her, that if she just touched him with a blade of grass, he might be scared to death.
She left the toad in peace, even though that was very hard for her to do. Her little brother left him in peace, too.
Then, she found another tiny toad, hiding in just the same way as the first. She looked at it, but left it alone, even though she really wanted to pick it up and pet it. Her little brother left that toad alone, too.
Then, she found a dead toad out on the grass. It was not hiding in the sand. It was quite dried up. She and her brother squatted to look at it. So did Poppy. They poked it with a twig, because Poppy said that the toad could not feel bad about anything anymore.
She asked, “What’s the matter with it, Poppy?”
“It’s dead, sweetie.”
“Yeah. Why is it dead?”
All the big new buildings of Christendom have them. I was just down at the new – almost complete – Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco, and the bollards are everywhere. Ditto for the new immediately adjacent TransBay Terminal, still a year or two away from completion. They’ve got bollards by the thousand there – it’s a huge building – ready to be installed.
The newly ubiquitous bollards are the beginning of the closure of the formerly open West.
Thanks to the forethought of my wife, my family and I were lucky to have been able to travel to Madras, Oregon for the recent solar eclipse. Madras was one of the best places to see it, because of the low likelihood of overcast in the high desert of central Oregon during the summer months. As it happened, there was dense wood smoke instead, from the wildfires that have been burning all over the west in recent weeks. But on the day of the eclipse, we were fortunate that, thanks to a shift in the prevailing winds, the smoke had temporarily abated somewhat, and our view of the sky was quite good.
The eclipse was beautiful and spooky, unlike any other thing; happy intellectual fascination atop wild visceral dread.
But the most striking thing about the whole event was how the press disseminated totally false information about it.