Jonathan Chait

Today’s links: Higher learning

One more good thing to read about Jonathan Chait’s hissy from Belle Waring. It’s substantive, but the funnest part is this:

Or, perhaps, that Jonathan Chait has a skin so thin that he cries when someone gets the butter knife out of the drawer anywhere within six blocks of his apartment, and is also so allergic to his own tears that he then needs to use his EpiPen and ARE YOU HAPPY NOW BLACK FEMINISTS

Also, a perceptive commenter mentioned  that Phil Och’s “Love Me I’m a Liberal” is relevant to this discussion, and so it is….


Hamilton Nolan at Gawker reports Inside Higher Ed’s finding that “the richest universities in America had a great year last year.”

This is not all that surprising, considering the fact that prestigious universities play a key role in the creation and perpetuation of America’s ever-more-entrenched class system. It is only right that those catapulted to great wealth and power by elite universities would give something back, so that their own children might also be able to achieve outsize wealth and power one day. Last year was a record one for donations to colleges: a total of $37.5 billion, up nearly 11% from the year before. Of course, most of that was not going to your local community college. Inside Higher Ed notes that “The top 20 colleges in fund-raising brought in more than $10 billion. That means that 28.6 percent of the total was given to fewer than 2 percent” of schools.

… Not much to say about all this except to point out that if all that money had been donated to real charities, tens or hundreds of thousands of human lives could have been saved, but instead we have the Stanford Alumni Association.

Commentor Lord Burleigh notes helpfully

that all that money is not going to faculty, who are increasingly adjuncts and other types of part-time staff frequently making very small amounts of money (like me, at one of these top 5 universities). Instead, it’s going to pay the salaries of a cancerous administration that metastasizes almost daily, to fund unnecessary (and some necessary) building projects, and to secure outside consultants, PR firms, and other contractors to ensure that the billions keep on coming.

I might add that the donors get a nice deduction from their generosity to institutions that largely serve their ilk, and this is $37.5 billion that will not find its way into any federal institutions that, theoretically at least, could direct it to needier people and projects.


Full disclosure, I am to some extent a product of one of those institutions of higher learning, though my experience was no doubt quite different from today’s students’. Were I 18 today, and not 30-some years ago, I would probably not even have been able to entertain the thought of going to Notre Dame. It’s true that part of my scholarship back then was funded by a private donor to the University.  But kids, there was also something called the NDSL….

I have not been back on campus in some time, but would like to some day. To judge by the elegant appointments of the posh fortress that is the local tony private college, attending such a place has more in common with staying in a high-end resort that it does with my memories of Salisbury Steak in the dining hall and trying to hear lectures over the banging of the radiators in O’Shaugnessy Hall.

Speaking of the hallowed halls of Our Mother, I’m kind of in love with what has been happening with their men’s basketball program, which has gone from unrated to a possible ACC championship and a high seed in the NCAA tournament come March. I am probably one of the few people in the U.S. to have watched every miserable game of ND’s 2013-14 season, a year marred by the suspension of one Jerian Grant….

Grant is back, and has been performing some mighty heroics on the court, and I could go on and on about what he did last night to Duke. There were the wicked pullup jumpers, one easily from 35-plus feet, the slashing drives and precise assists, including the dime to Vasturia to win the game. You can watch the highlights on ESPN, if you have any interest.

But this, this was the coolest thing he did last night





Football, parasites, Chait, etc.

They are about to play a big game on Sunday, apparently.

This was pretty funny.

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But don’t forget that

That there is a very descriptive link, and a good piece. Don’t enjoy the Super Bowl! I grew up a Vikings fan so was always pretty sour about the game.

Mike Ditka and the tragic Dave Duerson:

Ditka expressed concern about his former charges, whose bodies and minds have been ravaged by the game, including the late Dave Duerson, who took his own life in 2011, leaving behind a brain deformed by chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Ditka then went a step further. He admitted that he wouldn’t let his own sons play football. “That’s sad. I wouldn’t. And my whole life was football,” he told host Bryant Gumbel. “I think the risk is worse than the reward.”

Also this:

Lost amid all the scapegoating was a far more shocking story: the NFL’s admission in federal court documents that it expects up to 30 percent of its former players to suffer chronic brain injuries. To put this in the reductive language favored by tabloids: nearly a third of the employees in America’s most famous workplace will wind up brain damaged.


I tried to hide from chatter about that Chait piece in New York, but today Alex Pareene has a funny and substantive response, and I feel better about it all.

I especially liked the conclusion:

In Chait’s narrative, left-wing political correctness threatened American democracy once before, in the 1980s. But it was vanquished by a brave man from a place called Hope:

Bill Clinton’s campaign frontally attacked left-wing racial politics, famously using inflammatory comments by Sister Souljah to distance him from Jesse Jackson.

That Chait, in 2015, is still praising Clinton’s “Sister Souljah moment” as a heroic victory in the war against political correctness is telling. What was that moment but the drawing of a party line against expression deemed offensive? Bill Clinton attacked Souljah for her speech. He performed outrage for the sake of identity politics. The attack on a rapper most Americans had no familiarity with was simply part of Clinton’s cynical scheme to signal to aggrieved whites that he was not beholden to the black community. The culmination of that scheme was the execution of mentally impaired black man named Rickey Ray Rector. If that’s the variety of American liberalism that political correctness threatens, please direct me to the local thought police recruitment center.

I have a feeling this is the first salvo in the 2016 election war between “leftists” and the “shut up and vote for whichever Clinton is running” liberals….


I got a “promoted” tweet from someone named Josh Block warning about Iran and the bomb and terror. I am still happy Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and is not trying to make one. Israel having numerous nukes keeps me awake at night however. And there’s still only one country that has “deployed” nuclear weapons on a civilian population, twice. So there’s that.

In other, related news from the twitter:


Would also like to recommend this piece by the BBC’s Lucy Jones, What would happen if all the parasites disappeared?

The changes could be particularly dramatic in the oceans, says Luis Zaman of the University of Washington in Seattle. The seas are filled with algae and other microorganisms that get their energy from sunlight. Directly or indirectly, they feed all the animals in the sea. But they are “constantly battling viruses,” says Zaman, and that keeps their numbers down.
“Without these viruses, it is hard to say what exactly would happen,” says Zaman. “One possibility is that the oceans would turn into thick green mats, like the ones you see on small ponds by the road.”
This would be bad news for everything else in the ocean. “Take out all of the parasites across the ecosystem, and it probably will collapse,” says Zaman. “It might take a while, and it might oscillate wildly between states of lush vegetation and barren desert, but it almost certainly wouldn’t end well.”

I also really enjoyed this from a scientist Jones quoted: “There is so much to be gained from being a parasite.”

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