Friday, February 10, 2017

When did plenary meetings of the Puget Sound faculty become "Queen for a Day?"

Question:  Why must faculty abase themselves for profit and pity?

Answer:  Because faculty are not able to embarrass themselves.

 
Last Tuesday [7 February 2017] about 50 faculty gathered in Thompson 193 to discuss, among other matters, an idea adduced by the Faculty Salary Committee [FSC] to raise the salary scale for assistant and associate professors to bring those ranks closer to the median salaries for faculty at institutions that some faculty and administrators compare with the University of Puget Sound. Because the FSC and especially Professor Hanson were clear and logical, they disarmed some faculty who had regaled the Faculty Governance List-Serve [hereinafter, The Wah-Wah Bar, after George Harrison's "Wah -Wah"* on "All Things Must Pass"] with personal details and special pleading.  The FSC and Professor Hanson could not, however, overcome the devolution of both The Wah-Wah Bar and faculty meetings into revivals of "Queen for a Day."
             
Especially young faculty, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_for_a_Day
                 
"Queen for a Day" was a pity party on radio, then television.  Multiple women would come on the show and, after preliminary pleasantries, reveal some burdens under which they claimed they labored.  Audience members would express sympathy for and with each abject contestant, then applaud for the woman most deserving of pity.  That woman would be named "Queen for a Day" and would get some prizes.  One or more prizes would be targeted to the woes that the contestant had rendered most melodramatically.  The sobbing winner would then be worshipped until the closing credits and commercials.
       
For the last decade or longer, faculty meetings have all too often resembled "Queen for a Day." Special pleaders compete for special consideration.  "What about me?" is masked a little by "What about me and mine?" or "What about me and faculty like me?"  Once the whimpering and snivelling signal the start of the competition to be most pitiable, experienced faculty await the deployment of "fairness" or "fair."  The pretenders to the throne of melodrama queen for the day regale the assembled with reports, reminiscences, and other folderol that seem or sound designed to wring expressions of concern from faculty.  Those expressions of concern are then taken by unwary or inexperienced faculty to be tantamount to establishing unfairness despite any competitor's defining "fair" or "unfair" beyond the competitor's interests.  The institutional or collective decision is unfair, that is, if the decision threatens to deprive an individual or class of some benefit they desire.  To outstrip colleagues and to construct the unfairness, contestants indulge in melodramatic excess and lawyer's history.  They relate however tenuously the personal to the policies or proposals in question. They construct opportunity costs like President Trump.  They redirect the faculty from collective interests and concerns to the interests of individuals or ilks.  Many of the presentations, of course, are wholly or mostly fanciful. Whether the special pleading is true seems irrelevant;  the playing of the victim is the thing.
     
I confess this much:  Nobody knows the troubles these special pleaders claim to have seen or endured.  I suspect that no one knows such troubles because the alleged difficulties exist only in the overheated blather of the contestants.  For example:  Even if a colleague really took a hint in the pension in 2008-2009, he or she also acquired stocks or bonds when the Dow was below 7000 and, if she or he behaved sensibly, now owns shares that have nearly tripled in value.  I provide but one example but generalize that few if any claims to individual victimization by general policies will withstand scrutiny.
       
Nonetheless, as part of conjuring opportunity costs and imagining injuries on their way to bleating "Unfair!" contestants must micro-manage perceptions.  That is, they must induce faculty to turn from shared, longer-run concerns to idiosyncratic, immediate concerns.  The colleagues cannot serve the contestants unless audience members for "Drama Queen of the Day" are moved to accommodate the proclaimed long-suffering colleague with applause recognizing just how put-upon the contestant "truly" is.  If the attention of colleagues can be misdirected and "micro-focused," the utter speciousness or absurdity of claims will slip the minds of the least savvy, most collegial minds -- especially if those unwary minds espy a way to share in swag to which drama queens are laying claim.
       
How can the drama queens embarrass themselves for whatever small change they can thereby secure? The drama queens cannot embarrass themselves.  They cannot be embarrassed.  They are unembarrassable.  How could they be drama queens if they could be embarrassed?  How can we suppose that drama queens even see what spectacles they make of themselves for such paltry prizes?
         
I suppose, rather, that the prizes that contestants secure even if they do not win the sash and scepter of "Queen for a Day" drive contestants to abase [but not to embarrass] themselves.  Like President Trump, they get to imagine that any fable is justified if it draws the attention and sympathy.  More, contestants get to hold the floor before a captive audience to tell stories about their maladies and misfortunes.  [Remember Zeena Frome?]  Such maladies and misfortunes are currency that excuses shortcomings past, present, and future.  Excuses that yield sympathy, no matter how bogus its generation, are resources for securing promotion [including, of course, self-promotion].
       
So pity colleagues who abase themselves for symbolic or other payoffs.  To steal from Janis Ian, remember that those who win "Queen for a Day" lose the respect they hoped to gain "in debentures of quality and dubious integrity."  Better for themselves if they could be embarrassed, for then they would not embarrass themselves.  They cannot be embarrassed.  Hence, they embarrass themselves without seeing what they demean and devalue in pursuit of one pittance or another.  Steel yourself if you read The Wah-Wah Bar or listen at faculty meetings [a. k. a., The Buffalo Chip Throw] for weepy warbling of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."  But do not steal from the institution or the faculty resources to assuage troubles nobody knows because those troubles exist only in the minds of self-serving snivellers.
       
Since so many of the contenders for the title "Queen for a Day" have offices in Wyatt Hall, do not wonder that I have called Wyatt Hall "The Whinery" for some time.


* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wah-Wah_(song)
     
Cf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVKHc9eRv3w

Friday, August 28, 2015

History Lessons for Martinis

            
In the last years I have avoided not troubled myself to meet most junior faculty.  I can no longer share the enthusiasms and hopes of naïfs even if I once could and I never did.  Too many arrivistes do not share the solidarity and delusion of the liberal arts mission, so their opportunism and indifference to students atomistic egotism is are too much with even a chat at the Faculty Club.  Recruitment tides have washed in flotsam and jetsam a roster of poseurs and frauds serious, indeed grievous, intellectuals and scholars to replace retirees, like shingles,  who will not go away.  The apostles Proponents of "rigor" [in this blog I call them the Wigger Patwol] we shall always have with us so long as we employ faculty more conscious of how the workload they impose makes them great than of whether "our children is learning" [G. W. Bush].
            
However, I am the only candid a source of the oral history of this institution who does not suffer amnesia actual or feigned, so I should be available to provide newer faculty accounts that they will never believe when I deliver them but will soon come to see understate the banality, ineptitude, savagery, incompetence, perfidy, cowardice, mendacity, and malfeasance that have characterized some vicissitudes of the University of Puget Clowns  [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] over the last few decades.
         

To see if you might stand this ancient mariner to a martini in return for being wised up, please find my entries in this blog for 6 February and 5 February 2011, 9 February 2010, or 11 February 2009 to catch up on some missteps of miscreant colleagues.   The "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" of 2007, on which day at least five erstwhile members of the Starr Chamber  soiled utterly debased disgraced themselves, is especially depressing rewarding to read.  [See rumpparliament.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html]  New or old readers should pay close attention to those old entries, for only three of the eight malefactors fools have left the University of Puget Clowns. That leaves five fuck-ups colleagues who should not be trusted to make sensible or fair decisions but may be trusted to harm vulnerable colleagues and assist double-dealing administrators.
          
            
As you read those old posts, please note that a former Chair of the Faculty Senate called the Professional Standards Committee "the Star Chamber" long before I did. I added the extra "r" to mockingly recall Judge Kenneth Starr, who exhibited similar fairness, objectivity, and sense in Javerting President Clinton.
                      
And to the five, if any of them read my blog: I have not forgotten who you were or what you did. I also have not forgotten that I volunteered to one of you more than nine years ago to argue the nonfeasance and malfeasance of the PSC before the self-same PSC. Yes, the prisoners in the dock and the jury in the box would have been you same eight boobspersons. So confident was I that the errors committed by the PSC violated either The Faculty Code or commonsense fairness or both that I was willing to let you "Professional" "Standards" Clods adjudicate. My sucker bet generous challenge was not accepted. Would that I could believe that you declined to hear me because you realized too late that you had succumbed to the Great Deceiver poor counsel and suborned due process for your own convenience or your circle of friends!  Then you might hope for redemption.  That, however, is not what I believe. I believe that you thought the Starr Chamber too lofty to trifle with me or with the victims you screwed strewed.
              
As I noted some time ago, I hope the members of recent Academic Standards Committees do not despair. [See "Rump Parliament" 7 December 2010 for a summary.] Those committees were every bit as wanton as the Starr Chamber, but there was far less at stake.  Keep at it, however.  You may yet in the name of rigor harm students as much as the "Professional" "Standards" Clowns harmed faculty.
       
If anyone would like to learn more about how low colleagues can go, please stand me to martinis at Primo Grill.
             


"I'd Like a President Who Pretends to Value My Bullshit, Please"

  
When faculty and staff assembled to state their preferences regarding the new president, multiple faculty showed why faculty should be allowed far less access to selecting the new president than staff should be permitted.
                 
For the third time in my stay at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996], the faculty assembled to state their priorities in a search for a new president.  Staff and perhaps even some trustees, administrators, and students sat among the faculty.  The faculty embarrassed themselves relatively and absolutely—as I should have expected.  Students and staff tend to be punished for self-regarding behavior, so we get less preening and whining from staff and students than from faculty, who appear to revel in their brittle, feeble, self-pitying solipsism. 
      
As in previous presidential searches, faculty snouts instantly and insistently dived toward the trough:  How might the new president represent or otherwise benefit me or mine?
Unabashedly self-interested, self-seeking, and self-serving, faculty debased themselves and abased their departments or schools via special bleating pleading.  Sad but not surprising, this misconduct amounted to an argument that faculty should play a minimal role in selecting the president.  Too many faculty are incapable of considering interests other than their own.
        
[I am informed that a less public if not private meeting of "campus leaders" with those in charge of the search featured no or almost no individual aggrandizement and teemed with thinking institutionally.  Maybe some faculty should be admitted to search processes.]
       
When faculty stated their priorities for the search of a president, those with low self-esteem begged for a president who would profess to esteem their pitiful selves.  Although some faculty managed to speak to institutional interests and to values shared by students, staff, and faculty, too many faculty could not get beyond their immediate, individual wants.  How interesting that staff who spoke focused on institutional interests and shared concerns.  How telling that multiple early volunteers among the faculty could find neither institutional interests nor common concerns to camouflage their egoism.
       
Some faculty did get to a point beyond their own anxieties about their status and stores.  Was it an irony that two philosophers concerned themselves with realism rather than symbolism?  The two philosophers went concrete.  They noted that raising money, managing expenses, and otherwise preserving the solvency of the university constituted a priority.  A member of the professional schools opined that a president with an affinity for evidence and a willingness to adapt to realities no matter how unwelcome would be positive.  That is, these three faculty spoke to needs.  They suggested that keeping the doors of Puget Sound open and paying faculty and staff might be necessary outcomes for which or by which to search.  By contrast, the faculty who wanted their status reaffirmed and their low self-esteem remedied served up word salads regarding less important matters, such as how the new president might stanch hemorrhaging departments.  ["If fans don't come out to the ball park, you can't stop them."  Yogi Berra]
                            
The philosophers did not channel the words of bygone nabobs:  “The new president should be an intellectual leader.  That is my highest priority!”  Perhaps the philosophers had enough confidence in their intellects/intellectualism that they did not feel they must preen.  Maybe, as philosophers, they realized that pretenses to intellectualism do not fool incoming undergraduate, although of course Puget Sound faculty might believe such traveshamockeries. 
       
 Is there a way to get the philosophers and not the philosophasters into the search?  I fear not.
          
Let's play safe.  Keep the faculty in the dark.  Faculty, like mushrooms, do best in the dark.
            
              

Monday, December 22, 2014

Let's Fathom Pseudocracy

       
They are warming up the old horrors; and all that they say is echoes of echoes.
Beware of taking sides; only watch.
These are not criminals, nor hucksters and little journalists, but the governments
Of the great nations; men favorably

Representative of massed humanity. Observe them. Wrath and laughter
Are quite irrelevant. Clearly it is time
To become disillusioned, each person to enter his own soul's desert
And look for God--having seen man.


Robinson Jeffers 1939

             

In a recent post at "The Dish" Dr. Andrew Sullivan took apart the response of former Vice President Richard B. Cheney to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture.  Please do not be put off by its title.  "The Depravity of Dick Cheney" portends about as much new information as "The Insanity of Charles Manson" or "The Fecklessness of Barack Obama" would.  I argue below that Dr. Sullivan's post interests me most by what Dr. Sullivan misunderstands or at least misstates.
               
Consider how Dr. Sullivan begins:

Perhaps the only saving grace of this sociopath formerly in high office is that he understands that his legacy could well be as a war criminal unlike any in American history before him. That’s my only explanation for why he has to be out there day after day, year after year, attacking his successor, lambasting America’s return to civilization, and insisting that hanging people from shackles, freezing them to near-death, near-drowning them so that their abdomens are distended with water, anally raping them, breaking their limbs, and keeping them awake so long they hallucinated … is not somehow torture. Ask yourself: have you ever met someone who believes that? Outside the professional criminal classes, that is.
             
Any reasonable or disinterested observer must assess Mr. Cheney as a crackpot, so Dr. Sullivan's first paragraph may seem unexceptionable.  For exactly that reason I take exception to Dr. Sullivan's opening.  Mr. Cheney need not be worrying about his legacy or how history will remember him.
  • First, the obliviousness of Americans to history is the legacy of our mass mediated polity. Most Americans will not pick Cheney's name out of the possibilities on "Jeopardy" five years after Mr. Cheney dies.  That, of course, would not matter to Mr. Cheney, who is indifferent to what most Americans think [and do not know].  The lake in "Deliverance" does not cover [up] as well as our mass media cover [up].  Vice President Cheney knows that.  It follows that he is not worried.
  •  Second, educated, mindful minorities of Americans consist of many partisans and ideologues who will believe what their dogmas and past actions demand.  What supporters of Mr. Cheney or former President Bush [43] must believe or what they long to believe to rationalize their support of indefensible decisions, they will believe.  They, too, will cover [up] for Mr. Cheney's crimes or sins; some even will praise criminal, sinful, and psychopathic/sociopathic acts and statements as patriotism, these days among the first refuges of scoundrels.  Vice President Cheney knows that.  It follows that he is not worried but confident.
  • Third, Mr. Cheney operates like most modern U. S. politicians -- by means of short cons. Why would a savvy operator deploy some long con when he knows my first and second points above?  Denial almost always suffices until obliviousness [point one supra] and hive-mind [point two supra] kick in. Mr. Cheney, it seems obvious to me, is temporizing until political amnesia and political loyalties conduct him to the Grim Reaper.  While Mr. Cheney had better discount the theological beliefs many of his evangelical supporters lest Mr. Cheney's "longer run" include a hotfoot, Vice President Cheney is not worried here and now.
  • Fourth, Mr. Cheney knows that other reports and issues will supplant the torture report soon enough. Even if forgetting what you prefer to forget [point one], denying what you prefer to ignore [point two], and stonewalling a short con [point three] did not work as well as they will, MSNBC and Fox News will give the torture report up once the Main Stream Media start blathering on other topics.
                             
I do not quite endorse Dr. Sullivan's claim that the following was most revealing or most telling of Mr. Cheney, but I agree that the quotations below are stunning:
             
I’ll tell you what my definition of torture is: what nineteen guys armed with airline tickets and boxcutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11.
Torture is what the al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11.
     
Vice President Cheney knows that he is misusing "torture" and knows he will get away with it.  Even the dull normal American smells this red herring.
             
I agree with Sullivan's assessments in the following passage:
What I take from these statements is that the torture program was, for Cheney, partly an amateur thug’s idea of how you get intelligence, but partly also simply a means of revenge. Yes: revenge. This was a torture program set up in order to vent rage and inflict revenge. It was torture designed to be as brutal to terror suspects as 19 men on 9/11 were to Americans. Tit-for-tat. Our torture in return for their torture; their innocent victims in return for ours. It was a program that has no place in a civilized society.
         
And I agree with Dr. Sullivan's quotation of yet another irrational howler from the former Vice President:
The problem I have is with all the folks we did release who ended up on the battlefield … I have no problem [with torturing innocent people] as long as we achieved our objective.
These two sentences mislead the unwary who believe that many released prisoners returned to the battlefield, but they permit Vice President Cheney to live down to his crackpot identity.
    
I disagree when Dr. Sullivan then intones, "It doesn’t get any clearer than that. The man is a sociopath. He is a disgrace to his country. And he needs to be brought to justice."  If Mr. Cheney sincerely believed any of the quoted language, he might thereby mark himself a sociopath or a disgrace.  But I invoke anew a premise I introduced above.  Vice President Cheney is a political operator whose experience spans at least four decades!  Why would two fellows with advanced degrees in political science [Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Haltom] take the former vice president to mean anything he says?
                   

I prefer to explain politicos by what news media and discourse will permit them to get away with. Moral cretins created a poster of a man falling from one of the towers on 9/11:
         


If I must detail the willed stupidity, obtuseness, and vacuousness of this caption, please read someone else's blog.  I do not concern myself about those incapable of learning or thinking.
   
Still, if Mr. Cheney is sociopathic, so are our media and our citizenry, many of whom would find the irrationality of the poster above no disgrace.  Some of our colleagues might find the poster "affective learning," if they could overcome their tendency to locate depravity solely in opponents or enemies.

The foregoing strongly suggests but does not prove that Richard Bruce Cheney, instead of going to graduate school in political science, ought to have pursued aan advanced degree in ethics.  [See the immediately previous posting -- 13 December 2014.]

The foregoing does require us to edit "The Soul's Desert" by Robinson Jeffers.



      
They are warming up the old horrors; and all that they say is echoes of echoes.
Beware of taking sides; only watch.
These are criminals, hucksters, and little journalists, governors
Of nations great in might but weak in right; men
Representative of mass murderers. Observe them. Wrath and laughter
Are quite irrelevant. Clearly it is time
To become disillusioned, each person to enter his own soul's desert
And look for God--having seen man.


           
                    

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Recalling Haltom's Third Law: No One Who Professes Ethics Has Any

"No One Who Professes Ethics Has Any" = Those who speak loudly about ethics soon fail of ethical scruples.

Longstanding reader(s) will vaguely recall Haltom's Laws. Some reader might even recall Haltom's Third Law :  "No One Who Professes Ethics Has Any."  I seize my keyboard today to rehearse what I mean to claim with my hopelessly overstated "law."
 
I phrased Haltom's Third Law in graduate school when I discovered how many proponents of moral or ethical theorizing failed miserably of what ordinary people deemed decency.  I did not yet suspect that I was at once over-generalizing and under-generalizing.  I was over-generalizing because I soon ran into moralists and ethicists who earnestly behaved as scrupulously as they could as often as they could even when it cost them dearly.  I was under-generalizing because academics as a class are disposed to pose as people of probity and honor while engaging "backstage" in perfidies and perversities.

I should rephrase my third law as a tendency or as a probabilistic statement, but then my law would lose impact.  In keeping with our regnant pseudocracy, then, I leave my third law misphrased.

I recently experienced anew the shock that led to my third law.  A sententious, moralizing, pedantic, empty-headed ideologue, given to stylish causes and silly pronouncements delivered with practiced sincerity and projected seriousness, disgraced herself in front of colleagues.  Her fall from grace would disgust if undertaken from cynicism.  However, she has neither the wit nor the intellect to be a cynic. She strikes me rather as a failed Machiavellian.  She is perfectly willing to repeat any blather that aligns her with fashionably left [sic] positions.  [This is the University of Puget Clowns -- thanks, President PieRce -- so the fashions are decades out of date.]  She wants to pursue her political ends but lacks the cunning to pull it off.  So, like a demented Prince[ss] taking advice from an erstwhile bureaucrat, she inflicts pain without achieving any victory.  She dishonors herself and others without achievement or advance.

This professed moralist and would-be Machiavellian attempted a McCarthy-like attack on a blameless person who was not present or even aware of her defamation.  At that moment I knew she was a living embodiment of my stereotype of the academic ethicist:  someone who preaches what she or he cannot practice when her or his interests intrude.

Note that this does not make the professional scold a hypocrite.  When we speak strictly and adhere to denotations once expected of users of English, the moralizer and would-be Machiavellian may believe in the scruples and strictures she invokes.  The hypocrite conjures principles in which he or she does not believe.  Since each of us routinely fails of standards we endorse, we are all hypocrites if we surrender to the modern abuse of "hypocrisy."  The moralizing Princess Machiavelli believes in the principles she blares;  she is no hypocrite.  Indeed, she believes so deeply in some of her ethical precepts that she is willing to lose possession of herself in pursuit of those precepts.

From all of the above, I reiterate that those who speak loudly and often about ethics will soon and solidly betray those ethics in pursuit of whatever ethics they feel most imperiled.  Almost anyone who professes "ethics" will over-pursue some ethical end and thereby violate other ethical ends resoundingly.  I do not know if this law is as true of those trained in ethics within Philosophy as it is of those who claim to have been schooled in another discipline.  One of the earliest malefactors from whom I generalized my third law was trained in Philosophy, so Philosophy itself is no prophylactic. However, many disciplines acquire normatively inclined practitioners who profess to be ethicists but are instead polemicists using ethics as a mask.

Still, to keep matters simple, presume that "No One Who Professes Ethics Has Any."
      

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Enhanced Interrogation Technique(s)" Spins Torture



Andrew Sullivan collected some tweets and other contributions that cut through the blather:
         
http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/12/11/an-orwellian-acronym/



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Live-Blogging the Fall Faculty Conversion

 
I showed up early, so I enjoyed the silence and solitude.  I pondered fundamental questions such as "Is Schneebeck not air-conditioned or is the air-conditioning inadequate?"
         
My luck could not last.  Shortly before the scheduled start staff were forced into Schneebeck Sweatbox. Shortly after the scheduled start faculty wandered in.  Faculty who most penalize tardiness trickled in last.
   
Who chose "Mission Impossible" to be playing as Ron Thom ascended the stage?  [I am not kidding!]
         
"It's great to see you all back," President Thomas claimed, looking at staff and faculty fronts.  "I always look forward to this conversation," he added.  Before it happened, he'd have to look forward, wouldn't he?
         
President Thomas asked us to imagine that we were not in a concert hall but in an orchestra pit.  I do not know about the orchestra part, but I had no difficulty imagining we all were in a pit.
   
"That Vision Thing" started promptly at 2:37 p. m.
   
Merriment, of course, ensued.
 
President Thomas then paraded bricks, mortar, and other accomplishments.  Visions of his accomplishments held the audience's attention like a vice clamp.
       
After five minutes of positive blather, President Thomas moved to the challenges ahead.
     
The humidity and temperature persisted.  Naptime loomed.
     
"Can we get out from under the sword of Damocles?"  President Thomas began to flash . . . his slides.
     
"We can hope for a miracle.  And every day, I do."  President Thomas warmed to his task, channeling Louis C. K.
     
President Thomas recalled the "Hail Mary" pass in the Orange Bowl in 1984 -- you know, the one that took place in Miami's home stadium on 23 November 1983.  [Hey!  He's an English PhD.  It's amazing he got the decade correct.]
 
President Thomas concluded his bullish commentary on Puget Sound by flashing . . . three words: mishmash   caricature   Vishnu,  that is,  "mission    character    vision."
         
Into this three-way verbal Rorschach, President Thomas then projected "Pioneering   Confident   Independent    Creative    Open."  These five words or concepts, which no sane observer would apply to any schools in Tacoma, President Thomas said defined the character of Puget Sound.  "Five Faces of Puget Sound" became transformed into an equation:  vision = [mission + character] x time.  Such precise folderol!

President Thomas next free-associated with other symbols and shibboleths.  He discussed compost, sewers, and fleas, then said "... but enough about the new servery in the SUB."   Stop it, Ron!  You're killing us!  What a wag!
     
By the way, President Thomas listens to KPLU.  I am unsure what that has to do with what President Thomas was babbling about.  However, it was provocative that Puget Sound's president listens to KPLU when he could listen to KUOW.  The crowd went wild.
   
He mentioned Peter Wimberger's name twice, Harry Velez's name once, and Suzanne Holland's once. I forget why, which may have been the reason El Presidente did so.
     
He used the word "bromide."  Given the content of his talk, it was a bold choice.  Imagine Charles Manson calling something "twisted" or Richard Nixon saying something was "dishonest."

President Thomas also referred to many articles and reports in popular media amid his random walk squawk talk.
   
26 minutes into his presentation, he told us what he'd like to do today.  [Pithy preface, Ron!]

Then he played a video from Stanford.  I missed its point.  I was checking my email and my pulse. The video roughly emulated "Tosh.0" without the nuances.  I thought "Foolish Pleasures" erred on April Fools Day.
     
The air was even less conditioned.  I was sweating.  How could I follow this scintillating, stimulating, content-free, multi-media extravaganza under such duress?
       
President Thomas used "paradigms."  He loves classics.  Or perhaps he was saying the capital campaign netted a pair of dimes.
         
The assembled readily agreed that Stanford and Puget Sound were identical twins separated at birth. Years ago Ron showed us a clip about Dartmouth.  This time St. Anford's School of and for the Rich. How does he keep finding home videos from Puget Sound doppelgangers?  Maybe next year he'll offer a video touting the Sorbonne . . . untranslated, I hope.
         
David Magnus used to claim that 100 years hence, the conventional disciplines of the present would not exist.  We all agreed then and agree now that non sequiturs make the best bases for arguments.
     
A whirlwind 43 minutes after he began, President Thomas threw up discussion out to the crowd. Having deprived faculty of any empirical referents, President Thomas was ready to hear the faculty out.
         
One attendee said that doing away with majors in favor of students' declaring a "mission" seemed a revolutionary move.  Another attendee said the video reframed established notions, then shocked me with "I like that."  Or maybe what he said was, "I like bright, shiny objects."

Each successive comment from attendees packed more and more shibboleths into Fantasyland.    
         
A member of the faculty lamented "googlfication" of the university.
     
President Thomas discussed the nuances of Legos on the screen during the video.
     
A language professor informed the faculty that one cannot learn language without studying hard and reprogramming one's mind.  Language-translating spectacles will not do the trick!  Good point!  I had taken that facetious remark from a student to be a mood-lightening device.  I profited greatly from learning that such glasses were fictional.  At this point the avatars of station identification began to seize the occasion. The professor next to me asked, "Why do faculty always begin from a defense of their own territory?"  [Because they like to cater to their loves?]
     
Last half hour.  I can endure.  I can make it to the door.
       
Zaixin Hong actually made sense.  Maybe knowing what you're talking about helps conversation! However, President Thomas instantly redirected "conversation" into a ditch, so faculty and staff could continue to brood about their/our being the problem.  Good save, Ron.
     
A speaker offered so many generalizations that one wondered who pulled his finger.  
     
Are we done yet?
       
Paging Rosemary Woods!  We need a 18.5 minute gap in this program.
   
Is the beer available yet?  Why don't we drink first, then endure the droolfest?
   
Multiple attendees endorsed a program much like that at Evergreen State College.  The aforementioned Dr. Wimberger proclaimed that the Stanford video invoked a slick version of Evergreen State.
   
"Blah, blah, blah." "Reflection good"
   

"Blah, blah, blah."  "Vocation-speak bad"
 

"Blah, blah, blah."  "Skills vary."
 

"Blah, blah, blah."  Word salad untranslated here
 

"Blah, blah, blah."   Education good
 

"Blah, blah, blah."   Employers might see this as blather.  [Might?]
 

"Blah, blah, blah."  Run out the clock!  Four-corner offense!
 

"Blah, blah, blah."  "Where's the wine?"
 

"Blah, blah, blah."   "When does the concert start?  Who's the warm-up group?"
 

"Blah, blah, blah."   Merciful Jesus!  Let us out of this oven!
 

"Blah, blah, blah."  There must be a way out of here!
 

"Blah, blah, blah."   Fantasyland University?
 

"Blah, blah, blah."   Will this affect my salary?
 

"Blah, blah, blah."   We almost made it out with no one bringing up the KIP/KNOW requirement.
     

Where is the food and drink?
   

The video did not comment on grades K-12!  [Nor did it refer to the Albigensian Heresy!]

       
Diploma Mill Good!