Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Academic Sublime

He calls himself Dr. Mandrake and his blog "Anonymous Professor" appears to have sparked such a furor that he has taken it down. Thankfully, courtesy of Google cache, here are a few of his entries [caveat lector: Dr. Mandrake uses profane language and is quite often sexist]:

"Note to self 1: Never trust facts in an article funded by the NIH

I just returned from a riviting three day adventure at the National Institutes of Health, an organization I can hardly believe we as taxpayers support. I was there to review grants on epidemiology.

One of the most amazing things I found was that I figured that when the NIH reviews grants, they actually get competent people to do so. But seriously, what has the federal government done lately that resembles competence in any way? So goes it with the NIH. You'd think if you wanted to have a good selection of proposals to fund on questions so fundamental as AIDS and Avian Flu, you would get people who know something about, say, AIDS and Avian Flu. No, not the NIH, and not our government. It went like this:

Mandrake: A sociologist
Reviewer 2: An astronomer
Reviewer 3: A grant administrator at a university with a college degree in English.
Reviewer 4: A theoretical physicist
Reviewer 5: A cell biologist

Isn't it great to know that 4 of the 5 people reviewing multi-miliion dollar grants have no fucking clue about the topic they are reviewing, and that the one who has sort of a clue - the biologist - knows nothing about epidemiology. But the NIH is run mainly by peeople with medical degrees, and we all know how smart they are.

No wonder in the New York Times Magazine this Sunday there is an article about how half of science articles contain serious errors. It's because idiots like me play a role in the process of selecting who gets your money.

Note to self 2: Move to Washington, risk losing your soul.

Seriously, Washington sucks more cock than a thai hooker. I hated it there. I was in what amounted to a shitty suburb, surrounded by high rises and office buildings. I couldn't imagine myself living in this vacuous hellhole, devote of character and identity. But then I realize, the vast majority of people who live in Washington, D.C., either are lawyers, or have something to do with the federal government. So they're soulless.

As I sat in my hotel room, watching the Alito hearings, I realized how much I hate politics. Alito's wife was crying over some pointed questions about him being a bigot. I mean, poor poor Samuel Alito, having to be asked tough questions about why he was a member of a group that opposed women's entry into Princeton. Not that Princeton is a school one should respect in any conceivable way, but I mean, the guy is going up for a job that he will have for the rest of his fucking miserable right-wing life. Oh, too bad, Mrs. Alito, that you're poor husband has to go through this. Why not give him head when both of you get home? Make poor Sam-Sam feel better about himself for having to answer tough tough questions about why he stated that Roe v. Wade was a ruling that should be over-turned? I mean, we are giving him a job he will hold for the rest of his life, right? I hope when I am going up for a job I might hold for the rest of my life, that I will be okay with being asked challenging questions. However, at least in my job, the stroke of my pen can't affect the lives of millions of women.

And I work from January until April to pay for this shit?

Other than there, there is no good food in Washington, only shitty sports bars, soulless whores and frat boys at bars in suits acting like the shallow Georgetown dickheads they are, and a lot of hot air.

The only good thing was that I was able to take a flight out of the damn place six hours earlier than it was scheduled.

Thanks American people for paying for that flight change. (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Saturday, 14 January 2006).

Frying Frey


A few weeks ago I was speaking to some women at a shelter for abused women. This one woman was raped by three men, beat half to death, had her throat slit, and was left for dead behind a lumber yard. That's real. That happened. I saw the wound. I saw the results in terms of the trauma she was living through, and working her way out of poverty and addiction the tough way. But this ex-Frat boy from a shitty Ohio University (Dennison) is getting millions off the ridiculous vapid vanilla codependent soccermoms across America whose only joy is to live vicariously through the life of a lying shithead who can't even fucking write a sentence without the phrase "I cried" in it.

I will use this, by the way, as a way for filtering my friends. All you morons who wrote me, saying "You have to read this book" - you are all no longer my friends, an any further emails from you will be ignored. I don't need idiots like you in my life..... (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Tuesday, 17 January 2006).

What's with me and strippers?

So yesterday I taught my first classes for the new semester. My one class has about 150 students in it and is ridiculous. My other class has about 50 and will be fun. The ridiculous class is insane because the topic makes no sense - I can't make heads or tales of it, and I just find it boring to prepare. And I have a million other things to prepare that matter a great deal more than a class for four hundred beady little eyeballs. It is a class about interdisciplinary perspectives on sociology. It seems as if everyone outside sociology has a lot of strong words of criticism about sociology. I find it insulting when some asshole humanities professor writes that "Sociology objectifies individuals, it makes them subjects to their discipline's clinical gaze (Foucalt, 1969) and forces individuals to give up their voice and agency."

Do these postmodern humanities fuckers write these sentences then masturbate to them? I can imagine the person who penned this line reclining in his or her chair, unzipping his or her pants, and going at it. Because that's how full of shit the entire literature of this field is. The clinical gaze of sociology? What clinical gaze? This humanities bullshit is mental masturbation for dickheads who were so afraid of math and statistics and science than they ran towards French philosophers who make about as much sense as Pauly Shore's existence. At least, though, I don't write academic articles about how much you humanities folk suck, I just complain about it here, and when I encounter you, I say, "Yes, YES, YEEEESSSSSS! I agree, I couldn't agree more! Derrida was so right! And Bordieu, with the notion of the habitus, YES, YESSSS, YESSSSSSSSSSS!"


However, you are dying to know about me and strippers.

In my fun class, a student came up to me and asked me if she could discuss the project she wants to do. I thought this strange, because, well, it's the first day of class. She tells me that she is a stripper, and she has always wondered about the sexual preferences of American men (oh boy, I'm thinking). She wants to study if there is a relationship between breast size and the amount of tips strippers receive.

I can't help but think at this point, "I went to fucking graduate school in a fucking miserably cold town and a postdoc in a even more miserably cold town so that I can help a stripper determine whether breast size is related to tip quantity in a strip club?" I mean, I wrote a 300 page dissertation for a job like this? I can't even afford to go to a strip club on this salary!

I just smiled and said okay. I have a suspicion that she will find a positive correlation. I am fairly certain I am going to make her submit this to the American Journal of Sociology for shits and giggles.

I actually have never gone to a strip club. I find the idea somewhat depressing. I guess I just feel that it is somewhat demeaning. The worst, I believe, are women who go to strip clubs. I spoke with another stripper student about this once, and it confuses me. She told me that women were the worst clients. They didn't tip well, were very demanding, and generally acted stupid. Men, on the other hand, "Are predictable. And they fear an encounter with the bouncer in the back alley. Women don't."

And what the fuck is up with women needing to find their inner whores, anyway? Maureen Dowd wrote a stupid, long, and dull book about this (who among you have actually ever finished one of her long monologues that plague the New York Times Op Ed pages? I'm a liberal, and I just find her about as boring as Oats and Hall.) I am sure those who began feminism would be proud of the acheivements of women today: at my gym, they offer a pole dancing class for women under the guise of being exercise. They have all these temporary poles set up in a room, and these lawyer yuppie 30 something women in yoga pants hugging the damn things, falling, looking ridiculous.

It is the only class that has a waiting list. (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog,Thursday, 19 January 2006).

A Sunday Sermon

Its snowing out. This is the kind of day where you want to wake up next to your girlfriend, look outside, smile, go back to bed. Perhaps have some morning sex to keep you warm, make some coffee, throw some eggs on the stove. But I woke up alone this morning at 6:00 AM. I went for a walk, looking for a place that was open and serving coffee. Had to walk seven blocks in foot deep snow. Today, I have to write a paper that I don't want to write. It is on friendship in different cultures. I really don't want to open up that file. I don't care about friendship in different cultures anymore. I don't really give a fuck about anything anymore, and this is beginning to worry me.

I've been down lately, to be honest. A student recently asked me about whether she should go to grad school. I was thinking about it and I don't really know the answer. I gave up a lot. I satisficed a lot. I miss all the people in my life who I left behind to be here. I wish they were still in my life, or more than just fleeting memories that grow more distant. Looking out the back window of a train, the station passes you, recedes into the distance. You give up a lot, if you're not careful, and I was never careful.

But going out in the snow reminded me of my childhood, and being so excited when the snow fell. I would go out with my sister to a field behind my grandparents' house where there was a large hill. Large, perhaps, for a six year old. Nearby there was a cardboard factory that always had scraps - we would jump on them and fly down that hill.

It is all gone, now. The hill is gone, the factory is gone, even my grandparents are gone. My sister is grown and married. The field was bulldozed and turned into houses. But I guess there are new hills, somewhere. I haven't found one yet that I like. And I am tired of looking for them. And I am tired of not looking for them. And I am standing here, and I have no idea what direction to walk. Like this morning, in the snow, randomly turning on unfamiliar streets, the world completely white. Amnesia.

So I don't know what to say. Do it, but realize that you will lose perhaps far more than you will ever gain. You will climb a mountain, only to find yourself, at thirty, waking up alone at 6:00, searching for coffee, coming back home, and opening the file cultfriendship.doc - something you don't want to work on to the last fiber of your being. That's what I got out of grad school.( Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Sunday, 12 February 2006).

Anonymous Professor Gets His Course Reviews Back

So I received my course reviews from last semester. Overall, I guess they were okay. The strange thing is that they all complained that I was too lenient. Crazy. When I give them grades, they all complain to me that they want a higher grade. When they do my evaluation, they say they want me to be harsher. Make up your fucking minds. They also complained that I didn't take attendence. IT WAS A CLASS WITH 100 STUDENTS, that's why I didn't take attendence. What, do you want me to take roll? Come on, people.

But some are worth noting here:

Quite frankly, I think you need to get over yourself. Yes, I am impressed that you are 31 and have a Ph.D. But there are many times when you come off as haughty, and almost condesending to your students. I think your sense of humor is out of line.

I agree with all of the above, except I'm not 31. Maybe he or she is talking about another professor.

Or this one: Too much general and personal information provided.

What is general information? And I'm sorry that I told you that chalk dust makes my crotch itch. It does, and that's why I am always grabbing myself in front of class. You don't want me to sit there and itch, do you?

But very few of them were bad like that. In fact, most were overwhelmingly positive.

We love you, you're so nice.

I love you too.

Very charming and cute. We love you!

I love you also. Maybe you and I and the previous person could have a threesome?

I want to have your children.

Okay, I guess. Now this is getting weird.

But my favorite is this:

Anonymous Professor has enriched my life and experience at Anonymous University greatly. By teaching with honest passion and command of his field he manages to foster a critical yet generous spirited consciousness of the guiding principles of sociological theory. He frames his lectures that encourage an exploration of questions such as: How do we define that which constitutes knowledge? How do we measure and value different kinds of knowledge? How do we preserve and transmit knowledge? Most importantly, how is knowledge produced? And what are the limits of knowledge? Anonymous Professor strives in constructing a kind of map of knowledge, charting various courses using building blocks of methodology in sociology.

Anonymous professor teaches by illuminating the subject of one discipline from the perspective of another, as when, for example, a physicist the acousics of music production. Anonymous Professor manages to integrate methods of sociology with philosophy, poetry, wit, and intelligence. He promotes our potential to think in terms of how we affect the world, frame works, concepts, techniques and vocabulary we have not yet imagined. He evokes a intellectual universe and teaches us to listen to the world around us.

Holy shit! I did all that??? I was only kidding about listening to the world. I think we really should just ignore the world. The world talks and talks and talks, and never shuts the fuck up. Listening to the world is like watching someone's vacation slide presentation - BORING.

You know I'n not being serious, but anyway, I'm glad that some students believe I did a good job. Or want to have my kids, I guess. (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Saturday, 18 February 2006).

Mandrake dodges a bullet, learns politics lesson the easy way

Your anonymous professor dodged a bullet yesterday. You see, as a sociologist, I require access to certain databases that require payment. Fuckers. For my research, I needed to purchase access to this one particular data set. It costs $50. Of course, this requires going through about a hundred offices to get the required signatures. There is one woman though, who we will call Lazy Bitch, who kept putting me off. She is the last in the chain that will allow me to pay the company that keeps the data set. She has stalled me, time and time again, for a variety of reasons. First it was that I didn’t have the Institutional Review Board approval for the project. Okay, okay, bitch. The company does not require IRB approval for their data, but I got that after a month of wrestling with the IRB committee. Fuckers. Then it is that the grant that I have did not specify why I needed this data set. I came up with the bullshit excuse of how it fit into the constraints of the grant. Then she sends me an email that the Federal Government does not explicitly say that grants can be used for the purpose of purchasing data from private companies. It doesn’t prohibit it, but it does not specify that one can.

Okay, so after this email I was about to go to her office and challenge her to a fist fight. I really was. I don’t give a fuck that she is a woman. And I could have taken her on, seriously. She is a fat fuck who deserves an ass beating, and I go to the gym pretty regularly and have an Irish temper. I felt that this was the last straw. But I kept my cool, realizing that in academia, coming to blows is usually a poor strategy, particularly when you place a woman in the hospital without teeth. So instead, I sat and wrote a letter to the Dean basically trashing her, threatening that if she continues to act this way I will have to begin looking for jobs elsewhere so that I can accomplish my research. I was about to hit send, but I then decided it would be best to speak to the dean in person, and that I didn’t want the dean to say, “Go ahead, find another job.” He is an asshole and I wouldn’t put this past him.

So I go to the Dean’s office, fuming, and speak to the secretary. She asked me what I wanted to speak to the Dean about. I said, literally, because I am down with her “I want to kill Lazy Bitch. I seriously want to take her out back and pummel her. She is an incompetent idiot that should never have a job above the level of barrista.” It is always good to bring secretaries candy on Valentine’s Day if you are interested in getting things done. A small price to pay for the priceless gem of knowledge she provided me:

The secretary replies, “Uh, Mandrake, do you realize that Lazy Bitch is the Dean’s wife? She kept her original name.”


So the secretary made a few phone calls, and by the end of the day I had access to the data set. I bought her a bouquet of flowers today, with the message, “Thanks for saving my ass.”

This should be a lesson to all of you budding young professors and graduate students. Keep your fucking mouth shut until you learn who is fucking who. Because, after all, it is the Dean who ultimately puts that signature on your reappointment form. (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Friday, 3 March 2006).

Politically Incorrect

1. I really hate Nirvana. There. I said it. Fuck you.

Personally, I hate dreadlocked hippies. I have one in one of my classes. One of those white girls who was not pretty enough to be accepted so she decided, apparently, that the way to address this is to never wash her hair or her clothes and carry around an Allen Ginsburg collected works. That is so fucking grunge, which, I believe, went out in 1994 along with Kurt Cobain's parietal cortex.

2. Unfortunately, fundamentalists can't spell fundamentalism

The problem with fundamentalists - of any religion - is that the vast majority of them are illiterate.

3. Feminists got what they didn't want

Woman at local bar:
I think it is totally unfair the way society treats women. I mean, women are not having children because they have to decide between their careers and having a family. And I believe that this is an unfair choice that women have to make.
Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me? This is the fucking price you pay for feminism. Yes, you want to be treated equally as men? Do you think, throughout the period of modern industrialism, than men really LIKED going to factories and spending the day away from home, slaving away meaningless lives at factories or at desks in soulless industrial parks doing entirely meaningless and menial labor? Did you not ever consider the fact that almost any man would give up this ridiculous shit to take care of kids. And you wanted to enter this miserable dog eat dog realm, you wanted to become a lawyer and now you are here, and you gotta take what comes with it. Do you think you are special because you have tits? Do you think you deserve something I don't deserve because you have to make a difficult choice between career and taking care of children? I think it is unfair than men were never really given the option. But you have to take the good with the bad. The enormous joke is on you: Feminists wanted to have equality to men, what they apparently didn't think about is whether what men have is something that is really worth wanting. And now you have it, and you are beginning to realize how much it sucks, and now you are crying that it isn't fair to you because you think you should be treated special because you are a woman. Make up your mind. Either we are equal or we are unequal. Either you want to be a lawyer or you don't.
Woman at local bar:
That you are a professor of anything disgusts me. She gets up and leaves.

4. It's a shame you didn't learn everything you needed to know in kindergarten

(To a student) There is a difference between hearing yourself speak and listening to yourself think. You like to hear yourself talk. You have no idea how to hear yourself think.

Ah, and people never know when I am serious or when I'm joking. Sometimes you have to say something controversial to start a dialogue. But Lawrence Summers learned that this can backfire - the hard way. (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Tuesday, 28 March 2006).

I hate my students

I teach a very large class of undergraduates. There are 145 students in the class. I assigned a 5 page essay. My university, realizing that I actually do research when I'm not drowining my sorrows in beer, gave me funds to hire a grader to read the papers. She is an English Ph.D. student who is harsh. I felt this was a good idea because all of them could use a lesson on their grammar. Oh, yeah, and about 15 of them blatently plagairized. I handed back their papers today and low and behold, they noticed that the hand writing wasn't mine. They asked why, and I explained this fact to them.

Holy shit, the class exploded in an uproar.

You see, my students think they are geniuses. They feel that their shitty essays written fifteen minutes before class should earn them the Nobel Prize for literature. They feel entitled to that A simply because they came to 20% of the classes. No, they were having no part of this. I cheated them. I robbed them. I violated their trust. Not to mention I know for a fact that only 5 of the 145 downloaded this week's articles because they don't know I can figure this out using a simple counter on my webpage.

"We have no idea who this person is, and it is unfair that she had complete say in what grade we got."

"You have fundamentally disappointed me."

All this bulldhit simply by having an English ABD grade their assignments. And I'm sorry, but if you are not going to respect me enough to read the articles I assign, then I don't really give a flying fuck if I disappoint you. I really couldn't care less.

Student 1: "I can't believe that you got a stupid grad student to grade these papers. That is so unfair of you. I pay tuition so to have a professor grade my papers. Not some T.A. out of college."

What I said: "I understand your concern. I will be happy to read your paper and give more substantive comments"

What I wanted to say: "You stupid bitch, you can't even string a coherent sentence together and you probably threw together this paper the night before anyway, and you are calling English grad students incompetent? Do you realize that your esteemed professor was a grad student just two years ago?"

Student 2: "I don't understand how you could grade more on structure than on content. I mean, this isn't english comp. I think this is ridiculous."

What I said: "I understand your concern. I will be happy to read your paper and give more substantive comments"

What I wanted to say: "Hey, moron, no one will give a fuck about what content you have when you don't even know the difference between than and then or weather and whether. They will just laugh at you. So shut up and sit down and fuck yourself.

Student 3: "I am really interested in becoming a sociologist and I feel ripped off that you gave not a single comment on my thoughts of sociology."

What I said: "I understand your concern. I will be happy to read your paper and give more substantive comments"

What I wanted to say: "You idiot. Sociology is all such bullshit. Academia is such utter bullshit. Do you know what sociologists do all day? They sit around and give each other the intellectual equivalent of a happy ending massage. And why do you think your thoughts are at all interesting whatsoever. If they were you'd probably be an econ major. Do yourself a favor: econ and sociology are similar enough, switch majors, and end up having a job that will allow you to buy that $800,000 condo in Brooklyn, instead of being a broke drunk from a Tom Waits song who wants to vomit every time you hear the fucking letters AJS (American Journal of Sociology)."

It was one of those days. It was just one of those days. (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Thursday, 6 April 2006).

Yet another thing I hate hearing my students say

I really hate it when one of my students says to me that "My wife and I" or "My husband and I" are trying to get pregnant.

Do you think I really give a fuck that you are fucking?

Thank god it's Friday. (Dr. Mandrake, Anonymous Professor Blog, Friday, 7 April 2006).

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Null Persona (With Apologies to Dana Cloud)

Silence can be a plan
rigorously executed

the blueprint to a life

Do not confuse it
with any kind of absence.

Adrienne Rich, The Dream of the Common Language, 17).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Be an honour to the church, follow Christ’s word, clear in thy task and careful in thy speech.

Be thine an open hand, a merry heart, Christ in thy mouth, life that all men may know a lover of righteousness and compassion.

Let none come to thee and go sad away. Hope of poor men, and solace to the sad, go thou before God’s people to God’s realm, that he who follows thee may come to the stars.

Sow living seeds, words that are quick with life, that faith may be the harvest in men’s hearts. In word and in example let thy light shine in the black dark like the morning star.

Let not the wealth of the world nor its dominion flatter thee into silence as to truth, nor king, nor judge, yea, nor thy dearest friend muzzle thy lips from righteousness.

Alcuin of York 735-804

Monday, April 10, 2006

How To Do Things With Words

Via dsquared, brilliance from Lenin of Lenin's Tomb:

"I think it was the author of the "Lenin's Tomb" blog who gave the definitive account [of moral clarity]:

"Moral relativism" is the completely unacceptable proposition that the USA should be held to a different standard from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
"Moral equivalence" is the completely unacceptable proposition that the USA should be held to the same standards as Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
"Moral clarity" is the perfect Zen-like state from which it is possible to excoriate one's opponents for the sins of both moral relativism and moral equivalance." (dsquared in comments, Unspeak blog, 04/09/06).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Why I Am A Christian

The Valley Bible Fellowship of Bakersfield California, being the good Christians that they are, would like to apprise you of a contingency plan in case -- God forbid! -- you miss the rapture:

"I would like to introduce you to one of the most important pieces of literature that you may ever come into contact with. It is the opinion of most Bible teachers and prophets that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent. It is my own opinion that this generation will never pass away until we see the return of Jesus Christ for His church. We call this event the “rapture of the church.” I believe that the church can either be raptured at the beginning or in the middle of the seven year tribulation period. After the rapture of the church, there will e a time on the earth like has never been seen before. It will be a literal hell on earth. This time is called the “seven year tribulation period”. Men will pray for death to come to them, for death will be welcomed as a form of relief in comparison to all the nightmare experiences of the seven year tribulation period. My friends, you DO NOT, let me emphasize DO NOT want to miss the rapture of the church. You need to get your life in order with God now! But, in case you do miss it, then this tract is for you. Please hold onto this and make copies of it and redistribute these to everyone you know. I pray that you will find the strength in Jesus Christ to overcome. Here are 14 very important things for you to do...

14 things to do.

1. DO NOT commit suicide, and stay extremely calm if you have missed the rapture. There will be a period of total chaos, suicides, and heart attacks. People all over the world will be in total chaos. Please understand the fact that you who remain here have missed the rapture, and are living in the tribulation period, and nothing you do can change that fact. Listen! Don’t look back. Face the fact you’ve been left, but there still is hope for you!!

2. KEEP A TIME TABLE. Look back and find the date people were reported missing or raptured, mark that date, and put it away. Keep track of the following 7 years. The first three and a half years will not be too bad, but the last three and a half years will be so horrible that human vocabulary is insufficient to describe the events that will take place.

3. GET ALONE somewhere and find yourself a Bible. There is still hope for you. You still have an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Look in your Bible at Revelation chapter 7, Romans chapter 10:9-11. There is no time element spoken of here, you can be born again, and remember this: The Holy Spirit has not left the earth with the Christians. He still dwells here now.
What you need to do now is accept Jesus in your heart and be born again. Romans chapter 10:9-13 says clearly if you just confess with your mouth that in your own self there is no hope, and you realize you need Jesus to set you free and cleanse your sins to be forgotten, He will hear you and forgive you and the Holy Spirit will come into your life and you will be a new person in Jesus Christ. You will become a tribulation saint.
Realize from this point on that your life will not be an attractive one. Your commitment to Jesus could result in the severest repercussions that you can imagine. Be ready to lose your job, to be persecuted, possibly even tortured and even lose your life. Be prepared to die, it will probably happen!! Ask Jesus to give you strength to face reality and He will.
Endure to the end, Saint. Don’t give up no matter what happens to you. Do not denounce Jesus. Give your life if you have to, but do not denounce Jesus in any way!

4. DISTRIBUTE BIBLES to close friends and family. Hide at least one Bible in a secluded place because Bibles will be hard to come by. Communist agents will be out to burn every bible they can find.
Read the Bible and begin to memorize it. Ask Jesus to help you memorize it. Hide promise scriptures wherever you can: Hebrews chapter10:19-23.
Begin to memorize the entire book of Daniel, the book of Revelation, memorize the 24th chapter of Mathew, the 21st chapter of Luke. These books and verses will help you understand what must take place before the second coming of Jesus.

5. BEWARE OF A WORLD CHURCH. This church is not of God. Do not back this church. It is from Satan himself. Do not associate with any kind of world church. Beware of Communist agents who will play the role of pastor. Beware of any big church movement after the rapture. Ask Jesus for a spirit of discernment.

6. BEWARE OF THE WORLD DICTATOR AND ANYTHING HE SAYS. This anti-Christ will appear upon the scene and become the leader of a ten nation government. He will be an international politician, a worldwide accepted man with all the answers to the world’s problems. He will back the one world church and seem to have an answer for everything, but do not pledge allegiance to this man; if you do, you damn your soul to eternal Hell. Beware of another man called the false prophet. He will more likely lead the one world church. He also will impress the world with his leadership and religious spirit. People will automatically accept him. He will perform many signs and miracles before you, and even raise the dead, but he will support the Anti-Christ and work with him for a one world government. Watch for these two men and do not pledge allegiance to them.
Read about the Anti-Christ in Revelation chapters 13 and 14, Daniel chapters 7 and 11, and read about the false prophet in Revelations chapters 13, 14, and 16.

7. DO NOT accept the mark of the beast (666). The Anti-Christ will control the economic system completely, and he will destroy the money system and install a number system either on your hand or your forehead.
Do not take this mark. If you do, you will be automatically doomed for eternity. Be prepared if you do not take it. You will be tortured or even put to death, but your soul will be saved in the end. You probably won’t be able to buy, sell, or trade anything, but do not take the anti-Christ’s number system. Begin now to ask Jesus for strength and boldness. There will be very rough times ahead.

8. BEWARE OF THE GOLDEN IDOL. The anti-Christ will erect an idol and place it in the temple. Read Daniel chapter 3, Revelation 13:15, Revelation 20:4, and Revelation 15:2.
Stay away from any image created by or for the anti-Christ.

9. STORE UP water, food, and cover, if possible. Move to the mountains and live off the land. Move away from the cities or civilization.

10. BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TRUST. Don’t trust every person who claims they are a Christian. Beware of Communist agents posing as Christians or ministers.

11. STAY IN THE WORD OF GOD. Memorize verses and establish fellowship with true believers.

12 WATCH YOUR GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION. Leave all large nuclear target areas, such as bases, cities, lakes, ship yards, industrial areas, etc.

13. STAY AWAY from earthquake faults.

14. OBTAIN fallout shelter, if possible.

Please Address Any Correspondence To:
P.O. BOX 6266
(661) 325-2251

PDF format available here:

(via Lindsay Beyerstein, Majikthise, April 8, 2006)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Why I Am A Christian

The Chronicle of Higher Education on the cultivation of the Christian mind:

"The campus looks just like the glossy brochure: clean, green, and beautiful. The students are well dressed and well groomed, not a pair of jeans or scrappy goatee in sight. Inside the Commons building, two students engage in a spirited game of Ping-Pong. When one of them misses an easy shot, he cries, "Praise the Lord!"

Pensacola Christian College prides itself on being different, not just from secular colleges, but from fellow Christian ones, too. Some of those differences, like the way students dress, are obvious to any visitor. Others are not. Since its founding, more than 30 years ago, Pensacola has blossomed from a tiny Bible college into a thriving institution of nearly 5,000 students. Along the way it has become known as among the most conservative — and most secretive — colleges in the country.

Not to mention one of the strictest. The rules at Pensacola govern every aspect of students' lives, including the books they read, the shoes they wear, the churches they attend, and the people they date. Many of those regulations are spelled out in a handbook sent to students after they enroll, but there are plenty of unwritten rules as well. Demerits are common and discipline swift.


Lisa Morris was walking to class with her boyfriend last October when something happened. At first Ms. Morris, a sophomore music major, is reluctant to divulge the details. Eventually, however, the truth comes out: He patted her behind.

Someone who witnessed the incident reported Ms. Morris and her boyfriend. At Pensacola any physical contact between members of the opposite sex is forbidden. (Members of the same sex may touch, although the college condemns homosexuality.) The forbidden contact includes shaking hands and definitely includes patting behinds. Both students were expelled.

Of Pensacola's many rules, those dealing with male-female relationships are the most talked about. There are restrictions on when and where men and women may speak to each other. Some elevators and stairwells may be used only by women; others may be used only by men. Socializing on particular benches is forbidden. If a man and a woman are walking to class, they may chat; if they stop en route, though, they may be in trouble. Generally men and women caught interacting in any "unchaperoned area" — which is most of the campus — could be subject to severe penalties.

Those rules extend beyond the campus. A man and a woman cannot go to an off-campus restaurant together without a chaperon (usually a faculty member). Even running into members of the opposite sex off campus can lead to punishment. One student told of how a group of men and a group of women from the college happened to meet at a McDonald's last spring. Both groups were returning from the beach (they had gone to separate beaches; men and women are not allowed to be at the beach together). The administration found out, and all 15 students were expelled.

Even couples who are not talking or touching can be reprimanded. Sabrina Poirier, a student at Pensacola who withdrew in 1997, was disciplined for what is known on the campus as "optical intercourse" — staring too intently into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex. This is also referred to as "making eye babies." While the rule does not appear in written form, most students interviewed for this article were familiar with the concept.

As she tells it, Ms. Poirier was not gazing lovingly at her boyfriend; he had something in his eye. But officials didn't buy her explanation, and she and her boyfriend were both "socialed," she says.

There are three levels of official punishment at Pensacola (four, if you count expulsion). Students can be "socialed," "campused," or "shadowed." Students who are socialed are not allowed to talk to members of the opposite sex for two weeks. Those who are campused may not leave the college grounds for two weeks or speak to other campused students.

Being shadowed is the worst of the three. Shadowed students are assigned to a "floor leader" for several days. A floor leader is a student who is paid by the college and has the power to issue demerits. Shadowed students must attend the floor leader's classes and sleep in the floor leader's room. During this time, the shadowed student is not allowed to talk to anyone but the floor leader. Shadowing is usually a prelude to expulsion.

Ms. Poirier was later told she would be shadowed after being spotted riding in a car in mixed company. She tried to explain that it was an innocent outing, but to no avail. When told she would be shadowed, Ms. Poirier decided to withdraw. "I said 'screw it' and I left," she says.

There are plenty of other ways to run afoul of the rules. Last spring Timothy Dow was caught playing the video game Halo 2. Such games are banned by the college. Movies are also forbidden, including those rated G. Music is restricted to classical or approved Christian ("contemporary Christian" artists are deemed too worldly). Students are allowed to watch television news at 6 o'clock, but that's it. The TVs are controlled by college employees, who flip a switch to black out the commercials, lest students see anything inappropriate.

In the library, books and magazines are censored. One student says she saw a pair of black-marker boxer shorts on a photograph of Michelangelo's David. Any books that students wish to read that are not in the library must first be approved by administrators. Those containing references to "magic," for instance, are normally rejected. The rule book specifically prohibits "fleshly magazines and books."

For playing the video game, Mr. Dow was campused. Later, in the cafeteria, he ran into a friend who had just been expelled. Mr. Dow had been told not to talk to his friend, who had previously been campused. But he figured it would be OK now that his friend was leaving. "I gave him a hug and said, 'See you later, man,'" he says.

Someone witnessed the exchange and turned Mr. Dow in. Students routinely turn each other in for violating rules and are rewarded by the administration for doing so. According to several former students, those who report classmates are more likely to become floor leaders.

Mr. Dow was called to the office of the dean of men, where, he says, he waited for about four hours. Then he was expelled.

Pensacola Christian College is "an idea that came from God," according to its Web site. The college was founded in 1974 by Arlin Horton, who remains its president. It is Baptist but is not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention or any similar organization. Both Mr. Horton and his wife, Rebekah, are graduates of Bob Jones University. While it appears that he copied his alma mater's demerit system and some of its rules, there is a longstanding rift between the two institutions.

Several years ago, Pensacola publicly criticized Bob Jones University for using translations of the Bible other than the King James Version. (Pensacola's policy is that the King James is the only divinely inspired English translation.) A group of Bob Jones faculty members fired off a lengthy letter responding to the attack.

It is true that students at Bob Jones are permitted to consult other English translations of the Bible. In the letter, however, Bob Jones professors objected to the implication that the university was not faithful to the word of God. "PCC appears to be bent on claiming exclusive right to the higher ground of Fundamentalism — in lofty isolation, not only from BJU, but from virtually every other Fundamental Bible college and seminary," they wrote.

A representative of Bob Jones University declined to talk about the bad blood between the colleges.

When Pensacola opened its doors, it had one building and 100 students. Its mission was to offer an education "based on the Christian traditional approach in contrast to the humanistic, progressive systems of education." Since then, as it has grown to nearly 5,000 students, it has built a large, gated campus featuring an art-and-music center with a 140-seat recital hall and recording studio; a 137,000-square-foot sports center with a basketball court, ice-skating rink, 12-lane bowling alley, four-lane jogging track, miniature golf course, and racquetball courts. There is a cafeteria, an on-campus restaurant, and a 300,000-volume library.

The campus also has several computer labs and wireless Internet access, although there is a catch. In the mid-1990s, Pensacola had e-mail and limited Internet access, but it shut the services down after several students started an online newsletter criticizing the college. (Needless to say, the students who created the newsletter were expelled.) Internet access was not restored until last year, and it comes with significant restrictions. There are a few hundred approved Web sites; students must ask permission to visit any other site. Amazon and eBay, for instance, are reportedly not on the approved list. Several students say they leave the campus to surf the Web.

Pensacola's success can be chalked up in part to its reputation. It is known as perhaps the strictest Christian college in the country, one that has criticized Bob Jones, of all places, for being too liberal. For those searching for a college that is more-Christian-than-thou, Pensacola is it. It has found a marketing niche.

But that is not the only reason for its growth. Along with the college, Mr. Horton founded A Beka Books, acknowledged as the largest Christian-textbook company in the world. A Beka sells textbooks to more than 10,000 Christian schools across the country, offering a complete curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade. It has also won a big share of the lucrative home-school market.

The company brings in about $70-million in annual revenue and is valued at $280-million, according to Dun & Bradstreet. A sizable chunk of that revenue goes to support the college, which does not come close to breaking even on its own. According to its 2003 tax filing, the university collected $20-million in tuition and fees and $3-million from contributions. The filing attributes $15-million in income to "royalties," presumably from A Beka.

In the mid-90s, A Beka paid nearly $50-million in back taxes after the Internal Revenue Service ruled that it should have been classified as a for-profit entity. The college itself remains nonprofit.

Revenue from A Beka helps keep costs extremely low. Students pay $6,000 a year for tuition, room, and board. That's about a third or a quarter of what most other Christian colleges cost. When asked what other colleges they considered, Pensacola students often mention Bob Jones, Cedarville University, Northland Baptist Bible College, and Abilene Christian University. Cost is usually cited as the deciding factor.

Just as the textbook company helps support the college, the college helps support the textbook company. Many of Pensacola's students work for A Beka, operating binding equipment, packing books into boxes, loading those boxes onto forklifts. Some students complain about the working conditions; others say it's a good deal. For women, A Beka is usually the only employment option because they are not allowed to hold off-campus jobs. Or leave the campus alone, for that matter.

So Pensacola is strict. Sometimes very strict.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Not really, according to Isaac Blakely. "You get tired of some of the rules, but all in all the rules are not that hard to deal with if you have the right attitude about it," he says.

Mr. Blakely, a senior commercial-art major, had a friend who was socialed for "sitting too close to a girl." One semester Mr. Blakely himself came perilously close to getting kicked out by racking up 118 demerits. (A total of 150 means automatic expulsion.) The demerits were for small offenses, like forgetting to empty his dorm-room trash can or failing to properly clean the sink. Rooms are inspected regularly, and students who do not meet cleanliness standards are given demerits.

Even so, Mr. Blakely is loath to complain. "If PCC didn't put restrictions on us, I would wonder about their standards," he says. "I'm glad they're doing it."

Mena Ghobrial doesn't mind the rules, either. "At first I thought it was too strict, but it helps me concentrate on my studies," says the senior pre-med major. Mr. Ghobrial, who is from Egypt, thinks that some of the restrictions, such as making students sign out when they leave the campus and write down where they are going, help keep them safe.

Others are less enthusiastic about Pensacola's approach. Lisa Daxer transferred to Cedarville from Pensacola. Like other conservative Christian colleges, Cedarville has its share of rules. For instance, students may not drink alcohol on or off the campus, even if they are over 21. They are also forbidden to listen to music that comes with a parental-advisory sticker. Most forms of dancing are banned (ballet is OK).

That's fine with Ms. Daxer, who has no desire to attend a more permissive secular college.

Her problems with Pensacola go beyond the rules. Administrators there equate loyalty to the college with obedience to God in a way she finds objectionable. "They used to say that being at PCC is God's will for our lives," she says. "So walking out of PCC would be breaking God's will for our lives. Then I've heard them say that you might end up dying because God can't use you anymore."

Darrell Dow has heard much the same thing. "There is this idea that if you go against us, you're going against God," he says. Mr. Dow graduated from Pensacola in 2003 with a degree in computer science, but by then he already felt disillusioned. (Timothy Dow, who was kicked out for hugging a recently expelled friend, is Darrell Dow's cousin.) He says because rules can be "made up on the spot," it seems impossible to abide by all of them. "There's a feeling of helplessness and a spirit of fear," he says. "Not to put too fine a point on it, but there's a very 1984 feel to the place."

Matthew Arnold agrees. He graduated from Pensacola in 1998 with a degree in commercial art and graphic design; his younger sister attends the college "going against all the advice I ever gave," he says. Mr. Arnold is active in an online forum for former students, where many complain about the college and trade their best, or worst, stories. Some even call themselves "survivors" of the institution. Others, though, temper their criticism with fond regard.

Mr. Arnold argues that because the college claims that its authority comes directly from God, students who feel mistreated are put in an extremely awkward position. There is another, more practical fear as well, he says: Getting kicked out might mean starting over because other colleges might not accept unaccredited Pensacola's credits. "You live in terror of losing all the money you've put into the college," he says.

When Adam Peters enrolled at Pensacola, he believed that "the Lord wanted me to go there." But last fall he accumulated 111 demerits and was asked to sit out for a semester. Mr. Peters, a junior majoring in Bible studies, says he has started "to see a lot of the weaknesses" in Pensacola's system. "I can't shut my eyes to those, even though there are strengths," he says.

From his perspective, there are indeed strengths. Christianity is woven throughout the curriculum. Creationism is taught in science courses. Classes begin with a prayer. Along with mandatory chapel services, students must attend the campus church three times every week; they are not allowed to go to another church unless they are from the Pensacola area, and even then they need special permission. Mandatory small-group prayer meetings are held in the evenings.

A strong Christian emphasis is part of what Mr. Peters wanted in a college. But he has become disturbed by how Pensacola exerts its considerable power over students' lives. He is also bothered by how many of his friends have left the college. "One day they're there, and the next it's like, 'Where's Samantha? Oh, she got kicked out,'" he says. "They won't spell things out, and then they'll yank you. There's not always a lot of mercy there." (Thomas Bartlett, "A College That's Strictly Different," The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 24, 2006).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Deep Play: Notes on the Bourgeois Cockfight

Excerpts from two reviews of Will Blythe's book, "To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry."

First, Edward Cone's review of the book :

"[Blythe's book is the] best book about loving a team since Fred Exley's "A Fan's Notes," just not quite so grim.


The narrative at the center of the book recounts last year's national championship run by the Tar Heels. Blythe goes to practices, talks to players and coaches, watches games on TV and in person. His personality sketches are deft, his action sequences exciting, and his writer's eye sharp. Here he is on Carolina's star big man, Sean May: "For a player of his bulk, May had a surprisingly delicate touch. Watching him shoot was akin to watching a bear dine on salmon with a knife and fork."

Wrapped around this story is the rivalry with Duke, its history and folkways and implications for all concerned. Blythe interviews coach Mike Krzyzewski and star player J.J. Redick, and even watches a game at the home of the Blue Devil fan known as Crazy Towel Guy, who forces him to high-five whenever Duke scores a three-pointer. His interviews are smart and fair -- this would be the "occasionally unbiased" part from the subtitle -- and he finds himself liking these guys more than he might want.

Woven through the text are knowing asides based on a deep understanding of ACC basketball and the schools that play it, the kind of thing that comes from watching for decades. Take this quick brush-off of N.C. State, which once vied for supremacy with the Tar Heels. "Now, decades past their glory years and filled with class resentment, the Wolfpack fans howled with fury every time Carolina came to town. UNC was the lover that had moved on and up, State the dumpee that had downsized into a dumpy apartment, where he spent the weekend microwaving frozen dinners and watching network TV."

All of the above is written by Will Blythe, celebrated magazine journalist, former literary editor of Esquire, contributor to the New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker. But there is another Will Blythe in the book: "the beast," the atavistic uber-fan, the competitor, hatred personified. Blythe thought he might have left the beast behind by middle-age, but no; "I am a sick, sick man," the book begins. "Not only am I consumed by hatred, I am delighted by it." Eventually he interviews an expert on Buddhism to gauge the possible spiritual toll of his hatred for Duke.

Beast and journalist argue as they finish the interview with Coach K, for whom the beast has a litany of rude questions. "The beast was leering at me in a way I didn't much care for," writes Blythe of this inner conflict. "He bordered on insolent." Indeed, after Blythe sticks to his polite script, the beast calls the journalist a name we cannot print in this newspaper -- the same epithet, by chance, that Krzyzewski himself once applied to Redick after a wimpy performance.

Later, when Duke takes a seemingly insurmountable lead in the end-of-season game at the Dean Dome:

"Damn," the beast said.

"Darn," the journalist said, nodding his stunned head in agreement.

All of this stuff is told in a witty, discursive style, like the stories of a smart and somewhat obsessive friend talking far into the night at a bar, and tied seamlessly into Blythe's upbringing and relationship to his family and his lapsed Presbyterianism and failed marriage and the memories of what his late father taught him about this state and its people ("We are modest and immoderately proud of that modesty, a somewhat paradoxical condition"), which reminded me a lot of what my late father taught me about such things.

Let me stress that this is not just a book for Carolina fans. The depth of Blythe's fandom and the skill of his writing make it work for any reader, and much will be recognizable to fans of other teams, too. The way Blythe's mother can't relax, for instance, even when Carolina is torching an outmanned Virginia team by 50 points.

"Mama, they're not going to lose this game. Trust me.''

"I'm glad you're so confident."

"I think we're going to make it."

"Hush," she said.

When it was all over, my mother said, "That wasn't too bad."

Carolina had squeaked by, 110-76.

Then there is Blythe watching an early-season game against Indiana on TV at his girlfriend's apartment. First he orders her son to quit hitting him in the back of the head with a soccer ball, but when Indiana mounts a comeback, Blythe knows what he must do.

Sitting stock-still was no longer working. At moments of extremity, it always seemed wise to tinker with Karma. Move things around a bit, change the narrative.

"Harry," I called. "Get in here. And bring that ball."

"Do you want me to hit you in the head again?" Harry asked. He was a very intuitive boy.

"Yes," I said. "Fire away."

This immediately paid dividends. Sean May put in two free throws...

It's all in here, from Frank McGuire and Vic Bubas to a visit from Michael Jordan, an encounter with Dick Vitale, a gentle post-mortem on the career of Shavlik Randolph, a subplot about a star who never quite shone at Chapel Hill, Melvin Scott, and an explanation of the Triassic geology of eastern North Carolina.

This is not a perfect book. It could use another edit, for example, to remove some odd repetitions. And even though Blythe confesses to -- hell, celebrates -- the perception of class difference between the Duke and Carolina fans, I found his Duke-hating xenophobia a little heavy-handed. The essence of Duke's star of the early '60s, Art Heyman, seems to Blythe to be wrapped up with his New York Jewishness, his otherness, while New York Jews like Larry Brown are just great Carolina players.

Then again, that skewed prism and willful unevenhandedness make for a good part of this book's appeal." (, March 6, 2006).

Second, Franklin Foer on Blythe:

"[Blythe] passionately supports North Carolina, and just as rabidly despises Duke. He describes the Dukies' "Nuremberg-rally cheers." The Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K), is "The Rat. Ratface. . . . Satan. The Evil One." When the crowd at a Duke basketball game explodes, he hopes that it might really explode — "you know, blue-painted body parts shooting through the air, cheerleaders spiraling above the city of Durham, all those obnoxious students and that out-of-state arrogance disappearing in one bright blast."

Blythe spends a lot of time hyping the Tobacco Road rivalry as the greatest in sport — a bit too much time, if you ask me, or Red Sox and Yankees fans, or supporters of Michigan and Ohio State football, or anyone who has watched a European soccer derby. But he is, by all objective measures of sporting bile, not far from the mark. These two programs are the hugely successful aristocracy of their sport. They reside within eight miles of each other, a proximity that obviously heightens the ill will. "We share the same dry cleaners," Coach K has explained. There's also a sociological subtext to their games that eludes most outsiders: where North Carolina is a public university and draws heavily from within the state, Duke is private, endowed by tobacco money and heavily populated by imports from the Northeast. At least that's Blythe's partisan understanding.

For an entire season — the glorious 2004-5 championship season, as it turns out — Blythe returns to live with his mother and follow his Tar Heels. He isn't just searching for a pretext to turn his all-consuming passion into a book advance. Hovering over the book — and clearly his prime motive for writing it — is his recently departed father. (In an opening scene, the minister who just presided over his father's funeral continually whispers basketball scores to Blythe.) His dad loved the state of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina, where he taught, but his curmudgeonly character prevented him from joining his son in his highly irrational fandom. And his father considered Blythe's emigration to New York City an act of betrayal. Blythe never explicitly spells out how this book will help him mourn — and there are long stretches where his father doesn't appear. But if I had to guess, Blythe wants to use the book to explain his basketball obsession to his father, to show how, at his core, he shares precisely the same passions and values.

Fans of college basketball will wish that all sportswriters possessed Blythe's ability to describe a game, to translate its tension and render its action. (Writing about the Duke sharpshooter J. J. Redick, he says, "When he missed, North Carolina fans felt spared an execution, as if they'd already been standing blindfolded in front of the wall when the last-minute reprieve came in from the governor.") They will enjoy his impeccable miniature profiles of the corporate conservative Coach K and his longtime liberal Carolina counterpart, Dean Smith. (Do my descriptions inadvertently reveal just how effectively Blythe has spun me?) Blythe tells much of the season's story through a backup North Carolina guard named Melvin Scott, who began his career as one of the most sought-after high school players in the country. We watch Scott suffer through the dashed expectations and travel with him to his childhood home in the Baltimore ghetto.

Fortunately, Blythe goes far beyond the facile John Feinstein "inside a season" formula. As promised in the title, he uses the rivalry to explicate the nature of hatred — "paddling up the Nile of my Duke hatred, looking for its source." In this quest, he visits the Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman and meditates on the 19th-century English essayist William Hazlitt. But Blythe provides no dazzling insights into the universality of hatred, let alone its presence in sports. And that's hardly a fault. Rather than formulate broad conclusions, he sticks to the peculiarities of the Carolina Piedmont and his own biography. This leads him to digress on Southern Presbyterianism — whose cool Calvinist tendency leads white North Carolinians to seek more effusive spiritual outlets, like basketball — and the suburbanization of his state — which leads North Carolinians to seek authentic emotional experiences, like basketball. He pulls off these generalizations because he writes amusingly, self-deprecatingly and often beautifully.

Only one part of the book grows tiresome. He keeps returning to a colorful cast of eccentrics, whose entire existences are consumed by the rivalry — we meet, for instance, a Duke supporter named Crazy Towel Guy and an Episcopal priest whose obsessive collecting of Carolina paraphernalia culminates in his divorce. None of this feels fresh, however vividly Blythe depicts his subjects. From Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" to Warren St. John's "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer," the crazed fan has received his fair share of attention — and then some." [Franklin Foer, "Tobacco Road Rage," The New York Times, April 2, 2006).