A tale of three professors, all women, all of Asian descent

In the wake of Yale’s firing of Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist[1] who felt it her duty to warn of the danger that Donald Trump did indeed pose in multiple ways,[2] apparently at the behest of, of all people, Alan Dershowitz,[3] came news that Yale Law School had taken away a small group class from Amy Chua, who though popular with students, is also controversial, partly because of accusations leveled at her husband. The accusations against Chua largely smack of hearsay,[4] not the sort of evidence you’d expect a law school to admit. Read more

  1. [1]Len Gutkin, “Shared Psychosis; Academic Psychiatry; Academic Freedom,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 5, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/newsletter/chronicle-review/2021-04-05
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/; David Benfell, “In service to a psychotic delusional raging narcissist,” Not Housebroken, April 5, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/04/05/in-service-to-a-psychotic-delusional-raging-narcissist/
  3. [3]Len Gutkin, “Shared Psychosis; Academic Psychiatry; Academic Freedom,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 5, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/newsletter/chronicle-review/2021-04-05
  4. [4]Tom Bartlett, “A Yale Law Prof Was Disciplined for Holding Dinner Parties. There’s More to the Story,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-yale-law-prof-was-disciplined-for-holding-dinner-parties-theres-more-to-the-story

The genocidal cost of cynicism

See update for April 24, 2021, at end of post.


I don’t doubt that the Ottoman Empire’s killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenia civilians was genocide and will certainly agree if, indeed, Joe Biden declares it so.[1] What strikes me is 1) Turkey’s longstanding refusal to atone,[2] and 2) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s nationalist embrace of the empire, which along with the Austro-Hungarian empire disintegrated in the wake of World War I.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Lara Jakes, “Biden Preparing to Declare That Atrocities Against Armenia Were Genocide,” New York Times, April 21, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/us/politics/biden-armenia-genocide-turkey.html
  2. [2]Zachary Basu, “Senate passes Armenian genocide bill in move likely to infuriate Turkey,” Axios, December 12, 2019, https://www.axios.com/armenian-genocide-resolution-senate-turkey-1931783f-88e2-41c8-a488-91d9049be529.html; David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (New York: Owl, 1989); Lara Jakes, “Biden Preparing to Declare That Atrocities Against Armenia Were Genocide,” New York Times, April 21, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/us/politics/biden-armenia-genocide-turkey.html
  3. [3]David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (New York: Owl, 1989).

The ideology of ‘competition’ and higher education

See update for April 28, 2021, at end of post.


The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is a case study in the deteriorating finances of higher education. The problems are exacerbated with an anti-intellectual state legislature and a fragmentation that puts PASSHE colleges in competition[1] with universities such as the “state-related” but actually private University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) and the public Pennsylvania State University.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Lee Gardner, “A System Leader Sells His Vision for Remaking Public Higher Ed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 21, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-system-leader-sells-his-vision-for-remaking-public-higher-ed
  2. [2]Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Board of Education, “Master Plan for Higher Education,” September 2005, https://www.stateboard.education.pa.gov/Documents/Research%20Reports%20and%20Studies/Master%20Plan%20final.pdf

Capitalists are shameless in their entitlement

See updates through May 10, 2021, at end of post.


This has been bouncing around my Twitter newsfeed for a few days now:


The replies note that restaurants often refuse to pay a living wage or offer benefits. Restaurant workers are often subject to “tipped minimum wage,” which, depending on jurisdiction, can be as low as $2.13 per hour. In New Mexico, where this particular Sonic is located, tips can count for a maximum of $7.95 per hour toward a minimum wage of $10.50. I write this from Pennsylvania, where tips can count for up to $4.42 per hour toward a minimum wage of $7.25.[1] It has been the case for quite some time now that minimum wage doesn’t pay rent anywhere in the U.S.,[2] but Congress failed to pass a raise to $15 earlier this year.[3] Prior to the pandemic, Dean Baker calculated that, had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity, it would be $24 per hour.[4] Read more

  1. [1]Department of Labor, “Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees,” January 1, 2021, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state/minimum-wage/tipped
  2. [2]Kate Gibson, “Minimum wage doesn’t cover the rent anywhere in the U.S.,” CBS News, June 14, 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/minimum-wage-doesnt-cover-the-rent-anywhere-in-the-u-s/
  3. [3]Burgess Everett, “8 Democrats defect on $15 minimum wage hike,” Politico, March 5, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/05/democrats-15-minimum-wage-hike-473875
  4. [4]Dean Baker, “This is What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace with Productivity,” Center for Economic and Policy Research, January 21, 2020, https://cepr.net/this-is-what-minimum-wage-would-be-if-it-kept-pace-with-productivity/

Safety for gun nuts

See update for April 18, 2021, at end of post.


So Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto posted the sort of anodyne response to a mass shooting in Indianapolis that’s expected, to which Matthew Shipton replied,


Peduto parried weakly, responding that he’d grown up with guns and been trained in them. And to which my own comment was, Read more

At the point of a gun

See updates through April 25, 2021, at end of post.


Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police are offering up the same excuse for killing Daunte Wright[1] that San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police offered for the killing of Oscar Grant, specifically that the killer cop mistook her gun for her taser.[2] Read more

  1. [1]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Daunte Wright shooting: Officer ‘mistook gun for Taser,’” April 13, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56724798
  2. [2]Erin Baldassari, “Oscar Grant: BART’s internal investigation reveals cops’ roles in fatal shooting,” San Jose Mercury News, May 1, 2019, https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/05/01/oscar-grant-barts-internal-investigation-reveals-cops-roles-in-fatal-shooting/; Matt McKinney, “Cases in which a service pistol is mistaken for a Taser are rare,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 12, 2021, https://www.startribune.com/cases-in-which-a-service-pistol-is-mistaken-for-a-taser-are-rare/600045269/

In the 21st century, labor unions are in a very deep hole

Amazon managed to persuade its workers in Bessemer, Alabama, to vote against unionizing. Its tactics in doing so skirted and may have violated laws meant to ensure that workers have a right to collective bargaining and a fair shot at asserting that right.[1] I am, of course, disappointed. Amazon is one of many employers, some of which deny they’re even employers, that make low wage work abusive; this evil is vast and well-documented.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Sarah Jones, “Amazon Defeats Union Drive in Alabama,” New York, April 9, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/04/amazon-has-the-votes-to-defeat-union-effort-in-alabama.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Time for the gig economy to grow up,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/30/time-for-the-gig-economy-to-grow-up/; David Benfell, “The expendable worker,” Not Housebroken, July 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/05/the-expendable-worker/; David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/; Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips; Jessa Crispin, “Amazon is a disaster for workers. Nomadland glosses over that,” Guardian, March 23, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/23/amazon-nomadland-film-jeff-bezos-disaster-workers; Daniel D’Addario, “Amazon is worse than Walmart,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/control/2013/07/30/how_amazon_is_worse_than_wal_mart/; Timothy Egan, “The Corporate Daddy,” New York Times, June 19, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/timothy-egan-walmart-starbucks-and-the-fight-against-inequality.html; Josh Eidelson, “Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint,” Salon, November 19, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/18/breaking_wal_mart_faces_warehouse_horror_allegations_and_federal_labor_board_complaint/; Josh Eidelson, “Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart,” Salon, November 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/11/30/tens_of_thousands_protest_over_100_arrested_in_black_friday_challenge_to_wal_mart/; Josh Eidelson, “Finally paying for Wal-Mart’s sins: Wage theft settlement yields millions,” Salon, December 16, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/12/16/finally_paying_for_wal_marts_sins_wage_theft_settlement_yields_millions/; Josh Eidelson, “Freezing for Wal-Mart: Sub-zero warehouse temperatures spur Indiana work stoppage,” Salon, January 14, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/01/13/freezing_for_wal_mart_sub_zero_warehouse_temperatures_spur_indiana_work_stoppage/; Josh Eidelson, “Amazon Keeps Unions Out By Keeping Workers in Fear, Says Organizer,” Alternet, January 22, 2014, https://www.alternet.org/2014/01/amazon-keeps-unions-out-keeping-workers-fear-says-organizer/; Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed (New York: Owl, 2001); Nichole Gracely, “‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon,’” Guardian, November 28, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon; Steven Greenhouse, “The Changing Face of Temporary Employment,” New York Times, August 31, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/upshot/the-changing-face-of-temporary-employment.html; Erin Hatton, “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/the-rise-of-the-permanent-temp-economy/; Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/; Paul Jaskunas, “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” New York Times, February 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/jobs/the-tyranny-of-the-forced-smile.html; Allison Kilkenny, “Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees,” Nation, November 18, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/ohio-walmart-holds-food-drive-its-own-employees/; Ken Klippenstein, “Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles and Even Defecate En Route, Despite Company Denial,” Intercept, March 25, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/03/25/amazon-drivers-pee-bottles-union/; Paul Krugman, “The Plight of the Employed,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-plight-of-the-employed/; Paul Krugman, “The Fear Economy,” New York Times, December 26, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/krugman-the-fear-economy.html; Danielle Kurtzleben, “Read McDonald’s workers’ shocking harassment and discrimination complaints — and why they’re so important,” Vox, January 22, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7873661/mcdonalds-lawsuit-harassment-discrimination; Colin Lecher, “How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity,’” Verge, April 25, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516004/amazon-warehouse-fulfillment-centers-productivity-firing-terminations; Edward McClelland, “You call this a middle class? “I’m trying not to lose my house,’” Salon, March 1, 2014, https://www.salon.com/test/2014/03/01/you_call_this_a_middle_class_i%E2%80%99m_trying_not_to_lose_my_house/; Mac McClelland, “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave,” Mother Jones, March/April 2012, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor/; Patrick McGreevy and Suhauna Hussain, “California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-14/california-lawsuit-amazon-workplace-conditions-covid-19; Nathaniel Mott, “From Amazon warehouse workers to Google bus drivers, it’s tough working a non-tech job at a tech company,” Pando, October 9, 2014, https://pando.com/2014/10/09/from-amazon-warehouse-workers-to-google-bus-drivers-its-tough-working-a-non-tech-job-at-a-tech-company/; Ari Rabin-Havt, “Wal-Mart flunks its fact-check: The truth behind its sarcastic response to the Times,” Salon, June 25, 2014, https://www.salon.com/control/2014/06/25/walmart_flunks_its_fact_check_the_truth_behind_its_sarcastic_response_to_the_times/; José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686; Lia Russell, “The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare,” New Republic, January 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare; Michael Sainato, “‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse,” Guardian, February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-workers-protest-unsafe-grueling-conditions-warehouse; Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/; Alex Seitz-Wald, “Amazon is everything wrong with our new economy,” Salon, July 30, 2013, https://www.salon.com/test/2013/07/30/amazon_is_everything_wrong_with_our_new_economy/; Alana Semuels, “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-harsh-work-20130407-story.html; Alana Semuels, “How the relationship between employers and workers changed,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Alana Semuels, “Tougher workplace makes home life worse too,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2013, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2013-apr-07-la-fi-mo-harsh-work-history-20130405-story.html; Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam, “As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic,” Washington Post, March 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/16/uber-lyft-unemployment-benefits/; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” Lehigh Valley Morning Call, September 18, 2011, https://www.mcall.com/business/mc-xpm-2011-09-18-mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917-story.html; Matt Stieb, “Amazon Called Out for Denying Workers Go to Bathroom in Bottles,” New York, March 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/amazon-called-out-for-denying-that-workers-pee-in-bottles.html; Lindsay Wise, “Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.,” McClatchy, September 2, 2014, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24772543.html

I do not mourn Hans Küng alone

This is a loss. Hans Küng died Tuesday (April 6, 2021).[1] At least one[2] of the unread books on my shelves is by him. Another, his work on Islam,[3] featured in the comprehensive examinations for my Masters’ degree (in lieu of a thesis). Read more

  1. [1]Times, “Hans Küng obituary,” April 8, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hans-kueng-obituary-qvfd5wprl
  2. [2]Hans Küng, The Catholic Church (New York: Modern Library, 2003).
  3. [3]Hans Küng, Islam: Past, Present and Future, (Oxford, UK: Oneworld, 2007).

Hate, Pittsburgh Style

Something that caught my eye in Nan Levinson’s absolutely outstanding article on white supremacy in the military was this: “As an Army captain emailed me, ‘The military recruits heavily from the same population that extremist organizations do — socially isolated, downwardly mobile, and economically vulnerable young men.’” She also notes “a larger ‘cultural project’ that, however unexamined, is aimed at creating an ever-more-militarized (which also means an ever-more-extreme) society,” in which “war is sold, not just as acceptable, but as necessary to maintain the vaunted American way of life.”[1] Read more

  1. [1]Nan Levinson, “The Far Right in Uniform,” TomDispatch, April 6, 2021, https://tomdispatch.com/the-far-right-in-uniform/

In service to a psychotic delusional raging narcissist

Sadly, Bandy Lee’s The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump[1] is one of many books that sits on my shelf, unread, because I’m so busy trying to keep my head above water driving for Uber and Lyft that I cannot take time to catch up on reading that I’ve thought important.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Bandy Lee, ed., The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump (New York: Saint Martin’s, 2017).
  2. [2]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/