Monday, November 30, 2015

"Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican friar and scholastic theologian, reputedly levitated during rap sessions with the Virgin Mary."

From "Five Fusty Excerpts from Archaic 'Nonfiction' Texts" by Julia Elliott, in Electric Lit:

Aquinas also gives us the dirt on angelic sin and demons. In this English translation of “Reply to Objection 6” or “Whether the angels exercise functions of life in the bodies assumed,” he answers the burning question: can an incubus knock up a mortal woman?

"Still if some are occasionally begotten from demons, it is not from the seed of such demons, nor from their assumed bodies, but from the seed of men taken for the purpose; as when the demon assumes first the form of a woman, and afterwards of a man; just as they take the seed of other things for other generating purposes . . . , so that the person born is not the child of a demon, but of a man."

A return to the asylum?

In The New York Review of Books, Aryeh Neier and David J. Rothman write:

Although few people are satisfied with the quality of mental health services in the US, it is still startling to find physicians and psychiatrists enthusiastically calling for a return to asylums. One might think that the grim history of confinement would have precluded such advocacy. Whether in popular imagination (think of The Snake Pit or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), historical literature (Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization), or legislation (exemplified by the Americans with Disabilities Act), the asylum seemed to represent yesterday’s nightmare.

Nevertheless, last winter, The Journal of the American Medical Association ran an editorial titled in part “Bring Back the Asylum,”1 and a few weeks later, a New York Times Op-Ed piece endorsed it.2 In this same spirit, Massachusetts recently invested $300 million in a new mental hospital, the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital. Are the failures of community services so extreme and beyond repair as to justify recreating asylums?

Nejer and Rothman concede the shameful inadequacy of the current state of affairs, where the mentally ill often wind up in prison or on the street. But they argue:

Still, returning to the days of the asylum would be an egregious mistake. As daunting as it is to assure quality of care in community settings, it is far more difficult to assure that people will be treated decently in closed institutions. To assert, as the authors of the JAMA commentary did, that the asylum was “a protected place where safety, sanctuary, and long-term care” was provided and that “it is time to build them—again” is to turn a blind eye to the established facts of asylum life. To give asylums priority over community settings would send the unmistakable message that the disabled are first and foremost a public hazard, best managed by incarceration. As stingy as legislators may be in providing for facilities in communities—whether in families, adult homes, or private apartments—they are still more stingy in appropriations for sealed-off institutions. Out of sight is out of mind. The likelihood that asylums will be adequately funded and monitored is low, and none of their proponents has suggested policies that might produce a different outcome.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Praise the Lord. The new Carolina Way revealed."

Gene Nichol of the University of North Carolina is distressed that his university has spent over $10 million on public relations consultants and lawyers to deal with its academic and athletic scandals.

HT University Diaries (who notes that Penn State has paid out over nine times that much.)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Stand aside for the pet chauffeur

"But on June 6, 2013, the university reimbursed him (Rich Pitino) more than $2,200 for having a company drive his dog nonstop from Miami to the Twin Cities."

No disciplinary actions against students who occupied president's office

At Princeton. Here at the University of Minnesota, the president is still hopping mad.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from the Richard Nixon Library

Putting the puppets back in their box

In the Duluth News Tribune, an unedited version of a story that originally appeared in the Strib:

The emails the university released also offer a glimpse at efforts by university leaders to manage the flow of information to the public and the media in the days after Teague’s resignation. In one email to the university’s communications staff, chief of staff Amy Phenix decries statements (Board of Regents Chair) Dean Johnson made in media interviews that she says were “simply not true,” such as saying university leadership had become aware of “red flags” when Teague was selected for the job. Phenix suggested Johnson should start consulting with then-communications director Chuck Tombarge before responding to interview requests and then receive preparation from communications staff.

“We wouldn’t let EWK go out there without sufficient facts and prep time,” Phenix wrote referring to Kaler, “and we shouldn’t let the Chair of the Board do so either.”

And in The Minnesota Daily: 

“I think he (Dean Johnson) simply needs to not make a decision about responding to media calls without first talking to [University spokesman Chuck Tombarge], and, if all agree he should respond, he has to get messages from us and be prepped,” she said in the email.