Goon University shot their wad

Would you believe that a two week course in a rented building led by a team of conservative wankers was the majestic peak of intellectual achievement this summer? Bari Weiss thinks so.

They’ve reached their peak so soon. It’s all downhill from here.


  1. says

    The “forbidden courses program?” Did I hear that right? If so, they at least did a clever trick slipping such awesome pretentiousness under the radar.

    Other than that, it’s the same overt pretentiousness about how they’re challenging (unspecified) beliefs and leading “free inquiry” (into unspecified subjects) and having civil discussions (about unspecified issues, leading to unspecified if any agreement/conclusions) and yada-fookin-yada without really saying anything specific about what wunnerful new “innovations” they were actually bringing to any table. Like, a Trump campaigner and a BLM campaigner got together and had a civil discussion…about what, exactly? And what agreement, if any, did this civil discussion lead to?

  2. René says

    No effing idea what a wad is. Merriam-Webster isn’t at all helpfull. I conjecture ‘alaqah’.

  3. PaulBC says

    It was my understanding that “shot your wad” originally referred to a “wad of cash.” I.e., a gambler spent all their money on a (usually losing) bet. I agree it sounds like some other things.

    Actually I remember Carl Sagan getting in trouble with a female listener for using this expression in a call-in radio interview. I don’t know when that was or where I was living at the time. He seemed to find it amusing and was probably aware of the potential for misunderstanding (kind of an asshole move).

  4. PaulBC says

    me@5 Since Carl Sagan died in 1996, I can conclude that I was living in Baltimore. It was probably a show on WAMU. I will (probably) resist the urge to dig any deeper.

  5. PaulBC says

    myeck waters@7 The late Senator Orrin Hatch will explain for the youngsters out there (and somebody shoot me, not their wad, if I ever cite Hatch as an authority again).

    Kids today, what can I tell you? They probably don’t even remember the joy of playing for money in a pinch-back suit or how to cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen.

    Also, I suspect some of the confusion is coming from those abroad who may be unacquainted with our vernacular.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    Shotgun Wads

    The term “wad” refers to a component of a shotgun shell that is used to separate the shot from the powder, contain the shotgun shot, and provide a seal that prevents gas from blowing through the shot rather than propelling the shot out of the shotgun. The shotgun shell has a plastic case and after firing the shotgun, the case remains in the shotgun and is manually discharged by the operator, while the wad leaves the gun along with the shot.

    Not as much fun though.

  7. PaulBC says

    Reginald Selkirk@9 Yes, that does seem to be the correct origin, so I’m also wrong about “wad of cash” though it is what I thought until today. I imagine people have said it without actually knowing what it originally meant.

  8. René says

    @8, Paul

    those abroad who may be unacquainted with our vernacular.

    Yes. I would appreciate if y’all would take that more in consideration, since I think PZ’s is one of the most international blogs on the interwebs.

  9. raven says

    What is shotgun wad made of?
    So what is a shotgun “wad”? It’s the part of a shotgun shell that keeps the shot (pellets) together but separate from the powder. The wad also creates a seal that prevents gas from blowing through the shot allowing a more consistent discharge. Until the 1970s, shotgun wads were made of paper or cardboard.Feb 1, 2019

    The Plastic Problem of Shotgun Wads | NEC

    I wasn’t too sure what the wad was either although I vaguely remember it had something to do with old style guns. They were originally paper but are now…plastic.

  10. says

    The term, as I understand it, came from firearms — with old guns, you’d load the gunpowder, then tamp down some paper or fabric wadding, then the bullet. In the case of rifles, the wad would also make the bullet fit more snugly in the barrel.
    “shooting your wad” was a bad thing. It meant you’d neglected to stuff an actual hunk of lead in there, so all you were firing down range was a fluttering bit of scorched wadding. It’s about futility.
    It acquired other meanings, like spending all your money gambling, or the sexual one.
    I’m kind of weirded out that all anybody wants to talk about here is slang.

  11. PaulBC says

    PZ@13 It’s just a matter of what stands out as unusual.

    Would you believe that a two week course in a rented building led by a team of conservative wankers was the majestic peak of intellectual achievement this summer

    Uh, yes. Or at least I would believe that they would claim it as that. Wankers gonna wank?

    On the other hand, the use of an expression with declining popularity and potential for misunderstanding… that’s always worth talking about.

  12. Tethys says

    If you put a double entendre in the title of the OP, people are going to discuss the sexual connotations. The international audience is just being a pedant, y’all. ( ye-gij-ihr)

    There really isn’t much to say about the failed ‘University’. It was always a grift. I’m glad it went nowhere.

  13. whheydt says

    Re: PZ Myers @ #13…
    What’s more… Blanks (that is, a shell casing with powder but no actual bullet) include wadding to help them go Bang! instead of Foosh! At close range, the wadding can be deadly, as was the case some years ago when a not-very-bright actor shot himself in the head and died because the gun was “only” loaded with blanks. The wadding penetrated his skull.

  14. says

    I believe cannon had “wads” first. They were rammed down wet to extinguish sparks and also acted as a gas-seal because cannon balls were not precisely sized, and blowby could make the ball spin (and then it would fly like a curve-ball). In early muskets I believe the same thing was called a “patch”.

  15. whheydt says

    Re: Marcus Ranum @ #17…
    So far as I know, the crew of a cannon (at least in Naval usage) used wet sponge to put out any lingering embers in the barrel before the next powder charge was loaded. But, yes, sponge, powder, wadding, rammer, shot (possibly double or even triple shot and varieties, such as chain, or canister). Chain was used against the opponents rigging or crew. Canister was a kind of like a shotgun shell and was anti-personnel.

  16. bcw bcw says

    My belief is that two meanings exist, the gun reference and the wad of cash. It’s possible the second meaning came about by misunderstanding the word but both are in use.

    “In some current American slang it is a reference to male ejaculation; however the phrase has a very long history covering most of the time that muskets have been in use up to the present. The wad is a piece of paper put in the muzzle along with the projectile and gun powder. If the shooter is too hasty — say in a tense battle — they may not include the projectile. The result is a fire without the intended bullet; only the wad will fly out…a wasted shot. Hence, “shooting your wad” can mean expending your energy fruitlessly. The OED also references the wad as in a roll of paper money; in this case “shooting your wad” means blowing all your cash at once.”

  17. PaulBC says

    @19 PZ’s reference to “conservative wankers” may also have tipped the interpretation a little in one direction. I am pretty sure the first time I ever heard it used, I was in my 20s and it did sound like a reference to ejaculation. Later I somehow came along to the view that it was a “wad” of cash but I don’t know when or how. It was before I would have had a search engine to look it up.

    Obligatory on-topic note.

    They’ve reached their peak so soon. It’s all downhill from here.

    We’ll see if we’ve really reached peak wanker. All it takes is rich assholes with money and this can go on indefinitely. It already does in rightwing so-called “think” tanks. Expanding to fake universities is a natural step and they don’t have to make money or offer meaningful diplomas.

  18. indianajones says

    It’s all given away at the 43-45 second section. ‘You treat everyone with respect’. No! Ya don’t! It’s not a bad starting place for any given discussion but after a little while, after some facts have been unearthed? I do not treat anti-vaxxers with respect. I treat them with contempt and horror.

    It’s like the thing that juries are supposed to be neutral. They start that way ideally sure, but the whole point is to form a conclusion from the evidence. Not to then keep on ‘treating with respect’ no matter what.