Those DEI wokesters are canceling again

Look at this lovely building on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.

That’s Nicholson Hall, named after a university professor and administrator in the 1930s & 40s. There is a campaign in the works to rename the building, and also several other buildings on campus, for some unfathomable reason.

1. Nicholson repeatedly controlled and often suppressed the open exchange of ideas on campus that as Dean of Student Affairs he was obligated to protect.
2. Nicholson created a secret political surveillance system at the university and covertly shared information about students and faculty.
3. Nicholson brought disrepute to the University by using his stature as a highly visible University administrator to advance partisan political ends outside the University.
4. Nicholson, while serving as a dean, sought to influence the selection of Regents for his own political ends, a gross conflict of interest and duty as a neutral University administrator.
We call for the removal of Edward Nicholson’s name because we support the University of Minnesota’s commitment to honor those whose behavior is consistent with the University’s mission and guiding principles, maintain the integrity of the University and enhance its reputation, upholding thereby the high principles of our state and university. We likewise support the University of Minnesota’s commitment to revoke any naming inconsistent with these values. As scholars of Jewish Studies as well as other fields, we share a deep commitment to recognizing and analyzing the immense cost to religious and racial minorities at the hands of those in power in societies that have oppressed them. Some of our scholarship and teaching focuses on leftist and progressive movements, ideas and activism that are a powerful strand in modern Jewish history and were openly and unrelentingly attacked by Edward Nicholson. We are all too aware of what happened to Jews, minorities, and political dissenters throughout the world when state and institutional power was used against them and their allies. We are also attuned to the social and political conditions under which civic life flourishes and has been most successful in assuring the rights of religious and racial minorities.
The University of Minnesota has committed itself to educate for and foster a democratic and pluralist civil society committed to the very openness that Edward Nicholson worked assiduously to undermine.

Oh. Anti-semitic authoritarian who tried to manipulate the university to support conservative/racist political goals? I guess that is a pretty good reason to stop honoring him with a building name. Especially considering that building now houses the Center for Jewish Studies.

Other buildings those woke rascals are going after include Coffman Hall. I know that one well, that’s the huge student union building, centrally located and a fairly common meeting place when I visit the Twin Cities campus. What did he do?

President Coffman requested the University Senate to track data about students in the mid-1930s. He wanted specifically to track “Negro and Jewish out-of-state students.” These students required on-campus housing, and Coffman opposed integrating taxpayer-funded dorms. New York Jews were a subset of who was tracked because Coffman believed they were the source of radicalism on campus.

Is that all? Wait, there’s more.

• Coffman in 1931 wrote: “The races have never lived together, nor have they ever sought to live together.”

• His administration repeatedly excluded black students from student housing. The report says Coffman was “extremely cautious about allowing even a single instance to establish ‘precedent’ for integrated housing.”

• He considered creating an “International House” for non-white U students to live, but ultimately decided it was too expensive.

• Under Coffman, the U’s nursing school would not allow black students to care for white patients.

• After Jack Trice, a black Iowa State football player, died from injuries sustained during a 1923 game against Minnesota, Coffman batted down accusations that U players had assaulted Trice. Coffman again defended the football team in 1934 after writers said Minnesota players had targeted Ozzie Simmons, another black athlete.

• Coffman authorized surveillance efforts on student activists, including those who protested racial discrimination or were believed to be Jewish or associated with communism.

I am now feeling a bit queasy about all the times I walked through that building, not having the slightest idea who Coffman was.

They were all “men of their time” I guess, all powerful conservative white men who sought to exclude students who were not similarly white. Screw ’em. Strip those names from the buildings and name them after people who actually supported diverse Americans and the university’s egalitarian educational goals.

And if twenty years from now, we realize that those new people were horribly flawed and hurt people, strip off their names again. There’s nothing sacred or permanent about naming stuff.

I thought it would be a happy story about bats

I was in the mood for reading more about bats, so when this news story popped up in my news feed, of course I had to read it: Scenes From the Bat Cave. What else would you expect but a nice bit of natural history? It wasn’t. It’s about crappy greedy capitalistic humans in Florida.

The Rockledge Regional Medical Center reeks of raw sewage and bat guano. No one knew that bat shit was called “guano,” or that the pungent smell emanating from the fifth-floor intensive care unit had bat guano as a source, until last spring, when a delirious patient complained he was being attacked by a “giant grasshopper,” which turned out to be a bat, which turned out to be one of what four nurses told the Prospect was estimated to be at least five thousand more.

The exterminators alleged in court that Steward Health, Rockledge’s corporate owner, never paid them the $936,320 they were owed for “evicting” the bats from the hospital, which sits roughly eight miles southwest of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. And so when, a week or two before Christmas, the sinks on the second floor began backing up with thick, black gunk that smelled like feces of the human sort, the hospital’s in-house maintenance staff tried to handle the job themselves.

That’s the last we hear of the bats, and instead it’s all about the corrupt management of Steward Health, which apparently bought up a bunch of hospitals only to neglect them. They were in the business of scraping every penny of profit out of these places, and actually maintaining them would have meant less money for their corrupt corporate overlords, who had yachts to maintain instead.

In Massachusetts, where Steward was founded and owns nine hospitals, the company’s representatives have essentially ghosted the political class it wooed so effectively a decade ago, when de la Torre graced the cover of the Boston Globe Magazine and touted himself as the quintessential Obamacare success story. Over the past few weeks, Massachusetts politicians have railed against Steward, de la Torre, and his yachts, and Gov. Maura Healey last week instructed the company to leave the state “as soon as possible.”

They are leaving Massachusetts and moving to Florida, which has a more charitable climate for parasites and exploiters. Their hospitals there are a horror story — health care is ridiculously expensive, but do you think anyone is getting their money’s worth out of these toxic facilities?

Nurses provided the Prospect with dozens of photos and videos documenting maintenance problems at the hospital: water leaking out into the parking lot from one of the maintenance rooms, a giant oxygen tank sitting in the loading dock one nurse worries is “one drunk driver away from blowing the back wing of the hospital away,” the fourth floor “graveyard of broken beds” with unfulfilled work orders dating back to September, and sink after sink filled with black gunk, sealed off with “DO NOT USE” signs and months-old work orders. On the paper covering one of the sinks alleged on the work order to have a “terrible smell,” an employee had scrawled, “Fix me NOW!” and two others had playfully responded, “I’ve only been broke 2+ months! What’s the hurry?” and “NOT BEYOND STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS YET!”

Five of the building’s nine elevators have been nonoperational for the better part of the year, and only one or two of the working ones can properly accommodate a critical care patient. Paradoxically, this was an even bigger safety issue back before the bats were discovered, when patients who experienced complications during heart surgery needed to be shuttled up three stories to the ICU; now they can be raced down the hall to the relocated ICU, where half the sinks still have “Do Not Use” signs hanging over them.

Imagine how awful these places would be if they were in Canada rather than Florida. Somebody would be complaining about having to wait for service. Sewage filled sinks and bats fluttering about the ICU is a small price to pay for allowing rampant capitalism to flourish.

I’d rather read about bats than about selfish, greedy humans, I’m afraid.

Am I creepy? Kooky? Altogether ooky?

There may be something wrong with me. I just spent a happy hour and twenty minutes watching a video about brown recluse spiders, and my only regret was that we don’t have any Loxosceles living anywhere near me. We don’t have any medically significant venomous spiders in this region — it’s one of my only regrets about living in west central Minnesota.

See? Fascinating. Good bit on horizontal gene transfer of the sphingomyelin toxin, lots of practical advice on brown recluse bites, and the spiders are all gentle and generally kind. It tickles my brain in all the right spots. Is that weird?

And then, the best essay I’ve read this week is all about bats and white-nose syndrome. You too can grieve for all the beautiful animals, and you should find them beautiful, that are succumbing to this terrible epidemic.

If you know where and when to look, you can find bats all over the midwest. We’ve got a bunch nesting over our garage, and we put up a bat house near our deck — we’d be thrilled to have even more.

Bats and spiders, and more generally any invertebrate that has a freaky number of legs or eyes — I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I’ve got some kind of exotic disease…a Halloween infection, or Addams syndrome, or something similarly diagnosable.

Of course, one of they symptoms of this syndrome is that I don’t want to be cured. Give me more.

(By the way, I’m teaching a course in science essay writing in the Fall, and am collecting samples. That bat article is going right into the folder. I might be planning to infect impressionable young students with my disease.)

Everything all at once!

It’s been a rough week. Let me tell you why.

I have bone spurs that occasionally flare up, and this week my right achilles tendon is getting swole and creating strange bulges all over my heel. It hurts! I was having a little pity party for myself when…

My daughter Skatje went skiing and dislocated her knee badly, breaking bits of the bone of the joint while also shredding cartilage and tendon. Her knee looks like a mottled mushy cantaloupe right now, totally upstaging my minor discomfort. But now she’s been upstaged in turn.

My grandson Knut is a big little guy, 6 years old and ready to try out for the Green Bay Packers. He was working out vigorously at a park when he fell. I’m going to put the X-ray below the fold because I cringe when I see it.

[Read more…]

The genocidal state of Israel

Just before we got shut down, I posted a video by Shaun that condemned all the atrocities committed by both sides in Israel and Gaza (it didn’t dissuade the Islamist fanatic who got us censored). Now I’m going to do it again. Cody thoroughly documents the genocide and lies perpetrated by the Israeli government.

It’s depressing. Don’t watch it you don’t want to be outraged by injustice.

It just affirms my concern that Israel has become an evil rogue nation. And we still send them arms?

Today is climate change day in the classroom

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I’m doing in my Eco Devo class is to throw more of the burden of learning on the students. It would be too easy for me to just get up and lecture, telling them what they should know, and it is often hard for me to just shut up and let the students talk. I’ve split up the course so that Monday is when I start talking and dominate the classroom, Wednesday I ask the students to answer questions about Monday’s lecture and the book chapter, and on Fridays they’re given a paper to analyze.

This week’s paper is Morphological plasticity of the coral skeleton under CO2-driven seawater acidification by Tambutté and others. The context is that we’ve been talking about cellular physiology and development, and responses to environmental stresses, so I figured a primary research article about the effect of rising CO2 levels would be appropriate.

(Answer: more CO2 is not good for corals. Decreasing pH leads to a cnidarian version of osteoporosis.)

(a) Representative longitudinal sections; (b) transverse sections. pH treatment is indicated in the top left corner of each image. Scale bar, 1 mm.

A miracle??!?

Freethoughtblogs is suddenly and unexpectedly restored! It must be because I refused to pray all week long. Or it could have been about emailing the parent company for Bluehost, Endurance International Group. Or it could have been the result of posting a 1 star review on TrustPilot, which got the attention of their PR flack.

I just got off the phone with them, and that bad review is what finally kicked them into gear. Now I know what corporations dread, at least.