Saturday, February 13, 2010


It's my old undergrad college pal's birthday. We met in a philosophy class not long before each of us turned 21, on consecutive days in the '70s, and cemented our lifelong friendship by going out and getting legally unfit to drive together on my birthday and then walking home.

Last night, driving (soberly) home, I heard the news on the radio of yet another senseless campus shooting. On his campus. So my annual birthday greeting was pre-empted by urgent concern. Was he ok? Did he know the victims?

Looks like I'll make 53. Too damned ornery and too much work to do to die.
We don't know who the victims are yet, or even how many of them there are--at least three, possibly five--but I do know the alleged shooter and I am virtually certain to know most of the victims. We are a small campus. This was one crazy, fucked-up day, my friend.

This morning we know: It was about tenure?!

It's also about too damned many handguns in general circulation, too casually available to people who can't or won't govern their own emotions. 

That happens to be my father-in-law's view as well as mine, and he's a gun-owning sportsman with a deer-head on his wall. Enough coddling of criminals and emotional loose-cannons, NRA. Enough!

Update. (2.15.10) Why wasn't this woman already in jail?!

The Chronicle of Higher Education says this raises troubling questions about the tenure process. Really? My friend in Huntsville says the tenure process there is fair enough. You can't expect administrative policy to anticipate and disarm a deranged crazy person. My friend actually recalls discussing tenure strategies with her years ago. She struck him as "naive and a bit unfocused, but did not seem deranged. Chalk up another failure to folk psychology, which comes up with easy explanations but precious few predictions."

Update nyt 2.16.10, Chronicle ("Heroic Professor")

Update nyt 2.21.10 "Fury Just Beneath the Surface"

Update nyt 2.23.10 "A Killer's Value to Science"

Update Chronicle 2.11.11 "Shattered Dept"...Leahy...Bishop

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