Anyway, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, the man who Texas liberals most love to hate and who returns their feelings with apparent gusto—and Governor Greg Abbott who is not far behind Dan Patrick in liberal hearts and minds—both Governors have recently voiced an unsympathetic interest in tenure practices at the University of Texas at Austin. It could get ugly and probably will. The question of tenure has been billed as the next epic struggle for civil rights at the Texas Legislature, which comes to town in January and where R’s may kick a little liberal ass yet again but maybe this time for good reason. We’ve waited a long time for Republican leadership to be right about an education issue and tenure may be it. Certainly seems like a death sentence for this faculty privilege at Forty Acres, if both the Governors have doubts. The Speaker of the House of Representatives could back the university, he’s a Longhorn by education but so is Governor Abbott and that may not mean shit. To set the scene. Presumably the Governors want to beat up notoriously-liberal Forty Acres in this notoriously conservative state. Republican leadership’s antipathy towards the liberal intelligentsia at Forty Acres is unrivaled. For conservatives, Forty Acres is the source of all liberal inequity in the Lone Star State, which may be pretty accurate, actually. UT has been, through decades, the heart and soul and minor league of the Democratic Party in the Lone Star State, and the Governors know that and smell blood. But it’s my theory that minorities on campus may want to get on board with this particular Republican witch hunt and bring home some fresh white meat.
So, like, not to repeat myself, Dan Patrick’s interest in tenure traces back to the iSchool actually where my studies are coming to a timely end and where Elliott Hauser teaches, but focuses instead on a different instructor—a cool young black scientist named Angela Smith. To set the scene again. Dr. Smith was hired recently, like Dr. Hauser, as a tenure-track assistant professor. Dr. Smith’s area of interest is human-computer interaction (HCI) and she is also something of an expert on the new field of critical race theory in high tech—yes, the dreaded CRT. But as it applies in artificial intelligence, CRT in A.I. being the acronym of interest. Believe me, having taken her course too, Dr. Smith’s first class at the iSchool actually, the same semester as Dr. Hauser’s course, her work is some heavy-duty dialectic shit. C.R.T. in A.I. is about how the online world is being constructed, and her aim is apparently to make sure that the virtual world does not show the same racial and other kinds of biases as the real one. In order that algorithms do not favor one group or another, in outcomes or in worldview, that’s apparently Dr. Smith’s thing. Which is also apparently what rubbed the Governors the wrong way and led to calls to eliminate tenure for teaching it—and could be lethal to this young black scientist’s career. That is Dr. Smith, unlike Dr. Hauser who is pretty much a complete cracker, not to be judgmental, and is completely safe. The Governors are upset about CRT, which is Dr. Smith’s thing, but not about Critical Cracker Theory which is Professor Hauser’s specialty and allows him to dictate what black men think. Elliott Hauser earns $101,000 a year, btw. Again, to set the scene, and because everyone likes to know what other people make.
Not long ago a tenured professor at the iSchool was telling another student (it was my pleasure to shamelessly overhear) that a tenure-track faculty opening at the University of Texas School of Information, presumably like the kind recently awarded to Professor Smith and Professor Hauser, can draw 300 applicants. “Ninety-percent of whom,” this tenured prof said, “are qualified.” What this professor didn’t say was how that choice among applicants is made, which is our subject here. It helps to be a white guy, apparently, at least at the School of Information. Not to be critical, but just looking at the numbers. Anyway, enter the noble black man. Having taken classes from both Professor Smith and Professor Hauser, it’s my hypothesis that minorities should get behind the Governors’s efforts to review and possibly change and/or eliminate tenure. My belief is bipartisan, rooted in taking a course from the clueless white guy as well as from the clued-in black woman, which is a good description of Professor Smith. To be completely honest at the start, Professor Hauser failed me in the Python course, not that that has anything to do with my views of him. It is one but not the only reason to consider him an asswipe, actually. To be perfectly upfront and transparent my grade was D-. This was so clearly an attack on my black manhood, as you will soon learn. But before that—before we talk about the problems of race, racism, tenure and corruption at the University of Texas at Austin, aka Forty Acres, or my own preferred nomenclature, the Longhorn Nation—which can be a long fucking story, actually, like the Bible but without the flood, and is a subject that apparently interests Governors Abbott and Patrick too, before getting down and dirty about life at Forty Acres, first let me say, heading for the door—getting the old sheepskin and all that, it’s been a wonderful education. That comes from the bottom of my heart. It’s a great honor to graduate from the University of Texas, in the Year of the Plague, 2022, and get the fuck out of Forty Acres, not because its’ been a bad experience but because it’s been a hard ride and it’s time for this black cowboy to mosey on.
The iSchool has been worth every penny of tuition. As someone who needs to communicate information effectively, especially data, the last two years couldn’t have been more valuable. And it is precisely the value of this education provided by the State of Texas, theoretically to all citizens, that puts into sharp relief the bullshit that can still take place on campus, from the crackers who still roam these hallowed halls. But which is apparently better than the shit that happens at the University of North Carolina where the peckerwood-in-question got his PhD. Overall, with a couple of notable exceptions, the iSchool instructors taught me how to get my shit together critically, as in “critical thinking.” That’s a phrase we use a lot in nursing too, when we are told tor example, “Put your big girl panties on,” even if you’re a guy. If a patient is in danger for example, or something really really really needs to get done. But instead, in this case, in the field of Information Science. The iSchool instructors helped me to develop the skills to form a critical race dialectic that is now being used to beat faculty over the head. How cool is that?
There is still a reason to take out all those loans and invest in higher education, even “at an advanced age,” you might say, although that would not be my choice of words. UT has a lot of issues but it’s also a very good university and it’s important to keep that in mind before moving forward and ripping to shreds the behavior of the good Professor Hauser, which is what’s next. As a mostly unsentimental black man regarding white institutions in the South like this university, especially colleges called “Forty Acres,” a name that is oddly reminiscent of the plantation where my ancestors worked in East Texas, you feel me? Something magical has nonetheless happened during my studies at the School of Information. Under the care and guidance of Dean Eric Meyer, as clueless about race and privilege as he may be, coming from Oxford University and all, as he does. To set the scene again. Something magical happened at Forty Acres for me and many other people as well, in other departments, thru the years. One day you wake up and you find—despite making absolutely no effort in this regard—you’re a Longhorn. Although that collective identity has limits, which is the subject here.
So, like, Professor Hauser’s class was Introduction to Programming. We were learning Python which is very useful in science/industry and, equally important, easier to learn than many computer languages. Or so it is said, not being an expert myself and wanting to improve my coding, which is an equalizer in modern society, especially here on the Silicon Prairie. Like knowing how to use a six-shooter was back in the day? Personally, having begun my college education at UCLA in 1973—this was a big jump for me half a century later, to Python, me working with a reduced complement of brain cells, bad knees and all that. So, like, there were 30+ students in Professor Hauser’s class, mostly Asian or Asian-American, three of us black, me and two young sisters who both knew their technical shit very well. While my interactions with Professor Hauser took the form of the usual white-black dynamic we are all familiar with, especially in the American South, ours was not the only racial/political and/or ethnic divide in class. You couldn’t help but notice for example that the Chinese kids from Taiwan and those from the People’s Republic didn’t seem to interact much. That may only have been my imagination but seemed real. Some American universities, fyi, are considered particularly Taiwanese-friendly, a Chinese-born academic in Austin told me this a few years ago, and other schools are more People’s Republic-oriented you could say. In part based upon who is teaching Mandarin in the foreign languages department, native-Taiwanese or native-mainlanders. In that respect UT is considered a Taiwanese school or so they say.
That’s only mentioned because the usual black-white dynamic is not the only racial or ethnic issue on campus. UT administrators are juggling a lot of issues right now regarding diversity and fairness—lower pay for female instructors for instance, which is unfair and has been going on forever. There’s a lot of shit hitting the proverbial fan at Forty Acres right now, some thrown by conservatives who feel they are unheard on campus just like blacks and Latinos. The old Forty Acres which historically has been white, male, and liberal, is already changing markedly. Just a few days ago in the Perry-Castenada Library for example, me up on a top floor trying to do my classwork like a good student? To set the scene. There was a lot of noise nearby, like chanting. Some fuckhead undergraduates had been playing frisbee the week before, across the first floor reading room, and as you can imagine, upstairs that afternoon my patience was low. But the sound turned out to be some Muslim kids doing their afternoon prayers, that was the low chanting, and power to them for keeping their culture. So, like, diversity on campus cannot only be measured by black people, that would be my whole point, actually. Republicans, Latinos and Muslims also have to have a safe place on campus. But in a state that was once slaveholding like Texas, Negroes have a spot at the front of the line, that would be my feeling too, you know? Others may disagree.
In one of my first official interactions at the School of Information, which was a Zoom meeting of the diversity committee during my first semester, a white administrator identified herself as the “queer recruiter” for the School of Information. Yet there was no “black recruiter” or “Latino recruiter,” the iSchool in fact had no Latino faculty as my studies began, in Fall 2020, in a state that is, what, 40% Latino? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And the only two black faculty were un-tenured assistant professors, one being the new Dr. Smith and the other a well-behaved Negro, not to be judgmental again. This wasn’t 1960, btw, it was two years ago when my program started. Pardon me therefore—with numbers like those—for looking for crackers in every classroom. And finding one.
So, like, the last president of UT, Greg Fenves, was Jewish and suddenly during hisadministration a number of Jewish academics were promoted to dean. But waiting until African Americans or Latinos or Asians have the presidency of the University of Texas does not seem like a particularly effective way to improve diversity at Forty Acres. Nor does a case by case approach, like my conflict with this white prof, Dr. Dickwad, not with 50,000 students in attendance. Forty Acres is a mid-sized city. The President and the Provost and the Dean can’t be in class watching instructors, it’s a system based upon qualifications and upon trust, and training, but that aren’t always enough to ensure equity, which is our subject here. So, like, something occurred in Introduction to Programming that needs to be addressed. My feeling as a black person in Texas is that it’s best to call out whites for every racial transgression, whether intended or not, and even profile crackers from time to time by calling them out on shit that they may not have even meant to be discriminatory. Although this was discriminatory, and intentionally so, and not just ordinary Texas evil, which is hard to get upset about because it’s so common. You can’t give a cracker an even break in other words because he or she will merely take advantage of the opportunity to keep being a cracker, you feel me?
Professor Hauser was new, like in his second or third semester, he came from the University of North Carolina, in other words the Deep South, not that there’s anything wrong with that. He had a beard and looked like an old photograph of Jeb Stuart, late of the Army of Northern Virginia, if you know the American Civil War. Spiritually, if not in fact. To set the scene. Me and a white female friend were talking a while ago about Austin’s recent population growth, this is pertinent, and of the guys you meet now on the streets of bucolic River City, she said, “If I see one more beard I’ll scream!” Professor Hauser looked like one of those people, you know, not to sound bigoted or extreme.
My friend was describing what are colloquially called tech bros and who others maycall “tech assholes,” that would not be my choice of words, because my preference is not to typecast this kind of mostly-white, often-bearded, tech-related white guy in any way. So, like, long story short, Professor Hauser seemed to be one of the many tech-related newcomers who are now in town, a hipster/coder type, from N.C. not S.F. He said in his bio online that in his spare time, when he’s not scholastically-engaged? He’s a philosopher. His bachelor’s is from Duke, in art history, oh my God stop me from throwing up right now! So, like, to cut to the proverbial chase, something happened outside of class one day that led me to the conclusion that the new assistant prof is a cracker, again, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Because crackers are a species that really does flourish in Texas, btw, especially in River City, along the banks of the mighty Colorado, unlike jackalopes which do not. You still see crackers every day on the streets of the Live Music Capital of the World actually, although you may not recognize them at first. Crackers are part of human diversity and have a role in the social ecosystem, not to get all heavier-than-thou or be a philosopher in my spare time. So, like, coming to the School of Information one day, early in the semester, me whistling a tune from Beyonce and minding my own black business like the Constitution says a man has a right to do? Something happened, not to get all dramatic.
So, like, Professor Hauser was outside the front door taking delivery of some equipment, and me attempting to greet him, the motherfucker turned his back. No shit. Again, not to be judgmental. Like we were in high school and he was Boopsie the Cheerleader who was pissed off? As a noble black man, great-grandson of slaves and grandson of a Buffalo Soldier, it didn’t even occur to me to reply, to call him out, to say “What’s up bitch” or whatever. That would come later. My only thought at the time was yeah, well, that’s strange—maybe he’s having a bad day. In other words, cut the white man some slack, call me noble if you will. But a couple of days later it happened again, in the lobby of our piece-of-shit University of Texas building that houses the excellent iSchool where my studies are coming to a blessed end. That time it was once again me saluting Professor Hauser and him turning his back, just like a ho, no disrespect to hos intended. So, like, he turned his back not to talk to someone else, there was nobody else. He was acting just like Boopsie the cheerleader who’s angry and you’re supposed to guess why. And, you know, as a person of a certain ethnic persuasion and a certain age, this was not the first time that someone had refused to return my greeting. At my age you kind of wish it happened more often, you wouldn’t have to go through all the formalities of asking how someone is doing when you really don’t give a shit, you know? You could use the wasted breath for something more important to a senior citizen, like breathing. Not to sound grumpy or anything. It was different though with Professor Peckerwood at the iSchool, in the literature of racism turning his back is called a “microaggression” and it’s used on campuses and at other public institutions, and perhaps free-enterprise venues, like in the coding world, presumably. It’s used where there is a hierarchy which means just about everywhere, actually, to demean someone. Who is often a member of a minority group or a woman, especially a woman of color. But in this case a noble black man, me.
So, like, the knowledge of Assistant Professor Hauser’s control of the gradebook was a little unsettling, even for an African American warrior. Because this was not just a random interaction on the sidewalk with Bubba or Thad who have just come into town from Pisspot, Texas, in Pisspot County, in their pickup. Bubba is still a species in Texas and he is to be feared if he’s been drinking or doing meth. But this particular interaction was with The White Man in his own preferred professional setting where he wields power over the darker-skinned other, if one looks thru the CRT lens that Governor Patrick does not like but seems pretty fucking useful to me. This was not an encounter with the Proud Boys up in Palo Pinto County either, or even with the Austin pigs downtown, near the iSchool, that you could film and have objective evidence. Dr. Dickwad on the other hand, the cracker in question, could fuck my education, not to sound ignorant, and get away with it. There would be nothing to do. Basically he had my nuts in his hands, which you don’t want with crackers because they like to squeeze. Is that too much information? Is that TMI?
So, like, you’re allowed two fails at the School of Information and anything less than a B is considered a failing grade. To set the scene. So, like, it was best to have a meeting with the good professor and a supervisor, someone higher in the faculty, it seemed to me, like one of the deans, to find out what was the instructor’s trip and to remind him that he wasn’t in North Carolina anymore. Here in the Live Music Capital of the World crackers aren’t allowed to hunt the Negro, in other words. Does that sound wise, mature and all that, befitting the wisdom of my age and my noble sub-Saharan heritage? Meeting with a village elder as intermediary, that was my idea, that’s how we handled conflict back in Africa where my ancestors hunted gazelle and wildebeest by day and talked issues out at night, sitting around the fire. That’s how it works in my understanding of the modern university too, you have a meeting. His response—also by email, like my request—was that he would not arrange a meeting nor participate in one. No shit. So, like, life is short. That’s my lesson to the young, speaking as a village elder. And you don’t want to make it any shorter by stressing out. That’s also good advice from health care, btw, avoid red meat & alcohol, and if you’re a guy don’t neglect your bone or prostate health, don’t stress out in other words, practical wisdom from the hospital bedside. Suck it up and move on can be a completely legitimate defense mechanism instead of, you know, letting the testosterone flow. Especially if you’re short of that particular hormone, at an age when you may still have the desire to fuck somebody up but your dick just doesn’t get that hard anymore. Or doesn’t stay hard. Is that TMI too? So, like, the object of school—wherever it is, it seems to me now, whatever the curriculum—med school or cosmetology college, and whatever your age—the object is to get to the end of the semester. Right?
So, like, after writing an email to the administration and making the Provost aware of the incidents, my plan was to call it a day. Just as, the semester before, it was necessary to make the administration aware that security guards at the front door of the iSchool are asking me to show i.d. to enter the building but not the white and Asian kids who were also students. The guards were confused because black men at the iSchool was something new, apparently. So, like, exit the black man and enter the black woman. Her name is Wilhemina Delco and it was her advice, you could call it, her wise counsel, given years before my fateful encounter with Dr. Hauser at the iSchool, that got me through.
“Ms. Delco” as she is universally called—there’s only one in River City—helped me to navigate what would become a very dicey situation at Forty Acres. Not to sound all dramatic or anything. Her advice allowed me to shrink down my struggle at the iSchool and relegate it, after all these years living in the South, to the round file, “Just Another Cracker,” in other words. Her sage wisdom, and it was sage, wise and all that, was the key to survival until graduation and finally becoming a member of the Longhorn Nation. To set the scene again.
WHAT MS. DELCO SAID You may not have heard of Wilhemina Delco, especially if you are new to town as so many are. Ms. Delco is originally from Chicago like Barack Obama whose portrait adorned her East Austin living room the last time we visited, a few years pre-pandemic. Ms. Delco is married to Dr. Exalton Delco who is a retired biology professor (specialty, snakes) at the black school across town, Huston-Tillotson University, a HBCU. So, like, Wilhemina Delco was the first African American elected to public office in Austin since Reconstruction or—depending on the record you’re viewing—first in history.She is a Lone Star black liberation figure in her own right. And a very good person, who is down to earth, whose opinions are to be trusted.
So, like, she told me once, we were sitting in that living room with her and Barack smiling down from the wall? She said that the only reason she was elected to the Austin school board back in the day, where she eventually became Board President, is that the election happened just after MLK was assassinated and the white power structure in the Live Music Capital of the World was afraid that if changes were not made, our bucolic River City would burn. She became that change. Ms. Delco was later elected to the Texas House of Representatives and served ten terms representing East Austin when it was still black, B.G., before gentrification and before the recent arrival of the tech locusts. To set the scene. Importantly for discussion of what it means to be a member of the Longhorn Nation, Ms. Delco has special authority. She served as chair of the Texas Legislature’s Higher Education Committee. In other words she knows public education, she knows the State of Texas and she knows UT. And she is one of the extraordinary people who left the State Capitol the same way she entered 20 years earlier, with complete credibility. Which is not easy to do, especially in Austin because the temptations are so many. And you know what she said about UT that afternoon in her living room? This is my second best UT anecdote, by the way—of 6—about our own Forty Acres.
So, like, me and Ms. Delco were just chatting, minding our own black business the way the Constitution says we have a right to do, after she had retired from public life. Although even today in their golden years the Delcos are still seen out and about, because they are swimmers like so many in River City. To set the scene again. In her living room Ms. Delco was talking about corruption in the Lone Star State, something that she learned about during those twenty years at the Capitol. She told me something shocking. The public always thinks the worst scandals in Texas public affairs, Ms. Delco said—and there have been many through the years, many scandals that is—most uninformed people think that the worst corruption comes out of the Legislature during the legislative session but that’s not true. The worst malfeasance in public affairs in the Lone Star State she said, as a former Higher Education chair, don’t come out of the pineywoods of East Texas or Houston’s Fifth Ward or anywhere in the Big D. Not South Texas even though that’s what you might expect, because that’s where LBJ found those “missing” ballots back in the day that made him U.S. Senator. No, she said. Instead Ms. Delco told me that the worst public scandals in the Lone Star State always come out of the University of Texas at Austin.
Not UT System, she said, not the umbrella organization that manages the 13 component institutions. Not the Regents either, although shit happens on the Board of Regents often enough, you may never hear about it, mostly regarding admissions or the huge university endowment, a subject that we’ll be studying shortly. Not the other individual campuses either, Ms. Delco said, not UT Dallas or UT Arlington or my alma mater Medical Branch, although bad shit happens in Galveston too, like at all academic medical institutions. You probably don’t want to know details. But specifically Ms. Delco said she was talking about the Austin campus, our very own Forty Acres, isn’t that cool? Which is soon to be my alma mater. “True that!” as Indian students at the iSchool like to say.
Just a few weeks ago for instance—there’s always something dodgy going on at UT, you kind of get used to shit happening, but paying too much attention distracts from study time, you know? But just to dish a little Longhorn dirt, for teaching purposes only, a few weeks ago a Law School maintenance supervisor pled guilty in state court to ripping off $1.2 million, including salary that he was paid when he was actually in Cozumel soaking up some rays. To set the scene. It’s not really surprising, is it, UT is a city with a population to match and it’s not news that there’s occasional abuse of a big budget or a complicated operating system. Literally millions of moving parts and thousands of employees, the surprise is that you don’t hear about more. There’s a reason for that, actually, that you may not hear about it, the press’s nuts are in Longhorn hands, is that TMI?
So, like, the vastly more important court case for the University of Texas was happening about the same time the Law School guy was getting probation, down the street in federal court where UT was losing a $3 million judgment in a lawsuit brought by a female engineering professor. Who was denied tenure. There’s that word again. Because she was pregnant, that was her claim and the jury agreed. There’s always something interesting happening at UT and you may not want to know what. Great scholarship and also occasional sin. Or underhanded dealing. My take-home, headed for the door? All university campuses are breeding grounds for intrigue because everyone thinks they’re smarter than everyone else. And when you’re doing things in new or novel ways, that may not turn out to be totally legit, or have not yet been vetted, problems can arise. My favorite Longhorn anecdote—#1 on my Forty Acres hit parade—is about students searching for skills in unaccustomed ways and is 20 years old, maybe more, and says everything that needs to be said about this wonderful institution. So, like, this was turn-of-century Texas or turn-of-the-millennium actually, when George W. Bush was governor. My memory is cloudy but it’s not an important detail when exactly, because Bush was not involved. But it was his era in Texas which was like a tornado, actually. So, like, this happened in a large lecture hall on campus, in a chemistry class. This is eyewitness testimony not of the facts of the crime but the story that was told about those facts. To set the scene again.
Have you ever taken organic chemistry?
If the answer is yes, this may reawaken some traumatic memories but is a useful exercise not for understanding OCHEM, the worst class in the world—Semester I orSemester II. But is critical to understanding UT’s culture which can be a minefield. So, like, me sitting there in class one day, still kind of in shock after the explanation of a painful chemical mechanism, and looking around me—clearly there were some other broken spirits and hurting heads. There’s a lot of debate on university campuses even today about which class is actually worse, Organic Chemistry 1 or Organic Chemistry 2? My personal belief is that the first is worse because there comes a terrible point in the course—Week 3 or Week 4, a moment that is not mentioned on the syllabus, btw. Which had just taken place in our lecture hall at Forty Acres, in OCHEM 1, when the student realizes that there are two full whole semesters of this shit. It can be pretty fucking dispiriting, really.
So, like, the instructor was a Jewish guy and pretty cool, actually, he had a big heart. He seemed to realize we were hurting after the last reaction mechanism and he segued into a kind of stand-up routine, you could call it, which is not at all unknown in university lecture halls from time to time, even in the hard sciences. Usually the prof thinks he’s more entertaining than he really is but this particular OCHEM guy had comedic game. So, like, he started to tell us about chemistry-in-action at none other than our own campus. So, like, out of the blue he said that a few years earlier the teaching assistants were in the habit of cooking speed in the chemistry lab. Not the filthy addictive shit that we know today, that kills people, that speeds up pulses and ruins lives. Something more refined but equally illegal, it seems. To set the scene. Don’t you love UT? It would turn out later that this same guy, the guy lecturing us in class that day, had lied about being a PhD-trained organic chemist, he only had a master’s and when UT found out they kicked him to the curb and he began teaching at the community college. We won’t get into that here but the point is that there are no lies at Forty Acres, there are only gradations of the truth. Actually it’s not just UT, UC is a lot worse, as regards ethics, state schools can be worse than state prisons, that would be my thinking if this were a reflection for class, at the private schools like Johns Hopkins people just care about money and fame, but we won’t get into that here either. Anyway, that’s what it can mean to be a Longhorn, actually, that’s my whole point, cooking speed in the basement of the chemistry building. This was long before the television show Breaking Bad, btw, it wasn’t derivative of Hollywood in other words. So, like, the exact chemical composition of the crank was not revealed in lecture, you’ll be happy to know, but the instructor said that this was not a once or twice thing, instead it was a custom of the T.A.sover the years. Hey, let’s cook a little crank! Not in order to corner the illicit trade for crystal in the Live Music Capital of the World, no way, there’s probably a pretty established market for that and there might be consequences for trying to move in on the action. But instead for the most elusive of all illegal drug activity, “personal use.”
To help at study time or with exams or whatever. And completely justifiable, btw, in my modest opinion, if restricted to those particular uses, not just to be an animal for a day or whatever which is what some people use crank for. Anyway, that’s what the lecturer told us that day in OCHEM 1. And, the instructor asked us, do you know what happened next? And of course we didn’t know what happened next. But personally, as someone who up until that point had been struggling with organic chemistry and who just a few minutes earlier was sitting in lecture and considering slitting my own wrists, suddenly the usefulpossibilities of the academic discipline of chemistry were suddenly being revealed before my eyes in class.
For the first and last time that semester the instructor had me on the edge of my seat.
So, like, you may ask, what happened in the speed lab on campus? He told us that one day a couple of guys from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the dreaded D.E.A., arrived on campus. They showed up at the office of the department chair, actually, to have a little chat. At this point the instructor was still standing at the podium, telling us about how crystal was made back in the day at Forty Acres, instead of explaining to us how fragrant molecules approach each other and bond in order to create the taste of strawberries or oranges or whatever. Like the artificial flavor in a stick of chewing gum? Which is what OCHEM professors usually talk about, having taken the class a couple of times before snagging an A and never before having heard how to cook crystal to snort like a drug fiend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We were discussing methproduction in lecture which was fine with me personally, not to repeat myself, but was the kind of activity that could get a Negro or God forbid even a white man sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Lone star State. Yet was being made as part of an extended lab experiment at Forty Acres. Doesn’t that make you proud to be a Longhorn? It does me.
And our instructor said that the DEA guys told the chemistry department chairman that they were aware of this particular extracurricular activity and the DEA guys weren’t going to arrest anyone at the moment but if they had to return to campus, someone in handcuffs would be leaving with them. Isn’t that a beautiful Forty Acres anecdote? Not to get all sentimental or anything. And this was long before Breaking Bad, not to repeat myself, and before Hollywood adopted that particular plot device. Longhorns are such groundbreakers, that would be my whole point, actually. That’s my #1 UT story, btw, having been around campus all these years. And, like, it was true because—checking later with another organic chemistry instructor, she said yeah, like it wasn’t a big deal, that’s what happened. It makes me kind of proud now, at this point in my education, so close to my final goal as a proto-Longhorn or a Longhorn-in-training or whatever. Moving forward to become an alum. Cooking crank in the Chemistry Building basement! Exactly the kind of endeavor that attracted me to this great institution in the first place, not because it’s illegal but because it’s daring and kind of cool.
And the chemistry T.A.s were not greedy, that’s my whole point actually, they didn’t act like total hoodlums and get greedy and start selling wholesale or even retail. That wouldn’t be an example of Longhorn virtue. Instead, they were cooking just enough for themselves and maybe a few friends. It’s altruism combined with the search for knowledge that made me want to be part of the Longhorn Nation, actually. And that’s also what Ms. Delco meant, the best scandals come out of UT. It makes you proud, because Forty Acres is full of a lot of very bright and very aggressive intellects whose ethics may be trailing their accomplishments by just a tad. Like Professor Hauser, not to be judgmental. A high percentage of people on campus think they are smarter than everyone else, though, just like Dr. Dickwad, not that there’s anything wrong with that, either. Not everybody can be smarter than everybody else, right? It’s kind of like the Longhorn football team’s search for a good defense, that would be my best analogy, actually. It’s an imperfect comparison, but Longhorns know how to put points on the scoreboard, we just don’t know how to defend. Does that work? Maybe not. So, like, right now the big issues at Forty Acres are race, research and intellectual property. Which is where tenure comes in, yet again. Tenure features large in race, research and IP, it seems.
About the same time the Law School employee, who is a white guy, was getting probation from Judge Kocurek in state court—Judge Kocurek likes to send black people to prison, fyi, that’s her reputation in the black community, surpassed only by Judges Kennedy and Brown who are black and like to send black people to prison too, in order to please white voters. But we digress. About the same time the white guy was getting probation in state court, down the street in federal court before Judge Pitman, who has a degree in Human Rights, btw, from Oxford—speaking of higher education. In the courtroom of Judge Pittman, some of the same issues that UT now faces got hashed out and examined. The jury didn’t like how tenure is handled on campus. Let’s take a look.
The key witness in the civil trial was UT’s #2, Provost Sharon Wood who is an engineer by trade and was promoted from Dean of the School of Engineering. Dr. Wood appeared on both witness lists, for the plaintiff and for the defense, because before her promotion she recommended denying tenure for the pregnant assistant professor. To set the scene. Although the final decision belonged to then-UT President Greg Fenves, now at Emory University. Who left Austin with a little push from the Regents, basically for his handling of sexual harassment at Forty Acres. To set the scene again. So, like, Dr. Fenves who is a chemist by trade has largely escaped blame for the no-tenure decision that hemade, while the good Dr. Wood has taken the fall, basically, not because she’s a woman but because she’s the Provost. That’s part of a university Provost’s job description, btw, to take the fall for the president if necessary. But we digress. The jurors apparently liked Dr. Wood’s testimony for the plaintiff more than her testimony in defense of tenure at Forty Acres. Of the damages awarded—$3 million—$2.5 million was punitive.
In the pre-trial documentation that it was my pleasure to review in the federal court clerk’s office, the other day, the pregnant professor’s attorney gave notice that he intended to introduce evidence that women discriminate against other women. Which should not be that much of a surprise, frankly, in this day and age. Not every aspiring chick has every other aspiring chick’s back, feminism and sisterhood notwithstanding. Whether that notion was actually proven in Judge Pitman’s court isn’t so important, this is still a subject that black people know pretty well. Blacks have been known to discriminate against other black people, like Judges Kennedy and Brown, or seek favor by selling out to The Man, or The Woman, a la Uncle Toms. Or turn into complete rightwing whackjobs like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In order to succeed, as the first of “their kind” in a field, or whatever, like in academia for instance, the “First Black” to become So-and-So. Or like Justice Thomas who has risen to be the White Right’s principal flunky, together with his whackjob old lady. But we digress again. Anyway, the point being that the first black may not help the second black or the third. This was apparently the direction that the plaintiff’s attorney was headed before trial, that Dr. Wood discriminated against another woman, but the lawyer for the preggers professor is not talking now, having beat UT.
After a few online interactions with Provost Wood during the course of my studies at the iSchool, my feeling is that she has a very demanding job and cannot make decisions based upon sisterhood, especially regarding tenure. Just as she could not grant every wish of mine as a student of color in the School of Information, dealing with a cracker prof. Unless there’s some really really really fucked up shit going on, grave individual wrongdoing, like Ms. Delco alluded to. Because there’s always a lot of shit flying at Forty Acres, sometimes you have to do some ducking, the basic idea is not to be around when the shit comes down. This campus is a huge complicated environment with a lot of moving parts. To set the scene again. My classwork at the iSchool prevented me from attending trial, btw, my theory of school has always been that you may not correctly complete all the homework and you certainly won’t have time to do all the reading, but never never never miss class, you know? It’s my argument, again not having attended the trial—either the Law School guy’s sentencing in state court or the pregnant professor’s case in the federal courthouse. It’s my argument that the federal hearing was actually a trial of our very Longhorn Nation. We didn’t come up short either, regardless of the big punitive verdict. This is basically being pulled straight out of my ass—but may be true. It’s my argument that what the jury really did not like and what led to a few mil in damages against us was not how the plaintiff’s tenure application was handled but instead tenure in academia. It can be pretty ugly, actually.
Anyway, as an informaticist, or informatician, whatever my degree means, one likes the idea that researchers at the iSchool are studying what is going on with the tech bros/assholes. Whether people identify as UX or whatever, whether the profs are CRT folks like Professor Smith or Cracker Theory guys like Professor Hauser. Hopefully in Big Tech’s rush for faster internet speeds and billions in revenues, someone from the outside, at the School of Information actually, is taking a skeptical look and holding the bros/assholes to account. Even if the people holding the tech bros/assholes to account are tech bros or tech assholes themselves. Academia is supposed to be about best practices and new ideas and that’s part of the argument in favor of tenure, sure. But there is no system besides police traffic stops in Southern states that is potentially more contentious and more likely to lead to decisions that are capricious or based upon race or gender than tenure, and are not at all related to merit. But are supposed to be all about merit.
The pregnant plaintiff’s evidence included a list of ten male instructors in the College of Engineering, that’s my memory of scanning the file in the clerk’s office, each of the 10 guys who was promoted was an assistant professor like the plaintiff and, for that matter, like Professors Smith and Hauser who were recently my instructors in the iSchool and must be headed to their own tenure votes soon. To set the scene again. The presumed quest for all tenure-track assistant professors is tenure, right, which represents prestige but can come at a cost. So, like, the 10 examples from the College of Engineering used in federal court were all guys and they were all given tenure and promoted to associate professor, apparently with then-Dean Wood’s recommendation to President Fenves who made the final call. The plaintiff’s ace in the hole was a female assistant engineering professor whose circumstances were similar to those of the plaintiff but who was not pregnant and who got tenure like the 10 guys. It would seem like an open and shut case, right? But there’s a more important factor that is not gender-based or pregnancy-related and may have had more influence in President Fenves’ decision, money. Hello! How much research funding that a member of faculty brings to the university, from industry or government or whoever. To study a particular topic or scientific process or whatever. Or to pursue “pure research,” whatever that may mean. In the case of the female assistant engineering professor who got tenure, unlike the pregnant Dr. Nikolova, also of the School of Engineering, who did not. The successful female researcher apparently had more funding, from commercial sources or whatever, it’s unclear from the paperwork in the U.S. Courthouse and her lawyer isn’t talking, not to repeat myself. The pregnant professor whose $ was less, had more $ from old school sources too, is that possible? That was my impression looking at the file. Also entered as evidence was a tool used by President Fenves when evaluating assistant professors for tenure, a numbered list of the most important factors for the then-President who is a science guy btw, a chemist, not to repeat myself again. To assist him in his deliberations. Number 1 was research dollars that the assistant professor was bringing to Forty Acres, from the federal government or private industry or whoever. Number 2 was the assistant prof’s teaching skill.
You do the math.
Which brings us back to Assistant Professor Hauser who failed me in coding. His value to the University of Texas is not that he’s a good teacher. In my experience Elliott Hauser had an okay-at-best didactic thing going on and in person was pretty fucking self-obsessed but that’s tech people in general, right, not to stereotype or be a bigot. He’ll fit right in, in Austin, shit. More important to the University of Texas is that Professor Hauser has the potential to bring money to campus and that, believe me, is a good thing. That we in the Longhorn Nation should all be willing to sacrifice for, some of us more than others, not to sound self-sacrificing or anything. That’s reason to cut him some slack even though he’s a cracker from North Carolina or Virginia or wherever, which is the Cracker South actually, unlike Texas which is the Cracker Southwest. If this were for example an essay for class, that would be my analysis. And Elliott Hauser actually makes UT look good in one respect.
His bullshit, the microaggressions and all that, he must have learned at UNC at Wherever because he hasn’t been at Forty Acres long enough to pick up bad habits. Crackers are raised not born, that would be my whole hypothesis, actually, as seen through a critical race lens. This guy didn’t learn to be a peckerwood at Forty Acres because it’s hard to believe that any tenure-track faculty member in touchy-feely Austin, Texas, would believe they could get away with it. River City isn’t perfect but at least our crackers know how to camouflage and are better at blending in. After class one day one of the other students alerted me that Dr. Hauser had also attached links on his private website to iSchool homework that some of us had turned in, with our names on the links and without asking students for permission. Hello! You can’t do that. So, like, looking at his website he even had my work on it, even though he failed me as a substandard student, his private website showing my work and my first name and everyone else’s full names. “I didn’t give permission for that,” said the guy who told me, whose work was also posted online by Dr. Dickwad. True that.
Like we were recommending Elliott Hauser as an instructor, or whatever, like a customer testimonial. Which for me—recommending this professor would be a not-in-this-lifetime event, actually. But nobody is that dumb. No faculty member at a major American university doesn’t know about student privacy rights, especially someone who has spent years on major campuses to get a PhD. Especially a guy whose specialty is information science, Jesus, where you have to do privacy training. So, like, this guy is a hustler, not that there’s anything wrong with that, as well as a whanker as the Brits like to say, suffice it to say that Dr. Dickwad is a dick. That was my big takeaway from Introduction to Programming with Professor Elliott Hauser actually, we won’t get into it here. Anyway, it’s my argument that even without ethics Elliott Hauser is still an important addition to our Longhorn Nation. Dr. Hauser’s value is not research money per se but it’s twin, intellectual property, IP, patents that UT will own and that generate an income stream in the future.
In the case of Professor Assbite that moneymaker is his flawed but potentially oh-so-valuable platform for teaching Python, trinket, which is actually a clever idea, POS that it may be in practice. If not for that possibility, that trinket can be made to work correctly, my attitude would be kick his cracker ass to the curb, as an act of Longhorn justice. But suppose trinket just needs fine-tuning? Further work, you might say. And, frankly, UT has bigger issues than race. Like money. Professor Hauser may get a lot out of it, potentially, although he may already have signed over his patents or whatever to UT. All these graduate students—me included—troubleshooting his invention. For a good cause actually, the platform may be a good thing even if Elliott Hauser is a cockbite, that is my whole argument really. Grad students are like lab rats in that respect at a major research school where we are invaluable overall but on an individual level totally powerless. Especially the kids from Asia who are paying a lot of money to be here and who are generally very good students. And who will put in the hours that maybe Texas kids, urban-grown, or country-raised young people, from Pisspot, Texas or wherever—from Shithole, in Shithole County, up in the Panhandle, will not.
After graduating from Shithole High, back in the day, some kids may prefer to spend the night drinking on 6th Street or in the sack trying positions with Courtney, or Colt, as the case may be. But the graduate students, who very often from overseas, are different. Whether the foreign student is from India, the People’s Republic or Turkmenistan, he or she can be a valuable addition to Forty Acres because they’ll do the work. And pay high tuition. My guess, you can’t really quantify this but just, you know, walking around campus? Just running the numbers in a back-of-the-envelope calculation? Just moving across Forty Acres on foot one day, developing my Longhorn walk and all that, taking an owner’s view of the real estate, so to speak. no matter how little my piece of UT may be. No longer just a visitor but now a full-fledged member of the Longhorn Nation? Others may disagree but my guess is that Asians provide about one-quarter of the brain power on campus, maybe one-third. Just looking around and pulling a number out of my ass, you know? Asians have practically no power on campus. There are no Asian deans for example. So, like, it’s not all about brain power, it’s about money too and that can have a big influence on teaching. And on tenure.
A professor at the iSchool told me that some of the major private research schools in the U.S., including the usual Ivy League suspects, out on the East Coast, require faculty members to have a certain number of thousands of dollars of research funding for each square foot of the professor’s office space. It’s not just publish or perish anymore. Bring in research money or you may not get tenure or you won’t keep it. This is not new but it’s an expanding practice and may need to expand more here at Forty Acres. Good Longhorns need to be all about funding, actually. That would be my whole point.
THE WARRANT OFFICER’S WIFE And frankly there may have been good reason for trinket being a piece of shit, Professor Hauser was creating something, to give him the credit he deserves. He was building a business and a platform to teach coding, piece of shit though it may be, not to repeat myself or to show malice. Patience is especially a virtue in coding unlike in health care where we prefer speed of response. In tech even more than in other spheres of endeavor, the idea may not work the first time, or even the 33rd time, there’s a lot of problem-solving and many iterations. So, like, Professor Hauser suggested that the required matplotlib would perform better on the proprietary version of trinket, in other words by me paying a few dollars for a more sophisticated version of his program, not the free one used in class. During these last weeks of the semester paying a few dollars a month for a subscription to trinket-plus or whatever seemed like the route of least resistance.
The proprietary version didn’t work any better with matplotlib than the free one. Proprietary trinket also crashed when any attempt was made to add the required menu of choices. Professor Hauser could have been fucking with me intentionally, of course, not to sound all bigoted or anything but going by history, you know, and being analytical, as an informatician. There’s no reason to believe white people are playing any straighter post-Reconstruction than pre-Appomattox, you feel me, that’s my take on history and as someone who went to segregated history as a child. Professor Hauser knew that the subject of my project was race at UT and sabotaged it was one possibility, remember what Ms. Delco said? Far-fetched but not impossible. The more likely reason was error in his code. The platform didn’t work properly. Regardless, it was suddenly the end of the semester, you feel me, having given the old college try, and all, my decision was to write Python for the project as if it did work on trinket, which it did not, and which at that point was not my problem anymore. Eventually, after 16 weeks, turn-your-work-in-and-call-it-a-semester becomes my mantra. My tuition at UT is reasonable but it’s still a lot of money and it is not my responsibility to fix technology for class. If the syllabus says that you can do this or that on the platform, you need to be able to do this or that. And it was at that point, at that critical moment in my education, a mistake in judgment may have been made, by me. My only excuse is that it was a whole lotta fun. If there is such a thing as undergraduate humor, there’s also graduate student humor which is higher level and more refined, right?
So, like, in a video presentation that was also required for the final project in Professor Hauser’s class, honesty was called for and that included criticism of trinket as a platform for data presentations. Saying that it didn’t work as advertised, motherfucker, without the motherfucker part. Saying that trinket was a piece of shit without saying the piece of shit part. That was the gist of my presentation, yeah. You couldn’t make a good pie chart and nursing loves pie charts. Hello! What brought me to the School of Information in the first place, actually, was data presentation, so it was a big deal, yeah. Indeed in my humble heading-to-the-door opinion, if a platform can’t do that, it’s no good to me or maybe anyone else. At some point in my presentation the words “fucked up” or “fuck up” may have been uttered, as non-collegial as that may sound. Professor Hauser’s name was not used in vain, rest assured, even though he seemed like kind of a cockbite tech bro asshole, you know? Not to be judgmental. My “fucked-up” was directed at the Cosmos generally and at trinket specifically but not at its Creator. That’s part of the complexity of being a Longhorn actually, at Forty Acres one can be a cracker and a Creator, a perp and a visionary, not to go all metaphysical. The iSchool would have my back on this one, too, that was my feeling at the time of the final presentation.
“You’re allowed one f-bomb per semester,” an instructor had told us during first semester at the School of Information. He said it on Zoom at the height of the pandemic when temperatures were running high, so to speak. The prof said that as graduate students we got one free f-bomb per course and the rule has not been rescinded to my knowledge or if it has, nobody told me. And it’s largely been my experience in the iSchool, actually, personally letting loose once in a while over these four semesters but careful not to repeat it in the same class. And never directed at people, instead at issues or unfortunate facts. Call me noble if you will. Describing trinket as a POS, not Elliott Hauser as a peckerwood. Personally, speaking as a black man who has reached a certain age in the American South and attained a certain level of wisdom, an elder of the African American tribe you could say, all my differences with white people involve issues not personalities. This was not about crackers per se because in Austin there’s not enough time in the day to go down that well-trodden path. It was about my education which is very very very important, if only to me.
So, like, returning from Christmas vacation, after soaking up some needed rays on Mexican sand? Pacific side not Cozumel like the Law School guy who got probation, not that that’s important here. Dean Meyer’s office sent me an official notice. It turned out that Professor Hauser had dropped a f-bomb of his own, as in a failing grade. Which suddenly put my degree at risk, not to go all dramatic like an undergraduate. In grad school you’re expected to have some life skills and not turn into a complete sniveling punk just because something bad happens to you, like a F in class. A fairly high percentage of my classmates may own cats, and between classes they may like to talk about knitting or crocheting or whatever, and are hoping for jobs as children’s librarians, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have big ovaries and haven’t seen some shit in their day. Before they decided to go to Library School. To set the scene.
So, like, at first Dean Meyer told me that he had no authority to override an instructor’s grade, it was another aspect of faculty privilege or whatever, like tenure one supposes. Which was not true but did not upset me because there’s a lot of lying of campus, it’s like in summer camp back as a kid, if your parents had the money to send you to camp, which mine did not but white kids told me about later, and the camp staff told you that you were going to do one thing, to get you on the bus, and it turned out you were going to do something completely different? The iSchool offered to let me redo my final project on a platform other than trinket, meaning that Professor Hauser’s invention did not work properly, an offer which was rejected by me. As a matter of practicality alone, it didn’t seem like a good idea to begin my last semester working on a project from the prior semester, especially when the issue was that the university’s software did not worked properly the first time. Next Dean Meyer offered me a C+ which he knew was still a failing grade, that he thought was unknown to me. It was an opening bid of a hand of poker and he bluffed, there’s actually a lot of negotiation in academia but my fundamental policy is not to trust white people and that gets me past most opening moves.
My theory of the education offered by UT is that there is actually a certain amount of administrative bullshit included intentionally in the program, as part of the master’s or PhD or whatever. The question being asked by the University of Texas Regents is, so to speak, can this student successfully navigate a complex system like the School of Information? Which is a completely valid question, it seems to me, even as a student, in higher education we are there to learn to deal with people unlike ourselves. That’s part of the curriculum whether it’s on the syllabus or not. It would be a lot more useful piece of information if that was pointed out at the beginning of studies rather than last semester, be that as it may. In any case a student is only allowed to fail two classes and remain in the program, in other words iSchool at Forty Acres is a two-strike environment. Anything less that a B is a F, not to repeat myself, and you only get two of those over the whole two years or you’re out The black man bites the dust, in other words, not to sound overly dramatic.
Professor Hauser gave me a D- which was kind of overkill in my modest opinion. A C+ would have meant the same thing, and would have been less suspicious. If one were a suspicious Negro, unlike me. In any case that’s where it got interesting. What pulled me through was Ms. Delco’s warning. Also, having dealt with white people in the past, like my entire life actually, back to segregated schooling as a child. Race & color is a minefield everywhere in America but it’s more of a minefield where it has not been addressed, a category that includes the University of Texas at Austin although Forty Acres has gotten a lot better. That would be my thesis if this were a reflection for class. My feeling is that racism is not about skin color, btw, it’s about corruption—and unmerited advancement. Those are the real issues and include tenure promotions at public universities that only go to white people, which is a kind of cheating too. In that regard, looking over the record of my grades in Professor Hauser’s class, over four months, a couple of things stood out, not having paid any attention earlier, actually, because my coding was competent and my opinions are my own. My interest in my grades came only after being informed of the F. To set the scene.
Two-thirds of the points that the instructor took from me during those 16 weeks were from reflections not writing code. This was a class to learn Python, not to repeat myself, but the white instructor, late of the University of North Carolina at Wherever, and Duke University before that, didn’t like my world view or my impressions of the class or my concerns about race in high tech, which is Austin’s principal business, actually, let me tell you what it’s like. You can be minding your own black business, in the Live Music Capital of the World, humming a tune from Beyonce and walking a trail downtown, along the banks of the mighty Colorado, and who should you meet? A cracker. Or a tech bro which can be the same thing. That’s life in River City and has been for a while. If you asked me for my back of the envelope calculation, as an informaticist or informatician or whatever, in Austin one-third of the population are obligate crackers, one-third are opportunistic crackers, depending on the circumstances, and one-third of the white population is mostly okay but are mostly found out on the lake.
If you don’t have an opinion on the tech industry in ATX it’s because you don’t have a pulse. That is said as someone who has some feelings about tech assholes, to be honest, but who has way too much sense to write the words tech asshole in a paper that is going to be graded by a tech asshole. Give me some credit, please. At one point early in the semester Dr. Hauser asked for 300 to 500 word about how the class was progressing. My feeling was that things seemed disorganized. This “reflection,” as it’s called at the iSchool, included a suggestion that the instructor receive diversity training, after our encounters in the building. Both observations were my call because it was my reflection, not his. On another level, the instructor also needed to know that this wasn’t Duke anymore, or UNC at Wherever. At Forty Acres there is a tradition of speaking up. Although that was not explicitly part of my paper either, it was my subliminal message. Things at UT are different than in Virginia or N.C., or wherever, where they may still lash niggers, who knows, you’re not in North Carolina anymore motherfucker, without writing the “motherfucker” part. Call me noble if you will. Forty Acres is not perfect but it’s better than that.
And paying these tens of thousands of dollars for my coursework, which has been worth every dollar, btw, it was still my right to point out shortcomings in the course construction, so to speak. Especially if that’s what the instructor has just asked the class to do, to offer a critique. You may ask, well, were you trying to provoke this guy? Perish the thought. Elliott Hauser PhD wouldn’t even be on my list of people worth provoking. My provocation preference, living in ATX, is APD. And the occasional Department of Public Safety trooper if the opportunity presents itself but the DPS guys and girls are better-trained than the local pigs and harder to bait. If you asked me, “Who do you most like fucking with?” Elliott Hauser wouldn’t even be ranked.
But the rule among my people, taught during my upbringing at least, as kids back in the day, was to hold white people’s feet to the fire. My first NAACP membership was age five. Don’t let Caucasians get away with anything was my mother’s mantra. Anyway, he graded me 5 points out of 20 for that, the reflection that mentioned diversity training, me trying to pull his chain maybe just a little but not, like, big time, or not like he deserved. Again, call me noble if you will.
On another reflection, worth 50 points, he asked for our thoughts about potential diversity challenges in the coding world. Grading my response, Dr. Dickwad wrote on the grading rubric that my life experience in an industry—health care—full of racial inequalities, well, he wrote that my fear that the coding world would be similar was misplaced. “Coding while black” was in my paper, too, about the possible dangers in the white world of high tech being probably not very different from any other sphere of employment in the U.S., actually. It was my argument that there was no reason to believe that the coding world is any different than anywhere else, and was probably worse in terms of diversity. Which is what the stats indicate, btw. Professor Hauser didn’t have to believe it but he did have to respect a different view than his own. Which he did not. For this reflection, me not pulling his chain even a little, although he deserved it, he gave me 30 points out of 50—a D which, as mentioned above, is a F in the School of Information. Grading my thoughts as wrong, literally. That’s what you call a cracker in my world, although my mother taught me to use cracker and peckerwood interchangeably. This peckerwood failed me for not sharing a white instructor’s view of the world. You couldn’t make it up. He wrote in the margin that my personal experience of racism was “irrelevant” to viewing the coding world, that’s what he put on the grading rubric, “Irrelevant.” If you don’t want to know what students think, don’t ask. That would be my suggestion, it’s grad school not high school. So, like, this was not an isolated instance either, not to carry tales from Forty Acres, not to talk out of school, but apparently some instructors value their own academic freedom more than they value freedom for the student.
In another class, “Data Storytelling,” taken that same Semester From Hell, my third at the iSchool, my experience went further south, as in Antebellum South. Whereas the present term, barreling toward graduation, is the Semester of Liberation. UT is about to let me loose on the world. My anti-racist toolkit now includes a lot of moves learned at the iSchool actually, thank you, Dean Meyer. So, like, in Data Storytelling we were learning how to make charts and graphs, just like for my final project in Professor Hauser’s class but in Data Storytelling we were using a desktop platform called Tableau instead of code. To set the scene. You may know Tableau, it’s kind of cool. Anyway, this was so not a provocation on my part.
My preference working with data is finding good datasets and making the correct analysis, not so much what the presentation looks like, not like the pretty graphs that interest the kids in class more than what the graphs themselves show. My take as an older and more experienced student is that what your presentation looks like is important but what’s more important is what the data shows. Substance versus appearance, in other words. So, like, for our midterm project in Data Storytelling we had been told to find a dataset that we felt “passionate about,” literally, that’s what the syllabus said. As “a low-risk opportunity,” that was also what the syllabus said, to give us an opportunity to run with our idea. And this was coming from a young white chick who was the instructor, or at least young to me, herself an iSchool grad. To set the scene. Whose day job was in the oil industry in Houston which meant she was totally sus, as in suspect, like the Brits say, from the start, not to be judgmental but if viewed clearly through a racial justice lens. Which includes environmental racism that her employer, Exxon Mobil or whoever, is probably up to its corporate neck in. To set the scene again. Because blacks and Latinos are on the receiving end of pollution more often than whites who make the mess in the first place. Not to generalize or anything. So, like, my datasets for the midterm project in this class, Data Storytelling, were all obtained from the City of Austin and consisted of a file of police traffic stops and profiling numbers by race, actually. Humming a tune from Beyonce, working the data up into a nice little PowerPoint, something that reflected my passions as a Negro, you could say.
Complete with a voiceover that pointed out the large number of stops in which the officer “forgot” to record the race of the driver stopped. Which is a common problem with APD puercos, without calling them puercos, but describing them subliminally as puercosbased upon their behavior, because between you and me these pigs “forget” a lot to submit complete data on traffic stops, that was my whole point in the PowerPoint. So, like, the voiceover sounded good to me, as a member of the colored peoples of the earth. But the Data Storytelling instructor, the white chick mentioned above, she emailed me that she did not like my “use of color” in the presentation and she demanded a meeting to change my presentation or, she told me, this is no shit, she would give me—these were her exact words, “a poor grade.” Because of my “use of color,” no shit, not to repeat myself. Not so much of a low-risk opportunity after all, huh? That’s Forty Acres. There are still crackers and crackerettes on campus, even at the highly-ranked School of Information, and you may have to navigate rough seas as a minority student. The Lone Star State is still the South, just like the Carolinas or Virginia, as a black student you forget that fact only at great risk to your academic success. Danger may lurk in the gradebook. This was my administrative handicap, imposed by the UT Regents, so to speak, included as part of my education, a hoop to jump through, in order to make me better prepared to survive in the “real world,” wherever that may be. It did make me stronger but suppose it hadn’t? Luckily for me, having pulled on my big girl panties once or twice before, Professor Hauser’s bullshit and the bullshit of the Data Storytelling instructor wasn’t a big deal. But there are no half measures for black people. You have to get on crackers like a hound dog at hunting time, as Uncle Jed used to say in The Beverly Hillbillies, back in the day, on black and white television. But if you’re a kid who has come to the School of Information just out of your bachelor’s program for example, it could be traumatic, no?
My final reflection for Professor Hauser was supposed to be a “cultural immersion” assignment, about diversity, we had to go to an online meet-up of new coders and write about the experience. So far, so good. With an eye towards diversity, actually, the professor said. He did not grade that assignment at all, as in zero. That was my grade, zero. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It was Professor Hauser’s loss anyway if one looks thru the lens of karma, which is a big part of life here in the Live Music Capital of the World. One likes to stay on the right side of the dope-smoking angels, you feel me, in River City. So, like, this final reflection for Professor Dickwad included my only good comments about Introduction to Programming,actually, beside Python itself. Which is a wonderful thing and a beautiful invention, not to go all nerdy or anything. So, like, you don’t have to be friends with people who are in your class, that would be my whole point. Even the instructor. You don’t have to like him or her. You can still learn to code because that’s what Python allows you to do. It’s easy, which is incredibly powerful. So, like, the meet-up for my last reflection was online, maybe 15 people, most of them in Austin or S.A., and all coders. To set the scene.
There was a white chick, btw, who was a waitress in San Antonio before she went to a UT coding camp or wherever and who saw programming as a way into the middle class. That’s what a skill can do for you, btw, her story was moving actually and that’s coming from one of the least sentimental people in the world. She was literally bettering herself at Forty Acres, or wherever, just as a lot of us are trying to do. In one of my break-out rooms there was also a Brit, an older guy, not as old as me but old enough, maybe mid-40s, he was old enough to have the experience to generalize about the high tech world that the rest of us were trying to enter. He was participating in the meetup as a facilitator, not a beginner This older guy had worked in the Midwest somewhere and was now in ATX, he was apparently a well-established programmer, in other words, at least that’s how he seemed on Zoom, believe what you will. He was a tech guy who knew some of the ins and outs of the software world. Not a tech bro exactly, more a “tech daddy,” if there is such an expression, because he was there to help. He said that coding is a meritocracy, which is what you hear from a lot of coders too. You can either write the code or you cannot, it’s either an efficient program or it’s not, there’s a lot of machismo actually, even from the chicks. To set the scene again.
But getting the job is all about who you know.
That’s what this experienced Brit said.
That may also be why minorities fail or fall behind the curve in technology. You have to be part of what is basically a White Network to get the gig, as seen through the CRT lens that the Governors don’t like but seems super useful to me. Your skill set is meaningless if you don’t get a chance to use it, because you’re dealing with tech bros or tech assholes, as the case may be. The Brit engineer didn’t say the tech bros part, that was me, but he might as well. For that reflection, my account of the importance of the meetup, what Professor Hauser called in the syllabus “Cultural Immersion,” he gave me zero, thank you very much. And this was before he graded my final project which reached the conclusion that trinketwas kind of a POS and certainly did not perform as advertised. Not to sound overly sensitive but as someone who has lived to a gray age with my huevos unbroken, and who knows Massah’s ways and should not have been surprised. For the project he graded me 16 out of 60, not to unduly rag the professor or accuse him of unfairness or mention that hateful word—just as bad as nigger, actually. But a word that somehow falls so softly upon my ear? Cracker. Throughout this racial ordeal at Forty Acres,however, my composure remained intact and my cool was cool, like, well, a Black Martyr? Never said the c-word directly to the c-word but thought it in lecture, over the course of 16 weeks, maybe a couple of times.
If you wonder why some minority students may not have good outcomes, unlike many whites, that is part of the reason, if one looks once again through the lens of critical race theory. One has to account for crackers. Not for revenge because it’s my responsibility as an information scientist, not to sugar coat but to call faux-liberal white guys and white girls out scientifically. Like, motherfucker, your data is bad, or motherfucker your code does not work, without saying the motherfucker part. A white instructor can undermine a student of color subtly, not on multiple choice tests or objective measures, but on subjective content like reflections. Where there’s no right answer and he or she—the white guy or white girl teaching the class, in this case Assistant Professor Elliott Hauser, late of the University of North Carolina at Wherever, and Duke before that, and now tenure-track faculty of the School of Information at Forty Acres. He can just say he didn’t like your work. Even if it’s a coding class. Or he doesn’t agree with the student’s opinion, literally, even if that’s not what the class is about or it’s not his field. It’s completely subjective. It is whatever the cracker instructor says it is. She doesn’t like your “use of color,” for example, even though the syllabus says you’re free to do what you want. That’s faculty privilege too.
So, like, my bachelor’s is from Medical Branch and having worked in a few hospitalsover the years and talked to a lot of nursing students in this white-female dominated profession, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The greatest fear of being washed out of any kind of nursing program may not be theory but instead performing skills. For a minority student the danger is not always in the classroom. In class, grading is mostly objective—you either picked the right answer, generally on a multiple-choice test, or you did not. In nursing education, btw, at least back in the day. It was often some version of the same question. What patient would you see first? You’re given some facts about the conditions of Patients A, B, C & D, or whoever, you’re starting your shift, and which patient do you see first? That kind of thing. In the hospital where you do your clinical practice, however, under the instructor’s watchful eye, it’s a different kind of evaluation altogether and almost purely subjective. The instructor can just say, “I didn’t like the way you took care of that patient,” and you’re toast.
There may be nothing you can do, just as with Professor Hauser. Or the instructor can find a thread to pick at and the result is the unraveling of your healthcare career. A nursing instructor can set standards that a given student cannot pass, even if Florence Nightingale couldn’t pass either. Or the instructor can say, “You just don’t have the right stuff,” in other words you’re washed out in clinicals not the classroom. A Nigerian-American nursing student at Forty Acres—an African American female in other words—gave me an example a few years ago of what this subjective standard means in practice and this is my third best Longhorn story, just to alert you ahead of time. This Nigerian-American shared with me her experience of UT as a black woman. It’s ugly.
But it’s funny too.
So, like, first let me say that this young woman was no bomb-thrower or radical. She wasn’t looking for trouble. Her husband was a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, a warrant officer like a lot of the guys who fly choppers, stationed up the road at Ft. Hood, actually. While she studied nursing at Forty Acres. To set the scene. We met at a nursing home that employed us both for a while on weekends, here in this bucolic River City, south of the river although that’s not important here. Both she and her husband bought into the whole American dream big time. And power to them if that’s what they wanted, which it apparently was. White people should embrace recently-arrived black people more, from the Caribbean and from Africa, because they still believe things about America that slave descendants like my family stopped believing when the chains came out. Nigerians especially, this is a stereotype but it’s stereotypically true—in my experience. Nigerians are just like Chinese in one important respect. They’re all about the education. An attitude that the rest of us could learn from, actually.
So, like, this Nigerian-American chick was a Longhorn-in-training you could say, close to the end of her studies like me now, and wanted to work NICU, not that that’s important here either. One quiet night at the nurses station, at the nursing home, with a faint aroma of pee in the air, not because the patients were poorly cared-for but because not everyone always made it to the toilet in time. To set the scene. So, like, this Nigerian chick and me had wiped booties together which is a particularly strong bond between nurses and she trusted me. So, like, she was the one who first told me about a big difference between how white and how black female nursing students were treated at Forty Acres, at the clinical site for school, which was a local hospital. This is ugly, not to repeat myself and it’s really funny too. Or you would have laughed if you were there when this black lady Longhorn was talking.
So, like, she said that during a messy procedure or surgery or whatever, at the hospital that was the clinical site for her class, a white female nursing student went into a big dramatic fainting scene, back of her hand to her forehead and all that, like Miss Ann, as my mother used to say. Or like Miss Scarlet or whoever in Gone With the Wind, you know? That level of drama, slumping to the floor, or whatever, unconscious or presumably unconscious, like, yes, a damn drama queen. She did not say that but that is the biggest part of the drama queen population, fyi, white girls, in my opinion, speaking as a budding data guy who is surrounded by white women at work and who has run a few back-of-the-envelope calculations, so to speak. At the nursing station my Nigerian-American colleague did a pantomime of a delicate fainting white girl, it was pretty good actually and is beyond my ability to mimic here.
So, like, they gave the white lady Longhorn who fainted smelling salts, or whatever, to revive her delicate ass, or whatever, but that was only the lead-in to this black chick’s Forty Acres tale. After the fainting scene, the now-revived white girl got hugs and kisses and pats on the back from the instructor and from the other students. Which seemed to piss off this Nigerian-American chick just a tad, you know why? Because a black female nursing student who became ill during a procedure got a write-up and a threat of a failing grade. That was what it was like with Professor Hauser. That’s how you sabotage a minority student’s education, actually. Passing a course is not only about what questions you answered correctly on the test or even code that works. In a coding class he failed me over my view of the world. As a black man twice his age, not that there’s anything wrong with that, you’re penalized for having a different view of how the world works than the Elliott Hausers who run the world, actually, if one looks through a CRT lens, not to repeat myself. Fuck this peckerwood was my gut reaction to the failing grade but as an information scientist there was more research to do before making a final call if he was a cracker or not. The F grade was not because of my code, just to repeat, it was because of my reflections. So, like, almost exactly 100 of 150 points that the motherfucker subtracted over the course of the semester were related to my views of the world. In a subjective grading environment or on a subjective assignment an instructor can do pretty much what the fuck he or she wants to do. That’s academic privilege too, like tenure, apparently.
Still, as a Longhorn, as an almost-official member of the UT community, the Longhorn Nation and all that, like the Freemasons or La Cosa Nostra, not to be judgmental. One likes to forgive Longhorn sins and focus instead on Longhorn virtue and Longhorn lore. If one can. To find a realm other than microaggressions or meth production, which seemed okay to me at the time, not to repeat myself, the meth part. Forty Acres is a wonderful school that, at the same time, is capable of some pretty grievous shit, to individuals and to society. As a Longhorn it’s important to keep that risk in mind, the danger of sin as well as the glory of achievement. Just as much as the great research is the potential for great wrong, not to go all Biblical or anything. But you don’t want to ignore the risk of things going south at Forty Acres, for any number of reasons, even while one basks in the aura of being a new Longhorn. Remember what Ms. Delco said, that would be my whole point. And all’s well that ends well, right? All three of my professors this semester, my last, are white guys, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Each of them has been completely cool and intellectually honest. And, God forbid at the iSchool, helpful.
This semester’s instructors view their role as helping me to articulate my rap, or my experience, not telling me what to say. One of my classes is in the Law School and the instructor, Bryan Jones, is a former Longhorn swimmer and he’s a guy who probably has far different views of the world than my own. He has insisted in rigor in my opinions but has not told me what to say. That’s not his call and he knows it, without us getting into a confrontation. Bryan Jones is College of Engineering too, btw, like some of the bad guys, yet he’s been completely cool, a lot of white Longhorn athletes are cool, even the ones with engineering degrees are not all bad but as a matter of environmental justice, and environmental survival, a lot of these guys and girls will be smoking their last cigarette come the revolution. Not to be judgmental.
Not Professor Jones. He is electrical engineering anyway, who rank high my esteem because they’re not usually whackjobs like the mechanical guys or girls or the petroleum/chemical people. The electrical engineers invented the cell phone technology that allows us to catch bad cops on camera, actually. To set the scene. Not everybody in the College of Engineering deserves a blindfold and a last cigarette, or joint, but a pretty high percentage, yeah. If you want to know my whole big Longhorn College of Engineering theory, the electrical guys and girls are all right but it’s downhill from there. Having met, like, five or six cool white guys in Austin in the last half century, not to sound racist, one is Bryan Jones and another is Lance Hayden, from the School of Information actually, who is one of the readers of my Master’s Report and has also been perfectly okay. Anyway, the mechanical engineering guys and girls are generally not at all introspective, they’re only concerned with torque, or friction or whatever, not to generalize. The civil engineers need to be watched especially closely because they view any big ambitious projects that “tame nature” as good, even when nature doesn’t need to be tamed. That includes the Provost, Dr. Wood, who is reportedly a civil engineer, can’t be bothered to look up her training, frankly. The engineering chick who got tenure when the pregnant Dr. Nikolova did not? She was petroleum engineering, btw, that’s what they don’t tell you at new student orientation, UT is all about petroleum engineering. That’s something they may not have discussed in the federal court trial. At the College of Engineering there are the petroleum guys and girls and then there’s everybody else. What can you say, that’s Forty Acres. It’s scary, actually. Longhorns helped create the petroleum industry, and helped to create our petroleum-based way of life. Not to sound like a wild-eyed graduate student.
In another one of my classes this semester, Data Wrangling, my instructor is Professor Howison, who is British or Australian by birth, somewhere in the Commonwealth, you know? Completely okay, for a white guy, not to sound racist or condescending. So, like, one day he came into class all excited because he told us that he had just received U.S. citizenship. To set the scene. And my thought at the time was, “You’ll be sor-r-r-y-y-y,” because the black experience of the American dream is different from white people’s, you feel me? If this had been a reflection in Professor Peckerwood’s class, that would have been another failing grade because, in the best tradition of crackers. Dr. Dickhead wants to dictate what black people think. Which is not what brought me to Forty Acres, actually, and which my instructors have mostly understood and respected. The black man’s search is for skills not someone else’s ideology, if one looks through a CRT lens.
FORTY ACRES The institution that is role model for the University of Texas is the University of California. Ten campuses, from UC San Diego to UC Berkeley, research fame and fortune, $46 billion budget, UC used to develop nuclear weapons and actually helped give birth to the Hiroshima bomb, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s where former Longhorn president Dr. Fenves came from (Berkeley) and where UT System’s old leader, Mark Yudof, went as leader, to University of California Office of the President (UCOP) in Oakland, called UCOP the same way that CIA is called CIA. To set the scene. Mark Yudof was brought to Oakland from Austin by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, who was the longtime chair of the UC Board of Regents. Dianne Feinstein’s father is said to have been one of if not the first Jewish surgeon to receive tenure at UCSF.
Both these guys, Gregg Fenves & Mark Yudof are all about the money which is a good thing in the present context. A lot of money, which the University of Texas actually does have—both at the moment and historically—ours is the second biggest endowment in the United States and about to be #1, actually. Or so says Bloomberg news. That wealth traces in large part to petrochemical leases, not to repeat myself. Which has allowed UTIMCO to grow rich. UT needs more money still, more than the gobs of black gold the university already has, in order to retool and get out of the oil & gas business actually. It’ll be ugly, changing direction, and expensive too. The Lone Star State’s trademark industry, not ranching or whatever, is a dirty business. And UT has known that for a long time. Even decades ago, at the Board for Lease of University Lands, which controls energy exploitation for UT and Texas A&M, out on the range or whatever in West Texas twenty years ago there were already widespread reports of pollution by abandoned wells on UT lands. Indeed, there are two great Texas-sized public health lies that UT has had a share in promoting and that are shameful or mostly shameful, depending on if you’re a Longhorn or not. And both relate to the energy industry.
#1 is about what Texas Monthly long ago dubbed “Cancer Alley,” or the “Cancerbelt,” the stretch of Texas beginning with the chemical plants of Victoria or thereabouts, up thru Houston and east to the refinery towns of the Golden Triangle, Beaumont, Port Arthur & Orange, shitholes all, except maybe Beaumont on a good day, may you never have to go. All the way to the border of Louisiana, actually. The State of Texas has promoted the fiction that a high number of cancer cases are just aggregated individual cases and have nothing to do with our defining industry, oil & gas. Hello! A more realistic take is that there’s a good reason for UT’s Houston campus being a center of oncology excellence, because there’s been a lot of cancer around that part of the world. To set the scene. Although UT researchers mostly stop short of condemning our trademark business like they do cigarettes or gun violence. The second lie hits particularly close to home for us in the Longhorn Nation and is about the same industry but in West Texas. Where there is a lot of fouled water and where there are a lot of damaged natural habitats, btw, our guilt as Longhorns even more striking because water resources have been polluted to pay for our lifestyle at Forty Acres, so to speak. We kind of invented the modern petrochemical industry, right?
Or perfected it. Energy extraction. And made a lot of money doing it. Our role model the University of California claims to have quit its fossil-fuel investment portfolio entirely, while what UT is or is not doing about oil & gas is harder to parse. The press generally won’t tell the truth about UT’s money because oil & gas is a source of media funding too. Which is something we’ll get to shortly, in the information science context. Anyway, UC patented the kind of academic healthcare research institution that UT’s new Dell Medical School wants to be, and make a lot of money doing it, which is actually crucial for Forty Acres to do and should warm Longhorn hearts. Forty Acres needs a lot of money from a non-fossil source and it looks like the Regents have chosen health care to do that, for UT to be a big provider in Texas the same way UC is a big healthcare provider in California. To set the scene again. The good news is that the health care industry doesn’t involve drillingor refining. A good example of the kind of business we want here at Forty Acres comes from UC’s main healthcare campus, in San Francisco, UCSF, where the research is mostly paid for.
UCSF is Dell Medical School’s role model, not to repeat myself, and is where a lot of Dell faculty come from actually and has been the largest public recipient of National Institutes of Health dollars for, like, the last decade. In part because of good research and in part because Nancy Pelosi is UCSF’s Congressional representative, not that there’s anything wrong with that, a good member of Congress brings home the bacon for his or her district. At UCSF’s Mount Parnassus they could be doing water torture or burning witches at the stake and the NIH would still be providing funding, for UCSF not Dell, that is. While Johns Hopkins is #1 among private schools. To set the scene again. It’s not all about good medicine. UCSF’s researchers get slices of contracts too, teaching is a secondary priority after the “bench-to-bedside” medical innovations and processes that can be worth gold. At Mount Parnassus, which is the name of the original UCSF campus, as is true of some departments at Forty Acres also, the students are there to learn but the professors are not necessarily there to teach. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either, actually. A lot of researchers come to campus to make a buck, in San Francisco & in Austin, especially thru patents—not patients—and Intellectual Property, like Professor Dickwad at the School of Information. That’s the modern medical research university model, in a nutshell, public or private, the business of medicine you can call it in the Longhorn context. One UCSF patent—not a patient—of the kind that UT Dell would love to have—is for a Hepatitis B vaccine, licensed by the University of California back in the day and apparently still making bank today. Because all healthcare workers in the U.S. are required to be vaccinated against Hep B, it’s been worth millions to the UC Regents, good medicine that is good business for the university, that’s the idea but not always the practice.
UC watchers say that UC claims to have gotten out of fossil fuel investments entirely and moved into tech and health care but is lying and has merely transferred that bucket of investments to private equity firms that continue to invest in non-renewables. Quien sabe? That particular lie is of course also a possibility at the University of Texas Investment Management Company, in the state where the modern oil & gas industry was born and where we are reluctant to stop sucking on the Big Oil titty. UTIMCO says that it’s doing a great job for the Longhorn endowment in non-renewable energy, or whatever, but actually is probably doing something that is about as green as napalm. UTIMCO’s CEO and his deputy made $3 million and $2 million, respectively, in bonuses alone last year, during a time of high oil prices, just like now. What do you think these two guys really want to invest in? Big pay days will be at risk if there’s a switch to an investment strategy that downplays oil & gas. Nobody in Texas wants to endanger this money stream, UT is just faking it in other words, because for us in the Longhorn Nation the petrochemical industry is this great big-fat juicy titty to stop sucking on, you know? Not to be crude or profane. Which is where Professor Hauser and tenure comes in yet again.
So, like, my first impression of the iSchool two years ago, being out of the university mix for a while, was that the instructors don’t really teach as much today as back in the day, not to repeat myself. At Forty Acres it soon became clear why. Faculty have demanding responsibilities for research and for bringing in all-important research funding. Even for low-ranking people like assistant professors, teaching may not be a primary goal. So, like, for that reason, arriving at the iSchool during full pandemic, for me this was a big change in instructional pedagogy. The new higher education culture and all that. My undergraduate education began at UCLA in 1973 when slide rules were just going out of style and, equally archaically, students could make big claims on the professor’s time. Today it’s just not like that, at least not at the School of Information. So, like, at the iSchool students are adistraction from the researcher’s other responsibilities. Or so one imagines. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because research is a big deal. On the other hand, at UCLA back in the day the instructors were delighted if you dropped by their offices, even unexpectedly, because it was an indication that you might one day come to class! Today going to see an instructor even during office hours can be like arriving at someone’s house when they’re eating dinner. They don’t want to be interrupted.
Even the low-level guys like Dr. Dickwad of Introduction to Programming. And in this case it’s not the instructor’s fault nor even the university’s. It isn’t Provost Wood’s lack of attention or President Fenves’ mercenary approach to tenure. Or the Regents “just playing games.” What UT provides now at the iSchool and presumably across campus are toolsand “road maps” to a graduate education but the students are teaching themselves or teaching each other. Which is pretty cool, actually. An improvement in the learning dynamic from back in the day, when we were taught, not to sound like a dinosaur, which is considered really Old School, when the student was recipient of an education. There’s been a change in the higher ed playbook in other words that requires more of the student, in a good way. At UT it feels more now as if we’re teaching ourselves, which is kind of empowering, actually, as seen thru a black liberation lens.
It’s no longer possible to complain either, “They’re not teaching me what I want to learn.” At least not in the iSchool because they’re not teaching you so much anymore at all and what you’re learning is what you‘ve chosen to learn. At UCLA we didn’t have the technology except books and an overhead projector, which didn’t always work, not to sound ancient or sound deprived. Remember chalkboards with white dust all over the professor’s hands? Those were the old days. That’s mostly gone now, except the lonely squeak of dry-erase markers. The hands are still mostly white. Today students can find all the resources they need online, or so it is said. That was my impression as a first-year at the School of Information at Forty Acres, in the Year of Our Lord 2020, which is not necessarily a bad thing as long as everyone is on the same page, that we’re teaching ourselves. So, like, it was kind of my fault as a non-traditional student, actually, not to blame myself when it’s so much easier to blame someone on campus? Arriving at Forty Acres after the rules had changed and not knowing about the new instructional plan, you know? You’ll teach yourself or teach each other. And with my learning curve made worse by pandemic and by ZOOM. It was all a bit disconcerting, not to cry like a sniveling little bitch.
In nursing school the instructors were on our asses 24-7, btw, back in the day and presumably still today, instead of ignoring us, but that’s only because in health sciences the instructors need to make sure students don’t kill patients. If the patient dies at a student nurse’s hands, for example, that can really spoil the student’s clinical experience. There’s a story you used to hear in the Austin children’s hospital, back in the day, about a Longhorn nursing student, a guy. This would be, like, my #3 or #4 best Longhorn story but there’s a good reason to disqualify it from consideration. But tell it anyway. So, like, this male nursing student pushed a couple of ounces of tube feeding, thick and gooey stuff like oil, actually, that is intended to go into the stomach, where the fluid is broken down by stomach acid, this idiot Longhorn nursing student put the feeding into a sick kid’s central line, like an IV straight into the heart, used for meds, and the patient died. My memory is having heard that cautionary tale at least a couple of times at work, and told it maybe three or four times myself, you know, shooting the shit at the nurses station on a quiet shift, maybe the students were coming in the morning and the message we were formulating to give the day nurses was watch out? Although as it turned out the anecdote was not true and was apparently invented by graduates of another nursing school who were jealous of the Longhorn Nation. Ain’t that a bitch? The story almost made it into my top Longhorn anecdotes, the only reason to hold back being that it wasn’t true. Not to be a purist or anything. There are a total of 6 stories in my repertoire of great UT anecdotes. And Number Five involves Jeffery Hildebrand, the Governor’s money guy. Number Six involves Jenna Bush, daughter of the president. But those come two come later.
So, like, it wasn’t like that at the School of Information. There was no one showing any particular interest in our academic progress, certainly not Dean Meyer. You couldn’t even get him to stop the security guard from asking black men to show identification to enter the building. No one cared whether you succeeded or not. No one told me starting class during pandemic that we were now expected to learn for ourselves, not to repeat myself. Or better learn among ourselves. Which may not be a bad thing, actually, not to repeat myself, but does need to be a fairly-managed one. Which brings us back to tenure. This is a wonderful opportunity for minorities at Forty Acres and the Republican leadership to bond. Lieutenant Governor Patrick is not the only person to have doubts about faculty privilege. Both of two incredibly diverse demographics (black people on one side, and hardcore Republican governors on the other) may actually agree it’s time to send some white liberals to the showers, as seen through a Longhorn team lens. A good guess is that the tenure profile at Forty Acres, if anyone bothered to look, includes a high number of white guys who claim to be liberals—radicals even, and are growing beards to prove it. Or tech bros like Professor Assbite, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Followed closely by white chicks who also claim to be liberals but who mostly want the same things the white guys wanted before, does that sound racist? The worst thing the Governors can do to undermine The Left in Austin is to look at UT’s system of tenure and report the numbers by race and gender, at this liberal institution, our very own Forty Acres. Dr. Hauser for example must now be very close to his own tenure vote, to determine if he should be promoted to associate professor or not. While Professor Smith has been threatened with losing her job if she teaches CRT. To set the scene. In other words the white guy’s career progresses while the black female is at risk. That’s a screenplay we’ve seen before in Hollywood and in life.
Did you know that Governor Patrick is not a Longhorn? That makes him a rarity in state government and it’s a good thing. He’s not a member of the Longhorn Nation at all and that may be fortunate. Because the Lieutenant Governor may be right questioning this particular faculty privilege, and not because Critical Race Theory is being taught. Getting rid of some white West Austin Liberal deadwood may be a good thing for blacks, Asians and Latinos, like “thinning the herd” as they called it during pandemic? But surprisingly, if tenure does survive, Professor Hauser is a good candidate for promotion, even though he’s a cracker, late of Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Wherever before that. Professor Smith is also a good candidate because she knows her shit and because her area of interest is race in the algorithms that now rule our lives. Whether you call it critical theory or anything else. While Governor Abbott has yet another take.
Greg Abbott who you could call a lapsed Longhorn, actually, said that tenure should be studied which is potentially even deadlier to liberals than Governor Patrick’s ultimatum. Because we’ll get the number, get the stats on tenure at UT. Nor can you believe the minorities who do have tenure at Forty Acres when they are called upon to defend the privilege, as they will certainly be called upon to do, because they have a vested interest in a system in which they have advanced. That doesn’t mean it’s good for the people of Texas or even good for the university, or for minorities overall. The operative question is does tenure help UT make money, and that never gets asked in public, actually. That’s Austin. It’s a really pretty mercenary place, even if the music is good. Liberals talk a great game but there’s a high b.s. content and sometimes you have to hold your nose because there’s so much stink. Like when Bevo takes a shit? Which is something else they don’t warn you about at new student orientation. With that background, back to Professor Hauser’s class and see how the semester played out.
In each of my classes there’s been an end-of-semester project designed to put to use everything from the prior 16 weeks. To set the scene. The School of Information is what used to be the School of Library Science, btw, archives and all that—Dewey Decimal and now Mr. Google. Archives are still important but databases and UX are probably bigger to this particular faculty, that is my impression as a student. Anyway, after almost two years at the iSchool talking to the other students, online at first and increasingly in person, as pandemic abated, who are mostly in their twenties or early thirties and a lot of white women—plus a lot of overseas Chinese, and folks from South Asia. The greatest number of my sister and fellow students identified not as black or white or Asian or Native American but as UX. Like it’s a nationality, “I’m UX.” Hello! The UX abbreviation was literally unknown to me, as in unknown in life, until my first semester at the iSchool. UX ambitions notwithstanding, many of the students whatever their specialty wanted to learn coding. Like me.
So, like, Professor Hauser offered two choices for our final project for the class. We could create a game using Python or alternatively do a data presentation with tables or charts or whatever. The platform for both choices was actually the professor’s own creation—that he in fact owns or part-owns called “trinket” and that is supposed to allow students to run Python and see the output immediately. To set the scene. We used trinket for practice in class and for homework during the second half of the semester and it worked okay but had a few bugs, yeah. trinket was kind of cool but limited. You kind of felt in class, from the prof’s comments, and all, that he preferred we create an animated game for our final project, which the platform apparently handles well enough. The game was some version of two turtles chasing each other across a computer screen. At the bottom of the syllabus there were links to videos that the instructor himself helped to create and was selling on the subject of—surprise—how to create games using trinket. Which at first seemed kind of dodgy to me, as in unethical, but college instructors require their classes to buy textbooks written by the professor him- or herself all the time, right, so, like, what’s the difference? What is for sale by the prof is no longer a textbook, like back in the day.
Even at Medical Branch twenty years ago we had already moved away from printed material to computer screens, one lives and learns as a non-traditional student, things are no longer like they were before. Bottom line there were glitches in trinket, software that did not quite work, and not to be judgmental Professor Hauser copped kind of a “tech bro’” attitude with me. Which got old PDQ which is an Old School expression that means pretty damn quick that you don’t hear so much anymore. So, like, in Introduction to Programmingwe were also assigned a few “reflections” that are very popular right now at the School of Information. If you enter the master’s program which in my opinion is a very good program, be prepared to write, even if you’re a UX guy or girl. Maybe a few hundred or 1000 words on assigned topics, what you think about this or that, even in coding class. The student is asked about something being studied, a process or an idea or whatever. Or a problem. My first reflection for Professor Hauser reflected my belief that coding is difficult to learn in part because of the people who teach it. Not writing it in a snarky way at all, the snarkiness would come later in the semester, like Week 10 or Week 11?
My thesis in that first reflection was that a lot of programmers may not have the best interpersonal skills and may not communicate well. Because they’re in front of a computer screen a lot, one supposes, as in their whole fucking life, without the “whole fucking life” part in my reflection.
That was my impression of coders, anyway, as prejudiced as it may sound here, and as limited as my prior experience in programming, which was little—but not nil. Before enrolling in Dr. Dickhead’s class. Being in Austin you’re in the environment kind of, more and more every day, actually. The population is heavily techie and you have to know how to navigate The Matrix some days in River City, especially at Forty Acres. If you don’t have electronic game the bots will get you. But not being suicidal, you feel me, my every effort in this first reflection was to make clear that it was not my belief in this class, Introduction to Programming with Dr. Elliott Hauser, late of the University of North Carolina at Wherever and now a tenure-track assistant professor in the iSchool. Because it wasn’t at that point. That would come later, not to repeat myself. The professor gave me full credit but my suspicion was that he didn’t like the viewpoint and that was what led to the back-turning bullshit, not to sound all paranoid or anything. This is said as an African American who at that point in my life, as the Fall Semester of 2021 was unfolding—having lived to the ripe old age 65, actually, people have to start giving up their seats to me on the bus. The important fact is that my huevos are unbroken, not to brag or anything. And having crumbled a few crackers into my soup through the years, so to speak, and having faked out a few fake liberals, their heads mounted on my wall to prove the kill. Partly due to successfully reading white people’s body language which is still a must-have skill for people of color in a southern state.
Designing a game for my final project just didn’t interest me. Programming is a tool, a weapon even, in the struggle for Black Liberation. It’s not a game. As a healthcare worker my interest, too, what led me to graduate school in the first place and was only reinforced by the pandemic, and what is causing me right now to miss my afternoon nap at age 66, while finishing a Master’s Report that no one will ever see in order to get the fuck out of here, is—data analysis. Data is cool. Writing code to allow two cartoon turtles to move across a fucking computer screen is not. And as an African American warrior always on the lookout for a new spear to stick crackers, Professor Hauser unknowingly offered just that, a second non-gaming option for the final project. We could do a data presentation he said. Mine was going to be about race at the University of Texas, actually, to display Forty Acres’ demographics in a series of charts using Python. The instructor signed off. But trinket, piece of shit that it turned out to be, didn’t work the way that was described in the syllabus. Au contraire, mon ami. To set the scene again.
And it had nothing to do with an instructor who wrote the software fucking with my interface to his creation, oh no, that could not be true. A suspicious Negro might believe that my problems with the platform were created intentionally by a cracker, late of the University of North Carolina, but that would not be me. There’s a lot of sneaky shit that gets done in the tech world because that’s what it means to show people you’re smarter than they are, by tricking. Not to be judgmental. To give Dr. Assbite the benefit of the doubt the real problem was that his invention didn’t work properly. The code was bad, in other words. So, like, apparently only me and a handful of other students wanted to do data, including the two sisters in class who were really really really smart. They’re Nigerian-American and they certainly showed this noble slave-descendant a technological thing or two. My belief as a black man is that one’s technological game needs to be just as tight as one’s game on the court. Or one’s game in the boudoir, one’s ability to hit three-pointers in the sheets so to speak, which at my age is a skill that is fast declining. But we digress. That was my reason for applying to the iSchool in the first place, to become a well-rounded Negro and a useful member of a diverse Texas society.
Mine was apparently the only project that required downloading the popular chart-drawing program matplotlib that the syllabus said could be used to draw graphs in trinket. But matplotlib did not work properly with trinket or at least not on my interface, not to sound all conspiratorial. It’s just that, you know, knowing crackers and all, as black people do, and viewing life through a historical lens as we like to say in Information Studies, you can’t trust someone like Professor Hauser as far as you can throw him. One can be totally forgiven for being suspicious. There were a lot more crackers in the past, certainly, but it’s a species that is at no risk of extinction and there are occasional sightings even on the creek at Forty Acres. You are completely surprised on campus to find who is a cracker and who is not, btw. Anyway, in trinket you could draw a single chart but the other requirements of the project like creating a menu of choices caused a crash. This was not the first problem with technology at the iSchool, btw, graduate students are like guinea pigs or lab rats in that respect, used to problem solve the instructor’s invention or process or whatever. Or do the calculations. Or write the code. Or do the fucking experiment, actually, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
That is in fact how students learn, even if it means cooking crank in the Chemistry Building basement, or wherever, experimentation is a good thing, maybe not the meth part. You’re there to work. But that has limits. Once, let me say at the start that this is my #4 best story about UT, it’s not up there with Ms. Delco but it’s still very illuminating. So, like, once in a hospital that employed me as a staff nurse, my responsibility for a few nights was to take care of a famous University of Texas researcher. To set the scene.
So, like, the name of this researcher is not important. At bedside 24-7, even emptying the urinal in the nurse’s absence, was a Chinese graduate student. The same student or his girlfriend was always there, as in 24-7, dayshift too per report of the day nurses. This grad student’s girlfriend was also Chinese and this is not completely relevant, but she was smoking hot, from Shanghai, again not that that’s important here. So, like, my theory on hot Chinese women, if you’re interested? Taiwanese girls dress better but mainland Chinese women are hotter, actually, which means that Communism can’t be all bad, as seen through a historical lens. Rule by the Communist Party has led to better looking women, it’s hard to argue with science. Anyway, one or the other of them, the graduate student or his squeeze was at bedside every fucking minute, while the important researcher’s family was nowhere to be seen. At least not at night. The point is that if you’re a grad student—whatever the university—you’re there to work. In selected cases that may involve pee, in the lab or in the hospital room.
In Confucian societies, btw, like China, teachers are revered and the scene in the hospital isn’t as weird as it sounds. The famed researcher flat on his back still may have some last ideas to convey, the presence of the grad student made sense in that respect. There’s an old anecdote that just before Einstein died he said something in German, that has been lost to history, because his nurse didn’t speak German. But pouring pee? Hmmm. How many Longhorn kids would do that? So, like, as we approached the end of the semester of Introduction to Programming there was a poor performance by the instructional technology at the School of Information. trinket sucked. Even though just down the street from the iSchool is one of the most highly-ranked computer science departments in the nation? But oh noooo we couldn’t do that, we couldn’t get help from other experts on campus. Even in order to make sure that didactic shit works for students. This is what’s called, at the University of California which is our role model, “working in silos,” at UC it’s anathema but apparently okay at UT. Or at the iSchool. It means that people on campus aren’t collaborating so much across disciplines. Or maybe even talking. And there’s not much you can do.
Generally-speaking when UT investigates UT nothing happened or the generic Professor Dickwad is found to have done nothing wrong. That’s what happens whenever any big institution investigates itself actually, let’s be fair, the Longhorn Nation is not alone in this respect. The University of California for example that is our role model uses a two-report system for investigations in which one report invariably informs the reader that the university did nothing wrong and goes to the complainant and a second version of the real events goes to the Board of Regents or whoever at UCOP and tells the truth. Which is often ugly because, not to repeat myself, there are a lot of smart people at the University of California who are trying to outsmart each other and/or the public. UT System’s ethics framework was based upon UC’s, a scary thought in itself, actually, because the University of California is worse than the fucking CIA, equal parts opaque and evil, especially the healthcare operations, UC is one of the major medical providers in the State of California. Like #3 or #4 in the state. Not to show bias just because UC fucked me. But UCSF is a bad example to base your healthcare enterprise upon. So is Johns Hopkins, the KKK has had a better record on race than Johns Hopkins.
UT’s administration has never come to terms with race, or oil, that would be my whole point actually, but neither has anyone else. Luckily racial injustice usually only affects blacks and Latinos, which in an odd way may be a good thing because you don’t want more victims than we already have. The usual controls like press vigilance don’t work here, in River City. A good example is something that just happened, UT spent $280K for a weekend recruiting visit to the Four Seasons Hotel downtown by a quarterback with a good arm, and a few of his friends, it was national news but not published by the Austin American-Statesman or the Texas Tribune. UT literally has the Statesman’s balls in its hand and the Tribune isn’t much better off. Petrochemical money compromises everybody in the Lone Star State sooner or later, including reporters, especially reporters. Not to be judgmental.
GREENPEACE TOP 10 MOST WANTED So, like, this is somewhere in my longterm memory from back in the day, maybe ten years ago. It’s not included in my outstanding Longhorn lore because the paperwork has been lost, but someone once gave me a UT document showing Longhorn football players getting $300 a day food allowance. That’s $100 a meal, they could eat steak-and-lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still not spend it all. Longhorn linemen are big boys but nobody is that big. It was a way of paying players which is a good thing, actually, God knows football has made enough money for the University of Texas through the years. And probably it was something that other major university athletic programs were doing too. But you will never read those details in Texas media. Even though slipping a little cash to the players, in retrospect, makes Forty Acres look good today. Speaking of UT athletics, btw, black students have complained about the song “Eyes of Texas” being played at games because of the music’s white-superiority beat. To set the scene.
The university administration has demurred, which means they’ve blown off the black students, under pressure from wealthy boosters, or so the Texas Tribune reported. But in the Live Music Capital of the World what band is playing—who’s singing, or who’s blowing the horn—what genre of songs are all important issues. We learned about the power component of culture in the iSchool, actually, what books are on library shelves for example. Who’s getting published and who is not, whose point of view is expressed and whose is not, whose voice is heard too often and whose is never heard. Whose narrative gets told and who tells it are issues that we examined. So, like, the black students were right, music is important at Forty Acres, as is the power component of college sports, don’t get me started, the political and financial role of Longhorn football can be incredible. Especially as an adjunct to the larger Lone Star narrative, which is a load of crap basically, something that we didn’t learn at the iSchool but some of us knew going in. To set the scene. Luckily, the boosters in Dallas and in Houston and especially in San Antonio, who like things on campus the way they are, and who like “The Eyes of Texas” as it is, will die off like the dinosaurs they are. Dying with them will be that fight song, one hopes. The problems of race on campus will persist, however, related to money, actually. Which the Tribune did not report.
Both Latinos (through the League of United Latin American Citizens) and blacks (the NAACP for example) have joined together to ask for an audit of how UT has spent indigent care tax monies, an issue that may turn out to be an incredibly inconvenient truth to us as new Longhorns. We may have fucked up collectively even if we personally didn’t know at the time that we were fucking up, you feel me? The tax money was approved for collection by open-hearted Austin voters, for care of the poor, and apparently totaling tens of millions of dollars. But instead of being used to pay for indigent care, as was approved by the voters, the money was given instead to our new Dell medical school for administration, is that possible? Diverted in other words, an ugly word that should not even be in the Forty Acres lexicon, have we in the Longhorn Nation really stooped so low? Funds that were intended to pay for care that Dell has shown little evidence of providing, actually. Instead, the money was used to operate an almost-exclusively white medical school, a narrative that does not put us in a good light. So, like, this is potentially layers-deep shit, and it smells just like Bevo taking a crap. There are two issues, actually, the whiteness of faculty at Dell medical school, which was founded by researchers from the University of California San Francisco actually, if that’s not enough to scare you, it does me. UCSF is, actually, where they kicked me out of my nurse practitioner program for raising the issue of all-white faculty in a clinic taking care of all minority kids, btw. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The other issue is the overwhelming whiteness of the Dell student body, like the University of California San Francisco, which is historically a white institution. You’ve heard of HBUC, historically-black, there’s also historically-white and that’s UCSF and Johns Hopkins. It’s interesting that Dellmed is a Caucasian-privilege environment while the general campus, Forty Acres, is getting darker and more diverse. Which is a good thing actually and something that the UT Regents deserve credit for. Still, the Case of the Indigent Care Funds, you could call it, involves evil or semi-evil, even as measured on our normally-tolerant let’s-cook-a-little-crank-in-lab Longhorn ethical scale. So, like, it’s a potential double wrong and could be a triple wrong if whatever care Dell does deliver or has been delivering to the poor and minorities is second rate compared to care given to whites, which is something that happens in academic medicine too, like at UCSF and some of the usual suspects on the East Coast too like the famed Johns Hopkins, which is located in the hood in Baltimore, where there’s wall-to-wall black people off-campus but on campus you don’t see many people of color as academics or students. Just like at UCSF and now Dell, not to repeat myself. It’s a fine line where indigent care becomes indigent exploitation, actually, whether in Baltimore or in Austin. Or in San Francisco. UCSF has just admitted to experimenting on mostly black prison inmates back in the day, including injecting them with pesticides, you couldn’t make this up. Or there’s direct genetic theft, a la Henrietta Lacks, which Johns Hopkins really did do, stealing a black patient’s DNA and selling it for millions. That is the big danger on those health-related campuses that make money from medical research like JHU and, now, Dell, our own Longhorn medical school. And there is a clear Longhorn link to this bad narrative. We have a pair of Longhorn villains in fact, villainesses actually. And the issue of tenure yet again. It’s white people exploiting the rest of us.
A few years ago LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor Abigail Aiken, who is a physician, was appointed to the Travis County health board here in our own bucolic River City, together with another LBJ faculty member, Sherri Greenberg, who is a “liberal” Democratic ex-legislator from Austin. To set the scene. Professor Aiken was at the time of her appointment to the health board a tenure-track LBJ School assistant professor, actually, women’s health-related. So, like Dr. Aiken and Professor Greenberg were doing UT’s bidding at the time the money was “diverted” to Longhorn coffers, to support Dell, it’s tainted money however it came to be ours. But it still spends like the clean kind and UT needs more money to be able to afford to do the right thing, one might say. Anyway, Dr. Aiken was, surprise, rewarded with tenure after her work on the county health board. What’s interesting is that here in ATX where hypocrisy runs so deep, we have self-identified white liberals like Professor Hauser and my Data Storytelling instructor—the Exxon Mobil chick who tried to bust me for calling out police profiling? Abigail Aiken of the LBJ School, the physician who facilitated exploitation of minority patients by a rich institution, which is us. Liberals in Austin talk a good game about equity, but through the years UT has taken, taken, taken from blacks & Latinos, especially land, and now money, without giving much in return. UT has also committed a far greater sin than racism, frankly, which we’re getting to, remember what Ms. Delco said? And the press cannot be relied upon to speak the truth, because over a span of less than a decade the Austin Statesman’s metro editor, chief editorial writer and executive editor have all transitioned to the Forty Acres payroll and it wasn’t as a reward for their great performance as journalists that got them hired. It was a reward for what never got published.
At Forty Acres we have enormous power to reward, nor is that unique to UT, major universities everywhere are powerful institutions. But for the press especially, not everything is about the public’s right to know, the public’s right not-to-know is pretty popular in American journalism too and especially if the story has anything to do with a big, rich university. A book was just published actually, about a L.A. Times investigation of the USC medical school dean who was dealing drugs, crank again apparently, meth must be so popular on campus because you can make it in a lab. To set the scene again. So, like, both UC and USC have great power in California, huge roles in the community, and huge budgets. They’re big employers also, across the Golden State, especially the University of California. UC San Francisco for example has a horrible reputation for sexual harassment and racism under the incumbent chancellor, Australian pediatrician Sam Hawgood, whose administration was even caught by the State Auditor destroying investigative files before the auditor’s visit. UCSF practices almost pure thuggery, mixed with bouts of good medicine, but you won’t read much of the university’s bad side in the Los Angeles Times because the newspaper doesn’t like to anger what is arguably the most important institution in the state, and perhaps the most powerful educational institution in the world, the University of California. An institution that also buys ads and that subsidizes conferences and hires you when you retire. You get more transparency out of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves than from the UC Board of Regents, btw, who make UT Regents look good—and sometimes the UT Regents really are on the side of the angels, even if the UT Regents aren’t angels themselves. Until relatively recently, it was even illegal to record UC Regents meetings. How is that even possible?
UT has never been that evil, the University of California is kind of in a league of its own, but here in the Live Music Capital of the World things have not always been pretty either. Just a few years ago during the sudden onslaught of bad publicity about sexual harassment on campuses nationwide, that cost Dr. Fenves his job in Austin actually, UT offered up two sacrifices, a couple of black Longhorn football players who were accused by university police of rape. To set the scene. So, like, one guy was tried and found not guilty and the District Attorney dropped the second case. To set the scene yet again. The Austin newspaper’s executive editor killed a story that was supposed to look into how charges came to be filed in the first place. The local press could have provided an interesting exploration of black lives at Forty Acres, because at least one of the alleged victims was also African American. Debbie Hiott who was the American-Statesman’s executive editor made the call, the same journalist who also ignored gentrification in East Austin on her watch, because the owners of the newspaper at the time were big property holders in the city and stood to profit but rising land values. Ms. Hiott is now chief of UT’s public radio stations, presumably making bank. You can’t say she got the job because she killed a potentially-embarrassing story for UT. But you can say that she probably would not have gotten the position, overseeing the university radio stations, if she had reported what happened to these two young brothers, whatever the events turned out to be.
My single most important take home lesson from the iSchool? This is so pertinent to the study of informatics or information systems, which is about to be my completed degree. It’s like your mother told you when you were a kid. Consider the source. There is the kind of disinformation that Russian bots put out, we studied that too at the iSchool, false-fact operations you could call them. But there’s also the kind of disinformation that comes from no story at all. You have to consider the source. The American-Statesman’s biggest moneymaker during the last two decades of bad numbers for daily newspapers? That would be Longhorn sports coverage, no? And high school football, but probably more UT, right? The newspaper would take a big hit if the university stopped giving good access to reporters in retaliation for the newspaper poking its nose where it should not poke. That’s how things work on university campuses, btw, there’s always pushback and because of its size and wealth the Longhorn Nation pushes harder than most. That is us, actually. The same dynamic is true on a different level at the Texas Tribune.
So, like, TT has big donors more than big advertisers and none more important thanthe founding donor, a private equity guy named John Thornton. To set the scene. Thornton has also traditionally been a big investment manager for the UT endowment, actually, thru the years, that’s how he has made a lot of money actually, being a private equity guy at least part of the time with Longhorn money. Through UTIMCO, actually, the sovereign wealth fund that was established by W when he was governor to manage UT’s massive investments. The money is controlled by the UTIMCO board which is controlled by the Regents. Who are controlled by the Governor, whoever that Governor may be, that’s how UT works under a Democratic administration or Republican. There’s an obscene amount of money involved—much of it generated by energy leases and decades and decades of energy-related investment returns, billions of petrodollars that have gone into Longhorn coffers over the years. There’s not much interest in Austin in stopping that flow of cash. The Tribune does some good work but problems with its business plan can’t be ignored if you’re an informaticist—or informatician, whatever the fuck this degree makes me—when influence by big advertisers is simply replaced by influence from big donors. Stories don’t get written. Or they don’t get published. You see the same thing in academia when certain research doesn’t get done. You have to be very suspicious of non-profit journalism, just like every other kind of media endeavor in other words, not necessarily because of what you read but because of what you don’t read. The people who donate may get a pass. It’s not about the story that runs, it’s about the stories that don’t run, the subject of UT’s money being one example, and instead of the truth we get a skewed image of what’s really going on. A lot of petrodollars or former petrodollars, that’s a good basic explanation of our finances at Forty Acres, that you mostly don’t read about. Until now. The exception is a recent report by Bloomberg.
Stories don’t generally get written about UT’s money which is obscene but may not be obscene enough, speaking as a concerned but realistic new member of the Longhorn Nation. Texas Monthly which wrote about Cancer Alley back in the day is now owned by an energy heiress, btw. At the Tribune, John Thornton has been supplanted as TT’s top money man by a money guy and money girl from Houston named John and Laura Arnold, who are buying respectability after becoming billionaires from natural gas. You can’t make this up. That’s how respectability works, in Texas and probably everywhere else, first you make the money—any way you can—including fucking the environment if need be, and then you buy a conscience on a big scale. John Arnold is the former chief trader of Enron, btw, aka the Crooked E which it was called back in the day, a pedigree like the SS or KKK or Minneapolis P.D., the worst of the bad. Enron was an energy concern that was the single most corrupt company in the modern annals of Texas business, which is saying a lot, just about straight-up thuggery, yeah.
Back in the day, this is kind of cool, and is worth a short detour, but actually has nothing to do with UT. So, like, it can’t be on my list of best Longhorn stories, but it’s fun nonetheless. So, like, me taking a tour at the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab in Austin, maybe 20 years ago? The lab guy showed us the suicide note of one of the Enron executives, you know, when things started to go south and this Enron guy cut his wrists or shot himself or whatever? How cool is that? There was no bloodstain on the note which would have been cooler but was still pretty cool. And the suicide note was at the DPS crime lab because the big question was whether the Enron guy had actually whacked himself or been murdered by one of his Enron colleagues, in order to shut him up. How’s that for a business plan? Another example of Texas exceptionality, actually, Enron is, as in exceptionally bad. The good news about Enron was that they mostly were not Longhorns, to my knowledge. The bad news is that oil & gas corrupts everyone. So, like, in the past UTIMCO has pulled John Thornton’s chain, Thornton pulled the Tribune’s, like with a dog, restraining a potentially-aggressive animal. It’s not really that bad but it’s close, you get the idea. Corruption of a network can obstruct the flow of information, things that the media or scientists are aware of but do not pursue, for example. At the iSchool we were taught to look for the most important data of all, the missing data. You have to evaluate the reliability of sources, too, especially anything about Forty Acres actually, and especially anything you read in the press. What you see may be factual but may be only a small part of what’s really going on at Forty Acres and it’s intentionally incomplete because Longhorn money doesn’t get talked about. The fifty-billion dollar gorilla in the room, literally. Stories don’t get covered just as intentionally as stories do get covered, that’s my whole point really, especially if it has anything to do with the Longhorn Nation’s finances. Just like research that doesn’t get done about cancer in the state. Because if the great UT endowment becomes the subject of scrutiny, the follow-up question will have to be asked too, how was the money made? Which is oil & gas actually, and no one wants to get into that discussion except Bloomberg news just now, and briefly.
The Longhorn endowment is usually not part of the story. John Thornton is not even the Tribune’s top money guy anymore, anyway, that would be the Arnolds who made their money in natural gas, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The Tribune’s next largest donor is Paul Foster, who made his money in refining. The Arnolds and Mr. Foster are trying to buy respectability through nonprofit journalism, not that there’s anything wrong with that, because it’s better that John Arnold and his old lady, who went to Harvard btw, and whose endowment is obscene, it’s better that the Arnolds are trying to make amends than that they aren’t, right? Who do you think is funding all the new journalism? People who are reputation-washing, which is kind of like money laundering but is not illegal and does some good, one hopes, down the road. Neither John nor Laura Arnold is a Longhorn, btw, so it’s okay to trash them.
None of this is new in terms of conflict of interest in the Lone Star State. It’s often about the energy industry and the subject is so important that you never read about it in the press. That’s how the light bill gets paid at Forty Acres, actually. Oil & gas powers UT, energy sales power the Republican Party and the non-profit press too, everybody has that much in common. It was all about King Cotton at one time but now it’s all about Mother Oil, or natural gas, that’s not my original thought, it was actually in the Tribune itself, not in reference to UT however, and still bears repeating. UT can’t police itself either, it doesn’t matter who is President of the University or who is Provost, or who the Regents are. The money is just too much. That’s why Longhorns should welcome the Governors on campus, especially if a legislative committee comes too, courtesy of the Speaker of the House or whoever. Everyone has conflicts but you hope that if there’s enough interest, something will get done. Synergy may work. It may help to drain the creek. Bloomberg for example which does follow UT’s investments published in its report on the growth of our endowment, the report was, historically—for the reputation of the Longhorn Nation—pretty ugly. The endowment’s size is due to oil & natural gas, basically. Our endowment may soon exceed Harvard’s as the largest in the country, fyi, that’s also per Bloomberg. The day after the Bloomberg story ran in fact, state leadership was feeling the heat, clearly, but officially they still do not believe in global warming. To set the scene. The State Comptroller, backed by the Governors, made threats against anyone who tries to marginalize our trademark industry. Like with tenure, the public just needs to know the numbers. The Governors have staked out hardcore position on just about every topic imaginable, from abortions to gun rights, for ideological or political reasons, but their position on oil & gas is all about money. Energy sales fund the Republican Party in Texas, not just here in fact, and any examination of UT’s pot of black gold and any questioning of oil & gas exploitation might endanger political fortunes. But it still might happen. UT, the Tribune, the Republican Party and Texas Monthly have all been funded by oil & gas, basically, in the case of the first three the money coming through UTIMCO, actually. And UTIMCO means one guy, Jeffery Hildebrand, who is a good candidate for the #1 oil & gas guy in the State of Texas and is actually a Republican fundraiser and, you guessed it, a Longhorn. He’s one of us. To set the scene again.
Jeffery Hildebrand is known for a couple of things, one being that he’s a big UT money guy like Scott Caven of Caven-Clark intramural field on campus, except Scott Caven was an investments guy and Hildebrand is oil & gas. He wants to drill on the Arctic floor, btw, or so it’s said, not that there’s anything wrong with that. What’s a little more pollution if there’s money to be made, isn’t that the Longhorn petroleum engineering mantra? If Greenpeace had a 10 Most Wanted List, Hildebrand would be, like, in the top 5, that’s my guess. He’s a former UT Regent actually, and has both a bachelor’s and a master’s from Forty Acres, College of Engineering, the master’s in, you guessed it, petroleum engineering. Hildebrand started out as a money guy for Governor Perry and got grandfathered into Governor Abbott’s operation, it seems, what’s super-scary about this fracker, or motherfracker, from an environmental standpoint, is that he’s also on the board of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that controls drilling on state park lands, which Jeffery Hildebrand would presumably have a big say on, like, since that’s why he’s on the TPWD board in the first place, right? Not because he likes hunting whitetail or bass fishing, or whatever, although he may well be an outdoorsman, but because he’s a gubernatorial money guy and there’s money to be made from energy leases on state land. Not to sound cynical about a fellow Longhorn. This guy’s presence on the TPWD board is not a good omen for nature in the Lone Star State, but what is?
The apocalypse may already be upon us but Texas is big and has abundant natural resources and Mother Nature—like the human body—can sometimes heal. The downside is that UT is probably already responsible for significant pollution to water tables and aquifers across West Texas, in order to maintain our lifestyle here at Forty Acres, not to make anyone feel guilty. Because oil & gas pays for research too and there’s the rub. The people who are most to blame, though, for our continued dependence on oil include a lot of Longhorn scientists and engineers, through the years back to Spindletop, or whenever, and also chemists like Dr. Fenves who have created some incredibly thoughtless petroleum-based shit in the lab, like non-biodegradable plastics. And engineers like Dr. Wood who have “conquered” Mother Nature or whatever. Not to forget the petroleum guys like Jeffery Hildebrand who have been, like, UT College of Engineering’s most important graduates for decades. At Forty Acres we are up to our elbows in a hot & oily mess and as members of the Longhorn Nation we can only take comfort that we didn’t know what our scientists were doing when they invented so many noxious processes. Now we do know and the question is what are we going to do?
So, like, me coming back from Christmas break earlier this year, actually, from Mexico actually, just after the worst of pandemic? Humming a tune from Beyonce and sitting at the back of the Greyhound bus, which a lot of black people like to do, sit at the back because you have a better view, not out the window but of what’s coming down the aisle. To set the scene. So, like, this time it was the view out the window. So, like, coming up into Texas, soon to be informed of my failing grade from Professor Assbite, not to play upon your sympathies. You know what was my first view along I-35 after the Laredo bridge? There’s not much there, the ranchland of South Texas and all that, it begins right after the town, actually, it’s suddenly desolate and rural north of Laredo’s sprawl. The first really attention-grabbing scene through the bus window was an oil well not far from the road, where gas was being flared. There was just this big knife of flame up in the eastern sky, maybe twenty feet tall, it’s hard to judge height from the distance but, gee, however big it was it didn’t look particularly healthy, or good for the environment. Releasing unwanted benzene or whatever up into the air, and the leaseholder had just lit a match to get rid of it. Might even have been a UT lease although most Longhorn holdings are west not south. Or so it is said again.
Is Jeffrey Hildebrand a fracker even a motherfracker? Apparently so. What we know for sure is that up until a few months ago he was for seven years chairman of the university’s investment company UTIMCO, that is our huge sovereign development fund and has been involved in some sketchy shit thru history but that also pays UT’s bills. There’s the rub. Former Regent Hildebrand is interesting because he may be exactly at the inflection point where UT stops making people do good things and starts making us do bad, that would be my whole argument actually. Hildebrand could be in the never-did-anything-good category of Longhorns which is a quite small cadre of alumni. Unlike John and Laura Arnold who are not Longhorns at all and who are presently washing their reputations in non-profit endeavors, Hildebrand may never have had that come-to-Jesus moment, actually, he’s probably still a drill-baby-drill kind of guy. Any inventory of pollution in the State of Texas needs to closely examine state park leases to be sure that petrochemical extraction is not damaging nature, which it probably is. Like, by definition, the only question being how bad? But there may be Longhorn salvation. There are a lot of very smart people at Forty Acres and if there’s money for research they’re automatically interested, you could say. It would be kind of cool fixing a problem that Longhorns helped to create.
The School of Engineering could pay for its sins, actually, by figuring out how to remediate the damage. UT could also investigate how badly the Texas environment has been harmed, by means of an honest look that includes the cancer-belt, or wherever, a grand survey of pollution in the Lone Star State in other words. That’s a lot more pressing than what music the Longhorn band is playing at halftime. This is a higher level view than even President Hartzell has, btw, our Longhorn-in-Chief who just spends the money from UTIMCO but doesn’t get to decide how it’s made. Which brings us back to tenure, that word again. Trump-era Republicans used a phrase in public debate that is descriptive in the Longhorn context today. “Draining the swamp,” and it is, you know, kind of beautiful because it’s so evocative. Even though mostly Republican whackjobs say it, it’s still kind of cool. Let’s call it drain the creek, like the creek on campus?
So, like, every so often outsiders have to come to Forty Acres and do what Longhorns can’t do for ourselves and that the press won’t do. Like those DEA guys visiting the Chemistry Department, you know? UT is a wonderful institution but sometimes the police need to be called. Remember what Ms. Delco said? And that’s exactly what the Governors have proposed in the next legislative session, actually, taking a close look at tenure, giving a good sniff, which is completely fine with me. Supposedly we will learn who faculty privilege really serves. A preliminary guess is not the students. What the Lieutenant Governor has threatened is a good idea even if it was proposed for the wrong reasons. My view, as an aging African American, having lived so long, knocking on Heaven’s door and all that? My belief is that if you start questioning people’s motives for doing the right thing, no one gets to Heaven. That would be my whole point, really, in the Longhorn context. And it doesn’t mean UT is evil or racist or whatever.
My School of Information degree is as important to me now, as a black Texan, as if it were awarded by Harvard or Oxford, which is where Dean Meyer arrived from, btw, the Oxford Internet Institute or whatever, he’s a nerd of some note in Information Science circles. In fact my pride is all the greater, because Texas is where my family was enslaved and it’s evidence that we have moved on. Risen up from slavery and all that, like the great black educator Booker T. Washington talked about back, back in the day. Booker T didn’t live to see it but my generation of African Americans did, laying Jim Crow to rest and all that—two shots to the back of his head, actually. And it’s about fucking time, right? Achieving closure on slavery has meant dealing with a lot of crackers, through the years. So, like, dealing with Professor Peckerwood, late of the University of North Carolina at Wherever, pissed me off only moderately, having seen his ilk before and knowing that Forty Acres is a better place now than it was just a few years ago. But as Longhorns we ignore the possibility of our own wrongdoing, even by accident, at great peril. This university is not like our mascot Bevo at all, actually. Send Bevo back to the ranch. The Longhorn mascot should be an elephant, that crushes things and people without even trying.
It also eats a lot and pees a river. And when it shits you don’t want to be downwind.
BLACKLAND My dentist is 73 y.o. and attended the old Austin High just after President Johnson’s daughters, LBJ’s girls were a couple of classes ahead, how many people in this town have those kinds of roots? He went to UT in the 1960s and he told me something interesting the other day, to add to my stock of Longhorn lore. Did you know that there’s a network of tunnels that completely covers campus? There’s a whole little world down there, under Forty Acres.
So, like, being in town all these years, on campus literally hundreds of times, living in the neighborhood and all—on and off for decades. My connection back in the 1980s, before the Lord came into my life, lived in West Campus and that was my first real exposure to UT, looking for something to smoke. But finding out that there is a system of tunnels more than thirty years later was a bit embarrassing. My dentist said that back in the day when it was raining or whatever that was how you got from one end of the university to the other, underground. Everyone used the tunnels all the time. A campus maintenance guy told me just a day or two ago though, while he was doing some remediation at this piece of shit iSchool building, that these days only workers who draw the short straw go down into the bowels of Forty Acres, so to speak. To work on power lines or AC or whatever. Those unlucky workers have to share space with feral cats and possibly-rabid raccoons. UT has some totally radical coons by the way, rabid or not, you should know that if you’re going to be on campus. Especially near the creek, you feel me, that’s where they like to hang out. Watch your ass. The raccoons are so totally thugs. My best advice is if you get into a confrontation, on the creek for example, give up your groceries or your Snickers bar or whatever the coon is interested in. It’s just not worth it.
Equally apropos of nothing, did you know that there’s another hidden tunnel system downtown? Close to campus too in fact, near the iSchool, actually. Or so we are told.
A patient of mine who worked for the State of Texas back in the day was facilities management not politics or policy or anything paper-related. He was someone who knew the buildings of state government but not the people who work in them. He was not one of the many gun-toting Lone Star types either, not a Ranger or even someone security-related at all. The tunnel he described is just a few blocks from campus, actually, and is short, it crosses West Eleventh Street between the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol. Or so this guy said. You’ve probably driven over it without knowing, even if you’re new to River City as so many are, that’s a major chokepoint downtown actually. The last person to tell me he had direct knowledge of this not-so-secret passageway was a member of Governor Richards’ staff, back back in the day, who said that the tunnel was uncared for and unused during her administration. Today in the bold times in which we live—with all the whackjobs, mostly on the right? So, like, the antifas don’t have the military training to take on state troopers, not to give anyone any ideas, while some of the Oath Keeper-types maybe do have the skills. But we digress. So, like, my guess is that the secret passageway is mined and/or boobytrapped up the yinyang these days and both entrances covered by a .50 cal with a trooper’s finger on the trigger.
The point is that one ignores the physical locale and the engineering or architecture—UT has a highly ranked School of Architecture btw, if that’s what your child wants to study. But you ignore the physical environment of an institution like Forty Acres only at great risk of not knowing what’s really going on inside. My soon-to-be ex-iSchool for example is not on campus at all but it is in the neighborhood, downtown, only a couple of blocks from my crib, actually. The school is housed in a building that once belonged to Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, one of the Baby Bells that belonged to that big mother AT&T. To set the scene. Today the iSchool building is run down and kind of a piece of shit compared to the wonderfully solid institutional architecture on campus, or the steel-and-glass majesty of the new Travis County Courthouse that has just opened across the street from our school. The only thing that’s cool about the iSchool’s POS building is that there’s a plaque just inside the door, from a prior political generation, when the Regents appropriated the space or dedicated the building or whatever. That plaque tells you everything you need to know about the University of Texas today. Knowing the people on the School of Information wall is all you need to be an informed Longhorn. The names on the plaque give you some of the granularity of what Ms. Delco talked about and some of the majesty of the Longhorn Nation, which can be pretty sketchy but is wholly cool.
So, like, the governor at the time was Rick Perry whose name is at the top of the plaque. Perry started his political life as a Democrat but ended up a hardcore Republican and even served as a member of President Trump’s cabinet. You guessed it, as Energy Secretary. Rick Perry is from Paint Rock, Texas, no shit, a pisspot/shithole somewhere in the reaches of West Texas, between Here and There, basically, closer to There, may you never have to go. Anyway, according to my calculations Governor Perry was the best leader regarding race in the post-Reconstruction history of the Lone Star State, partly because he had a genuine diversity game, unlike the governors before, and that included a very simple rule. Also, because most of the period since the Civil War in Texas has been the era of Jim Crow, which was due to the Democrats, btw, not to point out inconvenient history, and being good on race wasn’t that hard. To set the scene again. But the thing to know about Rick Perry is that he remained a small-d democrat even after he became a big-R Republican. He was kind of populist. He didn’t care if you were black or white—AAPI or Latino. As long as you were Republican. In any case, about that plaque on the iSchool wall, everyone in power in Texas has ties to this university which is about to be my alma mater. So did Perry, through his selections to the Board of Regents, although personally he was an Aggie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And it’s important because ties to UT show how power really works in the Lone Star State. It was all about cotton. Now it’s mostly about oil.
The first name down from Governor Perry on the School of Information wall was the then-chairman of the Regents, in ’08, a white guy named H. Scott Caven. He is the Caven of Clark-Caven field on campus, btw, where my afternoon jog takes place. Caven’s day job at the time of the engraving was as a Goldman Sachs executive in Houston but his real responsibility was as Governor Perry’s campaign treasurer and principal money guy. Every governor of Texas has a main money guy and a main security guy and both of Governor Perry’s—his main money guy and his main security guy, who was actually a girl—are on that plaque at our iSchool. Which made me feel special studying there, running with the big dogs and all that, kind of like learning that they used to cook crank in the Chemistry Department? Knowing, almost instinctively, that this was the best place for me to study? Sadly, Caven’s son—this is my memory of a time, 20 years ago, plus. Scott Caven’s son was a Longhorn too and was with a group of other students going to a football game in College Station. When the car flipped, or whatever. That is my memory of the incident as it was reported in the press. The point is not to repeat tragic events but to underscore the depth of some people’s ties to Forty Acres. Ties that may be financial, political, sports-related or even educational. To say nothing of emotional. The chair of the UT Regents literally bled orange, in other words, not to be disrespectful of his loss. There were equally deep ties to Forty Acres for practically all the Regents on the iSchool plaque. This is how UT functions, btw. It’s not necessarily always about education, at the iSchool or anywhere else on campus. So, like, next below Scott Caven’s name was James Huffines of the powerful rightwing whackjob Huffines Family of Dallas, for example. You hear the name Huffines in Texas and your first thought is probably not college curricula or didactive content, you feel me?
The Huffineses are big money that started in car sales in the Big D, again if my memory is correct. There are a lot of Huffineses and it’s hard to keep track who is who, especially if you don’t care, but former Regent Huffines’s brother—if my understanding of the family tree is correct. Regent Huffines’s brother just ran unsuccessfully against Greg Abbott in the Republican primary. Is that correct? By getting on Governor Abbott’s right side, which is hard to do, because it’s a really tight squeeze between Greg Abbott’s right flank and the wall, recently. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.
The next Regent listed on the plaque is billionaire Robert Rowling, longtime chairman of the Omni Hotel chain, or whatever, a Dallas or Houston guy, can’t be bothered to check. He’s a big UT donor who the new business building at Forty Acres is named after, Rowling Hall or whatever. Presumably because he donated the money to build it, that’s cool, that’s totally cool, even if a self-effacing and noble Negro would not want his name on a building or to be honored in any way. Across the street from my crib, actually, Rowling Hall is. Robert Rowling was/is an Old School Republican or what counts for Old School now, after the insanity of President Trump. After Regent Rowling on the iSchool plaque is John Barnhill who was v.p. of Blue Bell Ice Cream, in Brenham, Washington County, where my family was enslaved, actually. How is that for serendipity? Maybe his ancestors even lashed mine.
What a small world in which we live.
BLACKLAND 2 Next on the iSchool plaque is James Dannenbaum who has ties to oil & gas and is old as dirt and who—this is just so embarrassing if you’re a member of the Longhorn Nation! First, a little background about Regent Dannenbaum’s role as a Longhorn through the decades, before the bad news.
From 1960 to 1961 he was vice president of the Student Association at Forty Acres, that was when Dwight Eisenhower was still in the White House, btw, in other words a long fucking time ago. Former Regent Dannenbaum is an old school Texas rightwing nutjob unlike the new wave Trump-affiliated rightwing Texas nutjobs we’re seeing now, not to overuse that distinction but it is important. People think that Trump influenced Texas but my feeling is that Texas influenced Trump. Anyway, despite that caveat, that he’s Old School rightwing crazy, former Regent Dannebaum pled guilty just before pandemic to federal charges of campaign finance violations and is presumably now in a nursing home with bars on the windows, remember what Ms. Delco said? What’s cool about former Regent Dannenbaum is that he was already like 75 y.o., older than my dentist who almost went to school with LBJ’s daughters, when former Regent Dannenbaum committed the crimes for which he pled guilty just before pandemic. That means that age may not a barrier to a determined Longhorn. That’s my hope at least. There’s at least a decade left for me to do something really daring or perhaps highly repugnant and/or illegal.
Next down on the list there’s Robert Estrada who is a Dallas bond guy, a pretty decent guy actually or as decent as you can be working in municipal securities. We talked once on the telephone, actually, a landline if that gives you any idea how long ago. He’s an old style Republican moderate, he can have a discussion about politics without turning red or reaching for an assault rifle, he’s a Bush guy, either Bush #1 or Bush #2, or both. His Longhorn history is that he’s famous for helping to bring Bob Woodward’s Watergate archives to Forty Acres. And we’re almost done. Next is oil & gas again, the third to the last Regent on the iSchool plaque is Paul Foster who you met before funding the Tribune, you know Foster’s name if you know West Texas. Regent Foster made his money refining oil as opposed to drilling for it. Paul Foster kind of owns El Paso, actually, or so it is said. He’s also a Longhorn traitor because he recently gave $50 million to help build a Texas Techmedical school on the border. He’s another energy executive who polluted his way to wealth and paid penance with a checkbook later, not there’s anything wrong with that. This kind of penance often includes funding academic medical institutions that cure conditions which may have been caused by the industry that makes the money in the first place, not to be judgmental. Cancer is a business in Texas, btw, as seen thru a mercenary lens, just like oil & gas. After Paul Foster on the plaque it’s Printice Gary, a lowkey real estate guy who was the first and is still the only African American ever to serve on the University of Texas Board of Regents, btw, again if my memory is correct. Also appointed by Governor Perry who wasn’t bad on race, not to repeat myself.
The last name on the plaque is Colleen McHugh, about five feet tall and all muscle. She is a killer, literally, or was a killer, as the designated civilian shot-caller for the State of Texas back in the day, at the Department of Public Safety. A kind of hit girl, actually, for W and for Governor Perry both, you could call her, although Ms. McHugh never pulled the trigger herself obviously. But he may have given the okay once or twice, that’s my point, like in the Spielberg movie Sugarland with Goldie Hawn? Have you seen that? You know, in hostage situations?
Ms. McHugh was the Governor’s security girl for a while, before she became RegentMcHugh. She was chair of the powerful Public Safety Commission that oversees the state police including the Highway Patrol and Texas Rangers. And Capitol Police. To set the scene. She’s old as dirt now too, like former Regent Dannenbaum, because she was at DPS like 20 years ago and she was no spring chicken then, either, not to be disrespectful of her service to the state. Her responsibilities at the Public Safety Commission for example would have included agreeing on fields of fire covering that tunnel between the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol. But not positioning the weapon herself because she’s a lady. Or giving the final okay for placement of landmines? She didn’t even attend UT, Chairman McHugh was an SMU girl, but she’s part of the Longhorn Nation now, and taken all in all it can be a pretty fucking scary group of people who lead us at Forty Acres, you feel me? But oil & gas still mostly controls the university which is a little surprising in an era of global warming.
If you talked to Ms. McHugh back in the day, btw, when she was still at DPS she was a completely decent person, like somebody’s Aunt Jen, but also a complete Republican enforcer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because there are Democratic enforcers too. Governor Richards had an enforcer also, who was a former U.S. Attorney who went around scaring people on Democrats’ behalf as the Democratic majority in the state slipped away, not that that’s important here. Anyway, that would be my description of Ms. McHugh—a killer, again not to be disrespectful. She’s the kind of person who made me want to be a Longhorn, actually. It’s said at the State Capitol that the single most important appointment a Governor of Texas can make is the chair of the Public Safety Commission, to ensure that the thousands of state troopers are doing what the governor wants done, like right now on the banks of the mighty Rio Grande, putting immigrant families on the bus to New York City and to D.C. or wherever. Ms. McHugh wouldn’t have batted an eye. She was Governor Perry’s girl in that regard, “Security” writ large, she was chosen for her balls not her compassion. She had Perry’s back the same way DPS Colonel McCraw has Governor Abbott’s back now. It’s said that Ms. McHugh still has a law office on Ocean Drive in Corpus Christi where she still shows up for work, another senior Longhorn who still has game, like James Dannenbaum, for those of us who are about to graduate and are already long in the tooth. These folks whose names are on the wall of my soon-to-be-ex iSchool do not currently run the University of Texas but they are the kind of people who run the University of Texas all the time, you know? Not every decision made is about tuition or best practices in the classroom, nor about something that just appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education either, but instead is about power and money and, at Forty Acres, oil. My big overall Longhorn theory, as an informatician or informaticist or whatever? UT makes good people do bad things, like President Hartzell maybe and Dean Meyer certainly. But the corollary is that UT makes bad people do good, like the Regents a lot of the time. Not to go all Biblical but it’s important as new Longhorns not to wear rose-colored glasses on this campus. Two excellent examples of the former, good people doing bad—or good people who are going to do bad or—more charitably, good people who may do bad—or good people who have already done bad—are Dean Meyer, not to repeat myself, and Jay Hartzell who is President and Longhorn-in-Chief. Again, not to be judgmental. To set the scene.
Dean Meyer for instance is gifted at whitesplaining, which means justifying the white man’s view of the world. In order to review and judge my failing grade from Professor Hauser, the dean formed a committee of four iSchool faculty members: A woman from South Korea, a woman from the People’s Republic of China, and a guy from Mexico City, all chaired by Eric Meyer himself who is the white guy, not to repeat myself, originally from Indiana, and who has spent the last few years at Oxford. To set the scene again. The three black members of School of Information faculty were not consulted. The dean wrote me a long letter after the review, explaining that my meetup reflection that Professor Hauser first ignored completely and refused to grade, had finally been graded by a committee member, and failed, 30 out of 50 points. Leaving me once again with a failing grade in the Python course, the same C+ actually that Dean Meyer had offered me the prior semester before review. What a coincidence! The exact same grade, after the dean did the numbers this time. Not because of my coding, mind you, in a coding course, but because of my view of the world. The dean said that what was expressed in my reflections were “beliefs” and “feelings” not rational thought or analysis. That is whitesplaining, btw, in case you haven’t heard the expression before.
If the dean had been in this country in the prior decade, or had ever lived in the South, or if he had any cultural competence, he would have known that comments like that are racist tropes and are the intellectual equivalent of the white police officer’s “I-thought-he-was-reaching-for-something.” White people think, while blacks feel, according to Dean Meyer’s view, and it’s a convenient and often-used way of failing black students. Again, it allows an instructor to grade down a black student in a subjective grading exercise. Interesting also that in my Python class, the vast majority of the students were not from Texas, were not even from the U.S., and had limited knowledge of American tech culture and did not speak or write English as a first language, but their views of race in technologyin America were expressed appropriately, according to Dean Meyer’s grading, and were acceptable to the School of Information, but mine were not. This was the latest effort at the iSchool to undermine my education, btw, not to be judgmental, starting with security asking me to identify myself to enter the building but not asking the same of white or Asian students, and my data instructor, the white chick from Exxon Mobil or wherever, threatening to fail me for doing a midterm project critical of police profiling because of my “use of color.” In a follow-up email Dean Meyer assured me that he had checked with the Registrar’s Office and my failing grade in programming would not affect my ability to graduate. Isn’t that white of him? That’s what my mother used to say, back in the day, when someone did something noble, “That’s very white of you!” Anyway, if you are a veteran of segregated schooling in the South, like me, you’re not surprised. Separate was not equal back in the day, and subjective grading is not objective today. It’s still a way to deny minority students the benefits of an education. It happens still at UT but one likes to think less frequently than before. Interestingly, the UT Regents have just been sued by a young black doctor who was forced out of her medical residency at my alma mater, UT Medical Branch, when her evaluator described her as “unprofessional.” There’s a much higher rate of black doctors in training being kicked out of their residencies and the explanation is often “unprofessionalism.” Again, a subjective determination by an instructor that’s hard to counter. The Regents recently fired the Medical Branch president, btw, it’s unclear why, and he has been replaced with a black interim leader, and there’s a new diversity officer for the medical campus in Galveston. Apparently the UT Regents know the world has changed, even if that fact is only slowly filtering through the individual campuses. Anyway.
Dean Meyer may not completely understand racism-in-action at the School of Information, or his role in that dynamic, but he was personally generous to me. Remember the really bone-breaking cold winter a year or so ago? COVID-19 wasn’t bad enough but Texas also had a deadly ice-and-snow storm. So, like, my electricity was not cut. One of the benefits of living on the same grid as the State Capitol is that the rolling blackout never rolls by you. Forty Acres produces its own electricity, btw, you didn’t know that, right? And is its own grid, or so it is said. But there’s no wifi at my apartment building, even living across the street from the university and willing to steal signal, and the Starbucks were all closed. Bummer. Or bummerooski if you talk like a UT frat boy back in the day. But the Dean had my UT i.d. modified to allow me access to classrooms on the first floor of the architecturally-crappy iSchool building, giving me a warm study environment and, more importantly, good Internet service. Isn’t giving someone bandwidth today like loaves and fishes back in the day? Another anecdote about UT administration, this one about President Hartzell, along the same lines—from that same time, the awful winter a year or two ago that left hundreds dead and millions without power. This tells you what kind of guy Jay Hartzell really is.
So, like, this was as the storm was just ending, me suffering from cabin fever big time at that point and needing to get outside, as many of us did. To breathe some fresh air. To set the scene. My plan was to walk to Clark-Caven intramural field actually and at least do a lap, carefully, just walking. At my age you don’t want to lose mobility because you’ll never get it back, you know? So, like, on my way to the track, passing a big dormitory building behind a parking garage, you would recognize the place if you know campus at all, east of the museum and set back a little? You know who walked out of the front door of one of the big dorms? It certainly looked like President Hartzell, in jeans and boots.
No entourage, no cameras, he’s a striking guy, he was apparently just checking on the kids. Jay Hartzell is not a bad person. But that doesn’t mean he won’t do bad shit. Longhorns have a reputation for doing good things but sometimes using dodgy methods. That’s a corollary of life at Forty Acres, btw, the yin and the damn yang, not to get all philosophical like Professor Peckerwood of the School of Information in his spare time. The two sides of the coin that new Longhorns need to know, actually, it’s part of the risk we all run at Forty Acres. That’s because UT can make good people do bad things, that would be my whole point, actually.
And if you’re doing something dodgy as a Longhorn you feel it’s okay when it’s part of a bigger cause, illuminating knowledge and all that, to say nothing of the betterment of the Longhorn Nation. Or to increase the endowment which is super important too. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, that’s kind of the Longhorn motto. So, like, the possibility of wrongdoing must be considered. For instance President Hartzell comes from the Business School, that’s my understanding and, frankly, me being too lazy to check, let’s say that’s true. His research specialty is apparently real estate or real estate investments? Is that right? Dig this. So, like, that is why the Regents chose him to be president in the first place, actually, that would be my guess. Not to get all conspiratorial about the Board of Regents or anything but UT is maybe getting ready to acquire land for growth. In East Austin probably. Because that’s where everybody else in bucolic River City likes to find property, on the eastside, even if somebody else is already living there. UT’s master plan for growth points east and always has.
North and west of campus are affluent white neighborhoods which never get targeted for eminent domain. That’s what black people and Latinos were invented for, btw, to be victimized by government if someone has to be bent over for the greater good. That, like Jim Crow, has been the Democratic way of doing business in Austin, not anything done by “the terrible Republicans,” instead it’s the terrible Travis County Democratic Party. Anyway, south of campus is the Capitol complex, there’s no room for growth there. That leaves only one direction, east. Historically UT’s nemesis in East Austin—the lone entity that has held back the manifest destiny of the Longhorn Nation—has been the Blackland neighborhood group, just the other side of I-35 from campus. The Blackland group has battled the university successfully for decades, blocking but not stopping Forty Acres’ relentless growth. If your point of reference is the Russo-Ukrainian war, which is about real estate too, the Russians aren’t the only people with territorial ambitions and who don’t care what they do to get land. UT can be like that too. Blackland has been Ukraine through the decades, fighting back, mostly giving better than they got, just like in Eastern Europe. But there may be an inevitability to this struggle. Let’s hope so, for the betterment of the Longhorn Nation and because it may be the right thing. This invader is relentless and powerful, and it’s us frankly, because what happens in Blackland can also be seen through a fairness lens. Blackland, btw, is part of what was Ms. Delco’s legislative district, B.G., before gentrification.
So, like, Machiavelli said—if you’ve read the classics, not to get all snooty and full of myself as a master’s-trained informaticist, or informatician, whatever my degree really means. Machiavelli said that if a Prince must hurt someone or hurt a group of people, in order for the Prince to achieve a great aim or to win a war for example, it’s better to do all the hurting in one big blow rather than a series of little cuts. That would be my suggestion here, actually. If UT is getting ready to do evil in East Austin, my suggestion is no half-measures. Because—and this is what’s so fascinating—it’s evil to white people this time! Which means it won’t be evil, actually, instead it will be fairness, because for once Caucasians will get screwed just like minorities have been screwed over housing in Austin through the decades. There are so few minorities left in East Austin to fuck over, really, that we have to start using white people. And if that happens, if UT makes a land grab, President Hartzell will be doing the Lord’s work, really. He will be showing that whites and minorities actually are treated equally in the Live Music Capital of the World. Which has never happened before but there’s always a first time.
The present border between the belligerents, UT & the Blackland neighborhood folks, is just east of I-35 at Salinas Street, at the UT girls softball field? Know the neighborhood? Once again, you’ve probably driven by. The ballpark has been sort of the demilitarized zone, like between North and South Korea, there’s been some sniping but no outright combat in recent years. To set the scene again. Keep in mind that both the LBJ Presidential Library and LBJ School of Public Affairs, the two national institutions at Forty Acres both were built on land that used to be black people’s homes, not to point out inconvenient history or to put the lie to Austin’s liberal pretensions. That particular black land was transformed by a process that the government called “urban renewal” and African Americans called urban removal, to make room for LBJ’s tomb. In the past UT has also paid Uncle Toms and Race Traitors, not that there’s anything wrong with that, to buy homes from fellow black people who would not sell to the hated White University. At a time when blacks ourselves could not attend UT, btw, because it was a segregated institution, does any of this sound familiar? So, like, if one looks through the lens of a critical race dialectic it’s been a pretty wretched scene.
Now, however, post-gentrification, P.G., the battle to preserve black and Latino homes has already been lost, because most of the people in East Austin are white and in a way that is somehow reassuring because we won’t get screwed again, to paraphrase the British musical group The Who. We don’t have to worry anymore that something bad is going to happen because it already did! And somehow that’s totally reassuring, in my modest opinion.
Black people don’t have a dog in this hunt, as Governor Richards used to like to say, back in the day. And with my blood pressure as high as it is, my feeling is why get upset about white folks who arrived as part of a wave of gentrification in the past who are now maybe going to lose their homes to eminent domain or whatever, you know? Why worry about palefaces who spoke with forked tongue back in the day who are now going to get scalped, as seen thru a Native American lens? Especially if they may get swallowed up by my new love, the University of Texas at Austin. So, like, does a noble black man really give a shit? That’s the question and the answer is no. Especially if the aforesaid white people are being screwed for a good cause, like a growing University of Texas. Where black students are now welcomed. That’s my Longhorn creed, actually. You have to buy in and accept that the Longhorn Nation does good overall, even though our means may, from time to time, be just a tad iffy. There’s nowhere else for UT to grow, actually.
There was a photo the other day on the Blackland neighborhood website showing the executive director of the neighborhood association being hugged by Mayor Adler, btw. That’s the developer’s kiss of death in this town, my brother. You know how, like, in the movies, mafiosos kiss each other on the mouth before somebody gets whacked? In River City it’s a sympathetic hug and it usually happens just before you get redeveloped. My feeling is that at City Hall they’re not really much more genuinely sympathetic than La Cosa Nostra, but the hug is more seemly than a big smack on the lips. If Mayor Adler hugs you, that means the bulldozers arrive at seven the next morning. Losing Blackland doesn’t bother me half as much now as it once did, because it will no longer be exploitation or targeting of blacks or Latinos or AAPI. It’s just an earlier generation of white gentrifiers getting gentrified, kind of, and that has cost me no sleep whatsoever. Blackland is no longer black, not to repeat myself. Someone ought to put that on a billboard overlooking I-35.
And with no skin in the game, literally, one’s opinion of Forty Acres’ needs changes dramatically. The fate of Blackland becomes an academic question, literally, or a polite debate, something for blacks and Latinos to discuss over a glass of white wine at a dinner party. Like, with oodles of the same empathy that blacks and Latinos have gotten through the years from white liberals? Unless there’s also destruction of habitat because in the Lone Star dialectic, Mother Nature is a nigger too and we all need to be concerned about that.
So, like, my guess about how UT will one day move students and instructors across the interstate to the new east campus, after Blackland is conquered and made part of the Longhorn Nation? My guess about how students and faculty will go back and forth when Blackland is just another part of Forty Acres? How future generations of Longhorns will cross I-35? Again, this is a guess—tunnels. You heard it here first. But it may not happen. White people aren’t into the victim thing so much, not like blacks and Latinos. Caucasian homeowners may actually hire lawyers and sue UT and potentially win. But, like, heading to graduation—headed to the door of the iSchool’s shitty building, thank you very much, that’s not my concern anymore. The land that does worry me is the land UT already owns, those 2.1 million acres in West Texas, or wherever, that formed the original basis of the endowment. All those oil & gas wells. All that flaring, heating up an already hot atmosphere, literally cooking the climate and us with it. All that pollution. My #5 and #6 best Longhorn stories are both about the environment, btw, kind of.
#5: So, like, this was four or five years pre-pandemic, more or less. A sudden spirit of civic mindedness led me, one day, to the quarterly board meeting of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, UTIMCO, in downtown Austin. The conferences are open to the public but rarely attended by anyone who is not a money managers. At the time, having cleared security downstairs at UT System offices, home to the Board of Regents and the Chancellor, making my way upstairs to the conference room, a couple of guys already at the meeting spooked me. Among the board members and people in $2000-suits, who were mostly money people, there were also a couple of guys who looked like what Humphrey Bogart called “cheap gunsels” in The Maltese Falcon. Have you seen that movie?
So, like, there were these two guys in ill-fitting suits, who were clearly armed, that telltale bulge under their jackets, and who were non-too discretely checking out the people coming into the conference room, me included, one gunslinger at the door and the other seated in the front row of the gallery. And my thought at the time was that UT is hiring its muscle down market because, being someone who is familiar with university security, from my trips to Regents’ meetings, the usual UT cops are at least nominally professional, and outwardly nonthreatening. A lot of UT police are ex-APD, actually, they at least look like professional law enforcement even in their behavior may betray that impression. To set the scene. But these two goons at the UTIMCO meeting, they looked like they may have been cops at one time, like they were ex-Ft. Worth police detectives who got fired for beating prisoners? Not to speculate or anything. That level of professionalism, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But what was interesting was that as the meeting progressed, it became clear that these guys were not UT security at all. They were apparently the personal security guys of the UTIMCO vice-chairman at the time, who was Jeffery Hildebrand, actually. He was there for the meeting, a completely nondescript white guy, not like Mister Big the financier or anything, he was not very talkative during the meeting either, he just sat there and listened. Anyway, his bodyguards looked like the kind of guys who you could call over and whisper in their ears, tellingf them to go whack somebody and their only question would be how you wanted it done? My feeling is that choice of bodyguards is a reflection of the person who is being protected. Unless the person being guarded is a chick, an actress or singer or whatever who have been known to choose their bodyguards for aesthetic reasons too, like an accessory to their clothes or makeup, while a money guy like Jeffery Hildebrand is probably choosing his people for more concrete skills than how they look, you know? Not to speculate again. That UTIMCO meeting began with a long presentation by staff on investments in the Chinese market. The UTIMCO CEO’s introduction to the consultant’s report on China included a short prologue about how terrible communism is and then a much longer presentation of how much money could be made from more Longhorn investment in the People’s Republic. No lie. That’s what it means to be a Longhorn too. We have a relationship with the People’s Republic that has been profitable and we should keep that in mind because it takes money to do good. That would be my whole point, actually.
So, like, my last UT anecdote took place at the same time as my first anecdote, about cooking crank, when W was in office. But this time President Bush not W as governor. And this time the anecdote did directly involve George W. Bush. So, like, at the children’s hospital that employed me at that time we had a student volunteer who was a Longhorn sorority girl and whose sorority sister just happened to be the then-president’s daughter, Jenna Bush or Jenna Bush Hager as she is now known. Kappa Kappa Whatever, whatever sorority on West Campus that Jenna was a member of, it’s not pertinent now.
So, like, this volunteer came to the hospital one weekend, all pumped-up and excited, she told us she had gotten her sorority sister Jenna to sign a petition against Jenna’s father’s own environmental policies. How cool is that? W wanted to open Alaska to more drilling, or whatever, and this volunteer sorority-chick said she got Jenna to signal her opposition to her own father by not telling Jenna the details of the petition and just shoving it under Jenna’s nose at the sorority, Kappa Kappa Whatever. She said that Jenna signed without even looking what she was signing. The upshot of the comment was that Jenna was ignorant of her own old man’s policies in the White House and signed what was put in front of her by a sorority sister. That’s not my take though. Both Jenna and her sister Barbara, who went to Yale, btw, were under no illusions about Daddy. Whether the subject was the War in Iraq or the environment. But if he’s your own father, what do you do? Oh-No-Daddy-is-going-to-start-a-war, instead of Oh-No-Daddy-is-going-to-start-a-fight like with most fathers. You might even think he’s a war criminal but he’s your dad too. And this recalls my dictum, if someone does the right thing, like signing a petition to stop oil drilling, it doesn’t matter why. If you start questioning people who do the right thing, why they did it or whatever, no one gets to Heaven. You heard it here first. Jenna did the right thing. Whether she knew she was doing it or not.
The environment now trumps race as an issue at Forty Acres and everywhere else too, that’s my whole point actually. All those abandoned wells in West Texas? Some belong to the Longhorn Nation actually, and that’s us. All that contaminated groundwater. All those fouled habitats, belonging to animals and humans alike. The whole cancerbelt thing on the Gulf Coast. The real cause of illnesses that the Texas medical establishment ignores because oil & gas pays for research in the Lone Star State. All the global warming that some people said was bad science but is happening before our eyes. The Longhorn Nation’s real skeleton in the closet is not race, although it is black. It’s oil. That’s more important than Professor Hauser shaving points in the gradebook.
If Dr. Dickwad can get his piece-of-shit trinket to really work and make a few cleanbucks for UT, in a very clever endeavor that doesn’t involve fossil fuels, you know what? All is forgiven and we’ll be BFF. Call me noble if you will. Besides conservative Republican UT, where the Regents have ties to oil & gas, is better than the Democratic and holier-than-thou University of California, where the Regents are Hollywood types and super-liberal, and where Senator Feinstein’s husband was chairman of the board when they kicked me out of nursing school for speaking up about race on campus. At least at UT the Regents adopted the Chicago Statement regarding freedom of speech on campus. At UC the Regents just lie. Guess where my loyalty now lies? With the Longhorn Nation, where mistakes may get made but they may get corrected.
Elliott Hauser would be my hero at the iSchool actually, in certain circumstances, for example if he gets trinket to work, cracker though he may be. People like Professor Hauser are Forty Acres’ future as scary as that may sound. Things might just turn out okay if we can cap the wells before they kill us all and still make big money, through clean technology or environmental remediation, not to sound like a wild-eyed grad student. As long as the money is made some other way than drilling. Of course if Dr. Dickbite can’t get trinket to work, kick his cracker ass to the curb, call me mean-spirited if you will. Better, call me an idealist with a practical spirit, that’s what it means to be a Longhorn actually, white or black. Bevo may one day graze in Blackland and that’s perfectly cool with me too, because my allegiance has shifted to the Longhorn Nation, flawed though we may sometimes be.
But if you think the Governors are pissed off now about the teaching of critical theory, or whatever? Wait til someone proposes prying UT loose from the Big Oil titty and all that sweet green milk she gives. There will be blood. It still has to be done.