The Next Ray Allen (and Columbia Professors in the News)

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The Celtics are frustrating–not only are they not playing well, they’re kinda dull on the court. The best I can hope for right now is Rondo to loose his shit (and he usually comes through). But they’ll be fine. I’ll check back in from time to time, but wont start worrying until at least February.

In the meantime, I’ve concluded that Klay Thompson will soon be the best shooter in the NBA. And that the Warriors are going to stay relevant for at least 30 more seconds. And the Nets are better than I thought. And the Knicks season will end on a day that Carmelo goes 8-32 from the floor. And that somehow the death of Rick Majerus feels more jarring and sad than most of the sports world deaths.

And what’s going on with the professors at Columbia? Last year it was drugs and incest. Now, one of its professors, Mark Lamont Hill, goes over-the-top in attacking Jeremy Lin, of all people. OK, Lin can’t go left and commits turnovers. He’ll figure it out–he hasn’t even played a full season’s worth of games. In the last week, he’s had games of 19 and 10, and 16 and 8, both with low turnovers. It was way too soon to launch him last year, but we did because he was a great story regardless of whether it was an exaggeration. And now it’s way too soon to bury him. He’s not Tim Tebow.

And even more perplexing is that the NY Times would give so much space to an article taking down another Columbia professor, Sudhir Venkatesh. In the big scheme of things, Venkatesh is kind of obscure for a long take down in the Times (not because he’s obscure among his academic field, Sociology–he’s clearly a ‘star’ in a world where ‘star’ is defined by tens of thousands of book sales and an appearance on Colbert–but because all academics are obscure in the world of actors typically covered by the NY Times). And the article is based almost entirely on hearsay and innuendo and slander of the kind you hear in the halls of an academic conference but not when anyone is actually having to be accountable. (Or the kind of hearsay and innuendo that Hill relies on in his takedown of Lin–it isn’t hard to get NBA guys to trash other NBA guys ‘off the record.’ But at least Hill is writing in the huffington post which is only a half step up in journalistic integrity from the transparent lies being said on anonymous blogs like this one). Who prompted the writing of the Venkatesh takedown? And what ‘journalist’ couldn’t find 20-30 negative comments made about a ‘star’ professor?

On the other hand, if Ariel Kaminer, the writer of the article, thinks she’s on to something, then she could write these kinds of articles about academics for the next 30 years. For 20 of those years, she wouldn’t have to leave the confines of New York City. And she is definitely on to something. Just like music and literature and movies, there are a lot of really talented people all writing about similar things in academia. Some of the ‘stars’ are those who are singularly talented. Most of the ‘stars’ are simply louder and better connected and more devious and unscrupulous than others. If she’s looking for future possible targets, she can find them by reading all the fluff pieces the Times journalists publish about their friends who are NYC professors.

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