Perennial in the face of catastrophe

A student has just sent me an email apologizing for missing his assignments this week. “I lost focus on some of my classes,” he explains, addressing me by name.

But he isn’t my student. I’ve been retired for a year. Exegi monumentum aere perennius, sings Horace, confident that genre is forever: “I have built a monument whose bronze is everlasting.” For Horace the genre is the ode. For students it’s the excuse.

On his weekends, the English professor reads the Daily News

And there, on February 19, 2016, he reads the headline, “Martin Shkreli really is a bad boy of pharma, government argues.” The text by Daniel McDonald explains that the hedge fund guy Martin Shkreli, a middle-aged white man who dresses like a teenager and talks like a gangsta rapper, is being accused of witness intimidation.

But because Mr. Shkreli is already under indictment, he has an advocate.

Reading the advocate’s email in defense of his client, the English professor uncaps his red pen and goes marginal.


Vicisti, Galilaee

Announcing the election of 22 new cardinals last week, the Vatican issued a media release whose biographical information turned out to have been plagiarized from Wikipedia.

According to this article, “Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi told the Guardian that the bios were labeled unofficial and were lifted from Wikipedia in the interest of timeliness.”

It’s time to throw in the towel on plagiarism, fellow academics. Morally, our corner-cutting students are in the very best company – and not just for their preferred source of downloads but for their preferred excuse too.