15.12.03

SEEKING A NEW MEME? Clement C. Moore's Night Before Christmas becomes the foundation for commentaries on the academic scene at St. Cloud State and Academic Game, naming numerous names.

It is time for stronger fare. The executive suites at numerous universities are occupied by individuals who, if the word got out, would have to hide in spider holes rather than sip sherry in panelled common rooms. Clearly, what we lack is a proper card deck. Here is a start. Nominations for your candidates are welcome by email to skarlson-at-niu-dot-edu. Please note the following rules.

First, my Wisconsin roots are showing. Thus, I am structuring this deck as a 32-card sheepshead deck. (There is something particularly fitting about using a very complicated game that you don't play with a full deck, nicht wahr?)

Second, in a sheepshead deck, there is a permanent trump suit, the queens, jacks, and diamonds, and all other suits are referred to collectively as "fail" suits. Thus, the seven of hearts could be used to identify an administrator who has been a particularly miserable failure.

The most powerful card in the sheepshead deck is the queen of clubs. Cold Spring Shops nominates Donna Shalala as queen of clubs, for finding no diversity fad too foolish, for conspicuous loyalty to corrupt athletic departments, and for distinguished service as a Democratic Party court intellectual.

University of Wisconsin Chancellor Katherine Lyall has made a good case for queen of diamonds, for willingness to accept a pay raise provided it's a secret.

The ranking jack is the jack of clubs, and outgoing University of Illinois at Chicago dean Stanley Fish has earned that status as a lifetime achievement award, for his innovative use of nepotism as a recruiting device in the Duke English Department, and his charming insistence on taxpayer indulgence of expense-preference behavior in spite of the failure of the education establishment (yes, the whole P-20 quagmire) to do its job.

In this morning's shopping around, I have found a logical candidate for the ace of spades. (Remember, this is a sheepshead deck. The ace of spades is worth 11 points to the winner of a trick, but it is a dangerous card to lead as an opponent void in spades can trump it with the seven of diamonds.) Eastern Michigan's Steven D. Krause has turned up a good candidate. Auburn President William Walker, who has lost the confidence of his faculty but has not yet hidden in a spider hole.

Additional nominations are welcome, there are still 28 cards to fill in.

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