the least of Harvard's concern April 25, 2006 2:52 PM   Subscribe

"chat on the intarweb is the least of Harvard's concern right now regarding this situation" -- Harvard notices we were talking about them.
posted by mathowie to MetaFilter-Related at 2:52 PM (84 comments total)

Thats funny. When I first saw that comment I also considered writing what Backwardscity wrote since it did seem to be going a bit far...

That Independent article is odd, though - "the latest twist"??? I am getting the impression that Harvard folks are really hungry for any new angle on this story.
posted by vacapinta at 3:00 PM on April 25, 2006


Another example of why you SHOULD NOT talk about your place of employment on the internet.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:01 PM on April 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Indeed. Now let us hope that within the comments on that story, there will be a link to this thread, so that the spiral can continue ever downward.
posted by cortex at 3:05 PM on April 25, 2006


that's kind of... creepy. I like how they call someone with 127 comments "fairly prolific." they obviously haven't seen the mefi scorecard, yet.
posted by shmegegge at 3:07 PM on April 25, 2006


Another example of why you SHOULD NOT talk about your place of employment on the internet.

... at least, not without first creating a sock puppet.
posted by sbutler at 3:08 PM on April 25, 2006


I like how they call someone with 127 comments "fairly prolific."

I know. I'm feeling like a goddam font over here, and I think my contribution index is bearly over 1.0.
posted by cortex at 3:09 PM on April 25, 2006


Forum Disses Harvard Independent
"This is news?" says snarky anonymous poster.
4/26/2006
By Shane Wilson
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:09 PM on April 25, 2006


Anonymity when providing details like mowglisambo did is just about impossible.
posted by onalark at 3:11 PM on April 25, 2006


Nonsense. Consider:

"I...had a friend...who taught this class, see..."
posted by cortex at 3:15 PM on April 25, 2006


"Harvard notices"

Oh never mind...its just The Independent - a kind of tabloid-y cousin to the Harvard Crimson. Definitely not the voice of the University - more like a crew of undergraduate "investigative journalists" with features like Professors Gone Wild!
posted by vacapinta at 3:21 PM on April 25, 2006


I'm feeling like a goddam font over here, and I think my contribution index is bearly over 1.0.

You've looked a little verdana lately.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:21 PM on April 25, 2006


Among the comments over there, this one sure began like one typically written here:
Christ. Witchhunt much? Upcoming revelations: doctors don't always like their patients; the waitstaff is being chatty because they want you to tip well; and (you might want to sit down for this one) grocery clerks don't actually want you to have a nice day. Indiscretion -- which is the worst I would call a comment on a now-public figure in one of fifty thousand threads on one of the nigh-uncountable forums on the Internet -- is a far cry from "appalling".

Posted 04/25/06 6:00 PM by cortex
Then, upon reaching the end, came the Aha !--or rather D'oh ! moment
posted by y2karl at 3:22 PM on April 25, 2006


You've looked a little verdana lately.

If you should expire in the night, dispatch a courier.

And yes, guilty as charged, y2karl. I did refrain, in my quiet shame, from linking back, however.

Er, that is, I...have a friend...

posted by cortex at 3:24 PM on April 25, 2006


You both can go to Hel ...

VETICA! I'm in the game too!

Oh, fuck, I just lost the game.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:30 PM on April 25, 2006


What vacapinta said--Harvard (the institution) is going to play "cover your ass," which is what they're best at. The Harvard Independent, as far as I can tell, is for the kids who weren't good enough to write for the Crimson and fancy themselves "alternative" journalists. Which is fine, becaues I was involved in some of this when I was a college kid who took myself far too seriously. I also used to think that being a writer for Details magazine would've been an awesome career.

Yeah, Harvard still sucks. So do their "independent" publications.
posted by bardic at 3:42 PM on April 25, 2006


(But I'm totally putting all of this on my blog.)
posted by bardic at 3:42 PM on April 25, 2006


Damn it, Astro Zombie. The game! The GAME!
posted by cgc373 at 3:54 PM on April 25, 2006


I also saw the MeFi comment reported on Maud Newton's blog this morning, then Gawker this afternoon. This story has legs!
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:55 PM on April 25, 2006


The first comment in the Independent thread is a keeper:

mowgli sambo - classy, Nina, classy

Posted 04/25/06 6:01 PM by hitler

posted by brain_drain at 4:08 PM on April 25, 2006


Wow. You know, I almost didn't post this FPP, thinking it might not generate much interest...
posted by mothershock at 4:45 PM on April 25, 2006


But mowglisambo was a fairly prolific Metafilter contributor, with 127 comments under his or her virtual belt.

*snicker*
posted by eyeballkid at 5:00 PM on April 25, 2006


Metafilter: "How mowglisambo got caught"
posted by empath at 5:07 PM on April 25, 2006


to mowglisambo,
oh how harshly you would have
graded matthewchen
posted by brain_drain at 5:32 PM on April 25, 2006


What did she have to say about her? Just that she wasn't a very good writer? If that's all, who cares?
posted by delmoi at 5:40 PM on April 25, 2006


FREE MATTHEWCHEN

PRESIDENT HU AND HAUGHEY

!!!!click here to enlarge your pinkie finger!!!~~
posted by Dreamghost at 5:40 PM on April 25, 2006


Plus now there's a link to her resume and people (in the comments section of the Harvard article) saying stuff like this:

Wouldn't you suspect that someone with a username like "mowglisambo" might have certain biases?

And this:

This woman is clearly racist. 'Mowglisambo?'

The internets can be scary sometimes.
posted by banishedimmortal at 5:48 PM on April 25, 2006


G-O-O-D. It was an inappropriate comment by an author who deserves to be outed. Where anonymity is abused, it should be revoked.
posted by cribcage at 5:52 PM on April 25, 2006


The question of who decides, by what metric, when an outing-magnitude anonymity-abuse has occured? Homework assignment.
posted by cortex at 6:01 PM on April 25, 2006


My name is George W. Bush, and I'm a stupid moron who has a stupid face and I deserve to be impeached because I did a lot of bad stuff. Plus I eat babies.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:05 PM on April 25, 2006


The internets can be scary sometimes.

You think that's bad, take a look at this thread.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:05 PM on April 25, 2006


cribcage : "It was an inappropriate comment"

A writer is accused of plagiarism. A person who knows that writer's raw output quality comments that it isn't very good. That seems like almost the dictionary definition of "appropriate".
posted by Bugbread at 6:24 PM on April 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


G-O-O-D. It was an inappropriate comment by an author who deserves to be outed. Where anonymity is abused, it should be revoked.
posted by cribcage at 5:52 PM PST on April 25


What was inappropriate about it? Should you be outed if I don't like your comments? Should I be outed because I'm mean to people who pretend to be psychic? Should dios be outed because he's unpopular? That's crazy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:28 PM on April 25, 2006


bugbread: I don't think the people who wrote the academic privacy laws see it that way. We (I'm a lecturer at a state university) aren't even allowed to talk to students' parents, much less anybody else.

Which is why I suggested in the thread that she should ask Matt to take it down. I'm surprised it was noticed, much less so quickly, but there are rules against this sort of thing, for good reasons. If mowglisambo's lucky, it won't go any further.
posted by BackwardsCity at 6:30 PM on April 25, 2006


As a TA I don't really think the pseudo-anon. post about a student was very professional (and probably violated confidentiality rules), but this news article? Completely absurd. How is this a twist on anything, let alone the plagiarism scandal? Some random student journalist decides to out some random MIT grad student, for the fun of it? It's not like the grad student accused viswanathan of plagiarism in the class -- she just said she was a bad writer. This doesn't do anything except attempt to draw interest away from the plagiarism issue, in a fairly uninteresting way.

Though it is a good reminder that nothing is ever anonymous.
posted by advil at 6:32 PM on April 25, 2006


mowglisambo's nick (and self-assured granstanding about the Clearly! Racist! nature of it), the comment in question, and the link to the real-life identity, have all been spattered across related threads across the web. Revoking the comment at this point would be a pointless gesture.

Also, it's worth noting that someone has linked this thread in the comments on the Harvard Independent story.

As an aside, Shane Wilson acknowledged via email (of which I may or may not have been the only recipient—there was no salutation, but then what do you call a stranger on the net? "Dear cortex"?) that "prolific" was a bit of an overstatement for a 127-comment posting history around here.
posted by cortex at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2006


cortex: Yeah, exactly. Now it's too late. I was talking about having Matt remove it yesterday.
posted by BackwardsCity at 6:40 PM on April 25, 2006


Ah. Comprende.
posted by cortex at 6:40 PM on April 25, 2006


cortex: The question of who decides, by what metric...

Yeah, yeah. And what constitutes pornography? But y'know, we manage to figure it out despite the devil's advocate grandstanding of Philosophy 101 students.

bugbread: A writer is accused of plagiarism. A person who knows that writer's raw output quality comments that it isn't very good.

First of all, clearly you haven't known many published writers. You'll gain a healthy respect for the work of editors and copyeditors. "Published author produces lower-quality work in personal correspondence" is hardly a newsflash.

Second, you're being disingenuous. "A person who knows...." Uh-huh. Not a friend. Not a classmate. Not a volunteer tutor. Her bjorkin' teacher.

Third, it's just petty gossip. "Her writing was awful." Apart from the claim about Viswanathan falling asleep in class, there's nothing substantial or specific. If the teaching fellow had caught Viswanathan committing plagiarism in her class, then maybe we'd have something relevant to discuss. This was pure gossip — and if you think it's appropriate for college professors to log onto bulletin boards to badmouth their students...well, then I don't know what to say.

Optimus Chyme: Should you be outed if I don't like your comments?

Until I enroll in your class, that will remain a dumb analogy. But my name's posted in my profile.
posted by cribcage at 6:48 PM on April 25, 2006


When the student in question has become a public figure...
posted by cortex at 6:56 PM on April 25, 2006


Who's That Teacher Dissing Kaavya?

Note to self: always take BackwardsCity's advice.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:59 PM on April 25, 2006


College professors? Mowglisambo was a TA, right?
posted by hototogisu at 7:00 PM on April 25, 2006


According to her curriculum vitae, the TF, Nina Strohminger, taught three sections in the spring semester of 2005 for Science B-62: The Human Mind, the popular course headed by Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker.
posted by cribcage at 7:04 PM on April 25, 2006


When the student in question has become a public figure...

I dunno, it still seems like Nina kinda thoughtlessly crossed a pretty clear line of professional responsibility. You don't talk about a former student's embarrassing in-class behavior in a public forum. Not if you're a professional teacher, anyway. It won't surprise me if she gets reprimanded, and I think she probably should be, although I wouldn't wish the academically correct hordes she's now facing for her nick on anyone.
posted by mediareport at 7:35 PM on April 25, 2006


Yeah, I'm not disagreeing entirely—I dig where cribcage et al are coming from—but I see this as rather different than a teacher maliciously bringing up a student apropos of nothing.

Is it okay to talk about your student if it was Bill Clinton? David Bowie? Dan Brown? Jeffrey Dahmer? There's an obvious matter of degree here, but there is a distinction between idle gossip about a highly visible figure and simply dishing on an otherwise unknown student.
posted by cortex at 8:11 PM on April 25, 2006


i'm relieved to see that getting an ivy league education is no guarantee that one has a life
posted by pyramid termite at 8:30 PM on April 25, 2006


Maybe mowglisambo and orthogonality can join forces to find the *real* author.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:43 PM on April 25, 2006


BackwardsCity : "I don't think the people who wrote the academic privacy laws see it that way. We (I'm a lecturer at a state university) aren't even allowed to talk to students' parents, much less anybody else."

Ok. I wasn't aware of these laws. Now the argument against mogwaisamba makes more sense.
posted by Bugbread at 9:01 PM on April 25, 2006


I want to know about the cooperation in cotton-top tamarins.
posted by soiled cowboy at 9:07 PM on April 25, 2006


[This is good]
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:19 PM on April 25, 2006


there is a distinction between idle gossip about a highly visible figure and simply dishing on an otherwise unknown student.

Yep, I see that, but it still feels like Nina misfired. Maybe too quick on the gun, maybe the student isn't enough of a public figure, maybe a combination of those and other factors. It just feels like she made a mistake in jumping in with what is clearly embarrassing gossip about a recent former student. Bad form.
posted by mediareport at 9:27 PM on April 25, 2006


I think we agree at the middle place—it was unquestionably indiscreet.
posted by cortex at 9:54 PM on April 25, 2006


And we care about what a bunch of young wanks in an educational enclave are saying about us because...? What is this, the anti-newsfilter?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:30 PM on April 25, 2006


cortex writes "it was unquestionably indiscreet."

Yes. The comment, which is now probably the most of mowglisambo's worries, should still be the least of Kaayva's.
posted by OmieWise at 5:28 AM on April 26, 2006


People are talking about mowglisambo's name as if there's a referece there I should get. Anyway want to explain it to me?
posted by tiamat at 5:57 AM on April 26, 2006


Until I enroll in your class, that will remain a dumb analogy. But my name's posted in my profile.
posted by cribcage at 6:48 PM PST on April 25


Why is it dumb? The question is, who is fit to decide what the criteria for outing is? For you it's telling an anecdote about a famous former student. Maybe for matteo it's using the blink tag. Maybe for DirtyCreature it's for being called on bullshit. We lost an truly excellent poster a while back because some awesome internet detective just had to personally identify him.

And let's not forget the endless posts of Rothko and Ethereal Bligh, both of whom got so nuts when their real names were mentioned that they derailed a dozen threads.

Outing someone who has committed no crime is vigilantism, no one benefits from it, and it means that we won't hear a lot of truly great stories. Mowglisambo might be reprimanded or fired for tossing off a comment about Viswanathan's work ethic - which we already know is terrible - while Viswanathan herself will fucking lounge on a pile of money while Ethereal Bligh feeds her grapes. Is that right? Is that just?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:12 AM on April 26, 2006


I wondered the same thing since I don't really tend to parse names that look nonsensical to me, but the objection seems to be that the name is a compound of mowgli and sambo. I'm not sure what the compound means, nor, I'm sure, are any of the people concerned, but there seems to be an attribution of racism as a result of seeing those two names.
posted by OmieWise at 6:14 AM on April 26, 2006


Her bjorkin' teacher.

Never have I regretted more not attending an Ivy League school. Anybody got a syllabus, some class notes at least?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 6:37 AM on April 26, 2006


You think that's bad, take a look at this thread.

Huh? What's so awful about that thread? The original post may have leaned over backwards a bit to be fair to Kaavya, which I can understand from the poster's perspective, but the comments seem at least as sensible as the ones in the MeFi thread. Here's a representative sample:
We have all made some pretty ridiculous statements in our younger years but I'm sorry--this is a 19 year-old woman who knew what she was doing. I can understand dropping a line like that to friends (as a joke), but it is so clear that she didn't mean it as a joke (her voice rising? what?!). And you can't seriously be arguing that she didn't know this quote would end up in an NYT article read by hundreds of thousands of people. I do think it's unfortunate that everyone is jumping on the "bash Kaavya"/bandwagon (mostly because this says something about the Indian American community; I completely agree with your crab joke and think it's one huge reason why the Indian American demographic, relative to our wealth, has a negligable amount of political capital and media influence), but I don't really have any sympathy for her. The arrogance that she has displayed is something you simply cannot ignore. If she did in fact plagiarize, it makes all of her quotes and comments that much more reprehensible. This is and will continue to be a stain on the (South) Indian American community.

I don't know her personally, but know many who do. I would never speculate as to what kind of state of mind she was in when she wrote it/made all the comments, but based on what I've heard from friends, I'm not entirely surprised by the result.
I didn't read all the comments, obviously, but I didn't see anything to justify holding the thread up as some kind of Farkfest, or whatever it was you were implying.

I'm torn on the mowglisambo issue; I understand the concern about the ethics of gossiping about your students, but I'm also glad to have the informed perspective. I mean, if her teacher shouldn't talk about her because she's her teacher, and her friends shouldn't talk about her because they're her friends, all we have is uninformed speculation from a distance.
posted by languagehat at 6:40 AM on April 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


but the objection seems to be that the name is a compound of mowgli and sambo. I'm not sure what the compound means, nor, I'm sure, are any of the people concerned, but there seems to be an attribution of racism as a result of seeing those two names.

I'm not sure either, but my guess would be she likes classic children's books?
posted by mikepop at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2006


Huh? What's so awful about that thread?

Banishedimmortal was pointing out the "moglisambo"=racist! comments in the Independent thread; the Sepia Mutiny commenters take that theme and run with it. I'm not going to quote the comments here, but just do a find on "racist" and you'll come up with some wildly overblown ranting.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2006


I'm not sure either, but my guess would be she likes classic children's books?

That's just the sort of weak defense I'd expect from someone like you, hitlerstalin.
posted by cortex at 7:12 AM on April 26, 2006


You know who else liked children's books? The Nazis.
posted by klangklangston at 9:39 AM on April 26, 2006


From the link: The site makes it easy to locate all of a given user's postings

At least they're giving a thumbs up to MeFi's usability...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:42 AM on April 26, 2006


Outing someone who has committed no crime is vigilantism

Actually, if they've committed no crime, it's called being a dick. IMHO, mowglisambo (What, do some of you know her personally now by her first name? That was quick.) committed an incredibly minor infraction, compounded by the fact that she didn't realize mefi was read that widely (nor did I).

Shorter--if this had happened at a less expensive school, there'd be no fallout at all. Oh the fucking humanity--mowglisambo might lose her academic career while Viswanathan "redacts" her work of plagiarism and continues to cash in on a 500K advance. How Opal Mehta cried me a goddamn river and all that.
posted by bardic at 10:38 AM on April 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


The lesson here is that perhaps users should fill in the 'What's the deal with your nickname?' boxes, as in this case it might have spared mowglisambo some of the racism charges being leveled at her.

(I really must get round to doing that at some point.)
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 11:10 AM on April 26, 2006


DHFS, I totally agree.

In my case, "bardic" is the adjectival form of "bard," and it is commonly found in commentary dealing with oral and/or pre-written literary traditions throughout the world.

It's also my nick within the Aryan Brotherhood.
posted by bardic at 12:41 PM on April 26, 2006


In a similar spirit, my name is both an homage to the Coen brothers classic The Hudsucker Proxy and an indication of my pedophilic nature.
posted by UKnowForKids at 12:53 PM on April 26, 2006


If you guys are so clever I'm sure you can figure out that mine, which is the title of a murder ballad, is meant to indicate how highly I value homicide as a hobby.
posted by OmieWise at 12:58 PM on April 26, 2006


Mine is, of course, a blend representing both branches of my heritage: the state of Texas and the Sovereign Principality of Corvinia.
posted by cortex at 1:13 PM on April 26, 2006


Micronations rule!
posted by OmieWise at 1:27 PM on April 26, 2006


Well, if we're going to do this here...

...my user name is from some graffiti on a derelict garage that I used to drive past on my way to work. Someone had daubed 'drill here fore seismics' (sic) on the boards covering the windows, next to a crude stick figure and oil derrick (I assume it was the same person who did both). I did take a phot of it, but it didn't come out, and before I could take another the garage was demolished. I've always remembered the phrase, and decided to use it for a username here and on mofi and various other places.

Glad I did, as I do like it, even if it is nonsense.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 1:35 PM on April 26, 2006


followup: were you under the impression that underscores were required (or, rather, spaces verboten), or are those fallen hyphens a willful aesthetic choice?
posted by cortex at 1:40 PM on April 26, 2006


My username has no tale behind it.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 1:41 PM on April 26, 2006


Cortex,

willful aesthetic choice in the main, I underscore my mp3 files, and in this case I just preferred how it looked.

However some sites don't let you use spaces so I was sort of thinking about possible future consistency as well. Gmail and wikipedia screwed that right up though.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 1:55 PM on April 26, 2006


oops, i meant cortex not Cortex. Apologies.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2006


My handle comes from a random dream I had when I was in 10th grade (around the same time I was being introduced to yahoo mail). I was at the high school gym, where Beck was putting on a concert, along with some dancing robots dressed in country-western theme. My crush walked in the door, sporting a white tennis outfit, complete with matching headband. I went to call out his name, but instead I shouted, "Mowgli! Sambo!"

I was reading The Invisible Man at the time, which probably explains the dream. Nonetheless, it weirded me out at the time and it's been a handle ever since.

I am also a Nazi, of course (the Jewish last name is a dead giveaway, is it not?). In Godwin, we trust.
posted by mowglisambo at 2:38 PM on April 26, 2006


Wouldn't "In Godwin, trust" scan better, mowglisambo? It forces us to parse, too. Bonus!
posted by cgc373 at 2:56 PM on April 26, 2006


Mine came from opening the fridge at midnight. Like the finger of God reaching into my brain and giving it a good stir, the words "Five Fresh Fish" popped into my head, and have ever remained.

No, I was not stoned at the time.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:25 PM on April 26, 2006


Don't let the bastards get you down mowglisambo.
posted by bardic at 3:26 PM on April 26, 2006


mowglisambo, that sounds like one weird dream. Like mikepop I'd have guessed your handle was to do with the children's books.

Anyway, hope things blow over for you soon.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 3:26 PM on April 26, 2006


Being so XXIth century, hence the user name. Please make a note of it.
posted by y2karl at 4:30 PM on April 26, 2006


Or is that XXIst Century ? Now there's a question unworthy for AskMetaFilter.
posted by y2karl at 4:33 PM on April 26, 2006


I'd go with the latter, y2karl; written as pronounced. Googling backs me up. XXIst is about a thousand times as common as XX1th.
posted by cgc373 at 6:40 PM on April 26, 2006


Er, XXIth.
posted by cgc373 at 6:41 PM on April 26, 2006


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