Ann Coulter cancels Berkeley speech after conservative sponsors back out

Ann Coulter was supposed to speak at UC Berkeley tomorrow night, but is canceling after the conservative groups who were sponsoring her, Young American's Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans, backed out. Both groups say the atmosphere surrounding her visit has grown too hostile.

"It's a sad day for free speech," Coulter told The New York Times. But administrators at Berkeley see it differently.

“Sadly and unfortunately, concern for student safety seems to be in short supply in certain quarters,” he said. “This is a university, not a battlefield.” He added, “We must make every effort to hold events at a time and location that maximizes the chances that First Amendment rights can be successfully exercised and that community members can be protected.”

Administrators at Berkeley offered to hold the event next week, when students are no longer in class, but Coulter turned the offer down.

This comes two months after the university canceled conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos's event, after violence erupted on campus in protest to his appearance.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Suspected Nazi enthusiast Sebastian Gorka’s degree probably fake

Adding to the controversy surrounding hyper-sensitive, Nazi-affiliated medal wearing "deputy assistant" to Orange Julius, Sebastian Gorka is now a credible claim he faked his PhD.

Gorka has unsuccessfully attempted to assuage fears that he is a yet another Nazi enthusiast in the Trump Administration. Now, suspicions have arisen that he has faked his degree. Andrew Reynolds, a professor of politican science at the University of North Carolina did some digging.

It looks bad for Gorka.

Via Andrew Reynold's website at UNC:

Gorka is Hungarian-English. He gained an American passport in 2012. His nationalist parents fled to London from Budapest in 1956. His dissertation – Content and End-State-based Alteration in the Practice of Political Violence since the End of the Cold War: the difference between the terrorism of the Cold War and the terrorism of al Qaeda: the rise of the “transcendental terrorist” was apparently granted in 2007 by Corvinus University of Budapest. The tract is long on Islamaphobia and the unsubstantiated claims of the polemicist but short on theory, evidence or academic rigor. Corvinus is not an institution with a profile, so I looked: sadly it doesn’t even make the top 1,000 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Even Gorka’s attendance poses a mystery. When exactly was he a graduate student at the university? Did he take classes? Did he receive any training in Islam or Islamic studies? His CV notes that he left Hungary in 2004 to work for the US Defense Department in Germany and then in 2008 relocated to the US. There is no evidence that he ever returned to live and study in Budapest.

The dissertation is online and includes the ‘evaluations’ of three referees who each presented a page of generalized comments – completely at odds with the detailed substantive and methodological evaluations that I’ve seen at every Ph.D defence I’ve been on over the last twenty years.

Two of the three referees did not even have a Ph.D. One was the US Defense Attaché at the American Embassy in Budapest at the time, while the other was employed at the UK’s Defence Academy and just had a BA from Manchester University awarded in 1969. This ‘neutral’ examiner had published a book in Hungary with Gorka three years previously. While graduate students sometimes collaborate with their advisors the independent external examiners must have no nepotistic ties with the candidate. More important, a basic principle of assessing educational achievement is that your examiners have at least the degree level of the degree they are awarding. Undergraduates do not award Ph.Ds. In Gorka’s case the only examiner who lists a doctorate was György Schöpflin – an extreme right wing Hungarian Member of the European Parliament who recently advocated putting pigs heads on a fence on the Hungarian border to keep out Muslims. I have been told that Schöpflin was a family friend. Both Schöpflin and Gorka’s father fled from Budapest to London in the 1950s and both moved in exile right-wing nationalist circles.

If that is true, we are left in sum with a degree that was awarded in absence – on the basis of a dissertation without basic political science methodological underpinnings – and apparently from an examining committee of two of Gorka’s diplomat friends, with only BA degrees; along with an old family friend, Schöpflin.

In sum, Gorka’s Ph.D is about as legitimate as if he had been awarded it by Trump University. Facts matter, but so does the gathering, synthesizing and creation of knowledge that is what we call ‘education.’ If you fake a Ph.D you are faking your credentials. He delivers provable untruths to the American public but is believed by many because he presents himself as an esteemed scholar of Islam. Gorka would never have got away with such hutzpah in the UK. Experience and scholarship work in harness to produce answers to questions. When you have neither experience nor training you are likely to not merely get the answers wrong, but not even have an inkling of which questions to ask.

If you want to be sure your mom gets flowers on Mother’s Day I’m not sure I’d go with our store, but hey!

All moms are different. But all moms like getting flowers on Mother’s Day, and that’s a fact (not, however a fact we can document in any fashion.) Instead of getting chewed out for forgetting to call her on the second Sunday of May, you can take care of it ahead of time with Teleflora’s flower delivery service. For $20, you can get $40 of site-wide credit in the Boing Boing Store.

These bouquets are hand-arranged by local florists, so you can be sure they won’t be delivered completely wilted in a beat-up cardboard box. Honestly, your mom might even know the person who arranges them. Even if you are a total space cadet, you can order last minute and still get fast, same-day delivery (depending on where mom lives). Their collection includes a brilliant array of colorful, exotic selections presented in a wide variety tasteful baskets and vessels.

Get $40 of store credit for Teleflora here for just $20.

Come to the Chicago Walkaway event with Max Temkin, get a multitool!

My publicist just found an extra box of the cool promotional Walkaway multitools, and she's generously offered to give them to the next 100 people to reserve tickets to the May 7th Walkaway event at Chicago's Royal George Theater, where I'm presenting with CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY creator Max Temkin (current ticket-holders, don't worry, you get one too).

A perfect penguin pun

This great World Penguin Day piece comes from London-based artist Ruby Elliot of Rubyetc. You can purchase her work on her Society6 page and follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram. She's also published a book called It's All Absolutely Fine, and a few more of her illustrations are below:

Imagine you work by paying $425 for artificially mud-stained jeans

Nordstrom's is selling artificially mud-stained jeans that look like they've just gotten in from a few hours' laboring in the yard. The $425 mud isn't mud: it's paint.

Details & Care

Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged, Americana workwear that's seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you're not afraid to get down and dirty.

Previously: Clear plastic jeans