Pharyngula

Last little whimper of the Pivar story

It could have been a much bigger story. A reporter came out to talk to me about that lawsuit a while back, and he had talked with Pivar and many of those involved, and he said he was preparing a fairly substantial write-up … and then after he got back to the Twin Cities, he got a call from Pivar announcing that he had dropped the suit, and so the story got cut way back. Dang. If only Pivar had held off for one more day.

Anyway, you can now read the abbreviated story of the Pivar vs. Seed/Myers lawsuit right now. I guess I got a little snark in, anyway.

One thing that didn’t make it into the story is that Pivar accused me of being a big bully, picking on him like that. The irony is incredible. I’m the $45K/year associate professor at a small town university, he’s the multi-millionaire septic-tank magnate from New York City with buckets of cash to throw at expensive art, lawyers, and frivolous lawsuits. He was suing me for a sum that was more money than I’ll probably make in my entire lifetime, yet was maybe six months income for him. And I am the bully.

Man, I’m tougher and fiercer than I thought. I should have beat him up for his lunch money — I’d probably be able to pay off my mortgage with it.

Comments

  1. #1 coturnix
    September 6, 2007

    Dodo.

  2. #2 Stanton
    September 6, 2007

    Coturnix, that is a cruel and horrible comparison to make: what did those poor, bloated pigeons ever do to you do deserve that?

  3. #3 Ichthyic
    September 6, 2007

    actually, PZ was the one that used it first:

    “For his part, Myers contends that Pivar is a “lone nut” and out of touch with the modern blogging age.

    So he’s a dinosaur?

    “Naw,” says Myers. “More like a dodo.” –Matt Snyders”

    which i can’t disagree with, really.

  4. #4 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 6, 2007

    The irony is incredible. I’m the $45K/year associate professor at a small town university, he’s the multi-millionaire septic-tank magnate from New York City with buckets of cash to throw at expensive art, lawyers, and frivolous lawsuits.

    Do you purposely understate the power of Pharyngula to make or break books? This is the Kingmaker of all blogs. Look, you post a positive review of The God Delusion and it sells millions of copies in hardcover and paperback. You post a negative review of Pivar’s book and it sells, what, 3 copies?

    I think O’Leary and Beauregard should think twice before sending you a copy of their “breakthrough.” (Unless they are planning a lawsuit intended to cover publishing costs.)

  5. #5 Zeno
    September 6, 2007

    Only $45K/yr? UM professors are clearly not paid enough.

  6. #6 Brian
    September 6, 2007

    $45K/year? For a professor? Wow! I’ve heard that the pay for teachers down in the US was really crappy, but that’s way lower than I expected. When I reach the top of the pay scale here in four more years, I’ll be making $8oK as an elementary teacher.

  7. #7 jaim klein
    September 6, 2007

    PZ, you are tougher and fiercer than you think.

  8. #8 John C. Randolph
    September 6, 2007

    PZ,

    I’d have to say that you’re being incredibly generous to allow him to just walk away from that lawsuit. You could have made a fortune on a counter-claim for malicious prosecution.

    -jcr

  9. #9 Carl
    September 6, 2007

    PZ,
    Renegotiate. You’re underpaid.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor#Salary

  10. #10 garth
    September 6, 2007

    with that revelation this is not only a frivolous lawsuit, it’s basically class warfare. here’s a pretty obvious example of a rich bastard trying to use his money to intimidate another citizen. so the robber barons can try to shut people up with their money?

  11. #11 Scrofulum
    September 6, 2007

    Came with a bang, went with a whimper. Very funny.

    I was watching the Dawkins on telly the other day, and he said that he liked science because it was inherently honest. You formulate a theory, you try and disprove it, you put it forward if you can’t, other people try and disprove it continuously and, until they do, it’s a working theory.

    Pivar’s work should be able to stand up for itself if it’s any good . . .

  12. #12 ben
    September 6, 2007

    P.Z., as your agent and representative, allow me to offer you this advice:

    WRITE A BOOK, MORANS.

    Thankew.

  13. #13 Donalbain
    September 6, 2007

    I must echo the comments here.. $45K? Thats what, 23K. Thats about the starting wage for a teacher in the UK. Yeah, we pay more in taxes than you guys, but with your experience you could get points on the pay scale and could easily make up the difference.
    Pee Zed, it is time to see the light and cross the Pond. Not only do we have fewer crazy creationists, but we have better beer.
    Jooooin us…. jooooin us!

  14. #14 Jud
    September 6, 2007

    “[H]e’s the multi-millionaire septic-tank magnate from New York City….”

    I believe you have mispelled “magnet,” and thrown in a superfluous “tank.”

  15. #15 Shawn Smith
    September 6, 2007

    I thought the last story in the linked page was rather entertaining, also. It talks about Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), the recent troubles he’s had, and ends with the following:

    Q: Why is the press so mean?

    A: Often, journalists are accused of forgetting that the public officials we cover are human beings; that behind every scandal exist real people experiencing real pain. Fair enough. It doesn’t change the fact that Larry Craig is a dissembling, unrepentant hypocrite who has served his constituents and his country poorly. Also, he’s a perv.

    Classic.

  16. #16 Donalbain
    September 6, 2007

    “[H]e’s the multi-millionaire septic-tank magnate from New York City….”

    I believe you have mispelled “magnet,” and thrown in a superfluous “tank.”

    No! Now that Pee Zed has decided to quit America and join the ranks of the well paid in the UK, he has started to use the rhyming slang to describe our American cousins.

  17. #17 scott
    September 6, 2007

    He may have the money, PZ, but you have the Trophy Wife(TM)!!

  18. #18 Grant Canyon
    September 6, 2007

    Donalbain,

    I like that rhyming slang you Brits do… And if the rhyme for “Yank” is “septic tanks” then a great rhyme for “Brit” would have to be “dog shit”.

  19. #19 MJ Memphis
    September 6, 2007

    Grant Canyon- but then to be a proper “rhyming slang” you’d have to drop the rhyming word, so you would end up referring to Brits as dogs.

  20. #20 PZ Myers
    September 6, 2007

    I thought everyone knew how much professors get paid — $40-50K is typical for low to mid-ranks in my discipline (others, like computer science, get paid more, while many in the humanities get less), and UMM has been on the low side in comparison to other universities (they are trying hard to equalize pay, though, and the low cost of living in Morris helps a lot). On the plus side, we get more job security and some regular pay raises, with bigger jumps at promotion. You do not get into this profession to get rich.

    And yeah, I’ve had former students who are teaching public schools who can tell me how much more they’re making than I am. The students who’ve graduated under me and gone on to med school are even worse. I have this horrible suspicion that all of my students go on to make more money than I do. And that’s OK.

  21. #21 peter irons
    September 6, 2007

    Matt Snyders’ report in City Lights confirms what I suspected from the outset, that PZ was simply a convenient target for Pivar’s animus toward Seed. Snyders quotes Pivar: “‘The real issue got sidelined,’ he said, explaining that his biggest beef is with Seed Media Group, the organization that oversees Myers’s blog.”

    That explains why Pivar’s complaint (falsely and irrelevanty) named Jeffrey Epstein as a Seed director. I had an interesting talk the other day with a writer for Vanity Fair, who’s working on a big story about Epstein, focusing on the under-age sex changes pending against him. The Vanity Fair writer told me that Epstein put up a big wad of cash to set up Seed, and that Pivar and Epstein (formerly friends) had a falling out. My own guess (speculation at this point) is that someone at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, which Epstein initially funded with $6.5 million, turned down Pivar’s request to endorse his Lifecode book. The sex charges just added fuel to Pivar’s effort to “get” Epstein, with PZ’s “crackpot” comment giving Pivar a convenient hook.

    So the “real issue” was never PZ, who simply got caught in the Pivar-Epstein crossfire. This is speculation, as I said, but it makes more sense to me of why a rich bully would pick on a poor (but rich in guts) professor.

  22. #22 jaim klein
    September 6, 2007

    the under-age sex changes pending against him

    under-age massage solicitation charges, maybe?

  23. #23 Donalbain
    September 6, 2007

    Donalbain,

    I like that rhyming slang you Brits do… And if the rhyme for “Yank” is “septic tanks” then a great rhyme for “Brit” would have to be “dog shit”.

    Of course, that would work.. but you would then have to refer to us as The Dogs, and that is very close to the dog’s bollocks. So, we would be decidedly uninsulted.

  24. #24 Kagehi
    September 6, 2007

    Reminds me of this comic today:

    http://www.cyantian.net/akaelae/comics/20070905.jpg

    Noting that the white one is a) military trained, b) older than he looks, and c) a genetically engineered *elite*, which regenerate faster and have far more physical strength than they appear to. Someone suggested this was the equivalent of a bear vs. a wolverine. lol

    Now, if only this was a squid based comic… Though, “squid” is one of the characters favorite invectives, so that may count. 😉

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