Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tragedy in the Village

The local NPR affiliate reported that a graduate student couple from the PRC, he in mechanical engineering, she in chemical engineering, argued on Christmas morning in their apartment in the Purdue Village (aka married student housing, a massive complex stretching west of campus).

The report I heard said she stabbed her husband in the chest with a knife, and then slit her wrists and stabbed herself in the chest. Both were rushed to the local hospital, where they were treated and released. A trial date has been set.

I searched in vain for more information on the local newspaper's website or the local CBS affiliate's site or evening newscast. Nothing yet...and this happened almost a week ago!

I asked one of my graduate students (both he and his wife are from the PRC and live in the Village too) about it. He had no more details to offer at this point but did say such stress (that may provoke such an incident) is common, but those suffering may not seek help or counseling due to cultural norms.

What can we do at the university to deal with this in a better way?

Notes on David Weinberger talk...

Here are some of my notes on the Weinberger talk I discussed yesterday...

David Weinberger Talk on CSPAN 11/15/04
-"Mr. Blog"
-Why all is miscellaneous
-knowledge begins with miscellaneous
-more personal voice with blogs
-wikipedia, from the bottom up
-over time, epistemological justification got tighter
-led to an anorexic view of knowledge
-Aristotle, what is it?; gather together and split apart.
-Porphyry, the tree like knowledge metaphor
-Dewey Decimal system and how restrictive it is
physical: split, neat and clear, owner owns organization
digital: viney, messy a virtue, order the way you want (amazon and new egg examples), users contribute (social tagging)
-content becomes the tag, get all the content out there
-build ponds with rich info objects, have stuff as rich as possible
-Kenmore traditional site versus a message board: anecdote about buying a washer/dryer, why message board was better
-Blogs: public, voice, and persistence
-blogs send you away by internal links, rather than arrogate authority and content
-written badly is okay; not polished, see the writer at home, an ethos of forgiveness develops, pull people together unlike most published writing
-forgiveness and how it affects knowledge growth
-on forgiveness itself; anecdote about how he googled the word, came to akma's blog, then linked away for multiple views
-the eruption of joy in a blog, multisubjectivity
-the shape of knowledge? Trees are in trouble
-knowledge is organic, viney, and dark. We have had 2500 years of tree knowledge
-Vines are better and I think he said the only knowledge framework to allow us to live in a plurality

Holiday Spending...

From a NY Times editorial today:

"The $35 million that the United States plans to spend on disaster relief for the tsunamis in Asia is a miserly drop in the bucket."

From an article in the Houston Chronicle 12/21/04:

"Rose Bowl payout: $14.5 million per team.
Cotton Bowl payout: $3 million per team.
Holiday Bowl payout: $2 million per team.

...In total, seven Big 12 teams are going to bowls that pay more than $37 million dollars, but each team will probably bank around $1.7 million."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Cruisin' the APA...

Well, not this year. Not for a number of years. But it seems that EVERY blog I have read today talks about going to the APA. It is sure nice to hear about it, and not go, yes sirree! One of my buds here must be there, as his pickup with the "Leibniz" vanity plate hasn't moved from its place in the parking garage.

I do remember the Eastern Division APA interrupted my post holiday sloth of eggnog and bowl games for a number of years. One year, I interviewed for a temporary position (I won't tell you where, but it is a college in MN that shares the same town as another college, and you can study Norwegian at this other college, and, and...). The professor interviewed me, in her hotel room, and took several phone calls, in Spanish, sitting on her bed, while I sat, interrupted, near the TV. And then another year, we all trekked up from Evanston to attend the Central Division APA in Milwaukee. We emerged from the bus station and walked a block, looking for the conference hotel. I was just about to ask for directions when I saw a gaggle of middle aged men in scraggly beards and ill fitting coats. Ah, I know where the APA is, no need to ask for directions now...

Weinberger talk on blogging...from Nick

Nick Burbules sent this e-mail to a bunch of folks...

Here is the link to a wonderful talk I heard on CSPAN, which I know
you will enjoy too (in fact, after you listen to it, I would like to
discuss it with you).
Go to the lecture for November 15 (David Weinberger). After the
introductions, the talk itself is just over a half hour. Tell me what
you think about it.

I came to work, a deserted moo u for sure just before the holiday, for a faster connection that would let me watch this all the way through. Here is what I said to Nick and some others by e-mail...there are wonderful things to think about in this talk in relation to higher ed now and in the future...

This is just terrific. Here are some reactions immediately to the talk. I plan to listen later to the commentary starting at minute 49. I plan to copy this now to folks and put it on my blog with some more commentary.

I LOVE Wikipedia. It has a charm to it. For instance, we all did our Christmas Day tradition of going to a film opening (last year, Cold Mt, this year, The Aviator) and I came home wanting to know more about Howard Hughes. Of course, I googled him and then went to several wiki articles, learned more about what happened in the film, about his OCD, and clipped several pics of the Spruce Goose, one of which is now my laptop's wallpaper. Even though they were just feet away, I IM'ed these links to my wife and daughter, and we exchanged info about what we all found, and what we thought about the film and the real life Howard Hughes...and so on. So, Wiki rules, as Weinberger suggests!

One of the main themes of Negroponte's book *being digital* was the atom/electron difference, and Weinberger picks up on that very pointedly when he talks about how the Dewey Decimal system cannot be altered for the world's (physical) books. I spoke on Negroponte here at Purdue, and published a book review on his book and Sven Birkerts's book *The Gutenberg Elegies* in Ed Researcher a number of years ago. Birkerts lamented the loss of relaxed, focused reading of (physical, paper, bound) books, and wistfully recalled growing up in Ann Arbor and the independent bookstore culture of that city. But one of the most interesting chapters in that book, IMHO, is the one about audio books, as Birkerts really talks, phenomenologically, about the experience of a book on tape versus reading.

I loved the stuff at the end of Weinberger's talk about blogs, as that is exactly the way I have experienced them. I have been thinking that several blogs I have been following lately seem almost too formal for me at times to be blogs. *Crooked Timber* is terrific, and I follow it, but the posts seem formal and fixed at times...more like position papers than blog entries. Too....serious and earnest at times, I suppose! I may need to tunnel into CT more to see if I am being fair! Probably not...

I love that idea of an organic, viney, messy metaphor for knowledge. My mind is better at allusion and synthesis than analysis I think, so I feel at home with this new metaphor. I love the example of finding out about "forgiveness" through Googling Akma's blog, and then linking.

Apropos forgiveness, I think it is a brilliant insight of Weinberger that blogging fosters a culture of forgiveness, due to their messy, relaxed nature. I agree that this type of writing makes me feel like I know the person. When I write another blogger about a posting, I almost always use his or her first name. I feel I already know this person through their blog postings, just as Weinberger points out. And, it is very liberating for me, as the somewhat grammatically obsessed son of a career journalist who corrects others, to have this more informal forum.

Nuff for now...thanks so much for this, Nick! On to my blog most of this goes!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Who will be Morgenbesser's Plato?

A brief NY Times Magazine appreciation of Sidney Morgenbesser, longtime philosophy professor at Columbia, who died in August. He wrote very little. Yet Robert Nozick said he "majored in Sidney Morgenbesser" as an undergraduate. Socrates lives on largely due to the writings of Plato...will Morgenbesser live on as the "sidewalk Socrates" as he is called in this article unless more is written about him?

Thanks to Mark Packer for this link, and to Rita Rud for the question in the post's title.

Voices...I hear Voices...

I vaguely remember reading an interview a long time ago with Camille Paglia, and what sticks in my mind was how she attested to doing serious scholarship while having the TV on in front of her. That sounded like a challenge, but maybe fun, to me.

I think she or the interviewer tied that to postmodernism, the multiplicity of voices, blah, blah. Like I said, I vaguely remember...

But when I try to do the same, say, read a journal submission on Dewey, I hear..."I like my mustard in one color...yellow...and I have a Discover Card."

Now, how can one do focused reading when such funny drivel issues forth from the tube?

Lani Guinier on Admissions at Elite Colleges

From the December 27/January 3 Newsweek. As a former Ivy admissions officer, I appreciate how she adds fresh insights and layers of complexity regarding equity and access to the topic of college admissions.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Er, um, I meant British, yes, that is what I, um...

Quite a flap at Dartmouth about academics and athletics. Dean of admissions has to backpedal from a supportive letter he wrote to Swarthmore's president when that college got rid of football several years ago. Dartmouth now in the hunt for a new football coach, and poof, old letter surfaces in local paper (ah, timing), causing D's president to issue a statement and for the admissions dean to apologize.

The Corax Zone

Just a plug for one of my favorite websites, by a colleague and dear friend in Classics. I have now linked it to the left, along with Nick's fine blog, PBD. Corax helps keep me sane here on the banks of the Wabash...

Here's to a better 2005...though I am not sanguine. May there be many silly moo2 moments, and hilaritas, to keep us optimistic and focused in these shadowed times.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Teaching Evaluations Discussion from Crooked Timber

A long and thoughtful discussion of a timely topic, end of term teaching evaluations.

More than one Earl Butz...

Those who have read Jane Smiley's novel that inspired the title of this blog know that a main "character" is a large pig whose care occupies many an agriculture professor, staff member, and student, and who stands as a central motif in the novel. The pig's name is Earl Butz.

The REAL Earl Butz, a retired ag econ professor and Nixon and Ford's ag secretary, lives 2 blocks away from me in a retirement community. He still goes to an office on campus (he is 94 or 95) and I hear he said that he found his cane useful to smite any Clinton Democrats who came near him! hahahahaha....

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Films 'n Books for Higher Ed in Film and Fiction Course...

Here are the films and books I am going to use in my Higher Education in Film and Fiction just 3 short weeks....!

Films I will use...

-Mona Lisa Smile
-Higher Learning
-The Human Stain
-Educating Rita
-Dead Poets Society
(set in a prep school, but deals with issues pertinent to higher education...and the Robin Williams character is modeled after a professor I had as a freshman at, in it goes...)
-Episodes of The Education of Max Bickford

-Animal House
(maybe? Again, more Dartmouth here...) or Good Will Hunting?

Films I will think about for another time...

-Legally Blonde
-Paper Chase

Novels I will use...

-Philip Roth’s The Human Stain
-David Lodge’s Changing Places
-Richard Russo’s Straight Man
-Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim
-Jane Smiley’s Moo
-May Sarton’s The Small Room

Novels I will think about for another time...

-Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons (been readin' lots on this, the publisher sent it to me, but it is long, and the reviews are not great. I think I will pass this time...)
-Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys (just the movie this first time)
-James Hynes’s The Lecturer’s Tale
-J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (I LOVED this novel...but next time)
-A. S. Byatt’s Possession

Theory and Memoir...

I also will set up the discussion with websites, a course pack of analytic articles, and essays about current higher educational issues, such as diversity, the role of the professor, governance, and other issues. I am looking at chapters from memoir or nonfiction discussions of current academic life, such as James Freedman’s Idealism and Liberal Education or James Axtell’s The Pleasures of Academe.

Can you just send it as an attachment?

Dr. Rud,

I will not be able to attend lecture today. I broke my nose last night and have to get it set today. I can get the notes from a friend, but if there is anything else could I please be allowed to make it up? I can show you my nose or bring a doctor's note. Thanks.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The salary issue

A few weeks ago, The Exponent, the independent student newspaper here at Purdue, published the salaries of all faculty, administrators, clerical, and service staff at the university. Some were surprised, and the newspaper got angry calls saying this was private information. It is not, of course; such information is open to anyone at a state university. It was more complicated, but not difficult, to get before: the "salary books" are available at the undergraduate library and at the personnel (aka "human resources") building for viewing.

At a favorite Indian restaurant near campus, the owner said that the salary pages from the newspaper were THE hot topic of conversation that day; she looked up her customers, and exclaimed that the high paid professors were the worst tippers, while the lower paid were more generous. Hahahaha...great moo2 stuff.

The Exponent reported a few days later that hundreds of copies of the newspaper were dumped prior to distribution in recycling bins behind one of the Engineering buildings.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Whither Max Bickford?

The Education of Max Bickford was a show on CBS for one season ( I am using some of its episodes in my new course.

I googled to find someone who had taped them, a professor at Alfred University. I wondered why it tanked. Here is some commentary on that issue: .

The Nanny University

This was recently in the Chronicle of Higher Ed's daily update, Academe Today: The article, "Welcome to the Fun-Free University: The Return of 'In Loco Parentis' Is Killing Student Freedom,"

Higher Education in Film and Fiction

I am starting a blog that will be used for my new course, Higher Education in Film and Fiction. However, more than just a course blog, I want it to be a discussion of higher education, in all its nuances and manifestations. I think what goes on in universities is intrinsically interesting, and little understood. It is serious stuff...but it is also asinine and funny, ironic and absurd, don't you think?

The title of the blog plays off Jane Smiley's well known satirical novel, which I will teach. I work at Purdue, and our president was the president of Iowa State when Smiley wrote Moo while on the faculty there, hence moo2 blog is a continuation of observations on landgrant universities, but also many other kinds of institutions, as well as discussions of education in general.

I am a philosopher of education, so I am interested in conceptual issues of higher education, as well as how higher education and K-12 schooling interact.

I see film and fiction as another set of lenses for looking at this. I am dismayed by how cardboardy most Hollywood depictions of university life are. Professors in tweed and puffing pipes (even in John Singleton's film Higher Learning!), male professors chasing after undergraduate women. Ha!