Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fire in the Village

Last night, the Von's bookstore building in the West Lafayette village went up in flames. The fire started in the attic, and students living in apartments above the store were evacuated. The building is a total loss. The bookstore's contents are completely lost due to water damage. UPDATE 12/1: The books were not damaged by smoke or water, so the bookstore should open soon!

Von's is an institution in West Lafayette, being an independent bookstore and head/bead/trinket shop. Its collection of serious literature, including philosophy, is outstanding. Von's has received predictable competition from the B&N and Borders stores that have opened recently, as well as online bookshopping.

I order my books for my graduate classes at Von's as I can do so much later than at the student bookstore/Purdue T-shirt shop. And I like for my students to get into a real bookstore.

However, I must admit that I rarely BUY my own books at Von's. I most always order online. BUT, I like the IDEA of an independent bookstore existing in a college town. And latest news is that the owner, fully insured, will probably rebuild.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Jumping off the Screen...

Okay, I will admit it, I am counting the days til this film opens. I know that director Peter Jackson was obsessed with the original 1933 version as a youth. I remember well the mid 70s version with Jessica Lange, one of my fave actresses. Now this one. Saw the trailer at a screening of Harry Potter (very good!) over the

Friday, November 25, 2005

I can't take it anymore...

The news is too depressing. And, I am worried that blogs may have caused the breakup. This blog had nothing to do with it!

Hey, why are you guys laughing? It is NOT funny!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Me neither!

In an effort to clean up the blogosphere and work collaboratively with the blogoscenti, I hereby issue this pronouncement:

I also DID NOT tell Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent.

There, I said it.

But, in respect of full disclosure, I DID:
  • See Judith Miller AND Bob Woodward interviewed by Larry King, though NOT on the same night.
  • Judith Miller was syrupy sweet with ole Larry, though I hear she berates staff members and hotel clerks.
  • Bob Woodward has a very nasal accent.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Higher Ed Inc: Bring on the Mercedes and Merlot

Phantom Prof has a zinger of a post about higher education and its ills. Here is a snip, do read the whole thing. (Via Rita Rud)

I sat through a two-hour seminar last year at which the names of “peer universities” (schools about the same size) were flashed on a big screen, along with their hefty endowment figures. Our campus’ endowment was too far behind them, we were told by the provost. We needed to rev up revenue to catch up to our fellow private schools. This was the only required-attendance meeting for faculty last year (as I recall). No mention was made of inspiring students, engaging in meaningful research or anything having to do with actual education. It was all about dollars and the getting of more of them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Marcel Puff Daddy and the Politics of the English Language

"We may require an English version of Proust that speaks not to readers who have been sent to British public schools, but to Baby Boomer and Gen-X high schools. Their taste has been partly shaped by post-colonial Anglophonic writers, by writers from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, by magical realism, by minimalist-psycho-jittery realism, and by what every reviewer today regards as the highest form of literary craft: clear, understated prose.

Understated is in. Understated is good."

-from a NYRB review of a new translation of Swann's Way

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Carnegie Classification Overhaul

Lee Shulman, whom I could listen to reading the phonebook, has a deft column in the 11/11 CHE about Carnegie's revamping of the classification scheme. It will be out this Friday, and promises to be more exacting, yet flexible, with interactive and generative categories.

But I was JUST getting used to the revised categories of a few years ago, where Research I became Research Extensive, which nobody seems to use, having imprinted R I in their noggins...

Update: Here is another take on the classification overhaul, by a former colleague of mine, who was responsible for the change I note above in the second paragraph.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Blog Flame War

Right here along the banks of the Wabash...and around the blogosphere. Erin O'Connor's posting contains the juicy links.


  • Comme toujours, Tim Burke has incisive and thoughtful comments.
  • And my good colleague Bill McInerney reflects:

You know what this is? Internet road rage. I’ve been struck for some time by the fact that when two people arrive at a doorway at the same time, each smiles, nods, and beckons the other through the door. When two drivers arrive at the intersection at the same time, they blow the horn and give each other the finger. Well, some drivers do. What’s the difference? It’s the anonymity of being in the 4,000 pound vehicle, which makes it easy to forget that you’re really not interacting with a machine; there’s a person in there. At the doorway, you see that it’s a person.

I know we all know this. But I had a similar experience once. Back in the Halcyon days of listservs, when everything was ASCII, I had developed a signature file which had a little locomotive, a little Purdue Boilermaker Special, if you will. I was rather proud of it. I posted something to a list I was a member of, and some guy fired back a really tacky response not to what I had said, but to my signature. His point was that bandwidth was limited, and I was wasting it with my signature file. But he said it in a really snide, nasty way.

I emailed the guy off list and told him I had never thought of that before, that it certainly wasn’t my intention to waste bandwidth, realized I was perhaps a bit of a novice when it came to this sort of thing, and thanked him for bringing it to my attention.

I got what I can only describe as an astonished email back from him. He told me he had flamed lots of people, but I was the first person who had ever responded to him in a courteous way, and that he really appreciated it, and that he was sorry the tone of his comments had been so harsh. We ended up corresponding several more times. I think I took him out of his SUV and to the doorway, so to speak.

These three people need to meet at the doorway of a nice coffee shop and have a cup or two.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

No Dancing on the Table!

Catch our daughter Rachel tonight in Fox's drama House, as an extra in the opening scenes at a (hmmmm) frat party.

Update: If you blinked, you missed her! But here she is again, in still life!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Roots...Shoots...and Rhizomes spreading...

I much enjoyed my visit to the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac University, pictured above, and its conference on Schweitzer's legacy last weekend. Jane Goodall keynoted, and brought out a throng of 1500 to a Friday night address. My talk was on Schweitzer's legacy for educational theory and practice, from a book I am in the midst of writing.

The conference presenters were put up near Yale, so great walking tours amidst Gothic buildings were in order too. Here is Harkness Tower in brilliant early morning sunshine.

It was great to see Rhena Schweitzer Miller again (the only child of Albert and Helene Schweitzer), as well as other like minded people.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Or a Rider of a Hallway Zamboni at Purdue, yes, you too!

Remember, Paul, it is passion that makes the world go round. You are not analphabete, you must know that. In the absence of passion the world would still be void and without form. Think of Don Quixote. Don Quixote is not about a man sitting in a rocking chair bemoaning the dullness of La Mancha. It is about a man who claps a basin on his head and clambers onto the back of his faithful old plough-horse and sallies forth to do great deeds. (from Slow Man, by J. M. Coetzee)