Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rock Journalists ... or ... Academic Scribblers?

From here:

(Frank Zappa) reserved some of his keenest insults for rock journalists, which (sic) he once described as "people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

Our Moral Arbiter (BA Williams, PhD, philosophy, UT Austin)

Via Nick Burbules:

Bill Bennett (self-anointed moral arbiter of our culture): for shame

[I]f "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Film on Nickleby...

From Schools Matter, notice of a new film that just premiered in NYC on No Child Left Behind (aka NCLB, Nickleby, unfunded mandate, you choose). Reasonably priced DVD too!

Nights with the Coop...

Doesn't get much better...bloggin', surfin', and lissenin' to that east Detroit native/Phoenix transplant's radio show...

Solution for Offensive College Sports Mascots... Watch out Chief Illiniwek!

Just put 'em on this Boilermaker's anvil!

PS: Brand new...way cool...especially lighted at night... is really hell...

A colleague and I were pondering what we would do in our golden years, and we decided that if we became Wal Mart greeters (as some of our students seem to think that is how professors should behave), we would spring long quotations from Democracy and Education (good ole #5) on unsuspecting shoppers as they head for the video games. Then my friend reflected a bit more:

What a world we live in, John Dewey’s ideas are dangerous; having a president who possesses nary a thought is good; and there is talk that Arnold Schwarzenegger should run for president and Ben Affleck for the Senate in Virginia. Have you ever pondered the possibility that what we consider as life is really hell and we must have done something really, really bad to deserve this?

A seamless P-16!

Wikibooks take on textbook industry, thanks to Christian Mattix. Here's a snippet:

If you found yourself needing an old biology textbook and couldn't locate your battered copy from college, you'd have a few options.

You could go to a university bookstore and snag a used copy; you could drop a few dollars on a new one at; or you could track down some old college chums and ask for their copies.

But if Jimmy Wales and his colleagues at the Wikimedia Foundation have anything to say about it, you could have another way to go--the Wikibooks project. It's their attempt to create a comprehensive, kindergarten-to-college curriculum of textbooks that are free and freely distributable, based on an open-source development model.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless, hoeeeeplessss...(sorry, Neil)

From Gary L. Anderson's review of Jean Anyon's new book, Radical Possibilities:

"They seemed to be saying that in fact schools do make a difference: they reinforce rather than challenge current social inequalities. Studies that looked at in-school solutions, such as the effective schools research, were not only more practical, but were also less depressing. Education scholars have a low tolerance for studies that breed hopelessness."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The abuse of FIPSE

Via Nick Burbules: An article from the LA Times, how pork extends to a well known higher education agency, siphoning off funds for pet projects rather than scholarly support.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

How does my tush look?

Via Nick Burbules, a link and another link to stories in the Chicago Tribune about rating professors online.

Someday soon, I plan to blog a bit about central and marginal issues in what Patti Lather referred to as a "global audit culture." This may include such items, but also stretches from NCLB to the mania about surveys, such that my furnace company calls me at home to have me rate their service visit, lengthy e-mail surveys arrive from a hotel chain where we stayed for two nights, a well known publisher wants me to rate my current assigned texts, and numerous surveys from graduate students and others, purporting to find something or other out about some subgroup or another.

Oh, and let's not forget the reputational rankings of colleges and universities by US News and World Report ...maybe more than one blog entry will be needed!

Into the Blogosphere

Via Corax, "This online, edited collection explores discursive, visual, social, and other communicative features of weblogs."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Good sabbatical memories...

Three autumns ago, I took my first and I hope not last sabbatical. Since I had just finished years of administration, and was about to become a full time faculty member, it felt more like just time off or down time. I needed to vegetate. I did get writing done, some. I fretted about the new courses I had to teach, including a large undergraduate lecture class. I had never taught more than 30 students, and now was expected to address five times that number.

The most memorable reading I did that fall included a number of personal essays. I recall lying in the sun in the late afternoon on Slayter Hill, with Fitzgerald's The Crack-up. But my singular sustained intellectual experience that fall was reading Don Quixote. This speech just given by Carlos Fuentes brings back that wondrous time.

Planning for Spring

I am offering my new course again, Higher Education in Film and Fiction, the mother of this blog. Awwwright! I want to do some different works, so here is what I am changing and retaining. Any thoughts or comments are welcome.

Novels: I have retained Lucky Jim, Changing Places, Straight Man, and Moo. I am deleting The Human Stain and The Small Room. I have added Pnin and I Am Charlotte Simmons, as well as Elaine Showalter's new book on academic novels, Faculty Towers.

Films: I have retained Educating Rita, Mona Lisa Smile, Wonder Boys, Higher Learning, and Dead Poets Society, as well as excerpts from the TV show The Education of Max Bickford. I am deleting The Human Stain and Oleanna. I am adding Lucky Jim, Animal House, and either Good Will Hunting or Possession, or some other film, as well as excerpts from TV shows such as Felicity, Undeclared, and Tommy Lee Goes to College.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lagniappe (and beignets and cafe au lait to go): Sunday night cat blogging

Our newest family member, Wendy.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ah see textbook price a risin'...

An op ed in the NYT on the escalating cost of textbooks.

Friday, September 16, 2005

He writes like a Hegel on Trimspa!

Perfect for the upcoming season of reference letter writing and promotion case preparation, the Blurb-o-matic! Via Maud Newton...

Now I know why I hanker for a Harley...

Check out these Random Blurts from faculty, on Phantom Prof's site.

Here's one from l'il ole me: "Her office looks like a Katrina clean up site."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Snipping at the heels of the more intellectually ambitious

The postings of Ivan Tribble about the danger to one's academic career of keeping a blog have set off a Niagara of comments in the blogosphere (love those mixed metaphors). Brian Weatherson's entry on Crooked Timber is nuanced and sensitive to the subtleties of blogging. This snippet below is particularly apt. (Pause for memory lane: I recall hearing a well known ethicist while I was in college, in response to an undergraduate's enthusiasm for Plato's Republic, uttering, "yes, Plato, he made lots of mistakes.")

And in the long run, there are some things that you should be writing on a blog. I don’t know how much this extends to other disciplines, but a lot of philosophy publication is taken up with papers about why X’s proposal about topic Y is wrong. Now “Philosopher makes mistake” is hardly a headline, so a lot of these papers aren’t surprising. The world would be better off if the journals could be cleared of a lot of them. Of course the good of the world need not be the primary concern of the young academic. (It certainly wasn’t my concern when I was younger, or now for that matter.) Still, there comes a time when it starts to look unfortunate to have all of one’s CV taken up with these little critical notes. (I’ve had to make separate listings on my CV for positive and negative papers just to remove the impression that I do nothing but snip at heels of the more intellectually ambitious.) And at that time you might prefer that those sharp critical comments you’d made had been confined to a well-kept first-rate blog rather than slotted into a second-or-third-rate journal. Certainly the academic world would be better if a lot of these papers were confined to web-self-publication, and after a while their writers will also be better off.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

John Harvard's Gift...

Via Garrison Keillor's Writers' Almanac:

It was on this day in 1638, a young clergyman, just 31 years old, died in Massachusetts, and in his will, left his library and half of his estate to a local college. To honor his memory, the college changed its name. The clergyman was named John Harvard, and the college changed its name to Harvard University, and it's the oldest in America.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Being Poor...

Link thanks to Rita Rud.

Blog, Blogger, Bloggest

The New Yorker, 9/12/05, via Kathy Evans.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

On this day...

From Garrison Keillor's Writers' Almanac today...

It was on this day in 1900 that a hurricane leveled Galveston, Texas, and left 5,000 people dead. The storm kept up for 18 hours, with winds clocked at 120 m.p.h. Most of Galveston was built at sea level, and huge waves swept through the streets and flattened businesses and homes.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dereliction of Duty...and worse, shoes, vacations, baseball games, and guitar pickin'

A Katrina timeline, via the Leiter Reports.

HSUS teams scour New Orleans for Stranded Pets

Thanks to former NCCAT colleague Judith Clauss for this item.

By Bernard Unti

September 6, 8:40 p.m.

Today, on their third day of access to the cheerless city of New Orleans, members of HSUS's Disaster Animal Rescue Teams (DART) helped to carry dozens of animals to safety, taking them out of houses, picking them up in the streets, and collecting them from displaced evacuees leaving the city. One ground-based DART team rescued at least nineteen cats in break-and-enter operations undertaken with permission from authorities. Fourteen other teams were operating across Mississippi and Louisiana. The animal exodus from New Orleans works this way: After the day's patrols end, rescued animals are taken to a triage point outside the careworn city in caravans of small vehicles. There, ailing animals are stabilized, with those in good condition being moved to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, the improvised headquarters of the Louisiana SPCA, The HSUS, and their rescue partners—and a facility that lends itself well to the staging of a large-scale animal rescue. The sicker animals are currently sent to a veterinary hospital at Louisiana State University. Today's good news came even as the story of New Orleans' pets—a new kind of disaster in the making—began to win increased attention from the national media, underscoring the terrible realities of disaster response plans that do not include proper provisions for the evacuation of people with their companion animals. Anderson Cooper and Oprah were planning to focus on the topic in special reports, and HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle was scheduled to appear on Larry King Live on Thursday night, September 8. Still, as serious rescue work began, time was a shadow that hung dismally over the lives of New Orleans' pets. Lost, abandoned, stray, or locked inside the houses, offices, and other structures of a battered city, food and water running out, they were trapped in time and place.

Katrinaologists at the old gold and black...

Left Behind...

Warning: Already weary parent whines ahead, before gist of post:

In the next few days, we will be moving our daughter north to college for her junior year. The great trek, this year forsaking the UHaul and trying a minivan, but wait, that might mean two trips by lil ole sore shoulders me...I believe young women have loads more stuff than young men, especially after reading that Michael Berube plans to toss a few suitcases out the window next year as he speeds away, when his son enters his junior year, seeing how said son pared down for the start of his sophomore year a week or so ago!

Whine over, to the title of the entry:

I am hoping to collect some background items soon about how Katrina is affecting animals in the region. My colleagues in (human/animal interaction, human/animal bond, anthrozoology, take your pick) here at Purdue have done research and rescue efforts over the past years on this topic. One, not surprising, item out of New Orleans is that pets figure in whether people resist leaving. My former colleague Sebastian Heath has written a book on this topic, namely pet canine disaster recovery and how it affects how humans behave in such, called Rescuing Rover, available from Purdue University Press.

Silliness relief moment:

On a lighter note, last night's penultimate Tommy Lee Goes to College was, for this easy to amuse one, hilarious, especially Tommy as Mona Lisa, and the little squirrel who chirped "Tommy got a Ceeeee!"

Sink or Swim: Tulane must open by spring

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Two Dates

From Garrison Keillor's Writers' Almanac today, with my $.02 with which I walk memory lane:

It's the birthday of writer Robert Pirsig, (books by this author) born in Minneapolis (1928). He's best known for his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), which 120 editors turned down before one finally offered a standard $3000 advance. The book is about the 1968 motorcycle trip he made from Minneapolis to San Francisco with his 12-year-old son Christopher. But the trip is really a backdrop for Pirsig's philosophical meditations on nature and technology. It was a completely unexpected best seller. He wrote: "The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower."

Zen was a cherished book for me as a younger man, and I have meant to go back to it for some time now. It helped cement my orientation toward philosophy, and, when I found out his record with publishers as stated above, heartened me in my own writing efforts.

On this day in 1847, Henry David Thoreau (books by this author) left Walden Pond and moved back to his father's house in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau had lived in the hut for two years, leading a simple life of gardening and contemplation, subsisting on a daily budget of 27-1/2 cents. When he moved back to Concord, he took with him the first draft of his book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, strung together from 10 years of journal entries.

As a MA native, I grew up thinking about Thoreau. When the first book I coedited was compared to Walden by an overly kind foreword writer, I can't say I wasn't pleased, though it was not our intention with that volume. I laughed when a colleague later informed me that HDT went home to lunch with his mother most days, though I have never confirmed this item.

I finally visited Walden Pond one year, on the way home from a program to recruit minority graduate students at Phillips Academy (Andover). As I sat on its public beach, after touring the tiny and famous hut reconstructed on the site, a Latino toddler next to me pulled his shorts down and urinated in the water. I couldn't stop smiling. I think Thoreau might have loved this juxtaposition. I certainly did.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Cutting the cord?

I am asking for any comments or advice about getting rid of one's landline phone. We have thought of this, as my wife and I both have cells, as does our daughter, with rollover minutes and free mobile to mobile, as well as generous anytime minutes and buckets of night and weekend minutes. We have cable TV, and our cable company keeps asking if we want to go broadband, which is faster than our DSL connection now.

Now, we get calls at home that we screen with our caller ID, which costs $ for a landline. We don't answer the phone without checking who it is. If it is "unavailable" on the caller ID box, it is invariably a solicitor, even though we have signed up for donotcall. We get free caller ID with our cells. We get good signals anywhere in our hometown, except the basement of my behemoth building at the MooU where I work, where I only go for the coffee machine, or in the elevators of said brick edifice, which I now avoid mostly to use the free exercise equipment (aka stairs).

We would have to tell my mother to call at night or weekends if she wanted to chat for a long time, which is always. She doesn't do email. :-(

Do others have experiences with cutting the cord? What are the pros and cons you have found?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"All memory resolves itself in gaze" (Richard Hugo)

...a haunting piece in the NY Times today by the novelist Richard Ford, a New Orleans native.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"The Drowned and the Saved"

Check out this remarkable entry from sociologist Kieran Healy, one of the participants in the prominent group blog, Crooked Timber.

PS: I have suspended my authorial convention of "lagniappe" posts for the time being, normally reserved for non-higher education entries, when I want to offer "a little extra," a small gift. I love this Cajun term, what Mark Twain said in Life on the Mississippi is "a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get," but it seems inappropriate for Katrina's aftermath...

Waiting patiently...

...for the child to die.

Bailing out Tulane: Some issues...

A comment in Inside Higher Ed, about which I am ambivalent, due to Tulane's endowment wealth and the author being a "Tulane mom." But some points deserve thought:

Tulane needs a 200,000,000 fema grant

Tulane needs $200,000,000 from FEMA, immediately, or it might well go under. Why could it go under? Because $100,000,000 is about 7,000 times 15,000, which I estimate is the stream of anticipated tuition for this semester, and if Tulane has gotten it from a student already, frankly, Tulane kinda owes it back to his or her family. And if Tulane pays them back, how can it pay its profs, its workers, its hospital staff, its coaches. I am adding 100,000,000 for next semester and hospital revenue such as it is.

Tulane is the largest employer in New Orleans. It is the third largest employer in Louisiana. More than its buildings and its bars, New Orleans is its people. So lets get together and get the FEMA money to the place it needs to go first and foremost — Tulane

--Susan Leboff, T
ulane mom, at 7:36 am EDT on September 3, 2005

Phew: My Moo U responds in fine fashion!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Inside Higher Ed's Katrina Clearinghouse

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Nero Fiddling

On Katrinawatch tonight...Tucker Carlson just said "the footage was so raw we could not show it to you..."

Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Condi shops for fancy shoes and former HS chum Jay McInerney has written a column about his evolving taste for even more expensive and flattering tuxedos, in the September issue of an unknown to me glossy magazine called Departures, sent "with a groan" by my parents.