Thursday, August 24, 2006

In the Dawg House

Margaret Soltan, aka University Diarist, names the University of Georgia the worst university in the nation.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Soggy Start

Classes started yesterday at this MooU, and I taught my undergrad class. Tiles from the ceiling had fallen in the front of the room two periods before, and water irrigated where I pace and spout. Ah, another academic year!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Google Earth and Stat Counter

Stat Counter now has a groovy function where you can see where your hits are coming from on a map, powered by Google Earth. I just drilled down in Serbia and saw the roof of the house of the person who was using Mac OS to read my David Lodge post! A couple of hits came from the Green Zone in Baghdad, and you can even see the craters and smoke!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dishwatery Utterances

"The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."

-From an article in the Chicago Times, on Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, the day after he delivered the 272 word oration. Source: Wikipedia article on the Gettysburg Address.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The smartest man I know...

This is how Jon Bon Jovi, on CNN's Larry King show last night, characterized his friend Al Gore. Bon Jovi has campaigned for Gore, Kerry, and Edwards. A delightful interview, wide-ranging, a very appealing person who is thoughtful and plainspoken.

Aside: on bandmember Richie Sambora's marital problems, JBJ said that Richie is having a tough year, but that Denise Richards seems like a very nice person. Hahahahaha.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Anna Deavere Smith...Uncovered

I have been sorting, sifting, and pruning email, documents, Outlook notes, tasks, and such. I came across this note I recorded after seeing Anna Deavere Smith talk and perform at Purdue in February 2004.

She said there were three significant questions one should ask oneself:
1 When have you come close to death?
2 Have you ever been accused of something you didn't do?
3 What were the circumstances of your birth?

So, in the interest of full disclosure and eyes wide open:

1 Yes, when I was working as a construction grunt in the summer of 1974, in Macon GA, hauling up plywood and such to a high rise building. I climbed out on some high steel 6 or so floors up and almost pitched over. I relive that instant every once in a while, groin aching all the while in remembering. I also fell on some exposed rebar that summer while grunting along on a cigarette factory construction site. That hurt!

2 I have, but who has not? There were certainly times growing up when this happened. When I was associate dean and interim department head at my present university, I am sure things were said about what I did. I am not sure this question is all that illuminating. Maybe ADS had something more elemental and less mundane in mind...

3 Well, the circumstances of my birth were not that spectacular. About the same time Lucy gave birth to Little Ricky on that new medium, TV, and all America watched. Now, that was spectacular!

ADS also said something like "...being "cool" and uncommitted does not serve democracy." I will drink to that one!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Writing Less is More

A colleague of mine told me over lunch that he had attended a faculty meeting a few years ago in which the assistant department head had proposed that articles for tenure, promotion, and merit be of a certain quality and a certain length. My colleague stood up and registered a protest, stating that faculty have a moral obligation to write as little as necessary. In other words, don't spend 10 pages when 5 will do. His comment was met with silence and arched eyebrows.

I am not sure of the moral obligation, will have to think about that more. But I do think that using length as a criterion for quality is wrongheaded. This same friend told me, apropos of this incident, that he wrote short books, and rued that he probably would have had more acclaim if his books had been longer.

Give me a short volume any day. When I read Don Quixote for the first time while on sabbatical several years ago, I marveled at how repetitive it was. I cried out, Miguel, where was your copy editor? But I have been told by our resident Cervantes scholar that the tale of the Knight of the Rueful Figure was not edited as books are today.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Everybody's got a huh, huh, huungry blog

As a blogger, a former administrator, and an enthusiastic observer of the follies of higher education (the title of this blog takes after a fave novel about ye olde land grants), I do appreciate the "blog that ate the presidency" item that started on Inside Higher Ed and has been commented upon. I still believe that virtually all administrative problems stem from communication breakdowns (hum that Led Zep tune...).

The Alfred State president seems clueless to me,...she didn't seem to know what a blog was, and then tried to shut it down, threatening anyone who participated in criticism. I am astonished that she didn't seek more constructive means to deal with the issues. Obviously she was out of her element as a university president, IMHO.

Thanks to Nick Burbules for suggesting I look further into this...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Brain Mush

OK, my brain is mush. I can't do much more than half listen to this Baroque station I have pulled up on Itunes on my laptop. I can't blame the heat, as I have sat in my AC'ed house all day...maybe that is it. Still getting over the ordeal that was a visit to the UK in its own meltdown weather.

I spent the day polishing another AERA proposal, due today, and yesterday on the other one. That is why my brain is mush. Writing is hard work, getting the words just right. I have a tendency to be elliptical, when I need to be more explicit.

But there has been good stuff to read and to think about, but I guess I don't have it in me now to blog about...More on odd hero for our times, but perhaps not! A review, and then a Diane Rehm interview, with Debby Applegate, the author of a new book on Henry Ward Beecher, "the most famous man in America." Fascinating. Still, all my brain can absorb is some faint harpsichord music from one of Itunes stations...