Friday, June 22, 2007

Nietzsche Family Circus

Interesting glomming together of two ideas. Those who have seen this comic strip will know that the little tykes literally comprehend common expressions, uttering their understandings with wide-eyed innocence. Now, they mouth aphorisms of the tortured genius.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bring me your nachos, your chips, your cups o' microwavable soup...

Here is an item, sent by a former colleague who is now at another of our nation's MOO Universities, followed by my colleague's comment in italics.

Such memos and committees, of course, are not found only at ye olde land-grants. Yet I have a raft of emails about parking garage cleaning schedules, street closures, power outages, and so on that I receive almost daily. We professors do not spend ALL our time breathing the rarified air of metaphysics. We do the following:

*Final open forum on vending needs is Tuesday*

The final open forum to discuss the future needs of snack vending and beverage vending on campus will be at noon Tuesday, June 19, in the second floor lobby opposite the information desk in X Center.
Comments and questions can be directed to Y.

Seriously? An open forum on future vending needs at the university? And the final one at that, meaning there have been OTHERS? I bet Y hates his/her job. I'm tempted to send my comments: Dear Y, I am glad to see that LAND GRANT is FINALLY taking action to understand the diverse vending needs at this fine institution. It is a long time coming, let me tell you, but something is better than nothing, that's what I always say.

There is something my colleagues and I have been debating for quite some time now. To wit: how would you characterize the current philosophy of the LAND GRANT vending group? I mean, there are some folks who advocate a strict traditionalist perspective: chips (nacho, potato, and maybe Cool Ranch if feeling a bit edgy), Baby Ruth, and the occasional skinny bag of peanuts. Then there are the trend-setters: Banana Twinkies, Salt 'n' Vinegar Chips, and even Cup o' Soup (SOUP in a vending machine??!!). I'm not sure there's a place for the trendinista vending crowd at this fine institution, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject. Respectfully submitted, Professor Z, BA, MA, PhD

PS - Don't EVEN get me started on all those faddish beverages. I mean, berry-flavored this and electric-blue that. And water??? Who buys water when you can get it for free from a good, old-fashioned, bacteria-laden fountain?

A Tale of Two Presidential Searches

Purdue: Here is how my university did its presidential search. The BoT hired a search firm and a well known presidential searcher on that firm, Bill Funk. The search was secret until the last minute. Nobody knew for sure who the choice would be or even who the candidates were. What appears to be a wonderful new president is what we got, Chancellor France Córdova of UC Riverside, set to start in August.

Iowa: Here is how the University of Iowa is doing its search. All four finalists' vitae are on the web, candidate forums were public, then broadcast on UI TV, and finally archived on the web (I watched the one for our provost on my laptop at home).

Which is better? I would opt for openness. The arguments trotted out for why Purdue was secret, that public knowledge of the finalists would cause some to withdraw from the search, does not seem to be the effect at Iowa, though I understand one candidate did withdraw.

I do support confidentiality of a presidential search, but ONLY up to the point of campus interviews and visits by finalists. Then what Iowa did should be the norm.

As a faculty member, I don't feel like I was part of the process, and indeed, I wasn't, but that is the point. Our BoT telegraphed that idea by deciding in private, and unless I am mistaken, the search advisory committee, on which faculty sat, did not know who would be chosen either.

I am glad that the BoT did what appears to be a fine job. We shall have to see, of course!

Surprise! A non-posting on Richard Rorty

There has been a veritable Niagara of postings on the blogosphere about the passing of Richard Rorty. I tapped out a memory of meeting him while in grad school as a comment on Crooked Timber, as well as a posting on this blog immediately preceding this, so I too have added to the verbiage.
Some of the tributes are quite good. I particularly liked Habermas's understated and touching brief essay on the site Sign and Sight (cool play on words there).
Still, I don't recall nearly as many words offered for the passing of Derrida and certainly not for Gadamer (who, after all, was 102 when he died). I remember when Heidegger died in the mid 1970s, and of course that was pre Internet, but not as much ink was spilled.
What gives? Perhaps it is the suddenness of his death for some, though it was known by many though not me that he and Derrida shared the insidious disease of pancreatic cancer. Or is it that he was an anti-philosopher, who spoke across and in between disciplines, and did so with modesty and grace? I know that he annoyed many people, both the analytic philosophers he left behind as well as the neopragmatists of which he became the best known. RIP.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

" one owns the truth and all have a right to be understood" - Rorty and Education in Our Times

Bill Doll, LSU professor, friend, and board member of the journal I edit, sends this on about Richard Rorty, who died last week:

"It is hard to think of a current American philosopher who has had more effect on my thinking than Richard Rorty. His quote (from Milan Kundera) that "there exists a fascinating imaginative realm, born of the echo of God's laughter, where no one owns the truth and all have a right to be understood," stands as an ideal for all I do and strive to do."

"Obviously Kundera is talking of the novel and Rorty of social/political situations. I expropriate it for my vision of what education can, when well done, lead us toward."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Aletha Hall's MySpace Page

Here is a cached version of the MySpace page of Aletha Hall, wife of Edwin Hall, the accused killer of teen Kelsey Smith. Scroll down to the friends, and the first is Edwin, aka Jack. Jack had problems ever since he was adopted at a young age, but these demons had been concealed from many, including neighbors, though his own MySpace page is dark and ominous (he liked the film A Clockwork Orange and said he was troubled). Aletha's friend Betty posted this on April 13: "You've known Jack longer than you've known your own brother?! Guess you 2 were meant to be together LOL Love ya!"

RIP Kelsey Smith, said by her father to be "scrubbed with sunshine."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

James Peterson, Bucknell Professor: Great Job

James Peterson, a Bucknell English professor, fared well in taking criticism from Geraldo, Sean Hannity, and even Alan Colmes, just now on "Hannity and Colmes" on Fox. I couldn't find a webpage for him, but he was described as a "hip hop scholar" on the tube, and the listing on the Bucknell page says that and a bit more, including that he is a Penn PhD.

The topic was Danny Glover's relationships with Hugo Chavez and John Edwards, but Peterson's well-reasoned and dispassionate points were hard to hear over the blather and chatter of the talking heads.