Thursday, January 31, 2013


Friday Fragments, Chock Full of Linky Goodness

- The Boy continues to careen into tweenhood.  On Wednesday morning I dropped him off early at school for jazz band.  As we approached the front entrance, a girl started to cross, and I stopped to let her pass.  He got oddly quiet.  Later that night, he told me that she’s his crush, and that he was silently praying that she didn’t see him in the car.

Reader, I embarrassed him.

And so it begins.

- Walter Russell Mead can be maddening sometimes, but I read this piece a week ago and haven’t been able to shake it.  It’s basically Ortega y Gasset’s Revolt of the Masses turned upside-down.  If the history of elite support for public higher education was based on a semi-fatalistic sense that the masses were rising economically -- and therefore politically -- anyway, so it would be prudent to civilize them, then what happens when the masses seem to be sinking economically and politically?  

- My kingdom for a printer that consistently works.  They seem weirdly prone to random malfunctions to a much greater degree than just about any other electronics.  And they seem immune to progress.  

- My current obsession is the Accelerated Learning Program at the Community College of Baltimore County.  (Check it out here.)  It’s a variation on just-in-time developmental English. Wise and worldly readers -- have any of you taught this way?  I’d love to get a first-person perspective on it.

- “What Writers Can Learn from Comedians.”  I love love love this post.  And not only because it name-checks Bob Newhart.  

- Super Bowl Sunday looms, with its usual conflicts.  I don’t watch football as much as I once did, partly due to life changes and partly due to increased awareness of what it does to players.  Also, the Bills haven’t been watchable since the Clinton administration..  

The Super Bowl is usually fun to watch, since it combines spectacle, sport, and great commercials.  (Last year we all loved the Darth Vader kid who started the car with The Force.)  But the whole “bro” culture that it celebrates is not how we live our lives.  I want TB and TG to know that that culture exists, and to be conversant enough in/with it that they can navigate the world around them as it is.  But there’s a difference between acknowledging a presence and endorsing it.  

- Signs of hope...

- She got more than the usual amount of crap for it, but Lee Skallerup Bessette’s column from Wednesday, about hoping that her brilliant young daughter avoids academia, struck a chord.   

Read it generously.  This is the thoughtful reflection of an aware parent.  It’s vulnerable, but that’s what parents are.

It wasn't you ... it was your CAR!
Re: printers, my dept. has had good luck over the last several years with a department copier / fax / scanner / printer (toner based, not ink). It looks like the office copier of yore, but it's connected to the network and can do these other functions too. Scans go to email as pdf or tiff files.

I've been using it more since my 10-year-old laserjet has been jamming sometimes on double siding. I suppose I should remember that I just typed "10 year old" as I bemoan the printer jamming.

This is true, despite the "liefule" (sic) captcha.
My department recently had a printer die that had been running great since 1997.
Thanks for mentioning the Lee Skallerup Bessette post. It presents one of the most compelling arguments for the state of higer ed: "I'm not sure I'd let my kid get into it.". It definitely shows how an academic career looks when the rubber hits the road, instead of the whole "living the life of the mind is so fulfilling" fantasies.

My only additional comment on this is that is to remember the world might look very different in 15-20 years. And that kids can be much smarter than you realize.
Your son is still talking to you about his crushes. That is still a big thing!

I teach science at a CC, and I don't even want to encourage my very good science students to go to grad school to pursue a doctorate. Sure, there are jobs outside of academia for scientists, but many of them can be had for far less than the cost (not just financial) of a Ph.D. As far as my kids, I would have no qualms in telling them about how grad school (again, for a Ph.D.) just isn't worth it.

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