Thursday, January 03, 2013

Friday Fragments

See you in the exhibit hall theater at MLA 13 Friday at 1:30!  IHE bloggers Mary Churchill, Nate Kreuter, and I will be on the “Career Advice” panel.  I’ll offer tips for job candidates who are considering community colleges.  Any readers in the Boston area are welcome to stop by and say hi.


Sometimes Santa hits it out of the park.

The Girl got a tent that she can put on her bed.  She immediately set up a shelf of books along one side, brought in a battery-powered lantern, and started reading.  Since Christmas, she has kept the tent up on her bed, and she has read in it every night.  I’ve even managed to squeeze in there a couple of times to read with her.  I don’t know what it is about reading and forts, but it still works.  Well played, Santa.


Mom’s surgery went well, which was a huge relief.   My brother and I were able to tag-team staying with her, so she always had help.  In the waiting room, I got to catch up on my daytime television, which strengthened my conviction that daytime television is some sort of punishment.  Did you know Kathie Lee is still on the air?  Amazing.


Score one for Texas.  Apparently, it’s going to provide a financial literacy class for high school students to prepare them for the college decision.  The devil is in the details, of course, but the idea makes a heap of sense.  

In my perfect world, we’d have some sort of “life economics” class in college that would teach students about amortization, and insurance, and co-pays, and compound interest, and all that good stuff.  Personal finance could make a good hook for a sociology class, say, or as part of a course on civic engagement.  The idea would be that someone who is constantly in thrall to immediate material necessity isn’t capable of taking the long view and engaging well with the larger society.  Therefore, it’s important to equip students with the knowledge to get necessity under enough control that they can have some sort of agency.  As Hegel put it, freedom is the insight into necessity; what better place to develop insight than college?

Even if this isn’t quite at that level, though, it’s a good concept.  Here’s hoping it works...


Probably as a result of her voracious reading, TG has discovered that you can make anything sound foreboding or mysterious by appending “or is it?” (or some close variation) at the end of almost any declarative sentence.

“Dave opened the package.  Or did he?”

Now she’s doing it at dinner.  “I passed the ketchup.  Or did I?”  She can even raise her eyebrows with a theatrical flourish.

Future teachers of TG, you’re welcome.


After his tirade this week, I officially take back every critical thing I’ve ever said about Chris Christie.  He won me over with his correct observation that when natural disasters have struck other parts of the country, Congress was quick with help.  But when the Northeast got hit, suddenly everything stopped.  It has been over nine weeks since Sandy hit, and still Congress hasn’t bothered even trying to pass aid.  

The Republicans have become an increasingly regional party, dominant in parts of the South and mountain states, but almost entirely absent in the Northeast and on the West coast.  Sometimes their regional prejudice comes out -- as in Sarah Palin’s famous quip about being in a “pro-America part of the country,” or in Mitt Romney’s claim of Michigan as his home state, even after spending four years as governor of Massachusetts -- but it’s usually just rhetorical.  Now it’s doing active harm.  

Red states get help, and blue states drown?  No.  Not okay.  The Northeast paid its share when Katrina struck, and when Ike struck, and did so without hesitation; it’s time to reciprocate.  


According to IHE’s in/out list, I’m both “out” and “in.”  I’m Schrodinger’s Matt!