Thursday, October 31, 2013

Friday Fragments

What the hell is going on in Pennsylvania?  This week brought news of a fourth state university campus making drastic personnel cuts, including tenured faculty and multiple degree programs.  (Clarion, Edinboro, Mansfield, and East Stroudsburg, and, presumably, counting.) If this is what “economic recovery” looks like, can you imagine what the next down cycle will bring?  

That isn’t unique to Pennsylvania, of course.  (It also isn’t unique to higher education: the Philadelphia K-12 district has taken quite a beating lately.)  Michigan and Ohio have battered their public higher ed sector pretty hard, too.  California remains in a league of its own, but still.

Changes of that magnitude are scary in themselves, but they’re made much scarier by the sense that they aren’t part of a transition plan.  It’s one thing to endure a painful shift from an older thing to a newer one; it’s quite another to just give up the older one.  

Academics as a group don’t like to use terms like this, but it’s increasingly clear that we need to look hard at the underlying business model.  


The Girl dressed as Yoda for Halloween, which I thought was an inspired choice.  She’s the perfect height for it, and the long, curly hair poking out from behind the mask gave Yoda a badly needed bit of flair.  The Boy dressed as an FBI agent, complete with dark suit, shades, and earpiece.  He looked like a younger, thinner version of Tommy Lee Jones from “Men in Black.”  

On campus, the most popular student costumes this year were characters from “Adventure Time,” especially Fiona.  There’s probably a great sociological work waiting to be written about what any given year’s popular costume reveals about changing cultural obsessions...


On the subject of Halloween, why does anybody give out Sugar Daddies?  I’ve never seen anybody buy a Sugar Daddy for himself.  They’re dreary, nobody likes them, and they’re impossible to chew.  And yet, every single Halloween, they show up reliably, along with Smarties and Sweet Tarts.

This will not do.  Think “Reese’s,” people.  Or Snickers.  Even Hershey, for heaven’s sake.  But Sugar Daddies?  Necco wafers?  Puh-leeze.

And don’t even talk to me about raisins.  I have nothing against them generally, but as Halloween treats, they’re just wrong.  


The Red Sox’ victory was especially sweet this year.  This was the year that the family visited Fenway for the first time.  We picked a great day for it; the Sox defeated the Padres on a walk-off pinch-hit home run by Jonny Gomes.  Having actually visited Fenway, it was easier to identify with the team.  I have a long history of loathing the Yankees, so rooting for the Sox came easily.  The Boy is a huge Jon Lester fan, for reasons of his own.  And coming in the year of the Marathon bombing, it was great to see Boston experience collective joy.  I saw a lot of very tired-looking faces on campus on Thursday, though.