30 March 2009

And, on the 71st day, the President said...

Chrysler fiat

Let there be Chrysler!

From President Obama's statement on the GM/Chrysler restucturing/bailout:

"...The situation at Chrysler is more challenging. It's with deep reluctance but also a clear-eyed recognition of the facts that we've determined, after careful review, that Chrysler needs a partner to remain viable. Recently, Chrysler reached out and found what could be a potential partner -- the international car company Fiat, where the current management team has executed an impressive turnaround. Fiat is prepared to transfer its cutting-edge technology to Chrysler and, after working closely with my team, has committed to build -- building new fuel-efficient cars and engines right here in the United States. We've also secured an agreement that will ensure that Chrysler repays taxpayers for any new investments that are made before Fiat is allowed to take a majority ownership stake in Chrysler.

Still, such a deal would require an additional investment of taxpayer dollars, and there are a number of hurdles that must be overcome to make it work. I'm committed to doing all I can to see if a deal can be struck in a way that upholds the interests of American taxpayers. And that's why we'll give Chrysler and Fiat 30 days to overcome these hurdles and reach a final agreement -- and we will provide Chrysler with adequate capital to continue operating during that time. If they are able to come to a sound agreement that protects American taxpayers, we will consider lending up to $6 billion to help their plan succeed. But if they and their stakeholders are unable to reach such an agreement, and in the absence of any other viable partnership, we will not be able to justify investing additional tax dollars to keep Chrysler in business."

Now HERE'S an idea...

My wife and daughters keep talking about getting ourselves a Wii -- those game systems that allow you to play tennis, baseball, or the cello; bowl; box; pitch; and/or do long division (okay maybe not that last one) instead of actually going out to do any of those things.

Now, regular readers would think that such a thing would be right up my (bowling) alley. They'd be wrong. Call me old-fashioned, but, if you're going to bowl or play tennis or box, then, unless you live in an assisted living facility, get thee to a bowling alley, a tennis court, or a Gold's Gym. The odds are that the vast majority of Wii-owners do have the mobility to go out and participate in all these activities, so why do them virtually?

Don't worry, I do know why, but I needed a set up for this:

For those of us who,

on the one hand, have neither the intellectual capacity nor the extensive experience that can foster such feelings,

and,

on the other, are quite good at lying around the house,

I suggest a new gaming system that allows for inactivity within a virtual space where one's worldliness just weighs you down.

It's name?

You guessed it:

EN-Wii

28 March 2009

Who could've predicted...?

...the US Women's Figure Skating team's poor performance at the World Championships?

Oh, that's right...please see my 1/25/09 post.

When picking a champion, judge the performance, not the effort/persistence of the athlete.

27 March 2009

Is it just me...

1) ...or does the guy in drag and pretending he's pregnant, with the various kinds of nachos under his shirt in the Taco Bell television advertisement, look just like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow?

2) ...or do contestants on the quiz showJeopardy, when they manage to have a Daily Double opportunity in a fairly limited category (i.e., anything with initials, in quotation marks, or another one of those categories that Jeopardy writers love), always bet too low?
C'mon folks, there aren't that many possible answers, no one can beat you to the buzzer! Bet it all!

3)...or does it seem silly for the NCAA to investigate alleged UConn recruiting violations relating to a student who never played a game at UConn and has already been expelled? As readers of this blog know, I'm no fan of Jim Calhoun or his basketball program, but, if you're going to investigate and perhaps sanction the program, spend your time looking into potential violations concerning players who 1) have played or 2) are still enrolled or actually graduated.

4)...or will absolutely nothing good come of this whole HD transition? We already get way too much break-up on our connected-to-cable non-HD tv, and, just because the interference is in nice little pixilated strips of blocks, it's still bloody interference.

Whose idea was this again?

Educational Play or Pay

There's an appropriately doomed movement afoot in Connecticut to get public schools to repay the state any money it has been sent for each student who drops out before 1 April.

While the desire for reimbursement of its investment is understandable, the target of the repayment request should not be the schools; it should be the student and/or the student's family.

My wife, who is far smarter than I, has always thought that the portion of one's property taxes (or rent) that goes to education should be billed and and have to be paid separately. In this way, everybody, especially the students and their families, would see how much "free" education actually costs. If everyone saw the actual cost to each household, it's a good bet that most families would be far less casual in their approach to school. As it is now, the costs are hidden and easier to ignore. Making the total each household is paying each month (just like heat, gasoline, cable, food, and the rest of one's budget...) more evident, even without an increase of any kind, I'd bet, would yield an invaluable return in increased seriousness on behalf of the student and in the involvement/encouragement/pressure from the student's family:

"Junior, do you know how much today's classes are costing us? You bet you're going to school this morning, tomorrow morning, the morning after that...! If we're paying, you're staying!"

Money talks, but the way the education bill is paid now makes it too easy for students and their families to forget how much they're investing in Junior's education.

And, as a result, it's easy to see dropping out as much less of a waste than it is.

24 March 2009

Make Room for Mao

At lunch today, Min , our Administrative Support Coordinator (such a lousy title for such an invaluable colleague!), was recounting how much she and her husband have changed from their days in China. She recalled her family's first television (in 1968 or so) and how she had assumed everyone in China had such things. She told us that it was only when she saw how her classmates actually lived (very differently from her very nice life with the t.v. and refrigerator, etc) that she realized that she had to leave China.

This, naturally, led to a discussion but not of politics, human rights, or the redistribution of wealth but rather to what the heck they'd be watching on Chinese tv in the late 60s anyway.

I Love Mao

The Mickey Mao(se) Club

Mao 5-0

My Three Maos
The Mao Bunch

Leave it to Mao

I Dream of Mao
That Mao!

and Hogan's Heroes (because everybody loves making fun of the Nazis)

23 March 2009

Kate Smith, start singing "God Bless ESPN!"

It's time for the championship game of the World Baseball Classic between South Korea and Japan, the team that knocked out Team USA in last night's semi-final game.

John Miller, the lead play-by-play man on ESPN, insists on referring to the contest as the "game for Asian domination." (How American of him, no?!)

I believe this is the WORLD Baseball Classic because 14 other teams from around the globe aren't playing anymore since they lost.

This indeed is the World Series.

Lance Armstrong breaks his collarbone during a race in Spain

Would it be inappropriate to suggest to Mr. Armstrong that steroids help faster healing?

The Tour de France, after all, is just a few months away!

22 March 2009

Look for whom I'm the opening act!

From Courant.com

Farmington, CT

Gina Barreca Among Featured Authors At Writers Festival On Campus

Submitted by Kerry Ann Kowar on 2009-03-11.

Gina Barreca is among the eight authors featured in the year's Writers Fest.The 6th Annual Writers Festival will be held on Wednesday, April 8, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the former library at Tunxis Community College.

All events are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Gina Barreca, best-selling author will speak from 7:45-9:00 pm.

Featured authors and event schedule:

8:00-8:30 a.m.: Reception Continental

8:30-8:45 a.m.: Welcoming Remarks

8:45-9:45 a.m.: Gilbert L. Gigliotti is a professor and chairman of the English department at CCSU and author of A Storied Singer: Frank Sinatra as Literary Conceit.

10:15-11:20 a.m.: Denis Horgan is an award-winning, veteran newspaper columnist, blogger and editor who has worked in Boston, Dublin, Bangkok, Washington and, most recently, for The Hartford Courant.

11:50 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Joel Derfner received his bachelor's degree in linguistics from Harvard and an MFA in musical theater writing from the Tisch School of the Arts. Musicals for which he has written the scores have been produced in London, New York, and various cities in between.

1:25-2:30 p.m.: Poetry Slam. All are welcome to share their writings.

3:20-4:30 p.m.: Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick ("Jan Coffey") have written twenty-seven novels and a work of nonfiction. Currently writing as Jan Coffey, these authors have garnered more than thirty awards for their novels. Recent titles include The Puppet Master, The Deadliest Strain, and The Project.

5:10-6:20 p.m.: Frances Gilbert is the pen name of middle-school teacher Gillian Collings. Born in the U.K., Gilbert emigrated to the USA with her husband and family and has published six children's books and and an adult mystery. Titles include: Turtle on a Summer's Day, Celeste and Regine in the Rain Forest, To Know the Sea, and Where Is She Now?

6:40-7:40 p.m.: Linda Garmon is a four-time Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, and director of documentaries with more than 20 years of experience. Her work has appeared on several PBS series as well as on ABC. A recipient of a Vannevar Bush Fellowship, Garmon wrote, produced and directed The Truth About Cancer, a documentary chronicling the lives and stories of cancer patients including her own husband's battle with the disease.

7:45-9:00 p.m.: Gina Barreca, professor of English at the University of Connecticut, is the bestselling author of They Used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted, as well as seven other books including Perfect Husbands and Other Fairy Tales, Babes in Boyland, I'm With Stupid (co-authored with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post) and the forthcoming It's Not that I'm Bitter: How I Stopped Worrying About Visible Pantylines and Conquered the World (to be published in May by St. Martin's Press). She blogs weekly for Psychology Today and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and writes a column for The Hartford Courant.

20 March 2009

An Unpublished Letter to the Hartford Courant from 11/5/08, the day AFTER the election

To the Editor:

With the election of Barack Obama, the citizens of Connecticut and the entire United States have expressed a clear desire for change – a change not only from the policies of the current administration but a break from the past. Here’s hoping real change begins now.

I therefore ask the new larger Democratic majority in the Senate (an increased majority that by all accounts owes its larger numbers to the coattails of the President-elect) to clean up its own backyard by 1) curtailing severely the powers of the Senior Senator from Connecticut as result of his boffo performance as “watchdog” prior to the recent economic crisis, and 2) unseating our Junior Senator of any and all power positions he currently holds for his ridiculously self-serving actions. (How sadly predictable it was to read recently in the Courant that he might warm to an Obama presidency!)

I also ask the Connecticut State Democratic Party to hasten the grooming of two promising candidates to oppose Senators Dodd and Lieberman when each is up for re-election. Upon their replacement in the Senate, any short-term loss of “influence” will be more than compensated by a renewed faith in Connecticut’s senatorial delegation.

As much as we Democrats may wish to do so, the pitiful state of our country’s economy, foreign policy, and international prestige cannot all be laid at the feet of the previous administration. Let’s take an honest look at ourselves first to help affect the true difference that President-elect Obama embodies.

Let real change begin now.

19 March 2009

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted...

After dinner last night, we had fancy chocolates that our out-of-town guests had brought to share. The selections were of all sorts: cappuccino-flavored milk chocolate with rum-soaked figs, etc…, you get the idea.


Among the assorted descriptions were honey and pistachio Grenache, which I immediately thought would be an excellent name for an exotic dancer sister act.


I can hear the introduction now:


And the Palladium is proud to welcome back, after their extended tour of the Far East,

that dynamic duo of ecdysiasts, the first family of dance, the sweetest pair of sweeties:


Honey and Pistachio

The Grenache Sisters!


IF not strippers, then they’re a pair of elderly widowed sisters who, after early success in silent films and full lives as wives, mothers, and antique dealers, now live together in an upstate NY town and solve crimes.


From Serg’ Protector: A Grenache Sisters Mystery


Police Sergeant: But how’d you figure it out?


Stach: We pretty much knew it was him from the beginning. As Hon knows, Marlon, my beloved husband…


Hon: God-rest-his-soul


Stach: God-rest-his-soul, Marlon always said “Never…”


Hon: “NEVER”


Stach: “Never trust a man who’d waste a good cigar.”


Hon: And each time we’d approach Vanya, he’d recount another example of a close call from which he saved Sergei. Then he’d busily light up a new cigarno matter the condition of the one he was smoking.


Stach: Once we knew that, it was just a matter of finding out how he poisoned the inkwell…


Feel free to add your own Honey and Pistachio Grenache ideas!

18 March 2009

The dog that's man's REAL best friend

A recent alumna from our department is doing something I truly envy and shows that one truly can do ANYTHING with a degree in English.

(Now that I know somebody who’s done it, I’m gonna see if I can land a stint after my department chairman gig expires in August 2010.)

Imagine getting to sing everyday (and really really loudly too, I bet):

Oh, I'd love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener
That is what I truly long to be-ee-ee
'Cuz if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
Everyone would be in love with meeeeeeeeeeee!


How great would that be?!

I’d also be willing to pitch Armour Hot Dogs (because I know their jingle, too):

Hot dogs, Armour hot dogs
What kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks
tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox
love hot dogs
Armour hot dogs
The dogs kids love to biiiiiiiite!

Engelbert Humperdinck as The Spirit of the Rock?

Another fine Central Authors talk today.

Emily Chasse, a reference librarian at Elihu Burritt Library at CCSU, has written a new book on storytelling, Telling Tales, forthcoming from Neal-Schuman Publishing, with an accompanying dvd.

At the start of her presentation, she treated us with a story about the Spirit of the Rock's wanting to be free of his hard life so he could experience what he imagined would be a better existence. He, of course, never finds anything that suits him better than his rock, but throughout he cries "Release me! Let me go!"

At the end, I couldn't help mention to her what I thought was almost too obvious to mention: that the Spirit of the Rock sounded exactly like ol' Engelbert, but I was greeted by a whole bunch of blank faces.

No one had thought of the song but me, and I couldn't think of anything but!

Oh, if only the spirits of pop songs past would just "release me, and let me love again!"

15 March 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...

I LOVE ancient humor.

When I taught at The Covington Latin School in the early to mid-80s, at the annual "Greek Day" celebrations, I played stand-up comedian Henny Neanias (ancient Greek for "young man') and told such scholasticos jokes as the ones mentioned by Mary Beard!

Death is easy; comedy's hard!

Of Mice and Mannix

I'm not sure when public libraries became the purveyors of late-60s/early-70s detective shows, but yesterday I picked up a few discs from the first season (1967) of a childhood favorite CBS showMannix, starring Mike Connors. The two episodes we watched were full of driving cars (Mannix tends to pursue other cars not necessarily chase them), people getting beaten up, and good-looking women (in that late-60s/early-70s way), with the smart, tough, and not-too-cynical private detective Joe Mannix solving the crimes before the credits roll.

This was a bit before I was a regular viewer because Mannix was working for a big agency, and Peggy Fair, his secretary played by Gail Fisher (hubba hubba), wasn't yet in the cast. FYI: In 1970, for her Mannix role, she became the first African American woman to win an acting Emmy.

It is always interesting to watch to see how mores have changed (beside the most obvious ones as when Joe lets his female colleague out of his car when he has to pursue some drug smugglers. Compare Astrophysicist Carla Gugino's simply refusing to get out of Dwayne Johnson's car as he heads off to bring the cute alien kids to a secret governmental hideout in Race to Witch Mountain, just released this weekend). While, as a father of girls, I'm pleased to see the portrayal of that strength, it's still annoying that we even have to waste a brief scene to somehow reaffirm its existence.

PLOT SPOILER ALERT

But other things would be different now too.

In the drug smuggling episode, for example, a young Lynda Day, before her Mission Impossible gig (hubba hubba), hires Mannix to figure out why her father keeps checking into a Mexican health spa/alcoholism clinic when he doesn't have a drinking problem. There are hints throughout the show that the special health drinks may be changing behaviors, etc...but, no, the daughter is shocked to learn from Mannix that her father is a drug dealer!

In the heated final scene, Linda, of course, who somehow ends up with a gun in her hand, is in disbelief until her father finally confesses. I'm fairly certain that, today, she just might have blasted him with a few rounds for letting her down, but, in 1967/8, dad is indeed glad he has been caught so that his daughter, who means more to him than anything, can now depend less upon him and grow more independent.

My nine-year-old, who's currently playing a rat in the Newington Children's Theatre's touring production of Sleeping Beauty (after playing a mouse in Cinderella last year), said she'd "clunk" me on the head if she learned I was a drug smuggler.

Gosh, I miss the old days!

14 March 2009

I Love Jack...

Yesterday morning, on my drive into work, I saw a license plate holder:
"I HEART Jack Russell Terriers"

As regular readers know, I do not "heart" any pets, and here are a few other popular Jacks I don't much care about:

Jack Nicholson (except for his turn as Eugene O'Neill in Reds)
Jack Bauer (I didn't like him in A Few Good Men either!)
Jack Sparrow (THREE movies?! I couldn't stay awake through one!)
Jackie Mason (I'm sorry, what did you just mutter?)
Jack Kerouac (yeah, yeah, yeah, the "Beats," I get it)

Here are the Jacks I do "heart":

Jack McCoy
Jack Daniels (but only in theory)
"Jack and Diane" (hey, it's "just a little ditty")
Jackie Gleason (and "AWAY WE GO!")
Cracker Jacks (and NOT just for the prizes)
Jackdaws, the history packets we used in Mr. Backer's history classes at The Covington Latin School in the mid-'70s. I lost everything in our recreation of the '29 stock market crash (and doing little better in our real life recreation now), but, I'm sad to admit, I was quite successful as a ship captain in the slave trade unit.

and my all time favorite "Jack":

Jack and Bobby (the all-too-soon-canceled television show, starring Christine Lahti as a college professor who has two sons, one of whom grows up to be president)

11 March 2009

Raise your hand if you didn't see this coming?

From the NY TIMES this evening:

[Sarah]Palin’s Daughter Bristol Splits From FiancĂ©

In mourning, ESPN will fly all its banners at half mast.

10 March 2009

From Today's NY Times

"At Radio City, a Showdown Between Maher and Coulter"

Any chance we can put them in the same room, lock the door, and not let either of them out ever again?

Ah, a good immurement.

Wouldn't it be wonderful?

09 March 2009

A List of "Top 10" Pink Things that doesn't include...

The Hostess Snowball? How absurd!

Let's not forget:

the great XTC song, "Pink Thing," from Oranges and Lemons (1989)

those cookies in the shape of leaves that also come in green

the sea creature on Jimmy Buffett's 1973 album A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean

and, of course,

the Palm Beach jacket I wore to my sister's wedding in 1986 (Sweet!)

How many cents abroad?

In today's New Britain Herald there's an article on a proposed Mark Twain coin that would be minted in gold ($5) and silver ($1) in 2013.

My suggestions for the reverse side of the coin, since I assume its face will be HIS face:

Tom Sawyer
Huck Finn
A raft
A steamboat
A solar eclipse
A jumpin' frog
A picket fence (preferably half-painted)
A bunch of book banners

06 March 2009

Adam Golaski's Worse Than Myself

On Wednesday (3/4), we had our third Central Authors taping of the semester, with author Adam Golaski, a "once and future" part-timer in the CCSU English Department, reading from his 2008 horror collection, Worse Than Myself, from Raw Dog Screaming Press.

I'm not a fan of the horror genre, but Adam's stories are intriguingly different because the horror is never the result the same old things. Nor do they end in clever rationalizations of strange occurrences.

The stories are old-fashioned scary, but Adam's focus is always less on explaining away the horror as much as creating a world in which the horrors exist. They are vividly drawn, atmospheric in effect, and wonderful reads.

But don't read it to your kids!

You Don't Get Cabin Fever If You Prefer the Indoors

I've been amazed at the number of people, just in the past week or two, who've said they're "done with this winter," that they "can't wait for this winter to be over," that "it's March, what's with the snow?"

My reply is always, "Its New England; it's supposed to be this way, isn't it?" I'm from SW Ohio, remember.

I always think Liam Neeson in 1993's film adaptation of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome. Isn't THAT archetypal New England?

I'm amazed at these complaints because I'm realizing that I've not suffered from cabin fever in the least. I haven't gone out less frequently this year than in winters past, and , when I have gone out, while it's been pretty cold, it's, for me, just another good reason to spend time indoors -- by gum, that's why humans build shelter, isn't it? (See my 2/19 Chimp Incident post).

When Spring finally rolls around, I'll go out...at least once the ground dries up.

I don't want to muddy my shoes!

05 March 2009

The Monkees' Peter Tork has cancer

Listen to Peter!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjfAC3yYSHc

For more details on his condition, check out the Hartford Courant.

Get well soon, Peter!

Favorite Monkees lyric:

And now I know just why she
keeps me hanging round (hangin' round):
she needs someone to walk on
so her feet don't touch the ground (don't touch the ground)
But I love her (love her)
need her (need her)
want her (want her)
yeah (yeah)
yeah (yeah)

SHE!

The kind of song to which any 8-year-old lad can relate, no?

A Little Piece of Me is Missing

So, yesterday, former First Lady Barbara Bush had her aortic valve replaced. She is reportedly feeling fine.

Good for her, and a swift recovery to you, Mrs. Bush.

I've been there, done that.

On Friday, September 7, 2001, I had my aortic valve operation at Hartford Hospital. From what I understand (I was asleep at the time, remember!), it wasn't as easy as Mrs Bush's operation because my valve and the pieces on either end weren't in such good shape, so trying to attach the new human valve (I was too young, I was told, to use a porcine or an artificial one) was problematic, but I came out alright and am doing fine still.

That's not the story, however.

Flash forward to the following Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It's morning, and I am resting comfortably in the Cardiac Step-down Unit of the hospital. On my little t.v. I'm watching, quite by chance, High Society (Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelley, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong), when a nurse comes in and says,

"Why you watching this? Don't you know what's happening?"

She then switches the channel to NBC, and Today with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer.

A plane had just hit one of the Twin Towers, but no one had a clue what was going on.

In hindsight, one can legitimately criticize a nurse in a cardiac unit for making a patient watch tragic events unfold live before his very eyes, but that's not what I was thinking.

In the moment, I was just really peeved that this nurse turned off High Society (!?!) and was forcing me -- even for a short time -- to suffer Katie-and-Matt's conjectures on what might have happened/be happening. Could there be a greater waste of time than that? I think not. (And I LIKE Katie Couric!)

As soon as she left the room, back to High Society I went.

During the weeks of recovery time at home, I avoided 9/11 coverage as much as possible (i.e., I didn't watch television, listen to the radio, or read the newspapers hardly at all. Even Tony Kornheiser on ESPN radio was 9/11 far more often than not).

As a result of my self-imposed sequestration, I missed a defining moment of American history and contemporary culture. Even on my return to campus, having missed the communal experience of 9/11, I was a little out-of-step, and, to this day, remain fairly distant from its impact.

I probably should be more uncomfortable with that distance than I am, but, if I had to do it all over again, I'm not sure that I'd do it any differently.

That may be prudent or simply selfish; I'm still not sure.

But, remember, folks, you can be inspired to all sorts of action and accomplishment by a good teacher and a great book...

From today's Chronicle of Higher Education


Social Change Tops Classic Books in Professors' Teaching Priorities

By ROBIN WILSON

A new national survey of faculty members shows that the proportion of professors who believe it is very important to teach undergraduates to become "agents of social change" is substantially larger than the proportion who believe it is important to teach students the classic works of Western civilization.


According to the survey, 57.8 percent of professors believe it is important to encourage undergraduates to become agents of social change, whereas only 34.7 percent said teaching them the classics is very important. Observers say the difference results from influences as diverse as conservative criticisms of curriculum and Barack Obama's call for social activism during his presidential campaign.


The survey found that, on the issue of classics and change, professors' opinions also vary by rank. Full professors are more likely than assistant professors to say teaching the classics is important, and assistant professors are more likely than full professors to say encouraging undergraduates to become socially involved is important.


A report on the survey, "The American College Teacher," was released Thursday by the University of California at Los Angeles's Higher Education Research Institute. The institute questioned 22,562 professors across many disciplines at 372 colleges and universities in the 2007-8 academic year about their goals for classroom instruction, and asked them how they spent their time and how satisfied they were with their jobs. The institute completes the survey every three years (The Chronicle, September 16, 2005).


Sylvia Hurtado, a professor of education at UCLA who directs the research institute, said the gap between those who value teaching Western civilization and those who value teaching students to be social activists reflects a shift in emphasis from the abstract to the practical. "The notion of a liberal education as a set of essential intellectual skills is in transition," she says. "It's also about social and personal responsibility, thinking about one's role in society, and creating change."


Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, says he believes faculty members should teach the classics. "I teach American literature all the time, that's what I do," says Mr. Nelson, who is a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


But he says that to many professors, teaching the classics has become part of a "conservative agenda" that they don't want to be part of. Conservative critics of academe, he says, "have poisoned the well for these subjects because they've gotten politicized and become symbols of a reaction against the progressive academy."


But Peter W. Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, attributes the gap between Western civilization and social change in part to the influence of Barack Obama's campaign. He suspects that many professors have long believed that teaching students to be agents of change is more important than teaching them to value the classics. Few, however, have openly acknowledged that, he says. "There used to be something a bit shameful for a faculty member to take such an anti-intellectual position," he says.

But the 2008 presidential campaign, he says, changed that, giving "a sense of legitimacy to the idea that political action could and should trump traditional forms of intellectual inquiry."


The survey found other evidence that professors are increasingly interested in helping students develop morals and in helping them get a well-rounded education and form a commitment to their communities. In particular, 72.8 percent of professors think it is important to instill in students an appreciation for the liberal arts—nearly 15 percentage points more than said so three years ago. About 56 percent say it is important to instill an appreciation for community service—a nearly 20 percentage-point increase—and 71.8 percent say it is important to enhance students' "self understanding." About 70 percent say it is important to help students develop "moral character," 13 percentage points more than said so three years earlier.


The report says the shift may reflect the fact that faculty members are more aware of their role in helping students with "psychosocial" development in the wake of the murders at Virginia Tech and on other campuses.


"Faculty are just more attuned to looking at the whole student than they might have been before these incidents on campus," says Linda DeAngelo, assistant director for research at the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, which is part of the institute and which administered the survey.


The survey of professors also found that:

Female professors are more likely than male professors to say they spend 13 or more hours a week preparing for class, while men are more likely than women to say they spend 13 or more hours a week doing research and scholarly writing.

Younger professors are more supportive than full professors of offering remedial education for college students, and women are more supportive of it than are men.

Male professors are more likely than female professors to include students in their research projects.

Only one-third of all professors believe they have a healthy balance between their personal and professional lives.


A summary of the report is available on the institute’s Web site

04 March 2009

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

At the top right hand corner of this blog are ads generated by "AdSense for Content" which, according to Google, "displays ads that are targeted to [this] site's content or audience." (I've made approximately 45 cents, to date, thank you!)

I've had ads for cigars, for UConn, for a history of Armenian atrocities, for "Local Nanny Listings" -- all of which have (in)direct ties to a post somewhere on the blog.

A recent one that puzzles me is for www.mydailymoment.com:

Is your Husband Gay?
Test your Husband with this Quiz & See if He is Gay or Not.

Some questions arise (since I really don't want to go to www.mydailymoment.com):

Is this a multiple choice, a matching, or an essay test?

Does this have anything to do with my prison coach posting?

and, most importantly perhaps,

Should my lovely wife be concerned at all?

But, remember, Frank Sinatra's recording career pre-dated theirs by 20 years and outlasted theirs by another 20!

From Inside Higher Ed (3/4/09)


Master's Degree in Beatles Studies


Liverpool Hope University has announced a new master's degree program: The Beatles, Popular Music and Society. The university believes that the program is the first Beatles studies master's program in the world. A statement from Mike Brocken, senior lecturer in popular music, said that 'there have been over 8,000 books about the Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address." He added that the program marks "a seminal advance in popular music studies" because "for the first time in the UK and possibly the world, a postgraduate taught course is offered to research into the Beatles, the city from which they emerged, the contexts of the 1960s, technology, sound and songwriting and the industries that have set up in their wake to capitalize on tourism in the city of Liverpool." University officials said that they expect significant interest from American students.