Monday, January 30, 2006

    State of the English

    State of the English Department

    It should be said that my degree is in English.  I like to specify that I am more inclined toward American Literature, but the degree itself just says English.  I find myself needed to embellish…to peddle and sell it.  The degree itself has no cache, no obvious use of function.

    I refer you to a blog article by Jonathan Kramnick called Varieties of Academic Reception.  He argues that since Said, everything has been said.  OK, bad pun.  His main argument, though, outlines that over-arching discipline movements are probably a thing of the past, given the democratic and fragmented nature of the modern university's liberal arts department.  

    To his argument, I will add: the marginalization of English studies (read: literature and written arts) as a valid concern for universities (much less the world at large) will only grow until they find a way to become relevant once more.  Nobody cares (and I say this with significant sadness) about literature because there is not application…there is no payoff.  It doesn't even allow for the level of escape movies, the net and other media offer.  Until English answers the "why should I bother" of the modern student, they will continue to be tweebs in tweed, ripe for mocking in whatever campus comedy that plays at the local mega-plex.

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    We have met the enemy

    We have met the enemy…

    One of the lower level of Hell is becoming what you hate.  

    I have wondered for a while about the nature of the insurgent enemy.  Who are these people that can chop off a head for their cause?  What sort of men/animals are they?  I cringed as I watched the net-replay of the contractor being beheaded (my god, I can't even remember his name…more on that later), and wonder about the utter lack of humanity.  

    I hear about the contractors being killed and burned and their bodies hung from a trellis bridge…and I wonder how can people do that to one another.

    Then Abu Graib…and the occasional AP story which recounts the allegation that Coalition Forces have used wives as bait to pull in suspected insurgents.  

    Jill Carroll was abducted by a new brand of insurgents, gaining support from even hardliners.  Why would this new band of guys want her?  I guess that stealing a woman from the other side was not an original trick…

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    Why Kerry Lost the E

    Why Kerry Lost the Election: reason UnReason

    I subscribe to Salon, so for those who don't I may occasionally lift an article or idea and pass it along.  I don't think that blogs should rehash every one else's blogs (if you are reading mine, you are probably reading much of what I read as well—birds of a feather sort of thing).  Yet, here goes.

    The "War Room" in Salon has a story citing a study that looked at the MRI scans of politically minded folks being confronted with a logical argument for or against their preferred candidate (Bush ran an effective campaign of literacy in Texas; Kerry did vote for the War in Iraq…the sort of thing true believers don't want to hear).  

    Lo and behold the scans showed that reason was not in play.  When confronted with information that was against their boy, the respondents chose to not think about it.  Denial, it seems, is political.  

    It should be no surprise, though.  In the pre-history it would seem that emotional allegiance would aid just as much as intellectual allegiance, if not more.  If Alexander was marching his way through Turkey, and I lived in a small hut, I would probably back the winner.  Dogs follow the alpha-male.  So, it is no surprise to me that emotion trumps reason, especially after an allegiance has been made.  Talk to the other side and you will see this play out in person…no need for an MRI.  Facts in politics appeal to the converted…ok…maybe to that small margin who want to be converted as well.  Facts do not, though, appeal to a believer.  They often get in the way.

    So what is Kerry to do?  Grow a personality.  Appeal emotionally.  Get righteous.  Punking out when the Swift Boat ads came out, while an arguably reasoned response was an emotional retreat.  

    People liked to watch McEnroe over Lendle.  

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    Marketing to women

    Marketing to women

    I just thumbed through the newer issue of Wired magazine, and I noticed an article about electronic stores catering more toward women (blond wood floors—read as attention to décor as apposed to looks-like a store-room Radio Shack, women sales staff, etc.).  

    The article seemed to think this was a radical way to open up a niche market.  Obviously they have never heard of "ladies night."  Come on, you cater to the ladies and the men will follow.  And this is not a bad thing.  Attention to a store's lighting, color and layout will only benefit us all.  Why?  Let me say this.  I can dress myself.  However, I look better when my wife lays out an outfit.  Why?  Because I don't care as much that this belt sets off those shoes or that flat front khakis slim me more than pleats.  That is, I don't care so much until I am assembled and walking around, getting one more look than ever I do when I assemble myself.  Think of it as my very own Queer Eye, only she's not gay.  I, on the other hand, seem to be as hapless as those subjects on the show.

    Back to marketing toward women…one of my long-term projects is to open a restaurant here in town (anyone with half a mil to spare, come my way).  In order to ensure its success, I would make it a welcoming and comfortable place for women to gather.  For where the women gather, therein lies security.  If a woman feels safe, then almost all men will.  If a woman will take her child to a place, then she will feel free to go there again and again.  

    And face it, where the women go, men go.  It may be to hold a hand bag while she shops, but men go along.   If there is food and atmosphere, much money will be outlaid.  Market to the ladies…its all good from there.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    Intended goals of the blog

    Intended goals of the blog:

    I will, on the outset, assume that very few people will find these postings of interest—not because they will say nothing, but that by having no audience I will be free to say what I please.

    Saying that, I will range any and all topics.  I will, probably, stay close to home, meaning: political (hobby), educational (sort of job), familial (wife and a 5 year old daughter) and maybe religious (agnostic—burnt out there too).

    So, if the ramblings of a poor, educated and fairly well read, deeply indebted family man is of interest, hang around.

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