Monday, September 25, 2006

    Bubba smackdown

    Clinton, here and there, delivered a strong response to the conservative attack dog Fox News Sunday.

    Now, if other could claim the moral high ground away from the Rovians, we might all benefit.

    Full transcript here.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

    To vote or not

    I have, in the course of studies, read the Constitution. I was reading, though, for what was included. A recent article in points out that I should have been reading for what was not included: namely the right to vote. The article states:
    The Supreme Court restated the point in 2000, in Bush v. Gore. "The individual
    citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the
    President of the United States," said the Court, rather breezily, "unless
    and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to
    implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College."

    Since that decision, two more literalist have been added to the judicairy, meaning that a reinterpretation is highly unlikely. Nor is a Constitutional ammendment, as it is not in the party-in-power's best interest (I would say the same of the Dems, if they were in). So, here we are, the morally, self-righteous democracy that doesn't see fit to ensure that every single citizen has the right to vote.

    We can track the credit history of every single person in the US, legal or not, but we can't create a system that will allow, without registration (a hurdle and barrier, I feel), without undo effort for every citizen to cast a vote--that will be counted (throw out the electoral college).

    This cause will not have traction, as it is not pretty. But, it should be.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Open Materials

    Inside Higher Ed has an interesting article about Open Instruction (it is not really open source, as that refers specifically to software that is collaborative created and maintained).

    Yale has entered into the open dissemenation of instructional materials, following along behind MIT an Rice (Harvard has some of their extended education courses online).

    I say yay. Bring it. All of it. Let me see the lectures, read the materials, and gain access to the information. I will not get the official credit. My transcripts will not be Ivy, but I will finally be able to hear the discourse previously only available in peer-reviewed journals.

    <>Individual instructors will expand their cults of personality, eventually a few of them breaking into celebrity (of a lower level) status.

    Still, not a bad thing.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Bloggin as a class assignment

    One of the colleges that I adjunct has revamped the into comp course. In setting up and reveiwing the materials, I stumbled upon a new requirement--every student has to post at least one blog entry per week on a classroom blog.

    I wonder about this working out--as an educational tool, as a logistical headache, etc.

    Anyone have any experience assigning a blog for a class assignment? Any help out there?

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Monday, September 18, 2006

    My Monday

    My Monday:

    12:20 – Finally get to bed.  With the short weekend (home only two days this week), there was lots to get done and no time to do it.
    4:20 – Kill the alarm, but get up anyway.
    4:50 – with two cups of coffee, in disposable cups, take off in rental car for the hour long drive to the airport (time estimated at maximum speed)
    5:45 fill up rental car
    5:55 – turn in rental car
    6:02 – wait in line for tickets…
    6:06 – have ticket lady tell me that I had missed my 6:30 flight because I wasn’t checked in 30 minutes before the flight.
    6:15 – look at the plane I was supposed to be on just sit there, beckoning.  Am told that since I have checked baggage that I cannot stand by my original flight.  
    6:30 – sit fuming about the stupidity of modern air travel.
    7:15 – achieve a stand-by flight going the opposite way than my final destination.  My original flight was non-stop.  I will now have a layover.
    8:20 – race through major airport to stand-by another flight.
    8:35 – hear announcement that the stand-by flight I was able to get on is delayed because the pilot was stuck in traffic.
    9:10 – the 8:30 flight takes off.
    9:15 – wake up to the sound of a jarringly familiar sleep-snort.
    9:25 – wonder how the rest of the day will go.

    10:30 – arrive at destination site
    10:50 – take shuttle to rental car, off-site location
    11:00 – fail to rent car due to credit card declined…
    11:01 – slowly begin to panic (return is not till Thursday, no other means of payment, far from client site…)
    11:04 – begin waiting on hold with Credit Card Company
    11:51 – finally get off of hold
    11:58 – ask customer service rep repeated why it took them a week to notice a slew of new charges, and then why they didn’t call instead of cutting me off in the middle of a trip, causing me to wait on hold almost an hour and to be late for a meeting…
    12:00 – get no satisfactory answers, but do get a car.
    12:01 – start a new work week.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    New Job

    As Pookie clung to me this morning, sleepy at 5:30, she lamented I would be missing her soccer practice. Having only just started playing, she was still nervous about the swarm that is 6 under soccer. My reassurances at being at the games went unheeded. To her there is no difference between practice and games. I wasn’t supposed to miss either.

    I have traveled full-time before, right before getting married and then a few years later. Lovely Wife and Pookie, though, pull me harder to stay. I want to stay.

    I will be commuting to Gotham four days and three nights a week until Christmas. If I, or they, am able to last that long. I will be missing the bulk of kindergarten: taking in snack, dropping off and picking up, volunteering in the class. These were all done last year in pre-k. I feel as if I am abandoning a duty.

    Lovely Wife has said that when I travel she is a single mom. I don’t like to hear that, and I get defensive. I like to think of myself as a modern, liberated man. I was dishes, vacuum, carry laundry and fuddle my way through co-parenting. I moved with Lovely Wife to Brand U and worked as well as I could to support her in her studies. Logistics called for me to adjunct in the morning and to baby-sit the afternoon and evening. It was hard on Lovely Wife (Pookie doesn’t like to share or be far from her mom), but she graduated with relative ease.

    Moving back to small-town, though, was a hard decision made, it seems, by outside forces as much as by ourselves. LW’s good starting job at Large East Coast town would not cover the bills, and I spent a fruitless spring and summer not getting the many jobs to which I applied. So, out of economic necessity and the desire to provide greater familial support to Pookie, we moved back to LW’s hometown. Six Aunt and Uncles and a second cousin of similar age waited, and P. has flourished from being there.

    We, though, have not. LW has encountered some rather severe discrimination from her degree, losing a series of jobs she should have easily gotten. I, too, have limited prospects. My skills designing, developing and delivering complex software training is of little utility in farming country. And, even though the technology is available, telecommuting is shunned in favor of face-to-face time. So, I type this at 32,000 feet, missing my wife and child so that I may cover the spread.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

    Ivory comes through with some hard wisdom

    I will pull a quote from the comments, just for those who don't bother...

    In my post I am of two minds, Ivory stated, with echoing accuracy:
    If every English major volunteered in a hospital or worked doing HTML tagging in an internship while earning their degree, they would have many more options after graduation.
    I could not have said it better. I think that an English degree is a vital and important major...a second major. Take a degree in something that pays, and THEN, if you must, indulge your inner literary critic, close reader or lover of text. Law sounds good.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Educational Blogging

    Danielle Pi (nothing else do I know of him) has created a wonderfully brilliant mash up of Britany Spears and Bach. Link thanks to Culture Cat where I lurked across it.

    [Update: this was for an assignment. He got an A.]

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    The English Degree question

    The English Degree question:

    When questions about English departments come up (such as here), invariably questions about values, priorities and the like immediately gather. For example, Dean Dad started a little fire-storm when he lauded the U of Fl.'s decision to cut retiring positions and realign budgets to the sciences at the expense of the liberal arts. He sees this as strong steering or resources from the Univ's point of view. To that, I can see his point.

    Those who have responded, Dr. Crazy, Flavia, etc. voice the common concerns of
    • the value of Liberal Arts

    • the allocation of funds & the revenue various departments bring to a university/college

    • the future of graduates (undergrad and grad)

    I will take these in order.

    The value (academic terms) of a liberal arts influenced education has a long and well-fought history. I will only add that I am glad to have gotten one.

    The value in economic terms of a liberal arts influenced education (read a non-liberal arts degree that included writing and lit requirements) is also a given. Critical thinking skills created by reading and writing (Lit, History, Language) add immeasurably to an education—and the inclusion of such required courses only speaks to that. The sprinkling of liberal arts is not in question.

    The majoring in liberal arts, though, is in serious question. Getting a Masters or higher is reckless and foolhardy.

    The allocation of funds. English departments generate a lot of revenue, for themselves and the institution in general. With local variances acknowledged, composition courses and intro-lit pump more than the department's fair share into the general operating pool—especially when taught (as is the practice) by TAs or grad students. It does not, though, follow that liberal arts departments should see this as value where it is not.

    Being a core requirement and generating a good amount of revenue is all well and good. But to say that those departments should then encourage large (read more than just a few) numbers of graduates ignores market forces, the good of the graduates or even the good of the departments.

    Metaphor-mania time: the liberal arts are the sweets to the life diet. They treat, reward, and make life desirable, exciting and worth all of the effort. They are good and wonderful. However, they provide little nutrition.

    [Side-stepping the mud-pie thrown in reaction to above statement]: the liberal arts are the vitamins to a healthy life diet. They provide the necessary nutrients for vigor and life. They are necessary and vital. However, they are by definition supplements. One cannot live by vitamins alone.

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    I am of two minds

    I am of two minds about the truth you speak. Yes, there are too many English grads--I am one.

    Dean Dad has a nice post where he examines the ramifications of a U of FL announcement to not replace a boatload of retiring profs—choosing, rather, to take the opportunity to prune departments and realign focus back to sciences and such. The Liberal Arts, taking a frontal assault in the process.

    DD argues, rightly I am afraid, that "English graduate programs should take fewer graduate students."

    I am of two minds about the truth he speaks. Yes, there are too many English grads--I am one and it is a bitch to find a job.

    The two minds, though, cleave along the personal and professional. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have studied at the level I have. I feel as if I have clawed my way into a world-view and understanding unknown to my family and class. I have read myself into a place where I feel, perhaps too securely, that I can read my way into understanding quite nuanced arguments and situations. That is, I can think critically. Isn't that what every into composition course wants?

    Professionally, I think my personal view was selfish and short-sighted. Critical thinking is not the sole prevue of English studies. The sciences, IT, etc. all can lay claim to fostering critical thinking AND providing a skill-set that can actually pay the bills—most of which were incurred while obtaining said skills.

    So, my professional self looks to my personal self with dismay, bordering on aversion. Bankrupt your family so that you could indulge in reading—reading that could have been done in the evenings after your real job.

    So, there we are. Personally satisfied, professionally stymied. Thanks English degree. Thanks so much.

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    Another quick update

    Another quick update:

    • My consulting project in Near Big Town comes to an end after almost a year.  It has enabled me to spend nights at home.  I will miss that.

    • Next week I begin a consulting project in Gotham Burb.  I will not be home every night.  I don't think I, Pookie or Lovely Wife will like that at all.

    • Pookie went to kindergarten yesterday.  I was able to be there to help her adjust.  I did, though, argue with the principle.  Not a good start for dad.  Good start for Pookie.

    • Memaw is doing the same, which is not as good as my grandmother should be doing.  

    • Change is everywhere.

    • One of my adjuncting colleges is introducing new measures (standardization) which is new and disturbing.  I hope it is a trend they move to avoid—Rising College has the market on that, and I didn't like it there.

    • I will be back on the road, which means lots of food on the go, airports and lonely hotels.  Why can't I make money in the field I studied? At home? With my family?

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Friday, September 01, 2006

    Public Censure

    Poor Stephen had no idea his little wife would be so creative.

    The laudable aspect of this sort of revenge is that the public nature lends a high level of censure. If more public shaming (not stock, per se, but some good tsk-tsking) could be use appropriately, we would all be the better.

    But, sadly, the prudes and evangelical types take this idea and hammer away at their own, long and high-minded list of "sins," ruining it for all.

    What to do...

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