Monday, December 31, 2007

    F@*& Off 2007!!!

    I have very little good to say about the last year. It started with sheer and utter joy (we were pregnant) to then suddenly go horribly awry.

    A few things I have learned over the last year:
    • Few (at least if your friend group is made up of liberal-leaning folk) consider 7-8 weeks long enough to warrant full-frontal grief over the loss of a child. Hell, most don't even consider it a child, so why all of the fuss. This can make one's honest expression of pain even more isolating
    • Hospitals are geared toward control. The doctors have all the control (or, by extension, the administration). Why no cell phones? It is not that cell phones would interfere (they don't in planes either), but that a central switch-board allows for centralized control. Don't believe, try to find out, from a distant town, how your loved one is doing. Or, better still, find out how or who messed up the treatment.
    • Doctors are not sued enough. I don't care what you say about tort reform, the act of suing over malpractice keeps us all safer. I don't let the mechanic off the hook if my brakes suddenly don't work. And, one would think in a world where Wal-Mart can alter their first-in-the-door display in reaction to real-time buying patters (true), why can't medical professionals all be on the same page with medications?
    • Sometimes when one travels for a living, that the travel has to stop for the living. There is a finite and doing so.
    • Air travel does not have to be an painful as it is. Centralized control is needed. Reagan was wrong.
    • Sick, old ladies often outlive everyone's fear of them dying. Then, one day, they pass on. I had two this year.
    • One's grandparents should not die before they have met their great-grandkids. Being a grand-parent establishes a completely different dynamic than a parent, and this needs to be shared with ones own children.
    • Creditors have begun using multiple numbers to circumvent caller-id. It is best to judiciously use voice-mail when behind one bills
    • Institutions of higher learning are not "lean" enough to meaningfully respond to current societal needs. Perhaps they will form a committee to investigate this further. It will meet monthly, for an hour, over lunch.
    • LinkedIn is a social network group that offers little to no honest appraisals of its constituents--much like high school.
    • Small-town educational opportunities for ones kids continually disappoints.
    • It is still not in my interest (although I still have interest) in finishing my dissertation. I don't know how to reconcile that.
    • A white Christmas is more enjoyable than a non-white one. The snow adds to the overall charm.
    • Children are worth every spare moment.
    • I am still looking for the end to this Third Great Awakening. I am hoping that the religious climate goes back to sleep. We could use the break.
    • I am still not excited about the role of America on the world stage. The next ring-leader (read any way you wish) doesn't look to offer any great hope on this.
    • One needs, when one lives in a small town, to travel to a big city at least twice a year. Otherwise, the choice to live where one does becomes more of a sentence than a decision.
    • We haven't figured out how to start a school without a boatload of capital.
    • A year does not lighten the pain of losing a tubal child.
    • My state encourages malpractice by capping damages. It forces only the small number of "glory" cases to be sought (infertility, losing a limb, etc) to the fore. Others, serious but less "showy" are, for a lot of lawyers, not worth the effort--low return on effort, hard to convince a jury, conservative peers, etc...
    • A prophet (or a very educated person) finds no honor in her hometown.
    So, to 2007, I burn you in effigy. I wish that you come to an end and that a new beginning may actually take place. Begone from me. I have no use for you. You have brought little joy.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    What the Ivies have to offer

    To a recent post about Yale offering some courses (6 in total I think) for online access, a long-time reader notes:
    MIT has something similar as well, which I've used heavily when enrolled in courses with poor instructional design.

    Occasionally, some students for the Big U wander over to DU and I've been less than impressed. They really do think that their Big U matriculation status does actually make them better. Maybe they are since they can take their Big U diploma and get better jobs right out of school than I could with my DU one.
    Miranda, I had heard about MITs as well (although the bulk do not include the lecture notes, where the real meat of a course lies). That just goes to my initial conclusion that the content is not nearly so important to the institution as the brand name.

    A caveat on that, though. While my experience with both land-grant U and Snooty-U are limited (really just one of each), I did notice a qualitative difference in the approach to a subject at Snooty-U. It seems that Snooty-U takes an ever-increasing macro view of the subject, wanting to categorize, label, and affix the subject. For example, adhering to a type of interpretive approach seems to be much more desired from Snooty-U (perhaps they are seen as the vanguard or definers of the approach) than from LGU. And that may not be a bad thing. I have learned a great deal by reading both the SU and LGU thoughts on a given subject, along with whatever snarky iconoclasts I can find along the way.

    So, take whatever content you may find.

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    PhD Attrition

    Harvard (full article) has instituted a policy that for every 5 PhD wannabes, the incoming graduate class will lose one slot. So, if there are a lot of ABDs clogging the system, the whole thing grinds to a halt.

    Of course, the comment section has laments about "mercy" PhDs and the like, but on the whole I would think that my old department would have benefited greatly from this. Once I finished my coursework and took my distribution reading exams, I was left to my own devices. And, here I sit, 10 years ABD with a wife and child, mortgage and lots of student loans.

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    Just in case you are still pursuing an English degree

    You might want a good fall-back.
    For 2007-8, positions in English are expected to be down 4.1 percent (full article here)
    But, the article goes on to say, it isn't as bad as the mid-90's... whew, anything but the mid-90's.

    They do not, though, take into account that not all "positions" are created equal:
    A key issue for both sectors is that many of the jobs being listed (and likely a larger share of those that are not advertised) are off the tenure track. Continuing a trend of recent years, the percentage of full-time, tenure-track assistant professor jobs (those most sought by new Ph.D.’s for whom the MLA meeting next week is a crucial part of the quest for employment) was 63.6 percent in English and 54.1 percent in languages.
    Continuing a trend...indeed.

    Take a computer class or five. You will need it.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007