Are Books Following You Around?

UCLABack in 1964 I packed my clothes in a small suitcase and my books and supplies in three orange crates (the cardboard ones with the full-fitting tops). Later that day my father dropped me off at the curb in front of the dormitory at the university and, because parking was forbidden, drove away leaving me to fend for myself in the big city. And it was only a day or two later that I realized that survival was the reality of the situation.

I had come up to the university a week or two early for the Freshman Orientation. I bunked with a guy from another part of the state that actually knew and revered my High School for its championship marching band (he was a Music major). But three days later the orientation was over, I was forced to move to another dormitory, and I realized I had more than a week to figure out how I was going to eat each day (food-service was not open yet) and whether I could withstand the terrors of Los Angeles. At least I had plenty of time to empty my three boxes of books and arrange them neatly on the built-in bookshelves.

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Pope Is Pretty Puissant

universityBack in the ’90s my daughter was showing her academic strengths at High School and, to the delight of her father, also developing in sports and social relationships. But so much of her direction was being primed by her father, the English Major and book reader. The Kid went on to college, earning a double major in English and French, admirable grades and honors, and went on to graduate school to get her PhD in Comparative Literature. She now teaches film studies and various humanities courses in the English Department at a major university. Along the way the idea of concentrating in the Humanities was considered so inane that I felt I had to lend my support.

When I was in Graduate School I studied literature (17th Century Restoration Drama) and learned to program computers at night in an effort to keep food on the table. You would have thought that the combination of Alexander Pope and FORTRAN was strange but the man who hired me explained that to be a good programmer you needed to think analytically and that was the type of thinking you learned in the Humanities.

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Academic Freedom taken behind the wood-pile

College CharlestonThere are so many good reasons to live in South Carolina, especially if you are retired, but there are also many bad reasons. Good weather, low taxes, and fried chicken, however, cannot make up for the stupidity and intolerance inherent in the state. It’s unfortunate that my friends and family scattered around this country regularly hear on the news how my adopted state is such an embarrassment, but after living for thirty years in New Jersey, I’ve gotten used to it. The one thing about South Carolina (and many other places so don’t be too smug) is it’s adherence to ideology at the expense of the truth and it closed-mindedness driving out critical thinking and academic investigation. Here’s another example from J. Bryan Lowder at Slate:

South Carolina Champions Academic Freedom … by Punishing Colleges for Assigning Gay Books

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The Highly Educated Working Poor

This has been brought up before but today there is a direct exposure from Jim Hightower published in Truthout:

The Highly Educated Working Poor: Adjunct Professors

CollegeThere’s a growing army of the working poor in our U.S. of A., and big contingents of it are now on the march. They’re strategizing, organizing and mobilizing against the immoral economics of inequality being hung around America’s neck by the likes of Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and colleges.

Wait a minute. Colleges? That can’t be. After all, we’re told to go there to go to college to get ahead in life. More education makes you better off, right? Well, ask a college professor about that — you know, the ones who earned PhDs and are now teaching America’s next generation.

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