None the Wiser
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Just In Case You were Thinking of Voting...
...don't. That's Porphyorgenitus' advice for the ignorant:
If you're ignorant, it's your civic duty to keep your ass at home on election day and spend the next two years getting yourself informed. Then vote (for better or worse I don't expect too many people who are oblivious about political topics will be reading this blog, so this post won't be reaching that audience). No one has any excuse to be uninformed - lack of money is no excuse (there are books, magazines, newspapers, and computers at every public library. Use them. Libraries can't even ban smelly, obnoxious bums who pester other patrons from the premises. Get a friend to read to you. If you can't read and can't make a friend, then at least watch TV; C-SPAN and PBSU and video courses are better than nothing). It takes time to make yourself informed, but no money.
Lots of other good stuff over there, so go check it out.
Friday, July 04, 2003
Happy Birthday, Us.
A good Independence Day to all of you.
I think it's a tribute to our remaining freedoms that we almost always wish one another a "safe" 4th of July. I never wish anybody a safe Easter, that's for damned sure. Only because we're still allowed to indulge in some measure of grown-up risk is this the case.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
An Issue Bigger Than Affirmative Action
Yes, of course there is such a thing. Namely, the quality of education actually taking place in the colleges themselves. The reliably sane National Association of Scholars knocks the back out of this one:
Very few seem to pay any attention to the contents of higher education any more. College and university administrators, of course, are not eager to rock the boat. A contented faculty and student body can translate into salary increases and personal promotion. Whatever people want, they can have, say many Chancellors and Presidents. Unless, of course, the request infringes upon an assortment of widely held assumptions about racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity. Or is conservative. [...]
[...] Faculty members are primarily interested in their careers, as well, and like to keep students happy. High grades and low requirements very often lead to high teaching ratings, which can be converted into higher pay and promotions. Why assign three books when the students complain about one? In time, this approach often leads to take-home exams. Only a professor's conscience demands academic rigor, and it takes little to stifle that inner voice.
My fellow South Carolinians will appreciate this article at fortune.com on the surprising success of Krispy Kreme donuts.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Read. This. Now.
Jonathan at Catallarchy (fast becoming a daily favorite) points to this astonishing column, which clearly and simply articulates the American individualist position. This is a real rarity anywhere, but on a metropolitan boradsheet it's truly a diamond in the rough. To wit:
Our government was founded as a decentralized representative republic whose power was limited to the protection of liberty and private property. The words "democracy" and "democratic" appear nowhere in the Constitution. A republic differs from a democracy like the rule of law differs from the rule of the masses.
Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said after the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that the delegates to the convention gave the people "a republic, if you can keep it." Unfortunately, we haven't kept it. We have reverted to a kind of democracy feared by the Founders, a centralized power controlled by majority opinion that can be arbitrary, impulsive and frivolous.
It gets better as it steams along. Go forth.
Monday, June 30, 2003
Thought for the Day
The history of baby boomer politics is the history of a generation determined to live comfortably and without guilt, at the expense of those who came both before and after themselves.
Sunday, June 29, 2003
Last night, after a few drinks with a professor of mine, I discovered that on June 20th Dr. Scott J. Seregny, Professor Emeritus and specialist in the field of Russian and East European history at the University of Indiana, finally lost his battle with cancer.
Dr. Seregny was perhaps the best teacher I've ever had the privilege to study under, and I had hoped to remain his student for many more years. Last winter, though, his illness began to overtake his energy, and he was unable to complete his teaching assignments for the semester. When he stopped coming around the office, I suspected he might have fallen ill, and this was confirmed for me by one of his colleagues, Dr. Kevin Cramer.
Dr. Seregny's work on pre-1917 peasant life in eastern Russia and the Ukraine was held in high esteem among peers in the field of Russian Studies. He was working on a study of post-Communist education in Russia prior to his death.
I guess I hoped he would recover, but it was a desperate wish. He was a warm, gentle, good-natured man, and my heart aches at his passing. No teacher has inspired me so much, nor done so much to encourage my studies. He was universally adored by students and colleagues. He was, quite simply, a bright and beautiful spirit.
He left this world at the age of 53. May he rest in peace.