Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
Doctor Cleveland blogs about politics, education, literature, and the arts. His personal obsessions include live theater, Red Sox baseball, and powerful black coffee. He teaches college under another name, somewhere along America's glorious North Coast. While he blogs about the general academic life, he does not discuss his current institution, its students, or its employees on the blog. Nor does he use any university resources to blog. Any public statement he chooses to make about his employer will be made under his legal name.
So, basically the whole staff of the Red and the Black, the University of Georgia's student newspaper, walked out after the newspaper's Board of Directors promoted the paper's non-student "editorial adviser" to "editorial director" and gave him complete veto power over the student staff. The Red and the Black has always been a student-run newspaper, independent of the University itself, where students have final say. So the walkout is predictable and even laudable.
I'm not going to add to the discussion of the Ryan pick except to say that Romney did it to placate his base. No, not the conservatives. The other Republican base: political reporters and "non-partisan" op-ed writers. Self-described "centrists" in the media love love love them some Paul Ryan, although actual middle-of-the-road Americans don't especially. That needs thinking about.
I'm going to start a semi-regular series of "recommended weekend reading" posts. My recommendations will inevitably be all over the place, and I don't expect to focus on anything except things I happen to like. Ideally, each installment would have both a book recommendation and a link to a short story or poem available (with the author's permission) on the web.
So, in honor of the recent landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, let me start by recommending Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, starting with Red Mars.
Since the terrible and senseless murders in that Aurora movie theater, there's been a lot of talk about how to fight back against a mass shooter. It's become a standard talking point that more guns among the victims would have allowed someone to kill any mass shooter, basic tactical realities notwithstanding. And Houston's Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security has recently released an instructional video called "Run. Hide. [Read more]
Last night, twelve people died in senseless gun violence at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.
Batman, of course, is a character who is a lunatic vigilante, and so some crazy people identify with that fantasy figure in the wrong way. Batman is also a character who has lost his parents to senseless gun violence. (They were killed on a family outing to the movies.) It's an authoritarian vigilante fantasy about stopping people from shooting each other.
Over the past week much of our national media, especially the national pundit corps, was consumed with two questions: Was the attack about when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital fair? and Would Romney choose Condoleeza Rice as his running mate? These are both silly questions. The correct answers are, "Yup," and "Of course not." That part of the press corps took the second question seriously at all, even for one day, shows how disconnected they are from reality. Their chatter about the Bain question is just as clueless.
Father John Brooks died last week. He had been president of Holy Cross college in Massachusetts and been the prime mover of its affirmative action efforts, starting in 1968. He started recruiting African-American students before he became college president, on his own initiative and originally his own dime:
I've come back from a month overseas in time for the Glorious Fourth. I'm happy to have spent it back in my native land, in my own back yard, grilling a holiday meal. It would have felt a bit odd to extend my European adventure past Independence Day, or to celebrate it outside America. There's only one day a year when cooking a burger feels like an act of national solidarity, and only one day when listening to John Philip Sousa feels like a pleasure. I like spending that day in the States. And spending it anywhere else feels slightly unpatriotic.
I've spent the last month or so in Rome; our last night in the city happily coincides with the 2012 Euro Cup final, with the hometown Italia Azzuri taking on defending champion Spain. (And that's a happy coincidence, too: a rematch of each team's first game of the tournament.) Naturally, we're going out to watch the match. And just as naturally, I bought a game jersey (from a pile at my neighborhood supermarket). Tonight I'll be wearing Mario Balotelli's number.
The debacle at the University of Virginia, whose Board of Visitors hastily fired President Teresa Sullivan, has been a lesson in how business-oriented trustees can urge bad business practices. My earlier post listed some of the imprudent ideas that Sullivan was resisting: a big bet on online learning with no business plan or revenue stream; a desire to chase expensive star faculty from outside UVa instead of building in-house; and a drive to reallocate funds from profitable but unglamorous fields to sexier, less profitable enterprises that the Board of visitors preferred. [Read more]