May 31, 2006
"Co-authoring" (actually, I feel obligated to say that Dan did more than the lion's share of the writing and the thought) an op-ed with a Reviewer will probably surprise many and may even disappoint some of you. Let me offer a word first: as we say, Dan and I clearly are at odds on many issues, but there is really no two ways to see this draft. What Joe Malchow and The Review have said about it is true—the constitution draft has many serious flaws that will prevent a fair system from developing. Perhaps to some, even some of my readers, that is a good thing, but I don't think those who disagree with the 'Lone Pine Revolution' have anything to fear from fairness or democracy.
My only question is, why do we need all this business in the first place? I'd prefer less alumni governance, not more, for the reasons I sketched out in my DFP editorial. Unfortunately, I also had to realize that this constitution business will not just go away at my word, and that I needed to speak more specifically against the draft. I'm hoping that, at any rate, the plea in today's op-ed for greater student involvement in these matters is heard.
I feel strongly about this—college is different from commerce, from the religious realm, and from previous levels of education. If there is one type of institution on earth which the inmates actually could run well (with some help) and beneficially for everyone, it is a college (not a university, perhaps, but a college). That certainly doesn't mean that alums are obligated to give us a bigger say, but it does mean that if they did, things might actually go well. And if alums conduct their own affairs this poorly, well...
May 30, 2006
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter; Melville, Moby-Dick; Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin; James, Portrait of a Lady [; Twain, Huckleberry Finn; Cather, My Antonia; Wharton, The Age of Innocence [criminally underrated--glad to see it]; Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms [ummm, Sun Also Rises?]; Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; Warren, All the King's Men; Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March; Ellison, Invisible Man; Chandler, The Long Goodbye [please--Hammett owns Chandler and the genre]; Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451; Updike, Rabbit, Run; Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor [apparently they haven't read Pynchon]; Heller, Catch-22; Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird; Nabokov, Pale Fire [not Lolita? prudes]; Roth, The Great American Novel [of all the Roth novels, they pick this?]
I really can't decide which one to vote for; my only criterion is, which book is the least conservative? Now I suppose this may seem like a poor reason for choosing a novel, but hey, I like most of the novels on the list and I don't like PowerLine or conservatives, and I'd like to throw my two cents in a direction that doesn't also help a conservative's choice win. If I were voting straight-up, I'd say Moby-Dick. But somehow I have this queasy feeling that somewhere a conservative is making a comparison between Osama and Ahab or something.
So what should it be? PowerLine likes war a lot--should it be Catch-22? Conservatives seem to enjoy ignoring black people, so should it be Invisible Man? Most conservatives probably can't grasp the complexities of Pale Fire, so should it be that? (To be fair, most people in general can't grasp the complexities of Pale Fire.) Conservatives seem intent on believing women are inferior to men in most occupations, so should it be Cather or Wharton? Or Lee? Does Stowe count in that regard?
I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't vote based on politics. I wish there were a write-in space. I would vote for Blood Meridian.
May 28, 2006
What is relevant (I suppose) is that the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association has cancelled the elections scheduled to be held during Homecoming Weekend 2006 for some time in the first half of 2007. The link above has a full analysis of the actual events, but Joe sums it up thus in a previous post: "The current people in charge have decided not to put their own offices up for a vote." Joe points out quite rightly that this wouldn't be too terrible if this were a regular year, but alums will be voting on the Constitution (which was approved over Green Key), and that constitution will change many things. (I cover them a bit in this DFP editorial.)
My feeling, as I sketched out in my editorial, is that I really don't care about the democraticness of alumni affairs for any intrinsic reason—I could honestly care less how they elect, or are prevented from electing, new leaders of the Alumni Association or the Alumni Liaison Board or whatever. My problem with all of these shenanigans is that it will make alums think that there is something worth shenaniganning about in all this muddle. (And maybe there is, I don't know.) This will only provoke alums to start intruding further and further into actual College affairs and not just their little AlumniWorld, which I assume is full of khakis and blazers, trophy wives, and open bars. (Hey, that sounds nice actually...) At any rate, I don't want alums groping for control or more input; I don't think they should have it and I think the effort to get it will be bad for students and for faculty.
A college is perhaps the only type of institution where rule by the workers is both a viable and a good idea. If alums start crowding in, we, the workers—the students and the faculty, aren't going to get the chance to bear this out.
May 27, 2006
The Catholic Church's stance on birth control is that only the rhythm method is ethical and may be used as it is the only form of contraception that (they think) doesn't cause embryo deaths.
Can the Catholic Church be incorrect on a scientific proclamation? I am aghast.
May 26, 2006
Reggae singer Desmond Dekker has died suddenly from a heart attack, aged 64.
Dekker, whose 1969 hit Israelites was the first reggae song to top the UK charts, collapsed at his Surrey home.
Manager Delroy Williams said the Jamaica-born performer had seemed fine when they met a day earlier, adding: "I don't think I will ever get over this."
He has 5 points he wants to pick at: large classes, a dearth of humanities students, teachers not teaching enough, more about teachers not teaching enough, and club sports not getting enough money from the College. I'll just address the large classes issue now, maybe the rest later.
"Dartmouth students should expect to find themselves in classes with less than 20 students only "about a third" of the time."
Smaller class sizes is nothing but a traditionalist talking point. It doesn't really solve anything—a tremendously large class can be amazingly beneficial to a student, and a smaller class can be amazingly inefficient and dull. Just because there are fewer bodies in a classroom doesn't mean your class experience will invariably be better. There are a number of professors at Dartmouth—Pulju, Pease, and Witters come to mind—who are absolutely incredible in a large class at not only disseminating information and material effectively and meaningfully, but also at forming a connection with the students of that class. Not all students will actually engage with the class or with the professor, but guess what, that happens in smaller classes as well. I have been in one class of 5 and even in that class, 60% did not participate fully in discussions—it was pretty much just one other student, the professor, and I in conversation. Small class, big class—it makes very little difference if the teaching is good and the materials are good—the motivated students form a meaningful relationship with the prof and with the material, and the rest get basically whatever they want out of it. When big classes are bad, it's not because they're big, but because they are poorly taught.
I would add only two caveats: a) not all profs are good at teaching big courses, and not all students are good at learning in big courses. But this works exactly the same way for smaller courses. b) This all may not apply as well to classes outside of the humanities and the soft sciences, where I have experience, but I still feel good classroom experiences are dependent on good teaching and motivated students and those two things are not causally linked to class size in most cases.
May 25, 2006
2) Why is this article written for the childrens? Headline: "Scientists may be able to make magic like Harry Potter." Opening sentence: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Imagine an invisibility cloak that works just like the one Harry Potter inherited from his father. Researchers in England and the United States think they know how to do that." This is two paragraphs.
Let's take a look at this here real quick. Starts off "imagine:" a bit kiddy. "Just like." Reference is made to events occuring within the diegesis of a fictive work written for children. "Think they know how to do that" constitutes seven one-syllable words in a row. This is on CNN? Not CNN for kids or anything, mind you, if that even exists.
The circumstances behind this are obvious. Malchow has, of late, attained a kind of critical mass of toolery which exists in violation of certain universal physical laws. In order to maintain equilibrium, the cosmos has been forced to bring rise to a sort of anti-Malchow, one who makes an ass of himself in public not by means of excessive verbosity but by its opposite. The "reporter" in question goes unnamed because the article was not written by a human, as is assumed, but rather by some bodiless construct or abstraction. No one at the AP or CNN has ever seen this article. It is invisible.
May 23, 2006
Slate has a very capable defense of Beloved's place as #1, but Salon basically takes the words right out of my mouth.
the idea of a single best novel struck me as not only a confining choice but one that completely missed the point of what has happened in American culture in general and American literature in particular over the past 30 years. Once, maybe, people could convince themselves that ours is a monoculture and writers like Norman Mailer and Philip Roth could compete for the alpha-dog position as the novelist who best defined the "American experience." That's not the world we live in anymore; no one gets to speak for "everybody."Let me just put it this way: The Adventures of Augie March marked a turning point in American letters. Bellow composed a novel which, with total self-consciousness, places itself as The Great American Novel, embodying the nature, destiny, and life of America in the titular character. But The Adventures also closed off for everyone succeeding it the possibility of once again assuming that pose, of creating a character who actually is America—there has not even been a serious attempt at it, or at least not in the novel.
How did Bellow accomplish this feat? Very simply—Augie March is Jewish, and his experience is tremendously grounded in that fact. After Augie, no character can be grounded merely in The American Tradition—there is no longer such a thing. Consider how relatively ungrounded Ishmael is, and then compare him to Rabbit Angstrom and Swede Levov—they are grounded, not just in their ethnicities, but also in a direct sense of place.
As Miller says, this canvassing act for The Best Work shows a total lack of comprehension as to what the American novel now is, and what it has been since 1953. There is simply no American fiction to be the best of. This poll's intent might not have been to suggest that there is, but its single-mindedness is simply incongruous with the facts on the ground. One cannot have a single mind about fiction in America any more.
Dear Andrew Seal,If McCain's campaign thinks I might support him, I'm going to need to up the liberal quotient on this blog. If you are a McCain supporter, well, visit the above site. Personally, I really enjoyed McCain's New School visit. Jean Sara Rohe deserves a medal.
In recognition of the important role that blogs like The Little Green Blog play in New Hampshire's political discourse, we would like to introduce you to the McCainMovement, an organization started by supporters of Senator John McCain.
The McCainMovement (http://www.mccainmovement.com) will act as the primary Internet portal for news and online interaction to support a 2008 McCain presidential bid and aims to become the primary grassroots organizing center for McCain fans this year.
We are writing to request a news post about our site and/or a link on your website. We, of course, would in turn provide a link to your site on our page if so desired. Please feel free to request more information – you may also schedule an interview with me in order to fill in any information gaps you might need for a full-fledged post on your site.
We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
May 22, 2006
The answer? 98, putting him at 616 currently. Still a prodigious number, but it would put him pretty far out from Aaron.
Anyway, the analysis is interesting, even if it may only be speculative, and the bits about baseball physics are pretty cool.
May 20, 2006
The newest trailer mashup
More soberly, Oliver Stone's WTC trailer is up. Or perhaps less soberly—it looks disgustingly, inappropriately melodramatic so far. Like I'm surprised—it is Oliver Stone after all. Good god.
May 19, 2006
May 17, 2006
As it stands, it is fantastic because of its inaccuracy. One picture I uploaded resulted in a match with: Hu Jintao, Shirley Temple (awesome), Stevie Wonder (the older version), Jang Dong-gun, Nicholas Tse, Tony Danza, and Eva Longoria. Wow, I never knew I looked so multiracial. A better picture of me resulted in: Haley Joel Osment, Nick Carter, Jason Biggs, Rachel Weisz, Shigeki Maruyama, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo (a likeness I would rather desire), Sam Cooke (once again, AWESOME), and Julio Iglesias (omg, yes).
I look like Anna Kournikova's father-in-law. How terrific is that?
May 15, 2006
May 11, 2006
I have long thought that most of the proponents of a core curriculum have no idea what such a measure would entail—pedagogically, ideologically, or socially. Ignorance, and not knowledge, is behind the effort to reinstall core curricula in the university.
Those who support a core curriculum act like they are doing so because they worry about a general lack of "worthwhile" education, or education about Life's Big Problems, or they make the argument that a core curriculum would provide a campus with a common base from which better and more fruitful discussions could develop.
However, I have long suspected that there are only three real impulses behind most support of core curricula:
1) a perceived need to control a liberal professoriat. If you, as an alum or a public "intellectual" are able to set the table off which all profs have to feed their students, then you get a huge say in how the food gets served.
2) a sincere desire to keep the "critiques from the margins"—ethnic and gender studies foremost, but also postcolonial studies and some others—marginalized and discredited as, at best, intellectual "affirmative action," at worst, utterly useless and wastes of university resources
3) a covert wish to quash the connection between knowledge and outward-directed action—namely, student activism and political engagement.
I got proof of all three of these impulses today while reading PowerLine's write-up of their "interview" with President Wright. The topic they lead off with (in the post, at least) is core curriculum.
I asked him about the lack of a core curriculum in Western civilization -- even for those students who would pursue such a program voluntarily...This doesn't seem very suspect, but let's look at it as two separate suggestions—a) that there be a core curriculum or b) that there be a course or courses offered to students who wish to ground themselves formally in "Western Civilization." It may seem like these differ only in degree, but ideologically, they are antitheses.
The purpose of a core curriculum is that everyone does it. That is its whole pedagogical purpose. To offer it as an elective course of study defeats the whole purpose. Making it elective closes off the possibilities that are normally projected as the goals of having a core curriculum—giving students a common discursive currency, forming a more cohesive community, etc. Instead, what does it offer? (A small measure of) Power—power to change the curriculum and to get the administration to meet your demands and force (some) professors to dance to your tune.
Secondly, just having an "elective core curriculum" (again, I assert this to be an oxymoron) around is an attempt to discredit the critiques and presence of "marginalized" studies—the message is, 'well, this is the real deal, but we realize you might like to take those AAAS courses because you're black and that interests you more than Milton.' The only point to having a "coherent Western Tradition" present on campus to serve as a contrast to all those other, far-flung, "marginal" studies. "Well," it says, "we don't want to push Plotinus on you, but it's here, and you're not exactly serious if you're not taking it." The fact is, we can't live with or under a coherent Western Tradition that can or could stand entirely alone and apart from a global and multicultural, multi-sourced context. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
Thirdly, a core curriculum is intended to erase the perception of difference, or at least make difference less of a topic for discussion and, moreover, less of an impetus for action. Action arises from difference; a core curriculum seeks to pave over difference beneath a stack of books and ideas held "in common." A core curriculum will only ever create (inquisitive, perhaps, but) quietistic learners. Why is the Bible a stable and unchanging set of books? To foreclose (most of) the possibilities for individual action or thought. However, this goal works about as well whether it is a communal learning framework or an individual's study—so it really doesn't matter if your college has a mandatory core curriculum or an elective one. A core curricular education makes you think of difference as incidental rather than as basic, and of yourself as fundamentally similar or the same as most other people. Why should you act outwardly to change things if difference—yours, or in general—is relatively insignificant? You shouldn't—you wouldn't. And that's why they want one of these bastardized forms of education around.
Sorry for the length. If you are interested in this topic, read my other posts on Core Curriculum (it's a bit of a bete noir for me), here are others:
Critique of Review's Core Curriculum issue, Part Two, Part Three
A Harvard student's plea for a core curriculum
"Oil companies don't set crude-oil prices; the global market does. Basically, the market decides what people are willing to pay at a certain moment in time."
"Oil companies, like the farmer, are the beneficiaries of high market prices, but they can no more control those prices than a farmer can dictate what he gets for a bushel of corn."
"Critics would say the oil industry is far less competitive than the corn market, which is certainly true. But if oil companies could control the price of crude oil, they would not have allowed the price to fall to $10 a barrel as it did in 1998."
"Countries like India and China are growing, and that has created more demand for oil and gas. In the United States, we're still going full throttle when it comes to energy use. At the same time, there have been supply disruptions and political instability in major oil-producing nations. So you have a situation where demand has been growing steadily and inexorably, and the system of supply is quite vulnerable. That's the basic recipe for high prices."
Keep in mind that the market goes both ways...
"If the market crashes to $1 per bushel, the farmer loses money. That can happen to oil companies as well."
Essentially, there are two solutions: a) increase supply and/or b) decrease demand. Americans certainly haven't been doing a good job on the latter.
May 9, 2006
- The D bottoms out at a new nadir of terminal inanity. Vending machines, for the sake of G-d.
- Phi Delt brothers find a novel way to be complete assholes. 10 guys—mostly, if not all, Phi Delts—have started a facebook group in support of the Duke Men's Lacrosse Team.
I realize that the rape investigation involving the Duke lacrosse team has not yet concluded and, therefore, we are to presume them innocent. But the evidence is indisputable that the lacrosse team was completely out of control. From ESPN:
According to police records, 15 of the 47 players on Duke's national championship runners-up lacrosse team had been charged with misdemeanor crimes ranging from public drunkenness and disturbance to public urination in the previous year. Since 1999, 41 Duke lacrosse players have been charged with misdemeanors in Durham and Orange counties. As reported by the The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), according to campus records, about half the team has had on-campus alcohol violations and other conduct issues. Sports Illustrated reported that a former alum's e-mail exposed stories of lacrosse players "throwing kegs through windows" and purposely "breaking bones" in fight club activities. Collin Finnerty, one of the two lacrosse players indicted Monday, was charged with assault last November in Washington, D.C., after a man accused Finnerty and two others of punching him and calling him "gay and other derogatory names."Way to support one of the biggest collections of dickheads in the country, Phi Delt.
O, and since they voluntarily joined this facebook group, I'll just post the members list: Donald Bly, Andrew Eastman, Chris Chan, Russell Herman, Richard Denton, CJ Ryan, Patrick Jones, Brian Wang, Kendrick Li, Chris Crawford. Dartmouth's finest, I'm sure.
More: There's another Duke Lacrosse solidarity group:
Members: Peter DeMaria (founder), Aaron Levy, Jessica Meneses.
Duke Lax Groupies
To all the haters, we never stopped believing.
Let me ask you what is more likely:
Scenario 1) Intelligent undergraduates at Duke University decide to stick their you know whats into the poop shoot of a STDed out stripper, beat her, and expect nothing will come of it. Neither criminal charges nor the herp.
Scenario 2) A stripper claims she is raped, by rich, white men, so that she can receive compensation, above and beyond the single dollar bills people normally place betwixt her rump.
May 8, 2006
I'm beyond disappointment or even disgust by now. At this point, I don't really expect a better answer out of him. He could have said, "I farted for 24 seconds straight the other day," and I wouldn't really have been shocked.
But defending this utter idiocy is another matter because it shows a) a total lack of critical faculties and b) a severe neurotic impulse to rationalize that should probably be considered pathological.
Here is what Joe Malchow says about it:
What might he have said to please critics? Nothing, really. It’s always nothing, but in this case it is especially nothing. Because this isn’t a president who’s seen anything wonderful—we decided just nine months into his term, in fact, that we didn’t want and could not use a president who would be the type to embark on wonderful designs while distinctly unwonderful enemies tore us up in search of their superlative—glory. Bush has seen heroism, and that’s wonderful, and he’s provoked heroism, and that’s wonderful. But the work itself, both what he does and what he orders others to do, is the farthest thing from wonderful. No one who receives the daily briefings George Bush does can call his job wonderful. The most diplomatic thing he could say (and he did) is that it is “busy”. So it is. And so it goes that when he’s asked to search his recent memory for a pure, true, pastoral, wonderful thing, he comes up with a seven-and-a-half pound bass. That sounds about right.Joe is breaking new ground in the areas of sycophancy, doublethink, and cretinism all at once here. He wants us to believe that the President is so beleaguered by the hordes of his critics that he could not, in five years, have accomplished a single thing he'd be proud enough to stand behind, a single law or decision that he could say, unequivocally, "that was my best moment." It matters very little whether his job actually has bad parts to it; it is his job to create good parts.
If someone asked me what, in my three years here at Dartmouth, was my best moment, and I answered something like, "Mmmmm.... that time I sank the last cup in the championship round of DFP pong," I think I should probably resign from humanity. I have enough autonomy to make something of my life that far and away transcends a totally meaningless accomplishment like a pong victory or a fish caught, and so does the President. To blame his unprecedented record of failure (which he, stunningly, must be somewhat aware of) on his critics is the vilest form of unscrupulous spin I have possibly ever encountered.
Sorry for the rant; I am just incredulous that even Joe could come up with this tripe.
May 7, 2006
What Americans are not aware of, thanks to savvy corporate lobbying and donation practices and the media's selective attention span, is that America also has its own underclass, exploited for the fossil fuel industry. In Raping Appalachia, published in this month's Vanity Fair, we see an incredibly dangerous industry, a form of mining (mountaintop removal) opposed by a majority of the state, a remarkable threat to the lives of residents and the surrounding environment that has killed hundreds already and done untold damage to the region, all perpetuated by unwise and heedless policy at every level of government. The people of West Virginia don't have a Morales, despite how desperately they need a powerful advocate in government. The poverty that persists in Appalachia and the abuse after abuse by the mining industry is infuriating and unbelievable. If anyone gets a chance, definitely read this.
May 3, 2006
Anyway, a little disputation. Enjoy.
--- You wrote:
A reporter's take on the intellectual standards of Dartmouth's immigration rally
--- end of quote ---
Given that you're so concerned about intellectual standards, I would like to point out that the repetitive misuse of the word "xenophobia" and its various inflections in your article robs that word of its actual denotative meaning, which is "fear of foreigners." In describing the College Republicans' opponents as being xenophobic, you are clearly missing the point. Mr. Sangwan's nationality did not seem to be at issue even in the "brown" statement--just his skin color. While I am not condoning such racializing, I would like to point out that conflating xenophobia with race is etymologically incorrect and, in this case, shows a complete lack of care about what words actually mean in favor of a rapid (and, honestly, rather vapid) response. While it is patently obvious that racism is mixed up with xenophobia in the case of immigration here, your word choice is not only incorrect and poor, it is ignorant. You talk about "intellectual sensitivity," and yet you do not even know what the words you are throwing around actually mean.
And while I'm on the subject, please refrain from using the word "intellectual" ever again. Your constant yammering about it voids the word of any distinctive meaning, causing it to fall into a base synonym for "civilly discursive." As I read your article, I began to wonder what kind of person might have such an infelicitous relation to the wonders of varying diction, so I facebooked you. Your two favorite books are the dictionary and the thesaurus. I suggest you become better friends with them.
Also, I would like to point out that the compound noun "collective un-conscience" does not exist. In fact, the noun "un-conscience" does not exist. So much for your "intellectual rigor," Mr. Hayes.
May 1, 2006
a) I am glad to see that many Reviewers or Review sympathizers were wearing their "Indian Head" t-shirts today. It was very good of them to point out that most of us here at Dartmouth are the descendants of immigrants who came to control America through genocide and duplicity. Thank you all for this stunning reminder of the vanishingly tenuous link most of us have to "native" status.
b) Dan Linsalata complained today in the D about how the truancy advocated by the organizers of the event wasted the money of Dartmouth's many kind benefactors. In a spirit of cooperation, I would like to suggest a few other student activities that could be curtailed in order to optimize the use of our benefactors' money. But rather than listing all of them, I'll hold myself to one: ban alcohol from campus and especially from frats. It is an unquestionable fact that alcohol induces students to miss class, and things that make us miss class therefore make us waste our benefactors' money, which is bad. Applying Dan's logic and argument to this, I see no reason why Dan shouldn't be a proud advocate of alcohol bans all over campus. Our parents are not paying large amounts of money, and alumni do not pay larger amounts yet, just for us to get drunk when we feel like it. I think we should put a stop to this profligacy, and I hope Mr. Linsalata, in a show of consistency will support me.
c) Carrying along this theme of thrift and fiscal responsibility, I would like to reprimand whoever threw away their money on this plane:
Couldn't that money have been spent in better ways? Like perhaps more Indian Head t-shirts—you know, something to really say, "white people, go fuck yourselves."