Saturday, December 6, 2014

Quirky Berkeley

A recent New York Times article describes a blog called Quirky Berkeley. It's worth a look.

John Lennon mural, from Quirky Berkeley -  © 2014 by Quirky Berkeley

Railroad tracks, south of Addison

Friday, August 15, 2014

Deja Vu: A Look Back at Some of the Tirades Against Social Security and Medicare |

Bill Moyers on opposition to Social Security, then to Medicare, and now with echoes in the Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Deja Vu: A Look Back at Some of the Tirades Against Social Security and Medicare |

see also:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Too thin to plow, too thick to drink

Shortly after we moved from Buffalo, New York, where we had lived for most of the 1960s, Lake Erie was famously called "too thick to drink, too thin to plow." In the 1970s, the lake was vastly improved by government action, but we are slipping again, as the Toledo drinking water story shows.

Here's a comment I sent on the New York Times story on the recent algae bloom in Lake Erie.

"One small measure that would help -- a ban on residential use or application of pesticides and fertilizers. Lawns are wonderful, but they would grow just fine without sprinklers, fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides if we followed the practices of a generation or two ago. To improve the lawn, add a handful of clover seeds in the spring or fall to fix nitrogen that helps sustain the grass. Mow regularly but not too often. We are ruining our shared environment to outdo our neighbors for perfect lawns."
 What's on your lawn?

Monday, May 26, 2014

New York Times on state university administrator salaries

"Confronted with punishing state budget cuts, the public colleges and universities that educate more than 70 percent of this country’s students have raised tuition, shrunk course offerings and hired miserably paid, part-time instructors who now form what amounts to a new underclass in the academic hierarchy. At the same time, some of those colleges and universities are spending much too freely on their top administrators. . . . 

"The “worst overall offenders,” the study said, were Ohio State, Penn State, the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan and the University of Delaware. . . ."

"Fat-Cat Administrators at the Top 25," New York Times, May 26, 2014.

Europe's Jobs

"The truth is that European-style welfare states have proved more resilient, more successful at job creation, than is allowed for in America’s prevailing economic philosophy. . . ."

Paul Krugman, "Europe's Secret Success," New York Times, May 26, 2014.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Amazon - How Does a Monopoly Behave?

"This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we’re seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company’s willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books — authors, publishers, but mainly customers. . . ."

Farhad Manjoo, "Amazon's Tactics Confirm Its Critics' Worst Suspicions," New York Times, May 23, 2014.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

University Presses Under Fire | The Nation

University Presses Under Fire | The Nation

"The Missouri case starkly illustrates a dual reality about the world of
university press publishing—many university presses exist on the edge,
and a large number of people want them to survive and flourish. . . ."

Screens in class?

"People flipping through electronic pages often retain less of what they read than on printed ones, studies suggest. . . ." 

This past semester, I experimented with permitting my undergraduate students, against my usual practice, to bring the class readings--intended for shared close reading during intensive seminar-like discussion--on their laptops, tablets, or even phones. It seemed clear to me that this had a very bad effect on class discussion--people just got distracted looking at their screens and lost touch with each other and the thread of the class. And now this study--apparently they just did not read as closely on screen as they would on paper. Perhaps technology can solve or transcend this problem that it seems to have created--or, for some uses, perhaps we really do read and mark up on paper, and talk face to face without the distraction of screens and connectivity.

But surely this must depend on the sort of classes I teach, since I am lucky to teach fairly small groups and to teach by discussion of assigned texts. 

See Anne Eisenberg, "Tackling the Limits of Touch Screens," New York Times (May 17, 2014).

May Is for Mowing, Too

Russell Lee, Worker Mowing Grass at the Agua Fria Migratory Labor Camp, Arizona. May 1940. FSA-OWI photography collection, Library of Congress.

Iris Barry and the Art of Film

Robert Sitton, Lady in the Dark: Iris Barry and the Art of Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014).

from the publisher:

"Iris Barry (1895–1969) was a pivotal modern figure and one of the first intellectuals to treat film as an art form, appreciating its far-reaching, transformative power. Although she had the bearing of an aristocrat, she was the self-educated daughter of a brass founder and a palm-reader from the Isle of Man. An aspiring poet, Barry attracted the attention of Ezra Pound and joined a demimonde of Bloomsbury figures, including Ford Maddox Ford, T. S. Eliot, Arthur Waley, Edith Sitwell, and William Butler Yeats. She fell in love with Pound’s eccentric fellow Vorticist, Wyndham Lewis, and had two children by him.

"In London, Barry pursued a career as a novelist, biographer, and critic of motion pictures. In America, she joined the modernist Askew Salon, where she met Alfred Barr, director of the new Museum of Modern Art. There she founded the museum’s film department and became its first curator, assuring film’s critical legitimacy. She convinced powerful Hollywood figures to submit their work for exhibition, creating a new respect for film and prompting the founding of the International Federation of Film Archives.

"Barry continued to augment MoMA’s film library until World War II, when she joined the Office of Strategic Services to develop pro-American films with Orson Welles, Walt Disney, John Huston, and Frank Capra. Yet despite her patriotic efforts, Barry’s “foreignness” and association with such filmmakers as Luis Buñuel made her the target of an anticommunist witch hunt. She eventually left for France and died in obscurity. Drawing on letters, memorabilia, and other documentary sources, Robert Sitton reconstructs Barry's phenomenal life and work while recasting the political involvement of artistic institutions in the twentieth century."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Hyperscribal Society

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Hyperscribal Society: From A week or so ago, on Twitter, Virginia Heffernan introduced me to the word &...

Monday, May 19, 2014

What Administrators Cost University Students?

New York Times: Are our students  borrowing money so that public universities can pay higher salaries to administrators?

"At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.. . ."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Arthur Rothstein, "Fruit tramps from California who have come to the Yakima Valley for apple thinning. Yakima, Washington." July 1936. FSA-OWI Collection, Library of Congress. 

Old Age in Pennsylvania, 1936

Dorothea Lange, "Old Age" near Washington, Pennsylvania. July 1936. FSA-OWI collection, Library of Congress.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Eugene E. White

Our colleague Gene White has died.  Here is the obituary from the Centre Daily Times.

Eugene Edmond White Eugene Edmond White, Ph.D., 94, passed away on February 6, 2014, in Ocala, Fla. Author of more than 40 professional articles and books on Puritan rhetoric and the history and criticism of American public address, Dr. White retired from Penn State University in 1986 as an emeritus professor. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Roberta F. White; son, Eugene R. White and daughter-in-law, Carolyn M. White; and five grandchildren: Alexander X. Wilkens, Jennifer L. White, David E. White, Mark-Jason White, and Jessica S. White. Known as "Hoho" by his grandchildren, he will be missed most for his love and wonderful sense of humor. Memorial services will be held at Roberts Funeral Home, 19939 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Dunnellon, FL 34432 on Saturday, February 22, 2014, at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Hospice of Marion County, Fla.

Published in Centre Daily Times on Feb. 13, 2014