Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sadly, I have no evidence that he ever read the Peter Principle, either....

The Galbraith Revival by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal Winter 2010: (which is worth a complete read, by the way...)

There remains, however, an astonishingly gaping absence in Galbraith’s worldview. While he is perfectly able to see the defects of businessmen—their inclination to megalomania, greed, hypocrisy, and special pleading—he is quite unable to see the same traits in government bureaucrats. It is as if he has read, and taken to heart, the work of Sinclair Lewis, but never even skimmed the work of Kafka.

For example, the chapter entitled “The Bureaucratic Syndrome” in his book The Culture of Contentment refers only to bureaucracy in corporations (and in the one government department he despises, the military). Galbraith appears to believe in the absurd idea that bureaucrats administer tax revenues to produce socially desirable ends without friction, waste, or mistake. It is clearly beyond the range of his thought that government action can, even with the best intentions, produce harmful effects.

I have a very good friend, sadly a convinced neo-Keyensian, who starts with my same basic premise, i.e., most people simply aren't that smart, and comes to the completely opposite conclusion about the nature of government and economics. Sad, really. He, as Galbraith does, fails to see the very nature of the beast, even as it is so eloquently described.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Why I Must Never Commit A Crime and Go To Prison in the 7th Circuit

The Volokh Conspiracy » Blog Archive » 7th Circuit Upholds Prison Rule Forbidding Inmates to Play Dungeons and Dragons. I must remember to use my Ring of Invisibility while there...

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Jeez, I've only been at this a couple of years...

....and I could've written this piece: Reflections of a Community College Professor. Listen to this:
So what else do I know? I know that I still give tough exams. Or at least I know that some students think that I give tough exams. One of the reasons I know this is because students have told me as much. Others tell me this less directly by writing me notes at the end of exams. In fact, sometimes their notes are a good deal longer than their essays. I won’t go so far as to state that I have experienced an epidemic of such communications, but there certainly has been a trend. Sometimes these notes are actually apologizes for their poor performance. More often than not, they are not so veiled attacks on yours truly...
Yes, I still do have students who will do very well on my exams. But in recent years I have had far too many who do—let’s be honest—abysmally. They simply don’t have a clue. And there are many more in this category than in my A category. What’s almost worse is that I also don’t have what was once that critical mass of average students, those good old-fashioned C students, those decent, if less than fully committed/engaged students who did a middling amount of work, maybe even a less than average amount of work, and who nonetheless got that average (but now disdained) “C” grade.

This is worth a thorough read. Once college becomes like high school in toto, the separation of society into the proleteriat and the ruling elite will have taken a huge leap forward. Technocracy here we come!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Am the Middle Class?

The Context Of Middle-Class Frustration:

It’s clear that the middle class is the great enemy of collectivism. Only they have the combination of voting power, money, and economic self-interest to see the growth of government as undesirable, and provide effective resistance. They generally view their interactions with government in a negative light – they’ve all spent time in the Department of Motor Vehicles mausoleum, spent hours wrestling with tax forms, or been slapped with a traffic citation they don’t think they deserved. They understand the inefficiency and emotional instability of government, and instinctively resent its intrusion into their lives. A health-care takeover is the best chance collectivists will ever have of persuading the middle class to vote itself into chains… but for the better part of a century, they’ve been able to hear the hammers of the State ringing on the metal of those chains, in the forges of taxation and regulation.

This is an awesome article, and I thusly repost it.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

My Kind Of Conference

The Cronk of Higher Education » Conferences:

Higher Ed Tech Conference 2010: Networking for a Better TomorrowFebruary 29, 2010, Maui, Hawaii

Do you spend most of your office time online? Are you surrounded by technophobes at work? Do you need to work on your tan? We have the conference for you!

Pre-Conference Program:
How to Look Like You’re Doing Work When You’re Really Doing Facebook.”Learn to download applications that disguise social networking sites so your nosy boss will think you’re working on this year’s learning-outcomes assessment report.

Morning Keynote:
I used to be a Twit, and now I’m a consultant!”Motivational speaker and pretty boy Brad Spader tells how he rose from a tenure-rejected professor to a higher ed hero by writing 150 tweets per hour and presenting at every higher ed conference in existence. Brad will be signing his new book, Be Almost as Blond and Good as Me, at lunchtime.

Afternoon Roundtable:
Networking 2.0”Bring your Blackberry! We’ll drink coffee, exchange Twitter names, FB friend each other and talk about how lame MySpace is.

Each conference attendee will receive a certificate that says you’ve won a prestigious award for “Progressive Use of
Technology to Improve Higher Education” in case your supervisor ever questions the amount of time you spend on AIM.

Make your reservations now. Conference programs are only one day, but we will provide publications that list a 3-day schedule so you can feel free to book extra time for additional “professional development.”

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AIYEE!!! Leave My Schedule Alone!

Being "full-time" means being able to shape my schedule with more-or-less a sense of impunity. I no longer have to grovel for courses, and I am at liberty (to a point) to grab courses that aren't already assigned to more senior staff. However, the one thing to which none of us has a defense is enrollment. Overall we're doing quite well. However, individual sections do suffer.

Such has been the fate of two of my classes. I was told yesterday that they had vanished. POOF! "But it's early in registration! Those classes will make!" But to little avail. I was able to retain my local history section on the grounds that it is a "required" course that is not taught every semester --and I'm the only instructor on-site who teaches it (heh...). That worked for that one section. Alas, however, I will be teaching the Dread 8AM lecture two days a week. At least it's not all the way across town, like the Dread 8AM from the fall.

I know that being in academia can spoil you: "Oh how horrible, Mojo, you have to be at work at 8AM and you only have three hours between sections to get to the gym and back again. Boo hoo hoo..." Why, yes, I can hear the World's Tiniest Violin playing just for me! But I do try to schedule things so that I can actually see my family in the morning and at night, and still have time to hit the gym. I do possess the right to jack adjuncts out of their sections, but being not so far removed from that place myself, I try hard not to do it.

It's a mantra of mine: Always Remember The Adjuncts. They carry the loads, they get squat for pay and recognition. Bless each and every one of 'em, they need it!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Feisty and Irascible

So I was at a meeting of my fellow historians within the system. And we were Debating Great And Weighty Matters. And one of my colleagues (at a different branch) remarked on the importance of content-based knowledge thusly: "I watch Glenn Beck every day and I know we need to teach content to correct the misinformation that's out there, especially from that man!"

And I muttered sotto voce, "I feel the same way listening to NPR!"

One of my mentors did a spit-take and leaned over and said, "Mojo, remember that you're outnumbered here..."

"That's okay, there's only nineteen of them and one of me, and I'm being laid fifty-to-one. I'll take it all day long!"

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Maybe I Ought To Have Gone Into Coaching...

On Letting Education Interfere with Football « NAS Blog: "[If] athletic programs are autonomous businesses, then the NCAA is nothing other than an illegal cartel designed to suppress the pay of athletic workers (aka “college athletes”). If, alternatively, college athletics are an integral part of the university’s mission, to be justified solely in terms of their contribution to the education of students, then there can be no rationale for paying coaches and trainers more than full professors — indeed, more than the president of the University."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How Professor Mojo Took Off 7-10 Years In About 40 Seconds

Combined, not sequential (but occurring within 24 hours of each other):

1) Using new beard trimmer, thinning mustache and reducing beard length to 1/4" from 2"; approximately 30 seconds elapsed time;

2) Going to gym, ran into an acquaintance whom I had not seen in some time, who remarked, "Man, you're getting really ripped. What's your secret?" Ten seconds.

If I had had a coed make a pass at me today (happens about twice every three years, on average), I'd have made it 10-15 years. But as Mrs. might not have approved, I'll be content.

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Friday, January 1, 2010