Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quiet Is Not The Same As Inactive

I tell my students that the prime reason to get a college degree is to be able to land a job where you can work in A/C during the summer months. I was brought up not to be afraid of hard work --I just became averse to sweating on anything other than my own terms.

I am teaching what amounts to beyond-a-full load: six classes. That's a lot for a regular term, so you can imagine how draining it is for the summer, which is compressed into two five-week terms. June and early July saw me teaching non-stop from 8 to 3:30, with no prep period and very little lunch time (plus it was more draining than high school, since there was no time for group work, worksheets, grading, etc. to break the routine). I have it "easier" this part of summer, I don't have to start until 10:30. And don't forget, that does not include time at home on the laptop, doing prep and grading things.

But the money is good, and damn if I don't actually enjoy doing what I do. Little time for blogging, and for that I express my regrets.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

If Not The Nation, Then The Idea

It's obvious, isn't it? No one "automatically" deserves special treatment. Everyone can live, be free and do what they need to do --and no one can take that away. The whole reason government exists is to make sure of that. And if it can't --or won't-- then it should be changed so that it will, or else eliminated. (Me, in class, just the other day)

It has long been fashionable to criticize --from the Left and from the Right--the nation known as the United States I mean, look at every bad thing under the sun --racism, sexism, statism, classism, corporatism --and inevitably we can say, "it's America's fault!" And I myself am not entirely convinced still that we're ever going to get it completely right.

But the very second we throw out the inspiration --in that instant that we forget those immortal words, we are no longer men. We are the servants of whomever takes command, be they lefties or righties. And our children, too, for ever and ever, and they will damn us for it.

No, the United States hasn't always been great. But the idea behind it is ultimately more powerful than anything else yet mortal man has created. Make very loud noise tonight with pyrotechnics. Give thanks and rejoice. Share the blessings of liberty with your family and friends. And let no one deny the power of these words, the translation into 21st-Century-Studentese I gave above:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

When Next You Obsess About American Obesity, Consider This As One Explanation

CARPE DIEM: As Share of Income, Americans Have the Cheapest Food in History and Cheapest Food on the Planet: and especially consider the point made about wholesale milk prices. Think of how much cheaper still milk would be if we eliminated dairy subsidies! Choke on that, "oh, big agribusiness is horrible for everyone" folks!

[Yes, we can quibble about hormonal additives and genetic engineering of the American diet, very true. But the infrastructure is nonetheless in place: we could be super-groovy-healthy in a matter of years without significant food price increases --thanks to agribusiness]

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