Category Archives: Attempting to Stay Sane

Combat Narratives

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We seem to have a limited vocabulary with which to describe cultural phenomena. For instance, when my wife and I bought our house, we converted an unused loft over the garage into my pool room. A room of contemplation and meditation, a room in which the pool table itself was… Read more »

Oversimplifiers of the World, Unite!

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For years, I’ve made the case that every faculty member plays three roles for their students, even without knowing they’re doing it. There’s the teacher, the person who introduces students to the material of a field and the rigor of its investigation. There’s the supervisor, the person who takes an… Read more »

A Job I Can’t Imagine Wanting

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I have two good friends who have both recently become college presidents. One visited last weekend. And as part of a long and wide-ranging dinner conversation with her and her family, blessedly little of which was about higher ed, she did happen to mention that she’d discovered how much money her… Read more »

Stack of Futility

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I took my trash and recycling down to the local transfer station this morning, chatted with Glen our dumpmaster about our coming plans for large waste and scrap metal collection day (a town official’s work is never done). One of the things Glen does is to take things that others… Read more »

Bureaucratic Blues

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It’s increasingly evident to me that accreditation is an instance of Oscar Wilde’s observation about “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Wilde used that as his definition of a cynic, and accreditation increasingly feels cynical to me. Bureaucracies are almost by definition cynical enterprises. They have to… Read more »

Ready to be a dandelion?

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I’ve just been pointed to science fiction writer Cory Doctorow’s blog post in which he claims that the characteristics of intellectual work in the Internet age (ease of duplication and transmission, immediacy of reach, lack of reader focus and followthrough, an immense ocean of choices) means that artists of all… Read more »

Another Burden of Administrative Life

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31 and 38

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I’ve been writing a lot of fiction in the past few years, mostly stories of men who’ve reached a point of comfort and stability in their lives, and find it a little hollow. And without my intending it, all of my protagonists have been the same two ages. Robert is 38. Clay is… Read more »

Post-Dissertation Support

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Every summer, a friend and I lead a writing workshop for faculty at a college near Baltimore, helping their teaching-focused faculty develop journal articles, convert dissertations into books, and write grant proposals. Along the way, I’ve learned an infinitesimal amount of chemistry, enough nursing practice to be better able to… Read more »

Sectarian Violence

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The comedian Emo Phillips performed a routine (click that link) that has been voted the greatest religious joke ever written. Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?” He… Read more »