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    -Samuel Adams

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Faculty first

Faculty members have taken the plunge--into who-knows-what.

The Western Front is reporting (not online just yet) that Western's faculty made the decision to unionize last Thursday (the 23rd). A narrow margin of 16 votes separated the two faculty camps. At least one of my professors has alluded to it since then but now we know: just over half of 584 faculty think they don't have enough status without a union.

Look for continuing coverage as I gather more feedback from select profs.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

We still remember

Students got a dose of reality Tuesday on one college campus. Undoubtedly, many others remain ignorant.

World Net Daily is reporting about a student who got so angry during a speech by Sen. Ted Kennedy, he stood to leave, but not before shouting, "Remember Chappaquiddick!" He will most likely face disciplinary action from Massasoit Community College.

[Paul Trost, 20], was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success.

"Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.
The school administration has yet to act, but Trost has already faced criticism from instructors.
"One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.'

"If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.

"I wanted to send a message to him that my generation still knows about it. We haven't forgotten about it."
Read the complete story at World Net Daily.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Noise from the jungle (vol. IV)

This is a direct continuation of my last installment regarding interesting quotes on campus. From the same professor:

The overarching mold of [media] objectivity is completely unrealistic.
Interesting to say the least, and not totally untrue. But what is to be the replacement if they are not to even bother striving for objectivity as we have expected them to do for so long?

The question is not whether there should be bias. The real question is: "Which bias benefits the largest number of people?" It is strictly utilitarian calculus. John Stuart Mill would be proud.
My immediate response is that the decision he speaks of, to decide what bias benefits the most people, is strictly subjective, and in his teaching methods, he ends up distracting from discussion the merits of his model (public journalism) by taking sides on issues and advancing an agenda through the model.

Clear as mud?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The swig


Having just taken my first swig of any existing energy drink on the market, let me make my utter disgust known to the world. Yes, that's right, it is a sweeping generalization. Since we all understand that coffee is not an energy drink, I don't mind condemning all the other grog-like concoctions I haven't tried.

It all started Tuesday when I was just about to board an elevator in the Viking Union. A student sitting at a window table called to me...

"Excuse me sir," he said with his best car salesman demeanor pinned on top of his ordinary student looks. "Can you identify these cans?"

There he sat, gesturing with a professional flare to his row of seven or so cans, lined up with their backs to me.

"Red Bull," I answered.

"Good job! Here, have you tried it?"

"No," I said. "It's just really caffeinated right?"

"Yes...oh, are you not able to have caffeine?"

I laughed...hard...took the can and stepped into the elevator.

"Good job on guessing," he called after me as the doors closed. I just stood and wondered how desperate I would have to seek his job.

Fast forward to last night.

My coworker Mike and I were sitting for break at 6. I happened to mention the above episode. He was amused--and also surprised. Red Bull is pretty expensive, he said.

"Maybe you should sell that can," he joked. I laughed at the thought of me walking around the Com Building trying to hawk a single can of Red Bull for a profit of 2 bucks.

Fast forward to this afternoon.

I was just contemplating my options for lunch and decided to patronize the Atrium before heading to a computer to finish a past-due mini-project. I picked out a small wrap, and then stood irresolute as to whether I should buy a drink. I didn't want to spend a bundle like I have before (easy to do in the Atrium) on ton of small items. I shook back the inclination toward an apple juice and took my little wrap to the counter. Besides, I reasoned, this might finally motivate me to try that Red Bull sitting in a pocket on my backpack. If I don't like it, I can just dump the rest.

I took a seat, after warming my refrigerated wrap, opened it and took a bite. I then pulled out the can, hesitated for a second, then cracked it open. Out rose the obligatory vapor, designed perhaps to encourage us to subconsciously ascribe some mystical power to this beverage. Oops, I thought, there goes my two dollar pawn profit.

Two more bites and I grabbed the can and downed a mouthful... It was gross. Accuse me of not having an open mind, of being a coffee snob--I don't care; this had one of the most sickening aftertastes ever. I even tried several more swigs just to be sure I wasn't just fooling myself--no, I still got the impression I was drinking caffeinated chemical-heavy perfume. I think it is no coincidence they put these words right below the top on the opening side (where you are sure to see it as you move it toward your face):
Improves performance, especially during times of increased stress or stain. Increases endurance. Increases concentration and improves reaction speed. Stimulates the metabolism.
Hmmm. Perhaps, but maybe not today.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

DePaul University: an unending saga?

DePaul University has become a common target for student rights organizations such as FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). The most recent outrage to provoke angst is DePaul's suppression of an Affirmative Action bake sale (yes, the College Republicans had one here last year, as have many other CRs on universities across the nation). Here's an excerpt from the FIRE press release--it includes info on past FIRE interventions:

Earlier this month, DePaul University shut down an “affirmative action bake sale” protest, and is now investigating a student organizer for “harassment.” DePaul’s latest offense against liberty follows its 2005 dismissal of a professor for arguing with pro-Palestinian students and its censorship of students’ peaceful protest of controversial professor Ward Churchill. With this incident, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is intervening at DePaul for the third time in less than a year.

“DePaul cannot seem to resist punishing its students and professors for expressing their political viewpoints,” stated Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s interim president. “Fighting repression at DePaul is becoming a full-time job.”
Indeed, reading up on DePaul's habitual repression is almost eye-popping. After so many campuses are finally starting to understand the concept of free speech, DePaul is a throwback to single-minded, single-sided suppression of dissent and guardianship of political correctness.

Noise from the jungle (vol. III)

Mid-terms today in the BH class--the first for me this quarter.

In preface to this volume:
Honestly, I hope I haven't given the impression that I hate Professor BH's guts. That would be a misinterpretation of my frustration. Indeed, I think BH and I respect each other as human beings--he knows I have "differences" from the many hints I've dropped (and perhaps from faculty informants:), and we have even found time to joke about it.

Whether this bit of jungle culture can be described as "noise" is beyond me, but, for what it's worth, here is the main essay prompt on today's mid-term (for some limited context, read volume II):

Define hegemony and explain the role of qualitative research, including the Chicago School method and textual analysis, in exposing hegemonic messages to the public.
Upon completing what I hope was a comprehensive answer, and since the question left no room for disagreement, I included a little postscript that read (under the heading "ignore this when grading please"):
...and having said all that, I must say that I think most of the above is bunk.
I'm depending on his respect for academic honesty and perhaps his sense of humor to forgive me for taking that little bit of liberty.

Moving on...

Whither reform

At the risk of going way out of range of university issues...here's a little national perspective.

Candidates for the House majority leader position are courting the right people: Rep. Mike Pence and his Republican Study Committee. For those who don't know (there are many) the RSC is the truly conservative bloc in the Republican party responsible for getting the first budget cuts we have seen in a long time after Katrina finally gave them an excuse to push some pork-busting measures.

Two of the majority leader candidates (minus Roy Blunt--not a big loss), have sat up to answer questions from the RSC. This if hopefully a strong sign the party, in general, is going to allow greater RSC influence in congressional affairs--they are the only group with the ability to save Republican credibility on spending issues.

Read Tim Chapman's article on Townhall.com for details of the RSC questioning--and a greater sense of what the future holds.

Crossposted at Meneltarma