Thursday, August 04, 2016

Thursday morning things

* The front of Raven is done and I am excited for this project again. (And I think I will have enough yarn: the sleeves are skinny and form-fitting, I have just the upper back/sleeves/neckband to do and I have more than half the yarn I started with left).

I've decided to rename it Red-Tail, because I'm not using black yarn (it was named Raven because of the yarn color) but I kept waffling on what to actually name it because "little brown job*" while amusing, doesn't quite fit because

a. wrong shade of brown, most lbj birds are a dull tannish brown, not a red brown
b. I am not describable as "little," especially not, ahem, "up top."

(*A standard birder shorthand for one of the many small sparrows/warblers that is hard to identify because small, dull colored, and fast moving)

But it is kind of a reddish brown, like the stripes on a red tailed hawk. And I kind of like hawks even if most people with birdfeeders don't. I toyed with various owl-names but it's not that close in color to any owl (Well, maybe the red-brown color morph of a screech owl, but I still like Red-Tail better)

* This is making the rounds. I don't know if it's a genuine sign, photoshopped, or made using one of those online sign-generators (I suspect the last):

I joked I needed to remember this for the upcoming meetings I am having to go to. And I realized this morning: not to give myself the courage to share stupid ideas so much, but to remind me that some ideas, even ones shared with a great deal of enthusiasm, are stupid, and I should not myself get so very concerned about some would-be messiah type who suggests some cockamamie thing we can't actually do. I tend to imagine that most people fall for snake-oil; that does seem to be a feature of college campuses: some new fad arises, lots of people who don't actually work in classrooms or labs go We Must Do This Thing Because It Is New And We Must Be Future People!! and everyone runs around like newly-decapitated chickens for a few weeks.....and then the idea fades.

Past examples:

a. "We need to open a lot of new distance sites and have our core faculty drive all over creation to teach at them!"
b. "We need to go heavily to an online presence, that's what students want! Going to class in their pajamas!" (two responses: i. They already DO, some of them, to in-person classes and ii. Many of the students I have advised - a majority, in fact - say they dislike online classes)
c. "We need to EMBRACE the MOOC model!" (No, we don't. One of our strengths is small class sizes with personal attention)

I'm predicting that this fall's fad will be Gamification, with a heavy side of "Look at Pokemon GO!"

Yeah, no. For most of our students (by "our" I mean the majors in my department), the only "gamification" they need is the eventual earning of a degree and the being able to turn the knowledge they've gained into a more interesting/remunerative job than they'd have without it. Then again, most of our students tend to be somewhat more mature and grounded in reality than the average US college student, but faculty/staff who get their ways paid to fancy conferences where things like Catering To Millennials are discussed seem not to see that fact.

*  Vague wondering, because I started reading "Down and Out in Paris and London" the other day: what would George Orwell (or Eric Arthur Blair, the man who called himself Orwell) think of modern welfare programs? He writes of going three days without food because of having no money, of pawning his extra clothing to be able to eat....but finally being able to get a job working 14 hour days as a dishwasher.

Another disconnected observation: it was probably considerably less unsafe to be a man-with-no-money than it would be to be a woman-with-no-money. Then again, the women-with-no-money had one thing many men would be willing to pay them for, if they could justify it to themselves.

The book is fascinating and horrifying: all the bugs, and bugs treated as a normal part of life. And the filth. As much as I complained about being "broke" as a grad student I was never so broke I had to live somewhere with vermin. And I never went more than a day without food, and when I did that, it was part of some stupid plan to lose weight and not because I couldn't buy food.

I also wonder if "benevolence" was less common then? We have a group in my town who provides an evening meal five nights a week to anyone who needs it, and several of the churches offer lunches once a week, and there are food banks and similar. Or was Orwell too proud to go and seek out that kind of help?

(ETA: apparently in reality, Blair had a relative who was supplying him with at least small amounts of money; apparently the penury he suffered was somewhat exaggerated. Hrmph. I find myself thinking of the Aldo Leopold quotation for some reason:

"THERE ARE two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.

To avoid the second, he should lay a split of good oak on the andirons, preferably where there is no furnace, and let it warm his shins while a February blizzard tosses the trees outside. If one has cut, split, hauled, and piled his own good oak, and let his mind work the while, he will remember much about where the heat comes from, and with a wealth of detail denied to those who spend the week end in town astride a radiator."

Oh, I suppose Blair/Orwell experienced DISCOMFORT but some of the bibliographic stuff I looked up suggested it was not nearly as severe as what he wrote. And also, that it wasn't "an Italian" who stole some of his money and reduced him to penury, but a "trollop" he had taken up to his room.....)

1 comment:

CGHill said...

There is no idea too bad to attract the attention of certain segments of academia.