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March 27, 2009 - 6:52pm
Comedy, it’s been said, is made possible by incomplete understanding. If one fully understood another’s suffering, the story would turn tragic. The difference between the two might be deemed a problem of translation. Readers often judge literature and drama by sum or end-game: If there’s a predominance of comic elements or the work ends in marriage, it’s comedy. But life isn’t often like this, despite our eulogies—how should we feel about the sum of Sam Clemens?—and neither is good writing.
March 26, 2009 - 8:45pm
My daughter came home the other day with words that made my Math Geek heart leap for joy. She told me that she is going to start learning “sub-crack-tion”. It seems that in the race between nature and nurture, nurture had just pulled ahead.
March 26, 2009 - 8:31pm
Last night, after dinner, as The Wife, The Boy, The Girl, and I chat in the family room: TW: You know, TB told me that the girls fight over him at recess. DD: Really? TB (smiling): Yeah. (pause) TG (puzzled): Why?
March 26, 2009 - 4:52pm
I'll admit to being a little bit anal when it comes to math. I'm not sure "anal" is the right word, but I do expect numbers to make sense and people who can't make sense of numbers to stay as far away from them as possible. So, I want to squeeze in one last "the press is so stupid" post before the month is through.
March 25, 2009 - 9:51pm
During this sabbatical year I promised myself that I wouldn’t even *think* about teaching until the summer. After all, this is my chance to focus exclusively on scholarship. I am enjoying the opportunity to focus on one project, to read a new book in its entirety, to work uninterrupted. However, as our university plans the fall schedule I’ve begun to think about my return to the classroom.
March 25, 2009 - 9:43pm
In discussion with some colleagues from other colleges, I realized recently that different colleges handle 'stopouts' very differently. 'Stopouts' are students who interrupt their degree path, and then return. From a curricular standpoint, brief stopouts during which curricula don't change are no big deal. Someone takes a semester or a year off, then picks up where she left off. We can handle that.
March 25, 2009 - 5:52pm
I was in a grocery store checkout line last week. The woman in line ahead of me had two children with her: a small baby and a girl about three years old. As I started unloading my cart, I heard the three-year-old informing the cashier, quietly but firmly, that she was not a princess. I was, of course, immediately impressed with the kid's firm grasp on reality. (On the other hand, three-year-olds can be very literal-minded.)
March 25, 2009 - 4:09pm
A theme in budget reduction processes in some states is an enthusiasm for cannibalizing some institutions in the hopes of keeping others from suffering the effects of a state revenue reduction. This is of course a highly political issue, not easily resolved by rational discussions because the number and type of public universities and community colleges in a state reflects the accumulation over a long time of decisions by elected political representatives.
March 25, 2009 - 8:07am
Earlier this week I came across this old Time magazine article, which reminded me of an interesting character, Dr. Theo Colborn.
March 24, 2009 - 9:32pm
I'm increasingly convinced that one of the most common flaws of so many administrators is a misguided urge to be nice. This often manifests itself in some long-undiagnosed but longstanding performance issues hitting a crisis level, but with a paper trail of relatively positive evaluations. The managers explain the positive evaluations with variations on “I didn't want to upset them.” Grumble.

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