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July 16, 2009 - 8:09am
My daughter is at the age where she likes to hear stories about my childhood. “Tell me a story about little Aeron and little Deirdre,” she begs. They all begin in the same way: “Once upon a time, in a town called Buffalo, New York, there were two sisters…” I tell her about the Christmas when my father surprised me with grown-up platform shoes, when I barfed all over my sister after Thanksgiving, and of the mean tricks I played on friends. Anecdotes turn into fairy tales. I shorten and modify them to be entertaining but not frightening.
July 15, 2009 - 9:21pm
In the discussion after the post about counteroffers a couple of days ago, several commenters raised the issue of salary compression. For the uninitiated, 'salary compression' typically refers to new hires coming in at salaries higher than those of people who are already working there. It can happen pretty easily if internal salaries are based on pre-set, lockstep raises, but the rate of change in the outside world has been faster. Incumbent employees usually perceive salary compression as unfair, since people with less seniority are getting more money.
July 15, 2009 - 6:08pm
Scott McLemee's recent consideration of the writer Isaac Rosenfeld in his IHE column, Intellectual Affairs, reawakens my own long fascination with Rosenfeld's life and work. Scott titles his piece Dangling Man -- not only the name of Saul Bellow's first novel, but also a description of the sort of person Rosenfeld, Bellow's lifelong friend, turned out to be:
July 15, 2009 - 5:14pm
According to a paper appearing in the International Journal of Global Warming, the problem isn't greenhouse gases. To be more precise, it isn't only greenhouse gases, or even mostly greenhouse gases. If the authors are right, the problem is heat.
July 15, 2009 - 3:24pm
My husband and I got a babysitter a couple nights ago and we went for a walk around a popular Washington stated vacation destination for wealthy boaters: Roche Harbor. This resort is on the other side of San Juan Island from the Friday Harbor Marine Biology Labs, where we’re spending our summer. Walking around, we appreciated a new addition this year to the resort grounds: a series of signs indicating and annotating landmarks with historical value: “The Lime Kiln”, “The Chapel”, “The Workers’ cottages”.
July 14, 2009 - 11:02pm
I just got the first details on President Obama's American Graduation Initiative, his project intended to almost double the number of community college graduates in the workforce by 2020. It will take some time to work through it all, but some initial reactions:
July 13, 2009 - 9:37pm
I don’t do counteroffers.That’s not just a quirk of mine; my college doesn’t do them. It’s a policy I’m happy to follow.The question comes up whenever somebody respected on campus gets an offer elsewhere. People always seem a little surprised when the answer to “so-and-so got another offer – what are you going to do?” is something like “wish hir the best.” But it is, and that seems right to me.
July 13, 2009 - 9:07pm
It's a commonplace to joke about the linguistic divisions between the English and Americans. We may share a language, American TV and movies may own the globe, and computers may make instantaneous communication throughout the English-speaking world possible, but we still have trouble, sometimes, making ourselves understood to each other. I find myself saying “pardon?” just as often as I hear it from shopkeepers and telephone service folks myself—it's particularly hard to make yourself understood over the phone, I find, absent body language and gesture.
July 13, 2009 - 5:10pm
According to a release from the Center for Biological Diversity and associated groups, Dow has applied to test sulfuryl fluoride to see how well it sterilizes agricultural soil.
July 12, 2009 - 8:35pm
Sometimes words don't mean what they seem to mean.We had a lovely vacation in a part of the world we'd never visited before. Our neighbors stay there with some frequency, and we met up with them for dinner one night. They have two daughters, one of whom sometimes babysits TB and TG, and the other of whom is entering her junior year of high school this Fall. Her mother is trying to get her to add some clubs and activities to her schedule, to improve her college applications. A snippet of the conversation:

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