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    Merging Memories – NPR, Fox & the memories they create

    Posted by Ginny on 25th November 2015 (All posts by )

    Our family has trouble with memories, mine is beginning. I figured Trump had exaggerated (as usual) but I, too, remembered,  celebrations (it was all foggy – I couldn’t remember if it was New York or New Jersey – they are all east).  Apparently, my memory has failed- probably merging reports of alleged “tailgate parties” with film from Palestine, as some have suggested he did, Carson did.  But I do remember listening to NPR in my office, leaving to teach and coming back to hear more of what had happened.  Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 25 Comments »

    Man Will Not Merely Endure: He Will Prevail

    Posted by Ginny on 12th September 2015 (All posts by )

    A friend takes joy in the heroic – finding it near home (her father-in-law’s willingness to volunteer his medical service to cities beset by polio in the fifties and in a Viet Nam hospital twenty years later) and farther. She cheers me. Her take is stoic, but toughness nurtures unsentimental appreciation – foregrounding the half-full glass amidst chaos. For instance, last week she described admiration for the curator and archivist Khaled al-Asaad, who, at 82, withstood a month’s interrogation by ISIS, ending in his beheading.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Bioethics, Civil Society, Islam | 5 Comments »

    Secretaries of State march on for two hundred years – but we still count it in feet

    Posted by Ginny on 23rd August 2015 (All posts by )

    I’ve been reading Daniel Walker Howe’s The Political Culture of the American Whigs(1979). It slowly gave me a better understanding, since I started in a complete fog. Like his Making the American Self, here Howe chooses representative figures to give narrative, character & understanding. Just because the book is forty doesn’t mean insights don’t remain. Howe enlivens the Whigs and reminds us our parties still have more than a bit of the Whig & the Jacksonian. But, surprisingly, an anecdote used to illuminate John Quincy Adams reminds us of a spring candidacy.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Religion, Science | 3 Comments »

    Still Too Early – But Perry Makes Some Points

    Posted by Ginny on 6th July 2015 (All posts by )

    Most here haven’t commented on the darting and illusory fortunes of the huge Republican field; I’d mentioned earlier that Perry would have trouble – double or triple BDS syndrome, a bit too much of an Aggie for Texas, God knows for the rest of the country. But that great t-sipper, Kevin Williamson, discusses the case for Perry after a strong speech. That’s worth reading and both Williamson & Perry are worth while.

    Perry’s fighting, turning arguments around to free market principles, to the human: he did this earlier on the relatively friendly Fox’s Chris Wallace. Wallace pressed him on the number of uninsured Texans. Perry didn’t fight him on those grounds but on the far more important, far more serious, and far more consequential grounds of “access.” Access in Texas to health care has risen sharply with Perry’s policies. And, let’s face it, if there is enough access, all the assurances of insurance are pretty useless. Or, as Venzueleans found out, Chavez had promised to meet their every need – government promises of toilet paper and oil were there, access was not.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Entrepreneurship, Health Care, Medicine, Politics | 17 Comments »

    Passing It On – II – The Personal – Or How the ’60s Changed Everything

    Posted by Ginny on 6th July 2015 (All posts by )

    Or, the accurate but revealing title, How Moments Lead to Life Time Prejudice, Unmoved by Research

    I loved literature classes. My general fecklessness led to reading 17th century prose on night duty at the mental hospital when I was 20, absorbing little. My choices were seldom sensible – at first I had the excuse of being 17, of hitting college when the world changed fast – but still, I matured slowly. Few I knew experimented with drugs, but we successfully screwed up our lives without them. Simply put, my judgement was lousy in men, jobs, and energy/time management. But I loved going to class (not, mind you, always doing the work – I often hadn’t read the assignment). But in the hot world of adolescence, especially in the sixties, the cool calm of walking into a classroom ordered my days, gave me a separate peace – quiet, cool and cerebral. It challenged my mind as the world outside my emotions.

    That’s why I keep distance. My friend describes my teaching as cool – well, yes. I address students by their last names. I’m not their friend nor entertainer; I don’t want to offer me but the work – deep and textured and lovely. That’s where our eyes focus – on the text. So, that old model persists. Harvey Mansfield’s address notes that formality has its place, signals respect.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Education, Lit Crit, Personal Narrative, Society | 10 Comments »


    Posted by Ginny on 3rd July 2015 (All posts by )

    I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
    You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

    John to Abigail Adams

    2015 – May all Chicagoboyz and readers have a safe and joyous Fourth.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Holidays, USA, Video | 2 Comments »

    Passing It On – I – The Pedagogical

    Posted by Ginny on 2nd July 2015 (All posts by )

    Some comments here criticized lectures. I doubt that medium is as central as the comments imply. Few who teach skills depend only or even mainly on lectures. Lecturing itself has been marginalized. The passion for “critical thinking” is a theoretic good, but, naturally, pedagogical studies emphasize method over content, new & theoretical over traditional. But, I would argue, lectures are designed to clarify content & connections, to model critical thinking. They are useful. (I’m not getting into content – the understandable complaints about that are topics for another day.)

    Not surprisingly, my defense is defensive. I lectured. Apparently I conveyed passion but could also elicit boredom. For some, that love made a bad class bearable, for others, it was meaningful. Most bubbled in positive but not extraordinary evaluations. Probably some felt I was nattering on, then socked it to them on the test. And lectures let minds drift. But I lectured.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Customer Service, Education, Lit Crit | 10 Comments »

    One Moment in the Eighties

    Posted by Ginny on 29th June 2015 (All posts by )

    David Foster writes of the “reset” button. I wanted to thank him in a comment, but it lengthened. And as he begins with the mistranslation, I should begin with an apology: I still know no Czech. But a memory from the eighties came so powerfully, I wanted to share it.

    In those years, we hosted various musical and academic visitors. My language incompetence was a difficulty: fluent English wasn’t always an aid in getting those visas. Often a scholar or musical group was substituted for the requested one; visa granting was erratic and subject to bureaucratic whims.

    But I remember vividly a group sent to a conference, around 1983 or so. One of the local Czechs, a family dedicated to the language (the father had taught Czech at A&M, his brother at UT), invited them to visit their farm. The folk singers were given tea and cake; sitting in the farm’s front yard, with grasshopper pumps near the house and broad land and skies behind that, they chatted. But then, they stood and began singing acapella with deep and strong voices an old hymn – one they knew well, but never sang at concerts, they said. The resonance came from their hearts. I didn’t know the language and decades have come between. Perhaps it was this one (or this) . If not, the simplicity and clarity were similar. It was a breathtaking moment.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Music, Personal Narrative | 10 Comments »

    One Observation, Another Perspective

    Posted by Ginny on 15th June 2015 (All posts by )

    Magna Charta is such a fellow that he will have no sovereign.
    Coke: Debate in the Commons (1628-05-17).
    A Catholic perspective.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Haiti – Then and Now

    Posted by Ginny on 3rd June 2015 (All posts by )

    In freshman composition, I often devoted part of a class to short essays. The arguments I chose for focus interested me – probably more than my students. One was to write an essay prompted by an axiom or song lyric. Generally it may not have worked in terms of academic writing, but writing is writing. and a few years ago, one student responded to this Proverb:

    “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Human Behavior, Obama | 8 Comments »

    Herman on Scooter Libby

    Posted by Ginny on 31st May 2015 (All posts by )

    Arthur Herman, often referred to here, describes in Commentary the context of the pursuit of Scooter Libby. I am curious about how those more knowledgeable than I see the article.

    But, aside from his central argument, I was struck by the remarkable picture with which he closes.

    On October 11, 2003, when the media witch hunt in the Plame case was at its height, there was a Cabinet meeting at the White House. When reporters were invited in to ask Bush a question about the investigation, Bush said he wanted anyone in his government who knew who had leaked Plame’s name to speak up. Sitting a couple of chairs away was Richard Armitage, the man who had done it. Sitting beside the president was Colin Powell, to whom Armitage had confessed days earlier.
    They said nothing—and kept silent for three long years. By the time Armitage admitted publicly that he had been the leaker in September 2006, Patrick Fitzgerald’s monstrously successful and spectacularly dishonest war on Scooter Libby’s job, reputation, finances, and legal innocence was well on its way to its morally depraved triumph.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Crony Capitalism, Human Behavior, Iraq | 15 Comments »

    The New Criterion’s Crankiness is Well Founded

    Posted by Ginny on 16th November 2014 (All posts by )

    Two (almost) dead horses at once: the humanities establishment and Obama’s mis- and un-educated view of his responsibilities from The New Criterion,, which can get cranky but isn’t wrong: Instapundit links Mark Bauerlain’s “Humanities”. Flog away he does, but that’s because dead or not establishment academics still educate the next generation and even now some see Obama as a defender of art and light.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Obama | 17 Comments »

    Off Topic – Prompted by Jonathan’s Remarks

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2014 (All posts by )

    Jonathan’s post reminded me of my daughter’s remarks this afternoon about her acquaintances and our musings about an increasingly polarized student body – the religious and the anti-religious. In the sixties, we weren’t religious but valued it. Today, students are either fervently anti-religious or, more often, quite religious. This may be place – the Midwest isn’t Texas – but I suspect it’s temporal as well.

    A more conservative version of Judaism attracts some of our friends. My daughter says the Missouri Synod attracts more Lutherans in her Lutheran city; here the Westminster Presbyterian grows and PCUSA loses ground.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Human Behavior, Religion | 10 Comments »

    Old Source, Old Complaint, New Op

    Posted by Ginny on 19th September 2014 (All posts by )

    Lancet Letter – City Magazine’s take.

    Posted in Israel, Medicine, Middle East | 5 Comments »

    Steve Fromholz, R.I.P.

    Posted by Ginny on 20th January 2014 (All posts by )

    Steve Fromholz died in a hunting accident this week-end. One of the Austin songwriters of the seventies, Fromholz perfected a kind of tough lyricism. The laconic irony was caught in a tag from that time – “a rumor in his own time.” But he was a rumor with legs. His influence on the next generation is obvious in works like Lovett’s.

    Fromholz was named poet laureate of Texas in 2007, four years after he’d suffered a stroke and then retrained himself in his art. Perhaps best known for the narrative precision of the Texas Trilogy, which captures the tough (and often rewarding) life of ranching in dry places. Here is a version of the lyrics. It’s hard to get some of those lines out of your head; they reverberate because they work, somehow, intensely; they give us a warm strength (“and cattle is their game and Archer is the name they give to the acres they own . . .”) thinking of those resilient characters.
    Another obit. And another.
    Lovett saw him as mentor and they share that ranching/literary background.

    Posted in Music, Obits | 4 Comments »

    Bowdoin: In 1825 & Now

    Posted by Ginny on 7th April 2013 (All posts by )

    I don’t know much about Bowdoin. This seems, unfortunately, to be expected. I like the donor’s response – the president’s petty grandstanding is an overreach that motivates. Smugness enrages.

    Today we skim over Longfellow, but once readers looked forward to his next narrative poem as an event. Longfellow also took academia and his languages seriously – developing a modern language program at Bowdoin; Harvard then drew him away to develop a similar program for them and he did. As we read a poem or two, I mention his Morituri Salutamus. Longfellow’s theme is similar but he hasn’t the power of Tennyson’s Ulysses. However this occasional poem is personal; his classmates, the classes of 1824 and 1825, at Bowdoin were some of his closest friends all his life. While he was the most popular American poet, a classmate and friend was Hawthorne. The novelist also remained intensely grateful and loyal to Franklin Pierce; a friendship begun at Bowdoin lasted until Hawthorne’s death. A fourth gained his fame more indirectly: Calvin Stowe’s interest in theology was shared with the famous Beecher family; his wife became a novelist with the broad audience Longfellow found. Clearly all were shaped by those years at Bowdoin.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Internet, Lit Crit | 20 Comments »

    Maturity Makes the Student (and the student debt-free)

    Posted by Ginny on 28th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Heather McDonald discusses the choices in job-rich (& self-reliant fly over) Idaho. My syllabus argues if students find themselves not doing the readings, they should probably rethink taking my class. Our lives are enriched by scholarship at certain ponts – at others, it can be a distraction from living. Perhaps lectures are difficult to follow, I observe, because of dehydration after a night in Northgate’s bars. But I’m serious, offering a couple of anecdotes – like a student whose 48 hours of F’s in their teens were followed by life; he came back in his forties, ending with a Ph.D. Unusual, but not all that rare. Neither those bars nor classes slept through are useful ways to spend years of intensity, energy, growth. And, even at our bargain prices, this wastes money.

    A student this semester said that paragraph may have led to drops. Well, okay, the purpose is to wake them up – so they don’t drift through another class, getting an untransferable grade. I counseled too many students on their fourth semester of such work.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Education | 13 Comments »

    Consumer Question – 23andme

    Posted by Ginny on 7th December 2012 (All posts by )

    The musings on the random and tragic nature of life remind us of how little we know – and control. But it reminded me of the marketing of a step toward more control: how good are the DNA products? My daughter’s friend, visiting for Thanksgiving, sent her spit to 23andme. The results included a genetic tendency toward weight-related diseases, which led her to a diet and gym membership. Not surprisingly, it linked her with her mother, but also with a cousin neither she nor her mother knew existed. They met, looked each other over, compared notes: they were cousins.

    Anyway, she sat in our living room flipping through her smart phone (it gives monthly updates); she was vulnerable to diabetes but less so to Parkinson’s. Genetic weaknesses are becoming obvious as we near retirement; unfortunately, we learn our vulnerabilities at every office visit.

    Still, has anyone done this or similar ones? How accurate, how useful, and how much does this (or do others) add to the cloud-knowledge of genes & disease? (Other friends used a different site, but learned what human history would say – that they were both from England and before that Africa.)

    Of course, whether it is worth the money or not, whether it is accurate or not, ignores the big question: does such knowledge lead us to believe we have an autonomy still not – never will be – ours? Will knowing more of “who we are” mislead or arm us?

    Posted in Biography, Blegs, Science | 5 Comments »

    R.I.P. – Brubeck

    Posted by Ginny on 6th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Dave Brubeck, whose music’s wit so delighted my parent’s generation – died at 91. He reminds us of another era, when smoking meant subtle lights in a dimmed room and when pauses spoke as couples in quiet clubs paid thoughtful respect to a music that moved and innovated and then returned to its roots before launching out, reaching out, again.

    The obituaries seem fewer – he played long into a different culture. But Brubeck and Theolonious Monk and Jerry Mulligan were the sound tracks of the Baby Boomers’ parents and remind us of a vision that took notes, creating again and again a new order, a new beauty. Improvisations are grounded on Youtube: the interaction between musicians and an engaged audience lost, they remain to explain that time and those people. As the sixties became the seventies, we thought the fifties plastic, conformist, simple. All those vinyls my father loved remind us it was more complicated than we knew – perhaps because they were, themselves, like the music -laconic, cerebral even. Elvis and the Beatles, rock and country – for decades they all lived side by side with Brubeck.

    Born Dec. 6, 1920, Brubeck grew up on a ranch, planed to become a veternarian. He died Dec. 5, 1912 in Connecticut. His life appears full and generative: New York Times, NPR. YouTube from the Times.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Music, Obits, USA | 6 Comments »

    Rousseau, A Golden Past, & the Academic as Luddite

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2012 (All posts by )

    This was a comment that got out of hand. It is not a great point, but I do think that some of the academic response to – well, everything – is at once more complicated and simpler than sometimes posited here.

    Sure, academia is turf building – and this really didn’t happen until faculty moved from teaching 3-5 classes at all levels to only teaching upper level and teaching 1-2 a semester. (And we probably don’t want to get into “Studies” and “Centers”.) You don’t have time to build turf with the old loads. We certainly don’t at our jr college, where everyone but administrators teach 5, all teach mostly freshmen, and even departmental administrators (to departments of 100 in schools of 13,000 students) teach a class or two and have no secretaries. (I will say that we are an unusually hard-working or, perhaps, an unusually hard-worked campus, but we appreciate one another. We have to – nor do we give “walks”: if we are in the hospital, someone covers.)

    Research university faculty sometimes loses its ability to communicate with generalists, let alone freshmen. Intense publish or perish standards sometimes led to superficiality and new theories for the sake of “newness.”

    I would argue, though, that Schumpeter’s theory, as I understand it, does have remarkable relevance. So does modern criticism’s alienation from the Scottish common sense guys and alignment with Rousseau: they are Luddites who fear change. The word progressive to describe such thinkers is preposterous.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Markets and Trading, Tradeoffs | 1 Comment »

    An Uncomfortable Thought

    Posted by Ginny on 29th September 2012 (All posts by )

    “They” say Romney is grasping at straws; another “they” says Obama spends far too much time in some states to indicate those electoral votes are safely tucked away. I have no idea; I know what I want to believe. And it isn’t my impression people are flocking to become Democrats.

    I remember 1972, though, and despite the impending landslide few candidates acted with greater insecurity. (1960 might – understandably – have prompted paranoia.) Just saying.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics, Polls | 33 Comments »

    A Rant – but I’m Tired of the 6:00 News

    Posted by Ginny on 24th September 2012 (All posts by )

    “Third party payer systems are always inflationary.” Steyn points to one of those truisms Obama seems to have never understood. Subsidiarity is another. Someone from Romney’s background knows that – knows efficiency, responsibility, community – with every fiber of his being because this is his life – as Shannon so solidly summarizes below. It isn’t just that Obama doesn’t take care of his blood relations and Romney has long stretched that responsibility out to increasingly large communities. He knows what fulfills him and what works. He probably also thinks it is good. What are we doing with a president that can’t even imagine such responsibilities?

    I want to hear my president talk and to have a sense that he doesn’t see
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Elections, Obama | 24 Comments »

    Grown Ups

    Posted by Ginny on 16th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Our culture has developed restraints and rewards for maturity. Robinson’s letter to those on the Mayflower noted that as important as not “giving offense” was not taking it. We know the litigious mind – often the goal is less money than moral power. We hear the tattle tale sister, the battles over space and goods of pre-schoolers. We’ve sublimated the healthy desire for justice into our judicial system and have grown out of the petty battles of childhood. Maturity comes when we move responsibility into ourselves as often and much as possible. What others think or have or do isn’t important – the choices we make to build our lives is.

    The great gift of our tradition is individualized responsibility. (Look at how Winthrop or Bradford accepted material hierarchies but consistently saw souls as equal; a community bound by the ligaments of love was likely to have unevenly proportioned parts, but the toe was no less a part of the whole than the heart.) Individualized responsibility also comes from our belief in the universal spirit – influencing much else in our country’s history. A century or two passed and these beliefs were give a form more political than theological and defined as inalienable rights.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Law, Political Philosophy, Society, Terrorism | 3 Comments »

    Brown Shirts

    Posted by Ginny on 15th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Reynolds’ tone is usually light, a bit ironic; this entry has trouble reaching that objectivity – but I assume someone whose day job is explicating the Constitution (or who knows history) may have trouble achieving distance. Hell, I teach a couple of the Federalist Papers and do. Of course, spending the summer acccidentally watching a lot of WWII propaganda movies hasn’t helped. (Last night was The White Cliffs of Dover.) Or maybe it has. History repeats and repeats – and it only takes a generation or two to educate Airheads who don’t know the history of their grandparents, let alone any farther back.

    Anyway, if we re-elect this guy, we have proven that we don’t know our history, we don’t know history, and we don’t know ourselves. That is clearly true of the execrable journalists. The Boomers are getting old; we remain divided. But do any of us think that this is the way a great country acts? Do any of us think the obsession not with what Romney said nor with what Obama did and did not say but rather with the gotcha questions appropriately represented this country’s values?

    (I don’t know what the “Just Unbelievable” category is really supposed to be – if it doesn’t fit, Jonathan, change it and take out this line. On the other hand, what better sums it up? Don’t talk to me about Japanese internment. I don’t want to defend it, but I can – that was human nature. This is the nature of a police state.)
    Steyn Barone

    Posted in Just Unbelievable, Politics, Terrorism, The Press | 94 Comments »

    Another Tragedy – Another Perspective

    Posted by Ginny on 12th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Borlaug saves, Greenpeace kills.

    Posted in Bioethics, Environment | 4 Comments »