Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alumni Relations

Having spent six years at the University of Virginia (with a two year break for military service) I have many fond memories of that institution and Charlottesville.  I also recall its considerable shortcomings such as its refusal to admit women to the undergraduate college until after I graduated and its still limited admission of African-American students, not to mention its devotion to sports (like every other college in this nation).  So I am not a dyed-in-the-wool alumni booster.  Nor do I spend much time thinking about what's happening there.

But the recent attempt by a small coterie of the Board of Visitors to fire the university president, Teresa Sullivan, after two years on the job grabbed my attention.  It's been a front page story on the Washington Post website daily for over two weeks and the more I read about the reasons for Sullivan's dismissal, the less justified it seemed.  Sullivan's opponents never gave a coherent argument for seeking her dismissal, offering instead vague statements about philosophical differences couched in B-school platitudes.  The lack of coherence and failure to communicate with the university community led to a firestorm of opposition.

Two weeks on, the Board finally took a vote and, amazingly, voted unanimously to reinstate Sullivan.  I don't know if Sullivan is or is not ultimately the best president for the university but I do know that the Board acted precipitously and arrogantly in its secret deliberations.  I'm pleased to see that they finally came to their senses.



Misanthopic Musings

The most recent dead tree version of The Nation arrived the other day with a couple interesting observations.  An editorial about the Rio + 20 summit noted how difficult dealing with climate change is for a capitalist world where consumption and profit are a primary motivation.  I am a pessimist about the likelihood of any effective solution.  It has the upside that the human species might vanish from the planet or be sufficiently diminished so as to no longer be a threat.  The downside is that we will take most other species along with us.  For that reason alone, it is worth pursuing the mass actions needed to prevent the planet from becoming far less habitable.

It also reminds me yet again of the failure of My Generation.  We came of age during the time of the first Earth Day with dreams of saving the environment.  Forty years on, we are senior citizens who not only failed to live up to that dream but also bought wholly into the myth of capitalist accumulation.   We have lived well as the planet slowly succumbed to our excesses wrapped in the myth that we could deal with systemic environmental problems, just not now when it could be inconvenient.

Katha Pollitt discusses the fact that 46 percent of Americans are creationists, noting that almost half of the nation rejects the overwhelming evidence of evolution.
...[R]ejecting evolution...relies on a fundamentally paranoid worldview.  Think what the world would have to be like for evolution to be false.  Almost every, scientist on earth would have to be engaged in a fraud so complex and extensive it involved every field from archaeology, paleontology, geology and genetics to biology, chemistry and physics. 
We are a society of fools.  And while it is certainly just that we reap what we have sown, Mother Earth and the many species who also share this planet have done nothing to merit the fate that we have prepared for them.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Gear. Old Gear.

Finally bought a good swing away bike carrier and a solid hitch for mounting it.  No more dissassembling the bikes to fit them in the camper.  With the swing away I can opent the back end with out removing the bikes.  Very nice.

Today also proved the value of my helmet.  My bike slid out from under me as I was dodging washboard cracks on a wet, mossy trail near The Evergreen State College.  I cut just a bit too sharply and went down on my right knee and shoulder and slammed my head on to the pavement.   My helmet took the hit and saved what's left of my brain.

No serious injuries as far as I can tell.  I was able to ride another six miles with Maggie around the Evergreen campus and vicinity but wisely canceled my plans to ride an additional six miles home from there.

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The Cost of Doing Business

Military training chant: 
"War is our business and business is good!"

But not so good if you or a loved one is an input:  military families speak out about post deployment suicide. 

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