Month: April 2010


Harman has this post up on the funniest (grim humor, I suppose) on the Middlesex problem. (I should say, though, that since Freelancer Extraordinaire has read the book of that title and talked it over with me, I’m really trying hard to find other ways to put that.) Someone wrote, “First Athens sins against philosophy; now Middlesex administration.

My analogy, however, is less to ancient Greece, but to modern Greece. Our problem in academia is that philosophy and the humanities in general are expected to have a tightfisted monetary policy like Germany, while other business-minded programs actually spend away like Greece (n.b., I’m not saying anything about Greece’s economic policy, just siting the common wisdom). Thus you have at many business schools in the US business assistant profs making more than full professors at other parts of the university. And the “profits” of the humanities programs goes to help fund just those type of programs. You’d think we were the ones living it up and partying like its 425 BCE, but it’s the grim tasks of the modern day Meletus to accuse us of both costing too much money even as we run profits that help fund these other programs.

We will always be a cheap bunch: Socrates just needed some sandals and somewhere to amble. We just need a decent salary and a room somewhere, and maybe some money to publish a journal. We don’t need labs, we don’t need fancy software and CEO-like salaries, and yet the tuition to be one of our majors is still the same.

On a Lighter Note

Harman discusses how much someone would pay to ride the NYC subway. Well, as a native New Yorker, I must say that this tells you how much things have changed. During the early 90s, NYC subways were horrific for all the usual reasons. One never left without the lingering smell of piss and grit. But that somehow gave NY character, like the smell of the stale pretzels from the sidewalk vendors and the NY Post blaring headlines never far from view on the local news stands. But pay for this experience? As a Disney… Disney! … ride? Things have changed. But not that much: take the IRT at 5:15 packed in like … well … like the sardines that the guy whose wet armpit your nose is pushed into smells like. Then add the fact that the train inexplicably stops for 15 minutes between stops with the lights off, just to give a push over the edge to the claustrophobes in the train. Then add in the wanna-be Wall Streeter on his cell phone yappin in your ear about how his Cousin Timmy from da Bronx just killed on that deal…

Sniff, I do miss that city…

Incidentally, JFK is a horrendous airport. But the newish JFK airtran is pretty good, and it’s better than the old days of switching three trains with luggage to get to the airport. Then there’s LaGuardia, which still lingers on long after its best days from the 60s are over.


Like everyone, I’m just utterly confused by the outrageous closure of an entire programme. We are used, in the Liberal Arts, to such double-handedness. Essentially, we’re told we’re out for value, but then, of course, you find out that other programmes (British spelling purposeful) end up being more costly, such as in Business, etc. And that means that what they really value is business and other professionalized programmes for their own sake. Such closures are a threat to us all, not just those, like me, who have gotten so much of that particular programme and the publications of its faculty.