Daily Archives: 19 Jul 2015

How Higher Ed Slit Its Own Throat

While researching a recent column for Al Jazeera America on the “killing of tenure” and what it means for the future of higher education, it became clear that the attempts by conservatives to dismantle the institution of tenure, highlighted by the Wisconsin legislature’s removal of previously statutory tenure protections, are only one component of a much wider array of threats to the profession of teaching and research.

For academics lucky enough to have tenure at an “R-1 research university” — one with “extensive” doctoral level graduate programs and support for faculty research as well as teaching — the erosion of traditional tenure protections is damaging because it threatens not only academic freedom but research and teaching that contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to U.S. GDP. The continued downtrend in funding for university research has paralleled and is tied to the erosion of tenure, academic freedom and shared governance more broadly. All these trends are tied to the corporatization of the university; that is, the increasingly privatized model of higher education which does away with shared governance and tenure in favor of centralized administration and contingent labor, puts profits and the bottom line ahead of the public good, and efficiency and “customer service” ahead of a well-rounded education that encourages critical inquiry and independent thought.

Etc.  And enlightening.

Who Is the Most Human Human?

Is it the white supremacist who thinks he and his white buddies are superior to the blacks, or is it the Black officer who helped the white supremacist to shade and water because the heat was hurting him?  I vote the Black officer.

 Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down.

Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down.

Via the twitter.

Should Men Find a Wife? Theophrastus on Marriage

Theophrastus has this to say on the matter….  buckle your seatbelts:

A wise man therefore must not take a wife. For in the first place his study of philosophy will be hindered, and it is impossible for anyone to attend to his books and his wife. Matrons want many things, costly dresses, gold, jewels, great outlay, maid-servants, all kinds of furniture, litters and gilded coaches.

Then come curtain-lectures the livelong night: she complains that one lady goes out better dressed than she: that another is looked up to by all: ‘I am a poor despised nobody at the ladies’ assemblies.’ ‘Why did you ogle that creature next door?’ ‘Why were you talking to the maid?’ ‘What did you bring from the market?’ ‘I am not allowed to have a single friend, or companion.’ She suspects that her husband’s love goes the same way as her hate. There may be in some neighbouring city the wisest of teachers; but if we have a wife we can neither leave her behind, nor take the burden with us.

To support a poor wife, is hard: to put up with a rich one, is torture. Notice, too, that in the case of a wife you cannot pick and choose: you must take her as you find her. If she has a bad temper, or is a fool, if she has a blemish, or is proud, or has bad breath, whatever her fault may be—all this we learn after marriage. Horses, asses, cattle, even slaves of the smallest worth, clothes, kettles, wooden seats, cups, and earthenware pitchers, are first tried and then bought: a wife is the only thing that is not shown before she is married, for fear she may not give satisfaction. Our gaze must always be directed to her face, and we must always praise her beauty: if you look at another woman, she thinks that she is out of favour.

She must be called my lady, her birth-day must be kept, we must swear by her health and wish that she may survive us, respect must be paid to the nurse, to the nursemaid, to the father’s slave, to the foster-child, to the handsome hanger-on, to the curled darling who manages her affairs, and to the eunuch who ministers to the safe indulgence of her lust: names which are only a cloak for adultery.

Upon whomsoever she sets her heart, they must have her love though they want her not. If you give her the management of the whole house, you must yourself be her slave. If you reserve something for yourself, she will not think you are loyal to her; but she will turn to strife and hatred, and unless you quickly take care, she will have the poison ready. If you introduce old women, and soothsayers, and prophets, and vendors of jewels and silken clothing, you imperil her chastity; if you shut the door upon them, she is injured and fancies you suspect her. But what is the good of even a careful guardian, when an unchaste wife cannot be watched, and a chaste one ought not to be? For necessity is but a faithless keeper of chastity, and she alone really deserves to be called pure, who is free to sin if she chooses. If a woman be fair, she soon finds lovers; if she be ugly, it is easy to be wanton. It is difficult to guard what many long for. It is annoying to have what no one thinks worth possessing. But the misery of having an ugly wife is less than that of watching a comely one.

Nothing is safe, for which a whole people sighs and longs. One man entices with his figure, another with his brains, another with his wit, another with his open hand. Somehow, or sometime, the fortress is captured which is attacked on all sides. Men marry, indeed, so as to get a manager for the house, to solace weariness, to banish solitude; but a faithful slave is a far better manager, more submissive to the master, more observant of his ways, than a wife who thinks she proves herself mistress if she acts in opposition to her husband, that is, if she does what pleases her, not what she is commanded.

But friends, and servants who are under the obligation of benefits received, are better able to wait upon us in sickness than a wife who makes us responsible for her tears (she will sell you enough to make a deluge for the hope of a legacy), boasts of her anxiety, but drives her sick husband to the distraction of despair. But if she herself is poorly, we must fall sick with her and never leave her bedside. Or if she be a good and agreeable wife (how rare a bird she is!), we have to share her groans in childbirth, and suffer torture when she is in danger.

A wise man can never be alone. He has with him the good men of all time, and turns his mind freely wherever he chooses. What is inaccessible to him in person he can embrace in thought. And, if men are scarce, he converses with God. He is never less alone than when alone. Then again, to marry for the sake of children, so that our name may not perish, or that we may have support in old age, and leave our property without dispute, is the height of stupidity. For what is it to us when we are leaving the world if another bears our name, when even a son does not all at once take his father’s title, and there are countless others who are called by the same name.

Or what support in old age is he whom you bring up, and who may die before you, or turn out a reprobate? Or at all events when he reaches mature age, you may seem to him long in dying. Friends and relatives whom you can judiciously love are better and safer heirs than those whom you must make your heirs whether you like it or not. Indeed, the surest way of having a good heir is to ruin your fortune in a good cause while you live, not to leave the fruit of your labour to be used you know not how.

Theophrastus- he wouldn’t be invited to any Women’s Day speaking engagement now.

Today With Zwingli

Zwinglidenkmal_EinweihungNot everyone was a fan of the Reformer.  One event from 1529 illustrates the regular sort of nastiness to which he was subject by the rowdies of Zurich:

On July 19, 1529, Zwingli had had a man put in prison for accusing him of stealing twenty gulden and a pair of spurs. On July 22nd he accepted his apology that the words were spoken while the offender was drunk, and the man was released on a fine of two marks silver and costs (Strickler, Actensammlung, ii., pp. 264, 265).

Accusing someone of theft was a serious thing.  Having the man arrested was perfectly appropriate and accepting his apology a couple of days later was a gracious act which allowed the drunkard to be released.