It’s Sheep We’re Up Against

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American
 Elite & The Way to a Meaningful Life
William Deresiewicz

Each of us has an Achilles’ heel, so I find no embarrassment in sharing mine: I’m a sucker for almost every form of biting the hand that feeds you. It’s comforting, somehow, to know that as operating modes go it’s an evergreen.

Admittedly, some corners of the world offer a safer refuge than others for hand-biting. As long as they Continue reading


Wandering Early and Late

Here we go, again

No, that’s not me pictured at right, but it pretty much sums up my recent state of being.  A path beckoning. Family close at hand. The year withering.

I actually take great solace at this time of year. Despite the sinking temperatures and paucity of daylight, there’s something Continue reading

By Intelligence You’ve Got to Swear

Thoughts on a Brouhaha in Academia

Casual readers be warned, this is one of those occasional posts about matters of little import to everyday folk. Normally that includes you and me, but in this case I’m invested, for reasons I hope become clear.

Anyone who spends more than a nanosecond on social media (or any Fox outlet for that matter) has no doubt stumbled across some bit of outrage being stoked on a Continue reading

American History and Practical Math

The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions
Andrew Hacker

Let’s be honest: math can be terrifying. I’m not an engineer because I couldn’t wrap my head around integral calculus.

But I  know some things about myself. One is that when it comes to math–the kind they care about on standardized Continue reading

A Good Job in the City

A Big Life (in Advertising)
Mary Wells Lawrence

big-lifeFall, it seems, exists so I can renew myself. I know, the light is dying, the sky is more likely to be gray than blue and the nip in the air will soon turn to unwelcome arctic blasts. Why that seems to turn me back to the literature of my trade will have to remain a mystery.

Enough about me, let’s talk about Mary. Continue reading

What’s in a Name?

mortarboardIt’s graduation season and so the chattering classes have taken their annual turn towards dissecting what’s right and wrong with the American educational system. This year, as it has for a while, the subject of choice has been the cost of a college education and whether it is worth it.

I have refrained from addressing the cost issues of college head on. Readers Continue reading

Send My Credentials

The Credential Society: A Historical Sociology of Education
Randall Collins

Credentials. It has such an authoritative ring, doesn’t it?  You can almost hear the man asking to see yours.

CollinsAnd why shouldn’t it? The root–cred–is from the Latin credere which means to believe. So you get all those great, strong words: creed, credulous, credulity, even street cred. It all boils down to the same thing: it’s safe for you to believe in the idea or the person at hand.

Randall Collins might  ask, is it really? More specifically, he might ask that Continue reading

Emily, David, Dave (and me)

Perpetually late to the party, that’s me.

This week, the party I’ve missed is the furor over a June 16 post by Emily White at All Songs Considered. My friend, the singer-songwriter Marc Farre , called it to my attention along with retorts from two of my favorite musicians, David Lowery and, in response to him, Dave Allen. It seems that the original post and the disagreeing between other bloggers and commenters made for a regular rhubarb.

As so much virtual ink has already been spilled, let me avoid the main fray. I want to stipulate a few points up front made by each of the three bloggers noted above. First, no one has ever purchased all their music. If you’re a fan you tape, you borrow, you listen at the library but you don’t buy everything. Emily may have a proportion problem but none of us is without sin. (For the record, I have paid for all the Continue reading

Your Hairdresser Has More Going on Upstairs than You Knew

The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker
Mike Rose

A snapshot of how things get on my radar.

Sunday night, late August. Homeward bound from Long Island. My wife suggests we make a quick stop at the supermarket on the far side of the GWB. I agree and stay in the car with the sleeping child. Searching the Sunday night radio ghetto for something, anything, to pay attention to. Music exhausted I turn to WNYC and find a show with a weird title for public radio in this market–Speaking of Faith.

Faith is one of those words that always catch my ear so I stuck around. And I was glad I did. What ensued was a nearly hour-long conversation* with Mike Rose, an academic at UCLA with whom I was unacquainted. Rose studies education but initially it was his back story Continue reading

Two Tales from the Front Lines of Capitalism

Two things that appeared on the radar.

Ian Frazier in 2010 Photo by Larry D. Moore via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve noted the skinny on Sandy Frazier before.  Well, he’s added to his repertoire in the February 6 issue of The New Yorker. In a piece entitled Out of the Bronx, he looks at the impact of private equity. Specifically he looks ta the acquisition of  Stella D’Oro, a longtime maker of specialty baked goods, by a private equity firm, Brynwood Partners.

The business press allows for a limited number of hatchet jobs, usually on agreed-upon miscreants. That makes sense–readers don’t like to be told what they’re interested in is bad, wrong, evil–and Continue reading