Hosting Haikus

My hosting service, isn’t perfect, I guess – they have had an outage or two (though in one of those all of downtown LA was out). However, they never cease to amuse me. This month’s newsletter is entirely written in Haiku:

Why can’t I connect?
Everything used to be fine.
Is my server down?
I recommend ’em – the service is entirely adequate for my purposes, the Help response is swift and helpful (for my purposes), and you get newsletters!

How Much Education? Well, a Ph.D. might be too much.

Here’s the posting at Angry Bear that set off Winterspeak yesterday that encoruage me to say “interesting!”. Megan’s commented on it now, quoting the sad old joke:

Q: What did the English major say to the Engineering major after they graduated?
A: You want fries with that?

I guess this is the most important part of Angry Bear’s post:

This reward to education has grown over time. For example, a Census Bureau summary of major economic trends in the US over the past half century reported that the median income of workers with at least a Bachelor’s degree was only 35% higher than those with only a HS diploma in 1963. By 1997 that premium had risen to 88%. And in 2003 the earnings gain from having at least 4 years of college was over 100% of a HS graduate’s earnings, according to the data cited above.
Perhaps most strikingly, this massive increase in the relative wages that firms pay for a college education has happened at the same time that the supply of college-educated workers has exploded. In the mid-1960s less than 10% of individuals in the US had a college degree, compared to about 20% in the mid-1980s and about 30% today. We can only conclude that the demand by firms for relatively well-educated workers has grown even more dramatically than the supply of such workers, which is to say, by a lot.
(Kash’s emphasis)

That’s what folks are talking about. I’m very much interested in this final paragraph:

Regardless, it seems beyond dispute that the way to succeed in the US economy today is to get more education. And with each passing year, this is only becoming increasingly the case.

Is more always better? Is there a good place to stop? I had one of those conversations about graduate school with my senior seminar yesterday (you might remember that I went to listen to a presentation about Jan van Eyck rather than reading Kash’s post immediately). My refrain is “I loved it, I’ve been lucky, I think I’d do it again, don’t you go, there are no jobs!”
I don’t worry too much about our students who go on to museum studies sorts of degrees (though I wonder if they’d be better off with an MA in art history and an MBA) but I find it very difficult to recommend folks to Ph.D. programs in good conscience. That’s not the question the econobloggers are concerned with, but it’s the question that I begin thinking about every time.
The credential creep upward is matched by credential devaluation at the bottom — and I’m sure readers can guess my opinion about what came first, a dismissal of high school diplomas as meaningful or the actual meaninglessness of most high school preparation in America. When is my line of work, BA preparation, going to be dismissed as preparatory? Not long, I fear.

College Costs vs. Expected Earnings

I don’t have time to read the posting that set Megan Winterspeak off (seminar starts in minutes – Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Whatever The Hell It Really Is attracts me more than arguments about college graduation and earnings – imagine that!), but over at Asymmetrical Information I read this:

I would also add that the falling expected wages of a high school diploma have also greatly reduced the cost of a college education. While college tuition has outpaced inflation for several decades, the gap between what a HS diploma holder and college degree holder can hope to earn has widened dramatically. The opportunity cost of going to college is now much lower than it used to be, both in foregone wages while in school and in the wages you would have earned had you not gone to school at all.
The question is whether or not the reduced opportunity cost of getting a college degree makes up for the increase in the cost of the degree itself, making college more of a bargain today than it was in the past. I’m too lazy to calculate it all out, but if anyone wants to take a swing at things in the comments, they are welcome


Umm – don’t we already OWN some art? Permanent Collection Shows

Here’s an idea – show the museum’s permanent collection! Just think – no loans to arrange, no special insurance, no last-minute research on unknown pieces (well, assuming we’ve done our research as we go along).
The link goes to an interesting article in the Washington Post about the Hirshhorn and the Walters reorganizing their permanent collections as special shows, and what the Phillips is up to when its collection comes home from a long tour during renovations.

” ‘Gyroscope’ was invented as a device to draw attention back to the collection. And the way to do that was to call it something,” says chief curator Kerry Brougher. In recent years, he says, the balance between special exhibitions and the permanent collection has gotten out of whack across the whole museum world. “Gyroscope” was meant to set things straight: For a few months every year or two, it would let a sexy new selection from the permanent collection take over the entire museum, without competition from other curated shows.
The permanent collection “is what we’re really about, fundamentally,” says Brougher — the “spine” of any art gallery. But each of the 10 art historians, curators, gallery directors and museum-studies scholars interviewed for this article worried that today’s glut of special exhibitions may be close to breaking some institutions’ backs. Museums have taken great efforts to tend and build their permanent collections. Most own far more art than they could ever show at any given time. And yet these treasures hardly matter to a generation of art lovers reared on temporary exhibitions.
(my emphasis)

Lots more folks from lots more museums are quoted in this very interesting article.

Curses! Foiled Again!

I swear that at some point this semseter I looked at the library catalog and confirmed that we had a copy of Prospero’s Books on VCR or DVD. I swear. Oh, well. Wrong answer. I’ve put out an email plea to the faculty listserve to see if anyone has a copy I can borrow. I’ll have to teach The Tempest without it.
The Tempest is a great work to end European Studies 101 on. Just to remind you, here’s the reading list:
Gilgamesh, tr. Herbert Mason
Hesiod, Theogony
xeroxes of Greek lyric poetry
Plato, Syposium
the Gospel according to Matthew
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Rutebeuf, the Play of Theophilus
Machiavelli, The Prince
Shakespeare, The Tempest
All kinds of themes get revisted, reworked, tied up, untied, and generally exposed here at the end. Yesterday and today I’ve been playing with questions for my students about the love-relationship between Ferdinand and Miranda, which will recall The Symposium and Genesis. They’re already doing a homework assignment that asks them to think about Prospero as a ruler, which had better bring back Gilgamesh, Abraham, and Machiavelli. Prospero’s relationship with spirits (and with his predecessor Sycorax) can remind them of the scholar making a pact with the devil in the Play of Theophilus (a pre-Faust). All in all I can hardly devise a better way to finish things off – but I still want the Greenaway version!

Ealing Studios – Right Film

Well, not rightist, necessarily, but certainly anti-bureaucrat, anti-government economic control, and anti-union.
Yes, dear readers, I broke down and watched Passport to Pimlico this afternoon – my mood needed a boost as the holiday weekend drags on. That or I’m avoiding reading The Tempest for Monday. A mix of the two?
Passport… is about the accidental rediscovery in 1949 London of a charter granting sovereignty over Pimlico to the Duke of Burgundy — and Pimlico promptly secedes and ends post-War rationing at once (remember, rationing went on in some form until 1954 as class war by economic means replaced total war in Labor Britain). The real villains are Whitehall bureaucrats, and the result is instructive. If I had a category for Little England I’d choose that. As is, Fiction will have to do.
The Titfield Thunderbolt, which I haven’t watched yet (and haven’t seen since I was about 18), is about plucky underdogs standing up the nationalized railway to save their rail connection to London. The Man in the White Suit is about a man (Alec Guiness, a frequent star of these pieces) who invents a wonder fiber that can’t be dirited. The unions and the big manufacturers do their best to stop him — and don’t seem to be unwilling to kill him to do so; the ending is very sad, in a way, as are all of them.
I don’t know (or really care enough) about British film history to know who was behind all this, but I like his plucky politics.
Ealing Studios Comedy Collection: The Maggie, A Run for Your Money, The Titfield Thunderbolt, Whisky Galore!, Passport to Pimlico.
The Alec Guinness Collection: Kind Hearts and Coronets* (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Captain’s Paradise (1953) (only available in this set), and The Ladykillers (1955). If you liked the Tom Hanks Ladykillers at all you owe it to yourself to see the original.
*”I shot an arrow into the air,/She fell to earth in Berkeley Square.” Worth the price of admission.
[Amazon links do NOT put any money in my pocket.]

Movies and me

You know, I used to see a LOT of film. Movies. Celluloid [my two readers who went to college with me might remember the distinction we used to make]. Sometime around 1995 I gave up movies for Lent, and it took.* There was a time in grad school when people would ask me what to go to on a Friday night and I’d know — I’d have a rating based on their personality types. Not any more. The last interesting movie I saw was Murderball. I failed to see a couple of movies I actually wanted to see this year — I don’t seem to have the urge anymore. I rewatching a 1986 movie this afternoon (Manhunter, the first Hannibal Lecter filmicization**), and the main competitor was something out of the two Ealing Studio box sets I’ve bought this year (Passport to Pimlico was looking attractive, but I’m more in a suspense mood). I’ve also bought some Fellini and a bunch of Pasolini this year. I wasn’t melancholy enough for those or for Breaker Morant or Gallipoli, which I also picked up this calendar year. I really don’t have a lot of dvds. I think about ’em, I put ’em in my Amazon wish lists, but I seldom buy ’em.

*That’s the only thing I’ve ever given up that took, by the way, but at least I have one example of reform to help me believe that other things might change.
**Manhunter has the charming feature of having the Hannibal Lecter scenes set in the High Museum in Altanta — the distraught Will Petersen runs down the zig zag ramp after talking to him the first time. The blind lab tech love interest lives next door to where I lived at the time (from 1984-1990, off an on, I was in the 1100 block of Briarcliff Road; she lives in the buildings a block closer to Emory). Omigosh! The smoking! The male lead and the incredibly cute wife both smoke.

How to rebuild after a hurricane

So what do you do after a hurricane blows away your house? The State of Mississippi is hoping people will rebuild in local styles and is giving away a pattern book for it:

Next week, the Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, which was organized by the Mississippi governor, Haley Barbour, will begin giving away free copies of “A Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods.”
The 72-page pattern book details the basic features of traditional houses and, starting with a letter from Governor Barbour himself, strongly urges people to replicate them as closely as possible as they rebuild.

I’ve got to get my hands on this item of the New Urbanist conspiracy (neocons in architecture?).

Amazon Recommendations From the ‘sphere

I tell you – you order a couple of books by notable bloggers as Christmas presents and the recommendations go wild! I do NOT want to read a book about blogging! I do NOT want to read ANOTHER book about blogging! Thank you, I’d really rather not read any book slapped together out of the collected columns of an op-ed type (which, as we all know, is what almost every book written by op-ed and humor types are). Of course I’m stuck with dozens of books about classical world sex right now because I ordered a few for my honors student to read; I need to go in and uncheck that as a recommendation generator, too.
And no, I’m not going to link to the books that I’ve ordered because SOME relatives read the blog on occasion and I don’t want to give anything away.