An article I need to look up for 516…

This is really a message just for me, just a reminder to look up this article. I say that because I know that Collin and Alex have been talking lately of the “value” of scholarly blogging lately, by which I think they mean (or at least I mean) scholarly-types participating in the broader academic discussion. That’s something I might comment on when I get a chance because that’s one of the reasons I write to this blog. But one of the other reasons is to remind myself of stuff I need to look at. So if you’re not interested in this, feel free to ignore it.

Charlie Lowe posted this cite to the tech-rhet mailing list: Barb Duffelmeyer’s “Learning to Learn: New TA Preparation in Computer Pedagogy.” Computers and Composition 20 (2003), 295-311. I’m not familiar with this article, but if it is what I think it is, I should probably include it in English 516 the next time around.

EMU hikes tuition, which might not be such a bad idea….

I just heard on WEMU public radio (and then I found it posted in this press release) that EMU is going to raise tuition 13.5%. Oh, and once again, new prez John Fallon has taken to the WEMU airways to plead his case, something that Kirkpatrick never did.

Now, the down-side of this for students is pretty obvious, and I do agree (in part, at least) with the EMU-AAUP, which is the faculty union: before we raise tuition, the institution ought to cut administrative folks.

But I have to say that this particular tuition increase is probably a good idea, and I think it signals positive things about Fallon. Here’s why:

  • It could have been much MUCH worse. Like I wrote about in this post, Central Michigan raised their tuition 19%, and I’m pretty sure that every other university in the state raised their tuition, too. U of M raised theirs 12.3% and MSU raised their 9.3%, and I think most of the regional schools were somewhere between EMU’s 13.5% and CMU’s 19%.
  • EMU is still a bargain, relatively speaking. According to the press release, “a typical resident undergraduate student will pay $6,540 for 30 credit hours.” Over at that quaint liberal arts college in Ann Arbor (and I’m not talking about Concordia), tuition is around $9,300 for in-state students for the same number of credit hours. (As an aside: when I started at the University of Iowa in 1984, tuition was just over $1000 for the year. When I finished in 1988, tuition was about $1,000 a semester, quite an increase in four years, but a heck of a lot cheaper than tuition now…).
  • Most significantly, a good chunk of this tuition increase is going to go toward a bond to borrow something like $80-100 million for a “classroom facility improvement fund.” What that means is that EMU might finally do something about two very large classroom buildings, Mark-Jefferson (where they teach science classes) and Pray-Harrold (which is where the English department offices and classes are taught, along with a bunch of other classes).

I know there are problems in Mark-Jefferson, but I know the problems in Pray-Harrold more intimately, and I can say with some certainty that it is the among the crappiest academic buildings in this country. I have serious reservations about what “refurbishing” this building might mean. If I were in charge and had no budget concerns, I’d recommend tearing it down and constructing three or four different buildings. I doubt seriously they’ll do that. And I must say that I am not looking forward to the year or two or three of enduring the construction in Pray-Harrold. Lord only knows what that will mean– living in trailers, or, worse yet, trying to work in Pray-Harrold while construction is going on inside the building. But personally, I’m willing to endure a lot if it means having something less crappy than Pray-Harrold for the future.

When might this happen? Well, on WEMU just now, when Fallon was asked “will incoming freshmen see these changes to Mark-Jefferson and Pray-Harrold in their time at EMU?” Fallon responded “Oh, absolutely. This is going to be on the fastest track possible.”

Looks like I might have to pack up the books and snow globes in my office this semester….

"War on 'Milblogs'"

There’s a brief little story in this week’s Newsweek magazine titled “War on ‘Milblogs,'” which is (basically) about the trouble that some soldiers in Iraq have gotten themselves into by keeping blogs.

Kind of interesting in the “things you can do with your blog to get fired” category of things, but quite frankly, I didn’t realize that the internet access for the military in Iraq was that decent in the first place.

Food wars (and other diet and exercise news)

On ABC’s nightly news last night, I heard that Atkins Inc., the late doctor’s company who brought us the “low carb craze,” is bankrupt. I like how these opening paragraphs from The San Francisco Chronicle characterizes the war between Atkins and the “carb industry” (actually, it’s an article that first appeared in the LA Times, but…):

In Boise, staff members of the Idaho Potato Commission gave each other gleeful high-fives when they heard the news. In Houston, the folks at the U.S. Rice Producers’ Association declared “good riddance.” And fruit farmers in the Central Valley said they were “happy to see them go.”

Across the United States, producers of carbohydrate-laden food exulted at the decision by Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based designer of the once popular low-carbohydrate weight-loss program, to file for bankruptcy protection.

You can practically hear the Star Wars battle sound track behind all this, can’t you?

I don’t know personally to what extent the “low carb craze” is really over or not and I am no business expert, but I think the Atkins folks had a business problem that did not have a whole lot to do with their diet: they expanded way too quickly and into too many areas. Instead of sticking to diet books and cook books, Atkins Inc. started to make low-carb foods, particularly low-carb versions of things like pasta. And have you ever tasted that stuff? Nasty shit.

If you’re going to eat low-carb foods, eat low-carb foods. But if you’re going to eat high-carb foods, then eat the real thing. Though aim for the whole wheat.

Annette and I are currently on our own version of The South Beach Diet, which is somewhere between “phase 1” and “phase 2.” We’re avoiding carbs, not eating starches like potatoes, white bread, and white rice, eating lots of veggies, and not drinking alcohol. But we are eating some things like yogurt, fruits, and high fiber/wheat grain breands (things that are no-nos during “phase 1”), and I for one will probably have a beer after golf tomorrow (and probably a hot dog, too– what else are you going to eat on a golf course?) and some wine with dinner over the weekend.

We’ve only been doing this in earnest for a few days and I think I’ve already lost about four pounds, though I think that most of that weight is just post-travel bloat as opposed to real diet losses. I’d like to lose about another seven or ten pounds before school starts in September, but that might be a bit optimistic. We’ll see.

Incidentially, I received an email the other day from a former student of mine (and apparently a regular reader of the unofficial blog here) named David Brandt. David, who took a couple of classes from me in his last years at EMU (I think he graduated), is now studying to be a personal trainer and nutritionist, and he has the diet plan on his web site that he uses when training and body building. It’s worth checking out, and I guess I have two observations about it:

  • The diet David has here is remarkably similar to “phase 2” of the South Beach diet plan. That’s not to say that David copied it; actually, I think that the South Beach people kind of copied people like David.
  • What David is leaving out here (well, he talks about it on other parts of his site) is that he works out a lot. I mean A LOT. I am convinced that when all is said and done, that is really the only way to lose a significant amount of weight and get in shape.

Which reminds me that I need to walk the dog and get at least a little exercise this morning before I get to work on the textbook….

Some changes around here…

Just in case you’re wondering: I’ve decided to work a bit more diligently at adding more links to the column on the right there, and I’ve decided to streamline them into four categories. The “Krause and EMU” and “News” categories are actually static, but the “Blogs” and “Links” categories are not.

Just what counts as a “blog” and what counts as a “link” is a bit of a mystery to me at this point. I think for my purposes here, a “blog” is a site that I read on a regular basis and also one that has something (perhaps just vaguely) to do with academic life. We’ll see how this evolves.