Videos of the day

So, most of you have already probably seen this flabbergasting Herman Cain ad.  If not, check it out.  I’m not even sure what to say about it.  What amuses me most is how many people actually think it is a parody of a Cain ad.  That’s presumably not what you want people saying about your ads:

When I showed that in class today, a student asked if I had seen the Ed Lee 2 Legit to Quit ad.  Nope.  Damn do I love it.   And oddly enough, at the time of this posting it’s only got 319 views when it deserves hundreds of thousands (at least if you appreciate MC Hammer from back in the day).  Very good stuff:

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Chart of the day

Where do kids get their sport fan-dom from?  Dad (via NPR).

Here are the numbers. One of Wann & Co.’s questions — asked to a group of grownups — was who had “the greatest single influence” on your first choice to become a fan. The answers are broken down by gender. (I’ve included only the significant categories.)

Well, like my dad, I’m a Duke,  Redskins, and Orioles fan.  In my case, my mom was also a fan of the first two (and not much of a baseball fan at all).  Despite my degree from OSU, I’m also still a Michigan fan because my parents– especially my dad– always were (they went there for grad school).  So far, David’s sports fan-dom extends to being a huge Duke fan.  Not sure if I’m a strong enough fan of anything else– or if David cares about any other sports other than Duke basketball enough– to make a further impact.  Will be interesting to see.  Also curious to see if Evan– long the youngest and hence the obvious rebel of the family– chooses to not like Duke out of spite.  I can so see him doing that.  The story speculates on why this gendered impact is so profound:

Why Does Daddy Prevail?

Not because he stomps and threatens like the dad in the video whose tongue, I suspect, was firmly in his cheek, but because sharing a team with your dad is a point of connection for both sons and daughters. Dads are more emotionally remote than moms, except when they’re watching sports, and that’s the crack in the ice that kids naturally choose to exploit. If Dad laughs, cries and high fives about the Red Sox, his kids are going to use the Red Sox to laugh, cry and high-five with him.

Possibly true, but I think they are ignoring the fact that, on average, men/dads are much more passionate sports fans than women/moms.  I’m sure not an emotionally remote father and neither was my dad, but I still loved sharing fan-dom with him as David does with me (and Kim, just a less passionate Duke fan).  I will say, sharing a passion for Duke basketball with David has been one of my favorite things about being a Dad.

The Value of a Liberal Arts education

Well, I’ll tell you what it’s not.  It’s not wasting two hours of the time of 15 or so faculty members to discuss such matters as whether “Native American Literature” meets a US Diversity Co-requisite requirement.  Or debating the grammar on a proposal to likewise have my “Gender & Politics” class qualify for that co-req.  There’s two hours of my life I’ll never have back. Today, I said that, on principle, I would not discuss any of the application of a course which so obviously meets the diversity requirement by its title alone.  So, that’s not the value of a liberal arts education.  What is?

You may have heard that the governor of Florida Rick Scott (a man elected governor despite the fact his company had defrauded Medicare and US taxpayers out of millions of dollars) wants to essentially defund liberal arts in Florida public universities.  Like any state, Florida should be graduating more engineers.  And they surely do have all the actual Anthropologists they need.  However, they may still benefit very much from producing more anthropology majors (its not like most of them go on to be actual anthropologists) as social sciences are excellent for teaching critical thinking skills, which, obviously, are useful in most any job and discipline.

In fact, I’ve been reading a really thought-provoking book, Academically Adrift for a faculty book club.  The authors argue that we are basically failing at teaching our students critical thinking.  That said, some parts of universities fail more than others.  Yglesias recently re-produced a chart looking at this by major:

Not bad, I’d say.  I’ve got a strong suspicion that if you pulled out the humanities from the social sciences, the latter would score even higher.  And as for business, you can see why I don’t have a lot of respect for undergraduate business majors (besides the fact that students think this is just some path to riches).

Of course, when I’m wasting any  time on whether African-American film fulfills a diversity requirement (a trained chimpanzee could know the answer is “yes”) I’m not doing anything to help my students gain critical thinking skills.  Then again, I’d probably just spend the time blogging.

Small business myths

I’m the spouse of a small-business owner.  Heck, since my wife and I are totally financially unified,  you could even call me a small business owner.   But it is nonetheless frustrating to hear Republicans (and many a Democrat) go on and on about the importance of small business.  The truth is, it is large business that drive our economy.  Check this out (via Yglesias):

Hmmm.  Safe to say that the economies of US, UK, Germany, etc., are much better off than the much more small-business-based economies of Greece, Italy, and Portugal.  One thing we do know is that small business owners– Kim Greene aside– are a very Republican demographic.  What they are not, is the main drivers of our economic growth.

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