Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More on Higher Education and Employment

Some adjuncts have interesting luck.
How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (Cultural Front) by Marc Bousquet and Cary Nelson (Paperback - Jan 1, 2008)

That is the book behind the blog: http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/

I have serious doubts about whether or not he is right, but it offers a different perspective.

For a valuable comparison:
Bottom line, PhD programs are not usually a good alternative to law school, though the PhD in business is (average pay ~100k a year, seven positions for every five graduates, most graduate without significant debt -- it is also a great alternative to an MBA).

For more: http://phdproject.com/

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Real Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

Lets get serious and skip the old wive's tale. Here is the recipe for the cookies they serve in the Zodiac Room in downtown Dallas

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
half a cup of softened unsalted butter
2 large (not medium) eggs
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt (why they don't use salted butter and adjust this, I don't know)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup of sliced and toasted almonds
3/4 cup of cranberries
1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips

Start the oven heating to 300 degrees F. Prepare greased cookie sheets.

Cream the sugar and butter together until they are fluffy. Combine the eggs and almond extract at low speed.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat the mix into the butter mixture on low speed, scraping down the sides as you go. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Spoon onto the cookie sheets and flatten a little.

Makes two dozen cookies, cook them each for about 20 minutes.

Caveat (lawyerspeak for warning): 241 calories per cookie.

But that is the real recipe.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trusting God in Spite of Confusion

The parable of the iron rod struck me in its description of the mists of darkness that afflict the faithful after they have seen the goal and received the word of God. At first it seemed a warning that event the faithful can become lost, but on reflection, it more describes the experiences of both Peter and Paul in the Bible.

Consider Peter's confusion at the crucifixion of Christ and then his surprise at the resurrection. From the gospels we know that it was not that Peter had not been told what to expect. But, because of his context, he just did not get it. I know, most teenagers I meet can't believe Peter was that dense, but then there are many things that the same teens just do not get.

Or think about Paul, while he was still using the name Saul. He tried so earnestly to serve God as Saul persecuted the saints. He really did not get the point until the Christ himself appeared to him to discuss the issue. The same thing would happen when Paul prayed for relief from the thorn in his flesh.

As far as I can tell, we just lack the context (the life experience, knowledge, perspective and vocabulary) to really understand God many times. No matter how clearly it seems that God is communicating in hindsight, we lack the ability to fully understand. It is easy to see similar problems when we try to communicate with infants, children and teens. But it is hard for us to appreciate the things we can not understand because we lack the context. We can not see our own lack of vision.

What I am really discussing is understanding our own blind spots. It is realizing that just as infants, children and teens (and other people) have blind spots, so do we. In facing the decision of whether or not to trust God in spite of the confusion our blind spots cause us when He speaks, we encounter life and are surrounded by paradox.

As an aside, one thing that surprised me when I visited my parents in Saudi Arabia was the humidity. I walked off the plane and was covered in water until my surface temperature warmed up from the airconditioned interior of the airplane (it never cools down, so the humidity just stays in the air). I've had it described to me how that works when a sand storm kicks up; the combination of sand, dust and moisture creates an almost solid moist mist that blocks out all light and cuts down vision to inches. In a pretty much featureless desert, you can imagine what "mists of darkness" are like to someone caught in a sandstorm without a modern car to hide inside.

But how often do we think of our spiritual vision being down to mere inches in a realm without landmarks? How often when we are faced with spiritual confusion do we think "this must be exactly what God told me to expect?"

I've written about examples from my own life. My blithe thoughts when the patriarch giving me a blessing broke down and cried for five minutes, then got himself together and told me that I would have experiences that would be blessings, but hard to appreciate when I received them. I've also written of other examples of times I thought I understood (or could at the time understand) more than I did.

But my experiences have led me to conclude it is not a cop-out to ascribe confusion to a lack of context. To see the problem of communicating with a God who is much smarter than we are, who sees much further, being problems of the limits of our understanding. Nor is there any solution to mists of darkness obscuring our way from time to time.

When God warned us of them, God did not say that "there will be confusion, but the really smart won't be bothered by it" -- instead we were warned that we needed to have faith, hold on to the iron rod of the word of God, and press forward. God knows we will be confused and unable to see. He has done what can be done to warn us and given us a solution, even if there is no way to avoid the problem. All that remains for us is to have the context, the faith, the hope and the love to hold on to the word of God.

It sounds simple, too bad it isn't easy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Accepting Happiness

Coping with being happy and overcoming the issue of happiness occurs several times in grief. While many people write about grief, few discuss how to cope with happiness or that the issue has more than one stage.

The first stage of coping with happiness gets at least some notice and discussion. This stage is the disruption and confusion that occurs from experiencing joy in the brief appearances it makes. In the black and white world of gray grief, joy is like an unnatural splat of color. The initial break throughs are usually sudden and unsettling.

But, like green shoots of growth in the gray of Spring, they are really a promise of life. A little warning and people are ready to accept these flashes as positive motes of light in darkness.

Next comes survivors guilt tied into happiness. Especially during layoffs, people will have survivors guilt for having a job when those around them were fired. Or a surviving child will feel guilt for still being alive or for having a happy moment when their sibling died and their parents are devastated. In every situation of grief and loss, those who remain may feel guilt and sorrow at feeling happy.

Finally comes accepting happiness for itself. It is not betrayal of sorrow. It is not a harbinger of disaster (many will remember their last period of happiness ending in the disaster that brought them grief and have learned to associate happiness with disaster striking).

Acceptance is just a coping mechanism. Accepting happiness is something else, it is a return to life.

Related essay at: http://ethesis.livejournal.com/ (my first post there of any meaning, may be my last as well).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

So, where is life these days?

Much of what I am doing is learning to cope with being happy. That doesn't give me much to write about (though it should, it is the final stage of grief work).

Did see Peter S. Beagle today and got an autograph. He was great wronged in the matters involving The Last Unicorn, a movie and a book I've loved.

THE LAST UNICORN — 25th Anniversary Widescreen DVD, STORY AND SCREENPLAY BY PETER S. BEAGLE ( $15 unsigned / $25 signed / $30 personalized )
THIS EDITION IS APPROVED BY PETER S. BEAGLE. MORE THAN HALF THE PURCHASE PRICE GOES TO SUPPORT HIM AND HIS WORKS. (Note: if you buy it elsewhere, he doesn't get anything at all. See www.conlanpress/youcanhelp for more information.)

The Last Unicorn: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD tells the tale of a unicorn who sets out on an extraordinary quest to find the rest of her kind, long missing from the world. With a screenplay by Peter S. Beagle, based on his own classic novel, this special edition DVD is available for the first time in the United States in a widescreen version. It brings the film to life in its highest quality ever, with digitally remastered audio and video, new foil-printed slipcase packaging, and extras including a video interview with Peter. ALL SIGNED COPIES WILL BE AUTOGRAPHED IN THREE PLACES: DVD, COVER, AND SLIPCASE. Available now. Allow extra time for signing.

I was glad to donate and to buy some prints I've wanted for more than a year.

Mostly these days, I look forward to coming back from my early Saturday morning meeting to see my wife coming home from work and to just lay down with her so she can fall asleep in my arms. Things like that don't make for much to blog about, but they give me a great deal of joy and happiness.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Thinking, though slowly.

Some links, then a discussion:

I've been thinking of explaining what libertarian marxism is. Or where it doesn't work vs. where it does in the simple form (where the government runs the banks and the military, worker managed firms run the rest of the economy -- for a good model of a worker managed firm think of a partnership or a law school -- both of which reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the process).

See small steel mills, some rail roads, etc.

But it requires ownership of private property and free markets to pull off.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Everyone should participate

since revelatory experience is mediated through embodied experience, and comes up in response to questions that arise from one’s experience of the world, it’s crucial for women to do theology

Yes, the way we are able to understand the messages we get from God is framed by our life experience and the questions we are asking. As a result, it is crucial for everyone to "do" theology.

We all need to be better able to understand the Spirit, and the only way that happens is if we all participate. In a conversation, listening is at least 50% of it, and in a conversation with the Holy One, listening to others is a part of how we listen to God.