Is Our Conservative Bloviators Learning?

by Henry Farrell on September 16, 2006

Joseph Lindsley on the “Weekly Standard’s website”: .

AS THE NEW ACADEMIC YEAR BEGINS, parents will give, as they always do, lectures about studying hard and attending class. But nonetheless many collegians will devote time to chugging pints, throwing darts, and doing just about anything that doesn’t involve cracking the books. This seems a gross waste of resources, but, considering the often ridiculous content of those neglected textbooks and ignored lectures, some of these prodigal students just might be better off.

…[various denunciations of various courses] …

Swarthmoreans have to wait until next year to feast on “The Whole Enchilada: Debates in World History,” but right now they can take “Engendering Culture” where they’re supposed to learn how “culture is constructed and reconstructed to replicate gender roles,” by studying “New York night life and John Wayne movies and the masculine West.”

Timothy Burke gives us the rather demanding “syllabus”: (for it is he) for his course at Swarthmore, “The Whole Enchilada: Debates in World History” (copied below the break).

This displays in its primeval majesty the boneheaded stupidity of a common genre of opinion article (and occasional “rigorously researched”: report) on the Evils of Left Wing Indocrination and Pandering to Lazy Students in the Modern University. Sloppy Google searches and sweeping assertions don’t provide evidence of anything other than the author’s laziness and desire to find backup for his prejudices with the least amount of exertion possible. The kind of guff that deserves an F, in other words.

[click to continue…]

Hattifatteners ordering cocktails?

by John Holbo on September 16, 2006

HattifattenloungelizardDrawn & Quarterly’s long-awaited Moomin, the Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip vol. 1 is delayed until October, but in the meantime they are releasing a strip a day from the publisher’s site, and you can download a 6-page PDF preview sample.

I have been so curious and eager. I’ve read and enjoyed moomin books since childhood and am not ashamed to say I once answered a daughter’s innocent, ‘why did you want to have children?’ with a less innocent, ‘so I could read them moomin books.’ Which was a wretched half-truth. (Belle and I also have plans to construct a plush Groke toy for children’s beds. It will have an opening in which you insert one of those athletic injury cold paks, so in the morning your bed has a horrid cold spot.) Until last year I didn’t even know there had been a long-running moomin newspaper strip.

Now that I see samples for the first time, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, the art answers gorgeously to my need to feed my eyes on all the antlers and pajamas and especially the triangular noses and the over-sized ones. But the characters are all changed.

Hattifatteners who demand cocktails?

Where’s the small jolt of the silent, nordic, static electricity of vaguely yearning existential dread in that? No Moominmamma and Moominpappa? Sniff as an incompetent, pushy get-rich-quick schemer, played to broad, slapstick effect? Silly fake elixir of youth turning old ladies into old men who roar off after can-can girls? Obviously I must withhold judgment, but it looks as though – at least initially – Jansson didn’t trust the subtle tones of her storytelling to the three-panel form and somewhat condescended to it, letting lovely pictures do all the work. Or maybe she just has to grow into it.

You can pre-order from Amazon – and at a good discount: Moomin, the Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip vol. 1.

Softening characters

by Ingrid Robeyns on September 16, 2006

In the last ten years, most of my friends became parents. One thing I observed was that many of these New Parents, both men and women, changed their character a little. Of course, people didn’t suddently become different persons by moving into parenthood; but the more I watched them, the more evidence I gathered that people who become parents somehow soften a little. Character traits such as being very assertive, being bossy, being easily irritable, all lost their sharp edges. In addition there were the changes in character, values and worldviews that these New Parents noticed themselves (and that are generally not observable to outsiders). Writing deadlines became much less important, work could wait till another day. What once looked like an almost unbearable cost of parenthood (like getting up at 5.30 am every morning) suddenly was of little importance.
Am I deluding myself when I believe to observe that the move into parenthood softens characters and makes many previously Really Important Things suddenly look rather trivial?