We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, July 30. 2013
I have a lot to catch up with after over a week in Wyoming, riding the ranges and the foothills with She Who Must Be Obeyed. Got lost a few times. High prairie. I always carry a compass in the great outdoors. A compass, the sun in the sky, and a pocket knife. A pocket GPS is cheating. Next time, I'll carry one anyway rather than following a fence line to nowhere.
After a few days, I can begin to adjust a bit to Western-style riding. Still, I do find it strange. Loping, galloping - different gaits from our refined Eastern style but at least the saddle has a handle! We saw Pronghorns, some Mulies, a few Golden Eagles and a Prairie Falcon. And lots of cattle, steak on the hoof.
Friends sometimes ask me why I never take photos. I never, ever, take pictures, even at Christmas. My eyes and brain are my camera; my hippocampus is my photo folder. Taking pictures can become a goal in itself, I found long ago, and interferes with fully "being there." So, rightly or wrongly, I quit it.
But on to today's link. I started college as an English Lit major. I liked talking about books. I liked writing essays. After a year or two, I began wondering why I was making my Dad spend money so I could do what I would do anyway in my spare time, so I switched to Chemistry. I love chemistry, but was not smart enough to make a career in it.
Here's the article: Is the English major an endangered species?
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I can't comment on the necessity of English Majors in any frame of time and space - I was never any good at "interpreting" meaning in literary classics. My opinion was usually at odds with the Professor and the rest of the class - guess I look at the world differently than others do.
However, I would like to address the GPS and photography comment.
I am never without a GPS. The reason is simple - any pocket GPS worthy of the name has a built in very accurate compass that will either correct for the standard deviation and declination to True North or give you the opportunity to do it yourself on a map. As most people can't read a map to save their souls, the automatic feature can save lives.
With respect to photography, I've often said that what the minds eye sees is not what the camera sees. The camera tells the truth, the mind interprets, adjusts and gives us what we want to see. As somebody who enjoys abstract imagery in photography, scene capturing isn't a problem - I'd much rather remember what I saw than try to take a picture of it. Snapshots are the domain of the Mrs.
Being an English major is fine. But you have to realize that at some point you'll have to grow up and figure out how to do something useful for others so you can get paid. A woman can get married, have babies, join a book club just so she can drink wine. The law is no longer a good option.
Now the interesting part about the humanities majors is that they "want to make a difference". Well, children, let's go to reality. Those who've made a difference, those who've transformed the world, they weren't humanities majors. Sure some read in the humanities, oddly mostly on their own, but they "made a difference" by studying reality, learning to do the math and avoiding self delusion.
Sure, the humanities majors read a couple dozen people who wrote something deemed important a couple hundred years ago. And some have gone out and killed a bunch of people over those ideas.
But for all the accolades, all the jibber jabber over this or that, they did little to make the world better for all men. The ones who did that were the Watts, the Teslas, the Bessemers, the Tantlingers. Haven't heard of them? Not sure what they wrote. Well, they didn't write, at least not as their primary purpose. They made. They created. They altered the lives of every man, woman and child that followed them in this world. They were engineers, by training, not all but in fact.
They brought more wealth to all levels of society, brought more people out of poverty, improved the lives of rich and poor alike than all the humanities majors in all the world in all of history to ever to traverse the halls of the academy.
The philosophical question is, if the English major goes extinct will anyone notice? Those who "make a difference" in this world can read just as well as the English major and they are creating more leisure time for all humanity at ever faster rates all the time.
I would rebut by asking you to consider yourself; despite your case, your brief is literary.
That's how every white kid ends up in law school.
"oh, you're soooo smart' they say. "You should be a doctor!"
Well, guess what. After that first class in organic chemistry the pretenders head for the hills of the Humanities.
'Oh, you should go to grad school.'
Not too many choices left without those 16 credits of chemistry.
Screw all of you.
I liked he last sentence: "That’s harder to accomplish in the humanities when my study of Victorian cultural trends is entirely divorced from a classmate’s focus on, say, contemporary feminist poetry."
I can see some possibility that Victorian cultural trends might have something useful to say to us. But not damn much.
A degree in English Premed almost got me into medical school--my wife lost her job the day I was going to schedule my intake interview so no medical school for me as I couldn't much afford it despite student loans. Probably the best thing for me was to stay working as a paramedic as I feel I can make of a difference in people's lives at the level where I work. And, I write the most literate patient care charts in the company.
(Now, if I could just make the $14K in student loans remaining disappear, I'd be happier.)
--you're at an interesting and valuable confluence --life and death and how to write the stories of it.
--h/t instapundit, the comments section here is a fur 'n feathetrs flyin' debate over credentialism --kinda fun to read --
I am not as perturbed about this as some might be. He did have a Ph.D. He also did write a book- as far as I can tell it is not ghost-authored. As far as I know, he has accurately represented his sources- in contrast to Ward Churchill.
I have read a book written by a Sociologist- and also faculty member of Sociology Departments- who had a Ph.D in Anthropology. He was never a faculty member of an Anthropology Department. He was considered an eminent Sociologist. His Ph.D. in Anthropology was eventually published as a book, as it was considered authoritative in its field.
There have also been Petroleum Engineering professors with doctoral degrees in Chemical Engineering- NOT in Petroleum Engineering. Morris Muskat, the founding father of Reservoir Engineering, had a Ph.D. in Physics, not in Petroleum Engineering.
But for false credentials, feast your eyes on this. Embattled head of American Academy of Arts and Sciences to resign.
Dogged by charges that she inflated her resume and abused her position, the embattled president of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences agreed to resign at the end of the month, the institution announced Thursday, ending weeks of controversy that had engulfed the organization and threatened to tarnish its reputation.She got away with this for seventeen years. And she acted in good faith in lying about her Ph.D. Tell me another cowboy tale.
Leslie Cohen Berlowitz, who has overseen the Cambridge honorary society for the past 17 years, had been on paid leave from the academy for more than a month while an outside law firm investigated allegations, first reported by the Globe, that she falsely claimed to have a doctorate from New York University and misstated her work history in federal grant applications.
Berlowitz, 69, also came under fire for berating staffers and receiving an oversized pay package — more than $598,000 in fiscal 2012 alone for an organization with only three dozen staffers. The attorney general’s office also asked whether the academy fully reported all her executive perks, such as first-class travel.
“Although I am tempted to provide a point-by-point response to the questions that have been raised in recent weeks, I believe there is only one fact of consequence that bears mentioning,” wrote Berlowitz in a farewell letter to members Thursday. “I always acted in good faith and with the best interests of the Academy at heart.” Berlowitz declined an interview request.
Under the terms of her resignation, the academy said Berlowitz will receive no severance, but will get a one-time $475,000 payment for retirement benefits, deferred compensation, and accrued vacation under her contract, something the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley pledged Thursday to investigate.
My oldest and youngest daughters were English majors. At middle age, both have been reasonably successful, the oldest as a free-lance journalist and the youngest as a paralegal. Both have always done their reading and ruminating on their own time.
There's plenty you can do with an English degree provided you're good + efficient at the analysis & writing part. Insofar that the getting of an English degree cultivates those talents, it provides you with something of value. Any number of ways to employ that skill set. But, its economic value often requires some sort of technical amplification, like your paralegal daughter. Good paralegals are worth their weight in gold.
But, [D]r kill above, I don't think he exaggerates all that much. There are plenty of English majors who are there because math is icky and hard and they otherwise don't know what they want to do. Heck, I was one of those, I used to be a terrible number-phobe but felt compelled to sign up for basic chemistry & calculus courses anyway, to round things out. But those courses did not help my GPA.
There are plenty of English majors who are there because math is icky and hard and they otherwise don't know what they want to do.
It also works in reverse. Math was easy for me- at least in high school,where we did a lot of proofs- and English was icky. However, I had always read a lot on my own, and before high school, had gotten As in English. The only thing I got out of English in high school was that I HATED writing papers and I HATED being the junior literary critic that English courses forced me to be.
One factor in choosing a STEM major was to avoid having to write papers.
I found out that all professionals, not just History and English graduates, need to be able to write clearly and concisely.
It also works in reverse.
Well dang. Never even occurred to me that it might, me the ex-numberphobic.
It's funny; even though I hated math I did earn As in high school Geometry & Algebra. But, in Algebra especially, I never really understood what the math was good for in the practical world; I could parse out the Xs & Ys and get the right answer, but I couldn't begin to tell you how to apply that to real-world problems except the simplest stuff.
And, oddly, I just experienced a very strong memory of the smell of the brand new Algebra II textbook I had Senior year.
That's a switcheroo --the trigger usually works from smell to memory --the brain, the inexplicable humdrum miracle --if one were a silicon-being from an Alpha-Centauri planet, and someone told you about a couple lbs of meat atop an earthling creature that connected to twin orbs that could see out to the edge of the universe and that the couple lbs of meat could understand what it was seeing, you'd think he was SO full of grit.
You're right, it usually does. And the brain is pretty freaky.
The smell that re-emerged was a sort of a mix of the new textbook and the new brown paper protective covers that were issued for them at the same time. I think the book's cover was a sort of bright spring green.
I have a pretty good memory for humdrum stuff. If I sit and think about something that happened forever ago, or just a generally repeating scenario, like H.S. Algebra II classes, I find I can dredge up a remarkable amount of detail, including smells. If I'm really interested & its on my mind for a few days, all kinds of fine details will start to emerge. It's like I gave the brain notice that the boss is interested in some hoary old thing, and a slow, low-priority subroutine goes about rooting it out of fragmented deep storage.
I got another smell - this one triggered by the remembered smell of the textbook! - it's from the pencil sharpener that I'm pretty sure was in the back of Ms. Edward's classroom (hers was Homeroom and Algebra). It was one of those wall-mounted ones with a grey plastic box for the pencil shavings. There was a crack in the top corner of the box, so when you sharpened sometimes a little puff of wood / graphite dust would come out, and that was the smell I remembered. Vaguely like the paper book covers.
Yes. Brain: Weird. I'm kind of interested in what I can drag up from Algebra class, but it would take too much Now-Time and I've got Now things to focus on. The Algebra didn't soak in, but I hope I learned everything else I needed to know while I was in Algebra Class when I was actually there!!