This is the famous beach at Cannes…
May 17th, 2013
This is the famous beach at Cannes where Bardot and other starlets once shed their bikinis for the adoring fans and photographers. Such stunts are passé here. Nothing shocks. The annual film festival gathers thousands of people in the industry who have the jaded look of too many action films that died at the box office. Still, shock-free though it is, Cannes is still a real kick and one would be a fool not to sample the huge menu of offerings. Already I have seen superb film, locked hands with one of my idols, Jane Campion, lined up for eternity and been denied a seat at the last minute, secured a prime seat for another screening, and gawked long and hard at the throngs of humanity who have descended to this fair of vanities.
Allan Rock rocks
May 10th, 2013
Allan Rock rocks. He did, at least, this week in a speech to the Canadian Club in Ottawa: “The ‘Skills Mismatch’ and the Myth of the Irrelevant University.” I love it when university presidents speak their minds. In my view they just don’t do it enough. A former Federal Liberal Cabinet member, Rock has a natural aversion to this present government’s approach to supporting higher education, and so you have to start with that, sure. But he took the opportunity to speak boldly and honestly to a group of Canadian mandarins about representation and misrepresentation of academia, putting the case squarely before their hooded eyes.
Normally, on this blogspot I resist wading into the very shallow waters of political rhetoric…
May 3rd, 2013
Normally, on this blogspot I resist wading into the very shallow waters of political rhetoric but this week’s events compelled me to don my nose plugs. Those of us who work in education know well just how much Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ongoing assault on Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau is revealing about himself. After the thwarted attempt by, allegedly, a graduate student and his pals to blow up a VIA Rail train, and alluding to Trudeau’s earlier comments about understanding the “root causes” of terrorism, Harper declared that now is not the time to “commit sociology.” This tasty sound byte has extended well beyond the typical 21st century news cycle. It’s just too irresistibly chewy—especially for us hungry academics who understand how the social sciences and humanities are being steadily starved.
You wouldn’t know that the picture is of an 800-room resort…
April 26th, 2013
You wouldn’t know that the picture above is of an 800-room resort. I was in the Dominican Republic last week, a “destination” for a family wedding. I took this shot early morning, before people started moving like sleepwalkers towards the cavernous hall where breakfast was being served. This was one of those all-inclusive spots where you pay for flights, meals, and drinks in advance, and then show up with nothing but money for tips for the staff. It seems as if the whole world partakes of these vacation spots. The 800 rooms were fully booked and there was absolutely no chance of getting a late check out because plane loads of tourists were lining up to check in while we were thinking of shaking the sand out of our suitcases.
This postcard comes to you from New Brunswick, New Jersey…
April 12th, 2013
This postcard comes to you from New Brunswick, New Jersey, where I am attending the annual meeting of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS). Rutgers University, the state university of NJ, is the host of the event.
I am in jolly old London…
April 5th, 2013
I am in jolly old London, except it is less than really jolly; it is unseasonably cold and everyone is huddling into scarves and sweaters, ducking snowflakes and wondering whether climate change has anything to do with it. Italian tourists look frustrated; the Germans are just getting on with it. Canadians like to say we are used to it, but truthfully it’s just too bloody cold here. The sky is as leaden as the pound and the air is grey with smog. Sounds like a nightmare, but to paraphrase the poet-scholar, when a man [sic] is tired of London he [sic] is tired of life. It’s true. This is one of the world’s most advanced built cultures and one could and should never ever tire of it. I can see the Thames from my hotel window and that goes a long way to warming me up for the day.
This postcard comes to you from Ottawa…
March 28th, 2013
This postcard comes to you from Ottawa. Last week it was Toronto, this week the nation’s capital. I’m on the go again. I took this shot a few hours ago. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was in the House delivering the annual budget. You can see it’s a dreary grey winter day here, although technically it’s spring. Weather like this takes all the romance out of this iconic gothic landscape. Note the steel barrier. A police car was squatting just to the left of the frame. The cop at the wheel took note of my picture taking. It’s not exactly a White House security situation, but things have changed in Ottawa over the years. I have been coming here for one reason or another for most of my adult life and I have seen the steady increase in surveillance and security. Well, it’s budget day and so I suppose there was a certain stepped-up degree of vigilance, just in case anyone too disenfranchised or angry at government might sabotage activity on the Hill.
Two weeks way in the French West Indies sure is good for the soul
March 8th, 2013
Two weeks way in the French West Indies sure is good for the soul. I highly recommend it. I took all my devices with me, of course, because a day without email is like a day without meaning. Returning to campus without having checked in and replied to various requests for this and that would have been unthinkable. As we all know, anything is possible if you’re connected to the Internet and so staying in touch with the home office is simply a fundamental part of a dean’s life these days. Most people I replied to had no clue I was sitting on a beach chair with a frozen margarita by my elbow. But I was.