“USC is a commuter school, anyway.” WHAT?

As regular readers will know, I’m having a (righteous) tantrum because USC has eliminated its transit subsidy program for its faculty and staff. This is bad policy move for both obvious and nonobvious reasons.

Most people in the sustainability and public policy world think it’s an embarrassingly bad corporate move, but I do have a couple students in the business school who think I’m crazy for caring, but for reasons that took my breath away. One, in particular, is a bare-knuckles, salty sort of business guy.

When I told him the story, he just said, and I quote: ” So what? USC is just commuter school anyway.”

Me: What do you mean by that?

Him: It’s a commuter school for kids from Orange County. That’s always what it’s been. So everybody drives to campus anyway.”

WHAT? No it hasn’t! HAVE YOU NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION? We are moving up the rankings, investing in buildings and faculty and running a $6bn campaign (which, btw, looks even more unseemly when you set it beside the fact that we are eliminating benefits for transit dependent employees. Ish).

I laid the argument that every other major urban university encourages transit use.

He shakes his head at me. “USC has more in common with UC Riverside than it does with MIT or NYU. It’s just that the students at USC are richer than the ones at Riverside.”


(That’s not true, is it?)

The corporate takeover of the University of Iowa seems to have gone smoothly

So here’s what I don’t understand about all of Terry Branstead’s cronies and their crappy little power play that put a business consultant in the presidency of the University of Iowa:

Universities have people in them that are both worshippers of Mammon and who have higher education experience. They are called business professors.

They have, at least done a job in higher education, though the life of a business professor is hardly that of the average adjunct. But at least B-school deans have done the job for a bit and have a passing interest in education.

I get that this business consultant is a buddy of the guy who pours money into Terry Branstead’s coffers. But surely, there was some other big business apologist within a med school (big pharma) or a b-school who had been a dean or provost somewhere that they could have elevated to the purple.

A short reading list for Kim Davis; understanding law, justice, and religious liberty

By now the internet has had quite a time discussing Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. I always feel sorry for the people who wind up in Kim Davis’s position, though I am sure part of her probably enjoys the attention for what she perceives to be a heroic stance against what she considers to be an immoral law.

This question–should you obey laws that you don’t agree with–is an oldie and a goodie in political theory and philosophy, where people make a distinction between law and justice for good reasons. What is lawful may not be just, and what is just may not, currently, be lawful. But the absence of any sense of justice in the law robs the law of its moral legitimacy, or why people will go along with the laws in the first place.

I’ve always maintained that the point of theory is to help people empathize with different ways of thinking about the world, particularly ways that differ quite a bit from their own. Towards that end, I put together a little reading list for students who want to think about Ms. Davis and her problem, which is: she believes same-sex marriage violates natural (divine) law (physis), but her professional legal role in enforcing man’s law (nomos). (My computer seems to want to insist on turning nomos to gnomes. What the actual hell? Does the word gnomes come up more often than the concept of nomos? Really??)

Laws and Justice, on the duty to obey laws, or not, and sublimation of the self to political community in classical studies:

Plato: Apology
Plato: Crito
Plato: Phaedo
Cicero: On Duties
Augustine: City of God
Aquinas: Selections from the Summa–get a reader that curates for you
Areopagitica by John Milton
Machiavelli: The Prince; The Discourses
Hobbes, Leviathan
Locke, First Treatise of Civil Government
Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws
Bentham, Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation
Burke, Empire, Liberty, and Reform
Marx, On the Jewish Question (this one right here, if you can read no other; this is why conservatives should read Marx).
Mill, On Liberty
Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil

I’ve got to run off to class but I will come back later in the week with some contemporary writers and thinkers who have been riffing off the concepts from the classics, but you can’t actually get at an answer for any of this without Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Antonio Gramsci, and some of the writings of Mahatma Gandhi.

Library and book song parodies: a collection of my favorites

Ok, so don’t you start. I know that chapter is a mess and 100 million years overdue. I know. I just don’t know how to fix it.

So, of course, the answer is YouTube. It’s never not YouTube. It’s the procrastinator’s friend.

Here is a collection of my favorite nerdy book parodies of various songs, including very cute kids, adorable adults, good sport teachers, and clever librarians:

I Like Big Books – Dowell Middle School

Dowell Middle School “Bookloose”

“All About Those Books” MDIHS Library

All About That Book – Griffin Elementary Literacy Night

Napptown Books (“Uptown Funk” Parody)
(the little tiny girl in the shades with her cool and handsome teacher cracks me up here: I dunno about you, but I have a crush!)

Read It All (Taylor Swift Parody) by WaffleBox
(Boys in books are, in fact, better)

Bruno Mars Uptown Funk Parody: Unread Book
(the ending cracks me up)

Harvard Economics Department’s Call Me Maybe
(Greg Mankiw being *charming*, as an antidote to his ish policy advocacy and political theory)