Marginalia

Maybe Something Can be DoneWell .  .  . THIS is why I’m exhausted at the end of the week.

According to science writer John Tierney, we have to work at “Just Saying ‘No.'”  But we have to work at “Just Saying ‘Yes,'” too.  Making decisions takes energy, he says, and we simply run out of it after a while.  More sleep?  No comment from him, only the idea that we can work those decision muscles until they work easily.  He also tells us that our decision-making capacity wears out like our leg muscles do at the end of a day of running (or easing) up staircases all day.

Make those hard decision early in the day and early in the week.  And, maybe, early in life (Godspeed, any of you who count as “young.”).  But keep pushing the decision muscles so that at least before noon, or Friday, or retirement, you’re strong enough to use them.

I’m not going to buy the book . . .  I’ve worked that “Don’t Click” decision muscle hard enough so that I won’t think about it until I’m exhausted from deciding to grade those papers now, instead of whenever “later” has become.

Resistance Training for Your Willpower Muscles

How it Feels to be Old Enough to be Your Students’ Grandparent

The gripes behind the Chronicle article below fall into two categories: Communicating with students whose lives seem to be substantively different from ours (mine) is difficult; and a broadening pool of cultural illiteracy is bogging down conversation in the classroom.  And the boardroom.  And the dinner table. I can’t speak for conversations at mixers because I don’t go to them, and I barely remember what they were like decades ago when I did.

College teachers are responsible for fixing that first problem; but parents and early/ier childhood educators are responsible for the second. It’s one thing to have to explain Ed Sullivan to a student who barely survived the Haitian earthquake (you try it); it’s another to have to point out to someone from Dayton that The Bible was not originally written in English. After that, we can talk about how to explain what Underwood and Selectric mean to me.

I had a student last semester who had never seen a fountain pen.  I simply gave up trying to explain how it worked and handed my disposable one over to her: “Try it—you’ll like it.”  I can hope that she pulled it out and showed it to someone she was trying to impress at an autumn mixer—at least she would have found it a conversation piece.

Here is an entertaining article about teaching students who were born after 1980.

A Terrific Book that Begins with a Reminder of Steve Jobs’ Design Roots

This is a part of “It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it,” that too many people don’t pay attention to.  It matters.  Even in English papers and journal submissions. Publishers have their reasons, and it’s good to know where they came from.  But it’s also good to be curious enough to know where the publishers came from.  This is a terrific companion book to “Helvetica: The Movie.

Here is NPR’s Weekend Edition Interview with the author.

When the Tightly Sphinctered are Let Loose . . .

I think this is a way of thinking that comes naturally to the Swiss.  But my daughter, who is not Swiss, is the person who sent me here—it’s one of Ted.com’s best.  Spend a few minutes with Ursus Wehlri, whose name I wouldn’t have dared devise for a short story.

Mr. Wehlri is as smart as this clip is humorous and engaging.

Stop and think about how the thinking Wehlri mocks, here, translates into management and politics—it’s what turns otherwise normal people into MBA crazies, what makes the future of the NEA seem dismal, and what makes conversation between the art department chair and the CFO impossible.

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