College Sloganeering

One of our continuing themes here is making fun of Higher Education. So a recent article in Chronicles of Higher Education is a must-blog. It recounts the travails of colleges trying to come up with catchy mottos. For example, there's the University of Idaho:

Last year it dropped its motto "From Here You Can Go Anywhere" for a new marketing theme dubbed "No Fences," with the accompanying tag line "Open Space. Open Minds." The words were intended to evoke both the romantic landscape of Idaho and the boundless intellectual opportunities at the university. It was perfect.
Also notable is Stanford's motto, which sounds like a prank inspired by Bart Simpson: "The wind of freedom blows."

And the vacuum of freedom sucks, I suppose.

At the University of New Hampshire, we've had the same one for (as far as I know) ever: "Science, Arts, Industry". OK, it's not flashy, but neither is it embarrassingly lame marketese.

I've always liked the motto of my alma mater, unabashedly taken from John 8:32, King James Version: "The Truth Shall Make You Free". Not bad for a hotbed of scientistic atheism! Unfortunately, I was there a little bit too early to know Sandra Tsing Loh, but a couple years ago, she gave (quite possibly) the greatest commencement speech ever where she reflects on the motto and more.

Wacky Libertarianism on the Minimum Wage

The newspaper's editorial headline: "The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00". It's in response to an effort by organized labor to raise the Federal minimum wage.

Anyone working in America surely deserves a better living standard than can be managed on [the current minimum wage]. But there's a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market. A far better way to help them would be to subsidize their wages or - better yet - help them acquire the skills needed to earn more on their own.
Well (stop me if you've heard this): the newspaper is New York Times. Unfortunately, the editorial is from 1987.

We dump on the Times a lot, but it deserves thanks for opening up its archives so we can see how its wisdom has degraded in the past 20 years.

The Winter of Frankie Machine

[Amazon Link]

Mr. Frank Machianno spends the first 39 pages of this book going about his normal everyday routine, and we learn he has an ex-wife, a girlfriend, an adored daughter about to enter med school, an impressive number of business ventures at which he works diligently and honestly, with a straightforward sense of fair play.

Fine, but boring in its Proustian detail. Read through this as fast as you possibly can.

His life starts to unravel on page 40, though. It turns out that Frank is also known as "Frankie Machine", and his cohorts in the San Diego area mob are demanding his attention once more. They make him an offer he can't refuse; just when he thought he was out they pull him back in. (And, yes, he muses on the effect the Godfather movies have had on the actual mob.) And so the bodies start piling up.

Winslow's a very good depictor of the world of organized crime, suspense, and violent action. He does a good job here of creating a hero out of a mob hitman, whose sense of honor and ethics (like: never whack guys in a situation where civilians might be hurt) is, to put it mildly, unshared by all his colleagues. If you can buy that, you'll have a pretty good time reading this.

Last Modified 2012-10-16 5:52 AM EDT