Inane · Tedious · Sloppy

I was attracted by the weird headline of a recent article from the Media Relations Department of the University of New Hampshire:

UNH Plans Economically and Environmentally Sustainable Installation of President Huddleston Sept. 16

Yes, UNH is talking about the inauguration of its president as if he were a new biodiesel-powered backup generator for the data center. "Just slide him in right here! On those cinder blocks!"

If you were a normal person, you might wonder briefly about the concept of a "sustainable installation"; is that an installation you don't have to redo a few months later, because you skipped a couple of key steps in the installation manual?

No. Or at least, I don't think so. This is an economically and environmentally sustainable installation. Which means, I think (roughly speaking): we could keep doing this forever, and it wouldn't overdraw us at the bank or kill any polar bears.

Hm… Maybe the article will better illuminate things:

DURHAM, N.H. - Mark W. Huddleston will take a unique approach to his installation as the 19th president of the University of New Hampshire Sept. 16, 2008, …

A "unique approach to his installation" would be if he rappelled in from the skylights in the Granite State Room of the Memorial Union Building. That would be not only unique, but also kind of neat.

But I'll bet he'll approach via the doors, just like presidents One through Eighteen.

… choosing to highlight the university's efforts around sustainability and resourcefulness.

Ack. You don't make efforts around—you make efforts toward. And "resourcefulness" isn't a goal in itself; instead, it describes your ability to meet goals.

They mean something else; they can't be bothered to figure out how to say it.

Out-of-town dignitaries will be encouraged not to attend …

I would have loved to see those—what would you call them—disinvitations? "The honor of your presence absence is requested …"

… and the installation ceremony will be rolled into the larger, annual celebration of University Day to reduce the event's carbon footprint and save money.

The ceremony will be rolled, but said rolling will not be assisted by internal combustion engines. Hopefully rolling the ceremony head-on into a large celebration won't cause any injuries.

The two words "save money" are refreshing by their unusual straightforwardness in a sea of marketing/environmental bafflegab. Naturally, however, no actual effort is made to quantify how much money will be saved. Or, for that matter, how big the "carbon footprint" would have been, or how much shrinkage they expect to cause. It's all about our perceived good intentions, and let's not sully that with any actual numbers.

Given the economic pressures facing the university, President Huddleston has chosen not to host separate events to mark his inauguration but to build on existing activities in an effort to avoid excess and direct resources toward our students, faculty, and the citizens of New Hampshire.

Sheesh. "Pressures" don't typically "face" you. Just say "on".

The "toward" that should have used in the previous paragraph is used here, nonsensically.

And, although the article previously mentioned "resourcefulness" favorably, that better not actually involve, you know, resources. We're avoiding those. Especially "excess" ones. Or "direct" ones. Indirect resources are still OK, though.

UNH Transportation Services has agreed to make buses free for the day for the greater Durham community and those on campus are encouraged to walk or bike to the ceremony.

Translation: parking will be an even bigger bitch than usual. Don't even bother to try.

Well, let's go to the Inauguration Website. The eye-catching Official Logo:

Inauguration 2 Point Oh!

Oh, dear Lord. It just screams: "Here at UNH, we strive to use only the tiredest and lamest marketing gimmicks."

The "2.0" thing is meaningless, and hence grating. If Dr. Huddleston is the 19th UNH president, wouldn't it make more sense to call it "Inauguration 19.0"? And do you ever want to buy the point-0 version of anything?

And the three-word slogan? Already noticed as overused months ago, even in academia.

But seriously: you can watch the ceremony streaming on the web. Pun Son will be performing, so I'll be webbed in.

Also seriously: despite his administration's tolerance for embarrassing marketing, President Huddleston seems to be a pretty good guy. I wish him luck.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 3:50 PM EDT

The Kite Runner

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

'Twas multicultural night at Pun Salad Manor, as we watched yet another tale of ordinary people caught up in the maelstrom of Russian imperialism and religious extremism.

It starts in 1979 Afghanistan, just before the Russian invasion, and an unlikely cross-ethnic and cross-class friendship between two young boys: Amir, a privileged son of a rich family, and Hassan, the son of one of their servants. They share a love of kite flying and American movies. (Especially ones with Steve McQueen, and who could blame them?) Hassan is brave, standing up to local threatening bullies; in a moment of shocking cowardice, he's betrayed by Amir. Their friendship is destroyed, and then the Russians invade, and Amir and his father hightail it to America. But years later, revelations about Hassan force an adult Amir to make a tense return to his Taliban-controlled country.

This got a so-so reaction from the critics, but I liked it quite a bit. Yes, it's full of emotional manipulation, cheap symbolism, and one might argue the ending is a bit pat. You know what? I don't care.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 3:50 PM EDT