Friday, September 19, 2008

How I Know This Isn't the Next Great Depression

If I read another news story referring to the current financial mess as the next Great Depression I am seriously going to throw something -- perhaps my copy of David Kennedy's Freedom from Fear. Just this morning I read "A Lesson Rooted in the Great Depression" in the International Herald Tribune, which starts out with the line - "Will future historians write about the Great Depression of the 2000s as they did about the one in the 1930s?" In the last hour 36 news stories referencing the Great Depression have been posted online.

If all these news analysts are suggesting that the current market crisis could lead us into another Great Depression it must be true, right?

Maybe... 1. if the Great Depression was only about the 1929 Stock Market Crash and 2. if a little something know as the 'New Deal' hadn't occurred.

However, the Great Depression was much more than the collapse of the stock market and the banking crisis that followed it. It also was a time of fundamental weakness in the agriculture sector and the loss of job and pay/hours cut-backs in the manufacturing sector. Moreover, since there was no 'safety net' provided for the American government to protect Americans who fell on hard economic times, people began to lose their homes and go hungry.

While the current financial situation might lead to a general meltdown of the economy, there won't be the same social disruption for families that Americans faced in the 1930s because the New Deal put some protections in place for U.S. citizens. Protections like government insurance of saving deposits, unemployment insurance, the welfare system, and farm subsidies all prevent the American people from fall as far as they did in the 1930s.

So no matter how bad the U.S. economy becomes, at least we can take comfort in the fact that it will not turn into another Great Depression.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 Tips for Taking Excellent Lecture Notes

Great article in U.S. News about note taking. I really think this is a lost art. Even though I warn my students ever semester that they need to take notes and that I don't lecture straight from the textbook (so they shouldn't try to just read it before exams), I still have kids in class who don't take notes. They just sit there and listen. The listening is good, but it is not enough on its own. At some point people are going to need to review. Moreover, reviewing what I've lectured on in class is going to be helpful when students are trying to figure out what I expect to see come exam time.

10 Tips for Taking Excellent Lecture Notes - Professors' Guide (

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Evolution of the College Dorm

Time Magazine has an interesting photo essay on the history of dorm life. I remember in undergrad how great I thought my dorm room was because it had a bathroom that only 3 other girls had to share, especially because the other dorm on campus had a only one large bathroom on every floor of the building.

Things are even sweeter for students today. The most recent dorm built on my campus is like a mini apartments where the students get their own room and share a living room/kitchen/bath with 2 other people. Not surprisingly there is a waiting list to get into the new dorm.

I can't help but wonder, however, if giving students so much privacy is good for the college community. Part of being a college student is learning about to co-exist with others, even those with radically different viewpoints, lifestyles. Isn't making dorm life so non-interactive really doing a disserve to students? Will have to figure out on the job site how to get along with others? Could there be a surge in the divorce rate among college graduates if they don't share a room with another human being until marriage?

I do hope that college's are creating a generation of self-centered and ego-driven people by making dorm life so comfortable for them.

The Evolution of the College Dorm - Photo Essays - TIME

Thursday, September 04, 2008

We have to catch up to history...

In John McCain's acceptance speech tonight, he was talking about the need for change throughout the country because so many of our economic, educational, and health care policies had been developed during the post-World War II era. Therefore, what we need to do according to McCain is to "catch up to history."


How the heck is the present supposed to catch up to past?! Does he have an unregistered time-turner? I understand what he is trying to say, but isn't there a better way to state this?

Things did look up toward the end of the speech, when McCain stated: "I don't believe that history has anointed me to save our country in our hour of need..." I only wish, he'd ended that statement by saying: "because history isn't a person and therefore can't 'appoint' anybody."

Tuition Hikes and Federal Oversight

I'm pretty much against all federal interference with colleges. I'd hate to see some kind of 'no child left behind policy' forced onto institutions of higher education. However, I do like the idea of access to information about colleges - especially tuition hikes - being made easily accessible.

Prospective students and their parents should know the average rate that college tuition increases each year and they should also know whether or not the tuition increases at their college is above average. Let's face it the only thing that makes colleges behave tuition-wise is if it hits their enrollment/retention numbers and there is a better chance of that happening if there is easily accessible information about this online.

Less affordable colleges may get 'F,' land on Wall of Shame -

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Famous History Majors

Add Chelsea Clinton to your list of famous history majors.

Apparently, she started out at Stanford as a Chemistry Major and then switched to history. Ah... if I had a dollar for every failed science major at my school who ended up switching to history I'd probably be able to buy a really nice pair of sneakers.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Funniest Onion Article of All Time??

Cheney Waits Until Last Minute Again To Buy Sept. 11 Gifts

My favorite line in the article is: "Although Cheney himself has never received any Sept. 11 gifts, with the exception of a pair of silk pajamas from his wife and a second term in office..."