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Grant Wahl’s firing and the slow, painful death of journalism

I’m very sorry to hear Grant Wahl has been let go by Sports Illustrated. I can only imagine what it’s like to devote more than two decades to something and have it end in an instant. Grant was covering soccer when covering soccer wasn’t cool, and he has been an important voice in the sport.

Between Grant and SI, though, I’d bet on Grant having the better future, by a long way.

Ian Thomas, an excellent sports business reporter, passed along a memo from one of the vultures at Maven, the company that owns SI.

My thoughts upon seeing that:

  1. Even by modern corporate standards, that’s crass.
  2. While I’m sure SI paid well, there’s no way Grant was making $350,000 a year.

And Grant indeed tossed icy water on that:

I think Grant will land on his feet. For one thing, he and Caitlin Murray seem to be the only people who have figured out how to write soccer books that sell. (Since Long-Range Goals, I’ve posted a loss on the books I’ve written. Seriously — I haven’t made enough to cover expenses.) He could always set up shop as a soccer-specific John Feinstein. Or he could go to one of the places offering six-figure salaries for journalists, like …

Well, there aren’t many.

The speculation on social media is that The Athletic should hire him. It wouldn’t be fair to Grant for me to speculate about his next move, and this post isn’t going to be about Grant. It’s going to be about the state of journalism. Buckle up.

Jobs like Grant’s, with good pay for a handful of in-depth features a year, have always been rare. Today, they’re all but extinct.

A decade ago, we had actual bidding wars. A 2007 New York Times story said ESPN was poaching newspaper writers “double and triple what they were earning — $150,000 to $350,000 a year for several writers, and far more for a select handful.” (The “select handful” would be celebrities like Bill Simmons.) Washington Post managing editor for sports Emilio Garcia-Ruiz had a great quote: “My counteroffer usually comes down to asking them what kind of cake they want at their goodbye party.” (I don’t remember what cake I had at USA TODAY, but it was a very nice farewell.)

Since then, ESPN’s business model of raking in cash from cable subscription fees has taken a serious hit, and they’ve had some significant layoffs. They’ve also shut down their magazine.

So now The Athletic is the organization poaching journalists from various news organizations. But as Deadspin reported, their efforts fell flat in D.C. because the salaries at the Post — the same paper that could only wave farewell to reporters leaving for ESPN a decade earlier — were too good. Praise Bezos.

And even though The Athletic is still throwing around startup money, which tends to disappear with time, what it has done to some good journalists isn’t much better than how SI treated Grant. Some of those journalists live paycheck to paycheck.

Who else is out there? ESPN will be OK but has to watch its budget. SI is doomed — the magazine is less frequent and thinner, and the desperate layering of ads on the site renders it unreadable. Vice slashed its sports “vertical.” Fox Sports got rid of all its writers. (Along with FourFourTwo cutting off its U.S. operations, that’s two freelance gigs of mine that disappeared.)

So The Athletic is the biggest ballgame at town, at least as long as the venture capital lasts. And still, it’s not like everyone there is making six figures. Aaron Gordon took a detailed look at The Athletic and the business in general, informed in part by his own layoff from Vice, and found some people can make a ton but it’s more typically $70,000. (Hey, still more than I ever made at USA TODAY, even adjusting for inflation.) A Washington Post piece pegged entry-level pay at $50,000 — you’d think an organization with the ambition of The Athletic wouldn’t have “entry-level” employees, but they do. For the same money, you can go to SB Nation and spend every waking hour tethered to an unrelenting content calendar.

Local newspapers? Good luck. Any opening will attract dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes, and they weren’t known for paying well even when they had steady income from department store advertising and classified advertising.

Want to go freelance? That’s a great gig for the independently wealthy. I cleared $30,000 one year, then had a steady gig yanked out from under me when a news organization shuffled editors.

So you end up with this question: Is The Athletic going to offer a lot of six-figure salaries when they’re not bidding against anyone?

The failure is on the business side. We’re 25 years into the Internet era, and media organizations haven’t figured out a way to deliver ads that are noticeable but not obtrusive. The very biggest newspapers can offer subscriptions, and in some cases like the Post and the Times (or less traditional organizations like ProPublica), they’re worth subscriptions or donations because they provide a valuable public service in the fight against misinformation (cough, TV). I’ve written stories I consider to be important — investigations on U.S. Soccer finances with an eye toward fixing youth soccer, pieces on sexual abuse in Olympic sports, etc. — but I’ve never felt subscribing to sports content was saving democracy.

Some publications/sites are vital reading in a small niche. That’s why I don’t feel guilty about plugging Soccer America, now entering its 50th year as the most vital source of news and analysis in soccer. The Equalizer is also the news org of record in its niche — women’s soccer. The Athletic has the occasional piece I want to read, but so do The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, etc. The Athletic would have to hire a lot of people to get my money.

I’ve said it before — news organizations should band together for a universal subscription. I won’t pay $10/month to one newspaper just to read one more story beyond the three or five that I get for free, but I might pay for a subscription that offers me access to many news sites. I’d also be interested in paying a la carte, which is probably easier if you have some sort of universal sign-in.

Consider what restaurants and retailers have done in the COVID-19 crisis. They’re changed their business models on the fly. One of my favorite local restaurants is now offering takeout that I can order through a service I’d never heard of before I started looking for a good way to get fish for Good Friday. We’re also seeing a boom time for delivery services that serve many different restaurants — you can get your food from a local Thai place without that place having to hire its own delivery drivers.

Newspapers? Magazines? Again — 25 years. And they still haven’t figured it out. I started out making $10/hour in 1991, and that job doesn’t even exist any more. Today, a lot of freelance gigs are below minimum wage.

That’s why jobs like Grant’s are going extinct. And that’s why journalism won’t have people like Grant in the future.

And that stinks.

Uncategorized

For the latest medical poop, please don’t check with anything Goop

It’s heartbreaking to see Gwyneth Paltrow peddling crap.

She’s such a wonderful presence on screen, equally adept at comedy and drama. She’s the daughter of Blythe Danner, always a welcome sight in any TV or film role.

But she’s also the head of what we can reasonably describe as a cult.

Yes, we’re talking Goop, the alternative-medicine brand best known for the practice of putting things up the part of the female anatomy that Georgia O’Keeffe painted.

Goop also advises people to put stickers on their bodies, originally touted as a NASA product until NASA complained. They’ve also sold something called Psychic Vampire Repellent. Basically, their stock and trade is expensive stuff (want a $249 blow dryer?) with unsubstantiated or flat-out refuted scientific claims.

Now that Paltrow has a Netflix show on Goop-ness, we’re seeing a few alarm bells in the media. Mic referred to the show as “a dangerous and unregulated energy healing endeavor.” A Slate piece ridicules excerpts from the episodes.

The Washington Post had the most interesting take, equating Goop with a quest for purity. It’s almost a more transparent form of Scientology — spend tons of money on our products and reject the unnatural ways of the rest of the world, and you too can bask in natural health. Maybe you’ll even look like Paltrow.

All of this reminded me of a story I’ve saved for a while. It’s from Dr. Jen Gunter, one of Goop’s loudest critics, who responded to an attempt to engage with the wonderfully snarky “No GOOP, we are most definitely not on the same side.” Gunter calls out some of Goop’s social consciousness pretenses, turning its arguments of empowering women around and pointing out how much of this vagina-obsessed practice (her word: “vagiceuticals”) is “a literal tool of the patriarchy.”

The narrative on Goop is that is gains strength from its critics (NYT Mag: “How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s company Worth $250 Million”), like a New Age Trump. But it surely has a good foothold in part because it overlaps with more legitimate spiritual/physical wellness trends. It’s not too far of a leap from yoga and Tai Chi to whatever weird exercises Goop suggests. And the detox mantras feed nicely into our obsession with all things organic, a trend that makes some sense but veers into absurdity, as comedian Matt Kirshen points out here (jump to 1:45):

Go to the 1:45 mark for a discussion of what’s “organic”

So congratulations, Gwyneth. You’ve made me feel guilty about doing Tai Chi.

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Would you recognize satire or fake news if it bit you in the backside?

There’s a great moment in Aziz Ansari’s Netflix special in which he asks people about a story in which the pepperoni on a pizza may have looked like swastika. What did you think of the story? Was it a swastika?

A few people answer with applause for the options he throws out. Did you read it in the Post or the Times? Someone answers.

Can you guess the punchline?

I thought of that when reading an obvious but necessary bit of research showing people a mix of real, fake and satirical news and asking what they believed. The numbers who got it wrong were a little alarming. I’m sure you guessed that, too.

https://theconversation.com/too-many-people-think-satirical-news-is-real-121666

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Help me decide which books to read

I read many, many words every day. In addition to things I read for work, I subscribe to newsletters from The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Conversation and several more.

But at some point, I need to tackle this stack of books. I have 12 books on my “not yet read” shelf in the basement, six on my nightstand and roughly 13 (depending on how you count various samples, reference books and books of essays that from which I pick and choose).

I’ve decided to prioritize, but I’ll also crowd-source it. Suggestions?

In order of likelihood of reading/finishing it …

Vienna Stories (1950-2000) (Marie Kisner) – Great history of my town, and it relates to a Facebook group I moderate. I’m one-third of the way through it.

Generation Ecch (Jason Cohen and Michael Krugman) – A comical look at my generation, and I’ve been pitching stories along these lines.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress (Steven Pinker) – I have to read this. It’s the underpinning of some writing I hope to do.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Eric Idle) – Geez, why haven’t I started this yet?

At the Existentialist Cafe (Sarah Bakewell) – Maybe I’ve already read it but can’t prove it.

50 Philosophy Ideas (You Really Need to Know) (Ben Dupre) – I’ve already read parts of it, and it’s good. Can be browsed as needed.

The Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown) – It’s an Olympic story, so I should probably read it.

And Be Right ALL the Time: Solving the Riddle of Right and Wrong (Iain King) – I also have a sample of a book called Verbal Judo, both about persuasion.

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty (Dan Ariely) – Also kind of related

A Little History of Philosophy (Nigel Warburton) – Did I read this already?

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away (Rebecca Goldstein) – I was jealous because I had the same idea.

The Rest Is Noise: Listening in the Twentieth Century (Alex Ross) – I may still write a book on creativity these days, and I’d want to pull this in.

Bill Bryson’s African Diary (Bill Bryson) – It’s short, and it’s one of my favorite writers.

Our Endangered Values (Jimmy Carter) – I love Carter’s morality, and this seems to be the best synopsis of his thinking.

The Unfinished Presidency (Douglas Brinkley) – This one is *about* Jimmy Carter

Behind the Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics (Rich Whitt) – An investigative work on University of Georgia sports. Probably a bit dated.

10% Happier (Dan Harris) – Self-help-ish. Might depend on when I need the help.

It’s Football, Not Soccer (and Vice Versa) (Stefan Szymanski and Silke-Maria Weineck) – It’s funny how Szymanski writes such flawed stuff on blog posts and Twitter (and quit discussing it with me because he thought I was rude), but his books are essential.

How the Bible Changed Our Lives (Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor) – Yes, the Reduced Shakespeare Company guys. Started it, and it wasn’t bad.

Shredders! (Greg Prato) – Rock guitarists talking about how awesome other guitarists are. Might pick and choose a few.

Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck (Amy Alkon) – I remember being a little bleeping disappointed.

The Paradox of Choice: Why Less Is More (Barry Schwartz) – Interesting issue.

The Elizabethan Renaissance (A.L. Rowse) – How much academia can I read?

Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline (Richard Posner) – Good topic, but I have a negative impression of it.

The Prince (Nicolo Machiavelli) – I’m going to write a Machiavellian guide for something soon, so I figured I should read the original. I read enough to get the gist of it.

Journeyman: One Man’s Odyssey Through the Lower Leagues of English Football (Ben Smith) – Got partway into it. Surely a great idea that someone else can do better.

A Lawyer’s Journey: The Story of Morris Dees (Morris Dees) – I got it from the SPLC.

The Crusades: A Short History (Jonathan Riley-Smith) – It’s not short. It’s not interesting. I got it after Terry Jones’ mini-series (yes, the Monty Python guy) revved up my interest. This book did not build upon that.

Didn’t You Kill My Mother-in-Law? (Roger Wilmut, Peter Rosengard) – A history of British alternative comedy — think “The Young Ones.” It’s terrible.

Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer (Bill Bruford) – The retired drummer (Yes, King Crimson, etc.) got a Ph.D. after retiring and now writes in fluent academicese, which is not good.

Imagine: How Creativity Works (Jonah Lehrer) – It was recalled by the publisher over plagiarism issues, so … maybe not.

education, personal, Uncategorized

My college courses, if I could do it all over

Duke was a great experience for me … apart from the classes.

Perhaps that’s a bit harsh. I had some great teachers, but I had a lot of lousy ones. The academic advising wasn’t great except within the music department, from which I think I could have had many recommendations for grad school had I gone in that direction.

And it’s unfair to look back with regret in comparison to what Duke offers today. Duke now has minors or certificates that I don’t believe they offered in the past.

So the modern-day Duke experience is surely better for all. I hope the teachers are better. I know the course selection is better.

Let’s break down what I took …

WHAT I TOOK

Philosophy major

One note here: I only took two of the required eight classes by the end of sophomore year, when you’re supposed to declare. At the time, everything seemed fine. The classes were fine, and I had couple of solid B-pluses that I figured I’d pull up to As down the road. If I’d taken a third (not counting logic), maybe I would’ve realized this wasn’t for me.

  • Intro to Philosophy: required, and I had a good grad-student teacher
  • History of Ancient Philosophy: required, another good teacher (Michael Ferejohn)
  • Logic – required, easy A, took it in the summer with the late, great Rick Roderick, called “the Bill Hicks of philosophy”
  • History of Modern Philosophy – required, difficult. I made a C. Again, if I’d taken it sophomore year, maybe I wouldn’t have majored in this
  • History of Law – I fancied myself pre-law. This class, with a pipe-smoking drone teaching, may have talked me out of it. Had a solid B before I screwed up the final because I was desperately studying for the final in …
  • Symbolic Logic – This was a ****ing math class. A bunch of math majors were taking it to meet their humanities requirement. I sat there on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, not comprehending in the least what was being written on the board and not able to ask afterwards because I had a Chronicle budget meeting. Frankly, that was a better priority. No one in journalism cares that I made a C-plus in this class and probably should’ve done worse.
  • Philosophy of Music – Very cool class with another late, great professor in Ben Ward, whom I had met in my freshman dorm, where he lived as an Artist in Residence and frequently played his grand piano. I did a terrific final project on cassette, using audio clips to illustrate my points. One of two classes I took in my last semester while I was pulling about 50 hours a week at The Chronicle.
  • Plato – a 200-level class was required, and this was hard-core. I’d registered for a class on Hegel with Rick Roderick, but he had to change the time and day of the class, and I couldn’t make it. I quickly scrambled over to Dr. Ferejohn’s office. He said he remembered me from History of Ancient Philosophy (he probably didn’t) and would gladly sign off on my switch to this class. I’ll always be proud of the fact that I got an A-minus in a class that required serious scholarship in a seminar with a bunch of grad students.

Music major

  • Fundamentals of Music Theory: I hadn’t planned to be a music major, but I took this on a whim in my first semester and didn’t flinch when I discovered it had a lab component and didn’t give credit for it, unlike those wimps in science classes who get an extra credit for being lab. Rodney Wynkoop and my classmates encouraged me to keep going. I was hooked.
  • Tonal Harmony: Basically the second semester of theory, another class with Rodney, another solid A.
  • Modal Counterpoint: Considered the organic chemistry of the music major, with complex math involved. Started to sour on things here.
  • Tonal Counterpoint: Still difficult, but I liked this better and did better.
  • Composition: Took concurrently with Tonal Counterpoint. A two-person class — me and Joe Zellnik. Joe is a brilliant composer to this day. I’m not. Enjoyed it and learned a lot, but I realized my limitations.
  • Percussion (three semesters): Music majors have to study an instrument, and I enjoyed this quite a bit. Still playing drums to this day. Can’t store a tympani set at home, unfortunately.
  • Chamber Music (percussion ensemble): Thanks to the people who formed a percussion ensemble with me. This was fun.
  • Four freaking semesters of Music History: You don’t even get to Bach for a few months. Oddly enough, my lowest grade (B+) was in Music History III, which covered my favorite era of classical music. I think. I never listen to classical any more, and no, Music History IV didn’t cover the Beatles. 

Requirements

  • University Writing Course: Salem Witchcraft: I will one day sarcastically dedicate a book to the grad student who gave me inconsistent instructions and gave me a C-minus. I didn’t choose the topic, but I found it interesting. I also apparently contradicted the grad student’s thesis. I like to think I was right. 
  • History of Civilization: Intro to Art History: a backup choice in my first semester, and it couldn’t have gone worse. I took this after a PE class, so I raced from the PE buildings to the West Campus bus stop and immediately went into a dark room to look at slides. Along with the UWC above, I had really bad grades in my first semester and spent the rest of my time at Duke climbing into the middle of my class.
  • Empirical Natural Science: Astronomy – not bad, not exactly Neil deGrasse Tyson.
  • Foreign language requirement: Met with my achievement test in French, even though I couldn’t speak it to save my life.
  • LiteratureAP credit FTW, which is good, because I might have lost my mind in a Duke English class.

“Division II”

Not really sure what the “divisions” entailed, but we had to pick one in which we took four classes, one of them at the 100 level (at the time, slightly advanced — 200-level classes were for a mix of seniors and grad students). All I know is that I took a lot of history.

  • Two semesters of American history: AP credit FTW
  • Germany: 30 Years’ War-1871: Great professor in Claudia Koonz, who’s actually kind of controversial (I didn’t know Historikerinnenstreit was a word). The subject matter was kind of dull, but I learned how to do longer papers, which helped down the road.
  • Socialism and Communism: Blow-off summer class with Warren Lerner, who literally wrote the book on the subject. Not bad, and I don’t know why I only got a B-plus.

“Division III” 

I guess I needed two classes in another area of concentration, so I chose math and science-ish?

  • Calculus I: AP credit FTW
  • Calculus II: Grad student who struggled with English and didn’t get through all the material. This is on Duke. They should’ve done better. I actually didn’t need to take this. And I shouldn’t have. There’s no need to take second-semester calculus unless you’re going into engineering or something similar. See below.
  • Fundamentals of Computer Science: I didn’t think it was supposed to be an easy course, but when I saw a bunch of football and basketball players, I figured it might be pretty simple. It was indeed very easy, though we AGAIN didn’t get extra credit for the lab, but I learned quite a bit.

Electives

  • Three semesters of PE – Badminton/Racquetball/Squash, Endurance Swimming, Racquetball: Two of these were for fun. The third was gaming the system. You can’t apply more than two PE classes to your total number of credits for graduation, but I was way ahead on credits, anyway. The problem was that I wasn’t allowed to take an underload, and percussion was only a half-credit. So I took the third semester to give myself a full load, even though it didn’t count toward graduation. Loved the racquet sports. Hated swimming in a freezing pool.
  • Comedy: Theory & Performance – One of the freshman seminars offered second semester, and I was lucky to get my first choice. I ditched what the writing instructor had tried to teach me and went back to my old writing style. A LOT of reading dating back to Aristophanes, but I didn’t mind at all. The A-minus restored my faith in my writing ability. 
  • Advanced Intermediate French: I did OK, but I STILL can’t speak French.
  • Chemistry and Society: People joke about this, ranking it alongside “Physics for Poets.” Yeah, it was easy. So what? I learned more from this than I would’ve learned in a lab, suckers.
  • American Political System: Figured I needed another pre-law-ish class. Lecturer was pretty good, as was the TA who taught my breakout group. 
  • Introductory Psychology: Awesome, and not just because it was an easy A. Wonderful class to take in a breezy summer term.
  • Organismal/Environmental Biology: My dad was a biochemist, so maybe YOU were wrong on that test, grad students. 

So what did I like or find worthwhile?

  • Philosophy: Intro, Logic, 200-level
  • Music: Theory (2 semesters), Percussion, Composition
  • Science-ish: Computer Science, Psychology, Chemistry and Society
  • Humanities: Comedy

That’s it? Roughly 11 classes, adding together a couple of half-classes of percussion?

Yikes. Let’s try again …


WHAT I WOULD TAKE TODAY

I wouldn’t major in philosophy. I wouldn’t major in music, but the music minor (not available in those days, and yes, I love the fact that music has major and minor) appeals to me. I almost completed what you’d call a history minor today, but I don’t think I’d do that, either. (I loved my grad-school history classes, though.)

There’s no journalism major, nor would I take one. I could get a journalism certificate, which means I’d have a major, a minor (music) and a certificate. A major has at least 10 courses (12 plus an internship in Public Policy), a minor has at least five, and the journalism certificate has six. Yikes.

But it would make more sense for me to major in public policy, which offers a “policy journalism” concentration. (Or, as the Public Policy department calls it because they just have to be different, a pathway.) That would give me the flexibility to take journalism as far as I could and then bail into something useful like law. Besides, the certificate would require me to take “News as a Moral Battleground,” which doesn’t seem fun.

You can only apply two AP courses toward the 34 needed to graduate, though AP courses can knock out specific requirements. That’s four per semester, but I may do some extra stuff to give myself a chance to take an underload junior year to be Chronicle editor. Or managing editor — Matt probably would’ve been editor, as he was in real life.

Miscellaneous requirements: There’s overlap between the “Areas of Knowledge” (must meet five) and the “Modes of Inquiry” (six) — the same class can count for both. I’ll list the Areas and note which Modes are met along the way. I’d also need one seminar class freshman year (no problem), two more “small group learning experiences.”

The “Modes” are: Cross-Cultural Inquiry, Ethical Inquiry, Science/Technology/Society, Foreign Language, Research, Writing. All require two classes except Foreign Language (see below) and Writing (two in addition to the dreaded UWC).

I’m assuming classes for the major and minor count toward the Areas and Modes. If not, I basically wouldn’t have any electives outside the requirements.

Finally, two things I’d really want to do — take a stats course (required in public policy) and do an internship (also required in PPS).

Public policy major, basic requirements (9)

  • Introduction to Policy Analysis
  • Political Analysis for Public Policy: OK, maybe this is getting dull. (Writing mode)
  • Policy Choice as Value Conflict: I can sub in Global Health Ethics but probably wouldn’t (Ethical Inquiry mode)
  • Microeconomic Policy Tools: OR Intermediate Microeconomics I
  • Economics of the Public Sector: Typically taken senior year. Great.
  • Data Analysis and Statistical Inference: OR Probability and Statistical Inference. (Research and STS modes)
  • History: I’d have to choose from the list linked here. I’d lean toward the sports history class.
  • Internship: Apparently, Duke can now pretty much place people in journalism internships. Wasn’t so easy in my day. You have to take all “core” courses (the first five above) before doing this, so this would likely be between junior and senior year.
  • Independent studyAll sorts of possibilities here. In real life, I did a history of objectivity in American journalism in grad school.

Public policy electives / Policy Journalism pathway (4)

Four electives required for the major, all above 160 level, one at 400 level or higher. The pathway requirements aren’t really clear. I think this list is just suggestions. Hope so, because I’d really want to take the first three listed here, and none is 400 level. Bear in mind that my independent study would probably be journalism-related.

Some of my other electives farther below (Oral History, Data Visualization) would be journalism-related.

  • News Writing & Reporting: I’ve never considered myself a good reporter. Writer, yes. Gleaning info from data, yes. Reporter, no. This would help. I hope. (Research and Writing modes)
  • Journalism in the Age of Data: Gotta learn data. (STS mode)
  • The Art of the Interview: Cross-listed with Documentary Studies. 
  • Environmental Politics: Meets the 400+ requirement.

Music minor (6, including one from a set of electives and two above 213-level)

  • Theory and Practice of Tonal Music I: Required; basically my freshman theory course.
  • Music History III (Beethoven through WWI): Yes! Only ONE of these is required! (CCI and Research mode!)
  • Percussion (two semesters, each 0.5 credits): Fills performance requirement.
  • History of Rock: My choice from the set of electives. 
  • Writing about Music: Everything is journalism. Above 213-level. (Writing mode)
  • Theory and Practice of Tonal Music II: Sure, why not. Above 213-level
  • Could also take Wind Symphony and/or Marching Band for credit just to nickel-and-dime my way to a full class load.

General requirements (3)

  • University Writing Course: As long as I have permission to change teachers
  • Intermediate French Language and Culture: My achievement test (SAT II) score and AP score put me here. To meet the Foreign Language mode, you have to take three classes OR a 300-level course. (Duke has renumbered everything so that 100-levels are intros.) This is 200-level, so …
  • French for Current Affairs: Also meets seminar requirement and CCI mode.

That’s already 22 classes. For the Areas below, the number of parentheses is the number of credits I’ll get outside my major and minor. For example, I knock out Area 1 with my music minor, but I’ll also have an AP credit.

Area of Knowledge 1: Arts, Literature and Performance (1 non-major class)

  • English literature: AP all the way
  • (Music): Yeah, it’s covered.

Area of Knowledge 2: Civilizations (2)

  • American history: I could theoretically use both AP credits to take care of this. But I’d like to take another history, anyway.
  • Introduction to Oral History: Loved my oral history class in grad school. Would also meet my freshman seminar requirement IF I got into it first semester because it’s fall-only. (Research mode, seminar)

Area of Knowledge 3: Natural Sciences (2)

  • Chemistry, Technology and Society: It still exists! (STS mode)
  • Intro to Psychology: I can meet the Natural Sciences requirement with this? Oh, hell yeah! (STS mode)

Area of Knowledge 4: Quantitative Studies (2)

  • Foundations of Data Science: Computer Science class (STS mode)
  • Data Visualization: Found it on the journalism list.

Area of Knowledge 5: Social Sciences (2)

  • (Most of the Public Policy courses could meet this requirement)
  • Fantasy, Mass Media, and Popular Culture: Cultural Anthropology, cross-listed elsewhere, not always offered. Could also meet Civilization requirement, but I’ve got that covered (CCI mode)
  • Gateway Seminar – How to Do History: History department. (Ethical Inquiry and Research mode, seminar)

That’s 31 courses. I could only apply two of the three AP credits (calculus, English, American history) toward that total, so make it 30.

Four more …

Electives: 

  • Everything Data: 200-level computer science course; might be tough without a 200-level math. Could meet Qualitative requirement
  • Ethics and Philosophy of Sport: 300-level! (Ethical Inquiry and Writing modes)
  • Introduction to Philosophy: Could meet Civilizations requirement. (Writing mode)
  • PE: Can count two classes, each a half-credit. I’m thinking Tai Chi and tennis. They don’t do racquetball any more! 

So not much problem covering the Areas. Music and Public Policy knock out two of them, most history classes would take care of Civilizations, my two Natural Science classes are two that I actually took and enjoyed, and I’d take a couple of data-related courses to take care of Qualitative. I wouldn’t mind taking one more Arts course if they won’t let me count my music classes there.

Let’s make sure I’ve taken care of the Modes:

  • Cross-Cultural Inquiry: Music History III, French for Current Affairs, Fantasy/Mass Media/Pop Culture. Wow, little margin for error.
  • Ethical Inquiry: How to Do History, Ethics/Philosophy of Sports. Only two? Good think I’m taking the sports one!
  • Science/Technology/Society: All data and Natural Science classes. Easy.
  • Foreign Language: See above.
  • Research: I count five.
  • Writing: Too many to count.

So I’d consider that an improvement, though I’m a little iffy on some of those Public Policy classes.

 

 

 

 

 

politics, Uncategorized

We’ve listened to you. Please listen to us. (Part 1)

Let’s say at the outset — “we” and “us” are general terms. And no matter what the media (yeah, I’m part of it) try to shove down your throats, we’re not “polarized.” Things are much more complicated than that.

♦♦ We have evangelicals who are concerned about climate change, no matter how many evangelical preachers tell their congregations Trump is the savior and the Democrats are devils.

♦♦ We have a growing group that thinks Obama and the Clintons are too conservative, all tied to closely to Wall Street.

♦♦ Along those lines, a recent op-ed on curbing immigration was written by … Hillary Clinton.

“Left” and “right” doesn’t make much sense any more. Republicans have long ago tossed Reagan’s ideology out the window. It won’t be long before they burn down one of the two most prominent Washington-area things named after him — the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. (For more, see what Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, wrote last year.) On the other alleged pole, calling Obama and either Clinton “socialist” is a good way to make Europeans — and many educated and/or younger Americans — laugh or cry.

Cry? Let’s hang on to that for a minute.

One driving force — not the sole driving force by any means, but substantial — behind current political trends is the desire to afflict “elites.” These would be “liberals” who don’t care about or listen to anyone else’s needs.

And there’s a bit of truth to that. Have “liberals” been tuned in to people outside urban areas? Probably not.

So — point taken. “Elites” have been getting the message that they need to listen. Well, some of them. Some are clinging to stereotypes of their own, thinking Middle America is all racist and ignorant. But the 2016 election caused considerable fretting and hand-wringing that Democrats have been taking people for granted.

And in general, these “elites” you gripe about have empathy. And we’re concerned that empathy is declining.

The other thing we’re worried about is a lack of respect for facts.

That’s where we’ll start. The “elites” are listening. If you don’t mind, could we please have a turn speaking?

“Elites” aren’t who you think they are

Let’s look at the earnings in various professions. We’ll use Salary.com as much as possible for the sake of consistency. In some cases, I’ve included the “I” and “III” levels for a position to get a range of experience:

  • Chief Communications Officer: $212,300
  • Drilling Foreman: $108,100
  • Clergy: $95,800
  • Accountant IV: $91,344
  • Engineer III: $92,651
  • Engineer I: $66,655
  • Machinist III: $60,856
  • Aircraft and Power Plant Mechanic, Senior (high school education): $62,730
  • Assistant Professor – English: $58,861
  • Automotive Mechanic III: $56,700
  • Public School Teacher: $56,376
  • Plumber: $55,587
  • Carpenter: $54,423
  • Accountant I: $53,136
  • Staff Writer/Reporter III: $52,283
  • Entry Field Operator (mining, HS education): $47,700
  • Entry Geologist (mining, BA): $45,500
  • Academic Advisor: $46,102
  • Machinist I: $42,627
  • Staff Writer/Reporter I: $35,523

You may argue these professions are selective. But they should be enough to show there are plenty of “working man” jobs that are paid more than jobs that require college degrees. (And, therefore, college debt.) You can’t just assume college grads — in some cases, people with doctorates — are taking all the money you should be making.

mike

The people making money, of course, work in finance. Or they’re CEOs who make 4 zillion times more than you do.

And you don’t want to raise taxes on those CEOs? They’re the ones who are robbing you. Not college professors. Not journalists. 

What motivates college professors and journalists (and a lot of government workers who chose the public sector over private jobs that pay waaaaay more)?

Public service.

Empathy.

We’ll pick up from here …